April 23 The feast of St. George
Bernice and I are both starting diaries.
I think that as we learn history to find other mens’ experience it is useful to record one’s own personal experience and emotions for future reference, for later on when we contemplate our lives we will remember only outstanding events, smaller ones will be forgotten and then partially wasted as if they never had been experienced.
Moreover it will be interesting and amusing to look back on my own thoughts when I am older ( and I hope wiser) to consider how immature I was and to wonder how I could have done such things, thought such thoughts…
I got up at 6.30, Mass and Holy Communion. Breakfast 7.50 Eggs and Oranges.
Afterwards we discovered we came back unnecessarily yesterday as lectures do not begin until tomorrow.
Nevertheless we enjoyed the International Society yesterday. A brains Trust with interesting questions. We had a long discussion on the equality of the sexes. Sa’ad Haffar was in very good form; Peter (Meisl) his urbane self. Later we went to Austria House where we heard the beginning of a talk on the Salzberg festivals.
Sedgley is astonishingly green. When we went home at half term the trees were bare. There is a magnificent one outside our window. I used to lie in bed watching the moon wandering among its branches. The tree is majestically bare and has two lovely notches. Now all the trees are green and the lupins have grown from 1 to 12 inches high.
Our room is darker…Summer is wonderful but the tree looked more dignified in its nakedness. I wonder if sculptors feel like that about the human figure, and about austerely beautiful Gothic churches which have been spoilt by over decorative carving.
Last summer two Robins whom we christened Alaric and Benny were making their nest in the low stone wall just behind a lupin. I don’t see them fluttering about now and feel as if I had lost a friend: Mais revenir a nos moutons, after breakfast I went home to retrieve my ration book. I read a little of my new book “Art and Scholasticism” by Jaques Maritain.
Had dinner with Bernice, Betty, Margaret, Justin and Hilary, a girl who has apparently just lost her husband after 5 weeks of marriage and who is thinking of taking up teaching and doing the Sedgley course. She has not even School Certificate, we warned her she would have a hard time.
In the afternoon B.B. and I went to see “Between two worlds” at the Regal. Paul Henreid was in it. It was about people who are dead in a ship waiting for judgment. There was one quite Dickensian line in it “with which terse remarks I shut my mouth”. It made us roar. Afterwards we ate tea cakes and talked.
I did my holiday prose at night. Bernice and I talked until midnight. This is probably why we did not get up for Mass on the next day.
Rise 7.25. First day of term.
I have resolved to live my life as well as possible this term. How long will this last?
But I must do some reading, pass my exams in June, get exercise, sing well etc. The last resolution is rather unnecessary as I put my heart and soul into choral practice on Thursdays.
I am in Prof. Cheney’s essay class this term. I am awfully disappointed as he does medieval history and I had hoped to remain in Prof Atkinson’s and do ancient history at which I was quite successful last term. I believe we are to have lectures from Prof. instead of Mrs. Atkinson. If he is as good as she I will not need to grumble.
We still have Miss Wrong – mixed feelings personally I like her very much but I do not think I get very much benefit from her lectures. I expect this is because of the vastness of the subject and my inattentiveness rather than her fault. I went to her room for my exam paper. She was marvellous about it not mentioning the lack of reading which was surely evident, but the writing which as she aptly remarked “seemed to have deteriorated under the stress of the occasion.” Also the English grammar and some of my wild statements.
They are now ringing class bells which is rather a good idea as it stops Mr. A. within two minutes. Also had first Lecture from Mr Beloff in American history. [Max Beloff, later Baron, founder of Univ. Coll. Bucks] True to legend he walked up and down, speaking out of the corner of his mouth.
At French Practical we had Madame Mainfroy. She is rather a tartar actually making us work-disgusting!! She gave me the task of preparing a speech on modern French art for next Tuesday.
At dinner Teddy Usher suggested speaking on Picasso.
B.B. and I went to the park to study. We read little and talked much. Afterwards I played on the Chaplaincy harmonium, then tea with Margaret (Boyle). Later we saw Bernard McCabe in Cafeteria, the first time since the going down dance. He went before we could talk to him. I followed to Burlington Street but he was gone so I went to Main building and found my latin result 57/97 far better than last time but still a III . I also have French a IIi.
April 25th Wed.
We got our ancient history back. I have IIi. Prof Atkinson appears to be as good and rather like Mrs. Atkinson.
We saw Prof Cheney. He is rather insignificant looking but seems to be quite nice.
Bernard was at out table in Caf. for a few minutes. We talked to Frank Coombs when he left. I spent the afternoon in Christies (the Arts Faculty Library) At 4 tea with B.B. and Frank.
Saw Bernard again. He said he is going to London to read for the Bar (Is this right? I don’t know the technical terms in law. My dictionary definition of lawyer is ‘a long climbing thorny plant.)
Bernard also told us that John is coming back on Monday.Hurrah! (late Fr Herbert OP editor of Blackfriars and author of many theological books but at this timer a student of chemistry.)
Frank Coombs (an architecture student) and I are usually very melancholy when together. I wonder whether we react on each other or is it some external influence? I like Frank and feel sorry for him for some obscure reason.
We walked back with Joan Lancaster (a Domestic Science student and a great sport.)
Back at Sedgley MMP Mother Mary Placida the Principal, announced we have an extension only to 5.20. I wonder what is up?
We played some records instead of dancing. We played Joan Graham’s Jean Sablon and my Air on a G string, Ave Verum, Adoramus and sides I and 2 of Mozarts 40th Symphony when we had to stop. (The recreation break at Sedgley college was only half an hour after supper, followed by prayers in the cold drafty Hall and then to our rooms for the night.)
April 26th Thursday
Latin set book paper returned 64%. Congratulations Sybil!!
Max Beloff made a rather good crack. Every time when he has taken his register he finds a fresh batch of people so he said if there are any further extensions of this class we will have to take over the Gaumont Cinema. He gave a very interesting lecture.
Dr. Redford returned out Economics papers. Mine was marked B which he said equalled 60%. He made some nice remarks about it being sensibly written and clear so I feel rather elated. Redford is awfully nice. He gave everyone a second and said our papers were better than the average first year papers of recent years.
Dinner in the Union snack bar. I saw Da’ad Haffar who is nice enough to be Sa’ads sister.
Mrs. Marks returned French Prose in the afternoon. I got nearly 50% (28/50). Afterwards I drank tea and ate ice cream in Caf.
Then Choral. We did some hymns for the broadcast, a service on May 13th. Proctor-Gregg said we sang “Falmouth” extremely well at the anniversary concert on 19 March and “Draw on sweet night” and “Haste thee nymph” quite well. Bernice came for the first time and enjoyed it as much as we forecast. Coming back to Sedgley Park we had coffee at “Alf’s” milk bar.
After dinner we went to the Sedgley International Society meeting because it was 19th and 20th century poetry with a special talk on T.S.Eliot by Maureen Ward. We enjoyed it a lot. Mother Cecily and I monopolized the discussion. Afterwards Mother Cecily thanked the visitors i.e the university students who had been stimulating in contributing so much to the discussion. Afterwards she asked me if I did English or History. On hearing History asked if I did Medieval? I indignantly refuted the suggestion. (It was expected that Catholic girls would be more interested in Medieval.)
I said I was more interested in Ancient and in economic history which seemed incredible to her judging by her expression however she was nice to me and invited me to come again as doing history I would find much to interest me.
Bernice and I discussed poetry in bed. Dr. Knights from the University is apparently coming to Sedgley to lecture on T.S. Eliot. He sounds super I will go whatever happens D.V.
Mass and H.C. breakfast egg!
I went to Dr. Niklaus lecture to get my unseen I had 32/40 —80%. He told me it was good as he gave it to me and I was pleased especially as I was the only one he commented on whose paper he had marked.
The lecture was the most uproarious fun. Nicky was in one of his brilliant moods. He told us some people had translated “La Mairie et la Femme” as the husband and wife.
Others had made the whole affair into a funeral. It was actually a wedding..by the end of the lecture we were weak with laughing.
At 11.30 we got our latin comp. back. I had 48% for prose and 37% for unseens. Rather a pity after a good set book paper.
Dinner with Justin, his brother Vincent, Margaret Bernice and Betty.
The afternoon was miserable. I tried to get books for my essay on trade routes and for modern french art, but achieved very little.
Had tea then went to hear Sir Richard Acland address the Socialist Society -one of the founders of the Commonwealth party and of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He made a few noteworthy remarks – property has no rights but its owners have. Then applied his statement in the sense that only small owners who work for their property have rights.
He was very elated as the Commonwealth party has just won the bye-election in Cheltenham, a Tory stronghold. He prophesied that the June election would return 400 Labour and hopelessly defeat the Tories. Also that when the British say they live in a socialist, not a capitalist country they will get it. God preserve us from it.
Sat. April 28th
Read history for my essay in the history room. It started snowing in the laburnam tree. Very cold. Mother Placida lit the Gas fire D.G. I found a copy of “1066 and all that“ in the library and determined to read it as Prof. Namier always quotes the title and also as I very much enjoyed Garden Rubbish. I went home, got some money then went to the Catholic youth Conference and Diocesan youth Parliament. Father Fitzsimmons gave a good talk.
A great tea with many cakes.
A debate on “Does highter education create class distinction?’. Julie Lynch proved it did not. S.D.Y.P. report not so good.
Their chairman was hopeless. He never counted votes, had never heard of abstentions and even imagined he as chairman could vote!
Afterwards Margaret Boyle persuaded me to go to the informal dance. I was reluctant to spend 1s.6d at the time and very glad later. As soon as I entered M.D.H. I bumped into Harry Schofield and John Grusker. JG spent most of the evening talking about the Club, John McCabe and summer hikes. Albert Tawil was also there unfortunately. He is most distasteful to me and has a way of edging near one which makes me squirm. This is the first time I have felt such real distaste for anyone. The most glorious moment of the day came when Harry came up and said “See who I have got here” It was John McCabe with a dazzling smile, both arms outstretched saying how good to see you. He had left the University to go coal mining but had changed his mind as he thought it would be too much for him. He was very pale and thin. Justin, Vin and Saad Haffar were also at the informal. Unfortunately I had to leave at 9 (strict rules to get back to the hostel of Sedgley)
Sunday April 29
Mass H.C. I read about the Impressionists in the morning. In the afternoon down to the village we waited for Alfs to open and froze in the perishing cold, but he did not open.
In the evening went to the International Club General Meeting. JG elected chairman because both Peter and Saad refused to stand as they were leaving soon. Mervyn Silgardo elected treasurer, Olga Beck secretary, Joan Lancaster social sec. ordinary members Kurt, Saad, George Bessos and Harry, the latter being also head of the cultural and social committee. I am on the committee with Shirley Grigson. I had been proposed as Treasurer but refused…Kurt elected honerary President.
A hike was planned. Saad rather sweetly offered to ring up M. Placida to get us permission to go. Of course it is no use.
I had a long talk with Peter Meisl about teaching and how it restricts a woman’s life etc. Peter said he is going to North Wales but only a 10s6d train ticket away. How killing , Sa ad and Peter the nicest people there are leaving.
Fernando gave a talk on education in Portugal. Then Sa’ad explained the 4th Dimension to us. Also Newton’s 3rd law-every action has its equal and opposite reaction with special reference to a donkey and cart. Later had an argument with Peter about it as applied to tables.
How is it when weight W is placed on table resistance equals R.
When w is there resistance r. If table is dead matter how can it vary resistance?
Finally Peter said it is used the curvature W makes large curve w a small one (Obviously I did not and still do not understand this and probably reported it wrongly.)
Then Sa’ad produced the problem of 3 crocodiles of equal length starting to eat the tail of the next at the same rate and moment. What would happen? Peter said they would be circulating but keeping the same distance.
We only arrived back at Sedgley at 10 oclock. Warning from Mother M. Placida!
Monday April 30
Saw George Bessos in the central library.
First lecture on Hannibal. At dinner I started by being with Justin, but saw Peter Meisl all alone so sat with him. I think we could be friends if he were not going away. We continued talking about crocodiles tables etc. Peter went on to say he was angry with himself for being weak and sorry for Kurt and not preventing him from being honorary President. He went on to say Kurt did no work for the Club and does not deserve the position. It should have been a man like Alderman Wright-Robinson. Peter also told me that he does not like Albert altogether but thinks he is keen on the Club….
Peter thinks the present committee is a good one and JG is an excellent man but he has not quite enough initiative. Apparently some people have been saying that Peter wanted all the power in the Club and have not appreciated all his work. Too bad! Peter really has been splendid giving every thing for nothing. He is a marvellous organiser. He has been reading Shakespeare and appears particularly struck by Hamlet in which he sees himself and by Othello which he says has a marvellous plot. Sed satis de hoc: reliquos ordiamur in the immortal words of Cornelius Nepos.
Mr. Ahrnt now gives the Monday lecture. I was late waiting for Prof. Hicks to go in first. They do not always remember to ring bells and kept talking until 3 when Ahrnt was made by the stamping to stop.
John Houghton had left a note for me to go to the Madrigal Society. We went and sang four. There were not many people there so it was hard work except when I shared a copy with Betty Handcock who is a great lead.
Then I went to the Chaplaincy which has been miraculously transformed painted, new lino, new cupboards, stove cleaned. A telephone has been installed which works. There is a new floor in the lecture room. Everything works more smoothly since Mr. Wright became chairman of the house committee. T. Coady was playing the harmonium. He played part of “in dulce Jubilo”and asked about my “Ave Verum” We ate toast with Joan and Shirley…it snowed back to Sedgley again and so to bed.