3 August

Today is M's birthday. Tomorrow is Joseph's birthday, and Harold's aunt's birthday. In a dream Claudia saw a bird pecking the eyes of another bird out. Why do I not go to Greece, and live in peace? Marielle beckons every day, towards her way. She calls me to come. I love her, I want her, but I don't miss her, not like other people I've people loved. Rosina becomes soft and lovely. I have paying guests in the flat drinking our coffee using our time.

6 August

Fowle's 'The Magus' gave me dreams, showed me the monotony of my life and the reality of my ignorances. I write a letter to Marielle, and as I write the words 'oh darling how I dream of falling into your arms' the telephone rings. Marielle whispers her tears to me. Time, distance and space are hurting me now. 'The Magus' gives me dreams of Greece, but I will not weep for Marielle.

The house is full of people: a Swede who snores and says 'ya', three sweet and gentle friends of Rosina, Peter and Isabel who are writing stories of their Indian travels and creaking the very small bed with their Arian bodies. Claudia left to stay with Terry and came back. She said Terry talked of love and magic.

Hampstead is such a tart - she paints herself bright and overly-chic. The cosy corner shops huddle well on the hills and seduce you as you stroll along her passageways; the windowplated cafes tempt you with smells of coffee and pastries; and the artists woo you with their potted beads and painted weeds.


Hurry us down laden with bread to the homecoming of the random woman
Who gasps with a petulant gasp
At the sight of the permanent mandatory past
Replying emotionally to a land of stagnant and coughing regret
Hands clasped demanding the solitary tear
Rewarding us the hopeful and diplomatic and patient
With a solitary smile, the cousin or child
To the moving expression betrayed early in thought
Give us reason indeed your worship to worship her worship
Hurry us down to distribute her parts among the demanding and demanding demandants
The ridiculous crowds who crawl and clamour to god for her hair
Petrify our hearts, release our derision
Prepare us well, well indeed to stand her lovely and in love
Her hunger beckons the romantic decrease of self, self interest and pity
Beware us with offering, the current produce and seasonal help
Prepare us to trust us to welcome the return of the most wanted and mad

9 August

Claudia bites at the air and snaps at her reflection in the mirror, tossing her hair from one side to the other, messing it, straightening it, playing with it. From the drawer she takes some face paints and, in an instant, is a clown. I begin to want her. She has lain in my bed but I have not touched her with spark or passion, just sympathy. Harold also wants to sleep in my bed tonight. I am fourteen again, my face is smooth and innocent. I tell him I'm afraid of his advances. Claudia washes her face and comes to bed. She is very near, I am not quite asleep, my hand touches her neck softly . . .

I am bored in the office. I take some hours off and distance myself from monotony. I read some mathematics and art and look at magic posters of a century or so ago - praise be to Houdini. I go to see Desmond Jones and the Silents.

10 August

Have you seen the Whirling Dervishers, we ask of strangers with their heads low, skulking through streets. We search, shout, peer, ask, pace the streets, M is desperate, but her anger is subdued. The Whirling Dervishers will not be found. M wonders if the place is difficult to find so that only those who do find it are the right ones. She expects to find a doorway, dark and dreary with a small sign 'All Saints Hall', and on pressing the bell a little magician will open the door and say 'Ah, you have arrived'. M is more honest about, and expectant of, her fantasies than I.

Am I worried to lead her to Kilburn where Claudia waits for my smile? The house is full, dinner awaits us, wine glasses are spread around the bottle. Claudia is playing the piano, she sings songs from the day, her heart beats a welcome in the rhythm. I would prefer to share my bed with M, but Claudia is here.

12 August

Strange thing to do on a Friday night, to fall in love with a smile seen two weeks ago (or was it one) across a crowded smoky room (yes, a smile across a crowded smoky room), one that lingered for longer than it should have done. Anne. My love for Anne conducted by atmosphere, me wishing to carry her off to satin sheets, but Claudia's eyes are here. I sneak touches and kisses and draw Anne closer with my eyes. Harold brings Monica home and plays games with her. Claudia paints a witch-doctor's face on me, energy comes and distorts my muscles. We dance with ritual rites and spasms. I go to play the recorder along, hoping wanting Anne to come, but Claudia comes. She looks at me expressionless. I run away, back to the object of my desire. Later, Anne leaves to catch a train. She cries on my shoulder promising to send photographs and poems.

14 August

A first fit of depression for ages. Sunday is so empty, so full of my own indecision, my own imprecision.

15 August

Did Claudia fall in love with Harold? Did Harold finally let Claudia fall in love with him? Claudia found her expressionless manner again last night. Colin went to France.

Get out, all you people. Don't dust me up in MY room, it's MY life you bums, stop crawling on MY walls, stop forgetting ME when you've left, stop seething all over MY kettle, and stealing pleasure in MY garden.

How frantic I am in the toilet! There's a man by my side at the urinal - oh my god! - he's sure to know I'm not pissing and sure to realise I can't piss because he's standing next to me and when he realises he's going to burst out laughing. Come on damn you prick, piss, you little lousy shit, piss piss. Fuck, he's finishing he's bound to see no urine running in the urinal, he's bound to know, oh fuck, I can't stand it, if he looks at me with eyes as if to say you little stupid little prick you can't pee can you. Oh no he's washing his hands, I can't stand here for ever. He's hanging around deliberately to make sure I really can't piss. He's laughing now. No, he's going. Phew! Now there's nobody watching, I can relieve myself, at last.

19 August

I went to the house of a friend only briefly, to wash my face, but I met this woman, S, and could not hold back desire. I said I wanted to stay, I want you, but I'm going home because you're drunk. Then suddenly she sobered up, and wanted to know why I didn't like drunks. She seduced me with a combination of soft childish nods and fast furious words in Spanish. She ordered me, very seriously, to examine a pair of child's shoes which she loved. I thought her seriousness was put on, but it wasn't. And the same with some photos, I was ordered to look at them 20-30 times, so as to examine every small detail. I fell under her spell. When I touched her gently, she bit me, my tongue, my lips, my shoulders, my arms. It was painful. She drove me mad with the pleasure of her smiles and the taste of her kisses. There was a moment - I am thinking of it now - when I thought she would not give herself to me, and my body was screaming with anguish and my mind was fighting for calm. But she did, and I have the marks to prove it.

20 August

I met my stepfather at Rosetti's. He bought me an orange juice and expected a conversation. I escaped to home to listen to Bartok. I slept. I smoked. I drank coffee. I looked for peace in the secret garden. Thinking I ought to go out tonight, I considered whether I should go to The Revolutionaries meeting, or visit the friend where S lives, or go to see 'Shout' in the cinema.

28 August

The Grand Union Canal beckoned me for a walk. I watched the fishermen study their lives on the ends of their noses and on their floats bobbing up and down. I watched them with their maggots and their empty nets and their different stools. I examined the barges and their names, laughing at the inappropriate and scorning the un-original (Harmony which was near derelict, and Moby Duck). I tried to hitch some barges but not very hard. I smiled a lot and strangers smiled back. I walked a long time but the towpath eventually went close to a motorway. How sweetly my recorder sounds beneath a motorway (it reminded me of 'The Green Child' by Herbert Reed, a novel about a strange world where knowledge of the geography is based on sounds not sight). As I was hitching back, the police arrested me, took me to a police station and interrogated me (someone had reported me as looking like the assailant in a rape case!). After my alibi was checked, I was given a lift to a good hitching point.

I found the most luscious blackberries and they made the most luscious apple and blackberry pie. Four and twenty blackbirds came to scoff it.

Paul K Lyons

September 1978



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