Tuesday, Jan 1st, 1974 - Busy re-adjusting shelves in my bedroom and re-arranging books, of which I have 700!
Friday, Jan 4th -Cheltenham. Poured with rain, cold wind. No phone came on till 2 p.m. and banks and W. H. Smith lit only by candles and torches, quite dark.
Monday, Jan 7th - Tonight Hall Committee. Managed at last to get rid of chairmanship which very reluctantly was pushed on to Mr Boulter.
Friday, Jan 11th - Cheltenham for lunch and to fetch Mary after hairdresser. First time left alone for a year. A great treat to be able to talk to Cherry on my own phone instead of from a call box as generally. A tremendous storm last night about 1.30 a.m. Thunder, lightning and hurricane wind. Much damage in the west country.
Saturday, Jan 12th - Stow. Damage to elmtree in the square. Rang C, found husband with her flat had left unmarried girl and she had kept C up till 2 a.m. telling her her life story - “the permissive society with a vengeance,” said C.
Tuesday, Jan 15th - Mr Dockar at Clanfield told me Catherine was stopping next week. Would I take Philip four days a week for two hours at a time. Said I would think about it and let him know on Friday and go round to Vi Worgan to ask how to teach reading. An Oxford degree fits a man for anything!
Thursday, Jan 17th - Met C in Burford. She had had flu and was not very well. We had rum and coffee at the Mermaid. The motel was warm and plenty of hot water.
Friday, Jan 18th - Last lesson with Catherine. She was polite! Said she enjoyed my lessons and thanked me. Took on Philip. It will be hard work.
Thursday, Jan 24th - Anniversary of our walk on the Downs in 1940. Gave Mary some flowers and chocolates.
Friday, Jan 25th - Graham had been up mending Roberts’ furniture. Mary remarked he must not often have seen such a peculiar house, with plumbing allegedly done by the Cowley Fathers! He replied he had once been sent by Mr Hessell to a house in Bledington where they found a very old lady digging a hole in the garden to bury her sister. They reported this to Mr Hessell who managed to arrange a cut-price funeral.
Monday, Jan 28th - Mick McGahey, a fool of a Scots communist leader of the miners in Scotland has said that the army in case of a miners strike would refuse to move coal because they are working class, thereby giving the government and the middle class just the propaganda line they want. Colonel Grivas, whom Hilary chased in Cyprus, has died in a hide out there.
Saturday, Feb 2nd - Salperton via Cheltenham road. Snowdrops excellent, aconites finally out.
Wednesday, Feb 6th - Snow! but only a slight fall. Breakfast in bed. Phoned Italia Mundo and Venice in Peril. Mary stonewalled. She did not want to go to Venice in April, last visit a failure because cold. Did not want to go except with a party where everything was arranged and she was taken care of. She had been given a bad room, it was noisy. The hoteliers only cared for parties. Parties were transported from the airport to the hotel. We both got angry. She because she said I would not listen. I because only the snags were mentioned and never by any chance did she express pleasure that I was proposing to take her and pay!
We have had a miners overtime ban and weeks of negotiations between the government and the N.U.M. Mr Wilson and the T.U.C. have fallen over backwards to try to find an escape hatch for Heath, all to no effect. Now we are to get a full scale strike on Saturday and seems likely an election later. I have been here before as a young schoolmaster among the true blue housemasters [at St John’s, Leatherhead] in 1925 with that old rogue Baldwin and the miners. I shall not be caught again in 1974. Graham Kitchin supports the miners, said if they paid them enough ‘the Blackies’ would go down the mines and thus help to recruit miners to the wasting labour force. We shall see.
The dirt about the comprehensives is coming out. Locally at Bicester and still more at Tulse Hill lefty teachers are said to tell pupils that no good working as there is no future for them in society as now organized.
Thursday, Feb 7th - Election to be at the end of the month. Mr Healey said the government reminded him of the more brutish of the Hanoverians. Called the government “bacteria”.
Saturday, Feb 9th - Tried to discuss foreign holiday with Mary but only got every possible and impossible objection. In the end managed to sell her 4 days in Tours with chateaux on the Loire with Clarksons.
Tuesday, Feb 12th - My 74th birthday. Margaret Roberts sent me a card wishing me happy returns “till my heavenly birthday”. What faith! Hilary wrote a long and interesting letter giving his views on marriage. ‘Keep them well-fucked and poorly shod’, a garden worker at Long Dene told him!
Monday, Feb 18th - To Oxford by train from Kingham to get into shape for chateaux. .....Walked to station for 4.15, very foot weary. Arrived at Kingham, found I had left side lights on and battery flat. Mary had to go to Mrs O’Hara’s to get her sons to put charge through battery, when got home rather disturbed. “What the old man needs is not a wife but a nanny!”
Thursday, Feb 28th - Voted for Liberal candidate, who was at any rate a local man.
Friday, March 1st - Snow and cold so decided to stay at home and have dinner out and see what the weather’s like tomorrow - to fuck in our own bedroom which is probably warmer and more comfortable. A half bottle of Sauterne for lunch and some flowers for Mary.
By 5.30 the commentators still going though rather jaded and sore eyed. Labour had a majority over Tories of 5! but said they are ready to form a government. Now waiting to see what Mr Heath and the Palace will do.
Celebrated our 1940 anniversary by going over to dinner at the Manor House Hotel, Moreton-in-the-March.
Saturday, March 2nd - At breakfast learnt that Heath to try to form an anti-socialist coalition with Liberals. I voted Liberal to get Heath, whom I detest, out. Tory 296, Labour 300, Liberal 12, Unionists 10.
Monday, March 4th - Write Vicar of Tewkesbury to say would like to have a chair in memory of Molly, who died 10 years ago. Do not know whether £10 or £15! Two letters from C at Stow P.O. Heard at six o’clock that Heath leaving shortly to resign office and Mr Wilson to be sent for. Hurray! Miners strike will be settled, country get back to work, and loan negotiated. The wild men will be kept in check and I hope Roy Hattersley and his ‘Close public schools’ plans will be put in cold storage. Pension I hope raised.
Tuesday, March 5th - Heath booed and jeered when he left No 10 last night. Healey exchequer, Callaghan Foreign O, Jenkins Home Sec, Foot employment. He’s a wild man!
“Misunderstanding and misunderstood - those words will do on his premiership....People never grasped that he was a sensitive and shy man, brusque more out of gaucheness than arrogance - his failure to communicate as a man and as a leader.” The Guardian.
All / We shall recall / Of Heath / Is his teeth.
Tuesday, March 12th - Dockars. Trousers down by roadside when lorry stopped and asked ‘Do you need any help, sir?’
Friday, March 29th - At last got rid of the Parish Meeting chairmanship, which I have had for nine years, landed on me by Scaramanga. Now he is chairman again and an eager beaver as secretary. It went on for 45 minutes, the usual hopeless projects, levelling Tattles, bus shelters etc, and the usual Durhams and Casses!
Rang up C. Found poor girl couldn’t read, eyes closed, stitches in forehead at Middlesex Hospital, a broken wrist so can’t drive.
Thursday, April 4th - To Oxford to meet C, wrist in plaster, cut forehead, discoloured eyes, but driving car. Went to Blenheim and had lunch by lake. Tea from automatic machinery in new tea room. Then to Yarnton church, most interesting and fine monuments glass and reredos. To Trout for drinks and sandwiches.
Tuesday, April 9th - To Cheltenham station and a day ticket to Bristol. Taxi man’s joke: ‘To Great Britain, please.’ ‘You are in Great Britain.’ In dry dock, huge expanse of riveted plates in interior, angle irons of immense strength and fine lines. Walk round to one, then sausages and mash and ice cream in dock café. Ring for taxi. To Cathedral, a good Norman chapter house and restored and coloured east end. Home by 3.30 and back 5.30. Mary gardening, ring C to ask what hospital said. Caught out. The usual row, the whole thing blown up to enormous proportions. A little reason and a little less emotion would be helpful.
Thursday, April 11th - Visit Roberts. Margaret in retreat, Cil cooking. Mrs Roberts remembered Lord Salisbury and Gladstone and her mother reading Trollope aloud. The two girls would creep up with their sewing to listen.
Easter Sunday, April 14th - To Tewkesbury. Hedges in some places in full leaf. Lots of daffodils. Abbey very full and large men’s choir. New bishop of Tewkesbury there but he preached a poor sermon and I thought him probably a career bishop. Asked Mr Leach about cost of chair. Said it would be about £14 and would be in the Lady Chapel.
Sunday, April 21st - Cuckoo early after tea. Reading Diary to Mary. Said I always read criticisms of her and never anything nice!
Friday, April 26th - Alarm at 6.30. Feel at last minute less keen to go. Ring Cil. She is up and will take us to Kingham.Station at 8 o’clock for 8.33. Train draws in as cross bridge. Watch 10 minutes slow. Paddington 10.30. Buffet for sandwiches and coffee. Taxi to Finchley Road air terminal. Coach on M1 at 70 m.p.h. to Luton airport. Airport packed with milling crowds. Our plane a huge 146 seater with 4 turbo jet Rolls Royce engines. Soon touched down in Tours airport. Mainly military. Luggage immediately put on coach and off round Tours. Driver ‘Robert’ and courier ‘Helen’. Crossed the Loire by one of the new bridges and stopped a minute at St Gatien Cathedral - tall French Gothic with a good deal of glass. Then to Hotel Terminus at side of station, which has a most imposing facade and concourse. Room 20 on second floor. Our room quiet, looking into small interior courtyard. Glassed door to basics, bidet and shower. PIllow for Mary but cover damp. Service slack! At 7.0 party assembles and we go round to Café St Hubert in main shopping street 200 yards away. St Hubert was jungly - tropical plants painted on walls, potted palms, stuffed heads including most ferocious boar’s head in the entrance. It was however very efficient and good wine, Montlouis, very dry white.
Home looking at shops, hopelessly expensive, and to bed.
Home looking at shops, hopelessly expensive, and to bed.
Saturday, April 27th - Down for breakfast at 8. Plum jam but not much butter. Off opposite station on coach down the dyke built by Henri II, Count of Anjou, to Amboise. Built high on a bluff above the Loire up which we climbed by a ramp and staircase. It was half medieval castle, half residence. We stood in a perishing wind by the chapel in which Leonardo’s body is buried under a plain wooden slab. We then went through the Renaissance wing which gave out on a round tower with fine views over the bridge town and river. The chapel was dedicated to St Hubert and the turret bore stone stag horns.
To Chenonceau, walked up a fine avenue with a sight of the chateau at the end. A Renaissance chateau built on the foundations of a water mill and extended over the Cher in a gallery 65 yards long. Associated with Francis I and Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici, Mary Stuart, the graffiti of her Scots guard were shown us. It had an attractive chapel, alas bombed in 1944 and hideous modern substituted. After rambling round we walked in the garden to see the gallery from the outside and then back to the coach.
Afternoon free so we took a taxi to the Cathedral and wandered round. A wedding in process which took a very long time and the priest gave a very long address. Glass, especially East windows, good. Art Gallery next door, ex Archbishop’s Palace, a lot of 18th paintings of not much interest.
Sunday, Sept 28th - A full day. Station square was empty. Off early to Azay le Rideau. This I thought the best of the chateaux. Furnished with contemporary beds, furniture, tapestries - the red room, the green room, etc etc, very tastefully - fine huge stone fireplaces. Next to Abbey of Fontevraut. Huge. More than one community under an abbess, royal of course! The church was a fine Norman building with a lovely apse.The royal tombs of the Plantagenets were on the South, one wood and all faintly coloured. The whole place had once been a prison but the idea now to turn it into a centre of medieval studies.
We had lunch at a humble restaurant near the abbey. They had laid themselves out to please and produced a very good mean indeed. After lunch to Villandry to see the formal garden. Miles of box hedges, clipped by hand, interesting rather than beautiful. For our last meal we went to the Hotel de Bordeaux near at hand for a 25 franc dinner and very good it was. With coffee had a large Benedictine which was perhaps not wise.
Monday, April 29th - An early start after packing and vacating room on a long drive to Blois. A large chateau, renaissance detail, much information about the Guises, C de Medici and so on. Back to station restaurant and off to Vouvray for a wine tasting. Tramped through the caves, saw the stocks of wine bottles, thought of Cyril Peach and I in Rheims in 1938.
Alas, when we reached Tours Airport we were told there was a “mechanical hitch” and the plane had not left from London so that it was two hours or more late. The plane did the crossing in an hour flat. Our taxi at Kingham was there all right and we got home about 10 o’clock. Mr Badger was out but when he returned registered pleasure.
Monday, April 30th - Told Mary I was meeting C Thursday.
Wednesday, May 1st - The usual row blew up. C abused as usual and grievances against us both given an hour’s airing
Thursday, May 2nd - Reflections on France. 1) Touraine country very beautiful. 2) Chateaux primarily occupied because built on rivers for sewage! 3) French since 1956 pleasanter and sanitation has improved, now compares very favourably with Burford, Oxon! 4) What a great and varied country France is! 5) How terribly expensive, no wonder they do trips to Marks & Spencers in Dover! 6) Wish I could speak French more fluently.
Monday, May 6th - Off to Garsington Manor. Arrival coincided with village junior school with a party of “nickers”. We were welcomed by Lady Wheeler Bennett, rather raddled and made up. The garden interesting. There was a patio with seats in front of the house, very sheltered, where in Lady Ottoline’s time the wits disported themselves. Must have another look at
Tuesday, May 8th - Refurbishing Grandpa Barnes’ walking stick - ?blackthorne with horn handle.
Wednesday, May 9th - Vi told Mary Henry Carde the dirtiest man in the Cotswolds. You could see the fleas on his chest!
Wednesday, May 15th - To Blenheim Palace; Paymaster General sends me a certificate from which I can see that my pension less tax amounts to £764.
Saturday, May 18th - By 8.20 Cheltenham to queue for coach with National Trust ladies. To Longleat. To Lions’ Entrance. Wait. Told one and half hours to go round, so ate lunch - luckily. Went very slowly, 3 m.p.h. through estate. Giraffes, hippos, elephants, wildebeest, gazelles, monkeys. Then lions and cheetahs. So familiar with films of African wildlife that appearance hardly a surprize, but good to see them free and breeding apparently freely. Tramped around the house just ahead of following party. Some good portraits and dresses. Last at Longleat from Wells in 1960. How time flies!
Rate demand to day. Up from £63 to £96. All over county complaints and some refusing to pay.
Sunday, May 19th - Mr Hood’s garden at Bledington Manor Farm. Excellent very walled and secret garden.
Tuesday, May 21st - Philip more than usually stupid. When shown horse chestnut spike, said it grew tomatoes. Why do I go on! Answer: holidays abroad.
Monday, May 27th - Geoff and Margaret Makins, his new wife, came to a vegetarian lunch. She was a blue-eyed, fair eye-lashed Yorkshire girl, very talkative, a librarian at Malton. I liked her. Geoff I had not seen for 17 years. He had got plumper and had scanty black curly hair which he allowed to grow long. Geoff, 59, looking forward to retire from Malton comprehensive. He rather agrees with Michael Collard about the uncivilized tone of the bulk.
Tuesday, May 28th - A letter from Lise. She finds Grandma’s visit very trying and says Hilary will not play and goes off. Wants to write before Nora returns and starts organizing!
Wednesday, May 29th - Cil drove us to Cheltenham Station. Train an hour late from Yorkshire, but a relief train from Birmingham. When we showed our Golden Card, the collector almost genuflected and the ‘controller’ (alias stationmaster) was fetched to ring Bristol to find out if the train was continuing to Exeter. It was He returned to show us into a first class apartment which we had to ourselves to Exeter. The ‘the Cornishman’ caught us up after about 45 minutes. Our reserved seats were waiting and we continued our journey over Brunel’s viaduct, now flanked by the modern and higher road bridge, through Cornwall with its cuttings, tunnels and viaducts to St Erth, where we changed for St Ives. Even here a courier was waiting for us with a large ‘Golden Card’ label to see us over the bridge. We reached St Ives where we found our names on a taxi list and we arrived at Garth Guest House (evening meal optional!). It had large windows, a blue decor, houseplants and stuffed animals - no gnomes! We had a nice but hookless bedroom looking over St Ives’ Bay. Evening meal 6.45, boy and girl and two frizzled mums, and representative from Nottingham with a wife with a prominent nose repeated in three children. Carbis Bay, where we had landed up, is a bungalow town about 2 miles outside St Ives. After supper walked among the bungalows, which appeared to be uninhabited. Felt depressed.
Thursday, May 30th - To bus park, then down to church, enormous crowds and even bigger lines of cars going down to harbour. Quay consists mostly of gift shops and fish & chips. Sunny but a high wind. Sat in lea of harbour wall till time to go to fish and chippery self-service. Church interesting, a flower festival and a Barbara Hepworth Madonna. Discovered a quiet back street café, the Blue Haven (guest house shut 11-4!. In p.m. by buses reached Pool, where we found two mining engines, in possession of the National Trust, boldly signposted. Back to cream tea at Blue Haven. Tomorrow St Michael’s Mount.
Friday, May 31st - Salad lunch at Blue Haven - excellent. Coach to Marazion. Launch for Mount, for which we had to wait for party, conducted by bearded naval type with quarterdeck voice. He addressed the party of about 70 as ‘pilgrims’ and we were in for ‘a steep ascent to heaven’. However, with a heart pill I made it all right to the summit with good views, wild flowers and chapel where the guide spread himself on corpses walled up etc. Extricated ourselves from ‘the pilgrims’ and beat it down to the quay and the mainland and a cream tea.
Saturday, June 1st - Bus to St Erth, train to Truro. Taxi to Cathedral. Min. of Environment exhibition in South Chapel, excellent. Egg salad at ‘Avocado’. Museum shut till 2 o’clock. When open was good and not too many stuffed birds.
Two new couples appeared, 1) a criminal looking type and silly fiancee from B’ham, 2) a dour Yorkshire boy who communicated in grunts with his blonde wife, in a sports car. Both most uncivilized. We had supper to pop played from the lounge!
Sunday, June 2nd - The taxi man (Roy) out. The old toothless crone opposite said we should go with the red minibus driven by his brother (Roy) taking Catholics to Mass. This we did with a collection of old biddies. We got in just after the sermon. The parish church was packed. Two elderly babies were baptized. There was a sea fog, overcast and inclined to drizzle, so we decided to pass the afternoon with a coach trip to Coverak, quiet and peaceful, gaily coloured boats, blue, green, white and grey n tiny harbour. No pop at supper, but silly dark girl tended to sing!
Monday, June 3rd - To St Ives by bus. Photographed Barbara Hepworth ‘Copper Holes’ outside Town Hall and plaque of 1549 western rising on R.C. church. Low tide. Sit on beach in sun til lunch at Blue Haven. After lunch coach trip to Lands End. Coach fills with Yorkshire and Midland “frizzles”. Avuncular driver with a loud speaker. He made silly jokes which were greeted with shrieks of laughter by the “frizzles, whom he addressed as “children”. Passed Culrise helicopter training station used by G.B., France and Germany. Here we saw the once dreaded black cross of the LuftWaffe on the German helicopters. E.E.C. in action. Shades of 1940!
Lands End is too vast to get crowded in spite of coaches and cars. We sat and watched the seas break over the Long Ships and the Armed Knight as Molly and I had done 40 years ago. The Wolf Rock lighthouse was clearly visible, the Scillies less so. Mary was fascinated and impressed by the extensive view. Back by coast road to Zennor where much play was made with story of mermaid on bench end.
Tuesday, June 4th - With the same driver who alas told as the same jokes as we had heard yesterday to Kynance Cove. Magnificent. Giant granite steps put up by N.T. which did not make it any easier. Went nearly down but couldn’t get to café near beach. Lovely flowers and the sand and green and blue Cornish sea. Molly in 1928 when we stayed at Mullion. To Lizard. Rather poor café for lunch. To lighthouse, then sat against a bank for the light was blinding. To Mullion, walked down to cove and met junior school coming up. Walked on pier and then had cream tea.
Wednesday, June 5th - Taxi to station. At Truro an American enquired if this was stopping at Derby. Found out it was and had a very interesting conversation and tea with him. He was a computer engineer and this was his fourth visit to Britain. Irish American, lived in Los Angeles. He was changing at Derby to see Lincoln Cathedral. The best type of American. We agreed it would be best for Britain to be one state of the United States of Europe! Home at six o’clock.
Cornwall 40 years on 1931 - 1974. 1) The multiplication of cars and auxiliary services, garages, parking places, petrol stations, but roads except motorways hardly touched, high banks, narrow and winding. 2) Holidaymakers in 1931 middle class, 1974 working class, from Midlands by car, from Yorkshire by through train Leeds to Penzance. Dress: trousers for women however middle-aged and fat. Food - chips, dried peas, beans. Amusements: vulgar postcards, cheap souvenirs and pop music, esp teenagers. 3) Multiplication of cheap guesthouses, bed and breakfast, all meals optional, H & C in all bedrooms. Though I am a man of the left, I do not fancy teenage couples at close quarters! Their speech, eating habits, ‘musak’, and noise most uncivilized! Must I suppose be a middle class old codger.
Cost of Cornwall: Golden Rail (Week) £48; Pocket Money £20; Mary £15: Total £83.
Sunday, June 10th - Old Bishop Montgomery, the general’s father, believed that everything went in 10 year cycles. Applied this to myself.
1901 to Walthamstow from Southgate. 1911 Forest School, German and Greek. 1921 Schools, Oxford. 1931 Constance at Stow on the Wold. 1941 Sciatica at Henley-on-Thames. 1951 Revisit Forest School. 1961 Hilary marries Lise. 1971 Moon landing, In Europe. Visit Cherry at Henley.
Saturday, June 15 - Anticyclone - heat and sunshine after earlier arctic winds of up to force 7.0. Watering spinach, lettuces, peas, beans. Then at 10 to Rare Breeds Park at Guiting. A 14-man television crew from BBC, with cameras and movable platforms and much cable, taking shots of young reindeer and stag with proprietor.
Saturday, June 22nd - To Sherborne Park village fete in Sherborne House in aid of village and Wild Life Fund. House open so was able to show Mary where I taught in the palmy days of Mosey. About 500 in the grounds, mostly dirty bearded men and women in long skirts, and how they smelled! Wondered what Mother and Father would have made of the scene.
At any rate I found Sherborne was occupied by the ‘International Academy for Continuous Education’ so thought I would write for prospectus.
Sunday, June 23rd - Latest student story. St Pauls College, Cheltenham, have some handsome polished oak tables in the refectory. Students complained. They wanted Bakelite. Principal gave them Bakelite tops, but retained old table for staff. Students objected on grounds that this “socially divisive”. These are the teachers of the future. What a hope!
Saturday, June 29th - Cheltenham 9.30. N.T. trip to Castlecombe and Corsham. A coach load of chattering women; had a bawling one next to me on rear seat of coach. Castlecombe a pleasant village of weavers’ houses round a church in valley bottom flanked by hanging woods, but not I thought a patch on our Cotswold villages. Home about 9, quite exhausted by heat and female chatter.
Sunday, June 30th - Off at 9.15 to Christ Church, Oxford, for ordination service [David Meara]. Went well. Prayer Book of 1662 which Bishop read very well indeed. After service a family reunion. Did not much care for wives, David’s a dwarf, Richard’s a rather superior dame who made no effort to be pleasant.
Wednesday, July 3rd - To Oxford. Broad Street café. Here Nora, looking very wild with white hair. Lunch. Nora as usual does not really listen to what you say as she is on to the next things. Thinks Jacob will have aesthetic interests, beauty, music, dancing, and is very clever.
Friday, July 5th - Booked on lane to Copenhagen on July 26th.
Sunday, July 7th - Friends of Tewkesbury. A good day. High mass with an inaudible preacher. A.G.M. of Friends. Did not take long. Assistant architect told me 1) Norman pillars not filled with rubble, 2) Abbey building local stone, not Coln, 3) C15 glazing supports mullion windows, not vice versa.
Monday, July 8th - An hour’s futile committee of the hall, of which thank God I am no longer chairman. It took an hour to decide whether to do the floor.
Tuesday, July 16th - Wedding anniversary. Lunch at Manor House, Moreton, Chose duck, which proved too rich for me, strawberries and cream. Beaujolais and coffee. Bed at night. Paid bill for Copenhagen - £114.42!!!
Friday, July 19th - Lying down after tea, fine looking man in walking boots, no collar on, turned up. Had been advised to call but couldn’t remember by whom. Finally Mary suggested Father Littledale, which was correct. He was Fr. Fitzgibbon S.J. from Chipping Norton. Very interested in historic Catholic centres. Very civilized and intelligent. Athletic - squash, tennis, running and walking. Gave him a glass of sherry and he set off to walk back to Chippy.
Wednesday, July 21th - To concert in Guiting Power village hall. Sold out. The nobility and gentry in full force. Some sonatas, then Schubert’s unfinished and the Emperor. This was a mistake. The orchestra was too close and loud and the soloist gave an insensitive rendering. One of my pupils from Cokethorpe was there, Christopher Davis, and was going to R.A.D.A. Luckily Mary remembered seeing him in the school play.
Sunday, July 21st - Busy with weeding, picking black currants,digging potatoes, painting bedroom window, and so on.
The Geek fascist generals have seized power in Nicosia and tried to capture Archbishop Makarios, but he got away by RAF plane to London and then to UNO in New York. The Turks had their airborne troops on the ready and have invaded Eastern Cyprus where the Turkish Cypriots mostly live. The Greeks have proclaimed as president a gangster Hilary used to hunt without success, Nikos Sampson
Tuesday, July 23rd - Oxford. Cherry very tired with exams and guests. Slip of tongue after a bottle of Sauterne, addressed her by the wrong Christian name, cf Con and Nora. She got out of bed, dressed, flung key on shelf and went off. Rang Kathy who asked me to lunch tomorrow. (July 24th) Kathy delightful, helpful and sympathetic listened to my woes. Apologized, after all not adolescent but old gent of over 70!
The fascist government dismissed in Greece. Same in Cyprus and Nicos Samson out. Cease fire in force.
Friday, July 26th - 9.51 for Reading, then airport bus to Heathrow. Copenhagen 4.40. When emerge Hilary and Nicholas waiting. His old car so old had hired green Volkswagen. Off at a fast drive to Hove Mark where we arrive about 6.30. Occupy matrimonial double bed, but no light other than bedhead with most awkward switch. Bathroom dark and badly lit, switch on outside, and extraordinary tap. To get water you depressed tap like a joystick, to control temperature of water, hot to left, cold to right; To stop move tap up! Found ‘duvets’ far too hot, pillow far too small. Not a comfortable night.
Saturday, July 27th - Went round the estate. The house of one story, partly thatched, partly roofed with corrugated asbestos, was built round three sides of a square forming a large cobbled courtyard. The family occupied one side; dining room, kitchen, sitting room all opening on to one another without any corridors. If Mary left the bedroom door open you could see it from the entrance! The unconverted cowshed and piggery were used for storing hay and junk for reconstruction. The boys occupied two small bedrooms off the sitting room. Hilary had a small office filled with piles of newspapers off the occupied wing.
Outside they were making a lawn and flower bed, 12 geese wired into a small orchard and there were 15 ducks on a round pond. There were the remains of old carts and farm wagons in various states of decay. A mother sheep and two lambs were tethered to ropes to keep them out of the farmers’ wheat and barley which surrounded the estate. They had brought with them their nice collie, Tasha, and a black and white cat from Copenhagen. Two wild farm cats in semi starving condition lurked in the courtyard; There was also a white rat-like guinea pig in a box in the entrance. He was let out and hid under the furniture, emerging if you made the right cheeping noise, which I was unable to do. Hilary and Nicholas had cleared and dug a patch for vegetables and were growing beans, lettuce, onions etc. The soil was light and sandy in character but contained large stones of volcanic origin deposited I suppose by the ice sheet.
In the afternoon we were taken in the hired car to see the Viking Camp at Trelleborg. A number of Danish visitors. Very interesting, built near a stream leading to the Great Belt. Alas, coming back the car engine failed. It would only run for short periods in low gear and we were lucky to get home in it. Excellent meals cooked by Lise and wine at most meals!
Sunday, July 25th - No car working so had to stay put. Walked round farm in the morning. In Denmark as in the Fens you are very conscious all the time of the sky and the clouds because the horizon of the flat country is so low. looking round the horizon we counted 25 farmstead across the hedges and rather treeless landscape. In the afternoon we visited the nearest farm, inspected the piggery and drank sherry in the parlour with the farmer and his cigar-smoking wife.
Monday, July 29th - A bit worried about catching the plane. To miss it would cost another £100!! The car hire firm had promised another car, but it never turned up, so a friend of Lise’s drove us to Slagelse Station, where we got a fast train to Copenhagen. Hilary piloted us through the crowded streets and and traffic to the air terminal and with luck we just caught a waiting bus to the airport! By the time we had registered our luggage and walked the lengthy corridors, helped by an escalator, to the right bay, the passengers were embarking!! Mrs O’Hara was waiting with her taxi at Kingham and we finally reached home about 11 p.m. pretty tired with the long journey. Mr Badger was in and gave us a great welcome, but there was a note from Vi to say he had been ‘a wily old man’ and refused to come in at night, so had spent some nights out as a free pussy, but had come to no harm.
Saturday, Aug 3rd - A hard day. Off at 8.20 to Cheltenham for National Trust coach to Litchfield. Noon Cathedral. We were shown round by the Dean, but divided into two parties and got a dull and poor guide. He was inaudible anyway and it did not help that there were two lecturers. I hoped to see St Chad’s Gospel, AD 720, but the librarian was out. Cathedral restored by Scotts 1856-1908, pretty well a new building, reminded us of Truro. It had previously been used by the Puritans in the civil war but fell to ruin in the C18. Off to Staunton Harold old church, Laudian, built by an unrepentant loyalist, Robert Shirley, in 1653 “when all things sacred...were demollisht or profaned”, meaning the hated Cromwell, who put him in the Tower, where he died aged 27. As Cromwell remarked, what was spent on that church could have paid a regiment!!
We then made for Melbourne Hall about three miles away. Here we were shown round the house by the housekeeper, who was a very bad guide, slow, diffuse and snobbish. By the time we trooped up to Melbourne’s bedroom felt like fainting. However in the end we emerged and tottered to the Stable tea-room.
Sunday, Aug 6th - Spent day recovering from yesterday’s excursion. Woke up to pouring rain, first for six weeks.
Tuesday, Aug 6th - To Hatford. A board ‘For Sale’ at church gate but no buyers as must agree to maintain churchyard, say Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
Wednesday, Aug 7th - Nixon confessed to Americans he had lied to them and now faces impeachment.
Thursday, Aug 8th - Motel 11. C arrived later. Both delighted to meet after fortnight. It all passed off easily.
Friday, Aug 9th - Nixon resigned at 5 o’clock our time. Newscasters, poor chaps, up all night. Did not sit up but heard speech on 7 o’clock news. Not a very good speech. All the emphasis on respecting his duty to the U.S, but admitted ‘mistakes have been made’. New president, Ford, sworn in. Dull and pedestrian but safe. Reminded of St Joan. “What scoundrels these English nobles are!” “All secular power makes people scoundrels. They are not trained for the work.” New Yorker’s comment: “Nixon did nothin’ that nobody else didn’t do, but he got caught.”
Sunday, Aug 11th - To musical mass at Tewkesbury. After mass saw Molly’s chair which I had presented in Lady Chapel.
Tuesday, Aug 13th - To Reading by train. David Meara in lay attire met us. A nice little semi, light and clean, brass rubbings. Rosemary at work. Winnie and Gwynn turned up from Pinner. Lovely lunch, chops, veg, meringues and peaches and cream. After lunch in David’s car to Strathfieldsaye to the see the Wellington house open to the public this summer. I was expecting something like Blenheim, but the deco was Victorian and it was positively squalid with busts of emperors in gunmetal and wall papered with what appeared o be news cuttings.
Thursday, Aug 22nd - Woodstock for coffee in museum, then to Pear Tree. When I was sitting in the bath facing C I suddenly had a kind of vision and realized in a flash how beautiful she was.
Saturday, Aug 24th - Went up to Stow to see the tourists on the way south and west before the bank holiday. Many strange types. On way back called at Icomb to see flower display illustrating hymns in the church. Particularly struck with red flowers and two sabres on 14th century knight, 1361, just before the beginning of the wars with France, labelled ‘Fight the good fight’.
Monday, Sept 2nd. Cheltenham to try to buy gloves for Hilary’s birthday but not yet in so wrote a letter instead. To Library where wrote an erotic letter to C. Felt like it! To Bourton dentist, but did not like girls, waiting room difficult of access and surgery tiny, so all round decided I would be a gentleman and return to one in Cheltenham with space and fewer working class clients.
Wednesday, Sept 4th - By bus Chipping Norton to Birmingham via Stratford, one and half hours. Arrived at 12.30 at ghastly Midland Red coach station below Bull Ring. Saw a staircase with sign ‘Forte’s Café’ and went up fearing worst but it found a good self service and had two chicken curries - not crowded. Then went out to find New Street station where got taxi to Art Gallery, where an exhibition of Lombard Art from Milan. This was excellent. It consisted of Rotunda with six of the finest and largest pictures, a gallery of architectural and art photographs and four or five further rooms. You hired a £5 catalogue, which was useless as none of the pictures were numbered. The chief figure was St Carlo Borromeo. In all you got a terrific impression of the counter reformation in the reigns of James 1 and Charles and the strength and range of the propaganda. We went back by bus - no change, and ticket from automatic machine which foxed me completely - to the Bull Ring and the café for tea. We were obviously foreigners by dress and bearing and especially speech for those in the café and bus queues obviously did not understand what we said. Nevertheless it was all told and interesting and rewarding experience.
Thursday, Sept 12th - Oxford to see Shaw’s St Joan, recommended by Gill. A tiny almost dwarfish Joan, but very lively and active, preferred her to Sybil Thorndike (1924) and Celia Johnson (1948). The theatre full of sixth form comprehensive, some of whom were bored and very noisy, screeching and shouting and eating in the intervals. No manners. Still a moving even traumatic experience, felt quite exhausted. How time flies. I can hardly believe it is 26 years since I saw it with Eric Cunnington and 50 since Sybil!
Sunday, Sept 15th - Rang up Michael Collard and asked him to lunch. He arrived just after 1 o’clock and stayed till 6 p.m. Would like to buy a labourer’s cottage in the country but has no money for deposit. Doesn’t want to leave the comprehensive because he will drop in salary. Says how terrifying is the violent society, soccer fans etc, in which we live and it will get worse. Trendy papers excuse it. Asked what trendy papers. Replied Observer!!!
Saturday, Sep 21st - Cyril Peach and Kay to tea. Mentally he seemed as good as in 1972, but physically much worse; could only walk a few shuffling steps from car leaning forward, the doctor thinks he must come to a wheeled chair as he he is suffering from incipient Parkinson’s disease, 79. Kay, 67, is much older and quieter and has obviously been very worried. They have bought a bungalow at Seaford and Kay hopes later to move to a bungalow she has plans for opposite the school, which she does not want to give up yet. How ghastly old age is.
Sunday, Sept 29th - To Tewkesbury where Cannon Pouncey preached on ‘Angels’. I thought he implied that they were a hard sell these days. With great trepidation told M Apple Tree Dinner next Friday and intended to stay in Oxford with C, no pretence of staying in college. Said C would look after me. Seemed to accept it.
Monday, Sept 30th - Alas, not for long. She blew up and till Friday our usual sessions of recrimination and complaints. When I told her I did not intend to return on Saturday at 10 a.m. to take her to Stow worse than ever, she had to get prescriptions etc etc.
Friday, Oct 4th - C at Burford. Reached college in good time. Dinner good, pheasant and delicious Burgundy (Chateau Pomeys 1961). Only one bishop, Charles Edward. The college had got a huge Burne-Jones from Tate and hung it across hall high over the entrance. After dinner went rather wobbling to view it. Left 10.30. C waiting parked outside lodge gate - escorted out by Maggs.
Saturday, Oct 5th - Tea, then coffee and rolls. Bath and off at 12 to Keble and saw picture in hall and new building. Walked down South Parks Road to Wadham and saw hall. A crowded but good little pub, the Turf, off New College Lane. Curry which we ate in the open though cold and damp. Then to Botanical Gardens and sat by char. Told C I would take her in a punt next summer! Back to the High. Passing Univ, C said she had never seen the Shelley memorial. “You are going to see it now”. And we did. At 5.30 home. Mary out and house locked. Rejoined C. Home at 9. Extremely happy with a marvellous day with C. ‘Surprised by joy’ indeed.
Saturday, Oct 12th - To Sussex to Richard Meara’s wedding. Pulborough 12, where we had lunch in very cold waiting room. Frost in Cotswolds! Taxi to Thakeham Church where there was some sun and could see line of Downs crowned by Chanctonbury Ring. Vicar of Thakeham seemed almost illiterate and quite incapable of reading English prose! David Meara good. Kingham 11.
Sunday, Oct 13th - Tried to talk to Mary on the lines 1) not leaving her 2) did not want time with C cut, but got nowhere, still accused of deceit and lying, finally floods of tears about Apple Tree Dinner. Richard and Georgina supposed to be coming to lunch but do not know when.
Tuesday, Oct 15th - They want to come on Thursday!
Wednesday, Oct 16th - Rang C from home and hurriedly told her meeting to day instead of tomorrow. To Burford. Waited 11 to 2, but no sign of C. Finally rang Henley, left message to meet me for dinner at 6. Finally about 5.45 she drove up. She had misunderstood on phone and thought I was cancelling. Had a nice meal. A day of dupes.
Thursday, Oct 17th - M still very cross. M provided a nice lunch and there was a bottle but restricted to one glass! In p.m. took the pair to the A40 ‘Bazaar’ which amazed them. Georgina seems intelligent and capable and has more social than Rosemary, David’s wife.
Friday, Oct 18th - Rain all day. Wettest October since 1841.
Saturday, Oct 26th - Row blew up after tea. Mary thought I was trying to cheat her out of half term holiday because I had suggested next weekend, but she had not understood this and when she did she raised every possible objection because I was meeting C on Thursday next, Oct 31st. It would be “getting out of bed with one and into another etc etc. FInally compromised on meeting C on Nov 2nd and we go to Castle & Bull Marlborough on Monday to Thursday. Get double room at £8.11 B&B.
Monday, Oct 28th - Reached Marlborough about tea time. The Caste & Bull beautifully warm. Had tea at the Georgian House where we had toast for breakfast in 1940. A bath
Tuesday, Oct 29th - Very comfortable double bed. Bought out lunch, veal & ham pie, and off to Avebury. My God, it was cold! Stopped to look at sanctuary, then museum. Tried to drive up to Windmill Hill but track too rutted for car, so went to look at Silbury from road only. Thought how I and Cherry had our lunch there on Oct 5th, 1955.
Wednesday, Oct 30th - Was planning to go to Stonehenge but dreaded the plain in this cold, so caught the 8.55 bus to Salisbury. Found it difficult to find Close from Market Place and had lost my hat so my head refrigerated and nearly had to stop. We enjoyed the Cathedral. Some of the tombs had been recoloured and a man was removing the scratches and graffiti from an alabaster tomb in the nave. We walked round the East End to the Cloister, which had made such a deep impression on me as a boy of 14. To Chapter House to see carvings and to Library to see some lovely manuscript books and copy of Magna Carta. Back to Marlborough for tea. Delighted to see Salisbury, which I had always considered the crown of the C13, once more. Unlike the stupid dean of York, the chapter had provided adequate loos!
Thursday, Oct 31st - Hotel bill nearly £40. Bought lunch and along A4 to Hungerford, then to Lambourn. The Downs magnificent and the vile wind had dropped and it was sunny. Home for tea.
Saturday, Nov 2nd - Meet C in Burford. Con writes: “Untrained minds just go round in circles....why you had not foreseen this and done some education I don’t know, but the record ‘Rules for Marriage’ seems to have got stuck in the ‘20s, which is before her time.”
Thursday, Nov 5th - Last night on news - signal men strike, dustmen ditto, cattle riots by farmers in Wales, strike of sugar refiners, and world food shortage partly caused by USSR secretly buying up American harvest for feed for their own livestock to give Russians more meat!!
Thursday, Nov 7th - Lunch at the Inn for all seasons with Kathy Watson. She came from the shop wearing a smock which she removed. Fascinated by her shock of grey hair and large yes. An Edinburgh woman brought up as a Calvinist, now R.C. Family connected with Watson’s Grammar School. Alleged to be very wealthy. Asked me to dinner some time at the Bay Tree, so perhaps she is!
Tuesday, Nov 12th - Letter from Hilary. Kissinger asked about his gloom on the world scene, replied it was like a man who was seasick. When his friends tell him no one dies of seasickness, he replies it is only the hope of dying that keeps him alive.
Friday, Nov 15th - “I’m doddery,” I said to John at Dockar’s. “No, you are not doddery, but eccentric,” he replied.
Saturday, Nov 16th - Lunch at Inn of all seasons. I have found that in back volumes of Diary price of lunch 10 years or more ago is interesting, so give cost of lunch: Soup 25p, Cheese roll 35, Coffee 15, Glass of wine 20 = 100p = £1.
At home third budget makes things a bit easier for industry but withdraws subsidies from nationalized industries, railways, coal, Post Office etc, so cost of living will rise and fresh claims for wages will follow.
Reading a huge, heavy horror story, W. L Shirer. Dreadful. Dreadful.
Monday Nov 18th - Looked at boxes of letters. Cherry has been burning mine. Reckon I should burn hers. Tonight worked through nine letters, Cherry’s from before 1968 and Con’s - very moving I found them too.
After supper Mary would insist on seeing a ghastly Panorama programme on young delinquents. The courts have no power to punish. I could not look at it. I do not like to watch civilization being destroyed before your eyes by these young things and their impoverished parents and ineffective social workers.
Wednesday, Nov 27th - Hair cut. Rather surprized to learn from barber that Monday Cavendish House had had a bomb alert and had to clear out. Also G.P.O. What are we coming to! Barber rather Len-like. Told me sent for by the mortuary when he had his own business, in Cirencester, to shave corpses, but rather surprized when doing it pathologist arrived and slit it down the middle!
Saturday, Nov 30th - A cloudy day but better weather promised. Set off with hickory nuts to Roel but Olive Blackham was either dead or gone away for the winter. The barn was all padlocked. The weather cleared and we had a lovely view over the Wolds and saw the hunt in the distance on the Swell road. After Roel we went down by the Pusedown Pike on A40 via Northleach to the Inn for all seasons for lunch, soup, Stilton and rolls, red wine, jam tart and cream, £1.28 each.
Tuesday, Dec 17th - There has been talk about a world conference with oil producers but some are frightened of “offending them”, making situation worse. We are back in the period of appeasement. Opinion that war may start again but Arabs will once more be defeated. Should the Arabs cut off oil entirely, U.S. prepared to seize gulf oil and have a naval force in the Gulf and commandos training under desert conditions in N. America. Will USSR play ball or sell the Arabs down the river?
Sunday, Dec 22nd - To the Roberts for tea with a bottle, Chianti for Cil, Christmas roses excellent this year) for Bertha. Cil very wild and shaggy, the saintly Margaret less saintly and the old lady in very good form.
Tuesday, Christmas Eve - This wonderful invention enabled us on ITV (without adverts) to attend High Mass in St Peters. The Pope celebrating looked very old and frail with microphone much in evidence, cardinals, diplomats, religious etc etc and large milling crowds in the nave. Epistle read in American English, Gospel in Spanish, Pope’s address in Italian, Mass in Latin.
Christmas Day - Breakfast. The opening of presents, Badger’s tie, playing Mary’s Mozart and Beethoven records, setting up of postcards, picking flowers, lighting fire kept me very busy indeed till lunch. Chicken, bread sauce, sprouts, creamed potatoes, pudding, brandy butter, Asti Spumante & Port, nuts and dessert. Slept till tea. The Queen wax like, Olivier’s
in black and white, a comic Futtocks End with Ronnie Barker and with Robin Day, Joyce Grenfell and Bernard Levin.
Picked 22 flowers in garden: primrose, daisy, sow thistle, hamamelis, prunus, thrift, campanula, aubretia, deanthus, winter jasmine, polyanthus, rose, crysanthenum, fuchsia, hypericum, Xmas rose, hazel catkins, violet, buttercup, aconite, dandelion [plus 1 illegible].
Boxing Day - Gale and rain. In all day.
Sunday, Dec 29th - To Tewkesbury to High Mass.
Tuesday, Dec 31st - Into Marys bed at 7.30. Stow for coffee and library. Heard from Hilary at last with cheque for £5.
It was violent again in Ireland and the Near East, bombing in England and highjacking and taking of hostages by the Arab terrorists. The truce between Israel and Syria only just holding; the greater part of the British army in Ulster. At last we have an acceptable president in the US and negotiations will go on with the Russians for a slackening of tension.
It seems doubtful if we have really come to terms with the new weapons the Arabs now wield. We have not made up our minds about the E.E.C. but hope the first 6 months of 1975 will decide it. Another thing undecided is the power and position in the state of the great trade unions.
Christmas cards: Flowers, birds, animals 21, religion and art 20, Topography 8, snow scenes, coaches, lanterns 6, children 5, charity 3, misc 3, Total 66