By the time of the abortive affair of Janet Aikman (1972), my habit of diary-writing had dried up. As source documents, then, we have only a contemporary letter of Aikman herself, and Johannine Writings (XXVII–XXVIII).
XXVII.1.Again the angels met in array, and again the Opposer presided over them. The spirit named Snaresetter approached the throne of the infernal majesty and said, “Let not my lord be angry, nor let him be wroth with his humble servant. For I will turn this defeat into victory, this shame on me I will turn to your triumph.” 2.The Opposer said to him, “Let your story be well pleasing, or into deep and nether darkness you will certainly go.”
3.The spirit trembled and shook, but regained his composure and said, “I have sent my secret agents who have made the heart of Christ-bearer the friend of Lorsgrace cold toward his Mighty One, and I have personally prepared a young woman who knows not the Lord, named Lorsgracie. 4.Christ-bearer will send to Lorsgrace, saying, ‘Come over and see us, and behold, I have asked a good-looking woman if she will accompany you when you arrive.’ 5.And she, lord infernal, will cool the heart of Lorsgrace, till he no longer serves the Lord, neither worships him, neither is willing to think about him.”
6.And the Opposer answered him, “Well, well: will it work? I fear not, for Lorsgrace is careful to avoid the establishment of relationships of long standing with persons who know not the one whom I shall overthrow in course of time, whose kingdom shall soon cease, whose subjects shall be put beneath my feet.”
7.The spirit said, “Most noble king, I tremble and quake exceedingly in your presence. Yet allow me to speak but this once, I pray you. 8.My agents have brought a young woman (also named Lorsgracie) to the notice of Lorsgrace. 9.He is charmed by her, for she has qualities of body and soul, she is quite different from the other girls he knows. 10.He is certain to offer love to her, but she will reject him. I have seen to it that she has already been hurt in love, and will not thus take love when offered never so sincerely. 11.He will be sad, and will accept the love of the other. 12.He will see this Lorsgracie giving love to another, and will be very sad, but he will forget his sadness in a day, for Christ-bearer will bring him the first-named Lorsgracie.”
13.The Opposer answered him, “It is not enough. For he gave love to Plainswoman, but she was not of our Enemy, so he did not let the love prosper. 14.And he gave love to Pearl, but she was not of our Enemy, so he did not let the love prosper. 15.And he gave love to Rebel-Wishchild, but she was not of our Enemy, so he did not let the love develop. 16.And besides all this, he has carefully avoided involving himself with those who know not our Enemy, so as not to let them come between him and the one whom he serves.”
17.The spirit named Snaresetter answered him, “Allow me to speak this once in my defence.” He said, “You are so permitted.”
18.He said, “My lord, he will be ensnared by this one because she will love him to the point of distraction. When he departs she will not have control, and her tears will fall unchecked. 19.It will be made known to him, and he will not let her go. 20.Moreover, when he shall try to serve his master and give her up, he will be unable, for he will remember the grief he felt at the departure of Noble-Strength.”
21.The Opposer said to him, “You have done well this once.”
“I am your humble servant.”
22.“But even so, if this plot fails, you will be imprisoned in Tartarus until the day I triumph. Mark these words well. 23.Go therefore to your task, and do it well. You have been warned.” 24.So he departed from that place, and went his way.
 Christ-bearer: Chris Woodhead. Lorsgrace: John Cooper (i.e. me). Lorsgracie: Janet O’Hare.
My secret agents… have made the heart of Christ-bearer cold toward his Mighty One: Chris Woodhead’s spirituality at this time was questionable. So he had no qualms about fixing me up with a date with a young woman who knows not the Lord—i.e., with a non-Christian girl—to make up a foursome with him and his fiancée Pamela when I went over to visit him. This had happened in the past with Sheron Thompson, with Margaret Lindow and with Maureen Hume.
 Lorsgracie: Janet Aikman.
 The other: Janet O’Hare.
 Another: Ron Green, who in fact eventually married someone else, Rowena Oldham.
 Plainswoman: Sheron Thompson.
 Pearl: Margaret Lindow.
 Rebel-Wishchild: Maureen Hume.
 This one: Janet O’Hare.
 Noble-Strength: Audrey Wood.
And now that Chris had invited me over to see him again, he had arranged with Pamela, who worked for Provincial Insurance in Hull, that I should go out with her colleague from Provincial Insurance in Grimsby, Janet. The name Janet is ultimately a diminutive of John (Lorsgrace); hence: Lorsgracie.
Sheron Thompson and Maureen Hume
I regret not having a photo of Margaret Lindow: she was gorgeous!
Plainswoman was the nearest I could get to an equivalent for Sheron. Whatever the derivation of the name might be in fact, I regarded it as a variant of Sharon, which means in Hebrew “a plain”. He did not let the love prosper: I had wanted to see Sheron again, indeed was considering going on holiday with her to Austria along with Chris and Pamela, but I had a crisis of conscience about it, because she was not of our Enemy, was not a Christian.
Pamela… Janet—1972 photo
Pearl was Margaret. She was already well supplied with boyfriends, so there wasn’t really any possibility in her case that I could let the love prosper.
Rebel-Wishchild: According to one source, Maureen means Rebellious, but according to others it is an Irish variant of Mary, which means Wished-for Child. Similarly, I did not let the love develop with Maureen.
XXVII.25.It came about that a company of young people was wont to gather together to pray and discuss about the Lord. They did so at the house of Janet Aikman, who was one of their company.
Just as in the case of his older sister Gillian, Robert Ashworth had been introduced to Fleetwood Full Gospel Church but had then been forbidden by his parents from attending there till his 18th birthday. They presumably considered themselves responsible for him till that age, but that afterwards he was entitled to decide for himself. And his decision, in fact, when he turned 18, was to go to Fleetwood Full Gospel Church. He did this in company with one or two others who were about his age, including a slim but nevertheless full-figured girl, fairly tall, with long, curly dark hair.
26.A group of these people also went to the Full Gospel Church in Fleetwood. 27.And I was there one Sunday, when I espied this Janet Aikman, dancing and behaving more as an individual person, than as one of the ordinary people; and I was quite taken by her. 28.She was not beautiful, it is true, but her general appearance was attractive to me.
29.And I asked Robert Ashworth, whose sister Gillian I used to go out with, what this girl’s name was, and her age and telephone number.
30.He told me that her name was Janet Aikman, and that she was seventeen; and he gave me her telephone number.
31.Now I was already taken by this girl; my heart started to beat a little faster at the thought of her. 32.So, next day, I called her on the telephone. “You may not know me,” I said, “but I know you. I am the one with long hair and ginger whiskers. Do you know who I am?” 33.Then I asked if I could take her out. But she put me off, saying that she was about to do something different that night.
34.Before long I began to attend the meetings at her house. 35.And she did consent to go out one night; but she did not turn up, because, she told me, she could not obtain transport home from Manchester. 36.So I felt disappointed, and doubted her sincerity in saying I could take her out.
37.I did take her out, but the evening did not work out as I hoped: it was a complete failure. 38.And I wrote a letter and sent it to her, asking if we might be more than just friends. 39.But she wrote me a reply, saying, “I have been hurt before, and do not wish to rush into such a relationship.” 40.So I was disappointed and sad.
XXVIII.1.I sing a doleful dirge ’pon one
XXVII.41.And further, I was saddened when her letter appeared to be insincere. 42.For at the church there was a young man named Ron Green, and it was plain to see that he had intentions with regard to Janet Aikman. 43.I thought he couldn’t possibly succeed here, because of what my letter said. But I was mistaken.
who will not spare me e’en one glance.
2.She is good-looking, there’s no doubt,—
though not a paragon of beauty,—
is Lorsgracie, my desire:
(yet she has form and gracefulness)
her face—’tis true there are more fair,
her eyes—I have seen better-set,
less big; and teeth less large.
3.But if she smiles my heart is moved
and melts if she to me should turn
her eyes that flash and charm my soul,
or if to my small jest she laughs.
3.But I sing a doleful dirge ’pon one
who will not spare me e’en one glance.
4.For her words are a sword
that cuts deep to the quick,
they are fiery darts
and venomous thrusts
that hurt and beat down
my heart to the depth
of despondent sadness;
for her heart I can’t win—
and she turns and she tears
me—oh, what shall I do?
and how shall I act?
and what can I say
to the girl whom I crave
but an ounce of affection?
5.I sing a desperate dirge ’pon one
who will not spare me e’en one glance.
6.O would that a word of kindness pass
her lips; I long for it—my soul yearns!
In vain it seems the yearning is.
7.Again I sing the doleful dirge
on one who will not spare for me
so much as even one brief word
or only one brief backward glance.
8.And when in church we gather all,
and after, when we all converse,
she seems to shun me like the plague;
she will not venture e’en one word,
won’t even say, “Hello”, “Goodbye.”
If I to her myself approach
she slips away, I cannot keep her.
What can I do, what can I say?
She nonchalantly goes her way—
and I return unto my place
deep in distress, heavy in heart.
This inward pain I cannot bear
much longer—on and on it goes
without a break, without respite.
9.Shall I curse her? Shall I hate?—
The emotion just wells up inside:
frustration turning into fury,
wrath, vile words and foul expressions,
followed swiftly by repentance:
sorrow and contrition deep.
44.Between my receiving Janet Aikman’s letter and Ron Green’s starting to notice her, Chris Woodhead, my close friend, telephoned me, and invited me to come and see him. 45.He told me about a girl called Janet, who would be my date, should I wish to visit. 46.I answered him that I did so wish. And so it was arranged.
47.Some days later, the day before my departure to Grimsby, where Chris now lived, I was at the prayer-meeting at church. 48.And Janet Aikman was there, and Ron Green was there as well. 49.And it dismayed me to see them with their arms round each other in an intimate embrace afterwards. 50.Yes, I was sad, and felt no desire to see this Janet in Grimsby because of this sadness.
51.However, the next day, I did get on the train, as arranged, and later arrived in Grimsby, and Chris and Janet met me; 52.and thus was I comforted over my disappointment, and desire for the other Janet never entered my mind thereafter.
I am not sure how long they had been coming to the Full Gospel Church before this girl took my attention and gaze. She was wearing a long, dark skirt, and an orangy-coloured pullover—a darker colour than orange but lighter than brown—which was fairly tight-fitting and therefore accentuated her quite heavy bosom. She was an extrovert, and after the Sunday evening meeting, rather than stand around talking, she was dancing and disporting in a way which marked her out to me as agreeably different from the rest.
So I asked Robert, whom I knew reasonably well from when I went out with his sister Gillian—I either took him aside from the company or phoned him later on—I asked him the name of this girl, how old she was, and what her phone number was. He told me that she was Janet Aikman—“A–I–K–M–A–N”—that she was 17, and gave me her number.
So on the Monday evening, at home, driven by my new crush on her, I summoned a great deal of heart-pounding courage, and dialled her number. “Can I speak to Janet Aikman?”
“Speaking!”—either that or she was fetched to the phone.
“You may not know me but I know you,” I began. “I’m the chap at church with long hair and ginger whiskers.” I guess, then, that she must have been coming to the church for a number of weeks, long enough to have at least registered my image in her memory. I was beardless, but my sideburns connected with my moustache, and this facial hair was reddish, though my then copious head-hair was brown. “Do you know who I am?” I asked her. I waited for a mental picture of who I might be to form in her mind. She was uncertain at first, but then seemed to recognise my self-description. So I got round to asking her, “Can I take you out?”
She replied that she was about to do something different that night. She may, however, have gone on to tell me about the meetings that they held at her house.
“I’m the chap at church with long hair and ginger whiskers.”
At this stage, I don’t think I was aware that Robert & Co. used to meet at her home to pray together and discuss religious matters. Johannine Writings suggests that they were meeting there before some of them started going to the Full Gospel Church, and that not all who met there went to the Full Gospel Church. The “house-group”, then, was not a splinter group of people who went to the Full Gospel Church; rather, those who went to the Full Gospel Church were a subset of those who attended the “house-group”.
Anyway, I went to one or two of these week-night meetings at her home. She lived near the start of St. Anne’s Road, South Shore, Blackpool, not a great distance from Gillian’s and Robert’s which was situated off the far end of St. Anne’s Road. So it was a considerable cycle-ride or a two-bus journey from my home. We gathered in the shed in her back garden; it was quite a big shed, and I think the floor was covered with an old carpet and we sat on cushions. I was almost 22, some four years older than they were; and their jocular references to me as an “old man” didn’t help my feeling somewhat out of place because of the age difference. I remember speaking to them—perhaps four or five of them—on the prophecies of Daniel.
And she consented to my taking her out one evening—only, she didn’t show up. I returned home disappointed and perplexed, and rang her number. She told me that she’d been to Manchester that day—in connection with higher education, perhaps—and had got stuck there, hadn’t been able to get back home in time. I accepted what she told me but was tempted to think she hadn’t meant what she said when she agreed to let me take her out—shades of the old Susan Pipe brush-offs, I thought.
I did finally take her out—but as far as I was concerned, the evening was a disaster. I met her at 7.30pm, probably at Talbot Road bus station, Blackpool—I would get a 14 or 14A bus there and she would get a 22—and we walked the few hundred yards to the Blue Parrot restaurant at the far end of Topping Street. Conversation was strained, and the meal was over and I was back on the bus and home by about 9pm.
So I wrote her a letter and made my wishes clear. Her letter in reply to mine was as follows:
18, St. Annes Rd.,
There was a young man called Ron Green who had started to attend the Full Gospel Church. He wasn’t one of the Robert Ashworth–Janet Aikman party, but he started always to be hanging around Aikman after meetings and talking to her. It quickly became obvious to me that he had designs on her; but I took comfort from her letter, and assuaged my feelings of jealousy in the belief that he wouldn’t get anywhere with her. Although Janet Aikman’s reply to my request for a closer relationship had saddened and disappointed me, it at least reassured me that this young rival would have no more success than I had done.
19th April, ’72.
I wish I knew what to say. I find
letters difficult to write at the best of times,
and I’m certainly not finding it very easy
to express my feelings clearly.
Please don’t think that I don’t like
you, but at this moment I don’t really wish
to rush into any sort of a serious relationship.
I have been hurt badly before with the result
that now I am rather more cautious than
usual when meeting new people and making new
I think I’d prefer it if we just
continued as friends, and then perhaps later on
when I knew you better I might change my
mind, but no doubt by then your feelings
about me will have changed.
I am very sorry, John. I do hope you
understand how I feel.
Love and God bless,
How wrong I was! Five weeks after receiving Aikman’s letter, on Thursday 25th May 1972, I was at the evening prayer-meeting at church. And I was yearningly, burningly upset afterwards, when, going out of the room where the prayer-meeting was held, into the darkened corridor, I espied Janet Aikman and Ron Green with their arms round each other in a close embrace.
Around this time, my Mum spoke out with uncharacteristic acerbity. “I dislike that girl,” she said: “always flaunting herself!” I am not sure whether she was aware of the depth of unrequited feeling I had for her.
The next day, Friday 26th May 1972, despite my disappointment and depression, I did get on the train, as arranged, and arriving in Grimsby, I was met by Chris and Janet—and I don’t remember any yearning thoughts of Aikman entering my head at all after that.