3rd February 1943

Cloudy, then a lovely fine day.  A little cooler than yesterday, but wonderfully mild for the time of year.  This morning met Councillor Lu Marden, the landlord of the “Albert”, a sad, depressed looking man, and inspected Dr. Payne’s house with him.  I cannot quite understand why he should want to buy this enormous house and then immediately let it for offices, but that seems to be his idea.  We went all over the place, a huge late Victorian barrack, on the corner of Queen’s Road and Victoria Road.  It is built of yellow brick, two storeys and attics, and has no architectural interest.  Dr. Payne will keep the surgery etc, and we shall have about 10 rooms for our use.  There is a large basement – I was most amused when Marden said “You’d better see the basement” and I said “Well, I don't know, I suppose I might as well …” both of us knowing that the other was thinking of air raids.  Somebody had apparently been sleeping down there, for in a narrow passage was a bed, with a tin “jerry” standing on it.  Nearby was a tiny cupboard, no windows or ventilation, quite black and airless, containing a canvas garden chair.  On the inside of the door was a pencil written list, headed “Air Raids, 1940”, giving the times of every alarm from the summer of 1940 all through the following winter.  Some poor thing must have gone down to this tiny “dugout” every time the alarm sounded, and sat there all alone, waiting for the all-clear.  A pencil hung from a nail on the door.

I believe this place will be a very suitable office.  There is plenty of room for cars, but unfortunately no stable; however I think I can find one nearby.  If we take the place, it will mean that I have to sever another link with the Museum, at a bad time, too.

This afternoon there was a phone call from the Royal Free Hospital, London, to say that Poulter must come at once.  It came on our phone, and I took it.  We had a long talk with London as to whether he could have a private ward.  The charming female voice at the other end regretted that he couldn’t, but urged that he should come without delay.  He said he would.  Poulter then told me that Hull was ill in bed and would not be in for some time.  What on earth is to happen to the Museum?

Councillor Blomfield phoned, and said he was very angry with Hull, and that he had been to the Chairman about it.  The Chairman was sufficiently roused from the apathy of age to write Hull a strong letter, asking (in effect) when the devil he was going to attend to his duties at the Museum.  Hull replied he was ill.  He was certainly well enough to be in the Cross Keys on Sunday.  

I feel everything has come upon us at once.  I never thought that a time would come when we should be without Poulter and yet still have Hull.  I always felt in my heart that at last Hull would be dismissed, and that Poulter and I would run the Museum between us.  Now, Poulter and I are both gone, and it is Hull who remains supreme, undisputed ruler of the whole Museum.  What can the future be?

All this made me very late, and it was 6 o’clock when I cycled away.  Even so, I managed to reach Lawford without using my lamps.  The evenings have suddenly begun to get quite light.  A rain shower passed over as I went through Parson’s Heath and Fox Street.  The falling streaks of rain looked very pretty against an orange sunset.  Called at Spring Gate, but Molly Blomfield was not there.  She is still ill in bed at Trinity St.  How saddening is all this illness and disease.

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