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  Mon 23rd March 2020

Bristol, Wednesday

Immediately I got back from working at Cheltenham races -- four long days for £287 net -- I came down with some sort of lergy. It wasn't the c-word; I wish it had been. I slept for fourteen hours one night, thirteen the next, clammy and sweaty, in between moving my heavy bones with effort into my school dinner ladying. My hearing is muffled and my mind confused: on Monday I walked into the walk-in freezer thinking it was the toilet. The rest of my work has dried up, and I've no sick pay or any kind of safety net.

I'm advised by a group of multi-millionaires to work from home, so I've invited seven hundred children round to my house for dinner tomorrow. I'm advised to self-isolate, so I'm going to wait for four hundred and fifty pounds a month to be dropped at the door by a DeliveRent person until this blows over. I can shoplift the rest.

It's not without its advantages though: both universities here have closed, which civilises the pub, no students shouting their way through the afternoons.


Before the collective hysteria got going, me and Trina went to Whitley Bay for a soul weekender. It was a flat weekend, poor DJing, music too poppy; regretted sex.

Trina dropped me off at the station in Wigan. I spent a couple of hours in one of my favourite pubs, a middle class-, hipster beard- and coffee-free zone, where gap-toothed blokes sit fucking and bollocksing their way through their habitually leisured afternoons. Sharon, in her short leopard print skirt, was as adept at keeping the conversational spinning top circling as any Tolstoyan hostess. Or, in the ugly argot of academe, she'd be said to be "facilitating".

The racing was on the really, a pint of mild was £2.30, and an Alsatian-ish mongrel sprawled itself seigneurially across the floor. A bloke said "he's a plumber, but I'm fucking fitter than him." If you saw the speaker you'd realise how low the bar for physical fitness is in Wigan. How I will miss all this now.


A train near Lancaster, Monday

I'm on my way back to Bristol to start work cleaning a hospital. Four weeks, at least. On Friday evening, on my way to Lancaster, the agency rang up and threw me this financial lifebuoy. It'll exact its own cost: today it's 4pm till 10pm, from tomorrow its 7am to 10pm, with a two-hour unpaid break in the afternoon. My relief at having an income again comes with a worry about how I'll cope with the cumulative lack of sleep. Yet another short term solution.

I spent the weekend in Lancaster. The girls are, perforce, back at home. It was also my birthday weekend, although that was marked with not a single card nor present from anyone in my immediate family. On Saturday night Jenny found a Eurovision journalist online who suggested camping up our quarantine by tuning into one of the previous years' contests at 8pm precisely (if one still "tunes in" to a "broadcast" nowadays). I was almost sold Twitter, with Jenny reading out the funnier comments of some of the people who were watching at the same time. The girls had set out bowls of those delicious, unsubtle crisp flavours which set your tongue throbbing.

Yesterday, after telling me on Thursday that she thought it best if we didn't meet up, Wendy suggested a turn round the park. "You've turned up without any alcohol?!" she said, and hugged me, which I wasn't expecting. "Oh...that's better," I said, like a physical relief. We got two small bottles of wine from Spar, and found our old spot where we used to sit during my intoxicated years.

5 comments »

5 comments

Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Let me be the first to say ‘appy birfday my good man. If i was across the pond i’d buy you a pint or four followed by one of my “special” homemade brownies and chased with some magic mushroom dust before shuffling off to one of those dance parties you like so much… a soul weekender will do ;)

Mon 23rd March 2020 @ 19:22 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

kono, that would have been *ideal*! Thank you!

Mon 23rd March 2020 @ 23:04 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Belated Happy Birthday!!!
Are you sure you didn’t have the C-word? You could be immune now, sweetie!!
Sxxx

P.S We are all skint now.

Tue 24th March 2020 @ 11:26 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Not sure, but I didn’t have the tightness in the chest. If I could, I’d inject myself with it, get the bloody thing over with.

Hope you’re alright love. I’m only up the M5 if you fancy succour at a six-foot distance (or two metres, as we must call it now).

Thu 26th March 2020 @ 14:38 You are currently replying to this comment
Comment from: daisyfae [Visitor]

Another belated birthday wish! Like kono, i’d have taken you out for a pint or six. Xoxoxo

Fri 27th March 2020 @ 16:20 Reply to this comment


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


M / 56 / 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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