Part 60: Monday, 27th June 1960 – 10.40 p.m.

A brother was born this morning at 5.20 a.m. Edith had a difficult labour, though this time, the birth, when it came at long last, was normal – not Caesarean, as was Philip’s. I suppose I had better stick to the factual record, and cut the rhetoric. A harrowing time was had by all – except E. and myself, and Alf [sic? – Sam, his brother?] & Lily [Sam’s wife] – I gather, before I was able to ring Alf [Edith’s brother] the news at about 6.30 this morning. Edith has certainly had two tough basinfuls, and this must be our lot. Sorry to write in this less than exalted strain about these tremendous events, but – well, I suppose I haven’t the stamina; and not even the energy to refer to my entry on Philip’s birth. Philip’s brother, E. & I agree, is less beautiful than P – the new arrival, Menachem (more about the name later), has a Hebraic nose. However, may he grow up to be wealthy – healthy, I mean (there is no Freudian explanation: I meant to write healthy and wise; it’s an example of “assimilation”) and wise and good, and perhaps “wise” includes “good.” One can’t recapture the emotions of one’s first begetting, but of course both children will share our love equally.

E. & I agree that the Hebrew name shall be Menahem [cf. spelling above]. I had suggested Menahem, even, on the English birth certificate, but E., understandably, jibs at this. I had thought of David Menahem (the David to commemorate the late Mr. Davidson, who was very good to me when I was a boy, and whom I admired greatly – and as an English “Jewish” name), the “Menahem” being a sort of parallel to Philip’s “Israel.” But Sam suggests “Manny”, which is, I feel, the recognised abbreviation of Emmanuel (not an O.K. name for Jews, surely, in spite of its pure Hebrew-ness), but could perhaps be regarded as an English approximation of Menahem. Perhaps Martin – Martin Menahem Witriol?

Part 59: Monday, 20th June 1960 – 6.00 p.m.

A sweltering day. I note that three out of four sentences in the last paragraph of the preceding entry contain the words “I gather”. And I who am always drumming into the kids to avoid repetition.

We took P.I. into the J.B.G. [Jewish Board of Guardians]  nursery yesterday. A bit of a shlemozzle. We had to get him O.K.’d by the J.B.G. doctor first, and when we got to his surgery, we learnt that he wouldn’t be turning up, as he felt under the weather. (I had suggested to E. she ring up the doctor beforehand; no, it wasn’t necessary. It is true we might have been let down anyway, even if E. had done as I asked & rung up, as the doctor’s indisposition was presumably unforeseen and he might still not have put in an appearance at the surgery. On the other hand, the knowledge that people would be at the surgery who had come a long way to see him, and – even more – that there was a fee to be picked up – might have spurred him to make the effort to turn up.) In the event, after much traipsing around in search of a doctor, I was lucky to get the radio doctor to come and give us a certificate of P.I.’s good health – put me back a guinea.

The nursery is well equipped, and although Philip howled after we left him, I’ve no doubt he’ll settle in happily. I suppose it’s a terrible thing to say, but the house is beautifully quiet without him. And although it’s true E. gets up to feed him – 4a.m. ish – on “working nights”, I believe I had a better night’s sleep than usual last night, with beneficial consequences today, I think. In spite of the heat, I played two of the better boys at tennis this morning, beating them comfortably, and rode 1K. (difficult) and 1E (admittedly a “better” class) quite easily in the afternoon. Yes, I know, he’s a dear little chap, may he grow up to be healthy and happy.

Part 58: Tuesday, 7th June 1960, 7.00 p.m.

Have got through my first half-term at Barnsbury. Some lessons are just as nerve-wracking to take as was 3D at Hargrave, but much virtue in that “some.” I have 5hrs. 25 minutes official free periods, and one “sitting-in” lesson. This will make all the difference. Even if I have to take over for an absent master I shall usually be able to tell them to get on with their HW, while I can get on with mine. I think I shall be able to “cope” better than I could at Hargrave; and if this proves to be the case, it will be enough. Nevertheless, the large staff at Barnsbury – must be well over 40 – tend to show up the buses I have missed. However, one must just accept, and hope that Philip will do better than I have done.

A very pleasant day to-day; sunny, one or two slight showers. Sunday was unbearably hot. Went to Landau’s stone-setting. Depressing – O.K., I know these affairs are not festive, in the nature of things – the officiant was a “permanent cemetery” official it seemed, who had not known the late Mr. Landau, or if he had, had nothing to say about him. He had no-one to say Kaddish for him. Did he have any children? His widow and two step-sons and step-daughters were there.

Lily baby-sat for us this afternoon, and we took the opportunity to see the Trials of Oscar Wilde film. Fine. Most annoying, I had an omnibus volume of all his works with illustrations by Donia Nachsen. Cost 5/-. I suppose I would have to pay 30/- to 50/- to get all his writings between boards now.

Mum, Sam & Lily round yesterday. Philip in fine form. He stumbled against a tubular chair and gave himself a real shiner. E. wanted to take him to the doctor yesterday morning, but there was no surgery (it was Whit Monday) and we are letting vis medicatrix naturae do its stuff.

E. is waiting still. The embryo, which was at one time strangely placed, has now righted itself, which means that E. will not have to go into hospital a fortnight “before term” for a second Caesarean. I hope she has a better confinement than last time. Things are bound to be leybedik anyway; I shall be up to the hospital every evening, phoning the boobas.

For the record. The Senior History Master at Barnsbury was one Sam Freedman, a homely Leeds Jewish type. He told me he had applied for a job teaching cadets at Hendon Police College – “I didn’t think a Yiddishe boy would have a chance, but so I’d lose another sixpence.” He got the job. He has a glass eye, in the room of one of his own he lost treading on a mine in the war, I gather. I suspect the glass eye got him the job. He’s to teach English, I gather, with some history. His degree, I gather, was in commercial subjects, but he struck me as being quite articulate. This is not meant to be patronising.

Part 57: Thursday, 19th May 1960, 5.40.p.m.

Started at Barnsbury. on the whole, the move has justified itself. I have classes to take which are as difficult as the one I left at Hargrave, but, and I think this will prove decisive, I never have any one class for more than an hour at a stretch, and no class for more than four periods a week. There are difficulties, of course; although I will probably be able to average five free periods a week, I will probably have to spend a couple of hours a week in marking. (I am time-tabled to have seven 35/40 minute free periods and one 1hr. F.P. I also get another 35 minutes sitting in with a class). Today we had off; a bye-election [sic] at the Camden Road school buildings – “glass box” – housing the Upper School (3rd, 4th & 5th years). I am in the Lower School in Eden Grove, a dingy street opposite the Northern Polytechnic. I do a morning and afternoon at Camden Road taking history with three 3rd-yr forms. I found myself reading Trevelyan on Charles II to-day. One of the classes is very dim, but fortunately there are only twenty of them.

To the Trocadero last Sunday for Jennifer Gasson wedding. “Goldener krenk off portzellanen tellern” as my mum says, but, once the initial jam waiting to be greeted by the protagonists was over, one had one’s cup of tea and glass of champagne, and danced to a good band, in comfort. Mum enjoyed herself, tipsy in the car on the way back. She had “a sweet revenge” – Lily spilt a glass of champagne over her (Mum’s) dress.

International situation serious. Khruscheff [sic] has bawled the Summit off; apparently the Yanks sent a U.2 plane spying over Soviet air-space. Rainy to-day, have just given E. a belated hand bathing P. He screams blue murder when you talc and dress him. However, he is now quietly in his cot.

 

Part 56: Wednesday, 20th April 1960, 10.a.m.

Rushed E. off to her 9.30 dentist’s appointment. P. playing quietly in pen (J. gave him his feed, changed him at 5a.m., after which he was quiet till 8.30 or so). Yes, The Caine Mutiny terrific. I was led to the reading of it somewhat deviously. The book, I knew, was a best-seller, the film too. Recently a book, This is My God, by Herman Wouk appeared, from which it seems that H.W. is an Orthodox Jew. H.W. had also written Marjorie Morningstar, also famous, and, I gathered, on the pornographic side. The conjunction of Orthodox Judaism and the ability to write about a mutiny struck me as so remarkable that I got out The Caine Mutiny and, as I say, found myself gripped by it. The closely knit story, the mounting tension leading inevitably to the “mutiny”, the drama of the court-martial scene, superb. I am, obviously, not competent to assess the accuracy of the nautical detail, but the chicanery on board, the young officer “types” were superb. There is absolutely no “Jewish” interest in the book, until the court-martial at the end. I stress this, because it is very rare to find a Jewish author with a deeply Jewish consciousness writing a first-class book of universal appeal. The Jewish touches, when they do come, are brilliant. Greenwald, the Jewish lawyer, defending the mutineer, says (I quote from memory) “He [the President of the Court-Martial] doesn’t like Jews. I noticed the intonation he gave to the name ‘Greenwald’. I have an absolute ear for pitch in these cases. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to love Jews, you just have to give them a fair shake. And we’ll get that.” And Greenwald delivers a convincing apologia for Queeg, the tyrannical ship’s captain, by saying that it was the “regulars” like him, who, notwithstanding the sneers of the intellectuals, ensured that Greenwald’s mum hadn’t been turned into soap with which to wash Goering’s fat behind.