volume 3 of london: 1970-71 december-december  work & days: a lifetime journal project









Luke's first year. Part 1 begins with Luke's birth. Soon afterwards both of us are in Coppetts Wood isolation hospital - Roy has infected me with hepatitis. When we get home he plows a swath through my friends. Part 2 the anti-psychiatrist David Cooper has moved in with us, Roy is drunk and violent. I write my thesis for the Slade film program with Luke asleep in a carrycot under the table. Summer stay on my own in a cabin in Wales. Part 3 my mother, father and youngest brother come to Europe to take advantage of Roy's camper van. An uncomfortable camping trip on the continent with them. When they go home I decide that since Roy is unfaithful I must be too, begin an affair with a BBC documentary director I meet in the BFI library. Move out of Roy's flat to a damp cold single room in a basement on Burghley Road. Part 4 my first women's liberation movement event, a film conference.

Mentioned: Luke, Roy Chisholm, Mary Epp, Catherine Chisholm, Mafalda Reis, David Cooper, Katrin Zaugg, Neil Middleton, Michael Bateman, Rosalynd de Lanerolle, Ida and Ifor Davies, Colin Thomas, Helen Hattori, Margaret and Alan Thomas, Chris and Debby Day, Catherine Chisholm, John Rowley, Dee Price, Jerry Reznick, Madeleine Murray, Rick Behrman, Jill Chisholm.

Heath Lodge 4 St Albans Road, Coppett's Wood Isolation Hospital, Parliament Hill Fields, Alexander Palace, Cartreff Dan-y-Coed Wales, Kentish Town library, Whittington Hospital, west coast of Ireland, Dingle strand, 52 Burghley Road NW5, Capri Grill.

Ronald Laing, Blake, unidentified book about Bergman, Dylan I Once knew a girl, Cohen You know who I am, Cooper The death of the family, NFT's Le retour, Farrebique, Monica Vitti, the Kabouters in Amsterdam, Winnicott, James Taylor You can close your eyes, Dürer, Agee, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Mouchette, Marker script for Si j'avais quatre dromadaires, The Welcome 1888, John Winter: a Story of Harvests, Joni Mitchell, Rilke, Colin McInnes, The creation, Alexandria quartet, Elaine Feinstein Marriage, Elinor Wylie Now let no charitable hope, Forbidden Films Festival, Women's Liberation Film Workshop, Selma James, Sylvia Plath For a fatherless son, the Oxford Companion to Film.

University College Hospital, 17 December 4 a.m.?

Luke Chisholm is born, came this morning at quarter to two, with Roy watching, very fast.

I don't know what kind of day it is; I hardly noticed yesterday, saw only the eclipsed afternoon in Kentish Town through smoked ambulance windows, nine hours of labour with only one uneasy hour at the end, lay peaceful between pains with Roy silent in the chair beside me, wanting to be left alone, everything working calmly to give birth.


Afternoon - he has cool silky hands and feet. I remember last night that when they put him to my breast I could just feel a bare foot against the inside of my forearm, a thrilling bit of flesh.

This morning during all the pitch black hours between four and nine I lay awake feeling proud of myself because we'd given such a perfect birth. Such timing, such a perfect rising curve! Roy came just when I wanted to phone him because the pains were beginning to be potent. It grew darker outside, and then silent in the corridor when I began really to struggle. We were so still together. I remember spaces between pains that were perfectly peaceful, all my body rounded up and soft as cream. Roy was exactly right, just present, resting and watching, stroking my back.


Evening - dusty smell of mimosa to evoke Roy and last spring, Roy came feeling strange and guilty about something, I feel today running out much thinner than it began this morning when I sat in the nursery staring at my funny little baby. I'm reluctant to let it go -

18 December

He has gone to sleep lying against me with his hands folded over each other.


Oh little Luke, I am in love with you. I'm crazy about your big feet. I'm delighted with the way you hold your legs crossed up against your belly with your feet folded around your sides. Wow, I love you when you stretch your arm in your sleep and when you fold your hands under your chin.You bump your hand against your mouth and it opens wide - you suck your finger, but it isn't right. You make a face and push your head off the sheet; you're waking up.

I love this place, brick building that allowed me in only when I was ready, made me progress from room to room until, in the dark and silence, I came to this long ward and the bed in the far left corner. Here's my cell-shrine with candles and flowers at the foot of the bed, the smell of mimosa, and ceremonial meetings with new Luke. Other people coming to pay tribute and bring offerings, all the virgins meeting at the center to discuss their rites, all their secular lives left outside. I realized today that I hardly remember what happened even last Sunday. We gracefully meet and welcome new women. Last night, they brought up a suitcase and I sat up to watch, all stiff with interest. And when I saw the girl wheeled to the edge of her bed I began to cry because she looked so pale and delicate, with her hair still damp around her face, shy from her miracle. I cried because I remembered my own arrival. Greeting the creature, that big mouth, that bare silky foot. The dark, the letter for Roy, and another wonder, the pigeons' cool bubbling in the eaves over my black window. Babies crying at the far end of the corridor, voices, footsteps, traffic, my own excitement of pride and confidence, a physical tingle of joy. A short vigil, I wish I could remember it exactly and have it again - and then morning, and I got out of bed to go sit shyly beside Luke's cot and look at him, learn him, make friends with him.

- My nipples prickle when I look at him now.

New Years Eve

Remember this Christmas: coming home on the 23rd to the flat clean, grass-smelling, full of anemones, freesia, mimosa, and orange and gold chrysanthemums on the blue-topped table. Joy near tears all day and the next. On Christmas Eve, fighting, crying, hitting each other in bed, and on Christmas Day the sadness of it still left. This week, familiar thinness, remoteness, impatience, worry, secret touch-wood doubts, fatigue, jealousy.

Nostalgia for the time I was in labour - physical nostalgia for that blissful sleepiness and concentration.

23 January

Familiar states, something new coming, something dissolving away into terror, tension like a vast starry cold sky in my stomach, tenderness that forgives everything, peace; recollection "begins with loss, hence it is secure, for it has nothing to lose."

Creature in your only life.
That thin arm stiff with anger flashing a cigarette.

Kindly and thrashing with fury; like myself, when I must do two things at once, wait patiently and defend myself from being taken for granted, overlooked, overtaken.

Half smile - "You aren't going to leave me are you?" My blind grief nods.

The January skies have begun, rain at night, beautiful desolation.

Hey creature:
In our only lives
Fury and kindness fight it out
Like January, and
We're grateful.

Coppett's Wood Isolation Hospital,

Several nights ago, after vicious war all day, touching R in bed with my bum and going to sleep utterly comforted. The night after, skinny body coming and going all night to talk to me through my exhaustion. "I just wanted to make one thing clear ..." Quarrelsome, but this time I see it's affectionate; skinny boy, it's nice, this holiday from you.

January 31

Roy conned me into giving him my last thirty pounds, coolly lied to me - said he had no money, when he had over 400 pounds.


When I let myself know how strange Roy is to me, how estranged we are, my stomach knots with fear. I have nothing certain in my life, everything is in question. I've nothing but faith in past recurrences to make me believe I've got any love left - sometimes it's possible to make an explosion that blasts love free and makes me a trusting, loving, hoping little girl. And the mysterious visits of sexual joy and peace that let me know what it's like not to be frozen.

My Puritan and organizing self says, either commit yourself, or else separate. But the deliberate action is not there yet. And what would it mean, committing myself to an attempted marriage at a time of such trouble that the commitment would be almost completely abstract? How do people live? By going where I have to go.

And yet, terror and grief. A long tear going from top to bottom of me.


"I'm going through such changes. I don't want to scare you. I have such a call to holiness." [Roy]

And I say that I've always understood that, in my belly. I have a call to holiness too - holiness and adventure. He leaned on his elbow and looked at me: his face was dark because the window was behind him, but I felt my face almost stroked, or just felt. I felt felt. And that was like a kiss at the end of a movie. Makes me happy today, full of love and clarity.

The duplicity of the call to holiness - it's real and it is what it says it is; but it's also a call away from actually making bottles, buying paddipads, doing laundry, confronting angry sick real me and other such non-angelic things that have to do with real fathering and friending. In me, it's also always the useful call to abandoning struggles with angry real him and simply leaving.

Uses of journals -

February 23rd

In David's notebook: "All we in our generation can do is guide young people by the revelation of our agony, our despair and, more simply, our mistakes."

Sunday morning when I told Roy I was contemptuous of him, his simple obsessive rampage through women's bodies, his hypocrisy and duplicity and deviousness and cowardice - he shouted "You don't have anything to teach me" and walked out.

I came to my door and saw him naked at the door of his room, where Claudia was sleeping - accusing him at the door of the bathroom: "So that was what it was all about; you just had to get into her." He came into my room and said in his most seductive voice: "You're so special to me." Traitor!

David running after me into my room pleading with me not to reject him too - to trust him to look after me - "You're two of a kind, same treachery, same sophistries" - "Sophistries?" pleading - yes, sophistries - and such desperation, such pain. Ah Roy, who are you, I'll never know. The house is full of his vitality. And I could never have imagined such treachery, such falsity. Such fury - clubbing my head in the bathroom, frantic. My young small kernel-me longs back to every good hope I had; the alternatives are horrible. It's me coming to know horrible grief, fear, loneliness.


These days, a new kind of dialogue in me, very critical but excited about possibilities - perceptions of my own falsity, absence, conventionality - how I misuse language and this journal too, always have, but what I'm constructing now interests me less than what I constructed when I wrote those more excited more conventional younger journals.

31 March

Dream, after Christmas, before all this - a small boy and I, at a seaside resort, at night in the moonlight, go over the deep dune to the beach and lie sliding on the ice, so that we can see many people on the hillside beside the beach - dark blue night, lying in peace, the hillside coming into sight like a revelation.

Several nights ago, a dream of going to a wide white beach, again at night, and lying on the (grass green) waves serenely rising, shifting. Floating over their crests as they fell under me.

Cooper downstairs crying out with drunk pain and loneliness, Roy coldly gone to bed in his room, I coldly in mine.

Took Luke to the cemetery today, damp smell of new plants, steamy air - Luke smiling, crying, earnestly talking with his whole body straining, kicking with his pants off, intently sucking juice out of a section of orange, asleep with his head turned toward one fist; awake at seven this morning and insisting on it; friendly. Ah baby Luke.

Roy shouting to David and Henry: "You shut up! If you wake the fucking baby I'll hit you so hard!"

"I'm the candyman. You're the little girl who waits for me to come 'round."

Good Friday

Mafalda has been here making pots - domestic drama (my cheeks still stinging), two policemen saying "You'll have to come to some agreement between you" (but one of them saying to Roy "I know we all have our irritations, and between men ..., but myself, I don't believe in hitting little babies, or women"), me yelling down the stairs after him that of all the men I know he's the most white-livered (can't remember what else); Mafalda attacking him with the telephone but the cord too short, and then breaking a milk bottle in the kitchen and Roy running away out of the door; Dee offering tea while I paced with Luke; then Luke falling asleep crooked in my arm while Mafalda cried and R sat with his hand on her head (then gathered up his striped coat and said "I must go now because David is in a very bad state and and I promised him I'd be home soon," politely, kindly).

Last night, drunk on almost a whole bottle of Haig, his prick limp as a wiener; this morning the wind chimes like a drift of hovering one-winged one-eyed smoky butterflies against the sky, beside the daffodils (I felt I could see and say them only to him - it isn't true).

What is it? Psychotic breakdown, but what is psychotic? A whirl like clothes in the spin drier, true and false, malice and tenderness, kindness and fury, stupidity and cunning, generosity and greed, envy and contempt and compassion, treachery and loyalty. It has little to do with me: Luke and David, between them, freak him out.

We were close and warm last night after many tears; I felt drunk myself and hardly remember it. Only laughter. Confusion - we are now sometimes much closer to what I dreamed and expected.


Katrin [Zaugg] described Roy's smile on the staircase, while we talked to the policeman, as the smile of a naughty little boy who is delighted with himself for his own badness - after clubbing both me and Mafalda really brutally. (Buddy talks about worms at the center.) I had a horrified vision of brutality, basic cruelty, psychopathy, something ready to kill me while I sleep. So masculine, desperate and so in control even when out of control.

R sat on the carpet while drunk enough to be almost truthful and said "I can be anyone but I can switch it off any time" - I had a cold still vision at that moment too: the flying Dutchman without a soul, desperate to feign one, and borrowing whatever he can find of others'.

Katrin saying she'd had a vision, for an instant, of me turned into a source of light just at heart level - the moment when my heart dropped seeing R so evil, losing hope. The slow learning to question everything he says.

Tonight as it grew dark I dug useful seeds into the garden and the birds sang.

Of course you're still with me and lie on all my days like a dust. I'm so faithful; far more than you can imagine, even when, on my first totally joyful day in such a long time, I'm glad you're absent and it is my own.

I'm ashamed to be as limited as I am. I fail us. You.


Talking to Mafalda last night I found a complicated peaceful sense of how painful a life is settling into me - of its immediate, personal, but real drama - some new pain, some new freedom, some new battering of my pride. We sat on the floor, M showed me a poem, I showed her one. I'd sneaked into the kitchen wanting to cry with loneliness and strangeness and she followed me after a while, but so tactfully and kindly, and talked so generously about her own pain and loneliness that we both began to feel endlessly courageous and ready to go into endless even more bitter battles - ah Roy Chisholm.


Neil Middleton [of Penguin] suddenly coming alive to speak to me out of his plump nondescript silence: timbre of intelligence and sympathy - I was publicly fighting with Roy in front of the Sunday Times man (Michael Bateman) and him - Roy eventually and miraculously cowed! The exhilaration of speaking another kind of language that is my own - the warmth of that respectful presence making me tingle with my own intelligence - I said, of my jealousy of David and R's intimacy, "One is lonely, and imagines that others are less lonely." [The men were at the flat interviewing Cooper for a story about the death of the family.]

I'm learning brutality as respect for my own life.

Memory of a wide field of weeds Greg and I came upon, in the Triumph, when we'd lost our way on a dirt road - ugly, dusty, flat. Why do I remember it?

May 1

I asked Mafalda what it is that he has - and she says tenderness.

At the May Day carnival today, a little wiry terrier curled up on my lap in a warm triangle between my legs - a wonderful hard round body under his fur and such a shaggy modest manner, I loved him. The towers of London City blue and dim, quite beautiful, spaced all around the southern horizon. Green space so vast, a brilliant kite, escaped balloons flying southwest over the trees at the bottom of the fields. A patch of blossom and new leaf - yellow, white, pale green and branchy poised like a flower arrangement. Thin sun, Luke a fat-faced caterpillar, Luke who's there faithfully every morning.

Alexander: "He takes on the character of whoever he's with to such an extent."

Such a finely tuned sympathy that one feels known for the first time.

It is by skill; by consciousness, by innocence, by intelligence, by love, by magic we shall win and only thus ... whereas this other: his death, his destroying, it is quiet, subtle, continuous, very slow, in quite great part deluded, in some part the doing of most tenderly intended love.

11th May

Dark late evening, stood holding R's shoulders through the window of his van, lit up with a little happy meeting - in my long jungle red dress and red boots and black shawl, felt his naked shoulder through the split in his jacket - he's ready for the summer, has his dancer's body back, drunk and silly earlier, then pulled together again.

Remember Greek dinner date, giddy with rain, flirting, dizzy, wine, the black Trinidad boy next to me, Roy and I playful like last year, but bragging of Luke at home - then crossed the wet street, excited, went home to bed, screwed, landmark: I 'came,' like an unexpected little rose blossoming-opening slowly deep in my body.

22 May

While I was babysitting at Rosalynd's, Roy phoned me, very drunk; I could hardly understand what he was saying - then not at all - then just heavy breathing and then light, sleeping, breathing. When I realized he was asleep I sang him James Taylor's lullaby, like Mouchette singing to Arsène:

The sun is slowly sinking down
But the moon is slowly rising
This old world will still be spinning round
And I still love you

(The tape I played to Luke again and again in Coppett's Wood.)

Then I held the receiver listening to his sleep - I tried to hang up, but the telephone didn't disconnect, so I just held it for a long time with the receiver on my shoulder while I read Marker's script for Si j'avais quatre dromadaires.

The moment this morning when I just braced myself against (toward) his wonderful bucking come - he shouts and his body moves like a dance of a spasm, so fierce and graceful, like a tree whipping. That moment is like a climax for me, I love him for it, in it.

Whipping ecstatic body; silly boy gratuitously drunk; respectful man courteously bringing me.

Luke lies asleep next to me; I touch his open palms to see if they're warm.

End of May

Dream: I walked along a seaside. The ocean perfectly clear, clear as glass, perfectly still, coming motionlessly onto the white beach, small fine white pebbles - a sunny yellow perfectly clear light. There on the beach, cast up, were boxes and old suitcases tied with string, with presents inside.

Roy said goodbye to David and has vanished. All day I'm uneasy and his absence grows.

I'm writing well, it's four in the morning, birds sing and the clouds are running in the wind, like foam, bits tearing off, the currents of wind in the house scare me, Roy are you listening to this morning?

[undated letter]

Luke: on the floor beside my worktable in his green bed, smiling and wriggling, singing joy because it's morning, so excited to see me, struggling to swim up into the air and move about, gnawing his thumb, grabbing my finger. His eyes are still deep blue-grey and shining. When I look away from him to tell you about him he cries, but when I turn to speak to him he writhes with delight.

[From this point the journal has been ripped across by Roy in a fit of jealousy.]

[undated journal, early June]

Cartreff, Dan-y-Coed, Wales, Sunday

Ida telling me of the morning in the hospital at Fishguard, 3 a.m., they came to tell her that her two month premature baby daughter had died - did she want to see it? - couldn't it wait until morning? - no, for it had to be taken to the mortuary. "It was like a little doll." And she's often thought of it since, high blood pressure and ayeroplanes passing in her head, hair on her face that isn't there, the kettle boiling when it's not on the stove. Lovely square-faced woman; and she's never had another baby.

Walked far up the road tonight listening and smelling - sat in the old church looking at the delicate light, found strawberries, waded through nettles and fern to find the old graves, found pink wild carrot, bachelor buttons, wild forget-me-not, wine-pink grasses, foxglove, ivy and fat little ferns in the ruins, blue herbal spikes, wild roses - smells rising in their local patches, like the wildflowers, like the sudden roar of little brooks. At Bessie's, old Mrs Howells with her hair in a braid and a broad intelligent smile, poised and forward like a little girl, eighty one, lovely thin legs in grey cotton stockings, gnarled stained arms, peace and curiosity, such graciousness.

Several resolves emerging in my quiet full of bitter whispers: some kind of new growth from my own roots, some sort of renewed hope from my old heart's desires (in the van shouting defiantly at Roy: "I've seen what happens to women who consent to become second fiddle, or second string. They can't recognize their heart's desire, they can never say what they want, they can never say their heart's desire. And they die of it.")

Last week I showed my slides to David and Sylvia, Katrin, Priscilla and Judy - I performed, I built my own emotion so that when I came to the last, I flashed my pictures, building up some kind of tension with my heart's beating, until the last two slides from the Kootenays: "They're what I know about joy." I had silenced myself, and went out to the Heath still silent and beating with excitement - felt in my pocket - suddenly thought - an idea really grown out of my pride and excitement - I'll do it, I can do it, it's right, it's time. [threw Roy's opal ring into the pond]

I had realized how powerful I am, how much of me is wasted and held down, how my face grows old in my despair with Roy.

[July notebook from trip to the Continent with my mother, father, brother, Roy and Luke in a VW camper van]

Father when he eats - sits apart, hunched over his plate, such a misery about him, I always feel accused - the movements of his mouth, like a horse, lips back - no, not exactly - a miserable hunched munching.

His braces he keeps up with string - he says bitterly "I keep fighting them, they're too short."

His carefully gathered information about economics, Swiss banks - we know it already - Roy says "um."

He wants to do famous things, things that are worldwide, "internationally known," wants to take pictures of things that people will say "oh" about or laugh about - lives for others, but what is his own is mainly his anxiety about safety and money, the two things I mustn't criticize.

I should call this, subtitle, phenomenology of hate - I'm full of spite, even my pity is spiteful.


Between them, she makes the placating gestures, he makes the loving ones.

October 13

Talking to Rosalynd last night about how to move out without scaring Roy, two a.m. raining and warm, we sat drinking coffee in the kitchen and were very fluent. I hadn't realized, until I told her, how independent Luke is of me - he hasn't relaxed in my arms since he was a tiny baby, he uses me and everyone to hold him up - help him reach further. He loves Roy, his face goes bright when he sees him. Already he's not my little son - I'd no idea that we could space ourselves out from each other so much before he's ten months old. I'm sad because he brightens more for Roy than for me. But even Roy he doesn't snuggle with.


26 October

I have a new address: 52 Burghley Road, London NW5. It's near St Alban's Road, down the hill toward Kentish Town. Luke and I have run away from home and are living in a cheap room in some pottery-classes friend's basement. I haven't broken up with Roy but have sort of left him. We moved out one day while R was at the dentist's.


Roy's mother! What a well-meaning sweet little rosebush thorn - "How's my little baby, my little angelface?" and I want to say "Excuse me, this is my little angelface; your little angelface has a hangover." "How's his cold, are you sure you should take him home? Why don't you leave him here overnight? I can't bear to part with him. Shall I make him some applesauce? Can I buy you some honey? Will you bring me his sweaters to wash? Can I buy you some Vicks? Are you sure it's not too cold? Look at his pale little cheeks. Ta-ta little angleface, say goodbye to your granny, you're going ta-tas. Oooh I don't like that cough."



When I went to Heath Lodge this morning Roy was there. I walked through the sunny front rooms, came downstairs to all the trees blazing outside the living room. Sat down and cried because it was so warm and so beautiful, still, clean and bright. It broke me down. Roy came and knelt in front of me, put his arms around me and cried, and then we both laughed. "My brother knocked me down. Then I knocked my brother down. And then we went in for tea," he said, and went off into the kitchen to turn off the coffee water.

This evening I was so exhausted and irritated that I was rough with Luke for the first time since he was born.

Sunday November 7

For love we were forced to substitute a wiser but crueller mental tenderness which emphasized loneliness rather than expurgated it.

Simply we have something to learn from each other. What is it?

that amoral world where curiosity and wonder seem greater than order

the natural traitors are dead and live this life as a sort of limbo. Yet the living can't do without us. We infect them with a desire to experience more, to grow.

The anguished curiosity which for me has always been the largest part of sensuality

Indulge but refine everything in order to make men's wholeness match the wholeness of the universe.

Lovers are never equally matched - do you think? One always overshadows the other and stunts his or her growth so that the overshadowed one must always be tormented by a desire to escape, to be free to grow.

I was gradually, inexplicably, becoming more and more deficient in love, yet better and better at self giving - the part of myself which was forever beyond reach, the last painful refuge of which was, for me laughter and friendship

We who have traveled much and loved much I will not say suffered for we have always recognized through suffering our own self-sufficiency - only we appreciate the complexities of tenderness and understand how narrowly love and friendship are related.

Poets are not really serious about ideas or people. They regard them as pretty, yes. They are for use. But there is no question of them being true or false, or having souls. In this way the poet preserves his freshness of vision, and finds everything miraculous.

The object of writing is to grow a personality which in the end enables man to transcend art.

the compost of secret pleasures and treacheries which are an inseparable part of every human relation

how to harness time in the cultivation of a style of heart

Durrell: something to learn about that: how to harness time in the cultivation of a style of heart; very little time, Roy at Camden Town tube station laughing with me, next to the ticket machines, I with his anti-poppy long stemmed dark red carnation running like a spine up the front of my fur vest, he in his jeans and Canadian plaid jacket. He weeps when we talk about our separation. In my room this morning, lying on my bed, his face would still itself and then his jaw would begin to tremble, I would rush to hold him and he would cry. When he turned onto his side, I turned him onto his back again to see his face crying. Once Luke hit his nose hard and he cried even harder. We look into each other's eyes. At Camden Town tube I cried out "I like you so much!" and we both laughed, but then I was glad to go on and now I'm glad to be alone; yet I'm happy because he's liking me so faithfully these days - not specifically me, it's true; yet he knows me.

I mean to work at finding a style of heart, but I don't even begin to tell myself anything I don't know, oh Roy. Luke holding the bars of his bed, standing up, smiling to see Roy, and Roy's smile to him, his sad nose and his stiff smile pushing against it - myself watching them greet each other.


Meaning is not a fact but a mood, death is the meaning, no I wouldn't want to be eighteen all my life; my skin becomes rougher, my waist is a little flabby, I'll be glad to be thirty, no, not to be closer to my death, I don't want to wrap myself up like a parcel to be mailed away, but I love this movement in my life and it's this movement that unwinds my body till I die.


Luke: last night I came to Roy's mother's to get Luke: there he was sprawling on her lap, with a bottle, in dark blue, looking long as a child - seeing me and smiling, struggling across to me and smiling at my knee.

Women's lib film workshop weekend: both Saturday and Sunday nights, voices swirling in my head. My own strident pushy voice - speaking up in the old confident way and then scaring me with its echo - I'm fighting to be Somebody, to come in and push straight through, in a place I can handle; I'm strung tight with ambition, excitement, other voices: strategic, impulsive, spontaneous: where's my low-pitched understated reflective reserve and the mysterious respectability it commands? Who's this strident person full of plans, working so hard to be seen and be friended?

Suzie sitting on the platform step, stocky pink bundle of smiling energy, all politics, all happiness, innocence: blushing deep red, as I did, when I went to meet her: embarrassed and flustered by my half (yes) superiority and half conspiratorial good will. Hair in two mousy bunches, beautiful clear skin and eyes; she's a little person confiding and unpremeditated in her conference self as a kid, "the movement's made such a difference in my life," "I was looking at my notes and there it all was, so simple, so easy to say."

A girl sitting on the floor: skirt and floppy sweater, big low breasts bouncing as she bends to reach for her bag: thick blond hair cut off short and shapelessly, sticking up at the back, a thick deep neck and rising on it with such clarity and dignity a small, pointed face, fine skin flushed clear pink, a fine nose, clear clear eyes, a small mouth: such intelligence and reserve, turning so gracefully above her red stockings, talking so calmly and easily without any self-consciousness, no humour - but a smile she turned on someone who came in - a girl? a brother? Long and unequivocal as a kiss, real calm passion - she's simply clear, with everything held firmly and beautifully in reserve, played out without any deceit or foolishness as it comes - none of my own knots of frantic ambition, skimpy erratic jags of euphoria, muddled hurry and hunger, spots, wisps of vanity, fidgeting; large still quiet body with its burning face, all uncompromisingly herself. Is she lesbian? Is she sexual at all? Completely sexual?

I want to know what I was to her. I'm accused. Am I so obviously anxious? Do I feel so smart-aleck because I could play in the debate and be part of it - because I transgressed my role? Or my nature? Or my style? Or my best manner?

I feel her as myself: I see her as the centred radiant moments of my life when I was as clear and flushed as that, in Oxford with Roy, Christmas Eve with Luke; ah, have I made her up?

Styles of radical femininity.

Selma James: sitting in a back seat near the end of Sunday afternoon - hair down, that vivid experienced worn lined pouched pointed face - speaking at an American convention, face darting forward out of the screen, very dark and very muscular - candid, complex, ironic, funny - she's the counterpart to the girl in the red stockings; willing to dramatize herself and use herself, shout, but all in it all extend her range and power, not so unitary or so unexploded, but in magnificent periodic (?) explosion. "You lifted the whole end of that film."


It's true that all weekend I felt not only ambition but actual potency-ality, as if I'm opening, and so losing my unexploded mystery (which I always felt to be a little false anyway) - clumsily becoming an explosive power - ie a person, leader. (But I'm slow: the incident with the skin flic at the Forbidden Films festival; it took me so long to feel my own deep furious humiliation.) And why not think strategically of using myself, staging myself, as long as I keep it possible to use and stage myself with more and more accurate an integrity.

Friday 17th December

"I'll tell you the secret, if you like. It's undermining the intellectual conversation ... not sexual ... feel recognized ... not an illusion, I actually do recognize them."


"When I think of the new order, I think of you as its first inhabitant. Your ways of thinking, instinctively in ways I can't." [Colin] in a restaurant on the way to Guildford.

I was talking of my fear of Roy outshining me. He asked: "And when Roy goes on, are you proud of him?" "Yes. And ashamed."


Roy as a specialist in sex, in seduction and in chaos, seductive chaos.

The poisonous berry that you are and know yourself to be.