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Untransfigured Night

  Thu 30th April 2020

I'm back from an unplanned evening walk, deliberately following darkened streets and alleys, the underpass with its anti-shooting-up blue light, until the sky opened to a lambent half moon in the park, like a Bristolian Verklärte Nacht. The couple there weren't close in any sense though. The man stood impatiently at some yards' distance from her, looking backwards, huffing, waiting for her to catch up, treating her like a dog on an invisible extending lead.

Back in Hayley's street, a black woman in colourful long layers fails twice in her kissing. "Goodnight!" she says. "See you tomorrow!" "Mummy! You haven't done it properly," says a little boy, as she goes to sit in the car. "Oh Lord," she says, and kisses him again.

"You still haven't done it properly!" I give her a sympathetic look. He allows her this time. "Got there eventually," I say. "Eventually!" she smiles back, and I skip up the steps to Hayley's flat on an arpeggio of neighbourliness.

Saturday, and Hayley and Harry arrive at half past eight in the morning. This means it is still last night for them. I am slow to start, but we get going on her birthday, the cider, the crack and the mdma. The music is too loud.

I offer to go out to replenish our stocks of booze, and sit for half an hour under some dogged trees in the Bearpit, a roundabout with a sunken pedestrianised area avoided by most pedestrians. An old bearded man standing still. A couple playing frisbee boringly. I want them to kiss, touch, stroke, but they just toss the plastic disc to and fro, to and fro.

Back at Hayley's, they give me a rock to suck on. I am a little sick and hot, and go to sit down. It passes; I am aware of my skin. Everyone talks sotto voce and I feel close to them. With a calm so intense, it becomes suspicious.

"What is this?" I ask? Oh fuck, they're getting me into smack now. "What is this we're having, now?" "Crack!" she says, like an impatient, worn-out teacher. I quieten, ashamed of having doubted her, upsetting the collective reverie.

Harry and Hayley share a plan: Harry moves into Hayley's; I illegally sublet Harry's flat. It makes sense, since I think I have burnt my bridges with Cath at The Lovely House. They are pleased to hear it, and next day go off to start cleaning and clearing it out.

The following morning, after a few hours of tossed-about, imperfect sleep, I am in the garden when Cath calls. I don't want to face her, but she's friendly and asks me if I'd like to come back. I say I'll return the next day, Monday.

On Monday I wake up at dawn, and immediately fall into the hyperthermia, bad nausea, sweats, and vomiting unto bile and then simply retching, of mdma poisoning. I recognise it from a previous experience after a weekend in Blackpool with Trina. It can go for days, and doesn't grant you an interval in which to sleep.

I get up, having been in bed since 7pm on Sunday, at 10am on Tuesday. On Monday morning I did what must have sounded an impressive ringing in sick, in which I was sick during the phone call.

They keep coming back with reports of their latest little improvement to "my" flat; but I can't rely on an illegal tenure that depends on them sustaining a relationship. In my usual anxious and cowardly way, I haven't told them I'm moving back to The Lovely House. I can't even get lost in alcohol: I've been off it since Sunday, an uncommonly long time for this devotee.

The agency rings to say that there is no work next week, and that the agency itself may have to fold in a month or so if we're not let out by then.



Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

‘I can’t depend on an illegal tenure that relies on them maintaining their relationship’. Looking back on the last few posts Looby I’d say that is an absolutely sound judgement. I’d also worry for you (really) getting drawn into Harry and Hayley’s crack-world, you were just saying how that particular drug is an expensive (you didn’t add, massively dangerously addictive, but isn’t that also the case?) waste of time, and I think again you were right there.

I do also recognise Looby that the other choice of the Lovely House falls short of ideal, maybe in some significant ways… But for their faults they sound like kind people, if they weren’t, that bridge would have stayed burnt.

I really hope you don’t mind me being as direct as this Looby, as I really value our blog-friendship… But I’d just say there are very good reasons why you feel uncomfortable about taking H and H up on their offer, and when you feel strong enough that tricky conversation about them laying down the DIY tools they’ve got out in preparation for you, is one you’re just going to need to have. If they value your friendship, they will understand and respect your choice.

(OK…and breathe!….)

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 08:46 Reply to this comment
Comment from: [Member]

Jonathan – you’re talking nothing but good sense as usual, although given the portentuous preamble in the penultimate paragraph, I was expecting something a bit more less reasonable :)

I don’t get the addictive qualities of crack, but for a person who has very little spare money each week, the problem is that I am socially obliged to chip in with purchases I can’t afford. Even if I could, I still think it’s a waste of money. I’d honestly rather get us a couple of decent bottles of claret.

I’ll have to ring or go round to them today, since this is the day I’m moving back to The Lovely House. I understand how I have blotted my copy book in their eyes (and I won’t labour the point that it’s irrational for them to be happy for me to work in a hospital but not see my friends), but they’ve extended an olive branch here. I’m grateful to them for that, and willing to accept it.

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 09:20 Reply to this comment

In some cultures, tossing a plastic disc to and fro is foreplay.

I concur with Jonathan but was too cowardly to say anything myself. Too afraid of looking like a busy body. Please take care of yourself. It’s a slippery slope, even for an old pro.

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 11:58 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Wot they said above.
I’m even more of a coward. I’m pleased you are going back to The Lovely House.

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 14:05 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Ha ha Exile – that was better for me having to think about it for a sec.

Please – anyone – don’t ever be afraid of giving me advice. My own steering is a bit unreliable at times.

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 15:44 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

It’s probably nothing serious Looby maybe just the bearings on your front axle. The good news is there’s no need to bolster the coffers of Kwikfit, your regular comment box mechanics provide a full diagnostic service, and for what I believe is termed ‘mates rates’. Ie you’ll buy me a pint when this is over…

Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, I think I was losing a couple of ballbearings there, but it’s good to know I’m in such safe hands. And that’s a deal… as long as we don’t do anything silly. Like stop at just the one.

Fri 1st May 2020 @ 23:41 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I’ll just echo the above mate, be careful, i loved rock when i first tried, egads that’s over twenty years ago now, i saw how addictive it could be, you actually commented on a post years back when i wrote about the basing with the Hippie Jack and two young ladies. And good move and going back to the house, Hayley and Harry will most likely be a train wreck one way or the other, best not to be anywhere near the tracks when it happens.

And from experience i know that sooner or later they’ll need money for rock and you’ll be hit up, berated if you don’t give them dosh, reminded about all the times they spent money on it, the sooner you ditch that scene the better. As you know, i speak from experience ;)

Sat 2nd May 2020 @ 14:17 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes kono – that’s already been happening in a way. I don’t want to join in with it but for as long as I was living there it was very difficult to refuse. I really cannot, on 30 hours on the minimum wage, afford crack.

It was fun while it lasted, but what an expensive form of fun. And also – and I blame no-one but myself – I’ve ended up losing a week;s work as an indirect result of being there. It can only get worse.

Back in quiet suburbia now with the cats and the old people :)

Sat 2nd May 2020 @ 15:34 Reply to this comment

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

M / 57 / 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.

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