Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 18: Causyth relief

Wednesday, 30th April 1958, 10.15 pm

Since previous entry have developed boil on eyebrow with ensuing bunged-up eye. Usual fears – would the eye ever de-bung, or bung down. It did, following penicillin (oral) treatment prescribed by Dr Haber, to whom I paid two visits. These visits passed off without any incident, probably because the weather was good, and I did not have to wait very long – ½ hr., say – and the waiting room was not crowded. About three years ago, when I went to my panel doctor one evening, there was an unseemly fracas between the doctor and myself, as a result of which I asked to be taken off that doctor’s list. The incident is not worth describing in detail; I may have been initially a little irritating, but at one stage in the proceedings the doctor said: “I haven’t had a penny out of you yet” (or words to that effect) which sparked off an explosion from me. On that occasion it was winter, it was raining, the waiting room was crowded, and it was over an hour before I was called in. – Dr. Haber is Polish-Jewish ( I transferred to him because Richard [Stern] had told me he was his (Richard’s) doctor), youngish, pleasant. He leaves his surgery and pops his head into the waiting room each time to call in the next patient. If he does this as a matter of policy – may his strength increase! – he’s the only doctor I know of who does. Perhaps if his list was twice as long he wouldn’t do it.

[intimate material omitted]

It’s about a fortnight since I sent the typewritten translations to Harold E Temple, and I have received no acknowledgement from him. However, I have his written order to me to do the translations and I have the receipt for the registration of the postal packet containing the translations which I sent to him. Anyway, he’s probably out of town. I shan’t consider chivvying him till Whitsun, if necessary, when I shall be on holiday.

Am writing this in almost perfect quiet. No noise from next door – no sound of washing or ironing or cooking or frying from Edith. The temperature is just right. Although primary activity prevented me from getting to sleep till about 1am this morning and at one stage this afternoon I had difficulty in keeping my eyes open in the classroom, I do not feel particularly tired now. Laus Deo.

Saw, with Edith, Berlin boys beat London boys 3-0. First rate football. To-night with E. to Islington Schools Music Festival. Innovation – boys’ brass band. They played with what seemed to me to be complete assurance.

Saw film Farewell to Arms. Pleasant ramble, Dorking – Ranmore Common – Polesden Lacey – Leatherhead. Weather kept right. Pleased by gentle tempo of leader, Rose Dubinsky.

After the boils, on the eyebrow and chin – the itchy tookhes. Again the fear – was one condemned to a lifetime of pruritis ani? I don’t know if I have recorded in this journal that from 1936 to 1939 I worked for a Polish Jew who had a large pharmaceutical factory in Cracow and was trying to plant an “ethical medical product” in Britain. Later on he acquired the agency for “Calmitol,” manufactured by a Swiss firm, which was indicated in pruritis ani (and now I come to think of it – or is this only my fancy, influenced by my close association with the subject recently?) and pruritis vulvae. It was genuinely good too, I believe – I remember Sam telling me that while he endeavoured to keep “Causyth” and “Calmitol” going when I was in the forces, he received an enquiry for the latter preparation from someone who said it had given him great relief. I wonder what happened to Joseph Sperling. I last heard of him, just after the war I think, from Brazil (or was it Uruguay?). And to his brother, Dr Harold, whom I met in Tel-Aviv looking like a seedy anarchist waiting his chance to throw a bomb.


Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 17: Matzos in Maidenhead

Thursday, 10th April 1958 – 5.30 p.m.

Pesach [Passover] nearing its close – we [i.e. with Edith Witriol, née Katz] go to Sam & Lily’s, [brother and sister-in-law] where Mum is staying, for supper this evening. Have long since found Pesach a bind – a wonderful festival, though, if you have kids. Done properly, I don’t see how any child can fail to be captivated by it. We ourselves have never done it “properly”, really. No doubt the Gottseliger [holy person – used for Joseph Witriol’s father], had he lived, would have done it in style: the hessebett [pillows in order to lean during the Seder], the table songs. As it is, we have a nice tune to Dayenu, and we sing the Adir Hu. But Sam, like most of his generation and background, I suspect, follows the “book,” resulting in loss of spontaneity.

We spent the first Seder night at Mrs Katz’s [Edith’s mother, Esther Katz], the second at Sam and Lily’s. Edith has, as always, been wonderful, performing culinary miracles ex Florence Greenberg – so apparently one can cook from a book – and in deference to hubby’s deference to his mother, eating kosher [i.e. for Passover] the whole time – one or two lunches out, taking Thermos to office. On Monday we set out, loaded with Matzos and the Thermos, to do a Fieldfare ramble Maidenhead – Bray – Maidenhead. We reached Bray without any trouble, but after that were stymied by a “stile at a ditch.” The ditch was a non-fordable – for us – stream, and even though we bye-passed it and got to the stile at the other side, Fieldfare’s description of the terrain was completely out, to me at any rate.

Result, as Edith said later, “hubby’s got the needle.” It was bloody annoying – tramping back along the main road to Maidenhead to the roar of the traffic. Edith, in spite of it being one of her “uncomfortable” days, enjoying everything, gaily putting on the supper on our return, gaily tripping off to work the next morning, while hubby cleared up, made the bed and leisurely washed and dressed.

We got to Maidenhead station about 5pm & then went downtown to eat our matzos. On our return to the station, a man came up to me and said: “you did get your tea after all, then.” He had confused me with someone running in a 10-mile road-race. He had run, too, at 68!, and was given a medal. He said he felt 30 – I remember being able to run 2 miles in my OCTU [Officer Cadet Training Unit] days. Wish someone would give me a benevolent OCTU physical training – but only 5 days a week, perhaps, and four 9-week terms.

I had resolved, while on holiday, to pursue my normal routine as regards shaving, dressing, but find myself having breakfast en négligé. However, if I keep even this up, it will be a great improvement on the old days of getting up 10.30 -11.30ish. This way, I can be washed, dressed, have cleared up, done chores, had lunch and perhaps an hours siesta – pre-lunch if overcome by sleep – and be ready to “work” at 2.30 pm. But on days when I have only light chores – no heavy load of shopping, I should be able to work from 11-1 and 3-5.30. I still don’t see myself getting in more than 15 hours concentrated translating in a week.

To-day shopped – 6 toilet rolls (!) – ½ dz. handkerchiefs as birthday gift for Sam, plastic bowl with sections for pins, clips etc. (12/6, but I suppose gadgets of this kind are the childish toys that correspond to the average man’s toy trains), semi-turned out flat, bathed – present feeling one of euphoria – don’t know how long it will last. No actual ‘work’ done this week, but form for J.F.S. School [sic] completed, sent in, more time-consuming than it sounds.

Have applied for a post of special responsibility at the new [in Camden Town, after having been closed since 1945] J.F.S. School. I am pretty certain that I will not accept an ordinary assistantship if it is offered me. Probably wrong of me to take this attitude, since secondary-school teaching, provided I taught German and/or French, and provided the general tone of the school was good – which I am sure it will be at the J.F.S. with its great traditions – would be my cup of tea, unlike primary school teaching  – but I feel se passt me nisht to be one of the rank and file in a Jewish school. And, after all, although I have no S.R. allowance at Hargrave, [Archway primary school] I am in charge of football.

Edith had an afternoon off to-day. She’s been to the clinic. [sensitive material omitted] What does it matter sub specie aeternitatis or sub specie the impending finis mundi? But one doesn’t live for eternity, and I suspect that even if the H bombs etc. did destroy half the world, within ten years people would still be striking for an extra 10/6 a week (10 guineas a week?). And Edith is an angel, and, as I have said before, she deserves every happiness.