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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

1958 October - December

"A race horse pulling a dung cart"

Tuesday, Oct 7th
   Heard from one of the children that Mr Hemming had left.  Asked to leave because he believed in too much freedom. Hilary says I shall be asked to leave because I believe in too much discipline. Lessons were much easier today and only in the morning, so felt less tired.

Wednesday, Oct 8th
   Tried the niggers on parts of flowers, but they were inclined to fool about with magnifying glasses and tear specimens to bits. Though I am finding the teaching easier, I don't enjoy it because impossible to like the natives.

Thursday, Oct 9th
   It was a better day, so leaving a note for the fishmonger and collecting a dozen eggs in my sun hat (no sun), we drove to Chastleton, but the time was too short and I got very weary. We were shown round by a very dirty and unkempt gentleman (Mr Clutton-Brock "on the whiskey") with long fingernails, hands stained brown, the heir to Miss Wittmore Jones, and seemed interested when I told him of my time at Claydon and enquired anxiously how many we got and whether there was a book.

Sunday, Oct 12th
   Not a good day. Mrs M asked me to take four of the smallest children for over an hour while the others were singing and read to them as she was off. Dr B went on so long the tea was not laid, but when I went into the kitchen nothing was ready as the cook had gone to sleep till a quarter to six. The usual muddle and lack of organisation that I associate with Mrs Moeran. The senior children were noisy and inclined to be insolent. Because he was so bad, the unspeakable Michael had been kept on duty for another week. I came back utterly fed up with the whole place. On such days I hate the entire set up and hope the Trust will hurry up and find something for me. I suppose I was a fool to come here, but I wanted a roof over our heads, some money, and opportunity to show Mr Pierce I was not "living on friends". I have always enjoyed teaching. I don't here.

Wednesday, Oct 15th
   Day began badly with Michael stalling in first lesson. He fails to open book at the right page, then asked "what are we to do". I tell him. He groans. I say if he does not want to do the exercise he can read his book. He does not like the book. I feel infuriated - a race horse pulling a dung cart!

Sunday, Oct 19th
   In church in morning when asked to take round the bag, Jennifer suddenly announced, "I don't believe in God!". The vicar was a bit taken aback, but the bag was passed to Frances, who performed adequately.

Tuesday, Oct 21st
   Paul threw a pear slice yesterday; he said Graham had started it. When I confronted them this morning Graham remarked, "Mrs Moeran knows we are both liars, but you are a bigger liar than I am!"
   Last night we had this curious creature Dr Barrington in to coffee. He arrived at 9.45 and left at 11.15. Mary wondered what she should talk about, but she need not have bothered. He never stopped - one unending flow about the children and the school. Neither of us could get a word in to prime him with the necessary questions. A dedicated man* who wants to get a diploma in social science, no companion. I fear for Mary and me.
*Later addition: A loony - as disturbed as the children!

Wednesday, Oct 22nd
   Pymone (Mrs M) was in a very bad temper and the children were very jumpy and difficult in the morning. However my lesson on wasps' nests went over well. After tea Mrs M went to bed and left Dr B and me to cope. I read in the parlour when four boys who had been left in the playroom tried to disrupt the reading. Keith, who was in there after his bath showing most of private parts, rushed out and bawled, "You bugger off!". They did! For once I had maladjusted opinion on my side! (Keith, a large elderly boy with bad eye sight and some failure of muscular coordination, always made me think of Caliban!)
Friday, Oct 31st
   Another talk with Mary. Same old stuff. I don't like her parents. I don't realize the problems of old age and so on. Why can't I go to another school if I don't like this one.

Saturday, Nov 1st
   How pleased I am to see Saturday, my day off from all duties and teaching. After shopping in Moreton, we drove by Ford and Stanway to Stanton Buckland. Stanton I thought most rewarding and delightfully situated under the hills. The church had a fine spire and had been much enriched by the Studd family with a very dark rood screen through which glowed one of Comper's gold reredoses.
Tuesday, Nov 4th
   Cherry came to tea today on her way back from Wales to Henley. She stayed til nearly seven. She seems so happy at her new school at Slough and so much more normal in every way, less nervous and a good colour instead of pasty white. Lipscombe, by a characteristic piece of meanness, had prevented her thanking the children for her present, but she had written a letter to each.

Thursday, Nov 6th
   The girls were in purdah. I asked Dr B why they were. He replied "sexual malpractices." I realize no one ever laughs in this school. You cannot make a joke. It is misunderstood. That is one difference between the maladjusted and the normal.

Wednesday, Nov 112th
   Mary had a cold but went into Chipping Norton to shop. Still no heat in school. Children, who have only cotton pullovers, frozen. Quite ridiculous. Don't want to speak to Mrs M in front of children, but can't get hold of her alone. (Later addition: This was a part of the Moeran evasive tactics].

Saturday, Nov 15th
   Met Marjorie Wilkinson in Chipping Norton at 2.40. She was in full spate about Lipscombe all the afternoon and evening. The Prefects had included my name on their list of guests, but had been told he was not going to have a divorced man in his school! According to rumour I am now working in a borstal and Hilary has quarrelled with me!
   The man is a case. It seems he buys expensive equipment and to avoid paying breaks things which are under guarantee. But he's not only a crook. He must be suffering from some feeling of insecurity or inferiority, which makes him so fearfully jealous of me and so concerned to damn everything connected with my headship. He gets into these white rages when he is quite manic. Wilk said she really thought he might attack her when she refused to become senior mistress.

Thursday, Nov 20th
   When I went over in the morning Mrs M greeted me with the news that Dr B had gone off the rails again. Would I be careful not to lend him any money! She took him up to the doctor at Stow, leaving the children to get on as best they could by themselves. He did not appear again.

Tuesday, Dec 2nd
   Dr Barrington has been handing our rosaries. Mrs M said prayers had been said a holy water used in the dormitories and parent's might not like it. It seems Dr B wants to make trouble for Mrs M.

Thursday, Dec 4th
   Dr B and Mrs M had a slanging match before the children last night, so Miss Birch (matron) informed Mary this morning. He has been here on and off for three years and never finished a term.  This time she is determined he shall. It is a very queer relationship, made queerer by the fact that Jeremy loathes him and can hardly keep his hands off him when he starts abusing his mother. It is great pity she is not in a position to pack him off, though from my point of view any man is better than no man at all!

Saturday, Dec 6th
   Met Arthur Lane off the 11.28 at Kingham. He was thinner than ever. Took him to Bledington to see the glass, which he enjoyed. In the morning there was a meet near. The hounds ran through the wood near the house and across the walled garden. When we came back from Kingham, the white entrance gate was shut with two boys guarding it. Mrs M, a reader of the New Statesman, does not approve of the chase! and this has not endeared her to the locals.
Tuesday, Dec 9th
   Went to Dr King about two o'clock. A rather cold man, but perhaps unduly professional first time. His consulting room very much a snuggery, small and a bit scruffy compared with Dr Irvine and Dr Hartley.
   A long and rather incoherent letter from Wilk. A three hour staff meeting at which Lipscombe lost his temper, they started shouting at each other and finally it broke up. Wilk thinks he may have given himself away and devoutly hopes he has. Suggested I should write to Dr Irvine as it may help to counter rumours that she thinks Mr L may be spreading about me and Nora. Did so.

Friday, Dec 12th
   We had a carol rehearsal yesterday afternoon in the church for which the rector appeared. Graham accused the back row of singing obscene words to the carols (I could not hear them amid general cacophony), but I could observe his grimaces and gestures intended to set the others laughing. Barrington is no good at training a choir. I have never hear Once in Royal David's City sung more slowly. It might have been funeral march.

Saturday, Dec 13th
   One of the wettest autumns for a long time.Very raw, glass low this morning. Drove to Camden in the morning. Tea, two crumpets each and meringues. When we came out of the café in the dark we saw the hounds of the North Cotswolds come running silently along the pavement under the lamplight with the huntsmen riding beside them. Its complete unexpectedness made it most vivid.

Sunday, Dec 14th
   Well, who would have thought a year ago that I should be reading the lesson at a carol service in Adlestrop church, but I was today. Policed by Mrs L, Dr B and myself it all went off very well - except of course for the actual sound, which was pretty nasty - still it pleased the villagers no end.

Tuesday, Dec 16th
   A party with Christmas Tree, cake, presents, candles in oranges and a log fire and orangeade. Dr M sold some cigarettes to the German cook and went off to the pub with the money to, so he said, get drunk. Anyway he was not there to get them to bed after Mrs M had sweated blood to get the food and so on ready.

Thursday, Dec 18th
   Monty was sent to summon me to supervise the cleaning of the schoolroom tables with Gumption. The niggers went off in two station waggons at half past twelve. They had on the clothes provided by their parents and some looked frightful. Michael Robinson, the chief gangster, was in a loud tie, a tartan shirt and a coat much too big for him.
Sunday, Dec 21st
   Had my first talk of any length with Pymonie since I began. She said she liked having me here and the children liked my lessons. It was related that Dr Barrington was not coming back next term. It would be too much of a strain. Good for one reason, but sorry for another, for he did all the evening work from 6.45 onwards. She talked vaguely about getting a junior teacher, but since she is going to Austria for a fortnight, nothing is likely to be done about it. My guess is we shall start with Pymonie, Jeremy and myself.
Christmas Day
   It was foggy and I took the precaution of taking my "night bag" when we set off for Oxford. Cars had their headlights on. Arrived at Bainton Road about 12. Mr Pierce rather jumpy because Mary's mother had had another attack of sickness. She seemed all right today. I was given a set of silver crowns from Edward VI to Elizabeth II to look at. We had a huge turkey and an excellent Christmas pudding, of which I ate too much. After dinner Mrs Pierce showed me family photographs. M's father presented her with his case of C17th tradesmen's tokens. He both spoils and dominates her. It began to rain after lunch, which cleared the fog. Soon after 8 we set off for Adlestrop. It was an easy drive in spite of the rain for there was little on the roads. The fire had gone out, but we went to bed and were very happy and successful, as on Christmas Eve as well. It was an unusual day for both of us, but a happy one.
Wednesday, Dec 31st
   What a year it has been! Not one like it for screws since 1942, or change in domestic life since 1933! Fortunately one's memory of pain quickly fades and the orthopods do seem to have done my back good. Mary and I adjusting to our new life together - more upheaval for her than for me - for her total change of job and environment. Anyway we end the year married and with a roof over our heads, which considering the first three months of 1958 is, as the Americans say, something!  

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