World War ll London Blitz: 2-3-41 to 2- 27-41 I think I’ll note some items about food. It has occurred to me that perhaps we have become more cranky than ordinary because of the food situation. Although we could not say the food situation is bad, it is decidedly tiresome. There are so many restrictions that variety in food is hard to come by, and meals are uninteresting and uninviting. Rationing does give everybody a definite amount of whatever is available.

February 3, 1941

I am feeling very seedy. I have developed a very bad cold, and think it is bronchitis.

It is snowy and cold today. Joan surprised me by knocking at the door about four o’clock on Saturday after- noon. She said she had come to spend the night with me. My letter to Mother, in which I told her Ted would be out fire-spotting all Saturday night, had arrived in Hammer- smith at noon, and Joan said I sounded so miserable in it, she decided to come over at once. So here she is now. I was so pleased to see her, I cried. Ted of course went off about seven-thirty. Joan and I had a good evenings talk, and did not settle down to sleep until after midnight. Ted returned about six-thirty on Sunday morning. Luck was with us and there were no raids.

About eleven in the morning Ted went out again. When he returned he told Joan that he had been to join the Home Guard. After dinner, when he was talking to Joan about the war he said this, I would willingly see Ruby and Cuth and Artie die lingering and painful deaths if it was necessary to win the war. I would gladly sacrifice them if by so doing we could defeat Hitler.

Joan protested. I said nothing. What is there to say to such a fanatic? You notice he would remain alive. You see he does not care for flesh and blood. He loves neither his wife nor his sons: only his ideas, what he calls his ideals.

Ted loves nobody, and it becomes impossible to love him. He is not human. He is a fanatical madman, a ruthless egotist, and a lunatic.
Ever since he said that, I have been unable to speak to him. I have known for years that he had no real affection for me, but for him to so cold bloodily say that he could gladly see me die, and painfully die, if thereby my death could help to win the war, my God, this is too much.

Our marriage is a howling failure God knows. We disappoint each other; we hurt each other. Ted bores me and exasperates me. My patience wears thin, but it wears. I am weary of him, weary to death. I wish to be free of him more than I wish for anything else in the world but I would not “sacrifice” him for my freedom. What I desire is liberation, a liberation that could easily be arranged by sensible people by divorce. Ted is not a sensible person, so there will never be a divorce.

So there’s nothing to do but endure. If I had money I could leave him. If I were young I could work and I could leave him; but I am an old woman, absolutely dependent upon him. So it’s hell. I should have left him twenty years ago, but I didn’t. I’ve always been hoping, I suppose, hoping he’d love me. Well, he does not love me. So that’s that. To be an old wife is to be an absolutely valueless creature. When Ted came in for dinner he was blue with the cold, and he looked very tired and very old. Well, he is old. So am I. Two old crocks, he said. I have a cold and he was tired.

The trouble with me is, I am always looking for the young lover, and of course I can’t find him, for he ceased to exist thirty years ago. This ceaseless craving for love and devotion. Am I a more ardent and passionate woman than ordinary? I don’t know.

Anyhow: I am fifty-six years old. I am sick with a bronchial cold. I am infirm with my bad legs. The weather is wintry. I don’t go out. The war wears on my nerves I’m homesick for America and I long for my children. This is why I am cranky.

I suppose it is only natural Ted wants to fight the enemy. Man’s nature, which I don’t understand. War infuriates my common sense. I tend to think all men fools and old men old fools.

I too am a fool. I expect too much. I expect the impossible.

Turning to my dear St. Francis De Sales just now, trying to find some word of help or comfort, I found this in Henry Bordeaux’s book:
More than once the reader must doubtless have thought that the doctrine of St. Francis De Sales could be adapted to a love marriage only. His teaching did not adapt itself to love; it created love. By his counsel he induces a young girl to prepare herself for love, to think of it, and to give herself to it. His doctrine forces a wife, each day, to revivify her love, to press it tenderly to her heart. What can a woman do, however, if it should happen, as it frequently does, that her husband is mediocre? We are not all, in great measure, impelled by the force of our feelings? Take, for example, Elsie, in the novel by M. Rene Boylesve, who, without the safeguards of matrimony, indulged freely in her irregularly passion. Note with what a care a woman in love makes a sort of religion out of her guilty love, so great is her need for something to worship. Where she perceived that she herself had furnished the fuel for the fire that was consuming her, she found her only solace in the thought of death. God, on the contrary, is the refuge of Philothea, God in the depths of whose fatherly heart she can bury all trials. Are we not surprised when we meet some great hero of a tragic or marvelous adventure, to discover him so ordinary and insignificant? Illusion is certainly not everything in daily life, but we can scarcely do without a little of it. The wife, therefore, whose love for her husband approaches devotion, or whose devotion approximates love, can she not succeed in producing the sacred spark, even if the material she works with is mediocre?

Yes. Perhaps. If she tries without ceasing. Without ceasing: that is the sentence. Marriage is serious, lasting, and unalterable. St. Francis once explained to a young man who sought his advice about the responsibilities of raising a family: Marriage is an Order in which one must take one’s vows before entering upon the novitiate; if there was a year of trial, as there is before one may take the vows in a monastery, very few would go through with it.

To a young girl he said: The married state is one that requires more virtue and constancy than only other; it is a perpetual exercise of mortification; in your case, perhaps, it will be unusually so.
Yes. Vows, constancy, mortification. Mortification.

Glorious St. Francis De Sales, you excelled in ordering with ardor and exactitude your exterior and interior life. Grant to us, your supplicants, the vigor and energy necessary to fill every moment of our lives with a just employment, strength of will to be faithful to it, discernment to solve its problems, and enthusiasm to vivify it.

In spite of the vicissitudes of daily life and the changing moods of human nature, enable us to develop our true personality and attain to perfection in our states of life. You, who feared above all other evils, indifference, luke warmness and sadness, obtain for us a joyful love for the commonplace things, which, for the most part, fill our lives. Teach us to relish the countless inanities, which are so often productive of monotony and disgust. You, dear Saint Francis De Sales, who divined the supreme, potent attraction of love, sweeten and enrich with tenderness, we implore you, all those who are united by the bonds of matrimony. Teach them that the very love they cherish for one another is threatened by monotony, that it can only be preserved at the cost of unceasing vigilance and a constant effort to increase it. Great St Francis De Sales, serene, beneficent, calm, guide us in that delightful use of the world, which can so quickly become criminal. Preserve us from vain anxiety and idle curiosity. Lover of peace, fill our hearts, our homes, our cities, with peace.

February 4, 1941

I preach to myself these preachment's of Saint Francis, but with little effect. He insists that we overcome our sadness, because in the end sadness only creates a new affliction to torment us. True. How are we to overcome our feelings? How? Last night Ted and I had words again, and I laid down in the dark to weep. I was wakeful for hours, trying to get a hold of myself, and trying to pray. All the while, mind and heart and body were crying out to be loved. All the while, If Ted could have made an advance to me, touched me held me awhile, I could have been assuaged. No. In cold rectitude he lay on his own sofa, asleep, or feigning sleep.

The greatest need of my life, now, and always, is affection, and the expression of affection. From the time when I was a young child, suffering perpetually under Mother’s harshness and thrashings, I have prayed for gentleness, tenderness and love. I don’t know what happened to Ted in his childhood, but his constant need seems to be to express opposition, and to break his opponents will. He seems to compel all those whom he safely can. To break them. From our very early days I found the need to hide from him, to protect myself from his senseless and hurting domination. To make any positive statement to him, was to encounter immediate denial, immediate coercion. No matter how casually I might say I wouldn’t do a certain thing, he would make me do it; and if I said I would do something or other, then he would take every trouble to prevent me. I don’t know what it is in the fellow, but it is something very deep, fundamental. 

Perhaps it comes from a sense of his weakness and ineffectiveness. I don’t know. Once, years ago, when we were all in Bayonne together, Ted, Arthur, Grace, and I, had eternal arguments daily, Grace once said, I don’t know what I really believe about anything, and I don’t care either; but when another person says anything, I have to contradict them. I might believe what they believe, it doesn’t matter; if they say it, I have to take the offensive side, even against myself. I can’t let any remark pass. I just have to be different.

So perhaps it’s something fundamental in the Thompson family. Anyhow, it’s a damned disagreeable habit. Why can’t Ted be easy? Why can’t he be different from the way he is? It is a senseless question of course. Why can’t I be different from the way I am? The conflict of personality in matrimony: it’s the very devil.

February 5, 1941

Reconciliation. Serenity. Last night Ted went out for Home Guard duties from seven until nine p.m. He returned home before the news was finished, and then we listened to, There Men Were Free, program, which featured the men of seventeen hundred and ninety-three and the French Revolution, particularly Lazare Carnot, who organized the armies of France to resist the threat to the Revolution from without. Then when that finished Ted came over to my corner, knelt on the floor beside me, turned my face to him, and began kissing me, kissing me straight on the mouth, so that I quivered and melted. I began to cry. My God I am crying now! Well we loved, and then slept in peace.

Today I am at peace, with Ted, with myself. We lose each other. Then we find each other, and we begin again, in love. When the body speaks instead of the head, when instead of listening to the ceaseless silly words we make, we listen instead to the call of our blood, when we surrender to each other in physical union, then we are satisfied, then we are at peace.

I think I’ll note some items about food. It has occurred to me that perhaps we have become more cranky than ordinary because of the food situation. Although we could not say the food situation is bad, it is decidedly tiresome. There are so many restrictions that variety in food is hard to come by, and meals are uninteresting and uninviting. Rationing does give everybody a definite amount of what ever is available. As it stands now this is what one person can get every week:

Sugar: four ounces
Tea: two ounces
Bacon: four ounces
Eggs: two (if you can find any)
Cheese: two ounces (if you can find any) Meat: one shilling and two pence worth Butter: two ounces

Margarine: four ounces
Note: this is per week!

Eggs are practically unobtainable. Lemons and onions

are absolutely unobtainable. Kidneys and liver are not to be found. Fish is so out of sight for all practical purposes. There is no fruit anywhere, either fresh or tinned. No dried fruit. No nuts. No tomatoes. No marmalade. No jam No syrup. Sausages are forty percent bread.

Neither bread nor flour is rationed, yet but only one sort of loaf is obtainable. Cakes and pastries have practically disappeared, certainly all those at popular prices. The last time I was on South Street I saw a chocolate layer cake in one baker’s window priced at eight pence ordinarily it would have been two pence.

We are exhorted to eat plenty of carrots and potatoes and oatmeal. What a diet! The lack of onions for all savory cooking, and also of tomatoes, fresh, tinned or pureed makes very flat dishes; and the lack of sugar and eggs deposes of all sweets.

Try to cook without eggs or onions and see how little you can do! We diet on potatoes without butter; or porridge without sugar or syrup, and with milk at nine pence per quart. Meals have been dreadfully uninteresting. If one cared to sit down to a hearty, variegated, tasty meal one would feel like a new being.

Joan also told us something about shelter life and the effect it was having on people. She spent every night sitting up in a shelter for three months and finally got such excruciating pains in her back she had to go to the hospital to get cured. Shelter strain. Son has had to go to the hospital with neuritis in his right arm. Shelter life. Joan tells me many people are getting what is described as shelter ankles, that is swellings due to always sitting up, never laying in bed for a night anymore. Joan thinks all doctors must be under orders not to say anything against the shelters, or to admit that any aches or pains or illnesses are due to sleeping in shelters. She says it is quite remarkable how they don’t ask patients about where they sleep and how they sleep! Of course the shelters must be bad for the health. I’ve heard of two doctors in this town who have forbidden mothers to take their young children into shelters. I heard that Dr. Levy wept when he lost a baby with pneumonia, contracted, he declared, by sleeping in a shelter. Another doctor told my Lily that she must take a chance on a bomb, but she must keep her bronchial baby out of the shelter.

February 7, 1941

I am serene, thanks to St. Francis. The whole last night Ted was out on fire spotting duties, on top of Lyons: from eight p.m. until six this morning.

I was all right. Happily there were no raids. The weather was too bad I expect. We had deep snow yesterday. Anyhow, I was all right. I sat up until midnight, and then settled down to sleep quite calmly. Today I have been writing. My mind’s in spate again, hurrah! There was news at one o’clock of the fall of Benghazi.

February 15, 1941

I am waiting for Sainsbury’s delivery. Airplanes are buzzing about. No morning alert yet. The last alert was at one twenty a.m. this morning, with all clear after about an hour. Ted heard nothing of it, and even though I got up to get a light, he did not waken. We had raids most of the evening, too. The all clear came about eleven fifteen p.m., so that we could settle down comfortably to sleep.
Through out this week there has been plenty of air activity again, after the January slow up. The weather is improving of course. Things are getting more frightening now. There is constant talk, in public, and on the air, of the prospect of imminent invasion. It is that Hitler must invade us to lick us, and he must do it soon before American aid reaches us. In the first news this morning at seven a.m. instructions were given, as to what to do in case of invasion, to “stay put,” and await direct instructions from the military or the police. It is sickening.

This week Franco went to Italy for a conference with Mussolini: and on his return had a meeting with Petain at Montpelier. What does this portend? So far Franco has kept out of the war, recovering from their civil war, of course. Franco is a minor dictator, and a puppet of the other two. Will he take Nazi orders? Will he copy Mussolini and land a stab in the back to a power he considers to be losing? God knows.

Anyhow the coming slaughter is going to be awful. Again millions of Europe’s young men will be destroyed and for what? For the damned stupidity of political maniacs. Civilians too will perish in multitudes. Oh my God, the stupidity of men!

February 20, 1941

Ted has gone off to his Home Guard stint. The weather is very cold with snow this evening, so we may get another peaceful night. We had a raid this morning in spite of the weather, but it is extremely cold again tonight, so we may have an undisturbed night. I hope so. I have been working at collating my recipes again this week, my form of madness! When I get desperately homesick for America, as I am now, reading and transcribing the standard American menus and recipes gives me some kind of assuagement. Anyhow, it’s the nearest I can get to American terra firma! That, and Mary Baker Eddy! God! How I long to be home in America!

February 21,1941

It is Johnnie’s birthday. He was born in nineteen-ten, so must be thirty-one today. He is the father of four children already.

I went to the hairdressers this afternoon. Ted told me at dinner time, that he would go straight to church from the office, to play for benediction, at six p.m. and would not be in until about six forty. So I decided I had time to get my hair done. It is a problem getting to the hairdressers. I certainly will not go out while the raids are on. No day raiding today, so off I went. There were raids again last night however. We have had them every night since Wednesday, in spite of the cold. On my way back I met Mary Bernadette Jude, so brought her into tea. She has returned to Romford, and is living alone in their house, her mother still staying in Belfast.

February 22, 1941 — Washington’s birthday

It is very cold and frosty. Ted has just gone out to pay the bills, go to church and the barber, etc. Inside I am secretly laughing. An alert! There is trouble again in Romford. So I cannot write now.

It is eleven thirty a.m. and all quiet, though no all clear has been given. We had a very bad night again last night. The evening was quiet, but the guns began soon after mid night. No clearance still from this morning. Oh this senseless war! What I sat down to note was another folly of men. Though perhaps not a “folly” but only a fundamental. Last night when Ted returned from seeing Mary Jude home, he began to kiss me; so we loved. Inside I was intensely amused. First, because I notice that a young girl around excites Ted, not towards them, but towards me. Next, because in the act of love, theology completely vanishes. Men forget God when their lust is upon them. I thought: what married woman, or any woman that lies with a man, can possibly believe in a man’s religion? I don’t mean the religion proposed by the individual man but the great cancers of religious dogmas, which men have invented, and the churches have built up?

Women are realists, true; women can tell fairy tales, but they don’t ever believe them. They can’t. Women don’t “believe” anything. Women deal in facts. I don’t wonder why the early Christians placed such an exaggerated value on continence, talked so much about purity,
because when men love women they stop worrying about heaven. When men and women “know each other” then they are satisfied: completely satisfied. It is churches, institutional religions, which disappear in the state of nature. Natural religion survives of course. One could remember one’s creator when loving a spouse, but one certainly couldn’t remember the priest, nor his preaching’s.

When my eye fell on the Von Hugel books on the shelf this morning, I thought: What’s the use of all those words? Words, words, words! Men trying to convince themselves of the validity of arguments! Actions speak louder than words and in the act of physical loving arguments are non-existent. The loving is, and all religion, or, rather all other religion, is a vapor. Well, Ted’s gone off to confession. Confession is a habit he has established for himself. I laugh. Confession. What is there to confess?

Well, the postman has just been and brought me the delayed volume of St. Francis’s, The Love of God. It’s funny it should come just this morning. I’m glad. I like St. Francis and I certainly love God. St. Francis was a realist. So was Jesus. It is the churchmen who have made such fantasies. Jesus was preaching the love of God. God is a spirit, he said: and God is Light: and those who love God must love him in spirit and in truth. The Christians seem to ignore what Jesus was trying to tell, and instead have insisted on substituting Jesus for God himself, and keeping right on with old pagan rites. No wonder people don’t go to church today; the fashion of the church service is out of date, finished. The Church is dead. It does not know how to make contact with today’s people. With the half-educated, yes perhaps, those who will listen, but the educated normal person of today the church can say nothing.

February 23, 1941

Ted has just gone out to benediction. We were talking at lunch today about it now being twenty years since we went to Tenafly, and talking about the old coons in the cottage. Then Ted spoke of their religion (of course!) and the day when they had their “meeting” down in the cottage, and how our boys created a disturbance. Ted added, It was really wrong of us: interfering with other people’s religion, of course. Us Catholics! I used to feel pretty awful, I can tell you, walking down to the train afterwards, and thinking people were most likely talking about us persecuting. You too, of course. Naturally everybody in Tenafly looked upon you as a Catholic.

When he said that I experienced a mental jolt. I hated him to say it. I realized it was true, but I also realized I had never regarded myself as Catholic, or never thought the neighbors regarded me as such either. Of course they must have done. Was I not visibly a member of the Catholic Church? Of course. I can see that I never regarded myself as Catholic, and moreover that I never have done so. Why? Because I am not a Catholic. I have joined the church: I have studied Catholic theology, I have gone regularly into retreat; I have obeyed the rules, more or less. Occasionally I have responded emotionally to oddments of Catholic belief and practice; but I have never responded in toto to Catholicism. In fact, funda- mentally, I have never responded at all. I have been an individualist all my life, and I shall die such.

February 24, 1941

I am waiting for the water to warm up for a bath. It was a noisy night again last night. Some bombs fell near-by about eight-thirty p.m. Then everything quieted down again until nearly mid night. There were two bad spells of raiding then. All clear not coming until after three this morning. Oh this damned war!

About ten o’clock last night Artie telephoned. He said he got his leave, and was phoning from Victoria. He said he was going down to Hammersmith and would stay at Grandma’s for the night, and would be in Romford in time for dinner today. Good.

I spent most of last night re-reading, The Passionate Pilgrim, G.M. Williams Life of Mrs. Annie Besant. I had a Trubisky novel from the library, which I couldn’t read, so my thoughts turned to Annie Besant. She was about the age I am now when I first met her. She was a truly wonderful woman. I have often wondered lately how the Christian Scientists explain the war or explain it away; but I expect the Theosophist’s could explain it easily. Most likely they say it is general repetition from the past, and a general karma, which we all have to endure.

Well, we have to endure it all right. Theosophy was a fascination to my youth, and Annie Besant was the greatest woman I have ever met. Well I must go and bathe. Artie will be here at noon. So Au-Revoir.

February 26, 1941 Ash Wednesday

Ted is not back from church until eight thirty this morning, and then nicely marked with the holy ashes. He began his lent by eating only half of his bowl of bread and milk, and then today nothing further for breakfast. Actually he does not have to fast at all. For one thing he is over age, and for another, the church has abrogated all fasting for the duration of the war for everybody. A Catholic can now eat meat three times a day on Friday, if he can get it! Ted, of course, is going to fast just the same.

He did do a wonderful thing, for him, tonight. He went to the cinema to see Charlie Chaplin’s latest film, The Dictator, on Ash Wednesday, too, of all days in the year! He did. He telephoned from the office in the late afternoon, to say he would be in late for tea, because he was going to see, Charlie, at the four thirty showing.

Well I’m blessed! Artie is spending the evening with Mary Bernadette, and I’ve a good book to read, The Butlers, by Kylie Tennant, who wrote, Foveaux, a couple of years ago. These are stories of modern Australia, and I enjoy them.

February 27, 1941

I am alone. Ted has gone off to his home guard stint, and Artie is at the movies. I have had Mary Bernadette here nearly all day. She arrived soon after eleven this morning to telephone her office that she wouldn’t be in town. She had slept until nine-ten this morning! Artie did not leave her until after twelve last night. Artie and Mary went out shopping, and then Mary returned here to lunch, and stayed on to tea, when she left for home, as Artie had a date to meet Edna at six o’clock.

Tomorrow Mary is coming to tea and in the evening Artie is going to take her to a dance. Artie is to go up to her house again on Saturday! I think this is all a campaign to defeat Edna Renacre. Nobody wants to see Artie get officially engaged to Edna and Artie doesn’t want to get engaged to the girl either. Edna is the deter- mined pursuing female, and if Artie slips through her fingers it won’t be her fault.

Edna is a nice girl, all right, but not nice enough. If she nags Artie tonight, I’m afraid he’ll drop her with a bump. It is her fault. She courts him assiduously, but now he’s got bored with her devotion.

Mary, of course, doesn’t want Artie otherwise than as a friend. Mary became officially engaged to Hugh Storr-Best in January last. She and Artie have always been friends, and this companionship this week of leave is nothing but friendship. I’m glad. I don’t want Artie to get tied up with Edna. He isn’t in love with her, not in the slightest, but she is in love with him. Girls love! She’ll get over it.

We had bad raids last night and a very heavy raid this morning about twelve-thirty. All quiet since early afternoon, and still quiet. There is much rain today, and now a strong wind howling. 

World War ll London Blitz: 1-1-41 to 1-30-41 It was another quiet night due to bad weather. This afternoon the weather is clearing, so I expect we shall have the raiders again tonight.

Purchase Diary's

January 1, 1941

It was another quiet night due to bad weather. This afternoon the weather is clearing, so I expect we shall have the raiders again tonight.

Ted is cranky. Year-end bills, I suppose. This is laundry day. Our wash goes to the laundry every two weeks, and is collected on alternate Wednesdays. After dinner today when Ted descended from the bathroom, where, of course, he had found clean towels, he asked, How long were those towels in the bathroom? (Meaning those I had taken away.)

Two weeks, I replied. But that one behind the door; that one wasn’t dirty. It’s been there two weeks anyhow. But it wasn’t dirty. I haven’t had so many baths. Why send it? Is it just your lust to spend money?

Not at all. The towel was soiled. I’ve used it, you’ve used it, it hung there a fortnight, and it was time it went to the wash.

Time has got nothing to do with it. The question is was it dirty?
Yes, it was, I said, and added no more. I thought,the cost of laundering a towel is two pence.  What a man! What a petty fellow! Why interface in such household trifles? He’s an extraordinary man, but Oh, how tiresome!

I was interrupted here by the arrival of Miss Coppen, so I have had a good chin with her and am feeling tons better. One of the greatest treats in the world is intelligent conversation.

January 2, 1941

It is very cold, and a powdering of snow and a very noisy night last night again. At dinnertime Ted brought me in a letter, addressed simply to Mrs. Edward Thompson, Romford, England, which had been taken into him in the office, to be enquired about. It was for me, from Mrs. Slocum, in Roselle. It’s made me so happy I’m walking on air. She had heard of the news about Cuthie, through her Jimmie, via one of the Leech boys. Jimmie also wrote in a few lines, and sent me a snapshot of his boy, now in the U.S. Navy, on a destroyer. This made me brim over with tears. Here is one of the children I knew before he was born, now a sailor. Incredible. I was so excited, and so happy about everything. I sat down after clearing up lunch, and wrote back to Mrs. Slocum right away. Now I’m full to the brim with memories of Bayonne. Those were good years, the Bayonne years. The best years of my life were there in Bayonne.

January 3, 1941

Today is colder. The pail of water that is kept by the front door, and ready to douse an incendiary bomb, is a solid block of ice: also the rain water tank at the back of the house. Luckily the indoor pipes are not frozen. Ted is very cranky. I expect it’s the cold.

January 4, 1941

It is even colder, and Ted even more sarcastic than usual. I’m laughing inside; he’s so silly. My ordered books did not arrive until this afternoon, and now I have only got two out of the three of them. The Anatomy of Inspiration is reported as out of print. I’m sorry. I particularly wanted that book. So what I have got, are, Ideal Weight, and Mrs. Hughes latest volume, A London Family between the Wars.

From the library I have a good American novel to read, Chad Hanna, by W.D. Edmonds. It’s true Americana, about circus life, in the days before the Civil War. It is five hundred and twenty-four pages. So I’ve plenty of good reading now for two or three days.

I’m full of dreams of America, both waking and sleeping. Mrs. Slocum’s letter plunged me right back home. Some day I’ll go back and live in Bayonne again, if Hitler doesn’t get me. Au-Revoir.

January 6, 1941

Bardia has fallen. The news was received in London late last night. Prisoners captured exceed twenty five thousand including six generals. To the Australians go the first honors, for they led the attack. The Italians are crumbling fast, making Hitler’s first broken prop. The axis is now wobbly. Hitler gave London another bombardment last night. The alert was given about six o’clock, and the all clear came just before midnight. We have not been told yet what damage they did last night.

We spent a very terrifying evening here in Romford. Edna Renacre was here to tea, and did not leave until ten-fifteen, afraid to start out. However, we think she must have got home in a fair lull, because the next big explosion did not come until eleven p.m. This house was shaken several times last night, so if it was caused by the bombs dropping in London, they must have been even worse than usual. Most of the week anyhow dynamiting has been going on in the city. The damaged buildings left standing after the fire raid of last Sunday were judged dangerous, and the Royal Engineers have been dynamiting the shells. What can be left in the city to destroy I don’t know. Hitler has vowed that he will raze London to the ground, and certainly he seems to be getting on with the job considerably. He doesn’t cow the Londoner. What he doesn’t understand is that the more he bombs and bullies and burns us the more we will resist him. Supposing he could bomb every city in Britain to rubble heaps, he still wouldn’t have beaten the British. The French surrendered Paris rather than have Paris destroyed. Maybe that’s French economy and carefulness. The English won’t surrender London. What if London is destroyed? Hitler can only destroy the bricks and stones. Like Rome and Athens, London is immortal: an immortal idea, which can never be destroyed. Once Hitler is destroyed, the form of our city can be built up again, and even fairer.

It is four-thirty p.m. and I am back from the doctor. I have lost another two pounds. This brings me down now to fourteen point nine stone. Dr Keighley told me of the damage in Romford last night, two houses down in Coms Street, a bomb behind the Westminster Bank, one in the Havana Car Park, one behind the Plaza, one in London Street; and this morning they got Brentwood Station. When I got back to the house I found Ted sitting here. He had not returned for lunch when I left, about two-fifteen. He told me there was an unexploded bomb in the office. I thought he was joking, but it’s true. I burst out laughing. So did Ted. Neither of us are the least bit sorry for old Herbert. I think we both feel that whatever misfortunes befall him he deserves them. Ted remarked, and he hasn’t even finished with the havoc from the other bomb yet!

Yes, we had a real good laugh at old Bert’s expense. Nobody, of course can get into the office. The bomb behind the Westminster bank has been safely taken away. Another alert has just sounded. They have been sounding all day today. Goodmazes has received two land mines.

I wonder what sort of a night we shall have tonight! There’s a moon, and it’s perishing cold. I suppose Hitler is furious because of the fall of Bardia, so he’s relieving his temper by giving us an extra peppering. My God! When will this hellish war end?

January 19, 1941

I’ve got the blues, most confoundedly. For two pins I could lie down and weep. I’m so homesick for America I could lie down and die. A week ago Artie was here. He came home on the tenth, his birthday, and returned to camp last Sunday night. He had forty-eight hours leave. He expects to get another seven days in February, as his battalion is going east in March. Whether he goes or not, he does not know. His commission still hangs fire, though he has been definitely told he has been passed for a commission.

Last Sunday night London received another bad bombing. One high explosive went down the escalator shaft at the Bank Station. All the people on it killed, of course, and all the people in the station. To make horrors worse, a train was just coming into the station, and the force of the blast blew all the people on the platform on to the lines, so they were killed by electricity, and then run over. They were unrecognizable. As for the debris, it isn’t all cleared away yet, and there are still many bodies not dug out yet. It is impossible to count the dead. The night shelter people were there, as well as travelers, the number must be many hundreds, perhaps a thousand. This is modern war, damnable hellish war.

Throughout this week the bombing has slowed down considerably, but this is because of the weather. We are having a real winter spell of weather. Yesterday we had a snowfall of eighteen inches, but it is thawing today, fast. This means, I suppose, that the Germans will be over again tonight. What will they do tonight?

Ted has had a cold all week, a very severe one. Oh my! Has he been cranky! Gosh! I’m so weary of him, and his awful tongue. His talking drives me crazy. I keep quiet and smile, but someday I’m afraid I’ll break, and start screaming. He talks such damned rot. He’s so sneering. I loathe his talk, and I long to get away from him. How? Where to? He is out now for the afternoon. He has an audit, for the Knights of Columbus. This morning when he was gassing on about the shortcomings of Protestantism, all at once I thought to myself, I must start sewing again. I must get a large piece of work in hand, so that I can have something to distract myself with when I have to listen to him. So I will. Tomorrow I will provide myself with some embroidery work, and I will fill in time with that when he is around. When Ted is around I never really live, I only exist. When he is in the house I can’t read or write, play or sing, I can’t even think, for all the time he is nattering and nattering, and I have to concentrate on keeping my temper and my patience. Now I’m going to listen to a radio play, so Au-Revoir.

January 21, 1941

The rain stopped at noon yesterday, so I went into the doctor’s after all. I took a check for her bill for October, November, and December: eleven visits: charge four pounds, I had to query this, for this works out at a charge of eight/six pence per visit, this absolutely is excessive. I left the check with her, but she promised to go through the items of the account herself, and will let me know if there is any rebate. I don’t suppose for a moment that there will be, but, in any case, I shall discontinue my visits to her. After all, I can get weighed on any machine for a penny and as for dieting that depends on my own will power, not her tablets. Anyhow, I am quite well now. My leg is healed, and has been back in plaster since early November. Her bill came in early last week, and that of course made Ted cross. He simply hates to pay out any monies for me.

Last week was a hard one. Ted felt ill with his cold, and tried by the weather, and his conversation was very cutting and hurtful all the time. His underlying hatred of me was expressed quite often. May be it is a good thing for me he is such a devout Catholic. Perhaps it is only because of his religion that he endures me and supports me. I don’t know. I only know that for both of us our marriage is weariness and we should be happier apart.

It is ten thirty-seven a.m. and the first alert of the day is sounding. The Germans are now promising to commence their final knock out assault on us by February First.

Last night at six o’clock we listened to the broadcast from America of the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt for his third presidential term. The reception was perfect. The voices were wonderfully clear. I wept. There was something indescribably moving in hearing him taking the oath. His address was good, too. The prayers were deeply impressive: the invocation, the benediction, I couldn’t help weeping, but they were happy tears.

(Guns, guns, this is an attack on Romford.)

The conversion of my life was to America and Americanism. As a sincere Christian hopes and longs for heaven, so do I hope and long to return to America. I shall never be content in this life until I live once again in America. I must put this away. It’s a bad raid. I can’t write. Au-Revoir.

January 24, 1941

It is cloudy, on the verge of rain. I have had Ted at home as an invalid for two days. When he returned from his collecting rounds on Tuesday he asked me to call in the doctor. He said he had had a bad fall with his bicycle and thought he had better be examined. No broken bones, but severe bruising and straining of the muscles of the right thigh. Doctor ordered poulticing with kaolin, and said she would come in on Thursday to strap it up. Meanwhile, he was to keep still and rest. This rest really did him good. He has had a shocking cold, so it was good for him to stay in the house, apart from his pain. Dr. Keighley came in yesterday in the late afternoon, and strapped his leg well with adhesive tape, and so this morning he has dressed, and gone to the office as per usual.

When she came in on Tuesday she brought me a corrected bill. She had reduced it by ten pence. Ted altered his check, and I gave it to her yesterday. She says she thinks it would be a mistake for me to stop treatments. I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll continue for another month. Anyhow I will go to the surgery once again, and then see what.

This afternoon I am going to the hairdressers. I made an appointment on Wednesday, when I went over to Carlton Parade to get Ted some tobacco. I think I am going to have my hair cut short again. Anyhow, I am going to have it waved. I suppose I shan’t really make up my mind about cutting until I get into the chair. I know I am damn tired of pins and the bun, but do I really want short hair again? I’m damned if I know. Tobruk has fallen on Wednesday. That was two days ago. Our bombardment was terrible. As I listened to the news, I wept. Men are blowing each other to pieces. Isn’t it awful! War! Man’s occupation! Crazy men.

When will the war end? Hitler has now promised to invade us by February First. Well, we shall see. The sooner he tries the better, I think. We had news this morning, via the Netherlands, reported that the German Parachute troops waiting there to invade us, are in a state of growing panic. They are said to be mainly boys of seventeen, and they are wondering what will happen to them in England; as also the infantry, waiting to embark, are wondering what will happen to them in the Channel. Boys of seventeen! Isn’t it wicked? It is all to be destroyed to satisfy one man’s lust for power. What about their mothers? Can German mothers think parachuting a glorious career for their boys? My God! Will the world ever be sane again?

It is six p.m. and I had my hair cut after all. Lillian Young also gave the hair a thorough thinning, then waved and set it; so instead of a bun I return to a curled roll in the neck. I’m glad. I was tired of hairpins. Moreover, I prefer to look up to date. Why look like an antique, even if one is one?

The job has set me back twenty-five pence but I don’t care. Beauty parlors prove worth their cost, I think, in the sense of innate satisfaction they can confer on women who patronize them. They do improve our appearance, so they are worth their price.

January 25, 1941

Ted has just gone out on his Saturday’s rounds. Last night he gave me an awful shock. At ten o’clock, apropos of nothing at all, he suddenly told me he had joined up with the Home Guard. I was dumbfounded, and then I began to cry. What a God Almighty fool he is! The war has got Cuthie and Artie, and now he has to walk into it. He is sixty-three years old, and an old crock. He knows nothing of soldiering, and actually is a downright timid man. He joins the Home Guard. I say, God damn him and blast him for an infernal fool.
Yes, I know there is a Home Guard, and the age limit is sixty-five. The Home Guard is made up of the old soldiers, the men who fought in the last war, and know something about soldiering. By no means have all the old soldiers joined up. Elderly men mostly know better.
I know what the trouble with Ted is: he is suffering from a fit of the heroics. It is his damned idealism again. His damned crusader’s spirit. He’s going to save Romford now, I suppose. God blast him. Ted is a neurotic romantic emotionalist. He is an utter fool.
He wants to go to war. I know him. I remember what he said when he wanted to get into the last war. He said: I missed the Boer War.

I remembered last night the agony of those war years in Bayonne, when he was crazy to join up and how he tried to and how our men friends came in a body to remonstrate with him about doing so. He was a man then with five young children and he was ready to walk out and leave me with them. I missed the Boer War, he said. Heroics, War hysteria. War propaganda. Romance. Let’s play soldiers.

Again, here is Ted doing exactly what he wants to do, regardless of anybody else’s wish or welfare. I do not enter into his considerations at all. I shall be left alone in this house nights, while the bombs fall or the house burns, whilst he will be guarding the Town Hall. Oh, God Damn him! Did he trouble to consult me about taking the step? Did he talk it over with me, or trouble to find out what I could do? Of course he didn’t. I don’t matter in the slightest.

I’ve cried myself sick, but there isn’t anything I can do about it. I must protect myself, that’s what I know. In every way, physically and mentally. Only last Wednesday I thought: I must protect my mind. When we wakened on Wednesday, we heard of the fall of Tobruk, and most grisly accounts were given of the bombarding and fighting, and right afterwards the, Lift up your hearts, part of the B.B.C. gave a little spiel about Epiphany, and the gifts of the Wise men dilating on the gift of myrrh, which represented suffering, he said. He went on to harangue how we all must suffer, and must accept suffering with joyfulness. My mind rebelled at such doctrine. I am against resignation. I resist. It seems to me that nine-tenths of the suffering in the world is not only useless, it is unnecessary, and could be avoided. Take the war, men killing each other, don’t they bring it on themselves? Burning, killing, destruction, none of it need be. Then why should I accept it? No, I don’t. Men create suffering and I hate men: men’s philosophy, men’s politics, and men’s world. I listen to men’s propaganda pouring out on the radio, and I loathe it. I say to myself, as I did Wednesday, No, you can’t have my mind. I don’t think your thoughts, and I won’t allow you to insinuate them into my mind.

My mind is my own, and before God I’ll keep it my own. I loathe the war, all wars, but I didn’t bring it on, and I won’t be brought into it for one tithe that I can evade. The war is madness, but I won’t be mad. Now Ted has gone and joined the Home Guard. What a fool! What a blasted fool!

January 26, 1941

Rita Pullan and Edna Renacre were here to tea. Rita brought some socks and mittens she had knitted for Cuthie, and a helmet Mrs. Pullan had knitted for him. She also brought six slats of chocolate. We have received another label from the Red Cross, and may now send off another parcel.

January 27, 1941

Ted is growing more and more peculiar, in funny little ways. For instance, this morning’s mail brought a letter from Artie with a ten pence postal order enclosed, for me to save for him. He frequently sends postal orders like this and then I pass them to Ted to change. So this morning he took it, and opened his wallet to give me a note in exchange. He turns sideways from me and opens his wallet under the table! He is hiding it from me! He doesn’t want me to see what money he has. It was such a childish gesture. It’s a frequent one too. He doesn’t want me to know anything about him. It’s typical of his secretiveness; also, I think of the deceitfulness of Catholics. Of course I don’t remark on these gestures, but it is impossible to miss noticing them.

The next thing that happened was foolishness about Cuthie’s parcel. I made it up this morning, weighing everything, filling in all the particulars asked for on the forms provided, and tying it up and addressing it ready for the post. At noon Ted declined to take it to the post office. He didn’t know that it was all right; he said that he would have to examine it. This is really insulting to me, for why must he assume that I’m incompetent to prepare the parcel properly? Does he think I am a three year old? I notice more and more lately he treats me as though I am an ignorant child whom he must oversee and instruct. I think he’s got softening of the brain.

January 28, 1941

There are frequent alerts today. The German’s have been very quiet over London for a week. We have had seven consecutive nights without a raid, and five days without one. Today is rainy and cloudy, good for tip and run raids.

I’ve been in a state of anger and grief since yesterday, but am coming back to serenity now, thank God. I asked Ted last night whether he had actually joined the Home Guard, or whether he was only thinking about it. He replied he had put in a written application to join. I asked him, had he stopped to consider me in the matter, and what was I to do whilst he was out defending the town hall, etc. He replied, oh yes, but I could take care of myself. I said I couldn’t stand it to be here alone during night raids. He said, I would have to stand it, moreover, I would have to stand it this very coming Saturday night, as he was down to be on guard at the office all night.

Then I flew off the handle. Every man of sixty is exempt from all fire watching. Why does he go to guard the office? Let old Bert pay fire watchers, as other firms do. I think it’s an outrage that I should be left here alone nights. It’s terrifying. I haven’t forgotten yet how Ted went off in August and left me alone in the raids, and that was for his mere pleasuring. Day raids are frightening enough, but to be alone in a night raid nearly kills you with fright.

This whole business again is settled without regard to me. Ted does, as he likes. He makes his plans, and then announces them to me when he is ready to put them into action. I say this is not the way to treat a wife. I say, If Ted voluntarily goes off and leaves me alone in the nights, to endure whatever bombing comes, and I will never forgive him. I never will. It is clear I am of no consequence to him. His dreams are far more important. My hero! He has written to Ellen Margaret: I am quite looking forward to being in khaki soon. This will be the last war I shall have a chance of being in, as I was born in the seventies! See the romantic fool! My God! How I hate him!

Well, we quarreled and quarreled last night. All the time he was busy reading, The Interior Life, a lengthy book by James Tissot. It’s funny, really, but my, how maddening! Ted and his religion, Oh what a curse it is! He said I was never willing for him to do an unselfish act, and back he went and took up the old sore subject of the Catholic Evidence Guild.

You see, he thinks it’s unselfish to join the Home Guard, or to preach on the street corners. I can’t see things that way. I think those actions is sheer exhibitionism: and I think his first duty is to me and not to strangers. The fact is he is tired of me. No wonder. I am tired of him. This marriage lasts too long, oh my God, What weariness it is! It need not have become so. If only Ted could have been a normal man, instead of trying to turn himself into a saint, and then finding me distasteful because I’m not saintly. If he could only forget the urgency of seeking the truth, and then the compulsion to teach it to others. A prig, a bigot, Oh, what a trial such a man is!

I cried last night. It just seems to me cruel that he should manage to go away nights and leave me alone in the blitz, and above all, not to tell me a word about his plans until he has made them. Other women have their families around them. I have nobody.

Then he tried to tell me what a good time I have. Yes, actually. He compares my life with the very poor, the cottagers, the workingwomen, the illiterate cockney women, and I resent this. I resent this like hell. I did not come from the working classes, and I refuse to descend to them. My people weren’t born in Whitechapel. If I had known Ted’s people were Whitechapel, it’s a certain sure thing I never should have married him. Ted’s ideal woman is the laborer-working wife. All right, but I’m not she, nor never will be. In the beginning Ted liked me for what I was; now he hates me for it.

Nevertheless the kind of woman I am, I am. After all, I am the one who is cheated. He appeared to be one sort of man. I thought he was an educated gentleman, but in reality he was nothing but a smart guttersnipe, and in his maturity he has settled into the primitive Methodist sort of person his poor parents were. It’s all hateful. I could stand his people if only he could be jolly. I am so sick of his seriousness, his religiousness. I want to laugh, I want to play, and I want to take life easy. I don’t care what people believe or what the state of their morals is. I’m sick of hearing about ethics and words and beliefs. I’m sick of talk altogether. Look at all the infernal talk now going on about the war. If there weren’t so much talk the war would fizzle out, for lack of exhortations. Talk! Oh, How I hate talk!

Now the guns are talking, very near. There must be raiders in the vicinity. Guess I’ll get into my corner. Au-Revoir.

January 30, 1941

I want to record a dream before it fades. Last night we suffered very bad raids again. They began before dark and continued the whole evening, though the all clear came just before midnight. We had no raids for ten nights, so when they began again after the lull, they seemed worse then ever. I was made sick with fright. In the middle of the night I awakened from a most beautiful dream. I was dreaming of Jesus. He was walking into the house, very casually, like any caller and he said to me, several times, You must believe. You must believe. Everything was bathed in peace, a total assuagement. It was beautiful.

This morning the raids have begun again. There was very heavy gunfire, very near, at nine-thirty. My Lily did not arrive until ten-fifteen; she had been ordered by the warden to take shelter, and had to go into a house she was passing until the all-clear signal was given.

January Thirtieth, is supposed to be an auspicious day for Hitler, according to his own reckonings. So possibly he will intensify his raids today. 

World War ll London Blitz: 12-10-40 to 12-31-40 Last Sunday night we had the worst bombing that has happened in this town yet. South Street, North Street, London Road, Old Church Road, the Market Place, very much damage done.

Purchase Diary Here:

December 10, 1940

Artie came on the twenty-fifth and left again the following Monday, a week ago. We had a quiet time, on the whole whilst he was here, though we received a bad bombing on the Friday November Twenty-Ninth. Then things were fairly quiet again, with no alert at all through out Saturday night last, the seventh of December. Sunday also was a quiet day, but last Sunday night we had the worst bombing that has happened in this town yet. South Street, North Street, London Road, Old Church Road, the Market Place, very much damage done. Also the Telephone Exchange demolished, operations buried in the debris, awful! Our old section near Westwood practically completely demolished. The number of casualties is not yet known.

Then yesterday was quiet, and a quiet night again last night, quiet so far today, but what will happen tonight?

It is four p.m. and Miss Coppen has just been in. She only came back from Devon a week ago and arrived home in time for Sunday’s slaughter. Happily there was no serious damage in her locality this time. She had only to endure the noise, and the fear, of course.
This morning I was writing letters to America. The censor returned a long letter I wrote to Jim and Doris November eighteenth, to me a few days later, also parts of a letter I wrote to Harold. It seems no information about times and places of air raids must be mentioned to anyone abroad. It might help the enemy! This is sheer nonsense. The enemy knows what he has done, anyhow. Further how can he possibly get hold of the mails? Further what good would it do him to know the names of the obscure suburban streets on which his bombs fall? Especially when the news is weeks old? Oh, the silly censorship!

December 13th, 1940

Foggy, but we have been out. Ted bought himself a new overcoat this week, so I ventured to ask if I could buy some new underwear. After some talk, of course! Ted said I might buy some. I quoted a figure of from three pounds to four pounds, but actually the bill comes to four.nineteen.six. When he gets it he’ll expostulate, but the garments are bought, and not before I needed them. The last time I bought winter underwear, was in New York, in nineteen thirty-three, and I have patched and patched these till they are now only fit for floor clothes. Of course I had hopes of renewing them again in New York. But when shall I get to New Your again? These English garments are clumsier and less well cut and well tailored than the American ones, but they are wool, and expensive. Still, they are the best I can get in England.

Saw the town. The devastation is tremendous, but everywhere workman and clearing up, boarding up the broken windows, and renewing shop fronts, with planks and beaver board. There isn’t a piece of glass left from Latham’s Corner to the Romeo at Raynham Road. Exchange Place, where the biggest bomb fell is one indescribable heap of rubbish, which looks as though it could never be cleared up.
One curious thing I noticed in the town, and that was a sense of exhilaration. The streets were as crowded as usual, but people looked more alive than usual, sort of excited. There was no gloom. Everybody seemed to be smiling, ready to chatter and laugh. It’s as though the town knows it has suffered the worst, and now it says, let them all come! We don’t care a damn!

December 15, 1940

Ted is playing for High Mass. I just want to say I’m happy. No reason, just happy. Perhaps it is a general feeling everywhere that the tide of fortune has changed, at last we are beginning to win the war. There has been a terrific defeat of the Italians in Egypt this week. This morning’s report says we have taken over thirty thousand Italian prisoners in Egypt with all the tanks, guns, equipment and supplies. The Greeks too continue to beat the Italians in Albania. It’s heroic. Then, besides, Petain has forced Laval to resign from the French cabinet, and this mornings report is, that Laval has been placed under arrest. At least this means that French public opinion is changing. Maybe the French are recovering from their defeatism.

The day is cold and frosty. We had a good sleep last night. No warnings yet since that all clear which sounded at eight-thirty p.m. last night. Ted slept upstairs in bed, but I remained down here in the dining room. I don’t think I shall ever be able to stay upstairs till the war is over. Had a good sleep just the same. When Ted went
out to church, had a good bath by the fire, and dressed in my new Jaeger combs. Also put on two new plasters. Altogether I’m feeling very comfortable and very fit.

Now I am going to cook the dinner. Actually have a piece of beef today, two pounds fourteen ounces of rump. This is marvelous. Beginning tomorrow the meat ration is to be reached again. Anyhow, here’s roast beef for today. Oh the roast beef of Old England, and Oh the Old English roast beef! That’s a song that was always mixed up with the Christmas carols when I was a child. So long!

December 16, 1940

The first, the greatest, and the most everlasting factor for the intelligent married woman’s happiness, is financial independence. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, and I’ll repeat it on occasion until I die.

Love is a chimera, religion is a broken reed, but money in hand is an unbreakable blessing, and without it life progress is all over snags.

Have just had words with Ted over luncheon, about Stone’s bill. It is for four.nineteen.six Pounds. After a harangue and a scolding, he refused to take it with him (I had asked him please to write me a check for it) but said, I’ll take this up with you again.

Of course, this will give him a second occasion to nag me again. I notice that whenever Ted has to pay out money for my personal expenses, he is always most reluctant to do so, and very disagreeable about it. He has bought himself underwear this winter, eight shirts, four pairs of shoes, a raincoat, and an over-coat, also handkerchiefs.

I have bought no clothing at all, until now, when I have bought only underwear. To buy this I first had to ask permission! When he asked what it would cost, I replied, I didn’t know perhaps about three or four pounds. He hemmed and hawed about it, but finally said all right, I could get myself some underwear. I did not know what it would cost. I have never bought myself underwear in England. So, my estimate was too low. I went one pound over it. That’s my usual fault. I am so afraid to ask him for money, I always put the figure as low as I can, and practically always I say something too low. It’s always like that.

Ted seems to think a wife should cost nothing. Deep in his old self-conscious must lay the Victorian conviction that a wife and mother must give all, endure all, and receive nothing. He was sarcastic about Dr. Keighley’s bill. I’ve no right to be ill, it seems. Every time he has to pay out real money for me he hates it. I ought to cost nothing, and I never ought to want anything. Oh dear, he is a trying man! I didn’t handle him right. I ought to have bought new clothes twice a year every year of our married life as a matter of course. I never did. I made my clothes last, until now he seems to have the notion they ought to last forever. The dress I am wearing now is made over from a dress I bought new in nineteen thirty-three to go to America in! Then it was shop worn, and offered at the bargain price of a guinea! I ought to throw my clothes away every season, the same as other women do, but alas, I haven’t the habit.
Yes, to have money of my own, what heaven that would be! I still keep the dammed household accounts book. Every penny I spend has to be written down, and once a month it is all analyzed into a big book Ted keeps. It is so silly. His passion for figures makes household and personal accounts a burden. Oh, for money of my own, for a life of my own, for freedom! I want to have money without asking for it, to spend it without accounting for it. Why shouldn’t I? No. Not with Ted for a husband.

December 17, 1940

Ted, at breakfast, Who eats the brown bread I occasionally see on the table? I get it for possible visitors, and sometimes I eat a piece of it myself. All right, so long as it is eaten. Don’t buy it for me. I don’t eat it you know. Don’t buy so much bread.

I buy one small whole-wheat loaf once a week, on Saturdays. Ted has to interfere in trifles. What has the housekeeping got to do with him? This is a good example of his petty carping. Oh, he is an exasperating fellow!

At dinnertime I had to ask him to bring me one pound tonight, for tomorrow’s laundry, etc., I was scared to death to ask him, but had to. Then he surprised me by saying, And where’s your Stone’s bill? Give it to me now and I’ll write you a check. So I’ve actually got the check without being compelled to ask a second time for it. Of course he presented with it another harangue on spending, and I said naught, though privately I though him very silly.

December 20, 1940

A bad raid this morning, which frightened me considerably. I am in a very depressed frame of mind. I am weary. Do you know what? I want to be happy. I am so tired of everlasting seriousness of life with Ted. I don’t want conferences about trifles. I want to be careless. I hate the everlasting debating and arguing, all of it mostly about nothing. I’m always being called to account. I hate it. I’m so tired of housekeeping and of meal getting. I gave Ted a dish of spaghetti, tomato cheese for his lunch today. He complained it was too wet, all the water in it held the heat. I said I was sorry, but he went on for half an hour about my extraordinary ideas about cooking, and what he calls my knife, fork, and spoon dishes. So silly! Yes, I’m tired. Tired of the house, tired of the husband, tired of myself and damnably tired of the war. I want ease and love and laughter. I’m tired of the gloom's, sick to death of war and prosiness.

December 23, 1940

I’ve many letters to write and don’t want to write one of them. The older I grow the less and less I like writing letters in fact, I detest writing them.

We had a bad night again last night, but I notice I am not as frightened as I used to be, which shows one can get used to anything. I also notice I don’t pray anymore. Why? Is it because I am convinced God doesn’t care, so why bother him? Or is it because I am so fed up with Ted’s religiosity that I am drained of all religion? Or because I am so disgusted with all the religious piffle which is so interlude in the B.B.C. programs, I feel I cannot add an iota of my own to what I have to receive from the air?

Anyhow, I’m not praying. It is not that I am feeling particularly irreligious. It simply is that I don’t feel to need religion nowadays. Ted, if anything, is more religious than ever. When he will talk about it I am bored to extinction. His fanaticism becomes even more extreme. When he came back from Mass yesterday I was listening to a religious service on the radio. The B.B.C. broadcasts at nine twenty-five on Sunday mornings a religious service, conducted on Anglican lines, but with the address given by prominent laymen.

Yesterday’s address was by Henry Brooke, M.P. Ted always makes sarcastic comments on these items. Yet, when an R.C. Service or sermon is broadcast he always listens attentively. The fact is that Ted cannot allow validity, authenticity, or even sincerity, and positively not knowledge, to any religious sect except the Roman
Catholic. His bigotry is extreme. Literally for him there is only one true religion, the Roman Catholic religion.

Deliberately I say Roman Catholic religion for it is a religion all of its own. Ted never speaks of Christianity. He only speaks of Catholicism, by which he means Roman Catholicism, and no other. He really believes all the other Christian sects and churches are in error, a vast concourse of Heretics.

When I was listening to the Anglican prayers and collects yesterday I though how dignified and how lovely they are; and, like a fool, I said so; to which Ted immediately countered, that they were only translations from the missal. I didn’t say anymore. They are not all translations from the missal. Many of them are originals to the English Prayer Book but what would have been the good of saying so? Ted will not allow goodness or beauty to any prayer or devotion outside Rome. Oh, what weariness his pettiness is!

When he came back from benediction in the after-noon I thought again what an essentially selfish religion Roman Catholicism is. The Catholic is only concerned with this own soul, saving his own soul. He does not go out to help the afflicted; he does not attempt to better the world; he does not speak of God, nor of Christ and the teachings of Christ, he only speaks of the church, and the teachings of the Popes. The Catholic is only concerned to keep himself in a state of grace, so that he may avoid hell, primarily, and get to heaven eventually. About his neighbor, for good or ill, he is not concerned at all. It is, God and myself, as Newman has said. Yes, my self. In the world there is something very callous about the Catholic. He is so sure he is one of the elite, and he doesn’t give a damn for any other fellow. Talk about the masons being cliquey, they’re not in it with the Catholics!

One day last week I met Father Bishop in Ives Gardens. We chatted about the war for a few minutes. What else is there to talk about? As I noticed him in the street I couldn’t help thinking how unimposing he was. To begin with he has an insignificant appearance, a short man in clerical clothes, a raincoat too big for him, a soiled white neck cloth, an enormous hat, going green with age, and a cheap cardboard attaché case. This shabby and soiled appearance is inexcusable.

Father Bishop has plenty of money, private means. Besides, as Wesley wrote to one of his Chaplains, a pastor should dress well and keep his clothes neat and clean or he is a very poor advertisement for his God. I also noticed Father Bishop, in the cold, showing a purple-tinged nose. I didn’t exactly have a sense of revulsion from him, but I thought to myself, how can I ever have thought that this man could ever have advised or helped me in any way at all? What does he know? Whatever use is he in the world? What is to being a priest, to say mass, to administer the sacraments, to pray? What is that in this world today? Father Bishop doesn’t even teach school. He doesn’t do anything at all that is work. He is “busy” with his church, yes; but what a lot of play acting that is! After all, it is only inside his church that he has any importance at all. In his cope he is impressive, but that is the impersonal impressiveness of the archaic actor. In his rectory, wearing Cossack and biretta he has a dignity of office; but on the street, my, he has no dignity at all. On the street he doesn’t even seem to be a man, only just some sort of a neutral block of flesh perambulating. Yet I like Father Bishop. As a man, as a director I hold him of no account at all.
Ted was talking last night about what the world might be after the war, and saying that, the Pope ought to be asked to the conference table for the peace. Ted thinks the Pope the most important man in the world. The world doesn’t think so. After all, our ancestors fought bloody wars to throw the Pope out of politics, so I hardly think statesmen will talk him by the hand and invite him back into politics today. Besides, he is an Italian. I don’t think any Italian will ever be asked for his advice in the administration of democracies. Well, I must write my letters, so Au-Revoir.

December 27, 1940

We have lived through one of the strangest Christmas’s I have ever known; yet I was happy; happier then I have been at any Christmas since we left America. Ted and I were quite alone.

There was actually a lull in the war. We had no raids Tuesday, nor Christmas Day, nor yesterday, which was Boxing Day; nor during the nights either. The war began again this morning. Gerry was overhead during dinner- time, and the one o’clock news reported a heavy duel this morning with the long-range guns across the channel.

Midnight Masses, the first mass for Christmas Day, were celebrated during the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Because of the blackout, a special dispensation from the Pope being given for this. The real midnight mass, from the Benedictine Abbey of Downside, was broadcast by the B.B.C. This was weird. Here we lay, in this little room, rolled up for the night on our sofas, and in the darkness we listened to the mass, sung by the monks. We also kept our ears pricked listening for an alert to sound, because we didn’t know Hitler wasn’t coming. It was beautiful. As always, the Adeste Fideli’s brought me to tears, and also to prayer. I was melted and able to pray. I prayed especially for Cuthie.

Ted rose early and went out to the eight-thirty mass. I did not go of course. I don’t think I can sit out any service, or any movie show either until the war is over.

After breakfast we had callers: Mary Bernadette Jude, and Rita Pullan. Edna Renacre came up for Christmas Eve. For dinner we had chicken, and a Plum pudding: for supper, veal and ham pie and a plum tart. Ted went to bed early. He went upstairs, and wanted me to go too. It was too early, only nine-thirty, and besides, I cannot even try to sleep upstairs. Again, we didn’t know Gerry wasn’t coming.
So I stayed down here by myself, and enjoyed my self quite thoroughly. First of all there was music from America. Then a play by Edgar Wallace, The Squeaker, and then Henry Hall and his band until midnight. Some of the tunes were so compelling I even got up and danced by myself two sides round the table, all the room I had. It was good. I felt happy.

Then there were some new songs, very funny, which made me laugh right out. The absurdest was entitled, Never swipe your sweetie with a shovel, Really very funny, or so I thought on Christmas night. Then I listened to the midnight news, and then put out the light and settled myself for sleep.

As soon as the sales come on, if there are going to be any this January, I’ll go shopping for dress goods. Anyhow, I feel like new clothes. I want to be happy, I want to feel nice, and to look nice, and I feel like sewing. I feel I can’t let the war get me down anymore. I’m going to smarten up in every possible direction. I won’t be sad. I won’t be fretful. I’m fifty-six, but I’m going to be as happy and as beautiful as I can possible make myself for the next thirty years. The war has got to end sometime. Meantime I’m still alive, and intend to do my utmost to stay alive.

Ted slept downstairs last night. We had a real pleasant happy evening together. Ted can be charming when he wants to be. Lights out as the clock struck eleven, but we both overslept this morning. Ted did not wake until eight thirty-five a.m. I had been awake sometime, but had been lying waiting to hear the clock strike eight. You may be sure that I wasn’t going to start the day by waking Ted. We could lay abed until 8 o’clock every morning if only he could give up going to early mass. However, he was very good-natured, and we had a happy breakfast together. Then off he went to the office. So the holidays all over, and here we are, on joy-trot again.

December 28, 1950

Eleven thirty-five a.m. Ted has just gone out, to pay the bills, change the library books, go to the barbers, and to confession. We have been having a cozy morning with the papers beside the fire, myself having intermittent trips to the kitchenette, to pay the tradesman, see the garbage man, fix a stew, and so on.

The German night raids began again last night. There was a very big attack on London. The barrage was terrific. It began promptly at eight o’clock, and went on without ceasing until eleven p.m. Then it died down, and the all-clear came about midnight. It was bad here in Romford too. Bombs kept on falling, one terrific one seemed to fall right in our back garden. However, it didn’t. I don’t know yet where they did fall, though at church this morning Ted heard there was a land mine fallen in Gidea Park again. Perhaps that was the most awful one we heard. As usual, attack seemed to be concentrated further over toward the station, so I suppose poor old Victoria Road got it again. What a life.

I had most pleasant dreams. I was dreaming of when I was a girl, working in St. Martin-le-grand, and Ted was the handsome foreign stranger, knocking at the door. It is seldom I dream of my girl hood days. Last night every detail was clear, and correct. I even dreamed of the very clothes I used to wear and had forgotten, till sleep brought them back to my mind. I was having a lovely time, and so happy, and excited too, like I used to be in girlhood. Perhaps my resolutions against encroaching old age brought my youth back to my dreams. Or perhaps it was a sort of delayed action dream, contingent on Ted having received a Christmas letter from Fred Phillip, in which he told us of the retirement of Tiddler Raison. Anyhow, I was back in my girlhood in St. Martins-le grand, and life was being a thrilling adventure. Good! I hope I can dream of my girlhood some more. My dreams have forgotten I was a mother, almost as my waking hours have forgotten the fact. I was just merely myself, my young self.

Have been reading Andrea Maurois’s book, The Art of Living. I liked it. Here is one idea he quotes from Goethe. It seems Goethe once wrote, It is absolutely necessary to break people of the habit of dropping in on you unannounced. They insist on you concerning yourself with their affairs and their visits fill your mind with ideas foreign to your won. I myself do not need such ideas; I have more than I can do to carry my own to their proper conclusion.
How heartily I agree with Goethe about this. For these past two weeks I have been free of the visits from the lady next door. Her husband is at home on the sick list. As soon as he goes back to work I know she’ll be on my doorstep. I intend to protect myself from her trouble- some time wasting visitations. I’ve got my writing to do, and I intend to do it too. I feel in fine form, and I’m going to write steadily, every opportunity I can make.

Milkman has just been. He tells me the worst damage last night was in Balgores Lane, which is completely wrecked. They also got the gun crew at Marks Gate. At the top of Carlton Road is an unexploded land mine, all the people evacuated. Another mine happily fell in the tennis courts. Barking and Barkingside got the very worst of last nights packets.

December 29, 1940

Am sitting with my back to the fire, drying my hair. I haven’t washed my hair for myself for years, but today I felt I just had to. It is about six weeks since I was at the hairdresser’s, but it has been feeling so greasy, and so itchy this past week. I’d got today to the point where I couldn’t wait another day to go to the beauty parlor. So as soon as I had finished washing up the dinner dishes, I fixed a shampoo and have given my head a fine wash. I also cleaned all the households’ combs and brushes. Of course I can’t set my hair. A professional will have to do that. Also, I am debating with myself whether to have my hair cut short again. For nearly a year now I’ve been pinning it in a bun on my neck, but I’m getting tired of the bun, tired of the hairpins, and the hard knob of hair, which is in the way of my hats. Of course, if I have it off, I expect I shall immediately regret it, yet I am tired of it as it is. Having long hair cut off is very like other mistakes of a woman’s lifetime, like leaving your country, or changing your church. You never can go back properly to your originals.

Ted is at church, and I’m hoping he won’t invite Simpson back to tea. I am not exactly dressed for visitors, in a towel and my hair hanging down to dry.

We had a most awful explosion at exactly noon today, and a blinding flash of light accompanied it. Ted was in the parlor and did not see the flash; but I was in the kitchen, standing at the sink, and I thought the very sun itself had fallen into the room, and I wasn’t even facing the window. I was awfully frightened, and shook for an hour afterwards. There was no alert on, so we presume this must have been a delayed action bomb exploding somewhere nearby. There were no raids hereabout last night.

Last night I was dreaming of Cuthie. He was dressed in a blue lounge suit, but with decorations on his shoulder. We were out walking together, and he was holding my elbow, as is his custom. I was also dreaming of my girlhood again, and back even further than before. I saw myself sitting on St. James Park Station, waiting for a train. It was a Sunday morning, very still and quiet, and I was the only person waiting for the first after church train to come, like it used to be, often, when I was returning from Swallow Street. A vivid dream of the girl I was, and remaining with me all day, but the girl is a stranger.

Memories. I have thousands and thousands of them. How am I ever going to pin them all down in a book? I feel I must hurry. When death strikes now any hour, any day, any night, I want to express all that I know, all this that I am, and all that I was, before death can strike me. I want this for my children. When in the future some of them say, I wonder what sort of woman Mother was, anyhow! I want them to be able to look into the mirror of a book, and find me. So I must write quickly and steadily. From day to day I will write what I can, and if I cannot write consecutively, then those who find my writings must sort them into their proper order, and so make the sequence correct for themselves.

December 30, 1940

At six o’clock last night the raids began again. The all clear did not sound until just before midnight. Nothing fell here in Romford, though the zooming was incessant. This morning however we are told the main attack was on London, the heart of the city, and that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of incendiary bombs were literally rained down. Among the buildings damaged were the Guildhall, another Wren church, two hospitals, a museum, and several schools. Except for naming the guildhall, no names were given, but the report says it was a wholesale attempt to destroy London completely by fire.

Eighty horses were killed when a high explosive fell on a brewery. Several shelters were hit, and railway stations no properly military objectives were attacked and the enemy appeared to be concentrating on setting fire to as many buildings as possible. When is all this deviltry going to end? The rest of the world for the remainder of time, I think, will hate Germans.

I’m restless today. For one thing the day itself is dismal. I rung up Lillian Young’s early this morning, to see about getting my hair set, but her assistant answered me, telling me Lillian was away for a few days because her husband was home on leave, though probably she would be back at work tomorrow. However I did not make an appointment. In these times when nobody can tell what may happen tomorrow I think it’s useless to make any sort of an appointment ahead of time. So, with my free empty morning I wrote some letters and made out some new library lists.

I could not write any of my own stuff because I could not settle to thinking. Bad luck that free time should coincide with a bad mood! However, I rung up Lambert’s and have ordered some books. First of all Mrs. Vivian Hugh’s latest A London Family Between Two Wars. I need to follow Mrs. s. Hughes work. Next, a book reviewed in last weeks Times Literary Supplement: An anatomy of Inspiration, by a Dr. Rosamund Harding, and lastly, Ideal Weight, by W.F. Christie, described as a practical book for outpatients. It costs less then a visit to Dr. Keighley. Anyhow, I’ve ordered it.

Then a read a little in Proust. So far I find him even more enjoyable on a second reading than on a first, but I do think one need to be a Catholic and to know France to extract the very utmost pleasure from him.

President Roosevelt made a great speech last night. Ted actually woke me up at three-thirty this morning to tell me Roosevelt was on the air! We tried to get through, but could only get music. I was sorry. I would have liked very much to hear the real voice, making the real speech. However we were given many excerpts from it in the one o’clock news, on records: good, but not so good as hearing it in the first historic moment. He was calling to the Americans to give all aid to Britain. Harold, back in the summer, thought America would be in the war by January. Now I’m going to get a cup of tea. I’m most horribly restless. I hope I am not suffering a premonition of something.

December 31, 1940

It was a quiet night, due, most likely, to bad weather. This afternoon I went to the hairdressers and had my hair properly set. I did not have it cut. Now it looks nice again. Will try to get to the hairdressers regularly every fortnight during nineteen forty-one.

Further reports on Sunday nights raids on London. It was evidently an attempt to destroy the entire city by fire. Uncountable thousands of incendiary bombs were dropped, and practically old historic London was burnt down. The Guildhall is gone, Trinity House and eight Wren churches. What vandalism!

Commenting on this vast devastation to Ted this evening I inadvertently let myself in for a long evenings monologue. In particular the loss of Wren’s Churches gave him a fine spring boar for his criticizing. He said the churches weren’t beautiful, weren’t used, and Protestantism was dead anyhow. Then he enlarged his discourse to condemn modern art and modern religion, about which he knows nothing of either. He kept on merely the whole evening, and I sat grinning like a Cheshire cat, I suppose.

Oh, I was so bored. I kept on noticing Ted’s mouth. When he monologues he scarcely opens his lips, or his teeth either. He speaks very quietly in a monotone, and his mouth is one thin straight line. It was a horrible and cruel mouth.
I have Jacob Epstein’s, Let there be Sculpture, to read.