I’m meeting up with a couple of friends tonight: Georgia and Sophie; both previous contributors to the hand-written journal which forms the basis of the blog.
We have a laugh. They’re young and sometimes rowdy but they’re nice girls, like the rest of their mates. They get me and don’t judge.
The girls departed earlier and now I’m in wetherspoons. It’s busy but I’m at my adopted table by the fire, keeping warm, reading and writing. I have a coffee (12 sugars – the sachets are only half a teaspoon and it’s a large coffee – as I’m not happy until the spoon stands up in the cup; I like some coffee with my sugar). And I’m not mine-sweeping.
I’ve finished Everything You Know by Zoe Heller: not brilliant, not bad but I read it somewhat piecemeal so maybe didn’t give it the attention it warranted. Now I’m reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one but I didn’t want to join the party and fanfare when it was published and won the Man Booker prize (in 2002?) I don’t follow the masses, much like my attitude to fashion. I wait for films to be released on DVD and borrow books from the library.
Surveying my surroundings, there are many opportunities for mine-sweeping: half-finished drinks, half-eaten meals and outside, half-smoked cigarettes. But I’m not desperate. I don’t need to stoop to that level and although my wisdom has been questioned, I’ve explained my reasons for coming to ‘spoons and where once it may have been a test of my resolve, now it’s just somewhere else to keep warm and dry, read, write and meet people. Temptations which once were are no longer. I’ve bought my coffee and now I’m sitting here doing the nearest thing I currently know to working.
I also observe (as is my habit) that Tonbridge night life – or rather the clientelle – although populated by younger people now (we were their age though when this was our stomping ground), hasn’t changed much. Scantily-clad women, most of whom should wear more clothes and not just because it’s cold outside (fetch me a saucer of milk please) and under-dressed blokes, in short-sleeved shirts to show off their muscles and tattoos. The swaggering, the posturing and laughing at their own (unfunny, purile, largely sexist) jokes. Most of them drink more than I used to too.
I’m probably the best-dressed one here, fashion sense-wise and I’m the homeless one, although I don’t look it (and I’ve been told) as I keep myself clean and smart: I still have self-pride.
The sexually suggestive comments and chat-up lines from the drink-fuelled, testosterone-filled blokes are crass (no disrespect to the punk band of the same name) but the females of the Tonbridge populace seem largely receptive. No wonder there is so much council accommodation around here.
Still it’s generally a friendly place (this pub and this little town); where everybody knows your name.