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Revolting in Blackpool

  Thu 11th February 2016

The newest lodger, a professional vaper with a cover story of being a third year undergrad, is getting on my tits and I apologise in advance for a bit of domestic whinging. Whilst his irritations are manifold, I will confine my examples to ones based around food.

I am in the kitchen caramelising some onions. He comes down and stands about, getting in the way, wiping his eyes histrionically. He opens the cellar door to get some air in, whilst remaining within a couple of feet of the offending alliums.

I get some skate wings, sold off cheap by the man on the market at five o'clock. Fusspot comes down again, and says "Fuck, that smells really fishy! That's really fishy fish!"

I make a tarte au moutarde, which involves Gruyère. Despite the fact that by this point, three months in, I am wishing he could accidentally swallow a mixture of lorazepam and fentanyl, I am willing to offer him a slice. However, in his new-found role as Kitchen Policeman, he comes down announces "that smells like fetid socks." "Well, thank you very much Fusspot. I won't offer you any then."

Then there is the competitiveness. I have absolutely no interest in competing with anyone, for anything, ever. Well, perhaps, I do try to dress better than other men, but that's a low bar to hurdle in Lancaster.

I make a nut roast, to be reheated on Christmas Day for Kirsty, the girls, and me. It's a recipe from Kirsty's late Dad, which involves a middle layer of prunes soaked in Armagnac. "Oh," he says, "you should taste my nut roast. It's just fantastic. I've had lots of people say they love it." The tarte au moutarde caused him to say that he can make an excellent butter pie. "Yeah, you should make it then," I said.

But such fabulous dishes never materialse; instead, he lives on Cup-A-Soup and Iceland pizza. Recycling bins do not lie.


I was revolting on Tuesday ("only yesterday, looby?") in Blackpool. As Bill Bryson once said about the place "They spent eleven million pounds on cleaning up Blackpool. Now the turds sparkle." The poverty, away from the town centre is still startling. Torn net curtains hang listlessly across filthy windows; endless closed cafes with broken plywood signs.

The Government is refusing to accept Lancashire County Council's decision to refuse two fracking applications in the county, and has "called the application in", which means it will be decided by a fervently pro-fracking minister. Yes, just the one minister from central government, not local, elected councillors.

It was humbling, after my gruelling forty-five-minute ordeal on a warm train, to meet someone who had set off from Oxford to get here for the beginning of the enquiry. Another lad had come even further, from Chelmsford, draped in an England flag across which he'd written "Essex supports Frack Free Lancashire."

I had to repair to a pub afterwards in order to check on the progress of the frostbite, so asked directions to Churchill's, my favourite pub in Blackpool, a somnolent place drugged with Cliff Richard, where tatty people of my age and older go for a good afternoon's swearing. I was hoping that I'd have some carbon-neutral company but anti-frackers are a fairly restrained fiftysomething crowd not given to afternoon drinking in public houses.


The new regime with Trina continues smoothly. Met up with her for a drink in Ormskirk yesterday. One of the regulars is a bulbous disabled man who has become as one with his scooter, growing into and around it. He came over and started talking to us, amiably enough, but was reluctant to go until I started saying "OK, see you then. Bye." He repeatedly did a thumbs up at us, over what I'm not sure. As he moved away, I said, not quite sotto voce, "right, thanks, now fuck off." Unfortunately he heard it and I had to pretend not to have said anything as he looked back at us.

At a table opposite, a couple were not happy. "I'm not sure where this relationship is going," she said. "I bought you haggis, neeps and tatties, didn't I?" he rejoined. "Yes, but I wanted black pudding as well."

I go to make a phone call and stand at the top of the stairs. A thin, middleaged woman has got there first and is talking loudly on hers, so I have to pretend to have forgotten something and go back downstairs, but her voice carried well enough. "Have you seen her? Well, you make your own mind up, but I think she's a weirdo. Right weirdo. You decide when you see her but she's got this right pointy little head. Probably takes it up the arse."

8 comments

Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Stop dead in my tracks, “excuse me miss, but the pointy headed women who might take it up the arse, you have a name or number handy?”

Around these parts they love to fucking frack, it was gonna be the boom that made us all rich or something not to mention make the already shit water even better, so much to my surprise, as i lay there stoned watching the late news, that the boom is over or sorta slowed, of course the frack man got on the telly and blamed low demand for fossil fuels and practically wagged his finger at us stoners on the couch as if we should crank up the heat and gobble up more natural gas, i laughed and did another bong hit and turned off the tube…

Thu 11th February 2016 @ 14:42

It’s like the death of 1,000 pinpricks. Does he pay the rent on time? Do the checks clear or have they ever bounced? That’s what’s most important.

Hard for me to picture you participating in a protest. Just doesn’t seem like your kind of party.

I hate the ‘relationship’ talk. As soon as it arises, the relationship is officially over. It doesn’t take black pudding.

Thu 11th February 2016 @ 18:45
Comment from: LC [Visitor]

>>>Probably takes it up the arse.

I take exception to her implication that this is in any way connected to the lady in question being a weirdo. Some of the brightest, funniest women I ever knew were enthusiastically into anal.

Fri 12th February 2016 @ 09:37
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Your lodger sounds a prick. I can’t stand competitive people. What’s a vaper?

Fri 12th February 2016 @ 18:25
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes kono – we might win just by virtue of the falling oil price if nothing else. A firm called iGas pulled out of a site in Cheshire last week so that was an encouraging sign.

Exile – in the interests of brevity I didn’t mention the fact that he got five weeks in arrears over Christmas. I’m itching for him to pull that stunt again, then I can chuck him out.

Hello LC nice to see you back. No, I didn’t see the connection either :)

You are correct in your assessment Homer. He’s fucking irritating. A vaper – one who vapes. He spends all day missing lectures and pulling on on his e-cigs.

Sun 14th February 2016 @ 14:09
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Oh - as simple as that! Assumed it had a more, ahem, underground meaning.

Mon 15th February 2016 @ 08:21
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

“Well, perhaps, I do try to dress better than other men, but that’s a low bar to hurdle in Lancaster.” That made me chuckle… also I thought - “he needs to come to Medway more he’d be the height of sartorial elegance just through not wearing a tracksuit and reeboks…”

Blackpool sounds startlingly like Thanet - only that IS the town centres and it gets worse from there.

I’ve decided there is little to fear from fracking on the basis of simple economics. The price of a barrel of oil is just under $30 and long term (1 year) predictions estimate a 10% rise. You can’t make money getting it from established offshore deposits in the North Sea at that price. North Sea needs about $50 - $55 to be viable. Fracking is hugely expensive and complex - you need a price well above $70. More like $100 constant to invest in it. As long as we suffer the economic paralysis that the final throws of capitalism have put us in it’ll never make economic sense.

Oh yes and the agreement we all signed up to in Paris re global warming means we shouldn’t even extract the reserves we are currently exploiting globally - hence starting new fracking fields doesn’t work - as long as we all stand by those targets I accept but again… I just think economic and finally political pressure will consign it to the dustbin at some point

Mon 15th February 2016 @ 09:20
Comment from: [Member]

No, nothing as ambiguous Homer :)

Furtheron – I’d love to come to Medway as a form of anti-tourism. Why the hell would you ever go there? That in itself is the answer.

Thank you for that info about oil prices. I really hope that at some point in the next couple of years Cuadrilla will issue some face-saving press release about viability and frack off out of Lancashire (and the UK).

Mon 15th February 2016 @ 14:39


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