Wednesday, August 31, 1983


I rose blearily at eight-fifteen to catch the bus into town to sign on. Autumn definitely detectable in the air which was damp and chilly; I could almost smell the tang of foggy mornings and wet leaves.

As I made my way to the dole office, there was my RCP bogeyman Keith and his blond friend, selling the Next Step. “Hello Paul” he said, almost knowingly. I smiled weakly. He gave me a leaflet advertising a demo’ in Blackpool on September 5th, and asked me if I wanted to go.

I hedged. “Goodbye, I’ll see you on Saturday” I lied, both to him and to myself.

Lee and I made another unsuccessful trip to try get blood from the abattoir. It had turned into a warm and stifling day and the smell around the abattoir was worse than ever. It made Lee feel ill. I can see how the workers there must get hardened to it, for it was only our second trip bit the sight of drums full of sheep’s heads and blood trickling across the loading bays wasn’t quite as horrible as the day before.

In the evening it seemed as though the telephone never stopped ringing: cousin Nicola, Barry, a friend of Andrew’s, Jeremy . . . Barry told me he’s drawing £460 out of the bank soon to buy a synthesizer and next year he and a friend who’s coming down to live in Watermouth are getting a group together.

He’s been working most of the summer apart from a fortnight in Spain (“no drugs”). Andrew’s mate treated me like an old friend. I told him Andrew was now in London and he said he remembered seeing me at Andrew’s party in ‘82). He's now living in Watermouth and said, “maybe the three of us could get together sometime?”

Jeremy was full of his trip to see Ms. Hirst.

Tuesday, August 30, 1983

Except for the birds

Dad and Mum ran me in to Easterby on their way to Robert and Carol’s and I tried to ring Lee but had no luck. So I wandered about at a loss. For no particular reason I was on my way towards the library when I spotted two figures handing out leaflets outside the job centre by the Northern Building Society.


For some reason—later I tried to work out exactly why, perhaps simply just a blind and unthinking eagerness to make contact with some part of that other world, my life at Watermouth—I made a bee-line straight for the nearest of the two, a dark-haired man in his mid ‘20s sporting the now to-be-expected circular wire NHS specs.

He was selling copies of the Next Step and I introduced myself, and mentioned that I know Carl Cotton and Barry. He told me that an RCP group is being set up in Watermouth and that one has just got off the ground in Whincliffe. We had a long talk, or rather, he talked and I listened and nodded. He asked me for my phone number and I told him I didn't have a single fixed address and that I lived with friends. “What’s your local?” he asked and I gave him a vaguely truthful answer this time.

I rang Lee and waited at the library. My mind was in turmoil. Repeatedly I ask myself: what is it I disagree with? I think maybe it’s the RCP’s tactics and the way they extol their policies more than anything else, but maybe here I’m just being prejudiced by my dislike of Carl C. and co.

The RCP isn't something you should just ‘join’; you should feel and I don’t feel their policies. . . . I should accept that I can’t hide any longer from the questions the RCP raise for me about myself. I think deep down I’m frightened of discovering that everything I see and hear and do can be so easily explained by historical materialism and that that will take the “mystery” out of life.

When I see that written down on the page it makes me sick. I’m running away! I haven’t lived or seen or read and I don’t know or feel enough to know what I’m doing or to put what I’m doing in a larger perspective. This applies to my Nietszchean ravings . . . I write the words but don’t feel their full emotional impact. What I say is what I say. What I know is different. I need time. . . .

But perhaps this is all just flannelling justification for something the implications of which I daredn’t face up to?

When Lee showed up I was in a distinctly different mood than when I’d set off from home. We walked up Whincliffe Road to the abattoir that sits in the midst of a big area of semi-industrialised dereliction. We could soon smell a stench that caught in the back of our throats and we could sense fear as we approached the big anonymous factory buildings. We were nervous for some reason.

Outside, an empty lorry that had brought a cargo of animals was caked in shit and was being hosed out. Nearby in a concrete pen, sheep huddled silently, and from the bowels of the factory we could hear human shouts and a squealing pig.

Lee asked someone for some blood (for our photo-shoot) and it took four or five tries before we found our way into the heart of the abattoir, past rows of hanging, skinned carcasses; a lone man was skinning sheep heads, other skinned heads hanging neatly nearby on hooks; there was a room of white clad figures chopping up slithering piles of glistening guts . . . The stone steps, the yards and even the walls were stained with dried blood.

We couldn’t get any fresh blood because it had all been sold minutes before. We went back out into the hot sun feeling unclean. Lee’s vegetarianism was reconfirmed.

It’s such an awful way for those animals to die, the same sort of awful way that Jews died in the gas-chambers, their hardened, cheerful executioners shouting to one another above the bustle and noise of routine butchery.

Lee left to cycle home and after buying a couple of singles, I went home too. I briefly saw Grant stalking through Queensgate shoppers; he and a “curious” Nik may be coming down for the photo-shoot tomorrow.

Jeremy won’t be there; he’s visiting Ms. Hirst again, just him and Gillian Wade this time, who seems to have taken quite a fancy to his “la la la company” as she herself puts it. He showed me a card she sent him full of ‘witty’ comments and clear attempts to mimic his airy sarcasms. A case of Hirst’s ‘matchmaking’ according to Jeremy.

[Audio version]

Monday, August 29, 1983

Ripping yarns

I was glad to get away to Lee’s at eight last night.

Tommy and Jeremy were there already; Lee’s Mum had gone to Scarborough to run an antiques stall and although she’d only been gone since the morning, the house was already a tip.

We watched a video of Salem’s Lot before getting bored and deciding on a little diversion, which took shape as a midnight mission to frighten the occupants of a tent which was set up down by the allotments. The idea was to creep up, groan and scream, and just generally scare them shit-less.

We discovered they weren’t home and hid under a tree to wait. We’d pinched the battery out of their torch and after they came back Lee threw the battery at the tent. Out they came, silhouetted against the orange sky, brandishing an axe; I felt vulnerable huddled in the undergrowth. Our ‘victims’ began to lob stones into the bushes and to scan the darkness with their torch (spare battery evidently). I felt even worse; it was too much, and we broke cover like scared rabbits and I sprinted until my lungs were bursting. A few hundred yards away we stopped in the safety of darkness.

We wandered back a long way round and could see down into the darkened field where the tent was and watched the torch beams sweeping the trees, pinpricks of light in the grey darkness. The tent people had mustered reinforcements and eventually we were all quite relieved to get back to Lee's in one piece. We planned on going back but everyone felt too tired and sleepy. Tommy went home in the early hours and Jeremy and I slept on the living room floor.

I woke up at eleven o’clock this morning. Lee’s Mum isn’t due back until tonight so we bodged about watching TV, eating, and tidying the house. We played a board game with the enthusiasm of little kids and I missed Athletic’s home match against Hatherseats Bridge: Hatherseats won 2-1

The Spinners also lost on Saturday in their opening league game at Caygill; even though they lost 3-1, they sounded to have played well. The side is very young this year and I think they’ll be a struggle to stay up.

It was early evening when Jeremy and I finally left Lee’s. We walked back through silent and shabby estates, dead except for the kids who cruised about on bikes and played with grass cuttings on the verges. It was dusk when I got back: Dad accused me of being a “fair-weather fan” for not going to the game.

It’s come in cold the last few days and autumn is bearing down fast. Grant phoned this evening to ask how the photo-session had gone and when I told him it hadn’t he said he’d come down. We’ve arranged it for Wednesday. He and Nik are going to a printing place for unemployed people tomorrow to see about getting their book together.

Sunday, August 28, 1983

Prosperity and ruin

I got to Jeremy’s at about eight last night. Duncan Verity and Tommy Whelan there already, Tommy in quasi-New Romantic garb. Neither very forthcoming about anything, each content to hang back and laugh at the jokes and comments.

There was quite a big spread of crisps, pizza, flans, sausages on sticks etc., laid out on a trestle table outside. The barbecue sizzled and smoked in the drizzle. Quite a lot of effort had gone into this: a dance floor was outside in a stone shed, with straw bales around the walls for seating and Jeremy’s stereo for the music. The booze was in a nearby wooden outhouse.

We went for a brief drink somewhere nearby and when we got back Duncan was leaving; he played a Diana Ross track on the stereo outside and then was gone. I subjected everyone to the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie & The Banshees before I was outvoted. There were a lot of boring middle-aged people present, presumably friends of Jeremy’s Dad and his step-mum Jane; one graying bloke came and sat down and pretended to enjoy the music, even tapping his foot to “Pretty Vacant.”

This was the only stage where I actually enjoyed myself. Soon the stereo was reclaimed and the straw bales were packed with young friends and relatives of the extended Beaumont family who milled around, although to look at them he and they seemed a million miles apart.

I retreated inside and was subject to drunken unfriendly comments from Jeremy's sister Sarah’s fiancé Robert: “Fuckin’ hell, look at the size on ‘im! Frankenstein! All he needs are bolts through his neck!” From then on he called me “Frankenstein.”

Later, as I was sitting down eating, Sarah herself started in at me: “All your friends are puffs Jeremy,” then, to me, “Look at you, trying to be something you’re not, trying to put yourself above us.” And then she erupted at her future step-mother, and a huge family scene started.

Tommy and I fled into the front room, while out in the hall and kitchen angry voices got louder and angrier until all hell was let loose – hysterical crying and screaming as the women tried to stop the men from kicking the shit out of each other. I heard Jeremy’s brother shouting at his mum Jane and it all ended up in a physical fight outside.

Tommy and I hid in the front room drinking vodka. It was disturbing & unpleasant listening to so many people crying and shouting and I felt I shouldn’t have been there listening to it; I wanted to go but I daredn’t brave the storms raging on the other side of the door.

We tried to calm down a little kid who came skulking into the room; he kept shouting “Me Dad’s fighting!” and running fearfully to the window. Sarah was in tears, weeping uncontrollably and saying her head hurt. What can you do? I helplessly tried to console her and soon she was sobbing in Jeremy’s arms. I felt so sorry for him.

I fell asleep and when I woke up everything was quiet and most people were in bed. Tommy was gone and Jeremy had gone to bed. I heard later that the aggro had spilled out onto the street and a taxi driver had somehow got involved and his cab window was broken.

It was just me, Robert and his drunkenly unpredictable mate Adrian, Robert still calling me “Frankenstein.” They speculated how they would each crush the other’s balls at karate. I couldn’t take it any more and so I left at three o’clock or thereabouts, my name-caller insisting on shaking my hand and apologising for “taking the piss,” saying I seemed like a “nice bloke.”

I got home to find I was locked out. I spent the night in the back of the car, and staggered blearily in at about eight this morning with a headache, feeling rotten. Dad was up and writing away.

I went back to bed after the air had been soured by Mum erupting at Dad as he was preparing to launch himself into yet another of his “declining morals” tirades against “filth” and porn. It’s 5.30 p.m., I just got up and they’re still not speaking to one another, but Dad seems cheerful enough.

Mum is in a silent morose sulk.

Saturday, August 27, 1983

A part of Easterby therein – 1983

I again met Lee in Easterby. This time he arrived looking for all the world like a postman or plumber and we got turned heads, smirks and comments as we wandered up through the streets.

Easterby was seething with people; groups of lads in burgundy and grey, white socks, wedge-cuts and their girls in whites and pastels and tight jeans, idling amid the streams of people, casting speculative glances at passersby, ready to stare and nudge when someone not cast in their mold appeared. Lee seemed blissfully unaware, but did mutter darkly that he hated everybody he’d seen.

As we headed for HMV, two white-bloused and jean-clad slags fastened themselves onto us, staring at us with an almost insolent intensity, walking alongside mockingly. They giggled as we disappeared into the shop. I bought The Fall’s A Part of America Therein – 1981; they were there when we re-emerged. I tried to outstare one of them and she and her cig smoking friend broke into derisive sniggers.

I went home feeling black and vulnerable: the people, the sneers, the hostile intolerance, the readiness to mock had all got the better of me. When I got home I said “they’ve all crawled out of the woodwork” in bitter enough fashion to elicit a, “that’s not a nice thing to say” from Mum.

It’s started to rain. The grey skies glower and the drizzle is falling for the first time in weeks. Jeremy’s barbecue has fallen on an inopportune night.

Friday, August 26, 1983

Childhood fortified

I stayed at home while Dad went to Nanna B.’s and then met Mum in Easterby. He brought back a book on Emily Dickinson and a collection of essays on Helen Vaughan.

Thursday, August 25, 1983

Hairsbreadth's deviation

I had predictable dreams in which I was pursued through Wollstonecraft Hall by a vampiric Lee. I didn’t get up until midday.

I rang Grant. He told me that he and Nik are producing a magazine. Grant will contribute the poems and Nik will illustrate them. They’re having around fifty printed and Grant wants to get in touch with Yorkshire Arts.

I spent the rest of the day playing records.

My inaction is dangerous; say it time and time again and never lose sight of this fact or I’ll never be rid of it. It's like a terminal illness or increasing blindness; I’ll have to struggle all my life to stave off this chronic apathy. I must keep my head above water. But, I don’t feel pissed off and I’m still cheerful. I just kick myself for wasting opportunity.

Rob and Carol arrived back from Conishead at teatime and brought an atmosphere with them; it felt like they’d been arguing. Carol still suffers pain from her mouth which isn’t healing.

Robert, predictably, was full of talk about the week just gone: “I could’ve stayed there for years.” Buddhism dominates his life to such an extent that I wonder how long it will be before he renounces the trappings of his teaching career and goes to Conishead permanently to live. I wonder if he appreciates the significance of his comment, for one day he’ll have to go, or give his beliefs up as a bad job, because it seems to me that you can’t compromise.

You have to go the whole way. I feel very restless.

Wednesday, August 24, 1983

Make no delay

Another day spent with Lee; he phoned me mid-afternoon and came round an hour later, supposedly to dye a shirt black, but that never got done. My cheerful optimistic mood continues.

We went down to Farnshaw and I cashed my dole cheque. We looked round the second-hand clothes shops but ended up in a cemetery which I’ve often noticed but never been in before. It stands on a small hill overlooking the railway station and Kirkgate and seems to have been completely overlooked.

There can’t be above fifty graves there, all of them black with soot, a few headstones but slabs laid flat mostly, inscribed with the names of the dead and with epitaphs reminding readers that we are mortal and must die too. Lee found one grave dating back to 1689 and a couple to the eighteenth century, but most seemed to be from the 1830s and 1840s. It seems incongruous to me that this plot of land has survived for three hundred years while all around it the world has changed

It’s a shame that it’s so neglected, overgrown and filled with rubbish. I went up to Farnshaw and bought a pen and some paper to write down some of the epitaphs:
All you who come my grave to see
As I am now so you must be
Prepare in time make no delay
I in full bloom was call’d away.
We wandered back via Douglas Mills warehouse where I bought two shirts, inbetween laughing until tears were streaming down my face at the tacky clothing therein. Lee stayed until well-gone nine.

Later I watched a 1979 horror film, worth watching if only for the effective bald-headed yellow-toothed vampire which appears in the second part.

Tuesday, August 23, 1983

Slopes of Vesuvius

I rendezvoused with Lee as arranged at eleven in Smiths. He turned up looking like something from the Imperial Japanese Army in a small black peaked cap amd dark round specs, checked shirt buttoned at the neck, faded blue Chinese trousers, and dirty white pumps.

He mentioned a couple of good army surplus shops up Whincliffe Road. On the way we bumped into two of his friends from Easterby College, Rick Blevins and his blonde girlfriend; their faces broke into smiles of recognition as they spotted Lee’s tall figure looming out of the crowds. “I told you he was weird,” said Rick to his girlfriend. “Yes, he is, isn’t he?”

It was a long slog up Whincliffe Road. The sun was fierce, and we sweated past the usual string of shabby grocers shops, the fruit out front a temptation to flies, dingy cluttered second hand electrical dealers, junk shops, newsagents. . . . The Salvation Army Hostel is the finest and newest building in the area. We stopped to look in Scallyrags (second hand clothing), where we were watched by a silent Indian in a woolly cap, who never said a word, not even when Lee bought a ghastly tartan waistcoat.

We had fish and chips and I sweated like a pig.

At long last our destination hove into view, just as Whincliffe Road flattens out prior to its descent into Whincliffe, nearly at Monroe barracks. It was an army surplus store befitting of the name, filled with ammunition boxes, jerry cans, military footwear, haversacks, combat jackets, machetes, plus the usual assortment of waterproofs, hiking gear and industrial clothing. I bought a pair of German parachutists boots as used by the Argentinians in the Falklands for £9.99.

I got the bus home. Lee cycled over again later and stayed an hour, maybe more; I'll see him again on Saturday at Jeremy’s barbecue, which sounds a real barrel of laughs. He’s invited Ms. Hirst, Lee’s Mum, Duncan Verity, not to mention an assortment of Beaumont relatives.

Lee and I have cooked up a plan to take photos at about a dozen sites across Easterby. We’re going to tie Lee up with a bag over his head, bind his hands and maybe even his ankles and he’ll play dead, lying in corpse-like awkwardness while we liven things with pig’s blood which he’s scrounging from the abattoir. We’ll get a few shots of him sprawled in subways and in the centre of town; it should be quite interesting.

How will people react to a blood-spattered corpse plus four attendants with cameras and spare pig’s blood? Will we be arrested? ‘Youths Fined for Corpse Chaos.’ And in court we'll quote lines of Nietzsche with Gothic melodrama: “We build our cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send our ships into uncharted seas! . . . We are robbers and ravagers because we cannot be rulers and owners!”

It should be a laugh.

Mum and Dad took Nanna B. and Nanna P. for a run up through Calverdale. They had an enjoyable day, marred it seems only by N.P.’s ceaseless outpourings: every scene found an echo in her immense storehouse of memories and she drifted through her monologue with a monotonous regularity.

She’s mentioned to me that she’s ‘stuck’ with her “memoirs” at page two hundred or so and it seems that she’s lost when it comes to thinking about herself; what she's written is skimpy and lacking in detail, and if she’d write about her own past as thoroughly as she talks about Uncle Kenneth, Shirley, Aunty Dorothy, "ar" Nicola, etc., then she’d be approaching Dad’s two thousand-odd pages by now.

I heard from Barry this morning. He sent me a cheerful and untroubled postcard from Spain where he’s holidaying with Carl Cotton; he jokes he’s training to be a part-time bull-fighter.

Monday, August 22, 1983

Suits me

I met Grant in HMV at one o’clock.

He was quiet and morose and didn’t say much, only brightening for a little in a second-hand clothes shop where he bought a shirt. I bought a couple too. In Suits Me we were greeted coldly with the comment “You’re always coming in here but you never buy anything, do you?” so we left for cups of revolting coffee in the Metropolitan up Grafton Road, another brilliant place, full of people and life.

I’m in better spirits tonight than I have been for quite a while; Lee rang while I was out so I’ve just rung him back and I’m meeting him in Easterby at eleven tomorrow.

I got a breathless and almost manically cheerful letter from Shelley today, full of the joys of her “one great social whirl” as she puts it. It was good to hear from her . . .  I think my cheerfulness springs purely and simply from getting out more recently. However much I pretend to favour solitude I’m essentially a social person—I need other people, even though I think everyone of us is quite alone and that it’s useless believing otherwise.

We can laugh and talk and get close on a social level but there’s always that last insuperable barrier which makes us ‘individuals’ in the truest sense of the word. Two minds can’t truly, fully commune because each is locked forever in the white prison of the skull. “Imagination is a monastery and I its monk.” Our tools of communication, especially the written word, are miserably inadequate at bridging the gap.

But I’ve written this down in a sort of remote objective way because tonight I feel content for once, and the morning is something to look forward to.

I stayed away from the box in the evening as Mum, Dad & Nanna P. watched another brutal and bloody war film, The Iron Cross. The house was filled once more with the sounds of gunfire and the shouts and screams of the dying.

I can’t stomach all the violence. I know it’ s only make-believe but this death and destruction is all the more terrible to watch because of it really did happen. I saw only the final credits, a quote from Brecht telling people not to celebrate at the death of one madman for “the bitch is in heat again . . .” Mum thought the film was good—but horrible—and Dad enjoyed it too, but I don’t think he really understands what the anti-war side is getting at. With him it’s simply an intellectual impossibility and as he talked about the film afterwards he just dwelled on the drama of the battle scenes and the military reasons for Hitler’s failure.

Sunday, August 21, 1983

Human, all too human

Paul Reé: “Having arrived at the insight that the world was ‘meaningless,’ his mind seems to have been paralysed by the idea: it was the end as well as the beginning, of his philosophy. For Reé, the senselessness of existence was a source of despair – for Nietszche it became the ground of freedom.”

The manic scrawl of Friday reveals that I don't have the courage of my convictions, or rather I don't fully appreciate them enough to class them as ‘convictions,’ because I don't live and act in a manner which corresponds with what I say. I “contrive to think and act as if nothing has changed.” But what else can I do? I don't act as though I accept the things I write; these ideas are so many intellectual abstractions.

Nanna B. and Nanna P. are here together today. The latter excels herself, monologuing endlessly to N.B., who staggered into the back room saying breathlessly, “By, can’t she talk!” And talk she did, in a loud strenuous voice that echoed out across the garden and the privets making Mum flinch with embarrassment.

She put Dad in a fix by innocently telling Nanna B. about a trip to Saxton that Nanna P. had made: Dad hadn't told Nanna B. this, afraid as he was that she would spread tales about the untidiness and uncleanliness of Rob and Carol’s house to others. I don’t know why he’s bothered; the fact that he is bothered seems more of an insult to Rob and Carol than anything else. Why should he care what our fuck-up of a family thinks? He's scared stiff of trouble.

In the afternoon, Mum, Dad and the two N.’s went out for a run, getting back about four. Grant rang in the evening and invited me over: I got a lift on to Lodgehill from Uncle Harold who had arrived to ferry Nanna B. home.

Grant was in a better mood. It still hasn’t really sunk in that at long last he’s actually getting away from Easterby. We went for a drink up at the Albion in Ashburn but were driven away by the deadly clientele, so we walked on to Lockley.

The streets were packed with children running, shouting, and riding bicycles, and the doors of the houses were open, people out enjoying the night air, repairing cars, talking . . . No doubting that human beings lived here, the sights and sounds of joyful activities everywhere, unlike the great grey dead cemetery back at Egley. Somehow the sight of all this life made my spirits soar and I felt that something was actually happening.

We reached West Lane and turned down towards the main road, stopping for a drink at the Woodhead Hotel at the top of Gardner Place. We enjoyed sitting outside at the back on a terrace overlooking a small garden and optimistically discussed Grant’s hopeful plans for Gloucester and all the possibilities that might unfold.

He’s not happy with the way his band Eat People is going and the “tameness” he's mentioned before still irritates him. He’s at odds with the bass player (“he wants everything to sound like a cross between Killing Joke and The Birthday Party”) and the “thick” drummer. Grant says he wants to be plunging into other, more diverse things, “real lunatic stuff.” I told him of the cynicism afoot at Watermouth. Art Colleges may be pretentious, but I think I’d prefer that to the stagnant cynicism of Uni. At least things would get done.

We sat gazing out at the now dark garden and trees and I felt wrapped in good spirits & optimism.

We rounded the evening off at the Nirmal curry house up West Lane before wandering back the way we’d come, voices and movement still punctuating the darkness. We passed a church with a towering steeple, a grim crouching chapel and the mirror-flat reservoir above Woodhead Park.

A sickly yellow moon rose behind us.

Saturday, August 20, 1983


Hot stifling weather. I went to Moxthorpe with Dad to watch a cricket match. I didn’t really want to go to be honest, but Mum cajoled me and I gave in, out of deference to his feelings more than anything else.

We didn’t stay long and came back via Beatrice Avenue and Moxthorpe roundabout. As I sidled past No. 55 I caught a glimpse of Mrs. Pearson but no Claire who presumably is in Whincliffe. It would’ve been awkward to suddenly blunder into her. I bought The Varieties of Religious Experience (1903) by William James which I remembered from Colin Wilson’s The Outsider.

I was expecting a call from Grant which didn’t materialize, so I rang his house but he was out, as was Jeremy. I even rang Stu in Basildon but he was out too, and his Dad answered. So, feeling a little at a loss, I went out and sat on the lawn with Dad in the gathering darkness, drinking beer and talking. He told me stories his Dad had told him of wading ashore at Suvla Beach, Gallipoli, with his rifle above his head to keep it dry, while men fell around him and bodies drifted back in the tide. But for that luck, I’d not be sitting here writing and someone else would be living in this house.

I felt quite content there in the dusk, looking forward to the morning and listening to Dad. Nanna P., who's here today, will be joined tomorrow by Nanna B., so I’ll go out. As I write this Mum, Dad and N.P. sit in the front room watching some brutal tale of escape from Nazi-occupied France starring Anthony Quinn again,

Friday, August 19, 1983

The world stands complete

Robert and Carol called round this morning on their way for a week at Conishead Priory. Robert was looking forward to it a lot, but Carol seemed subdued; she's just had two teeth pulled at the hospital and is suffering with a swollen face.

They were soon off leaving me to an afternoon of idleness. Mum went to the hairdressers and Dad went on one of his much-grumbled-about trips to see Nanna B. The weather was hot and sunny once more.

At four I got a call from Grant . . . I held my breath . . . a fail in Economic and Social History, a fail too in Communications Studies, but a ‘B’ for English Lit. He couldn’t believe it and was ringing me in an inebriated glow of enthusiasm after going out for celebratory drinks with RJ and Jackie. “I haven’t felt this good in a long time,” he told me, and really did sound full of excitement and just general happiness.

I couldn’t help the cynical thought that flashed through my head: it’ll be no different for him when he goes to Gloucester. It wasn’t—and isn’t—for me. I can’t help thinking that, like me, he’s one of those people who cart the source of their own misery around with them, like a prisoner his chains. But, time for celebration; more than anything he’s relieved to finally have an escape route from the trap of his domestic situation. “What have you been doing?” he asks, and I truthfully answer “nothing.”

I got a second letter from Susie and felt ashamed at her comment on my comments about boredom in my previous letter. Seeing it written in black and white puts my own situation in sobering perspective. Fool!

Twelve days until September.

I read some war poetry by Sassoon and Graves, etc. I felt yet more shame that I can so blithely talk of ‘misery’ and ‘suffering’ when I know nothing of true anguish. In a perverse way I would be curious to see how war would alter me as a person, but thrown into the cauldron, I'd no doubt be mewing pathetically for “mummy” and “home.” It was bad enough for me enduring the first few days at University, so God knows what new depths of self-pity I’d plumb if I was in a war.

I was really affected by Sassoon.
I thought of age, and loneliness, and change,
I thought how strange we grow when we’re alone
And how unlike the selves that meet and talk,
And blow the candles out and say good night.
Alone . . . The word is life endured and known.
I find it incredible to think that anyone can write a poem like “Before Action” by W. N. Hodgson, incredible that anyone can marshal and rationalise their thoughts so clearly in the face of so immediate and awful a death. He asks for strength to be able to bear the prospect of losing all earth’s “delights and glories” and does so in such a calm manner; surely there must’ve been tears and despair at the thought of becoming yet another member of “the unheroic Dead who fed the guns”?

I suppose that we ‘rise to the occasion’ in such circumstances. . . .

In the evening I watched a screen adaptation of The Magus, a book I’d intended reading over summer (but left my copy in Watermouth). It left me itching to read the book and I got an inkling of how big an impression the book had made on Patrick and why he felt as though he’d been ‘dunked in a bath of cold water.’ If the novel is anywhere near as thought-provoking as the film then it must be excellent. I must read it.

Patrick read it and drew parallels with his own situation, and then he acted. He quit the RCP. It was a big step when you consider his utter involvement with them. I remember how he struggled to convey his shattered complacency to us when we did LSD, and I could see it too, in a way, but gripped as I was by my LSD-self-consciousness and natural awkwardness, I couldn’t span the gulf which separated us. I couldn’t tell him that I understood too.

Out of the film’s symbolism, allusion, analogy and pantomime I drew out the ‘message’ that there's no message. Exploration brings you back to where you started and it’s all about looking at what there is to hand in a different way. The things around us are all there is, there’s nothing more, no ancient gods to be petitioned (gods who never replied anyway). No Yahweh, no Allah, no Horus or Isis or Zeus, just frightened people filling the Void with their reassuring figments to block out the emptiness and push it from the mind. There is no other way. These lives are all we have.

And when Mum says she spent a lifetime always planning for tomorrow and now that tomorrow is here, she feels desperately uncertain, unsure, and cheated somehow, I begin to understand why the world immerses itself in the commonplace and the known: “I have suddenly awoken in midst of this dream but only to the consciousness that I am dreaming and that I have to go on dreaming in order not to be destroyed: as the sleepwalker has to go on dreaming in order not to fall.”

Mum puts her recent strangeness down to this realisation and says that “Sometimes I just want to scream at everyone and everything.” The other day she said she felt like putting on her coat and going: where is unimportant; it’s the act of going that matters. “It’s easier to philosophize at 19 than at 49” she says. It’s hard to accept that our lives have been built on sand and perhaps harder still to realise that this will go on and on and that I—helpless, unable to do any different—will also despairingly participate in this, knowing full well that the time will come when I too will be in Mum’s position.

Is my interpretation right, I wonder, or am I on the wrong track completely? Reading the book will get me deeper and tell me if I’m right and more of what Fowles really is getting at. Are we really “men moving in a mist”? I'm nineteen and I’ve ‘solved’ everything?

“The world stands complete and has achieved its end in every single moment.”

Thursday, August 18, 1983

One day . . .

I had my hair cut first thing this morning. Endured agonies of self-consciousness after the barber had finished primping, poncing and sculpting a smooth ‘50s-esque quiff of hair. This I gratefully destroyed as soon as I got home.

I’m not going there again.

Andrew went back to London at one-thirty and he moves into his flat on Sedgby Road, Hackney, tonight.

I’ve been thinking about how cynical the attitude is at Watermouth Uni is and I contrast Lee’s almost carefree enthusiasm with someone like Guy, who's caustic and worldly. The eighties is the age of cynicism, and it’s trendy to adopt a blasé seen-it-all attitude, but I know whose attitude inspires me more. Lee is an anachronism in this era of hardness.

For some reason I just can't write tonight. Word blockage. Every word is an effort, but then I never do write well in these pages because I don’t concentrate and don’t—or can’t—go back and rewrite. But this isn’t intended to be great writing or anything like that. I had pretensions once. It’s just a dumping ground for all the sights and words and feelings I experience from week to week. But I should make an effort to write something other than this, . . .

One day I’ll pick this back up and read and yawn and realise what a fool I was and probably still will be.

Wednesday, August 17, 1983

Ought oughts are ought

Another damp day. I signed on at nine and made an abortive trip to the barber’s before setting off into Easterby with Mum at half-twelve.

I missed the four minutes to one train and so had an hour to wait in the drizzle for the next one. The train crawled through the unprepossessing landscapes of Haley Hill, Nortonroyd and Mill Bridge; wet-roofed factory buildings and dark houses crouched shivering on the hillsides, and black clusters of buildings loomed out of the murk as we rattled past.

Ms. Hirst picked me up at the station and we drove to her house high above Midgeroyd, a small ivy-clad cottage perched overlooking the valley. Lee, Jeremy, and Gillian were already there, sitting uneasily across from one another in the front room. Gillian's just like her sister, perhaps a bit more easy going and trendy. Hirst’s house is small with typically arty touches--a tastefully arranged pile of pebbles on one corner of the coffee table, a heap of shells placed with studied carelessness on the mantelpiece above the fireplace, several pseudo-pointillist paintings of palm trees on the walls.

She asked me about Watermouth and asked me how it was going. I blurted out the usual spiel about the academic drudgery of ploughing through books only to write essays and told her my semi-serious idea of packing it all in. She mentioned Art History: I began to think about it seriously, but I felt very uncomfortable with her probing questions: What would I do on the dole? etc etc.

Lee made the idle, incidental comment that I should have done an Art course, but I should change me, not my course, and anyway I can’t imagine my tutors taking too kindly to my flitting from one course to another in such whimsical fashion. I came across as very undecided and lacking any real self-knowledge. Truthfully I haven’t a clue as to what else I’d rather be doing.

“Ought oughts are ought” said Hirst, meaning I’m not deserving of any reward if I don’t put anything in. Jeremy later told me I’d sounded “neurotic.”

Apart from this all was quite OK. Hirst thought Lee and I looked fresh-faced and boyish, and I thought she was her usual satirical self, quite unchanged. She made us lasagne and salad with plum crumble for dessert and told us she’s reaching a bit of a crisis point in her life, isn’t really happy with her career at Egley, and feels that, at thirty four, she isn’t getting anywhere in particular. Promotions don’t interest her and she says she needs a change.

I’m doomed to feel this too.

By now the sun had pierced the gloom and shone into the living room. We went for a walk. Midgeroyd was still wrapped in a murk the sun couldn’t penetrate, the valley bottom a jumble of shrouded outlines and silhouettes. The grass was sodden and the roads were still damp from the heavy afternoon rain. We climbed up a flight of stone steps and emerged onto the top of the hillside and finally into evening sunshine.

The valley is very narrow at this point, its sides towering over the village. Lots of steep hills and narrow streets. We saw one building with a tower, about two-storeys high, topped off with a small spire. We also glimpsed a magnificent chapel set back in its own grounds, a huge blackened building with a frontage adorned with pillars at either side of an imposing doorway.

We had a couple of drinks at a pub and Hirst let us into some of the secrets at school. It sounds as awful in the staff room as it was being a pupil there. She says the staff is boring and gave us a glimpse of the crawling careerist Mrs. St. John who “is a fascist.”

Gillian had to be back or her parents would have been on her about staying out late, but before we caught the nine-thirty train back Hirst gave me Ornette Coleman's Body Meta (which she hates); Jeremy came away with a Zenit camera. Gillian seems OK; I quite liked her.

Lee was in fine form and we got on very well; he had me in fits several times and as we hurried for the train he whistled loudly and regaled us with impressions from Coronation Street. Back in Easterby we said goodbye to Gillian in the station and went for a drink at the Four Pigeons, but I missed my bus and ended the day trudging home through the mist on foot.

Andrew was in bed when I got back. He’s come home to pick some stuff up.

Tuesday, August 16, 1983

Black monk time

I got a letter from Gareth this morning; he's been working, smoking dope with skinheads on his lunch-breaks. I’d said in my letter that I’d been “living like a monk” and he replies that he hasn’t. “But then I don’t live in the Third World.”

The rain streams down and has done since I got up. Paul L. and girlfriend left this morning. Jeremy rang to pass on an invitation from Ms. Hirst to go over to Midgeroyd tomorrow with he and Lee. Christine Wade’s sister Gillian is going too. If the weather is as rainy as it’s been today then I’ll get very wet, ‘cos I haven’t got a coat. I lost my overcoat last term and threw my busman’s jacket away while drunk in Easterby with Lee and Jeremy.

I have to make my mind up about Everything soon: where’s that intensely decisive act now, O wise one?

It’s getting gloomier and gloomier as the day slips away, and I feel thoroughly unexcited about my prospects. The greyness of the weather weighs in on me. I remember something which Jeremy said when he was here last, how he seemed surprised to discover that underneath this “cheerful” easy going façade I’m as fucked up as anyone else. Presumably he assumed my life was pretty well worked out and that my mind was rarely troubled by doubts and disturbances. It’s a deeply ingrained habit to put a smiley ‘normal’ face on things when inside I’m churning and raging.

It’s now mid-evening and Rob and Carol have just gone home, but will be back over tomorrow for Athletic’s Yorkshire Cup match at home to Whincliffe. Things sound very tight in the ‘paper tonight, the Chairman telling supporters that “you can forget about promotion.” The programme alone lost £250 last season and so we’ll have to be satisfied with team sheets for a long time to come I suppose.

Monday, August 15, 1983

The Horla

At twelve Dad ran me onto Grant’s. I found him in a similar mood to the one I’ve been in, very disillusioned and bored with everything around him. After the now obligatory playing of records we went down to get fish and chips from the Chinese in Lodgehill.

It was a sunny day and we sat and ate them on the wall outside and then wandered down through Lodgehill, eventually ending up sitting among the rocks near the railway sidings which overlook Three Locks Road. It was warm again and quite sticky. We perched there above the road and traffic and cursed Easterby for being such a dump.

Grant can’t wait to get away. The ‘A’-level results come out on Thursday and he needs a C in English to get in at the University of Gloucester, but if he fails again he intends leaving to get a flat in Easterby or Whincliffe. He keeps telling himself, almost as if to keep it at the forefront of his mind, that he has to move out no matter what.

“Life's a sick joke,” he declared, and said that there’s nothing to give lasting pleasure. “It’s all a big con to get us here and then Bingo, you’re saddled with a lifetime of tedium." He said that he “almost got screwed” at a party in Thornaby, “but I didn’t cotton on and the girl left with her boyfriend.”

His friend RJ has left home and has moved in with Jackie in Bavaria Crescent. He’s eighteen, she’s twenty-three, but he’s done something decisive, made a move, even if it’s for the worse—a decisive act that could go wrong and not work out, but that’s not what’s important. What matters is that he’s done it. It is the same sort of decision I look for by dwelling almost obsessively (as I did today) on the idea of packing in my course at Watermouth and doing something else. I think such an act would be a positive step, although not necessarily viewed as such in the eyes of others, Mum and Dad in particular, but a step towards that something I’m looking for. . . .

I couldn’t make up my mind about buying something to drink so I didn’t bother and we walked back up through Lodgehill in the sticky heat to the woods near Grant's house, quite near to where an abandoned brickworks chimney soars above the undergrowth. We sat awhile in the sun with our legs dangling over a shady weed-choked stream.

Back at Fearnfield Drive I read “The Horla” by Guy de Maupassant, then Grant read it and we sat in the back room in total boredom.

In the evening we went up to the Albion and I bought Grant drinks as he was totally broke. We sat in solemn silence, broken only by the occasional tired comment or little joke. He told me that February ’81 was the worst time of his life: “Before autumn 1980 I didn’t exist. I started getting pissed and behaving stupidly, and for some reason I thought I was getting on with people but they just thought I was a wanker. It was impossible to talk to anyone.”

We went back to his house and I left at 10.30, and as I walked home I interrupted a hedgehog that was scuttling up the road in the darkness. It curled up at the touch of my foot and I carried it gingerly to the bushes.

Rob and Carol rolled up shortly after I got back. Rob’s friend Paul Lyons and his girlfriend Anita from London were with them—Anita wanted to see ‘The North’ as she’d never been further than Watford, so they'd taken her for a curry and a drink at the Volunteer and then on to Cross Green where Carol and Paul had ended up in the river. They’d just got back from having a drink in  Knowlesbeck. Anita's nineteen, and Robert can’t seem to get over the fact that she was only eleven when he and Carol got married.

Robert slept in my room and I lay there for a long time as he talked and talked. . . .

Sunday, August 14, 1983

A fly buzzed

It’s approaching one a.m. and I’m sweating to death, with only the whine of the flies to keep me company. It’s too warm to sleep.

Today we had blazing cloudless weather for the second day running. Mum and Dad spent part of it watching cricket in Moxthorpe; they stayed out until eight thirty, enjoying what Mum described as a “perfect golden evening.” She says she’s worried that I don’t get enough fresh air. “You’ve hardly stirred since we came back from Calverdale,” she chides anxiously and she still thinks I could be unwell.

Not unwell, just a dullness and weariness brought about by day-after-day of unremitting—and quite self-inflicted—mental tedium. Trial by boredom. I “hardly stirred” from morning until night, watching the final day of the World Championships from Helsinki, between times pacing the house restlessly. Lethargy weighs me down as surely as if I was prisoner here. The one thing plays on the other; it’s a vicious circle and the more bored I become, the harder it is to muster motivation to escape.

I can count my friends here on one hand

Jeremy called in last night and stayed until well gone midnight. We were almost like two orphans, and spent a long and not particularly thrilling evening having a strange, ill-at-ease sort of conversation that touched on deeply paranoid subjects.

When I think of all the work I have to do my reaction is ‘What is the point?’ The academic drudge doesn’t ‘do’ anything for me and I doubt if all the effort in the world would really alter the feeling that all I’m doing is ploughing on and on through book after book, with nothing truly relevant to me as a person or the way I live my life. I wish I had the guts and assurance to just say “Fuck it” and jack it all in, strike out on some new path. But knowing me (as I do so horribly well) I’d end up vegetating on the dole, without even the cover of a degree course to give my existence some point.

Saturday, August 13, 1983

Quick work

Andrew rang to say he’d got a flat in Hackney, and could he borrow £80 for the deposit? Quick work.

Friday, August 12, 1983

Out, out, brief candle!

Andrew left at twenty-to-twelve; Dad ran him down to the station. He said he was nervous and hated himself for his irrationality. He aims to find somewhere of his own to live within the next week. As I write this, he’ll be in a pub in London somewhere. His nervousness will have gone now he’s actually arrived. He’ll be OK.

Mum's in a bit of a mood at the moment; no doubt she’s worrying over Andrew, but she seems stalled and very fed up. We watched Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation this evening which featured the famous “life’s but a walking shadow” speech from Macbeth, which Mum said didn’t help her mood.

She says she’s been brooding on the passing of time and the ultimate point of “it all” for a long while now. I copped the blunt end of her mood when she quite snapped at me. “Just because I don’t blab everything I think to everyone all the time, you all assume I haven’t a thought in my head . . . you’d be surprised.”

After dark I watched for the Perseid meteors, which reached their peak last night. In the first few minutes of watching I saw several, and after about half-an-hour I’d recorded seventeen and a handful of sporadic meteors. Most were mere sparks, flicking across the edge of my field of vision and gone in an instant. but two flashed across the sky and left trails, which I observed with binoculars.

The first was a bright bluish ball of light which whizzed across the sky leaving a pale glowing train of ionized gas in its wake. This persisted for at least thirty seconds before it gradually distorted and broke up. I managed to drag Mum and Dad away from the television and into the darkness, and their patience was rewarded with a few meteors and a satellite.

After they’d gone in with aching necks, I tracked a couple more satellites as they glided silently towards the horizon and extinction in the earth’s shadow. It was a breath of the old times: when I spotted the first and most spectacular ‘fireball,’ looking for all the world like a firework rocket, I got a thrill of adrenalin, a real kick.

Thursday, August 11, 1983


Robert came across for the day and he, Mum and Dad went for a walk in the heat to Tunscarr Edge; Andrew and I went into Easterby. On the bus in I saw but didn’t speak to Louise Taylor, who looked trendier than in her sixth form days.

It was fairly pleasant wandering about Easterby in the sun.

In the afternoon Nanna B. was brought back from her convalescence in Heber. She was locked out of her flat and so spent the afternoon here looking as fit and healthy as ever. Her stay in Heber has caused Mum and Dad much trouble, Dad being harassed for runs out which he's acquiesced to in usual fashion.

Wednesday, August 10, 1983

Psychosomatic eye

Dad suffers at the moment with a rash on his neck and an inflamed eye, which looks a mess. Mum thinks it’s a nervous reaction to the enormity of a whole year on the dole just sinking in.

He’s in low spirits because never did he believe he’d be out of work so long. I feel sorry for him. The applications for jobs still go out regularly but I can’t see him getting what he’s looking for, and I reckon he’ll either have to look farther afield or work part-time, because now the dole cheques have stopped.

Tuesday, August 9, 1983

What else is there?

Grant rang today. He’s off on a caravan holiday until Saturday with Nik and co.: “We’ll wander about looking for pubs: what else is there?”

Monday, August 8, 1983

Drink the long draught

An evening of drinking, boozy laughs, leg-pulling and teasing with Jeremy, Lee and Tommy Whelan. It was my first night out for weeks.

I got to Jeremy’s house at nine, two hours late, and as it wasn’t worth going out, we went to an off-licence instead and bought half-bottles of vodka and whisky. Jeremy rang Tommy Whelan and when he came up he brought another ½ bottle of whisky.

We had the usual falling apart scenes, Jeremy forcing Lee to drink some vile green-coloured mint liqueur while Tommy (baggy black suit, white collarless shirt, white shoes), laughed until he could laugh no more. I fell into a drunken reverie while the others crawled about on the floor giggling. Lee didn’t feel too good, but we ventured forth long after midnight and weaved our way out into the orange darkness.

As a dare, Jeremy shuffled across the road with his trousers around his ankles. Lee puked in the street. Jeremy really was quite reckless, urging vandalism and trips along the train tunnel of old, but we had to go back as Lee felt ill.

Another night on Jeremy’s floor.

Sunday, August 7, 1983


I’ve been nowhere over the weekend. The things I’ve achieved since last Friday are best expressed by one word: nothing. . . . 

Saturday, August 6, 1983

Triple word score

I languish in my self-made cell cursing my psychological prison bars. Time slips away while I sit here anticipating the next day, and the next, and letting each go by wasted. Work sits gathering dust . . . A few games of Scrabble to enliven the monotony.

I’m an oaf.

Andrew leaves for London on Friday. I’ve enjoyed his company this time and I’ll miss him.

Friday, August 5, 1983

Do it tomorrow

A sunny day that's passed typically enough: letters to answer, Claire to contact, work to think about. . . .  And always I say “I’ll definitely do it tomorrow.”

Thursday, August 4, 1983

Night country

I’m now virtually fully recovered. My throat hardly hurts at all and I can swallow as normal and I’m relieved it was only tonsillitis and nothing more serious.

Today another day like all the rest.

I sit inside watching the light change from dull to bright and dull again, while the clock ticks on and on and Dad lays prostrate in sleep on the settee next to me, snorting from time to time. Next door in the dining room Mum is sewing; upstairs, Andrew moves about and whistles while the sounds of Return To Forever drift down the stairs.

He’s moving to London next week. When I think of what a huge step it is I can appreciate in a small way how scared he must be. My days however are empty. I keep promising myself “tomorrow, tomorrow,” but tomorrow always finds me sitting about in a limbo of inaction, scheming for the future: “The evolutionary wound we bear has been the creation of a thing abstracted out of time yet trapped within it: the mind, by chance distorted, locked into a white-ribbed cage which effervesces into air the moment it approaches wisdom.”

The big trial of IRA men has just ended in London and they’ve been convicted on the evidence of IRA “supergrass” Christopher Black. Three of them have gone down for life. I’m infuriated by the blaze of British propaganda. What is murder to one is assassination to another and vice versa; the IRA are described as murderous psychopaths, while the British Army (themselves no innocents at terrorizing civilians) are the heroic boys in khaki, defending the Glorious name of the British State. Although ‘imperialism’ sounds too sloganistic a word to use, it’s the one that springs to mind. “It’s a pity they can’t pull a plug and let Ireland sink into the sea,” says Dad, self-assuredly.

Last night, as we watched scenes of Iranian Imperial Guards gunning down protestors, Andrew said, “If I thought the British would do a thing like that I think I’d leave now.” Peterloo? Bloody Sunday? Stinking hypocrisy! A select few strut and shout and wield their power for Money and Self, or is it Flag and Country? I end up ranting in some sort of naïve New Puritan rage that “all leaders are criminals and bastards.”

There, I’ve exorcised my demons for the day.

I’ve been reading Loren Eiseley’s The Night Country which, oddly enough, is full of none of the things I’ve just been gibbering on about. According to Eiseley, the half page above springs from the beast within; it’s my animal-side struggling to the surface. I’ve nearly finished it and it’s enthralling stuff, similar in style to Ray Bradbury, all about the night things, what they’ve meant to him and his recollections of a life hunting fossils in America.

Wednesday, August 3, 1983

Shaheen is cool

I signed on in the morning and on the way back, Dad and I stopped to wander down past Cardigan Park. The white walls of the ground were quiet and smelled of dereliction. At one end of the ground a demolished wall let us see into the ‘stadium’ (ha ha) and out across the weed-strewn Easterby End and onto the luxuriously green pitch. “Shaheen is cool,” says the graffiti on the wall.

In the afternoon, Andrew and I went to see Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life at the Farnshaw Odeon. It was OK, not as funny as their efforts of old, and as to solving the riddle of life's meaning, I suppose they got quite close: sex, food and death, with a lot of pointless bits in between.

After tea, we watched a programme on Beeb 2, Iran: The Revolution Betrayed. The overthrow of the tyranny of the Shah’s regime was followed by the usual in-fighting between the various factions, resulting in the ascendancy of the Mullahs, Iran's most powerful authoritarian group, who now exert a more terrible power than the Shah ever did. We sat in our comfortable armchairs and watched an interview with an imprisoned and tearful sixteen-year old, a victim of rape. Two hours after the filming, he was shot.

The Iranian revolution rolls on with the fanaticism and blindness from which it sprang. Just as in Russia, the conspiratorial, elitist subversion of a revolution creates a conspiratorial, elitist and authoritarian state. ‘My Party Right or Wrong.’ Look and learn, RCP! (but look at me! Sitting on my complacent bourgeois backside and patronising a world’s revolutions in one breath!).

I sometimes think there's something wrong with me. I’ll turn into a bitter old crank one day. The TV fills me with disgust at adverts and programmes alike, raging against grey-suited newsmen, government officials, everything, anyone. . . . “You’ll never become a Buddhist,” says Andrew, half-smiling, half-serious, after one of my regular tirades against all and sundry, tirades which start as a joke but which always have a grain of sincerity to them.

Peace of mind is far away.

[Audio version]

Tuesday, August 2, 1983

Heavy clout, heart out

Lee and Jeremy called round which cheered me up a lot; I haven’t had contact with anyone but family for a fortnight and I think it’s been getting me down a bit.

They arrived on their bikes after dark and stayed for an hour or so. When I’m forced onto my own resources for any longish period of time it seems I always end up tending towards morbidity and self-pity. The last half-dozen pages vouch for this.

Monday, August 1, 1983


My throat is still as sore as ever. I went to the doctor in Farnshaw this morning and he told me I either have tonsillitis or—if my throat is still as bad in a week—glandular fever. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I hope it’s not glandular fever, because that’s supposed to drag on for months.

Dad, Andrew and I watched New Zealand win the Test match by five wickets. I fell asleep in front of the TV and spent much of the afternoon oblivious. I felt better at teatime, and even my swallowing seemed easier and less painful, but now, in the evening, it feels sore again.

A few names from my past have been cropping up recently in the papers; Carol Lancaster is making a name for herself in tennis circles and has just finished her first year on a tennis scholarship at Plotinus University. Christine Wade is off to France for a year, and Mark Pittock got a scholarship to a University in Utah.

In the evening Andrew and I watched a programme about the music of Anton Webern, George Liggerty, Stockhausen and John Cage. I make no claims as to a personal understanding of it, but I’m fascinated by the atmosphere of this music. Andrew says atonal music always sounds unhappy and never carefree, but I wonder why people prefer melody and tonality? Is it because it’s soothing and less disturbing? Perhaps atonal music demands thought and effort and this repels people, pushing them back towards the ‘easier’ works of more ‘tonal’ composers?

“There is no pre-ordained correspondence between truth and happiness; between what is true and what is pleasing; the genuine inquirer must be indifferent to ‘peace of soul or happiness’; or at least must not seek them, for if these are the objectives, he must go aside from the path that leads to those truths that are ugly and repellent.”

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