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I get jealous

  Mon 9th September 2019

Apologies for the site being down for a week or so; this was a fault at my hosting company.

Roll on getting out of this place. I was shouted at by Unhinged Landlady -- through the door, whilst I was talking on the phone call at 9.40am yesterday.

That doesn't include all bills: I was reminded yesterday that it's my turn to buy the toilet rolls, because despite having given her several thousands of pounds over the past year or so, she's still short of a couple of quid for some bog roll.

I finished the call and noticed a text asking me to take phonecalls downstairs. With Unhinged Landlady it's either shouting, or texting. The middle ground -- the practice known as "talking" -- seems a difficult register for her.

I went to see a couple of rooms last week. Found one in the suburb named for me -- Totterdown. The estate agent was a young woman in an occupationally-demanded tight skirt, which she repeatedly smoothed as she went up the stairs, thus drawing more attention to the area of her body from which she wished to deflect it.

Single bed, lots of light, recently refurbished, quiet street, ten minutes walk to Temple Meads. I said I was interested, and she took my details. In her first phone call after my viewing she used the word "congratulations" three times, as if agreeing to make a landlord richer than he already is is a success in life. Her harassing texts and phone calls were urging me to get on with it and I felt bludgeoned into cancelling two appointments at other places for the next day.

I rang Kim, who advised me to go for the bird in the hand rather than the one in the bush. How I would love to have a bird in the bush now. It's been a while.

I had to fill in a form detailing my probity. I've had to invent a current landlord, complete with fake email, as Unhinged Landlady would take pleasure in depriving me of a future tenancy. A spare domain and a second phone number are so useful in life.

Hayley went on a date. A few hours later, "we are officially seeing each other! I fucking love you. I'm so happy xx". It set off somersaults of jealousy in my stomach, even as I know that he will unwittingly help me gain the healthier degree of distance from her that I need.


I blow a fuse

  Sat 31st August 2019

Me and Hayley got ourselves in a tangle over the room we were supposed to move into today. A skein of text messages from her about complicated lines of credit, thickened until I gave up trying to unravel it. I just assumed we were splitting everything 50/50 and paying it on the due dates. With two days to go to our moving date, I told her that I am withdrawing from the plan.

The following morning, my sangfroid lost, I asked Unhinged Landlady if I could rescind my notice. She turned bright and hot, telling me that I had been very rude when I had spoken to her on the phone a month or so ago, and refused, saying "I don't want you living here any more." She wanted a fight, so I reacted as though someone had declined me a tea bag." "No, no, that's fine, that's OK."

I went to my room, but she wasn't giving up. "And that goes for [her boyfriend] too!" she shouted up the stairs.

A few seconds later she remembers something. "Are you still alright to look after the cat this weekend or do you want me to find someone else?" I leant over the landing to dispense what I hoped would be an irritating generosity of spirit. "Of course I am! Really, it's fine, Unhinged Landlady, more than happy to do that."

I got back from work, looking forward to a weekend in the house with but a cat for company. A while ago, I had unscrewed two of the bulbs in my room and draped a red flannel over the remaining one, exploiting cotton's natural fire retardant properties. I wanted to smother the Estate Agent White of the halogen bulbs. Last night, the light being insufficient to write this, I went to replace one of the set of three bulbs set into their S-bend aluminium fitting (school of Argos, c.1988).

There was a bang and the house went dark. I had fused all the upstairs lights. I rang Trina, the most practical of my friends, who advised me to flick a switch in the fuse box. I did so and it let out a blue flash like a pilot light, and returned to its refusal position. I was stoned, and I was horrified for a moment to hear a man asleep breathing in rasps on the sofa, before I realised that it was my own amplified respiration.

Trina told me to tell Unhinged Landlady that it had blown after I'd switched the lights on. It's a common enough occurence, a plausible explanation, but something I dreaded saying, imagining the way she'd find pleasure in adding it to her ledger of my errors and omissions I have committed during our year-long co-dependency. I looked up "emergency electrician Bristol" and found a possible saviour at £75 per hour plus VAT, then went to bed with the cannabis that was meant to sail with me through a night of house music and improvised flannel-draped lighting now over-analysing the consequences of a blown fuse.

I got up at half past six, after what felt like a sleepless night. I tried switching the fuse again, and everything apart from the lights in my room came back on. I rang Trina. It was more to thank her for listening to me worry out loud in several phone calls at eleven o'clock, but her practical advice, about trying it again when the circuit was cold, proved to be the electrical and social remedy.

I texted her tonight. "You, my darling, are a rock xx."


Blood claat

  Fri 23rd August 2019

Hayley's done all the running in finding us a new place; and as I felt a sigh coming on in the pub when she asked me to walk her part of the way home, I gave myself a big slap round the face and stopped that resentful breath coming out.

It's my sex that makes women fearful of walking home alone. It's her that's walked over to the house viewing (I was at work) and walked back to report back. So STFU looby and walk her to the bus stop.

She'd been to see a room on the first floor of a house owned by an Indian couple. "She had a...Sahara on, you know, and they were so polite. I felt like a queen! The husband said that they've got a few other people looking at it tomorrow but said 'my wife likes you'." It'd be £480 a month, an exploitative rent for a room but when halved we could save up for when we can get exploited more expensively.

There was a kerfuffle at the table opposite. A couple were talking to a homeless man, but some blokes at an adjacent table start haranguing the couple; the argument developed noisily before it was forcibly becalmed by the barman.

Hayley was refilling her coffee (she's not a big drinker, restricting herself to speed, coke and crack), and I went and sat with them. "I saw and heard all that, and I'm really glad you were helping that homeless bloke before that twat behind us stuck his oar in. It's a sad state of affairs when people object to you giving help to people."

We sat with them for half an hour. He had simply been giving the homeless man a number to ring at the council to see if they could help him. "And then he said 'you've just given that man false hope." "Don't worry mate, it's because they're cunts themselves." When we left them I stuck a single finger up at him, which I regret he didn't see. I was in the mood for putting him down with a weapon he'll never possess.

I lost the phone Esther lent me ages ago and replaced it with a similar model. It was an old one which fetches 40 to 60 quid on ebay. I hardly use it, as having a smartphone is like having a demanding toddler in your pocket.

On the bus from work the other night, sweaty, manky, feet aching, Esther rings and demands her phone back. I explain the situation and say that by a fluke, having changed my jacket tonight, I can give her the new one if we meet down the pub opposite her house when the bus got in, as I'd like a drink after nine hours at the dishwasher.

An unknown number rings me. A black man's voice announces himself. "Hi, this is O'Neil." I have no idea who O'Neil is but the man's such a cunt that I break the normal rule of obfuscating people's real names on this blog just this once. "Is that looby?" "Who are you?" "Esther's friend. Have you got that phone? Where are you?" "I'm on the bus?" "Where on the bus?" "At the airport, what's all this about then? I'm meeting Esther at a quarter past ten."

"You'd better have that phone." "I've got the phone, what's the problem?"

He then kept ringing me repeatedly, leaving message after threatening message, until my mouth was dry with fear as I walked through Castle Park to meet him. She's slept at mine a couple of times but we went a shorter, more twisty way home through a park she'd never venture into nor remember, so she wouldn't be able to give my address to the bloke who fancies himself as Bristol's answer to Jimmy Cliff.

"I'm coming now. No, no, I'll see you before you see me. You'd better have that phone otherwise I'm coming through your door." A few minutes later: "I know people. They're coming." (I've added punctuation, of which he is ignorant.) And then, a longer voicemail. "Ahhh, blood claat, you some pussy..." in this big man Jamaican patois intended to intimidate the white man. It worked.

I changed my route with a mental "fuck you", and texted them.

"Hi, I am sending this to you both. I was perfectly happy to meet you tonight with the new phone, so that this ridiculous affair could have been brought to an end, but there is no way I am meeting you now after receiving these threatening texts and voicemails. I have saved all of your texts and voicemails and I'm perfectly happy to take them to the police tomorrow morning should they continue." To my surprise, silence.

I met Hayley briefly last night. She passed me the post-work resuscitation potion, before withdrawing it. "Hang on, let's make it stronger," and rubbed it in her crotch before handing it back to me. Her advice was to tell Esther to go fuck herself. I haven't done that, because me and Esther have spoken for the last time.


Babies wearing ear defenders

  Mon 19th August 2019

I feel like I'm on a production line, metro-boulot-dodo; I've also had to prise some distance from Hayley. I have hardly any time to myself now and I'm losing my generally sunny disposition. I'm colonised -- by work and, at times, Hayley. I have absolutely no money, to the extent of having to borrow the bus fare to my work at the airport.

Yesterday we went to the most middle class dancey event I've been to for years. It should have been good -- a rooftop terrace in the centre of town. There were babies there, wearing ear defenders, their parents presumably not having heard of babysitters. Men in Stax and Philadephia International T-shirts stood around encircling the dancers -- in which group I was the only man. They were not my people. Hayley (again) didn't seem to like me dancing with them and kept herself on the periphery. The whole afternoon was flat and I couldn't dig myself out of it.

Last weekend was brighter. I went to Lancaster and for the first time for many months, saw Kitty and Wendy together for a brief hour. We chatted, drank and parted, with Wendy giving me the longest hug she's ever granted, her slender body a couple of layers of cotton away.

I then went to see Trina in Chester. What was meant to be a three-hour visit turned into an overnight one, and I got the 6am train and went straight to work. There's a synchrony in mine and Trina's attachments: just as I appear finally to be freeing myself from eight years of corrosive, wearing attraction to Wendy, Trina seems to have loosened herself from the grip of her own jealous obsession with her.

I had an interview on Saturday for a mental health support worker job. I quite fancy a job that involves taking people down the pub and to the cinema. They're people with various degrees of learning difficulties, from fiftysomething upwards. I'd be the only man working in the place. She's ringing me today to tell me the result; I've another interview on Thursday for a similar position.


Annual Report

  Wed 7th August 2019

A year ago today I moved to Bristol. Three jobs, one resignation and one dismissal in ignominious circumstances; one night of sex with a much younger very attractive woman; and one hernia gained after over-exercising in the park with a friendly black man. I like that in Bristol I don't know what's going to happen in each day.

Last week Hayley said she'd like to come to Manchester with me on Saturday. I'm going to see Wendy, Kirsty and the one daughter who is still in Lancaster, then off to a house music all-nighter. The thought of Hayley looking alluring in one of her miniskirts, choosing to come out dancing with me, was one I turned over repeatedly, a little fix of pleasure as I bent over the dishwasher for hours on end. I told Wendy and Kirsty, who both said they'd be pleased to meet her.

Everyone lets everyone down at some point, but the first time it happens, you feel it keenly. The fact that her reasons -- that she might be able to move some of her art up, and see her son, if she goes to Devon this weekend -- made perfect sense, did nothing to shift the disappointment I sat under for the rest of the night. My feet ached and moaned from work; she was on her phone a great deal.

She's currently homeless, staying at a friend's house, wrecking her back from sleeping on a settee in order to escape her previous place in which mould was growing on her suitcases. She loves me for my futon. I have asked my landlady if she could move in here while we found somewhere together.

That would be quite a strained few weeks all round. I'd find Hayley being here all the time oppressive, and I'd be worried about everyone getting on with each other; but she's nowhere else to go, I work long hours now, and the stress of it would be an incentive to get our own place as soon as possible.

We're having a summit meeting tomorrow evening. The landlady has stipulated that I am to be sober for it. Whilst I will avoid making a spectacle of myself, she can fuck right off if she thinks that a plongeur on his day off can give such an undertaking.

Fiona and Melanie, my eldest and youngest, are unhappy at their voluntary work on a farm in Brittany miles from the nearest town, and no bus service. The hosts provide lovely food and drink. but leave them completely on their own devices after about 2pm every day. The somnolent days in a tiny internet-free village in deepest Brittany move slowly. They want to come back on Friday, so I've got to tell the hosts something to relieve them from having to give any explanations themselves.

I went to Taunton, to see the play that Jenny (actress daughter) is taking up to Edinburgh this week. Sitting outside a convivial cider bar, I get talking to Karl, an ex-Army Officer able to quote passages from an unmodernised Chaucer and who was recommending a radio play he'd heard recently. "Now let me guess," he said. "You're an engineer."


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

M / 55 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"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

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

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

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

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

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