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A quiet night inn

  Fri 19th May 2017

Few things in life are as weird as your first day at work.

My shift at Newby Bridge started with a handshake with the head chef, before him and the sous chef started a ping-pong in which the sous chef read off names of films he'd seen, while the head chef said "got that." "Pulp Fiction." "Got that." "Casino." Got that." Over and over again went this bagatelle of status. I stood between them, unwilling to say anything in case I put myself into a position in this hierarchy. It was pitiable to see, the junior trying to please the senior with his inferiority. It carried on in their conversation for hours.

The work was relentless, hour after hour of pan-scrubbing, bent over a sink. The crockery is OK, but the difficult things are the yard-wide metal dishes of burnt-on lasagne, the huge saucepans coated with some sauce or other with bits of leek and hard-layered egg, and the metal "flats", into which food leeches fat, which ends up gripping the surface after a few minutes under the lights whilst it's waiting to be plated up and taken to the restaurant. You have to scour them manually, and in the meantime the waiting staff are bringing in more and more crockery which ends up stacking up as you get further and further behind.

No breaks, eating forkfuls of lasagne when you can. "I don't want to put you off mate," said the head chef, "but this has been a quiet night."

He showed me some caravans at the back of the hotel, which you can rent, sharing with another employee, for £150 per month and no bills. I worked out that a full-time job there would come out at about a grand clear, so I'd have eight hundred and fifty to spend. But at an immense cost -- hardly ever seeing my girls, no spontaneous nights with Kitty and Wendy; a chattel of the hotel, trying to wank quietly with an illiterate film-lover in the next room.

Afterwards, I could hardly walk, a curve in my back as I went to the bar like an old man. I slugged down two pints. At the bus stop, I watched my bus roar past, me gesticulating ineffectually as I realised, too late, that I was on the wrong side of the road.

I creaked open a phone box, which had a card for a taxi firm stuck in the corner of a notice advising you about a consultation period before the phone box is removed. Alarmed spiders shrivelled to their corners, strands of cobwebs stretching to an unaccustomed widening of the door. We agreed on thirty quid. Four hours of work.

You can only get as far as Ulverston on public transport at that time of night. I had planned a night of couchsurfing with a stranger, but after talking about it, Trina rang me to say that she'd paid for a hotel there instead. She's very generous sometimes, and I was glad to be free from having to pretend that I'm interested in someone else's life that sleeping on their settee would have involved.

I got to the hotel, worn out, dependent, and dejected, and had a pint which was so expensive that I'd have refused to pay for it had I not been staying there. I watched wordless skiing on the TV.

In the morning, the alarm went off at 10.30. It felt like 6am, and it was an aching body that I took to the shower.

I rang Wendy, who said she could come down the pub for an hour. She was wearing the green dress. I wanted to make the most of the one second of clasping, the only times I ever get to touch her, her smiling hello before our embrace intended to remind me of my unreachable distance from her. I slid my hand up from her waist up to her bra-strapped back, and it was over. Wanting to stay holding her, I sensed and agreed, against every fibre of my will and my body, to her slight movement away, as I heard her wordlessly saying "enough, looby. Exterminate, at least in your outward actions, your desire for me. You have no choice if you want this conversation to continue." The separateness she writes into our bodies.

"When I used to work in advertising, I was young, and, I think, fairly beautiful, and I used to just walk into offices and get jobs. It's different now though." "You're still beautiful though." It's the first time I've ever known her acknowledge how desired she is, and even then, it was by reference to her past.

The hotel hasn't rung me about any more shifts, and I'm pleased about that. I do not want to leave Lancaster. Not now, not while my girls are in their last summer here. Not while I cannot get over Wendy. Not while Kitty is here. Six girls -- my daughters, Wendy, Kitty, and Kim, are elements of myself. They stop me being an individual, a state much less attractive now than it seemed earlier in my life.

It pains me constantly that the particular form of love I feel for one of them, the love I most want to express -- a natural and unforced desire as selfish and is it selfless -- isn't wanted. Instead, I have to cultivate its opposite -- an unfeeling, an operation performed without the anaesthetic that would work on emotions and desire. I can act out lovelessness towards her, but doing so makes me know how false this is for me. Only a dishonest gloss of my feelings makes her comfortable; honesty is overbearing and unwelcome. When I tell her that I love her, she'll often say "and I love you too." She doesn't love me. It's her way of changing the subject.

4 comments

Comment from: kono [Visitor]

We call the kitchen porter the dishwasher here in the states, i once did it at a breakfast place when i lived at the shore, it’s a fucking tough physical job, over here people seem to have no respect for it yet they don’t realize it’s the most important job in the place, without it there are no clean dishes or cutlery… of course i was always hungover and stoned and spent a fair amount of time in the cooler huffing nitrous oxide out of the whipped cream canisters, it was like it never ended, i’d usually be the last one there standing in water and covered in shite, at least they didn’t call you back!

I think it’s time to give up the Wendy addiction as well my good man, there is no point in torturing yourself and it seems to be a one-way street in terms of who gets what out of it, i know you’re guffawing and telling me to fuck off right now but it’s an unhealthy situation, hell i fall in love with a new woman every ten minutes but it doesn’t take me long to get over it ;) and one only has to look at that last line, if only a dishonest gloss of your feelings makes her feel comfortable and honesty is overbearing and unwelcome than you need to walk away, of course i am just a voyeur on the situation but think of all that energy you could put elsewhere… okay i’ll now step off my soapbox.

Fri 19th May 2017 @ 16:13
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

It was tough, really hard, and yes I think I’ve escaped there. I just feel for the poor fucker doing that job right now.

I know you’re right about Wendy. I can’t work out how to stop feeling for her the way I do. If there’s any clues you can give me about giving up on her, please let me know.

I got as far as googling for “how to fall out of love with someone” and there was one interesting page which explained the chemical changes that occur when one has an intense attraction towards someone. I was wondering, seeing as nothing else I’ve tried (internet dating, talking to women in pubs) has worked, whether there might be the possibility of a pharmacological solution to my plight. I know how stupid this may seem but I am absolutely out of ideas now.

It would be easier if we weren’t friends. Normally, if you try with a girl and she’s not interested, you can just delete her number and not see her again. I can’t do that with Wendy.

One day, she’ll meet someone else, and she’ll tell him truthfully what she falsely says to me. That will cut me to the core, and then I probably will stop seeing her.

Fri 19th May 2017 @ 18:49
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

I remember it being exquisite torture. I know I come across as a smug married, but remember J married someone else while I was in love with him. (HOW rude.)

Fri 19th May 2017 @ 22:12
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Most inconsiderate. But patience is often rewarded…

Mon 22nd May 2017 @ 10:39


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