John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Gillian Ashworth

b. ca.19 December 1951; older brothers David and Graham, younger brother Robert; my girlfriend, 16 April 1970 to 18 May 1971; m. Ian Makinson…

Three photos taken before I went out with her

At Ken and Myra’s wedding, Saturday 13th June 1970

Either Saturday 20th June 1970 or Tuesday 28th July 1970

Camping with the church in Derbyshire, August 1970

Her baptism, March 1971
Gillian first appears in my diaries on 16 Mar. 1969:
G[ospel] S[ervice]: three p[rofessed] C[hrist], incl[uding] Graham’s sister… [Afterwards, a group of us went to the] Cumberland [old people’s home for a religious service. Going there] in [the] van, [I] sat with Graham’s sister…
Her parents, being “Church of England”, objected to her getting involved in what they considered to be a sect, so they forbade her to come to the Full Gospel Church till she was—what age? Eighteen sounds likely, but I am not sure when her birthday was. Let me think. She took her A-level exams in 1970 and started college that year, so that would make her 18 then. So perhaps when she appeared at the Full Gospel Church again on Sunday 18 Jan. 1970 she had just turned 18. (I don’t remember where I got “b. ca.19 December 1951”, at the top of this article, from.)
[Morning:]… B[reaking of] B[read: I] arrived late, and sat next to Jennifer… [Evening:] G[ospel] S[ervice]… Jenny sat with me, and I nervously decided to finish off going out with her. Graham’s sister, Gillian, came to the meeting, and I was introduced to her. I said we’d met already. Then Jenny went away, so I was left with her. It was not at first easy to make conversation. I asked her questions like, “Did you enjoy the service?” and she answered. She said, “Is that your sister or your girlfriend?” So I told her of the “dirty deed” I was about to do, i.e. finish with her, “for I am in love with another.” When Jenny came back, she asked her the same questions!—a laugh—I said, “Isn’t it fun being embarrassed!” Going to [the] coffee bar with Jennifer, I stumblingly and falteringly, feeling a little ashamed, said, “—let’s call it off.” She laughed and said, “It’s all right.” I felt relieved. In [the] coffee bar, I joined a table at which Gillian sat with some other girls. Jenny later joined us. [There was] light conversation with laughs. Going home in [the] van, Graham sat on my knee! and we got up to antics, talking nonsense-style…
I remember thinking on that occasion, “Is that Susan Pipe?” They were of a similar height, and both had elf-like faces. Gillian, though, was thinner, so she had a less well-pronounced bust and bottom. And her upper front teeth stuck out a bit, and her legs were rather thin, but these things did not spoil her overall attractiveness.
…I was introduced to her. I said we’d met already.
I wasn’t sufficiently familiar with her features, though, to avoid initially mistaking her for Susan Pipe. I was supposedly going out with Jenny on this occasion, but explained to Gillian that I was about to finish with her, adding in a humorously stilted way,
…“for I am in love with another.”
I didn’t reveal to Gillian the identity of this “other”, but I doubt whether the reader will have much trouble guessing that I still had yearnings for Audrey. This did not stop me, the following Sunday, 25 Jan. 1970, from asking Graham if his sister would be coming to the meeting that night, nor from feeling pleased when he reported that she—
…had been asking about me…
She didn’t appear that evening; she stayed at home to prepare for mock A-level examinations the next day. The next mention of her is on Tuesday 17 Feb. 1970, in the Full Gospel Church’s coffee bar:
In [the] coffee bar, Gillian sat there. So I talked with her and bought her coffee. Then [I was] in the schoolroom [behind the coffee bar] with her [while] Andrea and Peter [Blundell] played with a ball. She’s attractive. [I got a] lift off Graham home; it was nearly arranged that she sit on my knee, but not quite…
We have to wait over a month for the next mention of her. Tuesday 31 Mar. 1970:
Bible Study… In [the] meeting, I noticed Graham’s sister. Afterwards… [I had] a word or two with her. She had a hood-type hat [with two cords for tying under the chin with big bobbles on the end of them], and I said, “Wear those on the inside, and become Brigitte Bardot![1] In [the] van, she and Nicky and I were saying, “It’s too early to go home, let’s go to my” (or “his”) “house for coffee”…

[1] Become Brigitte Bardot: The French actress Brigitte Bardot was not lacking in fullness of figure.
But that didn’t happen. On Wednesday 1 Apr. 1970 she was my date at a party:
[At] tea-time [I] rang up Mrs. Oldham, asking how many were coming to [the] party and if they could make it [that] number plus one. [I] tried to ring Gillian, but she wasn’t in. Later, around 7pm, [I] rang her, and she agreed to go to the party. [I] got v[ery] angry and impatient when Peter was v[ery] late arriving… Gillian [was] there. [I] talked with her. Not a bad time, really. [I] didn’t get off with her. Jennifer [was] there. She kept making comments on what I was doing (i.e. hanging round Gillian)—jealous? [I got a] lift off Peter home. He had just taken Gillian home…
Thursday 2 Apr. 1970:
…Should I phone Gillian?
Thursday 16 Apr. 1970:
Even[ing: I got a] lift to church. When Edwina arrived, she said, “Your friend’s here!” i.e., Gillian. So I didn’t know what to do.
Eventually I made up my mind:
I sat with Audrey who was alone… Afterwards, [I] cadged a lift off Graham. Now Graham practised longish with [the guitars-and-vocals group] Their Master’s Voice in the main church hall, so I talked with Gillian there. [I] also drew a picture (a laugh!)… on [the] blackboard. [I] found two bottles of pop in [the] crèche, so [I] gave one to Gillian in the chapel and talked [with her there]. [I got a lift] home in Graham’s car. Maureen [was] in front; Gillian [was] in the back with me. [She was to the] left; [I was to the] right. She seemed to nestle down, so [I put my] arm round her…
—et cetera. Gillian didn’t appear at the Saturday testimony meeting (18 Apr. 1970); it is recorded that—
I told Peter B[lundell] about Thursday…
—probably not everything about Thursday, though.
In [the] meeting, I said something to Audrey; she sat in front of me. I said I didn’t want to go out seriously with Gillian. She asked why, and I said I couldn’t tell her.
Obviously, the reason was that I wanted to go out with Audrey.
She said, “You ought to go out with her.” Why?
—I asked myself, did Audrey say this? then speculated that it was—
…because she knows I really want her (Audrey), and because she doesn’t want to go out with me…
Gillian came next day to the Sunday evening service (19 Apr. 1970):
G[ospel] S[ervice]: I sat with Peter B[lundell]. Gillian was sitting opposite by Sandra. A girl I had noticed last week as being rather nice was sitting in front, so I glanced to her and Gillian alternately! Afterwards, I went to Gillian, said, “Shove up!” and sat with her. Later, [there was] an after-meeting. We didn’t take much notice…; we were having rather a laugh; in fact, during the sermon by Sid, I played “hangman” on the palm of my hand with her. Afterwards, after some time, “chaperone” Nicky left us, and [we went to] Ken’s for my tape recorder, where “chaperone” Eric left us. [We got the] bus [to] my house, [where we sat on the] settee… v[ery] enjoyable; [in fact, I had] a lovely time. We surprised [my] Mum and Dad when they came in. Finally she rang her Dad, who came to take her home. I’m really glad I didn’t finish off with her tonight.
There was something of a custom at the Ashworths’ house: if there was any courting—necking and such like—to be done, it was done undisturbed (and undisturbing) in the front room. The practice had started with Gillian’s oldest brother David when he was courting Sandra (they were by now married). What! one thought with surprise: did sanctimonious David and Sandra do sexy things before they were married? That seemed unimaginable! When the front room was thus occupied, “Mum” and “Dad” would never come in; if they needed to communicate, they would knock on the door and speak without opening it. It seemed to me to be a very civilised arrangement!

In September 1970, Gillian started a teacher-training course in Lancaster, which meant that I could not see her as much as previously.

Monday 1 Feb. 1971 (Gillian spelled the diminutive of her name “Gill”; I spelled it “Jill”):
…Even[ing]: Again, the thought came to me: “Shall I carry on [going out] with Jill?” This is because I don’t seem to have the love in my heart for her, to give her the affection, that I feel I should. Selfish thought: “Carry on, and thus avoid getting lonely and in [the] abjection that you were in.” Finishing [with her] would break her heart. Also, thinking about this, I do have love for her, her manner and ways charm me. She is faithful, kind and true, and pretty as well. Also, making a success of a courtship doesn’t depend on… romantic love-feelings… It depends on the love that comes from effort at making it a success, with a will to succeed. Anyway, I’ll carry on as at present. I feel bad for writing all that, above…
Tuesday 2 Feb. 1971:
At [the] end of [the] day, I feel content…
I saw Gillian at church. Presumably she got a lift with the Bidles, who lived near Lancaster (cf. Monday 18th April 1966).
My girlie looked v[ery] pretty and attractive. Afterwards, as planned, I took her in the back [of the church somewhere] and showered her with affection, and made her feel really happy. I’m therefore glad…
However, the diary-entry goes on to say:
Peter G[ooding]’s fem[ale] friend is nice-looking. She came [to church] and, I think, p[rofessed] C[hrist] on Sunday.
This was Sandra Mathys. I also had eyes for Karen Hodgkinson [more].

Thursday 4 Feb. 1971:
Prayer meeting… I got ready and put on aftershave for (who, incidentally, didn’t turn up anyway!) this evening.
Karen’s name is omitted from the text of the diary.
I must do this and more for Gillian tomorrow. (Did I manage it? Comment, please!)
Friday 5 Feb. 1971:
…Even[ing]: As planned, I shaved and put after-shave lotion on, and trimmed [my] sideburns. She commented on this, and I was glad I’d done my best to please her…
Sunday 7 Feb. 1971:
…G[ospel] S[ervice]: I was a steward. ?Sandra, [a] new convert—Peter G[ooding] brought her [to church] last Sun[day].
Judging by the question mark, I was still uncertain whether her name was Sandra.
[She has] been in every meeting [since then]—this is encouraging—and now this Sunday [she] brought someone—?her mother—with her. This is really good, really thrilling. Goodbyes [were said] to Jill… Friday, Saturday, my thoughts about Jill were: “I can’t marry her, how about finishing [with her] after [our planned trip to] Norway? In order to be free as well?”
I wonder why I felt I couldn’t marry her. Perhaps the length of her teacher-training studies had something to do with it.
But [on] Sunday, she was so affectionate, lying there in my arms so trustfully, trustingly… I lose my heart to her. She wouldn’t be able to stand it, she’d be so upset—and so would I—if anything happened between us. Verdict: Not knowing [what to do], I shall therefore carry on as [at] present.
Monday 8 Feb. 1971:
…Gillian phoned, and I was affectionate to her on the phone, and deliberately to please and delight her said nice things…
There is a gap of some two weeks in my diary-writing. During this period, I went on a “mini-cruise” with Bergen Line to Norway, with Gillian and with Chris and his fiancée Pamela. A late note in the diary says under Thursday 11 Feb. 1971:
Departure Newcastle–Norway
—and under Sunday 14 Feb. 1971:
Return from Norway.
We made plans to go all together to Austria in September.

My increasing tendency to admire other girls is evident when my diary-writing is resumed, on Wednesday 24 Feb. 1971: see Miss J. Quick. In April, Karen Hodgkinson started to absorb a lot more of my attention [more].

I did very little diary writing during this time. But on Friday 23 Apr. 1971 I felt the need to express myself again in writing:
My girlie arrived [at] about 6.30 p.m. I looked in [the] paper for [a] cinema to go to. [There was] none suitable. I got fed up, didn’t know what to do, wanted to go out—also [felt] sleepy. [This happened] up in [my] bedroom; she [was] with me. A feeling of nervous ecstasy came over me, like when you’re going to [the] dentist and just getting into the chair, the adrenalin-“fight-or-flee” feeling. Swam over me, it did. I breathed heavily and sighed quite a lot. It was because my mind was making up whether or not to say to her, “Look, our relationship is getting nowhere. Better pack it up and be free.” But I never said it, even when she asked me if I still liked my girlie. Anyway, we went [downstairs] to watch TV. I felt selfish [be]cause I thought of how I felt secure because she [is] there to rely on, i.e. “Look at girls all you like and desire them, and feel secure [be]cause you’ve got Jill.” How cushy! I dismiss such feelings and thoughts with intense shame.
Tuesday 18th May 1971:
All day my stomach burned with nervousness. It was so bad—oh and how I kept sighing—sometimes I felt I couldn’t stand it. Gradually the thought of what I was going to do crystallised in my mind: I was going to ask Gillian for my freedom. Why? For I liked her very much… But (1) our relationship wasn’t leading anywhere, I couldn’t imagine myself married to her at all, though it was nice having her as my girl. What’s more, I was looking around at other girls, and was being grossly unfair, I thought, to Gillian, whom I was using as an anchor, (2) as someone who was “there” to give security. This was a selfish thing to keep her for. This was the underlying reason, the reason why for some weeks, when she had come back from college at weekends, I would think to myself, “Shall I finish with her now?” The reason that triggered it off tonight, I suppose, was my affection for Karen. So after the meeting I asked for my freedom, which she gave—I said reason No.(1)[1] … —she had been thinking of the same thing. (How disappointing!) So we parted on the friendliest of terms.[2] I told a number of people, and Jennifer escorted me into the coffee bar.

I said reason No. (1): It is not clear to me now how much I actually said to Gillian. The diary-entry states that I gave as my reason for calling off our relationship “Reason No.1”, but if I gave her all that is labelled as “Reason No.1”, there was no point in avoiding giving her “Reason No.2” as well. I assume, then, that my reference to “Reason No.1” means only: “Our relationship wasn’t leading anywhere, I couldn’t imagine myself married to her at all, though it was nice having her as my girl.”
I was going to ask Jill for my freedom.… So we parted on the friendliest of terms: Fancy ditching Gillian, though, the day before my twenty-first birthday!

Jennifer, 5th April 1969

Jennifer, 1972

Jennifer, 1973
Wednesday 19th May 1971:
21ST BIRTHDAY, and I have got quite a lot of cards, which is pleasing. The day had a happy & joyful end, for which I thank God. After boys’ club (and how pathetic, how stupid I am: I tried to ring Karen, but why should I, when I now have so very little hope of her) I cycled home. After getting home, standing outside the house, I felt so miserable, so lonely and insecure, now I’ve no girl. When I entered the house, Nanny said that Peter B had rung, asking me to go down there. The joy I felt was indescribable. I was feeling sad, but God had arranged for Peter to ring, and cheer me up. On my bike, cycling to Peter’s as fast as I could, I wept with joy and gratitude to God. But my weeping for joy to God was more when I arrived back at home: the Woods (Mr. & Mrs.) had been at Peter’s, and I had enjoyed their company (I have special affection for them). How glad I was. What a perfect evening it turned out to be! Everything in place: just I was feeling sad, news of a phone call to brighten me. To top that, company with the Woods.…
Thursday 20th May 1971:
What a disappointment and heartache my day has ended with! For I rang up Karen, to try and get to bring a tape for her to her house. But all I got was that tomorrow she was going to that wedding in London, so I was requested to bring it on Tuesday to give it to her in the meeting, and she would bring it back ?Thursday. (So I wouldn’t be able to visit her and have the pleasure of her company.) So I was oh how disappointed and downcast. Suddenly I feel so lonely and insecure, for I have gone and finished off going out with Gillian The feeling is miserable & horrible. How hopeless the position is, for Karen has no affection for me. I wish she had, but I don’t think she has, so I feel quite “sunk” and despondent.…
Sunday 30 May 1971. Diary entries are almost non-existent at this point, and what there are, are brief notes. So we find for the evening of this day:
…Bus [to] church. Karen (not coming). Bus [to] home. Party. Talk with Gillian…
So I had a belated twenty-first birthday party at home with the church people. Karen, though invited, declined to come. Gillian was there, though, and I talked with her at some length. I have the impression of a bluish dress of some diaphanous material (presumably lined), of some feelings of yearning for her but perhaps the conversation helping, and of her looking very attractive. I seem to remember sitting on the stairs with her, or being near there. Chris and fiancée Pamela were at the party too.

Thursday 22nd July 1971:
Karen at prayer meeting. No oppo[rtunity to] ask [re] Austria.
The place on the booked Austria trip was still vacant. Surely I couldn’t imagine that Karen would agree to go with me! And I am baffled now, thinking back, as to why I didn’t ask Jennifer to accompany me to Austria. I am certain that she would have agreed to go.

Saturday 7 Aug. 1971:
“Mr. and Mrs. K. S. Wood request the pleasure of the company of Gillian and John at the marriage of their daughter Audrey with Mr. Graham Ashworth at Full Gospel Church, Fleetwood, on Saturday, August 7th, 1971, at 11am and afterwards at North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood.” So I was up bright and early, because Graham had asked me to be [a] groomsman. The taxi arrived and we did the rounds collecting folks, without a hitch except for the minor detail that when the first guests arrived the church wasn’t unlocked. [There was a] small hitch during the ceremony, and for me acutely embarrassing. John the best man should have walked out with Susan, and Robert with Gillian (bridesmaids). However, Robert misunderstood which “John” it was and told me I was to walk out, which I did. The reception turned out to be quite disastrous. Gillian’s boyfriend Michael was there. She had sent “instruction” that I wasn’t to reveal my identity as her ex-boyfriend. She reminded me of this, at which point I blew up at her in real hot anger and told her I didn’t like being an embarrassment to her. Her “instructions” indeed! She used to be proud of me, yet now here she was trying to make sure I didn’t get in the way. Sweep me under the carpet, Gillian, I’m inconvenient to you! Most of this is my thoughts, not what I said to her. But I really told her off about it. I was very angry but didn’t shout—[it was] more like a harsh whisper—therefore [there was] no public spectacle.
Sunday 24 Oct. 1971:
…Church. …Afterwards, [I] talked to Gillian for some time and had v[ery] nostalgic feelings indeed. [I] kissed her hand! She looked very nice…
Sunday 31 Oct. 1971:
B[reaking of] B[read service]… Afterwards, Gillian rather upset me. I went to speak to her, but after a bit she excused herself and spoke to Ian. Later on, she was with no-one and I spoke to her again, but it wasn’t much better. Get a grip on yourself, John! Don’t allow yourself to be depressed, as has happened in circumstances similar to this before. She left w[ith] Ian, I presume to go to his house for dinner. I have a nostalgic yearning for her. I didn’t think I would get this now ([I] thought she was out of my mind): a sort of burning inside, unfulfilled desire, coupled with jealousy (which, unlike in post-Audrey days, I must clamp down on and control, lest I hate good people) of Ian (today) and Eric (because he gets an audience all right with her, and anyway he’s always going to talk with her).
Sunday 7 Nov. 1971:
At [the] B[reaking of] B[read] service, Jill [was] not there; as I have been feeling pretty cut up about her of late, I was glad… Mum said on [the] way home that Gillian [is] going out with Ian Makinson now. The burning [sensation] inside started; I asked her how she knew—Mrs. Hill told her… Jennifer [was] at our house for tea. When [I] asked [her] if she knew whether Jill = Ian, she replied, “I don’t think so”; it’s the first she’d heard.
Gillian eventually married Ian Makinson. He was a charismatic figure who had been the instigator of the “Chasidim influx”[1] to Fleetwood Full Gospel Church in 1966. He attracted quite a following from both females and males among the young people, on account of his spiritual dynamism. Certainly in his train there was Karen; this much is implied by my question to her on 1 Aug. 1971.

Chasidim influx: Cf. Johannine Writings, XVII.1–3; Hallowe’en.

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