PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1981 - SEPTEMBER
Wednesday 2 September
Up at the crack of dawn this morning in order to get a lift back to London with Andy. I find myself in a silent office before 9:00am. My body is weak, my mind is fragile. I can't actually move this pen very cleverly.
Last night we went to the hospital in Brighton to see H, a drug addict that Andy has been trying to help. It was very disorientating to find myself in hospital again, walking determinedly along endless disinfected corridors, through swing doors, along endless disinfected corridors. Hospitals at night are like lunar landscapes inhabited by two separate species, the wounded and the healers. The intensive care unit is full of distorted bodies, surrounded by strings and tubes and bottles, and patched up with bandages and plaster. Life and its bare bones. One forgets so quickly. H had drunk himself silly and then lost himself in the ocean's depths. He was under water for 12-15 minutes, and, now, after two weeks, he is still unconscious. He lies on the bed, his eyes wide apart, and his body fitting despite an intravenous feed of Valium. His parents have been and gone muttering things like, 'if only he had had his haircut'. It must be difficult for them to cope I imagine. All very disturbing.
Friday 4 September
Looking for something in the diaries of my 68 Fordwych Road days I couldn't help but notice how inspired my writing seemed then, the time of Harold and Marielle.
Saturday 5 September
I'm being good with dates this diary.
Bury St Edmunds . . . and why not? Summer has a final fling today. My body feels frail. I have the old travelling tiredness, that constant weariness that never lets up. It affects the mind too, sucking out pleasure from the minutes and hours. All day a headache has threatened to trouble me further and finally it's here. I am in a light airy cafe of pine furniture, white walls, and green napkins. The coffee is lousy but I get my money's worth in headache tablets and smiles. It's a bit like Salisbury here - an English country market town. There's a Saturday market with stalls ranging from tools to cheese to fabrics. It's a middle-class bustle. I looked around for a barber to get a shave, but apparently there's a local bye-law forbidding shaving (without expensive equipment). The barber in one tiny barber shop said that, in really desperate cases, he would sell a packet of disposable razors to a customer and let him shave himself on the premises.
Annette is a dark French girl that works with Janice at the cinema in Paris. She acts like an au-pair. Her face is not pretty but she dresses well. I've given her Peter's bed (he has gone away on a computer graphics course). Patrick comes round to tell me he's been to Poole and done an audition with BBC radio, and to borrow a fiver, to eat, and to stay the night. Patrick can be an ace scrounger.
Here we are at Rougham Harvest Fayre: Rosy, Andy, Jason, Tammy, Raoul, Vonny and I. It's all bloody hippies - guitars, sitars, beads, joss-sticks, bare feet, coloured scarfs, long hair, beards, muesli, painted faces. I find it all a bit ugly; it's not a touch on what I remember of Hood Fair. I don't say this because I was more involved in the lifestyle then, but because it attracted much stronger performers and more discerning audiences. There really is nothing here but beads and pseudo-Morris men. There is almost nothing here that attracts me. Rosy puts on a brave white face while Raoul and Vonny, who've only been here an hour, have already gone to sit in their car. The smell of wood burning, the naked children, the medieval music, the carts and horses, the bails of hay all do it give some oldy-worldy flavour; but there are also cars and balloons and ice-cream and plastic cups and amplifiers. It is utterly pretentious.
Sunday, somewhere near Thurston
Not the best conditions for writing - lying naked in a cornfield with flies buzzing in my ears and stalks of dry grass poking me in various places. This is my escape from the fayre. It's been a long walk through forests and fields in search of Netherhall (as seen on an Ordnance Survey map) but here I am. Nether Hall found. Next quest. A river.
I've found a river at Thetford. I didn't realise it but I've been travelling north of Bury. My plan now is to follow the river until there are no houses or people, then swim, then head back to Rougham. Back there, in the sheep fields of Nether Hall, I heard what sounded like a human noise. So I dressed and marched on, picking the burrs one by one from my cardigan. The river is slow moving but quite clear and deep with rushes. It looks cool and perfect.
One of my lifts to here (Thetford) used to be an Ordnance Survey map maker. His wife pointed out that it was 30 years to the day that they had moved to Suffolk from London. Then, they had no gas or electricity and cooked on old iron ovens. He said he could have moved anywhere in England because at the time it all had to be remapped. I wanted to pump him with questions, but, as it was, he took me out of his way. Another retired couple brought me into Thetford. I am the perfect hitch-hiker. Not only do I leave every driver feeling happy (from having been charitable and from having some so interested in their life and ways) but I exit every car with a little bit of extra knowledge.
Wednesday 9 September
From Monday morning through to Wednesday evening, my life isn't my own. European Chemical News claims me. In the evenings I am too exhausted too sparkle. I stay at home, and sleep or watch television. Last night, for example, I chose not to cycle over to see Ann but to retire a little after 11. I found myself seriously about my chosen career. Evidence is certainly mounting that my editor, Tony Cox, wants to get rid of me, and there seems to little I can do about it, especially with Lynn and Tony picking on my copy all the time. And confirmation came this morning Rob, the editor of 'Performance' magazine, that my writing ability isn't up to scratch - he replied to my letter, warmly but bluntly. Am I an idiot to pursue a career that is so obviously against the grain of my abilities? But is that not why I'm here? Surely, I chose to write because it would be difficult, and because it was the only path I felt would provide me with sufficient challenges and potential fulfilments.
I photocopied an article - about thinking and computers - from 'Scientific American' because it looked interesting. When I got it out to read I saw it was by Hoftsader, author of 'Godel Escher Bach'. In the article, he was trying to show that computers can only work with precise definitions and cannot 'think' imprecisely or have feelings for qualities and relationships.
Thursday 10 September
Finally, the madness happened. Last night, I went to Ann's and she went to my place. She had said she would be at home, and when, at 10pm, I tried phoning she was engaged for ages so I decided to cycle to Oval anyway. But Ann wasn't there, so Mala and her Dutch friend Peter entertained me. Peter talked about fire sculptures, while Mala cleared up around us (dressed only in a stripy yellow gown). I phoned home and left a message, then Ann phoned. She said she was with a friend in a car and wanted her bed. She sounded sharp and distant. She carried on ranting until her money ran out. When I phoned her back I noticed she was at a 624 number (i.e. near my home) Suddenly she got very moody and pretentious. I told her to use my flat, but then she said she wasn't really with someone else. Oh!, it just got so confused. In the end, she said something like 'I don't care if I ever see you again'. I put the phone down and left it off the hook for half an hour. When I put the phone back, it rang immediately. And then she was got even madder. She wouldn't get off the phone but nor did she have anything to say, except to complain that I'd gone to her house.
Where do you go to my lovely When you're alone in MY bed What are the scarves that Surround you, I want To look inside Your head
Where do I go to my lovely When I'm alone in YOUR bed What are the stories That surround me, I want To lock my telephone Inside your head
I got very stoned last night, and my mind went to work overtime trying to disentangle the threads of my relationship with Ann - a completely different viewpoint was trying to push through, one which made me seem ugly. And Sooz just said something worrying to me: 'somebody ought to tell you a thing or two'. The dope gives me the feeling that I am understanding what is going on at a deeper level. It is as though I am numb to the deception between people in everyday life. But not half so numb as most. In fact, quite fresh, like new cut sodium, burningly so.
Tuesday 15 September
I wake up these mornings with a heavy heart, partly in the knowledge that a day at work will drain me, not inspire me. Sometimes now I feel as down as when I had nothing, just evidence I suppose of the fluctuating norm. I truly find little to sparkle about. And yet others face tragedy all the time. Ken lost one of his closest friends - his father's youngest brother, who was only two years older than Ken. He just didn't wake up one morning. The autopsy couldn't find anything wrong. Patrick got unviolently mugged TWICE last weekend. His flat was also burgled. Gale was attacked by a ten year girl (that's funny, laugh). Harvey goes to court on Thursday.
And with Ann, I start to see only games. I give and give because I'm frightened of being alone again. But, at the same time, I can see what is happening, and I don't like it. It's a relationship that's not working, yet I'm struggling to maintain it. Is she struggling too? Am I trying to buckle her? In the same way that she is trying to harness me? Last night, thinking these things through, I was sure of what I wanted to say but now they are not so clear. I remember, for example, that Ann started on about my job, and said I should give it up. She seemed to blame the problems in our relationships on my job. That's heavy.
On Saturday night I rode the last tube trains to Ann. I went partly because I wanted to be with her, and partly to show willingness to go to her house even though I wasn't going to work the next day (Ann's house being half on the way to my office). I played a silent role, stripped quickly, slid into bed and embraced her. Ice. I tried to seduce but was met with questions and more questions: 'Why don't you talk?'. There was no physical response at all, so I turned over. Minutes later her frozen reactions filtered through to my head and I went downstairs to sleep, planning on an early withdrawal in the morning.
But in the night I had two dreams. One was a horrendous meeting with Tony Cox, which terrified me, and actually altered my perspective of the situation at work. The other dream was about Maddy and Teg, who live downstairs from me. I was in bed with Maddy, and we were on the verge of copulating when we heard a noise. We both dressed immediately and Maddy went downstairs, there was Teg standing in the shadows. I woke up and my heart was beating so fast.
What would a world be like that had music as its weather?
Did I mention that Janice, and her current boyfriend, Michele, and another friend Phillip, have come from Paris to stay. Michele is like a doting pussy cat. Since I spent a night with Janice my interest in her has declined fast. I think I'll have to put my foot down and stop her filling up my flat with fresh young French faces.
Friday 18 September
Confusion. I've been trying to pin down when I might be needed for Harvey's court case. Originally, it was going to be today, but then I heard it might be Tuesday. This has been messing up my plans to borrow Julian's car and drive to Cornwall, but I've now arranged with Ann to go on Wednesday.
On Tony's desk, a scrawled note about points to be discussed at a management meeting. One of these: 'Paul is a problem'.
The rains have started. It was quite dramatic the change-over between summer and autumn. One day it was the holiday season and now we have rains and dark nights. And, at this moment, just after six on Friday, the sky has cracked thunder over the roofs towards the Gaumont State, but the late sun catches the upper walls of the terraced houses on the south side of Iverson Road. Foreboding anvil skies above bear down on sunlit splendour. Rain starts to tinkle on glass, tyres start to make spray noises.
I've come to Brighton Julian's car. Going to Brighton for the weekend was the final plan since going somewhere further afield was impractical due to Harvey's court case and the possibility I might be needed as a witness. But Ann is not with me. I called her from the Tricycle, where I was working, and said I would come over later in the evening and we would drive to Brighton at night or very early in the morning. So I arrivex at Ann's before 1am. She was in bed. I sat on the sofa and talked quietly and gently. I said I am unhappy, that there is an undercurrent of unhappiness running through me. And from there on, it was all downhill, downhill to the pits. I screamed and shouted, almost hit her, almost violated her, broke plates, stormed out of rooms, shrieked and I don't know what else. I left before 5am. I am confused and miserable. It is about four months we've been 'having a scene' to use her words, and for weeks now I've been denying its end, largely because I've become so worried about my ability to hold on to a relationship. I've lost all perspective, and I can't fathom out what has been going on. There were the power battles raging between us, and the sexual conflict. There was my self-consciousness and her hysteria. But what happened last night is a dark mystery. For weeks now we have done nothing but argue, and been bitter towards one another. But, I'm sure as my name is Paul, that I have tried to minimise the arguments, to divert attention by doing other things, to offer time and so forth. I'm sure of it, yet all I got were rebuttals. But my stupid head looks further and says why, and keeps on trying. Even now I want to ring her. Love and Ego are so intertwined.
Clearer. I spoke briefly to Ann. There was no trace in her of any residual significance of the night before. No regrets, no sorrow, no sympathetic communication. Of course it's happened before. I've said similar things before but I really must cool off from here. My throat still hurts. She wound me up so much - just wouldn't stop, just went on and on. It was my own stupidity to be affected by it. It's not the fighting that drives me away, but the dying of fun and spontaneity in every aspect of our relationship.
To see Annabel and Julek - a delight.
Still swirling Ann around in my mind. I did invest emotionally and now I feel like curling up in corners. On the train last evening I was reading and enjoying reading, then I looked out of the window and perceived my insignificance again.
I get surges, powerful waves passing through my body and mind motivating me to get on with writing. I imagine many first lines but I seem to have neither the discipline nor the mental stamina nor the expertise to persevere. Some story beginnings: 'Her old and decrepit body lay tightly in my arms beneath the luxurious satin sheets . . .'; or 'Exactly how I happened to be lying in bed with a 1951 Morris Minor I will reveal shortly . . .'; or 'It is not that easy to sleep entwined with the fat tough body of a pig . . . and when one has just declared undying love'; or 'Tucked up in bed with an extractor fan gives me the strong desire to turn it on . . .'.
Seatab is a newly-formed firm of shipbrokers. Yesterday it celebrated its first birthday with a party on the Hispaniola restaurant ship moored near the Embankment. All dark suits and pork chops and champagne. I arrived late and spent quite a while just standing around, but eventually got talking. Chris Cragg - good name - was somewhat drunk and advocating the assets of sea trade as a fascinating medium for the study of offshore politics. It seems he has been tracking down some Yugoslav newbuildings for Atlas. He didn't know that two of them had already been timechartered. He reckoned that Nigel Lawson, the new minister for energy, had/has been briefed to dismantle British Gas and BNOC.
I speak to Ann each day about trivialities. It hurts, makes me bitter even, to remember the odd ways she's been treating me. Such a waste of time, all the battling - unconscious or conscious.
It's absurd but fruit machines have evolved too complicated for me to understand how they work.
In the mornings I wake up generally sometime before eight. These days I am usually alone, and my thoughts turn first to the mail (and replies from jobs I might have applied to in my desperation to leave ECN). I walk through the kitchen, piss, then, still naked, go to collect the post. If there is none - as is usually the case these days - I return to bed wanting to do nothing else but sleep.
Henry Livings was in the Tricycle theatre drinking like a monsoon drain: at least six pints and six whiskies. Peter Godfrey also there talking about his new show 'Chicken Ticker' and a Christmas show for kids 'Aliens - The Pantomime'. He's good. I'm jealous.
Here I am then, standing in the rain Not knowing my true worth I do not mean to say that I under-estimate myself But that truly I have no estimate of my worth At times I am but a cat's eye beneath a juggernaut's wheel And at others I am a heavenly body with planets swirling around my head
Friday 25 September
I spent all day Thursday at the Old Bailey in the public gallery of Court Four. For there, Harvey and Gideon were under trial on four counts: two of blackmail, one of conspiracy to prevent the course of justice, and one of deceit. The two defendants had taken the stand in their own defence. I watched the end of Harvey's evidence and almost all of Gideon's.
It had already been explained to me why I wouldn't be called as a witness: the solicitor prepares as much useful evidence as possible but leaves it to the barrister to decide what he wants to use. Unfortunately, the barrister didn't decide until the beginning of this week otherwise I would have gone away as planned.
How serious it all is. Both of them could be imprisoned for up to three years. How much money is being spent, how many people's time being taken up. Harvey's throat dries up as he is cross-examined in the witness box. The prosecutor's job is to trick the witness into admission or error. But Harvey thinks carefully before answering each question. He is a good witness. When allowed to step down he returns to the dock to put his feet up. He reveals different coloured socks, quite out of line with his fawn-coloured suit.
Gideon is more spontaneous in the witness box. His first instinct is to let fly at Joe Fatal, who is sitting in the gallery, for he has had his entire life screwed up by the man for almost a year. This is his first chance to say anything of import and be listened to. He alternates between bitter anger and a resignation born of sad disbelief. He appears genuine.
It is difficult to understand how the police were taken in by Fatal. Why would a diamond merchant lower himself to petty crime just to get £1,000 out of somebody he had been giving money to for years. The only real evidence (and some of it did seem damning) was on the tape of the meeting (the meeting organised by Fatal with four policemen in cupboards etc). A lot of what was said was open to very different interpretations which defence and prosecution clearly tailored to their own cases.
Rosina was with me in the public gallery. At one point she asked me to point out Fatal but I'd never met him. But then a man on my left leaned over and asked me whether I thought the witness was telling the truth. I said 'yes'; he replied, 'He's lying through his teeth.' It was Fatal, younger and more solid looking than I had imagined. He had sat there everyday lapping up the whole trial. He is untouchable, the police dropped the assault charge against him, and however innocent they find the defendants, there is nothing that can be done to Fatal.
Because Gideon was so in debt and Fatal had him so neatly sewn up, he was forced to sell two of his houses to the man - the two, in fact, that I tried to get Sasha interested in buying for me.
The judge summed-up in favour of the prosecution. Nevertheless, Harvey and Gideon were acquitted on a majority of 10 after the jury had been out three times for a total of four hours.
Paul K Lyons
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