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Useless, like Dad

  Fri 4th January 2019

My landlady suggested we could all go down the pub where her boyfriend works on what is commonly known as New Year's Eve, although she had to point out to me that they don't normally celebrate festivals on their dates in the Gregorian calendar. This modern mania for individuation.

They were making an effort to include me, I know; but why would I go straight from work into the bellowing mire of New Year's Eve, shivering outside all night so that they can smoke?

I got in. "I'm very sorry -- it's just I've spent an easy shift of well under ten hours being nice to people," and lumbered up to my room with a show of factitious tiredness. It occurred to me that as they've not had a single visitor in the three months I've lived here, and as I hear little about any friends, they might be a bit lonely.


On Christmas Eve, my girls' twentieth birthday, I managed to get to Lancaster after work for 7pm. We went down The Macrame Belt with a shop-bought cake, but my youngest left early. Kirsty later told me that she'd got a bit upset, and said that she felt "useless, like Dad," a remark which caused much merriment when it was disclosed to the rest of the family. Always set out to disappoint, then ordinary competence surprises.

On Christmas Day, my eldest, Fiona tossed insouciantly into the room a remark that she has a girlfriend now. This disclosure -- which is only an instantiation of a long-known generality -- met with indifference, overshadowed by the more important question of whether it was to be Swan Lake or Bake-Off next.

The former, Fiona's preference, prevailed. Fiona got amusingly tipsy on port, clapping violently along to the more strident numbers. "All the the Ruskies clap along in this bit...whoa, come on!" It was like watching a heavy rocker who'd wandered into the Royal Opera House.

On Boxing Day I went round to my old house in Lancaster -- the one that Trina announced she was buying for "us" when she picked me up from the airport after the Kazakhstan episode -- wondering if my key would still work.

It did, and I let myself in, pushing the shoal of post away to look round the denuded house. A list of weekly inspections going back to May was in the kitchen, surveys which had failed to spot the stray tab of acid in one of the kitchen drawers. I collected some letters: 5.7K still outstanding, despite it having been thrown around in the debt market, its value decreasing with every new "Assignment", as the correctly-buttoned letters called it.


An hour or so with Kitty, in her fairy lights- and lamp-lit front room, cosy and unaffectedly arty. We drank to her success in getting her new job, and her escape from the institution which might have once been a school but is now a combination of a children's day hostel and palliative psychiatric unit for the under-11s.

At this point, with my pleasant demeanour starting to dilute her reserve, I knew I should have stopped or greatly slowed my drinking. But no, the juggernaut trundled forwards, the brake marked "self-control" flat to the floor yet ineffective. I got truculent with her over her doubting that the microdosing is actually that.

The mood was gone now, but she offered me some tea, which I should have refused; but never cooking in my place in Bristol I am often hungry, or malnourished on train sandwiches. I ate it and left, the Days Since I Have Acted Like a Twat to My Best Friends meter, set back to nil.

Kitty sent me a text. "...I wish you weren't so self-absorbed and so easily hurt."


Rght then, 2019.

1. Continue to get a grip on the drinking. Most of the unpleasantness I inflict on others comes from the bottom of a pint glass.
2. Rebuild the trust and perhaps, in the long term, the closeness with Kitty and Wendy. Almost everything I need to do is in Kitty's text, but points 1 and 2 are closely related.
3. Get my own place.
4. Get out in Bristol more. Find a couple of pals to go out dancing with.
5. Fillet three chapters from this blog to dangle in front of an agent.

12 comments »

12 comments

Comment from: organ-grinder [Visitor]

No. 5 is a must. I’m thinking about disco riffs & organs.

Fri 4th January 2019 @ 17:33 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Bloody ell, can tell it’s Friday night.

Fri 4th January 2019 @ 19:31 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jo [Visitor]

Happy New Year! I really hope that no. 5 comes to pass this year! You are a wonderful writer. Jo

Sat 5th January 2019 @ 10:34 Reply to this comment

I’m with the others. #5 is the place to start. Some success could solve #’s 1-4.

Is that Jo from Please Don’t Eat…?

Sat 5th January 2019 @ 20:43 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jo [Visitor]

No, I am another Jo.

Sat 5th January 2019 @ 23:56 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you both. I’ve been droning on to you lot for too long. It’s time to inflict it on others.

Sat 5th January 2019 @ 21:35 You are currently replying to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

Although it may not be obvious, i think your new year is off to a good start. Despite quiet, solitude, the grind of a day job - these are the things that can provide a foundation for more. Improved relationships - and creativity! Like the others, i hope you pursue #5 - although your story isn’t finished, your stories to date need to be shared with a broader audience!

Sun 6th January 2019 @ 08:08 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thanks DF. Your simple earlier advice was giod: eat, sleep work.

Managed almost a week without being an arse even though I feel the possibility of doing so constantly hovers at my side.

Sun 6th January 2019 @ 13:25 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Failed to spot a stray tab of acid? For shame ;) We upper primates tend to make things more complicated than they need to be… a little discipline (that’s funny coming from the most undisciplined man i know- me) goes a long way… and if it helps the possibility of being as arse is constantly hovering at my side as well haha!!

Sun 6th January 2019 @ 14:03 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I’ve put the dangerous chemicals in a safe place – in my knicker drawer.

You’re right about the discipline. The microdosing is really helping, but it does take a modicum of willpowet too.

Mon 7th January 2019 @ 09:34 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Ooh now…I think I remember my very first comment on loobynet way back in 2005 was about how you deserve to be published! Another vote for resolution number five (and if I can help in any way with the selection/filleting etc then just say)…

Btw also responded to your Xmas day comment over my place….quite agreed the post in question merited a skimread at most…there’s a new post on there now which is shorter and more up to quality I think!

Wed 9th January 2019 @ 16:37 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Golly, 2005, that makes 13 years’ worth of guts to fillet. Therell be plenty of giblets to get rid of first, but I might take you up on your offer of help with it – it’s rather unwieldy.

Hope 2019 brings you plenty of good things (including onions).

Thu 10th January 2019 @ 09:40 Reply to this comment


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


M / 54 / 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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