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Diaries
of
PAUL K LYONS

1978

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JOURNAL - 1978 - FEBRUARY

2 February

I have no energy in the mornings to think about clothes - I am in mourning, but my bike wears purples and reds.

I miss M.

My desk is littered with papers - corporate image is killing me. How many cups of tea/coffee do I drink in a day? Between 6 and 9. Is it horrifying? I have caught the habit of xeroxing my head.

I was very high this morning for a few moments. I visited a burnt down church with new rooms, old rooms, ghostly coat hangars swinging on rails in the middle of a basement, incense in the air, one candle lighting a doorway, and an old woman. Through a window, I could see the main church area ooked wet and bombed, roofless and lifeless, a rotting barn in the wilds of Westminster.

Come all you little things fill my head, the weird, the obnoxious, the pointless, the imaginary, the suffocating, the beautiful, the timeless, the reality and the reward.

Monday 6 February

M stayed last night. It felt like making love with an animal, I couldn't satisfy her at all. I didn't enjoy it very much, maybe my sexual being is full of tension, all I was concerned with was satisfying her.

Tuesday 7 February

Such a very busy day. Some lady who came to stay left snuff on the mantlepiece. I'm quite tired. And nobody invited me to a pancake party.

Friday

I am acutely aware of the pointlessness of life. I have a new expression for February: when asked 'how are you' the answer should come with a smile 'not too suicidal thank you'.

This occupied man went to a training session at lunchtime, played squash at 3:00, had coffee with M at 4:30, went to Fieldwork International at 5:00, had drinks with his father at 6:00, dinner at Shea's at 8:00, and then tea and chat with Jean at 11:00. This occupied man had to tell everybody he was occupied and had the flu and was exhausted.

I have signed my soul away for a weekend encounter group with Guja and Swaroop. My main fear is boredom. I am told it is bad if I arrive late on Friday evening, if I want to leave for a couple of hours, if I want to read or write.

Saturday 11 February

Rosemary's dream: Roger and Bob and Rosemary are all in Bob's office, looking through a window are the rest of the staff who feel left. I am the ring leader banging on the window, wanting to get in on the meeting.

I'm at Quaesitor - it's the weekend encounter group, being run by Guja and Swaroop - and I'm sitting in the kitchen smoking a roll-up, drinking peppermint tea. Dylan is moaning about love, and most of the group are singing songs like those I used to sing when I was a Christian. I really don't know what the fuck I am doing here. I don't feel comfortable writing. I think I have become really bored with introspection, especially after doing so much of it while living with M.

Sunday

Last night I went to sleep trying to figure out why I found none of the people here attractive. They are all so friendly and warm and inviting and open; but M is or, at least, was ten times more interesting and attractive to me than anyone here. I couldn't work out why.

The weekend didn't bore me. I let myself move with the group and be part of it - my energy was there (!!!). Guja and Swaroop both gave Jean a hard time by saying they wanted to cool their relationships with him. He did come across as rather childish, which he is sometimes. I wonder why I'm a friend of Jean's and not a friend of Guja and Swaroop. Perhaps it's because he accepts me. Catharsis, it seems, is the word for the emotional explosion that people go through in order to help get rid of their hang-ups; and bio-energetics is the word for the kind of exercises that hurt so much people end up shouting and screaming to get rid of the pain, and, in the process, let out some emotions too. I did shout and scream to relieve the pain, but some of the others broke down.

Monday 13 February

The Times: 'A bomb planted in a dustbin killed two people early today outside a Sydney Hotel where leaders of the 12 Commonwealth countries had gathered for a summit conference. Police hunting the bombers said later they were searching for three men described as possibly Arabs.' What does a 'possibly Arab' look like?

The cost of erecting a typical advance direction sign measuring 20ft by 20ft including posts, foundations and lighting is £4,000.

I write a letter to Lynn about the cold; I buy a present for M and a book of Gustave Dore engravings; and talk to Didier.

Wednesday 15 February

111 people in South Africa had their colour changed legally last year. Nine Whites were reclassified as Coloureds (people of mixed race) and 45 Coloureds became Whites. Sixteen Blacks were reclassified as Coloureds and 16 Indians and 22 Malays were classified Coloureds. Three other Coloureds legally became Indians, and 22 Malays were also designated Indians.

St James's Park is full of ducks, ice, Brownies and people taking photographs today.

Sunday 19 February

Where am I? Half way through Fowles' book 'Daniel Martin'. Three-quarters of the way through thinking about Bresson's film. Should I write to Frederic? A storybook situation, shall I fictionalise it? romanticise it? turn it over to Longfellow?

Sarah, one of my flatmates in New Zealand, came round just now.

There are so many different levels of life to consider. Primarily there is the essence of life: being pointless yet full of grand scales of delusions; its mediocrity yet seen through curved mirrors; its paradoxes that join together in a sort of unison. To talk, think, reason on this level is only a negative thing for me, as illustrated by the words issuing forth from a short black line: 'Not with a bang, but a whimper'. It's the clarity that's the problem: how can one start when the end is visibly empty. On this level I am totally negative for everything is empty, friends, purposes, aims, desires, emotions, achievements.

(Ravi Shankar is playing on the record player. I don't want to get up and change the record any more so I've left it on repeat play. Which reminds me that the first time I ever made love was after a party with a plump jolly girl in New Zealand. I was 23 and unembarrassed to tell her I was virgin. She had a record-player on, and I kept jumping up from the bed to change the record until she told me to how to set the player to repeat. Incidentally, I remember her telling me that I wasn't very good in bed but that I could be with practice! Coincidentally, Sarah ran into Ross, another of my NZ flatmates at a ski resort in Austria recently, and it was Ross who rang me up late one night to invite me to the party where I finally - thank the holy virgin mother - was initiated. Two and a half years later, I am still a lousy lay.)

A second dimension might be that of personal betterment and grandeur, i.e. the world of compromising between self and dreams, between he and he he wants to be. But this dimension is a crazy mixture of who am I? is my life as good/rich/fulfilling/interesting as the next person's? In this dimension, my mind flashes between my ambitions (dug out from dreams) and my absurdly ordinary existence.

It is 10 o clock.

And then there's the dimension of 'what should I have for lunch', 'how are you Mum', 'must clean the dishes', 'Stewart can I borrow your ruler', and 'two sugars please'.

I went to the Secret Garden. By the time I arrived all ten fingertips were freezing. A cigarette heightened my sensations, from sound to movement to colours to the focusing of the eyes and back to the cold infiltrating my sweaters. Swaying trees of leaves, folding slowly over in the wind, the brisk dancing of the wind, the rushing of colours as Manet saw them, of the world of highs, the world Hesse prefers, the world of peace, the short crossed lines in brilliant yellow. The round sun, full full full of energy. Shall we live here? and listen to Huxley's parrots and see the world mirrored in an ice pond and be overwhelmingly grateful? This is where are real smiles, smiles that stretch from soul to head to heart and back to the ivy leaf in yellow and tree shades of green.

Monday 20 February

'How ill this taper burns' - Brutus; 'Beware the ides of March' - Caesar; 'He is a dreamer let us leave him' - the soothsayer.

I saw my first Easter Eggs of the year this morning.

Wednesday 22 February

Anne's father doesn't eat anything yellow - bananas, cheese, yellow plums.

Anne saw a naked black boy, about two years old, running along the street on a cold evening - alone. She got out of the car to help him. She saw a man in the distance turn around to walk away, and the child run after him shivering.

Stewart's view on 'The Plague' by Camus is that the allegory is so forceful and dominant that it overshadows the characters who remain two dimensional and without depth - sounds like a textbook comment to me.

26 February

That time . . . now where was it . . . in which year . . . oh never mind . . . but what about that meeting in . . . hell, scream your name before you forget it. Blessed is Paul for he shall . . . And now shall I dance alone? Who shall I give my heart to? Who shall see me shake like a worm before the children.

Did I bathe in tepid water, and get clean behind the ears, between the toes. Why do I put this ghostly red light on? Am I waiting for A to tell me stories about her grandfather's death or M to phone and say she cannot come today or B to spit in my eye or R to suck me dry? Does the whisky shock my throat or Chopin make me feel fine? Am I afraid of those silences? Or the lines on the wall that aren't quite straight?

 

Paul K Lyons

March 1978

 

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