1 December 1984 – 30 September 1985
THEMES: Concern over the CPGB split between the “Eurocommunists” of the party apparatus and the “hard-line” group round the “Morning Star” daily paper: “I am a bit depressed by the CP thing, for though it is many years since I ceased to have confidence in the leadership, this wholesale Gadarene rush is beyond the beyond (12.2); “I told [her] that I was taking no part in the squabbles in the CP and if the whole thing fell to bits I would carry on my own work as a member of no party at all.” (3.10) – Attending the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate Irish Chartist leader Bronterre O’Brien in Islington (12.15) – Looking for books by Lucretius and Josephus for his comic epic, “Elephants Against Rome” (12.8) – Makes a temporary will, “just in case of accidents” (12.20) –Arrest of Dr Elizabeth O’Shea under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1.4) – Interacting in Liverpool with George Davies of the NCP: “George Davies is sound enough and genuine enough, but like most communists takes himself too seriously. This is what ruins them again and again.” (1.11) – Building up the Liverpool Connolly Association branch by means of, inter alia, a series of political lectures by Irish women (2.7) – Declines nomination as “Irishman of the year” in Britain by the weekly “Irish Post” (3.3) – Writing on “Class and Nation in Ireland” for the book “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front” (3.8) – Planning a conference on “The Defence of the Nation State” for November 1985 (4.20) – Difficulties in managing the transition from one national organiser to another in the Connolly Association London office, and problems over the application for a grant from the Greater London Council for the “Irish Democrat” bookshop (passim) – Lectures in Belfast on “Marx and Ireland” (5.6) – Comment on some views of Peadar O’Donnell: “He was all green-republican in London. He is all red communist here, and repeated his old nonsense that the Irish in Britain could do nothing and that the Irish Centres were an obstacle to progress. Against all experience he thinks the drive to free Ireland will come from British Labour. The only such drive is that being carried out by George Davies and he could do nothing without the help of the Irish community, and fortunately knows it. I tried to explain this to the old CPGB. They couldn’t see it because their outlook was fundamentally chauvinist. I also tried to explain it to the CPI, and probably convinced Dublin, to which so many CA people returned. And now the old CPGB is in a state of collapse, I think Belfast would agree. On the other hand, Peadar is bound to some extent to be living in the past and could not be expected to appreciate the depth of the crisis in the CP. For my part I am willing to keep on good relations with all genuine elements in hope of helping to put something together from the bits and fragments likely to be left lying around.” (5.9) – Concern at the Spinelli plan for European Political Union: “Each side [ie. in the internal CPGB dispute] claims to be standing on the ‘British Road to Socialism’. But their government is signatory to an international treaty not to have socialism. Yet they ignore that fact and construct their neat blue-prints”(5.16) – Concern at the danger of world war: “[She] sent me a copy of a book on Stalin by a Japanese…The burden of this book is that from the very start Stalin set the USSR on the path of ‘great nation chauvinism’. Now there is a case to answer. But has the Japanese the right to bring it? It has been clear to me for a long time that someday the Russians will have to ‘come down’ about Stalin. I do not think anybody can do it for them. The danger is coining the slogans under which the Third World War could be fought.”(5.26) – Funeral of former CA treasurer Mrs Toni Curran (6.5) – Organising a conference in Liverpool on Pollution and Militarization of the Irish Sea (6.15) – “I want to find out when things went wrong”(6.14): “I went on reading the diaries of 1974-75. There is no question that the rot began to affect the Irish question in those years. A big factor was the departure of Sean Redmond. If I had been in the office all the time that might not have been so serious a blow. Then there was the honeymoon period between the CPI and the “Officials”, and Irene Brennan’s infatuation with Clann na hEireann. The rot set in from the skin – the top leadership was firm longest. The folly of Michael O’Riordan was pressing for that ‘Irish Committee’ when it was bound to be in control of Irene Brennan and the Clann na hEireanns.” (6.19) – Health concern at occasional nose-bleeds and eczema (6.21) – “There are lectures on Ireland starting up everywhere, but never once do I hear a word of recognition of the Connolly Association’s pioneering role.” (9.18)
Index to Volume 34: 1 December 1984 – 30 September 1985
[Editorial Note: In this and all the volumes of the Greaves Journal from No.28 to No.38 the Index is placed at the beginning rather than the end of each volume, following the summary of the main themes of the volume, the better to facilitate internet readers seeking knowledge of that particular volume’s contents.
The text of this Volume 34 of the Journal therefore follows rather than precedes the Index below.
In the Index references here and throughout, the month comes first and then the day of the month. Thus 6.7 means June 7th, 1.25 means January 25th, 12.4 means December 4th and so on. Where the entries in a particular volume extend beyond one year so that monthly dates are repeated, the figure (2) is attached to each entry for the second year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters:12.8, 1.18, 2.3, 3.26, 6.,5
Assessments of others: 2.11, 2.18, 3.5, 3.16, 3.30, 4.2, 4.11, 4.13, 5.24,
5.28, 6.8, 6.14, 6.18, 6.25, 6.27, 7.12, 8.6, 8.16, 9.1, 9.25
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 2.25, 7.4
Campaigning in Britain on civil liberties issues: 1.22
Campaigning in Britain for Irish reunification: 7.9
European supranational integration/the EEC: 1.22, 4.16, 4.19, 4.26,
4.30,5.20, 5.28, 6.17, 7.4, 7.8-9, 7.11
Holidays/cycle tours: 5.21-25
Journal and personal records: 6.19, 6.22
Meteorology, interest in: 1.13, 7.19, 8.11, 8.15
Self-assessments and personal plans: 12.2, 12.20, 1.23, 3.1-4, 3.9, 3.17,
3.26, 3.31,4.20, 5.7, 5.15, 5.28, 6.11, 6.19, 6.21, 7.16, 7.25, 8.2,
8.8, 8.10, 8.12, 8.20, 9.2, 9.12, 9.23
Verse: “Elephants Against Rome”:12.8, 12.20
Verse: “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”:
Organisation Names Index
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: 7.4, 7.8
Clann na hEireann: 6.19
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 12.1, 12.3-4, 12.9, 12.11, 12.14,
12.18, 1.6, 1.11, 1.14, 1.23, 1.25, 2.11, 3.17-18, 3.27, 4.3, 4.5, 4.16
4.25, 5.9, 5.12, 5.16, 5.26, 5.28, 6.16-17, 6.19, 6.23, 7.9, 7.11, 7.15,
7.17, 7.20-21, 7.24-25, 7.31, 8.1, 8.5-6, 9.5
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 1.18, 4.18, 5.8-9
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 12.9, 1.14, 1.25, 2.12, 2.27, 3.17,
4.16, 4.27, 6.19, 6.23, 7.4, 7.10, 7.15-16, 7.18, 7.22, 8.5, 8.7, 8.12
8.16, 8.31, 9.12, 9.21, 9.25
Federation of Irish Societies:
Greater London Council:1.13, 1.27, 2.7, 2.25, 2.28, 3.1, 3.3, 4.13, 5.15,
5.18, 7.20, 9.20, 9.25
International Socialists: 6.17
Irish in Britain Representation Group (IBRG): 1.4, 1.6, 1.27, 1.31, 2.7, 2.16-
17, 2.23, 5.8, 8.6, 8.12
Irish Labour Party: 4.19
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 6.14, 8.26
Labour Committee on Ireland:1.6, 1.21, 4.9, 4.18, 5.8, 7.5, 7.9, 8.12, 9.2
Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom: 4.14, 4.24, 9.4
National Council for Civil Liberties: 2.9, 2.23, 9.4
New Communist Party: 1.11, 4.15, 8.19
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Officials”(Sinn Fein the Workers Party/“Stickies”): 6.19, 7.31
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Provisionals”: 12.14, 5.11, 6.15
Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence: 5.8, 9.6
Troops Out Movement: 1.21
Personal Names Index
Anderson, Brian: 4.19
Arnison, Jim: 12.3, 12.9, 5.12 , 7.15, 8.7, 8.12
Askins, Jack: 12.9, 7.18
Arnot, R. Page: 12.19-20, 1.12
Asmal, Kader: 5.4
Barr, Andy: 6.16
Beauchamp, Kay: 4.13, 4.25, 9.5, 9.13
Bellamy, Ron and Mrs: 8.13
Benn, Tony: 5.28, 7.5
Bennett, Erna: 4.9
Bennett, Helen: 12.20, 6.12
Bennett, Jack and Anna: 7.24
Blevins, John: 12.19, 2.11, 2.14, 3.18, 3.28, 4.15, 6.23, 7.2, 8.7
Bloor, Geoffrey: 2.19
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 12.20, 12.25, 12.28, 2.11-12, 2.16-17, 3.4, 3.6,
3.30, 4.13, 4.21, 4.27, 5.28, 6.7, 6.25, 6.28-29, 7.10, 7.25, 8.6, 8.12
9.2, 9.12, 9.20-21
Bond, Stella: 4.27, 7.25, 9.23
Bowers, Joe: 6.1, 6.16
Boyd, John: 3.17, 4.16, 4.26, 5.16, 6.5, 6.24, 6.27, 7.4, 7.6, 7.8, 7.12
Brennan, Irene: 2.9, 6.19, 8.3
Browne, Noel: 6.21
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 12.9, 3.16
Castle, Barbara, MP: 4.20
Charles, Wilf: 6.1
Chater, Tony: 12.21, 1.6, 1.14, 4.16, 5.16, 5.28, 6.12, 6.14, 7.24-26, 9.21
Cohen, Gerry: 5.12
Cole, Roger: 5.14
Collins, Martin: 4.9, 5.8
Connolly, James: 7.17
Corbyn Jeremy, MP: 12.16-17
Coughlan, Ann (Sister Regina): 6.2-4
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 12.4, 12.20, 12.23, 12.27, 1.3, 1.5, 2.14, 3.11,
4.19, 5.4-6, 5.26, 6.2, 6.16, 6.19, 6.21, 6.28, 7.9, 7.11, 7.24, 8.14
Cowman, Eddie: 12.21, 1.28, 2.16, 5.4, 8.8, 8.16, 8.23-24, 8.26-27
Cronin, Sean: 1.3
Crowe, Michael: 12.9, 5.6, 7.21
Cunningham, Charlie: 3.17, 4.13, 7.20, 7.22
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 12.4, 12.28, 4.13, 4.17, 5.11, 5.28, 6.5,
6.13,6.24-25, 7.6, 7.12
Curran, Gerard: 2.11, 3.28, 3.30, 4.12, 4.13, 5.11, 5.28, 5.31,6.5, 6.13,
6.25-26, 7.6, 7.12
Curtis, Liz: 7.9
Davies, George: 12.3, 1.11, 2.7, 3.27, 4.14, 4.18, 4.24, 5.8-9, 6.14, 7.5, 7.9,
8.2, 8.5, 8.12, 8.19-20, 9.4
Deighan, Joseph: 12.25, 1.17, 5.2, 5.7, 6.16, 7.15, 8.16, 8.21, 8.23
Devine, Pat (Jnr.): 6.23
Devlin, Bernadette: 7.7
Digges, Alec: 3.3, 3.16, 5.31
Dillane, Mairin: 8.7, 8.12, 9.21
Doherty, Pat: 5.9
Donaghey, Tony: 4.14, 9.4
Dover, Lea: 1.28, 2.23, 7.27, 7.31
Durkin, Tom: 12.1, 12.23, 1.11, 1.14, 1.24, 4.25, 7.15
Egelnick, Max: 12.14, 1.24
Fitt, Gerry, MP: 1.17, 3.20
FitzGerald, Garret, TD:7.28
Freeman, John: 7.3, 7.9, 7.18
Fyrth, Jim: 2.28, 5.15
Gaster, Jack: 12.20, 8.5
Gibson, John and Veronica: 12.3, 2.11, 3.18, 7.3
Gilbert, Tony: 4.13, 4.25
Gill, Ken: 7.15, 7.19, 7.24-25
Gilhooley, Paul:12.14, 1.26, 2.2. 3.30-31, 4.13, 4.16, 4.21, 4.24-25, 4.27,
4.29, 5.10, 5.19, 5.28, 6.8-9, 6.11-14, 6.19, 6.21, 6.25-26, 6.28-29,
7.2, 7.9, 7.15, 7.24-25, 7.27, 8.2, 8.14, 8.16-17, 8.22, 8.24, 8.27-29
9.1, 9.5, 9.18, 9.20-23, 9.25
Gilmore, George: 6.21
Glackin, Eddie: 4.18
Gordon, Noel:12.4, 1.25-26, 1.28, 2.2-3, 2.5, 2.11, 2.13, 2.17, 2.25, 3.2,
3.8, 3.16-18, 3.21-22, 3.25, 3.27, 3.30-31, 4.11-12, 4.25, 5.28, 5.31,
Goulding, Bill: 8.15, 8.19, 9.6
Goulding, Cathal: 1.3
Guinan, Martin: 6.1
Halliday, Bryce: 1.30
Hardy, Bill:12.21, 1.20. 7.20, 9.20
Hatton, Derek: 7.5
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 5.6
Heffer, Eric, MP: 3.20, 7.11
Henrotte, Ester: 4.2
Henry, Jack: 2.9
Hewitt, Patricia: 2.9
Hickman, Mary: 7.9
Hobsbawm, Eric: 12.18-19, 1.16, 5.15
Hodge, Alan: 12.30, 1.3
Huggett, Steve: 2.12, 3.2, 3.17, 4.16
Humphreys, Sheila: 2.7
Jacques, Martin: 7.17, 7.19, 9.4
James, Miriam: 12.15, 9.1-2,
Jamison, Joe: 3.27, 7.11, 8.12
Johnston, Mairin: 3.23, 3.24
Johnston, Roy: 4.19, 5.28
Joseph, Sir Keith, MP: 7.1
Keable, Ken: 9.25
Kelly, Dalton: (See Ó Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kibble, Brett: 8.23
Livingstone, Ken, MP: 2.28
Logan, Desmond: 6.18
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónall: 8.21, 8.23
MacBride, Sean: 5.14
McCafferty, Nell: 2.7
McClelland, John: 5.6
McClelland, Mary: 12.19, 6.23, 7.9, 7.2
McDonald, Jim: 5.4
McGahey, Mick: 1.12, 9.4
McGurk, John: 7.9
McLaughlin, Eamon: 6.18, 6.21
McLennan, Gordon: 12.1, 12.19, 1.23, 3.28, 4.16, 5.12, 5.16, 5.28, 6.12,
6.14, 6.17, 7.26, 9.21
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 12.4
MacLua, Brendan: 3.1, 3.3
McMurray, Helen: 3.21, 3.28, 4.12, 5.28
Markievicz, Counrtess: 2.10
Morgan, Barney: 3.22
Morrissey, Michael: 1.18, 5.6
Mortimer, Michael:12.23, 12.27, 4.4, 5.29, 6.30, 8.16, 8.27, 8.29, 9.2, 9.19
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton:12.10, 3.21, 5.26, 6.22, 7.17,
7.23, 8.4, 8.10, 8.13, 9.19
Morton, Alisoun: 12.10, 5.26, 7.17, 8.10
Mozart, Wolfgang. A.: 1.18
Mulligan, Peter: 1.27, 2.2, 2.13
Myant, Chris: 1.17, 2.14, 4.27, 6.1, 6.12, 8.7
Nevin, Donal: 7.17
Newens, Stan, MP: 9.13
Nicholson, Fergus: 4.24, 9.5, 9.25
Nolan, Dermot: 4.24, 5.4-5, 5.8, 6.15, 9.3
Ó Ceallaigh, Daltún and Deirbhle (Murphy): 8.26
O’Connell, Bernard: 8.14-15, 9.6
O’Doherty, Pat: 5.9, 7.24
O’Donnell, Peadar: 5.8, 6.21
O’Donohue, Pat: 2.2, 2.11-12, 2.17, 3.2, 3.25, 3.31, 5.28, 6.27, 7.12
O’Dowling, Elsie, née Timbey: 4.16
O’Grady, Joe: 3.20, 4.4, 4.15, 4.22, 8.27
O’Herlihy, Callaghan (Cal): 1.5
Ó Loingsigh, Micheál and Eibhlín: 5.6
Ó Murchú, Eoin: 1.11, 6.15, 9.3
O’Neill, Siobhan: 6.18, 6.21
O’Riordan, Michael: 6.15, 7.26
O’Shea, Dr Elisabeth,“Betty”: 1.6, 1.10, 1.27, 2.17, 4.11, 5.27, 6.1
Ó Snodaigh, Pádraig: 2.7
Pocock, Gerry: 12.3
Powell, Enoch, MP: 5.20
Power, Colm: 12.4, 2.25, 3.6, 3.11, 5.6, 7.18
Power, Niall: 1.6, 5.8, 7.7, 7.9
Ramelson, Bert: 1.17
Redmond, Sean: 4.18, 5.8, 6.1, 6.19, 7.11, 8.12, 9.6
Redmond, Tom: 4.18, 9.3
Reid, Betty: 5.26
Rendle, Philip: 12.14, 1.15, 1.26, 2.2, 4.16, 4.27, 7.9, 7.15, 8.6-7,
Richards, Dai: 3.27
Rosser, Mary: 3.30, 7.15
Rothstein, Andrew: 12.19-20, 1.12
Saidlear, Muriel: 12.4, 5.4-6, 5.28, 8.24
Salieri, Antonio: 1.18
Scargill, Arthur: 9.4
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 3.23, 5.11, 7.21-22
Small, Frank: 3.16
Smith, George: 2.9, 9.4
Speed, Ann: 6.1
Spinelli, Altiero: 3.19, 4.16, 4.19
Stallard, Lord “Jock”, former MP: 8.31
Stewart, Jimmy: 5.6, 6.15, 9.1, 9.3
Sullivan, Chris: 3.17, 9.21
Tate, Jane: 12.1, 12.9, 12.20, 1.6, 2.11-13, 2.17-18, 2.28, 3.3, 3.8, 3.21,
4.13, 4.16, 4.21, 5.12, 6.2, 6.21-22, 6.24, 6.30, 7.18, 7.20, 7.25,
8.14, 8.22, 9.20, 9.23
Taylor, AJP: 12.15
Temple, Nina: 5.12
Thatcher, Margaret, MP: 5.20
Trask, Roger: 7.27
Walsh, Tom: 1.6-7, 1.22, 4.10-11
Ward, Bert: 2.14
Ward, Margaret: 2.24
Westacott, Fred: 6.14
Wilkinson, Brian: 12.23, 12.25, 5.9, 5.16, 7.3
Wilson, Fr Desmond: 5.6
Woddis, Jack: 6.14, 8.13
Wynn, Bob: 12.28, 4.13, 6.5, 6.13-14, 6.24, 6.26-27, 7.6, 7.12
December 1 Saturday (Liverpool): I spoke to Tony Coughlan in the morning and later to Mairin Johnston [former wife of Roy Johnston in Dublin and an active feminist], who will think about doing a lecture in Liverpool. Irish Microfilms told me the parcel was posted on Thursday. It was a miserably chilly wet day with a North wind and very little daylight.
In the afternoon Noel Gordon [ie. the full-time Connolly Association national organiser in London] rang up to give me the news that the CP crux has dramatically worsened [ie. the policy conflict between the CPGB Executive and its General Secretary Gordon McLennan and the “Morning Star” group, led by that daily newspaper’s editor Tony Chater, and their respective supporters and opponents, the former being conventionally called “Euro-communists” and the latter “hard-liners”]. Apparently the E.C. [ie. the CPGB Executive] met last night and went on till near midnight. Then, bless us, they telephoned round, getting people out of their beds to tell them their membership had been suspended and that the matter would be considered at a further meeting next month. Among those suspended are Tom Durkin and Roger Trask [Durkin was a leading Irish trade unionist in the London building trade and a member of Brent Trades Council; Trask was active in the National Union of Students]. Noel Gordon heard some of it from Jane Tate who was at a “Morning Star” bazaar this morning, and in the afternoon Hourigan came in to pay some “Irish Democrat” money [Hourigan was a building worker]. The news had been reported to his building trade “advisory group” this morning, and the meeting had broken up in disorder. It looks as if they would prefer to lose the party than lose their control of it. There must be some money left, but the thing is nonsense and seems to be moving irresistibly to a split. Noel Gordon tells me there are moves to establish “Morning Star” support groups. Obviously Gordon McLennan et al dare not expel Chater for fear of losing the paper at once, so he has them pinned. Apparently it was Peter Carter who broke the news to the builders. The reason given for the suspensions was breach of discipline – Tom Durkin had moved the resolution at a Congress which continued illegally after Gordon McLennan and Co. had left the room [This was the annual conference of the London District CPGB, which had been told not to elect a new committee and from which General Secretary Gordon McLennan had walked out along with others. See Vol.33]. I am put in mind of the Socialist Party of America that expelled thousands and left itself a ghost of its former self, to preserve a mistaken policy. It is hard to overturn an established leadership [as was being attempted by the “hard-line” dissidents supporting the “Morning Star” newspaper at the time].
December 2 Sunday: A somewhat better day today, and still mild, though with a clearer night sky that presages frost. Only the marrows have been touched so far. I cut coriander leaves for this evening’s curry. Coriander is in flower, also borage, nasturtiums – now beginning to fail – Brompton stock and other things. I stayed in all day and did not waste money on a Sunday paper. I am a bit depressed by the CP thing, for though it is many years since I ceased to have confidence in the leadership, this wholesale Gadarene rush is beyond the beyond.
December 3 Monday: I read in the “Manchester Guardian” more details of the CP shenanigans and went into town for the “Morning Star”. I must say I was shocked at the extent of the damage. There have been 22 suspensions, and mostly of people of considerable standing. The North-West District Committee has been forbidden to meet and that wretched political degenerate Pocock has been sent to take over. I would not grant him great ability and when even Askins wrote a letter attacking him, it is clear that Arnison is by no means alone. Askins has always been a pillar of the establishment. I had a word with John Gibson in the shop and he thinks BIevins is reasonably safe [John Gibson was a Liverpool Englishman who was an active CPGB member and also in the Connolly Association; the shop was presumably the local left-wing bookshop, and Blevins was one of the two full-time CP workers in Liverpool]. But Jane Tate, who is unwell with a cold and an ear infection, says Trask and two others have been given instant dismissal and are now out of work. Gibson said he was a friend of George Davies, who used to be on the NW District Political Committee [At this time Davies was working full-time with the breakaway New Communist Party, established in 1977. He lived in Blackburn and had frequent contact with Desmond Greaves during the last five years of Greaves’s life].
December 4 Tuesday: The frost did not materialise, so the vegetables are still available. I did some clearing up, with much more to be done, and went into Birkenhead for the “Morning Star”. Then I saw that Trask and two others had indeed been dismissed, though there was talk of terms. If these people were ever the Government they’d Joe Stalin the lot of us, though they’re always blowing off about Stalin. I rang to see how Toni Curran is [Mrs Antoinette (Toni) Curran was a former Connolly Association Treasurer and long-time member who was now terminally ill with cancer]. This damned radiation treatment is making her feel thoroughly ill. I wonder if it ever does any good. She had been to a “Morning Star” bazaar which she said “lacked its former glory” for “there was not so many people and there wasn’t the atmosphere.” She told me that the GLC had been advertising in the “Irish Post” and asking ethnic minorities to put in requests for funding for the next financial year. Noel Gordon should have seen this. I rang up Jane Tate about it, but she is still in bed, so I’ll have to try to move Noel, who incidentally very seldom rings up now. At the same time he’s well intentioned. It’s just that he’s not able for so difficult a job. I’ll have to go to London more till spring.
I had an extraordinary letter from Colm Power [a former CA member now working in Dublin] which was nothing but a long, sustained diatribe against Cathal [ie. his old friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] whom he accuses of laziness and conceit and (one would gather) insulting him. Tony Coughlan used to call Cathal “the embodiment of indolence”, so perhaps the first accusation has something in it. But he has an exacting job as a union official. As for being conceited, that is ridiculous. But what am I going to say without offending the hypersensitive Colm? I spoke to Muriel Saidlear who said there had been some incident in a pub after a meeting when Cathal had been buying drinks and had left Colm Power out, and there are one or two other incidents, all absolutely trifling.
December 5 Wednesday: The mild weather continues. Ashford surfaced in the afternoon, tied a ladder to a drain spout and then disappeared. He has a vast capacity for stringing a job out. Noel Gordon told me that influenza is rampant in London.
December 6 Thursday: No Ashford today. I have been trying to telephone Dr Roe[ie. the youth hostel warden at Dolgoch in Snowdonia] but though there is ringing there is no reply.
December 7 Friday: I still could not get De Roe, so rang Cardiff [ie. the Welsh office of the Youth Hostel Association]. I learnt that the carpenter who had been at Bryn Poeth Uchaf – I presume that was the man – had driven a nail in such a position that Dr Roe can ring outwards, but inward calls ring in the exchange. I mended the electric blanket, thus saving myself a few bob, though to be sure I hate electrical work. It is fiddling because of the bad design of all its components.
December 8 Saturday: I went into the city and bought papers. I am looking for Lucretius and Josephus in the Loeb edition but can’t find them in Liverpool [This was presumably in connection with his work on his comic epic, “Elephants Against Rome”, where he draws upon these writers]. So I had a meal at the Athena and came back.
December 9 Sunday: I decided not to go away till the new year. I rang Jane Tate in the morning. She had Michael Crowe with her [A longstanding CA member who was a lecturer in French in Sunderland]. He told me he had been speaking to Noel Harris and Stan Cole of Manchester (whose nonsense wrecked Lenny Draper’s regime in that city) [Cole and the local CPGB had failed to support Draper and the Connolly Association in their efforts at restarting the CA branch in Manchester a few years earlier; see previous volumes] and Cole told him that the Lancashire committee has only 4 “Euros” out of 28 members, so no wonder they’ve had to put in sequesterers! Stan Cole told him they are making no mistakes, not passing resolutions but allowing the groundswell to rock the leadership. If Cole is taking the decisions I would not guarantee them against mistakes! But Arnison and Askins are experienced operators. I had a word with Roy Johnston and later with Flann Campbell and Mary Campbell whom I want to give a talk in Liverpool [Greaves was seeking to line up a series of women speakers for the Liverpool branch meetings at this time]. Flann told me that the Bronterre O’Brien plaque unveiling takes place next Sunday [James Bronterre O’Brien, 1805-1864, born in Co. Longford, Ireland, was a radical Chartist leader and journalist]. I passed this on to Jane Tate. I seem to have spent the whole day reading newspapers!
December 10 Monday: Ashford appeared, then ran out of tiles! In the evening Alan Morton rang [Professor Alan Morton, the botanist, was Desmond Greaves’s oldest friend from his university days]. I asked him to write an article on the Bhopal scandal [a chemical disaster in India at the time that killed several thousand people], but he told me that Freda Morton was ill and in bed for the first time for thirty years, with what he considered to be a viral throat infection that the antibiotics provided by the doctor do not affect. He thinks she is improving. On the whole his is a tale of gloom. John Morton’s incursion into insurance selling came to nothing, but he has learned a little more “push”. Alisoun still can’t get a job and has not been well. His own eyes are no worse, but there is not much optimism there. Then Barney Morgan rang up. His papers have not arrived, and Joe O’Grady’s social (the writers’ group) is cancelled.
December 11 Tuesday: It was much colder this morning and though my garden was not affected, there was frost about. The amazing thing is the survival of the Physalis, with large green seed sacks, but only tiny fruit within. This is the first time I have had it fruit at all. But I fear there’ll be frost tonight. The sky is too clear. I went into town and bought the “Morning Star” which contained a letter (justifiably) attacking “Marxism Today”, that rubbishy rag [Edited by Martin Jacques, this was the influential organ of the “Eurocommunist” element in the CPGB internal dispute at the time]. But I didn’t get much done. The microfilms arrived. They told me they posted them on Thursday 29th November. I had intended going away on the 30th when the cheap rail fare was in operation. But I waited as I did not want them to go astray. Now I see they were not posted until last Thursday, December 6th, and I have had a week wasted thanks to this damned lie. I will not be in a hurry paying – there is no invoice with them. I had a word with Pat Bond and had a letter from Roy Johnston.
December 12 Wednesday: The expected frost did not materialise. The Tropaeolum leaves are still flowering though there are now no flowers forming, and the borage and Brompton stock is flowering. Barney Morgan came at 1 pm. Later I started on the paper. An article came from Brian Wilkinson.
December 13 Thursday (London): I caught the 11.30 to Euston and went to the office. Noel Gordon was there and later Helen McMurray arrived and we went out for a meal.
December 14 Friday: I went down Charing Cross Road, but the bookshops have gone to hell and the worst is Foyles. I got nothing I wanted and will have to order. In the afternoon I went into Marx House. There is a young fellow there who didn’t know me. “Are you a member of the library?” “I am, these fifty years.” A figure stirred in the background at this, and who should come out but Max Egelnick whom I recruited into the CP in Golders Green forty years ago. He mentioned it to the young fellow and said, “So now you see the cause of all the trouble”. I never thought of him having a sense of humour, but perhaps he has recovered it after escaping from the deadening atmosphere of 75 Farringdon Road [where the “Morning Star”, previously the “Daily Worker”, was published].
There was to have been a social in the evening, but when Noel Gordon got to the public house he was told we couldn’t have the room. So we packed two dozen people into Jane Tate’s flat and the musicians tootled and Pat Bond brought in drinks. He is a bit better, I think. There was no Charlie Cunningham or Flann Campbell, or indeed Philip Rendle, who does little with us now. We saw young Gilhooley yesterday, and Noel Gordon afterwards told me about the London District “Irish Committee”. Philip Rendle is chairman. When the last meeting was called Paul Gilhooley wanted a discussion on the E.C. clamp down. Philip Rendle, though in a minority of one, ruled it out of order and when they insisted on discussing it declared the meeting closed down and left the room. They went on with the meeting but Rendle came back with (I think) McKee. He told them that the meeting was “illegal” but when they refused to move changed his tactics. He was very sorry but they would have to leave the premises for “security reasons”. A number of party cards had been stolen. Rendle takes the view that whatever the E.C [ie. the Executive Committee of the CPGB] says must be supported, else the whole thing would be in chaos. “It’s in chaos now,” says Noel Gordon. For democratic centralism to work – indeed for any democracy to work – there must be a strong element of consensus. And if this breaks down, then the democracy breaks down and norms of behaviour dissolve.
December 15 Saturday (Liverpool): In the morning Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray and I went to the unveiling of the plaque to commemorate Bronterre O’Brien, which was unveiled by AJP Taylor [the well-known historian], who looks very old and frail. Then there was a reception in the Central Library [ie. in Islington, London]. There were people there that brought back all kinds of episodes from the past. Miriam Jones I first met when she worked in the Statistics Office in Lower Castle Yard – that would be 1946 or ‘47. Then there was Brendan Redmond, Sean Redmond’s younger brother, now 38 but looking 31 or 32. Gery Lawless was there, now a highly respected Councillor. “It’s strange to see you having a polite conversation with Gery Lawless,” says Brendan. I remember him trying to get the Labour supporters to storm the May Day platform in Hyde Park, and if I remember right they nearly knocked George Brown [the leading Labour politician and former Minister] off it. That was the last May Day the Labour Party had. Then there was Chris Maguire, our Northampton secretary in the middle fifties. Flann Campbell and Mary Campbell were there, and that dates back to the war years. Ann Gilman was there and the Workers Music Association choir sang some spirited Chartist songs, one, composed by John Jordan (in practical affairs pretty impossible), which was not bad at all. Then the principal Sinn Fein man was there – very amiable. He told Noel Gordon that they were breaking with the Trotskies. Quite a number of the Councillors there knew me from my many years in London, but I did not always know who they were – they weren’t Councillors when I knew them. One suspects, mind you, that though there has been revolution at Tammany Hall, it still remains Tammany Hall, but now it is the “Left” that get the free drinks on the ratepayers of Islington. Incidentally, McLaughlin told Noel Gordon that there is to be a meeting in January organised not by Sinn Fein (which has been declared defunct in England) but by the “Wolfe Tone Society”. I returned to Liverpool.
December 16 Sunday: I stayed in most of the day, except to buy newspapers. The BBC was making a song and dance about Jeremy Corbyn having invited McLaughlin [of Provisional Sinn Fein] to the House of Commons – it is a marvel they weren’t afraid to let him into Islington Library! [See the previous entry]
December 17 Monday: The papers and the BBC blew up the McLaughlin thing to preposterous proportions. I wrote to Corbyn. In the afternoon Barney Morgan called for a few minutes but had nothing of great importance to say. I had a few words with Jane Tate and Stella Bond on the telephone.
December 18 Tuesday: Nothing much happened today. Ashford presented me with a bill for £750.50 for his roof-mending activities. I had a few words with Noel Gordon. The “Manchester Guardian” had a full-page article on the shenanigans in the CPGB, and said the leaders fear that they may be overthrown next November. It seems that that rat Hobsbawm is more influential than one would have thought [ie. Eric Hobsbawm the historian]. He is pictured, as they say, in the act of laying down the law. But then newspapers select pictures for their own purposes.
December 19 Wednesday: I decided to go into the city and call into Shaw Street and take out Mary McClelland to lunch [She was a full-time CP worker there, Blevins being the other]. BIevins was there and we exchanged a few words. She showed me two articles making a frontal attack on “Euro-communism” written jointly by Andrew Rothstein and Robin Page Arnot [both prominent and long-standing CPGB intellectuals]. I doubt whether Arnot can have done much on it. It followed much of what Rothstein has said or written to me from time to time, though it did cross my mind that a younger pen may have been involved. I read them in today’s and yesterday’s “Morning Star” and told Mary McClelland that frankly I agreed with them. I am of course not equally sure of the wisdom of publishing them just now. That would in my opinion be Chater’s decision, and according to the “Manchester Guardian” his faction are spoiling for a fight, whereas “Hard Left” are not [“Hard Left” was probably the CPGB faction known as “Straight Left”].Anyway these things have their own logic. If this forces Gordon McLennan to argue the thing out on policy it will be to the good.
Mary McClelland told me that during his period of office Kaye [A previous CPGB organiser in Liverpool] allowed their club to contract great debts to the brewery and that they have been taken to court and have lost their building. London will not bail them out, they suspect because they are “hard liners”. But that may not be so. They have to the end of the month to find somewhere else. Apparently there are plenty of members prepared to snipe at them and she and Blevins do not get it all their own way on the committee. She asked what I thought of Hobsbawm. I replied that I thought he was a punk.
December 20 Thursday: There has still been no frost, though it is forecast. This is surely the first completely frost-free autumn, for winter begins tomorrow. There is still borage in flower, and coriander leaves to be picked. I spoke to Stella Bond in the morning. She says Page Arnot’s and Rothstein’s articles have caused quite a sensation. She confirms what Jack Bennett told me Helen Bennet had told him, namely that Farringdon Road, which houses the “Morning Star” and the London District Office, is like a madhouse [Belfastman Jack Bennett was an old friend and political colleague of Greaves’s who worked on the “Belfast Telegraph” in the 1960s and 1970s and also wrote the influential “Claude Gordon” column in the “Sunday Press” during those years. He later moved to Dublin to work on the “Irish Press” Helen Bennett, his daughter, worked on the “Morning Star” at this time]. She was there this morning. You have to say whom you want to see, then wait while they are telephoned. They then come down, escort you to their office, and when you leave they escort you to the door! I have no idea how it will resolve itself. Either there will be mass expulsions and a rump congress in November, or the split will take place then. Ashford has a nearly finished so I gave him £250. The wretched man always wants cash. He says he is retired, and I suppose he does not want to have his pension cut. I also wrote to Gasters asking them to draft me a temporary will, leaving everything to Tony Coughlan, and appointing Pat Bond and Jane Tate executors, just in case of accidents. For as Cathal said to me in Dublin, “Seventy-one is a good age.” Of course I could have done a great deal more if I had not been constantly short of money. I would simply buy the books I need and get busy. But that is how they silence you! I am developing a filthy cold, due to staying up till 3 am. every night revising the first canto of my “epic”.
December 21 Friday: I went in to the city and bought supplies, though I am snuffling and sneezing all the time. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” that the battle is in full swing in the CP, though actually Chater is getting out an improved paper. In the evening Pat Bond rang. Noel Gordon had fixed a Standing Committee without consulting him and has gone off to Belfast for 18 days without making any provision for the manning of the bookshop. He has a curious streak of irresponsibility. Pat Bond also told me that Bill Hardy’s estate was valued at £100,000 but is burdened with debts to the Inland Revenue. However we should get an advance of £5,000 next month, and perhaps another £5,000 as final settlement. The application for £25,500 from the GLC has been passed by the Cultural Committee and goes before the Finance Committee at about the same time. I told Pat Bond that, though he is a “nice fellow”, I don’t want to keep Noel Gordon and hope that the prospect of money does not attract him. I also told him I hoped to get Eddie Cowman back, and in any case would prefer to get somebody from Ireland, independent of the currents that flow over here. I had (I did not say this to Pat Bond) thought of Colm Power, but he is too sensitive to occupy a position of responsibility. You need a hide like a rhinoceros!
December 22 Saturday: I did precious little – make meals and eat them was about the sum of it. I still had a cold, but I don’t think it is going to be as bad as I feared. I listened to a lively “Messiah” in the evening.
December 23 Sunday: The weather remains very mild – middle fifties – though still the cold is prophesied. The garden is à l’Octobre. I am hoping there will be a rocket and red chicory available for Thursday when Tony Coughlan is coming and I have invited Michael Mortimer to dinner. A letter came from Brian Wilkinson commenting on the suspension of Tom Durkin and saying he was glad he got out when he did.
December 24 Monday: The cold took a turn for the worse, but I still had to go out and get things in. In the evening all I could do was sit in front of the fire and doze on and off, and I didn’t even feel like a drink before I went to bed.
December 25 Tuesday: I spent most of the day dozing in front of the fire, but felt much better in the evening. If you had to lose a day this is the one best spared, as there is nothing doing and only nonsense on the radio, nonsense and hypocrisy. All the same I am now behindhand with things I need to do. Joe Deighan rang at 1 pm. He told me Pat Bond has been asking him to write things for the “Democrat”. I said I would be happy to publish anything he wrote, but I am finding Pat Bond a damned nuisance. He is the total individualist. This is why he could never build a movement round him. He went to Yorkshire and promises me pictures and God knows what. But I get no warning, no trace of consultation. It is all his bright ideas – after I have arranged for Brian Wilkinson to send me a mining story from South Wales. I don’t want to give him another heart attack. It’s impossible to speak to him as he can’t keep his temper. And of course he’s retired and with nothing to do but cook up stunts. I notice he doesn’t like Noel Gordon’s leaving the bookshop on his hands. That means sitting there without any glamour. I might adopt the tactic of delaying for a month anything I’m not warned of.
December 26 Tuesday: The first frost of the season prostrated the Tropaeolums. Strangely enough the Tetragonia was unaffected, though I am not cutting it and the Physalis, though attacked, did not wilt so instantaneously as the Tropaeolum. Another day spent in front of the fire.
December 27 Thursday: I was somewhat better today, but this is the filthiest cold in years. At any rate some kind of physical energy has returned. Michael Mortimer arrived at 7 pm., and we expected Tony Coughlan to be delayed, but he caught a tricky connecting train at Chester and arrived at 7 pm. I had made a large curry, so we ate, drank and talked. Michael Mortimer, who began as an electrician, told me he was never taught English grammar at school and to this day does not know the difference between a preposition and a conjunction or what a participle is. It is quite astonishing. Now the generation of ignoramuses is teaching an even more illiterate generation. Tony Coughlan remarked that Michael is still very “cut up” about the loss of his wife. “Perhaps you’ll find some attractive young mot, ” says Tony. “I will not”, replied Michael, with an air of determination and finality.
December 28 Friday: Before Tony Coughlan left for London in the morning Pat Bond had telephoned. Gerry Curran seems to have cooked up some arrangement with him to publish Donal Kennedy on Irish Shipping on page 8. Add to this he links it up with the “Irish Rover” – his intellection seldom rises above the level of a schoolboy pun. Of course I will cut the nonsense out. But having a stupid man around with time on his hands is the divil. I think I will see if I can find one job for him. But he would probably argue that in his present state it would be too demanding and he’d prefer to go on interfering in everybody else’s. I had a word with Bob Wynn and Toni Curran. She told me that she had had a “rotten Xmas” and she feels thoroughly ill as a result of this radio-therapy. I remember the effect it had on Phyllis. She need not go to the hospital again until February. And we keep our fingers crossed until.
December 29 Saturday: I was well enough to do a little on the paper, but not much. It has reached the coughing stage.
December 30 Sunday: A little more on the paper. I bought Seymour-Smyth’s book on Robert Graves a few days ago and was looking up the references to Hodge that are scattered through the middle part [Alan Hodge was a student friend of Greaves’s when both were young men; they had a common interest in poetry. He associated with the poet Robert Graves. See Vol.2]. It struck me that when he went to Majorca to see Graves, he imagined himself Rimbaud going to Verlaine. He often used to mention this episode.
December 31 Monday: Tony Coughlan returned from London and, though I feared a relapse, I met him at Lime Street. Apparently these days everybody closes down on New Year’s Eve and we could not find a European restaurant open. I didn’t feel like Indian food, but it was that or nothing. Tony had seen Toni Curran and Bob Wynn had brought John Boyd. He had seen Pat Bond who had taken exactly £3 in the shop. A few days ago when he was playing the martyr at “having to go in” I told him he “hadn’t to go in”, as there’d be no customers and he only need put a notice, “closed till January 10th”, on the door and then forget about it. He then threw a righteousness fit. “That sort of morality was not good enough for him,” was the implication, although it might be good enough for irresponsible scaramouches like the rest of us. Still, one has to make allowances. The essential is that he shall not turn the whole organisation into his plaything, a sort of consolation prize for his battered condition. For if he gets away with it he will have everybody orbiting round him, and I am afraid that Noel Gordon would be quite happy to sit back and allow it.
January 1 Tuesday: I felt worn today, and once again sat by the fire, sleeping and reading. But I began to recover in the evening. Joe Deighan telephoned. I think the weather is turning cold. The one permanent feature of the climate seems the arrival of cold weather in the week after Christmas. I could do nothing on the paper.
January 2 Wednesday: I was somewhat better today and managed to get two pages off. But it was hard going and several times I stopped and had a sleep.
January 3 Thursday: A letter came from Sean Cronin [Former IRA Chief-of Staff and journalist, 1922-2011; the book was probably “Irish Nationalism”, 1981] , complaining in a friendly way that I had reviewed his book without taking care to see that he could not be accused of taking an unfair swipe at Tony Coughlan, who was described by the “Provisionals” as a “communist advisor” of Cathal Goulding [This is a reference to Coughlan’s role as secretary of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society in the mid-1960s, which encouraged the politicisation of the then Goulding-led Republicans. Sean Cronin had been chief-of-staff of the IRA at the time of its “Border Campaign” in the late 1950s]. I wrote a suitable reply. My mind keeps recurring to the death of Hodge, and I see that Bloor [A political friend from his young days, who lived locally] is no longer in the telephone book. There must be damned few of that little group still alive [ie. the group of student friends of Greaves’s who were interested in poetry and literary topics in the early 1930s; see Vols.1 and 2]. I haven’t seen Halliday again. Reading the Graves book confirms my opinion of the shallowness and emptiness of bourgeois literary life. Hodge was made for better than it and was therefore a pity. His pilgrimage to Graves would undoubtedly be based on Rimbaud/Verlaine, and he would also be influenced by my decision to “do what I wanted” and not what was wise. But I don’t think he published any verse in the end, apart from a joint volume with Graves.
January 4 Friday: I still have the cold – a full fortnight of it, though I think it is beginning to recede. Jane Tate is still not well; her bout of influenza left her slightly deaf. She says Noel Gordon left everything in a muddle, and letters “go leor” [ie. many of them] are piling up about things he hadn’t done. I also spoke with Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan rang up. He said Dr Maire O’Shea had been arrested under the PTA and asked would it be Betty O’Shea [She was a professional psychiatrist and a longstanding CA member]. I thought not, but then thought it might be. Later RTE published her denial that she had been arrested at all; also that she was in the IBRG [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group}. That made it more like her. He said Tom Walsh had been on to him and that Bob Parry [one of the Liverpool Labour MPs] was bestirring himself.
January 5 Saturday: Slowly the cold is getting better. I went into Birkenhead and saw snow. I would say it was freezing most of the day, but the flurries disappeared. If the Eastern counties are knee deep – and this looks like a serious cold snap – it will help the miners [who were then on strike]. Of course fuel is a problem. I doubt if I have more than 2 cwt. of anthracite, though I have plenty of timber, if I could get cutting it up. I’ll certainly have a savage electricity bill; but must get rid of this cold before I attempt to economise. I wrote to Cal O’Herlihy who, Tony Coughlan tells me, has decided to get married again. [Callaghan (Cal) O’Herlihy had been a fellow student with A. Coughlan at University College, Cork, in the 1950s. He became active in the Cork Unemployed Movement while at UCC and helped establish a College branch of the Irish Labour Party. He emigrated to England in 1957, a year before Coughlan did, and became secretary of the West London branch of the Connolly Association. It was he who introduced Coughlan to the Association. Soon after he drifted out of politics, taught economics at Cambridge and Queen’s University Belfast, for a period, then established his own statistical firm analysing business marketing trends. He remained friendly with Greaves and Coughlan. This was his third marriage, his two previous wives having died.]
January 6 Sunday: Today I felt I might be all right tomorrow. As with Jane Tate, this cold has been slow to mend. It did not freeze in the day, but looked somewhat like it at night. Niall Power rang up saying Betty O’Shea (going under the name Maire) had indeed been arrested and was held in Liverpool, and what was I going to do about it. I told him there was little enough I could do, before I learned more about it, but that Barney Morgan had told me that Tom Walsh had matters in hand. Niall Power says the authorities are trying to intimidate the IBRG. But I often think many of them bring things on themselves by their desire for publicity and undisciplined methods of work. However Niall Power thinks that in her case it is a mistake. She is not a Connolly Association member now, but in the IBRG and the Labour Committee on Ireland. I don’t think she has much idea. I told Niall Power of course that I would look into the affair and make sure she had a solicitor. I can’t help remembering however that when she was a member of our Executive Committee and we had prepared the expulsion of O’Shea’s rats, she was most anxious to warn them, but Jane Tate would not let her out of her sight!
Later Noel Gordon rang up saying he would be back in London tomorrow. Then Pat Bond rang up about Betty O’Shea, I told him Tom Walsh had it in hand. I spoke to Jane Tate, The Holborn CP branch is “lobbying” the E.C. when it meets next Saturday [Jane Tate was a member of this CP branch]. I told her I doubted the wisdom of this course. She said it was not “illegal”. Of course not. It might not be expressly contrary to the rules but I doubted Its effectiveness. When some wee group threatened to “picket” 283 Gray’s Inn Road because we would not meet their wishes in some way, I said, “Picket away!” We had taken our decision in the light of the situation as we judged it. I doubted if any of those who, according to rumour, wish to expel Chater and his assistant, will be deterred because of the vehemence of those they judged to be their opponents. The result would only be to identify those they should nip in the bud. And they should not be seen as the people driving towards a split. I told her I also thought it undesirable that the Irish question should be drawn into the organisational battle. Let it remain entirely a political issue. So she said she would turn over in her mind whether to suffer a particularly menacing relapse in the influenza she has been suffering from.
January 7 Monday: I rang London. Stella Bond told me Noel Gordon had not shown up. I also spoke to Jane Tate. He had made no attempt at an explanation. It is definitely Betty O’Shea who is in the Bridewell. I rang Tom Walsh who told me of his efforts with Bob Parry to provide doctors and solicitors [Tom Walsh was a leading figure in the Liverpool Irish community and a former manager of the Irish Centre there]. The snow is knee deep in London and tonight there was a sprinkling here. It looks like a bad winter, something I did not expect.
January 8 Tuesday: I anticipated a wretched day today, though it began well. When in Dublin I ordered these microfilm reels and was quoted £16 Irish each. I stated in the order that I wished to pay in Irish currency as last time I was quoted in Irish but received an invoice on which sterling was underlined. Well, six reels arrived, invoiced at £20 sterling. Last time I had already paid in Irish and their second invoice was a “try on”. This time I wrote to them reminding them of their quotation and asking if they had inadvertently reversed the value of the two currencies. Today they told me that the 50% surcharge was to ” help subsidise the Irish Libraries and universities,” but that they would in this case honour their quotation. So I saved £40. I had written on “Irish Democrat” paper!
The reason I anticipated trouble was the inch of snow I woke up to. I left the house at 9.30. No bus arrived till 9.50 and then I had to change at Birkenhead Central. The train left half an hour late, but caught a delayed earlier one at Crewe, so that I arrived at Derby early! I caught a slightly earlier bus than usual, and when I reached Ripley [in Derbyshire, to where he travelled each month to supervise the laying out of the “Irish Democrat” at Messrs Ripley Printers there] everything was waiting for me, so that I caught the express bus back to Derby and an earlier train than usual. There was one tense moment. At Kidsgrove an electric signal had failed. I had no relish for being stuck on top of the Pennines, but the driver seemed to have decided to chance moving off without a signal and we reached Crewe. I normally get the 8 o’clock, but this time took the 7.40 slow. I did not even need to take a taxi from Hamilton Square [ie. on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey, across from the city io Liverpool proper]. So though it was wretchedly cold, things went well enough.
January 9 Wednesday: A letter came from Alan Morton at Edge Hill college, Ormskirk, about a lecture I am to give there tomorrow [This was a different Alan Morton from his friend Professor Alan Morton, the botanist, in Edinburgh]. Later Michael Mortimer rang up about the same thing. Barney Morgan called in the afternoon, but I missed him. I was trying to get an Irish currency draft but couldn’t do so as the Irish Central Bank is on strike. It was not so cold today, but bad enough. Also, this was the first day I felt normal energies restored. I went into Birkenhead therefore.
January 10 Thursday: I went to Ormskirk where Michael Mortimer picked me up and drove me to Edge Hill College where I lectured to Alan Morton’s students [The Ormskirk Alan Morton lectured in sociology]. They all seem very very young and very unknowledgeable of the world! Also I think sociology is a load of nonsense – putting fancy names on the obvious and writing them up on a blackboard! Michael Mortimer drove me in to James Street. I see Betty O’Shea and Bill Grimes (I’ve no doubt it’s the same one; I can always tell an IRA man, and I was sure he was one) have been remanded to Risley. At the same time, granted Betty O’Shea is mad as a hatter, would she at her age enter a conspiracy to blow somebody up? Would she be mad enough for that? Speaking to Barney Morgan yesterday I speculated that she may have been involved in much the same way as May Hayes, allowing her rooms to be used for storage purposes. Would that be conspiracy? We will doubtless see.
January 11 Friday: I went into town and met George Davies at the AUEW. He told me of his plan to hold a conference in Blackburn on June 1st. He seems to know more than you would expect of the internal affairs of the CPGB, so somebody on the Political Committee must be “leaking” things. He was voicing suspicion of Eoin Ó Murchú, whose rise he described as “meteoric” [Eoin Ó Murchú was a member of the CPI in Dublin at the time, having left “Official” Sinn Fein/the Workers Party]. I told him he had no right to doubt Eoin till he blotted his copybook. My guess is that Eddie Glackin was soliciting NCP aid [ie. from the New Communist Party, which had broken away from the CPGB in 1977]. George Davies is sound enough and genuine enough, but like most communists takes himself too seriously. This is what ruins them again and again.
Later I rang Jane Tate who told me of the London developments. It would not surprise me if the CPGB was on its last legs – the E.C. has £2 million. How can anybody fight two million pounds? [The CPGB had sold its long-standing King Street offices in Convent Garden as well as other premises at this time and accumulated a significant amount of money that was available to finance pensions for its officer-holders on its dissolution in 1991].
George Davies told me that the “Morning Star” people invited the NCP [ie. the New Communist Party] to support them last year, but they declined. This year they have told them that unless the NCP comes up with them they cannot be sure of re-election in June [ie. re-election as a committee to manage the “Morning Star” at the regular meeting of the People’s Press Printing Society which owned that paper]. The E.C. are pulling out all stops. So he thinks they will support them this time. He sees no hope of Tom Durkin and the various left individuals from their having no unified strategy. Of course this aims at justifying Sid French and his breakaway [Sid French had led the breakaway from the CPGB and the formation of the New Communist Party in 1977]. He repeated that but for Gollan’s teaching he might well today be following Myant [John Gollan was the predecessor of Gordon McLennan as CPGB Secretary]. How he knew I don’t know – there might be a mole – but he says Thursday’s Political Committee decided to expel Chater and others, and the Executive Committee will endorse it tomorrow. He also says they will avoid calling a special Congress, probably avoid the election of fresh delegates for a regular Congress by the device of recalling that of November 1983, but with the key dissidents expelled. So we will see how good his information is. Now George Davies does not ask why should all this be happening now!
January 12 Saturday: The weather was cold, though not savage. I went into Birkenhead in the afternoon. Jane Tate sent me in a photostat of Rothstein’s and R. Page Arnot’s reply to Mick McGahey and Halverson. It is effective and they can hardly expel them.
January 13 Sunday: I stayed in all day. It was snowing. Just before Xmas Tony Coughlan said he expected a very cold winter. I thought not, arguing that this was most unusual after a hot summer. But his hunch seems to have fared better than my reasoning, and the very low temperatures on the continent are a bad sign
I had a word with Jane Tate. She told me Jim Walsh of Castlecomer is dead [a left-wing miner trade unionist whom Greaves knew]. I’m sorry. He was a decent man. Nothing ever seems to happen to the lousy bums! She says she thinks we shall have some funding from the GLC.
January 14 Monday (London): I went to London on the 2.25 and went straight into the office where Noel Gordon and Pat O’Donohue were waiting. Later Pat Bond, Steve Huggett and Jane Tate appeared, but no Roger Kelly, Philip Rendle or Gerry Curran. The Central London business was disposed of easily enough but then we repaired to the pub and discussed the CP. It seems that George Davies was not far wrong. They have expelled Chater and his assistant, but also Tom Durkin who has been in it for 45 years. He played a poor role in the CA battles of 1959, and though it can be forgiven it is not forgotten. At the same time he is poorly requited. It is apparently not a “recall” conference, but a “special” one, but it is said that gerrymandering is in full swing. And the Lancashire committee is not allowed to meet in the absence of people the members threw off it. But Pat Bond says the E.C. do not feel too sure. It looks like a split in May.
January 15 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into 244 Gray’s Inn Road for a brief spell, then came back to Liverpool. I was afraid of frost. Noel Gordon thinks the E.C. are trying to break everything up. He says Philip Rendle is not strongly committed to the “Euro” position but has an exaggerated respect for the strict operation of rules. Thus he has never attended this Advisory Committee of Gilhooley once it threw him out of the chair. It “does not officially exist.” But it still meets in the “Morning Star” building!
January 16 Wednesday: The cold weather continues. I must confess I did not expect this. The CA meeting took place in the evening, with a young priest, Fr. Fitzgerald, talking about his visit to Northern Ireland. Michael Mortimer could not attend, so the Waterloos were absent. But he was a very intelligent man and about nine more turned up, including Pat O’Doherty, who is ” fed up” and thinks everything is falling about our ears. Which it is. He thinks a split is coming in May, and so do I. But I can’t see people with their hands on two million pounds taking them off it! The “Manchester Guardian” editorial said that Hobsbottom and Kinnock [ie. historian Eric Hobsbawm of the CPGB and Neil Kinnock, the Labour Party leader] should be in the same party. Too true!
January 17 Thursday: Another cold day – so cold in the morning that the hand bowl and bath outlets were blocked, and in the evening ice formed inside the windows of unheated rooms. I have kept the gas cooker alight all night, so up to now the kitchen sink and outlet are liquid. I went into the city and saw Ramelson’s excellent statement on the “Morning Star” [Bert Ramelson, 1910-1994, born Baruch Mendelson near Kiev, Ukraine, was Industrial Organiser of the CPGB from 1965 to 1977. He was later industrial correspondent for the “Morning Star”. He sought to overcome the division between the two sides in the CPGB internal dispute of the late 1970s and 1980s. See Roger Seifert and Tom Sibley, “Revolutionary Communist at Work, a Political Biography of Bert Ramelson”, Lawrence and Wishart, 2011; ISBN 9781907103414].Apparently he tried to persuade them to see reason, after pointing out that the E.C. were in breach of rule, and when their January decisions showed they were determined on war to the knife he must have sent it to the “Morning Star” for publication. A letter from Joe Deighan said he was 71 today [Joseph Deighan was a leading figure in the Connolly Association in Manchester in the 1950s. He then moved to London and became President of the Association for some years. He then returned to his native Belfast with his English-born wife Dorothy and was active in left-wing and democratic politics there until his death]. He recalled that when Gerry Fitt first came into things we agreed that he would ultimately let us down, but we would avail of his services while we had then. He also wrote, “How right you were about Myant. He had me fooled earlier on.” I rang him in the evening.
January 18 Friday: I had poured hot brine down the hand bowl last night and it was clear this morning. Then a very slow thaw began. A letter came from West Belfast CPI asking me to speak at a meeting on “Ireland Her Own/The reconquest of Ireland.” I wrote declining. I have no desire to be a chopping block for the Morrisseys [ie. for academic Michael Morrissey and his trade unionist father Seán, who was a member of the CPI]. But I offered to speak on Connolly or Marx on Ireland. I rang Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer about a committee meeting.
The “New Statesman” follows the “Manchester Guardian” in commenting on the CP crisis. It is forecasting narrow defeat for the “traditional lists”, which I have no doubt it desires. The ironical thing is that if that happens part of the two million will be available for the “Morning Star”.
Salieri’s opera “First the music, then the words” was broadcast for the first time in England this evening [Antonio Salieri, 1750-1825]. I listened to it. I can understand that Salieri could be a success. There is pleasant music in it, but no work of real substance. This set me looking for the references to Salieri in Halliwell’s “Life of Mozart” and in Da Ponte’s memoirs which I bought in London 40 odd years ago. Da Ponte emigrated to London. Perhaps it is a misfortune that Mozart did not do the same. I see that there is a part film on it all in London [presumably the film “Amadeus”].
January 19 Saturday: The weather has turned not so cold. Nevertheless, I did not go out. I wrote to Joe Deighan and Tony Coughlan. Apart from that not much.
January 20 Sunday: The snow has still not melted, though it is getting patchy, and there seems no sign of a proper thaw. So I stayed in all day again. Jane Tate told me that owing to the lecturers being involved in an accident in Wales, the Celtic League Sunday lecture was not given. I was told, incidentally, that we have received £5,000 from the will of Bill Hardy. Pat Bond has been ringing Gasters every week and as long ago as last September was prophesying payment “in a week or two”. It has arrived surprisingly quickly. Jane tells be there is another £5000 to come later. Of course the lot of it is mortgaged – we owe Joe O’Grady £500, and Gerry Curran another £500 to start with.
January 21 Monday: There was rain in the night and today it was tolerably mild. I got little done in the day but went to the Irish Centre in the evening and met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. I was told about the ructions on Saturday week when a busload of lunatics from Birmingham came into Liverpool and had to be protected by police from Orange counter-demonstrators. They call themselves the “Irish Freedom Movement” but are actually the “Revolutionary Communist Party”. They pretended they had the support of the Labour Committee on Ireland and the Troops Out Movement, booked a room in the Irish Centre and put the whole thing on Radio Merseyside. As a result 300 Orangemen assembled in Mount Pleasant and but for the fact that they were uncertain as to what defence there was, would have been quite willing to storm the building.
Barney Morgan had rung me up saying that Stephen Dowling [a Liverpool CA branch member] had visited him and wants to go to London for a job. I thought this was economic emigration, but he came in tonight with Mandy, the girl from the bookshop. He said he had been attacked and beaten up by Orangemen on Friday. I told him to “keep a low profile” and keep his eyes skinned, but that I did not think he was in much danger; that is, if there were no fool demonstrations.
January 22 Tuesday: I wrote to Bob Parry, Niall Power, Michael Mortimer and others about the conference on the PTA [ie. the Prevention of Terrorism Act] that we decided on last night. Barney Morgan came in and he told me the manager of the Irish Centre was proving a bit ingenuous in letting rooms to fool organisations. Tom Walsh [who had been a manager previously] would never be caught out like that. Later I spoke to Peter Mulligan. Pat Bond rang saying that my front-page article had intrigued some of the anti-EEC lobby. I also spoke to Jane Tate and Noel Gordon. Copy arrived from Tony Coughlan, Gerry Curran and John Boyd.
January 23 Wednesday: Joe O’Grady rang up to say that the AUEW room is not available for February 23rd. We discussed alternatives. Later the secretary of the Wavertree CP met me at Lime Street and drove me to their meeting. Blevins was there. On the way up she told me how the split that is developing in the CP was gradually penetrating the branch. I told her I had thought of writing to Gordon McLennan [ie. the CPGB General Secretary] in hopes that reason might prevail at the last moment, but had not done so. She said that was her hope too, but it did not shine very bright. The first half hour was taken up with argument over the E.C. decision to put all members’ names on a computer and how Lancashire had objected. However, we got on to Ireland. There was a Belfast Protestant there who had been converted to anti-Partition, and a woman, Susan Schaffer, who wants to join the Connolly Association. On the whole they were favourable, but they always see themselves as originators and are never prepared simply to join in what is going on. If a split takes place it will be damn near 50/50. But it might be better if Chater forms a “Morning Star” League to keep the paper going and waits for expulsions. Of course I won’t say anything about this.
January 24 Thursday (London): I took the 11.30 to London and saw Noel Gordon in the office. Then I went to the Marx Library to check some things. I told Egelnick about the Connolly papers. He said he had found them after Nora Connolly or “somebody in Dublin” had written. Their committee had discussed it. Later I had a meal with Jane Tate. She said Tom Durkin is simply ignoring his expulsion and going to meetings as usual, a sound scheme.
January 25 Friday: I went into Marx House again, finished my work and had a word with Egelnick about Abramsky. I got his telephone number from Rothstein and spoke to him. I did not mention ownership. I said Paul O’Higgins told me he had the MacDonnell papers. He replied he had a microfilm and I could have it. He would post it on Monday. I said I would have a copy made at Reprographics and send him back the original.
I had a meal with Jane Tate and later we joined Noel Gordon at the Calthorpe Arms, which he has booked for a social evening on March 16th. I heard more about the CP position. I think it is spreading a trail of demoralization, which is affecting the London Connolly Association. There is hardly any CP membership in Liverpool [ie. in the Liverpool Connolly Association], so that leaves it immune. Later I had a talk with Noel Gordon who says he has been losing the battle these last few months. He says he “feels as if he was running away from something.” Yet whereas he was talking of resigning in April, then revealed it as June/July, now he talks of August. There are ripples of discontent.
Pat O’Donohue drew cheques for Joe O’Grady and Gerry Curran, then told Jane Tate quite perfunctorily to transfer £2,500 into the Company [ie. Connolly Publications] account. Pat Bond left her a curt note saying he wanted a donation of £27 sent to some worthy cause and that Noel Gordon approved. Jane Tate replied, “I am the treasurer.” Of course there is an alliance of weakness between Pat Bond and Noel Gordon. Noel will ignore Pat Bond’s anarchism and Pat Bond will work at the other’s laziness. Peter Mulligan rang Jane Tate and said his good work in Northampton was constantly being vitiated by the incompetence of the London office. I am wondering whether we could bring Eddie Cowman back and let him run in tandem with Noel Gordon for a while and then take over [Eddie Cowman was a previous CA organiser who had returned to Ireland]. Otherwise short of locking him out we might have Noel hanging on for years out of sheer lack of initiative to get another job.
January 26 Saturday (Liverpool): I had a further talk with Noel Gordon and he said young Gilhooly was in to see him. The London Irish Committee [ie. an “advisory committee” of the CPGB] had passed a resolution condemning the E.C. action, and Philip Rendle, the chairman, had closed it down, though it continued to meet, Rendle says unconstitutionally. Now the ructions are sending them all slightly off their heads, because they are on fresh ground and don’t know what to do. So Rendle summons my bold Paul to his place of work where he sits in state behind a large desk [Paul Gilhooley was a member of this advisory committee]. Rendle shows him typed minutes of the closed-down meeting, signed by himself, and invites the young fellow to sign as well. He refused.
“Think again,” says the great dictator. “I’m offering you a way out.” He then discloses that McKay of the E.C. will be there in five minutes and invites Gilhooly to wait for him. He declines and goes off. Noel Gordon rightly told them they were fools for passing that resolution, as it did not fall within their standing orders. I returned on the 6 pm. train.
January 27 Sunday: The telephone rang. It was Frances Joyce of the Birmingham Anti-Partition League on her way back from Dublin. She wanted to see me, so despite the one and a half inches of snow I went to Lime Street. She has been with Pádraig Ó Snodaigh in Dublin and was bringing back a load of his books. She was not interfered with, though a young fellow of less than twenty pestered her, pretending to be a Special Branch man. She judged him to be a head case. She thought Betty O’Shea was being “framed” because the IBRG had started investigating the 1974 Birmingham bombing, and those who were doing it were to be silenced. On the other hand she did not trust this Peter something or other she was taken in with. Apparently he had been a great Labour supporter but was alleged to have blotted his copy book in some financial matter. She says, “They say Grimes is squealing.” Then she reflected that he was in custody and such allegations could only come via his captors. Nobody outside, among the general public, had received any evidence that there was anything to “squeal” about. Later Barney Morgan came and took her home and I returned amid a slow thaw to 124 Mount Road.
Quite late I spoke to Peter Mulligan. He has received no notification of the E.C. and has made other arrangements. He is furious with Noel Gordon, who swore he had sent out all the notices. He says that Noel was made chairman of the GLC’s Irish committee but failed to attend a meeting. I thought it was Vice-Chairman, though I can believe the other. I then tried to get Michael Crowe.
January 28 Monday: Noel Gordon had promised to get a speaker from the NCCL but said that whenever he rang, the right person was not there. He seems not to have gone into the office. I rang Pat Bond who gave me the NCCL number. The girl on the switchboard was not very helpful, but I insisted on getting through to the PTA research team. She said there had been a request, but she would need to know what sort of meeting etc. before they could decide whom to send – so Noel has failed to explain things. I pressed pretty hard and said I wanted somebody of the calibre of Cath Scorer. This was Lea Dover, who has a slight foreign accent. She said she would ring back at 4 pm. She did not. I gave her till 4.30 and rang them. This time they were like lambs and Lia Dover said she would come herself.
I spoke to Jane Tate. She told me Gerry Curran had been blowing up because he had not been notified of the E.C. She was talking about cancellation. But I said, hold it and have it out with Noel Gordon. Gerry is talking about writing a letter of protest. I’m told it has gone so far that Gerry is suggesting people to replace Noel. There is still no word from the GLC. Jane Tate has failed to take my advice and do all the communicating herself. She asked Noel to ring and he says he has been told that “there are two letters in the post”. If I knew the money was available I would offer the job to Eddie Cowman and hope he accepted.
January 29 Tuesday: I worked on the paper for most of the day. The milder weather seems to have held.
January 30 Wednesday: I went into Birkenhead to post copy. Who should be behind me on the bus but Halliday [ie. a former Birkenhead Institute school companion of his, together with the others mentioned. See Vols.1 and 2]. He told me that Piggott had died just before Xmas and that he and his son went to the funeral in Kenilworth. Jackson was there – a retired Professor of Dentistry or something like that in the University of Newcastle. It must have been Jackson who told him that George Wright had been working on the statistics of murder – how many murderers are caught. This must have started when he received the confession of a prisoner. There was a furore over it, but I forget the circumstances. Halliday is generally well, but this last week has begun to see double – horizontally and has been to see a doctor.
January 31 Thursday: I finished the paper and sent it off. In the evening I went to Wigan to address the IBRG. The 6.50 train sat in Lime Street until 7.20, so that Barry O’Keeffe and a wee girl were waiting half an hour for me. There was also a young fellow called John Rodgers, who was actually on the same train but had boarded it at Broad Green. I came back with him as far as that. Barry O’Keefe told me that the IBRG was pulling together again the communities that were dispersed by the destruction of Scholes and Hardybutts and the old Irish area around those streets. There were about 20 at the meeting, which was a complete success.
February 1 Friday: The weather seems to have settled down to being exceptionally mild. As there was snow before the frost, the vegetables have survived quite unharmed and I have swedes, parsnips, spinach beet and radishes in good condition, and some red chicory I have not tried yet.
February 2 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10.00 am. to Euston and Joe O’Grady was on it. Pat O’Donohue has paid him the £500 he lent us. Thanks to Noel Gordon’s messing, there was no Michael Crowe, no Gerry Curran, no Bernard O’Connell, and Peter Mulligan also was missing. Roger Kelly and the South London women – the alleged reason why the E.C. could not be postponed – were absent. Peter Mulligan had sent a strong letter to Noel Gordon. It would not have been read out if I had not produced my copy and insisted on it. Peter asked Noel bluntly when he was resigning and said he wanted to advertise the post. It was fortunate that he had this in because I was able to dissent from part of the letter while developing the other. I said we should set the end of April for Noel’s departure but that we wouldn’t see him without a job. Also, if we got money from the GLC we should raise his wages to help him to accumulate something. There was also an angry letter from Gerry Curran. Jane paid me £350 back money, but the “Irish Democrat” must owe me £1,000. I had drafted a proper agenda so there was a reasonable amount of business done, those present being CDG [ie. himself], Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Philip Rendle, Steve Huggett, Joe O’Grady and Noel Gordon. Young Paul Gilhooly came into the bookshop to look after it while we were meeting, but no customers came in! I wondered whether he was speaking to Philip Rendle and realised they might not have been terribly friendly if I hadn’t got them into the Calthorpe Arms together where they talked about the crisis in the CP until Rendle left. Paul Gilhooly strikes me as a good lad. He is studying “politics” at the North London Polytechnic and takes his degree this year. He will be 22 next week.
I caught the 8.50 and did not rush for the underground but took a taxi to 124 Mount Road.
February 3 Sunday: It was so mild today that I thought of going cycling but didn’t. Jane Tate rang this morning, uncovering a piece of background we neither of us liked. It throws light on the fact that Noel Gordon had unburdened himself to Pat Bond and not consulted Jane or myself. It seems that Noel was in such grave arrears with his rent that he borrowed £300 from Pat Bond and Gerry Curran. Gerry now wants the CA to pay it back, but she is refusing. She was not consulted and that was that. It was a personal debt. I quite agree with her. Of course this is not merely because we cannot pay Noel Gordon properly, or because Helen McMurray has been unemployed. It is his general incompetence in practical affairs – young Andy Barr kicked him out largely because he never paid his rent, and when he thought he might take my place in 33 Argyll Square, Gerry Curran put him off as he did not think he would pay! At the same time he is likeable and intelligent, but incapable of planning anything in advance.
I listened to a lively performance of Haydn’s “Creation” in the evening. I had CEG’s score, but it did not always fit the German version, being slightly cut. The version that was uncut was better. On the whole it was good, though I didn’t agree with some of the tempo. On Friday night I heard Charles Rosen play Schubert’s last (B flat) sonata – the best performance I ever heard.
February 4 Monday: I went to Ripley. The day was uneventful until I got back to Crewe. Things had gone well and I was an hour early. But then it was announced that the Liverpool train was unable to move – it had indeed been immobilised for twenty minutes – because the electric over-head wires were down near Runcorn. I got on board, did not think of waiting for the express, and reached Lime Street just before 9 pm., when I was due to meet Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer at the Irish Centre. I had a quick meal and kept my appointment.
February 5 Tuesday: I lifted the last turnips today, but it is remarkable how the vegetables have survived. This must be because snow fell before the frost began in earnest. Barney Morgan rang in the morning, and I had a word with Noel Gordon, who seems in good form. The minutes of Sunday’s meeting arrived today – this has never happened before, so the criticisms seem to have taken effect.
February 6 Wednesday: I got a little done in the day but attended the branch meeting in the evening. Michael Mortimer, Barney Morgan, Pat O’ Doherty and Joe O’Grady were there, and a newcomer named Susan Schafer who attended the November conference and was at the CP meeting in Wavertree. She seems an extremely capable woman and will, I think, make a contribution.
February 7 Thursday: It was wet and cold and dreary, so I did not go out but wrote quite a few letters: to Niall Power, Pat O’Donohue, Colm Power, Paul Salveson, George Davies, (who is writing a pamphlet on Ireland), Tony Coughlan and Brian Wilkinson. Jane Tate telephoned to say that she understands that the Connolly Association will be funded by the GLC [Greater London Council],but she does not know to what figure.
I rang up Pádraig Ó Snodaigh in the early evening. Frances Joyce said he might be over. He was out but rang back. He may be going to the IBRG meeting in Leicester but is not certain. It occurred to me to ask him who could lecture on women in 1916. He had the bright idea of Sheila Humphries and I wrote to her at once. I told him I was not sure of Roy Johnston’s suggestion of Nell McCafferty [Dublin journalist and feminist activist]. From her picture in the LCI [ie. the Labour Committee on Ireland] magazine, she looks a wild one. “Pooh,” says Snoddy, “They’re some of them too strident. They go beyond the beyond and lose support.” If Sheila Humphreys would come it would be a real achievement [Sheila Humphreys, 1899-1994, had been an activist in Cumann na mBan and supported other republican causes throughout her long life].
February 8 Friday: The rain went on all day but gradually turned to sleet. I did not see much for the day.
February 9 Saturday (London): This was a day and a half. I reached Lime Street at 9.15 in very good time for the 10 o’clock. I was told the 9 am. had not yet come in. There was a covering of snow, but not deep, but it was still snowing lightly. At about 10.30 it was announced that the 9 and 10 services, plus a Penzance train, would be starting from Crewe and a special train would take us there. At Crewe there was no such thing, and we were bundled on to the 10.43, which left at midday. Every procrastinating contrivance seemed to be employed. I arrived at Euston at 3.30 and had a quick coffee as there was nothing on the train. Who should be in the Buffet but Jack Henry who had been unable to get back from Birmingham last night and had had to stay over. His train was delayed for an hour when the frozen body of a small child was found on the side of the track. He thought it was too late to avert the split in the CP.
The meeting had begun at 2 pm. on Pat Bond’s insistence. They had covered most of the agenda. I asked for a résumé but got nothing satisfactory. But I found to my surprise that they had voted Noel Gordon an honorarium of £400, which would be paid to Helen McMurray. It was so sudden that I didn’t immediately react, but it was explained that this would give him the equivalent of a salary increase “till the end of August when he is leaving”. He then cut in with “if I can get another job”. I thought this distinctly odd. Then in the evening he told me he was marrying Helen.
He and I plus Gerry Curran went to Acton Trade Union Club where Pat Hourigan met us. I gave a talk on Connolly. George Smith was in the chair. The gathering was called so that Smith on behalf of Kilburn TGWU could present the club with a portrait of Connolly. Smith must have had drink taken for in the event he presented it to me! Then the club secretary, in a speech in which he presented me with a “Tolpuddle Martyr” plate, explained that he had understood that the portrait of Connolly was to hang on the wall of the club. There was considerable laughter. “Well. there’s only one way out of it,” said I, “and that is that I present it to the club on permanent loan.” George Smith was highly relieved. “That’s an idea,” said he, “Permanent loan. That gets me out of it.”
But he is in trouble at the NCCL, where he works part-time. This American rat, Gastin, already notorious for defending the right of the so-called “National Front” to march, has issued a defence of the “right to scab” against the miners. He is that bitch Patricia Hewitt’s nominee [Patricia Hewitt was NICCL General Secretary and later became a Labour MP and. Minister for Health]. I heard her boast that she had cleared the communists out of the NCCL. When they consisted of such brainless neurotic creatures as Irene Brennan it would not be too difficult. Apparently he protested and they have applied some discipline and a petition was being taken up in his defence.
February 10 Sunday: (Liverpool): I caught the 10.50 from Euston, and arrived in Lime Street at about 3 pm., came to No.124 for a bite, then went to the Irish Centre to lecture on Countess Markievicz. There was a good crowd, which was surprising considering the arctic conditions. Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan were there, but not Michael Mortimer who is not really interested in Irish affairs. Steve Dowling was there, Pat O’Doherty and his son, now 24 and interested in politics. He is in the DHSS [ie. the Department of Health]. Susan Schafer was there with her eldest son, aged about 22, who is working in Bangor and seems an enthusiastic, idealistic young fellow,
February 11 Monday: In the morning Jane Tate rang up. She told me that she had opposed the £400 payment to Noel Gordon and that she was quite sure it had been previously discussed and worked out by Gerry Curran, Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue. The game was, of course, to get their £300 back. I told her not to pay it until there had been a complete discussion by the E.C. and I prepared Noel Gordon for it by saying that the moment we heard something definite from the GLC we must have a thorough discussion of the whole financial structure. In the evening I rang Peter Mulligan, also annoyed at being kept in the dark, and we discussed March 2nd as a possible date. What I am afraid of is that we will never get rid of Noel while there is a penny about. I think he probably got the money from Gerry Curran and Pat Bond after some sob story about leaving the job. I also got the impression from Jane Tate that Pat Bond, who is a sentimental fool, is anxious to hide his philanthropy from Stella [ie. his wife]. Well, I’m having it in the open, so they can put that in their big drums and bang it.
I went into the city in the afternoon and saw John Gibson. He told me that the revolt in the North-West [ie. opposition to the policy of Gordon McLennan and the CPGB Head Office] began in Liverpool and spread to Manchester. The usual shenanigans are going on. Blevins was voted out of office on Saturday by 13 votes to 11 and reinstated the following one by 15 to 13. This shows how evenly balanced are the two sides. Whatever the result there will be enough on each side to form a new party, and one more purpose of the Establishment will have been accomplished.
February 12 Tuesday: I wrote about 16 letters, mostly concerning the conference on February 23rd. Late in the evening Jane Tate rang. She had made a mess of things. She had told Noel Gordon that I had told her to withhold the cheque. Noel had absented himself from the branch committee. He had rung Pat O’Donohue, who had threatened to resign. Steve Huggett had resigned as branch secretary, which he was going to do anyway. So now trouble breaks out in the CA. They are all demoralised by the CP thing. Pat Bond is in a state of permanent depression. Later Jane Tate told me that Toni Curran is on her side and blames Gerry Curran.
February 13 Wednesday: Quite early in the morning Jane Tate telephoned. All the panic was unjustified. Noel Gordon had rung her from his office saying that he had failed to attend the meeting because he had stepped on the ice, twisted his ankle badly and been taken to hospital. I told her what I proposed to do. But I hope she doesn’t make a mess of it. The crisis in a teacup was useful. I counted heads. I cannot guarantee a majority on the E.C., still less on the Standing Committee. So I concluded that, Paris being the worth a Mass, it might be desirable to spend a few bob, establishing the supremacy of the E.C. over its sub-committee, and finding somebody to take over the office who will be reliable. I would prefer Eddie Cowman but he may not do it. I wrote to Noel, indicating that I thought the Standing-Committee decisions ultra vires, but leaving the contested issue open for further discussion.
Later Noel came on the line. I told him what was in the letter, and he seemed satisfied. He thought Jane Tate had not told him in a proper manner. I agree. She lacks tact. However, I got on to Peter Mulligan in the evening and read out to him the letter I had written to Noel.
February 14 Thursday: The weather is very cold but not so bad as it was. I went into the city and saw BIevins. He told me that the last four area committees have been taken up entirely with squabbling. He gave me some useful names and addresses. There was a letter from Tony Coughlan saying that Bert Ward has asked him to write in his bulletin, but he will not do so. I’m not sorry for this. BIevins thinks it is a poor effort and Ward and Myant desperate “wets”.
February 15 Friday: I tried unsuccessfully to ring Jane Tate and then tried the office. Noel Gordon was there but he was sullen and uncommunicative. I guess my letter did not please him. It punctures the discreditable little plot they had all cooked up. But I am not going to find things easy.
Later I got Jane Tate. She has been at the hospital all day undergoing all manner of tests, for angina and goodness knows what. I don’t think Noel’s nonsense helps, though apparently he had brightened up by the time she got in. I wrote an enormous number of letters today. It is cold but seems less cold as the wind has dropped. But it is quite clear from all the reports that the Wirral is the mildest point on the west coast.
February 16 Saturday: A letter from Pat Bond enclosed one from J.A. McGrath in Leicester to the effect that he had sent £55 for books he had never received. More of Noel’s incompetence! Also Jane Tate told me that though he had assured her that the bookshop would be open today, he had gone off to the IRBG meeting in Leicester and left it unmanned. I have written to Eddie Cowman asking if he would come back if asked.
February 17 Sunday: In the morning Pat Bond phoned. They have done well at the IBRG meeting in Leicester where they ran a bookstall and took £150. But the PTA is to be debated next Thursday, which puts us in a difficulty. The Liverpool conference is on Saturday. Our lobby of Parliament is scheduled for March 6th. They did this trick once before. How far these things are co-ordinated of course one doesn’t know; but they have cases coming up, including that of Betty O’Shea, who is now on bail. Pat Bond expressed the hope that Noel Gordon carries out his intention of resigning. So that is good. I will put him to the other side of the head count, but of course he’s not the man he was. He also told me that Jane Tate has “a touch of angina”, something I knew already. I wonder if there is a wee touch of schadenfreude there! We’ll be in a fine pickle if she drops down dead on us! He says Jane drives Noel up the wall. He is so disorganised and she is such a stickler. She also irritates Pat O’Donohue, says Pat Bond. “He can’t keep his temper,” I replied, and there was silence. For neither can Bond. They’re big babies.
February 18 Monday (London/Liverpool): I went to London on the 10 am. and came back on the 8.50 pm. which was late so that I had to get a taxi. The underground had stopped. I brought in the revised Constitution and took away old resolutions. I decided to do the report myself, I am coming to the conclusion that Noel Gordon would tell you anything. The story now is that he owes Gerry Curran £200, Pat Bond an undisclosed sum, and Camden Borough Council £300. So £400 would not have cleared him. He says that Pat Bond was very dubious of this funny transaction. But he swore Jane Tate did not oppose it, and she doesn’t. In committee she waffles. Her whole experience lies in being told what to do and doing it efficiently.
February 19 Tuesday: In the morning Michael Mortimer rang. He is getting more enthusiasm. I had invited Mrs Simey. She had written saying she would try to come on Saturday. Then Joe O’Grady rang again. A BBC woman from television wanted to come. Mrs Simey had told her. This might of course be anybody. But I had a letter from Dr Cyril Taylor in response to one of mine. I had thought I had met him but was not sure, so wrote as if I hadn’t. In his reply he told me I had put him up one night in December 1939, when he came to a student conference. That must have been at 31 Grand Drive and when I had Bloor with me. I just can’t recall it. Almost certainly the connection would be through Bloor. But there was my room, and his next door. Was Bloor perhaps away? I also heard from Dr. Sheila Abdullah, and later did a bit on the Lawrence and Wishart thing [ie. his article, “Class and Nation in Ireland”, published in the book, “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front”, edited by Jim Fyrth, Lawrence and Wishart, 1985].
February 20 Wednesday: Both Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer telephoned. Undoubtedly Joe O’Grady is the most effective man we have here. But Michael Mortimer is improving. I worked on the Comintern article for the Lawrence and Wishart. I have only just worked out the mode of presentation. The snow and ice have gone.
February 21Thursday: I got little enough done, but in the evening went into the Irish Centre and had a long talk with Joe O’Grady and later saw Tom Walsh.
February 22 Friday: In the morning Noel Gordon rang to say he had influenza coming on. I don’t know how he manages to get it again and again. He’s had it once this winter. He ought to be immune. “So will you be able to manage to come to Liverpool tomorrow?” He thought he might be better but was not sure. It was all I could do to persuade him to get a substitute. It is a thing he cannot envisage. He was quite prepared to leave us in the air when we depend on him for our bookstall. However he asked PgH and he agreed to come. He will stay the night at Noel Gordon’s so as to catch the early train. “Don’t give him influenza,” I warned. Later I rang Mairin Johnston. She cannot speak in Liverpool. She is going to Cuba.
February 23 Saturday: I met Lea Dover of the NCCL at Lime Street and PgH soon arrived. After lunch at the Greek restaurant we went to the Shaftesbury where there was a very good attendance, about 37 according to Joe O’Grady. Every seat was filled. OM had come from Anglesey, George Davies from Blackburn and FJo from Birmingham. Mrs Simey came for part of the proceedings and Sheila Abdullah, Cyril Taylor’s partner, was there. Lea Dover was clear and strong. Bob Parry [one of the Liverpool Labour MPs] did well and Tom Walsh excelled himself; he was more political than I have heard him and permitted himself some animadversions against members of the IBRG who will never go where there are no television cameras. The thing was a powerful success, and we have the perspective that leads to an NCCL group in Liverpool.
We took Lea Dover up to the Irish Centre and who should be there but Jim King. The IBRG E.C. had been meeting there and I fear it will not be long before they start in Liverpool. They have no secretary but would like to rope in Joan Ingles. Of course their problem is that all capable people are fully occupied. I did not get as good an impression of PgH tonight. He is estudiantine to a considerable degree and waffles. Also after arranging to spend the night at Barney Morgan’s he went off without informing him and had him coming down to the Irish Centre at 12 midnight to see if he had got lost. On the other hand Lea Dover is an excellent woman, and three hours in Liverpool brought out the [word indecipherable] in her. But she missed her train and had to wait till midnight. FJo was going on to Dublin.
February 24 Sunday: Another successful day. I spent the morning on the paper and clearing up. Then I met Margaret Ward at the Irish Centre and after coffee she gave her talk. She would be in her early twenties and is not half as impressive as Lea Dover. She is of course a passionate feminist and while she didn’t go “beyond the beyonds”. I was relieved when she got off abortion and contraceptives for fear Sister Brigid fell off her pedestal! I took care no leaflets were scattered about. I think she is from these parts. She stayed with friends near Ormskirk. I would say there were over 40 present and the women were delighted. But Janet Walsh, who was the one demanding a lecture on women, didn’t show up. Michael Mortimer thinks there is something troubling the “Waterloo group”. Sheila Abdullah and Susan Schafer were both there. But neither of them would take the chair, so Barney Morgan did it and made a mess of it as usual! He hasn’t the faintest conception of controlling a meeting.
February 25 Monday: I got off four pages of the March issue today. Jane Tate told me that Noel Gordon had not shown up but that a letter came from the GLC confirming a telephone message to the effect that our project could not be funded until 1985-86. She was highly indignant that he had apparently kept this news to himself. Even with influenza coming on, he could pick up a telephone – unless it was the news that gave him influenza. A childish letter came from Colm Power [a former CA member in Dublin] which shows he is sulking with me now as well as with Cathal, Tony and everybody else. I have not decided whether to reply. It is woeful to see how he keeps things up.
Ashford called. He had mended my roof before Christmas, then told me that the rain had washed out all his cement. I was thinking of ringing him to ask when he would finish the job, which in all will cost £750. However, he apologised for his absence and told me that his daughter, aged 28, was in hospital with a disease of the blood the doctors profess not to be able to diagnose. This is probably from nurses, but it looks like leukaemia from what he says. The great difference between Liverpool and London is that in London you seem to get an intelligent medical service – not that I ever looked for it for I was never ill in London – but here it is backward, out of the nineteenth century. Can’t diagnose it! What rubbish!
February 26 Tuesday: I practically finished the paper, by dint of working on it till 11 pm. Now I’ve got the Annual Report and Resolution for the AGM to do, thanks to Noel Gordon’s incompetence. I think the thing you see on all sides is sheer political ineptitude. I had a letter from Gerry Curran mildly justifying the Standing Committee decision to pay £400 on the grounds that we should be “generous”. The generosity would put £200 in Gerry Curran’s pocket and £100 in Pat Bond’s. And they think a sub-committee can rescind the decision of the main committee when its members will benefit financially! Shameless bunch!
February 27 Wednesday: I finally finished the paper, and in the evening went to the CA meeting at the AUEW. There was not a good attendance – Barney Morgan, Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and a few more, including old Harry Evans, a very decent man who must be in his eighties and I am afraid exhibiting symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. But his head is clear enough. Michael Mortimer has bought a computer of all things, but though not 100% is showing more signs of interest. Susan Schafer was not there, but we decided to go ahead with the plan for a conference on the pollution of the Irish Sea. Later we all went to the Irish Centre.
February 28 Thursday: I was in all day and started on the Lawrence and Wishart story for Jim Fyrth. I remember him in Wimbledon when he was a great cyclist. He must be nearly 70 now. They want a symposium commemorating the 7th World Conference of the Comintern. I think they wish to enlist it for opportunistic purposes. But I propose to present the classical Marxist position on the Irish question and if they won’t print it, that is just too bad.
There was extraordinary news from Jane Tate. First, there was no sign of Noel Gordon, though there was a note saying he came at 8.30 am. and felt so ill that he went home. Obviously he came in at 8.30 because he knew nobody would be there. But Jane had been in touch with Tomkins about our GLC grant. He claimed that all the correspondence we had had from the GLC was “fraudulent” and consisted of “forgeries”. Jane Tate was of course utterly astonished and said she would go to see Stephen Brennan, who is however a muddler with slight Trotsky tendencies. Apparently this Mary Hickman saw Tomkins and was told “The Connolly Association correspondence is all forgeries.” She challenged him and he replied, “I mean our correspondence to them.” Now it comes from several departments, so how can that be? Somebody is trying to sabotage us, but who? Possibly an anti-Livingstone caucus.
March 1 Friday: I spoke to Pat Bond in the morning. He said when he got into the office in the morning he found a note from Helen McMurray saying that Noel Gordon had been taken into hospital and that he would be at the E.C. tomorrow. What was wrong with him? He thought the doctor had proscribed the wrong antibiotics, but he was talking on the telephone about influenza – a virus disease! Jane Tate rang later. She had been to see Stephen Brennan. He had previously said it was all a muddle But now it became clear that a letter from him had been forged. It stated that the Irish Book Fair had been postponed till later in the year. Brennan said that on the contrary, it was being held on March 15 – so the effect will probably be that we will have no stall at it. In the evening Brendan MacLua rang asking if I would accept the “Irish Post” award as “Irishman of the Year”. I said I would think about it, but quickly decided not to.
March 2 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10 am. and met Peter Mulligan at Euston, where I told him what had been happening. At the office we saw Pat Bond and Jane Tate who told us that Mary Hickman had been in yesterday, pointing out that if the legal department got hold of this forgery business there would not be a penny paid till it was all settled. We had the meeting. Helen McMurray had left a note saying Noel Gordon was still in hospital. There was some scepticism.
I told them my opinion about the £400. I had Joe O’Grady, Michael Crowe, Peter Mulligan and Jane Tate entirely on my side. Philip Rendle said nothing. Pat O’Donohue blustered but finally said, “Perhaps the Standing Committee did what it shouldn’t have done.” The most awkward customer was Steve Huggett who said, “Nobody need ever know anything but those of us here.” This provoked Michael Crowe to talk about “shady business deals” and Joe O’Grady to say we were a public institution and must account for what we do. I knew I couldn’t save the money, but I wanted the political principle established. The three people involved, Noel Gordon, Gerry Curran and Pat Bond were not there – Pat Bond had good reason to leave early. I don’t know how or if they would have voted. But at worst I had a majority of 4/3, and 4/2 if Philip Rendle had abstained, and even if it were 4/4 I had Peter Mulligan’s casting vote. My belief is that Steve Huggett is going, probably in May or June, so his opposition is only temporary. As it was, however, it was carried unanimously. It was agreed to give Noel Gordon a rise of £20 a week, but to lend him £400 to be repaid out of the rise. Apart from that everything went smoothly. I came back with Joe O’Grady and though he is not really articulate, he has plenty of experience and understood the issues well.
March 3 Sunday: Jane Tate rang from her brother’s place in Kent. She is returning to London tomorrow to pursue the GLC thing further with Cllr. Rossi. Can you imagine what Noel Gordon would be like if faced with the sort of opposition Jane Tate is tackling? It is her persistence and energy that has uncovered the plot. Now we know why we would get letters and phone-calls making appointments only to have the appointments cancelled every time. The makers and cancellers were the same people. Later I rang Pat Bond to tell him what had happened. Stella Bond expressed doubts as to whether Noel was really in hospital. Pat Bond was prepared to accept that he was. Jane Tate was going to get Michael Brennan to call to his house. I told nobody I had gone there myself yesterday to make sure he was not at home. Certainly there was no answer. I told Pat Bond what had taken place and wrote to Noel. Later MacLua rang up and I told him that I did not want it said of me, “Ach – he’s with the big fellows now.”
I forgot to say yesterday that I saw Flann Campbell who was in the shop. He told me that Alec Digges occasionally rings him up. He is in an old peoples’ home or some kind of protective housing. When one reflects on the exact parity of age, one thinks of the counting of blessings!
March 4 Monday: I went into the city and bought food and drink. The telephone at 244 Gray’s Inn Road is not working. I rang Pat Bond. He says Noel Gordon was going to do something about it but I doubt if he has. He was complaining about the way Noel tries to conceal his incompetence by lying. I said you don’t confront him. I told Jane Tate to broach him a year ago. But, I went on, whenever there’s any dirty work to do I have to do it, and you all sit dumb.” “But you can’t call him a liar.” “Can’t you?” “Well, how can you prove he’s fallen down on something?” “Sometimes you can. Sometimes you can’t. When you can you bring it up at the committee and ask him politely to account for himself.” Later Pat Bond rang me, over some trifle. Was there to be a lobby? I said the E.C. had been told Noel Gordon had “done something”. “I doubt if he has,” says Pat Bond. “Well, never mind.” Then he started puffing and blowing and saying, “Oh dear me.” I told him he’d get another stroke if he worked himself up. If anything can be done, do it. Otherwise, don’t bother your head. You’ll have to clear the mess up afterwards. I understood Jane Tate would be back but could not get through to her. Her line is nearly as bad as that of the Connolly Association.
March 5 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. The travelling arrangements are desperate. I left the house at 8.50 am. and got back at 10 pm. But the printer seems to have got this new system under control. There was a youngster, I would say not much more that sixteen, whom I judged to be a new apprentice. But he had “something about him”. There were other new apprentices you wouldn’t give a second look at. He turned out to be Terry Reynold’s son. So I told him I used to go to Ripley when his great-grandfather was running the place. What gave him the slightly different air must have been the consciousness of being the heir apparent! Terry Reynolds, who is one of the nicest people I ever met, must be well into his forties, and his hair streaked with grey. Brian, his cousin, is probably 50. Sic transit!
March 6 Wednesday: In the morning Jane Tate rang. Apparently Noel Gordon went into the office yesterday when Stella Bond was there. She thought he was “dozy and blotchy”. Jane talks about allergy to penicillin. Of course if he wasn’t smoking like a chimney he wouldn’t catch things that need penicillin, as I’ve told him more than once. But he seems to have gone to pieces physically and mentally, and the lack of a firm example allows others to degenerate. Pat Bond rang later, in his usual tetchy and childish state, asking me for the list of MPs who voted against the PTA which I’ve published in the “Democrat”. Of course he works hard, but he makes work for himself, and just cannot control his feelings. Consequently nobody can work with him. Jane Tate tells me all the GLC paperwork has been done and she’s away back to Kent. A long moaning letter has come from Colm Power, which I glanced through but did not read properly. Here is a man whose vanity is hurt and everything that anybody says will be taken amiss. There was also a letter from Susan Schafer. I telephoned her and also made an appointment with Tom Walsh.
March 7 Thursday: I spent the whole day on the Lawrence and Wishart thing and feel damned tired now at 10.30 pm. when I have put it down with only the last few pages to do. I rang London from time to time, but the office phone is still out of order. In the end I contacted Stella Bond. She says there is no sign of Noel. People have called at his flat and there is no answer.She has an idea that Helen McMurray is away for the week. Well, she’d never go away if he was in hospital. So was he in hospital? Has he gone away with her? For the last year he has been telling us he had arranged for a grill for the windows. He has always arranged it, but nothing happens. Finally Tadhg Egan told him who to go to. He said he had gone. The man had been to measure the windows up. It would cost so much. The man was coming on Friday. He didn’t – well he meant next Friday. Tadhg Egan came in yesterday and agreed to call in. The manufacturer said he had not seen Noel Gordon and knew nothing about it. Meanwhile Noel had given Stella Bond a bogus telephone number. And this goes on and fools like Pat O’Donohue want to vote him £400, which anyway he has not collected. “I hope he doesn’t go and commit suicide.” says Stella. “He’s mentally sick.” I think he might be.
March 8 Friday: I finished Jim Fyrth’s thing for the Lawrence and Wishart symposium, but I must get a photocopy made before sending it off. There are some new analyses in it, but whether it is what they want I don’t know.
From Pat Bond I learned that Noel Gordon has disappeared. My guess is that he is away with Helen McMurray, for he told Paul Gilhooley that she was going away. This means that he feels not the slightest responsibility. Or perhaps Jane Tate had not been in when he went. Pat Bond also gives me a sorry tale about London. Steve Huggett has thrown Central London responsibility on Noel. He seems to have no response from South London – and of course the reason is that he gives no political lead whatsoever, and merely asks people to do things. As for Paul Gilhooley, he left Barney Morgan waiting for him and cleared off to London, and Jane Tate tells me that one of his cheques bounced. Mind, he’s only 22, so has time.
But late at night Jane Tate rang up. Noel Gordon had blown into the office saying his doctor had told him he must not do anything this week, and he would be in on Tuesday. I told her to ask for a medical certificate before paying him. I might be able to make use of this, even if he doesn’t turn in the certificate. I can say, “Poor man, the job is too much for him. Confine him to the bookshop.” Then we can, if the GLC gives us a few bob, fill the organiser post if anybody will accept it, and then replace him in the bookshop later. The trouble is, however, that Jane Tate cannot keep her own counsel and blurts out everything, thus giving him something to go on all the time, whereas if he were kept in the dark he would be compelled to give the show away.
March 9 Saturday: I rang Tony Coughlan in the morning. He is coming on Tuesday, though it was hard to pin him down to a definite time. He is a great man for “probably,” though when he is definite he carries it out. I think he takes on too much. He is like Pat Bond without the instability.
I went to the Irish Centre at 12 noon and had a cosy little talk with Tom Walsh, who is very competent and very political, and moreover clear-sighted. When he found the PTA was to be debated on the following Thursday, he arranged a meeting in the House of Commons while Noel Gordon was dithering. He offered me the use of a Radio City tape of a broadcast on the O’Shea case. He told me he thought Bill Grimes and one other were genuinely implicated in some kind of conspiracy, but that Betty O’Shea and others had got themselves innocently (if foolishly) involved. We agreed on a lobby of Parliament a week after it re-assembles in 1986. He mentioned the difficulty of their choosing 10 pm. on a Thursday night. I said that we must lobby against that before Xmas. We agreed also to set up a monitoring committee. I think the man to see will be Joe Sim. So all was arranged.
Then I met Susan Schafer at Lime Street Station and we reached broad agreement on an “exploratory conference” on the militarisation and pollution of the Irish Sea. We will try to do it by the end of May. I later asked Michael Mortimer if he would do any duplicating for the conference. He said he would. And I also spoke to Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan. Incidentally, I told Susan Schafer that I was taking no part in the squabbles in the CP and if the whole thing fell to bits I would carry on my own work as a member of no party at all. She said this was precisely what she proposed to do. She is very capable and will prepare the paper on pollution.
Jane Tate rang up to say that she was at the “Liberation” conference. Noel Gordon did not appear. Also she met a man who said he wrote to the office three weeks ago saying he wanted a speaker in Bradford but got no reply. I think probably Noel has lost interest. She also told me that when we were discussing the honorarium, Jane said, “pay £300” and Pat O’Donohue said, “There are other debts.”
March 10 Sunday: I wrote letters, then went to give a lecture at the Irish Centre. We were wondering why none of the Waterloo crowd (Michael Kelly, Janet Wash etc.) ever come to anything now. John Gibson, Susan Schafer, Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan were there.
March 11 Monday: I photocopied and sent off the manuscript to Jim Fyrth. I also wrote and posted a letter and went to the bank. Tony Coughlan enclosed a letter he got from Colm Power and expressed the view that he is going off his head. He also wrote to me – a diatribe against Cathal [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin], whom he regards as the worst villain, but also Tony Coughlan and of all people Justin Keating, whom I haven’t spoken to for years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Colm was going off his head. And the problem is to neutralise him. He suffers from a complete lack of the slightest sense of humour, and that is a sure sign of being at risk. I don’t think Tony Coughlan handles him terribly well. There is a slapdash in his personal relations, which doesn’t bother me as I understand the sanguine temperament perfectly. He has written me several letters in the last week, each expressing a different intention covered by “probably”. It would never enter his head to think he was “buggering somebody about”. But his intentions are excellent and that is that. The latest is that he is coming tomorrow. But Colm Power is different. Everything is dead serious. The danger is that the powers that be should learn of the rift and make their own use of it.
March 12 Tuesday: I did some clearing up and Tony Coughlan arrived at about 3 pm. after a very good journey. We discussed things in general.
March 13 Wednesday: We went to Chester, the weather being bright and dry, and walked to Eccleston and to the entrance of Eaton Park. I hadn’t been there for years. In the evening Michael Mortimer arrived. Pat Bond telephoned to say that Noel Gordon has neither appeared nor communicated and that Jane Tate thinks he’s got his £400 and “scarpered” with it. This means the creditors will not get their money. Of course he may come back. Jane asked him for a doctor’s certificate so that she can reclaim from the DHSS. But I do not believe he was ill at all and probably he’s afraid to face her.
March 14 Thursday: The telephone is restored at 244 Gray’s Inn Road. The trouble was that somebody inside the office, probably Noel, had partly disconnected it. I wonder if it was deliberate? Jane Tate says she keeps on getting messages of orders to the bookshop that have not been fulfilled. A copy of a letter from Fisher’s came today, complaining that the 1983 accounts had not been sent him for audit. I contacted Jane Tate. She had had a similar letter and rang Pat O’Donohue who told her he had given the books to Noel Gordon last September and he professed to have taken them to Fisher’s but actually kept them at home. Tony Coughlan left for the 11.01.
Jane Tate told me some time ago that our telephone bill is £100 greater this quarter than last and that she was querying it. But it seems Steve Huggett suggested that during the six or eight weeks when Helen McMurray was in Belfast, Noel Gordon must have been holding long conversations with her at our expense. He has lost the Constitution I gave him, so that I have to do that again. Mairin Johnston, who comes over next Sunday, is bringing slides for her lecture. So I rang Barney Morgan to get a projector. I also rang Michael Mortimer who has done duplicating for the conference, and Tom Walsh who will speak.
March 15 Friday: I met Michael Mortimer who gave me the duplicated papers he has done. As for the rest we had lunch, then had a prolonged drink.
March 16 Saturday (London): I caught the 10 am. and though thanks to a few flakes of snow it started 10 minutes late it reached Euston on time. I called in to Jane Tate. Michael Crowe was there. Then we started our conference. Noel Gordon had done nothing about it. He had called in to the office and collected £400. Stella Bond had called to his flat and tried to trace the Connolly Publications books he was to have taken to the auditor but seems to have lost. The supposed sick man was out – at the doctor’s, Helen McMurray claimed. They found half the constitutional amendments I had typed, but in the meantime I had done the job again. In making the search they found an old briefcase containing unopened and unanswered letters dating back to last November, also a book a customer was ringing about that Noel twice told Pat Bond he had posted. There was a general feeling that this was enough. He was drawing money and doing nothing and waiting for us to move. I resolved that he would wait no longer. Those present were myself, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Steve Huggett, Michael Crowe, Gerry Curran and a sprinkling of others. It was only the stalwarts, but oddly enough it gave an air of determination to the thing.
In the evening there was a successful social at the Calthorpe Arms [This social was on the eve of St Patrick’s Day]. Who should be there but Alec Digges [an early member of the Connolly Association and former International Brigader in Spain]. I did not recognise him and he did not recognise me. Tempora mutantur [ie. Times change]. He looks very old and frail and is under doctor’s care, living in an Old People’s Home. He has developed the most bitter acid temper you ever heard and several commented on it. It is the tongue of a clever failure who has turned to drink. Another present was Bill Burke, and of all people Frank Small, now well on in his thirties but still with the same pleasant personality [He had been active in the Connolly Association as an ebullient young man a decade before]. He had two Chinese girls with him. Tadhg Egan was also there. But young people, apart from PgH, were absent. I am becoming more favourably impressed by PgH and possibly he might, after taking his degree, replace Noel Gordon, who made not the slightest attempt to explain his absence.
I stayed the night with Flann Campbell and Mary. Flann has come back to the Connolly Association Executive after thirty years!
March 17 Sunday (Liverpool): Today some additional people came, including John Boyd, Joe O’Grady and others. We finished by mid-day, but not before I drafted a special resolution which Pat Bond proposed. It empowers the executive officers, that is Peter Mulligan, Jane Tate and myself to deal with the Noel Gordon crisis. In fact, since Steve Huggett and Roger Kelly are off the E.C. I have a complete working majority, but I thought it as well to have the Conference instruction given to those with the determination to carry it out. We held a brief meeting afterwards and transferred the bookshop to Pat Bond’s management. I will write to Noel asking him to discuss his future with myself and Peter Mulligan. Charlie Cunningham was there.
Of course there was much gossip. The pub in Marchmont Street stayed open all afternoon and Charlie Cunningham, Joe O’Grady and I availed of it [This was St. Patrick’s Day]. Charlie told me that Noel Gordon had quarrelled with Roger Kelly because the latter had tried to persuade him to break with Helen McMurray, who is liable to go off with somebody else. I had had suspicions of something like this, but of course might have made a wrong guess. Steve Huggett says that Noel’s statement that they were going to get married is probably fantasy. Noel is near 32 or 33 years of age. One would not expect him to get into the state he is. It is, as Gerry Curran says, all right for the back streets of Belfast, but not for a public institution in London. What seems to have caught him is Jane Tate’s demand for a doctor’s certificate to explain his absences over the past two weeks. I don’t believe he was anywhere near a doctor, nor do I believe he was ill – except psychologically. One thing interested me. Steve Huggett seconded the motion to deal with Noel. This shows he has lost the support of people who were previously soft towards him. Not that I intend to injure the boy. I’ve got to extricate the organisation and I will inflict the minimum pain that I can. I returned to Liverpool.
Among those present this morning was Chris Sullivan – who now sports a Karl Marx beard – who talked of the shenanigans in the CP. “And,” he said, “from our point of view it doesn’t matter a damn which side wins.” Paul Gilhooley wants me to speak to an MCF meeting [ie. the Movement for Colonial Freedom, now “Liberation”] on April 23rd or 25th.
March 18 Monday: I rang Stella Bond who told me that there was no sign of Noel Gordon. Anyway I posted him a letter conveying the decision of the conference and we will see how he reacts. He said a curious thing to me last time I stayed with him. He was not going to run the CA down after leaving the job. Well, why should he? We have put up with enough. But I think under the incompetence is a type of vanity that feeds on itself because there is no accomplishment to nourish it. So I would not predict.
I went into the city. Miracle of miracles, the “Morning Star” reported the Connolly Association AGM, with the selection of harmless quotations from our resolutions. I saw John Gibson who told me that BIevins is now in the Polytechnic Union, whereas it seems there is another area office in the unemployment centre run by Roger O’Hara, who is a fierce “Euro”. People from St. John Street [ie the CPGB Head Office in London] come to Liverpool, ignore BIevins and go to see O’Hara. So the organisation is dividing up much as the IRA divided up in 1922. So it seems that a split down the middle is inevitable.
March 19 Tuesday: I wrote to Rynie and John Boyd. He says the “Morning Star” three times agreed to publish an article on Spinelli but failed to do so and that Tony Benn is not interested[Altiero Spinelli, 1907-1986, leading European federalist who persuaded the European Parliament to support a Draft Treaty on European Union in 1984, which gave impetus to the negotiations that led to the Single European Act in 1986 and the Maastricht Treaty of 1992]. The English “Left” are putrid with chauvinism. The CND periodical “Sanity” has several articles on Ireland and a cover that would have suited an 1890 issue of “Punch”.
I rang up Pat Bond who said there was no sign of Noel Gordon. So that is that. Also Stella Bond called at his flat yesterday and got no answer. Then I came back from the city to find a letter from Jane Tate, which put a new twist to the spiral and contorted contortion. She was telephoned by Deputy Chief Inspector Andrews of the Crime Squad wanting to talk about the GLC forgeries. He wants to see the originals of the forged letters
Cui bono? “Green Ink” have been promised a grant but can’t find suitable premises. Did they want to prevent our chasing up the 1984-5 application and learning we must re-apply for 1985-6? The one who dismissed the motion of re-applying was Stephen Brennan. But Jane Tate took advice from Tomkins, the man who said the letters were forged. The amazing thing is that a forged letter from Rossi arrived just after Jane Tate had approached him. That time Jane said to me, “They seem to have remarkable information about whom we’re approaching.”
She rang in the evening. I would not discuss the police operations on the telephone. I am not convinced that the “dirty tricks” department have not a hand in all this, though I doubt it. Steve Huggett is giving up the Central London branch secretaryship. She thinks he is “fed up”, and anyway “blowing hot and cold”. One minute it is, “Poor Noel. We don’t pay him enough.” The next it is, “Why don’t you sack him – tomorrow Of course the office is falling on Pat Bond. But I don’t think work will give him another stroke, within reason. He got the stroke from injured amour propre when he was caught lying. At the same time the magnitude of a result demands a similar magnitude in the cause. Noel Gordon is not a total louser. So what is it? One of the two major forces – mulier, pecunia [Latin words for “woman” and “money”]. As for the first, there is a lot of socialist talk about the beneficial influence of women on men. I never once saw it. It is all romantic nonsense. Nor do I believe they ever had the opposite effect. Like all contact with the outside world, sexual relations bring out, give expression to, what the person really is, and nothing can be done about it but act accordingly.
Another thing Jane Tate said was interesting. People will not help in the bookshop while Noel Gordon is there. He and Helen McMurray are too unfriendly. Helen when, months ago, she was there – would sit reading a book and not even look at a customer offering money.
March 20 Wednesday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady on the phone. He told me he was in the House of Commons bar with Eric Heffer [a leading Liverpool Labour MP] when Gerry Fitt came in. Perhaps he found their lordships would not listen to him. Fitt has a fixation about the “Provisionals” and no doubt they treated him badly. He was also very much against the feminist movement, but spoke highly of the Connolly Association.
March 21 Thursday: I sat up well after midnight making a chronology of the GLC affair and Noel Gordon’s tantrums. His behaviour has been worsening continually. But one thing is clear. On or the day before February 28th Jane Tate was told by Tomkins that the letters we were sent were forgeries.
I spoke to Jane Tate in the morning. Her dates were not identical with mine. The things I noted I mostly got from her. But at the same time she does not always think as clearly. She asked my opinion of how much she should tell the C.I.D. I told her, “whatever they ask”. Who the villains are, God knows. Green Ink? The “dirty tricks” squad? Sinn Fein? The only thing that defeats me is the question of motive. It was in Noel’s interest to settle the thing up as quickly as possible. Whymess about? Jane Tate was talking about putting off her holiday in Cumberland next week. I told her to go and be damned.
I rang Stella Bond. She said they had got Paddy Byrne to come in on Wednesdays. There was no sign of Noel Gordon; nor has Helen McMurray communicated. She thinks he is suffering from “depression”. I remember Alan Morton having it. It seems to be to arise psychologically speaking from bottled up amour propre. She told me also that the forged letters contained typing errors. Why didn’t they notice this before? It seems possible the headed paper was stolen and the typing done outside the GLC. She thinks that Teresa McGing might take on the bookshop when her contract in East Germany runs out in the summer. In the meantime we save £100 per week. Pat Bond is talking of ringing Helen McMurray’s mother to see if they are in Belfast. For there is no answer from the flat. People call every day.
Later Jane Tate rang back. The police had asked her if we had spent any money on the strength of the forged letters. She replied in the negative. They replied that if that was the case then there was no criminal offences and they would pass the matter back to the GLC. This seems extraordinary. It seems as much as to say a man could leave a live landmine in Piccadilly Circus, and that, provided nobody trips on it and gets blown up, there is no criminal offence. But she also told us that Pat Bond had telephoned Helen McMurray’s mother and that Helen had written saying that Noel had been ill and would be back to work last Monday. I sent him a copy of our resolution and asked if he could meet Peter Mulligan and me on April 13th before the E.C. We can’t have this going on. One could of course ask him to resign at once, but best is to do exactly what the conference agreed.
I went into Birkenhead and had to wait half an hour for a ‘bus back, in the most piercing east wind imaginable. The barometer has dropped to 29.10 inches of mercury, very low; and throughout the day cloud was threatening. I hope it will be the third cold spell over. If there is anything in weather cycles it is interesting that this winter falls in line with 1895, 1917, 1940, 1963 – with 1929 the odd man out. This year has been savage on the continent, but broken by very mild spells in Ireland and Western Britain.
One thinks more on the London grant. Rossi asked if we could conceive of anybody who could gain anything by confusing us regarding the GLC grant. She said if “Green Ink” could delay us so that they opened before we had expanded our bookshop, it would obviously be to their advantage.
March 22 Friday: I began work on the paper. Tony Coughlan is up to his neck in CND work and only sent me three skimpy pieces and a load of clippings. Barney Morgan came in during the afternoon. I described Noel Gordon’s strange behaviour. Barney was all for getting rid of him as quickly as possible. “I’m not surprised,” he went on, “when he was up at my place I thought he was drinking heavily.” And now I think of it I have known him to speak after the manner of a man trying to keep his wits. And Helen McMurray has been at him for drinking. So possibly this plays a part. I had a word with Jane Tate. She goes away for a week’s holiday tomorrow – to Cumberland.
March 23 Saturday: The worst of the cold weather seems to be over, but it is still chilly and damp. A letter came from Dorothea [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schiutze in Halle, East Germany] saying she had had personal troubles (I guess with her children) and came near a nervous breakdown. Later Pat Bond rang. PgH is in the shop, which is doing well, but there is no word from Noel Gordon. Pat Bond said he thought there might be something in the booze thing. If he is on the batter he will not communicate. Later Barney Morgan rang saying he had gone to Clatterbridge to borrow a projector for Mairin Johnston’s slides and could not find it. Common sense would have dictated checking it before the last minute. I rang Mairin and told her. Then I bethought myself of Michael Mortimer and rang him. He said he couldn’t get one, so I rang Mairin Johnston again.
March 24 Sunday: I met Mairin Johnston at Chester and brought her on to Liverpool, where Barney Morgan met us and took us up to his new house for a quick meal. Then we came down to the Irish Centre where Mairin lectured and made an excellent impression. But there were only about 25-30 present. Michael Mortimer brought the projector. Joe O’Grady, Stephen Dowling and the usual people were there. She stayed with Barney.
March 25 Monday: I worked on the paper. Stella Bond rang up saying Fishers had not got our certificate of incorporation. The last time I saw it was, I think, in Brief’s office. I wrote to Pat O’Donohue about this. Pat Bond rang to tell me there was no sign of Noel Gordon. Fishers have definitely not got our books. So Noel, who was to have taken them in, has lost them. Later Jim Fyrth rang [ie. the editor of the book of articles on the Comintern in the 1930s, “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front”, that Greaves was writing on Ireland for]. I do not think he can be the man I knew in Wimbledon. He had a marked Cumberland or North Lancashire accent. This is definitely south of England. He seemed to be pleased with my contribution to his symposium. If it is printed – and the state of the CP being what it is, one never knows – it will be a useful counterblast to Myant and others. I have not done anything about the history of the Irish Labour Movement. I don’t know which side Lawrence and Wishart will incline to. I might get halfway through and then have to look for another publisher.
March 26 Tuesday: I spent most of the day on the paper. It went fairly smoothly. I took an evening out for once and went to “Don Giovanni” at the Empire. It was the Welsh National Opera. The singing was good, but the production and “scenery” were appalling. From the programme I gather that the producer has been bitten by some sort of Freudian bug. He seemed obsessed with clothes, which came floating down on strings, and were constantly being taken on or off. There was not the slightest attempt at realism, and as the thing was sung in Italian, unless you knew the opera you would be lost. It was the worst production I have ever seen. Woeful – and it cost me £11.
March 27 Wednesday: I rang the office. Paul Gilhooley was there. He said Pat Bond was taken ill, with bronchitis. He had seen Helen McMurray and said Noel Gordon must “still be pretty bad.” “What with?” I asked. “How does he manage to be ill, when he’s a hearty young fellow of 33?” “Well,” said Paul, “I think he drinks heavily.” So there it is again. Helen said she thought Noel would be back at work sometime this week. I’ve called a meeting for Saturday. Now I could have a show-down, but he presumably has the company books which, if they are not in his possession, are lost. So I cannot afford too hastily to snap the cable. I rang Peter Mulligan and he agreed to come to London on Saturday.
A letter from John Joe Hoey in the USA (presumably a friend of Joe Jamison’s) sent a statement from the American Peace Council, which shows that they have done what we suggested. It is a defence of Irish neutrality.
Incidentally, Charlie Cunningham suggested that the ructions in the CP have much to do with Noel Gordon’s demoralization, and PgH thinks the same. I told him I would not lower myself to take part in all the intrigues and recriminations. He said he could see the point in that.
Later I met George Davies at the Shaftesbury. He had been in South Wales and said the CP was in a state of utter demoralisation. I had a good word for young Dai Richards, but he hadn’t [Dai Richards was a Welsh miners’ leader]. I can understand the crudities of Russian practice. George Davies judges by politics alone. He has no insight into the man. Dai Richards started in the Connolly Association and was drawn into the CP. And I suppose he is now a prisoner and realises he has to be a voluntary prisoner. I see this again and again with George Davies. However he co-operates. I have no doubt he would like to see me in the ranks of the NCP! He wanted me to speak at one of their meetings in Blackburn. But I declined, not because they are who they are, but because they have some absurd “video” of Belfast. He also said he thought the CP conference was only a head count and the E.C. would win hands down. That seems to bear out what Paul Gilhooley says. I told George Davies that I did not like the position where Eddie Glackin and dissidents in the CPI were coming over consulting him. I didn’t want the CPI split on the basis of British allegiance. He tried to reassure me. He suffers from the common English disease of having come to a new and complete understanding of the Irish question. But at least he is talkable to.
There were only five people at the CA meeting that followed – Pat Doherty, Michael Mortimer, Barney Morgan Joe O’Grady and myself. I think Michael Mortimer is doing a Noel Gordon on us. He said he had sent out notices – but I saw Desmond Wells at the Irish Centre and he said he had not received one. It is the same old trouble, booze. I received the extraordinary news that Cyril Taylor is in hospital after some hoodlum stabbed him.
March 28 Thursday: The weather is still cold. This has only just missed being a really bad winter, and indeed the East has been badly hit. But the first daffodil was out and a solitary snowdrop has been there for some time. Michael Mortimer rang up with information. And whatever about Desmond Wells, Susan Schafer rang and said she had had a notice. He probably posted an insufficient number. There was news from London. All three of my seed orders went astray. That must mean a Post Office bag is wandering in the wilderness. I re-ordered from Suttons and Thompson and Morgan, but await a form from Dobies.
March 29 Friday: Milder weather has arrived at last. There may be a final chill in April, but I think that’s the end of the winter. I went into the city and bought a few things. among them a “Morning Star”– Gaster has written an open letter to Gordon McLennan [Gaster was CDG’s solicitor and a member of the CPGB]. Tom Durkin has been in Manchester and BIevins has come out openly, and with some temerity I think, for the rebels. I rang Frank Watters and arranged to go to Sheffield. Peter Mulligan rang saying he would be there tomorrow, and Pat Bond rang saying there was still no sign of Noel Gordon, but that Helen McMurray had sent Gerry Curran a cheque for £200. I asked Pat Bond what he made of this. He thought that she was determined to pay the debts while there was any money left. It struck me that she decided that what was paid back couldn’t be drunk.
March 30 Saturday (London/Liverpool): A letter came from Fisher’s saying that unless the “Irish Democrat” accounts were available I could be landed with an income tax assessment I would have to pay. Now this disturbed me, as the books have disappeared while in Noel Gordon’s custody. However, I was going to London to what was in effect an emergency meeting and resolved to raise the matter then. When I got there I found that Noel had been in and had deposited the books and left a note to Pat Bond. In it he said he was going away, that he and Helen McMurray had decided to “separate temporarily” and that his “life” was in what he called “disarray”. I also discovered that Pat O’Donohue had paid the cheque not to Noel, as was provided in the decision to give him a loan, but to Helen McMurray. He takes too much on himself, but I am not in a position to prevent it.
At the beginning of the meeting Pat O’Dononue sat sulking. Gerry Curran had agreed to come in for the shop, but Pat Bond had brought in Paul Gilhooley as well. He had bronchitis and was tetchy as be damned. He is similar to Pat O’Donohue. Neither of them can control their feelings, and for reasons best known to himself – if he is capable of reason – Pat Bond had not invited Philip Rendle who, whatever his deficiencies, is sober. At one point Bond threw up his arms in a gesture of frustration and declared, “Oh! How I wish I was younger.” The man is only 56, and in my opinion will not see 60 unless he learns to control his emotions. Indeed, he’ll have another stroke if he’s not careful. But it’s no use talking. He’s like a big kid. And of course you can feel sorry for him, but his disability has made him more like himself. He is entirely without cultural ballast. Gerry Curran is of course good-tempered but lazy. Every single one of them will do what they want to do, and a minimum of what is necessary. At one point Pat Bond, in an outburst of self-pity, described himself as “muggins” because he was going to look into the matter of shutters for the shop. He is playing the martyr. Peter Mulligan is strong on criticism, but unable to do much from being in Northampton. I got what I wanted, but at the expense of having to keep calm in some stormy waters.
Later Gerry Curran and I had a drink with Paul Gilhooley. He thinks he has his examinations more or less in the bag. I hope so. I am considering whether he might possibly take over from Noel Gordon if I can take over for the next few months. Regarding the CP conference he says, ” The whole lot of us will be fucked out.” But when I look at the names of the dissidents, they include people who have been the backbone of the party for years – Max Druck, Jack Askins, Jim Arnison, Stan Cole. And the people who would be expelling them are whippersnappers!
Another amusing thing: Paul Gilhooley says that Mary Rosser knows nothing about Ireland and cares less, but she wants Eoin Ó Murchú and others to write articles calling for a declaration of intent to withdraw so as to annoy Chris Myant!
March 31 Sunday: The daffodils are all out, thanks to the renewed mild weather. I wrote to Pat O’Donohue, got some notices for the E.C. meeting, and sub-edited Paul Gilhooley’s resolution for the CND conference. I got quite a deal done today. I wrote the letter to Noel Gordon giving something of an ultimatum. I sent a copy to Peter Mulligan. I sent out a few notices for the E.C. on the 13th. And wrote other letters.
Later I got hold of Jane Tate and decided to attend the Central London branch AGM. My plan is to try to stimulate Central London first. I think Pat Bond’s impossible manners are part of the troubles with South London. If the cat had kittens he would answer the news of it with, “I didn’t put her in the family way.” Jane Tate thinks he has really thrown up the sponge. I’m not sure it is quite that bad, but it is bad enough. She told me that Gerry Curran was mistaken in telling me that Pat O’Donohue had issued a cheque to Helen McMurray. She had made it out to Noel Gordon, but apparently all the money he received was paid into her account. He hadn’t an account. But I have seen him draw cheques. So how can this be true? It seems Pat Bond rang her this morning but didn’t tell her anything about yesterday’s meeting. I have a cold coming on.
April 1 Monday: I went to Ripley, and what a day! There was every conceivable delay. The 64 ‘bus did not come. The lift jammed at Hamilton Square. I missed the 10.00 am. train and had to wait till 12.15 and had to take a taxi costing £7.50 to Ripley. And it was nearly as bad coming back. Jane Tate rang later on.
April 2 Tuesday: After a delay in which nothing much happened – though the two Forsythias sprang into bloom – I met Joe Sims at Lime Street. He is a lecturer in criminology at Liverpool Polytechnic where Michael Mortimer works part-time. He appeared in a jean jacket, sporting a huge moustache and is a Scot. If he dressed this way to go down to the Bridewell I don’t wonder the police brushed him aside. However he is a bright enough young fellow and I may get him interested in the PTA.
Then I went for dinner at Michael Mortimer’s. His fifteen-year-old daughter was there, her hair like a coach crash, in bare feet and the knees out of her jeans. I remember Ester Henrotte, “trying to get more out of life than there is in it”, as her mother put it [Greaves shared a house or apartment with Esther Henrotte as a young man]. I inspected his computer.
April 3 Wednesday (Sheffield/Liverpool): I went to Sheffield and met Frank Watters. He says only he and Ron Bellamy are “hardliners” in Yorkshire. Baruch’s father is all right, but John, who keeps up his CA membership, is not. He thinks he could get me a series of meetings in Yorks but thinks it best to await the autumn. He says the “Euroes” intend to hold a gerrymandered head-count in May, to be followed by more expulsions. Then they think there will be a great influx of new members and they will be vindicated. He said the NUM [ie. the National Union of Mineworkers, led by Arthur Scargill, then in conflict with Mrs Thatcher’s Government] faced the greatest crisis in its history. I arranged to go to Chester with Joe O’Grady tomorrow, but cannot trace the name of the hotel where the Fenians stayed. I rang Pádraig Ó Snodaigh but he could not find it. Later Steve Huggett rang and asked me to go to London for the Central London AGM. There is no sign of Noel Gordon.
April 4 Thursday: I met Michael Mortimer for a few minutes at midday. He has again been late in sending out the notices. Then I met Joe O’Grady at Rock Ferry. We went to Chester City library where we looked up the “Chester Chronicle” and found a reference to the Queen’s Hotel. We also called to the tourist office and ultimately found the Queen’s Hotel, which we had missed at the station, having turned right to Frodsham Street. Unfortunately it was raining, though mild, so we did not go to the castle.
Incidentally Michael Mortimer, who is researching on the Birkenhead Labour movement in the thirties, called into their new premises (in the Polytechnic area) hoping to see Blevins. He says there was nobody there.
April 5 Friday: A letter came from the NCCL and another from Atherton of the Birkenhead CP. I feel sorry for these people who are going to be so badly let down next month. He writes about “getting the Birkenhead CP going again,” or something to this effect. It seems to me that something will have to be done to keep these people together. But there is dissent but no positive leadership on the Left side. If you take Tom Durkin, he is a strong traditionalist, but there is no creative alternative to the official revisionism. I did some clearing up and a very little in the garden.
April 6 Saturday: The weather remains tolerably mild. I did some clearing up but did not get into the garden, where there is great activity. I am frantically eating pamphreys before they run to seed. Some seeds arrived from Suttons. For some mysterious reason – a lost mailbag? – all three of the seed orders posted on Friday 6th went astray. I rang up the three firms, asking for a separate form. Suttons sent a form by return and a letter. The seeds came by return again. Thompson and Morgan said write out the order yourself. So far no seeds have arrived. Dobies promised a form but it has not come. So I deal with Suttons in future.
April 7 Sunday: It was a trifle milder today, wet in the morning but with a dry interval in the afternoon. I have filled the space earmarked for the white currant that did not come from Dobies with a blackcurrant that sowed itself. It looks all right. Today I put down more KNO3 round cauliflowers and blackcurrants, and sowed Erica – which I now use as the main salad rather than lettuce – and some of last year’s radish seeds to see if they will germinate. The Forsythias are at their best, but there is no blossom on the plum or damson. This may be better than last year when they were early and no insects about.
April 8 Monday: This was a wet and miserable day and I got precious little done. It is also turning cooler.
April 9 Tuesday: Stella Bond sent me on a letter from Jack Bennett’s mad brother who is “living with a woman” in Rome [Erna/Ernest Bennett was a transgender person who worked as a scientist in the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Rome and maintained a keen interest in Irish affairs]. He wanted me to address a meeting which arose out of a visit by Martin Collins. There is a secret Trotsky influence in that Labour Committee on Ireland. Needless to say, I replied that I would not. I spoke to the Health Services Union at 2 pm.
April 10 Wednesday: There was a very good meeting of the Liverpool Connolly Association, which Michael Mortimer did not attend. Barney Morgan was late. Tom Walsh, the guest, was on time. Joe O’Grady is by far the best of them. Pat Doherty was there. It was his son Barry who was the chairman at yesterday’s meeting. I was very favourably impressed by the young fellow. I must get him invited to branch meetings.
April 11 Thursday: It was a very cold, wet and miserable day, plunging us back into winter. I went into the city and had lunch there. Jane Tate told me there was no sign of Noel Gordon. I commented that none of the E.C. seem to feel any indignation over his behaviour. She agreed and suggested that he might have been doing a martyr act unbeknownst to us. So perhaps more will come out yet. Michael Mortimer did not ring to explain himself or apologise and when I rang him gave me some mularkey that he’d fallen asleep in his chair – if so, what had he taken before he did so? I posted a final letter to Noel.
Michael Mortimer told me he had seen Marsby there, who said the meeting was good. I would say there was about 15 at it. These included that same Marsby, the other starry-eyed leftist Steve Dowling and another one, a tall pasty young fellow I can smell the Trotskyism from. I’d trust him as far as I could throw him. They are talking of picketing the court when Betty O’Shea comes up for trial. But that same madwoman is touring the country holding public meetings. Tom Walsh rightly described her as a “somewhat wild lady”.
April 12 Friday: Another miserable dark gloomy damp cold day. For all that I went into Birkenhead, did a photostat of the Buffer’s needle solution for De Roe (Tony Coughlan got it me) and sent it him [This was a mathematical solution to the problem which De Roe, the warden at Dolgoch youth hostel, had discussed with Greaves on his last visit there. Anthony Coughlan had got the solution from someone in the Trinity College Maths Department. See the entry for October 19th 1984, Vol.33]. I sent not a few more letters too and spoke to Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan and Gerry Curran. At midday a letter from Noel Gordon arrived, a trifle apologetic, saying he had registered as unemployed and told them he had left his previous job on March 2nd. So that is clarified. I told Jane Tate and Peter Mulligan. Not that he has not left potential trouble behind. Helen McMurray sent Gerry Curran £200. This seems to indicate they divided the £400 between them and she sent hers back. Jane Tate thinks she was to have left the flat and gone to her friend in Hammersmith. But what of the other £200? He says he will pay back anything the CA thinks he is not entitled to when he gets on his feet. So there is a clear hint that we had or well give it him. As for the repayment of Pat Bond’s and Pat O’Donohue’s mysterious “other debts”, they do not enter into it. He finally says that he didn’t mean any harm. I don’t believe he did. But mean and do are distinct verbs.
April 13 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10 am., though I did not see Joe O’Grady before I got to Euston. We had lunch at the Cypriot in Bloomsbury, then went to the office. Peter Mulligan was there, plus Gerry Curran, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Sean Burke, Philip Rendle, Pat O’Donohue and a young woman called Bourke who is training to be a solicitor. There is considerable malaise, and I am going to have my work cut out with them. Political discussion is virtually non-existent, and the only response I got when I pointed this out was from Michael Crowe and Philip Rendle. Gerry Curran was depressed because Bob Wynn had telephoned saying Toni Curran had only three weeks to live. He had telephoned me last night to say she was back in hospital, but at that time he did not know how serious it was. Pat Bond is getting completely impossible and behaves like a spoilt child. I think he suffers from gigantic self- pity. If somebody said the cat had kittens, Pat Bond would blurt out indignantly that he was not the father. People are getting afraid to say anything in front of him. His South London branch is in chaos, and of course people will not attend. He drives them away by his almost tearful, martyred pleading. He will also drive customers from the shop. To make matters worse, “Green Ink” have got a shop in Archway and are now competing with £55,000 of GLC grant while we’ve still not got a penny. My reply will be a political fight, but I don’t suppose Pat Bond will even recognise it. Possibly the demoralisation of the CP has left some of these people in the air. But the only thing he is really interested in is himself, and the work he did is merely the expression of his self-expression, a sort of emotional tautology. I don’t know how long it can go on. Charlie Cunningham was in the shop. He exudes a quite different atmosphere. Nobody could like Pat Bond; everyone likes Charlie Cunningham. I went over to the Celtic League book fair at the Welsh Hall, where Paul Gilhooley was running our stall. He had left me a note, after trying to persuade me to speak at a “Liberation” meeting on April 25th, to the effect that they wanted the CA to pay my expenses. I suggested to the E.C. that they decline, which they did. I told Paul Gilhooley this and he said that the proposal had come from Tony Gilbert, husband of Kay Beauchamp, and it was intended as a wrecking proposal as Gilbert doesn’t want to support a united Ireland. I mentioned Kay Beauchamp and he said she was an unpleasant old woman who took out her ill-temper on others including himself. He has agreed to become secretary of the Central London branch if nominated on Tuesday, but Jane Tate has her reservations about him; as he has been late in keeping appointments, but she is a stickler. The question is can he be brought up to professional standards. Anyway, I am going on Tuesday. I saw Pádraig Ó Conchúir and Brian Stowell at the Welsh Hall. So then I had a drink with Joe O’Grady and Charlie Cunningham and returned to Liverpool.
One little item: the correspondence contained a letter from Tony Gilbert making the suggestion that anti-imperialist organisations participating in the “Morning Star” field day at Alexandra Palace should meet to discuss a common position. I said I suspected a caucus meeting and that we should keep out. I could tell that Philip Rendle was relieved. As for Pat Bond he agreed but on purely organisational grounds: “Is the ‘Morning Star’ really worth the money anyway?” We would pay £30 for a stall. The weather remained dry and cold.
April 14 Sunday: The weather was too cold for work in the garden, so I started on the paper, which I intend to revamp. I told Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] about Toni Curran and later rang Niall Curran and Bob Wynn. I said Jane Tate and I had discussed going to see her and he thought it a good idea. At present she thinks they are trying to save her, but Bob Wynn says it is hopeless. On top of the damage done by radiotherapy there is a fresh growth, so that it is a matter of weeks. The boys are upset now. I suppose previously they thought it might never happen. Apart for that I wrote to Sean MacBride [former Irish Foreign Minister and now a leading international peace campaigner], Noel Gordon, Roger Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, De Roe, Tony Donaghey, Mairin Johnston, Terry Coniffe and Patricia Bourke. Pat Bond rang, in a somewhat better mood, but his useful literal brain ousted self. He tells me “Liberation” have their leaflets out with my name on it, but don’t want to pay the fare!
I was telephoned by George Davies, who told me that his “Non-Interference Committee” [ie. a committee Davies had established to take up the Irish issue] are going to hold a “fringe” meeting at the TGWU conference in June, in competition with the Labour Committee on Ireland, with whom they are not on good terms. I had advised him not to. But he talks of an “agreement” with the Labour Committee on Ireland which they have broken. The young people will try to make things more definite than they in fact are!
April 15 Monday: I went into Birkenhead to the bank and to make purchases. Then Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady and I met at the Irish Centre to discuss Liverpool Connolly Association plans. It is interesting that Joe O’Grady, though a staunch Catholic and Labour Party worker, thinks Blevins and the New Communist Party the best of the “left groups”.
April 16 Tuesday (London): I caught the 3.50, expecting to reach Euston by 6.45, where John Boyd was to meet me. There was an engine failure just beyond Rugby and we were an hour late. I had a few words with John, who told me that after weeks of effort the “Morning Star” has still not published his article on the Spinelli plan [This was the scheme for the EU single market and the later European monetary union, which led to the Single European Act treaty in 1986, the following year]. I think this shows that Chater and Co. are as big rats as McLennan and his. I have long thought it possible that when the split takes place, if he still retains control of the “Morning Star”, Chater and Co will take it away to the right. He will need to if he is to get the Trade Union support he is looking for.
I addressed the Central London branch which was holding its AGM. Paul Gilhooley has agreed to take over the secretaryship. Jane Tate is to be the chairman and Philip Rendle the treasurer. Paul is improving, and his support for the E.C. [ie. the CPGB Executive] is based more on suspicion of Chater than anything else. Elsie O’Dowling was there, looking very frail. She cannot be far from 90. She came in a taxi and Steve Huggett took her back.
April 17 Wednesday (Liverpool): I stayed the night with Jane Tate and the two of us this morning went to see Toni Curran. She is drip fed through a tube – amino acids in one reservoir, carbohydrates in another. Apparently though they had given her up, the hospital managers have been so impressed by her will to live that they are going to try more “chemo-therapy”. Apparently a fresh tumour has appeared which has bunched her intestines together. She is alert and cheerful, talks about politics and other peoples’ affairs – she is quite unlike the typical cancer patient who retires within a personal shell. “That girl’s got guts!” said Jane Tate as we came away. I went to Euston and returned to Liverpool.
April 18 Thursday: The weather has taken up, I fear only temporarily, but I did not get much done. I had a word with Tony Coughlan in the morning. He is coming over tomorrow. Owen Morris, who appears to me an excellent man, completely positive and with no nonsense – and aren’t they rare without this? – sent me addresses of Welsh organisations. George Davies also sent material. He has advertised Sean Redmond for his conference, but when I spoke to Sean I found he had jumped the gun, and there are developments I don’t like. Tom Redmond has been round Scotland for the Labour Committee on Ireland. The “delegation” George Davies is inviting is likely to consist of Tom Redmond, Eddie Glacken or another CPI dissident. I told George Davies I trusted he wasn’t interfering in CPI affairs. I have of course no confidence in Tom Redmond. His behaviour in 1959 was woeful. Thanks to him we lost the North London minutes. And I’m not too sure of the others. I can see the possibility of a fiasco, but it may not be. Sean Redmond tells me he is going to this jamboree in Rome, which the City Council are putting on before they are (possibly) voted out of office in June. Still, feicimid.
April 19 Friday: A letter came from Pat Bond saying he was discussing this wee girl, Patricia Bourke’s, possibility of working full-time in the bookshop. He has jumped the gun. He is of course a big baby. He wants another girl who is in Germany to be the CA organiser. He no doubt has visions of himself doing what he pleases and having two admiring pliable young ladies at his beck and call. Pat O’Donohue is as bad. He writes that he “has decided” to pay a bill which will require a transfer of £500 from Jane Tate’s Account. He has not consulted her. I think he has the delusions of petty grandeur. I did nothing at once but decided to get the committee in control as soon as possible. This is of course part of the aftermath of Noel Gordon’s collapse.
Tony Coughlan arrived at about 3.15 pm., thanks to the Holyhead train arriving a few minutes early. He also has been in touch with Sean MacBride. He has been up to his eyes combatting Spinelli and has got Brian Anderson [Dublin Trade Unionist] to promise to try to propose an emergency resolution at the Labour Party conference. Roy Johnston was to have done it through a Labour Party committee he is on [ie. the Irish Labour Party], but failed to attend the meeting from anxiety to get a two months’ subsidised holiday in France. He is a complete philistine.
April 20 Saturday: Tony Coughlan left at about 11.30. We were discussing speakers for the November 30 conference and I thought of Barbara Castle. I haven’t met her for years, but she just might remember me. [This was for the conference on “National Sovereignty and the Defence of the Nation State” which Greaves and the Connolly Association were planning as a response to the European Community plan for the supranational “single market” to be brought into being by the 1986 Single European Act. Barbara Castle was a former left-wing Labour Minister who had been a leading opponent of EEC membership in Harold Wilson’s 1975 UK referendum. Greaves seems to have been unaware at the time of this entry that Mrs Castle had by then become leader of the Labour Party MEPs in the European Parliament and had reversed her previously Eurocritical views and purported to believe in “reforming” the EC “from within”.] I did some work on the paper. The weather is now cold and miserable again.
April 21 Sunday: Another cold wretched gloomy day with a North-East wind. I did not go out but got on with the paper. I had a word with Jane Tate in the evening. The trouble is there is no political direction there and little mistakes are made that any moment might grow into big ones. I think I will move in on Saturday and get them to agree that a condition of taking the bookshop job is qualifications in book-keeping and/or accountancy. That would make us independent of Pat O’Donohue. He is capable of threatening to resign. He might be capable of doing it. Better to have someone to fall back on. I also had a word with Joe Deighan in the evening [Joe Deighan, former leading CA member, was now living in Belfast].
Jane Tate says that Paul Gilhooley shows signs of unreliability but thinks that Pat Bond is putting too much work on him, and that Bond “hasn’t a clue” in such matters. But I note she herself repeatedly “gets things wrong” because she doesn’t understand fine distinctions, only broad ones. And could I believe that if I had been there and going in every day, I would not have smelled a rat when those letters came in, and nobody saw the envelopes they are supposed to have arrived in. I must have a look at them.
April 22 Monday: I was busy on the paper all day, but in the evening met Susan Schafer and Joe O’Grady to discuss the conference on June 15th [ie. a planned Liverpool CA branch conference on “Pollution in the Irish Sea”, including criticism of the Sellafield nuclear power plant which was causing much public concern at the time].
April 23 Tuesday: I finished the paper but for one page.
April 24 Wednesday: I finished the paper and wrote quite a few letters. I spoke to Michael Mortimer, who said he has sent off the notices. Paul Gilhooley rang saying this man Tom Campbell they are bringing from Belfast (of all places) to talk about Irish neutrality is unsound on the Border. Would I speak last? I said I preferred to speak first. Let him disagree with me and it’s on him. Then I spoke to George Davies, who said “Liberation” had been “captured” by the Fergus Nicholson ultra-left faction and that my chairperson will be one of them. Then there is also Tom Durkin! I also spoke to John Gibson and Dermot Nolan, who said he could speak at our conference on pollution.
April 25 Thursday (London): I took the 1 pm. train to London and met Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley at the office. I had a meal with him. He told me he was applying for a job with Cumann na nGael, an East End Irish welfare society that is operating under GLC grant. I suggested he should consider Noel Gordon’s job, but he talked about £100 a week, which means that Noel has been talking to him and making himself out poorer than he was [His actual pay was some £125 a week].
We went to the meeting. About 40 turned up. The “proletarian” group was in evidence but Kay Beauchamp and Tolhurst assured me that Liberation was not “captured” and was taking no part in the CP ructions. Tom Durkin thought the CP was quite possibly finished, as he thought the Jacques faction was only interested in middle-class common-room chatter. Kay Beauchamp on the other hand thought no such thing and both she and Tony Gilbert thought the quarrel was ridiculous and largely personal except insofar as it involved the ownership of certain assets. The young fellow from Belfast was originally from Enniskillen and wasn’t a bad lad. But in answering questions he launched a bitter attack on Sinn Fein, which drew protests from the floor which shook him considerably. I had tried to set the scene for him by saying that I appreciated that as a Six County trade unionist he couldn’t say all he might like. But he brushed this aside by saying he was speaking in a personal capacity. So of course he had to stand over everything. Pat Bond was there and sold a few books; also a man who said he had last met me in Wimbledon in 1937. I tried to discover his name, but either he thought I knew it and did not, or he was not too keen on telling me. Of course in appearance he’d be a good 70. So who was he? I stayed with Jane Tate.
April 26 Friday: I had intended to go the British Museum at Colindale but got trapped in the office. Later I met John Boyd at Ealing and spent the evening there going over plans for the conference on the definition of the Nation State [John Boyd was an Englishman whose interest in national democracy and the national question had been stimulated by his membership of the Connolly Association, to which he was introduced by Mrs Toni Curran. He established the Campaign Against Euro-federalism, which campaigned in Labour circles for UK withdrawal from the EU until the 2016 Brexit referendum]. He has two “teenage” sons, the younger one aged 14 at least six foot high. He plays the trumpet, but badly. The elder one, Kevin, plays the horn and obviously has musical ability. Indeed John played a recording of a composition – a school carol – that I judged to be Brahms via Hubert Parry, but if not very original, for what that is worth, it had to be composed.
April 27 Sunday (Liverpool): John Boyd brought me in to Northfields and I went to the office. A wee girl was there, looking after the shop. Then Gerry Curran came in and introduced me to the mot’s niece [ie. niece of the lady whom Gerry Curran later married]. At the meeting Pat Bond said that he had asked her to come into the shop four days a week and proposed to pay her £10 a day. Apparently this had been cooked up with Gerry Curran. It illustrates the position. All these stunts, like Noel Gordon’s, have Pat Bond in them. They can twist him round their fingers. He is impulsive and irrational. Anyway, I said I was totally opposed to it and it was thrown out. Later Gerry Curran said he was astonished that Pat Bond had not discussed it with us. Jane Tate was astonished that they gaily committed the Association’s funds on fait accomplis.
Before the meeting began Jane told me that Pat Bond and Stella, again entirely off their own bat, had thrown masses of paper away, including valuable archive material. He can’t stick to his own job. However, among some of the paper thrown out was a load of Camden Borough Council notepaper. I decided I would be chairman from now on. The wee girl, Patricia Bourke, had been talking with Pat Bond about the bookshop manager’s job – he is also in correspondence with a girl in Germany about the same job. He makes these reckless commitments on all sides. I told her it depended entirely on whether we got a GLC grant. I also told her she’d have to learn book-keeping. Pat O’Donohue exploded in Gerry Curran’s face over the issue of insuring the premises. He avails of every opportunity to defend Noel Gordon, although every day shows fresh evidence of his dereliction of duty. I had drafted a circular which Jane Tate duplicated and provided Noel with a list of towns. Jane spoke to the librarians who should have received this circular. None had seen it. We found the lot packed away in a drawer. He had done nothing but swore to Jane Tate at least six times that all had gone out. Every day fresh evidence of his incompetence comes out. Now I personally would give Paul Gilhooley the job and chance the luck, but they’re all at sixes and sevens. I insisted on a political discussion and got Philip Rendle’s support. I think he is coming round. But then Pat Bond told me that the “Morning Star” has printed the name of the Connolly Association in a list of supporting organisations. I rang Paul Gilhooley to ask if he had authorised this and he said he hadn’t, but he had been approached and said he had no authority. So they jumped the gun on him. I then came back to Liverpool.
It is worth recording that I was told, I think by Gerry Curran, that that rat Myant had failed to secure election as a delegate.
April 28 Sunday: The cold weather continues. There were flakes of snow in London yesterday. In the morning Pat O’Donohue rang from Paddy Byrne’s. I rang Michael Mortimer who has not done the notices but says he will. Barney Morgan is on holiday and will not be there on Wednesday. I wrote to Chris O’Sullivan, Pat O’Donohue (confirming), Pat Bond and Colm Power, also sent tax papers to Fishers.
April 29 Monday: The weather was still cold and turned wet. I went to Ripley. Things could have gone worse. I have been trying to “tart up” the “Democrat”, but havn’t always succeeded in getting the printer to do what I want. I decided to go to London again tomorrow where Jane Tate will run off some notices for the Pollution conference [ie. the conference in Liverpool on pollution and militarization of the Irish Sea]. She told me that Paul Gilhooley would like the Connolly Association job but couldn’t live on Noel Gordon’s pay. There are other mysteries. Apparently Helen McMurray did not return till March, and he did not deposit his pay cheques till then. What was he living on?
April 30 Tuesday (London/Liverpool): I went to London again after ringing Michael Mortimer, solely in order to get notices of the conference duplicated. Jane Tate was in the office with Stella Bond. Paul Gilhooley had been in and had gone to Tony Gilbert at “Liberation”. He came back before Jane Tate and I went to the photocopiers. When I returned to the office he was typing. I have been watching him and think he’s got something in him and could make an organiser. He has energy and enthusiasm, though he is very young, just 22. If he does it he will bring in people of his own generation. But he will be likely to jump the gun.
He had been thrown into a state of excitement after talking to John Boyd. He had gone to the “Morning Star” asking why the article had not been published – the article against the Spinelli plan. He had seen Trask – the high-principled anti-E.E.C. man who was expelled from the CP – who said the whole thing was a triviality. But the young fellow persisted and finally was told, by somebody else I think, that there were political objections. Were they “Euro”? No. Were they “hard line left”? No. There was no sense forthcoming. “I’ll tell you what they were,” said I. “These people are going to print a commercial daily relying on orders from Trade Unions. Half the unions are pro-EEC. So where will they get their orders from?” Of course it all shows the absurd fallacy of trying to run a paper to further CP policy on a commercial basis. I suspected this would happen and we can see it already. Moreover, they have not got any agreement with the Unions on working the new press. There is a danger of a fiasco.
May 1 Wednesday: A letter came from Pat Bond. Another from Susan Schafer’s young son in Bangor. I later got Jane Tate at the office, and Pat Bond insisted on speaking to me, even more than ever the whinging martyr. I can quite understand why the South London people people find it so hard to work with him. Then I spoke to Susan Schafer who had been in Barrow yesterday. This woman Ensing wants us to put our conference off, but I’m having none of it.
The AGM of the Liverpool Connolly Association took place in the evening. It was poorly attended. Barney Morgan, who told me he would be on holiday, had told Joe O’Grady that he might, but was apparently still at home yesterday. Anyway he was not there. But Michael Mortimer produced minutes and a verbal report, and Joe O’Grady a financial report. Pat Doherty was there, and a young man of about 30 brought by Joe O’Grady whose name is Kavanagh and I think might join. The “CPML“[ie. Communist Party Marxist Leninist] (Reg Birch’s outfit) had a meeting next door and one of their members from Manchester took a CA recruiting leaflet.
May 2 Thursday: I went into town and bought a few things and wrote 12 letters. The rhododendron has been in flower three days, but one flower after another, as happens when it is cold. But there is a great display of purple larvaria. I rang Ashford and he came, promising to repair the wall on Tuesday. And I spoke to Joe Deighan about Monday [when he was going to give a lecture in Befast].
May 3 Friday: I did plenty of ringing up and arranging but I couldn’t say I saw much for the day, but I rang Ashford who promised to mend the garden wall on Tuesday and finish the roof. He called in. Then Pringle rang also, offering to do it but saying he had mixed our appointment up!
May 4 Saturday (Dublin): I caught the 11 am. on to Chester – I did not want to risk missing the connection – and thence to Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] to Dún Laoghaire. Muriel Saidlear and Eddie Cowman were to meet me. Tony Coughlan was in Sligo where Jim MacDonald [a former Connolly Association member in London] is doing powerful work. Eddie Cowman stayed the night.
May 5 Sunday: We went to the Spring show of the RDS [Royal Dublin Society] where CND have a stall that cost them £300. In the evening a few people came – Eddie Cowman, Asmal and his wife, one of the younger CND men, Dermot Nolan, and others. However, we could discuss nothing for Asmal planted himself in the best chair and more or less held court. Nobody could get a word in edgeways and I wondered why Tony Coughlan had invited him, and indeed he was wondering himself before it was over. When the others had gone Dermot Nolan disclosed that he had applied for Bruce Kent’s job and that the NCP had been in Dublin, George Davies among them. Now should one connect the two phenomena? Nolan said he was “out of favour with the CPI”, possibly by another factor.
May 6 Monday: I went to Belfast. Joe Deighan and Dorothy met me. I had enquired about Gambles’ bookshop which Mary Campbell had told me about. They were of course closed for the bank holiday but said they would be very happy to open for myself, so we went there. Mary Campbell says it’s the best bookshop in Ireland. I think it is. I got some of Michael Crowe’s father’s books and two volumes of “The History of Methodism” in Ireland. Then we had a quick coffee and went to Father Desmond Wilson’s place in the Lower Falls. I gave a lecture on Marx and Ireland. There were over 100 there, including the priest himself, and Jimmy Stewart, Michael Morrissey, John McClelland, Bobby Heatley, Jim Anderson, who used to be in London, and many more. It was a most successful meeting. Joe Deighan took the chair. Of course there were one or two “lefts” there and Michael Morrissey asked an anti-Republican question.
I had a desperate journey back to Dublin. There had been one of these crazy mass races and a particularly obnoxious gurrier crowd took over the bar and were shouting and bellowing and bawling and screeching and screaming and kicking up the devil’s own hullabaloo until your ears rang. Then they started dancing “rock and roll” and even got the length of surreptitiously throwing Guinness at each other. Muriel Saidlear met me, and Cathal, Helga, Micheál Ó Loingsigh and Eibhlín came later. I told Cathal that Colm Power had sent a brush-off in response to my latest friendly letter and I suspected he was going off his head, which was what they thought too. Tony Coughlan had been to a meeting but got in by 10.30 pm.
May 7 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan came with me to Dun Laoire and I caught the 8.45 am. Yesterday was cold and wet. Today was delightful, though when the sun went down it was clear that we are getting air from far North. I got back at 3 pm. – they are holding the Rail Ferry train now. I rang Michael Mortimer, who said his car was stolen last night and his house burgled. He could not pick up Pat Doherty from the station. However, Barney Morgan had offered to do it, so I rang him. I also checked with Paddy Byrne. George Davies rang saying he was coming. And Barney said that Chester Irish Society had contacted Joe O’Grady and “offered to put on a spread for us” when we went to Chester [This was for a planned outing by the Liverpool CA branch to look at the places in Chester connected with the Fenians]. The weak spot is the Irish Sea Conference. We will have to put in some intensive work. But there is no doubt about the revolution in the position in Liverpool over the last few years [ie. in the position of the Connolly Association there].
I was thinking about Joe Deighan. He seems interested in my obituary. At the end of a very complimentary introduction yesterday he says, “Unfortunately people are not recognised till they’re dead.” Then somebody said to me, ” He says you’re good for another five years.” I said I thought if that’s all he could offer me, he was rather mean. But he seriously assured me some years back that he’d “see me out”, and I swear he still thinks the same. The bay tree is in blossom. And Ashford and a mate mended the wall. The Myrrhis is in flower.
May 8 Wednesday: Ashford continued work on the wall, though he only spends a few hours a day. In the evening I met Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan at Lime Street, and we met Peadar O’Donnell [ie. the veteran Irish writer and socialist republican] who had come from London. Barney says he will drive him to Caergybi on Saturday. He spoke to a meeting in the AUEW. There were about 70 people present, including George Davies and two young fellows from Blackburn, King from Manchester, and a young CPGB – Manchester – who was here last week. The two Blackburns want an all-in Irish conference, but King is not keen. He still hopes that the IBRG will swallow up all the others, or at least that is what I suppose. George Davies had to go to Dublin last week because Sean Redmond is only sending low-power figures to his conference. Sean Redmond’s organisation [ie. the recently formed Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence (TUIUI)] is boosted on the back of a Labour Committee on Ireland leaflet and George Davies fears Sean Redmond is being lured in that direction. He thinks Sean is beginning to succumb to the attractions of the limelight and foreign travel, for example this absurd trip to Rome that he made. The crux over the TGWU fringe meeting seems to have been overcome and they propose to join forces. George Davies says that Collins [ie. Martin Collins] of the Labour Committee on Ireland is an undercover IMG [International Marxist Group] member, and that Niall Power was on the wrong side in recent discussions. He thinks that under their present leadership the LCI cannot progress. I am inclined to agree. But I told him there was such a thing as pushing too fast. Dermot Nolan told George Davies that he was applying for Bruce Kent’s job [Bruce Kent was a leading figure in the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)] and Davies was appalled at it. I did not forget once more to warn against the group who are “out of favour” with the CPI. I noted that King wants to come to the reception in Manchester. George Davies is going to try to promote “Irish Democrat” sales in North-Eastern homes.
Among others present were Tom Walsh, Steve Dowling, David James (a solid person) and Ray Frodsham. Michael Mortimer has had his house burgled and his car stolen.
May 9 Thursday: I got 45 invitations to the conference done but have as many more to do to complete the circularisation. I met Michael Mortimer in the afternoon and we went to see Peadar O’Donnell at Barney Morgan’s. He was all green-republican in London. He is all red communist here and repeated his old nonsense that the Irish in Britain could do nothing and that the Irish Centres were an obstacle to progress. Against all experience he thinks the drive to free Ireland will come from British Labour. The only such drive is that being carried out by George Davies and he could do nothing without the help of the Irish community, and fortunately knows it. I tried to explain this to the old CPGB. They couldn’t see it – because their outlook was fundamentally chauvinist. I also tried to explain it to the CPI, and probably convinced Dublin, to which so many CA people returned. And now the old CPGB is in a state of collapse, I think Belfast would agree. On the other hand Peadar is bound to some extent to be living in the past and could not be expected to appreciate the depth of the crisis in the CP. For my part I am willing to keep on good relations with all genuine elements in the hope of helping to put something together from the bits and fragments likely to be left lying around.
Michael Mortimer and I went for a drink at the Shaftesbury. He told me that there were three men asleep in the house when the burglary took place. At home I found a letter from Brian Wilkinson, who is retiring from the railway and going to live near his wife’s relatives in North-East Scotland. Michael Mortimer had admired Hobsbawm [ie. the historian Eric Hobsbawm], whom I had described as the rat he is. Michael had seen him on television and wrote saying he had come to my opinion, also that his colleagues described him as a “Stalinist” though he does not agree with Stalin’s actions. There is a queer ideological melting pot at present, which Peadar O’Donnell ascribes to the lack of leadership – the collapse of the CP.
May 10 Friday: The interminable cold weather still goes on. There is hardly any blossom on the plum tree, though there was more on the damson than last year, and one or two small cauliflowers have headed up. The bay tree is in flower. Ashford was still here – I’ll have a terrible bill! Jane Tate rang to say that though they all agreed to hold the Standing Committee tomorrow, Sean Burke will not be there, nor Pat O’Donohue, nor indeed Pat Bond, and Patricia Burke wrote in an apology. That looks like leaving me, Jane Tate, Paul Gilhooley (co-opted without vote)[This meant that Gilhooley could attend the regular Standing Committee meetings but would not have a vote if such became necessary] and possibly Philip Rendle and Gerry Curran. The position all illustrates how Noel Gordon let the discipline fall to bits. And to make matters worse all the train times have been altered, making it better for Ripley, but worse for London.
May 11 Saturday (London): What a day! I caught the 11.30 am. due in London at about 2.30 to go the Standing Committee. From the start it was clear I would be late. There had been a derailment at Watford and the train was to run into St. Pancras. I arrived there at 3.40 – it was due at 3.17. There had been no buffet car and this was not due to the accident. I had missed the 10 am., which was as well for there was a notice to the effect that it had broken down outside Bedford. I had a hasty meal at King’s Cross and got down to the Standing Committee. Neither Pat Bond nor Pat O’Donohue were there and there was a much pleasanter atmosphere without them – “the two big babies” I call them. Paul Gilhooley was there, and Jane Tate, Gerry Curran, Philip Rendle and Caniffe from South London. Pat Bond had gone to Bradford to a “Liberation” festival.
It seems that Roger Kelly had come in and knew nothing about Noel Gordon. They all think he is with his uncle in Essex, and that Helen McMurray is in Belfast. But nobody knows. Jane Tate says Sean Furlong is dead*. If so, it is the first time I ever heard of any harm coming to a rat. And John Deere is dead, and Pat Bond will not go to the funeral, but Stella Bond said she will go. Toni Curran is very much worse and might go at any time; no further treatment is possible and Gerry Curran seems depressed, no doubt in part thanks to a not perfectly clear conscience.
A letter came from Dorothea [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze in Halle] introducing a Russian interested in Ireland. And I saw “An Phoblacht”[ie. the Provisional Sinn Fein/ IRA monthly paper] which has dressed up some answers I gave to questions in Belfast very much to seem favourable to themselves. I will have to set the record straight.
(*I think the wrong man – 8/2/88)
May 12 Sunday (Liverpool): I caught the 12.50. It went to Northampton, then recrossed the main line at Rugby and went to Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, finally reaching Liverpool by about 5.20 pm. There was a buffet, but I had already equipped myself with a half-litre of wine for fear there was not. Pat Bond rang saying he was back from Bradford and had seen Baruch.
Jane Tate was telling me about the CP. Reading through the Congress discussion it would appear that no kind of reconciliation is possible. Some of the Eurocommunists are planning a few hundred expulsions and the closing down of the “Morning Star”, which will be replaced by a weekly. Rumour has it that Gordon McLennan will retire and Nina Temple take over[This occurred in 1990, two years after Greaves’s death]. Jim Arnison has written another rebel pamphlet. But most surprising, it seems Gerry Cohen has joined the dissidents [He was London District Secretary of the CPGB and a former organiser in Manchester]. So, feicimid.
May 13 Monday: I wrote a few letters but did little else. The wretched cold weather continues. It must be one of the worst springs ever came, though it is generally speaking a lousy season. It looks as if the rowan is caput. There was a fungus disease attacking its leaves last summer and this year it has not sprouted properly, just a few shoots here and there. But the ground is too damp to do anything with otherwise.
May 14 Tuesday: Not quite so cold, but bad enough. I had a letter from a Roger Cole [An activist in the Irish Labour Party in Dublin] giving permission to reprint Sean MacBride’s articles. He said he asked Tony Coughlan to pass this on to me. He didn’t, so my guess is he is trying to do too much. Cole is trying to bring back the Irish Labour Party to proper national principles. There was nothing wrong with his letter, but I had an uneasy impression of naiveté. He is obviously very young.
In the evening I had a word with Michael Mortimer, who told me the Merseyside County Council want to see us to discuss funding the conference. I had been intending to go away. Every time I try to get a break the weather turns cold and wet, Ashford appears, or some political necessity intervenes. It is a bloody nuisance. Ashford did not come yesterday but appeared for a short spell today. Of course it is good to get the work done, but I really need a break. Dull and cold, a terrible day, today.
May 15 Wednesday: Late last night there was a lightning flash and a few rumbles of thunder, but though this morning there was a south wind, it was little warmer and still damp and dull. There was a letter from Malcolm Brown [an academic contact of Greaves’s in the USA] enclosing an article from “Political Affairs”, reviewing Lawrence and Wishart’s symposium on Orwell[ [“Political Affairs” was the journal of the CPUSA]. It is good in part apparently. I think they can only produce symposia now, for there is no consensus anymore. I contributed to the symposium on the 7th World Congress of the Comintern [This symposium led to a book edited by Jim Fyrth, titled “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front”, published in 1985, in which Greaves’s article was on: “Class and Nation in Ireland” (ISBN 0 85315 6425)]. Hobsbawm is in it too and I can imagine a riot of revisionism. They have asked me for the sake of balance. Or they may confuse the national independence “front” with Hobsbawm’s nonsense, or the alliance with the Liberals. If the second is true I have “got away” with something.
Later came a letter from Jane Tate saying that she had spoken to the GLC [ie. the Greater London Council people, to whom the CA had applied for a grant for the bookshop], who told her they would like to give the CA some money but would give priority to those on their list already. So what with Bill Hardy’s legacy being swallowed up by the taxman and our only getting “medium priority” here, it looks as if hard times will continue!
May 16 Thursday: The weather seems to have taken up. Today was reasonably warm, though far from hot. I met Michael Mortimer in Lime Street and we made arrangements for the June 15th conference. The “Morning Star” had a full-page attack on the CP record in the miners’ strike which I think was foolish. The “Guardian” had a feature article on the weekend conference [ie of the CPGB] And Radio 4 interviewed Gordon McLennan and Chater. There was not a trace of a willingness to compromise on McLennan’s part. All the talk is “fight to a finish”. And of course it is all nonsense. Each side claims to be standing on the “British Road to Socialism”. But their government is signatory to an international treaty not to have socialism. Yet they ignore that fact and construct their neat blue-prints. I’d letters from John Boyd and Brian Wilkinson.
May 17 Friday: Today was the first warm day – high sixties I would say – and I started on the garden though Ashford has still to remove all the bricks and rubble. Apart from that I did some clearing up and went into Birkenhead.
May 18 Saturday: I learned that the GLC has not voted us a penny. But they say they will see if any can be got from “revenue”. Of course this is all Noel Gordon’s doing. It is hard to imagine such a level of irresponsibility. This news came from Pat Bond. Jane Tate is at her brother’s. We will know nothing for a couple of months. It was markedly cooler today but I got some more done in the garden. By late evening the North wind had resumed.
May 19 Sunday: Though it was cool again with an East wind, I went down to Rock Ferry only to find there were no trains to Chester. So I came back, which was as well as it was soon raining. Paul Gilhooley rang up about his job, and J. Moffat from the Isle of Mann about the conference. I woke early this morning and didn’t get to sleep again, so paid for it by sleeping two hours in the afternoon. I sowed some seeds, but that was about all, cauliflowers and radishes.
May 20 Monday: Another wretched dark wet day. I went into the city, but apart from that did little. I wrote to Malcolm Brown. A letter came from John Boyd. Enoch Powell [Leading British Conservative] thinks Spinelli this time is only “ground bait”, not a “Trojan Horse”, and that Mrs Thatcher won’t get her feet in the mud but will “fudge” it [the Spinelli plan was for a European Political Union, to be achieved by means of a single internal market and a common currency].
May 21 Tuesday (Llanwyrtyd): The day broke bright but by 10.30 the sky was overcast and it was squibbing and dribbling again. I took the 1.10 train nevertheless and went to Llanwyrtyd. It was tippling, I cycled a couple of miles towards Abergwesyn, but then gave it up and returned to stay the night at Llanwyrtyd. I found a reasonable little place.
May 22 Wednesday (Dolgoch): I went on to Dolgoch and arrived about midday. De Roe seemed in good form, though the postman has changed and the new one will not oblige him by bringing supplies. He had about eighteen “adventure course” youngsters overnight. Apparently they work in the Post Office. I told him they would be better than the last lot, and they were. Also they were older – 19 and 20.
May 23 Thursday: It was still cool and cloudy, so that I did not go too far. A Warrington man came – a very decent, able man of 57, who is out of work and with little hope of being employed again. I told him to try to sell his skills privately, and this he was thinking of doing. He didn’t think much of Mrs Thatcher! A young fellow with a faint Scotch accent came from Cardiff with a “mountain bicycle” which De Roe – always one for a fresh fad – wanted to look at with a view to matching it, despite the cost of £500. Another younger man came, and I couldn’t at first remember whom he reminded me of – then I recalled: Peter Robson when he left the army at 25, a very blonde southern.
May 24 Friday: Today it was dry but for a shower or two, and the sun came out briefly in the afternoon. The Robson-like youth stayed on. He turned out to be a “botanical surveyor” working for the Wiltshire County Council and I went for a stroll with him in the afternoon. He was quite knowledgeable, for he knew the names of rushes and sedges I had long forgotten, but looked at everything from the one angle. He was glad the army occupied Salisbury Plain. Otherwise it would be all under the plough.
Two Germans came from Berlin in a motorcycle and side-car last night, and went into Tregaron for supplies, then for drinks. They come every year but only for a few days. Then an odd customer turned up, in very short jean-pants and legs that must have been browning for weeks in the open. His figure was fairly youthful, but his face was old, lined and expressionless. He immediately joined the botanist and spent all afternoon and evening talking to him. “Those two have found something in common,” says De Roe in some surprise. I was anxious to know what they found to discuss. The older man condemned fox-hunting. The botanist said it was the means of conserving the habitats of rare plants. But it was all opinion.
May 25 Saturday (Liverpool): I got up to “make a visit” at about 6.30 am. Suddenly I realised that somebody was walking immediately behind me. It was the odd character. It was only then that it flashed across my mind – this man had been in prison, and for quite some time. Anyway I went back to bed, but he left to walk to Nant Dernol. I suppose he would be pushing up to 40, though his face was nearer 60. Of course it was pouring rain. But I had no choice but to plough through it to Llanwryted, where I had a two-hour wait. I went into the station hotel where the proprietress, who knows me of old, put on a gas fire so that I was enabled to dry my things, and so came back to Liverpool where a load of correspondence was waiting for me.
May 26 Sunday: Today it was actually warm! I met Joe O’Grady at Rock Ferry at 5 pm. and we went to Chester. There Mr O’Hanlon of the Irish Society met us and took us to the Catholic Club where we made arrangements for the trip on June 23rd. They are going to Manchester in a fortnight’s time to see Jim King’s new Irish Centre. This is their first ever excursion. In the evening Alan Morton rang up [ie. his friend from university days, Prof. Alan Morton, the botanist, then retired in Edinburgh]. John Morton is still out of work and can see no hope. Alisoun is better than she was. She is now trying the effect of a wheat-free diet. Alan has been told that wheat is stored with insecticides that may be allergens. Freda Morton is “fair” and he himself is “well”. I also had a word with Tony Coughlan, and then with Barney Morgan whom we want to accommodate Tony’s sister [who was a Catholic religious coming home to Ireland on holiday from Pakistan where she worked, and proposing to visit Desmond Greaves in Liverpool on the way].
Betty Reid, who has invited me to talk on the “National Question” in Muswell Hill, where the MacLoughlin boys live, sent me a copy of a book on Stalin by a Japanese. Now she is reputedly an intense “euro”, as indeed are the MacLoughlin boys too [Betty Reid, 1915-2004, full-time CPGB official in that party’s head office; author of “Ultra-leftism in Britain”]. But she certainly shows no animosity to myself. The burden of this book is that from the very start Stalin set the USSR on the path of “great nation chauvinism”. Now there is a case to answer. But has the Japanese the right to bring it? It has been clear to me for a long time that some day the Russians will have to “come down” about Stalin. I do not think anybody can do it for them. The danger is coining the slogans under which the Third World War could be fought.
May 27 Monday: Still cloudy, and not so warm. I spoke to Michael Mortimer, who says his appointment with the Merseyside County Council has been postponed a week. By afternoon it was raining again. I did some work on the paper while it poured rain. At about 6 pm. Deirdre O’Shea told me her mother [ie. Dr Elizabeth (Betty) O’Shea] wants to send me some “papers”. I told her to bring them to Wednesday’s meeting. Goodness knows what it is. (This was not Deirdre O’Shea – 8/2/88.)
May 28 Tuesday: Today it was cool, but bright and sunny. In the afternoon Pat O’Donohue rang and said Toni Curran had died last night. Later Jane Tate and Pat Bond gave me the same information. They do not think the funeral will be before tomorrow week. The two boys are in the middle of their examinations and for Niall it is the final one. So they are in a difficulty. Later I spoke to Gerry Curran. Jane Tate told me that Pat Bond is objecting to Pail Gilhooley as a possible organiser, presumably because he will not be a creep. Bond is of course completely impossible, childish, petulant, impatient, irritable, undisciplined, impetuous and lacking in elementary common sense. He can get on with nobody, though all respect his work. But he can’t have other peoples’ work also and will take suggestions from nobody. I’m glad he’s far enough from me! I told Muriel Saidlear about Toni Curran. A letter came from Roy Johnston. He is in Brittany and wants to poke his nose into the Nation State conference [This was a major project then being planned by Greaves and the Connolly Association for the following November]. I will put him off.
Jane Tate told me they sold £200 worth of literature at the “Morning Star” Alexandra Palace affair. Apparently Tony Benn gave a rousing speech and was followed by Gordon McLennan, who read a prepared statement very lamely. In it he attacked the “Morning Star” and a number of the audience walked out. There was very little applause and he sat there somewhat red-faced, not talking to the other speakers. This is a deplorable position, not to try to pull things together. He is prepared for an alliance with Benn, but not with Chater. It is nonsensical. What I propose to do for the moment is to quarrel with nobody and take no orders from anybody and do whatever I consider positive and leave alone whatever I consider negative. I was looking at this Japanese book on Stalin. It is strongly critical of the CPSU. He may have a case, but it is difficult for him to make it without helping the Americans.
Another thing Jane Tate told me was that Peter Walsh met Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray together in Regent Street. So the split is probably another fantasy. He asked Noel if he was going back on the tools and told him of an electrician’s job that was available. Noel was not remotely interested in it! So we still wait for the missing link.
May 29 Wednesday: I worked on the paper in the day. The CA meeting took place in the evening. Barney Morgan “forgot” to come, and the attendance was miserable. To an extent I blame Michael Mortimer who has no organisational imagination. He was to have had Brian Stowell and Barney Morgan with him when he saw the Merseyside City Council this afternoon. They did not turn up, but he had not thought to remind them. “They should have remembered,” he declared. No doubt.
May 30 Thursday: I finished the paper but for one picture. Gerry Curran’s mot and her niece were bringing up books for our conference and due at Michael Mortimer’s at noon. He rang me in the afternoon saying they had telephoned him from Birmingham after having an accident on the motorway when a driver in the slow lane cut out in front of them. They were not seriously injured but the car is a “write off”. The niece was talking about carrying on by train but then seemed to be talking more about getting back to London. They do not seem to have rung back, so I telephoned Jane Tate to get an emergency packet up tomorrow. I also spoke to Michael Mortimer, who is going to accommodate Tony Coughlan’s sister over Sunday night. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” that Tony McNally is taking Irene Brennan to task for publicly attacking the “Eurocommunists” for being “to the right of Kinnock”. She is completely unstable.
May 31 Friday: I was ringing Michael Mortimer all morning trying to find out what was happening about the books that were involved in the road accident. But he was out early. Then Pat Bond rang, in the depths of depression. “All this bad news!” he wailed. “What is it?” “The accident. And Alec Digges is dead.” “When did he die?” “Yesterday.” He agreed to ring Gerry Curran or the mot [“mot” – a Dublinism for a female mate or partner]. Certainly the deaths are coming thick and fast. At about 11.30 Pat Bond got Gerry Curran and learned that the books had been forwarded by the most expensive means possible, though Michael Mortimer had offered to drive to Birmingham to pick them up. Pat Bond also said that Noel Gordon, who swore he had delivered books to Islington Library, had done nothing of the kind! The question is what did he do?
His letter to me in which he said he had not deliberately set out to harm the CA is relevant here. He must have known, from the extent of his failure, that sabotage would occur to us – indeed Jane Tate used the word. But what is spectacular is the amount of brazen lying.
I have been trying to remember about Alec Digges. I came into Connolly Association affairs in the spring of 1941. Prendergast went back shortly afterwards. Musgrove and McInerney did the paper. There was also Bagenal Harvey. But was Alec Digges around then, joined the army, then joined the CA when he came out of it? I have a vague notion of seeing him before he went into the army, but it could be that he was not around until 1945. I suppose Joe Monks would know. I think he did the book page of the “Irish Democrat” before Cathal MacLiam took it over. I met Gerry Curran in 1948, but it was some time before he took over the book page. I must have gone full-time for the CA in the early fifties [It was in 1951] and it was then that Alec Digges took over the International Brigade Association from Nan Green as part of Kerrigan’s discreditable deal [It is unclear what that was].
June 1 Saturday: At 8.30 am. Michael Mortimer arrived and drove me somewhat circuitously to Blackburn. There were about 30 delegates at the conference and George Davies pronounced himself disappointed. This was the first really good week-end of the year and people could not be blamed for availing of it. Martin Guinan took the chair. He had a picture of the 1961 march which he was on [This was one of the three civil rights marches in Britain that the Connolly Association organised in 1961-62. Guinan was a longstanding CA member in Lancashire and took part in the second such march from Liverpool to Nottingham in August 1961]. Sean Redmond spoke and an Ann Speed of the ITGWU. We had a snack on the premises and a further snack at Martin Guinan’s luxurious abode. His wife is a psychologist and gives Betty O’Shea a very good name. Then Michael Mortimer drove me into Manchester where there was a meeting in the Town Hall – not well attended: Jim Arnison, Francis Deane, Wilf Charles and his wife. Niall Power was there and annoyed George Davies with his “party political broadcast”, and I confirmed a feeling that Jim King is quite antagonistic but cute enough to keep it as much to himself as he can. Frances Deane is the elected chairman of the Lancs District Party Committee and expects “disbandment”. Both I and Wilf Charles advised taking it easy. The chairman was a young man, Heywood? – I’m not sure of his name – who had done good work but was convinced of his knowledge of the Irish question even though it didn’t exist. I heard Myant and Joe Bowers are doing a CP school. They all complained about the dictatorial attitude of the District Secretary. Finally Michael Mortimer drove me back.
June 2 Sunday: Another brilliant day, though not hot – perhaps reaching 70 F. I went to Chester and met Tony Coughlan and his sister Ann, the nun working in Pakistan. She has been with Jane Tate, who describes her as a strange mixture of piety and worldliness; but a very nice person. We showed her around Chester, then came into Liverpool for a meal. She stayed with Barney Morgan.
June 3 Monday: Another brilliant day, but with almost imperceptible signs of change. We went into Lime Street, met Ann Coughlan and then went to Llandudno. There was a man in a public house who had just been discharged from the army and said he felt lost. He had been in Belfast and admitted to having ripped peoples’ houses apart, although he was Liverpool Irish and Catholic. He had also been in Aden and said the British should not have left!
We took the town way to the top of the Great Orme, but it was rather misty. Then we came back down and had a meal in town.
June 4 Tuesday: We met Ann Coughlan at Lime Street and Tony took her off to Rock Ferry and Holyhead. I had a wretched trip to Ripley. Crewe station is out of action. I was an hour late at Derby, had to take two taxis, and then was put on the wrong train by error of British Rail at Stafford, and had to get off at Wigan. Several others had the same misfortune.
June 5 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I got up at 6.30 and caught the 8 am. to Euston, then went to Jane Tate’s. Michael Crowe was there. We went to Kew Station and walked to Mortlake for Toni Curran’s funeral. It had been raining but was close and humid. Gerry Curran was there, also Niall Curran the older boy and Conor the younger. Bob Wynn and John Boyd presided – John reading an “oration” so quietly that I couldn’t hear it. They all sang J. A. Symonds’s “These things shall be”. I remember in my school days immediately taking to it. So I must have had socialist inclinations when I had never heard a word about it and would probably have repudiated the notion. But I felt like writing another tune to it.
The version they sang put the stress on “race”, whereas it should be on “loftier” [The first two lines of the hymn are: “These things shall be. A loftier race than e’er the world hath known shall rise.”] Then they played part of Beethoven’s 6th symphony, the one I like least, though Michael Mortimer likes it best. Then we were variously driven to the house. Gerry Curran’s mot was there, unscathed. Bob Wynn told me, “the bottom had fallen out of his world.” I didn’t say so, but I thought that the queen of Spain managed to live without a bottom. But he will get over it as we all do. Jane Tate incidentally told me that Alec Digges’s funeral is tomorrow, and that Peter Robson is dead – killed in a road accident. I keep meeting people these days who say to me, “I heard you speak 45 years ago”, and there were some today. Charlie Cunningham was present. He has not been well – and neither has Jane Tate. She has had some form of arthritis and cannot take a drink. When I came back there was thunder in Northampton – near where the lightning struck the train, but it didn’t this time – and when I reached Liverpool it was cooler.
June 6 Thursday: I saw Michael Mortimer at lunch and we discussed the conference of June 15th [ie. the conference on the pollution of the Irish Sea]. So far only Plaid Cymru have responded, but Baruch told Jane Tate he is sending two atomic scientists. John Waring has told him he thinks the MCC [ie. the Merseyside County Council] are going to fund us. Today was wet and wretchedly cold. I had an electric fire on most of the day and put the electric blanket back in the bed!
June 7 Friday: I heard from Michael Mortimer that he has duplicated Moffat’s paper. What I take to be Susan Schafer’s came without covering letter through my door. She told me today that her daughter brought it. So it was not Deirdre O’Shea that rang me up but something or other Schafer. It is not really satisfactory, but there you are.
Baruch rang me requesting a copy. Pat Bond said one of the London libraries has spent £300 in our bookshop and Lambeth has responded to our circular – the one Noel Gordon dumped. What a ferocious little incompetent he turned out! I also had a word with Joe O’Grady and Peter Mulligan. It was another very cold day today. Ashford presented me with a bill for £595. However, the outside of the house will do till next year. There was an ugly-looking sunset, and the East wind goes on for ever.
June 8 Saturday (London/Liverpool): It was cold in the morning and cloudy, but not wet. I went to London on the 11 am. train with Joe O’Grady, and the Executive Committee was held at the office, with Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Michael Crowe, Pat O’Donohue, Philip Rendle, Gerry Curran, Siobhan O’Neill and Peter Mulligan. We did quite a bit of business, including deciding to engage Paul Gilhooley at £120 a week. He will be a handful, I have no doubt. The other decisions engendered a general feeling that we have got things organised after the Noel Gordon fiasco. I returned with Joe O’Grady on the 7.30 pm.
June 9 Sunday: Michel Mortimer told me that we had been promised £400 towards the cost of our conference by the Merseyside City Council. There are applications in from Wales and Blackburn but none from Liverpool yet. I had a word with Jane Tate who told me that Michael Crowe was off to Wembley to vote in the “Morning Star” crux. Paul Gilhooley is starting on Tuesday. She will go in and show him the ropes, and I will send a letter saying what we want of him. Jane says that the older “Euros” like Betty Reid are quite friendly to those who disagree with them, but that the younger people are very bitter. I edited and re-typed Susan Schafer’s paper, and wrote to Bob Wynn, Paul Gilhooley (two letters), to Jane Tate and to Noel Gordon – the E.C. decided to ask him what happened to the Islington Library books he said he delivered but obviously did nothing about. Did he do anything? Cold again today.
June 10 Monday: I got some photocopying done and later saw John Gibson in the bookshop. He said Arthur Scargill had spoken for the “Morning Star” at the Manchester meeting and received a standing ovation, not like Gordon McLennan who opened the Wembley meeting with a bitter attack during which people walked out and scarcely anybody applauded. Both Michael Crowe and Jane Tate said that the E.C. organised buses, but everybody who travelled on them had to promise to vote for them. Stella Bond thinks the E.C. have won by a hair’s breadth. John Gibson says it will be close.
June 11 Tuesday: Dermot Nolan rang to say he will have to fly over on Saturday and bang goes £106. Michael Mortimer says there are today ten applications from CND, so it begins to look healthier. I posted material to Moffat, Baruch and Doswell. I read in the “Manchester Guardian” that the “hardliners” had won. So what happens now? The paper suggests that Chater is well placed to run a quasi-political party backed by the Russian sales of the “Morning Star”. Of course this result like the other shows that possession is nine points of the law.
Paul Gilhooley started today and telephoned in the evening. Last Saturday he wanted to set up a Trade Union committee with Tom Durkin as chairman, though he was not a member. Today he wants to get a list of cooperative Trade Unionists from the CP. He says Jane Tate is not too well. I will have to devise some means of tying him down. But certainly he is the opposite of Noel Gordon, and the problem will be reining him in. At last Ashford finished and the outside of the house is passable. But I face a garden overgrown to the point of ruination and masses of work to be done inside. It will be necessary to resist a feeling of “to hell with it”, as would be the most natural, especially as the eczema has returned with a vengeance.
June 12 Wednesday: Another cold wet miserable day. We scarcely had a fine week, and even then it was very cold at might. Michael Mortimer rang to say we now have 24 delegates, which is fair. Paul Gilhooley rang and said the “Morning Star” had made a mess of our advert. I saw this later and rang back pointing out errors he might have spotted. He did not hesitate and said at once he would go and see it was corrected in the next one. A contrast with Noel! I also had a word with Joe O’Grady. I went into town. Reading the “Morning Star” I can see the “Euro” element have received a heavy defeat. They are in danger of being isolated. In their delegateconference organised by themselves they could win, but at the main meeting of activists they lost very heavily. This means they are in a minority. Quos Jupiter vult perdere… [ie. the old saw: “Whom Jupiter (ie. the Gods) wishes to destroy, he first makes mad]. Instead of seeking compromise that would give them a hand in it, they talk of turning “Focus” into a weekly. And if they move to expulsions, again they only harm themselves. Paul Gilhooley was talking to Helen Bennett who told him there is consternation in Farringdon Road. “They are shouting and screaming because they lost.” I suppose there’ll be a purge there, as a paper can’t be run by two armies at war. Would Myant and company pull out and hope there would not be enough talent to go on producing it? Could McLennan guarantee them jobs in “Focus”? Apparently the E.C. meets this week-end, so presumably Myant will not be able to go to Manchester, where a one-day school is to be held, with Joe Bowers [Bowers was a leading trade unionist and member of the CPI in Belfast]. I had a call from George Davies who told me that Bowers had not hampered him in his week of activity in Lancaster.
June 13 Thursday: An infuriated letter from Bob Wynn arrived this morning. I had referred to Gerry Curran as Toni’s “husband”. Bob Wynn says the two of them were divorced years ago and he since married Toni Curran. Jane Tate doesn’t believe it. But if it’s true, they kept it rightly dark, and I never heard of her being called anything but “Curran”. However, he’s in a fine stew, so I invited him to draft a suitable correction. It will look nice if that then infuriates Gerry Curran!
A note from Michael Mortimer told me about 30 people have applied for credentials to Saturday’s meeting and applications are still coming in. The “Morning Star” advert was full of errors again, according to Paul Gilhooley, but Friday’s will be OK. Paul is making new members and is going to take part in a committee in Haringey aiming to send a delegation to Ireland. He is probably a live wire. I gave him every encouragement. I went into town and got the “Morning Star”. It was as Paul Gilhooley said. And to add to everything else, it remains shockingly cold – well below 60 degrees F and when I am in I have to have the electrical fire on. I rang Dermot Nolan, who is going to fly because he says there are now no night boats from Dublin to Liverpool. I see however there is a night boat from Liverpool. I wonder if he has made a mistake.
June 14 Friday: The Bob Wynn wagon rolls on. Two people I never heard of wrote from Devon protesting that “Bob Alwyn” (presumably Wynn!) had not got his fair deserts. While he might have a case, it is clear to me from the similarity of the contents of this letter to those of his, that he is running a campaign. You can’t blame people under the strain of bereavement. It deprives them of the last vestiges of balance, and though I don’t think I myself succumbed to it, I do know I had to resist the temptation when Phyllis died. I have known the maddest things done. People want somebody to take their grief out on. Of course pressurising has its exact opposite effect on me. Yesterday I was all for understanding the man. Today I am a trifle annoyed with him. But what has to be avoided is a continuing a feud with people taking sides. And I suppose the poor man has nothing better to do than to cogitate over his loss and keep his feelings alive, as if that would keep the woman alive. A thorough nuisance. A pity I said a word! However, the fact that he’s running a campaign means also that he’s doubtful of his legal position and is trying to “hound” me. I might lose Pat O’Donohue and the prospect of West London development, so that mustn’t be done – much as I’d like to see somebody more equable on the accounts – but we’ll try for peace if it’s attainable. On the other hand a bereaved man is crazy. And I detected the destructive element in Bob Wynn’s character when some time ago at Pat O’Donohue’s he tried to stir me up on the basis of Liverpool versus Manchester – needless to say, I did not bite.
There was a letter from George Davies. When I mentioned him to Paul Gilhooley he said, “Have you any faith in him?” and hinted he was stirring things up in London. I replied that I tried to exercise hope and charity. Now a letter came wanting me to do a bulletin for the “CTEIIIA”[It is not known what this was] but not necessarily under my own name. He has been trying to get Sean Redmond to go to Brussels and wants the CND and ISM [ie. the Irish Sovereignty Movement in Dublin] to do the same. Here are the first indications of opportunism – I already tackled him for interference in Ireland – and he is bitterly antagonistic to the Labour Committee on Ireland, not altogether without cause. I will of course decline the invitation to produce an anonymous bulletin.
In the morning Jane Tate rang up. Like myself she is pleased with Paul Gilhooley, who has been “working like a slave” for the meeting on Tuesday. The problem is a suitable chairman, as Flann Campbell is always in Dublin. I suggested Chris Maguire or Siobhan O’Neill.
It was still cold, though now dry and sunny. Still, I didn’t feel like gardening and went into town. I got the “Morning Star” and the “New Statesman”. I am not sure that Chater is not keeping up the sniping too long. He is writing up CP speeches in a psychological way (as Seifert used to call stating your own case by implied assumption) and possibly helping those over the weekend who want a break. Or does he also want a break? On the other hand there is a letter from Westacott appealing to Gordon McLennan to make peace on Chater’s terms in the light of the “Morning Star” shareholders’ meeting, which amounted to a referendum. He says, “You can’t expel half the party.” Well, the Socialist Party of America did! McLennan must be pondering the cruel fate that snatched victory away before it could be savoured, and of course the fact is that it would only be won by dubious means, and as soon as people were able to express their opinions freely they did so and expressed them on the dubious means as well. I would think they will decide to launch “Focus” as a weekly, presumably renaming it, possibly pulling Myant away from the “Morning Star” to edit it, and then deal with the dissidents as best they can.
I read through my journal for 1970 and was surprised at the amount of work done. That was the year I took over from Sean Redmond and got Lenny Draper for Manchester. Amazing to think how long ago that was! It was Cartwright who helped. But why did Lenny Draper lean on the CP rather than Wilf Charles? Probably because Cartwright was helpful. In 1970 I was constantly being consulted by Jack Woddis. I want to find out when things went wrong. Was it when Irene Brennan pushed her way in? Or earlier? Of course the basis was 1968 when they chose to condemn the Russian action in Czechoslovakia and uttered not a word against British atrocities in Derry, though the second would have given an answer to the first.
June 15 Saturday: I went into the city and met Dermot Nolan, who had flown from Dublin. I then took him up to Michael Mortimer’s where he stayed the night. I came back into town leaving him there, and then met Jane Tate at Lime Street and took her up to the Shaftesbury where Joe O’Grady was impatiently waiting. Later Bernard Moffat [a leading figure in the Celtic League] was brought from the airport by Brian Stowell and Victor Marshall came from Bradford. He had lived in Manchester. Indeed I think he was a Manchester man, and he knew Joe Deighan in the olden days [Deighan was a leading light in the Manchester CA in the 1950s and 1960s, and was now returned to Belfast]. And finally there was Paul McGee. Alec Doswell [of Liverpool Trades Council] took the chair. There were many branches of CND, including some from Wales. Michael Crowe was there, Plaid Cymru, John Gibson, an NCP man who did not speak, but no CP, though Mary McClelland had said she was coming. The Society of Friends was represented and a good sprinkling of our own members [This was the CA conference on pollution in the Irish Sea]. Ben McDonald (? I didn’t recall his surname), Susan Schafer’s son by an earlier marriage, was there from Bangor. There were about 50 in all, including the Welsh poet, a retired clergyman, R.S.Thomas. On the whole it was a considerable breakthrough.
Dermot Nolan, Jane Tate, Michael Mortimer, Michael Crowe and I had a meal afterwards, and when Jane was gone we showed Dermot Nolan and Michael Crowe round the city. It is amazing how much has survived despite the continuous destruction. I had a talk with Nolan. He is still out of favour with the CPI, but I could not get any clear statement. I think he thinks Eoin Ó Murchú and even Michael O’Riordan defer too much to the Six Counties, where the tail is wagging the dog. Joe Bowers is the guru. Nolan dislikes Eoin Ó Murchú and thinks little of Jimmy Stewart. He thinks the CPI is “finished” and all that Michael O’Riordan hopes for is to keep it in existence. I think he wants a more robust republican approach, possibly with an understanding with the “Provisionals”. He says that he believes from his contacts with embassy officials, and people he has met on delegations to Eastern Europe, that the Russians are convinced that the Americans are hell-bent on war, and intend a “first strike,” and they are, as he puts it, “terrified” of it. I am not sure myself that CND is not, as that horrible Eber said years ago, a monstrous diversion [John Eber had been an official of the Movement for Colonial Freedom in the 1960s]. One great aim of a peace movement should be to counter war propaganda. This is not done. Michael Crowe stayed with Barney Morgan.
June 16 Sunday: Though the wind was still cool and from the North-West, it was warm enough in the sun to do something in the garden, and I put out three tomato plants and two cucumbers that have been waiting in peat pots. I also cleared some of the jungle. Jane Tate rang in the morning, and Joe Deighan in the evening to find out how the conference had gone. He said Joe Bowers was going the same way as Barr and Graham [Andy Barr and Jimmy Graham were leading Belfast Trade Unionists, of Protestant background and members of the CPI, who were unsympathetic to Greaves’s and the Connolly Association’s view that Partition was the underlying problem in the North]. “But he’s from the Falls Road,” said I. “Indeed, and that what I thought might have made him different. But it’s the Trade Unions. They’re gradually sucked into it.” Then he asked me how Sean Redmond’s thing was going [ie. the Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence] and I said I thought well. I think, by the way, that Dermot Nolan thinks reasonably well of that, also of Tony Coughlan. But he says Tony does not trouble to show his contempt for the academics and they all hate him. He must be very good at his job or he’d have been “bumped” long ago [Nolan’s reference was to some academics in Dublin left-wing circles, and not in Trinity College where Coughlan worked professionally]. I was quite tired today. Another thing Dermot Nolan said was about the British CP on international delegations. They all seem terrified of the mass media, and the anti-socialist statements they make are for home consumption. This was my diagnosis of the disease of the British CP. They are essentially sectarian. They could have a considerable degree of unity with the Labour Party if they did not insist on putting up candidates for Parliament. They should admit frankly that while the Cold War is on they’ll get few votes. But to vie with the Labour Party – which could get away with a pro-Soviet line if they wanted – they want to show they are as good anti-Russians as the Left. So the sectarianism requires opportunism.
Jane Tate said that Helen McMurray’s mother had telephoned her from Belfast, but not about Noel Gordon and Helen, but looking for Roger Kelly. She told Jane that Noel and Helen were together again, still at 28 CM, and that Noel was “looking for a job”. She did not know anything about the cause of the crisis, but knew it was there.
June 17 Monday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady in the morning. He has only 17 people for his bus trip. Then I spoke to Jane Tate who was at the office. She is finding it difficult to get a chairman for tomorrow and suggests Paul Gilhooley.
I read through 1970 and into 1971. Most of the record is of the Irish movement. But it seems clear that the CP attitude to the invasion of Czechoslovakia left them saying the same thing as the “International Socialists”[A Trotskyite group]. This is why Michael Crowe told me that the Newcastle man always wanted to know what I.S. were saying before he would move. This demoralised many parties and when the CPGB called the conference on transnational firms, “the old pre-war camaraderie was gone.” I do not yet see how it relates, but the other weakness was in relation to the EEC. Gordon McLennan went for “Unity of the Left”, which could include the International Socialists, and the EEC like the USSR was “divisive”. Perhaps that is it. But the anti-Connolly Association rot had not started in mid-1971, which was when Lenny Draper started.
Jane Tate said the “Morning Star” reported that the St. John Street air was thick with threats of expulsion. If they are uttering threats, then it is as I said, and they don’t know what to do.
June 18 Tuesday (London): I caught the 10.35 am. to London and met Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley at the office. He seemed to be doing very well and for the first time since Sean Redmond left, Jane Tate seemed totally to accept a full-time worker. The advantage of a College education sticks out a mile. He has self-confidence and if he doesn’t know something he doesn’t bluff but asks. I think Noel Gordon’s bluff was the stock-in-trade of the tradesman. Paul Gilhooley knows he can do anything within reason when he knows how. So he asks. The other would be afraid he couldn’t do it.
There was a meeting at the Irish Centre [in Camden Town] in the evening. I spoke on Connolly. There were about 30 people there, including old friends like Siobhan O’Neill and Desmond Logan. The last is a fierce “Euro”, but we agreed to differ. He says Eamon McLaughlin is at his cottage in France, and recently had an attack of angina. I wouldn’t have thought he was more than 63 or at most 64. Another there was young McGuire, the son of the MP for Ince who has not been re-selected. He is living in London now and may join the CA, now there is something to join. Siobhan O’Neill and L. O’Neill drove Jane Tate and me back to her place. Among others there was Tadhg Egan, still in good form.
June 19 Wednesday (Liverpool): It is obvious to me that the arrival of Paul Gilhooley marks the opening of a new period. As long as he keeps his head he’ll be the most energetic since Tony Coughlan. There are little signs, for example the cheery face of J.P. O’Connor – who has changed his name to Fergal O’Connor by deed poll – the Shaughraun of Eddie Cowman’s period of office, but very much improved in appearance and now 34 years of age. He is giving whole afternoons to the bookshop.
Later Michael Mortimer came in. He has been to see Bert Edwards about Liverpool in 1911-14. We had a couple of drinks at the Calthorpe Arms. I was very pleased Michael came in as other things show he is growing more interested. Paul Gilhooley is thinking of coming to Liverpool for the weekend, and Michael Mortimer may drive him up. Andy Higgins and Kennedy are also coming. There was talk of Gerry Curran, but his car is smashed up.
I came back to Liverpool on the evening train and then went on reading the diaries of 1974-75. There is no question that the rot began to affect the Irish question in those years. A big factor was the departure of Sean Redmond. If I had been in the office all the time, that might not have been so serious a blow. Then there was the honeymoon period between the CPI and the “Officials”, and Irene Brennan’s infatuation with Clann na hEireann. The rot set in from the skin – the top leadership was firm longest. The folly of Michael O’Riordan was pressing for that “Irish Committee” when it was bound to be in control of Irene Brennan and the Clann na hEireanns. Anyway the intrigues of Irene Brennan would disgrace a political baby. She just had no idea.
At last I managed to sow the runner beans.
June 20 Thursday: I managed to get a bit done in the garden and went on with the year 1976. Joe Deighan rang in the evening.
June 21 Friday: A letter from Tony Coughlan arrived. George Gilmore has been taken seriously ill, and Noel Browne has found a quiet nursing home for him. Tony has been up all night with him. Also Peadar O’Donnell has been to see him. He doesn’t want to live and will not try to eat to keep his strength up.
More news came in the afternoon. I rang Paul Gilhooley to see if Michael Mortimer was bringing him up on Saturday. He told me he was not coming, as it has just been announced that his mother, aged 52, has terminal cancer and can live months, but no longer.
I spoke to Tony Coughlan at about 10.30. He said that George Gilmore died yesterday morning at 6 am. in Tony’s presence. it was Charlie Gilmore who got Noel Browne out to see him. When he had his accident ten years ago an iron pin was inserted in his leg. This suddenly began to cause trouble and gave him intense pain, which he tried to banish by using “pain-killing” tablets. Apparently he took too many of these. This happened while Tony Coughlan was in England and did not make his regular weekly visit. When Noel Browne said he had to be moved, Tony and Charlie’s two strong sons-in-law virtually carried him to the nursing home in Howth Village, where he was found a quiet secluded room. Tony Coughlan stayed two nights with him. He told him that he “didn’t want to carry on”, though Tony is convinced that if had made a fight he had a sporting chance of recovery.
I am having trouble with eczema and tonight had one of the worst nose bleeds I remember, affecting the right nostril mainly, but the left slightly. It took forty minutes to bring under control, and even then what kind of control is it? So now will a glass of whiskey or a bottle of wine have a good or bad effect? I see the onset of old age in having very small disorders simultaneously. For I have also the symptoms of a cold. And then there are the eyes. Anyway I drank the bottle.
I had a talk with Jane Tate who has now formed a very high opinion of Paul Gilhooley, who told her that though he will be upset he will simply “throw himself into his work”. But he is sorry for his youngest brother aged 11. Incidentally, Siobhan O’Neill says the Gilhooleys are a very fine family. And Roy Frodsham has gone into hospital for a “small operation”. They’re always small before you go in!
June 22 Saturday: I got a little done in the garden but had to stop at about 7 pm. because of another nose-bleed. I acted quickly this time but it was a long time clotting. The filthy cloudy weather goes on. I’d a quick word with Paul Gilhooley in the morning. Jane Tate has gone down country. The activity of that woman is incredible. Last night she was cooking fudge for her great nephews and great nieces! Where does she get the energy? And she’s always at the doctors. I have heard people suggest hypochondria, but it is more likely that she knocks herself out. All the same, for years she is the one I trust most down there. I had a call from Michael Mortimer who is back, and later from Joe O’Grady.
I went up to the end of 1977. It is a sorry tale. I heard that Eamon McLaughlin had had an attack of angina. Alan Morton rang up at night and said he had Michael Crowe with him [Michael Crowe was a longstanding CA member].
June 23 Sunday: I got to the Irish Centre at 1.45 pm. We had the coach trip to Chester. The day began badly as the coach due at 2 pm. did not arrive till a quarter to three. But it did. There was Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Michael Mortimer, Pat O’Doherty and quite a few others including the bookshop man Cope. We were met at Chester station by the chairman, treasurer and secretary of the Chester Irish Society, and the young fellow John Kenyon who is secretary, had looked up the local papers and was able to take us on a conducted tour. Andy Higgins and Kennedy came from London and Michael Crowe from Newcastle. The Society laid on a buffet in the annexe of the Catholic Church. I said a few words and Canon Murphy, an old man who was parish priest for many years, gave a spiritual talk – a glorious mixture of sound nationalism with a good social slant and dismissive anti-Marxism. I say dismissive because there was no antagonism. He told a story of a Russian communist who was said to have remarked, “The Irish would make the finest communists in the world in it weren’t for their bloody religion.” And he defended people prepared “to fight for an idea”, and refused to condemn the Provisionals. He was from Middleton in Co. Cork.
Then we went into the Club for a drink and Andy Higgins sang. Pat O’Doherty, myself and the building workers had a session with Cope – a frantic “Euro”. John Gibson was there too and told me Blevins has had a nervous breakdown and has been sent to Bulgaria. I do not believe in fugacious therapy, and I suppose he will not get his job back. Reading through these books I begin to have the suspicion that the arrival of 400 CIA agents in 1974 was not directed against the Wilson Government, as I thought at the time, but aimed at disarming any possible left-wing alternative. I heard that Simon has resigned in Manchester. Cope says the new E.C. is the best ever and that they will show great unity. I doubt it. I don’t believe they know what to do or have the capability of doing it if they do. But we’ll see. Cope admits thousands of members are liable to be lost. They will say, “to hell with it.” Apparently Mary McClelland is running the office on her own [ie. the Liverpool CP office]. John Gibson tells me that Cope is now a director of Central Books. What for? For his vote! Also young Pat Devine is pressing for the expulsion of the “hard liners”.
Young Kenyon said he had been in Edinburgh and could find no plaque near Connolly’s birthplace. Also he said the Manchester City Council was talking about a plaque commemorating the martyrs [ie. the Manchester Martyrs of Fenian days].
June 24 Monday: Yesterday was fine. Today is only fair, with a cold breeze. I wrote to Alan Morton about the plaque and John Gibson about Manchester. I also wrote to George Davies. John Boyd wrote taking my side in the crux over Bob Wynn and Gerry Curran, saying simply that if people do not spell out changes in their marital relations, they have only themselves to blame if others are confused. He has had the same experience himself. He lives only 200 yards from Toni Curran and Bob Wynn and it was years before he heard there had been a divorce and a remarriage. He urges me not to blame myself. I do not. Nor do I heed too heavily the lies that are told at funerals. As Jane Tate and I said as we came away, “Toni was a bit of a faggot.” She caused plenty of mischief in her time. But I’m putting in a correction in the next issue, and all those who like me knew nothing about the divorce etc. will say exactly what John says.
At midday Michael Mortimer called in, brought me some timber and information and took away some papers. Joe O’Grady told me we broke even on yesterday and can send Chester Irish Society £15.
June 25 Tuesday: The weather was dry and mild today. For the first time this year there was a touch of “summer” in the air. I worked on the paper. Pat Bond was at it again. He rang asking about the new membership form. I told him the E.C. had decided to do it on a branch or area basis. He hesitated and then threw a tantrum: “Christ! More work.” “Good God, man.” I said, “Send me the particulars of your programme and I’ll do it over breakfast.” Now the prospect of more work for me did not embarrass him in the slightest. He is about as tactful as a mule. He told me quite plainly that Kath MacLaughlin’s daughter was in Chester but he had not introduced her because of “all the rows” I had had with Kath [She and her husband Pat MacLaughlin, who was a veteran of the International Brigade in Spain, were CA members from the 1940s in the Liverpool area]. I’m not of course in the habit of having rows since, unlike Pat Bond, I can keep my temper. There is no question of course that we had political disagreement. Again and again Pat Bond has had trouble in the South London branch and asked me to go down and sort it out. The only reaction he is capable of is throwing a tantrum, but he sells policy for personal reasons.
Later Jane Tate rang and told me he threw a tantrum with Paul Gilhooley this morning, but Jane told him to take no notice of him. He’s like that. He didn’t think of thanking her and Paul for the work they did in the bookshop while he was away. Another thing is that the imminent death of Paul Gilhooley’s mother was a false alarm. Paul and his father went to the hospital yesterday and were told she might live three years. Paul is very relieved. Jane Tate was furious with the Singhalese anaesthetist who had taken it on himself to scare everybody. I wrote to Gerry Curran to see if he wanted to be “happily” re-married.
June 26 Wednesday: I went on with the paper. Letters arrived from Pat Bond and Tony Coughlan. Paul Gilhooley is involving us in some nonsense of bringing Sean Redmond to talk to “Liberation”. But I’ll say nothing and put a stop to that from the other end. At 6 pm. Gerry Curran rang up. He had my letter and had not the slightest desire to be happily remarried. “You’re going to laugh,” he said. “They’re not married at all.” “I’m not a bit surprised,” said I. Apparently Gerry Curran had rung Bob Wynn up – I think before my letter had arrived – and asked if it was true that he was married. He said it was. Did they marry in a church? No. Was it a registry office? “It is by the law of the land,” said your man somewhat pompously. Gerry said that the people who sent in the snooty letters were people who never saw the “Democrat” and couldn’t possibly be “shocked” or “hurt” if Bob Wynn did not deliberately show it them. “There’s something very funny about him,” said Gerry. But meanwhile £180 has come in in memory of Toni Curran, and I said to Jane Tate, “Put the apology in the paper and the money in the bank.” Gerry agreed however that he had looked after her well, though he had prevented Gerry and others from visiting her. He said he’s is in a bad way, so humour him.
June 27 Thursday (London): I went to London in the afternoon, met Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley in the office and went to Hanwell, where John Boyd picked us up. They had arranged a public meeting at the library. I told Paul Gilhooley I would be surprised if ten came, but he bet me there’d be twenty and there were. They included John Boyd himself, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Bob Wynn and a number of others we knew. Bob Wynn is in a bad way, very run down, with a torn muscle in his leg, and utterly down in the mouth. I know I felt awful when Phyllis [ie. his sister] died – and I had just as long a stint as he had – but I would be very surprised if anybody told me I put a public face on it. I did not. But there you are. People differ.
June 28 Friday: There was a meeting in East Ham tonight which Pat Bond and Paul Gilhooley had organised. To my surprise about 15 people came, and one of them, a man in his mid-twenties, a graduate in English of Birmingham University, working as a postman because he can’t get a job, told me he would join. His name is Sherwood. Pat Bond was delighted – somewhat as a child is pleased with being given a toy – and drove us into town on the strength of it. He is of course like Pat O’Donohue, a bag of uncontrolled emotion. But of the genuineness of his concern his work speaks for itself, though I wish he wouldn’t be constantly interfering in other peoples’ work. Paul Gilhooley has brought a new perspective. It struck me he might yet prove the best we had since Tony Coughlan.
June 29 Saturday (Liverpool): We held the Standing Committee in the afternoon, with Pat Bond, Paul Gilhooley, Jane Tate, Philip Rendle, Pat O’Donohue and myself. It was obvious from the start that the two big babies had something on their minds. I would say the balance was CDG, Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley versus Pat O’Donohue and Pat Bond, with Philip Rendle saying little. Jane raised sharply the non-payment of my salary, for which I was pleased. This led to an explosion from Pat O’Donohue, and no harm. Pat Bond had, without consulting Jane Tate, been corresponding with Gasters [ie. the solicitors] over the Hardy bequest, but had forgotten to reply to the last letter, so Gasters had written again. Pat Bond is never far from an outburst, and these last two meetings I have taken the chair. He is liable to leave the chair and go home, leaving the meeting in the air. Paul Gilhooley told me that “Liberation” is in the hands of the Nicholson faction of the CPGB, the “Straight Left.” These are weak on Partition. They hate the NCP – which has the best line – and the hatred is reciprocated. They all have their shibboleths and neglect the vital work, the solution of the theoretical problem, to which a scientific approach must be brought. Incidentally Paul Gilhooley is a find. I bought him two drinks last night. He refused to allow me to pay for one today. This is a little thing that shows responsibility.
June 30 Sunday: I spent the day in Waterloo with Michael Mortimer. We worked on the tapes of the Pollution Conference and got three hours reduced to two and a third. The problem now is finding a shorthand typist who would be willing to transcribe the material for the £35 we have allocated to it. I rang Jane Tate who said she would help but would not be free for some time.
July 1 Monday: I did some clearing up, but in the evening went over to the Irish Centre to a meeting of educationalists who want to start “Irish Studies” in schools. My bold Tony Birtell was secretary. He’s a “left” looking for a main chance. Joan Inglis was there, and Joe O’Grady came late. Barney Morgan, who had telephoned me to “remind” me of it – I don’t require reminding of engagements – did not put in an appearance. If he’d been frank he would have said he was not going and would I. Joe O’Grady and I laughed over this. A man called John McGurk was there who had done a thesis on the O’Neill war. Apparently Keith Joseph [ie.. Secretary of State for Education in the Thatcher Conservative Government] had decided that money should be allocated for “Irish Studies”. It is a comfortable milieu in which they can be cultivated. But I said to myself, we’ll participate and try to ju-jitsu them. At the very minimum it will arouse interest. None of them mentioned the Connolly Association lectures, not even Brian Stowell, who was in the chair. I learned that Lime Street will be on strike from midnight.
July 2 Tuesday: I went to Rock Ferry for the 8.10 to Chester. The diesel would not start, but we reached Chester on another by 9 am. I was directed to the 9.6 which pulled in to an “emergency platform” (the old No. 1) at Crewe. Then it was a bus to Kidsgrove, passing through much agricultural land interspersed with landed estates, another train to Stoke-on-Trent, and another to Derby. However I was there before Paul Gilhooley, who stepped off the London at 12.16. So far so good.
We went to Ripley where he gave a hand with the proof-reading. He will be all right. He knows Latin, but no English Grammar. It seems they still don’t teach it. And we also sorted out the blocks, many of which can be thrown away. He has all kinds of things on foot – a meeting in Islington on the 23rd, something in West London on the 23rd, and is coming to Liverpool on the 24th. He will give the Connolly Association a fresh “image”.
I went for the 5.30. It started at 5.45 and arrived in Stafford after the Holyhead train should have gone. Fortunately it was late, which meant it arrived at Chester after the Rock Ferry should have gone. But the Rock Ferry was the one that comes from Llandudno and that was late. So I was in by about 9 pm. So on the whole it was not too bad.
July 3 Wednesday: A letter came from Brian Wilkinson [an old CA member in South Wales]. His resolution, which I drafted, was passed by 74 votes to 2. The “Morning Star” did not report it. Wilkinson asks if this is “Morning Star’s” blocking or Chater’s lack of interest. I think the latter. He writes, “I am still waiting to hear of your expulsion from the CP. Or are you walking a tightrope” Actually I am not, because of the complete lack of interest. But I have by implication criticised John Freeman [ie. the former Irish regional officer of the ATGWU, who was said to be aspiring to become General Secretary of the British union; see Vol.33] in the July issue. I expect no action, but there may be gossiping reaction. But all they will want will be the votes Freeman can muster. He prevented the North-West region of the TGWU from affiliating to George Davies’ thing.
John Gibson rang at 9.30 am. saying that the CND bulletin had a full account of our conference. He also suggested that Veronica Gibson [ie. his wife] might be prepared to transcribe our conference report. Then Jane Tate telephoned. I went into Birkenhead and bought food, got some letters off and started to clear up. I even managed an hour in the garden. Later on Pat Bond rang up and I wrote to Paul Gilhooley and Peter Mulligan.
July 4 Thursday: A letter came from John Gibson enclosing CND’s bulletin, which contains a good account of our conference and urges another longer conference. It mentions the Connolly Association – but only just, no compliments for taking the initiative. Still I have never known our initiatives complimented in anything. It is like men and women: the women produce but the men consume; the Irish initiate, the English assume the stewardship of the result. However we will write to them.
I got in an hour or two in the garden, the weather being hot and dry – about 78-80 F. I went through John Boyd’s pamphlet on the EEC and marked suggested corrections. Pat Bond rang. Jane Tate rang. Joe O’Grady rang – he has got a stenographer – and Michael Mortimer rang, all at inconvenient times!
July 5 Friday: George Davies telephoned just after lunchtime. He will be away for three weeks. He knew that Freeman had sabotaged him, and said it was scandalous, as he had undertaken not to do so. The TGWU fringe meeting was a disaster. Not only did the Labour Committee on Ireland produce Tony Benn, the militants produced Hatton from Liverpool, and there was yet another [Derek Hatton was deputy leader of Liverpool City Council and a member of the Trotskyite Militant Tendency]. I had told him not to touch it, and he said one learned from experience. He has had a row with the LCI. I always believe in keeping clear of discussions and indicating opinion by means of unexplained action. He wants me to check over a pamphlet he has produced and speak at a meeting in Birmingham.
I managed a little work in the garden. The morning was wet and the temperature lower – high sixties – but it took up later. I’ve had a handful of strawberries and there are plenty of gooseberries. The blackcurrants have shot up after I put potassium nitrate on them, and I’ll have to hunt for the currants through masses of foliage. I also have rhubarb.
July 6 Saturday: A letter from John Boyd, mostly about his EEC pamphlet. He also says that Bob Wynn is in a bad way. Jane Tate and I sent £10 for a bottle of whiskey which we thought might do him good. John says he can’t take anything for medical reasons, but he will give it him when he can. Apparently things are being made worse by “Gerry’s actions and lack of co-operation, as well as the two boys’ attitude and behaviour.” He finishes, “The whole thing is in a terrible mess and looks like ending in a very ugly manner.” What he means by this I don’t know. But it is natural that the boys should gravitate to Gerry Curran and that Gerry should avail of the opportunity to recover his parenthood. So there we have it: 3 + 1/2 men quarrelling over a dead woman. Her capacity to cause trouble certainly did not die with her! I don’t know whether any “strategic withdrawal” will keep us clear of it. If I get a chance I’ll have a word with Gerry Curran. But I understand on top of it all, Bob Wynn is broke and has first told Gerry Curran he owes him money, and on being told he doesn’t, has been trying to borrow from him. I saw from yesterday’s “Manchester Guardian” that Niall Curran [ie. one of Toni and Gerard Curran’s two sons] had passed his exam with a 2.1. Of course the fools should have got married like everybody else instead of pretending they were married and providing something for all squabblers to squabble over.
The weather was not hot today – there was a cool North-West breeze and fracto-cumulus. I went into Birkenhead, posted his MS to John Boyd and bought one or two items. I did a very little in the garden.
July 7 Sunday: It was warmer today and I spent the afternoon gardening, mended the loganberry trellis and put in some marrow seeds. At about 6 pm. Niall Power telephoned. He had had a conference in Manchester with Ken Livingstone and Bernadette Devlin. He had her with him and thought I would like a phone interview for the “Irish Democrat”. I made the excuse that I could not do shorthand. I have no time for that young lady, who contributed so much to sending the civil rights movement off course. She is a nasty publicity-seeking little Trotsky.
July 8 Monday: The weather was better still and I got in an hour or two in the garden. I wrote to the secretary of Merseyside CND proposing an ad hoc committee to run a public meeting on the subject of the state of the Irish Sea. John Gibson had sent me a copy of their bulletin, which reported our conference with the implication that now they were going to take the matter up. By all means let them; the more the merrier. I was reading such a good letter in the “Manchester Guardian” that I looked to the foot to discover the writer. It was John Boyd. I wrote to Tony Coughlan. There are splendid biennial peppers in the garden for the past week. The place looks wild, but I did think it will be impossible to bring in some order by the week-end. It is warm in the sun but the basic airflow (about West-Northwest) is cool.
July 9 Tuesday: I rang John Gibson. He had seen Michael Mortimer at the CND trip on the Royal Iris on Saturday. I had thought of going ,but didn’t think I would know anybody there. I then rang Mary McCelland and arranged to see her. I tried to get Paul Gilhooley, but Pat Bond answered the phone saying he was up “arguing with Tony Gilbert”. I wish he’d stop this nonsense, but if they do anything foolish I will stop it from the other end. Gilbert is a well-meaning ass. Pat Bond was in a good mood. He had sold £450 worth of books at Roundwood Park. But Paul Gilhooley and Philip Rendle, who were to be selling the paper on Saturday night. had failed to make contact. Paul was ten minutes late and Philip Rendle did not wait. He rang him up. “Either come on time or not at all.” I think Philip Rendle is under pressure. Pat Bond thinks it is his work. I wonder if the CP crux is in it. A letter from Tony Coughlan enclosed a cutting on “Eurocommunism” from the “Financial Times”. It showed how in Italy, France and Spain the Communist parties have been weakened by it. They say that Portugal, where the CP is not “Euro”, is an exception because it is “backward”. Well, I can see one way forward. There will be developments on the continent which will rub the gilt off the European gingerbread. This will affect the better of the European intellectuals who will be surprised at how little progress they made. So there will be a reaction before the next Congress [ie. of the CPGB]. Of course the “hardliners” are mostly sectish beyond belief, and “correspondingly arrogant”. The thing to do is to push to the forefront the issues which expose the “Euro” position, in particular the Common Market, and in Liverpool the local issue, the Irish Sea.
I went to see Mary McClelland. She occupies a big office in the Polytechnic Students Union, where Trevor Jones, North Wales Secretary, is assistant manager of the building. She does not pry much. Blevins is still in Bulgaria recovering from a breakdown. She told me she is owed hundreds of pounds in salary arrears – I am not the only one! – and she is fighting it through her branch. She considers the division between the CP and the “Morning Star” disastrous and sees no prospect of the CP recovering on the basis of its present policy. There was a group of young people on a holiday exchange from Rostock, East Germany, and John Gibson and Stratton are going to take them to Manchester Airport.
Later George Davies rang. He thought it may have been tactically unwise for me to put the account of Freeman’s stopping the North-West TGWU affiliation to the Campaign Against Interference [ie. the campaign on Ireland being run by George Davies and the New Communist Party]. He did not know that a circular had gone out to every branch and understood that they might proceed anyway – presumably ignoring Freeman’s advice. So he will let me know what happens.
I went to this “Irish Studies” meeting Joan Inglis is the leading figure in. No sign of Barney Morgan, nor of Tony Birtle who was so valuable last week. Joe O’Grady was there and John McGurk, born in Belmore Street, Enniskillen, but brought up in Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone, and a friend of Uinseann MacEoin’s [ie. the Dublin architect], though out of touch. He’s a useful man who got them a hall. Other teachers were there and the waffle was lugubrious! Joan Inglis had been to that chatterboxery in Leicester, was full of their “trendy” nonsense and wanted (1) to promote Irish studies, (2) to fight anti-Irish “racism”. Everything had to be called by its fashionable name, and some of them dreamed of a great future financed by the Department of Education. Brian Stowell was in the chair and sounded the sole cynical note. All the others were political children. It is typical of Barney Morgan to allow this nonsense to start and then back out. And of course the great aim is to provide a platform in Liverpool for Mary Hickman, Liz Curtis et al [ie. University academics interested in Ireland], all under the totally fraudulent title of promoting “Irish Studies”. Then the real “Irish Studies”, which amount to anti-national brainwashing on an unprecedented scale, will be launched by the two Governments behind the smokescreen. Brian Stowell ran me home.
Joe O’Grady told me that the Labour Committee on Ireland want to bring over a Sinn Fein speaker and that the Labour Party Executive was objecting. So the heat will be turned on the Niall Power etc. – something I’m not too sorry about, though I allowed them to make me a sponsor of their journal. I would love to know the mechanism by which those wee dissident groups are kept going. It can only be financial. Some say the Czechs favour the “New Worker”. Certainly the Russians maintain the “Morning Star”. These have a certain amount of integrity. But who maintains the various brands of arse-paper on art paper?
July 10 Wednesday: I got up rather late. At midday Tony Coughlan rang me saying a friend of his was going to Edinburgh and wanted Alan Morton’s telephone number. I am wondering if Alan is away as I wrote to him well over a week ago and received no reply. I spoke to Joe O’Grady who is going to try to get the statement issued by Eric Heffer and Tony Benn. He is very enthusiastic about the Irish Sea topic.
A letter came from Paul Gilhooley. He got his BSc. with honours, despite not doing much work, and his involvement in other things. He must be a bright young fellow. I rang him up and told him, “Don’t get a big head and mind your spelling.” For throughout the letter he spelled their “thier”. He is learning to type. He has seen some of the building workers, contacted several Trades Councils, and alarmed Jane Tate at the risking of funds. The contrast with Noel Gordon is extraordinary. Later I spoke to Jane. She has written to Gasters about the rest of the Bill Hardy legacy. Pat Bond had been interfering in this. On the way back from Roundwood Park where they took £480, he was playing the martyr. “Look at all the re-ordering I’ll have to do.” If he’d not poke his nose into other people’s work, he’d have energy for his own. I warned both Paul Gilhooley and Jane Tate, if the latter required it, we’d need substantial funding by September.
One of the points Paul Gilhooley made was that the coloured organisations, IBRG and others, based themselves entirely on local authority funding, and were now without a base. We, on the other hand, have our own financial basis, bad as it is.
July 11 Thursday: Quite early Mary McCIelland rang up, asking me if I could send her the article in last Thursday’s “Financial Times” (which Tony Coughlan sent me) explaining how all the CPs who had embraced “Eurocommunism” had got into difficulties as a result. I had told her about it on Thursday. Then Joe O’Grady rang up to say that he had been in touch with Eric Heffer’s secretary who was sending us his “mini-manifesto”.
I replied to Joe Jamison, for I had the bright idea that Sean Redmond’s organisation might invite a delegation to visit Ireland and England. So I wrote to Sean to see how he felt about it. Joe Jamison has offered to do me an American column.
The morning and afternoon were cool and drizzly. I put in beetroot and turnip seeds. But this year I am behind – nearly as badly as in 1983. There have been huge magnificent biennial peppers since the beginning of the month. The two philadelphus bushes are magnificent. But the hydrangea is dead, and the rowan attacked by a fungus last year seems to be on its last legs.
July 12 Friday: The Standing Committee minutes came from Jane Tate. I suggested two alterations and returned them. There are strains on that committee for the first time for years. The political weak-spots are Pat O’Donohue – who seems to have regressed – and Pat Bond. For some reason Pat doesn’t like Jane Tate’s interest in the badges. So he throws in petty objections. We need him for the accounts at present, but I’d like to be without him. As for Pat Bond he has become pettish and tetchy since his stroke, and though not as bad as Pat O’Donohue, spreads a sense of unease. Flann Campbell is only positive. Philip Rendle is not much influence, but level. Gerry Curran is all right when he’s there. The other London E.C. members seldom attend. It will be necessary to build the thing around Paul Gilhooley.
The first Oenotheras were out last night. But the weather was dull and windy. Joe O’Grady rang saying Eric Heffer’s secretary had sent his manifesto. I did some clearing up. At 8.30 pm. Gerry Curran rang up. He had had a quarrel with Bob Wynn and said it was very much on his mind. Apparently Toni Curran has left her half of the house to Bob Wynn and nothing to the boys. Hence what John Boyd calls the boys’ “attitude”. Indeed Conor Curran is talking of contesting the will and has Niall Curran half persuaded. Of course, says Gerry, it is great fun for them. “It’s just like something that happens in fiction!” says the younger. But what scundered Gerry was Bob Wynn’s revelation that years ago on the advice of a solicitor he kept every single bill for repairs to the house, including improvements like double glazing, and wants £2,000 on the nail. Gerry Curran could have given the money for the sake of peace, but not when the law was brought in. Instead he went to his own solicitor and was told that the claim was not valid. He thinks that John Boyd is flattered that Bob Wynn is running round asking his advice and generally making him feel the big fellow. Gerry Curran had lent John Boyd his computer for work on his pamphlet. Just before the demand for money, John delivered the whole thing back to him, as if he was expelling an ambassador prior to war.
He fears strains in the new West London branch, with himself and O’Brien pitted against Bob Wynn, John Boyd and Pat O’Donohue. He thinks Wynn incapable of getting on with people and that this is why he is always losing or throwing up jobs. He regards John Boyd as inflexible as well and somewhat conceited. When Paul Gilhooley rang up suggesting Gerry Curran’s nominee as secretary, John said simply, “It’s not on.” But the wee girl who is to do it has been with Paul Gilhooley in the office. I suppose what John Boyd meant when he wrote of the West London crux ending in an ugly manner is a lawsuit. Is Bob Wynn mad enough? In his present state of mind he might be. A bereavement can act as a continuous irritant stimulating to constant activity while simultaneously producing depression. I suggested to Gerry Curran that the two solicitors could hold a meeting with a view to a compromise in preference to litigation.
He referred to Bob Wynn’s regulation of visits to Toni Curran when she was ill. I remember this when I telephoned suggesting Jane Tate and I should visit her. It was Niall Curran referred to it. Bob Wynn obviously did not object to us. But Gerry says he was kept away and connects this with the contents of Toni Curran’s will. So the human animal even when most affected by grief and desolation, is well able to keep its inner eye glued to the main chance!
July 13 Saturday: There was rain in the night but it was warm and some marrows look like germinating. I went into Birkenhead and got in one and a half hours in the garden. Otherwise not much. I decided not to grow spinach beet any more. It is tasteless. I will grow Tetragonia this year but not again. Since spinach does not do well, I will have ordinary beetroot, and I sowed some. I also sowed coriander. I will however keep the Chenopodium.
July 14 Sunday: It rained until about 11 am. Then there came a bright sunny day in which I got some gardening done before, as the sun went down, it got a trifle chilly. The alternating warmth and wetness produces good growing weather, and if it goes on for a week or two I will be able to “catch up”. Otherwise things are as bad as in 1983.
July 15 Monday: It was dry until late afternoon and I did some more gardening. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” that the Executive Committee of the CP has started expelling people, beginning with Ken Gill and Mary Rosser. There are twelve in all, but the names are not given. There are two in the North-West – possibly Arnison will be one of them. Four London branches are dissolved, Brent, Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Westminster. The first will touch Tom Durkin, the second Paul Gilhooley. The “Guardian” talks about branches suspended in these boroughs, so of course all may not be affected. I presume that Philip Rendle lives in Brent. I do not expect the Connolly Association to be affected. The only weak spot is that Philip Rendle and Paul Gilhooley took different sides in the “Irish Advisory Committee”. Paul Gilhooley of course acted foolishly in leading the committee into war over Tom Durkin etc., but is he in a position to do anything foolish now? I doubt it. There is to be a new weekly newspaper in October. What it will be like, Heaven knows.
In the evening Joe Deighan rang up. He had been in Cambridge, I presume with Dorothy Deighan’s relations, and had called in to see Pat Bond when passing through London. I spoke to Bond, who said Jane Tate was away at her brother’s place in Kent.
July 16 Tuesday: It was quite chilly today and had rained in the night. I did nothing in the garden but reconstructed bookshelves – using a lighter hammer than previously, which cost me £4.70!, but did not bring the other shelves down as the big one did. There is a mass of clearing up to do, the debris of three books, and I’ll never do anything else till the place is right. And as that needs money I’m going to put up a fight in London for the payments due to me. I had a word with Paul Gilhooley and later with Peter Mulligan and Michael Mortimer. I hope the dunking will not give me a filthy cold. For the last few months – indeed for over a year – I have seemed to lack energy. I hope it is not a flash in the pan, but this last few days there has been an improvement. I find a spell of debility follows every big job; it takes time for the brain to clear.
July 17 Wednesday: A phone call came from Paul Gilhooley in the morning. East London meets tonight [ie. the East London CA branch], which is good. South London is discussing dividing into two. West London is on ice. “There is an uneasy truce there,” said Paul, “I’m letting it ride.” We have the Standing Committee on Saturday, with heaven knows what from that bag of uncontrolled emotion Pat O’Donohue. A bill for £97.28 came from the insurance company. So I have to pay for burglaries the police are too busy in politics to prevent.
In the evening Alan Morton rang. I notice he does not write now. I wrote to him to ask whether the James Connolly plaque was still on George IV bridge in Edinburgh – or the next bridge; I forget the name of it, Nicholson Street. He says Alisoun saw it recently. He said he was in reasonable health, but without much enthusiasm. He also said Freda has too much to do. David is in England. But Alisoun has improved very considerably and is playing the clarinet in an orchestra touring Germany! He has a small book coming out soon. He spoke about the CP. Did I read “fuck us” – he pronounced it that way [A presumably sardonic reference to the CPGB publication “Focus”]. I said I didn’t. Like me he has taken no part in the ructions and proposes to go on as he always has, and if they f. him out, they f. him out. He blames the young academics, the “clique round Martin Jacques”. I told him I was thinking of coming to Edinburgh for a few days. Donal Nevin and others have taken on trust Sam Levenson’s consigning Connolly to the “Royal Scots Regiment,” even though he takes the King’s Liverpool chronology from my book, without an attempt to check it [Donal Nevin,1924-2012, later General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, wrote extensively on James Connolly from the 1980s onward, culminating in “James Connolly, A Full Life”, published 2005. He acknowledges drawing heavily on Greaves’s work]. I am a little suspicious of the whole of this, as the proof has not been published. It would be pleasant to upset this. It was Conlon who told me that he was at St. Patrick’s school and that Connolly was a pupil there – I would judge not much after Connolly was there. I know a bit more about historical research now and might turn up some further information.
I made another assault on the Augean stable. The weather was wet, windy, cold and dark. I sowed a few seeds but spent about six hours on the library.
July 18 Thursday: In the morning a letter arrived from Jane Tate saying that she had gone into hospital for a heart “check up” but expected only to be there a couple of days. But I was to have stayed with her over the weekend. So what is to be done? I got hold of Paul Gilhooley who promised to try and track her down. He does not seem to have succeeded. But in any case she rang herself at about 6 pm. She had undergone a series of horrifying “tests” and will hear the result in a few days. I doubt if there is anything that would do her good but a rest. She is always on the go.
I went into the city and read more about disbandments and suspensions. This was confirmed by Paul Gihooley and Jane Tate. Apparently when a branch is “disbanded” its members are not readmitted till they “re-register” and I gather some are not allowed to do so. Among the expellees is Jack Askins. Jane told me that Dorothea is in London with her husband the Professor and wants to see me at the weekend [ie. Prof. Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, whose husband was also a professor, of music, at the University of Halle, GDR]. I rang Tony Coughlan and told him this. Cathal was with him. Apparently Colm Power is getting over his ill disposition. He sent me a cutting a week or two ago and called in to Tony Coughlan last night. I wonder what he thinks of Freeman! Then at 11 pm. Paul Gilhooley rang up from Runcorn. His mother has relatives there and after her hospital treatment yesterday came there for a few days’ holiday but left her medicine behind. So Paul brought it up on the 7.30 train. He wanted to have a talk with me tomorrow, but I have already started on the paper and could not afford to lose a day. He says a number of “Morning Star” readers have responded to our conference announcement.
July 19 Friday: It was wet in the morning but made amends in the afternoon. I went into Birkenhead, bought a typewriter ribbon and writing paper. I also got some canes for supporting runner beans, which thanks to more copious rainfall are better this year. More material came from Tony Coughlan and an article from John Boyd. The “Manchester Guardian” carried an article by Ken Gill in which he says Jacques & company have “hi-jacked” the CP. I am always suspicious of people who write articles in the capitalist press, even the best of a bad bunch. I did a little on the paper. Despite its being dry again the weather is cool, and when this happens in high summer it usually takes six weeks from the start. So expect no good weather till the end of August.
July 20 Saturday (London): I took the 9.30 train to London. The diversion is still on at Crewe but it seemed to me not to be quite the same, not so extended. It is supposed to end tomorrow. I went to the office and found Paul Gilhooley and Jane Tate. She has been having some tests at the hospital that have made her thoroughly ill. I think she is overworking, but if she had a rest would be all right. We held the Standing Committee in the afternoon and the atmosphere was far easier. The positive influence of Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley is exerting itself and today the vibes were good. As well as myself, Jane Tate, Paul Gilhooley, Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue, there was only Michael Crowe who came partly for my lecture at night, and partly to go to Cheltenham to pick up an anorak he had left there. Jane told us there was a prospect of between £5,000 and £10,000 coming from the Bill Hardy legacy, and there was still hope from the Greater London Council. This information was of course of substantial moral value.
We went to Acton Trade Union club where I gave a talk on Marx and Ireland. There was quite a group of young people – tinged with ultra-left notions – who had come specially. If others were doing their jobs these would not be wandering in a doctrinaire wilderness. I had a word with Pat Hourigan. All the builders, and the Irish in particular, are shocked at the actions of the CP Executive and in particular with the expulsion of Tom Durkin. People are tearing their cards up and Pat Hourigan asks what can be done to hold them until matters improve. I knew most of the older people present, and these included Charlie Cunningham, who I hope will return. I stayed the night with Jane Tate, as also did Michael Crowe.
July 21 Sunday (Liverpool): We met Dorothea at lunch time. I think she has her work cut out with the university bureaucracy. All the same a publisher has asked her to do a book on Ireland. She was talking about going to Belfast, but I don’t think she is overkeen on it! Michael Crowe says that the “Euro” element are not very bright in Newcastle. All the work is done by the left element, but “Euro” officials sit in the District Office and draw their pay. The West Newcastle branch goes its own way, but the “Euros” have a man there who carefully notes down what everybody says. The branch secretary recently received a letter from the District Office complaining that the branch was discussing matters that they were not entitled to discuss. I told him they should write back and ask first for the justification of the District Office’s claim that they had the right to prescribe and proscribe the subject of branch discussion, and in the event of their being able to justify it, ask them to lay down clearly in writing what they were not entitled to talk about. I never heard such nonsense in my life! I returned to Liverpool on the 3 pm.
July 22 Monday: I finished and posted off three pages of the paper. I spoke to Paul Gilhooley on the phone. He says he thinks we made a profit last night. He has already thought of what he is going to say in Liverpool, and Michael Mortimer has written to him confirming that he can accommodate him. Jane Tate is somewhat better. I had a word with Michael Mortimer whose local CND want to hold a meeting on the polluting of the Irish Sea, so we have started the ball rolling. Then later Pat Bond and Stella Bond spoke on the phone. Paul Gilhooley complains that Bond is a wet blanket and doesn’t want a West London meeting till September. Charlie Cunningham made the suggestion that West London would better be based on Acton rather than Ealing, because of the Trade Union club we were at last night. So I said to Paul let him call an Acton meeting, and invite anyone from Ealing who wants to come. The thing is to have our branches in centres of Irish life. This was the essence of the new policy I suggested to Central London as soon as we knew Noel Gordon was gone. By the way, Jane Tate says he is still around and has been seen shopping in Leather Lane.
The weather remains chilly and changeable. Dorothea rang up.
July 23 Tuesday: The weather was much better today, warm and sunny. Unfortunately, I had the paper on my hands and couldn’t avail of it. I only went to the Post Office. I have been trying to get Sean Redmond. His office told me he was on holiday. I got Pádraig Ó’Conchúir, but the “Irish Democrat” line was engaged more than usual so I did not get Paul Gilhooley. A note came from Alan Morton saying he is coming to Liverpool in August.
July 24 Wednesday: The telephone would drive you round the bend. I wanted Jack Bennett. No reply. Then I was told I had the wrong number. I checked and rang again. Still wrong. I concluded the number was changed, so dialled Tony Coughlan. Engaged. I would try in 10 minutes. In the meantime I rang 244 Grays Inn Road – Pat Bond was there, but no sign of Paul Gilhooley. “He stays up late and gets up late,” says Bond. Then I got Tony Coughlan who told me Jack Bennett’s number was changed. I rang the new number. Engaged! And all to try to fill a page of the “Irish Democrat”.
I met Paul Gilhooley at Lime Street and we went to the branch meeting. The attendance was disappointing but not too bad – John Gibson, Veronica Gibson, Pat O’Doherty, Barney Morgan, Michael Mortimer (who had forgotten about it and had to be rung up), Madden, the Tauntons and one or two more. John Gibson told me about CP developments. BIevins resigned and they have lost their premises such as they were. Apparently they passed a vote of thanks to him for his past work by 7 votes to 6, with 8 abstentions. What a gang of bums! And poor Mary McClelland, whom they owe £600 in back wages to, is out on the street after putting in 35 years. It crossed my mind that there may have been “entryism” at more than one level [ie. subversion by outside forces]. If that is so only a split can cure it. And Paul Gilhooley tells me that he heard that Ken Gill and Chater met to discuss this. Paul went to stay with Michael Mortimer.
July 25 Thursday: Today the weather was hot and dry. Michael Mortimer brought in Paul Gilhooley to meet me at Central Station. I showed him round the city. Unfortunately, there was much mist on the river, so that the whole estuary was not visible. But there was no shipping, and only two ships in the miles of docks, as he saw. He told me of the problems in South London and West London. In the South Mairin Dillane and Roger Kelly will not work with Pat Bond because of his “dictatorship”. And Paul Gilhooley finds him very trying. In the Standing Committee he had turned to Paul and said, “Do that, and see you do it.” Paul said he was so taken aback that he didn’t retort. And of course he orders his wife about as if she were a skivvy. And this the members resent, though it is true they are anarchists and lazybones. Paul has some notion of dividing the branch in two, but then only Pat Bond’s part would survive, for at least he puts in the work. Then in West London there is tension between Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue. I advised Paul to develop some new growth points and suggested Acton, Kilburn and Haringey, and declare Acton part of Central London Connolly Association to keep West London CA from injecting their squabbles. And the new growth points push up past of the old.
He was telling me of the “re-registration” scandal they would like to apply to the whole party. They did not consult Westminster but wrote to every individual personally, saying his membership was suspended but that he would be re-admitted on giving an assurance of toeing the Executive Committee line. I told them that if they tried that on me I would tell them to go to hell. And possibly the Ken Gill and Chater plot is aimed at forestalling this. But Paul Gilhooley thinks Chater is little more than a talker and describes how he “holds court” at a pub near the “Morning Star”. He left on the 4 pm.
I spoke to Jane Tate in the evening. She had sent me a letter to the Connolly Association from the ILEA she had found lying open on the table – it was inviting us to apply for a grant! How did it get there? She presumed that Pat Bond had opened it, decided it did not interest him and left it on the table. In my opinion Paul Gilhooley should get in early enough to open the post himself. Anyway, it was dated June 20th and had been lying there a month. Jane finds Pat Bond almost unbearable. He spends his time walking up and down the office swearing at this, that and the other that has gone wrong. She tells him he’ll give himself another stroke, which he will. This morning Stella Bond arrived with a list of queries which included, “Has Jane rung the GLC?” “Has Jane Tate done this that and the other?” She told Stella that she knew her responsibilities and did not require Pat Bond’s supervision in discharging them. Of course he is rapidly getting worse. He has no sense of humour and no sense of proportion. I have seen this position before, where the only hope is fresh blood not under the influence of the old hands from which there can be nothing new.
July 26 Friday: It was dark and gloomy and thundery, but scarcely squeezed out a squib of rain. I spoke to Jane Tate. She is not too well and is going away for the weekend. I also spoke to Pat Bond who sounds in better form, and Paul Gilhooley who was to have had lunch with “Morning Star” foreign editor, Roger Trask, but that gentleman did not keep his appointment. This shows that Chater would be no better than Gordon McLennan on the Irish question and it would be foolish for Irish people to stick out their necks for him. I also had a word with Michael O’Riordan, who is thoroughly disgusted at the expulsion of Tom Durkin and Askins.
July 27 Saturday: Today was fine and bright. I got up supports for the runner beans and planted out some delayed tomatoes. Paul Gilhooley saw Trask after all – in the evening. He told him Myant left the “Morning Star” on Friday and that is the end of that influence in that quarter. But the motivation remains the same. Trask is looking for circulation in the Six Counties. Paul challenged him on this but made little impression. The English are incurably mercenary and nothing short of some national disaster will cure them, even if that does. He would not be content to present a consistent socialist policy and take the circulation he deserved.. At the same time if he did this last I see no reason why they should not win circulation, but it would be among the Irish building workers here, and possibly some on the Falls Road and in Dublin. Paul Gilhooley is a great one for having lunch with people and on Tuesday it is Lia Dover. Result – he can’t come to Ripley.
July 28 Sunday: On the whole a wet dribbling miserable day that cleared up in the evening enough for me to plant out tetragonia and the last two tomato plants, and to put in a couple of marrow seeds where the seedlings had been ravaged by snails. The “Sunday Mail” disclosed a woeful plot I fear FitzGerald is a party to [ie. presumably rumours regarding the developments that led to the Anglo-Irish Agreement the following November].
July 29 Monday: Another wet miserable chilly dribbling day. I knew the weather was in for a bad spell when it turned cold a few weeks ago, though I have known it worse. I did a bit of clearing up and went into town for cash.
July 30 Tuesday: I went to Ripley – a wretched journey. We missed the connection at Crewe because the train ahead of us had “struck sheep”. I never heard that before. Then the return one missed the connection, for no reason assigned. The Chester train came too late to make the Rock Ferry connection and I got home at 9.30 after starting at 8.15 am.
July 31 Wednesday: Another chilly day, though not raining, and no prospect of improvement. I had a long talk with Paul Gilhooley. He says Lia Dover has turned very negative and is leaving the job at the end of September. She has the notion of uniting all the Irish organisations round the NCCL [ie. the National Council for Civil Liberties, to which the CA was affiliated] and is furious with the Federation [ie. the Federation of Irish Societies] who have accepted £50,000 from the Greater London Council for research into the Prevention of Terrorism Act, on top of getting £120,000 from the Embassy. I told him that Sean Redmond had denied any knowledge of a meeting in Camden Town Hall on September 5th. I see the London District CP have cancelled their order for the “Irish Democrat”. Paul Gilhooley thinks it is because Doyle, who runs the literature, is a bit of a “Stickie”. But I think it is more likely to be ukase from above. The sky cleared from the North-West at 10 pm. – a damned cool sky too.
August 1 Thursday: Another chilly cloudy day. I spoke to Jane Tate. The doctors are still fooling about with her. They poked something up her arm and gave her an infection. This they countered with antibiotics that made her feel sleepy. She says all she needs is a rest. And if that is true it must register in some way. But the fallacy is going to a doctor to be told you need a rest, instead of taking the rest. I told them that if necessary I’d go to London for a few days to relieve them. There is no sign of the GLC grant. Westminster Council has taken them to court over grants, so everything is in abeyance. This means voluntary staffing of the shop, and pressure on Pat Bond and herself. And Bond is not powerful in motivating other people because his head is so full of himself that he cannot imagine what might motivate them.
Joe O’Grady told me he had received £427 from Merseyside County Council. Our expenses so far are about £300, so we’ll have to appeal for a few fivers. Paul Gilhooley is arranging meetings galore and Jane wonders where the money is to come from, as he never makes anything out of them. Even so it’s far better than Noel Gordon’s inactivity. Gilhooley says organisations do not bother to notify us of things, as they assume we will not be available. He is trying to restore the position. He tells me all the former LDC “Irish Advisory Committees”[ie. of the London District CPGB] are back under Philip Rendle’s secretaryship. And they would like Paul Gilhooley as well if they could persuade him. I think he considers himself bitten once.
August 2 Friday: Another cold windy day. There was rain in the night, but it never seems to rain properly. It prefers being miserable! It cleared in the afternoon and I got some gardening done. I had a word with Paul Gilhooley in the afternoon and he told me things were reasonable. He said two NCPs [ie. from the New Communist Party, the 1977 breakaway from the CPGB] were in during the afternoon, “talking nonsense”. There is some of the intolerance of youth in Paul! He still identifies himself in a general way with the CP, has little time for Chater’s crowd and I would think he is nearest to the “Liberation” crowd who follow Fergus Nicholson. The place is strewn with panjandrums and gurus. One could say, here’s long life to the Pope, and damnation to the anti-Pope – and the rest proceeds like the Jacobite oath.
George Davies sent me a photostat of his proposed pamphlet and the NCP conference resolution. I find the whole lot of them, CP and NCP, far too pretentious, these days.
August 3 Saturday: Another cool windy day – dry, but unpleasant. I had hoped my prognosis of mid-July would have proved wrong. But a sudden chill at that time of year usually persists. I had a word with Paul Gilhooley, who certainly gets on with the job. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” – for she has a letter in it – that that little bitch Mary Brennan has been expelled from the CP. They must be stuck for somebody to expel if they are starting on worthless muck like that! She is the twin sister of the absurd, incredibly conceited Irene Brennan, who wrecked the CP as far as the Irish Question was concerned and gaily went off to wreck something else. The two of them ought to have been drowned as pups. Conceited scum!
August 4 Sunday: It began to rain at 10 am. and continued till 7 pm. Though not so cold it was cool enough. I seemed to be at it all day with little result – also sneezing with a filthy cold. I spoke to Alan Morton. David Morton has gone back to Canada today, John Morton declaring that his nephew aged 10 is a “nice little boy” – somewhat as if this were not to be expected! [John and David were Alan Morton’s sons]. I wrote to Tony Coughlan and John Kenyon in Chester and had to make supper all over again thanks to a bad egg bought across the road. No more from him!
August 5 Monday: It didn’t rain. The sun was warm when it was out, but the wind was from the North-West, strong and chilly. Nevertheless I got something done in the garden. Paul Gilhooley rang up. He says Noel Gordon came in, at first very edgy and nervous. He admitted he was not able for the organiser’s job and thought it was a mistake ever to have taken it on. But though somewhat “cynical” (as Paul Gilhooley put it), he is still politically interested and Paul arranged to have a drink with him some time. George Davies rang. He wants Derek Robinson as chairman of the Midlands conference – one of the more notorious CPGB expellees. I told him to do no such thing and suggested Brian Mathers. To have Robinson would be to stir things up and CA people who attended could have “dissident” thrown at them. I went through his pamphlet last night. It is not too bad.
I saw in the “Manchester Guardian” that Gaster is talking about taking the CP Executive to court over expulsions. I had advised Jane Tate to put that idea forward lest it be missed. But apparently Tom Durkin had thought about it. Alan Morton rang. He is coming to Liverpool next week to visit his sister in Prescot. So we will meet. I wrote to Tony Coughlan, Paul Gilhooley, Pat Bond, John Kenyon and one or two more.
August 6 Tuesday: The morning was cold with dribbling showers. A letter came from Pat Bond. He had gaily replied to a letter from Liverpool addressed to me and sent it on to me after a few weeks. Now he made a sort of apology. He enclosed a woefully well-meaning circular he sent out, appealing to people, “please, please”, to help him with his paper sales, because his health limits his ability to go out himself. It is all so well-intentioned, but so uncomprehending – personalised like everything else. If anybody discusses politics, he doesn’t listen. If anybody says anything he disagrees with, he throws a tantrum. He has no conception of the probable reactions of other people. If you are woeful and pitiful people aren’t sorry for you, or if they are or are not, they keep out of your way. The conventional folk always made me laugh. “What people think!” What they think is about is themselves! And to get them out it is not sufficient that Pat Bond should have a motive; they must have one.
I spoke to Paul Gilhooley. He told me that Philip Rendle has a fresh problem. I had asked him what had happened to the other dissidents on the “Advisory Committee”. He told me Philip Rendle had them all back in the fold. But now haven’t they issued an anonymous sheet under some fancy title and Philip is going to give them away! Paul is very pleased he severed his connection. Of course it is nonsense. Nobody takes any notice of anything that hasn’t a signature on it.
There was no sunshine today, and at sunset there was an ugly grey and peach-coloured sky. The barometer was still rising slowly, but judging by the sky it will soon dip again.
A thing Paul Gilhooley told me was interesting. The Brent Irish outfit tried a week or two ago to set up an IBRG branch. It was a failure, McGrath says, because of “disillusionment with the IBRG”. I wonder what this signifies. They now talk about the Connolly Association.
August 7 Wednesday: In the morning John Gibson rang. The “Morning Star” contained a letter from a group of former members of Philip Rendle’s “Advisory Committee” saying the London District Committee had purged the committee of people whose views are not acceptable. They said nothing about the sheet of arse-paper which it was presumably they who published. So Philip Rendle must have moved quickly. But who should be signing it but Mairin Dillane, Secretary of the South London branch of the Connolly Association. I spoke to Paul Gilhooley when he telephoned. (I had asked him via Jane Tate to go to the Arnison press conference). He had not seen the “Morning Star”. He said Mairin Dillane was pro-Provisional, together with the others. I told him to delay the setting-up of a breakaway South London branch as this would become a centre of CP dissidents like Glasgow. I told him how to delay it. Pat Bond is very dubious of the division – but is totally blind to the political dangers. He thinks Mairin Dillane wants to set up a “cultural” branch. How innocent they all are! It is woeful! Incidentally, John Gibson said that last Saturday the Myant crowd just walked out on the “Morning Star” and said if you want our work done, do it yourself. Barney Morgan is giving a talk to Liverpool CP on Easter 1916. I take it this is the Blevins faction, but I asked no questions when Barney sent me the leaflet, nor did I ask now.
August 8 Thursday: It threatened rain all day – as usual a cloudy day – but again as usual squeezed out a very modest amount. Paul Gilhooley rang in the morning. He is coming to Liverpool next Friday and goes to Dublin where he will stay with Tony Coughlan. He wants to meet Michael Mortimer and me, so I thought of inviting the two of them to dinner, though this means interrupting an experiment. I formed an impression that eczema followed drinking – for example when I went to London. So I drank nothing but a pint of beer at Ripley since July 26th. Usually I drink a bottle of wine each night. Certainly the eczema has been inactive, but it might have been inactive anyway. And in the evening Tony Coughlan rang saying he would be coming on the 20th – and Alan Morton is coming next week. It is easy enough to leave the drink alone when it is in private, but I would not want to refuse it on social occasions and have to enter into explanations. Tony says his sister is returning to Pakistan and after leaving here he will meet her at Chester. That is the day I go to Ripley. The piano tuner came.
August 10 Sunday: Today was better, and I got some gardening done. Fruit is plentiful and I gathered loganberries and gooseberries. I had a word with Paul Gilhooley. Pat Bond was in the bookshop. They don’t appear to be getting many helpers. But in a piteous letter Pat Bond wrote to me he complained that he could not motivate people. He tells them only it would be better for him if they helped him, but not how it would be better for them! In the evening Alan Morton rang. He is coming on Tuesday, but instead of meeting me in town, he wants me to drop out to his sister’s on the way to Wigan and have lunch there. I could hardly refuse, but I was not too pleased. I didn’t really see why I should spend three hours travelling when he is the one on holiday. But I only met his sister for one minute and that was over 50 years ago! Still, there you are.
August 11 Sunday: The most miserable day since the spring! It was cold and wet when I got up and remained so till 5 pm. when the sun came out for one minute, the wind veered South-West and the rain resumed and the cold continued. Such weather is most unusual for August, though in 1931 I remember it in July. I would doubt if the temperature was above 55’F. It certainly felt cold. However I did some clearing up. At 9 pm. there was a vicious looking sunset – pink and fracto-stratus – but by 10 pm. it was clear.
August 12 Monday: The day dawned bright, showery and very cold. I had to have an electric fire on all morning. George Davies rang early on. He wants me to address his conference in Birmingham, but they want Derek Robinson, the CP-expellee, as chairman. This I am not easy about and I said that unless he was counterbalanced by Tony Benn or some other Labour panjandrum, I’d have to be very careful of speaking there. This was after a letter sent by Jane Tate enclosing this dissident manifesto that Mairin Dillane and one or two other dissidents within the CP “Advisory Committee“[ie. the CPGB Irish Advisory Committee] had issued. The CP nonsense has overflowed into the CA – because Pat Bond resolutely refused to take a political stand on any controversial issue. He used to back up every absurdity his members thought up and let the E.C. handle it. Now he is hoist by his own petard. They don’t regard him as possessing the slightest political weight. George Davies told me that Arnison is taking over as Irish correspondent at the “Morning Star”. He thinks that will be better for us. Well, we’ll not get hostility and no doubt he will accept our support. George Davies also says that the “Morning Star” people will not speak to the Nicholson crowd who are for “staying in the party”. Again, politics doesn’t come into it. It is all loyalties to slogans and persons. A letter from Sean Redmond rather scouted the idea of bringing Joe Jamison to Ireland [American Trade Unionist Joe Jamison was a leading figure in the Irish-American Labour Coalition and the MacBride Principles campaign on foreign investments in Northern Ireland, then being run in the USA]. He is trying to send a delegation to the USA where they will urge the US unions to “use their international connections” to influence the British there. They would as well tackle the Foreign Office, which is to all intents and purposes the same thing! I see after all Sean Redmond is sending people to speak at Labour Committee on Ireland events. In all those things, IBRG, LCI, it is the availability of money that talks. As a movement they are little.
August 13 Tuesday: I went to see Alan Morton at a place beyond Prescot today. He met me at the station and his sister had prepared a very reasonable lunch. She had met me before but neither of them could remember when. I told them I thought it would be around 1933, when he and I had been walking in the Wirral and went into town for a meal. We met on the stairs in Central (low level) Station. Then, after no more than an introduction, Alan and I went to Reece’s underground – brasserie, did they call it? – and that Lees came over to our table. He was a radical student and a friend of Be. [University companions, see Vol. 2]. Alan knew that Hodge had died, but he had never actually met him. He entirely agreed with me about CP affairs. He had seen Mrs Woddis’s letter in the “Manchester Guardian”. I told him I thought she had ruined Jack Woddis and of how the Bellamies invited me to Leeds to try to put him straight. She was there and sat silent and, as I thought, unappreciative. I returned at about 6 pm. Dorothy Morton has three dachshunds there – they are frisky and excitable, but not too objectionable.
August 14 Wednesday: It was wet in the morning, bright but cold in the afternoon. I spoke to Paul Gilhooley on the telephone. He says everything is cleared up and he will start his holiday tomorrow. He is the first organiser completely to win over Jane Tate. She has no criticisms of him. Barnard O’Connell wants me to speak at this conference in Birmingham. I had told George Davies I did not like their choosing Derek Robinson as chairman. Now they are talking of inviting a “TU official from Belfast” as well as one of Sean Redmond’s people. They seem always to drift down the same road. Tony Coughlan rang. He is coming late next week.
August 15 Thursday: It looks as if it is goodbye to the summer. Today there were grey skies that would not do credit to November. I had both electric fire and electric light on most of the day, and there was a cool and brisk wind. Of course I have lost the garden. There is only the forest – reliable as usual. George Davies wrote enclosing some photographs from Martin Guinan. He defends Bernard O’Connell’s nonsense, though he may not appreciate the full extent of it. For he told me in the letter inviting me to speak, which came after I had spoken to George Davies, that Derek Robinson will indeed be the chairman, and that in addition to the Dublin Trade Union speaker from Sean Redmond’s organisation, there will be a Trade Union official from Northern Ireland. My guess is this: Why will neither Bill Goulding nor Brian Mathers [leading Birmingham Trade Union figures] take the chair? Because of their position in the union. And because to square that they have to agree to bring in one of Freeman’s men [ie. John Freeman of the TGWU]. But why does Bernard O’Connell himself not take the chair? Is it the same reason? On the surface it looks as if we are being treated to the old English custom of “hearing both sides” – equal representation for God and the devil! I am wondering how to handle this. There was also a letter from Tony Coughlan.
Joe O’Grady rang saying the tapes of the Pollution Conference are typed. And later I confirmed that Michael Mortimer will pick up Paul Gilhooley at Lime Street tomorrow. The evening was raw, bleak and blustery. The weather broke in mid-July, though there were one or two warm days afterwards. That means six weeks – so there could be another bad fortnight and the chance of a decent spell in September. Any advance on that will be welcome. Everybody is talking about it.
August 16 Friday: Rain and cloud in the morning, taking up somewhat later. In the evening Paul Gilhooley and Michael Mortimer came for dinner and fumigated the place with cigarette smoke till it smelled like the funnels of hell. I had spoken to Pat Bond on the phone. He concurred that there was no decision to split the South London branch and said he was opposed to it, but continually talked as if it were a foregone conclusion. He thought Paul Gilhooley would have told me what happened at Wednesday night’s meeting. “I thought he was spending the day with you!” he commented. Otherwise he seemed exceptionally cheerful, but entirely oriented on himself. I found out later what had happened. Pat Bond, as usual, had completely reversed the position he took up to the Standing Committee and left Paul Gilhooley in the air. When a resolution was proposed to split the branch in two Bond had voted for it, something he did not tell me. I never understood what made the man tick, but had a glimpse of it. It is what Eddie Cowman said of the CP branch members. They are not interested in making history but enjoy a “way of life” which provides activity in an atmosphere of competition for a share of the mutual admiration available in their circle. To Pat Bond the main thing is the preservation of his “way of life”. Thus while seeming sound on fundamentals he can behave like a political jelly in small ways. Paul Gilhooley is full of talk – I forget the content of the interminable convolutions I used to have with Edge and Hodge and Alan Morton and others when I was 22. Probably it was much the same. Michael Mortimer said, “He’s all right.” Anyway Michael took him to the boat and he seems set on a political holiday. He is seeing Tony Coughlan, Eddie Cowman, Sean Redmond and others tomorrow. He particularly wants to see Eddie. I’m not worried about the Dublin impact, and as for Belfast the only thing might be getting too romantically involved with Sinn Fein, with whom his family have some sort of connection. He is full of optimism for the future of the Connolly Association. I told him not to be under the illusion that its history began two months ago. Joe Deighan rang and I got him to speak to him.
August 17 Saturday: This was the first fine day this month – cool in the morning but reasonable in the evening. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. Paul Gilhooley has arrived. His mother is in Belfast and took a bad turn, after which the father rang. But apparently she rallied and he is staying in Dublin till Tuesday. He has this wretched business hanging over him.
In the evening – around 7 pm. – it was summer again and I planted blackcurrants. These and gooseberries are the most satisfactory fruits to grow. Neither are so prolific this year – but there is plenty of growth for next year.
August 18 Sunday: It was pouring rain when I got up at about 8 am. and went on till 11 am. After that it was dark, damp, chilly and depressing all day. This is proving an appalling summer. There is not the warmth of decent growth, except of course for weeds. Pat Bond rang up – quite unnecessarily – at 10 am., just as I put breakfast on the table. Everybody says the same. He does not think of how anybody else may be fixed, and of course all the South Londons have reacted against his “bossing”. Later I spoke to Peter Mulligan. I did a little on the paper, but the gloomwould give you the blues. I needed electric light on most of the day.
August 19 Monday: It was not wet, and that is something. Indeed the sun came out in the late afternoon and it was also not cold. George Davies telephoned in the morning. He had received my letter about the Birmingham conference and agreed with its contents. I told him I would write to Bernard O’Connell. He quite agreed with me about what had happened and thought Goulding the weak link. Mathers is retiring next year and could not care. Goulding might want to play safe. But I also caught the scent of another intrigue. Derek Robinson is in touch with the CP Industrial Department and there is possibly an NCP desire to embarrass them. So they “mix things” to the possible detriment of their conference. I had a word with Jane Tate.
August 20 Tuesday: George Davies rang in the morning to ask may advice upon whether to mention Sean Redmond’s organisation [ie. the Dublin-based Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence] in the NCP resolution. I think he has a sneaking hope to recruit me into that organisation. But I’m not on the market! However, I told him to mention it, but not by name. Those who ask my advice get it. Those who don’t, don’t. I went on with the paper. Pouring rain in the evening, followed by thick cloud, and so cold l had to have the electric fire on.
August 21 Wednesday: It was fair in the morning – intervals of sun, but plenty of fracto-cumulus. By tea-time it was its old usual self, thick dark blankets of clouds, and spitting rain. At the same time I think it is showing slight signs that there may be a change in a week or two. Joe Deighan’s copy has not arrived, nor Dónall Mac Amhlaigh’s. Joe Deighan told me he posted it on Sunday – which is Monday. Peter Mulligan told me he had not after all contacted Dónall Mac Amhlaigh as promised and now learned he was working and had no time! It would never occur to him to say so. So I’ll have to find things to reprint.
August 22 Thursday: Joe Deighan’s copy came at long last, and some material from Alan O’Toole who is involved in the “Labour History”, an occupation whose participants I suspect. Jane Tate is going on holiday to Russia on Saturday. I told her that Paul Gilhooley had told me possibly that he’d be broke when he got back from Belfast. I arranged with her to lend him a few bob. She remarked that Noel Gordon had never asked her for money, though Paul Gihooley is “subbing” all the time. She said she thought Noel was a very “proud” person who would feel it infra dig. to ask for cash. This will be a factor. He could not do the organiser’s job, but would not admit it and bluffed.
August 23 Friday: Nothing much happened today. It was raining by 9 am. and did not stop till 7 pm. Then it was chilly, dark and cloudy – very much to present form. I see, looking back, that it broke on July 16 – so if there is no improvement in the next week, I suppose we can write the summer off. Everybody says this is the worst summer since 1954. That was followed by a bad winter. But it could as easily be the opposite. Joe O’Grady rang. I got the last page of the paper off. This month has been the devil. Tony Coughlan posted his copy five days late. Joe Deighan’s came only yesterday. Dónall MacAmhlaigh’s did not come at all.
I had a brief word with Jane Tate. She says expulsions have been started in Scotland and that Fergal O’Hanlon – or is it O’Doherty? – has been “suspended” for three months. I would be tempted to tell them to go to the devil! Of course the Grays Inn Road writ does not run north of the border, and I have often thought a distinct Scottish organisation with affiliate status might be better. Brett Kibble only uses it in his battle with the CP right. And to make matters troublesome closer at hand Paul Gilhooley has booked Tom Durkin for a meeting in Brent! As I expected, he is a handful – but better than a hand empty like Noel Gordon’s. Incidentally Jane Tate says Paul had an evening with Noel.
August 24 Saturday: At about 4 pm. Tony Coughlan arrived from Dublin. His sister is following on Tuesday, and Muriel Saidlear will arrive in London on Thursday – the two to proceed to Paris. There were various items of news. Paul Gilhooley had been staying with him until Thursday. There had been a scare. His father had telephoned from London to say his mother (in Belfast) was taken suddenly worse. But he telephoned Belfast and they told him he could remain in Dublin. While there he saw Sean Redmond and Eddie Cowman. Indeed Eddie took a day off work and while at the outset slightly dismissive of Paul, ended with quite a different opinion. They had great arguments.
August 25 Sunday: There was seldom such a wretched day, wet and cold. We felt no inclination to go out but went to the Prenton [a local hotel down the road from his home] for a drink in the evening.
August 26 Monday: Today was cloudy and cool but dry. We took the bus to Mold, walked to Garrw y mynydd and Maeshafn, then back to Mold – about 7/8 miles of the route we followed. There are no fantastic changes in the Dublin scene, but Daltún O Ceallaigh has “taken a scunder” Tony Coughlan obviously didn’t want to say too much about (probably a disagreement with himself) and has left the ISM committee. This is probably hankering after his new departure or whatever it was.
August 27 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan came to Lime Street with me. He had to meet his sister in Chester, on her way back to Pakistan. I went on to Derby, where the paper went through reasonably well. After reaching Liverpool again I saw Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at the Irish Centre. We discussed the pamphlet and the TUC. Michael Mortimer is willing to drive us up. He suggested that Paul Gilhooley stay with him. And he was more enthusiastic than I met him before, quite ready to get on with things. While he was getting a drink I mentioned this to Joe O’Grady.
“Well, ” said he,” ook at this relationship he’s established with Paul Gilhooly.” I thought I was quick on the uptake, but this shows Joe O’Grady shrewder than I had thought, for when he came back and sat down, Michael Mortimer started talking about Paul and said, “I’ve taken a liking to him.” Of course I was very pleased.
August 28 Wednesday: This was the third dry day. Perhaps it will take up now. I thought it might when the rain petered out and Monday was dry, and said as much to Tony Coughlan. Michael Mortimer had asked me to try to trace Paul Gilhooley and I rang Joe Deighan. He had been to see him last night but gone to Newry. I decided to ring his father to tell him he could remain in Belfast an extra day. However, hardly had I put down the receiver when the bell rang and Paul himself was on the line.
“Where are you ringing from?” I asked.
“What? You’ve gone back?”
He explained that his mother’s health had plummeted during the last week and they had whisked her back to London.
August 29 Thursday: Though cloudy, the weather was dry again, and in the evening there was summer in the air – the only day this month. I think there is a chance that it might take up. Michael Mortimer came to lunch and brought wine, which sent me asleep half the afternoon. We were discussing the printing of the report of our pollution of the sea conference. He says he can do the setting on his word-processor and consequently we could print in Liverpool quite cheaply. He is to find out how much we would save. I told him about Paul Gilhooley, who still hopes to came back to Blackpool [ie. to the TUC annual conference there]. Stella Bond was on the telephone. She was doubtful if he would – but I think from sheer lack of imagination. He will of course want to be with his mother, but he’ll also be glad of an excuse to get away for a day, unless of course the end is in sight. So Michael Mortimer and I left it that we work on the basis that Paul comes up in the afternoon and spends the evening here, where Michael Mortimer will pick him up late at night. Michael no longer visits his younger daughter at his ex-wife’s. Instead she comes to lunch with him every Tuesday and stays part of the evening. Joe O’Grady tells us the Liverpool branch has about £250 in the fund, so we can finance the lot of it.
August 30 Friday: Today the weather was reasonable. It was quite an experience to get up to warm sunshine and to feel the sun during the day. Even so, it is already “September”. The evenings are rapidly darkening and the sky has lost its intense blue. The first marrow flower appeared. The tomatoes are in flower – that’s all. The tetragonia has not got beyond the seedling stage. The broad beans are only 3″ high. It has been a disastrous season. In the afternoon Joe O’Grady rang up and I told him what Michael Mortimer and I had agreed.
August 31 Saturday: The day began fine, but in the afternoon when I was about to start work in the garden, what seems to have been a cold front deposited a good sprinkling of rain, after which the wind veered North-West and we were back in the cold windy weather of the last month. So it looks like a “write off” after all.
I had a word with Stella Bond. Paul Gilhooley had been in on Thursday afternoon and had everything made for next week. I started on the special issue I intend to bring out in October, and wrote to Joe Deighan, Sean Redmond, Tony Donaghey, Tom Durkin, Jim Savage, Flann Campbell, Martin Flannery, Alf Dubs, Eddie Loyden, Jock Stallard [Flannery, Dubs, Loyden and Stallard were or had been Labour MPs], Cathal MacLiam, Siobhan O’Neill, Wilf Charles, Eddie Cowman and one or two more. I want to tackle the question of “Irish Democrat” circulation this autumn. It is clear that Noel Gordon’s statements that all was well was deceptive sunshine talk. No wonder he had a “a sense of failure”!
According to Stella, “Feargus O’Connor” (the Seachrán!) has been in and, wonder of wonders, has found himself a job in some harmless clerical capacity. He must be close on 35, but I always think of him as a youngster. It was so cool tonight that I made a fire of some timber Michael Mortimer left me.
September 1 Sunday: A miserable, dark, cold windy day, not wet but otherwise objectionable. I seldom remember a year with such endless cloud, and things have just not grown properly. In the morning George Davies rang and asked whether I recommended supporting Miriam James’s demonstration next February. I did, for what it amounted to. Later Paul Gilhooley rang. He is coming to Blackpool and wants to meet Bernard O’Connell. Young people think that if they have met and talked to somebody, something has happened. He is a great one for saying things are “important” – ie. he wants to do them. We were the same as youngsters. In the evening Brian Latham of North Manchester Marxist Group rang up. They want a speaker on Northern Ireland. Would I recommend that they invite Jimmy Stewart? I said No. I would have done it myself, but their two dates are inconvenient. So I suggested Joe Deighan. I don’t know whether he would come. I was a bit amused by his approach. “We want a speaker on Northern Ireland and we don’t want any of these Eurocommunists.” I told him not to partition Ireland by implication and to ask for a speaker on Ireland. He said he wouldn’t and he would!
September 2 Monday: An even worse day – rain beginning at 10 am. and tippling down till seven to allow the very last rays of a pale yellow sun to light the buildings. I sent off a few letters. Pat Bond rang in the afternoon. Had I “got Paul with me?” He seems obsessed with the idea that if Paul Gilhooley is not in the office he must be here, though he only came here one evening. “Where can he have got to!” Bond goes on, never thinking that this is his day off and he is entitled to be undisturbed. Then Bond starts sighing! He makes a good contribution, but what a meal he makes of it.
Later I got Michael Mortimer. He was going to ring me. Paul Gilhooley will come here tomorrow and Michael Mortimer takes him home from here – so I will be spared some of the smoke which Michael, smoking like the holes of hell himself, doesn’t mind. Trevor Phillips of CND had been on to him about a meeting. Miriam James rang up. She wants me to speak at West London Labour Committee on Ireland meeting in November. I had tackled her about the slogan “Peace through democracy” that her broad committee had adopted. She said she agreed with me, but the material had gone out. I tried to get Cathal [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] but he is on holiday in Kerry, enjoying the “sunshine”.
September 3 Tuesday: Another bad day. I had intended to go into Birkenhead to buy things, but simply went across the road. The tetragonia is still at a seedling stage. The tomatoes and marrows have not all flowered. There is no trace of a bean or a turnip, but a few lettuces have made some growth. At 6 pm. Paul Gilhooley arrived. He had got on well in Dublin and Belfast. He had called on Jimmy Stewart, who had spent five minutes on Irish affairs and 55 on the CPGB. He is suspicious of Eoin Ó Murchú who, he says, is coming to Britain to tour round on a “fact-finding mission” – he gets the suspicion, I imagine, from Tom Redmond and Dermot Nolan. Later Michael Mortimer came and indeed it was midnight before they left. Paul Gilhooley could of course stay here but he smokes like a chimney and is better with Michael Mortimer who is nearly as bad. He had good words for Tony Coughlan, Eddie Cowman and others.
September 4 Wednesday: I met Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer with Paul Gilhooley at Waterloo Station and we drove to Blackpool to the TUC. They seem to have gone security mad. I had got press tickets for Paul Gilhooley and myself, but though I tried several people, including George Davies, I could not get a visitor’s ticket for Michael Mortimer or Joe O’Grady, who did trojan work handing out copies of the “Irish Democrat” but were not allowed in. I had a talk with George Smith and he told me of the CIA attempt to take over the NCCL. It was that twisty bitch Patricia Hewitt who brought Gartin in [It is not clear from the original handwriting if this name is correct]. She was the one who mysteriously lost the Connolly Association address when conferences were being called and was in my opinion supported by that contemptible little egotist Irene Brennan. When Gartin met the E.C. he made no mention of the Labour or Trade Union movement. George Smith tackled him and got no satisfaction. Gartin began to show increasing arrogance. But one day the girl who was opening the mail found a letter from an E.C. member in Hereford saying how much he applauded Gartin’s proposal to weed out any left-wing members of the staff. He called a staff meeting, and they tackled Gartin who went white as a sheet, took the letter and conveniently lost it before the E.C. could see it. Gartin was responsible for the position taken against the miners. Ron Todd called in George Smith, who told him he was not responsible for the anti-union, pro-scab report that was issued. They said that the TGWU would withdraw £7,000, and the AUEW £5,000. At this stage Gartin began the campaign to get rid of George Smith and on one occasion told him to get out of the office. The TGWU said if Smith was sacked they would ask for money back that had been paid, inter alia, to employ Smith as liaison officer. When withdrawal of funds was threatened seriously and the E.C. discussed it, Gartin told them he didn’t give a button, as he was arranging the funding of the NCCL by certain “American trusts”. And it was about this time he contacted the Tory “wets”. The Annual Conference came. He had already changed the rules in favour of individual members and was getting his cronies in. He thought he would win, but the affiliates turned up in force. He lost and was dismissed.
I had a talk with Tony Donaghey [a longstanding CA member who was prominent in the railwaymen’s Union, the NUR, later the RMT, of which he became President in due course] who was there for an NUR meeting, and also Michael McGahey [ie. a leading figure in the National Union of Mineworkers and a member of the CPGB] who is tired, unwell and drinking too much. He has not had a holiday for two years. I thought he was “not speaking” to me, and maybe he wasnot, but people said he is beginning to be disillusioned with the Martin Jacques bunch and wondering whether to refuse to be used any longer. I did not advert to this, for I had a talk with George Davies, who thinks the CP is finished and that if Tom Durkin etc. do not make a quick breakaway, the “Morning Star”, which has lost 3000 circulation in these months, will be gone and there will be nothing. But it is all very well for him to talk. What about institutions like the Movement for Colonial Freedom or the London Cooperative Society? I am afraid, however, he is right about the prospects of the CP. Paul Gilhooley says he has not paid his subscriptions for 3 months and is technically lapsed, but I advised him against precipitation. We returned to Liverpool in the early evening. There was little chance of seeing the leaders as there was meeting after meeting on the subject of the AUEW. I asked Mick McGahey why they were going to split the TUC on this issue, and he said to win a “point of principle”. But where are the principles of Messrs Jacques and Myant? For I guess he has been told what to say by them. He didn’t seem too confident himself! Tony Donaghey realised that I was trying to repair possible broken bridges with McGahey (though we never had a dispute) and brought over some whiskey. I heard on the midnight news that the TUC chiefs have worked out a compromise. They are good at it and it would be a pity if their talents fell short on this occasion. I asked Mick McGahey what he thought of Scargill. He said, “a fucking opportunist”.
September 5 Thursday: The day dawned windy and overcast, and very cold. the sun came out later, but there was an icy North-West wind – quite exceptionally cold for the first week of September. The crabs are only now beginning to ripen. Some more marrows are flowering, but I think this year’s crops are a “write off”. A letter from Kay Beauchamp came sending a book for review and agreeing to my proposal about bringing people from Ireland. Paul Gilhooley had plunged into some hasty notion of bringing over a delegation; the thing was cooked up by the London Committee, who are Fergus Nicholson supporters not thought of much by George Davies! The wars between shades of the left are nothing but cataclysmic, or should I say apocalyptic. Joe Deighan phoned.
September 6 Friday: Today the weather was dry and sunny, but with a very cold North-West wind. I cycled into Birkenhead in the afternoon and it was just tolerable. I seem to be developing a cold – and no wonder. I wrote some letters. A letter from Bernard O’Connell tells me that he and Goulding are to persist in their nonsense – they are inviting Sean Redmond’s organisation to come to Birmingham, but inviting “a representative from the North of Ireland” to come as well. This will be either Unionist or Sinn Fein, and they implicitly accept Partition by taking this decision, though they have “informed” Sean Redmond.
September 7 Saturday: It was cloudy today, cool but not so cold. I went into Birkenhead looking for the “New Statesman”. Yesterday WH Smiths told me it was late and had not arrived. Today I was told it was sold out. I insisted on seeing the manager. He said they only ordered ten copies and that owing to the issue containing an article on nuclear war, there had been such a telephone demand that it was not put on the stand. Possibly the demand was from MI5! I rang Michael Mortimer. He is a subscriber and got his. Barney Morgan seems to be away. A letter came from Wilf Charles.
September 8 Sunday: Again cloudy and drizzly. Lack of sunshine is the feature of this year. There was little to be seen for today.
September 9 Monday: I wrote about 14 letters, mostly in connection with the “Irish Democrat”. It was damp but quite warm, indeed one of the few days of this miserable summer which reached the high sixties. There are marrows forming and tiny runner beans, but no tomatoes, turnips, tetragonia or physalis.
September 10 Tuesday: The weather was quite reasonable and at long long last I got an hour or two in the garden on the first wilderness.
September 11 Wednesday: I received a letter from the Registry of Companies to the effect that if the 1983 and 1984 accounts were not deposited within 28 days they would sue me. Not the slightest sign has come from Pat O’Donohue that anything was behind hand! I sent it on to Fishers [ie. The Connolly Publications accountants] after wording a suitable reply and also wrote to Pat O’Donohue. Today was the best day of the year – low seventies – and working in the garden I experienced a novel sensation – perspiration! But according to the radio it will not last. Possibly not, but I think the spell will be broken and we might have a few mild and sunny periods. It Has been cold for about two months. A letter came from Joe Deighan.
September 12 Thursday: The day began magnificently – even better than yesterday – but at lunchtime there was cirrus in the West and by tea-time it was raining – but not for long. I hazard the guess that the cold spell is over and there will be other sunny spells. I’ve a sporting chance for the holiday. I spent both morning and afternoon in the garden, the first day this year. Are other things beginning to take up? Is it believable? A miracle – a break! Jane Tate tells me that Gasters [ie. the solicitors concerned] now think we may get £15,000 from Bill Hardy’s legacy, and that the GLC funding has once more become a possibility. But she complains of Pat Bond’s constant interference and absurd tantrums. This is what he is like – It must have been on Monday I was speaking to Jane. Bond wanted to speak to me. Had I enough songs for the song page? [Pat Bond had for years been responsible for providing songs for the song-page of the “Irish Democrat”, a feature that was popular with many buyers of the paper]. Now I decided that his appalling amateur efforts at layout must end. So instead of leaving him to choose the songs, I asked him to send me a selection from which I could choose a number, and possibly find design or decorations. I said I could do with some more, whereupon he threw a martyr fit and said how difficult it was. I explained my reasons. More whinging: I “hadn’t used the ones he sent.” The blithering idiot thinks that if he sends something that occupies a hundred column inches, I can get it into sixty without cutting by sheer magic. Anyway the whining went on till in the end, losing my own patience for once, I hung up on him and said, “Don’t bother your arse.” He had asked me did I want any more and I said I did! Jane Tate sympathised. Either he was offering something or he was not. I wrote to Mairin Johnston [ie. the former wife of Roy Johnston in Dublin, whom he had known for many years] and asked her to supply songs in the future and prepared to take the job on myself – which I could do while Pat Bond was beating his breast. However, today he rang up and said he was sending some more! I remember when we were printing by means of lino he proposed what amounted to folding metal! And he refuses to learnhow the job is in fact done. There was a letter from Cathal and a call from Flann Campbell.
September 13 Friday: Today was cool again, but sunny and not too bad. Kay Beauchamp wrote suggesting cutting a paragraph out of a review I did for her and said she enclosed a copy of my review. She did not, so I rang Liberation, then herself. She was far from forthcoming, so I guessed she had a political reason for the cut and insisted on getting the copy. The reason she has never come to anything is that she cannot rise above twopenny bureaucracy. The paragraph she wants to cut is the one that blames the British Government for Partition. “Liberation” likes to “hear both sides” and Newens is a rat [ie. Stan Newens MP was a leading figure in Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom].
September 14 Saturday: The cold weather is back – not quite as bad as it was, but bad enough. Nothing will grow. The runner beans are little over an inch long, the marrows about 3″. It looks as if I will have to leave them if I want to go away on time. I started on the paper.
September 15 Sunday: Cooler again – I doubt if it makes 60’F. Some vandals – boys who climb on the wall I guess – destroyed half my runner beans and threw the poles across the garden. It could be done from the wall. I had a word with TW [presumably one of his neighbours regarding this incident], and spoke to Jane Tate. Later Tony Coughlan rang. They think Paul Gilhooley’s mother will hardly last the month. It is a rotten pity, just when the young fellow starts a job into which he is putting so much. Tony Coughlan hopes to see him tomorrow and will then come here.
September 16 Monday: In the evening Tony Coughlan appeared. He had spent the morning with Paul Gilhooley [ie. in London]. As he had been in France he had no news.
September 17 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan left for Dublin in the morning and I went on with the paper, which is half finished.
September 18 Wednesday: I spoke to Jane Tate and Pat Bond – who is in a good mood. Now why? I guess because Paul Gilhooley is not in. Maybe this is wrong. But I will see. Apparently Paul’s mother is in and out of hospital. As I guessed, they count her prospects in months. But the father leaves it all to Paul – he “has to go to work”. The son’s work doesn’t matter. He gets paid for time off.
The young IBRG man, King, rang from Manchester wanting me to go to Leeds, and I said I would. There are lectures on Ireland starting up everywhere, but never once do I hear a word of recognition of the Connolly Association’s pioneering role. Tony Coughlan rang up asking if he left his reading spectacles here. I could not find them. He rang again at 11 pm., but I still had found no trace. The weather is mild again. Yesterday there was cumulo-stratus. Today was cloudy, but warm. I have beans 2 1/2 inches long!
September 19 Thursday: A mild morning, then rain, a cool afternoon and at sunset a magnificent “Cheshire sky”. I finished the paper. There was an interesting personal letter from Brian Farrington, and Paul Gilhooley was on the phone. Joe O’Grady told me that Michael Mortimer was probably not going to London after all – though he told me on Sunday he was. Apparently he has lost his lecturing job and is unemployed again. “I hope he doesn’t get demoralised again and go boozing,” said Joe. Apparently the colleges give no long-term contracts and do not notify people when contracts cease. This is how John Morton is fixed [ie. one of the two sons of his friend Professor Alan Morton in Edinburgh]. A deplorable system.
September 20 Friday: A dry day, but cool and cloudy. The marrows hardly grew, though the runner beans are lengthening a bit. There is no warmth this year. The reply about the Company came from Fishers. Apparently they sent the accounts to 244 Grays Inn Road in May 1984. This was just before Noel Gordon’s first collapse, when he was putting off the conference for bogus reasons. I suppose he lost it. I decided to move fast. I postponed Ripley from Monday to Tuesday. I rang Fishers and made an appointment for Monday, and then rang Jane Tate to arrange to stay in London till Monday.
I had some talk with Jane. She has ascertained that we should get some £15,000 from the Hardy legacy. And the GLC man is coming into the office on Monday. So we have a respite, though Paul Gilhooley spends money like water. Jane Tate was complaining of Pat Bond. The South London branch is in ruins. They don’t care what way it is run as long as Pat Bond isn’t in it! Jane says Pat Bond is for ever interfering and complains to Paul Gilhooley that she is “dilatory” over the GLC offer, which she has managed to perfection and told him to keep out of. “He’s going to have another stroke,” she says, “You can see it coming. And his manners are vile. His temper impossible.” And of course all the wonderful young females he was offering jobs in the bookshop to (without permission) have left London or are having babies. “It’s a tragedy,” says Jane, “after all the years of sterling work he put in.” She keeps telling Paul Gilhooley (when he complains) that Pat Bond is not his boss and that he is responsible in the first place to me. Of course I only had that put in his contract to protect him from Pat Bond. And of course it is no use saying anything to Bond. You could tell him nothing.
September 21 Saturday (London): I went to London for an E.C. [ie. the Connolly Association Executive Committee meeting, usually held every few months]. Those present included Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Jane Tate, Mairin Dillane, Siobhan O’Neill, Pat O’Donohue, Michael Crowe and Paul Gilhooley. One of the discussions was that of South London. I thought the general behaviour of those concerned was second class. It was clear that all Mairin Dillane wanted to do was to get rid of Pat Bond. Then nobody will press them to sell the “Irish Democrat”. Siobhan O’Neill feels compunction about this. The notion is that there should be a South-East and a South-West London Branch – Pat Bond running the latter though he lives in South-East. I asked him if he could run a South-West branch when he lives in the South-East. He replied that it would “have to be put on ice”.
So the miserable, contemptible, flabby, bamboozling rubbish try to fool us that what is in fact the dismissal of Pat Bond is an expansion. Into the bargain I’m sure that Bond will take no notice of it and go on as before. To make matters worse, nobody asked any questions apart from myself (anything would do!) and Paul Gilhooley revealed the strong opportunistic streak in his character by congratulating Pat Bond on his “principled” behaviour. What principle?
Indeed I began to see Paul as the anticipated “handful” more than I bargained for. He proposed that he should stand for the E.C. of CND, which he had a 50% chance of being elected to on the grounds that at worst he could run on a platform of Irish neutrality. I objected. He said all he would have to do was attend a quarterly meeting. Peter Mulligan read out the conditions: to work on a sub-committee as well. In other words he had tried to deceive us. He took this very badly. Then he wanted to attend the “New Worker” conference – it was of course the speech he was going to make that attracted him. It has always been our policy to keep away from CP or NCP conferences. Here he was pushing a new policy turn, without warning in the midst of an “organiser’s report”. We voted against it and he took this worse and cleared off without a word to anybody in a pettish rage. He is supposed to attend meetings tomorrow and Monday. I looked in his engagement book to see if the dates were down. They were not. “He’ll not come now,” I said to myself. Then I saw a scribbled “doodle”. It said, “I will never in my life be in this position again, ever.” So I had the picture of this dashing young fellow collecting positions and getting himself known as an organiser of the Connolly Association and then moving on to a better-paid English appointment that will start off a good career. Well, we know what we have got and can do business. I stayed the night with Chris Sullivan and Pegeen O’Flaherty [ie. Mrs Sullivan]. Chris Sullivan says apropos of Chater/McLennan that he is “neutral”. But I doubt if you can be. Today was fine and warm in London.
September 22 Sunday: I attended a meeting in the afternoon. Jane Tate, Pat Bond and Donal Kennedy were there and we discussed the “Irish Democrat”. Little came of it. As I expected, Paul Gilhooley was not there and did not ring to apologise.
September 23 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Fishers, the accountants, and had all the various forms the company has to send to Cardiff typed there and then and signed them. Apparently the 1983 accounts had been filed instead of being deposited. I have become Company Secretary and anticipate a long tussle with Pat O’Donohue – another of those grand king-pins who keep all the documents at home. I told Stella Bond that everything related to the Company [ie. Connolly Publications, the company that owned the “Irish Democrat”, of which Greaves was the principal shareholder] must come in the first place to me.
Paul Gihooley did not come in. Later Jane Tate rang him. He said he wanted to talk with me, so I waited till he came. He had a rare belly-ache. The “atmosphere” at the E.C. was deplorable (ie. he did not get his own way). He had incidentally expressed his intention of setting up a London Regional Committee separate from the Sanding Committee. Feicimid! Now he said he would work to a position where he come into the office every morning and opened the post, but left at lunch time to go and see people. A good picture of a basis on which to promote his own future. Of course there is a naiveté here. He is only 22 and quite possibly dreaming of early glory. He said, “I think I’ll make a speaker. I was told I spoke very well on Sunday. But I’ll not so easily make a writer.” “Not till you can spell,” said I. I returned to Liverpool.
September 24 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. All went well. But after an exceptionally good return journey I went down the escalator to find that as a result of a power cut the Underground was out of action. I took a taxi.
September 25 Wednesday: I rang Jane Tate. She told me that the Greater London Council man had been in and they hope to give us the full amount of our grant. This would meet Paul Gilhooley’s wages and the wages of a bookshop manager, which we could subdivide, and half-time pay for myself. This makes things brighter for the moment. But I am retrospectively concerned about Paul Gilhooley’s egotism. Jane tells me that he is objecting to Ken Keable’s singing at the “Irish Democrat” social – one guess is because he fancies himself in that capacity – and that she has expostulated indignantly [Ken Keable was a longstanding English member of the Connolly Association who played music regularly at CA social events and was a good friend of Jane Tate’s]. He also wants an extension. I recall that on Monday he spoke of recruiting to the CA three East London Trotskies who are “violently anti-Soviet”, because the attitude to the USSR is not an issue to the Connolly Association. He is thus completely opportunist, does what he feels like, and gives waffling reasons for it. On the other hand he says the meeting of the Scottish members in Edinburgh at the weekend is “villainy” directed by the supporters of Fergus Nicholson – with whom he is allied in “Liberation”! [Nicholson led a faction in the internal CP dispute]. I have developed a filthy cold though the weather is the best of the year, with day temperatures over 70 and warm nights!
September 26 Thursday: I surrounded half a bottle of whiskey last night and got up at 1 pm. Another warm day – over 70’F – but I kept an electrical fire on and mostly slept, though I wrote to Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue. Paul Gilhooley rang up. Jane Tate had told him I was going to London on Saturday. I did not make arrangements to meet him. From what I can see of the accounts, prospects are not too bad.
September 27 Friday: Sweltering today! I wonder how much longer it will go on. The cold was slightly better. The weather is marvellous and as usual I can’t get away. When I can it will be pissing! Another magnificent sunset tonight. In the evening Tony Coughlan rang up to wish me many happy returns [This was his birthday]. He is going to London on Wednesday. Pat Bond said he had taken in the returns to Fishers, who promised to despatch them on the same day. I got a few runner beans today, but there seem to be no marrows and the physalis has not flowered.
September 28 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the day and saw Stella Bond and Jane Tate in the office. Gerry Curran came in and we discussed the next issue of the “Irish Democrat”, which he is to get out. Later I saw Paul Gilhooley for a few minutes. He seemed a little less cocky. Jane said his mood was improved after last Monday, and he even asked for some instructions in a disguised way. His operations in East London today were passable but in no way came up to his very enthusiastic expectations. So perhaps we may be able to manage him. The weather is still warm and dry.
September 29 Sunday: I got some work done in the garden though I still have the remains of a cold. I cut some passable turnips and more beans, then sowed black winter radishes, more rocket and some lettuce for the winter. I am going to try to get away on Tuesday, and other things will have to wait.
September 30 Monday: I would say this was the warmest day of the fine spell, but probably the last. I had a note from Bob Wynn – Jane Tate and I had a sent him a bottle of whiskey. He seems to be better. I went into Birkenhead, but in general am getting ready to go away.
(End of Volume 34, 1 December 1984 – 30 September 1985)