PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1977 - APRIL
Cespedes is a Chilean playwrite. I read about him in one of the drama magazines. He was an active socialist and teacher in a poor town, and then Pinochet put him in a prison camp. Through his efforts or those of others, he managed to do some theatre. When transferred to another prison where there was more freedom and where there were more facilities, theatre became very important to the prisoners and it became political. After two years in total (I think) Cespedes and others were flown to Mexico, then to England. Cespedes continued studying in Cardiff at the Shermann Theatre, which staged one of his productions about Chilean prisoners.
The Guardian, 2 April: Detectives in Hertfordshire are looking for a thief they describe as 'Organ Nut' who, for the past few weeks has been visiting churches and chapels in the country and stealing small parts from organs.
Wednesday 6 April
No mail for me today. The pining lover, the pining busy worker, both waiting for employment in these dull spring days. I am working at father's office for 75p an hour mending electronic watches. At least half the energy of the company is directed to these watches, getting them fixed and sending them off. Tiny little cheques arrive or don't arrive in the mail from social security. And a big cheque arrived from the insurance company paying up for my Lima blues. My nose bleeds sometimes.
So what is good about it - would you tell me please. I was reading about Nietzsche at dawn. The sun shone brilliantly, so I went to wade gently across the Hampstead Heath acres.
Jorge Fisbein brought a letter from Barcelona. It was a short letter from M, a mixture of understanding, regret and knowing what I'd like to hear. Jorge, a professional Argentinian photographer, went to Barcelona for an exhibition of photographs. I felt he was disappointed in my youth but impressed with my open smile. He wondered how on earth M had found me. He overpowered me with his presence, his age and experience.
'Death in Venice' by Thomas Mann; 'Reich on Freud' by Reich; 'The Giaconda Smile' by Huxley; the film 'The Spider's Strategem' by Bertolucci from a Borges story; a film called 'War'; an exhibition of Arshile Gorky; 'An American Dream' by Norman Mailer.
Stickle your fingers; pinkle your nose; it is time for candyfloss. Yes it is the old fair on Hampstead Heath.
Ice puddles on Parliament Hill
Iced over towers in the haze
Between the bare time-for-spring branches
Craft fellows murmuring
It is far too cold for spring
Like a consciousness
This old city molests the dawn
And bathes my subtle traces
When was I here last?
Before the beaches were painted blue
An eye for rooftops
Or cuddles in the Post Office Tower
A swim in the pond
A good Friday chocolate dog
Even this before breakfast
Monday 11 April
I spent Saturday with Phil who is clean shaven, short haired, much more together, cool and likeable. We talked, drank and smiled at each other; he will probably go into teaching. I will go to Cardiff next week to collect my Learning Exchanges and see old professors and students, and other old familiar faces. On Sunday I hitched to Blunham in search of Walnut Close and old friends. From there I hitched to Dane End, for the birthday party of Anne's baby. Paul Phillips and Sheila gave me a lift back. Paul lives in Islington and is working for BOC.
I am feeling down and sad, thinking about Maja, reading over some letters. More than a year has passed without news. Maybe she has left to travel; maybe she is married. I will probably never see her again, and yet our strange beautiful romance will always remain as such a strong memory.
Tuesday 12 April
A letter from Maja. How strange, how strange. I've thought about Maja often in the last year, but I've not written about those thoughts, or written her name in my diary. Yet there, on the previous page, it is, and today a letter arrived from her. How spacy. She says many things. She says she sent me many letters to South America - but I got none of them. She went to Nepal for four months. She is married. Married. A funny word, she says, so serious. Married and expecting a child. Expecting a child. Maja with child! I cry a little bit.
But also today, a letter comes from N - a lover's letter, and more tears from me.
The National Gallery. A grey uniformed man sits at a desk between the two galleries filling out the football pools. The paintings are mind blowing. I can imagine my Chilean friend Christian here, he would never leave.
Friday 15 April
Hejira is Joni Mitchell's latest disc - borrowed from Anna. It is a little below par, I reckon, but there are still some wonderful things in it. For example, in one long track 'Song for Sharon', she is down and depressed, friends are trying to help her, but at the end she half screams that 'All I want to do now is . . . find another lover'. This is a really bad time for me. How can I ever decide whether to go to N.Z. or not. Not only can I not decide but I can see no help coming to help me make the decision. Portobello Road is less than half antiques.
Monday 18 April
On my bike this morning I passed the LTCTC: The London Transport Canteen Training Centre - pass the sauce luv.
In a fix - I am always crying. Four weeks exactly, I don't know why I should count time in weeks but that is how long I have been back. I have done nothing and am no nearer doing anything. Why all this indecision. Why all this fucking around,. I thought I was more together than this.
I went for a walk along murky streets and met a curate who showed me an old church and a beautiful wooden screen that had been burned in the time of Cromwell's rampages. He was a friendly bloke and his church was using gravestones as paving stones; then I went walking in another cemetery and some kids started to stare at me.
London disturbs me too. It's so full of tourists and second class buildings, the shops are not boring, the statues and squares old and dull. It's a jumble, a double jumble. There are no smiles in the street, and the air is cold.
It's not easy to stop travelling.
I went to Liverpool with Chris and Prune. Came back from Liverpool with Chris and Colin. I saw Rob up there, and Barbara and their photos and their garden and their Sunday papers. I saw the big stones, black and grey and brown that they build churches with. I saw the grey dismal Mersey, and heard the Limey accent.
Jubilee is an old Jewish festival which is celebrated every 50 years for the year of emancipation. The Queen, our queen is nearly there, halfways emancipated. Everybody knows it is her silver jubilee, 25 years enslaved to the British throne, the wonderful chair of righteousness. We should throw confetti in the summer sky, and the people should smile. They should drink only silver top milk (and return the milk bottles). The Queen should smile and wave and marvel at her splendid people. She should reflect on her 25 years and write the words 'silver jubilee' on toilet walls. It is my silver jubilee soon too. Maybe I was conceived while the crown was being placed on her head. I think my silver jubilee is more important than hers. My semi-emancipation is different to that of Lizzie's. Dear Lizzie. Lizzie and Paul, shall we dance. She doesn't speak to me. Her jubilee is all important. She is not a Jew any way, and whoever heard of an emancipated queen. God save our gracious quirk. God save our gracious goblet. God save our gobliness.
At the King's Head Theatre, a small crowded room, I watch five actors [Shared Experience] telling some Arabian Nights. It was very well presented basic story telling with zero props. Also I see London Contemporary Dance Company at Sadlers Well Theatre with Mum. Some very beautiful compositions to various types of music. I read 'Corridors of Power' by C.P. Snow.
Friday 22 April
Is the day so empty that there is nothing to write about? Or is the day so full that my head and hide don't have time to hold a pen? Well days are fairly full, but they are city days. Days surrounded by people with too little time, days surrounded by streets and houses and the people and the cars that inhabit them.
I made a flying visit to Cardiff to see a friend, his lover and his growing book and record collection. I also met up with Pamely-Evans, who was as speedy and smoky as ever. He's also as loyal to UWIST and 60s education methods as he ever was. His message was that England is slipping fast (his salary is worth 60% of what it was worth three years ago). He almost cried when he told that the Applied Science course was being scrapped.
Being is an empty fiction (Nietzsche).
The civic square was full of spring, but there was nobody there to notice it, The other square is dead now, buried in concrete and scaffolding. You can no longer see from UWIST to UC, but the scaffolding is interesting. The old dingy terraced houses remain unchanged. The super cheap petrol station is still operating and the queues for it still block the traffic. The chips from the Cathays Terrace chippie still taste the same. Gwenda and Allison didn't really have enough time for me between their prayer meetings and gospel rap sessions. I hitched back with interesting rides.
Sunday 24 April
Intermittent water noises and silence from the bathroom, where the lady with the cold nose and yellow-green eyes cleans her white body. The flat is silent apart from that, no radio, no traffic noises fading through. Perhaps I shouldn't be here. I am wearing HER kimono, eating HER food, dirtying HER sheets. We do not kiss often, there is no telepathy in the eyes, no transference of energy between the fingers. Perhaps I shouldn't be here. She talks of seamen and addicts she has known, a farm in Surrey, dogs that snap at rabbits. She shows me photographs and repeats well learnt lines. Sometimes she drinks too much drink. We wake in the morning light. It is 4:15pm, I say, shall we go to Glasgow or breakfast on Clapham Common. Unfortunately, blackcurrant jam will not help me make love to you again, I was just playing a game.
I have a letter from N, sweet N, sometimes I cry when I think of her. I am very glad to have those memore, and I feel I never gave that relationship it enough value. She seems to have matured; she writes about peace of mind. I have written back a dull letter of words. To Maja too, I write a dull letter of words and the grey days that surround me. A letter from Didier arrives telling me is coming to London. A note Jim says that he is trying to become a moose, and to talk like a moose.
I saw an Education in Theatre Group at the Cockpit Theatre perform a documentary about the growth of the British Fascist Union. There was the drama itself (as they do in schools), a workshop, and a follow-up and discussion. It all fascinated me, excited me - the possibilities of political theatre.
Anna now works full time at the Chilean Solidarity Hotel for refugees. Anna Maria from the Antofagasta prison is there too (I read about her in the Times when I was in Chile) as is one of the musicians from the Los Jaivas group.
Saturday, last day of April
I went to a lecture at City University. It was the first in a course on Chinese history and literature. It was one of those days when it only rains hard when I am riding my bike, and not at any other time, and so I arrived soaking wet. The lecture was boring and long-winded. I ended up drinking with two people in the bar until closing time. When I returned to my bike, slightly pissed, I found it minus a front wheel. I went home by tube and borrowed Mum's car, but as I was racing along Euston Road, the clutch decided to go. Fortunately I was able to roll into St Pancras Station car park. From there I walked home. Early in the morning, I contacted the AA who towed the car away. When I finally went to rescue my bike, I found it was all gone.
Paul K Lyons
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