Friday, December 10, 1982

Out of focus

I ended up having a quiet drinking session in Stu’s room last night, finally getting to bed at four or five this morning. I chatted with Shelley about her plans—hopes more than anything I think—of visiting Egypt next summer. She knocked at my door a few minutes after we’d said goodnight because someone had hurled mud up at her bedroom window and she was frightened. I crept to the window and looked down. Nothing . . . save for a trampled area of damp grass where the phantom mud slingers had congregated. We thought it was probably her insistent Arab suitors who also left two pennies in a glass in her room earlier: someone said this was symbolic of a desire to go to bed with her).

Everyone is feverishly packing, tidying, and sweeping. In the afternoon we had a ‘dinner party’ in Penny’s room with crisps and baked potatoes, etc., and then Pete and I left for a meeting with Alan Draper, our tutor in American History 1620-1900 next term ; he seemed cool, calm and thoroughly in command of himself and his course, but I left feeling unenthusiastic about what he’d outlined for us. To change to Lit or not to change. . . ?

I got reports from both my contextuals from my Personal Tutor Mr. McAllister. He let me read what Dr. Herring had written. It was a superbly constructed attack on my lack of work. He says I'm “an out of focus student” and although I write “elegantly,” he graded me very low (McAllister: “I wouldn’t ask if I were you”). Probably a 5 or 6. My American Civilisation report was a bit better but Palfreyman still came down on me for my laziness. It’s the same old problem, first pointed out in Junior school and now here too. All a bit sickening, even though I'd expected it and know I deserve it.

As dusk descended, Downstairs Ian gave me a ride on the back of his Suzuki 250, up along winding roads through the countryside around campus, taking racing lines round the corners, a sweep of coast visible way down to our right, an orange sun setting over purple clouds on the horizon.

Then sad final hours in Stu’s room, everybody long faced and silent as “Heroes” and “Happy House” wound the term up for us. I’ve enjoyed it. At one point, in the Town & Gown earlier with everyone else, I felt that special, vaguely excited mood among us all as we discussed a proposed visit to Barry in Debdenshaw over Xmas, a sudden great outswelling of warm and generous feelings in me towards these people who are my friends and who I enjoy.

I felt glad to be alive.

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