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Monday, 21 March 2011

1958 July-September

Married at last, and a new job - teaching maladjusted children.
Tuesday, July 1st
    Decided to put ads in Times Educational Supplement and New Statesman - latter for a progressive school.
    Mary has lumbago - not surprizing in view of weather. She is very sad about her father's hostility. He hardly speaks to her at the weekend, and if he does often makes a nasty remark, such as he can't think why she bothers to come home at all. This period ought to be very happy and it is in fact very gloomy.
Saturday, July 12th
    Mary's father thawing a bit and has asked her home for weekend after sending a message through mother, who was away to her brother's, that he did not need her. Went to the Registrar and arranged to be married to Mary at 3.30 next Wednesday afternoon. Cyril asked for it earlier as he would be late for his tea. Mary said it was her wedding and he could jolly well wait for for once for his tea!
Wednesday, July 16th
     Dull at first, cloud and some drizzle. Cleared later but muggy and oppressive. Met Mary for coffee at "the High". She looked pale but was cheerful. Her father had come round at last (though it would have saved wear and tear all round if he had done so sooner) and sent her an amiable letter with fifteen pounds.
    After lunch, while I was changing into my dark suit, a storm rolled up from the north-west. By 2.30 it was pouring down in sheets and it was lightning and thundering every few minutes. Mary wore a grey coat and skirt with a cream silk blouse and had made a charming jasmine spray. When we reached the Register Office, Cyril and Kay were waiting in the car outside. We were shown into a pleasantly furnished room with plants in pots and some watercolours on the walls. The Superintendent Registrar now appeared smartly dressed in a black suit with a grey silk tie and a rose in is buttonhole. We stood and declared that there was no impediment to our marriage and in turn that we took the other as husband and wife in the presence of witnesses. I the put the ring I had bought long ago on Mary's finger with the engagement ring. Mary was very pale and obviously moved as she made her declaration. We signed the register, as did the witnesses. Mary was handed her marriage lines and the Registrar and the Superintendent shook hands and wished us happiness. It was a short and simple but dignified ceremony.
    We drive back to tea at 64. Tea was laid in the study and there we found to our surprize and pleasure that Kay had got us a wedding cake. After tea we went into the sodden garden and took photographs. 
    At 6.45 met Kay and Cyril at the White Hart, Nettlebed, for dinner. We had sherry followed by Graves, Grape Fruit, Chicken, Raspberries and Ice Cream. The whole cost £3=9=6. About 9 Mary and I saw the Peaches off and set out for the flat. I told Mary I would try to make her a good husband and she said she would try to make me a good wife. Then home to Cyril's. 
Saturday, July 19th
    When I opened my post in bed I found a letter from a Mrs Moeran, Adlestrop Park, asking if I would like to teach a group of emotionally disturbed boys. She could offer good married accommodation. I immediately got out of bed and rang her up, told her I was coming and caught the first train to Kingham.
    I arrived not long after Mrs M had been to fetch an absconder from Didcot Police Station. The children appeared to be very emotionally disturbed by this incident indeed and it was some time before Mrs M was able to cope with me. The house was bare but clean. We had a pot of tea and then saw the natives, one party was splashing in a static water tank and cutting their bare feet on broken glass, another lot were climbing trees and others making a camp. We saw the gardens. The cottage had three small bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen, and downstairs W.C. cum bathroom. It was wired for power. 
    I liked Mrs M though I was not sure how scatty she was. You had, as she said, to be "emotionally unattached". Came home very favourably impressed with the cottage and position but wondered how we would cope with the maladjusted in close proximity. By the time I had answered all the questions Kay, Cyril an Mary asked, I felt maladjusted myself. Came home early to pack for honeymoon.
Sunday, July 20th
    We made an early start and ate Kay's excellent lunch on Salisbury Plain. Before this we went to look at the cranes and gear by which they had just raised the fallen trilithon at Stonehenge. Felt it would pay every time for more extensive re-erection, but even this modest effort has raised opposition in the press. 
    Turned off for Exmouth along the crest of Woodbury Common. The front, of course, was very crowded on a Sunday afternoon both with cars and people, but the view from our big bay window on the second floor [of Summer's Hotel] was magnificent, the whole sweep of the coast to Berry Head and the ever-changing tides of the estuary. Mary was enchanted. We sat in two armchairs in the window till the lights came on along the Promenade like strings of coloured beads.
    This was the first night of our honeymoon, the first, except once in April, for nearly a year. It was so lovely and satisfying and Mary was sweet and womanly. We both felt that happiness which is close to tears in the bodily fulfilment of lying together.
Tuesday, July 22nd
    To Shillingford to see Mother's and Father's grave and the Rectory, to Dunchideok for the screen and up to Haldon Belvedere. The view magnificent.
Wednesday, July 23rd
    Went on a trip along the coast towards Sidmouth in the M/V Devon Queen - was most enjoyable but saw how impossible Ladram Bay has become as I peered at the dense mass on the beach through my field glasses. In the afternoon we went to tea with Maud. Everyone very pleasant but I would have preferred to have had Maud on her own.
Tuesday, July 29th
    It was 19 years since I had been to Western Gap. It had always been an enchanted spot since Molly and I discovered it in the 1920's. It was so lonely then that we sometimes bathed without dresses. I wanted Mary to see it and hoped that it had not been exploited and spoilt like Sandy Bay and Ladram Bay. My heart sank to find a score of caravans by the farm at the top of the coombe and a concrete track half way down. We went down the path by the stream, very slippery after yesterday's rain, but all overgrown with hartstongue. This had not been altered; nor had the beach. There were a few people by the mouth, but the western end was deserted. The waves broke on the shingle beach and above us towered the red, green and grey cliffs circled by the kestrels. It was a firemaker's paradise, as it always used to be.  

Bank Holiday Monday, August 4th
    Drove Mary over to Oxford for lunch at Bainton Road. Mr Pierce was polite this time, but he's obviously a very spoilt old gentleman who has always got his own way and laid down the law to his family. I do not like him and I do not think he likes me in his house, either. Mary wisely went on with her ploys in the garden with him while I talked to her mother, whom I liked very much and kissed on departing.
Thursday, Aug 7th
    To Kingham by 2.30. Mrs Moeran waiting on platform. To Adlestrop in brake with a seat for Mary only and I had to perch on the wheel casing. Not very good for one's spine! We had a look at the cottage and then tea with Mrs M. and vague discussion of work, then Mary left to measure while I talked to Mrs M alone. Mary favourably impressed, bigger than she had imagined. Mrs M offered me the job and I accepted it. Hope I can stick it, that's all! Mary thought Mrs M very affected and wooly.
Sunday, Aug 10th
    Over to Henley Grammar School for the first time since I left. Found Tom and Len at home. Lipscombe away. Tom insisted on showing me the study: deep pile carpet, new paint, new fireplace, modern furniture, including chairs and desk, but walls covered with Cambridge groups all featuring the great what's it. Query? Mental age 20+. 
Tuesday, Aug 12th
    Bad day at Black Rock! A letter arrived from the Times Book Club saying they were closing the Reading Branch. Not unexpected, for there is not much future for the subscription library in the welfare state with an excellent public library service. Thought Mary would be glad to be relieved of it. I certainly shall after 18 years of listening to the difficulties of running it! Then there was the old perennial difficulty of coming quickly to what seems to me the simplest and most straight forward decision, like buying a pot of distemper. This has to be debated and approached with the most fearful caution, so that everything (again it seems to me) is made twice as hard work.
    There was hardly a smile all day. After supper tried to discuss cottage with Mary. I wanted a Dimplex radiator. She did not seem anxious to. I woke up in the middle of the early morning with a pain in my stomach and felt mentally awful. Lay awake and felt it was all a failure. Mary got out of bed, so I told her what I felt - that to keep her jollied up I needed enough gaiety for two. It was like rolling a heavy stone up hill and with the strain of a new job (of which I had grave doubts) I felt I could barely cope. 
Wednesday, Aug 13th
    Mary to Head Office. Branch to be closed end of September. Letter to be sent out end of month. Mary pleaded not to send them while she was there, so she was told she could leave a week early, which suits us very well as she can get flat ready for move.
Sunday, Aug 17th
     Drove with carpets, distemper and Mary to Adlestrop, rather over 2 hours, 112 miles. Green carpet [from School House, Henley] fitted sitting room, relieved to know. Went to see Mr Price with cleft palate who doubled in the role of stationmaster and postmaster. He agreed to distemper sitting room and two bedrooms. Measured windows for curtains and floors for lino. 
    Decided must have separate bedrooms. Mary could not cope with my snores. Depressed about this. Second bedroom gloomy and bad shape so nothing for it but tiny bedroom which will just take bed and chest of drawers. Outlook at back over a thistle patch surrounded by trees. Got very tried standing about and driving 100 miles. Find it very difficult to cope with Mary's painful slowness, did not get supper till 8.30, and her reluctance to make up her mind. Result: another attack of depression, snored (?), Mary did not sleep. Felt married life not what I had hoped! Must take rough with the smooth.
Wednesday, Aug 20th
    Visited Ministry of Labour to see if I could get unemployment pay. Wood (late of fifth form, 1957) issued me with a card and instructed me about signing on on Wednesdays and Fridays. "This situation Wood", I said, "is not without its comic side!"
Friday, August 22nd
    To Ministry of Labour to sign on. Had to go early as going up to London to get new belt and meet Hilary. Allowed to do so as clerk said I had an honest face. He informed me that did not pay out before 12 as claimants put money on horses!
    Hilary arrived with a short beard and a fine fuzzy whisker. Told him on no account to remove it before photographed. Had been to Knossos, Olympia, Delphi, Mycenae. Particularly enjoyed Crete, to which flew, then back by Naples, Pompei, Florence, Pisa, Genoa, Turin.
Friday, Aug 29th
    Went round to the flat and found Mary very lit up after sherry party at Heelas, which after all the moaning and groaning and complaining, she had thoroughly enjoyed. Some one had given her an early morning tea set the same as our dinner service. She had various other presents and many appreciative letters.
Saturday, August 30th
    Mary returned to sleep at St Edwards- very tired. Her last day at the Library after 33 years (aet. 15 to 48). [First years, however, in Times Library in Oxford].
Wednesday, Sept 3rd
    Wilk came over to coffee this morning, bringing a copy of her new biology book. It suddenly occurred to me that this might be the answer to variety in work. Why not elementary biology! 
    Very busy the last three days shopping and packing up flat. The men arrive to pick up Mary's stuff at flat tomorrow and move off at beginning of day on Saturday.
Friday, Sept 5th
    Started at eight. Kay to my surprize overcome with emotion on saying goodbye.  Cyril did not appear as he was lying in bed listening to the news! When we got to Adlestrop found the van already there. The foreman immediately told us that the wardrobe would not go up the stairs and he did not think the beds would either. Mrs Moeran was not there and had done nothing. The water did not work properly, the electricity had not been connected, the cottage had not been cleaned, the back door had no key. Mrs Moeran was vague to the point of half-wittedness and disappeared to the top of the house, where she was difficult to find. The men said they thought they might be able to get the bed through the upstairs window if a ladder could be found. With much difficulty this was procured  but it would not go up. They proposed to saw off the legs, but I suggested the supports of the head boards instead. With this they finally got them in, much to our relief. The wardrobe proved impossible and was put in the next, empty cottage. 
Tuesday, Sept 9th
    We worked hard at the weekend, cleaning, putting up curtains, trying to find out what tradesmen delivered, when buses ran and so on. In Stow found a fireman who was ex cabinetmaker and he dismantled and reassembled the wardrobe, much to Mary's relief.
Thursday, Sept 18th
    The cottage delightful; the maladjusted horrible. Had to tell Mary I would probably pack up! 30 periods teaching, no free periods, one grown up for two periods at a time, on finishing teaching 4.15, on duty to 8.30 - is just not good enough. Mrs M vague and affected, art man might come in a year! no matron, no other teacher except "Whisker", Mr Hemming, who refuses to do anything indoors. Alas, too, Mrs M no organizer or expositor. Knows the snags of eggs at tea, extra bread, etc, but fails to warn you so you are always left to find out the hard way from your mistakes.
    I am maladjusted to the maladjusted, I've concluded. They quarrel, fight and scream (with or without bad language) continually. Each one is convinced he is being unfairly treated and in consequence the whole group is on a hair trigger, one extra spoonful of jam, one mild criticism, and the whole lot go up in  flames. There is no "give" and it is all "take". Tea is a shambles, but because knives or milk bottles are not actually thrown,  Mrs M seems satisfied.
    Any attempt to prevent whistling and singing in my group means turning people out and this provokes endless accusations, denials and recriminations. This has all to be gone into, Mrs M appears to think, and an attempt made to reason with the malads, who are masters of lying, equivocation, and self-exceptionalism, "Please, Sir, it wasn't me, it was him."
    After a few days of this my mind got so tired I just could not think, or answer the simplest questions, when I staggered across to the cottage at supper time. I was not used to the atmosphere of lies and double dealing. Sometimes it seemed a hateful place and I dreaded going back to teaching these hooligans. I realized with a shock that it was days since I had found time to look at the sky or do any reading apart from the preparation of lessons, which I have taken more trouble over for these bastards than I ever did for the first forms at HGS!
Saturday, Sept 20th
    Not a good day yesterday. Trouble with the sulky Michael and the evil John (son of stevedore who had been gaoled for attempted murder of his wife, and to us from a children's mental hospital), but able to sit down a bit more and felt less exhausted physically. 
    Mr and Mrs Pierce came to lunch. it was difficult to keep the old man away from the boys, but highly necessary! After seeing them off from Kingham after tea we drove to Icomb and Bourton on the Water. Alas! a great modern school has been built next to the Crab's cottage and the whole placed tripperized by the coach companies. 
Sunday, Sept 21st
    To church in morning. Lennie tried to crawl under the seat to attack the boys in front.
Monday, Sept 22nd
    Back to gangsters. Tea was high class today, no bottles or knives hurled across the table. Graham used his milk straw as a phallus. Like Queen Victoria, I was not amused. Still don't know if help is at hand.
Tuesday, Sept 23rd
    Help arrived in the person of Dr Barrington, music, Dublin. A very queer cove who looked as if, and indeed he may have come out of a mental hospital.
Wednesday, Sept 24th
    Managed to get 20 minutes with Mrs M in her flat. Am to do nothing after tea about 6.30. Dr B will then take over.
Thursday, Sept 25th
     Got on better with lessons. Managed to sit more and when Graham mocked me before tea gave a great shout and sent him to dormitory. This rather frightened the natives.
Sunday, Sept 28th
    Church not so good. A fight developed on the way back. Katherine, who was reading the lessons, broke down and the rest started giggling. Anyway, while supervising the letter writing, did get the blackboard raised, which means i shall not have to kneel down to write on it!
Monday, Sept 29th
    Not much fun teaching the niggers. Had to turn Michael out for making remarks. I went to take over my class at 4.15. no one turned up for half an hour. Felt frustrated and unhappy, which I have not often felt in teaching.
Tuesday, Sept 30th
    My first afternoon off till tea at 6.0. As usual in this place there was a hitch. No baker had called and there was only one slice of bread each. Dates and biscuits were issued. and half an orange. I took care to dole out the dates myself, but there was trouble with the orange skins and the unspeakable Michael smeared his face with milk and then wiped it on his sleeve, John started beating up two small boys when my back was turned, and Graham started screaming, finally the epileptic David refused point blank to do what I asked him. In the end I had four people out. Came back to supper fed with niggers as usual.

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