PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1979 - JANUARY
1 January 1979
Let me sum up 1978. I worked the whole year in market research, saved up some money, and took holidays in Amsterdam, Greece, Scotland. I moved from a spectator of theatre to a clown, enter Pici, and a workshop addict. I started living far more theatrically, far less afraid than before. I moved more wholeheartedly into silk-screen printing (old tribal patterns and regular division of plane geometry). Harold, Marielle, Rosina, Rosy moved into my life. Didier, Jean-Christophe and M continued as important friends, although the relationship with each changed. It was a marvellous summer with the flat full of lovers, but the winter has been colder more unfriendly. I sitll found it difficult to cope with the everyday banality of relationships. But I think I there was a significant change in my view of the world in that I developed a more respectful view of other people's lives. But, as always, there was a hardened dissatisfaction at my own way of life. Strong bonds with my family tempered well - even Melanie softened a little. I encountered dozens and dozens of people in the alternative world, but its appeal faded, and I become more materialistic. I think I grew up this year and actually did some real things. And now, what now - 1979. Will the child at last find some building blocks that he doesn't get bored with, will he fall into a meaningful partnership, will he find his ease with sex, will he write a play, will he sink or jive, accept or create, emphasise or fade?
I don't think I ever held your hand
So I never really found
If or when or why it should be cold
I never dabbled in your fingernails
I never pierced your palm with my breath
And never did I journey from fingertip to tip to fingertip
Yet another magical afternoon in the Secret Garden (The Hill, Hampstead Heath) on New Year's Day. The sky incandescently blue, the sun incandescently yellow - Breughel pictures coming to life all over Hampstead Heath. I, in a handsome trance, climb walls, tramp whimsical pathways and cawl through tunnels briared by dying thorns and hibernating ramblers. And, thus, alone in the garden - and dancing, dancing in the snow. It is almost undisturbed, the snow, sleeping, magical. Colours shine through the multigreens, outlined by brilliant white; shapes are highlighted and more roundly framed by the glistening powder. Like feathers the snow lies on the grass, tempting me to fall in and into a floating dream. Crystals sparkle and catch the sun. This is the hara-kiri of snowflakes which glisten once with the sun and then puff, no longer a venus but a tiny drop of glass. But how surprising that no women or men or children come or go. It is just the snow and me, and my ecstasy of life. I read Burnt Norton and East Coker out loud - a special production for an audience of snowflakes. How alive, how vibrant I am, dancing and reciting, and how uncaring of potential interruptions. My head does race to think about what I will do if someone enters, but no-one does. Garlic and sapphire in the mud; the children laughing in the bushes; and the stillness shall be the dancing; and in the end is my beginning; for hope would be hope for the wrong thing. Splendid, splendid, splendid. And then, finally, a warden discovers me and throws me out. He explains the gates are locked because there are no staff to clear the paths. Leave the way you came in, he says, in a friendly tone.
DIARY 11: January - May 1979
Pru dear, you dear, I don't really want to say anything dear, we should, yes dear, have a meeting, yes dear, next week dear, sweet Pru, business Pru dear, arrange it all Pru dear.
I love you mother when you come here and don't take off your coat because there ain't any central heating and it's just a little bit cold for you, but you sit and drink the weak tea and slowly fold back the screens on your childhood, and the poverty of those times. And you talk of your grandparents with vivid images - the square wooden table set for high tea; the candle you had to take to bed, because there was no electricity in the bedrooms; the one bath you were allowed each week, in front of a fire in a tin bath. And I love you when you say 'that was nice' so softly and then repeat it as if you are lost, trance-like in your memories; and when you tell stories of your grandfather who was a saddler and made dolls clothes, about he how he used to say 'Barbi, quick, fetch the scissors' because he'd sewn the old flabby loose skin of his knee to the cloth.
N is now in Amsterdam. Harold returns light and airy. We fly a little again, in old and new planes. We fasten safety belts to those that join us.
Letter to Frederic: 'England shivers under the cold spell of nature and the trade unions, I slowly poke my head out of hibernation. My head is covered with a beret, my neck warmed by a scarf. I am careful not to slip on the ice, or the snow, or the sludge. I wanted to write to you, tell you what I am doing, keep contact etc., aware that I shall find myself in New York before too long.
Perhaps I am the first to convey to you the bad news about the death of Paul Berant, once again. Will you be careful in future when you open envelopes from me. I believe he had a heart attack in the first week of January. Sasha had talked to him at Marlowe's New Year Party, and I was in the process of trying to contact him to see if he could give me some freelance interviewing work. Strange the cycles, the histories reminded to me, the atmospheres of my childhood jangled. Barbara battles, laughs, and smiles at the movement of Julian and Melanie from adolescence to adulthood. Melanie will live with Sasha as soon as his house is finished. Julian and Barbara will constantly change roles in their bid for security within the confines of Child's Hill and further. Do these details interest you?
Harold, a South African, takes refuge in my friendship, he it is who draws me out of the refuge of cushions I made close by the fire. We dance in the street afraid of no-one and no thing, we attract the old and the young, the beautiful and the Buddhist, we share lovers and compete for lovers. We fight about practical things and play with words. We love and despise, we cut and caress. For me it is a rare friendship. But now and here, he is important, so I mention him for you.
I gave up my work in market research, the future was too bland and full of compromises. I saved some money and now I work on two projects that I've challenged myself with. One is to write, and the other is to set up a Learning Exchange which is a sort of contact and information centre. Both projects have been on my mind some time, and I shan't remove them without at least giving them a try.
The flat is littered with socks and shoes, cushions and ashtrays. It is a problem to keep warm at the moment. In the front room an Australian couple stay. Harvey is a photographer and artist. I told him about you because he has just spent a year or two in New York. He also photographs, sculptures, and publishes his own books. His plans and skills are so far ahead of my own. They look for a place to live in London but meanwhile hide away all day in their arctic sleeping bags in the front room. Even the bath water is tepid.
This house has been bought by a young surveyor. He has converted (is converting, I hear the hammers and drills of builders at eight in the morning, even on Sunday) the house into three flats and is moving to evict me. I shall probably be able to hang on another three months. Then, maybe, to live in Paris or Naples. I am unsure of what to do - living quarters in London are at such a premium.
Perhaps I bore you. I send my love and regards as ever to you and Gail.'
I rest this gentle day, lying stretched out on my purple bed. Conversation filters through like a gentle breeze. A Mahler melody, a stronger wind, plays hop scotch with the talk. A constant hum rises from the heater.
I pee a lot this afternoon; perhaps it's the tea. I feel quite free and soft and tired, a little weak. I don't write, it seems the days disappear in a fright - not too much light, just that reflected off the snow. Noeline and Harvey have to snuggle under their arctic blankets. Harold dries towels on the grill at a different time from the sausages.
A chimney sweep came with his brushes and spattered soot every which way over the carpet, and the coals still don't burn. Meanwhile, lorries play truant and fail to deliver the propane I need for the gas fire. And then the cistern broke loose, and went for a walk in the snow. I had to hop around frozen for an hour to chain it up again, and keep it flush on the wall. This is the light and greyer blues of our lives. Four people came on Friday night, one stayed. Two people came on Saturday, and one on Sunday.
Don't want strength
Don't want weakness
Rather find your lies
Get that feeling when I stare That you're not really there
Cute, not yet wild
Younger far than the night
When he desires
Singing and tingling We should find you between us, under our wing
Is this a history book? Is the record of passing days an important present to my future. Where is Marielle?
Gerald Yorke enthralled me for hours. He told me tales to make the blood curdle. We took tea in the drawing room: marmalade sandwiches, biscuits and tea, no sugar. The man of means took trouble with his words but his laugh rocked me off balance. He seemed pleased that I wasn't just another occult freak, but dismayed that I wasn't a Thelemite. He said he had intended once to walk across to China, but found marriage better for his feet. My Aleister Crowley play project moves one step forward. Will, I ever start to write. Yorke told me that Snoo Wilson has already written a play on Crowley, a farce. I had to explain that I'd never written a play before, but that it was simply a challenge I'd set myself.
Paul K Lyons
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