23/06: Faint chance

Category: General
Posted by: looby
It's 3.40am and I am in Bristol airport. The slow, calm murmuring of night-time traveller solidarity; all in the same boat here, avoiding paying for hotels, or on flights so early it's not worth it.

I'm coming back from a job interview in Swindon -- a town which, does actually exist. Part of me was expecting a film set, where nothing is for real.

The position itself is in Bristol, and is a job is so desirable, with good pay by my 'umble northern standards, annualised hours involving a shift pattern in which every sixth week is a paid week off.

Yet again, I had to borrow the money. Mum ransacked the plastic meerkat moneybox to pay for a flight from Newcastle, which was less than half the price of the train journey. I had planned to "sleep" in Bristol airport the night before my interview, but mum would have none of it, and booked me in to the cheapest B&B we could find in Swindon.

Halfway through the morning, I was convinced I had failed on a listening test. We were told that this had an obligatory pass mark. We had a tense break while they marked our papers. I texted Kim. "Almost certain I've failed. Disastrous listening test." To my great surprise, I was one of the six of the eleven who passed.

A role play, an announcement exercise, then an interview. I played up my northern accent, hoping to suggest that I come from honest, simple stock, someone who needs a bit of a hand up in life -- and the latter is certainly true at the moment.

My answers were galloping bullshit, well-rehearsed now. One is a heartwarming short work of fiction, set in a non-existent cafe, an establishment which has been useful to be before. Overhearing one of our customers getting a bit upset as the first anniversary of her husband's death approached, I got some flowers and a card for her, and next time she came in presented them to her and wrote off her bill; and a more audacious lie about me insisting in the face of managerial displeasure to retain in the firm's employ a young woman with so-called learning difficulties.

We will find out in a week or so, because we're also up against people in a second round of interviews. Halfway through a bottle of Prosecco on the train back to Bristol, to meet my middle daughter for a drink, I bumped into my interviewer, and got a text from Jenny. "Dad, one request. Don't have a drink before you meet me!"

Jenny led me through as long a walk as my imperfectly repaired broken toes could stand, through the seductive Italianate gorgeousness of the suburb of Bristol in which she expensively lives. She showed me round her drama school and all its warrens. We sat amongst the moneyed young. Men in tubular shorts, women in loose culottes and angled cardis. It is deep south, and they are not my people, even in their very body movements, but Jenny is, and gave me a lesson in how to speak Belfast, using the IPA charts modified for that purpose.

At Bristol airport, with six of the small hours to kill, I tried writing to Wendy's Dad, but my tired eyes were too weak to respect the feint lines (what an attractive word that is for paper, suggesting its orthographic relative is too crude.)

I wish I'd gone up to the bar earlier. At 5.30am, it was packed but queuing -- thank fuck we are in England; this would be chaos in Portugal. Hen parties, rugby lads, and families and the retired joining in. The jovial atmosphere continued on the plane. A man had to ask for an extension to his seatbelt because a normal one wouldn't fit round him. "Sit down, can't you?" said their friend. "I can't, 'cos Fatboy Slim here is taking up two seats." Fatboy Slim complained that he didn't want to sit next to the window. "I might get sucked out." "You wish!"
Category: General
Posted by: looby
I am in The Cucumber and Gastric Band in Middlesbrough. On my right foot is a shoe, on my left a slipper with a slit cut out, in order to help accommodate my toes, three of which are broken.

I was on my way to take up a job in Košice, a summer job which would have begun the process of sewing up my leaky cv. I was staying at Kim's the night before. She enjoyed clucking over me and wrapping my sandwiches in Enid Blyton style.

On my way out of her bathroom at 5am, I shut the door onto my toes. I went to bed and tried to ignore the pain. A couple of hours later, we walked to the bus stop and I got the bus into Newcastle. Getting off, I could hardly walk but at a list, and sat down on any wall that would have me. I made slow progress to the coach station. Halfway to London, a man trod his weight directly onto my bad toes. I let out a howl, thus marking me out as The Man Who Over-Reacts.

In London, I ate into what little, and borrowed, money I had, with a taxi to the nearest A&E Department. A Lesser Spotted White informed me that I had three "proximal avulsion fractures" -- which is a term from the Latin describing the consequences of a dolt stamping on your toes a few hours after you've slammed them into a door.

I was patched up with a centimetre-long bit of lollipop stick, a bandage, and a garish blue over-bandage. "Oooh you've got some bad arthritis in that big toe haven't you?" she said, looking at my larger member on the recto with an artless professional curiosity that I found endearing. Walking, standing up and other load-bearing on that foot was highly ill-advised and would make the breaks worse. She cheerily prescribed a week of immobility, perhaps used to people being grateful for that news.

I suppose a tougher man than me could have ignored this advice and borne it, amusing the teenagers of Košice by conducting lessons whilst standing on one leg, but I'm not as hard as my Northern elective affinity might have predicted.

I emailed the Director of Studies with the glad tidings. As I clicked on "send", there was an almost audible sound of me landing him in the shit. I sat in the waiting room in the hospital until it was time to get the first train back. I watched the theatre of a Friday night in A&E in central London, which could have been improved by some jump cut editing to make it a bit more interesting.

At 5am in Kings Cross, I bought a ticket to Peterborough (72 miles, £16) and stayed on to Durham (233 miles, £83). Mum was a bit surprised to see me, and my mentally disabled brother paced endlessly around the room, droning on a loop about the World Cup, oblivious to the hazard he was causing by repeatedly passing close to my throbbing foot.

I don't like the silence between me, Kitty, and Wendy. I think it is right that I have made an objection to me being corralled out of sight of Wendy's daughter, with whom I get on fine; of being subject to prohibitions about popping round to Wendy's house despite my de jure status as a friend, or being told to leave parties early, and being told I can't go to Kitty's on occasions when my presence would breach The Injunction. But I really wish Kitty hadn't been caught up in the crossfire. I have only Kim now.

Category: General
Posted by: looby
What a mess. Everything. Me and Wendy and Kitty, money, house, job; then this site decided to come out in sympathy with a virus.

I'm in Middlesbrough, at my mum's house. The cricket is on the radio. My mum is reading the paper and my mentally disabled brother is tirelessly pacing round the room. We've all been down Wetherspoons spending some of his disability allowance on a pizza for me and mounds of wet, shit-coloured, shit-textured meat, for the others.

My sister rang up asking if I'd like to go out tonight, but even round here, you can't get tipsy on 7p. I have an interview in Gateshead next week, but I can't afford the fare to get there.

The cricket's ceded to the football against Nigeria. "I love their exuberance, those dark people," says Mum.

My relationship with Wendy may be finished; that with Kitty hangs by a thin thread.

I was supposed to be returning to Lancaster for a few days last month, the highlight of which was going out with them both to a ravey do with them both on 18th for Wendy's 50th. The tickets were a prohibitive £44, so I said that I would meet them at the after-party.

For days beforehand, I could not stop ruminating on the likelihood of a repeat of what happened last November, which both Wendy and Kitty think is nothing, but which ground like salt into a wound, the detestable fact that The Injunction still bears heavily upon me. After a few drinks with Helen, she innocently said that she was going up to Kitty's to see her and Wendy, and assumed that I would like to come to, to have a couple of drinks with my closest friends. Kitty had to remind Helen of The Injunction, and that I wouldn't be allowed in her house, on the ground that Wendy's daughter was there too.

In April last year, when the Injunction had already been in place for months, Wendy said "I will sort all this out." Nothing's been done.

On the back of a few pints, I snapped, and told her, a week before I was due to come over, that I didn't want such a thing to happen again, and that I was breaking with her. Kitty informed me the following morning that she hoped that "one day [I would] reflect on your poor and selfish behaviour" and that Wendy did not want to hear from me again.

On the night of the rave, Wendy texted me. "We'll miss you tonight, you fucking idiot." "I'll miss you too. I'm sorry, pet." And that's been it. More than a fortnight's passed now. I regret falling out with them, very much.

A few days prior to all this happening, Wendy casually mentioned that she was in bed, "...and no Modern Abomination" (she's adopted my term for a shaved cunt), and a train of fantasies involving a unclothed Wendy accelerated onward, even whilst the higher court of appeal in my head urged me to stop it.

A long time ago, I had agreed to go to the wedding of the bloke who made me an illegal proposal a while ago. I had nowhere to stay, and "slept" under a bush in a car park until about 2am, went to McDonalds until I was asked to leave at 4am, then went to Lancaster's all-night bar until 8am, where about twenty of us talked the night away, all social barriers gone. We had conversations about low temperature physics, why we forget things, and a coded one about drug policy (which meant "I'm on something, are you?"). To complete the night, two little boys had a fight.

I went round to my girls' house the morning after, the day of the wedding. "Where are you staying tonight?" asked my eldest. "The bush is still there." "No," she said, "let's go on airbnb. I don't like the idea of you sleeping under a bush," and she booked me into a room in the city centre where I broke the key safe at the entrance as I left, slightly pleased to have done so, the better to irritate the Chilean landlord, who was would only communicate reluctantly.

I've been spending some time with Kim. She's been inviting me to spend a few days at a time with her -- practice for if we end up sharing her house in Durham. Most of the time, we're like an old married couple. Companionable evening silences. I clear the yards of washing up she manages to produce; I "cook" for her, reheating something from her vast store of frozen meals. Down her local, she is the desirable cynosure of all men, and the object of a look sometimes more envious from the lumpen female proletariat of suburban Durham; she manages her performance expertly. I'm the same as all the rest: I love looking at her.

After my Wendy fall-out, I texted her. I told her all about it. "Don't *you* chuck me will you? Because I'm down to one close friend now."

My sister wasn't to be put off. She came round and offered to lend me a tenner if I'd go out with her that evening to one of the attractive small towns in Middlesbrough's hinterland. She's thrown off the yoke of an unsuitable husband, and turned up in a little black dress, black tights and black heels; red lipstick; long, kinked and un-hairdresser-ed blonde hair. I felt uncomfortable with her at first. I've spent little time with my sister, who is fourteen years younger than me and looks even younger; I had to train myself out of my instincts. Within an hour she'd got chatting to a video producer who asked her round his "for a drink in the garden one afternoon."

This morning, I get sent a recommendation of "someone you might like" from the dating site. She's got the same name as Wendy's ex, The Injunction's author.
Category: General
Posted by: looby
Difficulties too miserable to go into now -- both on the computer, and in the wreckage of my relationships.

I'm off to Eastbourne tomorrow for my uncle's funeral, and will be back on Thursday, and as soon as I get back I will be battering these keys to death with my news. The short enticer is -- I might be divorced now from both Wendy and Kitty. I'm living at my mum's house in Middlesbrough. I'm spending some time with Kim in Durham. I am absolutely fucking skint as fuck. I'm trying to control my drinking.

There'll be more here by Friday morning.