Monday 1 June 1980

I walk around Amsterdam watching happy pretty couples, looking into attractive apartments. I have expectations for myself now. In one breath, I realise how much better off many people are than me. I find it difficult to conceive of myself in love, making love, losing myself to the ways of the world. Momentarily, I think of what I have facing me, back in London - my life there seems so grey, forlorn.

Two nights without love. Annamieke translated Hauser Orkater for me, and then we talked until 2 or 3 in the morning. She left me with warm soft kisses, but I did not ask to take her home. Why? And then, last night, I was in bed with a green-haired sweetheart, but I did not gently move over to stroke her arm or kiss her back. Why? Was I scared of rejection. If I was then I understood that's the way it has to be at the moment. Of course, a fuck would be nice, but it's only a minor piece in the puzzle. I do not justify my behaviour I just try to explain it.

3 June, Brighton

I imagine a story called Annamieke: a night drugged or drunk spent with a princess; a face left imprinted on the memory, flickering in flames, reflected in the water, disappearing on a barge along the canal - forever there in the distance, fading; obsession with finding this woman; a gang of pickpockets, the leader with a white cane; etc What would I want to say? About cameras, about the showiness of Amsterdam, the endless theme of love-hunting?

N plays in gardens, singing songs for Chile, Peru, El Salvador etc. She now cleans in kitchens, trapped by Spanish to her colleagues in Den Haag, Rotterdam, Leiden. Does she really play? or has she forgotten how to play? N grows old, fades with her Chilean identity. Her talking, walking, smiling all seem less natural now. I read through my diary of our history, from Horcon to Santiago to Buenos Aires to Buzios and to B.A. again, all the trials of my ego and sex, all my pride and ugliness. What did I expect from seeing her again after all years? N, N, N what more can I say. (Several weeks ago I commented on how I had wept in a woman's arms for the first time. Yet, I've now found exactly the same comment in my 1976-1977 diaries, from the time with N!)

What was Amsterdam, I say to myself, a mindless holiday. My life continues blankly on. I read 'Great Expectations', nothing could be more appropriate. I am in Brighton because Rosie's father is going to teach me about relaxation, to try and cure me of my nervousness. I have to return to London early tomorrow morning for to interviews MPs for MORI.

6 June 1980

So many things going on in my brain. I still weep. The utter emptiness continues. Rosina and I talk and touch a little, it doesn't help. I make vows such as to eat properly, to exercise, to reduce my expectations. Slight remarks hit home. Esther says how lucky she was that Bob gave her the chance to start another career. Boom, boom. A career. A career. I have to realise how much I've messed around. I either continue to mess around or start at the bottom doing something less boring than market research. An article in 'Time Out' by Gordon Williams tells of his conversion from alcohol to a saner way of life. In passing he says how unsatisfied money and fame always left him. He talks of his slow decline during his forties, realising that half his life was gone. How can I strive for anything when I know it will leave me empty? And so on. These thoughts go on, forever, and, at the same time, I know I am wasting the time that I deem so precious.

Two photographs. A Japanese woman tourist in Amsterdam holding under her arm Bartholomew's Map of the World. An old fat woman with dirty skin and dirty clothes in St James Park sitting on a bench. One fat thigh strains across the other, and her short skirt sits up around her waist like a belt. She picks her nails. On the ground, scattered by the one foot that rests there, are numerous hazelnut shells.

Sunday 8 June

Through the window, I see two teenagers clean a car, but they are spending more time hosing each other with the water than the car. Such jollity. I am not sure what to do with myself. I feel tears welling up inside of me yet again. Here they come.

Thursday 11 June

Another MP doesn't show up for his appointment to be interviewed for a MORI survey. I sit in the office, my bowels loosened by coffee, my mind still slowly spiralling down. I am bombarded a hundred times a day with direct and indirect stimulations, but none of them mean a thing. I read the newspapers and immediately forget what I have read. I watch people in the street and forget their faces and the thoughts I had about their faces. The only fixed path through the marsh of my grey cells is the one I have trammelled so many times: what am I going to do tomorrow?

I read an article about a girl in Portugal brought up in a chicken coop. At the age of ten she only knows how to eat and talk like a chicken.

I tell Sasha about my depression. He understands. We don't dwell on it. It is the same as if I told him about a new girlfriend.

Peter electrifies the air. He arrives in Leyton with his fidgety fingers, his nervous eyes, his clever tongue. His girlfriend, Flavia, has run away, to her home in Italy. Whole histories happen to Peter each day. He collects friends and uses them as tools for conversation. Sometimes he is playing, and sometimes he is gone, and sometimes he is vulnerable to a game of ignorance. But he lacks respect for things or people, which makes him difficult. He leaves Rosina's room, for example, a complete mess; he tries to borrow money constantly; he tries to walk off with my poncho; he drinks all the coffee in the house and throws his cigarette ends on the floor. His mind is a phenomenon, his character is magnetic. He seems to know instinctively what people like and what they enjoy talking about. He is geared to charm, everybody and anybody. Rosy falls a little in love with him, he falls passionately for her.. Twice we go out together and twice we come home with the address of a girl we've met. The streets are once again fun with him, but it is an effort. Constantly, I want to sink back into the corner of my bed, and cry. Still nothing comes together. I know I must reduce my expectations, but still I battle on to retain status.

Time wounds all healers.

Friday 20 June

And then there was an evening in King's Cross when I was magic again. Not a flimsy ten minutes or half hour, but a whole evening of sustained magic. We all went to a local dance with a band (come all the way from Coventry). There was Stella, the artist, Valerie, the dancer and artist's model, and Bessy and Jean. There was also another couple, Americans, who I exhausted with talk of twins and genetics. They went home, leaving me and four women. Stella fell in love; Valerie couldn't dance to the boring beat; Bessy and I discovered we'd both been to Burma; and I twirled teacloths around with Jean. And then, later, much later, rose petal tea was made. I walked Stella home, pecked her on the cheek, and returned to a night of love and love stories with Valerie. That night of magic helped me restore a certain amount of faith in myself. I haven't cried since Monday!

Plays, stories, applications for jobs, courses, everything still is a dead end. There are so many dead ends in the world. At the King's Cross squat, I put together a photographic dark room slowly - it's about the only positive thing I am doing. I continue to spend too much money at Christie auctions on beautiful bits and pieces. (I talked a little to refined lady at the last one. She seemed to be only buying nightdresses! What dribs and drabs these are of my life.

I was riding on the bicycle, scavenging skips, and found myself in a part of town I didn't know. Suddenly, just for a brief moment, I experienced the thrill of discovering new parks and streets, and the endless possibilities of life became apparent again.

I love the sunlight between rainstorms. It gives me a sense of adventure.

Sunday 22 June

Last night, Saturday night, I found myself wandering around the King's Cross squat looking for somebody - anybody- but they'd all gone to proper houses for supper. Later Peter sewed Red, and I saw Blue. Valerie talked little, perhaps she was upset. What was I doing there? Hoping for love and affection for a few hours. Why was I rubbing my forehead, Stella asked. I could only reply: 'It's that sort of year.'

Thursday June 26

And Flavia took an overdose. She returned from Italy and took an overdose. At the hospital in Brighton they pumped her stomach. Was she really pregnant? Is she still pregnant? Did she really try to die? or was it just a shout for help? Unanswered questions flit across my brain. Rosy and Peter are so concerned, all luvvy duvvy concerned, she in her world of 'interesting' people and he in his fifty-ninth childhood.

Paul K Lyons

July 1980



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