PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1978 - OCTOBER
Monday 2 October
Tommy has his eyes wide open; his eyeballs roll around and up high as he tries to formulate exactly what he wants to say. George and Bill yawn. A frizzy black student expounds ideas on politics and theatre, and is supported by a hard-nosed, determined kid (from the slums?). They are here to ask for the services of the Demolition Decorators; they have patiently waited their turn on the agenda. I yawn. The Demolition Decorators' cause for the month. We are to picket shops that sell South African goods. Yes, folks, every small tin of South African pilchards that you buy supports APARTHEID. This is what happened: these people found out their local health food shop was selling South African goods. The shop was informed that it might lose customers in future, but it didn't listen. So they organised a small picket, and it succeeded almost immediately - all South African goods were removed from the shelves. So, now they want to organise a bigger picket, and they want the DDs to help.
DIARY 9: October - November 1978
Inside front cover: 'With love to a 26 year odd Paul. The blue-eyed elf swirling among the bushes of a secret garden at moonlight to allure with a corner-eyed smiled the laughing spirits of the silvery pond. From despair to joy, bush to bush, playing with the masks, until the water-clear child melts in the fire of a smile on the lips of an evergreen spring.' - Jean-Christophe and Cecile
2 October 1978
Straight from the gabbling turmoil of a Monday night with the DDs. How my head wrangles, how my mouth shouts as I cycle home. I feel myself once again cutting chords with people. I isolate myself more and more. I am more mad each moon. I felt dirty at the DDs, saying things I couldn't keep to, trying to make clever jokes. What a constant battle - my head rages against accepting any normality. It seems as though the more normal I realise I am, the madder I become. And here the whole essence of writing comes into doubt.Why do I write? Because there is nobody else to say these things to. My head is loathe to except the idea that I'm normal, that I have the same problems as everybody else, that I have the same type of relationships, the same doubts, the same fears.
This is a fine way to start October. If things go well, I'll finish this short book of beige pages within a month.
When I go away, Stewart will have to look after Hieronymous the spider plant, and tend him carefully. I shall indeed go to Greece to touch and swim in the magic that will rejuvenate me, replenish me, refill me, resummer me.
A teacher brought her children to the grassy bank in the park and told them to put their bags together; then, in the blink of an eye, they were rolling down the bank, spontaneously laughing and playing. I know this childish joy.
Today, tonight, this night I fly, leaving behind me the noises in the city, leaving behind the DDs, leaving behind my poor little flat in the grubby hands of those who have no care for it.
7-14 October, Calamata, Greece
The only flies I feel are flies, and the mosquitoes are the only mosquitoes, and a firefly is too hot to hold, too red to stare at, too proud to ignore. My body moves slowly, treading along pathways that maze around the village, along pathways that become doorways, houseways' entrances, entrance halls; crumbling steps lead to crumbling arches lead to crumbling walls and rooves. My foot will (I know it will) disturb the grasshopper on the path that will spread its wings and reveal to a crimson fright, a crimson flight. My eyes will dart with it (I know they will, I feel them ready) to the stone or bush the other side of where I walk.
After a night of long white love, the acute essence of morning is a kaleidoscope of pure colours and sounds. Sea and sky blue, mountains with mysterious greens. Houses old and cold stone. Birds - the twitter tunes. The sun slowly rises and melts my perception or my imagination that might have come in the night. I am a receptacle for the slight sensations that will pass. The horn of the bus, for instance, becomes a sound for to fill the oceans and the lands as far as I can see. The swaying of a tree or the wind itself diverts at least three senses from the sea-wizards that dance in my head. My forehead furrows to capture, to catch a thought, my eyelids would prefer to fall and to let each lash be caressed by the grandeur of the weathers. My love is a momentary dance of tortoises, or it is
Nudity on the rocks, more than nudity, a bareness to the waves and their impressive depths, their heights and depths, the tunnels of rocks that frighten and leave you gasping with a little sense of magnificence.
Robert Crisp is blunter and more like a child this noon-time. He was a foreign correspondent, writer, journalist. He wears shorts and a bright yellow t-shirt; a napkin is tied around his neck, He sits, placed at a table for one, in front of a television; his head bent back, eyes enthralled. His hands play with a knife, fork, chips, a glass and a bottle of Retsina. Here is age and freedom and the wrinkles that were moulded, hardened and set by fear. Any trembles he shows now are in the shake of the folds in his skin, not in his voice or eyes. He is fascinated by Marielle's group, curious. He tempts the members of the group a little with his stories, or the promise of white beard wisdom.
It is four-o-clock on Monday afternoon. I know it is Monday because two days ago it was Saturday, Friedl told me, and I know it is four in the afternoon because the clock in this cafe says so (even though the post office isn't supposed to open until five, but it seems to be open now).
I am too high, too infatuated to realise the glory of this all. My stomach still flutters when I think of Marielle walking around the corner and the smile of a thousand nights missed in our separate flights, our different travels.
Morning in Pyrghos, sun shines low under the mass of grey clouds that appear so low. Contrasting against the white stone walls of the streets. Wind is expectant in gusts. A rainstorm is probable.
I awake slowly from a night of howls by sipping coffee. Above me rises a cobbled street, below another runs to the church, and to the side another to the plaza. From the latter, a small woman comes, dressed in black blouse, black skirt, black slippers and carrying a bundle of firewood on her back, it is twice as large as she. Away up the central alley a younger woman carries a similar bundle, but of hay this time. The wind threatens, the vines tremble, leaves form small whirlpools on the concrete.
23 October, London
My room is clean, the air is cold, the silence is stale, so blunt in comparison to the silence on the Greek hills. My body is clean, my mind is swirling with words to be written om paper; music missed once or twice is playing on the stereo. M phoned a few minutes after I arrived saying how much she had missed me. I missed her too. Letters from lovers in other lands await me. Which shall I read first? Marielle is there, Maja too, Didier and Anne, all writing remembrances. I am touched. Maja is sad, apparently, watching her own life like a television soap opera. Anne clutches onto straws, finds a smile and examines it with a magnifying glass. From afar, I feel her eyes aflamed. Marielle only brings a tear to my eye, even though I'm so tired and bleached from our time together.
On one occasion in Greece, Marielle and I made love in such a complete and relaxed way it was similar to the experience we had on acid. But then Arnold, followed by Hans, came in to watch, and I lost unconsciousness and became self-aware. Hans left soon, and Arthur went quiet and tried to make himself invisible in the corner, yet I was still panicked in my mind. After a while, Marielle asked Arnold to go. Even then, I couldn't recover my beat, and Marielle and I - our eyes, our touch, our words - were in two different rhythms. The only time I had experienced either of these sensations - the ultra-relaxed lovemaking and the total loss of connection with someone - before was also with Marielle on that same acid trip. Why should this be? I am sure there was no association in my mind, no deliberate connection between the two states? Only by asking Marielle to touch me very gently was I able to fall back into harmony with her. And then, the following day, my last evening in Greece, sitting in a cafe in Agios alone with Marielle, a wild strangeness came over me. I saw Marielle as a total stranger, seeing me as a complete foreigner, and I tried to understand how I could have spent two weeks so intensely involved with this woman who, at that moment, felt a million miles away. I thought to move to go and hold or touch her, but then I would have lost the feeling, and I wanted to explore it, think about it. Then I thought of dancing, but that would have been out of place then and there, and too premeditated.
How absurd to be living my life like this, in an office, looking at my watch every half an hour. Am I in school or something? It is four months until the end of February, when I plan to leave this job. Suddenly, that seems a very long time! I haven't felt so ridiculous in this job before. Winter could be very slow. I wonder if I shouldn't bother waiting until February (when I might be due an annual bonus), perhaps I should look for other jobs now.
I had a dream in which I went back to Greece. A stranger wandered into the house wanting to use the telephone to call an ambulance for there had been an accident outside. M was suffering from asthma in the night (although she tried heroically not to wake me with it) and her coughs became, in my dream, sea lions on the rocks calling for food. In the morning, I cried a little with M who was ashamed and frightened for her body. We are so close now, so deep in love like brother and sister. My arms will always be open for her tears, her laughter, her plans, her sex.
If the truth be known I do not like to live alone. The nights of winter are so forbidding, so ancient, so everlasting, so uninviting, who could possibly blame the tortoise for hibernating.
Please autumn add a touch of fire to your seasonal trial, add a touch of anger to your constant rearranging. You are far too sanguine, and gently pleasing, be not afraid to be a little sharper, do not let your violent reds be disguised with banal and overcherished brown; and why is your yellow ochre and never an acid lemon. In the distance runs a child with a coat the colour of a boiled red sweet. If it were spring, she would be mistaken for an early rose. Not now, though, with you, autumn, gently suffocating us with your kindness, she could only be a piece of litter, a toffee paper, or drinks can. You are far too pretentious this year, far too condescending, to be liked. I have seen you too many times in children's book, in classic films of the year, and described perfectly in prose. Tomorrow I will wear blues and purples.
I am in distress, constantly returning to examine my glaring inadequacies. Yesterday was perfect proof. I had a whole day free to do whatever I wished without the burdens of friends or tasks that had to be done. I had the freedom to think, to write, to draw, to dance, but I didn't do the half of what I wanted. I kept on catching myself staring into space, doing little things, escaping from anything that required too much concentration. And, at time, I slipped into gurgles of self-pity, and wallowed away half an hour confirming that I didn't really know what I should be doing with my life. I weep and wail, saying to myslef that I know, if given the chance, I could write/act/improvise/dance well with people, and yet my head/imagination/creative ability is FLAT.
As a matter of fact I ran away from two situations the other night, one with a woman I've liked for a long time, but never had the courage to approach, and one with Plume who played with me all night and played better than me.
Tuesday 31 October
This morning M enchanted me with her phrase 'completemente nice',
My head gurgles with ideas now. I tell myself I should leave my job and spend the winter writing a play about Aleister Crowley. I can try for a job at the Harry Price Library - one day a week. I could write to Kenneth Grant who knew Crowley.
I have just finished reading my New Zealand diary (1975) and I am acutely aware of barely being any older or mature. It is over one year that I am in this market research job. It's absurd, from the first day I was no more interested in it than I was in a rusted safety-pin. Carefully, I toss around the idea of leaving. Compared to three years ago, my poetry is more misty, and my relations are more sexual.
Paul K Lyons
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