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Monday, 21 March 2011

1958 April - June

What a trial parents are! Mary's father cuts up rough. 
Thursday, April 3rd
   My darling Mary arrived about 5.30. A lovely dinner, afterwards hair clipped and trimmed, then feet soaked and skin removed, toe nails cut and socks changed.

Good Friday, April 4th
   Walked round garden in sun and east wind. Must have fresh air! After lunch we lay on  my bed for first time for three months till tea was brought in. Had my hair washed. Very set up. This was the longest time we had together since January, but at 6.0 she had to go. Hated it and felt very sad and lonely.

Saturday, April 5th
   Got Miss Morris to buy me a pair of plywood tongs from the Baths - 9/6, which I thought plenty. Still with these I could could manage pants, trousers, everything except shoelaces.

Monday, April 14th
   To Woodlands. The bisected corset was opened and snapped off. A fresh jacket was put on after I was well oiled. This too was bisected and taken off to be used as cast for polythene model. I was rather surprized to learn that this will take six weeks.

Sunday, April 20th
   France has no government. It has been thrown out by a coalition of Communists and extreme right over Algeria. They cannot form a government, but they can prevent the centre-right from doing so. France has become the problem child of N.A.T.O. The French cannot win the war against the Algerian rebels, but no minister dare admit this. They have a bear by the tail and can't let go.

Monday, April 21st
   Doctor, to my great surprize and pleasure, said he saw no reason why I should not drive the car for short distances when I got back to Reading.
   Waited anxiously to hear whether for Mary had told her parents of our intended wedding. She had!! When they had had time to think it over, they were pleased. All these years Mary has had to bear the burden of concealment from her parents. Now it has been lifted. I am so relived and delighted for her sake as well as my own.

Tuesday, April 22nd
   A letter from Mr Pim. The decree became absolute yesterday, 4 weeks after nisi. Very curious to feel bachelor again. Wrote to Mary after lunch and sent her Pim's letter. 

Saturday, April 26th
    Caught the 1.31 from Droitwich. Very thrilled with sight of real county, lambs, primroses, cowslips, the Cotswolds and Oxford. Mary met me on the platform at Reading to help me down the stairs and put me in a taxi for St Edwards where I arrived for tea.

Monday, April 28th
   Got out car from garage and all things considered found it easier and more comfortable to drive than I expected after seven months. We pottered along to Nettlebed and by Huntercombe to the Long Grasses. We walked up to the barn. On the way up the hill we saw a male hare chasing a female. Every time he caught up with her and clasped her round the middle ready to begin, she broke away and the pursuit recommenced. This happened three or four times in the middle of the great field of winter corn. Finally they disappeared, still pursuer and pursued, over the skyline. We had never seen anything like this before in watching hares on the Downs. Mary laughed and asked me how I would like to run and run but never catch up!

Tuesday, April 29th
    Drove through Henley bold as brass about half past eleven. Met no sunken rocks. Through Marlow to Cliveden. I have never seen it more lovely at any time. It was heaven to be with Mary among all this beauty.

Thursday, May Day
   Mary over to Oxford to help complete spring cleaning. She asked me not to write as her father would be curious about letters.

Sunday, May 4th
   Met Mary at flat at 9.30 to hear her news. It was disappointing. When she got home full of her holiday in the earlier part of the week, she found her father in a tizzy. He had spent his time chewing over all the possible snags - "no job, living on capital, giving up her job at the library, carried away". I am glad to say she told him she was no longer a girl, but a mature woman of 48 who might be expected to know her own mind. Her mother sounded much more sensible, but does not count for a great deal. As he said they had been told nothing, I thought my long letter (to them) rather wasted.

Wednesday, May 7th
   To supper with Mary at Cyril's. Much amused by case of woman shut in  lavatory at Harlow, who appealed to the High Court. She tried to get out over the top, but had to give up. Climbing from the seat she had trodden on the toilet roll. This had revolved and she had fallen. Judgement was 75% council's fault and 25% her fault for treading on the roll!

Wednesday, May 14th
   To Oxford by 8.30 Cathedrals Express. It suddenly occurred to me to visit Mary's parents, so rang them up. I got rather an unexpected reception. Mrs Pierce was nice and friendly, but Mr Pierce was as awkward as he knew how to be and cross questioned me in a distinctly hostile way.  Nothing was right! No home, no job, no money! Was I proposing to "live on his daughter". Was I living "on friends""?  Was I even properly divorced or only separated? I told him I was divorced but refused to go into details. Had I left the grammar school because of divorce? Was there a scandal?  Everything I said was twisted to my disadvantage, whether he knew what he was talking about or not, even the fact that I had not taken my M.A.!    
   I was polite, did not answer back, and kept my temper,  but after an hour of trying to break out of this conversational circular track by references to the garden, the cat, my family, I left. I had had more than enough of this very difficult old gentleman, who accused me at one point of "keeping something back" and made me wonder whether he suspected me of having got Mary with child!

Tuesday, May 20th
   Today heard from Mary. As I feared Mr Pierce had attacked her on Saturday and gone over the same old ground again. "I had not told them anything" and so on. "We were not to get married in July. If we did neither of us would be welcome in his house again!" I wrote to her and said that if every weekend between now and July is to be taken up with an argument about our marriage, it might be an idea to go to the Registry Office and settle the matter. I am very sorry. It is hard on Mary's mother and might with a little good will have been so different and happier for all concerned. He will probably now set to work to dig out the case to find out what were the grounds and who's the correspondent. Much good that will do anyone!

Saturday, May 24th
   Saw Mary off at 5.30 for Oxford. Told her to come back to Reading if necessary and phone me. She was fortified with some pink sleeping pills. No use lying awake all night as happened last Saturday.

Whit Monday, May 26th
      The French possibly on verge of civil war. Algeria in revolt, followed by Corsica. Army of doubtful loyalty. De Gaulle ready to assume power, whereon Communists to declare a strike. "Oh, I don't know", as Cyril keeps saying of his staff difficulties!

Tuesday, May 27th
   A very nice letter from Lady Helen who said she now has a "distaste' for Henley Grammar School. Don't wonder! Another from Denys Thompson, who had been ill with blood pressure. Denys said he liked quiet, but his wife (a town councillor) and family did not. Mary amused me by pointing out that most of my married friends, when told I have been divorced, write to tell me how difficult their wives are!
   A lovely day. Sat out in the sun in the garden in the afternoon, but my left arm hurt and I had an attack of depression, thought what a dreadful year since August it has really been. The family row at Oxford raises its ugly head just when we were planning to get married. Mary's mother had an attack of sickness last week. She had hardly arrived when her Father remarked that he did not think her mother would be long with them. Piling on the agony, I say. An armed truce prevailed, but Mrs Pierce spoke of me and realized that I had spent the weekend alone while Mary went home to scrub - and arrived back on Sunday night absolutely knocked. Mrs Pierce's migraine probably brought on by his bad temper and abuse of Mary on Saturday a week ago. What a trial parents are!

Wednesday, June 4th
   To Clivedon with tea. Rhododendrons magnificent. On the way back we called in on the Wilk in Henley. She was very excited by our appearance and never stopped talking. She had refused to accept job as senior mistress when Cherry got a job in Slough, though almost bullied into it by Lipscombe, until Majorie Hunter told her she would be letting the side down. He has now appointed a woman from Gillots. He is a cad!
   De Gaulle voted into power by the Assembly under threat of civil war, goes to Algiers. Will he be able to enforce a settlement?

Friday, June 20th
   Last day of the bus strike so had to meet Nora at Paddington. Fortunately the rain stopped so we were able to eat sandwiches in a garden near the station. I had not seen Nora since the middle of last November and had forgotten how old she looked and how pale her face was. She said she was much happier and settled.

Sunday, June 23rd
    Cherry, looking chalk-white and twitching, came to tea. The A.M.A. secretary had visited Lipscombe and one hopes put the fear of God into him.

Tuesday, June 24th
   Gabbitas, fat partner like Prince Regent but most amiable, produced card from 1929. Ink went a bit faded. Went through the particulars, very apologetic when asking for a reference. [Gabbitas & Thring, a job agency for teachers]
   After lunch set off to Euston Square to find out about pension. Thought I would whizz up in the lift and have a word with Miss Hastings, the A.M.A. secretary who interviewed Lipscombe. It was worth it. She was a splendid person of great integrity. Lipscombe seemed to her immature, like a school prefect, and very ill advised. She told him he could not set his judgement against 20 years of experience (me) or the Ministry's report (Lady H) and that he knew nothing of co-education, so she may have made a slight scratch on the rhinoceros hide of his self conceit.

Friday, June 27th
   Called on Marjorie Hunter yesterday and told her of Miss Hastings. While there Doreen Cook came in and gave a warm invitation to go and see them. Marjorie H said Clem, now made deputy head, had come out of it very badly; "always thought he was queer, now know he is crooked as well."

Sunday, June 29th
   Wettest June for 60 years, floods and swollen rivers.

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