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Down and out in Newby Bridge and Lancaster

  Tue 16th May 2017

The recipe for interview success is two glasses of red, a quarter of a valium, and two pints of bitter.

On Sunday afternoon I am rung up by a hotel in the Lake District asking me if I could come the following day to an interview for a kitchen porter job. Not wishing a repeat of the Kendal disaster, I relaxed myself with the aforementioned cocktail. And I had the best interview ever.

I was introduced to a chatty boss, Emma, with whom I felt at ease straight away. It felt like what it half was -- a conversation in a bar. I found that I kept using her name. "If this goes pear-shaped Emma, I'm going to moan about you on Facebook," and at some point I used the word "arsey". I enjoyed our social tennis.

Towards the end of our half hour, spent in a room under those garish paintings about hunting that all hotels which fall short of their original ambition possess, she asked me if I could come in for a trial shift tomorrow from two till close. The hotel's location is going to be a problem, but we'll worry about that if they want me back. We stood up and shook hands. "Pleasure, Emma," I said, into her eyes.

With half an hour to go before my bus, I said that I was going over the road for a pint in one of the other hotels in the village to check out the opposition. "You don't want to go over there," she said. "Ours is cheaper, and it's all local, if you like your beer." (One of the few honest interludes on my cv is where I list my interests as cricket, reading, and real ale.) I sat in their bar for a bit, next to one couple playing cards, and another pair comprised of a man in a kilt and a woman with a mouth permanently set to complain. I sent a bulletin to my coterie.

In the meantime, Trina has been sending me details of the few jobs in her area that don't involve cabbages or drainage, keen to have me cloistered in the blank hinterland of Southport.


Seriouscrush and her boyf -- who own this house -- came round to sort out which stuff belongs to them and which items are my imports. I had made them an apple cake. I gave the slices some soured cream to cuddle and passed it round. For some reason I came over all priestly, and said "here you are. Now you're partaking of the body of looby."


Wendy's birthday do never rose beyond the pleasant. Me, her, Kitty and a couple of other girls went out to a Chinese restaurant -- about my least favourite idea for a night out. Wendy and Kitty insisted they would cover my bill so I just had a starter and asked for tap water, but they gave me a glass of their wine. Their generosity made it worse.

I much preferred the half hour beforehand at Kitty's when it was just us three. Even for the unidirectionally beloved, there isn't much money, but I found this lovely tile or coaster. (The iridescence isn't banded as it appears on the photo -- it glisters evenly).


Her other present was an empty box of matches.

4 comments

The ‘matchless’ gift is brilliant. What a mind.

Tue 16th May 2017 @ 11:39 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you. Whilst it looks like a flat piece of paper, it’s actually a little card, so if she picks it out she’ll open it and she’ll see another short sentence of three words.

Tue 16th May 2017 @ 14:40 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I hope the other short sentence in the card is “we should fuck"… call my a hopeless romantic… we’ll rub the gris gris in hopes you get the gig.

Thu 18th May 2017 @ 16:46 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Me and Wendy will never fuck. We’ll never even touch, never stroke, never lay together, never hold hands. I could go on putting more detail on to this picture but it’d only upset me.

My shift at Newby Bridge was the first and the last….more in about an hour or so.

Fri 19th May 2017 @ 04:06 Reply to this comment


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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].

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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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