Tuesday, November 30, 1982

Bell jar

I've just had a fight with Russ, the crowning glory to a weekend of unreality. Russ and I were messing about in the kitchen and he responded to some half-serious provocation with his usual “come on then, outside.” All in fun he dragged me out into the corridor and I tapped him on the head and fled, to hide behind my locked door while he squirted the fire hose under the door and stomped about outside threatening to “bust" my "skull.” Gradually though, as I yelled insults at him through the closed door I detected a serious note creeping in to his voice.

Suddenly, the whole thing felt immature and pathetic. I opened my door and walked past him down the corridor. “If you hit me...” I said as a warning but he followed me, mouthing “fucking come on then.”

And that was it—I was overcome! I turned round, told him how pathetic he was, and made a grab for his throat but missed and sent his specs crashing to the floor instead. I saw his small, black eyes shrink back into his face and I felt real fear I suppose, that he was about to punch me in the face. So I flung myself at him and hung on, trying to wrap myself around him to prevent the blows. We ended up on the floor in a heap outside someone’s door, legs everywhere, Russ’s red face protruding from the tangle of arms and bodies. Behind him, I could see Penny and Shelley peering from their doorways.

“You should be put away, you’re just a fucking animal!” I shouted as Stu, Pete and Barry pulled him off me. I was trembling and restlessly paced from room to corridor and back to my room again, slipping on the floor which was sodden from the fire hose. I felt degraded, shocked even, and sat silently in Penny’s room with everyone else, barely talking. Russ seemed as happy as could be and just blithely behaved as everything was normal. He kept saying I would’ve been dead if he hadn’t been pulled off me.

No one can cope. Penny's been in tears over the last few days and is again today; she’s in a very fragile emotional state and fiddles with her hair constantly, fretting over a bald patch that's appeared. Lindsey wanders about looking awful, bags beneath her eyes, saying “shit” if anything at all and slamming doors. We're all a set of mental wrecks.

And still work looms large. I’ve spent all today rushing around from secretary to secretary, to the library, then to another secretary again as I try to sort out the blank space next to my name on the list of Optional Prelim. choices for next term (if I even reach that). Last night I talked to Guy about my whole crappy situation. I mean, what have I done here of any real value? I feel almost criminal, like I'm a real bad apple.

Tonight I talked with Rowan. She can be very perceptive and intelligent. I told her I seem to enjoy suffering. “I enjoy being really overt about my misery and making everyone know about it,” she said.

I retract my statement about nihilism being self-indulgent. I suppose it can be, but can't it also be an “unyielding foundation of despair” as Bertrand Russell calls it, Nietzsche’s ‘ecstatic’ nihilism even? I don’t know enough about it but it certainly seems to align with some of the things I’ve often thought about, and even links up somehow with Buddhism.

I’ve just written and posted a letter to Claire. I feel I’ve been totally honest with her, perhaps too honest for my own good. I have the last hundred pages of The Bell Jar to read and maybe three essays to write. I find myself identifying with Plath's feelings, descriptions, and moods.

I’ve only eaten twice in the last four days. I feel ravenous. It's almost eleven and I sit in my room 'working' while Gareth, Stu and Russ talk records in Stu’s room. Everyone else is at the bar. I don’t know how to feel about anything anymore. I think it’ll be good to get a different perspective on everything when I go home for Christmas. Yvonne is really upset tonight about her boyfriend Michael; all this in one weekend! Maybe we're all a lot closer nowadays here since the events of recent days?

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