1 October, Dunedin

I take the day off but it isn't fine like Monday and Tuesday. I spend an hour at the dentist having my teeth cleaned, an hour listening to Tizzard saying we are looking into that and that (he's a pretty cool customer), and a couple of hours watching the Ali fight on telly at the Gardens - Ali whacked Frazer in the 14th. I do a tour of pubs in the evening and end up taking Roger home for a cup of coffee - he's a technician at the Phys Ed school.

2 October

The Sandoz Medical Director - a physician and rheumatology specialist - is over from Australia for the day. I am expecting Peter Isaacs and am surprised when this guy - Peter Thorpe - asks for me. He's very haughty to start with - not an old bloke, wears flashy dress. I escort him around Woodhouse, Simpson, McLeod and Mirkin. He has a good time. At the end of the day he says I should stay with him if I go to Australia.

3 October

I go to Jock's flat for to get my Chinese book and end up staying a while and drinking with some of the crowd in the Cook.

4 October

I go climbing with Jock and another English guy out at Long Beach, but I don't do any rope climbing just a lot of scrambling and watching others. One guy falls 30ft and lands on his head - surely would have been killed if he not for his helmet. Jock climbs very slowly. In the evening, I go alone to Margot Nash's women's all cure star show and enjoy it very much. I want to hang around and talk but I know nobody.

I feel very disjointed - my hand seems to be writing even though it is unaffected by my body - strange sensation.

11 October

I go skiing with Ross. We don't lose a game of pool all night in the Methuen pub.

14 October

A boring week in Timaru - I eat a lot of fish and chips, and I swim in the pool occasionally.

17 October

I ski all day long, and go out in Christchurch at night. Margaret is thinking about journalism. Viv is to move out at last.

18 October

I ski most of the day with an Aussie girl. The conditions are good and we do a little bit of jumping. I hitch without bother to Ashburton (where my car is) and drive at a frantic rate towards Dunedin. But I run into race meeting crowds, and there is two inches of snow, and I run out of petrol in Palmerston. I hitch to Wakquail and back for a gallon of petrol. I get home about eight - everything is ready for Sarah's 21st birthday party. I drink a little too much gin and have a fair time. I go to bed at some stupid hour like 5:00.

19 October

I go for a picnic on the slidey sand beach with Sarah and her friends. I then spend all afternoon with Ray and others who drop in. We go to eat a meal, a whole crowd of us, actors and presenters, including Lou, another rep, and a girl who makes models for the show Playschool (I hope I run into her again).

20 October

I spend the afternoon drinking with Lisa, E, C and R. Later I have this personal conversation with one of the lecturers who hangs out at the Cook. He gets more and more depressed and we go round in circles looking for a party he thinks he knows of. I am quite pissed and when he gets out of the car he hugs and kisses me - I am staggered and embarrassed (which annoys me) and stammer that I'm heterosexual.

21 October

This morning I get up at 5:00 with a very turmoiled mind. I read Susan Hill's story Albatross, and go for a very cold swim. I am feeling so untogether, running and leaping and then lying flat and staring at the sky. It is a most peaceful calming sky. I walk back to the flat slowly - calmed and less excited. I post a Christmas parcel to England. It contains: an STQ, a China book, matches, diaries, two string plant hangers, wallet, sheepskin slippers. I hope it arrives without the pot breaking. I spend a couple of hours at Orokonui. I dress in my suit and do some office work. In the evening, I go to see 'Mothers and Fathers' at the Fortune Theatre. I meet one of Mo's (Vicky's sister) friends and Yo who quite appeal to me.

22 October

Life is whizzing by too fast. I am not reading things, I am ignoring my Spanish, I am drinking too much, I am not in love - the latter being the most important. I catch up on paperwork, then go to Palmerston. I eat a typical lunch of hot pie and bread and cheese.

24 October

I sign up for three days with a strange crowd. Ross drives me passed the gathering once before dropping me off. I stand waiting with this bunch for an hour, and I very nearly decide to drop out, but a guy called Sid whips my money quite sharpish - so I decide to bear with it. On the journey to Invercargill I talk to this old lady Alice and read the latest Time. I read a while at the Youth Hostel. There are some interesting people: Alan, a 30 year old fitter and tuner; Sandy, a quiet Canadian girl; Gill, an English teacher on exchange; John is Dave Searle's brother, a psychiatric nurse.

25 October

I make efforts to sit next to Sandy - she works in a bank and her friend teaches kids. We check out Riverton rocks but the adventure playground is far better - a beast slide and flying fox. We stop at a campsite and set up tents and somebody gets some lunch together. It's very drizzly - there are sandflies by the lake. I go for a walk in the afternoon up to a lookout over Lake Horako - it's quite a long walk through bush, over roots and mud and stone - unvarying scenery. I finally reach an opening overlooking the lake and sit on a ledge and get wet and stare at the encroaching mist. All evening it is drizzly too; we finally get a fire going, I sit by the fire in the rain writing poems and singing - getting wet and drying my jacket over the fire - it's really neat watching the wood burn.

Sunday 26 October

We go on a jet boat trip to a Maori burial place - I manage half an hour or so alone with Sandy. We talk about why people tramp (hike). In the afternoon we go to some caves - long and extensive and spoilt by endless graffiti - most mites and tites are broken off. It rains all night long - I drink wine and muck around in the tent. It's really difficult to get comfy or warm or fall asleep. We all finally settle after many hours of tossing, and all is quiet when Sandy's voice comes through 'can I have a torch', as she gets up to go to the toilet - I rupture my sides.

27 October

We go on an organised tour on the Borland Saddle - a day trip in a four-wheel drive vehicle following the service roads for the power lines. Everybody is suitably impressed - but I'm not that impressed - a lot of snow-covered bush, a lot of treetops below the bush line, some forbidding crags and pretty waterfalls. We are very late get back. I ring from Gore - two people are expecting a lift from me at 8:30 but I don't get back until 11. They all seem OK, though, when I arrive. I bath, drink some coffee and we whizz off to Christchurch. The girls, Judy and Pam, really egg me on and I make it in two hours and 57 minutes (with the added excitement of running out of petrol, but I make it to a coin pump and put in a $1 worth of petrol) - a lot of laughs. I sleep at the girls' place. Judy has just come back from a couple of years travelling around.

28 October

A rush at 8:00 to get out of the place and be at the airport hotel by 8:30 - no problem except for a creased shirt. I collect Ashok and Rein and Mike and we have a day's conference. I go for dinner with Pete and Anna and Viv, and then on my own to the Court to see J. B. Priestley's The Inspector Calls.

29 October

I drive slowly back to Dunedin with Helen stopping for occasional business appointments and to pick up hitchhikers. I have a lot of time to kill in Oamaru, so walk and talk and find these neat beaches with pau pau shells and seaweeds. A sea lion scares the wits out of me - it has an enormous moustache. I check out the Moeraki Boulders for Helen, then race home. Everybody is going to La Scala - I am really tired and keep falling asleep, but finally manage to put some clothes on and head for the restaurant. Also I am unhappy about the cost of such a do. A fair meal and a lot of water. I sleep like a log in the sitting room.

30 October

Lisa tells me I said rude things about the other people in the flat during the night. I pick up my boss, Mike, at about 12:00. We talk over lunch. He wants to go to Invercargill on Monday to see De Silva. The Spanish lesson isn't really on, so I take Ted to the Globe. Ted brought up four kids (the oldest was six) on his own, now they are all grown up and run the house - he seems to have things pretty easy now. His wife is in the US.

31 October

I drink at lunchtime with some registrars, then sleep on the beach, then drink with some house surgeons at 5:00. I drink in the pub from 9 till 12 with girls - Ted joins us for a while as well.

November 1975

Paul K Lyons


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