Sunday, Jan 2nd, 1966 - The rector to lunch. Says he intends to resign, but will he? Thanked me for my Christmas card (which I had not sent) and asked if I had liked his which he had specially chosen. Pretended to look for this among ours. Soon came to the conclusion that we were both conducting a conversation about entirely mythical and non-existent cards on both sides - and we both knew it too! Mary in fits of suppressed laughter.
[Index of names at end of this post]
Monday, Jan 3rd - Cyril sent cutting from Church Times
about John Hunter’s death in Cape Town. Wrote to his widow whom I had
met twice soon after his marriage. His visit mentioned in Diary June
13th 1948 - the last time we met.
Jan 9th - Donald brought his Ma for lunch from Henley. I had not seen
her for 10 years or so. She had grown smaller, worse on her legs and a
very peculiar bottom. Mary and she got on well.
described his trip to the Andes and Peru. He had arrived in Lima at 3
a.m. and was fortunately warned by a bishop he sat next him that it was
unsafe to move about the streets at night looking for an hotel. The
bishop took him in his car to find one. He had met the Ministry of
Health and met the President at a reception. He suffered from lack of
oxygen at 20,000 feet and had to keep a cylinder by his bed.
new joke. When doing post mortems he sometimes takes a piece of liver
or lungs away in a bit of newspaper. The sergeant then says, ‘Your dog
must be hungry this week!’
Jan 12th - The PM decided to attend the Commonwealth Conference in
Lagos, also attended by Canadian P.M. but none of the other old
dominions. He has had a tough time explaining his policy which seems to
the Africans to be collusion with the Rhodesians.…. African independence
has not meant influence in the world, nor fast economic advance. Hence
the belief among Africans of a “capitalist conspiracy.” The refusal to
use immediate force against the Rhodesian government has provoked anger
and impatience among millions of Africans. The vast majority of the
English in the independent states still, says the Bishop of Accra today,
keep themselves almost completely isolated from African thought. One
thinks of the Sahibs and Memsahibs in India 40 years ago.
Jan 13th - Beekeepers meeting in our sitting room was a great success.
Nine came which meant that with Mary we were eleven. We had three talks,
then coffee and biscuits. They left about 10. It was all very pleasant;
the postman, the fireman, the fertilizer salesman, the farmer’s wife,
the retired secretary, the housekeeper and two boys, plain and spotty.
Jan 17th - Attempted military coup in Nigeria. Federal government is
functioning and a general has been given power to restore order and put
down the rebels. The future of Nigeria is at stake and it will be a bad
advertisement for fo African rule if Nigeria breaks up into four small
Jan 18th - Spent morning putting another shelf in hall cupboard. Find
increasingly in the winter months that work expands so as to fill time
available, which is all day less two hours for a siesta in the
afternoon. I am beginning to become more and more like Parkinson’s
elderly lady who spends the entire day writing and dispatching a
postcard to her niece in Bognor Regis.
Jan 22nd - Letter from Nora. Nicholas always drinks cold milk. “Is it
cold enough?” “Yes it’s cold. It’s stinking cold” bursting into roars of
Feb 1st - Vi Worgan told Mary a junior teacher was needed at Kingham
School. H.M. a fat young man, who was entitled to some help part-time
help when his numbers rose. Closed with him for two days, mornings only.
I never rains but it pours. H.M. at King’s School, Sherborne rang.
‘Would I go and see him?’
Feb 2nd - Went over to Sherborne School to see the H.M. who was an
expansive northern type, Manchester and Leeds. He had bought this palace
after the war and he and his wife ran it as a private school. His study
of Versailles proportions. He welcomed me as the answer to a prayer. He
told me in confidence he had got rid of most of his staff and was faced
with a hiatus in the summer term. Would I come full time? Agreed to
meet again in three weeks time.
Feb 4th - My first morning at Kingham Junior 9-12. Mostly little girls.
Found them delightful. Had forgotten after Adlestrop how pleasant to
teach normal children are.
Feb 10th - Denys Thompson to lunch. Is doing a conversion course at
Oxford where they switch teachers from one subject to another - in his
case to English. Talking of cats he remarked that his cat and he ‘were
both in the same prison.’ An odd remark!
Saturday, Feb 12th - 66. Remarked have lived 2 years beyond Mother and eight beyond Molly.
Feb 19th - Lunch with Nora in Oxford. She is negotiating for maisonette
to be shared with Cynthia Harnett, building on site in Bath Road,
Reading, where stood Lila House, the nursing home where both our
children were born. A coincidence (What Blake called ‘fearful
symmetry’), though Wilfrid Westall says he does not believe in
coincidence. Much more and I shan’t!
Feb 22nd - Catch train at Charlbury at 8.30, 23/- return Paddington.
Bus to Abbey. Took Mary in by the west door to see newly cleaned nave,
lit by great glass chandeliers, ‘high and lifted up’ leading the eye to
the white stone arches of the sacrarium - a sight hardly seen since the
fourteenth century. Everything had been renewed, the coal soot of the
last 200 years cleaned from the stone and all the colour of the bosses,
screens and tombs restored to their gold and crimsons.
House for Bonnard exhibition. A lovely collection full of joy and
colour. No less than 43 portraits of his wife Marthe, including a number
floating in her bath, drying herself, stretching on a double bed. Some
lovely domestic paintings and landscapes.
Monday, Feb 28th - From a cutting from Sunday Mirror I appear to have got in with a fraudulent rogue. Mr Mosey, H.M. at Sherborne, told me he had degrees at Manchester and Leeds. Sunday Mirror
discloses there is no evidence that he had any connection with either
seat of learning! It looks as if the school will collapse. The paper at
any rate did not hint at any sexual scandal.
March 3rd - When the post arrived Mary came in to say there was a
‘clandestin’. There was! Denys asked us to dinner at the Bull, Burford,
to-morrow, where he was staying with for the night with his friend,
Betty. Last Sunday he was asking me about hotels in Burford but I hardly
supposed, though he is one of my earliest friends, that he would pay us
the compliment of asking us to meet his ‘amie’. Very intriguing after meeting the personally sluttish but houseproud Rosemary to wonder what kind of a woman she will be.
March 4th - Denys waiting outside the Bull, very excited and lit up.
Betty emerged from the bar, a smart dark haired well dressed little
woman with pale skin and good features. Eye shadow, smoker and whisky
drinker. It emerged that she was a widow with a small boy, husband died
two years ago, living at Burnham-on-Sea, Sussex, a musician attending
conversion course in Oxford.
March 7th - A letter from Denys posted in Yeovil. He is going to follow
the advice given by his daughter for six years and divorce Rosemary. He
and Betty hope to set up in Cambridge and marry when and if possible.
He is a very patient person, but I should think he has had a hell of a
March 8th - To film society, solo. First Indian film I have seen.
Indian family, elderly father, two sons, older married with small boy,
younger married to girl. Son leaves his wife to attend college. Father,
who dotes on her, dreams she is an incarnation of the Goddess Kali. As
such she is worshipped by the family and peasants. A miracle is worked
on a sick child. When he hears what has happened the son returns, but
she refuses to leave with him. The brother’s child sickens. This time
there is no ‘miracle’ and the child dies through the grandfather’s
‘The Goddess’ was not allowed to be exported from India until the humanist Nehru intervened to lift the ban. You can see why!
March 17th - Miss Worgan to-night let her hair down about our
neighbours, June and Hilda. While the house was getting ready they
stayed with her and insisted on sleeping in the same bed. When Miss
Worgan took the tea in next morning she was surprised to see them naked
together. In joke I always called them the lesbians. It seems I was
right. June, the South African, is a romancer. She says her mother was
an opera singer and she was brought up in France. It appears she knows
neither French nor musical notation.
Find I am being paid £4 1s for a morning at Kingham. Mary says it is money easily earned!
March 19th - Denys and Betty came to tea. We discovered they had met
for the first time on this course and after a fortnight Denys asked her
to marry him. She was very puzzled because the time was so short and
wanted to be reassured. Yesterday they went to Cambridge and found a
house they thought would do. When the course ends in a fortnight he
intends to write to Rosemary and say he is not returning. The daughter
will be standing by as he says Rosemary may have suicidal tendencies.
Daughter has been a brick. House, worth £8000, belongs to Rosemary and
she can maintain herself. Suppose she will divorce you, I asked. Could,
he replied, divorce her as she had had an affair with a man now dead.
But if that impossible Betty will live with him as his housekeeper and
eventually change her name. Her boy, 8, wants a new father. His sister,
though suffering from depression, also approves, and her father, once he
gets over the shock, cannot help liking Denys. I don’t think anyone
could. He is such a gentle person.
March 21st - Mrs Wynne Wilson rang up to ask if I would become chairman
(of Humanists). I refused; Went over to committee meeting. Mrs W.W
offered me a lift to London on April 3rd. I accepted.
March 22nd - As I was leaving for Kingham Mary burst into tears and
said ‘The Humanists want to break up our marriage.’ When I returned I
tried to find out what had caused it. ‘This woman was always writing to
me’ (notices of monthly meetings); ‘I went to her house’ (committees);
’I had letters from correspondents’ (one an old lady of 70 in
California, one in Somerset, one my architect in Aberdeen). ‘I was
secretive about all these’. No wonder, I thought, if this is the result!
Now I had accepted a lift to London with this woman. I tried to point
out that this as 1966, not 1906 or 1866. The Committee consisted of
three wives without their husbands and two husbands without their
wives.There was nothing immoral about this. My secretiveness partly
dated from parental cross examination in childhood, partly from our
past, partly from not knowing how she would react. I had hoped that the
recurrent upsets we had before our marriage were due to the insecurity
and secrecy of an affair and would disappear afterwards.
March 25th - Went to meeting in Cheltenham - 60 people there. Dr
George, from Bristol University, spoke very well on contrast between
scientific and Christian thinking. Example of a Martian visitor trying
to discover a pattern in shopping hours in Cheltenham and how he would
go about it. Probability. A statement which could be verified and
tested. Mystic experience on which Christian thinking based neither
communicable, nor testible nor public. Consequently arguments between
Humanists and Christians lead nowhere and are a waste of time.
March 26th - Margaret Webb for weekend. She told us tales of Caius’
fellows, especially the new Communist Master, Joseph Neeedham. The
master wanted a secretary to arrange flowers in Chapel, act as liason
officer between tutors and the under graduates and arrange tea parties,
be a first rate typist from dictaphone, have a knowledge of food and
wine in order to arrange hospitality with college chef, answer all phone
calls, draft answers to all letters so only master’s signature
required, have a knowledge of modern and classical Chinese!! The
University Appointments Board could not help so full of hope he went to
the Labour Exchange!
March 29th - Put up Labour poster in veranda, the only one in true blue
Westcote. Prophets give Labour a majority of 85.
March 31st - Election Day. Voted in Rectory upper room - Labour. After
four results at 10.30 p.m. the computer gave Labour a majority of 114,
at 11.20 134, at which point I stopped listening. (Final majority 98)
April 1st- At 12.30 Denys arrived. He had left home that morning not to
return. His daughter was to break the news to Rosemary. He was going to
stay on a hotel in Cambridge until he had got a house there.
told us more about Betty. Eight years ago her husband had died of
Cancer leaving her with a very young baby. She attempted to run his
business (did not say what) which was badly in debt. This had been
almost paid off though as a woman she had been swindled right and left.
April 3rd - A very interesting and enjoyable day. Left at 7.20 for
Burford. It was bitterly cold so sat in car till Jane Wynne Wilson and
Mrs Jones arrived a 7.45. We got on the new motorway near Maidenhead and
bowled along leaving it at Chiswick for Kensington. The Humanist
offices were in a turning off Kensington High St,very old fashioned. The
W.C.s were encased in massive mahogany boxes such as I had not seen
since Shillingford Rectory. The chairman was very good indeed. We
discussed publicity, cooperation with other bodies, and the compilation
of a handbook for speakers. We started about 4.30 and after a meeting
with a rather difficult policeman whom we asked the way we reached
Burford at about 6.45 and I was in the house by 7.0
Tuesday, April 5th - Went to see the Russian Hamlet. Photographically good, it was only about one third of Hamlet.
It never lifted you at all. Had hardly got home when the phone rang.
The police at Stow! I had written a letter about this aggressive
policeman in Hammersmith and the superintendent proposed to come and see
me on Thursday.
Sunday, April 10th - Letter from Denys. Rosemary appeared to be
reasonable about separation.Then two days later took an overdose.
Daughter coping. She is now in a hospital for nervous diseases.This will
delay the divorce but he cannot think anything worse can happen.
Saturday. April 16th - ‘He
was a humanitarian in the most honourable sense of that …. word. “His
hopes for men rested on the advance of self-knowledge; he feared that
humanity would destroy itself by over-population and violence; from this
only greater self understanding would save them.” Isiah Berlin on AldousHuxley.
had no illusions about human beings ever attaining complete perfection
or absolute certainty whether of understanding or morality. But he
believed that life in the world could and should be improved...... The
many-gifted man who in a chaotic age of intellectual, aesthetic and
moral irresponsibility used his gifts to enrich instead of diminish him,
to keep alight humanity’s sense of responsibility for its own and the
world’s destiny...” Julian Huxley on his brother.
When he died in 1963 I was too taken up with Kennedy to mention it. As a young teacher I awaited eagerly for his next novel, Crome Yellow, 1921, Antic Hay, 1923, Those Barren Years, 1925, Point Counterpoint, 1928; with the novels of the ‘30s, Brave New World and After Many A Summer, I lost interest. Grey Eminence still fascinates me. It was a wonderful biographical study.
afternoon the Metropolitan Police sent an inspector to ask if I wanted
to make a formal complaint. As this was like using a sledgehammer to
crack a nut and would have involved Jane W.W. and Nora Jones both making
statements, I gave it up.
was asked in to see Mrs Webb at the end Bungalow. Wasn’t it lovely, she
said, that Labour got in. Our election advertisement in window has
clearly been noted by village!
you need to develop is a patient resistance to constant questions. As
far as Nicholas is concerned there is no such thing as the complete
answer,’ writes Hilary.
April 17th - Mary’s depression seems to be lifting over the last week
and to-night she came into my bed for the first time after seven weeks
without. She is laughing and teasing again and seems altogether in
better health and spirits. i am of course delighted for this is one of
the longest attacks she has had.
April 23rd - Rector came in. He had asked vicar of Windrush about
King’s School. Place run by prefects. H.M. listens to lessons on
intercom, but no immorality. Speriamo.
from Con Dart, dated Uskadour, April 1966: - ‘Are you dine here,
English lady? Where is your man?’ ‘ I am not wed.’ ‘ You have a mouth
for kissing, lady.’ ‘When I was young one came and warmed my bed. But he
has fled.’ ‘Lonely lady, no more lover? Lady with bosom to rest a
head.’ ‘Another came whose head was heavy, but he is dead.’ ‘Lovely
April 25th - To staff meeting at King’s School, Sherborne. The first
person I met when I came round the door was Dr Barrington, last seen in
1958. He did not look any saner to me either! How it brought back that
ghastly first term with Mrs Moran to me! Mr Mosey outlined the events of
last term in an expurgated edition. He admitted he had to leave too
much to inexperienced staff and prefects, but hoped (perhaps springs
eternal) to make a fresh start.
April 27th - Told when I came into staff room that Barrington had
bolted. Clear that boys, most of whom potentially nice, very badly
taught. Atmosphere of ‘couldn’t care less’.
Hilary and Nicholas arrived from Harwich about 6.
May 15th - It has been a tiring time adjusting to these strange
buildings and careless denizens, made more difficult by having to bring
everything from home and then cart it round in a case. ‘Where’s Ahmad?’
‘He’s gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca.’
took Hilary to Bibury and Broadway and lunch with Nora at the Bay tree
on May 5th. On the next day he went to London, leaving Nora and Nicholas
to look after Nicholas. They went for a walk. Hardly had they got out
100 yards when Nora started talking of ‘traumatic experiences’ of our
marriage and how she was ‘sexually useless’!
his usual unappreciative self. A difficult guest, bedroom in chaos,
everything dropped everywhere, never offers to help in any way, sits
reading newspaper while Grandpa gets coals in and lays table. Very slow
and little sense of time. Taciturn and uncommunicative to a pathological
degree. Nicholas on the other hand a charming small boy who captured
our hearts.Talks English with Lise’s lilt. Very independent and
intelligent with a sense of fun so conspicuously missing in Hilary.
May 22nd - No new table to replace one with three legs in 5b. Mosey,
whom I like less and less, obviously does not care about classroom
amenities. The boys frightened of him and like my old H.M. [at Forest
School, Walthamstow] he combines impressive prayers with beatings
June 11th - More and more dissatisfied with King’s School. Mr and Mrs
Mosey as soon as G.C.E. started, disappeared; no one knew where they had
gone. Ong, whom I coached for English for a term, was not entered for
the paper at all and half of the art candidates were entered for the
wrong one. The head boy and my prefect resigned, so I was told
yesterday, though I could not find out why.
June 19th - The Burford walk went off very well after all my
preparation. Seven turned up. We stared in Sheep St with three
contrasted houses, 15th, 16th 17th centuries. Then to the Priory. This a
bit tricky as Mother Superior insisted on taking us to see the old Long
Gallery with fine plaster ceiling as well as Lenthall’s 1662 chapel.
The church was easier, talked about Levellers, Christopher Kempster,
Laurence Tanfield, Meade Falkner.
day before we had Jack Lee [teacher at King’s School] to lunch. His
father a doctor on Indian reservation in the far north of Manitoba, a
Scotsman who left as a young medical student because he found things too
hard. A nice young man not very happy at Sherborne. Mosey had given him
a picture of a wonderful English school. First English home he had been
June 23rd. Mosey expelled two boys at prayers ‘for swearing’ and left
them standing during a G.C.E. exam I was invigilating in the hall. After
an hour they looked rather pale so I let them sit down
June 24th - An excellent dinner at college. Sat at High Table so
drinks, Hock, Claret, Port included.* Being at High Table able to avoid
sunken rocks! *They weren’t: bill for 12/-!
July 3rd - Took Mary to the swimming sports run by Jack Lee - and jolly
well too - followed by a junior judo display and the distribution of
cups by Mosey. There followed a speech hinting in very general terms at
the crisis/crises through which the school had passed. Many more parents
there to-day, some very low grade.
rather horrified to see Mrs M handing out the trays of food dangling a
cigarette from her mouth. There, I said to Mary, is where the lack of
class comes out, so nicknamed her the H.C.T. - high class tart!
July 4th - Assembly! Mosey complimented the school on its performance.
Unfortunately an American 5C boy had been stood out in front of the
school and Mosey proceeded to turn the whole force of his anger and
sarcasm on him. First he had torn down the Union Jack (?one in form
room) and trampled on it. Next he was one of the boys who had broken
into Lord Sherborne’s store, been expelled but on the insistence of the
magistrate been re-admitted.This was all got out of him by question and
answer in the usual tone of controlled ferocity. A visitor was waiting
to see Mosey. It turned out to be H.M.I. from Cheltenham. ‘It was sad to
see a school fallen on bad times,’ he remarked. What he would have made
of extempore prayers thanking God for a fine weekend, the passage from
St Paul about putting on the whole armour of God, followed by this
public communication I cannot think.
July 7th - Wonder if Mosey thinks he is Churchill! Frequently quotes
him Today compared ease of present generation with hardships suffered by
fathers and grandfathers and ended up with if you are facing some
difficulties God help you!
July 9th - The dirt at last! Issit [teacher] says the school used to be
run by the first Mrs Mosey, an Oxford graduate, who put in a Mr Winn to
be H.M. Mr Mosey occupied himself with ‘business and the matrons’. In
the end Mrs M got tired of the matrons and divorced him, only to find in
her attempts to keep him out of the school she had lost the school
itself which for the last two years he has mismanaged in person. In
Issit’s view the existing staff will leave at Christmas or Easter, he
will not be able to keep any young men he may find (the two already here
have seen through him) and the whole place will fold up. The present
parents are waiting to see which way the cat will jump.
Sunday, July 10th - Tea with Jane and Gill. Venice recommended. Maps and address produced.
Sunday, July 17th - A ton of anthracite in, £17. Find I used two and a half tons last year, but the house was very warm.
on the pound. Government has made a mess of things. Too much hot air
about a rate of growth that can’t make and much too evasive about the
measures which are necessary. Muddling along piecemeal and hoping
something will turn up. The chancellor has made some attempts to cut
domestic spending but most ineffective. Living on loans from America.
July 20th - To-night the P.M. announced government’s measures to deal
with the crisis. Six month wage, price and salary freeze; hire purchase
restrictions; purchase tax up, petrol, wine, spirits and post to cost
more; £150 cuts in overseas spending; travel allowances to be cut down
(after November) to £50. He sounded exhausted but ended ‘the eyes of the world are upon us. We are under attack. This is our country, this is your country. Work for it.’
July 23rd - Yesterday exchanged Father’s silver salver, which is quite
useless, for a copy of Charles II mulberry dish. Had inscription
transferred so hope I shall not be haunted by him or Molly.
July 25th - Mary’s aunt died last week and have to take her to funeral
at Oxford to-morrow and then lunch at Bainton Rd. By a peculiar family
custom the Pierce women do not attend funerals - even sisters. A brassy
daughter, who never came to see her mother when she was alive, is flying
from U.S. and has been put in local pub. That should learn her!
July 26th - The brassy cousin from Canada proved even worse than I
expected and threatens to come and see us with the daughter in law who
is not quite as bad.
Wednesday, July 27th - Denys and Betty being married to-day.
Thursday, July 28th - Jack Lee to tea and then to Stratford to see Twelfth Night.
His first Shakespeare play. As he had been brought up in the dry as
dust school of texts he was enchanted and it was a pleasure to take him.
Told us he had wisely refused to go out alone on a trip to Bath with
Mrs Mosey. He her third husband. Drinks - fell down once in his class
room with boys present and showed her pants because half seas over.
August 2nd - Hilary rang up at 9 a.m. to say a boy had arrived nearly
three weeks late. They would have liked a girl. Still as Hilary said
philosophically no arranging these things. I would have liked a
Friday August 5th - Letter from Nora: Nicholas now eats his cereals with a tablespoon as he is “big brother”.
Monday, Aug 8th - Cyril and Kay to tea. He had nothing to say; she far too much.
Aug 10th - John Holland turned up to help with clearer boards and at
same time Reg Bell arrived with extractor. Between them they soon tore
the hives apart regardless of bees, stings, and so on. Holland estimated
the crop at 140lbs.
Aug 16th - Finished extracting and bottling - 114lbs in all. Mrs Bell
said selling at door for 4s 6d so shall put out notice.
Aug 17th - Called it at Roberts’ and found Mrs R drying hair in sun and
Cicely’s wollen combinations hanging on the line. Cill back from Italy
and pretty jumpy though very brown.
lovely day - brilliant, not a cloud in the sky. Rare this summer.
Garden looking lovely. Buddleia has tortoiseshells, painted ladies,
peacocks and a pair of red admirals on it spikes.
Aug 26th - To reading (£2 14 0! for 2 return tickets) to see Nora’s new
maisonette on site at Luma House Nursing Home where our two children
were born in the 1930s. Nora told me she had lost her wedding lines.
Could not remember the year of first marriage and said St Peter instead
of St Mary de’Castre at Leicester.
Aug 29th - Bank Holiday! drizzle when we got up, thunderstorm with very
heavy rain at lunch which continued into the evening. Felt rather
bored. Little I could do. But one day follows another so quickly. Mary
comes into my room each morning carrying Badger over the shoulder of her
dressing gown for me to stroke. When she has finished I go into the
bathroom and shave, always a bore, while she is getting the breakfast.
Prunes, oat crunchies, toast and marmalade. Bed making, walking in
garden. The morning; lunch; after lunch wash up and clear table. Siesta
on bed 2 - 3.30. Tea. Supper. Reading till 10.30. Bed and repeat as
before. “All our yesterdays”. Look forward to the winter months if I
have no work to do with some dismay. Too much pottering!
Aug 30th - Wilk brought over by Donald Heath at 7.30 for breakfast - he
on his way back to Birmingham to cut up bodies. Said when she went up
to Grammar School House with Hilary and Nicholas and Hilary pointed out
his bedroom Nicholas asked which was his bedroom and very puzzled when
told that he had no bedroom because he did not then exist, he had not
Sep 1st - Hilary wrote to say they had decided to call second son
Jacob. Surprized and disappointed. Would have much preferred something
Latin or Greek rather than Hebrew. Never have gone in for Old Testament
names in our family.
Sept 9th - Mosey rang up this morning. He had forgotten I had told him I
would be away till Oct 10th but was agreeable enough. Said I would go
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to coach English.
Tuesday, Sept 13th - On Sunday Kitchins next door returned after first visit to Europe (Austria). Both very thrilled.
Sept 14th - A rather nice village do at the convent refectory to make
presentation to Rector. Most notables there from the Scaramangas to old
Mr and Mrs Hunt. There were about six nuns who handed round cups of
tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes. One of the church wardens made a
short speech and presented a cheque for £40 and the old man replied. One
of the nuns very young and good looking. Wondered how she got in with
these old trouts.
Sept 16th - Put silver in the bank to-day and drew Italian money and
travellers cheques. Passports now have to be marked.
Sept 20th - Cill took us to Charlbury. Paddington 10.0. To Kensington
Air Station where saw last of suitcases. A steady flight by Trident, 600
m.p.h., 28,000 feet. Circled Venice then down to airport. Quickly out
to motorboat, across lagoon to St Mark’s Gardinetti. No posters, no
touts; crowds and stalls. Made our way carrying cases and bit off Campo
San Zaccaria from Riva degli Schiavoni and found door to Casa Fontana.
Leaving cases in hall went up stairs to first floor, to find Sister
Ehrengardis seated firmly behind her large desk. Taken up two more
flights of steps to bedroom overlooking Campo San Provolo, narrow with
dress shop opposite, music shop and ice cream parlour next door,
trattoria in far corner. Told by young sister to close shutters at night
to prevent burglars entering from roofs. Dinner in very pleasant patio
on first floor.
noisy, echo from high narrow buildings, roisterers from bars, lowering
of shutters of trattoria, great bell of St Mark’s tolled after midnight
and in early morning, tapping of heels and usual Italian shouting and
dinner out to piazzetta to listen to band, crowds in front of St Marks
in dark. Mary amazed by size of square and its illuminations.
Sept 21st - To St Mark’s. Up campanile with crowd of Germans. This a
mistake. Cold and windy. Couldn’t get down quick enough. Looked at
mosaics in Atrium and screen up which I climbed in 1922 to watch the
Patriarch before the washing of the feet of the 12 old men. Mary amazed
at the interior. Took her up and down the Grand Canal to the Station,
new and very elegant, stopped on journey at Rialto. After siesta to the
Accademia, walked out to the Frari.
Sept 22nd - The Salute by vaporetto, from there walked to Accademia.
Had forgotten the size of the big Bellinis. Sent off 24 postcards to
list of friends. P.M. Walked to San Giorgio degli Schiavoni to see the
Carpaccios. Since I went there last strip lighting had been put in and
the whole interior glowed and sparkled. I had forgotten how charming it
was. Mary delighted.
Sept 23rd - Doges Palace. More and more guided parties arrived, but
great halls could more than accommodate them. We kissed before the
Tintoretto of Ariadne and Bacchus. Sister Ehrengardis advised us if we
wanted to go to Torcello to go on the ordinary boat from the Fundamento
Nuovo and not on the tourist excursions from the Riva which inevitably
put you through the glass factories and advised us on how to find our
way by S. Maria Formosa and San Giovanni Paolo. Set off without much
confidence but it proved an easy and delightful walk. Tortello was
lovely with its green grass and trees and its quiet for we were ahead of
the tourist parties.
Sept 24th - Walked up the Merceria to the Rialto where I had a cup of
coffee while Mary shopped. The vaporetto to San Toma and Scuola San
Rocco. Like San Giorgio artificial lighting had revealed much more of
its glories and mirrors were provided so you could look at the roof. It
is a marvellous place! P.M. San Giorgio Maggiore. I had never been, I
think, in 1922. Up campanile for magnificent view back, much superior to
St Mark’s. Walked in cloister of Cini Foundation, the gardens and onto
the stage of the Open Air Theatre. this all new since my visit with the
Crab in 1922.
Sept 25th - To High Mass, 10, at St Mark’s. M got the last chair. I sat
on base of a pillar. Cathedral aisles filled with moving crowds and
sight seers who also leaned over the gallery walks. The organ and the
choir at the west end sounded magnificent and the light caught the
golden curve of the mosaic in the apse behind the altar. Almost too much
ecstasy! After Mass visited the Museo Correr and saw some old
favourites including the Two Courtesans of Carpaccio.
French speaking nun, who looked after the chapel, had advise us to get
out of the Sunday crowds by going to the Armenian Monastery on San
Lazzaro. It was good advice. A lovely cloister with banana palms - a
portrait of Lord Byron who worked in the Library.
Sept 26th - Bought tickets to Desezano at Cooks. Then into St Mark’s
where climbed to galleries to look at horses, get a closer view of the
mosaics, and see the Pala d’Oro, which amazed Mary.
Sept 27th - Train to Desezano 10.15. Taxi to Pirocafo, where recognised
as Inglese who wrote letter from Venezia. Given lunch which was a la
carte and the expense made Mary very gloomy, foresaw bankruptcy.
28th - Bought lunch, rolls, butter, salami, tomatoes and fruit and sat
on pier till told by German that no boats or busses as strike for two
days. “An old Italian custom”, said barber where I went to have my hair
cut. We decided to go by the 12.51 to Verona. Taxi to San Zeno. It is a
wonderful church which opens like a flower as you penetrate the
interior and there are the magnificent bronzes and carvings on the west
door and the porch. Three tiny little girls scampered in and knelt for a
few minutes by San Zeno’s body in electrically illuminated glass box,
then scampered out again.
Friday, Sept 30th - Wet with heavy showers. Took boat to Sirmione but decided to sit on to Gardone. Season over, hotels empty.
Oct 1st - To Riva on boat 9.50 - 2.20 and 3.25 - 8.0. Riva too
dominated by huge cliff to please me. American on return boat borrowed Times
from me in New England accent I could hardly follow. Very wealthy. Came
every fall and had been everywhere, down Danube to Odessa,
Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, France Italy, but strange to say had
a son in army at Upper Heyford. Mrs Tom Homer more cultured and moving
spirit, Tom a rough diamond.
Oct 2nd - Unfortunately Mary in boat sat for too long, swerved round
talking to Mrs Homer, had cramp in night and when took nightdress off
clearly hip had gone out. After lunch left Mary in bed and took Aliscafo
to Simione, 10 minutes. To Grotte di Catullo. Delightfully quiet and
free of crowds. The ruins huge and rough. Clearly a whale of a palace -
imperial first century.
Oct 3rd - Mary’s hip still out but borrow stick from Grandpa, take
11.15 bus to Simione. Take Trenino to Grotte. Lunch on seat among
olives, buy plates at Deruta shop and back by Batello. Mary delighted
Oct 4th - 10.25 train to Mestre, taxi to airport. Touch down 6.30. To
St David’s Hotel, Paddington. Repulsive doubled bedded room with metro
quite close. Hell the return!
Oct 5th - A marvellous holiday. No bad snags except steamer and bus
strike and Mary’s back. Cost: One week Casa Fontana, full pension, £27
11s 5d; One week Piroscafo, half pension, £23 2s 2d; Extras £17 0s 0d;
Airfare £80; Total 147 13s 7d.
drained of colour, with the exception of the grass, and the cotswold
limestone swathed in mist especially lacking in light and line.
Oct 12th - A day of good works. Mary to Burford at 9, Mrs Roberts to
Weston sub Edge after apples at 10.30, Miss Worgan to Bourton School
3.40 after job, reading to Butterfield at 6.45. Found I failed to get as
many apples as M wanted so shall have to go back.
Oct 22nd - Horrible disaster in Welsh mining valley. A mountain of
spoil from the mine, turned to sludge by the heavy rain, slid down on
the village junior school which has just assembled. It sounds like
it has started raining again and there is danger of a further
avalanche of slag. A few children were dug out by the rescue teams alive
but the majority were killed and half the staff of 8 teachers,
including the headmistress. Many of the dead laid out in the local
chapel have not been identified. Both the P.M. and the Duke of Edinburgh
have been there.
and Kay to tea. Former upset about changes in Common entrance
arithmetic and Latin. Latin to include Roman history and arithmetic to
be based on binary system (whatever that is!).
Oct 24th - 135 bodies recovered, 106 children, 16 adults identified.
Rain on Saturday but no further movement of tip. 500 others are being
checked. They have moved before but never as now engulfed a school.
Oct 30th - Mary told by Vi Worgan that Lesbians next door very hard up.
Teacher, Hilda, out of job, June, accountant, paid irregularly.
Electricity people threatening to cut off supply for off peak heating,
which, as they are away all week, prevents water freezing. Hilda comes
to discuss homosexuality with VI. Vi says she doesn’t mind what they do.
It is no concern of hers, though she wouldn’t recommend it.
Friday, November 2nd - Mary reading Times
to-night found Stevie’s death in paper. ‘On Wednesday suddenly while on
holiday.’ Where I wonder? One more of my generation gone - Daisy, Maud,
Molly, Stevie. Only Bar, Billie and self left.
spent many holidays together with Uncle Sam at Shillingford before
1914. He spent a holiday with us at Port Gaverne in 1931 or 32, and
though our paths diverged after his marriage he was always very nice to
his odd left-wing cousin Hubert!
Nov 16th- To cat show at Town Hall, Cheltenham. Very full, but no smell
or mewing. Amidst the human chatter, cats sat on their mats and
maintained dignified silence.
November 19th - A letter from Pat Atkins. She hopes we are both very
very happy. We are, but cannot help thinking how a note like this would
have been appreciated at the time of our marriage. They probably heard
of it from Molly, which was hardly propitious.
Hemingway committed adultery with his last wife they had no difficulty,
but as soon as they were properly married, he couldn’t. Told Mary about
this in bed last night and said it had made it difficult for me - but
then found it had not - and we laughed much.
November 21st - Invigilating G.C.E. for Mosey. When I went to get
papers the secretary had taken the dog for a walk in the park. As bad as
identical twins, Richard and David, over to lunch from Oxford on
November 6th. Never been a part till now where one at Jesus and other
at Oriel. Interesting to see whether they will develop differently in
separate environments. At school impossible to tell which was which.
Already after half a term believed it was possible to detect change.
David quieter and more withdrawn, Richard more outgoing. Winnie worrying
about the young women, who, she said, are ‘so scheming’.
Nov 23rd - To meet at Lower Swell. A big field and the usual amusing
and interesting types, including Dr King, who wore a bowler hat and
looked like a groom. Still if he’s a good doctor what does it matter?
Article in Times
on flood damage in Florence. Some churches flooded to a depth of 14ft
and everywhere oil from heating systems left a black film.
December 1st - Article by Galbraith, American economist, says we are
jolly lucky to have got rid of our empire when we did. Culturally and
scientifically we drew very little from it. What we need is a quasi
planned economy for good, accepted as a long distance aim governed by
night a programme from Florence. Drying out documents and books the
biggest jobs. Have to be interleaved and then again interleaved with
Dec 11th - Cherry took us to lunch at Bay Tree - £3 with drinks - but
an excellent lunch. Alfonso in Italy so she and Richard alone for
Christmas. She seems to be enjoying acting as deputy head in Slough and
has a pleasant and considerate headmaster. Dull old Filkin, Latin master
[at H.G.S.], has reached the conclusion (Wilk wrote to tell me) that Mr
Barnes was the best of the headmasters he had worked under!
Dec 12th - Old Cicely Butterfield told me she once saw an advertisement
in an undertaker’s window, two caskets, arums on each side, - one was
labelled ‘Mum sleeping’ and the other ‘Dad at rest’.
Dec 14th - In morning took parcels to village post office. When the
girl saw one was labelled ‘Aberdeen’ she said they did not accept
parcels for abroad!
the afternoon went to Idbury School to distribute presents as Father
Christmas. After this was invited to a highly indigestible tea. It was
impossible to eat through my nylon beard so came in mufti. As the school
was closing owing to the activity of the vicar, the Office was not
anxious to leave anything for the church to get hold of. I came away
with four small sacks of coke in the boot!
Sunday, Dec 14th - Reading ‘Alms for Oblivion’ by Mortimer Wheeler came across a quotation from Woodward:
high value upon the dignity of man. I repeat this term deliberately
because one of the signs of disintegration in our own culture is an
unwillingness to consider that man has dignity and that his acts may be
noble. Once this conception of nobility is lost, history becomes nothing
more than rag bag, a pawnbroker’s catalogue, or at best a
understanding is more than a series of detective tricks. It requires a
mind already attuned to the scale of human action and practised in the
subtlest use of language to express the depths and heights.’
Dec 20th - Interesting account of Florentine floods. One woman felt
damp and thought her water bottle was leaking. Another very old lady
took two prisoners into her house to find one was a burglar and the
other living on prostitution. Terrifying thing was when all
communication failed with the power - no telephone, no radio, completely
cut off, Mayor isolated in Palazzo Vecchio for 15 hours.
turned cold and clear. When returning from tea at Stow saw a wonderful
golden sunset illuminating whole of western sky against which the woods
and trees stood fretted in black.
Day - Woke up to sunrise from window, gold to pink to grey. A frost,
puddles iced, but little wind. Brilliant sunshine in morning. Presents
after breakfast. After this went up to see what flowers I could find.
Honeysuckle, Wych Hazel, Wanda, Primrose, Polyanthus, Prunus, Pinks. Put
them on table for lunch. Lunch: turkey, sprouts, roast potatoes, bread
sauce, apricot flan and cornish cream.
Day - During the war we longed to get turkey back on the standard. We
have had turkey now for four consecutive meals and he is only half
eaten. I am getting rather tired of him I regret to say.
New Year’s Eve - A perfect winter’s afternoon, sunshine, great layers of purple cloud, very clear distant views full of colour.
In March the election gave Labour a majority but it was followed by a run on the pound. Expansion for a time given up.
war in Vietnam grew worse and more American forces were committed. The
dispute with Rhodesia dragged on. Sanctions proved ineffective and the
government tried to steer between the break-up of the Commonwealth and a
general economic war with southern Africa for which there was little
(List of 54 books read in 1966. No Christmas card count)
INDEX for 1966
Atkins, Stevie - Nov 2, 19. Beekeepers - Jan 13. Bubb (Rector) - Jan 2 Sept 14. Clayden, Mary (Cherry) - Dec 11. Dart, Con - Apr 23. Bell, Reg - Aug 10. General Election - Mar 29, 31. Heath, Donald - Jan 9. Hilary - May 15, Aug 2. Humanists - March 21, 22, 25, Apr 3. Holland, John - Aug 10. Huxley, Aldous - Apr 16. Indian film - March 8. Labour govt - July 17, 20. Lee, Jack - June 19, July 28. Kitchin, Graeme - Sept 13. Meara family - Nov 21. Needham, J. - March 26. Nicholas - Jan 22, Apr 16, May 15, Aug 5, Aug 30, Sept 1. Nora - Feb 19, May 15, Aug 26. Peach, Cyril, Kay - Aug 8, Oct 22. Roberts family - Aug 17, Dec 12.
Sherborne, King's School - Feb 2, 28, Apr 23, 25, May 22, June 11, 23, July 3, 4, 7, 9, 28. Thompson, Denys - Feb 10, March 3, 4, 5, 7, 19, Apr 1, 10, July 27. Venice - Sept 20 - Oct 5. Worgan, Vi - Feb 1, March 17, Oct 30.