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  Mon 11th February 2019

What is success in life? Loving children, a happy and mutually supportive relationship, a close circle of friends, a stable job you enjoy, and cultural interests that expand your worldview?

No, it's falling off the waggon at 9.45 on a Monday morning in Lancaster Wetherspoons. I lasted twelve days.


It's Kitty's birthday tomorrow so a few days ago I tentatively suggested I could be around in Lancaster, whilst knowing that my presence might not be welcome and that The Injunction would mean I'm not allowed at Wendy's. She wasn't keen and said she was too busy and tired to be doing anything. I decided to come up anyway. I told Fitbit I'd be here, who was more enthusiastic and kept checking to see if I was still coming.

I found a bargain place to stay for £15. It was in this little terraced house near Kirsty's. The front window was crowded with cheap coloured vases, dozens of them, lambent even in Lancaster's resentfully granted light. In my room in the attic, he had an open drawer for his shell collection, sectioned in little open boxes. They were gathered together in a taxonomy of "mere" physical resemblance. I liked that he privileged visual similarity over any other kind of classification, and it was a long pleasure to pore over them.

Fitbit was in the company of three women: a friend with whom she'd recently been reconciled after calling her a fat bitch, her mother, and the latter's best friend. It was Fitbit's birthday last week, and I'd sent her a card with two common garden birds on it with the words "nice tits" printed on it. I love the way that her shirts fall and rise over her tits.

"Your card!" she said, looking at me with faked displeasure. "Yeah, well, you're a common bird, so obviously I thought of you straight away. And you have got lovely tits." She slapped me on the arm, a dissembling show of offence.

We went to another pub -- the roughest, it's alleged, but watery tame in even regional competition. A bloke I vaguely know from Lancaster pub life kept leaning over and shaking my hand in that overstated demonstration of closeness peculiar to the uneducated working classes. Me and the old bird got up and danced and got snogging. I liked it, and I liked that no-one in the pub gave a fuck.


Today I came up to Middlesbrough to see my mum. Middlesborough is the socially warmest place I have ever been to. You make the slightest effort and you're in; you don't make an effort, and they wonder why you're not trying.

My mum makes me laugh. We often visit the same topic, our impure, darkened bloodline. I knew that one of my uncles was called "The Nigger", ("well, we never meant anything by it, just that he was dark") but I didn't know until tonight that my grandma's sister was nicknamed Inky.

14 comments

Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

So you are the wizened dwarf in the dungeon at the end of the endless corridors in the joke.

Tue 12th February 2019 @ 10:57 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, several hours in cheap pubs can leave you feeling a bit drawn.

Tue 12th February 2019 @ 13:17 Reply to this comment

You’re the only person who should define what success is. So how was the 12 days? Any improvement over how they would’ve been had you not stopped? Are you going to make another go of it?

Your bloodline is what gives you your soul. Embrace that!

Wed 13th February 2019 @ 11:51 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Not much to be honest. I saved some money – which I gave to middle daughter, who is in drama school down here with the upper middle class arty crowd who have far more money than her. She struggles a bit keeping up with their social expectations. They’re ignorant of income differences, in a way that you’ve described in your NYC journal extracts, which give me a stomach pang of recognition.

There was an ambivalent advantage of knowing that I was more naturally reserved when speaking to Wendy and Kitty, but I’m not sure that being “reserved” is something I’m aiming at with them in the long run. However, I am going to do it again. The money is the main incentive, and knowing that I’m not taking any risks with work is another.

I’d love to know where this SE European / Jewish / Roma look comes from in my uncles and aunties.

Wed 13th February 2019 @ 16:22 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

Get yourself DNAed & you’ll discover you’re Danny Dyer’s long-lost cousin.

Fri 15th February 2019 @ 06:31 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

In true Beatles case judge style, I had to look up Danny Dyer.

Here’s a helpful picture for the similarly benighted https://bit.ly/2S6Z8Zw

Fri 15th February 2019 @ 13:13 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

If kicking shit was easy everyone would be doing it. Just stay the course, they’ll be setbacks but sooner or later you’ll get to where you need to be. Hell i’m a miserable failure at most of the things i do but i somehow manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other… i’ve never held what the adults would call a “real job", my relationship is shit, the writing has gone south, and sometimes i’m absolute shit at shit parenting thing… wow, think i’m gonna go turn Iggy Pop and listen to Success and bask in the glow…

Fri 15th February 2019 @ 13:57 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

If kicking shit was easy everyone would be doing it. Just stay the course, they’ll be setbacks but sooner or later you’ll get to where you need to be. Hell i’m a miserable failure at most of the things i do but i somehow manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other… i’ve never held what the adults would call a “real job", my relationship is shit, the writing has gone south, and sometimes i’m absolute shit at shit parenting thing… wow, think i’m gonna go turn Iggy Pop and listen to Success and bask in the glow…

Fri 15th February 2019 @ 13:57 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

and now i don’t even know how to send fucking comments!! Brilliant!!!

Fri 15th February 2019 @ 13:58 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Ha ha…keep going kono. It makes me look more popular than I am.

Sat 16th February 2019 @ 17:14 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Sandra Fisher [Visitor]

It’s a shame the age of the sitcom has gone. I can see the comedic possibilities of the cartoon Looby character at the centre of this blog;a fatuous, drunk,free-loading bar worker who imagines himself to be a struggling intellectual and ladies’ man.We laugh at the delusions of Harold Steptoe, Captain Mainwaring and David Brent precisely because they are blind to them.

Sun 17th February 2019 @ 20:53 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

I don’t work in a bar, and I haven’t had sex for going on two years, but any way of turning my life into a tv programme would be grabbed with both hands. I somehow don’t think I’m the next Julia Davis though.

Tue 19th February 2019 @ 00:56 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Eryl [Visitor]

Twelve days is not to be sniffed at.

Tue 19th February 2019 @ 13:56 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

And harder than it looks when you’re this far gone.

Tue 19th February 2019 @ 14:52 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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