PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1983 - NOVEMBER
Nearly nine months at McGraw-Hill Platts. I should stay here at least till the New Year, and then have a serious think. Coming back from the high of Berlin, and from experiencing two famous cities, I am now heading for winter, and the winter of my dissatisfaction. I need to focus my energies on writing. Times will come - maybe soon - when I won't have so much peace and stability so I must make use of this calm.
I called Rona last night. She was supercool. I felt bitten. The extent of my despicableness in her mind seems to have grown, and I've clearly lost a friend.
It's a rather sad and pessimistic end to this black-covered journal.
Onwards, upwards, upwards through Peru . . . to the red book. I haven't had a red diary since the very first one. Boa noite.
DIARY 23: November 1983 - March 1984
We've had the first frost of the new winter - the light wanes, the drizzling waxes. We all pull up the bed clothes, push up collars, draw in resources to preserve from the long cold dark months. However did we manage before television. Solid dependable companion. Company through all weathers and all isolations.
Thursday 3 November
Increasingly, I become fascinated by politics; at the same time my interest in clowning and fringe theatre diminishes. I am anxious to debate. I could hardly keep my mouth closed during Tuesday's class on World Politics. The lecturer decided to abandon his usual preaching form and opened up the class to a discussion of the Grenada invasion. Maurice Bishop, the totalitarian leader of the island, was assassinated by a marxist from a different faction going by the name of Austin. Subsequently, the US decided to move in to restore democracy. The US said it invaded to protect US students on the island, and because it had been invited to do so by other Caribbean countries. It also wanted to dismantle the Cuban presence (which appears to have been over-estimated). Reports suggest that the massacre of some 200 US troops in Lebanon a few days earlier may have had an effect on the President's thinking. If the US pull out all their troops quickly and leave behind free elections and a democracy, the move may well prove popular domestically - even though the UN decided the invasion was unconstitutional.
The Latin American film season on Channel 4 has been showing the trilogy 'The Fall of Chile'. I saw the second part - 'The Coup' - earlier this week. It is an impressive document of the events that led up to the overthrow of Allende, making very clear the subverside role played by the CIA, but also that there was no clear cut definition of what went wrong and why. Clearly Allende was not in control, and the CIA exploited an already bad situation. The workers - whom he was allowing to take control of factories everywhere in Chile - were completely disregarding any international commitments and investments. It was an economic system heading for disaster. But, as I understand it, the UN does not allow for such foreign intervention. It allows for each sovereign state to determine its own future whether that be fascism, communism or isolation. The interesting area is how much intervention by one foreign power warrants intervention by another to make sure that a state is allowed to determine its own future. That role should be played by the UN but it doesn't have sufficient clout.
I lunch with Luke and we chew over our relationships as usual.
Argentina has elected a radical government. Long die Peron! and let live democracy. I celebrate by writing a letter to Lanegra. I am anxious to learn news of M.
I must be in a down cycle for I sleep as soon as there is nothing for me to do.
A lazy end to a lazy week. I blame this apathy on the change of seasons, and the start-up of central heating. I grew depressed throughout the week and expected Bel to help me out of it, but instead she fell too.
I went to watch coloured crackles on Primrose Hill. Multitudes of people were streaming towards a bonfire at the top of the hill. Once I got there, I was surprised to see the other side of the hill packed with people, all waiting for the fireworks to be set off from an area below. Some had cameras and tripods, others were holding sparklers. I saw kids running away from their parents, and wondered how they were ever going to find each other again. I did not stay long - fireworks once a year is a bit too often. I remember last year's display at Roundwood Park, Brent, as if it were only a few days ago.
Monday 7 November
A Willy Wilder film. He somehow manages to subordinate Somerset Maughm's story about a letter to patterns made by moonlight filtering through Venetian blinds. Nevertheless, a steamy story, steamily told.
Hockney, the cocky Cockney in tight blue jeans with diplomas from Eton/Cambridge/Royal College etc, has turned his eye to photographs. He claims that photography needs a shock equivalent to cubism in the modern history of painting. So he has used scores or even hundreds of small photographs to create one large image of whatever - a portrait of a friend, a landscape, a room, a street, a party etc. Basically, the photos' edges match but not always, and the result is a, well I suppose, impressionistic picture. Commentators seem more in awe of the newness than interested in any critical appraisal of what he is actually doing/saying.
Wednesday 9 November
It occurs to me that there is a direct relationship between the number of friends a person has and that person's ability to be fickle. This idea has never occurred to me before. In order for lots of people from various walks of life to like a person, that person must be likeable to them. I talked with R last night about the influence of friends: I'd been thinking that Co. might be a bad influence on him. R said he believes it is good to be influenced - how else do we learn. I agreed but retorted that one doesn't learn much from friends - one learns from and about relating to them but not much else. How fundamentally we disagree on these things.
Syria has armed 100,000 men. Let us all hope the United States is not seduced into terrible trouble for us all.
'The present she would not tell me about, despite my persistent quizzing, lived up to all expectations' - Durrell has published again and 'Sebastian' wins me over.
Saturday 12 November
Well, the thing with A has taken a step forward but I am not quite sure if the net result is positive or a missed opportunity. I seem to have a fair amount of confidence at present. I notice this in the way I am free with information about my private life. For example, I constantly seek advice - rather tongue-in-cheek - from colleagues at work on how to proceed with my courting. I have even mentioned it to Barbara - even before anything has happened! We lunched on Thursday - tucked into a pub's corner - and sought each other out for information about private personal ties. And then we met again in the evening, first to see some dance, then to a pub, then to a friend's house. It was the right moment for something to happen, and there was agreement in the air, but, while we were in the pub, doubts descended from I don't know where, and A had to analyse where they'd come from. By the time we arrived at the friend's house, it was clear we would not be spending the night together. At the end of the night, we stood on a street corner and kissed, and there were possibilities of passion behind the soft touch of lips. Yet now I feel rather stripped and vulnerable, as if I gave too much away and received too little back.
Half way home the globule said I don't want to be a globule in a module [doodle]
I have started rewriting the Sparky series. I haven't written a new Sparky story for so long that I felt it must be time to work on the old ones. I also imagine rewriting 'The Brittle Rhapsody of Silence on a Winter Beach' for it's such a good plot. The Cyclone Tracy play appears to have gone by the wayside. But tomorrow I am going to see Nina Grunfeld about doing some research on non-fiction books. Perhaps this is what I want to do more than anything. I am hopeful.
A meeting with Nina who puts together 'The Royal Shopping Guide'. If all goes well, I will be working two full days a week phoning shops with Royal Warranties.
Why does A not write or phone?
Heseltine tells Parliament that the first cruise missiles have already arrived at Greenham. Will this take the stuffing out of the Greenham women or will the physical presence at their bedside of their worst enemy fortify them?
There is an article in today's 'Guardian' about the antique dealers rings - they sound almost masonic in organisation and secrecy. Good play material, I thought.
Met some people at the weekend: Dick - editor of SOFT; Tony Allen - stand-up comic.
Tuesday 15 November
TWO NEWSPAPER CUTTING
'Some magazines, such as Intro and National Singles Register, are devoted entirely to the busy US single scene. Suzanne Douglas, founder and publisher of Intro, decided she would place an ad in her own magazine. It landed her a multi-millionaire from Chicago. But recently, Ms Douglas filed a suit in a Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that her Chicago lover had used their 'meaningful relationship' to seduce her out of control of her magazine. The multi-millionaire is now the publisher of Intro. And she is without a job.'
'Red Faces. Alfred, Ontario (Reuters) - Red-faced firemen had to watch their village fire station burn down because an electrical failure jammed the door and they could not get their fire engines out.'
Listen to a small man Shouting Pouting For love, For love lives in another street
Friday 18 November
Life on the PetrochmicalScan has turned dull now that prices have peaked and the markets softened. The effect is largely related to slipping crude oil prices. Deals are difficult to track down. I spend hours in idle chatter to Jenny, teasing or informing her of the latest developments in my personal life. John Norman comes in from time to time to try and sort out the complexities of the newsletter merger with the FT. He has advertised for a reporter/editor hoping a highly experienced /qualified person might show up - some of my ex-colleagues from ECN have rung in response.
Bel and I tend towards a depression - she says we really should see each other less. We walk hand in hand, through rivers of brown leaves on the Heath but wonder if it is time for a serious parting of the ways.
For us, the powerless ones, a remarkable hope crept into our hearts this week. West Germany's leader Kohl let it be known that the Russians have offered to leave out British and French missiles from the Geneva talks. This has been a fundamental sticking point. The Russians want parity with all Western allies forces (well, we're talking intermediate ballistic missiles here), but the US insists on parity between the US and USSR. According to Kohl it was an informal offer made by Gromyko (I think during a walk through a park - this smacks of the famous walk in the forest.) On the same day, or no more than 24 hours later - but in fact after Tass had denied the veracity of Kohl's statement - the world's news networks picked up on a CIA report that Soviet spending in defence had been seriously over-estimated for the last several years. The hope is that the atmosphere surrounding these revelations is indeed conciliating and that they emanate from politicians and the powerful with peace not paranoia on their minds.
Monday 21 November
I pluck up courage to ring Rona and get a definitive reading on the state of our friendship. Answer - no relationship. I suppose we talked for 10-15 minutes. She sounded very highly strung and emotional. I spoke softly, and encouragingly. I wanted to go out and talk about it, she kept saying she didn't want to talk about it, and went on ranting and raving. Unfortunately, as I was talking to her I realised how solidly her version, her story of the events in Berlin, had stuck in her mind. I should not have left the problem to seethe for several weeks. This is a tender subject for me since I am aware of Frederic's tendency to feud with people. I am anxious not to fall into a similar pattern. With Rona, so far, though it's very difficult because she hasn't left any room for conciliation.
Thursday 24 November
H sends me address stickers for 13 Aldershot Road, West Hampstead, London NW6. Do his pretensions never cease. At dinner with Angela I met the managing editor of the BBC community programme unit. He's not of the typical BBC mould, he himself confirmed this view by telling me about confrontations with his bosses.
Bernard Levin in 'The Times' tried to unfathom Meegeren's Question about art forgeries and how public perception of a painting can change so dramatically, when the picture itself has not changed. He is so readable and inspiring.
I have an idea to photograph all the shops on Willesden Lane and make a corridor wall in my house a Willesden Lane junior.
I look forward to the 'Rape of Lucretia' at the Coliseum this Wednesday.
I went over to R&Vs for tea this Sunday. There was Sandra, a gallery proprietor from Canterbury, but originally from Australia. She told stories of the great bush fire there this year. One man climbed into his water tank supported by a metal tower. It was half full of water, so he had air and water. The fire made a lot of noise, and when it was over, he lifted the lid of the water tank ever so slightly but his face and scalp were ravaged with third degree burns from the temperature of the air alone.
Wednesday 29 November
Reading voluminous volumes - 'Fabulous Frauds' by Lawrence Jeppson, 'World Politics' by Calvocoressi, 'Funes' by Borges, 'The Fifth Horseman' by Larry Collins, 'The Cold War' by Angus Wilson.
Paul K. Lyons
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