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Risk Street

  Wed 27th September 2017

Sunday morning I was up at six, crying and talking to myself with a mixture of self-blame and self-pity over why my youngest didn't want me in Liverpool to wave her off to University, receiving solid support from the kitchen worktop.

I went round to Kitty's for an hour and a couple of Bloody Mary's with her and Wendy, before going to Kirsty and the girls' house: its calme habituel, only a slightly watered smile from Kirsty to me when we were alone and hugging for a moment in the front room, giving anything away.

I went up to Melanie's room and said goodbye, saying that I would send Dad's Book of Home Recipes to her as soon as she could give me her address, and saying that she could always contact me.

I sought the last refuge of the self-loving -- Farce Book -- and saw that my friend Sarah, whom I've met through going out dancing, said that she was going to be in Liverpool too, taking her daughter back for her second year. Sarah, her daughter, and I sat in an unaccustomed sun, taking the the Mojito and Prosecco Cure, efficacious in all cases of separation anxiety.

Trish sent me the most unbelievably lovely texts; which indeed proved unbelievable, when she dumped me hours after sending the last one; so reading texts from Karen along the lines of "Me to miss u xx", "See you Wednesday my love XX", and "I'm so looking forward to seeing you tomorrow xxx", I feel detached rather than excited. Kim's advice: "I know you like her but just be careful. You tend to get fucked about a bit by women."

We met up in The Shipbuilders Arms. She looked gorgeous, in a stolen white embroidered top, black trousers and sparkly black pumps. "Oooh, it's hot in here." "Well, you could always take off some clothes." "There's not a lot to take off. Do you like it?" she said, smoothing her hand sexily down her side.

"I love it that you just ask me how I am, Karen. You keep texting me asking me how my day's been. It's a simple thing but no-one else does that."

She was getting more tactile as the evening wore on, every touch of hers sending a confusion of indecipherable signals. Going to kiss her at the end, she deflected me into a safety-kiss, followed by the quick, bright talking that girls use to reinstate boundaries. "Not to worry," I thought. "At the end of this week we'll be in Glasgow and in bed." I originally had planned to go with Trina, but in an unrelated incident which is too dull to relate, she had told me to fuck off. So I did, and invited Karen instead.

The evening before we were due to set off to Glasgow, Karen was still saying that she was coming -- despite me having made it clear that it was a double bedroom.

I should have known that Trina would regret what she'd said. I accepted her apologies; so at 5pm on Friday two women thought they were coming out for an overnight with me in Glasgow the following day.

I went for a drink with Karen after work, wondering how to extricate myself. Her Not Ex turned up, a publicly pleasant man whom she slags off behind his back, yet to whom she is still attached.

To my regret and relief, Karen got a bit upset about a silly incident which involving her getting barred from the pub in which she used to work. Her mother is also very ill, and her son had failed his driving test. Cumulatively, it was too much for her and she apologised for letting me down at the last minute in not being able to go to Glasgow.

I went round the pub from which she had been barred and told the landlady that I was barring myself because of the way she had treated Karen. "Right, fine." I came back and told Karen what I had done, vainly pleased with myself for all of a few short seconds, before I realised that I had debased myself by doing something as an act of competition for the woman sat between us. A man like me, with virtually no capital to deploy in the relationship economy, soon learns that resignation to being ignored is the only effective long-term strategy, even though the sour reward of dignity is a physical and emotional isolation that can feel relentless.

In Glasgow we had to ring the bell to get into The Laurieston. It was the day of the Old Firm game and they didn't want ruffians. The barman cast the briefest of looks over my intimidating 9st frame and we were waved in.

The Laurieston looks almost untouched since c.1975, appealing alike to young hipsters and those of who don't have to fake the distressed by age look. There's a rather odd painting of an emaciated nude on the wall, executed by one of the locals. "Do you not find that painting a bit odd?" I said to a woman sitting near it. "I just wish I had ribs to show."

Trina's quicksands of jealousy, dangerous in proportion to how much she's had to drink, called for some improvisation. "You seem to talk about Karen a lot. Are you seeing her?" "Yes. I see her down the pub all the time." Unsatisfied, she took hold of my elbow -- which is still a bit scarred after falling off my bike a couple of weeks ago -- and asserted that the redness must have been caused by carpet burns during sex. To that, laughter is surely the only rejoinder.

Writing my postcard to Wendy, which I refuse to do surreptitiously, she asked "has Wendy not got a surname then? I know you'd rather be here with her." "You're obsessed. Anyway onto more practical matters, there's a Matalan over there. I really need some new socks. Are you OK here for five minutes?" and I deliberately left the postcard there for her to pretend to ignore.

Some gay lads went out of their way to steer us to the hotel where the night was taking place. Downstairs in the club, the DJ's girlfriend gave me such a long hug that I had to say "OK Zoë, I get the message." Friendly people unbothered by our age; reaching the stage in the chat afterwards at which you affectionately call someone a cunt.

Walking home back in Lancaster, I unthinkingly applied the same easy speech of Glaswegians to a more timid folk, forgetting the conservatism of where I live. "You're going to take some time going on that route," I said to a group of men who were drunkenly meandering along.

"Who are you? Shut the fuck up."

I smiled at them, hoping to convey a touch of my own hostility, and walked away to jot the exchange down in my note book." "What are you doing by that window?"

I thought I might be going through it in a few seconds, but they satisfied themselves with a few volleys of homophobia and lost interest.


Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

Comfortably calling someone a cunt? Doesn’t happen here in the states, although I’ll keep trying.

And the Trina/Karen/Glasgow tale? This is why airlines and hotels routinely overbook. Glad that worked out!

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 03:41 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

It’s commonly used up there – and here in Lancashire too – as a marker of social closeness. Got to make sure you pitch it right though, otherwise someone might pitch a fist on your nose.

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 08:54 Reply to this comment

I find your heartaches and adventures endlessly fascinating. Shall I tell you about my day in the office? No?

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 11:25 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

No don’t do that – keep publishing the journals and the art reviews. Those work for me.

And as you know, something happened last night to throw my heartache down the drain…

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 11:51 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I was watching an interview with Robert Anton Wilson and he said the philosopher George Carlin stated that if you took a notebook when you left the house and jotted down all the stupid things people said you’d average around 40 things a day… i need to start doing that… and why is it that every time i see Trina’s name the word trainwreck comes to mind?

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 18:19 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

I carry a notebook all the time. I’ve learned not to rely on my memory. Things vanish by morning.

Poor old Trina – she deserves to be loved but it sure as hell will never be me.

Thu 28th September 2017 @ 22:41 Reply to this comment

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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

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

If your comment box looks like this, I'm afraid I sometimes can't be bothered with all that palarver just to leave a comment.

63 mago
Another Angry Voice
the asshat lounge
Clutter From The Gutter
Eryl Shields Ink
Exile on Pain Street
Fat Man On A Keyboard
gairnet provides: press of blll defunct, but retained for its quality
George Szirtes ditto
Guitars and Life
Infomaniac [NSFW]
The Joy of Bex
Laudator Temporis Acti
London's Singing Organ-Grinder
The Most Difficult Thing Ever
Strange Flowers
Trailer Park Refugee
Wonky Words

"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Bristol New Music
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Golden Pages for Musicologists
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