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I sit in a park in wet trousers

  Wed 13th April 2016

To London, for a judicial review of a fracking decision. Went all that way, and got the day wrong.

I was going to get the coach down. I told Trina what I was doing and she invited herself along, which irritated me, but then she said that she would pay for a train back, as well as for somewhere to stay that wasn't someone else's settee. Here we go again, another night of her wriggling and huffing and puffing with sex on her mind.

The coach was leaving the university late afternoon. I told her that I was having a foursome beforehand -- the usual trio augmented by Kitty's daughter. Wendy called for me and we took the dog and a joint up to the park, before meeting the others to blow conversational poppers up the tight sphincter of the yoghurt-knitters' cafe. Three hours flew past, brightened by two bottles of red and one of Prosecco my relief that things are OK again with Wendy.

And then, in one of those times during which a mood can come tumbling down but where the tipping point for that change is difficult to isolate, I ended up going to London on my own.

We met in the library foyer. I was shocked compared to how I remember it; it struck me as an example of redundancies writ into interior design.

Trina told me I was pissed and that it was thoughtless and disrespectful of me to have got drunk first. I'm not having this.

"I'm so pissed Trina, yes, you're right, totally. Jeez, you should have seen me in the past three hours or so. Poor old Ingrid [Kitty's twelve-year-old daughter]. She put on such a convincing show of getting on very well with me, when inwardly she must have been dying to get away from me."

I wish I hadn't said that. Not because I regret its cruelty, but that answering back pours oil on the fire. I should have just ignored her snippyness and just talked about practical things.

 A woman on a bus recently

I got on the bus alone and turned my phone to silent to blank out Trina's texts. I was hemmed in by four Nigerian twentysomething girls, who got out chocolate digestives, pineapple salad and tangerines, which they just shared straight away. When I told one of them that she looked like Patrice Rushen, her face lit up and she reverted to a teenager, giggling into her friend's shoulder; I smiled, inwardly and outwardly, at having for once complimented a woman successfully.

I apologised for not having anything to share. "Donn matta. We all famly now." I spread my tweed jacket over the knees of the girl sitting next to me, who was in direct line of an over-enthusiastic air-conditioning unit.

I got the tube (just -- I had hardly any money) to where I was staying. I went into the bathroom to have a shower and trod on a slug. "Wish you were here," I texted Wendy from my bed at midnight. "It's a rinky-dink little wooden chalet hidden in deepest suburbia. I promise not to go on, but I'd love to be snuggling up with you now here with this bottle of Verdicchio I've got." I deleted a bit about our legs being wrapped around each others'.

Next morning in Aldi, the security guard seemed to be circling me -- a red rag to a bull -- so I stole some plastic cheese. I paid for two citrus fruits which were described only as "Easy peelers", as my cover. As I was leaving, I found a tenner on the floor, which I picked up swiftly, as this could have led to a slippage accident and a health and safety issue.

I arrived at the hearing rather more perfumed than was my intention. The Verdicchio had been leaking into my bag and onto my jacket and trousers, which meant I made my entrance at England's highest court smelling only of the finest of wines. My bag went through the X-ray machine, but I was called back, and in front of a queue of sharply dressed legal types, I had to hand over the half-empty bottle.

The woman at the information desk couldn't find our case. She directed me to the Court Lists -- pinned notes in glassed cabinets of the cases for the day, which are written in such an arcane style that one can only look for some mention of the parties involved. They weren't there. Nowhere.

I claimed my wine back off the security guard, and wandered into a hot, sunny, Victoria Embankment Gardens and sat there all day, drinking and reading Knausgård and eating my stolen Playdough Cheddar. Around me, the legal and media and accounting types were eating Japanese food in cardboard boxes and saying how Florence is "awesome" and "actually this is really my transition dress." I finished the Verdicchio then went to Marks and Sparks, where I was pleased to find that cava was on a buy none, get one free offer.

By about five o'clock it was starting to get less cultured than I like, and when someone in the cheap seats behind me started asking me about my book, I knew it was time to go. I shut him and his mate up with a large glass of cava and went and shared a bottle of beer with a beggar on Marylebone Road.

My train got in an hour late. Someone had jumped in front of another one at Wigan, which is testament to the effect that Wigan can have on you.


Getting on alright with a woman from North Wales on the dating site. First exchange went like this.

Shite. Ruthin. That's a long way away. But not insurmountable. If you were more local and it were not half eleven, I'd ask you out for a drink. We could have a little virtual chat instead perhaps.
looby
P.S. I love dancing too.

Hahahaha!! yes I think we'd have a reasonably entertaining time getting pissed. I'm bloody knackered now and out overdoing the outdoors tomorrow as usual training for the High Tatras! Yes a shame you're not local.

Shall we do it then? This is terribly previous and jumping the gun. Liverpool's kind of half way though.

Liverpool may as well be Mars, I'm so lazy in all this! However I do absolutely love the place so you never know!

Well get off your arse and get there then. The Prosecco's on me. If all else fails, I'd go as far as Flint. Flint is so absolutely crap that I'd almost enjoy a first date in some rubbish cafe there.

I hate Prosecco. How the hell do you know Flint?!!

Well, alright, you can have what you like, up to £2. I am well-acquainted with the shitholes of North Wales. Queensferry is worse. Once we get to know each other a bit, we could go for a dirty weekend in a caravan in Towyn.

It would be dirty.

Good.

Minging if that's any clearer. And there was me thinking oh good not another creative type doing something useful on a ladder......

What do you mean "another" ? I'm the only person called looby who lives in Lancaster who has performed a piece involving a ladder in Brussels. Listen you sound pretty cool as fuck and I can bring a litre of petrol to improve your complexion [in-profile joke]. Let's meet somewhere crap. I'm off to bed now but iron that red dress and tell me when you're free.

I am cool as fuck. I haven't ironed anything for about 3 yrs! You drinking the litre of petrol could possibly improve my complexion granted. Night nutter.

That was last weekend. Gone similarly well since then.

6 comments

One can only ignore snippyness for so long. Especially after that second bottle of red.

I had a Patrice Rushen album back in the day. So weird to see her photo and name after all this time.

Good luck in Liverpool. That’s a fast cure for Wendy.

Thu 14th April 2016 @ 11:42
Comment from: [Member]

She was winding me up. I’d had a lovely long boozy dinnertime with my two best friends, and half an hour later it’s all gone Pete Tong. The underlying reason is jealousy, I think. Deep down, she’s envious of me knocking about with them two so much, and she might have picked up on me fancying Wendy despite me being scrupulously neutral in the way I talk about her.

Liked Patrice Rushen’s jazz piano more than the hits, but Forget Me Nots is good – that whip-cracking percussive intro and that great bass line. Oh, go on then.

Not got to Liverpool yet, but working on her! If Wendy ever showed half an interest though, I’d drop the new girl like a hot coal. Sorry, new girl.

Thu 14th April 2016 @ 12:03
Comment from: J-P [Visitor]

The tone of this blogpost implies that London is considerably more fun than Wigan or Flint, which I can hardly imagine to be the case.

K. finds it weird that Lancastrians are better acquainted with North Wales than most Cardiffians. Prestatyn. Rhyl. Llanfairfechan. I think she’s just being jealous, whenever she points out that Wakes Weeks aren’t really a thing any more.

Fri 15th April 2016 @ 06:26
Comment from: [Member]

Have you been to Y Fflint? It’s so drearily awful that it passes the point of kitsch, or of a spectacular awfulness, and is simply a place of utter gloom, surely the dullest county town in the UK.

Lancastrians start on North Wales early: I went to Rhyl on a Sunday School outing when I was about nine. I came back and wrote a poem about it of which I can only remember describing an open-air preacher as a “thick-veined evangelist prophet of doom.”

And I think it was you that told me about the linguistic divide between north Welsh (which is the one I’d learn if I were ever to have a bash at Welsh) and the southern version.

Fri 15th April 2016 @ 06:40
Comment from: J-P [Visitor]

We managed to miss Flint. On reflection, I’m not sure we even managed Llanfairfechan, as that particular trip involved a hasty detour to some remote hospital: the plug I’d left for my mum to stand on as we were packing for the holiday had given her blood poisoning.

We did do two days in Campbeltown, a few years ago, which was roughly how you describe Flint, but with a distillery. The B&B owner did crafting, and had one of those life-size toddler dolls standing in a corner, like Blair Witch.

Sun 17th April 2016 @ 19:06
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I admit to six 330ml bottles of out of date Brazilian lager, but even without such an aid to comprehension, I am left baffled by why one would leave one’s mother standing on a plug, or even how that would be possible without her falling over.

I will revisit this comment in what I hope will be the clarity of the morn.

Sun 17th April 2016 @ 22:35


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M / 56 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

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