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Diaries
of
PAUL K LYONS

1975

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JOURNAL - 1975 - DECEMBER

1 December, Dunedin

I ferry Sandoz people around all day: Bob Griffiths, head of technology in Basle, Peter Isaacs and Gordon Nicholls. Bob gives a small seminar, he seems quite a good guy. Later I go to Jock's flat and drink beer with Jock and Lynne and Simon and Pete. We listen to some Leonard Cohen at Pete's flat. Jock is moving into his Dunedin street slum but there's no telephone there yet so I couldn't really join him if I wanted to. Lynne is a lot of fun but seems to be in love with some other guy. I like to be with her.

2 December

Pam comes to Balclutha with me today - her poor cat looks really injured, she is caring for it very affectionately. I try to talk to her - tell her my views on relationships. I ask her about sex - she says she has had a lot of experience. I feel I would like to see Pam quite often and take things a bit further - I want to say this but can't.

3 December

I look after the Rachel Craft Shop this morning. I finish Wilde's book - very stimulating. The house is in a real mess after last night. There is a problem with Sarah: she has given up helping Jan and is going away for a week. It's possible she stole some money. Jan tells her to get out, but Jan's mother is more circumspect. Ross and I agree she should leave. The problem is heightened by her so-called friends Chris and Clare being here. I go to see a rep production at the Playhouse - 'Plaza Suite'. It's a terrible play with terrible acting. I read in the coffee bar. It's peaceful. I'm glad I didn't bring anybody.

4 December

I can't make up my mind whether to ask Sandy or Lynne to the Fortune tonight, but choose Lynne. A couple of Aussies from the youth hostel come too. It's a very amusing farce - 'Say who you are' by Willy Hall. Back at Lynne's we just talk and drink coffee. We go to Cargill's Castle which is very romantic in the middle of the night - but spooky too. We go back and drink more coffee and listen to music. I persuade Lynne to come to Stewart Island, so we go to pick up her stuff - she leaves notes and things. I forget my suit (I'm supposed to do some work in Invercargill). By the time we leave it is light and approaching 6am. What a race but we arrive in time. Lynne, July (a really interesting teacher) and Gary manage to get tickets.

5 December, Stewart Island

We walk the day long - the weather isn't fine but we all feel fine and walk and talk and then say goodbye for ever like we had never met. July and Gary return to the mainland, but Lynne and I stay. We visit churches or gardens or old houses to wile away the time but don't find the locals very hospitable. They all ask: 'Where are you staying?'. We have no idea. In the pub, we talk about and other things for some hours. Lynne is only 18 but has a head on her shoulders. I meet O'Hagan, a doctor I know, and he invites us back for supper. It is an amazing piss-up - a group of professionals, including doctors meet once a year on Stewart Island. They just get more and more pissed and stupid, and start throwing water and beer and brandy around, and saluting each other and playing the fool. It is most spectacular - Lynne and I can't control our mirth. We sleep in a garage with a furious wind blowing.

6 December, Stewart Island

We don't really get up till 11 or so. It's a beautiful day. We start hiking towards Port Williams. I would like some warmth between us, holding hands perhaps but I find Lynne a bit closed in that respect, but perhaps it's just me. I have this constant hassle of trying to work out whether I should make advances, but find it impossible to talk about a relationship, or to act. Having said that, we have a lovely day together. We tramp through muddy tracks, through bush, and laze on a Maori beach all day. I take a wonderful swim while Lynne sleeps. Walking back we play-act a couple of Americans with hundreds of kids. We also read parts of Evangeline by Longfellow. We spend the evening in the pub with locals and end up staying with a character called Michael Goomes.

7 December, Stewart Island

Warmful fresh skin. A walking day, full of air and salt sea. Soul-free times of bird calls and brown ferns. A love perhaps, a love maybe. Wind now blowing sand from my soul. While the heads devour the sun's rays, and the warmth slowly flows from my outer self inwards, to continue creation of my cleansed centre. Wood pigeons on swaying branches play with the day, and tease the coming longing shadows, as they shape and form the darkening hills. Below, the shining rippling rustling sea flows onwards, inwards and outwards towards another peaceful night.

8 December, Stewart Island

Lynne catches the plane at 9:30 and leaves me feeling empty. I walk and walk, visiting beaches and bays and reading and learning some of Evangeline. At 3:30, no plane came. The wind is up and I'm told that no plane is going to come. Michael adopts me and takes me around with him, drinking and guitar playing in a Maori's house. The Maori has a thousand wrinkles in his eye-lids but can make a toy guitar sound good. A beaut, neat meal at Michael's and drinking more, and eating crayfish Later we take a walk in the dark and end up drinking with more people around with more beer.

9 December, Invercargill

I get a plane at 7:30. These sea planes are neat, they just take off from the water and land on grass no problems. I bus to Bluff, pick up my car, and arrive at the hotel with enough time to change and get to my first appointment. A drink with Roger in the evening, and a fine sleep.

10 December

I feel very dopey in the morning. I meet Bill and Dusty, we take a coffee and then go for a walk. I see Michael in town. Later I go round to see Maxine, and make small talk with her Mum. I see the film 'Sunshine' which makes me feel as though I'm missing out on that kind of love, even though I know the unrealness of film.

11 December

I race from Invercargill to Te Anau with three giggly guys. I pick up a French guy, Christian, and zip through to Milford in time for a few jugs and some talk of sex. I sleep in the hostel room of friends and sneaked out in morning. It's a beautiful road - still waters, running rivers, bushed mountains, snowed mountains. Homer tunnel is hewed out of solid granite - the trip there and back doesn't do much for the car. I drop Chris off in Loudon on Friday morning at the same time as picking up Maurice and Beverley, a South African couple who stay with me all day.

12 December

After zipping around the country doctors, we don't get back to Dunedin and the flat until almost 7pm. Only Jan is at home. She has had a big bust up with Sarah, and told her to get out. Ross is in Invercargill. Bev gets on well with Jan.

19 December

My parents have sent me a tape and a digital watch - the tape sounds forced and makes me sad.

20 December

I meet a girl called Val at Pete Graham's party. She virtually picks me up and takes me home. She gives me smokes and drink and shares her bed with me.

21 December

I visit Lynne and Jenny and then Pam. Ross and I zip out to the peninsula with Lynne (in her work van) with her sisters and dog. We go to Lover's Leap, Portobello. It's very windy. Later, I race around to Val's, who takes me to a hangi. It's really neat - beautifully cooked fish and meat and spuds and bananas. It's at the house of the lady I met at the folk club who loves Joni Mitchell. She says I can come any time and listen to records. About 8:30 we go to Jock's house for a Christmas dinner, Ross comes too. Lynne and Jenny's sister are there too. Ross and I are the last to leave - I suppose I should have left earlier with Val (who lives next door).

22 December

I spend all morning getting ready. Ross takes me out of town to Waitati, and a lady called Judy picks me up in her VW and takes me to Christchurch. She is interesting, doing some gardening to wile away time - has a degree in psychology. She says she may try the medical rep business. I bring her to 464 for a cup of coffee. Anna has gone to Palmerston already, and there are at least ten people I've never seen before: a German painter, and two Aussie girls who have just moved in. They feed me with me a salad. We go for a drink at the Gresham, then zip around looking for 'green'. Hans and I try to chat this girl up, and then halfway through the night two kids go for a run and come back with two plants and make some tea - it's a crazy night.

23 December, PIcton

Earlyish in the morning, I set out from Christchurch for Picton. A couple give me a ride for most of the way but I don't quite make Picton for the 2:00pm ferry. The next one isn't until 11pm. What a hassle. I wander along to Bibi Bay and swim with some sandflies. Wander some more stopping to read and write. I meet different people, and spend much of the evening drinking. I sleep on deck for part of the night, and then inside until past dawn.

24 December, Wellington

After being chucked off the boat, I strum into town with a very funny tongue. I meet a lady in a coffee bar that is already open at 7:00am. She says I can sleep at her flat which is really neat. I wander around town all day - libraries, post office, art gallery, coffee bars, a windy day. I meet a girl called Robyn in town, we have some drinks and then she takes me home for more drinks with neighbours and a meal. She has an exciting sister aged 17 roll. It seems a typical ordinary NZ home. Robyn manages to persuade her parents to lend her their mini. We pick up a friend of hers and go to a pub. What a crowd - we play silly beggars with a couple of girls, and then go to a Malaysian party. I pick up a French guy that Robyn had met on the train. We go to midnight mass - both Christian and I are trying to chat up Robyn but neither of us succeed. Perhaps I should have gone to first lady's flat - well that's the way the cookie crumbles.

25 December, Mt Egmont

I wake to find the sun streaming in through the open window in Christian's room - I sunbathe and half sleep for most of the morning. There is a very beautiful view from the window, blue sky above Wellington and harbour. For a while I talk to Christian about travelling. He's been to Leh too and has some photos. I flick through his journal. We suss out town for a place to eat, and debate whether to ring Robyn, but decide against. I get a lift quickly while still walking out of town with a guy called John heading for Palmerston. He's an intelligent guy. We stop off for a meal and drinks with Peter and Margarite Cullen in Pakarua Bay - good conversation, wine and food. The day turns boring after John drops me, with boring lifts to Levin, Bull, Wanganui. It takes two hours hitching to get to Mt Egmont. I now sit in this very un-exciting, authoritarian hostel.

26 December, Merton

In New Plymouth, I'm really looking for a feed, but end up only having a pie. The Boxing Day races are on. I walk into an art gallery which is open but there are no lights on. I can't understand. After 10 minutes or more a guy comes in and tells me the museum is closed, and has been closed for two days ago. It must have been left unlocked accidently for two days. There is a photo realism exhibition, and paintings worth over £10,000. The guy lets me look around. There is a Billy Apple exhibit: and a room of broken glass with a few small neon lights. The curator explains the modern ideas in art of no form, impermanence, aging and final destruction of art rather than the preserving process. It is a demonstration exhibit from New York, ten years after the protest songs. The curator shows me around the cellars too. I go back to Wanganui along the Mt Egmont coast road. I don't get a good look at the mountain but see most of it. I arrive in Merton, and have a long walk to the racecourse where the folk festival is due to happen, but find very little happening. It's supposed to be starting tonight but there aren't many people here. I end up around a fire singing ballads.

27 December, Merton

A long morning with nothing much happening. The racecourse is a pretty stormy echoey sort of place. There is this big stove which takes ages to get going. I spend a few hours in a pub with Janice (a Canadian who writes his own songs) and one of the guys from Tatty Boyle Electric Traditional. Two girls - Rowyn and Peggy - join us, and we stay with them for a while. I also share time with a group from Wellington, Monica with a good voice, and the Wanganui drunken crowd. It's a good time in the pub with Janice and the band alternating, and square dancing. The publican keeps the pub open until 11:00. I take a hat round for the band and collect $36. A few locals and us crowd stay till 2:30am, playing and jamming and dancing. The publican even gives us free drinks several times.

28 December, Merton

There is a workshop in the morning with the Electric Band. Pete and Annie show up - it's good to see them again. Annie has left Dunedin and is just bumming around till she flies back to England. Fires are going most of the weekend - if there is nothing else to do I wander to a fire for a sing song. In the afternoon we learn some square dances. With a few hours to kill before the concert I ask Rowyn if she wants to make love. She does. We go to her tent, and put a note on the tent door. Rowyn tries very hard to arouse me, and then shocks me with: 'I'm not going to suck you off 'cos I want you to fuck me'. This hurried sex in the shadows is not good. Rowyn doesn't excite me, but it's fun in the afternoon. I dress just in time as Penny is returning to the tent. The final concert is really good. Later, though, things get crazy in the cafeteria - dancing with a broom, jamming until 3:00 in the morning, a bottle of wine smashed.

29 December, Rotorua

I move around slowly in the morning, breakfasting and saying goodbye. I would like to go to Rakau falls but it's not to be. Rotorua is my next stop then Whangamata. I have a long wait at Taupo which is crowded with masses of horrible people camping in matchbox parlours. Lake Taupo isn't even pretty for a lake. The Rotorua summer hostel is in a school. It's well organised, but there's a whole host of uninteresting people. It's good to have a shower. Thre's a smell of sulphur around. I drink in Brents pub with a couple of guys from Newcastle (Australia) who are into Street Theatre. They say they will come to Dunedin. The lights are out in the hostel by 11, so there's no way I can read.

30 December, Whangamata

Carrots and Scotch Broth for breakfast!. I pay seven bucks to go on a safari tour recommended by others at the hostel. We spend all morning driving to and walking around the earthquake region of 1886 - sliding down screes and climbing up them again (not comfortable in flip-flops). There's a lot of red lava around, and one can see the rift caused by the quake, along the chain of hills. We drive on to the thermal area called Waiotapu - with craters, mud pools, sulphur deposits, marble terraces, champagne pool (a bubbling pond 300 ft deep), bubbling mud flats. I post some cards and hitch to Whangamata. I get lifts from a Maori guy who's been touring the South Island, an old couple who show me around Taranga, and a dairy technologist called Bill. Eventually I get to Lisa's mother's house - what a place, right on the beach, brightly coloured, and well furnished. Jan is here after all, Simon brought her up. I swim in the sea, and we drink at the surf club.

New Year's Eve 31 December, Whangamata

I do some hitching around, in very bad weather. I wander the streets for hours looking for presents for the twins. It's quite pretty. Pies for lunch, as always. I hitched up to Coromandel where I run into Ed and Jenny and Jill and Simon who are here for a few days camping. We talk for about an hour. They are going to go back to England in the not so distant future - that's a change of heart. I will see them again at end of Jan. I have some trouble hitching back - it takes me four hours with slow short lifts all the way. During the day I see new sharp-pointed hills, very close bush, ferns and Kauris, windy coast roads, bays and harbours, and a host of pretty little islands around Coromandel.

A few people from Dunedin have arrived at the Haynes house - Eddy, Dave, Ruth, Lindy, and so the party begins. I am pretty tired and can't really be bothered to socialise. I swim again, and stuff myself with fish and chips. I drink only beer and I drink it slowly. The new year is seen in soberly. I crash in my sleeping bag about 2:00pm downstairs but the dance stamping gets really heavy as though the house is going to collapse so I move outside. Happy New Year.

1976

Paul K Lyons

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