October. Fred Andersen on Italy. Henry V film. Letter from Jack Potter. Victory tea parties. Phyllis Auty on Paris. Income tax cut. New rearmament race? Clifford at school again.
Friday, Oct 5th
Fred Andersen, back from Italy and out of the R.A.F., turned up to lunch on Tuesday. As Nora said, conversation after so long with men only was rather unusual. Much impressed by the licentiousness of ancient inhabitants of Pompei and their custom of placing erect penises outside their homes. After service life he finds things tough with two children in a tiny bungalow. Also his small son does not like father’s intrusion into family life and openly shows his resentment.
On Wednesday took the school to see Henry V . It was a very enjoyable film with beautiful dresses and satisfactory technicolour. Endless pains had been taken with the historical accuracy.
Sunday, Oct 7th
We are waiting to see what the new foreign secretary, Mr Bevin, will say about the breakdown..... He is reputed to have been shocked and disappointed that in the appalling state of Europe the conference should have failed completely to take any steps to cope with it. Faced with our terrible disaster, to stand on procedural difficulties, as the Russians did, is pretty poor.
[Nora’s] Brother Ken down to-day. Says repair gangs utterly corrupt in some cases, especially Irish labour, and waste time in a scandalous way. On the other hand factories going on and on working on contracts that will never be any use: aeroplanes assembled in factories to be taken down to aerodromes to be dismantled by R.A.F. ground staff; so many radar sets that a new one put in for every voyage and then broken up, etc. But you can’t keep people doing nothing, and better than the American method of closing down plant and turning people off.
Another problem: the Jewish migration to Palestine. Refugees have been illegally landed and the Jewish defence forces are armed. A clash with the Arabs seems likely...
Wednesday, Oct 10th
Not much good news. Petrol rationing to continue after February, suits for men still very short. However the paper supply for books to be increased by 15% so perhaps we shall get some school text books and school exercise books. Education in the doldrums!
Friday, Oct 12th
Yesterday I received a letter from Jack Potter posted in Singapore on Oct 3rd. He is on his way home and hopes to arrive in November. He has had a run of luck and has come through very fit. For a while in Macassar and was later moved to Batavia and Bandoeng. Says he must get it off his chest then finish with it otherwise he might develop into the champion local bore with only one topic – the Japanese, ”barbarous, savage and quite undeveloped”: He says he has been trying to pick up some details about what has been happening in the educational world. "That”, said Nora, "won’t take him very long!”
Like Potter, Fred Andersen lucky. Had no illnesses in R.A.F. in Middle East. Most careful to carry about a large supply of [unreadable] and never failed to take it in the malaria period, also never without Milton [disinfectant] with which he washed all fruit before eating, and always refused to drink out of any cracked or chipped cup. Before let out of R.A.F. carefully tested for V.D. and lungs x-rayed to forestall any pension claims.
To-day we had the last of the Victory Tea Parties. This time it was the seniors and I sent them on a treasure hunt. It was extremely hot and this did not prove popular. However when they returned they played netball and then sat down to tea in a steaming condition. Tea, 3 sandwiches, a bun and a piece of cake.
A dock strike widespread and most ports except Southampton out. No one seems to know why, not even the strikers. We are told we may not get our bacon ration next week.
Monday, Oct 15th
Saturday Phyllis came in. Just back from Luxemburg and Paris. Luxemburg had been incorporated into the Reich and was full of food, lived in style there, German prisoners to look after you, ex chef of the Grand Duchess to cook, Moselle wine to drink. The cook had been a prisoner in a concentration camp and was still a bit shaky, but sent up superb entrées and sweets. One day she went on a car trip to Strasbourg. All right until they got to Lorraine when they crossed country fought over by Patton. Here all the roads pitted by mine craters. Hardly liked to go off the side of the road to relieve herself as other girl who went off on other side of road followed by a large explosion. Americans much hated in Lorraine for their indiscriminate bombing while our precision bombing of legendary fame. Next to Paris, her first visit. Much impressed by the vigour of the autumn air and the hardiness of the people. No taxis, no buses. Unless you could ”arrange transport” you had to travel by metro. Some pictures back in Louvre and galleries filled with enthusiastic and chatting crowds.
Sunday newspaper contained more Russian non-co-operation, this time in Austria..... How impossible the Russians are. Phyllis got quite shirty because I expressed myself strongly on this point. Says Russians have co-operated at trade union conference and at food conferences. Very nice that they have, but wish that they did it more often. Difficult to know how far one is victim of propaganda, distrust of Russians so close to the surface in this country, yet journalists on the whole impartial and honest men. Feel in my own mind that governing classes in Russia unwilling to allow free contact with the West because they fear the effect on their young men and women, who have been brought up in a hermetically sealed dictatorship and have been given a picture of their achievements the facts will not justify.... Phyllis replies that you must expect Russians to loot, you must expect their standard of living to be low all round; how can it be anything else – they have put everything into defending their country, winning the war for us! What should we have done without them?
Other voices raised to condemn ”unconditional surrender” as a grave mistake. When one reads of the appalling conditions that have followed the breakdown of all government in eastern Germany, looting and rape, murder and pillage, masses driven from their homes at a few hours notice and placed on trains without food to die, inclined to argue that we go on to fresh crimes against humanity. Had William Blake’s hymn this morning To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love and the lesson on forgiveness – Even as I had pity on thee.
News to-night contained an account of the horrible end of Pierre Laval. The wretched man took cyanide, but he had it from the Germans and it was stale and failed to kill him outright, so the doctors revived him in order that he might recover enough and then be taken out and shot.
Tuesday, Oct 16th
The fat ratio to be increased by an ounce of cooking fat and an ounce of cheese. You will now be able to take your six ounces of margarine and butter as 3 + 3 instead of 4 + 2.
A housing exhibition in Henley this week at the Town Hall. I went to the opening at which a hard faced bandit from a building society spoke of the dangers of “the present administration” neglecting “private enterprise” and we had the Mayor and local M.P., who looked very over fed. I told Len Hayes the local toffs had been there. “Have they been into the houses on West Hill?” was his reply
Friday, Oct 19th
Have been trying to get in at an Eastbourne hotel but the only one we could find was going to charge 28/- a day, so decided to go to Blewbury instead at 15/-
Sunday, Oct 21st
The lovely autumn weather has at last broken and it has turned mild, damp and rainy. The dock strike, a non-union strike, is still going on. Nora heard of some clothes and sandals in Reading and went all they way but found there were none there of Hilary’s size when she got there. Writer says there should be an “operation ATOM – aid to the overworked mother”.
Heard from Raymond Catell in Durham, N. Carolina, “unscrewing the inscrutable” in psychology. Says the elections here a nasty shock to many Republicans, who still equate socialism with communism.
[Ed: Professor Raymond Catell, 1905 – 1998, was a pioneer in techniques of personality testing. He became friends with Hubert and Nora Barnes when he was lecturer in psychology at University College, Leicester, where my father was lecturer in education and my mother the Leicester City child psychologist, the first person to hold the first post of its kind in England, I believe, and where Raymond Catell opened England’s first child guidance clinic.]
Wednesday, Oct 24th
An interim budget. I shall get my income tax reduced from £236 to £194 from April. Every little helps. Purchase taxes to be taken off household appliances.
Quisling, the original of the fifth column pro-Nazi traitors, shot.
Huge gales. Felt doubtful whether roof would stay on the pavilion, but it was still there this morning. Now we are back on Greenwich time find little space before dark after school for gardening and outdoor activities.
Thursday, Oct 25th
I do not like the way things are going at all. Take two things, the atom bomb and in Germany. President Truman announced a few weeks ago that that the atomic bomb would be kept secret; without consulting Britain or Canada. .... The conclusions seems to be clear – either international inspection and control or another armament race leading to war, and we have not much time to make up our minds which.
In Germany different policies are being followed in the three zones. The Russians are allowing the formation of a political Communist majority bloc which co-operates with them. We have allowed parties, but have done nothing to foster them as the Russians have done..... Germany cannot be self-supporting, but has no exports to exchange for food. Industrial employment must be found or the people will starve. The policy adopted so far by the Russians and the French is to remove machinery from Germany. That is to make a breakdown certain. Germany is the industrial pivot of Europe. Her industrial power is essential not only to keep her people from starvation but also to get Europe on its feet.
Have been reading St Joan to two forms and was asked by them when I first saw the play. How well I remember coming back to Leatherhead from Waterloo on a warm summer night in 1924 in a state of exaltation and rapture after seeing the play with Sybil Thorndike as Joan and Ernest Thesiger as the Dauphin. It was an experience not easily forgotten. "O God, who made this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive the saints? How long, O Lord; how long.”
Evil is not less evil because it is practised by your own side. We condemned indiscriminate bombing when the Germans did it. We turn a blind eye when it is done by ourselves. We condemned mass deportations (and rightly) when the Germans carried them out, but when the Poles and the Russians practise them we remain silent. We condemned the Nazis when they said "whoever starves in Europe it will not be us”, but what do we intend to do when the Germans starve? Am inclined to quote the inquisitor in St Joan: "All secular power makes men scoundrels. They are not prepared for the work.”
Sunday, Oct 28th
On Saturday we walked over from Blewbury to Compton where we had lunch with George Day [undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford, with the diarist] and his wife. He told us some good stories of Indian corruption and how he was run in at the criminal court for running into a bullock’s horn. He lives without any help in his rectory, but in India had eight servants, the absolute minimum you could get along with – cook, butler, go-between, sweeper, gardener, ayah, chauffeur and night watchman.
Ernest Bevin in his speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday estimated that there were about 20 – 25 million displaced persons on the move in Europe.
The tremendous gales have abated to-day, but a lot of mines have been washed up and exploded on beaches and against sea walls, breaking windows and doing other damage. All the cross-channel services have been at a standstill.
Tuesday, Oct 30th
A very wet morning. Up at 6.30 [on Sunday] and off at 7.30 by car to Reading in pouring rain. Parked car and caught 8.17 train which arrived at Penshurst at 11.30, then taxi to Chiddingstone Castle, the new home of Hilary’s school. I had not seen it before. A superb position in the middle of the Kentish-Sussex Weald looking right across the line of the North Downs. The castle a 19th century feudal erection with square towers built in limestone fronting a genuine 16th century building behind. Apparently rather badly built, no cavity walls and the lower floor had to be removed because of dry rot. Vast masses of ivy have been removed and seeing it across the park and over the lake it looked rather fine. Had a rather unsatisfactory discussion with John Guinness about Hilary. Apparently he was rather behind his group in English and arithmetic and I certainly think he is a slow worker. John suggested this might be due to ”emotional insecurity” or just plain lack of brains. Decided the best thing to do was to see if can get him given an intelligence test in the holidays. As usual at Long Dene everyone was delightfully vague, it was no one’s business to look after you, and you couldn’t get any information. This always puts me in a bad temper! I had a meal with Hilary and his fellow pupils in their room. After that we spent the greater part of the afternoon mending punctures with very inadequate resources. There seemed to be a great number of them. I brought Hilary some chocolate and a Mars Bar. I was very touched when he offered me the latter to eat on the train and when I refused he cut off a slice for me. He is not at all a greedy or selfish person. For lunch I had basic soup, brown bread and dripping and Yeastrel, raw carrot, tomato and raw cabbage followed by stewed apple and semolina. Started back at 4.10 and got to Reading about 8 and home about 8.30, by which time I was pretty hungry after a cup of railway tea and a bun at Redhill. Altogether it took about 12 hours there and back for about £1.
Teaching to-day about Confucius and the importance of family records. Through my Diary I hope in a small way this may be of interest as a family record.
Clifford, the senior master, back from the wars to-day. Hung out the flag but of course he had to tell the children who he was as only about 3 or 4 remembered him.