12/14/13 03:24 pm - snippets on spider
i don't remember when or where i first met spider: it was either 1974-8, when i was at s. martin's teacher training college in lancaster, getting a p.g.c.e. (that i never used), then setting up single step alternative bookshop in 86 king street with others in the books & things (mostly pamphlets & magazines) stall group, then transferring it into the former threlfalls' dairy, later whyckett's wallpaper, warehouse that had lain empty, idle and semi-derelict for years, up the alleyeay between the fish & chip shop/cafe and the royal & antediluvian order of the buffalos (= drinking) club, at 78a penny street - lancaster city council were happy to lease it to us, as it got us off the main road (& therefore visible to ordinary people); and as we ran discos, spider'd naturally've come along to check out the music.
sorry about that; ribble^W stagecoach either skipped a 555, or it ranthrough early. i tried hitching in (to kendal, here, where the library has more than 2 computers and stays open 'til 3pm on saturdays instead of closing at 12:30) for an hour and a quarter, and then caught the next bus, that was running a bit late. which left me soaked, and with ten minutes(ish) before the library closed. so; to continue:
spider at that time was "friendly neighbourhood entertainments" - trying to build up a living as a promoter of musical events supporting local - and not so local - bands, running gigs in pubs and halls where they and touring bands could play, catching bands playing as the (frequently unpaid, or nearly so) attraction in local pubs - and checking out discos, & their djs.
we evolved a standing joke, which we shared with him, that if you were out at night in lancaster, and spider wasn't there - it wasn't where it's at: if spider turned up later, it became where it's at - and, when spider left - it was no longer where it's at. spider approved of this evaluation of the scene - and it was pretty well true *g*
spider was just - rapidly became - one of lancaster's faces - friendly, helpful, enjoyed putting people with shared (not just musical) interests in touch with one another, and enjoying slightly wry, off-beat humour & views of life, the universe, lancaster - and everything. he didn't buy rounds, and didn't gladly accept people buying him a drink unless he knew them well, and knew they could well afford it - and he didn't often stay in one place for longer than a (leisurely) pint with, or without, friends/drinking companions.
spider had a lot of friends; he didn't let many people really close, and we/i was/were quite surprised when we/i was/were invited down to his housewarming in an ex-laundrette at the bottom of west road and one end of willow lane, just before the junction with lune road (? must check the name), more or less next door to two chippies (one a "fish restaurant" iirc), opposite the post office, near edible eddie's (a polish supermarket/deli/off-licence), just off the edge of the marsh (a "sink" estate) & opposite the queen vic - the roughest pub in lancaster.
it was good fun, spider's new surprise partner was a lot younger than him, intelligent, friendly, pretty, loved cats and a lot of good music - and they'd obviously invited all the people they'd be happy being visited by later on, whether living locally or no, so they'd know where to come and that there'd be couch space, or at least ample (carpeted) floor space for them - though arranging visits'd obviously be safer, if you were coming any distance.
we became pretty regular^W^W fairly frequent visitors after that, and sometimes came to share a meal - always tea/supper - with us; but we still mostly saw them around town of an evening,
or out shopping (or when going to the library) late afternoons, early evenings and on saturdays - and at steve's "jazz, dogs and sausages" event at the john o'gaunt, sunday lunchtimes.
somewhere along the way, that life fell apart. someone with money decided that if spider, as friendly neighbourhood entertainments, had been promoting local groups successfully, there must be money in it - and he wanted it. (there was, but not a lot: spider paid the bands, and the bouncers, and the bar staff sometimes, if they weren't in with the cost of hiring the hall; you couldn't say spider was ever really flush...) so he set up in competition with spider/fne, paying more to hire halls than spider could afford etc, and friendly neighbourhood enterprises quietly folded.
[interpolate xmas? new year? experience?]
spider got a job asap working in one of the two main lancaster employers, the nhs: initially a lowly cleaning & general worker (possibly not strictly "a domestic" - i'm not sure), later as part of a care team (?) for some of the criminally/elderly/terminally/[other] bewildered (lancaster had the moor, and the albert (iirc - the home office had at least part of that for mentally bewildered, or psycopathically-inclined prisoners) hospitals as well as the royal lancaster infirmary in town. friendly, helpful & willing, he was well-liked by his cow-orkers - and this continued to be true, through the reorgandisations inflicted upon the nhs mental care workers at all levels, and upon the system as a whole (some of it was grossly overdue - but "care in the community" was interpreted by the thatcher government as an ideal opportunity to cut costs, rather than in the sense and intentions of improving care for people no threat to anyone but (perhaps) themselves, but not able to survive without help as fully functioning adults (or young adults) in general society. spider went on into emergency team cover for the bewildered now "decanted" into society with frequently no idea, nor any hope of gaining any idea, of how to look after themselves, their finances (even "benefits") - or who in the outside world to trust. there is some support for people in this unhappy position, but not enough - never enough, 'til it becomes a crisis: and not always enough, fast enough, even then.
spider was good at it - spider was good at listening, and thinking about what he heard (though he didn't pretend to any deep thoughts, aside of playful, slightly inebriated "philosophizing", when out of a night with a friend or three), and spider cared about people. if he could come up with a possible solution to someone's problems, he'd think about it, and then suggest it. and make changes to it, in the light of difficulties it might raise, or possible objections, etc. (but he didn't mention, usually, if he had a problem, himself. you'd have to push him a bit, to find out if aught misfortunate or problematic were up with spider. little whimsical illogicalities or paradoxes amused him; he'd worry at them a bit, to see if they'd unravel, and then just be happy with them, if they didn't. it wasn't 'til well after they split up, and spider had already moved up to that strange-shaped house on bowerham, that i knew there'd even been any trouble; he didn't let on that he'd been quite badly hurt, except maybe by his closing up somewhat - but that wasn't easy to tell.)
the house all agley - no right angles were exploited unfairly (or at all!) in the building - became where you'd have to drag him out of, of a friday night, if the end of the money had come before the end of the month - spider didn't like being beholden - he didn't buy rounds, but he'd buy you a drink if you were short, so why shouldn't he come out, if you could afford to buy? (but he'd still dig in his heels: it took work to reassure him it'd all even out in the end.
in the end. it never seemed like there could be an end - even if a couple of months went by without seeing him, except in town, in passing, suddenly spider'd be there, and there was where it was at (again), and it was as though no time'd passed: spider was part of lancaster. maybe even more permanent.