Monday, May 21, 1984


I slept at Westdorgan Road last night, getting to bed after three, after a long discussion between Lindsey, Susie, Stu and I on the merits/demerits of learning a foreign language.

Lindsey and Susie opposed Stu and I who argued that learning another language is a waste of time. Susie said that learning other languages was necessary because there are just some concepts/ideas whose singular essence can’t be translated into English—she quoted the German ‘geist’ as an example. In ideal circumstances, I would have to agree with her, but practically speaking, we face more important tasks. We don’t have the time. We need to build upwards, towards knowledge, towards understanding, from a narrower linguistic base than those who are learning a foreign language. Susie’s German degree is giving her a broader base from which to attack the problem.

But why waste the time acquiring even more tools if you never have a chance to use them?

We also talked about how there’s no real provision for the stimulation of the imagination at University. Degree courses don’t take Creativity into account. It’s like going over old ground—there’s no room for true expression, and generally University is a factory unconcerned with the mental well-being or advancement of its inmates. It’s there to train them for jobs in the material world.

I got back to the Vicarage to find my electric fire gone, Alex wearing my clothes, and my records scattered about. I have to get away from here.

Alex and Gav sit in the former’s room with the ‘Aw What?’ types, watching television. I stay upstairs in my room. Ben has vanished again after a brief, one night sojourn in the Jervis ward of Watermouth General Hospital’s psychiatric unit and we haven’t seen nor heard sign of him in the last few days.

This morning I also attended my first Conflict and Consensus tutorial this term and I don’t know why I bothered. I simply sat glassy-eyed listening to the endless hyperbole around the subject of the 1948 Presidential Election, and reflecting on the unexpected knowledge (imparted by a fellow tutee) that Ian Pugh and Julian Banner hate one another’s guts. In my bag I had a letter to Mum and Dad that I’d written the night before at Westdorgan Road telling them I wanted to go to Calverdale with them next week.

Although the amount of work I have to do in the near future fills me with doubt about the wisdom of vanishing for a week, a little reshuffling of appointments makes it so that I can take that week without missing one tutorial. By the time I walked back through the evening streets of Watermouth hearing the lone cry of a gull so much like the call of curlews high in the hills, I was filled with a sudden and overwhelming pang of longing to be away, which just for a moment or two possessed me completely, like a passing shadow, but was gone when I turned my conscious mind to it.

Lee and I enjoy normalization of relations once more. Past incidents, if not quite forgotten, are never alluded to and we again behave as though nothing was ever wrong.

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