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Descriptive analogies in the later fiction of Edna O'Brien

  Sat 28th May 2016

To Morecambe for the weekend. Me and Trina went to a soul and house music festival there and stayed over for two nights. It was a sociable, chatty, dancey weekend, spoiled only on the Saturday night, when some lech took an evening off from cutting out pictures from the Sunday Sport to pin up in his bedsit to go crawling over Trina and a couple of other girls. He was coming up to her from, behind and then running his hands over her, as if she'd be grateful of the attention. It was horrible to witness, a throwback to old nightclub behaviour.

After the first time he did it, I said "if he tries it again, let's just start snogging on the dancefloor." He did do -- twice, and so did we, but he wasn't to be outdone and came back for a third go, at which point we went and sat down. I'd had some mdma by this point and once something like that happens, you can never recover the mood. Around 1am, I suggested we leave. I felt very uneasy with having this groping, controlling, slimeball of a man in the same room as me and Trina, and I was glad that she left the place with me.

We went back to the hotel, I fulminated about him. We had a couple of glasses of port and put some music on. And then, I confess, we had sex. And I'd been doing so well, for months. Wrong wrong wrong. I texted Kitty about it. "I know it sounds utterly stupid, but I feel I've been unfaithful to Wendy."

Sunday afternoon was great though and repaired everything. We sat and danced and drank outside the Midland Hotel with a couple of people we know. Erica and some of her friends turned up and a compliant boyfriend ran to the nearby Aldi for supplies.


On Tuesday we went to Llandudno. It's one of the the most attractive, carefully planned and unspoilt early Victorian towns I've ever seen, with an elegance and sense of civic pride that very few northern resorts retain. We went up Great Orme Head. I walked, Trina took the funicular railway, and I got to the summit, and a pint of Welsh Gold from Great Orme Brewery, before her.

Back in town, and the wrong side of a few more pints, she started obsessing about me seeing Wendy today, dragging the mood down. If I could have left her there and got the train home I would have. "I know you so well," she kept saying -- which makes me inwardly clench my fists -- "and your feelings about Wendy are different to what you feel about Kitty or Kim." I didn't admit it but she is right. We were rescued by one of those fellow elderly holidaying couples that one always encounters in seaside pubs.


Back in Lancaster, I was itching to see Wendy. This morning, I made a salad and some scones for us to take up to the park. She turned up in my favourite dress of them all, the green one. She looked utterly gorgeous, and I told her so. I texted Kitty. "Wendy looks incredible! Help me!!"

We found our seat on a rocky outcrop, and threw the ball repeatedly for the dog. A loony circled us from time to time; we'd probably taken her seat. She made a pig's ear of opening the Prosecco and it frothed all over my trousers. We talked and smoked some kush in her vape thing which doesn't need any tobacco. Talked and talked and talked, had some speed. Bought another bottle of wine from the cafe. "Do you like Satie?" she said, and put his Gnossienne no. 1 on from her phone. The birds and the frollicking dog joined in the soundscape. It was magical and close.

I walked her as far as where she goes off to pick up her daughter from school. "I love you and fancy you very much. I love spending time with you and talking with you and everything. I love you Wendy x".

"I love you too petal. I really feel we're made of the self same mettle. I recognise myself and I like it."

Back at home, drunk, stoned, and honestly, feeling in love with her, I wanted to write something longer. Put it as an email, with the title of this post, since "Edna O'Brien" -- whose works we both like -- is used as code between us for something; then decided to write it on an arty postcard instead, and sent it to her in the post.

I love you from the bottom and selfish and most base parts of my heart, the West End of Morecambe bit, the fuck I can't stop looking at you undressingly bit, the let's have more bit, all the way up, via this afternoon, which is a lovely halfway, a form of joy in fact, all the way up to the novels and the refinements of culture that are worth every effort in preserving. I want it all, and I want it all with you. I love you. I love you in the birdsong and Satie's discordant notes and his dreaming music, and the sound of [the dog] rolling and cracking the branches. I love you in the mess of our bottles and spillages. I love you in the changing look of that tree. I love you in the park and I love you now.

Tonight, an email arrives from her, a photograph of the frontispiece of William Boyd's Sweet Caress. It's a made-up quote from a character in the novel.

I pray secularly, to myself. Please, please, please, let this be my love affair. Please let us be in love. Please let me have this. Please.

What does she mean, "I love you"? I wish I knew what she means. She never makes any physical approaches to me. It's her caress I want. I long to be touched and stroked and kissed by her. What is this "love" of hers then, that needs no physical expression?

5 comments

Comment from: isabelle [Visitor]

Ooo, you’ve got it bad…..

“Am I in love? –yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”
(Roland Barthes)

I hope she’ll reciprocate.
In my (limited) experience, love is unpredictable.

Sat 28th May 2016 @ 22:23
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks Isabelle – that’s a great quote. I was looking back in my diary and this blog’s archives yesterday to find out when me and Wendy started knocking about together – the two of us – and it was from the beginning of this year, but I got to know her towards the end of 2013.

So the wait’s been a long one, and it goes on. I think about her all the time. I couldn’t invent a girl more likely to make me fall for her.

Sun 29th May 2016 @ 12:29
Comment from: [Member]

Googling for your quote Isabelle, I found this site, En un Bosque de la China. Young and love-lorn, and fascinating. She has a great photograph to accompany Barthes’s text. Here it is if you don’t want to go via her blog.

And via it, this, which is going to get made into a card for Wendy.

Mon 30th May 2016 @ 04:31

Why didn’t you kick him? He certainly had it coming and I’m sure a few people would’ve joined in or, at minimum, applauded.

Your fists were clenched because she knows you so well or because she’s right? Perhaps a little of both.

Not the green one. Why did it have to be the green one? I’ll tell you why. Because she knows it’s your favo(u)rite.

Here’s a favo(u)rite of mind: Be careful of what you wish for.

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered prayers.”
Truman Capote

I’m not trying to spoil your fun. Just being the voice of reason.

Tue 31st May 2016 @ 11:45
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Don’t want to get involved in fisticuffs. A 9st arts graduate doesn’t really ever come off well in such situations.

And yes, all the rest of what you say is accurate.

The whole Wendy thing is ridiculous. It really is a folie. I veer between feeling hopelessly lost in her and sober mornings of thinking “what the fuck are you thinking?” Then next time I see her, I am back drowned in her again. You meet one Wendy in a lifetime, someone so thrilling. But I’m not going to have her. That makes me sad. I’d like to risk one or two answered prayers.

Wed 1st June 2016 @ 04:49


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


M / 56 / 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.
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.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
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

The Comfort of Strangers

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16.1.19: Further pruning

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