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Ambleside: an oral history

  Tue 6th September 2016

Meta: I'm sorry about not commenting or visiting the bloggers amongst you much recently. I've been running a knackered computer from a USB stick. which is painfully slow (maybe I wasn't using USB 3.0 or whatever it is), so my activities, like those of a starving man, have been restricted to that which is essential for life. Anyway, all solved now. I found this notebook on Ebay for £40.

The whole of my hard disk went recently. Amongst other irritations, I've had no pornography for a few weeks. When there is both, pornography and real life sex are a virtuous circle, feeding off each other, stoking desire, but at the moment I've neither. I only want Wendy. I wank thinking about her, and then afterwards, a feeling of desolation, of hopelessness, knowing that that is the nearest I'm going to get to her physically.

The real life closeness isn't something she wants. I'm corralled, laagered. "Why," I repeat endlessly, post-wank, in my head, "why not, Wendy? We go out alone together, we chat and talk and take drugs and get pissed and chat and chat and chat." It would be the most natural thing in the world to put my arm around her, to kiss her, to smile at her, to stroke her, and for sex with her to be that blurring of the boundaries between physical desire and the joy and laughter and wordplay and fabric-admiring dressiness and pisstaking delight that she gives me; but we can't. I'm held at bay, out there. I can go out with her, we can go up to the park and take mdma and drink Prosecco and talk about everything, but on a license, revocable at any time if I stray from its conditions. This is how it is going to be, always. It makes me sad, very sad. Most things in life you can change, you can do something about, but with Wendy, there's nothing I can do.

So on that bright and cheery note, I will recount the signal events of the past two weeks.

Have been having a flirtatious exchange with a woman who lives in a south Lancashire mill town where I lived for eighteen months. It used to have a bus station buried in a sort of culvert, a filthy place designed to keep the rats warm and the fumes contained. Now it's got trams. We agreed early on that it was too far away to pursue seriously, but I've enjoyed messaging her. It quickly got flirty.

After a few exchanges, she sent me a message about a disastrous date she'd had that evening. "Honestly looby, it was like an ironic comedy...the most agonising hour-and-a-half in the history of man (or woman in my case." She continued "It is an effin pity we aren't nearby. I'd have been with you getting bladdered and discussing your move, in between a few snogs, rather than wasting my time with the previously mentioned 'date'."

I had a day's work in Barrow-in-Furness, so I sent her a postcard. To the above message, I replied "... Your idea of how it should have gone is absolutely up my street and had we been up to that I may well have been at least on cloud eight-and-a-half. Oh, but look! The postman's been!"

I wonder whether she could be steered into a bit of sexting. In which case the distance vanishes by satellite.

Me and Trina treated the curious bystanders of Southport to a good row in a car park there on Monday. We went out for a few pints while the carer was looking after her mum. Out of nowhere, she reached across the table, and riffled through my diary until she saw "Wendy" written in for Friday. She stood up, saying she doesn't want to be second best with anyone, telling me that I am emotionally autistic and fucking selfish, and stomped off.

Incredulity turned suddenly to anger. I chased after her. "Well fuck you then," I said, "Fuck everything, fuck the [weekend we've got planned], fuck the boat, piss off yourself then." And so on. I went back, trembling, to the pub.

I was disgusted with myself, for giving release to such an outburst. From the station, I texted her saying that I think it's best that we call it a day, knowing all the while the inevitable outcome, which reflects our unhealthy co-dependency. The next day she apologised, saying that she'd never seen such a reaction from me, and that my surprisingly strong reaction had been "a wake-up call."

It's alright for me to tell her that Wendy is just a friend, but it'd be different if Wendy wanted me the way I want her. The anger and frustration comes from the knowledge that we are in a symmetry of dissatisfaction: I would like to be given permission to love Wendy; Trina loves me but I can't reciprocate.

Last weekend, we went to a DJ friend's birthday boat party in Chester, sailing and dancing down a black River Dee speckled with constellations of lights from the boat and the riverside houses.

Booking into the hotel, we were assured at reception -- over the urgent plasma seriousness of Everton v Norwich or something -- that it was only a question of asking if we needed anything, "like extra toilet paper." It made me wonder whether Trina and I come across as a rather loose-bottomed couple.

How ex-vegetarians can fall: we scoffed on pig's cheek, coriander squid, mushrooms in garlic and sherry, and a delicious hake in white wine sauce, in a restaurant where I asked the waitress, who called us "guys" throughout, to turn the canned music down or off. She turned it down a touch, but the latter was a step too far for her.

After we docked, we meandered rudderless, looking for the after-party, queries to locals every fifty yards, drifting, we hoped, closer to the nightclub. Halfway, there was an impromptu fuelling stop, where we calmly wandered into someone's wedding reception. I bought a pint and went and stood chatting outside. A woman promptly knocked it onto the pavement, and didn't notice what she'd done. Trina had disappeared: I found her inside, headbanging to the local band thrashing out rock covers.

The Cellar Bar across the road; a fine end to the night, with its ceiling as low as the light, the music a bit harder. I wasn't sure if one or two people were a little put out by my draughts on the butyl nitrite. They know it's legal, but perhaps it's the gay overtones that causes the querying glances. But by then, I really couldn't care, vasodilation and a sense of togetherness taking me into the music, seconds after the long pull at the bottle.

I finished Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend.

It contains some Italian I don't know: cotognata, mortadella, taralli, orzata -- but best of all, disperazione, which describes the state of some of the men who frequent the local bar. In Neopolitan dialect, Ferrante says, it can mean both having lost all hope, and having spent all one's money.

I've got some not very remunerative work as a mystery shopper. On Friday, they asked me if I could go to a cafe in Ambleside. Ambleside on a Friday afternoon in August doesn't cohere: Japanese on the Beatrix Potter pilgrimage strapped with rucksacks covered with cartoons of owls, girls in billowy harem pants making posh arrangements which conclude with the arrival of a gym-pumped car, middle class parents convinced of the efficacy of branded anoraks and rational argument with children.

I negotiated some expenses but made nothing on the day other than a free lunch. The bloke who served me might be in trouble because he gave me a handwritten receipt with nothing on it to indicate it was from the company. But then, there was a poster inviting expressions of interest for the franchise, so maybe he knows that's he's going to be cast onto the dole just before Christmas, so is doing a Philip Green in his last few weeks.

On my way to the cafe, I passed by the hotel where my first ever girlfriend -- a forty-year-old married woman -- took me for a dirty weekend when I was eighteen. I've been imprinted for older women ever since. It was a weekend of sucking, fucking, being taught and shown what to do, her hand guiding my cock; girlie mags, "which girls do you like in here?," sex, sex, sex. We hardly went out. Fucking her as she splayed her legs wide across the arms of the armchair. Wanking on her arse before she was quite awake.


I can’t believe I’m reading what I’m reading. It appears the lone wolf has found his she-wolf.

I was sacked right before Christmas. Worst episode of my life.

Tue 6th September 2016 @ 19:41
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I really don’t understand why firms can’t at least hold out till the New Year and then tell you.

This Wendy thing won’t do me any good though. I need to stop it (he says, weakly).

Tue 6th September 2016 @ 21:50

Firms sack you right before Christmas because it’s advantageous to get your ass off the books before year end. Paying a salary a few weeks into the year and then sacking you is poor fiscal policy.

Don’t you wonder if it would all go to hell if she finally relented? That happens, you know.

Wed 7th September 2016 @ 02:07
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I know how naive this sounds, but business shouldn’t be all about profits when there’s people and homes and families involved (stop your titters at the back please).

You’ve hit on a good word there – “relented". I don’t want Wendy to relent, I want her to voluntarily, willingly, out of her own desire, to want me. That isn’t going to happen. She likes me as really lovely friend. It’s a way of stabbing you, whilst expecting you to have the social decorum to come up smiling.

Wed 7th September 2016 @ 11:09
Comment from: Liverdrawer [Visitor]

Second best? She’s optimistic. I’d estimate Trina was at best eighth on your list. That’s not a criticism, just a statement.

Wed 7th September 2016 @ 22:09
Comment from: [Member]

Well, they’re not queuing up, but you’ve got a point.

Thu 8th September 2016 @ 08:35
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Why is it that every time i read about Wendy i start humming that old Smiths tune… “i want the one i can’t have/ and it’s driving me mad/ it’s all over all over all over/ my faayayayayayace…”

Wanking on her arse before she’s awake, you’ve much more class than me sir, i’d have been poking her in the cheeks letting her know that John Thursday was ready for the morning ride, then again i am a crude Yank…

Fri 9th September 2016 @ 22:13
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I’ll never have Wendy. Why does knowing that produce no effect on my behaviour?

Re the wanking on Debbie’s arse…at the risk of getting retrospectively arrested, I quite liked the idea of not asking permission for anything. I still find that quite a turn-on. Once you’ve established a relationship in which a general permission is granted, not asking for specific instances of that permission is quite arousing.

Sun 11th September 2016 @ 09:01

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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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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