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End game

  Wed 30th October 2019

Me and a fellow plongeur are sitting on a step in the street on a break from washing-up. I thought we looked novelistically proletarian, in our soiled aprons, our bare arms cocked akimbo on our knees. The back of the hotel faces onto an instance of a cheap pub chain, and had I known him better I'd have suggested hiding our workwear and having a crafty pint.

He started showing me pictures of his girlfriend's Cuban auntie, who was posing with her back to the camera, turning round to check we are looking at her arse.

It was cold in the street, and as I looked at her picture, I rubbed my hands together. He rang her, mistaking my gesture for sexual attraction. "She a good woman -- you go home, she suck your cock," he said, making a gesture. A ripple of distaste in my stomach; I smiled. Stupidly, I agreed to add my colleague on Farce Book. Since then I've had a missed phone call from her, and messages saying te quiero.

Catering work is relentless. There's no wider purpose. People come in, leave the place looking like a shithole, and we spend the time round midnight making it look like no-one was there, hours of cleaning and polishing of glasses, crockery and cutlery, hoovering a room the size of a ballroom, heaving heavy furniture away, lugging yard-wide buckets of melted ice downstairs -- before another privileged group comes in to despoil it again.

Struggling with the ice I was reminded of the description in a Henry James novel (it must be Portrait of a Lady, the one James novel that I enjoyed rather than worked through), of the demanding labour required to maintain ice-houses in locations remote from the main house. The poor not only serve the rich, but create their wealth for them.

I'm in a pretty pass. In the combination of time and money I have neither. When you work long hours, at least you're supposed to be well compensated. But I've been tunnelling.


On my last day doing the dinner ladying in the private school, I left them with a card, thanking them for their kindness and patience. I told them that I was starting a new job I was offered a month ago, as a Mental Health Support worker. I joshingly trotted out the clichéd quip about how this job had been good preparation for the forthcoming one.

All bonhomie (and thankfully, this being a solidly working class place to work, no hugging), we parted on the best of terms.

The following morning, I got an email from the home in which I was to start work, saying that in the light of the information revealed by my criminal records check -- now rebranded into its tough guy successor, the "disclosure and barring" check -- they were unable to employ me. I suppose it's the Caution for possession of MDMA from 2015 that's the obstacle, not the shoplifting peccadillo from 1986.

On Saturday, I applied for a job I'd rather do. It's in a callcentre, but it'd be working for a charity which provides advice for women who might be thinking about having an abortion. I wouldn't have to fake it, for once. They emailed me today, offering me a telephone interview tomorrow morning, a hurdle to overcome before a face-to-face one.

4 comments »

4 comments

Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Ack. There is no appreciation for cleaning and putting things straight.
I hope you have some better luck soon.
Meanwhile - keep writing.
Sx

Mon 4th November 2019 @ 08:44 You are currently replying to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thank you my dear. I have a couple of escape route maps stuffed down my trouser leg…

Mon 4th November 2019 @ 10:29 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Hope the interview went well Looby. God knows you deserve a break out there. Sure escape from the plongeur’s life is coming for you soon, one way or another.

Wed 6th November 2019 @ 22:17 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Aha – I have news… which will be here by midday.

Thu 7th November 2019 @ 09:30 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

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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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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