From Marjorie’s Journal (1976)

I have been trying to make my notes as brief as possible for too long now, and so I shall try “free-fall” writing in a diary.


26. Sunday

It was a dark, wet and windy morning. Went to Kirkcaldy Meeting where Inge spoke, about jobs and families. I’m glad they chose such a lovely set of verses as an inception in my Bible. I’m glad they associated them with me, even if it`s only because they reckon I need the advice.

I`m sure I even breathe slower with D+I, and I don’t say much, because it’s so lovely to drop all manners that make most people say you’re nice, at the drop of a hat.

M+D came for lunch.

It has brightened up when we drove home. Everything looked fresh, like people after an afternoon nap. In Autumn everything seems to tidy its hair and straighten its clothes after letting go in Summer.

I always feel calmed after meeting with D+I., but I also do after staying with M. Maybe when you deal with people on that level it is a religious experience.

28. Tuesday

The day of my talk at M.’s guild.

I was struck again by the difference between church and Quakers. Everyone asked Mrs.C.’s permission about hymns, notices etc. A lady had sewn a table cover, which Mrs. C. had to present to the rest. If you compare that with R.’s notice in St.Andrews’ Meeting – I think a minister system not only separates people from a personal relationship with God, but also from being a real coming-together / con-gregation.



2. Saturday

I have decided, without thinking about it head on, that I will not take the CIA job.

3. Sunday

It was a nice bright morning which turned in to a grey wet day. There was a good “Your concert choice” – Prokofiev 2nd violin concerto – while I had my bath. Then went to Meeting.

E.G. asked me in for real ground coffee and her own buns and would have had me for lunch too. I had a nice 1 ½ hour with her. She used to be a seamstress in World War I…

4. Monday

At the university library I found the Chekhov story and a small book of Pasternak’s poems all about rain and gardens, which I looked forward to reading when I got home. I started my German and got out a book of Hesse short stories — it was exciting to understand the first sentence. But Lancaster University being what it is, once again I couldn’t take the books out – this time because I`m not a student anymore. This is the first time it’s hit me – what it means not to be a student anymore. How do other people manage to get the books they want to read?

I went to E.for my tea. S. was truly lovely. He had his bath with “I don’t believe in miracles!” in the background . He was standing there all sturdy and smiling, I just thought how it was a miracle that love between two people can produce something healthy and living. It’s a tremendous thing that stories about Christ actually begin with him as a child – as I don’t think Mohammed or Buddha do, – I don’t know. I suddenly saw another reason for calling him Emanuel, God-with-us. I suppose a child is God with us, – life, and another reflection of love. It made me want to read Matthew again.

5. Tuesday

It was another lovely morning which turned in to a rotten rainy day. Quaker Monthly wrote, wanting to publish the article I wrote for The Friend, which was very pleasing.

In the afternoon I finished Chapter 1 of the German – it`s going to be hard remembering all genders.

Tonight E. and I went to see “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” which had me in tears – that lovely Indian chief.

The fact that most of the patients were voluntary made it more of a «Mы» type situation [Zamyatin, We] rather than specifically anti-mental hospital. I`d like to read the book and see the film again.

6. Wednesday

I was a very nice group at the class – funny that Mrs. White speaks Russian so naturally and yet so wrong. A.J. was nice and kept the class going well. When I said Chekhov only sympathises with Anna’s father – Mrs. White said, “а он нехороший тип” – like he was the local tippler down the road. It was very funny.

8.15 was the J. du Pre programme, which was virtually a repeat of the Omnibus programme. I suppose it was a success in that she did convince me she was lucky and luckier that other people. I suppose talent is a mental faculty and even if it can’t be expressed with hands and feet, you still look at life with your talent, have a talented outlook, and so it can still be a strength. But, as she said, people caring must be most important.

Started to read Diary of a Nobody, which seems apt.

Just remembered, in the morning I heard from Progress [Publishers, Moscow], who didn’t like my translation. Perhaps I did a bad one for A.P. too? It threw me into a rather flat despond.

8. Friday

Went home to watch Mrs Thatcher’s speech at the conference. I didn’t think it was too impressive even from a Tory point of view. Classic remark: “we`ll stop the march of Socialism forever”. Talk about a call of class war..

I slept in the afternoon and then went to town late for some library books. I met Miss J. in the library, who said New York would be a nice place to stay – which put me on to the Quaker job more strongly.

11. Monday

In the morning Oxford phoned several times to arrange a battery of interviews for Thursday – the sound of many fingers being got out at once. I’ve tried to gather some thoughts and realise with a shock how quickly my academic grasp is loosening, and also my Russian and even interest in Russian. I hope that doesn’t mean that this time next year I`ll completely have moved away from things Russian. It’s been like a very special identity, like being married to Margot Fonteyn or something.

12. Tuesday

Two more very nice surprise letters. It was lovely to hear suddenly from two people I like so much, and I felt tremendously cared for and really happy all day. There`s nothing more to happiness is there? Inside on a rainy day, with good friends thinking of you.

13. Wednesday

I should have been over the moon to get letters from both M. and J. this morning, but it left me feeling sad. Both he and M. are so busy and fulfilled. I suddenly felt rottenly useless and lost a bit of faith. I sometimes wonder if I’m floating on a complete illusion about getting a job which will be exciting. Nevertheless, I was setting off to Oxenford that afternoon so I couldn`t complain.

I feel so weak for having doubted today: “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things…”

14. Thursday

St.Anthony’s must have Middle Eastern connections – the modern concretey dining hall is covered with Persian rugs.

My first interview was quite difficult – the 4th interviewer reminded me of the psychiatrists in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s…” The 2nd interview was much more fun with Pennell, in his downstairs study. The nicest was Prof. Bayley – like a lovely Lord Longford if that’s not a contradiction in terms.

Oxford seems a nice place, very lively and lovely old buildings don’t look like fossils the way I imagine St.Andrews’ must look to outsiders. Also I imagine quite a lot of thought – instead of TAD meaning about chapel organ over his spaghetti. But perhaps not.

I got the lunchtime train home.

18. Monday

It was a really good start to the day – a card from John Bayley and an application form for a Programme Assistant in their External Services Dept. It appeals to me very much indeed and I think I`m quite suited except that my Russian probably isn’t good enough and I don’t have any BBC contacts.

Spent much of the evening in tears after a phone call from J. about Oxford. What she says is absolutely good sense.

a – I’ve nothing at the moment

b — I string along at Oxf – contacts last all life

c — Look for jobs there

d — Instead of sitting at home, wondering what to be when I grow up

e — I’ve got an inverted inferiority complex about it – it`s too cushy etc. that`s why I won`t do it.


a — I’m not sitting at home wondering what to be

b — If I’m going to string along to find a job, why not here at home where useful, rather than college room

c — How easy would it be to look for jobs when already occupied? How horrid to start something you know you won`t finish.

d — Yes, I have got a complex about it being cushy.

But why did I write to her if I didn’t expect the same line and someone trying to persuade me to do it. It struck me how I always turn away from the next logical step which follows easily.

19. Tuesday

A nice morning to wake up. The only letter for me was from the Quakers – it look as though I`ll get an interview for the New York thing.

I listened to Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto in the record shop and it lifted me – there really is something other than taking safe decisions etc.

I think perhaps those few months are doing a great deal for me.

I know there is more to your life that you can plan for and play safe for. It’s happened to me before and I must just wait and believe again. I must and am abandoning all hopes of writing, publications, prestigious nice Russian circle. It may just be small, but I feel I’ve got more and more talents that can be called on. I’m not going to have an easy rise like M., or an ordered one like J.must just struggle on – but there’s a time for everything and maybe I’ll end up with some real relationships.

20. Wednesday

I dragged myself up, still thinking of the same things. But as I sat and stewed, I suddenly heard birds outside the window and saw what a quiet, mild and misty October day it was and got the exultation I get in Meeting. There are definitely two kinds of silence.

I read through half of Matthew and the 2nd Temptation – throw yourself off the cliff and God won’t let you bruise your foot – suddenly seemed to apply to me – as though I was determined to turn down Oxford to test God…

Russian at 6 pm, and mine was bloody awful – but A. was nice and asked me to a play reading tomorrow at the University. Really nice of him. Mrs. White’s father played at the Bolshoy and knew Chagall and Pavlova. Her mother was at the Catherine the Great Academy in St. Petersburg – a different era.

21. Thursday

I had a really good sleep and got a letter from Oxford – FOI form is missing, so there’ll be a delay. Letter from E., very nicely suggesting I do Oxford and an apologetic, sane letter from J. What a relief it all was. A breathing space at least.

Spent a nice morning writing odd letters, listening to the Bach B Minor and played the piano again – which always makes me feel private. The sun shone on the rain as it fell.

Then off to the Uni, where only 2 of us turned up for the play reading.

R., in the pub, has got a job. Things are moving I feel. What a relief today was – suddenly it seems I might feasibly be able to fit the things i want to do within a time scale without antagonising too many people.

Watched a weak programme on David Hockney – but his colours and pictures do excite me. I like all these moderns, – writers, painters and films – all the ideas seem so free and new. 

22. Friday

In the morning I tried to write letters and then really enjoyed typing a ‘critique’ of Matthew, which took a long time and so I had a late tea. Putting it all down, I saw how it all focuses on ‘faith’.

I cried over The Good Life again, which is ridiculous as it`s supposed to be a comedy.

23. Saturday

I typed out “Miss Delacroix’s Bow“, which I think still needs something added to it.

The Peace Marches got stormed in N. Ireland today. I wonder how that makes them feel, whether they despair because it seems so hopeless. Or whether it strengthens them because they’ve actually drawn out the enemy. I wonder if it is really pacifistic right through, or whether any of them fought back. It is a tremendous movement.

24. Sunday

After Meeting I read “Alice B Toklas” with some difficulty. Feeling a bit loose-end-ish. Went to David Hockney film with K. – it was enjoyable, especially the bits he actually appeared in, but he was streets above his entourage. New York looked horrible. 

I felt drawn again for old Russia and Russian.

26. Tuesday

The Quakers wrote asking me for interview on Nov. 2.

27. Wednesday

Oxford accepted me.

Dashed off to Russian class. Mrs. White gets nicer and nicer. I would love to have someone I had to speak Russian to permanently.

I`ve been a knotless thread all day – but as E. said I`ll probably look back on this as one of the freest times of my life.

May Christ be in everything we think, and say, and do – as Inge would say.

30. Saturday

Oxford wrote and said Max Hayward will be my tutor, I had a momentary twinge of regret and delayed posting my Oxford refusal.

Finished Gertrude Stein, whom I actually quite liked by the end, when some of the name dropping had thinned. It was a very clear idea, but nicer if Alice B. Toklas didn’t exist.

31. Sunday

A lovely day. I went to Meeting early to open the front door, though most people came in the side. I feel I am beginning to get into Lancaster Meeting now. The advices and queries strangely enough concerned “Choice of Employment” and advised living adventurously and choosing the job that uses most talents. So I think it’ll be New York for a while. M. too seems to think it the most natural thing to have a break, travel etc. before research, so suddenly the decision looses its trauma value. 



2. Tuesday

Imagine the great relief to get a lovely letter from Prof. X, saying what a good idea it was to get a job instead of research, and how he`d done and felt exactly the same after graduating! What a nice man to bother writing.

Quaker Monthly will print my piece in January, which is pleasing.

I was rather horrified to see all my throw-away comments in “The Tripe” printed and circulated under heading. Whoever that Marjorie Farquharson is, she’s got long and strident opinions on everything – pain in the butt.

3. Wednesday

I just feel so unable to cope when everything you try to do and the things you think are valuable and yours, just seem as though they are illusion. And other people just seem to have more resistance to things like that and take it in their stride. Sometimes I feel it so strongly, how cut off we all are from each other absolutely and yet whereas other people seem to have some sort of path they mean to follow and motivation, I always feel left behind and un-oriented. I somehow resent the separate identity I`ve got to play with all my life, and it`s like a burden.

It’s funny, I can write chirpy letters and see people, all bright and jolly, and then the same day I just feel I`m stuck in some awful lonely game I’ll never grasp how to play. At school I thought it was just the system of work and no play, and then at University for 2 or 3 years it was the same isolation, partly social that time, and I feel I’m partly so anti-research, especially at Oxford, because I want to escape that sense of loneliness and purposelessness. Will I do that if I go to New York? I doubt it – after a year I will be back feeling I’ve missed out on what everyone else is doing and feeling rootless by then probably.

I am trapped in this helpless mystical sort of state of seeing everything in terms of fate and great moral choices. D+I can do that, because they’ve some depth of life and spirit, but with me it’s a sort of stupid superstition, and when I see how happily M. can live with completely the opposite outlook, I feel stupid. 

I honestly can`t look back and say I`d rather have gone to St. Andrews anywhere else – it was exclusive and the work was silly a lot of the time early on and I got bored stiff with only 3 streets sometimes. But 2nd and 3rd year were happy -I had some very deep emotional experiences then and mutual trust I`d never had before.

Wrote letters in the afternoon, went to Russian. “ Тише – рождается милиционер “ [A policeman is being born, quiet!].

8. Monday

At lunch I lisped dully down the phone and got offered, and accepted the New York job.

9. Tuesday

Tories won 2 out of 3 by-elections.

In the evening I tried to polish “Miss Delacroix’s Bow”, as I have decided to try and sell it – in a bid to raise money any way possible.

No luck with trying to sell my Russian talk to the Adult Education travel club.

11. Thursday

All morning I hunted jobs.

At lunch I went for an interview as a cleaner.

12. Friday

Off to London on the 08.48.

The English National Opera were rehearsing Der Rosenkavalier in the main hall of Friends’ House, which was rather a thrilling sound. Lunch with P.D. was very friendly and she responded very frankly when I asked her directly what it’s like working with a Quaker organisation. I felt I overstayed my welcome a bit though.

13. Saturday

Friends International Centre at 10.30 and we all met up again. I enjoyed all of us sitting round the table again talking – felt really close to the other four – just all the experience we’d gone through together. I went on rather aggressively and at length about Tripartite v. helping dissidents – which I think S. understood and I don`t know how the committee took it. We had a nice stride and photo show. Nancy, the New Yorker, boosted my enthusiasm for N.Y. We gravitated to a conversation about God and belief. Which seems to be inevitable topic of conversation between us three.

14. Sunday

My journey home was fast and smooth and I devoured Iris Murdoch en route – so fast in fact that I’d missed all the clues. 

There was a remarkable couple at the Euston cafe – him with beard, long hair, leather jacket and in a wheelchair, and unable to speak. I watched him watching her and trying to get his hand to stroke hers.

16. Tuesday

In the morning I finished `The Black Prince` before walking into town to sign on. No jobs. 

In the evening I read some of my William Penn book. It`s quite interesting – he bought two counties of Delaware to give him an outlet to the sea. Maybe all his intentions were right for “The Holy Experiment”, but he didn’t seem to know enough about economics to realise all his resettlements and fiddling with compensatory land would lead to trouble. Or maybe he did. I’ve got out a few books on the USSR to find out a bit more before January and also on religion in USSR.

Afterwards I mended the hem of my 1940s coat and took out its sleeves.

18. Thursday

Interesting post this morning: my poem and “Miss Delacroix`s Bow” refused from Blackwood`s magazine; I’m through to the next stage of BBC selection.

More William Penn and map gazing – I should make Canada and maybe Wisconsin to see E.+S. 

I fitted in a new sleeve lining and watched “Miss World” [contest] – one of them came in with bananas on her head and was a child psychologist! Nuts.

Re M.: It’s true whatever we say. It`s no use us saying I support her more than vice-versa and trying to change it – it’s just the nature of commitment has been different. The phone call tonight reminded me of who’s who – W.H.Auden.

19. Friday

A cheque and my photos from the Quakers and a note from E. saying I’m to be one of his references for the Ministry of Defence (!). Good thing I didn`t join the CIA.

22. Monday

I went to the Bessie Smith concert at the University; it’s funny how you couldn’t stop yourself tapping your feet at Billie H., Bessie Smith and Mahalia Jackson and not the others. Suppose that’s why they’re great and the others ain’t.

In bed I read some Robert Frost and “the Road I never took” really struck me deeply.

Malraux died.

24. Wednesday

I don`t really remember what I did but in the afternoon I read poems over again and listened to the radio – just remembered. In the morning I went to the university to read about class and at lunchtime went along to the play reading. The play was a Kataev very funny farce and as usual I was cast as the Sovvy дежурный type.

Funnily enough I got my first pangs for studying when I sat in the library and felt the old Russian ambience at the play reading. The rest of the day I really wondered if I haven`t made the most awful mistake shooting off to NY of all places.

26. Friday

Got a letter from MOD asking for Ed’s reference. I mused a bit about his loyalty to the Crown and quite enjoyed writing it off.

28. Sunday

M. and I went to church and the Quakers. The Quakers were good, quite busy with strangers. A quick read of the papers and then on to my “class” programme, which I still couldn`t get a complete grip on. In the evening I went to “Arabian Nights” by Pasolini, which I thoroughly enjoyed. “A dream never ends the night it starts – the truth is in a lot of dreams.” It was super, utterly fantastical and amusing, and fabulous in the true sense. 

29. Monday

I spent a pretty frustrating day trying to write my BBC thing – found myself striking Esther Rantzen attitudes and getting bogged down in boring fact. It`s funny, our class apathy and concern just for a securely rising standard of living is just as bad as the Russians, though I never really thought it before.

30. Tuesday

Up early to finish typing off my BBC thing. I must have enough material for 3 hrs, with songs, interviews and quotations etc. Pretty deadly.



1. Wednesday

I started reading “ Белые ночи “ Dostoevsky’s short novel, White Nights] which is beautiful. 

6.30 – Russian class.

2. Thursday

The police offered me an interview as canteen assistant, and I got the proofs of my Quaker article which gave me a thrill. Lunchtime I went to the play reading which was cancelled ‘cos not enough people were there.

4. Saturday

Benjamin Britten died.

5. Sunday

Terrible feelings awakening – do I agree to Quakers, do I like Quakerism? And what about religion – isn`t it just another burden to make you feel guilty, insecure, and put you in a permanent state of judging yourself and judging other people?

6. Monday

9.30 Interview with police and very nice chief cook. Airy bright kitchens, 7.30 – 3.30 working hours. Chief Inspector Clark was rather against me, being a student and all. I burnt my fingers in the sterilising unit.

7. Tuesday

Sobering news from Quakers. Work permit 12 weeks late and single fare to cost £130. 

9. Thursday

Over the moon about a nice letter from A.P. saying my thing on Filonov`s being published and that it`s quite good..I wrote back immediately to thank her and if possible ask for more translation work. I love doing Russian. 

14. Tuesday

A new day, an empty line and what will fill it?