21st January 1945

Not a good night, and woke with a sick headache to the noise of bombers going over low.  Fine, but bitterly cold.  The breakfast was quite decent, but the egg was bad.  Got a “Sunday Express” – Nathaniel Gubbins, who has recently been publishing a lot of gloomy truths and jibes in his column is being criticised as “mischievous”, but this week he is quite tame.  In the “Sunday Dispatch” were headlines – “Drastic Call-up” “Medical Standard to be lowered”.

Found that I had a flat tyre, but pumped up and cycled around the town, which seems a dull place.  Only decent view of the Cathedral is that from the railway bridge to the south.  At the station nearby saw men unloading and shunting – horses at work.  Felt so cold and sick could hardly enjoy anything.  Streets crowded with wandering Americans, Poles, Czechs, Italians, Land Girls and local working girls.  Back to Hotel for lunch, quite good, but cost 4/6.  Wish I had bought sandwiches yesterday.

This afternoon the sun came out, so went round to the Cathedral again.  Remains of the monastery buildings are quite extensive, very gracious and lovely all tipped with snow, but somehow one has no feeling that this is a cathedral town.  The main streets have hardly a single building of any merit except the Town Hall, the Bull, and the Museum.  There is an old stone-built thatched house by the New Inn, and some cleared areas near the Corporation Depôt.

Several old names survive – Cowgate, Priestgate, Midgate, etc.

Went into the Cathedral, very quiet, with the afternoon sun streaming through the windows, children running about.  Handsome, rather made-up blonde came in with an American as I went out, and said “Do you think it would be O.K. for me to come in without a hat?”  Said I thought so.  The old rule about women covering their heads in churches is hardly ever enforced now.

Carl Rosa Opera Company still at the Embassy Theatre.  There are two theatres and five cinemas here – but not a single place to get a cup of tea on a Sunday.  Went to a cinema, and saw a Rosalind Russell film, which I always enjoy, and a very good film on English canals.  Both these films had been cut, so that occasionally the action was jerking and a few words would be missing out of the dialogue.

Had a meal at the Hotel, the extraordinary conical landlady hovering about, and the place very full.  Afterwards went for a walk in brilliant moonlight through the crowded streets, hundreds of squealing, shrieking girls.  Went to the station and had two cups of tea in the Refreshment Room, then back to bed.

Men in the lounge talking about agricultural wages, gone up to £3.10.0 as from 5th January.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The agricultural wage is the equivalent today of £135.28, this would have been for at least a 40 hour week.

Today the minimum wage for over 21s is £6.50 an hour, so for a week of 40 hours this is £260. In comparison ER's lunch for 4/6d is in today's value £8.70, quite cheap but probably our of reach of the agricultural worker!

Mike Dennis