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.