Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 49: Death by trivia

Wednesday 16th December 1959, 8.50 p.m. 

“Edith went to the chiropodist and had her corns sliced off in a most unusual place underneath her foot (??)” – E. gives me my opening entry, which is being made in the kitchen. I have a nagging feeling most of the time that I ought to be keeping up my entries; when I come to make them I find I have only trivia to record.

Still, as I believe I have mentioned before, the journals of many celebrities edited with all the flim-flam flummery appertaining to a monumental work seem to me, often, to be nothing but a collection of trivia. So, as they occur to me – the frail old lady died (her death was trivial, as mine will be – I seem to remember Rilke writing O Herr gib jedem seinen eignen Tod, der grossen Tod, den jeder in sich hat, – I quote from memory, I have the passage in one of my scrap-books – but frankly, I don’t mind the trivial death, the kuhtod – like Heine, Bin kein Held, es fehlen mir Die pathetischen Gebärden [Jetzt wohin?], I’ve “had” my schlachtfeldtod, and I certainly don’t want a Matratzentod, or rather Matratzengrufttod; I kid myself, moreover, I want to live to a ripe old age so that I can see Philip and his Geschwister safely launched into the world), E. & I went to see a French film locally ( I hoping, as I always used to do, that it would be good for my French, and finding, as I always used to, that I picked up nothing,we had our Christmas party at school this afternoon (66 kids, most of them “bubbly”, to use the stock teacher’s expression, managed by Harrow & myself; a bit of a flap, I had no games prepared, couldn’t find, though I have now unpacked all my books, one on party games which I have; only on the way home did the “one finger keep moving” thing occur to me; must try to think of it for the future; Harrow is very capable, but left me for about twenty minutes or more to keep the whole mob at bay while he and four of my girls were washing up plates in the staff-room, and then it was too late to put on the records about which he’d made such a brou-ha-ha previously), nipped out of school, by kind permission of E.S.Burden, Esq., B.Sc. (Econ), this morning to the dentist for a filling and scraping. Letter from Hugh, the easy, bawdy erudition of which, as usual, gave me an inferiority complex. Everybody well, except Mum, who complains of continuous noises in ear. Sad, I feel we ought to have her here, though there would inevitably be friction, I suppose, if she were with us – two women in the house. Meanwhile, one wishes one could pray, as she does, that she can be self-sufficient till her time comes – and this not simply to make life easier for J.W. Philip is a gedille; sturdy, full of fun and joie de vivre; a martinet, knows what he wants & insists on getting it.

Reading Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury, a Lucky Jim type of novel, seedy provincial University setting, excellent. Also The Humbler Creation by Pamela Hansford Johnson, about a Parson who is still a Man (amazingly accurate – it would seem – description of parsonical settings) and Apologia pro Vita Sua. So far, nearly half-way through the latter find it easy reading (on train) but find it difficult to understand what all the excitement was about.