PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1978 - NOVEMBER
Friday 3 November
No more deliberate, no more concealed, no more delighted, no more able, no more transportable, no more excellent, no more satisfied, no more endurable, no more easy, no more rational, no more beautiful, no more awake, no more clever, no more desirable, no more playful, no more intellectual, no more intellectual or romantic, no more eccentric, no more boring, no more an actor, writer or poet, no more satisfied, no more able to be satisfied than ever before.
No less a stupid man, unable to compromise himself with the world, endlessly surprised at my own complete minority at my own completely normal abstract existence. No more capable than ever before to deal with all the multitudinous paradoxes and no more able to forget them and even worse no more able to know even if I want to forget them.
Marielle: Brownies picnic on the sand of leaves, their little yellow butterfly bowties blend them into the leaf-castles and moats they build, only their plastic bags and nylon jackets reveal an agitated state of excitement. Now I see the old willow tree that is still green, albeit a dying green, but it's laced with gold chains hanging loose in its branches. In art, there is no right or wrong way. In mathematics there does exist a 'best' way to solve a problem. It seems to me that mother nature has turned scientific and created a perfect autumn, that leaves me no choice but to feel somewhat nauseated. Now the Brownies have lined up with all their nylon jackets on, and I am not sure where the play-leaves have gone. And why are all the gold chains hanging downwards only; if I had hidden my jewellery there I would have varied the hanging angles. A child screeches, a mother, dressed in autumn, smiles at my smile, but when she has gone, I stick out my tongue and continue wearing my purple and blues. Some ducks think like me. Paul
It's a while since I've had a real crisis, the last one initiated my entry into market research, the next might boot me out of it.
Dancing is so good - if I could I would dance all my life.
Sunday 5 November
I will see some fireworks tonight. Last night I dreamed that Joel had dug the whole garden, but one larger than this. He had planted all sorts of things, and shown me around. After that I felt I couldn't throw him out any more even though he'd been behaving like a pig. The dream was completely absent until I opened the garden door and then it came to me in a flash.
This morning in bed I was thinking about De Bono's model. The brain, young in infancy, is like a sheet of glass which marbles run over, in every which way. However, with adolescence the glass becomes softer and the marbles running through it leave vague impressions. If, though, the marble runs on the same track a thousand times, it leaves a very definite impression. Thereafter, if the marble is in the vicinity of that track, it is likely to fall into and follow it. The more the track is used the more there will be little tracks running into it from other parts of the glass sheet. By a certain age, these tracks, and the way an individual's head works, becomes fixed.
Just now I walked into the garden and over a hump of earth at the back. I've never walked over the hump before. I found myself in a stranger's garden. To the right, I saw a wall and decided to walk along it not sure of where it would lead. I heard children's voices and followed the wall towards them. After some narrow escapes from dogs and barbed wire, I jumped down into what appeared to be more of an orchard than a garden. There were about five children playing joyously. I watched them for a while as they swung on a rope hanging from a great branch, while others ran around chasing each other. I remembered when I was living in Hoddesdon, not more than 12 or 13, playing in a similar orchard. The sense of freedom around the children astounded me, the freedom not to think and reason - others will do it. Two of them ran off at one point and climbed up another tree. To my delight, as my eyes went before them, I saw the tree-house I was half expecting. It was better than anything I had ever built (and, I thought, even in my childhood, I was destined never to really do large things well). It had real glass windows, and one of them had a blind made out of an old plastic tablecloth. There were two rooms, and a roof. I felt so big, watching them, a giant with emotions, responses, thoughts, all too large and calculated and practised to ever think of entering that house. All I could do was retreat, sadly, along the wall, through the stranger's garden, over the hump and, back to the garden, my room, and to writing this.
Monday 6 November
Willingly, I find a thousand letters from my true love on the mat. The housewife holiday, the repentant child, the passionate lover, the group reporter. All at once, my doubts are abolished, love is rekindled, as though the dying embers have been flared up by the wind, till flames roar and race through my emotions. Is this love, I wonder, as I squander time.
How exciting this prospect of leaving work. I am getting obsessed with the idea, talking about it, gauging people's reactions. If I leave now instead of at the end of February or March, I will be £400-600 worse off, and I'll have only one year's experience instead of 18 months. But what do I need experience for - will I ever really work in business again? But I'm afraid of suddenly going into the alternate scene which I've rejected for so long.
Surely, a whole play, or a novel, could be written entitled 'The rise and fall of the Demolition Decorators'. Another Monday meeting passed by. The group and its members are more interesting than the actual gigs they peform. Tonight, for example, we had a sharp-but-dulled-by-drugs couple from BIT who took up our time and space. They wanted to hold their tenth anniversary in our squat. The mob, our mob were patient with them. I find myself willing and practical but often defeated by the criss-cross mutterings that cut under and fly over me. I walk out into the street to collect some boxes. I am in bare feet. I return and crush them beneath my feet and feel the fire of my impatience. I tramp around avoiding eyes, the quick and supple. I catch the crossfires but have no effect on them.
Saturday 11 November
Eight letters from Marielle this week. It's marvellous, it's beautiful, I'm so in love, but I can't tell anyone. Can I tell M, could Stewart take it, could Jean share my joy; and the rest I wouldn't even think to tell them. I'm so condition to feel like a braggart if I say any amazing that happens to me. But then, I too find it difficult to share such a joys other may have, of M finding a new lover, of Jean's workshop going well, of Stewart's big bonus.I always find it difficult to share another's joy when I feel it announced as 'here I am, look at me, aren't I wonderful', and this is how I think I would seem if I were to tell anyone about Marielle's eight letters.
I am sexually thirsty, and yet I miss chances. Last night, for instance, I developed an easy relationship with one of 'Beryl and the Peryls' - she attracted me, her manner, her face. After the group's performance, I was standing around, keeping an eye on the room in my role as theatre steward, and there was a lot of eye contact between us. When I spoke, it was she that laughed or responded. I heard her ask a male colleague in French, 'What are you doing this night?', and I glanced at her, and her eyes held mine. To another friend, she said, 'I think I'm going to Plume's to sleep tonight'. A minute or two later she was ready to leave, and standing before me, casually saying goodbye. I drew her to me, to kiss her, but I gave her a cheek kiss as if to say goodnight. But, I know, she was waiting to be invited to come with me by a kiss on the lips, and a soft word of invitation. It was all so instantaneous, perhaps I'm dreaming, but I don't think so. These are the nuances of life, the nuances which I dream of, and yet when they come I (of all people, the star of my life) am not there. Not me, no, I am running away, scared.
To Hans: My dear magician-rat, don't fret, don't scuttle around too much, please don't wake the sleeping queen. I hear you at night scratching on the floorboards. My dear magician-rat, don't fret. I will leave you a piece of cheese, when I go out (or is cheese for mice), I will not feed the cat. Fear not, no cat will chase you, just the light. My dear magician-friend, don't fret. You see my gut trembles, my eyes are giddy, and my fingers are in combat with each other. I lose my trail, I look for a safety rail, and a step made of stone not crumbling earth. My feet are sore with this walking, running, climbing. My dear magician-friend, don't fret, at least not more than I. The puzzle is a whisper in your darling Greece, the puzzle is a scream in my cosy London. The mountain goat is always trapped on some precipice or other, searching distant memory for another way, fondly caressing his dreams for an instinctive choice. How scared, how small, how frightened, how carefully he points his toes, how rashly he charges with his horns. My dear magician-rat, don't fret. Don't wake the sleeping queen as you scamper for food - you know how well the tiger enters from the raging scene, you my friend will nibble at her legs, I am sure. I will jump on to a higher ledge and laugh until the spit hits my eye and the kiss kills my ears. The legs of the mountain goat are not so strong, far firmer some years ago, but yet now is it middle age, second youth, or old age, my knees are weak. I wobble, I am too high, I will not fall. My dear magician-friend, don't fret. Your zoo I've seen, and how impressed I am by your collection and your collection. There is a mountain goat who stands on some high mountain top with a telescopic glass watching all the movements, how his eye is caught by such strangers as a queen or magician or princely count. How sad he is when, at times, he tries to run, he finds some hermit has tied a rope to his back legs and staked it to the ground, half way up that mountain, far from harm and far from brave heroic deeds of pleasure. My dear Hans, I think that there he eats grass, and it makes him sick.
I have resigned my job - given in my notice. My word, sir, that is a bit rash. How nervous I am, how many days in the future to consider, how many weeks, months, years. How much of me, what other, what else, what further thing to consider. How I rant and rave upstairs, how turmoiled and chaotic my game of solitaire, how dark my reason in these days, and my fortune.
Pete and Paul organised a gig last night, a Demolition Decorators gig. It was explosive. Beryl and the Peryls were booked to perform at 8:30, according to 'Time Out', but they didn't start until 11 or finish till midnight. And the power blew, so the show's finale only came with the help of everyone's matches. Two bands and Ruff Theatre had also been due to play at the event, but the whole thing was a cock-up. Since this is the alternative scene, though, people are supposed to keep cool, not get mad. It was chaos - four bands and two and a half theatre groups hanging around all squabbling about the running order. Pete did keep his cool, and Paul calmly tried to organise the performers but they eventually took things into their own hands. Two of the DDs were chanting to some seventh heaven and calling it peace and prosperity.
Two pairs of dirty pants, one old one new, the Ham & High, photographs, luncheon vouchers, records, poems, letters, shoes, cushions, watches and books all litter the floor of my home. The bed is ruffled. Papers lie on every surface, clothes are on top of the papers; the fire burns steadily, empty glasses wait to be washed. Night falls long before the afternoon has finished. Silk scarves hang down from the ceiling. Pictures, weavings and belts hang on the wall. My briefcase lies tired by the bed, it is full of silver from the party last night, but also letters from lovers and half-written letters to lovers.
DIARY 10: November - December 1978
The Muse said: Paul, write on
In love, Marielle said
Monday 13 November 1978
How smooth and thin these pages (how rough and thick the ones just finished). Once before I sat on a tube station to began a new diary book; this time Sloane Square is my vision, drips are falling all the time disturbing the image. I try and focus with my strange kind of eyes. Will this book go to Marielle, the muse of my hidden murmurings?
Wednesday 15 November
I seem to be off into an emotional cold storage (as somebody put it this afternoon). It's the first time I've stopped to think for several days, or stopped to write any way.
The clown workshop happened, but I very nearly missed it. I rang Action Space for the names of performers that might enjoy some chaos at the Demolition Decorators gig, but suggested I phone the Oval, where someone mentioned Kaboodle. Then I remembered John Melvy and his clown workshop and asked about it. It was happening that very day, so I went there instead of going to Aldeburgh. I met another thirty odd people from London's fringe scene at that class, but I made no contacts, found no spark with anyone at all. There were three or four really good performers, and they were likable - I would like to know them. And what of my character - an oversensitive romantic poet on an expedition with the Greater Ogglington Ornithological Society to Trafalgar Square. There were hazards - rain and police. Mr Pecker, the society's chairman, did well. Dan Merriweather sulked most of the time because he didn't get very much attention. Iona Canary was marvellous as a nature poet and, in character, I fell in love with her. Was my character shallow and transient? Did he waver? Was he unoriginal? Mr Bush was good. Mrs Brown, with her turd droppings, was in another world. Maple Millet didn't easily lose her natural Diana charm. Professor Rook led some rousing goosy goosy ganders, and Mr Dropping watched over the safety of the groups' members. On the whole, though, I felt I was very far away from the depths of character that interest me, that I've seen achieved by actors with the Cockpit Theatre in Education team, for example, or Shared Experience.
Which leads me on to RANDOM THEATRE. This is a new concept in entertainment where the audience get to choose what happens. For instance, there could be eight different ways of presenting a play. After the first act, the audience is given a choice of one, two or three, which dictates what happens next. Choices one and two could be rehearsed versions, and the same could happen twice more as the play progresses giving a total of eight combinations. However, at any of the three branching points, if the third option is chosen, then the actors beging an improvised version. There could be other options: the theatre closes, the audience come on stage etc. Hmm, perhaps I'll develop the idea in the future.
The Demolition Decorators Monday meeting. Notes twang through the cold buildings from a solo electric guitar. The ex-coach seat that I sit upon is held upright by breeze blocks; others sit on bottle crates; a board covers a hole in the floor caused by the fire in the grate spreading too far. Mary wanders around, sober calm. She's pretty tonight, hoping to do something, anything. There is a rumour that the police are going to raid us because of the wood fire, so Mary has been cleaning out the ashes. 'Upstairs at Ronnies' is scribbled on the wall with orange paint behind a makeshift counter. Next door Willy shows the visitors from BIT his cubbyhole, the IT office. Pages and articles and photos are still strewn across the table. The magazine was due at the printers on Friday, but one person's perfection is cauterised by another's ideals, and the pages get changed and cut, cut and changed. Meanwhile, revenue from advertising is awaited to pay the printing costs. Single notes still twang. A lady has been and gone with the electricity money, but a small donation from BIT has upped our finances slightly. It's nine o' clock, still no-one else has arrived, so the Monday meeting finally starts- and my gut rumbles.
Thursday 23 November
Autumn almost deceased.
Would it dare turn again?
An immediate spring, would the bushes spring to life?
Would our lives turn back a year, remove the strife?
How trite my poetic tumble on the page.
Judy took me for a walk in Kew Gardens on Sunday. There I met Albert and Fleet.
I am now silk screen printing at 68 Fordwych Road. I fall into the arms of M again. But I learnt a valuable lesson - not to write letters to people when I'm angry. I think about Jean and Cecile, getting their flat together, committing themselves to each other, and showing it. I see my father and Michele totally committed to each other. How far away I am from such collar and chain commitment and the building together. What an isolated individual I am.
Where will I go in January - how interesting? Tim thinks I should into theatre management. What does Marielle think. She thinks I should go to Greece and walk upon the sand, and listen to the land.
Notes to Marielle: This is what late afternoon feels like, with only warm stale air to touch, taste and savour. No rocks, no silence cuttingly sharp. This is what the monotonous hour has done to me wrapped in her relevant cloak of whitewashed security, eyes blinking: no dazzle from the sea sending coded messages, no kaleidoscope but that made for the children. This is the darkest time with pupils still pinpricks, not widening caverns to trap the light.
And this is dawn, through Regents Park. Beautiful gold streaks and foil rising in the sky, in the sky from where I've come, the fences, gardens, trees, lakes and flowerbeds of Regents Park. And there, the Post Office Tower and the Euston sky block. The dawn a thousand times more intense more grand than either matchstick erected through its skin. Often I look behind to see the curled-up golden scarf unfold itself in the sky, rays, streaks, stripes, layers upon layers of golden dawn built up, one upon one the other. In windows, the blinding gold is reflected as if a great fire were burning inside. And this fire continued to tremble until it erupted, until the sun broke free from its silken-scarf cocoon and rolled gently into the blue. Beneath my cycle wheels soft dew, calm ponds, bare trees, empty paths. Never was dawn so alive, so exciting for me in London - never.
And there too was the new moon, angular, proud, determined not to be forgotten. And there, there on the mat when I got home was a card from her. It said: see you soon.
My writing deteriorates on each page, the last thing I want to do now is write in here. I drink lemon tea and wish I were sleeping in a lemon tree and feeling my dreams. My guts tremble, it's a rotting sort of tremble. And what was it I was shouting on my bike this morning through the cold: 'I'm climbing on the rotten side of time.'
I read a story to Colin, he thought it was terrible. He came one evening, stayed over, and spent the following day helping me clean and sort out cupboards. He rubs his hands together with glee. His head perches forward as he laughs deeply, usually because he has just pronounced some philosophical wisdom or wit which applies to me in an uncannily true way. He works with fervour, interest, and undivided attention.
I slept well this last night, cramming extra deepness into my dreams in M's bed, where, normally, I only sleep with a thousand tosses. And, this morning, watching M put on tight trousers excited me wild.
At the weekend, my clown had a lean face, had a hop, skip and a jump. He spent a lifetime building a house from a pile of litter. He cleaned out the pile and arranged all the rubbish in a more ordered fashion - in the middle of the coffee bar. Slowly but surely he brought each item back bit by bit, each had its place in his home. He was so proud of it. He stole cups and saucers and paintings and decorations. He designed his kitchen and his sitting room. He piled up his clothes. He hung a porch up outside his front door and swept his front path. He watched the people go by. He had very few visitors. He went out to play sometimes. He did handstands and skipped and danced with the people, but not many of them smiled. He was a nice, friendly clown - until someone came and trod on his kitchen and wouldn't play the game. Fuck, that was so annoying. There I was dressed as a clown with a fairly timid (do I mean weak?) character and two guys came and stood on my kitchen table. I gestured for them to come down, but treated me like a clot. They didn't have a morsel of imagination, they just continued standing there. As a clown I become more and more upset and angry. Finally, I broke out into speech and explained that it was my house, and that they were standing on the table. They didn't believe me, and didn't move. After much pleading,though, finally they did move, and I - as the clown - was so relieved. I made the table up again. But this time I covered it, so, if they wanted to, the two louts could return to their perch. But the whole encounter destroyed the clown's power, the clown's pride - in his house, in what he had done.
Julian wanted his boots. Julian wanted to play rugby. Julian wanted to go to Oxford. Julian wanted to borrow my mother's car, but she was getting ready to visit me. In a panic Julian finally rang to tell me to come to him immediately bringing the boots. I went, and angrily slung the boots at him and told my mother not to bother to visit any more, because it was so late. She turned and said, in a spiteful voice, 'But, what were you doing with his boots any way?' I replied: 'You could have let him use the car to get the boots.' But, soon after leaving, my emotions took over. I curled and cringed with sunken feelings which dug so low. I was filled with flashes of understanding about how these people battle to make each day happy and special. I actually fell off my bike, held my guts and cried out with the pathos of it all.
Paul K Lyons
Copyright © PiKLe PuBLiSHiNG