Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 42: Twist and shout

Friday, 26th June 1959 – 7.40 p.m.  (no, 7.32 p.m.)

Time only, before Shabbes at 8 p.m. for a brief entry. Nothing particular eventful to record, anyway.  Received £100+ cheque from Th.& H. The translation will involve me during most of the summer holiday; I shall be glad when the book finally appears in print. E. [Edith Witriol nee Katz] ringing her mum, Ph. [Philip] bawling – quiet for a moment., now – on her lap. Mum left this morning for 10 days in Westcliff, Alf [Alf Katz, my mum’s brother] will take Mrs Katz down on Sunday. Everybody well, hamdu lillahi (?) Slight spat with E. just now; she brought me in to witness Ph. twisting foot in rail of cot. My mother had said the rail-type cot was dangerous; I said the foot-twisting seemed to confirm this, which loosed the avalanche: I’m fed up, you agree with everything your mother says, you should have a mind of your own, you’re never interested in what I tell you about baby, if it hadn’t have been for me he’d have been naked.

Philip yelling, here ends my entry.

Sunday, 2nd August, 1959 – 12.45 p.m.

The first week of the summer holiday now over. Edith found, for the first time, a house – in N. Finchley – which she liked. I have paid a deposit, applied to Friern Barnet U.D.C. for an advance, and hope to be installed by mid-September at latest.

Did a fair amount of work on Sinai, but it seems clear I shall have to continue working on it, fairly intensively, throughout the holiday The complete break-away-from-it-all I cannot see coming off ever, now; or hardly ever. However, the tempo during vacation (I use the term to differentiate it from a holiday proper, by which I understand a period away from home with no chores for E. or myself) is a little more relaxed and so – one counts one’s blessings again: health, clothes to wear, food to eat, a roof over one’s head and a bonny baby.

Sam [brother] and Lily [his wife] broighiss [“not on speaking terms”]; I apparently the unwitting cause. They left for a fortnight’s much needed break in Southport to-day. I suggested to Sam I could come round on the Saturday before they left, to give them a chance of seeing Philip. Sam said no, it would be difficult, they had the builders in, they would be up to their eyebrows packing. Then Lily phoned to say that although Sam had said I was not to come, she insisted that we do come. Anyway, we went yesterday. The house now looks very chic. They were on barely speaking terms yesterday, but I hope harmony will have been restored when they return from their holiday.

On diet again. A strain. What a nuisance the bag of guts is. The J.C. is offering a first prize of 100 guineas for a short story of Jewish interest. Unfortunately, I am devoid of ideas. Strangely enough, the rules of the competition do not say that stories must not have been published previously. I probably could rake out a story I had in the Young Zionist 25! years ago ( but I’d have to hump things in the cellar to get at it, I think) which I think would bring in at any rate 10-15 guineas for its publication. But it is humiliating to think I haven’t the ability to think up a short story even for the prospect of a 100-guinea prize. E. has started the washing-machine going – now it has stopped – I’m starving. Immer die Haltung bewahren [Always keep the attitude].