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Sunday, 15 August 2010

1948 September

September. Russians beaten in Berlin. Stonor Park. Vaughan-Jones. Miss Hunter. The Wilk. Canoe at 2/6 an hour. Conscription lengthened.

Wednesday, Sept 1st
Spent best part of the morning at the end of the harbour pier watching the ships sailing. After tea took the train to Canterbury..… The County Hotel, which was excellent, had to my disgust nothing but glossy American weeklies in the lounge. Poor.

Thursday, Sept 2nd
Went to Matins at 9.30. The only congregation of two. The psalms a denunciatory selection on the fate of the wicked; thought of Hitler and raids of 1942. Went up Bell Harry Tower. I came down last of the party but when I reached the floor of the transept there was no sign of Mary. Came to the conclusion that she must be still up in the tower and spoke to head verger. He looked up into the lantern and sure enough there was some one up there and it was Mary. So back the verger, who had taken us up, had to go to unlock the door. Had lunch in the Tower Garden and then back to Victoria and Paddington. When I reached home at 6.30 was greeted by Hilary who said Nora had run the car into a taxi on Monday coming back from Oxford (which, together with bad weather, put paid to a camping holiday at Roel Hill).

Saturday, Sept 3rd
Not a very rewarding day. Nora disappeared at 8.30 to go to Phyllis’s wedding. Hilary complained of sore throat at breakfast and I took his temperature: 101 degrees…

Sunday, Sept 4th
Hilary had a bad night and very miserable… Stayed in bed all day listening to wireless.
The four generals in Berlin now meeting to try to reach agreement on control of Russian currency for whole of Berlin. This by no means certain, but if it does occur then blockade to be lifted. More and more whole of Germany swinging to the west, not just the three quarters that we hold. Germany going ahead with federal constitution of three zones. It almost looks as if, short of war, we have got the Russians beaten in Germany.

Monday, Sept 6th
Set out by bus to Fingest with Donald Heath. On arrival found forgot milk for tea, but when we reached Turville, Athena sent a nymph n the form of Anne East to provide us with a bottle. We went up through the beech woods to Stonor Park, where we had lunch watching the deer, then back to Fawley where we made a fire in the woods and brewed tea, then over the mount. In all 10 miles

Tuesday, Sept 7th
Hilary in bed all day. Washed up, made bed, fed fowls, killed cockerel, boiled syrup, changed feeders on hives, bought Hilary a present, cyclometer and horn, fetched mash from corn merchant and so on and so on. A windy, cloudy and showery day.
After communist rioting in Berlin, City Council has decided to meet in the British zone.

Wednesday, Sept 8th
Hilary’s birthday. He stayed in bed till tea time, then had a small sandwich cake with 12 candles. I gave him a horn for his bicycle and a cyclometer, Nora big knife, Wilk some rope. Latter to go into hospital for operation on fistula on backside, poor dear. Will be away for weeks, so went to see Donald Heath to ask him to look after her forms, to which he agreed with alacrity.

Thursday, Sept 9th
Ate Hilary’s birthday cockerel for lunch.

Friday, Sept 10th
Nora in Oxford all day. Hilary and I took our tea on the river in a canoe. We explored some of the Fawley ditches in it and saw a kingfisher very close to. The charge for a very indifferent canoe for 3 hours 7/6!

Saturday, Sept 11th
Had intended to go on river again with Nora and Hilary, but weather uncertain so gardened instead. Started sawing up some cedar wood and cutting hedges.

Sunday, Sept 12th
A poor day, dull, and started to rain in torrents about lunch time and went on till after supper. Took lunch out and walked with Mary from Reading to Pangbourne via Mapledurham. We got pretty wet, but got back to flat for tea and dried out.
Talks between Russia and West in Berlin about currency have broken down, but the attempts to sabotage the Berlin government, which have been going on at the same time, hardly suggest that Russians intended talks to succeed. The position seems rapidly to becoming worse than when the blockade started….. All correspondents are agreed on the seriousness of the situation, but it is very difficult to believe that in their present state the Russian government wants a war.

Monday, Sept 13th
Started school. Very cold and windy but fortunately dry. An enormous Sixth Form. No Miss Hunter to spar with. The usual rush of questions and problems to deal with, followed by a long staff meeting, but less exhausting than it used to be.
Hilary and Alexander went on the river in a canoe. Nora was surprised to see them afloat when cycling along. However they did not fall in.

Tuesday, Sept 14th
Government announced today men to be kept in forces for another three months, this to give 80 000 men by end of year. Production of arms, armour, munitions to be stepped up, not only for ourselves but to supply Western Union. Berlin negotiation at a standstill…. Don’t wonder the P. M. is suffering from a duodenal ulcer!

Wednesday, Sept 15th
Battle of Britain anniversary. Hardly had time to think up an assembly programme – Pericles’ funeral speech, hymns, and as a lesson David and Goliath, suitable edited.

Tuesday, Sept 16
Told my forms their motto should be “Stop me and ask one”.

Monday, Sept 20th
On Saturday went to Long Dene with Hilary. He was very cheerful and the staff very pleased to see us, including Arthur, whom I call “the Tramp’s Rest”. The school has gone ahead last year. More and better classrooms, redecorated dormitories, 150 acre farm, geese in large numbers, and poultry. John has just got in his first harvest of wheat and potatoes. We had lunch in the woods near and I came back with the 3.15, but spent altogether 6 hours in train plus bus travelling to and from Henley.
Trying to get a substitute for Marjorie Hunter. Doubt really if she will ever teach here again.
Went yesterday to Henley Hospital to see Marjorie Wilkinson. She will be away longer than expected as they have cut a bigger chunk out of her than she thought they would. Complained about the way a young nurse ordered us about and sister came into ward and made a row before patients – poor. Still when you are well and adult I don’t see why you should submit to be bossed about by girls no older than your own sixth form.
The Palestine mediator, the Swede Count Bernadotte, assassinated by Jewish terrorists in Jerusalem.

Wednesday, Sept 22nd
Rearmament is starting up again … and we seem to be making pretty fast for another war. Such is the end of the high hopes with which we put down Nazism in Germany with our Russian allies. Depressing isn’t the word.
Went on Downs with Mary and made tea. Put up two hares and could feel the forms warm under our hands.

Saturday, Sept 25th
Went over to see Aunt Alice. Drove via West Wycombe and had lunch on the way. Aunt grumbled entire time about Miss Howard. Miss H, as soon as Aunt went to get her coat, about Aunt!

Sunday, Sept 26th
A nice day. Took lunch out to Ewelme Downs and got spindle and picked blackberries, but had to come back rather early to see M.W. in hospital.

Monday, Sept 27th
Today a little fat man (Ioan Vaughan-Jones) came as substitute for Marjorie Hunter. He had been a pilot in the R.A.F., but had done no teaching. It was a case of choosing between a man with teaching experience whom I did not like and a man without whom I did. I chose the man without! However, in this case Miss H could not say I chose by looks as she did with Eric Cunnington.
The Berlin dispute has now been referred to the Security Council. It is clear the Russians hoped to get us to give up organizing our zone. When we showed no sign of doing so they simply went back on their assurances and killed the whole thing. Mr Bevin today pointed this all out in a speech to the Assembly, which was warmly applauded….

Tuesday, Sept 28th
The World Divided! I thought Mr Bevin’s speech good, honest straightforward and forthright…. Gave examples of Russian policy – the veto on new members, the refusal of the international control of atomic energy, the treatment of Greece and Turkey; he asked did the Russians still believe in Lenin and Stalin’s prophecy of the inevitability of war? He said the West would never attack Russia, but rather than live in a fool’s paradise it might be better to work with regional groupings, working with those with whom we could work and trust, in the absence of any system of world security.

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