‘Dialogue’ by Michael Hamburger
Tell us again of love and death,
Opposed, that we may picture both
Who cannot think them separate.
Death a mere empty frame we hate
And only love
At one remove:
So giddied by the turning wheel,
We need a mirror, loss, to see the loved one whole.
Never again, since she
First breathing on the mirror hid
The microcosmic mystery,
To leave us lost; till newly centred, grown
More partial, we should need
No other loss to prove
The wholeness of our love,
Nor any quickening discord but our own.
Tribute by Susan Morris
I want to start by telling you about how I met Marge. I was awarded a Fulbright on film and television in London, and I called my friend Linda to tell her I was coming, and Linda said ‘How can I help you?’ and I said that I needed a place to live, and Linda said ‘call me back in 10 minutes.’ And I did, and she said ‘call this number, and no matter how much it costs, no matter what the conditions are, you have to take this flat, because it will make your entire time in London.’ And she was right.
So I got introduced into this extraordinary world of Marjorie Walker. I had the basement flat, but she gave me the room upstairs, that was my study, and we spent days and days and days together: excursions, shopping trips, travel, parties, all sorts of things. And at first I just couldn’t understand Marge, she had that very mumbling, soft-spoken way of phrasing things, it just tripped off, and I didn’t always get it … and then one day I was at a dinner party, that she gave because Matthew Collings wanted to know about the history of the Turner Prize, and she had been one of the original Patrons of New Art at the Tate, and she went into this whole other mode that I’d never seen her in where she was completely clear, articulate, straight line of thought, it was just another Marge. So there were these other elements that I saw that were just totally extraordinary.
But there’s a whole flood of different things that come rushing back to me, one of which involves you Simon. My friend Simon Parkes who does a lot of radio broadcasting, said he needed to do a programme on cleaning and he said what should I do, and I said I have the perfect person for you. And so Simon came over, and ended up talking to Marge about her incredible lack of tidiness, and taking her shopping for cleaning supplies [laughter], and it was just the most marvelous program, and totally Marge, who was completely upfront with her … issues.
Which also reminds me of a time in Conway Street when the house was being renovated by David Challoner and we had to basically work with her to make sure that the kitchen would not be open to the dining room, because if you ever did see it you would never believe …[laughter louder than speaker] the amazing meals that that complete tornado had produced.
And there’s lots of amazing food stories, all the cooking and the shopping, and all the rest of it, and one Christmas she begged me not to go to a Christmas I had arranged to attend, and it was just the four of us, it was Rawle, Mike, Marge and me, and it was just one eatathon. You remember that, Rawle, don’t you?
She had an incredibly long fuse for really interesting unusual people that many of use may not have ever tolerated. I remember one occasion in New York when we went to La Monte Young’s, and Marian Zazeela’s, he was an avantgarde composer who had his own kind of museum in TriBeca and we went up there and we laid on the ground looking up at this light show and hearing this music for I don’t know how long – it was just one of those crazy things. And then having dinner with them, with La Monte Young looking like Santa Claus in his fleece clothes … crazy crazy stuff.
Or the times that we spent in Italy at Gerald’s, with Yolanda, Yolanda will remember this, driving around – I was the only one who could drive a stick shift – going on these pilgrimages to see paintings, or to buy food, or to do whatever, at this incredible place.
And I do remember being in Florida where my mother lived, and her father lived, and Marge and I would be on the phone back and forth, trying to deal with our parents, and she said one of these extraordinary things to me ‘We don’t understand how much we disrupt their lives’; just one of her phenomenal insights into how we all work and move.
One of the things that is for me the most overriding was her phenomenal generosity; I think for me Marge was a person who expected nothing in return when she gave; that she never kept score when she gave, it was just completely heartfelt and and she could never give you enough. So when I was leaving London after being here for 4 years – originally supposed to have been 9 months and in part I think I stayed for 4 years because of Marge made my life so wonderful – she gave me a big going-away party, and what she did was she had a fortune-teller come, because she said: it’s all about the future, because we don’t know what it holds.