Saturday, December 11, 1982


I’m writing this up now at home having spent all day travelling.

I got up at seven while it was still dark outside, a thin crescent moon outside my window. I saw Barry off, and walked with him down to the station, then had toast and tea with Gareth and Stu. I said goodbye to everyone, to Downstairs Ian especially, because he’s changed course and has had to reapply (his Dad’s disowned him as a result): perhaps we won’t see him next term.

As I trudged to the station I was pretty heavily laden with a rucksack, a huge suitcase and a sports bag. I got back at 5.30 after a sunny, clear and frosty journey and had a long wait in the freezing cold outside the station for Dad. Easterby looked hostile to my alien, unaccustomed eyes.

I found a Xmas card from Claire when I got back, but she didn’t mention anything about my card or letter. I hope she got them. Mum and Dad ribbed me: “She fancies you. I saw the way she was gazing up at you at that school thing, hanging onto your every word. . . .”

Friday, December 10, 1982

Out of focus

I ended up having a quiet drinking session in Stu’s room last night, finally getting to bed at four or five this morning. I chatted with Shelley about her plans—hopes more than anything I think—of visiting Egypt next summer. She knocked at my door a few minutes after we’d said goodnight because someone had hurled mud up at her bedroom window and she was frightened. I crept to the window and looked down. Nothing . . . save for a trampled area of damp grass where the phantom mud slingers had congregated. We thought it was probably her insistent Arab suitors who also left two pennies in a glass in her room earlier: someone said this was symbolic of a desire to go to bed with her).

Everyone is feverishly packing, tidying, and sweeping. In the afternoon we had a ‘dinner party’ in Penny’s room with crisps and baked potatoes, etc., and then Pete and I left for a meeting with Alan Draper, our tutor in American History 1620-1900 next term ; he seemed cool, calm and thoroughly in command of himself and his course, but I left feeling unenthusiastic about what he’d outlined for us. To change to Lit or not to change. . . ?

I got reports from both my contextuals from my Personal Tutor Mr. McAllister. He let me read what Dr. Herring had written. It was a superbly constructed attack on my lack of work. He says I'm “an out of focus student” and although I write “elegantly,” he graded me very low (McAllister: “I wouldn’t ask if I were you”). Probably a 5 or 6. My American Civilisation report was a bit better but Palfreyman still came down on me for my laziness. It’s the same old problem, first pointed out in Junior school and now here too. All a bit sickening, even though I'd expected it and know I deserve it.

As dusk descended, Downstairs Ian gave me a ride on the back of his Suzuki 250, up along winding roads through the countryside around campus, taking racing lines round the corners, a sweep of coast visible way down to our right, an orange sun setting over purple clouds on the horizon.

Then sad final hours in Stu’s room, everybody long faced and silent as “Heroes” and “Happy House” wound the term up for us. I’ve enjoyed it. At one point, in the Town & Gown earlier with everyone else, I felt that special, vaguely excited mood among us all as we discussed a proposed visit to Barry in Debdenshaw over Xmas, a sudden great outswelling of warm and generous feelings in me towards these people who are my friends and who I enjoy.

I felt glad to be alive.

Thursday, December 9, 1982

Things like that

I went into Watermouth again, this time with Shelley, Lindsey, and Susie. I wanted to collect a book I'd reserved yesterday (Helen Vaughan's Complete Poems). It pissed it down most of the time so we didn’t have such a good time.

There's an ‘end-of-term’ feel in the air this evening, but perhaps it’s only because I'm looking for it. Rowan had a big party in her room that developed from a small dinner group she’d had earlier. Her room was full of noisy drunken buffoons like Tim Headband and his oafish German friend Stefan (in porkpie hat with feather, socks over his trousers to his knees). Both were pissed out of their skulls, wallowing on the floor amid bits of paper and rubbish.

Rowan hated it, and retreated to Barry’s room where she acted strangely, as though she was confused, pulling odd faces with her dark eyes and curvy mouth. Then she slipped her hand lovingly round the shoulders of a drunk girl from downstairs, all the while pursing her lips and rolling her eyes in that obscene way of hers. Barry told her that Emma (the downstairs girl) “wouldn’t do a thing like that.” Replied Rowan (in a voice slow, husky, and speculative): “She might. . . .”

She gets a perverse, morbid kick from playing these different roles and mixing them all up together.

Wednesday, December 8, 1982

Bird, skull and rocks

Shelley, Barry, Lindsey and I went into Watermouth and had a really good time just wandering around shopping for Xmas presents. We paused a long time at a hologram shop which fascinated me, especially the ‘Holographic Gallery’ upstairs; there’s something ghostly and weird about the faint 3D images (of Saturn, a red leering skull, a ballerina figure in a wine glass, a box that actually appeared to project outside the plane of the glass). Incredible!

We stopped for coffee at a nearby cafĂ©, then headed homewards, me bearing a hologram (Bird Skull and Rocks) for Rob and Carol and a copy of Derek Haughton’s biography of Helen Vaughan for Dad.

In the evening, we went into Watermouth again to eat, twenty of us in total, donned up in our best clothes, snaking in a long line through the spattering rain to Tang’s Chinese Restaurant. It took us an hour get our food and I was so hungry I was at breaking point. When the food finally arrived I stuffed my face until I felt almost queasy. We ran up a £127 bill.

Then out again and down to Annabella’s, an old music hall converted into a big, flashy, balconied nightclub. An impressive light show flickered and flashed high above the seething, smoking crowd. I didn’t really enjoy it: I never relax sufficiently to have a truly good time in places like that. So I was reduced to defiant muttering (“I’d love to napalm the lot of ‘em . . .”). I got home late.

Rowan has me sussed.

Tuesday, December 7, 1982

Haircut 82

This afternoon everyone we all got our hair cut, bleached or dyed. Penny cut mine in the bathroom, leaving it short on top but long at the back and with a long wispy piece at the front. . . . I can’t decide if I like it or not. I felt very self-conscious. 

Since the fire my food situation has fallen apart completely. I've eaten virtually nothing for days.
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