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Knees-up

  Tue 3rd January 2012

To Silverdale, a village as pretty as its name, and my friends Steph and Tom's house. We go to the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival together but I've known Steph for many years. We met when I was employed as an interviewer for an academic who was writing an oral history of women's experiences of work during the Second World War, and Steph was a Lecturer in the same Department. The book was authored by Penny Summerfield, who, for the wrong reasons, deserves the unusual distinction on this blog of the use of her real name.

I enjoyed the work and I was good at it, both the interviewing, as I sat with beguiling elderly women who fed me endless cakes and scones while they talked, and the background research, writing footnotes to explain some of my subjects' references (the "Pilling Pig", for example - the now closed railway line between Preston and Knott End On Sea), and clarifying the pronunciation of proper names (so the village near Blackpool called Rawcliffe is "rake-ler", not "raw cliff").

The project ended and some time later the book was published. I was astonished to see that my name didn't appear in the acknowledgements. Whole paragraphs of that book were elicited by me. I only hope that it was a production error, although she's never been in touch to say this, neither did she bother to alert me to the book's publication.

Steph's invite to their conversazione untemptingly offered "gentle socialising" and "gluten-free snacks", but this turned out to mean a hectare of alcohol, several yards of delicious homemade food and an arty but unpretentious company. The children were low-key, unobtrusive, and autonomous; three very pretty early teenage girls, dressed in the cord pinafore dresses and thick tights favoured by the academic classes for their offspring, were the daughters of a magnetically beautiful woman who reminded me of Seriouscrush: slightly dark complexion, artfully untrammelled black hair; a woollen black and dark green knee-length dress with an attractively kitschy design of cats. Her English was just short of mother tongue. I hope she didn't hear my smitten involuntary sigh when she told me she was French. Her husband was the only person there who was difficult to draw out; I gave up with him after I felt like I was in a game of Twenty Questions.


I rang the doctor's this morning about my water on the knee. It's a recurring problem after I slipped on some ice last year and banged my knee hard on the pavement. I had to swallow a snort of juvenile, tactless laughter when the receptionist said "So that'll be 3.40 then, with Doctor Wong."

Tomorrow I have to be up at 5am to take Melanie to have her eye operation; then, hoping that I can stay lively enough for anything that might occur, I am off to Leicester to see Mary-Ann and stay overnight. She's engaged in diplomatic manoeuvres to park her teenage daughters elsewhere for the evening, but if that doesn't come off we'll go to a pub and embarrass the youth of Leicester with the sight of middle aged people pawing each other.

10 comments

Comment from: [Member]

You’re not a man, are you?

Tue 3rd January 2012 @ 17:06
Comment from: [Member]

I’m not sure what you mean, but I am both more and less of a man than those men who cleave to a Butlerian performance of masculinity as a subsititute for enjoying being male. Confounding them is nowadays less a source of mischievous pleasure, more a way of acquiring interesting friends. But if it’s a disguised compliment, then thanks!

Tue 3rd January 2012 @ 20:28
Comment from: [Member]

i wouldn’t say you’re not a man - but your attention to the tiniest detail of a womans attire is notable! i find it nice when a man notices when i’ve taken a bit more care with my clothing choices… and a teeny bit annoying when i’m channeling my inner bag lady and he notices that as well! happy new year!

Tue 3rd January 2012 @ 22:07
Comment from: young at heart [Visitor]

I have to admit, I don’t know what it was I read when I first started reading you ……. but I thought you were a lesbian……it was a bit confusing so then I read over the back-blogs and got it straightened out……makes more sense and is much funnier now!!

Tue 3rd January 2012 @ 22:50
Comment from: [Member]

DF: Thank you! And Happy New Year too. I bet your bag lady chic looks a lot better than most people’s stylish.

YAH: So I come across as a lesbian? No wonder I went for a decade without sex.

Tue 3rd January 2012 @ 22:55

Ha Ha, you lesbian you. Hidden and dark secrets.

But they do have a point. You have to learn to ignore the packaging and describe the meat.
Bouncy and taut?
Droopy but comforting?
Tight and bursting with exotic spices and unguents?

Best of Luck with Mary-Ann. If any pig-ignorant youth even tries to malign your mutual passion, just say “Try it in 20 years, acne-face, and see if YOU will be able to get it up”

Wed 4th January 2012 @ 05:58
Comment from: isabelle [Visitor]

Sometimes the comments on here are (almost) as funny as your posts. But I for one have never for a second doubted your gender or sexuality. And I’m so hoping you mean Butlerian in the Erewhonian sense.

Oh , and lots of luck and passion with Mary-Anne.

Wed 4th January 2012 @ 18:45
Comment from: nursemyra [Visitor]

the youth of Leicester have it coming….

Wed 4th January 2012 @ 20:46
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Daisyfae has it right, one of your defining characteristics as a writer- and one I always think would be the most unattainable for me, if I ever sought to emulate your style- is the way you introduce girls to us and bring them to life by describing their outfits. One sentence from you about a polka dot dress is enough for me to picture not just the dress but the person inside of it. If it was me I would think I was doing a fine job by even noticing she was wearing a polka dot dress.

Fri 6th January 2012 @ 22:11
Comment from: [Member]

TSB: Thank you - I couldn’t help but get some quite specific mental imagery from that comment and if any of those phrases pops into my head while I am in delicto flagrante with Mary-Ann I will sue you for Provoking Detumescence.

Nursey: As you konw by now, we didn’t have to find a bus shelter with a sparse service in which to carry on.

Isabelle: Sorry - I was thinking Judith more than Weedon(?). And thank you - more chapters of this to be written I hope.

J: That’s very kind. And I’m sure you’re a little more observant than that.

Tue 10th January 2012 @ 16:27


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