PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1981 - JULY
3 July 1981
The criminal has been caught. My run of luck has come to an end. In one week the police have nabbed me twice. The British Rail bastards caught me cheating on season tickets (but only because I was so angry at the ticket counter queues in Victoria station). And then the Park Police snatched me flying through some changing lights. A senior cop was showing a junior how to book an offender - he was flashing power - but it was such a tiny offence. The two of them even had their pads out before they'd stopped me. The junior was trying to be clever with questions and impress his senior. I felt like a machine that one man was showing another man how to operate. I acted bored, polite, humble, and even dictated a statement after they'd booked me, which they both wrote down in such neat handwriting like a couple of puppets. I occupied them for the best part of half an hour. What a thief I am.
Ann. Waking this morning to sunlight spread across the white bed after a night of chocolate making and cross-examination. I feel the need to shed a few tears for her or us. No simple life for this lad. It's as if I deliberately choose difficult women as a cross I must bear to pleasure and pain.
Bel came: she confided in me about Marcus, the boy next door with whom she has made love. Now, she explains, she cannot feel sexual towards me because she must be faithful to him.
Thursday 9 July
In this empty office the air conditioning hums nonchalantly away past caring, no evidence here of the past five nights which have seen violence on streets in the tense backwaters of our major cities, no evidence of the fire that raged through Clapham Junction station last evening. The breakdown of law and order is more than dangerous for the damage that is caused, it allows the government to act more strongly, and this in turn leads marginals to believe the government is the direct cause of the riots. Will we see the net tighten even more? Will we see the freedom of the press curtailed? Will revolt follow revolt? Fortunately, no organisation has the resources to combat our armed forces or the police. The riots are like blisters that pop; many of those individuals who got carried away in fighting the police might have been shocked afterwards at their own actions.
Harold perspires in the New York heat awaiting a return flight to Europe. Marielle is in Scotland burying her mother. Rosina came last week to cook cake, but Ann bundled in late at night. Sooz has gone to Spain with her parents. Gail has had his hair cut for an interview. Patrick and I went to sigh at the grandeur of Excalibur as directed and produced by Boorman. There we met Ken. How odd that he - who has an exterior of such ease and social competence - goes to the cinema alone.
Sunday 12 July 1981
I listen to the World Service news. A dough is oven bound. London still trembles in contemplation of the riots.
14 July 1981
To Bel: Still in beauty you simplify my complications, never let me complify your simplications. Tis little love I can give but tis love.
Here's a poser, here's a risk: I've nosed into Gale's diary and discovered his weakness - how he dreams still to be a famous dancer. Should he nose into here, he'll know but won't be able to let me know he knows without letting me know he noses too.
Ann didn't want me to see her. And we fought hard. And she won. I became moody
Like old times, those Saturdays that seem one long interminable breakfast, Harold dressing and undressing in dressing gowns and skirts with Patrick and Rosina looking on adoringly. The difference between us, though, has become more marked, as his stories and dreams grate increasingly on my realities: immediate visuals become his realm, impressions and false assumptions, schemes and plans, pies in the sky. Still like a boy in a new playroom. I am glad Patrick is here, they have similar things to talk of: the Mastery, audition pieces. One moment they sat around slanging Angelique (the producer of 'The Balcony'). I told them they were like two blind sailors in a dinghy - at least Angelique is getting a company together, I said, while you two sit around and talk. Now they lie around the kitchen floor sleeping off a night of mutual support. I am facetious, too much so. I keep clambering onto a podium and spouting off my theories of how it all should be. It really is far more difficult with Harold now. I am less able to cope with his quirks, and he cannot understand why. He stays with the white face and bright lights, while I sink into writer's cramp for a year or three.
The riots seem to be calming down, difficult to know how bad it really was at the peak. I think that, after the initial eruptions, the subsequent flare-ups were provoked by the media. But here we are in England, preserving an image of a quiet and rural country, yet in most major industrial cities there has been widespread rioting and looting, and round the corner, in Northern Ireland, war continues as a permanent feature. Meanwhile, the Social Democrats come very near to a landslide victory at a by-election, giving great hope to the new party. But, under the terms of the Alliance, it is for the Liberals to put up a candidate at the next election, even though the SDs would like to put forward Shirley Williams following this success.
In trying to write reviews for Performance of 'The Balcony' and for 'Decadence' I trip up against my own inabilities, my lack of skill, lack of brain power to do the work that needs to be done - confusion rears up there as I try and sort out what it is I want to say and what I should say. Ann brushes her red hair behind, constantly disturbing, yet I would not have her not here. The weather is dull grey. I am old and gone.
July draws to a close in a few days, the air is warm, I rarely need a jacket or a jumper. Sometimes I ride through midnight streets to Ann's, loving and adoring the warm summer wind rushing past me, with the sensation of speed, the thought occurs to me to buy a motorbike. What is it about speed and wind - standing on deck of a ship, skiing down a mountain slope, exiting from a stuffy party to a garden, the arrival of an evening breeze on a hot sultry day? What is it about wind?
Alone for a few minutes here in the IPC restaurant, The Garden. My lips tingle after a mushy vegetable curry. Last night I fled from 21 Iverson Road. It was crowded with Harold's mess and lots of persons everywhere. Nice to have had H for a few days, but he does fill the flat with his slothful ways.
I have to finish this diary before these last two pages drive me totally scatty. I forget things as days drift into weeks, history becomes a fuzz, I read newspapers and don't remember what I read, ideas come and disappear moments later. I don't write. Life is just an inactive blur. Yesterday, for the first time in yonks, I stopped to think. It was only for a few minutes but it knocked me. I tried to distinguish the days and nights of the past week and found it almost impossible. I walked slowly from place to place. I noticed how congested the Edgware Road really was. All those cars and people and noises and lights. I saw the reality of it for a moment. With amazement I digested the scene of so many humans interacting in so many different ways.
I keep thinking of ants, because of Hofstader's 'Ant Fugue'. I tend to relate everything to evolution when I get time to think. On the train this morning, I tried to imagine what the world would be like if trees developed minds in all of their leaves. I couldn't conceive of a thinking tree in terms of evolutionary development - humans from animals from fish OK, but trees seemed like the limit of one branch of the evolutionary trail. Then I thought of the Venus Fly Trap and realised that this was a development. But how in Darwin's name did it ever evolve? The library wouldn't tell me.
If the earth is just an atom of another being living on a completely different spatial scale why aren't we subject to irregular movements. I mean, if it was an atom of a superbeing the size of a universe would we feel it if he were going for a jog or screwing another universe?
Hofstader talks of different levels of perception and how the mind copes with it or doesn't as the case may be. He also explains how we don't have a language to even talk about it properly.
How can I tie up my continuing dissatisfactions at the world around me, with my fascinations for the grander worlds of politics, sociology and evolution etc. Do I really become more confused and less enlightened. The answer surely lies in man's ability to normalise everything.
Cycling across Vauxhall Bridge two things happened. I'm sure many things have happened as I've crossed bridges all my life, but this time I've remembered them to the point of writing. (So long as long as Angela, the pretty drama student-cum-temp taking Julia's position this week, doesn't offer me a fuck in the photocopy room, or Peter doesn't have me ringing Hans for news on the plastics market, or Lynn doesn't make me scout around for leads, or Mike doesn't ruin my day with obnoxious sarcasm about my dress or my showering or whatever . . . none of these are occurring, and it is after 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon.) The first thought was of a memory of the canal area on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. I think it was called Miraflores. I recall the waters busy with barges, restaurants to the water's edge lit with coloured bulb, arched bridges, mosquitos, warm airs. As a consequence, I decided it was time to write to Mayco. Then I saw an adolescent walking along the pavement, looking out across the grey river. His appearance was similar to a skinhead, grey scruffy jacket and trousers, check shirt, trilbyish hat and big shoes. As I neared him, he, in one swift movement, snatched his hat from his head and skimmed it over the bridge side. He committed the action without the slightest flicker of emotion. It was almost as though it were a habit, and he'd been doing it for years, throwing his hat into the river every time he crossed the bridge.
A dinner with Vonny was strangely self-conscious. She kedgereed some rice, I flambeed some bananas. We talked of regular topics, work and friends and films.
DIARY 17: July - October 1981
28 July 1981
Such a simple trick to start a new book - don't begin on the first page. So here I am not beginning on the first page. I am in the cold musty red brick Christchurch. I do not think my old and tiny friend is here. I have come to see her, because the very sight of her frail body and dedication brings me down to earth with the safest of bumps. The weather outside is warm and summery, presumably by royal command, or if not then by the laws of convection arising out of the crowds of people struck with wedding fever. But here in the church the coolness goes on forever. Religion helps chill the generations, helps keep order and denies the chaos. At least here is a beginning. I am in a tither. What shall I do with my days off, only a few more hours and I'm off for five days. No role playing, no statistics checking, no ugly word manipulation, no Mufax, no Mike witticisms, no Steve facetious remarks, no Julia's banal smile, no Lynn's 'Ahs'. There is some sweet scent amidst the mustiness and some squeaks amidst the silence. Look how the prayer and hymn books line themselves in files of dark red and blue. What pure fingers have grimed them all I wonder. It is so crazy that this whole building in which I sit, all its belongings, all the work, all the people involved, are all a lie, a false reality. Oh God what a power you are to create all this and not even exist. I keep returning to this time and time again, for it never ceases to amaze me.
Paul K Lyons
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