January. Premium bonds. Diarist's resignation. Dr Bodkin Adams. Brain drain from GB. Emotion turned to ashes.
Tuesday, Jan 1st
Celebrated the New Year by going to the dentist and having a very shaky front tooth shored up. Reading The Times Portrait of the Year found this crack about premium bonds, "The archbishop branded these token of iniquity as as a 'cold, solitary, mechanical, uncompanionable, inhuman activity' - and investors indulged their inhumanity by buying £40m worth in the first month."
Thursday, Jan 3rd
A lovely mild summer day. About two o'clock the P.O. engineers - 4 men only! - arrived to transfer my telephone to Len's cottage! The lordly Raymond [Hayes] having decided to be on the telephone. Len very sheepish about all this. Soon after a security man arrived to ask about a boy who might have access to secret documents in the R.A.F.
Friday, Jan 4th
Letter from Hilary. He had had his parcels for Christmas, the day itself was "monumentally awful," the dinner was uneatable, and he spent part of it after guard duty cleaning the canteen. Here he did find 10/-. They had their Christmas dinner, which was good, on the Thursday, the officers serving. "Christmas for the army is nothing but a festival of inebriety. The number of people able to keep themselves in a state of semi-paralytic drunkeness for 3 days is surprising."
Saturday, Jan 5th
Remarkably mild with grey skies and high wind. Bedroom 54°. Went to see Hartley. Blood pressure no higher, heart action OK but fast.
Nora went down to tea at Miss H, where were Marjorie Barnes, Wilk and Phyllis. Phyllis, who a fortnight ago thought she was at death's door, has completely recovered and, so Nora said, dominated the party. Glad I politely declined an invitation to go! At Christmas, just as James was about to insert the knife into the turkey on this festive day, Johnnie announced, "Daddy doesn't like you, Mummy." My new nickname for Phyllis is Blockbuster McBurnie.
Sunday, Jan 6th
Reading the Duchess of Windsor: favourably impressed; very free from rancour considering how shabbily they were treated by the court and government. Not even Winston, when P.M., could do anything for them.
Asked Nora what she was going to do about a house next August. She had not really taken any steps at all as far as I could see. Pointed out that once I had given in my notice in March, I couldn't withdraw it, and that hardly left six months for her to find somewhere. I wish she would take advantage of Ken's offer of a flat, but she does not want to.
Tuesday, Jan 8th
Tea with the Wilk. She had suffered from the administrations of a chaplain when in hospital in Reading, as she hadn't enough to put up with in her mental and physical condition. "Well, young woman (she's 51), you don't look as if there's anything wrong with you;" "Why do you think I'm in here, you B. F. " seems to be the right answer. This came out because I found her reading a Penguin on Christianity. Poor dear, she has very little of Ioan's MSS. His sister, I think, has the war book, Jimmie Edwards the novel, and some one else the travel book.
Nora came back last night with news of a 5/- a week cottage near Ipswich, one up, one down, earth closet and outside tap. It would be so nice to put furniture in. It might be, but she does not know, I think, what she is letting herself in for.
Thursday, Jan 10th
Went up to London to see Mrs Spikes of the Institute of Houseworkers in Mount St. Very high class! She was a nice elderly woman who said they were trying to work towards a register of people competent to look after historic houses. That was the idea of running a pilot course. They had a number of people who were interested, but it was not much good unless there were some openings afterwards. One snag, I gather, was the number of retired army types who had pensions. She mentioned one house in Kent where there was a flat and all found at 5/- a week, but they were not prepared to pay while they could get pensioners.
Walked along Piccadilly to the National Book League and waited for Cherry, who was late. She was horrified when I suggested we should go to Lyons, however we went to the 7 Stars and had an excellent lunch, as she was forced to admit.
Found that Douglas Hamilton, Miss Hunter's buddy at Harpsden, had been given three years for defrauding the the Income Tax of £20,OOO. I never did like him since he came to the W.E.A. just after the war, a thick, insensitive type I thought.
Yesterday Eden resigned on grounds of ill health. Much speculation as to whether Butler or Macmillan would succeed. After tea found it was Macmillan. Hope he can pull the country together. We badly need it.
Found a letter from Hilary: "If my father is feeling old, I am feeling young. I suddenly remembered that I was 20. A third almost of my life and nothing achieved yet. Still most people are the same I suppose."
Friday, Jan 11th
Hilary wrote once again describing the officer, 2 regulars, 1 national service N.C.O. and two privates, including himself, in the intelligence section. On New Year's Day they surrounded a village at night and caught a double murderer in their cordon. Everyone was congratulated on their alertness, although by his account it was more luck than cunning.
Saturday, Jan 12th
Thinking of inflation I wondered what my grandfather's salary as rector of Hatford was. Might look it up in Crockford. At Leatherhead I got £200 p.a. and board in 1923; at University College Leicester I rose to £550, on which I married; at Henley in 1934 I started on £600 and by the war had reached £800; in 1950 £1,000; in 1956 £1,500. But hardly as much in real terms as I was drawing at Leicester.
Monday, Jan 14th
The first day of term. Wilk went off to St Thomas' Hospital. Her student, a cockney with a prognathous skull and wooly hair set well back on his head, looks like something out of the ape house, but perhaps he may improve on acquaintance. My first impressions, I must remember, are not always right! The beginning of term staff meeting lasted just 25 minutes; I was pleased to be informed that owing to petrol rationing the governors would not meet this term.
Thursday, Jan 15th
At 10 a.m. a girl bit a needle in half and swallowed one half, the blunt end! Sent her to the hospital to be (as the W.A.A.F. said) ultra-violated.
The trial of Dr Bodkin Adams, the Eastbourne doctor, who helped his women patients over the border after they had willed him their Rolls Royces, began yesterday before the magistrates court. Like other successful men in his line of business he seems to have grown careless and even rang up the coroner before the patient was dead! It looks as if much will turn on the evidence of the nurses. The bodies he was careful to have cremated.
Sunday, Jan 20th
General Spiedel, Rommel's old chief of staff, is now commanding N.AT.O. ground forces in Germany, so the wheel has come full circle since I started writing my diary.
The Israelis, quite rightly, won't hand over the coast at Aquaba and the Gaza strip before they have some guarantees from U.N.O. or the Egyptians about access to their southern port and navigation through the canal. In fact, as some one said, the U.N.O. is a kind of Brigand's Benevolent Society.
Tuesday, Jan 22nd
I wrote a letter to Mary for our haystack anniversary in case I have not time tomorrow. I was very pleased to hear from her this morning, as I had not expected to. I told her I wanted to protect, cherish and hold her.
Thursday, Jan 24th
Went to tea with Cherry. Told her I was thinking of leaving in the summer. Considering she has always said she could not stay in Henley without me, she took it more sensibly than I had expected. She wondered if Clem might possibly be made headmaster, but I told her there was no likelihood of that. She has 7 years to go to qualify [for pension], but a long way to go to 60.
The latest story of Clem is that he noticed a nice little boy watching the Old Boys' rugger match and explained the game to him, but failed for some time to observe he was talking to his younger son!
Friday, Jan 25th
Took half a bottle of Graves and a little chicken over to the flat to celebrate Mary's 47th birthday. After supper we chatted about the past, about Con, Nora and Molly and 1940; about Mary's admirers, Hugh Anderson and Leslie Thorpe, and why Mary hadn't married Hugh, the ambitious and successful young surgeon.
Saturday, Jan 26th
The afternoon was rainy and I sorted out old letters from Con, Nora and Cherry from 1933 onwards and then had a cremation in the kitchen stove. They went up in a fiery mass, all this emotion turned to ashes ["And your quaint honour turn to dust/And into ashes all my lust" - Marvell, To His Coy Mistress]. When one is young one has not the knowledge of oneself or other people, and when one is old the vitality has waned. The death of Nora's first baby, the thirties and early forties - some of it seemed a long time ago, some very near and that connected with Mary very vivid.
Tuesday, Jan 29th
A trying day. The Student's class all right when I was in there, but I concealed myself for one form in the prep room and of course thinking the coast was clear, the horrid little girls were rude and rowdy. I said to Mrs C I am about fed up with children - and my God I was. In the afternoon we had a House Committee to award special allowances. Fortunately that did not take long and they accepted my suggestions and explanation of the scheme. It is a bad thing for the staff to have these special payments which are in effect a gratuity awarded by the headmaster.February. Income tax and emigration. Nora's pension error. A lunch too much for Hore Belisha.
Saturday, Feb 2nd
Nora arrived back last night from a visit to Dorothy Wade. D.W. had advised her to have the divorce in London (more expense for me) but had given her the name of a lawyer. She seemed to think she has an accommodation address in London.
Phyllis came up to supper. She has at last decided to apply for custody of the children. Very anxious to argue over the rights and wrongs of Suez, but I was not to be drawn very much. Talked also of the frustration of the middle class, which leads people to emigrate. Over 11% of the 6 1/2% of undergraduates canvassed at Cambridge said they had decided to emigrate after taking their degree, mostly to Canada. Over 44% were scientists.
Sunday, Feb 3rd
Sunday, Feb 3rd
Wrote to Hilary and told him I was thinking of retiring in August, but that I could pay for his first two terms at Oxford and by then hoped he would get a grant. I thought I'd let him get used to this idea before I mentioned a divorce.
Monday, Feb 4th
Nora went off to Cheam flat hunting. Sweating out unwanted books, giving some to school, parcelling up others to s/h dealers in Reading.
I don't know how I shall feel next autumn when I have not got a job?. I have not been out of a job since the autumn of 1922! I Tell Mary that she must on no account give up her job, unless it gives her up, until I have found something.
More about emigration. Is our present system of taxation unfair to the middle class man of brains? Taxation of £2,000 in Canada is £206, here £499!
Tuesday, Feb 5th
Last night they played a recording of the Eroica in memory of Arturo Toscanini (1867 - 1957) a lovely performance but too much for my 17-year-old set.
Thursday, Feb 7th
A pretty flat day. Went into lessons in the Bi. Lab to see what was happening and had to turn a girl out of one. Letter from Mrs Spikes offering me a place in course at a house neat Midhurst called Dunford from April 6th - 18th. Shall have to ask Cherry to take over for the last three days and say I have gone to "history conference". Find Dunford is Cobden's house.
Friday, Feb 8th
My last governors' meeting bar one. Lasted half an hour, slow as they were. Old Pullein-Thompson, who is evidently hoping to become the next chairman, why I didn't give the numbers taking each subject in the Sixth form at each meeting.
Supper at flat. Bus to Reading now 2s 7d.
Saturday, Feb 9th
Nora has made a mistake about her independent pension. She thought she was separately insured, but now she finds she hasn't been. She never got it in writing from Oxford and her card has not been adequately stamped, and consequently she has been lumped in with me. This has decided her to go into Ken's flat and not buy a house.
Monday, Feb 11th
The charming Lady Helen turned up his morning without warning. I had only just opened her letter. We had her to lunch in my house and tea in my room. I told her I was taking a course on care of houses (but not when it started) and hoped she would put something in the hat!
Tuesday, Feb 12th
A pair of green socks to go with my thorn-proof suit from Molly. We had a small chicken, pressure cooked, and a half bottle of Bordeaux for lunch with Christmas pudding and brandy butter to follow. I felt very sleepy after this but gave a lesson on Hannibal to 1y and on Essex to Rada.
Mary wrote, and when I entered my room at 8.30 I found a calendar and a bunch of coloured freesias from Cherry. After school I wrote to Aunt, Molly and Hilary. As I went down to the post the letters the birds were in full song at 5.40 on my 57th birthday.
Wednesday, Feb 13th
Read Pericles Funeral Speech to the Sixth and Livy on Hannibal to 1y. Cooled my lunch and drove over to Reading, train standing in Platform 5 and Mary by it. We decided to take a taxi to the north end of Kensington Gardens and walk to Kensington Palace. I had not been there since Leatherhead days. The state apartments were still pretty gloomy. The most beautiful of the state robes was a pink dress belonging to Princess Alexandra and the most sinister a black dress of the aged Victoria like a squat dwarf - the counterpart in its way of Henry VIII's suit of armour.
We were turned out at four to find a heavy shower had begun. I had no umbrella and Mary had no oilskin, so we had to stand in a crowd under the rather inadequate shelter of a kiosk, menaced by a jumping, barking black dog, which the other shelterers appeared in English fashion to tolerate. Finally we reached Kensington High St and got a bus to Piccadilly for tea. I began to be discouraged by London, as usual! After tea in Lower Regent Street things looked brighter and we tubed to the Festival Fall for the 5.45 concert of Mozart and Handel. The conductor, Boyd Neal, and the organist, Ralph Downes, made a music hall pair of comedians - the former tall, fat and expansive, the latter wizened, stunted and short-sighted, but both utterly flat footed. They played beautifully and the music had that C18th quality of timelessness.
Thursday Feb 14th
To see Hartley about this pain under my ribs. Suggested as it was 1954 since last x-ray of gall bladder and ought to have another. I thought I would go into Reading as I did not think much of the local hospital last time, and just as well for Hartley said they now have a Hungarian refugee who speaks very little English!
Saturday Feb 16th
Looked in at Phyllis and asked if she could let me have a petrol coupon at the end of March to help me get to the course in Sussex. She said she would, but unfortunately the March coupons cannot be used, so they say, after the end of the rationing period.
Sunday, Feb 17th
Over 50 hyacinths well on, the first crocus, a yellow one, in flower.
The buried bulb doth know
The signals of the year
And hails far summer
With his lifted spear.
Hore Belisha, the inventor of the Belisha beacon for the pedestrian crossing, died of a stroke when addressing a meeting at lunch at Rheims to celebrate Anglo-French friendship. It must have been a very good lunch! I always took an interst in him because when we were both undergraduates I once went to visit him in his rooms at St John's about some union business and he offered me a cigarette! I did not know he was a future secretary of of state war. He was mysteriously sacked in January, 1940, no one knew why, though it was said he had so offended the Guards by his army reforms that the King requested the P.M. to remove him. Perhaps we shall hear the truth at last [Editor: see the Wikipedia Hore Belisha entry].
Monday, Feb 18th
Brought Mary sticky buds and a few wild violets. [Robert] Graves says that wherever you get a love of bright colour and wild animals women count in a civilization. As in Eritruria, where they are allowed premarital intercourse and dined with the men.
Tuesday, Feb 19th
To Oxford by train. A very cold night. Reached Union at 6.30 where I had dinner with Norman (Bosseyed) Smith, now in his last year and President of the International Club (Cosmos). He had been up in London having an interview with some big business concern. He had plenty to say and I listened mostly. Old Beveridge was dining with a party of what might have been grandchildren. I gave a talk on the National Trust to a Scout and Guide group in a queer dilapidated hall, about 35, a young and lively, intelligent audience, quick, to laugh at any jokes, but full of difficult questions! Two young Keble men came up to me afterwards when they heard my college, and I was taken to the station in style in a taxi, arriving rather too early for the 9.50.
While I was waiting I heard the ticket collector enquiring after a passenger's health and the passenger the ticket collector's. I thought this rather odd and discovered on closer inspection it was Tom Armstrong, returning to London after rehearsing the St Mathew Passion. We travelled to Reading together and chatted over the past. He said he often thought of our tutor, Crab Owen, and his old Baedecker, now of course out of date. He had got balder and fatter and much more great man, but he was charming and courteous, courtly as ever.
Friday, Feb 22nd
Mary came to see me off on 9.45 to Gloucester. Visited cathedral, then had lunch at Boots, bought a leg of lamb and bottle of Graves and out to Holly Bush on bus. Molly came down to meet me, looking very wild and agricultural.
Saturday, Feb 23rd
A vile day, cold and raining. With great difficulty purchased razor blades in Newent - query a non-shaving area!
Monday, Feb 25th
A better day, milder and dry. Molly and I walked in the woods and picked some wild daffodils in bud for Mary, who met my train at Reading.
Thursday, Feb 28th
Posted air mail letters to Hilary from both Nora and myself explaining the situation. I hope he is not upset by our separation. Sent Mary a post card of Tintoretto's Ariadne and Bacchus for our anniversary tomorrow and bought a bottle of white Port.
March. Clem erupts. The other half of Plato's apple. The view from the headmaster's room.
Friday, March 1st
Friday, March 1st
Went over to dinner at The Ship to celebrate, but I wondered afterwards if we had done better at the G.W.R., which is now a Trust House. The service was very poor and the greens abominably cooked without any salt - and this is supposed to be Reading's best hotel. However we were very happy. Mary had sent me a lovely letter for the anniversary and I took her over a good big bunch of single snowdrops, which I found at the top of the bank, in a box full of green moss. As we lay in bed we could see the green of the corollas and the yellow pollen and the slightly bitter scent from the glass bowl beside the bed. Dear Mary, my darling heart.
Saurday, March 2nd
I did the deed! Wrote to Chorlton, the Director, saying I wanted to leave in the summer, also a personal note to Dorrell. Shall also have to write to Lady Helen.
It was a perfect spring day. In the evening after watching the School v the Old Boys we went to the dinner at the Red Lion. At any rate this year it was slick, all over by nine when a dance band started up next door. The meal itself was nicely cooked and well served. However there were some snags. The company was small, the staff and governors conspicuous by their absence and there were rather a lot of the Hobbs clan. Also in my speech I offended to susceptibilities of the senior master, and full of injured dignity, and also I suspect of Dubonnet, he came up to complain as soon as soon as we rose from the table. He is an ass! Nothing ever seems to go right with the Old Students' Association anyway.
Monday, March 4th
Not what you would call a really good day! Clem came in after prayers and erupted again. He really is a lunatic. I had insulted him in front of his wife and brother and sister in law. He need not have come back after the war! I did not appreciate the fact that he had! He could never be my friend and so on. He even went back to the fact that when he had brought "his beautiful bride" to the school I had expressed the hope that he would now use braces instead of fastening his trousers with string! I let him go on. Then I asked if I might say something. "Clem," I said, "you won't have to put up with my ineptitudes much longer. I am leaving at the end of next term." That checked the flow a bit and I got him out of the room. The head boy was waiting outside. I wondered how much he had heard.
I told Mrs Loader. She was very nice and said she had been so happy working for me. I also told Tom and Len as they were such old friends, but I found this more of a strain than I expected. Len of course in his usual way wanted to know why I was retiring, had I got another job. "What's the game? I thought we'd retire together."
Tuesday, March 5th
Three nice letters by the morning post from Tom Luker, MacCarthy and Dorrell. MacCarthy suggested the Governors might give me a dinner and wondered if I dined in the S.C.R at Balliol it might help get a university hostel job. I don't relish the prospect much.
Clem was very distant in the morning. I think he may have been nervous of my reactions, but he came in during the afternoon and was very amiable. Perhaps he felt rather a fool. I don't know.
Yesterday Nora went over to see Aunt and came back very alarmed about the housekeeper, who hasn't had a holiday for two years. Thinks she may break down with having the extra work of looking after Aunt in her bedroom. Aunt, of course, running true to her life-long form, can't see why the housekeeper can't conserve her energy by never going out and never writing letters.
Grivas' second in command was killed in a cave in the Troodos Mountains after a 10-hour gun duel. Hilary's battalion was not involved.
Friday, March 8th
Took Mary some yellow polyanthus. The garage gave me two gallons of petrol without coupons and said they could get me have some more if I wanted it. Perhaps Mary and I can go and watch hares. There does not seem to be a real shortage at the pumps.
Saturday, May 9th
Went over to Cyril. He was not in when I arrived and I felt quite nervous waiting till he appeared. He was very kind but we both felt rather awkward and ill at ease. I told him Nora and I had thought of separating before but decided not to do anything till Hilary was grown up.
Sunday, March 12th
More hurdles. Phyllis, Jimmie and Johnnie came to tea. However once Phyllis had realized that if you earned less you got more grant for a university education no further explanation was necessary. As Nora says, she has a tough ego!
Went to see the Wilk in the evening. She has aged a lot since Ioan's death, but her time in hospital has made her fatter. I was going to tell her about Mary, but decided not to. After all the fewer people who know about it the better and the only person in this neighbourhood is Cyril, and he does not know there is some one else.
I wrote to the Inspector of Anatomy to get the necessary forms to pass your body on to a medical school. Feeling a bit like that today, but anyway it seems a good thing as it saves your relatives a funeral, just as cremation saves them standing around in the cold and the rain.
Monday, March 11th
A marvellous letter from Mary about us. She said she had found the other half of Plato's apple. There was no need for me to worry about her. She knew what she was doing. She wanted to be there when I needed her. She was quite sure of that.
Tuesday, March 12th
The Govt Director of Anatomy wrote thanking me for my intention to help medical science (which was handsome for a Civil Service Dept) and enclosing forms for my executrix. In the afternoon showed Wilk the documents and we sat on two stools at the back of the biology lab discussing our intentions! They can keep your bits and pieces, if they see fit, for two years. Wilk's kidneys are so peculiar that anatomists ought not to miss them but she had not got it tidied up, so to speak.
Cut some of the grass again tonight and did a little gardening, but have now a good excuse for letting the garden go - and shall. Spring this year seems to have come with remarkable speed and to have caught us before we were expecting it. I have never known a spring term to pass so quickly.
Thursday, March 14th
At last a letter from Hilary arrived in answer to ours of Feb 28th. He replied briefly that Cheam seemed a good idea, but of course we should miss the country. No other comment of any kind!
A nice tea with Cherry. When I arrived I found her struggling to extract an H & P cake from a hermetically sealed tin for export. She had bought it because she thought it special, but woman like had no tin opener and utterly inadequate tools. By the time I arrived the tin had suffered various dents and rips, but the cake was still well inside! With great difficulty and infinite labour I eventually extracted it with one minor cut on one of my finger tips. The cake was lightly damaged; the tin was a wreck!
Satuday, March 16th
A frustrating day! Set off with Nora for London to go to theatre to mark her birthday. Five o'clock matinee of a play called Juliette and Romanoff recommended by Con. Frightful tripe. Couldn't hear although the actors shouted. Sat through the first act then came out. Too late to go to anything else, too early for a meal, so came home by 7 o'clock from Paddington. Have had no luck with plays recently.
Sunday, March 17th
Wind and rain. Not a very cheerful outlook. A strike in the shipyards and a threatened strike of engineers. Both sides in the shipyard strike bone- headed and obstinate - a miserable situation.
Monday, March 18th
When I came into my room at school on the first floor this morning, there was a gentle blue sky crossed by low and swiftly moving cumuli. I looked cross the valley to a vivid green field dotted with red and white cattle; some standing some lying down. The field was framed by a line of bare trees, among which were a few pines, and contained three circular coppices. Below was a neatly dug red-walled garden with some rows of daffodils on the left and a range of derelict greenhouses, mostly without any glass, on the right. Behind the daffodils rose a fine horse chestnut tree and a silver birch on the edge of the school lawn. I stood and listened to the various noises, the wind in the trees, the scrunching of coke being shovelled in the boilers, the uneasy shifting of chairs, and in the distance the voice of some one teaching. I have become so used to this now that I scarcely notice it on a busy morning, but this time next year some one else will have it to look at, and I hope enjoy.
Mary C told me Miss H was very pleased I had gone down to tell her on Saturday I was leaving and made some very nice remarks about me.
Tuesday, March 19th
Nora's 59th birthday. gave her some claret for lunch and Hilary's present of a Cypriot tea cloth and mats. Wilk came to lunch. I did not go into break and Mrs C announced that I was leaving as she thought the advertisement would soon be in and the staff should know!
Took Nora to see The Man in the Sky, Jack Hawkins who brings his plane in to land on one engine after the passengers have bailed out. He has to fly round the landing field for 25 minutes to exhaust his fuel and the film takes just that time to reach landing point. When he goes home he has a good row with his wife for refusing to abandon the plane. This sounds true to me!
Wednesday, March 20th
My room at school! When you walk in perhaps the first thing you notice are the heavy stone mullions and black iron work of the four-light "Tudor" window facing you. The room is a light and cheerful place with cream walls and apple-green dado, repeated on the picture rail and a beam, from which hang four glass "bottles" in their net picked up on a Cornish beach. To the left of the door is an oak table placed along the wall and beyond it a hideous knee-hole office desk which I have never used. Both of these are covered with books in piles or in trays, with boxes, files and card indexes in various degrees of disorder! In the middle of the floor stands a very solid waxed oak table at which I have sat and written my letters and interviewed all and sundry for 23 years. It has fewer papers, a couple of wire baskets and a red letter rack and white blotter.
I sit with the light on my left facing a brick fireplace and looking at a variety of objects displayed on the mantelpiece - a stone cat, a cast of a Corinthian pillar, a blue Chinese pot, some Roman coins, and two roots carved into fantastic shapes by Hilary when he was at Long Dene.
Over the mantelpiece hangs a Medici print of Luxcrezia Tuanobuoni welcoming the Graces and on the wall left a Swiss cuckoo clock which erratically cuckoos. The room contains two other pictures, an Edward Wadsworth still life of marine objects and Fouquet's Virgin and Child from Melun, which I brought back from the Paris Exhibition of 1937.
Thursday, March 21st
Cherry has had another dust up with Clem. He wished to announce my resignation. She said she was going to as deputy head. She won her point, but he wouldn't come in. The staff were rather knocked, what was I going to do? how old was I? Much to my surprize, old Wally expressed regret as I had left him to himself, whereas I always thought he resented my lack of interest in games and the cadets.
Friday, March 22nd
This afternoon I was invited to take the part of Alfred Doolittle in a Sixth form reading of Pygmalion.
Saturday, March 23rd
Had been intending to visit Aunt, but she has evidently taken offence because we have suggested her companion-housekeeper needed a holiday this summer, and wrote to say she wished the visit postponed. Good!
Sunday, March 24th
Most of my friends are women; I don't want to have to give them up if I marry Mary. Asked her what she thought about this, for we should not have any reservations or concealments and yet keep our own "private" things if we want to.
Monday, March 25th
Much cheered by a nice letter from Miss Owen. Leslie and Irene Bennett arrived for lunch - Christmas pudding with an extra spoonful of brandy for Leslie, fatter, balder and more talkative than ever! After lunch they gave a recital to the Fifths and the Sixths in the music room. Leslie did the talking and singing, though his voice at 62 long past its best, and Irene played the virginals and recorders. They came over to tea till about five, then departed, Leslie still in full spate - but he is a nice man, very fond of him, though exhausting.
Saturday, March 30th
Hilary and Jack Wray to lunch. Hilary had withdrawn her P.O. savings at the time of Suez and written to the P.M. and told him so. Nora regarded this as "integrity" - I suppose so but am not convinced.
Sunday, March 31st
What really happened last October is beginning to come out in France. The French were told Israel was planning an attack in Sinai and on October 15th Eden was warned. The next day he and the foreign secretary went to Paris and the invasion was planned, but the French to get him to agree had to accept "the embarrassing juridical fiction of an intervention designed to separate the combatants". The French were not bound by this. Their navy protected the Israel coast and their transport aircraft dropped supplies to the advancing Israeli army in Sinai from Cyprus! When Eden said the attack was a surprize "he was not lying, only his truth was 15 days out of date".
When on Nov 5th the French P.M. came to London he found a harassed invalid, at the end of his strength. On Nov 6th Eden decided on a ceasefire owing to pressure from Eisenhower and the fact that Mr Butler and eight of his other ministers were threatening to resign. He refused to delay it for 24 hours as the French wanted.
An abysmal mess. The French and ourselves were engaged in a joint enterprize for different reasons and with different objects. They had two allies, neither of which would speak to the other, but at any rate they were clear headed and honest, not hypocritical and muddled. How not to do things!
I came across a nice story of Hilaire Belloc this week which Ioan would have loved. His host bought a bottle of 3/6 Port at the off licence and decanted it, and presented it as the last bottle of his father's Port with details of date and place. Belloc drank it slowly - "A remarkable wine", he said at last, "an admirable wine. There is no reason to waste it on these young people", and he kept the decanter by him, pausing in his talk occasionally to refill his glass.