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Friday, 6 August 2010

1947 November

November. Admiration of Europe. Buttered buns good, Beethoven better. Mayor unshaven, chairman's buttons undone. Potato ration. Phyllis Auty, VIP, does Europe. "I Chose Freedom". Lady Morris. Swedish teacher at HGS.

Tuesday, Nov 4th
Went up to London at half term while Nora went to Dartington - for which the fare is now £2 = 10 = 0. London pretty abominable - even queued on Sunday afternoon to get into National Gallery, food dearer and worse. However, according to Timothy Auty in Picture Post Gt Britain admiration and wonder of Europe for fair and efficient ration system.  Went to see Battle of Britain Memorial on Monday in Henry VII Chapel, a lovely rich coloured piece of glass.

Wednesday, Nov 5th
Not many fireworks this year. Went into a conference of H.M.s at the University and saw the vice chancellor - well worth seeing, put him behind a grocer's counter and you'd think the grocer might have done better.  Then met Nora and went to Palace Theatre to see The Guinea Pig, a topical play about the entry of state scholars to public schools. We came out early and were very surprized to see a plate of teeth lying on the staircase. On looking more closely also saw copious vomit, so that was it. Reported teeth to management.

Thursday, Nov 6th
Beethoven concert in Town Hall, Reading, to which went with M. "Buttered buns are good but Beethoven is better"  said J. B. Priestly in talk on shortages.

Saturday, Nov 8th
Lovely autumn tints, red beeches, chrysanthemum yellow of elms and fiery purple of hawthorn. Walked to Hambleden Mill and back with Nora. Stomach very sluggish owing to all this stodge and starch we eat and lack of exercise. Milk rather better.

Sunday, Nov 9th
              Potatoes to be rationed at 3lb a week owing to last summer’s drought. Sweets to be cut down. A general screwing down. The municipal elctions last week a great defeat for Labour. Little doubt that if a general election now a swing far to the right..… Attacks on middle class by people like Shinwell, who said they are not worth a tinker’s cuss, worth many seats to Conservatives.
              Europe’s request under Marshall offer much scaled down by committee of U.S. government, but this probably all Congress will swallow. Pointed out that 30m tones of British coal exported would change the face of Europe.

Saturday, Nov 15th
              After much putting off, telephoning etc, which caused Nora to say in annoyance that Timothy Auty is now a V.I.P., she turned up half an hour late for lunch to-day, very exhausted after her trip through Denmark, Belgium, France, Italy and Greece (for Picture Post series) and suffering from nervous indigestion. Gave a most amusing account of the photographer she was sent off with to tour Europe, a bad type from Yorkshire who could speak no foreign language and whose English was so Yorkshire that she even had to translate his English to foreigners, and of course make all arrangements for him. He thought no woman could resist him, but he met his match in Timothy. The heat was terrific, especially in Greece, where could go for days without peeing. Altogether, had they not both been very obstinate people, they would have given up – especially as he left his passport in Paris and they had to go back from the Italian frontier, and lost all his cameras by leaving them on the kerb. She had been into Greek villages just after they had been raided and along roads supposed to be mined - a woman of great determination and courage!

Tuesday, Nov 18th
Winter has started early – cold north winds and to-day when I got up a fall of snow, later sleet. Nora in house since Sunday with a cold.
Truman has put his proposals before Congress and they are more drastic than expected. Quick aid is need to help keep France, Italy and Austria alive for the next few months. The question so far, as America moved from isolation, is not whether help shall be given, but how much and where. The struggle in the Congress will be over measures in U.S.A. to control prices, prevent speculation and to use grain to best advantage to feed men and not poultry and livestock. Food, clothing, fuel and rents are to be controlled under the President’s scheme. One Senator called these “radical communist opiates” after the New Deal “delirium tremens”!
              Mr Molotov announced to a meeting of Soviets that the Soviet Union now has the atomic bomb. His audience is reported to have cheered this for 20 minutes.
              Reading I Chose Freedom by Victor Kravchenko, a young communist engineer who after surviving many purges gradually lost his faith, finally reached Washington as an expert on metals in the Russian Commission under Lend Lease. Here he decided to bolt from the spies and narks before they could find him and bump him off quietly and give his story to the press. This he did, and then wrote this book which tells an inside story of the way the police state works. It is not a pretty subject if only half of what he writes is true.

Thursday, Nov 20th
A whole holiday for Princess Elizabeth’s wedding. Listened to the broadcast service, a dignified and moving ceremony. The princess spoke in very girlish and rather frightened voice, poor dear; the archbishop let himself go and bombinated, or perhaps he was too close to the microphone. I did not listen to the outside broadcasters for they have to adhere to a standard pattern. One, however, I heard later, said rather unfortunately that the Duke of Edinburgh “is now handling” instead of “handing” the princess.

Saturday, Nov 22nd
Reading Bimes, Frankly Speaking, an account by ex-U.S. foreign secretary of negotiations at Yalta, Potsdam, Moscow, Paris, Washington and London with Molotoff, Vishinsky and Stalin. He shows how the agreements made at Yalta and Moscow on free elections in the Balkans and a united administration for Germany were almost immediately broken and how gradually the western powers realized that the Russians did not want any peace settlements and were determined to delay them for as long as possible. Now on the eve of the final conference on Germany these tactics have been finally rumbled.

Sunday, Nov 23rd
The Russians are up to their old tricks. Just before the Foreign Ministers’ Conference meets they made an attack on the western powers accusing them of turning their zones (in Germany) into military bases. Their policy is to attack by accusing us of what they are doing themselves. The meeting of ministers has coincided with a great communist offensive in France and Italy. There are strikes on the railways and the docks in France and a government more to the right has been formed or is being formed.
              In the middle of last week a current of warm air arrived from the Azores and all the walls are streaming with water after the cold. The night minimum was 60 degrees and the day maximum 62 degrees. Friday night was the warmest November night in London since 1882.
              A good talk by Ed Murrow on American policy and how quickly they have had to abandon isolation and find their feet in world affairs, how men in the Middle West and in Colorado are talking, arguing and discussing the European crisis.             

Thursday, Nov 27th
A busy week. Prize Day on Tuesday. It went off very well. Lady Morris gave an excellent speech which fitted in well with what I had to say in my report. The Mayor and chairman came. They hardly added dignity to the proceedings – the Mayor had not shaved very recently and carried a cigarette behind his ear. The chairman’s trousers were not securely buttoned in front and this was painfully apparent from his position on the platform.
              Yesterday I read a paper on the future of education to the Henley teachers. Unfortunately I had a bad chairman, the headmaster of the Senior School (Secondary Modern School), who completely messed up the discussion. As Nora said, he not only missed the bull’s eye: he was not even in the target area.

Friday, Nov 28th
Had a Swedish teacher to-day. Taught the Second Form to bow three times as an example of Confucian etiquette and suggested they might do it to other teachers, but they asked their form mistress if Miss Hunter was in a good mood. This was poorly received and hope news will not reach her.

Saturday, Nov 29th.
Went over to Amersham for the night and used up the last of the basic petrol ration. Bitterly cold and heavy frosts with fog in London. The winter starting early.

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