October. Oil men leave Iran. "Tempest" at Stratford. Leighton Park. WEA short of members. Headmaster votes Conservative. Tories win election. When Hugh Dalton met Queen Victoria.
Wednesday, Oct 5th
Invited by Keble to discuss fund for centenary in 1970. The college gave us an excellent dinner, asparagus soup, chicken, ice pudding, mushroom tartlets. Coney said it would be a first charge on the endowment fund! Casting own bread on waters. Sherry, white Bordeaux, and Port (for which bursar apologized – another charge on fund). Lists up in J.C.R. and you had to write down those you would be prepared to send the appeal with a personal recommendation. Several dead men on the list! Aim to get £20,000 by 1970.
This week the oil men cleared out of Persia. Doubtful if any government in G.B. prepared to use force, but great lack of understanding of Persians shown by F.O. and oil company. Loss of prestige and nothing to show for it. Likely with other source opening up in Arabia, etc, supply position not much affected (so they say).
Saturday, Oct 6th
Election in three weeks. Polls give Conservatives 160 majority. We shall see.
Americans now say they have found out how to use atomic explosions tactically instead of for strategic bombing of cities and this will make aggression less likely. The Russians have let off more atomic bombs.
Wednesday, Oct 9th
Governors’ meeting. Mr Macarthy, of Balliol, established the fact that separate school had never been discussed and got a letter from the Director promising that before any steps were taken the governors would be consulted and their views obtained. After the meeting Tom Luker enquired who could have put him up to that? The Director’s letter mentioned that the ministry were not happy about the secondary education plan for Henley. I don’t wonder.
The late chairman emerged, though he almost had to be carried in and out, and old Turton Green was a walking skeleton too.
Thursday, Oct 11th
Went over to see the H.M. of Leighton Park about possibility of taking Hilary next year. He seemed willing to entertain the idea, but fees per annum £270 and he would only take him as a border. A young man who came over to see Comus in the garden a few years ago. A nice school in a small park with good buildings. He said he would want to interview Hilary after Christmas. Wondered if he would find the monastic life difficult after Long Dene, where, incidentally, one of his old boys is working in the garden as a conscientious objector.
[John Ounsted was Leighton Park H.M. at this time]
Saturday, Oct 13th
Over to Stratford to see The Tempest. Much enjoyed it, but the drive back very long and tedious. The production emphasised all the magical and supernatural elements. Prospero-Shakespeare’s farewell to the theatre emphasised – a powerful magician, not a brown clad recluse as in the production Mary and I saw with George Hays. Ariel [played by Margaret Leighton] green, whereas Rachel Kempson in gold paint in 1932!
Sunday, Oct 14th
To Long Dene. Hilary said he read to his dormitory (Sherlock Holmes), found it saved trouble in the end!
Monday, Oct 15th
W.E.A. class, not rewarding. Had a good lecturer in economic history but only enrolled a minimum, 15. To make up number will have to count in a semi-paralyzed old man and several old ladies who made no secret of the fact that they do not intend to put pen to paper. What a waste of energy!
Wednesday, Oct 17th
Very little interest being shown in the election, which only a week away. The Radio Doctor spoke last night, an arrant knave if ever there was one, the lowest type of election speech. Much directed art Bevan, “the Tito of Tonypandy”, “determined to be prime minister”, “the end is Nye”, “When Attlee takes the ermine and leaves, Bevan to deal with the vermin” etc etc. Television is being used for the first time, but they say it reaches so few electors that it is a dead loss.
Thursday, Oct 18th
Went to very amusing short English film about a clerk at the Bank of England who stole the bars of gold and melted them down into models of the Eiffel Tower, called The Lavender Hill Mob. A sheer fantasy.
Sunday, Oct 21st
Observer thinks apparently Egyptians might attack the Canal; military corespondent does not. No use trying to negotiate an agreement with those who don’t want it, better to make the Canal an international zone like Panama. Egypt wants control of something that is vital to the continuance of Commonwealth and as long as that is the case we cannot abandon to Egypt.
Thursday, Oct 25th
Today polling day. Voted in the morning and hardly anyone there. A great absence of cars for fetching voters, for now, unlike in the old days, they are limited. No torchlight processions or burning boats in then Market Place, says Len Hayes, and only stewards at meetings wear rosettes. Went down to hear Labour candidate, Mr Constantine Gallop, on Tuesday, but could not get in, so heard him hollering from the passage outside. I remembered him as an undergraduate at Balliol in 1920, but he had lost all his hair.
Decided to vote Conservative for the first time in my life! and did! Main reason I think we should have a united party with a workable majority to tackle the economic crisis and handle foreign affairs. Labour not united, has shot its bolt on social reform and has handled foreign affairs badly lately. Has no real programme to put before the country. Both parties have kept the cupboard shut on skeleton of debt and inflation, which rattles ominously inside, but of the two the Conservatives have shown themselves more aware of its existence. An attempt has been made to fasten the label “warmonger” on Churchill, which is grossly unfair and below the belt. “It I remain in public life..... it is because I believe, rightly or wrongly, but sincerely, that I may be able to make an important contribution to the prevention of a third world war…. I pray indeed that I may have this opportunity. It is the last prize I seek to win.”
Mary was at the B’s last week listening to the Radio Doctor. He began by saying that he was “rather like a chap who meets an old flame, the one he did not marry”. This distinctly awkward for all concerned as he did propose to marry M when his wife died, but in fact married a rich widow, who was present at the broadcast. Everyone gazed at the fire and avoided looking at the others. Colonel B sufficiently recovered later in the evening, however, to smack her behind.
Friday, Oct 26th
By afternoon clear Conservatives would have a small majority, counting in Liberals, in the 20s. At five Attlee resigned and Churchill visited King.
Sunday, Oct 29th
Hilary Wray down, much distressed to hear we had voted Tory. Dalton [Hugh Dalton, minister in Labour government] brought up at Windsor where his father a canon. Queen Victoria met him in the park. He said, “Go away, Queen, I am eating grapes”. Queen rather non-plussed, could only remark, “That child has a very loud voice”.