Friday, November 19, 1982
Eye of the beholder
Dad’s just shown me his diary, a small pocket-sized notebook filled with reminiscences and charting his quiet uneventful life since November 8th, when he started it. He writes that his retirement day was one of the “saddest of my life,” and says he felt as though he'd been “suddenly ejected into a vast space – as if for 30 years and eight months I had existed in an old green bottle and whirled around; and that, at that moment the cork of conformity was pulled and my being & whole existence released and ejected into a new vacuum.”
He was writing all morning and seems to be slightly overawed, perturbed even, by the proportions his “memoirs” are assuming: four hundred pages or so and he’s still only into 1950 Army days in Egypt . . . “I could go on for ever.” If and when they're completed they'll be a superb heirloom. As he says, if he died, all those memories, anecdotes and incidents would disappear forever.
I tried to do some work, but it was so difficult. I'm so weak. I read Berkeley’s Dialogues again and found them pedantic and hair splitting. . . . Upstairs, in what was Andrew’s room (it was my room in the late-'70s), Dad is building a collection of tanks containing newts, frogs, and insects. The mottled and glistening Marsh frogs are growing very big now, and they look sturdy and well fed. Dad’s keeping a record of his observations of them in an old school notebook of mine.
In the evening I went to the school presentation evening, which was strange. I felt so out of place, out of it. There was only me, Jeremy, Robin Quinn, Tim Moyles, Peter, and three others there from my year. I was given the Dunn & Sons prize for “outstanding ‘A’ level achievement,” which seems hypocritical since they were always slagging me off because I did no work!
I feel I have little in common anymore with people like Robin, Tim, Peter, and the typical Egley set into potholing, beer, folk music (Dubliners), and heavy metal. Jeremy was the only person I felt any affinity with. He's as confident as ever. We had a long talk with Ms. Hirst, who seemed genuinely pleased to see us. “You were good friends weren’t you?” she asked me, about Claire. “Was there a romance?” I wish! It made me feel ever so slightly depressed about the way things worked out, now lost forever.
I must overcome my stupid nervousness and get in touch with her. I’d really love to see her.
So it was back home for fish and chips and now I have to write my essay on Berkeley, “Esse est percipi: Is reality, like truth, in the eye of the beholder?” It’s midnight and I haven’t even made a start.