Monday, 3 May 2010


I’m on the train.

From the north, back to the south. The coastline is really quite breathtaking. I wish I'd taken a photo of that. It's beautiful. It's the polar opposite of the inner cities. The sun is out at the moment and bright as a giant barbecue, making blinding clumps of whatever the heckfire that yellow flowered bush is that litters the hills above the sea. It's lovely.

I have two weeks holiday at the end of this month, beginning of the next. I was going to go away somewhere, on my own. Somewhere foreign, at least for a week of it. But I can’t afford it. I can’t afford anything in fact, for the rest of the year. Golf course! That looks like fun. I've never played golf. Oh, God. Please don't let David Cameron be our next Prime Minister.

What I’ve realised is, what with my tax debt, and my credit card debt, and my grandmother debt, I should be able to pay everything off by the end of this year – just in time for this job to finish. I feel like I’m in jail. I've got six and a half months. No remission. But of course it’s all entirely my own fault. So I should just shut the shit up and get on with it. And that’s what I’m doing. Honest, I am. Apart from the shutting up.

Rabbits! Fields full of 'em. Frolicking, they are. Glorious, glorious rabbits. Someone should write a poem about them. They're so full of life. And so tasty. God, I haven't had rabbit pie for years.

So anyway, I’ve decided – instead of going on holiday at the end of the month – I’m going to come back and see my grandmother again. Bless her. Not for the whole two weeks, but for a while. I think it does me good to see her. It’s been just a couple of days this time, but it’s definitely done me good. It puts things in perspective. Not just the paranoia of the spectre of death, but taking care of, and actually thinking about someone else for a change.

Next time I come up here, however, I’m going to hitch.

That's right.

I’m about 20 pages from the end of On the Road and I’m pretty convinced that no one has ever written a more tedious, self-indulgent or pretentious book. I’m also pretty convinced that I could find better hitching stories to tell on one trip from London to the north east than Jack Kerouac managed to distil from five years or so hitching across the States. And I don’t say that arrogantly. I think just about anyone could come up with better hitching stories in one day.

Anyway, we'll see. For now it's back to work.

I leave you with something my grandmother told me only this morning. She told me: 'Never cast a clout till May's out.'

God knows.

By the way, she was feeling much better this morning. She's still got to go back to the doctor tomorrow and she's got to have blood tests on Wednesday, but I'm not so worried now. So that's good.


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Anonymous said...

Aw! Your gran is lucky to have you!

And I believe those yellow bushes are broom. It was used by the Plantagenet kings as an emblem. They're very pretty this time of year, and they attract butterflies.

Maria in Oregon

Graham said...

Do people still hitch? Haven't seen anyone trying it for years.

I used to hitch a lot in my twenties, when physically I looked about seventeen -- so most of my stories involve salacious middle-aged men.


Beleaguered Squirrel said...

I just spent several seconds trying to work out which song your line about north to south reminded me of... then realised it was the one of which this is a version which includes some astonishing frocks. I know, the previous sentence was rather tortuous. Sorry about that.

That yellow-flowering bush is probably gorse. It's very prickly and appears a lot on coastal paths and moorland.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Oh. I just read that other comment. Broom is also a possibility, and is not prickly. And its flowers are not only bright yellow, they are like mini dragon snaps (if I'm remembering this right, but I can see them so clearly in my head, I think I am).

Tim Footman said...

I think you should hitch with your gran. A book will almost write itself.

Anonymous said...

Fuck yea!
I thought it was just me and only Americans could appreciate the open road and freedom of traveling and exploring.
On the road was a pile of shit, literary masterpiece my arse. The lazy fucker just pissed about leaving wreckage behind him. I picked it up a few months ago on the advice of another author who swore his copy was the most written in, highlighted and dog-eared copy in existence and that he was never without his copy of the great book.

After I read it I skimmed back through it thinking I must have missed the chapter with the enlightenment part…. Nup… nothing there.

What a fucking arse hole.

clumpf said...

and Gorse smells of coconut - the glorious forest round here reeks of it.

You will be rewarded in heaven Bete for being a superb grandson.

Are you still having your drinks in London on June 4th?

clumpf said...

I think you should hitch with DOG3OY.

La Bête said...

Thanks, Maria. And broom, eh? Ooh, look at this. How very interesting.

Hello, Graham. I’m assuming they do. If not, I shall have to bring it back, like a kind of Kerouackian Timberlake.

Hey, BS. Ooh, gorse eh? Now you’ve thrown the cat amongst the proverbials intcha? Having now looked at both now online, you know what? I have no idea.

Tim, that’d be like Round Ireland With A Fridge, but potentially so much more interesting.

Dogboy. Exactly. Thing is, I don’t mind reading about reprobates. Trainspotting I think is a great book and it features nothing but reprehensible scumbags doing vile and repugnant things to themselves and one another, but I loved it. The difference is, On the Road is so fucking boring, as is everyone in it. And also, they think they’re something special. Maybe that’s what really gets my goat – the arrogance of these fucking deadbeats. Ooh, deadbeats. I must remember that.

Cheers, Clumpf. Can we not arrange for me to pick up my reward on earth somewhere? Oh, go on.

Hmmm, OK. Dogboy – you up for it?

La Bête said...

Oh, and Clumpf, I forgot to say - yes, most certainly still up for the 4th June - I will blog more details nearer the time.


Anonymous said...

What's the power station called?
Lovely as always.
Any more of the same?
Hannnggg ooonn. What's this?

Mary said...

I agree, On the Road is the most tedious book ever written.

Xpis said...

Ne'er cast a clout while May is out

It means don't take your winter clothes (clout's a dialect word for cloth) until (that's what 'while' means in the North - there's a story about a Yorkshire couple taking on a train and losing because the level crossing said "Do not cross while lights red") the end of May, because by then it'll be warm enough for you not to starve (which in dialect means freeze ;) )

(Longtime Reader, First Post etc.)

Richard Bartlett said...

It could also be oil seed rape which I've seen around Dorset though broom is far more beautiful.