Wednesday, December 15, 1982

Plush and well-heeled

Last night I went out as planned with Grant. His hair is longer and straggly now, his face clothed in stubble. We had a few drinks at the Albion in Ashburn, which has recently been converted into a plush well-heeled bar catering to plush well-heeled people. There was a distinct silence as we burst in, Grant shabby in his brown jacket, cords and pork-pie hat, his hair raked loosely behind his ears; you could have heard a pin drop as we faced the dozen or so fur coats and suits clustered around the bar. He probably made it worse by saying, loudly: “The bastards better not try to kick us out.”

We quickly dived into a corner seat, had a a few, and then staggered up the road to the Iron Duke, which was packed with slightly more accommodating people. Tuesday night is quiz night and the stocky, balding middle-aged bespectacled quiz master held the floor as he read out the questions (“What does ‘Pravda’ mean in English?”; “What relation is the Duke of Edinburgh to Queen Victoria?”). There was nowhere to sit so we went back to the Albion and got merrier and merrier, Grant holding forth at times too enthusiastically, getting critical glances from the suits. I walked home across Castlebrigg playing fields.

I woke up to find the wind whistling and battering at my bedroom window. The old lady’s roof across the back from us has been damaged, and when we looked out from upstairs we could see a collapsed garage and a few fences buckling as the wind roared between the houses. Easterby seems badly hit, with £50,000 worth of damage to the city centre Xmas decorations.

Jeremy visited in the afternoon; he never changes. I also got a letter from Claire today, and she says she’ll be visiting me on Saturday. Rob and Carol arrived for the match round about six—no great welcoming scenes at seeing one another after three months, just a matter-of-fact “hiya” from Robert as though I’d just walked in from next door. He looked as scruffy as ever. Carol has a perm.

Along with Dad, we set off to Cardigan Park. The night was blustery and wet but it felt good to be back in the Shed, in my customary place behind that white-washed concrete wall. The game went poorly; Athletic just seemed to be out of gear and Tabotworth coped much better with the muddy conditions, but we scrambled a lucky goal through John McArdle, who then hit a superb long range shot to put us 2-0 up right before the whistle. After half-time Tabotworth pulled one back—we were sickened—but McArdle got his hat-trick half-an-hour from the end: the ball bounced agonisingly around the box before he slammed it home. Dad was greatly amused by the ribald crowd commentary (“you couldn’t pass water . . .”).

At ten, Lee arrived and we set off for the Egley Grammar School Former Students' disco at Harvey’s. He and I stood in a corner all night, feeling tired of it all, but we talked to Evelyn, and she told me Claire was pleased that I’d remembered her birthday: looking back, no doubt I sounded a bit too interested. I hated the whole thing and so we didn't stay long. I noticed, for the first time, peoples’ accents.

England beat Luxembourg 9-0 tonight (Luther Blissett got 3 + Chamberlain 1). There's a light coating of snow outside.

None of this is written very well; I’m not concentrating properly and I feel distracted and unenthusiastic.

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