World War ll London Blitz: 11-2-41 to 11-30-41 When they gave us the news this morning, we are told the R.A.F. was out over Germany again last night, but now mention was made of our losses. Have we lost another thirty-seven bombers or more?

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November 2, 1941

Mother arrive on the dot, and stayed until the eight thirty p.m. train. This because there is moonlight. She brought me a letter she received form Aileen, via air mail, date of October 13. Aileen gives several items of news about my family, but this is the most interesting one, she writes that Eddie greatly resembles Dad, and even has many of Dad’s mannerisms, which cannot possibly be imitation of his grandfather, she says. Of course it can’t. Another proof of the indestructible tie of blood all right.

November 3, 1941

An hour ago, at the conclusion of the news, a record was put on of a Scotchman, Marquean, singing a Scotch ballad. His accent was very marked. Ted, who had not been in the room when the announcement was made, said, Is that somebody imitating Jon McCormackI replied,That isn’t McCormack. That is a Scotchman singing” Immediately Ted pounced.

You didn’t answer my question. I didn’t ask you what was the nationality of the singer! I asked you was that somebody imitating McCormack. The answer is, No.

Inwardly I groaned. Conversation with Ted is impossible. He kills all spontaneity in me and, in addition I get very tired of his rudeness. He gets worse and worse. Well, I turned the knob to get, The Flying Dutchman overture, but this made Ted so angry he rushed out of the room.

I said, Here is your tea. (he had his second cup waiting) Don’t want it, he said. He had embroidered his previous remark by saying, When you ask me do I want a cup of tea, I answer you, Yes, I do want a cup of tea.’ So he has gone off in a huff to spend his evening in the parlor, he would spend it there anyway, but right now he is particularly displeased because I want to listen to the radio. Yes, it’s all right for him to do what he likes, but I might like what he doesn’t like! You see I am on his nerves. Marriage lasts too long, Oh, much too long.

November 5,1941 — Guy Fawkes Day

I am in a state of intense excitement, all a simmer with ideas. If I had undisturbed leisure I could write fifty pages without pause. I have not got the leisure. I have a dinner to cook, and Ted will be in shortly to eat it after twelve o’clock. I have started the soup, prepared the vegetables, potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, and cabbage. I started the stewing steak, and prepared the dumpling mixture with which to cover it presently. I have put out a plate of liver to thaw, in readiness for this evening’s meal, and set some tapioca to swell. So I am through with the kitchen for a half an hour. What can I do with a half an hour except grumble!

Last night I had a spasm of explosive anger against Ted. It is not often that anger stirs in me like that. Of course he knew nothing about it, but for a minute I could have slain him. He had been aggravating all day anyhow. I had to ask him for money at noon, to pay the laundry. I got a harangue then, all about increased taxes, and how we must keep down expenses. He talked at me as though I was a naughty child. I simply thought him silly. He has never treated me sensibly about money, and I’m now sure he never will. I don’t intend to live like a penurious charwoman, simply because he is mean. He should give me a sufficient allowance, all at once and without request being necessary and then say no more about it. Instead of which I have to ask twice a week for cash, and then keep account of every halfpenny. It’s outrageous.

As for increased taxes, I don’t give a damn. The men wanted the war, let the men pay for it. I don’t intend to scrape. My death may wait in any hour of the immediate future, so I will not crimp the present. I am alone now and I will wring all I can out of now. It wasn’t his nastiness about money that was troubling me it was a different meanness. Inefficiency. In the middle of the evening I
carried up the hot water bottle to put in the bed. As it was a very cold night, and he was out on Home Guard, instead of putting it in the middle of the bed, I pushed it over to his place, but lo! I came upon an obstruction. He had placed the electric blanket there, doubled over. This blanket will cover the whole bed, but he had doubled it, to lie only on his side of the bed. I actually exclaimed aloud, Well I’m damned! Then I went to pull up the blind, which he had pulled down, presumably when he fixed the electric blanket, and found it wouldn’t rise, again the spring was broken. This seemed to be the last straw. I thought, there is nothing this fellow can do right, and I am sick to death of him! When he came down I said nothing but I could have shaken him until I had shaken his guts out. Then he went up to bed early, abut ten-thirty. Why? So he could put the electric blanket away before I got there, so I should know nothing about it! This silly secretiveness again! What a damn fool he is! That didn’t make me angry. I was over my anger, it simply amused me, and could he have seen my face he would have seen a smile on it, a grin at his absurdity.

He is growing a beard. This in itself doesn’t antagonize me, but in some way it does alter my feeling for him, my good feeling. For it alters the whole character of his face. It makes him look strange. It takes away his handsomeness, but accentuates his character; all that is mean and spiteful in him now shows plainly in his face; instead of noticing his eyes, which are beautiful, attention is drawn to his jaw, and his mouth shows out more ugly and cruel than ever. The effect of the beard is to make him look like a scruffy and vicious tramp. So even if he were kind I should feel him a stranger.

I want to write about something nice that happened yesterday. On Monday, Elizabeth Coppen brought me a book from the Dagenham Library, because she said, she thought it would interest me. It does, very much. It is, Angels Wings, by Edward Carpenter. It is a series of essays on art and it relation to life. It was first published in November 1898: forty-three years ago. I have read every word of it with pleasure, keen pleasure. This is one of my books. Edward Carpenter is one of my authors. I missed this particular book when I was a girl, but even if I had found it then it couldn’t have meant to me what it means today much of it would have thrilled me, but its real innerness I couldn’t have understood. It brings to mind Dad. I remember when he gave me a paper-covered copy of Carpenter’s poems, probably when I was about seventeen. Dad! Just as Aileen writes to mother that my Eddie is a duplicate of Dad, and this resemblance cannot possibly be imitation of his grandfather; so does this book make me realize I am what I am regardless of any disappointing experience can do to me. In spite of Ted and all the distortion of life, which he makes me endure, interiorly I am still the person I was before I even knew him. I try to conform to Ted, and to his ideas, and to a certain extent I do, but inside, never! I am still the same sort of person I always was. I am still Ruby Side, never, other than legally, Ruby Thompson.

This book falling into my hands right now, when I am all a quiver to get at my writing, my art, is a sort of providence, it sustains my enthusiasm, fans at my determination to be myself, to do my own work. I am happy when at my writing. Always happy writing, as I am, by constitution, always happy alone.

Last night I was dreaming I was standing on the Battery Station of the old El. I was alone and I was happy. It was always like that: to travel alone, to be alone in a crowd, or on a ship, or a mountain, in a train, in a store, in a church. The other day when I went down to New Romney, how happy I was, just traveling and alone! So with my writing: that is what is natural to me to be alone in a bright room, and to write and write. That is bliss. Well, now enough for this morning. It is time to got wet the dumplings and drop them into the pot. Au-revoir.

November 9, 1941

It is still very cold. When they gave us the news this morning, we are told the R.A.F. was out over Germany again last night, but now mention was made of our losses. Have we lost another thirty-seven bombers or more?

It is eleven thirty a.m. now, and Ted has just gone out to church. This is, Remembrance Sunday. There is to be no Armistice Day celebrations this year, so today has been set for special Armistice remembrances. There are big parades everywhere, and special services in the churches. A little while ago a big parade passed in this street, selections from all the services, all the volunteer groups of young people, Boy Scouts, etc., the police, the A.R.P. and the Home Guard. Ted watched from the parlor window! I said, Why aren’t you there?

Can’t, he said, they are finishing with a religious services. This is a church parade, Protestant. Of course I can’t take part in any Protestant service. There are no exceptions.

What bigotry! These men and old men and youths, and boys, many of them children in knickerbockers, are not parading as Protestants, but as Englishmen, and as patriotic Englishmen who intend to win the war. They are showing a sign of remembrance of all the war dead, whether Protestant or Catholic, Jew, or Gentile, religious or irreligious. Ted can’t join in because he’s a Catholic, and at the finish prayers will be offered by the Reverend Blaxland, the parish parson; the parish of Romford, as belonging to the Church of England. This is England isn’t it? Ted thinks he’s an Englishman but he isn’t. He is only a fanatical sectarian; a damned narrow minded Roman Catholic! Oh, I can’t bear him!

November 10, 1941

I am in an indescribable frame of mind, quiet, but not contented. This is how my Sunday continued. Ted did not return until a quarter to two; but he had not been at prayers, but at a “Knights” meeting. He finished lunch, when he ensconced himself in the parlor, and except for tea, and the nine o’clock news, remained there for the rest of the day. I stayed here in the dining room and read, A life of William Cowper, by Gilbert Thomas. It was a bitterly cold day and a strong gale blowing. When I went upstairs in mid evening to place the hot water bottle in the bed I found that Ted had been ahead of me, and placed the electric blanket in the bed, spread over my place as well as his own. I knew what that meant; that declared his intentions of returning very obviously. This flicked at my sensibilities so sharply that I found I was beginning to cry, and I had to stay up there in the dark and hang on to the foot of the bed, liked a woman in labor, until I could get control of myself. I was overcome by the animal selfishness of man.

Sure enough, after we retired he “loved” me. I could not reciprocate. Today I am quiet. My nerves are assuaged in spite of my soul, because I too am an animal. I want more than animalism. I want daylong human affection, and for the nights act of love I need wooing. Last winter when we had to sleep down here during the blitzes Ted did take me with kisses; but not now upstairs; he does not trouble to make love, he simply takes it. I suppose he is satisfied but I am not.

Year by year Ted grows more and more like Herbert receding, I can only suppose, into the original Thompson, who must have been a brute; certainly not a gentleman. I thought of Dorothy last night. She once told me that across the dinner table Herbert said to her,
Well, I shall be able to perform my marital duties tonight? To which she answered, All right, but for God’s sake don’t announce your intentions beforehand.

Ted has come to pass where he regards the world as being mainly a masculine world. He is quite unconscious of his assumption, but quite positive. Exactly like Herbert he expects everything in daily life to accommodate itself to his ideas and his comfort. He assumes that a wife exists simply to minister to her husband and that she should be thankful for the chance, and grateful for small offerings and concessions, when these are not inconvenient to her husband. A wife does not live for herself, but for the man, to run his house and to oblige her body. I loathe such a marriage. English marriage. Herbert is and always was, ruthless in pursuing his own way and his own pleasure, and alas, Ted is becoming nearly as bad. Ted’s petty interferences get me down. As soon as he comes where I am he finds fault. I don’t run the fire right, not the gas stove the windows are not open enough, or the door banks. My chair is in the wrong place. I run the water off at the wrong time. I eat the wrong foods and I always give the wrong answers. All this makes life weariness. When he thinks he is being amiable and talks his platitudinous morals, I am utterly bored. Poor old Ted! We have lived together too long, and here in this ghastly Romford we have lived together too closely. I get on his nerves. He gets on mine. There it is, the end of a fine romance.

There are three offences I cannot forgive Ted: his break up of the family and return to England, his love affair with the Mac Turk woman and his religion.

Above all I cannot forgive his religion because this has jaundiced the whole of our life. Ever since he suffered his conversion he has become more and more mentally unbalanced. Year by year he recedes more and more from the standard of the normal rational man. He’s crazy. I am not crazy. If I were I could be happy with him, in his insane happiness, instead of being miserable with him. He? I suppose what he can’t forgive me are the converse three offences against him; my homesickness for America and my sons; my resentment of his unfaithfulness and my lack of belief in his belief. We ought to part, but we never shall. So I’ve got to stay sane. Keep serene, Ruby Alice. Keep serene.

I just want to be happy. Astonishing isn’t it? I could be! I can’t bother about Hitler and about politics because there is nothing I can do about them. If I were a young man though, I would. I am not a young man. I am an old woman. I can’t bother about religion, its all so silly. I can’t bother about arguments. I am sick of arguments. I am sick of seriousness and ponderousness. I want to be gay, to be easy, to be happy, to be causal and to be under- stood when I glance or speak! Ted’s exactitude, literalness, and exactness, wears on my spirit. No, we are not the same kind of people.

I have heard Mother make a funny disparaging remark about someone. Oh, she said, He was only just floating his own glory. Floating his own glory. That is what it seems to me Ted is always doing, and most Englishmen. Me? No I don’t think I do. I never feel important. I never feel I know everything. I don’t want people to think as I think. I like variety in opinion, not uniformity. I don’t think I am right about everything, because I don’t think rightness about everything matters. I know what I know, and that’s enough for me. I can’t be bothered to be always justifying myself. Proving oneself right, as Ted everlasting does, seems such an unbearable strain.

I’m more like Whitman. Do I contradict myself? Very well I contradict myself. I am big. I contain multitudes. To be confined to one creed. Yes, you see, the very word is there; “confined.” Well, I can’t be confined. I must be free.

It is now ten p.m. and we have just heard a broadcast of the speech the Prime Minister made at the Lord Mayor’s luncheon today. The most significant statement in it is a direct warning to Japan. He said the United States were doing their utmost to find a way of preserving peace in the Pacific. We do not know, Churchill said, whether their efforts will be successful, but if they fail, I take the occasion to say, and it is my duty to say, that should the United States become involved in war with Japan the British declaration will follow within the hour.

Soon the whole world will be at war! All the big men are making speeches. Stalin, Hitler, Churchill, and Roosevelt tomorrow.

November 11, 1941

Armistice Day, but not celebrated this year. I went to the food office this afternoon to collect our “pink” cards for tinned goods and afterwards called on Mrs. James and her daughter, Mrs. Dumaresq. Of course we spoke of the war. This topic supersedes all others. We agreed together, with comparison with the women the continent; our sufferings are very slight indeed. You know, said Mrs. James, We ought not ever to grumble. We are not short of anything. We are uncomfortable, yes: and the rationing is a nuisance, but we can’t say we are hungry. We’ve got enough to eat, and coal to burn; yet we do grumble. We ought never to grumble again. God is good to us. When I think of the poor homeless women of France!

This did me good. I grouse for nothing. There is news tonight of the destruction of six more Axis ships in the Mediterranean. On Sunday night we were told of the destruction of ten. This is the work of our glorious British Navy. Oh, my God, the awful loss of life!
Roosevelt made a stirring speech at Arlington today. It was an Armistice Day speech. In it he out rightly declared that the people of America, as in 1917-1918, are Ready to fight and win at any price, to save their liberty. Before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier he declared that Americans owed a duty to the dead to fight eternally to preserve their liberties. Oh God defend us in these perilous times!

A card from Cuthie came through today. It was posted airmail, on September Tenth. It took two months to get here. He says he is well, but asks again for shoes. We send shoes in every parcel, but presumably the Germans swipe them for themselves. I also had a letter from Charlie’s Marjorie. This was posted in New York on September 30.

Tonight there is heavy soaking rain, so this means we shall have a quiet night. Some figures were given today about air raids. In September last year we endured nineteen thousand air raids, this September we suffered only fifteen hundred. We have had comparative peace ever since June when Hitler attacked Russia, but it is thought that directly the winter weather slows down his campaign in Russia, he will turn his attention westwards again, and again we shall bear the brunt of his Luftwaffe. Practically every day now the B.B.C. gives us warnings to be prepared for the resumption of heavy air raids. How long can this war go on?

November 13, 1941

I am full of mounting happiness again, and quite unreasonably. Possibly it’s merely physical, but it is so. Two or three times in these past few weeks I have had hot flushes. I had one yesterday afternoon, rather extreme, so perhaps I am “conditioned” by the acidity or otherwise of my blood. A doctor would know but I don’t. Anyway, I’m happy. There is nothing to be happy about. On the contrary, the news this morning gave this item: In Odessa the Romanians have rounded 2,500 Jews; men, women, and children, into a building, then shot them in relays, and finally set fire to the building. This was a reprisal because a time bomb went off somewhere and killed 220 German soldiers. This is frightful.

The Times this morning carries a report from Stockholm of the talk there of the impending invasion of Britain. It concludes:
This talk is backed by preparations on a gigantic scale which seems to indicate that Germany intends to make an attempt at airborne invasion of an unprecedented magnitude largely by gliders. Reports, which obviously cannot be verified, state that the production of gliders runs into six figures and that each is capable of carrying a load of five tons and can be towed across the sea by Junkers 52 and Junkers 57 airplanes. It has long been common knowledge also that the whole of the natural and artificial silk production has been commandeered, and it is believed that it is intended for the manufacture of parachuted, which are being turned out on very large numbers. Competent observers in Berlin emphasize that the production of gliders far exceeds those required for necessary replacements. Many German specialists doubt whether the invasion of Britain can succeed however it is staged, but all agree, with relish, that whatever the cost for the Germans it will be a terrible calamity for England and is bound to cause the greatest confusion.

These specialists state that it would be carried out on such a scale that it would make possible the severance of vital and even local communications all over the country in a single night by thousands of Germany’s most desperate troops equipped with high explosives. As soon as a bridgehead had been secured, they say, hordes of air-borne soldiers would follow, and even if the attempt ultimately failed, England as England would perish too.
Our world! The shape of things to come!

I am still singing! Mrs. Prior did not come today. We had rain all night, and early this morning, so I suppose that decided her to stay at home. I really don’t mind. The house is quiet without her, and I don’t have to give her a couple of meals, besides saving her wage. When the rain slackened I went off to the library. I felt fine. The temperature was just that degree which agrees with me, not too cold, but fresh and brisk. As I walked through Ive’s Gardens, with the fine rain blowing in my face, I felt keen pleasure the power and the glory; it was grand.

By the way I have a story to note, told me by Mr. Ives one day recently. He was talking about the rich old men of this town, Mr. England, old Herbert Thompson, and old Wachett, amongst others. Of old Wachett he said, Old humbug! Stinking mean old chap! Rolling in money, and can’t enjoy it. Hates to spend a farthing. He can’t take it with him can he? Do you know what he was? Do you know how he started? Dirt, that’s what he is, from the poorest of the poor. Do you know what his father was? A blooming tout!

And what’s that? I asked.

Why, you know, used to hang around outside the pub, hold your horses, carry your bags, pick up tips, nothing too low, scratching for tanners, that’s the kind of living he made! This old Wachett, how did he make his money? Off the council! He had a market garden field at Dagenham, which he sold to the council, that’s what started him. Now look at him, mean scrounging old devil!

Well, Wachett’s grandmother and Ted’s grandmother were sisters! The Misses Hunt. Costers, I suppose. Ted’s lineage undiluted East End. Today Wachett is an eccentric of the first water. We know Ted’s grandmother was definitely crazy in her old age; perhaps her sister was also. Are Ted and Herbert normal men? I don’t think so. As for Selma, she is definitely a nitwit.

I heard an amusing story about Selma’s latest indiscretions only this week, via Elizabeth Coppen. It happened Selma asked Maurice to go to young peoples social at the Wykeham Hall with her, very recently. Maurice declined. Then last week Selma asked Maurice if he would go to early communion at St. Edwards with her, this Sunday morning! Maurice, of course declined. Selma pressed him, You’ve been confirmed, haven’t you? Yes. Then I think you ought to come with me,

She said, Poor silly nutty Selma! I don’t think this indicates that Selma is getting religion. I think it indicates another of her silly attempts to get herself a man. Why bother about Selma?

From the library I brought home Alfred Noyes, Voltaire. I missed this book when it first came out. I have on hand, Madame de Stael, by Margaret Goldsmith. My interest is now turning mainly toward the eighteenth century, so I shall probably read all around it for a while. It is a period that heretofore I have rather overlooked. I know it well in American History, of course; but not so well in English and European. Mary Colum awoke my interest in Madame de Stael. Margaret Goldsmiths, Life seems rather wooden, but perhaps I am not in the right mood for it. However, I found two sayings in it, early this morning, which I rather like. These: First of all a letter written to Madame de Stael in the autumn of 1793, while she was with her parents, during the revolution. He wrote,

I quite agree with your opinion of our present situation. Let us do nothing for a few years but live. If a counter- revolution according to our views should occur, then let us take part in it. If instead, other developments occur, let us wait. Let us do nothing for a few years but live.

Fine advice to a woman in troubled times. How manage to take it?

Then this, which she wrote herself, after the condemnation of Marie Antoinette. Madame de Stael had been hostile to the Queen, but she was horrified because Marie Antoinette was to pay the ultimate penalty for her foolishness.

Why, she wrote, philosophers of our day will ask me, why are you more moved by the fate of the Queen than by that of many other unfortunate human beings who have perished in the course of the Revolution? Are you one of those who feel greater pity for a king than for other men? Yes I am one of those. Not, however, because I harbor any superstitious respect for royalty, but because I respect the sacred cult of human suffering. I know that unhappiness is a relative emotion, that is composed of habits, remembrances, contrast, that, in other words, it is dependent on the character of the individual involved, and is the result of various circumstances and when an extremely fortunate woman is overwhelmed by misfortune, who a famous princess is delivered up to outrages, I measure her fall, and I suppose with every step she falls.

The sacred cult of human suffering. A Protestant, in France, wrote this. In a flash it shows the cross. I like her statement of what unhappiness is. Happiness is undefined and indefinable, but this definition of unhappiness seems to me clear and true.

November 14, 1941

The U.S. Senate has passed the amendments to the Neutrality Bill. The Ark Royal has been sunk. She was hit yesterday, to the East of Gibraltar. General Huntziger has been killed in an airplane crash.

I am still happy. Even in my sleep, happiness persisted. Last night I was dreaming of the days of my girlhood. I was walking in the rain, around Cromwell Road and the Kensington’s. I couldn’t get a bus or a taxi, and I didn’t care. I was happy, deeply happy, just walking and walking.

Once, when I was a girl, I had to meet Auntie Lizzie at Hyde Park Corner. It was a teeming wet day, and I stood alone, waiting, at the Park Gates, and watched the rain in sheets come keening up Grosvenor Place. It was a sight that thrilled me and I have never forgotten. It was something like that in my dream last night, grey rain, gleaming grey asphalt. A silver beauty about everything, giving me deep joy. Why? Blood pressure? Anyhow I’m still happy.

I went out this morning and renewed my prescription at Boots. Then I went out this afternoon and bought wool. I’m wearying of knitting khaki and air-force blue, so I thought I would get some other colors, and knit some socks for Ted, for a change. Also, I want to do some fine knitting. I tried at several shops for two-ply, but without success. Wool is very scarce. Finally I found some Paton’s two-ply in the Dorothy Perkins Shop, so bought a half-pound for which I had to give up four coupons. This is a dark blue. Then at Stones I bought some three ply dark blue, six ounces for two pairs of socks, and some grey, ply unspecified, but I should say a thin four ply, of this I bought eight ounces, for two pairs of socks. I also bought four ounces of grey silk for one posh pair. Well, now I have a variety on hand to do. I like it that way. Besides, in these days, you must buy when you see what you want, because tomorrow or next week, it won’t be there.

I also bought some oak logs for the fireplace today. The gypsy woman who was peddling them cadged my large blue enamel teapot, which was in the shed. We had quite a chat together, and I was much amused when she said, I can see you must have been a bonny figure of a woman once upon a time. Yes, once upon a time!

November 15, 1941

Only eighteen men from the Ark Royal are unaccounted for, and there is a chance they may have been picked up somewhere. Her complement was sixteen hundred men, so this is good news. All sixteen hundred might have been lost. My private happiness is still holding. I’m in a state of equilibrium rare but delightful. In the middle of the night Ted touched me, and loved me, and I think we both experienced an old bliss. I am happy, happy.

November 18, 1941

In a book by Adrien Mareau, on the Art of Biography found this quoted from Herbert Spencer’s autobiography: No one will deny that I am much given to criticism. Along with the exposition of my own views there has always gone a pointing out of defects in the views of others. If this is a trait in my writing, still more is it a trait in my conversation. The tendency to faultfinding is dominant. The indication of errors in thought and speech, made by those around me, has all through life been an incurable habit, a habit for which I have often reproached myself, but to no purpose. Whence the habit? There is the same origin as before. While one half of a teachers time is spent in exposition, the other half is spent in criticism, in detecting mistakes by those who are saying lessons, or in correcting exercises, or in checking calculations; and the implied powers, moral and intellectual, are used with a sense of duty performed. And here let me add that in me, too, a sense of duty prompts criticism; for when, occasionally, I succeed in restraining myself from making a comment on something wrongly said or executed, I have a feeling of discomfort, as though I had left undone something which should have been done: the inherited tendency is on its way to become an instinct acting automatically.

Word for word, Ted could make the same confession, except that I suspect that Ted has never reproached himself for such an “incurable habit.” Notice, even in this supposedly would be humble confession; Spencer still thinks he was the superior being, able to correct his mental inferiors! This is exactly the case with Ted. That is what is so infuriating about the idiosyncrasy. I hate it when Ted corrects me; because who the hell is he; anyway, that he should assume superior that he is entitled to do so?

November 19, 1941

It is a murky day and a murky feeling. I went to Stratford this afternoon, looking for “Double Century” white knitting needles. There are none to be found in Romford; nor in Stratford, either, as I’ve found out today. I started early, catching a bus at two o’clock from the co-op. The nearer to London we approached the darker the day grew. I was afraid I was going to be caught in a dense fog. However, the darkness didn’t turn into fog, and here I am safe at home again, but with no white needles for my trip.

I’ve got an awful deep depression. The more I see people the more I dislike them, and I find people en-masse intolerable. They are “the people” I’m afraid. All the people I saw today are unmistakably the proletariat: poor working class people, and they distress me. Not for what they are in themselves, poor things, they are happy enough, but because England allows them to be. English class society is inescapable, and I hate it. The poor person here is a lower class person, and I resent it that he must suffer his lot. Why should he have a poorer education than the well to do, and why should he be deprived of dignity? Why should he be deprived of hope? He has no hope. The English poor accept “their lot in life” quite cheerfully, but I feel they ought not to do so. Oh God! I am an aching American!
Then when I looked at the streets today, I felt awful. From here to London they are mean, dirty, squalid, hideous.

Why do English people put up with such streets, such shops, and such ugly houses? “Antiquity” is a gracious word, suggesting beauty, the ancient Greeks really, I suppose. Old London is simply old, worn-out, and it should be destroyed. I wonder is there any other country on the globe, which not only permits such hideous dwellings and street layouts to exist, but also even keeps putting them up and patching up indefinitely. I feel that if all the streets from here to Limehouse were knocked flat, so much the better. How can people lead satisfying lives in such mean and unsatisfying places?

Whilst in Stratford I went into the Franciscan Church, to see if I could lay hold on a little beauty there. It was no good. The church was quiet and warm, but quite empty. It seemed doubly empty today, doubly discarded, something else that has outlived its usefulness, and remains to view simply an encumbrance on the ground. I tried to pray, but couldn’t, really. All the time I was holding a sense of haste. I was afraid of the fog coming on and was anxious to get away quickly, and find a bus. I had a finished feeling. No, it was no good.

November 24, 1941

Yesterday I was telling Doreen about our life in Tenafly. She is thinking about becoming engaged to a farmer. She loves country-life, but hesitates about the hard work entailed in being a farmer’s wife. So I was telling her about my experiences with our cows and horse and chickens, etc.

Consequently I have been dreaming of those days. I was young again, and all my children around me. Such dreams do me no good. I am happy whilst dreaming them: but when I awake to old age and a childless life I am overcome with an intolerable sadness, and this, too tires me. Happiness is not only health it is strength too.

November 29, 1941

I am most terribly fatigued. When Ted protested about me shaking down the fire, at dinner time, I felt I should burst into tears. I didn’t, but I couldn’t eat. Ted I think is tired too; he’s awfully querulous. I think we are suffering from an inadequate diet. We get enough food to fill the stomach, but it is food that doesn’t maintain the body. I remember an old phrase current with my mother when we were children, She’s no stamina. I’ve lost my stamina. This morning’s job of cooking and preparing a few oddments for tomorrow exhausted me. It shouldn’t. I feel I never want to cook again, not another thing. I am so tired of everything to do with the house. I don’t want a house; and most positively I don’t want to take care of a husband. Gosh! I am tired!

Last Sunday the drastic rationing of milk began. The allowance is two pints per week per adult. This is silly, really, and we all feel, dairymen and the public, that it need not be. It’s the Milk Marketing Board, and Lord Woolton gumming up the works again. Bureaucracy: which is becoming the permanent curse of England. The dairymen declare there is enough milk, but the government forbid distribution. Anyhow, I’m tired. No meat, no butter, no eggs, no fruit and now no milk, no wonder we go to pieces.

November 30, 1941

It is a really pleasant day. Mother arrived early, and Mary Jude came in at lunchtime. Ted is out at Home Guard maneuvers until three p.m. Mary brought me a diary, for a Christmas present. She also left me with a book of Vincent Van Gogh’s pictures, to be passed on to Doreen Peel, when next I see her. It is a lovely book of plates. I should like its duplicate for myself. Anyhow, I have been thinking about drawing lately, and meaning to find out whether I can sketch or not. I feel I want to. Often my brain is too tired to read nowadays. My eyes travel the page, but I do not take in the gist of the matter properly. If I could sketch a little, surely that would be a rest? So, when Mary said she was going to Foyles in the week, and would try there to get the “bombed” Leonora Eyles for me, I asked her to buy also a book very recently reviewed in The Times, Teach Yourself to Draw.

Mary left in the middle of the afternoon, but mother stayed until eight p.m., waiting for the moonlight. Mother said Gladys had sent her two pounds of fruit and three pounds of sugar, so I asked her would she take my supplies, and make the Christmas puddings and mince- meat for all of us. She said she would. She liked the idea. I had accumulated two and three quarter pounds of fruit, one and a half pounds of suet, a half-pound of almonds. I gave mother the money to buy apples and flour. I had no sugar, but I gave her spices, egg powder, and a tin of evaporated milk. I expect she will turn out some delicious puddings and mincemeat, and thoroughly enjoy herself in preparing it all.

For some weeks past I have been suffering with a sore mouth, and it gets sorer. I also hear that many people are having the same trouble. When Ted returned today he said he had been talking to Dr. Smallbone about war-time health, and Dr. Smallbone said, yes, it was true many people were suffering with sore mouths, it was a form of scurvy, and due to lack of vitamin C caused chiefly by the lack of fruit in the diet; but he said that if people would eat plenty of carrots, the trouble would clear up. That’s good to know. 

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