Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 8: Proverbs 11:16 and 31:10

Sunday 6th October 1957 – 11.30pm

Accelerato – if that’s the term I want. On Thursday night I yelled up to S.K.L. – the tenant above me – to turn down his wireless. He promptly yelled back “Don’t shout!” and raved away, bringing out Mr and Mrs E – my landlord and landlady – from the “quiet room” – I hadn’t realised they were there. Somme toute – they have given me notice to leave on the pretext of this disturbance. I have no doubt it is a pretext, and that Emms calculates he will be able to get £4-10-0 for the flat from a couple of girls, as against the £3-15-0 I pay him. I opened Emms’s letter on my return from shool [synagogue] on Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] – yesterday. Then to Jan Owen’s party at Muswell Hill. Very pleasant, but I left about 0045 (winter time) as I wanted to have no hangover for my “recce” ramble with E. [Edith Katz] to-day. We didn’t do much recce-ing, but it did become clear – it would be affectation to pretend otherwise – that E., being in full possession of her faculties, and knowing my murky past, was yet – I do not wish to overstate the case – powerfully drawn to me. To-night I popped the question – no time to avoid these awful clichés – and the – whatever the corresponding cliché for “said yes” is. I told her then, and I record it now, well-knowing that she will in all probability read this, that I want to be worthy of her. Sorry if this is Victorian, but there it is. She is a girl – alright coming on for 35, so what? – who deserves to be loved if ever a girl did. I don’t know whether I’m capable of love – I told her I loved her, after having resolved I would never again tell a woman I loved her, but the declaration was spontaneous – but may she never have cause to regret her decision. She is an extraordinary girl – Jewish, but doesn’t believe in formal engagements (sic! – doesn’t want a ring, doesn’t want to have the bloke lined up for a nice breach action – says I’m free to change my mind, wouldn’t want me to do anything unless I wanted to do it freely), isn’t keen on receptions, white weddings, etc., says – very truly : “What can be more important than people?” wants to go out to work so as not to feel dependent on husband (the latter absolutely O.K. by me – it’s got to be, but even if it didn’t, I want E. to be with me because she wants to be with me, not because I’m an easy bread ticket). She has no money, neither have I. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to borrow a thou from Sam [brother] or Mum; even if I can, we shall still have to struggle on my thousand a year (but there’s the drain of the £72 a year till the end of 59 to Harry Baker, Solicitor) and her £560 a year (plus luncheon vouchers). But – how hard life is for the agnostic, unable to say “God willing” – well, in that spirit, anyway – we’ll pull through:

A ragamuffin husband and a rantipoling wife,
We’ll fiddle it and scrape it through the ups and downs of life. [anon]

By love subsists
All lasting grandeur, by pervading love;
That gone, we are as dust. [William Wordsworth]

Wednesday 16th October 1957 – 8pm

Let me hide somewhere. I got cold feet. Increasing reflection induced increasing doubt as to the wisdom of embarking on marriage without adequate secure accommodation; i.e. unfurnished flat or maisonette on short or long lease or freehold. Whichever way would need as a bare minimum £350. I have £50, Sam says he has nothing and it is not advisable for me to borrow money from Mum because of possible income-tax repercussions. I think myself the possibility of such repercussions remote, but perhaps it is inadvisable to borrow from Mum even if she were prepared to lend – there would inevitably be emotional strings attached. I had to ring E. and tell her that I was going to be a cad. She heaped coals of fire on my head by saying I ought to be careful what I said to girls but she wouldn’t want me to do anything unwillingly. I still don’t know whether it might not have been better to go through with it after all. We could have got furnished accommodation of a good standard at a rent of 6 guineas a week and perhaps even saved  – between us – £50 a year and if baby came perhaps we could then have got a municipal dwelling or Mum would then have been forced to lend me the money to set up in a cheap house or flat (£500, again – has Mum got that in liquid assets, I wonder?) Perhaps this is what we should have done – or rather I should have done. I suppose, simply, I lack the dynamic. My experience of furnished accommodation, comparatively good though I have had it here for two years and nine months, has made me feel nervous about setting up in marriage in furnished rooms, though I see couples who do it – teachers not much younger than me.

Well, there it is. I only hope now I can rely on my next landlord/lady not kicking me out for at least 2½ years. I propose dispensing with a holiday next summer. With luck this may enable me to have £150 saved by 30th October next, and may “shame” Mum into offering to lend me £200. Sam is trying to get his bank manager to advance a loan on the security of the unencumbered title deeds of the house (belonging to Sam and Mum) in Moresby Road [E5, Upper Clapton] but I am far from sanguine.

Bloody hungry. Biscuits, coffees, Granose rolls, salmon pats, herring, cheese, tomatoes, crisps, apples – inadequate. Will have to go out and get bar of chocolate from Automat later. Hamlet  at Old Vic on Oct 12th, with E. Ophelia’s ranting, phoney duel, tiresome.


One thought on “Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 8: Proverbs 11:16 and 31:10

  1. Pingback: Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 14: Some broth, some boy | Joseph Witriol's writings

Please leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s