The next instalment of Meg’s diary, the diary of a young student doctor studying at London School of Medicine in the year before the war, is now published.
by Margaret Taylor, age 24 years
February to October, 1938
Meg continues as a student doctor, experiencing Casualty, Children’s wards, and Midwifery at the London School of Medicine.
- Monday, Feb. 7th 1938 – starting in casualty, sincerity
- Sunday, Feb. 27th 1938 – casualty not so bad, ambitions to write and travel
- Wednesday April 6th 1938 – getting to end of casualty and will miss it
- Saturday June 25th 1938 – pathology, looking foward to Children and Midwifery
- Wednesday, July 27th 1938 – on the Children’s wards
- Monday, August 1st 1938 [Bank Holiday] wondering what the future holds, different moulds, feeling homesick
- Friday, October 7th 1938 – district midwifery from a clinic which used to be a pub
Monday, February 7th, 1938
Now that I have re-read my last entry after the steadying interval of a couple of months, I would like to cross most of the end part of it out. It reads just as if it were high-sounding nonsense and got up for effect rather than to give vent to real feelings. And I rather think, now, that it was. When Jim and I wrote to each other some time ago, he was criticising my literary, or rather poetical, attempts and insisted that it was essential above all that they were completely sincere.
He was right of course, but not until you have attempted to produce something which you want to be good can you realise how very difficult it is to be quite sincere, or even to know whether you are being so or not. It is no good writing what you would like to think, as if you did think it spontaneously; you only give yourself away, and go hot or cold with shame when you meet the thing later! Also, sentimentality is a dangerous stumbling block. Nothing is so moving if it is rightly used; nothing so nauseating if improperly handled, or if it is merely put on. On the whole, I think, better avoided
I’m on casualty now, and not certain whether I am enjoying it or not. The post is quite unlike any of the others, and you rely on yourself and are accountable for your actions very much more than on the ward posts. Students give gases, sew up wounds and do some of the minor ops e.g. circumcisions etc. The work is certainly hard while it lasts, but there are slack as well as busy days for everyone, and if you get overtired it is really your own fault, and means that you are not using your time off in giving yourself a well-earned rest.
The first few days on casualty or ‘gate’, are distinctly chaotic, and you spend a good deal of your time either doing what someone else is doing for you, or forgetting to do what the doctor has ordered. There are innumerable bylaws about procedure on different occasions and you learn them one by one – by the infallible method of breaking each in turn and being hauled over the coals for it. Still, the house staff, the nurses, and above all Sister are really most long-suffering, and we do not get really the amount of blowing up and acid comments to which we all lay ourselves open. Perhaps in a week or so, when they have exhausted all their indulgence for the ‘new’ post they will be less kind, but again by then we shall have got over the first petrifying panic of the new surroundings, and be able to hold our own in the face of criticism.
I suppose that it is because children are ruled by their parents so entirely when they are young that they care so intensely what their superiors think of them or say to them. A word of praise is a lasting joy, a reprimand or thoughtless roughness causes intense misery, possibly very deeply rooted and remembered long after the author of it has forgotten. But as the child grows older, fashioning his mind and character and getting slowly accustomed to making his own decisions and acting on them, then he begins to lose the exaggerated reverence for the opinions of others, and grows to rely on his own appreciation of what is to be praised or condemned in himself as well as others.
I seem to have entered a strange state of fatalism recently. Nothing upsets me for long, indeed even at the moment of happening I am oddly unaffected by it – as if it were happening to someone else and I was merely a slightly interested onlooker. It is very comfortable to have a second self which will ungallantly deny any relationship with the offending member in that way!
I must stop now – no more nonsense!
Sunday Feb. 27th 1938
Nearly the beginning of another month – they seem to slip by so rapidly, and the three months posts slip by with them, the more is the pity. I have now almost completed a month of the casualty post – that most dreaded of all the posts, and it has turned out to be quite survivable after all. Indeed it gives opportunity more than the other posts for rehearsing the part of Doctor, and discovering the most readily-made mistakes. My dread of stitches and gases is subsiding rapidly and I find that it is true, as I have told myself so often recently, that what others have done must be doable and therefore not to be dreaded.
Last Saturday I sent a copy of a short article I had just written for the magazine, to Jim for his criticism. He hasn’t written yet, and I don’t expect his verdict will be favourable when he does. I have never sent him a prose attempt before, and am interested to hear what he thinks of it. I should very much like to write a book or short stories or articles of some sort when I am older, and settled down in a practice or hospital somewhere, and have got something worth writing about in my head.
Next to my longing – well on the way towards being gratified – to become a doctor, I want to write, and I want to travel. I feel as if the writing can very well be delayed until I am older, or even till I am ‘getting on’ and need a hobby not as strenuous as a full-time doctor’s work, and that is pretty strenuous as I well know. The travelling I think must come sooner, while I am still young and strong and able to enjoy roughing things and bumping my body against nature’s hard corners. I really think I must be developing a wander-lust in my bones, for nowadays the thought, as now, of setting forth on travelling adventures makes my heart jump up and down with excitement, and my tummy go curiously light in anticipation.
An exquisite short story by Martin Armstrong was read on the wireless today – it was called ‘Birds of Passage’. After hearing that and after reading Jane Eyre again, as I am doing, my ambitions about writing myself seem a little presumptuous, and at least doomed to failure. Maybe it would be wiser to fill my time with doctoring and if necessary keep a diary as this one, for my private enjoyment, thus giving myself opportunity for scribbling when the mood is present, and denying anyone else the privilege of throwing cold water and perhaps hard words at the resulting drivel.
Bedtime so Goodnight!
Wednesday April 6th 1938
Two late nights running have dragged all excess energy out of me for the moment, and I am giving myself the easy task of writing here until it is a sufficiently sensible time to drop into bed.
Only one more week of Casualty after this one – I am dreading the end of the post, and the return to the dull round of pathology and wards again. There is a true dramatic quality in Casualty, absent in the other posts. You get a chance of showing your mettle, and also of finding how you react to making mistakes in front of companions and superiors. We are extremely lucky in having had exceptionally nice C.O.s Blenkin and Payne. Blenkin left at the end of last month, and we gave a supper party for her in Evans’ flat. She, Mr Payne and Mr Taylor came, and it was a success – they stayed on till almost midnight. Evans arranged a German supper with all kinds of unusual and good things to eat. Also we imported beer cider-cup and coffee, though we forgot the coffee until we were nearly going home! Blenkin we jokingly have called ‘the Darling’ for that was what one of the patients was heard to say about her. But it suits her exactly, for she is a perfectly natural, unassuming and tireless striver after all things, however trivial, that will help the patients under her immediate care. She treats us students as friends and just hasn’t any superiority, though she has a dignity of her own, and a quickness of perception and understanding that worms pathetic stories by the dozen from willing or unwilling narrators. Her efficiency in all branches of casualty duty is undoubted, and she will tackle absolutely anything that needs doing.
Mr Payne is quiet and sensible, very decent to the patients, and pretty efficient, though not, I think, infallible. What makes me like him perhaps, more than for example Mr Taylor or Le Vay, is that his work does really thrill him; the romance of healing has gripped him, as it does all the really true doctors. I like him ever even more since the supper party, for there it was possible to get to know him a bit unwound from the strappings of authority, and he showed up pretty well, putting Mr Taylor with his affectations and explosive – sometimes beastly – language out of court. Time for bed, so – Goodnight!
Saturday June 25th 1938
I haven’t been keeping up this diary at all according to plan, and there are large chunks missing between the entries. But perhaps the chunks are better missing, as everyday events are a bit monotonous. Even now, after about two months, there seems little to say. In spite of bewailings the Casualty post ended, and in spite of forebodings the Pathology post hasn’t been unbearable. We have only another week to go now, and then it’s Children for Jones and me for two months followed by Midwifery in September, October and November. On Children’s post we get Dr Hobhouse’s beds as well as Mrs Chodak-Gregory’s, so there will be plenty of reading to be done. I have really been working fairly hard at Pathology, and have reached the stage of being sorry that I didn’t work harder at Junior Medicine or Surgery. The weather now is really blazingly hot, and that makes me fagged out and uneager to tackle work in the evenings.
Last Wednesday Mum and Dad paid a flying half-day visit to London and we met at Wimbledon for the tennis. It was marvellous seeing them again after being away so long – my last holiday was in January. They both looked very well – Mums seems to look prettier every time I see her, and nobody could be sweeter or more lovable. They are grand parents! It seems however pretty rotten that they should spend all their energy and money on educating and training their children, and yet see so little of them. Such is the lot of most unselfishness it seems – it is its own reward for no other reward appears.
Jones has been elected senior for the Children’s post, and for a little while I was verging on jealousy – it is beastly how competition brings out the worst in people. We have worked together most of the time at hospital, and I consider myself just as good a worker as she is, and I suppose that made me resent the fact that she was preferred to me as senior. I know really that the election makes no difference whatsoever, and that all I have to mind about is that I make myself as good a doctor as I possibly can, let alone what anyone else does, and whether my standard is theirs or not. It is a weakness to want recognition for one’s achievements and honour for one’s capabilities.
Another triumph for Jones is that Dr. Playfair, on behalf of Dr. Shaw who is now head of the V.D. department, has offered her the post of senior assistant there two years after she has qualified. The pay is £300 a year and the attendance only 18 hours a week. So Jones is simply overjoyed, and feels beautifully safe and free from worry about her future after qualifying. She is almost certain to get 3rd H.S. [House Surgeon?] job too if she wants it after qualifying, as she was the only student on Miss Dearnley’s post on Gynaecology and got to know her very well. All this made me, with my complete absence of plans and prospects, slightly green too, but that also is stupid really because I certainly don’t want to specialise in Gynaecology and V.Ds.
Hospital goes on unobtrusively changing round so that students go and residents change so quietly that you never notice the absence of one or the presence of the other. The new house list has just been published, and we shall get Crossley on Children – not too bad but might have been better! Mr Payne is now R.N.O. and Mr Taylor has gone into the blue. It really was time too that he went, for his good name was becoming slightly tarnished, and we were getting very tired of his bumptious presence – poor man, what horrid things to say! Mr Payne is apparently coping adequately with R.N.O. though he hasn’t the experience of Mr Taylor yet. Jones and I attend Minor Meds. with others from the Pathology post, and we get all the work of diagnosis etc. to do as the others haven’t done any clinical work yet.It is good fun.
Must go to bed now, so Goodnight!
Wednesday, July 27th 1938
Nearly a month of the children’s post gone now, and a fortnight’s holiday only about three weeks away. I haven’t felt so much in readiness for a holiday for ages, for I’m really a bit overtired now and the work is fairly heavy. But this post is one of the most enjoyable that I have done so far – the children are most fascinating and both the authorities and nursing staff that we meet are very friendly and create a genial informal atmosphere.
There are only five of us on the post this month – Jones, Burton-Brown, Nuvell and Koluyan and myself. Two others are joining us in August. Nuvell has been away on holiday recently and Koluyan is never on the premises when needed, so we three remaining have been running about and doing most of the work. We have Dr Chodak-Gregory’s, Dr Shelley’s and Dr Hobhouse’s patients, and I have had about 10 cases – new ones – since the beginning of the month, so I have gained quite a bit of experience.
Dr Gregory becomes nicer and nicer as you get to know her, and we are all sorry that she is going to be away during the whole of August, so we shall see very little more of her after this week. Dr Shelley we have seen extremely little of so far, as she missed rounds and outpatients quite a bit at the beginning of the month, and is away on holiday now until the beginning of August. I hope she teaches a lot to make up for missing Mrs C-G’s rounds etc. when she returns.
Dawn-Pattison, Mrs C-G’s H.P., has been extremely decent to us – most approachable and willing to help and not a bit aloof as I expected! Her tutorials on Wednesdays before Dr Hobhouse’s rounds have been awfully funny. She has told us pretty exactly what Hobhouse will say about each case, and how we must reply. And her forecasting has been most useful and stood us in good stead in our many moments of need with him. Crossley is coming on in August instead of D-P, and I rather fear that the atmosphere may be rather different. Still I was wrong in imagining that D-P could not unbend, so maybe I will be wrong about Crossley too – I hope so.
This evening I have been to a sherry-party at Mrs Williams’ house in Harley Street – for those of us who have done the test mealls and vitamin C tests for her. I had two glasses of sherry, one of tomato juice and a most variegated assortment of eatables. All this made it impossible for me to work tonight, and anyway I have been overworking just recently – so I’ll go to bed.
They call them the “long, long thoughts of youth” and I think they are right. Our thoughts are long and rambling and a little restive. Living ‘up’ and rather isolated – partly isolated by choice of course, for there are people I could descend upon – gives me time during the weekends and holidays to take stock of things wider than the daily routine. I think about myself, my future activities, and get a creepy feeling wondering what the future holds in store. And I think of other people and of what and how they think.
Just recently I have acknowledged to myself what I have always up to now I thought nurture – probably because it should theoretically be nurture. People are stamped definitely in different moulds, and though some characters of different moulds are alike, products of different moulds have nothing akin to bind them together. I mean really that there are some people that I find it absolutely impossible to like, even if I do not actively dislike them. Some people I can, and do of necessity, feel a sympathy with; others I can neither talk unrestrainedly to nor feel a single interest in common with them. It is a very curious fact that it should be so, and it would be very interesting to see if Mendel’s Law applied to such a moulding of mental make-up. Anyway it seems to be pretty true to say that like types appeal to each other, for the friends of those with whom I cannot feel at ease are, almost without exception, those whom I should choose last of all for my own friends. In a way this grouping is worth it, for any dexterity one can steer moderately clear of battles with ones antipathies, and the joy of finding a person in whom one senses true sympathies is doubled.
I’m feeling a bit miserable tonight. I think it is really a bout of homesickness, for Richardson has just departed homewards on holiday, and I’m feeling a bit marooned in consequence. There is nobody else in the house, I believe, except Mr and Mrs Sydney down in the depths. In many ways I like being by myself. I have a strong bump of reclusiveness, and will always rather retreat behind the doors of my room than sally out to make merry in company. I’m not sure that I don’t revel slightly in my independence and the fact that I am quite sufficient company for myself. Really we are most of us humbugs at heart!
Roberts, Nouvell, Kohiyar and I are all at 434 Essex Road* now, doing our first month of district midwifery. Last month we four, plus Jones, were at R.F.H. doing the midwifery wards. Last month I thought was foul, and I was rebelling against the rules and regulations nearly every moment – though usually it was only a mental rebellion!
* The Royal William was situated at 434 Essex Road. This pub has now been demolished and replaced by the office block in the photo.
Living together constantly, and living both a day and night life the whole time was altogether too much of a bad thing to those quite unused to it. I was longing so often to be able to have even a moment’s quiet to myself, and even five minutes with secure knowledge that I would not be rung up to “come immediately”. Bigby the third O.A. with whom we had most to do, did not get along well with us. Her over conscientious sense of duty, her overserious outlook on the most trivial things made even everyday things a duty and a burden. Her moments of lighthearted chatter and amazingly uncontrolled laughter made her even less understandable than if she had always been serious. Sykes and Stokes were very easy to get along with and Sykes especially gave us a good deal of necessary light relief on occasions. ‘Conny’ is an attractive person everyone likes and admires. Professor is our inimitable little Scotchwoman; Moore-White and efficient and entertaining little chatterbox; Shippam is ‘heavily’ nice and really unfathomable.
In the first month we got 10 cases each, which was good going. So far here we have each had one case and Roberts and Kohiyor have had two. My case was an extremely lucky one. The lady was a Mrs Bastie and within five minutes of our arrival she started second staging and about 10 minutes later the baby was born – no complications. I was very afraid at one time at one time that she was going to have a bad P.P.H. for she started bleeding severely before the placenta was nearly ready to expel. But we held our thumbs for a few minutes and the uterus hardened up and the bleeding stopped, though the placenta did not come out for about 45 minutes. I should have hated having to Crede the thing out.
Essex Road clinic is a weird little place – originally a pub. There are two parts to it, separated by the kitchen. Downstairs is the clinic proper with consulting rooms, sterilising room etc. Sterilising all our own things was a tremendous business at first, but I quite enjoy it. Freath is charming and we get along well with her. She is very nice indeed about letting us do exactly what we want to our patients without interfering or advising. Enough for the present.
For Mr Joll
Five thousand incisions of necklace type
Five thousand glands exposed
Five thousand, or more, bits of thyroid removed
And five thousand necks reclosed.
Just think of the innumerable Spencer Wells
Just think of the swabs without end
Just imagine the rows of Michel clips
And the five thousand patients to tend.
May the goitrous patients long flock to A.2.
May their thyroids fall fast in the bowl.
May the thousands increase, Mr Joll, may you reach
(spite of students) the ten thousand goal.
Meg Rugg-Easey 1936
(Mentioned in Meg’s 1937 diary)
by Margaret Taylor, age 23 years
September to December, 1937
Meg continues as a student doctor at Medical College in London.
- Tuesday Jan 19th 1937– a bout of ‘flu, Alan’s 21st and engagement
- Saturday, May 1st 1937 – on friendship, Jane Eyre, integrity
- Monday, August 16th 1937 – holidays, friendship and marriage, Junior Surgery
- Friday, October 22nd 1937 – hospital life, poem for Joll, mortality
- Saturday Oct 23rd 1937 – cancer, death, war, pacifism
- Saturday, Dec 11th 1937 – tired wonderings, Queen Victoria film, stresses of a young doctor
Tuesday, Jan 19th, 1937
A really wonderful opportunity to write here! I have got up this evening for the first time after ‘flu, and I have never known an evening be so long! I’m not supposed to read a great deal, and besides I am awfully tired of reading; I’ve thought of writing letters, but as I have already written home saying all the latest news, it would only be dull repeating if I did.
‘Flu was horrid, and the worst part of it was, and still is, the cascara! In a truly misguided moment, I allowed myself to be given three doses of the stuff as it seemed to be having no effect. The result was a series of violent colic attacks during the night, and they made me so miserable I felt I could have dissolved into a pool of tears with ease – and comfort! My tummy is still quite upset, and I have no appetite and feel sick at night time – memories I expect. But otherwise I am pretty well alright – the trouble at the moment is that the cold in the throat has travelled up Eustace a bit and blocked both my ears so that my head feels uncannily cotton-woolly, and I don’t hear properly – what I do hear I hear with my whole head, it seems, and it is very nerve-wracking when it goes on all day. My reward is coming however in the shape of a week’s holiday – doctor’s orders – at home. I am probably going on Friday and will come back for work at college again by the following Monday week. I suppose I will have to wander over to college and see Dr. Dickson and Prof. Cullis about missing this first fortnight of the Primary course. I don’t expect they will be overjoyed, but I don’t think they will try to make me stop – I should not feel much like working for a bit if I did stop, I know.
It is dreadful how being absolutely lazy and resting in bed infects you with the germ of idleness, so that when you get up, behold you have no initiative or ‘go’ at all, but just sit still and wish there was something worth doing (conveniently skipping in your mind anything feasible which crops up).
It is very odd, because I can’t hear my pen writing, although I know it is making the usual sort of noise alright. I can hear my watch ticking if I hold it right against my ear, but if it is more than an inch away, I can’t hear it at all. I have to listen to people, when they talk to me, very carefully or I don’t understand what they are saying. The sounds reverberate so that nothing is clear-cut but everything runs together in a buzz – not a 1d Buzz!
Last Saturday week, Alan had his 21st birthday party, and his and Peggy’s engagement was announced officially – by a gramophone record he made at Alexandria. Everything was a tremendous success that evening, and they played ping-pong in the dark with phosphorescent balls, and phosphorescent false noses – it seems to have gone awfully well. Pat wrote me a long letter describing how she and Betty got up again, after having been put to bed, and prowled about the landing until the guests arrived for supper about 1 a.m.! They saw all the dresses etc. and listened to all the revelry until about 2 a.m. when they crawled back to bed – and fell asleep at once I’m sure! Pat will be simply overjoyed that at length she will be able to let people know about Peggy and Alan, and not have to put them off with tactful half-truths all the time – rather difficult for a youngster who is dying to let them all into the precious secret!
I have spied a pack of cards, and if I can remember, or make up, any games of patience I think that is an excellent idea. Yes, no?
Cascara sagrada is a herbal remedy that used to be a common ingredient in some over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives.
The bark comes from a tree called the California buckthorn. This tree grows on the West Coast of the United States and parts of South America. Historically, it was used by Native Americans to treat a host of issues, including:
- digestive problems
- joint and muscle pain
April May 1st 1937
Writing May instead of April has given me rather a nasty moment. Primary starts on May 31st, and to be actually in the fateful month is rather frightening when it comes upon you suddenly.
I have nothing special today to commit to paper; the reason why I dug out this book was because my mind just refused to settle down to work for a bit, and I have made a sacred vow not to read non-work books from now on. My conscience should doubtless revolt against my writing here as much as reading novels, but at the moment I’m stifling it!
Working for Primary has been much better fun than I thought at first it would be. Luckily, Jones and I get along together very well, and these three months have made us much greater friends, and we really know each other well now. We have a great deal in common in thoughts and ways of doing things. I like her very much, but she will never be the truly ‘friend that I know could exist for me’ – Whatley I think is about the nearest I know, but then again I don’t see much of her now, and she has many other friends. It is funny how very few people you meet you can really want to get to know intimately. Generally, you can tell them almost at once though when you do meet them. Whatley is one I have felt that for, Ileene another and – less approachable – Professor Keene and Dicky. Another kindred spirit is Maud. By the way, those two words “kindred spirit” just about hint at what I meant, as Mr. Rochester says our minds are “something akin.”
From quoting Mr. Rochester, I can’t resist going on to my pet theme of Jane Eyre. No other book touches me as that one does, and only the others by the same author evoke even an echo of the response that Jane Eyre evokes. I know there is nothing original in praising this book – it is the pet of thousands of people. But that only means that others feel it as I do, and though perhaps that brings a tiny ray of grief that others have uncovered and gathered up the precious spirit that feels so personal a discovery, yet I know that really I am deeply glad that others do know and love her as I do.
I doubt if men would respond to her mind as women would, but then I think rather the type of mind is called for rather than the sex. A person is living there in the leaves of that book, and to read the book with sympathy is, I think, to know Jane Eyre better than the majority of our friends. She has the sense of letting you into her heart, without having a special spring-clean and redecoration to make it unrecognisable for you when you enter. That is the secret of true living – to be founded upon a rock, true always to yourself and others in big and little things. That is what gives you the courage to face anyone or anything with a steady eye, and dispenses with all need of “pose” or affectation or concealment. It sounds easy, but if it were more people would succeed in achieving it.
I think perhaps Jane herself shows what it may cost you to keep the clear bubbles in the soul-springs. Her struggles to carry out what she knew her true nature demanded are described so perfectly that you struggle in sympathy as you read. It is so easy to slip over the slight dividing line, and just miss the harmony of a nature absolutely in tune in all its chords. Yet to possess such a nature, whatever it costs you to retain it, is to live as no others could and enjoy a sense of peace with life nothing else could give.
Now having got so far, we come to a pitfall. Realising the truth of what we’ve said, do we pat ourselves quietly on the back and say, “And that is what we are like”? It is very easily done, and I rather imagine I may have done it in the past. To understand and sympathise with that nature seems almost to confer the nature on oneself, but although of course it doesn’t, yet it helps in that direction I’m sure.
I can’t go any further into the mists of reasoning; it is getting a little too thick, and with one last glance at the pitfall we will turn aside and sit till it clears a little.
And meanwhile I must go and do some shopping or the shops will all be shut!
Thursday Jun 10th 1937
It seems incredible, but I have got three days in front of me before I return home, and no work at all to do all the time! The secret is that Primary has just been completed, and I am staying up till Monday to see the results – I wouldn’t believe anybody if they wrote to tell me, I must see it actually myself!
Roberts has been up here, sheltering from the thunderstorm which has been raging for the last hour or so. And now it is time for bed, so this must be postponed until tomorrow – and tomorrow we have ‘test meals(?)’ again, no peace at all these days!
Monday, August 16th 1937
I can’t work tonight – too tired, so this seems just the thing to tide me over till a reasonable bed-time. It is no use trying to fill in all the gaps between my entries here, besides it would be dull reading I should think. But anyway, I will say that I failed Primary – not very badly, but then most of the failures were on the verge I imagine.
Since then I have had six weeks’ holiday. Of that I spent 16 days in the middle of Ireland with Ileene Allen at Hightown. That I had a marvellous time needs no saying, for I always enjoy every moment in her company. We may well call ourselves twins, for, though that is not true physically, mentally we have twin feelings, and we are always in good humour in each other’s company, and the more we see of each other the more we want to see. I don’t think I shall easily forget the night-time talks we had as we lay in bed, both in the same room in the little wooden bungalow. How ‘deep’ and muddled we got, and what solemn nonsense we pronounced! Ileene produced the winner of the series by keeping half awake at something to one o’clock proving that Newton’s laws of mechanics were false! She knows no mechanics, and I am supposed to, but she won easily, and we had a wonderful nonsensical time arguing it, and nearly going off to sleep in the middle of logical propoundings.
I wish I knew that I would find someone who ‘fitted’ me perfectly; to many it seems silly to worry about that – there is loads of time, and I am certainly not in a hurry. But I can realise now how inexpressibly happy a really harmonious married couple could be, if their minds held the sympathy which real friendship, such as mine with Ileene, has. And a home life of that kind too – I would love the assurance that it is coming, though there is no hurry about it. I wonder often – shall I marry or not, and I always hope I shall, for I know there are men whom I could love, as love should be between husband and wife; who would keep each other’s hearts young.
Never mind, I can’t write it. Still I wish it would happen, and that I could know now that it would. I feel that either I shall marry and it will be the truly right person, or I shall remain unmarried, and let work take up all my time. I certainly don’t feel that I shall have an unhappy marriage, or any terrible love tragedy – perhaps I’m not impulsive enough!
And I was supposed to be writing about my six weeks holiday! The time I spent at home was spent mainly in playing tennis. It is tantalising how each year I get a few weeks’ holiday, just enough to get into the hang of tennis, and then back to work and all out of practice until I get another few weeks later on! But it is harder on those who play with me than on me myself.
Now, rather sketchily, I think we are about up-to-date, and I can say gently that at the moment I am at hospital again, doing Junior Surgery under Mr Joll and Miss Beck. And that explains why I am too tired to work this evening, for Monday is Joll’s operating day, and we have had five good hours of it in the theatre, striving madly in the atmosphere of quite unsubdued thunder, conjured up by Joll and Beck, both of whom were in great form as far as fury goes. And it goes miles with both of them!
Nobody pretends that either of them is good tempered, but they say that it is worthwhile getting their harsh words if you get their technique at the same time. Besides I lop-sidedly enjoy surviving some of Beck’s tantrums, and to think that her scathing remarks have no power to make you miserable takes all the sting, or most of it, out of her venom.
Her bark is many times worse than her bite, and as she bites us all almost indiscriminately we very soon forget about it. I have always had a terror of hard words, because I suppose I always reasoned that they were merited and therefore to be taken to heart. But now when half the time you are sworn at for someone else’s mistakes and the other half of the time for mistakes you did commit from sheer ignorance, then the torment ceases to overwhelm you, and you bob up again cheerfully instead of slowly rising from a whirlpool full of misery, only to be submerged again almost immediately. Besides, and more to the point, if Beck sees her blazing utterances don’t upset your equilibrium she doesn’t produce nearly so many, and you score both ways. Still, good old Beck, she is a marvel of efficiency, and what our famous – or infamous? – Mr Joll would do without her nobody knows!
That’s enough for tonight, we will continue, or rather reopen the ‘shop’ another time, there is heaps to say about Junior Surgery I assure you!
Friday Oct 22nd 1937
When I last wrote it was near the beginning of the Joll Post. Now we have nearly reached the end and Gynaecology comes upon us in just over a week. These three months have passed very quickly indeed, and I am sorry to think that they are almost past, for I for one have thoroughly enjoyed their passage. It has been a very novel experience, and the thrill of surgery works its way into your bones amazingly quickly. I prefer surgery to medicine; it is much more straightforward, and the results are more spectacular, and so many lives are undeniably saved as they could not be by any other method. Whereas in medicine so much seems to be patching up things for a variable length of time, or waiting patiently for the disease to cure itself. I never thought that I should be enrolled in the band of those who ‘want to get on with it’, for I always used to be a marvel at letting things slide, and of putting off till the very last moment anything which I could persuade myself could be postponed.
I am very glad that on Gyneacology, we get a great deal of theatre work, for I should miss it dreadfully if I dropped it all together now.
The infamous Mr Joll has really turned out to be, at least superficially, quite a likeable man. He has, undoubtedly, a temper, but he very rarely exhibits it, and during his Friday rounds has time after time shown himself patient in the face of blank stupidity, and helpful to those trying vainly to produce a fairly intelligent answer. He is also undoubtedly an extremely clever and competent surgeon, and his knowledge outside the scope of surgery seems to be exceedingly extensive and accurate in detail. He teaches well too, for he has a very clear mind, and one that always founds even the most difficult problems on the simple fundamentals. Beck, too, though I wrote reams about her tantrums, can be, and has been, very kind and forbearing with us on many occasions. At the beginning of the post, I wrote about their faults; at the end I modify that by adding their good points, and that is how it should be, and helps to prove the old moral, that there is some good in even the worst – how flattered they would be to read this!
A poem for Joll
The other day Joll did his five-thousandth thyroid, and Sister A.2. wanted a poem to celebrate the occasion – apparently Sir James Berry had a poem when he had done only three thousand! Anyway, I was commissioned to produce a poem, and last night I tackled the rather delicate operation. I achieved a rather poor result, but it had to do, and we persuaded Registration to type it for us on R.F. headed paper. Sister A.2. has, it is rumoured, got a special cake for the occasion of his celebration, and both cake and poem are to be presented to him on Monday afternoon. I don’t know the details yet, but I hope that Mr Joll will have the grace to stop for tea, and not rush through the list, and finish gasping somewhere near suppertime. It would upset poor Sister dreadfully; she quite worships the man.
Hospital life is still a bit of a strain at times, and some aspects of it still upset me, though the kind of upset that used to worry me most – the horrid sight kind – have completely disappeared, and I am hardened into iron as far as pain for others is concerned – sounds callous I know, but it’s only self-protection, and has to be screwed on top, and I could unscrew it any time. But what does still ‘unrest’ me are the post-mortems on patients I knew when they were alive. It is just a little too far for me, even now, and it raises such great and deep wonderings, such as the separation of body and mind, or body and soul, and the query of life after death. It is only seen in the post-mortem room, how the belief in life after death could arise so spontaneously from the sight of a friend lying lifeless, yet so nearly as you knew them alive. It seems impossible that the personality that you knew, and had intercourse with, has just evaporated and become, in a few hours, non-existent. It seems an insult to human life that a human being, with its almost unlimited possibilities and ideas, should degenerate in so short a time into something that the pathologist’s knife divides into exhibits A to Z.
Something has so obviously left the body. Call it ‘life’ if you like, but it is not life in the meaning of simply the driving force that made the protoplasmic wheels go round. It is the personality of the person himself, the thing that made him the person he was, and which distinguished him from the millions of humans with similar organs and tissues. It seems natural to suppose that this ‘something’, the really essential being that we knew, has survived the running down of the organic frame containing it, and has flitted away into its own world of unfettered freedom.
Yet, a mind with no means of expressing itself, or giving vent to its faculties seems meaningless and unintelligible, and we return to our original state of profound query, which leaves us restless in mind, and still worried by the memories of the evacuated bodies of the post-mortem room.
Much too late for ghost stories, so Goodnight!
Footnote: Mr Joll
Cecil Joll worked at the Royal Free Hospital, in Pond Street, in Hampstead, performing thyroid surgery from 1911 until 1945, when he died at the age of 59.
The surgeon was known for performing up to 14 operations a day and taught hundreds of students and many surgeons to the highest standards.
He also established the hospital as London’s leading thyroid centre. Professor George Hamilton, professor of surgery at the Royal Free said: “Cecil is internationally known for his work in thyroid surgery.
“His name lives on with the instrument known as the ‘Joll extractor’ which is now universally used. The Royal Free is proud to display this in our surgical seminar room.”
Saturday Oct 23rd 1937
After yesterday’s outburst perhaps I should lie low for a bit, but I’m not going to. Being on surgery brings up other big things besides the post mortem worries. The thing which haunts you is cancer, and the tragedy is not only that you meet it so often, but that in so many of the cases you see for the first time the growth has gone too far for hopeful operation, and the prognosis is in terms of a few years at most. If only, you sigh, they would come earlier, and give you, and themselves, a chance. But the reply is always the same – “It didn’t hurt me, Doctor, so I didn’t take any notice of it”.
Joll, talking of this said that every method had been tried to get lay people to co-operate with us in that way, but he said that nothing was any good, and nothing would persuade a patient to confront a doctor with a lump and no symptoms.
A carcinoma of the breast which came into A.2. only yesterday said that she really went to her doctor about her legs, and only happened to mention the drawback to old age being that you get lumps and bumps everywhere. On being asked more about the said lumps and bumps, she said she had one – nothing at all really – in her breast. The doctor made her show him the lump, and so she was packed off to us almost immediately. Perhaps the greatest tragedy though, is to watch their faces, dreading the first signs of their realising what is the matter, and wondering how they will take it. The scared, tearful ones are pathetic, but the dazed and attempting-to-be-brave ones are worse. There are always the arguments for and against knowing everything about your condition, and in these cases it is I think, almost worse for them not to know, for their terrors and imaginings I should think must be terrible, when they suspect cancer.
I remember so well that about a couple of years ago I was sure that I was not a bit afraid of dying, and I remember saying I would not mind dying at all, I think I even said that the death of very near relations and friends would not upset me, as I knew they would be happy and nothing terrible had happened or would happen to them. I remember Whatley saying that unless you actually had experienced such a death you could not realise what it was like, and that really it was for yourself, and for the gap they left that you were miserable. I know I felt pretty cheap preaching away, with no experience, on matters in which I had no knowledge, while remembering she had lost her father, of whom she was extremely fond, not long before. But I know I owned up to talking through my hat, and that remembrance soothes me a little now.
For myself I own I am now less eager to die than I was two years ago. In fact I should be very, very sad, and probably panicky about dying if I knew it was coming soon, and going to cut off all my beautiful castles in the air for my future. But still I don’t honestly think I am afraid, and my experience of death, which has been pretty thorough during the last year, has inclined rather to reassure than upset me. It isn’t such a dreadful thing, and is rather a leaning back and relaxation than the tearing, rending agony that lurid literature pretends. A violent death perhaps would be very painful, but it comes quickly and unexpectedly and is over fast. Indeed a merciful Povidence surely turns all our tragedies into mercies in disguise – certainly nothing is ever so bad as you fear, experience has taught me the profound truth of that, and the knowledge of that truth helps you to give up worrying or meeting troubles even quarter-way.
Talking of violent death I must record that during the last year or two I have blossomed into a thorough-going Pacifist. So far my knowledge of Pacifism has been negligible or non-existent, but my belief in it has rested simply upon the fact that nothing in the world, that I have yet met, would persuade me to kill any human being against whom I had no feelings of personal hatred. Thus I would not take part in a war, and I reject war as an indefensible piece of conduct, for nothing, to me, can justify such meaningless destruction of innocent human beings. This simple conception of war – i.e. just viewing your own part in it – is popularly disregarded, and men – and women – brag noisily of national policy, security and defending their country. Surely it is more reasonable to look first to the step in front, and not speculate vaguely about what happens at the top of the hill. It would not be permissible, would it, to walk on and trample down fellow men, because hey happened to be lying just where you wanted to pass to reach the view? You could prattle as much as you liked about how important it was to see the magnificent view, and the beauties of nature it would reveal, but I should still think you shouldn’t have trodden on anybody to get there.
What’s the good of metaphors anyway!!
Saturday, Dec 11th 1937
My mood is a curious one tonight. I am very very tired, but restless as well and languid – in fact full of the vague wonderings that usually prompt me to unearth this tome and scribble in it. There is nothing special that causes this upheaval of mental waters now and again, but some days the people and things around me are lit up by a different light from that of everyday, and I have time to sit back, as tonight, and let my thoughts run away, this this mood is conjured up. If only I had something to say it would be better, but there is nothing tangible enough for a pen to write, though the desire to write something, or anything, is great.
My gynaecological work keeps me on the go day after day, starting directly after breakfast and sending me fagged out home to supper and a welcoming bed. Perhaps the dramas, hardly even fully registered, during the daily rounds, work up fermenting in my mind until they bubble over. Certainly one sees life, and all sides and sorts of human nature at a big hospital. And though I am now 23, that is not really a vast age for the easy receipt of other people’s troubles, anxieties and murky secrets, and for an effortless assumption of dignity and authority among numberless adults looking to you as ‘doctor’ to help them.
This afternoon I saw the film “Queen Victoria”. It was frightfully good – very like Lytton Strachey’s biography. History is very real in the films, and there, even more than when considered in the abstract, conjures up questions about life and death that are enough to send anyone’s thoughts woolgathering in the limitless space of the mind. Those people who are, or were, so real have gone, all of them, and nothing can stop time stealing us away one by one after our allotted time. First you must go to school, then you must leave it, however much you want to stay, then you must choose something to do for your lifetime, and lastly you must die, and the whole population of which you were a unit will change till the world will be full of other people with whom you share only the fundamental qualities of humanity.
The BBC Theatre Orchestra are broadcasting, and to my tired senses their music making is like a mother’s hand clasped by a fretful child – soothing and calm, beautiful and rather lumpy to the throat. I should delight to be able to play music well, is a way of compassion that cannot be excelled. I should delight too, to be able to appreciate it as musicians proper can.
by Margaret Taylor, age 22 years
September to December, 1936
Meg continues her diary after a three year gap. She is now attending Medical College in London. The year of the three Kings.
- Sunday September 13th 1936 – starting at Medical School, holidays
- Monday September 14th 1936 – Jim’s climb, beach rescue
- Monday September 21st 1936 – Jim’s career, cold baths, fasting
- Monday October 26th 1936 – back to Medical School
- Thursday December 3rd 1936 – Medical training, fear of fainting
- Sunday December 6th 1936 -Edward VIII’s abdication, patient’s death
Sunday September 13th 1936
It is about three years ago that I finished my last diary, and since then I haven’t kept one, only scribbling once or twice when I felt the urge. I have had this book for about a week, and have been meaning to get started every day. Today is a good day to begin, although I never realised until I headed this with the date, for it is the 13th and 13 is my number, whether good or bad I’m not certain, but it dogs me on all occasions – exam numbers, bus tickets, cheques etc.
It would be no good trying to give an account of these last three years, so I mean to put down just the main events, and then go on as usual from now on. The book is the product of Auntie Tia’s 2/- birthday present, and should last me to a ripe old age, I should think.
[Note: It did! The last entry was in December 2010, when Meg was 96!]
I left school just two years ago, after being Head Girl for a term, captain of cricket for a season, and two years in the sixth, one with Miss Phillips , one with Miss Glenday.
I got the Mabel Sharman Crawford scholarship to L.S.M and Miss Glenday gave me the School Gamble scholarship.
The first month or two in London by myself was a bit of an agony, horribly lonely in the evenings, and waking in the morning with the sudden realisation of where I was – it makes me feel ‘that sinking feeling’ to remember it.
But although it is easy to remember feeling lonely, there was much more time when I was enjoying myself thoroughly and I don’t think that at any time I would have been glad to give up London and come back to work at the Bristol University. As time goes on I am more and more glad I managed to get into L.S.M. and had to come up and get along by myself.
I went into the Revision Course, and Freda Bulkeley was the only other fresher to go into it with me. There were about a dozen of us altogether, and there are only about six left together, and McClintock stays at L.S.M. in October when the rest of us go to hospital. During that first term I got to know nobody well, the first person to make any friendly overtures I remember was Birchenough, and at Physics I worked with King for a bit, and didn’t know quite what to make of her.
I liked and got to know Dr. Leyshon, and we had a long chat before 1st M.B. but since then, after passing at Christmas, I hardly see her at all.
During my second term and since then it has been Anatomy and Phys. with Pharm. lately. The work is jolly interesting and pretty hard. I have worked not over hard, but quite consistently, going to the library in the evenings. I passed 2nd M.B. in July, a couple of months ago, and start hospital work about the middle of October. In 2nd I did well in Anatomy, both papers and practicals, but in Phys. Cully said my paper was very weak – ‘most disappointing’ but the practical was good, and helped me through. Both Bulkeley and Westerman thought of taking Primary in December if possible, and I hoped to too. But after consultations the staff advised, in fact Heever declared, that we could not manage it, and had better wait for April if we wanted to do it. So we are still undecided.
People who got through 2nd with me were – Bulkeley, Westerman, Jones, Bennett, Chalmers, Mrs Yates, Whatley, Baker, and others. King was down in something – I hope only Pharm. McClintock and Oehlers down in Anatomy, Kohiyar and W.W. in Phys. and Paine, Hodkinson, Evans etc. failed in ‘something’. I am longing to go to hospital, although these summer holidays have been and are marvellous fun. We went to Teignmouth and had wonderful weather. Peggy Hale and Betty came with us, so we were seven. We bathed a lot, and had a very vigorous time. Betty behaved jolly well, is a fine kid and a grand soul to have on a holiday. Peggy and Alan behaved as conventional lovers all the time. I don’t know whether I feel jealous of their happiness. I don’t think so, but somehow their behaviour irritated me. The sight of them lying flat on the Lilo side by side, arms and legs mixed up, and faces or backs carefully exposed to the sun made me churn inside. They were the same everywhere, crowded beach, front garden of our digs, and, though perhaps I’m wrong, I couldn’t help thinking that when I am in love I shall never spread-eagle over my partner in full gaze of the public or even out of it. It is just the way we are made I suppose, but I mean to marry someone of the same make as myself.
Since we came back from Teignmouth , Peggy and Alan went for a holiday in Wales with four others, and from there to Bournemouth.. Alan returns here tomorrow, and Peggy also returns for work in a week or so. Betty went up to London to stay with Auntie Edith, and from there on to the Misses Perry’s, and her precious Maureen’s. Mummy took an excursion up for a shopping expedition on Thursday, and I would have gone with her, but Daddy had a feverish chill, and so I stayed at home.
Tennis has been my main relaxation these hols. as I joined the Clifton Club for the holidays and have played ever such a lot, and got better than I have been before. It is almost midnight so I’ll stop for now, but there is still heaps of those two years to fill up.
Monday September 14th 1936
I am officially working in the den now, but there is just nice time before lunch to write a little more in here, so I am deserting anatomy for the present.
While we were at Teignmouth several exciting things happened. Jim came down for a day about half-way through the holiday. We went across the river to Shalden, and over the rocks from there to a beach around the headland – Labrador – where the bathing was quite good, and there was a raft. We bathed before tea, and soon after Jim said he felt like a climb, and wanted to tackle the cliffs backing the beach. They looked fairly easy, some green shrub and bracken, brambles etc. growing over most of it, although it was pretty steep, especially near the top. Daddy, Betty and Pat also started, but came down after a few yards as the beginning was difficult. As Jim got further up we could see that the going was pretty hard and the footholds often precarious, and the easiest way up that we saw he said was impossible as the scrub was impenetrable. After ten minutes or so he was quite far up, and most people on the beach were gazing up at him. Some fishermen came up and said that the last boy who tried to climb up there had to be hauled to the top, and advised us to phone for the coastguards from the little café there. Mums was getting really anxious about him, and Daddy insisted upon climbing up part of the way to be able to hear what Jim said, as his shouts in reply to ours were drowned by the noise of the waves. Daddy disappeared in the undergrowth, and did not reappear for about a quarter of an hour by which time we were wondering which of the two was most dangerously situated. He had got up part of the way and reported that Jim was perfectly all right, and was going to climb to the top. By that time Jim was only a speck on the cliff, and we could only just make out his movements. When almost at the top he jumped and slithered and disappeared, and my heart somersaulted most uncomfortably, though luckily Mums wasn’t looking at that moment. However, he reappeared after a few minutes, and reached the top safely, turning round to wave cheerily before disappearing over the top. Mums had a horrid fright, for when turning back to look at him again she saw a seagull swooping down the cliff, and for a moment thought it was Jim tumbling. We were both jolly relieved when he reached safety, and remained rooted on the beach until we saw him safe. Daddy, Pat and Betty started climbing the cliff steps to reach him from above – which it turned out they could not have managed because of the nature of the ground above – before they saw him gain the top. And Alan and Peggy wandered off along the rocks to the next cove, and home to Dawlish soon after we began to get worried. I could not help thinking what selfish, thoughtless people they were to do that then. Jim got back before we did, and only had scratches, though plenty of them, to show for his adventure. I’m not sure whether we did not have a harder time than he did that afternoon.
Another adventure was one that happened to me, and in contrast to Jim’s, only lasted a couple of minutes or so. Pat and I had gone down for a bathe by ourselves before tea, nobody else being keen. It was towards the end of the rough seas we had during the second week, and the waves were still more rough than normally, and a nasty undercurrent was running out. We bathed, and then were sitting right on the edge of the water sunning ourselves before returning. After a few minutes there was a chorus of shouting from several bathers standing just within their depth, though probably out of it when the big waves came. They yelled ‘Help, help’ and were looking back beseechingly to people on the beach, to rescue a woman who was about twenty or thirty feet further out, and apparently drowning. As soon as I realised what was happening I jumped up and dashed in, wading as far as I could, and then swimming hard. I passed the group of bathers and got to the woman, who was just passively floating, head only just out of the water. As soon as I reached her she gave up all effort and just flopped, giving me all her weight to support. I wasn’t ready for this, and she went under for a moment, and it seemed ages before I could pull her head out of the water again. Then I put my right arm around her chest, and swam back as best I could, the bathers grabbing her as soon as I reached them. They let her go down too at first, but then carried her back to the beach all right, and I followed as far as the water’s edge, but then returned to Pat, as she had more than enough helpers. Nobody took any notice of me, being more interested in her, and in a man who had plunged in with all his clothes on. It was all over so quickly that I could hardly realise anything had happened when I was sitting down by Pat again. But I did feel very proud of having saved somebody, although all the time I knew quite well and recognised that in another minute or two somebody else would have reached her, and that I had run absolutely no risk as she was not far out, and had not struggled or anything.
So that made two bathing rescues in two years for me – the last one last year being Derek while we were surf-bathing at St. Owen’s at Jersey. But then, although that one was more difficult, and I was more laid out than he was when we got in, I always felt that it would have been my fault if he had been drowned, as I was left in charge of him. In his case however if I hadn’t got him nobody else would , and he would certainly have been drowned. We did not know then that St. Owen’s is very dangerous bathing just where we were, and since then we have heard of at least a dozen people drowned there. I wonder if the tradition will be continued next year!
Monday September 21st 1936
I haven’t made up the gap left by those last two years, but today there are the happenings of yesterday to record first.
Several months ago Jim broke the news that he had applied for a short-time commission in the R.A.F. He would have to train for about four years, and then be on the reserve list for another couple of years I think. He was paid a good lump sum – £500 I think – at the end of the four years, and pay during that time. He said it was really as a means of getting money, and that he hoped to have time for writing while training. We were all rather sorry he had fixed on this to do, as he wasn’t keen on it himself, and it seemed an awful waste of precious youth time. Nothing further was heard about it from the authorities until yesterday when Jim said he had had a letter giving him the time for an appointment in London this week. This brought another wave of discontent with the project, and after lunch yesterday when he, Dad, Alan, Betty and I were in the drawing room Daddy broached the subject, saying he and Mums were sorry Jim was deciding to join the R.A.F. and suggesting that the money he could save might be much less than he imagined. Jim agreed, saying that he was doubtful about that too. He, Dad and I then discussed any other ways of getting a living that we thought suitable. Jim said he thought possibly of returning to journalism, or getting sub-editor on a magazine etc. I suggested going to the University for a literature teaching degree, and Dad that he should see Sam Bensusan in London, and try to get a leg up from him. We discussed all these things and it came out that Jim was in the middle of a book which was shaping very well, and which it was his chief desire to finish. He said his previous one had been kept for several months by Jenkins, and that was a good sign, but that he was very dissatisfied with it himself when he got it back, but that there were good parts in it, and rewriting might make it worth while. His verse was also greatly improved lately and all he wanted now was just time to settle down to writing, tooth and nail, and that in a year he would have ‘got started’ he was sure.
Then came what I am writing all this for primarily. A perfect little speech from Dad, the second of that pure gold variety which makes your heart sing to know the author of it. The first was a long time ago, and was aimed at Alan, and I have written it down in my old diary I think. Daddy said quite simply that the money he and Mums had was not for themselves, that they would ‘pop off’ and it would all go to their children, and that that was what it was for. He said that he would be delighted to give Jim the £2 a week for a year – which was all he really wanted to be blissfully happy – and that (in reply to his murmuring that it was to be a loan, and that he would guarantee to repay it) he must not regard it as a loan or feel duty bound in gratitude to himself and Mums at all, as the money was of no importance to them except as could be used for the children. It’s no use – I can’t write it as he said it, it gets too drawn out and loses the simple straightforward beauty that it had.
But if Daddy’s part of the proceedings was a pure glimpse of a fine soul, I think Jim’s was hardly less. He thanked Daddy earnestly, and said he saw it from his point of view. But when Dads said ‘that was all fixed then, we’ll start on Monday, tomorrow’ he couldn’t speak, and had to raise the luckily voluminous Telegraph to cover his confusion. When it dawned upon us what his continued silence meant Daddy and I suddenly remembered our wallpapering task and departed to it at the double. When outside Daddy said smiling ‘He does feel it strongly, doesn’t he?’ and as I was almost dissolving myself by then I just mumbled that it was jolly nice that he did.
Mums asked me at tea time whether it was true that Dad had persuaded Jim to give up the R.A.F. project, and I replied that it probably was, though it wasn’t definitely fixed. She was overjoyed. I longed then, and several other times during the day to tell her about how Jim had taken it, but that joy I left resolutely to Daddy, as I knew he would tell her everything when they were alone together, and that a quiet chat and happiness shared alone would be the least reward they could have for their great goodness.
I’ve left a line because what is coming next seems so far removed both in importance and mood from what has just been written. But still it is part of my life, and so it is going down with the rest. – thank goodness for the variety of even an uneventful life!
I have been trying cold baths in the morning for the last fortnight or so, and for the last three days, encouraged by the book ‘The Cauldron of Disease’ I am reading, in the evenings too. To these I have added five or ten minutes doing exercises after the bath, and have managed to make myself more stiff in two or three days than in weeks of hard tennis. The combination certainly sends me glowing with health down to breakfast or to bed. The success of these schemes encouraged me to try an experiment I have been turning over in my mind for a long time. I decided to go for a whole day without eating anything, just to see what it was like, and whether I should get awfully hungry by the evening. I was afraid the others, especially Mums, would make a fuss and not let me, but when I announced my intention yesterday morning there was only a little nagging, and not a determined effort to dissuade me. I had two cups of tea for breakfast, no lunch, Three cups of tea for supper, and a cigarette at each mealtime. I never felt hungry at all, which was rather disappointing. At lunchtime my tummy started rumbling vigorously, but gave up protesting in a little while. In the evening I had a dull sort of tummy ache, and my supper cups of tea did not taste a bit right, and also I was very surprised to find that I could not taste my cigarette at all unless I took enormous puffs.
Also about supper time, after walking home from church, my legs felt rather wobbly and weak at the knees, and my head liable to get slightly dizzy. But perhaps these were feelings I brought on myself, or imagined, as I had a vigorous cold bath and did strenuous exercises before going to bed, quite normally, and felt perfectly fit then. This morning I had my usual small breakfast of one piece of toast and two cups of tea, so my fast has really been quite long, and if this breakfast is not counted has gone from supper on Saturday to lunch on Monday. I’m not sure whether the rest it gives the tummy is counterbalanced by lowered vitality or not. I mean to repeat the performance quite soon, perhaps – not so drastically – every Sunday.
Monday October 26th 1936
Somehow now I have got a diary I don’t seem to use it very much. This evening though, after a very strenuous day, my head is splitting with a beastly headache and instead of working I am going to play here.
A lot has happened in the last week. Last Monday I bid a sad goodbye to the family and returned here to the scene of my labours. But coming back was exciting as it meant starting at hospital, which I have been longing for for ages. The pre-clinical course takes a fortnight, and so is already half finished. After that Bulkeley, Westerman, jones, Whatley, Mrs Yates, Westmorland-White and I go onto Dr. Hare’s medicine post. Pre-clinical has been very interesting so far. Danny Davis who gives the medicine lectures is a very nice man, although very full of mannerisms which give the impression of unbounded conceit. But really he is very kind and quick to see things sympathetically. He is a budding physician, so I am told. Miss Barry supervises bandaging parties which are the only representatives of surgery we have had officially as yet. After much inquiring and wavering of minds we have all acquired stethoscopes and are busy learning to hear through them. We have already ‘listened in’ to one normal and two abnormal heart cases, and tomorrow are to hear more abnormal ones. The pharmacy lectures with Mr Macready started by making us all giggle hard, as he treats us as if we had just learnt to talk. But now we laugh with instead of at him, as he shows a good sense of humour and makes his otherwise dull lessons quite enjoyable.
This afternoon we went to watch Mr Joll’s ops. and saw several thyroids, and a stomach feeding tube put in. I have been leaving off my glasses as much as possible, and apparently watching intently for so long was too much, for the headache I had started by lunchtime was almost maddening when we came away. But it is a bit better now, and will probably be quite vanquished by the aspirins I mean to swallow at bedtime.
This morning I overslept, waking up at 8:30, and having a 9:00 lecture! I scrambled desperately, arriving just after 9:00 and Danny Davis didn’t appear till nearly 20 past.
Jones, Bulkely and I are all thinking of taking Primary next April but can’t decide definitely until we have seen Prof. Lucas Keene, and he has given the Staff’s official permission. I am dreading that the Phys. staff will say I don’t stand an earthly chance, I don’t tghink the anatomy staff will be so discouraging, but it will be enough to kill the chance of being allowed to try if the phys. people set their faces against it. Bulkeley may have to give up the idea for health reasons. She is not a bit strong, and hospital work may be more than enough for her without having to work like a nigger every evening. We had arranged to see Prof. today, but that was put off. But I expect we shall be summoned to hear the verdict quite soon; I hops so, for if all is well I want to get on with the good work right away.
Whatley and Mrs Yates are sharing a flat in John Street and so are jolly near hospital. Whether they get on well together or not I don’t know for certain. I notice they quite often sit separated from each other which seems odd, but they may have made a compact not to get too exclusively friendly – a wise move. Somehow I’m not sure they would suit each other perfectly, but then hardly any two people would, and they have obviously much in common anyway.
Seeing those ops. this afternoon completely exhausted me, though I didn’t realise it ’till afterwards. There is a sense of melodrama in an operating theatre, and the strict discipline and silent co-operation of everyone present is impressive and rather awe-inspiring. Everything is in deadly earnest and of great importance – I am rather dreading my first appearance there in an official capacity.
Enough for now, I must do some gentle reading.
Thursday December 3rd 1936
More than a month since I last wrote – I can hardly believe it. Hospital is still as enthralling and exhausting as ever, and the joy of it is rather increasing than diminishing. One month of the three under Dr. Hare has flown by, and although we seem at present very lost amongst the masses of new knowledge revealed to us daily, still a good deal sinks in I think, and we are progressingm though slowly.
Up to date my cases have been – 1) Mrs Askew – little grey-haired lady with pernicious anaemia 2) Harold Church 29 a very groggy heart from rheumatic fever 3) Dorothy Byworth 15 1/2 a tremendous girl with a pituitary dysfunction 4) Mrs Eason a dark young wife with thyroid and very nervy 5) David Richards, a Welshman, with ? colitis and pancreatitis.
We have rounds with Dr. Hare twice a week, and although they are rather prolonged they certainly teach us a lot, and one of the very first things I learnt was to like Dr. Hare extremely. Her kindliness to patients is an example to everybody – and I wish Dr. Davies and others would try to copy her a little more.
Miss Scott, the house physician, is also extremely nice, not condescending, or unwilling to be bothered with our little worries. Mrs. Stuart who gives us a round and a tutorial once a week is a very attractive person, and also teaches very well indeed, so altogether we are blessed in our superiors. The seniors on the post – O. Jones, Collins, Blatchford, Milne, Spencer – are very decent and not lordly at all thank goodness.
Outpatients with Dr. Davies is rather a waste of time – not that our time is very precious at present – as he does not teach much, and races through about ten to fifteen people in an hour and a half or so. Dr. Hobhouse’s outpatients is really well worth going to, perhaps because there are fewer patients. His teaching is excellent, and we learn a great deal from him, as his mind is a very clear one, and he presents facts very clearly. I skipped his outpatients this afternoon at 3:00pm to go and meet Auntie Isa at Paddington, returning from Paignton. Somehow I missed her, but found her later at Barbara B-B’s flat where I stayed about 3/4 hr as she, Ruth and B. were going to a Medical Dinner and had to begin dressing. What attracts me in Auntie as in Jean Butt too I think, is her transparent honesty and frankness – though Auntie is quite liable to cheat openly and frankly, and Jean never would. I wish I could be better friends with Barbara, but we just can’t manage it though we both try.
When I am with her in company we get along quite well, but when together, or if she is with her own friends there is an air of disquiet all the time that we cannot overcome. I am afraid the difficulty is insurmountable; her upbringing and mine have been very different, she belongs to quite a different ‘set’ and our outlook and manners are widely separated, so I think we must just go our different ways, although it seems silly when her mother and Auntie are such great friends, and we are working together at the same hospital.
I am being rather worried at present by my inconvenient habit, noticed especially recently, of nearly fainting at even slightly ‘gruesome’ sights or deeds. My first two W.R.s made me feel very odd, and I am not quite safe about them yet, though much better I think. Last week when Scott did a venesection on a man with brimless-pneumonia and intense congestion, removing about 1/2 pint of blood, I was very near to fainting and had to get near the door for emergencies. When we had the Schick test too I was very frightened in case I should really faint then, and it would have been a dreadful disgrace to faint for such a trivial thing. I don’t mind the pain at all it is just the thought of a needle going into the arm which upsets me – but everyone would of course think it was sheer funk – perhaps it is all funk, but it is certainly not put on, and I can’t control it. The only way it gets better is by doing things repeatedly until I am so used to them they don’t bother me. But the repeat process is rather painful for the nerves. What worries me at the moment is how I shall react to all the horrid things in surgery and casualty. Johnston has been telling me of all kinds of beastly things she has done on casualty – stitching up great gaping scalp wounds, removing ingrowing toenails, and giving gas and O2 every day. At the moment I just can’t picture myself standing up to those things, but by the time I reach them it may be all right.
The days are so exhausting and my bad habit of going to bed late so ingrown, that I am too tired in the evenings to settle down to work, and I read instead or listen to the wireless. This can’t go on long as I must settle down to work. I have sent Jim two poems so far – the first mush, the second as he said ‘on the target but an outer’ so that is not exactly sparkling. I mean to try again soon, perhaps this weekend, as it promises to be a dull one.
This term I have been to see Pride and Prejudice, and Die Fledermaus, and tomorrow I am going to try to get in for Madame Butterfly . Good-night!
Sunday December 6th 1936
What a momentous day for the nation! The King’s decision will be out tomorrow, and whatever it is, it is bound to have pretty serious consequences. If only he would give up the wretched Mrs. Simpson, but there seems little chance of that.
Yesterday Mr. Payne in Calthorpe Ward died of mediastinal new growth. This is my first death at close quarters though I didn’t see his body thank goodness. He was in only a few days, and the suddenness of it makes it hard to believe. That he should really have died, be beyond anything we can do and think of, when only the day before he was sitting up and really quite cheerful; it’s unreal almost. I never thought death would upset me as I have a comfortable belief about it, but the reality needs some adjustment to the belief, and I find it difficult and upsetting. The thought of him is continually cropping up in my mind, and I cried this afternoon when I wrote to Jim and mentioned it. I mean to go through it thoroughly in bed tonight and get it settled in my mind so it won’t worry me all the time. A doctor without an opinion on death is not complete, although my opinion will probably grow more true as I grow older. Good-night!
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.
by Margaret Taylor, age 17 years
Covers January to December, 1932
There are fewer diary entries this year. Meg is in her penultimate year at Clifton High. She enjoyed trips over the summer holidays, and is still agonising over whether she is a good enough person, and her shyness at social functions. On armistice day, she has some interesting musings about War
- Tuesday, January 12th 1932
- Sunday, March 27th 1932
- Sunday May 29th 1932
- Sunday October 8th 1932
- Sunday November 6th 1932
- Friday November 11th Armistice Day 1932
- Sunday December 18th 1932
Tuesday, January 12th 1932
Well, it is now getting near the end of the Christmas hols, and we shall soon all be trotting back to school. I shan’t mind!
We had an awfully jolly Christmas, and enjoyed ourselves tremendously. You would not think it possible, but the last two or three days have been almost good enough for summer – warm sun and quite warm air in the mornings, but it has rained a bit in the afternoons.
We (Science people of VI b ) did quite well in the exams. I think the mistresses are quite pleased with us.
|Botany||I 76%||I 81%||I 79%|
|Zoology||I 76%||I 75%||I 81%|
|Physics||III 56%||II 62%||II 64%|
|Mechanics||II 67%||IV 40%||II 70%|
|Chemistry Theory||IV 32%||III 52%||III 58%|
|“ Practical||III 50%||II 68%||III 58%|
I sent Christmas cards to tons of people, among whom were five Mistresses – Miss Rootham, Miss Gare, Miss Allen, Miss Denny and Miss Thomas. Miss Allen and Miss Denny sent me one in return. I think it was awfully decent of them, and certainly was very surprising!
Jean and I are rather worried because two or three of the Christmas set will be coming up to join us next term. It will not be nearly so nice with six as with only three people.
Jean and I are going to the 30th Bristol Guide Company tomorrow. We went last Wednesday and had a lovely time. The Captain who is awfully nice asked us to bring a game each next time, so we are getting rather nervous. I love Guides and have got my Ranger 2nd Class all except the garment (which I have just made) and taking a team game, which we will do at school next term.
Pat had a party a week ago last Wednesday, and invited back all the children who had invited her, there was a noise! It must have been heard all over Clifton I should think! But they all enjoyed themselves, which is the great thing. I am having a more modest affair on Friday, and have thought of anything we can do yet!
I have bought a wire-haired fox terrier with my £2-10-0. I call him Kim, and he is a sweet little thing, I’m awfully fond of him already although he has only been here just over a week. He was very shy and frightened at first, but has improved a great deal lately and has become much more like the normal mischievous puppy.
Uncle Fred has just gone back to Paignton. He came up on Friday for a change of air. He really is the funniest person I know. He has no money at all (except Auntie Isa’s) and yet he is as extravagant as can be. The funny thing is he doesn’t know it!
Goodbye for a little while.
Sunday, March 27th 1932
Today I found God. I have been waiting for this for a long time, and now it’s happened.
I know that there is a little bit of God in my soul, and I feel almost overwhelmingly happy.
I must spend all my energy now in making myself worthy, and in preparing myself to carry on His work as a missionary.
This evening I went to church for the first time in the evening for a very long time. Usually we either go round to the Butts’ or they come to us, but this week they had some relations staying with them, so our visit was postponed. It seemes as if God meant me to go because Mr Hart, who preached, woke me up and showed me God for the first time in that way. Mr George Young told me I was going to be a missionary; now Mr Hjart has opened my eyes.
I can’t say how happy I feel, but I feel also very unworthy and shallow, but now I have got the power to be better, and with God’s help I am going to be.
I know I am going to get to know God better, and I really am going to follow Him all my life. It is wonderful, and very awe-inspiring, and it makes my very heart sing. I feel I can do anything, with His help. My daily life will have to be reformed, and I must change my whole character, but I mean to do it. Nobody knows – it’s a secret between Him and me, and it is a very great secret. It will be very wonderful if I can make others find God, but now I am shy, I don’t think I’m ashamed, but I don’t like to talk about it. Perhaps I shall get out of that.
My whole life lies before me, with God’s help I am going to make the very most of it.
Abide with me!
Sunday May 29th 1932
It is a long time since I wrote anything of my daily life, and the family.
Since I wrote last I have been to a Guide Camp at Loxlease in the New Forest. We had a lovely time , and got to know the Blackheath girls who joined with us. June Penney was the nicest, I think, and it’s time I wrote to her again.
I am now vice captain of the school for cricket, and have to run the second eleven, and perform many duties. I am also in the swimming team, and dive for the school.
As a result of all this activity my work is not progressing as well as it should be, and I shall have to swot for the end-of-term exams which will be on the whole year’s work.
Jim was without a job when the Bristol Evening Times was bought up by the Evening World, but has got a reporter’s job again on the new paper – the Evening Post.
Today I have been in bed all the time. I got a sore throat at the Guide meeting we held on Friday in the pouring rain up at the field. Therefore I missed the Guide Service held at the Colston Hall this evening, because of Guide Sunday, which marks the coming of age of the Guide movement. Jean, Joan and I cleaned Miss Thomas’ car for Guide week.It made me late for a music rehearsal, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Jean, Joan and I have all ‘cracked’ on Miss Gare the Physics mistress. It makes life at school most exciting and we have great fun in her lessons. She is really sensibly decent, not only ‘nice’. We don’t know what to do when we meet her, and get red, and the funny part is that she does the same! We don’t know if she likes us, but I don’t think she dislikes us violently, although she would not show it if she did.
Every week Jean and I teach the Transition reading. It is great fun, and we enjoy and look forward to it. We also take Form II for games once a week.
I’ve been reading a book about a girl who was born from a mother who had never married and all about the hard time she had to keep straight. It seems to me that it is awfully unfair, although awfully easy, to condemn people for doing wrong. Probably you would have done the same under the same circumstances.
I also believe that there is Beauty in everything, however ugly, if looked at in the right way, so I am going to look the right way in future if I can.
Life is very interesting and very complex, and I want my life not to be a blot in the pattern, but it will be if I’m not careful and steady.
Sunday October 8th 1932
It is a long time since I wrote last, but it seems very little of great interest has happened since then.
For the summer holidays I went away three times – once with Jean and Ken on a hiking tour of Exmoor, for three weeks; once with the family to Burnham, or rather Berrow. Helen and Lilian came down to stay with us , and added greatly to the success of that fortnight. The other holiday was one I spent with Jean and Joan at Tynings Farm on the Mendips, for the last ten days before school.
The hiking holiday was great sport, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it certainly made us come back heaps fitter than before we went. I only wish Alan had gone. I shan’t say much about this holiday here, because I have got my letters, which give a running commentary on the subject.
The holiday at Berrow with the family was really topping. The only fault was that the place gave Dad bad asthma, and even Alan had a touch of it. We spent our time, mostly, in being lazy – bathing, basking on the deserted sands, watching the golf, or reading a book on the sand dunes, and sometimes playing tennis on the Cricklands Hotel courts. Alan entered for a Junior Tournament, and did quite well. We went to watch almost every day. I saw the Westons – Sally and Jill – there, and they did excellently.
The three of us – Jean, Joan and I – had a lovely time at Tynings, although the weather was not quite so glorious as it had been for the first two holidays. One day we cycled to Berrow, and called on the Wellands – the people with whom we had stayed when we went there. Their dog Laddie is a topping animal, and played hide and seek with us on the sand dunes.
We are hard at work at school again now, and our school days are rapidly slipping by. I wish they wouldn’t. I don’t feel a bit grown up and dignified, although I’m in VI a now. I am in the first teams at present for hockey and netball, but I’m not sure to remain there. Jean is captain of netball, and therefore very important and busy.
We are all three still ‘gone’ on Miss Gare, who has lately been giving us lectures on good behaviour, because now we have to set the new VI bs a good example. Bah!
I have not changed about wanting to be a medical missionary, and I am pretty certain that I wouldn’t want to now. I have been reading what I wrote on March 27th, and it makes me a bit sad. I have drifted away from God a bit, in fact I don’t stay near for longer than an hour or two. But anyway I have managed to get back again always, and am always making good resolutions. A good many of VI a are going to lectures by the Reverend Roberton and Cannon Narborough at the Cathedral school on Fridays. I have only been to the first one so far, but I think they are going to be very good.
Will try to remember to carry on next Sunday.
Sunday November 6th 1932
I have not written, as I originally intended, every Sunday. This is principally because nothing of great interest has happened lately. School life is pretty monotonous, although it is very jolly too.
Last Thursday the Sixth gave a ‘Social’ to the staff – not all, about 30 – and it went off rather well. We played a dreadful game called Ducky-ducky in which you have to be blindfolded and guess the person who replies ‘quack-quack’, when you have succeeded in catching them. It was not very popular, as all feelings of respect – or coldness – between staff and girls cannot be quite overcome even at a social. After supper, during which I sat next to and entertained (?) Miss Marshall, we played charades, and it was great fun. The other side acted Hamlet, and we did Guy, as it was Guy Fawkes day on Saturday. In the lst scene I was the guy, and was adorned (among other things) with a wretched boa-arrangement, which tried to get right down my throat every time I breathed in!
Last night – Nov 5th – we had a small celebration in Pat’s honour in the back garden. One of the rockets went off almost before Mummy had lighted it, and left us all absolutely breathless, and gaping up into the sky at a fast vanishing streak of light. We were more cautious with the other, and had to wait through several heart-rending seconds of suspense before it went off. It landed, with great gusto, in the Elliots’ garden. Later we – Dad, Mum, Pat and I – went to the Zoo, and saw a gigantic bonfire, and the fireworks, which were very good indeed this time.
I have written to Miss Bowser about being a missionary, and her reply should be very interesting.
A new gym mistress has come just lately – Miss Price. She is awfully nice, and very competent! Flea and Jean, who naturally see a lot of her being netball captains, are both completely and utterly crushed on her. It is awful fun watching them, and Miss Price, and they do hate being teased about it, although they don’t try to hide it.
Friday November 11th Armistice Day 1932
It is Armistice Day today, and we had a little service at school at 11 o’clock. The two minutes seemed very short this year – there is such a lot to think about.
Miss Phillips talked to us very nicely at first prayers and said that we must think not only of the sacrifice and bravery of those who died, and those who were crippled or maimed, but of the carrying on of their work, and the determination to throw all our weight always in the cause of peace.
Today always seems to be a mixture of feelings to me. There is something grand, awe-inspiring, in the contemplation of the war, and the sacrifice of millions of men and families. But also there seems a deep sense of mockery, of sarcasm, even of sham in all of the Armistice Day celebrations. It seems so easy, so obvious, to say ‘what good has all this war – this sacrifice done to anybody’ and all the poetry, the noble sentiments portraying men as heroically and willingly laying down their lives, instead of blindly scrambling forwards, probably stiff with fright, longing to have an opening to escape and run away from all the noise, the stench, and ugliness of the ungodly side of men’s nature, and then meeting the enemy – men like themselves, feeling the same thoughts – of home – and longing for the same thing – peace – and then the slaughter; blind, ruthless, senseless slaughter. It does not seem possible that Man, created in the image of God, could or ever would, do such a thing. Anyway it seems false, rings hollow, to speak of supreme and selfless sacrifice in connection with this atrocity. The only good thing war did, that I can see, is to create a horror of war in the minds of men. This was certainly a good thing,and I hope the lesson will never be forgotten.
The thought of another war, and it has been said in all seriousness, and by those who should know, that there will probably be another in about the next ten years, is unbearable. I pray God there will not be another, and if everybody decides there will be no more war there probably will not be one.
Sunday December 18th 1932
The same old trouble has been cropping up again, and I have been rather worried about it. A Miss Parnell wrote to Mum inviting Jim, Alan and me to join a holiday dancing club. Of course Jim couldn’t because of his work. Alan wanted to, and wanted me to! I still loathe dancing at parties and things where there are boys, although I enjoyed the dance thing we had at club.
Somehow with only girls it is absolutely different. Boys make the whole thing a flirting contest. I always feel terribly sensitive at functions, and am always ready to notice the slightest feeling of ‘unwantedness’ which I think is one of the most utterably miserable feelings possible. I am absolutely plain, if not ugly, and added to that I feel, and probably look, quite out of place and unutterbly uncomfortable at dances or mixed parties, so I am left alone, and try to appear not to mind. This makes me seem superior and aloof, and things get worse and worse. Blow dancing, parties, boys, everything! I am sure it is much more sensible to stay at home and read a decent book. The enjoyment of this is infinitely superior to the hilarious gaiety of parties. This is partly proved by the feeling of flatness and dejection that, with me at any rate, always follows the last farewell after a social afternoon or evening. It is shallow, ephemeral enjoyment, not like the passive enjoyment or contentment of the mind which is caused by a good book, or good music.
That reminds me – Alan is jazz mad. He has got a mandolin, and is quite good at it. He plays dance tunes unendingly, and hums or taps jazz all over the house. We have tiffs because I cannot bear jazz, at least not in comparison to classical music. It, like most modern enjoyments and modern outlooks, seems shallow, full of sparkle and noise on top and nothing underneath. All this is extremely cynical, and sounds suspiciously as if I were moralising, but I do feel it, and strongly too.
I am afraid my sensitiveness has given me an inferiority complex. I always feel that I am worse at the thing I am doing than anybody else is. Maybe I am, but perhaps it is thinking it that makes it true. For instance, the 1st XI forwards had a hockey practice on Saturday. I was quite happy at first and got on quite well. When shooting once however I took my eye off the ball and muffed it completely. Peggy Heaven murmured ‘good shot’ sarcastically and made me feel a fool. Consequently I got worried, and went from bad to worse, missing the ball altogether more than once. The others all did good shots, and I felt terribly inferior, and began wishing I wasn’t in the first after all, as I am the worst one ther, but they haven’t any wings so they can’t chuck me.
This feeling of inferiority comes often in other things too. I joined Guides late – as a cadet in VI b. I was elected a patrol leader this term (probably because the VI b s who voted too were newly arrived and did not know I had only been a guide a year) and am the most inexperienced of the leaders, with inexperienced guides in my patrol. I am also secretary for the Cadet company and have to perform all the horrible little social jobs that I am hopelessly muddled about, and forget the most important things.
Again, since I joined late I don’t know the country dances, and make a mess of things at the country dance parties. Consequently I stay away when possible, and go back knowing even less afterwards! It is all a terrible muddle, and all because I am so beastly sensitive. I wish I was like Mary who would not think about that kind of thing. It is all right for boys at dances and things. They only have to ask a girl to dance, and she can’t very well refuse. But a girl has to wait to be asked, and if she is plain and out of place, and sensitive, she won’t be asked and then endures torture sitting in full view of all the others, unwanted. I am not going to risk that if I can help it.
I hope doctors don’t have to go to dances and things, but perhaps I shan’t mind when I am older. Oh, dash everything, I’m going to stay at home and go out alone. It’s safe and more enjoyable whatever anybody says.
All Meg’s poems have been added to the new site now…. I am starting to add the diaries.
So far her first three years are done: 1929, 1930 and 1931.
Read here…. Meg’s Diaries
by Margaret Taylor, age 16 years
Covers January 1931 to December 5th, 1931
Meg is still at Clifton High. Takes her school Certificate exams.
Agonises over her religious calling as a missionary
Thursday, January 1st 1931
Last night was New Year’s Eve. Dad, Jim and Alan went to a pantomime at Weston-Super-Mare in which Olive Vivian was principle boy, and her husband conductor of the orchestra. They say it was very good. After the performance there was a dance, which went on until one or two o’clock. Alan danced with Olive and the chorus girls, and has been filled with a craze for dancing. I wonder how long it will last. The man in whose car they had arranged to come back, had been to a dance somewhere else and had had too much to drink. He was afraid to drive back in that condition and so he told Dad that he had sold the car. They were therefore stranded, but luckily found bed accomodation in Olive’s digs. Mum and I were awfully worried about them when they did not turn up, and imagined all sorts of terrible things, though we told each other they were perfectly safe, of course. At last Dad rang up about 11 o’clock and relieved our anxiety.
So the most part of the family spent the last of the old year and beginning of the new one dancing in a garish hall, with a jazz band and a lot of bare-armed chorus girls. I could have gone if I had wanted but I hate dancing, and it seems such a terrible way of beginning a new year. Instead, I remained at home with Mum, and saw the old year out and the New Year in on my knees in front of the Almighty God, asking His help, strength and comfort for all in general and myself in particular for the coming year.
The others may call me a stay-at-home unsociable thing, but I am now sure that my way is best.
Thursday, January 6th 1931
Alan has just gone to a dance at the zoo. Dad wanted me to go too, but I did not want to. I don’t know if I ought to go to these social functions. Both Mum and Dad seem to think I am wrong to stay at home and not go out. I somehow think that it is not right, and tends to make one worldly and too full of temporal things.
The sermon last Sunday talked about how much more important spiritual things are than temporal ones, and it came as a great help to me. I believe that if I get into society I will lose all spiritual faith and thoughts, being too full of temporal ones. It is such a great problem whether this is true or not that sometimes I feel very doubtful if I am doing right in living a secluded life. I do hope I am, because I really want to do what is right and what will make me more worthy of the Christian faith and help me to do my bit in the world. This is so very important because it will change the whole basis of my life. But if I do what I honestly think is right I cannot go far wrong and God will look after me so long as I remain faithful to Him. The vicar in his sermon said that there was a little cripple child who had just died, and the father was very stricken with grief, for he had seen his child steadily growing weaker and weaker, and now had lost it altogether. Yet nobody else knew or cared about it. He said this was very like God, whose children we all are. He asks(?) us and is just as sad if we are lost to Him through our sins. And yet in this world nobody knows or seems to care whether God and His angels in Heaven are rejoicing over a repentant sinner or grieving over an unrepentant one.
It is a terrible problem, but I must do what I think right – God will help me.
Sunday Feb 1st 1931
I don’t think I have said that Jim is now fixed up as a reporter on the Times and Echo. At least he is not a proper reporter yet and only gets 5/- (five shillings) a week, but he soon will be I expect. He is getting on jolly well, and likes the job awfully.
I have had rather a bad time lately with my silly old glands but they are all right again now. Mum in her letter to Auntie Tia mentioned that I had trouble with my throat and Auntie wrote back full of the idea of sending me out to Nice to stay with her for a month and cure my throat for ever! It was awfully kind of her and I should have liked to have gone but of course I cannot get out of school – especially since I am now in the midst of Certificate work.
Yvonne said quite likely she will be going down to Paignton for her summer hols camping with some friends near Broad Sands. I do hope we go there this summer. I should enjoy it immensely and I am sure the others would too. Noel wrote to me just after Christmas and said he would ask Auntie Laura if I could come down for a week some time. But I don’t expect he will remember, and anyrate I could not go down until next hols, that’s April, an awfully long time off!
Auntie Isa and Carlo went down to Devon from here, lucky things, and are staying with Uncle Ned and Auntie Ethel. They would not take Carlo into the university here so he is going to try to get through the London Matric again; he will only have two subjects to take. The only trouble is that he does not know what it is to work hard!
Auntie Isa gave me a little crucifux when she left, and I wear it every day and it helps me to remember. I have decided to give some of my money away to charities when I can. I am trying hard to be better and worthy of Jesus Christ. Goodnight
Wenesday March 4th 1931
Dad has just returned home tonight from London, where he has been for the British Industries Fair. He did quite well. But the family finances are running so low that Dad will have to get a job. He met Mr. Gilman Searle (I think) in town and got the offer of a job as a travelling salesman in the firm of which he is managing director.
It would be a rotten job – going round from door to door, but it might lead to much better things after a while. Dad’s still undecided whether to accept it or not.
Jim is getting on finely with the journalist job, and has had three articles accepted already. He can get one in almost any time he likes now; the only snag is that he doesn’t get paid for it. I am still in the third hockey eleven, but sub. for the second occasionally. The last three matches on the last three Wednesdays have all been scratched, so that gives an impression of the weather at present.
Pat has rather a nasty chest cough, but it is jolly lucky that she has not caught the measles, because nearly all the children at her school have had them this term, and Pat has been in the thick of it all the time. She is a jolly sturdy little thing.
If she had caught them it would have meant Alan and me staying away from school for a fortnight, which neither of us can afford to do as we have no time to waste with the School Cert. getting nearer every day!
I have made up my mind to beat Alan in the Cert. I ought to, being older than he, but – I’m not so sure! There does not seem much prospect of spending the summer hols at Paignton; it is too expensive, but I have not given up hope by any means.
11 o’clock! Goodnight.
Sunday March 22nd 1931
I see I was in the doubtful state of wondering if Dad would accept that job when I wrote here last. He has decided not to. When Dad got home that night (when I wrote last) he was not looking very fit and as he did not look any better in the morning, he had breakfast in bed. It then turned out that he had a touch of malaria and he was laid up for nearly a fortnight. He is all right now though.
Pat’s cough has also vanished and she is back at school again. Talking of school, we are in the midst of exams – the last exams before the great Cert. ones! We don’t know the results yet, but I will write them here when they are given out. We break up on Tuesday week, and then the next term will be the Summer one, and cricket will be the order of the day.
I was reading an article in the Daily Mirror this morning about the superiority of mind over matter. It is jolly interesting and very true too, as far as I can see (that’s not awfully far I’m afraid.) It said that natives sometimes die just because they wish themselves dead; they fill themselves with the will to die, and they do. If this is possible, it ought also to be possible to will yourself to live – perhaps in the dim future when we are all dust and ashes as far as our physical being is concerned, men will cure themselves just by willing themselves to be better. Anyway, this attitude was partly that taken by Christ during the healing miracles.
It is very interesting and at the same very awe-inspiring to wonder what I and the family will be doing say ten or twenty years from now. It seems foolish perhaps to worry about the future, but it is very natural and very pleasant.
It seems funny, perhaps I mean odd, to think that we are living our little life here and then spending eternity elsewhere, and yet I wonder if any of us spend one thousandth part of our time preparing or even thinking of the future, the time that really matters, when we will live, live in the true sense, and will be governed in everything by the rule, the eternal rule, of right and wrong, not that of social etiquette or the struggle for material, with which either to keep ourselves in this earth or to make our sojourn here more pleasant.
Life is such an awful riddle, yet such a beautiful and solemn one that I feel I never could solve it – God keep me on the right path to the end, which is really the beginning – the beginning of a Greater Life.
Easter Sunday April 5th 1931
We broke up on March 31st, and so we are getting used to the holidays by now. Last Sunday I went out for a promised walk with Jean.
We bicycled out to Westbury where we left our bikes in the care of a kind garage man who refused payment (we only had 3d, though he did not know). We then started off walking and carrying our tea. After going some time, hunting for birds’ nests and watching two little tree creepers pecking trees for insects, we decided it was time for tea. Accordingly we mounted a gate, but finding it too windy got down on the other side and sat in the shelter of a large haystack. In the midst of our repast a boy entered the gate and drove out two of the sheep that were in the field. He did not seem to notice us, although we were in full view.
Then the other sheep with about six or seven sweet little lambs came up and started edging towards us, for crumbs I expect. Then the old mummy-sheep began to get interested and eyed us very sternly. We both began to remember all the terrible stories we had heard about mother animals getting angry and protecting their children. We did not want to hurt the lambs, but the mothers did not look as if they believed this, and as they were coming steadily nearer we rose cautiously and, going to the far end of the field, jumped from the root of an upturned tree to the peace and safety of the little road again. Now the danger was over, we began to feel brave again and say that of course they were really quite harmless, and anyrate we could tackle four or five of them quite easily. But still it is the moment of danger that counts; it is easy to be brave afterwards!
Yesterday we played tennis on the school courts with Jean and her brother Kenneth. Neither of them were much good, but I’m afraid we were not either. I have booked a court for Monday evening so I expect we will all be getting in shape soon.
I fixed up a sort of holiday club, and we play cricket and hockey on the Downs about once or twice a week. I have already played cricket snd hockey once, it’s jolly good fun.
Alan and I went to church on Good Friday, and had a very good sermon on taking opportunities when they are given us.
Dad is almost sure to go down to Paignton next week end – I do wish I was going too, but I’m afraid that there is no chance of that. I am longing to hear how Noel is getting on with his farm, it’s been rotten weather just lately, perhaps all the chickens have been drowned, and the pigs become stuck in the mud up to their knees!
It is awfully hard, now I have decided to do only what I think right, and have begun to think about whether things are right or not. Just now Jim has being trying to make me join in a card gambling game, but I don’t want to begin gambling, for if you once begin you seem to go on and on and money become a prime factor in your life, which I am trying to get rid of. It would be jolly comforting now we have such a small amount of money!
Anyrate Jim laughed at me and said something about ‘religious’, it’s jolly funny how people look down on ‘religion’. I think the best way is to keep your feelings to yourself, but it is not always possible.
Pat is having the day of her life today! She got tons of eggs. I hope she won’t be ill! We gave Mum and Dad a Pyrex dish which they were very pleased with.
Good afternoon! (3:30)
Thursday April 16th 1931
Last Tuesday Daddy returned from a weekend which he spent down at Paignton – lucky beggar! He says everyone down there is quite fit, and that Noel has shaved his head because his hair was getting scarce at the sides, and now he has to go about with his head tied in a scarlet handkerchief like a gipsy! It was hard luck for Dad because he went down partly to see Auntie Isa and she wrote Dad a letter which we received the day after Dad left, saying that she and Carlo had gone up to London the previous Sunday as Carlos’s exam was getting close and he was going to have some coaching.
I knew Carlo wouldn’t work down in Paignton; he needs a stick or something to make him do it, and Auntie Isa is much too slack with him. It seems from Dad’s account that he has been flirting with all the girls in Paignton, and that one girl in Bristol boxed his ears – he kept that jolly quiet when he was up here! It is a rotten pity that he does that sort of thing, because he can be quite nice if he tries; perhaps more boys are like that in Italy. I doubt if he will pass the Matric even now.
Alan and I have been going out and doing things lately with Jean and her brother Ken(neth). Mary Biddulph came back from about a week’s holiday in the country and told Jean she did not like her going out with me so often, and that if she did she, Mary, would not be friends with her any more.
This was jolly awkward, not to say selfish, and has put Jean and me in rather a tangle. Jean and I both want to make it a threesome but Mary wants Jean to herself, it does not seem possible to arrange anything and it’s a jolly nuisance because I like Jean awfully, and we are just getting to understand each other. I think it will be settled one way or the other by the time they come back from camp; they are both going tomorrow. Either Jean will not like Mary so much, or she will like her more after they have lived together in a tent for a week or so.
For the last week or so we – Alan, me, Jean, Ken – have been getting up at 5 o’clock and going scouting birds on the Downs before breakfast. It is good fun and I am quite used to getting up at that hour now, in fact I woke up without an alarm this morning. I don’t know whether we will keep it up while Jean is away at camp and Ken is working; we may go for a run before breakfast instead .
We know practically all the birds on the Downs by their appearance and song now.
We have been playing lots of hockey and cricket these hols.
Good afternoon! (4 o’clock)
Sunday May 17th 1931
We are back in the midst of school again now, and working hard – the exam is in two months time! To continue with last time’s instalment, which I have just been reading, I am afraid we have given up getting up at an early hour now, as it is not possible in term time. Jean is just as much friends with me now as she has ever been, but has not stopped being friends with Mary either. I hope she will keep it up without there being any explosions!
During the last few days I have been having a great struggle with myself. It all started by Jean saying that she and her mother sometimes went to Tynedale Baptist Church in Whiteladies Road. I asked her to take me one Sunday, and we went accordingly. Lois Jenkins, who is in the choir (so are Beth Jenkins and Barbara Taylor) noticed us and asked us to come again. I did, and on Thursday last Lois asked me to come to a Missionary dinner down near the Horsefair. We went, and George Young, a missionary from China, came and talked with us. He was awfully nice, and told us about the life over there. That evening we went to a Great Young People’s Rally – a sort of climax of Missionary Week – and heard George Young, or Young George as he called himself, talk about his work, and another missionary talk about his work in the Congo. They both spoke very well, and they appealed for more missionaries, who are urgently needed in many places.
These things made me think, and I soon came to the conclusion that I wanted to be a missionary. It seems to me the best way of serving Jesus, because girls can do little at home in that line. The longer I think of it the more certain I become that that is what I was meant to do – I do not like modern ways; dancing, making up, and all the petty deceptions and insincerity of modern life. I do not like town life, and am healthy and strong. I feel that I really can do good to the world and the cause of God that way, and what’s the use of living if you cannot do that?
The only thing that worries me is that since we have gone back to school Jean and I have had a talk to Miss Allen about taking up botany – of course this was before I thought of the missionary life – and she is very keen on our doing it. She has great plans about scholarships, college, and Kew Gardens or something like that, and since I have been getting on rather well at Botany lately she has been rather pleased with me.
The sudden changes of outlook from History to Botany and then to Missionary work have made me rather distrustful of myself; but I really do believe that the present idea is going to be a lasting – life-lasting – one, and I could not change back to Botany now I have thought of the other possibility. It would be impossible to devote my life to the knowledge of plants when I knew all the time I might have been winning hearts for Jesus. The real, vital part of life is the spiritual side, but as the wordly side is the tangible, obvious side we are inclined to think only or chiefly of things we see and understand, so we miss the real vital part. Now I am trying to get to know and love God more, and although I have only advanced a tiny way I know enough not to get the relative importances mixed up again. The spiritual world is very vast, wonderful and joyful and peaceful, and I want to live in it as many of the preachers I have heard do – you can see it.
I have not mentioned any of this to anyone, but I will tell Mummy soon. I want to be absolutely sure of myself first. God guide me.
Wednesday June 20th 1931
Last Thursday Jean and I had an adventure. We had had cricket at the field and were coming home together on our bikes when Jean suddenly remembered that she had not brought her history atlas home for revision (the history test paper was the next day.) I had not remembered mine either, for we seldom use history atlases, so we decided to go straight to school and fetch them. It was then 7 o’clock, and you are not allowed to go into any classroom after 4:30, but we had to get them, so we went. By a great stroke of luck (as we thought at the time) the cloak-room door was open so we stole in, up the stairs, round by the front hall, along the new wing and into the Cert. class room. We got the books alright, and came back again.
But alas! the cloakroom door was locked and the key had been taken. We wandered around the building, trying the doors by the halls, the dining room, and the front door, but they were all locked. The key was in the front door, but that was no use as we would not have been able to lock it again. We enjoyed the joke immensely, and pretended we were burglars, but all the same we were a little funky of going down the back stairs to relate our misdeeds to Miss Bride, who lives there. At last, however, since there was nothing else to do we went down, and, thank goodness!, met one of the maids, not Miss Bride. She was a bit angry and made us promise to tell Miss Wilson in the morning. She then let us out. We told Miss Wilson, and she smiled to herself, but not to us! She said ‘that it must never occur again’ etc., and next time we forgot a book we must manage without it, or obtain leave to get it from Miss Brown or Cog who live next door to school. I think we got off very lightly . Cog would not have been so lenient; it was only because Miss Wilson is new.
A little while ago Elizabeth Bird, Ursula Biggs-Davison and I went to Berkley Square, obtained permission from the Archdeacon of Bristol (!) and rubbed two brasses in the Temple church down in Bristol. I am afraid that the rubbings were not very successful, and holes seemed to appear as if by magic (though we did rub hard). It is quite good fun, and Miss Thomas has promised to take us to do one outside Bristol some time this term.
Last Saturday was Rose Day and we had a fine time. Unfortunately it was showery and we had to have tea in the hall. We decorated our class-room with red may, but it was not quite as nice as we thought it was going to be. Mary Brokenbrow played a ‘cello solo in the afternoon and two in the evening; she is only in Va and yet she plays marvellously. She has won gold medals etc. galore.
Jim has gone off on his fortnight’s holiday. He is going a hike of the West, and is writing an article about his progress every other day or so for the Evening Times. The paper is either paying his expenses or else paying for his articles; anyhow, since he does not mind writing the articles, he is getting a fine holiday for practically nothing.
Daddy is now in London where he has gone to show his latest game to the buyers at the stores. I don’t know how he is getting on yet. He is staying with Auntie Isa and Carlo, who were going back to Italy today but have decided to stay a little longer and have Carlo’s tonsils removed.
By the way, Carlo did get through the special Matric he was having a second shot at. It was jolly good and certainly rather unexpected as far as I am concerned. He said himself, however, that Italians are famous for last-minute cramming.
11:10 o’clock so Good-night.
Friday July 10th 1931
Today a great event took place! We, the Certificate form, beat VI b in a form match. VI b had beaten VI a before, so we can beat both the sixth forms! It was a truly exciting match, which we did not expect to win at all. We got them all out for 37 (I took 5 wickets for 20 runs) and then we went in. I went in first with Frances Webb. I made 4, she made 8, and then we were all skittled out until the score was 24 for nine wickets. None of us thought we could possibly win as the last people had only made about 1 or 2 each. But we begged the last person to be careful, and hoped for the best. They played awfully carefully, but hit all the easy balls, and managed to steal so many runs that we began to get some hope of victory. Every single was loudly applauded and ‘hurrahed’. You should have heard what a noise we made when we were equal; and when we won, the noise was even worse. It was terrible waiting and expecting one of their wickets to go flying at any moment, because they were only the very tail-end you know, and not expected to make many, if any. They certainly received a great welcome from us when they did come out. Our final score was 41 – one of them was clean bowled in the over after they had won the match.
Yesterday was also a red-letter day. The French Club play took place in the Hall. I was Francet – not a very important part. Instead of being terribly nervous I enjoyed it thoroughly and it was quite a success. The making up was awful, and made you feel ever so hot; so did the farandole!
Tomorrow the first, second, and colts teams are going to Cheltenham via a charabanc. We will depart at 12:15 and not get back until about 8:00 pm. I am playing for the second.
On Monday next, the 13th, the School Certificate Exam. begins, and I am beginning to get panicky. It will soon be over, thank goodness!, but I do want to do well, and yet I’m afraid I won’t. It will seem funny reading this when it is all over and I know exactly how I did!
I have told Mum and Dad that I want to be a missionary and they don’t mind at all, but think it very good if I really want to. Cog has been asking people what they were going to be when they leave school, and I have said I would like to be a missionary in China or somewhere. She said that her sister was one out there, and when she came down she would ask her to talk to me about it. Jolly nice of her, wasn’t it? Miss Allen still wants me to do science; I shall have to break the news to her gently; I’m afraid she will be rather disappointed.
Mary Biddulph has been rather ill, and has not been to school for 3 weeks or so, I don’t know how she will get on with the exam. It’s rotten luck for her.
Thursday July 23rd 1931
Well, the great exam finished at six o’clock as far as I am concerned. Poor old Mary and Alan still have one more exam. What a relief! I have been working pretty hard the last week or two and have had a perpetual headache. but I will be able to slack off and get rid of it now.
It’s very funny that last time I wrote in here the exam was a black cloud gathering on the horizon.Now the storm is just passing over. I wonder if the sun will have appeared by the next time I write!
It will be rather funny to say what I think of the papers before I know my marks. Here goes :-
English. Books = horrid; essay = not bad; précis = quite nice
French. comp & story = not bad; unseen = not very nice
Latin. grammar = quite nice; unseens = horrid
History. English = not very nice; European = nice
Maths. 1st = quite nice 2nd = horrid 3rd = not bad
Botany. A = not very nice; B = nice
I have ben calculating about how I have done and I think it even chances between my getting matric: exemption and not. I’m afraid it is not very likely.
A week ago last Saturday, I played for the 2nd eleven cricket team against Cheltenham. They had six or seven subs. playing because somebody had German measles or something. Even then they beat us, though not by much. Our first beat theirs though.
Both Nora Storey and I made 36 runs, and we both got our second colours. I was so bucked! 2nd colours means a red and white hat band, which is different from everyone else’s. I have always longed to have one and now I have. The only snag is that I cannot see it while I am wearing it!
We were going to play the finals of the form cricket matches against V a tomorrow. We beat VI b by two or three runs; I have never played such an exciting game before. I hope we win, we certainly ought to.
I feel a bit guilty because I had been asked to dive for the school in the great inter-schools challenge shield match today. It was at 6 o’clock and the Botany exam was from 4-6 o’clock.
So I told Riva that I could not, as I had an exam, so she got somebody else. They did not dive very well, and at lunch Dad said that perhaps if I had gone straight down to the baths after Botany, and if the diving had not been at the beginning I should have been in time. It was too late to tell Riva then, and I had not thought of it before, but now when I heard that we did not do awfully well in the diving (we were 3rd) I feel a bit guilty. I hope it does not matter much, anyway I would have made a bosh of it I expect.
We were 3rd altogether, which was not bad, but we wanted to keep the shield.
There is some Tennis fixed for the hols. The first match is on Friday (tomorrow) week and we will play on Eberle’s court and they will provide us with lunch. I’m afraid it’s going to be too social!
Oh! . . . . Good-night!
Friday November 6th 1931
It is a long time since I wrote in this diary, and now the results have been out for a long time – of the examination I mean.
Results: English, Botany, Latin, French, History, Maths, I got a credit.
Drawing: I did not (I did not expect to anyway).
So I got a credit in all six subjects and therefore also got my Matriculation Exemption.
We are now in the midst of hockey and netball. I don’t seem to be able to get on any further with those games – I am still in the third eleven for hockey and the fourth seven for netball. I have got my third hockey colours, but I’m not satisfied and want to get into the 2nd or 1st.
At school, life is very different. I’m not sure whether it is for the better or worse. Half-in-half, I think. I no longer do any French, History, Maths, Latin , and only 3/4 hour a week of English. All I do is Science, Science, Science! It is jolly nice except for the Chemistry, which is awfully difficult and we are supposed to know everything we are told about or read about, and at that rate I ought to know about thirty pages of notes and more still of the book now. As they are just composed of lists of facts and formulae which have no rhyme or reason, but just have to be learnt like a parrot, I’m not getting on very well! But I expect that Jean and I will get to understand and be able to remember the Chemistry one day.
Jean and I are ‘bottle washers’ i.e. we look after and ‘do’ the labs. Jean’s mother has been ill lately and so I had to do them alone, and in consequence have had to leave school at a quarter-to-two, go home, have lunch and be back by five-past-two! As a result my dinner only takes me from 5 to 10 minutes now!
Now it is half term or I would not have the time to write; there is not a free moment in term time. As a treat Dad and Mum and I went to see “Trader Horn” a film, at the Regent. It was simply wonderful, and showed many really marvellous photos of lions, leopards, elephants, giraffes and hundreds of other animals. The scenery was superb, and the natives were very curious. A film like that is really well worth seeing and it gives you a little insight into life in Africa, and takes your mind away from the petty everyday things that always seem so big.
But somehow it also makes me a bit restless. I find it more difficult to continue this humdrum civilised existence in peace and quiet, when I know that men and women are living like that in Africa. It certainly gave me a bit of a bump coming out into the usual drizzle and damp and crowded bustle after seeing a film like that.
It’s awfully silly, but whatever you are, you would always like to be something or somebody else! Human nature I suppose; all our failings are summed up in those two useful words, and it’s very comforting!
Tomorrow, in order that it may be a really dissipated half term Dad, Mum and I are going to the Hippodrome to see ‘It’s a Boy’ which is supposed to be very funny; it certainly sounds as if it might be.
Perhaps I have not mentioned before that the reason for my doing science now is that I am going to be a medical missionary, or at least that is the latest so far, and certainly I believe it is the final decision. I am very ashamed of myself because I have been going to be, at different times, a gym mistress, a History mistress, a missionary and a medical missionary.
On looking back I see I have left out a most important thing. In the summer holidays, Elizabeth Bird invited Jean and me to go and stay with her at a house let to them in Burnham-on-Sea. We both accepted and had a lovely time there – bathing and picnicking etc. Then almost the day after we came home (we cycled there and most of the way back), we all went for a fortnight’s camp near Ilfracombe at a little place called Saunton.
Mr & Mrs Butt took us and luggage down there, and then came back to fetch us at the end of the fortnight. We had a glorious time! I meant to copy our log in here, but I don’t know if I will be able to as it is rather long. It would certainly be worth it if I did though. I will try and see if it is possible.
Saturday December 5th 1931
It is nearly Christmas time again. How the years fly! Before I know what’s happened I shall be twenty-four or five, though I certainly cannot imagine myself at that age. I wonder if my life is going to be all that I am hoping and scheming now, or whether it will not be a useful one, and I will not feel staisfied when I am called to leave it .
I’m reading about Paul now both at home, school and Sunday school and he sets me a very glowing example. It helps me a great deal to read about him and what Jesus said about leaving everything for His sake. I love to think of myself as God’s servant here, with no will but to do His will. But I have not found the secret yet because, although I really feel my prayers and my reading, yet in my daily life God has very little or no part. I am trying hard to make this better, and am beginning to realise that you have to fight to resist ‘the world, the flesh and the devil and the pomps and vanities of this wicked world’. I’m afraid I am terribly bad and I sometimes feel an awful hypocrite because I sit and watch other people, even my own family, and think how lucky I am to know God better than they do, and I look down at their worldliness, sometimes, and I’m just as bad as any of them and much worse for thinking I am better. It is awfully difficult not to judge people as Paul said we must not. And of course we are not all in a position to judge fairly, only to upset other people’s notions by our own. And yet I find myself saying often ‘I don’t think ____ is much good at hockey (or something) and probably anyhow she is much better than I am.
Yesterday the cadet rangers were invited to go and watch the dress rehearsal of the Senior Boarders’ Play, Daddy Longlegs. It was better than I ever thought a school play could be. Jill Borrett (daughter of the famous Marie Studholme) was the heroine and Meg Hutchinson was the hero. They were all awfully good. I had read the book, and that made it even more interesting, especially as it was a long time ago, and I had forgotten how it ended exactly.
Tomorrow I am going to tea with Miss Glover, the teacher of my class at Sunday school. Lois Jenkins was invited too, but she cannot come, so I am going into the dragon’s mouth alone!
Exams loom large on the horizon and I am beginning to get into a panic, for I don’t know anything! It will be a dreadful cram at the last minute, and I hate that.
Jean and I got our rewards (or wages) for doing the laboratories this term. I was staggered – we got £2-10-0 each! I am going to give 10/- to Alan, and I’m not sure about the rest yet!
Goo, I’m tired, Good-night!
 (From Wikipedia) The farandole is an open-chain community dance popular in the County of Nice, France. The farandole bears similarities to the gavotte, jig, and tarantella. The carmagnole of the French Revolution is a derivative.
 (from Wikipedia)
Trader Horn is a 1931 American adventure film starring Harry Carey and Edwina Booth, and directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It is the first non-documentary film shot on location in Africa. The film is based on the book of the same name by trader and adventurer Alfred Aloysius Horn and tells of the adventures on safari in Africa.
 Daddy Long-Legs is a 1912 epistolary novel by the American writer Jean Webster. It follows the protagonist, a young girl named Jerusha “Judy” Abbott, through her college years. She writes the letters to her benefactor, a rich man whom she has never seen. This book was Webster’s best-known work. It was made into a stage play and a 1952 British stage musical comedy called Love from Judy, as well as films in 1919 (starring Mary Pickford), 1931 (starring Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter), 1935 (a Shirley Temple adaptation called Curly Top) and a 1955 film, Daddy Long Legs (starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron). The latter two film versions departed considerably from the plot of the original novel.
In Japan, Daddy-Long-Legs was made into a musical anime TV special in 1979 by Tatsunoko Productions, directed by Masakazu Higuchi of Superbook fame. The Tatsunoko TV special was released, dubbed in English, on home video in the United States.
 Marie Studholme (1872 – 1930),was an English actress and singer known for her supporting and sometimes starring roles in Victorian and Edwardian musical comedy. Her attractive features made her one of the most popular postcard beauties of her day.
by Margaret Taylor, age 15 years
Covers April 17th 1930
Saturday, November 25th, 1933
- Thursday, April 17th 1930
- Friday, April 18th (Good Friday) 1930
- Saturday April 19th, 1930
- Sunday, April 20th (Easter Sunday)
- Thursday, April 24th, 1930
- Saturday, May 3rd, 1930
- Monday, August 11th 1930
- Wednesday, August 20th 1930
- Friday, August 22nd 1930 (Seafield House, Waterside, Paignton
- Wednesday, August 27th 1930
- Wednesday, September 3rd 1930
- Sunday, November 23rd 1930
- Monday, November 24th 1930
- Wednesday, November 26th 1930
- Sunday, November 30th 1930
- Tuesday, December 2nd 1930
- Monday, December 15th 1930
- Tuesday, December 16th 1930
- Wednesday, December 17th 1930
- Thursday, December 18th 1930
- Friday, December 19th 1930
- Saturday, December 20th 1930
- Monday, December 22nd 1930
- Sunday, December 28th 1930
Thursday, April 17th 1930
I haven’t written in here for quite a long time, in fact I had quite forgotten that this book existed, but I unearthed it this morning as I was looking for a book with something I could draw in. So I thought that I ought to go on with it; therefore this.
It is now almost half past ten, and as ten o’clock is the official putting up time I don’t think I had better write any more tonight; besides ink is not the best thing to use in bed, I had better write before I come to bed tomorrow, I will have lots of time as it will be Good Friday, and so of course there will be no skating at The Glen and all the shops will be shut.
Good night, sleep well!
There is a great deal I would like to write and I expect I will have forgotten it all tomorrow, but it can’t be helped,
Friday, April 18th (Good Friday) 1930
Well, I have started again all safely. I was half afraid I should forget and not keep it up. Now it is about a quarter past seven, so there is still a quarter of half an hour before supper, and there is nothing to do except to read, and I have done quite enough of that! Nothing of any importance happened this morning, there being no skating, and even if there had been I am not sure that I should have gone as Alan has a cough and must stay indoors, and Lorraine might not be there, and it is not much fun if there is no one you know there.
So I filled up the time drawing, and afterwards I crayoned it, which rather spoilt it I’m afraid ’cause it looked quite nice before! While I was in the middle of this work of art O’Neil, a school-fellow of Alan’s, came to ask him to play in a scratch hockey match on the downs on Wednesday. He asked me to come too, as some of the other boys were taking their sisters. Connie Becker will be playing too. It will be good fun, especially as I am playing in my usual place of left wing. Alan will be my inner!
This afternoon Jean came round with Jock and we went for a long walk over the Downs. We didn’t stay on the Downs but explored the country on the further side of them, and had a topping time; the only snag was that I arrived home at half past five instead of half past four for tea, and, as Mum said, was jolly lucky to find it still there (plus hot cross buns). I pitched into it (especially the buns) and Mummy at last gave me a gentle hint by passing me my tea that I always have when I have finished eating!
As we were going over the Downs Jean mentioned that she had not been keeping up her Scripture Union reading, and I told her I had forgotten it, too. She said what had reminded her of it was that Flee(?) and Audrey and Lois had all taken their Bibles to camp and read theirs every night, so we both resolved to begin again. I think it is dreadful to pretend you are a Christian and to pray every night and not take the trouble to find out anything about it from the Bible; we are both perfectly ignorant of the outline even of the life of Christ and the prophets and disciples.
Then we went on down a lane we explored yesterday, and looked at a little bird’s nest we had found before, but there were no eggs there and so we thought it must be a last year’s one, for Jean said they begin to lay directly the nest is built. A little further on we saw another bigger nest with a thrush sitting in it, so we could not go near it. Jean taught me the names of all the trees we passed, she seems to know all of them. Jock is a fine dog, although he fights rather. Jean says he is a bully because he fights dogs smaller than himself, but it would be rather difficult for him to find any bigger! I do wish we could have a dog, but Mum says we could not afford to keep one, although we could get one quite cheaply at the Battersea Dog’s Home, where she got Jock, and another dog called Peggy which they had before. Jean has also two cats, but I am not jealous of those like I am of Jock because I think a dog’s worth about ten or twelve cats. What partly makes me jealous is that when we are out together Jock will always stick to Jean and follow her everywhere and not take any notice of me!
Well, the supper has made it’s entrée and I am going to have a bath tonight if I remember to put on the gas, so
Goodbye for a little while.
Saturday April 19th, 1930
There is not much to say today. This morning I went to the Glen, skating. Alan did not come owing to his cough, which is not quite well yet. Lorraine and Lo-Lo McArthur were there, and we had a fine time. I expected Yvonne, but she did not appear. This afternoon I nestled up near the fire, and settled down to read the afternoon through, but I soon got tired of the book, although it was a topping one, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain; who is jolly good, though I haven’t read many of his books. I was very glad when Jan arrived (plus the inevitable Jock) and lugged me out to go to Barbara Stratton’s to get a book. She was out, of course. It was rather late when we started, there being only half an hour or so before tea. I was a bit frightened it was farther than I thought, and I didn’t want to be late two days running; so I did the running on the way back, and luckily arrived back at twenty-five to five, and tea was just coming in! It is pouring now – it has been showering all through the day – so I have given up the idea of going to the library that I originally had.
Pat and I have just been having a drill lesson, which are rather few and far between. She started off jolly well, doing one, two and three steps forward march in grand style. Curtsy sitting is not possible for her on her toes, but she manages very well on the whole of her foot. She has mastered the left and right turns, as well as all the arm movements. Up to date she can 1) Read off any letters from hoardings and book titles (capitals). 2) Say her alphabet 3) Count up to sixty or seventy. Not bad!
She will have her fourth birthday on next Friday. Princess Elizabeth will have hers on Monday, so she beats Pat by four days!
I, and Alan, am looking forward to next term, the cricket one, with great enthusiasm, I think it is easily the best game going, and agree with the boy who said he didn’t mind whether he played Rugger or Soccer in the Winter because it was only to fill up the time between the cricket seasons!
There is a girl in my form at school called Marion Green, she is a scholarship girl, though goodness knows how she managed to get a scholarship! She seems to slack most of the term and swot for exams. She is always forgetting to give in her books, and does the wrong work and all that, so I resolved, while in bed, to help her, and give her a leg up in the remembering line, but I never had the courage to offer. Perhaps I will next term, I feel I ought to. Good-bye
(I haven’t started the Scripture Union reading yet.)
Sunday, April 20th (Easter Sunday)
I have been looking through this book and I noticed that I have left out several things of interest (to myself) that happened between the time I left off, and when I began again.
Last October I got leave off from school and went with Dad to the London Exhibition of Inventions. It was fine fun, although we did not do a great deal of business. We stayed at Uncle Harry‘s and went down to the Central Hall every morning, and came back every night, by the Underground. Sometimes I came back alone, as the show did not close ’till ten, and I used to get rather fagged out. We lunched at restaurants and I liked it at first, but I soon longed for own home lunches, and not their fancy meals.
Also I see I was longing to go up to Miss Thomas’s farm. Well, I got my ambition, and its fine! The only thing is that most likely I will be going up again after next term!
I’m afraid I have rather blotched this page, my pen is running a bit too freely.
This morning , it being Easter Sunday, we presented Mum and Dad with a basket full of eggs. They were only penny ones, and there were three dozen of them – one dozen plain, one dozen cream, and one dozen whipped cream.
We tried a whipped cream one after lunch, but it tasted more like marshmallow! I hope the other kinds will be better. Mum and Dad gave each of us a lovely big egg, it will take us quite a time to get through them. I gave up sweets for Lent, and Mum noticed last week that my complexion was much better, it has always been rather spotty. By great thoughtlessness I said perhaps it was giving up sweets, to which Mum heartily agreed. She said it would be well worth while to give them up almost altogether, so there is rather a bad outlook that way for me now.
This afternoon I took Pat out to the Zoo, and we had a fine time. She was jolly interested in a baby monkey that was born a little while ago there, and is a sweet little chap, and very adventurous. We also visited the chimpanzees and orang-utans, and saw them fed. That reminds me, Dad was at the Zoo the other day, and stopped at the chimps cage to shake hands, as he often does. While he was leaning over the bars to shake hands with one, the other swooped down from above and whisked his hat off. Dad went for the keeper, but it was no use and soon the hat was no more than a few rags.
I have been listening to a piano recital by Soloman, whoever he may be; he played mostly Chopin’s works, and two of someone else’s. It was lovely, and I was jolly sorry that we missed the first part of the recital. It is very funny, but when I really listen to music it seems that it is a story. Each piece is a tale, though sometimes it is very difficult for me to find out what it is. One of them seemed to represent a water pool in the jungle and big animals coming down to drink. Later a tiny little one, it sounded like an antelope, came and the big one chased him away. You could hear quite easily the little one with the big one chasing him, and you could hear him cry out, at least it sounded like it. The that was the end. I don’t expect it was meant to be that at all, but I like to think it was. I wish I could play like Soloman did, it will take years and years to learn, and even then I don’t expect I could. I think it is a shame for girls not to learn music at school, it seems as if a whole side of life was left out, I know it would be if I left it off I’m off to practice.
Thursday, April 24th, 1930
I have had one of the most lovely, and wet, days today that I have ever had.
(Please excuse me (this is to myself) for using this awful pen, my other has run out, and I’m too lazy to refill it)
This morning, as usual, I went to the Rink, and nothing happened about that race I won yesterday, so perhaps they aren’t giving any prizes for these hols. Last hols they gave a holiday ticket to the winner, but as there will be no skating next hols they might not give anything. Yesterday Lo-lo McArthur, who is only a beginner, fell down and cracked her ankle under her. She said she had hurt her foot a bit, but it wasn’t bad. She looked a bit pale, and we noticed it at the time, but she kept on saying it wasn’t much. This afternoon I met Lorraine, and she said Lo-lo’s leg is dreadfully swollen, and her mother is afraid she has broken a small bone or something.
I have not been writing for a few days, so I have not said before that both Alan and Dad are in bed. Dad has a touch of malaria, and was very ill all yesterday, having a temperature of 103 degrees at night. Alan was about the same, but both were much better this morning. Poor old Alan has not used his five bob ticket for skating very much, and it expires on Saturday so he will not be able to go any more these hols, he will only just be fit again by the time he has to go back to school.
To get onto the great adventure – we (Jean and I) had arranged to meet at a quarter past two to go fishing for newts for a pond Jean had just made in her garden. Just as we were about to start Jean’s inner tubing of her bike went off pop, so we had to walk. We started about half past two, and got to the Suspension Bridge about 3. We met Lorraine there, and she told us of a pond at Abbot’s Leigh. We followed her instructions and arrived at a farmhouse. There was no pond in view, so we knocked on the farm door and were directed to a large pond where there were no small fish at all, only large ones, and they were no use, we couldn’t catch them, and anyway it said “No fishing, and Offenders will be Prosecuted”. It began to pour about then, so we decided to go home. We took a different path, and on the way we saw a topping little pond in a field. It also had a notice “Trespassers will be prosecuted” but we ventured on and after a long time managed to secure five newts, but four were ladies, so we let two of them go, and kept the gentleman and two ladies.While we were fishing a policeman rode by on his bicycle and saw us.
We were rather scared, but went on fishing and he went on slowly. We draggled home in the wet, singing to ourselves to keep ourselves cheerful, and arrived home about seven, dripping wet. We had been in the pouring rain ever since about four o’clock. Ugh!
Saturday, May 3rd, 1930
I have not written for quite a time lately. It has not been because there has been nothing to write about – far from that! But I reckoned that if I wrote two pages every day and kept it up for five years or so I would use up three or four books, so I have decided to write about once a week instead.
That hockey match which was arranged for Wednesday took place on Saturday, and also we had another game on the next Thursday. It was jolly good fun. I gathered a few girls together for cricket on Friday and Saturday (today) mornings, which was enjoyed by all. It was good practice so that we should not go back to school utterly unprepared.
I have been going out with Yvonne a lot lately, and think she is very nice. I will keep her as a friend if I can.
I have been to Blaise Woods two or three times lately, and it is easily better than Leigh Woods, but a little further away. It takes about twenty minutes on an bike. Last time I went with Yvonne and Alan we took Pat, and also our lunch. I have never seen Pat eat such a big lunch, no wonder she was too tired to walk when we got home! Yesterday I went to tea with Yvonne and we were left in charge of a little baby of two who lives in the flat below the Stoddards. She was a sweet little thing; and could understand everything you said although she could not speak much. I tried to remember what Pat was like when she was two, but I could not remember very well. It is funny how soon one forgets things. There are one or two instances which I can remember, and the rest of my infancy is a pure blank. For example, I can remember nothing about my life before we lived in Lancashire near Barrow, and the daffodil field there: even that is very vague, yet the one thing which sticks in my memory, and Alan’s, is when the Armistice was signed, and the war was ended. The maid and our nurses came into our bedroom and woke us all up. They turned somersaults on the floor, and I remember distinctly that Nurse did a crooked one and bumped into the wardrobe. But mummy says that all happened before we went to Lancashire. It is awfully funny how everything is forgotten except that one thing. I wonder if I will read this book to remind me of how I used to live when I was fifteen!
After cricket this morning we were talking about dying (I don’t know how the subject got started I’m sure). I said I was not afraid to die, and would not mind doing it tomorrow; and I wouldn’t either. They seem all to be afraid to die somehow. But what I am sure about is that each one of us has to do his or her bit of good before they do die; and I’m going to make mine a good big bit. I think you would meet your friends after death, but as everyone is friends there in my belief it would not really matter if you hadn’t got many. I also think (I may quite possibly change my opinion before I do die) that there are many stages of life, even if they are not on a separate world, and you have to work your way up or down the scale according to your conduct. Whether this world is near the top or the bottom I don’t know, but I should think it is more likely to be the bottom!
Supper has interrupted this muse, I shall have to descend to this earth again, to satisfy the base internal cravings!
Monday, August 11th 1930
It really is dreadful how inconsistent I am (what grammar!) I really believed that I would keep up this book regularly and now I have let it slip for more than three months. Shocking.
Now it is holidays, an on Monday next (a week today) we are all due down at Paignton at Auntie Laura’s house for a fortnight’s stay. Alan and I are going to start on Sunday and cycle down, putting up at a wayside place for Sunday night and so making a two day journey of it. Jim, who has set his heart on a motor bike, and who will most likely get it within the week, wants to visit Bournemouth, and a friend of his there, on the way. At least it is not on the way, but he wants to go there and then got staright to Paignton.
I have made a resolution, one of many I’m afraid, to write this diary every Saturday, and also not to forget it.
Jim has now left school for good, and will start his newspaper job early in September if there is still a vacancy for him. I am dreading the thought of leaving school; it was partly that that made me want to be a gym mistress, and now I have dropped that idea because there are so many better people in that job. But, because I love school so, and also because it interests me I now propose to take up history, and possibly go to Oxford or Cambridge if I can only get a scholarship. But they are so hard to get, and if I didn’t I don’t think Mum and Dad could afford to pay the fees as they are so enormous. Perhaps we will have made our fortunes out of one of Dad’s games by the time I leave! 10 o’clock so Good-night.
Wednesday, August 20th 1930
I am now at Paignton, where we have a fortnight to spend for our summer hols. Alan and I cycled down here, starting at seven o’clock. We could have arrived in one day, but as we had arranged to do it in two we spent the night at a topping little place outside Exeter. We have arranged to go home in one day.
So far the weather has been very showery although the sun makes it quite warm. We have not had any bathing yet, but I hope we soon will. We hope to go mushrooming soon which will be great fun. Alan is awfully keen on fishing, but I hate it unless it is really needed for eating. Alan seems to like it just for the fun, but I don’t see much fun in killing animals if you need not. God made those fish, and most likely took just as much trouble over them as he did over us, so it hardly seems right to end their lives just for the fun of it. That seems an awful lust in many boys, and men I suppose; to kill for the love of killing. Every time it seems to me that a life is wasted because that animal, or any animal, could not have been made and given life just to be killed later. Dad says that it is nature, and so natural, but Nature can be improved, and everything that is natural is not good by any means.
Sometimes I think that it is wrong to kill animals to eat, and that I ought to become a vegetarian, but all animals feed on each other so perhaps it is all right, anyway it is different from killing for the sport.
We have finished supper now and it is still pouring with rain. I hope it will be fine tomorrow, although even if it is I will not be able to bathe as I have a cold and a nasty cough, but I expect they will be better soon and then I will be able to.
Hilda visited us last evening, she hoped to see Pat, but she was in bed. She said she might come again today, but she has not come yet, and as it is now nearly half past eight I don’t expect she will be coming. I like Hilda awfully,and I want to get to know her better than I do now.
Dad and I went down to see Uncle Ned and Auntie Ethel yesterday, and we also saw Jack, but Joan was out, so I could not see her. I should have liked to see her because I have not seen her for about seven or eight years.
There is tons more to write but I cannot go on for ever so –
Friday, August 22nd 1930
(Seafield House, Waterside, Paignton.)
We have spent almost the whole day on the beach today. It has been the first really fine day we have had so far. We all went to Granny’s Arm Chair and then over the rocks to Broad Sands. These sands are lovely, and have tons of sands; I think I like them better than the Goodrington Sands because they are more deserted. We originally went with the intention of prawning, but the pools did not seem to have many, and we came home with only four. They turned up at supper, but they were so lifelike that I could not eat one, although I said it was because I did not like them.
We had lunch down there, and came home for tea rather late, so we were made to wait ’till supper, which was fine, being hot meat pie, and plums; a supper well worth missing tea for.
After tea, or rather tea-time, I went to Paignton to get some fruit for Mum and cigs for Dad. Jim sometimes smokes now, he tried a pipe but soon gave it up.
It was in the news today that the Duchess of York has had another baby, another girl; which is rotten luck for her, because if it had been a boy he would have been the third heir to the throne.
I have promised to have a go at the lawn mower so I must go now before it gets dark.
Wednesday, August 27th 1930
We have spent the whole day on the beach, or rather beaches, for there are so many beaches next to each other that we often go from one to the other.
The other day Mrs. Mudge arranged a picnic at Mansands, and we had a lovely time, but there were about seven or eight foreigners who seemed to have invited themselves, and they rather spoilt it. Afterwards, after supper, they all turned up and we all had a game of shove-halfpenny. Before I saw them, and they were in the drawing room, I said that I did not like them, and Auntie Laura agreed that they were an awfully rowdy crew. When we started the game of shove-halfpenny I joined in, with Alan and Dad. They all got dreadfully excited, and yelled whenever anybody did a good or very bad shot. Soon they were shouting when anybody did any kind of shot. The funny thing was that I got excited too, and roared with the best of them; while five minutes ago I had been despising them. I am putting this down to remind myself if I read it again that it is jolly easy to get sort of caught up in a rowdy set of people, and just regard it as jolly good fun, whereas the spectators see how foolish it is and you will find yourself with tons of casual friends, but none who would really stick to you in a hole, or to whom you could absolutely confide. I therefore hope fervently that when I next read this (if I ever do) I will have no need to take heed from this warning.
I have been in my bathing costume for most of the last two days, and my back is as red and sore as it possibly could be, and gives me agonies every time I move my shoulders. My legs are sore too, though not nearly so bad.
The person who is suffering most though from sunburn js Jim. He has been wearing just shorts, with no top, so his back is sore right down to the waist.
After tea I went over to Grannie’s Arm Chair (sometimes called Devil’s Arm Chair) and met Mrs. Mudge and her daughter Nancy. I like Nancy awfully, she is just about my age, and a jolly sporting girl.
Dad and Jim and Reggie have been prawning a good deal lately, and I tried one day, and caught two, but did not eat any. That night I thought about it in bed and decided that I would not do any fishing at all these hols, and promised God I would not, so I can’t now; and I’m jolly glad because although it pleased half of me to chase and catch prawns, the other half was telling me how cruel and wrong it was. I did not promise never to fish again, because possibly I might some time, and it would be absolutely dreadful to break a promise to God, who has made so many wonderful promises to us.
I am awfully tired and sore and need a good night’s rest so:-
Wednesday, September 3rd 1930
It has been just a week since I wrote in here last, but what a change that week has been! We are now at home again in Bristol, home at the smokey, cooped-up town of Bristol. Last week we were in a big house in the country with miles of open country all around us, and a lovely big garden full of animals and interesting things. Whew! I want to blow all Bristol right away and just leave us here alone. I do not think I have ever enjoyed a holiday so much, it is just my ideal home at Paignton, and it seems to have made quite a hole inside me to have left it all behind. I expect it is the contrast which makes me feel so strongly. The funny part is that the others were all glad to be home again!
We made a fine party down there,and certainly had some fine fun, but the part I miss most was the life I had a taste of during the last few days. I thought I wold go and see what Noel was like because he was always busy with his pigs, and could not see us much. So I helped him to feed the pigs about three times a day,and we talked together at the top of the garden where the pigs live. The more I saw of Noel the more I liked him, and that is partly why I miss it so much because we liked the same things, and now there is nobody I can talk to in the same way. He is going to have a farm for his own this month, and I asked him to write and tell me about it, but I don’t expect he will, because farmers and people like that never seem to like writing letters.
Well, I fed the pigs, carted the barrow about, mixed the food, helped to cut the lawn and fed the guinea pigs and rabbits, and in short enjoyed myself mucj more like that than going down to the beach and bathing.
I expect that is why the others do not miss it so much because they did not enter into the life of the place. They do not like Noel so much because they thought he should have come and joined in picnics and that with us, but I know that I would rather have stayed behind with the pigs and done things in the garden. He does not like to go in crowds, but he is awfully jolly all the same, and makes such funny attitudes sometimes. Well, I thought when I came home that gardening was the next best thing so that is now going strong. There! I’ve grumbled enough!
Sunday, November 23rd 1930
It is jolly funny because when I wrote in here last time, and said I missed Paignton I had no idea that I would ever go there agin, although I had hoped that possibly we should go and spend our next summer hols there. Well about three weeks ago, the beginning of November, was half term, and since I had been working pretty hard (you have to in the Cert.) I had got a bittired, and Dad suddenly mentioned at tea on Friday that it would do me good to have a change, as it was half term. He suggested I should go to London, but I wasn’t keen. Then he thought of Paignton. Goodness! I was almost bowled over. There was I, longing to see Paignton againand yet not dreaming that I should have the chance for ages,a nd then, all in five minutes I had the chance. That was Luck if you like! You canimagine I did not have to think twice about it. But you see that was Friday tea-time and the half-term holiday was over by Tuesday morning, so there was no time to spare. Dad sent a telegram, at about half past six asking if Auntie Laura could put me up. We received a ‘Right-O’ telegram in reply by seven thirty, wich was jolly lucky because telegram offices close at eight. I departed from Bristol at the early hour of 8:41 and arrived at Paignton at about 12:30. Uncle Ned was there to meet me, though I did not expect him. He is awfully kind-hearted, and looked quite distressed when I said I thought that I should bus up to Seafield House alone. Another instance of his kindness was that he bought me a bag of toffees, which I could not refuse although they are not good for me. Anyrate they went soon enough when handed round! Most of my time while I was there was spent either feeding the pigs and poultry, or watching them eat their meals.
Noel and I would mix their food. I got quite expert on food, and could do either the pigs’ or fowls’ without Noel’s help, and we carted it up, at least Noel carted it up, and I carted it back (it was lighter coming back). Then, the terrible task of keeping the sow off while the others were fed, having been accomplished, we stood in the sty and watched them eat, or rather gobble. I could have watched all day, and I know Noel could, but he had tons of other things to do just then because all the things had to be got ready for his new farm, where he will be entering into possession soon. One morning I went with Uncle Bud and Noel to see his farm, or a bit of it. It will be thirty-five (I think) acres, and Noel is going to try to manage it all by himself. I think it will be jolly good if he does. Uncle and Noel are, or were when I was down there, setting up a hut for Noel to live in when he settles down there. I learnt from a letter Reggie wrote to Dad that they are setting up a fowl house.
That reminds me that another occupation was running down hens, so that Noel could catch them and put them in the fowl house, because there was not enough food for them outside in winter time. I remember when we had caught a white cock which Noel was going to sell, there were some brown feathers on it, which he pulled out because it would sell better if it was pure white.
He said that it did not hurt much, and yet the poor thing was squalking every time he pulled, still it was decent of him to try to make me think it did not hurt it. Another thing he did which shows he is not so thoughtless as most boys is that one evening after the tea had been taken to the pigs (it was dark by then, and we had to have a candle) Noel asked me if I was afraid of rats, and when I said No he said that when we had been in the sty he saw a rat just by my feet only he had not told me because he did not know if I was afraid of them (only he said ‘did not like’).
The ground by the houses was an absolute marsh, so I borrowed Mary’s wellingtons and had a fine time splashing about. I wore them when I went up to the farm too because it was raining most of the time I was down there. But I rather like the rain if you are dressed for it, and I loved squelching along those little country lanes with a tearing wind whistling through my hair. I can enjoy it all over again as I write it!
They have a jolly little whippet called Jill, who had just arrived a few days before I did, and I should have liked to see her race. I feel sure she would have almost flown, she was so light. On Sunday Uncle Ned and family came and we had a regular full house. I felt like Noel, pleased to get out into the quiet of a wet evening and squelch up to the pigs in the pitch dark. I am hoping to get a letter from Noel one day to show he haas not forgotten me, and I am jolly sure it will be ages before I ever forget my visit down there although it only lasted two days.
Monday, November 24th 1930
I really thought that I had said everything about my stay in Paignton when I stopped last night. But just now when I read it through I saw that I had hardly mentioned Uncle or Auntie or Levitt or Reggie or Mary, only Noel and me, but as we were together (+ pigs) most of the time it’s not surprising.
But when I read this (?) many years hence it would be nice to hear about them, because perhaps I shall not see them all agin for years, perhaps even longer. Auntie Laura is very funny. She is very kind and jolly, but she does not seem to have much of a brain, or be able to tell what is rather ‘not done’ and what is aboveboard, e’g’ she told us all, frankly and innocently, that she always used to eat the best prawns when a lodger gave her his catch to cook!
Uncle Bud, who spends his life among vegetables and odd jobs in the garden, is just a grown up child – all simpleness and kind-heartedness.
Mary, from what I saw of her, spends her free time, luckily she has not much, at balls, parties or the cinema. I pity her because I know how once you start that feeling of ‘gay life’ its jolly hard to stop.
Reggie, who is now about twenty-seven, seems a very handy person to have about. He can make anything you like to mention. It is funny but all sailors seem like that. He is a very nice boy, and rather quiet and reserved, but he can be angry if he wants to.
Levitt looks as if he is twelve at least, but is really nine. He is a very jolly boy, and full of spirits though rather delicate. He is keen on fishing and shooting, to which he goes with Reggie.
Noel needs no description, because I shan’t forget him. His whole life centres around his pigs and fowls. He is so fond of animals that he could stand and watch them all day. So he knows just what they do and seems to almost understand their feelings.
While I was there I saw that awful temptation that seems to come to all boys tried on Noel. There is another boy, or almost man, called Joe Hodder who is friends with Noel but who goes about the town much more. We were down in the basement washing after feeding the pigs, and Joe, who did not know I was down there, called down to Noel to ask him to come down to the town and ‘whet his whistle’. Noel said he would and then remarked to me that ‘those are the kind of people you have got to keep up with’. I said you need not keep up with them, and I hope he gives it up for good. That temptation came to Jim the other day, only this was much worse, because Jim drank much more, and instead of coming down to supper went straight to bed. It worried Mum awfully. But I don’t think he will do that again. Well! Even now I haven’t said about the birds, but I will tomorrow (if I don’t forget). Goodnight.
Wednesday, November 26th 1930
I did not forget to write yesterday, but I got to bed so late that I had no time. Even tonight I should have put up and gone to sleep instead of doing this, but I do want to write. But I’m afraid that I don’t get enough sleep now because prep keeps me going often until nine or half past and then I have to have supper and get to bed, and sometimes finish off prep in bed, and its quite often eleven before I turn off the light. Even then it takes another half hour to get to sleep. That is an awful nuisance. I cannot go to sleep at once however tired I am. Sometimes it is an hour before I get off, and then up again at a quarter to eight means I only get eight hours sleep, and it doesn’t seem enough for I get rotten headaches if I work hard for long.
Anyrate, I was going to tell you about the birds. I started feeding them because there are no pigs or things round here, and if I can’t look after some animals I shall get a perfectly dull uninteresting old fogey!
Last summer I had rigged up a shallow wooden box onto the top of a pole, so as to make a platform, only with sides. I started putting crumbs out, but did not keep it up for long. Now I have started it again, and I find it very good fun watching the birds enjoying their feeds. They are getting used to it quickly, and there have been six birds, including two starlings, on it at the same time. The starlings make it rock so that I think it will fall over any moment. There is a dear little robin which comes quite often, but it is much more shy than any of the others. I have put up two halves of a cocoanut, and the tits look so funny as they hang upside down to peck at them. Sometimes when I hear some bird singing I stop my prep to try and see it, which is very naughty, and only means I have to stay up later to finish, but its jolly hard not to, because some of them sing awfully nicely. The only bird I have seen singing lately is a starling, and they don’t sing very well.
Sunday, November 30th 1930
Dad’s game Viva-vol (?) is being demonstrated at Harrods, Army and Navy and Gamages this year, and so far has been doing rather well. But two of the demonstrators, Olive Vivian and her husband, have to stop on December 13th to go to a panto, and it will be rather difficult for Dad to find two more people to take their place. So he thought it would be a good idea for Jim and me to go up to London and carry on. Alan could not get off school. By the way I don’t believe that I said before that Jim is at home because he has to learn shorthand before they will take him on at the paper. Dad is going to write a letter for me to take to Miss Phillips (commonly known as Pips) asking her to let me off from school on the 12th of December, instead of the 18th. That would mean missing three days of exams, but as they are rather important in the Certificate form I am going to see if I can start exams three days earlier than the others; that will mean beginning on Wednesday: Oh dear!
If we do go up, and I expect we will, we will either stay with Auntie Isa and Carlo or Uncle Ern, for Dad cannot spare the time to come too. It will be great fun if we do go, and we must see if we can break all records made last year for sales. We will have the best time – Christmas week.
My fate will be decided tomorrow, and I will write what it is then.
(How funny to read this later, when I know what happened ‘tomorrow’! Time is a funny old thing!)
Tuesday, December 2nd 1930
I did not write yesterday, because I did not know whether I would go or not. Miss Phillips had to have ‘time to think it over’. I went to her again this morning and she gave me permission to go (perhaps it was partly because she was feeling ahppy about her birthday, which happens to be today). The only snag is about the exams. Miss Garnet (C.O.Y.) said she could not allow me to start exams until Tuesday next, when all the others begin theirs, but I can make up those I shall miss in the afternoons. It may not be possible to do all of them, but I shall be doing about four exams a day for a week any rate!
Another good piece of news is that I am going to play for the second against the university tomorrow. I am only ‘subbing’ for Mary MacKenzie who has cracked her ankle, but I am jolly lucky to get a chance. This will only be the second time I have played in the second, but I have got my third colours.
The only snag (there is a snag in this too) is that I shall be playing left inner, a position I have played in only once before! I must play up, and see if I cannot get them to book me as a permanent fixture in the second! Not much hope of that awhile yet.
Jim is going on Christmas Day to stay for a day or two with a friend in Devon. I would hate to go away for Christmas personally, it seems such a homely sort of festivity. We will run it rather close though, for we will come back from London on Christmas Eve. Dad has invited Auntie Sylvia and Uncle Futadown for Christmas, and also Uncle Ern. If Uncle Ern can get off it is quite likely he will come down with us on Christmas Eve. If they all come we will have to sleep on the floor or something, but it will be a jolly party.
Monday, December 15th 1930
I (+ Jim) am now in London. This town is the great capital of England, and it looks like it! There is not one inch of room anywhere. I hate it. It is, as I wrote to Mum, 50% noise, and has given me an everlasting headache. Everybody seems to be in an eternal hurry, and have no time for anything.
This morning we presented ourselves at the Army and Navy, and had great excursions to find the staff cloak rooms. I am not sure yet how to get to the women’s, but I do know that it is hidden away in the bowels of the earth somewhere.
I suppose it would not be so bad when you got used to it, but I should hate to live in London. We really must ring up Putney and enquire how Auntie Edith is after her operation for appendicitis. We must also write to Uncle Ern and see if he will be able to get away to be able to spend Christmas with us at Bristol.
Well, I will tell you the first days sales:-
- 12 sets Vivavol
- 1 set Stickles
- Umpteen balls for Vivavol
I am jolly tired now, and only hope I will not be too stiff in the morning.
(I can’t help wishing that I was at Paignton rather than London; they are the two extremes of ideal and rotten existence).
Tuesday, December 16th 1930
Today’s sales come first:-
- 7 Vivavols and
- About six or seven balls.
This is not as good as yesterday, which is a great pity, but rather there were not so many people there today.
I managed to get to the women’s cloak room after asking about six different people; it is an absolute maze down there, and I feel just like Alice in Wonderland when I am wandering about down there. We are slowly getting used to the place and beginning to know it; I suppose we will have just learnt where everything is by the time we go home again. For meals we have to go to the staff canteen. It’s a very funny proceeding having lunch. Outside the canteen is a cashier who gives you tickets 1d, 2d, 3d etc. if you give her the money equivalent. You then line up and say what you want, pay for it by a ticket and dig a spoon, fork and knife from a box, and march away with all this in tow, and hide yourself as far away as possible and eat it. It is not very nice because Jim and I are in whites and all the other assistants wear black, therefore we are rather conspicuous and get stared at – which I hate. I spent exactly 9d for dinner yesterday and 8d today, and the food is jolly good. That’s not bad, is it?
The worst part about this is that you get terribly stiff legs because you are standing all the time, I am so tired when I get back here that I only want to sit down and rest my legs. Jim and I had supper alone tonight, and of course the milk boiled over, and the saucepan and kettle both leak terribly. Auntie and Carlo have both gone out to a dance and will not be back until about one o’clock. Auntie was shocked when I told her I did not like going out in the evening. I would a hundred times rather stay at home by the fire, or go for a walk in the country or feed pigs! I think dancing is really stupid, and if somebody from the moon or somewhere came here and saw all the people dancing in great halls, with jazz music making the most foul din, he would most certainly think the people on the Earth were madmen.
There is something in me which hates towns, hates crowds and noise. I sometimes have a terrible yearning to get away into the quiet, the country where everything is fresh and green, and everything there is made by God and not by man.
What a silly little fool I am! But I can’t help it, it is in me and must come out sometime.
Wednesday, December 17th 1930
Today we sold
- 7 sets and
- 1 Stickles
It was not as good as we had hoped, but is just as good as the other demonstrators used to do. Tonight we went to a Topical Cinema and enjoyed it quite well. There was one very good film like a Mickey Mouse but everything was done to music. I wrote to Uncle Ern, Mum and Dad, and Jean to get my exam marks, but only posted Mum and Dad’s and Jean’s because Auntie Isa had not enough stamps.
It is twelve o’clock and I’m jolly tired so
Thursday, December 18th 1930
Today the sales were much better – we sold
- 12 small and
- 2 large sets.
I am afraid it was a good day and we will not be able to do it every day.
Jim has gone out to a show with a friend who he met yesterday. He left me at Charing Cross to come home alone. I don’t mind coming home alone but I do mind being treated like a person of no account and told to ‘buzz off home while I go out with a friend’ sort of thing. Jim is rather like that – a bit selfish , but I expect he will get out of it in time.
Friday, December 19th 1930
Today we sold six small sets and three big ones. We are running out of stock, and I don’t know what will happen if we do not get any more before Monday. We have only three or four small sets left, and no balls at all.
I am jolly tired tonight and I am going straight to bed now. Jim and Carlo have gone out to a cinema, and Auntie Isa has gone out to a hospital entertainment; so I am alone. Carlo has just sent off a present to ‘his girl’. He wanted me to promise not to tell Auntie. Of course I did so, but I certainly think no better of him for doing that kind of thing. The worst of it is keeping it secret from his own mother. That is why I do not like going into ‘society’ for you always seem to be caught up into these beginnings of a really bad character.
It rather worries me because we seem to be using such a lot of money. We will have to ask for some more. In fact Jim said so when he wrote home tonight. I only hope that Mum and Dad did not think that what they had given us would be enough for all the time. Anyway we have not been at all extravagant, and another consolation is that we are gaining money for the family all the time.
I am eagerly awaiting my report, but I don’t expect my exam marks will be good because I did the exams in such a rush. Anyrate they will not be like Carlo’s I hope. He failed in all 4 subjects. But of course being Italian, or practically all Italian it was terribly difficult for him.
I must go to bed.
Saturday, December 20th 1930
Today’s sales were not bad considering that we stopped at one o’clock as Staurday is a half-day in London. We cleaned up the whole of our stock of small ones by selling four of them. We also sold two big ones, making a grand total of half a dozen.
One of the large sets was sold to a master of the Clifton College Preparatory School. He gave us his card, so I know. Dad sent us a pound tonight and promised more on Monday, so we are all right as far as money goes. Talking of going, Auntie Isa left today for Colchester. She is going to the Bensusans for Christmas. Carlo is going up later, he is staying here with us until we go on Christmas Eve. Uncle Ern cannot come down to Bristol to us for Christmas so I will have to go down alone on Wednesday evening. I will have to travel jolly late because we do not knock off until 6:30 and it takes three hours to get to Bristol from here.
We are going to Auntie Sylvia’s tomorrow morning and then to Uncle Harry’s for tea and supper. That will be jolly good fun, and save us the money for meals.
Jim and Carlo have gone out to a play or somewhere, but I did not go. I don’t know if it is wrong or rude of me but I don’t like all these shows and town life. I prefer to stay at home and save the money, even if it is such a ‘home’ as we are staying in now.I hope they don’t think me ‘prim and proper’ but I do object to their saying ‘damn’. Carlo says it often and now Jim is copying him. I hate it and don’t see why they can’t say something else instead. I’ve got a headache. Goodnight.
Monday, December 22nd 1930
Yesterday we went first to Uncle Ern’s and took him out to lunch. He needed it, poor old uncle! Then we went on to Uncle futa’s and then had tea and supper with Uncle Harry. Auntie Edith, who has just had an operation for appendicitis is getting steadily better and improving wonderfully.
Today we did not get any more stock until 4 o’clock and in consequence the sales were poor – two small and three big sets.
Jim has gone to a show with that school friend of his, and so I am popping off to bed in a minute. Carlo went to Colchester at 5 today, so we are alone in the ‘palace’ now; or will be when Jim gets back!
I am jolly tired, I always am now-a-days! Goodnight.
Saturday, December 27th 1930
I am back in Bristol now, thank goodness. I came back with Jim, who changed his plans at the last minute. Christmas is practically over now, alas. We all have had a very jolly time, and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Jim left on Boxing Day at 8 o’clock in the morning, and is not back yet. He will most likely come back tomorrow. It is jolly funny but Jim said he would prefer to spend Christmas in London rather than coming home. I can’t understand that, I think that of all things Christmas is a family festivity. He seems rather like that I am afraid – out for a good time, and not caring what happens as long as he gets it.
Alan and I had a jolly good match of hockey on the Downs, and will be getting another on Monday, and again on Friday.
Will write again very soon, it’s now 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 28th 1930
Christmas is over now, except for a few lingering sweets and ginger wine, and presents of course!
We have had a record lot of Christmas cards this year I believe, and they look very festive all arranged on the drwing room mantlepiece. All the Taylors in Paignton sent cards, which was jolly nice and shows they had not forgotten us. Noel sent one, and I sent him a letter before I knew he had sent us a card. I wrote it in London, and posted it just before we left Paddington. I hope he will write to me some day, but I know he hates writing letters. It would help me to remember what he is like and what Paignton is like, though there is small likelihood of my forgetting either.
Sunday, December 28th 1930 (continued)
I have been reading a jolly good book of Jeffery Farnol’s, my favourite author. He has been my favourite for about four years now. He writes a great deal about the beauty of Kent and Surrey and the wonderful country land there. He is a pure simple-hearted writer, and is absolutely clean and open-hearted in his writings. His heroines are simple pure and innocent and his heroes clean straightforward mannish men. The whole atmosphere of his books, if fantastic, is pure beauty and goodness.
Anyrate in the one I am reading which Mum and Dad gave me for Christmas and which is called ‘The Quest of Youth’, it has a short passage which struck me as expressing my views about the town and country to a nicety. It is a coincidence that I have just returned from London.
She: Ay, but when we reach London, how then?
He: Plague me not with thought of teeming, roaring Babylon. We are in Arcady, God’s free gift to man. We walk with angels about us, spirits o’ the wilderness, sprites o’ the trees and rippling brooks. The birds are our choristers. Thus we, content with these solitudes and each other, should be happy.
When I was in London I said that it was crowded with no room anywhere, and now old J.F. Calls it ‘teeming’ and I also said it was 50% noise and old J.F. calls it ‘roaring’. Again, the next day I wrote that the city was made by Man, but the country by God, and dear old J.F. goes and calls the country ‘God’s free gift to man’. I am awfully glad somebody agrees with me. I only wish Noel was here, I’m sure he would understand and agree too.
 Uncle Harry. Brother of Lilian (Mum’s mother) who lived in Putney
 Auntie Laura. Wife of Uncle Bud, who was brother of Mum’s father Leslie. Children were Reggie, Noel, Mary, Levitt and Little Ned.
 Uncle Ned and Auntie Ethel. Mum’s father’s (Leslie’s) brother and his wife. Lived in Paignton?
 Uncle Ned – brother of Mum’s father Leslie. Wife Ethel, children Jack and Joan.