Disaster Interviews

  Wed 3rd May 2017


I feel like I've been tricked into making the first episode of a new Channel 4 series called Disaster Interviews.

"So, you live in Lancaster, but you've applied for the job [in a bookie's] in Kendal..."

"Right. I was under the impression that the job was in Lancaster, but Kendal's OK." It was in Lancaster -- it's their cock-up. We then went into a diversion where we talked about the practicality of getting back from Kendal at 10pm at night. It's possible, if I walk two miles to Oxenholme station, outside of which is the phone box in which I flirted with hypothermia the other night.

She asked me "so" -- everyone's started prefacing sentences with "so" all of a sudden -- "tell me a bit about yourself." I must have looked a bit startled as I sat open-mouthed for a second or two, before guessing that the question really was "what is your work experience and how is it relevant to this job?"

The cv I sent them contains slivers of truth dotted about a larding of out-and-out invention. I was about to tell them about the one legitimate element of the current stage in my brilliant career when she interrupted me to say "so then you went to work for Sorrento Cafe in Ormskirk?"

Sorrento Cafe in Ormskirk doesn't exist, but on one of the many versions of my cv, it's my current employer, but I had forgotten I'd said so. During one of our spells of cordiality, Trina agreed to pretend to have been its owner, and to forward to me any letters from prospective employers, so that I could do the vetting process on myself. What a good robot he was. Charming, honest.

"So, you were living in Lancaster but working in Ormskirk?" "Well, at the beginning, yes, but I started going out with the café’s owner. I was commuting there every day but I started staying at her house and then got a room in Ormskirk to be nearer her."

I blundered my way through the rest of the nail-picking hour, my nervousness a catalyst for my loquacity. I demonstrated a talent in which I truly excel -- talking at inordinate length whilst saying nothing at all.

At last it was over -- the one moment of togetherness with my interviewers being our shared relief at this state. I went to the chip shop, then to Wetherspoons.

I bought two pints of ale and one of soda water. I teetered up the steps and set them down on a vacant table. I looked up and noticed my interviewers sitting at the next table. They were fiddling with their phones. Just as I thought I had escaped their fields of vision, one of them looked up and said "hiya."

"Ha ha, great minds!" I said, continuing the nervous, improvisatory mood I had forced on them. Fucking hell. Even in our dinner hour, we can't get rid of him. The interviewee as stalker. The interviewee as leech.

Oooh! Comments!

Piss off

  Fri 28th April 2017

It's 3am. Not normally a time you would be loading the washing machine.

I went with Wilma to her appointment with the alcoholism clinic. There's normally a three-month waiting list to get referred -- this is how pissed we all are in Lancaster -- but she's in a bad way and her doctor has fast-tracked her an early first appointment, which consisted of being her given a bottle of Librium pills and a chart of how she's got to dose herself with them.

Back at mine, we had a couple of bottles of wine, the last hurrah before she has to stop drinking at midnight. Everything's going fine and we're chatting away. She's the size of a studio flat but she has got quite nice tits, and with a preamble I cannot recall, she takes her top off and I start fondling them and sliding my hands inside her black bra. We both enjoy it and it gets a bit kissy.

We go to bed, where we do not have sex. I don't fancy her, and I have this idiotic but tenacious idea in my mind that I don't want to be unfaithful to Wendy. The knowledge that we will never have sex does nothing to dislodge my pointless fidelity. Wilma and I are sexlessly spooning, and I am nodding off, when I notice that peculiar form of warm wetness that comes from embedded piss. I am outraged that she has done that, on my futon mattress. I get up, wash myself, change my clothes, and stomp off downstairs. I write her a note.

Wilma. You have pissed in my beautiful lovely futon mattress. You are never coming round here again, ever. You just piss piss piss. On my floor I can cope with, but in my bed, NO. I will always be your friend but I am never ever going to have you in my house again.

I sat in my kitchen, twisting my clasped hands in resentment, then thought "why the fuck am I sitting here?" I went up to my piss-scented bedroom and roused her and told her she's got to leave and that she's never coming back. "You've overstepped the mark, you really have Wilma." Not a word of apology, but "where are my clothes?"

You can't wash futon mattresses, part of the reasoning being that you're supposed to not fucking piss on them. They're heavy enough without the addition of a couple of pounds' worth of a friend's urine, but I manhandled it down from the second floor to the cellar and out into the yard, where I've hooked it over the line.

Earlier, in the pub, Lancaster's Most Unconvincing Transsexual was droning on about the death of her (his?) former boyfriend, with that draining expectation that others are going to be interested in a long recitation of the details of the distress caused by a stranger's demise. Vic was equally boring about some ludicrous scheme to grow and sell pot, into which he has wasted two grand. I was reminded of something that a man in a pub in Glasgow said to me the other week: "They see people like you as easy meat."

No-one was listening to anyone. I was trying to tell the story about Wilma pissing on my kitchen floor, and never got to the end of it, constantly interrupted with the immediacy of the drunkard's chat. "Oh, are you off?" said Unconvincing Transsexual. "Yes, you're not listening to me, so I can't be arsed. I'll see you soon."

I'm tired of all this drunken, pubby, mutual self-examination. I'm tired of my own voice and that of my friends. I want to go to Newcastle and do this course and be busy and tested, and make sociable, tasty meals for me and Kim, and amuse myself at night by making my stories about unzipping Wendy more elaborate, and to write over-sexualised postcards to her and then rip them up in the morning.

The application for the CELTA course which will further such hopes is quite difficult. The grammar and the vocabulary sections are easy enough with a bit of Googling to aid my extensive knowledge of English, but the pedagogical sections are more testing. "How would you teach the difference between 'skinny' and 'thin', bearing in mind that your students' command of English is limited?"

Oooh! Comments!

In Darkest England, And The Way Out

  Wed 26th April 2017

Monday morning. As I was making my useless canapés, Wilma rang. "Have you got any wine? I really need a glass of wine. I've got the DTs." It was a quarter past nine. I had a bottle of red, intended for Wendy. "Well, I'm cooking for Wendy at the moment." The hint flew over her head. "It's just I'm really shaking."

I crooked the phone and opened the fridge: half a bottle of the lodger's Pinot Grigio. I suppose that's replaceable, so I said she could pop round. "Wilma, don't piss on that chair will you? Wendy's coming round in a bit." She drank the wine, continently, then got in her car, because even a five-minute walk is beyond her.

Wendy arrived. We got stoned, drank Prosecco, ate my useless canapés. She said that her ex was vile towards her after she'd got back from her being out with me -- and, as he was lied to -- Kitty -- slinging insults at her in front of his daughter. In another scheme to isolate her from me, he told her that he is not allowing his daughter to be around anyone (me) who takes drugs. "OK then, well, you'll have to have The Little Dictator more often." He agreed, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Male jealousy and possessiveness were also rampant in County Durham last weekend. Kim rang and told me she'd ended it with her boyfriend. In the latest of several incidents of its kind, he'd gone on and on at her at an outdoor rave when a bloke started talking to her, pulling faces behind his back and not letting it drop when she was trying to brush it off.

Whilst he was away for a few minutes she rang her brother asking him to meet her when they got back, the ripples of a former boyfriend turning violent when she left him extending even unto now. All these insecure men, wrecking relationships with intelligent, gorgeous, well-dressed, witty, sparky, younger women none of whom are interested in me.

Kirsty said the other day, "surely, one of your friends must be able to put you up for a while if you're stuck. What about Kitty?"

Kitty said the other day, "surely, with all the people you know, you're not going to end up homeless?"

Wendy said the other day, "in extremis, couldn't you stay with Kirsty for a while? It is your family after all." No-one in my coterie is in a position to help me. They all think someone else will.

However, I have had two offers. Wilma said that I could live in her spare room for free. I imagine a urine-soaked immiseration, piss and bleach fighting against each other for supremacy. The other was from Helen in Norway, which I will decline for the reasons I set out in a letter I sent today to the newly-single Kim.

Hello pet

I would like to make you a decent proposal (for once). I can't remember how much I've told you about the house, but I have to be out by 4th June. I'm in a bit of a pickle and it's thickening every day. My friend Helen suggested I go and live with her in [---] in Norway, which is a much more attractive prospect than staying with my mother in Middlesbrough, but a pauper like me might struggle a bit in the world's most expensive country.

Then, Kirsty made a suggestion the other day about something called the Advanced Learners Loan, which has the great advantage of not depending on any credit checks. I could use this to do the modern version of the TEFL certificate. I did my TEFL cert twenty years ago and anyway it's been superseded by the new CELTA qualification.

At the moment I'm applying for minimum wage jobs, and recently attained a new nadir in being rejected for a job in a pie shop. It does seem a bit of a waste for someone with a degree, an MA, a PGCE, and a Tufty Club certificate in crossing the road right.

So here we go -- the CELTA is offered at [a college in] Newcastle and the next course runs full-time from 5 - 30 June. I wondered if you fancied having a well-trained, domesticated house guest for a month. It's quite a demanding course so I wouldn't be under your feet, although I'd be very happy prancing about your kitchen in my fetching Orla Kiely pinny.

I thought I'd put this in writing so that you could consider it at your leisure. Whatever happens, I hope we can meet up soon. I'm sorry it didn't work out with...but men like that only get worse over time. Nil desperandum! X

There was rejoicing in the House of Kirsty on Friday. My middle daughter, the actress, has been accepted onto the BA in Professional Acting, at Bristol Old Vic. Three interviews and auditions, a thousand applicants chasing thirty places. It all started when she was one year old, when she painfully winded me and Kirsty by bouncing onto our stomachs at 5am, arms akimbo, announcing "I, awake! I, awake!"

Oooh! Comments!

Silly point

  Mon 24th April 2017

I've been at the girls' house all weekend. In the garden, chatting with them as Lancashire v Somerset burbles away on the radio. Back here, the private tears again. I'm worried about what's going to happen in a few weeks' time, when I won't have anywhere to live. I can't afford anywhere here. I have no money for the deposit even on a room, and I'll have to give away all my furniture and white goods. I am trying to get a job but time is running out. There is no council housing round here for a single man.

Wendy is coming round tomorrow morning and I want to welcome her with some nice things to eat. I have set my alarm for 7am -- a pointless precaution, since I'll be worrying wide awake long before then, and I'll look worn out, dark-ringed, panda-eyed for her -- not that how I look will ever alter her total lack of sexual and relationship interest in me.

I will go to Sainsbury's and get the things I need so that I can make something to present to her. The sadness knowing that all effort with her is useless. I want to make one of the last times we'll sit uselessly distant at this house, knowing that we will always be distant wherever we will be, uselessly nice for her. My useless canapés. Forty useless pounds left in my account. A successfully useless smile tomorrow, thanking her uselessly for our little factory-stamp clamp-release hello. My useless cooking for her. My useless love, which she doesn't want. My useless knowledge of this. My useless efforts at resigning myself to this.

Oooh! Comments!

I spend a night in a phone box

  Tue 18th April 2017

Me and Trina went to a friend's boat party in Chester, dancing down the River Dee to superb music, with subcultural people in the stylish know, then onto a little nightclub in town. Twin beds in the hotel; a worry that Trina would climb in next to me which wasn't allayed until she started her semi-snoring rasp.

The following day she had to change trains in Wigan, but being in no rush we spent a few hours in a couple of pubs. She turned, soured by drink, dragging the mood down with the precise details of how I am so thoughtless and unkind. I went to the loo, partly to escape the dissection of my failings. When I came back she had gone. I didn't text or ring her, knowing that a drunkard's apologies are the most reliable thing about them.

I fell asleep on the train home and missed my stop, ending up in Oxenholme instead. The last train back to Lancaster had gone, and I spent a freezing cold night in a phone box. I texted Trina. "Missed my stop. Quality night in a phone box coming up!" I was hoping she might get her brother to come to collect me. "You idiot! You can't expect people to bail you out with taxi fare for doing that." "I'm not after your money! Anyway, you have a nice night in your warm bed. Night night."

I tried curling up, but modern phone boxes have a gap of about six inches at the bottom, so the wind blows straight through. I was shuddering with cold, and sobbing with the lack of Wendy and the weight of everything that I've got to deal with. I almost thought I could get hypothermia. I tried jogging up and down on the spot, then at about 4am I couldn't stand it any longer, and walked round and round the village for two hours until the first train. Dog-walkers interpellating you into their bracing, clubby bonhomie of morning.

I finally got into bed, still quivering with cold; and another run of tears, wishing it were Wendy. She rang just after I got up and I told her all about it. Her lovely voice. "If it were you, Wendy, there is no way I would leave you in a phone box. I don't care how much it would have cost, I'd have come and got you."

The following day, still irritated with Trina, I drafted, but didn't send, the following.

Hi Trina

I have an invite for you. It's to the next few meetings of the Let's Criticise looby Club.

It's a fab social club. There's plenty to drink, and looby will be there, ready to hear all about his limitlessly varied failings, faults,
misdemeanours, moral errors, mistreatments of others, his drinking, his neglectful and selfish behaviour, his blindness to the needs of others, and the thousand and one other ways in which he fails as a decent human being. He's a fantastic doormat and will be incredibly patient as a boringly pleasant evening is changed into something much more enjoyable -- endless criticism of him.

One thing we know you'll enjoy at The Let's Criticise looby Club, is the opportunity to terminate the evening without such tiresome things as basic manners -- which can be so burdensome when you're with others. But at the Let's Criticise looby Club you don't need to bother -- you can just walk out without saying a word.

The meetings can be arranged whenever suits you. Occasionally looby is busy with people who treat him kindly and who enjoy his company, but don't worry -- they're not there all the time.

We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.

The Secretary
Let's Criticise looby Club
branches in Lancaster, Wigan, and throughout the North

I feel overwhelmed at the moment. I'm going to lose my house soon, and I can't afford the rents in Lancaster. Even a room in a shared house here starts at about £75/week. I'm going to have to give all my furniture away, everything I've collected over the years, because I can't afford storage.

The miserable prospect looms of having to go to stay with my mum in Middlesbrough, and then when would I see the girls? How would I ever get back to Lancaster, unable to afford the train fare over here for job interviews? I'm getting rejected for minimum wage jobs. I didn't get the job in the pie shop, and the other day, failed even for one in care work. And most corrosive of all, above everything else, I can't stand the situation with Wendy, which is worse for knowing that there is nothing I can do to change it. There's a weight of water behind my eyes, every day.

Oooh! Comments!

<< Previous :: Next >>

looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

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

"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

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

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

Partial archives only - uploading everything since 2005 will take time

"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Desiring Progress
John Fallas
Lauren Redhead
The Rambler
Resonance FM
Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
Talking Musicology

  XML Feeds

[Valid RSS]

Email address hiding by

Better DNS with

Self-regard reinforcement by


Blog software

©2017 by looby. Don't steal anything or you'll have a 9st arts graduate to deal with.

Contact | Help | Blog theme by Asevo | Photo albums software