PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1981 - JANUARY
6 January 1981
1980 was the year that I lost control of my own destiny. I lost all will to do anything at all. I accepted that I was not capable of becoming the person that I had dreamt I would be. Realities hit me like punches in the face. It became difficult to smile at strangers and to stand erect on two feet and say I am Paul and I am the god of the Paul. I lost all confidence. I became small and insignificant. Marielle blamed it on Pluto, Rosy became careful in what she said to me. Harold continued to support me, Rosina wept with me. The flat in Leyton nearly destroyed me. Although it sounds melodramatic, survival was the keyword for the year. I had no job, no responsibility, no work, and was not obliged into doing anything. The year jerked by in more misery than I can remember. There were two positives: at the beginning of the year I stopped smoking; and, in July, I moved out of Leyton to Iverson Road. The fits of depression stopped after the move, and, although I still wept on occasions, in general I kept on top of things. For weeks I kept busy redecorating. I invited Peter K to move in with me, but it soon became clear that our lifestyles were so different that we found little pleasure living with each other.
I began to read Jane Austen and discovered Bel. I spent a very lovely time with Flavia. I met up with Jan a couple of times during Paris excursions. Love was reserved for memories, hopes and mirrors, although I did also become vaguely attracted to three attached women: Vonny, Annabel and Ros. I explored some elements of journalism with David Paul, and I became addicted to placing advertisements: Researcher, writer, journalist. Do you need a non-secretarial assistant? Paul Lyons 328 7566
And of course I wrote some stories. What was seeded in Corsica, flourished in London, i.e. inability. But what else was I supposed to do with my time during the year. Had I other things to do I probably would not have written: 'The Nightmare', 'Don Juan', 'The Fallible Wife', 'The Friendship', 'The Shepherd', 'Meeting in Alicante', 'The Coming of Blindness', 'The Face of Annamieke', 'Valerie's Young Life', 'Martha Cramer', 'Sunshine', 'Yorick's Story', 'Lillian Beecham', 'The High Street Flyer', 'The Brittle Rhapsody of Silence on a Winter Beach', 'Eddy's Eggies' and 'The Vegetable Auction' (the last three being radio plays). If I learned anything it was how hard the art of writing is. I rarely spent more than two or three hours a day doing IT. I reassured myself that one had to practice.
The year finished in a flourish of social activity, either to make up for the lack in 1980 or to prepare me for a lack in 1981.
Leah lay stiff and tense in my bed giving nothing more than a minimal response to my unconfident touches. Words were a much safer medium. I thought I had enchanted her but she was not beautiful enough for me to ride her thin starched lips. Martha was here too but in Harold's bed. Her will to please was evident in plump hips and rosy cheeks, but she has anxiety-drenched eyes. Another visitor, Tal, rides storms upon the facts of life which she never learnt in youth. Only sex is clear as a complicated issue, she says. She thinks she ought to know which dragon breathes the gales.
'Mankind cannot bear too much reality.'
There was a review in 'The Observer' of a new book called 'The Evolution of Human Consciousness'. It is written by a clever experimental psychologist. I believe it comes to the same conclusions as I do. I must see it. The reviewer quotes: 'Total involvement to the exclusion of introspective self-evaluation is the modern psychologist's recipe for happiness.' And, he adds, it is amusing to note that this is a Victorian prescription. Isn't this what I've been saying for years. Self awareness is like a drug, alcohol or opium. It is an addiction and as such endangers mental health. I am a living proof to that theory. This last year and indeed during other periods of my life I've suffered from an unusual degree of self-awareness. Pain is accepted as abnormal and we do something about it, but about mental turmoil we know nothing. I have adapted to a certain amount of mental turmoil, pain, in the same way that people adapt to chronic physical pain. The evolution of human consciousness and all its implications I find utterly compelling.
Anxiety rises up at the interface between thought and reality.
It's not as if depression lifts
Quickly like gentlemen remove their hats in church
Or as fast as weather changes mood
Oh not this one of mine, more in line
With economic recessions and the old familiar ice age
Of course I bought a pick axe
And different coloured hot and hotter
But I had no money for the fleshier comforts
Not one person felt driven to donate
A warm heart
Friendly breasts and succulent thighs
It's not as if there's magic cures or potions
Friends sink into ancient eastern customs for a symbol
Students wail in frightful jargon once reserved for shrinks
And even the stately skilled professions of medicine and science
Haven't got a clue or half on how our matter ticks
Of course I've read their books
The classic ones
The ancient and the modern
Manuscripts, transcripts and
But neither Bond or Stoppard
Have a line
To tide me through the mire
Tuesday 20 January
I am reading about Keith Douglas, the Wilfred Owen of the Second World War. Patrick Kealey feels an affinity for him so I promised to look into the possibilities of writing a short one-man play. 1) I need to know what made the man tick; 2) I have to have an interesting plot to hold a show together.
In the British Library I've been reading 'Murder in Mayfair' written by my father, Frederic Goldsmith.
To Raoul and Vonny for dinner. Richard talked of Guatemala, and there was general conversation about the rain forests in Brazil. Once the trees are down, then the topsoil only lasts a couple of years. Raoul said he was concerned about Ludwig (who funds much cancer research around the world) and his experiments in the Amazon. These involve thousands of botanists trying to solve the topsoil problem. But there is an interesting ethical dilemma. Is it worth destroying the jungle and the lifestyle of the indians for the purpose of finding a cure for cancer? After all, the Brazilian government itself is destroying the jungle and commercialising the indians. Raoul says the exploitation by Ludwig is speeding up the process. Well maybe that's not such a high price, in this age's terms, to pay for a cure for cancer. I personally don't think this age has any valid terms. Vonny pulled her plates out of the kiln, to the praise of Rachel.
CARD TO RAOUL AND VONNY
I know I was a sinner To arrive like that for dinner But when there's curried melon I'll always be your felon
We all went to Heaven one night. Harold fell in love with Rupert Droop-it, and was badly let down the following day. Raoul and Vonny were smashing together, but didn't stay very long. The club felt very passé; we were a little out of place. I spent most of the night with Ros, talking and dancing. Apparently, her cousin, Jane Stockwell, and I have met several times before our recent acquaintance, but neither of us recognised each other from the past; it was only when Jane saw and recognised Harold that we twigged. What an impression I had made! When I was still living in Fordwych Road I met them both, and when they said they were moving soon, I followed up the possibility - without result - of taking over their flat.
22 January 1981
My local greengrocer has three regular servers. They are all middle-aged and appear devoid of humour. I am unsure if there is any hierarchy among them, but two of them seem to tell the third one what not to do. Yesterday, a young bearded Indian stood around the displays taking notes. He said he was setting up a shop and wanted to know how much to charge. The three assistants halted their serving to watch him, not believing he could possess so much cheek. He continued taking notes and then entered the shop with a broad smile. Now they really began to stare at the man. Finally one of them, with apples in hand, approached the Indian: 'You don't do that mate.' The Indian continued smiling. I saw in the smile a naive belief in English fairness: this was England and all English people are generous and kind. He stood still as all three of the servers converged on him, ready to bundle him out of the shop. The Indian attempted to argue. He asked what was wrong, but all the three could think to say was: 'It just ain't done.' I think the roots of their hostility could be found in a complex mix of working class racism and marketplace survival instincts.
24 January 1981
I go down the hallway steps in this house (I live on the first floor) to the front door. On opening it I find the corpse of a well dressed chinese businessman. I can see where he has been stabbed in the centre of the chest. I run upstairs to tell the others that there is a corpse on our doorstep. Nobody takes any notice. I go back downstairs and find the corpse has moved, but I am sure it's dead. And then the strangest thing happens. The corpse has a series of epileptic fits in which it not only diminishes in form but changes back and forth between a doll and a human and at each stage of the fit it also changes appearance: the doll becomes more of a rag doll. Finally just a tiny doll lies on the tarmac. I am totally astonished and stand in amazement at the impossibility of what I have just seen. I look around and thankfully there is another observer, she might be foreign and not speak English but at least she saw what I saw. I dare not touch the doll. It is in the road and I am scared that a car will run over it. Indeed one car drives right up to it and stops for a moment. I go to tell the driver to reverse before it continues but the driver gets angry so I stand in front of the car. There is a definite feeling that the doll might be alive. I find a piece of carpet and roll the doll into it. I leave the piece of rolled carpet in the gutter.
I spent Friday reading Keith Douglas.
Atishme, atishme, atishme I all fell down last night. Rejected. Alone by 11 o'clock at night with the enormous expanse of an empty Sunday before me. I put too much hope on single meetings, so when they fail, it's like I'm crushed and suffocated. I imagined planing myself with one of those planes that look like a cheese grater, thinking I must smooth myself down, blunt out the nasty projections of my character. I so wanted someone to hold and touch. I so want someone to hold and touch. She smiled so sweetly, I thought she might be the one. Although I have no real evidence that she decided against an attachment to me, I felt it all night and all morning. I felt she had discovered enough about me not to want to get involved.
Paul K Lyons
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