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?

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.