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Boring family

  Fri 26th October 2012

In the pub, Friday night, a sixtysomething woman was distractedly playing with her glass on a table by herself. I was reading the LRB, a tiring review of a book about one of my favourite novels, The Portrait of A Lady, one of those times when you feel both your enjoyment of and distance from, analysis. You're reading too much into it. She shuffled her chair towards my table and said "I'll just join you here if you don't mind," and introduced herself. "Of course you can, please do."

An acquaintance a couple of yards away nodded at me, tilting his head towards me and her. "You've pulled there," was the tittering suggestion, as if men and women can't just chat in a pub, with the added implication that our age difference meant I should shun her. Yeah well I don't envy you sitting there with your mute, suppliant wife.

We chatted about how people in Lancaster are unfriendly (as I think they can be), how Thatcher changed this country, and our mutual dislike of spiders. And then New Business Colleague walked in with two swollen heavy canvas bags and was heading to the bar. "NBC!" I shouted, and got him a chair at our table. "Sit down there. What do you want?"

Dorothy went to the loo. I said to NBC "Don't be unkind, I've just met her. I don't know her. She's alright." He sat down and looked at me then away with the unconcern that you would have from a fortnight of exhausting work. "Lager," he said. "Stella." He's so much nicer a person when he's not pretending to big himself up. I talked about about being arty farty in Walsall (he's from not far from there), his dangerous, vertiginous work, and how I know him because his sexy wife is an old classmate of mine. He went to leave and I put my arm round his waist. "I need to have a chat with you, you know."

Dorothy wanted to buy me another but I had to get home, which is where I am now, because a relative of Kirsty's is arriving from the shallow heart of the deep South in half an hour, to stay with her for three days, bringing her noisy sons and her self-obsession and never asking us any questions about ourselves. It's hard work for Kirsty and the girls. Can you not try to show a bit of interest in someone else for a change?, except that she would do for a minute, reminded of a dimly remembered moral obligation and highly profitable conversational gambit, and then carry on in exactly the same vein.


Trina wriggled and snored. I'm tired in the morning after a night constantly awoken by her fidgeting and her low frequency roaring through which she sleeps in unawareness. But we'll work it out. She's got a nice arse which she presents to me curvily at night. I like fucking her, and we've only just started.

I like walking round with her in the hedonistic gleam of Booths in Garstang, the fundamental pleasure of food arrayed in tidy aisles and glossy cabinets. I was flat after being with Kim and our sex wasn't as good as it can be, but I like the evenings of wine on the boat, letting my eyes drift into soft focus at the candlelight in the way you do with a coal fire, and chatting with her without having to think.

10 comments

You should record her snoring! Do you keep your mobile phone by your bed? I’ll bet she’d laugh and laugh! Or you can wield it as a cruel weapon in the event you break up. Kristy’s sister sounds like a LOT of New Yorkers I know. Astonished to find there’s life outside their vacuum.

Sat 27th October 2012 @ 23:19
Comment from: [Member]

She’s aware of it, and I don’t want to rub it in by recording her, even though I know she doesn’t realise how loud and what an ugly sound it is. Snorers have snoring as a concept, not an experience. It’s a shame really because it’s going to mean me getting out of bed once the sex is over to go to another room, and ideally one would like sex and the togetherness of sleep to flow seamlessly into each other.

Sat 27th October 2012 @ 23:32

I’d be very careful if I was you. She’s obviously an undercover operative from the Lancashire Drug Squad, tracking NBC’s latest production run.
Hedonism in Garstang? Don’t they still put you on the ducking stool for that?

Sun 28th October 2012 @ 04:46
Comment from: [Member]

Mmm. Never thought of that. That “going to the loo” line she pulled now sounds a bit more sinister.

Hedonism in Garstang involves sliding into a freshly-ironed pair of slacks in order better to enjoy the breathtaking pleasure of signalling bridge hands to one’s partner by touching each others’ feet under the table, which has in the past resulted in some spectacular spillages of port.

At other times, Garstang life drifts soporifically along. The local newspaper (as I photographed on this blog a while ago) recently had a front page story about a farmer’s daughter getting into midwifery school.

The District Chamber of Trade and Commerce laments: “The stocks were destroyed by fire in 1939 whilst in the loft of the Old Town Hall. What a pity we now do not possess them as they would be perfect for dealing with modern day hoodlums!”

Sun 28th October 2012 @ 12:25
Comment from: Kolley Kibber [Visitor]

My sympathies to Kirsty and the girls. There is a surfeit of solipsists in this part of the world. I’d go as far as to suggest it is the most narcissistic town in the UK.

Mon 29th October 2012 @ 18:20
Comment from: [Member]

My mum’s family are from L–es for generations and most of them still live there, and when K got a job down there and we found a great flat in the North Laines, I was really looking forward to all the music and dancing.

What a disappointment though. The pubs are great, but everyone’s just locked into their own little groups, ostentatious little loved-up dyads, or work outings. I don’t like Brighton. It’s a conservative place where people go to be with others like themselves.

Mon 29th October 2012 @ 19:41
Comment from: [Member]

my ex-husband was a snorer - it was always worse if he’d had some beer before bed. unfortunately, he was also VERY quick to fall asleep. he’d be sawing logs within seconds of getting into bed, and i’d lie there awake and getting frustrated… never did come up with a solution, as me kicking him in the shins until he’d wake enough to shut the fuck up wasn’t really helpful, although it worked in a pinch…

Tue 30th October 2012 @ 02:39
Comment from: [Member]

There’s no solution really, especially as we both like our wine before we go to bed. She tells me to poke her to wake her up but that’s no good because within two minutes she’s back with the foghorn turned up loud enough to alert all shipping between here and the Isle of Man.

Tue 30th October 2012 @ 10:48
Comment from: Sarsparilla [Visitor]

There is a solution - two. But unpleasant for you or her. For you: earplugs - proper wax ones. For her: get tested for sleep apnea. If it is, it could change her life, but she’d have to wear a mask to sleep for the rest of her days.
Totally agree with you about Brighton. And I do find that leftwing types tend to use the phrase ‘like-minded’ as a discreet social code to indicate their desire to exist inside these closed circles.

Mon 12th November 2012 @ 00:38
Comment from: [Member]

I’m not sleeping with a woman with a mask on. I would never ask her to do that. And it’d kill the sex. I didn’t know about wax earplugs–thanks, I might give them a go.

All classes police themselves and use talk as a way of establishing the limits of their social boundaries. It’s up to reckless nutters like you and me V to ignore all that crap :)

Mon 12th November 2012 @ 01:10


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There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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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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