Thursday, 3 May 2012
Thursday, Jan 1st - Celebrated day by going to chiropodist for the first time to have a toe improved. Practitioner [in Reading] an old H.G.S boy.
(There is an index for 1959 at the foot of this blog)
Friday, Jan 2nd - Went to Henley in morning. Dropped in to Mary C's where ran into old Mrs Cook and her parents. Much gossip. Mr Cook suddenly an old man at 65.
Saturday, Jan 3rd - I left for Sutton. I went via Trafalgar Square and just looked in at the National Gallery. It took me three hours and I just reached 45 Lenham Road at 1 o'clock. Had a nice long gossip to Nora all about Mrs M and the niggers, but I think Hilary a bit bored as he's heard it all before. Hilary very silent. Nora said it would be better if he minded our separation more.
Sunday, Jan 4th - Got the 3.30 from Paddington and reached Mary at Cyril's for tea. We were delighted to be together again after a week and embraced in Mary's bed.
Monday, Jan 5th - Drove back to Adlestrop. Is it a mistake to leave home at Christmas? The cottage freezing and very slow to heat.
Tuesday, Jan 6th - Had to get up early and return to Reading by rail to fetch case with razor and Collins' Guide to Churches, which I had purchased and left behind, not to mention umbrella. In old age one is easily diverted and forgets what one is about.
A charming letter from Lady H. Said one must not say I was wasted at Adlestrop, but rather how lucky they were to get me.
Wednesday, Jan 7th - Snow, which stopped the public clocks at 1.20 a.m., melted into deep slush by morning through which one paddled in Wellingtons with freezing feet and hot head. January at its worst.
Thursday, Jan 8th - A hard frost and more snow in the night made the roads like glass. We didn't leave the cottage but carpentered and cleaned up the oak chairs with wool, making them several shades lighter. Mary's father had given her his set of Oxfordshire tradesmen's tokens and she worked at identifying and arranging them.
I received a postcard from Mrs M at Salzburg. She intends to return one day before term so there will be a fine muddle.
Find I have visited 258 of the 4000 churches listed in Collins Guide to the English Parish Churches. I tell Mary plenty yet to see!
Tuesday, Jan 13th - Feel I ought to keep this as a day of morning since a year ago I was struck down by sciatica, or low back pain as the doctors call it, at Droitwich. Like Mr Pepys and his cutting for the stone!
It froze hard over the weekend and the road through the village became so glassy we could not safely get to the pillar box. Yesterday we remained indoors.
A nice letter from Mr McCarthy. He said how futile the governors were. "One might have supposed that one of the university representatives would have been on the appointments committee." One well might unless one knew Henley and its limited parochial outlook.
We drove with caution this afternoon to Bourton-on-the-Water, where I discovered a photographer who let me have some half plate negatives to use for the glass for insect cages. Of course he knew "Mr Owen and his boys". "I", I said, white haired and nearing 60, "am one of his boys." Bourton looked lovely with its snow covered grass verges and hardly anyone about.
Wednesday, Jan 14th - We drove to Upton House. The roads were not bad. Snow lay thick on the drive to the house. It was too cold and difficult to see much of the outside of the house and the inside was far from warm. We were the only visitors. An elderly party showed us round. She knew nothing at all, but we had a catalogue. We saw the Stubbs, El Greco, Tintoretto, Bosch, etc, I had travelled to Whitechapel to see in 1955.
We reached home in hard frost and freezing ourselves about 6.0. At any ate we made the visit we had long planned for this holiday. When we entered the lodge gates and started up the long avenue covered by snow we could see nothing and it appeared to lead nowhere; gradually out of the mist the shadow of a house appeared, at first almost wraith-like, but becoming more substantial as we approached. It might have been Swan Lake!
Saturday, Jan 17th - The cold broke in heavy rain. Floods are now promised. The workmen pointed out that a pipe had burst in the boys' WC and when it thawed the ground floor would be flooded. By using a candle to melt the frozen stopcock we eventually got it shut off. Mary said scatty people like Pymonie always fall on their feet.
Tuesday, Jan 20th - Pymonie only arrived with the children to-day! I went over to Kingham. You could hear them even before the train went out. Hordes of parents were waiting. I was put on duty indefinitely in the beastly play room where they fought and shouted from 2 till 4. The whole building struck chill into you and I sat wrapped in leather jacket and duffle coat on a hard chair, freezing, listening to the bawling and shouting. Damn Pymonie!
Wednesday, Jan 21st - Lessons were supposed to start, but Pymonie was doing the cooking as the German had not arrived. No permit had been sent by P from this end. That left Jeremy and myself. I took my group, he was in charge of the rest, poor chap.
Thursday, Jan 22nd - A frightful row at tea. When Pymonie eventually appears, says meals are to be in silence, if not they will be turned out of the dining room and have food put in the boot locker room where they can eat it how they like.
Friday, Jan 23rd - Cook returns. Even a little helps. No chance of any staff this term I should say. This place is a god damn swindle with no staff!
Saturday Jan 24th - Our haystack anniversary of 1940. We decided to go to the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge and set off about eleven. It was sunny but extremely cold. We were able to see great flocks of wild geese on the flats from the 50ft tower There were not many people about and that made it easier to see the birds. I enjoy the lovely colours and contrasting patterns of the ducks, but I have given up trying to memorize the names. First visit to Slimbridge was in 1949.
Saturday, Jan 31st - A very satisfactory day off in Cheltenham. Bought a good selection of children's books from Mr Martin of Heynes' bookshop. Enquired about investment of Mary's superannuation money at two building societies and finally decided would do just as well in a Trustee Savings Bank. Bought a green table cloth to set off our new tea service and wandered round looking at shop windows. Nice to stroll in such civilized surroundings.
Sunday, Feb 1st - To church with the niggers at 10 o'clock. They rush across the garden to wait at the iron gate into the churchyard, where, sometimes before I arrive to lead them in, a quarrel has already arisen! A final quietening down before west door and we proceed up the aisle. The girls in the front row; then David and Ronald; immediately in front of me the two troublemakers, Kinch and Paul; on either side of me Colin and Graham; behind the comparatively harmless Keith and Allan. The Rector comes down and gives out the stamp for the day. Those who have cards stick them in, those who have not may do anything with them, fix them on the seat or their person!
The service consists of a lesson and five hymns which the Rector plays on the harmonium. He comes down to the aisle and gives a little talk after a child has read the lesson. The church is dark and dreary because the predominant colour is chocolate brown, and very cold.
The girls, Jennifer, Kathleen and Frances, were a nuisance in tea and after tea was over Mrs Moeran completely lost her temper with Jennifer and started shouting "I'll box your ears, I'll box your ears" at a pitch of manic intensity I had never heard before. Even to hear this going through the kitchen door was very exhausting and rather disturbing. I suppose she had reached breaking point because Jeremy was away. There was no physical, only emotional, heat all day.
Monday, Feb 2nd - Graham, Paul and Kinch made noises, bubbled the milk, blew orange pips, etc. Mrs M agreed to turn them out to have their tea on a tray in the unheated boot locker room where they could do what they liked and behave how they liked. Fine, I say!
Tuesday, Feb 3rd - The head of a school for maladjusted boys in Herefordshire turned up at the school and have lunch - a Mr Wills, a Quaker - I thought he was running his own show, so was a bit diffident of asking him too many questions, but it turned out he was warden for the Birmingham Educational Committee. I thought him a bit too pleased with himself and heavy going. Pymonie had obviously been vague about staff and when she went out of the room he started questioning me. I began to wonder if I had been asked to have coffee as Exhibit A to show what a good highly-qualified staff she had.
Tea was very pleasant tonight without the boot locker denizens.
Wednesday, Feb 4th - From the teaching point of view, all went very well today. I don't know how the poor sods in the cold and filthy boot locker are getting on and how much they mind the mud apart from the cold. Graham has been so battered by the ills his behaviour brings that I should think life holds few surprizes for him
Mrs M is much more cheerful. It was amusing to see how critical she was of Mr Wills' school - no uniform, no Wellingtons, clothes thrown away instead of being mended. She even offered to take me with her when she went to see it.
Thursday, Feb 5th - Mrs M put all the tables in the dining room and without the boot locker gang it seemed to work well. The joke then was to call "Waiter" when I handed round the extra bread. The clearing was much easier, though the niggers are without exception all "old man of Thermopylae who never do anything properly".
Saturday, Feb 7th - To Stratford to see Long Days Journey Into Night by O'Neill. My God, what a play! The first act lasted an hour and a quarter. There were only four characters, Father; Mother, a drug addict; two sons, one a consumptive, the other a drunken waster! This a relief and change from the maladjusted - after the first act we gave up and went off.
Sunday, Feb 8th - Mrs M asked me to read an application from a Mr Dixon and tell her what I made of it. My guess from the very peculiar English was that Mr D, who had tried to teach English in Spain and had been a welfare officer in Northumberland, but who told you nothing about his education or origin, was probably a coloured gentleman from the Caribbean - probably one of the Spanish-speaking islands.
Mary went to evensong. The Rector preached on putting old wine into new bottles. This was appropriate but hardly tactful, as Mr Williams, who lifts the elbow and has just been run in for driving under the influence, was sitting in the front row.
Wednesday, Feb 11th - Had a nice letter from Hazel Reynolds. She said she would like to come down for the weekend. Mary was cross because she said I had not told her I intended to ask Hazel - I thought I had. She also apparently did not want visitors in the winter, though that is just when you do want them to relieve the monotony of country life. However it's happened before. Mary's first reaction is always to put off making any firm arrangements.
After tea I was left with the girls in the play room. Frances went berserk, so I clouted her over the head, whereon she called me "a bloody swine" and the remainder of the girls became hysterical. Graham waltzed round the room lifting his leg and pretending to break wind. A pleasant party!
Thursday, Feb 12th - My last birthday in the fifties! Mary supplied chicken for dinner, a great surprize, but I thought it better to avoid Christmas pudding, which was on offer.
Saturday, Feb 14th - Cherry came to lunch. She arrived white and shaking, her face had fallen in, she had a facial tic and generally looked very ill indeed. She had missed the way in Chipping Norton and called in at Kingham for brandy. I began to wonder if she is drugging herself or drinking too much. She made very little effort and conversation from her end kept fizzling out, if that is right word for something to flat and lifeless. Mary made a delicious apple and blackberry tart, which we ate with whipped cream.
Sunday, Feb 15th - No church! No children! Only about five for letter writing. Cherry brought four long stick insects from the Wilk. Curious but not endearing! They only move and eat at night.
Monday, Feb 16th - A milder day and even a few minutes of sunshine. You felt spring was rising from the caverns of Pluto.
Wednesday, Feb 18th - Mary to Oxford for night. Our first day of spring. The sun actually shone. Felt quite blinded when driving to Chipping Norton to see the new H.M. of Chipping Norton Grammar School. A nice man, relaxed, owl-like. Came back and found Mrs M tottering round trying to get tea, so cut up 60 slices of bread and butter for her - nothing if not versatile.
A lot of my contemporaries seem to have died recently. Shall soon reach Father's great conversational gambit: "Do you know old so and so? He's dead!"
Thursday, Feb 19th - All niggers except two back and lessons as usual. At tea to-night Graham suddenly said, "Jesus said come forth, and out came a packet of Woodbines."
Wednesday, Feb 25th - I lost a shilling to Mrs M. I had betted Mr Dixon from Northumberland was a coloured gentleman. He was fat, greasy and I should think very lazy, but not coloured or Mediterranean. Heard from Phyllis Mr Cook dying.
Thursday, Feb 26th - This morning Jeremy shot a fine dog fox in the brambles near the walled garden thinking it was a hare. It lay in the brake for some time and I measured it - 3ft 6in from tip of the brush to the muzzle. It was a lovely animal in beautiful condition.
Mrs M has decided not to appoint the mysterious Mr Dixon. I asked her why should did not advertize for a house father. She said they either wanted to psychoanalyze the children or they were bullies. She would rather be physically exhausted by the chores, as she is at present, than mentally worried, as she had been in the summer term with Hemmings and the other staff having "sessions" with the children.
Saturday, Feb 28th - Decided to do a church crawl. The day was fine with real heat in the sunshine. We took our lunch with us for the first time since Nov 22nd and ate it sitting under a wall where we got quite sunburnt. The larks were singing too.
Started with Yanworth near Stowell Park. A tiny church in a beautiful setting. You walked to it across the fields and had to get a key to it from the farm. Went on by Casey Compton to Withington. Norman church added to in the C14 and C15, but more interesting outside than in. After lunch to the Chirn valley and Rendcomb. A lovely setting carpeted with snowdrops. The screen, which is painted in "Bursar's blood", badly needs restoration. Next North Cerney - a gem. By Daglingworth to Duntisbourne Rous, a tiny Saxon-Norman church set on a slope above a stream. Tea in Cirencester at The Fleece. A very happy day.
Sunday, March 1st - Our anniversary. We had a half bottle of Beaujolais with our dinner, which was early. Then went to see Hidcote. Apparently it was not officially open, though the National Trust list of properties said it was, but the head hardener, a young chap from Moreton, let us in and later in the afternoon quite a lot more. There were snowdrops, Tomasina crocuses, miniature daffodils, chiondoxa, primroses, wychhazel, riburnum, cyclamen, aconites, and various shades of hellebore. It was Parents' Day at the school. Baldwin, the carrier pigeon, alighted right on top of one ferocious-looking mum's pork pie hat.
Monday, March 2nd - An ex-Bristol Grammar School boy turned up to help. He was a Westernized Oriental Gentleman, who looked of Japanese origin. He had the prominent teeth, round face, and a weedy black moustache. However, he seemed able to teach arithmetic and can supervise the bathing at night. I did what I could to help him with lists, exercise books and tips. He makes a strange contrast to the curly-haired Adonis, Jeremy Moeran.
Saturday, March 7th - We drove to Stratford to see the London festival Ballet - a very wet journey that took us just 50 minutes. Lunch was at 12 and we had the hind legs of a hare Jeremy had shot. Lovely to see some ballet again - Sylphides, taken rather slowly, I thought, then the Kingdom of the Sweets from Nut Cracker, finally Graduation Ball with music by Strauss. The theatre was full of children, mostly little girls. I had four of them next to me, but not maladjusted, quite the opposite. Dashed to The Cobweb for tea. The conductor came in one of the ballerinas in a cloak and hood and make-up still on. She looked a peach.
Tuesday, March 10th - I used the stick insects for the first time. Nothing untoward happened but it needed careful stage management.
Last night I listened to a play about the plot against Hitler, but could not bear it and had to give up. At the time the idea of the Fuhrer's trousers being blown off seemed rather comic; now his vengeance too ghastly and the missed opportunity to end the war a year early so tragic I feel very different.
Saturday March 14th - Went to Stratford, Flowering Cherry. Mr Cherry, played by Ralph Richardson, a suburban insurance agent with a wife and teenage son and daughter, has created a fantasy of himself as a fruit farmer. He will give up his clerical job and buy an orchard stocked with blossoming apple trees. He supports this by drinking scrumpy, bending pokers and telling stories about his boyhood on a farm in Somerset. He has lost the respect of his children and loses the love of his wife. At the end of the play the bubble is pricked, he is revealed as a drunkard, thief and a liar, his job is lost, and he finally kills himself doing his poker bending with an iron that is too thick. Poor Cherry. He never flowered.
Tea at the Cobwed. I wooed Mary with a bunch of spring violets and we had a marvellous night.
Saturday, March 21st - Hazel arrived at Kingham, very much the city lady in black with white leather gloves, mascara eyes etc, but fortunately with extra pair of sturdy shoes. We went to Bledington, Stow and Oddington old church before lunch. Near Stow we ran into the hunt and saw the fox lollop across the road and jump neatly over the wall just below Stow. Never a dull moment.
Sunday, March 22nd - Church - Palms and Easter Eggs for the niggers, me too. Drove to Bourton, Slaughters and Swells - our potamic progress for Sunday visitors. Kinch said to Mary how nice to have "Auntie" staying with us. Hazel went back by the evening train; pale as a suet pudding and looking nearer 30 than 21.
Easter Day, March 29th - Mary said last night she intended to go to the early service, but I thought I ought to point out that if on the one hand she went to the altar as the "guilty party" in a divorce case, there might later be unpleasantness with the vicar; if on the other she did not communicate, it would cause surprize in such a tiny congregation. In the end she did not go.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, old Fisher, has been giving interviews in The Observer. A liberal on the whole, he thinks there might be a place in the Kingdom of God for the agnostic.
If they can't get beyond the teaching (of Christ), let them live by that..... although they would not say they believed in Christianity as such or in Christ, these people are walking in the Light. There is only one true Light in the world for Christian or non-Christian. The Christian knows Christ not only as Light, but as Redeemer, Friend and Leader. It is a question of probabilities, of inner choice, and then of carefully criticized experience. I like him for this.
I thought of Mother and Father's grave at Shillingford. I had not done anything about them. I wonder if Maud has.... Then there is Grandfather at Hatford - no one had done anything about that for a long time - 50 or 60 years. Miss Birch next door has her parents in a country churchyard. I can't imagine Hilary doing much about my grave! If he does not bother to please me when alive, I should think he is less likely to when your are dead!
Easter Monday, March 30th - Cloudy with showers, wind cold. Went on church crawl after lunch and took our tea.
Tuesday, March 31st - Drove to Henley, eating lunch near the Long Grasses and arriving about 1 o'clock at the Wilk's. Up the back drive to my old house, interested to see that Herr Hitler had got the committee to make a complete new drive to it, which must have cost them a lot, whereas in my time they wouldn't even resurface it! Asked Wilk how she thought he did it - by making himself a pestilential nuisance, she replied. Tom and Len delighted to see me, also Smoky pussy, though in his case because he expected food I fancy!
Got to work on the bees and by five had the two remaining colonies packed up, one in its hive and one in a travelling box. Dashed down for a cup of tea with Marjorie Hunter, who was disfigured by a boil on the end of her nose and seemed rather low. Then high tea with Wilk, up at 7.30 to close hive and box and to bed about 10.
Alas, not to sleep, divan most uncomfortable and did not sleep to 3. a. m. I washed in the quite impossible outside lavatory by candle light, enamel basin on sponge rack filled from bucket in bath, and had breakfast on lap sitting by fire in sitting. Up to school at 10 where Tom helped me load bees.
In addition to M. W. and M. H., saw Wally, Marschner, and Isherwoord. Latter had Herr Hitler well summed up. Wilk reported that Uncle Edgar, Hirons, was disturbed by H. M.'s crookedness as well, so perhaps his real character is coming out. There was so much self-inflation and comparison with the bad old days at the Old Henley dinner that Miss Hunter resigned!
Friday, April 3rd - Mary spending day in Oxford so I decided to go back to Henley and collect more hive parts and combs. Tom helped me pack up. Then I took some Adlestrop daffodils to Miss H. She had resigned from the Old Boys' Association and told them that if they sat there and let Lipscombe say how bad the school was before he came they were condemning themselves. Had they ever been deprived of anything they needed when at school? Did they know the Director had said after the inspection that the school was second to none in the county? and so on. Returned to the school and ate my picnic lunch on the stone wall of the Italian Garden. It was delightful!
Saturday, April 4th - Leslie Bennett rang up in the morning and asked if we would go to sherry party at six o'clock and meet an ex-H.M.I. [schools inspector]. He proved to be a charming old boy who had been to H.G.S. inspecting students from Reading and sang German lieder. It was Leslie's birthday and he had about 15 in. Leslie seemed to have arranged the party. It was Mary's first sherry party with me as my wife. We were much amused by the company, and Leslie. As I got the car he confided that there was always difficulty in the spring!
Tuesday, April 7th - It was budget day - a pre-election budget and 6d off income tax. The Foreign Ministers' meeting draws nearer. Macmillan trying to loosen up the French and the Americans, but German chancellor, old Adenauer, all against any freedom in negotiations because he believes we will sell him down the river, so efforts to work out a common policy still not successful. The Russians are trying to force us to recognise the bogus East German satellite as a legitimate and respectable government. But the Communist regime never accepted by the East Germans and it has no title to make conditions about the future of Berlin for that reason. It has no title to rule its own citizens! If we recognized by a peace treaty the East German government, the weakest of all the satellites, we should be telling the rest that we have dropped our protest against the forcible Sovietization of Eastern Europe and accepted as permanent the Stalin frontier which shifted Russian political power to the centre of Europe. No!
Thursday, April 9th - The first swallow this evening after tea
Friday, April 10th - Got off at 8.30 to Exton. Arrived Malmsbury just before 10 to find abbey carefully locked up. Clergy not active here! Montacute House for tea. Last over with Molly in the early 1930s. Had forgotten how attractive was the garden setting. The interior when I saw it empty and derelict, now suitably furnished by the National Trust. Arrived Exton about 6.30 having crossed three counties.
Maud pleased to see us but very tottery. Maud and Mary got on well and appeared to take to one another.
Friday, April 17th - We came back yesterday in pouring rain. On the whole we were very unlucky with the weather. We suffered from television at the end, but saw the last of Compton Mackenzie's talks on Greece, which was excellent. Molly asked us to get Father's grave inscription repaired; when I went out to cut the grass at Shillingford I found that only two letters were missing!
Tuesday, April 21st - Went up to Stow early to get some sherry thinking Cyril might arrive early and hung about till a quarter to one before he arrived from Hereford. From Kay we had an unending stream of words. Cyril seemed still rather thin and down and more nervous than when i saw him last time at Christmas. He was determined to be off at 2.30, which was barely polite.
Wednesday, April 22nd - To London by 8.33. Left Mary at Oxford. Went to Moorgate to see lawyer. To my surprize and pleasure he told me cousin Cyril was prepared to drop the investigation into Drusilla Barnes Trust, so I hope with a reasonable time it can be wound up and money paid out.
I had long wanted to see a planetarium - I missed one at the Paris Exposition of 1937 - and just had time to reach Baker Street for the 12.15 showing. It was most impressive and can be recommended if you wish to recover some sense of proportion in the midst of the turmoil and pettiness of human relations. I felt calmed and soothed by the "spangled heavens in a shining frame."
At 4.30 bad tea with Nora at the National Book League. She seemed very cheerful. Said I had taught her so much and given her so many interests, which was nice of her. Hope I have.
Thursday, April 30th - The first week of term, the series of alarms and crises that one has come to expect. Frances, the impossible girl, ran away repeatedly and howled outside the house one evening for about an hour; Jeremy drove the brake so furiously through the village that Mrs M has put him under an interdict; there was no cook; six new children arrived, the girls among them I suspect are batty; an H.M.I., Mr Dellar, came in yesterday to inspect the school. A nice man, his main objective seemed to prevent my leaving!
Saturday, May 2nd - A memorable day. To Birmingham as the guest of Donald Heath, who met me on the station, the complete medical man, a portly balding figure in dark suit and bow tie. He conducted me in his new Morris Minor in cream with red upholstery and we went first to see the old Poor Law Hospital, then to the university where we had lunch. After lunch to the Barber Institute to see the pictures, which were delightful. Donald insisted on buying me postcards. Round the outside of the Queen Elisabeth Hospital by car to the Medical School with its museum with all kinds of specimens; out to Donald's bedsitter. To a botanical garden with a fine hothouse. Tea with a fellow lodger present, a rather colourless engineer. Donald, now 31, much happier and more social and more relaxed. Felt very proud of him and knew he was very fond of me.
Tuesday, May 5th - Mary and Miss Birch had a terrific session of over an hour. Heard all about Pymonie's muddles and extravagances, Jeremy's laziness, Terry's loutishness. Pymonie obviously worried and more scatty than ever. Didn't pay my cheque until today and then put it in Townsend's envelope and his in mine.
Wednesday, May 6th - Drove to Harford Bridge and walked along the Windrush valley towards Bourton with our tea. The Crab used to come up here sometimes from his cottage. I remembered the hillside covered with gorse above the river as a delightful spot, though I had not been there for 38 years. It still was.
Thursday, May 7th - After school started for Stratford. I say "started" for we had just got up Adlestrop hill when one of the plugs fell off. I have never known this to happen before and wondered whether it had been unscrewed! Curious things happen here! Othello was a great disappointment. It took place in semi-darkness, Desdemona was miscast, a modern platinum blond, the actors were frequently inaudible and when they were heard few could speak the verse. Paul Robeson did his best, but he is not a great actor.
Wednesday, May 13th - Yesterday Mrs M was away. Her return today followed by 12 hours in bed for the juniors. The batty boy Allen had had his head pushed through the window by Paul - lucky his throat was not cut. As I said to Mary, we would have been in the News of the World then - and lost the job.
Thursday, May 14th - I have no sense of vocation and I loathe and hate these bloody children; their insolence, their row, their voices, their stupidity, their clumsiness and pretty well everything about them! Why at my age should I have to put up with people like Michael and David, trying often in vain to control my temper while they guy me up and try to make me lose it. I am too old for this game, cursing and shouting. I must have somewhere to live, so I suppose I shall have to hang on, but, my God, I wish I could give it up tomorrow.
Monday, May 25th - Arthur Lane for weekend. Train an hour late on Saturday because it ran out of steam near Adlestrop and/or "blew back", injuring fireman. Great speculation amongst staff and public at Moreton in Marsh, where I was waiting, as to what could have happened. A goods engine detached and sent down the line to push it up from behind.
Took him to Hidcote and made fire just outside Chipping Camden where there was a fair. Yesterday to Chastleton, where he had a long session with Mr Clutton-Brock and examined his china. Mr C-B, it seems, a syndic of the Fitzwilliam, but filthy, unshaved and madder looking than ever. Arthur seemed more settled and less nervous than in December.
Sunday, May 31st - I have now collected 68 wild flowers and have four cages of caterpillars.
Thursday, June 11th - A very nice letter from Tom Armstrong in reply to one of mine telling him where I had landed up. Said how Crab would now be watched and suspected as a "queer". This had not occurred to me. I wonder if opinion has changed so much that he would, or if this is only Tom's gloomy outlook.
On Tuesday went to see Dr King about pains in left arm. Obviously thinks vertebrae in neck have got arthritic and says must have an x-ray, suggests might wear rubber collar, but how two people at school with rubber collars, since Miss Birch already wears one, don't know - quite ridiculous fantastic, as Cyril would say.
Saturday, June 13th - Drove to Compton Wyngates by the old trackway past the Rollright Stones, at which we stopped, to the crossing over the Stour, Traitors' Ford. I imagined it might be a medieval name, but a chap picnicing by it with his little girls told me that before Edgehill some parliamentary cavalry were given away by a spy and hanged near.
Sunday, June 14th - Molly brought Maud over to lunch. She was impressed by the cottage, which Mary was delighted to show her, and it all went off very well I thought. They went back about three. Molly was in middle of haymaking and had just got a new milking machine.
Tuesday, June 16th - Yesterday we went to Stratford to see the Dream with Charles Laughton as Bottom. It was a very rough production on an Elizabethan stage in the great hall with two flights of steps to a gallery and a curtained recess underneath. Charles Laughton immensely fat, whiskered and bumlike, was excellent and we enjoyed it very much indeed. Always find the end very moving. How nice to have such a play written for to celebrate one's marriage and to see it performed while waiting to bed one's bride!
Sunday, June 21st - The conference of foreign ministers has got nowhere. The Labour Party is wondering whether to agree to renunciation of the bomb in order to prevent China, France and Israel and so on having it. This seems to be no answer to the question "If GB why not France?" Better some think to hand our nuclear bombs to American ownership.
Wednesday, June 24th - First rain for weeks. Thundery and oppressive.
Reading Calder-Marshall's life of Havelock Ellis. A young French woman taught the great sexologist that he was not impotent, as he supposed, when he was in his sixties.
Friday, June 26th - My eighth Keble Association Dinner. First time Mary had seen me in a dinner jacket and was photographed. Found I had been put on the high table for the first time. This time you could order wine by the glass, which was much more satisfactory. Dean stood me a sherry and a glass of Margaux and Cockburn '42 port. Stories: Parson who found he could use his Sunday sermon twice by taking his teeth out for the evening service; pin-up girl in Latin virgotintacta.
Saturday, June 27th - Margaret Burton came over from Dorchester by bus for lunch and tea. Her accident (she was knocked down in London one night) has aged her considerably. She was returning in September. Told me the Foreign Office, unlike other departments, have no retiring age; provided you can get to the office you can go on indefinitely.
Sunday, June 28th - Cyril and Kay came over and I was annoyed because this particular Sunday was the only one the gardens of Sezincote were open and I marked the date down specially. They arrived at 1.15 so, we suspected, Cyril would hear the weather forecast. After lunch, however, he retired to "rest" and Kay drove us to Sezincote in their new white and strawberry Consul. It was an extraordinary house in the Hindu style - the television aerials tactfully concealed behind the dome! I thought it a fascinating place and a pity it is open so rarely.
Monday, June 29th - Strawberries 2/3 lb and beautifully ripe. Lovegrove knows the Clutton-Brocks at Chastelton. "They do say he drinks tidy. He's on the whisky."
Tuesday, June 30th - A charming letter from Wilfrid Westall sending me his "blessing" which I cold take as I liked! He had heard no rumours of my changed state since I saw him in January 1958. He said he was sorry to hear my marriage had come "unstuck", to use non-ecclesiastical language!
Wednesday, July 1st - Went up to Gilbert's Grave with our tea in the afternoon and to our great delight Mary found a bee orchis - I think the first I've seen.
Thursday, July 2nd - At the moment this place is more like a market garden than a school. - lettuces, beans, onions, black currants, are picked and taken away in the brake to Oxford or Cheltenham. Mrs M has little time for the school and things are sometimes in more of a muddle than ever. Jennifer has been in bed more often than not. She comes down late to tea in pyjamas and a blanket because Pymonie had a row with her and tore her dressing gown to pieces.
Wednesday, July 8th - Pymonie in a difficulty. It came out while the boys were picking blackcurrants yesterday that Dr Barrington was "filthy" and interfered with them. Is this true? Can they be believed? It is is true, what does Pymonie do? She has given him some sort of chit and he is now an assistant children's' officer in Lancs. Suggested she write to him letting him know that these statements have been made without committing herself. If true, he will have been warned. Anyway any committee appointing a man who is so obviously neurotic is asking for trouble. However I believe that Pymonie enjoys "dramas", crises and situations. She seems to thrive on them and make little effort to avoid them. Anything to do with sex is meat and drink to her!
Saturday, July 11th - Today went to Cornbury Park which was open for the first time to the public in aid of the Distressed Gentlefolk. It consists of three periods, Elizabethan, where Robert, Early of Dudley, died in the year of the Armada; Caroline, 1631; and Restoration under Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, who carved on his wing DEUS NOBIS HAEC OTIA FECIT in 1666.
I concentrated on the pictures - a Botticelli wedding feast, two superb Tintorettos, an annunciation and a Cephalus and Procris and a lovely small Crivelli, some Bronzino portraits, an altar piece of Nicolas of Ancona very richly coloured on a gold background, two good Hals portraits and numerous C16 and 17 likewise.
Sunday, July12th - To Turkdean. Found some fine wooly thistles but few other flowers. Have now reached 150+.
Monday, July 13th - The niggers quite uncontrollable. Yesterday at tea a docile as lambs, to-day bloody awful. Perhaps yesterday taken up with theft of Mrs Rees' key, which was produced this morning on threat of no breakfast. Had Mrs Rees in to coffee, like Dr B she talked without stopping about herself. Finally to my horror she tried to borrow one of my books. Mary hastily produced a penguin!
Friday, July 16th - Our first wedding anniversary. We wanted to have dinner at the Farmhouse Hotel at Lower Swell, but they were full, so after a food deal of trouble with telephone, we booked a table at Manor House, Moreton. It was an excellent dinner, but expensive - 31/6 in all with half a carafe of wine. Mary had salmon, I had chicken. Then we drove back to and went to bed and were very happy.
Friday, July 24th - Pymonie let me into a secret which no one else must know about and is not even to be revealed to the the faithful Miss Birch. Tomorrow she flies to Spain, from which she proposes to send me a postcard with her address. Mrs Rees is coming back, but not Jeremy. She has at last decided that it is bad to have him about doing less and less, drinking at the Langston Arms and trying to get off with the girls at the chemists.
Wild flowers now 167.
Wednesday, July 28th - Coriolanus at Stratford. Never did like it ever since I had to do it for Higher Certificate in 1917, but certainly one could not have seen it better acted and produced. Olivier had it absolutely at his finger tips and in addition there was Harry Andrews as Menemus and Edith Evans as Volumnia. It went with a tremendous surge and swing right up to Olivier's acrobatic death hanging by his ankles from the platform to be stabbed by Anfidius. Not a play one would want to see twice.
Sunday, Aug 2nd - Off at 67.45 for Holly Bush and got there in time for breakfast. Ruth's brother was there. He had flown from Antigua because Mrs Brown was, said the doctor, dying. Like Charles II she was taking a long time and he was wondering what to do. He had a job as skipper of yachts chartered by wealthy Americans and Canadians for a few weeks to see the islands. Did not realize at first he was operating from English Harbour, the deserted dockyard of Nelson's day.
Thursday, August 6th - Psychologically tough! Mr and Mrs Pierce came for the day - Mr P after refusing the invitation. Felt more than ever that unless Mary had managed to get away from home in the middle 'thirties she would have been devoured by her cannibal Papa He is a demanding and dominating man, very spoilt, very critical, and wishing all the time to occupy the centre of the stage. I don't like him. Glad that my Father, though he was not particularly interested in what I was doing, was not like Mr Pierce.
Sunday, August 9th - Weight: July 1958 - 9 stone 6 lb; Jan 1959 - 9.10; July 1959 - 10.3.
Tuesday, Aug 11th - The cheque for my share of Aunt's estate arrived at last just about a year and three quarters after her death - £2,363 - much more than I expected. I shall not get much from the Drusilla Barnes' (Grandmother's) Trust but perhaps enough to buy a car.
Wednesday, Aug 12th - Went to see Broughton Castle near Banbury. Like Penshurst it is a medieval building added to and reconstructed by the Elizabethans. The medieval hall has had big windows put in and a floor added. Over the porch Lord Saye and Sele, the parliamentarian leader, had placed the inscription Quod elim fuit, meninise minime invat - in 1660, let bygones by bygones. He believed in keeping abreast of events!
Thursday, Aug 13th - Went to Ragley by myself, Mary not feeling well. The Lord Marquess, aged 28, had taken a leaf from the book of His Grace the Duke of Bedford, opened it a year ago as a show piece. Peacocks when you drove up, Lord Hertford selling booklets describing the house, written by himself. The house was a hospital during the war and the furniture stored. The young man and his bride had decided pluckily to make a go of it and moved in from the home farm. Good luck to them. The house, started in 1680 and furnished throughout the C18, large, tall and spacious.
Sunday, Aug 16th - About 12.30 I heard Pymonie's penetrating high pitched voice and about four, when taking our tea to the lane, ran into her. Her legs redder than ever!
Had a discussion with Mary about the future. My bet is that her mother survives father, with his hernias, prostate and new pains which the doctor thinks may be kidneys. Don't want to build unless I really like the site, and to be tied to the main Oxford-Worcester line is difficult. Reached the usual conclusion, "Have to wait and see".
Monday, Aug 17th - Mary C and Paul Clayden came to lunch and tea. In the afternoon we all went to Chastleton. When we got there Mary decided she would like to go in with the Claydens and asked me for 2/6; I gave her a 10/- note and found to my dismay that I was paying for the Claydens as well!
Thursday, Aug 18th - Cheque for life assurance I took out in Devon in 1929 arrived, £1,525.
We went off getting plums between Broadway and Evesham. Victorias for jam 3d a lb. After lunch we went up Sudely Hill to Farmcote, last visited with Hilary in 1950, then to Salter's Hill where we had tea and stayed till 7 o'clock. A perfect summer's day. Coming back while picking blackberries in a dense thicket stepped off a tree stump into a ditch and had to be extricated by Mary.
Thursday, Aug 20th - Overdid it with blackberries. Spent the whole day jamming, first with these and then with Victorias. A very hot day.
Friday, Aug 21st - We drove to Stoneleigh Abbey along the Fosse Way all the way from Moreton to Offchurch, 25 miles in one straight line never changing direction, crossing the main roads from Stratford, Warwick and Leamington, sometimes running with a broad verge planted with elms, sometimes through woods, once a rough track with cattle grids, always a secondary road, passing through no villages and keeping along the ridge above the rivers on which the medieval towns later grew up. Most impressive, even more so if you can imagine a forested, unpopulated countryside across which the undeviating purposeful ribbon was driven north and east.
We arrived at Stoneleigh just before a tremendous thunderstorm with torrential rain and hailstones as big as peas. Nothing could be done; we had to sit it out in the car for half an hour. As we reached the entrance a fat little man smoking a cigar rushed out and started trying to clean a blocked drain with his walking stick. It was the noble peer!
Sunday, Aug 23rd - Genesis, Lazarus, Rima, the Wilde Tomb at Père Lachaise, the Visitation at the Tate, Virgin and Child in Cavendish Square. "Made a nice job of that, governor," said the bus conductor as he came back from the unveiling. "Accepted at last, " muttered Jacob Epstein, who died this week.
Monday, Aug 24th - To the great city by the 8.33 from Kingham. Got to Nat. Gallery about 11.0. My God, it was hot! However able to cool off in the air conditioned rooms. Bought my Christmas cards, Guido Remis Nativity, 12/-. Saw the new Ucello but was a bit disappointed with the colour. Had a sandwich lunch in the cafeteria - very good - then to Tate, outside which they were digging for a bomb, to see the Romantic Exhibition. Extensive and well arranged. Turner came out of it as a very great artist. Gave up about quarter past three. To Victoria and reached Nora's in the great heat about 5.0. Nora's flat much improved by transfer of kitchen to small room, giving a very pleasant sitting room looking over the garden. Given Nora's room with excellent bed. Enjoyed talking to Nora very much indeed and felt very happy to see her.
Wednesday, Aug 26th - To see a play by Irishman, Brendan Behan, ex IRA and borstal, lauded by the critics as a "masterpiece" and "superb entertainment". We don't seem to have any luck with our plays. This was no exception. The author, a great boozer and swearer, a broth of a boy no doubt, but like the play crude and insensitive. The bawdiness soon ceased to amuse and merely bored. As Nora said, he used a bludgeon, not a rapier.
Nora had been to Dover twice on an 8/- excursion, so we decided to go tomorrow.
Thursday, Aug 27th - Our trip a great success. Arrived by one of the new fast and well-appointed electric trains about 13.30. Left Dover at 7.30. Hardly had we got home about 10.00 when Hilary rang from Paddington. We must have seen his boat enter the harbour that afternoon! The car had broken down in Cote d'Or and they had abandoned it after removing the number plates! He reached Sutton at 11.30, unshaven and dirty and tired. They had slept last night in the waiting room at the Gare du Nord.
Friday, Aug 28th - Caught the 1.45 to Kingham. Nora came up to see me off at Paddington. We felt very affectionate and she kissed her hand to me as the train slid out. Life is queer - but how rich!
Saturday, Aug 29th - Went into Cheltenham for lunch at the Cadena. Waitress insisted on taking bill down to cash desk from first floor table herself. When asked by me if this was done to prevent customers bolting without paying, she admitted it was.
Mary noticed that a film called The Scapegoat with Alec Guinness in it was on at the cinema by the fountain. I had only been to the cinema once since last year and Mary not at all, so we decided to go. It was excellent and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Thursday, Sept 3rd - Found small boy serving in shop who was so efficient and obliging that Christened him "the master grocer".
Norman and Eric Attrill came to tea. Eric had almost lost her voice but she managed to do a good bit of talking before they left at 6.15. Norman seemed rather older and nervous. Mary liked him in spite of her distaste for "visitors" in general.
Friday, Sept 4th - 45 lbs of honey from 2 hives. Modest after the 600 lbs of Henley days, even so a mass of cleaning and washing, fetching and carrying.
Today a year ago we moved into the cottage. It has been a year of great happiness and considerable unhappiness at the same time. Mary is much at the mercy of the woman's cycle and quick to suspect and resent anything that touches her sensitive inferiority feeling. I am irritated by this, so am a bit like a barometric graph in winter when a regular series of depressions passes across!
Saturday, Sept 5th - Old Webb came over from Blockley for lunch and we all four drove over to the Windrush valley for tea. Hilary and I went into the little fishing hut. On the walls were plywood profiles of the fish caught with dates 1934 - 38. I wondered where the fishermen of 20 years ago are today. The hut now in ruinous state.
Sunday, Sept 6th - Drove Hilary over to Molly's arriving about 11.0. Took window out of van and Hilary painted frames. We had an excellent lunch and reached Adlestrop about 7.0. Hilary has complained of feeling cold since he got here and his temperature has risen a bit at night. Now he is off his food.
Monday, Sept 7th - Hilary seemed very miserable so got Dr King to call. He diagnosed a liver infection and said he must have no fats and remain inactive in bed or in a chair till he called again on Friday. Three weeks about the usual length.
Tuesday, Sept 8th - Hilary had a miserable birthday. He stayed in bed all day and ate only fruit.
Wednesday, Sept 9th - Michael Collard came down to see Pymonie. She liked him and engaged him on the spot! He is to do the pocket money and teach arithmetic as well as supervise dormitories. I hope I have not done the poor chap a bad turn.
Friday, Sept 11th - All niggers (32) now back. Hilary's urine a deep coffee colour, thereby confirming diagnosis. Dr called again in his low racing car and will come again on Tuesday.
Saturday, Sept 12th - Hilary has no face flannel. Mary became irate because I proposed buying him a new one (9d) instead of accepting a small rubber sponge she had bought at church fête. I wish she did no get so worked up over trivialities and then spoil our day. Anything that seems to her like a rebuff triggers off some emotional powder magazine. All quite unnecessary.
Sunday, Sept 13th - Hilary much better today. Had some meat for lunch for first time. Only 3 niggers went to church. Trouble with rector likely. Pymonie thinks if some adults go to the harvest service next week they will think better of it. Michael Collard arrived.
Just been to look at moon which Soviet rocket is supposed to be hitting in about 15 minutes. Its departure announced in Observer this morning.
General election fills much of paper. October 8th. If there were a Liberal candidate would vote for him, otherwise Labour I think.
Tuesday, Sept 15th - The Doctor visited Hilary while we were out shopping. He says he will have to stay for another 3 weeks! The cottage is not built for a third party and it is embarrassing for all.
Sunday, Sept 20th - Hilary much better and ate quite normally today. Harvest festival and Battle of Britain Sunday. Took 3 niggers to children's service. Pymonie had gone off to Oxford and forgotten all about it. However, the invaluable Miss Birch produced a cabbage, lettuce and marrow, which with a jar of honey, saved our face!
100 sheep costing £1,000 have arrived - no one knows where the money is to come from, but then no one knows anything anyway! Is bankruptcy ahead?
Michael Collard seems to be doing quite well. This morning I found him coping with breakfast and this afternoon he picked up Biggs and carried him in like a parcel. At this rate he should go far.
Reflected as I sang hymns this morning than in half a century I have got back where I started from - Shillingford Church to Adlestrop Church - not unlike in appearance either, Victorian glass and brown paint.
Sunday, Sep 28th - Mr Krushchev's visit to U.S.A. seem to have been a success. A start has been made and though no decisions have been taken contacts will be kept up. Krushchev has seen the United States or some of it, and the Americans have seen Krushchev. Eisenhower to visit Russia in the spring.
Friday, Oct 2nd - On Wednesday took Hilary to Rousham and had tea in the garden, which this time we had the energy to explore. He went over the house which he found very tiring. He now talks much more, mainly about politics and economy, and seems much more at home with Mary. Today persuaded him to have his hair cut in Stow.
There was a partial eclipse of the sun today. Wondered why it was so dark at lunch time!
Got a rise yesterday from £700 p.a; to £750.
Sunday, Oct 4th - The Observer, which is a neutral paper, says that in domestic affairs there is nothing much to choose between the parties, but in colonial and foreign affairs Labour is a better choice. I agree, but I don't want to vote for a party which would abolish the grammar schools, or one with all those out of date trades union officials. Like Hilary I would vote Liberal if there were one in this constituency. There is not, therefore logically I ought not to vote at all. I have never before not voted and I hardly like to begin now.
"A small island in space" a phrase used by a Russian communist minister, mankind is a single society. Today the Russians launched a rocket which will photograph the side of the moon no man has ever seen. If we can see the blind side of the moon we can also see our own dear earth from outside too, and realize how very small it is. A new period in man's history more exciting than the discoveries of the C15 and 16 opens before us.
Wednesday, Oct 5th - Hilary went back to Sutton after a visit if five weeks, one of the longest time periods we have been together for quite some time what with boarding school, army, and a year without a home. He has grown up to be a rugged, dour character to all appearance, indifferent to people and yet also shy of anything personal, from which he retreats at once. He will discuss politics and economics. If you get on from those topics to his friends or his interests he immediately shuts up like a clam. He is in dress and appearance a nonconformist; all the time he was here he wore a dirty and ill-fitting blue sweater, however hot the weather, and shaved only occasionally. He made his bed at night when he got into it; for the rest of the day it remained as it was when he got out of it. His room was littered with books, papers, clothes, mostly anyhow. Last night we took him to dinner, £2 10s 0d - at the Manor House Hotel, Moreton, which he seemed to enjoy.
I like the local Labour candidate's election address because it does mention the big issues of foreign policy and disarmament and the arming of the secondary powers with nuclear weapons - and the poverty of the majority of the world's population. I shall vote for him.
Thursday, Oct 8th - After tea we drove to Oddington to vote. It was the quietest polling station I have ever been in. Mary remembered her father going to a declaration of the poll at Oxford and coming back with a patch neatly cut out of his trousers containing his wallet. He made his family go back to look for it!
At supper Mary said she liked Hilary when she got used to him and his rather embarrassing silences.
Friday, Oct 9th - The answer was known at breakfast time; a third term of Conservative government with a majority of 100.
Sunday, Oct 11th - Cloudy with some rain yesterday. This break ended the driest, but not the hottest, summer on record. There was practically no rain from mid-May till now, except for some thunderstorms.
Tuesday, Oct 20th - I don't think Michael Collard is very happy. He is bossed about not only by the neurotic Mrs Rees but by the coarse Malcolm. Here the staff are almost as difficult as the children. They are always likely to be. Either they are beginners or they have something in their past (like me!).
Wednesday, Oct 21st - The first really wet day covering the whole of the British Isles for a very long time. Did not go out for have recently developed a habit of lying down after lunch for a rest and dozing, the very thing I used to laugh at in Cyril!
Thursday, Oct 22nd - Mary had one of "come overs". I was "secretive" about my relations with Nora. I got letters and did not say what was in them. I had not told her what Nora and I talked about when I went to Sutton. This was triggered because I proposed to meet Hilary and Nora in Oxford the weekend of Nov 8th. Nora asked if Mary would care to come too. As she nearly always complains of how awkward her relations with Nora are, I expressed surprize when she said she wanted to come. Damn!
Sunday, Oct 25th - Wonder if Mrs M heading for bankruptcy. Apparently more pigs now than cows and calves! Children's food cut down, but Mrs M spending money lavishly on shoes! Is taking all meals by herself and is approaching exhaustion, yet teaches little for she has more staff than she has ever had before.
Monday, Oct 26th - Had Collard into coffee. He clearly has suffered much from muddle and Mrs M's inability or willingness to explain the peculiar methods she uses. At most schools the staff are consulted first and then the children. Here the children and Mrs M confer first and then the staff are summoned to hear the children's "complaints". Collard has the impression he is being reprimanded in front of the children.
Mary was amused and cheered up considerably. "You must organize your lavatory time" seemed to be his great slogan with the niggers. He described how he had taken some boys to a cafe in Moreton and they had all disappeared to "sit" in the "toilet".
Wednesday, Oct 28th - Head Mr George Kennan, that wise American, broadcast last night. He thinks people greatly exaggerate the degree of security the atom bomb affords. He ended: "We are not the owners of the planet we inhabit; we are only the custodians. There are limits to the extent to which we should be prepared to pollute it."
Sunday, Nov 1st (at Holly Bush Farm) - Mary not very well as she had been disturbed by my snoring as we shared a bedroom. The forecast was good so in spite of the unbroken cloud we started at 9.30 for the Black Mountains, via Ross and Abergevenny. After the stone walls of the wolds I found the hedgerows of Monmouthshire delightful. The Honddu Valley walled in grandeur - the mountain sides deep russet with bracken. We drove by Capel y fin up to the Gospel Pass and beyond to our pitch at Hay Bluff. At 1,500 ft, though the day was warm for November, it was pretty cold. We found a hollow in the moor and made a fire to heat soup. Kestrels and Ravens.
Mary now accepted by Molly. I never though two years ago that she would be.
Thursday, Nov 5th - The lawyer sent my share of the Drusilla Barnes Trust, £750. Molly got £3,750! Still she did look after father from 1928 to 1940 and perhaps, though I don't think so, did not marry for that reason.
Sunday, Nov 8th - Got the letter writing cleared up by 11.30 and made for Oxford. Had lunch with Hilary and Nora at Golden Cross. Then to Godstow, near which they are building a section of the new ring road from Woodstock Road to Botley Road. Walked towards Oxford along the tow path till we could see the silhouette of the city's towers, now the new Nuffield tower too, and the block of Keble Chapel, a sight which I used to love in my undergraduate days on the upper river in a Rob Roy canoe in 1920. Returned to the Golden Cross for tea. We gave Hilary a collection of photographs of Sicily - German and beautifully done but very costly at £3 10s for his birthday (and Christmas present).
Saturday, Nov 14th - To Cheltenham. Forgot it was race day. Held up getting into town. Saw film of Colette's Gigi at the Coliseum. Much too long.
We lit the fire on Nov 11, so had my first bath since April with a new bath sheet that I had bought.
Wednesday, Nov 18th - Drama this week a strip tease in the park. Shirley, great hulking maypole and the tough little Kinch attacked Doreen, the tragedy queen, and tore all her clothes off. On an inquest being held Pymonie enquired of Shirley, "How would you like to have all your clothes off before the boys?" Taking her at her word, Shirley bolted for home and was picked up at Kingham Station.
Thursday, Nov 19th - Had Collard in for coffee. Pymonie, like the Bishop of London, wants the young men to consult her about their "problems". He thinks he is bad odour because he does not. She has got so used to treating the children as maladjused that she treats the staff as maladjusted as well. Not but what most of them are.
Monday, Nov 30th - Winston's 85th birthday. He spent it in London and appeared in his seat at the House of Commons at question time. The BBC - a very good idea - had prepared a a programme by Michael St Denis describing the day, Oct 21st, he spent with the Prime Minister when he was preparing his broadcast to the French people - "C'est moi, Churchill, qui vous parle" - how he had lunch with him in the middle of an air raid, discussed and revised the script, rehearsed it and after dinner went to the fortress where, since there was only one chair, he had to sit on Churchill's knee to announce him. Churchill frequently wept - at the mention of Clemenceau; "where is Renaud now, where are the other Frenchmen now?"; at the end, "We have made history to-night." It was very moving. After it was over I got out my 1940 diary. It was there.
Wednesday, Dec 5th - Collard in from the madhouse to coffee. His descriptions of the inmates very amusing to listen to rather than experience. Lenny Moule going round muttering 'Lemon Curd', Kinch excluded from playroom for sex play with little boys and smelly in the dining room, Ronald with his ghoulish account of his brother's death and cremation, Doreen 'I've lost me dibs', Richard and David West with their ticks and jerks. He thinks the staff could get on all right if it weren't for Pymonie and 'the dramas'.
Tuesday, Dec 8th - At last I have the Drusilla Barnes Trust accounts. I get an additional £60, making £810. The lawyers charged £220.
Wednesday, Dec 9th - When I go over in the morning Collard, Malcolm, Mrs Rees all sitting in the parlour being lectured by Pymonie (with eyes well on carpet). I asked what was up and she replied that she was 'releasing staff tensions'. Her complaint that there is 'a bad atmosphere', which she creates herself. Collard calls it a madhouse. Takes the view that Pymonie likes rows, dramas and scenes and is as maladjusted as the children.
Sunday, Dec 13th - To study at 4.15 to hear a long playing record of Carols from Kings College Chapel. Twenty niggers present on the carpet and Pymonie by the record player. Behaviour exemplary. As I watched them I felt quite well disposed to them for once!
Monday, Dec 14th - A letter from Molly posted at Wells on her way to Exton yesterday. Maud had had a stroke last Thursday night. Rang her up this evening and found Maud had been taken to Exeter Hospital. She did not recognize Molly and could not speak.
Friday, Dec 25th - Christmas Day. We are at Adlestrop and not at Exton [as planned], 'Studley' is empty and Maud lies in Shillingford churchyard next to Uncle Sam. She died early on Sunday, Dec 20th, and funeral was on Wednesday morning.
Molly went down by train on Tuesday. Stephen met us at St David's and drove us out to Studley. Pat, his wife, had come too and a large brown and white bull terrier. Pat, as I remember from 1953, asked endless questions! Was I well paid at Adlestrop, did I get meals, electricity thrown in, did I pay rent for the cottage, finally did Hilary tell me about his girls? At this point I am afraid I got impatient and replied 'Does Miles tell you about his?' This choked her off for the time being at any rate!
After supper while the two women were washing up and we were alone in the sitting room, Stephen with some slight embarrassment produced Maud's will and he said he expected I would like to see it. I don't wonder he felt awkward. As I read it I realized everyone had been mentioned; only my name was conspicuously missing. I endeavoured to show no emotion for I was conscious when Pat came back in that she was watching me very narrowly. The more I thought about it the more puzzled I became. Maud appeared to be very fond of me and I was certainly very fond of her. Could it be religious prejudice because of divorce? She accepted Mary readily as my wife, gave us a wedding present and were twice asked to stay with her, came over to the cottage in the summer and kissed Mary when she left. When
Well, well, I would like to know what went on in her mind, but I don't suppose I ever shall.
After breakfast next day, I went down to the nurseries. I had no opportunity of ordering a wreath, but I got two bunches of chrysanthemums. On one I put 'from Hubert and Mary' and on the other 'from Nora'. That ought to fox them!
We drove out to Shillingford about 11. It was a stormy morning with a strong cold wind and squalls blowing down from Haldon. The grave was a mass of wet mud and the sexton was baling out water when we got there. We sat in the little church, Molly and I in the front row, and presently they trundled in the coffin on a little collapsible iron trolley. It had three magnificent wreaths on it from Molly, Bar and Stephen and a bunch of violets from the inevitable Ruth Brown.
We listened to the crabbed Levantine dialectic of Paul, some of which the Rector, inadvertently or not, omitted, and stood shivering in the chilling gale beside the grave while the mud bounced on the coffin with a follow sound.
The earlier part of the week went well. I much enjoyed Hilary's visit for the weekend. On Dec 19th we saw a play about a patrol in the Malaysian jungle in 1942, called 'The Long, the Short and the Tall'. it was good, though it dragged on a bit at he end. I noticed that whereas in 'Journey's End' in 1925 or so all the characters were officers, here in 1959 all the characters were working class types disguised as soldiers. Hilary laughed heartily at all the army language and crude jokes, which he said might have been transcribed from a tape recorder in Cyprus. ... I felt that Hilary was much more communicative and much more at ease with Mary and was very pleased.
To return to Christmas Day, we had a small frozen chicken for lunch for the two of us, Christmas pudding and a bottle of Asti Spumante. I remembered how delicious this was when I last drank it in Milan with the Crab in 1922 and was not disappointed.
Boxing Day - Mary and Nora are both the same! Because it is a Bank Holiday they went to 'do something' or go somewhere regardless of the fact that unlike the general run of people we can do this any day. At breakfast she wanted to go to the met at Broadway Tower. There was a howling gale, but we set off. The police were directing masses of traffic up up to the Tower, so I left the car on the verge, turning it round with a good deal of difficulty of which Mary took no notice! When climbing back over a stone wall after relieving myself I fell. Mary was sitting in the car and appeared solely interested in getting me to take the glasses from her and was annoyed because I could not hear what she said. At this point I lost my temper. However, I apologised later and amicable relations were restored.
Sunday, Dec 27th - Donald appeared for lunch. I was very pleased that he and Mary got on so well and we had a most enjoyable time. Very impressed that a man in a YMCA in Birmingham had cut off a girl's head, come out covered in blood and taken a bus. No one made any comment and nor so far had a anyone been willing to come forward to help the police.
Thursday, Dec 31st - 1959 a good year in most ways. A marvellous summer, prices steady, employment and output up. In foreign affairs we pursued our tedious and tortuous path towards a conference with the Russians. The French awkward and pursued an independent line on nuclear tests; the Chinese appeared as the great aggressive menace of the future in Asia. We got more settled in at Adlestrop and were able to do more theatres and films. Gradually too I found the work easier, though not coping with Mrs Moeran.
Adlestrop, Jan 5, May 25, Armstrong, Tom, June 11, B, Lady Helen, Jan 6,
B, Mar 29, B, Norman, Eric, Sep 3, B, Leslie, Apr 4, Birch, Miss, May 5, passim, B, Magaret, June 27, Chastleton, June 29, Church score, Jan 8, Church crawl, Feb 28, Churchill, W.C., Nov 30, Collard, Michael, Sep 9, 13, 20, Oct 20, 26, Nov 19, Dec 5, Cook, Mr & Mrs, Jan 2, Feb 25, Divorce, Mar 29, Doctors, June 11, Sep 8, Donald Heath, May 2, Dec 27, Drusilla Barnes, Apr 22, Aug 11, Nov 5, Dec 8, Election, Oct 4, 9, Epstein, Aug 23, European policy, Apr 7, Father, Feb 18, Mar 29, Harford Bridge, May 6, Sep 6, Henley visit, Mar 31, H.G.S., Jan 13, Havelock Ellis, June 24, Hazel Reynolds, Feb 11, Mar 21-22, Hilary, Jan 3, Sep 6-Oct 5, 8, Nov 8, Hunter, Marjorie, April 3, Keble, June 26, Kruschchev, Sep 28, Lane, Arthur, May 25, Lipscombe, Mar 31, Apr 3, Mary (Cherry) Clayden, Feb 14, Aug 17, Maud (cousin), Apr 10, Dec 14, 25, Moerean, Pymonie, Jan 8, 17, 20, 21, 22, Feb 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 26, Apr 30, May 13, July 2, 8, 24, Aug 16, Oct 25, 26, Nov 18, Dec 9, 10, 13, Molly Barnes, June 14, Sep 6, Nov 1, Jan 3, Apr 22, Aug 24, Oct 22, Dec 26, Nuclear weapons, June 21, Oct 28, Peach, Cyril, Kay, Jan 4, 6, Apr 21, June 28, Pierce, Mr & Mrs, Aug 6, Shillingford, Mar 29, Apr 17, Space, Sep 13, Oct 4, Dec 25, Stratford, Feb 7, Mar 7, 14, May 7, June 16, July 28, Wales, Nov 1-2, Westall, Wilfrid, June 30, Wild flowers, May 31, July 12, 24, Wildfowl Trust, Jan 24, Wilkinson, Marjorie, Mar 31,