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Clonk

  Fri 1st February 2013

Back at my house, we had a few drinks (I couldn't fuck her, which I think was her plan), and then to my relief and pleasure, she suggested going out.

We walked into the [pub] and I realised I'd forgotten that it was the launch night of the Dark and Winter Ales Festival, which brightens Lancaster every February. We stood at the bar all night chatting to various of my friends and a couple we know from the wine club, the woman of which was wearing a grey wool-ish dress with a red hem. Her dress stretched over her black-tighted thighs as she sat cross-legged next to me. Trina wanted something light and blonde, then decided to join l'esprit du soir and had a half of the Old School Brewery's Governers' Porter. "Oh," she said. "that's delicious," and went on to have three pints of it.

One of the librarians at the Uni came up to us. I introduced Trina as my girlfriend. The Librarian said "I've never seen you so happy," which struck me as unfounded and possibly ingratiating. It was well-meant, but she'd only had a couple of minutes to assess the extent of my "happiness". I'm not interested in being happy, or being in love. Both feel like a form of work.

The Librarian was being uncharacteristically open, perhaps enjoying Trina's assumed womanly sympathy, in saying that she hadn't enjoyed much of the past decade being alone. We both urged internet dating on her. "I got her off the internet," I said, jerking a sexist thumb at Trina. I like being sexist in my language when talking to people who aren't close to me.

"Your article's been published in the [local real ale magazine], you know," said the Librarian. I'd forgotten I'd submitted it and was selfishly eager to see it. I've posted my copy of the actual magazine to Kim, with a note attached saying "Page 9, second paragraph X"

Newcastle: In the beautiful station bar, a pub held back from greatness because of the canned music and TV screens, they've moved the real ale pumps to the fringes of the bar, promoting the lagers to centre stage. But still, it's somewhere where they don't mind my children. My girls are civilised teenagers (it's their Dad you need to keep an eye on), yet we are barred from socialising as a family in Ember Inns, Wetherspoons, John Barras and many other chains without ordering "food", as if a reheated ping-ping oven meal might turn me into a more conscientious father.

Durham: I struggle with a bus driver's accent, and follow his directions to the pub more from his gestures than his words. She walked into The Colpitts looking as tall, confident, sexy and dangerous as she ever was, wearing a red and white check cotton thigh-length dress with little bows on the sleeves and at the back of her waist. The lone middle-aged men looked almost shyly down when she clonked erectly to the bar to ask the barmaid if she could close the window. The Sam Smith's Stout is refreshing, and the conversation flows with a sociability that many pubs claim without possessing.

Ormskirk: A town which doesn't know whether it wants to be posh or common, seems to be aiming at that specialised niche market of visitors who like to be drenched in canned music. It's in the café where we have lunch, it's in the precinct, and The Buck I'Th' Vine, an old pub built for sociability, is now run by someone who pumps rock music into every room and into the garden. Urgent but silent bulletins of destruction, death and mendacity (i.e., "the news") glare from TV screens. In the Queen's Head, the men round the bar display the most distinctive characteristic of Scousers after their accent: thinking their banter funnier than it is. Even in the farthest corner of the garden, someone informs us repeatedly that he is nark nark narking on heaven's door, while we try to enjoy the Pheonix beer.

Burscough: The place oozes Conservatism. Wooden signs in the gardens of detached houses built on what was a green belt complain about the threat to the green belt. Of course, the homeowners wouldn't vote for any party interested in the things they are complaining about. Plumply busty middle-aged women in billowing blouses get out of the car before men in beige slacks, both beaming like a couple glad to have found each other: clothes by Ethel Austin, politics by Margaret Thatcher. In the Hop and Vine, the Burscough beers are the best of the day, and in the garden, we find the first place without canned music.

In Lancaster, I sat outside the White Cross (for reasons you might now guess) with a gorgeous Lytham Dark, glad to see that at least one pub knows that a Stout is not just for Christmas.

8 comments

I am such a fucking lightweight. If I drank three pints I’d be under the table. It’s a constant source of embarrassment.

My God! Someone compliments you’re demeanor and you get all defensive and analytical about the definition and desire for happiness. You’re such a hard ass. Who did it to you, pal?

Well done on the published piece.

Fri 1st February 2013 @ 11:41
Comment from: [Member]

She doesn’t know how me and Trina are together–less than anyone who reads this blog, for example–and I was a bit riled by her expressing a conventional congratulation on her pleasure at seeing two people conforming to her idea of how happiness is to be found–in a heterosexual “couple", without knowing anything about how we behave and what we do with each other.

Fri 1st February 2013 @ 21:55
Comment from: [Member]

Actually that does sound a bit misery-gutsy. :)

Sat 2nd February 2013 @ 09:23
Comment from: young at heart [Visitor]

yes……defensive-knee-jerky-over-eactionary-misery-gutsy…..we’ve been here before no??

Sun 3rd February 2013 @ 17:28
Comment from: [Member]

Not drinking enough, obviously.

Will attempt to be less miserable in 2013.

Sun 3rd February 2013 @ 18:14
Comment from: isabelle [Visitor]

Hey, I get where you’re coming from…..someone who doesn’t know you too well professing enthusiasm and interest a little too profusely; it can really get my back up . ( I’m probably also a misery-guts )

Oh, and I hate TV’s on silent too. There is something terribly foreboding about them I think.

Wed 6th February 2013 @ 20:19
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Very, very odd dream that you turned up here with your quadruplets toddlers who you washed in my en-suite basin, then threw a bit of a strop in a gift shop because a woman was rude to you.

Thu 7th February 2013 @ 08:09
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks Isabelle. How does she know whether I’m happy or not? We could be in the middle of a month of domestic violence for all she knows.

H: A basin with a toilet in it? Crikey, you must have a big house.

What a funny dream though!

Thu 7th February 2013 @ 23:03


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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.
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?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
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John Whale

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.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

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