Friday, Jan 1st, 1960 - New Year’s Day very mild and for a time the sun shone across the square at Stow and turned the limestone pale gold.
When I returned just before lunch and picked up The Times saw to my dismay that Myles Atkins, same age as Hilary, had been killed in a plane accident at the Royal Navy air station in Norfolk on Wednesday. I am sorry. Wrote to Stephen though there was not much I could say. We were only talking about him at Exton last weekend.
Sunday, Jan 3rd - Over to send the weekend with Mary’s parents - turkey and Christmas pudding. They now have a television set so we had two quizz games and a film of the Ark Royal. Mr Pierce suggested we might stay for two days, but M pointed out I wouldn’t be happy away from my things! Good.
Monday, Jan 4th - Letters from Nora and Hilary both rather indignant over Maud’s will. Hilary remarked that in family politics it does not pay to be a man of principle!
Wednesday, Jan 6th - Not many houses open in January, but Sulgrave Manor is one of them.….. Very well looked after and must please thousands of Americans who go there in summer. The sad faced little woman who showed us round said they had Frames’ Tours five days a week and 12,000 visitors a year. [Manor was home of George Washington’s ancestors].
Thursday, Jan 7th - London to see the Italy and England Exhibition at Burlington House and The Aspern Papers with Michael Redgrave and Flora Robson, a Christmas present from Nora. A very good and subtle piece of acting which carried you along, suspense well maintained. Caught the 6.55 which because of fog took three hours to reach Oxford. We finally reached home at after 11 after crawling from Kingham in the fog.
Sunday, Jan 10th - A little snow in the night but I had planned to take Mary to mass at Tewkesbury. After negotiating the hill down to Stanton we bowled along to reach the abbey before 11.0. As we walked up the nave with the lights lit and the candles burning on the altar, the sun came through for a few minutes and turned the great building into a glowing golden glory. It was Epiphany and we had a procession followed by the liturgy clearly and beautifully read by Purefoy. Mary, kneeling beside me as my wife, said that Purefoy had a good look at us in the procession! It is a wonderful building, nothing quite like it among the parish churches that I know or one that moves one more by its majesty and beauty.
Monday, Jan 11th - Evidently knelt too long in an unwonted position of prayer at the abbey yesterday! After breakfast struck with a lumbago-like pain across the left back ribs. Stayed in and kept warm for the rest of the day.
Tuesday, Jan 12th - Drove to Oxford, where picked up Mary, then on to Cyril’s at Reading for lunch. Cyril and Kay delighted to see us and the former seemed fatter and better in health.
Wednesday, Jan 13th - Snow! Cleaned up the car and got it going. It was very difficult, not only because the roads were slippery and slushy, but because although th screen had been smeared with glycerine it kept freezing up. Near Wallingford a big red van we had been following pulled up to turn into a drive and I slid, slowly by inevitably, into the baclk of it, doing no damage to him, but smashing my headlights. Whenever lorries or large cars passed us they chucked a fountain of dirty snow on the windscreen and I had to stop and clean it up. Just north of Oxford the wiper packed up altogether and I had to work it by hand, which gave a limited but clearer view. I reached Adlestrop at 1.30, in three and a half hours non-stop.
Thursday, Jan 14th - A bitter east wind which increased in the afternoon and blew all the snow off the trees, but the fish, milk and library arrived. The birds ravenous, blue, great and marsh tits, robins, chaffinches, sparrows, nuthatches all round the house.
Saturday, Jan 16th - A partial thaw set in, but forecasters said cold weather would come back on Monday.
Hirons at Henley has come to the conclusion that Lipscombe is impossible and intends to leave in the summer.
Joined the Ethical Union, a humanist organization of which Julian Huxley is president.
Sunday, Jan 17th - It is a pity Hollywood continues, Lejeune [the Observer’s film reviewer] writes, to tell the rest of the world that marriage is just a prelude to divorce, education means necking, the pregnancy rate among teenagers is high, ‘kids’ are to blame for it because it is the fault of the parents, that drinking is the great national institution it is.
Tuesday, Jan 19th - Walked across the park to get the 9.10 train to Oxford. Browsed at O.U.P. and Blackwells, where I met Hilary for lunch. Bought Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage, but felt depressed by the number of books in Blackwells - like the Walrus and the Carpenter faced with all that sand. A bitter wind and had to struggle to station in a squall and got fairly damp. At Adelstrop an Arctic wind made the trudge across the park a test of endurance.
Thursday, Jan 21st - Picked up Mary at Oxford at 6.45, but she had worked at home all day and said I was not welcoming and pleased to see her. Did not think I was any different from normal.
Saturday, Jan 30th - The first week’s teaching went off fairly well - felt that perhaps if I don’t like the niggers, some of the niggers like me!
Sunday, Jan 31st - Wondering whether the rebellion in Algiers will collapse and how. Heard de Gaulle broadcast to the French people. It was thought that some of the army might be disloyal, but if so his speech rallied them. There could be no ‘military feudalism’, their duty was to the state and to him as head of the government.
Tuesday, Feb 2nd - Both front springs on the car went on Saturday. Heard to-day it won’t be ready until Friday. Really think I must get rid of it soon, but each time it is repaired I think I must keep it longer to pay for the repairs!
Wrote to Brown in Jamaica to thank him for giving me the Chippendale chair at Maud’s.
Saturday, Feb 6th - Wrote to Rev Hubert Law, believed to be a second cousin in Omagh, Northern Ireland.
Sunday, Feb 7th - A historic week. Mr Macmillan finished his African tour in Cape Town. Long ago at Leatherhead in the ‘20s I can remember telling the sixth form we were following a contradictory policy in Africa - in West Africa and East and South Africa. Mr M went to Ghana, Nigeria and Nyasaland, where he said very little. He waited till he was invited to address the Union Parliament and then with fullest publicity, politely but absolutely clearly and firmly he told them “We reject the idea of any inherent superiority of one race over another.” He made it clear what Britain thought of South Africa’s policy and how little she was prepared to support it. Splendid that at last we have said what we believe and ceased to sit on the fence out of fear of offending South African opinion They have asked for it - they have got it.
Friday, Feb 12th - Sixty reached in fairly good shape. Neck still very stiff one one side, pains in gall bladder, teeth in short supply. Remember I think more clearly what I did at 11 than at 30, 40 of 50. Letters from Mary C, Wilk and Molly, but nothing from Hilary. Nora sent a book token on Wednesday. The government did its bit by sending a form I had to get attested at the bank for £476 and lump sum £1,276.
Mary cooked a very nice lunch, filet steak and mushrooms, followed by ginger and cream. Went to bed early even if 60!
Saturday, Feb 13th - Letter today from Hilary (posted yesterday) “In spite of the prophecies of doom, you seem to be entering on your seventieth decade under fairly auspicious circumstances. No war, no constitutional crisis, no not even a left-wing government - nothing more enervating than a railway strike”.
Reading Evelyn Waugh’s biography of Ronald Knox*, such an unhappy and frustrated man - still, he was warned that in the R.C. church Bishops neither scholars nor gentlemen with neither learning nor good manners.
*Ronald Knox, 1888 - 1957, became Anglican priest but in 1917 converted to Roman Catholic.
Friday, Feb 19th - Weather continues cold with snow and ice on the side roads. Car shows signs of packing up again and it is so difficult to get it to Stow or Moreton to get it put right. I frequently think never again will Iive in the country four miles from the nearest garage and no adequate bus service.
Monday, Feb 22nd - Had to take the car in this morning, a valve burnt out and no power. It is promised for Wednesday, the day we go to Stratford.
Wednesday, Jan 24th - The hoodoo on Stratford continues to work. Went up by bus to Stow at 4.10, garage deserted, car not ready, mechanic an auxiliary fireman called out to fire, went to other garage and with some difficulty persuaded them to drive us to Stratford. Arrived in time for dinner with Molly and Ruth in the theatre restaurant. About 9.45 a huge old Pontiac 1936 smelling of mould and with feeble lights arrived to take us back. It seemed well sprung and went a good pace, but when we turned off at Moreton on the side road to Evenlode one of the front wheels came off. We sat there while the young man rang back to Moreton for another car. Had this happened on the main road at speed we might have had a nasty accident.
Sunday, Feb 28th - A lovely spring day, temp up to 60°, the bees came flying round the house and I noticed the first dandelion and primrose in flower.
Monday, Feb 29th - Dr King poked me about and found two tender places, one under ribs another in colon. Advised me to see a surgeon in Oxford. Naturally after this tender spots felt worse and I depressed.
Tuesday, March 1st - We marked our 20th anniversary by a dinner at the Manor House Hotel (15/- each), an excellent chicken in paprika sauce and peach melba. We got back soon after nine and were long in bed together.
Wednesday, March 2nd - Hubert Law replied with long family tree, but could not identify photographs.
Thursday, March 3rd - Now have about 60 sheep with lambs outside classroom window So easy to teach through this their bleeting and baaing! I get fed up with them no less than the niggers.
Friday, March 4th - Sun shining in at window when I woke, lighting up miniature green bottles and snowdrops on the bookcase and room full of colour. Took the young group for a walk round the garden in the sun. Found primroses, coltsfoot, dandelion, speedwell and chickweed in flower, a wren, thrush and blackbird singing and by the wall a grass snake asleep.
Monday, March 7th - Personal call from Hughenden offering me curatorship which I had turned down by letter because of inadequate salary. No holidays and don’t like Dizzy anway. £6 a week whereas here £14. As call came to study, I had to tell Mrs M had been offered job, which was not a bad thing, as she pressed me to stay another year - teaching and church going only.
Tuesday March 8th - Drove to Oxford in bitter cold to see Mr Till. He kept me waiting for 30 minutes which, as a paying patient, I thought too long. Finally said my pain under ribs might be one of four things 1) Heart, 2) Rupture of diaphram, 3) Peptic ulcer, 4) Gall bladder. Wanted x-rays and cardiogram.
Friday, March 11th - Started off at 8.0 and reached Acland at 9.0 for x-ray. He was a gloomy and miserable looking man. Just as I was leaving he asked if I was losing weight. As I know losing weight is a symptom of cancer I immediately began to wonder if they had detected a growth in the stomach.
Sunday, March 13th - Church - very ghastly, then letter writing⋅ Miss Birch ill in bed. After working like a black for Pymonie she was bawled out at what Collard calls a complaints meeting. Told Mary my suspicions about cancer.
Monday, March 14th - Mrs M opened the post all jolly, then retired to bed far too ill to see a male visitor who arrived later in the morning. My guess he was dun!
Saturday, March 19th - Drove to Droitwich to have lunch with Miss Hunter. We drove by the roman road to Honeychurch and Bidford-on-Avon. It was very peaceful and pleasant. Looked at Feckenham Church - the home of the last Abbot of Westminister, a humble boy who made good and is still remembered there.
Tuesday, March 22nd - Into Oxford for third time. Went alone and as well I did for kept waiting for 40 minutes. Said I would like all cards on the table. This Mr Till took as a veiled insult and got very excited. Said x-rays showed gall bladder and stomach normal and flung films and reports down on the table. He cooled down after a bit and became more amiable. I came home as quickly as I could to tell Mary I had had a good report and we embraced in relief and joy.
Sunday, March 27th - Last Monday the South African police shot 86 Africans in one of the Johannesburg shanty towns. Deep anger in this country. The government evasive and refused to express disapproval, which U.S. did immediately and unequivocally.
Wednesday, March 30th - Last night the S. A. govt arrested all the leaders of the coloured people, black, brown and white. Crowds went to the police stations after burning their passes and asked to be arrested. They were told to go home. The enforcement of the pass laws has been abandoned.
Saw in the Times yesterday that old Mr Denham, the governor at Henley G.S. had died. I am not a Christian, but Christian or not, it is difficult to avoid the C of E burial service, or having avoided it devise something else.
I think I should like some music, Mozart and Beethoven and Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Tune and Air, and the readings - Lucretius Book III, 977, beginning “The old is always thrust aside to make way for the new”, Plato, The Apology, “Let us reflect and we shall see that there is great reason to hope that death is good” and Fidele’s song from Cymbeline,
“Golden lads and lasses must
Like chimney sweepers come to dust”.
Also Walter de la Mare:
Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no light
Seal thy sense in death by slumber
Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou would praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.
Thursday, March 31st - A press photographer from Moreton-in-the Marsh came over at two and spent an hour taking photographs of me in the home. The day was dull and he had to use a flashlight. He was a very talkative young man and kept up a flow of patter of no particular interest. I hope they will be some good and Mary will like to have them in ten or 15 years time!
Saturday, April 2nd - Went to Cheltenham. Decided on a sports cup for Henley and bought a light terylene coat at Burton’s. Mary came in and to her amazement was give a cup of tea while I was trying on. We had a marvellous time last night, but what we shall do sight seeing I can’t think. Even a half day on the pavements does us in. I love my Mary so dearly and told her in bed our visit to Greece would be a second honeymoon.
Sunday, April 3rd - Mrs M most gracious this morning. She had been investigating “sexual malpractices” among the boys and this had given her a great lift. Would I stay another year and be sure to let her know in good time if I decided to leave.
Monday, April 4th - A sunny day with glass low. Both felt very tired with the kind of tiredness that you get in spring. Had a look at the bees. They were tumbling over each other in great queues of golden-legged pollen carriers from the crocuses, celandine, and coltsfoot.
The top niggers were very resistant to the Iliad when I first started it, now thoroughly enjoying it. Just reached the death of Hector and may finish it by end of term.
Tuesday, April 5th - Dull, rainy and mild. Felt like chewed string. “The daily round, the common task!”
Listened to-night to the Queen proposing the health of President de Gaulle at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and for the the President’s reply. The Queen in spite of her thin and rather metallic voice spoke well and did try a few sentences in French; the general characteristically uttered no single word of English.
Wednesday, April 6th - Drove to Oxford to see the heart specialist, a Dr Buzzard. He was very pleasant. He advised me to go on taking Mycardol. It might not do me any good, but it would not so me any harm. He said my condition had not grown any worse in five years, in fact it might be better.
Thursday, April 7th - I find a television critic pointing out apropos of a television programme on V.D. that if you eat sweets all day and do not clean your teeth naturally they decay. That’s your business. If you don’t bring up your children properly and they get bad teeth or perhaps V.D. that’s your business too. There was some of that whimpering blackmail, the abdication of personal responsibility you get among some of the parents of our children. You can have your cake and eat it. Everyone is always entitled as of right to this and that and the bill is never presented. “Society” should foot the bill, and if if they don’t it is “unfair.”
Found a passage in Thomas Carew (1594 - 1640) to be very like Donne.
There, shall the Queen of love and innocence,
Beauty and nature banish all offence
From close ivy twins; there I’ll behold
Thy bared snow and thy unbraided gold.
There my enfranchised hand on every side
Shall o’er they naked polished ivory slide.
No curtain there, though of transparent lawne,
Shall be before thy virgin treasure drawn.
But the rich mine of the enquiring eye
Exposed shall ready still for mintage lie.
Monday, April 11th - We saw an excellent funny film, Twoway Stretch, about a prison brfeak by three convicts to steal the Rajales diamonds. Wildrid Hyde White, the actor, exactly like his father, old Canon White, of Bourton-on-the-Water, played the crook disguised as a visiting parson who planned the getaway.
Wednesday, April 13th - The tickets for Greece came today. Very simple compared with boat and train. Went into Cheltenham. Bought sun hat, clip on sunglasses and ordered Lire and Drachmas.
Good Friday, April 15th - Pymonie has now bought a tractor, plough, harrow, cultivator and mower for Mr Litt, who was complaining with much swearing of the strain on his van. He is not a character who moderates his language before ladies and is quite prepared to tell Mary exactly what he said to Jeremy.
Saturday, April 16th - Talk by Arthur Koestler on the Post Hiroshima era (P.H.15). We have come to terms with our mortality as individuals; we have now to come to terms with other mortality as a species. up till now we have always assumed since the middle ages that the species immortal. Now we have reverted to the Four Horsemen. No longer believing ourselves the Crown of Creation we may reach a new humility and peace.
Easter Sunday - A sunny day with a cold wind. Drove over to Tewkesbury for the eleven o’clock service. A big congregation. The nave lit by the morning sun. Enormous branches of cherry had been fastened to the columns. Had lunch at the Swan but rather unwisely chose jugged hare followed by cheese. Afternoon to Birtsmorton moated medieval manor; grim interior, cold and dirty.
Easter Monday, April 18th - Always foolish to go out on a Bank Holiday, however set off for Hidcote. Met a mass of cars along the Fosse Way and the garden was pretty full, though not as full as as one would have expected from the cars parked outside.
Tuesday, April 19th - It is estimated that 6 million cars on the roads yesterday! Heard tonight that 75 people killed over the weekend and 1,500 injured. Before a Bank Holiday now hospital beds are cleared in preparation. Saw a leader in the Daily Mail blaming “the government” for the road casualties.... Anything but acceptance of responsibility as individuals.
Monday, April 25th - Last night we stayed at a hotel in Kensington and after breakfast proceeded to walk to the wrong bus station, Kensington instead of Brompton. We got a taxi but were only just in time by about two minutes! The drive to Southend took a long time through the traffic of the city and shoreditch. The airport was a busy one which seemed to cater for smaller charter craft. We were soon over the Channel and across the French coast. In the early afternoon we came down on the huge airfield of Lyon, which contained only one other aircraft, and walked across the tarmac to the spacious and equally empty lounge with huge glass walls. After this the views became more exciting, the Alpes Maritime with some snow mountains in the distance, then the Riviera, Corsica and Elba. Rome airport some way out. We drove into the city past the monuments of the Appian Way and the aqueducts. What impressed you from the air was the immense blocks of ochre flats. The courier was a quiet little man with a nasal accident. We stayed at the Pension Swiss not far from the Spanish Steps and had a large quiet bedroom at the back. After dinner we walked up to the church and found a show of azaleas in large earthenware pots.
Tuesday, April 26th - In Rome! In the morning we went for a coach tour with an Italian woman guide with a voice like a road drill. Through the Borghese Gardens to the view point on the Pincian. We could see the snow thick on the Appenines. Then down the Via Del Corso to the Victor Emmanuel monument. From there to the classical monuments, the Forum, the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum. At the latter, but not the former, we got out of the coach! Next we crossed the Tiber by the Isola Tiberia up to the Janiculum and down to St Peter’s. I was pleased to see the Stuart monument. St Peter’s was crowded with visitors who were queuing for the lift to the Dome and was full of crush barriers. Among us we had a foolish sheeplike old lady who specialized in silly questions, on this occasion of St Peter’s, “Is this your church?” Mary as usual was champing at the bit to send a postcard home and while we stopped for a coffee I got it off at the Vatican Post Office, directed by a friendly friar. On the way back we stopped at the Pantheon, which struck me as dirty and depressing.
After a good lunch we decided to spend the afternoon in visiting by taxi Santa Maria Maggiore and St Giovanni in Laterano, both magnificent, the former with its gilded ceiling and fine C13 mosaic of the virgin and its two entrances, the latter with its Gothic high altar and delightful cloisters, where Mary bought a spoon. The district seemed too much like Tottenham Court Road for tea, so we took a taxi back to Spanish Steps and had it under a pergola which was green flowery and cool. Then we went for a walk in the Borghese Gardens. I liked the scale and spaciousness of Rome. Till one sees its building one has no idea of their size nor of how the classical Rome is built into Baroque and modern Rome. The snag was the traffic and the speed with which the Romans drove.
Wednesday, April 27th - We left Rome at 10 and they gave us an excellent lunch on board. 9,500 ft, 250 m.p.h. Two American Jews played cards the whole way. At first it was misty, but we saw the Ionian islands, our first view of Greece, and then flew up the Gulf of Corinth between huge ranges of cumulus.I saw what I imagined to be Patras with its harbour where Hilary embarked. For a time we flew above the rainbow.
Mr Lacey, a little squat man with a naval waddle, was waiting for us. I had more drachmas than we were told, but no currency restrictions were mentioned and we were soon packed into a rather small coach with strapontins - at which the American Jews complained. When he had got us altogether Mr Lacey warned us that hotel was in the old quarter with every sort of smell, not to expect interior sprung mattresses or a supply of hot water. There was a lot of diarrhoea in Athens and he had sulphaquanadine pills which he advised us to take at the first admonitory rumblings. If I had known this I would not have lugged Dr King’s mixture across Europe! As we drove into Athens he showed us some hovels of the 1924 refugees, two million to re-house. It was clear we had moved into a country somewhat behind N.W. Europe!! My first view of the Acropolis, distant high and yellow. The pepper trees and eucalyptus.
Mr Lacey announced that Wings had decided to take us straight away to Kaisariami Monastery, but I suspect it was a dodge because the hotel was not ready. This small and ancient monastery with its courtyards, refectory, dormitory, monastic cells, church, planes and pine trees, its fertility inducing spring, and lovely Byzantine church, lay in the foothills of the Hymettus. From it you could walk up to a spur on which was a tiny chapel with a view over Athens and the sea. After the continuous roar of the aeroplane and the traffic in Rome the complete quiet and peace of the mountains with only the gentle humming of bees was a delight.
We soon returned to the city roar. Estia Emboron was a large concrete block of seven stories in the middle of the old city. in a parallel street the ancient trams scraped and banged, at one side was a street market with porters and barrows, and just across the narrow gap was a technical school which worked in the evenings and erupted at about ten o’clock. You couldn’t have anything much noisier. Inside too the noise echoed from the floors and walls. A small dining room was on the second floor. We had never been in a hotel which had no drawers whatsoever in which to put things. Breakfast with a kind of plum jam was served in the bedrooms.
After dinner we went for a walk, but wished we had not. The pavements were full of holes, gaps, and other hazards; the streets badly lit; and in spite of a very necessary map supplied by the hotel we found it difficult to know where we were.
Thursday, April 28th - This morning we did two museums, the National and the Benaki.... We met our waterloo at lunch as we sat at a table with a squint eyed man and his wife. Never again! She was a neurotic with a never ending flow of talk, so ceaseless I could not make out how she ever managed to eat! The rest of the party had spotted this and taken evasive action. Mary was stunned but so polite that I felt we were probably marked down for future sessions.
After lunch Mr Lacey and Mr Bottaris took us to the Hill of the Poets for a view of the Acropolis and then to the Acropolis itself. Again I was amazed by the scale and beauty of the marble itself. After retiring to the bottom we had orange squash from a mobile stall. The postcard sellers swarmed but were less of a nuisance than expected. When some of the party were led away by the postcard sellers, Mr Lacey told them, “You can buy postcards anywhere in Athens, but there is only one Acropolis.” There is indeed.
Friday, April 29th. Breakfast at 6.O, off at 7 to Piraeus. The coach drew up at the quayside bustling with people embarking on boats for the islands which were drawn up stem first at the jetty. We pushed through the crowded second class to the first class forward and took chairs out on a small open deck overlooking the forecastle. We had on board the Bishop of Hydra, a venerable gentleman with two or three chaplains. We reached Hydra about 12. Lacey had warned us that the only place in a queue in Greece is the front; too polite English had been carried to the next island before they could shove their way off. After most of the passengers had landed, the Bishop disembarked. A procession was formed, all the bells were rung, and various Hydriots kissed his hand.
We were taken first to see a museum in a room at the municipal office on the quay which contained relics of Hydriot admirals. Lunch was at a cafe under a striped awning on the quay. It was delightful. We had fish and rings of squid washed down with sweet dark Monemvasia.
We reached Piraeus about 8.30. I enjoyed the trip immensely. Not so Mary. She sat tight on the boat and said it made her feel sick.
Saturday, April 30th - We had the morning free and sallied out to see that Saturday shoppers. In the afternoon we went by the inland road to Cape Sounion There was not very much left of the Temple of Poseidon though the situation was fine.
Sunday, May 1st - The day was hazy at first but later sunny and pretty hot. We made an early start on a tour to Argolis.... At the canal we stopped to peer down this narrow and steep cutting. No ships were in it. Past modern Corinth we climbed up to the old city with the great rock of Acrocorinth, topped by its medieval castle, in the background. We were taken round this rather too thoroughly by a young Greek archeologist for by this time it was very hot. It was interesting to see the fountain of Pirene, the anteroom of the law court where St Paul waited, a tiny oracle with a secret entrance for the priest and a public lavatory with a row of seat ‘tutti promiscui’.
On to the sea and the port of Nauplion for lunch. We were soon off again over the hills to Epidaurus. We climbed to the top of the theatre and the guide did his trick with the match to show the perfect acoustics. After another longish drive we climbed up to the car park below Mycenae perched on its hill between two mountain peaks looking down from this eyrie over the Argive plain. It was very impressive, especially viewed from the top. We went down to enter the extraordinary beehive tomb of Agamemnon. We reached the hotel about 10. It was a worthwhile day, but too long.
Monday, May 2 - A lovely sunny day and we made an early start for Delphi. We had a stop while Lacey read an account of Salamis and we had seen Plato’s olive tree, perhaps the oldest living thing in Europe. As we climbed to our left lay the range of Cithairon, beyond again the mountains of Helicon and beyond that the towering snow topped height of Parnassus. Lacey pulled up to show us the plain of Thebes and pointed out the place where Byron and Hobhouse stopped on Christmas Eve 1809 on their way south to Athens from Albania. At Livadia we stopped at a café beside the river shaded by pine trees. As the café had only one ritarata, while the ladies, the more numerous sex, used that, the men went beyond the bridge to “consult the oracle”.
After Livadia the scenery grew wilder and wilder and we began to climb in earnest, up and up in a series of hairpin bends till at length we reached one of the most desolate, lonely and awful spots I have ever been in, where, according to the legend, Oedipus killed his father.
About one o’clock we came down to 2000ft along the ledge below the Phaedriades. Down below lay the gorge opening onto the sacred plan and the sea. Beyond across the Gulf of Corinth towered the ridges of the Peleponnese. Overhead against the cliffs circled the eagles. It was a scene of the greatest majesty and grandeur and made a deep impression on us both.
Our hotel, the Catalia, backed onto the gulf from the terrace. Next the museum, which was in a state of disorder but we saw the Charioteer at least. Only the very active climbed to the stadium before the coach left. We slipped away and walked at leisure glad to be away from the party for a day or two. By now the coaches were leaving. The stadium lay in shadow, the stone of the seats still warm, silent and empty. Everywhere on the ruins were stonecrop and the lovely blue of the campanula muralis.
Tuesday, May 3rd - Places have their own sounds. At Delphi this was the sound of the braying of mules and donkeys to which we awoke. We breakfasted on the terrace on rolls and honey and set off to walk down to the Marbles below the road, but we had to give up and retrace our steps. Below the road at the Castalian spring a café had been built and we had a drink there but it was ridiculously expensive. They were charging for the view. After a siesta we walked up to the church, which was as modern as the village, and beyond it to a point where we had a view to our left of the gulf of Itea, the sea and the islands backed by a great wall of 50 or more peaks standing purple against the western sun; to our right cultivated green terraces with reapers at work and tethered animals below a great cirque of rocks. We discovered a road leading up to the pine woods on a level with the stadium and walked through there again to our seats of last evening. Again the quiet, broken only by birdsong, the mule bells and the distant voices of a few late tourists. Delphi is a fascinating and extraordinary place and has a special atmosphere of isolation and mystery as well as grandeur. We were right to stay another night.
Wednesday, May 4th - After some slight contretemps about the tickets, we found ourselves in the back seat of the 7.30 bus for Athens. It was light and comparatively springless. You gripped the seat in from and assumed an equestrian posture. Could we stick it? We did, with no apparent damage to our internal organs, for three and three quarter hours. There was one stop where we let out to make water and then straight through to Athens.
When we got back to the hotel we found the rest of the party had gone on a trip to Delos and lunch was a pleasant meal as we were bore-free. After lunch we went for a walk in the Agora. This was a mistake. It was dusty, dull and uninteresting.
Thursday, May 5th - Our last day in Greece. We decided to take a taxi to Kaisariani and end as we began. When we arrived we thought we would first walk out to the little church on the spur. As we approached we heard chanting. A service was in progress. We entered. The congregation consisted of one man, a cantor, who sang continuously at his desk, the Papa in white vestments, a fine upstanding figure, and a dozen women and a couple of children. These were communicated with a spoon. When the service was ended, the Papa appeared at the screen with the Holy Bread. He asked if we were Germans. No, Angliki. Were we Roman Catholics? No. Protestants? No. English Catholics, I said. Something registered and we were accepted and given bits of dry bread to eat. Just as we were leaving a tall lame man walking with a stick came to it. It was Mr Herter, the U.S. Secretary of State. When we went into the outer courtyard it was full of police and a large car with a U.S. flag stood in the roadway. Another surprise.
We left at 4.5 after a long wait at the airport.
“The lure of Greece brings with it the remembrance of transparent waves and glittering promontories, the scent of thyme and lavender among the mountains, the lucid shapeliness of all her islands. This insistent physical attraction,....so vivified in Greece....by the actual dramatic prospect which, in that amazing atmosphere, the eye is suddenly enabled to embrace. For above those beautiful pencilled mountains, or within those violet valleys, stands Helicon, Parnassus, Athens, Salamis, Marathon.” Nicolson, Last Journey.
Our hotel in Naples on the corner of the Piazza Garibaldi, was large, noisy, commercial and the waters were corrupt. The beds sagged.
Friday, March 6th - We bowled along the autostrada to Salerno for coffee at a café on the seafront - the lush green plain ringed with ills; walnuts, almonds, orchards potatoes, tomatoes, orange and lemon groves. First a German cemetery and then one of our own. All very neat an well kept. At the museum at Paestum we picked up an Italian guide who spoke a kind of English. It was a modern building and well arranged. The cases contained some votive wombs(!) which were new to me, and there were some good vases too. The temples were magnificent. Built of pockmarked volcanic stone the cracks and crevices had been occupied by plants which grew green and purple high above the colonades. Empty and deserted, they were now people by jackdaws that wheeled round them. The Temple of Neptune surprised by its scale. I picked a small bunch of wild flowers and left the posy as an offering to the Gods, Hera, Posiedon and Athena.
After lunch... Amalfi, then climbed the mountains to Castellamarre. Hairpin after hairpin became rather tiring and the driver was obviously exhausted by perpetually swinging the heavy coach . He had to have a break at Castellammare and we collected a tip and gave him a clap.
Saturday, May 7th. The coach for the airport left at 11.15. We had an early breakfast and got to the National Museum 10 minutes before it opened at 9.0. We took a tram to Capodemionte to see the Titians and Bellinis. In the end we only just made it reaching the bus with everyone in it at 11.10.
Sunday, May 8th - Neither Mary nor I had ever been with a party before and rather looked down our noses at them. There were three Oxford graduates, an ugly little woman, a director of education and his enormous wife, very superior. Four American Jews. An old lady and her daughter. A middle-aged mother and tongue-tied schoolgirl. Working class elderly workman, homely wife and ferocious daughter. Four talkative woman. Mrs arch-bore and husband. Three unattached young women. Two unattached men. A nice farmer and wife. ‘Aunt Amelia’, the sheep. Chandler, ex H.G.S. And ourselves.
Tuesday, May 10th - Niggers back to-day.
Saturday, May 14th - Saw my cup now engraved in italic script: “Henley Grammar School, Throwing the Javelin, Presented by H.D.Barnes, Headmaster 1934 - 1957. Arranged for it to be sent to Wally Rees.
Friday, May 20th - Letter from Wilk. Lipscombe told Wally he must send the cup back because it was from ‘a divorced man’. Wally asked him if he would tell that to the director, who was also ‘a divorced man’. That evening Wally had a message from Clem Clifford to say the Chairman of the Governors had agreed that (i) it should be accepted (ii) it should be presented on sports day. I am glad it was Wally he had to deal with this time. Wally can stand up to him and if shouted at will shout back - and louder.
Thursday, May 26th - First swarm in the garden hedge after lunch. Yook it satisfactorily in spite of lack of practice and Mary saw me hive it after supper.
Saturday, May 28th - A lovely day. The whole countryside is a mass of hawthorn blossom. Some bushes so decked that no leaves are visible. Have never seen more flower.
Found a notary in Cheltenham to certify my signature. At first he was doubtful because three lines of typing were necessary and he had no office staff. My suggestion that he might write in longhand so shocked him that in half an hour he had it done. Cost £1 11s 6d.
Wednesday, June 1st - Two more swarms in last two days. No more hives left. Williams ran away several times. Once found by a woman at Oddington in her sitting room with wireless turned on, cigarette lighted and all her money spread out on the floor!
Saturday, June 4. Mrs M today in a fit of temper sacked Lovegrove. It really is a shame considering the care and interest he has shown and the long hours he has worked to reclaim the garden. She has taken his keys and locked him out. An impossible woman! Recently besides dismissing Lovegrove she has quarrelled with Dr King (GP in Stow), with the M.O.H. at Moreton and the Stow police.
Today we were counting up her male staff. 1) Ward – a deadbeat from an interior decorations firm in the West End, recently fined £36, we don't know what for, police called about him on arrival. 2). Malcolm – the ex maladjusted, and not ex either! 3). Townsend, the W.O.G. 1 + 3 running to Mrs M with the tales of the other. 4) Michael Collard, the only relatively normal one among them. 5). Jeremy, the waster, as a reserve.
Sunday, June 5th - Cherry to lunch and tea. She was a bit gulpy when she arrived, but settled down later. Mary provided a very nice tea, home made scones, raspberry jam, chocolate sponge and our honeysuckle china.
Monday, Whit holiday, June 6th. Pymonie went off to cattle show at Warwick and did not tell me I was to take two groups together, but left message with Malcolm. Her usual trick, which I have now rumbled.
Patrick (sixth form pupil at Leighton Park School), second son of Mrs Kemp, once on staff at H G. S., wants to come after A levels to “study” the school. He proposes to bring a friend who wants to see churches, and camp. Mrs M agrees. I said he would want to know her policy and method. She replied that she had a policy but no method. Hear, hear!
Wednesday, June 8th - Took 10 niggers to Broughton Castle. They started dropping things off the tower and when I took them into a café for ices at Banbury pinched the sugar. On the whole I think it was a success.
Friday, June 10th - A social occasion in the village! A WVS speaker to talk at Colonel Reeves’ on how to protect yourself against the H Bomb! About a couple of dozen were packed in the morning room. Mr Price, the porter, Mr Hedges, the groom, the Colonel and myself the only men. I talked to the lady groom, Miss Davis, whom I found affable and intelligent. She was obviously curious about the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the Park; I had to be careful about what I said as the little Price boys were there.
Saturday, June 11th - Hilary came over from Oxford for the day. As usual I was excited and pleased by the prospect but depressed by the result! He seemed in low spirits; it was impossible to find out why.
Sunday, June 12th. The woman teacher, the fat Miss Benedictus(?), to the children Miss Bunny, seems an oddity. She told Miss Birch she did not wear knickers as it was so much cooler – pre-Victorian – Miss Birch told Mary who told me!
Saturday, June 18th - To Moreton where we tried and bought a green Austin A35 (the old 7) for £430, minus £15 on the 10. It had one owner, was licensed in 1957 and done 18,000.
Thursday, June 23rd - Picked up the car at Moreton-in-the-Marsh. Acceleration terrific! So many refinements could hardly cope with them all.
Friday, June 24th - The long promised and much looked forward to Keble Dinner with Hilary as my guest. He was waiting for me in the college lodge and I introduced him to various elders. In hall w sat near Mr Mitchell, Hilary’s tutor. The Dean of Westminster, extremely soigne in black silk stockings and shoes with silver buckles and frogged tail coat. He made as usual an excellent and accomplished speech. Mr Rice-Oxley followed. This was his last appearance as subwarden. He had ben drawn for the S.C.R and his pupils presented him with a clock. Some one struck up ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ and we gave three cheers. All a bit undignified I thought. The Dean’s speech too might on several occasions have been variously interpreted! ‘Double talk’ I whispered to Hilary.
I provided claret and port for the quartet! Hilary was surprised I could still sign chits. Well, I told him, in spite of all the hurdles, Latin, German and science, here we are sitting together in the college hall at the table where I used to sit 40 years ago - very gratifying. Now for the centenary!
Monday, June 27th - Three narks turned up to-night - on C.I.O, two RAF. The latter had spotted an R.A.F. bicycle addressed to me at Kingham Station, consigned to me by Hilary for the one he lost. I gave them Hilary’s address and rang him up to find out where he got it. From an ex-naval Ruskin man.
Tuesday June 28th - One of the R.A.F. narks bought bicycle along this afternoon. They had checked it out and it had been sold as scrap from an aerodrome in Rutland five years ago.
Friday, July 1st. No lesson at 7.15 tonight. Screams and zoological noises had been issuing from the building when Townsend came over and said I wouldn't be wanted. Tea had been a shambles. It seems they had been a nuisance a breakfast, so Pymonie said they should take tea by themselves. Knives and bottles were thrown, the walls coated with milk and jam and the floor covered with all kinds of sludge....It will provide Pymonie with a fine opportunity for a marathon inquest....
Sunday, July 3rd. This afternoon to Tewkesbury for Friends of the Abbey meeting followed by evensong at which the Bishop of Tewkesbury preached. I did not realize the friends were such local friends. It reminded me of tea after Prize Day at Henley. The Bishop a cricketer and also a sound judge of form on the turf.
Saturday, July 9th - Artur Lane arrived. To Upton House. A large lawn stretching from the house at the edge of which a series of terraces went down in steps to a big lake, with herbacious borders and annuals, quite delightful, something, I felt, in exchange for Cliveden.
Sunday, July 10th - Could hardly get anything out of Arthur but yes and no. Just before we set out for Kingham he told me with a great effort that he was going into the mental hospital again that night for electric shock treatment and apologized for being so dull and silent. I felt very sorry but could offer no consolation.
Monday, July 11th - Patrick Kempton and Richard Williams from Leighton Park came to stay. We had them into a glass of wine and found them a very nice pair, one doing churches and the others great houses and both the niggers. Mrs Kempton had told Patrick that at Henley I made history come alive, which pleased me.
Saturday, July 16th - The second year of our marriage completed. We went to dinner at the Farm House Hotel, Lower Swell.
Sunday, July 17th - Lise and Hilary came to lunch and supper. Lise very thin but a nice girl. Mary liked her. Took them to Sezincote.
Monday, July 25th - Wilk for weekend. She got very excited at supper on Friday and when telling stories about Wally Rees her voice rose to a scream. She wanted to talk about Lipscombe and I let her. The facts of what happened at the interview when he offered her the senior mistress job are coming out. He told her that unless he took it he “would get rid of her”.
Tuesday, July 26th - To Coventry. The factories had been closed for the summer and the place with these Midland industrial types like nothing one sees in the southern agricultural districts.
We went into the shell of the old cathedral where we saw the various models, plans and architect’s drawings of the new. Here I felt one might catch the emotions of the builders of Chartres and Amiens. A forest of steel girders so dense that the eye could not penetrate them filled the whole height of the building to support the concrete roof which had been recently placed on the recessed side walls of this immense opn airless hall. The air was full of the hum of electrical power and the shouts of the workmen, among whom were a number of negroes. We walked round to where through a gap in the hoardings you could see the last work of Epstein set out in silvery bronze against the south wall. One chapel was in use, though when I see Graham Sutherland’s psychotic nightmare figures of the bull, lion, eagle etc I am glad I am not a Christian and felt much inclined to tell a cathedral dignitary so as he wandered round talking to visitors.
The cathedral is to be finished in 162. It is in effect a great flat roofed hall with the windows recessed. Will the quality of the interior make it any different from a cinema or theatre? Some correspondence in the Times point out that the (?magnificent) windows will be recessed when looking east and therefore invisible to the congregation. Certainly a new idea to have stained glass you cannot see!
Saturday, July 30th - Splendid news! Pymonie came over to say that Hilary had rung up to tell me that he had got a second. He has accepted a job for two years as a trainee at the Wakefield Express at £500 p. a.
Monday, Aug 1 - I see that in the class list published in the Times today the women are given their christian names, the men their initials. The exception is Barnes who is down as Hilary J.
Stayed in to-day as the roads are so crowded and the weather uncertain, but had little to occupy me. What should I do if retired? Read? My eyes getting so liable to strain. Physical activity as ever limited by heart and blood pressure. Can’t lift because of my back. Glad to see Lady Astor says she imagined she would be regretting things she could not do when 80, now she is 80 and finds she does not want to them.
Tuesday, Aug 2nd - Mike Ward came down one morning and removed his tools, so he has gone. When he first arrived he told Mrs Litt this would be his home for the next 10 years. Most people feel on arrival they might stick it for a fortnight was her comment.
Wednesday, Aug 3rd - Patrick Kempton came down this afternoon with a view to coming here in Michael C’s place. If I were in Mrs M’s place I would not appoint him. A fat buttoned up little man who did not listen, to what you said. When you shook his hand it was like holding a fillet of plaice.
Thursday, Aug 4 - Very amused to hear that Miss Bustin, a kind of Shavian secretary who ran Banbury Grammar School and the headmaster, Rowse, was now mayor of Banbury!
Wednesday, August 10th - Set out for Wells. Stopped at Tetbury to see the remarkable Gothic revival church of 1781, very high with slender cast iron columns. A find. Reached Wells about six and stayed at a one star hotel on the outskirts. At first I did not think much of it, but it improved on acquaintance, clean, good food, pleasant service and plenty of hot water. After dinner went to look at cathedral.
Thursday, Aug 11th - We spent the first part of the morning in the cathedral. I don’t think I had been inside since the early ‘thirties. Very conscious of Wells of the Glorious restoration 1660 - 1960. The city was a royalist stronghold not far from the puritan clothiers of Bridgewater and Taunton. Nextg drove to Longleat for lunch. I was amazed by the size of the park and the beauty of the trees. We went round with a party. The guide was adequate. Fine Italian gold ceiling, good family portraits, some handsome furniture. By the time we came out it was pouring with rain. Decided to go into Glastonbury where we had tea but too wet to go to the Abbey.
Friday, Aug 12th - Spent morning enjoying the cathedral and the water surrounding the Bishop’s place. Had our lunch at Camley where we gone to see a small Norman church with C15 windows, then to Wellow, a good perpendicular church. Tea at Bath at Fortes. Home about 7. Total mileage 245. Cost: Hotel £6 - 6s (22/6 B & B each), tips 7s, Expenses £3 8s 7d, Total 10 7s 1d.
Thursday, Aug 18th - Have extracted honey with Mr Holland’s, our postman’s, extractor, as last year. About 30 - 40lbs, a poor year.
Friday, Aug 19th - A lovely day on the Malverns. Climbed Midsummer Hill (937ft) where we had our lunch. To the British Camp. Had not been there before (1,114ft) and had no idea what a magnificent specimen of an iron age camp it was - as fine as Maiden Castle.
Sunday, Aug 21 (With Nora at Sutton). Had an early lunch and then went to Hampton Court by bus. Heard that picture galleries at Buckingham Palace to be open to the public next year. What a good idea! Royalty takes cue from Dukes and Marquises.
Monday, Aug 22nd - To Guildford to see cathedral. It was still screened by builders hoardings but it is to be opened at Whitsun next year. Much preferred it to what I imagine Coventry will look like. Bricks pleasanter than sandstone and no concentration camp art outside.
Wednesday, Aug 24th - Chichester. While walking up from station had a peculiar experience of double consciousness. I was living in the wolds at the same time, one with Nora in Chichester, the other quite different and not very pleasant belonging, I think, to the past. This second one faded very quickly after I ceased to be in it so that in a short time I could remember nothing of it. Like a sleeping dream, except that I was not asleep but walking about Chichester!
Thursday, Aug 25th - Home to Mary fo tea. Very happy and full of affection to be together again.
Monday, Aug 29th - Yesterday thunderstorms, Saturday whirlwinds, to-day dark and rainy. What a summer! Still waiting for a clear patch to go to the Black Mountains.
Wednesday, Aug 31st - Dull and showery. To Burford. Went to see the new museum n the Tollbooth and saw the charters, regalia, etc. Last saw these in 1921. I was taken there by R. H . Gretton, who was a don at Keble. He had a house in Sheep St and his wife, Mrs Sturgely Gretton was a ghastly woman. In the end he went off to Paris with one of his girl pupils (left Keble in 1928 and died at Windsor in 1936).
Monday, Sept 5th - A doubtful day but decided to set off for Crickhowell.The Dragon Guest House was full so we had to have double bed at Six Bells. We were much disturbed by the low company in the bar until 11. Did not sleep at all well.
Tuesday, Sept 6th - The Dragon Guest House was an old decayed 18th century house, once an inn. It was informal. Meals were served at a long table in relays.
Crickhowell like Milkwood seemed full of eccentrics. In the house opposite lived an elderly beaver. We were told he was a commitance man, paid to keep away, that he had married a girl of 16 who had left him after producing three children, one, a small girl, being still with him. At the hotel was a boozy proprietress who attended fires in a helmet and the election booth with a shotgun until disarmed by the police. She only accepted guests she liked the look of.
Wednesday, Sept 7th - Ever since I first climbed it on August 29th, 1956, I have wanted to return to Mynnyd Llysiau. To-day proved fine after the rain so off we set and reached the top in time for lunch.The view was magnificent. We were alone with the ravens and the buzzards.
Saturday, Sept 10th - A rich day. On our return to Adlestrop we visited: White Castle; delightful, no one there. Skenfrith, stopped to look at the church; The Wye near Howe Capel for lunch; Tilney Basset, rectory of Howe Capel, not seen since 1922; the decayed house of Hellens at Much Marcle; Tewkesbury for tea and visit to the Abbey. Did 450 miles on holiday in Wales. B& B at Dragon 25/- with evening meal.
Sunday, Sept 11 - Found a letter from Hilary in which he said there was every likelihood, though it was not certain, that Lise and he would marry. It was so ambiguously worded that I wondered if he had got her with child! I rang Nora. She thought not.
Friday, Sept 16th - Collected 14 fruits from the garden and gave a very successful lesson to little boys. Letter from Hilary yesterday thanking me for present and telling me more about Lise. Not yet divorced from Bent.
Tuesday, Sept 20th. Today as John Harris entered my classroom he shouted “dogbrush”. Was it a reference to my moustache or some other obsenity or nonsense? (It was later suggested that the word may have been “bogbrush”)
Thursday, Sept 22nd - Mr Litt had a first class row with Jeremy this week. Mrs M in a dilemma - Jeremy, lazy though he is, her son. Mr Litt has been praised and is in fact indispensable as long as sheep and bullocks there. She goes away for two days to let tempers cool. Patrick Kempton finds dormitories difficult and had to get Townsend in to help to-night, but in a fortnights time Townsend goes back to Cambridge and then I guess, the whole lot will fall on Kempton.
Saturday, Sept 24th - Went to Cheltenham to see one of these ghastly modern plays. As far as I could make sense of it at all it seemed to have some esoteric psychological drift. It took place in a seaside lodging where a psychotic young man was had taken refuge, staying in bed most of the day and never going out, befriended by the vacant but motherly and good hearted landlady. To the lodging came two men, one a talkative smart alec, the other a thug. There is also a tart-like girl. The two men force the psychotic to have a birthday party at which he is given a toy drum, and smart alec and tart start to make love, while thug threatens them with violence. The five characters apart from the hero appear to be intended to symbolize various forces in conflict in the hero’s mind. After three acts of talk, mostly quite meaningless, the psychotic is forced to put on a bowler hat and the two thugs cart him off. Curtain! Only one man in the audience protested audibly. I should have liked my eight shillings back.
Friday, Sept 30th - The Prime Minister made a calm and reasonable speech at the U.N. assembly. He wiped the floor with Krushchev’s charges of imperialism and colonialism - Nigeria becomes independent to-night - and he pointed out that the U.S. and the West had given more to the underdeveloped countries in one year that the Russians had in six. Mr K got angry and started shouting. P.M paused and asked if it could be translated. When there was no response he went on to a ripple of laughter. Our case, the case of the West, is being put well but dealing with K is like dealing with a pig. His manners and language are crude and rude.
Saturday, Oct 1 – Cyril and Kay to lunch. Cyril on holiday found the day to hot and went into a public W.C. to remove his pants. He was very surprized to see his trousers, which he had taken off and placed on the floor, disappearing under the partition, more surprized when shortly they were returned with the money they contained still intact.
Sunday, Oct 2nd – Princess Alexandra handed the Nigerian Federal P.M. The documents which established the new sovereign state. Speaking to the former British administrators he said: 'Today we are reaping the harvest which you sowed and the quality of the harvest is equalled only by our gratitude to you. We have known you first as masters, then as leaders and finally as partners but always as friends'
Thursday, Oct 6th – Yesterday the Labour Party conference voted unilateralist [to abandon nuclear weapons] and rejected the policy of the parliamentary party. If there is one thing that is likely to keep Labour out of power for years it is the intention to leave NATO and this must follow from their policy.
Last night to Stratford to see Troilus. What a play! 'Bitter' is the word. The Greeks are shown as dumb intriguers, the Trojans as lecherous, and Cressida as a whore.
Friday, Oct 14th – The Times thinks that Krushchev and his colleagues, having realized their failure to sway the minds of most Africans and Asians towards acceptance of Soviet leadership, are determined to hamstring the organization and reduce it to futility. On Wednesday he took off his shoe and banged it on his desk and shook it at the Irish president, the comic but cunning clown.
Monday, Oct 24th – Mr Litt told Mary this morning that Kempton had gone. Pymonie went away on Friday till Sunday. On Friday night Jeremy came home late and had a quarrel with Kempton over an alarm clock, which Kempton refused to hand over on the grounds that he was starting early for Reading in the morning. Jeremy rang his mother in London, who rang back Kempton and told him he could leave. I am sorry for Miss 'Bene', who is now the sole occupant of the staff room and has no one to talk to.
Sunday, Oct 30th – Dons, school masters and mistresses, novelists, bishops and clergy all testifying on behalf of Lady Chatterley. Soon our numbered copy will not be worth more than 3/6 and we were keeping it to support our penurious old age! First read it in 1946.
Wednesday, Nov 2nd – On Monday dealt with sex in cattle, and incidentally in human beings, with Group 1. Tremendous excitement and all shouting at once. Unlike normal children seemed full of fear of castration.
Thursday, Nov 3rd – Mary went home today. Last night my darling sweetheart came into my bed because she thought I might be lonely to-day.
Monday, Nov 7th – A very good account of Lady Chatterley trial by Kenneth Tynan in Observer, another good account by woman journalist. Both Tynan and Sybille Bedford agree that the defence witnesses marked the turning point of the trial – Miss Helen Gardner from Lady Margaret Hall and Richard Hoggart of the University of Leicester. Miss Gardner shone and radiated goodness and Richard Hoggart was a man of rocklike integrity. It was he who took the word so far only used by the prosecution and used it in a most simple and neutral way: 'one fucks'. The counsel for the prosecution then read aloud some of the most impressive passages intending the listeners should think them revolting and impure, not realizing as he went along that they were having the very opposite effect. Two different Englands, different in time, different in outlook, were confronted. It was on them perhaps rather than Lawrence that the verdict of the jury was given.
Wednesday, Nov 9th – Heard today that Senator Kennedy, Roman Catholic, millionaire and Democrat aged 42, elected President of the U.S.A.
Wednesday, Nov 16th – Gilbert Harding died this afternoon after making a recording of the Round Britain Quiz I always listen to while having luncheon on Thursday. He was a victim of the new kind of popularity that television brings. It was thrust on him and made him unhappy, frustrated and irritable. He alternated between exploiting his popularity to earn money and keep his position with the television public and moods of deep depression made worse by ill health. He was defeated by his own success. It is really a tragic story
Thursday, Nov 20th – Yesterday to Birmingham to visit Donald. He took us to see the post mortem room. There were no bodies on the large tin trays. They had been put back in the ice box. I was disappointed.
Thursday, Nov 24th – A great scandal here among the ladies. Mrs Litt, the cook, Miss Birch and the cleaners. A German girl with a bambino has turned up and is staying in Mrs Moeran's flat. She is supposed to have run away from her husband in Germany, but the ladies are convinced by the evidence of their eyes that the bambino is Jeremy's, begotten when he was at Davies, Laing and Dick in 1957. German mother as soon as girl was pregnant, so the story goes, whisked her back home and married her off quickly.
Friday, Nov 25th – Jeremy (and girl?) left this morning at 5.30. He is supposed to have been turned out for good. Felicity it seems told the children's officer that he had knocked her about. Another Berkshire child also complained to his parents and was removed last term. Pymonie is coping alone this weekend.
Mary pointed out that she had 3 outside staff, 2 inside staff and four part time, but no supervisors. The niggers appear to be taking their own tea. What a place. We may be in the News of the World yet!
Wednesday, Nov 30th – Group 3 made difficult by the presence of a batty girl with a voice like a foghorn, Heather. She sings at night and can't be stopped. She seems to have had considerable success as an “unfosterable” and appears to me to have a good knowledge of group disruption.
Friday, Dec 2nd. Pymonie came into my room before school today and told me the Ministry of Agriculture adviser had told her she was losing so much money she had better sell off the stock and tools quickly. She thought I was bound to hear rumours but wanted me to know the school was financially sound. This was decent of her.
Monday, Dec 5th - Heard from Nora to-day that Ministry of Education interested in a school at East Grindsted where you pretend to be dead and then remake yourself from dust, thus exorcizing all lesser fears like the 11+. Reminded of the divine in Pepys who preached on the text ‘Roll yourself in dust.’
Saturday, Dec 17th. Pymonie disappeared to London. Before leaving she had a row with Townsend and told him he need not come back after Christmas, so leaving Michael Collard alone to do the cooking and look after the children. She left instructions that when he arrived he was to ring her up. Obviously before leaving for Austria tomorrow she wanted to be sure he was here. He heard the news from Miss Birch and said he was a glutton for punishment. I told him if he was not careful he'd find himself with sheep, cattle and pigs on his hands!
Saturday, Dec 24th - Hilary has been doing good work at Wakefield. He has exposed the scandal of an old couple flooded out in a Coal Board house in the paper and the sociql agencies have been stirred up to act.
Christmas Day, - This year we adopted for the first time in my life as far as I can remember the custom in Mary’s family of having our ,presents after dinner. This was party because I had said I would accompany her to Matins at 10 o’clock. The rector must needs give an address, but the form of service was short. There were about a dozen there including a contingent from the colonel’s.
For dinner we had roast chicken (from the freezer), excellent, and Christmas pudding, Asti Spumante (cooled outside all night) and Mavrodaphne in which to drink the health of absent friends and Hilary and Lise.
Mary gave me ‘The Quiet American’, a book token and some fur for my slippers; I gave her a cheque, a bottle of Benedictine, a calendar of Swiss stamps and a rather dull poem. Now we are living together the muse is less fluent!
We listened to a Brahms piano concerto after tea to Montgomery playing records of songs, hymns, dances that he remembered. He was at pains to point out how friendly he was with various celebrities and that we could not all be equal! We heard again the King’s College Carols and Alistair Cooke. It was a quiet Christmas but very enjoyable.
Wednesday, Dec 28th - Yesterday to meet at Bourton-on-the Water. One attraction was the Marquis of Blandford - the horse was nice. To-day went to lunch with Molly. What with Ruth shouting and the constraint between Molly and Mary I kept thinking of how unhappy I was there in 1957 and fell into a depression.
Friday, Dec 30th - A rewarding day - Set off at 8.30 for Henley. Arrived about 10.30 at Wilk’s for coffee, then to Cherry, very dopey and blinky correcting exam papers, on to Wally Rees, very pleased to see me, then to Phyllis, embraced on both cheeks. Johnny and Jimmie on view, latter most peculiar, narrow head, short upper lip, small chin, large nose and greenish eyes which never meet yours. Johnny handsome and normal. Phyllis has consulted a psychiatist about Jimmie’s rages and outbreaks of violence.. Lunch with Wilk at White Hart, Nettlebed, and visit to Marjorie Hunter in afternoon. Tea with Attrills and to end
up a visit to Tom and Len where I sat down to another cup cake with Mr and Mrs Len.
Saturday, Dec 31st - Mary and I to Cinderella at Cheltenham with Clarkson Rose as the Dame, his 50th ballet, ventriloquist, dogs, comic musicians etc. We spent the end of the old year and the beginning of the new in my bed.
On the whole I suppose it has not been a bad year. There was no summit and the USSR extracted the utmost propaganda from the American flights over Russia, but Mr Krushchev went slow over Berlin.
Africa has been the continent the most in the news. Nigeria became independent with an efficient government trained for the job, the Congo with no government to speak of collapsed into tribal anarchy where it remains.
Adlestrop, June 10, Atkins, Myles, Jan 1, Barnes, Molly, Dec 28, Birch, Miss, Mar 13, June 12, De Gaulle, Jan 31, Apr 5, Chippendale chair, Feb 2, Clayden, Mary (Cherry), June 5, Collard, Michael, June 4, Dec 17, Coventry Cathedral, July 26, Doctors, Feb 29, Mar 8, 11, 22, Apr 6, Double consciousness, Aug 24, Educational underworld, Dec 5, Funeral wish, Mar 30, Heath, Donald, Nov 20, Henley visit, Dec 30, Hilary, Jan 4, 19, Dec 24 Feb 13, June 11, 24, July 17, July 30, Aug 1, Sept 11, 16, Holidays, Greece, Apr 25-May 8. Wells, Aug 10-12, Black Mountains Sept 5-10. Holland, John Aug 18, Hollywood, Jan 17, Hunter, Marjorie, Mar 19, Iliad, April 4, Kempton, Patrick, June 6, July 11, Aug 30, Koestler, Apr 16, Krushchev, Sept 30, Oct 14, Lane, Arthur, July 10, Lady Chatterly, Oct 30, Nov 7, Law, Rev. Hubert, Feb 6, Mar 2, Lipscombe, Jan 16, May 20, July 25, Lise, July 17, Keble, June 24, Aug 31, Kennedy, Nov 9, Modern drama, Sept 24, Moeran, Pymonie, Mar 13, 14, Apr 3, 15, June 4, July 1, Sept 22, Oct 24, Nov 24, Dec 2, Nigeria, Oct 2, Nora, Aug 21, Nuclear weapons, Oct 6, Peach, Cyril, Kay, Jan 12, Oct 1, Pierce, Mr & Mrs, Jan 3, Stratford, Oct 6, South Africa, Feb 7, Mar 27, 30, Tewkesbury, Jan 10, July 3, Wilkinson, Marjorie, May 20, July 25,