Tuesday, May 31, 1983

After me, the deluge


Pete rang the bookies up again to day and asked if we could give a month’s rent-in-advance instead, but he was told we’d have to wait for Mr. Harrop’s decision when he comes back tomorrow. Everyone agrees that thirteen weeks rent up front is excessive.

So Guy and I set out to look round some housing agencies while Pete went up to the Welfare Office. Barry was busy with his stall. Carl Cotton had come down again and we found the two of them accosting people and trying to sell them copies of The Irish War (“a Top Ten Bestseller in London,” says Barry).

It was a hot day and before Guy and I set off, he tried to persuade people to come with us with seductive promises of drunkenness on the beach, but it ended up with just the two of us hitching a lift into town. This was my first ever experience of hitch hiking and no sooner had we got settled with thumbs out than a red Renault van pulled over and we clambered in. It was driven by a blond bearded man and his dark-haired wife: he said he was a student at Watermouth over ten years ago. Guy did most of the talking and we were dropped near St. Mark’s Church along from Maynard Park.

We visited a couple of agencies; the first offered no hope until September, the next was closed and the third proved the most hopeful. We bought a pint of prawns between us for £1.00 and wandered up through the dry and glaring tourist-filled streets tearing the heads and legs off the prawns as we devoured them. Then we went to Sainsbury’s and bought a half bottle of vodka, four small bottles of pale ale, a pint of orange juice and a large litre bottle of Rutland Bitter, supplementing this later with a bottle of cider from The Bay Mare opposite Wessex Road station. This done, we headed down to the beach and established ourselves among the pebbles.

The beach was filled with families and balls and dogs. We broke open the pale ale and settled down to talk and read a couple of Marvel comics I’d bought, which soon had us laughing at the brilliant and improbable pulp-mag lyricism. We sat on the lip of the beach, at the top of a short but fairly steep slope down to the waves, so we gazed out only a little way above eye level over the gentle swell and calmly lapping surf. The sea was flat calm and dotted with the glint of beer and soft-drink cans, and occasionally a speed boat ploughed by towing a water-skier. A few yards off shore a becalmed windsurfer flapped helplessly about.

We talked about Rowan, agreeing that she was screwed up. We also talked about death. Guy said he quite looked forward to dying because he was curious to see “what the other side” is like. I said I didn’t think there was an “other side,” nothing but an eternal blackness of non-existence, but we couldn’t agree. He said he believed in reincarnation and in God too, which surprised me, but then he elaborated by saying that in his view God is just another word for “Everything.”

Life felt so good at this point; I even said so to Guy, in an alcohol joy of enthusiasm. A billion pebbles swept away to our left, blurring into an untold, innumerable mass, dotted with gaily-coloured figures: a man throwing something white into the sea for his black dog, which swam out to retrieve then swam back, prancing happily at his feet, Empire Pier white and angular in the sun, a striped helter-skelter rising over the waves mid-way along; the tide hissing and foaming as it retreated down the beach, leaving wet and shiny pebbles to dry in the hot sun.

Guy stripped off to the waist and we went paddling, creeping painfully back to our hollow of bottles and bags.


At about half-seven it started to get chilly so we upped and left in search of more drink. All the off-licences were closed and Guy was fairly pissed now, loud and smiling and shuffling along the pavement in his espadrilles, waving his arms and making comments to passersby or about shop window displays.

We fended off a dwarfish Irishman on the scrounge for money to buy a “cup o’ tea.” Guy dismissed him with a “no way, mate” after he’d cut across in front of us. “Can I ask you a civil question? Look . . .” (to me), “you’re a big lad, an’ you could knock me flying. I’ve got a broken arm . . .”

We bought a Chinese and and crouched on a neighbour's wall to eat: the old white haired lady who lived there emerged to angrily point out the mess of cartons and carrier bags and dribbled sweet and sour disfiguring her tiny front yard. “Don’t worry yourself, luv,” said Guy and we cleaned up the mess.

Guy and I got back to the Uni. fairly late to find Barry, Carl Cotton and Russ in Westway Loop. I felt oppressed and left early. An enormous thunderstorm accompanied my return. Everyone gathered on the ‘patio’ area above the common room to watch the giant fingers of lightning jag their way across the orange sky, and “ooh” and “aah” in ironic parody of kids at the fireworks. The rain came down in great sheets and the patio area was soon flooded: water began to creep beneath the door into the corridor parallel to ours and was soon flowing freely into several rooms before the rain abated and the deluge was beaten back with brooms and pans.

Taylor Hall car park was six or seven inches deep, and a large crowd gathered to splash about among the stranded cars. Guy, Graeme and I paddled about barefoot and explored  the many enormous puddles which dotted campus.

After everyone had gone to bed, the lightning returned, flashing majestically across the sky high beyond the hills.

Monday, May 30, 1983

Complications


Bank Holiday Monday. At dinnertime, Pete, Barry and I set out in stifling weather for our appointment with the owners of the flat. We walked to Jubilee Drive, off Old Priory Road, about a quarter of a mile along the Wickbourne Road, and discovered our destination was another bookies identical to that in Jervis Terrace.

We had to wait a while inside; it was crowded and smoky, full of old blokes sitting waiting for the results to come over the tannoy, and younger men intently examining the pasted up newspaper pages for the form of the horses or dogs. At one end of the small room was a glass partition behind which a man chalked up the latest odds in response to the tannoy.

Barry asked for Colin and about ten minutes later a head popped round from a side door and we were told to go out & in the other entrance. A loud Alsatian barked excitedly as we were ushered upstairs and into a bare & dingy living room.

Colin took our names and subjects and told us that we were expected to pay thirteen weeks rent in advance, plus £50 deposit—I added it up in my head, a pretty impossible £258 all told. He seemed fairly reasonable about everything else: “I don’t mind what you do so long as nothing is damaged and no neighbours complain” (a veiled reference to what?). “It’s a fairly quiet area and the only hassle you’ll get is the noise from the tannoy downstairs.”

We asked him if we could have until Wednesday to think about it. . . .

Walking back we discussed the looming problem of £258, which is a bit steep, and I’m £40 overdrawn already! There’s also the problem of signing on. If I want to go home for any length of time then I’ll have to commute back down here to sign on every fortnight. Also, what about the holidays? Pete seemed reluctant to give up his holiday of two months and I don’t really want to stay down here. The only way I could raise that amount of money would be to maybe ask Mum & Dad or ask the bank for a loan (they’d be certain to get the money back from DHSS who’ll pay my rent for me every week if I sign on).

Maybe I’ll have to stay down here and try get a job? Hassles, complications. . . .

Sunday, May 29, 1983

Copy


I spent the entire day trying to copy out my essay and failing dismally to stick at it . . .

Saturday, May 28, 1983

In my area


My housing situation for next year is now quite different than a few days ago.

Earlier this evening, Barry, Pete and I went to look at a flat available at the end of June that Pete heard about through Tasha and co. The address is 44 Jervis Terrace, above Crown Racing—a betting shop—and adjacent to a row of shops that includes, to our delight, an off-licence, a chippy, a green grocer, a butcher, a newsagent, a chemist and a small supermarket.

The house itself is squat and redbrick and stands apart from the rest of the houses, on the corner of Windmill Avenue and Jervis Terrace, about ¾ of a mile from Wessex Road station. Access is via a door and a dingy staircase beside the betting shop. We had a quick look round—the present occupants, three 2nd year students, didn’t seem to mind. There are three bedrooms, the one at the front of the house being by far the biggest; Pete said he wanted it as there would be more room for when Mo stayed over. The other two bedrooms are fairly small, and there’s a kitchen, a through sitting room between that & the hall, a bathroom and not much else.

We came back out into the bright evening sun and immediately felt really enthusiastic about it, Barry especially. The area verges on the suburban, with lots of quiet roads lined with semi-detached houses although the terraced streets, red-roofed vistas and estate panoramas give the area a vaguely seedy and neglected air. We tried to see our whereabouts in relation to everything else by going up in a lift to the fifteenth floor of a tower-block a few hundred yards away, but the view was poor and the door onto the roof was padlocked. 

We phoned up the owner, a Mr. Harrop, and said we were really interested and asked if we could we go round and see him. We agreed on Monday. At this we felt very excited and enthusiastic and went to a nearby pub for a celebratory drink.

We had a Chinese and then met Mo at the Bellemoor near Maynard Park and had a couple more drinks, before going back to the University bursting to tell everyone of our scoop.

Friday, May 27, 1983

Day


A pretty nondescript day.

Thursday, May 26, 1983

Wembley way


The highlight of the term will surely be today’s trip up to see the Cup Final Replay at Wembley.

Guy and I had a tutorial with Miriam at eleven and we sat through it feeling totally distracted and uninterested; how could we concentrate when the prospect of Wembley was only hours away? I was in a fever of excitement by the time we got back to Wollstonecraft Hall and we had long hassles getting everyone together, but eventually, at 1.30 or so, Guy, Barry, Pete and I set off.

There were quite a few Seagulls fans on the train to London. There was an alcohol ban on the train and just after we’d set off, a couple of policemen marched through the carriage, glaring round looking for illicit booze. The journey up was fairly quiet, but as soon as we got to Waterloo we were greeted by a station forecourt packed with fans clad either in blue- or red-and-white, along with legions of police.

We ate at a Pizzaland and then joined the noise and chaos outside, where hordes of football fans milled enthusiastically along the pavements. We joined the exodus to the nearby off-licence and bought beer and cider and set off to meet Kamran at Baker Street tube station. The tube trains were packed and the whole Underground seemed to have been overtaken by beery, chanting fans clutching their colours.

As the crowd flooded down the escalators the police loomed at the bottom, one inspector interrupting the flow of people to stop someone and chide him, and then, as he received some comment, “. . . and you can cut the lip, too!’ As we strode past I caught a glimpse of his tight face, thin-lipped, smooth, and humourless.

We boarded the train for Baker Street, met Kamran, and took the next train to Wembley Park. We stood with Manchester Utd. fans all the way to Wembley and there wasn’t any hassle between the two sets of opposing fans, even friendly rivalry with one small group standing virtually nose to nose and chanting madly at one another as the rest of the carriage smiled.

It was quite a long journey but eventually the legendary twin towers of Wembley stadium appeared to our left, framed against a setting sun. Everyone strained to see.

We flooded off the train and along the long Mall-like road toward the ground which was lined with stalls selling programmes, flags, caps and hot-dogs. Barry bought a Man Utd. scarf and Pete a Seagulls cap. We had a hot-dog each and joined the great throng of people heading towards the ground and then milled around aimlessly for a while beneath the walls of Wembley. I was feeling quite pissed.

Everything felt warm and relaxed. Overhead the helicopter taking the Brighton team to Wembley circled as people stood to stare or cheer. We estimated the crowd mainly consisted of Manchester fans and as the ragged chants of “Seagulls” rang out, back came a mocking reply, “Seaweed, Seaweed……”

Our tickets were for section B18 (East), so we pushed through the mass of people and around the leafy perimeter of the ground, the air filled with shouting and singing. I just couldn’t believe it, and in my semi-drunken state the unreality of the whole episode was emphasised. Once through the turnstiles we were in a perimeter area between the inner and outer walls, the entrances to the lower sections of the terraces in front of us, and we had to climb two flights of stairs to reach our places.

We mounted the last step and the dreamed of view opened out before us, the pitch, looking smaller than on TV, surrounded by the track and huddles of cameramen and all around the great sweep of terracing and seats packed with dense crowds, filled with waving flags and colour. We were standing in what seemed to be the main Brighton end. Directly in front of us was the goal, and, in the distance was the massed wall of Manchester fans, a sea of red dotted here & there with banners.


We settled down to wait and soak in the atmosphere. I recollect these details vaguely, because the intense seething mood of the entire occasion so dominated that the peripheral details were pushed from my mind—a thousand views and sights and sounds I longed to capture and hold forever, but now I can only portray the general tone of the event, and that at best as a badly drawn sketch.

We were standing about two-thirds of the way up the terracing, a little to one side of the goal, with the towers of Wembley to our right and over in that direction too we could just make out the Royal Box with its strip of red carpet. The pre-match preliminaries flew by; the inspection of the ground by the teams in their club uniforms, the anonymous figures figures of the managers tiny on the pitch; then “Abide With Me,” the ground swelling to the words and emotion, the National Anthem, and finally a great deafening roar that rose up all around as the teams walked out from directly below, a resounding wall of bellowing—the famed “Wembley Roar.” The air was thick with flags and scarves. It was impossible to describe. I regretted that my senses were blunted a little through booze because I wanted to brand every tiny detail of this on my memory forever. I never want to forget the impact and immensity of it all, for I’ll be lucky to get a chance to go again.

In no time at all it seemed that the game had started, Brighton playing toward the Manchester end. The ‘papers afterwards said that the first 20 minutes had been all Brighton but I didn’t really remember it that way; I recall a few corners, the odd long ball punted up to the lone striker. In Manchester’s first real attack, there was Robson toe-ing the ball into the net past sprawling defenders and hardly had we settled from that it was 2-0, Whiteside’s scruffy header sailing over the heads of the defenders and over the line. The spirits of the Brighton fans were momentarily dampened but the soon the surging chants of “Sea-gulls” and “Brighton, Super Brighton, from the South…” returned. I can’t remember much else of the first half, hardly even the third goal which forced on us the realisation that this just wasn’t to be Brighton’s day.

Just after half-time a small scuffle erupted down to our right. A few Brighton fans had slipped surreptitiously into a Manchester enclave and the whole area suddenly erupted into kicking figures and flailing legs before the police moved quickly in, pushing their way through to form a dark barrier between the rival groups.

In the second half Manchester United mounted more attacks and started to run Brighton ragged. “Stevie Foster, Stevie Foster, what a difference you have made” mocked the distant Manchester voices. A run into the penalty area ended in a foul and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Muhren and wham!, in it went, as a thousand flash bulbs flared behind the goal. 4-0. The biggest ever Wembley Cup Final win. The fans around us began to sing “We’re Proud of You, We’re Proud of You,” much to the anger of one bloke nearby who swore and shouted that “we’re not in the Third Division now.” Manchester could have had several more goals and it must have been a relief to the Brighton players when the whistle finally went.

Bailey threw his arms into the air and the players shook hands, the managers came onto the pitch and the ground was filled with a continuous barrage of flash-bulb flashes and flag waving. The Cup was presented but we could hardly pick out the staircase or the players, but a cheer went up anyway as the Cup was hoisted into the air. We stayed for the laps of honour, first the jubilant Manchester players surrounded by a posse of yellow-jacketed pressmen and photographers and then the losers, on their own but still receiving applause. I lingered before the rapidly emptying stadium, wondering if I’d ever get to see it again but eventually I tore myself away and followed the others out into the chaos of cars and chanting people below.

The road back to the station was crammed with people and the entrance to Wembley Park underground was jammed solid. A loud-mouthed Manchester fan pinched Pete’s Seagulls cap and then got all obnoxious and aggressive: “Are you pushin’ me, mate?” etc., etc., before punching some bloke next to him in the face, causing the victim to retreat with wide frightened eyes.

At Waterloo, Barry and I were separated from the rest and waited for the others in Watermouth station. A kebab down in town, then we all met up and got back to University in the early hours of the morning.

Wednesday, May 25, 1983

I sit and look out


I woke up at eight, got up at ten, and was in the library by eleven thirty. I went down with Lindsey, who also had an essay to do. When we met again at one downstairs in the café I still hadn’t put pen to paper and when I finally did start writing, I progressed slowly and uncertainly. My subject was primarily Dickinson and Emerson, though I did intend dragging in Thoreau and Whitman somewhere along the line.

I left the library at nine thirty after spending ten hours there and writing seven and-a-bit sides. I wandered back through the gathering gloom smelling the grass and earth and remembering those nights long ago when I hunted beetles and moths in the back garden in Farnshaw.

I got back and continued with my essay, eventually grinding to a halt at ten-plus sides, which is nearly four thousand words. I tried to type it up but it seemed to take hours and my bed looked so enticing, and so at 4 a.m. my resolve finally crumbled and I gave up, with just a side and a half completed.

I’m very conscious of the poor quality of this narrative, especially after reading Emerson and Dickinson. Some people, I suppose, are born with the spark of genius and “come from where Dreams are born!”

“I sit and look out upon all the
sorrows of the world, and upon
all the oppression and shame,
……………………………………………….
All these, all the meanness and
agony without end I sitting
look out upon,
see, hear, and am silent” –

[“I Sit & Look Out,” Walt Whitman]

Tuesday, May 24, 1983

White and red


Last night Shelley told me that she and Penny have told Rowan and Katie that their quartet is no longer ‘on’ as far as house-sharing next year is concerned. Even though R. had been expecting this apparently there was still an evening of pregnant silence between L. and Shelley when the news broke.

So for the moment they are fallen out. Shelley says she’s irritated by Rowan’s refusal to see a psychiatrist (she never went that Friday) and attributes their rift to the acid-fling of a few weeks back. “She looks down on everyone—yes, even you . . . She’s fascinated by bisexuality and was even considering Penny,” Shelley said with a laugh at my incredulity. “I haven’t told Penny: she’d never speak to Rowan again.”

Sometimes I regard these hugely complicated melodramas with a little awe, yet at others I think them immature. “Deep down Rowan’s cruel. She uses everyone, and that’s why we’ve fallen out. Our relationship used to be based on equality but she can give nothing—she always just takes.” Katie is a “mess” too, said Shelley, and I just couldn’t believe how complicated everything is. “When they’re both together they bring out each other’s wilder side.” Shelley also thinks Rowan is deliberately avoiding her and Barry and I because “we bring her up against herself.”

Everyone went to bed late and I read McTeague for an hour before sleeping too. I woke up today at eleven. I’d been in bed, although not actually asleep, for nearly twenty-one hours.

I went down to the mini-market after dinner. Barry and Carl Cotton were both down there, and as I flicked through records at an adjacent stall I could see Carl tackling passers-by, until he finally got embroiled in an argument with a Trade Unionist who, as he leafed through a Next Step, denounced the RCP as “middle class . . . I’m working class and I wouldn’t wade my way through this shit.”

Carl saw me and asked if I was going to the Preparing for Power conference in July. I said I didn’t know. He couldn’t resist a jab at my ‘undeveloped’ political consciousness: “You could bring a few cans,” said he, smiling sarcastically until I bought a book on the Irish War. Perhaps he’s right, but I don’t like the supercilious way he condemns my (supposedly) mindless bourgeois student-hood.

I’ve done fuck all for most of the day, marooned here in Wollstonecraft in frustrated apathy. I’m starting to panic at the lack of time I have left to do my two essays. One of them is supposed to be a block-busting long one too! I’m facing another sleepless night striving desperately to stay awake and work. I have to finish McTeague as well. But how?

Rowan’s voice pierces the muffled hubbub as she endlessly monologues to “KitKat.” I hear the name Neil mentioned. Is he Mr. X? What do I care? I’ve also heard her quoting some poem, her voice dwelling almost obsessively on each syllable: “Fair maiden, white and red, comb me smooth and stroke my head.”

Monday, May 23, 1983

Hope


I did stay up all night last night, eventually falling asleep at five this morning. Guy woke me up half-an-hour later. I felt quite wretched—cold, weary and dull-brained—but set off with Barry, Guy, Kamran and Pete to the station at six to head for Hove to try to get some Cup Final tickets. There were obviously quite a few other football fans with the same idea boarding the train in Watermouth.

We got there at eight and walked down to the ground to find a huge queue of blue and white bedecked people stretching back round the corner and up as far as the eye could see. My heart fell. The vast snake of people stretched up the road and turned right, round another corner and, to our relief, ended there. More people were adding themselves to the end of the queue all the time and every few minutes the river of heads would shuffle forward a few yards; by the time we’d rounded the last corner and had the ticket office actually in sight we’d been queuing nearly four hours and it was one o’clock.

We kept hearing rumours that there were only a few tickets were left: some said 4,000 were available in total, others 8,000, some even put it at 22,000. I started to doubt whether we had any chance at all. People who had just bought tickets wandered back along the queue looking satisfied. One bloke wearing a blue and white cap was trying to sell a ticket for £25 and two kids tried to flog their tickets for a tenner, and Pete and I were sorely tempted, but I was angry at the opportunist bastards who were trying to rip people off: as soon as it was obvious we were going to get tickets however, we too began speculating how much we could get for our extras. Hypocrites!

Soon it was our turn to go down the steps to the ticket office windows and we bought two each (five extra), at £4.00 a ticket. In high spirits now we drooled over the pale brown pieces of paper and set off into Brighton to make half-hearted attempts to flog them in pubs and even a betting shop, before getting the train back to Watermouth.

I'd missed my two o'clock seminar; I was shattered, and gladly climbed into bed and was woken up at five by Pete: he’d found someone who wanted to buy two tickets, but had given Kamran his extra one and now couldn’t find him and so wanted me to donate my two. I was worried in case Kamran sold Pete’s extra ticket for him and I was left without one, but apparently Pete has sorted it out and he flogged the pair for £24 after the mustached victim of our exploitation had turned down the first quote of £30. We’re pooling the money from the tickets and sharing it between five of us. We’ve got £34 so far.

I went back to bed and woke up again at eleven when Barry and Shelley came into my room. Shelley had stolen a bagful of food—bread, bacon, cheese, orange-juice, tuna, eggs, tomato sauce, etc. This term there have been massive food thefts from the residence hall kitchens all across campus; anarchy rules, with gangs of people raiding each other’s kitchens. Cheese is a big favourite, and one time last term Rowan and Shelley came back from a strike on Rousseau Hall with three carrier bagfuls, including wine.

Barry rang Patrick yesterday and found out that Phil’s girlfriend Fiona is now in an asylum. When Phil went to see her she was acting quite nice but a bit like a 10-year old, and then suddenly attacked him and bit him on the wrist. As Shelley said, she always seemed so well-balanced and ‘sorted out.’ “If she can end up in an asylum, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

Sunday, May 22, 1983

Dispassion


Stu and I were up early this morning. Maggie had left us bacon, eggs and bread and this I cooked while Stu dozed. We left a note thanking Maggie for her hospitality and, after fumbling with the front door for 10 minutes, managed to get out and on our way.

Edgware Road was bathed in early morning sunshine, the air fresh and untarnished. A group of Manchester United fans stood outside a nearby police station, perhaps waiting for one of their number to be released. Stu and I parted company and he heading home, while I set off back to Waterloo which I reached after a cock-up on the underground that sent me to Willesden Junction and wasted an hour. I rolled into Watermouth at eleven after a good journey down in fine weather.

My ears still rang from last night’s assault, and fragments of tunes and rhythms kept swimming into my head. No one was up except Susie. . . .

Gareth came back in the afternoon with two Bowie tickets for Paris on June 9th (one for him and one for Stu). I smoked a few joints with him and Barry. Gareth nearly blacked out in Graeme’s room, and he said his vision was swallowed up by a growing blot of grey nothingness and he all but fell over when he came back into my room. He looked totally colourless and white and went to lie down.

The day has rushed by since then. I talked with Katie—I find her interesting— and she says the fact I've left my room undecorated this term (except for a black plastic shrunken Jivaro head and a couple of pictures, one of Emsley Cemetery and the other a poster advertising Gustav Metzger), “shows your ability to look at things dispassionately.” Rowan’s room by contrast is stuffed full of things and couldn’t be anyone but hers: It’s a world all its own. And I’m sure this says as much about her and her need to do this as my bare-walled retreat says about me. After this I went out for a quick drink.

I'm writing this in the small hours of Monday morning and I’m going to stay up all night because a few of us are going to take the train to Brighton at about six a.m. to queue for Cup Final Replay tickets. Guy rolled back about midnight with suitcase and smile, saying the weekend has been one of the best he can ever remember.

I can hear Barry eagerly banging at his typewriter. He’s just written a short review of an Irish Freedom Movement video for Union Views and he’s very enthusiastic about it. Lindsey is away still and it seems as if I haven’t seen or spoken to her for a long time. She’s almost completely disappeared from my life now, even though I still get a vague sense of dissatisfaction when I see Roy around Wollstonecraft, although it’s nothing compared to how badly I felt a few weeks ago. I’m not too sure how my money situation stands exactly – I can’t have much left at all.

I’ve started reading the first half-dozen pages of McTeague. McTeague’s lethargic bulk and slightly degenerate life-style reminds me of Verloc. I can also hear Rowan and Katie having a loud personal conversation in R’s room (. . .“when you’re in bed having sex . . .”). I can see what Shelley and Penny have against living with those two, especially after the fateful acid-experience; “I’d end up having a nervous breakdown” says S. with a grin. Our own hassles over Russ have eased for the moment: he’s gone home and, before he did, told Guy he doesn’t want to live with Barry and I because we’re “lazy bastards.” Good one, Russ! Erik Satie now drifts gently from Barry’s room. . . .

Saturday, May 21, 1983

Smith must score


The highpoint of the week: I had a really good day, watching the Cup Final on TV and then I went up to London to see The Fall in the evening.

Cup Final excitement has been growing for weeks now and Guy’s smile has been growing broader by the day because he’d managed to get tickets. So on Friday he headed up to Wembley. Barry and I were in the Rousseau television room from eleven onwards, watching all the pre-match build up — interviews with the players, goal of the season competitions, etc. We lapped it up. As the hours wore on people began to descend on the TV room and by the time K.O. approached Biko’s had opened and it was packed out.

Because they’re big underdogs, everyone (except Barry) was rooting for Brighton. We were alive with anticipation as ‘Abide With Me’ was sung and the National Anthem played and the teams came to a roar from the packed terraces. I was firmly on the side of Brighton even though they’re Southern. I don’t like Man. Utd — they’re too rich and buy their way to success. But Man. U. applied all the early pressure and pegged Brighton back into their own half until, impossibly, there was a cross sailing into the net off the head of a Brighton player and the room exploded, everyone on their feet bellowing and cheering. After this, Brighton streamed forward, launching themselves at the Man U. goal and Bailey tipped a shot over as the room groaned. It was exciting end-to-end stuff, goalmouth scrambles galore, the entire Brighton team in their own box flailing at and falling over the ball. HT 1-0.

After half-time United had a Norman Whiteside goal disallowed for hand-ball and nine minutes into the second-half, Whiteside cut down Brighton’s full-back and the match turned. A minute later Frank Stapleton scored and Brighton fell apart; Wilkins scored again quarter of an hour later with a brilliant goal, curled into the net past the ‘keeper’s right arm – 2-1. Brighton began to look tired and hopeless and we thought they were sunk.

Ten minutes to go, then five, and then with just three minutes left, Brighton scored again. We couldn’t believe it: there was near universal acclaim from the packed room, just Barry swearing and defiant at the front as we jeered him. So, extra time in yet another Final.

Another Whiteside goal was disallowed for hand ball and both sides now looked very tired. Ten seconds of extra time left and suddenly the Blues were breaking toward the Manchester end . . . people on the edges of their seats, screaming for a goal, urging them on . . . a square pass in front of the Manchester goal . . . he had to score, surely! . . . but he shot it wearily straight at the sprawling goal-keeper. We sank back into our seats in disbelief and it was Barry’s turn to be jubilant. Ron Atkinson said today in the ‘papers that he’d “died a thousand deaths” as that final shot was teed up. If only!

Intense discussions of the match afterwards and we all felt fairly drunk.


Stu, Pete and I set off for London at six o’clock and arrived in Waterloo about half-past seven. London was alive with blue and white as Brighton fans made their quiet way home and I wondered whether they were happy or sad. There were more Seagulls supporters outside Waterloo and sat outside drinking at a pub’ opposite. We paused for a Big Mac and Pete insisted we go see his old school.

We arrived in Camden at half-eight. There was already a long queue of people outside the dilapidated poster-spattered Electric Ballroom, lots of them the expected spike-hairs but also fairly average looking Grant-types in shapeless clothing and grease-lank hair, even a dark figure wandering among the crowd in a beret, goatee, and red carnation in his button hole.

We had to hang about waiting for Mo but Stu and I left Pete outside and went in. It was crowded inside, a plush carpeted entrance-hall, then steps and a room opening out into a dim-lit bar with a low ceiling that was seething with people. To the left was a bigger, darker room separated from the first by pillars. This latter was, I presume, the old Ballroom. It looked like a converted cinema, its stark dark walls crossed by bare wires, the stage itself piled high and black with amps, enormous speakers, drums and mike stands, etc.

The Smiths came on and launched into their set: they were a four-piece (drums, bass, guitar and vocals), the singer’s lilting voice full of implied emotion and tragedy. He reminded me of Mark Almond. Most of their numbers sounded fairly similar, but there were a few notable exceptions, their last in particular a drum-driven surge about “lies” or something or other.

Pete and Mo turned up after The Smiths had begun, and when their set was done we worked our way to the front and into the middle, near the stage. The club was packed and we had a long wait for The Fall to appear. I watched their equipment being set up and I could feel the anticipation welling inside.


At last out came the band and, dramatically, to a cheer and applause, Mark E. Smith himself wandering out in a thin pale brown windcheater, lifeless blue V-neck jumper and black shapeless trousers. He looked thinner and more wizened, creased and pallid than I remembered from Easterby, and he had a cold and unforgiving expression on his face. I didn’t see him smile once. His hair was flicked to one side and flat with grease, tangled in lank strands about his collar.

The band started up, a big machine ploughing through a few things I’ve never heard before and don’t know the names of, but also, to my satisfaction, “Look, Know,” “The Classical” and “Hard Life in the Country” and also a few tracks I remembered from John Peel’s session in April – “Garden,” “Eat Yourself Fitter” and “Hexen School.” The two synchronised drummers, Paul Hanley and Karl Burns, simultaneously slashed out riffs which cracked and drove on, Karl Burns acting as second guitar. I could see P. Hanley smiling at times as he worked away at the drums, smashing both sticks down and down in clattering arcs.

MES stood quietly at the front, one hand thrust into a trouser pocket, occasionally wandering over to tentatively key odd notes on an electric piano with one hand. He was undemonstrative save for that pallor, that starved look to his skin and frame, and his movements radiated a humourless contempt. When we cheered to greet the beginning of a familiar song he laugh-grimaced in parody in a snarl of derision.

The audience down at the front went mad at each new song, pogo-ing frantically around, flailing and throwing themselves high into the air, their faces wet with sweat, rising and gaping like demented fish caught in the brightly coloured lights. Sometimes their reckless jostling sent the rest of us careening off one another, the whole mass of us swaying like reeds so that we had to constantly fight for footing. At the back the dark heads were stiller and I wished I was able to concentrate more fully on the music instead of being constantly preoccupied by the violent rippling of the crowd.

My focus on the music was interrupted when someone on the PA asked for me by name to go up to the disco unit. A shadow of presentiment stole across my mind and I reached for my coat, realising with resignation that my wallet was gone; for several moments The Fall vanished from my mind. Mo found my wallet empty and picked up a few dog-eared pieces of paper, one of which was my NUS /ISIC card. At the end of the encore I heard my name being announced again and so I went up to the bar to discover that my railcard and Cashpoint card had been handed in. I hadn’t lost much and we wandered around the litter-strewn dance-floor rescuing forlorn fragments of paper, most of which were mine.

I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and The Fall’s status in my mind is now enhanced; their new stuff was pretty good, full of powerful and heavy percussion, but perhaps overstating the point a bit much. Perhaps they should now split so they don’t end up another ‘restatements around a theme’ band. The John Peel session stuff seemed on first hearing to simply be extended rehashes of the old format. Do they have anything new? I’ll have to wait and hear the new stuff on record.

We took the tube to Edgware Road station, found a Chinese open and carried the food to Mo’s sisters flat: two tiny rooms and a miniature kitchen in the upstairs of a large house. Mo’s sister Maggie was in bed when we got there: a virtually identical replica of Mo smiled up at us with short red hair instead of Mo’s blonde tangle. A small black and white portable TV flickered fuzzily from the sideboard. We ate our Chinese and talked before retiring to our makeshift beds in the backroom.

Friday, May 20, 1983

Shadow and sun stain


I finished a letter to Mum and Dad, sent off my grant forms, and then in the late afternoon went down the library to do a bit of work on my Whitman, Thoreau, Emerson and Dickinson essay. I'm doing reading to see what themes emerge. I’m thinking of pursuing a Romantic link to connect all four.

It’s been another good day and it was very pleasant wandering back from the library at seven in the warm air, with the birds beginning their twilight flurry of noise. The leaves are out now and the trees are heavy and green: they crowd down silent and mysterious from the hill-tops, and stretch away dreamily towards distant Gaunt’s Hill.

As I tramped back over the meadow behind Rousseau Hall I felt a little thrill at the thought of all the sights and moods that await exploration. The broad green roll of country beyond the Teacher Training College toward Knoyldon and the sea looked so enticing, tinged with shadow and stained by the sun, crossed by a single lonely road marching beyond the horizon. I thought of the Dales.

In the evening, after everyone had returned from the bar, we got embroiled in a shaving foam and toothpaste war: Shelley was covered from head to foot in white foam and the corridor was awash with the stuff; on doors, the walls, and all over Shelley’s and Stu’s rooms. A lightning flour attack by Alex only added to the chaos. Everyone got drenched, especially Stu who was water-bombed from the bridge outside.

Thursday, May 19, 1983

Liquid crystal environment


I was still tired when I got up this afternoon and I felt weighed down under the realisation of everything I have to do. So I wrote a letter to Claire and did little else instead, and at five thirty I went to the Millikin Arts Centre to see a presentation by Gustav Metzger, founder of Auto-Destructive Art.

His presentation was in a small circular room illuminated by a circular skylight in the middle of the ceiling. On a table at one side stood two sheets of glass, which were face-to-face but separated by a tiny gap of a few inches. Next to this were two glass sculptures, looking rather like bubbles on stems. Framed by the glass, Mr. Metzger himself stacked a pile of doughnut shaped pieces of paper which looked like giant polo-mints. He was small, balding and bearded and had a pleasant face.

At last, with twelve people assembled, he began his talk, and traced his artistic evolution from Art College in the mid-‘fifties right up through the present day. He formulated Auto-Destructive and Auto-Creative Art at the end of the 1950s, and published several manifestoes around that time.

At a big public demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art on the South Bank he sprayed sheets of nylon with acid, simultaneously creating colour patterns by destroying the nylon forms. He held up a photocopied picture of the remnants to show us: a few fluttering shreds of nylon were stuck to the frame. “It was totally destroyed” he said, with satisfaction. He spoke very quietly and in halting tones, and occasionally his voice trailed away almost into nothing and we had to strain to catch everything he said.


He claimed that the 1966 international symposium on Destructive Art was an event without precedent before or since. In the ‘60s he also organised one of the first public showings of coloured liquid crystals—these he rotated over a light source as they continually melted and recrystallised, displaying myriads of different colours as they did so.

He illustrated the idea of auto-destruction by using the panes of glass and the doughnut-shaped pieces of paper. As he blew between the panes of glass and dislodged the doughnuts from their initial pattern, sending some rolling across the table and onto the floor and settling others into new configurations, images were created and destroyed simultaneously. . . . He also dribbled paint down the sides of the glass.

Nowadays his interests lie with organizing international conferences, even though in the 'seventies he urged all artists to commit to a three-year boycott of the capitalist art establishment. He got a totally negative response to this idea, although he did go ahead and embark on his own personal boycott which he now sees—a smile here—as “foolish.” I got the impression he was a bit conceited, a "bit of a toe-rag" as Gavin put it later.

Rowan had very kindly offered to make me and Barry shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes and rhubarb crumble, so I had to leave mid-way through question time at the end, but my mind spun in predictable directions. Maybe Lee needs a seriously worked out manifesto for what he’s doing?

Later when I went to Westway Loop for one drink. Katie was again asking me questions which I answered as best I could: No, I find the bar dissatisfying. No, I’m not really that close to many people, etc., etc.

Wednesday, May 18, 1983

Inaction


A humid, sticky day and another day of inaction. Barry and I went down the library to do some work but we walked past it twice and couldn't bring ourselves to go in.

I went down to Westway Loop in the evening. Rowan told me that Katie thinks I'll never be married and that I’m a born loner, which she immediately corrected to “lonely." After this, Pete and I wandered over to Rousseau Hall to Gavin’s girlfriend’s room, which was packed out with people smoking by candle light. Pete bought some dope and we took it back to Wollstonecraft, to Tasha’s room upstairs.

I always feel slightly overawed by the prevailing self-confidence of Tasha and co. Her boyfriend Tim was there, as was tall, blond, witty John Cumberland of the Socialist Worker Student Organisation, along with Tasha’s friend Andrea, and Mo too. Double mattress on the floor, the room dark, walls cluttered with photos and postcards. It all seemed much more exciting than our pedestrian life downstairs, although we’re collectively known, in ironic honour of Pete, as the ‘Life in the Fast Lane Gang’.

As I sat there silent and listening I felt that this company was much more open to the things that interest me than our corridor - none of the  derisory put-downs towards art, and a much more adventurous spirit. Andrea has a round and honest face and a shock of wiry frizzled hair and reduced Tasha to hysterics as she held the stage with her tales, stories, jokes, and commentary.

Andrea told me that the Arts Centre runs courses on life drawing and pottery and that she's been down to the Art College and that they also run courses for non-students. “This place destroys any creativity,” she said. I inwardly promised myself I’d suss this out when Lee gets to Watermouth. If I leave before next November I could still get a grant, and over the past couple of days I've been fooling about with this idea more as a discussion point than in a  serious way. I think my fear of the adverse consequences (would I enjoy it more?), and also my natural aversion to any form of hassle will probably foreclose on any concrete pursuit of this idea.

Barry, Guy, Stu and Graeme showed up, joined later by Rowan; there was a distinct separation in the room between our lot and their lot. They were all in silent hysterics at Rowan’s comments and as soon as she'd left the room, they erupted into laughter and mimicry and right then I saw Rowan as everyone else sees her.

Several joints were passed round and we even played a game to relieve the heavy atmosphere that occasionally stole down on the room We left at four and I climbed gratefully into bed feeling absolutely dead beat.

Tuesday, May 17, 1983

Lost element


Two more envelopes awaited me today: in one a long letter from Grant, in the other my long awaited tickets for the Fall concert this coming weekend.

Grant’s letter was disjointed and depressed: “I’m pretty sure my parents are trying to undermine me psychologically. Booze, cigs, books, music, people—nothing gives me any real comfort anymore. I’ve suddenly realised how transient pleasure is. Previously I could get really lost in things and experience them with such intensity. That element now seems lost.”

He mentions a girl who keeps pinching his backside at college. “If I did the same to her (and it’s not as if I would) she would complain like hell.” The letter is littered with drawings, capitalised declarations and lines from songs and what I would’ve termed as ‘poetry’ if he hadn’t written “Sorry, can’t finish it and no, it’s not a poem . . . Perhaps all we seek in friends are extensions of ourselves, therefore in this pig-fucking fiasco called life we are as alone as we were before birth and as we will be after death. I don’t want to believe this—please tell me it’s not true. Yours, ever the cool hedonist, Grant.”

It’s difficult to know how to reply.

I collect records like so many lifeless lumps of wreckage; at the mini-market I bought three more albums and blew through another fiver. I’ve spent much of the day kicking myself.

It's Shelley’s birthday, so this evening most of us went down to Watermouth to celebrate at Masquerades, a club on the seafront. The girls wore their festive finery while I deliberately draped myself in black so I would blend in with the shadows. Masquerades the typical dark club interior and glowing bar with quite a few of the Uni. trendies about. A fairly enjoyable evening: we left at closing time and caught taxis back.

Monday, May 16, 1983

The social moment


I stayed in last night with the vague intention of working, but as it was, Gareth, Shawn and Stu and I got stoned in my room. I was pretty well gone when everyone else came back from the pub: in the kitchen later I couldn’t do a thing for laughing at our ridiculous conversations.

Later, I was driven nearly out of my mind by an unbearable nagging rheumatoid ache in the joint of my right arm. It came on in the early hours as I sat about with Stu and Barry. I didn’t know what to do with myself, nor what to do about my 2.30 pm seminar as I’d had perhaps half-an-hour’s sleep all night and would’ve liked nothing better than to climb back into bed.

I went to the seminar anyway, figuring the consequences of missing would be worse than a potentially embarrassing appearance, so at eight-thirty, after giving up on real sleep, I got dressed and grabbed a few fitful snatches of unconsciousness on my bed. Gareth came round at ten to say goodbye as he was off home & Graeme dropped round with his notes after his seminar finished.

I had a couple of hours to read them through before setting off. Just before I did so the clouds grew dark and thunder shuddered across the sky and the rain came down in a great torrent, hurling itself at the ground. Lightning blinked an intense white before the clouds lifted and it got brighter. I walked to my seminar with Susie.


I didn’t say much. I made one comment about Marcus Garvey, suggesting his muddled and ill-defined economic and political theory wasn’t as important as the inspirational quality of his Black Nationalist ideas: big thoughts for someone who hadn’t even done the reading! The (white) tutor said that this was an idealistic view and that black pride could only go so far. There was a derisive snort from the black bloke opposite me.

Immediately after the seminar ended I went to see Miriam about my essays. She was in quite a cheery mood and I told her I was interested in the idea of Whitman’s Yea-saying intensity of experience, Blake’s visionary, child-like innocence and “cleaning of the doors of perception” to achieve a daily intensity, Dickinson’s isolation and Thoreau’s flirtation with solitary Poetic existence.

She said she wanted to guide me towards the “social moment” and the historical and social forces that operated in these writers’ societies and how that affected their particular vision. “Could these writers earn a living writing in their society? What other means of earning a living did Emerson, Thoreau and the other writers you’ve mentioned have?” She prodded me towards a more social and politically-related perspective and said she would give me a reading list to help with my research. I left her office enthusiastically promising her two essays for a week on Thursday, saying that one of them would be “quite long.”

I got another parcel this morning that contained a book on the US that Dad picked up for 5p at a library sale. He also enclosed a copy of the Yorkshire Post sports supplement and an amusing fifteen-side letter, full mainly of football and amphibian-related affairs.

Nothing much doing this evening. Rowan got back after spending the weekend at home and I went out to Westway Loop with the usual gang. I had one drink and we returned to mess about and smoke a bit of dope.

Sunday, May 15, 1983

Not any more


I reread my journal entries from over Easter this afternoon. There's something definitely missing from these lifeless jottings at the moment. Perhaps it’s the tranquility I find at home, but here circumstances force themselves upon me, and I’m rarely in my room for any stretch of time.

Another day of summery sun and cloudless empty skies. My window faces northwards and is permanently shaded, so I look out from my gloomy hole at the bright-lit red walls opposite.

Katie was in my room earlier and she seemed interested in my books. “You really love Kerouac,” said she, spying the profusion of his books on my shelves. “Not any more . . . about 18 months ago I was really into him . . .” I like her; she’s interesting and different even though sometimes I find myself inwardly berating her for her foolishness.

A rumour that the police had arrived this afternoon caused a bit of a flap. Most of the illicit fags have been smuggled out of Wollstonecraft Hall: Katie is hiding Barry’s inside a cornflakes packet downstairs in her room; Kamran’s are over in Rousseau; Shelley has taken hers with her to the library where she intends staying all day.

I rang home and Dad told me about yesterday’s match. It was odd talking to him here in this madhouse.

Saturday, May 14, 1983

Half a dog can’t piss


I spent most of the day in Watermouth with Guy, Barry and Russ. We set out in bright sunshine at about two-thirty. It was a perfect day and I wished I was setting off somewhere remote and ancient instead of plunging into the dusty turmoil of a Watermouth Saturday afternoon.

We stopped at the Second Edition bookshop where Barry tried to offload some Next Steps and Irish Freedom Movement books. I bought a copy of McTeague, and then it was off in search of a new football to replace Barry’s which had fatefully deflated on the day of the 7-a-side match. We paid £5.50 for quite a good ball, which we immediately set about drooling over, fondling and declaring how “excellent” it was.

The streets of Watermouth were seething with shoppers. Living as we do tucked away in the hills we lose touch with the reality of most peoples’ everyday existences and so it’s quite a novel experience just to walk down the pavement looking at everyone.

In Astlow Street we paused at the Common Good, Watermouth’s only alternative bookstore where I bought two records for £1.00 each, Brotzmann and Bennink’s Half a Dog Can’t Piss, and Bobby Wellins Live at Watermouth Jazz Club.

We emerged from the shady side streets into the full glare of the sea front. The sea was calm and blue, the horizon hazy, dotted here and there with the shrouded silhouettes of ships, isolated yachts and the occasional wind-surfer. Every so often the beach would echo with the chatter of a helicopter. On the prom, the families were out in force, children screaming and laughing, rushing to and fro, playing on slides or with remote control racing cars, or bouncing in the huge red and yellow inflatable castles standing at either side of the pier.


We sat on the curb edge watching it all pass, still gloating over our new football. It was quite an idyllic afternoon, everyone taking it easy. Russ was again in irritating boring assertive form, even towards us. Thankfully we got rid of him as he went off in search of cut-price fags, so we sat in deckchairs gazing out to sea: a couple was entwined on the pebbles below us, oblivious to all around them . . . I was surprised at the lateness of the hour, half past five already, but the glare of the sun was still intense and I started to get a headache.

So we wandered back up towards the train station, buying a Herald and a Chinese take-away which we ate sitting in a bus shelter. Athletic drew their last match of the season 2-2.

We decided to stay in town for the evening and I hit the cash point and we whiled away the next four or so hours away in various pubs; The Quayside, The Admiral, The Wagon and Horses, and the Crown and Flute. We rounded the evening off in fine style with a kebab each.

We got ‘home’ at eleven-thirty to find that most people had spent the evening fairly typically in Westway Loop or down the Cellar. I sat in my room with Gareth and a few others as Kamran, Shelley, Russ, Shawn and Guy burnt their way into the fag machine. They eventually ripped off £130 of cigarettes – Kamran whooped with delight as they piled the packets on Shelley’s bed. Gareth dismissed the whole affair as “pathetic” and I too washed my hands of it, for this time, I’m sure, there’ll be hassles galore from security, the Porter etc… I hid my acid inside a record sleeve as there might be searches of the rooms this time.

Later on, Roy and Lindsey came into my room and sat near the door. I may be wrong but I’m sure that Roy is attempting to be more friendly towards me. As he and Lin. bid everyone “goodnight” he had his eyes fixed directly on mine. I couldn’t care less now anyway; I’ve bludgeoned former feelings into submission in the face of inescapable Truth (or is it just the natural ebbing away of affection?)

Friday, May 13, 1983

Stagnant hazy white


The day started out fairly warm and sunny, but as the afternoon wore on the sky turned a stagnant hazy white.

Barry got a recorded delivery letter from Patrick containing four tabs of acid and more news of Phil, who suffered a proper breakdown last Monday. He gouged his wrists and claimed that when he went to see his girlfriend Fiona she bit him and tried to kill him. He was in tears and said he'd “tried so hard.” Patrick described him as being really hopeless: he’s now back in Debdenshaw working in a McDonald’s.

I got Mum and Dad’s cheque for £90 this morning too along with a wad of grant forms to fill in. I worked out how much I spent last week—a horrifying £91, £30 on Saturday alone. I bought another tab of acid from Barry: he, Pete, and I may take some over the weekend.

I've done no work. Rowan, Barry, Russ and I went out to the Town and Gown for a drink in the evening. Russ was in an objectionable mood, airing his ‘masculine’ antagonisms and being thoroughly unbearable. There’s no way I’m going to live with him next year.

Rowan told me I shouldn’t put up an amiable front to people like Russ who are so totally uncompromising. Penny continues with her moping depressions and was in tears again tonight. Immediately after people have talked long and hard to her she says she's “going to be positive,” but she soon falls back into despair and lack of confidence.

Thursday, May 12, 1983

Write things down


I finished Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and set off for Miriam's tutorial with all my reading complete for a change.

She criticised us for our unambitious essays and told us to hand in two more for a week next Thursday. I'm planning a long essay linking Whitman, Dickinson and Thoreau. We have personal interviews with her about forthcoming essays on Monday. She also raised the alarming prospect of examinations: “If you don’t write things down you’re sunk . . .” I felt fear. I have so much work to catch up on and so much to set straight in my mind that it’s frightening.

I didn’t vote either in the Union elections nor last week’s local government elections, partly because of apathy, partly because of the question of ‘so what?’ My vote wouldn’t change a thing. If there was a spirit of mass mobilisation and mass participation here then I tell myself it would be different but as it is there’s almost universal indifference on campus. Most of the union activists seem to me to be typical middle-class liberals playing out their stereotypes of student radicalism. Once out of here they’ll probably fall into a nice Labour-voting niche.

Such cynicism! Truth is, I shy away from the consequences of my ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude.

It's been another pretty mundane day. Barry has been down in Watermouth for much of the afternoon doing something with the RCP. They've given him about a hundred quids-worth of magazines, pamphlets and Next Steps to get rid of so he’s setting up a stall at the Tuesday mini-market.

The NME said there were 40,000 at least at the CND festival at the weekend and that lower police figures had been deliberately chosen by Fleet Street.

Wednesday, May 11, 1983

Forces of oppression


We played football in the 7-a-side contest, a forty-minute mud-bath in torrential rain that we lost 3-4 after being 2-0 up inside eight minutes. I didn’t play but stood solemnly on the side-line getting soaked. Everyone was really sickened off by the defeat, especially Guy and Barry who sat in the dressing room silently staring into space after the game. It’s surprising how seriously everyone is taking this competition and it’s dominated conversation for days.

After the match, Guy, Barry, and I went up to the Rousseau common room to watch the Cup Winner’s Cup Final between Aberdeen and Real Madrid on the colour TV. Real looked pretty flash in the first half but after the break and into extra-time Aberdeen were the better side and scored the winner eight minutes from the end of extra time. A great cheer went up from the crowded room as the ball sailed into the Real net.

We went up to Biko’s for a drink afterwards and ran into Lindsey and Roy, the former laughy & red-faced. I sat for a while with Barry, Guy and co., my back to the loving couple, but I couldn’t keep ‘em off my mind so, pleading poverty, I went back to Wollstonecraft, feeling slightly scorched inside. I’ve forced myself to crush this thing about Lindsey. It’s utterly pointless.

I sit now writing this with most people out, either at bars on campus or in Watermouth. Gareth is with Stu in his room. I feel that at last I can pick up the threads of my work once more. Today I read Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage which I really enjoyed, perhaps more than most of any of the books we have read so far.

I’m now nearly £30 overdrawn and it’s going to be a struggle ending the term on an even keel. My next installment of cash from Mum and Dad should come in about a week’s time. My poor financial state is purely a result of my own drunken stupidity, and as I reckoned it all up I cursed my mindlessness. I’ve gone easy on the booze since I got back from London as I’m afraid my liver may pack up in protest if I continue downing whisky in the same amounts as at the weekend.

The Pop Group rages in muddy anger against the silence of Wollstonecraft. I have another Stephen Crane story to read tomorrow. I borrowed a tape player and listened to the Kerouac tape I bought in London, JK's deep mellow rounded Carl Sagan-esque tones spoken above a tinkling blues piano . . . It isn’t very good and has finally killed dead any lasting tendencies I might have in that direction.

Barry’s friend Doug has been “beaten up by fascists,” and his friend Phil has yet to return to Watermouth, after having been found last term by friends over at the College in a bad way, one time sitting with his legs dangling over a window-ledge, another time messing about with a revolver. He always did seem like an intense sort of bloke, but I really liked him and I’m sorry to hear about him.

Tuesday, May 10, 1983

A-team, B-team


We played our first games in the University’s football five-a-side knock-out competition Our A-team lost 5-1, while the B-team (I played in goals) lost 7-0. We were 2 goals down within a minute.

Rowan has at long last finally made arrangements to go ‘see someone’. She and I walked up to the Health Center and she made an appointment to see Dr. Briars, who''s supposedly a top Harley Street psychiatrist. The appointment's on Friday: “The thirteenth,” she pointed out with a smile.

Her personal life is as complicated and lurid as ever. She and Katie have devised a little money-making scheme: because Katie owes Rowan money, Katie is sleeping with a girl named Mary over in Rousseau in exchange for cash and dope. Says Rowan, “They both seem to find it funny, but I don’t think it is. Still, some people won’t take advice, will they?”

At the moment she’s seeing Richard, a relationship she says has been progressing for “weeks and weeks.” Richard is gay, and has a thing going on the side with John. Richard tells Rowan she should regard John as his “wife,” with Rowan in the mistress position. Rowan is jealous.

Meanwhile she’s also thinking of getting involved with someone else also named John and who knows Richard. Rowan really fancies this other John, and John 2 can give her things that Richard can’t, (because he's gay), and Richard doesn’t give a fuck who she sees apparently.

Added to all of this is a mysterious Mr. X with whom Rowan's developing a fledgling relationship. Meanwhile John 2 suffers from emotional “instability,” Richard is “demanding,” Mr. X refuses to accept Rowan’s multifarious relationships, and Rowan herself has all her usual hang-ups. And she comes to me for advice?

“Morals do not come into it” she says. “I need lots of different things, and if no one person can give me all those things rolled into one then I’ll get them from lots of different men.” What could I say? She has such a knack for always making things as complicated as possible.

“At least it’s not boring; I’m quite enjoying it . . .”

Monday, May 9, 1983

Missing


Even though I felt much better I still missed today’s Black Americans seminar.

I went down to the library in the evening and on my way had my first dread encounter with Lindsey and Roy as they emerged from Wollstonecraft Hall. I didn’t feel half as bad as I’d expected and now I think I can say I feel very little. I have just had to come to terms with it.

Sunday, May 8, 1983

Bright puddles


I woke up in a bad way. Someone had thoughtfully put a bowl beside the sofa and I proceeded to puke into this.

At some point in the morning, Tony’s flatmates arrived back from America and there were angry words and commotion as they discovered Pete and Mo asleep in their bed. Sandra, one of the flat-mates, stalked into the living room where I lay in a sickly sweat surrounded by heaps of bottles: she gave me a stony glare and stalked out again. Vicious words were aimed at Tony, who was berated for being lazy, for never buying coffee or hoovering the carpets.

Meanwhile I puked continuously; I couldn’t hold anything down, not even water, and eventually I was reduced to convulsive gagging motions and felt even worse. My head swam and I felt like dying.

Pete left to take Mo home while I was retching into the sink upstairs: it was just me and Tony, a weary and sickly conversation, interrupted by my throwing up. When Pete came back I decided I’d best make a move even though I just wanted to lie down in one place and suffer.

I bid goodbye to Pete and Tony who were headed to the launderette to wash the sheets. Outside the rain tumbled down and there was even a rumble of thunder, but by the time I set out a thin drizzle pittered into bright puddles in the gutters. Railton Road was a picture of Sunday desolation, dingy shops and harsh façades of grey iron fencing and rubble where houses once stood. The alleyways and passage ways were deserted.

I didn’t feel too bad until I reached the tube, but once I was being shaken and heaved in the bright electric smoke filled carriages I felt worse and worse. I tried to make myself sick in Waterloo railway station but nothing would come so I sat there feeling dejected and miserable, trying to interest myself in a News of the World. I didn’t have long to wait, and when the Watermouth train rolled in I made sure that I was sat near a toilet. I puked up once on the way back but felt much better after that and gradually improved from thereon.

I couldn’t do much but lie grey-ly on my bed when I got back and I was actually in bed when Rowan came in and broke the news about a Saturday soiree with Lindsey: “She likes you a lot but not in that way.” I lay brooding for a while but eventually roused myself sufficiently to go out for a drink and be cheerful.

Saturday, May 7, 1983

Blur


Pete and I set off for London before twelve. He’d bought a half-bottle of whisky in Watermouth as we waited for the train to Waterloo and we supped this in first class on the way up. From then on the rest of the day is condensed into a drunken sunlit blur of sound and colour.

We met Mo in Brixton tube station and joined the huge river of CND Rock the Bomb festival-bound punks and punkettes, stopping off at a house off Railton Road to call on Pete’s friend Tony. He was out, and by this time I’d bought another ½ bottle of whisky. I said goodbye to Pete and Mo and set off on my own for Camden.

I went totally mad in record shops and got overdrawn as a result: I bought three albums in Honest Jon’s (now Rhythm Records) including a double LP of Coltrane and I got talking to a middle-aged jazz fan there who said he’d seen Coltrane in London in 1961. After this I staggered across the road to Compendium Books and, like the idiot I'd become, bought a cassette tape of Kerouac reading October in the Railroad Earth and Mexico City Blues, even though I don’t own a tape player.

I was very drunk now, and mechanically lurched towards the tube station, pausing only to buy yet another ½ bottle. I was back in Brixton and I could hear the loud din of music coming from the  festival over in the park. I had vague designs on searching out Pete and co. but the park was full of people—20,000 the newspapers said later—and all I could drunkenly perceive as I scanned the crowd were countless sunlit faces.

I caught the tail end of Madness’s set, Suggs wearing a CND T-shirt under a white baggy suit, but mainly I stumbled aimlessly around among the jigging people, sliding in the mud and swigging occasionally from my bottle. As I wandered up through the park I got talking to several people; I met Gavin and his friend Crater Face plus a fat hippy girl from downstairs; I also exchanged sundries with two punkettes and a laconic bloke who propped up the side of a tent. I invited Gavin and co. and the punkettes back to Blake Road.

Meanwhile, black lines of police massed on the horizon, silhouetted starkly against the setting sun. They began to gradually move down through the park towards us. How I ended up back at Tony’s I’ll never know. I was greeted by Pete and Tony who both seemed amused at my condition, and after this I remember little, other than lying partly asleep on the sofa in a drunken reverie, dimly aware that Gavin and friends had turned up—apparently sixteen punks I’d invited showed up too and tried unsuccessfully to gain admittance.

Joints were passed around and I partook and the last thing I remembered was Pete and Tony pulling off my shoes and socks and laying me down on the sofa.

Friday, May 6, 1983

"You'll look funny when you're fifty"


It’s been a lazy day today, with much lying about in the sun. I lost my wallet during last night’s excesses and was getting ready to deal with all the complicated hassles when I rung up BR and, to my joy, discovered that it’d been handed in.

I had to go into Watermouth this afternoon to pick it up.

Tonight we all went down to the Cellar for the weekly ‘alternative’ disco but Gareth, Graeme and I left pretty quickly and went to the Phoenix to see Nicholas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth (which I’ve seen before), and Performance with Mick Jagger as a mysterious feminine-faced hippy who lives in a cluttered basement with two girls and whose new lodger turns out to be an East End gangland boss on the run. I fell asleep halfway through.

Thursday, May 5, 1983

Tête-à-tête


Susie and Gareth spent all night deep in conversation: after this, she asked him out for a drink and pushed a note under his door telling him just exactly how she felt. He blushed bright red, refused her offer, and fled to a mate’s up in Whincliffe, leaving her feeling totally miserable. She's been wandering about in silent blank-faced martyrdom, “stricken” as she puts it. Shelley gave her a ‘talking to’ and now she seems OK.

After staying up all night, Shelley, Penny, Katie and I went into Watermouth. Everyone seemed very affected by the hot sunny weather. I bought a record and a new stylus and met back up with them in Attlee Square: they were sitting on a bench laden down with booze and food. I bought a ½ bottle of whisky from Tesco and we retired to The Frigate for opening time and quickly got drunk.

We left for the train while it was still light out. As we sped out of Watermouth we broke open our bottles, and as we couldn’t be bothered getting off the train at the University, we ended up in Langridge. We got caught by a guard on the way back to the Uni and had to pay excess fare.

I can’t remember much of what I did once we got back to campus: I was really really drunk and blundered vacantly homeward across grass and through trees. I remember falling over in the kitchen and ending up in Rowan’s room. She was lying in her bed in almost total darkness.

We had a bleary tête-à-tête about Lindsey and also about Rowan’s night on acid and held hands and wrapped our arms tight around one another. Barry interrupted us by coming in and calling Roy “a wanker.” They started talking about Roy and Lindsey being lovers—I couldn’t take anymore and I had to leave.

Wednesday, May 4, 1983

Not tragedy


I was woken up early by the porter Doris: I’d lost my bank card the other day without even realising it and someone had handed it in.

And all of this comes on top of my continued agonies over Lindsey. These aren’t so bad now but I hardly see her at all now, perhaps three or four instances since Sunday. We're avoiding each other to avoid any embarrassment. I saw her this morning to borrow a teabag and she didn’t look at me.

I had a talk with Rowan the other day. She says what's happened to me “is not a tragedy” and isn’t worth getting upset about. Susie had a long talk with me, trying to set everything straight, and said that she’s told Lindsey about what had happened. Lindsey had no idea how badly I’ve felt about her and doesn’t want me to be upset. Apparently she didn’t want to go to Biko’s with Roy on Sunday because she “does have some concern for your feelings.”

It’s now late afternoon. Shelley is asleep on my bed. I’ve just tried to read Henry James with heavy mind and half a heart. I’ll never do it. I feel guilty that Mum and Dad are forsaking pleasures to keep me here and that I don’t use my time profitably.

Rowan has been in Shelley’s room all day, in a very bad way, and desperately sorry for what she did. Shelley says she's scared to face anyone here. She wants to talk to Barry and I about why she did it. She also told Shelley that she will go see someone about her problems. She's obviously haunted.

Barry has gone down to the library for the afternoon. He came back from London on Monday evening feeling very pissed off because he lost his wallet. The corridor is deathly quiet.

10.20 p.m.: I’ve taken methedrine so I can work all night but so far it isn’t having the great effects Barry seems to be experiencing; slight exhiliration in my body but my eyes are still heavy. Nothing else. I came back from the library, had a quick drink, and Lindsey and Susie came and sat in my room: Susie soon disappeared to tell Gareth about the new flat she and Lindsey have rented. I desperately wanted to talk to Lindsey but just as I’d plucked up enough courage to speak Shelley and then Graeme came in. Even though I willed them to go away they just wouldn’t. I was bursting to say something.

11.05 p.m.: This methedrine is actually quite good. It’s subtle and less ‘crude’ and punchy than speed, a much “smoother ride,’ although on reflection this lack of punch makes it less effective and less memorable than amphetamines.

Tuesday, May 3, 1983

Sumer is icumen in


Rowan and Katie cracked up again tonight, sending Shelley fleeing in tears from their room. The bottle smashing, the screams and swearing, the curses, the tearing of paper and general dark lunacy went on until four-thirty or five in the morning. The curses were aimed at the whole of the corridor but Barry especially, probably because he'd thrown a book on witchcraft in Rowan’s direction earlier, saying “read this” as he did so.

The acid Rowan’d taken seemed merely to be a catalyst for much deeper and more destructive urges. We listened at the door or hung about at a loss in my room or in Stu’s: Shelley looked grave and worried. There was much jocular but anxious talk. What I heard at the door made me really wonder about what it was that had actually happened to Rowan to so fuck her up. She kept cursing someone and calling him a “fucking wanker,” and as she did so I heard paper and cardboard being ripped up.

I wondered what it all meant, and Shelley told me that Rowan was involved in some sort of cult when she was 8 and that this has screwed up her whole life and (it goes without saying) warped her conception of everything.

Penny came into my room nearly crying because she didn’t know what to do. I feel very sorry now for all the hasty things I’ve said about Rowan and for all the ribaldries and tall tales I’ve joined in with and encouraged. She needs help, not criticism.

Monday, May 2, 1983

Bare bones


Last night I was glad to get away to go see If . . .  for the second time, with Gareth, Stu and Pete. It was as good as I remembered, although Gareth found it “tedious.” Malcolm McDowell is brilliant.

After the film we went to a nearby pub’ and then Stu, Pete and I went for a Chinese. When we got back to the pub Gareth was talking with a friend and his girlfriend from Wiltshire who live nearby. We got back at about midnight after acting the goat on the station platform at Wessex Road.

Today Barry, Pete and I bought a gram of methedrine off Jamie for £14. Jamie said it was “smoother than speed, less poky” and used the analogy of matured whisky vs. Sainsbury’s brand crap.

I planned on writing at great length today but for some reason I just seem to have run out of steam. The last few days have been wearying and I haven’t done any work and I dread the thought of exams: I’m frustrated that my learning is disintegrating because of lethargy. I have to read Portrait of A Lady for Thursday but, needless to say, I haven’t even looked at it yet.

When the surrounding flesh of memory has melted away from around the bare bones of this narrative I shall curse my lack of detail, lack of inspiration and lack of inventiveness.

Sunday, May 1, 1983

Inescapable


As I was writing this last night I was halted in mid sentence by a knock on the door. It was Gareth, Graeme and Susie who forced me out to Biko’s for a drink: Gareth and Stu hadn’t been to bed at all, had gone out to Watermouth, got pissed and had a good time until three drunken yobs had rattled ‘em, causing them to flee hastily. Gareth left his Dad’s borrowed watch behind. Stu was pretty drunk and lurched silently from room to bed.

At the bar I cashed a cheque and so commenced a morbid evening, my blackest so far.

Lindsey came with us to Biko’s. She was having a quick drink before getting ready to go out, and although nothing was said I knew who she was going out with. I couldn’t even bring myself to speak and sat instead in dark desperation drinking cider, Gareth cheerfully telling Susie about Berlin.

I didn’t want to be there when Lindsey left, so I went to the toilet and stayed there for a while. Sure enough she’d gone when I got back. Susie kept telling me to “cheer up.” She said I looked very pissed off and sad. 'Gareth asked if it’d help to talk.

No.


I spied Marco sitting in the opposite corner with a couple of his Rousseau friends. His friend Roy walked in, left again, then came back in with Lindsey--I honestly find it hard to even set this down in such bald, unassailable fashion. They both sat down . . . I got up and left, as Gareth urged me to stay. Blundered back and cried like a baby. I couldn't help it!

Rowan and Shelley came in: they knew what was wrong but couldn’t help, only offer consolation and inescapable facts: “There's nothing you can do. She's going out with him.” I eventually regained some sort of composure and sat in crushed silence as Rowan and Shelley talked. “Everyone says he seems quite a nice bloke,” etc., etc. Gareth, Pete and Mo all tried to jolly me out of my gloom, but I went to bed at one full of morbid thoughts, and got a few hours of fitful sleep.

I woke up at six with an uncomfortable stomach: I haven’t eaten since Friday night. As I sat in the bar last night and stared out of the window I half-planned great destructive drinkings but now in the bleak light of the next day it seems like self-pity.

I spent the rest of the day shut in my room reading Herman Hesse feeling miserable and grey, unreal somehow. I ventured out to the library in the afternoon which didn’t make me feel any better. I can look at this and see it for what it is, quite simple, but the pain. . . .

I can’t bear to look back and read over what I’ve just written. . . .
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