14th January 1943

Woke at 4 to torrential rain and a heavy gale, fortunately blowing behind me from the N.W., as I had to cycle in.  The wind was blowing so hard that I was sure the low clouds could not last long, and I was right, for great patches of light soon appeared, and the rain became intermittent showers.

At 10.30 a meeting of the Committee and all the parish representatives in the Grand Jury Room, when Sadler spoke at great length on the 1943 Cropping Programme.  He went on until well after 1 o’clock.  I was very bored, but slightly amused when he admitted that several errors had been found in the forms after they were printed.  He also admitted that it had been pointed out that the allocation of hay for farm-horses – 30 cwt for six months – was perhaps not sufficient, but the figures had been prepared by people who did not know anything about horses, only cows!  I had noticed this mistake as soon as I saw the form, and mentioned it to the District Officer.

Mr. A.W. Page raised great objections to the proposed order prohibiting the feeding of oats to sheep or bullocks.  He pointed out that it would be quite impossible for him to carry 2000 sheep throughout the winter, and if they went the “sheep-land” farms would suffer considerably.  Stanley Webb agreed in principle, and said he would take that point back to the Executive, but he said, as did Sadler, that this was the “vital year”, and every ounce of food must be produced, for, he said, even if the land suffers, “it’s no use keeping the land fertile and having Jerry here.”  Several of the men in the audience called out “Hear, hear.”

Sadler made a great point that although the wheat acreage is to be increased by 25%, barley must be the same as last year.  The most extraordinary thing is that the wheat acreage in Essex last year was the same as in 1938.  Of course, it is generally understood that the maintenance of the barley acreage is due to pressure being brought by the brewers, although the Ministry say they want it for bread.  

Just before one o’clock the Chairman signalled to me with some anxiety, and when I went over to him, said in a piercing whisper “Would you run up to Cook’s and get my fish?  They’ll be shut in a minute!”  Which I did.

Only time for half a lunch, and then round to the Co-operative Hall for the workmens’ meeting, to be addressed by the Executive Officer.  I saw all the men and Land Girls come in.  I have not been in the “Co-op Hall” since the old Hamilton Road School Concerts.  One of the Land Girls began playing a piano, and all the rest sang in shrill Cockney voices.  I felt I could not stop here the whole afternoon, as I had so much to do, so I went back to the office to tell the District Officer all was ready in the hall.  As I went upstairs, Poulter came down, and asked me to come below and check the Doctor’s Morants, Newcourt, etc., which he is sending to London with the rest of the books.  I said that before they went they should be checked off the list I had sent to Mrs. Lyon-Campbell, and he answered “But I can’t go up there any more.”  I said “Why not?  Have you quarrelled with the old lady?”  He looked at me rather oddly, and said “Don't you know?  I have to go to the Hospital at 6 o’clock to be operated on for cancer in the throat,” and his face went queerly flushed.   

He told me to come up to the office, and gave me various instructions for Councillor Blomfield.  At last I said “Look here, does Hull know about this?”  He said he had told him on the phone, but Hull had only laughed in an idiotic manner.  He had told Butcher, but had not then told Mrs. Blake.  “I suppose I shall have to” he said.

He said he had just made a new will.  He had previously, as I know, left the Museum £1000, but he has now cancelled this, as he feels, just as the Doctor did, that the place is incapable of benefitting by any gifts, so long as Hull is in charge.  It seems to me an exceptionally grave criticism of the institution that two very sound men should behave like this when believing themselves to be on the brink of death.  Colchester lost the Pollexfen Collection in just the same way, and the town shall certainly have nothing of mine.  [The bulk of Rev. J H Pollexfen's collection of antiquities from Colchester were sold to the British Museum towards the end of the 19th century].
Soon after 4, the Executive Officer, Executive Chairman, our Chairman, and General Barker walked in and took possession of my office.  I was not asked to leave, but there was simply no room to remain, so I left my work and cleared out.  The Executive Officer is very fond of doing this sort of thing, without any notice to District Offices whose premises he intends to use.  It is very bad manners.

About 5, I began to feel thoroughly sick and tired, but determined to go to see the film of “Queen Victoria” to relieve my mind.  It was made up of the two films “Victoria the Great” and “Sixty Glorious Years,” but was not quite so good as either.  Individual scenes were excellent – the arrival at Kensington Palace in the dawn, the House of Commons scene, the old Queen at Balmoral, the Jubilee, especially the return to the Palace, and the last scene, with Lord Salisbury and Edward VII pacing the lawns at Osbourne, waiting for the old Queen to die.  The Queen was well portrayed all through.  The railway scene I thought poor, and it had such possibilities.

Out at 7, and back to the office in glorious moonlight.  Began to feel really bad.  Finished letters, posted them, and set out for Lawford.  When I got there I was so weak I could hardly stand.  Mr. and Mrs. Hooper had come, and supper was just beginning, but could not face it and went to bed.  Joy most kindly brought me a hot water bottle and a cup of tea. 

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