3 June 1982

There was an article in this morning's 'Guardian' concerning the usefulness of noses. Apparently, the nostrils are used to warm and humidify air before it enters the lungs. If the air is too dry and cold, the lungs cannot extract the required oxygen. The nose makes a large surface area available to incoming air by flaps and cavities.

Pigeons have nested on the balcony in a cardboard box. They filled it with twigs, and now the female has laid two eggs. She sits on them all day long. I hate pigeons. Especially since I discovered the've been in the attic and filled the water tank with bird shit.

We are all suffering. It is so warm and humid. When thunderstorms come it is a tremendous relief (even though they may bring floods). We go to the Heath ponds, to swim naked - like the tadpoles that fill the pond, although our bodies are white, not black.

I finished the story about the Norwegian shipowners at the weekend. I say finished but, as always, I feel the major milestone in writing a story is when the first draft is completed and the plot is down on paper.

I feel like I wanna write a play.

11 June

I long to get a photographic dark room together.

Conversation with Ann is mad. All evening, all night, mostly about sex and relationships. It would be more fun to have a bit of either. But I do love her vanity and sexual teasing. I talk to her with a mixture of truth, lies, fantasy, for I know no other way to protect myself. But what harm can she perpetrate on me?

I have been wooing Liz after the surprise of my birthday party night. She was no animal, though the play was fun and promising. A pregnant tension between us. Perhaps I should be more assertive.

Oh Bel. On Monday, she was moping, head bent down, eyes curling inwards. I could not bring her out of herself, not until we came back here and fought, fists and nails; and then we lay quietly, recovering, letting 'Rite of Spring' curse us. She says she fights so against needing me.

I wrote this spontaneously on learning that Brownie McGhee (who came with Niema to my birthday party a couple of weeks ago) and his partner Sonny Terry haven't actually talked to each other for years (apparently they communicate through their manager): 'I haven't been their drummer since always, but I been their drummer a long time. Since ever I can remember, well, at least, since ever anything was important and that's a long time. We first met up that hot summer when everybody's shirts was off, and there ain't been a summer that hot since, and that was a long time ago. The cisterns were dry, the grasses were yellow, turning brown, and nobody was allowed to bath in water. I was young then, out of school, playing in backyards with a set of drums I found on a garbage heap; well, I suppose it was a garbage heap. They worked all right, and nobody seemed to mind me taking 'em away. I just took to it natural, sitting on that tiny seat, and patting the sticks up and down and beatin my foot in time. A street band took me first, but then some guy offered me a small wage to be a tourin. It was that hot summer I was talking about. We was travelling through - I forget the town's name now. We pulled into the drive in a rusty old Ford, filled to bustin, and as we enter I sees these two black men, one with a guitar and one with a harmonica. Once we got to the hotel, I walked back to these guys, and I watched em hating each other. Man they played to kill. And when they stopped for a moment, I said: 'That's the finest music I ever heard.' And the big one, with the guitar, looked up and said: 'That's a mighty fine thing to say. What's your line?' 'I do the drums,' I told em all eager, and I'm playing here tonight. The other one went all gruff and said, 'Who's that?' but he didn't look at me. So the first one said: 'Don't be bothered with him, he's sort of blind, hates sympathy. He start annoying you, just tell the mother fucker to quit bawling.'

Saturday afternoon 12 June

A new face, a new woman took me dancing. At first there was boogie blues, and then it generated into rock. Oh so sweaty, and crowded, and restricted. Yet, I danced much like anybody else. But it annoys me that I don't dance with people, I am not confident enough to keep rhythm. I have vague memories of my first flat - in Cardiff - with Paul teaching me The Hop. And how hip I thought that was for so many years. But there's no room to do The Hop at Dingwalls. K has a full attractive face, with thick black hair to her shoulders, like a mane. She bursts into smile not laughter. Despite the hair, the smile, the favour in her eyes, I did not try to make her giggle with improper suggestions. I don't know why.

We won a war, another war. Britain has a habit of winning wars. If she is not capable of winning them herself then she has the sense and good fortune to seek allies who will help her.

Sunday 20 June

Mum went out of London for the first time in more than three years. Melanie went to South Africa. Dad didn't give me a birthday present. Luke called me suggesting I take over doing the listings for 'Performance'.

M, in Argentina, replied very quickly to my letter. She blames all the bloodshed on Thatcher, and talks of renewed patriotism and loyalty in her country. I write: 'Dear M, I think it is important - and I think you would want me to tell you so - that from here, living in Britain, the war seems to have been won in an honourable way. I do not like Thatcher. My friends do not like Thatcher. But when the Argentine forces invaded the Falklands (I do not care about the name, the Malvinas if you like), the British government had to make a very quick decision. To send troops or not; to let Argentina get away with with invasion or not. I do not know about natural deposits or access to the Antarctic, but I do know that two very important factors must have directed the British people to approve Thatcher's move. First, there is no reason why 2,000 British citizens accustomed to living undisturbed lives of relative freedom should have a military fascist dictatorship suddenly take them over; second, should such an invasion be seen to succeed, how many other irresponsible national leaders would follow suit.'

Last weekend the newspapers were reporting a death toll of 10,000 in the Israel-Syria-Palestine conflict. I do not understand this conflict. I believe the newspapers are calling for Israel to let the United Nations do their traditional charity work with the injured and homeless. I have not the slightest idea of the reality of war sitting here in a garden, in paradise on earth. What if a gun shot were to crack, or a bomb were to fall, or rocks came flying at me?

Is there much mileage in writing events down, ones that I've already spoken of a dozen times in my efforts to be interesting. Should I say I went to Ascot, I went to Dingwalls, I went to the Royal Ballet. Horses sweated and galloped past toffs. People sweated and beat time to aged rock stars. Well-trained bodies leaped and twirled to Stravinsky's schizophrenia.

Wednesday 23 June

Most of Sunday was spent sleeping or typing up the Norwegian shipping short story. But now it's finished I know it's crap. I know it's crap. I read it to Bel as she rests her head on my knee. She agrees. But I can't be honest to Mandy, Patrick or Gail, because when I am they chide me for being so negative, so self-deprecating.

Monday 28 June

Chaos on the London roads. Not only has the entire British rail network come to a standstill because of industrial action by NUR, but the underground is also paralysed. I am here at Quadrant House some two hours earlier than usual because Nula's man John gave me a lift. It meant waking at 6:30 and cycling over to Queen's Park where my bike is now. Being in the office so early, it becomes apparent that there is a low-level humming - like a fridge - which is quite disturbing. It will soon be swamped by Cox's vulgar jokes and the rattling of typewriter keys.

Playing Greg at squash, I begin to take good points off him, and win a game or two. But when I do he becomes irritable and he starts miscalculating the score, and miscalling balls in and out to his advantage. This riles me and I play better and I don't mind winning. It's as if the will to win is as important as the skill of playing. I think Greg has got so used to beating me, he expects his self-esteem to be boosted when he plays me, not have it undermined. Watching another game, I see the losing player become increasingly aggressive and bitter, and his opponent increasingly timid and uncomfortable. This basic aggressive behaviour, it's a kind of blackmail, a pressurising the winning player to play less well.

Bel moves into a small flat in Fordwych Road. She is happy to have somewhere of her own. She found living with other people difficult. Meek she is - will she inherit the earth? She might inherit me.

To the Hammersmith Grove last night to see Patrick's interpretation of Gogol's 'Marriage'. There was a cast of ten, and a five piece band with conductor. I found it a bit dull and lacking in humour, but it was better than a lot of fringe productions.

Colin has done the Mastery and raves about it to me on the telephone. And Rick has done the Mastery and raves about it. Apart from anything else, though, I can't cope with the idea of all that loving and hugging, and it doesn't square up very well with the work I do in an office. So many people I know have done the Mastery and recommend it, yet none of them are holding a job like me. My criticism and cynicism fall on deaf ears all round.

Richard Edmunds came to visit me yesterday afternoon. He agreed that it was worth trying to marry the two styles of life together, the straight and the alternative. The former is so much larger, grander, potent, important etc; the latter, though, holds more of what Pirsig describes as 'quality' of life. In the alternative world, the inhabitants are trying to come to terms with their consciousness on a large scale, attempting to deliberately follow paths of altruism rather than instinctively trying to form moral and ethical codes that are not those laid down by generations that needed god. The new ethic is one that must come from man himself, from within. 

Paul K. Lyons

June 1982


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