2nd January 1943

Up at 7 to see a lovely clear dawn.  Cold, but the wind almost gone.  The stars were glittering, dying out before the faint hazy glow from the east, and the last remnant of the moon still hung in the southern sky.  Cycled off at ten minutes to 8, and as I went along saw the glow becoming brighter and yet brighter, the sky absolutely cloudless, changing from pale gold to yellow, then orange, then pink.  Distant trees, stacks and farms looked as if drawn in charcoal.  The water glittered in the cart furrows.  Passed ten horses going to work in Dead Lane, huge shapes in the dim light.  The sun’s orb appeared just above the horizon as I passed over East Bridge, and every window going up East Hill flashed crimson.

Very busy all morning.  Capt. Folkard brought back from Writtle another mad scheme, under which all the 1943 Cropping is to be revised, each farm to be done under the personal supervision of a member of the Committee.  In our case, this would mean each member visiting about 85 farms and holdings – a physical impossibility.  Writtle and the Ministry go from one insanity to another, and I have no doubt that if this sort of thing goes on there will be a serious decrease in production, because farmers would rather give up than be “messed about” in this way.

Back to office this afternoon, after an hour at Bourne Mill, to see one of the Land Girls with Nott.  She is a leather-worker by trade, and used to be with Bliss & Co, London.  She has the delightful name of Caesarina Woollains.  We want her to act as a sort of ganger, in an effort to get the Land Army pulled together again, but I fear nothing much will come of it.  The girls do exactly as they like since Joanna left, and have now reached the stage where they simply refuse to get out in the morning.  Poor old Authey can do nothing with them.

Away at 4, in a sudden rain storm, to pay out money at Mile End and Boxted.  Called at Roses.  Dodo Rose looks rather frail.  She was laughing over a very funny thing in this month’s number of the magazine “Horizon”.  In a very interesting article on women working in a factory, it was recorded that one of the girls said “Bugger the foreman”.  The offending word has been carefully erased with a pen-knife in each copy, no mean task.  Curiously enough, there is a short story in the same issue containing the words “bugger”, “sod” and “bastard”, all unexpurgated.  After a little thought it dawned upon me that you may print the word as a noun but not as a verb!  The English sense of decency is a very curious thing.

Brought back with me tonight a “Common Place Book” compiled by Henry Laver between 1893 and 1903, all choice items of Colchester lore, including the true story of Ann Mortlock, the woman who, in 1857, remembered Headgate, remembrances of men whipped at cats-tails, the last person to be put in Colchester stocks and an exact record of the finding of part of the gateway into St. Botolph’s Priory.  This is a wonderful find, and has never been published.

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