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.

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