JOURNAL - 1982 - MAY

Saturday 8 May

The garden is beautiful, blushing with colour, over-ripe, pregnant with spring. And the birds know it.


The whole prosperity of the flesh may be in question. I am more or less moribund.

The bath is full of feathers. There may be a dead bird in the attic somewhere. Maybe a whole bird is rotting in the water tank, maybe there are cockfights up there, out of the public eye. There was a pretty French girl in the launderette - a dance student - but I wasn't quite quick enough as usual, and she was gone before I could make an invite. The water appears clearer now.

The Falklands goes on. The Brits have started bombing military installations. The United Nations is in the front line of negotiations - a last exit for Argentina perhaps. China has come out in opposition to Britain, but, personally, I don't think this has anything to do with the Falklands. War makes for strange bedfellows.

Saturday 15 May

Not happy to be alone this Saturday evening. Horribly close to my birthday.

News time: Annabel had a baby girl, she may be called Tomasalina. Rachel too has had a baby. Isn't 'had' a silly expression - given birth to would've been better. She is called Zula. Now for the bad news. Liz failed all her exams and got the sack. Sooz got thrown out of her flat. Roger's business went bust.

Sunday 16 May

Two statements by people at work puzzled me this week. S, who was a little pissed, was explaining how his relationship with J started. J giggled a little and said she didn't like this story. S said it was last summer when they went to the park at lunchtime. He looked up her skirt and saw her knickers! This really confused me. I could never imagine owning such a thing to myself let alone publically. And then, when N walked into the office, I commented on how pretty she looked. She replied: 'Creep'. What universe am I living in?

John Crook's Western Zen retreat sounds interesting. I might be able to trust it because I respect Crook's knowledge, as portrayed through his book 'The Evolution of Human Consciousness'. I don't seem to be able to trust anyone else.

At Joan and Jane's on Friday night, I told the party gathered there my little story called 'I woke up in bed with Margaret Thatcher'.

Her daughter makes tea in the hospital's communal kitchen. Miranda sits on a bench above the garden, some of her memory has returned. Her eyes like the rain before her are now dashed with colour, almost speckled. The rain comes through warm humid air, forming pools on the grass, rivers on the pavements, waterfalls down the parade of steps. There is no wind, it comes down straight, in grey sheets, attenuating the garden's colour. The sun gives her rainbows. Her naked feet remember pleasures. A man in an aeroplane with a face like her father, touches her hand at the rising and the falling. He uses simple names of affection: cherish, timid, crystal, true, peach. And her mother's funeral. She does not dwell on that, or dig for memories, for there is no sadness. Her daughter comes with refreshments. Together they sit in silence, sipping from porcelain cups, staring, staring through time and rain.

A programme about Werner Herzog on ITV. Such a serious man, flawed by a lack of humour; an obsessive director directing an obsessive actor Klaus Kinski. According to the programme, ten days from the end of filming Fitzcarraldo Herzog threatened Kinski, saying if he left the film, he would shoot them both. His wife talked about waiting and exploding. She was a wreck.

With talc on my face and a paintbrush in my hand I think of Marielle. My nose bleeds raw colour onto a brilliant day and I'm reflecting on her pools of lesser known liquid loves. I would run through her fingers running through long grass with coloured fire behind, and paint a lake to escape. A red letter day today for her.

22 May, Aldeburgh

I love Aldeburgh! I love coming to this house. I love to be here by the sea. Now, finally, I'm at peace. A headache troubled me all day, pounding across the forehead like waves on a shore. Why do I get these headaches? I drank so little, and, besides, I stopped early and drank gallons of water. Such silence. I do not miss the noise of trucks in Iverson Road or the rumble of trains.

23 May

Nula tells a story - Nula being the girl who works on 'World Fishing' and is a friend of Lynn's - told to her by a friend at a friend's party. The night before a man was due to leave for a year-long contract in the US he held a big party. There were all kinds of emotional scenes with his friends, until, that is, somebody unfolded a paper hat and read what appeared to be a copy of a telegram. It stated that the contract had been cancelled. Instead of telling his friends and cancelling the party, the man had photocopied the telegram and used it to make paper hats.

Here in Aldeburgh I return to sanity and envisage futures.

It rains.

Bel confessed some weeks ago that I was the most important person in her life. She cried and I loved her. She then decided we shouldn't sleep together any more. Yet, I need her so terribly. I fear that without her, I have nothing. And yet I cannot live with her, can I?

Finally, we have invaded the Falkland Islands. For the sake of civilisation, for the sake of peace, for the sake of progress, for the sake of the evolution of altruism, we have finally and irredeemably taken up weapons and the ploys of older generations to prove the wisdom and superiority of the more developed. One day peace will be the norm, but such animal instinctive expressions such as fighting will continue to break out for a long time to come. And, if the great and developed nations are to guide and lead the world to such a state then they must stay stronger in all senses, including military. However, the citizens of a country are not concerned with the future of the world; they are generally concerned with the future of themselves and their children - so why should they pay to keep vast military strength. Denying nuclear arms to themselves, and dismantling the forces will not bring peace to the world. It is yet not time. If I were landing on the Falklands and my friends were getting killed I would want to know why.

On the way here to Aldeburgh, an old man gave me a lift. He had been a stoker on a destroyer in the Second World War. He talked about feeling fear in the engine room because he never knew what was happening outside. Even when the destroyer's own guns went off, it felt like they'd been hit. The longest stretch he was away from England was two years. Before the end of the war, he was invalided out because he'd lost a kidney. How precious I am. This man lost a kidney 40 years ago, and he's still going strong.

What a fucking prat my editor Cox is. All day last Friday, he went on and on about whether I could write enough for two pages. I told him repeatedly I would do two pages. On Monday, again, he had a go at me. I even told him with what stories I would fill the pages. On Tuesday, when I wasn't there, he revised the schedule so that I only had one page. How am I supposed to deal with such blatant antagonism. But, he was away on Wednesday, and I got my page back! 

Paul K. Lyons

June 1982


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