May. Charmian Auclair. Laymen allowed on BBC. Geoffrey Wickens. Sports Day: governors amiable. Nettlebed toughs.
Monday, May 1st
School fotographed [sic]. It took an hour. Did some hard work in the garden in the evening, but am getting very fed up with these summer chores – bees, allotment, garden, leave you with little time in the best part of the year for leisure, strolling and contemplation.
Friday, May 5th
The beaches hanging their tasselled flowers and the first swifts.
Busy at school appointing staff, arranging for a concert, planning survey of Henley with Lower 5a and trying to teach in the intervals.
Reading Fred Hoyle’s B.B.C. talks on the nature of the universe. It seems we shall not all get cold and dead, but the sun will get hotter and hotter and we shall be fried alive. Middles Ages right after all!
Soon perhaps we shall be able to get outside the earth and photograph it. As Fred Hoyle speaks of “the Christians” he has given offence to Devil dodgers. I see however that the Dean of St Paul’s spoke in favour of voluntary euthanasia last week.
Saturday, May 6th
Read another excellent series of broadcast talks by a poet, Alex Comfort, The Pattern of the Future. Most heartening to think that that the theologians have not got it all their own way and that intelligent laymen now get a look in on the B.B.C.
Sunday, May 7
Miss Hunter came back to her flat in Market Place yesterday morning, so Nora and I paid a state visit. She seemed much the same, could only just get to her feet with great effort and hobble on two sticks. Ioan said the only thing left for her was to jump out of the window. Doubt if that possible.
Spent two very mucky afternoons scraping frames and am rather behind with the bees. Not spring cleaned yet. Weather lousy this weekend, damp mist, fog and rain.
Tuesday, May 9th
The weather suddenly improved, so I started spring cleaning of bees. Unfortunately the rests needed renewing and my boy helper got stung on the lip which swelled to an Ethiopian size. The heat was fearful and a bad time was had by all.
Saturday, May 13th
Yesterday interviewed candidates for French and domestic science. Poor field, especially the latter. Decided to have Charmian Auclair for a year. Her husband over from Paris at Reading on British Council scholarship.
Sunday, May 14th
Five years after the surrender of Germany in 1945 very important meetings are being held between the Atlantic powers. The American Sect. of State, Mr Dean Acheson, is over in Europe to confer with Mr Bevin and Mr Schumann. For five years we have tried to find an agreed peace settlement, now we have to start a new chapter knowing that this is impossible, the world may for our life time remain divided. [Unity] can only come by one remove if we are so strong that we cannot be attacked and our way of life so successful that it cannot be undermined. All the years of negotiations with the Russians have been so much waste of time, words and paper. We can free ourselves now in the Atlantic group from the frustrations of the post war years and get on with the constructive work.
Two very important steps taken this week. America to send military aid to French in Indo-China and this will help release the French army for its proper job, the defence of Europe. First time the U.S. intervened in this part of the world – a major change in U.S. policy.
France proposed the merger of the coal and steel industries of herself and western Germany. Thus putting an end to the traditional hostility and “mixing up” of the two countries. What will be our reaction? The German federal government has accepted invitation to join the European assembly at Strasbourg.
Things are moving quickly in the right direction, too. The Russians are having trouble in Czechoslovakia and a purge has taken place. All our cultural links have been broken, but perhaps the Czechs will go the way of Yugoslavia. No, too late, but the Kremlin frightened they may.
Monday, May 15th
To As You Like It (not a play as I like it!) at the local theatre. A foreign producer who had the idea of dressing the pre-Arden part in 18th century dress and the Arden scenes as 19th century romantic – paying Shakespeare the compliment of having pre-dated Rousseau. The exiled Duke Byronic in tailcoat, knee breeches and Wellingtons, Jacques in purple frock coat, wide trousers and eyeglass – only Touchstone, the jester, admirably played by Leslie French, in motley, though at one point he wore a nice line in sheepskin overcoats with a slit up the back. A very enjoyable play, though it had its boring bits and Rosalind shouted while Celia gabbled.
Wednesday, May 17th
Sports Day. Last year too slow. This year started at 1.30 and got it over too soon, by four o’clock. The weather was cloudy and rather cold. One boy fell down in the senior relay, a thing I have not known before, so that finished his house. We had a mixed bag for tea, including Dr Staines Reed and the Vicar of Wargrave with wife and little girl.
Mr Luker, chairman of the governors, gave away the medal and cups. Five governors present, more than usual at that! Never mind! Governors amiable and friendly now, except old Ashford, and not the dog-in-manger, we are the great what-is-its, which they were when I arrived here as a young man of 34. God they were a set of toughs – “most ignorant of what th’re most assured” [Measure for Measure] - a glassy essence indeed.
Post card, almost intelligible, from Phyllis in Yugoslavia. She had interviewed Marshal Tito in person – and was favourably impressed by the great man!
Friday, May 19th
Went over to Mary with vacuum cleaner and salmon and new potatoes, to which added a glass of white wine and some Benedictine.
The hawthorn blossom excellent this year, like great necklaces of white beads entirely covering the bushes and the air heavy with the scent.
Reading Kontiki, the account of how some Norwegians crossed the Pacific from Peru on a balsa wood raft to Polynesia, to show how the civilization of the islands could have come from South America. Will become a classic.
Sunday, May 21st
The day started overcast and misty with thunder, but got very hot and steamy. The bees humming like dynamos, but very bad tempered. Am running them on the let-alone method this year. The boy who was stung gave in his notice. Some girls were interested but too small for lifting, so have no one at present.
Had an amiable note from V. Sackville West’s secretary saying we could use The Land for speaking at a concert. Spent part of Friday trying to find where I could hire deck chairs.
A member of the Salvation Army said to a Most Wicked Sinner: “I was once a drunkard, a thief, assassin. The Divine Grace has made me what I am.” The Wicked Sinner looked at him from head to foot. “Henceforth,” he said, “the Divine Grace, I fancy, will let well alone.”
A thunderstorm developed after tea and wind rose. The humidity brought out the scent from the laburnum, hawthorn and chestnuts and the rain was heavy with them.
Monday May 22nd
A mother turned up this afternoon to say that on Friday evening two of my Nettlebed toughs tried to pull he pants off a third form girl on the common (the were choir boys waiting for practice!). She had got very het up and reported it to the police, whereupon the machinery began to grind round and they may now be brought up in the courts for indecent assault. Wonder if I was right to let the Nettlebed thieves go to the juvenile court for I don’t think they were much impressed.
Saw the delinquents, told them they had no standards and it was time they realized that others had and held strong views on such conduct.
Wednesday, May 24th
A film on science in modern life and another on the sulphonamide drugs. Good on the whole, especially the first. The a governors’ meeting, short and amiable. The new assistant director came, a nice man called Dorrel. Had to show him round school afterwards.
Thursday, May 25th
Lower 5a out investigating schools. Geoffrey Wickens in to see me. Another one like Mills who has come unstuck while at university and like Mills is thinking of teaching at Cyril’s.
Talked to Wilk. Apparently Miss Hunter does not know of the liaison between her and Ioan; however I told her they had had a good run for their money (thinking of my own difficulties).
Friday May 26th
Whitsun holiday. Went over to lunch with Mary, for which I took some salmon; went out in afternoon and bought some chops for supper and had a haircut. They put on such a stinking hair oil that before she would go to bed with me insisted on my washing it off.
Saturday, May 27th
Last night the end of petrol rationing was announced. Can hardly believe you can buy as much as you can pay for! The last time I had the tank filled up was at Worthing in 1940 when I went to see Con, who had been evacuated there. I can remember very clearly the petrol spilling as the man topped it right up. I certainly did not think it would be 10 years before I could say “Fill her up” again.
Nora and I celebrated a) by going over to see Aunt at Watford by car and b) calling in at Bisham church to see the Hoby tombs, a very fine Elizabethan set which I had long contemplated visiting but never got to.
Aunt was rather deafer but seemed to have made a good recovery from her last attack, though Rusby seemed to think the next might carry her off. She had discovered her Lithuanian women lodger and female friend sunning themselves in the kitchen with only something there and there (shorts and brassieress) - “Disgusting!”. Aunt 91, Rusby 83.
Aunt remembered how my grandmother saw Queen Victoria at the Great Exhibition of 1851; my maternal grandmother then came over from Ireland and stayed in London, but there were bugs in the hotel bed.
Coming back we went into a fine modern church at St Francis Terriers, above High Wycombe. A very cold dull and windy day
Whit Sunday, May 28th
Ten years ago to-day I began to keep a diary and rather to my surprize I have managed to continue it. Sometimes when I read it I think it is damned dull, but I do not write easily and am dogged by the vice of repeating words and phrases all the time. When I started we were moving towards invasion and defeat and as I write to-day we are still living in the shadow of war.
We went down to see Hilary. We met him in the hop fields, or at least Nora did, for I had taken the advice of the countess to Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1919, “Lose no opportunity of relieving yourself.” His voice had become very deep and gruff. To-day was fine but windy. We had our lunch in the woods and tea at the Castle Inn. As usual Nora much more satisfied with the school when she saw it. No science being taught, except by visiting teacher, but same difficulty everywhere. Local authorities sending some “queers”, but as Pat Job said, normals must be in majority, which he put at 4 to 1. The parents who pay fees provide schools, which the state then uses, but the parents get no reduction in tax!
Edward VIII's autobiography appears in instalments in Sunday Express. He seems to have a nice sense of humour and tells some good stories about his life as Prince of Wales and the things that went wrong on his Empire tours – how the veterans of Canada removed him from his house, which disappeared in the crowd; how he was received with catcalls when he got the names wrong of the townships at which his train had stopped and so on.
Hilary, said his history mistress, will always be sensitive to the finer things of life - Speriamo. He had written quite a good article on the birds of Dartmoor, which showed that the Moor had made more impression on him than we thought.