World War ll London Blitz: 9-1-41 to 9-29-41 An alert is sounding. This is the first daylight warning for about two months.

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September 1, 1941

An alert is sounding. This is the first daylight warning for about two months. I have just got back from the library, so I am lucky to be inside the house. Last night Gerry was over. We had just gone to bed about eleven thirty p.m. no alert was sounded, but we heard the German engines throbbing over, and then the guns: not immediately near, but about Upminister I guessed. We did not come downstairs, but I felt simply awful. I began uncontrollably to tremble, and to feel sick in the pit of my stomach. I began to pray! In danger everything primitive asserts itself, and one prays by instinct. All my soreness against Ted vanished. I thought why do I get myself so wrought up for things that don’t matter? Ted is as he is, and I love him as he is. I do. I can’t help myself.

So this morning I am serene again. Moreover, I am not as nervous now, with the alarm given, as I was in the night without it, because it’s daylight I suppose. One feels so helpless in the dark. The very darkness itself is terrifying.

September 2, 1941

It is a quiet night. Mary Jude in this evening, bringing the latest Vogue. I have received a disturbing letter from Artie. He writes that, after all, he is contemplating becoming engaged to Edna Renacre. I feel stunned.

September 3, 1941

Ted is out to the Home Guard. This is the second anniversary of the start of the war. At eleven this morning we entered on the third year of this war. I heard guns in the depth of the night, but no alarm was given. All day planes have been flying overhead incessantly. The news today tells that we bombed Berlin very heavily last night, so I expect London will receive a bombing tonight. God help us! The news from the Russian front is terribly momentous. A tremendous battle for Leningrad is expected now, and my even have begun. The Russians are fighting magnificently, but, regardless of their own awful losses, the Germans press on. Oh God! Save the world!

September 7, 1941

Edna Renacre came today. In the evening she herself broached the subject of her engagement to Artie. She asked us what we thought about it. Ted answered her. I felt sick. She stayed very late, leaving us with the idea that the engagement is only prospective, not definite, and it was left that she would come with Artie “to talk it over.”

There was news on the wireless of the death of President Roosevelt’s mother, Mrs. Delano Roosevelt, today, within two weeks, of her eighty-seventh birthday.

September 8, 1941

A letter arrived from Artie, in acknowledgement of the letters we sent him last week, saying he despises himself. Why? How has he compromised himself with this girl? She is a very clever and determined miss, and she has nailed him anyhow. He writes, he is in very deep, and has given her a ring. She wasn’t wearing a ring yesterday, nor did she ever mention a word about one, which is a great slyness I think. Artie writes he expects to be home on the eleventh for forty-eight hours. I have written asking him please to see us, his parents, before he sees Edna. I pray God we may get the boy out of this engagement.

September 9, 1941

I went to the hairdresser’s. I went to the Floral Hall, so as to be entirely among strangers, so as to be able to think. The long operation of shampooing, setting, etc. always gives me a quiet space for uninterrupted thinking, and in times of stress can even sooth my mind. This advantage is now lost at Miss Young’s because she knows me too well, and will chatter.

I can’t say that I have cleared my mind at all today. I feel downright sick about Artie and this disastrous affair with Edna. What can I do? This girl has stalked him for two years, and now finally she has snared him. Can we get him out of her trap? I’m afraid not. She is not a bad girl, but Artie could never be happy with her. He hasn’t even been happy in a friendship with her; in marriage he would be miserable, both of them would be miserable. It is this girl who is determined to marry Artie and her desire and determination to do so has been obvious from the beginning and to everybody. She is just a plain man hunter. She marked Artie for her prey, and she has never let up from the chase. Now finally she has caught him, or almost. What can we say or do to prevent her marrying him in the end?

September 11, 1941

Artie arrived at dinner time. His father and I had a most serious talk with him. It appears, she asked him for the ring! He had not realized that an “engagement” means an engagement to marry! He has not proposed marriage, and does not mean to do so. On his father’s advice he is going to tell the girl outright that there is no engagement. Ted will give him the money to pay for the ring. So that the girl may be reimbursed for her outlay. She bought it herself! Ted is buying the ring from the girl. It is not to stay in her possession. I have phoned the hospital and asked her up to tea. Ted will bring home cash at teatime, and the matter is to be settled this evening.

September 13, 1941

We had an awful to-do here. Artie is certainly a fool, but Edna is a very crafty wise woman. She plays tricks, the tricks of the schemer. I cannot write down the whole to-do, it is too involved, and, besides, it makes me sick. The girl refused to part with the ring, though at first she agreed to do so. She understands that Artie has not proposed to her, and positively there is no engagement.

Last night she was invited here to tea again, and accepted the invitation but after Artie had gone to meet her he rung up, and said they would go to the movies first, and be in for evening coffee afterwards. Well, they never came in, and at eleven-fifteen Ted and I went to bed. About eleven-thirty they came in, both of them, so
Ted got up and went downstairs, with cash and cheque-book, thinking then to settle the ring business. But no! Whilst Edna was in the kitchen making coffee, Artie told his father that she wouldn’t part with the ring that she would keep it, but she understood that Artie would not pay for it. Well, I could understand that. I thought she wanted to keep it to save her face with her own people.

Ted remained downstairs until they left for Artie to take the girl home. When Ted got up at six-thirty this morning to go to church, he woke me and told me, Artie isn’t in the house. He’s never been home. His bed hasn’t been slept in.

We were alarmed! My dread was that this girl, who had been foxy enough to buy herself a ring, had also been foxy enough to procure a marriage-license, and Artie had stayed away all night because he hadn’t had the courage to tell us so, that they were going to be married this morning, and that they would not return until he brought her in as his wife. This was an awful thought!

Well, we waited until after nine o’clock and no Artie. At nine-thirty I decided to ring up the hospital. I did so, but could not get through to Edna. I was told she was in the hospital, and was asked, would I give a message. I replied, yes, and it was a very urgent matter. I said. This is about a missing person. Will you ask Miss Renacre where my son is?

Does she know him? Certainly. I think she’s trying to kidnap him. He took her home last night, but has not returned to his home. Where is he? As he is a soldier on leave, this is urgent. Please ask Miss Renacre where she saw him last, and to let me know at once.

She did not telephone, but soon after ten o’clock Artie came home. I said, Artie I’ve just been telephoning the hospital, making inquiries about you. I couldn’t get Edna on the wire, but they told me she was in the hospital.

It’s a wonder I wasn’t there too, he said. Edna gave me a drink last night, and it made me sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I think I’ve brought up everything I’ve eaten for this past week. It’s a wonder they didn’t call the ambulance! And then I passed right out. I didn’t know a thing until I woke up this morning and found myself on their sofa.

Now then how’s that for a trick? Artie assures us there is no engagement, that he has not promised marriage, nor has he seduced the girl. She will not let go. All right, we say, let her sue.

September 21, 1941

Because of the stupidities, complications, and urgencies of Artie’s disastrous love affair, his father thought it would be a good idea for me to go and see the boy, so yesterday I went to New Romney, where he is in Camp. It was a very long day for me. I left home at eight-thirty in the morning, and did not get back until ten-thirty at night. The day itself was one of beautiful sunshine, so the traveling was not too bad for me. I had also been to town on Wednesday, so this made two days outings in one week, for me, very unusual.

On Wednesday I took a sudden notion to go sight seeing. At breakfast Ted told me he would not be home for lunch, as he was gong to take dinner at the Communal War Dining Hall, to see what that was like; so, as the day was clear and lovely, and no Gerry’s about, I decided to go out to town and have a look at London. I bussed to Aldgate; then bussed to Selfridge, from there to Victoria; then another bus route back to Aldgate, and the final bus back to Romford. I was glad I went, and the general devastation did not in the least depress me.

Although much of London is knocked down, an awful lot still remains, and Hitler would have to bomb us unceasingly for many years before he could knock the whole city down. Nobody looked miserable. There was that ordinary air of casual good nature in the crowd, which is really remarkable. It is quite true. London can take it.

Well, Wednesday’s trip was one of simple curiosity, mere sightseeing but yesterday’s was for a family affair; an attempt to put wisdom into a young man, to protect a fool from his folly. I am not going to write about this. I am mind weary over Artie’s love affair. We are doing all we can to break it up, but whether we can succeed or not, I don’t know. Edna Renacre is the most determined pursuing young female I have ever come across, and she’s slick and sly, so she may marry the boy yet. Artie says no, he won’t marry her, and that he has made her understand there positively is no engagement between them. When he said goodbye to me in Ashford Station last night, he promised me, and he swore before God, that he would break with her completely, but whether he will be strong enough to keep his promise, I don’t know. He means to.

Edna is the very devil of a schemer and pursuer, and she may be too clever, for him yet. She makes him sorry for her and of course that’s fatal with Artie. He believes every word she tells him, and he can’t see she is a little double-timer. Now I must rest on his promise that he won’t marry the girl. I can’t talk about it anymore.

What I want to write about is the effect of yesterdays trip upon me. What I saw with great clarity yesterday were the great delusions. First of all there was the delusion of romantic young love, which was the reason for my jaunting but that became a minor delusion, as transitory as itself, in comparison with others that were brought home to me.

Coming out from my long seclusion, parsing through the city crowds, mingling with the traveling crowd, I was suddenly aware of the great universal delusion of personal importance. We all live shut up in our own heads, mulling over our own dreams. We each do think we are ourselves the centre of the universe, whereas not one of us is of the slightest importance at all.

I saw how trivial are human beings. Riding through the railway cuttings of Kent I noticed the sloping grassy banks, and there were exactly the same as they were in my childhood. I had ridden between those grass banks fifty years ago, and fifty years hence other people will pass them, and they will still be exactly as they are now. The grass is more perdurable than we are. We chafe and we grieve and we die, but the grass still grows, indestructible. I thought, What is man that thou art mindful of him? Then immediately realized that thou have disappeared.

It is the delusion of God. Yesterday looking over the country I thought, Why, I have lost God altogether. I no longer believe in him! Yet only last Wednesday I found him, or thought I did, in the cathedral, when I went in there to pray, and was able to pray. We all live in a state of hypnosis. We are hypnotized by propaganda; by the impact of particular places and persons; by religion, by war, and by ourselves, by our own terrible easy suggestibility. We are sheep, dumb fool sheep. Consider this huge derision of patriotism and of war.

As I looked over Kent yesterday, so peaceful, all the harvest in, so green, so quiet, the sense of the folly of the war enveloped me ever more tightly and suffocating then in Blitzed London. Much of London is offensive to the sight, so that when one sees portions of it utterly destroyed unconsciously one is reconciled to the destruction.

The countryside: Why should that be befouled by war? Actually of course it isn’t. Riding out through the dreary cheap vulgar suburbs one acutely sees the great delusion of great cities but looking at the everlasting earth one sees the everlasting. Even if Hitler invaded Kent with a million Germans, still the grass would grow, the cattle stand in the streams, the uplands roll. The farmers pursue their avocations. The further I went from London the more I was convinced that war is only made by the few bad men in power, for their own profit. War pays the armament makers. The puzzle is: Why do common men obey the warlords? Why? Because they are hypnotized by words, deluded by propaganda and patriotism. Oh God! What fools men are!

All my natural solitariness arose in me yesterday. I didn’t want to see any of the little towns as we passed through them. All the habitations of men. They were ugly. They were depressing. I wanted empty country, lone farms. I wanted the prairie, and the great ranges of the American west. I wanted solitude: no people at all. Like Sheila, I am antisocial. Not only did I see other people as distasteful and tiresome and silly; I saw myself equally so. Oh, I realize my own insignificance all right! Full well I know I am a no-account.

One thing I determined, and that is, to guard my own mind. That seems the most important thing to me today, to protect my mind and to keep out the crazy propaganda and all the world’s false beliefs. The everlasting verities, those are what I want to discern and the realities, and mainly the beautiful and good realities. War is a reality and Hitler is a reality, but neither Hitler nor war is enduring; both will pass away, but the grass will remain, beauty will remain.

So I at least will keep sane, and keep my mind uncontaminated by the horrors. I will think on the things that are lovely, and of good repute. I revert again; you see, to the doctrines of Mrs. Eddy, the self-control of the mind. Think the right thoughts. Yes. I can’t stop the war but I can think less about it. Today I am very tired, terribly tired. Miss Owlett has begun her Sunday evening singing, so, as it is impossible to think a thought against it. Au-revoir.

September 22, 1941

Ted is off to the Home Guard. Miss Coppen here this afternoon. I went round the town this morning to pay the bills, which got missed on Saturday, and the town depressed me. I long for a clean and cheerful American town, with bright and snappy people going around in it. The sight of the population in Romford gives me the blues. Everyone is so drab. The atmosphere of the place is so slack, so slow, and so heavy. I need to be exhilarated, but Romford deflates me. On Saturday, with the sea-air blowing in from Hythe, I felt fine. Probably physically Romford is the wrong place for me anyhow. I had intended to do some writing tonight, but now I am too tired. I’m sure Romford doesn’t agree with me but how to get away from it? That is the question.

September 23, 1941

By the first post I received a letter from Artie, written in camp yesterday, in which he writes: With this I am posting a registered letter to Edna declaring the engagement broken and telling her I shall have it inserted in the Romford paper to the same effect. I’ve also sent Mrs. Renacre a short note.

Before ten o’clock this morning Mrs. Renacre came calling. Thinking Mrs. R’s letter was for her, Edna had opened it and read it. She was dreadfully upset Mrs. Renacre said. She did not say exactly what was in Artie’s letter, and apparently the registered letter to Edna had not yet been delivered. Mrs. Renacre is diffuse. She looks like a respectable charwoman and she talks like one. I gathered that Artie had written to say, not only the engagement was off, but also the friendship was ended. I also got an impression that the Renacre’s will try to compel Artie to stick to the engagement.

Mrs. R’s stresses what he has written in previous letters. I tried to point out that the past is the past. If a man (or a girl) changes his mind, declares an engagement broken, then it is broken, and what can you do about it? You can’t compel a man to marry a girl. True, a girl can sue for breach of promise but she must prove damage, and there must be funds from which to collect damages. Artie has no money, nor is Edna damaged. Anyhow, what sympathy would any girl get today that sued a soldier? Besides, she would quite likely, indirectly, put a permanent label on herself as damaged goods. Not that she would be, but by bringing suit she would lay herself open to suspicion. Obviously the family will compel Artie to maintain the engagement if they can. They lack delicacy entirely. The ordinary normal response of a nice girl, who would scorn to make advances where she knows she is not wanted, is entirely lacking. They see a good match slipping through their fingers, and they don’t intend to lose it; that’s their attitude. It’s a miserable affair. It would be much worse if Artie finally married the girl. She is a tartar, and her family is deplorable. Luckily Artie goes to Scotland October 2, she can’t run up there after him.

September 25, 1941

This is the third consecutive Thursday on which Mrs. Prior has not shown up to work, so I had to get busy myself this morning on the housework. Cleaned my bedroom, bathroom, little halls, and stairs, which was quite enough for me for one day.

No further news of the Renacre’s. Rita Pullan called in this evening, to pick up some glove-wool I have. She is going to knit Cuth a pair of gloves. She said she had heard from Artie this week. He can’t be pining if he can write to another girl. She said she had sent him addresses of some of her relatives in Scotland, whom she knows would be glad to receive him. Good. I wish Artie could get a little social life.

September 27, 1941

Ted spotted this notice in today’s Romford Recorder, in the personals: Miss Edna Renacre wishes to state that no engagement exists between herself and Mr. Arthur F. Thompson of Western Road.

This is a clever move on her part. Recognizing, I suppose, that her game was lost, she put the notice in the paper, and by doing so she publicly practically asserts that she is the jilter, not the jilted. I am surprised she thought of the move, for her social ignorance is colossal.

September 29, 1941

A letter from Artie, saying, that on Dad’s advice, he had written to Edna: ... that if she will send me a letter stating the ring is not to be looked on as an engagement ring and that no engagement exists she will be reimbursed for the ring and that she may keep it, and that no advertisement will be made in the newspaper.

He writes that he will be at Euston about ten-thirty p.m. on Wednesday, and for his father to see him there. His train for Lanark leaves at two a.m. Thursday. Of course Ted will go, and probably the finale of the ring- business will have occurred by then. What a miserable business the whole affair has been! 

World War ll London Blitz: 8-9-41 to 8-29-41 Last week I read ambassador Dodd’s Diary. He was an American ambassador in Berlin from 1933 to 1938.

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August 6, 1941

I have just been having words with Ted. I think him detestable, and I was so disgusted with him I told him so. It is silly, of course. Usually I can hold my tongue, but tonight I didn’t. I’m so tired of him, that’s why, I suppose. This afternoon I went to the movies. 
Major Barbara, Shaw’s play, is showing at the Havana, so I went down to see it. I did not leave the theatre until six-ten p.m. but I was back here in the house before the news was finished. I had left the table laid, and I found Ted eating his tea, but he began scolding me at once. He said I should have told him I would not be here to get
him his tea. I went straight ahead and put the kettle on, and got him some pie and cream, but he kept on and on as though I had committed a crime. Finally he stopped I thought he has finished but when I sat down to take off my shoes, he began all over again.
Good gracious, I said, have you got to begin again? I thought you were finished. Then all at once I flared, How many times in these last twelvemonths have you found me out when you come in?

He began all over again. He came and stood over me, and wagged his finger at me, admonishing me without ceasing, and being very rude. I resented his rudeness, and his whole admonitory attitude. I said so. Why should he speak to me as though I was a naughty child? I told him I wouldn’t listen to him. That was a silly thing to say, of course, because I had to listen, as he told me, of course.

Everything went out with his pointing wagging finger. I just thought him silly, and so petty. He kept on and on until I finally told him he was detestable. How stupid of me. Finally he went out to the Home Guards.

I have been having a very trying time this week past. Artie has been home on his seven-day leave. He returned to camp yesterday. All the time Artie was here Ted was extremely disagreeable. He nagged the boy. He nagged me. Why Ted is so censorious I do not know; but he will set himself up as a judge and he cannot refrain from sarcasm or what he thinks is sarcasm. Three quarters of what he must think is wit, is just plain low class rudeness. He has talked to me daily and nightly of what he calls Artie’s stupidities, he has condemned, the youngsters, this new generation, twenty times a day. I am sick of his preaching’s. God, how sick! I want to be happy and easy. My God! Aren’t they fighting this war for us? 

For Ted they are just fools. In most of his talk for Artie he just tried to make Artie look a fool and then jeer and sneer at the boy. That is how Ted talks with the boys and with me. He questions and cross-questions everything we say, even an innocent remark about the weather. It is as though he deliberately tries to make us out to be either fools or liars or both. Oh, but it's wearing.

Today I received a letter from Eddie and after he had read that he began instantly to belittle Eddie, and make a derision of him. I made no reply at the time, but probably that was a soreness that made me flare out tonight when he began to scold me for being out. Anyhow, I am not the man’s slave. I’m free, white, and twenty-one, and I’m not chained to the premises. I do resent his cutting and insulting remarks. Why be so rude? Why be so unfair? Why in the name of God be so petty? When he comes back I expect he will begin another harangue. I shall be told off all over again. Well, he’s the righteous one, but he certainly makes me hate righteousness.

August 7, 1941

Waiting for Mrs. Prior. If she does not show up by nine-thirty I must begin on the work myself. When Ted came in last night I was listening to a B.B.C. concert. I did not speak, nor did he. However, he stayed in the dining room and also listened. Later a dance band came on the air; then he grunted and fussed, and soon went to bed. I remained downstairs and listened the program out. I think some of the dance songs very funny, they are certainly clever, and mostly melodious but Ted affects to dislike them all. To him they are modern music, therefore no good, and he says so, times without number.

This morning he rose extra early, and went into the garden barefoot before the seven a.m. news. Then he shod himself and went to church, of course. What does he get out of early church? An orgasm perhaps? 

I remember years ago, way back in the Bayonne years, Blanch Sivell once said to me that she didn’t know what pleasure married people got out of marriage, but it couldn’t possibly be more than the pleasure she got out of Holy Communion. Why Ruby, its wonderful, its keen, I can’t describe it but I’m, sure no lover could possibly thrill me more! I thought her batty at the time. Perhaps there was something in it. I’m sure love and religion is inextricably mixed and I’m quite sure religion practiced by Ted is an aberration.
Ted is an A one eccentric. Take this barefoot practice of his. I do not remember him going around barefoot until the Tenafly years. I think he began the habit there. Outside on the lawns, or in the woods or fields, it was not so bad, a summer habit. When he began to walk about the house bare-foot, that was different. I remember one occasion that was downright unpleasant. One afternoon, Mary Spencer Smith was calling; we were drinking tea in the parlor. Then Ted came in, wearing linen knickers, but bare footed. He bowed in his ambassadorial fashion, seated himself in an armchair, but swinging his legs over the side. His feet were filthy, covered with ground dirt. Mary exclaimed at him. He expatiated on the pleasure of going barefoot.

But not in the drawing room! She said. Why not? Well, I’m surprised Ruby allows it. I shouldn’t allow Spence to, I can tell you.

But there it is, the way Ted slips in manners. He is not a gentleman, and the older he grows the more evident that fact becomes. He acted grossly one day this summer. He had been working barefoot in the garden, and he then came into rest awhile. He went upstairs and took off all his clothes except his shorts, and these were gaping. He came down into this dining room and began to smoke a pipe, lolling on the sofa, opposite the kitchen door. In this little house the dining room opens directly into the kitchen, and immediately on the right of the kitchen is the back door. If Ted is in the dining room when the errand boys call, he will speak to them as he chats in his camaraderie way. Well, a young lad came with the green groceries and Ted immediately rose, called out to the lad, and began stalking across the room to speak with him further. I was literally horrified. I closed the door abruptly and I said to Ted.
For goodness sake, use a little sense! Don’t expose yourself to strange young lads like that!

I shut the door in his face, and held it shut whilst the boy unloaded his basket. On the other side of the door Ted was laughing. He thought it a joke. I thought it an indecency and madness. What would the boy have thought has he seen this spectacle? There was Ted, a naked and dirty old man, puffing on a pipe, and talking, talking! God, what a fool!

Mrs. Prior has arrived. I’m glad. I didn’t want to tackle the cleaning. She said she has had a poisoned foot, but it is quite recovered now. Good. I hope she stays recovered. I can clean the house but why should I?

Ted might be surprised if he knew how some of the youngsters regard him. Mary Bernadette told me one day last week that he made Huge Storr-Best “feel uncomfortable” and that Doreen Peel did not like to come to the house when Mr. Thompson was at home because she did not like him. Strange, especially when Ted thinks himself so fascinating. Certainly his conceit grows, and the way he talks to intelligent youngsters is preposterous. He talks at them, and as though they knew nothing. Again behind everything, I think, lies his own uncultured youth; his consciousness holds only the poor cockney, with a mere elementary board school education, even if that.

Ted thinks he is being friendly. Actually he is only being embarrassing. Oh dear! What a man! Then there is his religion, his damned religion, and his talk of morals, which ultimately he drags into every conversation. He is tiresome and boring beyond words. His religion is an obsession, and in the end he tires everybody with it, even the Catholics. Lou Branney was here to tea on Monday. Lou now has his commission, was on leave, and came to see Artie. We talked of the war, of course. Lou said to Ted, I must say our Catholic papers make me sick, especially, The Catholic Herald. I won’t read them anymore. They’re damned awful.

But with Ted, what ever a Catholic paper prints is right. Must be, because it’s “Catholic” isn’t it? It is fanaticism, pure and simple. Franco is right. According to Ted Franco is a Christian gentleman who fought to save Christianity in Spain. Franco is a good Catholic, therefore can do no wrong. Facts tell against Franco and Lou said the more he found out about the Spanish war the more disgusted he was with Franco and his gang, the more he thought there was something to be said for the Republicans, for the government. Franco is a minor Hitler, or Mussolini, a man ruthless and cruel, self-seeking and a liar. Not for Ted oh dear no, Franco saved Spain! Oh well!

At breakfast this morning Ted wanted to be affable. I remained just polite. I presented him with a bill to pay. I have a bill from Stone’s for flannel and I have been wondering how I was going to pay it. He told me he was going to take a holiday all next week, and he thought he would go and look at Beccles and a few other places. So! I thought; all right, old boy, you can pay my Stones bill. So I produced the bill, asked him to bring me pence for the house at dinnertime, and please settle this bill. Is this for clothes? he asked. Yes, for petticoats.

He put it in his pocket. Let him pay. What does he ever give me? Why are little gifts so important to a woman? I don’t know, but they are. Trifles: things like a flower, or a pound of sweets, a package of cigarettes, a magazine, a scarf, all those little oddments, those little casual gifts. It is because they show affection, I suppose, a thought for you, a gift, a little gift. So I think, let him pay my bills. He looks after himself all right. Very well, he can look after me too. Now Au-revoir. I must go in and see about fixing lunch.

August 8, 1941

A teeming wet morning and I have just been out to Carlton Parade to place my weekend orders. I received a notice from the food control office this morning that my request to have my registration for eggs transferred has been granted. Took the notice to Mrs. Dennis, so now I am entirely through with Sainsbury’s; this after about fourteen years trade with them, during which we must have spent considerably over one thousand pounds with them.

Elizabeth Coppen telephoned early this morning she is coming to tea this afternoon. Now I’ll record an absolutely typical piece of English masculine behavior. Last night apropos of nothing, Ted suddenly said, about seven, that he was going out to a boxing match, held by the Home Guards. So off he went, not returning until about ten forty-five p.m. This was the husband going out without previous notification given. What about the wife in this case? I might have arranged to do something with this evening, especially if I had known it was going to be a free one. No, I was not informed of Ted’s intentions for the evening until he was ready to leave the house. Yet he rowed me abominably on Wednesday because I went out, in the afternoon, too, when he was not at home!

With out previously telling him of my intention to go out and my crime was heightened because I was not back in the house before he came home. Probably he wasn’t back until six, anyhow. He comes in when he is ready to come in. Officially the office closes at five. Ted may come straight home, but he may go to the barbers or the library, or the church first but he never tells me what he is going to do, or where he is going. He returns when he is ready to return, and I have nothing to say in the matter. Not that I want to have anything to say. What I resent it that he should object to my going out at my convenience, and returning at my convenience, especially as I had not neglected any of my “duties” by doing so. That’s the Englishman for you, particularly the English husband.

Perhaps the young English husbands are different; I don’t know, but I shall hope so. Oh, how I do dislike old-time Englishmen! Is it any wonder I long for America, and shall long for it, as long as I live, and whether I have any children there or not. American men treat their women properly, and no matter what their personal relationships are. American women are equal human beings with their men; they always were, and I guess they always will be. Anyhow, I thank God my sons are American. My sons won’t expect to own their wives, nor even give them “Christian” arguments that morally a wife should obey a husband. My sons are not Englishmen, thank God.

Ted did write me a cheque at dinner time yesterday, and without further questions. All day he tried to be jocular. I think he was ashamed of his Wednesday’s outburst, his anger and rudeness and injustice; but of course he’ll never say so, he’ll never apologize: not to me. He might confess it in the confessional but he’ll never admit to me he was wrong, or say he was sorry he hurt my feelings. To write a cheque with partial good grace, that’s all he’ll be able to do in repentance or recompense towards me. I smile. I’m hard, and I only wish the amount requested had been treble what it was! When he so unexpectedly went out last night I set to work and cut out the petticoats. Now I’ve discovered why flannel petticoats have gone out of favor these past years. They cost too much. These petticoats work out at nearly one pound a pieced, which is very expensive.

August 9, 1941

I received a note from Artie this morning to say he had been passed for a commission. Good. He will probably go to an O.C.T.U. before the month is out.

After much rain, today started very fine, so Ted said, The weather was for him, and packed his haversack. He went off by the twelve forty-six p.m. train; for Ipswich, I think. Anyhow, he is going hiking through East Anglia. Why East Anglia, seeing it is raided somewhere or other practically every day? Well, my guess is he is making for Walsingham. Next Friday will be the fifteenth, the feast of the Assumption, and I think Ted has started out on a pilgrimage to Walsingham, and probably, once in the country, will travel bare-foot. He has a mania for pilgrimages. Oh Lord! What a fool! What an utter fool.

I have been to the town twice today, and now am very tired. First I went to Stone’s to pay my bill, and whilst there I bought some khaki wool to make Artie some socks. I also returned Ted’s books to the Public Library, and bought a basketful of apples from Ives in Mercury Gardens. Apples are in at last, thank goodness. The paucity of fruit is very great. There’s a paucity of every- thing, I think. When I returned to the house I remembered I hadn’t parceled Artie’s cardigan, which he asked for, to be sent at once, so I had another trip, down to the post office. Consequently I am terribly tired tonight. It had been my intention to cut out a frock, but I am much too tired to do so. Luckily I’ve got an interesting book to read, The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead.

Last week I read ambassador Dodd’s Diary. He was an American ambassador in Berlin from nineteen thirty- three to nineteen thirty-eight. This was an intensely interesting book. It was his private diary, not his official one. Right from the start he could see war coming. What struck me most in it was the rascality, and idiocy, of men in high places, and how greatly the life of the world lies in the hands of the giant capitalists. A few rich men do own the earth. No wonder they are afraid of the communists. The rich men of Europe wanted war, because war makes profits; but ordinary men never want war. As G.B.S. said somewhere: If you take out the governments and shoot them, then you will have peace.

For several years now I have been attracted by the thought of communism, especially sine the Spanish Civil War; but I have never dared investigate it, because I feel that if I did I might be converted to it. That would never do! Not whilst Ted Thompson and I have to live in the same house. He condemns it off hand, in toto. Without ever investigating it for himself, of course: sufficient for him that the Church had condemned it. The Church!

August 12, 1941

Got no sewing done. First of all Mrs. Thomson killed my morning. Then I went down to South Street to buy some stationary, etc. All paper, books, etc. are getting very scarce, and very dear. I bought two new books, a good (and their last) newspaper clippings book, a bottle of stick-phast and their last scrap-album. I’ve got the album to hold my collection of dress pictures. For years I have cut out of papers, magazines, etc. pictures of what I consider beautiful frocks, in styles suitable for me. Some are being worn by people in the news, some by people in advertisements, a very few from fashion notes. They go back to the last war years, and start with a photograph of Maude Adams, wearing a velvet gown, and my two latest are; one, a photo of a social group in Buckingham Palace this July, for the picture of the ensemble worn by the Queen of Yugoslavia (a woman of my build, wearing a figured silk dress, covered by an extremely graceful but plain black coat, it was the coat I wanted to note) and second, a propaganda picture about girls war work, showing a mother and daughter chatting together, and this to note the mother’s dress, which is a severely plain cross-over.

Then after lunch I called a taxi and went over to Parkway to pay a visit to Miss Coppen. I met her friend Mrs. Townsend. I stayed with her until nearly eight o’clock, and then taxied home again. I had only just got in when Rita Pullan came, and she has only just left. So now it is bedtime again, for I am too tired to start sewing tonight. Goodnight.

August 13, 1941

My guess about Ted going to Walsingham has turned out wrong. He arrived home at one o’clock today. The weather has been too showery for pleasant hiking, so here he is, home again. A good homecoming, I think. I think we were both pleased to see each other again. Anyhow, for both of us, our nerves have been rested.

Last night I had to get up, about one a.m., guns. I came downstairs, and heard a big bomb fall somewhere. About four a.m. everything was quiet, so I went back upstairs to bed. Ted said he heard alerts every night whilst he was away. His early return put a further crimp into my sewing. Weather has turned definitely stormy.

August 14, 1941

At the first news this morning we were told a special announcement from the government would be made on all stations at three p.m. by Mr. Atlee, the deputy prime minister. We had never heard of a “deputy prime-minister,” so wondered if Churchill had been assassi- nated, or what. At three p.m. the announcement: Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt had met at sea, and drawn up, and signed, a mutual statement, about our war aims. It has twelve points, which were ten given. I suppose I should rather describe it as our peace aims. Anyhow, it answers the question: What are we fighting for? It’s good, and its clever, and it forestalls Hitler, which is especially good. For weeks there have been rumors of “Peace Negotiations” coming from Hitler. This asserts again that the world will never negotiate with Hitler. I can’t write it all here.

Anyhow, I’m sick to death of the war, and all the war talk. This ceaseless destruction and lunacy gets me down. We have had comparative quiet in England since Hitler attacked Russia, but the war in Russia is too ghastly awful. Awful! I’m not going to write it here. Let the history books take care of that. The destruction is frightful. I ask: where is God in this?

Marshal Petain made a very silly speech from the Vichy this week. He is still talking to his defeated Frenchmen about self-abasement, and the need for repentance and sacrifice. He is just a pious old fool, cow towing to Hitler. He is a dictator, dictating his own countrymen. Frenchmen have lost their liberties. Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, officially is no more. Petain has substituted Family, Work, and Obedience. Fine For nitwits! Petain is governing France by authority. Whose? His own? Hitler’s? France is dead.

I did some sewing this afternoon. Ted brought my sewing machine downstairs, which was a great help. Mary Bernadette Jude visiting this evening. I am reading an extraordinary book, but very slowly. Too many interruptions for any steady reading. It is a new novel by Christina Stead, The man who loved children. Much of it could pass for a portrait of my own husband. The likeness of Sam Pollitt to Edward Thompson is positively uncanny. I wonder, if Ted read it, would he recognize himself?

August 16, 1941

Ted has gone out to play at a wedding. Last night I was dreaming of W.H. This is a clear instance of associative memory. W.H. once said to me, Everything goes back to sex: everything. It goes back to the foundations of history, of art, of poetry, or work, of war, everything. It is the base of everything in life. It is the most important thing in the world.

I did not know what he was talking about but because I was a modest innocent Victorian maid, I was embarrassed, and I suppose it was because of my embarrassment that I have never forgotten his statement. W.H. was a formative and educative factor in my girlhood. He thought I was older than I was. He thought I knew more than I did, so he spoke accordingly, slightly above my head. He impressed me, and most of his impressions still remain. Everything goes back to sex: everything is sex, he said. Experience inclines me to agree with him.

So here in Christina Stand’s book, she shows the puritan prig, the moralist, the teacher, the inquisitive questioner, the theorist, the declaimer, the idealist, the wind-bag, the carping critic, the self-righteous, the condemner: but she shows him as grossly sexual. She shows him as a man who hates his wife, yet nevertheless continuing in the use of her body. Yes: I know. Sex, is the ultimate, the foundation. It can be joy.

Usually it is a torment. Why do women despise men? Ask any mature wife. She will give you a shrug and a smile. All women know what men are. It doesn’t have to be put into words. Or in very short words. Men are dogs, pigs, and beasts. Feed the brute. Yes, and in more ways than one. In effect: keep mans appetite satisfied and then you’ll have peace in your life. Yes, we know. That’s why we don’t listen to men’s moralizing and theorizing; why we take no stock in men’s judgments. They are just noisy children, fighting and arguing and rip-roaring amongst themselves; but after awhile they feel hungry, and then they quite down and go around looking for bread and jam or lollipops and that is all that matters, their hunger.

August 17, 1941

I have had my breakfast and am waiting for Ted to come in to his. I am very tired and facing the day with a sort of dread; a very minor dread: nevertheless I wish it was eight-thirty this evening and this day had been lived through. I am expecting Mother, and I wish I wasn’t. I am so tired. I don’t want to talk with mother all day. I don’t want to listen to and answer her stream of unending questions. Query? Why do I hate questions so much? Mother has been coming over regularly every other Sunday all summer. She has been nice. We get along beautifully together but the fact remains that for me this is too often. It is my nastiness, of course. I do get so tired of people!

Yesterday Mrs. Thomson came in, very soon after two and stayed until five-fifteen p.m. She could see I was writing, but that made no difference to her. She was alone for the afternoon, Thomson had taken Joan to the movies, and so she just came and planted herself on me. She’s such a fool, and such a bore! She didn’t want to be alone, so that was that. What I might prefer didn’t matter to her, never even occurred to her. Of all the neighbors I have ever had she’s the prize pest of the lot. Last week got pretty well killed for me anyhow. I had anticipated a week of solitude. I had planned to sew, to write, to read, not to cook, and to sleep and wake, as I wanted. Instead, the weather turned bad and Ted returned home at midday on Wednesday and has been under my feet ever since. He has been amiable, but it was goodbye to all my private plans. It meant three meals a day again and God! I am tired of cooking and clearing away meals! I hate getting up and going to bed on his schedule. Mrs. Thomson popping in every day, and several times a day, till I wish her to blazes! Now today to spend with Mother more meals, more boring talk! Yes, here I am, grumbling away like mad. I know. Oh, I am tired, tired.

August 19, 1941

I went to the movies this evening, for the first time since July a year ago. A special government film is being shown everywhere this week, Target for Tonight, showing a real crew in their Wellington Bomber, making a raid over Germany. At dinner time Ted asked me whether I didn’t want to go and see it; so we met in the Havana at five-twenty p.m. like pre-war days, and saw the picture together. It gave me a very eerie feeling. The fighting in Russia is giving us in England a respite. Just the same we are warned daily to be prepared for the resumption of heavy attack, and to expect this winter to be even worse than last. Have I noted the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill at sea? Anyhow let the history books take care of that. I’m too tired to write about the war, the damned war.

August 22, 1941

Ted is playing benediction tonight. I have been to Aves this afternoon and had my eyes tested. As I thought, my glasses need much correction. Eyestrain probably accounts for much of my tiredness of late. Certainly I have been aware of my eyes troubling me, especially after a spell of knitting or sewing and after the movies. I have arranged for three pairs of spectacles, as per usual; two, in duplicate, for reading, writing, sewing, etc. and one helping to wear at the pictures, or out riding, and so on. I still do not require glasses for constant daily use, walking about, I’m very glad to say. I am naturally long-sighted, and Aves says my sight is very good for my age, and has not failed or deteriorated more than it should for my years. So that’s good news anyhow. Now I am going to listen to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, so Au-revoir.

August 29, 1941

I am weary, impatient, melancholy. When Ted came in for dinner he brought his moneybag along; finishing lunch early he went into the parlor and started playing the piano. Naturally I assumed he had finished work for the weekend. I also thought he had lit the parlor fire. It is a blustery autumn like day. When he came back to the table for his coffee he commented on the rain and dullness, and I agreed, saying It is really cold enough for a fire today?

He said, Yes, why don’t you have one? I’ll light one in the parlor if you like.

I said. Oh, would you? That would be nice. Thanks. So he went in and made a fire. He came back to me full of grumbles. He said, Why don’t you think of these things earlier? It could have been burning up all this time! But you always leave everything to the last minute! Can you remember to take the gas poker out in ten minutes? Can you do that properly? Or is that too much trouble for you?

I laughed at him. I said, Look here, I didn’t ask you to light the fire. I know you didn’t. But you should have done. You wanted the fire in there. Why didn’t you say so?” I said, I thought you had lighted it. I thought you were home for the afternoon.

He said, Well, I’m not and you have no business to think. If you wanted the fire you should have said so. You only say what you don’t want. You should have told me early.

Look here, I repeated. I did not ask you for the fire. You offered to make a fire, and now I am very sorry I accepted your offer. I won’t another time. Stop scolding.

I’m not scolding, he said, I’m teaching you. I’m educating you. And with that he scowled, pulled his hat down with both hands, and went out the front door, still talking.

That is impertinence. Why should he “educate” me? Who the hell does he think he is, anyway? All that fuss about something he offered to do voluntarily. I guess he is in a scolding mood. Oh gosh, I’m tired.

I’m feeling down anyhow. I’ve received American letters this week, one from Mrs. Slocum, one from Lillian Berry, and one from Eddie’s wife, and one from Charley’s wife. In the end such letters always distress me. They rouse all my longings for family and friends and the dear American life and ways. I can get along much better when I don’t hear from America.

When Ted came into tea he said, I’m sorry I scolded you so much, but I had to, for your own good. What an apology! It is still the same impertinence. He is not my keeper, not my superior in any way at all. Why, Oh why, must he indulge his mania for instruction and correcting other people? Why his perpetual criticizing? I’m so sick of it, so sick of him. Now he has gone out to church, Friday Benediction. What a man!

I don’t want to be perfect, or to live the perfect life. Nor do I want him to be perfect. I can let his imperfections slide by without comment. Why can’t he let me alone? Above all, why can he never excuse me, never defend me? Oh God, I am so tired of this tiresome man. I want to be easy. I want to be happy.

I left the wireless on at teatime, to cover up any need for talk. Reginald Foort was playing waltzes. When I heard the old Destiny waltz I thought, yes, that is what I want. I want ease, grace, pleasure, happiness, and love. I want to laugh and to be gay. Ted’s everlasting pinpricking fault finding gets me down His everlasting moralizing. Oh, life with him is an awful strain. Well, he’s gone to church: my saint. As I read the gospel Jesus prefers the sinners to the saints every time and so do I. I am sick of Ted Thompson, literally sick of him. 

World War ll London Blitz: 7-2-41 to 7-28-41 Since Germany attacked Russia we have had quieter nights in England.

July 2, 1941

To the hairdressers again today, and had my hair thinned out. Weather is so hot, and my hair is so heavy. Have had my parting eliminated but can see this pompadour style does not suit me, I shall have to put the central parting back; that is the only style of combing the hair to suit my head and face.

Last night I slept upstairs in my bed. This is the first time since last August. It was delicious to get between the sheets and stretch out in a real bed. Since Germany attacked Russia we have had quieter nights in England. Ted has been sleeping upstairs for about a month, but I have had to call him down on several occasions, when the guns began. However, we have had quiet nights now for a week, so I decided to try it upstairs myself, and did so. It was bliss to sleep in a bed again. Ted came to my bed, too. So, I am happy and serene again, for a while anyhow.

We were surprised this morning by the news of the transference of Sir Archibald Wavell to India. We think this is ominous. It looks as though our government expects the Germans to take the Ukraine, and smash through there and attack us in India. Perhaps. There is continuous and fierce day and night fighting all along the Russian German border. The accounts of losses and gains, from both sides, are prodigious. We believe neither side, but it does look as though the Germans are penetrating into Russia, and Hitler, as usual, is winning. It is truly awful. What next? Supposing Hitler does beat Russia, then what? He will have won the world, for not even America could then stand up against him. We should be doomed, that’s certain. Meanwhile the carnage continues.

July 5, 1941

Feeling fine. I have been sleeping upstairs in my bed ever since the first, and feel a different woman for it. I have also been out every day, which has done me heaps of good I am sure. The weather is good too, summery, but not too hot for comfort. I have also had many visitors, who keep me from too much introspection: so that’s good too.

Myrtle Arch has been in two days this week. She and Geoffrey Medcraft are getting married on the twenty-sixth. To my surprise she tells me they are being married in St. Edwards, the parish church, not St. Edwards our Roman Catholic Church. She is Church of England, but it appears Geoffrey was only a convert to Rome, not a born Roman Catholic, and has now gone back to the Church of England, into which he was born. This is a double surprise, for I had always assumed Geoff to be a born Catholic, and also because this is the first convert I have ever met who publicly returned to their original faith. I have not told Ted this, for I do not want to prejudice him against Geoffrey.

Mary Bernadette was in to tea last night, and she is marrying a Protestant too. By the way, Mary has just been refused a permit to go to Ireland to visit her Mother because she is English, she says. Politics again. Is she suspected of being a spy, or a fifth columnist? Anyhow, she can’t go to Ireland to see her mother.
The war continues to get worse and worse. Today the Russians have claimed to kill seven hundred thousand Germans in White Russia alone. The Germans have claimed to have killed five hundred thousand Russians, and taken two hundred thousand Russian prisoners. I don’t know who counts but presumably the losses on both sides are enormous. The Germans continue their advance. The Russians continue their retreat. The R.A.F. is now bombing Germany in daylight every day. The Italians in Abyssinia are nearly finished, but in Libya the fighting continues and also in Syria. The Vichy French do not quit. The Turks continue to sit on the fence. Last night Roosevelt gave a small broadcast “for freedom”.

Our supplies diminish markedly. Myrtle Arch told me this morning that the queues of shoppers in Romford this morning were the worst yet, and there isn’t a potato in town. People quarrel about food, and about the waiting. In Wallis this morning Mrs. Thompson saw a man and woman come almost to violence over a quarter pound of bacon. The man refused to wait another turn. The woman shoved him and abused him. The man swore at her. He said, I work twelve hours a day seven days a week. I get only three hours of sleep a night, and I’m damned if I am going to wait about hours for my rations. You can wait, you’ve got all day.

The woman said, I’ve got my kids waiting for me, and who the hell do you think you are, anyhow? Just because you’re a man! Think the world can’t get on with out you, don’t you? Think your winning the war, don’t you? Well, let me tell you, the women are in this war just as much as you are, and you can damn well wait for your rations the same as the rest of us.

Food is scarce and very dear, and rationing severe. There is a great food ramp going on. As soon as prices are coded food disappears. Someone is making money. There are frequent scandals and the bureaucrats are smothering us. New ministries are instituted nearly every week, and with every Board of Control muddle is increased and prices are increased and supplies become extinguished. There is far too much government control, most of it only gumming the works. This wonderful land of liberty is snowed under continuous official forms, and harassed and annoyed by the ever-increasing army of ineffective petty clerks. War! They say, but most of it is just plain stupidity. This isn’t what I wanted to write about. All this will be in the war books, and let it molder there with all the other items of the greedy and stupid and beastly record.

I sat down to note I was feeling fine, and why? I am. I’m feeling simply splendid. Of course if Gerry comes and bombs London again tonight I shan’t feel so good. Meanwhile, he is giving us a rest whilst he gives the Russians a deviling, so we’ll take our happy ease whilst we can.

July 6, 1941

Ted is off to his Home Guarding. My emerald earrings are missing; also a turquoise, amethyst, and pearl brooch I had. I have looked in every possible and every impossible place and cannot find them. I may have mislaid them, but where? I had been wearing them frequently of late, with my green flowered frock. But now where are they? The last I remember them they were on this dining room mantle-piece, where I used to lay them at night when I undressed. Now I have been sleeping upstairs since Tuesday. Mrs. Prior did not show up this Thursday. Why not? She sent no excuse. I hate to think it of Mrs. Prior, but she does lay under suspicion. I have a habit of laying my watch, my rings, my earrings, any trinket, on the mantelpiece. I think my emerald earrings and my brooch were on the mantle piece Thursday a week ago, the last day she was here. They might not have been, but I think they were. Well, where are they now?

Apart from this annoyance I hate to lose anything, and my mind fidgets until I can account for it. I’m feeling fine. It is the good sleeping, I think. I had deep sleep last night, not waking until I heard Ted running his bath water this morning. I think for both of us our nerves are assuaged. There is something so physically right in sleeping through the night, side by side in the same bed. We get up to the day saner sweeter beings. It may be animal magnetism, electrical vibrations, or God knows what, but the fact is that sleeping together in the same bed all night does iron out our nerves and restore our mental equilibrium. Both of us are saner then we were a week ago. Of course Ted gets up and goes out to early mass every morning just the same. That’s an unbreakable habit now, and only death or paralysis will ever stop him. I don’t care. Let him. In fact, the more of a habit it is, mere hypnotic habit, the less important.

This is a glorious day, clean and fresh, good. I should love to go riding. We have no car, and even if we had a car, there’s no petrol. So I shall sit at home, just the same as ever. I could sew today. I’m in the right mood for it; but with Ted at home, and the possible Sunday callers it is no good beginning sewing, so Au-revoir to that. Unluckily I have nothing good to read or I don’t know what I do want to read. Something American, I think, something about Tao's and Santa Fe. I wish I had D.H. Lawrence’s letters on hand, but I haven’t. I think I’ll take down a Mary Austin. Yes, Mary Austin. Au-Revoir.

July 12, 1941

I boasted too soon. I have been ill all week with lumbago. Last Monday morning after my bath I was attacked suddenly by the most excruciating pain in my lower back. I could not move, and every slightest attempt to move caused such agony I sweated and screamed. I screamed so much I frightened the neighbors. Mrs. Thomson came rushing in, and then rushed out for the doctor. The doctor called the district nurse, who came in and poultice me. She came until yesterday, twice a day Tuesday and Wednesday. Dr. Keighley had to give me drugs to alleviate the pain, and to give me sleep. I’m all right again now, thank heaven: but what a week I’ve had! It appears lumbago is a hot weather complaint, and aggravated by the dryness. Many people suffer with it in the summer time. This whole week has been very hot and dry; exceptionally hot for England.

July 13, 1941

Mother here for the day. Rita Pullan in for tea. There was a severe thunderstorm last night, which has broken the back of the heat wave. At two p.m. there was a special announcement from the government. It was that the British and the Soviet governments have signed an agreement to give each other all assistance and support during the war against Hitlerism Germany, and to conclude no armistice or treaty of peace except by mutual agreement. This was a signal last night in Moscow by our ambassador, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. Molotov. So now we are definitely allied with Russia once again. It is three weeks today that Germany attacked Russia. The fighting is awful beyond words.

There is a rumor, coming via Stockholm that Hitler and Goring have quarreled, and Goring has been sent to a concentration camp. The story is, that Goring declined to be responsible for his air force, and did not want to start the fight against Russia. He said that because of their losses in the West, and over Greece and Crete, he would not be responsible for their fighting now. So Hitler flew into frenzy and said he would command the Luftwaffe himself. Then Himmler, who was present, suggested that Goring be thrown into a concentration camp, and the presumption is that he was, particularly that Goring’s name has ceased to appear in the German papers for these last three weeks. Well, maybe. Anyhow we positively know that Rudolph Hess is here in England, so, if it true about Goring that is two of the rogues who can be counted out.

July 14, 1941 — Bastille Day

In unoccupied France Marshal Petain has ordered it to be observed as a day of meditation and devotion, i.e. mourning. In Syria the armistice has been signed, the Vichy French have laid down their arms and the free French are celebrating the day, as Frenchmen should.

July 15, 1941 — St. Swithin’s Day

In this little house the laundry baskets have to stand at the head of the stairs, and on laundry days they have to be brought down and I sort out and make up the laundry at the foot of the stairs in this tiny hallway. The stairs are narrow and have a turning-platform halfway, so taking the big baskets up and down is an awkward job. Sometimes I do it myself, and sometimes I ask Ted to do it. I asked him to do it this morning because I am leery of my back. So, when he finished up his coffee I said, Will you hand me down the laundry baskets please?

I stood at the foot of the stairs, ready to receive them. He came first with the tall full one. As he dropped it into my grasp it wrenched my wrist so when he came again with the big square one, I said, Just drop it.

He expostulated, I thought you said, ‘Hand me the baskets.’ why don’t you say what you mean?

I didn’t answer him. I just took the basket, other wise he would have stood there holding it until I did, and stood it upended. What a wave of repugnance for this man went through me! His literalness, of which this is an exact specimen, how it bores me! His petty criticisms, how weary I am of them! I want to live alone! Well now I have to attend to the laundry, so Au-revoir.

July 17, 1941

Ted’s birthday. Born in eighteen seventy-nine he must be sixty-two today. I went out this morning to buy a pair of pajamas to send to Cuthie, so I bought Ted a tie.

This week we have to register anew for rations. This morning I went over to Carlton Parade and registered with Wenden for meat, and Mrs. Dennis for groceries, butter, eggs, etc. Sainsbury’s will have a shock when I do not re-register with them, but their wartime service is very unsatisfactory. Anyhow, I prefer to patronize the little one-man business. I am especially interested in Mrs. Dennis. She is a war widow from the last war. She has one son who is conscripted for this war. So that she should not have to carry on the business alone the son married when he was called up, and his young wife works with the mother in the shop. They are two lone women. I think they should be helped. A wealthy corporation like Sainsbury’s can look after itself. Mrs. Prior should have come today but didn’t.

July 19, 1941

Waiting for deliveries. I had a minor shock last night, which sent me to bed full of bad feeling, but happily I am recovered this morning. When Ted came in last night he brought his commanding officer, a Mr. Cardon, in with him. The night had turned stormy, and Cardon had driven Ted home in his car. We had whiskey and cigarettes, and much talk of the last war, in which Cardon was flying as one of the first observers, over Egypt, Palestine, and elsewhere in the near East.

Cardon of course was asking about Cuthie. He told us of another Romford boy, named Tisford, who is a prisoner in Germany, but who, with two other English prisoners, is domiciled with a German farmer. This boy writes home that the German farmer is very good to them, that they like the life, and they like the whole family. It isn’t the people who want war, said Cardon. Exactly. Governments make wars. If the politicians in power could be taken out and shot there would be no more wars.

Enquiring of Ted how far East he had been, Ted brought out his map and showed the line of his travels in Italy in nineteen thirty-nine. Then he produced his passport from his pocket to show its stampings! With the passport there fell on the table a foreign letter, addressed to the office, in the handwriting, I think, of his American German lady friend, which he immediately covered, and then apparently unobtrusively (but I saw) picked up and slipped into his pocket. I pretended not to notice, but I was filled with a feeling of sick disgust. My hero! My saint! Men were deceivers ever, all right. Jealousy, I suppose; but more emphatically than jealousy, distaste and disdain for the hypocrite, the slyness, and the secrecy. This is the Catholic. I say that the Catholic mind tends naturally to secrecy, prevarication, deception, and downright lying. It is The Jesuitical mind, to which Ted has a natural affinity. Why doesn’t Ted tell me of his correspondent? Why does he conjure his letter out of sight? Why doesn’t he tell me who knits gloves for him? Or enquire for them when they are missing?

Well, a guilty conscience needs no accuser. This damnable secrecy: this holding me off outside of all confidence: this deliberate planned deception. Yes, it is all hateful to me, hateful beyond all words, and I hate the secretive and the deceptive one. This is the Catholic Christian: the man who goes regularly to confession, and to mass every day. He is a Pharisee, always ready with censure for the other fellow and he is a hypocrite and a liar. Not the simple liar, who merely utters a direct falsehood; he is the accomplished liar who deceives deliberately by indirection and by systematic silence.
There is no real friendliness in Ted for me. I have felt this lack of friendliness for years; occasional lust, yes; but honest true affection, no. He lives his own life, regardless. He does what he wants, always. He is essentially as selfish and as ruthless as his brother Herbert, but he is glossed and camouflaged with his fancy religion, his damnable Catholicism, which is the most selfish and the most materialistic religion in the world. Oh well! Here’s the grocer, so Au-revoir.

July 20, 1941

It is a lovely morning. Ted off to his Home-Guarding and I have a dinner to cook. When Captain Cardon was here the other evening he told us of a new detachment of our boys now training in Scotland and known as the Spear-Head Boys. We are systematically training our troops for invasion of the continent. Constantly our boys are practiced in the loading and unloading of ferry-barges, and shock tactics. The Spearhead Boys are the soldiers who will go forward in the very front, and they are trained to throw themselves on to the barbed wire, and to lay on it and hold it down whilst the following fellows clamber right over them, actually running over their backs. My God! How many broken backs shall we have? All for what? My God! My God! This crazy war!

Here’s a funny tale to note. It is about Herbert. One day last week Ted saw Bert at the gate of the Masonic Hall, “one foot only over the line,” making inquiries about some R.A.F. boys who have been billeted on him. It appeared they arrived without their ration cards (of course) and moreover, Bert wanted to go away for a weekend, so what was he to do with the boys? We laughed about this, because Bert hates having anyone billeted on him, and has successfully dodged all billetees up until now, and we thought, Jolly good for Bert! Let him do something for his country! I got a report on the situation via the R.A.F. boy next door, which makes it even funnier. It seems the boys sent to Arden Cottage very much dislike being there, and are actually embarrassed by “the family.”

They don’t mind the old boy so much, reports Eric, but they can’t stand his woman. They think she’s crazy. For instance, in the middle of dinner, apropos of nothing at all, she will get up and go to the organ and sing hymns.

Hymns mark you. Very likely she is drunk, but she is such a steady old sock the youngsters probably can’t detect her drunkenness. But hymns! All this is further evidence of how cracked old Bert is, to tie himself up with this kind of female. She is a tippling whore, religious in her cups; of course, she came from the slums originally, and is a completely ignorant tough. I suppose that is why Bert is her meat, birds of a feather. Bert has simply reverted to the society he came from, the common and the low. What a fool! Here is a man who had achieved much, but cannot stay with his achievements. His brain has softened and his character gone mushy, the whole man has deteriorated. Why? There is a crack in his brain somewhere. What is wrong with the Thompson brain? I suppose a trained neurologist could name the exact flaw at once but I can’t.

July 21, 1941

I have been reading Virginia Woolf’s last book, Between the acts. I’ve liked it, and not liked it. I like its evocation of a summer day and a company of country people. I like its sense of life and continuity but I dislike its emotion, which is a continuous sense of desolation. Implicit in the whole book, it seems to me, is the confession of Virginia Woolf, herself. I think her character Isa, is herself. I think she is exposed in this last book her own obsessions: obsessions with words, with moods, with regrets, with her relationships with brother and with husband, and her thoughts of suicide.

Virginia Woolf committed suicide this early spring, by drowning herself in a country stream. She was supposed never to have recovered from the death of her brother Hugo. I think all this, her grief and her intention, is apparent in this last book. I also appreciate her awareness and her statement of the latent hatred that lie below sexual love, the duel of the sexes, and the everlasting tragedy of marriage.

Now I shall take the book down to Boots and change it. I don’t want Ted to dip into it. Why? Because its too true; and because, like the Isa of the story, I’m afraid of the man who is my husband. The last thing I want him to find out is my real thought, my real feeling. This is a terrible book, really.

All the while I have been writing and guns have been going off. I think a German plane or two is overhead near by, it is a very cloudy morning, with poor visibility, just the kind of sky the raiders like. No alert has been sounded, so I shall go out anyhow. By the way, I ordered two more books yesterday. One is the new Oxford University Press’s, The Bible For Today. I have been on the look-out for this for some time it was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement on Saturday, just out. The other is Marjorie Greenbie’s, American Saga. I’m a most desperately home sick for America. America, my America!

July 23, 1941

Gladys has been to see me today. Her account of the blitzes in Plymouth is awful. She says there is practically no Plymouth left at all. It has literally been razed to the ground. On the last blitz there were nine hundred identified as dead, counting civilians only (the naval and military casualties were not counted in with the civilians) the unidentified were uncountable; two shelters, each holding about two hundred people were simply limed and sealed up and the wounded number about three thousand. This is war.

July 24,1941

Ted Home-Guarding. This has been one of my unaccountable bad days. Why? I was in such a misery all morning I even felt physically bad. I had that feeling of fright and guilt, which is dreadful. Again the charwoman did not show up, so I set to work and did a little house cleaning, but not very much, because I felt I could not cope with the house. I am dreadfully tired of house keeping anyhow. I don’t want to dust another room, nor cook another meal, ever. I don’t want a house. I don’t want belongings. I just want to wander away; wander and wander. Of course that’s impossible. I’ve just to keep on being Mrs. Edward Thompson, a working wife and housekeeper. 

Oh damnation. I can’t settle to anything. I can’t sew, I can’t read, I can’t write. I can’t play. I can’t even think. Everything is weariness, and I cannot hold my attention to anything.
Possibly what I really need is a good meal. I think my system is in steady need of a steady diet of fresh meat. One shillings worth of meat per week does not feed me. This war diet is a very poor one. We are filled, but we are not fed. Half a pound of good steak a day for the next month would be the very best tonic I could have.

There is no meat. Yesterday I was able to get a stewing foul, and it was one of the toughest old cocks I have ever had. We had to eat it, because there was nothing else to eat. Today Ted wouldn’t even try to eat the remnants. I chewed my way through them, but Ted only ate vegetables with toast and some of the broth. Chicken broth! What sort of dinner is that for two healthy adults, and not even any rice or barley in it!

July 28, 1941

Waiting for Elizabeth Coppen. I’m awfully fond of her, but I do wish she wouldn’t visit me every Monday. It is my fault, of course. There isn’t anybody I want to see regularly once a week the whole year round. Once a week is too often and when it is always the same day too! I find such visits a tax, a tie, and a burden. It is just the same, even when I like the visitor. I am being anti-social, as usual. I like surprise visits. I really dislike these regular day of the week-programmed visits. To be fitted into somebody’s schedule! Gosh I do hate that. This is trivial. So I am trivial. I’m dead tired. Last night Gerry renewed his air attacks on this London area. We were wakened by the alert at a quarter to two. Of course we came downstairs.

Now waiting another visitor: Miss Owlett, who asked over the garden fence could she come in tonight. Ted just left for Home Guards. Our last nights raid was a fairly bad one. One whistling bomb which we heard descending caused Ted to roll off his sofa and get under the table! Victoria Road was hit again; this time five bombs and Also Catharine Road, Hamilton Road, Heath-Park Road, our immediate vicinity. Many houses demolished, casualties not yet know. The Heath Park School has a D.A. so school officially “broke up” toady, instead of waiting until next Thursday.

The London damage has not yet been told us: but large fires were started there, and we could see them still burning this morning. Oil bombs. Our fighters went up and everything seemed be going on immediately overhead. Three Gerry’s were brought down in this neighborhood. I was very frightened, and trembled. The all clear was given at four-fifteen a.m. All day planes have been up much more than usual; some are roaring over right now. I am afraid we shall have another bad night. Five weeks now since the attack on Russia, and Russia is still holding. Nine million men are arrayed against each other on the Russo-German frontiers. The carnage is frightful. Oh, God save the world!