PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1984 - SEPTEMBER
Dear Bel, well into September now. Apparently, there are rats swimming in the pond at the Heath.Or so some kids informed me the other night. I acted unconcerned, and explained that water rats weren't rats as such but more like voles. Nevertheless, should I see some, it might stop me swimming. In any case, the water has become quite dirty with twigs and leaves although it still smells fine.
Having seen you at the weekend I don't feel the need to write these letters to you in the diary so much. It felt good, almost right to be with you, but also that our separation was right for you, and for me. We are both sharper and keener as though the loving had stifled our senses, our ability to enjoy the rest of life apart from loving. I am confident again in you and me.
Morning, I was happy for the rain last night. I went with Judy to see 'Paris, Texas'. I thought the film brilliant. A crafted classic. But the cinema was full, the film long, and I was hot and clammy and fidgety. The rain, therefore, was welcome. We took a bus back, and then I then drove to the West End because I'd seen a shop awning in a skip, and thought it could be useful on my sun roof.
The weather changes, cold air comes and threatens us with autumn. Every plant will have taken the signal - slow down. I wear jumpers now and it is less easy to get out of bed in the morning. And in myself I feel a physical conflict caused by the change of seasons.
Anders came around yesterday flooding my breakfast room with his troubles. It is still J that plagues him. He will not release her from his mind. He chronicles her perversions! He calls her a sado-masochist, but does not realise that she is the sadist and he the masochist. I will not allow this longer. He has become so clever at introducing the subject that I need to clamp down on it like thunder.
R comes into my office. Friday lunchtime. A private word. It was not food poisoning that kept her away from the office last Wednesday, but a suicide attempt. I can't help thinking - what right has she to do this. How free she is, how free of troubles. As far as I know her situation is no more agonising than yours or mine. Of course, it must have been an emotional not a rational act. The emotional act is accepting failure, giving up, saying I can't be bothered any more. I suppose I could have more respect for a rational act. What is important in talking to R, then, when she tells me this? And why, incidentally, does she tell me? What good is sympathy, I ask myself, sympathy for what.
Thursday afternoon 13 September
Dear Bel, I become a grumpy old man. I read in 'Time Out' that some grumpy writer has had his diaries published for the two year period in which he was breaking down. I bet they're not as imaginative or mind-expanding as mine - how could they be!
I ring Colin to say I can't come to the party. He launches an attack on my personality, as always. I need to change, he says. I say, in order to beging to look for change I have to accept there is something wrong with me (I do play deliberately into his hands). That's it, he cries ecstatically, that's IT in one.
Dear Bel, it's just as well these aren't real letters, for I wouldn't tell you about the lonely hearts ad I paid £7 for. It ran: 'He desires mail from subtle female.' Why did I do it? The idea took on a life of its own - rather vague, diffuse, ambiguous. By spending £7, I thought, it opened up the possibility of an adventure, something new or different. I had no expectations, but I got two replies. One was from a 35 year old civil servant who is 'looking for kindness and gentleness' and asks 'please mention your box number when you reply so I know which one you are'. The other, a pink card says: 'She desires call from handsome hero. Madeline' and a telephone number. I dismissed the latter as a call girl, but Gale rightly pointed out that it's probably as good a reply as I could expect.
Dear Bel, in the last few days, I've begun to try to decide firmly if I really want to go to South America. Because, if I do, say early next year, it would seem silly not to see you between now and then. I think I'm trying to create excuses to see you.
It was very unexpected that you should ring last night, and then how lovely to see you. An absence of two weeks makes the hugs so intensely fonder.
Today I began to type my diaries onto disk. I could get quite enthused abut this. More or less at random I chose the journal from Corsica to type up.
Dear Bel, how was your weekend? When I go up to the secret garden I sometimes think I might see you there. A small section of the shubbery has been burnt to a cinder, but otherwise she looks lovely; the coming of the autumn has brought a multifold of tones and shades of green to the leaves. I watched the sun set and thought about South America. I must do this thing. I can see no other path forward for me.
Watching two series on BBC about Freud I have been inspired to re-acquaint myself with psychology. I read the Encyclopaedia Britannica which tells me about neuroses, an endemic disease. It tells me that social relationships in a large part come about as people seek to satisfy their complementary neuroses.
I just cheated. In the process of sitting down to write (another pretend letter to you), I rang you instead. How bubbly and full of life you sounded, firing me laughter and hope.
Friday 28 September, Frankfurt
So here I sit in Frankfurt at the Interconti (as the tax driver called it) waiting for chairs to be moved from the lunch table to the conference hall. Jan Huntsman of Huntsman Chemical Corporation who is a financial aid to President Reagan stands at the podium now to talk about benzene or styrene. He has brought three of his ten children and shows them off to the congress; he asks them to stand up. They are blond and smiling rather like Mormons that come to your doorstep to sell you god. They smile with a warm crisp tidy smile. They make me think of machine made human beings. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Hunstman comes from Utah, Salt Lake City.
Dear Bel, it is the Berlin marathon this Sunday morning. The first runners left an hour ago and are expected to finish in one hour more. It rains persistently. In a few minutes I go to the Interconti for a champagne brunch, part of the conference. But the marathon has closed the city's transport. I will walk. It is not so far from Anna and Manu's flat. Anna teaches Hatha yoga here, and I sit in her yoga room. A few mystical pictures adorn the walls, a chest of drawers sits in one corner, and two wood beams stretch to the floor cutting the sterile whiteness of the room with their rich dark texture. Anna is attractive with bright orange hair and contrasting pink/red make-up. A small mouth tenses into a smile often. Manu is most at ease.
Paul K Lyons
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