6 August 1980

Summer is well and truly here and nearly gone. I am almost settled into 21 Iverson Road (nearly finished the redecoration). Colin was a star in helping me move. I am sitting in my new study, on my new chair, staring at these blank pages. Very uncertain of what and where and who.

Softness and sweetness of three days together with Bel. But afterwards came tears came and feelings of guilt, and our goodbyes were full of 'do you think we should see each other again?' and 'please, please don't write to me'. Bel, Bel I would give you more if I could, if I only could.


Rosina hasn't been around for three or four days. Harvey was my only visitor. We walked through from Edgware Road to Tottenham Court Road. Basically, unexcited, uninterested, terminating the night with some trad jazz and closed coffee bars. Saturday night. And Sunday I spent alone finishing 'Fragments from The Dancer' and 'Valerie's Young Life'. I also spent four or five hours developing a bad film and some lousy prints.

19 August

Days blow over. August winds blew me north with Rosina and Harvey in a hired car, to do a few interviews for MORI, and visit some friends.

We went to the LYC gallery where Harvey wants to convert a gallery with his landscapes, have his name on a brochure - 19 + 1/2 = Harvey Shields.

We visited Harvey's artist friends James and Sarah Hugonin. James says: 'What I'm trying to do is give colour a life of its own - make it stand out and yet integrate it with the paper.' Not exactly his words. His wife Sarah plays with angles and line. In their whitewashed mansion of a house, terraced but huge, they stack away their masterpieces in upstairs rooms. There are three for storing paintings. So much space to paint it makes me feel quite faint. So much white it affects my sight. As James showed us his paintings I was struck by the similarity they had with the mottled woven blinds covering the windows, indeed the latter seemed to have more form and life in them than the paintings. Furthermore, in the lounge, a series of framed rectangles hung on the wall looked no different to the patterns made by a blind hung down over the rectangular windowed door.

Then there was Peter Dick in Coxwold, north of York, who runs an very unpretentious pottery, which is extremely well-established and well-known. He is an unprepossessing person, tending to the intellectual, and completely unlike Rosina's long-haired friend Rob, a left-over from the 60s, who works for him. Coxwold is a beautiful village; nearby is Newburgh Priory owned by Captain Wombwell. The estate owns most of the local villages although small pockets (such as the pottery area and the school) have been sold off in the past to pay death duties. Apparently the priory was the home of the heads of the church: the managing directors of the abbeys (well-preserved ruins of Rivieux, Bylands and Fountain are not too far away).

For some contrast to the desolate moors and picturesque ruins, I took Harvey, Rob and Rosina to Scarborough for fish and chips and seaside rock. There were hoards of people (the fully-dressed man on the sand), fruit machines, donkeys, post-war boom monster hotels, ice-creams, clairvoyants, a spa pavilion, and the flat characterless sands. Rob and Rosina hitched back to York, while Harvey and I cut up the coast to Whitby and the Esk Valley, visiting such places as Great Ayton and Fryup.

While travelling in the car I talk about my career troubles with Harvey, about my wants and needs and my capabilities. He says: why not try journalism. I say: what a good idea, yes I think I'll be a journalist.

Tuesday 26 August

Jim, one of my travelling companions from South America, sends me old words that make me cry - the words of the New Zealand poet Baxter I used to carry around with me: Upon the upland road, Ride easy stranger, Surrender to the sky, Your heart of anger

Another month gone by and I am no nearer restoring my fortunes. Rosina leaves in a few days and probably won't return. She'll be the last of my foreign friends to have returned to where they came from. I've been back from my travels almost three and a half years, and I still only have a very small core of English friends. I'm not very clever or interesting or pretty or special in any way whatsoever. God help me!

Paul K Lyons

September 1980



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