I was surprised early this morning by Mrs. Jude at the door. She returned from Ireland last night. She was returning from mass of course, and called in here for breakfast. She has also been here for lunch, and a half hour ago Mary came in. She did not know her mother was here. Mary has been stationed at Hornchurch. She looked very nice in her new uniform. They have just left together. Mrs. Prior also just left.
Last night Doreen Peel was here. She came to tea, and was enquiring for Mary. Mary has vanished, she said. After tea Ted went off to his Home Guards, and returned around ten-thirty p.m. Doreen was just leaving, so he escorted her to the bus. When he returned to the house he said, Why didn’t you send these youngsters off early? Hanging around here until all hours! He was very cross. Doreen didn’t want him to go to the bus with her. Moreover, she is twenty-four years old and can stay out all night if she chooses. Moreover, he hadn’t been at home, so her company had been no infliction on him. He just wanted to grouse. Presently he retired to bed. It was eleven-thirty p.m. and I remained down here, intending to hear mid-night strike from Big Ben. After a few minutes Ted came down again, in his pajamas, and gave me this tirade. Will you understand that I want to go to bed? When are you coming up?
Presently, I said. I want to see the New Year in. This is New Years Eve remember?
I said nothing, what was there to say to such pettishness? I settled the fire, put out the lights, and went upstairs. He was lying on the extreme edge of the bed, his face turned to the wall. Silly fool.
I lay awake a very long time, but he never spoke. Then he was up again at six-thirty this morning, and off to mass. When he came into breakfast, he said curtly, Good morning. That was all.
My saint! Does he suppose he loves God? It is church and prayers, church and prayers, but no real amiability. Ted is a very petty, fault finding, nagging, self-righteous, and self-assertive man. Living with him is a very sorry business. I want to be happy. I want to be easy, careless, genial, and friendly. I even want to be silly sometimes. With Ted everything is so damned serious, everything is a moral issue, a tension. It’s terribly wearing.
An American letter came for Artie. I re-directed it and laid it by his plate, with a library book. When Ted rose to go to the office I said, There is a letter I’ve re-directed, and will you please change the library book?
Do you mean you want the letter posted? Naturally.
Not naturally at all! I can’t read your thoughts. If you
want the letter posted why don’t you say so?
I ask you: How can one talk to such a prickly porcupine? He is a man who just lives to find fault. The only way to get on with Ted is to say nothing at all.
Today I’m thinking of Dorothy Parker’s poem:
But now I know the things I know, and do the things I do; and if you do not like me so, to hell, my love, with you!
January 2, 1942
Here I am sitting, not grousing, but smiling. Smiling at Ted for being one awful fool. Last night he was not on Guard, so as per usual, he lit the parlor fire and spent his evening there whilst I spent mine in the dining room. Well, I like it that way. His presence is a constraint. I prefer not to have his company. He came into this room at nine p.m. of course to hear the news, and I saw his mood had shifted, for he wanted to be chatty. However, I could not be responsive. I was heavy with sleep, the previous nights lack of sleep had caught up with me. When one is tired, the announcers voice is a steady lullaby. You do not fall completely asleep under it, but nearly. Soon after ten-thirty Ted began stirring around and getting ready to go to bed. At ten forty-five he opened the door, put his head in, and said, You can remain down for the eleven o’clock news if you like, only let me know if you are going to do so or not.
I grinned. Alright, he said, and cleared off. I doubled over in laughter. What a fool! Bestowing his permission for me to stay up, like bestowing a favor on a child. What a colossal fool!
Well, I waited for the eleven o’clock news, which was nothing fresh, and then went to bed and quickly fell into a deep sleep. I was so tired. Early in the morning suddenly I was aware of Ted’s hand against my hip. In an instant I was suffused with desire, all my antagonisms vanished, I was ready for complete surrender, without any argument or persuasion or any wooing, if he had turned me to him we could have loved perfectly, and we should have been at peace.
January 4, 1942
Rita Pullan came in for tea. I am reading Shirer’s, Berlin Diary. This covers the period from 1934 to the end of 1940, and is deeply interesting. Shirer is an American newspaper correspondent and radio broad- caster. This book naturally follows on form and links with Ambassador Dodd’s Diary. To me it is a striking result of reading these books a diminishment of Hitler and his gangsters. We read them after the events recorded have happened and it is literally seeing the past in light of the present, and the effect is belittling. One knows today that the evil protagonists were not, and are not, so great as they considered themselves, nor as they tried to impose themselves. We can realize them now as bogeys, not the giant geniuses they tried to make us believe in. So, a book like this is comforting: for it does diminish the villain.
Peace. Once again. For a while. It is my constant habit when I get into bed at night to kiss Ted on the mouth, and say good night. Last night I could not. I felt so sore from days of incessant criticizing and rudeness I thought to myself no, I would not kiss him. I will not offer a kiss he does not want. I will wait for him to kiss me. If he wants my regard he must seek it. Perhaps my neglect bothered him. Perhaps. Anyhow, a little later, just as I was falling asleep, he, though saying nothing, laid his hands on me in love. At first I was indifferent, but after awhile I was warmed, and then there was peace and love between us, binding us together in amity, once again married life, married love, how difficult it is! So today I am quiet, at peace with my world and myself, serene.
January 9, 1942
Mary Bernadette came in early this afternoon and stayed until after tea. We talked of her pseudo-mother, Mrs. Jude, and a little about her real parents. Mary told me that when she was about eighteen Mrs. Jude said to her one of the cruelest things she could say, You are illegitimate. Mary said that the next day she went direct to Somerset House and looked up her birth-certificate: And it was a lie, said Mary, for it stated that my Mother, Henrietta Cooper, was the wife of my father, Pierre St. Leger-Beaumont.
This is another of Mrs. Jude’s lies. Mrs. Jude, the woman who goes to church twice at least every day of her life to mass every morning, evening prayers in church and “visits” galore to neighborhood churches, what she calls her “pilgrimages.” Oh, how I do detest such religious people!
It is the twin’s birthday. They are twenty-three today. I sent off a parcel to Artie yesterday, but not allowed to send one to Cuthie, poor lad. I received a parcel myself today; a volume of D. H. Lawrence’s Letters, which Doreen Peel found in the Charing Cross Road for me. I am so glad to get this. I like Lawrence.
Miss Canham was here this afternoon, bringing a finished satin blouse, and fitted the red silk, a Barker model red silk, which she is reworking, bringing it up to style. I’m awfully glad to be getting good-looking clothes again. I will stay well dressed. Gladys and Joan’s appearance gave me the horrors. I’m getting old and looking it, but I won’t look dowdy.
January 11, 1942
Three quarters of an hour ago, apropos of nothing at all, Ted suddenly said, I have to go out just before five, and I shall be gone about two hours. When would it be better to have tea? Before I go or afterwards? Afterwards I think, don’t you? I agreed. Afterwards.
Now he has gone, filling up his tobacco pouch before he went, and taking pipe and matches with him; so evidently it isn’t a church meeting. What it is, I don’t know, nor shall I be told later. Is this the way to treat a wife? I don’t think so. Ted wasn’t called out suddenly, he must have known before hand that he was going out at tea time today. Why not have told me beforehand? Now when he does tell me, why not tell me the occasion for his going? I think this secretiveness and this lack of ordinary casual confidence hugely disagreeable, and very rude. I am this mans wife. It is this sort of predetermined callousness on Ted’s part, which makes me feel callous towards him. How can he, how dare he, treat me so casually? “Treat ‘em rough and tell ‘em nothing!”
January 14, 1942
It is very wintry weather, frost, snow, and biting cold. Ted is as fractious as a teething child. What I had better do, I think is to start writing some American letters. Its time I wrote to everybody there again. Yes, I’ll start writing the letter I owe.
It is six forty-five p.m. and there is an alert! This is the first one we have heard in this area this year. Last night a town on the north-east coast was bombed, and yesterday afternoon one of the coast towns of East Anglia was bombed, right in the shopping center, killing several people. It is now seven-ten p.m. and we got the all clear. Ted left for the Home Guards, complete in tin hat and gas mask. I hope we don’t get another warning whilst he is out.
January 15, 1942
I am happy. It is not often a diary notes this fact. Generally it is only miseries that get noted, but I think it is a good thing; diaries act as emotional safety valves. We literally get our troubles off our chests. We purge ourselves of our annoyances and are all the better for doing so. When I went up to bed last night, though the room was icy, the bed was deliciously warm. I had switched on the electric blanket before nine and put the hot water bottle in the bed. As soon as I got into bed I could feel Ted all aglow. I laughed. So did he. So we cuddled together and before we fell asleep we loved. Good. When Ted can forget to be pious or censorious he is delightful, and he can be a good lover when he will permit himself to the delights of the flesh.
Last night I wrote to Charlie and to Eddie. Now that I am in the mood I will continue writing my American letters until I have cleared up all I owe. By the way, yesterday afternoon I received a parcel from New York. It contained a two and a half pound tin of ham and a one-pound tin of butter. It had been packed and sent by Macy’s, but no clue on it as to who was the giver. I presume it is from Eddie, because he sent a parcel before, and has written of sending another “soon”. Anyhow I have written to thank him for it. Also this week I received a copy of. The Reader’s Digest. I have no clue as to who sent that, but I presume that to be a new gift subscription from Charlie.
January 24, 1942
We have been having a spell of very severe cold weather, ice and snow and bitter winds, and once a temperature of twenty-two below freezing, and it is still very cold. Yesterday we had a burst pipe in the outside lavatory, and then a river running down the garden. Skilton came and stopped the water, but nothing can be mended yet. He said an explosion in the tank had blown out the stop cock and ball completely. Luckily we haven’t frozen up anywhere inside the house.
I did show Rita the letter Cuth sent me, written in July, in which he asked me for my true opinion of Rita, and to say exactly what I thought about the prospect of a match between them. I told Rita some of the things I had written to Cuthie, and I also told her that of course I liked her, liked her very much, had always done so, had been very ready to accept her as a daughter-in-law in nineteen thirty-five when she and Eddie got engaged; and since I received Cuth’s letter this summer, every time she came to see me, my secret feeling was that I was still receiving a potential daughter-in-law.
We spoke of the serious disadvantages of a marriage between them, her great seniority, and her physical disability, which might preclude the bearing of children, and her different religion. Yes, she knew all these drawbacks, she herself had pointed them out to Sket; but, he talked them all away, insisted on disregarding them all; she was the girl he cared for, and he’d seen plenty of other girls! As for Rita, she said, she did care deeply for Cuthie, she felt she could make him happy, and that was what she wanted to do, to take care of him, to make him happy.
As for Cuth, I think a man who has endured what he is enduring, should be left free after the war is over to fulfill his life in any way he sees fit and proper. If he wants to marry a woman so much older than himself, that’s his choice and I would think him entitled to it.
As for Rita herself, she is a nice girl, from a nice family. There is good breeding in her and I am sure she would make a good wife. So, as far as I am concerned, if the two of them together can see the snags for such a marriage, and yet are convinced they can overcome them, because they have true affection and agreement in their natures I think, let them marry. I won’t do anything to oppose them. After all, they have known each other for years; it is no sudden infatuation for either of them. Rita said they talked about it on his last leave, and before that. She wants to marry him, she says, only she does not know whether it would be a right thing to do. What do I think?
I asked her what her people would think about it. She said she thought they might make a big fuss against it at first, especially her mother, because of Sket’s religion. Her father greatly liked Sket, Said he’d rather talk to Sket then to many men of fifty he knew. She thought if she could convince him the two of them were in earnest, and that she really wanted to marry Cuth, he would come around. Ted I think would be dead set against the match. He likes Rita, is always nice to her, but definitely he wouldn’t like her to marry Cuthie. Well, we shall see.
Yesterday I went out in the cold to attend the meeting at Wykeham Hall of the Friends of the Prisoner’s of War. I also went into Stone’s and bought the makings of a warm winter coat, lining and interlining included. This was done with Ted’s permission. The idea is to buy good material whilst there is still some to be had.
One item of war news: We were told this morning that yesterday contingents of several thousand American soldiers were safely landed in a Northern Irish port. “The Yanks are coming!” Today Churchill has opened a three-day debate in Parliament on the war and has asked for a vote of confidence. I expect he will get it, but there is a great deal of criticism about what is happening in Malaysia and the Pacific generally. There the Jap’s are supreme, and Singapore is threatened. Hong-Kong, of course, is lost. Like Malta, Singapore is being bombed daily. I am not writing a war record. Actually I am getting downright sick with the war news. What a world!
January 28, 1942
I have just been listening to a talk by Lord Beaver- brook, on war-production, and an account of the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Washington. This followed a long news report of the second day’s debate in parliament on the war situation. The effect of all this on me is one of anger and misery. Beaverbrook sounded bombastic, and to my ears insincere. The accounts of parliament are of men squabbling. I feel this damnable war is a game men in power play for their own delight. There is no mention of human lives, which are sacrificed daily, none.
Churchill talks. Roosevelt talks. I hate their talks. Hypocrites both of them, I think. Oh, wonderful speeches. Oh yes. The carnage proceeds more, intensifying. All around the world now men of all races die horrible deaths daily. Why? Because of war. Well, men decree war: men could stop war, if they wanted to. When there is no more money in it, they will stop it. Not before.