Monday 6 March

Sunday morning I made love with A. I painted some in the room. Colin came round. I had a drink with Dad and Julian. I went to the Garden and played the recorder in the concrete room of echoes with the sunlight falling on melodies hiding in the shadows. After a slow walk back to the flat I did some more painting. M came. We got stoned and danced and talked a little, then, on bicycles, we went to visit my mother, and stopped in a pub on the way back. M went home. I went home. I felt very low, and went for another slow walk. Did some more painting, watched a fairy tale film, and discovered that four way rotation doesn't regularly divide the plane. All that in a day and I am still not well with my soul. I'm smoking, eating, drinking coffee too much.

Sombre, aged, small and round, the little old man carefully, methodically, steps down from the front doorway of his house. It is past midnight. He moves very slowly, between the rows of parked cars, to cross the road. At a lighted window high above, a curtain is dawn back and the profile of a woman appears. She is looking down, at her man as he leaves on some mission. He crosses the road safely and makes his way along the opposite pavement. The curtain falls across the window and the woman retires to an armchair perhaps to await his return.

After an extremely interesting lecture on Sheerealism by Neil Hornick, a beautiful creature - an object of desire - led me to a mime class. But she was dressed in a cold, cold coat, too blue, too icy to touch.

I went to a party with many old friends from Hoddesdon. A came with me and acted very respectably. I'm glad I stayed sober because otherwise I might have been tempted to play silly games. Nevertheless, even the most honest conversation I had may have been a little tongue-in-cheek. John is a lovely character but he tries so hard to be funny that it's difficult to laugh when he really is funny. Sue hasn't changed much, nor Joy. I am surprised that Sue hasn't become more extrovert. Jo still holds some charm, but is older, soft spoken, subdued - very wifey.


From a play The Bodies I saw with Anne last Thursday there was some small comment by this very superior boy in a class to his teacher. They were talking about the style of love poems. The smart alec asked if it was better to talk about the style of poems, to write the love poems, or to make love.

From a book The Counterfeiters by Gide, the central character or one of them says in a moment when being asked by a close friend to present him with some article for the first edition of his new magazine: ' . . . writing prevents one from living, and that one can express oneself better by acts than words.'

Experiencing has been a head topic for a while, all these things I'm doing and wanting to do, always yet clouded by thoughts of 'fuck what the hell am I doing reading, writing, drawing, going to the theatre, surely it is more proud, more necessary, more exigent. So what the fuck, I am just passing days in a cloudy subconscious desire BUT what have I been doing for three years but experiencing feeling - that can't go on for ever, come on Paul Lyons you are more together than that.

I was walking in St James's Park as usual today, feeling good, feeling like communicating with everything, opening myself into a big smile. But now I feel tears as I reread the diary of my relations with M. It makes me sad still to think about how very intense it was. And I was thinking about the way I examine myself and end up enveloping myself in whatever misery I can find rather than just getting on with life. Maybe I prefer to be melancholy. Is it possible I have a streak of masochism - a pool of self-pity I like to splash in from time to time? Am I too afraid just to let go and not notice life, time passing by? Is there something essential inside me which says it is better to feel melancholy and depressed than not to feel anything?

Pete Seeger in concert at the Albert Hall. I was shaking my head from one side to the other but all the other thousands of people in the hall were motionless, the whole balcony full of people, it as still and fixed as a bicycle (I meant to write, as fixed as a balcony).

Skinner is talking about raising children, and he is talking about raising them SUCCESSFULLY. It seems a very strange word. I am not sure I would like a world full of Skinner kids - it would conform with Huxley's hell, perfect fascism.


My first sunset of 78. I am gently rolling along the scattered trees of Hyde Park, freewheeling on cycle lanes between the trees watching the light scatter yellow into dusk.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself (for who more foolish than I, and who more faith less?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renewed
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, oh me!, so sad, recurring - What good amid these, Oh me, Oh life?
Answer: That you are here - that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman


I couldn't decide whether to plant myself in for the evening, to talk to Colin, Harold etc or to cycle back to A's as I had arranged - so I dithered and dithered. I played a joke and then fled just as the people I wanted to talk to came back and of course when I got to A's place she wasn't there. I asked a French girl out spontaneously and was rejected, and a German girl wasn't interested in me. Pam always has a sad face now when she sees me. Didier is beautifully in love. My flat mate, Se, never comes home - so he's having a good time. Jean has a million things going right. I am alone in my home, having dithered too much tonight.


This book is an amazing labyrinth of introspection. Looking at the diary before last, I find it full of symbolism, stories, poems, ideas from books read. Now all I seem to be able to do is pity myself with endless introspection. I am smoking too much, drinking too many teas and coffees. I am degenerating into a wreck, an emotional wreck.

Monday 13 March

Got quite stoned with Se last night. Before we got stoned he told me he had fallen in love with a woman but that she had subtly - that was the word he used - passed him on to her friend, a man. And now Se thinks he's in love with that man. We created characters from cushions and stories from music. I was always asking questions, leading Se's imagination and joining it sometimes, and then letting him lead me with verbal descriptions of his imagination. With one piece of music we interpreted it differently and then Se psychoanalysed my interpretation. I tried to ask him if two people could have the same thought at the same time, but I felt he couldn't understand what I was trying to say. I also told him about being able to see my pulse through light refraction - but he was completely disinterested. Se went to satisfy his hunger, and later I watched Bruce Nicholson as Hamlet.

Tuesday 14 March

I must love sitting in cafes waiting for something scintillating to happen. This would be all very well if I were the sort of person to attract the scintillating, but if I'm not then it's pretty pointless. What does scintillating mean any way?

Sunday 19 March

A welcome letter from Christian in Chile.

I remember standing in the front room amidst all the junk and thinking I'll never clear this out. But I set myself the task of doing it, and today I am rewarded: it is a large usable sitting room. I've used odd bits of curtain to cover the chairs, and I've created a corner cupboard to store some of the junk.

21 March

It is the first day of spring. Easter cometh, not unlike the gasman, and complicated plans to flee to Scotland. In my head I formulate a letter to Frederic.

Good Friday

I am messing around at Action Space using a borrowed pen to write my diary, and waiting for a candle to flicker to an end. What am I waiting for? Let's go to Scotland to whiskey, to castles mirrored in Edinburgh water, past Glasgow, to lochs, to Inverness in twilight. Feel the snow, the cold, the biting wind, biting through red cheeks until the teeth click and chatter alone in the highlands of the night. Precious Scotland can you feel the cold, let's go, blessed land in the north, let's to Loch Dumbar to find the firth of my desires. What are we waiting for? Rugged coasts waiting, islands even, harbours, let us go to Scotland, John of Groats, Skye, Arran, Ness, Loch, cold and wait for me, go now, go to Scotland.

Even my head starts to hurt with the candle light and the waiting. I am glad I am not thinking very hard at the moment about disappeared whispers or a soldier's head by the wayside in Belfast, or the mountain trails in the Andes, or war in Eritrea or the music I never had, or the stony white pages to the end of this journal.

Lake Windermere. After so many years, it is a pleasure to find myself once again in the Lake District. Although the dawn was grey, threateningly thunderous, cold and wet, the colours of the hills that disappeared into white mountains were beautiful, as is the rusty brown of leaves and moss left over from autumn and the essence of a feeling of the new beginning, the greening grass and the buds ready. Ullswater was a surprise. It is almost houseless. I am reminded of lakes in NZ and Chile.

27 March 1978

The tiredness of the traveller. I wash my face with the warmth of exhaustion. The day was alive with so many things, discovered waterfalls, dives into whirling pools, church services of flute music and psalms, ski-ing on snow in gales, and blizzards leaving hail-marks on the skin.


In the Shetland Isles each person, it seems, has a peat working. There is a peat digging season (I think it starts in April), and the peat is put to dry in the sun. Some diggers will remove the top layer carefully and replace it afterwards so as not to spoil the landscape. The dry peat is then used for burning in hearths to provide heat. Apparently, the peat has a pleasant smell, which is employed in the smoking of some whiskeys).

I am back in the city. St James's Park is full of sun and people that travel to Greece, to Morocco, to Bombay and Sudan. Rucksacks lie on the grass, daffodils watch them. I AM a lover. I AM a walker, a traveller, a restless irony, a seashell swirling in waves, or a firefly on a mountainside before dawn.

Pizzaland. Fiz. Liza won't you fizz with me in Pizzaland. How often in a year do I go to a restaurant and eat alone - it's a pretty fuzzy thing to do. Hizz hizz.

Paul K Lyons

April 1978



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