EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

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”.

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