PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1980 - MAY
Tuesday 6 May 1980
Preposterous tears again. Repeating over and over again that I must have a plan, an alternative plan. The hollowness continues. I feel as though I am broken into four pieces and each of the pieces is being cracked and strained to breaking point.
I was in Brighton at the weekend with Rosy and Andrew, playing with Tammy and Jason and taking Emma on a long walk.
Action Space is full of bright yellow plastic tablecloths. Feminists hold his port. I am a stranger.
A daring raid by the SAS freed hostages held in the Iranian embassy. The world applauded. Tito finally died in Ljubljana. But Ljubljana will remind me of Maja even if Tito died there a hundred times.
I will go to Amsterdam. I have sent Marielle an invitation to meet me there. I may also see N.
Wednesday 7 May
At least I didn't cry today.
I saw a woman on the tube and she was beautiful. I found it too difficult to talk to her, so I pushed a note in her hands as I left carriage. Latr, she phoned! I forgot her name - damn. She is going to Paris for two weeks. I don't know whether we talked long enough for her to remember me in two weeks time. I thought about her all night long. Such a fantasy.
Saturday 10 May
Rosina loves me in the afternoon because she is going away for the weekend with Richard. I am sure that I am nicer and make her feel better because she has loved me, if not I would probably have been cutting and sarcastic. I wonder how aware of this is she? Sex! Consciously and subconsciously, it is a fact of life, however hard I try to over-ride it.
A woman named Isla gives me her phone number. The sun shines on cup final day - how boring the match is. Jordi goes to work. Peter and Harvey ring. Shall I take my scarfs to Camden Lock? Shall I spend Saturday night with my mother. The Rolling Stones are playing very loud; blossom flies through the air like snow.
Michele is one-time rich fashion model. I took her to see the Demolition Decorators in an ugly pub. We talked of E, her paintings and the psychic world. When our ideas clashed over psychic matters, she drew back as though the disagreement was detrimental to our friendship. I seem to have more to say about Michele than I thought. We talked about spirituality and oneness and god and such things. I tried to explain that having so immersed myself in one religion I could never fool myself again. I was done with god. We also talked about her career, marriage and children. I felt such achievements must have left her free now to do whatever she wanted.
The sun shines across the black cafe. I listen to Mozart's Symphony 40. Imagine being able to write 40 symphonies.
Monday 12 May
It is hot and almost humid. Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 2 plays in the black cafe.
Yesterday was another of those awful days pregnant with indecision. I did not go to the market, I did not mend my bike, and Harvey was not in. The Convent Garden Puppet Fayre was full of bright colours and happy people that seemed only to counterpoint my misery. Should I stay? Should I go? Why am I here? What is it I really want? Then, finally after an interminable voyage home, all I could do is listen to music and fall asleep, wake up and fall asleep etc.
Tuesday 13 May
I hitched to Tring to research further my idea for a play - Eddy's Eggies. I met a retired cleaner from the natural history museum who knew Mervy Shorthouse, the man who, according to a newspaper article, stole thousands of birds eggs. He said everybody knew him so well that no-one bothered to check his comings and goings, and that he wasn't mad at all. Colin Harrison, the curator, in charge of the eggs (who according to the cleaner could be an opera singer) told me that Shorthouse was just a petty criminal, who had a history of many crimes. He was only interested in selling the eggs (what! all 10,000 of them). To find out more about the black market in eggs, Harrison told me to ring Peter Robinson of the RSPB. Apart from that, the museum is stuffed with stuffed animals.
It was very hard to get down to thinking about the play, to try and pull a plot out of the hat. I scratched my feet, my head, my face, changed position, looked for any distraction whatsoever to avoid hard-hittin thinking.
And the sun beat down in the cemetery, and later by the carp pond.
What do I say when someone asks me what do I do? What do I do?
Charles Dickens delights me on the underground. Apart from anything else he creates incredible images - giants serving dwarfs. To only discover him at 28!
I meet George Marlow among a host of middle Europeans at an arty art gallery opening. George is dressed in his bright Portobello Road/Indian shirt. He and his girlfriend tell me about my father Frederic and his wife Gail. But I learn nothing new. They feel sure that they are interested to meet me, and that, if I went, I could stay in their gallery.
Wednesday 14 May
My guts are so empty and tears roll down my cheeks AGAIN. I cannot conceive what will happen to me next. Rosina will leave, Colin will return, and I will go on living in this small room for 30 years moaning about not being able to pull myself together. I can't go on moaning, but what the fuck can I do? I am super-glued to a whirlpool.
Kids come home from school. Sparrows hop in and out of the eaves of the house opposite as often as the inhabitants go in and out of the door. It's lovely out there across the frontier of this table covered in black cloth, across the top of the black typewriter. I need to wear bright clothes, or else I will disappear into my own aura. Perhaps the problem is basically one of not having anyone to really share experiences and feelings with, no one who is interested in me particularly, no one who loves me. It's a terrible void. It's only made harder by highs I've known.
It is a day of official action, supposedly hundreds of thousands of people are on strike. But, as I sit at the black cloth all day long, I notice no difference.
I write six pages of 'Eddy's Eggies', but there is no burning need in me to write, it's all forced. A break is as welcome as it was at school.
Day after day, alone on a hill, keeping perfectly still.
My mind, with so little to get its teeth into, is diseased. There is no other explanation. It is riddled with pointless conversations, repetition, tens of times, of the same thought. Shall I always have this mind that wreaks of self-fulfilling self-preserving ugliness.
My whole weekend was saturated in jealousies. I was unable to cope with not being the most loved person in the world. On Sunday I had a weeping session that felt close to some kind of nervous breakdown, an inability to cope - with oneself, with other people, with one's own thoughts etc. Unhappily, I find that these weeping episodes stop when I release sexual tension. I am not sure of the connection - but something is definitely wrong. The connection is so obvious, my behaviour and rank brain absurd. This has all got to stop.
Miranda. There is a knock at the door. When I answer it a woman asks if she can come upstairs. I say no. After she has gone, I realise it might have been Miranda, and run after her through the dark streets. When I finally catch the shadow, it is her. I say, why don't you come back for coffee. As we are walking back, she falls to the ground in a sitting position. Only a small part of her face is lit. It is covered in freckles. I realise she is blind drunk. I take her hand and say I'm not going to carry you. While still sitting on the pavement, she takes my hand between her two hands, and puts my thumb into her mouth.
Go back down to the bottom and start again. Go back down to the bottom and start again. Go back down to the bottom and start again. I have a feeling that I should take the lowest job, befriend anyone who will have me, and start all over again.
Bleach the piece of shit.
THE MOST PERFECT OF MOMENTS
I strung some metal tape across the room in dozens of different ways, until it looked like a three dimensional spider web. The only way I could move was by climbing in an out, under and above, round and through the tape. On the record player a double bass concerto plays. The needle got stuck in a groove, and as the music repeated itself endlessly - I let it play on for half an hour - I danced and danced and danced through the interstices of this web I had woven. It was the exact enactment of my mind.
I resign myself to having less expectations, if any at all. If I let loose my hold on the year - give it up, say its already wasted - then life again becomes bearable. But it is not over yet.
Nene rings - whoopee. Harold rings - I found his wallet. Michele trusts me with her pictures. She wears all black. I take her flying past dusty looms and spanking clean chips. At the Cross, I become a squatter and repair floorboards.
Riots in Miami. Volcanoes in Washington. And world peace is only eleven days away.
Tuesday 22 May
Morning. Sitting at the black table I see the postman in the distance, at the end of Atkins Rd, he has no letters for me. The lorries for Tesco come and go. I hear heels click across the pavement. Rosina lies tired in bed. My mind is a little busy.
An advertisement caught my eye, and as quick as Johny Quick I was on my way. I am at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall. It is a Pandora's box of boos and cheers, hisses and applauses, grunts and snarls, whistles and swearing. One more proof of the truly uncivilised world in which we live: the wrestling match. It is the tail end of a fight between Mic McManus and Johny Kwango - both characters I remember from television ten years ago. I can't see either of them getting hurt, only experienced actors playing out scenes they've played many times before. Someone throws a penny that hits Kwango on the forehead, and he goes into an hysterical fit, as though he's never felt pain before. The contest is annulled. There's another bout between a bright-panted boy and a tall blond Nord. They are both slightly effeminate; the Nord uses tickles as his weapon and the other dances around the ring. Bright Pants becomes so incensed by his rivals antics that he ties him up in the ropes, again and again and again. This leads to him being disqualified. The boredom on the faces of the seconds says it all. When the last bout is finished, a few grisly characters come up to the ring to shout their heads off. One says: 'You fucking poof' to the Nord in a way that makes me realise this is all good therapy: in one man's face I see real violence, and in another's madness - all of which is well let out at the Walthamstow Assembly Hall. And now, all the jeering, ice-cream and crisp crowds are gone, the chairs are stacked in a corner and the ring is taken down. The corners, I notice, are made of very soft foam and the floor is extremely well-padded. The age of illusion. In a few minutes, there will be no evidence left of the crowds and the fight and the shouting.
Friday 30 May, Amsterdam
THE FESTIVAL OF FOOLS
Here are the people fully committed to fringe theatre: the clowns, the absurd, the experimental, the cheap, the boring and the over-zealous. I shouldn't have returned this year, when nothing could be as fresh or as exciting as it was the first time round. There are differences, though. This year the festival has taken over a port area, and enormous warehouses have been painstakingly converted into theatres of various types. The organisation is immense and easily faulted (all the literature is in Dutch, for example, yet throughout the entire opening ceremony not no performer spoke any Dutch) but it has all come together remarkably smoothly.
At least most of the introspection has gone for a few days. I relax into a campers' holiday with Rosy, Andrew and Jason. I do not leave the Festival of Fools site for I will not be able to get back in. I reside permanently in the van behind the round portable Mirror Bar. The first day we crept in on false pretenses: Rosy sucked up for a card as a solo performer and then drove the van in, with Andrew hidden beneath the blankets. Jason plays, reads, asks questions, smiles. Andrew talks about his past, Rosy about her future, and me, well, I stay fairly low, coming and going, happy to talk to Tessa or Chihane or Bradford. D is here, but who the hell cares! except I think of my duvet and velvet curtain she still has. Pam is here too. But, I'm sure I'm as dim and distant a memory to her as to D. My confidence remains low. I feel small and lost, a thousand nautical miles away from ever falling in love again.
The People Show are sad. A giant warehouse, prepared for their Show 94, burnt down. Chihane rescues Jay from the river who is then taken to a mental hospital. George wanders around all day, hand in hand with his Goldilock daughter. Mark stares into the bottom of his coffee cup. Emil's eyes darken with the shadow of his beard. Jose, completely naked, steals a beer dispensing machine and pushes it across the yard at two in the morning.
I feel alone, unconnected. Who'd be a fool among fools?
In an early diary, I read of my adventures in Chile and the unfolding of my relationship with N. How ugly and naive I was then; and, by extrapolation, probably am now too. Tomorrow, I go to see N. Only my diaries tell me how important she was to me, and how strong our relationship was.
As I walk through Vondel Park, I am aware of possibly half-a-dozen pickpockets hanging around the busking musicians in the park. They are all coloured and adolescent. One of them holds a stick, stripped of its bark it is shiny white. Every time I look at these kids I notice the stick is being held by a different boy. I wonder if they use it for some kind of signal. I am not sure how many there are but I spot at least four with bicycles and another three. I feel smug having spotted the pickpockets. Suddenly, from nowhere, I am hassled by an adolescent. Do I want to buy some hash, very good stuff? I say no, but the boy insists and insists, pressing me beyond normal behaviour. I clutch my shoulder bag tight to me, for the boy is very close. As I walk away, something makes me turn my head. A black boy on a bicycle trails right by my side, he smiles. I look beyond the smiling boy, and see another boy is also on the same bicycle and he actually has his hand in my shoulder bag. I take a swipe and then explode with anger. Then I realise I am being followed by six or seven kids, some on bikes. I am aware of my fear and how it shows; my blows against the pickpocket are not confident, and I stop. The two on the bike stop hitting me back, but they carry on snarling. I am walking away when a third boy - he is holding the white stick - comes to walk by my side. Adrenalin races through my body. He asks me why I hit his brother. Because he had his hand in my shoulder bag, I say. He says, so what, and continues trying to talk to me. But he finds it hard to keep the conversation going. I slowly reclaim my cool and answer each question more clearly. The gang follows, still surrounding the two of us. Then, having been concentrating on the conversation, I suddenly realise he is guiding our walk by lightly pressing his shoulder against mine. I fear they will all jump on me and there will be nothing I or anyone else can do about it. My companion tells me he and his friends all have guns. He says he is the controller of the park. I become cooler and cooler. I say if he really wants to discuss why I hit his brother he should come and meet my friends. I start making sharply towards an open cafe where I can see lots of people. But I am still aware of how defenceless I am. Our shoulders are still touching: I am trying to walk one way to the cafe, he is trying to press me another way. I tell him I will start shouting. He tries harder to get me to walk in a particular direction. I will not. Finally, I shout out loud: 'I'm going this way'. He loses his temper, and, as I stride away, slams the white cane across my head. My ear stings. At the cafe, I deposit myself at a table with the most sympathetic looking couple, and breathe a sigh of relief.
Paul K Lyons
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