PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1979 - FEBRUARY
Monday, early February
Time singes my head, stutters. Not quite sure what I shall do. One month over, the month passes by. And soon we must move. I don't learn poetry, I don't write, I don't juggle. Mozart crackles for the fifth time in ever decreasing circles. Why so low now, why? Fuck my rhythms, the cold, the inattitude.
But Manzi lightens my loads, touches me softly. Do we delight, do we spark?
Who was it dirtied my carpet this weekend, friends of Anne? friends of Noeline? I met up with Rosy's crowd, including the magnificently loud Larry. He is lonely and wants someone to hold. He laughs with a grunt-cackle, which is funny in itself. His overpowering character fills every silence, filling my paper here. But he goes too far, leaves no room for anyone else. Apparently, he is married to an heiress who is 73 years old. They live in a tiny purple room with red neon lights.
Every smell, every sight, every sound reminds me of other long forgotten times. Here and now and in England, in an English folk club, I am transported back to Dunedin, New Zealand, where I used to go The Enterprise. Now, in The Empress of Russia, with its murky ceiling and crinkly wallpaper. A polished wood bar serves Adnams, no less, from barrells - folk music and real ale go together like cottage and cheese. The chairs, though, are made of red metal frames with canvas for seats; the curtains mingle dull cherry red with dull cream. The audience wear duffel coats, browns and greens, walking boots, scarves. Lights up, chatter starts, cigarettes are lit; the compere takes a break for Adnams, he's sung twice and will sing again I'm sure. I fight my way out of the heat and smoke and descend to the bar below to watch a game of poker dice.
6 February 1979
THE DDs (continued)
Arif sports a fat moustache, and dominates conversation: 'I'm not trying to head bash', and 'I'm finding it very very difficult to communicate'. His eyes fall to the ground or fly high to the ceiling in search of words at the back of his head. He reiterates the words of others, reemphasises them. This is his show, he will control it, he will make a spectacle, he will complicate the lives of all. 'Ssh, ssh, ssh', he says to control someone else's interruption, and then interrupts himself five seconds later. Carol is here, Nicho is here, Mary is here, asking people (in February) if they had a good Christmas. Peter is quiet and dry as ever, bored by the proceedings. Pru keeps control.
Today is the trial of four defendants - Jismi, Tony Allan, Jonathan Graham and Alan Boyd. They were arrested and charged with causing an obstruction to the highway. Court Four at the Wells St. Magistrate's Court is a fountain of wood panelling. The judge has a built in desk raised above the rest. The scribe and secretary sit below him, silent and powerless, seemingly content with their lot. And there in dark seats are the Leicester Square Four, young eccentric and fearless challengers of the law. The judge is firm and fair with a sense of humour. He makes all this clear to the court by making fun of both the police and the defendants. The young, almost adolescent, policeman and woman are tense and alert in their starched uniforms. They have prepared well and corroborated their stories. A good defence, though, would have had them both in tears. Jismi is out to upset. He plays with his proud hair, and tells the court how he dislikes NOT being talked about. Jonathan is a goat, he prances and prattles around. His confusion is obvious. Only Tony, I feel, is on top of the situation, and is able to challenge the prosecution. The prosecution proves to be cool and generous, but the judge wins the day by, not only, keeping the court under excellent control without being condescending, by being funny without being carefree, and fair without pretentions. At 4:30, he gave the defendants a five minute lecture, advising them very strongly to get a lawyer.The case continues on 15 May.
Reporting on the dustbin men strike, our intrepid reporter, Brimming Chatterworth, has discovered a positive angle: a fresh challenge for mountaineers. A whole new branch of the ancient sport is now developing. New equipment is needed, and new strategies. New clubs for rubbisheers (as they've been nicknamed) are starting up everywhere. Already, the cardboard box has become one of the main subjects for debate, because 97% of them cannot hold the weight of a man. Of course, if a cardboard box is filled with empty cans it can serve as a great aid, but if it is full of tissues or toilet paper, traversing it requires great skill. Wooden boxes, I am told, tend to be safer objects although they are more deceptive and can give way without any warning. The world's expert at glissading down black plastic bags told Chatterworth to ask our reader to fill their plastic bags with ostrich feathers if that's at all possible.
I noticed the lack of perfection in the world today - from the top of a bus. All the potholes in the road, all the mis-matched white lines, all the roads floundering in search of a way. If I was in charge, I wouldn't let such disorder proceed. I would keep the lines white, bright white, brilliant white. Every manhole would be sightly, potholes would be filled in a trice, without regard to the price.
Marielle writes, Marielle phones, Marielle comes.
Tuesday 13 February
I huddle close in by the fire, close by the burning coals, as winter storms on, winter rages on. My position in this flat becomes clearer. From the moment the real tenants (i.e. my friends, the Pipers) receive notice to quit, there are four weeks before the owner of the house, Altman, can apply for a court hearing. Such a hearing would normally take six weeks, and then the court may give anything between one and 28 days for us to leave. If the Pipers come back, Altman could not eject them, at least not without great difficulty. So, I have three months. Can I write a play in that time? Mendelssohn plays his songs without words. The builders ferret away in the hallway. Bird twitter in fear of twilight.
Pushing myself to get two or three pages of Crowley's life written each day. The clickety clack of the typewriter seems to be the secondary thing that I do between the cleaning and the cooking and the talking or the playing. The translation of my imagination into scenes on paper is the most difficult - creating characters, working with them, showing them up through conversations. Then there is the swamp of stage directions that are the length of a novel in themselves. In capital letters stand out bold. And now, with a new ribbon in the clickety-clack machine, their blackness is overwhelming. How can I will myself to work eight-ten hours a day when the ideas run out. I have to search all the books for the next scene or spark of talk. I resort to a cigarette or cup of coffee or leave the house. Today, for example, I went to the Warburg and spent two hours submerge in Crowley in Therion, in The Beast 666, in the Great Hand of Boleskine. I handled some manuscripts typed by Leah Hirsig - 'Record of the Abbey of Thelema'. She describes in detail the incidents relating to Betty May's expulsion from the Abbey. It's perfect. There was also a folder with letters written to and from AC, some about blackmail, money and debts. I touched with care AC's magical (or drug) record for a period of two weeks at Fontainebleu in March 1922. In intricate detail, he recorded the times and amounts of cocaine and heroin he took. He also recorded conversations with himself, justifying the next dose, and how he felt he should be able to use drugs forever without becoming addicted, but nevertheless intended to wean himself off them. He noted. for example, how he would excuse an extra does of heroin because it soothed his asthma. He does continue to fascinate me, and I would like to get access to more of his papers.
Manzi is around often, loving, removing cares, making me happy. I am content to be infatuated with her youth, her beauty. She has accepted the coming of Marielle with apparent grace and selflessness. I love her as I can.
EXTRA-ORDINARY COINCIDENCE NO 3493
While working at the Phantom Captain's secondhand bookshop I decided to check the prices of the books. I check two books and find no price in them, so then I move to a different shelf and pick out one book. There, on the inside cover, I find the inscription: 'PRESENTED TO PAUL LYONS, FOR OBTAINING THIRD HIGHEST MARKS, KING'S OWN CAMP, AUGUST 1965.' The price is a meagre 10p.
Paul K Lyons
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