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Diaries
of
PAUL K LYONS

1981

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JOURNAL - 1981 - NOVEMBER

Sunday 1 November, Rhodes

This morning Liesl caused a commotion by attempting to borrow a pot in which to cook spaghetti. The madam of the hotel, who doesn't speak any English, had to bring a friend into the discussion. She made it clear that Liesl would have to pay more to use the humble kitchen for cooking (rather than just for snacks). Liesl lacks charm however much her name tinkles off the tongue. I did only invite her to the hotel with sex in mind, let's be honest, but she's proved to be a bore. Was I ever like that in my early travelling days - oblivious to currents moving around me, immovable in thought and direction, insensitive? I wonder, too, if innocence made me brave. I find myself less courageous now than ever before - and more easily frightened. Knowledge is no route to happiness, and it also destroys courage. How irrelevant my travels were/are. I was telling this to Allison last night when she seemed to glow on hearing my stories. We lay together on the beach, snuggled up in a sleeping bags staring at the sky dense with stars. A few kisses fumbled - the preliminaries are always so precarious - towards a one night fling, perhaps. Perhaps, we will make salty love today and wash wounds with silly words. It was a bit naughty to ask both girls to sleep with me. Harold, meanwhile, came to life for a few hours in the company of a local playboy. His stories of record contracts and theatre bookings caused H to try and match his achievements - one for one.

Monday

AMBER

Amber with anger today, all day, with Harold. He's done it again, managed to ruin the day through a complete disrespect for Time. Does he really believe that boats, trains, people will wait for him indefinitely? The plans were laid, discussed and agreed, to Tilos we would go. Quiet excitement and expectancy of the journey helped flavour the days in Lindos. I thought the boat left Rhodes at 9am so I'd prepared Harold to rise early. In fact, the boat left at 11am and we still missed it. Given the tiring, fruitless day I've had trailing behind him, with reversed roles in effect, I wish I'd gone on alone. Perhaps if I'd been red with anger the resentment would have lasted less time than a day. Such are my punishments. But he is so stupid at times. For the sake of writing one postcard, we found ourselves short of time to find the boat, the location of which we didn't even know. And then, for the sake of posting the card, we missed it. This despite my pleading arguments last night to check from whence it sailed. There isn't another boat now until Wednesday and that leaves at 7am. This will leave an odd day, at either end of the trip, hanging loose. So, Harold dragged me hitching down the west coast of Rhodes, and we ended up having to walk 5km to the ancient site of Kaminos. By the time we got there, the sun was heading for a restful sleep but still cast an amber light across the pine trees that lined the route. And, once we had arrived at the well-hidden ruins and walked to the temple top, the sun had hidden its eye below the hills leaving only a trailing amber glow along the mountainous horizon line. And amber is the colour of the beads they fiddle god with. And amber is the colour of the whitewash they paint some of the old city walls with, drenching them with colour in the same way that skin is stained with brilliant red medicament when cut or wounded sorely. And amber is the colour of Allison's hair, her skin, her sex: her hair bleached amber by a summer's worth of sun, her once white skin tanned amber from so many hours working in orange groves and vineyards, and her sex covered in radiant amber as she lies still and tranquil on the cove's sandy beach. For a whole day I desired her. How could I not? So naked so vulnerable - the body, the time, the place. But, after hesitant touches and direct words I had to splash my desire into the sea's magnificent all-embracing cavities.

Tuesday

We missed the last bus from Lindos, so we hitched a ride on the back of a truck part of the way. Now, I lie on the tarmac staring at space, the changing cloud, the shooting star, the crescent horned moon. In moments, I lapse into depression, but the sheer holiday of it all wins me over soon enough. I share some theories about evolution with Harold as we wait for a lift back to Rhodes. He practices his voice,

The early morning bakers produce not only cheese pasties I've discovered but apple ones too, and they are as good as any apple strudel. A delight at 7.30 am with Nescafe. We sit in the cafe surrounded by Greek workers, mostly builders I suppose. Neither baker-the-son nor baker-the-father are liberal with their smiles but this morning I saw the old man's wrinkled face, form itself - ever so slightly - into a mild presentation of glee: a triped scooter had arrived, its back laden with crates of tomatoes, and he had to choose which one to buy.

Now, again, as I lay naked beneath the midday sun desperate for every patch of skin to feel its healing power, the amber beauty is here to fuel my desire. It peeves me somewhat to know she's chosen the playboy, Oliver - brash, loud, rather clever, overtly public school. At least Harold's a match for him when it comes to talking. But, still, he got his hands on that amber patch, not I, and I wonder why, I wonder why.

The art of fantasy, the fantasy of art. Question: why do we put up with each other? Answer: because we're good friends. That's good. I give and you take. You give and I'm taken in.

Wednesday, Livadia, Tilos

WIND

The name Livadia sounds better than the place looks. The overpowering sensation in this tiny village on the isle of Tilos is that of wind. A continuous blow comes in off the sea unbalancing my walk and chapping my face. The sea roughs in onto the stony beach, the few boats moored to the harbour swing and rock, and halyards chinkle against masts, the music floats across to the village. We fear that, because of the wind, mosquitoes will take refuge in our cottage room for the windows are without glass and the shutters are more hole than wood. We've already seen huge spiders, lizards and cockroaches. But Yasmine and Peter, who will sleep in the room next to us, have offered us mosquito coils. Yasmine and Peter. They are both young, blond and pretty, and they come from Harrow on the Hill. Wind cools the night very fast indeed as the last edges of light slip away from the village square. Leaves rustle this way and that, cats criss and cross in search of some elusive play thing.

Friday

I didn't finish about writing about wind, but two days have passed.

Everything here happens in ones, and happens tranquilly. I see one butterfly, one lizard, one sheep, two goats, one snail, single robins. The characters, too, are unique. At times I think I am walking through a Fellini movie. There is the old man fishing from the harbour with his 10ft stick and wire. He places a small sardine on the hook and floats it just below the surface of the water. His hand has a chronic jerk, but this gives the bait a shivering movement that attracts the foot-long swordfish-type creatures that move like eels. Within three minutes he has caught two such fish. He is fishing this morning because we have ordered fish for supper, but also, perhaps, because the sea is calm and clear; there is no wind to rake up, waver, stir the sand and stones and weeds. Others are fishing also. Two young men are in a row boat with another smaller boat attached. Another is with snorkel and harpoon. From one of the dockside bollards a single line stretches out with float and hook, baited for a larger catch. A man passes in front of me, he is carrying a bag of squid. As I approach the little harbour at the other end of the beach I see a man repeatedly banging something against the ground. It is an octopus he has just caught. He slaps it to the ground maybe 50 times and only stops when I interrupt to tell him I see a second octopus in the water. It slides from one rock to another and changes colour chameleon-like to blend in perfectly with the new rock's mottled-coloured tones. The man baits a line and drops it to the side of the octopus, a small flurry of black midgets scatter, but the eight-legged creature goes for the bait with one tentacle - and is caught. He is dragged up onto the concrete pier, writhing for his life. The fisherman stabs the bulbous head with a large knife, all the tentacles lash out at the knife but the octopus cannot save itself. The knife goes in two or three times, then the creature is slapped to the ground hard for several minutes (although for the first few times, this is difficult because the creature's tentacle suckers stick to the ground doggedly). Then the man turns the octopus's head inside out, and removes the ink pod and brains. Again he slaps it against the concrete, some 50 times, until it hasn't a wriggle or ounce of life left in him.

A small monument stands in the village square. It is in memory of three children killed by a bomb in the last war. It's made from plaster of a brilliant white, and depicts three cherubs climbing up a column towards a bird bath. But a third of the flat bowl has broken off. Also, around the village, there are white plaster swans, but don't ask me why.

In the square sits a cigarette seller. He/she could be of either sex, although her face, which is old and wrinkled, is vaguely more female than male. She is short and fat and twaddles. Her hair is thin and short. She wears the same dirty jumper and trousers every day. She talks with a squeaky voice. Her wooden box, which contains various brands of cigarettes, rests on a bench. She spends all day in the square, sitting and staring, but I don't think she qualifies for the village idiot. That title should go to Athene, she who led us to Maria's house, where we are lodged. She looks sly but wears a gleeful smile on her head which is half-cocked on a match-stick body. She has legs like hairy poles, and she moves like a puppet. Some of the old people are immaculate portraits of themselves. The women hunch, under four foot tall, in black dress with white scarves on their heads. Their faces are wrinkled, like old orange peel, with features, relics of another century. Some of the old men have the same hand judder I saw in the fisherman.

Saturday just after dawn

The sky is filled with clouds, some of them mauve, and the sea has a red ink tint. It is the first time I have seen clouds on this island. They look to carry some rain. It is unfortunate that some Frenchmen we met will not take us on their yacht to Rhodes. They say the boat is only insured for the five of them.

Angelo has adopted us, or we him. He is young and handsome and in the army. He says he is about to go to Japan (Tilos to Japan!). We don't know why he is here or what he is doing, as he sits with us all day long. I do not quite trust him, he seems to understand more English than he lets on, and plays backgammon better when helping someone than when playing alone. But there is little value in my suspicions; Kate and Tim are happy to have him accompany them, and Harold is charmed by him.

There is no boat until Monday or Tuesday night. I admitted to boredom yesterday, but the peace of the place is beyond value. Walking up into the hills and high above the bays, there is only the sound of goats scattering or the distant hum of a single fishing boat far, far away. The sun strikes the body, the feet tread the earth, the eyes see silently, the nose smells the plucked crushed herbs.

Last night in one of the bars, there was a whole crowd of people, but, nevertheless, I noticed Kate who was moving her hands around in a highly stylised manner, and a young well-dressed man was responding. It turns out that Kate's mother is deaf and so she knows how to sign, and that man she was talking to was a deaf mute. We might never have known otherwise, for, although he is a shepherd or goat herd, he looks more intelligent than the average islander. The others joke with him incessantly, but he manages to hold his own and remains cool. In fact he teases as much as he takes. A sensitive and composed man, he actually picks things up very well, even from the crudest of hand movements. The only sound he makes resembles a cross between a squeal and a grunt, and this emerges either in laughter or when he tries to attract attention. He seemed very pleased to communicate with us.

Harold says Tim talks in platitudes. But what annoys me most about him is his overflowing pride at managing to screw the state benefit system. I am more interested in Kate, or Yasmine as she prefers to be called, and Peter. They have been together for three years, and are, apparently, very much in love. They are both good looking, and, at first glance, it is easy to be a little envious of the handsome, if slightly bland, couple. But, as the days pass, so I find out more about them. There is Kate's deaf mother, for example, who has never been able to speak properly. (Does that explain why Kate speaks so perfectly herself with a classless accent?) But then also she admits that three years ago she was 13 stone. She has a fine figure, now, but having been overweight she's left with stretch marks on her body. When I asked her if she was conscious of getting fat, she said she had made excuses to herself all the time, had hidden the truth from herself. Meanwhile, Peter, it seems, is dyslexic thanks to a hormone disorder. He has small gonads, overlong bones and an inability with language: he can neither read nor write very well. He was caned and teased at school and got bad reports but it was only once he left school that the hormone disorder was discovered. Now he is quite unashamed, and talks freely about it. The disease, he said, will almost certainly have left him sterile. He doesn't know for sure yet, he told us, because, when he went in for a test, his sample was left on a radiator and was ruined. Beneath the surface, not such a perfect couple and life. And now they are breaking up. Yasmine wants out of the sexual commitment and would prefer to be friends. Peter doesn't agree. I felt their openness and lack of irrelevant complexity put Harold and I to shame.

Is this deserted village called Mikrohorchio? It nestles comfortably on the hill-side just out of view of Livadia, a mile away, but with fine sights of the sea. There are over 100 roofless cottages, and just five (a on a church, two chapels and two houses) still in tact. According to my guide book, the village was deserted 35 years ago, but no reason is given. Only goats and sheep inhabit these crumbling walls now. I did, though, catch two old crumpled women leaving the church. I slid in silently after they had left. The whitewashed interior, though quite dark, was filled with incense and smoke from wicks afloat and burning in oil pools. Rays of sunlight streamed in through small windows. Several painted wooden panels made up a false wall at the front end of the small chapel. In each panel the holy figure carried a band of tarnished silver metal for a halo, though in the other paintings the halo was usually gold. Candle and incense holders made of the same silver-coloured metal were suspended at various heights from the ceiling, and the room was lined with pews of a stand-up, sit-down variety I'd not seen before (most of the seat planks having long since disappeared). To one side, there was a beautiful seat, quite throne-like, with crude yet ornately carved trimmings, painted in bright-coloured geometric patterns. The church reminded me much of other primitive religious places I've encountered elsewhere in the world. The two smaller chapels contained icons and some frescoes crumbling fast with the rotting plasterwork. Some pictures were of faceless crusaders, others of apostles and yet others of uniformed persons with faces emerging from their sleeves. There was also one of a human body dressed with a donkey's head. Heathen or what! One of the paintings, though blackened from years of candle soot, had clean faces about it, presumably kept so by the two old women. Such a pleasure to discover these places - unexpected treasures in a ghost town. In the village I was able to identify at least two olive presses, dozens of bread ovens, and wells. A few earthenware urns lay scattered among the ruins, but I couldn't find the old printing press reported to be lying around somewhere.

Sunday

The cigarette seller, Stephanis, I discover is a hermaphrodite. Today she is dressed in his Sunday best, trousers, shirt and jacket. But she is without hair on her old face, and a fat belly hides the shape of any breasts. Because of the rain, she shelters with her box in a doorway. I also learn that she has been refused a license to sell matches and permission to open a little cigarette shop (which is why she has to hawk around the square).

I imagine a story based on an invented myth. The legend has it that just as lightning gives blindness so it can cure it. In this small village, it is said, the blind boy is blind because lightning killed or wounded his mother, although no-one in the village can remember the specific incident. The blind boy strikes up a friendship with someone, I imagine, like Stephanis, and their relationship blossoms outside of the normal routines of courtship, marriage and family, and remains a secret from everyone else in the village. Sometimes, Stephanis comes back from a walk in the mountains and describes an adventure to the blind boy, it is a grand adventure, of a combat with a huge snake, an excursion into the valley of a thousand butterflies, or an underwater fight with a shark. The blind boy listens fascinated. So keen is he on these stories that Stephanis promises him that, one day, he will be able to see everything for himself. To this end, she takes him for walks in bad weather, hoping for him to be struck by lightning. One day, after many years, it happens. the blind man is cured of his blindness, but Stephanis dies. But the blind man finds world a dull and boring place without Stephanis and his colourful stories.

Monday

Winds and rains have been lashing the island and we fear the ferries will be delayed. That could be disastrous for four of us with charter plane tickets. We never expected to be here so long. Lindos seems like paradise compared to this poor place. With the high winds and rains came problems. Firstly, all the boats had to be removed to a safer harbour. When water began seeping under the windows of the harbour bar, the silver-haired grandfather (a granddaughter was born yesterday and he offered free fritters to every table) got panicky. He came at us with a mop! And then, when water began to pour off the roof, he worried about his deep freeze standing there. So, with ropes and a dozen men he moved the freezer from outside to inside through a door only just wider than the appliance. Such screaming and shouting, far too many cooks! The street by the bar flooded and a barman could be seen plunging at a drain with a stick. Most of the streets have rifts of red earth left by the running water. The rains also brought frogs and snails out to play, and they took earth out to the sea, silting it in an arc of brown.

When the rain stops, we all take a periodic look outside to see what clouds are still hovering above the hills. Now, late in the afternoon, the weather has settled and we sit around waiting for a boat called The Panormitis which will carry six of the strangers on this island to Kos.

On my walk yesterday I fell among the gods of thunder and lightning. As if naked my skin was wet through to the bones. I ran glancing from rock to boulder to stone down the mountainside to a dark red sandy beach. There I hid from the onslaught of rains and the terrible thunder in a cave, and watched the sea roll in towards me in ever increasing surges. I experienced the wonderful sensation of completeness. Then I noticed the rocks above my head were cracked and, not wanting a ton of rich red earth on my head, I got out, and continued my walk through rain and thunder, alive and very well. The rain released pungent herb smells - mainly oregano I guess - from the bushes. Because the thunder came so quickly and cracked in all the air surrounding me, I became afraid the lightning would touch me.

Tuesday

All night I dreamed of delayed boats and planes and missing boats and planes. Such a restless night. A beautiful woman featured too, it was Ann in name only. She was small with short blond hair. I'll recognise her when I see her.

Games of backgammon are decided in units of evenings, which consist of three sets of three games. And last night we decided two evenings, winning one each. I win because I'm better at mathematics, he wins because he concentrates better.

Today we hope to leave this island that has slowly transformed itself for us from peaceful paradise to prosaic prison. The Miaolis, which was due in at 10am, is not now expected until 5-6pm, so again we have another entire day at our disposal. Yesterday, it was amazing to see the arrival of The Panormitis (heading away from Rhodes, not to it). It seemed like every car on the island and half its population was drawn like a magnet to the harbour.

14 November, London

This is London almost one week on. The Miaolis was an hour or two late and it caught Harold and I still playing backgammon. The ship's horn sounding sent us into a flurry of activity, spurred by excitement. We had to run to pack. But that was the best way to leave the lazy island. When the small round brown captain was not occupied in manoeuvring his ship in and out of bays he played Taulies, but when he was he didn't and we did. And we drank whisky and wondered at the steep steps of Simi. Nothing much had changed in Rhodes, a few more shops and bars had closed for the winter. The hibiscus and bougainvillaea flowers still shone in clusters everywhere in the old stone walls. On the flight back I saw the setting sun dabble at art in a way only stars can.

DIARY 17 continued: November 1981 - December 1981

18 November

To Ann: That hurt the thinking elf; made small the smarting self. But subtleties revealed reveal an irony to give, a laugh, a smile, a tear, a fuck you; and a thank you; and a, I will miss you for the while; such is love.

These are dark pages. I am suffering this morning with storms of tears barricaded behind my eyes by the office walls. Such drama I seem to be making of my own mental anguish. Both Ann and Harold called me dramatic yesterday. But there is a manic state only heightening it all. The mirrored toilets here reveal me all in red, I see myself crying red tears. Ann didn't want me to stay after my impromptu visit last night, and that really hurt, a sort of final rejection. Perhaps it's what I was looking for, I don't know, and I fell into an awful confusion again. So many things she has said and done now strike me as string pulls, as though I have been an easy puppet. I see certain subtleties that had partially escaped me until now. I see her as a tease and manipulator, but not a bad one, it's just how she is in response to a certain kind of male. Cycling home I was hurt, bitter, angry; plans raced through my head, plans for revenge, to get her back, to make her feel sorry etc. - all the normal symptoms, but they gave way to a deeper understanding. How much of what I think and say is conjecture, exaggeration, projection I don't know, but, as usual, it is necessary to record as relief and autobiography.

How dark this church is today. How oppressive I feel it and all. On Sunday I returned from Brighton and smoked a joint, but it sent me to another universe. One where my beliefs started to crack up and I began to see everything with a different perspective. I saw religions as escapes created deliberately by wise men. I saw the current growth in mind mechanisms etc. as escape hatches out of the awareness whirlpool, and psychoenergetics as brain reducing mechanisms. I saw my own beliefs as just another protective system, created when I gave up religion. Religion, drink, drugs etc, I'm all too aware that they are escapes. Why do I whip myself? What is the point of all this self-recrimination and self-pity. The more I wallow then the more I must wallow.

Jackie just said I had tip-toed in. I replied that I tip-toe everywhere these days.

He picks his way with gun and lens and bible
The militant enquirer
The friend, the rash, the essayist
The able
Able at times to cry
(W H Auden)

Thursday 19 November

Talk in a wine bar about the smelly movies. I'd never heard of them, but apparently movie-goers are given cards and told to scratch them at certain moments. It sounds like science fiction. The smellies. It'll never catch on.

THREE IMAGES

1) Watering the saucers in which my plants stand I sometimes pour too fast and water spills over. I thought of this in connection with flow of information into the brain. I have always poured too fast and regretted the lost water. 2) Imagine a sphere of nothingness that is surrounded with so many patches that it actually has a surface and consequently is recognisable as a sphere, a ball, a planet. Me, in my wisdom, do nothing but strip away the patches to show that the nothingness underneath. But the truth is with the patches there is a sphere, without them there isn't. 3) One can make a pretty big splash in a bath but no noise in the sea. Jumping up and down on my floor I can disturb neighbours, but jumping up and down on the earth makes no impression on anybody.

Boredom runs in ripples through my cockles.

According to an article in 'The Times' there is little senile dementia in very old people. The chemical disease affects people at the start of old age, but, if they live beyond that stage, they rarely get it later and remain alive and sparkling. One 100 year old kept diaries all his life in shorthand but he stopped at 92. I wonder if he married. Perhaps male journal writers never marry. Perhaps this is my wife.

Friday 20 November

Last night I persuaded myself to go out. I have to push myself into the social swirl. Noelene had rung earlier in the week to tell me of a gig at the Africa Centre. So there I went, with Gail promising to come later. What a splendid place it is, tucked into Covent Garden. A rectangle hall with a wrought iron gallery balcony. The stage area was decked out with colours and Sunshine Orgunde was banging away on his drums. His music was so infectious it was impossible to keep still. Harvey was there with Judy. And there were many beautiful women and men too, most of them dancing to the magic beat. I am on good form, not afraid to smile at anyone or start conversations with strangers. I let myself go despite being afraid that my dancing is effeminate or childish. I try to let the beat rule my movements, so I rise and fall with the music, but I am never consistent I lose the rhythm and stop. I have no stamina, mental, physical or spiritual. No perseverance.

I was interested in one woman but she slipped away as my attention was taken up first by a rather hard-faced accountant who tried to pick me up and then by Noelene and her travels. After, Gail and I wondered through the rains of Covent Garden playing silly children. He wanted to follow two girls and I wanted to read out loud from H G Wells' 'Short History of the World'. We ran into Maddy so I offered her a lift, but somewhere on the journey I upset Gail. He lost his temper and told me to get out of his car. Back at the flat he explained that he felt Maddy had something against him and that we had left him out of the conversation. So I gave this some thought. It occurred to me that Gail knew all my friends and expected an equal status with them, but that I knew none of his friends. Gail asked me what I was thinking so I told him. He left quite quiet. Maddy, meanwhile, is on form. She is mixing the sound for 'Cats', one of the top sound mixing jobs in the West End.

The time seems right to grow a beard.

'Chicken Tikka' was billed as a metaphysical murder mystery, but Peter Godfrey (writer/director) graces us an evening of charming surreal entertainment (doubtless with a dozen references to old movies) about a low character from the East End trapped in an Indian restaurant. We see him with the dilemma of what to choose, but we understand that really he is on an operating table fighting for his life. Just as he has no will to make choices in life so he has no real will to fight for life on the operating table. The show is passionate, erotic and cerebral, a clever play.

'Mephisto' is a film about the rise of an ambitious actor through the years of Nazi expansion and domination. As the glitter and glory increase so does the actor's need to compromise. But, to him, the acting is important, more important than politics or morals. The film never judges him, indeed is generously sympathetic towards his greed for success. Neither does the film denounce Nazism. It just comments subtly on the way the Nazi regime restricted and manipulated the culture of the time.

The play I saw this evening 'Citizen Ilyushin' takes a much more moralistic stance, but is not of the same class. The writer, who has to bring all his ideas out in conversation, does so in a rather crude way, using good, indifferent and bad communists. The composer Ilyushin is never quite sure whether music or morals comes first, but he always comes to decisions which are safe and conforming. Yet this tactic doesn't save him and he falls slowly, further and further. If the playwright is saying the composer might as well have made a stand when he could, then I fear he's wasting his time.

Why do I waste time writing these words onto paper?

Saturday 21 November

A moment of nostalgia for Ann (already?). From my bedroom I remove the box she made for my birthday. I discard the box but keep the lovely paper-mache model of herself as a mermaid reclining on a chaise longue. It hurts when I think of her with someone else, and I feel very sad. And then, unexpectedly, I find, hidden in the corner of the box beneath all those waves blown white and black, another note - as though she knew I would not find it until the affair was over.

'We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us and we drown!'

She always said her affairs finished that way, with men refusing to speak to her. What vanity - I thought I could do better!

Monday 23 November

I went down to the company nurse today because a wound on my head was festering. The nurse knew my name and explained why: she remembered me because of the evidence, evident when I had a company medical, of hepatitis in my blood. She told me to keep off alcohol and agreed that my bouts of tiredness could be caused by it.

Wednesday

Of course I'm hard and callous as far as world poverty and hunger are concerned, it dawns on me now, at 3:00pm on a Wednesday afternoon sitting here in the office, how could I not be? Travelling as I did through the most shitty conditions of man, of course my mind blunted itself to the horror. As others were dulling themselves to the selfishness and irreverence of people around them, of society, I was burning the senses off my attitudes to poverty and disease.

Sunday 29 November

I uncovered an exclusive about a shipment of LPG from Saudi Arabia. Transammonia refused to give me the full details because, it said, it would be issuing a press release in a few weeks. But I must have provoked them into letting the news out early because, on Friday, we received a telex press release; moreover, the 'FT', 'NYT' etc. all gave details I didn't have. It makes me look pretty stupid. Nevertheless, two of my stories featured as headlines on the front cover (of European Chemical News) this week. Tony Cox, in fact, has been treating me a little better since I came back from Greece. I am surprised how much my work affects my wellbeing. I've been quite peaceful in myself and alert this last week, largely because things have been OK at work.

Sunday afternoon by the fire. Why do I insist on reading and thinking about the grand sphere of existence, constantly minutising myself by trying to put myself into the perspective of evolution, sociology, psychology? I will probably look back on this period as I look back on my travels, with some regret that they were done too young and too alone. With whom can I discuss Robin Fox's book 'The Red Lamp of Incest?'

If I breathe in deeply and remember all I've learnt - life is long, relationships are banal, specialisation and dedication are a must, writing I've chosen for its longevity, and that at every turn there are pits of despondence, failure, envy and dis-satisfaction - then I must concede to myself that there is some plan I am following and that the sum total of my experiences are backing it up. However this does not mean my day-to-day management of affairs are at all satisfactory. My desperation for a lover, for emotional support, makes it difficult to see straight and act naturally. A common complaint I'm sure.

Yesterday, dressed for a party, I found myself chatting to Rachel whilst we stripped posters from a wall. I tried to explain to her how I was still putting the pieces together, having broken down last year. She said she thought I was very together and appeared more relaxed this autumn than in last spring. She said she thought of me as an anomaly.

On Tuesday at the British Academy Awards film palace we were treated to Ian Johnson's 30 minute film on the theatre of Ken Campbell. What a glittering audience, my word, so many colourful people. So small me, so full of regrets and inconsequentiality. But it was pleasant to see Luke again, and Peter and Brian and Ian of course. Ags and John were there. Ken Campbell sat in the front row and didn't laugh much, but those actresses from 'The Warp' so glamourously portrayed let out plenty of guffaws. All in all a successful premiere I suppose, but a rather insubstantial film especially considering Ian's has been making it for three years.

Paul K Lyons

December 1981

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