Up for breakfast. Dark morning, not really light enough to read until after 9. It is now 37 days since I left
Colchester and I must leave here today. Stayed in all morning, restlessly wandering about the flat. Could not settle to reading, writing or even
listening to radio.
Kept on tossing up with myself as to whether I would go back to Colchester or go to Harrogate and see Daven Soar or to
Manchester and see
Daphne Young [who had worked with Rudsdale at the War Agricultural Committee office but was now a teacher in Manchester].
Everybody rushing about, window cleaner in etc. Both ladies rushing out to business and shopping. Ethel goes to office work every afternoon, at the Rubber Works, and Ethel is at the Bank of Scotland. She changed another cheque for me today - £3. This will enable me to pay my fare to wherever I may go. So far this expedition has cost me £25 or so - £5 per week, fares included. Would have been a lot less had I been better able to cycle further. Hostels idea a failure, too filthy for even my requirements.
Went to library, and discovered my fears for the
were groundless. The unfortunate people
were the family of a “well-known diamond merchant” and I obtained this
information from – The Irish Times.
At 7pm definitely decided to call at
York. Nerves in a frightful state. Can't sit still, read, do anything.
All Hallows Eve
Time moved on – tea, a little reading, Ethel went to Canteen – said goodbye, will not see her again – supper. Dora most kind. 9 o’clock news. 5 mins – 10 mins, luggage down the stairs, cycle down – goodbye in the stone passage – moved away in the foggy dark feeling as miserable and depressed as at any time since I left
England. The moon was faintly visible through the
clouds and fog, a lovely Walpurgis Night.
All over Scotland
people are having parties tonight.
Still debating in my confused mind what to do, but finally bought a ticket to
York. Train left sharp on time, and I
saw the lights of the city slip away, and the huge mass of Arthur’s Seat, the
tall houses, lights glowing at their windows.
Had a full seat, stretched out and tried to sleep. Ate chocolate which Dora kindly gave me (they gave me enough food for a week, biscuits, tea, sandwiches).
Heard the train rumble over the
into England – when shall I
see dear Scotland
again? Thinking of darling Ann, now more
than 200 miles behind me. Looked out on
the Northumbrian fields, sharp and clear under the brilliant full moon, not a
cloud in the sky now. On the other side
the sea was black and grey, with a fringe of white foam where the waves were
Dozed at odd times, saw Newcastle, like some nightmare town made up for some dreadful film show – black shadows, white moonlight, pale yellow street lamps – no traffic about, half past one in the morning.
York, at 3.30. Tried Station Hotel – no bed, so went to the
waiting room. Found it full of Commandos
and RAF, threw my kit on the floor, lay down on it and went to sleep for 3
hours, to dream most vividly of Australian aborigines. Got up at 6.30 and had breakfast of
sandwiches from Edinburgh
and hot tea.
Brilliant sunny day, but cold. Was not wakened until 9.30, and had another breakfast in bed. Saw in Scotsman today that there were bombs early on Sunday morning.
“A flying bomb which struck a house in a residential district in southern
England early yesterday killed a
woman, Mrs Seymour, injured her husband and daughter and started a fire.
A short alert was sounded in the
Watchers reported that one flying bomb was brought down into the sea and others inland.”
At once my thought is – was the “Residential Area” in
Colchester? Was the house in Wellesley Road? Was it perhaps that Ann Seymour was home for the
weekend? What is one to make out from
such an evasive, tantalising report?
Who are these ubiquitous “watchers on the coast”? Do they mean Royal Observer Corps men? If so, why not say so? “One” bomb shot into the sea does not sound like very successful defence. Curious that defences are supposed to have had such wonderful successes in
Kent yet the results are so poor in Essex and Suffolk.
Lay in bed all morning, with rather painful belly ache, reading papers and ‘Our Mutual Friend’. War news very saddening. All allied offensives are slowed down now or stopped, and there is obviously not the slightest chance of a break into
this year, and of course the next 6 months will allow Germany to
build up a new army and air force, to say nothing of divers etc. Yet in Britain all precautions are being
dropped, Home Guard stood down, ARP and NFS partly disbanded. In Scotland ARP is almost entirely done away
with. What on earth will be the effect
on the general public when new and terrifying attacks are made?
I honestly believe that the Germans have a very good chance of winning yet, and they may well fight like insane devils when they see how in countries occupied by allies starvation is the first effect, followed by all sorts of “judicial” murders as are now going on in France.
What is to be the end of it all? I believe there is no power in the world which can stop the war.
This afternoon suddenly decided to get the cycle out and go into
, which I did,
cycling right round the Queen’s Drive, high above Duddingston Lock the whole
landscape shrouded in golden haze, and the sun shining through in glory. A boat was slowly crossing the Lock, with 2
pairs of oars like a very large water beetle, the sun glinting on the wet
oars. The city was a grey hazy cloud
with the spires and domes, pinnacles and towers standing up. Below me I could see Prestonfield House, its
huge circular stables, green lawns and bare leafless trees. Holyrood
Depressing to see how houses have been built right up to the park wall on the east, half way up the hill. Such a pity not to have acquired the slope down to Duddingston as an open space, but of course the Scots are as mean, paltry and narrow minded as the English where our amenities are concerned.
It is only thanks to their passion for golf that any open spaces have been preserved at all. Dunsapie Loch, a tiny seemingly remote pool among the crags, as it might be in Sutherland, water fowl swimming on it, and an old man sitting on a wooden seat watching them. It was here that Dora and Ethel Biggam’s brother-in-law drowned himself.
On some of the rocks were a few very sutty sheep and several girls on ponies came riding down a grass track. Swept down the long hill to St Margaret’s Lock. A crane has been erected, over-hanging the water. Don't know what is going on, but nearby some fellows were working with rods and a level.
On the crags above the
Loch the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel stood out
absolutely against the setting sun. Past
the gurgling well, and through the Park gates by the Palace into what used to
be known as ‘Back Canongate’, but is now called Holyrood Road, lined with breweries,
great Clydesdales crashing along over the cobbles.
Went to the Library and searched all the papers for references to divers, but found nothing more.
Back to Glengyle Terrace for tea, by
magnificent houses, and along the Meadows.
Am told that some of the holders have fen-charters dating back before
the draining of the Burgh South Lock, and have specified therein that they have
a right to have a boat on the lock, although there has been no water since
Breakfast in bed again. Lay in bed until after 11. Heard the band of the Home Guards as they marched to inspection on the Meadows.
Spent most of the day writing, and completed two episodes of a proposed “play” on the Observer Post, although the thing could not possibly be presented on a stage. It does however lend itself particularly well to being written in the form of dialogue and descriptive matter in between.
Had supper alone with Dora Biggam tonight, while Ethel went off to her old dragon of a sister at the Braids. Could not bring myself to any serious talk, so we listened to the radio instead, although reception was poor.
Glorious morning. Felt very much better, head clear, legs firmer. Had breakfast in bed and read “Our Mutual Friend” – never read it before. Who can now compare even faintly with Dickens?
Fine, brilliant moon tonight. What time will the divers come in over
Woke about 8 and was given delicious breakfast in bed. Brilliant sunny day. No mention today in press or radio about divers, but our glorious premier has spoken again and given us a thoroughly gloomy view of the war, which may now become “unbearably protracted”. Wonder how much more the British public will really stand? Much talk about solidarity of allies which clearly shows that there have been very serious troubles. Assurances that there are now no differences between Britain and
means that the differences are great. If
can hold out 6 months, may yet win the war.
By next February the automatic devices to bombard the British Isles will be
so numerous and efficient that all normal life must cease. It does not seem to occur to anybody that the
diver business will increase during
this winter, not decrease. Can't
understand why they have not already begun to send them against other cities
Felt better today, but not well. Stayed in bed until 4, then up, washed, had tea and went to Dr’s. Unfortunately, Lamont was out, but saw the other man, and felt an awful fool. Stammered badly and generally behaved like a lunatic. Told me to come back tomorrow and see Lamont, who will give me a letter for Rowland. Felt a little better when I left. Perhaps after all these years I must really begin to take medical advice seriously. But how I hate going to see doctors at all.
Walked back down the Links as the huge moon rose up behind Arthur’s Seat. Tonight reading – Robert Louis Stevenson – short stories. Found a book in the house called “The Happy Traveller” by a Revd Tatchell of Midhurst, pub in 1923, a sort of naïve guide to the whole world. It contains this gem under Jamaica, (considering that it is written by a parson) – “Being by nature superstitious and in great dread of Duppres or ghosts, they have taken kindly to religion; and if you listen to a street preacher or go to a meeting house on a Sunday, you will be amused at their pomposity and capacity for silly chatter.” What a delightful servant of Christ.
he says: “No one will want to go to Russia until the spectre of
Bolshevism is laid and the great country returns to its senses and settles
Foggy and damp. Amused myself watching the golfers on the links, a railway parcel van drive up and the horse cross the road to eat grass, then later a pantechnicon came to the ground floor flat in the next block and a lot of furniture went away. In the afternoon I saw a funeral coming down a road on the opposite side of the links, a motor hearse and a white surpliced choir following behind.
Just before supper an abominable feeling of encroaching darkness came over me. All life seemed to drain out of my body, and sharp pains set up in my thighs. For a moment the room seemed dark, but soon became lighter again. As soon as I was alone, I tried everything, shaking head, putting head down, etc to get rid of the weakness but no good. Had bowl of broth, but still no better. Made an excuse to go outside to see if it was raining, but even the cool damp night air brought no relief.
Crawled back up to the flat and confessed I could eat no more and would have to lie down. They took it splendidly – put one to bed and made no bones about it. Was thankful to be in the soft warm bed again, but felt strongly the awful embarrassment – to feel really ill in someone else’s house.
Determined to see Dr. Lamont tomorrow. Heard Miss P. come in to talk about my discovery in the Links business and then fell asleep, listening to the howling of the wind and the beat of rain.
Up 8.30, splendid peaceful night without a dream. Sudden realisation that I have been here another week and have been away from Colchester for 31 days. Must undoubtedly give up job.
Thick damp foggy morning, but papers say more divers over last night. They are now sending them all over
as well, and the Americans I suppose will want to send them out from this
country sooner or later.
Went to Library, read the London Times, Irish Times, Scotsman, Yorkshire and Newcastle papers, trying to pick up scraps about divers, but the reports are identical in every paper.
This afternoon went down to the Register Office for Miss Biggam about the Bruntsfield Links business. Discovered that under Edinburgh Improvement Act, 1827 and another of 1831 neither the Links nor the Meadows can ever be built upon. But when I reported this interesting discovery the only comment was that if the Corporation wished to build they would most certainly do so, Act or no Act! What a delicious comment on the glorious democratic Government.
The officer at the Register Office, when I was talking to him, said that of course either of these Acts could be repealed – “in fact, any act can be repealed, even the Act of Union!”
Back to Library after that, and then to Theatre to see Iolanthe, gallery seat again. When I heard the opening chorus I shut my eyes and was back in the School Hall again, 14 years old, hearing Gilbert & Sullivan for the first time.
Where are now all the boys who played in that show? How many are dead? The only name I can think of is Jumbo Joscelyn, who made a great stir as “Private Willis” and he’s at Writtle.
The show was enjoyable, but a lot of the music seemed to be played too slow, but the costumes were a delight and the Lord Chancellor a dream. In the second act, there was great applause as soon as the curtain rose to reveal Private Willis in his sentry box, and at each mock-heroic reference in the songs there were little outbursts of clapping from various parts of the house.
Came out into damp, misty streets, no sign of the moon. To bed, full of misery and anxiety. Shall have to cycle a good way home, as have not sufficient money for full fare.
Two unfortunate errors today – a man stopped me outside the Library, a dirty little old man, carrying a parcel, and I understood him to say “Do ye ken the City o’ Glasgo?” I stared at him and he seemed to repeat his remark, so I said very slowly “No, but perhaps they could tell you in the Library,” indicating the place, “I daresay they have a map in there.” He gaped at me a moment, muttered something of which I caught only the words “bluidy fule” and walked away. A man standing near me grinned, so I said “Well, he doesn’t seem to be very pleased with himself” The man laughed and said “Nay, he’s wild because you make sich a game of him” I replied “I certainly don’t mean to do any such thing. How can I be expected to know all about
A few minutes later I went into a shop and bought some writing paper, and the girls seemed to say “Do you wash on Saturday?” It was only after several repetitions that I made out the question as “Do you wish envelopes as well?”
Had tea in a cinema café in the
Lothian Road, the
grey afternoon fading outside and the long processions of horses going home to
the Railways yards at the Caledonian Station.
Their great hooves ringing on the cobbles.
Pretty girls coming in to tea with soldiers and airmen, and pipe music from the radio.
Got hold of 2 very good things today – book of short stories by Cunninghame Graham, which are superb. Never read any before, but must now get a lot. The other is the last volume of Hodson’s War Diary, 1942-3, called ‘Home Front’. Excellent reporting. Must get the other 4 vols.
The purchase of these has left me with £3.12.6, and the fare home is nearly £5.
Fine, cold autumn morning with blue mist full of seagulls rising, falling. The flat is so high that you get a grand view right across the grass, marked off into odd shapes by narrow ashphalt paths, with figures of golfers or of passers by hurrying under umbrellas, dogs running and playing, right over to the Braid Hills and the blue distant hills far beyond that.
Above there is the sound of music and fiddle, from the apartment of the music teacher. Often the dull boom of a door slamming and the sound of hurrying footsteps on the stone stairs and then down the dark stone passage below. There are 6 flats in this block, all occupied by amusing characters.
To the Library for an hour this afternoon, reading papers. The war news seems gloomy, and still divers coming in every night. Not a word from Colchester so suppose all is fairly well.
Tonight had a haggis for supper, first I have ever tasted. Delicious. Drink far too much tea here.
Lovely morning, sunny but cool. Pale blue mists across the Links, Braid Hills a darker blue in the distance. Saw in 'The Scotsman' that a plane crashed last night at Haddington, 10 miles away, probably the one I heard. House destroyed and some relatives of Earl Haig killed.
Wrote to Father again. Suppose he must be alright as I have not heard a word from him. Went to Library for an hour, and to Grant’s. Bought
Bloomfield’s Poems in 2
vols. Beautiful copy, for 1/.
This afternoon, reading and writing. Had tea in the flat, looking out over the links. Lights appearing in the great school up the hill, and boys and girls going home in the misty dusk. Sound of horses hooves on the stone sets.
Decided to go to the Mikado by the D’Oyly Carte Co. No seats left, so had to wait in queue. Darkness falling, lights coming on, trams going by packed with work people, and old “busker” singing “Drink to me only” in a hoarse dirgelike voice. Got a good seat in 2nd row of gallery. Place seemed to be very largely filled by young girls, mostly very pretty, chattering in soft, Scottish voices. At last the orchestra came in and tuned up. Then they swung into the first bars of the music, and all the little girls with their pretty hair and shining eager little eyes leaned forward entranced, never thinking I suppose that their grandmothers were just as entranced 60 years ago.
About 1890 this opera was taken off in
London on the occasion of the Mikado’s
visit, as it was regarded as an insult to Japan. In 1941 it was again more or less banned as
in a pleasant or facetious manner. Now
apparently it is to be regarded merely as a piece of play acting and
music. I enjoyed it immensely, all the
old tunes, the old songs. The dresses
and settings were changed a few years ago, and are certainly very gorgeous. Some of the acting did not seem to me to be
as good as I should have expected from the D’Oyly Carte Co. themselves but of
course it is difficult to make so old a play go with a swing, with its feeble
late Victorian jokes (although everyone laughed at them most dutifully). “The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring” was
encored enthusiastically, and I think “Tit Willow” could easily have been as
well. What delightful tunes these
are. Made me think of the old days at
school, when we did this show at Easter.
The “Mikado” was Darrell Fancourt, very good, and Grahame Clifford did
Ko-Ko in such a clowning manner that I should expect the people who regard
G&S as a religion rather than an entertainment to be disgusted. The orchestra played some numbers a little
slowly, and were just inclined to be a bit “brassy” but it was all a delight to
Came out into the cold starlit night. Nice supper, friendly chatter. Money is now becoming short, in fact I have not got enough to pay my fare home. Thinking about cycling as far as
About 11 o’clock heard 2 fire engines rushing by towards Marchmont. While in the cafe, five ATS came up, with an ATS Officer. She seemed to be on very good terms with the girls. They all spoke with Yorkshire or
accents, and the officer with the usual English “cultured” accent. They were talking about service abroad, and
the officer said “Well, the only reason I’m
not keen to go is that as soon as I go out my husband will be coming
home.” A pleasant piece of
optimism. Shortly after a Major came up,
and greeted the officer in a very affable manner. He attached himself to the party, and finally
paid for them all.
Fog and then sun. Quiet day reading. Did not feel very well. Dora Biggam here alone tonight and longed to start a conversation, but could not.
Fog came on again tonight, and as I was sitting reading by myself before going to bed, sometime before midnight I heard the unmistakeable sound of an aircraft in trouble, somewhere to the south. The engine was running very badly, and died away in a sort of low rumble. Listened anxiously, as if I was on the Post.
Wet and foggy. Mother’s birthday. No present this year. Went to Library again, and spent a good deal of the day writing.
This evening went to see Diana’s sister (Diana Davis, Stage Manager, Colchester Repertory Company), who lives up at Merchiston, and spent some time wandering in the dark through a maze of Merchiston Avenues, Roads, Crescents and gardens. She is extraordinarily like Diana – very pretty, and not more than about 20. Been married 3 months. Talked about Scottish prejudices etc. Stayed an hour, then back to Bruntisfield to supper, very late.
Much talk about the Edinburgh Corporation’s Schemes for building houses in the Parks and on the Links. This it seems is really true – amazing and scandalous. Mrs Paterson says Mrs -, Councillor says it is intended to destroy all Canongate.
Lovely day, faint golden mist across the Links, as the sun came up. Horrible dream early this morning – I was mad, and everybody I was at school with was there, trying to tie me up with ropes, while I struck at them with a large beam. Knew I was insane, a vile dream.
Now endless nagging worry about going back. Mind seems quite weak, cannot force myself to go.
Richardson re work at Museum. Wrote to Father and Captain Folkard.
Lovely morning. Went to see Dr Lamont, but he was out. Divers been over
Essex 7 nights running now. Rumours have come up that they go in daylight
as well, but no real news. London people in Edinburgh
flatly refuse to go back.
Spent whole day at Library mostly on Hebridean monuments. Wonderful.
Dull again, but no rain. To Library, then to see
Interesting conversation, walked up Canongate to . Saw
Acheson House next Huntley House etc.
Sad condition of the tenements down to Abbey Strand. Netherbow Port
and met Gordon Childe. Saw the Newstead
ironwork – wonderful. Also the Scottish
carved stones – conceived idea of getting temporary work here. Prepared to work for nothing for 3 months if I
sell Robin. Might be well worthwhile. National Museum
Rain and sleet, blowing across streets, Castle Rock, with light sky behind. Looked in
and St Cuthbert’s Churches and the graveyards.
Afternoon in the library again, and got through a good deal. Is this the fulfilment of my dream? The one about working in a great library?
Could live here for the rest of my life. Wrote to Ann McLean tonight and sent telegram to Father.
Lovely dull morning, mists floating over the city. Spent day in the library. Felt ill. Afternoon went over to Prestonfield. Had tea and supper, long talk with Yankowski; Janet dressed in lovely scarlet dress. Grouse for supper, and wonderful pink cream pudding. Heavy rain began. Thought of
so far away. Much talk tonight about Portal
Houses, Mrs Paterson and Miss Millers.
Went out on very crowded bus. City full of wandering crowds. Got to chapel about 3.30. Chapel utterly delightful – what a place this church would have been had it been completed. Then to see the Castle, built in extraordinary manner at the side of a cliff. Upper part being lived in, and used as a tearoom. Went through the lower floors, weird galleries and vaulted rooms etc. but nothing of the same sort of feeling as Craig Millar.
Back 5.30pm full of girls who had been out riding, very smart.
Spent very. pleasant evening, reading and writing.
Lay late. Felt a little better and had first satisfactory meal since Thurs night. In afternoon went to R.S.Ac. Saw the Lord Provost come in with procession – the Town Guard (3), halbards, 18th C hats, 17th C coats, breaches red, white stockings, black buckle shoes. Then the sword and the Mace. The L.P. Daltry, 2 barflies, and the counsellors. The Duke of Montrose came in with many other guests, military, naval, RAF, several kilted, good-looking women, artists etc.
Picture show rather weak. Very pretty little girl there, with long fair hair, about 17 I should think, who figured as a portrait, Vivian by Hislop. Tried to make myself go to Dr Lamond, but nerve failed. This evening writing and hearing about the proposals to build houses all over the meadows and Links. Early bed.
Dreadful stormy night. Suffered from toothache for 4 hours, and wandering pains all over body. Wind howled and struck among the roofs. Woke to find sky clearing, but bitterly cold. Thinking about Ann Mclean. Phoned and arranged to meet her. Paid Mrs McB 18/- (cheap) packed, took cycle to station. Saw Meg – very worried about her sister Issy – very ill. Called at home after lunch, and said goodbye.
Few showers during afternoon. Saw “Pride and Prejudice” again after many years. Walked up and down river bank by the Cathedral. At last she came in blue coat. Had tea at Playhouse.
(Note: Invernness 770, Ward 7 & 8, Nurse Ann Mclean)
She was strange, remote, so different from an English girl. Gave me a photo, very nice. Solemn in a way, but laughs nicely. Refused to acknowledge any blandishments. Told me I was “nobbut a loon to talk so”. Told her she was not pretty but good looking. Looked cynical.
Told her all about myself – why I was there etc. She was very sensible, made excellent and professional suggestions, but alas no good to me. Walked down to the Canal, then sat on a seat an hour under bright icy stars. Did all the talking. She saying “Och, it’s easy for yourself to talk this way when you’re 1000 miles from home. You’ll forget me in a week or maybe less.” Time sliding by like the gurgling black cold
Ness. Talked about sprites and water helpers, but
she laughed and said, “Ach mon, but I’m no Highlander to believe such
nonsense”. A lovely deep voice. Told me to stop thinking about stuffy old
At last goodbye at the hospital gate. Promised to write to her. Seemed to be pleased.
To station – crowded train. Felt very sick and miserable. Half an hour late in starting – why? (
change) Travelled with 2 RAF, one sailor
(MN), 1 WAAF, and a farmer who got out at Newtonmore.
Felt the train toiling up Drumochter and the free rattling down the other side.
5am. Not a drop of tea to be had.
Leven, yellow gold sky and a sharp shower of rain whipping across
the lake. Dunfermline
– people getting in to go to work at E. More at Inverkeithing. The Bridge – Grey Forth, with pale grey
destroyers moving slowly down. Drifting
smoke of N. Queensferry. In the carriage
2 RNVR men talking about ships and ports, landings on the Normandy coast etc. The little blonde WAAF fast asleep beneath
her overcoat. Gave me a drink of tea,
but still felt bad.
To Bruntisfield Links. Washed and went to sleep on sofa. Cold and aching. No lunch, but nice tea, and good Scotch broth for supper. Bed 10.30 after hot bath, but still aching terribly. Thinking about Ann.
Dull drizzle. Felt very much better, and made a good breakfast. Arranged to stay another night.
Down by the
and the old bagpiper, and at times an old tiny dirty bearded man playing a
jigging tune on an accordion.
Skuas and herring gulls of monstrous size, crying and shrieking, swooping down to pick bits out of the water, fighting over a bit of food, drifting sideways on the swift current, anchored on far side in calmer water like a flotilla of little white yachts.
Amazing number of high class confectioners in
packed with delicious chocolates which nobody can buy.
Daily Express today says large force of heavy bombers out over coast last night. News says only Mosquitos. Apparently no divers last night.
To cinema café – met Ann McLean [a nurse at Inverness Hospital]. Cinema, same show as last night. Out in teeming rain. Walked back to hospital. Arranged to see her again. Feel v. ill, though, better during day. Bitter cold.
Day overcast. Wonderful view across River. Bad night. Felt very bad. Went to Library almost came into a faint. Had to leave. Also practically nothing at breakfast, only a cup of coffee. Seem to have bad stomach though. No pain worth mentioning. Saw the cattle market, quite a lot of Highland Cattle, and a number of Highland-Shorthorn cross. Seemed fairly busy. Very conveniently situated against rail sidings.
Wrote to father. Must see Dr. L. again.
Went to cinema. Drank tea. Feel a little better tonight, but desperately lonely. See in Evening Express that more divers over last night. Gilbert & Sullivan on at
Aberdeen. Should like to see them.
Considerable number of gentlemen walking about in kilts and bonnets today.
Saw Exhibition of Contemporary Scottish Art at Town Hall – Rotten.
In Fraser’s saw several prints, McNab, Cock o' the North etc. all by Macbeth Raeburn. Also A J Munnings, 'The Meet', the figure in the painting looks very like Col. Blewitt. Beautiful
Inverness prints, but everything very expensive.
Noticed in cinema that news is Scottish Movie-Tone news.
Glorious sunny morning. Sun came creeping over the mountains straight into the window. The breakfast good. Left 10.30. Trees and gorse beginning to turn yellow, brown, grey. Wonderful colouring. To Carrbridge easily, magnificent arch of the ancient bridge still standing, a great semi-circle. Much forestry work along here mostly Newfoundlanders.
Saw the place where the fire was last year, near the Slochd. Then Tomatin, where I had left Meg MacDougall [wartime curator of Inverness Museum] last year, and so Slochd summit, then down swiftly easily pleasantly to Moy, the island burial ground never to be used again, still and silent in the water. Then Daviot, carting oats on little tumbrels, a girl loading, just below the church. Sound of machine gun firing away in the hills. Row of “fairy hills”, little tumuli near
Culloden Moor. Then far and deep blue was Moray
Firth. Long swift easy run
down to Culcaback, past King David’s well and so to Inverness. Surprised to find it on 2pm. Had v. expensive lunch of sausages for 2/6,
then to see Meg. Glad to see me, but
wanted to talk politics all the time.
Mad on Labour Party affairs. Yet
she has no despondency and looks forward eagerly. Heard that a Jerry had been shot down off the
Firth that morning, and that full blackout remains here.
Had tea, cinema for 2 hours then to ARP and Police station to see Meg on duty. Introduced to Insp. Chisholm. Heard that 3 Germans have escaped from a camp in N. Riding.
Got room through Mrs G. at top of high building in
Church St. Felt rather ill tonight.
NB Cinema Attendant aged 60, German wife gave birth at 51 about 2 yrs ago.
Glorious morning. No breakfast. Across Grampians. Managed to get a loaf at Edendon, from a very slatterly ill mannered young woman!
Sheep. Herd of goats near Dalwhinnie. Top of Drumochter down into Invernessshire. Got cup of tea at lorry drivers’ place towards Newtonmore. Tea bad. First place I saw open since leaving
over 60 miles back. By now just gone
Clouds but no rain. Saw mill working on Sabbath.
Sometimes saw nothing in an hour. Mountains a wonderful indigo.
Up late. Nice day. To Public Library. See in press another big diver raid “on a more southerly course” so perhaps missed
Colchester. The Reference library has a special closed room for ladies and special tables. Saw Perth histories. Sat by river, near site of Gourse house, 4
swans, masses of seagulls on an island below the bridge, like snowflakes, some
wheeling over calling, swans struggling upstream. Pleasant gardens on the N. bank. So quiet and peaceful.
Sirens tested at 1.30, while at lunch in Kirkgate.
Collected cycle, started to Dunkeld. Scenery getting more and more wild and lovely.
Bankfoot, tractor ploughing. No corn left out along here. Ugly little village. Dunkeld by 4.15, very easy run. Town looked terribly dilapidated, dirty, full of tinkers quarrelling and shouting. Went right on, spoke to pretty dark foreign girl coming out of a great park. Made for Pitlochry, sun coming through behind mountains. There 6.30, streets full, quite impossible to get food or drink at any hotel. Bars open, everyone drinking beer. Crowds of snobbish elderly men and women.
Up Killiecrankie, eagerly looking for tea, but not a sign. Great double headed trains, heading down to
London. Blair Atholl, very snobbish and
foreboding. Entrance to Castle with
beautiful gates. Asked at West Lodge for
Struan. Past the timber camps and right
up into the mountains.
Found hostel was in an ugly derelict church, in a big road leading to the mountains. 2 men and 2 girls, but not all one party, all from
Glasgow. High up in the Grampians, whispering sighing
trees, distant roaring water. To be away
from towns, alone. Of the little cottages
which I passed, I longed to live in one all the winter.
Tiny hamlets such as Bruar, a mere handful of cottages. Sat till 11.3pm0 talking to the girls. 2 more men arrived after midnight making a great noise, talking loudly in broad Scots. 3 cars came by long after midnight, lights flashing across the old church.
Hotel good and reasonable. Only charged 10/6 b&b. Pleasant room, could see swiftly flowing
Tay rushing by.
Soldiers marching along river bank, singing the “Q.M.’s Store”.
To library – read newspapers - divers over
Essex last night.
Saw in window Kent Herald map of divers in Kent. Made note on shells at Ramsgate and Maidstone. Many
ancient horses in this city – curious turret stairs. To Museum and . A pleasant building but
the labelling very bad. Hardly a picture
labelled at all. Little archaeological
material on view. Roman wall plaster
(painted) from near Dunkeld. Amenities
in the far North. Print by old Macbeth
Raeburn. Saw the Acting Director, Mr
Woods – has been no proper Director for years.
ARP have taken almost all the basement.
Local antiquities and archaeology closed. A good lecture hall. He was very kind – showed me round – gave me
book on Naural History of Perth, and a pamphlet on Perth maps. Good series of them recorded. Told me about Gowrie House – “demolished by the Government because of what happened there.”
Read in library for an hour.
Excellent books. Art Gallery
Evening to cinema etc. Talked to a girl – a few German planes even over
Perth. Street lights now are really wonderful. Walked till 11 admiring them, glow in sky
reflections in swift Tay.
Many good horses – carts painted with white edges and shaft points for night work. Horses used on the refuse wagons. Many 4-wheel and Scotch carts on new rubbers.
Lovely starlight night after sunny afternoon.
Left reluctantly. Left at
2.30. To Leith. Found
ferry no longer running. Cycled on to
Queensferry, over miles of terrible cobble road. Saw great school Fettes, and the city AA
guns. Went through Davidsons Mains,
delightfully named Burnt Island Main St.
and Quality St. Past a little old
and a mill to main road. Saw “Scotland
Neutral” painted in large white letters on a wall, now fading in weather. Crammond Bridge
Across ferry. Saw aircraft carrier at anchor off Rosyth. To Inverkerting. Dreadful, dreary. Took train to
church tower, very curious. Sent postcard to
father, tea in cinema. Street
lights on. Bought Ray Lancaster’s Essays.
Cowdenbeath, brilliant lights. How strange.
9.30pm. Went to Salutation, but no room, to
Royal George (patronised by Queen Victoria)
and got in at once. Street lights here
brilliant, reflecting on rushing Tay. Many noisy drunks about the streets.
Up very late. To Food Office. Lunch at Prestonfields again. Then to Craig Millar Castle – the most weird awful and terrifying ruin. Felt it as soon as I got inside the inner court, where the yew trees wave on the other side of the gate.
The dreadful dungeons, Earl of Marr etc. The Pole’s interesting descriptions. This is the only place I have ever felt in this way. Pole’s horror of deep dungeon.
Tea in basement room. Janet looking v. charming back from the theatre. Saw peacocks and peahens. Left these delightful people with great reluctance.
Tonight to theatre with all the Miss Biggams. Fine theatre, v. full. Gielgud and Yvonne Cernand, who had a terrible cold. Leslie Banks. First time I have ever seen really good players.
Back in moonlight and mist. Found cycle had been badly bent while chained to foot of stairs.
NB Edinburgh sweepers use old birch brooms in the streets.
After making the above diary notes for this day, Rudsdale wrote a more detailed account of his visit to Craigmillar Castle as follows:
We walked through the fields divided from Duddingston Loch by a railway yard, through the yard of a brewery, up a steep hill through a new housing estate, filled with blocks of tenement type, ugly, and rather badly built. This is the very edge of
with the farms beginning, and little woods on the hill tops. At the top of the hill is a farm, with
extensive stone buildings and a cottage by the gate. There was a strong smell of manure.
Behind the farm stood
, very tall, very gaunt, and
looking somehow very quiet. Nicolas went
to the cottage to get a key, and we walked across the grassy forecourt to the
main door. For no obvious reason I began
to feel strangely alarmed, and when the door creaked open, showing a quiet,
empty courtyard with two loathsome yew trees just inside the door, the sudden
thought came into my head – “I wouldn’t go in that place alone.” Craigmillar Castle
As we went in a pigeon rose up with a great flutter and sailed over the battlements out of sight. We were now in front of the grey keep, and on either side were blocks of roofless buildings, with blank, blind windows, very silent. N. led me round to the door of the keep, above which is a panel showing what he said was the arms of the Prestons. I believe the main motif is supposed to be a unicorn’s head, but on this panel weather and age had changed it to a horrible obscene shape of the most terrifying appearance.
We went in the doorway, into intense blackness, N. talking away like a gramophone, but little could I understand. I gathered though that the building is generally dated as 15th century, but that in his opinion is in part considerably earlier. I think I rather incline to agree with him, as the construction of the keep certainly looks to be very early work.
We had no torch, and the only light to illuminate the dark cavernous chambers and narrow winding stairs was provided by N’s petrol lighter. All this time I had the most extraordinary sensations. I felt that in every room Something was waiting, and that up each stairway Something was following us closely. Sometimes, through open windows I could hear the sound of men loading muck in the farm yard, and the rattle of machinery in a quarry about half mile away, but these sounds only seemed to emphasise the uncanny silence of the Castle itself. N’s voice, with his weird pronunciation, echoed in each chamber, the great hall, with its huge fireplace, the little chamber off it, hung with loathsome looking goat skins, the Queen’s room above.
Next he led me all over the roofs, one of which is still largely covered with the original stone tiles. We had (for me) a most unpleasant walk along the battlements, skipping over large openings in the parapet walk through which you could see the grass far below. The view was magnificent, but I was too busy preventing myself from slipping through holes or being blown off altogether to take very much notice of it. N. was shouting cheerfully “Me! I do not mind this! I am airborne commando in Polish Army!”
At last we got down to the ground again, and went through endless passages, rooms, kitchens, bedrooms etc. all dank and dark, till at last we went down to the lowest passage of all, with two frightful vaults, one on either side. The darkness was like sheets of stifling black velvet, and the silence was intense. Even N. spoke more quietly when he casually remarked “Now this is the room where I always expect something to happen to me,” and then said “A man’s body was found here some years ago.” I did not bother to ask whose body or how long it had been there. I was concentrating on remembering where the stairs were. It was down here the man was said to have been murdered. At last we got out and walked across the courtyard, between the two horrible yews with their low sweeping clutching branches, and the door banged hollow in the silence. I looked up to one of the windows on the E. wing, and my flesh crept gently as there seemed to be a head level with the sill. It was so lifelike that I was about to mention it when it turned into a pigeon and flew out.
N. was not finished yet, but led me through another court, on the W. side of the keep, and climbed down a rock face on the S. side. From there we saw the full height of the vast keep, towering up floor after floor, so grey, so silent and sinister. N. pointed out an arrowslot window, almost level with the top of the rock face, which he said led into a room for which he could not account – apparently, according to his measurements there is a discrepancy of 8 feet, which must be taken up by a small room at this point, as all other chambers on that side are accessible and accounted for. Somehow even the idea of a secret room containing God knows what did not add very much to the general discomfort and uncanniness of the place.
Back to Prestonfield for tea, which we had in a big light room in the basement. Mentioned my impression of Craigmillar and found that both Mrs D-C and Janet agreed. Talk about ghosts at Prestonfields, where Lady Janet is sometimes seen on the stairs, and on other occasions footsteps are heard going up a stairway destroyed in the fire. But these stories seemed mild and harmless in the firelight.
Lovely day. To Lanark to see Horse Sale. Train
10.30 Princes St. Pretty redhaired Scots girl, extraordinarily
like Mary Queen of Scots to look at.
Showed me the 'Daily Express' – admission that Maidstone
was shelled. See no
reason why shells should not have fallen in SW Essex, or even as far as
Maldon. Alleged that Heinkel aerodromes have
Changed at Carstairs. Lanark a curious town, v. ugly but remote from war. Wonderful market. Big sale. Great crowds – 10,000? Quite 1,000 motor cars. Superb Clydesdales, about 30 Percherons or Percherons. cross. A lovely grey, 5 yeas old, made 67gns. The owners lead in their own horses. Vast buildings, yards, etc. Great murmur of Scotch. Women's Land Army girls, Italians, etc. horses staked out in 2 fields. Bitter wind, blue sky, fleecy clouds. Saw old Kirk – Interestingly dedicated to St Kentigern of
Wales. Only the S. Aisle remains with Early English
Arcade and lancet windows in S. wall.
Several early and interesting tombstones, and in a large vaulted tomb
built into S. wall, with entrance from the church, a very early stone as
Coat of Arms in middle, set upon side.
Young Scotch lad came in
Curious building like a barn with a monument in it - a tombstone of Lockhard.
Dull little town. Wide
High St, nearly all modern fronts. One building with turnpike stairs, church
with statue of John Knox?
Clydesdale Hotel, formerly New Inn, notice to say the Wordsworths stayed there in 1803.
To Dr L by the Links. Long intimate talk, never done before. Felt very bad. Certificate for 2 weeks. Bed 10.30. Wrote to Capt. Folkard.
Up early after a very good night. Grey haze over the Links, and after breakfast three elderly men were playing golf just below the windows of the flat.
Went down to the Physicians’ Library again, and spent a couple of very pleasant hours there. The work on calotypes is excellent, and gives a lot of interesting details about early photography in
Scotland. The illustrations are superb, and are stated
to be “selected from Andrew Eliot’s collection.” Should much like to know where this is.
Sent a postcard to Father, and as I was walking into the Post Office it suddenly occurred to me to see if Mrs Dick-Cunyingham was still in Edinburgh, so looked in the telephone directory and found that she was – Prestonfields House, Edinburgh. Went to the nearest call-box, and in a couple of minutes found myself speaking to her. Knew her voice at once, although nine years since I saw her, yet she remembered me, too, or at least said she did. She asked me to go to lunch, so I did.
Although realising that she would no doubt be living in a house of good class and distinction, I was considerably taken aback to find that Prestonfields is a fine late 17th century mansion of grey stone, with tall gables in the Scottish style, and a columned porch, lying in a park just below Salisbury Crags, towards Duddington. Felt acutely conscious of my shabby clothes, and very badly in need of a hair cut.
There is now a mass of modern houses right up to the park gates, but the trees form an efficient screen to a large degree. The first person I saw was Janet, dark and lovely as ever. She is married, and her husband (whose name I did not learn) is an officer serving in
Holland. Yet the only sign of anxiety she showed was
to remark casually: “No letter from my wretched husband today”, while she must
be nearly mad with worry.
Mrs Dick-Cunyingham made me most welcome. The house is magnificent, and I felt most embarrassed to find that it appeared to be full of guests, but Mrs. D-C, chuckling with delight, whispered that all these people were really “lodgers”, and it was only in this way that she could keep the house going. Every room is full of lovely furniture, and the walls hung with Raeburns, a Richard Wilson, David Cox, etc. We ate in the huge circular dining room, helping ourselves from a central table. There were 14 or 15 present, sitting at separate tables in groups of 3 or 4. I sat with Mrs D-C, Janet, a young Polish architect called Nicolas Ostoja-Yankowski, from
and two elderly ladies, being introduced as “an archaeologist from ”.
Yankowski is apparently doing work for the Scottish National Building
Record, under Lord Bute. He seems a very
pleasant fellow, and most talkative, but though very fluent in English he has
an unfortunate habit of putting the accents on the wrong syllables, so that it
is most difficult to understand him. Colchester Museum
The lunch was excellent, and the conversations pleasant. Several people seemed to know Essex, and the elderly grey-haired lady next to me asked if I knew Layer Marney Hall, and said she was a friend of the
We talked and I told her about the sad sate of the church. She said she was sure that dear Dr Campbell would have no idea how bad the place was.
I made no comment, though strongly tempted.
There seemed to be unlimited quantities of butter and cream, and great bowls of sugar on every table. Noticed a herd of cows in the Park when I came in, so suppose they make their own. After lunch we had coffee in the front parlour, before I was shown over the house, and Janet told me that it was in this very room that Boswell and Johnson took coffee. That would be, I suppose, in November 1773, almost exactly 171 years ago, when Dr Johnson dined at Sir Alexander Dick’s. The room is very fine, with panelling, and is pleasantly furnished with both ancient and modern furniture, dogs lieing on the rugs or in baskets, etc. Mrs D-C said that Benjamin Franklin also stayed in the house, and is reported to have said that it was the only place in
where there were no bugs in the beds.
Next I was shown all over the home by Yankowski, who has done a very thorough survey of it and has produced some very beautiful plans and drawings. The bulk of the place as it stands was built in 1687, to replace the former building burnt by the
Edinburgh College boys, who considered that Lord Provost Dick had offended them by
entertaining the Duke of York. From what
Yankowski showed me it is clear that a good deal of this first building still
remains, incorporated in the later.
Unfortunately I understood little of what he said, and that with
Almost every room has some special and interesting feature – one has a painted ceiling and tapestry hung walls, another has its walls covered with sheets of embossed red leather, while the little “Cupid” room at the top of the house has a wonderful moulded plaster ceiling, there being a cupid, the size of a two year old child, hanging from an iron rod in the centre. According to Yankowski, this was originally the top of the stair-well in the early house. The decoration certainly appears to be earlier than Charles II’s time. It is now used as a bedroom, and must be a queer place to sleep in, with this Cupid hanging down over the bed.
In the Tapestry Room they have a small portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots, which is said to be contemporary.
Before I left they told me of the ghosts – the Lady Janet who is seen on the stone stairs, and the invisible foot that can be heard walking up a stair case long since taken away.
Went out to see the huge circular stables, now all empty and the courtyard grass-grown. For some peculiar reason they have a sort of tea-blending warehouse in one of the harness rooms. Janet seems to run it.
They were all very insistent that should see
, not far from
Duddingston, so I arranged to ‘phone Yankowski and arrange a time. Craig Millar
Janet brought me back to the city in her little ramshackle green car, full of game and rabbits, which she delivered to a flesher’s somewhere near Cowgate. These were apparently killed by some of the people living at Prestonfields. I left her near the
Scott Monument, had a cup of tea at a milk bar, and then
walked down towards Leith, down Pitt Street, to the
“Water of Leith”, a clear little brook babbling along over rocks, and along Wariston Road to Broughton Road and Bonnington Road. (The street names are a great delight – Logie
Green Road, Comely Bank, and, best of all, Bonnyblink Road). Saw one of Leith Corporation Yards, with a
lot of horse-drawn refuse-carts going in.
Both horses and motors are used.
Curious to see what a lot of coal-carting is still done in tumbrels, no
doubt on account of steep hills.
Then along Bonnington Road, past endless high grey tenements, under railways, past breweries, crossing other roads which seemed run into grey infinities on either side. Crowds of screaming children, and roaring, clanging trams, and horse-lorries clattering homewards over cobbles. So to
Gt. Junction Street, full of shops,
warehouses and churches, over a bridge spanning the “Water of Leith”, now a
turbulent muddy stream, with a little boat-yard on its shore. At the corner by the Commercial Road, opposite the
Scandanavian Lutheran Kirk, is a great block of tenements in ruins, destroyed
by bombs, but that is all the damage to be seen. Walked along by the dock-gates, past the
Custom House, and across the . Caught a tram back to the city along Leith
Walk, an enormously wide street, with an endless procession of railway drays
going back to the stables, and crowds of men and girls hurrying home from work. Harbour
Picked up a 27 tram near the Library, and so back to a very pleasant supper at Glengyle Terrace. Cloudy tonight, and the moon invisible. Talked to Dora about seeing a doctor, and she advised their own man, Dr. L. on the other side of the Links.
Sunny morning, with a pale blue mist across the Meadows and Links. A very strange and horrible nightmare last night – there was a woman, young and very blonde, with no hands. The dream seemed to go on for a very long time.
Spent the morning reading and writing, and wondering what to do next. Wrote to Father, to tell him where I am.
This afternoon Dora took me to see the Library of the College of Physicians in
Queen Street. The building is very stately, on classical
lines, just 100 years old, and is furnished in a heavy, magnificent style, very
dark and sombre. The library is
excellent, containing not only medical books but works on history and
topography also. The most interesting to
me is a rare work on early calotypes, by D.O. Hill and R. Adamson, which was
produced in a very limited edition of 38 copies only. It is beautifully done, with superb
illustrations, and I arranged to go again tomorrow to examine it more
Back to Glengyle Terrace on the tram. Saw great crowds by the National Gallery around the orators, very much the same as in
Park. Prince’s Street very
full, people strolling up and down in the sunshine. Only about two cinemas are open on Sundays,
and the YMCA and service clubs. All the
cafés are shut.
This evening we were talking about
and I was shocked to hear that there are proposals on foot to build temporary
houses on Bruntisfield Links and the Meadows.
Yet all the time the Lord Provost, Sir William Darling, is shouting out
loud his determination to preserve the beauty of the city.
The people in the Bruntisfield district are quite naturally furious at this catastrophic suggestion, the Biggams and a Mrs Paterson on the same stair are getting up a petition to the City Council. We talked on this, and I advised getting further details before plunging in.
Ethel went to her sister’s at the Braids for supper, and I was alone with Dora for a couple of hours. Tried to bring myself to talk about doctors but could not. Felt very weak all day, and a walk of a quarter of an hour completely exhausts me. Have slept eight or nine hours these last few nights, but much disturbed by dreams and nightmares. The sound of the trams coming up from
Lothian Road is
very much like a distant siren.
How kind these people are. A little over a year ago they had never heard of me. Interesting speculations on fate, considering the train of events which led me here – if I had not gone to
Stratford that August
night, I should never have met Jacqui Conran and never have heard of the Biggams. Why did I go to Stratford then? I had not seen Ida Hughes-Stanton for months and had no
particular desire to do so. Had I not gone to Stratford, where should I be now at this
Tonight the church bells are ringing out over the city, and it is almost dark at 7 o’clock. Three hundred miles away, at Fox One, [the Royal Observer Corps Post] they are wondering whether the divers will be over before 9 o’clock or not. Even here my heart contracts, stops, and races at the sudden sound of engine whistles or the trams at Tollcross.