Tuesday, October 16, 1984

Rizla


A night out at Masquerades, and the evening turned very drunken and loud and oafish, Lee upholding his reputation for mayhem by dancing around in a grubby thermal vest, crossed braces and with a Rizla packet stuck to his forehead.

Lindsey and Mo were both a little disgusted at what they called our “laddish” behaviour, Mo so much so that that she scratched both Lee and I with her fingernails in protest. We were all drunk and the night degenerated into wrestling and throwing empty beer bottles at one another. As we said goodbye, Mo kissed me on the cheek and apologised for attacking me without warning earlier.

Barry and Z. turned up today and Barry again tried to get me to apologise to the latter for the wall incident but I refused; Turney is heading down there later full of the expectation of some sort of ‘scene’ with Z. and co., who he dislikes as strongly as I do. Things are uneasy at the moment.

Barry tries to pretend nothing is wrong but we all feel he’s abandoned us completely for the Broad Street crew.

Monday, October 15, 1984

Sneer


My frustration right now is difficult to convey.

This morning Lee, Ian and Philip went as planned to Sutton Road to occupy the empty No. 39: the front door was locked, and so they climbed in through an open basement window, only to find five people sleeping in a first floor room who told them, “We’re squatters, man.”

I turned up at half-one after my Faulkner class to be greeted by strange faces staring down at me from an upper-storey window. When I found Lee I learned the worst. The punky five-some had moved in on Thursday, two days after we had been in the building, and had beaten us by a matter of days. They told Lee that they hadn’t been able to believe their luck in finding an empty house with an unlocked front door—it’s sickening even to write this—and so Lee and co. retreated in confusion and anger.

I couldn’t believe it and even now find it difficult to stomach. The horrible impotence and frustration I feel at our incredible bad luck is almost too much, and when I found out I really could have cried tears of anger and bitterness—fourth time unlucky. The gods have really got it in for us it seems.


Lee and I drifted around town in a daze, my mind a blur, just disbelief at this turn of fate and circumstances.

Robin Coldwater-Hicks is visiting the Grey House soon to tell Gav and co. that his mother’s dead and he’s selling the house, so we have to unearth another occupiable building soon or we’ll have half-a-dozen rivals also looking.

I know the people who moved into Sutton Road are innocent of any malicious intent or intrigue and that we were just very unlucky, but I can’t help feeling very bitter and these feelings are vented in the direction of Alex, Gav, Jason and their type; I won’t try and explain these feelings in any logical or reasonable fashion because they can’t be justified in any rational way, so I won’t try.

Too much arrogance, too much pretentiousness, too many students, too many post-punk hippies, too many young-people-with-hairstyles . . . Sometimes I walk round town with a permanent sneer on my face.

I won’t try and be consistent in my attitudes.

Sunday, October 14, 1984

Everything and nothing


Yesterday evening  I took the train into town to Lee’s and took LSD with he and Ian: collective wildness, hysteria, uncontrollable laughter at the television, mystification over the plots of two films, the last of which a sordid tale of a man who wants to murder his family, which he later does but only after numerous sexual encounters, five in a bed, etc., sex on the N. York metro...

We tried an after-image experiment with Lee’s camera flash unit and the results were different than what we’d expected. Because LSD increases the image retention capability of the retina, we’d assumed that the illuminated scene glimpsed during the flash would remain imprinted on our retinas, gradually fusing and changing. Instead we found that even in complete darkness everything was a riot of mind-generated colours, lights, and blossoming shapes, so much so that I couldn’t even see to move about and so ended up spreadeagled on the floor in my pleasure, much to Ian and Lee’s amusement.

I was a bit anxious lest I think myself into the same state of panic as a couple of weeks ago, with the same thought receding back into the very centre of my brain until all that remained was a black nothing. I had intimations that loss of control was imminent, and I had to fight these off to such an extent that at one point I was struggling to keep calm, at which point I persuaded Ian and Lee to tramp purposefully with me round the deserted sludgy streets of Watermouth, to King’s Road and back through the town centre. We passed an undertaker’s, the coffins piled up as we passed, surreal but real. Everything seemed very sordid. 

Back at Lee's we were endlessly fascinated by books of Escher prints, a book on the history of the Nazis and one on skinheads, but as the drug wore off we became less active and sank into long periods of subdued silence, lying on the bed or on the floor, our minds alive with “everything and nothing,” as Lee put it.

Coming down is a depressing and disillusioning experience; life seems hopeless.


Everything looks cheap and shabby. I felt very isolated and empty inside, utterly remote and alone in that black place inside my skull, and therein lies the panic and the fear. At these moments, my mind turns into a simple receptor unable to filter the unceasing bombardment of sights and sounds and information for even a second, and so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, like a drowning man must feel when he slips beneath the surface for the final time.

Not even shutting my eyes brought respite, for my brain was working at light speed and the thoughts and ideas crackled on and on, seemingly forever. It was quite an unpleasant sensation. To maintain an even keel and to keep my mind pinned down until the danger of it flying off at a tangent was passed, I pushed myself into single minded tasks, looking at pictures, reading books and talking about specific events or memories.

I went to bed at five thirty and woke up at half four this afternoon feeling wasted, but I have a tutorial with Dr. Harrison tomorrow and we're discussing Kafka’s The Trial, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening reading the book in bed.

The dangers of LSD are manifest and I feel uncertain about taking it in the future. I’m sure the fears I expressed above will never be far away, always lurking in some corner of my mind, ready to terrorise me.

“You can’t beat a good strong dose of normality,” said Lee when we’d woken up, and in a way he’s right.

Saturday, October 13, 1984

Flush


At lunchtime yesterday we were on campus sitting in the Cellar and we caught a glimpse of the headline in the Herald—“BRIGHTON BOMBING!” A picture showed the Grand Hotel, where the Conservative Party Conference is being held, its elegant façade ripped open.

So as Gareth has his Mum’s car, we decided to drive all the way over to Brighton to join the silent gawping crowds thronging the police barriers. The beach was cordoned off in a hundred yard stretch in front of the Hotel and so we got as close as we could and took photographs with Gareth’s camera, posed smiling before the ruins.

When we got back to Watermouth, Stu and Lindsey and I went into town for a drink at Blair’s Wine Bar and then the Blue Cap.

A near fight broke out at the latter between the affronted frump-faced bar owner and a whisky sodden oldster, a small pissed Polack whose threats sounded ridiculous from so lightweight a frame. “Drink up and get out!” yelled the stone-faced owner repeatedly, his eyes darting and hard.


Lee’s Mum has written a letter to Mrs. Coldwater-Hicks’ son telling him of the unspeakable conditions at the Grey House. “It’s like a squat” she writes with great (ironic) perceptiveness, ignorant of the true situation. . . Lee says he’d been telling Jeremy about hatchets thru’ walls, etc. at the Grey House, and Ma Hoy overheard him and basically made Lee agree to her writing the letter. Not thinking too much of it he meekly signed it too, but realised with horror later the possible consequences: i.e., Coldwater-Hicks visits, sees the shaven-headed squalor of the ground floor and basement, kicks everyone out, and when Gav subsequently discovers it was Lee who spilled the beans he comes after him with a shotgun, etc.

But luckily for Lee, other events have now rendered this unlikely, for Mrs. Coldwater-Hicks has now died and C-H Jnr. wants to get control of her estate and sell the house, which will take months. So Lee is planning on moving into Sutton Road knowing it’s for real this time, which gives the scheme a fair chance of success. When he had Maynard Gardens to fall back on his heart was never in it.

He's also bought four tabs of LSD from Gav, each with a cat’s face printed on the front, part (Gav says) of a consignment of a thousand posted from Amsterdam. I’m apprehensive after what happened, but a little curious too; I wonder how my mind will react this time.

Will the same thing happen again?

I’m no longer seized by enthusiasm for the tasks at hand and I recall with nostalgia the pacing and tingling excitement at the implications of a train of thought or an idea. I’m scared that such things have passed in the flush of ‘adolescence.’

No drama anymore.

Friday, October 12, 1984

Mantra


Last night Lee, Ian and I traveled up to London to see Mantra by Karl Heinz Stockhausen at the Barbican. This was my first visit to the Barbican; it’s an impressive—if ugly—building, a bit like an unnecessarily extravagant Arndale Centre of the Arts, all concrete curves and spacious galleries, orange décor, and brick corridors.

The concert featured two pianos and sound projection, the piano notes synthesized to sound off-key. It was all too fragmented to hold my attention for long, but there were a couple of highlights. Lee fell asleep part way through the performance, then woke up to tell me in a hoarse whisper that he’d got cramp in his arms. The girl sitting next to him laughed.

We were cynical about all the Guardian readers there. I’m finding it too easy to be cynical and so I posture about virtually everything.

Lindsey is very distant and is in one of her less accessible phases at present, more often than not retreating to her room or sitting very quietly in the kitchen. I hardly know her anymore and find it incredible I once thought us so close,

Old routines resurface. Gareth has gone to stay with girlfriend Caroline. Stu is next door attempting to appreciate Beethoven and reading a book about cosmology.


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