Saturday, Jan 16th - Today received from Somerset House my paternal grandparents’ marriage certificate and discovered that my grandparents were ‘in trade’ - one a grocer and the other a baker in Chatham! What would Molly have said? Perhaps it explains Father’s lack of interest in his family and Mother’s remark that the Barnes were a very narrow lot of extreme respectability.
[See 1965 index at end of this post]
Tuesday, Jan 19th - The Grand Old Man has been lying in a coma after a stroke last Friday at his home in Kensington.
Sunday, Jan 24th - When I woke up the snow had melted. Switched on
wireless for the weather just before nine and heard music but the penny
did not drop. The grand old man to whom we owed more than we could ever
repay had died less than an hour before.
whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the
war. If we stand up to him all Europe may be free and the life of the
world may move forward into broad sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then
the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have
known and cared for will sink within the abyss of a new Dark
Age......Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear
ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a
thousand years, men will still say: ‘This was their finest hour.’’ June 18, 1940.
only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is
the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to
walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by
the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but
with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the
ranks of honour’. 12.11.40
Winston is to be given a funeral comparable to that of the Duke of
Wellington. Lying in state in Westminster Hall, procession to St Paul’s,
back by river to Waterloo, and then rail to Bladon Church outside the
park at Blenheim. Bladon is not much of a place (I looked in to see the
graves of his father and mother last summer) but as the only two other
prime ministers buried the Abbey this century are Bonar Law and Neville
Chamberlain, he should certainly not be put in with those members of the
great burst of words about him in the papers and on the wireless. I
liked as well as any what Lady Asquith said in the House of Lords.
men have touched such heights and depths of triumph and disaster. It
was in his darkest days that that I thought he was the greatest. I am
thinking of the 1930s, when he was in the shadows, at odds with his own
party and with all the powers-that-be. He saw so clearly the danger, the
deadly peril that encompassed us. He saw the danger and the choice we
must make. To him it was a stark, simple, moral choice between tyranny
and freedom, good and evil, life and death. He dedicated all his powers
of vision, persuasion and expression to awaken the sleeping conscience
of the nation to its peril and to its honour, and he failed. Awakening
came from the fulfilment of the doom he prophesied and did his utmost to
divert. He created in each of us his own heroic image of ourselves so
that we were transmuted by his faith into the people he believed in. The
resolve to keep unbroken that pattern of greatness which he impressed
upon the spirit of the nation - this is the tribute he would choose from
story goes that a young civil servant was sent to see Churchill to
discuss his funeral arrangements and suggested that it would be much
simpler for the coffin to be sent to Bladon via Paddington Station
rather than Waterloo. Churchill said he would agree to that only if De
Gaulle died before he did, but if de Gaulle were still to be alive, he
insisted on Waterloo!]
Tuesday, Jan 26th - Went round to visit the Roberts and to see old blind Miss Butterfield. She has a ‘talking book’ of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
Old Mrs Roberts and Cill were present. The former makes little effort.
‘Butters’, however, is mentally very active and consequently very
frustrated. As she cannot read the Radio Times she frequently gets the time of the programmes wrong.
Jan 30th - The funeral was comparable only to those of Nelson and
Wellington. We watched on Miss Worgan’s television. The weather was
Siberian, but the sun shone through the icy wind. I left when they
reached St Paul’s and listened to the remainder at home. Miss Worgan had
not bothered to black out the windows. The curtains were inadequate and
the image in consequence faint. The coffin on its gun carriage covered
with the union flag moved packed in a solid phalanx of seamen. As it
left the Palace the guns sounded sinister at intervals along the route.
The funeral marches of Handel, Chopin, and Beethoven were played by the
the gun carriage, used for royal funerals, since and including Queen
Victoria, came the family. First walked the men, in gloomy contrast to
all the uniforms in top hats and black overcoats, Randolf and
Christopher Soames in front. Then two antique looking coaches with Lady
Churchill, the daughters and daughter in law.
contrast the rest was service precision and history aplenty - the
Guards, his first regiment of Hussars, the Marines in their white belts
and gaiters, the fighter pilots of 1940, now grown rather stout and
middle aged - his two standards, the Garter and the Cinq Ports, the
decorations carried on cushions by officers who had them slung on
ribbons round their necks (like men selling toys in the street), the
state trumpeters, the Herolds, the Yeomen of the Guard, the Lord Mayor
with the Sword of State, the Archbishop and the Bishop of London in tall
the cameras picked out the Prime Minister and for the first time the
Cardinal of Westminster and the Papal Nuncio seated among the
congregation. They were offered placed in the stalls, but cautiously
preferred to sit behind the cabinet!
the gun carriage came up Ludgate Hill the pall bearers moved down the
great flight of steps. They included Eden, Macmillan and, a fine
gesture, old Attlee very very shaky and slow with a stick to help him.
The Queen had already arrived with the Duke and Prince Charles, the
first reigning monarch ever to attend the funeral of a subject.
Allanbrooke and Cunningham were dead, but Eisenhower was there and de
Gaulle, towering over the rest as the head of the French state.
Characteristically Winston had chosen his own hymns - Bunyan Fight the Good Fight, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and O God Our Help. The service ended with the trumpets sounding high up in the dome, the Last Post and then after a silence Reveille blown by a single trumpeter.
Tower Pier the pipers were playing and as the coffin was taken on board
the waiting launch the guns fired again from the Tower. The cranes on
the wharfs dipped their jibs in salute.
The bosuns piped him aboard and as the launches moved away, a typical Churchillian touch, Rule Britannia
sounded across the waters. Only one tribute more remained - the boom of
16 Lightnings of Fighter Command roaring and dipping over the river.
The tide was at flood.
did Churchill fail in the 30s? He had matchless powers of communication
in speech and writing and, though he had no press backing, he had
articles regularly in the Evening Standard and the Telegraph. Did people pay no attention to him because the editors of The Times
and Mr Baldwin told them not to?? Because he had been wrong over India,
because he had been wrong over the General Strike, because he had stuck
by Edward VIII at the time of the abdication? Hardly. Because he had
been wrong it did not mean he was wrong over Hitler. It was the
impossibility of making people see what seemed obvious about Hitler (and
seems obvious to-day) which was so frustrating.
he was distrusted because it was believed he liked and enjoyed war in
romantic terms (Omdurman, the Dardanelles, Archangel, and so on). Yet
how anyone who read The World Crisis and The Aftermath
could believe this I cannot understand. He was preoccupied with the
problem of how to mobilize force to prevent a major war; to keep the
peace ‘arm and stand by the Covenant’ was his cry. In 1936 Hitler could
have been overthrown without any difficulty, or at worst by a small war
instead of a huge one.
again the anxiety aroused by any proposal to use force, e.g., over
South Africa, over Cuba, over the spread of nuclear weapons, to prevent
small wars becoming big ones, is with us again. Our debt to him is
showing how a terrible war might have been avoided by wisdom and
Thursday, Feb 4th - Went into the Roberts at 7 o’clock to read The Corner That Held Them
to blind Miss Butterfield. Now I have started I shall have to go on,
but I am very sorry for her and she is very patient, aged 79.
19th - Ruth to lunch. By herself without Molly Ruth seemed to have
changed a great deal. She was brisker, less sentimental, more sure of
herself. We both remarked on it and found her much improved. There was
no atmosphere of disapproval which was so marked when Molly was present.
Feb 20th - We spent an interesting morning working on the French clock.
The flowers and figure were hardly visible. The figure was revealed as a
young man sending a note to his love attached to a pigeon. Father
bought it at Lady Meaux’s sale in 19?10. It must have been made in Paris
for Maples. Very elegant!
Sunday, Feb 21st - Abuse in Burton’s Nights
- one woman to another - ‘When thou pissest thou swishest; if thou turd
thou gruntest like like a busten wine skin or an elephant
transmogrified; if thou go to the water closet thou needest one to wash
thy gap and pluck out the hairs that overgrow it’.
Feb 23rd - To Oxford to meet Nora. In afternoon visited the new St
Catherine’s College by this Danish architect [Arne Jacobsen]. Material
concrete and yellow brick. No curves of any kind. No sculpture,
decoration, carving, ornament of any kind. Hall was open. No windows;
top-lighted between concrete beams. No colour except Master’s chair at
high table in red leather instead of ply. A Spartan barracks. You waited
for the Storm Troopers to march in. Felt our architects might have done
better and struck a mean between Butterfield and Belsen.
February 28th - To Coventry to see the Cathedral. We last saw it in the
summer of 1960 when it was surrounded by hoardings and full of the
noise of cranes and concrete mixers. The great design now stood
complete; huge, dignified and immensely strong and full of Christian
symbolism. I most enjoyed the chapels of Unity, of Service and of
Gethsemane, next the eight carved stone inscriptions, then the concrete
columns supporting the roof and finally the richness of the nave
windows. The great tapestry had majesty but was spoilt by the
insect-like body of the Christ and the drug addict symbols of the
evangelists or beasts. One of the few things I disliked was the Swedish
window at the head of the ‘north’ aisle which looked too much like a
pack of cards, but the great windows of the nave and baptistry were
magnificent. Although much has been made of the ‘modern’ character of
the Coventry it is basically a very conventional plan.
March 1st - Twenty five years on! I gave Mary a silver broach and she
gave me a Polish peasant rug for my bedroom At breakfast my darling Mary
was so overcome that she wept.
Thursday, March 4th - A swingeing blizzard. The post arrived but otherwise only the snowplough outside on the road.
March 5th - By the end of the morning we had cleared a passage the
width of the car through the drifts which was two feet deep in some
places. In the afternoon we were able to go to Stow and shop.
March 9th - For our first year here I kept a record of flying. It
worked out as follows: 365 days: 132 days no flying; 328 nights no
flying, 37 flying.
Friday, March 19th - To Oxford to meet Nora and Hilary. Nora’s birthday.
March 22nd - Had to take Hilary into Cheltenham with me on Saturday
afternoon as going to a Beekeepers’ meeting. He went to a film. Sunday
wet and miserable. By evening we had reached a point where he spoke less
and less and I tried to keep things going by asking questions to which
he replied as shortly as possible. He appeared depressed (whether he
really was or what about it was impossible to tell). It proved
impossible to get anything out of him about his future plans. As usual
Mary got no encouragement for the meals she provided for him for the
arrangements she made for his comfort, nor I, when I got him a copy of
the will, received any commendation for my efforts to secure him
Father’s money. If only he sometimes showed appreciation of what we do
for him it would be nice!
Wednesday, March 25th - Miss Butterfield, who came round for a session of The Corner That Held Them to-night, said ‘When I was in Buda attending a European conference on prostitution....”!
March 26th - Over to R.D.C. offices to see Surveyor and Clerk about the
tip ‘on Tattles’. The surveyor disclaims all interest, Clerk says it is
a matter of finding out to whom the land belongs. Though friendly and
interested clear we shall get nowhere through them. Advised me to get in
touch with Scaramangar at farm, R.D.C. representative. Rang him up,
Eton and Brasenose, cultured voice, grandfather massacred by the Turks,
Father a refugee, his main object to avoid incurring any expense - and
avoid meeting me.
Humanists in Cheltenham. There were about 40 people there, including a
rather nasty young parson who explained in the coffee interval how he
kept order during religious instruction at the parish secondary modern
school by hitting the nearest boy on entry hard over the head with a
bunch of keys. Felt sorry I had stood him a cup of coffee, but not much,
March 31st - Bought a motor mower for £33. As Mary said, you could buy a
suit for that, but neither she nor I can cut the grass with the beastly
little push mower. Now I can do it, and did it in no time.
April 4th - A rather social day. Our neighbours the newly married
Marcia and Graham Kitchin in to tea. He is talkative but speaks badly
and grammar poor, her speech much better - as so often with girls.
April 8 - A lovely day and everything went right. We set off about half
past ten for Stratford intending to have a look at some part of the
newly cleared Stratford Canal. It began to rain so we went to Charlecote
instead. The Gatehouse had been restored and the first floor opened as a
Lucy museum. The house had been much improved since we last went there
in 1955 as had the gardens. Near the entrance there was a very pleasant
restaurant newly opened where we had lunch for 10/- each. After this in
nice time for Love’s Labours Lost. A beautiful production. L.L.L 16 years ago! Charlecote 10 years ago! ‘We shall never grow younger.’
Good Friday, April 16th - A gardening day. Started drizzling, but soon cleared and was sunny and pleasant.
back from Oxford where there had been trouble with old Mr Pierce. He
wanted us to go over on Easter Day and turned nasty when she said we
couldn’t. The aim of the doctors to keep us alive indefinitely is
dubious. Left to himself he would have died about 70 from prostate
trouble. Operated on for that he now lives on to nearly 90. For the last
15 months he has spent nine in bed. For nine months, Mrs Pierce, 86,
carries his meals upstairs, makes his bed and so on. When he feels like
it he shouts to summon the old lady up a steep flight of stairs. He will
not have an Elsan and a bed on the ground floor (the old WC has been
turned into a coal shed) which he very well could in the summer. So they
go on. Clearly the old man expected to be looked after by Mary and that
is why he was so furious when I married her. Even the doctor says he is
one of his most uncooperative patients. Mary puts it down to senility
but my view is that he has always dominated his family and got his way
May 2nd - Miss Worgan came in and told us that after the war Mother
Geraldine at the Convent wanted to build a new chapel. Knowing she
would not get planning permission, she described it as a dining room. It
was she considered not inaccurate as there they intended to have the
May 6th - Cheltenham. Looked by motos and coat of arms in library.
Found my signet ring - ‘an arm embowed, in hand a battle axe proper’ -
‘Haec manus ob parium’ - This hand for my country - not Atkins or Law
but Mactier (Scots). Grandma Atkins’ eldest sister Margaret, born 1816,
married a Mr Robert Mactier, and it his coat of arms I am wearing.
two kinds of buttons I have: - i) two grayhound heads, erased, add
orsed, collared and ringed (ii) a demi heraldic tiger proper, erminéee,
ducally gorged (and chained) nor Honor et Vistus - are both Atkins, the
first Somerset, Herts and Glos, the second Cork. Why did the Cork family
use the English arms?
May 10th - When I was eight years old and hardly interested in social
reform, the Liberal government introduced an old age pension of 5/-a
week for those with an income of less than 10/-, when I was 48 pensions
were extended to the whole population by Aneurin Bevan. This morning my
first quarter old age pension arrived by post at a rate of £6-10s a week
for myself and Mary - taxed!
May 12th - In evening went to Parish Meeting and to my surprize was
elected chairman! Scaramangar obviously wants to be rid of it. The
meeting decided to buy the Tithe Barn from the Ecclesiastical
Commissioners for £1. It is pretty ruinous and we shall have to raise a
quarter of the cost of putting in lavatories and kitchen to get a grant
for remaining three quarters. At present there is not tuppence to rub
May 15th - A cooler day. Social! Coffee with the Garlicks (!) at
Churchill. A nice old house and garden. The three women (Mary excluded),
shouted like schoolgirls reclining on a mattress on the lawn, our
hostess displaying her pubic hair, while I, Garlick and the Colonel sat
in almost complete silence. At teatime we worked off Miss Leopold. Rang
up Crickhowell and booked room for Monday. Mary pleased.
May 27th - (See remark about surveyor March 27) This morning a
bulldozer turned up on Tattles. I went to see what was happening and
soon the surveyor arrived in his car. The bulldozer made an excellent
job of it, burying car bodies and all sorts of junk. Next thing to do
was to get temporary notice board painted and put up. The invaluable Mr
Kitchin next door made that and as dusk fell I went over with in the
Arctic wind to erect it.
May 28th - More alarms and excursions. Miss Blackwell and her old
mother live near the church. The former runs the youth club while she
studies for the Lambeth Diploma in religious instruction, the latter is
obviously neurotic. I had the idea of asking the youth club to help
clear up Tattles, but since the bulldozer had been thought as well to
call in and explain. The pair had just had a row with old Bubb. He now
is thinking of withdrawing the offer of the Tithe Barn because he wants
the sale of intoxicants forbidden, whereas Scaramanga says you can get
no grant from the Rural Community Council if there is a restrictive
clause in the conveyance. Mrs Blackwell had apparently told him she
would report him to the Bishop, a thing an incumbent hardly welcomes,
and accused him of knowing about the R.C. grant before the Parish
Meeting took place. I had hardly got back from the Blackwells’ when the
Rector appeared. I tried without taking sides to calm him down. I can
see the Tithe Barn is going to rival the urinal in Clochmerle!
Humanist meeting in Cheltenham. The talk was called the Psychology of
Humanism, but consisted of two tests which you marked yourself. The
first was supposed to measure how anti-authoritarian you were, +/-. I
scored -59, which seemed a rather extreme result. The second measured
introversion. I score very high on extroversion so think I must have
cheated a bit.
May 29th - The rector rang up to say he had changed his mind and we
could have the Tithe Barn after all. I had hardly lain down after lunch
when the bell rang. Two girls to say a man was tipping! I got hold of
Kitchen and drove up. A wretched man in a van had dumped wood and
stones. He said it was only a few twigs. At this rate it will soon be as
bad as before.
May 31st - Confirmed that Miss Leopold would contribute to price of
seed for Tattles, Scaramanga away so called on Gibson who said he would
roll the seed in with his tractor but would have to borrow Scarry’s
roller. Could not get much help with posts, but eventually by asking
everyone I found my way to Bruerne Sawmills where I got some larch for
1/- a time.
lain down after lunch, Bell! Squadron Leader in answer to complaint of
low flying plane. It appeared a Shackleton was landing and because the
runway was only just long enough it had to come in very low to make it.
June 1st - In to Gloucester to get grass seed from West Midland
Farmers. Had to go to Gloucester Docks. Never knew such a place existed.
June 2nd - In afternoon a lovely sun but cool wind. Walked along the
derelict railroad from bridge on road to Lower Harford to reach our hill
above Windrush. As you walked along you could appreciate the immense
effort of construction and the skill of the planners. How going by train
to Cheltenham with the Crab in 1919 could I have guessed that over 40
years later I would walk a stretch of line with no rails, sleepers or
signals accompanied by my wife!
June 4th - At three o’clock Mr Gibson came turned up with Mr
Scaramanga’s heavy roller on his Ferguson. Before lunch Mary and I had
gone out broadcasting grass seed. We had never done it on this biblical
scale before. ‘Ecce exut qui seminat seminare’. The ground had become so
hard since it was bulldozed, it was surprising that the roller had any
effect on it, but it did. Rain is promised over the weekend.
Saturday, June 5th - Heard today that all the Hunt children speak with lisp because for a long time Mrs Fred Hunt had no teeth!
Monday, June 14th - Plumber and boy arrived and quickly dismantled fire place. New stove arrived.
June 16th - Yesterday the plumber’s mate discovered the tip at Tattles
had been closed. On Monday evening Kitchen and I went and put in posts
to part of a mammoth debate (called a teach-in) in the Oxford Union on
the war in Vietnam. Started at 2.30. I heard some of it from 8 - 11,
including Michael Stewart, the foreign secretary. Every angle was
explored. About 11 the S. Vietnamese ambassador turned up. His English
was a minus quantity and I gave up - taught-out.
June 18th - The pop group the Beatles given M.B.E.s in Birthday
Honours. Some people sending theirs back in protest. Another view is
object of exercise to bring whole honour system in disrepute.
June 29th - Mary had a bad night with the planes to 2 a.m. and wanted
to get away from them so we went to Roel. We walked down to the brow. On
the way back we wanted to go in the bracken, so Mary slipped off her
pants and we did. It was spontaneous and lovely on the grassy slope in
the open air.
Thursday, July 1st - Reading Vansittart in Office on
the futilities of government in the ‘30s. Churchill asked after Munich
if he would have gone to meet Hitler and replied ‘Yes, but I would have
invited him to meet me in the North Sea on board a British battleship’.
July 6th - Drove to Althorp House. The later Spencers have gone in for
portraits beginning with Van Dyck and going on by Lely, Reynolds and
Gainsborough to the latest by Sargent and Augustus John. We were sitting
on a seat near the entrance after tea when a ravaged lady with
beautiful manners came up and started talking to us. We had seen her
portrait as a bride in the house and recognized her still. It was the
Countess. She took us into the rose garden where she gave Mary a flower
of [?]Zepherme Dronni.
July 11th - A month ago the last steam train puffed out of Paddington.
Soon the engines will be extinct as the dodo. The Castles, the Kings and the Halls
which carried us backward and forward to Devon for our holidays between
1905 and 1955 are being cut up for scrap. I never thought I should
write their obituary.
July 14th - Mariner IV launched into space seven and a half months ago,
now about 7000 miles from Mars, will start taking picture of the planet
to-night. Ever since I was a boy have seen illustrations of the Martian
canals. May now find out if they actually exist.
July 15th - Spent a large part of yesterday scraping garage doors with
glass. When Graham Kitchen came home from work he lent me his electric
drill with a sandpaper buff. In half an hour had gone over the door I
had so laboriously scraped and done most f the second. I had never used a
power tool before.
July 21st - To see Dodington, the Regency home of the slave owning
Codringtons. You approach Dodington by a mile-long drive up a Cotswold
valley through the park and enter a great Corinthian portico into a hall
of Roman proportions, resembling Syon House. We arrived just behind a
coach load of women so decided to let them get ahead by strolling across
the lawns. On our return to see the interior a horde of French
schoolboys swarmed in. Educational value nil, nuisance value maximum!
Thursday, July 22nd - Saw in Times
that that horrible man Lipscomb has got a headship in Lancashire. He
has been at Henley eight years. Sent fat old Goring Thomas, chairman of
the governors, a postcard with ‘Congratulations’ on it. A letter from
Wilk, ‘Glory, glory Halleluja.’
July 27th - The government has introduced what is in effect a third
budget. They have had to trim expenditure on schools, hospitals and
housing, cut defence and reduce time of hire purchase loans. Exports
have not risen as they hoped but consumption has. This gives us time to
reorganise industry in the long run while living within our means in the
short run. In the long run we have to adjust our economy to the loss of
our empire and the end of our role as being eastern policeman and
keeping up with the American giant. Our future lies in Europe, but our
neighbours, especially W. German, have not got the remains of the late
Victorian industries like cotton and coal, or hangover of inter-war
trade union practices of transport and docks as liabilities. Last night
had a ‘teach-in’ on ‘Getting Britain Going’. One railway trade union
official described a meeting at which out of a membership of 400 nine
turned up, three close to retirement, and after much debate decided to
buy a new kettle for the shunters’ room.
Aug 16th - P.C. from Hilary. Nicholas liked presents and birthday party
a success. My raucous horn impounded as tricycle used indoors, but bell
Aug 19 - Took Cill for a drive to Hawling and Guiting. Mrs Roberts told
me they had to have Cill certified to get her to go to a mental
hospital; when she was better the job was to get her to leave! Her life
seems to have been one setback after another, failed L.S.E. at Cambridge
in war, not commissioned in ATS, when she started social work in London
had bad nervous breakdown, operation for cancer of breast, still an
out-patient at Littlemore.
When Miss Butterfield round for reading of Nebuly Coat suggested she we should be on Christian name terms. She went very red. Felt rather like Mr Bucktrout or Mr Gosheron in All Passion Spent.
Aug 22nd - Michael to lunch from Adlestrop. What a rewarding pupil he
is! Sensible, cultured, and good for children to know. Curiously there
has been a bad riot in the Negro quarter of Los Angeles. This has meant
that Pymonie has been saddled with ‘Little P’, Jeremy’s wild oat, whom
she had for the summer. Michael says he a very odd and disagreeable
child as well he might be. His father won’t have anything to do with
him. The mother is in California and glad one imagines to postpone his
August 25th - Cut the turf back where it has grown over the concrete
platform of Coronation Seat. Two girls; Wendy from the pub and her
cousin Gillian Acock, came and helped me oil it.
Sept 2nd - Hamlet with
David Warner, tall and wrangling with a mop of tow coloured hair, odd
man out in this hard, cynical court of elderly councillors. Ophelia
excellent, her madness really manic. Came out bemused after 3 hours 40
minutes. Hamlet so supremely great that like one of the symphonies you
are enriched by all the varying performances. I saw H. B. Irving first
when I was 17, then George Hayes in the war (second), Olivier, John
Gielgud, Paul Schofield, Richard Burton. I think the latter most
memorable, Olivier the best verse speaker.
Sept 4th - To beekeepers Convention at Cheltenham. About 100 or more
beekeepers. It is generally agreed that this is one of the worst years
since the war. I took off about 8lbs from four hives of dark hawthorne
honey. Price is 5/9.
Sept 6th - Miss Birch to lunch. Heard story of boy Cork, who had been
told by his mother that he could never be a father. Pymonie takes him to
Dr. King and goes into the consulting room with him. After examination,
probably to annoy Pymonie, King says, ‘Well, chum, your cock’s as good
as mine or any other man’s!’
Wednesday, Sept 8th - Hilary’s 29h birthday - Celebrated by a lunch at the Bay Tree. Toasted him and Nicholas in lemon squash.
Sept 10th - Honey count: 1957 - 170 lbs; 1958 - 0; 1959 - 45; 1960 -
40; 1961- 191; 1962 - 95; 1963 - 20; 1964 114; 1965 - 8. [Added later:
Have spent this year £9 9s on bulbs. The Chinese say ‘If you have two loaves, sell one and buy a lily.’
Sept 19th - Ruth to lunch and tea. Both Mary and I impressed by how
much improved she is on her own, less sentimental and more self-reliant
altogether. Quite amusing sometimes too. Felt that I could overcome my
old impatience and dislike. Molly’s influence very odd. You feel none of
that coldness and disapproval that was so marked in Molly.
Tuesday, Sept 28th - [Diarist and Mary drove to Exmouth where they spent the next week on holiday]
Oct 30th - [To Shillingford] We cut all four graves, Grannie’s,
Uncle’s, Maud’s and Molly’s. Ran into a man who turned out to be my old
boyhood contemporary from the Glebe Farm, Johnnie Lear
Oct 1 - Had our lunch beside the stream between Pizwell and Runnage.
Found old Mrs Coaker [at Runnage] baby sitting at the farm while Richard
Coaker went into Exeter for an x-ray of kidneys. He has only one child,
Phillip, about four. We were ushered into the parlour which was much
less comfortable than the warm kitchen. Margaret, now a strapping wench
and much pleasanter than I remembered, produced a ceremonial cup of tea.
Mrs Coaker chatted away and was very pleased we had called to see her.
She is not happy on the Moor and she and Margaret are living in a
primitive unfurnished cottage near Widdicombe. Mrs C remarked that
although the price of honey had gone up from 3/- to 5/- a pound, the
monks [from Buckfast Abbey] still only proffered a pound for their
hives. She said we did not want to spend people’s money to get to the
moon. Had not got enough to spend it on here.
Oct 2nd - We went into Father’s old home in Exton, Glenbanna, now
renamed Milestone. We were welcomed by a charming Mrs McDougal, who
showed us the garden and gave us coffee. The apple trees I had planted
in 1922 now shaded the windows and the Lombardy poplar I brought out
from Exeter in the guard’s van was 40ft.
Oct 12th - U.N. Assembly by 107 to 2 called on Britain to use all
possible measures to prevent Rhodesian independence and if it occurs to
take all necessary steps to put an end to the rebellion.
considerable portion of the Diary in the second half of 1965 is taken
up with entries on the Rhodesia crisis, omitted from the extracts
Oct 13th - I sent Con a postcard from Exmouth. To-day a letter arrived
asking if I would like to meet her for lunch. This provoked an emotional
outburst from Mary. ‘I was conducting a secret correspondence.’ I
replied that I would enjoy meeting Con and it really did not seem to do
any harm to anyone. One meeting in 25 years at 11 year intervals was not
when all was said and done a lot.
Oct 22nd - Tonight Mary started up on my lunching with Con. She would
never have believed I would allow Con ‘to come between us’. Said I
didn’t see how she could at 65+. Con had never recognized her at the
time of our marriage, never sent any polite message, never been friendly
when she rang up when Molly was ill.
Thursday, Oct 28th - Set off with Cill Roberts to see Timon of Athens.
The first half till Timon’s madness went very well. But the second half
with its ferocious denunciation of greed and lust was less successful.
The play is haunted by sex and disease. No wonder it is not often done. I
now find that with Timon I have seen all the plays except Pericles and Titus Andronicus.
Nov 4th - Mary’s mother phoned to say father had developed anaemia and
would probably pass into a coma. Mary decided to go home to-morrow.
Nov 11th - Mary rang up about eleven o’clock. When her mother got up
this morning she called in Mary and they found her father was dead. She
said she had bad news but it was really a release for everyone. I
reckon he will have a masonic funeral for he was very prominent in the
masons at one time.
Nov 8th - To Piccadilly and National Book League. Soon Con arrived.
Eleven years had left their mark on her - and on me? - her eyes were
tired and lined, her bust had got bigger and heavier. Her hair was
greyer or whiter and she was proud that she used no tinting. She wore a
large circular black fur hat. During lunch we talked mainly of
Nicholas, Hilary and Molly. Con handed out a few side swipes. ‘If Hilary
did not bother about people, he was like me. He grumbled as I used to
do.’ Molly had complained to Con that we showed no interest in the farm.
‘I ought to have got Molly away from the farm earlier and asserted
myself as her brother.’
would only drink tomato juice I gathered that she and her solicitor had
drunk a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape the night before. She likes to
save up and then blow the money on a hotel dinner, wine and comfort. Had
been keeping a bawdy story for years to tell me. When in Holland she
nearly killed a Belgian gentleman who was swiving her. Getting confused
in the stress of the act she kept crying ‘Plus fort, plus for’ when what
she really meant was ‘Trop fort, trop fort.’ Said to her confusion that
I should certainly record the the result of fucking in a foreign
wonder if I shall meet her again. Felt it would have been nice if she
had made any reference to Mary but this was clearly too much to expect.
Nov 11th (Armistice Day) - Went to Roberts to mend Ciceley’s table,
which had lost a leg. Coffee with the old ladies. Mrs R described how
her cat lost a leg in a reaping machine and how she took it up to Sister
Margaret at the Convent who did it in with a hammer. This appealed to
our sense of the ridiculous and we began laughing.
afternoon I went to Witney with Mr Kitchen so that he could point out
to me where, when laying a cable across the Windrush in 1958, he found a
stone axehead [from 3000 BC]
Nov 12th - A hard day’s work. To Mr Pierce’s funeral. Lunch with
Douglas (son) and grandson and granddaughter. Tried at first to make
conversation but soon gave it up in despair. No come back! No interest!
House perishing cold, not warm all day. Crematorium very pleasant. A
solid mass of black coated elderly gentlemen on left, Masons. After
service we were ushered out to see where the family wanted a
commemorative rose to be
Nov 19th - The village Christmas bazaar from 4 to 7. Masses of clothes,
junk and jumble, and a missionary stall, next to which the colonel and I
ran a bottle store. The hall crowded with children of the Hunts.
Nov 20th - Mary’s Godson, Richard Waller, came for the day. Very shy at
first and thought he was going to be a scientific non-talker, but soon
warmed up and became quite interesting. He had been educated in
Tanganyika until he was 13, came to Wycombe Grammar School, went to St
John’s College, Cambridge, where he got a first in mechanical science
tripos. In January goes to an academic job in Brisbane.
Sunday, Nov 21st - Gill [Miss Gill]
and Jane came to tea to tell us about their trip to Greece. 4,000
miles. They struck some bad roads under repair in Greece, but not a
single puncture. They are a highly intelligent pair and we both enjoyed
Saturday, Nov 27th - Very cold north-west wind. Stayed in all day. Read Waugh’s Unconditional Surrender. It is very well written, but I found it depressing. Played Scrabble with Mary and lost by about 140 points!
Dec 6th - Have been in Cheltenham three days running, Saturday to fetch
roses, Sunday to Humanists, to-day for Christmas shopping. Yesterday
evening we listened to three talks on humanism given by the BBC this
autumn. Mr and Mrs Jane Wynne Wilson live in a big modern bungalow in
Charlton Kings. Present an ex- communist beaver from Winchcombe, young
architect’s wife, civil servant secretary and journalist. It was all
very pleasant and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dec 13th - Trouble at breakfast. Mary complained I was developing a
social life in Cheltenham and going to houses without her. When I told
her that she had been invited to come on Saturday she said (i) she
didn’t know the people and (ii) had nothing to go in. ‘I was secretive’;
After breakfast found her sitting on bed in tears. When asked what was
the matter, said she couldn’t cope. Told her she had a nice husband, a
nice house and a nice garden and she ought to be happy enough!!
Wednesday, Dec 22nd - Letter from Hilary to say Lise pregnant. If girl, to be called Vibeke. Good news, very pleased.
Day, - Hilary gave me A.J.P. Taylor’s England 1914-1945, a splendid
gift. I now have 11 volumes. Lunch turkey with raisin and apple
stuffing, bread sauce, sprouts and roast potatoes, followed by
strawberries in jelly. Graves. Was glad we decided to defer plum pudding
mother who live in a house on the High Street next to Queen’s recalled a
fire there in 1886 when she was carried to a neighbour’s house in a
blanket. She also remembered being taken on Christmas morning to see the
Boar’s Head and hearing the trumpet which summoned the college to
dinner. She remembers going down to the two path to see a coach and six
being driven over the frozen river in January 1891.
Dec 27th - Went into coffee with ‘Marsh’ next door. Graham did not
attend. He was busy with old Stevens building a garden shed.
Dec 28th - Listened to the service opening the 900th anniversary year
of Westminster Abbey. Eric Abbott, sometime warden of Keble, had chosen
‘One people’ as his text. All the people of the world flocked to see the
church; to them it said ‘Yes, ye are brethren; God has made of one
blood all the nations of men’; the world has become a neighbourhood; men
are developing a universal conscience which would not allow justice to
be denied; there was a growth of ecumenical conscience among Christians.
Dec 31st - 1965 a rather dull year. A very poor cloudy summer, cold and
sunless. It started with Winston’s state funeral. There have been two
wars in progress, between India and Pakistan and the hideous situation
in Vietnam where the year started with 27,000 American “advisers’ and
ended with bombing of the north and 180,000 ground troops. The Queen’s
visit to Germany marked the final reconciliation with our late enemies.
The President has got the Civil Rights Bill through Congress ‘Their
cause is our cause too’ an end to bigotry and injustice.
material things average annual spending per head is calculated to have
rise by 25% since 1955. The rise in standards has occurred in private
motoring, equipment and accommodation in the home, women and children’s
clothes and cosmetics. Car owners have nearly doubled. More people live
in houses built since the war. Consumption of electricity and gas has
doubled, Vacuum cleaners, television sets and washing machines are owned
by a majority. Refrigerators and lawn mowers have spread to the working
classes. Cinema going has fallen from 23 million a week to less than 7.
Holidays abroad have risen from 2 mill to 6 mill. The recognition of
the usefulness of academic education has increased following the the
rise in white collar workers in industry of nearly 15%.
Christmas cards 57. Books read 46
Aeroplanes - March 19. May 31, Althorpe House - July 6. Barnes family - Jan 16. Beatles - June 18. Bubb, Rector - May 28, 29- Butterfield, Miss - Jan 26, Mar 25, Coaker, Mrs - Oct 1. Collard, Michael - Aug 22. Coats of Arms - May 6. Con - Oct 10, 22, Nov 8. Churchill, Jan 19, 24, 30. July 1. Coventry Cathedral - Feb 28. Exton - Oct 2. French clock - Feb 20. Garlicks - May 15. Gibson, Mr - June 4, Gill, Miss - Nov 21. Hilary - March 22, Aug 16, Nov 8, Dec 22. Honey - Sep 4, 10. Hunt family - June 5. Kitchin, Mr & Mrs - April 2, May 27, 29, July 15, Nov 11, Dec 2. Leopold , Miss - May 31, Lipscombe - July 22. Mary - March 1, Dec 13, Moeran, Pymonie & Jeremy - Aug 22, Sep 6 . Old Age Pension - May 10. Pierce, Mr & Mrs - April 16, Nov 4, 11, 12, Dec 25. Roberts family - Jan 26, Feb 4, Aug 19, Ruth - Feb 19, Sep 19, Nov 1, . Scaramangar - Mar 26, May 31, Shillingford - Oct 30, St Catherine's College - Feb 23. Stratford - April 8, Aug 2, Oct 28, Waller, Richard - Nov 20. Westcote - Mar 26, May 12, May 27, 28, Worgan, Miss - Jan 30, May .,