Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 48: North by South East

One aspect of dad’s polyglot nature was that  occasionally a foreign word came to mind before its English equivalent. The one I recall was French bureau for a sideboard/chest of drawers/cabinet in our dining room.  In similar vein , this extract includes the Hebrew קוֹמבִּינַצִיָה

Monday, 30th November 1959, 3.0p.m.

“Occasional closure” at school to-day. I rang up the office this morning and, as I hoped, there was no school for me to make up (the day I took off for Yom Kippur this year [balance of two days I have to make up for last year?]) at. Hurried Council of War this morning to decide best way of exploiting this unexpected gift. Edith [Edith Witriol, nee Katz] managed to get off 1.30 p.m. Her mission: to buy candlewick bedspread, etc. in Holloway (3/4hr. journey from here). Told her to be back by 4.15 p.m. as I have to take a French class at William Patten school. (My Clapton class conked out, but one door closes, another opens: the Instructress at the William Patten school class had a heart attack and Miss G. asked me to step into the breach for the rest of the term. The  instructress apparently a frail lady of 70, “much loved” by students. As usual, can think of no suitable comment. Why comment anyway? Because, H.L., [Baudelaire’s hypocrite lecteur] it is bad enough to be 70 even if surrounded by family and troops of friends. But perhaps I am working myself up into an unnecessary lather. Perhaps the lady has family and troops of friends?

Alf [brother-in-law] came round on Saturday and – wait for it – E. & I went to the flicks. Saw a thriller, West by North West [sic]. Good entertainment. But the excitement of being able to get out together, without Philip, for an evening. Splendid work on Alf’s part; he even had a pot of tea ready for us when we got back, at 11p.m. (he got home by making various L.T. “combinazies”.

Managing to bedside-read Harold Nicolson’s Journey to Java. Excellent, the discursive urbanity.

Philip flourishing, expect him to wake any moment now and bring this entry to an abrupt conclusion.

In the J.C. short story competition the 1st prize of 100 guineas was divided among three entrants, of whom I was not one. Have read two of these prize-winning entries; I give them B+, my own effort on the same scale B-. There is just a possibility that my own story may be published.

Clark now has the completed typescript of B.R.’s book. [God’s Wilderness: Discoveries in Sinai by Beno Rothenberg]. They’re evidently looking around for another translator for B.R.’s other book(s). If they came back to me I’d like to be able to say: O.K., for 4 gns. a thou., but discretion might be the better part of valour; probably one ought to think oneself lucky to have the chance of getting another commission to translate 60-70 M words at £3-3-0 a thou.