by Margaret Taylor, age 18 years
Covers March to November, 1933
Meg is expecting to be in her last year at Clifton High, until she is offered a bursary to stay another year. Important exams for Higher Certificate. Many friends and a favourite teacher leave in July at the end of the year. Beginning to feel the struggles of adulthood, more moral musings, an ordeal at the dentist.
- Wednesday March 1st 1933
- Sunday April 9th 1933
- Tuesday May 2nd 1933
- Saturday May 27th 1933
- Wednesday June 7th 1933
- Saturday July 1st 1933
- Thursday July 13th 1933
- Tuesday July 18th 1933
- Thursday July 27th 1933
- Sunday July 29th 1933
- Monday, August 21st 1933
- Monday, October 31st 1933
- Saturday, November 28th 1933
Wednesday March 1st 1933
It is a long time since I wrote last, but nothing exciting has happened really. It is now the middle of the Easter term – my last Easter term! At the end of next term I leave. Probably to go to Bristol University. I don’t know whether I want to leave or not. I certainly love school, but I also want to hurry up and learn to be a doctor, and start work properly.
I’ve got to try to get a scholarship from somewhere. I’m going in for the State Scholarship with the higher cert. but it is a pretty hopeless chance as there are only 300 schols. and thousands and thousands of people going in for it. Perhaps I might get a Bristol schol. into the university or a grant or something.
Alan will probably be going in at the same time. We were talking about this the other day. Mum said Alan found working much more difficult than I did, and I was rather annoyed (I didn’t show it though!) I suppose he does find it more difficult, but it seems rather that if he does well it is wonderful, and that if I do – well of course I like working so I ought to be good. I know it is a pretty rotten attitude, and I think I’m rather proud of liking work really. Though perhaps I don’t like work, I don’t quite know. I’ve got an itch (to put it crudely) towards knowing interesting things and I love digging out mines of information and feeding on them. If I settle down to physics or chemistry or biology I enjoy doing it, but I don’t always enjoy settling down!
We have been going to the theatre lately. We went to the panto – Robinson Crusoe – and a little while ago we went to Peter Pan, with Jean Forbes Robertson in it, marvellous; and last Friday Jean and Ken took me to Wellington, with Matheson Lang.
About a week ago, Noel came down and stayed with us for a few days. He is awfully funny and quite out of place here. He spent most of his time in the Zoo, and also went over Will’s and to the pictures practically every night. His chickens are paying, though not very much I think. He is incubating a batch of chickens now – I wish I could go down to Paignton and see them.
Last Tuesday (yesterday) there was a fancy dress party at school given by Miss Phillips. It is a sort of leaving present because she is going at the end of next term. We had a jolly fine time, and danced most of the time. I borrowed Mum’s shoes, and the heels were a bit high and made my feet sore, so my legs were all stiff during the netball match against Colston this afternoon. Anyway we won so it didn’t matter.
I have just written out something for the school magazine. I will give it in tomorrow. It would be topping if it managed to get in. It’s fairly good I think, but not wonderful by any means. It will probably be rejected, though very kindly I hope.
It’s very late, and there is an 8:30am hockey practice tomorrow for the form match on Friday, so
(P.S. My thing for the mag. was accepted.)
Sunday April 9th 1933
I have just discovered that my fountain pen is missing. I’m not sure whether I have left it at school, or whether I have used it these hols.
We broke up on April 5th and the weather has been glorious since then. On Thursday, Jean, Joan, Pat and I went for a hike across the bridge. It was great fun, we picked tons of daffodils in the ‘daffodil field’ and also some white and purple violets, which smelt topping. We picked up a stray farmer’s dog, and in the end had to leave him at the police station. We got back about half-past-eight. It was dark, and Mum was rather anxious. I felt a rotter for being late and worrying her, and am resolved to get back early on Wednesday, when we are going for another hike with Flea and Audrey.
Work is progressing fairly favourably. I came a cropper in Chemistry this term, but mean to work hard these hols, so I won’t get overdone next term by last minute cramming! Somehow none of my carefully planned work in the hols has materialised, but it is really going to these hols – it just must!
Last term Miss Phillips offered Jean and me a bursary for next year. This means staying on another year, trying for a scholarship next spring Term, and taking London first M.B. in the Summer term following. It all means plenty of hard work, and I am a little doubtful whether my accepting ( I hadn’t much option, Miss Phillips kindly decided for me) the cricket captaincy next term will spoil my work rather. Anyway it’s settled now, and it will give me a jolly nice break from work.
I am rather looking forward to beginning my career of medicine, and am sure it is what I am best suited for. Alan is having a hard job deciding what to do. Dad is taking him to the Institute of Industrial Psychology these hols, and it has been great fun filling up all the mysterious forms, about his character and so on.
I am just beginning to grow up now, and wonder what the world means, and all the mysteries and horrors and beauties of it. It is coming true about those dire sayings of grown ups that ‘you have to struggle against the world’, and ‘you will have to suffer’ etc. It all seemed so remote and unlikely when I was smaller, but I think I am beginning to see part of the meaning of the ‘struggle’. It is a struggle to keep clean, when you are surrounded by mud, a struggle to stop making mud-pies when you should be brushing the dirt off yourself and other people, and of always remembering to pull up and think whether you have got dirty again since you last washed yourself. Some people are born and brought up to keep clean, and it’s not so difficult for them, but for most of us it is a continual struggle until you have the habit of cleanliness, and then it is easier and comes naturally. The world helps you not to get filthy, but it also tries to stop you getting absolutely clean – it seems to like faun-coloured people, and that is not good enough.
It is so easy to make good resolutions, and go forth radiant with them into the world. But the world remains the same work-a-day world that it was before you made your resolutions, and you forget them and go on in your own old work-a-day way. It is so easy to go on in the world in the same old way, and it’s so hard to get out of your well-worn rut, from the company of so many neighbours, and go along some different way where you have to keep pricking yourself to prevent you wandering absentmindedly back to your original niche. Man is full still of the primitive ‘herd instinct’ in all matters of morals, and those who depart from the herd are mostly those who have lagged behind, and keep writing startling books to drag back some more misguided creatures to keep them company.
When I have listened to music it has seemed to tell me something of the beauty and ugliness of life. It has stirred my emotions, like it stirred Alan’s when he started crying a few nights ago after hearing some of Chopin’s music and his life. Jim also just departed in time to hide his feelings, and Alan set me and Mum off, so it shows that music is powerful. I shall always remember Dad patting Alan’s shoulder, and saying ‘We are glad you feel it like that.’ His voice was a bit wobbly, and he said it so kindly that I loved him more then than I think I have ever done.
But it must be more than just emotions that are affected. That affect is not lasting, and serves little practical value. I am reading ‘Joan and Peter’ by H.G.Wells, and he has made me grateful beyond words for my opportunity of education. It must make me get the habit of cleanliness, as well as the power and determination to do all I can for the good of my community.
 Joan and Peter – the Story of an Education. Published 1918. Available online at http://archive.org/stream/joanandpetersto03wellgoog#page/n8/mode/2up
Tuesday May 2nd 1933
I am back at the old bad habit of writing in bed. Perhaps the writing will announce the fact even if I had not said so. (English!)
Tomorrow Alan goes back for his last term at the College. The report from the psychology people has not come through yet, although it is now overdue. I hope it will be helpful when it does come, because nobody can think of anything which seems at all possible, or which inspires him at all. It seems at present as if he will go on with engineering and hope to get a post at Filton aerodrome.
On Thursday, Pat and I go back to school. This term will be a bit rough going for me – cricket captain and Higher Cert. I will only hope I don’t get a run of headaches like I have been having lately; goodness knows why – unless it is tennis.
That mention of headaches makes me feel guilty. I don’t want to seem to be airing my ailments too frequently. I hate people who do that. A few days ago I was reading a letter of mine home to Mum and Dad written when I was in London, and I said something about having rotten headaches. When I read it I felt awfully angry, or rather I despised myself for whining about headaches.
Still, I do like thinking about my ills to myself, and airing my grievances does console me, although it must never be done to other people, although if you have a sympathetic listener it is a great temptation.
These hols. I have played tennis quite a lot at the Club in Beaufort Road. My tennis has improved quite a lot, but my social behaviour has not. When there are more than eight people up there those not playing sit in deck chairs, and carry on polite conversation – here I fade out. To right and left of me ladies chatter about what they do with the baking sheet, how often they wash their tennis frocks, what hair shampoo is best, what ‘she’ said to ‘him’ and whom has ‘she’ ‘cultivated’ recently. A heated discussion as to whether ‘she’ could ring up a casual boy acquaintance who was seriously ill, merely bored and aggravated me. It is so silly.
Why cannot people behave according to common sense, not tied up and hedged round with a hundred and one conventionalities, formalities, superstitions etc. This sounds sensible, yet why cannot I behave rationally when playing in a set with a young boy? Why do I bother what he thinks about me, or speculate upon it; why do I behave better and am more willing to make myself useful in front of strangers than I am at home?
I am all at sea even at the club. Surrounded with conversation about knitting, housecraft, ‘she’s and ‘he’s I sit, silent and apparently aloof. It sounds very poetical and interesting, but it isn’t. I don’t feel happy, although I try to persuade myself that it is not my fault, and I am above them mentally. I must either be as aloof as I know I must appear, or manage not to appear so at all. At present I remain silently aloof, yet longing not to be. I don’t find it easy to make friends, or rather acquaintances, and I find I am not pretty enough for people to overlook any backwardness in this direction. I am not made for society, and mean to leave it well alone. Yet Alan and Dad go chatting their way about, surrounded, but not swamped by, four or five ladies. I just crawl away – I am always on the outside of any row I find myself in – and hide in a book, which even if I don’t read it, provides some excuse for not talking to anyone.
Dash it all! But there are lots of consolations. I like Guiding, and Jean and I have thoroughly enjoyed helping Connie Poulder with her company down in Bristol. It is really worthwhile work, not superficial small talk but serious and important. It builds, or helps us to build the characters of those poor children who otherwise would have mostly bad influences moulding them.
Then, serious-mindedeness is needed in work – school work and training to be a doctor. And as I am going to be a doctor, I am glad I am seriously minded, and not frivolous.
I am feeling increasingly glad that I am a woman and not a man. The reason for this is the same that biased me in the opposite direction when I was younger – women do much more self-sacrificing work, are altogether more unselfish and thoughtful for others than men. I used to envy men their easy post, but, as happens most often, the hardest way is decidedly the best. As long as I keep the big things right the little things should not worry me.
Saturday May 27th 1933
I have recently dug up my second diary book – the one before this – and reading it has sharpened my determination not to stop writing now and then. It seems queer to me now that I wrote what is in that diary; it doesn’t read as if it was written by me at all in some parts. But it is awfully interesting, and has reminded me of tons of little things I had forgotten, and brought my life of five years or so ago back very vividly to my memory. It will be extremely interesting to read this diary when I am middle-aged because I am now writing exactly what I feel at the moment, not to an audience.
Last night Jean, Joan and I went to Prince’s Theatre to see “The White Horse Inn”. It was simply glorious, and we enjoyed it immensely, although we went in the gallery, and were therefore perched most precariously and uncomfortably, and surrounded by ginger-beer bottles, oranges and apples!
It is queer how absolute – well, contempt or at any rate a strong sense of superiority and aloofness – takes possession of anybody finding himself surrounded by people belonging to an inferior class. It needs all your powers of reasoning, telling yourself that they are fellow creatures possessing minds and sentiments akin to your own, to overcome the almost instinctive dislike of their presence and proximity. It is all the nasty, selfish, underhand things which come naturally to average people, and so the kind, unselfish, broad-minded tolerant view has to be carefully continuously and almost unendurably cultivated. It is perhaps the very difficulty of the task which makes following Christianity worthwhile and so valuable. If a sudden jump into Heaven could be made, the vast majority of people would gather themselves together and make the leap, but it isn’t managed that way. To get to Heaven is a life’s work, and everything else must be subordinated. It is not an easy life’s work either, but a perpetual, never-ending relentless struggle, and if you lie down for a rest you slide down away from the path, and unless you wake up pretty soon, and you have to wake yourself up, you are miles away and in dense jungle by the time you come to your senses.
My metaphors are getting mixed!
Just before the beginning of this term I had my hair cut to almost an Eton crop. I got the idea from the VI Form play in which I was a butler, and therefore brushed my hair back behind my ears. The whole family approved of the change, but those of my school friends whom I met before term began did not seem to like it. Going back to school was almost agony for the first two or three days. I knew everybody was noticing my hair, and only the knowledge that I and my family liked it the new way kept me from longing to have it back to bobbed again. However all bad days come to an end, and now everybody is quite used to the change, and I am glad I did it.
Today was to have been the great cricket match of the year – Cheltenham. But it had to be scratched because it absolutely pelted all this morning. Of course it was the first wet day for almost a week, and there is a good forecast for tomorrow!
I am finding my responsibilities of cricket captain as well as going in for the Higher Cert. rather overpowering this term, and I would probably have overdone it and got a series of my particular headaches if it had not happened that Alan developed German Measles last week, and therefore I will be in quarantine from tomorrow for a fortnight, and will have to stay at home. This will give me a good rest from rushing about arranging things at the last minute, and remembering or trying to remember things I should have done already and have forgotten. Also it will provide me with a most useful and leisurely time in which to work and revise thoroughly for the exam. I only hope I don’t get German Measles though! Miss Phillips said I could play for the Form against the Staff on Wednesday if I kept separate. She is a sport! Goodnight!
 (from Wikipedia) Im weißen Rößl (English title: White Horse Inn or The White Horse Inn) is an operetta or musical comedy by Ralph Benatzky and Robert Stolz in collaboration with a number of other composers and writers, and set in the picturesque Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria. It is about the head waiter of the White Horse Inn in St. Wolfgang who is desperately in love with the owner of the inn, a resolute young woman who at first only has eyes for one of her regular guests. Sometimes classified as an operetta, the show enjoyed huge successes both on Broadway and in the West End (651 performances at the Coliseum starting 8 April 1931) and was filmed several times. In a way similar to The Sound of Music and the three Sissi movies, the play and its film versions have contributed to the saccharine image of Austria as an alpine idyll—the kind of idyll tourists have been seeking for almost a century now. Today, Im weißen Rößl is mainly remembered for its songs, many of which have become popular classics.
Wednesday June 7th 1933
The fortnight of my quarantine is almost up now, and I shall be glad in many ways to go back to school. I have done much less work than I originally meant and should have done, but a fury (?) will arrive tomorrow and that will absolve me from all my sins!
We lost the match against the Staff hopelessly last Wednesday, but it was great fun! Miss Tate, Miss Spencer, Miss Spear and Miss Cook all made tons of runs. I bowled Miss Spear! But she bowled me too, and I only made 2. Altogether they made 125 and we made 78. I had to keep away, but they came very near and so I did not feel lonely or anything, it was rather fun being an ‘outlaw’. Before they went all the Staff came and thanked me – because I was captain – and I felt very honoured and slightly bewildered!
I have been knitting a great deal lately and as a result have supplied Daddy and Jim with a pair of grey socks each, and Jim with a pair of short tennis socks. I am hard at work now knitting a little frock for Mrs. Sissons’ new baby boy that was born last night about 6 o’clock. She and Mr. Sissons are awfully bucked that it is a boy, as they were afraid it would be a girl, as all Mrs. Sissons’ family seem to be girls.
For the last week or so it has been stiflingly hot, and almost too hot to sit in the sun in the garden. We have got two permanent tickets for the West of England tennis tournament and yesterday Mum and I went. We were nearly fizzled up to nothing but saw some awfully good tennis. A Mr. Wheatcroft was awfully good, and has a service like a thunder-bolt. Vere and Tony King just won their doubles match, and Vere is doing very well in the singles. We saw Miss Stammers too, she plays beautifully, but I don’t like her. We mean to go again tomorrow.
Saturday July 1st 1933
We got back from Cheltenham about 8 o’clock. We had been playing them at cricket, an ‘A’ team, and we lost, of course! 104 to 69. I made 6 and took 2. This season I have been doing fairly well, I have made a 36 and a 34. Miss Phillips says she is pleased with the cricket this summer, so things in that way aren’t so bad. But, unfortunately, I do not like my vice – Peggy Heaven. She is very confident and bossy, and tries to have her own way in everything. We have had a slight clash, and are not on the best of terms, although this is not visible outwardly. I should not wonder though if we have a thorough bust-up soon. I shall not let her boss the cricket, anyhow.
I have got through the first round of the singles tennis championship by beating Janet Harris by 8-4, but I shall lose the next round, as I have got to play Cherry Peters who is vice tennis captain. I mean to get at least one game anyhow.
The physics practical exam is next Tuesday. I really cannot make myself believe that it is quite so soon. I shall have to work hard at it tomorrow. We actually did extra physics practical on Friday afternoon; I think Miss Gare was pleased with us for asking for it.
Last Monday we were shown over the College labs. by Mr Babcock. He was wfully nice, and the labs. are wonderful – the best in England. It will be very strange doing the exam in a foreign lab. though.
The rest of the papers begin on the 17th. Ugh! How mean, and I have tons to learn. It does not matter tremendously luckily if I don’t do very well, and I am afraid I won’t.
Auntie Isa has promised me her microscope. That save s about £10 – £15. It is coming as soon as anyone Auntie Isa knows comes to England.
Good-night! I am tired.
Thursday July 13th 1933
This Thursday is the Thursday before the Monday which means the beginning of the exam! This may sound a little complicated, but unfortunately is at present very clearly in my mind. I do not know half of the things I should, but will have to learn up to the last moment as usual. Fortunately there is only one exam a day except for the first day, so there will be quite a lot of time for revision while the exams are going on. We begin with Mechanics and Chemistry I – an unlucky and probably rather depressing start, but we hope for the best!
The Physics practical took place on July 4th, a Thursday. We four, Eileen Knox, Joan, Jean and myself went to the college for it. It was not at all bad as practicals go, but the questions were rather long, and I did not finish either of them. I should think I might get 50-60% on it. That would be a pass alright. We might hear the results before the end of term; that depends on whether the examiner sends our results as well as the boys’ to the college, who always get their results earlier than anybody else. It seems ages since the practical, I had quite forgotten about it.
On Saturday there are first and second XI matches against Bath Royal. This will be the last first XI match this season, and as we have actually not lost a proper first eleven match this season yet we are naturally rather anxious abut it. The only match we have lost was an ‘A’ team against Cheltenham and all our best people could not play because they were playing tennis. We have lost two colts’ matches, but I have disowned the colts, so I don’t count that. Altogether we have had rather a record cricket season. We beat the Old Girls for the first time for ages on Monday. I made 19, after the first four had come out for ducks, and Pam Cook made 44 and Barbara Hill 29, and we won by 110 for 8 to 80. Also two people have made 50 and got bats. Biddy Abbot is giving one for Saturday. We’ll have to see about it!
Tuesday July 18th 1933
I am pleased to say that the ‘great Monday’ has arrived and passed leaving me still alive, though wondering why.
I knew the beginning – mechanics – would be awful, and I was certainly right; it was awful. Even Miss Gare said the paper was a beastly one, and we are all rather depressed about it. Miss Gare, on hearing that I had attempted seven questions, said that I would get through all right! I told her some of the attempts were hopeless, but she replied that they probably were not, judging by my usual way of attacking questions. She must have been feeling very overcome I should think; Miss Gare distributing compliments is a most rare sight.
The Chemistry I paper was fairly nice. I expect I got about 60% on it which is an easy pass, but I don’t think I could have got more than 45 or 50% on the mechanics.
This morning we had Biology I – botany. It was really quite a nice paper. I rather enjoyed it. I think I may have got about 70% for it. Naturally my best subject is the only one in which it is impossible to get a distinction.
I should have liked to get one distinction but I’m sure that that is absolutely impossible with either chemistry or physics. Miss Allen mentioned something about Jean and me trying for State Schols next year from Higher by taking just main Botany and Zoo. but I cannot imagine myself doing nothing but Biology. Anyway I think I’m rather good at Physics and Chemistry though I know Miss Gare and Miss Denny think otherwise, and distinctions in those two subjects are considered next to impossible to get.
It will be rather fun next term with just Jean and me. We will probably have lots of private lessons, though I do hope we won’t have tons of free periods, they absolutely bore me. I do hope Miss Glenday will be nice, I expect so. The school will be awfully funny without Miss Phillips.
I forgot last time I wrote to mention the Old Girls’ Dinner at the Zoo on July 8th, Rose Day, to bid farewell to Pips, and present her with a rather handsome cheque. She has had absolutely tons of presents from ever so many people. It must be very nice to be known and loved by as many people as she is.
The dinner was a full dress affair. Arrayed in our glad rags we assembled, and the Sixth went to their table in the balcony. Of course it immediately began to pelt like anything, and kept it up until the rain was dripping steadily through the canvas awning and splashing over our beautiful dresses. Finally we retreated ‘en bloc’ for peace and dryness in the ground floor where another table was laid for us . But evidently peace was not for us. We, on false alarms or no alarms at all left our dinners and bolted upstairs whenever we thought a toast was being drunk or a speech begun. In the end we mostly had nearly all our dinner, missed the toasts, but got all the speeches except the first one. It was a fairly nice dinner as these things go, but I certainly don’t enjoy them. Perhaps because of my distressing ugliness. If I were beautiful I should probably revel in them.
Anyway the dinner gave me a lovely headache which lasted till Monday with such vigour that I spent all the morning lying down in Miss Tate’s room. I played in the Old Girls’ match though in the afternoon, and the headache went on Tuesday.
The match against Bath Royal last Saturday was scratched, so nobody got Biddy Abbot’s bat. The last match this season has therefore been played, and the only match we lost was the ‘A’ team against Cheltenham/ The first XI has not been beaten this season. Hurrah! My average is 16.3, and |I head the bowling averages with …. (blank)
I am collecting coupons from the Daily Express for classics. You get 12 books for 7/6. Not bad is it? I am sending for the first set of 4 tomorrow. I hope they will be nice. They will almost double my library, when I have got them all! No exam tomorrow!
Thursday July 27th 1933
We had our last exam this morning. It was Zoology, and the nicest paper we had,excepting perhaps botany. Altogether, if only I have managed to get through the mechanics I expect I will pass all right, but I have not done awfully well as I did so long to. I have done the biology best, easily, and might, perhaps, have got near a distinction, but, naturally, they don’t give them for biology. The results come out on September 7th, so I am going to try to forget all about it until then.
José Cook has just heard the result of her exam. She did not get in. She was the 360th person out of 1200, but only the first hundred got in. It was some kind of Civil Serviced job. Anyhow she does not seem to have any second string, and I don’t know what she will do. It is rotten luck for her, and she is awfully clever too. I have got to know José fairly well. Being Head Girl I suppose she considers it her duty to know all her form. Anyway we have several times been out for walks together, and she has come to tea etc. We both are supposed to be clever, though she is more than I am, and I think this knowledge makes our conversation rather deep. We talk about different classes of people, their attitudes etc., and make glorious sweeping statements, and tons of quotations. I enjoy it immensely, and I think she does too. It is so much more interesting to exchange views, however imperfect, on things that matter, than gossip on those that don’t.
Winifred Tribe asked Jean and me if we could help with a camp for poor children for a week during the hols. But we are going away during the week we were wanted, and I think my first feeling was one of relief. I’m awfully ashamed of myself for not wanting to go and help, but the thought of those dirty little ragamuffins makes me shudder. I expect, if I had gone I should have liked it, because probably the children would be rather fascinating despite their dirt, and it would certainly have been jolly, happy surroundings. I think, as José and I said when we discussed it, it is because the really poor and really rich live such totally different lives than we do, and have such totally different attitudes and outlooks that there is very little in common between us, and so we do not sympathise with or understand them. And yet, knowing we should be filled with brotherly love for them, we instinctively turn the other way, often with our teeth on edge!
Yesterday was the form picnic to which all the staff were invited. We went to Nash House in car loads. I was landed with Miss Thomas, Miss Stacey and Miss Penny! We had great fun. It was a lovely place, with a swing right over a pond, and beehives, one full, with the bees going in and out awfully busily. We stood quite near, but they did not take any notice of us.
After supper we played rounders. The sides were people with surnames A-M and those N-Z. I don’t know which side won; we were very even I think, although they had more people. I made three or four rounders, and caught their side out twice, thus covering myself with glory, and , according to Miss Phillips, keeping up my reputation.
I wish I knew whether people liked me. I know anyhow that most of the school hold me in no awe, but treat me easily as an equal. I think, however that that is a better method than the superior, crush inviting one, and certainly healthier. I think too, that if I wanted to, I could make them do what I told them to. I should not really mind what they thought, but it is very natural to
Sunday July 29th 1933
I have got a lot to write tonight.
On Friday we broke up, and it was the last school day of several people’s lives. Pam Bright, Elizabeth Pail and Joan all felt it very much, and before the long-drawn-out ceremonies of breaking up were completed they were all sobbing more or less hard. Pam was a perfect fountain, poor thing. What made it worse was that it also was Miss Phillips’ farewell to the school, so everyone was naturally feeling rather mopey.
All the mistresses and then all the VI th form went in one by one to say goodbye to her. I went in last of all. several of the mistresses retreated in floods. Miss Pyke was sobbing hard; Miss Gare was a bright salmon colour, and others were also affected!
Joan Lloyd, who went in first of us was streaming tears when she reappeared; Joan started again when she went in, and everyone was feeling a little hysterical. Luckily I did not feel a bit depressed, probably because I’m staying on, and I went in quite gaily. Miss Phillips gave me a brooch with the school crest on, which she gave to all the VI th, and then we talked for quite a long time. She said that either Anne Blake or I would be Head Girl next year. This flabbergasted me, as I had never given the matter a moment’s thought before, and have certainly never pictured myself as Head Girl! Miss Phillips said it would probably be Anne because I had to be in the labs. most of the time, but she implied that I would be a better Head Girl than Anne because she was not alive and alert enough. She said I had manged the cricket well, and then we discussed Miss Allen, and the ways of teaching English in schools, and books and srt. then she said ‘goodbye’ in a tearful voice, and said she was glad that she had managed to get through breaking up without ‘doing anything foolish’. I agreed.
Yesterday I had an appointment with Mr. Brooks at 9:30. He looked at my teeth, and ‘hummed’ and ‘hahed’ while my heart sank. He then said I would to have an injection. I of course thought that he meant he was going to take one of my teeth out, and started getting into a bit of a panic, as I haven’t had either an injection or a tooth out in my life before. He then said he wasn’t going to take one out, but was injecting so he would be able to drill a tooth with a gigantic hole in.
He got the beastly thing ready, warned me it might prick, and showed me on a jaw bone exactly what he was going to do. He then stuck the wretched thing in and started probing it about inside my jaw. It didn’t hurt in the slightest, but I began to wonder if he was going to keep prodding all day, and my inside started turning upside down. At last, he got the thing out, and went behind me, and read a book or something. I was in a panic, and could not control my thoughts. Everything seemed deathly quiet and the slightest noise a thunderbolt, my hands and face got terrifically hot, and I saw my hands were covered in little drops of perspiration; I was quite sure my face was covered too. I tried to think of hundreds of different things, but all I could think of was that I might be going to faint, and I mustn’t let myself do it. After years and years Mr. Brooks came to the right side of the chair, and saw my face. I suppose I looked rather rotten, as he asked me if I was feeling queer. I muttered that I was a bit. He made me drink something, and said it tasted horrible, but I didn’t notice that it tasted at all. He made me put my head between my knees, and keep it there till I felt all right again. Then he drilled my tooth, and put the filling in. It didn’t hurt a bit, as the injection had made my jaw quite dead, and it did not revive until lunch time, and then it hurt so to open my mouth that I only had a cup of Bovril for lunch, a cup of tea for tea and a cup of chocolate for supper. But it was quite all right today.
I have got to go again on Thursday, and he says that there are two more teeth to be filled and injected. I don’t know whether one injection will do for both or whether they will both need an injection. I do hope they will only need one injection, and that I will manage to behave better this time. I am going to ask him to talk to me while he is doing the injection, if he can, because that might stop me working my silly self up into a panic. It is so idiotic to nearly faint when it didn’t hurt at all; I didn’t even feel the prick he said I would! He must think I’m a little fool. I must ask him on Thursday not to say anything about it to Dad when he goes next time, because it would only worry Dad and Mum to know about it, and Mr . Brooks might mention it not knowing that I had kept the matter quiet.
It rather worries me to think I am going to faint so easily when I am a doctor. I do hope I will get over it. It is the third time it has happened. I must really try to stop it happening again on Thursday, I ought to be able to.
Monday, August 21st 1933
We went away on Aug 5th to Berrow, where we went last year with Helen and Lilian. Unfortunately we could not go to the Wellands’ again, as Mrs. Welland had been very ill with a bad heart, and so they were only taking one lot of people at a time, and could not take us.
Instead we went to Mrs. Bulbrook’s. It was quite nice and comfortable – we had all the upstairs to ourselves – but the Bulbrooks spoilt it all. At least they did their best to. Mrs. Bulbrook was a typical fat woman, and farmer’s daughter combined. She was jovial to the point of idiocy, and very, well, unrefined. She managed with very little encouragement – she never seemed to need that – to introduce herself into the family group, and on the second day of our visit came into our sitting room to play Dad at chess!
It was also unfortunate – for us of course – that Mrs. Bulbrook had a daughter, blessed with the name of Maggie. She was eleven, and apparently the only child available to play with Pat. The child became an absolute curse. Her speaking was awful, and her persistence in the face of coolness almost equalled that of her mother. We would go down to the sands in the morning, and half an hour after our triumphant entry, having with guile managed to leave Maggie behind, she would drift upon the scene from nowhere in particular, and soon be having an exciting game with Pat.
Never-the-less we had a very jolly holiday, and enjoyed it tremendously. Mummy was badly in need of a rest, and is I’m sure feeling much better now. The weather was remarkably good – only one really wet day. We did nothing exciting; we visited Burnham Carnival one day, and played tennis once , but generally slacked, spending the day divided between the sands and bathing or golfing; and the sand dunes watching the real golfers!
Today was the beginning of a new phase for Alan. It was his first day as a business man. He got into Scottish Widows in the end, entirely through the influence and persistence of Mr. Spence, who seems very struck by him. He seems to have got on all right, although I think he was, very naturally, rather nervous about going today. It doesn’t seem right that Alan and Jim are both earning their living whereas I am still, and will remain for some years, living on the family.
I don’t see that it can be helped, but I do wish I was not costing such a lot to Mum and Dad. Anyway I mean to jolly well repay them as soon as I possibly can. I’m becoming increasingly sure that I was wise to choose medicine as a career. But perhaps the results of the Higher Certificate will change my opinion!
Ruth Bensusan-Butt wrote to me, inviting me to stay with them these hols. It seems rather strange as she had never seen me, although she knows Dad and Mum well. She says she has heard all about me from Auntie Isa, so perhaps she will be prepared for the shock awaiting her! She is asking me so that her daughter Barbara and I can get to know each other. She is taking up medicine too, and will be at about the same stage as I will at London University. I do hope we will like each other, because it would be great fun to be together all the way through the University as Ruth and Auntie Isa were before.
I’m rather nervous about going. The time is approaching as time has a habit of doing, and I’m getting panicky because they are rather rich and change for dinner and that kind of thing. I know I shall disgrace myself by not doing things properly. As long as they are not society people, with constant visitors and going out every night I shall probably survive it. If they are I’m taking the first train home!
P.S. I managed the injection all right. My iron will prevailed. I don’t think I’ll succumb to one again.
Monday, October 31st 1933
It’s two months now since I last wrote here. The visit to Cheltenham was topping; Barbara was awfully decent, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Ruth Bensusan is charming; I like her immensely. She is the type of person I really like – there seem to be very few about!
I passed the Higher Certificate, though not at all easily. Joan failed, but was able to go to Bristol University all right, it exempting her from First Year, as she only failed in subsidiary, which Bristol don’t count. Jean also passed, beating me in Chemistry, and we were nearly level in the other things. I am determined to do better in December for first M.B., but I haven’t worked at all this term yet!
I’ve taken up golf, so have Mum, Dad and Alan, and we go to Failand every weekend. It’s grand sport and good exercise. Mum and I are hopeless but mean to improve.
Last Saturday the Sixth gave the Staff a social. We had great fun, it was by far the most successful social I’ve been to. We played “Mormons” and then a crime game in the dark. We drew for partners – two mistresses and one girl going together. I got Miss Press and Miss Millward – both nice. Miss Millward is a student from Bristol who is teaching us Zoology types; Dogfish and Rabbit. She is awfully good at netball and hockey. I hope she will be playing in the University first XI hockey match tomorrow against us. At the social she was awfully decent, misbehaving herself beautifully. I country danced with her at the end several times, and we were very vigorous indeed, twirling each other round at about 60 miles per hour. She has got a very oval face with a pointed chin, and is nicknamed “the Egg”. She is awfully nice I think, although some people don’t seem to like her. I hope she plays centre for the Staff next Thursday against the sixth at netball, because then she will be against me.
Saturday, November 28th 1933
Reading my last times’ gossip I see that there were several answers to “wondering” now available! Miss Millward did not play in the University match, she captained the second against us the other day. I got my second hockey colours that match though, and my first from the Cheltenham match a fortnight ago. We lost, after a terrific game – 3-2. They got their last goal in the last one and a half minutes. Miss Millward did play centre for the staff against the sixth netball. It was great fun – we won quite easily. She was awfully nice. I heard from Joan that she also fences well and rides remarkably well, as well as being good at nearly all games, and swimming too. Quite an athlete, and jolly brainy too, lucky bounder! The staff beat us at hockey though by 3-1. Miss Tate got all the goals, she was against me until half-time, when they shifted round. In the second half I had Miss Close and Miss Price, both quite good.
Today we (first XI) went to Bath for the shield hockey match against Bath Royal School. We lost 2-1 after a terrific fight. The play in the circles resembled a rugger scrum much more closely than a hockey match! We all like Bath Royal better than any other school we play. They are just as decent or rather “good class” as Cheltenham, but without that awful conceit, and “looking down” on everybody air that nearly all Cheltenham girls seem to have.
I got my admission card for first M.B. this morning. My entrance number is 1813 which adds up to 13, and ends in 13, so goodness only knows what is going to happen. I’m not sure whether it is a good or a bad sign! It is getting so near now that I’m getting quite worked up. Auntie Sylvia and Uncle Futa have awfully kindly offered to put me up for the fortnight or week. I am hoping against hope – for it isn’t likely – that I’ll be able to be back by the 18th or 19th to play in the Old Girls hockey and netball matches.
Alan went to a foot harriers meeting at Yalton this afternoon. Mummy and Daddy took him out in the car. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, and was one of the only two to be in at the kill. I must confess that all kinds of hunting make me slightly sick. I know that’s exaggerated , but nevertheless, quite seriously, I do hate the very idea of any kind of hunting. It may be because I’m a girl, and so not so callous as boys or men, but I can’t bear to see anything hurt. A few weeks ago Daddy was telling us about some worms he and Pat had put out for a robin they were trying to tame. He expected me to say “how nice” or something, but I, without thinking, said “how delightful” very sarcastically, thinking of the poor worms being eaten alive, and wriggling. (This is one of the things I just can’t bear to see.) He exploded a bit, saying I was making a fuss about nothing, and hinting I did not really mind a bit. I flared up, and, as everyone seemed against me, and I was really in earnest, I dissolved into tears. I have never cried like that before. It really hurt me. I thought I had grown out of crying, but I don’t think I ever will.