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Blondy has just moved back to England

  Mon 1st October 2012

Erica texts, asks me what I'm doing. "Going down the pub with you. What else?" In the pub, she and Hubby are synthetically brightened. A fortysomething blonde wanders over to our table and makes an apologetic gesture. "No, no, park yourself here," I say.

Erica passes it to me with the usual clumsy attempt at sleight of hand that we all do; I go to the loo, and then come downstairs and chat to Blondy about our respective daughters, and schools. Unconsciously, I take a pint from the other side of the table. "Er... that's my partner's." Partner. So neutral, settled, unexciting. I apologise.

A man who could only be English--bald, fat, with a logoed T shirt pushed out to cover inadequately a beetling stomach--walks over and gives me a suspicious look; no attempt at conversation and there are no introductions, so I carry on talking to Blondy. We get on to the fact that daughters of both of us want to be actresses. Baldy breaks his silence to chime in with a pessimistic assessment of the likelihood of either child finding a place at stage school. Clearly, socially incompetent men who look like a sack of porridge in a football top are experts on the allocation of places for acting training in the Northwest. I have lost count of the times that a Lancaster man seems to take no other delight in speech than to dispel any optimism that threatens his customary and preferred state of immiseration.

Blondy and Baldy go off somewhere. Erica, Hubby and I get more and more sweary, lifted with a refresher. A friend who is finding it very diffcult to cope a couple of years after the death of his longstanding girlfriend joins us, and I'm aware of my selfishness about not really including him, a silent challenge to him to join in sufficiently forcefully. I can't tax Erica's hospitality any more so I say I'm going home to fetch my own provisions to share.

Half an hour later, Erica and hubby and my bereaved friend are nowhere to be seen. Instead, Blondy is still there, with a friend, and Slightly Coarse Man has turned up. Her friend takes against me almost immediately. "He's posh," she says to Slightly Coarse Man. "I prefer you," and we rearrange ourselves so that the two more compatible couples are together.

While Rude Friend is in the loo, Blondy alludes to herself and Baldy "having had words" but the sudden drop in her volume suggests I ought not to pursue the matter. "How's your night been?" she asks. "Yeah not bad--we're a bit, you know, speeded up." "Why, have you got some ----?" "No, not that. The poor man's version." She's confused. "What?" I spell it out. "Can I have some?" We conduct another hamfisted legerdemain. Blondy is drunk, telling me over and over again that one should never regret anything, as everything's a learning experience and that she's been living in Majorca for ten years.

As with many a poor drinker, the solipsism unleashed by alcohol is expressed in a self-regarding question. "What did you think of me, when you first met me?" "Chatty, friendly, short attention span. Thought you might be from Bury; your accent." She seemed happy enough with that, because we must never regret anything, as we can always learn from everything. She's only just moved back to England as she's been living in Majorca for ten years.

Blondy's friend starts talking about marriage. I say I don't understand it and how it seems a reckless thing to do and say to someone, although it's sometimes worth it for a good party; which, like almost everything I have said all night, she doesn't like. I try mollifying it, something she doesn't deserve, saying "Well, perhaps if you really believe it at that time, well, yes," and it thaws a little at the end.

Blondy thanks me profusely as though I'm a social worker. "You've really helped me, you really have." A big sigh and she changes direction suddenly. "All I want is a relationship--a close relationship, with trust." Oh fucking hell, we're not going to have tears now are we? I've really helped her, she's very grateful to me. I really have helped her, really. She doesn't know many people here because she's been living in Majorca for ten years.

They say they're going, which commences the protracted farewells of the drunk, every sleeve, every bag strap, every flappable thing, a puzzle. Blondy kisses me on the lips, turns in frustration at the intractability of her coat; she kisses me again. I go to Rude Friend and kiss her cooly on the cheek.

We watch them leave, look at each other, and sigh. "They'd be fucking hard work, them two," says Slightly Coarse Man.

At home, an email exchange with Trina is like a purifying draught. It starts when I ask her for some help with a couple of words I didn't know from a poem by Herrick, ("trasy" and "to mich") before she raises the game to a deliberately sesquipedalian pitch, serving some difficult backhands: "callipygean" defeats me, but I can see it coming in handy.


Locals! University Challenge, BBC2, 8.00 tonight. Lancaster v Pembroke College, Cambridge

10 comments

I just don’t know how you do it looby, but you seem to have an inherent ability to attract life’s loosers. I’m also surprised you didn’t attempt to get your leg over Blondie, as she was sending out all the correct signals.

Curving (female) buttocks are nice. Probably male buttocks are nice as well, but my polarity doesn’t have the filters to recognise that.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 10:04
Comment from: [Member]

It’s all interesting. I don’t want to have demandingly stimulating conversations with people who count themselves as “successful” (often not to my criteria) all the time. And the majority of the afternoon, with Erica, was really rollicking fun.

Blondy’s signals were at the polar opposite of what I might respond to. She was a poor drunk, self-absorbed, with nothing to contribute. She could have looked like a cross between Nigella Lawson and Abi Titmuss and I wouldn’t have found her attractive.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 10:12
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Partner. Horrible word. Puts me in mind of earnest HR sorts who call everybody by their first name, mixed with primary school PE.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 11:23

I haven’t participated in that dance for too many years.

That was a really nice piece! And I leaned a new word.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 11:54
Comment from: [Member]

oh, god, how i despise ‘drunk therapy’ – i’ve been on both sides of it, unfortunately, and when the tears start you’re just stuck.

and self-absorbed, high-maintenance, thick-skulled drunks are the worst. there was salvation in those e-mails. congratulations!

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 11:58
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Oh crikey… this has reminded me why I stay in with a nice cuppa tea and Strictly Come Dancing…
Sx

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 12:02
Comment from: [Member]

H: Yes, what a set of associations. Trina will never be my “partner".

UB: Thanks. I hope you might have occasion to compliment someone by describing her as callipgean.

DF: I relieved when she at least had the presence of mind to go home before the waterworks started.

S: Strictly and a cup of tea? Think I prefer pub bores! (Sorry about not having had you on the blogroll–apologies for that, as I do read you).

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 13:53
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

You do seem to line these people up. When I drank in pubs I never had conversations like that but then I avoided most people. However along with TSB I can’t believe you didn’t make a play but that no doubt says more about my fantasies than anything else! :-)

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 15:38
Comment from: Kolley Kibber [Visitor]

I would say ’sounds like you had a narrow escape’, but actually it sounds like you were all too aware of where that particular path could have led, and very sensibly decided not to tread there.

There’s a Blondy in every pub in the UK, probably.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 16:14
Comment from: [Member]

F: It’s all part of life. And the overwhelming majority of conversations I have in pubs are enjoyable and interesting. A lot of it was she can’t handle drink. She was more interesting when she hadn’t had so much. And I would never have tried to have sex with Blondy! Why would I. I’ve got a lovely girlfriend with big tits and big words. What a combo!

KK: It would have been a night of her blathering on endlessly about her problems, crying, drinking more, reminding me where she’s been living, and what her “philosophy” is. If I’m going to do that I want 30K / year plus double time for nights.

Mon 1st October 2012 @ 18:00


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


M / 58 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

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