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Domaine des Antonins

  Mon 23rd January 2012

Kitty came over on Friday. A few drinks in the Sun, then we went to see a play. We bailed out after a one hour forty first half. It was a student production, the lines were gabbled. Theatre-sleep made me nod and jerk my head.

In the interval the front of house manager chased us up. "No, we're not going back in thanks." We had a much more interesting chat in the bar with a couple we bumped into; like me and Kitty, close friends but not lovers. He was retraining to be a midwife. We compared notes, about how especially younger people, find it difficult to understand friendship between a heterosexual man and woman, wanting to shoehorn sex into it.

Kitty and I went back to mine and we ordered an Indian. At 11pm, on a Friday night, with no music playing, just two friends chatting in the kitchen, Stefan came down to shush us. "Can you please shut the door. I want to sleep."

The following morning I was up at 6.45 for the train to Leicester. I was anxious about leaving Kitty in the spare room, hoping Stefan wasn't going to be arsey with her.

"I'll show you the reservoir," Mary-Ann said. We got out of the car along a narrow road leading nowhere. The touch of her fingers on mine narrowed everything. Snogging as much as we could, given a birdwatcher with a long lens, occasional cars, and a young man on a motorbike.

We tried once or twice to get out during the weekend, but her youngest accepted both of Mary-Ann's suggestions of "a walk". A couple of pubs, but they're not Mary-Ann's natural habitat. In the second, "Earley reservations are reccomended" for Valentine's Day. I asked if there was anything "on draught" and the woman looked at at me as if I were stupid not to notice the Beck's or San Miguel. Mary-Ann's daughter dug about in her mobile phone for something more interesting than her mother and her lover's conversation.

We left and me and Mary-Ann got back into the car. Daughter was still outside. Mary-Ann said "We're going to be thwarted in getting some time in the afternoons" an instant before daughter appeared on the back seat. I felt watched. Any reasonable daughter would watch a new lover. Back at Mary-Ann's, I had a glass of wine from the bottle I'd bought from the local wine merchant, thinking it would be respectable to drink it over two days rather than the two hours it normally takes.

Whilst in town, we had a look at the most ridiculous piece of public sculpture in the whole of the Midlands. Called "Sock Man" in commemoration of the now extinct local hosiery industry, it was unveiled to much scoffing twelve years ago but has now won the locals over to the extent of it being an object of veneration.

Sock Man

On Saturday evening the girls at last retired, provisionally. With a cocked ear to potential interruption, we went from lust to sudden respectablity, according to Mary Ann's responses to her sonar. Kingly cats wandered about unconcerned. In my bed of propriety downstairs afterwards I felt luxuriously warm and fucked.

I lay down to a thwarted sleep. In the garden, and in my head, the jangle of wind chimes drove its pestering clang of timeless harmony and Tibetan sexlessness into my head, until I unlocked the door and fetched them in, stopping them onto the kitchen table like a shot cockerel.

The following evening we played rock paper scissors, and poker, me occasionally worried about whether I was performing as an acceptable lover in front of her children; far more, enjoying the game and Mary-Ann's pisstaking, head-cocking commentary on my failure in games of both chance and skill. We sat on the sofa with a cushion concealing our cunt- and cock-seeking hands, she marking her students' essays, me fluctuatingly attentive to a review of Jeanette Winterson's recent book.

This morning, all dead; I heard a creak of staircase padding and clicked awake, thinking one of her daughters was coming downstairs. Studiously asleep, I tried to control the flicker of my eyelids registering the standard lamp going on. A hand brushed through my hair. "Hello." It was Mary-Ann, poorly wrapped in a towel, hair soaking. We made an awkward arrangement of pillows for five minutes. "Next time," she said, "I think I'm just going to have to bite the 'sleeping in the same bed' bullet."

On the train back I was in First Class. I met a couple of former colleagues. The married Glaswegian woman who deliberately didn't notice my flirting with her five years ago, calculated correctly the age of my children. A train driver shook my hand and said he hadn't seen me for a while. "Where have you been [today]?" I asked. "On the simulator at Crewe," he said. "Is that it?" I said, "Well, I've never been a workoholic." We both smiled. "No, the job doesn't attract that sort." He said he was going to Fleetwood Beer Festival on Friday next. I wrote it on my hand. I want to keep in touch with this culture.


Comment from: [Member]

indeed. three visits? you get to move up to the big-boy bed!

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 01:07

Arsey? Is that a verb?

That all sounded very complicated, very adult and like it was a hell of a lot of work. It was so much easier when we were kids in the back seat of a car. Do you ever wonder if it’s worth the effort?

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 03:48
Comment from: [Member]

DF: Well, fingers crossed for next time.

UB: No, it’s an adjective :) but a very common slang word in Br. Eng. meaning deliberately awkward, pestering etc.

I don’t want very many more weekends where we have to outlast the children until we can have a snog, no. And having the youngest on our coat tails all the time, in the pub, on the walks, round the shops, was a pain. She’s just sussing me out I suppose.

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 07:42
Comment from: ISBW [Visitor]

She certainly IS sussing you out, isn’t she? She sounds very protective of her mother. And very tenacious. Which is fair enough, of course, but can be hard work.

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 08:20
Comment from: [Member]

M-A thanked me for my diplomatic efforts afterwards. It’s natural, if irritating.

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 08:22

A train driver shook your hand?
wow, impressed. Respect.

BTW, Kick the fuck out of Stefan, or give him an injection of Ethylene Glycol.

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 09:31
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

They have a train simulator!!! I want to have a go…

so sad - 50 year old kid and shows I’ve been married 26+ years if that is my highlight of that post!

Tue 24th January 2012 @ 10:11
Comment from: [Member]

TSB and F: Well I never thought I’d gain so much kudos simply by having worked with train drivers :)

Wed 25th January 2012 @ 07:53
Comment from: heybartender [Visitor]

Can’t you just ask Stefan to pay the heating bill? Tell him you’ll get the water and electric, maybe? Is he actually clueless or is he an asshole? I’m confused.

Thu 26th January 2012 @ 02:34
Comment from: [Member]

Oh God I don’t know, it’s so difficult. And I hate confrontations like this, I’m hopeless at them. I end up conceding everything.

Thu 26th January 2012 @ 10:00

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 59 / 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?
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I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
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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.
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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.
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The Comfort of Strangers

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