Prospect Cottage (Perfect Lovers)
- likely a pun on prospect as "view" and as "future"
At low tide I collect large oblong flints which are uncovered by a good storm and plant them upright like a dragon's teeth in the beds. In front of them two small circles of twelves stones each form a primitive sundial. In spite of the dry summers these flower beds thrive. A little mulching helps.
Amongst the plants which grow in them are houseleeks and sedums, thrift, dianthus, saxifrage, campion, wallflower, purple iris, calendula, curry plant, rue, camomile, columbine, shirley poppy, santolina and nasturtium – and night scented stock to fill the evenings with its heavenly scent, attracting moths to drink its nectar.
I think stones can be reincarnated quite safely, but agree with John that we should quietly disappear. Though the dolt who keep driving his Land Rover all over the shingle, destroying plants, should be condemned to return. Also the Borough Council, as reincarnation obviously employs a large bureaucracy.
Elisabeth Lebovici, Ce que le sida m'a fait - Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle
Three days of a May heatwave – the greenhouse effect sets in. Dungeness is to disappear in 100 years' time beneath the waves along with its power station – which, it's said, will take 100 years to dismantle. A meteor passes close to the earth, and the ozone hole shifts over southern Australia.
HB dreamed of Howard last night.
Donny left a message to say that Howard had died.
Glorious weather and three day shoot completed. A very happy experience, everyone excited to be back together again, all the good looking boys giving each other the gentle eye. David, who HB found at his gym, sparkles in the camera. Although he's never done this before, he does everything with the precision of one born to act. Asked to kiss Peter he did so without embarrassement – I explained to him how one screen kiss from a boy like him could set 1000 hearts free, he understood.
As we drove home I dreamt of a grand procession, like the Parthenon frieze, of naked young men with wands and torches, trumpets and banners, a triumph over death for dear Howard, figures draped in diaphanous silks with golden crowns and oiled torsos, naked youths on elephants, leading white oxen with gilded horns bearing all the heroes of history, Alexander, Hadrian, Michelangelo, Whitman ...
Night sweat, hair sopping wet and freezing in the small hours. I have no strength at all. I tried to dig up a dead plant and collapsed. I can just walk to the end of the garden.
The garden is looking bright and cheerful. The Californian poppies shimmer in the sunlight - deep blue sage, pinks. The cabbages and the lupins are all out. Stephen is stripped to the waist in the sunlight. I'm freezing in a winter pullover and anorak.
Rang Alasdair, who is at sixes and sevens.
I'm as breathless as an octogenarian.
A red admiral new minted, fluttering against the kitchen window.
At five Derek B. drove me back to London. It took me ten minutes to walk from St. Giles's church to my front door. I would not have been able to walk from the station. Phones ring, doorbells.
Almroth Wright ward
I keep on seeing a glass falling in slow motion, to smash in a thousand pieces. It's so terribly slow. It takes days. Will it be a loop or clip?
Joris Ivens walking breathless into the desert to find the wind. Asthmatic. My childhood asthma takes me to the seaside, Bexhili, with Grandma Moselle. Breathless in the hotel.
Now I cannot move. If I do I'm overwhelmed with coughing, my breath stops up, panic. Pneumonia plays its own pipes that wheeze and grumble. Simon Watney says it's an 'after tremor'. What more do I need? Pneumonia and TB. Will I stand up to this?
The shadowy black bats of breathlessness swarm through the evening, roost in my lungs. The oxygen whistles up my nose like water gurgling at the dentist's. There is nothing quite as frightening as losing your breath in an attack of coughing. Clasped by the velvet wings of the bats, I throw the sheets back. At the end of the film Joris found the wind in the desert. Septrin
drips into my arm, blood taken from the arteries stings like a bee. Pneumo- cystis - till they learnt you died from this. I would mercifully pass from asphyxia to unconsciousness.
'You'll take time to recover.' TB below, pneumonia above, the line of pills has grown again. Chemical wedding. The slightest move threatens blackout. I lie facing the ceiling. I cannot turn left or right. Sleep as if I've been laid out.
Thank God you don't attend your own funeral. I wonder if I'll end up with tacky white marble - or a slab of black Purbeck, like the old tombs in Romney church, with fine freehand lettering. Nurses rush by. They are short staffed. The oxygen bubbles away. In the night it roars like a river in full flood. The doctor worries that the sun will disappear before the weekend. I say not to worry: before his time's up he might wish he could switch it off.
(MODERN NATURE pag.290 - 291)
Bought Keith Vaughan's Journal and collapsed on the bed with it. Sharing his troubles made me aware how lucky I am. I wish now I had got to know him – but when you are young you do not realise your youth is an asset. I never thought I could do anything but bore him – felt tongue-tied, unsophisticated. He mentions he was coming to my exhibition, but never made it. How he would have spent a pleasant afternoon with a group of us.
The last years of the journal are so bleak – the description of the wasps devouring the pears in his garden, flying like bullets; and he, barricaded inside, unable to enjoy a perfect autumn day.
Unlike Keith Vaughan, I'm not out of love with myself. I still retain vain illusions that I am desirable. I hardly drink – unless out on some escapade. Smoke the occasional joint. Last night I went to the Heath without either, though I took a bottle of poppers – a habit I acquired late. I have successfully given up smoking. I still retain a strong sense of self-preservation, though I feel in tune with his depression. His diaries gather in strength until the suicide:'I've taken the pills.'