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A pint of custard

  Sun 15th August 2021

"What are you doing?"

I am mixing custard powder with cold water before adding the hot milk. It's not an uncommon form of alchemy in a kitchen, I'd have thought.

"Making custard. He wants custard on it."

He's specifically asked for it thick, so as I pour it on I ask him if it is of the desired viscosity. "Is that OK?" "Just pour it on." "Thicker? Thinner?" "Just pour it on."

I have taken against the man now. There's a power play going on, with him refusing to answer the question. He senses my boss's disapproval and that he can gang up with her against me.

"That's not enough," says my boss, and takes the bowl away from him. She makes a pint of custard -- I know it's a pint because I do the washing up and looked at the level on the jug -- with the emphatic gestures that bosses use when they want to demean one. She inundates the pudding to invisibility.

My boss is one of the most pleasant I have ever had, but she very much dislikes it when one takes the smallest of initiatives.

To force la peste to be over, I go raving. "Italo, electro, disco, house", it said. As I knew she would, Hayley ignored my urging her to buy a ticket immediately, instead sending an email to the organisers which went unanswered. On the night, she was generous with the crack at her boyfriend's slummy, shitty flat. "Are you really going out now?" she said, disappointed that I didn't want to spend perhaps a hundred pounds to slump on a sofa all night.

The place is full to the extent of having to walk sideways past people. So much for it taking a while to get back to normal. It was either a dressy crowd with women in the majority, or my delighted gaze only noticed girls in dresses. A group of young people come and occupy all the seats about me, probably wishing I'd go away. The lad though is friendly, and we talk about drugs and techno before the inevitable ageism, flavoured with homophobia, has to be brought up.

"Can I just ask you with all respect," he elaborates, "do you always come to this kind of thing on your own?" "Not if I can help it, but like I said my friend couldn't get a ticket. I only got a return. It's sold out, isn't it?" No-one would have thought to have asked me such a thing had Hayley been with me. A younger woman as armour.

The e kicked in, and back on the dancefloor the black silhouettes of the dancers were spangled with little rectangles of red confetti.

The following afternoon, revelling in the glassy post-raving daze that has been like a long lost neurological friend, I ring Hayley and ask her if she fancies a pint. Her and K turn up. Whilst K had the pleasant humour of someone who has been to bed recently, Hayley brought a miserable, self-centred, paranoid mood with her. Little hints lately, jokes she's made, have implied she's back on the smack, but this felt more like crack paranoia. I'd left them at midnight so they'd probably been on it for fourteen hours.

I felt as though I was in a laboratory which looked like a harbourside pub. Her mood switched by the minute, taking her boyfriend away for snogging consultations after which she'd return to the table only temporarily cheered.

"Hayley, you're dragging the atmosphere down here. It's a beautiful day, look at the weather. And everyone's in a nice mood, I've had crack, weed, alcohol and I'm on the tail end of some lovely mdma, and you're being all suspicious thinking that we're talking about you. We're not. You're not as important as you think you are. We just want a nice time. You're sat here with two people who love you, so...belt up."

They left suddenly and rudely. The next table had been following it all, and I smiled and gave a little laugh of relief towards them, and welcomed my neurological friend back in.

I ring Mel. "Do you fancy a quiet night in?" I said, partly in order to imply that I wasn't up to sex, although I hardly needed to say that. She's experienced with e and knows how it blurs sexual desire.

She made a delicious Roquefort and mushroom quiche with a base made of grated potato instead of pastry. She was so affectionate and undemanding, despite undoing her blouse and looking down smilingly at my pleasure at her tits in her black bra, which vies for position as my favourite along with the more strappily pornographic red one."You're so girlfriend-y", I tell her. "Lovely bras, nice food."

But despite a willingly undressing girlfriend who's an excellent cook, there remained a scooter-shaped hollow in my life. By kicking the rent and the Council Tax down the road a couple of weeks, I have acquired a replacement for Lesley. I've called the new one Lesley too, as a refusal to let the original out of my life.

I took her out at 1am to the 24-hour offy. It was an exhilarating slalom through the industrial estate, past the fragile sleeping of car- and caravan-dwellers, past a group of black youths smoking weed whilst standing around a car, underneath a dripping railway bridge, and arriving upon the nocturnal Old Market where social life goes on with total disregard for clock time.

Yesterday we went into a new pub I have discovered, a corner house crowded with drunken cider drinkers at two in the afternoon. "Cunt" used in the sense of "close friend"; handshakes and questions about me, just as it should be. It's next door to a posh greengrocers-cum-cafe with a passive-aggressive list of behaviour requests on an A-board outside. It goes on and on, an order of sanitary service. Pleased with themselves, masked middle class people love it, their distaste for the body now writ into non-binding conditions for shopping.


Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Please look after this Lesley. I feel like I should write a short calligraphed note that you could keep in your wallet reminding you to keep things locked up.

And ugh. How I hate dancing in heels - that’s not dancing that’s usually shuffling from side to side in a painful fashion (unless you’re a pro on Strictly). Flat shoes all the way!!

Mon 16th August 2021 @ 12:14 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I’ve got your last one on the wall right in front of me. I hope Mel might think it has worked to some extent.

Yeah heels in the kind of events I go to aren’t nearly as common as they were. Still love them on women though of course but it’s a bit of an ask.

Mon 16th August 2021 @ 14:06 Reply to this comment
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I quite enjoy going out on the Jack Jones… though i’ve been to a few shows where i realized i was the oldest guy there, lol! it is a bit strange when the kids look at you funny and you’re thinking “i’ve been doing this since you were shitting you nappies so chill young ones", of course usually about that time i pull out the vape pen and blow a hit of lovely and quality aroma into the air and then the kids all smile… or i’m off my tits on shrooms and don’t notice ;)

Mel sounds lovely, you lucky bastard!… Hayley on the other hand, i know that type well and at some point doesn’t matter how gorgeous she is they’re more a pain in the arse and tiresome than anything else… quality as always my friend.

Tue 17th August 2021 @ 13:16 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yeah, I’ve got this slight worry I’ll become the Oldest Raver in Town “character". I’d rather just be left alone to dance, except when I’m chatting to people on the settees. Most young people are OK – it’s just they find it difficult to think that they don’t have a monopoly on taste.

Mel is indeed lovely. It’s an odd situation. I wouldn’t call it “love", but it’s more practical than that. Hayley, on the other hand, is just a taker. She gets away with a lot because of her looks.

Wed 18th August 2021 @ 08:22 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Eryl [Visitor]

Just saying hello (mostly because I’m too bamboozled by your many antics to say anything else).

Mel sounds great.

Sat 21st August 2021 @ 16:53 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Looby [Visitor]

Hello Eryl hope all is well. Mel is indeed great and shows slight signs of being corruptible too. So no complaints.

Mon 23rd August 2021 @ 17:11 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.

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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 Comfort of Strangers

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