—a girl on whom I had a crush in the first part of 1971.
The first time Karen was mentioned in a favourable light, was on Friday 30th May 1969, at a party:
…Even[ing]: [I got a] lift off Mark [to] Margaret’s, [where there was] a gathering. Ian, Audrey, Peter G., Edwina, Karen (she is quite pretty and attractive), came, etc. Two strangers [were also there]. [We] sang choruses, etc. Quite enjoyable.…—though I had been acquainted with her for some considerable time before that.
Sunday 1st June 1969 (“Karen” is emphasised in the original Ms.):
…Even[ing]: G[ospel] S[ervice]… After, talked [with] Edwina, Peter, etc. Then with Mrs. Makinson, family & KAREN, for a long time.…Sunday 15th June 1969:
…G[ospel] S[ervice]… Karen H, [I] watched her; she is quite good-looking.Sunday 29th June 1969:
…B[reaking of] B[read]:… After, Karen approached me when I looked at photos; she was wearing [a] cervical collar. …G[ospel] S[ervice]… Just a few words with Karen afterwards.…Tuesday 1st July 1969:
…Even[ing]: Bible Study [meeting at church].… Karen [was] not at [the] Bible Study—a pity!…Saturday 5th July 1969:
…Test[imon]y meeting [at church].… After, Karen & Jean C “interviewed” Graham as I sat there. He said, “I don’t know whether I want to ask her (Karen) out.” I said, “Swine”, and other (mild) things. Karen talked with us while we were tossing a coin several times; she wondered why.…Sunday 6th July 1969:
…G[ospel] S[ervice]… Afterwards, after much discussion with Graham and his friend John, and nervousness, I said to Karen (for Graham was going to do the same): “Will you toss this coin?” She asked, “Why?”, tossed it, fumbled—it was heads. I said, “Will you go out with me?” She said, “Not now/Not at the moment; I’m thinking of leaving church.” “Why?” “Everything’s getting on top of me.” [I tried to persuade her not to leave.] A long silence, so I went away, and reported the matter to this John (then Graham). (Karen then spoke to Mrs. Makinson, looking in my direction; I should think, “He asked me out.”)… Wrote a letter to Karen but didn’t post it.Saturday 12th July 1969:
…Even[ing]: Test[imon]y meeting.… Lift home in Dave D’s van. Sat with Karen. Not many words with her.…
Sunday 13th July 1969:
…G[ospel] S[ervice]… Then [to] Ken’s new house.… In Dave D’s van to our house, several incl[uding] Karen. A noisy, riotous time there. Enjoyable! (Broke the ice with Karen anyway.)Sunday 20th July 1969:
…G[ospel] S[ervice]… Said “Hello” to Graham; asked him, “Are you still after Karen?” He said, “My feelings don’t change that quick.” “Are you getting anywhere?” I said. “Yes.” “What’s happened?” “You don’t tell people things like that.” He went off to talk with Karen & Mrs. Hodg[kinson, Karen’s mother]. I talked with Ken, “Is it all happening?” Reply: “On Thursday he talked with her till 2am. Yes.” I told him, “Karen has never been out with anybody.” “Never?” “—well, not really. Graham says.” He said there’ll be other girls; I felt a bit sad.… After [this] I shook Graham’s hand with affection at [the] back of [the] church, by the coat stands. He said, “Karen won’t go out with me; won’t go out with anybody ever: seven months ago her father, whom she loved, left home for another woman, and Karen is frightened of the same thing happening.” Then Karen joined [the] conversation, so [the] above stopped.…Thursday 24th July 1969:
…Even[ing]: [I] went [to the] prayer meeting.… After, talked with various folk. Played guitar sitting on lawn. Karen spoke to me as I lay on [the] floor “stabbed” with an offering bag by Graham Ashworth.… [I got a] lift home in Dave D’s van.… [?Earlier, I] saw passport photos of Audrey. Graham took Karen in his van to have more taken; hers didn’t turn out (she struck me when I suggested reasons for this).…Saturday 23rd August 1969:
…Test[imon]y meeting… Coffee bar: Karen came and talked with me (I was quite pleased at the time—she never does that!) However, after talking of her work, she started talking of Audrey: “two-faced, etc.” also “Ian[’s going out with] Audrey [was] due to Mrs. Wood.” This all worried me. She also said, “Audrey hasn’t seen [the] world; this is necessary.” “Why?” I asked. But she wouldn’t answer; instead, she looked down on me, it seemed to me, for being so stupid. (I’m not saying I am stupid here, only that she thought so.)… [I got a lift] home [in] Dave D’s van.… Home:… All the above has disturbed me a bit.Saturday 6th September 1969:
…Even[ing]: Test[imon]y meeting. Then, coffee bar. At one time Karen sat with me and talked.… [I got a] lift home in the back of Stan’s van. [There were] three girls in [the] back, incl[uding] Karen, next to me. Chatty talk.…Sunday 7th September 1969:
…[The] open air [evangelistic meeting], aft[ernoon], went well. Karen [was] there.… G[ospel] S[ervice]… Coffee bar. [I got a] lift home with Graham alone [in] Dave D’s van. We talked. He said, “You’re one up on me anyway—you’ve been out with Audrey.” “What’s it left me?” I said. I said I was relieved Audrey was going out with Ian because I had no more envy. He said he was sad about it, also how he had cuddled Karen. [At] goodbye-time, he showed Christian love…For the rest of 1969 and most of 1970, there are a few inconsequential diary-entries.
The crush develops
Sunday 1st November 1970 (by now I was going out with Gillian. She spelled the diminutive of her name “Gill”; I spelled it “Jill”):
…G[ospel] S[ervice]… Karen H looked v[ery] attractive in [a] bright red jumper, and my eyes kept following her.…
Friday 13th November 1970:
…Around Saturday Night (i.e. maybe Fri[day]): I dreamed I was faced with a choice: going with Karen H or going with Jill. They were apparently mutually exclusive, and I was sad, because having one I would also want the other. I chose Karen H, but later came ashamed and sorry back to Jill, who, I think, was kind & sweet & forgiving about it. [I] awoke sort of sad and emotional.Sunday 15th November 1970:
…[I got the] bus [to] Grange Park S[unday] S[chool, where I taught]. Karen H [was] there, but gave me no reason, to leave me “in suspense” she said.…Tuesday 2nd February 1971:
…Pastor [gave a] good sermon… [I got a] lift home off Mrs. Earl + KAREN. (That’s why I asked for a lift. A nice bit of talk. She talked about herself & dad going swimming with [the] boys’ club. I said my lads were interested in swimming.…)Thursday 4th February 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 5th February 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 25th April 1971:
Karen wore her white jumper with red crochet thing with holes in, and looked rather nice. After the meeting I would have liked to have talked with her, only she was in conversation with Robert’s friend. (Both of them came [to] last night[’s meeting as well].) I got that “Audrey-talking-to-Peter” feeling I used to get, of jealousy.…Karen Hodgkinson was absorbing a lot more of my attention now, even though I was still going out with Gillian: “Karen wore her white jumper with red crochet thing with holes in, and looked rather nice”—not very well-expressed prose, this. She was wearing a tight, white polo-neck sweater, the well-formed lines of which were concealed somewhat by a kind of long cardigan, crocheted with holes in it, coloured in a vivid red. “After the meeting I would have liked to have talked with her, only she was in conversation with Robert’s friend. Both of them came [to] last night[’s meeting as well]. I got that ‘Audrey-talking-to-Peter’ feeling I used to get, of jealousy.” I think the Robert referred to was Gillian’s younger brother. The restrictions which had been placed on Gillian’s attendance at Fleetwood Full Gospel Church also applied to him, so if it really is Gillian’s brother referred to here, it would have been significant that he should attend two meetings in a row. Concerning my jealousy over Robert’s friend, I added on 9 May 1971: “Rest assured now, Johnnie boy, that’s her cousin. Robert (at church [the] third week running) told me tonight.”
Tuesday 11th May 1971:
…Before the meeting Karen on arrival asked me if she could borrow my tape recorder.Wednesday 12th May 1971:
[Evening:] Boys’ club. I went for [a] ride on [my] bike during [the] seniors’ session. [I] couldn’t get through to Joyce on [the] phone (to get [the] tape recorder for Karen). Anyway, I cycled round Whitegate Drive, and ascertained that Karen lived in Airedale Avenue. After boys’ club, I cycled into town with the lads. Taking leave of them, I again tried to phone Joyce unsuccessfully. [I] found out Karen’s phone number from “Enquiries”. [I] cycled to Joyce’s ca.9.30. [She was] not in. [I] rode around, checking every 5 or so min[ute]s. No luck. [At] 10.00 [I] started for home. Disappointed.…Thursday 13th May 1971:
What a great prayer meeting it was tonight!… Karen [was] not there. Joyce brought my tape recorder back.Friday 14th May 1971:
When Gillian had gone home, with much nervousness, stomach with intense butterflies, heart pounding, [I] rang up Karen. The result was more wonderful than— well— But I was in raptures afterward. I said it was difficult giving her the recorder on Sunday [be]cause I would be nervous about not getting it back [in time to record the meeting on] Tuesday. “Could I bring it tomorrow and we could copy it on[to] your recorder?” She seemed very pleased at this suggestion and said it was a “good idea”. Oh boy, this is great!Saturday 15th May 1971:
[I] could hardly wait till this afternoon. [I] browsed around Blackpool, then just before 2.30 [I] started off walking to her house. [I] met her on Church Street [and we got a] bus [to] her house. I felt very shy and tongue-tied at first. Anyway, we got into conversation. She is desperately sad and lonely, and living alone in the house gives her the creeps. “Miss Hodgkinson, you are not looking after yourself properly,” I said—she hadn’t eaten since morning. While the second tape was being recorded we went for a walk to Stanley Park to feed the ducks. She doesn’t like fellows looking at her (some blokes were playing football as we passed by). There was a peacock in full regalia. When we were feeding the ducks, one huge bird was trying to chase the ducks away by pecking them. She’s going to get married, she says (which is a change from what Graham told me ages ago)—only she doesn’t fancy any saved people, only an unsaved lad. She went a couple of weeks ago to [the] Lakes with Ian [Makinson] and John [McLellan]. This small company pleased her, as she didn’t have to watch who[m] she walked with, for fear of tongues wagging. She says this sort of thing makes her angry. Karen looked absolutely stunning. She wore a turquoise trouser suit with [a] white sweater, which enhanced her gorgeous figure, with that black crochet thing with holes in. She is very beautiful. Back at the house, I packed up my things and prepared to leave. [I] asked her for tea at our house, and also encouraged her to go to the meeting. She declined the former, didn’t know about the latter. Meeting: Karen arrived late. I was glad she’d come. I told her so after.… Afterwards, [I] worked on sorting out crusade leaflets, and Karen joined later, presumably [be]cause Mr. Makinson [was] taking her home.Sunday 16th May 1971:
After the meeting, Gillian and I went to the bus stop. I had been looking at Karen, so fair, wishing I could get an opportunity to speak to her. But she had been in conversation, so I couldn’t. But she came to the bus stop, and got on our bus. Unbelievable! What’s more, since she would have to inconvenience herself going home, she accepted when I invited her for her dinner. At the dinner table she looked stunningly gorgeous.… Evening: I did some stewarding. All I managed to say to her, though, was “Were you cold in the open air?”—which she went to. She was cold, and that’s all I managed to say to her.Tuesday 18th May 1971: Chris wrote me a letter today, which included a fragment of my letter to him, to which this letter was a reply. Side 1 of the fragment was a form posing a cryptic question; I had asked Chris to reply and return it to me. Side 2 preserves a few words from the letter:
[Gil]lian, I have managedDiary entry:
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)…—she had been thinking of the same thing. (How disappointing!) So we parted on the friendliest of terms. I told a number of people, and Jennifer escorted me into the coffee bar.
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 30th 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.
Thursday 22nd July 1971:
Karen at prayer meeting. No oppo[rtunity to] ask [re] AustriaMonday 26th July 1971:
Even[ing: Stayed] in, watched TV. Phoned Karen H.Sunday 1st August 1971: The Christian pop group Threshold were at the church, and afterwards they did a “cabaret” in the coffee bar.
…In [the church] coffee bar [after the evening meeting] I set up my microphone and tape recorder. Karen Hodgkinson asked me if I had some Bible Study notes I’d offered her by phone. So I gave them to her. I asked her if she was borrowing Ian M’s car while he was away in Russia: she said, “If anyone else asks me that—(!)” or words to that effect. Anyway, I asked her for a lift, hopefully, but she said she had only just passed her test, didn’t want people sitting with her while she drove, couldn’t I find somebody else—a rather disappointing reply. I was even more disappointed when she disappeared at the end of this “Cabaret”—I was still hoping for a lift with her.…
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