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.

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