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Wednesday, 1 September 2010

1949 November

November. Miss Hunter's temperament. Mary C, Miss Gaunt. "Dear old Barnes". Parents organize. Old boys' dinner. Clem Clifford. Dark Lady.

Tuesday, Nov 1st
A letter from Miss Hunter sending her resignation at the end of term. The end of 15 years of rather uneasy co-operation. In temperament she and I very different and our relationship was punctuated with outbursts of complaint but partir c’est mourir un peu. Wrote what I hope was a tactful and consoling letter.

Thursday, Nov 3rd
With Mary Clayden and Margaret Gaunt to Littlemore modern school for an NUT refresher course of 400 teachers. Greeted by George Ranken, assistant director, with words: ”There is dear old Barnes”. Really felt quite senile.

Friday, Nov 4th
Second day of course. Lecture on Parent Teacher Association given to the whole 400 by miserable looking but intense and serious man from the New Education Foundation. As one H.M. put, the parents used to wait outside the gate, but now they are organized, like everything else. A religious service conducted by the Bp of Dorchester, a small tub fronted man like a pink pig. After this everyone rushed out to tea in the canteen in irreverent and unseemly haste.

Saturday, Nov 5th
A fearful day, wind and driving rain enough to soak any bonfire. Canon Crosse brought up the new curate; large, blue blazer with brass buttons, white bull terrier, unmarried, ex POW in Japan, bit of a pansy, I thought, but we shall see.
Leg very much better, can just reach knees…Very pleased with improvement
in last month.
Good unscripted discussion (on wireless) on the economic state of the nation. 60% of our trade is with dollar area, but this includes vital machinery, cotton, wheat, and tobacco (all smokers seem to consider tobacco a vital import). However in this matter a failure to balance is, as Mr Micawber said, bankruptcy. We have been steadily cutting down our grain imports from the dollar area so now 90% of our food comes from non-dollar sources. We shall not go bankrupt, but it remains to be seen at what level and at what standard of living we can or shall remain solvent.
Reading book by Walter Duranty on Politburo. Duranty first class newspaper correspondent of New York Times. Says quick collapse of capitalism in the East encouraged Politburo to think: If in the East why not the West as well? why not France and Italy. In the winter of 1946-47 the Americans woke up to what was happening and used their most powerful weapons, money and supplies of food and goods. It came late but worked. Unfortunately it divided Europe into two unfriendly camps. Because Russians had gone beyond initial idea of guarding themselves against nazism to establishing by any means communist regimes in most of Europe with themselves as bosses. On that account the American attempt to check the tide seemed an infringement of a freedom of action they had long enjoyed.

Monday, Nov 7th
Went to an excellent film of Whisky Galore, the story of the wreck of a ship carrying whisky on the Outer Hebrides and the effect on the islanders.

Wednesday, Nov 9th
Went to see The Third Man, a very intelligent and exciting film about post war Vienna….. Vienna under four power control is cleverly suggested as a background to the black market in drugs stolen from the British military hospital.
Dorothy Wade down for a night from “rehabilitating” delinquent girls. She had heard a bus conductor suddenly say to some Bible women in his bus : “Well, if my wife told me she was pregnant by the Holy Ghost I wouldn’t believe her.” Sensation among the passengers.

Friday, Nov 11th
Over to Oxford to buy prizes at Blackwells, an annual event. Also nightdress for Mary. Caught 12.35 railway bus to Puesdown Pike. Very cold, rainy and windy. Ruth and Molly spinning so was given a lesson, fascinating occupation. Had bought a fleece for 17/6.

Saturday, Nov 12th
Went in car with Ruth to meet at Andoversford. Molly on her cob and started about 9.30. After meet went to lunch in Winchcombe and visited Mr Tovey. So cold in afternoon that wrapped myself in eiderdown. What a cold house…..

Monday, Nov 14th
Gave Mary her nightdress. Had fire in bedroom, great luxury, usually associated with illness: measles when young.

Saturday, Nov 19th
Composing speech for old boys' dinner. A fierce and muddy match in afternoon. Old Boys XV beaten. Dinner at 7.0. Clem bought me a sherry, which was he only bright spot of the evening. Only 30 turned up so half a table empty. The man who proposed the school could think of nothing else to say than that the school certificate results this year were not so good as last year. Typical Henley.

Sunday, Nov 20th
Up at six o’clock and off to Reading at 7.0 with flask of brandy, duffle coat and gumboots. Penshurst 10.15, then walked across glue-like hop fields to meet Hilary. Both tramp-like, I from muddiness, he from general dishevelment. Attended mass at Parish church, a dozen present, but ground through the whole bag of tricks. Church warm and comfortable. Piloted Hilary through the Prayer Book. Afterwards he asked if it is Protestant why do they say they believe in the Holy Catholic Church. Good question
Basic soup with parents. Met his science teacher, Graham, from Glenalmond, Lois, history, Norman (English) who lent me a book on a highland croft, and the poultry man. Went over to see farm buildings on which the landlord had spent £7,000, and new Jersey heifers. Borrowed torch and made way successfully across fields to station. Home 9.30. Enjoyed trip more than most of mine to Long Dene.

Thursday, Nov 24th
He thought he saw a banker’s clerk
Descending from the bus ;
He looked again and found it was
A hippopotamus.
”If this should stay to dine,” he said,
”There won’t be much for us.”

Things moving very rapidly in Europe. Six months ago still arguing with Russians over united Germany ; now two German states. Military government has disappeared in West. Germany to join assembly and council of Europe. Rationing has disappeared. Perhaps Herr Deutsch will send me a food parcel. Are we going too fast or two slow? The Americans don’t see the risks; the French don’t see the prize we may gain. Appeasement from strength now our weakness later. It won’t make things easier for our export trade when we have Germans working long hours for low wages in competition with us.

Friday, Nov 25th
Mary lent me The Last Attachment by the Marchesa Origo, the story of Byron and Teresa Guccioli – all his love letters to her. Passion passing through various difficulties and attempts to break away on his part to a state of calm affection and almost married happiness touched with boredom. Yet they suited one another. Physical attraction not dependent on looks, when weariness and exasperation have crept in there remained the little jokes and physical intimacy and the pervading sense that whatever else went wrong that remained all right. He said to Lady Blessington that if he and Teresa could be married, they would be “used as an example of conjugal happiness”. Teresa heavily underlined this and in the margin and wrote “God bless him.”

Sunday, Nov 27th
Drove over to Northwood Hospital to see Miss Hunter. Poor woman! She had had her spleen (?) out on Friday and was in great misery with wind and not being able to cough or clear her throat (Don’t remember it in 1939)….Strayed two hours talking to her.

Monday, Nov 28th
Rehearsing Dark lady of the Sonnets, which is going better. Writing speech for Prize Day.

Monday, Nov 30th
Monday evening about four as sun was setting the light reflected back from low cloud a deep yellow, the sky through the trees a violent ultra marine or turquoise, the under-clouds a flaming pink, and over everything an unearthly golden glow. I have never seen it in winter. It lasted about 10 minutes.
To-day full of mistakes. Mary left the rabbit on to cook with the stove switched off at the mains; Nora going to Newbury got in the Maidenhead train at Twyford. I suppose we are getting tired.
 L’anarchisme conservative – anarchism because you grab anything you like the look of and conservative because you then take steps to see that no one grabs it from you. The politics of the Fourth Form to a tee.

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