February. School lunches. Quips by Beecham. "No annihilation without representation". Governors and mixed school. Masaryk on humanity. Miss Barford. Donegal tweed. Henry V at Old Vic with school.Shakespeare and the beef ration.
Thursday, Feb 1st
Heard Tuesday that Joan’s baby had arrived, a boy, very punctually and quickly. Heard from Phyllis saying she was a little disappointed, but would feel very rich with two boys and signed herself ”mother of two”.
Food at school lunches has become very poor. Had a shepherd’s pie on Tuesday that was all potato and onion and no shepherd – an 8d ration of gristle. And a coal shortage. Industry is being cut again to fulfil the needs of the electricity stations as a quarter more electricity is being used than this time last year. Motors are being cut for the home market and trains reduced.
Friday, Feb 2nd
China has been named an aggressor in Korea and two committees set up, one to explore possibilities of a ceasefire and one to consider what sanctions might be imposed. Eisenhower has returned to Washington to report on Europe’s defences and has taken line that what Europe needs first is arms and secondly men from U.S. in proportion to the forces they [the Europeans] raise themselves.
Saturday, Feb 3rd
When Sir Thomas Beecham heard someone referring to Sir Malcolm [Sir Malcolm Sargent, 1895 – 1967, leading English conductor] reportedly he finally said, ”I knew he had been doctored but I didn’t know he’d been knighted.” At a rehearsal a little man was late, but endeavoured to slink into his place unnoticed. Sir Thomas stopped the orchestra, « And what might our name be ? » he enquired. « Ball », reported the man . « How very singular, » said Sir T.
Sunday, Feb 4th
Papers as usual full of gloom. Article on new hydrogen bomb which if let off would destroy most of London. Meanwhile communists have stirred up a another dockers’ strike in the north west, apparently planned to coincide with the rearmament debate this week. Even if we avoid war next summer, the tension may last for years. One wit has invented the slogan for Anglo-American relations: No annihilation without representation.
Wednesday, Feb 7th
A governors’ meeting; the mixed school at last came up on the Report of the Development Plan, but this time I had a party, including the Balliol representative, MacCarthy, Mr Cook and three others ; this shook the chairman so much that he tried to stop the discussion. However a resolution was passed that no steps should be taken without the governors being consulted.
Half term. Celebrated by having breakfast in bed about 10 o’clock. Had lunch at The Angel, where I had guinea fowl and an excellent apple charlotte. After lunch had cup of tea with Wilk.
A good statement of British aims in The Spectator. We can only defend ourselves on the continent of Europe; G.B. has no territorial ambitions; Britain nowhere threatens China; no one in western Europe contemplates or has any reason to contemplate an attack on the East – the only concern is for survival .
Saturday, Feb 10th
Went up to London but took some time because trains cancelled to save coal. To see exhibition of French Painting, l’Ecole de Paris, at Burlington House. To tea with Phyllis to see new baby; second one to be fetched from Hemel Hamstead Hospital tomorrow. Helped bath him – very large eyes.
Sunday, Feb 11th
To Long Dene with Nora. Had a brush with Karis [John and Karis Guiness founded the school], who said Hilary was rude, but the school (if you please) could do nothing against the home ! John ill and not visible. Hilary had exhibited in the hall two excellent pieces of work, one a rude poem in which glass rhymed with arse, and a very lively and imaginative account of the artist as I saw him.
Birthday – 51. Aunt remembered at 91 to send me £1 ! Went over to Mary for supper. However she was all against my acting as godparent to second baby and we had a futile argument about it. In the end she made such a fuss that I (weakly) gave in.
Wednesday, Feb 14th
Went over to Mary with coal in a sack. Her face fell when she saw me coming up the stairs, but in spite of some doubts made an excellent fire which lasted from 3.30 to 10.30 and looked very friendly and cheerful. After supper, an excellent bacon dish, read some more of South Riding.
Tuesday, Feb 15th
Humanity does not consist in sentimental yearning for the zeal of the whole world. It must not be a mere word on paper, but a deed and a constant doing. How can I imagine mankind ? I see a poor child I can help. The child is mankind to me. Men have their roots in eternity, but on earth the surest tie between them is their inborn love of their fellow men. And justice is the arithmetic of love. Thomas Masaryk.
The mystery of the flying saucers has been resolved. They are plastic balloons 100 ft in diameter sent up as much as 19 miles to find out more about cosmic rays. From below, the bottom of the balloon looks like a saucer. They were first used in 1947 and at the time were secret.
Yesterday a fearful disaster befell Nora. She put my old oil stove in her bedroom went she went singing because it was so cold. It was turned up too high and it smoked. When she came back the room was full of black, oily fog and the ceiling and walls were black. Even the dresses in the wardrobe were soiled for the door was slightly open. This disaster cast gloom over the house for several days.
Sunday, Feb 18th
Sent M a postcard of Gabrille d’Estes and girl friend in same bath with a suitable note in French.
Tuesday, Feb 20th
Brought Mary home, dinner at Angel, only people there. Had a look round school, library, art room; etc. Fire in bedroom and a nice warm bathroom and bath a deux. M a charming picture clad in yellow silk turban and her rosy cheeks, dark laughing eyes, black lashes and brows.
Wednesday, Feb 21st
Parents visit. About 40 came, tour of school, tea, address (by me).
Friday, Feb 23rd
Wind very cold and generally rheumatic. Nora came home very tired, but had to go down to Marjorie Wilkinson on an SOS because something had come up about Ioan (He had written to tell her she was too old to satisfy him physically).
Debate in House of Lords on defence. Lord Ismay, Churchill’s chief of staff, said the defence programme is sufficiently large to persuade Russia that we should be a formidable enemy. When Nora went in to buy fish in Oxford this a. m. the fishmonger, old and gloomy, said, « …. And then I am told we have given away our navy to the Americans”! This because apparently the allied commander Atlantic is to be an American.
Not so much fun for the British public since the Sidney Stanley and the Board of Trade as provided by the Fitzwilliam marriage case. Were the parents of Toby Fitzwilliam married in Scotland in 1886 by Scots law or not until after his birth in St George’s, Hanover Square, in 1888? Expensive amusement however - £5 a minute or about £490,000 in all. Estate worth half to £1 million
Monday, Feb 26th
Put 12 day -old cockerels under a broody. My tweed arrived from Donegal – brown and grey – but had to pay £2–15–0 customs dues on £4 – 8 worth of goods
Miss Barford, H.M. of new technical girls school, to tea. Was great hurdler and had a rather funny shaped figure, very long legs and short body, a rather ravaged face, but quite agreeable.
Some time ago a daily woman reported « unusuals » in the dirty linen basket. Today found an « unusual » in the form of a sock from a shoe in the bread bin ! Life with Nora !
Wednesday, Feb 28th
Today took 50 children in two coaches up to see Henry V at Old Vic. We were 15 minutes late starting and arrived at the theatre just as the curtain was going up. Rather worrying. Coming back there were fog patches, but we got out of them and near Taplow where we were overtaken by an army ambulance. At Taplow railway bridge we came to a standstill. The ambulance had crashed into the bridge, the driver was dead and the other man injured. The chassis lay on one side of the road and the top on the other. The coach drivers disappeared in the murk. The children chattered and lowered the windows, but I would not let them get out. After what seemed a very long time, but I suppose was about 20 minutes, the drivers came back, managed to turn the two coaches, drove them up to Taplow Station and down the other side of the arch, but by that time there was a traffic queue miles long. We got home to Henley about 12.15.
Henry V a fine production. Alec Clunes as the King had a lovely voice beautifully controlled and always with ample reserves you felt.
Give them great meals of beef….. they will eat like wolves and fight like devils. Ay, but these English are shrewdly out of beef was greeted with loud and prolonged applause and laughter. How surprized Shakespeare would have been to hear it.