Part 57: Thursday, 19th May 1960, 5.40.p.m.

Started at Barnsbury. On the whole, the move has justified itself. I have classes to take which are as difficult as the one I left at Hargrave, but, and I think this will prove decisive, I never have any one class for more than an hour at a stretch, and no class for more than four periods a week. There are difficulties, of course; although I will probably be able to average five free periods a week, I will probably have to spend a couple of hours a week in marking. (I am time-tabled to have seven 35/40 minute free periods and one 1hr. F.P. I also get another 35 minutes sitting in with a class). Today we had off; a bye-election [sic] at the Camden Road school buildings – “glass box” – housing the Upper School (3rd, 4th & 5th years). I am in the Lower School in Eden Grove, a dingy street opposite the Northern Polytechnic. I do a morning and afternoon at Camden Road taking history with three 3rd-yr forms. I found myself reading Trevelyan on Charles II to-day. One of the classes is very dim, but fortunately there are only twenty of them.

To the Trocadero last Sunday for Jennifer Gasson wedding. “Goldener krenk off portzellanen tellern” as my mum says, but, once the initial jam waiting to be greeted by the protagonists was over, one had one’s cup of tea and glass of champagne, and danced to a good band, in comfort. Mum enjoyed herself, tipsy in the car on the way back. She had “a sweet revenge” – Lily spilt a glass of champagne over her (Mum’s) dress.

International situation serious. Khruscheff [sic] has bawled the Summit off; apparently the Yanks sent a U.2 plane spying over Soviet air-space. Rainy to-day, have just given E. a belated hand bathing P. He screams blue murder when you talc and dress him. However, he is now quietly in his cot.

 

Part 56: Wednesday, 20th April 1960, 10.a.m.

Rushed E. off to her 9.30 dentist’s appointment. P. playing quietly in pen (J. gave him his feed, changed him at 5a.m., after which he was quiet till 8.30 or so). Yes, The Caine Mutiny terrific. I was led to the reading of it somewhat deviously. The book, I knew, was a best-seller, the film too. Recently a book, This is My God, by Herman Wouk appeared, from which it seems that H.W. is an Orthodox Jew. H.W. had also written Marjorie Morningstar, also famous, and, I gathered, on the pornographic side. The conjunction of Orthodox Judaism and the ability to write about a mutiny struck me as so remarkable that I got out The Caine Mutiny and, as I say, found myself gripped by it. The closely knit story, the mounting tension leading inevitably to the “mutiny”, the drama of the court-martial scene, superb. I am, obviously, not competent to assess the accuracy of the nautical detail, but the chicanery on board, the young officer “types” were superb. There is absolutely no “Jewish” interest in the book, until the court-martial at the end. I stress this, because it is very rare to find a Jewish author with a deeply Jewish consciousness writing a first-class book of universal appeal. The Jewish touches, when they do come, are brilliant. Greenwald, the Jewish lawyer, defending the mutineer, says (I quote from memory) “He [the President of the Court-Martial] doesn’t like Jews. I noticed the intonation he gave to the name ‘Greenwald’. I have an absolute ear for pitch in these cases. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to love Jews, you just have to give them a fair shake. And we’ll get that.” And Greenwald delivers a convincing apologia for Queeg, the tyrannical ship’s captain, by saying that it was the “regulars” like him, who, notwithstanding the sneers of the intellectuals, ensured that Greenwald’s mum hadn’t been turned into soap with which to wash Goering’s fat behind.