EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

23rd October 1944 - Edinburgh

Monday
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 showing Japan 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 me. 

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 Hadrian’s Wall.


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 Lancashire 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.

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