Wednesday, September 7, 1983

Maze


I feel saddened and pessimistic that Dad should so accurately have plumbed the depths of my 'crisis.' I can't use the word 'crisis' on second thoughts, as that implies a knife-edge life or death situation; rather this is a long drawn-out feeling of emptiness and blank confusion.

He says my signposts have been painted out. Were they ever painted in? I thought they were once, but not anymore. Dad says “he is not the Paul we once knew” and he attributes this change to the “Watermouth experience.” He's assessed me very accurately and paints a picture of my endless lounging, my plucking of books from the shelves - “a maze of no choice” - but rarely if ever doing anything productive or serious. I have been locked in this maze ever since I went to Watermouth.

When I first went to there, my plan, as na├»ve and romantic as it seems now, was based on the hope that the mere act of going to University, the inconceivable widening of horizons, the encountering of scores of new ideas and meeting new people, would somehow allow me experience and more experience. It sounds incredible to look back on, but it’s true. I’d read Colin Wilson and it all somehow became clearer, all the strands of thought and desire entwining, giving hints of a way forward. Before I went to Watermouth I started to get obsessed with unlocking the mystery of what we are here for and why. My thought was, ‘go to University, it will all happen there.’. . .

This intuition flung me to University with high expectations of what it was going to do for me; I discovered, with a kind of despair, that it didn’t change anything. I came to realise that the change must come from within me; I must Will it to happen. Now, having finished year one of a course which, if I’m ruthlessly honest, I don’t really enjoy, I find myself wondering what the hell I’m doing. I yearn for a change of some sort. I hop from tree to tree like a monkey in search of bigger and better pleasures, but I’m discovering that the pleasures are all ephemeral. Each time, I’m left only with the bare, ugly bones of what I’ve come for.

Perhaps I’m about to begin a lifetime of these empty struggles? I won’t ever find the ‘pot of gold’ because the pot of gold is an illusion. Could it be that this world of streets and cities and cars and fields, of laughter and tears and conversations, the occasional dark glimpses of deep despair but more often than not a mundane bustle and nothingness of feeling—could it be that this is the sum total of existence?

“Ought oughts are ought.” Where am I going? But all this is like so much coffee table philosophizing . . . I can’t accept that the questions I ask have no answers.


In the evening I couldn’t decide whether to go to Lee’s or to go see Athletic v. Caygill at Cardigan Park. I eventually opted for the latter. Dad and I met Rob and Carol inside the sparsely populated ground a bit before six. In the first half, Caygill were playing in red and yellow towards the Easterby End and looked the better side, but Athletic went closest to scoring in the opening minutes when Scarborough fired a shot in from a Bressler cross, which the goalie saved superbly. Athletic also had a shot cleared off the line with the Caygill ‘keeper beaten. At the other end, Nussey saved Easterby’s bacon a few times. Our best spell came with five successive corners and a couple of throw-ins nearly on the by-line which spurred the thin crowd to hoarse enthusiasm, but a red and yellow shirt headed away every time.

In the second half Caygill put on some pressure and it was desperate defense for Easterby. Right on the final whistle Nussey fumbled a cross and Scarborough headed it narrowly past his own post for a corner, but before it could be taken the referee blew for time. As we all surged for the exits the crowd seemed relieved; no one would’ve believed the home side had just been held 0-0. As we walked on for the cars, a large contingent of Caygill fans came flooding up a side road onto Lockley Lane but were chased away by an Easterby mob and the two groups continued rushing backwards and forwards shouting at one another until a police van arrived.

In the evening, Gromyko’s shame-faced defence of the Soviet downing of the Korean airliner riled Dad into a blazing mood and he adopted a look of fixed fury as Mum and I said that all sides were as bad. Dad: “That ruddy lot stink of death and evil,” he snarled.

Says Mum: “I’d love to have your mind which sees everything so black and white,” and Dad glares at her in angry bewilderment. . . .

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