Monday, February 28, 1983

The Monday morns

In today’s Modernism tutorial we looked at a couple of things by Beckett (including Watt) and I had an argument with scatterbrained Bonnycastle about the similarities between Beckett and Woolf. He disagreed quite strongly with my idea that the same structural concerns connect the two. 

Afterwards I got drunk, swigging cider on my own in my room. I went to bed at six and it's 9.30 p.m. now and I’ve just got up. Shawn and Penny have really got involved over the last few days; they’re always off to discos together and tonight they’ve walked to Westdorgan.

Sunday, February 27, 1983


I've finally finished my essay. I’ve taken three days over this and although it’s not very good it's OK lengthwise at eight-and-a-bit sides. I just bought five bottles of cider by way of celebration, and also because I'm bored. But I'll probably regret it later.

Saturday, February 26, 1983

Stone the crows

Barry got back late; he’s been gone since Wednesday, helping to canvas for Fran Eden, the RCP candidate in last week’s Bermondsey by-election. She got 30-odd votes. Lindsey and Penny got back soon after from an anti-British Movement march. Shelley is in London for her brother’s birthday.

Rowan and Katie plus friends Anna and Emma from downstairs are all convincing one another that something bad is about to happen. Rowan has seen two big crows and there’s been much talk among them about nightmares and a woman who was murdered over near Westdorgan three years ago. This all seems a bit ludicrous and farcical.

Friday, February 25, 1983

Mechanical man

Yet more tales from a ‘tortured’ mind. But tortured about what? I suppose these constant complaints of boredom and claustrophobia (“I know just what I’ll be doing tomorrow evening,” etc.) are self-indulgent, because really I've nothing to fret about. But at times life can be very unfulfilling, even though, as Rowan says, the world-weary philosophizing and moaning at my ‘tender’ age is "ridiculous." I’m the only one who has the power to alter any of this, and so it’s no good blaming my surroundings.

I began my essay teatimeish and by 9.15 I had three-and-a-half sides done. To celebrate, Penny and I met Lindsey and Shelley in Westway Loop Bar. I came back in typical alcoholic despondency to lonely frustrations in my room while a happy gaggle talked flippantly and noisily in the corridor.

Guy and I smashed bottles on the bridge by the kitchen, and then sat in his room for an hour or so talking about Charles Manson, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. I felt better after this, and I felt bolstered too by Guy’s ‘man apart’ cynicism and hard-nosed self-sufficiency.

Thursday, February 24, 1983

Dread hand of sloth

I missed another tutorial today, my first for American Lit., but luckily for me, it was cancelled anyway because Miriam H. was ill. I haven’t even looked at Uncle Tom’s Cabin yet.

Last night Pete and I went down to SocSci just as a crucial meeting about the occupation was breaking up, people streaming past us as we hung about in the foyer. SocSci was occupied all night and this morning pickets were being organized. Mike said some of the more militant occupiers wanted to starve the campus by preventing food getting to the supermarket and Co-op and by trying to stop the Administration from getting supplies of paper, but this would have needed an occupation longer than 24-hours.

We witnessed an argument going on between Jim Nightingale and Giles Osmond of the Student Union Executive Committee and the Socialist Worker's Student Organisation over the necessity for five extra Executive sabbatical posts. Nightingale and Osmond argued that three could adequately do the job five do at present and said the Union spends 70% of its budget on administration, but SWSO was hostile to this and wanted more sabbaticals. The Executive motion was defeated and the five sabbaticals were retained.

The closing speeches about the occupation had an air of self centred blindness about them. In a way I feel guilty at not being more bothered about any of this maneuvering, because these issues do have a bearing on me personally. It’s just the sort of thing I used to get quite worked up over at home, but here the ‘dread hand of Sloth’ holds me too securely for me to ever do anything about anything. I’m uncomfortable writing about this because I know I have no excuse. It seems I never do a thing constructive with my time nowadays.

The rest of today has passed in typical empty and lethargic fashion. We have only a fortnight to go until the end of term—already! Reports will be written next Wednesday and I expect to be thoroughly slated, especially by Bonnycastle. I have another wearying night ahead of me trying to get at least one of his essays done.

Wednesday, February 23, 1983

Half-live at the witch trials

Lethargy yesterday, despite my 8.30 a.m. start. In the evening I watched a programme about William Burroughs, who's now 70, thin, corpse-faced, with an odd slit mouth that twitches at the corners. He read extracts from his novels and I saw previously unseen (by me) photos of Kerouac and Burroughs clowning about in the latter’s apartment.

His friends said he’d be the perfect prisoner for solitary confinement because of his self-sufficient ability to live on his own. Emily Dickinson totally isolated herself from the world in the family mansion in Amherst. Thoreau cut himself off in his shack at Walden Pond. Sometimes I wish I had the courage and character to cut myself off and live a self-contained life, but I’m too gregarious. No matter how much I try and kid myself, I need people too much.

Today Pete, Shelley and Penny and I went into Watermouth, intending to give blood. It was a fine spring-like day and there were lots of holidaymakers and kids on their half-term hols about. Although I was quite apprehensive as we approached the Watermouth Centre, fortunately for me Penny had made a mistake and no-one at the Centre knew anything about giving blood, so we went and had something to eat at McDonald’s instead.

Then Shelley and Penny went off on their own. I bought Live At The Witch Trials by The Fall and also a grey-green great coat for a fiver.

Everyone on campus is seemingly preoccupied with the occupation of the Humanities and Social Science buildings, which is part of a national 24-hour action by we students in opposition to the cuts. Quite a lot of Wollstonecraft people went down there but, for me, the whole issue would have been hypocritical. I never go to the Union General Meetings and really, in my soul, I cannot muster up any interest in the thing whatsoever. A selfish stance no doubt. . . . I went out for a drink instead.

Tuesday, February 22, 1983


Yet again, last night’s darkness saw me crumple in on myself. I went to bed in the afternoon after staying up all night, got up at 9 p.m. and half heartedly worked until I was dragged into Marco’s room by Penny and Shelley.

Marco was in typical drunken and explosive form. He’d already covered the kitchen in bleach, created havoc down the corridor, and now sat in his room with his friends, surrounded by bottles of whisky and cider. Everyone was drunk and we ended up at a party in Rousseau Hall with Gareth, Barry, Lindsey and Marco & co. I just couldn’t bear the crowded cramped din of people and had to leave, so I climbed up on the roof, stood about at a loss, and came back down. Back in my room I smashed glasses against the walls, and made a big dent. Shelley came and laid on my bed and joined in too, the Fall playing at full volume. . . .

Daylight helps put everything back in it’s proper perspective. Morning comes and everything from before looks so pointless . . . . I think back with shame on what I’ve done, that I could be so weak.

Doris, the Wollstonecraft porter, throws bread down on the grass in the central courtyard outside my window and soon, a flock of seagulls wheel down out of a clear sky, great white flapping things, twisting in the sun, soaring and circling between the dingy redbrick walls.

I went to my American Studies lecture on Dickinson and Thoreau and on the way back stopped at the Tuesday market and bought Elvin Jones Live at the Lighthouse and an LP by Monk.

Monday, February 21, 1983

Fleeting moments

I stayed up all night but did nothing, and so it was with little remorse that I decided to miss today’s tutorial. I suppose if I’d really tried I could’ve finished the essay, and in a way it’s a little self-defeating to not go after reading the whole of Woolf, but at least I now can see the continuity between Joyce, Eliot and Woolf and their preoccupation with deeper levels than ordinary conversational consciousness.

More important for them are the meaningful ‘internal dialogues’ the characters have with themselves, and also (perhaps this a clue to reaching these ‘deeper levels’) the fragmented mental influence of immediate sounds, colours and experiences, their sudden breaks in continuity and shifts in time and character.

The everyday is important, for it’s in the everyday that we constantly live. No longer does a story have to be epic, tragic or noble in scale or character. Now mundane ‘average’ people and the fleeting moments of their lives take up centre-stage, sparking deeper resonances: Bloom and his breakfast and toilet, the Ramsays and Lily Briscoe and their everyday desperations and revelations.

There’s an incomprehensibility to this too, a new sense of confusion and doubt, a sense of not knowing anymore, a vision of a chaotic universe that replaces the old Victorian world of ordered morality, Church, and faith.

Sunday, February 20, 1983

The great revelation

Hit the sack at nine last night feeling completely drained and weary, and as I lay in bed I could hear short bursts of Lindsey’s laughter as she talked with Gareth and Stu down the corridor . . . I ended up thumping the radiator and putting a record on to drown out the sound. I woke up briefly at midnight to get some food and didn’t get back up until 12.30 today.

I have a lot of work to do still, and today’s schedule has to accommodate writing two Modernism essays and reading the entire three hundred pages of Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. I need to change, perhaps something drastic, maybe become a recluse and lock myself away in my room from day to day . . . but I'm too gregarious for that. I really hate living here at times: I turn into such a pathetic bastard, spending my time so pointlessly, always gripped by lethargy. It's horrible, these dull resentful feelings, baulking at the thought of the effort needed to do anything. Will I go through my life doing nothing, merely because I “couldn’t be bothered”?

"What is the meaning of life? That was all – a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with the years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark . . . In the midst of chaos was shape."

Now I'm faced with staying up all night to get at least one of these essays done . . . Eliot so obscure, so ephemeral, so difficult to pin down. If “The Wasteland” does reflect the intellectual sterility of the post-WW1 world then it's only on the level of reflecting its incomprehensibility, its confusion and dislocation.

I've been more or less been shut in my room all day, reading and listening to the sounds of others outside. Mr. R in To the Lighthouse.

Saturday, February 19, 1983

Not as strong

I ended up staying awake all night with Barry and Shelley. Barry and I wheedled out of Shelley that Penny now likes Shawn. I had a long talk with Shelley in the kitchen: “We all have similar feelings to yours but not on the same level. Yours would be scaled a ten in desperation. Ours are not as strong.”

I slept all afternoon and woke up at teatime to play football. We were beaten 10-6 by the Science team.

Friday, February 18, 1983


It's pointless mentioning today other than the usual pub crawl. I met Gareth, Stu and Barry in the pub: Gareth had a copy of Coltrane’s Crescent I’d asked him to buy, and we did the rounds of several pubs; I got through ten pounds again and did my predictable downing of large amounts of whisky. We got back fairly late and messed about in pissed hilarity.

It's 2 in the morning and Shelley, Penny, and Susie have just got back from the Sex Gang Children concert and now lie in the corridor in a big heap. Gareth, Stu and Shawn have locked themselves in the latter’s room to play Campaign, which is the latest fad. This irks Barry and I, because every time we approach Shawn’s door, he shouts at us for making a noise and claims he's trying to get some sleep.

Thursday, February 17, 1983

Clean break

I didn’t go to bed at all last night. I was supposed to be reading the final one hundred and fifty or so pages of Walden, but predictably I failed in my task. By five or six in the morning it had turned into a pretty depressing situation.

Lindsey was very pissed off too. Her work is going badly; she's done hardly anything and missed this morning's tutorial, her third in succession for that course. She’s also missed a couple for her other and finds herself deeper and deeper in shit. She sprawled across the bed, frustrated and fed up, saying she wanted to go to Cambridge to see a friend, to escape, and eventually decided to go up to London to visit relatives before going to bed.

Meanwhile, I sank into all the same old feelings of boredom at this usual routine. It’s incredible—here I am, doing what, six months ago. I wanted to do more than anything else, something I'd looked forward to immensely, but now I find myself making all the same mistakes and blunders in the second term I made in the first.

So much for my new start, my clean break. I’m lucky to have this opportunity and it's one not many get, but here I am, wallowing and complaining, feeling claustrophobic and frustrated, trapped and desperately wanting a way out. I can’t help it.

Dull silence.

I managed to stay up long enough for my tutorial with Miriam, which went OK. I handed in my essay and we were promptly told that she considers a ten sider too short and would like to see us attempt 3000-4000-word essays!

The rest of the day has been pretty forgettable.

Wednesday, February 16, 1983

Dust caught

I went to bed at 3 last night. People were smoking dope and drinking wine in Rowan's room but I declined, once more feeling such a knot of dissatisfaction with this life and existence that I wanted to smash things. What more is there?

Barry’s friend John Turney is due down today and already I hate the whole slimy, monotonous, vaguely sexualized reality he brings with him. Rowan spoke frankly about his “sexual tastes which are not my bag.” So far I haven’t enjoyed this term as much as I did the last. Oh to live in Watermouth! The nights are the worst.

Lee left at 8 this morning: he was hopeful he could hitch back quickly because it took him over twelve hours on the way down. He says he’s been sleeping rough in barns to “see what it feels like” and that he and his Easterby mates have been tampering with street lamps.

I should’ve got up early to do my work for tomorrow (aaargh!), but instead I ligged in bed until noon but by 1.30 was down at the library. The sun was shining in a white intense sky, the trees were stark bare silhouettes and all around me people worked. I had an essay to write and Walden to read. By 7 I'd ploughed my way through various critical books on Emerson and finally made it through the essay too, writing six sides, some of which is OK, especially towards the end.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Lee told me yesterday about his views on painting, which he dislikes, calling it a "secondary" form of experience: he's now into assemblages and things like that. He wonders how a purely two-dimensional canvas can make us look at the world in different ways and give us a different perspective. Some of the things he’s been doing sound very interesting, hence my dissatisfaction with the study of literature. To actually participate, create, and be involved with something as exciting as that would surely be more fulfilling. At the end of a day's effort there'd actually be something concrete to show for it. Perhaps my ‘rewards’ will be invisible, mental ones.

Athletic won 5-1!

Tuesday, February 15, 1983

No logo

Lee came down to Watermouth very late yesterday evening. He was here to see the Art College. When he arrived I was in a drunken state, having been up to Biko’s and cashed a cheque for a fiver which I then spent on whisky and cider. I'd followed Rowan over to Taylor Hall where she was going to buy dope and ended up asleep under the stairs, finally crashing out in our corridor, full-length on the floor.

When Lee arrived I'd been carried insensible to my bed and lay there snoring loudly. Although I was drunk I heard Lee's voice through the blur and was startled to discover him standing there. But I went back to sleep almost immediately.

We were up by eleven and set off into Watermouth and the Art College on Maynard Gardens. We wandered about town for a while, stopping at the hologram shop and then headed to the sea front, which impressed Lee. We stood for a while on a concrete breakwater, the sun intense in a pale sky turning the sea into a brilliant translucent green, hypnotic as it pulsed gently against the beach, raking the pebbles with the backwash and causing them to crackle and roar as they were dragged against one another. By the time we got back to the promenade we both had headaches from squinting into the sun.

We bought some food and fruit and I bought a 1918 edition of Rupert Brooke’s poems for Dad. The Art College was full of people in outrageous clothing and trendy hairstyles and we hung about vacantly for a while, Lee making half hearted attempts to seek out Wendy Kelly, a student from Easterby Art College. We got permission to wander around the studios which made me think: Art College offers so many more opportunities to actually spend time creatively and there’s an element of excitement. You are there on the cutting edge, so to speak, whereas with Literature it feels like a case of merely writing about things that have been explored much more thoroughly and by more knowledgeable people. It lacks the spontaneity of art. Right there and then I felt like dropping out and taking an art course. I do so little!

Lee seemed almost bored by everything, and on the way back to the University we nicked a mirror from the carriage of the train, a long one with the BR logo in the middle. We were in a panic unscrewing it as we were pulling into the station and I hid it inside my coat. It’s now screwed into my notice-board.

Back in Wollstonecraft we lounged about, Lee expressing his doubts about this existence: “Is this all you do with your time? How do you fill your days?” We went out for a disinterested drink at the Town & Gown and got back about 8.30. Lee went to sleep because he had to be up early next day to hitch all the way back, but I went out again to see Mean Streets in Hobbes Hall. I’m looking forward so much to seeing those paper-strewn, dustbinful fire hydrant streets of N.Y.!

Monday, February 14, 1983

Quiet desperation

I have four essays to write on Thoreau, Emerson v. Wordsworth, Ulysses and T. S. Eliot. I also have to read To the Light House by Woolf: the amount of work I have to do is unbelievable.

I started reading Thoreau today. Whereas Thoreau’s journals record his intellectual and mental progress and will be read for time immemorial, mine are merely the forgettable, forgotten journals of a life of “quiet desperation” which will pass from the world after I am gone.

I at least expected a letter or two today in reply to the six I've sent since last Wednesday. But nothing. Books to read: The Outsider, Confessions of an English Opium Eater, Ecce Homo, Under The Volcano, Demian.

Sunday, February 13, 1983

Beyond good and evil

I was supposed to go see Battleship Potemkin and We Are From Kronstadt in Watermouth but I lazed about here instead. A bright sunny day, the snow melting.

People arrived back in dribs and drabs throughout the afternoon, first Shelley, then Barry and Lindsey. . . We went out on the piss in the evening and I spent a tenner, rounding off the evening off with a Chinese take away.

At the end, back in Wollstonecraft, I just felt so pissed off, all around me the world having fun, Rowan laughing and screaming with Katie in her room, everyone else is in Shawn’s room while I slunk back subdued to mine to sit and write this. . . . Maybe I do imagine it all. Am I really so fed up? But this is how I feel and think. . . .

Rowan’s finished reading Ecce Homo and is now reading Beyond Good and Evil. She makes me feel so lazy.

Saturday, February 12, 1983

Doctors of the church

Guy and Susie came along on the pub crawl and six of us set out, me for one thinking how unenthusiastic we all seemed, and what with everyone away the evening had that old sad feeling, like something had gone. After seven whiskies in the Anchor and then the Crown & Flute I was drunk.

I got embroiled in yet another pointless and despairing argument with Barry, who pushed the Marxist line. Susie was noncommittal and well informed, and I wallowed ineffectually in nihilistic sentiment. Aired the usual opinions and Barry accused me of being over-simplistic. He said I was wrong to accuse Marx of tying everything to the economic base, because it wasn’t that simple, and so I conceded that the superstructure might have some degree of autonomy from the base. Once again I resolve to read. It will be interesting to see how my views change.

It snowed heavily today and the fields and paths are dusted white. Easterby Athletic won their first match in two months. I imagined the surge of relief flooding around the ground at the final whistle. At six a few of us went over to the Airhall to play soccer, which really tired me out.

The corridor is a 'scene' of growing fragmentation. Yvonne and Rowan, who were inseparable last term, have rowed and fallen out and now scarcely speak. Rowan now spends all her evenings and days too cackling and screaming with Katie from downstairs. Lindsey, Shelley, and Penny usually hole up either in Penny’s room or Shelley’s and they often go out by themselves. “They probably want to meet different men,” says Rowan.

I stayed in read more of Ulysses, 80 pages today. I feel a little down in the mouth again, and nothing I can think of excites me. feel jaded, my small world the same as before. I want something important and meaningful to happen! I just don’t know what I want!

Friday, February 11, 1983


I’ve spent £6 on books in the bookshop over the last two days, buying Moby Dick, Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo, Hesse’s Demian and, today, Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, another burned out writer who died aged 47 in 1954. It’s the story of an HM ex-consul hitting the bottle in the face of a “world he doesn’t understand.” What is this fascination with burned out alcoholic writers? I almost bought a biography of Blake too.

As I write this Rowan is sitting on my floor by my sink reading Nietzsche. She commented on my array of books, many of them unread. “They look good, anyway,” she says. I hoard books like a magpie.

I have so much to read: Ulysses, The Odyssey, Moby Dick, and I've got numerous library books out (De Quincey’s Confessions, three jazz books I’ve long intended taking notes from. . . ). The De Quincey is evidence once again of an odd semi-fixation I seem to have with late-18th/early-19th century English writers, which I’ve picked up through exposure to Robert’s reading (Lives of the Poets, Boswell, Johnson, The Gentleman’s Magazine, etc.).

I’ve posted four letters over the last couple of days too, to Claire, Andrew, and a couple to Mum and Dad. It would be so easy to spend time reading and doing little else. I haven’t been out much lately; my ‘crisis’ era of drinking has ended, now replaced by a ‘recluse’ phase where I'm staying in. I’ve only been out twice since last Friday and I can see no end to it in the foreseeable future, for the work piles up until the end of the Easter holidays.

Looking back on the last fortnight . . . It's so difficult to work out what was really moving me and why I acted as I did. Why so much emotion and for what reason? “You’d die without your little secrets" says Rowan. Perhaps this diary is the only lasting ‘achievement’ of my life so far, and what sort of an achievement is it? Not much . . . Perhaps it's an attempt to shape my life and impose order on the surrounding meaningless chaos: a bourgeois idea no doubt. The idea of a journal has always fascinated me.

We’re going on a piss-up again tonight. I've not been drunk for a week: that speed last Friday really wrecked me and gave me stomach ache. I didn’t eat for 3 days. I'm never taking ½ a gramme again. At the moment we are all in depleted state. Stu, Gareth, Shawn, Shelley, Lindsey and Susie have all gone home, and only three of us are going out tonight.

Thursday, February 10, 1983

Something to be

I wrote a couple of sides of notes in preparation for my tutorial and finally got to bed at 4 a.m. I woke up with 15 minutes to spare before 2 p.m. and rushed out without a wash or anything, feeling heavy-eyed and muddy.

But it went quite well; I reeled off my prep. & Miriam H. said later I’d done OK. She can be a bit off-putting at times. Occasionally, in the middle of some hazy student monologue about a book I catch her glancing away and sighing almost impatiently. Today she told us that any “sharpness” she exhibits is purely on an intellectual level and we shouldn’t misconstrue it as personal.

She seemed surprised at the way we’d been taught at ‘A’ level, almost unable to believe we’d always been given essay topics by our teachers and had never been told why what we were reading was on our syllabus. I see now how unfair this was, because we were never active participants in our own education, especially in English: we just sat and had all the imagery and symbolism of Shakespeare, Conrad, and Naipaul rammed down our throats. Miriam H.’s methods throw me a bit and some people say they’d feel all at sea being asked to choose their own topics to write about. Sometimes she never even tells us she wants an essay.

I left the tutorial promising to write two essays, one on Emerson and Wordsworth and another on Thoreau. We have to read Walden and Civil Disobedience for next week. I have a lot to read and so little time to do it!

Pete and Stu took speed tonight to help them write their essays. Pete's written 15½ sides and Stu 7. Pete's been taking speed pretty regularly over the last few weeks.

Wednesday, February 9, 1983

The last instance

I got up early in the afternoon for my American Lit. seminar, the one for which I'd read Eagleton. The seminar was heavy at times.

I want to study literature as a product of its age instead of as an end in itself. The way we read literature in school--ripping apart The Secret Agent to discover imagery, etc.--is really boring. I like to see things in their historical context, so I'm rethinking my opinion of Marxism. Maybe it's useful as a way to explain context. But the thing I don’t like is the explanation of the whole of human life in terms of economics. Perhaps I’m being too na├»ve (and also wrong) in thinking this though.

 Isn't it presumptuous to relate all the mystery, all the desperation, all the individual sparks of creativity that push some to write and some to paint to a coldly predetermined scientific scheme? If the ‘spark of creativity’ (some call it genius) is denied, why is it some people produce art while others who live under identical ideological conditions never do? There must be something else there, something in the individual's psychology that somehow reacts to external conditions so as to produce an ‘artist’. I don’t believe the key to human existence can be so easily known.

After my seminar I went down the library and spent five hours reading through Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads, taking notes, and then reading Emerson’s high-flown quasi-messianic descriptions of “The Poet” and “Nature.” I enjoyed Wordsworth better than Emerson. In between I happily browsed in the stacks. I  photocopied a couple of letters by Helen Vaughan from a volume of her collected correspondence, but for once I did all my work for tomorrow’s tutorial.

Tuesday, February 8, 1983

Form and content

Snow today. I write this in the library: it is precisely seven o’clock in the evening. I got up at one and, after failing miserably in my attempts to work in my room, I came down here at five. I've such a lot to do, but at least it's interesting.

I was battered by the wind as I walked to the library; it reminded me of Bethany moor, far away. I've just finished Eagleton’s Marxism and Literary Criticism: the ‘form and content’ chapter was difficult. I’ve yet to make notes.

Monday, February 7, 1983

This will not do

I’m reading Colin Wilson's The Outsider at the moment and I'm keeping a reading list of the books he mentions. Also, because I feel so so out of my depth and intellectually overpowered by the people I've met in Whincliffe and have no basis on which to argue with them, I've made a vow to read some Marx and try to get myself sorted out.

The letter situation has got to alter too: I’ve got Grant, Dad and Claire to reply to. Dad’s letter opened with “This will not do,” and complained I don’t write enough. I have a tutorial to present on Thursday too.

Sunday, February 6, 1983

Fallen apart

I've stayed up for thirty eight hours straight, from Friday lunchtime until 4 a.m. this morning. This journal has fallen apart of late: the momentum and incentive seems to have gone, but then in a way the incentive for a lot of things has gone. . . . Recently I’ve been feeling utterly deadened by this journal but I've warmed again to the idea over the last few days.

I haven’t done a stroke of work in weeks.

Maybe my desire to live out a level of intensity is just an expression of a desire to have some sort of a connection with someone?

Saturday, February 5, 1983


I haven't been to bed yet. Am I destined to go through life watching others as though I’m on the other side of a pane of glass? What do I want? Someone to walk up to me and promise to be with me without me doing a thing about it?

I'm starting to despise the mundane level of daily existence, the inane talk, the chatter, the laughter, the busy ant-like scurrying that fills the days with meaningless, unfulfilling activity. I crave intensity because nothing ever happens, and I know the way I’m carrying on nothing ever will. I'm sick of scratching the surface, of a throwaway existence, of forgotten comments and jokes about the weather, sick of the odd laugh at an occasional party or two.

It's as if by getting drunk, staying up late, not eating (I haven’t had a decent meal in three days) I'll make something happen, even if it’s something negative. Better that than just blithely putting up a placid, cheerful exterior and pretending nothing is wrong.

Friday, February 4, 1983

Taken for a ride

Our usual Friday night pub crawl. I took ½ a gram of speed again, in the toilet of The Anchor: when I sat back down I felt the rush of excitement fluttering in my stomach and my heart. I felt impatient with the superficialities of pub conversation, needing intensity and emotion. So I talked with Susie about her near-anorexia of a few years ago and her feelings that RCP Carl has taken her for a ride during their four-day romance.

In the last pub the two of us sat apart from everyone else, and I felt knotted up and desperate again. Susie rested her head on my shoulder in a little gesture of comfort and sympathy.

When we got back to Uni. we were invited to a ‘party’ in an adjacent corridor. Stefan and Catrin were loudly drunk and falling about all over the place, Stefan's long hair, lionesque beard and moustache framing sharp features pinched into an evil grin. As Lindsey poured herself a drink he came up behind her and thrust his hips provocatively just inches from her arse. Barry was very drunk, making clear moves towards an American girl.

Thursday, February 3, 1983

Clock ticks me

I finally got to my first American Literature tutorial, with Ms. Miriam Hasselmann, a small American with a pretty fierce reputation, the sort of ‘you’ll-love-her-or-hate-her’ type. I quite liked her. The other three in my tutorial compared a Melville novel to something by Poe: I sat smiling and nodding inanely.

So, eager to create a better impression, I volunteered to present next week’s tutorial, comparing Emerson’s “Nature” & “The Poet” with Wordsworth’s 1802 Introduction to Lyrical Ballads.

Wednesday, February 2, 1983

The game

We were sitting around in Stu’s room when we saw a bloke knocking at Rowan’s door. Later they both emerged, she dressed up to go out, and she seemed to flash us a desperate look, as if to say ‘I don’t want to go!’

She asked us if we’d “be about” when she got back. Hours later she returned alone and dragged me into her room to tell me the full story.

The bloke was from Durham and she'd had a weekend romance with him on her trip to stay with her friend. And then he turned up earlier in the day with a bag packed (towels, toothpaste, Durex etc.) and expected to sleep the night. Rowan and the bloke (Martin) went out into Watermouth but he ‘accidently’ missed the last train back to London. This had infuriated her, so she told him to “fuck off” and now he was sleeping over in Wilberforce Hall. She said she felt very bad about it and I think she expected moral support from me.

The Game at work. I feel desperate at times.

Tuesday, February 1, 1983


Penny asked me if I’d said anything to Lindsey over the weekend about how I feel. I said I hadn't.

Although Lindsey is part of my problem she’s not all of it. There’s also a feeling of narrowness, each day succeeding the last in an unbroken chain of monotony. I wake up each morning (or usually each afternoon) knowing exactly the way my day is going to go. This place is so limiting.

The thought of another day of the same faces, same people, same sense of dissatisfaction inside. . . .
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