Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 45: Beastly Burden

Tuesday, 22nd September 1959, 9.40 p.m.

Moved in on Friday 11th September. Behind the bare announcement, etc. etc. No time anyway for anything but  bare announcements. So: moved in, bedroom suite delivered same day after hysterical argle bargle between E. [Edith Witriol, nee Katz] and me. The expense of spirit on these vanities… Attending P.E. course Wednesday & Friday mornings at L.C.C. College of Physical Education, Baker St. Good, will add, I think to my repertoire of tricks to give the kids. But there is no substitute for ability to demonstrate handstand, cartwheel to kids, an ability I never had. However, I can do a forward roll, without style admittedly, but it was a consolation to find there was one chap on the course who just couldn’t do it.

Humiliation, yesterday (not really; the real tragedy is I have no pride there to be humiliated). Burden [headmaster] came in to class. Wants kids to write, write, write; don’t worry about punctuation. Must write every day; story, what have you. Worried because unable to find material for kids to write about, I thought. But succeeded in raking out some forty composition subjects had made a note of. Temporary feeling of alarm: feared possibility: Burden dissatisfied, Witriol reaction: I’m not cut out for this lark (in fact how do I manage to bawl “hands on heads” ten times a day, two hundred days a year?), turn it in. Witriol sans job, sans £1150 p.a. Get a rift on yourself, W., as OCTU [Officer Cadet Training Unit] drill-sergeant used to say (that only lasted four months, but it’s fair to say the kids at their worst are gold to OCTU), dig your toes in.

To Wally and Bev [Walter and Beverly Gasson] on Sunday. Their silver wedding, Jennifer’s engagement, to one Roy Woolf (a nice rugged, professional-footballer-looking youngster) one of whose ancestors “fought at Trafalgar.” Wal had fixed up glass-house extension to dining room. Scores of people milling around, champagne, canapés; salmon mayonnaise for select few (who apparently doubled in number) who stayed for supper. Met Jeff. Davidson whom had not seen for some five or six years, with his wife Binky (her maiden name Chabinsky, can’t think of her forename, but “everyone calls her Binky anyway”). They have three boys, youngest eighteen, all doing well at University or in academic sphere. Seems incredible, but there it is. Home by Speedy car with Sam [brother] and Lily [his wife] and Mum. Boobbe Esther and Alf [Edith Katz’s mum and brother] baby-sat, car took them on to Dinmore House.

Mrs Donovan, who joined the Hargrave staff with me in February 55, returns for four afternoons a week. She now has two chln. Puts them to sleep for aftnn. Lady upstairs looks after. They saving for car.

Mrs Triesman, new member of staff. Handsome woman, vigorous personality. Was deputy head at another school, found head (woman) impossible. In the swim, I gather, one of the bright young things, at party with bod, bod said I have seven gardeners, can’t get a day’s work out of them, she danced with bod, paid no particular attention to him, he said see you at Belvedere Harry (or Reg or what have you), when penny clicked – Gerald Lascelles. Her husband & two others reviving John O’ London’s weekly. The two others have mortgaged their houses to finance the project.