Friday, April 30, 1982

Less and less

Compendium Bookshop sent a reply to my letter, and I almost did a little jig of joy on reading the book list: all of Kerouac’s novels, stuff by Burroughs, Ginsberg, Corso, Snyder, Ferlinghetti, McClure; they even have the Ann Charters biography of Kerouac. I set off to school in an excited, high frame of mind.

Hirst told me that I'm failing totally to understand, grasp or even connect with Conrad. “You have talent but you’re just attaining less and less.” This gave me the humiliating down-to-earth-with-a-Bump realisation that my literary-grandiose-art-jazz pretensions are just that - pretensions. I now feel a despairing but real eagerness to right all my wrongs and start again. Help! I’m throwing it all away!

After school I felt so sickened and fed up with my scruffiness that I had my hair cut to round-the-ear-shortness.

Thursday, April 29, 1982


I wandered into school late morning and got involved in the usual self-defeating arguments about politics. As usual too, I was uncertain and totally unsure of myself and indeed, “unable to provide any alternative.” How can I hope to ever get my views across if I’m so bloody ineffectual that I grind to a stumbling mumbling submissive halt? “You’ve gone quiet, Marty!” leered Duncan. Yes I have, because I don't know anymore! I make it all sound so unconvincing.

At times like this, getting called those stupid but annoying names (“Tina,” “Marty”) and allowing things to get on top of me too easily, I can honestly say yes when Grant asks, “Do you ever feel you’re isolated at school?” But really none of it matters because I can never match my resolve at home with the realities of school.

Wednesday, April 28, 1982

Better than before

We had a History test first period and I thought I did better than before; my answer felt more comprehensive and was better-written. In English, Hirst really seems to be despairing of us: just weeks to go and we don't know the text. Little else to report: pleasant conversations with Claire, slight discord with Jeremy.

In the evening I listened to Northern Ireland v. Scotland on Radio 2.

Tuesday, April 27, 1982

Healthy panic

Another hot, sticky summer-like day. I was dressed all in black and feeling the heat. In History, Mrs. Mills remarked on our remarkable coolness considering the nearness of ‘A’ levels. She was encouraging us to develop a state of “healthy panic.”

I had a History test on Bismarck last period and then Art and I left school feeling in a good mood. Impressive Dali-esque sunset clouds.

Nothing has really developed Falklands-wise, but war now looks inevitable. Dad indulges in his usual jingoist reveling. I intended working in the evening but Tim and Peter called round and stayed a couple of hours or so and we indulged in the usual crude rumour mongering and cheap jokes.

Monday, April 26, 1982


It was fine and sunny and after History, Lee and I got the bus into Easterby and looked round the library (renewed Jack’s Book, took out Zen In the Art of Helping by David Brandon and Concentration and Meditation by Christmas Humphreys), and then went to second-hand shops where I nearly bought a pair o’ trousers. Instead I bought a stylus and posted my £4 membership renewal for Easterby Astronomical Society because I’d suddenly felt sad and guilty about allowing it to lapse. I tried on hats in BHS.

I got home at five and worked intermittently all evening on my Hirst essay in-between listening to Athletic beat Keddon 3-0. I’m finding Conrad so difficult. I finished at midnight or so.

Sunday, April 25, 1982

Of human feelings

Dad’s prejudice and unthinking bias again made me angry. He said The Observer is “anti-British,” “wishy-washy” and “weak.” He's going to get The Sunday Telegraph instead. He sees what he wants to see, nothing else.

At 1240 a Radio 2 newsflash brought the long-expected Ministry of Defence announcement that there's been a British helicopter attack on an Argentinian submarine. There are no reports of casualties. Things got very much worse in the afternoon and Argentina reported they’d repulsed a machine gun attack on Grytviken and an attack on the island of S. Georgia itself. They were also unconfirmed reports of fighting on the island.

Anger, tension and misunderstanding between Mum and Dad, Dad extolling the virtues of strength over “weakness” and pacifism: he even criticised Christianity. Sometimes he seems so militaristic and intolerant. When Mum resisted he got frustrated, puffing and blowing and saying “I-can’t-understand-your-attitude.” Mum said he was putting a barrier of personal differences between them both and sometimes I can't believe their marriage has lasted as long as it has. Dad is devoted in his own way but he doesn’t seem to understand her very well, and it always seems to be Mum who has to back down, swallow the bitter pill and sacrifice herself. She's the one who's had to work harder to make it come right. She’s had to keep quiet. Later went on a walk over Keddon Moor and came back in good spirits. I hate to see arguments.

At 6 came the news that Marines were ashore on S. Georgia and at 9 the Government announced that S. Georgia had been recaptured. I couldn’t help feeling a little thrill of excitement.

The true spirit of the country is in its people, its cities and streets and pubs and fields, and has nothing to do with the Government and jingoism and the petty games of power-politics. Mum, if only she'd see it, is an anarchist at heart.

Heard Ornette Coleman's Of Human Feelings on Peter Clayton's show.

Saturday, April 24, 1982

Fighting by Monday

I intended going into Easterby early but fannied about and then just couldn’t be bothered. Mum seems really tense, drawn and weary and she's been depressed for a while now I think. I know I don't help with selfish behaviour and idleness.

I’ve worked out that so far, in nearly two years of writing this journal I’ve written nearly 200,000 words: at this rate I'll write a million words every ten years.

Robert and Carol arrived and at two we set off for the match in bright sunshine. Athletic kicked off towards the Kop end and I had a real knot of tension in the pit of my stomach. Haley Hill were wearing garish turqouise shirts and socks. Athletic began really well, playing fast, flowing and skillful football but the Haley Hill goalie Mexford was really good. For the first quarter of an hour their defence remained tight and then McArdle nearly kicked Mexford as they went for the ball. Mexford retailiated and the crowd went wild as the ref’ booked him.

This set the atmosphere alight and every Easterby attack was greeted with a roar but gradually the initiative slipped away and the teams went in goalless.

The second-half was much the same but the clock ticked inexorably onward and I was hating it. Then, then after 65 minutes we scored: a fantastic Newlands right foot shot which Mexford couldn’t reach. It was a superb feeling. Newlands was really giving it everything, the whole team was buzzing in fact, creating several close chances and hitting the crossbar. But McArdle was pathetic and to crown his crap performance he missed a penalty.

I was in a good mood: Athletic are the only team in the top 6 to win! I walked home through Woodhead Park, over Ashburn and down through the woods and the golf course. The woods were pleasant and quiet, bathed in bright early evening sunshine and I stood and just soaked in the leafy quietness. A skylark soared skyward somewhere over fields and I imagined what it was like a few hundred years ago, unspoiled moorland clear across to Withenkirk. I really enjoyed my walk.

The Falklands issue seems to be reaching a critical point and late on Mum was again near to tears: “They’ll be fighting by Monday. . . . I can’t believe that mankind’s doing it again! Why don’t they ever learn?” I felt tense and angry and screwed up and felt so helpless. Governments shepherd us about like fools.

Friday, April 23, 1982

Something else

I stayed up late last night writing an essay for Slicer and generally just contentedly bodging around. I was in a good mood when I went to school and yet couldn’t help but notice how on the whole I'm isolated from everyone.

I was a bit upset, annoyed and conscience-stricken by Hirst's revelation that the English staff are worried about me and that at my present rate I’ll be lucky to get an ‘E.’ She said that Mr. Gray showed her my Tuesday test essay on Imperialism was an “empty painted egg” full of elegant language but nothing else. I could only counter by lamely saying “Wait and see. Everyone might be surprised.”

Steve said I look as if I'm on “on drugs already” (?)

While we were having tea, Mum and Dad told me about the hundreds of Muslims praying on the grass surrounding Marlborough Immigrant Centre, a numberless array of shoes in the car park. As we ate, two enormous black crows hopped about the garden.

I watched Something Else from Whincliffe and a bitter, angry and defiant one man play by David Khan: its rawness and violence shocked me, but what do I know of social injustice? I speak empty words from my cocoon of middle-class respectable best-breaks-in-everything life. I get the best opportunities for education yet I can't be bothered utilising them. I don't know the first thing about real work, the kind of work endured daily by millions.

Thursday, April 22, 1982


I went into school at break intending to stay just long enough to get the title for our Art composition, but I ended up staying there all day. It was warm again, tho’ it did cloud over toward mid-afternoon. I tried to work but inevitably failed and ended up feeling unsure of myself.

I didn't plan on writing much but I feel like moaning on today. As we waited round after school to set off to Art, I got embroiled in an argument over politics with Deborah, Duncan, and Steve. We tried to pin Deborah down about her political views, and I waxed all anarchistic and unrealistic as usual, which led Deborah and Steve to call me a nihilist. Why is it I can't come across as I want at school?

Deborah talked about the ‘arguments’ of earlier this year and how Lee, Jeremy and I had made stories up and talked about her behind her back (all of which was just to get at Duncan), and I came to realise how pathetic and cheap we were, and even cruel. She confessed to being upset by it all and I went to Art feeling really worthless.

Wednesday, April 21, 1982

The void

More fine weather all day, more pessimism from Hirst at our failure to understand Conrad which was painfully apparent. I felt weirdly guilty that I find the book mystifying and that I'm unable to grasp the ideas I sense fit in somewhere (the void, etc., Naipaul). Otherwise, school was pleasantly innocuous. In Film Society we watched Animal House.

At home when I'm on my own I take myself so seriously but I can't get this across at school: I change somehow, and start to feel unconvincing and stale, almost as if I'm parodying myself. It's like I’m waiting for a time to be serious yet one day soon I’ll wake up and wonder where all the time has gone and be stuck with my thoughts, alone.

Tuesday, April 20, 1982

Sport International

Andrew went back to College at eight a.m.

I wore my baggy black trousers to school which caused some amusement. On the whole though, it was a faceless day characterised only be renewed feelings of guilt, desperation-cum-panic and a sort of grimly humorous fatalism. Hirst's English is the one I really worry about; four novels/plays and I haven’t even read The Secret Agent yet.

Giles was faced with a class full of discontented, disillusioned and restless people. He said the expected post-mock malaise has come late for us and still has no signs of abaiting. Seven weeks to go.

A History test on Imperialism last lesson.

When I got home from Art I was bollocked ferociously by Mum. She'd discovered the school bag she bought me for Christmas splashed and dribbled with paint as I'd tried to cover up that awful Sport International logo. I endured her thin-lipped razor-tongued lashings, her accusations of “lunacy” and “childishness,” her condemnations of my abject laziness and selfishness, etc. “We wasted £50 on a record player you never use . . . £30 on a rusty old bike . . . God help you on your ‘A’ level course if you think that’s Art – it’s rubbish!” and so on. Finally she said, “If you come creeping round looking for an 18th birthday present then you can just get knotted.”

She was almost in tears at one point, and claimed I was laughing in her face. Dad joined in and condemned me for looking round second-hand shops for clothes that are “out of style.” I could only lamely respond with, “It doesn’t matter!”

I retreated upstairs in confusion, feeling sorry but still angry at the verbal lashing I'd got. I’ve stayed in my bedroom all evening, reading an article about Conrad. It's now 10 p.m. and I’ve still got to write an essay for Hirst on a book I haven’t read and revise for another History test tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 1982

The round

I woke up feeling scared at the prospect of facing all the comments about me and Wendy and dreading my inept embarrassments, so I delayed going into school as long as possible, waiting until eleven when my lesson began. As I waited in C7 for the bell I was positively quaking in my boots.

Knowing laughs, derisory glances, much chuckling, and even Claire demanded to know, “What’s this about you and Wendy Truswell?” I felt hot and flustered. God! I am so pathetic. How is it as soon as I'm at school again back comes the shit, the foul obnoxiousness, the negativity and despondency?

I left straight after History and walked back with Claire who regaled me with tales of Geography field-trip escapades.

Later, Andrew and I walked into Farnshaw and I went to the library. I enjoyed the walk but hated the sticky uncomfortable heat. He bought some superb greeny-brown checked trousers with turn-ups at Oxfam for only £1.75! I was envious.

I revised briefly and watched La Ronde which was quite funny.

Sunday, April 18, 1982


Bright, sunny and summery. Mum and Dad left early for Thorncotes to go walking, and when I eventually got up at 11.30, I felt fed up and really wished I was with them walking in the hills under blue skies and sun instead of marooned with my laziness, guilt and depression.

Andrew worked on the bike I bought all afternoon and declared what I already knew, that I was ripped off. I feel ashamed at my stupidity. Why did I allow myself to be conned so easily? I'm totally incapable of the simplest mechanical tasks and now I feel humiliated, stupid and foolish.

Andrew rode the bike round and said it was rubbish, but at least it works.

Saturday, April 17, 1982

"I say happy memories / leave a bitter taste"

I did nothing but listen to match on the radio, Athletic away at Cotton Bank, horrible memories of May 1978 still so fresh: Athletic had to not lose to get promotion, a sea of Athletic fans with flags, green and white hats, scarves, chanting, chanting. . . . Then that crushing Bobby Stamp goal three minutes from time—I remember it all so clearly—and the desperate Easterby attacks, the growing sense of despair as we—me, Robert, Carol—watched the season's hopes ebb away. . . . (The final whistle but still hope if the other results have gone our way! We huddle round radios, waiting, listening: Purswell win three-nil, Cross End win too and that final sickening realisation that we were done. I remember one bloke, with a despondent “Shit!,” kick an empty can down the terraces and as we walk from the ground I am in a dazed sense of disbelief. The very thing we'd speculated about, dreaded, dismissed as statistically unlikely! . .  This can't be happening! I drift between the cars feeling absolutely sick, almost in tears).

And now here we were again, losing 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, finally 4-1, our rivals getting points and suddenly that same desperate feeling seems oh so near again. I can't stand another ending like that.

In the evening I wrote two letters, one to Palantir, a Beat-oriented mag', and another to a bookshop in London.

Friday, April 16, 1982

Perpetual sameness

Mum left early for Robert’s and Andrew spent last night at a friend's in Whincliffe, so I was alone for most of the day. I haven't started any of the huge amount of work I have to do but a sort of calm “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude prevails, but this leaves me in a state of mental and physical torpor.

The house was quiet all day. Andrew came back at three, but left again to go out for the evening with his old school chum Keith Patchett and returned close to midnight, disillusioned and full of contempt for his former friend’s mental and material state, his “mass-mentality,“ his CB, his nice cosy married rut, his moron friends. Andrew said he never wants to get entangled in that net or to be settled too long in one place.

The degeneration of so many minds, people at school showing terminal symptoms already (Claire, Peter), the Matthew Knights, Andy Briscoes of this world who don’t care if they're doomed to live out lives of perpetual sameness and who even promote their boring existences as models for others to follow, deriding dissenters as immature and extravagant idealists. They don’t seem to realise or care that what is passing them by is new experience.

Thursday, April 15, 1982

Moody street irregulars

I went into Easterby with Dad in the morning; first to the library (Jack’s Book and Critical Essays on Conrad’s Secret Agent), and then I met Lee. He loomed up behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, a young and sort of mysterious Al Capone figure in his long grey coat and brown felt trilby.

We wandered around town, to HMV where I bought a Danse Society 12”, to the second-hand shops (I bought a scarf), to Praxis (reopened after being closed by flooding), and to the post office where I posted a letter to America inquiring about the Kerouac mag' Moody Street Irregulars. We finally decided to walk to Lee's house.

On the way there we detoured down Wintersett Crescent to see my childhood haunts and the house where I was born, and it was a strange yet familiar feeling on seeing it all again. We called in at the newsagents down Buckingham Road, just to see if Mr. and Mrs. Cooper still owned it but the smell of curry and garlic as I opened the door gave me the answer.

We walked along Gardner Place, past rows of decaying houses with peeling paint and weedy rubbish-strewn gardens, past an open door; a fat woman emptying the bin, a glimpse of a gloomy hall, an air of squalor. Hordes of children (black and white) played on the pavement. We cut through wasteland and trees and down a dusty black slope, climbed over a wall into a road between new prison-block flats and then down to Three Locks Road, Lee striding quietly along, strange in his wide-brimmed hat and big flappy coat.

I spent the afternoon at his house playing tapes and darts and left at four, feeling warm and sticky as I walked back.

My Danse Society 12” is OK but sounds too much like Joy Division for me to really get into but now, hours later, I've revised my opinion: “Women’s Own” and “Belief” are excellent. The prologue to Jack’s Book is the best discussion of Kerouac's books I’ve read yet.

Wednesday, April 14, 1982

Ordinary mind

I’ve kept this journal up for nearly two years now and it's developing into some sort of epic tale of an ordinary life, epic in size if not in scope. This is the main reason behind my keeping it going for so long and one of my reasons for starting in the first place; time passes so quickly and everything is forgotten and gone, and here we are, millions of people with our thoughts, our activities important only to us, just ordinary minds and a mundane existence but it's all important. This all goes unrecorded and is forgotten unless captured in the instant it happens.

School-wise, the tasks facing me makes me feel numb and desperate. I feel so frustrated and unwilling.

Andrew came back from Robert’s at two and Dad got home at teatime. He’s been on a riot-control course in Alverhouse and proudly told us of the new police ‘short shield’ methods: “Instead of creeping about on the defensive we’ll be able to go in and crack skulls.” They watched The War Game too.

Later, I watched the excellent Woman in White and listened to Scream & Dance's “Giacometti” and “In Rhythm.”

Tuesday, April 13, 1982

Poor human nobodies

Nanna P. came mid afternoon, and at teatime I felt tired and queasy, so I retired upstairs and slept until seven.

The Falklands crisis seems to be deepening. I treated it as a joke at first, a big game, but now it's getting just a little bit frightening. Dad rushed in for the news, enjoying the sights of battleships and children singing “Rule Britannia” with a grim sort of enthusiasm. He’s totally confident of a British victory and the crushing defeat/humiliation/massacre of the 'cowardly gauchos'. He waxes jingoistically over diplomatic moves, regarding mediation as a sort of weakness. I remained silent as he put on Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance.

Suddenly, Mum was crying, alarming me with her despairing rhetorical questions: “Why don’t they learn? You’d think that after two wars already this century they’d learn. It’ll be the women and children who suffer again, . . .” and Nanna P. agreed: “Ruddy politicians!” Mum's plea for peace so hopeless and innocent in the face of our organised system of government that makes war inevitable. But I felt frustrated, because if only they’d see that theyre reinforcing what I’ve always tried to argue for but get shouted down as a naïve Utopian communist or idealist. They refuse to approach what this line of argument logically leads them towards, and retreat from the Truth because it doesn’t fit into their ‘scheme.’

Dad, in his affronted and perplexed way, asked Mum, “What do you mean by ‘they?” and ranted on: “I'm waving the flag because no one else will do it for us! We can’t keep being walked over in the world,” and cited Hitler and Eastern Europe, missing the wider point completely.

It was a vile, tense atmosphere.

After Mum and Dad had left the room, Nanna P. said quietly, “I don’t understand your Dad; what’s he ever gained from war?” I wanted to shout BECAUSE THE COUNTRY MUST COME FIRST! WHY ELSE? To hell with life and poor human nobodies who die like cattle! Don’t you realize, Dad?! This is the true “enemy of the country” if only you could see; not politicians of the left (who’re all part of the same cancer) but the government and institutions that encourage our dreary grey work-oriented existences, feeding us with mindless mass-produced TV opiates. It's there, with the ordinary people (not the Government or institutions). that the true spirit of this country lies

Monday, April 12, 1982


Melissa was in fine form in the morning, drawing us pictures and dragging me and Robert to the swings and slide across the road. She's really domineering even though only six: she had us both sliding down the slide.

Me and Robert set off for Heathdale and the match at 11:30, driving over the moors to Barlow: spectacular and desolate, all browns and peaty black, blotched by cloud shadows. The road was a lonely grey line through the flat expanse. As we dropped down the long hill into Barlow, a reservoir up ahead looked tiny and overshadowed by the sweeping slopes.

The sprawl of Heathdale and Debdenshaw was visible in the distance, a flat expanse as far as the horizon, punctuated by grey towerblocks. Passed wall art on the side of Eagle Iron Works (art & people communicate), decaying terraces, mounds of weed-strewn rubble, bare graffiti’d walls, concrete fly overs, underpasses. Everything pessimistic and crumbling. People living out their lives in this!

We found the ground, parked nearby, and sat in the Black Swan until two. Heathdale Rangers A.F.C.’s ground Ridge Lane is at the end of a narrow terraced street: big, covered all the way round, lots of new breeze block and concrete. There were a lot of Athletic fans wandering about.

The match was terrible. The large Easterby contingent was quiet as Athletic played badly and looked slow compared to Heathdale who were skillful, well-organised, and more determined to win the ball, especially their number 9, a bronzed powerful greaseball. Halftime 0-0. The second-half was more of the same: Heathdale pressure, Athletic outplayed, mistakes galore, Wild and Scarborough bad as usual. One moron next to me kept swearing and cursing and when the Heathdale fans around us clapped or cheered he'd turn round and shout “fuck off!,” his eyes dim under heavy brows, his face snarling and angry.

Heathdale scored midway through the half with a superb first time volley and we looked sunk: no answer to their tight defence and slick one-touch moves, Overrun. Our best chance came from McArdle who took the ball the length of the field and had his shot just saved. By now Robert and I were restless and resigned to an obvious defeat but then a last chance corner, a late goalmouth scramble and . . . amazing . . . a goal, an equaliser with only a minute or so to go! We leaped up and down, Reprieve, amazement, relief. But with Cross End winning at Haley Hill the pressure is really on.

Back to Easterby over the same brown bogs, now tanned yellow by the setting sun, down through Leckenby, city blocks gleaming. Janet and Trev and their baby were visiting when we got home. The house was crowded for a while before Robert left for Dearnelow, taking Andrew with him.

I set off for a party at Tim’s at eight. I bought three bottles of cider in Moxthorpe and hurried on to Egley Terrace as the bottles leaked and the box started to dissolve. Loads of people were there and although I took along a few records, they didn’t go down well: they all wanted Queen, Bob Dylan, Genesis, etc . . . As more people arrived, things got chaotic with the TV going, records, cassettes, someone on the computer console in the corner, the table overflowing with bottles, glasses and cans.

There were now so many people downstairs I stayed upstairs talking with Peter, Colin etc. and a few others in Tim’s bedroom. Wendy was next to me on the bed, leaning against my leg and . . . things went predictably somehow, I don’t quite know how, but everyone seemed to get the message. It's strange (I’m uncomfortable writing this). We kissed etc., the light off, Peter & co. a noisy congregation on the landing, someone coming in to get a coat. . . .

Most people had gone by the time we went back downstairs and the booze was all gone, so I kissed Wendy goodbye and faced the comments and jokes with a sheepish smile. Someone was reading a Mayfair mag. I sat drinking coffee and feeling sober.

Sunday, April 11, 1982

Oblivion express

I spent a lazy morning in front of the fire listening to records and reading the reports on Athletic’s match.

At three-thirty, me, Robert and Carol set off for Alverhouse to pick up Carol’s sister Lynne, and six-year old niece Melissa. I felt queasy and was almost sick on the way there and still felt ill as we hung restlessly around deserted grey Alverhouse streets or in the bus station.

Then, there was the coach pulling in, a fleeting glimpse of a small white face and a blonde pony-tail greetings, me feeling like an outsider almost. The journey back was better; no illness and laughter and silliness from the back seat of the car. I like Lynne; she has a nice giggle.

Back in Saxton, I got embroiled in a long intense and interesting fire side ‘philosophize’ with Lynne and Robert about things which are impossible to provide definitive answers for: art as communication and/or personal ‘self-expression’ and the need or not for painting and writing to have some definite “level of excellence.” How can an external level of excellence be imposed on art which should be personal anyway? Maybe if this was founded on some basis of skill, or an ability to figuratively represent something well say, or accurate grammar, etc. Then experimentation could begin. . . .

I seemed to argue myself in circles, not knowing what to believe, changing my opinions constantly because I really haven’t a clue what position to take. I can’t even claim my writing attempts to be worth a shit: I blandly pen the words out, and they're founded on no experience whatsoever.

I enjoyed the to and fro arguments but found myself convinced that perhaps Robert is right when he says that we are all isolated, alone and trapped amidst our own thoughts and minds. . . . It’s all so difficult.

At ten, Lynne, Rob and Carol went to the pub’, leaving me to ‘babysit’ Melissa who was asleep in bed. They came back within an hour and brought eight cans of cider. We sat playing dominoes, drinking and laughing and listened to Brian Augur’s Oblivion Express or Curtis Mayfield.

Came to bed at one feeling drunk.

Saturday, April 10, 1982


Robert arrived for the match mid-morning, full of the usual enthusiasm, talking about Pigbag’s “Elephants Wish To Become Nimble,” The Cramps, his efforts to catalogue his 500-strong record collection . . . . He's read loads. We set off to Tabotworth in bright sunshine.

It all began in typical desperate fashion, Tabotworth playing dirty, giving away free kicks but Athletic unable to find a way through and not playing well at all. Frustrating. Despite this, in our first real attack, we got a penalty. 1-0. Then, minutes later, with the ball bouncing three or four times around the goalmouth amidst desperate lunging bodies with the goalie stranded, we got another, which billowed the netting.

In the second half more of the same, Tabotworth dominating for long periods and threatening dangerous breakaways, Athletic casual and haphazard until, unbelievably, we went 3 up! I felt sorry for the dejected Tabotworth fan standing next to us who seemed really unenthusiastic and glum and depressed by the whole thing: we really were not worth a three-goal lead but consolation for Tabotworth late on in the shape of an excellent, rifled volley from the edge of the box. We drove back to Saxton cursing the other top teams’ consistency.

In the evening Robert & I went into Dearnelow by bus for a drink. The first pub’ we stopped at was a foul trendy aggressive place, and the second similarly so, but the last was scruffy and almost empty and OK. I got quietly drowsy on 3½ ciders, playing space invaders, or UB40 and Madness on the jukebox. We left in a loud raucous good mood

Midnight hilarity over a Woody Allen film.

Friday, April 9, 1982

Memory-eternal time

I set off for Grant’s mid-morning and took along my Mouth single and Grant’s Ludd's Mill mags. I was soon walking through sunlit woods thinking how lucky I am to live near all this. As I walked I pretended I was accompanied by a foreign visitor, describing what I was seeing in my head, his imaginary impressed reactions. . . .

Grant had borrowed The Pop Group’s Y from Nik so we listened to that.

Then we set off for a walk, going along the main road, through the park and up to Hainsworth Hall with the intention of revisiting the Print Biennale but it was closed for Good Friday, so we plunged down towards a fair that was in the park: whirling flashing light and noise, leering laughing faces glimpsed over the balcony of a dodgems stall as we walked by, frozen in an instant of memory-eternal time, a fragment of conversation, a fragment of a life. Innocent enjoyment.

On we walked through no-hope derelict Lockley back streets in the direction of Easterby (saying how we liked it all). We visited second hand shops, Praxis (closed, open Tuesday), had a beefburger at the Potting Shed Café, and then to HMV where I bought the Pigbag 45 “Papa’s Got A Brand-New Pigbag.” We went back the way we’d come, through half-demolished Lockley and the fair again and then through Ashburn, getting back to Grant’s at teatime.

I took down some addresses for Kerouac LPs, books, cassettes, etc., and we listened to the Pop Group again and Pigbag and Mouth before going out for another walk, into the woods this time. We behaved like overgrown children, chasing each other around breathlessly, screaming and shouting and, as the rain dripped through damp branches, we sang duets to make it stop. It did!

I left mid-evening and walked back via the wet dusk-shrouded woods, strings of sprinkled street lamps glittering to the horizon, me thinking about how amazing everything is.

Easter eggs awaited when I got home (me and Andrew had complained that all the good things stop when you’re supposed to be an ‘adult’) and a good mood prevailed until Dad came home, bringing his bitterness and infuriating prejudices. He called Judith Hart a “bitch" and an “enemy of the country.” Sometimes I wish I had Grant’s relationship with his Dad.

Keeping a regular journal should be encouraged in school from an early age. I’ve always thought that, really. It helps to put life and the passing of time in perspective. Keeping a record of thoughts, feelings, and responses negates the pointlessness, the waste, all the people who live and die in awful anonymity, and at least use leave something useful behind when you die.

Later, listened to Radio 3 (“Celestial Mechanics: Macrocosmos 4” by George Crumb).

Thursday, April 8, 1982


It seems the Argentinian carrier 25 May is holed up in port somewhere, trapped by two British submarines. God, all the Daily Mail jingoistic rabble-rousing stinks!

I did nothing much apart from fragmentary and half hearted attempts at ‘revision,’ lounging in my bedroom or downstairs, talking with Andrew. I’m so weak.

When Dad came home at teatime he was in one of his “I’ll-never-hear-a-word-against-this-country” moods and started sounding off about the relative merits of America and Russia. I said that they’re both as bad but Dad got indignant: “I’m glad I’m on America’s side. They’re basically a good Christian country.” What crap. I don’t believe it. He’s so annoying!

Onto El Salvador and his support for the “legally elected government.” I gave up, frustrated, speechless and by now incredibly angry that he could even say this. Then there he was, leaning forward, a sort of fanatical eagerness in his face and voice. “Look Paul [anger at me now], you’ll never force me into supporting communism”. . . “evilest regime the world has ever seen” etc., and so on . . . “I lean to the right, always have done. Right wing means being strong, that’s why we have such a good democratic country.”

There are always people like Dad, always the narrow-minded reactionary bigots (?) who see any talk against authority as tantamount to treason or Satanism or worse. Why? And basically innocent suffering sad anonymous mortal individuals always end up being pushed and messed about by their “leaders.” Is it so pathetic to think this way?

I watched a thing on TV about the Chinese rape of Tibet. Out of fifteen thousand-plus monasteries in 1950, there are now only thirteen left. Bastards!

Now I’m not even sure I know what I’m blithering on about.

It snowed today.

Wednesday, April 7, 1982

New world

When I got up there was a stranglehold of depression on the house. God, what with Dad waxing defeatist and despairing about his job, being biased and somehow pitifully naïve, Mum getting all bitter and pessimistic over the financial prospects of me going (?) to Uni., Andrew staring dully into the garden. . . . For one moment it all sort of overwhelmed me and I felt like giving up. Two 'C's and a 'B'! God, I’m not even sure I want to do the course! The griping, my hopeless feelings about everything . . . if anyone needs that inner peace it’s me.

At least I’ll be able to escape to Grant’s on Friday. 

Mum says she’s petrified of the consequences of Dad being unemployed and says she thinks he’s afraid of this whole new world he’s being pitched into. He's almost like a school-leaver, naïve about interviews, etc.

The Falklands post crisis hysteria has subsided a bit and is replaced by a sort of concerned doubt.

Tuesday, April 6, 1982


Andrew and I went to the Print Biennale at Hainsworth Hall, walking there through the woods and then down through Ashburn; living where we do, we take our proximity to countryside for granted.

The prints were very good and I deliberately spent time actually looking at them, but after a while we both realised they all shared a ‘sameness’. The prints from Japan, Australia, Switzerland, America, Yugoslavia etc., were all of a kind even though they were good on an individual level. Homogenized art. We liked the South African and Indian prints the best because they expressed their national and cultural traditions.

I saw Grant Riley and Nik in the café at the Biennale, two worlds, me and Andrew in a good mood at one table, Grant and Nik behind us at another, Grant’s voice deep and loud. Andrew said that he looked like the typical “Easterby trendy” with his old jacket, shabby flared jeans and short hair. He said his weirdness looked “forced.”

We went home in good spirits only to be stifled by the bad vibes at home. The tension and irritability gives me a headache, and Dad’s reactionary, conservative jingoism infuriates me!

Monday, April 5, 1982


Andrew spent the morning reading Mervin Peake’s Gormenghast. We talked about how being apolitical is the best way. Andrew said, “I’m a hippy at heart. All the nicest people I know are the ones who aren't bothered about their image. I just want to run away and hide and stuff everyone else.”

I know what he means because I kind of agree and increasingly I'm starting to think that the basic unhappiness everyone feels, our unfulfilled desire for some sort of Utopian situation where we’ll always be happy can only be tackled on an individual level and by something like Zen. Away with the “big programmes full of social planning.” They create only bitterness, anger and negative reactions.  

This can only be solved by a sort of inner peace which at least makes the pointlessness of day-to-day activities, the tragedy of living and growing old bearable. But my speaking like this sounds so bad, me snug in my little middle-class conformist cocoon where everything is looking set. . . .

I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon revising my Persuasion notes and at least I’ve made a start. I almost feel optimistic.

The news was an hour-long today and the newspaper headlines were huge. New Zealand has broken off diplomatic relations with Argentina; Lord Carrington has resigned as Foreign Secretary along with his deputy and someone else. Patriotic scenes as the fleet, the largest naval force assembled by any country since WW2, has set sail to cheering flag-waving crowds who lined the quayside at Portsmouth.

Later I watched a programme about the completely immoral and sickeningly hypocritical government sale of arms to Argentina, which only ended on Saturday.

Sunday, April 4, 1982

Time is a thief

Nanna P. is here so I had to sleep downstairs last night. Depression hangs over the house, the short tempers and irritability make everything feel claustrophobic.

There's been fighting in S. Georgia, film of armoured personnel carriers in Port Stanley, John Nott talking about the possibilities of war. The interviewer pressed him to make a commitment about war with Argentina and its consequences: would there be attacks on the mainland, etc? It could get serious.

Andrew thinks I'll turn into a ‘commie’ at University, “playing at being radical”. . . I really hope I don’t. Much better to keep myself to myself, read a lot, be essentially apolitical. I don’t know.

In the evening Andrew's mate Jim called round in his car and they went out. Jim asked me if I wanted to go, but I said no and regretted it immediately. I should be pushing myself into new situations, be meeting people, which reminds me of that phrase that Buddhism is “knowing as many different people as you can.” Instead, I chicken out and do nothing, My deeds don’t reflect my thoughts or opinions! “Time is a thief and man the victim; but life endures.”

Late on I listened to Carmina Burana by Carl Orffe, who died last night aged 86.

Saturday, April 3, 1982

War situation

I was pleased to read things I've thought about too, e.g.: “This is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that’s all. God, I don’t want to have any more enthusiasm for big programmes full of social planning for big masses of people that leave individual Quality out . . . they’ve got to be built on foundation of Quality within the individuals involved.”

At twelve-fifteen, Robert and Carol arrived to go see the Hillroyd match. They seemed depressed and quiet, especially Carol. Mum and Dad arrived back with Nanna P. shortly after and soon the house was alive to relentless conversation, a cacophony of voices, N.P.’s incessant gossip, in the kitchen loud talk of Argentina, the decline of discipline and morals. Dad: “It all began with Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (his own moral high-horse).

When we left at two-thirty, the house seemed tense and angry.

The match was crap. Hillroyd were in orange and white and were abysmal, but Easterby seemed determined to outdo them in this and played their own frustrating, negative, anti-football game. Predictably, after a few scares, Hillroyd’s No. 9 Stevens scored from a header.

Tense discontent and frustration rippled through the crowd, people gesticulating and shouting, their hoarse fanatical voices breaking in desperation as they heaped abuse on the team. It was awful to watch, passes going astray and no effort from Athletic at all. The first half ended to boos and a knotted, desperate feeling inside.

After the break, Easterby began again just the same, but gradually played forward more and after about twenty minutes, flashes of the old Athletic started to appear; penetrating attacks, searching crosses, the occasional good move that ended with a missed shot or an infuriating mistake. Wild and Lewis especially were pathetic. Ironic applause when the latter was substituted.

Athletic pressed forward again , McArdle and Highmore both volleying several shots just over and Newlands heading inches too high. But the ball just would not go in. High balls into the area and the tension was amazing. Then, the best sight of all! Newlands heading the ball gracefully into an open net. We all exploded.

The game was alive and the crowd began shrieking for the winner and although Athletic looked good and it was really exciting, they just couldn’t find a way through and it ended 1-1.

I got home to hear that Argentinian troops are fighting with Falkland islanders and the marines, now airlifted to Uruguay, had put up a fierce struggle. The news put us virtually in a war situation and we all sat round the TV, me feeling excited inside at this new event. A huge fleet is to sail for the islands: ships could be sunk, lives lost, etc. Generals are unrolling their maps. . . .

Dad seemed to take a grim, jingoistic enjoyment in it all, 'blow the gauchos out of the water,' etc. John Nott gave “the worst speech of his career” according to the news. Stormy scenes in the Commons: the Government might even fall and a lot seems at stake. In 20 years time, it will be on ‘A’ level papers – “To what extent was the Falklands crisis of 1982 responsible for the downfall of Thatcher’s government.”

Andrew came home mid-evening and we spent a lighthearted evening watching some crap from Germany on Old Grey Whistle Test. I hate the pretentiousness of so many Riverside types.

Friday, April 2, 1982

Long yellow mood

In the early hours I finally finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I enjoyed it, and it makes me feel that everything links up somewhere and somehow, but really I don’t know how. I’ll have to reread it to really grasp it. . . .

At school there was the usual wind down to the end of term; we had a big assembly in which we laughed and made sick ‘cryptic’ comments which reduced us to stifled hilarity, but it was soon over and I felt nostalgic and sad because everyone was going home. School was empty . . . hard to describe.

I walked home with Tim, Jeremy and Colin, the sun casting a long yellow mood over everything. Dad hasn’t got his job and is very depressed and negative.

In the Falklands, much sabre-rattling and conflicting reports of an Argentinian invasion and good old British denials, but later the situation took a turn for the worse and it was confirmed that an invasion had taken place. It's the first British territory to be invaded since the Channel Islands in 1940. Three Argentinians have been killed.

Could this be a war situation? In every case, it's always the ordinary people who suffer because of governments and power politics. People should just be left alone to live their lives without interference. In the Falklands the interference is caused by the island oil reserves and Argentina’s domestic troubles. Surely the Islanders should owe allegiance to no one and should be ‘governed’ by no one but themselves?

It’s certainly exciting.

The nine o’clock news emphasized the seriousness of the crisis. More talk of war, talk of the possibility of naval battles, and a large “impressive” task force is to set sail for the Falklands. There’s a deeper side though: the superpowers could get involved and this could be the flashpoint for a wider conflict. Mum and Dad looked serious. . . .

I listened to Radio Moscow in the evening.

Thursday, April 1, 1982


I got my marks for the English mocks: in Hirst’s class an ‘O’ (41%); for Williams a 'D’ (53%). I couldn’t believe it!

I was really sickened and strode back through the rain to the workroom where I sat quietened and humbled along with everyone else. I'm suddenly afraid that I'm now in real danger of throwing everything away. Maybe I'll be stuck in Easterby, on the dole, with no future. A nightmare prospect.

Outside it was foul, dirty and drizzling, as if to mirror my inner shock and disgust. We all cheered up a bit towards the end of the day but really it’s Zero Hour. It’s now or never.

At home more tension, with Dad airing his bitter, narrow-minded despair over “permissiveness” and “do-your-own-thing,” demanding an “eye-for-an-eye.”
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