Part 85: Sunday 1st October 1961, 4.35p.m.

Leo Youngerwood’s mother passed away. Mot [?] took Sam [brother] and myself to the funeral at Bushey. Normally, I would have gone to Dinmore House with E. [wife, Edith] and the children; this Sunday Doreen – Alf’s [Edith’s brother]  young lady, more of her anon – would have taken us there in the car. However, Mot took me back home and I had a little shloof (why do we tell Philip to have a little shloof, davvke? – there’s nothing particularly emotive about the word, yet somehow one talks to him, and he repeats “goin’ have a shloof.”) Yes, Doreen – a charming girl…and runs a smart car. A schoolteacher, now teaching infants, but she did have the scholarship class, with which she got fed up. I never reached the heights of taking the scholarship class; well, well. Watch these pages for future developments.

Yesterday I received a piddling little job. A proof slip with the printed characters on it (Hebrew characters): Lama Ha-miklat ha-zeh shonneh mikol ha-acherim? (It’s quicker for me to write be’atiyot latinot than Hebrew proper, in either print or cursive, and this even though I have to think about the transliteration). The printer evidently knew no Hebrew and had got several of the Hebrew characters wrong…Stupidly, I translated Miklat as gramophone record (for which the Hebrew, of course, is Taklit). Incidentally, it’s Maklet, not Miklat. My one-volume all-Hebrew dictionary doesn’t give Maklet, but the five-volume one, an extraordinarily generous and useful gift from my late uncle Menachem, does; it means radio set (as well as telephone receiver). Anyway, I rectified the error. I charged ’em 10/6 –  a purely nominal fee – for what really ought not to have taken more than fifteen minutes from the time of opening [the] envelope and putting mine in our nearby pillar box. The rectifying post-card took another five-ten minutes.

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Part 81: Wednesday 23rd August 1961, 2.20 pm

Was going to say that I was writing this in peace, perfect p; when Alf [brother-in-law] rang, and now Max has awoken from his siesta. However, he is still at the stage of making giant-waking-refreshed-from-his-slumber noises and I may be able to get in a short entry before he demands attention. He now demands attention…resumed 9.20pm.

I suppose I ought to record that the buttock-ankle irritation seems more or less ok now…when I refer to my entry of 14 May, [Part 78] for example, I realise how well off I am.

Have done some translating of press-cuttings (Hebrew) on Orde Charles Wingate. D.F. Long got me the commission – said he wasn’t interested in these “casual” jobs…Perhaps he didn’t realise the extent of the job. I find it comes to 5100 Hebrew words and the Institute of Linguists’ recommended standard rates are from £7-7-0 to £10-10-0 upwards per 1000 words. I have been wrestling with the problems a) what number of words to charge (I can’t count individually 4-5000 words), b) what rate to charge…It’s all very, very sordid. Perhaps I’ll charge @£6-6-0 per 1000 English words, which may seem psychologically less devastating, but as I understand from Alf the English text will run to at least 700 wds, this may be the better bet for me. Ten o’clock, time to retire on this sordid note.

Part 78: Sunday 14th May 1961, 3.25 pm

Situation still grimm. (The misspelling indicative of situation’s grimness). Persistent pain – left ankle, buttock…Saw Pallot again on Friday morning. He was quite helpful: I wouldn’t die, if I was thinking in terms of not being able to carry on for the next eleven years, I should stop worrying..It’s not death one worries about after all, my death would solve my problems and  would constitute less of a problem to E. [wife, Edith Katz] than my inability to continue my job as a schoolteacher. “If I should die” E. gets a lump sum of £1100 – plus the house is fully paid up. I imagine your best course, darling – I’m not being morbid, but one ought to try to prepare for these eventualities – would be to sell the house and try to get yourself into Dinmore House [Council flat where her brother and mother lived]…trying eventually to get a four-bedroom Council flat. I think Alf [brother] should hang on to the Dinmore House flat like grim death…[detailed passage follows on financial/housing options – includes comment that by selling the house a clear “profit” of £800 could be made – see below].

Incidentally, it is very remiss of me not to have made a will. I imagine it would cost anything from 10-20 guineas to make a proper will…Anyway, I doubt whether there would be anything complicated in my estate. I hereby solemnly bequeath everything I own at the time of my death to my wife Edith. I should like to make some dispositions regarding the books; if sold skilfully they might yield £100, but probably the best thing would be get Foyles to make an offer for the lot, or for Jack Mazin to offer for the Jewish books which on reflection must be worth at least £50 alone (N.B The Memoirs of Glückel of Hamelin  in the Yiddish text (printed in Hebrew characters) cost me £5-5-0)….

Peter Jansen-Smith returned Poor Cicero the other day. Will try to flog it to Thames & Hudson, though cannot help feeling prospects of success are remote.

Extraordinary blunder. As the house is “fully paid up” under my “protection policy” with the Liverpool London & Globe Ins. Co. it follows that by selling it a “clear profit” of £3,500 could be made. This sum would yield at least £2-10-0 a week interest, which would pay for the Council flat, …(though I suppose tombstone,etc. would come to about £300-£500 – plain, unonstentatious stone, factual epitaph – another thing I can’t bloody well do, think up a decent epitaph).

Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 38: The first cut is the deepest

Monday 16th February 1959, 9.35 pm

After a lot of telephoning, the Briss [circumcision] took place this morning. Circumcision – practised by savages, we know, but it is ennobled by Jewish religion, the link with Abraham, the practice has been invested with holiness. Mr Winegarten performed the duties of Sandek very ably (must = Syndic I feel sure), Alf [Katz, my mother’s brother] handed the baby to the Mohel with admirable aplomb. I found myself near-blubbing when saying Hinneni muchan – I am here ready to perform the affirmative precept to circumcise my son. It had taken me forty-six years to get here…No more…”Let the father rejoice in him that  came forth from his loins and the mother be glad with the fruit of her womb.” Amen, amen. “And even as he entered the covenant, so may he enter into the Law, the nuptial canopy and good deeds.” Amen, amen. Hard to be an agnostic.

The ceremony could hardly be impressive, with only the four of us present, and the circumcision taking place in a small room at the hospital. But the service has the usual dramatic flair. Upon the arrival of the child who is to be initiated into the Covenant of Abraham, those present at the Ceremony rise and say:-

ברוך הבא [lit: blessed (is he) who comes, i.e; welcome]

A fine opening to life’s drama – but I have an awful suspicion I forgot to say it. Anyway, Chaim Feivish Yisroel Ben Yosef – Blessed be thy coming.

Sam [his brother] seemed a bit better to-day; I hope he’s on the mend. The recurrence of the fainting fits, from which he’d been spared for over three years, is worrying, but he’s going to see his doctor about it. I’m hopeful that with Lily to look after him and his nephew to give him a new interest in life, his health will improve. But he was never robust, and has had more than his share of trouble in his life.

Up early, fortunately, this morning and got two hours Sinai done [translating God’s Wilderness – Discoveries in Sinai] before the telephoning got under way.