January. M. Hulot. Terence Rattigan. Schwarzkopf. Comet crashes. R. Burton in Hamlet. Joyce Burgess, John Griggs. Hi-fi and howling dogs.
Saturday, Jan 2nd
Up to London by 10.20. Down Bond Street and bought tickets for Sunday evening at Festival Hall at Chappells. Sales beginning and streets very crowded. To Paddington to meet Mary at 2.30. Took bags to Clifton Court Hotel, same as last year. Not cold, large and explosive gas fire. Bed improved but pillows still very hard. To see Monsieur Hulots Holiday at the Curzon. Had to queue for 6/6 tickets but eventually got seats. Film took off inmates of French seaside hotel, hardly any dialogue, the misadventures of M. Hulot in Chaplinesque style. We found it very funny, but our mirth considerably increased by a very fat man who sat next to Mary and made extraordinary noises at regular intervals which might have been belching, farting or coughing, but was in fact the latter.
Dinner at Marble Halls then to see Terence Rattigan's new play The Sleeping Prince at the Phoenix. Had good seats on gangway in dress circle but an Indian next me had had a good meal of raw onions. After interval Mary sat next to him without knowing this - more mirth!! Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Martita Hunt in play dealing with royal visitor's relations with American chorus girl at coronation of George V in 1911; witty, amusing and splendid uniforms. Vivien Leigh moved with superb grace, but thin as a rake and hips like boy's. Theatre did not start to 8.30 so did not get to bed to after midnight. Lay together three times, especially marvellous in early morning.
Sunday, Jan 3rd
After a cold breakfast in hotel basement to Westminster Cathedral for high mass. Lovely singing, afterwards watched canons saying office. None of canons looks happy. Against Mary's advice spent to 2/- whizzing up Campanile in lift, cold wind ghastly and no shelter, came down as quickly as possible. Old Vienna for lunch, hot soup essential after Campanile. Flemish Exhibition at Burlington House. Saw Beewick - black cloak, black hat with feather that bobbed. Spoke to her in tea room. Said I was a voice from the past (1933), told her she was as elegant as ever.
At back of highest tier in Festival Hall. Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, a lovely voice, clear and effortless - black velvet dress and black lace shawl, a fine figure! Her whole corsage rose about a foot when she took a deep breath.
Mary wore her brown costume with a brown jersey and white necklace, her fur hat and an orange and white scarf round her throat; with her large dark sparkling eyes, full breasts, black hair and warm colours she looked a most lovely woman.
Monday, Jan 4th
Mary left by 8.55. To National Gallery for sixth form reconnaissance and back to catch Torbay Express 12.0, Exeter 3.3 (2 minutes late). Tea at Dellers. Bow House Hotel, to bed at 9.30, very tired. Mary, also in bed, wrote, "I wish we were in our room again and I could feel your furry legs against mine and your tummy pressed against mine." "With all those millions of people round us I felt we were quite alone in our own world."
Tuesday, Jan 6th
Bitter north wind, too cold to walk far along front. Lunched with Maud and stayed till 6.0. She seems to have made a wonderful recovery.
Wednesday, Jan 6th
Molly bad luck as one cow in calf had to be killed because of disease and other had a bull calf. Maud came to Exmouth and we saw Roman Holiday, enjoyed it.
Thursday, Jan 7th
Walked to Sandy Bay over cliff and back along beach. Watched curlews and oyster catchers through glasses, a lovely day, but bitter wind again. Con wrote to say how glad she was at Christmas to have Allan [?]Artingstoll to share her life with; so am I, dear Con. Home by 3.30. Impressed as usual by disorder of School House.
Saturday, Jan 9th
While I was away Nora had been so see coach Davies, Laing, & Dick and had got everything worked out (at least to her own satisfaction). Thought if Hilary made English and history A level in June, could in a year do responsions Latin and maths by coaching while exempt military service for one year. It would mean he wouldn't finish Oxford before 1959 and I should not be able to save anything much.
Sunday, jan 10th
Reading The Emperor's Clothes by Kathleen Nott on C19. "Women no bodies below neck; men none, except for athletic use of legs, below the waist; and therefore a natural consequence was that bodily enjoyment between man and women out of the question.... Physical sexual relations normally cause intense enjoyment and no person, otherwise ignorant, would learn this fact from the works of our most influential novelists from the early C19th to the present day. I do not suggest that writers ought to dwell on this mere fact. I only say it is strange that none of them know how to imply its immense significance."
Monday, Jan 11th
Term started with its usual rush to teach and clear up details, ending with staff meeting. A Comet airliner jet dived into the sea off Elba on the last leg of its flight from Singapore to London and all passengers and crew killed, including the author Chester Wilmot. This is the fourth Comet crash. Although they have flown 30 000 hours, it will make people more doubtful about jet air travel.
Tuesday, Jan 12th
Hamlet at Old Vic. Ran for 3 1/2 hours. A permanent set which did not like, but duel scene magnificent, have never seen it done better. Was holding breath so much that when Queen cried out "The drink, the drink" I let it out with a great Oh! Richard Burton a young good looking and most attractive Prince. An excellent, amusing and sympathetic Polonius and Queen (Fay Compton, ?70) who dominated the stage when on it.
Saturday, Jan 16th
A party for prefects + John Griggs, Joyce Burgess and one extra sixth form girl. Had looking for small things, guessing noises (too easy), guessing smells from liquids in evaporating dishes (they enjoyed this), "Threes", then supper and ping pong and dancing at school, followed by hide and seek with torches all over darkened building. Back at house we had 20 questions and the drawing game. The party was 6 - 10 but they stayed to nearly eleven. We were 14 altogether with ourselves; Nora thought we should have been more.
Monday, Jan 18th
Hilary went back to school. N and he went over to Reading to open an account for him at Westminster Bank.
Tuesday, Jan 19th
Rang up Hilary to find out if he had passed English language and German [O level]. He had passed English but failed again in German.
Wednesday, Jan 20th
Heard Bosseyed Smith accepted by Oriel to read geography, rather to my surprize.
Decided to take out policy for free cremation with cremation society. City cemeteries like that at Reading fill me with horror. Some village churchyards are delightful, others fallen into neglect full of sagging and displaced stones, cracking table tombs, miserable wastes defaced by "sluttish time".
Saturday, Jan 23rd
Hilary came home to play hockey. Propounded N’s ideas to him. Told him he would have to have to A levels to qualify for L.E.A. grant. Hope he does, but not certain by any means. Then there is the mathematics and Latin hurdle. After that the college entrance. I don’t know if he will make it. He was very silent and made no comment on my suggestion.
Tuesday, Jan 26th
Snow fell in the morning and everything was white. The children snowballed and broke a window of course.
Wednesday, Jan 27th
Hard frost continues. Ice nicely caked on drive and side roads but main road to Reading clear.
Mary’s birthday. Took her a small chicken, a pot of hyacinths, a pink nylon nightdress and a poem – also a bunch of chimonanthus as usual. We drove out to Pangbourne, where the road was rather bumpy from lumps of frozen mud, and walked along the river. The snow was dry and powdery and the sun from time to time cast deep blue shadows on its surface. We wandered along arm in arm very happy. Mary told me how as soon as she was born at Bainton Road the doctor had her wrapped up and put out in a pram in the snow.
Thursday, Jan 28th
My speech training man is a Bible basher. Said he read the Bible every day. So do I, sez I, feeling naughty (at assembly). On Tuesday we switched on early before sixth form religious broadcast and found ourselves listening to an account of the sex life of the star fish, all eggs and sperms. Showed my form some Rubens and christened one, “How to lift 10 ton Annie without use of crane”.
Read of experimental unit trying to teach Indian peasant women birth control by means of beads by which they can calculate safe period. They have a catch by which the push one each day and it can’t go back.
Friday, Jan 29th
Have a history student who follows me round all day – very disturbing as have to do some work! Quite a nice little soul, common, but with a sense of humour. Copied my last poem in and took the book back to Mary. It has now 14 poems; as I said, few girls have a book with all that in!
Saturday, Jan 30th
Chores! Beds, chickens, breakfast things, stove, coal! Really the English are peculiar. Every time they have a cold spell a great howl goes up from the press, “Snow in 22 counties”, “Roads ice bound”, and so on, while the continent sits frozen up anyway!
For two years now have had my hair cut by appointment in a lady’s hairdresser in Bell Street. Now they have closed down and thought I should have to go back to the Austrian, Mr Ernie Dressler, in Heelas in Reading. But to my relief I find Mr Lawson is setting up on his own and in the meantime “will call on his clients”.
Reading 3 vol life of Mr Secretary Walsingham, but what a lot of double crossing sods they were! You always end up in a mass of documents which have been tampered with by the forgers.
Sunday, Jan 31st
A breakfast Nora started up. “What would you do if I took up a whole time job and lived in a flat in London?” “Get a daily woman, I suppose,” I replied. “You won’t do anything.” “What do you expect me to do? Why should I go any further away from Reading than I am now?” “Now there are three frustrated people!” “Well, I have had 14 years of it.” “I am frustrated in my social life. I can’t ask people in freely at weekends. You want to go off with Mary.” “I don’t want to stand in the way of your getting a job if one turns up.” “You are sitting pretty.”
Am I? I didn’t feel I was when early this morning when I woke up and thought why can’t I stay in the flat.
There is a horrible new gramophone like a concrete coffin called Hi Fi which makes all the dogs in the neighbourhood howl as it had an auditory range beyond the human ear. Music the enemy!
February. VIth form rationalists (John Freeman, Tony Harman) and religious (A. Griggs R.Smith and Giles). Feeling ageless at 54. Mr Hirons scares Mr Jowett with atomic war. Personality tested. Hilary plays George Fox.
Monday, Feb 1st
Hairdresser came up and cut hair in the back room. Last time I had it done in 1942 after two months of sciatica. Charged 3/6 and gave me a shampoo with own towels and water.
Story of man when filling in form, Name, Age, Sex. When he came to the latter, paused and then filled in “Occasionally”.
Wednesday, Feb 3rd
[At foreign ministers’ conference] Molotoff stalling steadily. Just ignores all arguments and questions and goes on with his set speeches. Will accept no statements that E.D.C. is not directed against Russia, or that a new German government will be free to accept or reject it.
Reading history of Kingston Lacey. Wm Bankes, C19 collector, was homosexual. When run in for a second time he broke his bail and went abroad, but had the right to visit his house between sunset and sunrise on Sundays, a medieval provision for hearing mass, so he was accustomed to come to the Dorset coast in his yacht on the sabbath and pay a visit to King’s Lacey, which he had handed over to his brother.
Thursday, Feb 4th
A rather dull day and still freezing hard although warmer than had been promised.
Today Molotoff rejected the western plan for Germany. He won’t have elections first and provisional government later. He wants the West to withdraw beyond the Rhine and the Germans to manage elections when the new government has been formed between east and west Germans. This looks like the end of discussions on reuniting Germany. What are the chances for Austria? Nil too?
Friday, Feb 5th
Still very cold. Interviewed three women for junior French. One a hard faced tough from Huddersfield, one recovering from a broken engagement, one a blonde Welsh woman. Offered post to latter but thought she was not going to accept it.
Saturday, Feb 6th
Looked up some books in calf bindings for the National Trust. Have also offered to lecture for them and they seem disposed to accept and have invited me to go and see them!
Very cold indeed. Wind on bicycle unbearable if go at all fast. Thermometer in walled garden 12°. Snow promised for tomorrow, so got out Alpine boots and greased them.
Sunday, Feb 7th
Very cold. At first it rained heavily, then froze, but the sun shone. Put on Alpine boots in view of forecast of snow, and went over to Reading by bus. Reached Mary for lunch. Had an early tea. The caretaker short of fuel so radiator off. Tea over we went to bed and stayed there until it was time to get supper. Lay together twice with great success each time, the first time for half an hour, the second not quite so long.
Read the Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway, a good short story of old man’s struggle with a great fish and its capture, only to have it eaten by sharks on the way back and arrives with useless skeleton. Not frustration but the struggle – the attitude of man facing it is all, as Drinkwater says in the prologue to Abraham Lincoln.
Tuesday, Feb 9th
Mary Clayden was away, so had the sixth for B.B.C. lesson to myself. They are now in three groups. (i) the materialists and rationalists (ii) the religious and (iii) the dumb! John Freeman the scientist in (i), the best brain, supported by Tony Harman with perhaps one of the poorest. Bosseyed Smith and Annette Griggs, C of E, in (ii) in alliance with Giles, the Baptist!
An ordered week of five days punctuated by Wednesdays and divided by two school free days from the next week very pleasant, but the routine and regularity does eat away at the months and years like Jack Robinson. When I ring up Mary at Heelas am always Mr Robinson. Wonder what reason made me choose Robinson!
Found in one of Nora’s psychological books by Jung a woodcut of king and queen lying together entitled Conjunctuo rel Coitio, intended apparently to symbolize union of opposites, so copied it in pencil and sent it to Mary as surprize.
Milder today but early morning roads so treacherous that one school bus never appeared at all and another very late. So few at prayers that chose the collect “Where two or three are gathered together”, but don’t suppose anyone noticed it.
Wednesday, Feb 10th
Gave a talk to the sixth form on Impressionists. At 2.30 governors’ meeting. Old Crosse still spiteful about Mr Brind and the boys’ singing. Old Hamilton, speculative builder, said he was not a Puritan, but wondered why was a prize not given for scripture. Hard to find any explanation that he would understand. Difficult to say that religious instruction and religious education two different things.
Dorrell, assistant director, had had a two page typescript from the Assistant Mistresses’ Association on the question of Miss Sim’s leaving – the harshness and lack of consideration of the H.M.! It even quoted the testimonial I had given her last week to help her find a new job A silly girl. I wonder who had put her up to it. Still lucky for us I did get her (without pressure) to resign, as possibly she’d have gone limping on and we should have had to carry her as a passenger indefinitely.
Thursday, Feb 11th
Heard from Phyllis that young Jimmy’s great remark now “Lord Jesus done a wee wee!”
Friday, Feb 12th
Fifty fourth birthday! Very upset when reached forty, seemed ghastly. Now don’t bother (as Con said, you become ageless – speriamo).
Saturday, Feb 13th
Fetched Hilary for lunch – chicken and Christmas pudding. Wilkon also present. In the afternoon he went off to play hockey at Wallingford and I drove him back to L. Park by eight. He seems very busy. Robert Morley coming to speak to them. Wonder what Hilary will make of him at close quarters.
[Editor: Remember it well. He talked to the sixth form. In real life, Robert Morley, with his extraordinary face, great charm and fluency, and very funny, was just as you experience him in his films - but what he talked about I do not recall]
Sunday, Feb 14th
Realized that I have ordered a film on margarine for Ash Wednesday! This will never do for Mrs C! Can’t offer the faithful ashes when the heathen have margarine.
Monday, Feb !5th
Called in on Marjorie Hunter, says Miss Sim odd girl, never does anything, been neither to Oxford nor London, every Saturday sits in a cinema in Reading. Is she very unhappy or just flabby ? Think perhaps the latter.
Annoyed that O. H. Association intend to charge 2/- for drink because men like to pour beer down their necks and raise price of dinner to 7/6. Girls and non-drinkers will be subsidizing the boozers. Whole affair a bore anyway.
Russians not willing pay anything for Europe settlement. All Molotoff offered was the withdrawal of Russian troops to Oder, in exchange wanted Germany neutralized, E. Defence Community given up, NATO dismantled, a provisional German government from the present regimes and unfree elections. Russians to withdraw to Poland, we to France and Low Countries. It seems likely that the failure of the Berlin conference will make the Americans hope for the rapid rearming of Germany, but this too will not be easily accepted by the French and the Italians. So what ?
Tuesday, Feb 16th
Went to Town. To Tate where got my itinerary fixed. Did the Moderns pretty thoroughly, bought some catalogues for the natives and a few postcards. National Gallery in afternoon. Noticed a pavement artist with a nice shaggy dog to whom he was talking. Gave him sixpence and thought I might take dog a bone. Not much fun for man or dog. To National Trust where saw assistant secretary, rather a lounge lizard and looked overfed I thought. N.T. may use me in next lecture programme.
Saturday, Feb 20th
Woke up with diarrhoea and stomach ache. Query gastric flu going round.
Haven't done not badly this week, out of school Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons ; What a peach of a job !
Read a very funny book about life of a history lecturer in provincial university called Lucky Jim.
Gossipped with Wilkon over tea. The art master, Mr Jowett, has been living in Henley during week and going down to Brighton for the weekends. Now has shifted his flat from Brighton to London. Wonder what he has in the flat besides canvasses! Hirons has apparently got himself an atomic A.R.P. job in the county and has frightened Jowett, an ex- R.A.F. bomber, by his belief that war is coming. What will the school be like if Clem, Hirons, Roberts and Rees all stay to 70! Awful thought.
These lines of Day Lewis just discovered, seem appropriate to our visit to the galleries:
Each man must seek his own. What do I seek?
Not the sole rights required by snob and freak,
The scholar’s or the moralist’s reward,
Not even a connoisseur's eye for technique ;
But that on me some long-dead master may
Dart the live, intimate, unblinding ray
Which means one more spring of the selfhood tapped,
One tribute more to love wrung from my clay.
And if I miss that radiance where it flies,
Something is gained in the mere exercise
Of a strenuous submission, the attempt
To lose and find oneself through other’s eyes.
An Italian visit.
Monday, Feb 22nd
Struggled with school. The student had brought some ”Roman remains” so had to demonstrate these. Had some fish and felt better, but felt very tired.
Tuesday, Feb 23rd
At last had time to do a rehearsal of St Joan for Friday evening – needs really more polishing than we can afford. Still! Heard that Mary had also caught the plague, poor dear. Nearly passed out myself when giving lesson before student this morning.
Thursday, Feb 25th
Last rehearsal of St Joan. Had to have it in gym as film in hall, though characteristically at the last moment the projector packed up.
Raymond Cattell’s 16 Personality factor test, which I did some timle ago, gives me, I see from Nora’s notes:
High IQ, Sociability less than average, but positive surgency. Not dominant. Individual. Stands alone. Nervous tension + Some general neuroticism. High sensitivity and aesthetic imagination.
Friday, Feb 26th
The play went off well and was great fun [Oxfordshire Rural Community Council - One-Act Play Festival 1954]. Collected table and took it to Peppard Village Hall, though at first table wouldn't go through door, but it did with some coaxing. Meanwhile people were staggering in with three-piece suites, pianos, mantelpieces, telephones and hyacinths in pots for the domestic comedies. Went back at six with Clem. Made them up with some help and at 6.40 had to leave dressing room for next lot to go on stage, where Hilary, dressed as George Fox, joined us for a bit. His play came next. Giles and Co were very nervous at opening the batting, but did very well indeed and acted with vigour and good timing. I worked curtain and prompted, though did not have to.
Then we went round the to back of hall and saw he rest. The Quaker play written by a local Friend. Hilary acted well and had a fine voice, but the movement was a bit messy. Next a W.I. with an all woman one act, very poor as a play, but well acted. Then Ladies in Retirement with Mrs Gwilliam as the lady with a past, fat, wheezing as broad as a battleship and most fearsomely made up. We got a good adjudication and everyone was very pleased.
Saturday, Feb 27th
Nora to Exeter. Met Mary at 2.30 and to Paddington for night. To Hamlet, enjoyed it as much second time.
Sunday Feb 28th
Breakfast, then to All Saints' Margaret Street, rather long sermon. Had not slept well and no where to sit down so repaired to Nat. Gallery. Full of bums, either asleep or reading News of the World. Very bum-like myself and nearly went to sleep in front of Madonna of Girdle!
March. Mr Jowett's background. Ed Murrow turns on McCarthy. With VIth form to National Gallery. H-bomb and UK's survival. Stolarow. Colin Clark on welfare state.
Saturday, March 6th. Watched Old Boys' match in afternoon. Old Boys' dinner in evening, preceded by annual general meeting, which ran half an hour late. Replied "for School", but dinner not over till 10.30. Unfortunately secretary made chairman, a dumb, slow witted illiterate chap, and we shall have him for years. Have got the impression that after amalgamating with girls a year ago the old gang are once more in possession. A pity!
Monday, March 8th
Had new art master in to tea before going over to Maidenhead to hear the art master from Eton on italic writing. Mr Jowett born in Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese. Ancestry mixed, a Portuguese grandmother from Macao, [grandfather] a German who left Schleswig Holstein and changed name from Schmidt to Taylor, and set up as sea captain in Hong Kong. Father, also sea captain, and mother interned by Japanese during war and now living in bungalow near Sidmouth. Mr J a great admirer of Zen Buddhism, which anxious to duscuss with Nora, and hopes one day to return to East.
Has got two rooms in a home with other artists in Kensington, leaves at 6 a.m. and comes down on a workman's train ticket arriving at Henley before eight, bringing his breakfast in a satchel. Trained as a bomber during war in Rhodesia and operated from Norfolk.
Found this among E. M. Foster's essays, John Nebb, Bishop of Limerick, on diaries: The utility of keeping one has been dwelt on by many persons remarkable for great attainments and piety. Dr Johnson said that a full and unreserved one would be a very good exercise, and would yield great satisfaction, when the particulars were faded from remembrance. He began one twelve or fourteen times, but never could persevere.
Tuesday, March 9th
Timothy Shy writes in News Chronicle:
She dwelt along the untrodden ways,
Nor did the thought occur
That hikers on Bank Holidays
Might tread on them, and her.
Thou hapless girl! Five hundred steps
Upon they harmless face!
What formerly was just inept,
Is now a damned disgrace!
Wrecked is the Vale, full long ago:
But dainty Farmhouse Teas
Bring to my Lucy constant dough
And rot those Chimpanzees.
Wednesday, March 10th
Drizzle been prophesied but the afternoon turned out sunny. We had our first picnic of the year. While we were having supper, the caretaker arrived to announce that the workmen would begin Mary's bathroom plaster tomorrow. This caused some alarm and despondency. I washed up while an attempt was made to to borrow dust sheets and the bathroom was cleared.
Thursday, March 11th
A brilliant spring day full of light and warmth. Rang up Mary to find caretaker had made a mistake and all preparations for nothing. Talked to Mr J. about Buddhism. Perhaps Buddhist attitude desirable when faced with plasterers who do not arrive.
To my great delight saw the first butterflies, tortoiseshell and sulphur [brimstones?]
At 6.30 went over to Leighton Park to see The Duenna. Hilary was in the chorus. It was ghastly.They bawled and shouted till your head ached. Came out after first interval and left Nora inside and went to flat for a cup of tea and an aspirin. Listened to end outside and found it quite loud enough.
Saturday, March 13th
Counter attack on McCarthy begun by Ed Murrow, the broadcaster, and a Republican senator. It was time. He had been claiming preferential treatment in the army for one of his stooges, threatening them if this was not done with more exposures. "This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent..... We cannot defend our freedom abroad by deserting it at home." Murrow on television.
Nora took me to the cinema but struck a film by dimwits, for dimwits, of dimwits, so after half an hour came out. Bang went 5/4!
Spent some time finishing another article on school for magazine up to amalgamation of schools in 1778.
Sunday, March 14th
Cyril and Kay Peach to lunch. Child doing homework - "Where do I come from?" " The stork etc. Get on with your homework." "Where did you come from?" "Found under gooseberry bush etc." "Where did grandfather come from?" "Doctor brought him etc." Father later looks to see what provoked these questions. "My family." "In my family for some considerable time there does not appear to have been a normal confinement."
Pasty faced candidate at army selection board reported to have said, "My body is perfectly equal to the limited demands I make on it". Conclusion of report to C.O. of cavalry regiment on subaltern neither well built nor well mannered, "I would not, however, breed from this officer."
Tuesday, March 16th
A very successful day. Left by coach at 8.50 and reached National Gallery about 10.40. Started with the air conditioned room containing the Pieros, Bellinis and Mantgagna, then Ucello, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese, Rubens and Vandyck, Rembrandt and the Dutch, the early Flemish and the Spaniards. By then about 12.10, so gave them till one to walk round. Then to coach park below to Victoria Tower, where we had lunch. Off again at 2.30 to Tate, through modern French and English rooms, pretty rapidly, then tea with Annette and Vera [Emmerson] at 3.30, started back at 4.10. Home about 6.20.
I found talking to the group quite easy in the National Gallery as it was not full. Some of the girls were very interested in Constable, and Harman was struck all of a heap with the Turners. They did not like the moderns, to my surprize. I felt it was all very worth while and may have opened some doors to them - speriamo. The whole trip only cost 4/- each.
Wednesday, March 17th
I got together a quick tea, marmalade sandwiches and biscuits, and drove over to Mary's. It was a sunny afternoon and the flat was bright. The man had finished patching the walls in the bathroom and gone. We embraced and Mary told me what she wanted without saying a word. Quickly we took off our clothes and turned down the bed. The picnic and the sunshine were forgotten as our limbs interlaced and she pressed her face against my body. She had been so frustrated a week before as she had planned the supper early and then the caretaker had arrived with the message. Now I could give it to her and hold her tight. She wept a little during the act but felt soothed, comforted and relieved. The sun still shone, though it was lower in the sky when we were ready to go. We drove up the lane. When we reached our fire marks of last year it was about four o'clock and I made a fire, while Mary sat happily in the sunshine with the window down on the side away from the wind and watched a couple of dozen hares gambling, grazing and chasing on the new corn through the field glasses.
I see the hare record was 25 in 1952. I said yesterday it was 50, but Mary felt sure it had gone up steadily, and she was right! I don't think after all there were more than 15 today!
Thursday, March 18th
Had to put in a reluctant appearance at the Technical Institute prize-giving in the Town Hall tonight. I guessed it would be awful and I was right! The Mayor said his piece, then we had a report from the new principal, who read word for word without raising his head from the paper once, then a presentation to Mr Blows, who made a long and boring speech in reply (retiring after 21 years), then a colonel, then a speech by a visiting technician strongly resembling Hitler. He did make a few feeble jokes, but he was the only one the whole evening who did. Altogether a wasted hour and a half on an uncomfortable chair. What the children must suffer! Perhaps a good thing for us to know! I may not be a very good speaker, but at any rate I can do better than that!
Friday, March 19th
Mary rather gloomy about home situation [at Bainton Road, Oxford] and how difficult her holidays are. As no domestic help can be got, she is faced at weekends - Sundays - with heavy spring cleaning or working in the garden. Her father does little or no work in the garden except when she is there, and her mother cannot get down at 76 and scrub floors. But then she says she does not like having a woman in because it is so dirty. It is tough when you only have Sunday off to have to go home and work. And we always have the difficulty in the summer about weekends because of the garden. I am not going to bother to take the van away to Goring this summer for that reason, but let it as much as I can. So we are both frustrated all round!
A storm in House of Lords in a teacup because one noble lord thought Boy Scouts ought not to have expelled a young communist. No doubt infiltration and disruption is their aim - as always. Scouts not allowed behind Iron Curtain. Two principles (a) the widest freedom to express opinions in democratic state and (b) any nucleus of power which aims at destroying this freedom should itself be restrained. These two must go together. Those who hold only (a) are in effect pacifists. See Hilaire Belloc:
Pale Willy thought it wrong to fight;
But Roaring Bill, who killed him, thought it right
Each principle requires some limit to the other, but the line cannot be exactly drawn and can best be dealt with ad hoc rather than making hard and fast rules. To steer between the Scilla of careless tolerance and the Charybdis of crude suppression is a delicate task indeed.
Henley church tower needs repair and an appeal fund for £10,000 has been launched. Have no affection for the church, which is dull, ill proportioned, clumsy and badly lighted building. Wondered what I could get off with in the public subscription list. Finally decided to do nothing and bought two tickets to concert at the Town Hall instead.
Monday, March 22nd
Wilk and Mr Jowett came to lunch. Lately there has been a good deal of talk about instant retaliation if U.S. attacked. This talk has coincided with news that a hydrogen bomb is far, far more powerful than Hiroshima bomb. One has been let off in the Pacific and Japanese fishermen 80 miles from the site have been injured by radiation. The danger area has been extended to a radius of 450 miles from 150. It is 526 miles from Inverness to London so the prospects for this island don't look good! Mr J. drew Nora's attention to this. Nora said how wicked and criminal it was to go on with these tests. On the other hand, the fearful possibilities of their use may make war less likely than it has been. "What is not known cannot act as a deterrent," said the U.S Secretary of State, Mr Dulles.
Nora came home from Mrs Peach's school and said the headlight was again loose, and so it was, wobbling about on one nut. Decided it was time, and more than time, to give up Rolfe's and Mr Properjohn and try Lewin & Sergeant, to which Miss Hunter seceded some time ago. As the M/G says, "No one begrudges value for money, but there is so little of it. One of the few things that gets done properly is the sending out of bills at the end of the month!"
Tuesday, March 23rd
Wilk came in this morning to say she saw Ioan standing by her bed this morning saying "Mum's dead" and a letter arrived saying she had died.
Saturday, March 23rd
Mrs Hewitt, who inhabits the flat below Mary's, had gone away on holiday so was able (or allowed) to stay the night and slept on the safari bed in a sleeping bag.
Sunday, March 28
Colin Clark has come up again. thinks we can not survive on our present load of taxation, 40% of national income, and production rising very sluggishly. He assumes that most people have had enough of the welfare state and would prefer to provide for their own social services through trades unions and friendly societies and so on.
Monday, March 29th
Mr Stolarow, parent of boy now in fifth form, came over me to get me to sign naturalization papers for him. He was born in Moscow in 1908. I was a bit doubtful about the boy, but considering he was no worse than many Britons, signed as a sponsor!
Went down to Mr Lawson's. Wondered whether now he is the boos should tip him. Did not.
Considering how one would live of £400 a year
Taxes and rates £70
Fuel and light '0
2 personal allowances 100
Well, we shall see, if we ever get there, how it works out and whether this is so wide of the mark.
Kilvert went for a picnic at Snodhill Castle in 1870. Cold chicken, ham, tongue, pies, salads, jam tarts, bread and cheese, strawberries, claret, hock, champagne, cider and sherry and boiled potatoes and soda water. Perhaps we shall go there in 1954, but not in this style.