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Monday, 27 September 2010

1952 June

June. European Defence Community. Iphigenia. John, Annette Griggs. John Masefield. Donald Heath. Regatta crew.

Whit Sunday, June 1st
    This week the treaty establishing the European Defence Community (E.D.C.) was signed by M. Schuman and Dr Adenauer in Bonn - in effect the peace treaty with Germany and the first step towards a federal Europe. The struggle will be now to get them ratified in the respective parliaments, as the Russians are certain, with the help of the Communist parties in both countries, to do all they can to upset the settlements.
Whit Monday
    Hilary rather bored, but not keen to fall in with Nora's attempts to organize him! They went to tea with Eve Weiss in the afternoon, but I excused myself. The little girls are very trying, Roberto and I don't click, and though Eve is a very nice person, I really don't like her; she is too gushy. Hilary amused, quoted Osbert Sitwell's father, "So nice, don't you think, not have any any friends".
Wednesday, June 4th
    A dress rehearsal of Iphigenia, got away with caravan about 3.30 and picked up Mary in Reading; to Goring, found caravans in field almost below railway line, so went along lane parallel to river and pitched in field by ourselves. Tap, but no water, so had to get some from inside cottage. Got jammed inside gate and had to uncouple, swing round and recouple, but proved easier than I thought it would be, though it put me in a fine sweat. Mary dusted caravan and put up curtains, which looked very nice. Then had our first meal in her, potatoes, sausages and peas, followed by two tarts. Felt very buzzy in head and generally lousy. Got back to flat about 10, had cup of tea and then home.
Thursday, June 5th
    Rain promised in evening, but mercifully did not arrive though the sky was overcast and there were low clouds. We got through Iphigenia successfully and there was quite a good audience for the first night. Iphigenia was like a young colt, clad all in black with a bead headdress and necklace and long plaits, the chorus in saffron, lilac, mauve and cream, the men in kilts and tunics. The songs were sweetly chanted. The applied scientists had a fine time letting off two flashes when Athena appeared on the balcony, which surprized the audience very much. The play ran for 1 hour and a quarter continuous playing, which was quite long enough an effort of attention.
 [Iphigenia - Annette Griggs. Orestes - Michal Drown. Pylades - Jack Griffin. Thoas - John Griggs. Herdsman - David Horsley. Messenger - John Freeman. Pallas Athena - Pauline Lord. Leader of Chorus - Molly Beaton]
Friday, June 6th
   Such heavy downpour between 3 and 4 that we decided to postpone the play this evening. Went over to Goring and found the caravan all right but cows, a herd of 50, had been rubbing against it
Saturday, June 7th
    Matinee of play in afternoon with  Staines Reed [Henley doctor] , Mrs Roberts (a most unattractive woman) and several others, followed by Mr and Mrs Griggs [parents of John  and Annette Griggs] to supper. Old John Masefield and Mrs M turned up in afternoon and much anxiety getting them up and down the path. After all this social life I saw the play safely started and at 7.30 slipped away, picked up Mary and off to Goring.
    I had not reckoned either with cows or drop in temperature. The cows arrived just as we had got all our clothes off and were getting into bed. They stood around breathing heavily and relieving themselves and every now and then shaking the van to its chassis by rubbing and heaving. I kept getting out of bed and opened the windows to to shout at them; by this time, through irritation and annoyance, I was in a cold sweat and had nothing to stand on and no slippers. . Every time I opened the window a mighty stench of cow entered. I was in despair! It was near midnight! Even suggested going back to the flat. At this point they knocked down the ritirata [toilet tent]! Mary, bless her, was alarmed at my cold sweat and freezing feet, but remained calm. She maintained, correctly as it turned out, that the cows would presently lose interest and go away.Most of them did.
    We now had to cope with the cold. We had three blankets each, but no sleeping bags or eiderdowns. The temperature dropped steadily. Our noses got colder and colder and our breath condensed. I put on all my underclothes and two sweaters, but my feet still refused to warm up. Mary could not get her stomach warm except by holding a cushion on it. We lay awake for hour after hour. About 2.30 I fell into a doze till about 4.30 when dawn was about to break. What a night, our first in the caravan. I thought after all the planning, contriving, getting away from school, now this freezing June night. Our luck seemed out. However, the cows had gone!
    After breakfast we decided to drive over to Henley and get sleeping bag and eiderdowns. Another night like this was impossible. As we were returning, it started to rain and by afternoon was pouring steadily. After supper we thought we would go home, but now the car refused to start. Mary had to walk to the station to look up the morning trains and got absolutely soaked. The man in permanent caravan at other side of the field, a motor mechanic, advised me to pack the plugs and distributor with dry rag.
Monday, June 9th
    We slept well and warmly in our warmer things and woke up somewhat refreshed. The rain had stopped and we had no cow trouble. To my great relief the car started up immediately. We breakfasted at 7.15 and were in Reading soon after eight and home by 8.30.
Tuesday, June 10th
    A blazing hot day. G.C.E. Advanced started and in the afternoon I had to go to Oxford to sit for two hours in a stuffy smoke-laden room listening to my fellow H. M.s talking rot. At five the Director got to his feet and I was round the door in a flash and off to Reading. Again we had supper in the caravan and slept together. Mary thanked me very sweetly for all I had done.
Wednesday, June 11th
    After supper we had to pack the van and started back about 8.45. It just went through the gate with inches to spare. It went up Drawback Hill in second and got home about ten. As we sat on top of the hill and saw the caravan and car in a field below us I felt so pleased that I had been able to bring my idea off.
Thursday, June 19th
      Bitterly cold weather for June. I should think so far one of the coldest Junes on record. What a climate! Always hoping, always disappointed.
Friday, June 20th
    Donald Heath rang up in a frightful state. He had been failed on his clinical obstetrics and put it down to a feud between the professor and the examiner. Asked him to supper tomorrow.
Saturday, June 21st
    Donald up to supper. Over a glass of sherry he opened up his heart. He had had a breakdown in the spring and was in the hands of a psychiatrist from Leeds. He was going north again, but to be analyzed, not to continue course. His mother and I were the only people knew this and even Nora not to be let into the secret. He has been suffering from fearful fits of depression, but they got him through his exam (s) with drugs, which had certainly made him more talkative than I have ever known him. He told me a bit about his experiences at the grammar school, especially with Mr Clifford, and described how on his first appearance at junior assembly I had called him "a fat creature".
    Poor Donald! I am afraid he has had a bad time, but better now than in middle age, and he will come through all right I am sure. I feel much in loco parentis, and so he regards me. 
Sunday, June 22nd
    Up to London, met Hilary at Victoria. Lunch in St James's Park and then to see the Ravenna mosaics, copies from St Vitale, Galle Placida, St Apololo Nuovo and in Classe. They sparkled and glowed. As I don't suppose I shall ever see them again after Easter 1922, it was a great opportunity. Also here you saw them at eye level and could examine them in detail and see their wonderful texture and their quality of reflecting in different degrees the light that fell on them, so that they seemed to shimmer and glow in radiancy
Tuesday, June 24th
    A  sixth and fifth form conference on the church and the world's needs. Went very well, though difficult to arrange because of examinations. The first speaker a rather odd man [A. B. Walker] from Bryanston School and Cambridge who taught maths in Uganda.  The second a very nice doctor, about 55, from South India [A. G. Cutting], really rather a pet, and the third a Quaker who had done relief work in the Far East, interned in China and now running a wheelwright and stretcher making business in Ashford, Kent. The Quakers are an elite, I have come to the conclusion. Becoming quite a dab at conferences now and all went very smoothly and to time. About 80 boys and girls altogether.
Wednesday, June 25th
    New parents to be seen, not an inspiring lot. The crew arrived today, 11 of  them, including one American from Harvard. Four in tents, five in house, including one on the floor. The eight made up of Queen's and St Peter's Hall, so called Isis B.C.
Tuesday, June 26th
    Keble Association Dinner. This year college gained full status and a larger number than usual present. The Bishop of Exeter there in full purple with buckled shoes and knee breeches, frogged frockcoat etc. Only two speeches, but Warden's somewhat hard to hear owing to Bursar who got drunk on champagne and shouted remarks and pointed excitedly. This led the Warden to address his remarks elsewhere and some were lost.
Saturday, June 28th
    Mr and Mrs Barley, a nice pair, from Bristol, who have been in caravan for a week, left. Succeeded by a stout bald little man from Sunderland and his fat wife. No manners at all, a motor trade man. Hope Mrs does not prove too much for the springs! Both shrunk in horror from idea of an open fire. A north country know-all. No civilization outside of Wessex!
    The Queen has gone to Edinburgh where she is guarded by her Royal Company of Archers. Gentlemen newly appointed receive a questionnaire: Have you a bow and arrow of your own?
Sunday, June 29th
    Rather pleased to find the know-all had got his car stuck yesterday, though advised him not to try to turn his car round at the caravan. Another day of great heat.
Monday, June 30th
    Another sweltering day of fierce sunshine and little breeze. The men in the tents are doing better than those in the house. Began making the time table, involving long consultations with the staff. Norman and Eric came across at tea time to receive their wedding present, but I had forgotten all about this and it was rather difficult to conceal. Norman and Eric having a civil marriage in Henley and a religious ceremony in Lincoln College Chapel.

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