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In which my boyfriend and I are are split up - by a GIRL!

  Mon 10th January 2011

My first job, when I was 17, was publicity assistant at a local theatre. Rachel was the manager and used to take me in her car after work to see her favourite tree. It was awkward, as if I was expected to become part of her consciousness. We bumped into each other the other week at the railway station and arranged to meet up in that slightly obliged way you sometimes feel when you've pushed a conversation further than it should have gone.

In her modern flat, a smoke alarm beeped loudly at irregular intervals. Considering we had 30 years to go through, I found out little and I thought her quite guarded, so I tried to reflect her way of talking back to her: saying nothing more than I'd tell a stranger at a bus stop but making it sound confessional. There wasn't even the consolation of much drink: the bottle I'd bought went unopened while we made laborious progress through two glasses of wine. Afterwards, feeling a bit stifled by propriety, I was glad to find two good friends in the pub. We chatted in a way which Rachel would probably think vacuous.


Infinitely better was the soul weekender in Blackpool. I hadn't been away with these friends before and was slightly nervous as to how it would go. It went swimmingly, once we'd sneaked more people into the hotel room than its advertised capacity. No aggro, no girls being bothered, with everyone very polite, apologising for the slightest even theoretical shortcoming in meeting the highest standards of courtesy, as doors were opened, people waved first and priorities sorted out at the bar.

Blackpool Soul Weekender Jan 2010

At lunchtime, about thirty of us sat round and drank and chatted and watched Arsenal v Leeds on the TV, did the crossword in the most popular paper of the weekender, The Independent, or simply sat in a semi-meditative state: companiable company that asks nothing of you. After the footie I went to resume dancing and saw that the DJ had parked a pram next to the decks.

Blackpool Soul Weekender Jan 2010

I danced and danced and danced. Danced until my feet were throbbing with the soreness of sock-friction and the ache of my arthritic left big toe. Dancing comes naturally to me. I'm good at it and I don't think I'm ever as happy as I am on a dancefloor: the big rich sound of the music, your clothes, other people's clothes, the momentary blindness that the lights give you, the drugs, the colours, and most of all the myriad connections with people to whom you signal your recognition, very subtlely, kinetically. A girl started talking to me. Kev tactfully ambled off the dancefloor and the girl said "Oh, I'm sorry, have I annoyed your boyfriend?"

I got back on Sunday, everything feeling a bit sad. I had some homemade cheese and onion pie which tasted of metal. I went down the pub, hoping to meet someone to stop thinking about the weekend ending, found no-one, and came back and tried to drink the comedown away.

4 comments

Comment from: Tony [Visitor]

Sounds brilliant Cliff,I take it was in a large Blackpool hotel.
Would’nt have minded coming up myself.

Tue 11th January 2011 @ 21:57
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, it was at the Hilton on the prom. Just by walking in confidently and looking like guests we managed to snaffle a couple of nice big fry-ups in the morning too. Whole thing was totally brilliant.

Next one, give you time to plan a bit, is in Lytham St Annes in September. Info’s here but I’ll remind you nearer the time.

If you end up coming, we should nip out for a couple of hours because Lytham has a former finalist in the Lancashire Pub of the Year, The Taps, and another good real ale pub, The Station, situated just where you think it might be.

Wed 12th January 2011 @ 09:56
Comment from: Tony [Visitor]  

Bloody hell £75 for all of that its certainly cheap ‘Upp North’
Its our bowls final weekend but buggar it this sounds a lot better, dates in diary.
Will try and get my mate interested as well when he gets back from India.

Wed 12th January 2011 @ 23:18
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Brilliant, that sounds good. I’m trying to persuade Frances to come too because she likes that sort of thing. Let’s see if we can get a Hampshire-Lancashire co-production together!

Fri 14th January 2011 @ 10:22


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