Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 35, 1985-86
1 October 1985 – 30 September 1986
THEMES: A fortnight’s holiday hostelling in Wales (10.1-18) – Grant from the Greater London Council towards the “Irish Democrat” bookshop (10.18) – Advertising the November 1985 Connolly Association conference on “the Defence of the Nation State” in the “Morning Star” and “Seven Days”, the publications of the principal CPGB factions: “I thought it might be no harm if the Irish kept in touch with ‘both sides’ during this period when ‘the English can’t agree.’ They love that situation where they are the balancers.”(11.24) – The Nation State conference: “On the whole the conference was a success…I put out the idea of a recall conference and an international meeting… I think we cleared a path ahead.”(11.30) – Greaves’s attitude to the CPGB factions: “One of the ‘Straight Left’ element had asked for a statement on the Anglo-Irish thing. Their headline, already chosen, showed their fundamental imperialism for all the talk of internationalism. It is to be ‘America takes hold of Ireland.’ I said I would not write for them, though I didn’t care a hoot for any of them – the reason being that if I wrote for one faction I’d be antagonising all the others, and few are much use.”(12.3) – Seeking to revamp the Connolly Association as its General Secretary and having to deal with a youthful and inexperienced National Organiser: “I’ve got a fine effort on my hands with all these battered senescent warriors, combined with a young fellow without tradition”(12.13) – “I discussed the prospect of an international campaign for national sovereignty and stressed the importance of re-establishing the principle of internationalism.” (2.2) – Liverpool meeting to launch a Connolly Association pamphlet on the pollution and militarization of the Irish Sea: “It struck me most forcibly that the whole principle of CND is nonsense if it is based on unilateral disarmament. It would be better to leave the British ‘deterrent’ alone and concentrate on getting the Americans out. This would make them national instead of anti-national.” (2.7) – Lectures on “Insurrection in Irish history”(2.5) – Interview with Deaglán de Bréadún of the “Irish Times” while on a visit to Dublin (2.20) – House of Commons press conference and lunch with Eric Heffer MP and others to launch the pamphlet on pollution in the Irish Sea (3.6) – “I picked up Jennie Lee’s reminiscences of Aneurin Bevan among some remainders and read it…I came across him once at the Soviet Embassy. I wonder if she is still alive. What comes out is the utter incompetence of British policy makers, completely blinded by hatred of the USSR.”(3.30) – Lecturing on the Nation State to the Pearse Foundation at St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham, with Mary McAleese as chairman, and meeting economist and anti-EEC campaigner Raymond Crotty: “What I was most pleased with, apart from the fact that what I said was well received, was the contact with Fianna Fail. I threw in a suggestion that has exercised me for some time, viz. that De Valera be “reinstated in the pantheon” and mentioned a statue … it would strengthen neutralism in Fianna Fail while doing them good. There was some applause at the suggestion, especially when I compared De Valera to De Gaulle.” (4.25) – Assessment of various initiatives on the Irish question in Britain: “I met George Davies at Lime Street. His campaign among trade unionists has fallen on evil days … I said the Connolly Association might take an initiative next year. But I could not help reflecting, as I have reflected before when these loudly trumpeted initiatives are started, that if a tenth of the energy were given to the Connolly Association, that is there all the time, the object would be more easily accomplished. But he is very much the CP man and has within him all the arrogance that many of them have. Nobody but themselves can decide a political or still an ideological issue. Their committee has decided it and that is that.” (4.30) – “I never saw the Connolly Association in such a state. On the other hand, we never had anything like so much money.” (5.3) – Speaks at Chartist leader Bronterre O’Brien commemoration in Islington, London, where he has a friendly meeting with Gery Lawless (6.22) – Liverpool CA Branch expedition to Haslingden, Lancs., to see places connected with Michael Davitt (6.29) – “I have been thinking about 1989, bicentenary of the French Revolution they would like to forget. It might be possible to get an international commemoration arousing the right forces.” (7.6) – Inventing a new food recipe (7.28) – Speculation on nuclear energy and a comment on Mozart’s “Requiem” (8.26) –Planning meetings in support of the wrongfully imprisoned Birmingham Six (9.4-5) – Revising John Boyd’s pamphlet on the EEC (8.25) – Regular vegetable gardening at his home in Prenton, Birkenhead, and the assiduous gardener’s concern with the weather (passim)
Index to Volume 35: 1 October 1985 – 30 September 1986
[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 35 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: 8.3, 8.24, 8.26,9.14
Assessments of others:10.5, 11.9, 11.16, 11.20, 12.15, 12.31, 2.8, 3.23,
6.12, 8.21, 9.24
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 11.9, 11.14, 11.21,
Campaigning in Britain in defence of the Nation State: 11.7,11.10-12,
11.18,11.23, 11.30,1.5, 1.12, 2.2, 2.7, 3.10, 5.4, 5.31, 7.10, 9.16
Campaigning on European supranational integration/the EEC:1.16, 3.11, 3.15,
5.31, 7.10, 7.22, 7.25, 7.28, 8.24
Holidays/cycle tours: 10.1-18, 6.11-18, 9.24-30
Meteorology, interest in: 12.29, 2.26, 8.23
Self-assessments and personal plans: 10.27, 11.2, 12.15-16, 12.18, 3.31, 5.7,
Organisation Names Index
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: 2.7
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 10.24, 10.26-27,11.1, 11.9,11.18,
11.22, 1.23-24, 3.28, 4.12, 4.27, 4.30, 6.8, 7.22, 8.18
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI):11.6, 1.17, 2.20, 2.22
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 10.18,10.25-27,11.4,11.7,11.15,
11.19, 11.30, 12.1, 12.13, 12.15, 12.18, 4.30, 5.3, 5.10-11, 5.17,
6.7, 7.12, 8.5, 8.24
Federation of Irish Societies: 12.29
Greater London Council: 10.18, 10.25,11.5, 12.6
Irish in Britain Representation Group (IBRG): 11.9
Irish Labour History Society: 1.16
Irish Labour Party: 4.25
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 2.20, 78.12
Labour Committee on Ireland: 4.11, 4.18, 6.8, 7.26
Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom: 3.27, 4.13, 7.26
New Communist Party: 1.23, 4.30, 6.8
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Officials”(Sinn Fein the Workers Party/“Stickies”): 3.26
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Provisionals”: 10.26-27
Straight Left: 12.3, 12.14
Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence (TUIUI): 12.21
Personal Names Index
Alexander, Bill:10.26-27,6.3, 6.10
Anderson, Brian: 7.10
Askins, Jack: 1.23, 3.12
Arnot, R. Page: 5.13, 5.19, 5.24, 6.3-5, 6.10
Asmal, Kader: 11.7,11.12
Beauchamp, Kay: 11.30
Bellamy, Ron and Joan: 4.4, 5.29, 5.31
Beaumont, Sean: 6.2
Benn, Tony: 3.11, 7.26
Bennett, Erna: 11.30, 12.1
Bennett, Helen: 10.26, 8.23
Bennett, Jack and Anna: 10.26
Bevan, Aneurin, MP: 3.30
Blevins, John: 10.18, 11.20
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 10.1, 10.29,11.1, 11.9, 11.13, 11.15, 11.19,
11.27,12.6, 12.14-15, 12.18, 12.21, 12.31, 1.2, 1.16, 2.5, 2.25,
Bond, Stella: 8.21
Boyd, John: 3.11, 3.15, 4.4, 5.31, 7.22, 7.28, 8.24-25, 9.9
Bree, Declan: 4.2, 4.11
Brennan, Irene: 3.26, 4.29
Brennan, Stephen: 2.5, 3.11
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 10.26, 3.23, 5.9, 8.1
Carnduff, Thomas: 3.13
Charles, Wilf: 8.4, 8.26
Chater, Tony: 11.22, 3.7, 7.22
Clinton, Mark: 4.12
Cole, Roger: 12.21
Connolly, James: 3.11, 8.8, 8.12
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 11.1, 11.12, 11.16, 11.24-26, 11.30, 12.21,
1.5-6, 1.12, 2.1, 2.17, 2.19-21, 2.25, 3.10, 3.25, 3.26-27, 4.4, 4.11,
4.18, 4.24-25, 5.12, 5.17, 5.30-31, 6.3, 7.9-10, 7.28
Cowman, Eddie: 2.20, 7.10, 8.11
Crotty, Raymond: 4.25
Crowe, Michael: 11.30, 1.26
Cunningham, Charlie: 10.19, 10.27, 2.3, 8.31
Curran, Gerard: 8.11, 8.13, 8.21
Curran, Toni: 11.7
Davies, George: 3.11, 4.5, 4.12, 4.30, 6.8, 7.2, 7.18, 8.29
De Bréadún, Deaglán: 2.20, 2.24, 2.27
Deighan, Joseph: 2.27, 3.1, 4.25, 8.4
De Valera, Eamon: 4.25
Devine, Francis: 6.5
Devine, Gloria (later Finlay): 12.20
Doherty, Pat: 11.30
Donaghey, Tony: 11.30, 2.22, 4.5, 4.18,5.5, 6.21
Donnelly, Charlie: 9.19
Doyle, Bob: 5.10
Dubs, Alfred, MP: 10.23
Durkin, Tom: 11.1, 11.30
Dutt, R. Palme: 12.20, 4.8, 5.17
Edwards, Mrs “Bobby”: 4.25
Foot, Michael: 3.6
FitzGerald, Garret, TD: 8.23
Flynn, Philip: 5.23
Freeman, John: 5.23, 7.18
Fyrth, Jim: 12.11
Gallacher, Willie: 5.17
Gibson, John and Veronica: 12.30
Gilbert, Tony: 11.1
Gill, Ken: 1.16, 1.21, 1.29, 6.10
Gilhooley, Paul: 10.1, 10.24, 10.28, 11.1, 11.4, 11.6, 11.9, 11.14-15, 11.20-
21, 11.23, 12.5-6, 12.18, 12.31, 1.10-11, 1.31, 2.1, 2.9, 3.5 4.13,
4.22, 4.27, 4.29, 5.3-4, 5.17, 5.24, 8.13, 8.15, 8.18, 8.20-21, 8.27,
9.7, 9.9, 9.12
Gilmore, George: 8.25
Glackin, Eddie: 4.2, 4.11-12
Gordon, Noel: 12.20
Haldane, JBS: 6.4
Hardy, Bill: 5.28
Harkin, Nora: 4.26
Harris, Noel: 1.16, 1.19, 1.29, 8.26
Healey, Denis, MP: 3.6
Heffer, Eric, MP: 10.23, 3.6
Heussaff, Alan and Brid: 2.13, 4.2
Hickman, Mary: 12.17
Higgins, Michael D.,TD: 8.18
Jacques, Martin: 12.14, 5.29
James, Miriam: 10.27, 1.11
Jamison, Joe: 1.16, 1.21, 1.29-31, 2.1-2, 3.11, 8.8, 8.12
Johnston, Mairin: 2.19
Johnston, Roy: 11.1, 5.17
Keable, Ken: 6.5
Keating, Justin: 12.12, 8.23, 9.16
Kinnock, Neil, MP: 3.6, 5.5
Klugmann, James: 8.18
Lawless, Gery: 6.22
Leishman, Jock: 10.27
Livingstone, Ken, MP: 11.20
McAleese, Mary: 4.25
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónall: 12.20
McCarthy, Charlie: 9.11
McCarthy, Muriel: 9.11
McClelland, Mary: 10.18, 12.14-15
McGurk, John: 2.16
McLaughlin, Eamon: 11.30, 3.13
McLennan, Gordon: 3.28, 4.12, 6.10
MacLiam, Bebhinn (Nic Liam): 4.25, 4.27, 8.28, 9.4
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 11.29, 1.5, 5.21
MacLiam, Conor: 4.27
MacLiam, Egon: 3.22
MacLiam, Finula: 3.22
MacLiam, Killian: 4.25
Maguire, Chris: 3.13, 6.3, 6.21-22
Marin, Prof. Yvette: 7.16, 7.18
Markievicz, Countess: 7.16
Matthews, George: 5.29
Moffatt, Bernard: 2.7
Morgan, Barney: 11.13, 11.21
Morrissey, Michael: 10.24, 1.11
Mortimer, Jim: 1.29
Mortimer, Michael: 11.16, 12.7
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 11.16. 6.5, 7.8, 8.19, 9.17
Morton, Alisoun:11.16. 6.5
Moynihan, Noel: 7.10
Mozart, Wolfgang. A.: 8.26
Mulligan, Peter: 11.13, 9.18
Mullin, Chris: 9.3, 9.8
Myant, Chris: 3.26, 4.29
Nevin, Donal: 8.26
Nolan, Dermot: 11.13, 11.15, 2.19
Nolan, Sean: 4.25
O’Brien, Bronterre: 3.13, 6.22
Ó Caollai, Maolachlann: 4.25
O’Donnell, Peadar: 2.1, 2.20, 4.26, 5.12-14
O’Donohue, Pat: 10.28, 11.9, 11.15, 1.25-26, 2.1, 3.20
Ó Glaisne, Risteárd: 2.20, 4.25-26
O’Grady, Joe:11.15, 5.6
Ó Loingsigh, Micheál and Eibhlín: 2.19-20
Ó Murchú, Eoin: 2.11, 2.20, 7.10
Ó’Neill, Siobhan:1.11, 2.5
O’Reilly, Gerald: 4.2, 8.25
O’Riordan, Michael: 4.26, 7.10
O’Shea, Dr Elisabeth,“Betty”: 10.27
O’Shea, Fred: 6.22
O’Toole, Bill: 6.20
Pollitt, Harry: 5.12
Power, Colm: 8.23, 9.16
Prescott, Dave: 5.12
Ramelson, Bert: 5.29
Redmond, Sean: 4.5, 4.18, 4.25, 7.10, 7.18
Redmond, Tom: 4.18, 7.10
Rendle, Philip: 2.22, 6.28
Roberts, Ernie: 6.22, 7.26
Rothstein, Andrew: 5.29, 6.3
Ryan, Frank: 10.26-27
Saidlear, Muriel: 2.19, 3.25, 3.27, 4.24-26, 5.13-14, 7.9
Scargill, Arthur: 11.15, 6.10
Shanahan, Gerry: 7.10
Shields, Jimmy: 9.26
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 5.12
Stewart, Jimmy:11.6, 12.14, 1.30, 2.3, 3.24, 4.25
Stowell, Brian: 2.7, 3.9, 4.15, 5.10
Stoddart, Lord, of Swindon: 3.11
Strattan, George: 2.7
Sullivan, Chris: 3.23-24
Tate, Jane: 10.24, 10.28, 1.11, 4.13, 5.13, 5.24, 8.21, 8.27, 9.23
Trask, Roger: 11.20, 11.22-23, 1.31
Tunney, Jim, TD: 4.25
Walsh, Tom: 12.29, 4.5
Ward, Bert: 4.27, 4.29
Weaver, Michael: 3.1
Williams, Sir Robin: 3.11
Woddis, Jack: 4.29
Wynn, Bob: 1.25
October 1 Tuesday: A very warm pleasant day, but what happened on it was not so powerful. I went to Rock Ferry to book a ticket to Llanwrtyd and found that there is a limitation on the transport of bicycles to Chester following the underground extension to Hooton. I decided to go on a late train and stay with Mrs Allen. I was on the telephone to London. Pat Bond sounded sulky, Paul Gilhooley a bit too amiable [Paul Gilhooley was the recently appointed Connolly Association full-time national organiser; Pat Bond was a longstanding CA member, recently retired and helping regularly in the CA office-cum-bookshop at 244 Grays Inn Road, down from Kings Cross Station in North London].
October 2 Wednesday (Llanwrtyd, Wales): Of course the good weather broke today. I took the 1 o’clock train. It started to rain when I was at Craven Arms and was pouring at Llanwrtyd. I might have taken the train contretemps as “Cauneas” [ie. Latin for “beware”]. When I called at Plas Newydd the young fellow told me they are closed for the winter. But Mrs Allen recognised me, so I stayed.
October 3 Thursday (Dolgoch): It rained all night and till midday. I had lunch, then set off for Dolgoch [Youth Hostel in mid-Wales, in the Southern part of Snowdonia National Park]. There were two regular army soldiers on leave there, I had to show one of them how to use a tin opener! De Roe’s “mushroom shed” he intends to live in is almost complete [De Roe was the Dolgoch hostel warden]. But now the YHA [ie. Youth Hostel Association] are building an extension so he won’t need it. He has wasted his money, but maybe has more than he lets on. The builder was asking him for £1,500 in cash, which he won’t pay till the job is finished. There is one able builder, a bricklayer by trade, and three gypsies who have settled down in Bweth and are still pretty wild. I wondered if the YHA are trying to end their dependence on De Roe. Williams the grocer is selling up.
October 4 Friday: De Roe paid the builders their £1,533 – cash from his own account which he will never recover from the YHA. The young gypsies are employed as labourers to roll stones into new positions. They put them in all the wrong places and De Roe is furious. One of them is only 15 and should be at school but hates it. A mother and son from Devon arrived. De Roe said it was pitiful – the mother’s boy aged about 19 or 20. I was not sure it was not the boy’s mother who won’t let him out of her sight. She said not a word to anybody but himself. They wanted to stay in the same room – the little one – but I had it. Will Lewis has injured himself in a tractor accident. In the afternoon a parson’s son aged 55 came in to tell De Roe he was going to be married. He had been an army parachutist, reaching the rank of major. We asked if he was not afraid to jump out of planes. ” I was,” he said, “very afraid of it. But not so afraid as I was of the sergeant major in the back seat.”
October 5 Saturday: The mother and son – she in her forties – decided to walk to Blaencaron, himself announcing a preference for the “highest and hardest” route. So off they set. De Roe told me two regions [ie. of the YHA] were bankrupt, Eastern and Merseyside, the latter through maladministration. The builders are in their second job now, laughing as they put windows in a stone bothy. Mathews will send a picture of this to the whizz-kids in St. Athan’s and show the progress. De Roe showed me a letter of complaint, not without justification, though the element of malice was apparent. Mathews wrote telling him to keep his cats out of the place, but he does not take a scrap of notice and thinks himself badly treated. I think I can detect the onset of senility. His critics want the installation of a “younger man with more imagination”. But of course it is only a crank who would do the job. Nobody came.
October 6 Sunday: It rained heavily – very heavily – from morning till night. “If anything will cure the boy’s mother, this will,” said I. But the two of them arrived at 4 pm., changed into clothes they had in their car, and drove off without a word, the young fellow swearing he would be back with a party (and herself) in six weeks’ time.
October 7 Monday (Blaencaron): I left for Blaencaron and was drenched in a heavy, prolonged shower on the bare moorland of Y Gamallt. Mrs Jones was bandaged up with an ugly skin disease, like a very serious eczema, that affected her fingers and wrists. The hotel had been beautified, but on the basis of city gadgetry, which will not work in the country. The path to the toilet and the gate had been covered with stone, loose and hard to walk on. The gas fire would not light. Anyway, I got an electric fire from the farm. A young man from Hobart was there. He had bought an errand boy’s bicycle in Liverpool and was pushing this tank round Wales. He had done a week’s jail for participating in the conservation action that Bellamy cashed in on [Presumably CPGB economist Ron Bellamy]. He was not obviously Trotsky but was reading Solzhenitsyn. He was a zoology student, had done chemistry, but asked me if caesium was the lightest of the alkali metals! Education today! Mrs Jones was not too sympathetic to De Roe. Everybody who came said he was getting careless and cranky. “And he is all right up there!’ – No rent, free fuel, wearing government surplus clothes and drawing a pension.”
October 8 Tuesday: The young fellow set of for Cardigan. It was raining by midday. I went into Tregaron for lunch. Mrs Jones’s doctor said she had caught a disease common among sheep. “But I haven’t handled sheep for six weeks.” “That’s the incubation period.” She and her husband are old enough to retire but are working the farm until the youngest son, now 22, can take over. The eldest son has 50 acres left him by an uncle and has 200 ewes. Williams, retiring from the shop, has bought a house for £60,000. “A very nice house – and a very nice price.” They have saved no hay this year.
A young motorcyclist came. He had been on “voluntary service” in Nepal, his father a farmer, himself a kind of super shepherd. He also had had Mrs Jones’s virus disease – an infectious dermatitis. Young Marianne came with her brother to mend the gas fire. She is 18. The three of them went off for a drink, and the shepherd told me afterwards of my doing her physics paper for her, after which she got top marks! He is going to Llangeitho to see a farm based on the organic system. He says the language spoken in Nepal is Indo-European. He is from Norfolk and says Hunstanton has the stress on the penultimate, but Wymondham is Wyndham.
October 9 Wednesday: A miserable, dark, cloudy, damp, cold day, though not actually raining. I found a slow puncture and bought a new tyre. But I could not get a spanner in Tregaron.
October 10 Thursday (Aberystwyth): I decided to go to Aberystwyth and took the 2.40 bus. There I got a good spanner and other things. A New Zealand girl was there.
October 11 Friday: I found the puncture and its cause almost immediately, replaced the tyre and mended the old tube. A much smaller job than I feared. Today was fine and sunny. The wee girl is a Labour supporter.
October 12 Saturday (Tregaron): I scalded my wrist and found there was no TCP in Tregaron. But while I was having a drink the pain suddenly eased so I decided not to go to Lampeter, which I had thought might be necessary. The president of the South Wales YHA called and I told him of the difficulties of drying clothes. He promised to turn a shed into a drying room with a fan heater. That will be grand until they get their first electricity bill! A young cyclist from Reading came and we played chess. But he could not give me a decent game. He works at Heathrow and dislikes it. He had worked for five years in agriculture but suffered from dermatitis and had to give up. He blamed hay and straw. I wondered about pesticides. A car driver came who spoke to nobody.
October 13 Sunday (Dolgoch): The Reading went walking. I went to Dolgoch. The weather was dry and warm – certainly in the high sixties at 1500 feet. A “hippy” aged about 35 had parked his motorcaravan at the bridge. There seemed to be no wife, but there were three children, all [phrase indecipherable], the two little girls – perhaps 4 or 5 years old – modestly presenting their diminutive backsides to the road as I went past, while the boy, perhaps 8 or 9, leapt from rock to rock as if Adam had never sinned. Two cyclists came, a Manchester man from Anglesey – Llanfechain of all places – and a Derby man the spit of Terry Reynolds, but younger [Reynolds worked in Ripley Printers, where the “Irish Democrat” was printed]. De Roe told me that the gypsies had crashed their car and building operations were halted. The elder boy was hurt, the others not too badly.
October 14 Monday: There was frost in the morning. The two cyclists started off but came back to put on long trousers. Later it became as warm as yesterday and I walked up the Tywi valley. It must have reached 70’F but was cold again when the sun went down. Nobody came.
October 15 Tuesday (Blaencaron): It was cloudy – cool though not cold. I went back to Blaencaron. Two cockneys came, rather middle class. One was on the committee of the Southern YHA. His wife was quite a pleasant little woman. There was also a disabled Australian in a motorcycle and sidecar.
October 16 Wednesday: The cockneys set out for Dolgoch promising to visit Strata Florida on the way. The Australian stank the place out with his home-made cigarettes. All day the mist slowly crept down from the mountains. I had lunch in Tregaron. Nobody came.
October 17 Thursday (Dolgoch): It started cold and drizzly but on the strength of a weather forecast I delayed till after lunch and made Dolgoch in easy weather, though the cloud-base was 1,500 ft. Nobody came. There is no question De Roe is getting more eccentric. Last night the cockneys came, arriving at 9 pm. He was in bed already. They prowled round and found the door. He barricades it every night. Since the murder in the adjoining valley the police have told him to let nobody in after dark. But of course they could force a way in. On this occasion the woman drew hysterical, swore she was a life member etc. Finally he let them in. The “hippies” were still at the bridge.
October 18 Friday (Liverpool): I left Dolgoch at 11.5, reached Llanwrtyd at 1.15, had lunch and caught the train, which was late. However the connection was good and I was at 124 Mount Road by 7.30. A letter from Jane Tate said the Greater London Council had awarded us £29,000 [ie. towards the Connolly Association bookshop]. Mary McClelland’s letter said BIevins was now features editor of the “Morning Star” and wanted a contribution from myself [Mary McClelland was a CP organiser in Liverpool, which Blevins had also been].
October 19 Saturday: Joe O’Grady’s sister rang to say he is in hospital with diabetes. I rang Michael Mortimer who promised to go and see him [Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer were leading members of the Liverpool Connolly Association branch]. I rang London. Charlie Cunningham was in the shop, Paul Gilhooley out with Gerry Curran having a drink.
October 20 Sunday: I rang Mary McClelland. Later Gerry Curran rang; the paper is finished.
October 21 Monday: I had lunch with Michael Mortimer. He says Michael Kelly is looking after the social evening next Monday. Joe O’Grady will hardly be there. I also spoke to Jane Tate.
October 22 Tuesday: I wrote to Barney Morgan and others. Bernard O’Connell has postponed his Birmingham conference.
October 23 Wednesday: Paul Gilhooley told me that Dubs [ie. Alfred Dubs, Labour MP for Battersea South] has agreed to speak at our conference. In the afternoon Eric Heffer rang to tell me about Joe O’Grady [Eric Heffer was Labour MP for Liverpool Walton. Joe O’Grady, who was active in the Connolly Association, was one of Heffer’s key helpers].
October 24 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I went to London and discussed finance with Jane Tate. Pat Bond was there – more equable than usual, and Paul Gilhooley. All seems on an even keel. Paul told me that the split in the CP has really taken place, this campaign committee being the basis of the breakaway [presumably the Communist Campaign Group, which organised one of the internal CPGB factions]. He told me that his feeling was not to belong to any of the succession organisations. I feel much the same way myself. We rang BIevins but could not get him. Later three CPs from Belfast came in, including Michael Morrissey [Belfast academic and son of long-time CPI member Sean Morrissey]. He told me he was 38! Incredible! Then I returned to 124 Mount Road.
October 25 Friday: The dry warm weather (cold at night) continues. I worked out a schedule to meet our improved finances. So we did get a break after all, and we look like being nearly £45,000 better off. Tony Coughlan rang in the morning. I told him I was hardly likely to get to Dublin in November. Miriam James wants me talking to the GLC on the 20th, and Paul Gilhooley has booked me for the 5th. I wrote to Fishers [ie. the Connolly Publications accountants]. I suspect that neither Noel Gordon nor Pat O’Donohue notified them of our change of address.
October 26 Saturday (London): I went to London on the 5 pm. train and went straight to “The Cock”, where Paul Gilhooley had organised a social evening to celebrate the 500th issue of the “Irish Democrat”. Who should be there but Jack Bennett and Anna Bennett [old friends of Greaves’s from Belfast]. They were in London to visit Helen [ie. their daughter]. They said that the CP paper, “Seven Days”, was woeful and “would last two weeks”. Maybe, on its merits, but there is money to burn. I am told a number of legacies have fuelled the coffers, apart from reserves. They thought the “Morning Star” was home and dry. (I wonder!) Also the CP had asked them if they would print “Seven Days”. If they really did (and it shows unexpected wisdom if they did) then things get “curiouser and curiouser.” Miriam James was there. She told Flann Campbell, who was there, that Frank Ryan’s name had been left off the list of Irish people who fought in Spain, and that Gerry McLaughlin (the Sinn Fein agent) had tackled Bill Alexander who said, “Frank Ryan was a Fascist.” I told them I would go and see the memorial on the South Bank and also ask Bill Alexander if this were true. I greatly doubt it, for Alexander is an excellent man. Michael Crowe was there, and Charlie Cunningham.
Also present was Joe O’Farrell, Tadhg Egan, Connie Seifert and a number of young people. I stayed overnight with Flann Campbell and Mary.
October 27 Sunday: I went to the South Bank with Jane Tate and Michael Crowe and satisfied myself that the inscription on the memorial did not exclude Frank Ryan. And who should be there but Bill Alexander. So I asked him what was behind the story. He said the pamphlet they published listed those who died in the war, not those who were wounded, or died as a result of it. But he reminded me that in his book he had expressed his highest regard for Frank Ryan, and of course he made no statement of any kind to McLaughlin or anybody else. So the Republicans are still not above a bit of “mixing the pudding”. My bold Betty O’Shea, now Máire, has been at it. Paul Gilhooley (who did not appear today) had telephoned describing her attack on the Connolly Association in “Labour and Ireland”. I spoke to Miriam James about it. She said the article had annoyed other people and there would be a reply. I decided it was only nonsense and that there was no point in replying. But nonsense is a straw in the wind and I watch these when Anglo-Irish negotiations reach their denouement.
At Trafalgar Square I saw Jock Leishman and his wife. He is 85 but hale and hearty [Jock Leishman was a Scot who lived in Birmingham, where he and his wife Chris were strong supporters of the Connolly Association]. He left the CP two months ago.
Apropos of that the two MacLaughlin boys were there, twins, very similar, David open and mischievous, the other as mischievous, but close and negative. “I’ll tell you what they are,” says Charlie Cunningham, “They’re baiters.” I told them that not having heard more of their invitation to me to speak to their CP branch on the National Question, I had accepted Miriam
James’s, to speak at the Terence MacSwiney commemoration. The one whose name I forget was visibly annoyed. David gave the game away, “We want to know what you really think,” he declared – they were going to have some fun at my expense. I thought I could manage the probable situation and offered them another date.
This evening I gave a talk on ancient Ireland that was very badly attended – about 15. People said they had no notice. Paul Gilhooley was there, also Flann Campbell and Charlie Cunningham, and Pádraig Ó Conchúir took the chair. Later Mary Campbell recounted her experience with Dan Breen, who was married in a field by a priest with a gun in his belt.
October 28 Monday (Liverpool): I returned on the 2.30 train after a talk with Jane Tate about finance. Pat O’Donohue had tackled me about the Hardy legacy. I told him to see Jane, but today I learned he had not. He had tackled Pat Bond. And Jane does not get on too well with any of them. There were ructions between her and Paul Gilhooley last week. Of course Pat O’Donohue and Pat Bond have only two stops – diapason or falsetto. I hope to get a more rational approach to finance in the wake of the GLC thing. But it may not be easy.
I went to the Connolly Association party at the Irish Centre [ie. in Liverpool]. It was reasonably well attended and I think a few pounds – possibly £80? – may have been made. Joe O’Grady is out of hospital but was not well enough to be present. Barney Morgan was in great form, and Michael Kelly, Michael Mortimer, Pat Doherty and his son Barry were there, also Mary McClelland and David Jones of the Labour Committee on Ireland. And Barney Morgan’s two children were both present, and a number of students. All the musicians gave their services free, which was a political achievement.
October 29 Tuesday: The mild dry weather continues. It is hard to say what it’s “for”. We all hope for a mild wet winter, but not for a normal one. I had a word with Pat Bond, Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley in the day. Paul told me his mother is deteriorating rapidly. I told Pat Bond to treat him gently. He will do so as far as he can but has limited control of himself.
October 30 Wednesday: I went to see Joe O’Grady at his home in Walton. He told me of how his disease came on him, following a trip to Dublin [He suffered from diabetes]. Eric Heffer had told me he would not have to inject himself, but he told me he would, which I had expected. I had previously spoken to Michael Mortimer, who said we took £150 on the door. But Joe O’Grady thought that insufficient as the catering had cost £80. Apart from that there was little done. The day was broken up.
October 31 Thursday: Rain at last – and cooler. November almost to the day. I cut the one solitary small marrow I had this year and a handful of runner beans. Jane Tate had been twice to negotiate with the GLC and had learned quite a lot. Pat O’Donohue answered ungraciously when she telephoned him. We have been telling them the books were at the auditors. Now we learn Pat O’Donohue has not handed them in.
November 1 Friday (London/Liverpool): Almost to the day “November” came in – damp and chilly, with no hangover of summer. I took the 9.30 to London and found Pat Bond, Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley in the office. Jane had had some difficulty in persuading Pat O’Donohue to come to the meeting on Tuesday. I see from the minutes that he was asked to provide me with a copy of the resolution appointing Pat Bond as director. He has not done so. I discussed the conference with Paul Gilhooley. In the middle of it Pat Bond and Jane Tate wanted to send off Paul to pick up a ladder for painting the shop. I prevented it. But this is how they treat Paul Gilhooley as an office boy. I think he was pleased I stopped it. A painter came in and he got the ladder.
A new complication was revealed. We have to put down Pat Bond as bookshop manager. The GLC rejected my proposal to start payment on October 1st but are prepared to back-date Pat Bond’s salary till April 1st. But, he now reveals, he has been drawing unemployment benefit, though will not do so after October 1st. Jane Tate was talking about paying it. But will this get him another spell on benefit later? I am also anxious to simplify the absurdly complicated relations between the Connolly Association and “Irish Democrat” funds. I anticipate resistance. I will reply with persistence.
I think Paul Gilhooley is learning. He is not a bad lad, and far from stupid. He expressed the opinion to me that Tony Gilbert was not very bright – an opinion in which I concur. “You have to tell him four times before you can get him to understand.” He had had a “set to” with Tom Durkin who began to lecture him like a grandfather, and he commented about Durkin’s “ego”. But he likes to excel! He is anxious to play me at chess and says, “I’ve been doing a bit of study in preparation.” “You’d think it was Kasparov you were going to play,” said I. He has been reading Bowyer Bell’s illiterate book [ie. his book on the IRA, “The Secret Army”], but it has consequently dawned on him that Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston and others are people who have left a mark on history. A young fellow of the Fergus Nicholson camp came in [Nicholson led one of the factions in the CPGB internal dispute at the time], but he was very discreet. He says Tom Durkin and the “Bolsheviks” have split already and consequently the CP cannot be won over and Nicholson has nowhere to go. He says if it all breaks up he will join none of them, and (I infer) trade with all of them. I returned on the 7.25 pm., now designated a “Pullman”, with six empty first-class coaches with waiters standing uniformed by each and a small overcrowded second-class bar.
November 2 Saturday: I did some work on the pollution pamphlet which has all fallen back on me [ie. a CA pamphlet on the pollution and militarization of the Irish Sea. It was concerned, amongst other things, with discharges from the Sellafield nuclear power station that might threaten Dublin – this being a significant issue at the time]. Nobody is capable of anything. Michael Mortimer was going to have it set. All that fell through, and in any case severe editing is required. That’s the problem – lack of people of ability.
November 3 Sunday: The first frost of the autumn affected the marrows and I cut the few dying courgettes, and a bare handful of green tomatoes. The frost was slight. Tropaeolums were unaffected. I went on with the pollution job. The day was mild enough.
November 4 Monday: There was another touch of frost this morning. I went into Birkenhead to buy things, later going on with the pollution conference report. Jane Tate rang at 6 pm. – people always seem to ring me at mealtimes – and told me she had done further calculations and Pat O’Donohue seemed to be reasonably co-operative. There is no question Noel Gordon’s defection tore the heart out of the organisation. Only the very old and the very young are left. At the same time Pat Bond’s isolation from South London and the aftermath of Toni Curran’s marital collapse have left the branch structure in ruins. I have urged Paul Gilhooley to try to find fresh growing points.
November 5 Tuesday (London): I took the midday train to London. We held a Finance Sub-committee at 6 pm. – CDG, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue and Paul Gilhooley. I stressed the immense amount of work Jane has put into getting the grant from the GLC. Paul Gilhooley told me that the “Green Ink”, whose shop has not opened because of builder’s delays, had been saying that Pat Bond had told publishers not to send them any books because they had no premises. It is a sign of Paul’s immaturity that he had not talked to Pat Bond about this. I did so and received the expected rejoinder that it was a damned lie. We can expect a campaign of slander when the competition begins in earnest. But I suspect it is they, not we, who have missed the bus. I found both Pat O’Donohue and Pat Bond more reasonable than I had feared and attribute it in part to the largesse that will be distributed, the GLC having said that we must name the recipients of salaries and that they must receive it.
Later I gave a talk in Willesden Library – Pat Bond brought books, and about 20 people turned up, including the librarian. On the way back Bond said that the Green Ink slanderer was the wife of a “Brolacháin” who has written a somewhat degenerate short novel in Irish. I did not know he was connected with Green Ink, and it seems that he, Noel Gordon, Paul Gilhooley and one other, were boon drinking companions during the time Noel Gordon was most demoralised – another piece of the jigsaw.
November 6 Wednesday (Liverpool): Jane Tate and I went to the accountants and had a long discussion, which included proposals for a possible financial restructuring. Later I met Paul Gilhooley who was saying – as he has said to Jane Tate – that the man who has replaced Sean Nolan in the Dublin bookshop [ie. the CPI bookshop] said that none of the Connolly Association people who went home joined the CPI. The man obviously did not know, had never heard of Tom Redmond, the Mooneys, Peter O’Connor, Jim MacDonald, Jim Andrews and a lot more. But in any case what’s that to do with us? Paul Gilhooley has a bit of a taste for CP tittle-tattle. A Leitrim woman who manned the bookshop while Pat Bond went out commented to me, “That young fellow hasn’t a clue.” He’s not as bad as that, but I can see what she meant. He is still living in the CPGB. Incidentally I suspect the CPI is in for stormy weather. Jimmy Stewart should have been in Dublin a year ago [He was supposed to move there from Belfast as a leading CPI official]. Now there is talk of him going there soon. I doubt he will fit in, and I could imagine people lining up for or against. I returned to Liverpool on the 5.55 pm.
November 7 Thursday: Kader Asmal [South African lecturer in law at Trinity College Dublin and leading Anti-Apartheid activist] wrote saying he cannot speak at the conference [This was the planned Connolly Association conference on “The Defence of the Nation State”]. Some group of Trotskyites is trying to hi-jack the Anti-Apartheid movement. It is a pity, but it will save money. I wrote to a man at Goldsmiths’ College who wants a lecture, to Bob Wynn about Toni Curran’s share in Connolly Publications, and sent an agenda for Saturday to Jane Tate. I went into Birkenhead for stationery but began to sniffle and snuffle and develop the symptoms of a cold. A damned nuisance.
November 8 Friday: I sent off the pollution pamphlet to Ripley, but I am terribly behind with everything else. I have done next to nothing on the conference paper. I am not too hopeful for it. Perhaps I can get Sunday in on it.
November 9 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I took the 9.30 to Euston and went to the office. Gerry Curran was there and I had lunch with him. Paul Gilhooley and Pat Bond were there too, and Jane Tate and Sean Burke – I am always uncertain of his name. After the meeting started Pat O’Donohue arrived. The atmosphere was of course sweetened by the prospect of a £40,000 boost in our financial resources. Pat Bond has no idea and is getting worse. He gave one of his absurd pep talks about “people getting off their arse” and supporting the bookshop, selling calendars etc. I told him that everyone present could tell everybody else present what to “get off their arse” for. But they were all fully committed. I suggested he get together a committee to run the bookshop. I doubt if he will, though there are among the helpers two women with more bookshop experience than he has. He is a total individualist. People can help him by doing what he wants, but they must not restrict his right to do what he chooses. He opens and replies to letters addressed to the Connolly Association, even to me personally. I see them days, even weeks, afterwards. He does not even inform Paul Gilhooley, who should handle them. At the slightest criticism he exclaims “suffering Indians” or “yellow piss-cats!” and groans, “I’m fed up.” He is like men are supposed to be when they are over seventy, unable to see anybody’s point of view but their own. South London will not tolerate him because he “makes them feel embarrassed” by asking them to sell the papers. Any intelligent person would study means of adapting his approach to make it easy for them. But when somebody agrees to sell them with him, he decides where to go, he disappears to talk with this one or that, and because he is known, he sells all the papers. It would not enter his head to introduce his companion to customers and let him do some selling. So they go out to watch Pat Bond selling, and he is only interested in himself. And yet the whole thing is set in a framework of displays of martyrdom. He alone works properly. All others are derelicts.
Of course we had the selling issue with Paul Gilhooley, who seems to see everything through the eyes of a non-existent CP, and Pat O’Donohue had a dispute with him over a Central London decision to support some absurd group connected with Camden Trades Council – a breakaway from the IBRG [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group], which is, he said, reduced to 300 members nationally. I was favourably impressed with Pat O’Donohue. This must be the first time he argued a political case. As we went out I asked him what he thought of Paul Gilhooley and was surprised again. “I’m not sure,” he said, “I’m not sure that he has the confidence in the CA to persuade people to join. He has not absorbed its tradition.” Now this is absolutely true. Also I think he is not quite so jumpy, now he is more articulate. I have plans regarding the financial structure and provided he cannot become a financial Pat Bond – which he could, or at least I long feared so – he could be an important figure in it.
According to Paul Gilhooley, Noel Gordon called in for a talk, which was a good sign. He at least did a little with the paper. Doris Daly, the Leitrim woman who helps Pat Bond and said Paul Gilhooley hadn’t a clue, had something. But he has active cluelessness while Noel Gordon’s was passive. But if they put their clues together, what? I caught the 7.25 back, and travelled up with an extremely knowledgeable man of about forty, with a confident air. He was a Londoner living in Liverpool but travelling for his leave in Norfolk – this clearly I connect with him being a purchaser in the RAF. The ground opinion in this county is not wholly reactionary, and the trouble is that the “Left” gazes at its own navel.
A thing that Paul Gilhooley told me is that the CPGB has “disbanded” the Haringey branch of which he is a member. They will be calling a meeting to discuss it. They seem hell-bent on destruction.
November 10 Sunday: It has turned cold. There must have been a slight frost last night, as the runner beans are looking bedraggled. I collected about 1 lb. of beans however, not excessively tender but not too bad. I did some work on the paper on the Nation State. Otherwise nothing much.
November 11 Monday: I spent most of the day on the “paper” and articles for the “Morning Star”. I seem to be losing a lot of time through dozing in the day. Whether this is from sitting in front of an anthracite fire, going to bed too late and being awakened by the light, not taking as much wine before retiring as I did, or the encroachment of old age, I couldn’t say. However there it is, I felt sleepy after lunch and lost an hour!
November 12 Tuesday: I finished the “Morning Star” article, though I doubt they will publish it. I had a word with Tony Coughlan, who is annoyed at Asmal’s pulling out from our conference. He thinks the Trotsky takeover a scare. I also worked on the paper. But at 9.30 the front room light fused. I put some timber at the back of the music room fireplace, spread some soft coal on the firebars, and taking the unburnt lumps off, brought two shovels of red-hot anthracite in – a risky practice only to be attempted in an emergency. Rather to my surprise the fire was a success.
November 13 Wednesday: I spoke to Pat Bond in the morning. He told me Paul Gilhooley was out with influenza. It doesn’t seem to take much to bowl these young people over – certainly not when they smoke like chimneys. What was worse, he said Michael Mortimer had rung him to ask him to ask for confirmation that he had to collect Dermot Nolan from the boat on Saturday [Dermot Nolan was active in the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) at the time].Last Saturday Paul Gilhooley had told me that Michael Mortimer was to drive both Dermot Nolan and myself to Sheffield for this “fringe meeting” Paul Gilhooley organised at the CND conference. This was my first intimation that Michael Mortimer was not going. I rang him and he confirmed it. I rang Dermot Nolan, who came back later to the effect that he was travelling via Holyhead on Friday. I decided not to go. There is no fun in arriving at Lime Street at 12.24 am. and maybe waiting an hour for a taxi and pay £10 for it! I was not too pleased, however, that Paul Gilhooley had not informed me of the change.
The branch meeting was tonight [ie. the meeting of the Liverpool branch of the Connolly Association]. Eccles, the caretaker of the AUEW, died since our last meeting and there is a big jovial fellow in his place that called us all “comrades”. Ripley sent me a quotation for the pollution pamphlet, and it was agreed to accept it, but we need to raise a few hundred pounds. Joe O’Grady – looking quite sprightly – was giving out about Pat Bond, that incorrigible egotist. He had arranged for Peter Mulligan to bring in a couple of hundred Christmas cards for sale in Liverpool [For years Peter Mulligan, who ran the Northampton CA branch, produced a wide variety of political cards for sale on a home printing press]. This was on Saturday. Unfortunately he gave them to Pat Bond, who kept 150 and gave 50 to bring down to Joe O’Grady. There was a poor attendance. The speaker, David Jones of the Labour Committee on Ireland, did not turn up. Also Barney Morgan missed his second meeting in succession. I noticed his diminishing interest. He resembles Pat Bond in the desire to do only what interests him and puts him in a special position. The Halloween party was not the success of last year’s, and this was noticeably that Barney Morgan did not put himself out. But at least he is positive and good-tempered.
November 14 Thursday: The cold weather has collapsed and it rained. This is a point in favour of a mild winter, an early but brief cold snap. Paul Gilhooley telephoned. He said Michael Mortimer had rung during the Standing Committee last Saturday, but he had forgotten to pass the news on to me. He admitted the failure. But now the Sheffield Trades Council had decided to move their meeting with Scargill to our slot, agreed with CND, he was talking about fusing the meetings or cancelling ours [Arthur Scargill was leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, then in a major dispute with Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative Government]. It will be a salutary experience for him to learn that the English Labour movement is English first and would never have the slightest hesitation over cancelling an Irish meeting, whereas anything else – especially if in the public eye – would be sacrosanct.
November 15 Friday: I rang London to speak to Paul Gilhooley. He was out. He had gone to CND to get something connected with Sheffield. Pat Bond did not say what. But he took it upon himself to say, “I’m told you’re not going to Sheffield” – as if there could be the slightest reason I should! The stupid ass. Then he said the “situation was confused.” When I asked in what respect, he replied that it was no use blaming him. I asked him why, whenever anybody made a comment to him, he started defending himself. I said it was getting pathological. “Oh! This bloody place!” he ejaculated. I grant his hard work, but his political influence is disastrous. The South Londons won’t speak to him, and it is no wonder.
Later Paul Gilhooley rang me back and I learned he was going to Sheffield today. Why? To attend the conference. He has arranged for Dermot Nolan to speak on the same platform as Scargill. He has trumpeted this as a “minor coup”. I asked what the Connolly Association got out of it. Apparently we might get a mention. I suspect Paul is feeding the CND constituency with a view to his future career. We told him he must not become a member of their E.C. I shall check the list.
Later Jimmy McGill rang from Manchester and said Harry Allen had died in the Orkney islands. Apparently Brian Farrington [Academic and CA member, author of a CA pamphlet on W.B. Yeats, “Malachi-Stilt-Jack”] went there twice a year and met him. He will send me some material for publication. Joe O’Grady rang and offered to underwrite the cost of the pollution pamphlet, which is very good of him. Then Jane Tate rang. She also could not understand what Paul Gilhooley was going to Sheffield for. Apparently Pat Bond gave him the fare. A situation similar to that when Noel Gordon was there seems to be building up. Pat Bond used to tolerate, if not encourage, all the weaker aspects of Noel Gordon’s character, so as to draw approval to himself. She tells me Bond will be handing his unwanted salary to the Connolly Association and thinks Pat O’Donohue will not be pleased. I am having no nonsense in this. What he does with his money is his own affair, and the same goes for Jane Tate, who is also angling for moral support for something or other. Once we tangle up the organisation and the individuals we’ll have a recipe for rows going on for years. But Pat Bond’s decision is of course malicious. It is a move against Pat O’Donohue. But it’s up to him. I tried to get Michael Mortimer but he was out.
November 16 Saturday: I got Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady and we arranged to meet in the evening. I learned that Tony Coughlan is sending virtually nothing for the “Irish Democrat”. He clutters himself up and finds himself short of time. Not the only one who does it either! I decided to put the paper off a week. Jimmy McGill rang and told me Harry Allen died in the Orkneys and I told Joe Deighan. Apparently he did not know him very well. I also had a word with Alan Morton [ie. his old friend Professor A.G. Morton in Edinburgh]. John Morton has a temporary job in Herriott Watt [ie. the Edinburgh University College], but Alisoun is doing nothing. I still think Alan has not inculcated fighting spirit and has too respectable and institutional an approach. She knows Irish and Gaelic and has a degree in Celtic studies. She was thinking of working on Gaelic flower names – I suggested this to Alan – but gave up the idea when she could not get a grant from a college. While she was doing nothing else she could get ahead with, she could publish a small column in one of the papers every month, and get her name known. Something would come of it. But they’re all as soft as cheese! Michael Mortimer has plumped for a university course, of all things in Spanish-American studies! He is finding it hard to learn Spanish because he was not taught English grammar at school. I also had a word with Jane Tate. She is prepared to give Paul Gilhooley about £1,100 because she “doesn’t like talking about money to people.” I rang Barney Morgan, who has influenza, and Charlie Cunningham, who was in the bookshop.
I met Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer and we made arrangements for printing the pamphlet. Joe will underwrite the finances.
November 17 Sunday: It was mild but foggy, with colder weather forecast. There’s still no certainty of a mild winter. I didn’t get much done.
November 18 Monday: I spent most of the day on the paper for the November 30 conference[ie. the CA. conference on the Defence of the Nation State]. Jane Tate is not hopeful. Instead of going all out for it, Paul Gilhooley is capitulating to those who ask, “Why support national sovereignty?” As Pat O’Donohue astutely remarked, he is not yet convinced of it. He looks at things from a CPGB point of view. The weather is turning cold – very early. If it lasts long it will be a very bad sign. Joe O’Grady was only able to get 40 Xmas cards off Pat Bond. I rang Peter Mulligan who said Pat Bond had 500. I told this to Joe O’Grady, who said he would have a go at Bond in the morning. The 40 he gave him have sold already.
November 19 Tuesday: I finished the paper. It is not much good but will have to do! Joe O’Grady told me that Pat Bond was obdurate. He will give him no more Xmas cards. I remember Jane Tate telling me how curmudgeonly and dictatorial Pat Bond had been getting. He is getting the way he can get on with nobody. Joe O’Grady wants a resolution to the Executive Council. I don’t like starting in-fighting, but it looks as if the 25 years of peace is over. I am at a standstill otherwise. There is a postal strike that has paralysed the Liverpool area. I rang Ripley and put off publication a week. But Tony Coughlan’s stuff and Peter Mulligan’s and Gerry Curran’s are all in the post! I will have to go to Chester at the weekend!
November 20 Wednesday (London): I took the 10.55 to Euston and found Jane Tate, Pat Bond and Paul Gilhooley in the office. I found some things to my dissatisfaction. In preparing for the conference Paul had arranged with his friend Trask for the publication of an article that would help to arouse interest in the conference on the 30th. I wrote this and sent it to Trask with a covering letter saying that if it was too long he could contact me. However, instead of doing so he contacted Paul Gilhooley. When Jane Tate rang him on Sunday he said he knew nothing about it and it must have gone to Blevins, the new features editor. But the very next day he was telling Paul Gilhooley it was unsuitable and asking Paul to write another. Meanwhile Blevins complained he had not seen it. Much to Paul’s dissatisfaction, Jane Tate rang BIevins’s secretary and told him Trask had it. So Trask and Paul Gilhooley have been engaged in some unsavoury intrigue. I will never allow the young fellow to act as intermediary again.
Then again, he was to have brought books to the meeting at the Institute of Education in the evening at which I give a lecture. Miriam James, Jane Tate, Noel O’Connell and others were there – including Ken Livingstone [Labour leader of the Greater London Council at the time] whom (from my brief encounter this evening) I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw him. He is a snarling false-faced character. Anyway, Jane Tate took papers. No books arrived. I knew he was not coming. Twice when he said he’d be there he said “probably” [ie. Paul Gilhooley, who was to have brought books] . So he can’t even make up his mind to tell a decent lie. The meeting was reasonable.
November 21 Thursday (Liverpool): This morning Paul Gilhooley spent the time writing his article. All he did was to copy extracts from John Boyd’s article in the last “Irish Democrat”. I said nothing, and when he offered to show me the article I excused myself from looking at it. But protection operates when it is appreciated. Pat Bond apparently relented after Joe O’Grady had another go at him and I brought up 60 more cards, some calendars and some leaflets. It’s unfortunate I can’t be in London all the time. This youngster – whom I always knew would be a handful – is not getting proper training, though Jane Tate does her best. He is as conceited as Tony McNally and that’s saying something. But of course he’s too young for prognosis. He might shape up after a few knocks. He’s certainly shaping up to get them.
Incidentally Flann Campbell took the chair last night. I returned on the 2.30 and met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street. He says Barney Morgan is losing interest and is a total anarchist [Barney Morgan was a longstanding CA member in Liverpool]. There is truth in it. Barney likes the limelight and to do just as he pleases. On the train was a young fellow of 24, married with one child, who earns £220 a week as a do-anything builder on the lump in London. He was offered four jobs in one day and comes back to Liverpool every fortnight. He will do this till Christmas. He is not really politically educated, but entirely bitter against the Tories, and hopes the city finances collapse, as then “somebody would have to do something.” Class feeling is there in plenty!
November 22 Friday: I rang BIevins and got some information. He has still not got any article from Trask. Apparently Trask had shown it to Chater. So I guess that is where the block came. They’re trying to get circulation in Northern Ireland and have Bowers writing tomorrow. So apparently Trask then pulled the trick on Paul Gilhooley, the young fellow wanting to play politician, and he fell into the trap. I arranged for Jane Tate to send him the paper, bad though it is, whereas the article was good. I got two pages of the “Irish Democrat” done. The postal strike is still on. I have got to write practically the whole bloody thing myself and get no thanks for it either!
November 23 Saturday: I went to Lime Street to collect copies of the conference statement that Jane Tate had duplicated and sent by rail. I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. I saw the “Morning Star” and noted at the end of an article by Bowers [ie. Joe Bowers, Belfast Trade Union activist and CPI member] – sitting nicely on the fence – an advert for the Central London branch meeting on Wednesday week that is Paul Gilhooley’s baby. He will be boasting of a coup. But there is no advert for the conference on Saturday next, and I think he has deliberately ignored it. He and this fellow Trask are too matey, and the subject matter of the conference is too near the bone. It is late, but I will have to put one in myself. Noel Gordon was not organisationally to be trusted, but this young fellow is not politically to be trusted. He is the first one tainted in the English tradition and will have spent a few years in petty intrigue and chicanery. Nobody knows how a young person will turn out, but I’m not impressed with progress so far. According to Jane Tate he has been continually playing down this conference, saying people “wonder why we’re holding it” etc. Just where the influences are coming from I am not sure, but it looks very much as if he has taken a job in the Connolly Association with a view to being useful to somebody else. Feicimid!
November 24 Sunday: I rang Jane Tate who promised to insert an advert for this conference in the “Morning Star”. I also advised her to offer one to Myant’s “Seven Days” [ie. to the key organs on each side of the CPGB division]. I saw Roger O’Hara on the train and he was most affable [O’Hara had been CPGB organiser in Liverpool some time before; see earlier volumes]. I thought it might be no harm if the Irish kept in touch with “both sides” during this period when “the English can’t agree.” They love that situation when they are the balancers. The weather has taken up. It still blows from the North-East but is bright and only cool, not cold. At midday Tony Coughlan rang. He has posted material every day. None has arrived.
November 25 Monday: I had to go to Chester to post copy to Ripley, so the day was broken up. Tony Coughlan rang to confirm plans for the weekend. I did a little of the paper.
November 26 Tuesday: I finished the main lead for the paper, and despite the fact that thanks to the postal strike Tony Coughlan’s, Gerry Curran’s and Peter Mulligan’s copy is still undelivered, I’m not too badly off. Most of six pages completed.
November 27 Wednesday (London): I took the 12.30 am. train to Euston and went into the office. There was a Finance Committee meeting at 6 pm., with Pat Bond, Paul Gilhooley, Pat O’Donohue and Jane Tate, which went rather more amicably than I had expected. We are promised half of the GLC grant of £29,000, and there is also a prospect of £5000 odd from the Hardy legacy. Pat Bond was again talking of “resigning” as bookshop manager if this girl McGing wants the job. Of course I know what would happen. He’d be the woman’s manager. He’d be there all the time managing the bookshop and herself. I will try to prevent it.
November 28 Thursday (Liverpool): I stayed overnight with Jane Tate but returned to Liverpool today and went on with the paper.
November 29 Friday: I finished the paper and as the post was restored sent it off to Ripley. Just after lunch Tony Coughlan arrived. There was not much exciting news. Young Killian had been in Paris for a month, but though he is surely 18, wants neither further education nor a job[Killian MacLiam was youngest son of Cathal and Helga MacLiam, Greaves’s old friends in Dublin]. Tony Coughlan says this is all because Cathal took no interest in the children’s education but left it to Helga.
November 30 Saturday (London/Liverpool): Tony Coughlan and I caught the 9.30 to Euston and went straight to the Conway Hall [ie. for the Connolly Association conference on the Defence of the Nation State]. Pat Doherty was late because the 11 am. train was delayed by a bomb scare which Michael Mortimer took as an excuse for not coming! Noel Harris [Originally from Belfast and a founder member of the NICRA, he was now fill-time secretary of the Cinematograph Union and based in London] and John Boyd [Leading anti-EEC campaigner] were there, and also Eamon McLaughlin [a former CA General Secretary], Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Paul Gilhooley, Charlie Cunningham, indeed about 86 in all, including George Davies [A leading figure in the New Communist Party breakaway from the CPGB]. On the whole the conference was a success. Kay Beauchamp, there from “Liberation”, tried to cash into the follow-up by offering to publish John Boyd’s pamphlet [This was a pamphlet critical of the EEC which Greaves had substantially edited]. But we’ll see about that. I put out the idea of a recall conference and an international meeting. “Erna” Bennett had come from Rome and made quite a good speech [Erna Bennett, Jack Bennett’s brother, was a scientist with the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN in Rome at the time, and a member of the Italian CP]. I let Tom Durkin sum up [Tom Durkin was a leading trade unionist in the building trade and a member of Brent Trades Council].Tony Donaghey was there from the NUR and two from ACTT. Indeed there were about 60 delegates. Patsy Byrne was there from Croydon Labour Party. I think we cleared a path ahead. After the proceedings were over Tony Coughlan, Paul Gilhooley, Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Noel Harris, Michael Crowe, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Doherty went off for a meal in the Cosmoba. Joe O’Grady was not well enough to come. We returned on the 8.50 train and got through to Hamilton Square, where we took a taxi. Miriam James did not turn up, nor Flann Campbell.
December 1 Sunday: Tony Coughlan left for the 11 am. train to Hooton and Chester. He says “Erna” Bennett is travelling to Dublin on it – presumably on the way to see Jack Bennett.
In the afternoon the Liverpool branch had a meeting that was very poorly attended – only Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and two others arriving after Joe O’Grady had had empty solemn promises. Barney Morgan was there and told me that an attempt had been made by some “antis” to get the Irish Centre to ban the Connolly Association history lectures. This came up in a resolution at the AGM. It was defeated by 120 votes to about twelve!
December 2 Monday: I spent the whole day clearing up and writing letters – to Jack Bennett, Roy Johnston, Gerry Curran and others. Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley telephoned.
December 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley where all went well and I got to Derby station in good time for the 5.30. But it was 25 minutes late, and the lights kept going out all the way to Crewe. Then at Crewe the London train was an hour or more late owing to a breakdown. However, I caught the 7.20 pm. local train and was back at 124 Mount Road by 9 pm. All the same, a long day.
Late at night John Gibson rang up. One of the “Straight Left” element had asked for a statement on the Anglo-Irish thing [The Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed in November 1985, gave the Irish Government a formal consultative role in matters relating to Northern Ireland.] Their headline, already chosen, showed their fundamental imperialism for all the talk of internationalism. It is to be “America takes hold of Ireland.” I said I would not write for them, though I didn’t care a hoot for any of them – the reason being that if I wrote for one faction I’d be antagonising all the others, and few are much use.
December 4 Wednesday: For the last few days the weather has been exceptionally mild, I think occasionally approaching 60F. I have known 59F in January, but not in December before. And that was January 1982, I think. Nevertheless it is very welcome. I went into Birkenhead and bought things, did some clearing-up and wrote some letters.
December 5 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I missed the 9.30 but caught the 11.00 to Euston. I found Paul Gilhooley and Jane Tate in the office and signed some documents for the auditors. Jane expects £13,500 in the next few days. Pat Bond was there. I got the impression that last Saturday’s conference had educated Paul Gilhooley, but he doesn’t understand his job. He says “the Connolly Association is so different from Liberation.” Of course he’s only 22!
December 6 Friday: I rang London. It was fortunate I did, for Paul Gilhooley told me of his plunging into an absurd intrigue. 22 is right. It seems that the people who run the Irish Festival at Roundwood Park (who for several years refused to give us a stall and last year insisted on censoring Pat Bond’s books) have been refused £10,000 by the GLC. Pat Bond and Charlie Cunningham have been attending indignation meetings, the culmination of which is a protest meeting tomorrow. They had a social last night to which Paul Gilhooley went and now he has the bit between his teeth. It seems that silly Pat Bond, completely devoid of judgement and I think getting worse, is behind it for in the end Paul passed me over to him. I wanted to know inter aliawhy, if this had been going on for weeks, the Standing Committee was not informed, or at the very least I told yesterday. The obvious thing is for the Roundwood people to seek other sponsors, but Paul Gilhooley professes to believe that “that Trotskyist” Stephen Brennan intends to run the thing himself this year so as to preserve his empire when the GLC crashes. Paul also accused Brennan of sabotaging our application. There is not a scrap of evidence. I rang Jane Tate and she confirmed this. For my part I don’t care whether Brennan or the other crowd run it, and I told Paul in a letter that they would be better raising the cash by other means. If I’d known they were receiving a GLC grant when they censored us, I might have been tempted to let the GLC know. So it’s petitions and indignation meetings and the probability of recrimination ad nauseam. I spoke to Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer on the telephone.
December 7 Saturday: I went into town to make some purchases, then met Michael Mortimer and we spent the evening drinking.
December 8 Sunday: I did not go out. The weather seems to be turning cold again, and a fog developed. Paul Gilhooley, who promised to telephone, did not.
December 9 Monday: Again it was chilly though not freezing, and there was fog around. I posted off about eight letters and went into the city for supplies. I saw John Gibson.
December 10 Tuesday: I stayed in all day. Though the mild weather has held, I had a touch of a cold, but did some clearing up.
December 11 Wednesday: I had a letter from Jim Fyrth saying he could get hardly any reviews for his symposium and could I help [This was for the book, “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front”, published in 1985, for which Greaves had written a chapter on “Class and Nation in Ireland]. I rang Gerry Curran who told me the “Irish Democrat” had not received a review copy. He said he would ring Fyrth. He also said Paul Gilhooley had been bubbling up over the GLC affair but had probably subsided. He thought we were all wrong! Gerry of course had said the same thing as I. I did some shopping.
December 12 Thursday: I spent a good part of the morning on accounts, figuring out how to make ends meet! The general fate of the writer. Apart from that there was little, except a word with Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley, who seems to have settled down. The proofs of the pollution pamphlet arrived and I read them through. Colm Power sent a copy of the “Irish Press” which contained a report of a libel suit Justin Keating is taking against the “Sunday Tribune”[Keating was a former Irish Government Minister whom Greaves had known as a young man when he had been in the Connolly Association, together with his wife Loretta, while doing postgraduate veterinary studies in London]. He is a mealy-mouthed self-righteous specimen and looks set to get a few bob!
December 13 Friday: The mild weather seems to have stabilised. The afternoon temperature must have been close to 55F. I have felt somewhat unenergised these pasts few days, with a mild but persistent cold, but today I was rather better and got a few more things done. I got the printer’s list from Stella Bond and I would doubt if the circulation of the “Irish Democrat” is over 1,000. Noel Gordon let the sales go, Paul Gilhooley had made no attempt to recover them, and I’ve got a fine effort on my hands with all these battered senescent warriors, combined with a young fellow without tradition. I need to spend a week or so in London. I heard from Flann Campbell.
December 14 Saturday: I rang the office in the morning. Paul Gilhooley was at lunch but Pat Bond asked if I had received a letter from him. I had not – the postal service is atrocious. He told me it was about Paul’s tantrums – which he, thought I to myself, had triggered off. Apparently he was in great excitement on Tuesday about the GLC thing. Then, despite promising Pat Bond, he did not appear on Wednesday. He was “getting his brain cleared up”. “And,” says Bond. “He is very unimaginative. He doesn’t think of other people.” I chuckled inwardly, but merely said, “He’s not the only one.” “Oh,” says Bond, “You’re getting at me, are you?” “Well, the wicked flee when no man pursueth”! Later I spoke to Gerry Curran, who doesn’t think he’ll last. He is openly critical of the Connolly Association’s “method of work” and he had one or two failures – for example a meeting in Brent where nobody turned up. I am thinking of making a political démarche early in the New Year, and if he can be convinced, well and good, otherwise “qu’il nous fiche décamps”[ie. That he leave us], if that is the right expression. What I still hope is however that he is just letting out his frustration on Pat Bond, Gerry Curran etc.
In the evening I went to the “Unemployment Centre” – a Merseyside County Council thing, I think – which is really a sort of Trades Club, but public. I don’t know the exact position. There was a CPGB thing including a presentation to Mary McClelland, who is taking “early retirement”. I had told Barney Morgan and John and Veronica Gibson and they turned up. John Gibson told me that had made some attempt to pay Mary McClelland’s salary arrears. He keeps in touch with CPGB internal affairs, which I don’t bother myself with, not in their present state. He says the E.C. have still this fellow in Manchester and there is no secretary here. He says Norman Wilson is still alive and well and 90 years old. They had a party for him, but nobody was invited. They merely wanted a picture for “Seven Days”. Apparently Norman Wilson is perfectly sound, but they make use of him. I was sorry not to have heard about it, as he was a friend of Phyllis’s [ie. his sister Phyllis Greaves, who had died in 1966]. But apparently there were motives for keeping it small. According to John Gibson also, “Marxism Today” is now publishing articles arguing that socialism is impossible [“Marxism Today” was the official journal of the CPGB. Edited by Martin Jacques, it was the leading organ of the so-called “euro-communist tendency in the CP at this time] Paddy Farrington [He was son of academic and CA member Brian Farrington] is still circulation manager and is a great friend of that rat Jacques. No wonder Roy Johnston could do nothing with him [Roy Johnston had expressed the aim of trying to influence young Farrington to change his political position; see earlier volume]. Joe O’Grady came in for a few minutes from another social in the other bar.
A few days ago John Gibson rang asking if I would write an editorial for “Straight Left”. They had already decided the headline “America takes over Ireland.” I had the impression that Straight Left was one of the CPGB factions and declined, remarking that the English were still imperialist; their objection was to losing their colony to America. He laughed and promised to pass on my reply to those who had asked him to approach me. Apparently they are the Walton CP branch, a rebel branch, and wanted me to address them. I said they should write to me to but they didn’t, so I’d forgot about it. But tonight one of them was there, wearing a YCL badge though I’d give him close on 25 years of age, and he asked me to go and I assented. In the meantime John Gibson sent me a copy of “Straight Left” and I see Joan Maynard [Left-wing Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside] and Jim Layzell [Trade Union activist] are among its sponsors, and it is not too bad at all. John Gibson told me they got Jimmy Stewart to do the editorial. I asked if any of them had ever heard of Dublin. Apparently neither has Jimmy Stewart! His projected move has still not taken place [This was that he move from Belfast to Dublin as a senior official of the CPI].
December 15 Sunday: I had a word with Michael Mortimer in the morning and we decided to invite Mary McClelland to come to our dinner tomorrow. Then Stella Bond rang up. She wanted to throw away all the back numbers of the “Irish Democrat”. Apparently she and Pat Bond and two others are engaged in reorganising the office that Paul Gilhooley works in. It didn’t strike her (and of course she is herself Pat Bond’s mouthpiece) that it is Paul who works in it. I asked was he there. No. “He said he couldn’t come.”
When she pressed about the papers I refused to be bounced and told her to refer it to the committee. If she does she will get the edge of my tongue, as I’ll link it with the arrogant impertinence of altering Paul Gilhooley’s office in his absence. It’s a pity he didn’t put his foot down! Stella says, “Somebody’s got to do it.” As if that meant she and her husband can charge in any time they like. This is how that big stupid anarchist wrecks collective organisation. I have seen his type before. Their energy is incalculable, but everything is built round themselves. It would be good if I could get to London on Tuesday, but for the moment I am imprisoned here through lack of money.
The mild weather persists. I even thought of a cycle ride (I have come up to 10 stone again, and I’m wondering why. Partly maybe I have been rather cooped up.) But whether it will last is another matter. There is a high barometer, West wind and cumulo-stratus. This often happens around Xmas, and within a week it is blowing from the East!
December 16 Monday: The imprisonment ceased abruptly with £100 from Jane Tate, £520 from HMG [Her Majesty’s Government – presumably a back pension payment], and £1,432 from Pat O’Donohue. So that’s one trouble out of the way for now. The letter from Pat Bond arrived. He can “do nothing with” Paul Gihooley at personal level. Could I do it at a political level! He is never prepared to stick out on a political issue though he can be as obstinate as a mule on piddling things. I went into town, and later to the Xmas dinner Michael Mortimer had organised at the “Andino”. I had invited Mary McClelland, who came, and there were Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and his wife, Michael Mortimer and Alan Morton 2 from Ormskirk, and Barney Morgan with Alf Ward [A CA member from Oxford]. These obligingly drove me back to 124 Mount Road, where I arrived at 2.45 am.
December 17 Tuesday (London/Liverpool): So I went to London after all, arriving at about 2 pm. It was clear to me that Paul Gilhooley was having second thoughts, and in the middle of it Donal MacCraith rang up and said the “mainstream Irish organisation” that the Connolly Association should be “seen to be defending” has got itself involved in some backstairs intrigue with the Labour Party. Paul Gilhooley showed me their literature which was in my opinion antipolitical pseudo-cultural mishmash of the Mary Hickman variety. I told him there was no Connolly Association interest involved. Siobhan O’Neill and Seamus Keneally were sorry that certain Irish language activities were not to be funded in the old way, but Brennan will probably fund them in a new way [Stephen Brennan was an official with the Greater London Council and concerned with distributing cultural grants]. Paul Gilhooley had not the grace to acknowledge his mistake, but at least he discontinued it. Later I had a talk with Pat O’Donohue and invited him to assist me with an effort to place the “Irish Democrat” once more at the centre of things. Paul Gilhooley brought in a wee girl from Cumberland whom he has made secretary of a CA Haringey branch. Like himself, I am afraid she has no notion of political purpose but she will try to do a cover for the Liverpool pamphlet. But he has offered to take over the bookshop to give Pat Bond a rest. But he will not agree. The re-organisation of the office has made a great improvement, so that is to the good. I came back on the 7.25 pm.
December 18 Wednesday: I stayed in all day and got precious little done. The weather was a little cooler, but still mild. The wind went North-West and not East as I had feared. I spoke to Pat Bond. I asked him why he did not accept Paul Gilhooley’s offer of taking over the bookshop for a couple of days. He replied, “Because I do not think he’d be capable of it.” Can one imagine it! And the young fellow a graduate and quite bright. Teach him? Not a bit of it!
I had a word with Jane Tate. She says the GLC will probably be issuing a further cheque quite soon, but the payment of the first instalment will depend on a progress report to be presented in February. I received the impression that she was not pleased at this. But I was very much so. I am anxious to tighten the whole organisation up and make it more professional and Paul Gilhooley more amenable to discipline. Here is my opportunity.
December 19 Thursday: I did very little, though I went into the city to buy things for the holiday period.
December 20 Friday (London/Liverpool): I caught the early train and was in the office by 1 pm. There was no sign of Paul Gilhooley – he had gone to a “Morning Star” office party. Nor did his wonderful friend Donal McCraith show up though he is supposed to have joined. But Paul was back for Pat Bond’s party and got pretty drunk. Noel Gordon appeared and I had a talk with him. Before he came in Jane Tate led me into the back office and told me how Pat Bond and Stella in their mad zeal for “clearing out rubbish” (our vital articles) had thrown out the Camden Borough letter-heads without its entering their minds to wonder what they were there for. Ach! The stupidity of the people. Anyway she rescued some example. However I spoke Noel Gordon fair and told him not to desert us altogether. He was a trifle self-deprecating and said some words in reference to his period of organiser in which he referred to “what I did”. Now this must have been a slip, for he has been accused only of not doing, unless he refers to his first collapse. When I was talking to him he seemed agitated and kept crossing and uncrossing his legs as if he could not get into a comfortable position. At about 8 pm. he said he had only 20 minutes as he was flying to Belfast that night. But he later said he had missed his plane. We asked about Helen McMurray. Oh, all was well. He would go tomorrow. I think he had more than a drop taken.
Just before I left Stella Bond said, “There’s been another row.” Paul Gilhooley had tried to borrow money from Pat Bond to lend to Noel Gordon [ie. the former Connolly Association organiser]. Pat Bond had refused but Jane Tate gave Paul an allowance on his own salary. Apparently Paul, who was well oiled, went off in a scunder.
We had a talk with Gloria Devine [now remarried and properly Gloria Finlay]. She and her husband had inserted an advert in the “Morning Star” commemorating R. Palme Dutt. I congratulated her on this, but said I thought Finlay, her husband, was a fierce “Euro”. She told me he had reversed his views after a visit to the USSR. Dónal Mac Amhlaigh was there to autograph his new book, but the copies had not arrived. But there was a good crowd and I thought goodwill resulted. Even Hammie O’Donoghue had come in from Hammersmith [O’Donoghue had been a prominent member of the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster in the 1960s]. But Paul Gilhooley’s wonderful artist, a girl on the “Morning Star”, did not show up. Pat Bond told me she had promised a poster but it did not materialise. I returned on the 8.50.
December 21 Sunday: Roger Cole of the Irish Labour Party group for Irish Unity and Independence – a political counterpart of Sean Redmond’s thing [ie. his “Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence”] – sent me their manifesto, which is promising. He asked for comments, which I will send. I decided to have the truth about Pat Bond and Paul Gilhooley, and Pat Bond told me what happened. Paul had asked for £20 for Noel Gordon. Bond had “thrown a fit of temper” (his own words). Then they went into the office. Pat Bond was about to hand out the money when Stella Bond cried “No!” and stopped him. Then Paul Gilhooley came out with a string of oaths and bad language in which “Fuck you!” figured prominently. Finally Jane Tate lent him the money as a “sub” against his salary. And of course if I bring it up on the E.C. Pat Bond will capitulate as he did over South London. However I’m preparing the handcuffs!
There was a letter from Tony Coughlan saying he is going to Spain in January to talk about the EEC and NATO. He knows no Spanish but has been promised able translators. He was coming over before the New Year but must now put it off as anyway he has to finish a pamphlet for the Mercier Press [This was a short book on the Anglo-Irish Agreement that had been commissioned by Captain Feehan of the Mercier Press and was published in 1986 under the title, “Fooled Again?:The Anglo-Irish Agreement and After”]
Incidentally Pat Bond told me he thought the only reason Noel Gordon came yesterday was to borrow money. This supports Barney Morgan’s theory. But, says Pat Bond, if he’s not careful Paul Gilhooley is going to be the same, though somehow I think he may be more robust. By the way, Gloria Devine told me she is no longer in the CP, as she was given a questionnaire to fill in and sign and refused. John Gibson sent me a set of “Seven Days” to look through. I was not outraged by its contents, but there is not a squeak against the EEC. And there is nothing to distinguish it from, say, “Tribune”[“Tribune” was a left-wing Labour-oriented weekly].
December 22 Sunday: Another bright cold day. But now the solstice has come, and usually within a week the fine mild weather characteristic of it, may once be blown away and the three worst months begin. Pat Bond rang up, as usual at an awkward time. He asked how I had “got on” with Paul Gilhooley when I spoke to him yesterday. I told him I did not advert to his altercation, as this was between him and Paul. He didn’t like this, but it is his own trick of refusing to “take sides” played back on him.
I was thinking of another thing. Betty O’Shea [ie. Dr Elizabeth O’Shea, psychiatrist and former member of the North London branch of the CA that had been shut down in 1959] has launched another attack on the Connolly Association, more in the tone of an attempt to belittle it. The first was the Labour Committee on Ireland paper – this is in “Troops Out.” Paul Gilhooley wants to reply or deal with the questions she seems to be raising. But I have held up my hand. I can’t yet see what the game is. Is it possible she wants to get off when her case comes up, and is doing a scrap of Left-baiting, a sample for the future? She is prancing around the country thoroughly enjoying the spotlight, while several other young fellows have been in jail since last Christmas, waiting for their trial. It’s a curious business we are best out of.
December 23 Monday: I stayed in all day though the weather was bright and mild. I spoke to Stella Bond on the telephone. Apparently Jane Tate has gone into Kent to join her brother. But Paul Gilhooley had come in on his day off. He is very much the “young pup” and is now on top of the world. It seems his scunders [a slang word Greaves used for ill-tempered walkouts] do not last long! Stella told me that Paul’s talk – no doubt secured during a drinking session – to the effect that the “Green Ink” shop would now not open, was all nonsense. It has already opened! So now for the trade war. Stella said they would not survive the GLC as they lack the political commitment. I’ve never done a “trade war” before, and it should be good fun. I will feed Pat Bond with ideas for things he could get up to, a Welsh week, a Connolly week, Irish language week and so on. In the evening I heard the “Messiah”.
December 24 Tuesday: I went into Birkenhead on a chilly and misty day with a low barometer and light South-East wind, to buy enough food to take me over the annual vacuity. Tony Coughlan rang. He is going to Spain to take part in the anti-NATO campaign and is hurrying to finish his small book on the Hillsborough pact. [Coughlan had been invited by anti-NATO activists in Spain to speak in the impending referendum on NATO membership for that country, and in particular to make the point that one could be an EEC member, as Ireland was, but not in NATO.]
I listened to three Brandenburg Concerti in the evening but skipped the other three. It is absurd to play them all in a row. But the performers used “period” instruments, so it was a museum exercise. No. 5 was always my favourite and still is. It is the most “modern” or advanced, or Italianate, as you will. But I prefer a piano. There is too much buzz with these old instruments, and when you cannot see them and it all comes from a box, the result is a strain. By contrast the Messiah last night, a 1959 recording of Henry Wood, was in the style people used when it was still alive, before these wretched embalmers and taxidermists got their claws into it.
December 25 Wednesday: I did practically nothing today, except play over some games of chess, and do some cooking for the holidays ahead. Two of my meagre crop of tomatoes ripened up and were very good!
December 26 Thursday: Another day with nothing done. But the weather held up.
December 27 Friday: I started on the paper. There are weather forecasts of ice and snow. This is certainly the crucial week!
December 28 Saturday: The cold weather came. There was a hard frost. I went on with the paper – went out only to buy a few things at the shops opposite. The telephone was ringing and just rang off as I got to it. Work on the paper.
December 29 Sunday: I did some more on the paper. This morning there was a layer of ice which I thought, on examination, to be fine hail. Fortunately I’ve plenty of large anthracite of far better quality than I had before. I read the Dáil debates and saw that FitzGerald claims that the Federation of Irish Societies sent him a message of support. One presumes they get Embassy finances. This is the use of all these corruption funds. I rang Barney Morgan and he undertook to find out Tom Walsh’s opinion. Of course the Irish Centre gets Dublin finance.
The wind seems approximately North. Perhaps this exceptionally sudden cold snap will not last long. If it does not, then I would expect a predominantly mild winter. The weather map has shown a very large persistent anti-cyclone over the near polar regions. There must be an immense accumulation of very cold air, and that must stay till after the equinox. But this does not seem incompatible with long mild spells with southern winds such as we have had most of December. But it is as if it breaks out on marauding expeditions from time to time.
I rang Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer and arranged to see them tomorrow.
December 30 Monday: I went into the city and met first John Gibson who told me that Kaye, the CP organiser, had been in Liverpool addressing a much-booked meeting on the subject of “Is Marxism-Leninism relevant today?” or something to that effect. Only nine people turned up but they were firmly assured that the answer was in the negative. He wonders if he will be re-enrolled, as they regard him as beyond the pale.
After that I met Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer. As usual Barney Morgan could not attend. We made a number of plans. Paul Gilhooley’s wee girl has turned nothing in, and we decided if nothing looks like arriving this week, we will do our own design. As Michael Mortimer remarked, the Irish Sea is only a couple of miles away and if we went down to photograph it, he has a couple of canisters we could throw in to show the pollution. I’ve corrected the proofs several weeks ago. Then we decided on a public meeting and a branch meeting. Michael Mortimer and I then had a meal at the Cypriot. I had a slight nose-bleed, so came back in a taxi. I seem to have had a snuffling, sneezing cold for weeks.
December 31 Tuesday: I tried to get Paul Gilhooley about the cover design. Pat Bond told me that though he had promised to come in he had just not appeared and had not had the grace to communicate. This is the trick he played on Barney Morgan. Now if he shows the slightest inclination to give up the job, go he must, the day he shows the inclination. We were too soft with Noel Gordon. She says, moreover, that Pat Bond had not been asked to lend Noel Gordon money, but to lend it to Paul Gilhooley. He should merely have said, “Ask Jane.” Instead he threw his absurd fit of temper and caused the ructions. Possibly Paul now wishes to keep out of Pat Bond’s way! They all are such kids! My hope is to work out a political perspective that will, so to speak, enclose them, keep them on its rails. Bond said he would ring Noel Gordon and try to find out the position.
January 1 Wednesday: I did little today except get on with work on the paper. I had a word with Tony Coughlan in the evening. He is coming on Sunday on his way to Spain.
January 2 Thursday: I finished the paper and posted off all but an odd column that can go tomorrow. Again I tried to get Paul Gilhooley and he had not come in. It is getting like Noel Gordon. Pat Bond and Jane Tate were in and Bond became an adult again. “Something will have to be done about that young man!” Of course it will. If they give in now as they gave in to Noel Gordon, history will repeat itself. I hope I may do something with the political initiative next Saturday. But perhaps I will have to make Jane Tate or Pat Bond office manager. Jane is much more mature. But I was surprised at Bond today. He had seen “Marxism Today”. “A reactionary paper!” he said, “There’s not a word of Marxism in it.” He seldom shows the slightest interest in politics.
January 3 Friday: I went into town to buy things. The weather has turned cold again, though not so bad as it was just before Christmas.
January 4 Saturday: I stayed in all day. Paul Gilhooley rang. He has apparently shown up at last and sounds as usual on top of the world. Anyway, he says his wee girl has done a cover for our pamphlet.
January 5 Sunday: Tony Coughlan arrived at about 4 pm. and Michael Mortimer at 7. So we had a meal and some drinks. I discussed with Tony some of the ideas I thought might re-establish the initiative of the Connolly Association and could even do much more – the centre being the international campaign in favour of national sovereignty. We were entirely at one, and he gave me details of the movement in Ireland. It seems that Cathal [ie. his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam]has grown an immense beard and hides behind is as a symbol of great age. He has a few strikes on his hands, but apart from that keeps his activity to the minimum.
January 6 Monday: Joe O’Grady rang in the day. He has booked the AUEW for the 22nd and the Unemployed for February 7th. I spoke to Jean Emery. She has Promethium 137 in her paper and as I didn’t know what Promethium was, so presumed it was transuranic. However, I later rang up Finnerty who looked it up for me. When I was in chemistry it was Illinium, but it seems the Illinois discovery was not substantial. So the proofs we considered correct. Tony Coughlan left for Spain. He caught the 8 am. from Lime Street, the 2.30 from Victoria, and a couchette from Paris to Madrid at 10.30 – that is, if all went well. He has written a 30,000-word diatribe against FitzGerald for the Mercier Press [This was the book “Fooled Again? The Anglo-Irish Agreement and After”, Mercier Press, 1986]. He thinks this is the time for us to approach Haughey, as what is on the cards is an attack on Fianna Fail.
January 7 Tuesday: A shocking journey to Ripley, though the paper went well. There was a sprinkling of snow as near in as Mosley Hill and for the rest of the way there was a 1/2″ cover. I took a taxi from Derby and was able to leave at about 4 pm. But snow fell before I was half-way to Derby, and I had to wait 20 minutes for a bus to the station. Mercifully I caught the 5.30 pm. by three minutes. But ten minutes out there was a points failure and a half hour wait. That meant the connection at Crewe was missed. I took a chance and had a quick bite to eat while waiting for the fast 8.10. This was only 15 minutes late, but there was another points failure in the Liverpool cutting. It was 10 pm. when we arrived. But again I was late and caught an underground train at once, despite police warning passengers of delays. At Hamilton Square there was a blizzard and a long wait for a bus, 20 minutes late. It came at last. At Grange Road three young fellows got on. Obviously they had been drinking. Two of them ran upstairs, leaving the third to pay the fare. As he was doing it a burly policeman grabbed him from behind and pulled him off the bus. The two upstairs noted he did not join them, came down to look for him and then got off at Central Station and ran back. What then ensued is guesswork. The driver of the bus took no notice whatsoever.
January 8 Wednesday: I did not go out. The snow was 6″ deep and wet. I cut a passage to the anthracite shed, brought plenty in and lit a good fire. I did a little clearing up.
January 9 Thursday: I did some more clearing up. Then at 7.30 pm. the young fellow from the Walton CP arrived and drove me to his branch meeting, where I gave them a talk. The man’s name was Kevin Nelson, but I got no opportunity to ask about possible Irish background, though it can be safely assumed in Liverpool. On the whole the journey was worthwhile.
January 10 Friday: I had had Paul Gilhooley writing an organiser’s report, and all seven pages, atrociously spelled, arrived this morning. It is the work of a young pup! And there is not a political element in it from first to last. It is vague where it should be precise, and precise where it should be vague. But at least it is there. The beginning should of course have been the decisions of the E.C. and how they were carried out. I don’t believe this would occur to him. Youth plus conceit make a shocking cocktail. The question is, is he too conceited to learn? Also I think he is unduly influenced by Philip Rendle. He looks too much to English inspirations.
Today was windy and relatively mild. Yesterday I woke up to the shocking sight of 6″ of snow. This morning it had gone, but for the remains of one or two drifts. So one expects on the whole that the winter will be mild. Joe O’Grady rang up to say he will not be well enough to go to London tomorrow. I had a word also with John Gibson.
January 11 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London to the E.C. and young Paul Gilhooley showed his colours once more. He is developing a talent for intrigue. He rang up a day ago to say that he was holding a discussion with Philip Rendle with a view to “fleshing out” some of my written proposals. In other words a two-man caucus. However, this was prevented by Rendle ringing up to say he had a cold and could not come. I drafted an agenda. We dealt with past minutes. Paul said he had attended Miriam James’s committee “irregularly” [ie. the Labour Committee on Ireland]. I don’t believe he has attended one. But the next thing was a huge pile of correspondence. This included an invitation from Jimmy Stewart for Paul Gilhooley to attend the CP conference as an “observer”. This was obviously cooked up at Xmas time. Later he produced a letter addressed to me, and “delivered by hand this morning,” which I had not been shown, and proceeded to read out. It contained Siobhan O’Neill’s resignation. But it also contained things that he would know, but she would not. “Did you discuss this letter with Siobhan before she sent it?” I asked. He admitted he had. So he had cooked this up too. It was of course about his absurd plunge into the anti-Brennan campaign and this is his way of paying us back for trying to control him. At 4 pm. we were still on correspondence and Flann Campbell asked if we were ever to talk about our own organisation. Another thing he had cooked up was an invitation from the Ulster Labour College to send a deputation. This would be from Michael Morrissey when he was over. I objected that Morrissey was behind this college. “He’s nothing to do with it,” said Paul – and then Peter Mulligan spotted his name on the prospectus. “We’ll have to watch that young fellow,” said Jane Tate. We will. I very early on suspected that he regards the CA as a launching pad for his own career. All his perspectives relate to other organisations. But he told us a startling thing. Noel Gordon is being paid £9,500 a year teaching electricity to apprentices – I think it is the inner London Council. Michael Crowe is going to France for five months. He knows Brennan who was in Newcastle and thinks he is Sinn Fein. Charlie Cunningham says the anti-Brennan thing is promoted by the SDP [Social Democratic Party, a breakaway from the Labour Party], one of whose members Pat Bond, blind to politics as usual, has working in the bookshop. Charlie Cunningham thinks this woman has probably influenced Siobhan O’Neill, who accuses me of having blocked their initiative after a discussion with Miriam James. I came back on the 7.25.
January 12 Sunday: About midday Tony Coughlan rang up. He was tired of travelling and decided to break his journey here. He arrived at about 8 pm. after quite a successful tour of Spain. He said that the Spaniards are politically backward, see NATO as a menace, but think the EEC represents “democracy”. This is surely part of the penalty the socialist movement is paying internationally for neglecting the nation. He also says Spanish national consciousness is not fully developed; the provincials regard their own provinces as their country, and of course the provinces have not got sovereignty.
January 13 Monday: Tony Coughlan set off in the morning. At 5 pm. Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady and I met at Lime Street. I had the proofs of the pamphlet. We decided on our next stage.
January 14 Tuesday: I did a certain amount of clearing up, otherwise not much.
January 15 Wednesday: Again not much. I went into Birkenhead to post letters, including the corrected proofs of the pamphlet. Michael Mortimer rang up. He had a letter from Jean Emery. In her paper she referred to an isotope Promethium 137. This seemed wrong. My very out-of-date “Handbook of Physics and Chemistry” had no “Promethium”. It might possibly be a transuranic element. I asked her if the atomic weight was really 237. She assured me that it was not a transuranic element but knew no more. Finally I rang Finnerty, head of the chemistry department at the Polytechnic and he looked it up for me. It was No. 61, recorded in my book as “Illinium”. I thought 137 a rather low figure but left it. Now she writes to me at Michael Mortimer’s address saying I was right in suspecting a misprint. It is 147.
January 16 Thursday: I rang Ripley and got 137 changed to 147 and wrote a few letters. The Irish Labour History Society has asked me to speak at their conference, but it is during my holiday period, so I declined. I had a phone call on Tuesday from Joe Jamison who is coming to London, so I rang Noel Harris with a view to a talk with Ken Gill [Joe Jamison was the leading activist in the Irish-American Labour Coalition and a campaigner for the MacBride Principles in the USA]. I may have to go to London specially. Joe Jamison is going to Dublin first and is staying with Tony Coughlan, whom he rang the same day. Tony had had adventures. The Dun Laoire boat did not run, and he had to take the B+I, which arrived two hours late because of the storms. I was on the phone to Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. Huckfield, the anti-EEC Assemblyman, sent me some material I asked for. I did not know he was a Merseyside Assemblyman, but apparently he is. I wrote a firm but diplomatic letter to Siobhan O’Neill. A draft membership form came from Pat Bond, which again showed a political perception I had not expected. I wonder if he is improving.
January 17 Friday: In the morning George Davies rang, mainly to tell me that Bernard O’Connell has been divorced and was kicked out of the house, and is in general chaos. So the conference in Birmingham is postponed till April. Noel Harris said something about this to me. This is a nuisance, as I have a lot on in April. He also spoke about the CPI conference. They have invited the E.C. [ie. representatives of the official CPGB] but also Chater’s crowd [ie. the dissident CPGB members grouped round the “Morning Star” daily paper]. I had a word with Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady.
January 18 Saturday: Michael Mortimer sent me Jean Emery’s letter and the CORE news sheet in which she rejoices that Fremlin no longer advises the Cumbria County Council. I have seen some of his pro-establishment statements. He has come a long way since he and his wife Anita were in the CP and we used to meet in his flat in Bloomsbury at the start of the AScW. But I quite early realised they were both total careerists. Very few of those students come to anything – James Klugmann, Margot Heinemann and Mt.[proper name unknown] of a slightly later vintage [This is a reference to the left-wing Cambridge students of the 1930s whom Greaves knew]. The only one who would probably have lasted was Cornford. But he might not. He came from an upper-middle class background; but I think he had a fundamental strength of character. I can’t imagine how he would have gone over.
January 19 Sunday: I did some clearing up and a little on the paper. I rang Noel Harris in the evening. He has to ring Ken Gill tomorrow. When his wife brought him he started to speak, then stopped. She came on again, said he could not speak, and asked me to ring back in 10 minutes. However, he rang back in five minutes, apologising for the previous lapse. “It is a little trouble I have.” I recall that two years ago he was talking about a brain operation but decided not to proceed with it. This must be how it affects him.
January 20 Monday: In the evening I met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street and we made some further plans.
January 21 Tuesday: At last I got news of Ken Gill. Unfortunately, we cannot get our meeting before the 29th and Joe Jamison will already be here.
January 22 Wednesday: We held the Liverpool Branch meeting. It was not well attended – the faithful few. But we got plenty of business done.
January 23 Thursday: I met George Davies at Lime Street and then brought in some leaflets he has printed. Unfortunately he spells badly and in one sentence there was anacoluthon. Still, he got them done. He was telling me about the CPGB dissidents and his crowd. Apparently the NCP has been trying to get a meeting with them. Apparently the Polish CP has recognised the New Communist Party now. But the dissidents, he says, are at sixes and sevens over their own policy, so are afraid of doing anything. I must say that he claims for his party the same type of infallibility that used to be claimed by the CPGB.
Then I went to a meeting of the Birkenhead CPGB. The secretary’s resignation was before them. Otherwise they were talking about contesting the municipal elections. They’ve no idea. And a pussyfoot crowd they are too; the minute the meeting is over they are off home. Only about four people spoke, including the chairman, a Scot, and Roger O’Hara. Roy Frodsham was there, and a statement from the Area Committee against the “Communist Campaign” (Tom Durkin, Jack Askins etc.) was given out. I must say that while the actions by the E.C. are wholly deplorable, the proposal to fight them by disruption seems to promise little result apart from a split and another breakaway. It was cold and windy – a very stormy winter this year – and I was glad to get back to 124 Mount Road.
January 24 Friday: I found I had left Michael Mortimer’s leaflets in the bar, so went to Lime Street and recovered them. Apart from that I spent the day on the paper. I called in to Roy Frodsham in the late afternoon to take him some of Mortimer’s handbills. He is bitterly anti-E.C. and calls them “Eurocommunists,” saying they have a cheek to call themselves the CP. He says the secretary who resigned was Billy Atherton, who led the Cammell Lairds strike, and he connects the resignation with the attacks on the “Campaign”[presumably the Communist Campaign Group that supported the “Morning Star” and was envisaging the breakaway that eventually became the Communist Party of Britain]. He did not think the Campaign’s activities to be the slightest degree unorthodox. And perhaps not if it has reached a point when they are determined on a split and want to see how many they can take with them. But without a programme, where are they?
January 25 Saturday (London): I caught the 10.55 to London and went to the Standing Committee at 244 Gray’s Inn Road. There were some tricks by Paul Gilhooley with, I suspect, Pat Bond at the back of it. Bond is a complete anarchist and wrecked the South London branch by doing whatever he wanted to do himself and consulting nobody. Long after we had dealt with correspondence my bold Paul Gilhooley produces a letter from the pop star Gaughan. He had written to him asking for a benefit concert. This trick of withholding correspondence is bad enough, but I suspect it was Pat Bond’s bright idea and should have been put to the committee. Again, Bond ordered new windows without consulting anybody and when Jane Tate suggested the Standing Committee should approve the expenditure, he replied testily, “I can’t wait for that.” Pat Bond has no badness in him. He’s a big baby. I’m not sure of Paul Gilhooley. When he learns more guile he will be dangerous. He has no grasp or interest in political events and is simply a talker about organisational intrigue. I went out to Ealing and stayed with Pat O’Donohue. Bob Wynn was there. He does an occasional stint at the shop and is most critical of Paul Gilhooley. He says he creates a bad atmosphere, and when people are in the shop takes them out drinking. He is going to the CP congress at Belfast. He may be worse when he comes back. It is the same as it was with Noel Gordon. Jane Tate criticises him, Pat Bond (to defend his own anarchism) backs him up to his face while complaining to everybody else.
January 26 Sunday (Liverpool): I had a long talk with Pat O’Donohue, who is developing. He is now aged 39, would you believe it. Then I went into town and had lunch with Michael Crowe who is on the way to Poitiers to teach English for a few months. He is expressing himself more decidedly now. He does not think it matters much that European Communist parties are at sixes and sevens. He does not think they any longer represent the central tradition, though of course he does not take pleasure in the present state of affairs. Jane Tate tells me that Paul Gilhooley is appointing straw men as secretaries of the “branches” he has set up, but admits it is he who does functions! Later there was a lecture I gave at Marchmont Street [ie. in the Community Centre there, which was available for hire by various organisations]. Flann Campbell ran me up to Euston and I caught the 8.50, which arrived early – at 11.20.
January 27 Monday: I worked on the paper. Ripley told me the Liverpool pamphlets had been printed. I also had a word with Jane Tate. Paul Gilhooley had promised to come in, but didn’t show up. I think we will have to hold Standing Committee meetings more frequently.
January 28 Tuesday: Another day spent on the paper.
January 29 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 9.30 to Euston and went straight into the office. Pat Bond and Noel Gordon were there. Pat Bond looked glum. “I’m fed up,” he said. “That’s not unusual. What with?” “With bloody Paul and his messing.” I did not think Noel Gordon looked too happy either. However I was in a hurry, took a taxi to Waterloo and a train to Clapham Junction and them another taxi to TASS where Ken Gill was waiting for me. Jim Mortimer was there as well. I told Ken Gill of Joe Jamison’s visit and plans to send two Trade Union big shots to Ireland and Britain. He told me it would be desirable if they said they wanted to talk about something else as well as Ireland. Mortimer said the Labour Party information on Ireland could have been written by a Billy Boy [ie. by a committed Northern Ireland Unionist]. Later Noel Harris came in. The union got me a mini-cab to Clapham and I went to Russell Square on the tube and called on Jane Tate. She also was giving out about Paul Gilhooley. Apparently his mother has gone back into hospital, but he can spend ten days on this trip to Belfast. He will be in tomorrow morning, she said. “He’ll not,” said I. I returned on the 7.25.
January 30 Thursday: I had made arrangements with Jane Tate to book Joe Jamison into a wee hotel. He arrives at Heathrow at 6 pm. and is talking about coming to Liverpool. This was indeed arranged for Sunday, when I spoke to him this morning. Tomorrow he will stay with Pat Bond.
Jane Tate said she was furious with Paul Gilhooley. He did not come in but rang saying he didn’t need his wages. He has not been making carbon copies of letters, and his manners have become shocking. She proposes to take things up at the Standing Committee. I remarked that none of the copy he promises for the paper ever arrives. Now why this comparatively sudden “going to pieces”. It cannot be his mother’s sickness or he wouldn’t go to Belfast. Since we got the GLC grant, we have paid him a good sum of money, so this may have gone to his head. He is flying to Belfast. But there was an interesting snippet. He rang up the office asking for the address he was staying in in Belfast. So he is not staying with his relations – maybe they might not appreciate his attending the CP conference. So Jimmy Stewart must be arranging it. This has all been cooked up at Xmas. There may be an intrigue. Jimmy Stewart may be trying to plant an agent in our midst, or it may be just the ex-student in his first adult job, unable to adjust to the real world.
January 31 Friday: I spoke to Pat Bond. There had been a quarrel on Wednesday. If he doesn’t improve he’ll have to go. I arranged for Barney Morgan to accommodate Joe Jamison but may meet him at Crewe. I rang up Joe Deighan at 9.30. He had just come from a reception to fraternal delegates at which Michael O’Riordan stated that Paul Gilhooley was there representing the Connolly Association. I rang Jane Tate and said my immediate reaction was to sack him. He is there with Trask and will probably look for a job on the “Morning Star”. I also rang Peter Mulligan, who felt much the same. Probably the reason he has not been doing his work – and the reason for his article – is that that move is contemplated.
February 1 Saturday: In the morning Jane Tate rang. She had heard from Joe Jamison that Peadar O’Donnell was in hospital following a stroke. He is slowly recovering but it has hit him much harder than the last one. Tony Coughlan is visiting him. One surprising thing – Joe Jamison intends to go selling the “Democrats” with Pat Bond. I think we could so play it that Paul Gilhooley would resign in a fury. He has a few bob from the GLC grant and might feel strong enough. If we can’t get rid of him that easily, we must appoint Jane Tate office manager over his head. I asked Pat O’Donohue how long we could last on the money we’ve got. He thought ten months. I would look for somebody with Trade Union experience.
In the evening Jane Tate rang up. She mentioned Paul Gilhooley’s misdemeanour to Pat Bond. He was not interested. Why? Because Paul does the bookshop from 4 pm. to 6 pm. and enables him to go early. And though he gives out about Paul Gilhooley and his lack of system, and quarrels with him, he tolerates his anarchism as it justifies his own. This petit-bourgeois wedding! Of course his attitude will affect things. The policies will have no influence on him.
She had been to University College Hospital to see Vivienne Morton, who is being treated for arthritis and some heart condition. Vivienne, incidentally, wrote to me, saying that Stella had given her T.A. Jackson’s books and she was giving them to Eddie Frow [ie. to the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Manchester, which Eddie and Ruth Frow had established and where the Jackson volumes formed the nucleus of the collection in the Irish Room there. Desmond Greaves’s own Irish history books were added to the collection following his death]. But Jane Tate tells me that after that they may go to the Manchester Library or Manchester University. I will do my damndest to see they go nowhere near any university – the damned ideological lie-factories! Jane Tate says that Stella is 77 and that she and Ewart [ie. the poet Ewart Milne who was married to Stella Jackson] go round the place talking to everybody about their pending dissolution and saying, “I wonder which one of us will go first.”
February 2 Sunday: I rang Tony Coughlan in the morning to ask him to let me know if the Paul Gilhooley affair got into any newspapers [ie. Gilhooley wrongly representing himself as a Connolly Association representative at the CPI conference]. If not, it may not be so easy to get rid of him as he will say “no harm done”. Then there is the matter of Pat Bond’s two hours – that gentleman desiring that the world should revolve around himself.
Then I went to Crewe and met Joe Jamison and brought him to Liverpool, where we had Indian food which he ate too much of and made himself ill at the Irish Centre. He must have eaten twice as much as I. I told him what Ken Gill had said, and he hopes his delegation will come in November. He had had talks with Sean Redmond, Tony Coughlan and others. Pat Bond had availed of him to send books for Michael Mortimer, who met us at Lime Street. Joe told me he had been secretary of a NICRA support group about fifteen years ago – so he would then be about 22 – and that they made the mistake of involving themselves in every internal contention that affected Belfast.
At the Irish Centre I gave a talk. Barry Doherty was there. Pat Doherty told me that he and his wife [ie. Barry Doherty and his wife] had separated and a divorce was pending. The young fellow was living with him and the wife had gone to her parents. Pat Doherty seemed somewhat cut up about it. He said Barry had had not the slightest interest in girls but only in sport. But she was the daughter of the trainer of the team. “He knows absolutely nothing about women,” says his father, who seems to be prepared to educate him. Barney Morgan took Joe Jamison home with him. I discussed with Joe Jamison the prospect of an international campaign for national sovereignty, and stressed the importance of re-establishing the principle of internationalism. He thinks the CPUSA would be very much in favour of it and commented on “Marxism Today” that there isn’t a word of Marxism in it. And quite right too.
February 3 Monday: I didn’t go out. But I wrote the article Heussaff wants for a Breton paper [ie. Alan Heussaff of the Celtic League]. Joe Deighan told me that Paul Gilhooley spent very little time in the conference but plenty gossiping in the foyer with Eddie Glackin and a number of notorious intriguers. The credentials committee noted that he was there “in a personal capacity” but mentioned the Connolly Association. So it will be hard to tackle him direct. I blame most Jimmy Stewart whom I have never trusted. Perhaps I might “do a Pirani” on him [ie. on Gilhooley]– persuade him that he had a vocation for the press and get rid of him to the “Morning Star”! [The reference is to Greaves’s interaction with scientist Marcello Pirani, whom he knew in his days as a research chemist]. As Charlie Cunningham put it, he’s an overgrown YCL-er.
February 4 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. There was no snow till I got there, but the trains were dislocated. I had to take a taxi each way from Derby to Ripley and back and had only an hour there. The winter is proving very trying.
February 5 Wednesday (London): I caught the 10.55 to London and found Pat Bond and Jane Tate in the shop. Pat Bond came to the lecture on “Insurrection In Irish History.” and wanted to have a bite with me before we went. He told me that the four of them in the office do not “get on” and that Jane Tate has been “driving him up the wall” and Stella Bond too. She is “getting worse as she gets older.” Now this was indeed the pot denouncing the kettle. It reminds me of the quarrelsome quartet. I told him he was as bad himself and also referred to the way he pre-empts decisions that properly belong to the Standing Committee and Executive Committee. For a man who greets every slightest catastrophe with histrionic gestures of frustration and impatience, I thought blaming Jane Tate took the prize.
There were 85 at the lecture and Stephen Brennan took the chair. Some CA members of the fifties were there, but most were young. I had a long talk with Brennan. He told me that he thought he had helped to transform the outlook of the Irish in London, but that it had cost three million pounds. I asked him about ILEC and Siobhan O’Neill’s campaign. He said I was the first person to tackle him about it and ask for his side of the story. They had not been doing what they promised and had run up an overdraft of £2,000. Paul Gilhooley had said they were now getting the grant and I asked if this were true. He said it was not, though I suspect there was more to it than the straight negative, but I did not press for details. He said the whole agitation was a “Stickie” furore, politically motivated, and that Donal MacCraith was one of them. When I asked him if we had any means of securing funding after the GLC went, he was helpful. He may be moving to Camden Council, but may well be disappointed.
Then who should appear but Siobhan herself. She had sent me another letter and now was at pains to impress me that it “wasn’t intended to be nasty” but to “shake me up”. It had not succeeded, I assured her. Then she made herself quite pleasant to Stephen Brennan who remarked afterwards, “She seems to be trying to make things up with me.” In other words it was dawning on her that we might be right. I have more than a suspicion, moreover, that big-head Gilhooley stirred things up with her. Stephen Brennan told me the GLC’s side of the earlier application, and that the forged letters were on notepaper of a previous year that was now out of date. He was still mystified.
February 6 Thursday (Liverpool): It had snowed heavily overnight, but the temperature was around freezing point. I took a Holyhead train, thinking of changing at Chester, but it was an hour late at Crewe. I saw there was a Liverpool local train going quite soon, so caught that arriving at 124 Mount Road at about 3.30 pm. I found a letter from Manchester. The St. Brendan’s Irish Club had written to me in November asking for a lecture. I gave them today’s date and heard nothing more. Now came a letter, dated 11th but post-dated 5 February, asking me to telephone before the 5th! I rang Michael Mortimer and he at once agreed to drive me over. The roads were dry and we reached Old Trafford by 8.30. There was a reasonable crowd, and we had a talk with a remarkable priest, Fr Aherne (I think), who spent ten years in Latin America and intended to go back. Lena Daly was there and the young fellow Barry O’Keefe from Wigan. There was also a man I knew who had been a member of the CA and wanted to re-join. Michael Mortimer brought me back to 124 Mount Road.
February 7 Friday: We held the meeting to launch the anti-pollution pamphlet in the evening. Kevin Coombs, a cool lawyer, took the chair. Brian Stowell spoke briefly, but I thought was a trifle defeatist. Then George Stratton spoke without eloquence, putting a CP “line” that is “correct” but unconvincing. It struck me most forcibly that the whole principle of CND is nonsense if it is based on unilateral disarmament. It would be better to leave the British “deterrent” alone and concentrate on getting the Americans out. This would make them national instead of anti-national. Apparently Bernard Moffat was in Liverpool, so he came. Mary McClelland was there and the young fellow from Walton CP, Kevin Nelson. He brought me an invitation to speak in Barrow. Barney Morgan was there, and the mot, Joe O’Grady, and in all about 40. Michael Mortimer took about £40, and a number of leaflets were taken on the basis of sale or return.
A few of us – Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady and a wee French girl studying the Irish in Liverpool at the University – went to the Philharmonic with Fr Fitzgerald. He was against priests going to Latin America: “What on earth can we give them, from our dead soul-less culture?” Now Fr Aherne did not say this – because his culture is neither dead nor soul-less, while the Liverpool man was intelligent enough to realise that his was.
February 8 Saturday: I had planned for a few days’ holiday, but the wind is in the East. There is no snow here, but there would be in Wales, so I decided to stay and do a few things that need to be done, perhaps write a pamphlet. So I went into Birkenhead for supplies. Tony Coughlan rang and later I had a word with Joe Deighan. He told me that Lena Daly [A longstanding CA member in Manchester] had been ill, with cancer of the throat. I thought she had looked reasonable. But I am not good at asking after other peoples’ health and am always just a bit surprised at their asking after mine. I suppose that happy state of affairs cannot go on muchlonger. But all the same, “Long may it continue – oh”, as the song says.
The cold weather goes on, but it is not too bad – nothing like last year as the temperatures are around 32F. Today there was a smell of spring in the air. Is this when all last year’s vegetation has decayed and the air is unflavoured?
February 9 Sunday: I did not go out. In the morning Jane Tate rang and said the snow was knee deep in London. There is none here. But she says the “Irish Socialist” reports that the Connolly Association was represented at its recent conference. This is utterly deplorable and the third row that young fool has created. I wrote to Pat Bond, John McGurk, John McClelland, Roy Johnston etc. In the evening Pat Bond rang, saying he had sold £370 worth of books at Leicester. He also, rather to my surprise, started giving out about Paul Gilhooley. He asked me what was to be done – he is incapable of rational decision-making. I told him get rid of him as soon as we can. But of curse Paul would have been all right if there were an atom of leadership in the office.
February 10 Monday: The weather is colder still and we are having a very unpleasant February, though it is reasonably bright. I went into Birkenhead and bought a few things.
February 11 Tuesday: Jane Tate got particulars of the Belfast thing. It was not the “Irish Socialist” but the Bulletin, which has a limited circulation, so it is not so bad. I wrote to Eoin Ó Murchú asking him to make sure it was not in the “Irish Socialist”. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan and others, enclosing copies of the pamphlet. I was going to post Barney Morgan some material yesterday, but he advised me not to do so as he would call in for it today and thus save time. I was in all day, but there was no sign of him. What was more, I telephoned him at intervals and there was no response. This is typical. Nine times out of ten he is reliable; the tenth time utterly irresponsible.
February 12 Wednesday: Barney Morgan came this afternoon. He had forgotten yesterday’s appointment! Pat Bond rang in the morning. Paul Gilhooley blew in for a few minutes at 12 noon yesterday, then went off to a “Liberation” meeting. He was not in at 12 this morning and Pat Bond saw letters which showed that he had sent circulars round Trades Councils asking them to protest to the Greater London Council about the ICEL thing[The ICEL seems to have been an educational entity attached to or funded by the GLC]. He must be tamed or sacked. Later Jane Tate told me that he had been speaking to Central London branch on his visit to Belfast.
February 13 Thursday: I did little enough today. The black frost continues, though the sun was bright, and sheltered from the wind you could feel its warmth. And now the “climatic nadir” is past. There was a letter from Bríd Heussaff about the lecture she wants me to give to the Pearse Foundation [ie. in Dublin].
February 14 Friday: Again I stayed in and wrote a few letters I can post tomorrow. The black frost continues, but the temperatures are not very low, at least not here, and the barometer has been slowly falling for days.
February 15 Saturday: The wretched barometer has started to rise again, and the cold continues. I wrote a few letters; that was all.
February 16 Sunday: As cold as yesterday. The temperature never above freezing point, but it is dry and the wind is not too strong. I stayed in till 6 pm. and then went to the Irish Centre where John McGurk gave an excellent talk on the great O’Neill and the Nine Years’ War. It was not well attended, but passable. I was very favourably impressed by him. He is a lecturer in History at a Catholic Teachers’ Training College but comes from Tyrone and is a staunch republican. Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady and both Pat Doherty and Barry, his son, were there, but not Michael Mortimer.
February 17 Monday: Tony Coughlan said he wanted 50 copies of the pollution pamphlet, so I rang Michael Mortimer who brought them in to me at Lime Street. It seems that yesterday his car would not start. He asked after Paul Gilhooley and I told him there were troubles. He is talking of coming to London next Saturday, and he might have a good influence. We shall see. The cold spell goes on – though not nearly so cold as it was last year.
February 18 Tuesday: I did not go out. The perishing cold goes on, and this looks like being a memorable cold spell.
February 19 Wednesday (Dublin): There was a touch of spring in the air when I left for Chester, Caergybi [ie. the Welsh name for Holyhead] and Dublin. Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear met me at Dun Laoire. I was sick however – obviously food poisoning from the woeful food on the boat. I was quite all right immediately afterwards, so there is no question about the cause. The young fellow who has replaced Dermot Nolan as CND secretary was there, also Cathal and Helga. Cathal has grown a new beard, as grey as a badger, and looks quite like Micheál Ó Loingsigh. Mairin Johnston looks as young as ever. But Tony Coughlan says he thinks Cathal is disappointed in his children and spends his time watching television.
February 20 Thursday: I met Tony Coughlan at 1 pm. and we went out to St Vincent’s Hospital to see Peadar O’Donnell. He looked badly shook and though Tony could understand him, I could not. He is 93 on Saturday. But he is perfectly lucid and knew I was in Dublin from an announcement on Radio Éireann. Later I saw Eoin Ó Murchú who said Paul Gilhooley had been listed as a representative in error and he would see it was not repeated in the “Irish Socialist”. In the evening I addressed a meeting of the ISM [ie. the Irish Sovereignty Movement, of which A. Coughlan was secretary] at the new ATGWU Hall in Abbey St. The room was crammed – I would say 200 were there. Micheál O Loingsigh took the chair. Among those present were Dermot Nolan, Tom Redmond, Eoin Ó Murchú, Risteárd Ó Glaisne, and many more I knew. But Micheál O Loingsigh told me that the radio announcement had brought more fresh faces. It was adjudged a powerful success. But there was another thing. Micheál O Loingsigh and Tony Coughlan had arranged an interview with the “Irish Times”, which I could not avoid as when I got into a restaurant their reporter was sitting there [The reporter was “Irish Times” political correspondent Deaglán de Bréadún; see under “Memories of Desmond Greaves” on the Greaves Archive web-site. The interview took place in the Trocadero Restaurant, St Andrew’s Street]. They should really have consulted me. Still, there you are. Also present was Eddie Cowman whom Tony Coughlan has arranged to study nonsense at TCD, but as he knows it’s nonsense it may get him a better job and do him no harm [Eddie Cowman was doing a degree in TCD as a mature student].
February 21 Friday: I set out by taxi to Dun Laoire, Tony Coughlan dropping off at Amiens Street on the way to Coleraine. There was no incident. The sea was smooth – there was no wind – and I reached 124 Mount Road by 4 pm. after going into Birkenhead for some money.
February 22 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I had written to Paul Gilhooley saying I would be in the office by 1 pm. and asking him to meet me in accordance with the E.C. Nobody knew what he was doing, or whether he would arrive. I knew he would not and he did not. Pat Bond had telephoned since he has not been in all week. One of the children said he was too ill to come to the telephone. But he sent no message. When it was clear he was not coming I had lunch with Jane Tate. It seems the “Morning Star” yesterday mysteriously repeated the story about his being the Connolly Association representative. We started looking for material for the E.C. – no carbon copies, no notes. But there was a letter from a young fellow in Galway referring to Paul’s being invited to the CPI conference. Obviously the intrigue has been going on a long time.
When the meeting got underway – Peter Mulligan was absent from frost damaged roofs – but Tony Donaghey was there. There was no Philip Rendle, who I think has pulled out (possibly on CP instructions?), but Gerry Curran, Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue, and finally Flann Campbell. There was a long discussion of Paul Gilhooley’s ‘s misdemeanours, and after the experience of Noel Gordon there was little disposition to humour him. I was asked to write a strong letter. Charlie Cunningham was there.
There was a call from Joe O’Grady, who did not feel well enough to come. He had shown the pamphlet to Eric Heffer who proposed to have a press conference in the House of Commons on March 6th. I returned on the 7.25 pm.
February 23 Sunday: I wrote the letter to Paul Gilhooley. What its effect will be is hard to know. I did not go out. There was a brilliant moon at night and temperatures plummeted. I have left a gas burner alight in hope of warding off frost at the most vulnerable places.
February 24 Monday: I wrote 20 personal letters to people on the fringe of the Connolly Association in Liverpool. Pat Bond is coming on Sunday and I want the maximum attendance for prestige purposes. I spoke with Barney Morgan but could not get Michael Mortimer. In the afternoon I went into the city to change Irish cash into sterling. In the evening I spoke to Joe Deighan, who said my interview was in the “Irish Times” this morning.
February 25 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy has not arrived. He is most remiss in this respect. The inconvenience and sheer waste of time I suppose doesn’t worry him much if he suits his own convenience and saves his own time. I could turn out a decent paper if I got the copy in time. But it is always thrown together at the last minute with the aid of midnight oil. A further letter came from Pat Bond. He is an egregious ass. He threw one of his childish tantrums last Saturday when we decided to postpone the AGM. He wanted a pep talk! Now he writes saying Ó Snodaigh’s pamphlet should be “put on the very long finger indeed”. The idiot quite forgets that we’ve got money from the GLC for its publication! It is alright postponing without E.C. approval if it suits him, all wrong if he wants a pep talk. I can understand how the South Londons couldn’t stand the sight of him. Mind, he is ten times worse than he was, and possibly realises that he hasn’t the ability he had. Then Paul Gilhooley rang up, sounding a little unsure of himself after the shot I fired across his bows. I understand from Jane Tate that he has had influenza, went out last night (drinking I presume) and had to go home again today. Michael Crowe has at last gone to Newcastle [ie. to teach French in a professional lecturing capacity].
February 26 Wednesday: I worked on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy has not arrived. In the evening we held the Connolly Association branch meeting, with Michael Mortimer, his friend Alan Morton 2, Pat Doherty, and one or two more, including Barney Morgan. I did not go to the Irish Centre. It was icy cold, and this is proving one of the worst cold spells for years. But I am not finding it so trying as 1963 or 1940, I think because I spent those winters in London where it was really cold. In 1940 I remember going out in 6F and feeling my ears begin to freeze. There does seem to be a sequence of very cold winters, 1895,1917, 1940, 1963 and 1986. My recollection of 1947 was that it was snowing but did not produce the low temperatures of 1940. 1929 was fairly bad, but not protracted, and 1955 was dreary but not very cold.
February 27 Thursday: At long last Tony Coughlan’s copy arrived. But I’ve three pages to fill, as it is impossible to get balance till you know what you’ve got. So now it is another mad rush. Joe Deighan sent me the “Irish Times” interview, which he said was not bad and it wasn’t.
February 28 Friday: There is little of the prolonged frost breaking, and though there is a howling East wind that has been here all month, it was cloudy at night and as last night the windows did not frost up. There was cirrus in the West and the sun went down rather lemon than tomato. I finished the paper but for the front page, which I will have to reserve till I get news of Belfast events. I had a word with Pat Bond who seems in a more happy mood, but Paul Gilhooley did not arrive till 11.50 on the grounds of his mother’s illness.
March 1 Saturday: I think the weather was less cold, though I did not go out. I can’t say I accomplished very much either, apart from clearing up some of the mountains of paper lying about. A letter from Molly Weaver told me that a German teacher is doing a PhD thesis on Michael [Michael Weaver was a former CA member in Manchester]. She asked if I had any recollections. I am afraid they have become hazy. I remember speaking in Bolton in 1946 and seeing Michael Weaver periodically, mostly with Joe Deighan. I arranged for Barney Morgan to pick up Pat Bond at Lime Street tomorrow.
March 2 Sunday: I stayed in till 6 pm., then went to the Irish Centre where Pat Bond came from London and gave a talk. Barney Morgan was looking after him. He was not bad. The usual people were there, Pat Doherty, Barry his son, Stephen Dowling, but no Michael Mortimer. But Tom Walsh came.
March 3 Monday: I did some shopping and met Joe O’Grady at 5 pm. Michael Mortimer, whom I rang, told me he had fallen asleep – drinking on Sunday midday!
March 4 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and things went very smoothly. I caught all the corrections. The proofs were ready. I caught the 3.41 back to Derby – the earliest I ever caught – and then the 4.33 back. At Stoke there was an announcement of a delay. I didn’t worry as I expected a wait at Crewe. But didn’t a train from Penzance to Liverpool pull in 30 minutes late! So I was home by 7.30. A long day just the same. Later Gerry Curran rang and said he had had a long talk with Paul Gilhooley who had “got the message”. He told Gerry Curran that the “Morning Star” had offered him a job since he joined us. Typical English imperialist attitude. We can be poached from.
However, there is one good thing. The cold spell is over – for now. It was quite extraordinary this morning to see rain, and a West wind. I think 1940 and 1963 took much more out of me than this winter. I think the reason is that then I was in London and it is much milder here at all times. Of course it may return!
March 5 Wednesday (London): I was dog tired last night and decided to go to London on the 10.55, which I did. I had a long talk with Paul Gilhooley, who seems prepared to pull up his socks, so we must see. I don’t think he has really much idea. Then I stayed with Jane Tate.
March 6 Thursday (Liverpool): Jane Tate and I went to the House of Commons where we met Eric Heffer and Joe O’Grady and held a press conference. Both the “Morning Star” and the “New Worker” were there and very amiable. Then Eric Heffer took us to lunch where we met Martin Flanagan and Eddie Loyden [Loyden was Labour MP for Liverpool Garston]. Heffer was enraged by Kinnock’s behaviour over Liverpool [The Labour-led Liverpool District Council had committed itself to spending more than it raised in revenue in response to Government cuts, which caused a major dispute with the Conservative Government]. The councillors are being surcharged and instead of backing them Kinnock is stabbing them in the back [ie. Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock]. He told me about Foot at the outbreak of the Falklands War. He [ie. Eric Heffer] was in Liverpool and rang the Chief Whip, presuming there would be a shadow cabinet meeting. He was told there would not be one and Foot then said he was not giving Mrs Thatcher a blank cheque and promptly gave her one. When he protested Peter Shore cried “Treachery!” and Kaufman called him “anti-British”. The same happened with Hillsborough there [ie. the November 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement which gave a formal consultancy role to the Irish Government on Northern Ireland policy]. Kinnock must have been apprised of it beforehand and gave unconditional support. He said in the Falklands case Denis Healey was away, and if he had been there he would have had Foot taking a more cautious line, which he did himself when he got back.
We came back to Liverpool on the 2.30.
March 7 Friday: I did little – went into Birkenhead and made some purchases. Jane Tate told me there was no report of our news conference in the “Morning Star”. I suspect Chater is the block, for the pamphlet has not been reviewed either. But we do have some friends there, so there may be something yet. Paul Gilhooley rang.
March 8 Saturday: I did not go out, though the weather seemed quite mild. I had a few words with Joe O’Grady on the phone. He had been to see Bob Parry, but with little result. I am wondering whether to go to Dolgoch. The winter seems to have taken surprisingly little out of me, though of course it must have its effects. In 1940 and 1963 of course, I was in “digs” or a not wonderfully heated flat. The better housing will make a difference. Also now I do not have to go out every day.
March 9 Sunday: I did not go out but got some clearing up done. Brian Stowell had pushed a note through my door last night asking for copies of the pamphlet. I rang him up after a word with Joe O’Grady. Stowell is speaking at Barry Doherty’s Civil Service Union branch on Tuesday.
March 10 Monday: I did some clearing up and sent off to Suttons and Thompson Morgan for seeds. Though I do not much feel like gardening, it has its advantages. But (if I’m spared!) after this year I think I’ll put in non-laborious things, perhaps a few gooseberries or rhubarb. The weeds are the problem. I wrote to Tony Coughlan giving him the last copy dates, and to Jim McDonald in Sligo, Stella Bond, Pat O’Donohue and Paul Gilhooloey. Jane Tate told me that the “Morning Star” had not used our press conference, so really it was an expensive sterility. It brought us a bit closer to Eric Heffer and Eddie Loydon, though. I see from an article in “World Marxist Review” that other people are thinking on our lines with regard to the nation state.
March 11 Tuesday: I had thought of going away today, but uncertainties about rail travel led me to postpone. I did a little clearing up and tried to find the strawberries and Chenopodium, which I fear may have succumbed to the long frost without snow cover. Stephen Brennan rang up asking for the script of my talk in February or whenever it was. A nuisance. I doubt if I kept the notes. Then George Davies rang. He said Sean Redmond was preparing to hold an international conference in Dublin. Did I know anything about it? I had heard something, I admitted, but nobody ever tells me anything. Neither he nor I thought it a good plan. A letter from John Boyd described the anti- Common Market campaign meeting, with Lord Stoddart of Swindon in the chair and Sir Robin Williams as secretary. Neither of them I imagine belonged to ancient families but Sir Robin thought a reference to NATO “sounded like Tony Benn.”
There was also a letter from Kevin Coleman Joyce in Boston. He had sent something to the “Democrat” but, as often happens Pat Bond had opened it, thrown away the envelope and left no more than a covering letter and address. Anyway I wrote to him for material from Boston. He gets the “Irish Democrat” from Brian Wilkinson. But I imagine the acquaintance goes back to his Clan na Gael days, and Joyce was also a member of the “Republican Clubs” in the USA. And he also knew Kath MacLoughlin. Somebody had sent him the interview I gave to the “Irish Times”. He does not seem to be in touch with Joe Jamison, so I must tell him about him. He says that the Troy commemoration is in the hands of right-wing trade unionist, but is fully in support of it [ie. a project to erect a bust of James Connolly in Troy, New York State]. I didn’t go out.
Incidentally George Davies said that tomorrow he will go into hospital for an operation to his nose which was struck by a policeman’s baton in a demonstration some years ago.
March 12 Wednesday: I didn’t go out, though the weather has remained mild – it is however still winter in the East. Daffodils here are poking their heads up with great alacrity. Brian Latham rang up from Manchester saying that Jack Askins’s Marxist circle wanted me to speak to them. I said I would. I did some clearing up.
March 13 Thursday: I went into Birkenhead and posted some letters, to Jack Bennett, Joe Deighan and Eamon McLaughlin. A man wrote from Kent saying he was the son of Thomas Carnduff [Thomas Carnduff, 1986-1956, Belfast-born radical poet and playwright, of Protestant background, who contributed to the “Irish Democrat”]. He is trying to trace the MS of the autobiography and had seen a cutting from the “Irish Democrat” of 1958, in which I published an extract. Unfortunately, I can’t remember how I got the extract. So I wrote to Jack Bennett, Joe Deighan and Eamon McLaughlin. Who on earth introduced Carnduff to us? A letter came from Chris Maguire asking me to speak at his Bronterre O’Brien commemoration in June. I said I would. Strangely enough, his former wife Mairin made herself known to me at the Dublin lecture.
March 14 Friday: I bought Joseph McKeon’s autobiographical “novel” which ends with the Birkenhead riots of 1932. I found it interesting, but the man lacks the imagination to produce anything solid. I wondered if perhaps he exaggerated the poverty, but then of course we never ventured into the dock area he deals with. I would say he lets the police off lightly, from what I heard later.
March 15 Saturday: It was milder again today. Clearly the worst of the winter is over, though there will no doubt be some cold snaps. In the afternoon Joe Deighan rang, He had got a copy of a new pamphlet on Connolly for me. He said that the people who backed the “strike” were the “blue collar” workers, and that the “white-collars” and middle class were opposed [This refers to the widespread strike on a “Day of Action” organised by the Unionist parties on 3 March to show their opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement]. He thinks that a compromise will be struck. The Unionists will not risk the type of political defeat we would wish on them. If that were to happen there could be a new Stormont there for another 50 years, for the so-called Anglo-Irish Conference relinquishes its supervision in the event of a “devolved government” being established. On the other hand the Unionist extremists might be sufficiently foolish to lead their followers into a fiasco. John Boyd’s pamphlet arrived. It contains invaluable material, but the presentation is not satisfactory. He just doesn’t possess the command of English composition; he has no inkling of how to set something forth in an arresting way.
March 16 Sunday: I did not go out but did some useful clearing up. Pat Bond rang in the morning and said he had sold £1,300 worth of books in the last two days. Later Joe O’Grady rang saying Michael Mortimer had agreed to attend a meeting tomorrow.
March 17 Monday: In the morning Jane Tate rang. She had fallen over and thinks she had a “blackout” and went to see the doctor. She suffers from blood pressure. Then Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady and I had a branch committee meeting, and considering the day that was in it, a wee drink [This was St Patrick’s Day]. The “Irish Sea” pamphlet is doing reasonably well.
March 18 Tuesday: In the morning Paul Gilhooley rang up. He has come to his cake and milk, I think. As Gerry Curran said, ” He got the message.” He has got the “pop-singer”, Gaughan, to give us a benefit concert in South London, and this should help financially. I went into the city in the afternoon.
March 19 Wednesday: I did not go out but managed a bit of clearing up. I was trying to get Michael Mortimer but he is not easy to find in.
March 20 Thursday: I did not go out but completed two pages of the paper. Stella Bond rang in great excitement. The “Irish Times” was threatening to sue for £15 they said we owed them. Did I know anything about it? I didn’t. It turned out that Pat O’Donohue claimed we had not had an invoice. It was something Pat Bond had ordered. Then Joe O’Grady rang.
March 21 Friday: I went into the bank in Castle Street, and there met Joe O’Grady who wanted a copy of the November London Conference statement for Bob Wareing [Liverpool Labour MP]whom he is seeing tomorrow.
March 22 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.30 to Euston and went straight to the office, where I saw Paul Gilhooley and indeed had lunch with him. He seems fairly reasonable now, but one can see he is very young and easily carried away. Then we had a meeting of London members, badly attended, followed by a social that did not warm up till 10 pm. Indeed they had ordered the music for 10. However, Sean McGuire was there. His father has been “de-selected”. And, of all things, who should appear but Egon – now about 26 years old, but showing some of the qualities of his father, a very decent young fellow [ie. Egon MacLiam, one of Cathal MacLiam’s three sons]. He is spending a while in London to get experience. So Finula is here and so is Egon. I stayed with Jane Tate.
March 23 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee in the afternoon, and there was a lecture in the evening. Everything was badly attended. I suppose the social last night was the best. Pat Bond is morose and tetchy, interfering in everybody else’s work and has Stella worried about his unrelaxed overwork. He took it upon himself to throw away the back numbers of the “Irish Democrat”. But Gerry Curran and Jane Tate rescued them and hid them. He was taken to task over this today. Jane thinks he wants to use Paul Gilhooley’s office as a bookstore. He is only interested in what expands his own energies, keeps everything in his head, will not delegate and has now upset Chris Sullivan who, Pat Bond insists “is not a member”. He has been giving large sums to the “Irish Democrat”. But Pat Bond – without the slightest authority or justification – asks him to pay his annual subscription as well. And Chris thought he had paid enough. God! These bloody egotists! Incidentally Flann Campbell wanted to pay me a fee for editorial work on his book – four more chapters of which he has given me – but I declined it.
March 24 Monday (Liverpool): I had a word with Jane Tate. We decided that it might be a good plan to make Chris Sullivan an honorary life member. That would please him and get him out of Pat Bond’s officious clutches. A note came from Joe Deighan saying that Jimmy Stewart had at last gone to Dublin, and that Brian Gormally (from Blackpool) was taking his place and that he was anti-national. Joe foresees tension between East and West Belfast. Jimmy Stewart was shrewd enough to avoid it, though I’ve little enough time for him and think Dublin has a raw deal also. But of course one never knows. He strikes me as a somewhat vain person.
But I am omitting the worst. When I went out from Jane Tate’s a near hurricane was blowing, and twigs and branches were being ripped from the plane trees. I took a taxi to Euston, only to learn there were no trains. The overhead wires were down. So I had to go to St Pancras just in time for a Liverpool train, which left at 12.10 and reached Lime St at 5.45. A cockney couple had two children, one at half fare, the other aged about 18 months, both occupying seats while people were standing all over the carriage. They had to be asked to accommodate a Liverpool woman with a baby, and this bitch moved with bad damned grace. A college girl from Cardiff was going to Manchester. She had been on the 10.20, had been taken to Watford, then brought back. She was sobbing as she explained this to me – why, I can’t imagine. She had telephoned the college and they had said “carry on”. She’d be at least 20! About halfway to Nuneaton a young fellow who had been asleep woke up, saw me standing and insisted on giving up his seat. So you see how people vary. The interesting thing was that I was leaving Jane Taster half a bottle of Retsina, which she persuaded me to cork up and bring. I had no glass but was not too grand to swig it straight from the bottle. There was no food on the train and I was mighty glad of it. I rang Peter Mulligan.
March 25 Tuesday: In the morning a call from Dublin asked me to give a radio interview on a programme on 1916. I told them it was better to have somebody resident in Ireland. She told me I “counted” as that but I told her to try Tony Coughlan. Then Tony himself rang saying he and Muriel Saidlear were thinking of coming to Liverpool for Easter. I told him I would be very pleased to see them. Then Jane Tate rang and later Paul Gilhooley. Recalling odds and ends Paul Gilhooley had written, I could see that he does not understand the national question or has a “great nation” attitude even when he supports the nationalists. I went on with the paper. I was in most of the day, except when I went to the post.
March 26 Wednesday: I finished most of the paper. Frank Short and Eddie McAteer have died[Frank Short was a leading nationalist in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, and father of Clare Short MP. Eddie McAteer had been leader of the Nationalist Party in Northern Ireland]. I have been trying to get Harry McHugh to find out if Mrs Short is still alive. I went to the CA branch meeting and met Roy Frodsham at Hamilton Square. I was telling him how last week the trains were thrown into chaos because of a dog on the line. He told me he had lost a dog at Central Station. It would not go home and went down on to the Rock Ferry platform while he was on the Liverpool side. He saw what was going to happen and it did. The dog jumped down on the track, struck the live rail and was electrocuted. He said he proposed to go down to no more meetings of the Birkenhead CP but will go to the “Morning Star” meeting in Manchester. Michael Mortimer had telephoned saying that he would not be able to come owing to colitis. But one remarks that it seems to attack him very frequently on meeting nights. Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and the young fellow who wants to write stories, Joe Walsh from Liscard, was there. Barney Morgan appeared with some kind of foam rubber muffler round his neck, and said he was suffering from a “trapped nerve” and that the condition was painful. I was very surprised, for he is never ill. I looked it up later and it seems a two-day operation, usually successful, puts it right. We arranged a three-month programme and an AGM-cum-social. According to cuttings sent by Tony Coughlan, the “Workers’ Party” is in the dirt [ie. the former “Official” Sinn Fein, now “The Workers Party”, which was receiving negative publicity in Dublin at the time because of the involvement of its paramilitary wing with racketeering in the building trade and other illegal fund-raising activities]. I wonder if Irene Brennan and Myant will notice it?
March 27 Thursday: I went to Birkenhead and then into the city. Tony Coughlan told me he is not coming as Muriel Saidlear would be sea-sick. He will come himself later in the month. I heard from London that there was a schemozzle because Paul Gilhooley did not attend the Central London branch meeting last night but spent the evening in a pub arguing with one of his “Liberation” cronies about the CA collaborating in bringing someone over from Ireland. Jane Tate had given him a talking to. He is very raw. I wonder if he is capable of learning. I sent off the last of the paper and sent the £50 donation we voted to “Liberation”, who sent out a desperate appeal for £4000 because their premises have been bought over their heads and they have to move. The first daffodil is out today.
March 28 Friday: I did not go out but wrote one or two letters and sorted out some accounts. At the moment things are fairly comfortable, but it will hardly last. The NCP paper arrived [ie. the organ of the New Communist Party]. I must say I agree with practically everything that is in it. There is no doubt the old CP is in a desperate state. When I went into the AUEW I saw a number of NCPs on the steps – they would be six or seven strong. I accepted a leaflet but did not buy a copy and gave no reason. “You won’t read the truth,” said one of them – not nastily, but reproachfully. When I turned up the stairs this one pointed to the hall. He was quite surprised when I continued. It was then I learned that the old CP had a meeting, and I looked through the door as I left. I saw Gordon McLennan [ie. the CPGB General Secretary] sitting beside a woman at the table. The meeting seemed dead and sparse. Usually they send me a card in January [ie. the annual CPGB membership card]. Billy Atherton was going to post it but I expected to see him. If they do not send it me I do not propose to go into hysterics, though I think they will. I certainly do not propose to join anything else at this time. Roy Frodsham and Pat Doherty are going to a “Morning Star” rally next Saturday.
March 29 Saturday: It was colder today and I did not go out. I wrote one or two letters and did a few other things. I am wondering if I have enough anthracite to last through the chilly spell. When it gets milder I can use the timber that is lying all over the place.
March 30 Sunday: Another cold, dreary, damp, showery day during which I did not go out. I picked up Jennie Lee’s reminiscences of Aneurin Bevan among some remainders and read it [Aneurin Bevan had established the National Health Service when he was Minister for Health in the post-World War 2 UK Labour Government]. I forget what it was that finished me with him. It may be it was the abandonment of disarmament, which she excuses by saying he wanted to stay in the Shadow Cabinet. He had things to his credit, the health service for example, and apparently it was he who got local authorities the right to spend on the arts. I suppose he was the best of a bad bunch. I came across him once at the Soviet Embassy. I wonder if she is still alive. What comes out is the utter incompetence of British policy makers, completely blinded by hatred of the USSR.
March 31 Monday: I saw a flake of snow today – it was that cold. And there were one or two hail showers. So again I did not go out. I got quite a few letters written, to Paul Gilhooley, Jane Tate, the Liverpool MPs, Joe Deighan and others. But for the rest, apart from finishing Jennie Lee, there was not much done. I am free next week, but unless the weather shows a distinct improvement I shall probably not go away. I have a very busy period ahead of me till the end of June but shall try to get the summer clear for some literary work. And there is so much to do in the house and garden that I scarcely know where to begin. This is when you begin to feel your years.
April 1 Tuesday: The weather was slightly better, and I went to Ripley. Terry Reynolds told me there were three inches of snow there on Sunday, but it melted quickly. Things went smoothly, and so did the journey until I got to Lime Street. I could not get the paper I wanted to read when I bought a snack, and then in the “White Star Inn” there was no food, so I bought a double scotch, then came home.
April 2 Wednesday: The weather was dry today, but apart from the early afternoon when the sun was out, it was cold. I wrote to quite a few people, including Gerald O’Reilly, who is coming to Ireland in mid-April [Gerald O’Reilly, 1903-1990, Irish War of Independence veteran and later one of the founders, with Mike Quill and Austin Hogan, of the Transport Workers Union in the USA]. I also wrote to Declan Bree, Alan Heussaff and a few more. Joe O’Grady rang. This would-be writer, W.J. Walsh of Liscard who was going to try to get a speaker for us, is as good as his word and rang Joe O’Grady, but he did not think the speaker (Nettleton) much good. I contacted Michael Mortimer and he says he will be free tomorrow. George Davies rang up. Apparently Sean Redmond’s people are proceeding with an “International Conference” in May. I was told this by George Davies some time ago. Tony Coughlan had never heard of it and promised to find out but didn’t. I am by no means enthusiastic about it. But George Davies says he will go. He is closely linked with Eddie Glackin, whom Noel Harris does not think highly of. He would be on the republican wing of the CPI, I would say.
April 3 Thursday: This was a thoroughly unsatisfactory day. First, it was cold. Second, I have a toe tender and swollen with arthritis, possibly brought on by the return of cold weather. Third, I made no progress in my campaign to have my dustbin returned to where the dustmen find it after emptying it. Fourth, when I rang up to order some anthracite I was told that the “French nuts” I have been using all winter are no longer available, the consignment I drew on having been delivered by mistake. And of course no buses ran on time! Finally I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady and we discussed plans.
April 4 Friday: I rang Jim Arnison to try to trace Ron Bellamy [Ron Bellamy 1917-2009, Marxist academic economist who was a university lecturer in Leeds]. Finally Paul Gilhooley got a number for him and I spoke to Joan [ie Mrs Bellamy, who was for a long time CPGB area secretary in Leeds]. Ron Bellamy came back at 5 pm. and was very pleased to speak in Liverpool on May 31st. So with Tony Coughlan and John Boyd secure, that should be the platform enough, though I wrote to Les Huckfield in Wigan [Labour MEP and former MP]. Jane Tate told me that Cath Scorer had died of cancer at the age of 38 – and later I saw her obituary in the “Manchester Guardian”.
I was very pleased to reopen relations with Ron Bellamy. Frank Watters told me he was a solid as a rock, and of course it was the Bellamies who brought me to Leeds to try to straighten out Woddis when he’d been to Belfast and was in a mental tangle. That may have won a year’s respite [See earlier Journals for this incident]. Ron Bellamy told me that a quasi-Marxist professor in Leeds had given a lecture on “The end of the nation state”.
April 5 Saturday: I got up about 9 am. to see a good dusting of snow on the grass. It soon melted but there was another cold day and I did not go out. I corrected the proofs of Paddy Byrne’s pamphlet and rang Tony Donaghey, who says he is no longer on the E.C. of the NUR [ie. the National Union of Railwaymen. Later Donaghey became president of RMT, that union’s successor]. I wanted him to go to Sean Redmond’s conference in Dublin. This is the “international conference” of George Davies. But Tom Redmond spoke to me about it. It is only Great Britain and Ireland.
April 6 Sunday: Though it was possible to go into the sunlit garden in mid-afternoon without feeling cold, I did not go out. I sorted some papers and wrote to Cathal, HMSO [ie. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office], and Miroshnikov – the Russian student interested in the Fenians. And by evening it was as cold as ever.
April 7 Monday: Another cold day – this time not even tolerable in the sunshine, which was intermittent anyway. So I stayed in again. Barney Morgan called.
April 8 Tuesday (London/Liverpool): Another cold day – and it is well into April. But I went to London. I had a talk with Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley, and the three of us went to an exhibition of the life and work of R. Palme Dutt, which an Indian had got together. On the way down who should we meet on the train but Alec Doswell and Derek Hatton [Hatton was a leading figure in the Liverpool Labour Party at the time and a member of the Militant Tendency. He was later expelled from the Labour Party]. I had never met him before. He was of course quiet and did not seem the ranter that the radio turns him into. But I got the impression of a slight shiftiness which comes over in his photographs. Doswell wants a speaker for the Trades Council. He does not think the Liverpool councillors will win their appeal, though I wondered if an election shock might lead to the Government’s letting it be known that they would like to see the matter dropped. I tried to get the 4.45 back but just missed it and took the 6.30 to Crewe.
April 9 Wednesday: If anything today was colder still with the endless North-East wind blowing, AMM [One of his grandmothers] used to say if the North or North-East wind got started in April, it would go on till midsummer’s day. And often did. So we look set for another lousy summer. I had a word with Joe O’Grady and later tried to track down Kevin Nelson who is supposed to drive me to Barrow-on-Furness on Sunday, but I’ve had no particulars from them. I went out to make purchases.
April 10 Thursday: I didn’t go out. There is still a very cold North-East wind. I got a bit of clearing up done. Jane Tate rang up. Paul Gilhooley is at it again. His sister rang to say he was not coming in but gave no reason. He had yesterday swiped the entire contents of Jane Tate’s till and left no IOU. This is no doubt why he got his little sister to ring for him. Later Kevin Nelson rang and said the Barrow meeting had been combined with the Lancaster one, which they want put off till the 20th. He offered to drive me there and the trains are so incredibly inconvenient that I may have to accept.
April 11 Friday: Again a cold and dry day. The sun seems to get no purchase on the ground. It must be one of the coldest Aprils that ever came. Paul Gilhooley rang to report difficulties in getting speakers for the conference on June 21st. I didn’t go out but saw the first yellow flowers on a Forsythia – weeks late. I wrote one or two letters. And at 5 pm. Michael Mortimer rang up saying he would bring me a packet of pamphlets to take to Pat Bond in Birmingham. Nelson offered to lift me there in his car but, though I will have to go early, I thought the train was likely to be more reliable, though it wasn’t last time. About 8 pm. Michael Mortimer came, bringing with him a load of firewood which will be very useful. He does not seem to have done much with the Latin American studies, and really I thought it was fanciful. There is a touch of the romantic and the “ewige student”. He says he is within sight of 40 – though he looks no more than 32 or 33 – and he may never now get a job. On the other hand he always dresses like a student, and I would think that if he went for an interview in a nice suit he might be more successful. He was talking about Barney Morgan who a few days ago was telling me of a plan to move to North Wales where he is applying for a job. He has just finished refurbishing a huge house in Croxteth Road. I wondered if there might be a rift with the mot – but Michael says she is buying a house in Birkenhead and he says they are “only friends”. So we guess as we may. There is anyway an unsettled streak in Barney’s character and he says it is not good to stay in one job too long.
The cover of Tony Coughlan’s s new book arrived at midday. I rang him up in the evening and he tells me it will not be out till June! I also rang George Davies who says Noel Harris is in hospital for a “major operation” and that the first speaker tomorrow will be Eddie Glackin, then Derek Robinson will come and I am the summer-up. I decided not to for the 8.20 train but to leave it till 9.36, a more civilised hour. George Davies is picking up Eddie GIackin at the boat, but I decided not to travel with them – no 7 am. business for me! Apparently Glackin is doing some kind of tour with the Labour Committee on Ireland. But I do not feel entirely satisfied about all the things that are going on.
April 12 Saturday: It is still cold but not quite so bad. I went to Birmingham. There were less than 20 at George Davies’ conference. Noel Harris is in hospital undergoing a “major operation” and was not there. George told me that Bernard O’Connell’s life is in a tangle. He has separated from his wife and become involved in some triangular situation which erupted in violence. I always thought there was a touch of instability in him. So nothing much has been done. George Davies himself spoke on the platform, and Eddie Glackin from Dublin. He mumbles. He has never spoken at mass meetings, I suppose. Derek Robinson, who gave me a favourable “old fashioned socialist” impression, was loud and clear.
And Nelson came by train after all. Mark Clinton was there too, in good enough form. We called in to the CP office after the meeting but only the bookshop manager was there. Mark said he was still in the CP (just) and they had just amalgamated seven branches into one. They have their premises however. But according to Nelson not only Liverpool but Manchester have lost theirs. Yet Gordon McLennan continues to justify his disastrous policy. Could he not just look at the results? I returned with Nelson and we went up to the Polytechnic which John Gibson had booked for a film show. Then we found a notice saying they had moved to the “Flying Picket,” where the film could not be shown. A good number of people were there – but apart from three, all elderly. Nelson told me that the CP has only 9,000 members and only 40% or some such figure pay their subscriptions. A fine situation! Incidentally I have had a poor response from Susan Schafer, who answered me curiously when I rang her. I knew there was something had happened. Now Nelson tells me that she has left the CP in disgust and is concentrating on CND Liverpool Area Committee and indulging in “sexual politics” sessions!
April 13 Sunday: It was not quite so cold, after morning rain, but too chilly to do anything in the garden. I spoke to Michael Mortimer and fixed a time for the conference notices to be sent out. Joe O’Grady and I will go to his house! Otherwise it would be Tibb’s Eve and even then it would not be done properly. Later I spoke to Gerry Curran. Paul Gilhooley has been at it again. At the “Liberation” conference some “proletarian” cranks had put an amendment to our resolution which we declined to accept. When the amendment was called there had been an alteration to our resolution. Gerry Curran asked on a point of order how could it be changed without his being informed. He was told that Paul Gilhooley had met the “proletarians” in the lunch break and had agreed to a change without consulting his fellow delegates. Gerry says that Jane Tate is furious, and small wonder.
April 14 Monday: The weather was wet, cold and miserable with reports of snow on the radio, though mercifully not here. Nevertheless I went into Birkenhead and bought some provisions. Apart from that, not much.
April 15 Tuesday: The morning was wet, but the afternoon was bright and for the first time one could go out into the garden without noticing the cold. I did no go anywhere but managed a bit of clearing up and began work on the paper. The Forsythia is not properly out. There are a few tentative shoots on the crab, but not a sign of life in the Victorian plum or the damson you would expect to be in blossom. The gooseberries on the other hand are a bright green. Paul Gilhooley rang up. He is having difficulty with speakers. I also had a word with Michael Mortimer and Brian Stowell. Later I arranged with Doswell for Brian Stowell to address the Trades Council, and spoke to Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan.
April 16 Wednesday: I went to Waterloo to Michael Mortimer’s and Joe O’Grady appeared. It is not easy to get much done there as Michael Mortimer is so free with the wine, of which he always seems to have vast stores. However, we filled envelopes and prepared the lists for the conference on May 31st. Then after Joe O’Grady had left we went out for a meal at Michael Mortimer’s favourite (Chilean) restaurant. I did not think it powerful.
April 17 Thursday: I went into town to get some Irish money for my trip to Dublin next week. For the second day running it was wet, with a dreary cold North-East wind. I had a word with Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley. She told me that JJ attended the meeting last night and both said he was very effective and would consider reviewing the pamphlet on pollution [It is not clear who JJ was – presumably a friend or colleague of Greaves’s from his university days; perhaps J. Jump]. I think he remained in Birkenhead a few years after I went to London, possibly till the war broke out. Anyway he is a Professor now – emeritus no doubt. He must be 75 or near it.
April 18 Friday: Another cold miserable day. What has happened to the sun is anybody’s guess! I did not go out but worked on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy has not arrived. Nor has Dónal MacAmhlaigh’s. Copy Paul Gilhooley swore he posted on Tuesday is not here. I rang and asked him to post duplicates. I had agreed to speak to Barrow and Lancaster branches of the CP. Nelson rang about ten days ago saying the Barrow people were joining with Lancaster. They did not bother to contact me. Now Nelson tells me the Lancaster meeting is “postponed a couple of weeks”. Again they did not contact me. It will be postponed without me! But I shall say nothing, make no protest, just act accordingly. This is the typical arrogant English behaviour wherever the Irish are concerned. We had the same thing with Stratton when we were to have a joint conference with his crowd. He cancelled it without a thought. The Irish are subhuman and contracts with them do not count. I have had no mail for a few days. I wonder why – Joe Deighan said his copy was posted, so did Paul Gilhooley. The others are less certain.
Sean Redmond has an “international conference” in Dublin on May 10th. Tom Redmond asked me to speak at it but did not explain what it was. Apparently they want a Connolly Association speaker. My suspicion is that it is going to turn out a chatterbox session. For some reason Sean Redmond has been nobbled by the Labour Committee on Ireland and they have sent him a list of Trotskyite nonentities to invite. The whole thing has an air of amateurism that cannot derive from Sean, who is professional if anybody is. I twice asked Tony Coughlan for information. But he has got very bad on this. I suppose he doesn’t get on with Sean and won’t bother to enquire. Likewise I asked him for the Irish/USSR Society address. No reply. Of course he may not know, but anyway he wasn’t very interested. And of course these cross-currents in Dublin would be plain enough to anybody living there, but are very obscure to me. I suppose Sean Redmond would be equally puzzled at our hesitation regarding the Labour Committee on Ireland. I sent Sean a list of people to invite. But I am not easy about the whole thing. I tried to get Tony Donaghey to represent us, then Flann Campbell. He would go but for having to go to a wedding. He told me Mary Campbell had been knocked down by a car and had to be taken to hospital.
April 19 Saturday: About 11 am. this character McBurney from Lancaster rang me. He said there were “problems”. Apparently so many people wanted to attend the meeting that it was going to be too big to hold in somebody’s house! I had not understood that it was to be in somebody’s house. So they proposed to cancel it. No apology. No regret. And of course it is all lies because Nelson’s reason was that some of them wanted to go on a demonstration to an American base I had never heard of. I just said sweetly, “Very well. Send me a note and we’ll consider another date.” One thing struck me, however. There may be two factions, one wanting the meeting, the other not! I had a word with Peter Mulligan. He can’t go to Sean Redmond’s conference.
Then, to put the top hat on it, at about 3 pm. I grew afraid that my electrical fire was failing, just when I’m out (or nearly out) of anthracite. It seemed red but was not as bright as usual. Soon it began to cool. I switched on the hall light. There was a glow, but weaker than usual. Then I switched on the music room light. That room is dark and the light would show. A faint glimmer gradually faded out. The radio would not work. At first I had thought of a fuse blown, but as all circuits were dead it must have been a general power failure. And indeed there were no lights in any of the shops opposite. I left the radio switched on and it began to work just before 4 pm. Of course this wasted the afternoon, as I had been checking the oil lamps. I must get in some paraffin.
I did not go out – it was cold and wet yet again – but worked on the paper.
April 20 Sunday: It was bright but still cold. The sun seems to have no heat in it. I have often wondered what was the cause of this phenomenon. There must be absorption somewhere. So I did not go out and got on with the paper and have five pages finished. Peter Mulligan told me Dónal MacAmhlaigh’s copy should be here tomorrow and Joe Deighan said the same. I also had a word with Michael Mortimer, Jack Bennett and Cathal. The results of Reagan’s outrage have been just what I expected. Joe Deighan had been at the Gralton commemoration and was full of it. He saw John Meehan there, but he was taken ill, Joe fears with some nervous disease [John Meehan was a member of the ITGWU Executive. He had been a member of the CA when living in England].Packie Earley also was there and I imagine Jim McDonald would be there but he doesn’t know him [These were former CA members, of different generations]. Gerald O’Reilly and Michael O’Riordan were there also. I learned from Noel Harris’s son that he has recovered and is back at work.
April 21 Monday: I finished most of the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy came – or some of it. But for Joe Deighan’s I must wait till tomorrow. I went into the city at mid-day, saw John Gibson for a moment and had lunch with Michael Mortimer. He has posted off a few of our conference invitations.
April 22 Tuesday: Still cold though mercifully dry. There has not been a single “spring day”. Only one day did it not feel positively chilly and that was not much stated. I did not go out, but finally finished the paper. A “letter to the editor” came from Bert Ward. It was in effect an accusation that the CA had attacked him and the CPGB. But it was founded on an article that Paul Gilhooley had written in “Unity” last October. So the little scamp has embroiled us with CP factions. I must have been away, and Jane Tate knew nothing of it. This must have been when he was cooking up his visits to Belfast. I wrote to Ward asking him for a photostat of the article. I must see it before tackling Gilhooley. In the evening Tony Coughlan telephoned, and RP sent me a paper [It is not known who RP was].
April 23 Wednesday: I did little in the day, but in the evening went to the CA meeting that was very poorly attended. Barney Morgan was speaking on “Easter Week” and had given out 100 leaflets. Yet there was only CDG [ie. himself], Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and one other. Clearly the subject did not appeal.
April 24 Thursday: I went to Dun Laoire where I was met by Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear. We met a Trade Union man in Drumcondra and he came to the house later.
April 25 Friday: I put the finishing touches to the night’s lecture [which was to be given at the Pearse Museum in St Enda’s, Rathfarnham], then met Tony Coughlan in town and we went to Bernardos [an Italian restaurant in Clare Street]. Then I went to see Sean Nolan about Metchnikov. Tony Coughlan did not think the Irish/USSR society was very capable of helping him. Kevin Higgins, Andy Higgins’s brother, was in the shop. Apparently Jimmy Stewart is still in Belfast and now expected in Dublin in September. Sean Nolan does not think he will be up to much as he doesn’t know the city but went so far as to say that if he did not come there would be a danger of things falling apart. I did not press him on this. Perhaps he had in mind the rift between Tom Redmond and Eoin Ó Murchú.
I then met Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan joined us later. His international conference boils down to bringing a few people from Britain to discuss action in Britain, and I remarked afterwards that he has been diverted from his original aim of making the Irish Labour Movement national to organising across the channel. He is a member of the Administrative Council of the Labour Party and I suppose is beginning to feel the pressure of the machine.
Later Joe Deighan and Dorothy picked me up (by accident) in St. Alphonsus Road and they stayed the night with Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear. They have had Bebhinn and Killian to dinner on Wednesday and remarked that though Killian is a “punk” with multicoloured hair, he is turning into quite a personable young man and was on his best behaviour [These were the two youngest of the MacLiam children].
Then we drove to St Enda’s for the meeting. The proceedings were opened by the Lord Mayor, Alderman Tunney TD (FF) and chaired by Professor McAleese, from Belfast, who is a rising hope of Fianna Fail, a pleasant young woman no older than the mid-thirties. Bríd Heussaff was there, Ó Glaisne, a good sprinkling of Fianna Fail, a handful of Republicans, but mostly Gaelic League people, including Maolachlann Ó Caollai. Raymond Crotty was there and had a drink with us afterwards. There were about 150 there, Mary McAleese is one of Paul O’Higgins’s assistants [This was during the brief period when Paul O’Higgins, whom Greaves knew from when O’Higgins was a TCD student in the 1940s, was Professor of Law at TCD]. What I was most pleased with, apart from the fact that what I said was well received, was the contact with Fianna Fail. I threw in a suggestion that has exercised me for some time, viz. that De Valera be “reinstated in the pantheon” and mentioned a statue. I told Joe Deighan it would strengthen neutralism in Fianna Fail while doing them good. There was some applause at the suggestion, especially when I compared De Valera to De Gaulle.
April 26 Saturday: In the evening Muriel Saidlear drove myself and Tony Coughlan to Leopardstown Hospital where we saw Peadar O’Donnell. He is clear in his head and dictates his memoirs. I asked him how he was. “I’m fed up! I’m told I’ll never walk again.” He is pretty decrepit and I wonder if he will be able to go home again. Then we went to see Nora Harkin, a great “bean an tighe” of a woman [ie.“Woman of the house”; Peadar O’Donnell lived in the home of Nora Harkin and her son for some years before his death. She was a leading figure in the Ireland-USSR Society, together with her friend Mrs “Bobby” Edwards]. She said the Ireland/USSR society would be delighted to help Metchnikoff. So that was an achievement. Later I went to Michael O’Riordan’s lecture, and who should be there but Malachy Kelly and his brother from Erdington, friends of Mark Clinton’s now back in Ireland. Ó’Glaisne was there also. There was some right-wing opposition to Michael O’Riordan and the platform was a trifle biased in favour of the left. Possibly some of them would not speak with Michael.
Incidentally Bobby Edwards, Frank’s widow, is in hospital with rheumatic arthritis and is down to 6 1/2 stone. A pity. I had a talk with O’Brien
(Medieval history, UCG) who used to be in the National Library.
April 27 Sunday: I took a taxi to Dun Laoire, and who should be on the boat but that young charmer Bebhinn, now (bless us) 23 years old and living in Leeds. So three of them are in England, somewhat to Cathal’s dissatisfaction. Conor is “on the dole”, but actually working full-time for “Militant” as a typesetter. We travelled together as far as Chester.
When I reached 124 Mount Road I found a letter from Bert Ward. He had written a letter for publication in the “Irish Democrat” accusing the Connolly Association of attacking himself and the CPGB – a confused rigmarole. He based some of it on the article allegedly published in “Unity“[ie. the weekly bulletin of the CPI]. I asked him for a copy of this intending to confront Paul Gilhooley with it and ask him to explain himself. A photostat was enclosed. One could hardly see anything to complain of in it and only somebody confused and sensitive would have taken umbrage. I certainly don’t intend to blow up about it, though it would have been better to be more circumspect.
April 28 Monday: I went to Ripley. On the whole things went well, though I had an hour’s wait at Crewe on the way out. However I have a cold, the weather is cold, and being dog tired I went to bed at 11.45.
April 29 Tuesday: I had a letter from George Davies wanting to see me, so I rang up and arranged a meeting tomorrow. There has been correspondence from the CPGB, which is showing signs of life, but I fear it will be a somewhat trashy existence. I imagine they will be exploiting a mood of “let’s get on with it”. Then I telephoned Jane Tate to ask if the meeting in London was still on and if so where it was. Paul Gilhooley had not sent me a notice. Jane said she thought he was unsatisfactory, and that Stella Bond was coming to the same opinion. But I fear that none of them are capable of leadership. Jane Tate can tell him what should be done, Stella can pay him, but Pat Bond is too turned in on himself to be able to influence anybody to action. So she thinks after the holidays he will have to go. I said to her then she must stash some money away, as we might have to pretend to be broke. She said she was doing it. All the same, I am not yet sure something could not be done with him, so we may give him one more chance. He is great on paper plans but has no notion how long it takes to put something into effect.
I wrote to that weak piss, Bert Ward. After all, he sent me the photostat. But what I said to him was in effect not to try to teach his grandmother to suck eggs. I also offered to have a discussion with him. Neither he nor Myant nor Irene Brennan ever sought my opinion on anything, though Jack Woddis did for brain-picking purposes [Woddis had been in charge of international affairs matters for the CPGB and Greaves had sought to influence him on the Irish question; see earlier volumes]. In the evening I got through to Michael Mortimer.
The weather was not so cold today. The trees are still as black as in winter, but some Rhododendron buds are beginning to open. The daffodils are still superb as there has been no sun or wind to destroy them.
April 30 Wednesday (London): The weather has definitely taken up – though for how long is another matter. I met George Davies at Lime Street. His campaign among trade unionists has fallen on evil days as Bernard O’Connell has resigned. His marriage broke up, then he broke his leg, and heaven knows what else. I said the Connolly Association might take an initiative next year. But I could not help reflecting, as I have reflected before when these loudly trumpeted initiatives are started, that if a tenth of the energy were given to the Connolly Association, that is there all the time, the object would be more easily accomplished. But he is very much the CP man and has within him all the arrogance that many of them have. Nobody but themselves can decide a political or still an ideological issue. Their committee has decided it and that is that.
I caught the 2.20 to Euston, where Paul Gilhooley met me. Then we went to the meeting in Marchmont Street. Five people were there – including Tadgh Egan, Jane Tate, Paul Gilhooley and myself. I am not pleased and Jane Tate with whom I stayed overnight says that Paul is a law unto himself and completely disregards Standing Committee decisions. She thinks the trouble with him is likely to increase rather than diminish.
May 1 Thursday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool. The train broke down at Crewe and was half an hour late. Another flop of a meeting too. The Connolly Association AGM took place. The sole attendance was Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and myself. John Gibson and Veronica came late, and then the Finnertys came along. So there was not much change out of that! However, the weather was warm – in the sixties – and the Myrrhis odorata has sprung into life in a couple of days.
May 2 Friday: Another warm day, though I did not go out. I am putting Mechnikov in touch with Nora Harkin A letter came from Clive Rawlings who sells the paper in Bradford, wanting a meeting. I also wrote to Sean Redmond as Pat Bond is willing to go to his conference. Jane Tate rang drawing attention to more nonsense from Paul Gilhooley.
May 3 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 11 am. train to Euston for the Standing Committee, which began at 2.30. Those present were Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue and Flann Campbell. Gerry Curran says he has a filthy cold – and so have I – and we haven’t seen Philip Rendle for months. The South Londons, disgruntled by Paul Gilhooley’s action in changing the venue of the Gaughan concert without consulting them, are on strike, and the absurd rift between Pat Bond and Maureen Dillane continues, with two nominal South London branches. I never saw the Connolly Association in such a state. On the other hand, we never had anything like so much money. Pat Bond’s turnover was £4000 last month, and Pat O’Donohue and I were discussing how to increase expenditure to avoid making too much taxable profit.
I had a quick lunch with Paul Gilhooley. I had persuaded Pat Bond to go to Dublin for Sean Redmond’s conference. “He doesn’t want to go,” says Paul Gilhooley, who wants to go himself. “Well”, I thought, but didn’t say, “He’s going.” When a letter from Coventry students invited me to take part in “workshops” in October, I said, “There’s only one man for this job and that’s Paul Gilhooley.” The Wolfe Tone Society asked for a speaker for their Connolly commemoration. Paul Gilhooley is prejudiced against Sinn Fein and does not want to co-operate with them in any way. Indeed he has quietly sabotaged our relations. But I judged his desire to display himself on a platform would outweigh any consideration of what the platform was; so I proposed him, and he bit. Once he has been committed, well and good. When we came to the point on the agenda when we considered a commemoration of the International Brigade, Pat O’Donohue gave a knowing smile. Paul Gilhooley had hijacked the plan and was making arrangements in Brent, where he claims to have a branch. I asked him about this and he admitted jumping the gun. I proposed deferring it till December, but Paul has done nothing about the paper. But if the money continues to flow in, perhaps something can be done. I returned via Chester to avoid the football hooligans.
May 4 Sunday: The weather has cooled again. I found I had the worst cold since I was in Limerick a few years ago. I have almost lost my voice, though I don’t feel bad. I stayed in all day and read Peter Medawar’s autobiography [Brazilian-British biologist regarded as the father of transplant medicine because of his discoveries regarding acquired immunity]. I had also bought the selected letters of Wilfred Owen and was trying to decide whether it was possible for him to have been in Birkenhead during the war. I decided it was, but there was not a scrap of evidence for it. But how far he was known as a poet then and whether it was likely that Fearon would approach him remains a mystery [It is not known who Fearon was].
A thing I didn’t note yesterday relates to the MP Atkinson who has been “de-selected” (should it be “de-elected?) in favour of a “coloured” candidate, if that is the vogue word. Paul Gilhooley rang him up asking if he would speak in favour of the defence of the nation state and against the EEC. He was very hesitant, “We’ve got to be very careful” etc. etc. Pat O’Donohue thought he was looking for a peerage, or some other favour which only that rat Kinnock could bestow. Incidentally, during this conversation I sensed – I use no more definite a word – that Paul Gilhooley was getting slightly nearer to us than hitherto. I hope it is so. Possibly this was helped by my attempts to find a role for him.
May 5. Monday: I didn’t go out but did a bit on Flann Campbell’s MS. It will need a great deal of work. I have a filthy cold.
May 6 Tuesday: I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. Michael Mortimer offered him a letter from the “Andino” telling him that we had all been overcharged last Christmas and talking of making amends. Apparently the manager did not tell the owner of our booking and ran the thing for his own benefit. But Joe O’Grady could not read it and told us that today he was registered blind. He can of course see his way about and I gathered that the doctor who registered him was doing him a good turn to enable him to get certain benefits. I wrote to Sean Redmond and Tony Coughlan.
May 7 Wednesday: Cool showery weather continued. The cold is clearing slightly. I went into the city for cash and made some purchases. I felt a trifle depressed in the evening, partly the result of the cold, and partly the result of the insistence of the governmental lunatics throughout the world to persist with their absurd policies of nuclear fission, even after the results have been seen. Paul Gilhooley rang up to say he could not find a speaker for the South-East London – he has four more days to look. The London CA is becoming a poor politically impoverished thing! But in Liverpool it is not so bad, for Brian Stowell and I can cover technical things. Joe O’Grady, while not a good speaker, can give a talk, and now Michael Mortimer’s friend and former tutor, Alan Morton 2, has transferred his course to Celtic studies and is reading hard. Michael Mortimer says he hasn’t enough knowledge.
I went through the selected edition of Wilfred Owen’s letters in hopes of finding a space when he might have appeared at Beechcroft, as was suggested to me fifty years ago [ie. at his old grammar school, the Birkenhead Institute]. There are references to the Wirral and parts of Liverpool, which the editor gets wrong, also converting Milton Road into Milton Street. There are spaces but no evidence. He must have been a terrible “mother’s boy”, but he grows less repulsive as you get used to him. Incidentally the exercise clarified something that had puzzled me. I recall many years ago being taken on holiday to Redcar, which CEG [ie. his father] went to because it was “bracing” (ie. persistently cold). We changed at Northallerton and I had a sight delightful to a young schoolboy of a GNR train, possibly the Flying Scotsman, tearing through the station at 60 mph. – that was fast in those days. But why should we change at Northallerton? I could never work it out. Reading of Owen’s posting to Ripon, it came to me in a flash. I saw Ripon Cathedral through the railway carriage window. I also remember Harrowgate. I looked up an old atlas and found that there used to be a railway line that went from Leeds through Harrowgate and Ripon to Northallerton. CEG must have chosen a route that avoided York in order to see places he otherwise would not see. So that little tiny puzzle was solved. It must have been in 1923 or 24.
May 8 Thursday: Mostly a wet showery day. When for a few minutes the sun shone, it was pleasant – after all May 8th equals August 6th! But of course all the heat being showered down is being absorbed. I went to vote. And I cut a magnificent cauliflower, reared on KNO3 [ie. potassium nitrate]. I hope it is not radioactive. I wondered whether there was iodine in it and thought of immersing it in dilute ammonia. But how quickly would it react in the cold? So I left it a couple of hours in a bucket of water. I don’t know what form the iodine would be in – caesium iodate? Ammonia would be no good for that. I never saw such a mass of flowers as are on the blackcurrants. They also were given potassium nitrate. I had a word with Gerry Curran. He has been off work with his bronchitis.
I told him about Paul Gihooley, but he won’t be able to go. It struck me that Paul will not go to these republican meetings because he doesn’t feel able for them. He likes groups of youngsters where he can play the big fellow, but won’t admit it.
May 9 Friday: I was very pleased with the election results and cooked myself a chicken, and risked the cauliflower after immersion in water for a couple of hours [In May 1985 UK Labour secured the largest share of the vote in the UK local council elections for the first time since 1981]. I went so far to test for iodine, but of course what form it would be in I don’t know, or in what quantities. The result in Birkenhead is a “hung” council. That probably means I have won the battle of the dustbins. The contractors who took over from the council have consistently left my bin outside the house [ie. outside of the garden wall], and despite many complaints the practice continued till three weeks ago. I judged the municipal elections a good time for action, and wrote to a candidate (Williams, who was returned) The company sent me a representative. For two weeks all was well. Then the old practice began again. This time I wrote mentioning the fact that Williams had told me it was the hardest thing on earth to keep the company to its contract and surmising that they couldn’t keep their employees to theirs. So another representative came yesterday and made many promises. Williams says that if Labour is returned they will end the contract. So they’ll want to behave. I did little but finish Flann Campbell’s MS. He will have to re-write it. There is an amateurishness in it. The winter was wet and gloomy. Another miserable year. I have done nothing in the garden.
May 10 Saturday: The day dawned wet and gloomy, though not cold. I rang Brian Stowell, who agreed to address the NUS [National Union of Students] on the 27th. Michael Mortimer agreed to send out a notice. All these people are not exactly power houses. In town I got a copy of the “Morning Star” and I see the CA is advertised as participating in the republican meeting under the name of Bob Doyle! [Former International Brigader and a CA member from the 1940s]. I didn’t know he was back in it. The damned nuisance having to watch everything again after all these years. Paul Gilhooley will work, but you never know if he won’t run off with the political spoons. This was the 20th anniversary of Phyllis’s death [ie. his sister]. Amazing how time goes.
May 11 Sunday: Another damp showery cold day. Nothing has been done in the garden, and there is all the appearance of another disastrous year. And the clouds are so thick that every evening it is almost dark at 8 o’clock. I got a few letters written, however, and felt more like doing things, as the cold is rapidly clearing. I wrote to Ron Bellamy, Tony Coughlan, John Boyd, Pat O’Donohue, Joe Deighan and Declan Bree. We have just got to break out of this impasse with the “Democrat”. I have to look for a new (and young) contributors, as the thing is getting stereotyped. Pat Bond sent me a page early – but laid out like a monkey’s arse.
May 12 Monday: Another cool, mostly cloudy day. I received a letter from Tony Coughlan in the morning. He has gone to open Dorothea’s conference in Halle [ie. One of the biennial conferences on “Ireland: Culture and Society” organised in Halle, German Democratic Republic, by Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze]. The younger generation are great gallivanters! But he tells me Peadar O’Donnell is in a bad way and he does not think he is long for this world. He went to see him on Thursday evening and he is getting weak. I decided not to go away as I had intended this week – I might have to go to Dublin for one thing, and the weather being as bad as it is, I’m hardly missing much.
I bought a copy of the report of the conference on the changes of CP line in 1939, when the war broke out. Most of them have followed that rat Johnstone into justifying the Pollitt/Campbell position [ie. that progressives in Britain should support the Government when the war broke out. The opposite view, taken by R. Palme Dutt on the CPGB Executive and which Greaves himself shared, was that the German versus Anglo-French war was an inter-imperialist war, which progressives should not support.The CPGB policy line changed when Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941]. All the weak flabsters show themselves up – for example Idris Cox and Jack Woddis. There are however a few who uphold the position I took up – which (though I did not know it at the time) both R. Palme Dutt and Frank Bright supported and (amazingly) Dave Prescott, now a fierce “Euro”. I must set down my own experience at this time. It had not struck me before – why, I don’t know – that these events were the origin of the tension between R. Palme Dutt and Pollitt over subsequent years. I think Gallacher [ie. Willie Gallacher] held an intermediate position, though this did not come out in any of the contributions I managed to read.
May 13 Tuesday: When the telephone rings at an unusual time I expect bad news. It rang at 10 am. this morning and Muriel Saidlear came on the line, and as I expected it was to say that Peadar O’Donnell had died at 3.30 am. peacefully it seems. She did not know when the funeral would be. I rang Jane Tate, but she was out, so I spoke to Paul Gilhooley. He rang back to say that Jane wanted to go to the funeral. Later Muriel Saidlear rang to say it would not be before Friday or Saturday. So I rang Jane. She said that Paul Gilhooley had told her that Robin Page Arnot was dead and she had on the strength of that sent an obituary to the “Morning Star”. Paul had wanted to notify the “Morning Star” of Peadar O’Donnell, but I told him not to. It was not his business. But Jane Tate has walked into the very thing I tried to save Paul Gilhooley from. She doesn’t want to go to Dublin at all. She had heard that Page Arnot had only a day or two and in my opinion Paul Gilhooley has passed the messages on correctly but having Page Arnot in her mind she has mis-heard. Now she must ring up and stop the obituary from appearing until he isdead.
Muriel Saidlear was telling me of her difficulties in finding out about the funeral. She had rung Ó’Brádaigh [it is not known who Ó Brádaigh was] who had told her there wasn’t going to be a funeral at all, as this was Peadar’s wish. “But there must be something.” Later Nora Harkin told her it would be a cremation. And on top of it all Joe O’Farrell is dead. The heavens are certainly crashing down.
May 14 Wednesday: There was an early phone call from Gerry Curran and another from Muriel Saidlear saying that Peadar O’Donnell’s funeral is going to be private, so Ó’Brádaigh was right. I am not sorry at not having to go to Dublin. but I’d have imagined it would have been a great occasion. However, it is as he wished and he would be bound to be contrary to the last.
May 15 Thursday: I spent the day writing appreciations of Peadar O’Donnell and also personal letters to try to get somebody along to the conference on the 31st. I went into Birkenhead to buy stationery and post letters. I spoke to Paul Salveson and Jane Tate. The bay tree is flowering.
May 16 Friday: Not much today. I wrote quite a few letters and arranged with Michael Mortimer to go to Haslingden on Tuesday. Pat Bond telephoned.
May 17 Saturday: Quite a deal of material came from Paul Gilhooley, together with quite a sensible letter. I wonder if he is learning! He is young enough, and if he does he might yet make a success. He claims to have got a group of young people together. I have been puzzling over how to attract the youth for some time. I would think Roy Johnston would have more ideas in this field than Tony Coughlan, though some of them might be daft ideas! I have so much copy this month that I am wondering whether to run a twelve pager. I did not go out.
May 18 Sunday: I did not go out, though the weather was not too bad. I had a word with London about the larger paper.
May 19 Monday: Again I stayed at home though the weather was quite tolerable – in the mid-sixties I would say. Jane Tate told me Robin Page Arnot is dead at the age of 95. I arranged with Ripley for a twelve-page paper.
May 20 Tuesday: I worked on the paper in the day. At 6 pm. Michael Mortimer came and drove me to Haslingden where the IDL [ie. Irish Democratic League] club committee happened to be meeting. They were agreeable to entertaining us on June 29th. We called in to see Michael and Patrick Cruise. Patrick, who is 75, has gone to look very old. Michael was Chris Robinson’s election agent in Bacup! Later we returned to the club and Paul Salveson arrived.
May 21 Wednesday: I worked on the paper in the day but went to the branch meeting tonight. It was well attended. Roy Frodsham was there. John Nettleton spoke about the Robert Tressell museum. Walsh was there. He is a Belfast Protestant who came over here young. He had attended Connolly Association functions in London. A letter came from Cathal giving Behbinn’s address. He says Helga is 60! What is her secret of looking 21? We decided at the meeting to do the excursion to Haslingden.
May 22 Thursday: I finished and sent off the paper, except for one or two small blanks, so that was that. Jack Askin’s group some time ago rang up and asked me to speak to them on Sunday. I agreed but heard nothing. Tonight I rang up Jim Arnison, who knew nothing about it, but thought it might be on. He gave Jack Askin’s number. When I rang him he said they must have made a mistake as somebody was coming from Lancaster.
This is always the way with the Irish question. The British Left are saturated with chauvinism and do not carry out ordinary courtesies where Ireland or the Irish are concerned. Well, they can wait till the autumn now, if they want to go ahead with it. George Davies rang me up a day or two ago saying he would be in Liverpool tomorrow. So I arranged to see him and Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady also.
After Monday’s warmth, Tuesday gave thunderstorms – not over Liverpool, but we heard them in Haslingden – and yesterday it turned cold again. Nevertheless, the crab is out and the lilac beginning and the bay tree coming to its best.
May 23 Friday: The cool showery weather goes on. There is neither plum nor damson blossom. But the crab is at its best, and the bay and holly both in flower, but the holly, being male, has no berries. I virtually finished the paper and worked on the paper for the conference. Then I met George Davies at Lime Street, and we discussed a high-powered conference next year. He told me that Phil Flynn had given him a copy of a document that proved that John Freeman was an admirer of the RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary], with whom he and some other Trade Unionists had had a discussion. I am not in the slightest surprised. He said he would send me a copy.
May 24 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I took the 9.56 to Euston and walked to the office and had a quick bite with Paul Gilhooley. Then we had the committee meeting, with Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue and Sean Burke. Gerry Curran has gone to see one of his sons, probably Conor. Jane Tate announced that we had received another £10,000 from the Hardy legacy and Pat O’Donohue has become worried lest the company make a profit, so far the time being Jane will hold it. Nevertheless Pat Bond says his trade is falling off, and he thinks it is competition from “Green Ink” in Islington, who really managed to launch themselves during Noel Gordon’s inglorious spell of office. On the whole I got the impression that Paul Gilhooley is learning after all. He has now been with us a year and there are signs of development. But the paper sales are almost non-existent. I returned on the 7.25. Jane Tate will go to Page Arnot’s funeral on Wednesday.
May 25 Sunday: Although it was still chilly, the afternoon was not too bad and at last I got a few hours in the garden and cleared about half the West bed. I think I will sow marrows in open ground instead of bothering with pots. If I can get the marrows and the runner beans started, then I can put in the cauliflower and beetroots and I’ll have something. I want to get a couple of weeks’ holiday in June. I did not go out.
May 26 Monday: Though chilly in the morning and evening, today gave a warm afternoon. I did not go out but got in quite a few hours in the garden and practically finished preparing the West bed. Not much more is needed than to weed the strawberry plot.
May 27 Tuesday: I went to Ripley, and though it was a twelve-page paper, all went well. The train times have all been altered, and do not seem to correspond to the timetables. I had to go all the way on local trains. Then the 5.09 was 25 minutes late at Crewe. I was going for the slow to Liverpool, when an announcement was made that a Penzance train had arrived for Liverpool, also half an hour late. Then came an announcement that “owing to a diversion” this would not be stopping at Runcorn, and passengers should change at Hartford. I presumed that we would have to go to Lime Street via Warrington but was surprised that we retained an electric locomotive. As it was, there was no diversion. There was a stop at Hartford, and it stopped at Runcorn as well. But it could have been worse!
May 28 Wednesday: In the morning Ron Bellamy rang arranging to see me in Leeds tomorrow. Then Tony Coughlan rang saying he can’t get a berth and is coming on Friday. Then I rang Jane Tate and there seems to be accommodation muddles there, and Michael Mortimer can’t accommodate John Boyd. I think I will book him in at the Shaftesbury. On Saturday it was reported that we had another £10,000 from the Hardy legacy, so it can be afforded. As yesterday I got quite a deal done, spoke to Michael Mortimer again and Joe O’Grady, went into Birkenhead to make purchases and did some clearing up. It was dry but very chilly and I did nothing in the garden.
May 29 Thursday (Leeds): I did a lot of clearing up, then took the train to Leeds, where I met Ron Bellamy and we had a meal. He is still on the Yorkshire District Political Committee and is a trifle emotional about the state of affairs. He was “censured” last week for some trifling publication misdemeanour. He says the situation is very difficult – which I agree it is – and complicated, regarding which I must be unaware of the complexities. He is in touch with Ramelson, Rothstein and Bill Alexander [Leading CPGB figures or former figures]. The Campaign group are going to get out a “theoretical journal”. He thinks the state of the CP is a CIA job. So do I. But he names the man he thinks is responsible – George Matthews. It was apparently he who appointed Jacques. I am not convinced. Matthews seems to have spent a long time doing hard work before he decided to join the enemy. This time I think it is more complicated than that.
Later Enda MacCarthy met me at the station and we went to that hideous rambling building that houses the University. Leeds on the other hand is quite a pleasant city, much more so than Manchester. There were about 20 at the meeting, including Mrs MacCarthy, a Galway woman, who is glorious. They tell me Wymark-Hoar is still around but in York [The character of Greaves’s connection with him is not known]. They were quite a reasonable crowd. I stayed the night at MacCarthy’s. Mrs MacCarthy is that peculiar Irish combination of devoutness and radicalism. I think the husband is dead and the two daughters live with her.
May 30 Friday (Liverpool): Mrs MacCarthy showed me round “the estate”. She has apples, black currants and gooseberries, strawberries and raspberries and a great variety of flowers. Enda drove me to the station and I returned to Liverpool. At about 6.30 Tony Coughlan arrived. I tackled him about the CA history. I do not believe he has the time to do it, and the 50th anniversary is 1988. He is reluctant to pass it on to somebody else. But he is a man of action rather than contemplation, and if there is something to be done he must be doing it – what is known as a “good fault”. He brought me a copy of his book.
May 31 Saturday: We went into town at 12 noon and met Ron Bellamy and John Boyd almost simultaneously at Lime Street, where Joe O’Grady came also. There were only about 20 at the conference. They included Michael Mortimer, Barney Morgan, Jim Walsh, the Belfast would-be writer from Liscard, Jane Tate’s friend Bert Chambers, a boy from the New Communist Party, Barry O’Doherty, Harry Evans and a few more. Ron Bellamy in my opinion showed the confusion of the left. He seemed to think that the “economic law” that size was essential to “modern technology,” and thus small nations must specialise, if they wanted it, could justify handing over decisions in this field to supranational organisations elected by nobody. He took it for granted that everybody benefited from “modern technology”. John Boyd gave a devastating account of the effects of the EEC which impressed the audience. Vollomeare, whom I thought a bit of a “Euro” but may not be, asked why it was that people who led the fight against joining the EEC now said, “We’re in it now; we must accept it” when its disastrous consequences were to be seen – a pertinent question. Pat Doherty was quite definite. There was no alternative to getting out. Later we showed John Boyd the water-front and went to the Italian restaurant in Temple Court – I think that is the name of the street – which was very good; I would say better than the Cypriot, and with a huge menu. The company was CDG [ie. Greaves himself], Tony Coughlan, Michael Mortimer and John Boyd.
June 1 Sunday: It rained and drizzled all day, except for an hour in the evening in which Tony Coughlan and I went to the Travellers’ Rest for a drink. The country is at its best and we walked through Storeton Woods until the rain drove us indoors. I got quite a deal of clearing up done, so that I am beginning to “gain on it”.
June 2 Monday: The rain and drizzle went on till late afternoon, so that I did not go out, even as much as yesterday. And nobody could describe it as warm. I got rid of a few letters. This man in Connemara, Ó Ciosáin, who spoke to me at the Pearse commemoration and said he wrote to me from Brittany in 1983 (I presume Noel Gordon lost the letter) sent a copy of it. He is a grandson of Sean Beaumont and asked me if I knew anything of him. I looked up Beaumont and found an account of a visit I paid to his widow on 23 June 1969. There was quite a lot of information, so I wrote it out and sent it him. He is writing a book in Irish about the paper “An tÉireanach” which Beaumont, Tom O’Flaherty and others published in the thirties. Sean Beaumont was connected with Ben Farrington, R. M. Henry, Sean Murray and Frank Ryan. I must tell Flann Campbell about him.
June 3 Tuesday (London): I caught the one o’clock train to London and saw Pat Bond, Paul Gilhooley and Jane Tate in the office. I had a meal with Paul and the impression repeated itself that he is beginning to get the hang of things. Apparently there were about 30 at Tony Coughlan’s meeting last night. I saw Jane Tate and Michael Brennan and we took a taxi to Hackney where a councillor I had met before took the chair. There were something over 20 there, including Chris Maguire, who was palpably pleased when I referred to our days in Nottingham. The CA secretary Kieran (or Ciaran, I have not seen it spelled) Corcoran seemed all right. So Paul Gilhooley seems to have pulled something off here as well.
This morning, incidentally, George Davies rang and I got the impression he was jumping the gun with our conference and told him as much. “They all do it,” said Jane Tate, referring to NCPs, CPs and other CPs. She told me of the body-snatching that preceded R. Page Arnot’s funeral, and how Scargill was there but not asked to speak. Mick McGahey took the chair. Many of the local people and such as Rothstein refused to go. Instead there is to be a memorial meeting on Friday. Jane Tate recently met Bill Alexander and Ron Harris, the socialist who has surfaced again. Bill Alexander has had his branch de-registered and declines to re-register. He wrote a very bitter letter to the “Morning Star”. I had a talk with Chris Maguire this evening and stayed with Jane Tate.
June 4 Wednesday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool, Jane Tate almost miraculously catching me at Euston and asking whether I would speak at the memorial meeting to Page Arnot. I said I thought not. It would be too much, but I agreed to send a message. There was a letter from Fr Morrissey who is working on J.J. Hughes, asking for some information. He told me that it was he who enrolled Sean Murray into the Socialist Party of Ireland. It seems the ITGWU have lost their minutes again. I thought they were all to be put in the National Library. But perhaps my bold Francis Devine is up to his tricks on behalf of the “Labour History Society”. I spent most of the evening reading Donald Clarke’s life of J.B.S. Haldane. He constantly breaks chronology and consequently you don’t know where you are. The story of a man’s life must be told as he lived it. Time only goes one way. He also wrote a life of Einstein, which I will try to get.
June 5 Thursday: It was bright today, but I doubt if the temperature reached 55F. I had thought of cycling into Birkenhead but decided that the wind was too cold, so took the bus. I posted a message for the R. Page Arnot meeting and one or two other things. I wrote congratulating Paul Gilhooley on the Hackney meeting. He has of course spent money like water and was yesterday at home practising on the banjo (I am inclined to this spelling for the meaning rehearsing, as it surely derives from the noise.) He is running a concert tonight and fancies himself as a performer and talks unjustifiably disparagingly of Ken Keable, as I would not by any means judge him as powerful himself.
In the early evening Alan Morton rang up. He has been in good health, but Freda has had influenza and recurrent colds. John Morton has got a few months’ work but is now 42 and not well placed. Alisoun is better but not powerful.
Looking at the pallid sky this evening I am wondering if that damned volcano in Alaska hasn’t thrown a screen between us and the sun. I wrote to Fr Morrissey of the “College for Industrial Relations”. He is writing the life history of J.J. Hughes, and I advised him to contact Francis Devine for the missing minutes. He may have taken them away to make the wonderful photocopy he was going to give me but that never came.
June 6 Friday: It was brighter but still very cool, and apart from going to the shops I did not go out. I wrote quite a few letters.
June 7 Saturday: It was cloudy and cold. I doubt if the temperature touched 52F. I went into Birkenhead. A letter came from George Davies which I replied to telling him he is rushing things. Pat Bond rang up to say that the launching of Paddy Byrne’s pamphlet went off well last night. It never rains but it pours. After all those years’ penury we have more money than we ever had and Jane Tate says we’re being demoralised by it, as Paul Gilhooley spends it like water. But I disagreed and all we need is proper controls which we never bothered about when we had nothing to spend. And indeed the Connolly Festival taken as a whole made a profit, thanks to Gaughan’s concert.
June 8 Sunday: After a chilly start the temperature took up and rose, I would guess, into the middle sixties. I judged it would be warm enough for germination, so I sowed runner beans, broad beans, cauliflower, coriander and rocket. Indeed I got a whole day in the garden, did some clearing up and cut down some sturdy saplings that had availed of last year’s inactivity (enforced by constant rain) to get 1 1/2″ trunks on them. I spoke to Gerry Curran in the evening. He thinks Paul Gilhooley is improving.
I did not post the letter to George Davies. I thought of all kinds of troubles his nonsense could cause and decided to act rather than talk. Meanwhile let him await a reply for a wee while. I told the Standing Committee last Saturday of my discussion with him and proposed to hold a preliminary discussion with individual Trade Unionists in November. Then he told me he had already been in correspondence with the Labour Committee on Ireland on the basis that we were calling a conference, and this before we had announced it. I protested on the telephone about this, and now he is pursuing his conception of our conference. I am going to keep him at arms length for a bit. I had enough of this nonsense from the old CP without accepting it from the new. They are exactly like the IRA. They think they are a government!
June 9 Monday: The weather was once again cool and unsettled and I did not go out except to the shops. I had a talk with Joe O’Grady, Michael Mortimer and Barney Morgan about the Haslingden trip and a letter came from Donleavy in Abingdon saying he would be there.
June 10 Tuesday: Again cold and wet except for a spell when I cycled down to the Post Office. Jane Tate rang in the evening and said the Page Arnot memorial meeting was very encouraging. Ken Gill was there and spoke, also Arthur Scargill. Bill Alexander was there and John Gibson had come from Liverpool. My message was read out to applause. Then last night she went to the “Morning Star” meeting. She said Gordon McLennan was most vindictive, describing the “Morning Star” as the “gutter press”. She had never heard him so bad, and he was solidly booed. His acolytes were bad enough, but not that bad. She thinks the vote went the right way and thinks that might also happen in Manchester but is not so certain about Scotland. I had a brief word with Pat Bond and Paul Gilhooley.
June 11 Wednesday (Plas Newydd): The weather forecast was good today but not tomorrow, so I seized the opportunity, took the midday train to Llanwrtyd, and stayed the night at Plas Newydd. There was no incident of note, except the apparent improvement in the weather.
June 12 Thursday (Dolgoch): There was light drizzle until 9 am., but then it cleared, and was sunny with a South wind. I cycled to Dolgoch. The two German boys De Roe often spoke of were there. And a party from a private school in Bucks came later. They were absolutely unexceptionable. The contrast with the unruly, undisciplined, semi-literate pupils of state schools was unbelievable. There is no question that parents who pay money for private education spend it wisely. To give these children the gift of self-control is to give them the gift of self-confidence. Not of course that I agree with confining these gifts to an elite, but I am glad to see them conferred.
Of the two German boys – and they couldn’t be more sharply contrasted – one, the younger, about 23, speaks good English, the other not so good. The first is just a normal youngster, a carpenter by trade and very skilled, De Roe told me. The other has a beard and long hair tied into a pig-tail of sorts. The first wears jeans and a tee shirt, the other jeans held up with braces, but appears otherwise attired at intervals. Both are pleasant enough. They hail from West Berlin.
Changes are afoot in the YHA. The secretaries have been turned into “managers” by the industrial whizz-kid in charge at St. Albans. Matthews has been told not to visit hostels but to sit in his office and manage. The HQ is to be moved to Swansea but following a minor revolt a new office (possibly as well) is to be sought in Cardiff. Twenty new national posts have been created at great cost. De Roe has been told to use less anthracite and keep his cats out! And the orange cat is dead.
De Roe told me excitedly about “the worst thing that happened in the history of Tregaron.” Did I remember the clogmaker by the bridge? I did. Well, one of his sons aged 20 was afraid of a much bigger young fellow aged 17. After a dispute at a “disco” he walked a mile or two to a shop his father had outside the town (I can’t think where) and bought an instrument used for slicing wood. He stabbed the 17-year-old nine times in the back and was taken up for murder and given life. The night of the murder some youths tried to set fire to the clogmaker’s shop. They were all apprehended. The clogmaker, who was a Welsh nationalist, refused to prosecute and said it was understandable. But he did not stay in Tregaron. He sold his premises and moved to Cardiff. The murdered boy was an only child. The clogmaker has a younger son.
The only other visitor was a cyclist I immediately knew there was something funny about. He turned out to be a Jehovah’s Witness. But he did not venture to argue his case, except for a half-hearted ignoratio elenchi [a logical fallacy consisting in apparently disproving something not asserted].
June 13 Friday: There was no rain and the weather grew warmer. Quite a few cyclists arrived – De Roe said more than usual. From Birmingham.
June 14 Saturday: De Roe showed me the cracks in the South-East corner of the building. The builders said the structure “would never move”. I said I thought it was not built on bedrock but on morainic rubble. In the evening some people from Bristol brought supplies for the hostel shop. Cardiff do not bother about it now. The wife was an odd sort of woman who played a tape recorder. Her choice was “sugary classical” and she had a grá for the plagal cadence simply decorated. She had tapes of a boy singer Alun Williams, a youngster with a good voice, who sang the old Welsh Calvinist repertory, Handel, Mendelssohn. Good voice or bad, I find boys lack emotional power and produce a perfect “lesson” but have no personality to put into it. Then there were “Welsh airs”, which included “God bless the Prince of Wales.” I remember this years ago when I was learning the piano and had “Irish airs”, “Scottish songs” etc. I always felt “God Bless the Prince of ‘Wales” was an Englishman’s song, though of course I had no conception of the politics of the thing. And then we had “Ar hyd y nos” [Welsh song, “All Through the Night”]sung in both languages, to make sure of double sales. She wasn’t a bad faggot but I found this cultural pollution a shade insipid.
I would say the temperature reached 75F today, and in the evening more cyclists came. De Roe wondered if they are being discouraged in the hostels further East. I went for a walk and found what I took to be Orchis maculata but found hard to identify. It grew no more than 6″ high and was not well developed. I wondered if it were really O. Mascula but had no means of deciding. The leaves of both are liable to be spotted. There were large patches of bluebells on the mountain’s side, and I hazarded the guess that these were survivals from the time this valley was covered with deciduous trees – and indeed I remember it that way from about 1948 or thereabouts.
June 15 Sunday: Another brilliant fine day. Some surveyors from London came last night and remained. There was a prospect of some American girls coming and they sat outside in deckchairs as a reception party, even going the length of putting on long trousers and genteel coats. They seem to have been disappointed because the girls turned out to be Australians for one thing, veterinary surgeons for another, and for a third, the air was thick with midges which De Roe assured me will be here all summer.
June 16 Monday: Another fine day, but with a high mist, probably dust. The surveyors remained. They were cockneys with not a spark of interest in anything. They spent the evening drinking in Tragaron. So did the German boys. I thought there would be a thunderstorm in the evening. It turned cool but did not rain. The elder German returned home. More cyclists came.
June 17 Tuesday: There was rain in the morning and it was cold with a North wind. But gradually the clouds broke and the afternoon was pleasant enough. More cyclists came, three from London, but once again without a single topic of conversation. De Roe remarked on English emptiness. He had been moving furniture and discovered a handwritten document giving the history of Dolgoch. I copied out a summary.
June 18 Wednesday (Liverpool): It was reasonably fine again and I cycled into Llanwrtyd and took the train to Salop, Crewe, Chester and Rock Ferry. There was a mass of correspondence.
June 19 Thursday: I only went to the shops. Tony Coughlan rang saying he was going straight to London. George Davies rang up and I told him I thought there had been misunderstandings (I could have added “on his part”) and that I would write to him. I spoke to Jane Tate and Paul Gilhooley.
June 20 Friday: I didn’t do much – a little in the garden and some purchases in Birkenhead, where I met the big man who lives in Preston, Pat Macauley. He must have been in the CP and talked affectionately of old Bill O’Toole who used to pick up the “Daily Worker” at Woodside and if they were late would declare, “There you are. More sabotage in Liverpool!”
June 21 Saturday (London): I caught the 8.10 for Euston and went to the conference [This Connolly Association conference was on the Single European Act which established the EC/EU single market, with widespread use of qualified majority voting for adopting supranational European law. This EC treaty was being put through the UK Parliament at the time and was to be introduced in the Irish Dáil before the end of the year. The defence of the Nation State as the principal locus of political democracy was a key theme of the conference]. Tony Donaghey could not attend, so I had to be chairman as well as everything else. There were about 30 there, but people who should have been there were not, including Tom Durkin. Christine Crawley was very good and told me her maiden name was Quinn and her father was from Co. Wicklow. Connie Seafort was very impressed and said it was politics of a higher order than what she was accustomed to. Andy Higgins spoke well, and all in all it was a reasonable success.
We went for a meal at the Cosmoba [an Italian restaurant in Bloomsbury] and Chris Maguire joined us there later. I stayed the night with him. He told me he was now 58! It must be over 30 years since we were tub-thumping in Nottingham.
June 22 Sunday (Liverpool): The pattern of life was well illustrated today. Some time ago Chris Maguire located the grave of Bronterre O’Brien in Abney Park cemetery. He had a plaque unveiled in Islington and today must have been his second or third annual commemoration. I was to give the “oration”. It wasn’t long before I found myself being “presented” with things, Alan Bold’s book on C.M. Grieve [ie. the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid], a brochure about the cemetery, and a very useful publication by Stan Shipley (who was there) on Victorian radicalism[ie. the book “Club- Life and Socialism in mid-Victorian London”].
The proceedings were opened by the Mayor of Hackney, in whom I got a faint odour of Ian Mikardo [Left-wing Labour MP], very solemn, very polite. And who should be in the thick of it but an impeccably grey-suited Councillor Gery Lawless, whom I remember screaming at George Brown in Hyde Park and breaking up the Labour Party May Day meeting. He also published an attack on myself and Sean Redmond whom he saw sitting in the restaurant of the Liverpool train as we left Euston. All that is past. No jeans and leather jackets now. Incidentally he has worn well and doesn’t look a day over forty. And to cap it, wasn’t there Fred O’Shea, well enough able to accommodate himself to the recipient of compliments. He told me he had cancer, but “intended to fight it,” and then made some kind of peace overture followed by a going-away, “You threw me out of the Connolly Association but I can’t think why.” Well, he must have forgotten. Of course I spoke him fair. Andy Higgins, Jack Kennedy and Peter Walsh were there, but none of Paul Gilhooley’s wonderful new members. But of course they are the youth. There were also several Borough councillors I have met at different times, and finally Ernie Roberts, now grey as a badger like the rest of us [Ernie Roberts,1912-1994, former Assistant General Secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union]. Chris Maguire lifted me to Euston and I caught the 4 pm.
June 23 Monday: I worked on the paper and did not go out except to the post and the shops.
Junuary 24 Tuesday: Another day on the paper, again only the post and the shops. There is a little stirring in the garden, and I sowed seeds of tomato, cucumber and tomatoes under glass.
June 25 Wednesday: I did only one page today, went into town to make purchases, and then to the CA meeting. The attendance was only fair – Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Michael Mortimer, Pat Doherty, Mullen and a couple more. Next door was a roomful of Trotskies, mostly under 21 – which means they don’t last.
June 26 Thursday: I finished the paper but for a picture Sean Redmond is sending me. He rang up in the morning. A telegram came from Haslingden and I deduced that Michael Mortimer had not clinched matters [ie. regarding a proposed Liverpool CA branch visit to places associated there with Michael Davitt]. I rang him up and he admitted not to have pursued matters too zealously. I rang Barney Morgan and he spoke to Joe O’Grady. Finally I rang Haslingden myself and gave them some kind of message.
June 27 Friday: I got in a few hours in the garden. The gooseberry crop this year is very poor, the plums non-existent. But the black-currants and vaccinium have thriven on it! I have marrow and cauliflower seedlings up, also runner beans and broad beans. The rhubarb can be cut this year and the Chenopodium is excellent. Apart from the garden I did not go out, except across the road to the shops.
June 28 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London and went straight to the office. Most of them were on the Anti-Apartheid demonstration, but I joined Gerry Curran for a bite and a drink. The meeting was the best since the days before Noel Gordon began to collapse. Of course there is money in the bank. Jane Tate has got another £3,000 from the Hardy Legacy, which however completes it. I told them my concern at the actions of George Davies and we agreed upon a line of action. I will find out whether the time is ripe for a conference on Ireland and the British Labour movement and will do some consulting in Dublin as well. Cathal had written to say that the NUR delegation had urged the ICTU to declare against Partition. I told him that if they did, and the Northerners seceded, the British Trade Unions would recognise the breakaway and we’d be further back than ever. Those present were Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Paul Gilhooley, Gerry Curran and Sean Burke. The South London branch is in chaos, and at the bottom of it is Pat Bond’s nonsense. However, everybody was in a good mood, tho’ Philip Rendle seems to be fading out.
June 29 Sunday: We met at the Irish Centre – but without Michael Mortimer who had cried off in favour of a job in Manchester – but with Joe O’Grady the Finnertys from Southport, Barney Morgan, Andy Higgins who was in Liverpool for a builders’ conference, in all about 20, and went to Haslingden, where Dr Dunleavy showed us the places Davitt was connected with and gave a talk in the IDL [ie. Irish Democratic Labour] club who had provided an excellent buffet. After that there was music and entertainment, in which Andy Higgins needless to say figured prominently, although the local pianist found it difficult to cope with his modal melodies and operatic rallentandoes. This was a successful excursion despite the poor attendance, and several people expressed their satisfaction. Michael Mortimer’s friend and former tutor, Alan Morton 2, was there and remarked that Michael’s undoubted ability is not joined to adequate discipline. One of his students was there.
June 30 Monday: It was boiling hot again, and I went into Birkenhead to buy a hosepipe for the garden. This must have been looked on as a challenge because at about 4 pm. the wind veered from the East to South-West. It turned cooler and poured rain. I spoke to Stella Bond and Jane Tate.
July 1 Tuesday: I caught the 8.33 (slow) train to Crewe and reached Ripley by midday. All went reasonably, but the return journey was marred by chaos at Crewe. Hardly a train seemed to be running on time. Eventually I came to Chester and on to Hamilton Square. This is possible now the line is electrified as far as Hooton and there is a 30-fminute service.
July 2 Wednesday: I had a telephone call from George Davies. I had written to him a letter the effect of which was to stop his tricks in their tracks. So he wants to talk with me on Friday. I went into Birkenhead but only for stamps and to buy a hosepipe.
July 3 Thursday: The forecast rain did not materialise. I did some work in the garden and transferred preliminary attention to the North-West bed. I sowed (in the West bed) garlic, garlic-chives, more Vicia Faba [ie. beans] lettuce and red chicory. On the whole things are progressing well thanks to the hot sun on the rather damp soil.
July 4 Friday: Again the weather was reasonable, with useful rain in the night. I went into town and met George Davies. He agreed to fall in with the CA plan, and though I would not acquit him of having concocted his own little plans, I would not be sure it was not largely enthusiasm for a thing he desired. It seems this scheme of a new organisation to press the Irish question in the Trade Union movement must have occurred to him soon after Bernard O’Connell’s collapse, and he said something that led me to think he may have gone to Dublin with this in mind. Anyway, I left him in no doubt of our opinions and I think he will play ball. I got sailing tickets at Lime Street. I’ll swear that for nine whole minutes the clerk was knob-twiddling and button-prodding on a computer. In the olden days they simply passed one over. If she is paid £100 for a 40-hour week, then securing a sailing ticket costs 40p. in labour alone and (at an estimate) £1.20 when overheads are taken into account. I did a little more on the North-West bed in the evening.
July 5 Saturday: Though it seems cooler than of late I got in more work in the garden, which I am going to try to get decent again. Tetragonia has appeared in the West bed, so I will grow it on. Barney Morgan was going to get a speaker for the next CA branch meeting but has done nothing. I was a bit sharp with him, but you might as well hit a sandbag. He says he will do something now. I did not go out except across the road.
July 6 Sunday: It was cooler still – perhaps 63F – but I stayed at home and did some more on the North-West bed, which is perhaps half complete. Some of last year’s Tetragonia has sown itself, so I am going to have some after all. I cut Chenopodium. I would say that next to spinach and beet, which do not crop well with me, this is the most satisfactory of the greens. Tetragonia lacks flavour and I mix rocket in with it usually. So-called spinach-beet is the same. But Mercury has a distinct flavour of its own. If the dry weather holds I have a chance of recovering lost ground in the garden. At present the flower shows are the roses and the two philadelphus trees. The hydrangea has gone, but the rhododendron is thriving and once more the holly flowered, but it seems to be a male. No berries. I have been thinking about 1989 – bicentenary of the French Revolution they would like to forget. It might be possible to get an international commemoration arousing the right forces. We might need to begin now.
July 7 Monday: I spent a good part of the day in the garden, still on the North-West bed, and slowly a difference is being made. The philadelphus is starting to fade already. Things don’t last long! More Tetragonia is appearing, so it must sow itself. So far this year’s crops do not seem bad, but I seem to have got all my ordering wrong. I have duplicated some seeds, omitted others quite important.
In the morning Michael Mortimer rang, and this was the order of his communications. First, how was I? Quite well considering all I had to contend with. Second, how did Haslingden go? Quite well considering how few turned up. Did we have a meeting next Wednesday? – he had lost the piece of paper on which he had noted the date. No, it was the 16th. Finally, his daughter wanted to hire a car to go driving round Ireland for a holiday. Did I know if she could hire one in Dublin? I told him about Jeffares and Cyril Murray (if he’s not in jail!) and told him to ring Tony Coughlan or Cathal [George Jeffares and Cyril Murray, both with CPI connections in Dublin, ran motor businesses]. Later I got Barney Morgan. He had been trying to get a speaker for the meeting on the 16th but had been unsuccessful. Then I found the Holyhead sailings have been advanced by half an hour, so rang up Tony Coughlan to tell him I was due at Dun Laoire at 6.15.
July 8 Tuesday: Though it was cool and windy I got in quite a few hours in the garden, reconstructed part of the loganberry trellis and cleared scutchgrass (agropyron) from the gooseberries. It will be the end of the month before all is ship-shape, but I am sowing seeds in a nursery bed. A memoir on the Scottish botanist John Hope came from Alan Morton in the morning, and a few other things, including a photograph from Chris Maguire.
I had a word with Joe Deighan. He said I must have a word with a man called Moriarty and he also thinks well of Brian Anderson [Dublin trade unionist]. I had a word with Michael Mortimer who has fallen down a flight of stairs and sprained his ankle. He has not yet sent out the notices!
July 9 Wednesday (Dublin): I went into Birkenhead, posted some letters, then went from Central Station to Hooton, Chester, Caergybi and Dun Laoire where Muriel Saidlear met me in her car and we drove to 24 Crawford Avenue. Tony Coughlan came in from a CND meeting. His book has been reviewed in the “Sunday Press”, but not in the daily “Press” or “Irish Times”.
July 10 Thursday: We went into town and saw Brian Anderson and Gerry Shanahan of the Dublin Trades Council, who works as his assistant. I told them of our plans for a conference next year. He said there was a small group in the Six Counties working for a separate “Ulster” Trade Union Congress, and that the ICTU, receiving something like a third of its funds from the North, was unlikely to embark on anything that moved that way. Later we had lunch with Sean Redmond. He seems to me just a trifle depressed, though he perked up later. He is probably exhausted after the strike, which he says has completely impoverished the union. He did not win “hands down” but on a balance. When Tony Coughlan suggested a special levy, he said it would warn other unions that they were broke and they would poach his members. What about ICTU? His union was already suspended from ICTU for poaching members of the ITGWU! He did not think the danger of a Six County breakaway so great as Anderson did. Tony Coughlan thought a little breakaway of the orange extremists might be a blessing in disguise. There was no feeling that we should not go ahead. Tony went back to TCD, but I went up to see Michael O’Riordan who happened to be there, and we had a discussion much along the same lines. So they’ve all had an opportunity to object and must now hold their peace. I also raised with Michael the bicentenary of 1789, which I think they will try to Europeanise. Incidentally they all say Merrigan has retired [Matt Merrigan, 1922-2000, ATGWU trade unionist and socialist], and that miserable opportunist Freeman is enthroned [John Freeman, 1933-2011, Northern Ireland trade unionist and ATGWU Regional Secretary for Ireland].
Finally in the evening Eddie Cowman came. He has not done well in the academic field, and I never thought there was much sense in it [In fact he obtained his degree in due course]. What he could do successfully would be to start a small business as a builder. He should never have left the Connolly Association. We would never have had the collapse associated with Noel Gordon, and he would have got us the GLC money a year earlier and would now be on the pig’s back. He is living in Clontarf in a bed-sitter, Noel Moynihan likewise. He could not keep up the mortgage repayments on the house and it was repossessed. He failed to pass the medical test for train-driving on account of a slight curvature of the spine. Silly nonsense. He’s as fit as a fiddle and looks 21. Arrangements had been made for Tom Redmond to call, but he did not show up. According to Sean Redmond, Tom is still in the CPI but is a dissident. Michael O’Riordan told me he was aware of the NCP influence. Sean Redmond says Tom Redmond wanted the CPI to be a campaigning organisation, but Michael O’Riordan was satisfied that if they could keep it going at all, that was sufficient and that Eoin Ó Murchú (with whom I had a drink) said the same. It was dark, damp and cloudy today.
July 11 Friday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and returned via Caergybi and Chester. There was a mass of correspondence and papers, but nothing requiring the most urgent attention.
July 12 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London on the 11.25 and found Paul Gilhooley, Jane Tate, Sean Burke, Gerry Curran, Flan Campbell and Philip Rendle at the office for the Standing Committee. I made my proposals on the basis of the Dublin trip and Flann Campbell was enthusiastic. He said the breakthrough that established the Labour Committee on Ireland came as a result of the Michael Mullen press conference [This refers to the delegation to Britain organised by the Irish Sovereignty Movement some years before]. But none of this support came to us. Why not? Because we never follow anything up. I would say Paul Gilhooley is improving. The young man, Ciaran Corcoran, who has taken the secretaryship in Hackney was there and seems intelligent enough if not politically very advanced. All went reasonably and I returned the same day.
July 13 Sunday: The day was warm and dry until late evening and I got some work done in the garden. I did not go out.
July 14 Monday: Another hot day in which I went on with the garden. Apart from going across the road to the shops, I was at home all day.
July 15 Tuesday: Another dry hot day, though there seems to have been rain, unless it was from the previous night. I have had a touch of a cold, and today I had diarrhoea and arthritic pains in the right foot – almost like gout. I could do no digging till evening, after I had a sleep in a chair that temporarily improved matters. I started planting out in the new bed which is three parts cleared and put in tomatoes and cucumber that have been in peat pots. I gathered a few strawberries but must remake the bed with runners. The gooseberries are late, the blackcurrants early; indeed some could be gathered now. Paul Gilhooley rang up. I tried to get Tony Coughlan at night but he seems to be out.
July 16 Wednesday: I intended to do all kinds of things today, but didn’t. I went to the bank, where I bumped into Joe O’Grady, then met a friend of Tony Coughlan’s, a Madame Marin, a lecturer in English in Paris, who spent three years teaching French at Llabedrpostaffan in Cardigan [This was Mme. Yvette Marin, later a professor of English in Besancon, who established a centre for English studies there. A. Coughlan was god-father to her daughter Florence]. I would say she speaks English more fluently than Dorothea [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze of Halle, East Germany]. I took her to lunch at the Cypriot place in Lime Street. She is studying housing in Liverpool, but I do not think to much purpose. We had the CA branch meeting in the evening and after that we all met her at the Irish Centre. We are only getting the faithfuls. I have arranged for a £500 grant to be given from Central Funds to the Liverpool branch. Some of it will go to pay for the pamphlet, but there will be some left.
July 17 Thursday: I woke up at 9 am., got up for a minute, felt I was still tired and lay down again for half an hour. I didn’t wake again till 11.30 and when I got up didn’t feel well but couldn’t decide what was wrong. I later concluded a cold was developing and later still the sneezing began. Summer colds produce untypical symptoms. I manged some lunch, then slept in a chair for two hours. It was dry but colder and I just didn’t feel up to gardening. There was also a return of the enteritis of a couple of days ago. However, by evening I was returning to normal.
July 18 Friday: I spent most of the day in the garden. I re-made the strawberry bed that only gave a handful this year, nearly finished the North-West bed and planted out more tomatoes and tied up the runner beans, also lifted the radishes grown as a catch-crop between the rows of marrows. I felt much better today – only a lingering trace of the enteritis. The Tories had a disastrous result in yesterday’s bielection but seem to be shrugging it off. I would have thought they would conclude that the Liberals will destroy them. On the other hand Kinnock continually reassures them that Labour will not undo their mischief. But there is no CP any more, even to act as a goad or a threat. I was talking about Prenant [ie. Marcel Prenant, French scientist, whose book “Biology and Marxism” Greaves translated from the French as a young man] and Langevin and Joliot-Currie to Mme. Marin. She said, “There are no respectable people in the CPF now, only rubbish.” She did not mean respectable but respected.
Some time ago George Davies told me that John Freeman, the not-much-use TGWU leader in Belfast, had attended a seminar with top brass RUC people and paid them fulsome compliments. The was shown by a document he got from Phil Flynn at Sean Redmond’s Dublin conference. He spoke as if it were very damaging. He promised to send me a copy of it but did not, so I mentioned it to Sean Redmond, who said he would do so but that it did not have the significance George Davies ascribed to it. The copy came and it is clear to me that Sean Redmond is right. It is not the Trade Union report but the RUC report. Freeman was only one of a number of officials present. There is no reference to any statement made by him. It would have been as justifiable to pick Paddy Devlin who was also there. All that could be derived from it would be the political attitude of the Northern Committee of the ICTU, which is of course Unionist. So it is necessary to take what George Davies says with a grain of salt. Perhaps he personalises.
July 19 Sunday: I spent quite a while in the garden. I planted out about seven cauliflowers, “Dok” [ie. Dok champa] that there is a sporting chance might head up in October. I have a large number of winter broccolis, and pamphries, but must clear more ground for them. I only went out as far as the shops.
July 20 Thursday: The weather is still coolish, but there was rain in the night and the cauliflowers do not seem to have suffered a check. This improves the chance of heading up. I only went as far as the shops. I must have spent 6 or 7 hours in the garden, clearing the North-West tip of the West bed and into it transplanting Tetragonias that have sprung up from last year. I sowed extra erica and coriander, also white radishes and golden turnips that might be ready in October. The Chinese garlic seems to be coming up and the broad beans are flowering. This has been the first decent year for a long time, warm spells interrupted by rain, but no strong winds or disastrous cold.
At about 10 am. Jane Tate rang up saying I had not announced Dave Goodman’s school in the paper. But I had. Then George Davies rang up. He says the Labour Committee on Ireland are going for a big conference next year and he is trying to dissuade them. But Carroll went to them, not us [probably John Carroll, officer of the ITGWU in Dublin]. I do not think they will give way. Also some of them are still hankering after the “First organisation to work with the Trade Unionists.” So that will go ahead, I fear. There is a simple streak in George Davies. He has not thought of the possibility of qualified unity and endless effort and intrigue going into the in-fighting. I cannot say I think political affairs are going very well at all. Still, feicimid [ie. We shall see].
July 21 Monday: I worked on the paper and only went out to the post. The weather was cool but sunny and with a strong drying wind that did the cauliflowers no good. I spoke to Peter Mulligan, Joe Deighan and Gerry Curran.
July 22 Tuesday: I went on with the paper. Gerry Curran’s delayed copy, posted on Thursday, arrived unopened and stamped by the PO “bag desk”. This I take it to try to fool the postman. It certainly didn’t fool me – if it was intended to. There was a long manifesto in the “Manchester Guardian” purported to have been sent abroad by people high up in the Kremlin. If anything can be thought of, somebody will be daft enough to do it; so one can’t dismiss a thing out of hand. But I must say I was most suspicious of it. It seemed to be raising the same demands as “Solidarity” in Poland, and Dubcek in Czechoslovakia. Most significant, there was no reference whatever to the hostility of American imperialism or the economic advantages of ending the arms race. A very fishy piece of work! I spoke to Paul Gilhooley and Jane Tate. I only went out to the post.
A letter came from John Boyd saying the “Morning Star” wanted to publish the Connolly Association paper on the EEC and wanted an article from him. This is partly, he says, as a result of pressure from Liverpool, but also of the desire of Chater and Co. to say the opposite of what is said in St. John St, where apparently they have come out in favour of the EEC, or are doing so. He told them to ask me for the paper. I doubt they will do it. They asked me for an article on it and then declined to publish it, meanwhile trying to entrap young Paul Gilhooley into their unsavoury intrigues. They got three articles from John Boyd and then refused to publish them. So one is not going to fall over helping them in squabbles that are founded on no issue of principle. John Boyd said he would write for them if they guaranteed publication. They’re a weak bunch! Paul Gilhooley said two young people from the “Morning Star” suggested having a joint social with the Connolly Association. I said on no account. The first evening primrose flowered.
July 23 Wednesday: I went on with the paper. It was a cold day with an unpleasant North-West wind, but I did not go out except across the road. First Tropaeolum out.
July 24 Thursday: I finished the paper and rang Ripley to arrange for Paul Gilhooley to go there on Tuesday. I wrote to quite a few people – Paul Gilhooley, Neil Farrell and a few more. The weather was quite warm again.
July 25 Friday: John Boyd’s MS arrived. I think I will have to edit it up for him. He is not good at presentation. Another thing struck me. The slogan “Withdraw from the EEC” is not sufficient. Partial demands are required to keep the fight going. I will ask him to give me each month an account of something that should be rejected. The weather was average and apart from shopping I did a little in the garden. I now have a few days to tackle it and hope for good weather. I have more fruit than I can consume – four gooseberry bushes unpicked, four blackcurrant bushes now ripe, two red currants, raspberries by the plateful, rhubarb which however I use as a vegetable for sour sweets, and a vaccinium and a crab apple ripening. But no plums or damsons. I think the trees have been attacked by greenfly and if ever the wind would die down I’d spray them, but it never does.
July 26 Saturday: The summer is not proving bad. There is some quite good growing weather as it seems to rain at night and, today at least, provides considerable warmth. I got in a few hours in the garden and cleared the North-West bed except where the gooseberry bushes stand, and sowed some extra beet and extra turnips. I didn’t know what sort of roots I’ll get, but I should get greens.
I spoke to Paul Gilhooley. He was coming to Liverpool on Friday on his way to Dublin, taking his mother. They have relatives there. But now other relatives have come from Belfast and he may have to stay at home. Jane Tate says they are now saying his mother hasn’t got cancer at all. What next! Paul did not get a report of Tony Benn’s meeting but noted, as I did, a good Trotsky representation. I would not repose great confidence in Benn. He keeps the CA at a fair arm’s length. When I read the MPs’ letter in the “Morning Star” on my way to London, I wrote to Ernie Roberts saying we would be interested in attending the new organisation. Roberts telephoned the office and said he would put our name forward. But we got no invitation, though the Labour Committee on Ireland and “Liberation” did. Paul Gilhooley asked should he gate-crash. I advised against it. I think the “Left” is well sewn up by MI5!
July 27 Sunday: Another good day – quite warm too, 68F-70. I must have spent about six hours in the garden. I weeded the rows of lettuce and Finochio [ie. fennel], transplanted nine pamphries to the North-West bed, and then cleared, though I did not dig, the lower half of the South-West bed and the fringe of the South. This last has four blackcurrant and two red currant bushes, rhubarb, artichokes and a single plant of Atropa belladonna. There is nothing in the South-West but tree onions.
July 28 Monday: It rained nearly all day, something very good for the pamphries but for little else. I got very little done indeed, just read the newspapers and washed a few things. I invented a new recipe. I lightly browned a pork chop, fried onion and rhubarb from the garden, then poached it all in cider. Rhubarb is excellent for a sour-sweet, though on this occasion I kept it sour.
Chris Maguire had sent me a cutting with a picture of the June 22nd affair. I wrote thanking him and asking if he would care to give the Hackney CA a helping hand. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan and John Boyd about fighting the EEC. The first vegetable marrow flower came out.
July 29 Tuesday: This was mostly a damp windy day, though it was dry in the afternoon. As a result I got nothing done in the garden. Miriam James and the former GLC group sent me a copy of the “Terence MacSwiney Memorial Lectures.” There was also a note from Jane Tate. Paul Gilhooley went to Ripley. Apparently there was no disaster.
July 30 Wednesday: I rang London and found Pat Bond was back. Later Paul Gilhooley rang. He confirmed that all had gone well. He is not leaving London after all. He was due to go away next week, but relatives have descended from Belfast. A miserable wet cool day, today. This morning there was so much rain that there were puddles in the garden!
July 31 Thursday: Another dreary drizzly cold sunless day. I’d intended to go into Birkenhead but didn’t. I received a letter from Tony Coughlan, who says Peter O’Connor wants me to go and give a talk in Waterford. The sun appeared for half an hour of watery apology in the Northwest at 8 pm. But the glass is rising. Surely there can’t be a fifth day of it. My garden work has been badly disrupted. Ugly sunset – lenticular alto-cumulus.
August 1 Friday: Despite the threatening sunset the morning was bright and warm and I went into Birkenhead, posted letters, bought a few things, and in the mid-afternoon got all the gooseberries off one of the bushes, cleared away agropyon and planted out some Tetragonia – I hadn’t intended to grow it this year, but ordered it by mistake, only to find it seeding itself. But it transplants badly. Later Paul Gilhooley rang. He had had lunch with Bob Doyle who had told him that Gerry Adams was going to take his seat at Westminster. I said I doubted this. He was very excited – that is youth for you – and wanted to go and see Gerry MacLaughlin to ask him. He didn’t want to go for political reasons. No, it was personal, so he didn’t mean that. “Maybe you didn’t mean it,” said I, “but that’s what it was – curiosity. Since you heard Bob’s news your nose has been itching to look into it.” Anyway I think I persuaded him not to. I told him not to make MacLaughlin feel important. He is talking of coming to Liverpool next weekend. He was scheduled to go to Dublin on holiday, but relatives from Belfast descended on the family. So he is having a half-holiday at home. I rang Michael Mortimer and he said he could accommodate him. A letter came from Flann Campbell.
Two unusual things happened. I boarded a 64 bus at Watson’s Lane. The driver must have thought he was on a 60 and turned up as if to go to Church Road. Then he turned down Pearson Rd and executed a complete circle. And in the evening, wanting a bottle of wine, I found the off-license closed – and a note saying, “back in a half hour”. By 4.30 pm. the wind was in the South-East, the barometer falling steadily, and the rain likewise. But by 10 pm. it seemed to have stopped. Of course it’s pitch-dark at 10 pm. on a cloudy night, and next week the summer will be halfway through. I sent suggestions for his book to Flann Campbell.
August 2 Saturday: Today was dry and reasonably warm, if cloudy. I made great inroads on the South-West bed of the West garden. Apart from that there was not much. It is interesting however to note that my experiment with fertilisers had a spectacular result. One row of marrows I fertilised with Ammonium Sulphate, the other with Potassium Nitrate. The latter are bearing fruit. The North-West South-East row are not even flowering. I attribute the difference to the potassium, though of course there are other possibilities.
August 3 Sunday: Despite the woeful prognostications of the met men, it did not rain dill 7.30 pm. I finished the lower half of the South-West bed, into which I can transplant brassicas, made a foray into the North garden to rescue the Welsh onion that was being overrun with docks and spearmint, and gathered all the gooseberries. There is at present an embarras de richesses. I gathered a huge plate of raspberries – more than I ever got before, and they appear every day. Loganberries on the vines and red and blackcurrants must be got in. Also this year I have used rhubarb. Apart from the gardening there was not much.
I listened to the radio in the late evening – a concert in F minor by Sterndale Bennett I had never heard before. It was pleasant enough, but I dislike the false climaxes of romantic music, or should I say the contrived climaxes. It was Brahms unshipped all that, and of course opera was different. It was followed by one of my favourite Haydns, No 97. I remember hearing it for the first time in February 1938 and being struck by it. I had been in a nursing home in Egerton Park to have a cyst removed. I was perfectly well when I went in, but I spent several weeks at 124 Mount Road, convalescing, I suppose from the shock and anaesthetic. I remember when I told CEG about it – it had been discovered at the end of November or early December 1936 just before I went to London, as a result of an accident in Abercromby Square when I was knocked down by a car – he unhesitatingly offered to pay, but as it happened Synthetic Oils, for whom I had made some useful inventions, agreed to pay and raised my salary as well. It was during that time that I acquired a strong affection for the C major quartet, Op. 54, No. 2. These are things I always listen to.
August 4 Monday: It was dry until 5 pm. and I transplanted some winter cauliflower into the South-West bed and made a beginning on the West bed of the North garden, where a “Hugh Dixon” rose, planted by CEG, was languishing in the midst of goutweed and agropyron. I think this is the last of the things brought from Rock Ferry, though the Diervilla [ie. honeysuckle] may have been a cutting [Greaves was born in 4A, Rockville Street, Rock Ferry, Birkenhead, and spent the first seventeen years of his life there, before the family moved to a new semi-detached house at 124 Mount Road, with its large garden on the street corner]. The present one is from a cutting I took, and I never intended it to be where it is. The rain was only a shower, but it made the ground too wet to work further.
There was a letter from a Bill Williams in Manchester wanting material for an exhibition of Labour history. He had been told to contact me by Wilf Charles. Things seem to be awakening in Manchester. Perhaps we should hold our conference there? I rang Joe Deighan, who told me Jimmy McGill was the man [Jimmy McGill was a longstanding CA member in Manchester, who ran a bookshop].
August 5 Tuesday: I wrote to Bill Williams, Pat Bond and Jane Tate. I only went out to the post but had a busy day. It was dry till 7 pm. when it rained steadily for the rest of the evening. But I cleared the area round the “Hugh Dixon” and scattered KNO3 [ie. Potassium nitrate] to be worked in when it rains. And I did some clearing of the South bed and collected a good 2 lbs. of blackcurrants. This was only a small proportion of what was available. I also transplanted another four cauliflowers. Apart from the letters, I was in the garden all day.
Late at night Jane Tate rang. Paul Gilhooley had been displaying what she considers undue interest in the basis of representation at the CA conference, which he has always been in a hurry to hold. I think she would be right in thinking he would like to get a few supporters on to the E.C. Whether he would like a clean sweep is another matter. To young people – and I well remember it! – life is largely composed of fun, subjectively seen as duty. He had been to see Noel Harris who had put him off a fringe meeting at the TUC. Then he wanted a “school” even though the E.C. had decided against it. I think we need to hold all-London socials, to bring the new members in. But I think we must consider adopting the old “panel” for the E.C., and people who do not know each other will be coming together [The panel method for electing a new Executive was based on the outgoing Executive recommending a slate of candidates to the organisation’s annual conference. This did not preclude individual nominations being accepted also]. I wouldn’t mind having another stab at Manchester and have been writing to people about it.
August 6 Wednesday: Not much achieved today! It poured rain all night and until about noon. Then I went across the road only to find all the papers sold out. After that it was mostly not raining – I can’t call it dry. There were occasional ill-defined showers. The wind, somewhat in the morning, veered South-East but tho’ not cold was blustery and unpleasant. I wrote to Tony Coughlan.
The female marrow flowers have been fertilised, but what by heavens knows. I never recall such a shortage of insects. I’ve known summers when the warm air was vibrant with them. I saw two dead garden tiger moths. One I think was bitten by a bird. The other was just laid out. There are still some of their caterpillars about. I don’t touch them. Tiger moths are grand creatures.
August 7 Thursday: What a day! Not a sight of the sun, temperature about 57-59F at most, a constant worrying, harrying North-West wind, blowing thick clouds that looked liable to topple gallons on you at any moment, but didn’t. I decided to do a bit on the paper. It was too miserable to be out, though not so bad for the cauliflower I transplanted. I also wrote one or two letters.
In the evening Jane Tate rang. Paul Gilhooley had talked about coming to Liverpool but apparently he has thought better of it. Pat O’Donohue is in a non-correspondence mood again. He doesn’t want to come to a Standing Committee. But Pat Bond says, “Oi. We must have one!” I rang Michael Mortimer who said he’d been trying to get me because some friend of John Gibson is going to Belfast. Then George Davies rang. He is joining with the Labour Committee on Ireland Trade Union Committee to run a conference on the “MacBride Principles”. I said they should do it as soon as they can. He seems all right on the things we previously discussed, still hankering for his one organisation, but realises enough to see the difficulties. Jane Tate told me Gerry Curran is away in Yugoslavia.
August 8 Friday: I got up at about 8 pm. and the sky was as grey as ever with the North-West wind still blowing. Of the two days I would say this was the colder. I doubt if it rose above 58F. However, in the afternoon the wind eased and the sky cleared and there was some rather watery sunlight. The radio has been broadcasting optimistic forecasts, the fulfilment of which is constantly deferred, and anybody could see how slowly the glass is rising. Still it is improving. I got two hours in the garden and cleared the overgrowth from the upper part of the South-West bed. A letter came from Joe Jamison. He is busy with the Connolly commemoration in Troy[James Connolly worked in Troy, upper New York State, during his time in America, and Joe Jamison had organised the placing of a Connolly bust there]. I wouldn’t have minded sending something to it. If Pat Bond could have gone he might have brought us back a few bob! There was not a good sunset.
August 9 Saturday: Although there was a deal of high cloud, it was dry and distinctly warm in the afternoon and I got some gardening done. I planted two rows of marrows a couple of months ago, one with (NH2)SO4 and the other with KNO3. The saltpetre row flowered on July 28. The ammonium sulphate one yesterday – a spectacular difference, 11 days. Apart from that there was not much. I found a spectacular caterpillar of all places on top of the clothes. Unfortunately I could not remember what moth it turned into, though I should have done. The “Grey Dagger” came to mind, but I was not sure. I put it on some artichokes, but then thought I remember as a boy seeing things like this on hawthorn, so since there is a hawthorn in the garden, I put it on that. Otherwise goodness knows what its food plant is.
August 10 Sunday: Quite a pleasant day today, but with high cloud that kept temperatures down to about 68 F. I got in quite a few hours in the garden, and the South-West bed is nearly finished. I think I will compost all the overgrowth in front of the garage. There were two garden tiger moths at the front of the lawn, and one caterpillar. They cannot have a long pupation. I am glad they have returned, though much will be due to the wilderness. Gerry Curran telephoned and we made arrangements about the back page.
August 11 Monday: The wonderful fine weather forecast on the radio did not materialise, and indeed all the signs I read, including the barometer – pointed the other way. It must have poured rain all night and went on drizzling till 11 am. Then it was cool and cloudy – not a glimpse of the sun all day, and too wet under foot to do anything in the garden but transplant two more cauliflowers and sow some extra lettuce, chervil and coriander. Incidentally, this is the first year I’ve had really vigorous coriander, not like what comes from India but approaching it. A note came from Pat Bond and I spoke to Stella Bond on the phone. Both are giving out about Paul Gilhooley’s unreliability. But they have not the slightest conception of leadership, so what’s the use of talking. While seeing his obvious weaknesses they should be trying to encourage his good qualities, until they finally decide it can’t be done. Later I rang Michael Mortimer. A man called S. Monaghan wrote to London to join the Connolly Association. I think it may be the man who was at the University and whose parents are in Southport. I asked Michael Mortimer to write to him ten days ago. Nothing has been done. There was no reply from Barney Morgan at 7.30 – perhaps too early. And as for Gerry Curran, his wife told me, “Oh Dear me! He’s resting. Can he ring you back?” Resting! I will remember Eddie Cowman’s summary of Gerry Curran – a lazy bones! I wrote some letters.
Later Gerry Curran did ring back and was a little sheepish when I pulled his leg.
August 12 Tuesday: Though it was dry and bright there was continuous cloud; the sun did not look through. I did a bit in the garden but not much, only weeding, hoeing, trimming and putting in a few winter radishes. I also put some KNO3 round the boxes of tomatoes. There is no heat this year and growth is very slow. The apples are still green. In the afternoon Joe Jamison rang up from New York. He had drafted a message to the Connolly Commemoration in Troy and wanted to put it out to us. Later Pat Bond rang.
August 13 Wednesday: Another totally sunless day, with a deal of light rain. This is proving a dismal August. There was a letter from Peter O’Connor in Waterford, also from Chris Maguire and Colm Power. Chris Maguire had been to Derby to see Eugene Connolly who is dying of cancer at the age of 48. His mother, who is over 80 but as lively as a bee, has gone up to help. Then Colm Power told me that his brother, Declan, also 48, died of a heart attack last month. I wrote a letter of condolences. I am wondering if this could be made a means of healing the rift between Colm Power and Cathal MacLiam and the others. After bereavements people go off their heads, so I am wondering whether to do anything or not.
In the morning Pat Bond rang. He wrote giving out about Paul Gilhooley, and this morning he continued verbally. He was the most irritating person any man could work with. He was unreliable, didn’t do what he said he’d do, and so on. Again I said work by the rules. For long enough I’ve been telling them to have an office committee. But they’re all anarchists! Finally I spoke to Gerry Curran. He is having trouble with Paul. He gave him a £20 book to review. The review was carelessly written. He gave it back for revision and now he refuses to do it. Again of course there’s no recourse to the rules. What he should do is to complain to me, then I will tackle Paul, for under the terms of his appointment he takes my instructions. I think that recently he has been showing me his best behaviour. I learned from Gerry Curran another thing that the two of them had cooked up. Paul Gilhooley was to go to Dublin to “interview famous people” for the back page. “Who were the famous people?” Gerry Curran didn’t know! The innocence on all sides! I said I was not averse to furthering Paul Gilhooley’s career or boosting his ego, provided we got something for it and ran no risk, but that I discouraged the young gentleman’s flights of fancy. Then what does Gerry Curran do but give me another piece of gossip. Somebody had told him that Paul Gilhooley had got drunk and while slightly tipsy boasted in regard to the Connolly Association that within three years he’d be “running the whole show”. To which I reply, “Manchester!”
Of course there is an amusing side to it. I remember when Paul Gilhooley first started. I was having a drink with him and Jane Tate. He asked me, “Have you any health problems,” and I noticed he didn’t attempt to show any enthusiasm when I said I had not. But he probably consoled himself with the reflection that heaven might inflict these at any moment. He was asking himself, “When will that seat be vacant?” Now of course as old May Keating used to say, “All young people are selfish.”[Mrs May Keating was wife of the painter Sean Keating and mother of Justin Keating TD]. But this one can have the job if he does it. Feicimid. I do not know what degree of idealism may coexist with it, but I can recognise ambition, the ambition of the second-class mind.
August 14 Thursday: It was dry today and moderately sunny in the afternoon. I collected more blackcurrants – loads of them and I’m only half way through – and nearly finished the South-West bed, and also did a little on the South. And I began on the paper. Gerry Curran telephoned to say Alisdair Logan will be sending his review on Monday.
August 15 Friday: As frequently happens, the day dawned cloudy and wet. A letter came from Jane Tate telling me more about Paul Gilhooley’s antics. He had arranged with “Liberation” to use our office for a meeting and they had sent out a circular referring to the “Four Provinces Bookshop”. Jane Tate had objected when it was mooted because of the terms of our lease. But though he said he had told them to cancel it, they did not do so (probably because he forgot to tell them) and Jane and Stella Bond brought him in to open up. I spoke to Stella and told her they should have done nothing but let them come to a locked-up premises. “We’re too kind- hearted,” said Stella, which is true. Never assist nonsense in any way and only provide against the most serious mischance. Then again the minutes of Liberation came in and show that on July 10 he acted as representative of the Connolly Association at their meeting and proposed a joint school and a joint visit to Dublin, but did not report this at our E.C. on the 12th. So this must have been what he was going to Dublin for. But he couldn’t even bring this off! I’ll fix Dublin! A timely warning in the right place will do.
Of course I couldn’t do anything in the garden. The clouds broke for a brief spell, but the day was mostly dark, showery and miserable and the ground sodden. But at about 9 pm. the barometer started to rise decently. So we will hope for better things.
August 16 Saturday: The day dawned bright, but soon after 10 am. a thick pall of dirty cloud sailed over from the North-West, and it was the coolest yet. It might just have reached 60F at its warmest. It was not comfortable for gardening, so I stayed indoor and finished three pages of the paper. I spoke on the telephone to Peter Mulligan and Joe Deighan. There was no news.
August 17 Sunday: At last a passable day, on the cool side in the morning, but sunny and moderately warm (mid-sixties) in the afternoon. I did clearing up in the house, though as far as the garden went, merely collected some more black-currants. But to have the sun shining in the evening after 7 pm. – what a luxury. I wonder if it will take up. The barometer climbs very slowly, and the sunlight, though acceptable, is still a shade watery.
August 18 Monday: A bright start – then thick cloud from 10 am. till 7 pm., when a watery sun came out in the North-West, and cool into the bargain, with a light shower. I spoke to Stella Bond in the morning. Jane Tate is at Peter Mulligan’s in Northampton. Why she is always going to the doctor is a mystery, for she seems to have an inexhaustible appetite for travel, and it never takes a thing out of her.
I spoke to Gerry Henderson of the TGWU, who tells me he takes the “Irish Democrat”. He gave me useful information about the “lump”, but somewhat outran the bounds of fraternity by telling me confidentially that leaders of the competing union UCATT had accepted money for tolerating “the lump”. It is conceivable, but I would expect it to be well wrapped up [Working “on the lump” in the building trade meant that the worker was regarded as self-employed and was paid a lump sum for what he did in a day or week; so he was not regarded as working for a wage].
I also spoke to Jane Tate. She was telling me how impossible it is to work with Pat Bond, Paul Gilhooley and even the best of them – Stella Bond. Pat O’Donohue was to have sent her some figures but hasn’t done so because he disagreed with a Standing Committee decision to apply to the GLC for funds. A telephone call came from Michael D. Higgins, the Galway Labour TD, saying he had a letter from Paul Gilhooley but would not be able to meet him in Dublin – so these are the people Paul is using his position as CA organiser to contact for his own purposes. The only thing will be to keep him short of money till he goes. Obviously he’s an intriguing little careerist, and Jane Tate anticipates trouble.
August 19 Tuesday: I didn’t do much today. Alan Morton arrived at about 12 o’clock and we had lunch and a couple of drinks. Paul Gilhooley rang up for nothing at about 12.30 and was very amiable indeed, so amiable indeed that I suspected a guilty conscience; so we will find out in due course what he is up to. There is no question that of the people I know Alan Morton has the most brains. He tells me that his history of botany is being reprinted, but the publishers didn’t tell him, and consequently he was not able to correct some errors. I think like Cathal he is slightly disappointed in his children. Of course I’ve told him many times that the thing to inculcate is fighting spirit – that is, if you can inculcate anything! And David, who had it, got out. Connection? I think so. Alan had not been here for about 50 or 55 years. All he remembered was a corner house and a side garden. He said he remembered CEG and AEG quite well, CEG struck him as Welsh, AEG as Irish. That would be a fair impression, I suppose. The trouble is that I was so full of myself and my plans and activities that I never enquired as to how AEG went in for music and “had her cap and gown” in her teens! I don’t even know how they met!
August 20 Wednesday: Of all things – a bright and sunny day! In the morning a letter came from Bebhinn [ie. Cathal MacLiam’s youngest daughter, who was then working as a civil servant in England]. She wants me to buy a book of poems written by her boyfriend, who was in Sweden and met Dorothea. Apparently my letter to her was delivered to the wrong house. I went on with the paper. Jane Tate rang up and was again giving out about Paul Gilhooley. She thinks we would be better without him. Of course I’m not really able to judge at this distance. He is going to Ripley for me on Tuesday. I’m pretty sure if I were there all the time I could get something out of him, but Stella Bond and Jane Tate are good workers but have no idea. I got on with the paper.
August 21 Thursday: Rain again today but not a great deal. Very gloomy, though. The weather this August gives slow-moving depressions that strike across England so that we are on the North side of the polar front and it is wet and chilly. I’ve one decent-sized marrow but the beans have done next to nothing. I finished the paper and sent it off. There were more troubles in London. There isn’t a trace of psychology in any of them! A cheque came from the Inland Revenue and Stella Bond didn’t know what it was for and was ringing all kinds of people. Now this is not really her job. But it is as well she is interested. She rang the Inland Revenue and elicited the information that Fisher would know. But instead of finishing the job she rang Pat O’Donohue and asked him to ring Fisher. To her surprise he flatly declined and slammed down the telephone. “Do what you like with the cheques.” We surmise that Pat O’Donohue mistakenly paid too much tax. Now it did not strike Stella that he was not anxious to ring Fisher since he had made the mistake. “But it’s his job,” says Stella. But then she should have referred it to him at the start! Jane Tate said that Paul Gilhooley had not come in. “He often doesn’t come in,” said Pat Bond. But Jane Tate complains that Pat Bond will not record it. Jane would like to get rid of Paul. But Pat Bond cannot pursue a policy. He is really a creature of emotions. So where are you? Gerry Curran rang up during the day and I rang him again in the evening as I wanted more information about Paul Gilhooley’s Dublin adventures. And I now see it is not so bad – Gerry Curran had asked him to interview people for the issue of the paper he is getting out, but it did not occur to him that he might exceed his instructions. “He shouldn’t be there,” says Gerry. “Yes,” said I ” but since he is, you must act accordingly.” I think if I’d been there I could have managed him. But there is no leadership. I’m not going to do anything till I’ve had a holiday, but by then I hope I may feel like getting my hand on things in London.
I told Jane Tate about what Gerry Curran had told me and that it was not as bad as I thought. But now she tells me she thinks he is writing something for the “New Worker“[ie. the journal of the New Communist Party] on the “Irish Labour Movement”. I must make sure it is in his “personal capacity”. I suppose the long and short of the previous episode is that Gerry Curran’s laziness overcame what little discretion he possesses and that though he has no time for Paul Gilhooley he had no objection to the young fellow doing his work for him. What a bunch!
August 22 Friday: Another bad day, drizzly and cold. On the evening broadcasts I have heard predictions of ground frost in Scotland, and once for England – the Midlands I presume. I never remember frost being mentioned before in August, or for that matter July or September. Not of course that it would be likely here. But there it is. Pat O’Donohue is in one of his bad moods, as I could see from a letter today. I wonder if it is “manic depression”. Sometimes he is well enough, at other times as at present. I think that the problem in London is demoralisation through lack of perspective, so each member reacts to his own inclinations, and there is too much taking of material home. Paul Gilhooley has started it now. Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue have done it for a long time, so Jane Tate cannot find correspondence. I had a word with Joe O’Grady.
August 23 Saturday: It dawned sunny but by 10 am. the sky was full of heavy cumulus; by noon it was overcast with alto-stratus, through which you could just see where the sun was. It was not as bad as last year – at least today I cut a decent marrow. I have heard no thunder this year but there have been references to it on the radio. But the temperature is so low that many things just do not grow. I had to pull up two tomatoes which looked as if they had been attacked by fungus. Runner beans are turning red brown and leaves are withering. I never saw that before. Transplanted cauliflowers just do not make growth. Alan Morton thinks it is volcanic dust. But why is there a savage heat wave in South-East United States? Decline in circulation seems to me the thing, and that would imply cooling of the Northern hemisphere. It would not of course imply any reduction of the number and severity of storms, but a tendency of any type of weather to persist. Today the “Liverpool Echo” warned of ground frost. In August! I don’t think it applied to Liverpool itself, but possibly North Wales where the paper circulates. I did a review for Helen Bennett for the “Morning Star”.
Apart from that it was too damned miserable for anything but a bit of clearing up. Pat Bond rang and said Gerald O’Reilly was in London and suggested I ring him. I asked if there was any progress with the fund for a bookshop assistant. He said he understood Pat O’Donohue was holding things up. Bond seemed relatively cheerful. He says Paul Gilhooley’s mother has got cancer all the time, though for a time they thought it might be something else. Of course under these circumstances we can’t make him do his job! And until they have an organisation committee he will not, and this Pat Bond resists.
A cutting from Colm Power arrived – a report that Garret FitzGerald was staying at Justin Keating’s holiday home outside Paphos in Cyprus [Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald and his wife Joan and Justin Keating and his wife Loretta did go on holiday in Cyprus together]. His marginal comment is “pup”.
August 24 Sunday: Today was fine and sunny but not really warm. There was a chilly East wind in the morning and it only began to feel tolerable at about 5 pm. I did something in the garden. One of the new loganberry vines has been discoloured by something. Could it possibly be frost? If so it is not only the first time I saw it, it is the first time I heard of it. Yet the marrows and tropaeolums are untouched, and only some of the runners beans are affected. I cleared away the dead hydrangea from the front of the lawn. I have “black” holly to replace it.
I was getting up at 8 pm. but fell asleep again till 10 am. – one of those dreaming sleeps that do one so much good. I remember saying to myself towards the end of the last dream, “It must be late, I must wake myself up,” which I duly did. Now what records the dreams? Obviously active or waking cells. And these will not be the same as the “guard cells” that rely on external stimuli. Well now, can the reflex of purpose affect the guard cells like an external stimulus. I have often said, “I will have four hours’ sleep”, and wakened exactly four hours later.
Today would have been Phyllis’s 70th birthday [ie. Phyllis Greaves, his sister], and until she fell ill I never expected that we would not both see it. But there you are. To look in a positive direction, I found some useful new ideas in my head, in no way connected with the dreams when I remembered them, but obviously generated as part of the process. These related to Boyd’s pamphlet, the future of the Connolly Association and some artistic work.
August 25 Monday: The weather reached what one would hope to be its final nadir. I got across the road for a paper and a bottle, but at 11.30 it began to squall, then drizzle, then to pour. It was cold with an ugly East wind, and it went on all bloody day. I did some work on Boyd’s pamphlet. I don’t know whether he will thank me for re-writing it! In the evening I rang a number Gerald O’Reilly had left for me. He told me he had seen both George Gilmore and Peadar O’Donnell just before they had died and that George was in such pain that he “wanted to go to sleep”. He is going to Ireland tomorrow. He had left some material in the office for me. He said it had been pouring rain in London all day.
August 26 Tuesday: I would say today’s weather was even worse than yesterday. The midday temperature would be about barely 54F! I only went across the road for papers. But I wrote an article on pension rates in Ireland for Wilf Charles, using material Donal Nevin had sent me. I was very impressed by the editorial in the “New Scientist” suggesting that water cooling was the essential weakness of all American and Russian nuclear reactors and referring to the use of Helium. I wonder why not Argon? There are about 130 litres of the stuff standing over every square inch of the earth’s surface. Perhaps the problem is low specific heat. Anyway I wondered how to get the thing into the TUC debate and rang Noel Harris. He had attended the committee meeting that arranged the debate, was very interested and undertook to get the “New Scientist” and see the matter was raised. Of course this did not dispose of the question of waste. But is there any serious research being done on this? I’m not up in laser technology, but I know considerable energies can be concentrated in small spaces. Would it be possible to build a “sanitizing reactor” that would convert radioactive metals into iron plus rapidly disintegrating isotopes of light elements? If uranium can produce medium weight elements plus neutrons, can’t these in turn produce heavy light elements plus neutrons, in a non-self-sustaining reaction? I must write to somebody knowledgeable on this subject. Get rid of the water and dispose of the waste, and nuclear energy becomes acceptable. Otherwise I am convinced it is not.
In the evening I listened to Mozart’s Requiem, one of things I never willingly miss. As it was played on “period instruments” I feared a somewhat stylised performance like a museum piece. I was most favourably surprised when I heard the first notes of the chorus, and indeed the soloists too – the word was attack. There was a slight difficulty with the score. Some of their soli were marked tutti in mine. And their readings of some ornaments differed, but I imagine they had checked this. Their rather fast tempi made the thing more dramatic. But they spoiled the Sanctus by tuning up after the Picardy third in G, and lost its dominant harmonic position. I often wondered of course whether those thirds are Sussmayer’s [Austrian composer who completed Mozart’s “Requiem”]. The second probably not, though the G major would indicate C. But every musician should have respect for D major. It is a sign that something is afoot! It hits you when you turn the page. But this done I felt the repetition after “sempiternum” was wrong. Did Mozart tell Sussmayer to do this? It was of course the only thing he could do!
August 27 Wednesday: The weather is desperate. There was perhaps a half-hour’s watery sunshine early on – good enough to go across the road for a paper in – but the clouds came over again, from the North-East. It was very cold and “tried to rain”. Stella Bond rang to say that Jane Tate was in hospital, having collapsed last night and wakened up there. She seems to be driven by a demon to be doing things. Two weekends ago she was in Norfolk, last weekend but one at Northampton, last weekend half in Kent. I can hardly believe she can be under medical care all the time, but perhaps this is the nervous effect of the high blood pressure and so on. She will probably be coming out tomorrow. Then she must be off to the Orkney Islands in pouring rain and the perishing cold. It wouldn’t do to lose her. I would prefer to lose Pat O’Donohue. She told me Paul Gilhooley came in but has gone out to see somebody unspecified. He seems not to be attempting to do his job but amusing himself. But I can understand that. There is no pressure on him. His mother is getting very bad, so this is not the time to apply it. But there will have to be a grand showdown this autumn. To make matters worse, Stella Bond is going away for a week.
She told me she had rang Fishers and they told her the money returned from the Inland Revenue is due to me. Very well, said I, send me the cheque. I worked it out that probably Pat O’Donohue was paying the amount of tax that would give me a certain figure. Therefore he had really thrown away the company’s money, not mine. But instead of explaining this, if it is this, he slammed down the phone on Stella. Very well then, let it be done as Fisher’s advise. It can sit in my account till any further arguments have been heard. Meanwhile I have been thinking about Paul Gilhooley and decided to adopt a policy myself and say nothing to anybody. I will tell him what he should be doing and press him to do it. If he doesn’t, well, we know where we are. Accordingly I wrote requesting a report of the organisational position of the Connolly Association. Waterford Trade Council have invited me to speak.
August 28 Thursday: I rang Pat Bond at the office and learned that Jane Tate had telephoned to say she would remain in hospital for a few days. Paul Gilhooley was not in though it was 11.10 am. Pat Bond gives out about Paul. He’s unreliable, makes the excuse of his mother’s illness. Now is this just foreman’s talk? Later, somewhat after 12, Paul rang. He says Hackney branch met last night and South-West London meets tonight. Now if this is happening this is progress. It may be part of Pat Bond’s “martyrdom complex” that nobody is any good but himself. It reminds me of Taylor, the engineering foreman at Catalin’s [where Greaves worked during World War 2]. If you complained that something wasn’t done he would say, “If I hadn’t such a shower of benighted cunts ….” I sorted some papers out. I sent John Boyd the pamphlet I revamped plus his own draft. I also wrote to Dorothea and Joe Jamison. In each case I raised the question of the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989. I sent Bebhinn 30/- for a copy of the immortal works of her boyfriend, John something-or-other, who is described as a “strong new talent” and who met Dorothea in Sweden. Cathal is a little disappointed at this English orientation. But she is going back to Ireland for a year to do again the examination she failed in. She seems to be knee deep in politics, and to be a little faggot in her way – a great young kid!
Paul Gilhooley rang up. But there was nothing. He has seen Noel Harris and is taking somebody to Brighton. I don’t believe he’ll sell any papers. Whenever it is mentioned there is a clear absence of response. There was a stormy sunset with a white sky.
August 29 Friday: Another chilly day, but slightly better. I had a word with Pat Bond and Paul Gilhooley. The latter claimed to be “seeing people” but makes no reports of whom he is has seen. I think they call it empire building! And Pat Bond is as bad! Paul says George Davies has sent a list of people to be invited on November 1st, and they are all New Communist Party. I don’t think he was pleased with this. Of course you have to watch the lot of them. I did a little in the garden but soon gave up. It is so damned cold and again there were warnings of ground frost, but not necessarily on the coast. But nothing will grow. There is not an edible runner bean. The broad beans are about 2″ long. The crabs, usually bright red the first week in August, are still green, the Tetragonia is not advanced enough to be cut, and there have so far been only three marrows from fifteen plants, as one male flower flowers another. It is overcast and gloomy all the time, though I think the wind is falling, and the improvement promised is continually deferred.
August 30 Saturday: Another cold cloudy day. I rang the office in the afternoon. Charlie Cunningham was there. He was going to see Jane Tate this evening. “How are you enjoying the winter weather?” he asked. A sheet of cloud must cover the whole country. There’ll be no tomatoes. They’re not seen flowering. I did a little gardening. I rang the bookshop and Charlie Cunningham was there. He told me he was going to see Jane Tate this evening.
August 31 Sunday: In the morning Charlie Cunningham rang. He had been to see Jane Tate. She had been to her brother’s and was coming back at night, and for some reason was negotiating steps – possibly near Russell Square tube. She remembers noticing how dark it was and saying to herself she must be careful. Then she knew no more and woke up in hospital, very badly bruised. I think probably she slipped.
Today it was fine but still cool. I collected the last of the blackcurrants. Then I finally got down to getting the South-West bed in order, and put down some colcannon, golden turnips, and water radishes. I dug up a few spinach-beet seedlings from among the pamphries and put them here too. Added to that I planted out the two “black” hollyhock seedlings and collected some wallflower seeds from old pods for the same place. The first borage flower came out and the apples are still green.
September 1 Monday: After a cloudy morning when there had been rain, the first sunny afternoon arrived. I cycled to the Prenton shops for one or two things. I had a word with Pat Bond but there is no news of Jane Tate. I think Paul Gilhooley has gone to the TUC. I think he will have a field day. I hope he takes papers! I did the review of Tom Collins’s book. I have only Crotty’s to do and then I am clear. Gerry Curran is getting out the next paper. The weather is still windy and unsettled but a few degrees warmer –perhaps up to 63F this afternoon.
September 2 Tuesday: Today was again better, fine, bright and warm if not greatly so. I went into Birkenhead and bought one or two things, then got in an hour or so in the garden. I started clearing the central patch between the West and North gardens. It abuts the garage, in the front of which I propose to dig a pit and pile cuttings and clippings in it to compost. But it is overgrown with matted goat-weed. No wonder the two rose bushes in it look unhappy. If I can do this, I will be already ahead of last year. But it began to rain at 5 pm. and that was that. Pat Bond rang, also Paul Gilhooley, and the latter said he was going to see Jane Tate.
September 3 Wednesday: It was dry and sunny and though a trifle chilly, pleasant enough. I did accounts in the morning and did nothing in the garden because of a cloudy spell in the afternoon that did not in the end come to anything. A letter from Pat Bond came, written to Michael Mortimer. I thought it was a copy, but Michael had not received the original. An Arthur Dempsey of Farnworth, Bolton, a friend of Paul Salveson, who has joined, sent me some leaflets about the “Birmingham Six”. We might do something here. I think Mullin [Chris Mullin, Labour MP for Sunderland South and campaigner on behalf of the wrongfully imprisoned “Birmingham Six”] would speak.
September 4 Thursday: In the morning Michael Mortimer came. He wanted a word with me about a meeting in Manchester, and also brought me a good load of timber to burn. I suggested we hold a meeting about the Birmingham prisoners and he agreed. I rang Joe O’Grady, who also agreed, and finally Barney Morgan. I wrote to Chris Mullin who is now in Scotland to ask him to speak. He might.
A few days ago Bebhinn wrote soliciting thirty shillings for a “thin book” of verse by her boyfriend John Goodby (not Goodbye), a twenty-eight-year old Birmingham man who has started at Hull and Leeds, is working on a translation of Heine and completing a PhD thesis on modern Irish poetry. His publisher describes him as a “strong new talent”. It’s not world shaking – very youthful. Still I’m glad she’s got somebody with something more than the average Englishman.
September 5 Friday: Another cool day, though dry. A letter from Paul Gilhooley came urging holding an early AGM. I decided it would not do, and it struck me that the issue must be the release of the men who have been wrongly imprisoned. If we launch one of our classical campaigns on this, we should build up enough of an organisation to hold a conference. I know that Pat Bond was inclined to give in to Paul Gilhooley over this. So I wrote to him offering my solution. Of course I will have to take charge of it myself.
September 6 Saturday: Cold and wet in the morning. I heard Jane Tate is quite bad and will have to have a skin graft. Paul Gilhooley had been to see her and thinks she will be in for a month. Of course this kills his November AGM. Pat Bond rang from home and said he supported my plan. I then wrote to Paul. Gerry Curran was in the shop.
September 7 Sunday: Though it was still cool, today was the best one since July – bright sunshine practically all day, and out of the wind, quite warm in the afternoon. I put in three hours in the garden, digging a trench by the garage into which I intend to load the rubbish from the clearances of the North-West, West and South-West beds, and hope for compost. This will mean the West garden is practically clear. But it is a bad year – no tomatoes at all, and runner beans only appearing now! Too cold for the Tetragonium – though I ordered it by mistake! And though from 15 plants I get a supply of marrows, the production of male flowers is the rule, typical of cold weather. I wrote to Paul Gilhooley. It will entail my going to London once a week. But I have worked out a plan.
September 8 Monday: The day began cold with clouds about. I rang Stella Bond, who said she would be visiting Jane Tate and seeing how she was. It was very cold in London. This would be about noon. I went into the garden, saw the wind was North by North-West and saw in the North perfectly clear sky and light anticyclonic clouds not seen for two years. And sure enough the sky cleared, and in the sun the temperature must have reached 65. I moved some of the cuttings and clippings into the trench, then left it to settle and went for a haircut. A letter came from Chris Mullin agreeing to speak on November 18th. It seems he is the prospective Labour candidate for Sunderland South. I got hold of Joe O’Grady who had already booked the room. In the evening Stella Bond rang. Jane has nasty bruises and they are performing a skin graft that seems to be taking. She is liable to be in hospital for ten days, has cancelled her holiday in Orkney (bless me!) and has decided to go to Yugoslavia at the end of the month. She is a terror for galloping around foreign parts. But it must be exhausting. She had some tests at St Bartholomew’s when she fell in Mecklenburgh Square. But that hospital has lost the records, so they all have to be done over again. There is talk of a heart valve not doing what it should. But Stella Bond found it very vague.
There was a “fine weather” sunset. But not the summery type with streams of red cirrus. The sky was completely cloudless and there was a red sun, for all the world like the sunset in dry frosty weather. I believed there could be frost. If the wind veered a couple of points on to the land, we’d be for it. Extraordinary!
September 9 Tuesday: I had a letter from Jane Tate. She is likely to be laid up for another ten days. She said Paul Gilhooley was in and said he was “arguing” with me over the AGM. She had opposed him. He rang up himself and I think Jane’s illness has convinced him that it won’t be possible anyway. But he tells me “all five” branches have decided to hold a meeting on the subject of the “Guildford Four”, though in a letter he says only one is functioning. Sales of the “Irish Democrat” at Brighton were “disappointing” but they met a lot of people. One draws one’s own conclusion. Now what is it? Is he trying to run a coordinated line of policy without reference to the Standing Committee? Or is it typical English opportunism – for politically he is English – looking for something popular? I trust him as far as I’d throw him. Of course it may be psychological character. Maybe. But one acts as if it was deliberate villainy, to be on the safe side.
John Boyd sent his pamphlet back. I was afraid he might have resented my re-writing it, but he did not. He said writing did not come easy to him. It reads quite well and we can push ahead with it.
There were radio warnings of frost, and even a mention of snow in Scotland. There is no comment on this, except an occasional reference to low dry temperature. But I never remember bothering my head about frost even in October. However, though I thought of putting a polythene shoot over the marrows, I judged there was enough wind to keep things clear. I got quite a bit done in the garden today, but also went into the city for cash.
September 10 Wednesday: The fine weather did not last. Today was the coldest yet – the papers recorded a mid-day temperature of only 53F. It might have touched 57 in mid-afternoon. There was a thick pall of cloud and a light but chilly North wind. Barney Morgan, who came in, had heard the weather reports and agreed with me that he had never heard of frost in mid- September. Of course the cloud kept it away last night. Pat Bond rang early on and said the London Co-op was holding a fringe meeting with an international slant. Would we send a speaker? When Barney came I asked him and he was reasonably inclined. A letter came from Jane Tate yesterday and I replied to it. I also sent John Boyd’s draft to Ripley and wrote to him. I sent Jane Tate a copy of the MS.
September 11 Thursday: Another runner-bean stalk is withering. It must be frost. And though the afternoon was bright with warm sunshine, get into the shade and you’d soon know what! At 5 pm. black clouds appeared in the East, but I expected no rain. They were winter clouds and the sky assumed the deep yellow that appears sometime in November. But this may be a sign of unsettlement and again it looks like a cloudy night. I posted off material to Gerry Curran, sent Barney Morgan some notes for his speech in Blackpool, and wrote to Michael Mortimer. I see that Professor McCarthy died suddenly at 61[ie. Irish trade union leader Charlie McCarthy, who was then working as an academic in TCD]. His wife is a decent woman and runs Marsh’s Library [ie. Mrs Muriel McCarthy,1931-2021]. I wondered whether I knew him well enough to send condolences.
September 12 Friday: Apart from the sunny afternoon, another cold day. And there are other signs of frost, so there must have been one. Of course by the time I get up the sun is well risen. I wrote to a few people. John Boyd sent me some copies of his mock-up and I sent one to Ron Bellamy in Leeds. I had feared he might resent my rewording of his pamphlet. But he didn’t. He was grateful and sent me a cheque to buy a bottle of whiskey! He is pretty adult and knows that the way to transcend one’s limitations is to get somebody else on the job. I spoke to Pat Bond. Paul Gilhooley is off sick. He is always complaining of headaches – which I put down to evening compotations. He is so full of himself, yet he doesn’t realise that he’s no better than his health allows him to be. I am nearly ready to go away. I have mowed the rubbish for the central bed to form the new compost heap and am clearing the South-West garden. I’m not touching the North this year. With luck I’ll get away on Tuesday.
September 13 Saturday: The weather was much the same, dry and chilly, and there are threats of snow on lower Scottish slopes. The barometer fell all day and clouds appeared, but it steadied in the evening and the sky looked fair. I got in an hour or two in the South-West garden. If it is fine tomorrow I might complete it. A letter came from Jane Tate to the effect that her skin graft has “taken” and she will be laid up another week in bed, will spend another week pottering and then go for a week somewhere in the south of England. She says she hopes I can carry out my plan of going to London once a week, as Pat Bond cannot control Paul Gilhooley.
September 14 Sunday: Dry, sunny, and very cool, with the wind now North-Northwest and the polar front 300 miles out of us. The winter will be either exceptionally mild or exceptionally cold. I give the former marginal probability. I got some done in the South-West garden, lopped the bay tree and cleared away much rubbish. But I doubt if I’ll get away on Tuesday. I listened to the Bh Sonata (106) in the evening, with Beethoven’s metronome markings changed. I thought the first movement improved. I’m not so sure about the last. The BBC said it was played 144, but my copy is marked 138. The same recital included the E Minor and A Major sonatas. It is with the latter that the “third period” begins, foreshadowing the Hammerklavier with fugues and recitatives also in the 9th Symphony.
September 15 Monday: It must have been Thursday – possibly even Friday – I wrote to the Post Office complaining that I had not had a morning mail delivery for weeks. They acted quickly. Today the delivery was at 9 am. Now what trickery is afoot? Ripley sent the quotation for John Boyd’s pamphlet and Fisher’s told me that the cheque from the Inland Revenue was due to me because Pat O’Donohue had overpaid in 1983. Apparently it was Fisher who found out, and (I wouldn’t be surprised) told Pat O’Donohue.
It was another cool dry day and I got more done than on any day up to now. I would say the South-West garden is half-clear. I’ll stay and finish the job.
September 16 Tuesday: Today was brighter again – no clouds in the sky till 12 noon – but though tolerable in the mid-afternoon still with a chilly North wind. I got some gardening done. A letter came from Colm Power. He had met Derry Kelleher who had been to a Quatorze Juillet thing at the French Embassy. Justin Keating was there and attacked the French Revolution! So the jackals are gathering. But Colm is now on speaking terms with Tony Coughlan. When his brother died I wrote to Tony, or rang him up, I forget which, and suggested he send condolences and try to repair the bridge. This must have happened as Colm Power had stood in for him as “Democrat” correspondent. I wrote to Derry Kelleher asking for more information. A friend of Jim Savage’s wrote for historical information – Oliver Murphy.
September 17 Wednesday: Another cold frustrating day with a real rip in the North wind. Pat Bond rang and said Paul Gilhooley was out with a sore throat. But the man himself rang later and sounded chirpy enough. Freda Morton sent me a paper clipping and I sent her some bay leaves. That bay was a foot high when I planted it – in 1967 I think – and now it’s as high as a house, a lovely tree. It is amazing that more people don’t plant them. Again the post was delivered at 9 am. – but now there is no second delivery. I wonder what they’re up to.
September 18 Thursday: The extraordinary weather continues. But today it was different. There was hardly any cloud. The barometer had shot up and there was a new aspect to the sky. Aeroplane trails were very short – a sign of dry weather – and in the sun it was pleasant, especially since the wind had dropped. But it was still from the North and the midday shade temperature was only 51F. I cycled down to the Prenton shops and posted letters and bay leaves to Peter Mulligan and Jane Tate. Apart from this I did little. There was a dry sunset – not even a cirrus, and the minute the sun had gone down one could feel the cold. I felt certain frost was imminent, and spread newspapers held down with cut raspberry canes over the marrows. They survived the last touch of frost, but this promises to be a serious one. I never remember even thinking of frost in September, not even at the end. Mid-October would be early. But I think there might be a change. If the wind got round only two points, if it backed North-Northwest, then there would be an improvement.
I wrote to Noel Harris and Gerry Curran, who (according to Stella Bond) was in the office with Paul Gilhooley and his mot, getting the paper out. The Birkenhead CP send me notices now. It appears that the Merseyside membership has risen “for the first time in years”. I gather that a character called Mewby is in the office. Whether Roger O’Hara is there a while I don’t know. It must be 25 years ago, if not more, that I went to a seminar called by the CP Economic committee, with J. R. Campbell in charge. They were all university rubbish and I remember telling R. Palme Dutt about them. He told me how before the war they had asked their university people to do a series for the “Daily Worker” on English novelists. “They wouldn’t do it,” he said, “And we had to get T.A. Jackson.” Well, one of the worst revisionists was this Mewby. I remember James Klugmann defending him on the grounds that he was a “nice lad”. Well, this one is probably his son. Among the nonsense they plan is putting up a Parliamentary candidate against Bob Parry [1933-2000, Labour MP for Liverpool Exchange]. For what reason? God Knows!
September 19 Friday: The wind had backed a couple of points, so though there was a very heavy dew there was no frost, and the day was tolerable, without that icy North wind, though it was not hot – perhaps 62 or 63F. I went into Birkenhead and bought one or two things.
Pat Bond sent me “Hibernia” [ie. the Dublin literary and current affairs paper]. There was a brief review of some poems by Charlie Donnelly, and talks about their suppression by the executor of his estate, and the suggestion that Ewart Milne had got them out under a bogus Spanish colophon. I never met Charlie Donnelly, as I went to London in December 1936 and didn’t know my way around. I used to buy the “Irish Worker’s Voice” from Bill O’Toole from 1934 but knew nobody in the Republican Congress. But during and after the war Leslie Daiken used to give out about Devin Adair [the publishers], to whom he had sent Charlie Donnelly’s poems and they would neither publish them nor return them. The man had not made copies! But there was no question of executors. I wonder if his useless brother has tried to concoct some kind of legal title in order to suppress them on political grounds. Of course as he was killed in 1939 they’ll be out of copyright next year. This critic John Jordan makes a sly attack on the red communist elements that wrecked the Republic – an absolute libel!
September 20 Saturday: Another dry day and distinctly milder now the wind is round to the West. I didn’t go out except for papers and groceries, but did an hour in the garden.
September 21 Sunday: The cloud and darkness back again. I did some clearing up in the house, otherwise nothing much.
September 22 Monday: A gloomy start, though it cleared in the late afternoon. I got some work done, however. The last day of summer, so that is kaput.
September 23 Tuesday: Another miserable dark gloomy day, with a tendency to drizzle. And what was happening in it was little better. I spent it getting ready to go away tomorrow, eating the house empty etc. I got no response from Jane Tate’s number, so rang Pat Bond. He says things do not look good. The doctors suspect some malfunction of the heart and talk about inserting a pacemaker. I am quite sure she attempts too much. She is always at something – even going on archaeological digs. And her twin brother had a big heart operation.
September 24 Wednesday (Dolgoch): I came to Dolgoch today – amid signs of the weather taking up. It was cool and cloudy but showed signs of clearing. There was no trouble getting the machine on the underground train to Hooton, but I had an accident at Nunt yr Lwch at the exact place where I came off two years ago – a curving road, a steep left and loose gravel. No bones broken, I quickly assured myself, but the left leg below the knee looked a mess – scratches and a protuberant swelling I took to be blood in the tissue. A car stopped just behind me and the driver kindly put the machine (undamaged) on board and drove me to Dolgoch. He was from “North-East England,” had been a cyclist for years, was taking a day off after several days climbing in Brecon and was a veterinary surgeon in his mid-forties. He told me whatever I did, to get my leg up. The first couple of hours made all the difference. De Roe had him looking at his cat but there was nothing wrong with it. Apparently he repeated his instructions to De Roe, who made me a cup of tea. In the middle of it all a young fellow of about 22 came in, pronouncing himself a nurse. “I don’t think a man should be called a nurse,” said De Roe. “When I was in the Army Medical Corps we were orderlies.” After about an hour I knew all was well. I remember telling a doctor I met on the train that I knew when I was well and when I was not, though I didn’t know how. He told me that some people did and others didn’t. The nurse said he didn’t and wished he did. It might be nothing more complicated than the cessation of adrenaline or some other hormone. Anyway, he was a pleasant young fellow who played chess, but badly. He had no strategy. He had been a student of geography but had not passed. He wanted to write novels. He was a cyclist and had recently been in Spain with a girlfriend. He had begun as a porter and graduated to the grade of student nurse. He was quite “left” but saw little hope in this country and intended to emigrate. A Londoner.
The effects of the frosts were visible as soon as I reached elevated land. The colours were bizarre. A whole tree, a half tree, even a branch of a tree, would be brilliant yellow or even red. But these were not normal autumnal shades. Sometimes green leaves were frostbitten. Some rowans had brilliant displays of berries against green leaves. Others had black leaves. I don’t think I saw this before. By 10 pm., though a little tired, I decided I was none the worse for the adventure.
September 25 Thursday: The sky had been clear and I expected a frost, but there was none. Instead there was a typical 1986 pall of cloud. I asked De Roe did he ever remember a frost in September. He said he did not.
September 26 Friday (Blaencaron): Again though it was clear at night it was cloudy by day-time and there was no frost. It was cool, however, not cold, and I went to Tregaron, had a drink, took lunch and went to look at the second-hand books in the junk shop. For 10p. I bought Douglas Hyde’s “I Believed”, which I did not read when it came out [Douglas Hyde, 1911-1996, defector from the CPGB]. Of course he exaggerates his importance in the movement, and his chronology is vague, the sure sign of somebody with something to hide. His absurd allegation that tramps were picked up on the Embankment, got drunk in London and Paris and then found themselves in the International Brigade, gives you his measure. The notion of Hyde making policy is laughable. I only came across him once – this is enough to show you how limited was his importance. It was during the war, soon after I returned to London. Bernard Voss, whom I had known in Wimbledon, had invited me to a meeting of the journalists’ group that met in Fleet Street. I was to speak on publicising the Irish question. But when the chairman announced the agenda, Alan Winnington – I think that is the correct Christian name; the man was later in China – objected [Alan Winnington, 1910-1983]. He said there was a plan to reorganise the work of the group which would mean “everybody” getting better publicity. Of course it never came. In those days of course, though I was in constant touch with Jimmy Shields, I did not understand his condemnation of the “rotten chauvinism” (as he called lit) prevalent in the CPGB. Of course I protested, but to no avail. It must have been soon afterwards that George Rudé, then a panjandrum of the London District Committee joined with the Kay Beauchamp to get me banned from speaking to a branch [George Rudé, 1910-1993, Marxist historian]. He said it was unfair that my exceptional persuasive abilities should be brought to bear on those innocents. I never had a queerer compliment. But thinking of them makes my blood boil. I wish I could go back through time and bang their heads together, preferably with destructive effect. But the strange thing is that Hyde took my part. He also took the same stand on the war.
On the way to Blaencaron I met Marian, now nearly 21, and resplendent in red and blue, a very personable good-looking young woman showing at the same time her solid peasant stock. Later on two young men from Cardiff came, but there was nothing to them.
September 27 Saturday: Seventy-three today! Marian came in with the news that she had seen eight cars come up the lane. “What sort of people were in them?” “Oh, well-to-do people, I would say.” So what is cooking? She is working for the National Farmers’ Union in Aberystwyth and gets a lift every day from Tregaron. A Japanese came later, then four Cardiffs, one about 55, another a trifle estudiantine, the other nondescript. I finished Hyde’s book and scribbled some annotations in it.
September 28 Sunday: The cloud continues, but there is no rain and it is mild. A man from Hull came, a cyclist and a vegetarian. He refused some chicken soup I offered him and dined off a kind of risotto of undressed rice, “soya milk” and soya oil. He would not eat fish, eggs or butter and would not use soap to wash as (he thought) it contained animal fat.
September 29 Monday (Dolgoch): I decided to return to Dolgoch. The morning was cloudy but the sky cleared at 1 pm. and the day was brilliant. A Liverpool woman came. She lives in Mold and is engaged in setting up mountain bothies out of sight of the road. She says the army who use Wales as a training ground rip the timber out of any house that survives. De Roe bemoaned the “privatisation” of the YHA.
September 30 Tuesday: The weather was brilliant. I cycled into LLanwrtyd for supplies. De Roe complains of the prices in Tregaron. Llanwyrtyd is becoming touristified and the prices are rising there too. It was misty at Llanwrtyd but clear and warm on the top. So far I have come across no rain, an oddity for me, as I usually strike shocking weather. Nobody came.
(End of Vol. 35, Oct.1985 – Sept. 1986; c. 57,000 words)