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Sunday, 15 August 2010

1948 July

July. Berlin airlift - peace hanging by a thread. Miss Auty's German story. National Health. "What a lovely profession". Hottest day. Olympic games

Sunday, July 4th
The House of Commons made it clear in a debate that there would be no appeasement. Berlin is still blockaded and we are doing with American help a big air lift of food to the besieged city. The Russians show no signs of giving up so far.

Henley Regatta week. On Thursday went to Molly’s. Life on the farm full of variety and incident. My arrival coincided with that of the artificial inseminator. He had broken the only Ayrshire bull, so he had to use a Jersey. A very simple process, and off he went with 26/-. I thought soon women will be told today we can offer you the President of the Royal Academy, Admiral Seaboots or the Headmaster of Henley Grammar School!
On Friday the hay baler was at work and Pedro, a Ukrainian, turned up with a band from the European Workers’ Camp, known as Pedro’s army and a bit like Falstaff’s. Pedro had a little English and bossed his gang around until Heinz, the ex German prisoner, arrived, and then he gave orders in German with much shouting and (?) swearing. Much to my amusement, Pedro remarked to Ruth one evening, “All I want now is a glass of whisky and a nice girl to sleep with.”
On Saturday a statistical beekeeper arrived, but he was a bore. There were a number of hives dotted about and one swarmed, so I took same in a skep and was well stung.
Reading an interesting book by Liddell Hart, The Other Side of the Hill, the war from the captured German generals’ point of view. Hitler intervened to save the British army at Dunkirk and never had any faith in the invasion of G.B. He made defeat certain by refusing to allow withdrawal - in Russia, in Normandy, before Alexandria.

Wednesday, July 7th
The Russians have not raised the siege of Berlin and are trying by this means to get four power talks. We say no talks till rail, road and canals open again… We are now moving coal as well as food to Berlin by air. Round trip from Hanover takes about two hours.

Thursday, July 8th
Metaphysical problems. Sent a boy in haste to ask length of School Certificate Art paper from Art Master; boy returned and said 15½ inches.

Sunday, July 11th
A depressing day yesterday and stayed late in bed, leg rather rheumatic. Then took off honey and supers quite empty in majority of hives and several queenless. The coldest July for 21 years. Would be when have spent over £50 on bee gear.
To-day paper takes very serious view of situation and I think we are faced with war (again!). No one seems to realize it and papers full of test matches, “England in a jam” – Europe in a jam more likely. What a time to live…. Reading a history of the last war by Cyril Falls, very good. “Out just in time for the next” says Nora.
Great new health insurance scheme came in last week, but Aneurin Bevan, health minister, hardly struck the right note by calling the Tories “sub-humans”. A nasty piece of work with, I should say, totalitarian leanings. He and Shinwell a pair and time they were given a rest. Churchill improved the occasion by saying it was a good opportunity to give the Minister psychiatric treatment under his own scheme.
Mary, booked for the French Alps, wonders whether to go because of the crisis.

Thursday, July 15th
Yesterday on Downs with Mary, but weather still cloudy, inclined to drizzle and very cold indeed for July. Saw a new feature of the landscape, the tall thin chimney of the Atomic Development Centre at Harwell.

Monday, July 19th
American long range bombers with double crews and ground staff have crossed the Atlantic to our Norfolk aerodromes, the airlift has been stepped up and talks of the western union on common defence and diplomacy have been speeded up too.

Wednesday, July 21st
The Russians have now said they will feed the whole of Berlin. This a move to ingratiate themselves with the city government and people, but as they know how short things are in the Russian zone they will probably not be impressed. Of course, as before, the French are without a government at a time of crisis as the Socialists have withdrawn from the coalition. Gales, cloud, very trying indeed and felt very tired.
Miss Hunter away with bad feet and got stuck in the bath for two hours when in the house alone. Marjorie Wilkinson just out of hospital after having a boil lanced.
Bread rationing to end on Sunday…. In my mind it is associated with the difficulty Hilary and I had at Cuckmere in getting bread and then the night when the corner of the supply tent blew in and the loaves were soaked by rain.

Sunday, July 25th
The peace still hanging by a thread – the airlift to Berlin, which experts now say can be trebled if necessary and kept going through the winter. The Russian game consisted of presenting us with the choice of a retreat from Berlin or war. By the airlift we have handed the choice back to the Russians.
Phyllis Auty came to tell us that after a varied sex life of 38 years she was going to be married and settle down. She hoped to have several children, but wondered if she had started too late (Added later: she had, and she adopted two boys). Thought shock of matrimony after a life of sin might be so great as to produce family. Had previously broadcast on Yugoslavia, but gave a horrifying account of how she visited Hamburg to find a German school mistress who visited us. Eventually and with great difficulty she found the house, specially designed by an architect and once full of lovely things; it was overgrown and crawling with Germans from the East (the whole wealthy district of Hamburg has been turned into a slum) and inside in one dirty room in which she was endeavouring to sweep out she found a thin half-starved, grey haired old woman. She had adopted a boy who also shared the room with her. His shoes were falling to bits, so as Phyllis shoes were his size she took off her own and stripped herself of almost all the clothes she had. The people in the streets were apathetic; they did not understand your questions because it took them time to concentrate and when you blew your horn they did not get out of the way; their reactions were slowed down by lack of food; they seemed to live in a dream.

Thursday, July 27th
A lovely summer day. Spent the morning at the swimming sports sitting in the shade of a willow tree with the river stretching away to Marsh Lock, glistening yet hazy in the morning sun. What a lovely profession!

Wednesday, July 28th
The hottest day in July since records started 70 years ago, 93 degrees, only one degree lower than record in August 1911, which I think I remember in the Bank House at Walthamstow.

Thursday, July 29th
Opening of Olympic Games by King. Staff most anxious to hear this on new wireless set, so agreed, but proved boring as mostly commentators’ descriptions. Great heat continued today and though thunder was threatened none appeared. Went out to see Miss Hunter, now quite crippled by rheumatoid arthritis and staying with wealthy friends outside Henley. She is going into hospital but I really wonder if they can do much for her.
Bevin made a statement on the foreign situation. Said we were not going to negotiate under duress and that the government was considering retaining classes due for discharge with the forces. To such a point have we reached with our wartime ally.

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