Saturday, July 2, 1983

Red dust world

I went round to Uncle Kenneth’s in the morning. Cousin Ian and his friend Adrian were there and Ian spent the next hour showing off to me: he’s a pretty objectionable little kid. Soon after, Kenneth, Shirley, Nanna P., Nicola and Jan arrived and we all ate dinner and I unwillingly had conversations about Uni. etc.

I got wind of a possible job as a labourer on a building site with one of Kenneth’s mates.

Kenneth gave me a lift into town and I caught the five-past one bus to Dearnelow. It was a dragging drive through sunlit Stainwike, Alverhouse etc, and in Dearnelow city centre the breezy pedestrian precinct was swarming with kids and teenagers. I felt even more of the hostility here than I’d sensed in Easterby.

I caught the 468 bus to Saxton and rolled up at Rob and Carol's mid-afternoon. Carol was in the kitchen, Robert cleaning out his fire-bellied toads and green tree frogs in the front room. He seemed very quiet and subdued.

He took his Buddhist precepts last Sunday: this means he's now a fully fledged Buddhist, and he seems deeply committed, often going to Conishead Priory or to Bishophill on retreats: he told me about his monk-friend Neil, who I can tell he admires—even loves—for his simplicity and wisdom.

Rob showed me his altar, which is now upstairs in the small front bedroom above the front door: when he opened the door I was greeted by the sweet heavy smell of incense, and Rob made me take off my shoes before entering. The tall altar is topped with a pale Buddha in the lotus position and draped with exotic-looking, colourful cloth, and in front of the Buddha are small bowls with offerings. Robert’s meditation cushions on the floor in front.

He told me he's convinced of the correctness and crystal clarity of the path he’s taken.

I spent the rest of the day idly, while Robert sewed some red and yellow book covers (one of the conditions he has to fulfill on taking his precepts), or read a Buddhist text. I flopped about in indolence, watching TV or reading.

In the evening I went out and bought some fish and chips before coming to bed.

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