April. Vanishing £. Case of lockjaw. Training to become a housekeeper. The chatelaine of Uppark.
Monday, April 1st
Monday, April 1st
A nice cheerful day! On the main page of The Times this morning a graph from 1946 to 1957 showing the decline in the purchasing power of the £. If 1938 is taken as 100, by 1946 it was 60, by 1948 50, by 1953 45, today about 37! Labour or Conservative makes no difference.
We have come to the end of our assets and our loans. We are living beyond our means, i.e., our productivity. This may have been stationary in 1956, but anyway not more than 2%. Wages rose 5%! 3% decline in £, rise in cost of living, further wage claims, more strikes! More strikes loss of confidence in £. Even without strikes a rise in wages without a corresponding rise in output eats away at the currency. It has been declining steadily for the past 20 years. It can collapse!
Will this government tell the truth and stand out against the unions' claim that wages are a kind of sacred cow that must never be linked with production, in spite of the fact that wages in total depend production in total? Nor can you pay twice, once with an increase for higher production and than again when production does go up.
Because the mass of the people are better off and can have their television, cars, Saturdays off, pools, and so on, they think they have some kind of right to them and that they will always be there.
If nothing is done the prospect is bad. What is to happen to one's savings, one's pension, one's old age (if any)? Was I foolish to give up a well paid job just at this point? I wish I knew. All this makes one low. I realize more and more that I am no longer young - grey-haired, baggy-eyed and tired - and I have given up a comfortable job at £1500 a year! Still no use worrying. At any rate I am not in debt, or only 17/-!
After supper started looking through my diary 1944 - 50. Felt very low as a result - years go by never to return, Hilary grows up, nothing happens. Camping, caravaning, now too old.
However, I did have a nice letter from Leslie Bennett. "We particularly want to keep in touch with you. Over the years ours has been such an admirable friendship." Good old Leslie - 4 years older than I am, but wearing better I think.
Tuesday, April 2nd
Yesterday went off at school with only some chalk missing and the disappearance of the soap in the boys' lavatory! I was told Richard Dimbleby on television gave viewers a film of the Italian peasants getting in the spaghetti harvest! Some people are supposed to have rung up and asked whether they could buy spaghetti trees!
One of the boys had a kick on the jaw. The doctors x-rayed his skull. He complained of pains in his spine. Finally he was taken over to the Churchill Hospital at Oxford and his complaint was diagnosed as lockjaw! It is so rare no one recognized it. Most medics have never seen any.
Wilk had Ioan's portrait of me in the lab and varnished it. Remembering portraits are often so difficult to identify, I wrote my name on the back.
Think heart may not be too good, pains in chest and it bumps a bit, especially in right ear when in bed. Still, always nervous about myself anyway - pulse 78 - might be strain of cutting nettles with a bill hook.
Wish I had some of Nora's amazing energy. She has now started a course to learn how to teach English to foreigners in London for two days a week.
Thursday, April 4th
A letter from Hilary arrived, enclosing a snap taken in Nicosia last autumn. The last of the rains was falling. He cursed the strikers; said they felt very self righteous serving the Queen. People leaving Britain might not be leaving a sinking ship so much as one infested with rats! Last week they went round the brothels, this week they are going through the prophylactic stations.
After the hockey match Cherry came to tea. In the course of this she let out that she was going on with Italian lessons privately unknown to Miss Hunter! That the teacher, a man of 50, was a relapsed catholic. I said she was becoming clandestine, and really wonder what she is up to. However she did give me a lovely new thermos for the course. It was nice of her, but I do wish she wouldn't spend money on me.Then Nora came home and told me she has picked up a business follower on the train to Guildford!
Saturday, April 6th
Bushell came up and photographed me in my room at the table and then standing in front of my fireplace. Hope it won't be too expensive.
After lunch started for Dunford House. I got to the house before the London contingent and unpacked, then emerged at 7 for dinner to see what had turned up, not without trepidation. Dinner was like the first chapter of an Agatha Christie: one speculated on the identity of the victim and the criminal!
After dinner we went into the sitting room and presented ourselves. Men: 1 builder, a pig farmer (cheerful bucolic), 1 antique dealer with Jewish wife, 1 highbrow book expert (rather superior I thought). Women: elderly white haired matrons, one with a facial twitch and one extraordinarily sinister looking woman with a long nose and white strait hair, a nurse, but I would not like her near me with a hypodermic!
Sunday, April 7th
Made my own bed. After breakfast we had a talk on the house from the parson, Mr Bliss, who acted as warden. I spent most of the morning writing letters to Mary, Cherry and Nora, then walked down to the drive to the pillar box. After lunch we had a talk from Mr Bliss, who had changed into sports jacket and grey corduroys, on the running of Dunford and then he showed us round; this was pretty dull. After supper we sat around drinking coffee, always a bore in a hotel or anywhere. Went out after a bit and read Cobden's Diary in manuscript in the library, where the fat, small red-faced Col Wallis [the pig farmer] was doing the same.
Monday, April 8th
A young rather delicate looking woman arrived last night - the cleaner queen - and this morning she started off in cleaning materials and methods. This took the whole morning with a break for coffee. In the afternoon had two toughs from Hoover and a woman with a washing machine. After sitting all afternoon in a centrally heated room with people smoking I had a really splitting headache. After tea to try to clear my head a bit, I walked up through the woods to the Cobden obelisk. Dinner over I went to the library where the colonel and I established ourselves very comfortably and read in almost complete silence till 10 o'clock.
Tuesday, April 9th
A good day. Quite amusing cleaning demonstration and practice in the morning. I cleaned a carved wooden lion holding up a table. We all got more matey and used to one another. In the afternoon we went in a coach to Goodwood through the most lovely downland country. The outside of the house is dull, but it contains fine Louis Quinze furniture and interesting Stuart portraits. After we got back Mrs Spikes left for London. I have formed a high opinion of Mrs Spikes - she is clearly in the Lady Helen class.
Wednesday, April 10th
We had practical housework this morning. I was paired with a nice farmer's wife and we had silver to clean, a room to do and a corridor to clean. While I was busy with white apron and short sleeves, the school I hoped was breaking up without a row between Cherry and Clem. It wasn't! I was sitting in the library about nine reading Bertrand Russel when the phone rang. It was Cherry. Clem had walked out at prayers on Monday, had a row with her that day, demanding if she had acted at my orders; when she said yes, he failed to appear either Tuesday or Wednesday. Trouble ahead I am afraid.
In the afternoon we had a talk from the Earl of Euston. he arrived in a bowler hat, always a bad sign, obviously Eton, Magdalen and the Guards! However he was intelligent and gave a very good talk, though he never smiled or made any effort to be pleasant. Like Lord Curzon he was clearly a very superior person.
Thursday, April 11th
This morning we completely stripped down the drawing room and went at it 9.30 to 12.50 hammer and tongs
Friday, April 12th
A rather unrewarding day. laundry in the morning, not of much interest to me. After tea I took the colonel on a church crawl to Trotton, which has two magnificent brasses and an excellent wall painting, evidently recently discovered.
Two peculiar episodes. At breakfast the young Swedish maid asked "Is the gentleman still in Kate," (the bedrooms are called by names). At lunch the warden was explaining that the vicar of Midhurst was so low that he had put the nonconformists out of business, to which the rugged Mr Beasley replied, "If yo can't break a racket, get inside it."
Saturday, April 13th
We had the morning off so I went to Bognor for the sea air; Bognor was, is, the bottom. After lunch we went in a huge coach to Petworth. This is a marvellous place. Profiting from a lecture of Deinfestation, I discovered a beetle (death watch) on the carpet!
Sunday, April 14th
In the afternoon we started for Uppark with our tea. We were met by Lady Meade-Featherstonhaugh, a little, rather frail looking, but distinguished lady with untidy grey hair. She took the greatest trouble with us, beginning by impressing on us that a historic house had a life and atmosphere of its own, that Uppark had a happy feeling and atmosphere. What impressed me at first was the air of decay compared with, say, Osterly or Goodwood. As we went round the rooms the charm and vitality of the house grew on one. It had only six owners in 250 years.
The chatelaine was a character. She used only "living" water from a spring and in infusion of soapwort for cleaning. She was an expert restorer of fabrics - the great window curtains were hanging in strips when she arrived. Now they were all reconditioned by stitching 20 threads to the inch. There was a most beautiful cherry red state bed and two chairs, one restored (by soapwort) and one not - an amazing contrast. By the time we had finished with the bedrooms it was 4.40, but we were shown an C18th dolls house with all the original furnishings and fitments, and then our indefatigable guide proceeded by a stone passage at a very low temperature to a detached and disused kitchen. The cold went to your marrow. Out on the lawns, looking at about 600ft towards the sea, the old lady explained in almost mystical terms what the house meant to her, how through it you could live beyond time and the worry of contemporary life. Utterly exhausted we staggered to the bus for tea.
We had not done our stint, however, not a bit, alas. Mr Clarabut, the highbrow bore, was due to talk "on the care of books". He performed the remarkable feat of talking for two hours without coming to books at all and what he said on these on these could have been put in five minutes. My God I was annoyed.
This was a good day. Coach to Haslemere and stockbrokers' express and on to South Kensington. We were shepherded by Miss Lowenthal, very chic, soignée and good looking, to a distant part of the museum for a talk by one of the curators, followed by the public relations officers, off whom anything would bounce. We started again in the afternoon in the English furniture section with Miss Lowenthal. She was first rate. Got back to Dunford about 7.
Tuesday, April 16th
Cleaning carpets and upholstery in the morning. Then free afternoon. I went to Petworth. After dinner we had another fearful session with the housekeeper, supposed to be on "stores and accounts", but a chit chat and get together with the women, a waste of time and very irritating.
Wednesday, April 17th
Today we cleaned the whole house with a daily, weekly or special clean, working from 9.30 a.m. to after tea. My feet got very tired and I have seldom been more glad to see tea arrive.
Thursday, April 18th
We had a final meeting at which Mrs Spikes read letters from various house owners who had been approached about curator-caretakers. Some were encouraging, some negative, some plain ridiculous. They all however seemed unwilling to pay!
After an early lunch the party left by bus. I made tea at the flat and when Mary got in from the library we started for the Queen's Hotel at Newbury, where we were welcomed by Mrs Groves. As usual we had room 14. After dinner we took a stroll and then sat in the bedroom and I showed Mary my postcards. To be together again after a fortnights absence made us very excited and we were long and successful and very moved to tears.
A tremendous beginning to the day at early light. Ecstasy! Mr and Mrs Groves at breakfast talked about Watford. Mary went tomato colour. "Mrs Barnes hasn't changed at all." We drove straight to Coombe. It was a perfect day! The new made world was filled with light and birds sang in Eden. We were full of joy and happiness from the hours of night and our hearts sang with them.
Saturday, April 20th
Spent the day sorting out, but failed to get tidy.
Went on clearing back room. Took our tea out to the Streatley Lane.
Wednesday, April 24th
We had not been to Kew since 1950. This year said we must go - it may be our last chance. Brilliant sunshine and a cool north wind. Met Mary at the Southern Reading station with a sandwich lunch, lemonade and a thermos for tea, at 1.15. We had just begun our lunch when five schoolgirls entered the carriage and sat in a row on the seat opposite and never took their eyes off us while we ate our sandwiches! Not what we had planned.
We walked by the little enclosures where we had lain among the narcissi many years ago now, by the magnolias to the great palm house. The beds in front were ablaze with tulips and in front of the house were ranged the Queen's Beasts from the Coronation Pavilion at Westminster, Lions, Unicorns, Bulls, Griffins, Falcon, Horse, Dragon, fascinating - I was more interested in these than the tulips said Mary.
Next to the rock garden. After tea we went back to the chalk garden and the tulips to the rhododendron of King William's temple. As we wandered along, hand in hand, we often kissed and felt very happy and so much in love.
Friday, April 26th
I left at the 10.15 and had lunch in Exeter and came on to Maud's in time for tea. I told her Nora and I were parting and that I proposed after a divorce to marry Mary. It was a much easier conversation than with Molly. I felt at once that Maud was sympathetic and understanding. I found to my surprize that she had installed television.
Saturday, April 27th
Went to Exeter in the afternoon. I met the 2.13 from Reading which was taking Mary to Looe. We had six minutes together, but it was well worth it.
Sunday, April 28th
It is clear that after all this we have decided to give up the canal as a bad job and accept Nasser's terms, paying the dues like the Americans I suppose "under protest" - a pretty lame and impotent conclusion to it all.
Monday, April 29th
Tennis has raised Hilary in the social scale. He had got as far as playing a doubles tournament with the deputy governor, who could not have been nicer, and ending up with drinks in the officers' club! Took sandwiches, bought fruit and a bottle of lager in Exmouth and took my lunch beyond Orcombe point, for the tide was right out, and found a sun trap among the rocks. It was so sunny I took my shoes and socks off and had a paddle in the shallow rock pool. I am sure Mary would not have approved! I found a bit of drift wood to act as a desk and wrote to Mary, sending her a poem I had written in bed last night and this morning. I felt that our Easter holiday should be commemorated in our book of poems.
Last night I saw television for the first time. I must say I did not think much of it. The screen is small and the grain pretty coarse. We looked at a film on costume.
Tuesday, April 30th
Caught the 3.30 from Exeter. Felt very flat and depressed at my return though don't know why I should.
May. Seen with "another woman". Cherry and the Italian lodger. Petrol rationing to end (again). The next headmaster. Donald Heath on the declining standards of the medical profession. Last sports day. Headship brief history: dark ages, war years, middle ages, modern times.
Wednesday, May 1st
Wednesday, May 1st
Took Cherry out to tea and went back to supper with her. Cherry let out i) that she knew who Mary was and where she worked and ii) that Miss Hunter had told her I had been seen with another woman, "but of course it meant nothing." Mary had given me an envelope addressed to her with stamps on it and I had left it on the desk in 1y after I had distributed the stamps; that my absences on Wednesday and the fact that I always got my books from the Times Book Club, had given her the clue.
Thursday, May 2nd
Letter card from Mary. She was so pleased with the poem, bless her. This buoyed me up against possible eruptions from Clem. However he merely cut me dead and refused to acknowledge my existence at all.
Yesterday, I learnt more about the clandestine, see April 4th! Cherry does not want to hurry him, but if he proposes, she will accept him. He may not be the proposing sort (in that sense!). Would like to meet him and see what I thought. She'd rather marry me, but if she could not marry me, then she would take Alfonso da Ponte!
Friday, May 3rd
The day started badly. A parent arrived to complain about a stolen watch and threaten with the police. It turned up almost at once. She also produced a live cartridge picked up on the range. After I had lectured Wally on the subject, I suddenly realized it might be Raymond Hayes who had left it - it was of course!
Saturday, May 4th
Called on Wilk in the morning. She was furious at Clem's gross rudeness to Mary Clayden at the end of last term - said he was the most selfish man alive! About right too.
Sunday, May 5th
Went on cleaning the back room, took out lino, washed paint, descaled kettle, lifted bulbs, wrote letters - the usual Sunday chores in fact.
Germans very upset because we intend to reduce conventional forces in their country and rely on tactical atomic weapons.
A pair of bullfinches are nesting in the brambles on the bank below the house, and a blackcap too.
The Observer says petrol rationing will only last another fortnight. The price has come down anyway to what it was before Suez. Perhaps The Observer is right after all. Expeditions like Suez are out of date and we should let them get on with it. Certainly, if we did try to seize the canal we should be honest with ourselves about it.
Monday, May 6th
Went to Hartley to report pains in chest. He said blood pressure same as last June, heart OK, pains either indigestion or rheumatism. Pink patches on chest due to nerves! What are you to do? Wish I wasn't so windy; strong hypochondriac tendencies, always I suppose have had from my maternal parent's worries and anxieties.
Powys on M. Arnold: Those who best love the undying books of the past must necessarily be his staunchest supporters, for it was always from books, from the long, deep channel of the accumulated writing of the centuries that he nourished his imagination and refreshed his spirit. It was by the inspired words of the past that he fed the life if his soul.
Wednesday, May 8th
Mr Moore, the dentist [London Road, Reading], died last Sunday week. An excellent dentist. I had gone to him since 1934 and he had kept me patched up for 23 years, bless him.
Thursday, May 9th
Donald's mother rang up to say he had been awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship in the U.S.A. Sent him a greetings telegram.
Cherry to tea. Alfonso is working as a photographer. "Decent or indecent?" I asked!
Friday, May 10th
Went over to Reading to seal envelopes at bank and then to Mr Pim, the solicitor. He said that all that was wanted was a simple confession of adultery from me and Mary to an enquiry agent - nothing about hotels etc was necessary.
Saturday, May 11th
Coffee with Marjorie Wilkinson, after lunch Marjorie Barnes blew in. I wanted to say that I had kissed a headmistress, so I did, on her arrival and departure! To my surprize she offered me her mouth, not her cheek!
Nora returned for supper having bought an Edwardian house in Sutton with help from Ken, two flats, the lower occupied. Hope it doesn't fall through.
Sunday, May 12th
After lunch told Nora about what Mr Pim said and she promised to see a solicitor, though she seemed to envisage policemen coming up the school drive to serve writs! I wonder. Blockbuster McBurnie came up after lunch. She looked a bit boiled, but had come within 200 votes of the Conservative candidate in the municipal election and hopes to get in next time. What a woman!
Wrote to Mary and told her the day of our marriage was drawing near and we should have to decide about beds. Could I train myself not to snore?
Monday, May 13th
My last House Committee. Mr Cook asked me to retire, so he's evidently cooking up something for the governors' meeting. Hartley syringed my ears and got out masses of wax and dirt. I immediately heard much better.
Thursday, May 14th
Petrol rationing to end at midnight. Waste of money having the new books printed I should have thought!
Wednesday, May 15th
Ex-Indian judge Grille has aksed Mary to have a drink in his flat. Are his intentions honourable? M's assistant thinks not! We must wait and see.
Thursday, May 16th
Cherry to tea. Alfonso not coming up to scratch!
Saturday, May 18th
The new H.M. and his wife arrived at 3.30. I met them at the station and identified them easily as they were the only pair that got off the train. I liked him. He seemed a nice person, though without any charm. He had a very irritating habit of saying yes, yes, to any remark you made. His wife though was an exasperating person, who seemed on the verge of a nervous collapse and would eat nothing. She worried all the time about the schools for their very small daughters and seemed on edge with him. I felt sorry for him with a wife as jumpy as that. We had a couple of hours on the timetable and I gave him all the information about it I could.
That dead beat, old Lord Saye & Seal, asked him if he approved of corporal punishment. He made the very cunning reply that he would follow my practice in the matter and if he found he was giving more than I did he would think something was wrong*. Did I have any? I said no, a) unnecessary b) out of place in mixed school.
*Diarist's subsequent insertion: That should have warned me!
Sunday, May 19th
Donald Heath came up for morning coffee. He borrowed my rucksack as he is going to Spain and I appointed him my agent for the purchase of postcards* both there and in the USA.
We had an interesting discussion of what is wrong with the Health Service. He says the most frightful thing about it is the degeneration of the G.P. The young ones are losing any medical ideas they might have had and becoming disillusioned cynics. He takes surgeries to make pocket money and says after working with integrity and honesty all day in the lab, he puts all that away when he gets in the bus. He has perhaps 45 patients to see in two hours. He can give about three minutes to each, provided they walk in quickly! Of those 45 perhaps five really need a doctor. Unless you can persuade the public not to crowd into the surgeries, general practice of this kind is a farce.
But how? I suggest a charge, Nora an intensive camapign on wireless and television "Don't go to your doctor unless you really need him." It is impossible, says Donald, to discipline your patients and tell them "I don't want to see you again, there is nothing the matter with you?" If you do they simply clutter up someone else's surgery. A good example of dividing a cake and still having a cake left at all.
[The Headmaster had a large collection of postcards of art and architecture. Anyone travelling abroad was always asked to add to the collection. There were a couple of thousand cards by the time Mary died in 1994, most of them black and white, and by that date the availability of postcards of a much better quality, as well posters and reproductions using new techniques, had made the collection obsolete. I gave it to a grateful neighbour in the Cotswolds, a student who was studying the history of architecture]
Read Speaight's Life of Hilaire Belloc. A difficult man, unhappy, disappointed because Oxford failed to give him a fellowship and he was forced to rely on lecturing and journalism. Discovered that the book on economics I used at Leatherhead and have, alas, only just thrown away, was written by him for a 16-year-old girl "Helen", none other than my dear Lady Helen.
Lady, when your lovely head
Droops to sulk among the Dead,
And the quiet places keep
You that so divinely sleep;
Then the dead shall blessèd be
With a new solemnity,
For such beauty, so descending,
Pledges them that Death is ending.
Sleep your fill - but when you wake
Dawn shall over Lethe break.
"When we are dead, some Hunting boy will pass and find a stone half hidden in the grass and grey with age: but having seen that stone (which was your image), ride more slowly on."
Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the duty of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.
Wednesday, May 22nd
There was brilliant weather for my last Sports Day at the Grammar School. A cool wind blew from the north east to temper the brilliant sun and the valley looked its best. I wandered round talking to parents and chatting to the charming Mrs Mathews, who gave away the prizes. Mrs Williams, the new vicaress, turned up and we had quite a big tea party including Miss Hunter, Mr and Mrs Clem and the German teacher, Herr Nussbaumer, a fat, and stocky little man from Cassel.
Friday, May 24th
Empire Day. Hymns, lesson about the sons of Zebendee asking for a position "in the kingdom". My last governors' in the afternoon. Tom Luker made a speech, rather pedestrian and heavy, and asked Mr Denham, as the oldest inhabitant, to add a bit. I replied. in the past under the Mackenzie, Monk, Ashford regime, I was so discouraged that I could not forbear to say I divided my 23 years into the dark ages to '39, the middle ages, the war years, and modern times. In the war years "never in the history of education did so many teach so little to so few". Some of them were amused, but they take themselves very very seriously of course.
Mary had been to drink Madeira with the ex-chief justice of India, Sir Frederick Grille. His flat was full of books of all kinds - "These are mainly erotica" - He talked to Mary as if she were a fellow clubman, but so far he appears respectable and only erotic in his bibliophily, not in his behaviour. But you never can tell.
Saturday, May 26th
Aunt wrote asking me if I could bring her over some coal! She doesn't want to buy any more, and yet in these chilly days needs a fire. Obviously she does not expect to be alive next winter. She was sitting up in her bedroom, which faces north, very frail, thin and tottery, eyes bad, hearing bad, and with a septic throat. I got in the coal from the car in a bucket. Her mind seems all right, which makes the process of physical dissolution worse for her because she realizes what is happening. I got the coal from the car in a bucket.
Nora came back in the evening after two days away, today at Sutton to look at the new house. I must say after yesterday at Mary's and today with Cherry, I found her voice extremely penetrating.
Sunday, May 26th
The grand old man Gilbert Murray died this week, a rationalist and humanist to the end. He once said that Christianity by reducing the Olympians to one, had only left one to be knocked down.
"We can never", he said, "get outside man. Beyond man is the unknown, the realm of mystery which cannot be expressed in language or comprehended in human thought."
Monday, May 27th
Went to tea with Mary. On my way ordered a new brown "thorn proof" suit at Mr Wilcox. We had tea in the new café in the market place, expensive, but very nice. It was not a success as I wanted to get over to Mary too many things requiring decisions in too short a time, notably what to ask for in China for a presentation [by staff and children]
Tuesday, May 28th
Herr Nussbaumer to tea. He had taught till 1942, then joined up and fought in the Crimea, was wounded in the debacle of Germany and got away through Rumania across the Black Sea with a permanently paralysed thumb.
He was a talker, so much so that he could hardly eat his tea. Did not think anything could be done about unifying Germany, was against its neutralization because the Russians would respect no agreement. Critical of the American policy to Russia at end of war; the Germans had warned us. As Churchill said, "We killed the wrong pig." Did he? I had not heard this one.
Wednesday, May 29th
Took over my blue Spanish plate Con gave me after supper and Mary hung it over the kitchen door.
June. A Christian country after all. Hazel's reading list. Sisterly sympathy lacking. "Lowbury belongs to us." Alexander Weiss.
Saturday, June 1st
Went looking at china for presentation in Lawleys and John Lewis, lunch at N.B.L. then to National Gallery to see reproductions.
Sunday, June 2nd
Nora and I took our tea on Downs to Aldworth, but nearly ran out of petrol. We asked a young man by the pub in Aldworth if he knew where we could get any and he produced a gallon in a tin from his "beeje" car. It's a Christian country after all!
Monday, June 3rd
Cherry and I went up to Beethoven concert at Festival Hall - Egmont, Emperor, Fifth. When the victorious divisions marched past the P.M. and Alanbrooke at Tripoli, they wept and neither was ashamed of this emotion. The drumbeats and trumpets of Beethoven are my triumphant legions. At the end of the overture Cherry quite overcome.
Tuesday, June 24th
Nora went to see a London solicitor, who told her that as long as she was performing "wifely duties" she was "condoning" (what wifely duties?), so before she could start proceedings she must leave School House. She thought she would leave after the end of term.
Wednesday, June 5th
When I went down to Exeter in April I noticed from the express window what looked like a very nice strip of Kennet & Avon canal with a lasher and cascade just before Kintbury. We started off along the towpath from Kintibury station towards Newbury. The lasher was further than I thought. We stopped for tea in sight of a lock. After tea we left the things and went on to the lock. This turned out to be the lasher, a charming spot with clear shallow water running over pebbles and water weed. We surprized a red shank. No one came along the towpath. We were alone and far away. It was a delightful afternoon.
[Shorter Oxford: lasher - water that lashes or rushes over an opening in a barrier or weir]
Thursday, June 6th
Hazel Reynolds has been reading novels for me, Aldous Huxley, Maugham, Hemingway, Cather, Compton MacKenzie, Charles Morgan, Linklater. Today she brought me back The Fountain and I gave her The Spanish Farm.
Cherry took the small bookcase and books in her car and we agreed to lunch at The Fleece in Cirencester.
Friday, June 7th
Passed Cherry's car outside The Bull at Fairford. She was inside having a sherry! Lunch, and reached Longhope about 3. Cherry wanted to go for a walk so took her up to the top of May Hill where we lay on the top till tea time. Molly was haymaking but came down and made us tea.
Saturday, June 8th
Did the weekend shopping for Molly in Ross in the morning. Hoed beetroot in the afternoon.
Whit Sunday, June 9th
Tom and Hester Armstrong turned up in his powerful car from Rugby for lunch, chicken, which he carved. After that he retired to bed till tea time.
Monday, June 10th
Took our lunch and went purring through the lanes, where we met no one, first to Kemply and then Kilpeck. Pointed out to Tom rude corbel of woman showing her thing and was amused ten minutes later to see Tom showing it to Hester. Tom and Hester, in spite of age and obesity, a lovely pair - a true marriage.
Tuesday, June 11th
Tom and Hester set off at 7.15 for the Royal Academy. I waited till 12.30 for Cherry to meet me at the Royal Hotel, Ross. Reached home with supper bought in Ross about 7.
It was an unsatisfactory weekend I felt. Molly is so gruff and (query) disapproving. I got no comeback from her, no warmth or friendliness, or any attempt to make me feel welcomed, let alone any sympathy. Mary's name never crossed her lips the whole three days I was there. When I said what I intended to do, she did not appear to take much interest. Old Maud was ten times more human.
Thursday, June 13th
Letter from Miss Sansum to say Aunt had had had a heart attack on getting up yesterday morning.
Cherry to tea as usual on Thursday. She seemed rather tired, but I gathered had sat up till midnight with Alfonso and had asked him, unknown to her parents, to stay in the house while he is turned out of the White Hart at Nettlebed during Regatta.
Saturday, June 15th
Nora want over to see Aunt, who was sitting up in bed and had rallied round again! Cherry and I took our tea up on Wittenham Clumps. It was most enjoyable.
Sunday, June 16th
Another blazing day. It was too hot to go to the Downs or Long Grasses so I repeated the visit to Wittenham with Nora for lunch and came back for tea. Sorry to see how poor the beeches on Wittenden are becoming, broken branches and rotting trunks.
Monday, June 17th
Another blazing day and bedroom at night 78°.
Tuesday, June 18th
Another very hot day, but distant thunder in the evening. Temperature in the 80's.
Reading A Time to Keep Silence, Patrick Leigh Fermor, on the monastic life. He described how he stayed at the monastery of St Wandville in Normandy. No demands were made on my nervous energy; there were no automatic drains, such as conversation at meals, small talk, catching trains, or the hundred anxious trivialities which poison everyday life.... Guilt and anxiety fled away. This new dispensation left 19 hours a day of absolute and Godlike freedom.
Wednesday, June 19th
I got tea and supper together in the morning. This was our midsummer picnic on the Downs. We drove up the lane. There was no one about, no other cars, no tractors, only three pairs of hares running about on on a newly rolled field. After tea we sat about till about six, than set off to walk to the top. When we reached the site of the haystack we kissed and I was for turning back. "Let's go on to Lowbury", sad Mary, so we walked up beyond the beacon pole and sat on my coat. We started home. Near the beacon pole we came to a shallow hollow in the turf about eighteen inches deep. I was surprized and delighted when Mary said "Let's sleep together here!" and lay down in the hollow. There was no one in sight except the tractor driver below the hill and though we were on the skyline our turfy saucer hid us from view. We lay together looking into one another's eyes. A lark rose singing an epithalamiom on the lovers below. "Now," said Mary, "Lowbury belongs to us." My heart was filled with surprize and joy as we walked back hand in hand to our supper. A memorable midsummer picnic.
Thursday, June 20th
Supper with Phyllis in her new home in Hamilton Avenue. After supper Eve and Alexander came in for coffee. Latter on leave and wearing a dark suit and Old Etonian bow tie, had decided to go into the merchant navy or commercial flying, much, I guess, to the professor's disgust. He was pale, spotty and very blasé. Not a very nice type.
Friday, June 21st
Took Mary two pummets of strawberries and some real cream. These I bought in Henley 3/-, the one I bought in Caversham 1/8, such is the robbery practised by the Henley shopkeepers at Regatta time!
A letter from the National Trust inviting me to go for an interview for two jobs going, one at London, one in North Bucks, on July 5th. Took this over to Mary and then went to tea with Cyril. He was trying to sell his car, but he had trouble with crooks who had tried to get it by means of a fraudulent cheque drawn on a non-existent account by a non-existent firm. When a car is damaged in an accent, they buy it from an insurance company, cheap, and steal a new car which they substitute, and sell.
Sunday, June 23rd
Spent a good deal of time delousing caravan and tidying house for crew. The crew are paying 22/6 a day, but this now includes lunch as well. Nora, who made a profit of £50 last year, says it will be only £40 this year, though she is getting more per day.
Reading The Passionate Sceptic, a life of Bertrand Russel. A personality, he thinks, is a collection of "events". When a friend said he found it hard to accept the complete dissolution of the individual, he replied, "A personality is an aggregate, or an organization like a cricket club. I can accept the dissolution of the M.C.C.". Energy which he might have wasted in feeling sorry for himself he directed into feeling angry with other people. It is no good being sorry because the universe has no principle of justice.
Monday, June 24th
A letter from Hilary. He is hoping to go to the Lebanon for 10 days next month on a scheme offering cheap rates for the forces. The most expensive item will be a pair of trousers to go in.
The Anglo-Italian woman, Nora's pick up, has now been invited to spend the night, all fearfully matey. I only hope she's genuine. She told Nora she was more handsome than Celia Johnson, which was laying it on a bit thick.
The great advantage of making a move, sorting out your stuff and beginning a home all over again, is a heightened awareness of your possessions, books, pictures, and pieces of furniture. You enjoy them again as though they were new, which is very pleasant when you have had them for so long.
Tuesday, June 25th
The N.T.! The house is Claydon; flat of 2 bedrooms, sit, kitchen and bathroom, electricity. Rang up Mary to tell her. I want to get it if possible. The question is the salary and terms of appointment. Well, I shall have to wait 10 days.
Clem came in; he had written an "obituary", really very nice indeed. It is a pity he is such a "schitz".
Friday, June 28th
Keble dinner; discovered that Dicker, whom I thought a very clerical cleric, had been at the Slade and painted in Paris! Sat between Dicker and a broken nosed little bachelor from Dunsford in the Teign valley. An excellent dinner; Iced melon, Salmon Steak, Chicken, Strawberry and Ice Cream, Mushrooms on scrambled egg. Claret, Port and coffee. Warden very handsome and soigné, like some aristocratic Victorian cleric, and made a well composed speech though he read most of it. He said speaking in the college hall was like shouting down a railway platform! A very enjoyable evening.
Saturday, June 29th
A fearfully hot day. Mary took a half day and we went up to "the lane". Shortly before four I hastened to make a fire to get the kettle boiling and it was as well I did for a tremendous thunder storm blew up. While we were sitting in the car drinking our tea there was a loud explosion like a whip crack and enormous flash. The storm did not last long and we were able to sit down again on the bank by the side of our hawthorn tree. After supper, Mary, who had walked up to the edge of the barley field, called out that she had found a young partridge that might be hurt. I went up to see and crouched between the rows of barley was a speckled leveret, his ears tucked flat, quite still. Presently, very cautiously, he moved his eyes and head very slightly and then bolted up the furrow and "froze" once more. He did this three times until finally we lost him in the half light. A lovely incident.
Sunday, June 30th
I had vowed I would not have another crew in the house but poverty, or avarice, had made me, and here they are, Mr Dingle and all. The boys are in bed and Mr Dingle playing Bach on the piano. Another day of tropical heat and now a thunderstorm is rolling round and round the hills.