PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1977 - NOVEMBER
Sunday 6 November
I've returned from the country. I felt I had to go as it would be the last chance to catch autumn. M isn't here. I've bathed, and eaten with greed. If I do not write something down now it will all vanish.
Has it become an obsession with me, to live so rough. It seems all so masochistic. I found myself explaining to various drivers that I do this 'to keep my values right'; 'to get away from the town'; 'to breath the autumn'; 'to feel the earth'. A cafe in Glastonbury had a sign saying 'no hippies'. It stopped me short - was I a hippy? I felt like going in and asking the manager. Why did I go to Glastonbury? Was I looking for something magical? Am I always looking for something magical?
In the car coming to the West Country I was racking my brains for some sort of story line for a short story. But my head went around in circles, my imagination was not able. Another thing that occurred in this car ride was that I fell asleep and awoke four times, each time I tried to remember what I had been dreaming about - and couldn't.
There was a carnival in North Petherton - who has ever heard of North Petherton? It is a tiny little village. The festival was coloured lights and tractors and floats made up by what-do-you-call-it carnival committees. The beautiful church was locked. I walked along the crowds looking for someone interesting to talk to.
In Taunton, I rang an acquaintance but he wasn't in. His mother told me he might be down the Crown Inn. I hardly know where I am going, but try to reach the pub by eleven. On the way I begin to turn the journey into a race - do I really want to see this acquaintance? No, not really. But I wants to win the race. I run and hitch desperately. My arms are sweating. It gets dark. Every house, every light mirages itself into a village with a Crown Inn. Finally, when I do arrive in the right village, I cannot even find the pub. I beg water from a barking dog. I find a church. It is raining. I put myself to sleep beneath a tree with drops of water falling on my face. I have no energy to move and maybe I believe it will not rain hard. The cold wakes me later on, and above my eyes I find a beautiful clear sky with stars and a crescent moon. I eat apples for breakfast as the glow of dawn warms me.
I visit pretty pretty Wells, and a cousin in Salisbury.
Monday 14 November
The bump on my elbow is worrying me a bit these days. Not a day goes by when the thought or something like it comes to my head: 'What the fuck am I doing here.' Maybe there is hope for me with this small flat coming my way. Maybe I can get to do some printing and studying and writing. Maybe life over the next couple of years will be useful. Maybe, if I have a home and routines and things, it will be good.
I just escaped from the office. I bought some cigarettes and went slowly, dreamily roaming around. I was super-depressed and walked into a square surrounded by tall grey buildings. The world is beginning to bore me, I thought, which is disastrous, I'm only 25. All my experiences and knowledge don't help me to have an even temper or better balance. Of course they don't. It bores me that life hasn't got a purpose. It fucking bores me. It seems the only real things are smiles in the street and strangers and kicking leaves, and feeling the wind and cold and rain and sun, and the tenderness of animals. The square was a fenced off playground with a climbing frame, slide and spin wheel. I spun myself around and stared at the tops of the mansion blocks and the sky, the trees went one speed, the sky another, and the windows of the buildings folded around in an undulating movement. A child arrived and spun me around and around in the quiet of this dreary grey block. This friendly child had no fear of me at all. I spun, it seemed. like a whirlpool, the clouds spiralled down, the windows came alive, the trees' bare branches turned into thickets, and my depressing thoughts disappeared.
In the front room of a friend, awaiting dinner and gentle conversation, I was left alone with the music, and found myself dancing. Then I went to the kitchen to taste some fruit salad, but when I came back the room was full of tables and chairs and there was no more room to dance. And then another time, I was in an empty train compartment. I danced along the corridor, I jigged along the seat arm rests, I swung from the luggage racks, and I stuck my head out of a window into the biting windy cold.
OF THE MIND AND ITS MECHANISMS
I lay on the bed having returned from work, and thought about my fit of depression yesterday afternoon. I remembered my feelings but I couldn't relate to them at all. Was it just caused by external circumstances: I had a disagreement with M about sex that we've since talked about, and I've got engagements tonight and tomorrow nights which I'm looking forward to. And I thought about de Bono's 'Mechanism of the Mind'. I wonder, for example, whether the mind might follow patterns of thought dependant on moods or secadian rhythyms. De Bono's 'Jelly Law' suggests that a jelly (the brain) becomes rutted with channels that get deeper and deeper as water (thoughts) flows through them (although he suggests the actual metaphor is more sophisticated with a tiring mechanism). Over and above this, though, perhaps there is a further complexity, a secadian rhythm dimension. For example, in a low of the rhythm, depressing thoughts - in my case, the lack of future etc - are more likely to be found by the trail of thought patterns. Conversely, in an optimistic part of the cycle, the tiring mechanism connected with these types of thought patterns could be stronger. If I imagine de Bono's model as a chess game then there would have to be a different state of the model for every period through the rhythms: three states would give 3D chess, but, of course, just as de Bono's mechanism is constantly fluctuating so would the secadian rhythms and their control of mood . . . and presumably a hundred other dimensions as well.
Sunday 20 November
As M arrived home this morning, I was dreaming. I was in a dairy shop on a Sunday. I think I had returned from a journey. M was serving. I couldn't decide what to buy, what to take back to eat. The place seemed to be moving like a milk-float on cobbles and there were noises of a milk-float filled with crates. I wondered how M could still be working even though it was so late. There was another woman in the shop, who strangely didn't ask me for any money but gave me five pounds. I was astonished. She said she saw it fall out of my pocket. Then I recognised the note as the one I had folded away very carefully to hide my cocaine. She unfolded it as she gave it to me. I don't know where any of the dream came from, especially the stuff about cocaine, as I've never used it myself.
As usual, I went to Battersea Park early on Sunday morning while M was still sleeping. I dressed up warm, took my recorder and played a little by the river. The cold beat my fingers so I put on gloves and walked on. A lady speeded past but looked at me twice and then apologised for staring. I told her I was me, and that I was sorry that I was me and not whoever she had hoped I was. She sped on past. I watched her hoping she would stop. And she did, at the end of the park. She waited for me. Her name was Victoria. She told me she was 33, and had been a heroin addict for seven years. Now, today, she was starting a new life, without tobacco. She was very exciting and very attractive. She said she was also addicted to travelling. We sped around the park together. She was unable to contain her excitment with life, with the trees, with the cold, with dogs, with feeling the air. She said she had been a slave to a drug for so long but now was feeling really strong enough to beat it all. We laughed a lot. She said she was glad she had waited for me. She had never been alive like this. I warmed a lot to her in the hour we spent together, but, I know, soon it will be very bad for her, she will have very bad times.
Last night was neat. There was an extraordinary evening at Action Space - experimental theatre called 'The Charms of Lasciviousness'. It was a story about the Bloomsbury set and it tried to show how Roger Fry, Virginia Woolf, Bertrand Russell and others extended the social barriers in all directions, far ahead of their time. There was one lovely scene where the characters abused the idea of a social picnic - stuffing each others' mouths with cucumbers or onions, pouring honey or cream cheese over their faces, all while keeping the formality of tea-tasting etc. It wasn't very professional, and the acting was poor, but, nevertheless, it was interesting. After that I saw the The Phantom Captain perform their Waiter Service. A well-dressed waiter came to our table with a personal menu offering a choice of experiences. I ordered a tea dance and the waitress brought a tape recorder and we danced. If I had ordered a blow job that would have been a waiter playing the harmonica; and if I'd ordered auto-eroticism I would have had a plastic toy car moved by a waiter over my body. The idea is excellent. I'd like to join this Phantom Captain group.
Tuesday 22 November
I paid over £600 to Peter and Tony last night, and we talked endlessly about the possible outcomes of our venture. I could be out on the streets in some months with a £1,000 worth of furnishings and fittings which I wouldn't be able to sell for more than a couple of hundred. On the other hand I could live in the flat tranquilo for a couple of years, and I might be offered money to get out. It'll be fun - renting rooms, paying bills, painting, gardening - all the responsibilities of home ownership. And I was thinking of all the difficulties of living there with M: how do we share gas and electricity bills and the chores of the house, what about the heating problems, and growing the chives, and should I have tenants and in which room.
Wednesday 23 November
I wrote a report on the do-you -want-a-union question we did for a company in Redhill. I sent off three copies on Friday. On Monday morning Mr Baker (the personnel manager) rang to say we had mixed the figures up on the noticeboard memo for the staff and in the report. I immediately did three new copies and sent them off. On Tuesday morning he rang again to say there was another muddle. This time I screwed myself up completely, binding, unbinding, completely losing my cool and concentration. At the end of the day, I took three more reports, personally, down to Redhill and apologised profusely.
I got another puncture in my bicycle - there's so much FUCKING SHIT IN LONDON'S GUTTERS.
Thursday 24 November
I went to a dinner at J's last last night. There was superman, and the Somalian joke man, and the lady with the funny mouth, and the alchemist or was he an archivist. We ate cauliflower soup and Russian pie and talked about the same things - flats/films/comics - boom boom. What I really wanted to say was that I slept on the floor in J's room and felt a real fool. J tossed and turned in her bed and told me her woes. I asked to share her bed, but she said no. Letters from Christian. Started silk screen printing again. In the Midland Bank, I voted on a dried flower display. Something very wonderful that the Midland Bank sponsors!
Sunday 27 November
A winter Sunday morning, sun streaming in the window that looks out on the river. The statue of Thomas More at one end of Cheyne Walk is grotesque.
Paul K Lyons
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