Part 54: Thursday, 24th March 1960, 9.30p.m.

Have been officially transferred to Divisional Staff. There has been correspondence between MacGowan, the D.I., and the D.O. and myself, they “noting my willingness to teach general subjects,” I insisting that I want to teach French and English among the “general subjects.” I don’t know whether  my new state (teaching “general subjects” in a secondary school) will be better than my present condition, but I feel I can’t carry on another term with my present class. A humiliating experience the other day. Trying to line the class up quietly in the corridor, before going up to Assembly, I “saw red” when young Kenny Storey – one of my nicer kids – carried on talking after I had yelled at them to keep quiet. I smacked him hard on the bare thigh, with an unexpected reaction. He howled and writhed (he’s a tough footballer, from whom I hadn’t expected it). I took the kids up, and then came down to find the bird had flown. Late in the afternoon Mrs S. came up, not abusive, foul-mouthed, as I had feared, but obviously tensed (I was trying to line up my 30+ 3A & 3B boys ready to go down to P.E., perhaps this was of some psychological advantage, as it perhaps showed that conditions were trying). Anyway, I referred her to Burden. He called me up at 4.30 p.m. & very loyally supported me, “leading” me with Q.C.’s skill (” so you were defying Mr Witriol, weren’t you, Kenny?”). Kenny, to his credit, admitted his guilt (though Heaven knows I have passed over more heinous offences innumerable times) and so the incident was closed. Kenny, I omitted to say, had a bruise on his thigh.

The sort of thing one ought to be able to write up; the aggrieved Mum, the assaulted youth, the young Headmaster, the teacher trembling for his job. However, one hasn’t the ability, c’est tout, but what one ought to have learnt from the incident – and what I think I must try to learn, after over ten years’ teaching, is on no account to strike a pupil, unless “regularly,” i.e., entering punishment, by cane or hand in approved manner, in punishment book. Fortunately, with secondary school kids it will be more difficult to slap them (long trousers), one can push their heads if provoked, but one must just try to platz and platz and platz – and then go home and forget about it. One of the women in the staff room mentioned that there was a Civil Service competition for mature (40-50) entrants – would I not find it more congenial? Salary starts at £700. Out, of course (but if allowances are made for approved experience and one could start at £1000, say – with non-contributory pension – one would certainly think about it). Read The Unspeakable Skipton by – forgotten her name – C.P.Snow’s wife – Monica Chapman? – good; the author manqué scrounging in Bruges ( an unusual milieu, which she does well, with touches of authentic-sounding Flemish).


Part 52: Tuesday, 9th February 1960, 10.00p.m.

Philip’s birthday, marred unfortunately by a spat just now with E. I had gone down to the dining-room, where E. was ironing, intending to give the little woman a little company while making this entry. It would have been better, in the event, had I not gone down, as E. construed my presence, reasonably, I suppose, as an invitation to talk; I was curt, and said if I couldn’t have quiet I might as well go upstairs – “Go upstairs” – and here I am. All very sad, but I’m afraid after the nerve-wracking days I have at school, in which E. seems completely uninterested, while expecting me to manifest an interest in her trivial round, I just find myself unable to maintain control.

The Divisional H.M.I. is due to visit the school on Thursday. Burden has told him I want to teach secondary. Whether the H.M.I. will be able to get me into a secondary school, and whether I shall be better off if I get into one, is a very moot point. Burden has said it was not his policy to saddle teachers with “B” classes over a prolonged period, and, had I not Farbe bekannt, it seems likely he would have given me an “A” class next year. Even so, there would almost certainly be P.E. for all third/fourth year boys, ditto craft, and in spite of the fact that I somehow manage to get 40 boys doing something remotely resembling P.E. and even get some – very little admittedly – passable craft – I feel I might be better off in what would be a purely blackboard jungle in a secondary school.

Feeling a heel. Must go down to try to make peace with E, perhaps by reading her this entry & entry of a year ago.

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.


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.

Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 28: Heads and tales

Tuesday November 11th, 10.05 p.m.

The only comment I have to make on the significance of the date is, characteristically enough, I suppose, is* that I can’t get used to the idea of the two-minute silence being observed on the Sunday before the 11th and the poppies being on sale the Saturday before or earlier.

* E. [Edith Witriol] pointed out the tautology (23/11/56) – such a clever girl!

Changes at Hargrave [primary school]. Miss Hood retired at the end of last half-term. Replaced by Miss Price, a youngish efficient-looking woman with aggressive horn-rimmed specs and an elocutionary voice. Heppell sprang a surprise on us – he had put in for and got another headship, presumably of a larger school. Miss P. is applying for the headship here. Must get used to the idea of a woman head younger than myself. Excellent fodder for the masochism. Hale, too – who has a graded post with us – has got a deputy headship right on his doorstep in Finchley, after being beaten by Miss P. for the Hargrave deputy headship (Heppell played the dirty on him by leading him to believe he stood a fair chance, or rather-better-than-fair-chance. The advert in the L.C.C. Bulletin was for man or woman, with the man’s qualifications custom-built for Hale, but it seems obvious that with no woman holding a graded post on Hargrave’s staff – after Miss Hood’s retirement – the woman candidate would be preferred to a man of equal or even slightly higher ability).

What else. At the end of the Neila service, taking a cup of tea in the hall – took me four/five years to find out about this, quite by chance – I asked Zalkind Stalbow’s grandson (Sammy’s son) where his grandfather was. He had been knocked down by a lorry Erev [the day before]Yom Kippur. He 80+. He was unconscious for several days, I gather. Frankly, I looked in the J.C. [The Jewish Chronicle] obituary columns. However, he made what must have been a remarkable recovery and I visited him at Hornsey Hospital. He said it would be safer for me to write down what I had to say, as the accident had affected his hearing. What did I think of Ben Gurion’s saying to the Jews of the Diaspora we want your money but you mustn’t tell us how to run our State?

A Bar-Mitsva at Selby’s the other Sunday. Benny Miranda’s younger boy. Slightly nauseating. Champagne, liqueurs, cigars, cabaret – vulgar Jewish comedian (though I expect I shall not be above trying to retail [sic?] some of his jokes) and shrill songsters. I saw three photographers “shooting” the boy in his tallis [prayer shawl].

The occasion was memorable for a reconciliation with our long “lost” Balin cousins. I don’t know what our relationship is, or rather what the correct name for it is – second cousins, 1st cousins once removed? I append what I believe to be the tree, so that I may have it handy for reference purposes. Perhaps I may be able to get someone to state authoritatively how the relationship is described. The “rift” started long pre-1939. I don’t know the origin. My mother became broighess with Mrs B. – so Sam [Joseph Witriol’s brother] and I had to follow suit. We met at Simchas,Shivas, but never exchanged a word.

Who's related to who: Witriol and Balin

Who’s related to who: Witriol and Balin

What is the term to express a) the relationship between my mother and “Mr Balin” (Zalman) and b) Mick Balin and myself?

Sam Balin had been a grammar school master in the provinces for many years, had recently come to Hasmonean (I think that’s it – in Edgware [sic!]) school. He came up to mum and — communications were restored. More about all this if I have time later. It’s been a “good” evening – a leisurely meal, Edith quiet as a mouse writing letters — but, it’s 11pm and one doesn’t want to slog away at this.

Read H.E. Bates’ Darling Buds of May. Excellent short picaresque comedy. Practically read Waugh’s Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Good short fantasy (I don’t blame these lads for preferring to write a 40,000 to a 80,000 book). Slight anti-Semitic touches one should note for the Jew-in-English-literature (Pinfold, echt-Englisch, has delusions in which his persecutors refer to him as a Jew, Peinfeld, who bought out an English farmer whose ancestors had worked the land for centuries).

Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 27: On a treadmill to Muswell Hill

Thursday, Oct. 23rd 1958, 9.10pm

Feeling mildly depressed. Probably end-of-half-term feeling. The class is a bit down-getting. One E.S.N. kid – a fat, harmless lump; the others very dim. There’s only 28 of them, and I seem to get my three free periods a week reglar [as spelt], but it’s increasingly becoming a treadmill. Seems difficult to realise I’ve done 9 years of it. I suppose I must set my teeth to another 18½ years. The trouble is, for this type of class one needs to be younger, rather than older. And – this is the last time I shall twist this particular dagger – one needs aptitude (for art or handiwork or music) and training (not “or training” – non-existent aptitudes can’t be trained into being) which I haven’t got.

I don’t know how I managed when Edith was still at work. I now lead a pampered existence – meals waiting for me, no shopping, cleaning to do. But the “leisure” hasn’t enabled me to get any kind of “work” done at all. I suppose if I’d had a commission to do I would have done it.

E. mending my trousers. Absolute silence – electric heater off to eliminate hum it makes when on, sod it – I feel a bit of a swine. The poor girl obviously needs – particularly in her condition – cheering, entertaining.

She’s a good girl. Bought a 14½ gn. nylon “simulation fur” coat – couldn’t have been more thrilled if it had been a 1,000 guinea mink. Incidentally, she clicked for close on £200 from her firm, in addition to about £125 returned superannuation contributions – jolly D of them. E. now has about £500, including £100 which I think should keep, in principle, as a “Dinmore House” [Hackney council flat, where her ?mother lived] reserve. If I had the £800 or so I had in 1951 – I can’t remember whether this included or excluded £500 which Mum gave me, being refund of my allowances to her from about 1945 – we could get a house of sorts. If I had £2,000 I could, with Edith’s £400, get a modest 3 bedroom house in Golders green decorated and furnished to the comfortable, but certainly not opulent standards of Sam & Lily’s [brother and sister-in-law] place.

Probably I shall be able to get £750 from Mum & borrow £250 – 500 from the bank and get a dingy sort of place in Muswell Hill or the drabber part of Highgate.

If one can go by size, and Edith’s family’s tendencies, I shall be a father of twins. Would have been alright 20 years ago, but at 47 I feel a bit too old for this sort of caper. (Forgive me, twins, if ever you read this; your dad does love you and wants you to be happy). (And if he may re-open the bracket, he wants you to have the will-to-work he lacks; if you have it, it should enable you to get somewhere, even with a Muswell-Hill-his-father-was-an-unsuccessful-primary-schoolteacher background.)

Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 7: Soccer succour; bally ballet

This description, from Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life by Susie Harries, of Pevsner’s  Heftchen – notebooks – seems rather apt for Joseph Witriol’s Journal.

Astonishingly detailed and yet incomplete, both authoritative and inconsistent, pedantic and passionate, analytical and unreasonable…

Wednesday 18th September 1957 – 6.15pm

The period of desultory inactivity continues. Took kids for football practice on excellent grass pitch on Parliament Hill Fields on Saturday morning and Monday evening. Exhausting, but vaguely satisfying – a feeling that one is atoning to some extent for one’s classroom deficiencies. And the zest and excitement of the kids infectious – I think I have made a discovery in Bobby Walker – he was everywhere flying around with his shirt flapping outside his shorts. It was gratifying to find Mr Hull confirming my choice of team, with one exception which was in any case “marginal” I think. (Mr H the parent of a boy in 3rd year & of another boy in school team year before last. Mr H lost an eye at football – I remember his coming along to a school football match saying he was really supposed to have gone to hospital for a new glass eye that morning, but football was more important. Yok gannef! Note for hypocrite lecteuryok = goy = gentile. The word yok not in Harkavy’s Yiddish-English dictionary. I think the word is exclusively Anglo-Yiddish, presumably an apocope of “yokel” = but I can’t understand Jewish immigrants to London coming into contact with the word “yokel”. H.L. should be able to find out gannef  for himself; the collocation yok gannef = “what extraordinary people these yoks are!” [An Anatomy of Yiddish gives a different etymology]

Last night with E. [Edith Katz] to ballet at G.G. [Golders Green Hippodrome]. I went more or less to confirm, finally, my anti-balletic prejudice, but I found the entertainment pleasant enough, and Blood Wedding really stirring. (The others Les Patineurs; La Fête Etrange.) Still, I feel now I have seen enough ballet to justify stating my personal reaction to it, and do not think I would make any effort to see another ballet for many years, unless, indeed for the music. This is a purely personal reaction: I am not saying ballet is inferior to literature or drama or music (jolly decent of you Witriol!) but simply there is little I can get out of the pure balletic, or perhaps I should say choreographic element in ballet. After all, I can quote a sentence that has impressed me in a book or play, I can always read the books – including the books of the plays – conveniently, but I can’t quote a pas de deux I have seen (I can quote an aria or the melody of a symphony). Pursuing the analogy, I suppose a balletomane can demonstrate the steps which impressed him/her, and will have a collection of “films of the ballet” which he will always be able to consult.

Sunday 29th September 1957 – 6.20pm

E. chez moi yesterday. I told her – she did not know – I was divorced; I also spilled the detailed beans, more or less, of the divorce [ … ] E. seems a good girl in the old fashioned sense of the word, and I’m sure she could make some man happy. If I were sure I could make her happy I’d ask her to make me happy – though here we get involved in call-no-man-happy taradiddle. And I still can’t make up my mind whether I ought to marry. If I could be certain I could not have children the sensible thing would seem to be to stay put; I could then be certain, at least, of ruining no one else’s life, and there is a certain element of smugness in my present existence. These meanderings are getting me nowhere. back to realities –

We, i.e. Hargrave Park J.M. School football team, drew their first two matches. Yesterday’s was really, I think, a win for us. The opposing team scored their equaliser possibly a second or two after I should have blown the whistle. Comes of leaning over backwards to be fair. Had I blown up before the ball went through I’m pretty sure Phillips – “their” master – would have said: There were another ten seconds/quarter of a minute to go when you blew, just as we were obviously going to score. With E. to The Story of Esther Costello. Moving, the restoration of the heroine’s sight, hearing and speech following on the shock of her rape by the villain, raises, if plausible, an interesting ethical point.

Took kids’ services on both days Rosh Hashanah [the Jewish New Year]. The services scrappy, painfully so. I told the kids, on the second day, that the “I remember the lovingkindness of thy youth” passage came in the Haftara [reading from The Prophets], for which untruth may I be forgiven. I maftired, [recited the Haftara] not too badly. Anyway, another practice of the notes with Sam, [brother] and I shall be prepared to do any maftir on ten minutes’ notice.

Joseph Witriol’s Journal – Part 4: Goethe mirth; Khayyám l’chaim

Tuesday 11th June 1957 – 10.20 p.m.

The party was, unexpectedly, a success. Richard [Stern] and Merton [Sandler] both most helpful – the former in fixing all the – to me – formidable technicalities involved in getting his turntable to function in combination with Emms’s [landlord and landlady] wireless-set – it had to be his, as it had a pick-up (is there no escape from sex?), unlike mine. Merton, somewhat to my surprise turned the charm on Betty, who was a feme sole for the evening – he explained afterwards that this was because she was an “anti-Semite with a typically Welsh village outlook.” Not wholly untrue – though she not really anti-Semitic so much as sensing that the Jews are an alien body. Perhaps unfortunate she should have been plunged straight from her Welsh village into Stamford Hill, of all places. Contact with Jews is best made, perhaps, by slow stages. However, Merton had no right to spin her a line about his “friend Jerry” who “might be able to fix her up with part-time modelling” – I shall have to suffer for that.

There was a little dancing, in spite of Emms’s veto. He was out – just as well. Richard canoodled with Joan – a nice, sexy kid of 24 or so – Pat had eyes for no-one except her Ron, and Merton subsequently deserted Betty for Jan – but he had given Betty a good, long break. party broke up about 1a.m; Merton very helpfully taking the Hampstead people home and then coming back for Betty.

Wednesday 12th June 1957 – 10.30 p.m.

Neither Richard’s nor Merton’s bottle of wine had been started on, though in my ignorance (at 45!) I had uncorked each, not realising that once the bottle was uncorked it would have to be drunk, as Merton told me, within a few days. Merton came in last night to help me drink up the bottles, but in the event proved unusually abstemious. After he left, about midnight – I failed to put over my Trunken-müssen-wir-alle-sein/Jugend-ist-Trunkenheit-ohne-Wein line – he has no German ( I have even less pathology – fair enough) – I sat up till one-ish gently sozzling myself. Result, I was not up till nearly midday to-day, and was only able to wrest my target of six hours work with difficulty. However, I have wrested it. Must really endeavour to stick to a minimum of six hours in every “school” week (40 weeks, but it is permissible to “average” — no, never less than six hours in any week; well, hardly ever), 15 hours in each of eight vacation weeks – leaving 4 weeks spare for actual holidays. Does not seem a difficult target, but surprisingly hard to achieve in practice. Perhaps, in addition to my 2-3 evenings-a-week stint, I could get in an hour every Mon-Thur morning 8-9 am. This would give me a “reserve” against the cruel winter months when taking football with the kids will consume much time and energy. 12/6/57 Janáček 6hrs 13/6/57 Janáček 2.5hrs [red text at the end of entries indicates time spent on writing/translating work]

16/6/57 – 11.40 p.m.

Richard shtootsed in with Joyce – very pleasant, but, as a result, only – 16/6/57 Janáček 2hrs 18/6/57 1.5hrs

19/6/57 – 1.45 p.m. 

My application to join local tennis club politely turned down by the honorary secretary – I had two knock-ups. It would be easy to read anti-Semitism into this, but it seems undeniable that 1) my play compared with the club’s men members is definitely weak, 2) the club is full – so that the rejection seems fair enough. Anyway, I save about ten guineas directly, and more than that in time saved which I can devote to translating and in which I would not be spending money drinking in the club bar (though I may well devote some of the cash thus saved to laying in a stock of beers – refreshing on a summer’s eve). And – as I just said to Merton – one must not make a Dreyfus affair out of every incident of this kind unless 1) one’s facts are incontrovertible, 2) the issue is important, not trivial as here. Janáček 1.75hrs 19/6/57

24th June 1957 – 5.45 p.m. 

A very enjoyable evening at the Kedassia, celebrating the Bar-mitsva of David, Cissie Stalbow’s boy. Cissie, I realised when it was too late, is one of the girls I could and should have married, but didn’t. Old man Stalbow, her father, aetat. 79, squat, sturdy, spoke excellently in English. Geoffrey, Cissie’s brother spoke well too. At table he was his usual outrageous, punning self (“bet you she sleeps with me and not with you to-night”, etc). His wife, Hélène, I should have liked to marry, but do not delude myself I could have married. I found her still – I suppose she is in or near her middle thirties now – pretty, delightfully spoken, impeccably (not dowdily, not aphrodisiacally) dressed. As always, she adores Geoffrey –  a sound, apparently solid type (though he too, perhaps, may have moments of depression, misgiving – I don’t know). Henry Shaw spoke well, too. I saw “Pop” Goldenberg – I think of him always as “Pop”, as we knew him when he was President of the A.Y.Z.S., [Association of Young Zionist Societies – see this post also] a job he managed to do – successfully – while holding down a job as chemist with Lyons and getting a first in chemistry at Birkbeck. He’s now with M&S getting about £2000 a year, I understand. Has a delightful boy, Philip, not yet Bar-mitsva. Edith, his wife, Pop tells me, is a gold-medallist or something ballroom dancer, but she doesn’t dance with him, for which he doesn’t blame her – he treads on her toes. Henry Shaw in his speech spoke of the “great” days of the A.Y.Z.S. – not by any means saugrenu – he instanced Eban [Aubrey] and Herman. The latter, Pop told me, has had two thromboses, has arthritis, smokes sixty cigarettes a day.Also present, Yehudit née Kozubei, with a nice husband “Jock,” whom (Yehudit) I remember as a temperamental child whom I used to get to sing for Heatid [the Brixton Young Zionist Society]. She is now a very presentable, intelligent, sophisticated (in the best sense) woman – her daughter is entering training college. Alas, what boots it to repeat, how time has slipped beneath my feet – nor can my to-day be described as sweet by any stretch of imagination. 24/6/57 Janáček 2.5hrs  25/6/57 Janáček 3hrs

27th June 1957 – 9.45 p.m.

An unusually “good” evening this evening.  Three hours good work on Janáček, largely because of unusual quiet above – I think the Lams [?landlord] are definitely trying to co-operate in re wireless noise. There was only the roaring motor-bike to contend with – I suppose I must stifle my urge to lean out of the window and shout: “Can’t you play somewhere else with that motor-bike.” Strangely enough, too, I enjoyed an exceptionally good night’s sleep last night. Only two or three “visits” in spite of the fact that I had “zhlokhit” pints of cold drinks at Sam’s and here. A letter from Aubrey Eban! It is short, so I can quote it in full: “Dear J.W.( a bit cuntish – I shall certainly reply “Dear Aubrey”), I see from the Jewish Chronicle that you are now a reviewer of books – and therefore worthy of an author’s propitiation. This – together with nostalgia for Kennington Road – has moved me to renew contact across the years and oceans.” The letter was addressed to me c/o the J.C. No comment for the present. I polish my shoes, wash up, prepare to-morrow’s breakfast, and relax – I hope – with a coffee and biscuits – bugger the diet – and Commentary just arrived and/or The ListenerJanáček 3hrs  27/6/57 Janáček 3hrs 30/6/57

Cumulative Translation Time April-May-June 1957 83hrs of which Janáček 43.25

Monday, July 1st 1957 – 10.45 p.m.

Today was an “occasional closure” at Hargrave Park [Archway primary school]. I rang up the office to “make up” a day (i.e. make-up a day taken off for a Jewish holiday) but the office did not need me. Which seems to show the office is an ass – surely even a fully-staffed school could have benefited by my being able to give some teacher or teachers a free or some free periods. However, I managed to put the day to fairly good use. I put in six hours on Janáček. (Had I known in advance I would have had to-day off, I would in all probability either have rambled – not doing so has saved me about 12/-, and given me a chance to get some errands done – or, got up late, irritable, and, even if I had succeeded in doing my six hours, would not have been able to listen all through Tennessee Williams’s Glass Menagerie . The story of a crippled girl with her Southern-belle mother was moving, but surely no girl in America would go without working? The indigestion the business college gave Laura is plausible, perhaps – though again, surely, the plain girl, or the girl who “sees the writing on the wall,” for whatever reason, reacts by swotting all the harder, or by concentrating on the job or career?

Richard came round on Saturday evening, when I had settled down to start working. He was glad to find me in, as he “hadn’t spoken to a soul all day.” This scourge of loneliness.  I can’t blame Mum for saying – she says it far less often than she used to, though the facts are unchanged; if anything, she has fewer opportunities of speaking – de gantse tog ob ekh nisht de lippen tseegenemmen – I haven’t parted my lips all day – interesting how tseenemmen should mean “part” in Yiddish (have just confirmed in Harkavy that tseenemmen does mean to take apart). Incidentally, Mum returned fit and well from her ten days, by herself, in Southend. The cat seems to have been bashed about in her absence. Mum said it was a rachmooness [mercy] on a tserbelle khayim – the latter a most interesting phrase, a syncopation of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim – the “sorrow of possessors of life,” literally; the abstract Hebrew term being given the concrete meaning in Yiddish of “dumb friend.” 1/7/57 Janáček 6hrs  6/7/57 3hrs 8/7/57 2.75hrs

Tuesday July 9th 1957 – 10.20 p.m.

Recollected in tranquility, the last few days seem – as they usually do – a blank. Each hour with its own problems, its own vexations, its own difficulties – but all forgotten. Meno male [a favourite Italian expression].  Merton with me to Mum – Sam and Lily [dad’s brother and sister-in-law] also present – for Erev Shabbes [Sabbath eve, i.e. Friday evening]. Merton fairly subdued, but a pleasant evening. He said he was very impressed with Mum. Allowing for conventional flattery, the fact remains that for 75 – which Mum must now be – she was remarkable: gay, lively, spontaneously witty. A blue-bottle got caught in a candle and roasted to death. Mum – straightway: Nu, de nessamme toikef [?writing unclear] iz off ess ohsgegungen. [See, the [?] soul has been snuffed out] On Sunday evening Sam and Lily had a cluster of Winegartens [Lily’s maiden surname] round, continuing the reception at “Wembley Tunnel” [Town Hall] for the Asher Blau  —  ? Boxer wedding. Some thirty people fressing salt-beef and miniature sausages, but no crowding, although the house was small. Eli Scwarz, whom I remember from Stamford Hill, there with June Blau, Asher Blau’s sister (I think I have it right). June more-than-plump, fat, though not repulsively so, with teeth-brace, but Eli – froom [religiously observant] – is probably on a good thing. She herself is froom, and seems pleasant ( a primary schoolteacher – like myself – she observed she would like to lay in the garden, but perhaps one shouldn’t make too much of this). Although a number of “intellectuals” present – Asher Winegarten, who has top statistical job with N.F.U. and his Ph.D. (in French) wife – Asher Fishman, solicitor, Warden of Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue – the meeting seemed to be dominated by one Alec (I think ! or was it that he reminded me, in appearance, of Alec Sugarman?) who effectively did not allow even Asher Winegarten to get a word in edgeways. “Alec” a Hogarthian, Baron Munchausen figure – I got a hundred people visas for Brazil during the war, etc; the Ambassador called for us in his C.D. car, our domestic showed us over her château when we were in Switzerland. I talked with Asher Winegarten’s father – a fine type: orthodox, sensible, manly – I believe English-born (he went to Jews’ Free School).