EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

30th November 1944

Thursday
Up at 8.  Dull, glass back a little.  Feel still as if I were in hiding, and when in the town crept about the back streets like a criminal.  Went into the Park, sat in the shelter in Holly Trees Field and wrote some letters.  No one came near except Taylor the Park policeman, who came and stared at me rather hard but did not speak.

Went home to tea.  Stayed until 6, quite unable to settle down in the place – Mother’s chair, her work-box etc. and always the straining ears.  Went up to Holly Trees to see Poulter.  Moon just rising, full and glorious, so felt it unlikely there would be any “divers” until much later.  Went right upstairs at Holly Trees, and found the old man sitting on the sofa.  Without a word of greeting he handed me the book he was reading and said “That’s very good.  You ought to read it.”  It was “The Battle of Britain in the Fifth Century”.

We talked for 4 hours.  He told me all that had happened in the last 2 months.  Hull was in London tonight, being admitted F.S.A.  My God, what would Doctor Laver have said?

Smallwood’s death is a disaster to the Museum.  His place has been taken by H.H. Fisher.  Poulter says Miss Elfreda Saunders now has a lot to say at Committee meetings.

Old Mrs Lyon Campbell, still going strong, is selling the Doctor’s house in St Clare Drive during the next few weeks, and the contents are to be auctioned.  Sam Blomfield intends to buy all the Bale drawings.  The books are to go to London, on Poulter’s advice.

Hull seems to have lost all trace of the Castle MSS and Gray’s notebook, which I got from Colonel Round.  There is no sign of any of them.  Poulter says they are believed to have been lent to somebody, but no one knows who.  Blaxill, Blomfield, and Duncan Clark seem to have had some of them at various times after the September meeting.  Our Committee Clark, Hervey, has gone to be deputy to Brown, and young Reg Brown, back from the RAF, has taken over the Museum work.

Poulter thinks that Fisher will be the next Chairman – says Sam is getting very old and feeble.  Asked him – what about my coming back?  He told me it was entirely up to me, and that neither Sam nor Hull will make any move on my behalf.  All my gloomiest prophecies are coming true.

Poulter told me that some time ago a gentleman called, an Irishman, who claimed he was lineal descendant from Eudo Dapifer.  Poulter let him go without even asking for further details!

This afternoon met Diana at the top of the town.  She was delighted to see me, very sweet and friendly.  


Back to Boxted under the brilliant moon, and no raids.

29th November 1944 - Colchester

Wednesday
Up late, and did not get away until 9.30.  Miss Bentley showed no surprise whatever.  A lovely day, bright sunshine, thousands of ‘planes going out.  Cycled in very slowly, guilt personified, going around the back steets. Went to the Repertory Workshops, but Diana was not there.  Walked round by Stockwell Street, only to run into Mrs. Folkard, just outside St. Martin’s House.  What on earth she was doing there I can't imagine, nor what possessed me to go up that particular street at all.  She looked pale and ill, and stared at me almost uncomprehendingly. Felt quite stupid, and said feebly “Why, it is Mrs. Folkard, isn’t it?”  She asked me how I was, with a slow, curious smile.  I said I was better, and asked if it was true that all her windows had been blown in?  She said yes, all the windows and a ceiling down, but it might have been worse, and they were thankful to be alive.  Made some vague but appropriate reply, and she walked on.  Felt an utter fool, and realised that I had not even spoken of Capt. Folkard at all.

Went down to Bourne Mill, which looked very sad and desolate.  Read some letters, and ate blackberries, deliciously ripe.  Called at home and dear Father welcomed me calmly and pleasantly. Told him nothing about health.  Stayed for lunch, Miss Payne talking all the time.  Spent the afternoon in my room, sorting books and papers.  Left before tea, and went up town.  Saw the lights on in the streets – bringing memories of 1939.  Fine evening, the moon nearly full.  Had a meal at Winnie’s, and then went up to Lexden Road to see old Peck with a message from Uncle Jim.  Never met him before, a dear old man.  He told me about his boyhood in Colchester 70 years ago when he and Uncle Jim were boys together.  He has memories of the Franco-Prussian War, reading the papers, and hearing people talk about the war and the battles.  Stayed there an hour or so, talking to the old man and Miss Peck.  Remember her from the days of teas in the Head Street café.

Went out to Boxted, and called at Lt. Rivers.  Talked about my going back to the Museum, but feel so bad I don't think I can face it.  I must go and see Poulter, and the War Agricultural Committee.  Am quite terrified of the prospect of having to talk to Capt. Folkard.

27 - 28th November 1944 - Shurlock Row to Colchester

Monday
Fine and cold.  Said farewell to Margery, Uncle Jim and the Land Army Girl and left on my cycle, with great reluctance at 10.30.  Oak Corner, past Gt Martins, Beenham Heath, Hawthorn Hill, The “Royal Forester” land very wet. Training planes about.  Big searchlight camp.  Turn left Folijon Park, up to Fifield, then right Oxley Green, Dedworth.  House windows being repaired from some recent bomb, glaziers drinking tea at a mobile canteen.

Windsor 11.30, very crowded.  Felt as if it was my frontier town and longed to go no further.  Eton, right by Dutchman’s Farm along low road to Datchet (Bucks).  Through the village, by Ditton Park.  Many modern villas here, some with massive shelters, some with none.  No sign of damage.

Bath Road at Langley, across to Horsemoor Green, (United Dairies horse here), the same road I took with Bob on our return from the Royal Windsor Show in 1939.  Langley full of RAF, and planes roaring on an aerodrome nearby.  Through large orchards, old trees, grass sown, every other tree now being torn out by tractors.  Met a muck cart with tandem.

Shuding Green, Iver charming little village still.  Extraordinary deep rural character of country, yet only 3 miles.  Uxbridge.

Glorious house by the bridge over Colne, brick, c,1740, with magnificent iron railings and gate in front.  Very narrow bridge, probably contemporary.

By Huntsmoor Park, cows grazing, and so to Cowley.  Over streams and canal to Uxbridge – Yewsley Road and into Middlesex.  A house destroyed, many windows broken, some now being repaired, but no serious damage along here.  So to Uxbridge.  Signposts very bad, but what there were indicated the delights far away – High Wycombe, Oxford.  Almost turned back.  Decided not to face London but to head for Bishops Stortford and to take train there.  Went by Ickenham to Ruislip.  Huge RAF camps and dumps, and thousands of WAAFs.  That air of London reaching out into the country – public lavatories in a lane, stations, ARP notices etc.

Ruislip, ate sandwiches in a shelter.  On at 2, towards Pinner and Stanmore.  Huge houses, some Army, some RAF, schools, Hatch End.  Crossed road from Wealdstone, where I met the phone girl from Watford years ago to walk to Grimsdyke.

St to Stanmore, remember coming here one night on way to Daven Soar’s, - walking over golf course.  London 11 miles.  Hazy.  Could hear faint distant explosions.  North to Elstree, over high hill.  Aldenham Reservoir on the left, shining in afternoon sun.  Next to Chipping Barnet, only 4 miles on.  Through Arkley across few miles of Herts. Up and down hills, farmland, cows, autumn trees, to Barnet.  Saw the 18th cent. houses which were bombed in 1940 and so excellently restored.

Town very crowded.  Bought battery and a rear lamp.  Had tea at an Ex Dairy on Finchley Rd at 4pm.  Sun sinking below houses.

Through New Barnet to Cockfosters.  Considerable damage by Cat Hill, houses down, some unroofed, many smashed windows.  Glaziers and builders busy.  Still hear explosions towards London.

Schoolchildren running home from school.  Back into Middlesex and on to Enfield, just on 5.  Crowds of girls coming out of factories.  Uncertain what to do.  Moon rising.  Decided to make for Chelmsford, as I had done once before, so down to Ponders End, across lea into Essex, by King George Reservoir.  AA guns mounted on its edge, so to Chingford Green and the Forest.  Cold, banks of mist.  Felt no tiredness.

Broken windows common at Ponder's End. (By the Hunting Lodge).  On through Forest, weird, gloomy, wet, great craters by side of road, moon glittering on water in them, like lunar landscape themselves.  Thought I once heard sirens but no.  Road to Epping seemed endless, but at last the 6 miles were done, and ran into wide street, London buses, etc.  Very narrow escape – ran over nail, which stuck in tyre yet did not penetrate.  No lights here.  Turned off.  Debated whether to head to Bishops Stortford (12 miles) or Chelmsford (18 miles).  Decided Chelmsford.  Perhaps no trains at Bishops Stortford.

Saw 2 strange lights in sky, low down.  Thought for a moment they were divers, but turned out to be lights on the North Weald masts.  As got nearer, saw every mast lit.  Aerodrome guide lights, but rest dark.  Searchlight upright.  RAF and WAAFs going to dance, walking and cycling.

To Chipping Ongar.  Felt panic.  Decided not Chelmsford, but to go to Dunmow.  Turned north through Shelley and Fyfield.  Silent nights, no traffic, nobody.  Up through Rodings, in a moonlit landscape. 

Went in the Merry Fiddler’s at Leaden Roding.  No cider, had half pint beer.  5 labourers in bar, talking of war –

“Many more men being trained no sign of end yet.”
“Hear that one last night?  Chelmsford way, I reckon.”
“His son’s coming home?  Lucky bugger.”

Stared curiously at me.  Gave one evening paper.  Felt absurdly embarrassed and guilty.  Outside, elderly man in trouble with rear light.  He was going to Sawbridgeworth, very worried.   

Going through long street of High Roding as 9 news began.  Very worried because so late, but stopped to eat slice of iced cake Margery had put in my bag and a sausage roll.  Still no feeling of tiredness.

At last main road.  Thought there was a lane opposite, but none, only wet track.  Into Dunmow, shrieks of pig at bacon factory.  Main road to Colchester – felt I was “home”.  To Lt. Dunmow seemed very far.  Moon now clouding over.

2 rockets fell loudly. Moon now very clouded, wind banking to SW.

Rayne, then Braintree.  A few street lamps, gas.  Felt homesick for Edinburgh.  RAF men looking for Weathersfield.  Coggeshall seemed to come in no time.  Drank at the well ate another sandwich.   At Broad Green went into one of Warren’s fields and sat on new threshed straw 10 mins, and finished food.  Creepings and noises too much for me though.  Past Godbolts, over railway.  Prayed for no divers, as so many fall near here.

Turned down by station to Aldham, to Halstead Rd.  Rain beginning, but behind me.  Across Fordham Heath, through the Battery there, huge guns lights in tents, down to New Mill, few yards of Colchester territory up to West Bergholt to Westwood, rain very hard now, by Pitsbury Coach Road and so to Woodside.  Could not get in.  Legs wet, arms wet.  Lay on sacks for perhaps half an hour.  Rain worse and worse.  Suddenly heard Mosquito going over, then 2 lights came on waving jerking.  Thought “Divers?”  Could stand no more and decided to go to Dedham, got there in time for breakfast.  Walked a mile.  Find we have no guns up near the Cross.  Dawn.  Saw a light here and there downstairs, as if people stirring, but Dedham in darkness.  Moon going down.  Went on to Joy’s at Lawford.  Lay on straw wet through.  Moon gone, daylight no come.  Filthy, vile misery.  At last  a light in the kitchen.  Knocked.  Joy not surprised.

Breakfast, but only 6.45!  Got clothes dry.  Felt a little tired.  Must have done about 114 miles in about 20 hours.






26th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Sunday
Brilliant dawn, cold, with a sharp white frost.  Land Army Girl's birthday – 23.  She went off to milk and then came in to unwrap her presents – nearly a pound of chocolate which her family had sent her.  Beef for lunch, Uncle saying the usual grace, which he only does at Sunday lunch.

This afternoon sent Pa a postcard – drew this house on a white card, and wrote “Love from Shurlock. Row”.   

Came on to rain about tea time.  About 5, in the wet dusk, saw and heard a woodpecker on one of the elms at the bottom of the garden.

Bush, the schoolmaster came in after church.  Said he had seen me at the Royal Show.  Talked cheerfully of the war – thinks it will be “over by Christmas”.  Yet Germans holding firm everywhere.

Grand tea for Land Army Girl – Margery made an excellent cake, iced and all.  As I was eating suddenly got a dull aching pain over the whole area of my back, quite frightening.  Went in a few minutes.

Preparing to go home tomorrow.

25th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Saturday
Brilliant day, but cold.  Did some writing, then set off to Tywford for Margery to buy a book token for Land Army Girl's birthday gift.   

Went on to Reading.  Reading Market shut yesterday – Foot and Mouth at Sonning and more in Warwickshire.  Very serious outbreak this winter.

For the last 2 mornings have had an unpleasant aching pain under the lower ribs on the right side, but it gives off on movement.

Had tea at the cinema café – enormous crowds everywhere.  Came on to rain very suddenly, and the wet streets full of people scampering for shelter.  A big flight of Forts. came over form the NE, flying very low in the rain, landing lights glowing. 

Looked into the Abbey Ruins, now almost completely covered with dirty ivy, and looking dreadfully desolate and dreary on this November afternoon. Air raid shelters have been dug all over the centre of the ruins and should have been most valuable from an archaeological point of view.

Left at 5, having failed to get any cakes for Margery.  Cycled quickly with a following wind, meeting a few stray Forts rumbling through the low drifting clouds.  Heavy traffic.  Got to Shurlock Row at quarter to 6, just in time for another tea.  Spent evening reading Thackeray.

Bright moonlight, and a lot of planes coming and going.

24th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Friday
Dull, drizzle, but soon cleared off.  News headline in 'The Express' this morning “Strasbourg Freed”.  Uncle Jim said, “Seems strange to read about Strasbourg again.  I remember how we used to read about its bombardment in 1870.”

Lorries going up and down the manor drive all day – the naval agricultural camp is closing this week. 

Talking to Margery about village halls.  The old school here having been bought by the village, it is available for whist drives, dances, meeting etc. at 2/6 an hour with light and heat or 1/6 per hour without.  It is a dreadful dreary little place, the upper part of the walls a dirty cream, and the lower dark chocolate.  No attempt is made to make it attractive.  The local library (books supplied by County Library) is housed in a tall black cupboard.

A few years ago a builder living at the other end of the parish decided to build what is more or less a “community centre” on the lines now advocated, with a large hall, a bar, refreshment facilities, kitchen and even a swimming-pool.  This he did at his own expense, and hires out to all and sundry as a business proposition.  The first indication of the attitude towards this public spirited scheme was the refusal of the authorities to allow him to take water form the mains to fill the bath.  This he overcame by turning a small stream into the bath.

Next, the attitude of the villages was one of wrath, and indignation, as they considered it most unreasonable that this man should be “allowed” to open a hall in competition with the existing hall (re: - the old schoolroom).  The bath is popular with people from over a fairly wide area, who during the summer come over on cycles or in cars, while the village people ignore the whole thing.  The hall is used for dances, especially in connection with the aerodrome nearby, and also by some village festivities such as whist drives.  It seems interesting to record these points in view of the fantastic proposals now put forward for Youth Centres etc.

Every day the papers speak of more disasters caused by flying bombs or rockets.

Fine and cooler.  Moon tonight.

23rd November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Thursday
Drizzle, but warm soft wind.  Went into Maidenhead to get new ration card.  Cycled along slowly, went down to Waltham St Lawrence village, saw the old pound, presented to the parish by Lord Braybrooke, 1937, now rapidly falling into decay.  At each corner is a massive ancient oak, one of which has now collapsed into an empty blackened shell.

The great yew by the Lych-gate is still flourishing now only a few months short of 290 years old.  This living tree has seen every christening, marriage and burial in the parish for nearly 12 generations.  A tree that has seen so much joy and suffering must surely be different to other trees.  Went on through the pleasant park-like lands of Shottesbroke.  Water lies everywhere, on grass and arable, every ditch full and running.  This land is all very level and bad to drain.  Leaves falling slowly and gently thickly, like black snowflakes.  Lovely autumn day.

Decided to go along to the Thicket, so turned off at Heywood park and saw a plane trundling across the road from the aerodrome to its standing on the other side.

The Thicket looked very desolate and wet.  The unfinished road works deep in water.  Seems most unfortunate to have begun this new road, destroying so much of the trees and shrubberies, when the same result could have been achieved by widening the existing Henley Road.

Went along the Bath Road into the town.  To the Library – papers still talking about “advances into Germany”, but according to the maps published the fronts are stationary, the Germans holding the full force of the British, American and Russian attacks.  If they can continue to hold, no-one can foresee what frightful disasters will overtake this country next spring (or even before).

Changed my ration card.  Strange how the Food Office are apparently prepared to do this time after time, and ask no questions.  It would seem that to be in the possession of a ration book at all absolves one from all suspicion of criminal intentions.

Everybody was hurrying about as the shops (and Library) prepared to shut for the day at 1 o’clock, so decided to go to Slough.  Tremendous amount of traffic on the Bath Road.  At Taplow the stacks of barbed wire are literally higher than the nearby houses.  At Cippenham saw a bus load of Catholic schoolgirls all dressed in grey, with 5 black gowned nuns, going into the Commodore Cinema to see the film “Song of Bernadette”.

At Slough saw a black-smiths just at the beginning of the main street, a large prosperous looking shop, no doubt a relic of coaching times.  Quite a lot of horses and ponies in Slough, whereas in Maidenhead there seems to be only a few scruffy ponies.  Yet both towns are flat, well laid out, and very suitable for horse traffic.  (NB – notes should be prepared of the suitability and actual use of horses in various towns).

Not far from the smith’s is a bomb-ruined house, and in the main street Woolworth’s is burnt out, although the lower part is repaired and in use.  Bought some cakes and apples for Margery.  Went into the Granada Cinema Café in Eton Road to get lunch, but could get no service from the rude pert little waitresses so came out again after quarter of an hour and went along to Eton.  The damage at the college is worse that I thought – a whole block burnt out, right up to the main gateway.  Wonder if it will ever be rebuilt.  The shelters on the opposite side of the road, which I saw being built nearly 6 years ago are now grass covered and settled down as if they intend to be part of the landscape for years to come, as no doubt they will be.  Eton boys, some in short jackets, some in tails, some bare-headed, some wearing toppers, were running in and out of the buildings and crossing the road with books under their arms.  The clock struck two.

The huge bulk of the Castle, the battlemented walls, the Curfew Tower, came into view across the river, just as it always was.  Somehow Windsor looks better, nicer, more pleasant that I had thought.  Went down to the river side, and watched the fast muddy stream swirling by down to London.  Some 30 swans, many this year’s signets, drifted down or held themselves against the current, and when I threw bits of bun amongst them they scrambled madly, with a flock of gulls joining in overhead and even sparrows twittering on the shore, hopeful for a few crumbs.

Wandered along past a row of bombed cottages near the railway bridge, and so up to the Castle, which is now closed.  Noticed that the “Nell Gwynne house” controversy seems to be ended – one half now claims to be “Nell Gwynne” and the other half has adopted the title “King’s Head Café” with a sign board showing Charles II.  The plaque on the house states “1640 Nell Gwynne lived here" or words to that effect.  Actually she was not born in 1640, and if it refers to the house I am afraid I must disagree there also – I’m sure the place was not built before 1670.

The Old “Market House” is still leaning over at a fantastic angle.  Went by the Royal Mews Gate, and could hear the clanging of a blacksmith’s hammer in the stable yard.

Fine and sunny afternoon.  Walked to the Park Gate and looked along the Long Walk, covered with orange and brown leaves, shining in the autumn sun.  Distant firing on a rifle range.

Walked back in the town and found a cinema advertising “Charlie Chaplin Films”.  Went in and saw three – “The Adventure”, “The Cure” and “Easy Street”.  Nostaligic.  These films are now historical.  Remembered as a child of 7 or 8 seeing “The Cure”.  Next to me was a little girl of about 8, yelling with laughter at the antics of people 30 years ago.

It becomes less and less of a pleasure to go to cinemas.  No matter how good the film is, the audience chatter and shuffle, walk in and out as they please, the attendants laugh and talk together loudly, leaving doors open with the wind sweeping in.  The sound apparatus is badly adjusted and roars, bellows and distorts.  I cannot understand why it is impossible to have small select cinemas, to which the audience is admitted at stated times only, where there is a good orchestra, well mannered ushers and only the best films.  If they charged 5/- a seat it would be worth it.

Came out into the moonlight dusky streets, got a cup of tea at a snack-bar at the foot of the Castle Hill.  The crescent moon hung low over the dark battlements, cloud-rack scudding across, and the Curfew Clock rang and chimed at 6 o’clock.

Cycled off along the Maidenhead Road, scurrying along because of no rear light.  Turned off at Holyport, past the Riding School, the same as when I came nearly 6 years ago, [for the Royal Windsor Show] the day I went to Winkfield for the thatcher. 

Water gurgled in the brooks, trees whispered, moon shone through thin drifting clouds.  Only one or two planes about.  Heard a clock strike 7, and found it was White Waltham.  Near Shurlock Row a row of slim ash trees, with fine lace-like heads, silhouetted against the moon.  The sound of distant trains, a barking dog, geese cackling.

Felt rather tired.  Bed 10.30. 

22nd November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Wednesday
'Essex County Standard' arrived today – last week of course.  They appear to have had divers over the town on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning the 14th and 15th  November, when the sirens sounded here, and on the Friday before, the 10th.  No damage done.

Canon Curling is dead.  Another loss to local archaeology.  He did little for the Museum during the last 25 years, but he had produced some useful papers in his time.  He had only just been elected President of the Essex Archaeological Society for this year, and I believe he actually held the title of Honorary Curator to the Museum, although he never did anything in that connection.

Still a lot of talk about sirens, shelters and so on and efforts to get some lights in Colchester. Interesting case of a young fellow aged 20, lives in Irvine Road, sentenced to 3 months by Percy Sanders for leaving his work in the Cornish tin mines.  Claims with great sense and justification that he refuses to have anything further to do with the war.  Sanders sentenced him to 3 months “to give him time to reflect”.

A lot more rubbish about  “Youth Centres, “Community Centres” etc.  Hervey Benham is quite insane on this subject.  Also gives an article on housing, in which he claims, more reasonably than most talkers on the subject, that 500 families or married couples in Colchester. need new houses.  Councillor GP very worked up about the enormous difficulties in getting these built, but of course forgets to say (if he ever knew) that at the outbreak of war there were over 600 empty houses in the Borough.  Many of these are now “occupied” by army (although actual vacant) and will eventually be de-requisitioned.

See from a short paragraph that Leslie [formerly Executive Officer of the Essex War Agricultural Executive at Writtle] is now going to Edmundson’s Electricity Corporation as “Agricultural Adviser”.  Sounds rather a come down.  Some thought he would go into the Ministry.

Another letter urges that the New Public Library shall be put to its proper uses as soon as possible, suggesting that it is high time that the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Food should be invited to go.  Hervey Benham mentions it in his notes, and while cautiously admitting that we must not expect these Ministries to clear out the day that peace is declared they should at least be packing their bags.  Was there ever such fantasy?  Does no one bother to read papers or use common sense?  True the Government talk loudly of demobilisation plans, but this is only for propaganda purposes.  Moreover, even in their most optimistic prophesies they say that it is unlikely that there will be any demobs in 1945, and that the majority of the army in Europe will have to go East, after leave if possible.  The Far East war is not likely to end before 1947 or 48, and during the whole of that time men up to 25 will still be called up.  How then can anyone imagine that the Manpower Board will be moving out in less than another 3 years?  As for the food people, after the last war rationing continued until 1920, so that on the same basis, if the German war can be concluded by the beginning of 1946, which is extremely doubtful, the whole rationing organisation will be kept on until at least the end of 1947.  If anybody imagines that the Labour or Food people, having spent 5 years in the warmth and comfort of a large modern building, the best in the town, are now going to turn out into less convenient quarters for the next 2, 3 or even 4 years they are sadly mistaken, and it is sheer nonsense to talk about it.  In 1940 I suggested to Hervey Benham that pressure should be brought to open the new Library, which would have been a great gesture at such a time, but he was apathetic and old Sir W Gurney Benham came down strongly against such a proposal.  Within a short time the Ministry of Labour requisitioned most of the building.

Suddenly decided to go over to Wokingham, where I had never been.  Went along the mile.  Saw four young gypsies, 3 girls and a youth of 17 or 18, gathered round a little London type green grocery cart, with a smart chestnut cob in the shafts, much silver mounting on the harness, eating sandwiches and apples.  The youth called out as I cycled by “Know the right time, govnor?” so I shouted “just gone 2.”

Pair of shires ploughing in a field near the end of the mile.  The land here looks very trimmed and neat, yet not truly agricultural.

It all looks as though it were done by people who did not know very much about it.  Saw one farm where every stack heeled over at a different angle and those which were thatched were done in such a way that the thatch looked like the hair on a village idiot.  The roads and yards were knee deep in thick black mud, with a few filthy pigs rooting about in it.  The house was red brick, very derelict looking, and the buildings were mostly falling down.  The fields next the house were poor grass, much poached by cattle.  Yet a few miles further on was a beautiful place, clean, well kept, stubbles ploughed, and the stacks beautifully thatched, stood up on saddle-stones in the proper old-fashioned way.  This district, leading down to the Hampshire border, tends to become more and more thickly wooded, mostly sombre plantations of firs, pines, larch etc, now deeply embedded in fallen leaves.

Got to Wokingham Church at 2.30, passing a fine farm outside the town, the buildings all brick, the house restored, clap-boarded and with a fine 16th century chimney stack.

Wokingham is a dull little town, the oldest part consisting of 2 parallel streets running from the parish church to the centre of the town.  The most northerly, Rose St. is mostly pale-red brick tiled houses, some 18th century but poor stuff with one or 2 blocks of 16th or early 17th timber framed and plastered houses, all in very bad state, giving a desolate derelict sort of “deserted village” appearance which was increased by the fact that this is early closing day in the place.

There is a big vacant plot in the E. end of the street, not far from the church, where I understand was until recent years a good block of 16th century cottages.  This was destroyed soon after the beginning of the war by the local ARP for exercise purposes, in the same way we nearly lost the hall in Culver Street.

Interested to note one or two buildings where the upper storey was covered by hanging tiles, as one sees in Sussex and Surrey.  This form was introduced into Essex during the last 25 years and looks hideous, especially when the lower floor is rough cast.

Public house names – “The Redan” and “The Metropolitan”.

In the main street is a black-smith’s shop, apparently very busy, and just behind a small cinema showing “Gone With the Wind”.  In the centre of the town is a hideous red brick Gothic fire station, with police-station and offices behind it, built as an island at the junction of the Aldershot and Reading Roads.  Felt as if I were on the border of a new country – the road stretching away to Basingstoke, Winchester and Salisbury, and the remote counties of the west right down to far Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly beyond.

Near the Fire Station is a very nice late 18th century house, now the Wokingham Club, with a good porch, and close by the ‘Old Rose’ Hotel, quite interesting front 18th or early 19th century.

Went down the Aldershot Road a little way, to the railway bridges.  In several places in the town there are notices on the walls on sheets of tin, urging the public never to give food or money to beggars, signed by the Hon. Sec of the Berkshire Vagrancy Cttee, at Maidenhead on Jan 1st 1911.  By the first bridge is a huge furniture repository, with both motor and horse pantechnicons in the yard nearby.

Went back by the station saw Southern Electric, bright green, come in on its way from London to Reading.  The Southern Electric always gives one a curious feeling of suburbia.  Noticed more furniture repositories – (staple industries seem to be wood yards and furniture stores) and came into the Reading Road, where the sidewalks are at a height above the wide road, lined with several very good 18th century fronts.

The town clock struck 3 as I went to the church but found this was mostly modern restoration and it was completely ‘blacked out’ by painting the windows so did not go in.  Could here the sounds of floor scrubbing in the chancel.

Noticed in the churchyard 2 old wooden grave boards, one just discernably dated 1847, in memory of Mary Sergeant.

Heard the rumble of a flight of bombers passing over above the clouds, going N. and then 3 biplanes came over in V formation, looking very old fashioned.  A horse and trap trotted by the little brick houses opposite, and we might have been in 1920.

Set off along the London Road, through modern housing estates, “good class”, several very modern suburban looking pubs.  And so in 3 miles to Bracknell, one long dull street, also closing day, another little cinema, also showing “Gone With The Wind”  Who in these little towns goes of an afternoon to sit through 4 hours of film show?

Turned off here towards Winkfield going by parks and pleasure grounds, mostly grazed by ponies, very little ploughed.  Saw Italians chopping out cabbages, and a gang of Women's Land Army with a threshing set.  No sign posts in this area, where the innumerable lanes and side turnings make them most necessary.  In Bracknell the name of the village is still carefully removed from everywhere  - P.O. pillar boxes, shops, even the War Memorial.  Very noticeable how people struggle to retain restrictions which give them the excuse to be awkward and unpleasant to others – “why should we name our village? or show the way to the next?  We know, if others don’t, let ‘em stay away.  We don't want nosy strangers here.”

However at last found Hawthorn Hill, and turned back towards Wokingham, past the Agricultural Research station, with Women's Land Army hostel in front of it or so it seemed to be at Jealotts Hill and so by delightfully named Tickleback Row and up the lanes to Allenby Park turning and so home.  Noticed that the church clock, then striking 6, indicated 10 past 3, the time actually being quarter to 5.

More rain tonight, but some bombers went out.

21st November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Tuesday
Wakened several times during the night by aircraft.  Woke again at 8, and listened to the soldiers next door, calling on short wave radio – “Able, George, Baker, Victor, Fox, Zebra, can you hear me? Over.”

Wrote to the Biggams today, a poor letter.  Felt very “homesick” as I posted it down the village street, and saw the address “16 Glengyle Terrace” slide into the letter box.  Within 48 hours or less that letter will be 400 miles away.

A lovely day, the birds singing everywhere.  Felt rather weak and sick, so stayed in this afternoon and read some of Carlyle’s “French Revolution”.  Soon after 4, as the sun sank in a golden mist, a great mass of bombers came over.  Stood and watched them and then went into tea in the warm cosy room, while they went on across the sea to bring death to some poor devils who were still alive and well as we ate new bread and apricot jam.

This morning I suddenly heard a shrill shrieking whistle, high in the blue sky.  There was nothing in sight but I wondered if this is the sound of a rocket which had already passed over.

It came over foggy this evening.  Situation must be serious indeed to send them out in this weather.  Gen. Eisenhower is now talking about shortage of ammunition, when about a week ago the press announced the closing of some munition works as the present stock of shells would last ten years, fired day and night.

20th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Monday
Heavy showers but then cleared up.  Margery brought me a cup of tea and I wished her many happy returns and kissed her.  She must be about 40 now, but does not look it.  Uncle kissed her, and said he was sorry not to be able to give here the usual box of chocolates.
 
Hundreds of heavy bombers went out in the dawn.  The papers speak of great fighting in the West.  Bonn and Trier are both in frightful danger.  Some accounts say Bonn has already been utterly destroyed.

Set off with Margery, on cycles to Twyford and caught 1 o’clock bus to Reading.  Seemed curious to go into a cinema at half past 1 in the afternoon.  Saw “Fanny by Gaslight” First time Margery had seen it.  I enjoyed seeing it again, as it gave me a chance to see details missed before.  Thought the Islington set looked rather artificial, but Belgrave Square and the Yorkshire House were excellent. I insisted we had tea so we went into a café in Broad Street.

Bought evening paper – “French Reach Rhine”.  Caught 5.30 bus, and got seats on top.  The street lights were coming on.  Margery had not seen lights for 5 and a half years but was not very impressed.

Had to cycle back from Twyford in heavy rain and Margery hates cycling in the dark.  Said she had enjoyed her outing enormously.  Poor dear works far too hard, and has very little fun, but always keeps happy and cheerful.

Had birthday tea in the front room tonight, did not finish until 8.

19th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Sunday
Strong wind again, and pouring wet day.  Spent the whole day indoors, reading and writing.

18th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Saturday
Warm, fine and cloudy.  Up rather late.  Writing all morning.  Newspapers came at 10 o’clock. 'The Express' reports that Leigh-Mallory, Air Chief Marshall and his wife are missing.  

About midday heard 2 or 3 heavy explosions in the direction of London.  Perhaps rockets?  About half past 5 there was a great noise of bombers, and we saw many Stirlings coming over from the West and NW, at various height.  They finally made off to the S.E.  Before 7 some could be heard going back to the NW, and more came in between 9.30 and 10.

Had very bad heart pains this afternoon, after playing with the cat.  It was only for 5 minutes, but I was so exhausted I thought I should faint.  There must be something radically wrong.

17th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Friday
Terrible storm all night and rain kept on all morning.

Wrote to Miss Bentley, paid more rent, and to Miss Lazell about the old man’s death.  Don’t know whether to write to Mrs Smallwood or not.

This afternoon Margery took me to the village “Library” in the school next door.  Took “The Changing Village” by F G Thomas.

Heard on 6 o’clock news that a new form of announcement is now adopted regarding V1 and V2 even vaguer than before.  In future we are to be told that in “the period of 24 hours ending at dawn there was enemy activity over southern England.  Damage and casualties were caused.”  Nothing more.  What more could be done to create alarm, fear and rumour?

Had a bath in the kitchen.  Bed 10.30.

16th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Thursday
Brilliant morning, but cold.  Uncle out in the garden, working like a man of 50.  I sat indoors writing, but Marjery insisted I should take the WLA girl to Reading to the cinema.  The only film of any interest seemed to be “The Four Feathers”, so I suggested we should go there.  Enjoyed the film just as much as when I saw it years ago.  Much amused by someone in the stalls who clapped eagerly at every opportunity, whenever the gallant British Army shot the hell out of various natives, whenever the flag was shown or Lord Kitchener appeared.  

When we came out it was dark, and there was nowhere to get a drink except at a rather dirty milk bar down the road.  We had milk there, and then set off home very cautiously, as she had no front light and I no rear.  However, we got past the police at the junction near the Cemetery, but just after I tripped against the curb and fell down, putting out my knee and jarring my elbow.  Fog on the road, and we had to be very careful owing to the danger of traffic.

At last got onto the side lanes, and up the Straight Mile to supper after which heard the “Itma” show, which I much enjoyed, though I don't think the others did.  Margery told me that the Land Army girl had a very pleasant time, though I thought it must have been very dull for her.


Rain began this evening.  No alarms or explosions, though there are divers over every night.

15th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Wednesday
Fine and sunny.  Writing in the morning, and then decided to go to Maidenhead.  Went to Food Office and got ration card for the week, bought some cakes, went to Library.  The “museum” is practically closed.  The case of material from the Castle Hill villa is now in the entrance hall.  There is a letter exhibited over the Castle Hill case from R A Smith, 7/9/05, in which he calmly accepts the possibility of Domituin, Gallienus, and Constantine all in one grave!  And in the Reference Room are two table cases (one broken and patched with brown paper) in which local archaeological material has been arranged by Williams-Hunt, Maitland’s friend.  Nicely done with labels typewritten in red, quite attractive.

There is a magnificent Bronze Age spearhead, from the Thames at Windsor, lent by Newbury Museum, and a nice little series of Achehian and Chellen hand axes from local sites.  Feel sure that they had once a cast of the great Maidenhead axe, but not there now, unless in the broken case. 

Beautiful polished axe, about 10” long, from below Maidenhead Bridge.  Incomplete Saxon sword, v. good.

Long case in the passage to Juvenile Library contains mass of mixed rubbish, hair of Wellington’s charger, fragment of Napoleon’s Standard, miscellaneous ethnology, hardly a label in the lot.

Alderman Silver’s excellent map of the district 100 years ago no longer to be seen.

Cycled back by 5.30.  The Essex County Standard for last week arrived today.  Poor old Harry Lazell is dead, last Monday week.  He was 86.  Wonder what will happen to his negatives and photos?  His daughter was so furious at the Museums 2 years ago that I fear she will not be disposed to be very friendly.  Must write to her.

Account of the Mayor making – Ald. Piper is Mayor again after 20 years.  Suddenly noticed that poor little Smallwood is dead – Pye, the retiring Mayor referred to him.  Poor little chap, he had been terribly ill during the last 2 or 3 years.  He was a useful man on the Museum Committee, and who is to fill his place I cannot see.  Laver, Benham, Hazell, Smallwood – Blaxill well over 70, Sam 71, Rendall about 94.  What is to become of the Museum?  There is no one to follow on at all.

Smallwood’s death puts Hull more firmly than ever in the saddle, for Smallwood was the one man who was determined at all costs to get Hull out of his job.  He was a good friend to me.  I last saw him when I went to see him to discuss my position.  He looked ill then, but was as kind as ever.  It was of course intended that Smallwood was to have been Mayor this year, and he was very disappointed when the proposal was rejected.

Looked at the obituary column, and found that Uncle Frank had put in a notice for Mother –

            “RUDSDALE, AGNES – November 13, 1943
In remembrance of my dear sister.  She looked well to the ways of her household, and in her tongue was the law of kindness.”

I appreciate this very much, and cannot think how it could have been done better.

See that Tendring Rural District Council wants more shelters and a siren, and the Copford people say they’ll put in an “unofficial” siren if they’re not given one.  And 3 months ago we thought the war was over.

14th November 1944 - Reading - Oxford

Tuesday
Fine sunny morning, not too cold.  Suddenly decided to go to Reading.

Went off down the road to Twyford.  Felt a little faint at the first hill, heart pains more severe than usual.  Reading at 12 o’clock.  How excellent are Simmond’s horses as they trot about the town.  They should be sent on show all over the country.

To the Museum – dark, filthy, depressing.  Not a thing has been touched since I last saw it in 1939, and very little since I first saw it in 1924.

The Silchester Collection is grubby, badly lighted, hardly a label, except a few good ones which I think Seaby did some years ago.  The masses of coarse pots are covered in grime, and have not been touched for years.  Apparently no safety precautions not a single thing has been put away in safety, not even the pillar-moulded bowl nor any of the hand tools or the best T.S. ware.  Even the coins are all in their table cases, though many jolted out of position by the bombs which fell on the other side of the street and have never been replaced.  This was the time when there was a daylight attack in 1942.  It was about 4 o’clock in the p.m. and a restaurant was hit, killing a lot of people.

Noted that although it was not thought worthwhile to protect any objects in the Museum, the War Memorial has been carefully removed from its pedestal in Forbury.

The Architectural Room is still the best part of the collection and it is better arranged and better labelled than any other.

Looked through T.S. ware, and noted 4 sherds which might be Colchester ware.

The magnificent iron tools are quite unprotected.  Horse shoes – stratified? 

The old map of the town is still there, and some faded photos of the Excavations, but no modern labels or general explanation of the place.  The wretched beehive, stood above the coin case, is still a great feature.  The “General” Museum Room is closed, and workmen were busy chipping broken glass out of the skylights, I suppose bomb damage.  Peeped round the curtain and saw that the exhibits seemed to be left in their cases.

The Art Gallery pictures are all taken down, and the famous Bayeux Tapestry “facsimile” is shown there.

This is undoubtedly a very fine thing indeed, and of the greatest value.  I had not previously known that it was done in 1895, at Leek in Staffs, by about 35 ladies, working on drawings supplied by South Kensington.  Why the work was undertaken I don't know.  It makes a wonderful exhibit, but, the labelling is very poor, just dirty white cards, hand written, done about 20 years ago.  One wall is hung with tattered news cuttings describing the tapestry when sent out on tour to various museums about 1928.  The present exhibition is widely advertised in the press, and it seems such a pity not to present it decently.  In the Art Gallery annex is an exhibit of ghastly coloured postcards illustrating Reading, Berkshire County, Pennysylvania, which seems to consist mostly of “drug stores” with a large Chinese pagoda overlooking them from the hills behind.

Could not help remembering how I came here years ago to try for a post as junior assistant.  Maitland advised me strongly against it, I remember.  Wonder how Smallcombe [the Curator at Reading] compares with Hull?

So depressed by Reading, decided to go to Oxford again.  Caught 1.28 which left 10 mins late and took one and a half hours to get to Oxford.

Went to the National Buildings Record again at All Souls, and saw Godfrey.  Got my pass to see bomb damage renewed, and had a long talk,  Had half a mind to ask him for a job, but finally baulked.  Might write to him?  Don't know.

Autumn afternoon was drawing in when I came out into the grey misty hurrying crowds, lights in shops.  Bought paper, but nothing much in it.  Divers last night again.  Went to the cinema.  Saw a very old “Bulldog Drummond” film and realised with a shock how old it was – about 1930 I should think – women’s hats quite curious, old type cars etc.  Film badly made but made me feel quite nostalgic.  Saw also a good old “cowboy” show of Tombstone City and the Wild West.

Came out at 7, and found no train until 10 o’clock.  Suddenly decided to call on Joan Blomfield, though with reluctance.  Took bus to Henley Rd, found the house, Mr and Mrs Petre both in.  At once wished I had never come.  They were both very civil, but I felt uneasy and that there was a coldness.  Felt too that they were both thinking whatever can we find to talk about to this wretched uneducated bore?  He talked about divers and rockets.  There is no doubt great alarm about them all over Southern England.  (Godfrey told me that some divers had recently reached as far as Huntingdon).  The Petres both say that all this relaxing of ARP, fire-watching etc is Morrison’s idea, to make a good impression, and was undertaken to combat the awful apathy and weariness which is spreading throughout the country.  Had coffee and cake, lump sugar.

Joan Blomfield warned me to go before 9, as I should otherwise miss the last bus, and there seemed to be considerable relief at the prospect of my going.

Got to the station just after 9.  Got in conversation with a charming woman of about 40, beautifully dressed, very affable.  Talked about destruction of ancient houses, and the hopelessness of the future.  Of course mentioned Colchester (I always do when talking to strangers) and she said that some years ago she lived at Bromley and knew the Guntors very well, Parrington’s friends.

She came as far as Didcot, to change for Swindon.  Sorry to see her go, so pleasant and such a charming conversationalist.  Train reached Reading at 11.30, nearly an hour late.  Collected cycle and set off.  Got to Shurlock Row about 12.15, and as I opened the garden gate the sirens moaned at Maidenhead, Burchetts Green and the aerodrome.  Nothing happened.  Rain fell heavily, but I could not bring myself to go indoors.  Walked up and down the lane, listening.  Thought how lucky Uncle is to be deaf and to sleep peacefully through all this.  Thought of myself, on this very lawn, 30 years ago, a tiny boy in a yellow linen hat.  Once or twice thought I could hear, very distant, the hum of a diver.  It was not until one o’clock that I saw 2 red flashes reflect on the house, and heard very distant rumbles.  All-clear came within a few minutes and I crept into bed, disturbing nobody.

13th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Monday
Fine, frosty morning.  Quite a number of stacks are up, all well thatched.  Remember what difficulty I had to get a thatcher round here in 1939.  The Land Army girl says the War Agricultural Committee sent round Italians to some farms, and they did quite a good job at thatching.  Many fields of stubbles not yet ploughed.

A cottage near the Schoolhouse, timber framed and white washed, has a curious design painted on the washed wall at one end, rather like two fern fronds.  Asked Margery if it was ancient, but she said “No, it's camouflage.”

Margery was talking tonight about Home Guard activities in 1940.  They kept a permanent watch from Waltham St Law steeple, day and night.  Margery and Mrs Bush had to go in daytime.  Nothing ever happened here, but at a church near Aldershot a Jerry plane attacked and machine gunned the Tower.  One of the two women there was hit in the leg and soon after women were withdrawn from watching altogether.

Margery got out an old photo album tonight and showed me photos of Father, Mother, me, Maitland, Aunt Het and Uncle Donald.  All of us 30 years younger.  Suddenly realised what a pretty little thing mother was, although she must have been about 46 when these were taken.  Realised too that it was just a year ago last night that I last saw her alive.

Saw myself in the photos, a little fair haired imp, grinning like a little goblin.  I had terrors in the night even then, but had too my “Guardian Angel”.

Margery has photos of 2 friends both killed in raids, one at Chelmsford, the other at Exeter.


Foggy tonight, and faintly glittering stars.

12th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Sunday
Very sharp frost.  The garden all white, and grey fog over the fields.  Stayed in all day.  Wrote to Daphne.  Wrote notes.  Reading.  Margery went to the Armistace Day Service at Waltham.  She always goes.  Margery of course has the strongest remembrances of her brothers.

Delicious tea, and then writing, and reading Massingham’s latest book, ‘A Country Garden’.  Excellent, like all his stuff.

Margery told me that a young married woman in the parish is in the family way, and it is suspected that the father is not her husband but a Czech.  Another woman in the village said quite seriously to Margery: “Well, of course, we shall know when the baby begins to talk.”

11th November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Saturday
Wet again.  Spent the day reading and writing up notes. 

Since the alarm at Maidenhead on Thursday have taken to listening just like I do at home.


Armistace Day still celebrated.  Press and radio making much of a visit of Churchill to Paris and the ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe.  Meanwhile the French and Belgian Governments are now preparing to take action against the gallant “resistance movements” who refuse to give up their arms.  Can this be the reason why the Home Guard has just been disarmed?

10th November 1944 - Oxford

Friday
Fine and cold.  Set off 9.30 for Twyford, past Stanlake Park – Col Barker refuses to plough – a Yankee camp.

Left cycle at Golden Lion.  50 bombers went over, flying very high.  Plump well-fed women, very obvious WVS, waiting for Reading bu.  Delighted to see 6 or 7 of Simonds' magnificent pairs of horses standing around the station.

Train very crowded, had to stand in corridor, but the journey was short, only 40 mins.  Oxford looked lovely in the sun shine, crowded streets, Americans, Londoners everywhere, the traffic roaring continuously, RAF lorries, American lorries.  Looked quite strange to see a few undergraduates walking down the Broad, wearing tattered gowns.

Went to All Souls [to the National Buildings Record] and saw the man whose name I can never remember (Farthing) with that vague distant manner which is so irritating.  Looked through Yorkshire files to see what there was of Whitby and Knaresborough.  Whitby stuff was quite good, although none of the Abbey Manor House.  The Abbey itself was done well, and the church, and quite a lot of yards, wynds etc taken about 40 years ago.  None of Carr’s Yard nor Bagdale.

Knaresborough very poor.  Only one, of the church.  None at all of the excellent shops and houses.

Delighted to find that Colchester has now spread into two files, one ecclesiastical, one secular.  Nice to see so many which I had sent, especially the Castle series which Gall took in 1928.  While I was there Mrs Arundel Esdaice, the mediaevalist, came in.  Had never met her before, though I have often seen her at Burlington House.  Was now introduced, and mentioned the matter of the Layer Marney monuments.  She was very upset, and promised to write to Lord Esher and to the Dean of Norwich.  But when I pressed her to explain who was ultimately responsible for the preservation of monuments in churches she could tell me no more than anyone else I have questioned.  What a delightful country we live in, where the greatest treasures may be allowed to decay by popular desire.

Walked back past the Clarendon, soon no doubt to be destroyed by Woolworth’s, as soon as they can begin building their wretched store there.

Had quick lunch in a cinema café.  Saw a very worn prostitute pick up two undergrads quite openly.  Terrible racket in a café – radio full on, and 4 Americans singing “L’Amour, L’Amour”, banging on table with knife handles.

Walked round corner to Ashmolean.  Saw the Egyptian room, with the wonderful shrine of TIRHAKAH, very lovely.  Also 2 very rare prehistoric statues, larger than life size, and several fine coffins, mummy cases, and figures.  Outside in the gallery a wonderful grey granite ram, a superb piece of work.  I have never lost my fascination for Egyptian antiquities, which began with Wallis Budge’s “Egyptian Religion” before I could read.  The scenes presented are so delightful, so bizarre, yet so lifelike, yet while one sees how real are the cows, the oxen and the horses it is difficult to imagine these lovely delicate creatures in a stable, deep in straw and muck.

Galleries full of art students, and suddenly came face to face with Janet Rushbury, in red slacks and a grey jacket, running down the stairs.  Very surprised to see me.  Chatted for 10 mins.  Said that Jack Penton had gone to live with Roses at Boxted.

The Ashmolean seems to be waking from the long sleep of the last 5 years, and cases are being cleaned and re-arranged again.

To station to catch 3.40.  Saw May’s book “Britain’s Good Earth” for sale on the bookstall.  Reading 4.30, and went round to Stuart, Moore and Saunders in Vachel Road.  The yard full of traps, tubs, rallis etc. and they have an unfinished lander which was begun some years ago. 

Sorry to find old Mr Moore, who helped me with the Windsor Show, is dead, but his brother is carrying on.  Tried to tell me trade in traps is dead again, but prices at last Reading sale were good.

Had tea at the café where I used to go 5 years ago.  Went round to the Palace Theatre where the Anglo-Polish Ballet are performing.  Left it to the last minute to see whether I could get a ticket, as a sop to my conscience, but managed to get the last 3/6.  Nice theatre.  Sat next to a very charming woman of about 40, reading biography of Dorothy Wordsworth.  Told her I had seen the hotel at Lanark where the Wordsworths stayed.  She was a ballet enthusiast, and took a great delight in the performance, which was indeed delightful.

The orchestra announced the national anthems with usual roll of drums, and then played the Polish N.A. first with the result that half the people who had stood up sat down again, only to rise sheepishly when they saw the balletomanes remained standing.  Curious tune.

First “Les Sylphides”, then divertissements, which had a tremendous reception, then “The Cracow Wedding” danced with tremendous vigour and skill.  The best in it was the dances by the Mountaineers, and I shall always remember Jan Jawski dancing the “Polish Hussar”.  Of the girls, Onone Talbot was the best.

Enjoyed myself, this being the first time I have seen a full ballet and orchestra.

Saw “Evening News” there, and found that Winston Churchill has now at last admitted that rockets have been falling on England in “widely scattered areas” during the last 4 weeks.  As a point of interest, we began having rumours of rockets about Sept. 10, three months ago.  Can any member of the Government tell the truth?  Yet the “Standard” bought at Oxford, says nothing.

Out into brilliantly lighted streets, to the station.  No train to Twyford until 10 to 10, and the last bus gone 5 mins before.  Took a bus to Woodley got off at the railway bridge and set off walking.  Still ,starry night.  A few planes about, with navigation lights.  To the south there were flashes, and two searchlights.


Began to feel very exhausted, but got to Twyford just as the train arrived from Reading.  Got cycle and reached Shurlock Row by 10.15.  Felt quite worn out and exhausted, went to bed with no supper and a hot bottle.  But at any rate I have seen Jan Jawski dance the “Polish Hussar”.