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The road to nowhere

  Mon 20th March 2017

Did a bit of mystery shopping in Morecambe the other day. I had to pretend to be interested in buying a diamond ring. "Well...we're engaged and I have no idea at all about the prices..." "What's her name?" "Wendy." And I went into this long improvised story, answering the assistant's questions about what she wears, what jewellery she likes, fluently. It was my most enjoyable mystery shop yet, talking a half-correct fantasy about Wendy, making up a piece of faked theatre in real time.

Afterwards I repaired to a pub which has been greatly improved by the new licensees. What passes for genteel society in Morecambe has been ousted by the gap-toothed and borderline homeless; the elderly female couples with spray-stilled candyfloss hair replaced by the tracksuited and prematurely aged, hair straightened by grease, bodies like plumped potatoes. We sat watching the horse racing and someone tried to explain how a Lucky 15 works.

Outside, an ambulance was attending to a man lying comatose on the floor with a bloodied head; he'd shat his kecks and pissed himself. "Not the first time -- won't be the last," said the man next to me in the loo when I asked him about it. I texted Wendy with a vignette. "...It's fucking marvellous in here".


I have to find somewhere else to live by 4th June. There's a scheme here called property guardianship, where properties which are in some sort of ownership limbo are let out, on highly advantageous rents, to tenants who serve as informal security guards.

I cycled out to Halton, a village about three-and-a-half miles from here, and was shown round a house which was compulsarily purchased so that a new motorway extension could be built to Heysham. Roads are the one thing in the UK for which there is a bottomless budget. With the competence that we have come to expect from our public bodies, they didn't need it in the end, so it's now back on the market for £1.8 million. "There aren't that many people round here with that sort of money," said the agent, "so there hasn't been that much interest."

The available room was quite small, and there wasn't much of a kitchen, only a small ante-room with a couple of electric rings, but there was half an acre of attractively neglected garden, a large conservatory and a huge room with French windows which was yearning to be used for entertaining. £40 a week, all bills included.

They listed the various documents that I'd need. Proof of identity, recent utilities bill, landlord reference...but the only one I wouldn't be able to produce is a wage slip. The internet is a wonderful thing however, and for £15 someone will produce one for you on that authentic-looking blue paper, with any details you like. I rang them back afterwards and said I'd be most interested in taking it on, although they had said they'd had quite a bit of interest in it.


Wendy rang this morning, wondering if we could meet for an hour or so once she'd been to see her elderly Dad. Of course, I leapt at the opportunity. I was already down the pub. A woman who has unconvincingly changed her sex invited herself to our table and produced an edition of Flaubert's letters, and was talking interestingly about the myth of genius. I'm limited with Flaubert to Madame Bovary. "Yes, the great French novel of adultery," I said; and immediately that stupid sentence had had time to travel from my mouth to my ears, I winced in my stomach and on my face with the recognition of its banality, and urged her to go on and tell us about Flaubert's correspondence. Later, my friend got a bit snippy to her about some minor detail of R.D. Laing's autobiography and I had to console her a bit. This is the kind of actually quite untypical conversation we have down the pub on a Monday afternoon in Lancaster. Lancaster is better than almost anywhere else.

Ten minutes before she was due to arrive, Wendy rang saying she'd had a puncture on her bike in Morecambe. Had she wheeled her bike home without meeting me, she could have got to the school just in time to pick up her daughter, but she engineered the timing of her phone call informing her lazy fuckwit jealous unemployed fifty-year-old infant of an ex, who sleeps on his mum's sofa every night, would have to do the enormous favour of picking up their daughter, so that she could spend a bit of time with me.

You don't need any more slathering prose from me about how loveable, seductive, cock-hardening, slinky, subversive, exciting, bewitching, strokable, stupefying, and desirable Wendy is to me. But we talked, her in a close red and white dress which sloped fuckingly down over her, as she told me of how The Infant is quizzing her all the time about who she is going out with on 31st (when we go out dancing in Manchester all night, and for which she has bought a new dress), and about the dog getting a bit aggressive in the park the other day, and then me telling her about the house I went to see.

I yearned to have my arms round her, to pull her close and kiss her, to smile at her, and for her to know that it is precisely her, with every action and word, that it is her, you Wendy, you at this moment, by everything you do, that makes me love you.

On the way back to the girls' house, I stopped on the street and texted her. "I've never loved you more." I meant it. It's a breath-easing liberation to never once say a syllable to someone which is untrue. I love her. The intensity of it, and its novelty, helps me turn aside from my knowledge that this unreturned love will run itself into wanking as a wretched substitute for love, over-sexualised and devoid of the closeness I want with her.


....this is terribly disgusting but even the act of texting you makes my cock stiffen. You looked so lovely XX.

And fuckable.

Didn't get the Halton house. I'm ever so sorry darling, it all does come out when I've had a few.

6 comments

Comment from: [Member]

The comment form is now working again for non-logged in users.

Tue 21st March 2017 @ 11:28
Comment from: [Member]

Shame about Halton. Your public was looking forward to Wendy in the willows.

Thu 23rd March 2017 @ 11:44
Comment from: [Member]

So was I! :)

Thu 23rd March 2017 @ 11:48

Glad you got this sorted out. I had several pithy comments about this post but they are lost to history.

I just saw Look Back in Anger at the Film Forum as part of their Brit New Wave Festival. Richard Burton was a master even at that age. Claire Bloom ravishing. Produced by a young Harry Saltzman! Went with a British friend who provided excellent historical perspective. Britain still reeling from WWII. That’s the problem with the U.S. We’ve never had bombs rain down on our cities. We lack perspective.

Fri 24th March 2017 @ 11:11
Comment from: kono [Visitor]

Call me a mischievous but while mystery shopping i’d have subtly dropped in how as soon as my fiance’s sex change was done we were getting married, just for fun of course and with any luck i would have worked in a little dialogue from Dog Day Afternoon… and the internet, the vast wasteland that it is, can also be a treasure trove of info for those of us who like to skirt rules, well done sir.

Sun 26th March 2017 @ 16:26
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Thanks you two!

Exile – yes, spontaneity is all. Comments always feel a bit deflating if you have to rewrite them.

kono – That would have been fun. I love the spontaneous inventiveness of mystery shopping.

Mon 27th March 2017 @ 01:59


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