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In which looby gets agreeably stuck in Hexham

  Tue 4th January 2011

Sherry, I have decided, is an unfairly maligned drink. Seriouscrush got me a bottle of the posh stuff, Manzanilla, which was lovely, although I preferred my El Jerez Economico de Spar.

Christmas itself went very well. I enjoyed being with Kirsty and the children. I'm happy to be a father now. I'd never have said that two or three years ago. The other day my daughter Jenny, aged 12, income, £2/week, asked me what I'd like for Christmas. Trying to think of something in her budget, I said a ruler. On Christmas Day, a scratched secondhand 6" ruler from her own pencil box turned up wrapped under the tree.

After Christmas I went to my parents' in Middlesbrough and braced myself for a few days of sobriety and politesse, as no-one drinks, swears, takes the name of Our Lord in vain, or makes jokes about the things worth making jokes about. Although we did nothing but sit around, everyone was chatty and in a good mood. But I couldn't help looking forward to my escape after a couple of days. I wanted to escape the stifling central heating, which my parents have turned up to simulate a summer afternoon in central Africa, but mainly because my Dad's getting more and more difficult.

My brother, philosophy teacher in a secondary school in Australia, was being interestingly enthusiastic about re-reading An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding and thinking about how he could teach free will and determinism to 11-year-olds. My Dad cut in about the trouble in Korea. We stopped our conversation, turned to his topic, and he said that the Russians were behind it all, and "it'll be those Jews with all their money."

Later, and coming downstairs after looking at some photos with my sister's boyfriend, I took a free seat next to him and he immediately said "I don't talk to you." Perhaps he felt aggrieved that I hadn't paid sufficient attention to him, but it's quite difficult to thread a normal conversation through the weave of his blokey humour, his anti-Semitic remarks and his idiosyncratic take on world events. Everyone pretended they hadn't heard it and started talking again. Esther, my sister-"in-law" said that he's often been very rude to her so at least in that respect he doesn't discriminate.

Me and my sister were talking about it in the kitchen when they'd gone to bed. She said that he's getting more paranoid. He's by my Mum's side all the time and thwarts her every attempt to have a minute or two to herself. He tags along with every little escape bid to the Post Office or greengrocer. He's completely dependent and will fall apart if she dies first. Just before I left, my Mum, in front of everyone, said "Do you like coming here, looby?" "Yes, of course I do," I started. "Of course he's not going to say he doesn't like it," said my brother's wife. I felt like an inanimate specimen being talked over.

The Tap and Spile, Hexham

On the way back I missed one train accidentally and two more deliberately whilst in a lovely pub in Hexham. Being on my own, a still atmosphere, the local ale, people chatting sotto voce.

4 comments

Comment from: Sarsparilla [Visitor]

I think, in my personal unsubstantiated experience of ageing, that increasing paranoia and dependency are what the future holds for old chaps, generally. At least if my old dad is any indication.

Good to see the blog back.

Tue 4th January 2011 @ 15:07
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you. Yes, just a mental straw poll here too but I think women handle it better. Men aren’t half as resilient and independent as they make themselves out to be at the best of times.

Tue 4th January 2011 @ 15:15
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

I think what I find most pleasing in this post is the employment of the word ‘politesse’. If this is what happens when you start dedicating your spare time to the works of Claude Chabrol then I’m all in favour of it.

And I also think from the sound of it those pints in Hexham were particularly hard-earned, I hope you enjoyed them as much as I imagine you did.

Fri 7th January 2011 @ 23:18
Comment from: [Member]

Yes I’m quite enjoying our Chabrol season - you get more out of it when you see a particular film in context with all his other work and I enjoy the post-film hands-on workshops.

Happy New Year to everyone Chez Abeille.

Mon 10th January 2011 @ 11:12


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M / 56 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.


There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

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