volume 5 of london: 1973 january-july  work & days: a lifetime journal project

 

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In this volume consciousness raising group, lively friendships, pottery classes at the Camden Institute, Barry Salt's avant garde cinema course. Luke is two, living alternate weeks with me on Burghley Rd and with Roy at the commune on Buckingham Rd in Islington. January-June have daily records in a Boots Diary as well as notebooks and regular journal and letters to my mother. Part 1 begins with a trip to Morocco with John Rowley.

Mentioned: John Rowley, Jouti Mohammed, Habiba Rafai, David Davies, Rosalynd de Lanerolle and Ayisha, Roy Chisholm, Jud Pratt, Sue Finch, Francis King, Sarah Black, Catherine Chisholm, Margaret Gosley and Shoshanna, Helen Hattori, Barbara Quart, Ian MacIntosh, Michael Horowitz, Noel Burch, James Leahy, Chris Leonard, Keith Jackson, Mark Nash, Jean Morrison, Andy Wyman, Madeleine Murray, Jane Downey, Tarmo de Jongh, Michelene Wandour, Mari Gaffni, Barbara Halpern Martineau, Robin Wood, Dee Price and Anna, Carola Moon, Prosper Devas, Katrin Zaugg, Mafalda Reis, Colin Thomas.

Pension Kasbah in Tangiers, Hotel Regina in Meknes, Kenifra, Hotel de France in Marrakesh, Marché de la Porte Rouge, Ghmat, Camden Institute, Slade film program of University College, 51 Buckingham Rd N1 (Random Association commune), Portobello Road, Highgate Forest, Caenwood House, London Film Co-op in the Dairy, British Film Institute, Kentish Town library, Tufnell Park station, Jimmy's restaurant, Swiss Cottage library, Compendium bookstore, Flaxman Terrace, Schmidt's restaurant, Highgate Hill, Cellier du Mini, Gospel Oak estates, the Tate, the Ark restaurant in Notting Hill, Windermere, Royal Oak Hotel in Borrowdale, Parliament Hill, Green Park, the Design Centre, Crocodile store, Westminster Bridge, East Anglia, 123 Children's Community Centre, Euston Road, Earl of Strafford's estate, Scrubbs Bottom, Bloomsbury Cinema, New River Walk, the Roundhouse, Pied Bull at the Angel, Parkhill Nursery, NFT, Dalston Junction, Kentish Town Baths, Middle Temple church, Waterlow Park, Highgate Cemetery, Museum of Natural History, Russell Square, Golder's Hill, Painswick, Tony's café in Tufnell Park, British Museum, Tenby, Ruislip Lido, the Rising Sun, 75 Dartmouth Park Hill, Dillons bookstore, Continental Café, Westminster Reference Library, East Anglia, Potter Heigham, British Commonwealth Library of Modern Poetry, Tozer and Sons coal merchants, Stockshop on Wardour.

the Anti-Discrimination Bill rally in Caxton Hall, Women's Day March, Women's Films from America program, Cosmo magazine, Moulay Ismail, Robin Bryans in Morocco*, Fellini, Gertrud, Miss Julie, Los Olvidados, Jaibo, Ochitos, L'Atalante, La jetée, Artists of the big top - disoriented, Werner Neke, La Salamandre, Storm over Asia, Boudu Sauvé des Eaux, The man with the movie camera, The greatest show on earth, The general line, The Year of the 10 million, Djengo Reinhardt, Relativity, A jester's tales, Earth, The lady from Constantinople, Queen of Spades, Fantomas, Mercer An afternoon at the Festival, Straub The bridegroom the comedian and the pimp, Nicht Versöhnt, Le Jolie Mai, Ceremony, Charme discret de la bourgeousie, Brigid Seagrave Poor Claires, Six cinetracts, Written on the wind, Czech film Intimate lighting, Two-Lane Blacktop, Judge Roy Bean, Long day's journey into night, Mutiny on the Bounty, Varda Les creatures, Kwai-dan, The Birds, Sontag Brother Carl, A page of madness, La collectioneuse, L'immortelle, Lady sing the blues, Soleil O, Mare's tale, Jonas Mekas Diaries, Hollis Frampton, Brakhage, Jordan Belsen, Whitney's Yantra and Mantra, Arden The other side of underneath, Robert Breer, Scott Bartlett Moon 69, Fluxus films, Paul Sharitts, Dwoskin Trixie, Frampton Artificial light, Bartlett Off-on, Peter Gidal Clouds Hall Bedroom, Malcolm Le Grice, Thomas Elsesser, Unsere Afrikareise, Althusser For Marx, Prisoner of sex, Luther, Joanna Field A life of one's own, Castenada *first, Mary Richards Centering, Camus, Colin Wilson on Maslow, Joseph Campbell vol 4, Little red schoolbook, A separate reality, Myths, dreams and religion, Giordiano Bruno, Heloise, Caedmmon, Epiphanius, Gottfried on courtly love, Jung, Nietszche, Parsifal, Gawain, Doris Lessing The golden notebook, The summer before the dark, Angela Carter Heroes and Villains, Marguerite Duras, Elizabeth Moore, Sylvia Plath, Dial-a-poem, Roethke, Randall Jarrell, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Eliade, Heine, Pound, Beckett Not I and Krapp's Last Tape, The magic mountain, The Rainbow, Women in love, Coleridge, Joseph Conrad, Ode: Intimations of Immortality, Seferis, Rabbit Redux, Dostoevsky, The lorax, Desolation angels, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Review, Sir Fossett's Circus, The New Craftsman exhibit, Lucie Rie, Blake drawings, Bonnard, Roth, Richler, Barbara Hepworth, Beethoven Quartet in A minor, Gale Garnett We'll sing in the sunshine, Roberta Flack The first time ever I saw your face, Aretha Franklin, On top of old Smoky, Bashara, Ib'n Arabi, Zikr, EJ Corner *, Menomini, Doomsday Book, Children of the Dream.


December 1972

A white dog sitting quietly on the edge of a planted eucalyptus forest.

Silver, leafless trees, planted two by two over the stream that pours down hills' contours between red fields.

-

Marrakesh, January 3rd

Sunrise outside walls. Met Mustafa, walked with him into souk streets and came to carpets.

Everything in this relationship is brought together by the carpet story - all the signs - full of superstition - touching you raw - everything in Morocco, everything we feebly are in relation to in the unknown people who made it.

Jouti Mohammed in brown djellaba. We came across, he threw down a carpet I didn't like, then he brought another. Mustafa began to open the end. I said "Look, look at this one, look," and it opened, faded yellow soiyeux ancien Berbère. Gold, purple, green. Women from Taznakt. "C'est pas la jaune, c'est plutôt la combinaison jaune-orange." Sat on it, felt the silky wool - a pattern in light green almost gone - medallions and belts - ceinture, le cadre, un mauve foncé, des jaunes, des oranges - the intelligence and passion of Jouti Mohammed talking about why there's no prix fixe - "une question de contact, on s'assoit, on boit du thé sur le tapis pour apporter le bonheur, on discute le prix, on se renseigne sur le sens du dessin, on dit, c'est beau, celui-là; il n'est pas mauvais; il est un peu usagé. On parle de la région d'ou il est et des gens qui l'ont fait. Je voudrais connaitre ces gens, mais c'est impossible, ils sont tous morts."
 
Les femmes
Les racines des arbres
L'ombre, le soleil
Le temps

John politely says explain it to him, it's important for him to know.

I say "Si on boit un peu du thé?" Everybody laughs, Jouti Mohammed goes and calls to someone, later the metal holder with four clean glasses of green mint tea arrives. A wooden table is set out, he gives himself and John a folded carpet to sit on, says I'm alright as I am? with a laugh. Sitting next to a pillar, a wonder, Mustafa sitting with the carpet up to his knees drinking his mint tea slowly as he drank his café au lait.

Making the deal: I say I'm tout timide, je ne veux pas faire des bêtises à coté de ce tapis.

[John and I both wanted the exquisite tapis soiyeux de Taznakt so we flipped for it and I won.]

[letter]

Haven't told you about Morocco: my nine days of light, warmth, color, of time slowed and heightened. Ah! One morning, when Roy said he'd like Luke for a week, John and I said to each other, "What if ?" That was at 11 a.m. By 3:30 p.m. we were on an Air Maroc 727 Boeing taking off toward the south coast of England. A green and blue sunset that we trailed across a corner of France, all of Spain and the Straits of Gibraltar to the airstrip outside Tangier. Utter black night, palm trees and taxi drivers in long hooded djellabas.

The black road into Tangier, headlights sometimes picking up a veiled woman, a hooded man on a donkey. We were let off outside the walls of the old town, the Medina, whose streets are too narrow for cars. Walking into the tangled space, we never knew where we were, shyly making circles through the narrow streets, up and down hills, feeling so free and so new. A large square hotel, a little cheap room with a sagging bed, a wash basin, a barred window looking onto the ancient, forty foot mud wall of the Kasbah, fortress. Having a room, we could go out again, eat, spend our first money in our first exchange with the life of that place, buy oranges and come abruptly to an edge below which, far below, was the sea -

Early in the cold morning, long before light, the long wail of the mouddhins, crying "There is one god," the beautiful chant we were to hear, full of mystery and joy, every early morning lying almost asleep in all our sagging beds in all our little hotels.

A morning walking in the souks, the markets, amazed at the colors and glories of oranges, radishes, carrots, dates, olives, fishes, the Berber women in brilliant rags and plastic sandals wearing the latest fashion in salmon-colored fringed bath towels as shawls and veils, pots, donkeys, blankets, rugs, coppers, amber jewels.

The train south, through curved sleek country where the sunset red would suddenly outline a sheep, a man holding his donkey's head, a group of children, standing on the railway embankment; marshes covered like intricate constellations with the hoofmarks of grazing sheep. A young eucalyptus forest with a white dog lying waiting on the edge of it like a dog in an ancient story. Then brilliant clear dark, with a near star, perhaps a planet, blazing red and blue in a starscape completely unfamiliar, above a completely unfamiliar continent. Africa!

When we were tired, we stopped. It happened to be Meknes. Another little hotel room, another early morning. Sunday. We had a French breakfast, café au lait and little breads with butter, sitting just inside the shadowy edge of a café whose front was open to the early traffic of Arabs, Berbers, asses, mules, horses, bicycles, mopeds, carts, buses full of people and heaped with baggage. Sun coming in over an ancient wall.

A veiled girl came in, talked to the café proprietor. Beautiful eyes, a beautiful shape under her brown djellabah - I spoke to her, she invited us to her house later in the day.

We went out and sat on a warm wall with hooded old men, beautiful faces, beautiful hands, watching a letterer, a young boy, casually paint exquisite Arabic characters onto a licence plate on a car.

A garden. So large, so royal, we went in as timidly as if it had been forbidden. A narrow gate with a guard, a path curving down past a screen of banana trees, then - three tiny gazelles advancing on their fragile legs, walking so delicately - and beyond them half a mile of green grass and flowers, with orange groves here and there inside ancient mud walls so high, so massive, that no world existed beyond them, and we seemed to be advancing timidly into paradise. A pool, flowers, a grove of mimosa with unopened buds thick as clouds, the orange trees hung with oranges, a subterranean trickle of water, and no one there but us, in that vast still place, with bird song and a herd of gazelles running beyond the path into the orange trees. We had such a sense of awe we were almost afraid. I was afraid, it was like the forbidden garden of a stern god.

Since I've been back I've discovered that the garden was made by Moulay Ismail, who fed his favorite dog nothing but the best scraps of flesh cut from the buttocks of living women.

The veiled girl took us to her home, took off her veil, and was very plain, but full of life and curiosity, unable to begin to live her own life because the only way she can escape the law of her father and the chaperonage of her brothers is to marry.

We were very merry when I tried on the veil and djellaba and didn't look quite right. Then she took us for a long walk through the nighttime souk, through tunnelled streets with heavy doors and tiny barred windows. The mouddin crying in the minaret towering above the stalls. Nighttime, very scary.

A stall on its own on a side street, narrow, only a door's width, hung with sheeps' skulls, dried porcupine skins, a dried chameleon, giant bulbs beginning to sprout, jars of herbs, silver hands to wear as talismans against the evil eye. A magic shop (although the young who are ashamed of Morocco's medievalism call it a medicine shop). Inside it, a man sitting, far back in the shadows, with a hooded face so sinister I couldn't look at him directly.

New Year's Eve. We walked with Habiba for a long time, she beautiful again in the veil and djellaba, animated by befriending each other; finally said goodbye under Moulay Ismail's beautiful gate.

New Year's Day, a bus to catch, but first one quick dip into the souk to confront that magic shop and all our terror and superstition. We wanted to believe it was dangerous even to look at it, we did believe it was dangerous; and so I had to confront that diabolical face, buy something from it, one of the bulbs, something to grow. I went to bargain with the sorcerer, and when he came forward out of the shadows it was with a dull and foolish grin that was missing a lot of teeth. I bought the largest of the bulbs, after much barter; as big as a turnip, with a solid green nub of new growth beginning at the top. (It's planted now, but I don't know what it is: maybe a kind of squill called Pharoah's Onion, but even that leaves it mysterious. Since I brought it home it's grown at least an inch and a half. The things it could be, like Tom Thumb, perhaps a flower containing an Arabic baby girl. I'd like that.) [It was a very large pink amaryllis.]

The sorcerer lost all magic when he opened his mouth, but he reached into the shadows and brought out, holding it by the narrow spine, a real evil spirit: a chameleon, cunning two-toed feet, body whose enraged breathing alternately blew it up round and collapsed it hissing to the bare width of his bones. It crawled blindly back toward the shadow, but when I touched its tail it turned its hood-eyed gilled fork-tongued malevolent little face toward me, opened its mouth and hissed at the back of its throat.

The bus. A sign says it's best to be early because it's likely to leave whenever it's full. We find separate seats in the back. There's a Berber woman across from me, with a beautifully shaped wild face, a mouth full of silver teeth and two delicate-featured little girls with orange hair the color of spring willow twigs.

We do set out when the bus is full, and begin to climb from the plains to the height of the Middle Atlas mountains. Cold, then snow; we stopped, turned back, because the road ahead was blocked with snow. Turned into a track across the fields, a shortcut. I was very cold, huddled with my feet as close to my warm bum as I could get them, but even in that state of numb misery saw the strange world, the high road along the spine of the mountain, small farms, just square clay enclosures with a small hut to live in, and nothing beyond but rock and scrub grass, and hedges made from thorny tumbleweed bundled into a kind of wall. Snow and at the same time a mist in the air, white mist: everything in the landscape turned black and white, with black lines following the contours of ploughed furrows. Groups of shepherds standing motionless in their black, brown or white djellabas, showing hardly any skin, hands deep in their pockets and face sheltered in a hood, or sometimes two. Black, white and brown sheep. Sometimes a black goatskin tent of the Bedouin with a rough thorn enclosure around it and steam rising from its wet spine.

In the end we came down again, to the main road with towns and orchards and fields where the precious streams are lined with a curving row of little poplar trees, planted two by two one on each side, following the stream back to its source? Roots hanging onto the water.

By sundown the snow turns to driving rain and we come into Kenifrah; there's just light enough to make out red mud walls spread around a very small town, everything constructed in clay that's deep orange, pink, fox red, and all the shades between. In the rain, already frozen, we look for a hotel. Find mattress-makers stuffing and sewing beautiful striped mattresses under an awning, then find a hotel, cheaper than ever, 75¢ each! Then climb a high set of steps into a café where we look through the cooking pots and choose lentil soup with bread, warm and good, given to us with wooden spoons. Warmer, we go out again, follow a road out of the town until it turns into a muddy track. There's a tiny village, mud so crumbling it seems to melt in the rain.

It's past sunset and there's hardly any light but we find ourselves just at the edge of the walled village looking down over the lip of a hill to another such village, built like a crude citadel, a melting honeycomb of interlocking rectangles, an intricate sand castle on the summit of another hill. Beyond it, a dip, a mist-filled valley, and beyond that, the snowy High Atlas Mountains. Kenifra seemed to be built on a low broad mound with a dip, like a moat, all around it, and then completely encircling it the mountains.

The dusk was so blue, the air so full of white vapour, that the village below us - we stood for nearly half an hour looking at it motionlessly, with the shouts and songs of children loud behind us and less loud from the village across the valley - seemed gradually to dissolve away, colour washing out so quickly we could almost see it disappear, except for one orange wall, which seemed mysteriously to grow brighter.

When it was gone we turned back through curious children and their fathers coming home for supper. Nervous greetings: we felt we'd trespassed, and yet we were full of wonder. We went home to our sagging bed, having asked for more blankets. Across the corridor were the only other guests, two Spanish medical students from Barcelona. All night the two young hoteliers and their friends stamped and shouted in the corridor just beyond our heads, we suffered it with a mixture of irritation and resignation, it was part of the country. And then at four in the morning we had to get up - our bus left at five; maybe earlier, they said, it might leave when it was full. We were sitting in it by four thirty, the streets pitch black but the bus full of people and the cafés as well, no one inconvenienced by the hour or the cold. There were four seats along the front of the bus, placed sideways facing the driver - we got next to the front windshield, with the two Spaniards beside us, squeezing together for warmth.

This took until quarter to two this morning and now it's Monday, work and Luke to take to classes.

[daily diary]

16 January Tuesday

Luke full of murmurs daydreams about continuous arrival of trains, "Coming, train." Sun making orange thin light light.

About red, Hollis Frampton "You're talking about what the apple has no use for, as though that were the apple."

[journal]

Image of that Arab shepherd's hand reaching out with change in it, match held between his fingers, handful of flaring orange light.

Image of those high round hills, before dawn, with stars come down to the black ground , the moon illuminated by sun about to rise, its cresecent thin, brilliant.

The stop on the road, a Berber woman with a child on her back. She lets the child down, he follows an old man into the bus. Her husband kisses her cheek. She touches his hand, puts her finger to her lip, touches his hand again, puts her finger to her lip. He climbs in. She stands with her hands tight against her abdomen.

-

There are moments when I fall down a shaft into my childhood, an instant, that I can't grasp afterwards, when I remember exactly how it was.

[daily diary]

19 Friday

On the tube, Tufnell Park station: poster of large man laiden with brushes, tins of paint, rollers, etc, and scribbled in magic marker balloon above his head "The common man is burdened with consumer fetishes."

28 Sunday

Luke to school through a good light, frost on the railway tracks, white, our breath coming in slow streams of white out of our mouths.

29 Monday

The sunset over London that Luke and I ran to watch from a parapet at the Estate, he with his feet dangling over all London and a fiery airplane in a green lane above.

6 February Tuesday

Working on a gospel song in two sharps.

Window cleaner came like a mythical hero bringing light and summer into my house. Luke's first [whole] sentence to me "I saw a gir-awffe," at the zoo, Bun's birthday.

[journal]

Now the sky's clear, London's light vanishes up into it, the stars shine red, there's moonlight at the back window, I'm writing by firelight, fire warm on my bum.

-

At Krapp's Last Tape, the moment when I knew I would die, when in my body I felt the lunge of fear at the moment when I will cease.

-

Looking in John's long mirror this morning I saw a strange naked body, pleasing to the waist, and there split downward into a long, abundant rounded sleek leg and a dangling mean stick leg. Seemed a body in which one side had been whittled away.

-

Luke at John's mirror touching his hand and staring into his own eyes, mouthing carefully - not whispering - "I love you."

At John's he asks for ice, brings it home in his pocket.

[daily diary]

21 Wednesday

David came for supper, made pork chops and I made a good salad and Luke remembered the candles from last time. Linda [babysitter] came and we went to see The Man with the Movie Camera: delight. Delighted, went and soaked our heads in the river lights, stood in the middle of Westminster Bridge with that ambivalent element light/air/water swirling and boiling around us, tipsy with vision.

March 6

Birthday, raining hard.

The moment coming out of Flaxman Terrace at four o'clock to find the sun on liquid streets, patches of color shining up, walking through gleams of white, blue, orange, smiling at the richness of all wet colours in the clean air, coming around the corner and being knocked into satori by the dazzle up wet Euston Road, low sun blazing off the pavement, white light with black forms of pedestrians almost swallowed by it, an ecstatic alleyway of white light between the office blocks, human figures eaten into, dissolving, by that clear white light from the pavement - that, and a fresh wind whipping my hair, and the street around me flowing with light and color.

Made a chocolate cake for my women's lib meeting, good to feel I had someones to celebrate with. Hesitated but put on 28 red white and blue candles. Wine and passionfruit juice. Dee came and was easy. Sarah was full of brilliant slogans [for our Women's Day walk] - Ban's Off, Access - takes the Waiting out of Wanting, Having to Hold. Mary shone dimly. Luke asleep during the meeting. We were assembled around the pither.

[letter]

The demonstration! Last Saturday, on a rare, sunny, warm afternoon we had a march from Hyde Park through Oxford Circus to Trafalgar Square, lots of shouting and high and happy women and a few men; banners and babies. Luke was there, pushed by a bride in a frothy baroque 1950s bridal creation carrying a sign saying "I won't" - my whole group spent Saturday morning in the traditional way dressing the bride - except that we were all brides. Leslie in her actual own wedding dress with a pink ribbon saying "gift-wrapped." My friend Sarah with a long train knotted with plastic potties, rubber gloves, washcloths and a sign saying "Don't let anyone give you away."

The cutting is from the front page of the Sunday Observer - GB's best Sunday newspaper - the only picture they had of the march - you can see how he's grown up and pretty.

Some pictures of Luke:

Patting his thigh as I carry him on my shoulders, he says "My likkle body."

"Poor Mummy's shoe, got a hole."

"My likkle bum."

Taking him to school, I have to carry the bicycle over a railway bridge. I look back and see him with morning light in a halo around his head and his breath shining white vapour.

In his bed one morning when the sun was shining, before I got up, I heard him pantomiming the singing lessons at his school, "Away mangah crib for a bed Jesus happy birthday to you " and then parodying the teachers saying to him "Clevah boy!" "Well done!" Clap clap.

One evening when I came to get him he went the rounds and kissed all the other children goodbye, even nearly standing on his head to reach a baby on the floor who hid her face away - then took my hand and said "Is my Ellie."

When he finds me naked he's so pleased and nice, touches me with light small hands, says "Mummy's tummy, Mummy's chest, Mummy's nibbles? Where's your nibbles?" Looked under my arm and asked in humorous surprise what was that - hair.

If I shout at him his lip trembles and he says "Say sorry! Say sorry!" and I do.

Likes the tuhluhvishun, watches it in case there might be a fire engine.

Woke up one morning saying "Crocodile! Crocodile!"

Lets me know about things - "I am pee!" "I am shitty!" - with great delight. Sometimes, if it's handy, likes to pee in his beautiful yellow plastic potty, but doesn't mind using anything else that's handy, like my casserole.

Sings to himself "Ice cream lollipop ice cream lollipop."

[journal]

On the tube, strained faces held tight to some anxiety, I try to soften my own face, make it human, open; wonder at the pitch of hostility I feel for the people in the long black pneumatic tube with me; but on the elevator with me it happens that, like last night, there is a tall black man with glasses holding against his knees a half-white daughter, talking quietly, constantly, and merrily to her in German. When I see them I smile: we recognize each other. I turn around again, and smile again. Then the big elevator comes to the top, the iron gates fold open the time machine, and I step out into Tufnell Park Junction, whatever new and surprising weather and season and time of day.

I reach up to the sore bit of my jaw and feel, where I've often felt before, the cavity in my jawbone, and there's a funny soft lump there. I've thought so much about cancer recently.

[journal]

On the tube: standing in front of me, her hand holding the chrome railing not far from my face, an Indian girl, narrow black coat with small rhinestone buttons, an orange-pink silk sari showing under it, red spot in the middle of her forehead; she's lovely, I want to stare at her large eyes, full mouth with something like a tuck taken up in the middle of it, smooth hooked nose, long neck - I stare at her narrow wrist with three plastic bangles on it, two white and a pink in the middle. She's there, other hand in her pocket so I can't see whether she's married to the ugly fat man beside her. I wonder about her fingers, because I can only see the narrow brown back of the hand that grips the rail - she lets go, she leaves, I see her fingers uncurl and am suddenly shocked and fascinated by the narrow fingernails, short and of different lengths, scrubbed and rather soft looking, like babies' half-formed nails. It could be my own hand; it becomes real to me, I'm shocked by the intimacy of those four fingertips that could be mine; I think of, I feel her, cleaning them, looking at them; the girl becomes flesh, not spectacle. I haven't said it. It was a shift in me, over in the second it took her to step out of the train and disappear.

[undated letter]

Luke's vocabulary is large now, but rather specialized: he knows the names of all the subgroups of noisy engine: Landrover, road roller, crane, caboose, caravan, ambulance, taxi, John's car (ie VW), van, tractor, caterpillar, dumptruck, bus, minibus, fire engine, lorry, airplane, garbage truck. The rest is more random. I sometimes forget and speak to him as I used to when I didn't expect a reply, but now he always has something to say, talks long complicated fantasies to himself, hilarious private stories about sending his toy cars to the toilet (setting them upright on their bottoms) etc. Sometimes I take them down verbatim; they're bizarre, like strange dreams that jump from one thing to another. He had a plastic ladder fallen off a fire engine; in a minute it was a "crane in the sky" (holding it perpendicular to the floor), a train chugging across the carpet, and a boat.

[journal]

At the NFT discussion, two women. One girl in the washroom, outlandish lovely costume, high clogs, striped blue and white silky stockings, a shirt, a white vest, a petticoat and a peasant apron, a fake leopardskin coat and - she put it on with a secret sideways smile to me, having taken it from her pocket - a black velvet scrap of a hat with a little black veil she pulled over her forehead. And Barbara Halpern Martineau: shining fat face with round glasses, hair back, sitting up straight and giving smiling delightful account of Nathalie Granger, excited about how music was the revolution, fanciful, high.

-

Blazing across the Heath with Mari, so beautiful she makes me glad and timid; we work gradually from unease at the bottom of the hill, past the top, past the grove, to the man swimming alone, to the spot I call the pond, where sailing gently direct to us came a little boat made of a sycamore leaf pinned up on a tomato carton by a stick.

Taking our rags of kite and the boat, climbing the spiked fence, gathering powers in the darkness through marshy ground, willow, a rising mist of wild carrot (Mother Die says Jane), finding a path that led us perilously, on a narrow mud shelf, to the gate into the Women's Pool, where we sat paddling our feet sending ripples out to the indifferent ducks and to the encircling jungle. Laughing. It's like a sanctuary, she said.

When we set toward home, grass on our wet cold feet, jeans rolled up, her skirt hitched, running through the dusk, the sky was pink toward the south and green toward the north where we'd come from. In the pub, bits of grass on our wet feet, we drank hawf a Worthington each and our feet tingled warm.

-

Tuesday morning, Luke is still asleep although it's quarter to nine, sun coming in the window on the back of my neck, diffusing up, like heat, from the white floor. The cat when she stops in it is a ripple of iridescence. The black chest of drawers, in the greasy depressions around the handles, gleams reticently like pewter.

[journal - June]

Shoshanna sits across the table, with her face tipped up and her hands making gestures outwards like wings unfolding. She makes up a poem about clouds, sun, unfolding each line with her arms, like a huge page, or a sheet, her mouth opening and closing without hesitation over each word, a little wider than necessary, showing her little white teeth with rhetorical extravagance. We were petrified. Then Luke constructed wonder machines with two hairpins, a matchstick and a half eaten green pepper.

-

In my pilot lit joy these days, while I wait to explode into real flame, I notice little corruptions I've picked up: a way of saying things extravagantly and falsely - "And it was so-o-o-o beauootiful," etc - that comes from Roy; a way of twisting my face into grimaces of compliant attention, pleasantness. Also I talk to Luke sometimes with a grotesque absentminded joviality I used to marvel at in Patricia. Also when I lose control out of excitement at the Slade, eg, I can't tell whether I'm being spontaneous and funny or just embarrassingly out of control.

-

This afternoon John in pink striped shirt with a sheen like parchment lying with me on the grass beside one of the paths that cross the Fields under a tree rattling its large flat leaves in the gusts of wind that drove a box kite above into struggle. We lay side by side, I with my head under his arm against his side and my hand on his arm, he with his knee bent up to touch mine. He stroked my head, looked at the leaves. I closed myself into the dark immobile silence I need with another body these days and felt my unease slowly shift, as if the vibrations from his warm and lively self were tuning all the molecules of my body to lie still in one direction, giving me a dark and silvery grain. Then I skimmed home on the bicycle, one bare foot trailing on the grass, and he ran home the other way.

17 Sunday

Luke to Jane: "Ellie sad." "Will you kiss it better?" "Yes," and comes and stretches up to kiss me on the mouth. "Is it better now?" Last night I said "Dear Luke it's getting dark." He said "An' I getting dark, an' you getting dark, an' the turkle getting dark. Yes?" And I said "I promise we'll have a better day tomorrow."

Luke said, telling me about his ailment, "I got sand in my tummy."

[undated letter]

Tuesday

The sky for once like a real summer sky, deep blue from horizon to horizon. I'm in the garden leaning against the warm brick wall under the bedroom windows. Beside me the passionflower vine is feeling for a grip on the wall, and a pot full of beans and nasturtiums is soaking down the rare heat. A long ago dead young man's trio for strings. In the neighbour's lilac a bird, wren or blackbird. The other neighbour's sycamore, from below, is so potent with layered greens that if I look at it for too long I become anxious - why? Pissy Cat is chasing flies, but her Siamese elegance is spoiled by her sloppy underbelly that's feeding five kittens.

My plants are catching light in all their special ways: thyme on tiny stiff dark leaves, fennel in silky plumes; young beans, three days out of the ground, stiff and brave; nasturtium leaves shrinking and puckering because it's too strong. Ivy and fern calm in the shade. The clematis and jasmine that were dry twigs when I put them in this spring throw leafy shadows now. Parsley, sage, rosemary, marjorum, lavender, saxifrage, strawberries. The iris brought from an abandoned garden has had its first flower. A tiny pine is struggling to survive - I can't tell if it will live, but it seems to have stopped dying. And the rose flinging itself over the mock orange bush with more abandon than ever, has thousands of buds. Geranium, sweet pea, poppy, aster, and three blunt young marrows among them. Soil I brought from the woods is sprouting mysteriously on its own. This garden's me, every morning I come downstairs, put the kettle on, unbolt the door and walk out to survey it.

And when it rains! Everything is plump and glittering.

-

Roy came from Scrumps Bottom sunburned redfaced like a farmer. Luke from across the room called to him "Roy - I love you." "What did he say?" Luke stands with his sturdy knees together, feet apart in cotton underpants too big for him, the pyjama tops, composed, and repeats it.

-

Evening at NFT, big black hat to give me power in that dangerous place, did, even on the tube. Home in warm rain making French poems about couloirs de couleurs, couloirs qui coulent, des fleuves par terre. Over black light-running Hungerford Bridge, trees throwing long leafy shadows on the river.

-

Tonight Luke woke and cried like a new baby, sighing, singing, crying; he sat up but had lost speech, only howled with his head back and his mouth open, tears on his cheeks; crying like grief but also like poetry, meditative phrasings and shifts, roars, shouts, murmurs. I sat with him, touched his head, sang. He's still weeping, I quieted him a little when I told his day with Anna and lollies, ducks. [Then] I got angry and said What do you want. I want my daddy he says. Repeats it. It cuts me.

-

Brown face, black teeshirt: I'm lovely these days.