Monday, August 9, 1982

Vanity of M. Pseud

Dreams and plans rarely transform into reality and so it was today, a frustrating day in which my desires about what to read, listen, think, or be were outweighed by my doubts. This was brought on partly by too much hot tramping up and down the same Camden streets, streets that reminded me of photos I’ve seen of bustling sun wide streets in America with low, colourfully-fronted shops.

Compendium Books was OK but I was spoiled for choice and indecision and self doubt reigned supreme. There was a lot of Kerouac, mainly the crappy Granada editions with the cheap blurbs and packaging in the vein of “Dig the Beat Generation man . . . Kerouac, King o’ the Beatniks, come and be a Dharma Bum!” The books looked strangely worthless somehow next to everything else.

The easy way in which money seems to disappear also sickened me but it's pointless working myself up over money and such. After buying Visions of Cody, Snyder's Back Country poems (for Robert) and The Pop Group’s We Are Time I had just £5 left, and I was in one of those spontaneous don’t-look-now-but-you’re-going-to-regret-it-later moods where I’m liable to buy anything. A rash enthusiasm and madness comes over me in situations like these. And I'd set out with £25! Where’d it all go? What have I got to show for my book-laden dreams? This £5 has to stretch into another day and-a-half of fun and frolics (plus meals). But again, it’s pointless worrying about.

In a tiny cramped second hand book shop in Hampstead I found Ann Charters' biography of Kerouac and Vanity of Duluoz; I also asked for Walden and the old woman proprietor squeezed between towering arrays of books and said, “Hell, they all come in asking for that.” I must really look and sound just like another “they.” Grant bought Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Bukowski (style easy and absorbing) and we sat on a bench in memory of someone “who loved Hampstead village” and were wrapped up in it all.

More afternoon blues, despite books and Honest Jon’s, Grant reduced once more to grunts and the occasional dry, irritable comment, stalking on ahead so fast as we walked I had difficulty keeping up.

We don't have anything planned for the evening other than reading; really this visit is turning out quite well, except for money and the nagging realisation that I have no sense of caution in this area. But there was also something bigger and deeper, something to do with books. I have to read more.

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