Shadwell didn’t require much encouragement. It was easy to see that he was clever and well read, but he was also boring. Like many spectacular bores, his thoughts were catalogued and indexed. When I asked him a question he’d say, “The answer to that is – in fact the several answers to that are…A.” And you’d get point A followed by points B and C, and on the one hand F, and on the other foot G, until you could see the whole alphabet stretching ahead, each letter a Sahara in itself to be crawled across.
* * *
“Concentrate on the way you think your position in society has been fixed,” said Pyke.
Being sceptical and suspicious, the English sort to be embarrassed by such a Californian display of self, I found the life-stories – accounts of contradiction and wretchedness, confusion and intermittent happiness – oddly affecting. I giggled all through Lawrence’s account of working in a San Francisco massage parlour (when she was stranded there), where the women were not allowed to proposition men directly in case they were cops. They had to say, “Is there any other muscle you’d like relaxed, sir?” This was where Lawrence discovered socialism, for here, in a forest of pricks and pond of semen, “I soon realized that nothing human was alien to me,” as she put it.
Richard talked about wanting to fuck only black men, and the clubs he cruised constantly in order to acquire them. And to Pyke’s delight and my surprise Eleanor told of how she’d worked with a woman performance artist who persuaded her to extract the texts of poems – “Cows’ teeth like snowdrops bite the garlic grass” – from her vagina before reading them. The performance artist herself meanwhile had a microphone up her vagina and relayed the gurglings of her cunt to the audience. This was enough for me. I was hot on Eleanor’s trail. For the time being I gave up on Terry.