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World War ll London Blitz:  Buy On Smashwords
I am the great-granddaughter of Ruby Side Thompson. 
Recently I started re-reading the World War ll journals and felt that they were such an important part of a history that will soon be forgotten if not published and shared with the world. These diary excerpts are not the entirety of what is published in print and kindle.
Ruby grew up during a time when education was just beginning to be encouraged for both upper and middle class women. During the late 1890's Ruby explored many radical political ideas of London, England. She met many famous people including the writers George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. 
5.0 out of 5 stars A choice pick, not to be overlooked, November 6, 2011 By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 2-12-40 to 2-22-40


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February 12, 1940
I went out today for the first time this year. The cold has been deep, and we’ve had more snow. Very cold indeed this morning, but the roads were clear, so I decided to go out. I put some money in the bank for Cuthie, and then went to Stone’s. I bought three blousettes to wear with my Barker dress, and some silk and lavender wool to knit myself a vest. There is one thing this severe winter has showed me, that I haven’t got proper under clothes for a severe cold snap. My American “Athena’s” are all worn out, and the combs I bought at Selfridge’s are very ill fitting. I don’t possess one flannel petticoat. Therefore I am determined to have proper lightweight woolen under things before next winter comes around. I bought the velvet wool as a start but principally as a change from the knitting of socks, of which job I have become very tired.
The blousettes were needed, though of course I didn’t need three. One would have done. However, I saw them and liked them, so I bought them. I am determined to have nice clothes.
When I came out of the store, I found snow had begun falling again, and everything was already thickly covered. I found walking perilous, and nearly fell. A policeman came to the rescue, and called a taxi for me.
I am reading Aldous Huxley’s, After Many a Summer, and liking it.
February 16, 1940
More snow. Ted has a very bad cold. At ten thirty p.m. the telephone rang. Ted answered it promptly. We thought it might be Cuthie giving us a night call. But no, it was Mary Bernadette. Ted gave monosyllabic answers, and when he hung up, he swore. That girl had asked him to let her Mother know that she wouldn’t be home until about eleven thirty p.m. Taken by surprise, Ted had agreed; he had been just about ready for bed, sitting over the fire all evening in his dressing gown, and with his slippers on. So he had to dress and go up past Carlton Road to give Mrs. Jude, Mary’s message. What impudence! This girl of twenty calls up an elderly man, late at night, to run a message for her; and what a message, merely to tell her mother she was delayed an hour. Cheek!
Anyhow, the Jude’s are a general nuisance about the telephone. Mrs. Jude will not install one of their own, because she won’t pay for it, but she makes a convenience of all the neighbors. She has exhausted the goodwill of the Dumaresque’s about it and now she has exhausted ours.
When Mary was in training in the hospital, she would ring up at anytime she wished, and ask Artie to take messages to her mother for her. Now she has rung up Artie’s father, and late at night, too! That’s a colossal impertinence. Mrs. Jude comes here whenever she wishes to ring up Mary in town; moreover, to have me ring up Mary’s office for her, and make excuses for her absences. Further, when Mrs. Jude is visiting here, sometimes the telephone will ring, and she will say “oh-that’s my Mary. I told her to call me up here this afternoon.” Off she rushes to answer the phone. Never a by your leave, or a thank you; they have arranged this convenience, and I can put up with it.
Mrs. Jude was here at teatime last Saturday, to call up Mary at John Kavanaugh’s, and she had Ted do the actual calling! Never does she offer to pay for a call, never once has she made an offer to pay.
Well that’s how some people get by; they manage to use all the luxuries of life, at other people’s expense. “Grafters” we call them in America, and that term exactly describes them.
February 18, 1940
I made a chicken dinner today, with corn pudding as the accompaniment, and vanilla custard to follow as the nearest approach I can get in England to ice cream. The boys won’t eat chicken, but now they are not here, there is no reason why Ted and I shouldn’t eat chicken sometimes.
The American Sunday dinner: fried chicken and corn fritters with ice cream and cake for dessert.
February 19, 1940
I am restless and homesick. I spent most of the afternoon and evening turning through my American cookbooks and notebooks and old files of the Rural New-Yorker. Queer how American cookbooks serve me as an anodyne! Just to read about corn bread and apple dowdy, clam chowder and Washington pie, can calm me. I have Eve Curie’s Life of her mother, Marie Curie, on hand, and am enjoying it rather. It is a very long book, so I am wearying of it a little. Probably it is this book which has disturbed me. Marie Curie, who lived the life of an exile, and for whom life never turned out as she wished it to be, it’s a sad story, and it saddens me; not because I am sympathetic to Marie’s woes—I’m not, I’m not “sympathetic” at all, I’m not that sort of person—but because, in spite of everything, Marie achieved her intentions; and I achieve nothing. That is my trouble. To read of such a successful life jolts me into an intolerable awareness of my own failure.
February 20, 1940
Rains, so it is warmer, thank heaven. Ted made an acute remark this morning. We were dawdling over breakfast, talking about the news and the Germans, and I remarked that I had been dreaming about the Salzmann’s and their bakery on Thirty-Fourth Street, in Bayonne. We reminisced about Salzmann’s a bit, and then Ted said, “You know, you are a funny one. In art and politics, and styles and ideas, you’re so modern, or think you are. You hate repetitions; you want everything new; yet in your real life you are an absolute conservative. Anyone to hear you talk about the past—why, you even dream about it! —would never credit you as a modernist. Why, in your mind, you live before two wars!”
What he says is true. That’s where my heart is. As Ted said, I’ve lived here in Romford for a dozen years and yet I’m never really here at all. It’s true, I’m not. I have no care for anything here in Romford, or anywhere here in all England. Every place is only something temporary to me. I feel a stranger, an exile, a transient, all the time. I am a stranger, an exile, and a transient. I’m waiting, all the time, to go back home. My home is in America. I want to pick up my life where it was truncated, and to put joy and vitality and satisfaction into it once again. Satisfaction. I want to be satisfied. Isn’t there an expression in the scriptures somewhere “then I shall be satisfied?” Well, when? When I open my door in Bayonne once again.
February 21, 1940
Johnny’s birthday. He is thirty today.
February 22, 1940, Washington’s Birthday
I awoke this morning from a vivid dream of Will Watson. Why? Why Will Watson out of all the ghosts of the past? He was real as he was real forty years ago. He was standing in Mother’s kitchen as he used to stand: tall, handsome, smiling, and mocking, exuberantly alive, and filling me with an ecstasy, as his presence always used to do. Why?
Trying to find the association of thought in my waking life which threw him up so vividly into my dream life, I think became right out of my reading of the life of Madame Curie. Deviously, but I think like this: Marie Curie was an essentially lonely woman, but she kept to the end of her life a very deep love and friendship with her sisters and brother, and when in old age one sister was devastated by the loss of her husband and her children, Marie consoled her by writing that she still had her sister and brother with her, at least the three of them were alive together, in Warsaw.
I think it is this fidelity and ever-lasting love in friendship, which was the rock jutting into my old subconscious. I am a woman, for whom circumstances have destroyed friendships, but I crave friendship and there is never a friend. For my parents there were always friends, and their friendships were indestructible. They quarreled with each other, but they never quarreled with their friends. Both of them kept their friends to the grave. The boys and girls they grew up with, the young couples they became intimate with in their own young married life, their brothers and sisters and cousins, nobody once in the circle was ever dropped out. Our house was open to all, in good fortune or bad, in fun or in sorrow, in youth and in age, all sorts of people came and went: friends.
Partners die. The widowed remarry. It is all the same to my mother and father. Newcomers to other families are welcomed into ours. Friends are loved, received and visited, until the grave. I can remember scores of the friends who came into Angel Road, and not one of them was ever dropped.
The Watson’s were a family who lived in Notting Hill during the seventies. The father kept a barbershop, and his three sons, Will, Harry, and Fred, were all his lather boys. They were boys with Dad. The father died, and as the mother could not carry on a barber’s business, and the boys were too young to do so, she exchanged the barber shop for a stationers and newsagents. Harry used to peddle magazines for her, until he succeeded getting into the District Railway offices with Dad. Will took up with engineering. Fred ran away and enlisted in the army. Unable to carry on her shop alone, Mrs. Watson took up mid-wifery, and she acted as midwife for my mother when I was born. She only lived for a few years longer, but I can remember her.
Will and Harry were very partial to Dad, and were often in our house. Harry married a schoolteacher and went to live in Galing, so visiting was easy. Will married his cousin, a woman older than himself, and who turned out to be a dipsomaniac. They lived in Wantage, where Will had charge of a small tramline. Young Willie Watson, a boy about my age, and their only child, was one of the trials of my childhood. He came to live with us once, some period whilst his mother was under restraint. He was a wildish, untrained boy, and as I had no brothers, I found him a great tease and nuisance. From Wantage, every now and then, Will Watson would come and stay with us in Angel Road, and then there came a time when he stayed for several months. There had been a scandal in Wantage, with Mrs. Watson drinking, and Will carrying on with a famous lady cricketer, so he had lost his job and came to London to look for work. Mother and Dad took him in, just naturally he stayed with us for some months, until he found a job. He finally got a job as inspector on the new Two-Penny Tube, which had just opened, and then he took rooms in Shepherds Bush somewhere. He kept his inspector ship for some years, but finally became ill, and died of T.B. His son, like me, now become an elderly person, is still faithful to Angel Road, and every now and then pays a call on Mother. So I think it was that faithfulness my soul was seeking.
My parents didn’t care when Will Watson was in disgrace and had lost his job; they took him in the same as ever; they were friends. That’s what I want: faithful friendship. I live in most terrible isolation. I have been writing to the American Consul this week. I had a letter from the Consulate on the twelfth about my visa, and offering an appointment. I have been in a certain distress ever since, but at last I answered it, and said I was withdrawing my request for a visa, for the present. So that disturbs me. In memory, all my American life is churned up, and I am homesick, homesick and I cannot go home. I want my American children, my American friends, and I must continue to want.
Once in these last years when Mother was talking to me about the Watson’s, about the time, I think, when Mrs. Harry died, she said, “you know, I used to think, years and years ago, that Harry was in love with me. He was always in and out of the house, and later he was married from our house, and he was one of those who always called me Alice. (With women of my Mother’s generation Christian names were seldom used. Generally, unless a friendship dated from school days, the married women were always addressed as “Mrs.” (“Mrs. Side” or “Ma”. Tom Bradley always called Mother, “Ma”, and after him, all his children did and do.) “I knew he liked me, “ she went on, “and I liked him. He made a good husband, too. He liked me a lot, I think. Do you know what? One day when the three of us were going up West together, your father got on the bus first, leaving Harry to help me on. Do you know what he said to me? ‘Come along, dear!’ Of course, it slipped out. He didn’t mean anything. I thought it showed how he regarded me. Of course I didn’t pay attention to it; acted as though I hadn’t heard him. That’s what he said, ‘Come along, Dear.’”
Mother’s little romance. She must have treasured up that remark for nearly fifty years. I think she was always more than half in love with Harry Watson. Without knowing it. Anyhow, her Victorian prudery would have made her instinctively refuse to recognize such a disconcerting fact. As for me, I was probably in love with Will Watson, but in my innocence didn’t know it. How old was I when he lived with us? Fourteen, fifteen? Not more. I knew I was fond of him of course. He was one of the “nice” uncles. All our parents’ friends automatically became aunts and uncles to us children. He used to call me Rue, and tease me a little. I only remember one remark he ever made to me. “Don’t make that moue at me,” he said once, and I didn’t know what he meant, and had to look up “moue” in the dictionary. I suppose he began to treat me like a young lady, instead of a child, and I appreciated his attitude. I admired him immensely, and I was very sorry for him. Secretly, I yearned to comfort him, but hadn’t the least notion how. He used to use swear words quite a lot. My parents didn’t mind, that was just Will Watson, but when we girls were about they used to ssh-ssh-shush him and he always shut up. It was only a habit he had, but he would check himself before his friend’s children. He never touched us, whereas Uncle Bradley would always fondle us.
So in my dream, I was looking at him with my old admiration, and yearning over him as I used to do, and thrilling all through with an excitement at his presence. All very erotic and neurotic of course, but that’s the way it was. In slumber, I suppose, my body was calling for an appeasement it needed, and wouldn’t get, so the old secret inner woman threw up this mirage of a lover to lull me a little. Well, well, it’s a funny life.
Eve Curie states that though Marie did not have her children baptized and refused to teach them any religion, nevertheless their spiritual health was dear to her, and she tried “to preserve them from nostalgic reverie, from regret, from the excesses of sensibility.” Evidently she didn’t succeed in so protecting Eve. How can one be preserved from nostalgic reverie? I should like to know. It is a suffering I too would evade. But how? For, without warning, it envelops one like a fog fills the atmosphere, and more, even if one is clever enough to harness the waking thoughts, how defenseless one is in sleep. I try not to think of America, and busily I distract myself with this Romford present, and what happens? In sleep I am back in America, back with my children, my friends, my youth, and I awake to this life, which is an endless purgatory. Only it isn’t purging me from anything! I just endure, keeping my will set to a free future. If I can only live long enough. If I live?
I have finished the Curie book, and enjoyed every page of it. To read, her life was a great romance; but living it, she didn’t find it one. In some of her pictures she reminds me of Miss Griffiths, a woman to whom I shall always pay homage. Miss Griffiths was always an inspiration, and even the memory of her can lift me up. In all Marie Curie’s pictures there is a great sadness; whether the photograph shows her as an old or young woman, as a daughter, a wife, a widow, as a poor unknown student, or a world famous genius, she looks always the same, profoundly sad. My guess about her is that she never got over the loss of her religion. Her mother was a devout Catholic, and Marie was brought up as a good Catholic, with nothing but Polish Catholic tradition behind her. Then, in her student years, whilst still in Poland, she became a rationalist, a Positivist. That must have been the complete death of her soul, for she never recovered her religion. This is a very striking fact about her. To anyone, clever or stupid, it doesn’t matter; to be born in Catholicism is to be irreducibly a Catholic. So, probably, she was always secretly longing to get back into her Catholicity, and never being able to return to it. I think that is why every portrait shows her so sad. The time was against her. It was an era of faith losing. Had she been born a little later, perhaps even if she had lived until now, she could have resumed her Catholicism, because now it is the fashion for the Intellectuals to go Catholic, and to defend their religion with their brains, as well as hold it in their emotions.
Poor Marie, she came in the between-times, and so was unlucky. This is only my guess, of course, but I think it is right. Apparently, she never gave up the use of the word “soul” so she must have thought “soul.” Well then, what are the connotations for a born and instructed Catholic? Every Catholic knows them, and I think that every Catholic who looks at these portraits of Marie Curie will see a woman who longed to return to her God and the practice of her religion, but who wasn’t strong enough to do so. Poor Marie Curie!

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