March. Pro-Russian Mr Browne. Tailor's tale. Channel no longer the front line. Michael Droun and Alpe in Henry VI; Eric C's triumph. Jimmie McBurnie.
Friday, March 2nd
Last night went to supper with the Brownes at Assenden. A good meal, but house fearfully chilly and got a cold and to end the evening fell into the ditch outside the garden fence. Pa Browne pro Russian and thinks they are reacting to bad treatment by the West and has high hopes (why?) of settlement and disarming after the foreign ministers’ meeting.
Mary gave me Memoirs of Chrystianne de Chaton, an Edwardian demi mondaine. In my house conversation was free but in good taste. Mentioning one day that I provided two kinds of papier hygiénique, my friend Prince Pianonobile said, "I too – The Times and Le Figaro”
Sunday, March 4th
Reading Ivor Brown’s Shakespeare, a fascinating work, I think. Count up and find I have seen 25 of Shakespeare’s plays. Came to conclusion that Claudio’s speech on death in Measure for Measure must have echoes of Dante. Ivor Brown does not seem to have thought of this, so wrote to him.
Monday, March 5th
Went to Reading with Irish tweed. The tailor agreed to make up a jacket for me. Told me how the price of cloth was rocketing and the wholesalers were putting the price of their stocks up every few weeks. A non-utility blue serge suit now costs £35 and a pair of cloth trousers £17! One customer having said he could not afford it came back because a London tailor proposed charging him £60. Inflation has started all right ! The jacket will take about three months.
Ivor Brown replied very promptly and rather illegibly to say he was doubtful.
Decided to have the grandfather clock thoroughly overhauled, both what they call the going train and the striking chain, and the face re-silvered, in all £9=50=0
Sunday, March 11th
Some readers of The Observer very angry as said Navy no longer first line of defence. Points out today that main object is to keep Russians away from Atlantic coast by defending Elbe, for under modern conditions with guided missiles occupation of Channel could make island uninhabitable.
At any rate Ernie Bevin did rumble the Russians in 1945 – 46 and dug in his toes on Trieste in September and Persia in December. Public opinion had not caught up with the facts, but he did not hesitate. It was an act of courage. [Bevin resigned as foreign secretary on March 10th, 1951]
Wednesday March 14th
Dress rehearsal of Henry IV i, went very well.
Thursday, March 15th
Henry IV was excellent. Michael [?] Droun as Prince Henry has immensely improved since two years ago he played Sir Lucius Trigger. Alpe as Hotspur spoke his lines well, though he had not the physique for the part. He spoke the great speeches in Act I, iii with spirit and understanding.
Friday, March 16th
Mr and Mrs Brown came to supper and play. Afterwards old Brown said I bore a heavy responsibility for the fighting – and began to think so as on Saturday matinee Hotspur’s sword cut in the edge of the Prince’s shield and became wedged and at night the hilt jammed in the hole made in the afternoon! However no other damage to life, person or property.
Saturday, March 17th
Nearly all children at matinee, how they coughed. A good audience at night, responsive. The audience on Friday dead at first. On Thursday sat in the front and the actors said they could hear me leading the laughter and applause. This was necessary !
Tuesday, March 20th
End of term. Clem Clifford very disgusted as natives had put treacle on the door handle of his room, but otherwise quiet as lambs .
Spent Sunday afternoon helping Eric Cunnington pack the formidable amount of costumes, swords and pikes, helmets etc. Altogether on taking of £45 were about £5 down. But that does not matter. We set our aim high, tackled something big, and brought it off thanks to Eric’s enthusiasm.
Thursday, March 22nd
Picked up Mary and drove to Bear at Hungerford.
Good Friday, March 23rd
Dull and windy. Drove to Inkpen. Began to drizzle, but before rain came down in buckets just got fire going and heated soup. Had tea at Marlborough. Dined and slept in very pleasant bedroom at The Bacon Arms, Newbury
Saturday, March 24th
Reached Reading at 9.5, dropped Mary at Heelas and home before 10. Heard Oxford had sunk near start of boat race and umpire stopped Cambridge a little later.
A sunny morning with white and grey clouds and strong cold west wind. Signs of spring, however, with celandine, a few primroses, the chestnut buds, and the bees bustling in with light-coloured pollen from the box.
Easter Monday, March 25th
I got up at 8.30 and took Nora’s breakfast up to her in bed. That kept her quiet for a bit, but she cannot rest and by evening she had burnt herself out, cooking, writing, dressmaking, walking out dog, spring cleaning etc etc. I know few people more restless or more disorderly. The work she does with one hand she makes for herself with the other.
Tuesday, March 27th
Went up to London, lunch at National Book League, then Nora wanted to visit Dr Johnson’s house in Gough Square. Up a narrow alley by Cheshire Cheese into a badly blitzed area in which this pleasant 18th century home is standing all by itself among publishers’ offices. The Dictionary itself could be consulted on the table in the hall. I promptly looked up « bugger » which I had once been told he defined as « a word of endearment among sailors » but found it was not included.
Went to tea with Phyllis to see the new baby. He was rather a pathetic little waif with a large turned up nose and a receding chin. Very plaintive and cried, so Phyllis said, after every feed, whereas the other one, John, fat, contented and smiling like a young Henry VIII.
Friday, March 30th
Fed bees. Have lost seven hives, eight left, and some of these weak.
Reading a new life of Wells. Had many irons in the fire, novelist, reformer, scientist, historian, prophet and citizen of the new world order, but had little ability to clothe his ideas in workable institutions or political movements. An irritable and quarrelsome man. Married a cousin, went off with one of his girl students, married her when he had been divorced, found her unsatisfying too, had numerous mistresses and illegitimate as well as legitimate children.