At about two a.m. this morning there came a knocking at the door. It was Artie, who had managed to get away early from camp after all. He has had a frantically busy day. He went calling on Pauline Dunhill at ten this morning, but she wasn’t at home. However, he left a note in the letter box, and at two-thirty she phoned him, saying to call her at three-thirty p.m. After her call, he telephoned Edna! He asked Edna if she would come here to tea. She declined, very understandably. He arranged to meet her at the hospital at five-thirty, go to her home with her, see her mother, and reimburse her for the ring. Before he left, he drew up a statement for her to sign; not as a receipt for cash, but he would not give her the cash unless she signed the statement. It was to the effect that the ring she had purchased, was not an engagement ring, and that no engagement existed between her and Arthur Thompson.
Pauline arrived here at about seven, asking for Artie. She said he had asked her to come up to the house and wait for him. He had told me when he went out at three-thirty to five-thirty, was too short a time to have with Pauline! Artie did not come in until after seven-thirty. Edna had kept him two hours anyhow. He was not a bit perturbed, and devoted himself to Pauline right away. I made coffee, and we had coffee and fruit. Then Pauline rose to go, and Artie also, to see her to her bus. He was to meet Ted in the station hall at nine-fifteen p.m., to catch the nine-twenty one to town. Ted had to spend the evening with the Home Guard.
When nine o’clock came, there was no Artie. I got in a panic. I thought, oh, damn the girls! Now he is going to lose his train. I called a taxi for him, and lugged his baggage to the front door. The taxi came, but still no Artie! Presently he came running up the road, dashed in, grabbed his kit, kissed me, and dashed out again, simply falling into the taxi. Later I rang up the taxi service to inquire whether the driver could tell me if the passenger caught the train. The answer was yes; he did, so I said Thank God! What a day! Midnight almost now, and I’m off to bed. I’m jolly glad Ted’s gone to Euston with the boy.
Hitler made a speech in Berlin last night, his usual mouthful of boasting. All the same, he has not beaten Russia yet.
A letter from Artie: very cheerful. He begins: At last I’ve started something I’ve hankered for a long time and I think I am going to like it tremendously. I am in a newly built barracks and the cleanliness and general order and spaciousness combine to give it an air of comfort that I’ve not felt anywhere else. We have been issued with kit and a few odds and ends this afternoon, and tried to learn from a few cadets who have completed the course, what we are to expect. It seems that our course is to last for six months, twice as long as I expected, and two months longer than the last batch.
I say good!
October 5, 1941
This morning I actually feel peaceful. I think my minds load of worry about Artie has finally lifted, so that it’s rested and at ease again. What a to-do that Edna episode has been! What I hope now is, that Artie will be so interested and contented up in his O.C.T.U. that Edna will quickly fade from his mind. I’m sure his correspondence with her developed so factually simply because he was so utterly bored at New Romney. At last he has got away from there; and I most concentrated hope that he has got away from her also.
To take the minor jolt first. It concerns religion. Mrs. Millin is a Jewess herself, so she never has an inside understanding of Christianity or Christians. Not that she is anti-Christian, but she just can’t know the indelible Christian background of any Gentile life, no matter how unbelieving. She observes the Christians, and, I presume, in her own beliefs, or non-beliefs, can be classed with our educated agnostics. However, writing of the South African colored people, she has made two statements, which sort of snagged me. She writes:
The natives are increasing because they no longer kill one another... even if they only kill an enemy whom the witch-doctor has smelted out. The white people came along and make a fuss; and quite often a perfectly well meaning person, highly respected and with occult power, is hung. So if one can’t drink, or fight, or occupy oneself with religion, what is there in life to do but propagate sons to plough the lands, and daughters to fill the Kraals?
Most of the Bloemfontein natives are Basutos, and therefore rather more civilized than the warrior-bred native. They have their social sets social standards. They live in brick houses with streets at their doors. They save from wages that are lower than anywhere else in the Union. They are devout churchgoers. They fervently respect their black ministers and teachers. They marry as Christians, and not necessarily with lobola (money paid to a father to buy his daughter for a wife.) They have English or Dutch Christian names, and call one another Mr. or Mrs. They go, with avidity, from youth, through maturity and into senility, to Sunday school. It is their club, anything connected with the church. They sing hymns, giving them an odd Kaffir quality in the singing wildness penetrates the meek notes of the music. They go to school. They learn the piano. They play tennis. They love letter writing.
The major jolt I receive from this book is a sort of dismay. This book was written and published in nineteen twenty-six, long before our present European conflict began to stir. It is dominantly concerned with the colored peoples of South Africa; with the color question. As one reads it today and asks oneself: But what of democ- racy? Of Liberty? Of Equality? Of Justice? What are we fighting for? A new order? What new order? Just as I saw the illusion of personal importance, riding down to Artie’s camp in a similar way this book shows me the great illusion of the white man.
This present war isn’t a world war; it is only a European war. The ideal life, which we promise to establish in the world, after victory, what of that? An ideal life for whom? For us, only us, the English, the Americans, and perhaps the French, and a few other educated Europeans. What do we mean by education? Only what is taught in our schools: that’s all. All the time there are and there will remain, all the other millions of people on the globe, who are not as us, and who, even if they can take a veneer of our education, will never be as us, never become one with us. What is our Law and custom to the colored man! Nothing. Democracy. Freedom, Equality, brotherhood, justice, culture. These are meaningless to millions and millions. So what are we fighting for? For ourselves. I think of the blah blah, which rolls out of the radio, political, religious, and patriotic. Its all of it dope. It is the conceit of Europeans, the conceit of the white man.
Just as each one to ourselves quite unconsciously, but nevertheless actually, considers oneself the center of the universe; so do we collectively consider ourselves radically, and our particular race to be the dominant race. I am an Englishman. I am American. I am a Frenchman. I am a German. Enough said. How stupid! Meanwhile the politicians bring a war to pass, and the few make money from it whilst the multitude perish, and who cares? All the time the talkers talk. The pious pray. Men beget, and women labor. Oh God! It makes me sick!
It toughens my resolve to protect myself. A new world order? It is to laugh. A universal religion? It is to laugh even louder. There is no brotherhood of man. Black and white, rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, the drivers and the driven: ad-nausea. That’s all.
Ted has gone out to a Knight’s Meeting. I smile. Over lunch he told me he was going, and after lunch he went up to take a bath! Then he called me to find him his clean underwear. He was very fussy. Why? It strikes me there is an “initiation” at the Knights this afternoon, with nudity, and all that sort of symbolism stuff. Men playing. Damn fool men.
The educated Kaffir trembles at the thought of a country of his own, separation of black from white, segregation. A native educated is a native spoilt. What is his maturity to him then but a tragedy: a ripeness unused, souring, fermenting? What can he do with his training and his education? He can teach other natives to become the superfluity he has himself become. That is all. He may not try to rise. He may not, even if his intelligence and capacity are of the highest, aspire to mount beside a European whose intelligence and capacity are of the lowest. All the laws of nature would seem to stop and planets would crash wildly into one another and the universe would come to an end if ever a black man were lifted to a position of command over a white man.
That is the feeling in South Africa. It slumbers even in the hearts of the otherwise just and temperate men. However they may wish the happiness of the native, and demand rights for him, there is something which prevents men from making an equal of him, except spiritually, except theoretically, and till less a superior. ... Nor can they easily, here and now, bring themselves to touch his skin.
Exactly. What about our American Declaration of Rights? All men are born free and equal? Well, white men for white men wrote that. Are Negroes people? And don’t I come right up slam against this feeling in myself? Haven’t I always said, ‘Niggers haven’t souls?’ Don’t I
Mrs. Millin writes, All around the black man there are new, strange terrible forces. To these he submits himself because they are the forces of the white man, his master, teacher, and conqueror. He believes in the white mans God. He does the white mans work. He wears the white mans clothes. He learns the white mans language, his skills and his wisdom. Well, where is he? At Bulehoek he relies on this God, and he is slaughtered. To the mines he is lured to this work, and the white miners ride the bitterness against him. He attends mission and government schools and thinks, like a child, how he will please by his decency, his industry, and his progress, and hostile tongues declaim: ‘A native educated is a native spoilt.’ There is an arresting term: ‘the white man’s God.’ A white God of course. Who said: God is made in the image of man? And what about Jesus? Who in Christendom ever thinks of Jesus as a Jew? As he was. How we dislike the Jews!
October 7, 1941
Now I have been reading a book, which has disturbed me emotionally. It is only a simple novel, entitled, Nor Perfumes Nor Wine, but it has brought to the front of my mind those memories I prefer to keep behind. It is an American story. It opens in nineteen hundred and seven. It is the story of the bringing up of five sons, first on a “place” seventeen minutes from New York City, then in Brooklyn, then in Connecticut. The Bronxville “place” is very remindful of our Tenafly home; even the family cow is named Daisy! The book even speaks of Bayonne, New Jersey!
The book itself is inconsequent, but the memories it evokes are devastating. I find myself weeping for my sons, and I can’t bear it.
October 8, 1941
Commenced to read Havelock Ellis’s autobiography, My Life. It was published last year, but has only just come in to me. Queer isn’t it? That, this book should come to me in my present mood. Ever since my journey to New Romney I have been dwelling again on my project of writing the story of my life. Because, though I was excoriated than with the flash of the insight of the total unimportance of the individual, and of the human race en masse, nevertheless, paradoxically, I was impressed with the indelibility of myself. Myself. No matter how trivial, how trashy, how incomplete and frustrated, nevertheless, it is only to myself and through myself that there is any meaning in the universe, or, indeed in any universe at all. When I am not, nothing will be. So I want to express myself, whilst I can; to leave something tangible of myself for my tangible descendants, those bits of me which may continue to persist when I am only dust. So I want to state myself; not the self I appear, or the self I think I am; but what I am: myself.
Of course, we live in the wrong place. Ted dumped us here in Romford, which is a very cheap place, nowadays nothing but an extension of the East End. I hate it. Hate it. Perhaps if we lived in the country, or in a good middle class suburb, I might like English life better. Perhaps. Romford life, and Romford people I detest. Yet Ted is perfectly happy here: perfectly happy. He is at home. Well, I’m not.
Tonight I am too tired to do anything; even too tired to read. Luckily there is a good B.B.C. Symphony concert at eight o’clock; Handel’s Water music, some Berlioz, and Eva Turner singing, Softly Sighs from Der Frerscluntz, and One Fine Day, from Madame Butterfly. So I shall make myself happy with that. Unless Ted comes in early of course! Last night I wanted to listen to some quiet bedtime music, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin and he would talk. He sucked his pipe all the time, and spoke in his monotone between nearly shut teeth. He discoursed on Art, and got around to the statue of the Sacred Heart in the British Church. He went on and on, talking against the music. It was completely maddening. I suppose he thought he was being amiable. Anyhow, I’ll hope for good listening tonight.
October 9, 1941
The war news from Russia grows worse and worse. The Germans are still pressing in and a more violent battle than ever is now in progress, in the central sector, that is the Moscow section. The figures given out are so colossal they are almost beyond comprehension. Each side claims to have annihilated the enemy by millions. What folly! Oh God, what folly!
October 10, 1941
I am in an awful mood of misery, on the verge of tears. Physically affected too with a lump in my breast, a twist in my bowels. Due to Ted of course! Because of myself, the fool creature that I am who cannot adapt to the peculiarities of this man. The weather, too, is against me. Rain, dullness, stickiness, the whole atmosphere is depressing.
Anyway I am in a bad way, suffering with suppressed passion. All last evening I read the Havelock Ellis book. It does interest me, though I do think Ellis was a bit potty. After I went to bed, I lay awake a long while, thinking about him and Olive Schreiner, and their odd love affair. Olive Schreiner has interested me ever since I was a young girl. I always read anything whatever I can find about her. Well, then I was dreaming of “love” and woke early long before the alarm went off, full of desire. With me that is the natural time for desire, at the end of the night. But of course I made no sign. You would have thought the man beside me would have sensed my passion. But no, he was completely obtuse.
The alarm sounded and he got up. When he returned from the bathroom he did a series of exercises. I could see all this in the mirror. He didn’t even know I was awake. Then off he went, and out to church. To church: to his absurd religion: to communion with a wafer: to his dream: to a fantasy. I thought, as I have thought a thousand times, oh, for a man, a real man! I longed for a real life. I longed for flesh and blood, my children, and their children, a mate, a real mate. Not this dreamer; not this damned fool dreamer who runs away from all the facts. I was in mental and physical agony.
That day I went to see Artie, yes, I was happy traveling alone. I want to wander, to get away from the shackles of marriage. I want to be free. Oh, God, to be free! Ted is free. More than anybody I know he does exactly as he likes. He has arranged his life to suit himself, entirely. What a life! An escapist life. He should have been a priest, not a husband.
Twice this week I have met Father Bishop on the street and each time with a sense of shock. He looks such an oddity. He doesn’t look like a man. He looks like a neuter, not a man. Each time I have been offended by his lack of manners. He doesn’t raise his hat. Is it against code for a priest to raise his hat to a lady? Maybe. I don’t know. Anyhow, such a discourtesy stamps him as no gentleman.
Well, I must go and dress, and go out and buy some fish for lunch. Christians eat fish on Fridays because, being bloodless, fish don’t copulate! Oh, I don’t know whether I am laughing or crying. If only the sun would shine I should feel better. What a climate!
October 11, 1941
Quiet, normal. No desire. No assuagement either: it has just faded away. Ted at home all day. It is a queer life we lead: he in one room, me in another. For hours he has been playing the piano. His playing is excruciating but that too I think, is typical of the man. Everything he plays sounds like everything else, no composer is recognizable. There is nothing but a tedious succession of notes. It is as though one “read” a poet by single letters. Suppose I took a book of verse, anybody’s, Shelley’s, Wordsworth’s, Browning, Longfellow’s, Mrs. Meynell’s, and opened it at random, and began at the top line to read it out, or, rather, spell it out letter by letter; I should be uttering the marks the poet put on the paper, but I shouldn’t be reading the poetry. That utterance would give neither meaning nor form nor melody; it would just be a noise I made.
I am continuing with the Havelock Ellis book. I should say, on his own showing, that Ellis was one of the very nastiest men of our period. It is eight-thirty p.m. and an air raid warning! Immediately my stomach turns over, I feel sick.
Ted is out at the Home Guards. Last night I thought we were in for a bad raid. At every news period throughout the day we had been told how over two hundred of our bombers had raided Western Germany on Friday night. (We lost ten.) So, when the siren went, naturally we thought, retaliation! However, after an hour, with plenty of gunfire, the all clear was given, and the rest of the night was quieting peaceful. It made me feel very ill though. This morning we were told two enemy bombers were brought down over the East Coast, one in collision with one of our fighters, which was also destroyed.
The news from Russia is even more frightful. The Germans are recklessly and determinedly verging on Moscow; the Russians are continually forced back but they fight magnificently. At one spot yesterday, near Vyasma, they left over nine thousand German dead on the field. The losses on both sides are colossal. One wonders how there can be either man or gun left to fight with. My God! War! I should think Hitler would stand for Beelzebub for the rest of time.
This morning the sun is shining. I’m glad of that. I get terribly depressed in the dull weather. Mother should have been over us today, but she has Nellie Bradley staying with her for a fortnight, so cannot come now. I am going to make apple pie for lunch, so Au-revoir.
October 13, 1941
It would have been Arthur Thompson’s birthday. Had he lived, I think he would have been fifty-five today. I have finished Havelock Ellis’s book. On one of his first pages he says that to write a good autobiography is a very good thing to do. Well, he hasn’t written a good one. There are over five hundred pages to his book and I have read every one of them. My judgment is, that the book is not literature, that he was no genius, and that all in all he is a very disagreeable man. Much of the book is merely garrulous gossip, the mind meanderings of senile prig. His whole life shows him to be a prig and a cad. The greater part of the book is not his life at all, but the life of Edith, his wife, and the way it strikes me is, that it was written in pure spitefulness, and with intent to disparage her. In effect, he says that she was a drunkard, and had a deranged mind. To that I say: No wonder! With him for a husband my wonder is that she didn’t murder him.
I suppose what happened was, that because he wouldn’t live with her, she couldn’t very well ask other men to live in her house, so she made special friends of women, and had them around. She accused him of callousness. I should think so! At the end of her life, she was slowly dying of diabetes; he actually mediated putting her away in a lunatic asylum! He did induce her to go to a convalescent home for nervous breakdown cases. When she found this out, his plan to put her away, she went to a lawyer and had a proper deed of separation drawn up, which was sent to him in due course. What does he do about that? He goes and consults Olive Schreiner! Olive, his original love! Olive advises him to sign the separation. Edith has made up her mind to it. You might as well do it. She counseled. Fine! These beautiful free-lovers. Then Edith dies, alone. Olive went to the funeral, in spite of the weather being bad. What a concession! No doubt Edith Ellis was a very trying person, but I should say she had twenty-five years of hell being Mrs. Havelock Ellis.
Havelock Ellis was a man who blew his own trumpet. I think I have read most of his books, but from them all, nothing remains. He was not a creative artist. Much of his work was only good compilation, garnering from other men’s harvests. As for his celebrated work on sex he was not a pioneer, as he claims. Again, he was only pushing forward, in English, the works of scientific Europeans. Even as a doctor he was a very mediocre physician. He says himself he couldn’t pass exams. Why? Because he wasn’t a scholar. He likes to brag about his scholarship, yet he had none. His schooling was completely mediocre; he was never, in the time sense, an educated man.
He thought himself a genius, and kept the bellows of faint praise for small accomplishments blowing on the little spark he did have. He was a poseur, par excellence. He was a man who lived on women. He “accepted” their love; also their cash. His explanation is, that they wanted to give! He is disgustingly obscure concerning the natural functions of women. He deliberately records that he got a thrill-watching women passing water. He gives several instances of when he was a spectator and watching and hearing what he calls the copious stream. He even records this of his mother! He means public occasions when women had to relieve themselves. With his mother, it was at the zoo. With a servant girl, whom he was taking around to see London, the place was up in the Dome of St. Paul’s. Imagine! This was also an occasion when Mrs. Ellis had her husband and the servant girl shadowed by detectives. I should think so. What a detestable man!
October 14, 1941
I have begun writing my too-long delayed American letters. I have written Jimmie, Eddie, Ellen, Margaret, Harold, Kay and Ruth. I received a parcel yesterday from Jimmie, which set me off. They sent me some needles and thread for my Wilcox and Gibbs machine, which I have asked for, and also a pound of dried prunes. The package was posted in Bogota on July Twenty-Second It arrived yesterday.
October 17, 1941
I went to Lillian Young’s this morning, and had a dozen curlers put in. I made this appointment last Tuesday. Miss Young herself was away ill with the shingles, so her Miss Smith did the job. She did a good job, too. Maybe it seems silly to bother about one’s appearance nowadays. Yet, is it? There is no particular virtue that I can see in letting oneself go because there’s a war on. It’s rather the other way around, to my thinking. When the outside world of affairs, over which we have no control, not the slightest, is damnable, then it is more necessary than ever to keep our own little circle serene and sweet; and besides good-temper, this means good appearance. We don’t have to be dowdy because we can’t be happy. Also I think, make sure of today whilst you know you have it. A new dress, or a new wave, does definitely sweeten the present. I can’t stop the war. I can’t fight the war and tomorrow or tonight, the war may destroy me, so, let us take what ever sensible pleasure that is available to us, whilst it is available, either by offering itself or by us being able to accept it. When the city nabobs get on the air and preach saving, I only think, Alright my fine fellow: you wanted the war: you pay for it.
I am on the simmer and can do nothing. Composition is flowing in my mind like a swift torrent, but I didn’t write down a word. There is too much else to do and too many interruptions. This afternoon I went to Wykeham Hall, for a meeting of the Guild of Friends of Prisoners of War. It was fifty percent boring, and fifty percent mildly interesting.
I bought a pound of wool, for socks. Afterwards I went into Stone’s and spent ten pence buying cretonne, to make up some big utility bags for Cuthie. This evening Dorrie Stanforth came calling. She likes her new job at the hospital, but does not come in contact with Edna Renacre.
October 23, 1941
Mrs. Prior did not show up today. I’m just as pleased, as I want to be alone. I want to write, but don’t get down to it. I’ve sewing to do, parcels to make up for the boys, letters to write and of course, the everlasting meals to fix. I gave Mrs. Prior until ten o’clock this morning, but when she hadn’t come then it was too late for me to begin cleaning, so I went out for a while. It was a lovely morning, clear and fresh, the kind of weather that agrees with me. I went through Ive’s Gardens, down to the market, and along the London Road to Fletcher's, looking for stationary. Like many other things stationary is becoming scarce and dear. I bought some more books at Craddock's on Saturday, for thirteen pence; and today, from Fletcher’s, Wilson and Whitworth, and Craddock's, I bought a further supply, totaling one pound, one shilling and four pence. This is a lot of money for writing materials, but like everything else nowadays, you must buy what you want when you see it because next week it wont be there. Then of course you take the risk of losing everything you’ve got in an air raid. Anyhow, I am buying paper.
It is now time to fix the fire, take out the ashes, dust, etc. I have just been writing to Artie, so that he gets his weekend letter OK. Elizabeth Coppen came in at teatime bringing me Lawrence’s, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, to read, but I don’t want to read it I never seem to be able to get interested in any book that is “wished” on me.
October 24, 1941
I have been buying more stationary. All the new paper is very poor quality, so I went to Fletcher's again this afternoon, and bought five more of his pre-war writing tablets. He now has only four more of these books left, but I could not afford them today. I’ll see how fat my purse is after the weekend, and if I can possibly buy the last four before anybody else does. I’ve surely been on a spending spree lately!
October 25, 1941
A queer day lived in a sort of vacuum. This was because Ted was at home all day I suppose. It is a queer life we live, more like tow strangers together, than friends or lovers most certainly not my idea of married companionship. Ted lights the fire in the parlor, and sits in there. I stay here in the dining room. Of course I don’t have to. I could go and sit in the parlor too. I don’t want to, because I am aware, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, that he doesn’t want me there. He is living his own life and I am only a nuisance to him; most emphatically a nuisance.
I am craving my children. Why do I have to sit here in this little back room, so solitary, whilst my children and their children still move around in the world? I ought to be in America, where my children are. This life I live is totally unnatural, craziness. Not my craziness. Edward Thompson’s. Oh my God!
October 26, 1941
Ted has gone up to bed. He says he has a chill. He was out on practice maneuvers all morning, and really is deadbeat. He went straight from mass, not returning for breakfast; but carrying some sandwiches I made last night. The “do” was at Upminister. He returned completely fagged out. I am not in the least sorry for him. Since he wants to play soldier, all right, he must suffer the consequences. Such old men as he is are simply ridiculous in the Home Guard. Many of them, it is true, have war experience behind them; but Ted hasn’t, so automatic body memory makes no responses for him. I am quite sure that such a man as he would not be of the slightest help if we have to suffer a real invasion. Any able-bodied youth could dispose of Ted in two seconds. However, he feels good as a Home Guard, so I suppose that’s the main object, and for all the old timers. More government bamboozlement of course fools the country! Spend the money!
This evening before he went upstairs Ted was talking about “belief” the same old antagonism and supercilious- ness towards “Protestantism” expressed, the occasion being a reading of, Peveril of the Peak. He marauded on and on, irritating me to such a pitch I could have screamed. Oh, I say damn religion, especially Ted’s. Oh I do get so sick of his talk, his moralizing, his platitudes, his sarcasm and his bigotry. He affects to despise science. How can he? He knows nothing about it. He wants tradition, the old fairy tales He says people don’t believe today. Of course they don’t, they don’t have to believe, they know.
I am exasperated a new by Ted’s pettiness. On Sunday something went wrong with the window shade in our room; the spring unsprung, I presume. Ever since the shade has been hanging down full length. I tried to take it down yesterday, but couldn’t reach it. Hanging down it blocks out all the sun. A few minutes ago I asked Ted if he would fix that blind before he went out this morning. He reared at once in reprimand, Why did I leave everything to the last minute?
I said, I thought he was enjoying the paper. Well, he hadn’t had time to do it now, or he’d be late at the office. Damn fool excuse. Often he doesn’t leave here until after nine. I asked, well would he please remove it, so that the sun could come in?
He clucked and tore upstairs and was down again in a moment. He glared at me, and said, If you mean ‘remove’ why don’t you say ‘remove and not ‘fix’ it? Why don’t you say what you mean?
Then off he went, very ruffled. Now, I know that is only his way, his mannerism, and his pedantry. It is damned annoying, quite uncalled for, and very rude. His virtue is unaffected. He is a good man, but he is extremely disagreeable.
Now I have been upstairs to fetch my clothes. He had simply unhooked the shade and cast it down over the chair, all-askew, and the chair knob poking through. I have rolled it up and laid it across his bureaus. Left as he left it would be cracked before noon. Silly pettish fellow!
On Sunday too he was most annoying. In the afternoon I was making up Cuthie’s Red Cross parcel. This is quite a job. Every article has to be weighed, and duplicate lists and forms made out, before packing. Well, he came and watched me. He queried everything I was putting in, kept making suggestions to do differently. I was going to put in three pounds of chocolate. He would only allow me to send one pound. Yet the boy asks for chocolate! Then I had some chewing gum, and he queried that. For the last parcel he brought in a dozen little packets, but of those he would only allow me to send four. Save the rest; save the rest. For what?
Last Sunday’s lot were some Rita had brought in for Cuth. There were thirteen of them. He wanted some of those abstracted. I refused. I said, These are not yours; these are Rita’s gift and they have nothing to do with you. Then he wanted to know have I still got the remnants of his purchase of three months ago. Yes, I had. Where were they? They were in the cupboard. All right. So he supervised the whole packing of the parcel. He queried the soap, the razor blades, the shoe blocking. He was an infernal nuisance. Finally I said to him, Look here, either you’ll do the parcel, or I’ll do the parcel.
Oh, you do it. He said, but he would not remove himself from the room. This mania for details, this perpetual interference, this fixed idea that he must boss everybody, and everybody but he, is incompetent. His perpetual assertion of petty criticisms. Oh, it is a vice. He is so rude. That is what I notice most about him nowadays, his increasing rudeness.