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Any port in a storm

  Tue 12th May 2020

There's a little ragged patch of ground in one of Bristol's epicentres of homelessness and drug taking, used as an informal, twenty-four hour outdoor social centre. I met a commercial lawyer, her husband, and two homeless people there the other evening. She bought us all some cider and Buckie. "At last," she said to her husband, "we've met a straight man who's camper than you."

They said they had both had the lergy, a story which is at least compatible with their Twitter feed, and invited me back to theirs. We danced and got more drunk. One rarely meets a poor lawyer, but it was kind of her to keep us in supplies all evening.

They asked me what music to put on and they were politely unmoved by my choice, but were gracious enough to let a fairly long track run its course. Hayley would just switch something off after a minute if she didn't like it.

I had to get home, lest I risk a repeat of my recent disgrace. I was very reluctant to leave. I was hoping I'd made two new friends, and they were arranging getting something that I like, which is out of favour nowadays; people talk about it in the past tense.

On my last day at work, I got stuck in a corridor. Doors both ends, electronically locked. I was lost, looking for the area where I'd been told to work. Agency workers don't get a badge with which to operate the doors. As I was wondering about how to spend the night there, and leaving a puddle of piss, I was rescued by a big black man called Sampson, who released me and escorted me to where I was supposed to be.

Next morning, my boss informed me there is no more work, not even at the hospital. We're in the least lergy-afflicted area in Britain, so they don't need extra people.

I went up to the Common to try to stop worrying about the fact that I won't have my rent this month. I sat under a tree, drinking, feeling a touch self-consciously tramp-like amongst the impeccable middle classes taking their leisure. I rang Kitty, who urged me to overcome my timidity and tell Cath about my situation.

Emboldened by two pints of Romanian lager I came back and explained the situation. She was more understanding than I had any right to expect, telling me I could defer or reduce the rent in the short term.

Bristol offering few opportunities at the moment, I tried thinking of a nearby city, commutable on the train, with a population of fat, smoking, sugar-addicted alcoholics who might be miraculously dying from covid after having had two strokes, lung cancer, pneumonia and decades of the general misery of living in southeast Wales. I've therefore applied for a job on a rubbish tip in Newport.


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

…on a rubbish tip in Newport.
Now there’s a title for your novel.

Tue 12th May 2020 @ 14:52 Reply to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]

No corona work in Bath, which I thought you were referring to. Keep taking the aspirin: the health assistants from the covid ICU there were told to start practising taking blood from each other for when testing starts, and all the blood coagulated in the syringes, explaining why youngish people are dying of strokes.

Tue 12th May 2020 @ 17:14 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes Scarlet, although I would hesitate to piss off the Welsh and contribute to their vague embittered resentment any further.

Fuck’s sake MM, I had no idea about such practices. Thank you for the forewarning. That’s terrible, that’s a dereliction of training.

Tue 12th May 2020 @ 21:32 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

Yes, I think maybe just hide it away as a Chapter Heading Looby (assuming the Newport Municipal Waste Dept are suitably impressed by your varied CV, of course).

The ‘locked between two doors’ interval brought a chill to my bones as it reminded me of when exactly the same thing happened to me, when working (it was a Friday afternoon, just like now) in an otherwise deserted terraced house converted into Council-run offices. Luckily I could get mobile phone coverage and got my boss on the phone to arrange rescue… but not before a battalion of Manchester’s Westside Constabulary had been scattered to attend to what, alerted by my scuttering about within the alarmed corridor, they had taken to be a break-in. Sod knows what there would have been worth nicking in the place- a couple of knackered old photocopiers, if you were lucky.

Fri 15th May 2020 @ 15:15 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Ah, well, we should have collated our stories of corridor imprisonment before Roger Luckhurst released his recent book (which is on my Christmas list, but I doubt I’ll be able to wait that long), Corridors: Passages of Modernity. There is something a bit sci-fi about that particular form of confinement. I hope you managed to explain yourself.

Thankfully the Newport Municipal Waste Department (or whatever privatised successor has ousted them) has shown little interest in my supplication towards them. I can’t in all honesty say I wanted to work on a rubbish tip in Newport. Or work in Newport at all. Or go to Newport. I’m not sure I even want to write about Newport.

Fri 15th May 2020 @ 20:30 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Jonathan [Visitor]

You know what Looby, I’m relieved for you there. Any port in a storm is one thing, but I wasn’t feeling anything good for you out of the whole Newport thing even merely in remotely potential form. Now let us never speak of it again.

Fri 15th May 2020 @ 23:03 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.
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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 working man is a fucking loser.
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