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An inspector calls

  Thu 7th April 2022

Well, a surveyor. He's here to check the "structural integrity" of my flat. I am glad that he dispenses of his mask a couple of minutes in to what seems a very easy way of earning forty grand a year. We chatted about our experiences of internet dating. He's got a few on the go. "I forget who I'm talking to sometimes."

In Tesco, a swarthy middleaged man rushes in, head bowed. "Beer, beer," he says, tracing a receding point on the floor in front of him. As he passes the cashier, he looks up at her and says "buona sera, signora." There are two punky girls in front of me at the till. Deliberately laddered tights, short inflammable skirts over stocky legs, heavy make-up. They're stylish, confident, deservedly pleased with themselves.

One of them fetches a bottle of that Spanish wine that is laced with an artificial gold criss-crossed lattice imitating the straw coat some wines used to wear, capped with an anti-theft plastic top. "It's in stockings and has got a condom on it," her friend says.

Then it's the turn of the gas man. He tells me that my problem is that my radiators aren't bonded. I didn't realise they had to have any relationship at all.


I host a couchsurfer from Germany. He said he chose me because of an old picture of me at an anti-fracking demo, which is just a self-advertising technique. I explain (beforehand) that I won't be in my unbedroomed studio flat and that I will be staying at Mel's, but I'll cook him a dinner and settle him in. He arrived, bringing a bottle of Pinto Grigio, poured us each one glass, then screwed the cap back on.

I made the most expensive meal I have ever cooked for anyone, fennel and vodka risotto. I already had the vodka (a Polish man gave it to me on a train), but couldn't find any fennel in the arse end of Bristol where I live, where B&M Bargains is the nearest thing we have to a greengrocer, so I had to scooter up to the trendy organic shop in my old suburb, where some arborio rice, a red onion, a packet of stock cubes, and a couple of lemons cost an astonishing twelve pounds.

I cooked it to the recipe but it was disappointing. I was hoping that the fennel and the vodka would give it a bite, but the arborio rice, as is its wont, flattened everything. He ate three portions of it though. It felt like having a little boy to stay.

Before he left, he said that he had gone to the pharmacist to get a thermometer and some tablets, but was frustrated that they didn't have the ones he wanted, and had slammed his skateboard down on the pavement, breaking it. He said he'd left it in the funny cupboard and asked me if I could send it back to him as it can't go on the plane. I am going to propose my costs, plus fifty quid, see what he says. Otherwise it can go on the tip.


My middle daughter, in a week off from touring with As You Like It, comes to Bristol with her girlfriend. They have an unforced rapport that is a pleasure to witness. Mel reminded them of when at Christmas my youngest opened the door to one of her friends and introduced me. "This is my dad. He eats cheese and farts a lot."


My new scooter helmet is going back, to be exchanged for the size above. This one pushes my cheeks forward like a hamster and makes me dribble. But the heightened respect you get on the roads is well worth the seventy-five quid.

4 comments »

4 comments

Comment from: kono [Visitor]

You are one fetching bastard! No wonder Mel is so fond of you… if it really goes tits up ’round here i know there is a couch to surf across the pond! Lovely tales as usual my friend.

Tue 12th April 2022 @ 01:42 Reply to this comment
Comment from: Scarlet [Visitor]

Cheeky bugger, that couch-surfer!
Nice helmet!
Sx

Fri 15th April 2022 @ 23:10 You are currently replying to this comment
Comment from: monkey man [Visitor]  

Wake up Looby!

Wed 4th May 2022 @ 20:29 Reply to this comment
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, thank you for the prod in the ribs MM. You’re quite right, things are getting neglected here.

Mon 9th May 2022 @ 22:26 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.


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

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
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63 mago
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