Part 64: 8th August 1960, 11.45 a.m.

Writing this in the study, Max in the carry-cot on the divan next to me. Philip gurgling in play-pen, E. & her mother pottering around. Philip after an exhausting afternoon yesterday “performing” for his uncles, slept like a log (tired simile, we had a discussion on this the other day in the staff room, two members of the staff saying kids should not be encouraged to learn these clichés, another chap, Lloyd – whom I have pigeon-holed as reactionary (militantly N.A.S., bachelor-in-his-forties-at-least, anti-feminist) – saying they should. I tend to agree with Lloyd. If you can think of better similes than sleep like a log, fit as a fiddle, right as rain (this sounds wrong – let’s pass on), sound as a bell, hard as nails, all right; but if you can’t, you should know your clichés. To get back to Philip. His long sleep – E. gave him some milk at 6, and the he went right on till 10 – gave E. a bit of a break, with a consequent lessening in tension all round. Must break off. Max demanding. 5.15 p.m. – resumed. Pouring. It’s been a tranquil day, mercifully. Philip was quiet in his play pen in the morning, slept (again!) in it this afternoon, Max has been sleeping well. Even so, I haven’t been able to “do” anything, except mow the lawn (20 mins.), but it’s something not to feel headache-y (through interrupted and/or insufficient sleep) and to have a reasonable atmosphere in the house.

Am getting through That Great Lucifer (Sir Walter Raleigh) by Margaret Irwin. Am “doing” it for the benefit of my next year’s history pupils. Surprisingly enough, to me, the book was one of the half-dozen best sellers, although it wasn’t particularly well reviewed.

Part 63: Monday, August 1st 1960, 10.15 a.m.

It has been a pretty grim week. At the moment the scene is peaceful. Max sleeping in his pram in the garden, Philip having a more or less tranquil breakfast with, or rather, at the hands of his mother and her mother. I have washed, shaved, dressed, breakfasted and feel, as of now, fairly rested. Max demanded food at 11.15 last night, as we went to bed. We got to sleep just after midnight, using an electric feed-warmer, installed by Alf (mum’s brother); saves someone going down to the kitchen at nights to warm up the feed. Max up again about 4 (I can’t remember whether I got up too – I think I did, but it wasn’t to do much more than lend moral support), then  – an unexpected complication – though nothing is unexpected in this lark – Philip up howling at 6a.m. He slung away the proffered bottle, but after a few minutes did take it and went off to sleep. By great good fortune he stayed asleep till 9.30. meanwhile Max created at about 7.30. I capitulated and lay dozing, E. giving Max water, which I believe sent him off by about 8. I must have then got in half-an-hour’s sleep, which has benefitted me enormously. P. is now seated on the divan (b night the visitors’ bed) in the study, guzzling his milk from his polythene bottle.

We are having mother trouble; inevitably, I suppose, my-mother trouble. Boobbe (my father had his own transcription system for Yiddish words) Esther, (my mother’s mother) afflicted with hard hearing and a gammy leg, gives no trouble. Boobbe Yetta, though, has the defects of her virtues; highly strung, ambitious, a “live wire”, she tends to lay down the law, “kommandire“. [? writing unclear] Nevertheless, in fairness to her, I must say that as far as I have been able to observe, she has behaved as correctly towards E. as any “foreigner” in her eighties (ken en hora) can be expected to. There was a painful “incident” last Tuesday, when she came round, from Clapton to here, a wearisome journey even for me. She gets no credit for this from E. In the past, we have on a number of occasions been able to miss out on visiting Boobbe Y. and visit Boobbe E. instead. It is only human nature, I suppose, for E. to resent* my mother’s being able to come to us whereas her mother is confined to her flat (she has come to us by car for a week, and will return by car – Alf got someone to do the job cheap). Must break off – P. is breaking up the study. I think he knows “book” — he says “boo-er.” The only other words he knows are “fleh” (flower) and “bubber” (rhyming with rubber) = baby. The incident arose out of the name question. E. and I. had agreed on Menachem as the Hebrew name, and Max for the English name. A few weeks before the confinement my mother had said (or was this after the birth? I think the latter because when E. became pregnant Boobbe Y. had started talking about names, and E. had said why not wait till she was safely delivered –  a rebuke which, again in fairness to my mother, I must say she accepted and I think didn’t revive the name question till after the birth) why not give the child a name Menahem Mendel, which, she persists in saying, was her late brother-in-law’s name. As far as I know, it was Mendel tout court, which at some stage he changed, in Israel, to Menahem. Although I don’t like Mendel particularly myself (though I don’t feel violently about it) and Menahem Mendel even less (because of Sholem Aleichem’s Menahem Mendel) I said all right, Menahem Mendel, my mother was tearful, it’ll be a blessing for the child. I dropped a clanger in not telling E. – “I’m only the mother.” Hence when my mother called Max Mendel the fat was in the fire, E. had a touch of hysteria, she’d, obviously, been under great strain, and my mother, correctly, left the house. Somme toute, she says she won’t come to us any more. This isn’t the whole story, which cannot be told here, but perhaps I’ve already given it too much space. The fault, if anyone’s, was mine, in not telling “E” about the “Mendel” in time; but it never occurred to me she would worry about the “Hebrew” name.

*incorrect. Do not resent. –  Booba Y. comes if she can to see the children & that way can see them more often. Booba E. must wait till we can come with them which is more infrequent — E.W. [my mum’s footnote to this entry]

Part 62: Monday, 25th July 1960 – midday

The first day of my holidays. Max up about 2p.m. [sic] A good hour or more before we could get him off. Philip up about 6.30. E. up with him, filling me with guilt feelings, I up about 8.00. Unless I attempt to “do” anything over the next six weeks’ holiday, I shall probably go down to the grave with my “Jewish Literature and Jewish Dogma” article unwritten (chance for you, Philip or Max, me lads). It is comforting, at least, to think that I have had a score of articles, paid for, in print; however much I may natter about what I could do or would like to do or wish I could do or regret I shan’t be able to do or make excuses for not doing – at least, I have done something. Fuit Troja, but at least fuit – better fuit and non est and nunquam erit than nunquam fuit.

Mr Watson, our next door neighbour, died of cancer in the night. Both fine, typical middle-class English people. He tall, slim, a civil engineering contractor, I believe, worked a lot overseas. She good-neighbourly to us (“can I do some ironing for you, the iron’s on” to me while Edith was in hospital). How many of “our people” would make the offer – that I didn’t need to take advantage of it is besides the point – would it occur to E. to make an offer in similar circumstances, I wonder.) She knew, apparently, of his condition; only yesterday morning, while mowing her lawn, she called out “little and often” cheerfully to me.

Sam [brother] has subsidised me with £50 and another £50 to come. My net income, before deduction of tax, is over £1300, but we can’t keep on an even keel. Thames and Hudson owe me £24 odd, but I have no further translating commissions. If I had another “God’s Wilderness” job – a “G.W.” job per year – I could, with my one evening a week’s teaching English for Foreigners at Southgate, get by.

One Grunwald, 34, got five years. A cause célèbre. He a refugee, deeply orthodox, lavish supporter of the Jewish clergy, sentenced for fraudulent conversion. Al tismach binpol oyvicha, but I do rejoice, to my shame. Why, what had he done to me? I suppose it’s simple envy of “righteous people” coining it and living in luxury, while I am condemned to a life of genteel poverty. Not, I hasten to write, and as I can never say too often, that I complain – abee gezind. [Yiddish – As long as you’re healthy]. As I told Sam, I feel mean about him. The £100 he’s given us would have given him and Lily a week’s rest at a top Jewish hotel in Bournemouth.

Part 61: Sunday, 3rd July 1960 – 4.20 p.m.

Have just returned from Highbury House. Philip in bed with a temperature. Sam & Alf [my uncles] took him out yesterday afternoon. They told me he was lively then. Must try to keep this from E. as long as possible. She is making a fine recovery after her labour. Max too is doing well, his looks have improved also. His “Hebrew” name: Menahem Mendel. On his birth certificate: Max. This is acceptable English-wise, but to the cognoscenti indicates non-English origin, which is fair enough. This is not quite what I want to say. I would not have objected to a “neutral” but perfectly English first name, e.g., Joseph, Samuel; but think it would have been wrong to give him an English-and-English-only name, e.g. William.

I put in for a graded post teaching history in the Upper School. Davies (the H.M.), in reply to my query whether there was any point in my applying, urged me to do so. I am in fact “teaching” history to three 3rd year forms at present. I was unsuccessful. Chap who got the job was one Fishman. As, I believe, history is not his speciality, and there was a rival, very U type candidate who was, I believe, a history specialist, one cannot say anti-Semitism is prevalent in teaching.

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?