20th February 1945

Slept badly, but got up at 8.15, glorious warm sunny morning.  Class of Grammar School pre-boys this afternoon.  Felt rather nervous, but it went fairly well.  Decided to talk about the 20th century B.C. as compared with 20th century in which we live.  Old Edwards in again this morning looking dreadfully ill, saying “I do hope you don't mind my coming in again, but I can't go on any further and I must rest before I go home.”

Miss Quayle brought her little boys at 3.30, and we took the class into the Library. 

What with one thing and another, had no time for lunch, but felt all the better without it.

Another lecture fixed for Thursday.  Feel very guilty at the small amount of preparation I put into these talks, but they may get better later on. 

Cup of tea in office, and then another two hours in Library, arranging the biographies in alphabetical order.

Crowd in at the “White Lion” for dinner, two American pilots, horrible looking fellows, a young sailor and a woman of about 40, rather dowdy.  The sailor was telling her he had been all over the world, and how well he had been treated in America, Canada, and New Zealand, but that at Malta the Navy was most unpopular, and the Maltese he said were “funks” and “traitors”, mostly pro-Italian.  The woman suddenly said: “My son went to all those places, but he was drowned before he had a chance to tell me about them.  I know he had lots of photos, but of course I never saw them either, everything was lost with him.”  The sailor said “Oh, ah, that’s bad, that is, I know, because a sailor thinks a lot of his photos.  Where was he drowned?”

“Well,” said the woman, “He was killed near Freetown, West Africa, and he was buried there.  They were hit by a torpedo, and fifty were killed.  It was the ‘Phoebe’ the light cruiser, and there were fifty killed out of 500 or so.  Do you know Freetown?”
“Oh yes, but it’s not much of a place, only a wooden pier and some oil storage tanks.”
“Well that’s where he was buried.  He was only 17.  I hope to go for a holiday there after the war.”
“You’ll find it pretty hot.”

At this point the door was flung open, and two Yanks burst in, caps and overcoats on.  One said “Gottany chow?”  Bella asked “What’s your room number?”  “Ain’t gotta room.  Want some eats.”  “Well,” says Bella, “I’ll have to see if we have any to spare”.

The Yank shouted “Bloody Christ! Oh hell!”, glared round the room and went out slamming the door.  As soon as the two pilots had gone, everybody began talking about their manners and habits.

Went to an art lecture at the Queen’s School.  Dutch, 17th century.  Very well done, glorious stuff, but wish the lecturer had been better.  Set me thinking about special shows of prints and so on at the Museum.

Jessie Swift was there, and told me it was practically certain that I can have a room at Mrs Burnett’s, next door to her in Clarkson Avenue.  Excellent news, just as I was becoming quite desperate.

Brilliant moon tonight, with many ‘planes flying over fairly low, but whether operational or training hard to say.  Only know that the noise is horrifying and revolting.

Considerable chatter this evening about the new Education Act, soon to come into force.  This means the end of all preparatory schools, and a tremendous “levelling-down” of secondary education, with what ultimate result nobody can foresee.

Had a letter from Hubert Collar, this morning, expressing his disappointment that I have taken Wisbech and not waited for him to retire from Saffron Walden Museum – he was relying on me!  Came quite as a surprise, though of course 10 years ago I was most anxious to go there.  He tells me that Lord Braybrooke is to sell Audley End and the Gt. Chesterfield collections.  He feels alarm about the Museum, as the building itself belongs to Braybrooke, who will wish the Trustees to buy it.  They obviously must get the support of the Essex Education Authority, otherwise the place must surely collapse.

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