Saturday, September 17, 1983


Yesterday morning I was woken up by Mum, shouting that I had a letter. Claire had written back within two days.

She begins, “I really like receiving your letters—you’ve been in fact my most consistent correspondent.” She’s depressed and discontented with her social life (“what’s new?”) and she says that “the only thing lacking is male company, but then I’m very wary of men; you meet so many who think that they’re marvelous.” My lack of letters has stopped her getting in touch because she’d heard I found my Farnshaw friends “boring.” She says she thinks about me often and that “perhaps we could go somewhere?” It was scented too.

I was transported into ecstasies of speculation as I poured over this—I really am stupid. Jeremy says he can’t believe there hasn’t actually been anything between us; Lee says it was “obvious” she fancied me, and even Deborah brought her up the other night.

Do I misread the situation as badly as I did last May?

I spent most of the rest of Saturday in a bit of an odd, distant mood and I couldn’t stop thinking about her. God forbid that anyone should ever read this. I’m a fool, wrapped in my own rosy delusions. . . .

Anyway, Dad and Mum went blackberry picking and then Robert rolled up at eleven and he and I went to see Athletic. It was a pretty dismal game of football, scrappily played out in front of less than fifteen hundred people. Croft Perseverance went ahead early in the second half and we all felt that that was it. Relegation is in the air, and although Athletic equalised a few minutes from time, which cheered us a bit, I still think we could go down. Gavin Bressler was superb. The reaction to Athletic’s goal was more befitting of a vital Cup match—the crowd roared (well, as mightily as fifteen hundred can roar) and everyone leaped into the air in jubilation. Athletic are second from bottom.

At 7.30, Dad gave me a lift on to Jeremy’s, and on the way we picked up Steve Bates. Nick Gaunt, Tommy Whelan and Lee were all there when we arrived, and we quickly trooped out to the pub.

Earlier in the day Lee had rung me to tell me that he’d pulled off a “heist” of £60-worth of Kraft cheese slices (sixteen boxes) from Tesco and he wanted me to help him retrieve them from their hiding place in the warehouse yard; we decided to pull it off tonight, and so we furtively discussed it in the pub while Jeremy entertained Steve and Nick.

Nick is a friendless, tie-all-the-time workaholic who like Jeremy goes to Uni. at Bristol. He has a ‘nervous disorder’ that probably accounts for his isolation, but he’s also very conservative and I could see him casting looks in our direction. Steve was his usual wooden self, coming out with his quiet ‘one-of-the-lads’ routine, playing the part of the bitter-swilling student. While Jeremy and co. moved on, Lee and I hurried up to Tesco for the cheese.

I was nervous at first as we slipped round the back of the supermarket to the warehouse yard, flitting anxiously across each pool of orange light and hugging the safety of the black shadows. Lee quickly uncovered the loot and I helped him carry it to the hidden darknesses at the back of the building, where we split each case and jammed the packets of cheese slices into a bag, cramming our coat pockets full. We walked swiftly back to Jeremy’s house and met up with the others. If we’d been caught I’d have fallen apart completely.

We all rounded the evening off in The George Inn—Nick had gone home—and then Jeremy, Lee, Steve and Tommy and I went back to Jeremy’s.

Steve and Jeremy started discussing politics. Steve's a member of the SDP and Amnesty International. He told me he’s sent the odd letter off to the odd dictatorship telling them he thinks it unfair that they treat their political prisoners like scum. He does it, he says, “to placate his conscience.” He and I got into a huge argument that ranged from quiet debate to impassioned mudslinging. In usual hasty fashion I slagged him off for being “sanctimonious” and blind and he in turn brought down accusations on my head, calling me “negative, destructive and lazy” and telling me I was the “most negative person” he knows.

It was a strange out of focus argument, much to his (and my) bewilderment. There was no structure to what I was saying.

But I warmed to my theme and said that his frigging about with letters and M.O.R. politics was just an extension of his desire for power and desire to placate his greedy ego—he uses these torture victims to make himself feel good. He said that if he even fractionally aided in the release of just one person, then he’d have made two people happy. “And that can’t be a bad thing . . .” Humanising capitalism?

Shit! He infuriated me with his so-decent middle way, and his bland liberal conscience and I raged emptily at him, making Jeremy laugh with my wordy metaphors. Steve got very angry when I called torture an abstraction: he misinterpreted me – I meant it could only be an abstraction to him and me – I don’t know what point I was pushing. He snorted contemptuously when I said that ultimately I wanted to be “content & to know everything”: “You’re all talk,” he said—and as he shoved his reddening face close to mine, I felt utterly contemptible for railing so futilely against everyone and everything. He even accused me of being completely nasty to him whenever I’ve been around him, which annoyed me because it’s utterly untrue.

Is being a member of the SDP and Amnesty International and writing token protest letters to Pinochet so wonderfully constructive? I called him blind. “Name one constructive thing in your life” he whinged triumphantly, and I couldn’t (I am positive about things deep inside!). Do I really sound so negative and destructive?

Meanwhile, Billy had vanished unnoticed and Lee had fallen asleep in the other room. Steve left too, storming off into the rainy darkness with his mental image of me no doubt underlined. This annoyed me and I suppose my pride was hurt. Jeremy and I talked long into the night and I grew to feel hopelessly cheap and empty. Jeremy says he feels the same as me.

Again I’m forced to pen those hated words; “I don’t know what to think.” My whole life is before me and all I can do is moan and despair to people who don’t understand what on earth I’m on about, while Time gallops on.

I slept on Jeremy’s bedroom floor feeling unhappy, thinking of Lee asleep so soundly on the sofa downstairs and wondering if he’s ever troubled like this.

No comments:

Google Analytics Alternative