Sunday 3 March, Russet House

A grumpy weekend. I’ve been at the computer most of the weekend, working on ECI-E 36, although I took a couple of hours off during the afternoon to do some gardening, and a couple of hours this evening to watch a zany film, about a guy caught in a time-loop. At midnight, the same day keeps repeating with a climax in the evening of someone being shot. Every time the day repeats, the guy tries to use more information that he gathered from the previous day to stop the murder. It was cute, and the plot held together remarkable well. Then, in an hour, I shall watch the last part of BBC thriller based on a book by Minette Walters - ‘The Sculptress’. I did not like the only book of Walters I’ve read - ‘The Scold’s Bridle’ - even if it did get awards. But the TV version is watchable, and the writer-heroine panders to a cross between my ideal woman (good lord, what a concept, there’s something I’ve not mentioned in my journal for a decade or two) and the kind of jobstyle that would suit me.

England are losing every game in the cricket World Cup; but somehow they’ve got through to the quarter-finals. There was a historic win by Kenya against the West Indies, embarrassing as it might be for the West Indies, it’s not half so bad as losing incessantly, like the English.

I had dinner with Mum on Thursday night after returning from Brussels. We spent most of the evening talking about her tax difficulties. Because she gets an allowance from Sasha, her income from the Ham & High, which is taxed at source, should not include an untaxed portion based on her personal allowance. But for some reason, the inland revenue treat her as two people so she gets a personal allowance on the income from Sasha and on the income from the Ham & High. The situation is further complicated because there was a raise on her income from Sasha which was never declared and so tax has not been paid on that either. For years, Mum was in ignorance of this but now realises her mistake and is extremely worried about the back log of tax. To be continued.

Wednesday 6 March, Russet House

It is Rosemary’s 70th birthday today.

EC Inform-Energy number 36 is out of the way. It was not an easy issue; I was prepared for a 16-pager but in the end I had more than enough material for 18 pages; some of it quite distant from the main subject of energy. I finished with half-an-hour to spare before the 5pm post. It is nice to get it out of the way on Tuesday, but I feel a bit guilty when the issue is not as fresh as it used to be. I have a real problem in May, when the Energy Council is on 7 May, the Tuesday production day for number 38.

Now I must move fast and complete the work on the book by the end of the month. I’ve sold 15 already to current subscribers at the knock down price of £95.

Adam had a day off school on Monday - a so-called Inset Day - not convenient for me, I couldn’t have been busier. He started coming in every few minutes to show me magic tricks but after the first I told him not to disturb me further. Why not, I said, get a few tricks together and practice them a lot, and then put on a show later on. Adam has always had a vague interest in magic; he’s had several toy sets, and recently the twins, Adrian and Philip, have been sparking more interest.

So, all day Adam beavered away on his tricks upstairs, and interrupted me only rarely. As the evening approached, he started becoming impatient to put on his show, but said it would be nice to wait for Mum. So he waited and waited. We had supper, and 7:30 came, and still Mum did not arrive, and eventually he couldn’t wait any longer and wanted me to come to his show. Earlier in the day he had given me a specially prepared ticket, complete with seat number, bar code, and tear-off section. On the stairs there was a sign saying ‘Adam’s Marvellous Magic Show’ and there was another one on the door to his room. Two cushions had been placed on the floor with seat numbers on, and there was a sign saying ‘Take your seats’.

No sooner had he started, than B arrived, and so I went back downstairs and Adam prepared to start again. I rejoined my ticket to my ticket stub and gave B her ticket. Then, when the ‘roll-up roll-up’ cry came we made our way upstairs and took our seats in the auditorium. This was no ordinary magic show, for the magician needed a member of the audience for every trick, thus B and I were up and down from our seats all the time. Adam had prepared six or seven tricks, all of them he did with some skill (for a child of 8).

But now I come to the real point of telling this story. After it was over and we had clapped and demanded a bow from the magician, we went downstairs. Ten minutes later, Adam came downstairs looking very miserable. I feel very sad, he said, I’ve worked all day and now it’s all over.

I was astounded that he could be so aware of his own feelings, and be able to express them and talk about them in such a way. Later, when he wrote up his diary, he mentioned his sad feeling; but, when I look at my diary, which has entries from age 11, I never find any reference to my feelings or things psychological anywhere for years.

So I spent some time, cuddling him, and explaining to him that it was the same kind of feeling one gets after a holiday, after finishing a good book, after leaving a party. And I talked about how much work goes into TV programmes, and into any kind of show, and that the really important thing is to enjoy the preparation. Adam had really enjoyed himself all day, and that is what he should remember.

April 1996

Paul K Lyons


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