Wednesday, October 31, 1984

Pages be witness

I slept most of today, rising in the dark at to stumble across to Andrew St. and the newsagent. At this point, Lee and I experienced a trough of frustration at our mutual decline into stagnation. We were tired and bitter at ourselves and our own weakness and enslavement to the Present.

Pages be witness: another dayweekmonthlife like all the rest, time squandered in self-perpetuating torment at my spineless existence.

Eyeless, brainless, no thought, no future, no work.

I’m driven to the conclusion that desperate measures are all that can rescue me from the stinking pit of MOMENT, and yet I’m simultaneously overwhelmed by the hopelessness of my case. I’m trying hard not to use words inappropriately. I don’t want to exaggerate, distort or paint an inaccurate picture, and I appreciate how easy it is to let dramatic words and phrases swim into mind’s view, and yet . . .

My plight is serious.

I’ve attempted nothing in the way of work, and the work that I have done is dissatisfying and infuriating. My essay on chance has preoccupied me in an indirect way for several weeks. The incidental moments and passing frames of mind have, with neglect, blurred now into an indistinct ribbon of interminable afternoons and nights. It’s impossible for me to pick out specific instants and dwell on them, in my usual fashion.

The particulars have gone and all I’m left with are the generalities . . . and as my life ‘in general’ has no structure or purpose at the moment I’ve got little to write about other than my work and housing situation . . .

Tuesday, October 30, 1984

Scourge of Britain’s youth

Routine: Masquerades, Barry there with his girlfriend (“I’ve got to go now” whenever he sees her alone).

Afterwards, Del and John finally went round to Broad Street and Lee, Lindsey, Stu and I went along too. Del and John subjected Barry to an hour-long verbal assault for his association with Jason and co. and his indifference towards what Turney kept referring to as his ‘true friends.’ I kept quiet, listening to the pointless wrangling and quite enjoying it. Then we all retired to Maynard Gardens to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween III on Ian’s video. 

Endless afternoons and evenings at Westdorgan Road—TV, kitchen, collective apathy, Boredom with a capital B. More drugs tonight after Maynard Gardens—the scourge of Britain’s youth. 

I’m tired. My eyes are heavy and my mind isn’t feeling up to much. The effort required to put thoughts into words is too great at this late hour. I find myself rereading things I wrote a year ago and looking back regretfully at the ease with which I seem to have lost a whole way of thought/writing.

It’s slipped away.

I am £80 overdrawn, with £50 in the Building Society, and another £70 on my limit at the bank available. Here I am, 20, time flying by. Two years is such a long time at 16 but now, it goes before I’m even ready to savour the moment.

Monday, October 29, 1984

Tits on a bull

Lee and I (the old formula over again) ventured once more to the abattoir amidst the skinned cows’ heads and cheerful slaughter men, because Lee’s latest piece (to be titled “Adam and Eve” and to be unveiled at a second year's exhibition) demands a cow’s cunt and bull’s equivalent which he will sew onto pillows:

“Could I have a cow’s genitals, please?”

“Only bulls have genitals, you prick. Is it the tits you want?” 

I loitered in the fresh air waiting for Lee and at length he emerged with a Londis bag full of still steaming fat and bloody flesh, uterus n’ all. Such tasks are becoming routine. He wants to create shock and confusion by being brutal and inconsistent, and a recent tutorial of his began the trend, although by all accounts his shifting position and constant U-turns came across less as brutal inconsistency and more as simple defeatism.

His next scheme is to create a disgusting room, à la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, complete with bloodied walls and, instead of a door, a curtain of human teeth. 

We at Westdorgan Road view the goings-on at the Art College with cynicism, and I think it does Lee good to be with us, otherwise he’s in danger of getting sucked in by the incessant pseudery, posing and bullshit that seems to be part and parcel of that College, and thereby losing all perspective. The trash which passes as ‘art’ in that place is incredible, and there doesn’t seem to be any critical faculty operating in either tutors or students. Any old rubbish is OK so long as it’s accompanied by an appropriate piece of self-justifying bullshit. No one is willing to be thorough or self-critical. 

At least I just joined the record library, which is something I suppose. I took out Stravinky's The Soldier’s Tale and Charles Ives' Pictures of New England and Symphony No. 2. 

The vocabulary is lacking.

Sunday, October 28, 1984

24-hour lethargy people

How do I start?

I feel helpless and disgusted with myself for my laziness and blinkered attitudes. The thought of these blank pages is enough to fill me with a leaden sense of my own futile striving and hopelessly lazy temperament, whereas once I would’ve just picked up a pen and just started to write . . .

It’s almost as if I see myself as an empty shell, devoid of any colour or depth . . . This household has a grip on me, and I can’t shake it off. Brain like jelly, words wafting by, just beyond reach. 

Individuality is eroded in this environment of 24-hour lethargy, chronic inability to rise from bed in the morning, interminable TV hours red-eyed till close-down. My work suffers, and I’ve missed two successive tutorials for Harrison’s European Modernism course, for which I hate myself (the course is actually rewarding), and I’ve still to finish one of Faulkner’s novels let alone the dozen or so we should have completed by now.

I keep shoring myself up with the familiar, weary promises: “Always tomorrow . . .” 

I submerge myself in the collective nihilism of our little world here at Westdorgan Road and I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to be alone and to read and to feel body-mind-hand suffused with power and shivering excitement at an idea.

I partially blame my cell-like room, although admittedly my lifestyle can hardly be called austere, but I still think that the absence of any private space into which I can retreat occasionally is responsible for my steady decline.

Saturday, October 27, 1984

You don’t look the type

I’m dreading the Letter (or the ‘phone call) with the verdict on my future. Just now the telephone rang and I went to answer it with jangling nerves and a thudding heart . . . but it was only Andrew ringing to talk about the match.

Things are better left hidden and unsaid.

 Last night Lee called in at Westdorgan Road and he and I took the bus into town and went to the Underground. It was full of first year students and I almost felt pity for them all having so long left. I talked briefly with one, a Poly student named Jim who seemed surprised when I said I was at Watermouth.

“You don’t look the type” he told me, which I took as a compliment. 

Afterwards Lee, Barry and I went to Maynard Gardens. These days Gav’s room is always full of people coming and going. While we were there several soul-boys came and settled down, acting very familiar with Gav. His room presented a sordid sight; foil, wads of dirty cotton wool, used syringes, and Rizla papers littered the floor, all the seedy paraphernalia of the drug culture. Ian got quite carried away by it all and started talking about “jacking up” and “dorking out.” 

Barry too is always coming out with drug clichés, endlessly trotting out all the miserable words and phrases (“Chasing the dragon,” “skag,” ‘Blow,” “crash-out”). It’s difficult to believe he takes it all so seriously, but evidently he does.

This afternoon we were at Broad Street, in Jason’s room, and it made me realise again how much I despise that whole type (for it is a definite type that’s about these days, a newer version of the old hippy dope smoking, pacifistic, ‘Bongs-not-Bombs’ formula).

Lee and Stu and I amuse ourselves by parodying the sort of “it’d be good on acid” type comment that they’re always coming out with and which sums up their outlook completely. And sure enough, today as Barry and Jason discussed the relative merits of music vis–à–vis painting in terms of its impact on the audience, Barry declared that music is much more effective and Jason came back with, “yeah, but if go to a modern art gallery while you’re tripping . . .”

I should have got up and walked out right then.

Friday, October 26, 1984


Lindsey is leaving University at long last, after constant trouble over her lack of work and non-attendance. She’s away at the moment, staying with a friend in Swansea, and has been since yesterday morning. I think she’ll leave Watermouth completely.

She was down about it last week, saying she feels as though she’s let her mother down. This dropping out of higher education is a congenital Aukin affliction from what she said.

I think she’s made the right decision.

Stu has escaped being stopped from taking one of the units of his degree by the skin of his teeth; he had to plead with his tutor to be allowed to continue. He’s home in Basildon this weekend. 

Thursday, October 25, 1984


This morning PC Essex, the arresting officer from the Great October LSD Caper called at Maynard Gardens to tell Lee that all charges against him had been dropped and that Stu and I’s files were on the Superintendent’s desk; he’s now deciding what to do with us.

So I called at the police station on Michael Street and saw PC Essex who told me that, in his opinion, I’ll be lucky to get off with a caution and will probably go to court on the charge of possession. He thinks the charge of supply will be dropped because “you’re obviously not a pusher.” He never mentioned Stu, so perhaps he’ll escape punishment.

I haven’t worried much about the pending charges, and it’s only over the last week that I’ve been assailed by bad dreams, and as I stood listening with nodding head and a fixed expression of gloom I was told not to let it ruin the rest of my term. I got the impression that PC Essex had every sympathy with me—as he should if my story were true.

It is difficult to pick up the pieces of shattered continuity. There’s always the “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow” and never the actual process of sitting still and writing. It’ll be difficult to attain past levels.

I’ve noticed an element of self-consciousness and fear creeping into my thoughts when I direct them towards these pages, as if I’m unsure of how to write, or scared of speaking ‘unnaturally’ or ‘falsely’.

I’ve led myself into the trap of allowing bookish pretensions to dominate the content of what is written.

Wednesday, October 24, 1984

Too much

At this point, the remaining slog towards release from University seems almost too much.

My work has gone from bad to worse; I’ve missed two tutorials for Palfreyman’s Faulkner course, although my other one goes OK. No essays yet. At least I got my extended essay in on time, which was an up-all-night-before job.

None of this affects me deep down. I continue this ‘charade’ of education for Mum and Dad’s sake alone.

Tuesday, October 23, 1984


Barry has a girlfriend, an A-level student who he met at one of his band’s appearances.

I saw her tonight at Masquerades but I have never spoken to her. “She goes to all the trendiest parties,” says Lindsey. By all accounts Barry is very happy at the moment and he told John Turney that the first weeks of this term have been incomparably better than any term last year.

Monday, October 22, 1984

Cruel joke

Consciousness is a curse, a cruel joke played on mankind. The ability to abstract

Sunday, October 21, 1984


At three today Lee and I investigated a couple of apparently empty houses standing side by side on Goodwood Road, beside Dee’s Diner.

As Lee stopped to peer through the letter box and I sidled conspicuously along the pavement, a neighbor shouted and we fled, adopting an air of contrived nonchalance as we did so. It’s difficult at present, and we haven’t yet recovered momentum after the Sutton Road setback.

The other day I asked Ian about moving in, trying to pin him to a definite commitment, but all he would say was, “I don’t feel like it” and left it at that. This left me feeling frustrated and helpless at others’ apparent lack of effort or will to move. Lee scarcely ever mentions the housing situation although he knows that Gav and co. know about Mrs. Coldman-Hicks’s death and will soon be scouring the streets for available properties. It’s hard getting rid of the disappointment of last time. The more I think about it the worse it gets.

It’s one of those familiar and by now routine Sundays. As usual, I’ve trudged to the newsagents and bought the papers and in kitchen or toilet or in my cell poured at length over the league tables, drinking cup-after-cup of tea as the day has slipped by.

Turney turned up as per usual at eight or so, continuing the trend of the past four Sundays. He’s intolerable at times and fuck knows why Lindsey spends time with him; he’s a real manipulator and scarcely seems to care for anyone, least of all women who he sees as good for a fuck and little else. Yet although I dislike his presence at one moment, I find myself laughing the next.

As expected he was mouthing off about the Barry / Z troubles, and he seems to live and breathe this episode in our lives—it’s all he talks about—Barry and Z’s wall, the way we are “showing those cunts,” etc., etc. It grows pretty tiresome after three or four hours. He told me Barry thought I was ignoring him yesterday afternoon in town when we’d all accidently crossed one another’s paths because I’d rushed off to see the football results; this he took as a slight—according to Turney at least.

Lee’s here too. He came to the Univ. library with me this afternoon and I’d intended staying until it closed to do some work for my Faulkner tutorial, but nothing achieved and so I returned to Meadspike via Dee’s Diner at five.

I phoned Andrew to arrange a visit in the next few weeks and fulfilled the Sunday ritual of TV and chicken madras, then bed.

I’m looking forward to continuing my current dabblings with the idea of chance (Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle etc., “nature as fundamentally indeterministic”), psychology (abnormal and otherwise), subliminal and waking suggestion, dream control, etc. . . .

I’m collecting all my cuttings together into a scrapbook and want to write seriously, this a view to the future. I have several boxes of newspapers waiting to be sifted through.

Saturday, October 20, 1984

Worse than useless

Narrative description or introspective monologue? I need to choose.

Del has been back in Watermouth the last few days and stayed here at Westdorgan Road last night, sharing a double bed with Stu. He’s all but recovered from his phobic anxiety depersonalization disorder of last summer and seems now to enjoy talking about it to anyone who’ll listen.

It was interesting discussing my LSD panic attack with him and he thinks I was suffering from a perfect case of temporary depersonalization, hence the unreality, deadness and isolation I felt then and then the other week, when under LSD again.

Lee called round here briefly to see if I was going to go with him to the crypt down Smith Square, this after we discovered the other day that one of the large wooden gates was unpadlocked. He seemed distant and left after a little while . . . 

Tonight Del drove Stu, Lindsey and I down into town and we picked up Turney on our way to the Lancaster. Enemies of the State throbbed away upstairs but we didn’t see Barry once and were loathe to fork out £1.50 just for the privilege. Del managed to see him and Barry promised to be down in five minutes to see us all, but we waited twenty minutes and were finally thrown out at closing time and still he hadn’t shown up.

I am finding little success in my attempts to overcome this great block in the way of work, writing and thinking. Instead of fighting it I’m content to swan about lazily, watch TV and sit in the kitchen doing nothing.

No books read, nothing worthy recorded or even in my mind. I feel completely ordinary at this moment in my life, a feeling worse than uselessness.

Friday, October 19, 1984

Usual fictions

We had a houseful at Westdorgan Road.; Mo, Shawn and Penny, and me, Lindsey, Stu and Gareth. Mo was rescued overnight by firemen when the flat below hers on Stoneways Road went up in flames.

We had a big meal and then drank wine and a bottle of whisky. John Turney turned up on our doorstep and Lee too and so we all went up to the Westdorgan and got pleasantly pissed.

Turney and Lindsey and I were up until 3 talking about translating our dislike of the Broad Street crew into violent action. We got quite carried away by the idea. John is spending the night in Lindsey’s room, probably on the floor, although my mind invents its usual fictions and sordid scenarios.

Thursday, October 18, 1984

A poem of incoherence and absurdity

Lee reenacted Act One from Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry at the Art College. He made a puppet theatre and puppets - Pa Ubu was a piece of Lee’s shit, Ma Ubu an egg, MacNure and his merry men sticks painted red and white.

I helped shout the lines.

I never did decide about moving back into Maynard Gardens and now Damion and Tony—a caveman friend of Gav’s and Gav’s brother respectively—are established there. So I’m stuck in Lindsey’s old room at Westdorgan Road, all 5’ x 9 feet of it; barely big enough for a bed.

Wednesday, October 17, 1984


A stifling air of apathy is abroad at the moment. My own days are sliding into a stagnant rut, and I can’t seem to do anything about it.

Heady thoughts are a thing of the past.

It’s as if I’ve suddenly grown very impatient with certain people, no longer willing to tolerate them with easygoing comments. I should think I’m alienating quite a few people at the moment; the crew at No. 38 and at Gaveston Street, Lindsey, the people at Mo’s flat (who’ve never liked L. and I since Lee’s behaviour at their party).

I can’t help feeling at times that there is something wrong with me, although I don’t think there is. It’s nothing that can’t be overcome.

We've made a promise to John to be down at Masquerades again tonight, but at this moment I haven’t the stomach for it.

Tuesday, October 16, 1984


A night out at Masquerades, and the evening turned very drunken and loud and oafish, Lee upholding his reputation for mayhem by dancing around in a grubby thermal vest, crossed braces and with a Rizla packet stuck to his forehead.

Lindsey and Mo were both a little disgusted at what they called our “laddish” behaviour, Mo so much so that that she scratched both Lee and I with her fingernails in protest. We were all drunk and the night degenerated into wrestling and throwing empty beer bottles at one another. As we said goodbye, Mo kissed me on the cheek and apologised for attacking me without warning earlier.

Barry and Z. turned up today and Barry again tried to get me to apologise to the latter for the wall incident but I refused; Turney is heading down there later full of the expectation of some sort of ‘scene’ with Z. and co., who he dislikes as strongly as I do. Things are uneasy at the moment.

Barry tries to pretend nothing is wrong but we all feel he’s abandoned us completely for the Broad Street crew.

Monday, October 15, 1984


My frustration right now is difficult to convey.

This morning Lee, Ian and Philip went as planned to Sutton Road to occupy the empty No. 39: the front door was locked, and so they climbed in through an open basement window, only to find five people sleeping in a first floor room who told them, “We’re squatters, man.”

I turned up at half-one after my Faulkner class to be greeted by strange faces staring down at me from an upper-storey window. When I found Lee I learned the worst. The punky five-some had moved in on Thursday, two days after we had been in the building, and had beaten us by a matter of days. They told Lee that they hadn’t been able to believe their luck in finding an empty house with an unlocked front door—it’s sickening even to write this—and so Lee and co. retreated in confusion and anger.

I couldn’t believe it and even now find it difficult to stomach. The horrible impotence and frustration I feel at our incredible bad luck is almost too much, and when I found out I really could have cried tears of anger and bitterness—fourth time unlucky. The gods have really got it in for us it seems.

Lee and I drifted around town in a daze, my mind a blur, just disbelief at this turn of fate and circumstances.

Robin Coldwater-Hicks is visiting the Grey House soon to tell Gav and co. that his mother’s dead and he’s selling the house, so we have to unearth another occupiable building soon or we’ll have half-a-dozen rivals also looking.

I know the people who moved into Sutton Road are innocent of any malicious intent or intrigue and that we were just very unlucky, but I can’t help feeling very bitter and these feelings are vented in the direction of Alex, Gav, Jason and their type; I won’t try and explain these feelings in any logical or reasonable fashion because they can’t be justified in any rational way, so I won’t try.

Too much arrogance, too much pretentiousness, too many students, too many post-punk hippies, too many young-people-with-hairstyles . . . Sometimes I walk round town with a permanent sneer on my face.

I won’t try and be consistent in my attitudes.

Sunday, October 14, 1984

Everything and nothing

Yesterday evening  I took the train into town to Lee’s and took LSD with he and Ian: collective wildness, hysteria, uncontrollable laughter at the television, mystification over the plots of two films, the last of which a sordid tale of a man who wants to murder his family, which he later does but only after numerous sexual encounters, five in a bed, etc., sex on the N. York metro...

We tried an after-image experiment with Lee’s camera flash unit and the results were different than what we’d expected. Because LSD increases the image retention capability of the retina, we’d assumed that the illuminated scene glimpsed during the flash would remain imprinted on our retinas, gradually fusing and changing. Instead we found that even in complete darkness everything was a riot of mind-generated colours, lights, and blossoming shapes, so much so that I couldn’t even see to move about and so ended up spreadeagled on the floor in my pleasure, much to Ian and Lee’s amusement.

I was a bit anxious lest I think myself into the same state of panic as a couple of weeks ago, with the same thought receding back into the very centre of my brain until all that remained was a black nothing. I had intimations that loss of control was imminent, and I had to fight these off to such an extent that at one point I was struggling to keep calm, at which point I persuaded Ian and Lee to tramp purposefully with me round the deserted sludgy streets of Watermouth, to King’s Road and back through the town centre. We passed an undertaker’s, the coffins piled up as we passed, surreal but real. Everything seemed very sordid. 

Back at Lee's we were endlessly fascinated by books of Escher prints, a book on the history of the Nazis and one on skinheads, but as the drug wore off we became less active and sank into long periods of subdued silence, lying on the bed or on the floor, our minds alive with “everything and nothing,” as Lee put it.

Coming down is a depressing and disillusioning experience; life seems hopeless.

Everything looks cheap and shabby. I felt very isolated and empty inside, utterly remote and alone in that black place inside my skull, and therein lies the panic and the fear. At these moments, my mind turns into a simple receptor unable to filter the unceasing bombardment of sights and sounds and information for even a second, and so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, like a drowning man must feel when he slips beneath the surface for the final time.

Not even shutting my eyes brought respite, for my brain was working at light speed and the thoughts and ideas crackled on and on, seemingly forever. It was quite an unpleasant sensation. To maintain an even keel and to keep my mind pinned down until the danger of it flying off at a tangent was passed, I pushed myself into single minded tasks, looking at pictures, reading books and talking about specific events or memories.

I went to bed at five thirty and woke up at half four this afternoon feeling wasted, but I have a tutorial with Dr. Harrison tomorrow and we're discussing Kafka’s The Trial, so I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening reading the book in bed.

The dangers of LSD are manifest and I feel uncertain about taking it in the future. I’m sure the fears I expressed above will never be far away, always lurking in some corner of my mind, ready to terrorise me.

“You can’t beat a good strong dose of normality,” said Lee when we’d woken up, and in a way he’s right.

Saturday, October 13, 1984


At lunchtime yesterday we were on campus sitting in the Cellar and we caught a glimpse of the headline in the Herald—“BRIGHTON BOMBING!” A picture showed the Grand Hotel, where the Conservative Party Conference is being held, its elegant façade ripped open.

So as Gareth has his Mum’s car, we decided to drive all the way over to Brighton to join the silent gawping crowds thronging the police barriers. The beach was cordoned off in a hundred yard stretch in front of the Hotel and so we got as close as we could and took photographs with Gareth’s camera, posed smiling before the ruins.

When we got back to Watermouth, Stu and Lindsey and I went into town for a drink at Blair’s Wine Bar and then the Blue Cap.

A near fight broke out at the latter between the affronted frump-faced bar owner and a whisky sodden oldster, a small pissed Polack whose threats sounded ridiculous from so lightweight a frame. “Drink up and get out!” yelled the stone-faced owner repeatedly, his eyes darting and hard.

Lee’s Mum has written a letter to Mrs. Coldwater-Hicks’ son telling him of the unspeakable conditions at the Grey House. “It’s like a squat” she writes with great (ironic) perceptiveness, ignorant of the true situation. . . Lee says he’d been telling Jeremy about hatchets thru’ walls, etc. at the Grey House, and Ma Hoy overheard him and basically made Lee agree to her writing the letter. Not thinking too much of it he meekly signed it too, but realised with horror later the possible consequences: i.e., Coldwater-Hicks visits, sees the shaven-headed squalor of the ground floor and basement, kicks everyone out, and when Gav subsequently discovers it was Lee who spilled the beans he comes after him with a shotgun, etc.

But luckily for Lee, other events have now rendered this unlikely, for Mrs. Coldwater-Hicks has now died and C-H Jnr. wants to get control of her estate and sell the house, which will take months. So Lee is planning on moving into Sutton Road knowing it’s for real this time, which gives the scheme a fair chance of success. When he had Maynard Gardens to fall back on his heart was never in it.

He's also bought four tabs of LSD from Gav, each with a cat’s face printed on the front, part (Gav says) of a consignment of a thousand posted from Amsterdam. I’m apprehensive after what happened, but a little curious too; I wonder how my mind will react this time.

Will the same thing happen again?

I’m no longer seized by enthusiasm for the tasks at hand and I recall with nostalgia the pacing and tingling excitement at the implications of a train of thought or an idea. I’m scared that such things have passed in the flush of ‘adolescence.’

No drama anymore.

Friday, October 12, 1984


Last night Lee, Ian and I traveled up to London to see Mantra by Karl Heinz Stockhausen at the Barbican. This was my first visit to the Barbican; it’s an impressive—if ugly—building, a bit like an unnecessarily extravagant Arndale Centre of the Arts, all concrete curves and spacious galleries, orange décor, and brick corridors.

The concert featured two pianos and sound projection, the piano notes synthesized to sound off-key. It was all too fragmented to hold my attention for long, but there were a couple of highlights. Lee fell asleep part way through the performance, then woke up to tell me in a hoarse whisper that he’d got cramp in his arms. The girl sitting next to him laughed.

We were cynical about all the Guardian readers there. I’m finding it too easy to be cynical and so I posture about virtually everything.

Lindsey is very distant and is in one of her less accessible phases at present, more often than not retreating to her room or sitting very quietly in the kitchen. I hardly know her anymore and find it incredible I once thought us so close,

Old routines resurface. Gareth has gone to stay with girlfriend Caroline. Stu is next door attempting to appreciate Beethoven and reading a book about cosmology.

Thursday, October 11, 1984

No yoke

In the early hours, Lee and I talked about an Act, a moment of will, an overcoming through which we'll cast off boredom and woolly headedness like dead skin.

We're both like-minded on the subject and I for one am sick of talking and writing about it. We’ve both fallen into a deep rut and every task seems to require an immense effort and usually defeats us (Lee describes it as feeling as if a yoke has been slipped over his shoulders when he’s not looking). This is Enemy Number One, the Big Disease, like the Plague only worse because it eats away its victims on the inside.

I trudge on through day after day of grey routine with blank mind and knotted heart wanting a discipline, needing a discipline to take away the uselessness and knock this cotton wool stuffing from behind my eyes.

Only occasionally do I surface to give notice of my anger and frustrations in these few scattered and ill-wrought lines.

Wednesday, October 10, 1984

Cleft stick

Last night, Ian, Lee and Philip and I investigated our probable new squat, the empty No. 39 Sutton Road.

We were surprised to find the front door unlocked. The house is OK, three floors and a basement in quite good condition, a little plaster and wallpaper fallen away here there, a large kitchen, all the rooms bare and austere with big drafty windows.

The sheer effort involved in moving in struck me forcibly, perhaps for the first time—the uncomfortable nights shivering in cold rooms, waking up with no running water, unable to have a wash, all routine dislocated. Just like at the vicarage, we are all starting completely from scratch, except Lee who has the furniture from Maynard Gardens. An empty, unfurnished and unheated house is a miserable prospect, and neither Lee nor I are looking forward to it, but perhaps me least of all.

I’m on a cleft stick, not wanting to go forward, loathe to stay where I am. . . .

My frustrations at myself and my surroundings smother all thought and reduce me to a state of abject boredom. Today I’ve let daylight slip by and done nothing with my time.  I did start typing up my extended essay on the Beats, which I'll have to turn in (late) tomorrow. It’s too easy to blame circumstances, but circumstances do play a large part in the paralyzing malaise I find myself in at present.

My mind’s in a straitjacket and I can’t write—I’m searching but the words aren’t there and the pages feel cramped and uninspiring and horribly tainted by my boredom and disinterest. What to do? Perhaps really I know—with a conviction I should probably act upon—that I’ve exhausted the possibilities for this diary-format. For these diary-words to become words of more lasting appeal then the diary-format must go, or the thrust of my efforts should be directed elsewhere, and this be left for what it is: a book of events, and of people, and of other outside things, things that impinge on the inside, instead of vice versa.

I will carry on as I have been for a while to come, trying to capture something of past ‘glories’.

Tuesday, October 9, 1984


On campus continuing the charade of trying to write my essay on the Beats.

In the evening Lee and I went to the Broadway bar for three cocktails with Mo and Lindsey, a £7 touch. Mo and Lindsey talked about their parents’ expectations regarding their sex-lives, that they remain virgins or at least maintain a very low profile.

Later more words on the Beats. . . .

Monday, October 8, 1984

Fur coats and bow ties

Yesterday fairly routine, just as I’d expected, and later Stu and I trekked out to the Indian takeaway on Wickbourne Road. We went to the Westdorgan at nine, and I was in bed by 1 a.m. . . .

Went to University at one, a tutorial, and so it begins again, this weekly bind of self-recrimination, baulking at the boredom entailed in reading Faulkner—so dull. Then into town and Lee’s for a cup of tea.

P. Monmouth told me he was “going to be an artist” in the commercial sense of the word, making big money selling artworks to the gallery fraternity, the fur coats and bow ties who queue nightly at places like the Barbican. Lee has hopes of doing the same with his 360-degree pinhole photography. I will make my fortune writing hardcore porno novels.

Later Lee and I partook of £2.50-worth of sulphate and the buzz we felt walking along the seafront gave way to leaden-limbed torpor and an overwhelming fatigue by the time we got back to Westdorgan Road.

Sunday, October 7, 1984


It’s a routine Sunday afternoon—fading light, Bullseye on TV and no doubt a curry later, the shadow of tomorrow’s new term never far from my thoughts. I’ve been watching a Greta Garbo film, The Fall and Rise of Susan Lennox. Athletic have beaten Holmeshaw Vale 5-1.

I am in Gareth's room, the fire is on and the dusk is drawing in. He's due back any time, although I have a sneaky idea that he may not bother. I have four-and-a-half thousand words of an extended essay on the “interpretation of the Beats as a social phenomenon” to invent and type up and until Wednesday to do it. I have put it off and put it off but now it can't be avoided.

Term starts tomorrow: I haven’t done any work for that, let alone my exam commitment Stu has two exams on Tuesday and Thursday, Barry one exam and a dissertation. Lindsey hasn’t even attempted her dissertations. She seems resigned to being kicked out.

John Turney was round here earlier full of his verbal victory over Z. and co. the other night. “I hate that lot,” etc. I suppose this is his ‘justification’ for smashing four holes in Z’s wall. Lee was here too, remorseful, and he keeps suggesting we make amends, presumably by mending the damage.

JT has an envious ability to talk to people and to strike at their very centre, pinning them at the end of his verbal fork. He does this to me all the time. Every time now when he’s here he slips in references to Lindsey fucking Jason which make her visibly writhe and curl inside. 

Saturday, October 6, 1984


It’s 12:37 p.m. on a sunny, cold afternoon and in a minute I’ll catch a bus into town and get drunk.

I feel I’ve lost an overall view of things, that sense of a continuous day-and-night, day-and-night life unrolling from each week to month and year. All that feels gone. The void separating Now from Then will always remain unfilled, and the last two months feel full of emptiness and untold things.

It’s a pity I can’t keep up with my idealistic expectations for these words, but in a way their inner silence on the essentials reflect my state of being—I’m rushing into the last months of University. This chapter is coming to an end and I’m eager to be through to the light at the other side. From this vantage point I see next June onwards in the most optimistic terms.

New beginnings, and just a minor hiccup in my strivings and now I’m on my way again.

I rang home to ask Robert if he’d got his record and Mum told me that Sean Barker’s seventeen year old brother Stephen died the other day of some mysterious illness which began innocently as a cold.

Friday, October 5, 1984


I watched Barry’s band at the Cellar and afterwards I fell into conversation with Rowan Morrison, who I’ve not spoken to for a year or more.

She’s adopted a decadent ‘twenties look—ankle-length fur coat, matching fur hat, flapper hair, cigarette smoked elegantly, head held back superciliously . . . We talked all evening and she invited me back to her room on Avebury Street where she lives alone on the second floor.

We were up talking until the early hours and I slept on her floor. 

Thursday, October 4, 1984

Activities, etc.

This morning, Lee and I went back over to Barry’s feeling a little shame-faced. Barry was in the kitchen.

“I don’t care who pays for it as long as it’s paid for.”

We’re planning a reconnaissance of a potential new squat on Sutton Road; it looks as if it could be a worthwhile proposition. Lee, Ian, Philip Monmouth (Lee’s mate from Easterby) and I are planning on moving in soon. We've found out that No. 39 Sutton Road is no longer on the electoral register and according to the canvasser’s reports from the next door neighbor, has been “nigh derelict” for a year. So, the newspaper and the neighbours will get another ‘squat’ and I hopefully will have a room of reasonable potential at long last.

Not since Jervis Terrace days of March have I been anywhere near settled. Perhaps my lack of interest with this diary is a result of this nearly a year’s drifting? I was thinking about how little I actually read, because I can’t remember the last time I read a book from cover-to-cover with the sort of avid enthusiasm that saw me consume over fifteen hundred pages of Colin Wilson last spring. At least then I had some sort of goal, or more correctly, a perspective from which to look at my self and my activities, etc. I felt I had some sort of definition and clarity about what I was doing.

Now there’s nothing except a deadening blank-brained struggle to snatch words from thin air and translate this muddy headedness into some kind of meaning. Sometimes the impossibility of ever gleaning anything of worth from the reams of paper I’ve covered with this diary strikes me so forcibly I could give up on the spot. It’s drudgery to keep going. All the doubts I’ve ever had on this score rise up and destroy any confidence I might have that I’m capable. I keep hearing Ms. Hirst saying “It’s sad that you don’t do any writing for yourself.” At moments like this I doubt I could even write a decent letter. The very effort of beginning is the problem, and dwarfs me.

I can’t imagine the satisfaction to be gained from living a life of wordlessness about yourself, about others, about the world. Because, apart from the memory, what is there to say the day just gone has ever been? Things done and forgotten, lost for always and not even a glimpse of them captured in words.

‘Writer’s Block’? Ha Ha.

Wednesday, October 3, 1984


Lee, Ian, and I spent the afternoon drifting aimlessly about Watermouth; at a junk shop I bought a PVC overcoat and a stuffed canary in a box.

Back at Maynard Gardens we degenerated into a frenzy of infantilism—screaming, stamping our feet and “giggling” as Ian put it.

In the evening, minus Ian, we were on our way to check out a potential squat on Sutton Road when we ran into John Turney who was coming up East Street. He overwhelmed us, swept us up and, almost unwillingly, we ended up in the Frigate. Lee slipped into bored silence. John suggested we go and “wind Barry up,” and as our earlier mood of mass hysteria was still affecting us, we were amenable.

So, after visiting an off-licence and buying a bottle of lemonade and vodka, we made our way to Broad Street.

The house appeared empty. We screamed loudly for Barry to come down for such a long time that the curtains next door began to twitch and we could see irate householder watching us and (no doubt) phoning the police. We waved goodbye and went back to try Gaveston Street, but that too was dark and deserted. Lee climbed in through an open window and we sat around in there for twenty minutes or so; for some reason, Turney pissed in a milk bottle and put washing up liquid in a can of beans. This was the pervading mood. He was enjoying himself, saying he hadn’t had a laugh like this for ages.

Back to Broad Street, taking with us a tricolour flag we’d found at Elaine and Paula’s.

The neighbour was further enraged, but we found Barry’s door open. For half-an-hour we created mayhem in the empty rooms, climbing up into the loft and running up and down the stairs. Turney was out of control; he kicked several big holes in the wall to add to the two put there at Z.’s party. We hung the flag from Barry’s window and then went to the Shelter and got pissed and went home, forgetting about all these events until an angry Z., with Barry and Jason in tow, woke Lee and I up at Maynard Gardens.

“I’m not leaving here until I get an answer” etc., etc., from Z.

He even threatened to call in the police. They left and came back again, and this time we told them it was Turney and they left to confront him. I later learned he’d stalled them for two hours, denying any knowledge of any holes and “getting them to apologise to me” as we heard later.

Tuesday, October 2, 1984

Remember what is possible

I went to campus to collect my grant, intending to see tutors but never quite managing it and instead sitting about for hour upon hour with Stu and Gareth before going into town and buying Robert an LP of Tibetan ritual music he’d asked me to get.

A desultory evening, TV-bound, thinking about the things I have to do and never quite manage, or do badly (today’s miserable lines being a prime example). The fire is gone and I don’t know what I must do to rekindle it—sit down and think, I suppose, but this seems a near impossibility in a 5’ x 9’ room piled high with records, record player and clothes and while I’m also prey to a chaotic regime of no-thought and disorder.

This journal is all about trying to construct some structured meaning from transient chaos; this is why it’s most difficult when my life is at its undisciplined worst. All I can do is trudge on and remember what is possible.

Monday, October 1, 1984

Stern faces

Sometimes I fear the passage into mid maturity and the rounding off of edges that many seem to undergo in their mid-thirties.

Already I detect a change in myself too. The fire is turning down and the sharpness, the vivid choices and the dramatic moments seem to ebb away. This tendency is revealing itself with alarming regularity among people in Watermouth, the attitude of “well, students will be students but now it’s time to move on, now it’s time for stern faces and responsibility and learning to accept doing what you don’t want to do.”

Not that I hold the average Watermouth student lifestyle up as some paragon of human social development, but it does entail certain freedoms and opportunities that many throw away, as though these all just disappear into the sideboard drawer along with the degree certificate. And this is the goal: no mellow maturity, but trauma and struggle, a crisis of responsibilities every day—to the self, not the crisis of circumstance I’ve drifted into since Westdorgan Road, LSD, etc., for this just obscures my mindfulness of self and chokes all perspective.

Sometimes the simple articulation of thoughts in words and sentences seems like Herculean labour!
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