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Monday, 30 August 2010

1949 Sepember

September. Home to chores and depression. War anniversary. Mr Roberts. Jean Wickens. Pound devalued. Odette. Hilary's manners. Russia's bomb.

Saturday, Sept 3rd
Came home by the 1.45. Usual depression coming back to the chores, dustbins, and the customary disorder of School House.

Sunday, Sept 4th
Leg bad and morale very low indeed.

Monday, Sept 5th
Low morale on coming home due partly to the presence of chores, so many of which I can’t do and others of which while away had forgotten existed, such as log sawing for the winter fires, partly to the uneven ground all around the house, partly to the view of the dustbins through the kitchen and scullery from the front hall and partly to the lack of privacy, and above all to the sense of uselessness and frustration all the time and the knowledge that if one recovers the recovery will be at best very very slow process that may take months.
It was 10 years ago last Saturday that he second world war started. I am sorry I was not keeping a diary at this point. I remember two feelings uppermost, first relief that the period of hesitation, betrayals and appeasement was at an end and we knew what our policy was and where we were, secondly the sense of standing on the edge of the unknown, of dangers, privations, risks, exertions beyond our knowledge or imagination. We certainly did not imagine that if we survived we should survive with our position in the world as shaken from our Victorian inheritance as it is to-day.

Thursday, Sept 8th
Managed to drive car over to Mary’s on Tuesday. Term started on Wednesday, but seemed to go fairly smoothly. Got a Yorkshire woman and a very garrulous type in place of Miss Hunter, but to-day Roberts fell of his bicycle and dislocated his elbow – second day off!
Hilary’s birthday. Gave him a hockey stick and some money as he is saving for a bicycle. Certainly seems a much happier and more agreeable person.
Reading Strange Defeat, Marc Bloch, an account by a French historian of what he saw and learnt from the French collapse in 1940. After he had written it, he joined the resistance movement but was finally caught by the Gestapo, tortured and shot on June 16th, 1944. A beautiful piece of work by a man who was intellectually and morally great.

Sunday, Sept 11th
(Leg bad again). Spent most of morning on history notes for 5th form. If cannot do anything else can be a better history teacher! Reduced to that now!

Thursday, Sept 15th
Commemoration of Battle of Britain. Read Churchill’s account of Sept 15th from Their Finest Hour and Jean Wickens, head girl, read a lesson from Nemamiah about building the wall in the face of the enemy. Children seemed impressed.
In the evening Mary came over to supper to meet Hilary so that he should know who she was. The party appeared to go off all right with no very awkward moments.

Friday, Sept 16th
Hilary left by bicycle for Sutton, Ken’s new house, and from there to Chiddingstone.

Sunday, Sept 18th
Reading Odette, account of young woman secret agent in France during war.

Monday, Sept 19th
Pound devalued yesterday. Banks closed to-day. £2.80 instead of 4.08 to dollar. Cost of bread up from 4½d to 6d for 1¾ pound loaf.
Wrote John (Guinness, headmaster of Long Dene School) about Hilary saying that as carpentry on the timetable would like him to learn some! Courtesy and good manners worth something, but what could the home do against the school. What about showing note books to parents on parents’ days and having a time for writing home. Did child-centred education mean that the child sat in a chair reading the newspaper and listening to the Light Programme while parents carried out the tray and washed up.

Thursday, Sept 22nd
Finished Odette. They kept her in prison for two years, scarred her neck with a redhot iron, pulled out all her toenails on one foot, put her in the darkened cell and an underground bunker at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for women, but they did not execute her for they believed she was a relative of Winston Churchill, and they did not break her spirit. She lived to give evidence at the trial of the warder-criminals and to receive the George Cross and to be reunited with her three small daughters in London. To read of women like these makes one very conscious of one’s own cowardice. How could they endure what they did, how remain sane, how face the uncertainty, I do not know. A lass unparalleled indeed.

Sunday, Sept 25th
The sensation this week has been an explosion, an atomic explosion traced to the Siberian frostinesses. Have they got the atom bomb, have they many atom bombs ? If they have they have worked faster than was expected, but they have had German scientists to help them….. This will not make the Russians any more inclined to agree to an efficient system of inspection of atomic plants and it is this or nothing, or rather it is this or an armaments race ending in an atomic war.

Wednesday, Sept 28th
Mary came over to School House and we weeded in the allotment. Smoky the cat came down with us, holding his tail high like a processional banner.

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