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This charming man

  Tue 3rd January 2017

I cancelled my New Year's Eve party, ragged out after Kim being here. I put a coal fire in, snuggled up under a blanky with a bottle of port and Kitty's present of Margaret Drabble's collected short stories.

It was delicious, the fire plosively chatting to itself, and no-one here, in this tiringly, relentlessly sociable house. I missed Kim laying stretched out on the opposite sofa, as she has been for the three previous evenings, and our dozing, sleepy, silences. The fire went cold and I dragged myself and the blanky to bed, and woke up on New Year's Day at half past two in the afternoon.

I went straight away to girls' house, because I was "looking after them." I'd bought them a bottle of cava to take to their friend's New Year's Eve party. We all arrived back at Kirsty's within five minutes of each other, they with the unopened bottle of cava. I asked them how the party had gone and they said they'd sat around watching old Doctor Who episodes and had toasted the New Year in with a cup of tea.

We sat about, I started on the Madeira, and we chatted about Groovy Chick and other internet comicals. Middle daughter fretted about how we were going to pay for her to get to Bristol for her audition, and youngest fiddled with her bomber jacket before going upstairs to learn some chords from The Smiths.

Kirsty got back from her boyfriend's, and without me raising it, she once again mentioned the possibility of me moving in to Adelaide St if she went to live with boyf in Kirkby Lonsdale. Two of our daughters were still in the room; it was as if she were announcing this plan officially. To myself, I exult, in my stomach and in my bitten nails, when I imagine this happening. Outwardly, with her, I coolly discuss what might be its mutual advantages, turning my wrist on a pivot to indicate my calm, then pushing down my cuticle with the slant of a front incisor when she's not looking.


Kitty rang. She does this shit French where she addresses me as vous, and asks me what I am doing. Round at hers, it's me, her, Wendy, and The Little Dictator. Kitty does this game with The Little Dictator where she pretends, that she has a secret she wants to share, fuelling a six-year-old's curiosity to burning point. As she gives in and approaches to Kitty's ear, Kitty throws her forcibly back onto the sofa. We all laughed, all of us, adults and child conniving.

Wendy, for some reason, gives me an extra three or four seconds in our embrace. Usually, we have a production line, binary clamping, like having a label ("Friends Forever!") stamped and glued onto each other. Those extra couple of seconds, I make the most of, holding her and stroking her down from her shoulders, knowing I won't get as far as her waist before I'm called in, your time is up.

8 comments

Your youngest knows The Smiths? You’re a good da. Happy new year, pal.

A few extra seconds is torment. She knows what it does to you.

Thu 5th January 2017 @ 18:46
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

She’s very into her music but she certainly doesn’t get it from me because I never played them any music when they were young. She’s discovered it all by herself.

I don’t think Wendy does it deliberately. She is actually, a kind person and wouldn’t torment me in any deliberate way. I think she’d just had a bit to drink.

A very Happy New Year to you all over there. When I find a grand behind the sofa you’ll be my guide round New Jersey and Atlantic City (with maybe an hour or so in the lesser city of New York).

Thu 5th January 2017 @ 21:45

I’m fairly sure in real life I would bore you to death but I’m willing to roll the dice. C’mon down.

Thu 5th January 2017 @ 22:00
Comment from: [Member]

I don’t think you’d bore me but I think we’d disagree about quite a few things, which is far better than a bland unanimity. Although I can’t see it happening any time soon you’d be my first port of call were I to end up in the Big Apple (although I am serious about finding New Jersey more interesting).

Thu 5th January 2017 @ 22:22
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

As a devoted fan of the Smiths i was quite pleased to see the title of this post and then read how the youngest was learning chords to their songs, the boyos know about Mozza and the Smiths mainly because their old man often wanders about the house singing snippets from various songs at the top of his lungs… and i once amazed a gay couple before a Morrissey gig by singing every song they called out from the catalog of both band and front man, i could go on but i’ll stop… and Exile’s right, that Wendy does love to torture you, but a little torture never hurt, erm or something like that…

Fri 6th January 2017 @ 14:31
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, she’s got all the Smiths, and Morrisey’s albums now, and is reading Johnny Marr’s autobiography.

I still can’t see Wendy as anything other than, essentially, a kind woman. She doesn’t have any interest in me romantically, that’s all.

Anyway, enough sturm und drang, and poetic lyrics – I’m off to Blackpool for a three-day house music weekender where I can indulge my passion for romantic clichés set to off-the-shelf computerised backing tracks.

Fri 6th January 2017 @ 16:35
Comment from: isabelle [Visitor]

Your girls sound ace.

Hope the weekender is sweet respite from the ( albeit unintentional ) torment that is Wendy.

Happy New Year ! xx

Sat 7th January 2017 @ 16:26
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you – yes, it’s a surprise they’ve turned out so well from a Dad who is possibly a rather dissolute model of parenthood and a Mum who lacks any ambition.

Weekender was fab – more on that soon.

Tue 10th January 2017 @ 07:50


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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.
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The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
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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?
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The working man is a fucking loser.
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