Saturday, March 9, 1985

Friday, February 22, 1985

Friday February 22nd

Pages be witness: another week like all the rest, days 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, & 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, & I appreciate how easy it is to let dramatic words & phrases swim into mind’s view, & yet . . . My plight is serious. I’ve attempted nothing in the way of work, & the work that I have done is dissatisfying & infuriating. My essay on chance has preoccupied me in an indirect way for several weeks. The incidental moments & passing frames of mind have, with neglect, blurred now into an indistinct ribbon of interminable afternoons & nights. It’s impossible for me to pick out specific instants & dwell on them, in my usual fashion. The particulars have gone & all I’m left with are the generalities . . . & as my life ‘in general’ has no structure or purpose at the moment. I’ve got little to write about other than my work & housing situation . . .

I feel like giving up with all this & pitching headlong into a thoughtless routine of easy laughs, drunken bouts, food, & TV. Guilty as charged.

I feel like I’ll never regain what’s been lost, & I’ve lost it simply through idleness & the acceptance of chaos. So I’m writing in an effort to escape this claustrophobic sense of self but, in turning to words for relief, I find only undisciplined thinking & a suffocating, limited vocabulary. As long as I live I’ll never overcome this dissatisfaction with wordsWordsWORDS!!

It’s hard to express ideas & emotions through this confining medium, & this is an oft-repeated thought I know but it’s one I can’t escape. Some people find words effective at conveying the ideas & images they want to pass on to others, but I’m scared of them & that’s the truth of it, no more, no less. All my writerly aspirations & hang-ups & beliefs in the bookword product, the final act, has me forgetting the real purpose behind language, which is the communication of self. Words must serve self, & the sooner I learn that & shake off all these half-cocked & self defeating attitudes the better. At this point & from this angle I’m beaten before I’ve even begun. Which must be wrong. So let these words declare themselves as immutable & irrefutable evidence of me as I am now, a fixed point in space & time (February 22nd, 1985, 10:17 p.m., 12 Westdorgan Road, Watermouth), which at least gives me a reference point, a start.

What am I trying to say? At the beginning of this entry I had no clear idea or intention as to how to proceed, no purpose or methodology, just a pen scrabbling across the paper & tired eyes in the weak piss yellow of late night angle poise. Look back at the top of the page, see the mistakes multiply & expand, rolling forth with their crazy unplanned distortions & fabrications across the page. I’m lost in the tangled tentacles of language, lost in the ‘city of words’. Any original purpose or meaning is dulled, nothing becomes clear or clearer, & I’m left with the dry taste of stale tea in my mouth, tealeaves between my teeth, feeling helpless. Inadequacies!

Listen you ignorant crass BASTARD! Yes, YOU! Now I’m getting facetious & letting slip that since June 8 1980 I haven’t made one FUCKING bit of progress—no way. Situation ‘hold’. Unshaven, things in a mess, looking ill-fitting, wrong somehow in the mirror, not to the desired formula. I look a mess.

Burroughs’ recent birthday (71) only made me think about things that pain me: the loss of momentum, mystification of objectives. “Break through in the grey room”? More like petrifaction.

Thick snow outside, but no more on this here, because I feel I ought to sum things up with words of breathtaking, all encompassing wisdom & wit.


I’ll look back from some vantage point in the future & laugh. I’m merely a pseud, nothing more. What was I really expecting???

Saturday, February 16, 1985

Saturday February 16th

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

Friday, February 15, 1985

Friday February 15th

How do I start? I feel helpless & disgusted with myself for my laziness & blinkered attitudes. The thought of these blank pages is enough to fill me with a leaden sense of my own futile striving & hopelessly lazy temperament, whereas once I would’ve just picked up a pen & 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, & 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, & I’ve missed two successive tutorials for Harrison’s European Modernism course, for which I hate myself (the course is actually rewarding), & 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 . . .”

. . . and I’m 20, soon to be 21 . . .

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

Tuesday & yesterday Lee & I (the old formula over again) ventured once more to the abattoir amidst the skinned cows’ heads & cheerful slaughter men, because Lee’s latest idea (titled “Adam & Eve” & to be unveiled at a 2nd yr exhibition next Thursday) demands a cow’s cunt & 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 & at length he emerged with a Londis bag full of still steaming fat & bloody flesh, uterus n’ all. Such tasks are becoming routine. He wants to create shock & confusion by being brutal & inconsistent, & a recent tutorial of his began the trend, although by all accounts his shifting position & constant U-turns came across less as brutal inconsistency & more as simple defeatism. His next scheme is to create a disgusting room, à la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, complete with bloodied walls &, instead of a door, a curtain of human teeth.

We at Westdorgan Road view the goings-on at the Art College with cynicism, & I think it does Lee good to be with us, otherwise he’s in danger of getting sucked in by the incessant pseudery, posing & bullshit that seems to be part & parcel of that College, & thereby losing all perspective. The trash which passes as ‘art’ in that place is incredible, & 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 (“the Soldier’s Tale”) & Charles Ives (“Pictures of New England”) & Symphony No. 2).

The vocabulary is lacking. Thirty-nine pages since New Yr testify to my malaise at the moment.

Saturday, February 9, 1985

Saturday February 9th

I’ve been like a caged animal here most of the week. The snow has returned today & with it sub-zero temperatures. The roads are treacherous.

Routine: Masquerades on Tuesday, Barry there with his girlfriend (“I’ve got to go now” whenever he saw her sat alone), endless afternoons & evenings at Westdorgan Road—TV, kitchen, collective apathy, Boredom with a capital B. Drugs on Wednesday evening, & again last night—heroin this time, my first experience with this scourge of Britain’s youth.

Yesterday Barry called in at Westdorgan Rd. & he, Stu & I took the bus into town & went to the Underground. It was full of 1st year students & 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 Stu, Barry & I bought £15-worth of heroin from Maynard Gardens. These days Gav’s room is always full of people coming & going. While we were there several soul-boys came & settled down, acting very familiar with Gav. Alex took our money & was gone for an hour. When he came back Barry gave him “a dragon’s worth” of the stuff as payment. Ian Tropp helped Stu, Lee & I inject it after initial doubts & refusals on Lee’s part. Ian produced a couple of small syringes & prepared a solution of lemon juice & hot water in a teaspoon to which he added the heroin. He then heated this mixture with a match underneath the spoon & took it up in the syringe, selected a vein, & in it went. Lee turned a deathly grey the instant the stuff was in his vein & his face took on a mask-like expression, his lips drained of colour. He said later he thought he’d “done something” to himself, but after hanging over the sink feeling sickly for a while he lay on a mattress on the floor hardly speaking but seemed OK. All I felt was a warmth behind my eyes, a sort of lucid drowsiness, which was quite pleasant but hardly spectacular. His room presented a sordid sight; foil, wads of dirty cotton wool, used syringes, & Rizla papers littered the floor, all the seedy paraphernalia of the drug culture. Ian got quite carried away by it all & started talking about “jacking up” & “dorking out.”

Barry too is always coming out with drug clichés, endlessly trotting out all the miserable words & phrases (“Chasing the dragon,” “skag,” ‘Blow,” “crash-out”). It’s difficult to believe he takes it all so seriously, but evidently he does. Today we were at Broad Street, in Jason’s room, & 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). Most of last week Lee & Stu & I amused ourselves by parodying the sort of “it’d be good on acid” type comment that they’re always coming out with & which sums up their outlook completely. And so today, as Barry & 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 & Jason came back with, “yeah, but if go to a modern art gallery while you’re tripping . . .” I should have got up & walked out right then.

Sunday, February 3, 1985

Sunday February 3rd

At 3 p.m. today Lee & I investigated a couple of apparently empty houses standing side by side on Goodwood Rd, beside Dee’s Diner. As Lee stopped to peer through the letter box & I sidled conspicuously along the pavement, a neighbor shouted & we fled, adopting an air of contrived nonchalance as we did so. It’s difficult at present. Although No. 43 King Street is still nominally on & we know it’s been empty for a couple of years, we haven’t yet recovered momentum after the Sutton Road setback. The other day I asked Troppy about moving in, trying to pin him to a definite commitment, but all he would say was, “I don’t feel like it” & left it at that. This left me feeling frustrated & helpless at others’ apparent lack of effort or will to move. Lee scarcely ever mentions the housing situation although he knows that Gav & co. know about Mrs. Globe’s death & 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 & by now routine Sundays. As usual, I’ve trudged to the newsagents & bought the papers & 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 & fuck knows why Lindsey spends time with him; he’s a real manipulator & scarcely seems to care for anyone, least of all women who he sees as good for a fuck & 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, & he seems to live & breathe this episode in our lives—it’s all he talks about—Barry & 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 & I’d intended staying until it closed to do some work for tomorrow’s Faulkner tutorial, but nothing achieved & so I returned to Meadspike via Dee’s Diner at 5. I phoned Andrew to arrange a visit in the next few weeks & fulfilled the Sunday ritual of TV & 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 & otherwise), subliminal & waking suggestion, dream control, etc. . . . I’m collecting all my cuttings together into a scrapbook & want to write seriously, this a view to the future. I have several boxes of newspapers waiting to be sifted through.

Friday, February 1, 1985

Friday February 1st

Narrative description or introspective monologue? I need to choose.

Del has been back in Watermouth the last few days & stayed two nights here at Westdorgan Rd, sharing a double bed with Stu. He’s all but recovered from his phobic anxiety depersonalization disorder of last summer & seems now to enjoy talking about it to anyone who’ll listen. It was interesting discussing my LSD panic attack with him & he thinks I was suffering from a perfect case of temporary depersonalization, hence the unreality, deadness & isolation I felt both Oct 20/21st & the other week, when under LSD again.

Last night he drove Stu, Lindsey & I down into town & we picked up Turney on our way to the Lancaster. Enemies of the State throbbed away upstairs but we didn’t see Barry once & were loathe to fork out £1.50 just for the privilege. Del managed to see him & Barry promised to be down in 5 minutes to see us all, but we waited 20 minutes & were finally thrown out at closing time & still he hadn’t shown up. After Masquerades on Tuesday, Del & Trevor finally went round to Broad Street & Lee, Lindsey, Stu & I went along too. Barry was in bed & Del & Trevor subjected him to an hour-long verbal assault for his association with Jason & co. & his indifference towards what Turney kept referring to as his ‘true friends.’ I kept quiet, listening to the pointless wrangling & quite enjoying it. Afterwards we all retired to Maynard Gardens to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre & Halloween III on Ian’s video.

I slept most of Wednesday, rising in the dark at 6 p.m. to stumble across to Andrew St. & the newsagent. At this point, Lee & I experienced a trough of frustration at our mutual decline into stagnation. We were tired & bitter at ourselves & our own weakness & enslavement to the Present.

Tonight 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 & left after a little while . . . I am finding little success in my attempts to overcome this great block in the way of work, writing & thinking. Instead of fighting it I’m content to swan about lazily, watch TV & 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.

Tuesday, January 29, 1985

Tuesday January 29th

A stifling air of apathy is abroad at the moment. My own days are sliding into a stagnant rut, & 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 & at Gaveston Street, Lindsey, the people at Mo’s flat (who’ve never liked L. & 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 Trevor to be down at Masquerades again tonight, but at this moment I haven’t the stomach for it.

Wednesday, January 23, 1985

Wednesday January 23rd

Last night we bid farewell to Pete with a night out at Masquerades, & as expected the evening became very drunken & loud & oafish, Lee upholding his reputation for mayhem by dancing around in a grubby thermal vest, crossed braces & with a Rizla packet stuck to his forehead. Lindsey & Mo were both a little disgusted at what they called our “laddish” behaviour, Mo so much so that that she scratched both Lee & I with her fingernails. We were all drunk & the night degenerated into wrestling & throwing empty beer bottles at one another. As we were saying goodbye to Pete, Mo kissed me on the cheek & apologised for attacking me without warning earlier.

Barry & Z. turned up today & Barry 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. & 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, January 21, 1985

Monday January 21st

My frustration right now is difficult to convey. This morning Lee, Ian & Philip went as planned to Sutton Road to occupy the empty No 39, & on climbing in through an open basement window (the front door was locked) found five people sleeping in a first floor room who told them, “We’re squatters, man.” The punky five-some had moved in on Thursday, the day after we had been in the building, & 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—& so Lee & co. retreated in confusion & anger.

I turned up at No 39 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. I couldn’t believe it & even now find it difficult to stomach. The horrible impotence & frustration I feel at such incredible bad luck is almost too much, & when I found out I really could have cried tears of anger & bitterness—4th time unlucky. The gods have really got it in for us it seems.

Lee & I drifted around town in a daze, my mind a blur, just disbelief at this turn of fate & circumstances. On Saturday Robin Globe is visiting the Grey House to tell Gav & co. that his mother’s dead & he’s selling the house, so we have until then to unearth another occupiable building or we’ll half-a-dozen rivals also looking for a new home.

I know the people who moved into Sutton Rd are innocent of any malicious intent or intrigue & that we were just very unlucky, but I can’t help feeling very bitter & these feelings are vented in the direction of Alex, Gav, Jason & their type; I won’t try & 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 & be consistent in my attitudes . . .

Sunday January 20th

We had a houseful at Westdorgan Rd.; Pete & Mo (who were rescued overnight by firemen when the flat below Mo’s on Stoneways Road went up in flames), Shawn & Penny, & we four. We had a big meal & then drank wine & a bottle of whisky. Trevor Turney turned up on our doorstep & Lee too & so we all went up to the Westdorgan & got pleasantly pissed. Turney & Lindsey & I were up until 3 a.m. watching the Superbowl & talking about translating our dislike of the Broad Street crew into violent action. We got quite carried away by the idea. Trevor is spending the night in Lindsey’s room, probably on the floor, although my mind invents its usual fictions & sordid scenarios.

Saturday, January 19, 1985

Saturday January 19th

The snow is thawing fast & has gone from the town centre & the main roads. I was hoping for the widely forecast blizzards Thursday night/Friday morning but these changed direction at the last minute. I turned up for my first tutorial of the term yesterday afternoon with Dr. Harrison, discussing Kafka’s “The Trial,” after I’d spent the morning reading the book in bed.

Afterwards I took the train into town to Lee’s & took the LSD with he & Pete at 9.30 p.m., our collective wildness ending in hysteria, laughing over the television & our mystification at the plots of two films, the latter 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 flash unit & the results were different than what we’d expected. LSD supposedly increases the image retention capability of the retina & so we’d assumed that the illuminated scene glimpsed during the flash would remain imprinted on our retinas, gradually fusing & changing shape & colour, etc. Instead we found that even in complete darkness everything was a riot of mind-generated colours, lights, & blossoming shapes, so much so that I couldn’t even see to move about & so ended up spreadeagled on the floor in my pleasure, much to Pete & Lee’s amusement.

We were endlessly fascinated by books of Escher prints, a history of the Nazis & of skinheads, but as the drug wore off we became less active & sank into long periods of subdued silence, lying on the bed or on the floor, our minds alive with “everything & nothing” as Lee put I. I was a bit anxious lest I think myself into the same state of panic as three months ago, 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, & I had to fight these off to such an extent that at one point I was struggling to keep calm, & persuaded Pete & Lee to tramp purposefully with me round the deserted sludgy streets, to King’s Rd & back through the town centre, passing an undertaker’s. Everything seemed very sordid.

Coming down’ is a depressing & disillusioning experience; life seems hopeless & everything looks cheap & shabby. I felt very isolated & empty inside, utterly remote & alone in that black place inside my skull, & therein lies the panic & the fear. At these moments, my mind turns into a simple receptor unable to filter the unceasing bombardment of sights & sounds & information for even a second, & 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 & the thoughts & ideas crackled on & on, seemingly forever. It was quite an unpleasant sensation. To maintain an even keel & 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 & talking about specific events or memories.

I went to bed at 5.30 & woke up at half four this afternoon feeling wasted. The dangers of LSD are manifest & 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, & in a way he’s right.

Friday, January 18, 1985

Friday January 18th

In the early hours Lee & I talked about an Act, a moment of Will & Overcoming through which we will cast off boredom and woolly-headedness like dead skin. We are both like-minded on the subject & I for one am sick of asserting it. We’ve both fallen into a deep rut & every task seems to require an immense effort & usually defeats us. Lee described it 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 & knotted heart wanting a discipline, needing a discipline to take away the uselessness & knock this cotton wool stuffing from behind my eyes. Only occasionally now do I surface to give notice of my anger & frustrations with a few scattered & ill-wrought lines.

Thursday, January 17, 1985

Thursday January 17th

Lastnight, Troppy, Lee & Philip & I investigated our probable new house, the empty No. 39 Sutton Rd. We were surprised to find the front door unlocked. The house is OK, three floors & a basement in quite good condition, a little plaster & wallpaper fallen away here there, a large kitchen, all the rooms bare & austere with big frosty 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. Also we having the coldest winter for years to contend with. The snow came with a vengeance earlier in the week & is expected to get worse. An empty, unfurnished & unheated house is a miserable prospect, & 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 & my surroundings smother all thought & reduce me to a state of abject boredom. Today I’ve let daylight slip by & done nothing with my time. 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 & I can’t write—I’m searching but the words aren’t there & the pages feel cramped & uninspiring & horribly tainted by my boredom & 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, & this be left for what it is: a book of events, & of people, & 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’.

Wednesday, January 16, 1985

Wednesday January 16th

Yesterday Gareth & I struggled through the snow drifts onto campus & I continued the charade of trying to write an essay. My subject is Nietzsche, determinism & chance, very tenuously linked to Dada. To date I’ve made a few notes & read around the subjects, but the essay remains unwritten.

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

Today more notes on Nietzsche & chance . . .

Monday, January 14, 1985

Monday January 14th

Yesterday was fairly routine, just as I’d predicted; TT & Lee stayed all evening & later Stu & I trekked out across the polar ice to the Indian takeaway on Wickbourne Rd. We went to the Westdorgan at 9, & I was in bed by 1 a.m. . . .

No work for today’s tutorial & so it begins again, this weekly bind of self-recrimination, baulking at the boredom entailed in reading Faulkner—so dull. Went to University at one, then into town & Lee’s; L. has found out that No. 39 Sutton Rd. is no longer on the electoral register & has been “nigh derelict” for a year according to the canvasser’s reports from the next door neighbor

We told P. Monmouth of events & then to Maynard Gardens for a cup o’ tea. 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 Furcoats & Bowties 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 & I partook of £2.50-worth of sulphate & M. left, so we went to see if Pete was at Mo’s (he was in Gloucester). The buzz we had felt walking along the seafront through the snow gave way to leaden-limbed torpor & an overwhelming fatigue by the time we got back to Westdorgan Rd.

Sunday, January 13, 1985

Sunday January 13th

Last night Stu & Lindsey & I went into town for a drink at Blair’s Wine Bar & The Blue Cap. A near fight broke out at the latter between the affronted frump-faced bar owner & a whisky sodden oldster, a small pissed Polack whose threats sounded ridiculous from so lightweight a frame. “Drink up & get out!” yelled the stone-faced owner repeatedly, his eyes darting & hard.

Lee’s Mum has written a letter to Mrs. Globe’s son telling him of the unspeakable conditions at the Grey House. “It’s like a squat” she writes with great perceptiveness, ignorant of the true situation. . . Lee says he’d been talking to Jeremy about hatchets thru’ walls etc. at the Grey House, & Ma Hoy overheard him & 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: Globe visits, sees the shaven-headed squalor of the ground floor & basement, kicks everyone out, & when Gav subsequently discovers it was Lee who spilled the beans he comes after him with a shotgun . . .

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

It’s a routine Sunday afternoon—fading light, ‘Bullseye’ on TV & no doubt a curry later, the shadow of tomorrow’s Faulkner seminar never far from my thoughts. I rang home yesterday dinnertime to ask Robert if he’d got his record & 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. I’ve been watching a Greta Garbo film, “The Fall & Rise of Susan Lennox.” Athletic have beaten Holmeshaw Vale 5-1.

Trevor Turney is round here this afternoon full of his verbal victory over Z. & co. the other night; “I hate that lot” etc. I suppose this is his ‘justification’ for smashing four holes in Z’s wall. Lee is here too, remorseful, & he keeps suggesting we make amends, presumably by mending the damage. TT has an envious ability to talk to people & to strike at their very centre, pinning them at the end of his verbal fork. He does this to me all the time. He’s been in Lindsey’s room for the last 2 hours & every time now when he’s here he slips in references to her fucking Jason which make her visibly writhe & curl inside.

Barry has a girlfriend, an A-level student who he met at one of his band’s appearances. I saw him with her once, before Christmas, & saw her alone in the Frigate last Thursday but have never spoken to her. “She goes to all the trendiest parties,” says Lindsey. By all accounts Barry is very happy at the moment & he told TT that the first five days of ‘85 were incomparably better than any 5 days in ‘84 .

Lee has bought four tabs of LSD from Gav, each with a cat’s face printed on the front, part (Gav says) of a consignment of 1000 posted from Amsterdam. I’m apprehensive 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 & I recall with nostalgia the pacing & 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.

Saturday, January 12, 1985

Saturday January 12th

Last night Lee, Ian & 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 & spacious galleries, orange décor, & brick corridors . . .

The concert featured two pianos & 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 & I posture so about virtually everything.

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 & destroy any confidence I might have that I’m capable. I keep hearing 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, & dwarfs me. ‘Writer’s Block’? Ha Ha.

Lindsey is very distant & 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 & find it incredible I once thought her so close . . .

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

On Sunday evening we’re planning a reconnaissance of a potential new house (39 Sutton Rd.); it looks as if it could be a worthwhile proposition, so Lee, Ian, Philip Monmouth (Lee’s mate from Easterby) & I are planning on moving in on Monday afternoon. The newspaper & the neighbours will get another ‘squat’ & I hopefully will have a room of reasonable potential at long last. Not since Jervis Terrace days of March ’84 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 as we travelled back from London on the train last night, because apart from course work (which doesn’t really count) 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 1500 pages of Wilson last spring. At least then I had some sort of goal, or more correctly, a perspective from which to look at my self & my activities etc. I felt I had some sort of definition & clarity about what I was doing. Now there’s nothing except a deadening blank-brained struggle to snatch words from thin air & translate my muddy-headedness into some kind of meaning.

Friday, January 11, 1985

Friday January 11th

Yesterday Lee, Ian, Pete & I spent the afternoon drifting aimlessly about Watermouth; I bought a PVC overcoat & a stuffed canary in a box. Back at Maynard Gardens we degenerated into a frenzy of infantilism—screaming, stamping our feet & “giggling” as Tropp 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 Trevor Turney who was coming up East Street. He overwhelmed us, swept us up & almost unwillingly we ended up in the Frigate. Lee slipped into bored silence. Trevor suggested we go & “wind Barry up,” & as our earlier mood of mass hysteria was still affecting us we were amenable to the idea so, after visiting an off-licence & buying a bottle of lemonade & 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 & we could see irate householder watching us & (no doubt) phoning the police. So we waved goodbye & went back to try Gaveston St., but that too was dark & deserted. Pete climbed in through an open window & we sat around in there for 20 minutes or so; Turney pissed in a milk bottle & 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 No. 38, taking with us a tricolour flag we’d found at Elaine & 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 (TT. pissing there), & running up & down the stairs. Trevor 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 & then went to the Shelter & got pissed & went home, forgetting about all these events until an angry Z., with Barry & Jason in tow, woke Lee & 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. After they came back a 2nd time, we told them it was Turney & they left to confront him. I later learned he’d stalled them for 2 hours, denying any knowledge of any holes & “getting them to apologise to me” as he put it today.

This morning, Pete, Lee & I went back over to No. 38 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.”

Wednesday, January 9, 1985

Wednesday January 9th

Today I went to campus to collect my grant, intending to see tutors but never quite managing it & instead sitting about for hour upon hour with Stu & Gareth before going into town & 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 & never quite manage, or do badly (today’s miserable lines being a prime example). The fire is gone & I don’t know what I must do to rekindle it—sit down & think, I suppose, but this seems a near impossibility in a 5’ x 9’ room piled high with records, record player & clothes & also while I’m prey to a chaotic regime of no-thought & 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 & remember what is possible.

Tuesday, January 8, 1985

Tuesday January 8th

Back in Watermouth, & another term to face. Lee & I arrived at 9 yesterday evening expecting deep snow but when we got back we found it similar to Easterby. After dropping our bags at Maynard Gardens we went across to Mo’s & saw Pete, who’s in England until the end of January. He hasn’t changed at all. We went for a drink at the Quiet Lady & later shivered in the sub zero temperatures in Mo’s flat. We stayed until 2 a.m. & then walked back to Lee’s. It was absolutely freezing.

Today I finally went back to Westdorgan Road, half-expecting a letter from the constabulary to be waiting—I was glad to be disappointed on this score. Gareth, Lindsey & Stu were all back. Pete called in on us in the afternoon & we had a cheerful evening in the Jervis Arms & the Three Tuns. Lee began the day in an oddly detached frame of mind, “woolly-headed” as he put it, & he seemed ill at ease & uncomfortable with Watermouth; this he attributed it to an impending cold. He’s cheered up a bit now.

Sunday, January 6, 1985

Sunday January 6th

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” & never the actual process of sitting still & writing. It’ll be difficult to attain past levels. I’ve noticed an element of self-consciousness & fear creeping into my thoughts when I direct them towards these pages, as if I’m unsure of how to start again & scared of speaking ‘unnaturally’ & ‘falsely’. I’ve led myself into the trap of allowing bookish pretensions to dominate the content of what is written.

I’m going back to Watermouth tomorrow. I rang Stu today to tell him to open the Letter (if it’s arrived) & to ‘phone back with the verdict. Just now the telephone rang & I went to answer it with jangling nerves & a thudding heart . . . but it was only Andrew ringing to talk about the match.