Saturday, January 15, 1983

Tell me lies

Another orgy of self-indulgence last night. A big group of us hit Watermouth for a pub crawl. Tensions between Russ and Graeme: on seeing Lindsey and Susie, Russ said, “Why the fuck did you bring those two?” and continued to mutter angrily about wanting a “lads night out.”

Phil and Barry rolled up at nine, Phil already drunk and slurring in typical excited fashion. They were both broke. They asked Graeme if he’d cash a cheque for ‘em at the bar, but Graeme said, “Well, I don’t know about that. I don’t know if I can trust you to pay me back.” So me and Phil went down to the cashpoint and I drew out a tenner between us.

Much confusion . . . different groups in different pubs, everyone getting progressively drunker . . . I drank shorts once more, double whiskies, vodkas, Southern Comforts galore, Lindsey very pissed also. Susie, Barry and I got into a loud slurred debate about the revolutionary capacities of art and its relevance to ‘the struggle’ etc. Can art change consciousness?

We caught the last train back, Lindsey in a not-often-seen state of openness, greeting strangers on the train (who were mainly teaching students from the College, but also a quiet blond-haired man in his early twenties huddled silent in the corner—he crops up later). Lin and I thrust our heads out the carriage window to look for ‘the others,’ yelling hellos to passersby on the platform, waving to ticket attendants. . . . Then, the journey over, we all staggered off arm-in-arm at the University stop, impossible, incredible Phil dominating our little group with his loud unstoppable friendliness.

We found a disco in Taylor Hall but it didn’t seem very popular. While Phil and Lin danced on the near empty dance floor I found our train friend wandering about in the back room where the ‘bar’ was. He was like some sort of Mark E. Smith figure with his straight longish blond hair, earring, grey overcoat, grey boots and shapeless trousers, especially as he was from up North and had a quiet, serious and thoughtful air about him. He said he was a postgrad doing Thermodynamics or something and I joined him at his table where he bought me cans of pale ale, filled up my glass with cider, and we talked. He told me he writes poetry, has had some published already, has written a novel but discarded it as unsatisfactory, and once met Adrian Mitchell. . . .

I was inwardly glad I’d found him and invited him back to the kitchen and introduced him (looking back now) with a trusting drunken naivety that makes me cringe and today reduces me to silent self-crucifixion.

When I woke up, Rowan and Yvonne brought me tea, baked potatoes and bacon in bed. Gareth reminded me what I’d come out with last night: “This is John. He’s a poet.” I was mortified and wanted to dig a hole for myself and hide from the world. “He saw you coming,” said Gareth, and proceeded to frame how it was that John had bought this pissed idiot (me) a few cans and told tall tales of poetry which the idiot swallowed with wide-eyed blustering gullibility. Had a bit of fun at my expense, etc.

Everyone was very subdued and quiet.

I've just written to Claire and I'm reading the intro to Turgenev’s Fathers & Sons and looking forward to Bazarov.

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