The Black Notebook
That was the material that made Frontiers of War. Of course, the two ‘stories’ have nothing at all in common. I remember very clearly the moment I knew I would write it. I was standing on the steps of the bedroom block of the Mashopi hotel with a cold hard glittering moonlight all around me. Down beyond the eucalyptus trees on the railway lines a goods train had come in and was standing and hissing and clattering off clouds of white steam. Near the train was George’s parked lorry, and behind it the caravan, a brown painted box of a thing that looked like a flimsy packing case. George was in the caravan at that moment with Marie — I had just seen her creep down and climb in. The wet cooling flower-beds smelt strongly of growth. From the dance room came the drumming of Johnnie’s piano. Behind me I could hear the voices of Paul and Jimmy talking to Willi, and Paul’s sudden young laugh. I was filled with such a dangerous delicious intoxication that I could have walked straight off the steps into the air, climbing on the strength of my own drunkenness into the stars. And the intoxication, as I knew even then, was the recklessness of infinite possibility, of danger, the secret ugly frightening pulse of war itself, of the death that we all wanted, for each other and for ourselves.
[A date, some months later.]
I read this over today, for the first time since I wrote it. It’s full of nostalgia, every word loaded with it, although at the time I wrote it I thought I was being ‘objective’. Nostalgia for what? I don’t know. Because I’d rather die than have to live through any of that again. And the ‘Anna’ of that time is like an enemy, or like an old friend one has known too well and doesn’t want to see.