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ACAB redux

  Tue 15th January 2019

Me, my mum and my eldest are in her still, bright living room in Middlesbrough. Wide streets, houses with front and back gardens and lots of sky, built for working class people before they became landlords' villeins again. But mum is getting worried.

Fiona is asking me how to get on the other web, and how one installs the browser. We mischievously provoke mum's curiosity about this novelty with hints of rugs, weapons and fraud.

"So why would you be interested in that?" she asks Fiona. "Hang on, I don't want to know." We then compound her unease by discussing our plan to go to North Korea after Fiona's graduation. A woman who has never been abroad and doesn't want to, whose last two votes have been for the BNP and Brexit, suddenly becomes knowledgeable about life in the DPRK.

One shouldn't, but there is sport to be had with the uninformed elderly.

To Manchester, where I'm to meet Kirsty and the girls in Manchester Art Gallery. It was Kirsty's birthday, and she (we all) wanted to see the Martin Parr exhibition. Walking slightly behind them all at one point, I smiled inwardly and out at my bohemian, arty brood in their secondhand chic, bandying conversation about.

We were accommodated without a reservation at a lovely tapas bar. We'd left all our cases in the Art Gallery and a delegation was sent off from the restaurant to fetch them. We ran, advert-fast, through the city centre. I was very pleased at being able to keep up with two twenty-year-olds without feeling as though I were courting a heart attack, and without needing much recovery time. I was hoping they'd comment, but no-one said anything.

The food was delicious, and by the time I'd paid for three glasses of Manzanilla, I wish I'd ordered the whole bottle. I was supposed to be getting the last train to Bristol, but Kirsty wondered if I'd like to stay at hers and go back the following day. The rejuventation of our relationship has been an unforeseen pleasure of the past few months.

There is an unpleasant episode on the train back. Two young Asian men get on the little suburban train, and start jauntily moving up and down the carriage, the noisier one half-singing, half-shouting Allahu Akbar. He then stands and leans over a teenage girl sitting down; she looked at me imploringly.

Coming to a boil of anger at this point, I told him "shift your arm," intending to knock it off the stanchion, but he moved it before I could get him. I stood facing him and with my back to the girl, looking him up and down with as concentrated a look of contempt as I could manage. I looked back at her, and she mouthed "thank you."

After a few minutes I had to tell her that I was getting off at the next stop. The Devotee is still standing a foot away from me. As I moved past him, I spat a "fuck off" at him, then spent a good half hour wishing I'd made my parting shot much stronger. Later, I berated myself for not having had the presence of mind to ring the BTP; and later still, realised that it hadn't crossed my mind that he might have been equipped with the fanatic's current weapon of choice.

There's an old brewery near an older quay, on the roof of which someone has painted in large letters "ACAB". In case you're not quite au courant with the acronyms employed by British left-wing groupuscules c. 1990, it stood for "all coppers are bastards."

Underneath it, someone has appended a new translation: "All clitoris are [sic] beautiful." They were mean-spiritedly jetting it off yesterday.


Nice one bruv.

Tue 15th January 2019 @ 22:18 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Ta luv.

Tue 15th January 2019 @ 22:52 Reply to this comment

What a great post. Nothing but good news. I didn’t know who this Martin Parr fellow was so I looked him up. Nice stuff. Tends to saturate his colors.

I hate when I see someone being menaced. I’m always reluctant to step in out of fear and end up feeling impotent and weak. But they don’t fuck around in the subway stations. Better impotent than shot dead.

Thu 17th January 2019 @ 12:03 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you. Yeah, it’s slightly easier here to come to a damsel’s aid because the nutcases in the UK are unlikely to have a gun.

I hope she was alright afterwards. I should have asked someone else to stand in my place when I got off.

Thu 17th January 2019 @ 12:58 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Eryl [Visitor]

You’re back! And in Bristol? Nice to hear things are good with Kirsty.

Sun 20th January 2019 @ 17:11 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Hiya Eryl! Nce to hear from you. Yes, Kirsty’s split up with her boyf for the last six or seven years and she’s spreading her wings socially a bit more again. It’s a shame how it constrains people sometimes, but anyway, yes, it’s been a delight to be seeing a bit more of her. Hope married life is going well.

Mon 21st January 2019 @ 11:03 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Eryl [Visitor]

Married life is ace!

Wed 6th February 2019 @ 23:14 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I do believe there’s a post on the lounge where i had an incident like the one you had on the train, it was with an pro-life nutjob who wandered into a bookstore, good work sir in helping that young lady out.

Sun 27th January 2019 @ 14:04 Reply to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

thank you for stepping up to defend against a bully. prior to retirement, i volunteered with teaching a ’sexual assault prevention and reporting’ class for my organization - i felt it important to teach techniques for effective bystander intervention. We need more of this - shutting down bullies takes a little bit of their power whenever we do it. Your effort was not wasted!

Mon 28th January 2019 @ 02:00 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

kono – cheers, it was instinct really, and a deep, visceral hatred of him. As if starting a chant that recently in Britain has preceded stabblings and killings and bombings wasn’t enough, he then goes on to hassle a teenage girl. The man was acting like a complete piece of shit.

daisyfae – yes I hope it served pour encourager les autres once I got off. We should have something like that course too. We get endless lectures on how to respond to disabled people but very little on sexual and physical and other forms of sexist aggression.

Mon 28th January 2019 @ 10:22 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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