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"No, he's killed the other one. You're next."

  Sun 5th February 2017

I ring Diane, and we talk about anti-fracking for an interval that I hoped would be long enough to disguise my purpose. "Do you fancy a drink or two on Monday?" She's got no money, so I suggest I could bring some tinnies of quality lager from the Polski sklep round to hers. On Monday morning she rings to cancel -- again. When you've asked a girl twice, and it's fallen through both times, it's time to give up.

The same evening, Wendy rings to cancel the next of our chaste, cosy and stoned afternoons, but the Little Dictator is ill and off school, so nothing could be done about that.

The Barmaid's suggestion of a drink made me worry from time to time. Friendship must be based on selfishness, and I can't work out what she wants. On the day, I meet up with Vic and have a couple of pints first. Fifty-two years old and I'm still nervous about meeting women, even in contexts which have no shadow of a date colouring them.

I arrive at the pub we've agreed upon. The racing is on on the TV; calm, meditative lone men and couples sit looking straight ahead; the woman at the bar in a thick fleece with a print of wolfish animals relocated to a stylised Arctic, long khaki shorts and trainers: such a ridiculous combination, she looked like something out of Vogue. Laddish worker types in hi-vis jackets who make me envy that security of self that comes from doing something needed; a tattooed young woman swaying around her boyfriend, who was skinned into a tight white T-shirt, the better to show off his muscle-bloat; the old fellow who walks about restlessly with his mouth tic, thrusting his lower jaw forward and plumping up his lips.

Forty-five minutes after our agreed time she hadn't turned up. I laughed inwardly at the concatenation of my cancellations. I texted Vic. "Looks like The Barmaid has either forgotten or stood me up. Fucking women! Do you fancy one down here?"

My only winner was a horse which came in at a barely remunerative 5-4, just enough for a free pint. An ex-marine started talking in detail about his knee problems. Most men who come and sit next to you in a local boozer at 5pm on a Wednesday are ex-marines.

And so to the last of the cancellations. Wendy said she couldn't come out to the techno night in Friday in Manchester, but texted me at 11.30, just after I'd arrived at the club, saying that she wished she were there. Thanks, but a fucking useless thing that is to say now, isn't it? Usual shite. I don't believe a word anyone says when they say they'd like to come out with me.

It was a good night, although I wish young people wouldn't stand around on the dancefloor texting and reading FB. I wish people wouldn't keep pushing their way through a crowded dancefloor as though they're on a perambulation, rather than finding a space and then staying there to dance.

They were so friendly though. I was taken under the wing of a twentysomething couple as soon as I got there. She said "You're the coolest person we've ever met here." Later, I was blathering on to a complete stranger about having tried some lovely rum the other day, and he went off to the bar and got me a double of their vintage rum. Another stranger gave me something you can't buy in a bar, and a bloke on ketamine rambled on incoherently to me for a while before trying to undo my zip. (Not the highlight of the evening).

Much better was a few moments of flirty-going-on-sexual dancing with a gorgeous girl in her thirties with lovely tumbling curly black hair. It ended abruptly when her boyfriend found her. He approached her from behind and started stroking her shoulders -- the control to her, the warning to me -- but she responded by dancing facing me, wriggling down and opening her legs, which I don't think was meant for him.

Just this moment, a girl in the pub where I am sitting has walked down the stairs wearing a sweatshirt with the slogan "property of no-one".

It occurred to me that one way of preventing Trina from inviting herself to any night I go to, would be to describe it as "techno". The night's more open when you're on your own.

I gave these students from Leeds Uni a blast on my poppers and they spilt it all over their nostrils. They'll really be regretting that today. It's corrosive and gives you a delayed stinging if you get it on your skin.

I got talking to someone who was sure there were two people on the settee next to ours when there was only one. "Yes I know there's someone sitting at that end, but are you sure there's no-one sat at this end?" Once the night had finished, me, him and his brother, and someone who wanted help finding his way back to the station, walked back to Piccadilly. The brothers were droll, spending the time on a running joke about raping me and killing me and their experience in picking up men from clubs before to do this. Somewhere on Deansgate we lost our latest friend. "Have we lost that bloke?" I asked. "No, we've killed him. You're next."

Their taxi arrived, and I shivered outside Wetherspoons for ten minutes until it opened at 7. I wrote a postcard to Wendy and made a half-hearted effort on a sausage bun, before starting on the pints at 9am, watching the the all-night raver wastrels, football fans getting tanked up before a midday kick-off, sweary shift workers, a hen party, and gummy morning drinkers.

Went with Trina to see an absolutely shit show by Elf Lyons, supposedly about thoughts about killing her mother. I'd have killed Trina's a long time ago had I been able to negotiate immunity from prosecution. It was a waste of thirty-four quid (I had offered to pay for Trina's ticket). It didn't discuss the issue, but gave Elf (ffs) a vehicle to rabbit on with humour that in its highest moments attained the mordant acuity of a half-hour on Radio Four with Wendy Cope.


Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Oh Looby, you do make me laugh. You talk about the after effects of getting poppers on your skin; I worry if my toothpaste lather goes too far over my face. I’ve got a mortgage, pension and SUV. I’ve no idea why we like each other, really. 12 years and counting!

(Wendy Cope can bite me.)

Sun 5th February 2017 @ 20:36 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

I do like you, and I wish we lived nearer each other. I have every expectation that we’d have become good friends.

Although the SUV does put me off you a bit.

Sun 5th February 2017 @ 20:49 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

I do live in the proper, muddy, hilly, flooding countryside though, as the permanently filthy state of it will attest.

Mon 6th February 2017 @ 07:33 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

We can swap flooding stories then. Up here we dealt with it with a spirit of enterprise and initiative. “Let’s go and rob some shops. The CCTV won’t be working.”

Mon 6th February 2017 @ 08:19 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Elf Lyons nononono Daniel Kitson nininini

Mon 6th February 2017 @ 10:34 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

You know i stopped going out with people a long time ago, i didn’t feel like babysitting when they got tanked and i found, as you have, that when you’re on the Jack Jones the world is your oyster, you meet people, sometimes they suck and sometimes they’re brilliant but either way it’s your night not beholden to anyone else…

And i have told you the tale about taking a course at the community college on gambling on thoroughbred horses haven’t I? just another vice in my long list but i took this class years ago before the boyos were born from a professional gambler, near the end of the class he asked how long i’d been handicapping and i told him about a year, he said he’d been teaching the course a few years now and said he’d only told one other person they could make a living at it but that he thought i had the skill, eye, number crunching and gut instinct to do it for a living… i laughed like hell, from selling gear to pro gambler? i can’t say it didn’t cross my mind, great post sir!!

Mon 6th February 2017 @ 19:24 Reply to this comment

Tinnies, Polski and sklep. Three mysterious British euphemisms in one sentence. Fantastic. Such a poetic way to say cans of beer from a Polish bodega.

What’s the age range at these fetes? Are you amongst the oldest (no offence intended). Mobile phones, FB and texting are wrecking society. I hate them. Wish I could stuff the genie back into the bottle. A 9 a.m. beer would wreck me. I’m so fragile. I hate it. Kono’s comments are the gold standard, don’t you think?

Tue 7th February 2017 @ 12:15 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Yes Exile, they are. I’m the oldest person there but no-one makes it an issue. As long as they know you understand what the standards are (i.e. – we’re all on drugs, there’s some sex in the air, but we’re not going to be pervy) you’re fine.

Kono – yes, it’s much better being on your own. I don’t like worrying about whether the other person wants to go home – because I’m out for the duration, and into the following afternoon. Re the gambling – I know someone who is meticulously accurate about his betting and his flat is lined with books about racing, and said he made £1250 in 2015 from it, and is thinking of trying to do it professionally. He commentates on racing and is a bit of an insider.

I fucking love sitting in a pub with the old fellas and putting little wee bets on. There’s such a lovely cameraderie.

Organgrinder — I once sat through a 3 hour show by Kitson and I was clenching my nails into my hands for something more interesting to feel.

Tue 7th February 2017 @ 18:50 Reply to this comment

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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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Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
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