PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1983 - APRIL
Every time I turn on the radio there's a religious programme - something to do with Christ and rebirth. I don't mind people professing their faith or talking about it, and I can't say whether I care that some are naive enough to attack religion. I'd prefer humans were stronger, more civilised, more evolved, and didn't need these props. I've always been a searcher of truth - I never said such an arrogant thing to myself before - and I did discover the truth about the religion. But the truth about the truth is that it neither adds to happiness or makes anybody's lives easier, least of all the truthful. The truth is that the truth does not exist and the truth is that any seeker after truth had better get his act together and learn to hide the truth and act a role a bit. The truth is that there are a thousand million truths in China alone. But truth can be defined in a scientific context. I accept science. I do not accept religion as anything other than an opinion. I will thus remain a soul-less dullard.
What is left. The Garden: clematis montana, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, prunus, juniperus, hebe wakiki, euonymus silver queen, passiflora caerula, gold heart ivy, cotoneaster horizontalis, broom, lonicera. And the ivy that's troublesome.
I just went to see him Patrick. He gave me almost an entire performance of 'Flesh and the Devil' with John Gilbert and Greta Garbo as the silent screen stars. 'Amazing' and 'fantastic' were on his lips constantly in attempting to describe scenes that he was also half acting. Recently, he's understood a bit better why I got so fed up with H. In fact he said: I don't know how you stood him for so long. I laughed off his vices, found them amusing because they were so alien to me. Patrick is similar, too instinctive in response. I think he finds silent movies so amazing and fantastic because he can see the techniques at play, clearly and uncomplicatedly. But, in truth, modern films are superbly acted too and the stagecraft is a business, a multi-million potpourri evolved over decades. One can admire the silent movies but admire 'Close Encounters' and 'ET' with the same breathlessness, because they are equally fantastic and amazing.
Wednesday 6 April
I do not understand why I feel ill all the time. Yesterday was the first day I felt well enough to cycle to work after the last bout of colds, but even then I had the same headache I've had since Friday. And now this morning it's worse. Even a touch of fever in me - going hot and cold. Low blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes? God help me from chronic diseases. Woke up in the night with a bleeding nose. Scratching my head from dawn to dusk. What a mess.
I was looking in the library for some information on freemasonry. All I could find was a book entitled 'Light Invisible' which was a defence of freemasonry by an anonymous mason replying to a scathing attack on the sect called 'Darkness Visible'. I was much more interested in reading that.
Thursday 7 April
Dennis, husband to Joan, is in the office photocopying a play he's written. I don't think he's older than me, but he's living the practical and romantic aspects of being a 'writer'. I suspect Joan brings in the silver and makes the big decisions, and why not if he wants to write. I'd like to ask him what he has to say - like a man in Corsica once asked me - but I dare not. Will I ever write a play again? This is the question. I dream of rewriting 'The Brittle Rhapsody' or 'Aleister Crowley' for radio or of writing a performance for myself based on my diary writings. Dennis writes eight hours a day. I bet he studied English or History at school and didn't cry over essays.
Sunday 9 April
I'm sure I put Joan Armatrading on the stereo but Rachmaninov 3 is playing. The memories I want to indulge in, though, go back to before even 68 Fordwych Road. For about three months I lived in a flat in Oakley Street, Chelsea, with M. On Sunday mornings I would wake early and, not wanting to disturb M who worked late, would go for a walk in Battersea Park, sometimes taking a recorder with me. On one of these occasions I met Jean-Christophe. On another I met Victoria. Victoria fascinated me. I only saw her two times. She was struggling against heroin addiction, and she talked about her lover, a recluse whom she couldn't leave. The 'Sunday Times' colour supplement today has a feature on the Getty family. They had a house in Cheyne Walk, and Victoria, I now realise, was Paul Getty II's lover! What this news does is grate achingly across my present consciousness. I am reminded of myself as an explorer, an outward bound, a naif, compared to the dullard I am today. Also in today's 'Sunday Times' is a feature story about Raoul's work at the Marsden. It is hailed as the most exciting breakthrough in 50 years of cancer research. Dr Coombes is quote towards the end of the article. I like to see him puff up from time to time.
I am not sitting easily in society at the moment. I didn't say much this afternoon at R&V's, and I didn't go to Lisette and Iver's party. I had no energy, perhaps sheer laziness. I don't socialise with anyone at work. I do wonder if the caring and nurturing of one such as Bel saps my inspiration? When I was alone in Iverson Road trying to write, I used to think that one couldn't write truly without stable emotional support. Now I appear to be saying the opposite. The truth of the matter is simple. If I can't create, I invent excuses. I'm the biggest wanker I ever knew. Is this the way to betterment. How can I love others when I don't love myself? I always used to love myself, what happened?
A lunchtime drink with Sasha. He notes that there are only five capitals worth the name in Europe: London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Madrid. I debate the inclusion of Madrid, although I've never been to Rome. He mentions that my mother had sent him a note thanking him for helping me with buying the house, but there is a subtext to his mentionging this: why should she need to since I am his son too. It's interesting to note that I hardly saw Sasha in the two years between first meeting my real father, Frederic, and being dismissed by him on the second meeting. Now, though my relationship with Sasha is back, much as it ever was. I fully understand the roles of Frederic and Sasha: I'm Frederic's son, but Sasha is my father. I owe no allegiance to the former, nor can I expect any fertiliser, but I owe loyalty to the latter and will be rewarded for such.
Wednesday 13 April
A lot of reminders of the past this week - what with Victoria Getty, and then Julian Hole on Radio 4 interviewing Dorothy Carrington (or Frederica) for half an hour about Corsica. She was quite difficult in a way because Hole had to prod and prod to get her to talk about vendettas and then the mezzeri - two characteristic, if dated, aspects of the island. I remember Frederica quite well from time on Corsica. She was a rather impassioned outdoor ex-colonial type good at organising cross country walks on Sundays. Her book about Corsica - 'The Granite Island' - is very good. I still look for copies every time I go to a second hand book shop. Also, in the paper today, a review of 'Visitation' by Michele Roberts says this: 'something so rare it may be unique - (it) describes heterosexual sex from a female point of view with all the force and lyricism of those male authors, like D H Lawrence, who have famously falsified the female experience' etc. I haven't written about passion or sex for so long now. There was a time when I would meet a woman - Valerie at the King's Cross squat for example - and fictionalise her in a story, usually sexual.
Sunday 17 April
Bel says it's time I fell in love with a new woman. She wants me to be happy. Joking leads to a serious discussion that goes on throughout the evening. Sometimes it subsides into a parody of itself, sometimes we are close to tears. I do most of the talking, Bel reiterates a plea for honesty. She feels she must know if I am seeing someone else. But - the truth is - I would be loathe to lose or disturb my relationship with her unless I was sure another would take its place. If I felt I could keep a secret I would. She appeals to my ego - says it is my honesty that has always attracted her to me. I say the honesty is naive, and that I would be a fool to tell her that which I could keep secret. In fact, I have always been too honest. Nevertheless she insists and I could almost believe her. But even in this I am too honest. I tell her my motives, my hypocrisies.
I plant nasturtiums everywhere in the garden. Tall ones and climbing ones. I plant a thousand seeds of love lies bleeding and some other orange flowers. And I bought a lonicera - a honeysuckle. We went junk shopping and found this lovely satinwood chest of drawers that would have gone perfectly with the wardrobe now in my bedroom. As we debated the £35 price some people came and took it away.
I've never read any of David Irving's books but apparently he's a controversial historian. Most controversial of all is his claim that Hitler did not know about the wholesale slaughter of Jews. Of his critics, he says they like the romantic notion of one person being so evil and totally culpable. He was interviewed on a programme called 'In the Psychiatrist's Chair' and came across as a very cold and rational man, very calculating. It was made clear in the interview that he had opposed the divorce action brought by his wife, because he felt his children were on his wife's side against him. He said that he thought he would never find another partner, that he no longer indulged in sexual relations, that he worked 16 hours a day, and that he regretted getting married because it was a waste of time.
Thursday 20 April
Last night, I thought I heard grasshoppers singing in the garden. Such a chirping hissing sound immediately transports me to Greece or at least the Mediterranean.
Raoul's birthday yesterday. Chaos in his house with Marsha and Cosmo playing master and servant, and Vonny out teaching. The young girls came and Cosmo puffed up. Marsha tells me she was negotiating there with two black men: drugs for sexual favours. No transactions took place I'm told but Curtis came to dinner any way. I talked to him once as though I were a journalist and he an interviewee. My surprise and enthusiasm were genuine as he told me about his life as a dancer. He runs a troupe called Mixed Spice. It is currently on contract with Channel Four. He rehearses every day from 9 to 6, and then hangs out at a club every night till 3 or 4, sleeping only two hours a night. He showed absolutely no interest in me other than as the asker of questions. I thus refrained from asking him about the vanity of dancers.
Paul K Lyons
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