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You don't understand me

  Fri 18th August 2017

I went to have a haircut before meeting Karen. The hairdresser said she was from Bradford and had taught herself a bit of Urdu.

"Why did you learn Urdu?" "Well," -- the hesitation on the pivot of concealment and honesty -- "I had to." She told me of the pleasure it gave, listening to a headful of abuse from the local Pakistanis before sending them off with a rejoinder in a tongue they'd thought opaque.

Halfway through my inconsequential drink with Karen, I went to the bar and met a couple of the barmaids who work in the same pub as she used to. "How's it going?" "Naah, friendzone. And some bloke has plonked himself next to us and is going on and on and on about his fucking split-up." "Well, it's a bit of a stupid place to bring her, isn't it? Anyway, serves you right for being such a slag."

Karen's "friend" was wearing a repellent T-shirt, four images of women's arses (just their arses) in different knickers. He misses his ex-wife so much that after I left he started asking Karen to snog him. She told me that a few years ago he was acquitted of rape.

The landlady came round to clear the glasses. "How's it going -- Slag?"

After three hours, I was drunkenly paddling in a level of self-disclosure I didn't want to yield, so made up an excuse about the girls. "You off?, said one of the girls at the bar. "You know, you can do better than Karen." "Can I? Who with?"


Wendy came round to help me sort my house out a bit. My front room has been a depressing sight for a week or so since my book club friend dropped most of my furniture off, none of which I could move by myself.

Our efforts to move the awkward, tall bookcase looked like something out of Laurel and Hardy, but we managed it all. Kitty turned up to help, which she did by twiddling a glass of Riesling. I'd made them a bit of dinner, a simple potato and bean bake effort and a Non-Specific Levantine Salad, and was surprised at how much they enjoyed it. We sat outside in the sun with more wine, Wendy's gorgeous blue dress almost a character in itself. "Nope," she said. "Children and dogs now, and that's it."

Looking round the room afterwards, I felt rejuvenated (rescued?) somatically and mentally; whilst even at the time twinging with wondering if this new-found feeling would be sufficiently robust to withstand my nightly extended remix of mutterings of abandonment, of being unloved, the same sentences addressed to Wendy over and over again.

But in the meantime, I have a front room which has Wendy all over it, and is bordering on the pretty, and because of this, I've got right back into reading, for not reading itself is a form of unhealth. From the quotations that precede Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, John Bunyan writes in Augustinian mood.

...gladly would I have been in the condition of the dog or the horse, for I knew they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weight of Hell or Sin, as mine was like to do... [A]nd though I saw this, felt this, and was broken to pieces with it, yet that which added to my sorrow was, that I could not find with all my soul that I did desire deliverance."

Deliverance. What a pregnant word.


As she was arranging my books, Wendy showed an interest in a collection of A L Kennedy's short stories but forgot to take it with her. I inscribed it. To Wendy, with a houseful of love X. I put it in an envelope, wrote her name in the form that her ex is now copying, and cycled round to deliver it -- something which required tactics from 'Allo 'Allo! I parked my bike a few yards away, crouched down close to the pavement, slowly and as noiselessly as possible pushed it through the letterbox, then eased the letterbox's flap back shut. A low voice from inside.

I ran back to my bike and cycled round the back alley to avoid being seen. I ran into her washing stretched across the back alley, her blue dress interfering with my face, her ex's voice unmistakable now.


A-level results day. I should be happy, stars and distinctions shining everywhere. But I'm going to lose you. Middle daughter, who goes went to a posh comp in Preston, said that after they'd all opened their determining envelopes, they'd had Buck's Fizz and strawberries and cream. Eldest, who goes up the road to a school sometimes described as "mixed", said that they'd had Tesco Value chocolate bites and tap water.


To Morecambe.

In the pub, I stroke every toilet roll holder for coke, but it's not rush hour. I'm here because I had a ticket to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak, but I didn't receive the email informing us of the top secret venue.

In the charity shop, a man is haggling over the price of two black corsets. "Hope it bloody fits her," he says. "Do you want a bag? Or do you want to walk round Morecambe with two corsets?" "Don't give a shit really. We're getting divorced. Last bloody present she ever gets."

6 comments

Comment from: kono [Visitor]

I always loved it when women would tell you how much better you could do with than the current one you were chasing, my response was the same as yours, except usually i’d add that if they’d like to sleep with me instead than say the word, sometimes that actually worked…

Under the Volcano is brilliant, i’ve read it three times and it gets better every time…

and laughed out loud at the toilet roll trick, i used to check the back of the tops of the toilet tanks and in the place where i’d hang with the drag queens the men’s toilet had a little shelf, sometimes there would actually be lines still laid out that people forgot, needless to say they didn’t go to waste…

Sat 19th August 2017 @ 13:21
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, I did think of saying to the barmaid, “well, do you want me then?”

Great recommendation then kono, your approval adds more to my anticipation of it. It’s fucking great getting back into reading.

And yes, I’ve found all sorts in The Shipbuilder’s Armpit. I found a dropped bag of about a 1/3rd gram of charlie in the loo once, and went back down, having stuck the lot up my hooter, and my friend said “I’m fucking pissed off, I can’t find my fucking charlie.”

Sat 19th August 2017 @ 19:14
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

I dreamt about you last night. No, not in that way.

I was staying with you and a man and woman in their 20s started banging on your window. You asked me to tell them you weren’t in and hid under a blanket in the corner of the room. Unfortunately the top of your head was clearly visible, so the game was up. The woman got really cross with me for lying and I said “Alright love, it’s not like I killed a baby!”

Wanting to defuse the tension I offered to make everyone a brew (feeling acutely self-conscious for appropriating that Northern expression)… and then the poodle jumped on my face and woke me up.

Sat 19th August 2017 @ 20:19
Comment from: [Member]

Fucking hell, oh dear me.That made me laugh.
Was it a real poodle?

I had this weird dream the other night where I was in The Shipbuilder’s Armpit and the landlady – who wears really good shirts and who is a little bit fanciable – in my dream there was this moment where I was with her and she wanted to be taken home, and I took her by the hand in the pub, leading her somewhere, and we stood still for a minute (or an hour) with her feeling wanting to be loved.
It was really meaningful.

Fuck it, I don’t know.

Sat 19th August 2017 @ 22:22

Unlike you two big brains, I tried Under the Volcano but it bounced off my skull. Kono read it three times and I couldn’t get through it once! Okay for you guys.

Mon 28th August 2017 @ 12:10
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s intense and atmospheric, and of course, I don’t find it difficult to relate to the figure of a man who is unravelling his own life at the end of a bottle.

Mon 28th August 2017 @ 13:56


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M / 53 / Lancaster ("the Brighton of the North").

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