volume 8 of london: 1974 july-december  work & days: a lifetime journal project









Part 1 camping in Wales with Andy. Part 2 Roy steals Luke's passport and threatens to take him to South Africa. Part 3 go into hiding in a squat in East London. Part 4 Roy eases off, Luke turns 4, Ros throws a wonderful party.

Mentioned: Luke, Roy Chisholm, Andy Wyman, Margaret Gosley, Prosper Devas, Katrin Zaugg, Heidi *, Betsy *, Mari Gaffni, Ian MacIntosh, Peter Harcourt, Penelope Brown, Luisa Konrad, Rosalynd de Lanerolle, Mafalda Reis, Patrick Scofield, Sarah Black, John Rowley, Jud Pratt, Madeleine Murray, Dee Price, Catherine Chisholm, Lauderick Caton, Kevin Sullivan, Indra de Lanerolle, Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Laura Mulvey, Rodney Wilson, Barbara Meter.

52 Burghley Rd NW5, Trefeglwyth, Nant Gwytherin, Corris, Aberavaon, Rhayader, Pontipool, Severn Bridge, Compendium bookstore, Museum of Mankind on Burlington Gardens, Wentworth Mansions, Horniman Museum, Pownall Road, Ingestre Road Community Centre, Holland Park, the Steiner bookstore, Kew Gardens, Xingu National Park Brazil, Kinderwaters' house, Hampstead Heath, Caenwood, College Lane off Highgate Road, Southwark Power Station, the Italian Gardens, the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Cyrano's restaurant, the Empire Café and the Forum Café in Kentish Town, Tony's Café in Tufnell Park

Crow Jane, Dorothy Livesay, Dorothy Richardson Pilgrimage, Bachelard, Duras Nathalie Granger, Padloq The uncertain life, Tom Lowenstein, Knud Rasmussen, Uvavnuk Moved, The wood-butchers' art, Home comfort, Magritte, Scott Joplin, Bach cantata Komm du süsse Todesstunde, McPherson's Farewell, Ray Bradbury, Thoreau Natural History of Massachusetts, the Odyssey, Io, Furcht essen Seele auf, The planets, Colette Sido, ou les points cardinaux, Roger Senhouse, Gurjieff, Atwood, Seferis, Newton, People of the Deer, Out of the silent planet, Doris Lessing, Richard Scary, Poincaré, Bridget Riley, The mother and the whore, Fiennes on the Nahanni, Perelandra, The snow queen, The nightingale and the rose, Natvilcius De aethereo et aerio corpore, She moved through the fair, The red flag, Seferis Interval of joy, The shame, Jane Clark, Amazon Quarterly, LM Montgomery, Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Mary Richards, Rebecca West, Marguerite Duras Nathalie Granger, Bachelard, Harlem Dance Theatre, Balanchine, Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle The Hermaphrodite Album, Billy Vaughn and his orchestra Sail along silvery moon, Surfacing, David Copperfield, Canada: year of the land,


[undated journal - July]

Hello Friday. All those plants on the brick wall, my fullness of days. This morning the barefoot man, white teeshirt, pile of hair, beautiful beautiful eyes, sitting in my garden making songs.

Oh blow you winds bitterly
Blow you strong winds
The single bliss, it's everything there is to want, eggs in a glass saucepan, bacon and bread, tea, on the grass. When he'd washed up and I came behind him, put my arms around him, felt what a hard flesh under loose cotton skin, smelled what a warm smell, I could go soft to look at the plastic bowl in the sun, the bare bulb and its color, the door open to see the garden in another sort of light. Being so close to some body and not being quite afraid of it.


The garden charging itself with light, strawberries quietly getting redder hour by hour.

I'm so beautiful too, arms, haunches, hair; the room and garden are my secondary sexual characteristics: sex appeal.

Your mouth.

[Andy's] Auntie Annie, a surprising wide mushy face, blue-coated eyes like the steers', and out of it comes the sharp real woman, flirting with her favorite boy ("Isn't he gorgeous?" looking at him smiling in his red shirt), cross with her infirmities - "Chop them off!" she says, holding her hands out to him. "Shoot me! What am I good for?" "You're good for a laugh" he says, and she laughs, her face widens and smiles. Her old photographs, she looks out of her broad face with warm intelligence, she's radiant with intelligence. She'd had her hair bobbed; and her mother went out, without saying a word, and had hers bobbed too, "'Then we'll both be street girls,' she said. I'll never forget what she did."

In the garden picking black currents.

She waved from the top of the steps.

The motorway café 10 miles from London parked with lorries like sleeping beasts. Coming out of the motorway stupor, slowly crossing the pavement. Andy in his black plastic jacket like a spaceman, and I in my sneakers like space shoes without gravity. The rumpled people in their magical space station.

Two women with two little children peering around them, wrapped in blankets, completely silent. Your jokes are much better than mine.

But I sang you a song that you said was divine
And our ankles touched under the table

Outbreaks of hilarity.

At the far end of the counter was an old Sikh man, white bearded, with a white turban, king of that moonland.

In the car near Heathrow looking at the side window past Andy's face, the light falling on my reflection, falling and obliterating it like a shade, and it appearing again, other things behind.

"I can't look at you for long, it makes me feel weak."

I can look at you endlessly, it makes me feel round, resonant, dreamy as a stone, makes me silent. Am I allowed to be that - not quite. I sat in the garden, looked at the geraniums, empty of thoughts, slow, full, present in great calm joy which is present equally to garden snails as to you, and to remembered friends; but near right, retribution, how many honeymoons am I allowed before the gods crack my spine? Before I'm too old, before no one will travel with me. Before one of my little crimes catches me.

The presence of the cats: one came yesterday and lay down next to Andy on the grass, parallel to him and me; flat. When it lay down, like a person, it had the same weight of presence. Couldn't see them while Jane lived here.


This morning I lay next to Andy for five hours while it rained outside, and then later stopped and when we'd eaten breakfast at two, the sun came out. What I want to say: we lay next to each other, all our clothes on, cold rainy air on the outsides of our bodies, and where we touched along our bellies, focused on the hard knob between us, we seemed to be fucking by our breath. He said I was setting off bombs in his stomach, and I, that mine was like a hollow - cavern, he said - hollow, yes, I said, right to the spine, into which 'our' breath radiated like radio waves, like circles on water.


Beauty of July, the easy living of it, things come alive, snails, cats, plants, cliffs of lights, wind, I cut through them like a knife-edged razor-edged fan turning, and feel balanced, really balanced on the edge of death that's not oblivion, but worse.


Money from the Arts Council.


Just eyes is enough. Being able to see.

There was a tomato on the window sill, in the sun, yesterday. The number of colours in its so-called red!


"Your mouth, and your baggy jeans and your voice and your cut hands."


Dorothy Richardson tells me - has been telling me all day - that my thoughts are interesting because I have them.


Everything that shines can see.


A glisten on his bones, he says, and I'm so grateful
I turn him to gold and kiss his kneecaps.
Birdbones, I mean YOU.
What a steady delirium, what a caper when I love and you love too.
You've got things to say about how limited I am;
One of these days I'll hear them, but you, your house, and me too,
We're big bare trees, and the spaces between our branches
Which are roots, which are leaves,
Which are white nerves, red veins, blue arteries,
Are full of whatever nests. How we do glisten with
White clouds, caterpillar treads, and all
The degrees and distances of simple sky.


It seems likely that Roy has taken Luke. Having done a little of what I can do to stop him - [phoned] Heathrow - I'm left remembering all the times when my body's been raked by the icy wind of his violence, cunning. I did not think quickly, and it was my unconscious computer that told me, two hours too late, what I think is up: adding together the signs. Or, if not this time, then next time. The birth certificate is gone.


Hey: one day I'll be dead, one day perhaps I'll be old and fat. But tonight, five minutes to twelve, Sunday, September 22, I am: not dead, not old, not ugly, not quite fat. A certain drawn thirty-years look, but I went to the movies by myself, peacefully, and was elegant in my long black dress and the green coat with a geranium pinned on it, hair up, and my elegance gave me authority to push the two big red drunks out of the lift when they were frightening the lift woman. I ordered them out and then I pushed them out, and knew they couldn't hurt me. All the other passengers had vanished. "Chilly cunt" he muttered.


Just discovered what it is that is making me look old: the beginning of a jowl: a little soft pad along the upper jaw, that pleats back when I smile and that make the high line of my cheekbone seem to slip or double - anyway thickens it.


The Planets. I'm dancing in my clogs in the kitchen because I'm happy because: "I left my mother to draw forth from oblivion her beloved dead, while I remained dreaming of a scent and a picture that she had evoked: the smell of the soft bricks of chocolate, and the hollow flowers that bloomed beneath the paws of the vagrant cat." Colette 1873-1954. Sido, ou les points cardinaux: "the mariner's chart, or rose, of the neighbouring gardens."


Tony: two stories from New York. Long drunken evening in gay bars, about 4 a.m. he and John head for home, he suddenly says see you and runs as fast as he can, away, until he can't run any more. He is in a narrow street with no lights. A white Cadillac stops and a black girl in a white 'silk' (satin?) trouser suit gets out the passenger side. They arrive at the back of the car at the same moment. She's beautiful, smiles at him, says do you mind if I ? Takes down her white trousers, squats down and pees, still smiling up at him. Then pulls them up again and gets back into the car.

Another morning goes to bed at six and wakes at eight, very clear-headed. Goes into a state he describes as a conversation between the various people he is, among them his essential self. It is not exactly a conversation, he can't be clearer than that. The essential self is present, it seems, when the other characters are saying things which are untrue, mistakes or lies. The essential self is only there when they are recognized as untrue. He falls asleep and there is a loud buzzing in his ears. He can't wake up, but eventually does. He's frightened but decides to risk going to sleep again. Same thing happens. It is even more difficult to waken and when at last he forces himself out he stays awake for a while.

Calls it his vision. Its use, he says, is that he feels he can call it up again. Something to discipline himself toward.

Holland Park, being alone as it became dark. The yellow trees on its edge spotlit. Having to get out over a fence.

Sarah at the [Steiner] bookshop, in her animation releasing the shy woman who employs her. Something a little off-centre in the talk, it was a little forced, maybe by sitting opposite, but in it the bottom sense of here's Sarah with whom I could associate. No guff. Bursting with crossness, laughter.

The exchange with our dry waitress:

"White or black?"

"Dark brown."

"Dark brown."


Kneeling, head bent down under A's arm, flash: image of sitting on a raft looking down at water gliding very muscularly and quietly. It was illustrating the thought that I wait sometimes patiently, sometimes not, to see what my feelings say - it pleased me to feel so warmed and given when I put my face against A's plaid soap-smelling shoulder - because they are my permission to act - or my withheld permission. It seemed curious: I am as if obedient to orders coming from somewhere else, although the orders can please or displease me. The curiousness, the paradox, is that I stake my honesty, integrity, my rightness, on acting in relation to what I feel, while relating to those feelings as if they came from outside me. And also those feelings being completely liquid, unrelated to logic or reasons: they are prior to logic. It's an obedience to the body and all that implies of obedience to weather, season, stars, etc. Very paradoxical. Yet seems fine. Opposed to it is all my argument about managing one's relationship, knowing one's own circles; it isn't contradictory but it is the question of will to obedience. Also double-edged balance. Amn't saying anything new but the image was good and grew precisely out of my posture at the time I was having the thought.


Luke's story about Eskimos: "But I really saw an Eskimo house."

"You haven't ever -."

"Yes, when you wasn't there, in Wales with Jud, an' I went far away by myself, except there was a tiny thing with me."

"What kind of tiny thing?"

"A tiny thing like a bee."

"So you went far away by yourself?"

"No, me and the tiny thing: the Eskimo house had a hundred Eskimos -."

"Eskimo houses are very little."

"This was an Eskimo house what you never saw, what has sixteen stories. I'll show you, one, two, three, four, five, six, eight ."


"Seven, eighteen ."


"Eight, eleventeen ."


"Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, sixteen ."


"Thirteen, eleventeen ." (Etc.)

"And what happened when you got there?"

"The Eskimos said come inside and I went inside and I went upstairs and looked at their beds."

"Did you have anything to eat?"

"Yes, I had a biscuit and a cheese sandwich and some milk. And some orange what you never saw."


Luke today lying asleep by the fire, in little cotton pants and vest, his beautiful limbs, his beautiful face. Full of inventions he is. His shit going sixty miles an hour. Sixty miles, that's as far as the Sufi farm, in one hour, as from 6 o'clock to 7 o'clock I say. "Then my shit will go to the Sufi farm, and it will stay there for ever." "No, maybe it will come to the door," I say, "and knock 'Plop! Plop!' and say 'I'm back!' and then I will say ugck! and slam the door." "The toilet would have to be like its door" sez Luke. This as he's balanced on the toilet seat, knickers holding his knees together, feet back on either side the bowl.

Luke and I as if in love these days, grace gets to us at the same time.


The thought that's behind the thought I think I'm thinking. Once I caught a window in a frame [sketch]. Once a sort of parallel track [sketch]. It was as if I could see the physical form of the thought.


When I pray it's to marry my warrior and little girl. That is not sex or gender, that's a great need to be everything, prove that one doesn't have to choose one or the other.

A says I'm narrow and will be narrower. Still it's what I say in my narrowness that he'll remember. My sweetness such as it is - will vanish; although his own, he'll remember as I do mine with Roy. Conciliation and apology are nothing.

Having the strength of your perception means nearly everyone resents you, except those who equally have the strength of their own.

No question of not trying to be a warrior. It's like wanting to be skilled at what you do, or wanting to be and to feel skilled. It's balancing, like surfing. No question of not wishing to be the little girl again, because she transformed the world into itself, made it vivid with love and clarity. It isn't clear to me whether I do in any sense have a choice. The question's with me constantly. I'm saying that in a humble quiet little voice.

[undated letter]


Andy and I put up paper streamers in Luke's room so it looks like the underside of a mushroom - red, green and blue. Quietly, with piano music. Cleaned everything. When it was very late decorated the tree.

Got up in the morning, early, to make cookies and the cake - it was lovely, spending the morning in the kitchen peacefully but with great efficiency, baking and listening to the radio. And then put on my best long dress as my costume for Luke's little ceremony.

And then everyone came - what a mix of past and present for all of us - Mossy and Isabel (Luke's commune friends), Jud (Roy's pen-pen-ultimate ex), Roy, Lauderick, my solicitor and her lover!, Sarah, Andy, Dee and Anna, and some other large and small friends, who ate all the cookies (two batches) in such a trice that I got none, and drank wine and lemonade and refused to play cat and mouse. Lauderick and Roy shored themselves up in a corner with Luke's new 'lectric train. When it got dark we tipped Luke's bed upside down for a table, collected all the children around it, and Luke waiting in the centre place of honour. Andy turned the lights out and I brought in the 3-layer chocolate cake with four fat red candles on it like blazing table legs, and when we began to sing Happy Birthday to You Luke's face had a look of delight on it that I've never seen before - pure brilliant incredulous happiness.


Christmas night, touring the Heath, moonlight, black tree shadows, distant light windows like regularity of traffic sounds at a spaced fringe around the black park, touring Luke's infancy, and all my five London years. The paddling pool. The signal house. The supple flying spine of the Hill itself. Mud. Two people talking on the top of the hill. Clarity of stars. Railings' diagonal shadows on the path. Hoofprints. Branches of the path. The first pond with its wooded slope Luke, Roy and I would rush down several springtimes. Frost underfoot making the grass crisp and resistant. Stream's sudden sounds, easily lost. Fair curve of the city, a pinkish cloud. Ear getting cold where the silver pulls frost into it - I take the earring off, it slides onto my key ring. Very quiet footsteps. Think at first about the future, then as we complete the orbit down the east side of the central darkness, about the past. The convent visible by its lights like a palace having a ball. British Rail employees, plastic hats on, chatting on the pavement at the end of College Lane. Women in narrow long skirts. Streets nearly empty. This London won't be here to come back to. A says "English people are still like foreigners to you aren't they."