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Pity me

  Tue 7th May 2013

I was appointed Presiding Officer (how grand) at a rural polling station about as distant from Lancaster as it's possible to be without straying into Westmorland. Trina drove me there at 6am on polling day.

Spending fifteen hours in a stranger's company, with no breaks for meals, can be a bit testing, but my poll clerk was a retired policeman with whom I've worked before, keen to share stories from his days as a Superintendant. As in many men's anecdotal conversation, his rhetorical trope was one that involved an assertion of authority, in a way which bends the rules slightly, and which results in the other party giving in by way of not knowing what to say in the face of such a cheeky but powerful flourish.

It was a beautifully situated Station, surrounded by fields and with a view of Ingleborough from the kitchen. We could sit outside much of the time, and I read most of Rose Tremain's The Road Home, mystified why such a straightforward tale told in unremarkable prose, using a small vocabulary, had won the Orange Prize. I can only assume that a story of a struggling but eventually successful immigrant taps into liberal sympathies towards the virtuous outsider that are privileged over considerations of style and invention.

At the end of the poll, Plod was rushing me to get the paperwork finished and due to his haste there was a minor administrative detail which went wrong. I resented this; I have been favoured with more and more work over the years, because I believe I have never made a mistake in any of my Stations' accounts; to hell with "getting away quickly".

The caretaker came to lock up, Plod drove off to his barn conversion, and there was ten minutes in which I felt the guilt that comes from standing alone, absurdly, with a packed up polling station next to me, in the middle of the countryside. My friend arrived to take me and the paraphernalia back to the "leisure" centre where we were to count the votes the following morning. She rolled up a spliff, which heightened my usual nervousness about being in a car.

The highlight of the count was the Conservative candidate in my Division being announced--as all candidates are--surname first, as "Hill, Billy" (and that he came a poor third).

From there, it was straight to Kim's amusingly-named village. It's an anglicisation of petit mere, little lake. The lake's long gone and the village we see today was built on an exhausted coal mine, which made me wonder whether the house was going to collapse any minute.

I am smitten with Kim, in that chaste way that I am good at creating. "You are beautiful, sexy, witty and intelligent," I told her at one point. She had on a tight thigh-length blue dress, brown calf-high boots and black tights. She looked gorgeous as she bent over the table to hoover up a white line, the dress stretching round her arse and arcing across her thighs; I told her so, without the detail you lucky readers enjoy. Feeling her next to me in the bed, her little murmurs and sighs and shifting about, was a delight.

On Sunday we slowly got ready for a dance do in Newcastle which was given top billing on the Guardian's clubbing section that weekend. That should have been the first sign that all would not be well. It was the least enjoyable dance event I have ever been to, second only to the time in King's Cross twenty-odd years ago when two rival drug gangs had infiltrated a club I was in. It was an open air cesspit, a piss-wetted, bottle-strewn area where we were kettled with music. Crowds swarmed round the completely inadequate toilets, and we were not allowed to go out.

Kerry Chandler's set was dire, a stop-start series of off-the-shelf clichés, all whooshing and sirens increasing in frequency. Constantly jostled, nudged and simply pushed out of the way, I finally gave in after an hour and a half when a drunk girl fell over heavily right next to us. "I'm not really enjoying this Kim. Do you think we could do something else?"

The way she transformed the evening was almost miraculous. "Let's see if my brother and M--- want to go kite flying." We bought a bottle of cheap sherry, and took the rest of the port and a few bottles of beer. Her relatives were easy company, accepting me straight away. Kim's little niece ran about with the kite, wringing out every bit of energy left in the dusk, while in the intervals between helping her, the adults swigged the booze.

Her brother bought a case of lager and came back to Kim's, where we had an evening which was almost delirious at times with Trevor's sudden, irreverent, sweary jokes. "I love you," I told her, and kissed her while he was out of the room.


Did the position pay well? Hope you picked up a few bob for your trouble.

All these wonderful, pastoral descriptions and no photo!? Feh.

What a self-defeating name for a town. That’s fantastic. I approve. Feel like I came from there, actually.

I wish I could see pics of all these women you discuss.

You sound like you were on ecstasy.

Tue 7th May 2013 @ 12:26
Comment from: [Member]

a) Very well paid (well, by my modest standards anyway). It covers my contribution to the costs of the annual family holiday in Brittany with Kirsty and the girls.

b) The best pictures are in your head.

c) Great isn’t it! Thought you’d like it.

d) I refer the reader to para. (b)

e) Erm….

Tue 7th May 2013 @ 16:52

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

M / 60 / 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.
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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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The Comfort of Strangers

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