Saturday, October 22, 1983

Elysian fields

Lee and I spent the afternoon in Crookgreave Cemetery; we wandered around the graves in the wintry sun, padding on clipped and kempt grass amid the gleaming white and well-tended tombstones, marvelling at the idyllic tranquillity, the hard blue sky crossed by sharp white jet trails. We sat in the sun and couldn’t quite believe the Perfection of this Elysian place. It was beautiful.

Since Wednesday night I’ve been walking around in a cold, suppressed state of gloom.

Friday, October 21, 1983

Something else

I think I’m getting tonsillitis again. When I swallow I feel pain and my neck is swollen. Full of gloomy prophecies and expectations. The dexys experience has left me in a morose, negative frame of mind and nothing seems to offer any solace or prospect for enjoyment. It’s the old thing of wanting to live from hour to hour, day to day at a high and intense level of experience that—for me—seems impossible.

In the afternoon I sat with Lindsey and Barry in the library coffee bar (quite a regular hang out for us all this term) as they aired their dissatisfactions with Sociology and I thought how superficial and intellectually lightweight an American Studies degree is. I really felt quite gloomy. Sociology seems to encourage analytical and thorough thought and speech.

There isn’t a course anywhere in the country which would do Everything I want to do—which is, in itself, Everything. As I plough through a book taking notes, I find the word “everything" somehow dissatisfying and superficial. Occasionally I yearn for something with real bite to it, say English or Philosophy or Politics. That isn’t to say I’m pissed off with my course; I’ve come to terms with what I’m doing and really I quite enjoy it. There’s just the odd discordant note that sounds from time to time and I long for something else.

Thursday, October 20, 1983


It’s ten p.m. and I've just about recovered from the excesses of last night. Barry, Lindsey, Susie, Stu, Guy, Ade and Gareth and I—Gareth back after a couple of week’s seclusion through illness—went as usual to Masquerades. For once, Masquerades was crowded and I got drunk and took four small yellow pills—dexys—which Gareth got for six of us for 35p each from a couple of contacts of his.

We got back home at about two-thirty in the morning and one of those classic ‘peak’ experiences ensued. The effects of the pills had taken hold in a very subtle and undramatic way, but perhaps this was only because I was drunk when I took them.

We settled in Barry’s room and the talking began. Conversations raged at blistering pace on all sides, or rather monologues, for we directed long streams of words at one another, only shutting them long enough to let the other person speak, waiting until they stopped so we could begin the stream again. Guy and I talked at each other for four or five hours in an inspired way about school and family—Guy said he was “ecstatically happy,” and I was going through a great ‘Yea-saying’ explosion of optimism and excitement and felt so full of potential that I could only be happy. A delusion, but a good delusion to have nonetheless. Oh to feel so full and intense every minute of every day. Maybe I was glimpsing a higher plane of existence?

I kept going at a relentless pace all through the night. We carried on drinking too, constantly passing around a bottle of whisky Mo bought us as her contribution towards rent. Pete got up and joined us but eventually, after he’d slipped away back to bed, and as the grey unwelcome light of another day and Responsibility glared weakly through the curtains, the talking stuttered, and finally died all together.

And now we paid for our night of rare delights. Stu crept into my room to rest and the others slid into mumbling weariness. I wasn’t feeling too bad and neither was Guy, but Barry and Stu were suffering “utter hell.” Ade collapsed onto the sofa in the back room—Barry said he couldn’t move. We were almost delirious, cracking weak one-liners and saying ridiculous things, laughing weakly and stumbling into verbal dead ends and illogic. I had a tutorial at 11.30 too, so mid-morning, leaving the others lying down and spent, Guy and I emerged into sunlight like new men.

The world looked different, we were different, separate, removed from the people who had just got up and filled the quiet streets and shops. We were different by virtue of what we’d just gone through. Our secret knowledge set us apart. My stomach felt hollow, my eyes ached and my whole body felt weak. I felt a curious sensation of expectancy, almost like anticipation, as though ‘something’ was about to happen to me. Perhaps because I hadn’t slept the night before lent some significance to the new day, as if the Act of staying awake had been rewarded with a glimpse of a sense of PURPOSE. I walked slightly unsteadily down the road to the hitching spot opposite The Cat and Lizard willing something to happen and Be different, filled with that old yearning for more depth and meaning.

It was chaos getting into Uni. because of a strike by BR men over a sacking. A dozen people were trying to get lifts and the buses sailing past packed full. I got to the tutorial room just in time. There are just two people in my Romanticism tutorial and it seems aimless and without a point. I left thoroughly dissatisfied. Our ‘discussions’ take place in a listless atmosphere. The things we say and the things we do don’t seem to be getting us anywhere or even near to approaching the core of Wordsworth’s experiences and feelings.

There has to be more to the study of Wordsworth than this, I told myself—I know there must be. Still, I couldn’t shake off the hopeless insight that perhaps there wasn’t anything other than what I’d just gone through, just second-hand, abstract intellectualising. I suppose I want to FEEL the emotions and sensations as Wordworth felt them in the raw, but then I suppose too this is just the “idealism of a bourgeois escapist mind” at work and is a fruitless point to make.

I met Susie outside the library and sat in the coffee bar with her. My words spilled out in a haste of enthusiastic talk, and after she had gone I even wandered around the library looking for someone else to talk to. I came home and feel utterly washed out, and so to bed.

Wednesday, October 19, 1983


Del and John finally left for Bristol last night at half-past midnight. The collective chaos and disorganisation had become too much for them and they’re going to return in a fortnight. A mood of relief possessed us after they’d gone and now at last things can begin to settle into a routine and we can make a start on tidying this place up.

Yesterday was a bit of a failure work wise; after writing yesterday’s entry I went down to the cafeteria underneath the library and met Lindsey, Barry and Guy. Shelley turned up later too, but she now seems somehow distant and far-removed from our circle.

I suddenly felt very hungry, and so I persuaded Mo to come down to the Cellar with me for a baked potato. We met Guy and Barry again in the Cellar; they’d just been looking for a drummer. They were again full of the band and how good it’s going to be: “I want to make it the biggest thing on the planet,” says Guy, half-seriously.

Mo left after a little while but we decided to stay—Barry was in a bad mood and wanted to drink away his temper, so we did just that and got quite drunk. We found ourselves in the middle of a reggae disco; the DJ refused to play anything other than reggae or funk.

I bought a couple of LPs yesterday too, Backlash by Freddie Hubbard and an early Ornette Coleman trio LP, plus three singles—speaking of which, the last of the cheese went yesterday as well.

I didn’t get up until twelve this afternoon. The sun was streaming down from a clear and cold blue sky and Barry and Ade were already up and talking.

We met Roy last night in the Cellar; he had a dour, dumpy-looking girl in tow and was obviously at there for this one and only reason. My contempt for him was reaffirmed. Lindsey really sold herself cheap when she went out with him.

Tuesday, October 18, 1983

No way is noble

Days roll by and I’m at a loss as to whether or not I should chart them in all their mundane detail.

John and Del left this morning to again look for places and were at their lowest ebb yet. The housing situation in Watermouth is worse than ever and John in particular seemed very down.

Ade came back last night from his few days in Bournemouth with a “sore cock” (to use his own words); he and Del and John don’t get along particularly well and after D. and J. left this morning, Ade was still lounging on his mattress in Barry’s room. Someone suggested that the three of them should share an £85 per week house advertised in the Herald, but this met with a poor response from him. I don’t see that he really has the right to refuse at this moment in time.

A feature in today’s Union News claimed that the compulsory year in the States has been scrapped for this year’s 1st year American Studies intake. The Union is fighting it all the way, but it’s obvious that if it’s not scrapped this year, then it will be next year. I’ve got in just in time.

Since last Wednesday at Masquerades, I’ve felt very satisfied with my prospects. It’s quite amazing how cold the Art History idea has become with me, and I think it’s just as well because it would be too late to change now anyway. Guy’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me I think.

Last night Barry, Guy, Lindsey and I went to the opening night of a new club, Roxy’s, held at the L.A., a well-known gay disco. I walked all the way to Shelley’s on Queen’s Road on the seafront but she was out so I trudged all the way back and found the others already there.

Roxy’s was free to get in before eleven; I was ushered in to an elaborate glittering foyer, complete with fountain, and found myself surrounded by a couple of characters who looked as they’d auditioned for a part in The Adams Family. Roxy's was quite impressive inside, with two bars, split level seating and spectacular lighting for the dance floor. It was crawling with the trendy post-punk crowd, crowns of dyed, spiky hair jostling for the attention, black, black everywhere.

I was in black too.

Across from us two seedy and forlorn looking men in tacky suits were deep in animated, intimate conversation. Someone called Guy a hippy, which annoyed him, and after this he was full of contempt for the place and the people. They are just a bunch of very conventional extroverts. “Experimental is conventional, conventional is experimental. And no way is noble.”

This applies to the Sanctuary and Roxy’s gang who’ve substituted the predictable uniformity of a more sophisticated kind for the Farahs and wedge-cut anonymity of the Saturday-nite soul-boy crowd. And the sickening thing is they all believe they’re being so different. “Art is not dictated by what coat you wear.”

I would do well to listen to this and practise what I preach.

The girls who lived at Jervis Terrace over the summer made an appearance, and Miles Beattie raced between us and the dance floor while Barry and one of the girls fell into a long conversation. Barry's band dominates conversation at the moment, and it gets a little tedious listening to their prophecies. Ade was saying when we got back that he “cannot wait” to get up on the stage, and I can see both he and Barry really getting into it.

I’m in the throes of starting several books, among them Colin Wilson’s The New Existentialism and The Magus. I also want to read some more Nietzsche, and the chapter on N. in Lukacs The Destruction of Reason. All this and course work too? Probably not.
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