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
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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,
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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 –
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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.
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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:-
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!)
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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.
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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).
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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.
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Wednesday, December 17th 1930
Today we sold
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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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