volume 6 of london: july-december 1973  work & days: a lifetime journal project

 

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In this volume I begin to work on the film that becomes Trapline. A lot of reading notes. Luke is two. Part 1 a women's liberation conference in Bristol, 10 days at a Sufi work camp in Surrey, a month in Wales with Luke, and then in September the Experimental Film Conference at the National Film Theatre. Part 2 hitchhike to Dublin, take Luke to the Khanka, join Mike Dunford's filmmaking class at the Camden Institute. Part 3 staying with Tony Nesbit in Landbroke Grove, starting to shoot in the Silchester Road Public Baths. Part 5 Christmas at the Khanka.

Mentioned: Luke, Roy Chisholm, Mary Stott, Lee Comer, Dave Rimmer, Joe Comerford, Tony Nesbit, Indra Kagis, John Frick, Elias and Christina Velonis, Mike Dunford, de Joia family, Anastasia Hoffman, Rosalynd de Lanerolle, Katrin Zaugg, Colin Thomas, Penelope Brown.

Khankah Abadan Abad at Dockenfield in Surrey, Women's Camp at Llanidloes (Newtown, Caersws, Montgomeryshire), Ffos Mascal in Wales, National Film Theatre, Holyhead British Rail station, National Museum Dublin, Silchester Road Public Baths, Ram Dass Ashram, Alice Holt Forest, Camden Institute on Holmes Road, Oakhill House, Senate House, Lancaster Road Gospel Church, Whitechapel High Street, St James Park.

Women's Liberation Conference in Bristol, the Women's Press, International Experimental Film Festival at the NFT, Ken Jacobs, Peter Kubelka, Barry Gerson, Annette Michelson, Larry Gottheim, Snow La région centrale, Stan Vanderbeek, Brakhage The art of seeing with one's own eyes, Dave Rimmer, Schroeder, Paul Sharrits, Wavelength, Chantale Akerman Hotel Monterray, Andrew Noren, Peter Gidal, David Crosswaite, Roger Hammond, Thomas Elsaesser, Peter Wollen, Baillie Quick Billy, Ernie Gehr, Schneeman Fuses, Pather Panchali, Skammen, Mon Oncle Antoine, Joe Commerford Withdrawal and Emtigon, Miramon Figures of earth, Duchamp, Picabia, Schwitters, Merzbau, Cage, Rauschenberg, Steve Willats Control Magazine, Suzi Gablik on Magritte, John Berger* The experience of art, Berenson Aesthetics and history, Eye and brain, Père Castel, Haldane, Levertov From the Bengali, Spenser Like a huntsman after weary chase, John Short Carol, Leonard Cohen Energy of Slaves, William Carlos Williams, Yeats Crazy Jane and Jack the Journeyman, Don't look now, XJ Kennedy For a child who skipped rope, * Nude descending a staircase, Doris Lessing The four-gated city, Anna Karenina, Octavio Paz, Rilke, Cien años de solidad, Gaskill on Charlotte Brontë, Bateson Wordsworth: a re-interpretation, Elizabeth Clarke, Nietzsche, Adelaide Crapsey, Maslow, Psychic Research in the USSR, Grossinger's Io, Eric Mellon, Evans-Wentz on Tibetan yoga, De Becker The understanding of dreams, Evelyn Underhill, Reich, Assagioli Psychosynthesis, Desoille rêve éveillé, Jung, Huxley, Levi-Strauss, Marghanita Laski Ecstasy, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Castaneda The journey to Ixtlan, Serios experiment, Matin des magicians, Wolfgang Pauli, Hazrat Inyat Khan, Tagore, Gisell Tells Sex test, Weil First and last notebooks, O give thanks, Dona nobis pacem, Es ist eine Rose entsprungen, O du Heilige o du Fröhliche.

 


July 1973, Khanka Abadan Abad

On the first evening: thirty people stand together in front of the house, half of them blindfolded. The young boy - I thought, what a beautiful boy, what a young boy - with a long neck and crest of hair like an elegant bird with pimples - chose me. I pull the bandage tight round his eyes, see his hair flatten vulnerably under it. Grasp his right hand with my left, and hold it up on my arm, courtly dance, so the length of my arm can steer him like a wagon tongue. The ground, the steep bit of bank, paths, hedges, become care and tenderness. He's breathing very fast as if frightened, I feel how young he is. We run forward on the road, I feel my awkwardness. He's bold and light and never stumbles. I take his hand to feel the gate. We stride though grass and I ferry him quickly to the front, I'm listening to everyone's feet as we pass them.

At the top of the slope we stop and stand silent for a long time, facing across the countryside, I hear dogs. Then in careful excited silence I undo his bandage, smile into his eyes, give him the bandage and step in front of him to offer my eyes.

I'm led running down the slope, I rock on uneven ground and can hear others run past. He's being careful of me; I hear dogs and then ahead a rush and stumble, heavy breathing, lowing: a herd of cows runs by, flanks almost next to me, confusion. The boy keeps my hand steady, I squeeze his to show that I'm smiling, the pleasure of this rush of cow spirits whose smell is strong as the wheeze of their breath. We begin again, he takes my other hand to bring me up a slope, then tugging me sideways pulls me under the scratch of a branch into complete black, another kind of black. I feel he is blind as well. It's slippery underfoot, mud sucking. I blunder into branches. There's a confused melee, he seems to keep me aside and wait while everyone else goes through a narrow passage, then he takes my other hand and bends, pushes, me sideways through. Another slope - he raises my arm so it points the angle of the slope. He tries to point me over a ditch - I discover it's a ditch when I splash in. When we stop he turns me half around and we stand in silence. He unties my bandage - the same tact - and I see that it's dark and we're on the hill below the house, a group of dark people standing all facing the same direction looking over the dropping countryside to a full orange moon. Like a tribe of new people.

-

This evening the blind woman, Malik and Angela played a trio sonata for piano, flute and clarinet. She knew it but couldn't read it, they'd never played it before. They plunged in, stopping to think and sing a few bars, go back to the beginning. The struggle of the beat, struggle to place notes made me intensely aware of the process of the music, the thought in it - and the two of them standing erect, jogging, tapping slightly to mark their time, both with a slight and fascinating quiver at the haunch that had to do with their effort to control breath - Angela in a long figured lilac dress flowing from her rib cage close over her waist and alert hip, and then wide, her blond hair corrugated down thick and healthy. She was a spirited Russian princess in a candle-lit drawing room. Malik in jeans and a work sweater, the same elegant shudder at the hip. Hafisa played from memory, would stop and say "Ja, my sister and I, when we would play this one, we would play desperado, when sometimes we were angry."

She played the piano with her eyes shivering, sometimes smiling a little around her buck teeth when she liked the music. Her time was perfect and she knew all three parts - "I've never played the piano part before. When I played with my sister I would play the flute." I found my face squeezing shut into tears - was proud of them but embarrassed to be, because I was wanting that black-eyed presence across the room to notice.

And then in the dining room on the blue carpet square the bearded Dutchman sang American songs while another, while reading a book, did a dipsy descant and I found myself wriggling into it until I was descanting so free and open that I had to dance with my arms - and then when the tall boy with straight hair and a sackcloth shirt presented me a daisy head from the salad (one of John's! and someone else was wearing one) and hugged me and said "That was so good!" I hugged him back and said "That was so good!" - Everyone's gifts, solid stupefied faces opening into gifts. The crewcut man taking my neck into his hands and massaging it hard when I rubbed a sore spot before the meeting yesterday.

-

Sitting on the lawn as it darkens, I'm in line with the tension of Mershid and Elias having secrets in the garden, Hafisa singing with Tabula in the orchard, shouts from the volleyball court, Harold talking on the terrace, a flute in the house. Through the fogged windows a beautiful light - it was a frozen moment, but it couldn't have been a photograph - the light between dark and colour.

August, Ffos Moscal in Wales

The hedgehog: Luke and I walked uphill on the main road, found a hedgehog back uppermost like a collapsed balloon of stickles. Looked at it and spoke to it: Poor little hedgehog we are sorry a car hit you. Thought to move it to the side of the road, lifted it awkwardly by two spines and tumbled it over the fence - barbed wire, then chicken wire - among blackberry and pine thicket on the high roadside bank. It did not fall fast enough, I didn't like to throw it, so it hung upside down in the wire: little tender hands with long kidskin fingers, a distorted grin and a crooked kidskin nose, entrails squashed out and a few bones pulled out with only scraps of red meat remaining. We walked on, Luke said "Poor hedgehog very tired, have a rest," I said yes. Couldn't leave it there, so turned back and gathered a few flowers, Luke too but he lost them. On the roadside he found pebbles and gave them to me - we found the hedgehog again, unpried it - hard to touch it, I could see flies' eggs on its opened belly - laid it nicely on the grass and put the flowers and the pebbles beside it. Said "Dear hedgehog we hope you liked your life in this pine thicket, we are sorry you died," and hurried away home.

Luke has talked about the hedgehog, the car that CRASHED it, every day since. I wonder if it was too hard for him but really I believe that he can take even the most truthful poetry of death. He's made the connection already I think, because I'm always telling him not to run onto the road or else -

When I write by candlelight, a flutter and a quick sizzle, the moth puts itself out in hot wax and the flame, bent, extinguishes.

-

When he goes to bed I tell him a story, always the same one, that swings round the valley and comes back to the little boy sitting on a window ledge above the lightning-felled apple tree, and the lady with him telling him a story about ... and sometimes swoops across to the hill and back again, and maybe again.

October, Dublin

With all my baggage rolled in my sleeping bag and that strapped onto my shoulder with my scarf I feel light, a young girl with an old face, feel I'll be able to travel as light as this as long as I like.

Arriving at Holyhead just after dark. The British Rail station where boats and trains dock alongside and a clock tower with four lit clock faces, enclosed little cobbled square with station's internal exterior rising like elegant hotel, crates stacked against ballroom windows. Long stem of a road, high brick walls on either side, turn down into town, egg and chips.

In the Ladies' Waiting Room stuffed in my sleeping bag reading the first poem in the book:

I have discovered that most of
the beauties of travel are due to
the strange hours we keep to see them

-

"Mornin'" says the old man, "Beautiful mornin'" and breaks into an Irish song as he begins to take his clothes off, putting as much vibrato as he's got into the last syllable of every line. He keeps his straw hat on until the last.

On the way down to the sea I took a path through wild land. There were two gypsy caravans, elaborately painted, with round canvas roofs like covered wagons. Inside the open door of one I could see a litter of furniture, and a long mirror broken in three places.

Now the old man has his ankles in the water, still singing, vibrato interrupted with bubble-shivers. It's cold, long past summer.

The children at the caravans were red haired, white-skinned. "Mornin'" they said.

-

The cobbled road along the river, a high heavy sliding door to go through leading the two bicycles like horses, tethering them and walking down into the weedy ruin, staircases and beams standing, lying. Staircases - "I feel compelled to climb them" said Joe. One aged handrail was beautifully finished, sanded off round, like wear. Smashed chemical bottles, one piece of glass with neck attached seemed an ambiguous window, delighted me. I was seeing surreally with Joe, a pair of shoes, pointed men's shoes, and a lot of dresses, coats, laid on the seawall as if crowds of people had left them there and stepped into the sea. Unraveled blond string underwater beside a wreck on its side, like a giantess's death. In the Fertilizer ruin, rich green mosses perhaps fertilized by dust. A factory with smoke and steam, Joe said it must be full of steam which was not pushed out but leaked through every seam.

Strenuous work being with him because he didn't love or flatter me, nor I him, although I watched him and he didn't watch me. Bicycles. My hat and scarf, the red faced workmen leaning from the curbs to call to us.

The long sea road to the lighthouse, stones some sunk down, moss with tiny pink flowers. Seagulls pushing around a place where sewerage boiled up from underwater. The red lighthouse. A treehouse on barnacled piles, platform on which I sat, he leaning on the rail. When he dropped orange peels he saw an immediate little oil slick and then I saw it too, a quick blue light around the peel before it floated quickly away. When he dropped the match he saw that it made the sea surface visible to him, black shapes swinging gravely toward our bridge, like hands of a clock.

Said Skammen was the first fil-lum he ever saw.

"We are so confused, sentimental, false that we don't see what we see, we aren't trained to know what we feel, but somehow there must be a way to find the keys, and that's what film is for me."

"When you put it so simply it seems very clear, but it isn't always so clear."

Face is thin, ungenerous, small eyes, sharp nose, small sharp mouth, familiar almost invisible face, I can't remember it. Good dark jacket, small tight body, small long hands. Just turned 26. Donegal, father old engineer, uncle a farmer.

Looked at Madeleine's triptych mirror and saw a wise queen without defeat. Will and humor.

End of September

At the Khanka. Woken at six when it's still dark. Go into the big house for breakfast, a big circle on the blue carpet in the dining room - muesli, figs, yogourt. Luke is the first person at 'table' every morning, has the bowl between his knees and shovels in with a tablespoon. At eight we're working. I'm at the barn site, sometimes laying concrete blocks, today measuring and cutting 9"x3" creosoted beams for the ceiling - a carpenter's square, a pencil behind my ear and a Black and Decker electric saw. Today - measuring, fitting, nailing down floorboards - happiness. I feel so strong and neat balancing on crossbeams, bending, nailing, lifting.

[undated letter]

October, Thursday morning

Here the autumn's just beginning. The leaves won't fall until "ten days after the blackberries start molding" said one of the truck drivers who gave me a lift on the way up to Ireland. Sometimes the trees flashed a few yellow branches but mostly they're slowly turning brown.

[undated journal]

Shabby lion, shining eyes. The look he punched at Joe when we came to the door, his ferocity for two days when I tried to entice him, made him supper and tea, played the garden game with him ("Just an ordinary semi-detached") (I didn't see any key"), and by Monday when I was eating supper upstairs he said why was I going so soon. John in the pub, saying how good my film was, Tony saying he'd wait 'til he saw it. When we got back, played blues, John Frick being red-eyed and silly, Tony backing out of it, but I caught him looking at me. I curled up hoping John would soon go home, Tony at last got up, said he was going to bed but that John mustn't stir, I laughed, but I made ostentatious organizing moves, went out and brushed my teeth. Tony disappeared into his room. John went home. I got into my sleeping bag with one of the curtains back and lovely light on the other, but I got in naked for the first time this weekend - and listened. Tony came in after a while, said Have you got the right time, and I put my shoulder out bare to reach for the alarm clock. That's just an excuse, he said, I really wanted to kiss you goodnight. So I put my fingers on his jaw and kissed him goodnight. He leaned his forehead against me very gently and we rested head to shoulder, I listened to his breathing.

Sleep with me, he said. I will, if you turn off the light. He got up walked to his bedroom turned the light off and I came out of my sleeping bag and just got under his covers and after a minute so did he. Wanted to just sleep, let our bodies tune themselves to each other, but didn't know how to explain that. When he began to come I cried out Stop! so jerked far away and lonesome I was, but he didn't stop, and then held me as gently as he could, his heart pounding. I thought his face was wet.

Touch so shy and light.

His beautiful room, white, red chair, the brown and white blanket, the brick wall and chimneys outside. I woke wide awake at quarter to eight, looked at his lively profile, sleeping, got up to go to work.

-

The Ram Dass Ashram's upstairs classes - we're there without names, no one addresses us personally even to correct us, we're there as subjects, our groping for the third eye, our privacy, our voice in the mantras, the breathing, the solitary strain of exercises that are too difficult. Body slowing down to cold and space.

Downstairs the young boys, they're all slight with thin beards, and the girls in white, all buxom, with white scarves around their heads, cook in the small kitchen. Yogi tea."Truly smashing" - don't they know there's a yoga of language.

And at home there's Tony, blue milkman's apron on, working with fibreglass in the fibreglass-smelling studio. I've come to cook for him. We come and go. Our waking time, we sometimes, rarely, talk: about sculpture, ambition. He brings John Frick back to drink several cups of coffee in front of the gas fire. They watch television. I'm one of the boys. John has adult conversations with me.

But to get into silence with Tony. To get into bed. He goes to check the fire's off, cat fed. Maybe he shaves, scrubs the fibreglass off his hands, brushes his teeth.

Lined brown face, eyes a little bloodshot (fibreglass?) but luminous, light green. Nose broad and smooth as a lion's, swollen soft mouth, face falling into craziness, he's loose and ready to cackle, soft as shit he says, but not in his waking hours. Feeling up John Frick. Patiently talking to morose Nigel. ("I love him.") He and John are like teenage girls, taking their gossip seriously, learning from it.

When he climbs into bed he knows how to wait. We lie next to each other. He, or I, stroke a hip, a bit of elbow, stomach, leg. It's easy as sleeping, one-pointed it grows and we find our way. O Tony. I want to sleep. But then I realize - he's going to put it inside me, and I get excited. We're shy and careful with each other's sexes, delicate. No spit.

His clear clean two rooms. What I like about you is that you don't own a bathrobe.

[letter]

I'm working on my FILM, going into the Silchester Road Public Baths in the mornings doing light tests and making notes, trying to be still and centred so I can look and listen as well as possibly possible. That's why I need to leave home as well, it makes me more alive. The film's going to be about light, color, space - it's going to be difficult technically and I'm going to leap out way beyond my depth - and that's only good.

-

We gathered outside the house and walked into the woods. A clear black night, the moon on the far side of the earth next to the sun, stars and shooting stars, the tight little bunches of the Pleiades and the Plough (Big Dipper) nearly on the horizon. A different sky from yours. Walked fast, far into the woods. Somebody knew the paths, scuffing in leaves. Malik began to sing Praise the lord, praise the lord, for he is gracious and his mercy endureth for ever and ever. I didn't know the tune. It was a round, with harmonies like High Mass - we sang it for a long time. Miles later Elias and Malik who were tramping at the head of what had become a procession in starlight between high tamaracks and dense beechwoods began the strange complicated lovely Kyrie from a Gregorian chant - did they remember it from altar boy childhoods? We didn't get home until after midnight, ending at the fringe of the wood by - spontaneously - snowballing ourselves into a tight hugging mass cheek to cheek and shin to shin, shoving, struggling for balance, just managing to keep ourselves upright while gathering up people outside - left me panting and electrified in all the contact spots.

That place is so good to me, so serious (sometimes ludicrous) and so frugal that it softens me into a child again; whenever I go the lines fade from under my eyes and I cry easily about old griefs and grievances.

-

Later in the day, in bed (sleeping bag) with a hot water bottle at my feet, the radio next to my knee, BBC Radio 3, somebody's beautiful mass, Luke asleep in his sleeping bag, one hand stretched out to his teddy bear's neck, his Rabbit, Cat and Oxfam (dog) piled next to him, fifteen tiny cars ranged on the other side, next to me. Sweet sleeping face, not washed before bed, hair on end, dark eyelashes on pink cheeks. Your English grandbaby: what a shock you'll get at his accent.

Fiddling with the radio, among the crackle that suggests thousands of miles, I've found a bit of music that's flooded me back fourteen years, half my life, into the Mercury at night when I used to sit alone in the dark, a green light from the dashboard, hovering over North America calling in Vancouver, Seattle, sometimes as far south as Texas, listening to the same song on all the stations, participating in the myth of teenage, yearning for some/body, full of love, staring at myself in the rearview mirror and daydreaming about a ducktailed highschool boy in white buck shoes, with a little curl on his forehead and as much magic in his head as I had in mine, whom I would meet, mysteriously, somehow - I guess at the same moment in Johannesburg Roy was exactly that kind of highschool boy, flirtatious and religious, athletic, romantic, how I'd have fallen! Time to grow up. Sail along silvery moon, Billy Vaughn and his orchestra.

[undated journal]

Long conversation with Luke while he was in his sleeping bag last night. We looked at the book about mammals - there was a drawing of primate hands, with the bones drawn. I showed Luke how to pinch his finger to feel the bone, pinch mine as well, told him he had bones all over inside him. He said "It's very nice to have bones." "It is nice, because it makes you strong." "An' I like your face." "My face? Why do you like my face?" I'm astonished. "Because it's ve-ry beau-ti-ful" he says carefully.

Flooded with love for him I want to tell him something very special, so I say "You know, when you were still inside me, before you came out, Roy and I said 'The baby in there is very nice, we want him to come out very much,' and then when you did come out we looked at you and we laughed and laughed because we were so happy that you had come out!" Luke's face crumpled itself and he said "I am ve-ry sad." "Why are you very sad." "Because I don't want to go in your tummy again."

-

Elias' face at the Khanka, Elias' radiant face, I don't know a face as perfect, he's God the father, smiling Jove; his countenance shines on me, brown eyes, nothing false, nothing bent, everything beams from the centre of his head.

He and Christina whispering and kissing through this weekend, telling each other in our presence, "Your nipple, my tongue, tasting, feels it rise." He says it smiling. He can say anything, from his boundless self confidence, and it holds us, makes us laugh. Christina says "Every day with Elias."

He came smiling around the corner at me. I was wiped out, obliterated, by his physical light.

25 October

The few days since coming back from Notting Hill - my house startles me, corners catch me, I stop with my hand on the door knob staring at a display of light - the piano, the windowsill in the bedroom. The green confusion of geranium leaves and cyclamen in the corner. From the toilet, blue and green clouded floor, the red chair set in the middle of it, and the yellow door opening onto it.

-

Luke saying as we went through the estate [Council housing] when the dark had fallen. "It's bright an' dark." We stood on the bridge for a long time because someone has wrenched two boards off the siding - dangerous above the tracks - Luke talking - I said "Feel my cheek, it's cold too" and he took both hands out of his pockets and felt my face up and down like feeling a carpet - kneeling beside him on the bridge.

-

Among the dreams in Tony's bed: I was in the clouds, so high up that I could clearly see the earth's curvature. The clouds were like an elastic trampoline, tossing me very gently like a sea, but then they began slowly to stretch until I was so far out (not up, because it was as if I were in space and the earth was to the side, not below) that I wondered if I could ever get back to earth.

[letter]

November

In this film I'm working with thoughts that are only very partially named - light, its presence and absence; color, its exact unnamable qualities, mass, movement, minute changes in all these; sound and its absence, reflections and their absence, forms of forms. O you can tell how much I love this film. I go into the swimming pool's room and sit up on the spectator's balcony, camera and notebook., sit and expose myself very quietly to the moments that arrive: the sun comes out and makes a rosy smudge on the skylight, reflection of a chimney. A white-skinned boy in pumpkin-orange trunks swims tirelessly back and forth across the blue pool. My lens clouds over because the room is warm and the camera is still cold. The sun disappears and a rich pool of reflection vanishes in a second. Through the one missing pane of glass in the skylight, white clouds and deep blue sky run side by side. A bird has come in. A fat little black girl with yellow plastic bracelets sits for half an hour with her feet in the water; she never goes in. Two slim children stand motionless under the warm shower, falling into the postures of resting ballerinas. The sun flashes through again and writes neon hieroglyphics on the water. The tiled bottom of the pool writhes and flashes. I follow my own thoughts about how to be faithful to all this, not tricky, not stupid, not conventional. It makes me so high and happy.

[journal]

A Saturday, November

Luke woke crying, couldn't comfort him, after a while he came and sat on me where I was sheltering in the wicker basket. "Why are you sitting here?" he said. "Because I'm thinking." "Are you thinking - on - me?" "Yes, I was wondering why you're so sad." "I'm sad because I need to go to Roy's house." Oh. After a while I was squatting near the back window and began to cry. He came quickly to stand next to me, but only looked, said nothing and didn't touch me. When I stopped and looked at him he hid his face and then turned it back with an embarrassed smile and jumped at me. "What did you do?" "I was crying." "Why?" "Because I'm sad." "Why are you sad." "Because I don't know what to do." "I don't know what to do either."

Yesterday morning when he woke before me Luke was looking at the Countryside book and found the picture of an eagle tearing the entrails out of a fox. He woke me in distress. "What's he doing?" "The eagle is eating the fox." He was nearly crying, and shouted "The fox is not food!" He didn't have words for what he wanted to say, "It isn't funny! The fox wants his daddy. The fox doesn't want to be eaten." When I told Jane about it later, Luke said "I am not the fox."

[letter]

Luke was a torrent today, woke this morning streaming with energy, jumped out of bed and got his empire of trucks and cars organized, demanded breakfast, hugged and teased me awake. There was nothing in the house to eat so we went to a café for breakfast, very special, eggs on toast, sitting side by side watching the workmen queue up for their tea and buns. Got on the bicycle again and drove on to school with a strong wind sending shoals of sycamore leaves big as plates rattling and scraping up from under our wheels like scared birds. For one thrilling moment we were in the middle of it and then it was gone, way ahead of us down the road, lifting and skimming in one movement like a flock.

-

Recurring suspicion that everything I do needs to be pushed further, everything stops too soon, I'm blinded, don't get outside to see how everything, like this writing, is still mechanical, conventional and mass-minded. Possession by the social being. Phantom. The language thinking.

Many moments when I come to out of a kind of darkness, or do I close down, into some kind of darkness, I feel something like - this is not real.

-

[undated journal]

Incident. Roy comes to see me with Luke, Luke rushes to give me a present. I'm glad to see them. Hold Roy for a long time. Say I'm very well. Luke is opening my package, I go to help him. Roy lies down, closes his eyes. I get full of panic, begin to tidy things, he's such a weight lying there. I want to tell him to go home. Ask him if he'd like to go out, or else have some coffee. He says he's been surrounded by witches and just wants to rest. Then I sit down on the chair and say "Roy I don't like you coming here and going to sleep." He says "I'm not asleep." "Metaphorically then. It makes me feel used and I don't mind being used if it doesn't interfere with me, but it does interfere with me."

Roy stands there in his plaid coat and permed hair and says "I don't mean to blackmail you but ..." and I say, "Are we going to have that speech again about how if we're not careful you're never going to see us again?" "Something like that." "Or because I have the temerity to say I don't want to be used, I dare to oppose you? You just want to be flattered like everybody else."

He stops on the rug and says "It isn't that I want to be flattered, I just want a little sympathy." I say "But it's the way you do it, you just come in and flop down, as if you don't want to be here, but you just don't want to be at the commune."

He stalks out. I mutter "That coward" and Luke runs to the window and begins to cry. I say it's alright, he'll come back. Take his hand and bring him out to where Roy is just taking things out of the car. We go back with the alphabet and raisins.

Roy says "I didn't come here with the intention of dumping him. I didn't bring his clothes. But I'm desperate, I just need to be alone for a while." "But you were all last week and that doesn't seem to have done you any good." "What a facile thing to say, as if every moment isn't different."

He's on his way out. Luke says "I want to go to Buckingham Road" and begins to cry. Roy says, hard voice, "I'm not going to Buckingham Road, I'm going to do some work." Luke hits him, Roy looks at him, gathers him in, holds him. Luke is paying no attention to me. I'm just watching and silent. They go off. I say "Luke can I say goodbye to you." He says "I want to go now." I say "Can I just say goodbye to you, it doesn't take long." He stays away and Roy says bitterly from the door "He knows where it's at" and they go out. Then they come back, knock. Roy says he just wants his alphabet. They come in, gather up the alphabet. Luke at the door says "I want to go to Buckingham Road, I want to go home." I'm just frozen. He struggles to shut the door, Roy sends him back with a packet of raisins. I come to the door and say "I want to give you a kiss because I'm glad to see you." I do and he kisses back, goes a few steps, stops and looks at me. I want to make it easier for him and say "See you" and he goes.

-

[notebook]

Christmas Eve - familiar grief because I can't make it back, there's no one here, just something lonely that envies and mistrusts, a hole. By nature so critical and still ashamed and weak about that criticism, refusing to take responsibility for it, by nature so envious and then resentful, I can't be generous to those I admire, still looking for the strategy that will make me powerful so that I can stop being envious.

Caught a star in the black puddle on the edge of a field.

Oh my life, where is it, it's crooked and it's schief, I'm so closed to everything but resentment, and in reading, little fleeting unconnected possibilities that are like escape fiction.

Am smothered with Roy, am just always smothered with men so I have to be glad when I don't care about them. Kindness from women who are kind out of habitual self abnegation.

How many times today have I said something and simply not been heard.

When we walked, the stars rolled at our own pace, through branches.

[letter]

December 31

Ten to five. Outside the kitchen door, outside the window above it, the night sky is light blue, a quarter moon with a yellow nimbus round about it, one bright star, maybe a planet, two less bright stars, and when you stare, countless other stars as pale as freckles, just coming out - like a rash you're not sure is there. The fire's purring, roaring, in its round container, one of the cats is asleep in front of it. London's wonderfully dark, like a foreign city, like Athens, because the coal miners' strike has made them turn off the street lights.

At this moment life is so tenuous, so aware of itself and aware of its own passing, that I'll just listen and tell you what's there.

The cat rattling the coal shuttle, it rings on the tiles for a second. The clock ticks, coal scrapes in a whisper as it feeds itself down into the fire. The cat licks itself noisily - this is the other cat, who's come in through the hole in the window. Cars pass.