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Lancashire is better than Ibiza

  Wed 27th November 2013

The second evening of my weekend with Kitty and Nikki started grimly.

I turned up at the pub to find them sitting outside. Someone wanted to smoke, so the rest of us had to shiver. Rain dripped into my soda water. I could feel myself coming up on the catnip and was pissed off, thinking that it'd be wasted; even catnip can't burnish the wet cold of a Lancashire November, nor can it perfume the acrid drifts of fag smoke.

At last, we moved onto a much better pub and settled in front of the log fire. The drug threw off its reins, and so did the evening. Afterwards, at someone's house, I got talking to a 50-year-old woman who was telling us how went on her own to Ibiza, and was the butt of countless ageist remarks: "What you doing here, Granny?" How Ibiza has changed. Now, it's all booze and coke, full of young people policing the dancefloor.

Kitty took great exception to being described as "a Lancashire lass". I think I know what she meant--it conjures up images of a brawny fishwife stirring vats of pigs' blood to make the black pudding. She seemed to have it in for our host, who adroitly made her accusation that he was "soft on the outside, hard on the inside" into the running joke of the evening.

At one point, late on, I saw Ibiza woman go to dance, check herself, and sit down again. How I wish I had leapt up at the same time. We talked instead, and I was trying to sell her the places I go out dancing. I gave her my email address, hoping we could meet again on a dancefloor, but in somewhere cultured, like Leyland.


I rang Trina to tell her about a potential new lodger (it fell through, unfortunately). She said that she'd just got back from looking round a home in which to put her increasingly demented Mum, but had had a change of heart about dispatching her there, saying she wouldn't be able to cope with the feeling of having abandoned her. She went through the alternative plan, which would be for her brother to do a bit more in terms of looking after her in the family home.

This apparently innocuous plan then lurched into an alarming sentence. "So that'd mean we could have four days a week together!" she said brightly.

I was speechless for a moment. "Yes!" I said, trying to mirror her vivacity. Sensing that I was dissembling, she mentioned how we would "of course" pursue our own interests in this time. What Trina sees as an opportunity to deepen our relationship, I see as deepening our involvement with the banal.

I don't want to spend any time, at all, with anyone, without a plan for mutual enjoyment. There are several options available with Trina, involving dancing, sex, drinking, a film, a concert, and so on, but I don't want to "spend time together", relying on our own resources. The verb is apt in this case, with its overtones of waste and ennui.


No such gloom yesterday. In the marble and wood splendour of the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square, we were offered dozens of wines, from small, independent producers, normally inaccessible to me, as the trade prices--before any kind of retail or restauarant mark-up--ranged from from nine to forty-five pounds. They pour them by holding only the base of the bottle, and you proffer your glass, tilted. Trina jabbed her elbow into someone's tits, which sparked off a chat that had little to do with wine.

I thought I'd feel like an imposter, a fraud, aware of my class position. I was afraid that this sense of inferiority would come out in over-laughing and rocking on my heels, subconciously fawning in front of a proper wine merchant; but in fact no-one seemed to mind that we were dilettantes from a small wine club in Lancashire. If anything, they were interested and grateful that we'd travelled so far.

My favourite was a Petit Verdot, made by a female winemaker whose tiny production amounts to three barrels (i.e. 1500 litres in total) per vintage. It's not available in any shop, anywhere. Unfortunately we couldn't run to the £300 it would have cost to buy a case.

I still can't get past my idea that good Chardonnay smells of fart, though.


London fashion observation du jour

Floppy wide-brimmed hats on women. On the tube last night, I noticed three separate women wearing them. They're a bit bigger and looser than the borsolino hats Hipster Yaya mentioned the other day. I think they're just ace. And I'm not sure how they achieve this effect, but they're quite sexy too.

24 comments

The Trina carousel spins round and round. I think I know where it’ll stop but I won’t say because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

How incredibly nice that you weren’t made to feel out of place at the wine fête. That’s usually my overwhelming sensation as well.

Do you know what fashion styling has returned here in America? The off-the-shoulder Flashdance sweater. It only succeeds in making me feel dated. (See how I made it about me? That’s my talent.)

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 14:56
Comment from: [Member]

My guess: we’ll end up living together, and very soon, it will all go crashingly wrong. I have a visceral, absolute refusal and dislike of sharing myself with someone else to that degree of physical and emotional proximity. The latter’s easy, since I lack the love gene; but to be forced into the same house as a lover—Lord, spare me from that one. And yet it has an air of inevitablity about it.

Well done for the circumflex in your fête. I discovered a few months ago that AltGr + @ + the relevant letter produces a circumflex over that letter. All European diacritical marks are possible in a similar manner. Handy eh?

The Return of Flashdance style? Oh no—you can keep that on your side of the pond, thanks very much!

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 16:05
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]  

I’m not seeing the hat thing much in London where I work but maybe that’s cos I’m down with the hoi polloi not snobbing it with wine buffs in embassies ;-)

Shame as I think on the right woman they look very sexy. I actually like the winter more than the summer - in the summer the number of attractive women with something worth looking at is vastly outweighed by the amount you see thinking “You seriously should have chosen something to cover you up a bit more me dear” and also the extra covering creates more mystique and allure I feel

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 16:16
Comment from: [Member]

Yeah well, living in Medway, style and fashion capital of North Kent, I’m not surprised you don’t see many classy millinered women :)

Anyway, up here the blobba-wallops never wear enough clothes, summer or winter.

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 16:41
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

True once said “nice fascinater” to a bird in the high st and she nearly punched my lights out! Haha

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 17:23
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

Dear Looby, xqse me for being too direct but I don’t quite get why would you accept to live with Trina in spite of your fatalistic premonitions about your posible future together. Sorry but I held my tongue when I was young and now I’m a venerable old lady who has become outspoken with age.

On a different note, I feel very honoured to have been mentioned in your blog. I’ll wear my hugest Pamela hat in your honour in my next post! ;)

Wed 27th November 2013 @ 22:23
Comment from: [Member]

Direct is the name of the game round here :) That’s quite alright Ms Yaya.

I just have this horrible feeling that we’ll drift into it. There’s also the complicating factor that Trina has offered to rent the room off me, which is a tempting offer since I am really really struggling without a full complement of housemates. I know it doesn’t look like I’m struggling, swanning off to London for wine tastings etc but Trina makes a very generous contribution to the gallivanting fund, which is not a healthy situation.

Oh, I don’t know… maybe one day a forgotten aunt will leave me her pile.

Thu 28th November 2013 @ 08:37
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

I understand you, dear. There are more factors to be considered. Life is not as simple as we would like it to be.

I really hope that forgotten aunt of yours leaves you her pile of money, not her pile of piles, hehehe. Sorry for the pun, I couldn’t help it ;)

Thu 28th November 2013 @ 11:36
Comment from: [Member]

I was going to mention the fact that my mother has piles, but not a pile, but I thought that might be piling it on a bit.

Thu 28th November 2013 @ 11:39
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

Moms can be a lot of things Looby, and they’re always great. Considering that piles are often a present from their babies during pregnancy, I suggest we draw a thick veil over the subject. ;)

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 15:15
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Not sure about that. I’ve known some people who have done little but suffer from the actions of their mums, people who should never have had children, but I agree with the last point.

Are you going to moderate and pass my comment from 24hrs ago at some point? :)

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 16:16
Comment from: Leni Qinan [Visitor]

Let me know when you go dancing to Leyland with the attractive Ibiza lady. Those youngsters were very rude to her (prolly a bunch of 17 year old chavs on their first holiday abroad walking down the road singing “I love Ibiza, Ibiza loves me").

Ibiza can be a lot of things: a wreckheads place, a chav hell, a party island, a music mecca or a beautiful, relaxing place. Luckily it’s not just a place for drunk teens.

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 16:24
Comment from: Chef [Visitor]

A wee laddie such as yourself from ‘up north’ saying something like “aware of my class position” is tantamount to treason in your part of the world. You should be proud of who you are, not what others see you as. I have never apologised for the fact that I come from good hardworking stock. We all came up in the world with shite on our boots. When I first moved in to my current abode no one would give me time of day. Until they needed something of course. Now, I cannot walk down to the bottom of my driveway without one of them craning their necks to converse with me. Snobbery… I hate it. Be proud son, never be ashamed of your working class background.

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 16:29
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

Oh dear, xqueeze me, Looby! Sorry for that, it’s inexcusable! 24 hrs late! I almost forgot how important punctuality is in Burdishland!

This didn’t happen to me since 19@5 when I stood up a boyfriend of mine at the train station for the whole day! (I forgot we had a date!). They found him frozen stiff just like Walt Disney, grabbing a bunch of iced flowers!

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 16:42
Comment from: Leni Qinan [Visitor]

Listen to Chef and raise your self esteem, Looby. That’s excellent advice.

((On another note: beware of the hippie Yaya. The venerable old lady is cheeky as a monkey and cocky as hell)).

Fri 29th November 2013 @ 16:54
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thanks Chef (and the reinforcement from Leni)–much appreciated and noted. Sometimes you need a third party to get you told. Thanks, sincerely. I was up your way this week.

I think it’s just a case of unease about being in a social situation with which I’m not familiar, especially one dominated by middle class people, who are less forgiving about social faux pas than working class people. I’d never been to a really big, proper wine tasting trade do before. But now that I have–bring em on! :)

Most of the time, I’m very grateful about my ambivalent class position. I am bilingual–I can speak, and act, both Working and Middle.

Leni–if Ibiza woman turns up on a dancefloor soon you’ll hear about it here of course.

Hipster–how did it go with boyf after you got the day wrong? He sounds like he could have been a keeper.

Sat 30th November 2013 @ 00:33
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

Looby, you’re a learned, educated man. The vast majority of us constitute a global middle class. Yet some scenarios and events may not be our element. I would have felt very awkward at the S.A. High Commission with all those wine bottles, not knowing what to say or do. I’m not as exquisite as you: I only drink Moonshine in a coke-bottle glass.

About the bf: sadly, he froze cryogenically and remained forever young. ;)

Sat 30th November 2013 @ 17:04
Comment from: sarah aka peach [Visitor]

I’ve been trying to buy one of these but since your outing of it, it has hit widespread popularity and is now only available in teal - bleugh

Sun 1st December 2013 @ 20:49
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Oh hello! Nice to see you here Ms P.

The ones I was looking at are incredibly expensive–around £200. Which is a rip-off, for a bit of felt made in China.

The most attractive floppy-hat wearer on the Northern Line the other day was wearing one that was green. It sounds like it’d look too hippy / retro / bad prog-folk album cover-ish, but she looked really good in it, partly because she had a good way of wearing colours in the rest of her clothes. Almost took a picture but that’s rather unethical, however much it would have been meant as a compliment.

Hope you’re well–miss your blog X

Mon 2nd December 2013 @ 13:10
Comment from: Chef [Visitor]

Social situations are most easily overcome if you are confident about being in your own skin. These days I walk into a room wearing usually the best finery that simply cannot be purchased off the peg. The scars on my face, the broken nose and the hardness about my eyes cannot be disguised. I attract attention immediately. Some people expect me to say ‘fuck’ every second word. I soon disappoint. They imagine that I will pish on the toilet seat, steal the fine crystal and stab the doorman on the way out. Again, I disappoint. They are all surprised that I am not quite as their first impression would have them believe.

I once was described as a taller, thinner, more violent Tony Soprano, with the manners of Sir John Gielgud, the accent of Billy Connolly, the intelligence of Stephen Fry and the eyes of Charlie Manson. I accepted that snide compliment because I am completely confident in myself. I neither seek nor need anyone else’s approval about who I actually am. Once you have gained that confidence you can go wherever you please and never worry about another social faux pas.

Mon 2nd December 2013 @ 18:13
Comment from: young at heart [Visitor]

sounds all very Austin to me except you’re a man in won’t a wife with a modest income ….. perhaps once she’s in she won’t much bother you!! Re-Ibiza you just have to pick where you party….. I have a friend in her early 50s with piles (of cash) currently building a home there, and last year a whole bunch of 40/50somethings went there for a summer of fun!!

Tue 3rd December 2013 @ 18:04
Comment from: [Member]

Chef: Splendid, I imagine you cut quite a figure. I am envious of people who can sculpture such a presense. I think I look like a temporary Geography lecturer at a minor Welsh university. Not quite the same commanding figure.

YAH:
“you’re a man in won’t a wife with a modest income". Have you been on the happy tablets again? :)

I’m sure there’s more than one Ibiza, you’re right. But I still reckon your friend should have bought a plot in Walton-le-Dale.

Wed 4th December 2013 @ 21:00
Comment from: Hipster Yaya [Visitor]

Your blog looks definitely great with some decorating pics. It was already nice to read the text and now twice as much.

Xqse my curiosity: are you one of the handsome gentlemen in the photo of the South African High Commission’s event? Sadly, they are on mourning today.

Good thing you uploaded a pic of the floppy wide-brimmed hats you like that much. Let’s see…
*looks for something in her hat cabinet*

PD.- I really liked Chef’s self portrait, what a vivid hyperrealistic description of himself! Speaking divinely, as usual.

Fri 6th December 2013 @ 10:49
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you–no I’m not in the picture. I’m saving up my devastating pictures. Devastating in what sense awaits to be seen.

I look forward to the result of your rummaging in your milinnery drawers.

And yes, Chef. Did he really go to Trinity I wonder? All power to his elbow in any case. Hope he’ll be in this blogging malarkey for a long time yet.

BTW A new post will be on its way soon but I’m uncommonly busy and have a few things I’m not particularly enjoying doing which need to be consigned to the great virtual postbox with the Send key.

Fri 6th December 2013 @ 11:27


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