Part 70: Wednesday 28th December 1960, 4.5pm

Another Kratzmass over, as my Mum says. Richard and his fiancée, Esther, came round on Monday, with Esther’s little girl, Daphne. Esther is a gay divorcée. She has been a number of years in Israel. They came loaded with gifts, balloons, and brought some sparkle into the place. Boobbe Esther has been staying over the holiday. Mum stayed at Sam’s, came over by car midday yesterday – she couldn’t wait any longer to see the kids. Also round yesterday: Leo, Clara and young Michael, aetat circa 10. Michael was very helpful with Philip. He, Michael, is a good-looking, exceptionally well-spoken boy; hated by his brother Howardaetat circa 15, who is a very gifted pianist.

All this entertaining caused rumpuses between E. & myself. My fault, I suppose; or perhaps, as is so often the case, no-one’s fault, simply la force des choses, or both of us equally to blame. I received an unexpected commission to translate an article on goitre in the Galilee from D.F. Lang (Translations) Ltd. (Goitre in Galilee – title for article – but will I get round to writing it – will I hell!) I tackled it straightaway – difficult to explain to E. that one must do these things immediately – with the result that E. was utterly overworked and overwrought. Philip is up, has been grizzling all morning, but has slept two good hours in the afternoon. I resume at about 8.30pm. Both kids in bed, peace. Alf in bed with sprained ankle; Minnie Secker, Mum informs me, in bed with a bunion, abee gezinnt. There’s lots I wanted to do in this holiday, I had asked E. to clear the study (by night M’s bedroom) for me from 8-10pm, but I don’t know whether I’ll use it – it might be best to try to, otherwise E. will think that “having a lot to do” is just my story.

Part 69: Sunday 11th December 1960, 7.15pm approx.

Saw The Misadventures of Mr Pickwick at Unity Theatre last night. Behind the bald statement lies a wealth of organisation, needed for us to get out for a few hours. Alf baby sat – study/bedroom had to be prepared for him. Sam & Lily brought round to help him cope. Tea/supper prepared for sitters-in. In the event, E. got Max off before 6pm, but it was not till 10.30pm that Philip finally went off. They both slept without a break till 7.30 this morning. Boobe Yetta round to-day (in spite of cold weather, bad for Mum’s – bronchitis(?)), Philip sleep-drunk, fortunately at 6.30 pm to-day, fortunately. We hope to celebrate an undisturbed supper in the dining-room. I must attempt to record Philip’s vocabulary: hat, “hutt” (staccato) = hat, “shahann” = shake-hands, mind!, no more!, tcheeair, knife, fork, spǒon, mĕhmĕhnēh = ?, un-ùn (as in french), on seeing potty, which he refuses to use, cold. Book (no longer bukh) and door; allo boobbe, which he says except when the boobbes are on the phone; I believe I have already recorded Bye-bye.

Pickwick is a musical by Arnold Hinchcliffe, a likeable, unassuming colleague at Eden Grove. E & I enjoyed it. It seemed to me to show extraordinary talent; it is a successful West End musical in posse, I think – and it would be a welcome change from the “Fings” and “Irma La Douce” brothel-type show – it will be interesting to see if it becomes one in esse.

Part 68: Sunday 20th November 1960, 6pm

Dedication of stained-glass windows at New Synagogue this morning 12.30. Mum had a window put in in memory of my father זצ״ל. [Israel Witriol – who died when dad was twelve] Service very well done, with sherry and refreshments afterwards. Read Roots; entertaining, which in my terminology is complimentary. The theme is of Norfolk farm workers. The heroine is awakened by her Jew-boy lover in London. She tries to communicate to her family the zest which he has communicated to her. Her family is keyed up to meet him; he fails to turn up, but she feels it has been worth it, he has enabled her to see what life could really be. It is amazing that an East-End Jewish boy could have caught so well the Norfolk country milieu.

The children flourishing, Mum too. Keep fingers crossed.

Also read The Crossing Point by Gerda Charles. Again, a thoroughly entertaining Anglo-Jewish novel.

Part 67: Wednesday 2nd November 1960, 2.10pm

A week’s mid-term holiday. Apparently, we can get a week for each of the three mid-terms, in addition to six weeks in summer. I had thought one would get only two mid-term days in the secondary school. Presumably there will be very few, if any, “occasional closures.” Anyway, it’s just as well. Even the five days hardly gives one a chance to breathe and look around – another tiff with E. yesterday, caused, ultimately by my getting up late – 9.30-ish. To-day up shortly after eight, having fed and changed Max 6.45-7.20. Aunt Debbie [Deborah Coltonoff, my mum’s Aunt] and Boobe Yetta round. Edith off with Aunt Debbie and Max to clinic; Philip asleep in cot, Mum reading The Crossing Point by Gerda Charles in sitting-room, I writing this in study, breaking off to bring in washing. Sun has emerged, leave washing out for another half-hour or so, continuing this in sitting-room.

Prize giving at Archway Central Hall the other evening. Edward Blishen presented prizes. I enjoyed his speech, though his ad-libbing was not to the taste of Leece, the Eden Grove P.E. man. Blishen said he would start off with what he imagined must be a unique opening on these occasions “Revenge is Sweet”. He said Barnsbury was the first school he was sent to, after having presented himself at Divisional Offices, a dungeon wherein sat a number of pallid young teachers obviously trying to persuade themselves they did like children. Anyway, he’s certainly earned his revenge. Anybody who can “take” a modern secondary school and have enough energy left over to write a good book (Roaring Boys), numerous articles and to give numerous lectures deserves to get out, as he has done, and on to the BBC.

After some inward debate went to a meeting organised by the Jewish Quarterly at the National Book League’s premises to celebrate publication of Arnold Wesker’s Trilogy. I haven’t seen or heard any of the plays, though I’ve gathered they’ve had a great success. They haven’t made Wesker really wealthy, though, I don’t think; to get really into the money, you have to write “musicals” (Lionel Borden [sic]) or be a comedian with a gimmick (Bresslaw, gangling 6 ft. plusser, “I only arst”). I came after Sonntag, J.Q. editor, had started explaining the theme of the discussion. I didn’t quite know what this was, but it seemed to be, what is “Anglo-Jewish” writing. From the platform Frederic Raphael, young author of well-reviewed Anglo-Jewish novel, The Limits of Love, spoke and ? Lansdowne, well-known man of theatre. Raphael said he detected a tendency among Jews not to want to “leave the family”. Ruth Sternberg, née Schiff, spoke well from floor, though irritatingly saying her background was middle-class (unlike Wesker’s East-end working-class). Although at first hearing it might seem ridiculous to talk of Jewish “classes” (“so his dad came over on the banana boat before mine,” as Alan Spears used to say), they do exist: working class — pressers, cabinet-makers; lower middle-class  — small shopkeepers; middle-middle — wealthier shopkeepers and – pre-1939 – schoolteachers; upper-middle — doctors, lawyers, accountants, wholesalers; upper-class — Rothschilds & Co. Obviously these are very broad categories.

Part 66: Sunday 2nd October 1960, 10.25

Perhaps things are not too bad, after all. We have coped with less friction than in the holidays. Another Yom Kippur over; I can’t say I enjoy the fasting. However, am feeling all the fitter now, probably because I didn’t cram the equivalent of the missing meals into my stomach last night. Talking of fitness – it’s amazing; a fortnight or so ago I experienced a pain in the instep of my right foot. Not severe, I attributed it at first to some fault in the shoe, but the pain persisted over several days, even when I wore other shoes.  Although I no longer flap as I did in 1949 with my left leg trouble – I know that pains do come and go – I was worried, so much so that I shlepped to my doctor in Wood Green. His deputy -he himself was on holiday – straightaway said it was nothing. I went home feeling, at least, that I had not been neglectful. Quite all right now, but why pain in instep of right foot, davke? A touch of lumbago, I can understand – in fact I did have a very mild touch recently. It’s all very strange, there you are, as the P.B. says: yadam ach yodanu she-chayenu tefachim, and in spite of one’s various “cribs” – drudgery, confinement to home (though one realises one is lucky to have one’s own home) – one realises that all that matters is reasonable health for one and one’s own.

The highlight of the period under review has been the visit of Sam Wagreich, M.D., and his wife Rosalind. He is the son of my father’s – olov hashalom – late sister. My brother sam has corresponded with him sporadically. He turned out to be quite a guy. Fairly tall – if I remember aright – iron-grey hair à la brosse. Apparently he’s President of the “Five Counties” Medical Association, an association of about 16,000 N.Y. G.P’s. He put over a convincing defence of the American Way of Life  -he’s a good talker. An English G.P. in a corresponding position would have had more gravitas, I imagine – but there again, perhaps it’s a matter of “familiarity breeding contempt.” Anyway they left Sam & me a watch each; the price tag had been left – inadvertently, presumably, it was 55 dollars. I’m afraid I’m developing mercenary tendencies; I had been sweating on a fifty-dollar cheque.