Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 16: Serenely wed, Colonially fed

Tuesday, 4th March 1958, 11.30 p.m.

Only four days to the wedding. Am unexcited, the feeling is one of serenity and gratitude for having found a helpmeet – may I be worthy of E. [Edith Katz] and give her the happiness she deserves.

Practising my maftir [reading from The Prophets] yesterday with Sam [brother], he giving me the notes on the fiddle. I have a very long Haftara [the maftir reading], but I expect I shall scrape through it. It’s the bit about Elijah and the prophets of Baal and ends – what I noticed for the first time yesterday – with the words: “Adownoi Hu Ho-elouhim” [the Lord is God] – the concluding words of the Day of Atonement.

Witriol as window-cleaner – cleaned the living-room windows on Friday, broke one window-pane in the process. Zoll zahn de kappoorre (you’ll have to research on this, H.L. [Baudelaire’s hypocrite lecteur,] – too late, and I’m too tired, to explain now).

Saw Charles Laughton in Witness for the Prosecution on Saturday. Good entertainment.

Monday, March 31st 1958, 8.50 p.m.

Married on Sunday, March 9th last! E. wonderful – endures my tantrums uncomplainingly, always smiling; [sensitive matter deleted]

The honeymoon – at the Grosvenor Court Hotel – was necessarily extremely brief. Sunday evening we had a kosher supper at Folmans, rather depressing milieu – a few diners, the “boss” lamenting publicly his waiter’s early home-going etc – but we wanted a meat meal in the evening. I believe I should have fasted on the day of the wedding, but in fact I breakfasted and lunched well at Lily’s [sister-in-law]. The wedding itself uneventful. Nemeth, the Minister, arrived a little late and, as usual, gave the impression he was about to dry up during his talk to us. A little chazan from Stanmore, I believe – Freilich, brother of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Freilich. E. beautiful in a stone brocade dress with jacket. Photos did not do her justice, giving her, as she says, treble chin where, in point of fact, she has – or so I think –  a very nice chin-to-neck line. My speech went down well. To E’s surprise I dropped no clangers. The dancing wasn’t particularly successful, chiefly because Merton [Sandler] & Richard [Stern] were rather less than gallant, and mizzled off early. Mum did very well in spite of her indisposition, dancing – the first time I recollect her doing so – a round dance, of course.

Monday morning we went to an exhibition of Israeli Art at the Arts Council, which we agreed was crap. In the evening we saw a film of The Barber of Seville at the Curzon. We went to a joint called the Colony for a supper-dance. I am still, at 45, very far from being a man of the world – only just remembered to sip the trial pouring of champaign [sic] and was annoyed with myself for querying the bill. They charged 25/- each for two “suppers,” although the individual items – excluding champagne (have just had to look up the spelling – a brokh!) and coffee – came to far less. I contended that since the items I had ordered from the menu, plus champagne plus coffee came to nearly £5.-, we were well in – but Edith seems to agree that the Colony’s reasoning was right. Anyway, it’s the sort of evening that would make a fair enough anniversary, though supper-dance plus car there and back would alone come to £10.

Meanwhile, I received an unexpected job from one – have forgotten his name. Translation of Hebrew shipping documents. The remuneration he proposed was very lucrative, even after deducting his “cut” of one third; 10/6, and 8/6 for technical matter, per folio of 72 words = after deducting his third – I have just looked up Temple’s letter [it] still works out as at least £6-15-0 per thou after deducting his cut. It is true my typing expenses would be heavier than for normal literary typing, as there was a good deal of tabular matter in the stuff. Even so, the net rate, after deducting typing costs, etc., cannot be less than £5-5-0 a thou – and I would jump at any commission of 30/- a thou gross.

The stuff, when I got it, was interesting, but in some respects irritating – words like hackoport whose meaning is very difficult to fathom. Other documents had only one or two Hebrew words on them that needed translating – the “rubrics” were in English and Hebrew. Probably the simplest thing would have been to write the English on the document itself, but for the sake of consistency I’ve had a separate typewritten translation made of each document. Anyway, if I do get a cheque for £20-30 from Temple it will have made my membership of the Translator’s Guild (under the aegis of the Institute of Linguists, from whom Temple got my name) worth while. Had supper out locally with E. the other night – give the little woman a break (but a cheap supper for 2 costs 16/6!) – and saw Wild is the Wind.

E. doing her smalls. All rather dreary, look-back-in-anger-ish. Oh to be virile and successful!


A rough count taken from the preceding pages shows that in the year 1st April 57 – 31st March 58 I have seen eleven films (always one film only in an evening), 12 plays,1 ballet, and have been to the circus once.