Sunday, September 26, 1982


Robert and Carol drove Andrew to Whincliffe this morning so he could catch the 8.40 train. I won’t see him again until Christmas. Last night as I said goodbye to Nanna P. she urged me to write to her, and the morbid thought crossed my mind that she could die before I next come home.

Robert was apparently in fine form in the pub’ last night, again talking about Buddhism and Mum was struck by the force of his enthusiasm. She says he seems like he's “thinking deeply” about it. She also says it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to him, and might “sort out his erratic ways.” There's an almost childlike innocence to Robert's enthusiasms. He revels in the simple things in life, like the clannish aspects of football, or pub-life, etc. Andrew is different, more practical and down-to-earth, and says he’s never found happiness without money and so wants to try it with.

Lee called round and stayed until teatime. He says he found the first week of his Easterby Art College foundation course “boring.”

Saturday, September 25, 1982

Childhood's end

In the early hours I at last shook off my laziness and started to read Vaughan's Harp of the Sky which I know I'll enjoy; it was difficult to keep the names and relationships straight. More disaster to crush Mum: the car gear stick bust this morning.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, even scared, at the prospect of coping on my own at Uni.; it’ll be the first time ever.

Robert & Carol arrived for the match - they'd had a row - and we set off in their car at two. The game was quite tense, Athletic beginning with slick attacking moves that put pressure on the East Standon goal. Newlands finally scored midway through the half. He burst like a bull past a hesitating defender and powered into the box, steadied himself, and then lobbed the goalie; a brilliant goal. He seemed elated and rushed back down the pitch grinning wildly. From then on though East Standon looked good and I was relieved when the final whistle went. 1-0. Easterby are ninth.

In the evening, Robert again waxed enthusiastically about Buddhism and then everyone (even Mum and Dad) went out to the pub. I stayed home: perhaps it's really hitting me for the first time, the sadness of leaving family and childhood finally and forever. It’ll never be the same again.

Friday, September 24, 1982


Andrew and I looked for Helen Vaughan’s lodgings on Firth Street: all the houses have gone and the site is now occupied by car parks, wasteland and neglected buildings, but there's a small block of houses at the bottom by Lockley Lane which are doubtless original, based on their appearance.

We also looked at the fine buildings in Chatham Place and explored the backs of the shops, finding a passageway running parallel to and the length of Felgate Road that Dad had mentioned; it snakes between the backs of buildings, crooked and ugly with bins and weeds. We found Hutton Steps and dingy Hutton Square with its Chinese restaurant.

Today was depressing though, this not helped by rain and leaden skies.

At teatime we talked about what it will be like for me at Uni. and how I’ll cope. Dad said when Robert came back from college his first holiday he and Mum had great difficulty persuading him to go back. Dad found a note in his bedroom after he'd gone that simply said, “Oh God, I’m frightened.” This amused us all.

Dad picked up Nanna P. at 7.30.

Mum is going to the Lake District Buddhist monastery with Rob and Carol next month for a weekend. Mum are Dad are also talking about signing up for a weekend course in Lockley on the Victorian novel. Mum' s been in a good mood this evening.

I feel optimistic.

Thursday, September 23, 1982


Yet another tense situation with Mum over money and the future. She's in a perpetual mood nowadays. I hate it. She says she’s feeling “middle-aged and miserable,” but I just wish she wouldn’t be constantly so long-faced and depressing.

In the afternoon Andrew, Dad and I went to see an Anglo-Saxon exhibition at the museum in Bishophill. I also wanted to look at the John Smirke tomb in the cathedral: it's one of the few surviving examples of W. T. Southgate’s work. He was a friend of Helen Vaughan's and was rumoured to know something about her disappearance. Unfortunately, that part of the Cathedral was closed because an orchestra was rehearsing for a concert, but Andrew and I did go up into the tower, high above the town, and as we climbed the cramped spiral staircase the sounds of Gothic organ reverberated all around us. Some of the graffitied names carved in the walls date back centuries; we found one from 1718, another from 1859.

As we wandered around the tourist parts of Bishophill the sky glowered. We drove back via Crowthorne (oak trees galore), Ewesden and Cross Green, for much of the way directly into the setting sun. The shadows were long on the fields and the clouds were amazing.

Just before going to bed I mentioned to Dad that I'm leaving a week on Sunday. He sighed, as if to say ‘so soon?’ and it sounded so pathetic and forlorn that I wanted to put my arms round him or something. He just seemed alone and upset at the prospect. Mum says he will miss me badly. I will miss him too.

Wednesday, September 22, 1982

Day of action

I got a postcard from Claire who’s in Alicante; suitably inspired, I rewrote my letter to her.

Dad and I got talking about old Easterby once more, so tomorrow Andrew and I will try and find 47 Firth Street, off Lockley Lane, where Helen Vaughan lived in 1883-85. We'll also look for Hutton Square, the frontage of the now extinct Gisborne Inn (another of Vaughan's haunts), and the numerous old nineteenth-century ginnels, flagged passages and stairways which still exist around Felgate Road and St. Cuthbert’s. Dad sounded off bitterly about the “vandals in city planning who raped Easterby in the ‘sixties.” I don't blame him.

He also got angry over the TUC "Day of Action" rally (four thousand have turned up), blasting them as “bloody communists” and even saying Corina has the “face of a criminal” and should have his “throat cut.” It was all said in the heat of the moment and I don’t think he really means it, at least not the throat-cutting bit!
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