Evening Prayer Brunswick Heads, 6 June, 2020, oil on canvas board
I began a diary on 26 January, 1986. I was on a boat from Ancona to Piraeus, two nights and a full day of travel. The boat left late on the evening of the 25th and I had drunk much wine in a cafe in the Port before embarking. The next day in the early afternoon with a slight hangover I sat on the reclining chairs and started this diary in earnest. We sailed South and in the sky an army of small white clouds seemed to run past us in great haste back towards Italy. Surprisingly, I have pretty much written everyday ever since. It became a habit as I was hoping it would, finally.
So, I include excerpts here in these pages as a supplement to my visual life. I began to transcribe them into my laptop 2 years ago. Little by little, word by word, needless to say, it has been a very, very slow process. I am only up to BOOK 4,... that's how slow it is. And yet what a pleasure it is to relive old memories, old trips, so many failed paintings, but so many great sunsets! So many museums in Europe in which I loved to be lost. There are two weird truths which come out of going through these old diaries.
One: I see that I was so much more grateful and full of joy than I remember during all those years. I had always, erroneously imagined that I was eternally depressed, but the diary tells me otherwise despite my sadness and sense of solitude often expressed in these pages.
Two: I realise just how golden it is to have youth on one's side, to have one's health. This is a precarious life for most of us, and to have good health is to have a great advantage. Health and Youth!
And I come away from this by seeing that if Then was golden, then surely today is just as golden too. In twenty years time when I shall indeed be an old man, will I look back and marvel at,... no,... will I be Grateful for just how wonderful my life is TODAY?
1 November, 1989 (Châteaunoir)
Blood red sunsets these days. Small red lights sit on the trees as if they have been pasted upon them. It reminds me of the women in India who paste their cow dung onto the trees for drying, then use them for cooking. I remember so many trees covered with pale polka dots lining the dusty roads as far as I could see. And these trees too, at the Châteaunoir are also a tactile experience as well as a visual one. These Oak and Pine trees wearing red rubies likes medals pinned to their chests as far as I could see this evening.