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Hemel in whatever Rotherham is in Latin

  Fri 13th April 2018

A chilly train from Carlisle to Newcastle, on my way to stay with my mum in Middlesbrough. The ochre sandstone houses of the Borders with their lipped, white-painted lintels. Lambs closing with their mothers; the finely concealed horrors of farming. A sign next to a reservoir says "Deep Sludge". A van in a scrap yard squats, superannuated now, but once part of the "Northumberland Spill Response Unit". Two Chinese men erupt into loud conversation in a speech I can't help but find comical. I silently laugh, and the heavily processed young girls opposite catch my illicit smiling and return it. The ticket collector bends to answer a passenger's query, sticking out his uniformed bum. Polyester stretch.

Kim sent me a long text saying that she had a "sense of foreboding" about my staying there. It didn't actually withdraw the offer, but I pre-empted that, and told her that I would stay at my mum's instead. Having nowhere to stay immediately however, a friend kindly took me in for a couple of days. It soon became clear that he would like me to make it a more permanent arrangement, but I'm not keen.

Unwashed food bowls are scattered about the floor. The litter bin has a curve of tissues, Stella cans and cigarette packets, over its rim. Everything I have, my clothes, my hair, smells of smoke. On his wall, a Romanian icon of Mary wearing that drugged-out look she is apt to adopt when pressed into devotional service; Chinese sages, their homely wisdom prescient of the 99p moral comfort of today's occasion cards; and a yard-square poster of a braless young woman crawling on a beach, whose left tit has narrowly escaped fire damage, as a neglected candle ate hopefully up towards her tits, only to be retarded just short of them. Tabloid-greyed girls in the same undress. This is where he does it. What's on the carpet? What's in that bin? What's on this sofa I'm sleeping on?

I arrived at my mum's with little more than the clothes I have on. On the day of my move, I told the removal men that everything was to go. Taking this instruction at face value, they included in their collection my suitcase of belongings that I had assembled, my kit with which to face the vocational gatekeepers of Middlesbrough.

I gravitate, to the roughest -- or best, depending on your perspective -- pub in Middlesbrough, where the denizens are as large in heart as they are in body.

Three girls and a bloke at the next table. "Are you on your own pet? Sit here with us! Don't sit on your own!"

Me: I'm 54 love, I'm a lot older than you, I've got these wrinkles now.
--Kelly: Hope they're not on your cock. Anyway Tracy there will make all them go away. She'll get you straightened out.

Tracy (to a girl at another table): Fucking skinny bitch.
--Me: Don't bother with her. It'd be like shagging a xylophone.
Tracy: Hey, Tad. What's a 68er?
--Me: A 68er? No idea.
Tracy: 69 but with a fat bird.

They were singing a verse about the abuse, rape, and enslavement of poor uneducated young girls in Telford, Dewsbury, Rotherham, and other places where Pakistani Muslim middle-aged men congregate, which has been going on for decades, safe under the cover of this inexplicable insurance from criticism that Muslim men and their practises have acquired in England.

The verse, sang at the top of their voices, was about fingering the girls for a sniff test on their hymens. Never mind about heaven, the virgins are in Rotherham. Satirically accurate, demotic working class poetry. I was party to something secret but which should be discussed.

Kitty texts to say she's "just been round to Wendy's after work." How I would love to just go round to Wendy's after work, as a friend. Popping round to see a friend after work should be normal but not for me. I'm disallowed. The fearful look on her face that would be caused by my appearance at her front door, breaching The Injunction. It makes me wet-eyed. Stomach churn.


Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

“a fresh start” - somehow those words don’t feel right, despite the fact that you have found yourself with just the clothes on your back.

good luck. you’re due for a bit of that…

Sun 15th April 2018 @ 02:16 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you Daisy. You make your own luck, at least most of the time. Clothes are cheap or free; a job might be a bit slower in coming.

Sun 15th April 2018 @ 13:37 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

“I gravitate to the roughest– or best, depending on your perspective, pub…” truer words have never been spoken, i’ve always had a knack for wandering into those meself…

Between Kim, Wendy, and Trina you seem to have the Three Stooges of female friends…

Sun 15th April 2018 @ 14:11 Reply to this comment

Kono: Our friend here walks the same boards as Bukowski did in LA, wouldn’t you say?

No worries, Looby. That’s a compliment.

Mon 16th April 2018 @ 11:47 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, I’m sure me and kono would end up in some right dives f we ended up in the same town :)

And Wendy gave me Bukowski’s “Women” for my birthday a couple of years ago. She’s just irresistibly loveable.

Mon 16th April 2018 @ 14:02 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

Finally caught up on the saga…

Hope the job interviews garner some worthy employment and all the house hassles get fixed.

Tue 24th April 2018 @ 13:27 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Hi F, sorry its taken me so long to reply but the comment form isn’t loading on my computer.

Getting interviews is just a numbers game. Just got to keep at it.

The housing situation will be a longer term project though.

Mon 30th April 2018 @ 10:23 Reply to this comment

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 55 / 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

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