Monday, September 5, 1983

Dirty old men

In the afternoon I went into Easterby with Lee for the millionth time this summer. There was not a lot doing; it was cold, windy and bright, and we visited all the usual 2nd-hand shop haunts. . . .

Dad dropped me at the top of Gardner Place at eight and I met Grant in the Woodhead Hotel, a place I much prefer to the Albion. Grant’s pale unshaven face was framed with dark greasy hair, knotted, untidy and long over his collar at the back. He was wearing the same brown untidy jacket, spare blue sweater and rumpled jeans - fag in hand, he was intense and somehow awkward, but meditatively composed. He narrowed his eyes slightly against the cig smoke and the light and inclined his face upwards thoughtfully, half-hidden behind hands and cigarette.

Behind him in the window I could see the back of his head and my own face.

We spent our time typically, shaking with laughter at the perverse imaginings we're reduced to every time. After an hour or so in the bar we wandered back through Woodhead Park. I was wearing my new overcoat and some wanker on the street bawled “dirty old man” at me from his van.

We bought fish and chips at the bottom of Fearnfield Drive and went back to his house to listen to John Peel’s Einsturzende Neubauten session. It was after eleven when I left to walk home across Castlebrigg playing fields; I hurried through the windy dark casting nervous glances either side of me. Quite a few branches down. . . .

Lee and Grant are gearing themselves up for the adventure ahead and I fall into the guise of ‘old hand.’ I warn them that the first weeks might be pretty rotten, but then I don’t suppose they’ll be affected in the same way I was, especially not Lee, who’s independent, like a cat.

Three weeks left before I go back to Watermouth and there’s work to be done and questions about what the fuck I’m actually doing to be wrestled with. What do I do?

Some nights my writing feels constipated and the words come with painful and frustrating effort, but tonight they flow with an imperfect ease.

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