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Monday, 13 September 2010

1950 October

October. Wally Rees. Pamela Makins. Eric C. Rule for insults. Finnicky Wilk. Chinese and cheating. Family at Hatford.

Sunday, Oct 1st
Showery and cold after a muggy day yesterday. Went for a drive on the Berkshire Downs to Ramsbury and Aldbourne. Then Lambourne and north towards Wayland Smith’s cave. We found a sheltered valley with the woods of Ashdown Park on our left, made a fire by the side of the road and heated some soup.
Next to Sparsholt, good 14th century stonework in the nave….. Through Wantage, stopped and went into Lockinge church, where Mary remembered an 18th century epitaph on a wife who was “sensible and polite.”

Wednesday, Oct 4th
Governors’ meeting. Some difficulty afterwards as Turton Green, now rather doddery, and old Denham with his one eye, set out to see a rugger match. I persuaded them not to go down, but they went into the rough, full of ant hills and other entanglements, at the top and finally tried to get back by crawling up the bank on which the house stands – very awkward, very awkward!

Friday, Oct 6
My last visit to Roel Hill Farm

Saturday, Oct 7th
Went to the pottery and bought a teapot for Nora and a hanging flower holder for Mary. Saw the master potter, a young beaver with four sons. In the afternoon drove over to Stow – memories of November, 1931, when Con and I stayed at the Talbot – 19 years ago, how life flies, memories fade and experience grows dim and blunted by sluttish time – the ardours of youth recede and nothing can be done about it.

Sunday, Oct 8th
A cold windy day with heavy showers. Molly seemed tired and depressed and Ruth more trying than usual. Molly quite certain Hilary will never make a farmer; am rather inclined to think Nora has “suggested” him into it and he may do something quite different. Came back with four pullets and a sack of wheat.

Tuesday, Oct 10th
A curious man, Wally Rees, games master, has adopted rugger as a religion and quite incapable of seeing anyone else’s point of view. However met his match in Nerine van der Spry[?] our new S. African games mistress.

Friday, Oct 13th
Timothy rang up to say she had adopted a baby. It was a boy a week old and coming to her flat in a few days.

Saturday, Oct 14th
Went to watch 1st XV rugger match, thus acquiring merit, but will have to last a very long time.

Tuesday, Oct 17th
A poor day much troubled by visitors, complaints about difficult children etc. However, read Kenneth Walker’s book A Doctor Digresses, and felt better!
Last Monday evening we went over to Oxford to see the opening night of the new production of Twelfth Night before it goes to the Old Vic, which has been reconditioned after the bombing. It was excellent, charming Italian sets with dances. Clowns very good indeed and a petite Peggy Ashcroft as Viola. The Malvolio scenes grated a bit on modern sensibilities. Two coach loads of children. Why is it that buses seem to bring out the worst tendencies in the young? To shout, whistle, sing, laugh in a raucous manner and generally behave in a loud and vulgar fashion. I think it must be a parental tradition, but it is very unnecessary. One youth failed to remove his cap in the theatre until told to.

Saturday, Oct 21st
Yesterday received a copy of Bylaw on Insulting Behaviour on School Premises, apparently none in Henley before this and approved by J. Chuter Ede, one of His Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State; to come into force on Nov 1. Read it to the Sixth with appropriate comments and not to let their parents know they had another week to go! Governors and teachers excluded from provisions! Asked by staff what happens about teachers who are also parents. “I conceive that you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety.”
On Thursday went over to coffee with Eric Cunnington. She was finishing a female torso from the cedar to go with a male torso already carved. She said it was not quite right, but she had not had a model and it was very awkward when carving to look over one’s shoulder at one’s own backside in the mirror all the time! So had asked Pamela Makins to stand in the raw.
Stafford Cripps, who has burnt himself out, has resigned as chancellor of the exchequer and is to retire from public life for a time. A man of great integrity and high sense of duty, but austere.

Sunday, Oct 22nd
The day dragged on as everything an hour later with the end of summer time. Cleaned hen house and de-flea'd – an Augean task – then packed honey and sawed wood.
French opposition to the rearming of Western Germany has been overborne by the American assurances that force would be part of a European army with a European general staff. The Americans think it absurd to defend Western Germany without the Germans.
Undergraduates who climb the Martyrs’ Memorial will now be sent down in addition to risking death or disablement. It is suggested a better way to stop the practice would be to place a ladder against the memorial at sundown. The achievement in getting to the top would not then be so great!
Monday, Oct 23rd
A very pleasant young lecturer this morning from the army with a film on Men in Armour. Very ungenerously it showed Sherman tanks without ever mentioning that they were given us by the Americans to beat Rommel at Alamein. Wrote to the War Office to point this out!
Showed Wilk how to work the film projector, but lord how finicky, particular and meticulous these scientists are. Said so when I got home to Nora, surrounded by the mess and disorder of her scullery. Yes, she said, she had never had a scientific training, but she had always been told to “put up with things”. The drains might smell, that was bad, but you must put up with it and think of the people who in Africa who had no drains at all! The roof might leak, but you must be glad, unlike so many others, you had a roof over your head at all! And so on and so forth.
Another Fuchs case, but this time he has got away. A Professor Pontecorvo, an Italian born British subject with a Swedish wife, who was working at Harwell, has levanted. He went to Italy for a holiday, flew to Stockholm, then to Helsinki, where he and his family just disappeared.

Thursday, Oct 26th
A missionary from China, Fukien province, to-day. A nice little Scots woman, who interested the Sixth form by describing how all the sixth forms in the high schools were sent out to the villages to act as headmasters. She described too how the non-Christian teachers and pupils did not consider cheating immoral and how hard this was on the Christians.
The new chamber of the House of Commons opened to-day so got 25 copies of The Times’ supplement to use in class teaching.
Received a very interesting booklet describing the recent history of the college (Keble); said to Nora what a pity Hilary not baptized, then he might go there [By 1957 baptism not required, so did]
South Korean troops have reached the Manchurian border on the Yalu river, but the non-Korean forces have been held back. Suddenly realized it was United Nations Week, so put on special hymns and lesson from Isiah, the lion and the lamb shall lie down together – Mr Malik and our Mr Gladwyn Jebb shall lie down together, speriamo.

Friday, Oct 27th
Half term. Went down to the town and bought two wool vests and a utility shirt, the whole costing £3-16-0! Then went down to the field and chatted to Len, who was burning grass heaps and had cut the rough verges. In the afternoon I planted wallflowers and cleared the tomatoes and beans off the allotment. It was a quiet but enjoyable day.
Had two electricity cuts, the second after dark. I was unable to find any candles so sat in the firelight and waited for it to come on again, which I did in half an hour.

Saturday, Oct 28th
Picked up Mary….. To the Bull at Fairford. On the way we passed Challow Station where Mother used to drive in her sealskin hat. We decided to drive through Stanford in the Vale to Hatford. We went into the church and found a woman sweeping it out. “My grandfather,” I said, “was rector here once.” Oh, yes, she remembered Mr Atkins with his long white beard and his son Mr Sam. My grandfather’s tomb, by the south wall of the chancel, had sunk on one side and the lead lettering was beginning to go. A loud bawl in Berkshire dialect from across the road informed us: “Been like that for some two years, it has.” We went across to an elderly man working in his garden, the sexton, and engaged in further talk about such local worthies as Dr Lockwood, with whom my uncle went fishing. The Rectory had been sold to a Faringdon ironmonger and the living joined with that of Stanford and Goosey. The village can never have been more than a farm with a few cottages and now seems doomed to extinction. The school has been closed and two cottages destroyed by bombs in the war have not been repaired. However the churchyard was tidy and well kept and the grass in front of the manor farm neatly cut.
Grandfather, born in 1815, died at Hatford in 1897 where he had been rector for 20 years. Mother lived there from a child of 13 to a young woman of 33, when she went to live with her elder brother, my Uncle Sam, the Rector of Shillingford, and two years later married my father. I have often heard her describe how they went following the hounds on foot in winter and drove the dog cart to Faringdon or to meet the trains at Challow, bringing visitors from London. It must have been a very serene and pleasant, though very isolated life, for a woman.
[The church at Hatford was de-consecrated and when visited in the late 1980s had become a private residence]

Sunday, Oct 29th
I wondered if the church [at Fairford] would be locked between services, as once you were charged admission by a verger, but full employment has removed the verger and I wandered round until the childrens’ service began at 10 o’clock. We packed and drove off to Bibury and walked in the Swan garden, then to the villages beyond, all very tidy with their wealthy manor houses seemingly untouched by taxation, to Fosse Bridge and the Chedworth Roman villa. The museum had been cleaned and much rubbish removed. After lunch Mary started a discussion on teachers’ holidays, but ended becoming cross and telling a long story about the difficulties with a library subscriber.

Monday, Oct 30
Lay in bed till noon reading Cronin’s latest book, The Spanish Gardener, very painful, and finished a book by C.I.D. Superintendent Fabian all about his adventures in London’s underworld – Fabian of the Yard.

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