16th February 1944
Last night cold, glittery stars. This morning, still cold, but drifting clouds, pouring rain, wind S.W. Felt terrible, cough persistent and most exhaustive. Lay wondering whether to get up or not. Heard George bring the milk to the door, but did not unlock it. Got up about 9, made a good breakfast from bread and milk, shaved, left at 11 o’clock.
Hell of a journey. Arrived soaked through, coughing like an old horse. Intended to meet Hervey Benham for lunch, to discuss “Journal” publication, but was late leaving the office, so we could not get into Last’s, which is the only place he will go. Went into the “Cups” Bar instead. He offered me £12.2.0 for three years extracts – 1940, 1941 and 1942 (with of course the preliminary extracts in 1938 and 1939). Could not make up my mind whether to go on with it or not. Whole conversation suddenly became distasteful to me – the bar, the smell of beer, the Americans drinking double whiskies, Lampon the horse-slaughterer, and a horrible little fat man – I felt fed up with the thing. Then above the chatter and clatter of glasses, I heard the wailing of the sirens. I thought this is it again, rain, low clouds, like September 1942. If Hervey heard it he made no sign. It was a quarter to 2. I said “I must run, I’ll see you again, no idea it was so late,” and fled. No planes about, streets full of wet people hurrying back to work.
Went down Balkerne Hill, by Middle Mill, to King’s Mead, where I heard the all-clear ring out. Went back, to Rose’s café and had bread and cheese.
Felt bad all day, and could not concentrate. In Culver Street today saw an American soldier acting as a “shoe-shine boy” to his compatriots, just outside the American Red Cross.
Had tea with Diana Davies, then left at 6 for Higham, still raining hard. Went by way of Dedham. Mrs. Sisson alone, as Sisson was in London for the day. She is still very worried about his going to Italy, but does not yet know whether he is going or not. Talk about the debate in the Lords today, when a most scurrilous attack was made on Archbishop Lang and the Bishop of Chichester, on account of their very mildly expressed disapproval of the British and American bombing raids. Monte Cassino has been utterly destroyed after 1400 years. Mrs Sisson said the thought of raids anywhere made her feel ill.
Sisson came in, and told us that the R.I.B.A. Council had voted £10 for repair of Layer Marney Church, a most unusual step for them to take. He wants to get some Italian conversation, so I advised him to see Dr. Punkis of the Grammar School.
To Higham at 9, still raining. Black as pitch.