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Wednesday, 11 August 2010

1948 April

April. Russians squeeze Berlin. Income tax down. Bull like blondes are said to be. Maugham on lying in bed.

Friday, April 2nd
The European Recovery Programme (E.R.P) has now passed the House of Representatives with a speed and sense of urgency for which we have to thank the Russians….
At the last minute the Russians made one more effort to help. They began to try to cut the communications of the western powers with Berlin… It is an interesting situation. The Berliners are trusting the we mean what we say and are not going to allow ourselves to be squeezed out. The Russian zone German newspapers say we are “plundering” our three zones. Well the Russians ought to know plundering when they see it.
At 12.30 got out of bed while bed was made, did not feel as weak as I expected.

Monday, April 5th
Much farewelling. Hilary came over in a taxi to fetch me about 10.30 and was home soon after 11. Tonight a Russian fighter over our airport at Berlin dived under an airliner about to land and cut off its wing. All the occupants were killed, and so was the fighter pilot. The Russians have apologized, but the fighter had no business to be there, still less diving under an airliner.

Wednesday, April 7th
The budget yesterday seems to have given satisfaction. Income tax down a bit, purchases tax on household goods down, too. Wines, Spirits and Tobacco up. My income on the Burnham Scale has gone up from £852 to £912, so ought to make a net gain of about £40. Went out today for a totter on the terrace.

Thursday, April 8th
“I discovered how very delightful it is to lie in bed. It is astonishing how varied life can be when you stay in bed all day and how much you can find to do.” Just turned this up in Somerset Maugham
Getting my legs back well now. Rather bored as cannot go out much owing to weather or be very active indoors.

Sunday, April 11th
Came to Exton yesterday by the 11.30 via Bristol, taxi into Reading and reached Maud’s for tea. Here among the retired rentiers of Exton all problems seem misty and unreal and very far away. The lawns are neatly mown, the gardens are in apple pie order, the elderly ladies take their dogs for a stroll in the evening, the builder and his man repaints the pleasant detached houses, and all is as I have known it for the last 25 years.
Our troops due to leave Jerusalem in three weeks and already artillery fire has been heard in the city for the first time since Allenby’s victories in 1918. It is that of the Arabs who have succeeded in isolating the city. They are commanded by an ex major in Rommel’s Afrika Corps. Unless U.N.O. acts soon and firmly it will be too late and a full dress civil war will break out, which must lead in the end to the extermination of the Jews. Their folly seems suicidal and incredible….

Friday, April 16th
Today a great landmark in bird watching! Went down to the estuary, clambered over the railway line and wandered along the edge. Then I saw Mr Hunt sitting on a log further up with a telescope and glasses, so I wandered up and asked him if there was anything interesting. I could only see shell duck and oyster catchers. Yes, he replied, do you see that white bird directly below the Belvedere. It is all tucked up asleep, and he handed me the glasses. I found it, it was standing on one leg with its head tucked under its wing. Is it an avocet? Yes, he replied, rather surprised that I had got it straight off. An avocet! What a prize! I never thought to see one in England.
School started yesterday, but let them get on with it, I say. It is quite hopeless being at home, as you have no protection against either telephone calls or visitors – most of them quite unnecessary – so better to keep away for a bit. Shall go back on Tuesday and look in at school on Wednesday.

Saturday, April 17th
Molly came over on her autocycle this morning. Went for a walk on the front and had a cup of coffee at the Beach Café. She said the bull at Roel Hill was not very satisfactory. He was, like blondes are popularly supposed to be, lethargic. He also had to be taken out of his zareba on a chain to do his cow because he could not get enough purchase on the straw with his hind legs in side it. In fact he found the bed had no foot rail.
Rather glad to leave the cynophil conversation at Maud’s. Dog food an inexhaustible topic varying from tripe and haggis to dehydrated meat.

Monday, April 19th
Molly borrowed a car and we went up to Runnage to see Mrs Coaker and the caravan. Former verbose, latter dry. We had a late lunch due to the former at the latter. The moor very brown and burnt. Heard the curlews. Coming up had coffee at Steps Bridge, lovely with primrose and anemones.

Wednesday, April 21st
Back at school, so only missed six days, two at end of last term and four at beginning of this. As usual very impressed by untidiness and muddle of house after a spell away from it.

Tuesday, April 27th
Hilary back to Dartington. Had a young thrush which he was feeding and insisted on taking back. Tears coursed down his cheeks when tried to persuade him not to. [Ed: Thrush survived for several more weeks, but unable to keep itself clean and died promptly, presumably of pnuemonia, after some fussy girls had insisted on washing it]

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