Sunday, March 27, 1983


Andrew rang up at teatime yesterday from Leicester Forest Service station and said he was coming home. Dad picked him up from Holdsworth Square at about eight thirty. It was good to see him again so while Dad watched a William Walton concert on TV, we whiled away the evening talking about music. He’s reading a definitive history of jazz by James Lincoln Collier.

Mum and Dad went to bed early but Andrew and I talked long into the night. He’s worried at the thought of having to get a job over the summer, afraid he says of falling into a rut and getting cut off from society. He doesn’t want to go work in Denmark because he feels that would be too easy and sort of running away from his problems. He says he's in a self-created prison, and it’s up to him to change it, that it’s no use fleeing because he's his own jailer and drags his chains of bondage around with him wherever he goes.

He likened his psychological condition before he went to College to that of a “mental illness.” He says he was “scared to go out and yet I hated my loneliness and isolation, but when the phone rang I was terrified. . . .”

Why are we three so screwed up!? What is it about our upbringing that's made us like this? Andrew says he’s a different person now but is still haunted by the same paranoid fears with which I'm plagued. “I tried to keep a diary once but it was too embarrassing. I found all my emotional disturbances depressing.”

It took me hours to get to sleep.

I woke up remembering that I’d promised to meet Lee at Geoffrey Road, this time for definite. I set off mid-afternoon and was soon walking up through the cold and empty wind-blown streets by the Art College.

Lee was there with Jason Douglas (ex-Farnshaw Art College) and they were doing some objective drawing of the interiors of derelict houses. Lee enthusiastically told me about an empty factory he'd discovered last week and all the stationery and equipment they’d walked away with. We hopped over a wall and entered the black doorway of an old house, squeezing past a door that swung precariously on one hinge.

Downstairs in the cellar it was pitch black and the only light we had was Lee’s weak torch. He showed me several old tin WW2 helmets which had almost rusted away to nothing, scattered fragments of gas masks, numerous old-fashioned cork-stoppered bottles and dusty porno mags strewn on the steps. He also showed me the sack full of telephones he’d ripped off from the factory.

Upstairs he’d found a way through into the derelict factory and offices of the Montreal Woolpacking Co. next door. It was quite literally amazing to walk around in there, down the office corridors and into rooms filled with notepaper, account books from the ‘fifties, office equipment, everything as if the office staff had just put on their coats and left. A calendar on the wall said November 1982 and some of the account books went up to last summer.

The dark hulking rooms of the factory stood silent and were littered with bales and bags of wool. In one room there were a lot of bottles of various acids and ether, all quite full, and we even found a small green bottle with a cork stopper that had ‘Poison’ printed on the label. The contents smelled strongly of almonds, so we immediately thought of arsenic or cyanide. I put it in my pocket.

In another room was a safe and a huge typewriter, both with lot numbers chalked on them. The rooms were strewn with papers and debris. Lee said a spiral staircase which ran up from the ground-floor had gone since last week. We crept about, speaking in hoarse whispers . . . I was amazed at this place. Lee said his tutor had told him not just to do this for the adrenaline kick, but to utilise it “artistically.”

We now ventured further afield, into an empty house in Crossley Street and then down towards Leckenby Road and yet more factories. We found our way into one; the skylights at the back had been smashed and the lead had been ripped out. Glass littered the factory floor, which was empty save for a minivan, wheel-less and on its roof in the darkness.

We were examining the broken windows of one derelict factory in Ginnel Square when we were surprised by a policeman. He came walking towards us from the direction of town so we quickly set off walking the opposite way, but he stopped us and asked us what we were doing.

-- “We’re taking a short cut.”
-- “Where are you going?”
-- (Feebly) “Over here, Leckenby Rd area.”
-- “You’re not collecting scrap metal by any chance?” said he, suspiciously eyeing Lee’s dust blathered boots & jacket.

So we departed the scene feeling a bit rattled, cursing our frightened explanations and thinking of all the things we should’ve said as we made our nervy way back towards our ‘base’ at Geoffrey Road. We were slowly walking up a road flanked by old mills and empty houses when we heard a car approach us from behind. “It’s them!” cursed Lee so we strolled onwards self-consciously as the police car drew alongside.

We had our names and birth-dates taken, and endured the usual questioning. We told them we were drawing derelict buildings and Lee showed one of them his drawings. Eventually, when the ‘all-correct’ came through from HQ.

-- “I can’t tell you to clear off as you’re legitimate, but next time be more specific than ‘we’re taking a short cut.’”

Feeling shaken, we decided to call it a day. I dropped my poison down a drain and we went home.

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