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In which I get caught

  Thu 20th December 2018

I'm on a train to York, the youngest person in first class, on my way to see my mum and sister for a couple of days in the land of the two quid pint. We've just passed something labelled the Crewe Lifestyle Centre. I spent a week in Crewe once on one of those training courses that send you out with not a clue about how to do the job, after which I got the impression that lifestyle in Crewe is meeting in the bus shelter for a spit.


Yesterday, an overdue meet-up with polyglot and organ-grinder kalebuel of this parish, who has been educating, informing and entertaining me - and I hope, many other readers -- from the right hand side of this blog for several years. We wound round a couple of pubs, including a money-drenched place in Lincoln's Inn Fields for men with briefs, where I was served a cheeseboard that looked as though it had been regurgitated.

Then, rather glamorously, I discovered middle daughter was a few minutes' walk away having just left the Adelphi on The Strand. Little ripples of dad pride as we all chatted together easily. In fact, the whole afternoon was effortless.

I left my daughter at Charing Cross as she made her way up to her friend's dad's flat in Holloway, and fell into drunken kleptomania, a thrill, as well as a money saver which has served me well for decades. I went to Sainsbury's, stole some cider, and then, irriated by the theft's easiness, I went back for some wine.

They were up the the challenge. Outside the shop, a man sitting insouciantly on a bench pointed to the bulge under my jacket, and took me back to the shop. I already had another bottle in my bag, so while the store detectives were calling the police, I tried to surreptitiously put that bottle onto a trolley behind me. I missed, and it smashed onto the floor, an archipelago of shards in a red mere.

The police asked me if I was known to them. I told them about my unimpressive criminal record -- a minor drug offence. The manager arrived. One of the policemen muttered a script. "Well, if you're ok with a banning order..." and I felt a sense of relief at getting away with only an adminstrative order, whilst my blood thumped through noisily through my head.

They went away again and came back with a letter, headed "pPrivate [sic] and confidential", addressed to "A Name, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, Address Line 3, Date" saying that I am now banned from Sainsbury's.


Wendy and I met in The Macrame Belt and started with what a degraded Lancaster pub used to call a Southampton -- a large port. Wendy tilted our glasses sceptically, looked port measures up, and went back to the diluted-Asian barmaid, who had sold us singles.

"She's gorgeous," said Wendy. As she came round to collect the glasses, I saw Wendy do a scan I recognise: hair, shoulders, back, then longer on her arse, then her legs.

We took her dog up to the hilltop park. It was a bright December day, and the sky and the low sun were in cahoots with me. We wanged the ball for the dog, sending her scuttling and returning with the best asymmetry of effort.

"It is really lovely to see you," I said, and kissed her on her cheek, something that she would never do to me; and in a moment the mounting togetherness of the morning was smothered; her familar, small stiffening. "It's lovely to see you too," she said, and I cursed myself for pressing her into a formality neither of us wanted.

We bobbed down the long hill to the Fur Coat and No Knickers Arms and had three-quarters of a bottle of Prosecco, the dog's ebullient tail knocking over the rest. Anyway, it's a re-start.

10 comments »

10 comments

Glad you got back more or less unscathed. I tottered all the way home to calm me down & then spoilt it all in the eyes of the Dearly Beloved by dropping a round of cheese on toast face down on the sofa. Applied Vanish, not to the fabric, but to my human form.

Fri 21st December 2018 @ 08:34 Reply to this comment
Comment from: PendleWitch [Visitor]

As a fellow Lancastrian, I long to know which is The Fur Coat and No knickers Arms. I think I’ve guessed The Macrame Belt.

Fri 21st December 2018 @ 08:40 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Ah, man of the organ, a good bit of polish then. She’s probably seen worse. Thanks for a really good afternoon. I thought it would work, which I why I suggested it, but one’s never sure.

PW – the place on Dalton Square. Dreamy, stoned-looking rich kids peforming a simulacrum of work before they go off to internships in KPMG.

Fri 21st December 2018 @ 18:00 Reply to this comment

A shame the afternoon was so compressed - I had vague ideas of wandering over to the novelty automation shop.

Sat 22nd December 2018 @ 08:38 Reply to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

i would love to spend some time at “The Fur Coat and No Knickers Arms"! In fact, i can almost see the pub sign…

Sat 22nd December 2018 @ 10:20 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

We’ll plan a more open-ended one next time SOG. I also fancy roughly following the River Lea too at some point.

DF that’d be an eye-catching sign! It’s OK, just, but as unappealing to me as are the rough pubs I frequent which neither Kitty nor Wendy will set foot in. It’s way overpriced for Lancaster’s fragile economy, and the blasted canned music gets on my nerves almost as much as the shouty men.

Sat 22nd December 2018 @ 11:01 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

How civilized is that? a banning order? in the states the jack-booted cops and the chubby store security would have been relishing in the collar! add a minor drug offense and they’d be gleefully chirping about 18 months in county. And we must now remember, we shouldn’t get greedy, karma seemed to think you should have been happy with the ease of one bottle and not worried about the second…

Sat 22nd December 2018 @ 14:27 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Dead right kono – quit while you’re ahead.

Sat 22nd December 2018 @ 21:25 Reply to this comment
Comment from: PendleWitch [Visitor]

Ah, that one. Yes, not one of my favourites. Your beautifully pithy and scathing description sums it up perfectly.

Sun 23rd December 2018 @ 07:26 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you!

Sun 23rd December 2018 @ 09:55 You are currently replying to this comment


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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

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

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