October. Soviet Union has trouble in Poland, Hungary, Britain with Suez Canal.. Sixth Form in Winchester. Clem's oecumenical christening.
Wednesday, Oct 3rd
Had a talk with Mary about our plans. She stressed so much the difficulty of the situation if her father survived her mother that I began to think she did not want to get married! but it was only the policy of looking at the worst possible contingencies!
Sunday, Oct 7th
Johnnie's birthday. Phyllis arrived with him almost before we had our breakfast. Her had already celebrated the occasion by kicking Jimmy in the teeth and had been given a sedative by Phyllis! Nora went down to tea. Jimmie had a temper tantrum, bit the carpet and then opened his mouth and shouted the place down.
Saturday, Oct 13th
I went over at 9.30 to Mr H. A. Finney, art teacher at Reading University, who lives at Wokingham, and he did a free chalk drawing of me - head and shoulders - for 10 guineas with frame and mount. It took over three hours with a cup of coffee at half time. I gave myself a treat on the strength of my increased salary! Perhaps this was rash, but I would like to leave something to my descendants and more immediately to dear Mary.
Sun day, Oct 14th
A lovely autumn day. Nora and I took our lunch out to Ewelme Down and we sat on a straw bale in the sun. Coming back we got some spindle, some of which I took to Miss Hunter, just back from hospital, and some to Cherry. She had applied for a job that began in January. She told me she had also applied to a marriage bureau, but they don't take women over 40! I said men have the best of everything!
Monday, Oct 15th
Not a good day. I went into one of Mrs Paterson's lessons and found she really has not much idea how to teach. Another passenger to carry, I thought. Felt very discouraged. Asked the new rector up. He sounds like a normal human being - a change after Canon Crosse.
Wednesday, Oct 17th
Showed Mary the chalk drawing. She was a bit doubtful about the mouth, but was very pleased with it and we hung it on the wall. It looked good.
I found Clem showing some Jews around the school. They were part of the collection he took to [his son] John's christening, with a few Roman Catholics and agnostics thrown in, about 1939, and then wondered why the parson, a high Anglican, was displeased. He is a funny chap.
Sunday, Oct 21st
We drove out to Beacon Hill. We climbed slowly to the top without any ill effects as far as I was concerned. We drove in the afternoon to Coombe and got back to the flat about six o'clock. My drawing greeted us. Mary said how comforting it was to have it in the flat and on Friday night she had been carried away by emotion and kissed it.
Thursday, Oct 25th
Did the Sixth form trip to Winchester. A good and successful day. We got to the by-pass about 10.30. It ran under the cross road to St Giles' Hill in a cutting. However we scrambled up the side and fortunately there was no barbed wire at the top, got in the other road and reached the view over the city. The wind was very cold, but I pointed out the walls and landmarks. We then went to the mill and the bridge. Here we lost two boys who made off to the Cathedral on their own, much to my annoyance. Along the clear and swift stream to Wolvesey Palace, the outskirts of the college and the close. Here I gave a talk on the monastic buildings and took them for a quick view of the south transept, then went out along the west front. Went in and stood in the end rows of the nave chairs and said the Lord's Prayer and a collect for form prayers. Don't often have form prayers in a cathedral!
Took them a quick tour and then left them to their own devices with pens and notebooks. Went out and had my lunch by the river with one of the boys. We met at two outside the college. We were shown round by the head porter, whose grammar was awful. He also indulged in malapropisms, "execrated" instead of "consecrated" etc, but the children were very good and did not laugh until we were got out. Then went into the chapel, the hall, cloister and big school. In the cloister we stood by Wavell's grave. We had a pleasant walk to St Cross by the river. Here we met another trying old man, but saw the church and hall. Started back at four, reached Henley at 5.30.
Sunday, Oct 28th
The Soviet empire in Eastern Europe began breaking up this week. Mr Gomolka came back to power in Poland as a Polish Tito. The Russian leaders immediately flew to Warsaw to deal with what they imagined to be a party revolt to find themselves dealing with an insurgent nation. They were shown the door. They then had to decide whether to use force and alienate the neutrals. They baulked. Gomolka survives.
In the same week the Hungarians rose but the Hungarian Communists could not hold the people in check and the Russian tanks fired on the crowds in Budapest. We don't know whether the government in the capital will survive. Very little news is coming out. Nothing for instance is known about the attitude of the Hungarian army.
Tuesday, Oct 30th
Yesterday was a day! Israel started a larges scale invasion of the Sinai peninsular and claimed to be within 18 miles of the canal. This afternoon we and the French have given the two sides 12 hours to stop the fighting and said if they did not we would occupy key points on the canal. The ten o'clock news was interrupted to say Nasser has rejected the ultimatum. Israel has started the war, without waiting to be attacked, while the Russians are busy. This gives the French and ourselves an opportunity we have been waiting for to take over the canal by force. I wonder whether Hilary is embarking for Egypt or still in Nicosia. Nora took the news much more calmly than I expected.
In Hungary the people seem to have won after a bloody struggle. There are to be free elections and Russian troops are to leave Budapest. There, over 6,000 people are supposed to have been killed and tens of thousands wounded.
Wednesday, Oct 31st
Listening to the news all day. Half thought we might hear that landings had been made, but learnt that air attack on Egyptian bases had begun. We aim to destroy their air force before the invasion begins. We have crossed the line between peace and war so quickly that people are taken by surprise. The opposition continues to invoke the United Nations - in which we have twice invoked the veto - and boos the prime minister. The M/G loudly condemns the government for its "wickedness and folly."
November. Hungarian uprising crushed. British troops at Suez. Diarist admits he was wrong on Suez. Petrol rationing. The Diarist's final Prize Day. Ioan Vaughn Jones dies.
Thursday, Nov 1st
The air attack on Egyptian bases continued yesterday. Our naval aircraft sank a blockship that was being towed into the canal and also an Egyptian destroyer off Haifa and another in the Red Sea.
Opinion is obviously deeply divided. I think the government is right. We must consider the facts of the situation and not be led away by catchwords. The U.N. can express an opinion. It has condemned the closing of the canal before and no one has taken any notice. When war comes, who is prepared to do anything to stop it - no one! We are prepared to stop it, actually to do something.
Nora very disturbed by "our aggression". Says she has met no one today - her first day at Guildford - who does not think the government wrong.
Nora very disturbed by "our aggression". Says she has met no one today - her first day at Guildford - who does not think the government wrong.
Friday, Nov 2nd
Set off for Holly Bush about 11. Nora has gone to stay with Ken and Rita. Arrived at the farm for tea and as usual found it very cold (600ft). Discussed next autumn with Molly after tea.
The Russians have obviously made up their minds to strangle the Hungarians. Tanks and troops moving west and refugees fleeing into Austria.
The P.M. broadcast tonight. I thought he was quite good. The British and French governments have said they would go on with their action against Egypt until a U.N. force actually arrives and is accepted by Israel and Egypt.
Sunday, Nov 4th
The last broadcast made from Budapest as the Russian tanks ringed the city and the Hungarians were threatened with bombing. Soon after midday the Russians announced "the counter revolution" had been crushed. The west and U.N.O. can do nothing but watch the suppression helplessly, a frightful tragedy.
Monday, Nov 5th
As I expected, the parachute drop began at dawn this morning at Port Said. Gloomy breakfast as Molly and Ruth both horrified. After an excellent lunch set off for Henley, which I reached just in time for the six o'clock news. Quick work. The governor of Port Said had had enough and was beginning negotiations for a ceasefire. At home I found copies of the Manchester Guardian and the Observer, all very vehemently against the government, even to the extent of placing the murder of Hungary at their door. Oxford dons loud in their condemnation. Indeed I seem among my acquaintance to be their only supporter, yet I am all the more convinced that they were right to act.
Tuesday, Nov 6th
Heard on the 8 o'clock news that commandos were landing at Port Said with guns and tanks. Crowds coming out to see them arrive! About six o'clock Egyptians and Israelis agreed to a ceasefire and we had agreed with the Sec. Gen. of U.N.O. to do the same at midnight if not attacked.
Yesterday Bulganin addressed an open letter to the P.M (with his usual courtesy broadcast some hours before he got it!) in which he threatened this country with rockets. We replied with some appropriate remarks about the Russian activities in Hungary.
Diarist's note, dated 1962.
In 1956 I was quite wrong.
1) The Canal Co. had no power to guarantee free passage nor function to do so. No new "control" was set up by Nasser's action.
2) The canal was in Egyptian territory and the company registered in Egypt.
3. There was no threat to close the canal for canal income depended on being used and one quarter of users were British.
Nasser "seized" the canal, but it was already Egyptian. He offered specific reassurances, which were ignored.
The Hitler-Rhineland-Mein Kampf analogy bogus "image". 23 million Egyptians, miserably poor, illiterate, riddled with disease, no steel, 100,000 army - how were they to control all the Arab states, then all Africa, finally all Moslems (one sixth of mankind)? A false analogy known by those who used it to be false.
Thursday, Nov 8th
In most European capitals there have been demonstrations against the Russians. In Paris the police looked on while the crowd sacked the communist party headquarters.
At last we have got the American election over. Eisenhower has been returned by a large majority. We must now hope that American policy will be less erratic.
Saturday, Nov 10th
Had been suggesting to Nora that we should give up telephone and save £20. But she pointed out that you couldn't be rung up. This no loss, I felt this morning. Had just got my trousers down when it started ringing and ringing. In the end hitched them up and went down. Phyllis wanted to know the way to Leighton Park!
Phyllis his morning said she could not forgive the government for bringing us so near to war. The papers are still talking of Russian planes in Syria manned by "volunteers" and my guess is that Nasser's airfields were first on the list to prevent more Russian arms being flown in. Today the first contingents from the Scandinavian countries arrived in Italy and the Colombians set out in American planes from Bogota. At any rte it is sporting of the small countries to send these tiny contingents in hundreds in the face of Soviet armed might.
The Red Cross convoys are sill waiting on the Austria-Hungarian border, but entry refused for fighting is still going on. The Russians appear to be starving Buda into submission. In spite of food being offered in the factories it is said that three quarters of the workers are still on strike.
Mary said liftman was asked for "Lin and gery". When he looked blank, the customer asked, "Don't you speak English?" Another asked for "Ats". He replied, "Millinery". "I said ats." Such are Saturday's customers in the era of the five day week.
Sunday, Nov 11th
Listened to the Cenotaph service on the wireless. Then did a clearance of the loft and made a huge bonfire. Spent the rest of the day gardening and writing my report for Prize Day.
Tuesday, Nov 12th
A letter from Hilary after 10 days. He is still at Nicosia, still on security, at which they are still unsuccessful! He said they seem young and delicate and inexperienced besides the paratroopers.
Petrol rationing looms ahead. There are over 30 ships sunk in the canal! Heard from Norman Smith at Oriel. He had been a leading member of the U.N.O. society and so, he said, had no choice but to oppose the government. Oxford a bad place to be as emotions so high.
Wednesday, Nov 14th
It turned very cold and Mary's cold was so bad we stayed in the flat. After supper I finished reading Linklater's Dark of Summer, read aloud. It read aloud well and we both enjoyed it very much. Yesterday there was no heating in Heelas to save oil, by which it is now heated - or would be.
Saturday, Nov 17th
Still wondering why we stopped when we did on Nov 6th. The decision was certainly not taken on military or naval grounds! We still have no airfields in Egypt which can take jet fighters. The canal, three quarters of which we don't hold, is blocked. The number of sunken ships has risen from 27 to 49. There seem to be three possible explanations: i) a political revolt among Conservative MPs - unlikely. ii) a threat of Russian intervention by air iii) great pressure from the U.S.
Tuesday, Nov 20th
Petrol rationing to start on Dec 17th - 200 miles a month basic ration for private motorists. This said to be more than war time ration, but as far as I can see it will only take me to Mary and back twice a week with very little left over.
Eden's health has cracked up. He is suffering from over strain and must rest. Poor devil, I wonder he has kept going as long as he has.
Very few Hungarians are at work in Budapest and coal and food is running out.
Thursday, Nov 22nd
Two staff and secretary away. Suggested one man should do dinner today instead of tomorrow, but said quite impossible, so did it myself. It was quite easy and pleasant. What a fuss!
Had my hair cut at 3.30. The barber said we were in a mess and I agreed with him. The Egyptians are trying to stir up trouble in Port Said. We are no nearer getting the canal cleared. As The Times says, the U.N.O. adopts two standards, one for us and one for the Soviet. Mr Butler, the acting P.M., said about half the blockships are in our part and we have the best kit and tackle for clearing the rest. The opposition said their piece about the U.N.O, but the French foreign minister was nearer the mark when he told the Assembly that the existence of the organization was at stake if it will only act against its supporters - straining at the gnat and swallowing the camel.
First white frost this winter, 12° of frost.
Saturday, Nov 24th
Still bitterly cold. Nora felt shivery so went to be after lunch for the rest of the day. Phyllis rang up and asked for Nora, but as she had just gone to bed I told her she had flu. Phyllis said she had something worse than flu, but wouldn't say what. I knew Nora, given any encouragement, would have gone down there or her up here, but she's so bossy and such a scrounger of other people's services that I did not feel like "a touch" and was selfish.
Sunday, Nov 25th
The Observer still attacking the government with unabated energy, a new government needed which has "regained the confidence of our friends and allies." It denies that there was a plan by Russia to intervene when Israel attacked Egypt, and so denies that our intervention was the lesser of two evils. It does think however that what stopped us at El Cantra on Nov 6th was an urgent warning from Eisenhower that if we went on the Russians were likely to intervene and America would not be responsible for the consequences if they did.
It seems possible that the original plan for the French was to use Israel, with substantial help from them, to knock out Nasser. This they revealed to us at the meeting in Paris on October 16th. The government, without letting the Israelis know what they were doing, decided to come in on their own account. The "collusion" was between France and Israel, we cashed in on it - or hoped to.
Monday, Nov 26th
This has been a very bad weekend. Phyllis is ill and in a state in case she has to go into hospital, and then on top of this on the evening before Wilk was to go into hospital, she rings up to say Ioan had died of a heart attack at Leiston.
I am sorry. He was a delightful man and a great refreshment to meet with his individual outlook on things. We had known his heart was bad for a long time, probably a result of his flying during the war. This is the second time Marjorie has lost a lover, the first about a year after we came here when Fyfe, the maths master, was drowned off the Welsh coast, and now Ioan. It's bad. Ioan came to the school in 1948. I little thought that Wilk would outlive him.
The telephone company is cutting off the telephone on Dec 21st. With its aid it is wonderful how the news gets round. I rang up Cherry to tell the news of Ioan's death and within the hour I had calls from Attrill and Marjorie Hunter.
America voted for the U.N. Assembly resolution on withdrawal, so keeping up the moral ban on France and ourselves, and by dragging her feet on the supply of oil to Europe, she is, in effect, applying the sanctions to us that she refused to apply to Egypt when the canal was seized. For 10 years we have tried to operate with the U.N. under American membership and this is what we get.
A correspondent who has got out of Egypt says that in a week or two they will be out of oil. They cannot get any out of Iraq because their buddies in Syria have blown up the pipeline and they have blocked the canal themselves. He says in spite of the relentless propaganda of the radio, Cairo is a city of fear and anxiety. They cannot conceal the disasters of the defeat in Sinai, the destruction of the air force, the battered remains of which are still on the airfields, and the running out of oil, without which there will be no electricity and transport and which people use to cook
Tuesday, Nov 27th
A letter from Hilary this morning. They are moving to Limassol and he seems very disgruntled. He was asked by his company commander whether he was qualifying for a tramp as his water bottle [cover] had a tear in it. Sent off my Plato and Moorhead's Gallipoli to him.
Some comment on the fact that Eisenhower was too busy playing golf to see either the Australian or the English minister. However he did make some comments about the solidity of NATO to offset what's happened at the U.N.O.
Thursday, Nov 29th
The usual morning Prize Day chores. Had a solitary lunch, changed and drove down to the Town Hall. Mary had given me a new white handkerchief for the occasion. The hall was full. Mary had taken a half day off and sat at the back. Her first prize day; my last! Used an old speech of 1948, slightly refurbished! Miss Major, Principal of St Hilda's, a grim woman of no charm and hardly a smile, made quite a good speech free of moralizing. Lady Hambleden came, so I put her in the front row next the chairman. She sat absolutely upright and completely motionless, except her eyes, which moved and took in everything; She was dressed well with a turban-like hat, and, as you looked at her, you felt that with her beautifully modelled face and aquiline nose she might have belonged to any historical period and would have fitted any historical costume. Of the other women governors the less said the better.
The only other snag in the ceremony was poor Mr Cook, who had been asked to move the vote of thanks to Miss Major. He was overcome with logorrhea and spoke for as long as Miss Major or myself - on television, homework, the importance of sharing a warm room to work in etc etc. Mrs Cook, who had warned him not to be long winded, sat in the front row of the hall obviously growing more and more uncomfortable as he went on and on. In the end it took one hour 15 minutes over all.
I went out to the car to find Mary. We drove back to the flat and discussed the notables, Tom Luker, Lady Hambleden, Mrs Griggs, Mr Cook (whom Mary regarded as a kind of buffoon) and what staff were visible. I was glad Mary had been able to see me in my natural habitat.
It was a sad day for Wilk as Ioan was cremated at Ipswich. He had not made his will so hs books, paintings and writings belong to his sister.and anything the Wilk wants to keep she has to ask for.
[Editor: Ioan owned a bull-nosed Bentley with no self-starter. It was started, as was still quite normal at that date, by turning the engine over with a handle. I was told, either by Wilkon or by my parents, I presume, that Ioan died when cranking the Bentley on that morning, but whether this true or not I do not know]
Extracts from the Headmaster's report, 1956
- From the middle ages we have inherited the institutions of university and college. From these centuries, too, the traditional connection between grammar school, college and university. They all three sprang from the same high social purpose - "that all good learning might flourish and abound." From this grammar school we have at present four old boys teaching at universities - Oxford (law), London (geography), Birmingham (pathology) and Reading (physics). In addition we have this link with two Oxford colleges, Balliol and St Hilda's..... and we are delighted to welcome the Principal of the College.
- July sees us going down to St Mary's for the Periam service and sermon. The school files by the tomb of Lady Elizabeth Periam, who when he school was united to the Grammar School in 1778, became one of our founders and has this year provided us, posthumously so to speak, with some nice new tables for the library.
- Mrs Brackston has played hockey for England and Miss Wilkinson has had published the first volume of her book "Biology for the Young Citizen" published
- We want to take advantage of the much greater flexibility of the new General Certificate of Education as compared to the old school leaving certificate. The new certificate with its greater freedom and higher standard can be related to the individual boy or girl who wants to qualify for university entrance or preliminary examinations of the numerous professional bodies. It should not be treated a school leaving certificate, but as a qualifying certificate to a particular career, and there is no reason why a boy or girl in the fifth form should not by-pass some subjects at the fifth form level altogether. The educational value of a subject does not depend on whether the subject is examined or not examined, but on the content of the subject itself and how it is taught, as we see for example in the case of Religious Instruction or Literature and Music.
December. Dr Heath. French girl in trousers! Henley to Exeter in 12 hours: Christmas at Exton. Hilary in Limassol
Saturday, Dec 1st
A day out with Cyril and Kay in their Ford Consul. Had a very good picnic provided by Kay in Windsor Park. The Consul not all jam. Its heater made it stuffy and couldn't open windows because Cyril did not like draughts. It also had a wireless, which was a mixed blessing.
Some plain speaking from Lord Hailsham. The U.N. must not degenerate into an instrument of racial spite, or a means by which stronger nations can strangle a smaller nation to death, or a small nation exploit a larger nation's reluctance to use force against it. We are ahead of America not behind it. We do not wish to hear moral lectures from those whose moral weakness and incapacity to see the facts was the precipitating factor in the present crisis. Good. Time someone spoke up for England.
Sunday, Dec 2nd
Had Wilk up to lunch. I went down to fetch her at The Pod and took down a parcel that had arrived. It was a book, Lucky Jim, which Ioan's sister had forwarded and contained a note from him written on the day he died. In it he said she might be glad to have a funny book "in a certain eventuality". I think it is clear he realized his heart was very bad. He had written to her before, "The curtains of fatigue are closing round me".
Tuesday, Dec 4th
Petrol to go up to 1/5. They have been only letting you have a gallon at a time and garages have a written notice outside "Regular customers only". I got one gallon today, though I dare say now the price has risen they may be a bit more generous.
Wednesday, Dec 5th
Seating choirs with aid of whistle and long stick!
Thursday, Dec 6th
The choirs went off very well, though Brind had a stomach upset and was very shaky.
Sunday, Dec 9th
Donald Heath came up to coffee. He had been to see the Wilk yesterday afternoon. Said these parathyroid glands difficult to find and there might be three or four of them, and then how to know which had the tumour on it! He was very smartly dressed and had bought himself a Swedish hat at the cardiological conference he attended in Stockholm, where he read a paper. Altogether he seemed much jollier and more human. He even remarked he enjoyed coming to see me. He said the medical school like the medieval field system: the first year wild oats, the second year fallow and the third year ploughed!
Tuesday, Dec 11th
To my great joy was able to pick some little sprigs of Chimonanthus in flower - never known it possible before Christmas or more often the first week of January.
The Germans terribly indignant because we have asked them to pay more for our troops. They, having promised 12 divisions, have at the moment none at all except on paper. We have five in B.A.O.R. [British Army on the Rhine], but say if no contribution will have to withdraw some.
N.A.TO. meeting which Mr Dulles attends and say more consultation necessary. M. Pineau, French P.M., reported to have replied that he didn't known Egypt was in N.A.T.O. area.
N.A.TO. meeting which Mr Dulles attends and say more consultation necessary. M. Pineau, French P.M., reported to have replied that he didn't known Egypt was in N.A.T.O. area.
Saturday, Dec 15th
Went off with Cyril and Kay to visit Stoke Charity near Winchester, a delightful, unrestored 12th century church standing by itself in a field above a tributary of the Test. We got back to tea and I returned to the Prefects' Party. Nora was ill and did not come. I stayed to the supper and play, 6 - 8, and then looked in occasionally, but thought the heat, dust and noise worse than ever.
Monday, Dec 17th
Staff meeting. Let Clem Clifford talk much about senior boys at the beginning to save time at the end. Lasted about 1 hour 10 minutes.
Hilary now moved to Limassol and likes the camp better than Nicosia. From your bed you can see the sea.
Wednesday, Dec 19th
The Junior Carols yesterday and Senior Carols today - reflected that this my last school carol service but did not feel particularly sorry or particularly moved by this reflection.
Thursday, Dec 20th
I spent a good deal of time taking forms for Mrs Paterson to avoid riots, then to tea with Cherry. She gave me a book of Gardens. I was about to give her a Linklater when she said she did not like him, and gave her soap instead!
Friday, Dec 21st
Broke up. Just managed to the prevent appearance of a dirty looking French girl in trousers at prayers by collaring her hostess on the way in - anything to make the last assembly more undignified! However everything went off quietly.
Saturday, Dec 22nd
Had a taxi 10.45; Reading 11.30, train for Swindon jammed to the windows 12.0. Stood in corridor and arrived Swindon 1.0. Slow train to Bristol, carriage to ourselves [Diarist and Nora], ate lunch, soup, sausages and fruit. Bristol trains an hour or two late. Presently Exeter train came in and we had a compartment with two other people. It waited in the station half an hour and started at 5.0. At 6.0 it reached Taunton, left soon, climbed the bank and was going all out down the Even valley when without any apparent reason it stopped. Foggy, but nothing dense. Here we sat for a solid hour, 6.30 - 7.30. On again, only to stop again after a mile or two. About 8.30 the guard came round and said a coupling had broken on a train and it had had to be shunted off the line. Finally after a long wait outside the station we arrived at Exeter at 9.10. Missed the 9.30 at Queen Street, waited for the 10.15. This started at 10.30. We finally reached Studley, cold and with splitting headaches, 12 hours and 15 minutes after we left Henley. Moral: never travel at Christmas.
Sunday, Dec 23rd
Woke up in Maud's best bed with Nora in a higher bed beside it. Was told by Maud, who brought in a cup of tea for Nora, that she should have been in the low bed. Periwinkles lout and honeysuckle covered in bloom in the garden
Monday, Dec 24th
Into Exeter to get fruit, wine and a Fuller's cake for Maud. Overcast, grey, inclined to rain. Dog-walked in the afternoon. Life was easier here as Maud had a new lavatory cistern which actually did its work efficiently. Her neighbour, called by Maud the Read woman, has a bed at night, but Maud is so rude I wonder she likes to, but she is deaf, so things even out I suppose!
Breakfast, and after breakfast presents. Maud gave me a pair of socks, N a book token, and Molly sent a slim and flexible carving knife, as I l must have admired hers in the summer. We gave Maud a tin of biscuits with birds on. The weather was fearful. It blew and rained hard all day. Maud had a taxi to the church in the morning for the late celebration, but otherwise it was impossible to go out all day. Even the dog was reluctant to go in the garden to relieve itself!
For the first time for 16 years we were back on the turkey standard. He had been cooking since 9.30 and had two sorts of stuffing, fore and aft, chestnut and sausage meat; bread sauce as well. With this we had mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and a nice bottle of Graves I had bought in Exmouth. This was followed by Christmas pudding, brought from Henley by Nora, and a quarter of Devonshire cream.
This took about an hour. Then we washed up and tuned in for the last half hour of of the Christmas programme. They were going round the Commonwealth and ended up with the Duke of Edinburgh from the Britannia in the South Seas. He was almost unintelligible. Then the Queen. Her timing and pauses had been carefully rehearsed and she came over well. Wondered where we should be keeping Christmas next year!
My stomach not being outsize or even of average capacity, I felt very sleepy and uneasy in the afternoon, but I managed to eat a piece of Fuller's cake for tea. We drank to "absent friends" at dinner and I thought of Hilary in his tent at Limassol; of Mary in Oxford with here parents; of Con in her rest cure home in Sussex; of Lettie in Birmingham; of Molly in the cowsheds at Holly Bush.
A quiet morning and an early lunch and then by bus for a totter on the front. We sat in a shelter and were quite warmed by the sun.
Maud is so old that she makes you feel old yourself and felt on the front at Exmouth that I was an aged gent ripe for retirement. It sounded on the news tonight as if we had had the best of the weather - the heaviest snowfall of the century in Birmingham.
Thursday, Dec 27th
We started off by 9.45 bus to Exeter. We were 1 1/4 hours late at Reading and reached home by bus about 4.30. The worst of going away at Christmas is returning to a house which has had no heat in it over the holiday. We turned on everything, but impossible to get the heat up much.
Saturday, Dec 29th
A letter from Hilary. The duty officer's eyes looked like poached eggs boiled in blood!
Met Mary on Reading station and up to a new hotel, Queensway, Princes Garden, where we had a nice room on the third floor for 35/- B & B. To the Festival Hall to see José Greco and his Spanish dancers. Too much of the same kind of dancing. Some very erotic numbers. It seems as long as they don't actually touch and the woman has a long dress on, they can suggest as much as they like.
Sunday, Dec 30th
Breakfast in bed, which was a great luxury at no extra charge. Got up about eleven and by bus to see Epstein's Mother and Child in Cavendish Square. Then to the Marble Halls. Here everything on the first floor has been reconstructed and we had a delightful meal in "the 7 Star". We had roast rib of beef, potatoes in jackets with butter and a delicious continental salad, followed by a superb confection called a Nuttie. It was expensive, but satisfactory because you were getting real value and enjoyment. Caught the 4.45 to Reading after a lovely weeked. It was expensive, but as I said to Mary, we must enjoy our money while we have a little for next year we shall probably have none!
Monday, Dec 31st
A letter from Con. "Is this your year of retirement and remarriage? I so often wonder what you are going to do in the way of a job. Whatever it is I wish you good fortune."
We end the year with petrol rationing again, but are told in the news tonight that the canal will be open again by May.
In his tent in Limassol Hilary sits looking at a wall plastered with photographs of wanted men and maps with pins for every incident of the last few months - red for death, yellow for sabotage, black for a bomb.