Dear John Letter

Dear John

Gary said sorry next day.  I felt better.  It made me think you might be right I was taking out on you the rebuff by him except I didn’t think so at the time.  It was more likely just one of the things you’d say to put me in the wrong along with the straw man and ad hominem arguments you were using. 

Gary’s timing struck me as odd.  He could’ve said it the day before and obviated any taking out on you, or use by you of my telling he had, as an example of how circumscribed my life is compared to your meeting up with a film crew about your play of Homeless Bob you came, the day after, to tell me about. 

You didn’t take off your shoes.  That meant you weren’t staying and could make a quick getaway if need be, not that I inferred that at the time.  I’ve never been involved by you in the acting side of your life but listened with enough interest I thought and asked questions the answers to which did interest me.  I mentioned waking up niggled by a report in The Guardian about the Donmar deciding to cast only transsexuals in transsexual parts, which was relevant to acting.  I wasn’t expecting disagreement and was incredulous at it.  My voice was raised but I wasn’t shouting.  For an argument you were speaking quietly.  You refused to read the report, saying you would online later, to avoid doing so. 

I wasn’t sure what was going on, how I’d got caught up in an argument and while pursuing it, and you, as you went about leaving, not that I was aware that’s what you were doing, couldn’t take it seriously.  You said not to would offend the community (“What community?”  Of transsexuals?) that times had changed; blackface was out.  “You mean a white can’t do a black part?  Actors use make-up anyway.”  I was thinking of Othello. 

While you were going rapidly through your preparations prior to leaving, not that I was aware that’s what you were doing, by going into the bathroom, you stated you would cast a transsexual as the transsexual who gives Bob something in passing, as if that won the argument.  You were looking in the mirror.  “Is homeless Bob gay?”  No.  “Then why are you playing him?  Shouldn’t he be played by a heterosexual?”  You’d had a child, thus qualifying. 

Out the door, you sneered I could do the transsexual part.  “I’m not transsexual.”  Your parthian shot was I was taking out on you Gary’s rebuff. 

You were too angry to look up as you passed my window, far less wave.  I was upset, bowels loosening, head buzzing, not unpleasantly, unable to understand how this transgressive upset had occurred that made your other visits, inside since your duple vaccination, anodyne except it looked like a set-up, but to what end?  I’m not going against whatever it is.  I’ll blog this instead. 

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Penchant for Claires

A soft hammering woke me up too early, from the flat above perhaps but who knows in this block where sound is coming from.  I slept.  Up, I noticed a parked police car and went out onto the balcony to see where the police were and to make sure, first off, they weren’t for Gary, below right.  They wouldn’t be for Sarah, below.  They were outside Caleeb’s, talking to a girl by the sounds of it on a garden chair beneath the canopy of the balcony.  I hoped Caleeb wasn’t risking his court case against eviction by giving the landlord an excuse.  A policeman noticed me and I went back in.  From a reflection in the windows opposite I saw the two policemen were out by the gate at the top of the steps.  Combining reflection with direct viewing, I observed them, masked, making notes on their pads and talking back to a black hooded figure who, coming forward, was a dark-skinned girl with a pony tail and front side ringlets without a mask.  She exchanged fist bumps with a policeman before going off down Eton St. 

I leant on the balcony wall for no apparent reason.  Sarah hove into view on Towers Place and waved.  I waved back and waited.  She told me of the noise from Caleeb’s as his flat was trashed and that she, Gary too, had been involved by a girl crying rape who called the police.  Caleeb in a towel asked for his keys back and pushed the girl.  His neck and chest were scratched, consistent with the girl’s claim I considered.  She wanted back in.  “You don’t want back in to a rapist’s flat!  I’m fed up with women being treated as victims on their say-so,” and trusted the police didn’t, as they hadn’t, without proof.  “It’s his word against hers,” Sarah shrugged.  “She’s mentally disabled.  It’s the girl!” Sarah said sotto voce when Gary came out and went in by the back door to the block and through the stairwell.  I wondered if he fucked her, they were in long enough and I couldn’t envisage either listening to the other for any length of time.  “I’ll take a look out the front.”  Gary and the girl were rounding on to Paradise Rd by Eton House.  When Gary came back I asked “was it Claire?” a sex ex of his.  “No!  I had the same thought!” 

I texted he had a penchant for Claires, and they for him.  Nothing to do with him, he replied, he’d seen her into a taxi.  ‘Did you pay for it!’  No.  ‘She came back deliberately.’ 

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Dream Postscript (to ‘the book’)

John didn’t like the end of the book which left it with me and wanted me to change it that it was deposited with the reader.  I couldn’t recollect the end but didn’t think it could be changed.  We entered a communal dining room with four men around a table at the far corner who had read the book, proposing to publish it.  They got up at our approach and the foremost asked if there was an inscription, or was wondering if there couldn’t be, on the gates of heaven.  John queried there were gates of heaven!  ‘Well, just before the end’ which now I recollected it couldn’t be changed ‘Johnny is thinking infinitely fast and Mum did think the book his testament.’  The only gate I could think of, however, was the one into Upper Middleton and it was gate-less, because of the war effort.  The man was thinking materialistically of an inscription at the base of the left brick post despite matter being removed to form the words.  Whether gate restored, whatever it was now, there or not, it’d simply be physical, of the earth, a prop devoid of its spiritual play like Delphi unless I was there, revisiting as John had suggested, him accompanying, with whatever spirit was left in me in evidence, as I was disinclined to do since possibly a portent of death.  I did think of going back to writing out my notes on what came after which begins with Mum’s enrolling me in Denbeath Junior Secondary.  There was some spirituality in that, if also past, but it didn’t really interest me, being more mere conventional autobiographical past tense narrative.  The dream merged into conscious thinking as I woke up just before seven. 

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Duple Dream

We were going through the pub on our artistic venture when my partner leant through a partition to leave his glass, which wasn’t its, on the carpeted stairs behind.  It toppled off and surprisingly broke, into smithereens as I saw, passing by the top of the stairs.  My partner wasn’t stopping to take responsibility.  I did.  The landlady was at the glass with pan and brush, indicating I should be.  “I didn’t do it.”  I caught up with my partner upstairs in a bedroom, with the bed turned down.  I was gauging if the bed was big enough for two.  He said I could have this room while he another next door facing the top of the stairs back the way we’d come.  I hadn’t noticed a room there.  He must’ve been quick to see to it all.  I didn’t like it.  I woke up, about two minutes past five, peed and went back to bed.  He was off somewhere to do with drama and I was eating alone while the landlord and another man on a bench were eating from a nearby table.  I moved my food to the table.  My partner was paying for everything.  I asked for a separate account.  I woke up after nine from a continued dream. 

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[314] 27 OCT



                                                                  a hypothesis by Joan Ure

             There is no proof

             of anything important.

             I could at pinch

             rustle up proof

             for the square on the hypotenuse

             or the angles being equal but that

             doesnt matter now you’ve

             left me.

             I could even prove that

             the good of the pudding is

             in the eating but I have no appetite

             even for the apple.

             I cant prove that either

             for if you came home to me tomorrow

             you might say I’m starving because of Vietnam

             or to make you look guilty when

             it’s really my fault.

             On the other hand how can you prove

             that you do not love me?

             Just going away might mean you

             love me only too much and in fact that

             you couldnt bear loving me any longer

             since you loved me so much. And it might just mean

             that the other woman with the big poppy earrings

             and her hair all natural isnt so exhausting.

             Lets you get some sleep. And lets

             you do the talking.

             There is no proof of anything important.

             It’s an act of faith, even the sunrise.

             Just because I’m crying – it might be

             the onions.

             There is no proof it wont get better later.

             There is no proof it will, ever.

[315] 4 NOV

                                                                  4 weeks from Zee Day

                                                     I am looking forward very much

                                        to seeing Much Ado with you.

                                                     Your action (The Letter) was/

                                        is one of these dazzling actions that

                                        reveal our opening lives to us. The

                                        way we react to these dazzling actions

                                        (of-others-towards-us) shows us (a bit

                                        more) of what (for better and worse)

                                        we’ve made of ourselves, up to time of

                                        going to press.

[316] Wednesday 9th November 1966 Noon

             Dear John,

             I thought “I’ll just phone then since writing a letter about it is so

             silly and I’ll explain like this –‘I know it’s crazy and petty and

             bourgeois even but I cant repeat cant let you pay for my ticket last

             night so may I send on the money please and dont be hurt because

             the gift was not the price of the ticket, the gift was your company

             etc. etc.’” This is what I thought I would do, but then I imagined

             doing it and I knew – oh those flashes of insight into one’s likely

             behaviour! – I would start to cry on the phone like last time and

             that would make it altogether too ridiculous. I mean imagine

             feeling sad. Imagine feeling anything. Imagine.

                           But it’s this way – about the money (enclosed herewith £1 keep the

             change) – because it was our finale (your decision not mine) it felt

             as if you were ALSO paying me off. You wouldnt take a drink at

             my expense, you see – I might have come to terms with the thing

             that way, but you wouldnt, oh innocently enough, but it made

             it no use for me. I wont be paid off, you see. I mean have your

             finale – your theatrical sense demanded it and I managed to go

             through with it with only one single whisky to support me. And

             the play was marvellous.147 And if you hadnt been able to pay for

             the tickets at the time I couldnt have been there. So you did me

             a marvellous favour. And I was happy all through the play. Etc.

             But you misunderstood too much. And there is something in you

             that wishes to blame me. I had NOT repeat not got it wrong. You

             did say and I quote “Grand Circle. Cheap.” You meant it to be a

             surprise that we were sitting so near the front then you forgot,

             I suppose. If I do get things wrong, I suggest you are conniving

             at this yourself. You are above explaining yourself. Well, I’m not

             above anything, except giving up too easily. People are not stones

             – try to drop them and they adhere. They cant ever be summed up

             or paid off.148 Dont be hurt. Try to imagine.

                                                     Love, Betty

[317] Saturday 12th November 1966

                          I feel very happy today because – ho ho – unwilling

             and weary you may be, but Our Dialogue CONTINUES!

                           You looked very beautiful at the theatre. It isnt fair

             how attractive inhumanity is in somebody who matters

             to you. I dont say you werent trying for the H.B.149 just

             that you give up so easily) And even when I am driven to

             make my little gesture, I make it SMALL ENOUGH (half

             a £1 is even better and more shapely for your wall) so that

             there is the element of the clown in the procedure.150 For

             instance when you drive me one day, as you surely will

             if you intend any more Actes Gratuits in my direction,

             to stick a knife in you, yes, when I stick a knife in your

             so-called heart, I shall trip over the edge of the carpet

             and wound you about the knee instead, so that rather an

             attractive limp will help you out-Byron Byron after they

             have shut me away in the madhouse with the poisoned


                           Why is cruelty so attractive to the artist? Because it is

             the only sort of action that is complete, and the temptation

             for the artist to COMPLETE – even to complete human

             beings is so enormous that I believe one artist of my

             acquaintance (at the least) has to make a necessity out of

             the day to day completion of his friends.

                          Betty’s being a fool, so why should I bother further.

             Betty was being a fool, oh yes, but your Letter made the

             Let’s call the Whole Thing Off decision too much yours.

             It was too extreme an act to allow for any possibility

             Of mutuality in any decision about Us, whatever it was.

                           But you are marvellous. You acted beyond your own

             willed pattern in your weary but patient attempt to help

             me to understanding. And you too behaved as I did, as if

             there is some validity in making the price of a ticket stand

             for a willingness to trust The Other to mean well by their

             generous actions. I have a Thing about money. You know

             that. It’s a more or less natural state of affairs. So there

             is significance in actions of mine involving money. Also

             there was just the fact that I wasnt very sure whether I

             had asked you to go to Much Ado long long ago, when

             we still were “speaking”. And I didnt want to take it for

             granted that you should also pay for my ticket as well as

             going to the trouble (via your pupil) of getting it for me. I

             dont like to take very much for granted.

                          And you really thought that my “friendship”

             Would fail me in the assimilation of the gratuitous act (not quite

             gratuitous, but not quite spontaneous either.)

[318, his] Nov. 12th

             No, it was not my immediate reaction, which was to return the

money, it was what I thought, deliciously, when I realised that to return

the money would give you what you wanted, a reply, a continuation, a

trap that may still be a trap for all my recognition of it but which would

hurt me only as a waste of time.151 I still think to lie fallow would restore

the fertile soil.

147 It actually created happiness.

148 Jimmy Watson was, with a kilt. His mother had never kept her promise to give him one, the child in him told me who gave him mine since it meant so much more to him than it did to me.

149 Human being.

150 I presumably halved the £ note, sent half back and pinned up the other. No half £ is archived. She is likely right in interpreting the gesture as my saying she’s a clown.

151 I must’ve enveloped half the £ note tout court, an act speaking louder than words, speaking volumes.

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CORRESPONDENCE 35) Buttons pushed and trips


To John from Betty

             Communiqué                                             (11/10/66)

             Very glad (almost happy) to say that in less than a week I (believe I)

have slipped out from under your (honest but harsh) communiqué to me

and I am today in a mood to believe you are (probably) “mistaken” about


             Admit that’s a terrific victory. Admit it might have taken (even)

you (almost) as long to regain Style, that so Essential covering to the raw

(flayed?) flesh of the sensibility.

             Apart from that, I owe you a lot, that you (at last?) told me (some of)

the bad things you associate with me.

             I might even (if you have not already invited Another) be clean

enough of resentment to accept your taking me to Much Ado! It is fitting

we should have a Farewell as public as our Hello. But I (womanlike – and

who but you dare suggest that being a woman is completely an act of

mine?) Forgive You if you’ve already filled up the space for Much Ado

with one (or another) of these Little Girls who are such poor competition

that they allow you so easily to shine.

Be happy any how.

P.S. 143

                           I have much regretted that last evening (in September)

             when we met face-to-face at the Close with no Third Party to save

             me from my terrible prosaic seriousness. I must have been pretty

             condescending to cause you that Letter. My excuse is that I had

             been “noticing” what I saw as a summing-up of me*

                          *144 and you didnt even seem to sum up anywhere near

             accuracy either!

                          in the way you had been for some months. I had to tell you

             that I resented it, in case it got “worse”. But I did not intend to tell

             you in that public place and I must have shocked you a lot. I should

             have known what it feels like to be publicly upset. I didnt intend

             to hurt you & certainly not to humiliate you, which I now realise I

             maybe did too, for you were known there although I was not.

                                        It has taken 3 months to waken me to many things that I

             must have offended you by. I always valued you but perhaps I was

             careless of you. I do not expect to be careless again. I can apologise


[310, his] Oct 12

             I know exactly what that means: “I am in a mood to believe you are

(probably) ‘mistaken’ about me.” It means we are where we were, and I

was not comfortable where I was with you. Where I was was unhappy… as

being dead.145 “(Probably) ‘mistaken’.” Probably, yes; but the fact remains

that we had steadily got to a place where I could write such a – probably

mistaken – letter. Such a place isn’t a good place to be in. And, you know,

I don’t think it had anything to do with my shining, or with little girls,

or my inability to compete – if that was it, then no wonder I didn’t like

it, because I don’t compete. I didn’t have to shine with you; I find little

girls by definition just as boring as you do – and I don’t admit that’s a

terrific victory you’ve just had in reskinning your flayed sensibility. For

all I know I won’t like the new skin, particularly if the new skin is… Style,

which I suspect is another term of yours for something quite otherwise,

though I hesitate to say what. I don’t think you’re honest, Betty Clark

– not honest at all. In fact I doubt if anyone is. It’s a case of whether self-

deceptions coincide. Do ours? Now? Deep down lurks the suspicion that

I’m not writing myself because of something between us, and I would

rather write than be your friend.146


To John from Betty

                          Communiqué (3)             18/10/66

             I believe – & please dont be hurt by it – that I have to explain almost

every word to you now, so as to try to avoid further misunderstanding

so in case you have taken hurt from my dropping of the words “dear”

and “love” from my communiqués I’d better tell you that I couldnt use

these words just at this moment without feeling I cancelled out their real

meaning for me at other times. I dont feel you are “dear” to me just now

and I dont feel conscious of “love” towards you.

             Today I have heard Our tape-recording at last, and it has helped

to resolve my confusion about what precisely was wrong (for me) about

your attitude (towards me) – the thing that made me “take offence” and

“rebel” in that very imperfect way, culminating in my Telling You Off

at the Close Theatre café table that night. It was not your “cruelty” that

was so dehumanising to me. But I was believing you when you heard

yourself and called it “cruel”; but it wasnt cruel – cruelty is something

else something much warmer, nearer loving – It was condescension and

that’s what hurt! You will understand that, at least, because it was my

condescension to you at the café table that caused you to write that letter.

Your hypothesis – “Cruelty” – only confused me; it didnt fit at all with

my experience of the situation and condescension does. And now you too

know what it feels like – for I now admit I was condescending to you at

the café table. It seemed, at the time like justice. Anyhow I couldnt help

it right then. My pain about whatever it was you were doing had deprived

me of the humanity I’d have needed to go on trying to make contact

when I believed that you weren’t committed to a truthful encounter with

me any more… if ever?

             – you’ve become one of my obsessions! You wanted to be The

Disappointing Lover didnt you? Well, there you are the – Disappointing

Lover number…. You’re the first I’m going to accept as Finis.

[312] 21 OCT

             At last an answer!                                                                Joan Ure

             Has it really taken fourteen days

             or is it three weeks

             or was it yesterday?

             Anyhow, you heel, I answer you now

             as you deserve

             that is, as an equal

             which you nearly are (or you will grow towards it

                                                     with luck some day, perhaps)

             How invigorating it has been

             to be acknowledged, by you of all people,

             as self-important (Isnt it what we all aim at?

                                        And here am I, ho ho, there

                                        Before You, important to myself)

             And to be insulted for my appearance

             for dont believe for a minute

             I was not taken in by that “for example

             you[r] conversation stinks, well suppurates

             deodorised to its soporific end”

             Heigh ho, to be at the point

             where I no longer so much need to say “And you!”

             so that I can say it – isnt it great?

             And this time you will not take away

             the knowledge that this is Victory;

             this is to refuse to be the Worm

             by turning. Till I’m dizzy.

             Above all, this is the act of no mother

             but of a – imagine we have Got Through once again

             How long for this time? Arent we resilient?

             See Us. Wha’s like us? Not each other anyway.

             – as they tentatively put it, Friend.

             I shall be very happy

             to go with you to Much Ado

             Man, you did me a favour – I acknowledge it.

             No wonder your Little Girls (etc) find you


             I dont, of course… but…

             well, you understand, like you with me,

             it would be such a Bore to let you get away

             as they say.

             Only – hell – dont do it again

             well, not until the Spring, say.

I saw John Dexter rehearsing the University Group

– open to the public it was. It was not merely

a sadistic experience. He’s really interested

in the text. Robert was a Fool to be Bored

– your Robert, not ours, that evening of marijuana.

                  [I’d bought some hash from Gio for Eric’s birthday. Eric was

frightened to smoke. Robert had a joint, as it was then called. I was

having scenes where the picture had a soundtrack from another scene

until finally I came as I thought down, and asked Robert what it was

like, thinking I’d been making it entertaining.  On Robert’s answer it was

boring, I put my hand to my mouth and fled the scene, going upstairs of

a parked bus which drove me home without my being asked for a fare

while I was thinking about time which was still doing peculiar things,

like part reversing while another part was continuing, my terror being I

was trapped forever in the psychosis. I got off the bus instinctively

at the right stop; and was indecisive whether to phone Robert or not, to tell him

it hadn’t been over, that that had been the halfway point, until I realised

Robert would know from my flight – and that my realisation of that did

mean it was over.

                  That high was better than the LSD one. The girl was stripping off

on the bed. The good boy had a blue-green halo round him. The bad

boy was pacing with intent to walk through the chocolate cake on the

floor. I stood in the centre of the room, surveying the chaos and wanted

it cleared away. (I may have blinked.) The next instant it was cleared and

there was no-one there but me on the same spot. I couldn’t know for

sure what had happened though I deduced that on my wish, which he

himself would’ve prompted, my man had taken over and made the others

clear up and clear off and then jokily put me back exactly where and as

I’d been in order to give me the illusion of instant wish-fulfilment and

something to think about. My deduction was confirmed by the return of

the bad boy who reported there’d been something evil in the room. My

man, I ruefully thought. The boy was not attributing the evil, however,

to me. While relieved he wasn’t, I wondered why not, since, whether

I’d moved or not, spoken or not, the evil must’ve emanated in the first

instance from the physical me. I didn’t enquire further. He went on. First

he’d sat on the steps outside the room. That not being far enough, he’d

gone along the landing to sit on the stairs down to the door of my flat.

Then he went out onto the staircase of the house. Still not far enough,

he went out the house door and beyond into the city itself. He was being

pushed away by my peripatetic spirit. I asked why he’d come back, since

it’d seem likelier he’d do anything but. His rationalisation he didn’t

know where else to go at that time of the morning was plausible enough.

Having pushed him out, my man had pulled him back in to confirm my

deduction what had happened.]

[313, his] Oct 25th

Have the tickets for ‘Much Ado’, Nov. 8th. 7.30 p.m. – very satisfied.

Grand Circle. Cheap. Marion dogged school to get them. Gave her the

money on Saturday, in Boots, black affronted her with jeans, etc. Didn’t

believe I was her history teacher. I don’t, I said, on Saturdays. You don’t,

they said, flattering.

143 In a separate envelope sellotaped to [309].

144 On opposite page

145 I press one button.

146 Second button pushed. No need to go on; I’m trying – I don’t know how unconsciously – for the correspondence scenario instigated [177] which entails a break-up.

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CORRESPONDENCE 34) Tour de force

[295] 16 AUG

             I was petrified when you went out of the window, afraid even to

move over to stop you in case my movement caused you to fall.

[298] 25 AUG

             I was aware of being a bore to you but you (it seemed) turned me into

a bore because you dont expect anything any more.

[299, his] Aug 26th

Not sad so much for you as for me with you. It is not just that when

everything is considered important, nothing is; or – fair enough – if I

presume you will be boring then you will.

[301, his] Sept 4th

             Oh, Maria thinks I know everybody, can talk to anyone.

[302] 8 SEP

                                        Dont let’s entirely break friendship

                                        please. I’ve seen it (& one hears the

                                        echoes everywhere) – the breakup

                                        between all the writing people I know.

                                        Remember it’s not me (neither is it you),

                                        it’s the country that’s The Enemy. The

                                        spirit of the place is destructive. Let’s

                                        hang on a bit longer.

[303, his] Sept 11th

             It was not worthwhile explaining to you that I said, “I do not mean

you” because, earlier, I’d said something which you took to yourself, and I

did not want you to repeat the mistake. But what is the use. Maria waited

for you outside and did not leave until she was assured everyone had left.

I told her you’d probably not mentioned it to me in order not to aggravate

her offence against you. Of course I was wrong to say this. 

Plate 1 – ‘Self portrait moment of no lie’ – relates to letter 33.

Plate 2 – ‘Threepence complicated’ – relates to letter 38.

Plate 3 – ‘3 poems within fear’ – relates to letter 53

Plate 4 – ‘John I’ll be with you’ – relates to letter 65

Plate 5 – ‘Elizabeth Thoms Clark ,when love comes down’ – relates to letter 166

Plate 6 – ‘Bulletin on the critical condition’ – relates to letter 173

Plate 7 – ‘February 14th 1966 Nous sommes’ – relates to letter 251

Plate 8 – ‘Bulletin on the critical condition’ – relates to letter 173


Douglas Bank, Broomhill Gardens, Glasgow W1 1966 on Tuesday

September 13

                           Dear John,

             I was on one of my paranoiac, the man is the enemy, jags – that’s

what it must have been, because I certainly took nothing you said that

(might have) seemed at me to my heart enough to remember it still. I

suppose I imagined an Attitude, but it was paranoia, as I said, the-manis-

the-enemy mood, quite absurd. It went in two days, assaulted by a

reconciliation scene, on telephone, with the man I nearly sent the taxifare

to. I thank my scruples that I did not send money: he had been “ill”

(his words!) after our strange parting. I had not expected that. To have

to apologise in the circumstances mended my hurt pride (if that’s what

it was) considerably. Not to be the One who was dying of it this time

was lovely, and I could fully enjoy it because 2½ weeks “ill” (&, unless I

mistake, getting around all the time) is not too near the grave to make

me feel really ashamed instead of powerful. And to think I wasnt even

trying! Makes me feel, at this date (better late than never) une marginale

femme fatale, which I hardly expected, and it’s great. To play at being a

wicked trifling woman is fun, just this once again, but as a practice, no,

it’s too expensive.137

             Oh, Maria! Honestly I thought (until I thought about it again later)

that I had, without fuss of course, said Goodbye. I went away. I had not

thought of Maria waiting at the door! Later, I admit I began to wonder

“should I have gone off like that?” And yet. I could not have faced her with

an implied obligation perhaps to have coffee with me and talk, when we

might have had nothing to say.

             It was because I began to recollect the lack of finality when I saw

Maria I could not dare to speak about it.

             My time (which is priceless by the way) you cant buy: even if you

were a lot richer than you (comparatively speaking) are.138 My time (even

more than my ‘talent’ these days, alas) has to be given because it cannot

be paid for. I know its value you see. If I decide (having a free choice) to

give my time for the good of someone else then I find I cant take money.

Money is either irrelevant or insufficient exchange for any person’s time

once they are fully aware of its value to themselves.

             And dont be hurt that I cannot take money from you. I could not

take it from my own daughter. My myth about money being no rate of

exchange between consenting adults has worked on me I’m afraid – who

would have predicted it? People (among my own most dear ones) do, these

days, such unworthy things for money that I find at the moment that I

want (for the sake of my private balance) to do just one or two worthy

things for no-money, to help me keep my belief in the possible idealism

in the human (I shall call it) soul.

             I realise that it would have made it easier for you if you could “pay”

me, but it would be dishonest if I pretended you could. I dont believe in

your talent unless I am willing to do something about it. Take money and

cancel that?

[306, his] Sept 15th

             What a lovely long letter. I agree: money is irrelevant, so you can

have some of my surplus.139

             I’m delighted you won’t take money. My goodness! more for me.

There should be more like you in the world. It would be a better place. I

can accept your generosity very easily. It’s just that I don’t like you to be

hard up, unnecessarily self-denying, when I – unusually, I admit – have

excess and you are a friend. Since I’m not a saver, excess money is of no

use and I’ld rather it were spent… if not by me then by someone I like. I

know I’m probably undermining the govt’s financial policy but I can’t

help that. You’re worse than a credit squeeze.

[307, his] 24 SEP

Sink then140


26 Park Circus,

Glasgow C.3.

Dou 0377

Oct. 2nd 1966

Dear Betty,

             I met Betty Clark the other day. Delighted to see her, I was reduced

to depression in an hour – less – and the effect would have remained

with me had I not seen Steven Berkoff, laughed and left the Close to read

my Doris Lessing. (Indeed she is a feminist and, in her trilogy, not as

intelligent and unsentimental as in the Golden Notebook or Play with

a Tiger)141 These poor women without a sense of humour. Betty was

condescending to tell me I shouldn’t condescend to her – or else, no more

letters… some ludicrous sanction like that. She is unaware of her impertinence,

or perhaps aware, but not that it’s a paranoic [sic] ploy. I expect she

lacks confidence – she certainly should as a person, though her writing’s

improved since I’ve known her, e.g. since she lacks any conversational

gift, in fact I’ve seldom met a woman more able to staunch the source

in any but herself (which, of course, is not dialogue at all), she has the

cheek to justify it by asserting that anyway conversation does not lend

itself to expansive thought – though I don’t wonder she lacks such an

experience – as if her monologues thereby did! Poor pet, I don’t think she

can help herself. A sense of humour would help, at any rate to mitigate the

effect of her awful sense of self-importance, which is powerful strong, or

to prevent deadening overexplicitness in the hypercriticism And even if

you overcome these obstacles to free speech, she has a practically unique

knack of not meeting your meaning but, wormlike, dragging the leaf

down into her burrow where it’s transmuted out of all resemblance to

its original self – in short, has become manure… pure shit; and you’re

expected to accept this as what you meant! Christ, as if after overcoming

all that – to love her for herself alone – wasn’t enough, if you don’t accept

her word on herself as gospel – worse than a fundamentalist – she lectures

you on how to treat her, just like one of the more rare diseases… that’s a

fact. That’s what I got. You can’t have a mind of your own; it’s against the

law. It was all very wearisome. I expect she’s unhappy – sadness is all she

has to give at any rate. You’ve been warned, so steer clear of her. I’m going

to. Really, it’s too silly, but if she’s not going to write to me – and even

then she says her letters were a pack of lies – I can’t keep dropping stones

into the well, listening to the splash, when I know it’s bottomless and

void. That’ld be plain daft. And on this she’s dead right, we’ve nothing

to communicate. Funny to think she used to be interesting to talk to,

but that was years ago. You might find her interesting for a time, until

she begins to repeat herself – she doesn’t change much, holds fast to what

she’s got, and she can keep it. When you start thinking she’s too good to

be true, you’re right, and from then on it gets worse and worse. She might

be better with women though. I think she is, for a reason that is obvious

but which I won’t hazard – since you should understand her for yourself.

And for goodness[’] sake keep your understanding to yourself. She’s not

interested in candour, as I’ve already indicated. Well, good luck. It’ll be

an experience for you. As for me, I’ve had enough. She bores me to death.

We’re going to “Much Ado About Nothing”, appropriate that, and after

that, in that, this dangerous liaison draws to its ditchwater, drab close. I

simply couldn’t face Archie Hind’s exposition of ideas in her presence. It

would be a diversion but of the wrong kind. Love, John.

P.S. I went to a party last night. Barbara Brown arranged it. Strange.

All these actors, like moths without a light, floating, fluttering around

from one person with an eye to the next, resting nowhere. Boring. No –

fascinating. I sat relaxed with Barbara on the sofa watching the silhouettes.

Then we had a drunken orgy to ourselves – fully dressed… incredible.142

137 This is an allusion to Ian’s almost being the death of her.

138 I was arranging a collaborative meeting among our friends over a supper of iced caviar [sic] and Château d’Yquem.

139 After five pages on everything but, including, ‘Maria will be content, I predict, that she wasn’t in the wrong,’and, ‘My long hair provides conversation with the second year upward: should I cut it or not, grow it forward, have longer sideburns, grow a beard, what kind, a moustache, etc.’ I end:

140 Succinct. After those two words on an otherwise blank page, [308] returns to epistolary convention.

141 The Lessing play Steven Berkoff was in; he was thinking of dramatising Jack London but in London I advised him against that as “too masculine.”

142 I wanted to find out if I could surf the impulse alone to the beach, but couldn’t by-pass the reef without having had the forethought to remove it or resorting, while riding the wave, to dynamiting it apart, as I forbore to, though oddly enough I had the dynamite to hand in my hands. Concluding the impulse itself wasn’t enough, and forethinking was preferable to the alternative, with the merest flicker of a look I indicated her disingenuous taunt to subvert my will with the postulate she was any criterion of virility was beneath contempt. She had the grace to laugh; she should’ve taken off her knickers! “I knew there was something going on between you and Barbara Brown!” Barbara Lambie said. “You want me to masturbate you!” He hadn’t thought he did, but now she’d said, he might.

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CORRESPONDENCE 33) Midsummer’s Eve

[286, his] 23rd June

             I overslept and forgot the wireless but I borrowed the headmaster’s

and listened to your ‘Captive’ while the 5th year came in and retired to a

corner where Alan Mackay131 did acrobatics on the table …show off! I was

not distracted. The story was not quite the one Oona132 something-or-other

did but, I think I may say, I’d heard it before; good, of course.

[287] 24 JNE

I have always been religious – just for the record. It occurs to me

there is an anti-religious fashion in talk now so that it is heresy to take the

fact of the man Christ seriously and it seems to me right, at this period of

time, to introduce him as a potentially serious hypothesis into fashionable

conversation. And I enjoy it anyhow. He was so different from me, walking

away like that leaving his mother to feel unloved, the way I cant walk away

leaving my daughter ditto, that I toy with the psychology of the man to my

advantage, I think.

             Kathleen Rantell has not even mentioned PUNCTUATED RHYTHMS

in her radio crit for the week. It leaves me without critical notice and that

for the sake of gaining any ground so that “they”’ll let me do other plays

anywhere here is bad. The story was exactly as Oona said it but Norah

Mulligan was marvellous, so warm and rich and understanding of it.

Oona couldn’t be with the character at all, could not imagine herself being

superimposed upon by any “strongwilled” sister, so she could not do as

wonderfully well. So, if anyone on the air ever reads MIDSUMMER’S

EVE (our story as surely as SIGNAL AT RED was our poem) I would like

it, if it’s not Robert, who’d be marvellous to be Norah Mulligan who’d be

very next best because it’s about a woman whose [sic] married looking for

a replacement for her disappointing lover, who is not her husband even,

so in Scotland it would take a belief in me as a near-to-important writer

before they’d broadcast it. But it’s so sweet and so innocent and so nice.

And funny sad. And, also, adds a fictitious chapter to our story as seen

by me, the Signal at Red being – sigh – the other – sigh – end of it. Even if

it’s a chapter’s end, it feels more like the end of a volume. And who feels

anything but sad (and of course a leetle curious about What’s Next) when

the volume ends?

             I incline – alas – to be a very unfashionable writer – a writer about

nothing but sensibility.

[288, his] June 24th

“Captive” was, I think, a little self-conscious – no other criticism – perhaps

because I knew the author, whoever she is, and couldn’t help relating facts

in the story to what I knew of her and her relationships; so the narrator’s

“unmarried”ness, for example, seemed over-stressed. I’m so pleased your

short story is about us; it puffs out my vanity. I wish everything you did

was related somehow to me.

[289, his] June 25th133

The effect of Oona on my listening – the first time, of course – was

to compel, so tentative, more hesitant, fascinatingly beautiful but “the

Captive” is good. At first I kept “Signal at Red” to myself but when I

saw you didn’t mind others’ knowing, I thought, and didn’t either but

modestly claim it.

[291, 8 JLY]134

I wont get the 40 minute play made for Davids, Halliwell &

Calderini, when I said I would. I am turned off as an individual

and turned on as a woman-protector-of-small-creatures again.

             Oh Kathleen Rantell is not going to ignore the radio plays

in the Herald after all. She thought mine not really radio. Jessie

Kesson’s she thought was the best. It was the simplest, while being

whole & the radio technique was simple too but I want to stretch

the medium, not accept it for what it has done before & can do

happily over & over again. But I’m not so sad, now that I know that,

whether she thought it successful or not (& it was not naturally)

Kathleen is not going to continue the critical silence which makes a

writer wonder if she dreamt the occurrence of her attempts to communicate


             Oh in the legend Midsummer’s Eve the fictitious you is not

the disappointing lover whom the woman is looking to replace; you

(the fictitious) are the replacer. I mean it’s a love story not an end of

love story. When I said – did I? – that it was the end where Signal was

the beginning, I meant something in the writer (me) had gone full

circle between Signal & Midsummer’s Eve.

[293] 13th July

             Oh so Paula [Cullen] is on heroin and Irene is on narcotics and Alan is

worried about going to prison and only Maria is saved. And you of course.

Ah that disposes of That Little Lot. Me, I’m on solo beer.

             I expect you want to know how it is that I am on solo Beer?

             This is how.

             Knowing that I could easily run away, and quite far, and stay several

days if not longer for the world is round after all, I was very much afraid

because to forgive myself would be difficult. Knowing this, I hurried out

saying “I’ll be back in half an hour, less” and I was back in twenty minutes

with ten cans of beer. I shall stay drunk whenever I think the need to run

is going to overpower the Rest of It, I was telling myself, letting myself in

with that large brown parcel, hoping I would not meet the very respectable

man I live with and whom I would not want to shock or even to hurt. Now

I have only four tins of beer left so that is how many in two days? You can

count. It will sustain your interest. Anyhow that is how it is that I have

neither run away

                                        nor jumped out of the window

                                        nor fallen purposefully downstairs

                                        nor persisted in the useless

weeping I used to persuade myself was the ladylike way of escape for such

as I.135 PS

             In case you’re worried:- About your birthday verse, it is not really

referring to you & me (for instance we do not “discuss” each other

with acquaintances) but it’s a sort of satire on the superficial part-time

friendships that are à la mode in cities and I like it’s [sic] sort of 1920s

melancholy gaiety & I had nothing else ready to celebrate your birthday

with, so…. It’s called “Romanos”.136

             JULY 17th 1966

                                        This is now three years

                                        (or four)

                                        that you and I cultivate acquaintance

                                        each with the other

                                        (or friendship but not exclusive)

                                        It is the third summer

                                        (or fourth)

                                        since we began to take in exploration

                                        with our washing of each other’s ….

                                        (oh never less than silk)

                                        We amuse our other friends

                                        (or is it acquaintance?)

                                        each at the other’s expense wholesale

                                        (Who counts cost?)

                                        This is now three sweet years

                                        (or sour)

                                        sweet or sour years, or four.

                                        How lucky we are (or were)

                                                                                             JOAN URE


                                        I broke X hearts last Tuesday

                                        Oh how, oh how about you?

                                        I break X hearts every Tuesday

                                        Oh how, oh how about you?

                                        I’m so withit, so irresponsibly withit

                                        Oh how, oh how about you?

                                        (to the tune Mayorca via Costa Brava

                                        arranged Gillette, interchangeable blades)

131 Alan protested, “You don’t care what anybody says,” meaning what he said, to which he got the considered reply, “I do, but I try to overcome it.”

132 Probably but not certainly ‘Una’.

133 It contained a kirby-grip

134 This contained Poth, Poem on the Hill my editor suggests.

135 Frances and babies were staying, remember?

136 The Sauchiehall Street café I hung out in after work.

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CORRESPONDENCE 32) Punctuated Rhythms

[278] 6 MY

                           I wonder why you are wary of me. I suppose we have reason

             to be wary of each other …but who follows in the shade of reason

             re relationships anyhow. Pas nous deux!

                           I will esteem it only fair if you will not ask anyone who I

             may have ‘known’ 12 years ago. (It is only 11: I was exaggerating

             boastfully. It was 9 years at the time I wrote Signal at Red. After

             that I stopped counting precisely.) I dont do anything as binding/

                  impertinent as to forbid you yourself trying to Find Out, but I would

             be glad if you would not let my friends know what I have, as it

             happens, told you alone. Eleven years ago I tried telling It All to a

             psychiatrist only It All had only begun, but I could only say “I’ve

             fallen in love” and the man thought me, I now see, so naive it was

             impossible.  I wouldnt survive an Intrigue he assured me, so I’d

             better get out while it was still harmless. But it never was harmless

             and something that answers to my names ‘survives’ so far.

                          I have never been jealous of any woman. Now that’s odd

             …and yet it’s not, really. If Love were a reasonable thing, and the

             object’s merits measurable, it would be necessary to expect to be

             jealous of everyone younger (& just by that more attractive), but

             Love is a mad thing. It is intoxicated by the smell of sweat, by the

             accidents of place and time, even by terror.

             Maureen Morris has the very small part of the Girl in

             Punctuated Rhythms. It’s somebody, John Baddeley, who takes

             the main part & John Grieve is the Billposter & Una McLean is

             the Woman & Hamish Wilson is the Boy. He helped me out at the

             Unitarian production – on lights & taking one of the husbands’

             parts in the comedies. I am very happy about the cast. I have just

             read the script & I find it so bad I wish I could say Dont do it only

             I want them to do it and prove me wrong. It’s so slight it just must

             mean something more than it says or it’s a disgraceful waste of

             everybody’s time and talent! Oh I hope I am mistaken, that there

             is some magic in the thing as a whole which today I am missing. It

             is so unimportant, so little and ladylike, so tentative. Oh it’s antithe

             competitive worldliness, but not enough to condemn anybody

             for succumbing to it! Well, if that’s not quite true, it’s so gentle

             about it as if there’s no viciousness in me – it’s a little play for

             children & everyone washes their hands & goes back home. The

             time of evening will be 9.30 till 10 & in mid June (17th) maybe

             the lightness of the effect will be all right. But the end which is

             all new writing is better than the earlier stuff. I hesitate

             to face the actors. If John Baddeley is marvellous it just might sing …I

             suppose I mean dance. If not… well I shall, I hope, have the new

             experience of seeing a professional producer working two whole

             days on a half hour play of mine and if I am not too ashamed I shall

             learn – oh if even I am too ashamed, I still will learn – something.

             It shouldnt knock me quite unconscious.

[279, his] May 7th

             Well…. Punctuated Rhythms was good in a room, flat on stage

– but you didn’t have the production or the actors. I don’t know. I do

know you’ve written better since, more subtle, funnier, cleverer, more

sophisticated. (All my doing!)

[280] 11 MY

             I want to try to force Gerry Slavin to have to refuse a play called

“Oh, I didnt know Shakespeare had a sister!” and I havent written

it yet – All that is complete is my Determination not to be Left

Out of the New Play readings on 11th & 12th June by neglecting

to impress on the producer that I exist. I know he may – almost

certainly will – have made up his programme but I want – even

only? – to embarrass him by having omitted to ask me for anything.

But I’d rather make something new, like this “Oh I didnt Know

Shakespeare had a sister!” just for the occasion. So, as you know,

it takes the same energy from me to write letters, at least to you it

does, and what I have I must conserve, say 10 days, then if half an

hour of Oh I didnt! has not arrived, I shall give up …& write letters.

             As a would-be writer of plays, I’d certainly have tried to take

the technical course except you have to pass a medical exam

for any section of the [Drama] school & I just wouldnt pass. My

hypochondriasis takes even the X-ray plates into its area of illusion.

[282, his] June 18th

             I couldn’t concentrate on your play last night, even though I took

my wireless to the party.

[283, his] June 19th

             P.S. I am not ‘Johnny’ after all. It was a mistake, or rose rather out of

a misunderstanding (I forget exactly what) that I didn’t have the heart

to correct127 because it would hurt you …I thought. I have never been

comfortable in it, I suppose an example of what I have tried to explain

before that I have had to go out of my way, be what I am not, in order that

your ‘unselfishness’ with respect to me should not be felt by you to have

been irrelevant to me.

[284] 21 JNE

Commentary on Friday night. “Punctuated Rhythms”

I hoped for a visible, evident, air-stirring round of applause, I really hoped

for that – our most honest hopes are not tempered by common sense. I

hoped to be showered with phone calls, warmed with admiration. I hoped

to be Recognised, lifted upon the shoulders of strong men (carried upstairs

again of course)128 and cheered in mounting rallies to the retreating sky.

And nothing like that has happened, most surprisingly, nothing like that

at all. Obviously something has gone wrong with the arrangements: they

have had to silence the delighted crowds because of sleeping children:

they have had to restrain the phoning multitudes because of the strain on

the lines: they have had to disguise the Recognition to still the mounting

envy throughout the literary world (there are 3 of us, arent there – just have

a quick count down, yes, 3, and as it were, making allowances, a half, 3½

in all, barring discrepancies, but discrepancies are rather unpopular and

so dont survive beyond the annual general meeting). The literary 3½ are

biting their nails. I understand now why the only apparent reaction has

been silence: everyone has such a reign [sic] on their emotions here. And

the emotional few were out at parties and never knew what a wondrous

event they missed.


In the midsummer, my time, it is my strangest time, my ageless time. I am

stirred by the mysterious beginnings of my humanity, again tantalised by

the primitive in myself. The air is heavy and there is laughter taunting my

tidy mind; I like it destroying the compartments I have built where I keep

all my labels, ready-made. I am happiest and most afraid in midsummer.

I am haunted by all childhood in midsummer. In the midsummer I shall

never reach old age.

             All day I have tried to write to you,

             all day long

             but here I am hopeless before starting again.

             The pages lie around the floor in layers,

             their repetitions made meaningless after all day.

             The thunder at 6 cleared only the air. The 7 o’clock rain

             slides signalling its last drops along the wires.

             Oh Lord I never insulted your virgin mother – it was not me!

             All I said was she was never a natural virgin, never.

             And Lord I never doubted your mighty word –

             simply stated that I have to speak for myself.

             Lord, if a cup of full cream blood will do anything for you

             you’ve already had it – excuse me for reminding you

             all day I tried to write you.

             At 8 o’clock I dialled your number again,

             all day I tried to reach you

             all day long.

             Joan Ure

[285] 22 JNE

             dear John

                           – I prefer your name like that. I, on my side, thought it would

             hurt you, so I continued to write the “ny” although it is not you, I

             agree, gladly. And oh no I was not insulting your mother, & surely I took

             back the jealous remark about Maria?129 – it was so stupid.

                           PS I’ve written (today) “Midsummer’s Eve”, a 10 minute short

             story with a most sweet you and me (Secretly) in it, most funny sad

             and yet romantic & with such a sweet ironic happy end. It’s the best

             story I’ve ever written in my life: simple. It would be lovely if ever it

             could be broadcast, between 2 halves of a concert.130

127 I’d tried but she didn’t take the hint.

128 Allusion to Sean’s doing.

129 See index – a former pupil and friend.

130 Midsummer’s Eve was published in Words 6, 1978. My own ‘Sketch of a Just Man’ was published in Words 5.

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                           The girl I love best of all girls is my daughter.  I dont like to

             talk about her. I love her. She hates/depends (still) a lot on me. And

             that’s that subject.

                           John Gray “hopes” to broadcast “The Captive”.

             If he can get “a budget” for it, he “hopes” eventually to do “Ribbon of

             Communications” too. My girl-I-most-love (maybe person I most

             etc) is “in” it.

                           The thing is I know how much I am giving up and nobody

             else needs to know, but just let me say “I am going to look after my

             daughter’s baby” and there’s hardly a person who would think I

             had any choice. I know I have. Ça suffit.

                           Anyhow I’m “better” with babies than my daughter

             is. And when she can earn money she will have a choice too and be able to

             afford to play at being a mother as she plays, reasonably successfully,

             at being a student and at being fierily a married woman with a

             student man.

                           I am not approximating success as a mother so I do not like

             to talk about it. Man, I havent even succeeded in writing about it

             which means I havent faced it yet.

                           “That is the end of that medical student nonsense. Three

             babies all under 4 years old, no-one continues with their studies

             surmounting that!” It seems my girl does, and if I dont help at this

             point then I’m only pretending to be on her side or so it seems to


                           And Frances is terrific. No-one like her – certainly not me.

             She’s psychopathic of course. And in my tangerine dress, which

             first was hers, she looks so fair & frail and bulging, with wrists

             brittle as birds and eyes that contradict all the shrill need she has

             to make her way. I’m not a success as a mother, but Frances is an

             amazing egotistic personality, quite unrecognisable.

                           PS. And how, extraordinarily, is Tom Wright a bore?

             Because he gets things so wrong?

[272, his] April 20th

             Tom Wright is a bore because his (psychological) motives show; they

intend to demean others e.g. his deprecation of all writers, dramatists,

when he hasn’t seen them beyond a justifiable pre-discrimination of what

one will enjoy reading or seeing; his egotism is messily, uninterestingly

expressed: he is inarticulate essentially.


                           It was nice to be in the rain waiting for a bus, nicer to have

             touched your fingers – I would have liked my glove to be off. I

             could not for long hold your hand – for some reason I would have

             cried, as if some tragic thing had occurred between us.

                          I went to the play tonight hoping you’d be there. I forgot how

             beautiful you were. Why I’m so sad when I think you’re finished

             with me I dont know – the last days have been so blue.

                           I nearly followed you to the Thursday concert. This, tonight,

             is the first time I’ve ever followed a man after a quarrel. It feels so

             ridiculous. When, oh when, does a person get off this roundabout

             of relationships? Do the legs have to break and the arms fall off

             and is there a great gash where the face should be?

                           I am afraid of you now because what you think of me

             matters to me too much. It’s as if I’d lost my freedom.

                                                     for singing, a dialogue

                                                     between a man and a woman,

                                                     the parts being interchangeable

             When I’m dead baybee

             what will you do with my memoree

             when I’m dead baybee

             how will you live with me?

             When you’re dead baybee

             I’ll hang my heart on a willow tree

             when you’re dead baybee

             how beeootifully sad I’ll be

             When I’m dead baybee

             what will I have died of, seri-usly

             when I’m dead baybee

             what will be your fantasee?

             When you’re dead baybee

             you’ll have died beta-raying me

             when you’re dead baybee

             sad but just your death will be

             When I’m dead baybee

             will you dare to remember me

             when I’m dead baybee

             how will you forget about me?

             When you’re good-an-dead baybee

             I’ll fly to the top of my willow tree

             when you’re downthere [sic] dead baby

             I’ll sing all my songs for thee

             Joan Ure

             [274, his, 28 April 1966; on the back of the envelope is:] I sang your song.

                           Hugh was handsomer than I had ever thought, and I felt so tired, old

             and ugly beside him that I spoke and moved my face to hide behind it. I

             succeeded, I think; I was extravagantly right …from Jean’s eyes I judged

             it, and from Hugh’s124 Marriage, daughters, age, any such, was irrelevant

             to the interest I had in you.

[275 with from T.GW.U.125 opened in error on envelope, postmarked 30


             Oh no Hugh was not handsomer than you but yes he is delightfully

attractive and you responded to that, maybe. Anyhow you won. You always

will because you can make the effort and someone unselfconscious, say

Hugh, has no reason. But, yes, he is attractive and I admired your taste

and if Jean had not been there – and hurtable (by a woman, not a man

whom she would not be suspecting anyhow) I would have made it more

interesting for you by trying to interest him in my brilliant mind too but

Jean, and a need in me to not be fighting you for the moment, made the

game not worth it. I was happy to see you playing the man à la mode

better than anyone in the play we were seeing in the intervals.

I got £4.4/- from the Herald for making capital out of the death of Andrew

Taylor Elder just when I was in debt for 30/- and wondered how.

             Last night I went to the house of my twelve years’ lover. The walls have

changed there too and the man is heavier and almost absorbed in his

own myth at last but I cant stop loving someone I nearly succeeded in

dying for and he doesn’t know much except about …as they call it …lust,

and – hell, but it’s Something! – he finds me – imagine! – me attractive

still. The man’s a fool and I weep for him. (You’ve got to drop a tear for

someone who nearly killed you and didnt even mean it, ha’nt you?) Yes, if

I’m dishonest enough (viz. suppress about half of what I’m remembering)

it could All Be as if I had never died. Only I know too much – I establish

Style, that separation from the ugliness of full truth, and I take him in! I

can hardly believe it, that he could believe I have forgotten All That. Not

what he did to me but what I Was because of him – all exposed, fighting

for my vision and my death. Or it is more likely that he is simply grateful

that I can sound like anyone else, pretty shallow and brittle and talented

in bed when what am I really being? A Fury haunting him with what I

am because of the accident of him. Yet we have no consolation for what

we have done – oh I have scarred him too – he cant make it with anyone

else – well that’s a fine revenge and very proper, for neither can I – the only

consolation is a compromise and we take it. The ceiling is not marked

with rain any more. It is so respectable it is a lie. I say I love you because

I do, only it’s burned upon me, not accepted joyfully as at the beginning

– crazy that I was! thank God. He says nothing but it hardly matters. To

be therapeutic at least is something, and I’m that. I am too intelligent for

most men and I’m not really in love with women except if I can get no

men. There is too much frustration. I can play it temporary with a man

– not with a woman, for she reminds me of myself and I feel responsible.

I was in the humbling position again and it was all right My body is so

cold – it is good to be held warm. I am grateful for a past so crippling that

I cant run away from it. I hate what Man has done to me and in what he

does to me again I get a little peace. The greatest compliment one of Us

can pay another is to go on trying to talk when we become aware that the

other is developing, somewhere else, his own separate vocabulary which

excludes understanding of ours.

There is no correspondent in the whole of my life so far who is so much

worth The Trouble.

No-one EXISTS more in their reality, not in some myth of my own, than

you do.

At no time last winter could I have gone away to escape the cold. It was

a disadvantage. What opportunity did it offer me? No more than three

lines –

             This – honest! – is happiness

             No winter can be colder than last winter

             nor longer than last winter

             till next winter

                           but I could not write that till I thought the cold was past.

The Herald will publish it. I will get, say 10/6 or £1.1/- for it. I could go to

Edinburgh for an afternoon? It is colder in Edinburgh. There seems little

purpose in last winter for all the use I’ve made of it.

I’d like to feel well, even for a week, even for a month. I’d like to waken and

not have any pain. I’m fed up feeling ill. It’s been too long. If I could afford

to be in another place I just possibly might not feel so ill. THAT SUBJECT



P.S. Tuberculosis which is what they call what shows up on my X-ray

plates is the sickness of the poor. I play my role by despising money now

– it – if it comes – comes too late. This is not a sick way of thinking. It is a

way of including a sickness in my non-sick thought.126

[276, his] 3 MAY

I’ll let you keep the secret. It’s not your husband nor Iain Hamilton Finlay.

I know! I’ll ask.

124 Jean, subsequently turning up in his room, asked at once, “How do I get sex out of you?” “I think you’ve done it.” I realised once I agreed I’d be excluded from relationship since she wanted to make Hugh a father, of a child he’d love which’d displace the man he loved viz me. The insemination was so clinical it might’ve been AID except it wasn’t. I did think of visiting, in London, where they lived, to check if the natural insemination by donor had taken but there’d be no proof – no DNA then – it was mine. (For the benefit of my publisher: the A stands in for ‘artificial’. You don’t need the explication, having made the deduction from the ‘natural’.)

125 Transport and General Workers Union.

126 She was a galleon listing just above the water line, becalmed, drifting, piratical prey until attacked when she righted herself, all guns blazing. I felt like giving her a good kicking into health, and for dramatic interest, but she soon lapsed into her irremediable mode I resigned myself to. Her mother’d had it. I asked my mother, a nurse McIndoe’d wanted on his team, who replied you either got over TB or you died.

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