5 December 1982

Shostakovitch 15 tinkles and trumpets my Sunday morning.

The year begins to pull down its blinds. There is little left to see through the window but cold rain. Cycling to Victoria is a chore in winter. I need so many layers to be warm at the start, but then the body warms itself quickly inside and I feel overdressed. Traffic is more prone to congestion; and I can see the clouds of poison as I cycle through them. I can cope with the cold and rain, it's icy wind and time that defeat me.

It has been a fairly hyper week. I think I go through monthly cycles. In the past I have tried to monitor this by recording an index, between of 1 and 10, to mark my overall well being taking into account, rather out of account, as many external factors as possible. It wasn't easy remembering to record a mark, nor to be clear about what my well being level was, but it seemed that I operated on a four week cycle roughly - one week hyper, two weeks ordinary and one week depressed.

New house, new job, new Paul. Help. Can I watch the changing process. I spent the whole of my 20s in Bohemia and now I'm racing like a pigeon to deliver the message to myself that I'm growing up into the real world.

I tell everybody about my new job. Sometimes they ring me at the office, and I am embarrassed because my colleagues don't know yet. I have so wanted to tell Tony all week, but am holding back because I've yet to get the offer in writing. For the first time, I explain carefully to friends what job I do. I am more confident these days, holding people's stares and conversations.

Norman St John Stevas won a ballot straw to present his private bill to Parliament. It concerns parliamentary reform - returning some of the power base back from prime minister to parliament. Absolutely everyone is talking about it.

I listen to 'Desert Island Discs'. One of Helen Mirren's choices is Billie Holliday singing 'Moths to a Flame'; as her one luxury, she would take a very expensive set of silk underwear to the island. The programme can be very revealing although some of the time I switch of, not caring for the revelations of ancient flautists or opera singers.

I spent about six hours in my little darkroom last night trying to develope photos of the church on the corner which is being pulled down. The roof is off now and all the windows have gone. It's such a time consuming business, but I should remember Peter Kavanagh's advice and be happy if I get one good photo after a couple of hours.

This afternoon I went to Lisette and Iver's for a brunch. It is exactly 40 weeks since conception and their baby is due. We ate bagels and lox, and then poached eggs with ham and hollandaise sauce on muffins. This was certainly Iver's idea, and he had gone to a lot of trouble. After quite a few joints and screwdrivers, he asked why he had spent so much money when the baby wasn't going to appear. Lisette is young and attractive and Iver is much older and already has several children scattered round the world. I wonder if Lisette would have preferred a quiet time waiting for the baby. And, if she had actually gone into labour as Iver wanted, surely she couldn't have wanted to be surrounded by people. Maybe I'm wrong.

I notice I am doing a lot of favours for people currently. Designing and photocopying invitations for the Stockwell party; typing cvs for Patrick; typing cvs for Vonny; selling a car for the Dutchman; fetching car parts for Claudia; and not enough I say, not enough.

During the week I spent an evening with Michael Tippett - well sort of. Actually Luke and I were taking a quiet supper in a new coffee bar at the back of a Covent Garden gift store. Luke was surprised to see him queueing up for food alone; but the he went to sit in the company of all sorts of people. I imagined who some of them were: an eminent musicologist, he in the black suit contrasting so well with the wrinkled folds of red forehead skin curling over the top of his glasses. A public relations organiser with a smart sharp nose, and a smart starched suit fitting tightly. A young genius composer, probably apprenticed to Tippett, his hair swept back in waves of madness. A lady flautist with perfect features on an oval madonna face.

Summary of my week: Monday evening I saw Ros and Jane; Tuesday Luke; Wednesday Raoul and Vonny; went dancing on Thursday; did photography on Saturday; and spend Sunday with Bel.

Tuesday 7 December

Ivan Greenwold went to see 13 Aldershot Road on Monday. He approved the purchase, and suggested we offer £38,000. The owners came down to £40,000 and we accepted. Now all that remains is for me to raise the finance. I should be able to get a £25,000 mortgage on a salary of £10,000 which will cost me in the region of £200 a month. How Dad and I will organise the other £15,000 I don't know. It seems a lot of money. Then, on top of the mortgage there are the rates to pay; and of course I'll have to furnish the place. I'm afraid I'm taking on too much. And I mustn't get excited because so many things could still go wrong.

By accident we caught the London Bridge train back from Sutton. In the forecourt of London Bridge Station, Vic Oddens advertises Cibachrome developing for £4.50 for 10x8s. That sounds good! For £100 I could have 20 prints of my favourites slides.

An oldish man came up to me in Sutton High Street grinning, he winked and told me what a great cap I had on. (I was wearing my favourite combination, red jacket, red scarf and red cap.)

I read an Ian McEwan TV play entitled 'Solid Geometry'. It was partly inspired by a Chilean mathematician. (I actually met a Chilean mathematician the other night at a party given by The Three Women theatre group!) It's a clever idea about a plane without a surface and characters in three different times tying themselves into a knot and disappearing from reality. It was produced by the BBC but banned at the last minute and became a cause celebre for 10 days.

Summary of my week: to see Mum and Uncle Dave on Monday; Tuesday, exhibition with Sooz & Clare; Wednesday, the ICA with Ros and Ian; to Aldeburgh on Thursday; Friday in Great Yarmouth.

12 December

Summary of my week: Monday, to the theatre with Dad; Tuesday - business do at Cheddar Cheese; Wednesday - with Raoul; Thursday - 'Rake's Progress' with Luke; Friday - at home with Bel, writing cards; Saturday - Jane's party; Sunday - at home.

Monday 20 December

Only ten days to go to the end of the show, only five days to the show itself. Crumbs and crackers. There is so much excitement everywhere, in the tube, on the streets, in the shops. I had to queue in Sainsbury's for two days in order to pay for a pack of Polos. Shops are recording record spending. Estate agents say it is the busiest December in 12 years. Where is all the money coming from?

There is a tall box wrapped and gifted sitting in my bedroom which Bel left there today. She also left flowers and fed my little Shakespeare books with hide food. She left her love sprinkled through my rooms. Bel accepts and gives and loves me like a child and a mother. Perhaps I do not know how to love or be loved in any other way. Perhaps no one does.

I go to the Nationwide building society to move ahead on securing a mortgage loan. They need to know about my endowment policy. I can't help associating endowment policies with old widows - cobwebs and pensions - but Dad assures me I should have one. I take his advice for I know nothing of these matters. But what will £100,000 be worth in 25 years time. They should be called help-yourself-to-a-bit-extra-if-inflation-doesn't-get-you-first policies. How quickly the papers build up. I wonder if I really know what I'm doing - buying a house.

Tuesday 21 December

What an interesting talk with my doctor - Dr Richman. I woke up the other night scratching my head, and decided it was time to go the doctor about the problem again. He wanted to talk about the causes underlying the scratching, as well as my teeth grinding and headaches. I became afraid and tense as I tried to anticipate where his questions might be leading. During my last visit I may have suggested psychological connections but he dismissed the idea. This time, though, he suggested my symptoms were caused by inner tension, and agreed that my upbringing might be to blame for a lack of confidence. He suggested I have a practical plan at the ready whenever I wanted to indulge in self-analysis. He also recommended relaxation techniques such as yoga. We talked of psychoanalysis. I told him I didn't see how it could do any good. He said such treatment implies change but that he didn't think I needed changing. Perhaps, he felt, I should go on scratching.

Wednesday 29 December

Phasing down from Christmas - a social time. An emptiness creeping in. Hesitation and doubt. Important questions linger in an unsettled mind: what will I do next week? And why? What will I do this evening and why? It is all such hard work with no reasons. So, call it a down loop in the spiral. What in hell's name do I want? Scared? Yes, I'm scared of plugging in, plumbing myself in for life. 

Paul K. Lyons

January 1983


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