JOURNAL - 1977 - MAY

Wednesday 4 May

May crept up quietly. Introducing Roger, Judy, Shea who area also attending the Chinese history course. For the second time we went drinking together afterwards. A cosy foursome! Annabelle takes up weekends. Anna rings me often. Days are bland. Mostly it rains. This little paper book has lost all pretenses to be a journal, it seems to be a collection of third-rate poems and stories.

Sunday 8 March, a pub near Regent's Park

I am dreading the prospect of staying in this afternoon, but I have many things to do. Didier has been and gone. He brought good news about Jim. Didier told me that he had tried to stay in Canada but he'd only been given a month's visa. He still wants to emigrate there. He is not an old friend to me, but is a closer friend to me than anybody in England.

I have been walking in the rain again, and playing the recorder on wet park benches and by drizzly canals. I feel conscious that I am rejecting people because I find them boring. Can one do that?. I think I'm starting to distance myself from Annabelle.

Monday 9 May

Letters from Lynn and Peter in N.Z. do not help me decide whether to emigrate or not. I will go to the southwest, to Plymouth and Exeter and when I come back, if I can't decide, I'll toss a coin.

I spent long hours last night arrogantly criticising people who get involved in causes that have nothing to do with them, i.e. Anna. I think I'm jealous of her involvement, and tried to explain why I cannot get involved in other people's fights.

How difficult it is to find the northeast entrance of the Oriental Gallery II of the British Museum. Gorgeous works: Tani Buncho, more brilliant, celebrated and famous then Kishi Ganku who left a school behind and his famous tiger paintings (1750s-1850s). Also I went to Sothebys to an auction of oceanic tribal art.

Tuesday 10 May

N writes of love and grey and blue colour and of Pincho drowning in an angry sea. Last night I went to a poetry meeting and met a Turkish translator named Richard.

Thursday 12 May

Wednesday was quite full of empty spaces but good things happened. 1) Glancing at N's letter I see an address of a friend who is in London - it is around the corner. I go immediately. There is a beautiful girl who knows of me - we exchange telephone numbers. 2) A French boy comes to the house, to find work painting the walls. I can't offer him work but he drinks coffee and we talk about Laos. 3) I meet with Dorothy Wise, a very precise cigarette rolling bike-riding sociologist with her head together. We talk about Learning Exchanges. 4) At silk screen printing classe, I finish my first print - of giraffes.

I have finished reading the Diceman by Luke Rinehard. The first half of the book is above average, very good, but the rest so so - he should have developed more about the idea of destroying the ego.. On the 159 going to Westminster to meet Gwenda and Allison, I read the Banquet of Mr Tintostal by Huxley - a small book of slightly original short stories. I am reading Shaw plays as well, 'Too good to be True', and something called 'A village wooing'.

Hitching in London is even better than outside - only really good people give you lifts. There was a Brazilian psychologist this morning, and just now I met a man called Gerry who invited me to a street party on 28 May in Hamilton Gardens.

Monday 16 May

In Brick Lane Market, I bought another bicycle and painted it lilac. Am I going to live in Oxford and set up a Learning Exchange? Both the Arts Council and the Consumers' Association have little letters from me. Didier sends warm greetings. I send giraffes to everyone.

I saw an excellent production of Kafka's Metamorphosis, and a film, 'The Revolutionary' with Jon Voight.

Thursday 19 May

Oxford has lots of smiles
and spires
and colourful noticeboards
and rainbow bicycles
and tourists
I should have been here before

Friday 20 May


Hu, the emperor of the North Sea, and Shu the emperor of the Southern Sea used to meet from time to time half way between their respective domains, on the territory of the emperor of the Centre, Hun-tun. Hun-tun was most hospitable, but was distinguished from other men by the fact that he lacked the seven orifices for seeing, hearing, eating and breathing. Wishing to repay him for his kindness, Shu and Hu, whose names combined means lightning, decided that they would bore the necessary holes, one a day, in Hun-tun. But on the seventh day Hun-tun, whose name means chaos, died. At the same moment the world came into being. (From Chuang-Tzu's 'The Creation of the World'.)

I am sitting in a cafe in a market in Oxford and thinking about other cafes in other market towns, about travelling, about freedom, and about the headache that comes from thinking about so many difficulties ahead. I keep dreaming of a life which I can't define or visualise, and when I try and think of a transition here to there I get a headache. I keep wanting to fly to some escape.

Clare, whom I'm staying with, is sweet and fresh and natural, and very happy in her world of socialising.

Sunday 22 May

Hitching back from Oxford yesterday I was picked up by a cameraman named Oliver who invited me to be a film extra in an avant-garde movie about Russian repression! We did various warm-up workshops and I met interesting people. The scene I was in concerned Natalie, a Russian poetess, whose small room is invaded by a crowd of people infested with morbid interest in her. Yesterday, they filmed a trial scene, as if it were a game of cards, and the judge was biased against the defence. It was a really nice feeling in the workshop, very smooth, although some people were always trying to get attention. A guy called Norman Coates works for Inter-Action and said there might be a job going with the Almost Free Theatre. Oddly, one of the other film extras, a very fat guy, had picked me up on the way to Oxford.

There are two and a half things ahead of me: 1) Sandoz job; 2) Survey clerk job in Oxford; 3) Stage manager job with the Almost Free Theatre plus community living. But I can't decide whether I should fall into the alternative society or struggle to get a professional job.

I watch 'Deep End' with Jane Asher about a young boy's obsession with a slightly older more experienced woman set around some public baths, and 'Sinful Davey' with John Hurt.

Monday 23 May

It is two months to the day that I am back in England. Hip Hip Hoorah. New Zealand passes away. The Monday morning syndrome. What the fuck shall I do today. Letters to Didier and Phil. Letters from M, Christian Durocher. Not far from Oxford Sreet I sit outside in a cafe drinking coffee and watching people. Why is Oxford St called Oxford St - because it goes to Oxford. Oh and such pretty people pass by, such marvellous fashions - am I trendy? Pleasant strolls on Hampstead Heath with Colin, through hills, trees with holes in, and gentle pubs.

Tuesday 24 May

In my house is a dining-room, all brown and gentle reds, Grecian silverware, potted tureens, velvet setee, a tapestry from Otavalo, and a large window at either end. Through the one that faces the road, the sun shines, and when it shines it shines right across the mahogany side table. My mother is afraid the sun will bleach it, so she draws the resplendent curtains. If I want to work in the dining room with the curtains not drawn, I have to move the table.

My re-entry visa to N.Z. disintegrates today. N sends me happy birthday colours.

Jesus! - would you wear a yellow tie with a yellow shirt and sit at a yellow coloured table (exactly the same yellow) when you come to the British Museum cordon bleu cafe. Would you sit and watch somebody with a yellow tie and yellow shirt sitting at a yellow table.

Wednesday 25 May

8:00am. Back in Oxford at the same market cafe. The sun shines again, but I have an ugly taste in my mouth from a long evening of talking and listening and bad communication.


London smoke is amazing, I think the councils should provide oxygen masks for all cyclists.

Sunday 29 May

On Tuesday I was with S. She called me, then shut her eyes until I withdrew, and then she called me again. I remember a very faint kiss that should not have been, and several hours of rambling that should never have been, and maybe I shouldn't have been.

On Wednesday I went to Oxford for breakfast; at teatime I did some silk-screen printing; and later I went drinking with Carla and Annabelle.

On Thursday, I thought all my problems would be solved, but Dorothy Wise succeeded in dampening all the enthusiasm for a Learning Exchange project that she had created in the first place. In the afternoon, M arrived. Why she is in London so soon? She already has a job. She is very lovely and does attract me very much, but after my experience with her on the boat, I must be wary.


There is a boy feeling my face. I understand his fingers in my eyes, along my cheeks, pulling at my beard. But I do not think he can feel my gaze, my sharp eyes piercing his blindness. He smiles gently, unbitterly as his far-reaching fingers translate shapes into colour, and contours into character. Where would I be without eyes? What would I do? How would I manage? Quite well, I imagine. Then, the boy draws back a little and, all of a sudden, spits at me. I am hurt and appeal to him for a reason. 'Your ego,' he says, 'I felt your ego.'

Monday, nearly the end of May

Letters to Peter, Clare, Didier, Colin, Oxford buses, Earth Exchange. Happy birthday greetings from Gwenda, Howard, Didier.

Who is Dannie Abse? Yesterday evening my mother showed me a book of his poems and one called 'Epithalium' - 'Today I married my white lady in a barley field'. Abse was a friend of my father, Fred. This evening I walked into Pentameters because I had nothing else to do, and the man himself was due to do a reading.

I have rejected the survey job in Oxford that I raced back from Plymouth for, but I have another interview with Interaction.

Paul K Lyons

June 1977


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