Monday, August 31, 1981
I read Biswas until two-thirty in the morning, and so got up late. Nanna P. was reading a story in yesterday’s paper about plans for shooting looters in the event of a nuclear war and said, “I can’t understand it. If there’s a God and we’re said to believe in him why is he letting it happen?” It’s easy, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. There isn’t a God and never has been.
She was picked up by Uncle Kenneth at dinnertime and after that I watched the Test match or just sat about upstairs. There was something heavy and strange about today.
Iranian President Rajai and the Prime Minister were killed in a bomb blast yesterday; Iran is crumbling into blood. No doubt Khomeini will order retaliatory executions of left-wing guerillas. Bang bang.
Robert rang. The cat is in a really bad way.
Sunday, August 30, 1981
I felt in a bit better mood today and worked on my Cubist essay until Grant came in the afternoon. He brought the Velvet Underground & Nico with him and we listened to records until seven-thirty when he went. He seemed to like An American Prayer. I felt good, Claire a long way away for once.
After Grant left I carried on writing about Braque and Picasso. I got interested–then excited–as I grew familiar with the different phases of their art. I finished late and felt as if I’d rounded things off neatly, precisely. But I couldn’t help thinking about Claire again. She was on the ‘phone no doubt.
Saturday, August 29, 1981
I had a horrible night for some reason, and hardly slept; I felt queasy with stomach pains and a headache. I woke up feeling depressed, a depression which continued all morning. I read A House for Mr Biswas.
Robert arrived for the match at quarter-to-two with the news that his cat George was knocked over by a car last night and is acting weirdly. Robert seemed subdued, but was back to his normal self after the match. Before going out we I heard that Boycott got his 21st Test century.
At Cardigan Park there was a smallish crowd and we both noticed how good natured everyone seemed and the unusual number of middle-aged/elderly blokes and families in the ground. There was a feeling of real optimism. The game started well, Athletic mounting a few good attacks and the spectators really behind the team, but typically we allowed Holmeshaw a cushy goal, Hudson dropping a cross. All seemed lost until Newlands lunged the ball into the net to equalise but Holmeshaw went back in front with a good goal. 1-2! Athletic struck back instantly, and Newlands made it 2-2 at half-time. Really exciting but I didn’t like the uncertainty and tension involved.
A roar greeted the lads as they came out for the second half, which was played at the same hectic pace. The referee was absolutely crap, awarding ridiculous decisions and whistling shrilly at the slightest excuse. Holmeshaw played physically, but Athletic’s winner was one of the best goals I’ve ever seen; really well worked diagonally from the left, on to Pattison’s foot and whammed into the top corner of the net from at least 30 yards out. All Athletic from then on, Holmeshaw on the defensive, and we deserved victory.
Friday, August 28, 1981
It was a grey day to begin with. I went into Easterby and bought jeans and trainers and then worked in the Library on my English essays all afternoon. I went into HMV, saw Pink Floyd’s Obscured By Clouds and couldn’t resist; a bloody stupid, mindless thing to do, not thinking at all. It cost me five pounds! I saw Angela in town with her boyfriend; she didn’t see me, I dodged into the bus queue.
God, I’m really knotted up inside. I feel like tearing everything up, throwing everything away, telling everyone to “piss off,’ starting all over again. I’d just like to make a clean break but I expect nothing would change. But I couldn’t. I hate this feeling in my stomach, this ache of restlessness. What can I do? I just feel like . . . well, I don’t know what I feel like, but I know I just detest my situation at the moment.
Thursday, August 27, 1981
Another hot day in the eighties. I started my Cubist essay on Picasso and Braque before Lee arrived. At twelve-thirty I heard the gate go and Mum shouted for me and I told her to send him up and who should peer round the door but Claire! I suppose inside I was elated.
A rush of conversation, talking her about her summer camp. It was good to see her but my nervousness and excitement or whatever was again apparent. I was actually trembling! It got really stuffy in my room and so we decided to go out. She asked me down to her place. Lee never showed up. On the way down I felt more at ease, and towards the end I felt quite OK and confident. She told me about her fledgling romance with a lad from the camp who she spends ages on the ‘phone with; inside I was all screwed up and frustrated. Her Mum told me about a job.
I left at five feeling anti-climactic. Pointless, self-indulgent analysis on the way home. What is it about me? Jeremy rang. . . . I'm sliding irrevocably into the mould once more.
Wednesday, August 26, 1981
We set off for Snaythrop Abbey at eight-thirty and as usual with hiking, I began the day in a foul, irritable mood, which persisted until we really got going. It was clear and sunny as we set off up through a plantation to broad meadows, heading for Emwood Moor. We enjoyed superb views towards Emwood reservoir; the heather was incredibly vivid purple, the water a lurid blue.
As we approached the 'entrance' to moor we could hear the gunshots from the grouse shooters.We prayed the moor was open, and we were lucky. By now the sun was unrelenting; there was no shade and our dry, tired progress through heather and bracken was unpleasant. I cooled my feet in a pool beyond the reservoir (date on house ‘1891’), and we watched a green dragonfly laying its eggs beneath the surface of the water. Dad saw a brown lizard, and later I too saw one wriggle into a clump of bilberries.
We followed the road into Ranelathe where we had some tea, before carrying on along the Ainder towards Snaythrop Abbey. There were people everywhere, especially old women. I began to enjoy myself. The evening was mellow and after five miles of riverside we reached Snaythrop by sunset, driving home in twilight.
Tuesday, August 25, 1981
I listened to music with Robert most of the morning and afternoon. I was really impressed with the superb, psychedelic sounds of Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets. I was in a lethargic mood really, lying on the floor, while Carol did her washing in the kitchen. At two-thirty, Robert gave me a lift to town and I was home for half-four. Lee rang; he’s coming on Thursday and Grant’s coming over on Sunday.
In the evening I watched a programme on sculpture, 1914-39, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Constructivism. Dad was really sarcastic about some of the pieces and although I hate his ruthlessly blinkered attitude, I do think abstract art’s point is totally lost if an explanatory note about the artist's intentions isn’t included. How can ‘ordinary’ people comprehend really abstract things? If art is a mode of communication and if abstract art doesn't communicate ideas then hasn't it failed?
Monday, August 24, 1981
A lazy morning lounging about playing a cricket game with Robert, Carol out on the lawn with the cat. At teatime we drove into town, to a 2nd hand bookshop there, where I bought a 1919 first edition of The Meaning Of The World Revolution by Hamilton Fyfe for 40p.
We passed an enjoyable evening looking at Robert’s books and talking about them; he’s reading Samuel Johnson’s works at the moment as part of a wider study of various poets/authors. At the dining table he delivered a monologue about his cynical view of society: "99% of people are morons"; "it feels like it's pointless doing anything when people are so ungrateful and selfish"; "I sometimes feel like I could go mad.". . . My contributions were limited to “Hmmm”s and “I agrees.” I think the natural outcome of his line of thought is suicide.
Today I was gripped by enthusiasm for art from the early decades of the twentieth century; André Breton, Dadaism, Surrealism, the Russian literary scene, etc. . . .
Sunday, August 23, 1981
The tension was unmistakable this morning, a pregnant, repressed silence. Mum was the worst.
Mid-morning we all set off for Upper Sike, driving to a reservoir hidden in a valley of trees and overshadowed by surprisingly high-looking moorland fells. Everything was incredibly still and heat-heavy. We had our picnic on moorland, surrounded by flies. Later, we ventured back into Upper Sike itself, to look at a secondhand bookshop where Robert put a deposit on two 1822 Gazettes and I bought a 1940 propaganda biography of Stalin's life and a 1936 book, Revolt in Spain.
Robert and I drove Mum back to Easterby in late-afternoon sun. Dad was gardening when we got there, things painfully unspoken for me. Back at Robert's, he and I spent the evening playing a cricket game.
Saturday, August 22, 1981
I slept on the floor. Robert was the first one up and with Mum and Carol, we were soon off for Haley Hill, in a good mood, ribbing each other in the car. When we got there Mum and Carol went to a pie and peas place while me and Robert looked round record shops. I saw loads of albums I can never remember when I'm in HMV.
We met Mum and Carol in the old Northgate-style market and had pie and peas, which were great and cost less than 50p. We were amused by the place; cracked plates, vinegar in old pop bottles, crowded and noisy, and afterwards, while Mum and Carol went to look around the market Robert and I each bought a record. I got a reggae album, Everything Is Great by Inner Circle.
We then went on to the match, Haley Hill Celtic v Easterby Athletic. A goalless first 45 minutes but it was still really exciting, end-to-end stuff. Haley Hill didn’t look very good. The louts, morons and scum were back, the Haley Hill tribesmen shouting “Sieg Heil!” at the black players. Bastards. Haley Hill hit the post but Athletic emerged looking skillful and well organised. Much the same in the second half until Athletic scored from a Newlands header. Fourteen minutes later it was two-nil from at least twenty yards out! Wild scenes. Brilliant!
I came home jubilant but the corniness of my album soon grounded me and I got pretty quiet, but not over that. Symptomatic instead of something bigger, the same old thing, last week, my lack of originality, my corny record and book collection, my fashion mongering. I went out for a walk on my own, feeling fed up and when I came back we all went to the pub. A pint of cider brought on the old warmth between-the-ears and, after getting fish and chips, we were in fine spirits. But it all went horribly wrong.
There was the usual post-meal banter and Robert somehow got on about Dad missing out by refusing to experience new things. Initially Mum agreed, but then, at a certain point, she totally misinterpreted Robert and it got nasty. I could feel the tension in my stomach; somehow it felt familiar. "For a teacher, you're a bad judge of character," said Mum; this inflamed things further. Robert exaggeratedly accused Mum of “making it like it was nine years ago” and accused her of deliberately causing friction. Mum went stonily to bed, Robert went for a walk (this at midnight), and me and Carol could only sit there unable to believe what had happened. It was all so pointless, so unwarranted, unexpected, and angry.
Whatever has happened in the past has obviously left a mark on Robert; when he got back he gradually got more and more intense and angry, and eventually he ended up in tears. I felt awful, awkward, and out of place, tight with embarrassment. Carol plead with Robert, trying to calm him down, them both desperate and in tears now. "I hate how some subjects are taboo and how Mum's voice gets all condescending and sugary," he said. Things felt bad, as if they can never be ‘right’ again now. I mean, in the mornings, next week say, all this will always be there, just underneath.
Friday, August 21, 1981
Thursday, August 20, 1981
Dad’s on nights so I got up to the expected funereal silence.
I escaped into Easterby and bought a record. More heart searching; Miles Davis’s new one or Jim Morrison's An American Prayer? I settled for the latter, but. . . . I also bought Herbert Read’s A Concise History of Modern Art and a book from the library, 1968, by Richard Stern and took out books on Braque and Picasso for Art homework.
I still feel strange; not really back somehow. . . .
Wednesday, August 19, 1981
We were in a really good mood on getting up and someone even commented on it; “. . . are you two singing because you’re glad to be going home . . .?” On the way to the station saw several shops worth investigating but we had no real time. We reached the station at about ten. It was good to be on the train going home, back to good old Easterby, back to Dad’s grumblings over the weather, to Robert and Carol, football, records, my books, back to 'it all.'
Total boredom on the train; I made an attempt to write what I felt and thought but the words wouldn’t come. . . . Something indefinably familiar crept into the landscape at Chesterfield or thereabouts, something which I identify as “The North." Whether it's the dull weather or just a combination of elements I don’t know but it was real, and somehow everything seemed smaller, cramped, more chaotic. . . . It was pouring with rain when we got off the train at Easterby. A superb welcome, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Egley Road but then, once I got here, it was all gone again. I had nothing to show for my anticipation.
I’ve enjoyed the holiday but at times my mind is still troubled by my ‘dilemma’. My scientifically rational side, so unimaginative in a way, makes me feel pretentious for being interested in art, etc. How do the two go together? Are they actually real? Jeremy rang, and instantly the attitude, the ‘decisions’ I've made over the last fortnight seem so impossible to maintain, so easily torn down.
Tuesday, August 18, 1981
We were off by nine fifteen, the weather fine once more. I was still stiff from yesterday, especially in my shins, but we made good progress in the shade along the road which wound through fields and copses of heavy, green trees passing the occasional farm or house. Gradually though we climbed in a long, gradual grind towards Lower Fivestones, from where we got our first views of Abbencaster, a paste of browns, whites and greys shimmering on the horizon. Encouraged we clumped on, my feet throbbing, and reached the outskirts of Abbencaster at twelve. We had several miles of pleasant suburban streets to wend through and bought fish and chips for dinner.
We were both struck by a great feeling of ‘backhomeness’; the urban sprawl, the ugly buildings spreading away on all sides, the cars racing by, all the people, the supermarkets, and the shops seemed so familiar. Easterby. The holiday’s really over now.
We passed time in a bookshop before aching the last mile or so to the hostel, which is big, clean, and modern. I started Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Monday, August 17, 1981
We were off by eight-thirty, stopping for a drink and a ‘paper at Broxdon Wood, and by ten we'd covered several long and undulating miles, each crested rise opening up a new stretch of road across brown moorland. By late morning we were dropping down through fields and lowlands and the heat was oppressive. A mile outside Coppaknowle we stopped for dinner feeling absolutely shagged out. We stopped again in the town centre, and again and again, really tired now, my feet a throbbing mass.
Past Scarcott we were in farmland, then woodland, ‘proper’ deciduous stuff, and we were just getting fed up when we reached Trogaton hostel, fifteen miles since Steeplestow. We had a two hour wait until it opened; we watched the wood ants that were everywhere.
Trogaton hostel is simple grade, with no hot water in the washrooms, just a jug from the members’ kitchen. The meal was late but massive, huge dollops of Shepherd’s pie and loads of bread offsetting the conditions a bit. Anyway our fellow diners were a good laugh.
Sunday, August 16, 1981
Grant and I set off for Steeplestow, fourteen miles distant, at the usual nine/nine-thirty time. We took a B-road out of Hengarrow and were soon sweating, trudging, clumping up a steep road in hot sun. I was so tired, but just as we reached the top, Grant was accosted by a Frenchman, who offered us a lift as far as Scahampton. We gratefully bundled into his Renault and were driven three miles through boulder-littered moorland.
By the time we reached Steeplestow after walking the miles from Camcannow and through Middle Hallacate we were dying for something to drink, only to find that Steeplestow was a collection of houses and little else. We felt utterly dry, but eventually Grant found a place open at nearby Broxdon Wood.
The youth hostel at Steeplestow is quite a good one, with a rustic interior and much wood. The dormitory is in a converted barn, hung with repro Picassos, Turners, Corots. . . It sits next to a plantation of fir trees, and everything seems to be run with vaguely military precision, to the accompaniment of Beethoven piano concertos. The Queen’s portrait hangs over the warden’s hatch, along with a neatly polished brass barometer, and there are outlines drawn on the wall where pans should hang.
In the evening we walked once more, midges everywhere, talking again of the usual; art, God. . . . I must read up on more things for next year. I still don’t know much of anything. On the way back to the hostel we watched a large bat wheeling and catching insects on the edge of the plantation, its shrieks high-pitched and metallic. I’ve never seen a bat for such a long period of time and so close before. In a strange sort of way, it seems the holiday is over already, as if we are just now filling in time until Abbencaster and home. The coast section seems so long ago, so remote, that I wish the holiday was over in case anything happens to mar it.
Saturday, August 15, 1981
The day began hot, but deteriorated by evening. We spent our time wandering around the streets of Hengarrow, which were pleasantly rural and nondescript, frequenting bookshops mainly. . . . I bought Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and a May ’68 book of love poems. Grant bought Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition.
In the evening we drifted through twilight urbanity to the park and a much graffitied concrete shelter and talked about art again. There’s so much to do, to read, to write, the theatre, film, concerts, books . . . yet so little time with ‘A’ levels. But I should never ever be bored.
It isn’t feeling like a holiday anymore. The routine is now familiar.
Friday, August 14, 1981
We woke up early and had no difficulty catching the bus to Hakesdown. The morning was a leaden one, sea mist drifting across the hill tops. Everything went according to plan and we spent several hours in Hakesdown. I read Protest. It was weird, but I was struck by a sort of familiar feeling, a feeling that the holiday was closing down slowly. It must be because we left the coast, an inner attraction and identification with “inland.” Grant commented on it too. We caught the quarter-to-four bus to Hengarrow, which cost 97p!
The weather had picked up by the time we got there. The hostel in Hengarrow is in Pendelliott Hall, an enormous mansion with carved stairways, oak paneling, and vast spartan rooms. There are a dozen of us here and there's a total lack of feeling of ‘belonging’ or camaraderie like there was at St. Delaward. Instead the building seems silent and dead and oozes hostility. It reminds Grant of a Victorian psychiatric hospital. There were just four of us at dinner, me, Grant and two girls, but Grant couldn’t stop giggling and snorting and shaking with laughter and they didn’t know what to do.. Much embarrassed laughter.
We went into Hengarrow in the evening, talking, talking, talking, about art, music, people, society, mental hospitals, etc., and we walked as we talked and then sat for a while on a bridge over a canal while bats flitted around our heads.
We declared a mutual affirmation of a kind of anarchist view of things and we even made a less-than-concrete commitment to try to do a magazine or newsletter or something. "I can't live up to the image some see as ‘normality’" said Grant. "I am as I am and and not many people accept me; I can’t pretend anyway," and I agreed, and the more I listened the more I agreed, yet I was in a sort of turmoil because I know I’m sometimes guilty of the very things we both decry. It’s inevitable I suppose. I'm afraid of 'society’s' judgment of views, speech, dress or interests I think, and I realise it’s a crap confession to make. If I’m in someone’s company, the company of someone I respect, I try in a way to ‘live up’ to what they expect I ‘should’ be like and keep any ‘extreme’ views under wraps for fear of spoiling the friendship. . But integrity towards myself and what I 'really' believe in is more important. Why the hell should I give a shit what others think? Surface impressions are unimportant.
I just don’t know.
Thursday, August 13, 1981
We were out of the hostel early and wandered about in the sun once more; we visited the Museum of Folk Magic, which was quite interesting.
I bought a copy of Sounds and read about Mood Six, Le Mat, and the London psychedelic revival which is really good in a way, but in another it seems like they’re all missing the point by turning what should be an attitude, a way of life, into a veneer of deliberate fashion-mongering. For the rest of the afternoon we sat by Spriggan Rock and I read John Wain, Kingsley Amis, Colin Wilson, and John Braine in Protest (I didn’t really get the Colin Wilson), or talked about music and the attitude of people in general, which we do a lot. I bought Fabian Essays in Socialism (1908) for 75p from a pottery shop and sent Claire a postcard.
After tea we had another highly enjoyable sojourn wandering up the little country lane I spoke of yesterday, but this time going even farther up, past fields of wheat stained by the late-evening sun and then down through dark trees and a desolate graveyard. There was a church that was straight out of a Hammer horror film, surrounded on all sides by gloomy trees. The whole place was incredible; dim, green, and utterly silent, tombstones decaying quietly amid shadows and long grass. Not a bird sang. The sunset was incredible, mackerel clouds lit from beneath by the sun.
The Bucca Morris Men were in full spate down by the bridge when we got back to the main road and we stood for a while, enjoying the scene, feeling almost patriotic, but a pride in tradition and custom which I like to think is healthier than jingoistic flag-waving. The whole evening was really quite good and would have been bettered only if, as Grant put it, “there were two friendly girls” with us. . . .
Wednesday, August 12, 1981
We walked in sun and heat to Tregall, six miles distant along the cliffs. The path was easy to follow but wound up and down steep inclines and although we stopped only once, we seemed to make slow progress. I was really shagged and we were just about to start worrying when Tregall harbour appeared.
The harbour is very narrow, hemmed in by enormous, slate cliffs. The cluster of houses around the harbour date back to the sixteenth century and included, much to my delight, a second hand bookshop which was next door to the hostel. The heat was really sapping, and I again splashed out cash on drinks with gay abandon.
We sat for while on the cliffs near Spriggan Point overlooking the harbour entrance and I felt really low; angry, resentful, frustrated, and bored. The hostel opened at five; it's not as good as the ones at St. Delaward, Porthrose or Quinstow and is a bit more primitive, with rows of beds upstairs like a prison dorm. At teatime our fellow diners consisted of two Englishmen, an American, a German, and a NZ woman who regaled us all with tales of her solo trips in Canada and elsewhere. Much hearty companionship from them all to the exception of guess who.
I sloped off on my own, wrapped up in regrets and self pity but these soon disappeared as I walked along a long, narrow road which seemed to go on for miles. I ended up in the actual village of Tregall itself, and the atmosphere was intense, heightened as it was by the growing twilight. The main street was sunlit and silent and almost deserted, old locals watching St. Gwinear’s Brass Band as it crashed amateurishly through the houses playing the “Floral Dance” followed by dancing girls and kids. Unreal. I also stumbled across the grassy hillocks and mounds of Sancerre Castle, a Norman fort.
I went back for Grant and we both walked up the road again, through Tregall village and beyond this time, down a tiny country lane that was overshadowed by thick, weedy verges. The gloomy hedges created a weird, ancient atmosphere which we both just stood and savoured. Our conversation turned to witchcraft and the paranormal and I got really spooked out by the dark, oppressive trees. We imagined ancient, pagan rituals conducted by hostile insular moon worshipping locals. It has that sort of Wicker Man feeling. We had a real laugh.
Tuesday, August 11, 1981
We set off for St. Delaward village. It looked like being another good day.
The atmosphere I detected last night at the castle was gone. The milling hordes of tourists–of which, I suppose, we are two–were everywhere, polluting and cheapening everything. Crap. It sounds pretentious I know but I hate them, the tick-it-off-the-itinerary types who rush through in half-an-hour. We wandered on to Polglyn in incredible heat to see the mound. I rang Mum, and then we walked back through the village. I was spending money like confetti, and a combination of the heat and the crowds made us both irritable and short-tempered.
As we waited for the hostel we sat and talked about everything. It was as if our bottled up feelings spewed out all of a sudden. I don’t know; with one breath I utter communistic oaths, slogans almost, yet with the other I express my hatred for people. They are just ordinary, everyday people yet possess none of the proletarian virtues Lenin spoke of. People, working people, are the most racist, bigoted, narrow-minded and prejudiced of the lot. And they don’t even care. Everyone is so predictable. But perhaps it’s not the people themselves I should hate, but the fact that their attitudes are moulded by junk media, warped from birth by the preceding, equally manipulated generation.
My dreams of becoming politically involved are empty in today’s situation. Parliamentary politics, the jacket-and-tie, ‘order, order’ atmosphere; it's all so restrictive. Westminster MPs are totally out of touch with reality; they just talk and talk and talk. There isn’t hope of any direct action, just empty words and the occasional earth-trembling vote. It's a careerist’s paradise. I have a real desire to actually do something concrete, do something to show my feelings. But what? Join the SPGB? What Grant said about the ‘left’s’ petty factionalism is true; joining the SPGB would achieve nothing. Yet there must be some way. . . .
Grant made self-described “feeble attempts” at conversation with two girls which really made me cringe because I could see myself in him. It was painful, and after this I was plunged into self-piteous personality analyses and thought about how bloody difficult it is to know what to say or do with anyone, especially when it doesn’t come naturally.
Another fine sunset over the sea–but I’ve just thought; here I am wallowing like some self-indulgent hippo in the mud of self-pity. I take so much for bloody granted!
Monday, August 10, 1981
Another red-hot day. We were up early, in a good mood preparing for departure, when our spirits were deflated by a bloke who asked us where we were heading. He expressed amazement when I said St. Delaward and he said it was about twenty five miles away. Thanks.
We set off feeling slightly anxious, and by eleven we'd only reached Cosnance and my feet were hurting. More blisters. We reached Little Slademere soon after and decided to get a bus the rest of the way. We asked an old lady for directions and set off through fields of corn and down a narrow, sunny lane for Wadeshayle Bridge.
Wadeshayle Bridge seems a nice place but we couldn’t really tell from what we saw. We caught the ferry across to Penstone where we had our sandwiches and sat about in the blistering heat watching and waiting. The next bus took us to Bolwen which seems the most ‘sincere’ town we’ve visited here, everything perfectly unpretentious and ‘natural’. We had hassles galore as we tried to get our connection; I read the timetable wrong and we were both plunged into the blackest of moods and I was about to start looking for a ‘phone to call up the station when the bus finally arrived.
We reached St. Delaward at teatime after a superb journey through the ‘interior’ which is just as I imagined it would be. St. Delaward is incredible; the romantic stigma of the place, the atmosphere, and the scenery is all as I’d imagined. The church was filled with flowers and was deathly quiet apart from the buzzing of bees. St. Delaward Castle brooded up on the dark cliffs.
The hostel is at the end of a long, dusty track perched at the very westward edge of the cliffs and as we arrived the sun blazed along the horizon. Bob, the warden, served tea outside and everyone ate on the cliff edge, the sea and sky incandescent. Grant and I agreed that the place has the easy, primitive and informal atmosphere of a friendly commune.
Sunday, August 9, 1981
Today was a rest day. The weather sunny again, my nose and neck sore and red. We walked up to the village of Portwenn Bay and I bought a ‘paper, and then back down along a narrow footpath through trees to the Bay itself, which looked so promising gleaming in the sun.
We sat for awhile on Trenannon Head; in the distance, across the sparkling sea, we could see Quinstow, barely visible beyond the haze-shrouded cliffs. Trenannon Head was brilliant, the lighthouse gleaming white, the coastguard post looking so remote, its mast whistling in the wind. There's always a wind on the coast, even when it’s clear and we sat once more on the cliff edge, looking out over the blue sea towards St. Delaward. I really enjoyed the view. The sky was full of fair-weather cumulus and washed out blues, the sea a deeper blue, with the occasional white foam of a breaking wave, and the land on which we sat was speckled with yellow dandelions and tiny purple flowers.
After this, we trudged down a narrow country lane, through golf-links to the village of Portwenn Bay again, and sat for a while on a bench there, feeling sore and hot.
We ended our day watching the milling hordes on the beach. They all seemed so blissfully ignorant of the passage of time, yet their holidays will seem so short, each one moving in their own miniature cosmos, aware but unaware of the others. It's hard to describe my feelings. I can’t help thinking like this; on train journeys and at hostels we meet people, get to know them a little bit but then leave and never ever see them again. It’s sad.
Saturday, August 8, 1981
We set off along the coast path for Porthrose at nine. I was in some discomfort with my rucksack, but we made good time and as my shoulders grew accustomed to the dead-weight, I began to enjoy myself. We bought packed lunches from the Quinstow hostel so we flaked out gratefully and ate near an ancient caravan which sold cans of pop. We arrived at Porthrose mid-afternoon and spent the next few hours watching the gulls on Bodgeath Point.
At the hostel, as we washed up after tea, we talked to a Dutch cyclist, but it all felt so unnatural and forced. Afterwards, we wandered down onto the rocks of Bodgeath Point. Why is it I hate people of my own age? Is it because I don't know them? Or is it just another manifestation of my paranoia?
Friday, August 7, 1981
Walked along the cliffs to Trebyn in scorching heat. We sat high up on the cliff top for several hours enjoying the breeze, but our meditations were continually disturbed by RAF Nimrods flying out from St. Bodmayne and then turning shorewards to fly back inland, a few hundred feet above the sea.
Back at the hostel we got talking to a man from Leicester; he’s cycling on his own on a round trip from Abbencaster, but apart from this we've had no real contact with anyone. At the hostel there's also an old Glaswegian who's on his own, plus the cockneys. . . . In the evening we wandered into Quinstow and listened to the preachings of a group of ‘Christians.’ We could hardly keep our faces straight.
Thursday, August 6, 1981
The day began swelteringly hot, too hot, but soon clouded in and turned colder. We trudged over to the other side of Quinstow, our mutual dislike of the crowds reaffirmed by the thronging hordes sporting bronzed limbs and identical sporty outfits. We had dinner at a café and spent hours sitting in various shelters.
Back at the hostel we listened to three Londoners boasting and laughing about how they were going to get laid tonight; they were being really really crude. Amusing.
I’m looking forward to moving out. Another day to go!
Wednesday, August 5, 1981
Dad ran Grant and I down to the station. Our train left at seven twenty, reached Whincliffe at about eight fifteen, and within an hour we were well on our way. There we sat, gazing out at the horrible scenery; the whole world seems to be one big railway siding. We criticised society and observed and commented on our fellow passengers. I imagined how I'd write a character description of each one.
We got into Cornwall mid afternoon, and caught our first sight of the sea at Bealswater, and rolled into Quinstow at twenty past five. There was much blundering about as we tried to find the hostel; Grant’s scowls grew and my shoulders were weary from the rucksack, but we eventually found it, near the sea-front. After tea we wandered out and watched a superb sunset. I hate Quinstow. It seems like a typical seaside town but the crowds down here seem more alien, more separate somehow. Maybe it’s just my paranoia.
The YH members all seemed to know one another. One big family.
Tuesday, August 4, 1981
Monday, August 3, 1981
I rang Grant up about our hols and he invited me to a party at Fitzgerald's. I went into Easterby and bought a good book from the library, a 1938 edition about a TUC man’s journey through Russia.
At nine I met Grant at his house and we walked on to Fitzgerald's, which has a typical, unremarkable, and gloomy interior, lots of seats and tables scattered around occupied by groups of people, thudding music, and flashing lights. Grant and I sat with a lad and two girls, Caroline and Ruth. Typical inhibitions to begin with. . . .
Seven pints later I was gone, worse than ever before. I was told I was “serious even when you’re drunk" by Caroline, who giggled continually, and I felt quite happy really, swapping drinks, even falling over, pouring beer down my self and lying on the floor. People were spewing up in the toilets. We left at one-thirty and I walked home absolutely sloshed and weird feeling, with non-focusing eyes and muzzy, buzzing ears.
Sunday, August 2, 1981
A continuation of yesterday really, Mum and Dad still enthusing over their Highland fling, the weather still sweltering. In the afternoon they went out for a walk by the river while I sat in the sun reading Protest: The Beat Generation and The Angry Young Men and listening to another England fightback. Botham was 5 for 1 at one point and England won by 29 runs.
I watched reflections of the RW in evening and The Editors. Definitely anti at this point.
Saturday, August 1, 1981
I watched the Test match all day. Another classic England collapse; 219 all out.
Mum and Dad came home at six and were full of the joys o’ the North. They both seemed really taken with the Highlands, Tartan, roe deer, bagpipes, etc., and brought loads of souvenirs back. They had a close encounter with a roe deer at Tomintoul; it cleared a fence just in front of them. As I talked with them about the Royal Wedding I found to my horror that I was almost nostalgic about it!