World War ll London Blitz: 5-3-44 to 5-30-44 Planes passed overhead incessantly all night; our planes.

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May 3, 1944
Our wedding anniversary, the thirty-ninth, it was a Wednesday, too, the day we got married. My God! How long ago!
May 4, 1944
Planes passed overhead incessantly all night; our planes. I thought our invasion of Europe must have begun, at last. But no, all we have been told today is that our aircraft were out over occupied territory during the night.
May 5, 1944
Mrs. Camus was here this morning. She tells me that Bobbie (Roberta), her youngest daughter, barely sixteen, has commenced as a probationer in a London Nursery Hospital, and that Beryl, the elder, has volunteered to do Red Cross work, in her evenings, here at Old Church Hospital. She says Old Church is absolutely empty of patients, but has increased its staff of doctors and nurses, and that many foreign doctors are there; American, Polish, Czech, etc. They are standing by waiting for invasion casualties. Beryl has been warned to prepare herself for terrible sights, men without legs, men without faces. War, damnable devilish war!
In London a conference of Prime Ministers is sitting on Wednesday dined with the King at Buckingham Palace. Mr. Fraser of New Zealand, Mr. Curtain of Australia, Mr. Mackenzie King of Canada, General Saints of South Africa, two Indians, the Maharajah of Kashmir and Sir Firoz Khan Noon, and Sir Godfrey Higgins; and of course, Mr. Churchill. The old gang, they have met, they say, “to examine afresh the main efforts and opportunities which lie before their peoples in war and peace.” In effect, how to conduct the war, how to make more men fight, work, and pay taxes, and how to pocket the proceeds. Vile old men, on the spree. Old men who talk glibly about war and glory. Rich old men who suffer none of the discomforts of war. Talkers; damned talkers. Opportunists. Fools. Hateful old men. 
May 6, 1944
In the Catholic Herald of yesterday, is printed this: “An allied woman who does not wish even her nationality disclosed because the people she worked with might be arrested and put to death by the Nazi’s talked to me in London about her experiences in Hungary. She escaped there from one of the occupied countries and worked for some time in the underground movement with others of her compatriots who have escaped. Two or three months ago she managed to get to this country by way of Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, a great deal of the journey being done on foot although she managed to travel on trains when she could board them away from the big towns. She arrived in Hungary about March, 1943, and spent seven months there.” (Then there are a couple of columns about what she saw, etc.) This is what caught my attention, and what I wish to stress: “But” and this was said very sadly, “I sometimes wonder if resistance to the Nazi’s does any good to a country. It is heroic and noble, I know, to resist as the Poles have done, but what have they gained? They have lost three and a half million of their people, not to speak of one and half million deported to Russia, and their position is not going to be too happy in peace. Big nations cannot understand the position of small nations who have to live beside powerful neighbors. To resist them may only be folly. It may only be abnormal. It is unfair to judge those who feel they are unable to do so… Everyday some member of the underground movements in Europe gives up his or her life for the course of freedom from the Nazi yoke. I wonder sometimes, are we right? The end is not so rosy.”
Exactly. What is the use of it all? Jesus said: “Make peace with your adversary quickly.” War is madness, the most colossal madness possible to mankind. It need never be. Men insist on making war. Oh, I hate men, the old men who maneuver nations into war, for their own ends. War fills me with furious anger, not against the poor young combatants, who are forced to fight, but against the statesmen who bring it to pass. The fool politicians.
May 13, 1944
Artie and Hilda moved into their house today. We have combed this house to gather enough furniture so that they can start on their own. Finally Bodger’s carried away a van load. New furniture is absolutely unobtainable, but young couples starting up housekeeping, or folk who have been blitzed out, can obtain from the government a book of coupons permitting them to buy a certain limited amount of utility furniture. Artie says he can not get his coupons until he has his premises, then he must fill in forms, then he will be investigated (authorities will probably call here to interview us, to find out if his new address is authentic, and so on) then he will get his coupons, after that, then he must wait until the merchant procures it, probably up to three months. What a game! So we’ve furnished him. This makes me think of Mother furnishing homes for Eric out of surpluses of her house. There is a heavy rainstorm this evening, and a big drop in the temperature. We have had summer weather for a month past, maybe all the summer we are going to get this year.
May 17, 1944
Artie and Hilda came today, in time for lunch, and afterwards Artie laid the lino in the front bedroom, from which we had let him take away the large blue carpet. Hilda looks very well. They tell me they have received a card from Joan inviting them to spend the evening this coming Friday with her in Hammersmith.
May 18, 1944 Ascension Day
Ascension into what? The stratosphere? The Bomber Squadrons? The Spitfires? The Mosquito’s? The Flying Fortresses?
May 19, 1944
I am reading “The Sheltering Tree” which is the autobiography of Netta Syrett, one of the popular novelists of my youth. I quote, with agreement:
“The war years began for me on that night, and it is only in retrospect that I realize how much more than the actual four years of its duration it took out of the lives of women my age; of most women my age, at any rate. In nineteen-fourteen we felt young, full of energy, as ready for exertion and almost as unmindful of it as we were at twenty-five. By nineteen-eighteen, even for those of us who like me led a quiet existence and suffered no bereavement through the war, much of the “spirit’' of youth had fled, and I fancy this was largely due to a prosaic physical cause; undernourishment. It was, as I remember, only when by chance I had a good meal that I realized how much I needed it, and loss of physical vigor meant a corresponding loss of the feeling of youth, to my contemporaries and me. That after all, is so little a thing compared with the terrible suffering of thousands of other women as not worth mentioning.
It was a changed world into which women of my age emerged after nineteen-eighteen, how greatly changed it took some time to discover.”
Yes. That is how it is today; we are undernourished, we are filled but not fed. When this war began in nineteen thirty-nine I felt well and in the prime of middle age, but for a long time now I have definitely felt myself to be an old woman. All my spring has gone, all my resilience. Everything has become a trouble to me, and I am always tired. Every extra exertion fatigues me excessively. I regard the house with detestation; I don’t want the trouble of looking after it. I don’t want to dust, I don’t want to cook, and I don’t want to sew. In fact, I don’t want to do anything. Above all, I don’t want to have to look after anybody, but I long to be looked after. I am always hungry; not with the healthy hunger from emptiness, but with a gnawing hunger which craves a satisfaction from something, it doesn’t know what, but can’t find. I long for juicy meat, and for fruit, for real bread and real butter. I am so disgusted with all the substitute and ersatz foods. I want real fresh food, and plenty of it. I wonder, I really do, if when once again we can get good food, shall I be able to recover my vigor on it, or shan’t I? Shall I be beyond recovery? Oh, damn the war, damn the war!
May 20, 1944
Oh, but I am tired! Almost all night long, airplanes have been droning overhead, our planes going out, and then returning. There must have been thousands of them. Europe must be bombed now more than we were in 1940. Civilization is committing suicide.
May 22, 1944
Just before ten this morning, as I was beginning to put my fresh bandages on, the alert sounded, and we had a short day light raid, the first day light one for some time. This mornings bombs dropped somewhere, supposing they had dropped on me.
What has disturbed me right now is a photograph from America, which I received on Saturday. It is a fine large photograph of Eddie, holding his little son; the child looks adoringly up to his father, and his father smiles out at the world. My eldest son and his eldest son. My heart is pinched and bruised afresh. I long to see Eddie face to face, I long to see all the little children. Of our seventeen grandchildren I have only seen two. I have missed all of the pleasures of their adorable infancy's. For what? So that Ted can live in England and go to mass daily. Isn’t it absurd?
Artie came in at teatime without Hilda. He said they had been shopping downtown and she was tired, so he had sent her home ahead. I told him that I had expected them for lunch. He said, I hadn’t said lunch, so they didn’t like to come in, because of rations, etc. His chief news was that he is “starting” work tomorrow. He received his Army discharge last week, so now is a civilian again, back in the family firm.
May 24, 1944
This morning I did a through cleaning job of the top floor. Mrs. Whitbread wrote a month ago that she would have to give up the job, as she did not feel well enough to work any longer. (I imagine she is going to have a baby) I was sorry about this, as she was a very good char.
I had several visitors this afternoon. Mrs.Fitch and Bertha, Mrs. James, and Elizabeth Coppen. We had another daylight alert from four forty-five until five-twenty and only a little gunfire. I suppose it was only a stray reconnaissance plane.
May 27, 1944
I am afraid I am perilously near what is known as a complete nervous breakdown. I am so tired in body and exasperated in mind I feel I can’t endure another minute. I was in such a state of nerves this morning whilst cooking the dinner I felt I should break down and cry, and I did not dare to let myself go in case I should never stop. I am sick to death of cooking dinners, I am sick to death of the house and the housework, I am sick to death of looking after a husband and I am sick to death of the war, this infernal war. I am sick of myself, this miserable body. The weather has turned very hot suddenly and consequently my legs are bad. It is torture to walk about. It is worse I suppose because of all the heavy work I have done this week. I really do feel on the verge of collapse. Ted is too silly for words. At dinner just now he said if the war ended now he was afraid it would be too soon, because we, England, hadn’t suffered enough. France had suffered, he said, and Poland, and now very likely Germany was suffering, but we hadn’t suffered enough. This is the religious maniac talking; also the safe old man. It is true this country hasn’t suffered invasion, but it suffered the expectation of invasion and still isn’t free of the dread of the threat of it. It is Ted who doesn’t suffer, but he is an abnormal man. What about Artie? What about Cuthi? What about me in my grief for them? What about all our millions of young men fighting and dying in the air, on the sea, on the land, all over the globe and all their families grieving for them? What about our blasted cities and villages? What about our young women thrust into the factories and the services? What about the demoralization of our juveniles? What about the nightly air raids, the fires, the terror? What about the taxes, to put something down to Ted’s comprehension? This war will never be paid for, even in cash. All who survive will be impoverished for the rest of their days in mere money, let alone in their affections.
If Ted were a young man who had to go to fight he might feel differently about the war. To say the least he would find it inconvenient to have to leave his home, and to have to take orders from his superiors. Isn’t it conceivable that millions of our men, especially the older and the married ones, find Army life a suffering, long before they come to the actual fighting and the danger? What about their wives and their mothers? Isn’t it suffering for them to sit at home, or in their compulsory “directed” job, alone? Partings, the breaking up of homes, infidelities, intolerable loneliness, intolerable herding, insufficient money, restrictions! All these miseries on top of blitzes, Foreign Service, wounds, blindness, and death. Then Ted calmly says we haven’t yet suffered enough! I suppose he wants everybody to be crucified like Jesus! Oh, he’s mad! It is true that the sea has saved us from the boot of the invader, but it hasn’t saved us from anything else of war. The air war has been and is terrible. There isn’t a family, scarcely a solitary person, in this land, who hasn’t suffered because of this war, even Ted, though he takes it lightly, yet one of his sons is a prisoner, and the other is mutilated, and will be mutilated for the rest of his life, perhaps another fifty years or more. What of the agony of body and of mind which Artie has suffered? There are thousands like Artie, and will be thousands more. War. Devilish, damnable war; yet men will war. I can’t understand it. I don’t think any woman can understand it. Men are fools that’s what women understand, right well. Ted Thompson is an intolerable fool. He’s mad!
May 29, 1944
It is hotter than ever. The B.B.C. reports temperatures of ninety-six degrees in the Straights of Dover.
May 30, 1944
Still hellishly hot. The B.B.C. reports temperatures in the shade at Dover, seventy-nine degrees. The R.A.F. is out all day and all night just the same; day flying planes return so hot that ground crews have to spray them with water before they can touch them. This heat is making me feel downright sick, as well as being bad for my legs. It makes me feel cross also. Damn rotten world.

World War ll London Blitz: 4-1-44 to 4-30-44 We had no raiders over last night. This afternoon I managed to do a little writing. Ted took himself to the parlor and I had a couple of free hours. I wrote about ten pages, I think they are passably good. I have no interest right now in any of the countries of Europe, and as soon as the war is over I hope to get right away from it, and never see it nor hear of it again. It is like all the war books. I don’t want to read anything about the war. It is hell enough to endure it so why read about it?

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April 1,1944

I am frightfully tired now after cooking and clearing away our dinner. I should like never to have to cook a dinner again as long as I live, and never to have to tend a fire, or dust a room, or be polite to the boring neighbors. I had a conversation with Miss Owlett this morning about her Mother who is seriously ill, and after looking at her plain, plain face; I came back into the house remembering how nice looking Mother was. Mother kept much beauty, right to the very end of her life. She was a beautiful old lady. When I think of the old women on either side of me, Mrs. Thomson with her Medusa grey locks and her wrinkles and her make-up and thus Mrs. Owlett with her almost bald head, and her daughter with her reptilian eyes and neck and her scraggy grey hair, oh, I think of the three witches in Macbeth, Hago, all three of them! I hate the sight of all three. Do women have to become so ugly? There is one think these old hags make me darn sure about, and that is, hair. Hair is a woman’s crowning glory, and I intend to have hair. I’ll never have my hair cut again. I remember Mother’s hair; it was beautiful. So could mine be, and it shall be.

Au-revoir. If no visitors come in I can read undisturbed until teatime. I am too tired to do anything else.

April 2, 1944, Palm Sunday

We had no raiders over last night. This afternoon I managed to do a little writing. Ted took himself to the parlor and I had a couple of free hours. I wrote about ten pages. I think they are passably good. I have no interest right now in any of the countries of Europe, and as soon as the war is over I hope to get right away from it, and never see it nor hear of it again. It is like all the war books. I don’t want to read anything about the war. It is hell enough to endure it so why read about it?

April 3, 1944

It is rainy but warmer. I went to visit Miss Rosenberg this morning and on the way home I went to Craddock’s and bought some files, two singles and two doubles, also some large envelopes and some rough scribbling paper. I went through a package of various writings yesterday and I saw that these oddments could be well knit together into one good whole. It occurred to me if I “sorted” them properly the work would be much easier, especially if I kept portions separated, instead of lumped as now. Also I decided to work in sections, as it were, as my fancy moves me, and then piece the sections together afterwards. I halt myself because I want to work straightforwardly through a story, in historic sequence, and this straightforwardness I can never achieve. If I write out what comes to my mind when it comes, perhaps I could join the pieces together artistically later, and so write a book that way. It would be like knitting a multitude of squares and then sewing them together to make a quilt, or like collecting and preparing assorted ingredients and then mixing them properly together to make a cake. Anyhow I think I’ll see if I can write by that method. I will try.
We had no raiders last night. The B.B.C. reports that last night Molotov officially announced in Moscow that Russian troops have crossed the River Prut and entered Romanian territory in several sectors. He also told representatives of the foreign press that the Soviet had no wish to acquire new territory or to alter the social structure of Romania. The Red Army’s intention was to pursue the German and satellite armies until their final rout and capitulation. Well, we shall see.

In the postscript to the nine o’clock news last night a press correspondent, a Mr. Moorhead, just back from Italy, gave a description of occupied Europe, with an admonition that we had better consider the future of Europe after the war! He said that England was an oasis of safety and plenty in comparison with occupied Europe, and that we didn’t sufficiently realize the malignity of the war. He said that Italy was a shambles, and all the Italians wanted was food. Food! I didn’t care a hoot. I don’t care if the Italians are suffering, or the French either. I think, let’em suffer. I think: Europe wanted war, now Europe has war. Very well, pay for it. No, I’ve no tears for the poor Italians; no sob story about them is ever going to stir my stony heart. This war need never have been. It is a sure thing we English didn’t want it. Hitler and Mussolini would have their war, and their Germans and Italians were whole-heartedly behind them, but now they are squealing. All right, let them squeal, but give them a bellyful of war, their glorious war. I don’t care if they starve to death. Hitler and Mussolini inflicted Hell on the world and nobody raised a protest against them; their people followed them like sheep. Well I am not sorry for sheep. I am sick to death of Europe and all Europeans, and I’ll never be sorry for one of them. Let’em suffer and the more the better. They willed this war, now they must endure it, and take the consequences. Devil takes them all.

April 5, 1944

On Monday Ted received a letter from Artie saying that the Medical Board had passed him grade C, and so it looked as though he would be in uniform until the end of the war, and asking his father to send to him a whole list of his army belongings, which are still here. Bed, shoes, pajamas, books, etc.

This morning Ted got a second letter from him, saying that he couldn’t understand the War Office communication, and he couldn’t say definitely yet whether he was remaining in the army or not, but to please send on the things that he asked for, to Glasgow, in case he had to report for duty. At lunchtime Ted said to me, I didn’t tell you I had written to Artie, did I? I refused to send on his things. (There was a sheet long list, and information where to find everything; how to pack it, and how to forward.) I told him, that when King Louis XIV got tired of his court company he used to say, ‘If I were you gentleman, if I was in your place, I should go home now,’ and that I was saying to him, if I was in your place I should go home now. I told him that I hadn’t got time to attend to all those things, and he had better come and fetch them for himself, and also take a good look around the house and see what else he wanted. I wasn’t going to lug through that lot of work for him. He added, It would be a lot of work. Several things he asked for are in trunks, under the bed, very hard to get at.

In Monday’s letter he gave the information, You will be a grandpa in August. Hilda is very well, and hopes for a boy. I should like twins, but expect that is too much good luck to hope for.

In neither of these letters was there any reference to me, not a word. As for the coming child, I can’t be glad. I don’t want any grandchildren from this Scotch-Irish Hilda Kane. I consider her a very inferior and third- rate sort of person who will naturally produce third-rate children. Well, I don’t want that kind, neither her nor hers.

It is now evening. Ted has gone to play the organ for the evening service. At tea-time he told me that he walked up the road with an American soldier who was on his way to visit the Story’s; said he must have been one of the boys who has been here some time, because he addressed him by name, and enquired after me. This is the significant point of the story; the soldier said this was the last night any American soldier was going to get a sleeping out pass. So, it’s the invasion any day now.

April 6, 1944

Today the Postmaster General announces that the public telephone service between Great Britain and all parts of Ireland will be withdrawn immediately. The telegraph service will be maintained, but subject to strict censorship. This is to prevent any possible leakage of vital information through Ireland.

From America comes news of the defeat of Mr. Wendle Wilkie in the Wisconsin primaries yesterday. He has asked his friends not to present his name at the convention, in view of this defeat. The big vote went for Mr. Dewey.

I received a card from Sket today, dated the Fifth of January 1944. He writes:

Dear Folks, just to say I am o.k. I am glad that Christmas Day and New Years are passed. It was a depressing period. I had hoped to get my glasses by Christmas but I suppose they are still in Switzerland. This year there was no flood of Christmas cards from England and strangely enough we have survived without them. I send my respect, Sket.

Poor old Sket! These are weary years for him.

April 13, 1944

Soon after we got to bed last night we had an alert. The raid lasted from eleven p.m. until nearly midnight. The moon is waning so we expect raids every night until we get moonlight again. At first it was the moonlit nights that brought the raiders, now it is the moonless nights.

April 14, 1944

We had a raid in the night, between one-thirty and two-fifteen a.m. The B.B.C. says we brought down two of the raiders. I want to note this “letter” in this week’s Listener. It is headlined, The Doctrine of Forgiveness. It reads: I am not much good at elegant streamlined phrases, so please forgive my bluntness when I ask just what does Mr. W.R. Childe mean by his ‘Philosophy of Christ? When the Master said, ‘Love your enemies,’ he could not possibly have meant by it a considered policy – when the power of harming others has been taken away? There is no vitality of love in a forgiveness of that sort. It makes me think of a widow placing a nice wreath on her deceased husband’s grave with the sentimental satisfaction of knowing he can no longer torment her as he did when alive. ‘The key to the healing of the nations’ is to be found in Christ himself; not in any ‘Lo, here is Christ’ and ‘there is Christ’ philosophy. Brigg. Mary Watkinson. I note it for its touch about the widow.

It’s about a quarter of a century now since I noted the first widow of my acquaintance began to bloom and blossom. She was old Mrs. Norval. William Norval died rather suddenly just before the last war started. He was a good man and a good husband, and Martha was devoted to him; but after he had been dead a little while the change in Martha was obvious to all of Bayonne. She has always been a serene and contented sort of person, but my! After she was widowed she became a radiantly happy one; she absolutely bloomed in her contentment with her new single life. It was in watching her first of all, and then others later, that I discovered that the only happy women in the world are the widows with independent means. They are completely satisfied women. They have known everything, and ultimately they are free, the only truly free women in the world I think.

April 15, 1944

My dinner is all set. We are having a half shoulder of lamb, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, broccoli tops and a spicy rice pudding. We get one good dinner a week, and this is it. This is our whole weeks ration of meat. I am ravenously meat hungry. I miss meat more than any other food.

We had no raid last night, but I slept badly all the same. I have suffered with insomnia ever since the beginning of the war. For one thing, I have to go to bed too early. Ted retires about ten-thirty and I have to also, not more than ten minutes later. Consequently I lay awake for hours. When the alert went at one-thirty a.m. the night before last I had not slept a minute. Naturally I am what my mother would describe as a “night bird.” All of us in our family were. Usually we didn’t have supper until about ten, and never thought of retiring before midnight. Anyhow, my brain is most active at night, which is when I could write. I could write all night easily. So for me to lie awake in bed is a sheer waste of time. Of course I can’t read because I have no light. If I could go to bed when I was ready for bed, that would be all right, but no, that is not permitted. When Ted goes to bed I must go to bed, that’s the rule. The household must pleasure the husband, “the head of the house,” that is the inviolate rule in England. Why do I put up with it? Why don’t I say, no I don’t want to go to bed now, I want to listen to the radio? I say nothing. I let him get away with it. I let him get away with murder. I am certainly terribly tired of it, deathly tired of it. As I lay awake last night I thought of how sick I was of goodness and of being good. I thought of all the fun I have missed in life, tagging along with Ted Thompson. I should have burst out of bounds years and years ago; I ought to have done so.
We got letters from Artie this afternoon, one to his father, and one to me. This is it:

13th April 1944

Dear Mother,

I take it that Dad gives you all of my news so you will 
know how I am doing all I can to get out of the army and plan to come to Romford to settle down, and I expect you also know I will be a “proud papa” in August. In the next few days I am bringing Hilda to Romford and I would like to bring her home but if you think it best that I do not do so I will find somewhere else to go. I will telephone from London, or Romford and then you can tell me. I have also asked Dad. I may travel Saturday or Sunday or even Monday, I don’t know yet. Anyway I look forward to seeing you very soon, even if we don’t stay with you. All my love, at all times. Fred.

Well I do not understand these young people. That’s all I can say. They haven’t even any sense of pride or dignity for themselves! To go away as they did and then to calmly arrange to walk in again, is beyond my idea of behavior. However, I didn’t put them out, I never told them to go. So, as a child looking to his parents for hospitality, we will give it. I shan’t relish having them here. In fact, I don’t really want to ever see either Artie or Hilda again. In a sort of way Artie died for me last December when he went away in the disagreeable way he did go. My son vanished then and now I don’t want him to reappear. It was not his going to Scotland that hurt, for Hilda to want to go home was natural enough, it was his nasty, secretive underhanded way of doing it and then his ignoring me ever since.

For twenty-four years he loved me, and then at the bidding of a stranger he repudiated me. Hilda is jealous of me of course, that is obvious. She wants Artie to be hers alone. She set herself against all his friends, and most of all against me. Well that I can’t bother about. She is an ignorant, ill-bred girl and I can’t change her. That Artie should descend to her level! Artie knows better. Artie knows what is right. He must know he behaved badly to me and to his father. No, it is Artie I cannot forgive. No, I don’t want to see him. Love and friendship between us is dead and he destroyed it. All my love, at all times? I don’t believe it.

April 16, 1944

I spent most of the day writing letters. I wrote an extra long one to Harold. When Artie and Hilda are here again I shall not be able to do my writing whatsoever. I wanted particularly to write to Harold, and have done so. Happily for me there were no visitors today. I did not go to church. It was a rainy morning so had myself excused.

April 17, 1944

Mrs. Owlett died this morning. Miss Coffen was here this afternoon. The lovebirds have not arrived.

April 18, 1944

My birthday. I am sixty today. Awful. Old Mr. Holloway, the Owlett’s lodger, has spent most of the day in the garden, hacking and coughing a lot. The old lady called him “Ernest” and I always get the suspicion he was one of her old boyfriends. He is seventy-nine, almost eighty, in good shape and active for his years, but ... But! I hate old people. I hate the sight and the sound of them. Ernest in his garden all day has gotten on my nerves. I suppose he can’t stay in the house with the corpse. I can’t be sorry for him, nor Miss Owlett, or for the departed. I hate the sight of Miss Owlett too; she is so ugly. Yes, I know this is hateful of me. I know if I live long enough I too shall be decrepit and revolting looking. All the same, I can’t bear old people. I simply can’t bear them. It isn’t that I want young people either. It is that I can’t tolerate the sight of the human being in decay and a company of old people fills me with disgust. The Resurrection of the Body. Which body? Will Mrs.
Owlett resurrect as the woman she died, a hag of eighty? Or as the girl she was at twenty, or the mature woman she was at fifty?
I am sixty today. Dreadful thought. I think of Mrs. Muriel down the street. She is seventy-two and one of the most ghastly looking women in this town. She is trying to hang onto the appearance of youth, painted face, dyed hair, youthful clothes, yet all her efforts serve only to emphasize her hideous old age. No, I won’t fake like Mrs. Muriel; on the other hand I won’t allow myself to be so repulsively natural as Mrs. Owlett. There is no beauty in old age. I think the utmost one can do when old, is to keep away from the company of other old people. Two old people together simply accentuate decay. I remember once seeing the three old aunties and mother all together; it was to me a revolting and frightening spectacle. Yes, I hate old age.

It is another day and no lovebirds. I received a telegram from Artie at teatime, handed in at Glasgow at five o’clock, Many happy returns and fondest love, Fred.

April 19, 1944

We had another raid here last night, between one and two a.m. W & H’s office received a bomb, and is completely gutted. Also Allen’s, the Brewery, The Cottons, Hale’s, Cakebreads, Neumann’s, Knightsbridge Road, Waterloo Road. Bert’s office is completely burned out. This is the fourth fire there, once through Ritchie’s fault, once through Dunne’s, and now twice from Gerry. The B.B.C. reported at eight a.m. that we brought down ten of the nights raiders, I should think at least half of them in Romford. No details yet. I shall learn more when Ted comes in for lunch.

It is now evening. Fourteen people were killed in Waterloo Road and four at Seven Kings, where a plane crashed on top of a house and killed the people inside. Mrs. Wallace of Albion Terrace killed. Mrs. Shadforth, wife of the chemist “missing.” A London hospital severely damaged, one hundred and fifty three patients’ hurt, seven of the staff killed. Allen’s is completely destroyed and all the cars in the garage; but across the road in an empty lot where scores of tanks were awaiting repairs, nothing was touched, though several of the surrounding houses are down. The B.B.C. reports we brought down fourteen of the raiders.

April 20, 1944

A short raid last night before midnight, not bad in this neighborhood, but bad enough to be frightening. Mrs. Owlett was buried today. After the funeral, in the afternoon, Mr. Holloway’s daughter in-law came to tell him of the death of his son in Nairobi. This is a terrible blow for the old fellow. I believe it was his only child. So Miss Owlett and old Mr. Holloway have gone away for a week or two, and Miss Owlett has asked us to keep an eye on the house for them. Or course, I can’t understand this going away so promptly after a funeral, but there you are, different people act differently. If I suffered bereavement I shouldn’t want to leave the house for a long time, because if I did, it would be too hard to return to it. Then, I never care about “going away” at any time. I like best to stay on my own premises.

April 23, 1944

Artie and Hilda arrived at about one a.m. this morning. Artie telephoned just before eleven that they were at Euston. Ted and I went to bed, at eleven, in our usual way, and Ted came down and let them in at about one o’clock. I did not come down.
There was an awkward meeting with Artie after breakfast this morning. (Ted went and called them at ten o’clock.) However, everything is all right. Artie filled up with tears. Hilda did not come down. Artie said she was sick; he wanted her to stay in bed, but he didn’t think she would. He drank some coffee and went off to mass. A little later I went upstairs, and, after tidying our room, took an armful of clean linen, and knocked on their bedroom door. Almost immediately Hilda opened it. She was dressed (Ted had carried her a breakfast tray) but near tears. However, she held out her hand, and said, How do you do Mother. The “mother” was a great effort. So I kissed her and said a few words of welcome, gave her a hug and said, Now, be happy.

She said, Yes, I will.

I left her, and a little later she came back from church,

and the two of them then went out into the garden to talk to Ted.
So everything has started off well. The weather, too, has been perfect. It has been just like a summers day.

April 24, 1944

Joan arrived at eight o’clock this morning, for the day. Of course she was very surprised to find Artie and Hilda here. Miss Coppen, the same, when she came this after- noon. It is another perfect day. The B.B.C. announces that the Government has decided that beginning next Thursday, nobody may leave Great Britain, and this is for security reasons.

April 25, 1944

The B.B.C. announces that Germany has isolated Denmark; beginning today, nobody may either leave or enter Denmark.
Old Bert has offered Artie a job in W. and H’s. This he will take, if the London Exchange permits, and, of course, if he gets his discharge from the army. He was at the office this morning and saw young Bertie also, who has twenty-four hours leave. This was really fortunate. After all, when old Bert “drops out” it will be Bertie’s business. They warn that Artie must go in at a low wage, and the job may only be temporary, because of all the young men Bert will have to take care of when they are demobilized; young Green, Frank Grimwood, Albert Harwood. Naturally, that’s the law. However, it does look sensible for Artie to go back into the family business, rather than into some other, and that is how the decision stands.
When he came into lunch Artie voiced what many others have voiced regarding young Maurice Coppen. There is Maurice, still in the office, busy about his own affairs, and growing rich. Meanwhile, Green with a young family, and an older man! Young Bertie, also an older man, married and with two children! Harwood who is married and delicate. These fellows are all swept into the war, whilst Maurice, still a bachelor, is left free, not even put on war work.

It’s not fair I can’t understand why Maurice gets out of everything! Something funny about Maurice!

He is considered an artful dodger, and his unpopularity increases. The feeling is that he has wangled through the medical exam and obtained an exemption from army service that he is not entitled to, and it is exacerbated by the fact that he will not voluntarily do any war work. He arranges to stay in Bert’s office with the old men and to keep out of danger and discomfort very nicely. Certainly he is not sick. There is nothing the matter with Maurice. He can work very hard on his own affairs, and also on his own pleasures, for he goes to town to a theatre practically one night every week.

Bertie and Frank, and Albert and Artie and Green must go to the war and Artie must lose his leg. Yes, there is something fishy about Maurice.

I begin to feel I don’t care much for Maurice Coppen,
says Artie. Well, lots of other people have been saying that too. The last one I heard say so was Mr. Skelton, the morning after the raid. I met him on the street, and he said, And of course that young Coppen wasn’t on the fire watching job! No, he wouldn’t be!

Oh well! I don’t think Maurice will continue to feel quite happy in the office, once the other fellows get back to it.

April 30, 1944

Artie and Hilda just left for mass. Ted is out at the Home Guard, the first Sunday since his accident. I have the feeling Mother ought to walk in. The weather is perfect. The week has passed much better than I anticipated. Artie and Hilda are obviously happy to be here, Artie particularly so. I think Artie must have been very unhappy in Glasgow. Twice I have heard Hilda say to him,
You’re happy now; aren’t you? You’re happy here. Once, You were always grumbling in Glasgow. You grumbled about everything.

Well, I think to myself, Good! The boy has had a dose of Glasgow, of the Scotch, of his in-laws, of the harsh northern climate, and of giving in to the whims of his wife. It’s a dose he won’t take again. Hilda has improved in disposition quite a lot too. Ted says, I think those two young people have learnt a lesson.”Yes, I think so too.
I have my “roast” dinner to cook today. Anyhow I shall make no attempt to go to mass whilst Hilda and Artie remain here. They are looking for a flat or a house but accommodations are very scarce and hard to find.

However if they keep hunting possibly they will find a place in a week or two, and the sooner the better both for us and for them. Young couples ought to be on their own