Tuesday 4 June 2024



Frank Musgrove, who was professor of sociology at the University of Manchester when I was there as a postgraduate student in 1976-77, had a memorable line that has resonated with me from that time to this. ‘The health of a society’, he said, ‘lies at its margins’.


Becoming and being a Quaker identifies the person who has taken that path as being different from the mainstream. Quakers live at the margins of society, seeking to change themselves and the world for the better. That’s why we can be a force for good. At our best, we are the health of a society.


All of which brings us to Alan Newton, clerk at the Marazion Meeting House, who has recently accepted clerking duties within Cornwall Area Meeting. When I first met Alan my judgement was that he was a good, kind man with a quick wit and accomplished in his role as a clerk. He seemed a modest man, confident in some ways but self-effacing. Now I know his story I can appreciate his character more deeply. Alan has lived a life at the margins in a fashion which I find inspirational. More people should know about his alternative take on how to live well, how to live the good life.

Living the good life in the home that Alan built - June 2024 - Alan Newton and Beryl Brookman, with a Friend, Louise Donovan, in silhouette between them, sharing a simple lunch  

Alan was born in 1958 in Hornsey in north London before it became gentrified and posh. When he was five years old, the family moved to Wimbledon into a house that had been inherited from an aunt. Their new home was in a middle-class street with bankers and city commuters as neighbours. Alan’s dad was