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A right ding dong

  Sat 18th January 2020

On Radio 4 the other morning there was an interesting programme about the future of work. Academics and policy advisers on what? 60K?, were being interviewed by someone on more than that, to talk about the redemptive value of work. An ex-GP said that he had wished that he could have prescribed "work -- like shelf-stacking" [sic]. You don't need to read a thing to acquire a class consciousness: the middle classes will dole it out to you daily with their giveaway speech.

Payday. From top to bottom:

  1. Savings.
  2. For when I'm 65, or my funeral, whichever is the earlier.
  3. The week's rent.
  4. To Kirsty, for our family holiday in Brittany in August.
  5. A week's pay.
  6. Booze.
  7. Cash withdrawal done after I got paid to stop any direct debits or standing orders being taken.
  8. A pint in Wethers.
  9. Bus fare.
  10. A bottle of Katy from the Co-op. So hardly the balance sheet of a spendthrift.

This is becoming a typical week. It's not viable. I started an application for Universal Credit, but got stuck at the point where they wanted details of my landlord and rental arrangements. I can't involve Cath in anything like that. She's sub-letting to me -- I don't want to complicate things further for her. However, things are about to become complicated for all of us.

There's a knock at my room's door. I checked to make sure that I am neither mid-wank nor mid-drugs. "Can I have a word?" says Cath. I feel my breath decide to exit from what might be an awkward situation.

She explains that the landlord has raised some issue to do with his mortgage conditions, and that it's likely I'll have to move out at the end of next month. Cath has lived here for twelve years: she's more or less bought the house for her landlord. Now, he's arguing the toss over her having lodgers. We are model tenants, late fifties, employed (after a fashion, in my case); a random inspection would reveal our gleaming toilet bowl.

"It's a rather extreme idea", she says, "but it might just work, if you and me entered into a Civil Partnership. You are single, I suppose?"

I agreed to the plastic marriage plan enthusiastically. I said I'd love having a party over something fake. We might have to kiss publicly, but that's what cheeks are for.

I like living with Cath and Simon. They're my age, bright, well-travelled, uncynical. We're on a quiet, catty street with little traffic, yet only a couple of minutes away from Gloucester Road, in case you fancy queuing behind prams carrying Beaumont and Tilly, pushed by parents in walking gear, to pay £3 for a biodynamic loaf. I will report back after our summit meeting tonight. In the meantime, I've been considering my options.

1) I ask to move in with Hayley. I think I would become exhausted with her within a fortnight, although she's got a full time job now. Me and Hayley work best as druggie dance partners.

2) I try to find somewhere by myself. But a fiftysomething man has little capital in the sunshiny world of young house sharers, and I have no means from which to raise a month in advance, a deposit, and removal expenses.

3) Trina said I could live with her for a bit while I prostituted myself out at the hiring fairs, until such time as I could afford a room. I'd greatly miss Hayley, my Bristol adventure has hardly begun, and Trina lives in a drowsy city.

At the Extraordinary General House Meeting last night Cath made us a delicious peanut soup out of the Lidl brochure that came in the junk mail the other day. We're all in this together: if I were to move out, neither Cath nor Simon could afford £675 a month each to stay here.

The situation is that we can have a maximum of two separate households occupying this house. There are currently three: Cath and her daughter, Simon, and me. Were I to merge with Cath in a civil partnership there would only be two. Cath is less enthusiastic about that than I am, but will consider it. Once we've got the certificate to shut the landlord up we could just wait a couple of years and obtain a separation. Don't buy your hat just yet though.


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Blimey!! A marriage proposal!!
I looked at the Universal Credit forms during a phase of poor cash flow and decided that starving was preferable.

Sat 18th January 2020 @ 11:09 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Well, a Civil Partnership of Convenience anyway.

Cath has drafted a letter to the landlord. “…looby and I have decided that we would be prepared to formalise our relationship and enter into a civil partnership, creating two households which would satisfy your mortgage conditions.

As you can appreciate, this is a huge commitment on our part and we would like some assurance from you that this would be acceptable and that we could continue our tenancy under these terms.”

Another complication is that I would receive Cath’s pension should she cark it whilst we were thus hitched.

Fook’s sake, the things renters have to do!

Sat 18th January 2020 @ 18:13 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

Is the pension the only reason you’ll consider marrying Cath vs her daughter or Simon?

Sun 19th January 2020 @ 11:04 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Sally Gregson [Visitor]

A sign of the housing boom vs chronic shortage of affordable housing in Bristol! Go for it Looby. You have nothing to lose and it would be a shame to leave Bristol so soon.

Sun 19th January 2020 @ 13:32 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

MM - she’s only worth 150 a month and I don’t fancy the daughter. Lose-lose. Your flippancy is very flippant. Flipping eck.

Sally – yes, it’s a bit dire down here. I’m all in favour of it. Cath’s alright and although nothing remotely romantic is going to happen, we get on really well and she’s pretty fit so I wouldn’t be faking much. I don’t want to leave Bristol. It’s ace here. More interesting and unpredictable than Lancaster.

Sun 19th January 2020 @ 18:39 Reply to this comment
Comment from: 63mago [Visitor]

Marry, and sell the story to the tabloids and breakfast tv.

Thu 23rd January 2020 @ 09:12 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Well, it looks like we won’t have to resort to such earnestly desperate measures now. More on this story soon.

Thu 23rd January 2020 @ 14:24 Reply to this comment

Good to see you’re still fighting the good fight and still laying down the best lines in the ether. I had a proper catch-up. Please carry on.

Fri 24th January 2020 @ 01:49 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks Exile! Glad to see you back too.

Fri 24th January 2020 @ 09:02 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

“check to make sure I’m neither mid-wank or mid-drugs…” the story of my life…

I know a rather wealthy lesbian who pulled this off, got her partner’s nephew citizenship after a term of “marriage", she was overweight and 25 years older than him and he was a South American tail merchant, makes me giggle every time i think of it.

And i always have a grand time with the financial types of the world, me old man left some dosh and they are constantly calling me to do this or that for my “retirement” and i often tell them i’m going to cash out and take the dough to the track or stuff it in a suitcase and split for Costa Rica so that i can sit on a beach and sell trinkets and weed to tourists (though i leave the bit about the weed out), they don’t seem to understand that it’s just an arbitrary means for bartering for goods and services and that while it’s a necessary evil and it sucks to be broke the accumulation of wealth is fucking non-sense, some of my best times were spent broke living hand to mouth, but for fuck sake what am i on about now, see this is why i try to stay mid-wank/mid-drugs, keep my hands occupied so i don’t go round spewing shite cuz i’m a fucking recluse who spends most of his time conversing with his cats ;)

Sat 25th January 2020 @ 14:22 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

I fucking love this xx

Sun 26th January 2020 @ 23:50 Reply to this comment

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

M / 60 / 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.
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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.
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.
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The Comfort of Strangers

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