Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 30: A tee-hee-hee and a fold-de-lol

This entry includes a correction footnote as made by my father, including the East Asian asterisk he used! The date of the correction shows he would re-read his entries from time to time.

Tuesday, 9th December, 1958; 9.30 p.m.

Have been reading previous entries in order to avoid repetition as far as possible. Somewhat depressed to-day, but mood clearing up, I think (at this particular instant – and I mean instant – there is silence in the front-room – except for the subdued roar of traffic, which doesn’t worry me – and the writing of this diary, once I do succeed in getting down to it, has a therapeutic effect). I must try to avoid these incapsulations, cultivate a style. (at 47, nearly! I can’t decapsulate myself. Yes, writing this diary is “therapy” as Dollinger said of his driving lessons. Dollinger the Reader at the NLJC [New Liberal Jewish Congregation] – gives me a lift home in his car most Sundays.

Talking of NLJC, one of my kids there asked if I would write an account of a story, saying, connected with the rabbis – I had asked them to do this for their test. Fair enough, really. I’ve always felt that the best way of showing kids how to do a composition on, say, “A Day at the Seaside” is to do one yourself.

Anyway, on Sunday morning I did tell the kids in my class to read quietly – which they did, reasonably so – while I did the test myself. Afterwards I gave my top-mark boys (17,16) my script to mark. We agreed on 18. As one of the markers said, I had failed to discuss the story or saying;  but, I pointed out, I had recounted the story accurately and my style was good.

Edith reclining in arm-chair, legs on another chair, consulting her cookery book; a picture, as I have had occasion to observe before, of domestic bliss. Dare I complain?

Possibly responsible for the mood of depression to which I have referred is the fact that I didn’t hear from Thames & Hudson. They wrote wanting to know if I would discuss translating a popular Hebrew work of archaeology with them. Michael Edwardes, quondam of Vallentine Mitchell had suggested me to them. When I had last seen M.E. the atmosphere had been rather tense. He had said the English of an “English” TS he had given me to “english” was not English. He was right, too. So I was agreeably surprised to find that he will still, apparently, speak favourably for me.

But more probably, the depression is inherent in the general situation and, in mild form, will be with me most days I am teaching. I can see no issue from the impasse: I am inefficient as a Primary School Teacher, and have missed the selective Secondary School bus. I put in for a Deputy Headship, with a feeling of resentment at the futility of doing so.

Howard Youngerwood‘s bar-mitsva the other day. Very enjoyable. To Golders Green shool, by public transport, on the Shabbes. Called up. Myer resplendent in topper in warden’s books.※ As some lady said to him, apparently; it was a change to see a handsome warden. He is handsome; tall, slim, legal-looking. His baldness is his Achilles’ tendon (why not say he’s bald? – you shut your trap, H.L). [my father regularly used this abbreviation for Baudelaire’s hypocrite lecteur] I made a good, carefully-prepared speech proposing the B.M.’s health; Mat Rosen made a not-so-good, unprepared – or rather, not carefully enough prepared – speech proposing the health of the B.M.’s parents. Ellis Lincoln, who sits next to H.Y. in shool, and was the big “catch” among [?missing words] made a fluent speech from a few jottings on a menu card. Howard played, the piano. He has appeared on I.T.V. A likeable kid, nevertheless. Well up in his Jewish studies, plays soccer, runs at school. I’ve had enough. Perhaps E. will make me coffee and cake. She replies with a tee-hee-hee and a fold-de-lol.

※ “Box” -31/12/67


Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 29: Ha! Pah! Bazaar

Sunday, November 23rd 1958, 3.50pm

A dies something-or-other to-day – no religion school, so I had a lie-in. The NLJC [New Liberal Jewish Congregation] used their shool for their annual bazaar. Autre temps, les mêmes moeurs  – Mrs Price, our new deputy-head (vice Mrs Hood, retired but now teaching half-time with us) spoke to the kids at assembly, about justifiable anger, and instanced Jesus’s driving out of the money-changers from the Temple. I expect Rabbi K. of the NLJC, would justify the stalls and the restaurant in his “Temple” by saying that the ark was partitioned off, but I’m not sure that this is a valid justification. In Orthodox Jewish congregations (and, I suspect, in the “English” progressive congregations), you might find a secular building used for religious purposes, e.g., a cinema used as a shool, or a shool hall used for services, but not the other way round. However – In meinem Reiche kann jeder selig werden nach seiner – I’ve just checked, the correct quotation is: In meinem Staate kann jeder nach seiner Façon selig werden.

Anyway, went to the Bazaar yesterday. They really had put in a tremendous amount of work into the thing. We didn’t get any metsee’es [bargains], but I think Edith enjoyed the bright lights and the bustle. I don’t complain myself – it’s the sort of scene one ought to be able to write up – the large, black-chiffoned gnädige Frau adjusting her lorgnette to find the price of a vase, then consulting the Herr in charge ( who told her a price above that of a larger vase, quite clearly marked, of obviously the same quality.)

Edith, nebbech [“poor thing”], has flopped off in the armchair – she’s been on her feet since 10 a.m., preparing lunch, washing up,washing her hair. We leave about six for Dinmore House [in Hackney, where Edith’s mother and brother lived]. How do/did people ever find time to read? I can’t, and yet I have no public life of any kind; seldom attend lectures, shows, parties, visit (but all this is relative). I’ll stop hackin a tcheynikk. [Yiddish, “banging a teapot”, i.e going on and on.]