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Turning Japanese

  Fri 1st March 2019

There's something I've not been telling you. I got the sack. After meeting Kirsty and our girls in Manchester on 8th January for her birthday, I stayed at hers and got the early train back to Bristol, where I was starting work at 4.30pm.

I got back in good time to press the self-destruct button. I sat in Castle Park and added a couple of pints of strong cider to the previous night's sherry and whatever the fuck we got through at Kirsty's.

I turned up for work, ponging of drink. On the platform, a colleague said "for fuck's sake looby, get some mints or something." I did the first bit of my shift without incident. We got to The Big Station and I went to sit in the mess room.

The roster clerk or whatever his title is came in and enquired after me. He called me into his office, saying that it had been reported that it looked as though I'd been drinking, and said that there was "a bit of a whiff" about me.

"Now, look. If you've got anything in that bag, you can put it in that bin and I'm not looking." He thought I'd been drinking on the job. It was kind of him. I was then led down to some manager's office where we waited a full three hours for the breathalyser test woman to arrive, chatting in a friendly way, me hoping that it would take a long time for her to arrive.

I was positive -- 41μg/l. I had to wait until I could be escorted home on the train. The manager who did so was interesting, telling me about his Glaswegian alcoholic mother whom he used to see blind drunk during his childhood and who suddenly stopped drinking one day, twenty years ago.

I was suspended on full pay until my hearing, which was on Valentines Day. I felt ashamed, bumping into my (former) colleagues as I was led up to an office which you don't normally have reason to visit. I set out my sob story, about having returned from a rare chance to get together with my whole family for Kirsty's 59th, missing out the bit about drinking on the morning before I was going to work.

I was sent out to await the verdict. I was called back in and got the legalistic preamble, before a paused moment during which he said "and my decision is..." and held it, like they withhold fortune from TV game show contestants "...summary dismissal."

I've put in an appeal, but my letter is weak, simply repeating the emotional pleading in what I hope is restrained but powerful, slightly legalistic prose. I'm not sure my heart is in it.

Only you, Wendy, Kitty, Fitbit and my dancey friend from Keighley, know. I haven't told Kim. She's a bit harsher on wilfully foolish behaviour than the others. To everyone else, my family mainly, the story is that I've been made redundant.

My sister, who lives in Middlesbrough near my mum, commiserated, but was pleased that I'd be coming back to live there. I fancy neither that, nor going back to Lancaster. I've exhausted Lancaster for a while. There's Kirsty, our friendship revivified now that the ex has gone, and my youngest (the other two are here in Bristol, and Belgium respectively) -- but little else. In Lancaster, I'm a professional drinker, and there's fuck all work there. It's "Chilled Colleague" -- an actual job title in Asda -- or Reader in Biochemistry, and nothing in between. And then there's the damned Injunction.

Having an income of nil is quite a motivator. I got an interview for a job in a cafe.

My detailed lies rolled fluently off my tongue. "One thing I would like to ask though," he said, "is why did you leave a job in Lancaster to come here?"

I shook my head, laughed, and flicked my hair in a pretence of reluctant self-disclosure. "I knew this would come up. Well..." (keep him waiting) "I met this woman on the internet about eighteen months ago and she said 'looby, this isn't going to work. We're two hundred and fifty miles away', and I thought -- well she's younger and better looking than me, and I really don't want to mess this one up, so basically, I'm here for Hayley."

He was smiling. "Um... I'll just put 'personal reasons' for that." He then surprised me by saying "so are you getting something together with Hayley then?" It's a fucking job interview mate. "Yeah! It's going well, she's nice." I haven't spoken to or seen Hayley since our first meeting which ended in a night of Semi-Successful Settee Sex last Sunday.

The day after my interview, the manager rang me up and said "I liked what you were saying there," and offered me the job. I've got references to forge, but friends will help, or if not, I own a couple of domains I can use for this purpose.

I go for a dirty pizza in Old Market and I somehow get involved in talking to this Afghani who plonks himself on my table and initially tells me he's Japanese until I point out the flaw in this argument which is that his eyes aren't slanted enough. We've swapped numbers, but I couldn't remember his name, so I've put it in as "Sosh". I just wanted to eat my pizza in peace really. But without random Afghanis coming up to you in a pizza place at midnight telling you that they're Japanese, life's a bit dull.


Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

Drinking cider in Castle Park isn’t what it was now they’ve fenced off the grass. Very sorry to hear that - the mobility & dosh seemed good.

Mon 4th March 2019 @ 10:12 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes it was one of the more stupid things I’ve done, and the bar for that is quite high. Never mind, onwards and downwards.

Castle Park’s completely open now, apart from a section round the bandstand which they’re putting new drainage in. I like the bit opposite Finzel’s Reach the best. There’s the Schadenfreude in drinking in plain sight of the Image Involvement Emotion Engagement Strategists in the offices opposite.

Mon 4th March 2019 @ 11:07 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

Sorry to hear that you did get the sack but thought it likely after our communication on the topic.

Take care. You know where we are if you decide to go that route.

Fri 29th March 2019 @ 07:19 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thanks Furtheron, I appreciate you saying that.

As the man from AA said to me “if you’re just doing this to save your job it won’t work". And it didn’t.

Sat 30th March 2019 @ 09:16 Reply to this comment

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

M / 59 / 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.
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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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The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

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