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The Empty Quarter

  Thu 27th September 2012

I ventured into the Empty Quarter yesterday--the silent flatlands between Leyland and Southport--and had a too short afternoon with Trina in Croston, a village which is still pretty even with its lines of sandbags along the streets. I phoned ahead to make sure the Yarrow hadn't broken its banks again, but the landlady of the Grapes assured me that rubberwear was entirely optional.

I was glad when the train arrived at Croston; it meant I could stop reading this month's book club choice, Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog, with its colourless prose and Radio 4-in-the-afternoon humour. "He had tried zipping the dog inside his jacket but it made him look as if he was pregnant. Not a good look. Not on a man anyway." It's like reading a digest of Facebook comments.

On the pavement of the main road, a stray hen pecked her way through some rotting windfallen pears. In the last of the pubs, after Trina had left, there was merry craic and some speculation about why I'd come to Croston to do my courting. As one of the inquisitive blokes was leaving, he bid farewell to each of us, and extended his hand towards me.

"Where are you from anyway?"


"What are you doing here?"

"Seeing my bird."

"Who is she?"

"I'm not fucking telling you that!"

"We'll find out--it's a village!"

On the deserted single platform at Croston station, a beautiful gunmetal dusk over the saturated flat fields, a gloss of sunset on the long crystal palaces of nurseries; busy avian chatter. I texted Trina to tell her that I think she's beautiful. In the far distance, the headlights of the train glossed closer.


I just finished a god awful book that was actually a Pulitzer finalist. Why do I persist with terrible literature? You’re obligated because of a book club but I had no call to continue to the bitter end but I did, anyway.

I love the pic and the exchange with the local. Nice little slice-o-life in my morning.

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 12:16
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, I read your post about it. Kate Atkinson turns my brain to mush.

And thanks!

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 12:20
Comment from: heybartender [Visitor]

“It’s like reading a digest of Facebook comments.”
Hilarious. I’m going to use that.

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 17:37

Nice story Cliff, The Grapes looks so very English, nestled into it’s surroundings. Good beer?

Actually you mention at the end of texting Trina to express your appreciation of her beauty, and that’s what worries me.

How much emotion are we allowed to pour into a text message?

At what point does it become imperative to switch to voice contact?

I’m still relatively new to this txting game so would appreciate guidance on the new social mores from you more experienced philanderers.

BTW If you look at Google maps for Croston, they’ve got the grapes in the wrong place.

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 18:06
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks J. BTW, I’ve given up commenting on your blog as my comments never get through to you for moderation, as we;ve discussed before. But just to let you know I read everything, even if it is without visible feedback.

TSB: Apostrophes, Sgt., aspostophes!

Beer in the Grapes was good without being outstanding but Croston’s a great place to drink and the craic in the last one, the Lord Nelson, was great.

Texting–you can make an advantage of the distance that texting affords. Sometimes, as with Denise, (a cock-hardening voluptuous redhead lovely-arsed pencil-skirted sex kitten with whom I will never have physical sex), it gives you the chance to be more explicit than you would be in real life – not out of using text as a shield, but for concrete reasons–in my case, because I’m old enough to be her dad and she has a boyfriend, I’m with Trina, and our friends would never get on with each other. It’s a form of play without having to do anything about it.

I never rely on Google maps. is better since they just copy OS maps and road atlases.

Sorry to go on.

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 18:41
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

Can’t comment keeps saying illegal content

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 20:12
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

So I can say that not what I want… what the hell!

The huge sign ruins the view!

Stupid spam filter!

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 20:13
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Emotionally Weird is one of the few books I gave up on halfway through.

Thu 27th September 2012 @ 20:48
Comment from: [Member]

Sorry Furtheron. I’m having a lot of trouble with the comments lately. Could you send the comment to me and I’ll try to find out what’s wrong?

H: Glad someone else has trouble with her. It’s like being collared by the pub bore who’s got a “funny” story.

Fri 28th September 2012 @ 04:55
Comment from: [Member]

always delightful to learn that the rubberwear is entirely optional. enjoyed this post - for the photo, and the scenes generated through the words…

Sat 29th September 2012 @ 00:16
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you DF. Just come as you are.

Sat 29th September 2012 @ 02:40
Comment from: Sarsparilla [Visitor]

I was also forced to read Kate Atkinson by a book club. These days, they know not to foist such stuff on me, I’ll only spoil it by turning up and explaining why it is godawful cack.

Tue 23rd October 2012 @ 23:18
Comment from: [Member]

I’m putting a ban on KA ever being in my house again. I’ve add her brain-sapping crap to the charity shop pile.

Wed 24th October 2012 @ 12:05

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