Sunday, January 23, 1983

Desert island dusk

I read Heart of Darkness all day. It’s a really good book, especially the ending. I thought about writing a lot of the lines and passages down to remember them.

Everything still feels unreal and so very strange. I laid on Barry’s bed as the blue gloom of dusk gradually shrouded the two huge feathery trees towering outside his window. Bowie played softly on the stereo. It's as if somehow I’m set apart and everyone else is living out day-to-day life while I remain marooned and isolated in an obsessive mental prison.

This same mood haunts and plagues me when I'm in the kitchen and even outside.

Saturday, January 22, 1983


I felt slightly uneasy last night around Rowan because of what she now knows about my inner torture and weaknesses. A big group of us headed to the train for our pub crawl and we had a long wait in the shelters on the platform at the University station. I was vividly aware of a hint of a look in Rowan’s eyes. . . .

In the first pub I felt very awkward and ill at ease. I’d taken the rest of my speed before setting out and although it was having its usual pounding heart and ‘nervous’ excited stomach effects, I think my tolerance must’ve crept up because my reactions weren't as marked.

Our group filled up the entire length of one wall of the pub. Shawn's face was flushed: he was on a speed binge he'd vowed in black humour after two 5s and a 4 on his exams. Meanwhile, at the other end of the row, Lindsey, Rowan, Penny and I sat in a little stilted semi-circle. Again I was all too painfully conscious of the long gaps in our conversation. I had to escape to the toilet a couple of times. We careened from pub to pub, and we lapsed gradually into drunkenness, the conversations free lowing now as alcohol loosened our tongues. We stayed longest in the last pub and I sat next to Lindsey and found it easy talking to her, even though our conversation was pretty mundane.

The riotous train journey coming back was great fun. Barry staggered up and down the carriage and I detected a wry smile or two from the other passengers at our huge drunken gaggle, arms round one other, shouting and talking. I ended up staying up all night, in the kitchen mainly, or downstairs in the common room playing pool and pinball or sitting in the foyer. For once my concerns were shoved aside.

I slept late. It's been an unremarkable day, reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for Monday.

Friday, January 21, 1983


I ended up back in the Town & Gown last night. Stu had two friends down, jovial lads from Basildon, and most of our group was there but I sat to one side, hunched low and morose in my seat. Apart from a conversation with Penny about Buddhism, I didn’t say anything.

My abiding recollection of the whole evening is of its unreality and of the very strange feelings inside that made mundane everyday concerns feel distant and unimportant. It felt impossible for me to participate, so I sat there feeling increasingly strange. Lindsey sat across from me at the table, occasionally flicking a look in my direction as I sank further and further into my seat. I looked so out of things and apart that I could see her and Susie exchanging low comments and glancing over at me.

Back in Wollstonecraft I paced neurotically from room to room, then down to the foyer feeling torn inside, my feelings unbearable and impossible to describe, impossible to contain. I ran my hands through my hair in desperation and I could’ve screamed, kicked something to bits, done anything!

But today those feelings are muted and at times absent. I went to my American History tutorial, an endless Alan Draper monologue about Zuckerman’s Fabrication of Identity in Early America.

Tonight we're having our now weekly Watermouth pub crawl. Evening is always that time when all my fears, obsessions and passing daylight thoughts are focused and intensified.

Thursday, January 20, 1983

In my area

What I'm about to write isn’t easy to relate: I’ve been putting it off all day. At the moment I'm barricaded in my room, afraid to show my face too readily to the outside world. I’m worried too in case I misrepresent what's happened.

It started as a routine Wednesday. I was still morose and dissatisfied: at teatime I went to collect a huge wad of photocopies I’m supposed to read, which depressed me even more. It seemed to emphasise how fed up I am with my course, and so I stamped back up the stairs in a mood and, at a total loss, went to bed at six.

I was only asleep a couple of hours and went to the coffee shop to meet Pete and new girlfriend Mo. We then went up to the Town & Gown. I sat down in the bar next to the two of them, glass in hand, and I just knew I was on my way again; as conversation raged around me I sat quietly, out of it. . . . Mo is sweet and quiet and very nice. Rowan’s friend Kathryn asked me why I didn’t come out with the usual 'How are you? Want a fag?' talk to which I gave my standard “I prefer to sit back silently” answer. I warmed to my theme with Pete and Mo, but honestly this was all probably just a defence mechanism because I’m no good at those usual things anyway.

I strode back to Wollstonecraft Hall feeling quite drunk, but not as pissed off as later events would suggest.

I can’t really remember what happened next. Somehow I was lying on my bed, Rowan standing over me, and I was sobbing like a fool while she tried to console me. I don’t know why I was in such a state. I told Rowan I needed to confide in someone . . . I don’t know what or why. . . and lay there shielding my face and choking on sobs while someone kept trying the locked door. Then I was out in the corridor and crying again in front of Lindsey, who brought me coffee and even tried (I see now) to jolly me out of it. What was wrong with me?

Today has felt very strange. I laid in bed this morning looking out the window and somehow feeling fragile. I got up at seven. I felt self conscious in the kitchen with everyone and when Shelley asked me why I was so upset last night I couldn’t even explain! A little delusion, I thought, that I played with myself to convince me I was going mad.

At teatime I bought a third of a gramme of speed from Jamie and went to Rowan's room and sat down to talk. I could feel the speed's effects—a quickening of the pulse, a strange almost jittery butterfly feeling in my gut, and I wondered aloud about Lindsey and how maybe she’s the real root of last night’s upset, but also something more, a terrible sense of pointlessness which has overtaken me and numbed me into absolute apathy. There's nothing I can think of that will satisfy or give me peace. Rowan says that the only time I seem to relax is when I’m drunk—shit, I’ve got no enthusiasm for this narrative, as my feelings are so difficult to pinpoint. How much is fact? How much is self indulgence?

It’s not easy to go on as if nothing’s happened after last night.

Wednesday, January 19, 1983

Whine, women, no song

I ended up drunk once more last night, the fourth time in a week. I haven’t done any work for a while. Barry said he’d buy me a drink if I went up to Biko’s with him, Shelley, Lindsey and Marco. So I sat there over my glass like some old wino in sombre shabby clothes and was soon drunk. I now owe various people about £11, mainly for booze.

Back in Wollstonecraft Hall I fell asleep all over the place again, talking with Marco about his split with his girlfriend of eight months. I feel as if I want to pour out my heart to someone and really confide in them. . . . Pete glimpsed hand-in-hand with latest love Mo . . . so easy for some, so hard for others.

I think this American Studies decision stinks, and surely “they” must’ve known about the cuts when we applied, in which case we could’ve been forewarned. I now wish I'd gone to Brynmor—it has a better course and a year abroad too. Guy, Pete, and I are planning on seeing the Dean about it tomorrow. I just hope I can change to Lit!

I look ahead and see years of dissatisfaction, always searching for dream situations which remain so intangible and out of reach.
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