Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 37, 1987-88
1 July 1987 – 31 May 1988
Editor’s Note: As Desmond Greaves died suddenly in August 1988 at the age of 75, this volume of his Journal and the next one, Vol.38, cover the last year of his life. The fact that the reader knows of Greaves’s impending death, while he does not, adds a touch of pathos to these daily entries.
THEMES: Organises Connolly Association school on imperialism and the EEC in London (7.12) – On the divisions in the CPGB: “I see no light in the CP troubles. They’ve a conference in November. What should they say about Ireland, he asks. What does it really matter? They’re not interested in it anyway. The only thing is that a good resolution put down might prevent a revisionist programme being established. But are they capable even of that?…I used to say that the less they had to do with it the better I was pleased. That was when they had power to do damage. Do they retain that power? Very little of it I would think.” (7.18) – Works on his comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”: “However, the ‘Epic’ is shaping reasonably and though I have only a quarter of it done, I am more confident of finishing it and think it contains some good stuff. What other people will think is of course a different matter. The main thing is that whatever about detail, I have the main drift of it in my head.”(8.9) – Makes plans for the Connolly Association’s 50th anniversary year: “I had drawn up plans for an ambitious programme for 1988, and (I suppose now I’ll have to say, ‘if I’m spared’) I intend to put it through myself.” (8.15) – Leads excursion to places in Edinburgh associated with James Connolly: “It is indeed the highest point the Connolly Association ever reached in Scotland and it is thanks to my decision to found it on Scottish soil.” (8.30) – Meets CPGB General Secretary Gordon McLennan at the Trades Union Congress in Blackpool: “I told him that I was taking no part in the CP ructions, but that if at any time in the future it was possible to recreate unity I would be willing to be associated with that.” (9.8) – Organises conference in London on “British Labour and the Irish Question”: “This was the first time these issues have been frankly discussed, so it is a distinct step forward.”(10.24) – Recollections of incidents of Special Branch surveillance (10.25) – Makes plans for 1988: “We intend to make 1988 the Connolly Association jubilee year whose highest point will be the conference planned for 50 years after the original one, which was 4 September 1938. This will be one of the best ever opportunities to have a real expansion…” (10.31) – On his portrait: “He has had framed the picture Freda Morton painted of me; it must have been around 1944 or 1945. I imagine that when I see it I will want to do a Yeats and “spit into the face of time”, even though time has not done its worst on me – yet.” (11.18) – Criticism of the growth of Irish Studies courses in British universities: “He agreed with me that there must be a strong political motive in all this government spending on Irish Studies. Of course I explained it to him. To take one example, Irish is to be taken off the Gaelic League. Instead of the self-generated activity of the Irish, poor as it may be, we are to have a well-regulated curriculum.” (12.2) – Organises a course of lectures on Ireland for the Liverpool Connolly Association branch (12.15) – Celebratory events in Liverpool and London to mark his 40 years’ editorship of the “Irish Democrat” (1.25 and 2.5) – Dealing with Inland Revenue issues relating to the CA bookshop manager (2.3 et seq) – Intimations of mortality: “I tripped on the stairs last night. I did not feel anything much, was going to bed, was not drunk but had drink taken…I am not absolutely sure that I didn’t ‘black out’. So sometime I must have the ticker tested.” (2.7) – Concern at Labour Party and CP “backsliding” on the EEC: “We discussed starting a campaign against the EEC. He thinks that people dislike it but can see no way out. We have to find a way that goes forward out of it, not backward. The Labour Party are drawing up a policy based on total slavish capitulation.” (2.5); “I wrote to Tony Benn about the need for a distinct anti-EEC policy for the Labour Party…George Davies had also told me that he is helping John Boyd to start a ‘British Sovereignty movement’, one of the proposals I put to himself and Benn.” (2.8-9) – On the CPGB divisions: “But my mind is made up. I will help anything that appears to be going in the right direction. I regard all these groups, NCP, CCG, CPGB, as schismatics, whereas the Trotskies are heretics. I know, I think, the cause of the splits, or rather one cause: the socialist countries consistently behaved in a way the western CPs could not endorse without isolating themselves. As P.C.Joshi’s phrase was, apropos of the Indians, ‘They could not solve the problem, so they split.’ This happened here, first the NCP, then the CCG, though they were thrown out. I could solve the problem because of the national question. The Irish could afford to say to the British Government, ‘There now! That’s your fault. Look what you’ve made them do!’ and the movement could maintain its unity on the basis of the usually correct assumption that the villain of the piece was British imperialism, something even the British Left often fail to see. Those who felt international duty should be done no matter what the resultant isolation, stood by Marxism in the somewhat sectish blue-print in the ‘British Road to Socialism’, which should be renamed, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice?’ This is nonsense, and because the Communist Campaign Group say they are re-establishing on this nonsense, I think they will not enjoy success. But those who decided internationalism took second place became a prey to every revisionist absurdity and seem to be prepared to swallow the EEC hook, line and sinker. Thus McCabe tonight says, ‘We’re in it up to our necks. We’ll never get out now.’ So a whole new line of policy needs evolving…” (3.19) – Opening of exhibition on James Connolly in Liverpool: “I made the special point that this was an exhibition about Connolly as Connolly saw things, and that this was better history than attempting an ‘impartial’ presentation. Let Connolly speak for himself and let the public draw their own conclusions.” (4.12) – Organises Irish conference in Leicester (4.16) – Planning to reorganise the Liverpool CA branch (4.17) – Opposes CPI support for devolution in Northern Ireland: “I also tackled him about the ‘devolved assembly’ and told him if there was to be any devolution in Ireland, the Irish must devolve themselves.” (5.13) – Complains of lack of energy: “I’m a bit lacking in energy these days. Whether it is due to advancing years or to not having a holiday last year, is hard to say. I’ll try to get a few days in June, and then have a proper holiday in September and October.” (5.30) – Speaks at the Gralton School in Co. Leitrim in May 1988 (5.14) – Attending or organising meetings in London, Liverpool, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Northampton, St Helens, Birmingham and Bristol (passim)
Index to Volume 37: 1 July 1987 – 31 May 1988
[Editor’s 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 37 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: 8.9,10.28, 11.6, 11.22, 12.18, 12.25, 12.27,
1.17, 2.16, 2.18-19, 3.2, 3.6, 3.19, 4.3, 5.1
Assessments of others: 7.10, 8.24, 10.6, 10.10, 11.11, 1.31, 4.7
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 7.21, 8.15, 12.2, 12.5
Campaigning in Britain in defence of the Nation State: 10.24, 11.5
Campaigning on European supranational integration/the EEC: 9.10, 10.15,
10.19, 11.5, 11.16, 1.16, 2.5, 2.8, 2.20, 3.8, 3.10, 3.19
Holidays/cycle tours: 9.2, 9.4
Meteorology, interest in: 10.22, 12.15, 12.28, 1.29, 3.20
Self-assessments and personal plans: 8.15, 9.8, 9.13, 10.31, 11.7, 12.26,
Verse: Comic epic, “Elephants Against Rome”: 8.6, 8.9, 8.15, 8.17, 4.3
Organisation Names Index
Birmingham Six Campaign Committee: 10.14, 1.29, 2.24, 3.9, 4.23
British Labour Party: 7.4, 2.5, 2.8
Celtic League: 1.8
Communist Campaign Group: 9.8, 9.17, 11.25, 12.3, 2.11, 3.19, 3.26
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 7.13, 8.29, 9.8, 9.10, 9.13, 10.10,
11.7, 11.16, 11.25, 12.3, 2.7, 2.11-12, 3.10, 3.19, 3.24, 3.26, 4.20, 5.11, 5.28
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 7.13, 2.3, 3.10, 3.27, 4.19, 5.11, 5.13-14,
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 8.29-30, 10.15, 10.31, 11.19, 12.16,
1.13, 1.20, 2.20, 3.19, 3.24, 3.26, 3.27, 4.20, 4.30, 5.13
Greater London Council: 2.4, 2.11
Irish in Britain Representation Group (IBRG): 7.20, 10.29, 11.14, 12.2
National Union of Railwaymen (NUR): 7.11, 7.13
New Communist Party: 7.13, 9.8, 3.10, 3.19, 5.28
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Officials”(Sinn Fein the Workers Party/“Stickies”): 3.4, 3.10
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Provisionals”: 5.21
Straight Left: 2.27, 5.11
Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence (TUIUI): 5.19
Personal Names Index
Abbott, Syd: 3.24
Adams, Gerry: 1.17
Alexander, Bill: 1.15, 3.24
Barone, Signora Rosangela: 9.17
Bellamy, Ron and Joan: 7.12
Benn, Tony, MP: 8.21, 8.25, 10.19, 10.23, 11.5, 11.9, 11.14, 2.8 -9, 2.13,
2.17, 2.20, 3.10
Bennett, J. Godolphin: 10.25
Bernal, Martin: 7.18, 9.17
Beethoven, Ludwig van: 12.25, 12.27, 3.6
Bew, Paul: 1.26
Blevins, J.: 12.3
Bloor, Geoffrey: 7.4
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 7.1, 8.6, 9.27, 10.18, 11.17, 11.29, 12.5, 12.12,
12.19, 1.2-3, 1.20, 1.27, 2.3-12, 2.18, 2.20, 2.24, 3.8, 3.22, 4.20,
4.22, 5.7-9, 5.22
Bond, Stella: 9.28, 1.2, 2.8, 3.22, 5.7
Bowers, Joe: 7.17, 5.28
Boyd, John: 7.12, 10.15, 10.31, 11.5, 11.7, 12.2, 12.7, 1.8, 1.16, 2.5, 2.8,
2.17, 2.20, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10
Brecht, Bertolt: 5.1
Bree, Declan: 11.10, 2.3, 5.14
Brooke, Rupert: 11.5
Buckland, Professor Patrick: 4.12, 5.19
Byrne, Paddy: 3.27, 5.14
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 10.23, 12.24
Carritt, Michael: 5.8
Charles, Wilf: 9.21, 3.26
Chater, Tony: 10.14, 12.3, 4.20
Clancy, Paddy: 1.19
Clinton, Mark: 10.4, 3.6
Cole, Stan: 10.26
Connolly, Fiona: 7.4
Connolly, Roddy: 7.4
Corbyn, Jeremy: 11.14
Cornford, John: 4.7
Cornforth, Maurice: 4.7
Costello, Michael: 10.10
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 7.2, 7.9, 9.3-4, 9.27, 10.2, 10.23, 10.24-25,
11.5, 11.23, 11.28, 12.1, 12.21, 12.24, 12.28, 12.31, 1.7, 1.25-26,
2.2, 2.3, 2.27, 3.16, 3.26, 4.7, 4.12-14, 4.28-29, 5.12-14
Cowman, Eddie: 4.20, 5.13-14
Cox, Idris: 11.5
Cronin, Seán: 5.14
Crotty, Raymond: 9.5
Crowe, Michael: 9.13, 11.7, 2.20
Cunningham, Charlie: 11.10, 12.12, 5.7, 5.22, 5.24
Curran, Gerard: 7.4, 11.19, 12.5, 12.19, 3.9, 4.19, 5.10, 5.17-18
Daly, Doris: 5.14, 5.22
Danaher, Nessan: 12.2-3, 12.15, 12.20, 12.24, 1.28, 1.31, 3.6, 3.11, 4.16
Davies, George: 7.21, 8.21, 8.25, 8.30, 9.8, 9.28, 10.20, 10.29, 2.11, 3.6,
3.27, 4.21, 5.25, 5.28
Deighan, Dorothy: 7.17, 5.14
Deighan, Joseph: 1.13, 1.17, 2.3, 3.24, 4.2, 5.11, 5.14, 5.28
Denning, Lord Justice: 3.9
Devlin, Bernadette: 5.19
Doherty, Pat: 4.17, 4.20, 4.30, 5.25
Donaghey, Tony: 9.19, 9.27, 10.6
Donnelly, Charlie: 2.16
Dooley, Pat: 1.9
Doyle, Bob: 2.5
Durkin, Tom: 9.28
Durrell, Penny and David: 9.4
Eagleton, Terry: 8.15
Einstein, Albert: 8.6
Ellis, Peter Berresford: 8.5, 10.31, 11.1, 11.17, 11.21, 12.28, 1.21, 2.23,
Emery, Jean: 12.12
Farrell, Niall: 12.1, 3.10, 4.2, 5.13-14
Farrell, Jennifer: 5.14
Farrington, Brian: 8.30
Fleming, Eric: 7.1
Freeman, John: 7.17, 8.4, 2.3, 4.2, 5.28
Friel, Jim: 8.30
Frow, Eddie and Ruth: 3.26
Gallacher, Willie: 8.12
Gaster, Jack: 12.3, 12.12, 2.4, 2.6, 2.9, 2.12, 3.26
Gibson, John and Veronica: 7.27, 8.8, 4.26
Gilhooley, Paul: 7.4, 11.25, 12.5, 1.19, 4.20
Gill, Ken: 9.8
Gordon, Noel: 4.20
Guest, David: 4.7
Guinan, Martin: 3.19
Harris, Noel: 5.5
Hawkins, Dave: 9.8
Haydn, Joseph: 2.17
Heatley, R.H.W.(Bobby): 5.14
Heffer, Eric, MP: 9.16, 11.21
Herbert, Michael: 8.5, 8.13, 9.14, 9.21, 11.14, 3.26, 5.29-30
Heussaff, Alan: 1.10, 2.19
Hoffman, John: 7.24
Hume, John, MP: 1.17
Jacques, Martin: 8.29
Jamison, Joe: 8.4, 3.6, 3.16
Johnson, Len: 9.21
Johnston, Roy: 7.2, 7.10, 2.2
Joshi, P.C.: 3.19
Keable, Ken: 2.5
Kelleher, Derry: 10.31
Kelsey, Howard: 7.12
Kibble, Brett: 8.30
King, Jim: 11.14
Klugmann, James: 8.29
Knapp, Jimmy: 7.11
Kneafsey, Michael: 7.19, 7.27,10.29, 11.14, 1.29, 2.1, 2.11, 2.26-27, 4.21,
Knowles, Lorraine: 9.21, 12.16, 3.18, 4.8-9, 4.12, 4.28, 4.30, 5.17
Larkin, Denis and “Young”Jim: 7.4
Lenin, V.I.: 11.21
Logan, Josephine: 7.24, 7.29, 11.10, 11.24, 12.16, 4.16
Loyden, Eddie, MP:
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónal: 9.24
McClelland, John: 1.17, 1.25, 4.13
McCormack, Inez: 8.4
McCorry, Kevin: 1.17, 5.14, 5.28
Mac Craith, Donal (MacGrath): 12.16, 12.19, 1.20
MacDaid, Turlough: 8.18-19, 8.30
MacEoin, Uinseann: 11.26
McGahey, Michael, “Mick”: 9.8
McGill, Jimmy: 5.30
McGree, Leo: 3.19
McGurk, John: 12.15, 1.21, 2.15
McLennan, Gordon: 8.12, 9.8
MacLiam, Bebhinn (Nic Liam): 12.29, 1.7, 2.5
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 7.25, 12.29, 2.5, 4.13, 5.12
MacLiam, Conor: 4.13
MacLiam, Egon: 4.13
MacLiam, Finula: 2.5
MacLiam, Killian: 1.7
McNally, Tony: 4.16
McNamara, Kevin, MP: 8.10, 8.13
Maguire, Ann: 7.31
Meehan, John: 5.14
Mitchell, Ellen: 8.9, 8.30, 3.6, 5.9
Monks, Joe: 1.9, 1.15
Morgan, Austen: 3.24, 3.28, 4.2, 4.28, 5.16
Morgan, Barney: 9.2, 11.25, 12.3, 12.16, 2.19, 2.28, 3.16, 3.20, 3.27, 4.12,
Moriarty, Martin: 7.1, 7.28, 8.15, 8.21, 8.29, 10.14, 10.24, 11.7, 12.9,
12.20, 12.28, 1.3, 1.9, 1.13, 2.5, 2.20, 4.19-21, 5.7, 5.11
Morrissey, Hazel: 2.3, 5.28
Morrissey, Michael: 11.18, 1.26, 2.3, 5.28
Mortimer, Michael: 7.4, 7.15, 7.23, 9.15, 11.4,11.18,12.17, 2.28, 3.13, 4.15,
Morton, Alan 2 (Sociologist): 7.15, 12.17
Morton, Alan G. Prof.: 7.1, 8.18, 8.29, 1.13, 3.15, 4.7
Morton, Alisoun: 8.29, 11.18, 3.15
Morton, Vivienne: 10.3, 10.12
Mozart, Wolfgang A.: 3.2
Mulready, Sean and Liam: 2.24
Mulligan, Peter: 7.4, 8.21,12.2, 1.12, 2.6, 2.17-18, 3.17, 4.16
Mullin, Chris, MP: 3.9
Newsinger, John: 7.7, 11.30, 12.2
Nolan, Sean: 1.9,1.15, 5.13
O’Connor, Peter: 5.14
O’Doherty, Fergal: 8.30, 9.9, 11.18, 3.3-4, 3.6
O’Doherty, Pat: see Doherty
O’Donohue, Pat: 11.29, 2.3, 2.6, 2.20, 2.24, 3.9
O’Dowling, Elsie (née Timbey): 7.12, 1.2
O’Flaherty, Derek: 7.1, 7.28, 7.31, 8.29, 12.28, 5.19
O’Grady, Joe: 9.16, 10.29, 11.21, 1.12, 4.15, 4.17, 4.28
O’Herlihy, Cal: 2.5
Ó Loingsigh, Micheál: 9.3
Ó Murchú, Eoin: 5.14
O’Reilly, Gerald: 5.14
O’Riordan, Michael:10.15, 1.15, 1.26, 2.3, 4.28, 5.13
Ó Snodaigh, Pádraig: (See Snoddy, Oliver)
O’Shea, Dr Elisabeth,“Betty”/Máire: 11.14, 12.2
Power, Colm: 9.3, 10.2
Redmond, Sean: 1.26, 2.23, 3.4, 4.16
Riddell, John: 8.6, 4.7
Rossiter, Robbie/Bobby: 2.5
Sacchini, Antonio: 2.17
Saidlear, Muriel: 1.24-26, 4.13, 5.12, 5.14
Scott, Bill: 3.5
Semerano, Giovanni: 9.17
Short, Clare, MP: 10.24
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 9.5
Snoddy, Oliver (Ó Snodaigh): 8.20, 2.15, 3.16, 3.18
Stewart, Jimmy: 7.17
Stowell, Brian: 1.25
Taplin, Eric: 3.26
Tate, Jane: 7.12, 7.19, 8.8, 9.4, 9.13, 12.19, 1.15, 2.5, 2.8, 2.18, 3.22, 3.29,
Trask, Roger: 11.25, 12.3
Walsh, Tom: 9.16, 9.18, 10.7, 1.27
July 1 Wednesday (Liverpool): A completely dry day with occasional bursts of sun, but with a cool North-West wind. I went into Birkenhead to buy food and posted another batch of circulars for July 12 [This July 12 event was a day school on imperialism being organised in London by the Connolly Association for members and non-members. Desmond Greaves had made his base for some years at his family home in Prenton, Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. From there he edited the Connolly Association’s monthly newspaper, the “Irish Democrat”. He frequently travelled up to London by train to attend to Connolly Association business at its office on the Grays Inn Road, WC1. As the CA’s full-time organiser had resigned a short while before, Greaves was CA General Secretary as well as editor of its monthly newspaper in this the last year of his life, as he had been for some years. He was also helping to keep his local Liverpool Branch of the CA going]. A letter came from Eric Fleming [Dublin Trade unionist dealing with the building trade] who has given a report on our building conference to ICTU and got their offer of cooperation. I photocopied his letter and will send it to UCATT, TGWU and the Joint Sites Committee. A letter also came from Pat Bond – fair enough, with personal estimates of the people in Glasgow, but no political estimate [Pat Bond was a longstanding Connolly Association activist and having retired from paid employment, he was currently acting as bookshop manager in the CA office at 244-246 Grays Inn Rd. Greaves frequently criticised him for his being an “organisation man” and for his “lack of politics”]. Still it was something. Jane Tate rang [Jane Tate was a longstanding Connolly Association activist, an Englishwoman, now in her 70s, who acted as treasurer of the CA] to say both Martin Moriarty and Derek O’Flaherty [two recent young members] seem to be keen on getting something done, but Ciaran Corcoran is not doing anything and nobody turned up at the Bronterre O’Brien meeting [This was a meeting commemorating the Irish-born Chartist leader Bronterre O’Brien which Corcoran was supposed to have organised in East London]. There is a postal strike in Bloomsbury and she is isolated. And later Alan Morton rang up saying he thought we could find a room in Edinburgh for the Scottish members’ meeting [Professor Alan G. Morton, the botanist, was Greaves’s oldest friend from his university days]. He asked about my eyes and was surprised that the pressure is not down to normal [He was taking regular eye-drops at this time to ward off incipient glaucoma]. I can tell this because there are still slight phosphenes, above all when I am playing the piano. He asked if I had any copies of “By The Clock ‘Tis Day”[ie. the book of poems jointly authored by Alan Morton and Desmond Greaves, published in 1946]. I could only find one. He has two but would like a half dozen. Two splendid poppies came out in the garden.
July 2 Thursday: A reasonable day, not very warm, but bright. I thought of gardening but had a bit of a cold. A letter came from Tony Coughlan [Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat”, Trinity College academic and anti-EEC political activist]. He is in debt to the bank for a loan taken to pay his personal expenses in the SEA campaign [ie. the campaign on the 1986/7 Crotty case and the Single European Act referendum the previous May; see Vol.36]. This is presumably the explanation of his appearing to “take over” the campaign – a sort of benign Pat Bond. He talks of coming over later in July. And he is talking of suing two authors and Heinemans for libel. They have said he was in the IRA [ie. in the 1960s – a false allegation that had been made in a book on the Provisional IRA by Belfast journalists Bishop and Mallie]. I replied saying he should think carefully before suing. If he could get a retraction and at the same time not make too much noise about it, he might get the best of both worlds. The anti-Republicans would be reassured he was not in it; the Republicans would reflect on how close he must have been [Anthony Coughlan’s legal action over alleged IRA membership in the 1960s was eventually settled out of court, with the publishers agreeing to pay a five-figure sum in damages, plus costs]. He is buying “Black Athena” [ie. the book by Martin Bernal about Greek culture being heavily indebted to the Egyptians, which Greaves was enthusiastic about] and I told him about Roy Johnston’s writing me his absurd letter.
July 3 Friday: I didn’t get much done today – planted out a couple of cucumbers that were overgrowing their peat pots. It was sunny and warm – not far off 70F I would say – but cooled in the evening. I did a notice-cum-bulletin for the E.C. members and took up the Scottish members’ meeting.
July 4 Saturday: Today was a warm summer’s day, with very little cloud. I did some more on the Augean stable the garden has become. Gerry Curran rang at midday [Gerry Curran was a longstanding CA member who brought out the “Irish Democrat” when Desmond Greaves went on holiday, usually in October or later in the year]. He was in the shop. He says that Conor [ie. one of his two sons] has taken his degree and he himself is retiring in August and is giving a party on September 5th to which I am invited. But I have the Liverpool excursion on the 6th. Later I had a word with Peter Mulligan [A longstanding CA member who ran the local branch in Northampton], who is running a garden party, so quickly is the atrocious June weather forgotten. I heard on RTE that Denis Larkin [One of ITGWU founder James Larkin’s two sons] is dead and was buried today. I first met him around 1947 in the Thomas Ashe Hall, but though I knew young Jim from even earlier, I was, as is natural, much closer to the Connolly family. Apart from Fiona, who was far the best, they were none of them great shakes, though Roddy Connolly had the ability.
I had a word with Joe O’Grady. Despite his promise to be a model secretary from now on, Michael Mortimer has not communicated regarding the meeting next Wednesday week. He swore he would be in touch with us in 24 hours. Joe O’Grady had heard nothing. [These were Liverpool branch members. Joe O’Grady, who was a strong Catholic, was active with local MP Eric Heffer in the Labour Party. Michael Mortimer’s employment was erratic and Greaves frequently acted as effective secretary of the Liverpool branch.]
Gerry Curran, by the way, said Paul Gilhooley had called in and “seemed better”[Paul Gilhooley was the former Connolly Association national organiser in London who had recently resigned that position. He had not been a successful organiser]. He has invited him to speak in West London. He seems to be on his best behaviour when he is given no responsibility, but once he gets it kicks over the traces. So he’s not getting it.
July 5 Thursday: A truly magnificent day today, though I did little with it. I thought of going cycling, then of gardening. But it was too hot. I got the hosepipe out and watered such plants as are planted out. I got hold of Michael Mortimer and he has got Alan Morton 2 for the meeting [Alan Morton 2 was a College lecturer in Edge Hill College, Liverpool, CA activist Michael Mortimer having been one of his students. These were members of the Liverpool Connolly Association branch]. The women can’t manage it [ie. various women Greaves had been seeking to get as speakers for successive Liverpool branch meetings].
I had a look at this old 1946 diary I found. It runs from May to September [This is Vol.8 of the Journal]. I think I will repeat what I did with 1933-35. It is, unlike those, written in standard spelling [In the original early journals he seemingly had used his own form of spelling, which he corrected when he rewrote them towards the end of his life as Vols.1-3 in this edition]. But some need to be scrapped as inconsequent – in some cases I can’t remember whom I was writing about. Others need to be substantially expanded. I found the abbreviation GB. Who on earth could it be? It was apparently George Bernard. But if the record is to be of any future use, explanatory matter will have to be inserted. What a pity the other volumes got dispersed or destroyed. Above all I would like to have 1936. The record, as far as it goes. brings in FMJ [F.M. Jones] at the end of 1935. But I think he attended two CP student conferences with me. And Bloor can have come in not until the winter of 1936. I wonder if Bloor is still alive. In the evening I rang up Dublin and spoke to Susanne Redmond. Sean Redmond is at a meeting [Sean Redmond worked for the Municipal Employees Trade Union, later IMPACT, in Dublin. He had been Connolly Association General Secretary in the 1960s]. She will ask Tom Redmond to do an obituary on Denis Larkin [Tom and Sean Redmond were brothers. Sean was in the Irish Labour Party at this time, Tom in the CPI].
July 6 Monday: Another magnificent day, though a few degrees cooler. I still judged it too hot to spend the afternoon in the garden. I planted out two cucumbers in the evening. The Victoria plum is covered with aphids. I went to Forzos to get a can of derris aerosol. In the evening Jean Brown came [From the house immediately next door]. A few days ago the postman brought a parcel of Devonshire cream addressed to No.122 and said as she was away would I put it in the refrigerator for her. This is the sort of thing impossible in London. Here people feel they are part of one community, just as in Dublin.
July 7 Tuesday: It was dry and bright but cooler – perhaps 65F. I went to the bank in the city, bought food and drank 250 cc. of wine in Lime Street while I read the CPI appeal to the “Provos” to declare a ceasefire. It is not accompanied with any clear alternative and they will take no notice. I doubt they will even reply. But the “Devolved Assembly” they have transmitted to Glasgow is hidden in the fog of the “transition period” [This was a concept being taken up by a recently founded Northern Ireland civil rights group in Glasgow and Greaves was critical of it in the current Irish political context].
I looked at some more old diaries and records. I see I did a substantial autobiography, but only the first chapter and the ninth have survived, though there are some notes which help to establish dates and possibly cover the missing period. Some of the writing is quite good. I’ll probably transcribe and annotate but might do some re-writing. How I remembered all this detail, Heaven knows.
A letter came from Dunbar who wants me to lecture in Leicester. This Soar Valley College is where the bird of song, Newsinger, used to be domiciled [John Newsinger was an academic historian who had criticised Greaves’s views on James Connolly. Greaves regularly referred to him as “the bird of song”]. Jane Tate says the Holborn postal strike is over but the pillar boxes are all sealed still.
July 8 Wednesday: It was cooler again today, but dry. I cleared a little more of the North-West bed and it can now accommodate the remaining tomatoes, a couple of cucumbers and four marrows – I’ll need some extra space for the physalis. I went into the city and posted some letters. I think the eyes are better. But though they are fewer and only when I move, there are still phosphenes. The left eye is, however, completely clear of them and never gives any trouble.
July 9 Thursday: I had a word with Jane Tate in the morning. She is going to her brother in Kent till Saturday afternoon. A cutting from “Phoenix” [ie. The Dublin satirical magazine] shows Tony Coughlan is still determined to take Heinemanns to court. Apparently his circular to all booksellers took the guilty volume off the shelves, but Heinemanns undertook to indemnify them. They are treating the matter very lightly and seemingly are going to plead justification. “Phoenix” comments they are not going to find it easy to prove Tony Coughlan was in the IRA, but they may insist the case is tried in England [The libel was in a publication by Corgi Books]. And at best he has his good time wasted. I don’t know whether he thinks this is a way to recover the £2000 he borrowed from the bank – it’s not his type of calculation. Gerry Curran rang in the evening. He had been trying to get a review copy from Heinemanns. He thought the publishers probably wanted a court case for the publicity. I told him that Tony Coughlan’s solicitor had circularised all the bookshops threatening them with possible litigation if they displayed it. At the end of a week the publishers undertook to indemnify them for any damages they had to pay, and back it went on the shelves.
July 10 Friday: Another letter from Roy Johnston, not quite as ridiculous as the last [Dr R.H.W. Johnston, Dublin scientist and political activist whom Greaves knew from when Johnston was a student in Trinity College Dublin in the late 1940s; see his autobiographical “Century of Endeavour”, published 2006]. He is obsessed with himself. He thinks I omitted the facts about Martin Bernal, not because I didn’t know them, which was the fact, but because of some puritanical disapproval of people who plant families like colonies in various places – which is what he conceives himself to do [Roy Johnston had taken an action challenging Ireland’s divorce law at the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg at this time. The reference to multiple families presumably refers to this]. This is what is supposed to have rubbed off on Tony Coughlan. One of the signs of having grown up is that you realise that people are interested mainly in themselves and providing you are not actively harming them, will tolerate anything. I’m sure I don’t mind if Roy Johnston gets fifty divorces all in a row. But typical petit bourgeois that he is, he wants on the one hand to pose as a nationalist and on the other hand tap the sources of EEC money for his business. So he has cooked an extension of his Labour Party memorandum, in which imperial Britain and France are broken up and the fragments vegetate in a united Europe. He hasn’t the faintest idea of political principle. And he starts off one hare after another, often with a “double thought” of lining his pocket.
Today was pleasant, fairly sunny – warm sector weather, about 68F. I sowed coriander and rocket and started on the West bed.
July 11 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.50 to Euston and went to the office which was held by Stella Bond. There was a letter from J. Knapp [Jimmy Knapp, general secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen] accepting the chairmanship of the conference on October 24th [This planned Connolly Association conference was on “Ireland and the British Labour Movement”]. So it is becoming tied up. I went for lunch. Later Gerry Curran arrived, and after going to my hotel we met Jane Tate and Charlie Cunningham and had a meal. There was no mightily exciting news. Paul Gilhooley is loosely about.
July 12 Sunday (Liverpool): We had the school on “Imperialism” today, Ron Bellamy [1917-2009, well-known Marxist economist lecturing at the University of Leeds] spoke in the morning, I in the afternoon. He is a very decent man but has a touch of “wetness”. He is really wobbly on the EEC and the origin of it is the desire to appear impartial before students. So he says he must treat facts. But he challenges John Boyd with “British industry would have succumbed even if Britain were outside the EEC.”[John Boyd was an English member of the Connolly Association who was strongly opposed to the EEC and seeking to organise opposition to it in British Labour circles]. “I can’t deal with ‘ifs’,” says the theorist to the fact dealer. And of course he wants to denounce injustice and oppression wherever it is, but leaves the Irish question to me! Of course it is a complete fallacy to talk of teaching “impartial” politics in a college.
A man in his late sixties came in. “You don’t know who I am.” I politely suggested that he was vaguely familiar. “No” he said. “We haven’t met for fifty years, and that was in Wimbledon.” He was Howard Kelsey. He was a friend of De.[name unknown] and was, I think, in the YCL [ie. Young Communist League] and used to come to branch meetings in shorts. Fifty years is a huge chunk of time and I could recall no trace or character that remained now. But I had seen one or two well-meaning rather than cogently argued letters from a Kelsey in the “Morning Star” and had wondered if this was the same one. He is now in the Labour Party and living near Norwich. The daughter is in the old family home in Wimbledon. I would say he has had some fairly comfortable middle-class job and is now retired. There is a touch of the gentleman-bohemian about him. I would have liked the opportunity to chat about the Wimbledon days. He was asking me about Labour Party policy and when I asked why ask me, he said he took the “Irish Democrat” which was the only decently written paper and had seen the advertisement for the school and came to consult the “guru of his youth”. This was said half-jokingly.
Among those present for all or part of the time were Chris Sullivan, Pat Bond, Stella Bond, Martin Moriarty, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Mabel O’Donovan, Bert Chambers of Warrington, and quite a sprinkling of non-members. Gerry Curran and I went to see Elsie O’Dowling [née Timbey, one of the earliest CA members]. She is well into her nineties, nearly blind, rather deaf and says she “is getting weaker all the time as is expected.” But her head is clear. When we told Jane Tate we were going she said cynically, “She’s always complaining nobody goes to see her, but when you get there you find a queue waiting to get in.” She still cannot forgive Elsie for what she did on her! And as Gerry Curran remarked, it was Jane Tate who committed the fault. [Jane Tate had been involved in a relation with Sean Dowling, Elsie O’Dowling’s former husband.]
Pat Bond sold £800 of books at Roundwood Park. “Green Ink” must have done the same [“Green Ink” was a competing Irish bookshop]. We, on the other hand, have volunteers, and this on top of living rent-free gives us an advantage [The Connolly Association paid rent, its bookshop did not as its expenses were covered by the CA]. I was back at 6 pm.
July 13 Monday: A letter came from Donal MacIntosh agreeing to speak at the October conference. So there is one more step. I need another political figure now and the platform will be complete. I had a word with Jane Tate in the afternoon.
Further material came from “Harvey and Jones,” the NCP publishing house [The New Communist Party was a breakaway from the CPGB in 1977]. They are bringing out a two-volume collection of Connolly’s writings in conjunction with “New Books” in Dublin [“New Books” was the bookshop of the Communist Party of Ireland] and Michael O’Riordan [former CPI secretary] is contributing a preface. The book will be “launched” in Dublin and London. This seems to indicate a complete breach between the CPGB and the CPI. Whether Michael O’Riordan is wise to nail his colours to this particular mast [ie. to the NCP in Britain] is another question. I suspect a subsidy from Eastern Europe may be a factor. An oenothera is flowering.
July 14 Tuesday: What a contrast in the weather! Rain most of the day, a heavy pall of cloud for the whole of it. I stayed in but got some clearing up done. Donald MacIntosh agreed to speak on October 24 and suggested I ask the Scottish NALGO to send him officially, in which case they will pay his fare; so I wrote to them. I spoke to Joe O’Grady in the evening. Barney Morgan had been on to him but Michael Mortimer sent out the notices, which was something, but no more [Barney Morgan was chairman of the Connolly Association branch in Liverpool. His mother had travelled from Liverpool to Dublin to take part in the 1916 Rising. In his early life he travelled the world as a seaman. He later worked as a psychiatric social worker in Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirral. He kept in close touch with Desmond Greaves in his final years and often gave him lifts in his land-rover. He it was who first learned of Greaves’s sudden death in August 1988]. I had a word with Kevin Nelson who is a NALGO full- time official.
July 15 Wednesday: A brighter morning. I spoke to Tony Donaghey on the phone and told him that Knapp had agreed to take the chair[Tony Donaghey was a Connolly Association member who worked in the National Union of Railwaymen and later became president of that union’s successor, Railway, Marine, Transport (RMT)]. He said there was a two-and-a half-hour debate on the Irish question at the NUR conference and he was sending me the resolution.
There were 18 people at the Connolly Association branch meeting tonight [ie. the Liverpool branch]– Barney Morgan, Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady and the two Tauntons, with a delightful little girl who must have been their grandchild. for she was the image of Mrs Taunton. That silly old po-head was tackling Joe O’Grady over his accounts, which he said were a disgrace, and Joe got quite annoyed. Barney Morgan handled the situation quite well. He said by way of explanation that he deals with head-cases all day as a psychiatric social worker. The numbers were made up thanks to Alan Morton 2, who gave a talk, and four of his students. They came to the Irish Centre and Alan pointed out, as I thought, the man who had written the article for the “Irish Democrat”. I got a whiskey for him but was struck by the fact that the young fellow indicated didn’t seem to be the type who would do such a job. So I asked who it was and the youngster indicated a rather older man – early to mid-twenties, who definitely would be able for it. He was with us at Haslingden last year [ie. on a trip the Liverpool CA branch had made to places associated with Michael Davitt]. His name is Henders and he is seeking his Irish origin. I suggested MacIonnreachta, which gives MacHenry and Henry. Then the Scottish Henderson crossed my mind. It was Alan Morton 2 who told me about this [The form Alan Morton 2 was used to distinguish him from Greaves’s friend Alan Morton, the historian of botany, in Edinburgh. Alan Morton 2 was an academic in Edge Hill College, Liverpool]. He also told me about his own youth. He was brought up in a working-class home with no cultural amenities. His father was a factory hand. Caught up in one of the emotional upsets of youth he told his mother he would like to go into the church. Didn’t she take him at his word and wasn’t he bundled off to Cambridge for an interview. He was told that he must do something “to test his vocation”. It turned out to be to join the army and not long after his first foolish initiative he found himself on the boat to Egypt. I didn’t ask him how he got out, but apparently he did. We stayed late and rather than hunt for a taxi, I gave Michael Mortimer £5 to drive me home. It was what I’d pay anyway and it got him a fare. He seems to have recovered interest. Seemingly he pursued his Hispano-American examination and hopes in two years’ time to have an MA, after which Alan Morton 2 will try to get him on the staff. It seems Edge Hill used to be a teachers’ training college and I think Phyllis [ie. his sister who had died in 1966] thought of going there.
July 16 Thursday: Showers were forecast but there was only one brief one, in the afternoon. I did a little bit of gardening, but otherwise not much, for the shower left everything soaking wet. I have never been half so behind with the garden. Really I never recovered after the drought of 1976, when the clay was baked solid.
July 17 Friday: The day dawned black and overcast, and once again everything was sopping wet. The only thing that can be said is that unlike last year it is not cold. Joe Deighan’s copy arrived – four days late [Joe Deighan had been a leading CA activist in Manchester and London, who had returned to his native Belfast]. The “devolution” programme Fergal O’Doherty has espoused came verbatim from the CPI resolution [O’Doherty had set up a Northern Ireland civil rights group in Glasgow advocating a course of policy in favour of devolution to Northern Ireland, which Greaves opposed now that Britain was ruling the area directly and support was growing in Labour circles for a declaration of intent on an eventual withdrawal from Ireland]. The text of a speech by Jimmy Stewart he sent me was, he says, better and illustrates the different emphases of different sections [Stewart was a leading CPI figure in Belfast whom Greaves regarded as being, along with some of his Belfast colleagues, as “weak” on the national question]. He contrasted the pitiful climb-down to the Orangemen of John Freeman with the principled action of Joe Bowers at the shipyard. He thinks the CPI may change its policy at its next conference [John Freeman was a leading figure in the ATGWU in Belfast. Joe Bowers was a leading CPI member in that city]. Dorothy Deighan is extremely upset [ie. Mrs Deighan]. Her favourite sister has died in Manchester.
July 18 Saturday: A shocking morning again, wet, windy and cold – and the change at a bad time. It might go on six weeks. There was a very nice letter from Martin Bernal in which he gave me the name of the Italian who had done the work on Akkadian influences on European place names. The name is Semerano [ie. Italian scholar Giovanni Semerano]. But now I have lost Rosangela Barones’s address [ie. An Italian academic acquaintance whom he hoped might be able to help him contact Semerano]. Perhaps Oliver Snoddy has it [Snoddy worked in the National Museum in Dublin]. I sent his pamphlet (proofs) off to Ripley and can enquire when I send him his free copies.
Today was one of the worst summer days I remember. It rained steadily and heavily from dawn to dusk and still went on. Water was pouring down the gutters and gathering in pools. Though I wear waterproofing veldschoen as I have for years and years, I got my feet wet when I went into the city to meet Keafsey. The Bootle CP secretary, Monaghan, was there and another, only aged 22, but from a political family and well up. I see no light in the CP troubles. They’ve a conference in November. What should they say about Ireland, he asks. What does it really matter? They’re not interested in it anyway. The only thing is that a good resolution put down might prevent a revisionist programme being established. But are they capable even of that? Apparently Fred Westacott. is stirring in Middlesborough, but he is too confused to amount to much. I used to say that the less they had to do with it the better I was pleased. That was when they had power to do damage. Do they retain that power? Very little of it I would think. I posted off three pages.
July 19 Sunday: It was still raining in the morning though it became a little brighter from the east at 10 am. It finally stopped at midday but remained overcast. Pat Bond rang up, saying O’Hare has arranged the meeting I discussed with him. But why must Bond butt in? Why cannot I have direct access to secretaries? Because Pat Bond must wield the power – which of course amounts to nothing but boosts his irresistible ego. He has no status in the thing at all but he holds other people back. We had been to the Guildford Four social [ie. a social held to raise funds for the campaign to secure the release of the Guildford Four prisoners]. Paul Gilhooley was there and refused to speak to him. He didn’t know why. I told him why. Paul Gilhooly thought Pat Bond had arranged his failure to be re-elected to the E.C. As a matter of interest I did not record yesterday that Kneafsey had met Paul Gilhooley and Ciaran Corcoran in London. He had no political points to make but remarked, “But I think the trouble is the ale.” Just what others said. He drinks too much and no doubt concocts his little intrigues with his cronies at the bar.
I rang Jane Tate in the evening, when it was raining again, and asked her about 24 October. Kneafsey had said the Anti-Apartheid had a big rally on that day. She didn’t know but undertook to find out. But in any case we agreed it was too late to change now. We will just have to spend a bit more money on advertising it. “We’ve got the money,” she said. So that was that.
July 20 Monday: I got off another two pages and wrote to John O’Hara and Michael Herbert [Michael Herbert was a leading member of the Irish in Britain Representation Group in Manchester].Terry Reynolds rang in the morning [The Reynolds family owned Ripley Printers which printed the “Irish Democrat”]. He had forgotten about the cover of the pamphlet. I don’t think things at Ripley are quite so consistently managed as when Melville was alive. But Terry is so obliging that nobody could cavil. There was only one sprinkle of rain today, but apart from an hour in the afternoon it was heavily overcast, and chilly with a North-East wind, very unusual in July, though I have known it even in September.
July 21 Tuesday: It is getting monotonous. Another damp, dark, overcast morning. At 11.30 am. the sky cleared for thirty minutes and it looked like July. Then the pall swept over again; it seems to go on for ever. Anyway I didn’t do anything all day, just went into the city to buy things, couldn’t find them and had a few drinks. I bumped into John Gibson and Veronica [Liverpool CP activists]. We espied Dr May – whom I avoided by pretending to see something interesting in a shop window. He buttonholed John Gibson for a couple of minutes. He considered himself lucky. John told me the man was reported to have been a “brilliant classical scholar” at Oxford who “overdid” the study and “had a brainstorm”. Nobody with a good brain need overwork it. It pleases itself how much it will do. I’m more inclined to diagnose a second-class intelligence trying to be first – and damned neurotic at that. He lives by giving lectures to the WEA [Workers Education Association] and things like that. Alan Morton 2 sent me the report of his visit to Dublin.
I wrote a few letters. Several people have told me our conference date, October 24, “clashes” with the Anti-Apartheid demonstration. We would be the 31st but CND had organised a demonstration for that date. So we chose the 24th. Then Anti-Apartheid comes along and we “clashed”. It is always the Irish who “clash”. This is because in dealing with South Africa the English feel noble-spirited liberals. With CND they are very Christian and pacifists. In relation to Ireland they must face what they really are, the stupid dupes of barbarous savages. So that “clashes”. There was a useful letter from George Davies.
July 22 Wednesday: Miserable and overcast, brightening a bit in the evening. I only went out to post copy to Ripley. I got the paper pretty near finished. I read in the “Echo” of the death of a Liverpool artist called Bisson. Now in 1933 it would be this same man who was the virtual dictator of the Liverpool YCL. Another one was Baruch, still in the movement but in Yorkshire, and of course mellowed. I often thought Bisson was a trifle neurotic in those days. But he may not have been. I only met him once or twice and I remember people saying he kept his art completely away from his politics. The sectishness of those days is indescribable. Bisson’s speciality used to be the pounding of an imaginary table with his clenched fist, and the younger ones used to laugh at it. I wonder where all that came from [See Vols.1 and 2 for references to these persons fifty years before].
July 23 Thursday: Not a bad day today – for once. It began warm and sunny, and for the most part remained the same. I went to Arrowe Park Hospital and was seen by a woman of Asiatic origin. I prefer women, and I also prefer Asiatics. And to make it better she took a quite perfunctory pressure test that I did not feel, and then told me the eye pressure was “under control” and provided I went on doing what I have been doing these past few months, all would be well – which is very satisfactory, so much so indeed that I went into a bar and had a good meal and a half bottle of Barolo before meeting Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at Central Station. I posted off the last of the paper. Actually I missed an instillation but Alan Morton says that can be done betimes. Michael Mortimer expects to get an MA, thanks to his Latin-American studies (which I think is nonsense) and Alan Morton 2 may get him a job at Edge Hill. I hope he does, for Michael is a very decent man, and far from brainless.
July 24 Friday: Just when I am clear of the paper and other things, today broke dark and rainy. This year has given an odd fine day but no more. The rain cleared at lunchtime, but it remained cloudy cool and bluster. At the same time I have something to be pleased about: the almost perfunctory examination at the hospital yesterday and the simple pronouncement, “It is controlled.” And indeed this evening when I played the piano, there were no phosphenes. A letter came from Tony Coughlan. He is not coming across till early September. There was also a letter from Josephine Logan [of the CA in Nottingham]. The meeting addressed by Hoffman [ie. by philosophy academicJohn Hoffman in Leicester] was not well attended, though he was very good. I wrote to her too, and to Pat Bond who says the postal strike is on in Bloomsbury again.
July 25 Saturday: It was a mixed day today – rather chilly, with sunshine and cloud and a Northwest wind. I got some gardening done – cleared more of the Northwest bed, tied up the loganberries and started constructing new supports for runner beans. For the first time I have promising ridge cucumbers, and this year the tomatoes are coming along well. I rang Joe Deighan who was out. Then I rang Cathal [ie. his old friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] who had just gone out, but got Bebhinn who told me all the news. Helga is in London visiting Finula and Killian, who is talking about taking a course. Egon has gone to look for work in Germany. Conor is in America and is going to get married to an American girl but is coming back to Ireland [These were Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s children. Greaves had been best man at the parents’ wedding in the early 1950s]. Her boyfriend is back in Leeds looking for a university job.
July 26 Sunday: This morning was fair. I got two more marrows planted and cleared a couple of yards of the North-West bed, where the Chenopodium is doing very well. Another very attractive thing this year is the Lysimachia punctata, which is this year for the first time better than Jean Brown’s. I wonder if hers is vulgaris. In the afternoon John Gibson [a Liverpool CPGB activist who was also in the Connolly Association branch there] rang up. He has ten people coming from Dublin to East Germany and wants to bring them to the Irish Centre. I arranged this with Barney Morgan. I also rang Cathal.
July 27 Monday: The day began gloomy but cleared. I got up at 6.30 am., caught the 7.30 bus and the 8.20 train to Crewe. There was great excitement as the catering staff bundled their supplies on board in great haste. Somebody banged the side of the train after it had started. There were shouts. The driver slowed up but didn’t stop. But somebody got on board – possibly a belated caterer I did not see. Now it was not cold but the heating was on in the buffet car. It is as like to be off in June! The bar was late opening and I got a bottle of wine as we passed Crewe cemetery. Thinking to partake of a slug on the Derby train I turned the screw top – the whole thing went round and round, so I went to sleep instead. All went well. I took a taxi to Ripley. All the drivers seem to be Pakistans these days [Greaves used this form rather than Pakistanis]. I was through by 2 pm. and the office staff got me a taxi for Derby.
The driver was an Englishman who told me he and his former wife were divorced. “Her solicitor’s a Salvation Army captain,” he says. “You know what that means. He wants the lot and the rest. So I went to see her. ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do if you want all that,’ I told her, ‘I’ll go bankrupt and you’ll get nothing.’ ‘Well, you’d be done for too.’ ‘No, I wouldn’t. I’d put the car in my dad’s name and work for my dad.’ So that fixed her for that.”
All was well till we got to Stoke-on-Trent. Then it was announced that a train had broken down at the bottleneck that runs up to Kidsgrove. The guard came down the train asking if any were looking for connections at Crewe. I said I wanted Liverpool. Within a few minutes we were asked to go outside the station for a bus. It proved to be an ambulance. Of course everybody started talking. A student next to me had come from Greece. She had studied Philosophy at Lancaster but was going into psychiatrical nursing. She was a Catholic, of Irish descent and brought up in Stoke-on Tees.
When we got to Crewe of course it was 5 pm. and my train should have left at 4.56. However, there was a train standing there with Liverpool written on it. It left at 5.03. At first I thought they’d delayed the Birmingham train. But apparently this was from Brighton, via London Olympia. And it left on time. So I wasn’t a minute late. There was a young fellow opposite me who said he was 17 and still at school, St Francis Xavier. He was Catholic, but the only one in his class that was not of Irish descent. His name was Aspinall. I think this is an old aristocratic Catholic family. He was good at languages but wasn’t sure whether to go on to the University or join the navy.
I had a bite in [word indecipherable] in Biltmore St, then went to the Flying Picket where Barney Morgan arrived. I had to miss an instillation, but I think now I can safely miss an odd one. Then John Gibson arrived with a delegation of ten young people from Ireland – from Waterford, Wexford, Bray, even Tullamore – who were going to East Germany. Kneafsey was going as well. I thought the way John Gibson loaded them with “Soviet Weekly” might have been a little de trop. They had come together as a result of an advertisement in the “Irish Times”. We went to the Irish Centre, which was very quiet except for the rehearsal being carried out to by pupils in the ball room. I think people from Bradford, Manchester and “places like that” are joining them tomorrow. (I bought a triangular file in Ripley and opened the wine bottle [which he had been unable to unscrew the top of earlier].
July 28 Tuesday: A wet, cool, drizzly day mostly, though I gathered some gooseberries. They are not up to the usual quality and I think a bit late. At 5 pm. the sky cleared, with a falling barometer and indescribably watery sunlight – white. At about 4 pm. Derek O’Flaherty rang. He had a statement “condemning” the Irish Government for “encouraging” emigration he wanted to send out over my name. Something had come over the tape and he was excited about it. I declined to give my approval but suggested alternative wording and that Central London send it. I advised him to consult Jane Tate and took it for granted he had had a talk with Martin Moriarty. But I rang Jane later to be sure. He had not contacted her. Nor did he phone back to me the amended version. Jane says Martin Moriarty had said nothing about it and hazarded the guess that “the two boys don’t get on too well.” The Central London meeting is tomorrow evening. Jane Tate told me already she will not be able for the E.C. on August 15th. And apparently both Gerry Curran and Peter Mulligan have told her they will be away. But though they got their notices three weeks ago none of them have told me.
There was a letter from Cathal confirming what Bebhinn told me. Helga is back.
July 29 Wednesday: Dull and damp, though it cleared very slightly in the afternoon. Pat Bond rang, in a good mood. He wants more badges. Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue are always at odds over them. I said hand them over to Pat and regard them as books to be ordered when required. He told me that Lawrence & Wishart promise to reprint “Mellows” by Xmas [ie. his book, “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution”]. They will sell us 300 at £4 but want £400 in advance. He tells me we can afford it. These latter days of affluence must be availed of. Jane Tate told me that the Connolly Association is “breaking even”. I am drawing £80 a month. But Paul Gilhooley was costing us £120 a week – £480 a month. That gives the measure of what we should need to be able to pay an organiser. She said Derek O’Flaherty had not contacted her but she will see him tonight.
There was a letter from Josephine Logan enclosing an article. She does not however intend to publish it but convert it into a chapter of her PhD thesis. I think “sociology” is only a pseudoscience. What these fellows do is to invent an “ism”. They subsume reality in an abstraction. This then takes on a life of its own, poses as a concept which they manipulate as if it was a puppet, meanwhile scattering quotations and references as if the frontiers of knowledge were really being pushed forward. Anyway I’ll let her have my comments.
July 30 Thursday: The BBC and newspaper weather forecasts were for a bright sunny warm day. At midday we were still under a dense pall of cloud, with a chilly blustery North-West wind! I thought it would lighten and got in an hour or two in the garden. But by the afternoon it was drizzling and the rest of the day was unrelieved gloom. I listened to a radio programme on Primo Levi [The anti-fascist Italian Jewish writer]. I must get his work.
July 31 Friday: Another dreary abysmal day, raining or drizzling a good part of the time, and with brief breaks. I went into the city, found I had £2,592 on current account, went to order Levi’s book from “News from Nowhere,” had a couple of vodkas on the strength of the economic position, bought food and drink, went to deposit £1,000 in the Building Society account and thereby filled up most of the day. A letter came from J.J. O’Hare saying that Anne Maguire wants to cool the Guildford Four campaign on the advice of her solicitor. Typical establishmentarian advice. I spoke to Jane Tate. She says the branch meeting was a success. Derek O’Flaherty spoke quite well, though all the youngsters whisper and mumble, and among those present were Maire Gaster [wife of Jack Gaster, Greaves’s solicitor], Mable O’Donovan, Martin Moriarty and several others.
August 1 Saturday: Again dark and gloomy and sunless, with a cold Northwest wind, at least half a gale, that blew down my loganberry fence. Pat Bond rang in the morning. The Snoddy booklets have arrived. It did not start raining until 1 pm., so I did some first aid on the fence, but that meant I could do nothing else. When it rained it didn’t rain properly and be done with it, but went on drizzling and squibbing till after dark, and it was so cold I had to switch on an electric radiator.
August 2 Sunday: It rained heavily in the night, but for a few occasionally sunny intervals it was dry and cloudy. I got a bit more done in the garden and sowed broccoli. But though the surface quickly dries, the ground is sodden and will not fall apart when it is dug. But the ridge cucumbers are doing very well for the first time and I never saw the Chenopodium so flourishing. I gathered gooseberries in the early evening.
August 3 Monday: It was a dry and bright but with fracto-cumulus and a cold North-West wind. I went into Birkenhead, posted letters and bought books and canes for the garden. Then I went for a repeat prescription only to find the chemist had none in stock, so I went back to Birkenhead. What with waiting for buses and traipsing about the place, the afternoon was nicely wasted. There was a letter from Tony Coughlan saying that Colm Power is complaining again that he is badly treated by Tony, Micheál Ó Loingsigh and Cathal. I knew already as Colm had sent me a copy of a letter he had sent resigning from the committee of the Constitutional Defence organisation that fought the referendum [ie. the Single European Act referendum. Colm Power was a longstanding CA member who had returned to Ireland and sadly was alienated from his former CA colleagues over time]. In his letter to me he says they “do not treat him as a colleague”. I have been wondering just what is meant by that. Possibly they regard him as politically junior, one to be told the way rather than to be consulted. And it is difficult because he makes just comments, but I never recall his making practical propositions, and he tends to be repetitious. His antipathy to Cathal is extraordinary.
A letter came from Lawrence & Wishart saying they had 607 copies of my O’Casey [ie. his book “Sean O’Casey, Politics and Art], and as they had no storage space proposed to pulp all but 200. I rang them up and said they should remainder them to the Four Provinces Bookshop. I then wrote to Pat Bond and suggested he might try to get 400 for a £100. They’d sell at £1, and he’d soon get the outlay back. I found Rosangela Barone’s address and wrote to her.
August 4 Tuesday: Another very cool day, with occasional bursts of sunshine, but mostly overcast. What a filthy summer! I got quite a bit done – mainly letters. I had a letter from Joe Jamison. He says that “Marxism Today” are going to publish an attack on John Freeman who uses his reputation as a progressive in international affairs to prevent British Trade Unions tackling the Irish question. He got this off Inez McCormack who, MacHenry told me, prevented that same Irish question coming up at the NUPE conference! She is a mate of that skunk Rowthorne, or whatever his name is, at Cambridge [ie. Bob Rowthorn, Professor of Economics there, who wrote on the Northern Ireland economy]. I’d like to see those universities levelled with the ground! They house the filthiest scum on the surface of the globe! There would be no loss to humanity! Or not much.
August 5 Wednesday: I got a lot of work done today. Though it was cold, it was dry. In the garden it was only a matter of gathering gooseberries – it was too cold to be pleasant, and there were warnings of ground frost inland. So last year’s record is already exceeded. But I wrote to Joe Jamison and sent back her manuscript to Josephine Logan, who sent me a letter. Tom Mernagh appealed for a copy of Connolly, so I parcelled that up, also six copies of “Modern Irish Literature” for Oliver Snoddy. It looks quite stylish with gold on grey. A letter came from Ellen Mitchell. She has been away and that explains a long silence. I’m wondering whether to proceed with the Edinburgh thing [ie. a planned excursion by Scottish CA members to places in Edinburgh associated with James Connolly, who was born in that city]. I was hoping to get the bulk of the Scottish members together. Dundee and Aberdeen were responsive, but not Edinburgh itself. There was an ugly “cold” sunset, a white sky and fracto-cumulous – very bad. The BBC announcer called this weather “unseasonable.”
I wrote to Beresford Ellis on Monday after seeing his letter in the “Manchester Guardian” [Peter Berresford Ellis, born 1943, historian and writer on Celtic topics; see “Memories of Desmond Greaves” elsewhere on this archive web-site for his personal reminiscence of GReaves]. I asked for an article on the Welsh language judgement. he did it at once and sent it by return of post, and moreover offered to contribute to the “Irish Democrat” on a regular basis. He hasn’t turned out a bad fellow at all. I thought him a bit amateurish at the time he brought out his first book, but he has shown quite an original mind more recently. Michael Herbert also wrote saying that he had been tied up with Labour Party problems, saying he’d like publicity for his Irish History group in Manchester and saying he enclosed a leaflet, but not actually enclosing it.
August 6 Thursday: The morning was the worst yet, cold and with a steady series of ill-defined showers, with huge cold cumulo-nimbus over Liverpool, which I learned afterwards suffered a cloud burst. I went into Birkenhead with a load of letters to post and went into a pub to read the newspaper over a stiff gin. When I came out there was blazing sunlight, but the North wind was still very cold. It only reacted 55F at midday. I went into the Library to see if I could trace the date of Einstein’s meeting in the Albert Hall that was scarcely reported, but Geoffrey Crowther described it to me [He needed this for his comic epic poem “Elephants Against Rome” which he was working on at the time and which refers to this meeting of Einstein’s]. It was, if I remember aright, the meeting Riddell made such a mess of and stimulated me to send him packing and take over myself [See Vol. 2 of the Journal; the reference is to his taking charge of left-wing student affairs at the University of Liverpool]. Anyway their series of meetings only went back to 1934, and this would be 1933. I had another drink on the strength of this and came back. Jane Tate rang up. Pat Bond has been at his usual tricks, discovering matters of general interest and keeping them to himself. It is becoming a mania with him. And records are thrown out without any regard for the future or who might require them. And some of the most vital records he keeps at home. I don’t know how anybody could work with him in the office. It is a problem.
August 7 Friday: Dull, dark and wet again by 10 am. I thought last year exceptionally bad, but this reminds me of 1954. Another heat wave is forecast for Greece and I hear the Indian monsoon has failed. The marrows which should be bearing enormous leaves are little larger than pelargoniums. We had this trouble last year. It is just too cold for growth. What’s more, it rained all bloody day. I was going to Hanover Street Post Office to look at the Edinburgh directory. I decided not to walk from Lime Street and went for a drink instead. It is woeful. According to the “Echo” the highest temperature reached in Manchester was 52F, and I doubt it was 55F here. And each day is cooler that the last. A certain amount of mail arrived, but I didn’t do much with it.
August 8 Saturday: It seems almost incredible but it went on raining till after midday and the sun was not out for a second. Indeed the worst aspect of this appalling summer is the lack of illumination. I had the electric light on for most of the day. I hardly remember such a year for thick cloud. People were comparing it with November. I did however clear some weeds from around the red currants and the “Lancaster bed” gooseberries. The crop is smaller this year and not of the best quality. But I’ve hardly anything this year – rocket, the slow marrows, a few cauliflower seedlings. The physalis won’t grow. There are a few radishes and coriander. It seems a fairly good rule that when the weather breaks in mid-July, it never recovers until September. That must be the solid basis for the St. Swithin legend.
I rang Jane Tate. She had not been to the Troops Out demonstration. She is going away tomorrow, and she tells me that three weeks ago she “had another fall”. She was standing in the middle of the road and collapsed, badly injuring her knee. She is quite amazing. She never mentioned it, merely went to the doctor, then the hospital. “I don’t think my pacemaker can be working properly,” she comments. But the man who checks it for her was “not very concerned”. And now she’s galivanting to the GDR with John Gibson! It would create some fierce problems for the Connolly Association if she were incapacitated.
August 9 Sunday: Believe it or not – pouring rain again till after midday, and thereafter a painfully slow clearance with sunshine at about 5 pm. I managed to plant out – in soil of the consistency of glue – three runner bean plants I had matured in turf pots and cut two box trees to shape. It is still cold.
However the “Epic” is shaping reasonably and though I have only a quarter of it done, I am more confident of finishing it and think it contains some good stuff. What other people will think is of course a different matter. The main thing is that whatever about detail, I have the main drift of it in my head.
At 9 pm. I rang Ellen Mitchell. She has had influenza and now she thinks she has got tonsilitis. She’s been drinking Bulgarian wine. I recommended brandy. Apparently one of her family found a half bottle of whiskey while camping. “Make sure it is whiskey,” said I. I said I would take a run up to Edinburgh to prepare the visit on August 30.
August 10 Monday: A fine day and reasonably warm. I went into the city to post letters and get stamps. But there was so much delay on the Underground that I got precious little else done. I decided not to await a reply from Kevin McNamara [ie. Labour MP for Kingston-upon-Hull, a supporter of Irish reunification] and sent off the conference invitation to the printer. There was no mail today.
August 11 Wednesday: Another bad day, though not cold. I didn’t go out, and indeed accomplished next to nothing, though I did some reading.
August 12 Wednesday: It rained most of the day but was quite warm – I would say up a good seven or eight degrees into the mid-sixties. This is a good sign, and perhaps it will take up. I went into the city to buy some shoes, which cost me £68 or more. But as it was pouring rain I could do little else. I see the “Morning Star” publishes an unofficial reply by members of Sinn Fein to the CPI criticisms of them. It was a better job than the CPI thing, which in my opinion shouldn’t have been sent, or reproduced in the “Morning Star”. Mind, I don’t know what they are all playing at. No wonder they’re in a mess. For the E.C. of the CPGB has an advert in the “Morning Star” commemorating Gallacher [ie. former Scottish communist MP Willie Gallacher] who died on 12th August 1965. Now if the “Morning Star” is a “daily dose of poison”, as McLennan is reported to have said, why advertise in it?[Gordon McLennan, CPGB general secretary, criticising the dissident “Morning Star”].
August 13 Thursday: Pouring rain again all morning, and everything sodden. It cleared in the afternoon but did not dry. I’ll never get on that garden. I went into the city and bought some duplicating paper and a book. In the morning Ellen Mitchell rang to say the Edinburgh trip is arranged. They meet at St. George’s Square at 2 pm. on the 30th. I suggested they park at the Grassmarket. Later Michael Herbert rang to give me particulars of the “Frontline Theatre” in Manchester which is going to Ireland in October. Kevin McNamara sent a card (at last) saying that he can’t manage October 24th, and Ripley said they would send me a proof of the notice today.
August 14 Friday: The day started dark and gloomy, but the sun was struggling half-heartedly to get through by midday. I gathered the last gooseberries and red-currants. There are male flowers on the marrows and [word indecipherable] flowers on the tomatoes. I planted out a solitary Tetragonea. And it is mid-August! I think it has been specifically bad here, but Crl [Name unknown] who was in the bookshop commented that there had been no summer in London either. I gathered blackcurrants in the afternoon. There was some sunshine, but a gusty worrying Northwest wind. I spoke with Pat Bond. And then in the evening the typewriter broke down. The contact between the spacing bar and the carriage has gone.
August 15 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 9.50 to Euston. Joe O’Grady was on the train. It was clear by the time we got there that we had plunged into summer, with temperatures in the high seventies and a genuine feeling that it was August after all. We met in Marchmont Street and those present were Pat Bond, Josephine Logan, Michael Brennan, Derek O’Flaherty, Martin Moriarty, Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue. But several were absent without apology. There is no question morale is completely restored, and people are volunteering for things, especially Martin Moriarty who took the minutes, and Michael Brennan who is taking initiatives in South-East London. He came on a bicycle, which of course earned my approval. Ciaran Corcoran sent an apology but no reply to my two letters. I had drawn up plans for an ambitious programme for 1988, and (I suppose now I’ll have to say, “if I’m spared”) I intend to put it through myself. I can’t give more than an hour late at night to the “Epic”., and don’t want to write history while I’m occupied with that, and I can see it’s going to take a couple of years at least.
When the meeting was over we went for a cup of coffee in the Cypriot restaurant in Bloomsbury precinct. It had changed hands and – though I am bad at recognising people – I’d swear the new proprietor is the man who ran the “Athena” in Lime Street, Liverpool. That closed down last week. Pat Bond had taken off Josephine Logan and Joe O’Grady said he would go to the shop with them. I had told him I was not going back on the Liverpool train as thanks to a football match there was no drink on it. But he was prepared to face the torture of thirst. Derek O’Flaherty and Martin Moriarty were very critical of “Eng. Lit.” studies. When I exempted Terry Eagleton, Martin Moriarty said that he was his tutor – at Oxford, I gathered, but am not sure, and that he was a former left Trotsky, now a Labour Party Trotsky [Professor Terry Eagleton, born 1943, literary theorist, critic and public intellectual of Irish background, influenced by Marxism and Christianity].
On the train I was talking to a woman of about 35-40 with a twelve-year-old daughter – or so I presume. She told me that her father had been an active communist but now votes for Mrs Thatcher. He is very sheepish and apologetic about it, for she is strong Labour. She ascribes the change to the prosperity of the 1960s. When I got back to Liverpool it was clear that summer had begun at last.
August 16 Sunday: At last a real summer day, and for the first time this year I was able to go out – only across the road – in a cotton T-shirt with no woollen pullover. Things were brought on merrily and there are quite a few (male) flowers on the marrows. I’ll have to get the typewriter mended tomorrow. I will have to leave Edinburgh till Tuesday. I wrote to Brian Farrington [a friendly academic in Scotland, a CA member and one of the Dublin Farrington family] and typed using Phyllis’s old typewriter [ie. his sister’s]. But it is beyond usage for the paper. It is merciful I have an extra week this month. I wrote to Ripley by hand enclosing the proof of the conference invitation. I’ll get two thousand done.
August 17 Monday: Another magnificent day. Will it take up? I got the typewriter repaired in Argyle St, went to the bank and did a small amount of work in the garden. But it’s either too cool or too hot! I finished Book III of the “epic”.
August 18 Tuesday: It poured rain till about 2 pm. Everybody was bemoaning it, but I still hope it may be taking up. There was cumulo-stratus in the evening. I went into town to book a sleeper for Edinburgh, and telephoned Turlough MacDaid of the anime-workers’ union [ie, concerned with animation, the ACTSS trade union] who had already consulted me over the PTA [ie. the Prevention of Terrorism Act]. He was evidently from the Six Counties and his name testified to his provenance[Turlough MacDaid, 1930-2012, Edinburgh socialist and trade unionist; his mother was from Antrim].He gave me the number of the secretary of the Trades Council. So I rang him up and arranged to see him tomorrow. I rang Alan Morton, but he has visitors; he may come to Liverpool next week. I went to Crewe.
August 19 Wednesday (Edinburgh/Liverpool): I had booked a sleeper on the 1.11 to Edinburgh and had quite a reasonable sleep, getting up at 6.30 none the worse for its brevity. I had arranged to meet Loughrey at the Trades Council office, but something in his tone on the telephone indicated to me that he was not too keen on the encounter, and I said to myself it could well happen that he would not turn up. Anyway, I killed time with a bottle of wine, a sandwich, and then coffee at inflated Edinburgh Festival prices, and finally went to Picardy Place at 11. There was a large, bearded man sitting there. I asked if he was Mr Loughrey. He was not. He was Turlough MacDaid. I waited till twelve. There was no sign of Loughrey. “He’s a terrible unreliable fellow,” says MacDaid. He then offered to let me have the room for the meeting on the 30th. “Have you the authority to do that?” I enquired. “I have,” he replied. “Very good then.” He disclosed that he had met me before when he came into 283 Grays Inn Road. He is an official of a combined Union at the centre of which was the Cinematographic Union that Billy McCullough used to have [McCullough was chairman of the Befast Trades Council in the 1960s]. So I had lunch in the North British Hotel, also at Edinburgh prices, and took the 2.44 to Crewe and so to Liverpool again. I rang up Ellen Mitchell to pass on the news. The weather was very fine all day.
August 20 Thursday: It had rained overnight, but the day was fairly bright, dry but clammy, and very warm. I sent out 30 circulars for the Edinburgh meeting and went to Birkenhead to post them. That was about all I managed. In the morning Oliver Snoddy telephoned to say he had got the six copies of his pamphlet that I sent him.
August 21 Friday: Again it had rained in the night, so everything was wet. It was decently warm and I suspect the jinx is off the weather at last. But there are no female flowers on the marrows despite the KNO3 [ie. potassium nitrate] I yesterday put round them. I wrote to Martin Moriarty who sent the minutes of last Saturday’s meeting. There was also a letter from Josephine Logan in Nottingham. I wrote to Loughrey in Edinburgh. George Davies rang up and said there was a conference on the Irish question being held in Chesterfield on October 24th. This probably means Labour will back a resuscitated Stormont with “power sharing”. Will Benn be in it? George Davies says notices have been sent to Trade Union branches and EEC money or at least Euro-MP money is involved. He will help with Scotland. Then Pat Bond telephoned about what we charge for microfilm reels. Peter Mulligan wants to charge £75 a reel. I think it’s excessive, but I told them to try it on. I don’t want to be the one who made them accept a lower figure than they could get. Finally, I did two pages of the paper and asked the TUC for conference credentials and ordered handbills for Ripley.
August 22 Saturday: There were radio reports of thunderstorms and floods, which I thought we had escaped. But it rained during the morning though there was no thunder. Again nothing could be done outside and I think it is going cooler again. Still, I got over two pages of the paper done, and since the invitation forms arrived I sent some to George Davies and wrote to Pat Bond, Michael Brennan and Ellen Mitchell. But all the day, except for a brief bright spell in the afternoon, it was overcast. It is nothing like as cold as last year but I never remember it so dark. The warmth of the last few days came from Southwest winds, not from sunshine.
August 23 Sunday: I got up at about 8 am. To say it was overcast would be a modest description. Soon it was pouring down – the sky a sheet, if one can strain meteorological nomenclature, of strato-cumulus, not a line in it. And believe it or not, it went on all bloody day, and was still wet when I looked out at 8 pm. I worked on the paper.
August 24 Monday: Today was dry and bright. Pat Bond rang in the morning complaining that he could not get Jane Tate, who was due back from her holiday today. He was not prepared to allow her any respite. I went into town and collected two books by Primo Levi, bought food, booked a sleeper for Edinburgh after queuing for 50 minutes, a disgraceful situation typical of British Rail. Later Jane Tate rang. Pat Bond had got her in the end. She had been in East Germany with John Gibson and had met Beryl Huffinley of Leeds [Yorkshire trade union and peace activist]. Pat Bond rang again. But there was a knock at the door. So I excused myself. It turned out to be a lovely little kid – surely no more than 10, 11, or 12, who said Mr Brown had suggested he should offer to cut my grass which is in a shocking state, and clear away the rampaging raspberry. Would I give him a “fiver” for it? Of course I said I would. Then he offered to whitewash the porch for another two. He had his head well screwed on! Then he said, “How many books have you written?” I made a guess of 7 or 8. What were they about? Ireland. Could he read one of them? Well, he might find it a wee bit heavy. It was then my turn to ask. What was his name? Stewart Dolan. Dolan was an Irish name. He was Scotch. Where from? Coatbridge. “Well, that’s full of Irish. I have lived there.” Its five miles from Airdrie,” he volunteered. So he said he’d come at 9 am. if I would supply the shears. I don’t know what he’ll be like. I warned him that the job might be too much for him – as long as he doesn’t get tired of it and run away with my clippers! While the above conversation was going on I caught a glimpse of Fred Brown, pretending he wasn’t looking.
August 25 Tuesday: At 8.30 wasn’t there a knock on the door and young Dolan was there, ready for work. He spent over three hours, knocking on the door every fifteen minutes for one thing or another. He was a cheerful willing little fellow with a good share of native intelligence. Of course I got nothing done, but there was some improvement. I gathered together the copy for Ripley and posted it leaving gaps. He thought I must have lots of money being a writer and asked, “why don’t you buy yourself a mansion in the country?” I replied that all writers were not rich. Speaking of his own family in Ben Nevis road he said, “We’re poor. We’re poor now.” He says he’s found a wasps’ nest. Now I’ll have to clear away the rubbish.
In the morning George Davies rang. It seems this Chesterfield conference does not include Ireland, so my suspicion was unjustified. He thinks Benn is trying to get Socialism into the Labour Party and doesn’t distinguish the bogus from the genuine left. He also thinks he is paying substantial sums out of his own pocket, arguing that he has any amount of money and would spend it. I don’t know.
August 26 Wednesday: My hopes of improved weather have been dashed. Yesterday was bright if not sunny, and dry. Today the thick pall of cloud was back, there was scattered rain, a strong wind that blew the unfruitful marrows all over the place and it was very cold. Despite the odd warm day everything is weeks behind. A couple of Victoria plums have ripened, but the crabs are still green and there are black currants to be gathered. I never remember so many North winds. The young lad came looking for some more work. But I decided not to be going in and out in the cold and the damp, so I told him to come next week. The sheer gloom would give you a pain in the bottom. It went on all day until about 8 pm., when a cold North-Northeast wind drove black lumbering clouds across the sky. I suppose they would be classified as large fracto-cumulus, degenerating into fracto-stratus. I tidied the front room, boxed up the reporters’ notebooks used for the biographies, and brought down the bookshelves to accommodate material on the nineteen thirties.
August 27 Thursday: It was dry today but very cool – perhaps reaching 62F – and with a northern wind. I finished the paper. But Ripley wanted me to read the proofs on Tuesday, so I rang Gerry Curran who agreed to go. Alan Morton rang saying he is in Liverpool for his sister’s birthday. We agreed to meet on Saturday.
August 28 Friday: I checked with both Loughrey and Turlough McDaid that all was in order in Edinburgh. McDaid said that Jim Friel had been through to him and had ordered beer. Ellen Mitchell later told me that they have sixteen coming from Glasgow, but she had unaccountably not received a circular. A letter from Brian Wilkinson apologised for not being able to come. He and his wife both start work (at last) on Monday. Again it was cloudy all day but not quite so cool.
August 29 Saturday: Dark, gloomy and rainy as usual, though it brightened up when the sun was too low to do any good. I met Alan Morton at Lime Street at 12 noon and we went for a drink and had lunch at the Italian. He seems to be standing up pretty well to the loss of Freda. He is staying with his sister in St. Helens and going to Freda Morton’s brother tomorrow. He thinks it may be as a result of the shock that the pressure in his left eye is building up and the doctors are advising an operation. He says the last one took three days, but that now lasers are used and the whole thing is done in half an hour. Apparently he has not to put drops in the eye that has been perforated, but he would prefer to go on with the drops to having the operation. But he is prepared to submit to it. I think he does not see as well as he claims, for he had difficulty in reading the menu. At the same time he puts a brave face on it, and good on him. He told me that his first contact with politics was in 1926 when he went with his father to a meeting in St. Helens to hear A.J. Cook. [1883-1931, General Secretary of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain during the 1926 General Strike]. I suppose he would be 16 then. Alisoun Morton is as well as can be expected, and John Morton doing very well but not being well paid.
Alan is very concerned about the state of the CPGB. Like me he thinks a CIA job has been done on it. And he recalls that when he was on the Edinburgh Board of “Marxism Today” he wrote to Klugmann [1912-77, leading British communist] warning him against Martin Jacques [Born 1945, succeeded James Klugmann as editor of “Marxism Today”, which was the key organ pushing the “Eurocommunist” policy line in the CPGB. Jacques was editor from 1977 until its closure in 1991]. The situation is as bad as can be and I see the “Morning Star” appeared today with blank spaces on two pages. What is bad from the Connolly Association point of view is that if it folds up, as to me seems very possible, we will lose Derek O’Flaherty and Martin Moriarty. Unless of course one of them would work for the Connolly Association. I caught the 10.45 to Crewe.
August 30 Sunday (Edinburgh): I went from Crewe to Edinburgh in a sleeper. The train was late thanks to being diverted via Manchester because of engineering work, and that was as well. I had awful trouble finding a place for breakfast but had lunch at the [word indecipherable] which is not bad. I got to the Grassmarket by 2.30 and at about 3 pm. Turlough MacDaid had arrived followed by Alan Morton. The Glasgow minibus brought Ellen Mitchell, Brett Kibble, Jim Friel, who had done some work for the event, and a young man called Steel sent by George Davies. We walked round all the places associated with Connolly and then returned to the Trades Council rooms. By then Brian Farrington had come from Aberdeen [University lecturer, author of “Malachi-Stilt-Jack: The poetry of W.B. Yeats Revisited”]. The old print union leader Vincent Flynn and his wife arrived and there was some discussion. There was an empty seat on the Glasgow bus, so I went back with them. Altogether about 20-24 people took part in the excursion, which was proclaimed a success. It is indeed the highest point the Connolly Association ever reached in Scotland and it is thanks to my decision to found it on Scottish soil. What was very fortunate was that the weather was warm, bright and sunny.
I had a long talk with Ellen Mitchell. She says Fergal O’Doherty is pushing ahead with his civil rights movement and so far Jim Friel has not broken with it. On the other hand its leading lights are developing organisational incompetence. They agreed – on their suggestion – to a joint social with the Connolly Association, cancelled it, and announced one for themselves alone a week later. They asked for seven places in the minibus. Then they rang Ellen Mitchell on the Tuesday. They were not taking them up. Ellen was somewhat suspicious of the possible motives. She wants badly to separate Jim Friel from them. It was incidentally he who got Vincent Flynn to attend, being a printer himself. I think Fergal O’Doherty is influenced by Orange communists in Belfast. We think there will be several new members as a result of this, and I am definitely hopeful in Scotland.
They are going to have Freddie Anderson talking on Patrick McGill and Turlough MacDaid says he is going to Glasgow for it. Unfortunately, I fear Anderson will be too drunk to say anything of moment, even if he was capable of it sober.
August 31 Monday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Central Station and took the 8.10. This was going to London via Manchester but I changed at Preston and was at 124 Mount Road soon after 1 pm. At something after 2 pm. the young lad Stewart Dolan appeared. He started cutting the jungle of the front West area – raspberries that have sprouted out of sheer divilment [Greaves usually pronounced the first syllable of this word with the colloquial “i”]. Then he came in saying he was sure there was a wasps’ nest and that he had been stung. It didn’t seem to take much out of him. “Where did it sting you?” “On the bum.” I cut him a piece of onion and he went to the toilet to officiate. When he came down I suggested he pop home and put on some jeans. No, he preferred shorts. Then he said microscopic insects from the grass were irritating his legs. He wanted to mow the grass, but I wouldn’t let him use the electric mower for fear of accidents. So he borrowed Fred Brown’s hand mower. But the grass wasn’t short enough. Before long he had knocked down the so-called “black” hollyhock, and then Brown came in. They cut down all the wrong trees, removed a laburnum and a Forsythia. Brown probably had two or three motives. First, he had wished the youngster on to me. Second, he thought he would be able to remove shrubs that partially shaded his garden, and third, compulsive wood-gatherer that he is, he thought he might get some timber for fuel – and indeed suggested as much. But the black poplars that are sprouting everywhere, thanks to the Corporation having felled a tall tree in the road, they left untouched. Likewise the suckers from a rose bush! At about 5 pm. the youngster declared that he could do with a drink of wine. I had about 100 cc. at the foot of a bottle so I gave it to him. “I’ve never had red before,” he declared. He told me his grandfather had a grand piano and had sold a clock dated 1654 for “nearly a million pounds.” When he finally left I asked him how old he was. He said eleven. He was a lively little chatterbox and I could hear him going all the time when he was working with Fred Brown. In the midst of it all he fell off the wall and cut himself. Jean and I were talking about him afterwards. When he hurt himself he said, “Are you a nurse?” “I am.” “Well, this needs some TCP.” He had a good practical knowledge and might turn out quite a bright kid. He does not know what he wants to do but hopes to goodness he gets some job. So now chaos is compounded with chunks of tree lying all over the lawn. But I wasthinking of felling the smaller laburnum, so it has been forced on me without great distress. In the afternoon Pat Bond rang up.
September 1 Tuesday: It rained in the morning and everything was wet all day, and the sun did not shine even a minute. I could do nothing in the garden. The crabs are still green, a measure of the atrocious summer we have had. I tried to get Barney Morgan and Jane Tate all day but without result. So I did little more than read the paper and do a little clearing up. Usually even the worst summer gives a few good days at the beginning of September, but there is no sign and the cloud blankets us all the time. I have not gone on a single bicycle ride this year, except a couple of times to the Post Office.
September 2 Wednesday: A glorious morning, but cirrus at midday and the rest of the day dull but dry. I was quite busy. I went to Birkenhead, took shoes to be mended and bought a couple of gansies at a sale, then I went into the city to the bank and the market. In the evening I went to the CA meeting which was a success, with 21 present. An announcement was made by his sister – there to make it – that Quincey was tutoring ten talks on Irish politics and social life, the whole jointly sponsored by the WEA [Workers Education Association] and the Irish Centre. The charge is £10 and £5 concessionary. The day is Wednesday – thus attempting to wreck Brian Stowell’s Irish class and the CA meetings. I pointed this out to Barney Morgan who agreed with me. This fellow thinks he will cream off a Wednesday audience and make some money. Among those present were Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and a number of rarer visitors.
Today is an anniversary. Sixty years ago I cycled to Ruthin and Corwen and back through Llangollen. It was my first “long” cycle ride. Then later in the same week I went first to Oswestry and Ellesmere and back through Wrexham, and to Whitchurch and back through Wrexham. That was 1927!
September 3 Thursday: Dark and gloomy again and raining by mid-morning. But it improved a bit in the afternoon. Tony Coughlan arrived in the afternoon and brought a certain amount of news. Colm Power has taken another scunder and says Micheál Ó Loingsigh, Tony and Cathal “do not treat him like a colleague.” He is so sensitive nothing can be done with him.
September 4 Friday: We caught the 9.06 train to Chester and so on to Llandundo Junction and Blaenau [ie. Blaenau Ffestiniog, up the Conway valley in North Wales]. I had never taken the train along this route before, though I had covered in by bicycle and when AEG [ie. his mother] was alive with Phyllis [ie. his sister] driving. It must be the most spectacular rail journey in Wales. We spent about four hours there. Obviously the town has suffered from the run-down of state quarrying. We had only an indifferent lunch as the Queen’s Hotel only provided “bar food”. The other hotel had closed down. As we went up towards the quarry workings we saw up to a dozen houses for sale. We thought all the quarries were idle and went up a track covered with slate dirt, clouds of which were swirling about in the strong but warm south-westerly wind. It was unlike normal road dust. I could feel the slight sting when it struck my knees. When we got up something over a mile we heard voices and saw slate was still being produced, but I doubt if there were more than six workers. It was an extremely interesting walk on quite a tolerable day. We caught the 4.05 into Llandudno and found an Italian restaurant, but it was not of a high standard. We got back to 124 Mount Road at about 10 pm. Tony rang Jane Tate to arrange for his sister to stay with her tonight. Jane is going to Gerry Curran’s party. But Pat Bond is not going.
September 5 Saturday: The weather is not settling and it now sems a bit late for it. It had rained all night, and the day was showery. Tony Coughlan mentioned 1946, the “wettest summer since the famine”. Apparently that was the year that Raymond Crotty started farming [ie. Irish economist Raymond Crotty who was plaintiff in the Crotty constitutional action before the Irish Supreme Court on the mode of ratification of the Single European Act treaty in early 1987. For this see Vol.36. Crotty’s autobiography, “A Radical’s Response”, gives an account of his experience farming in Co. Kilkenny as a young man and the economic lessons that he learned from it]. It was followed by 1947, one of the hottest and driest. Both years he lost a lot of money. He [ie. Anthony Coughlan]left for London in the morning hoping to meet his sister at Chester. I didn’t do much during the rest of the day. Tony brought me a large bunch of Allihies garlic grown by Penny and David Durrell, English people settled in Kerry [Properly in Co. Cork]. Apparently they were very pleased with my boost in the “Democrat”. It is by far the best garlic I am aware of. Dorothea has retired, at least from administrative duties, and is writing a book about Ireland [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schulze of the University of Halle in the German Democratic Republic/East Germany]. I said I was not too pleased with her work on Giraldus Cambrensis. “Ah,” says Tony, “she has a very strong Protestant background.”
September 6 Sunday: It seems to have rained in the night. The ground was sodden when I got up. Nothing could be done in the garden. And it was pouring again by half-past eleven, and damned chilly too. I wrote letters.
September 7 Monday: Today might be just a little chilly, but it was sunny. I only went as far as the pillar box. I spoke to Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady about Blackpool, and later had a word with Jane Tate. I wrote more letters and typed a stencil but found the spare tube of ink Paul Salveson gave me does not fit the Gestetner.
September 8 Tuesday: Michael Mortimer arrived at 10 am. with five bags of timber for burning. We picked up Alan O’Keeffe at the tunnel entrance, and Joe O’Grady and Pat Doherty in Bootle, and drove to Blackpool [ie. for the Trade Union Congress annual conference, for which he had got “Irish Democrat” journalistic accreditation]. The four of them gave out leaflets while I went inside. There were not so many people I knew as last time, as my contemporaries retire. Dave Hawkins of the Manchester Trades Council was there giving out leaflets for the Communist Campaign Group. He talks openly of a big split in November. “We are going to re-establish the Communist Party,” he declares. He says they have sent envoys to Eastern Europe and are promised support. He showed little regard for George Davies and accused the New Communist Party of “attacking” them. I replied that I got the “New Worker” posted to me each week and I had seen no attacks. I asked him would it not be a thing to show a “little diplomatic what d’ye call it”. His wife laughed. He’s a young man in his thirties and admits he hasn’t much of it.
After that I went for a drink and found Gordon McLennan sitting with Michael McGahey [respectively CPGB General Secretary and Scottish Miners’ leader]. He greeted me like a long-lost brother and brought me what he called a “dram”. I told him that I was taking no part in the CP ructions, but that if at any time in the future it was possible to recreate unity I would be willing to be associated with that. He thanked me. I asked him if he had spoken to Ken Gill [1927-2009, General Secretary of the ASTMS union and member of the TUC General Council; a longstanding CPGB member]. He said he had not and said something about the E.C. having to “take hard decisions”. I went out again and found George Davies at the front door with Steele from Glasgow. Alec Doswell was there trying to get support for a fringe meeting on the surcharged councillors [ie. Liverpool Councillors in dispute with the Government whose incomes had been surcharged]. They have been ordered to pay £4,000 a month or be made bankrupt – nothing short of a scandal. When we had all our leaflets given out we went for a meal and a drink and came back.
September 9 Wednesday: I was not good for much today as Michael Mortimer stayed till 3 am. talking and drinking. I had to go to four shops in Birkenhead before I found one that had Gestetner ink. But I also went to the Post Office and bought masses of stamps. I found a letter I had overlooked. I had criticised Fergal O’Doherty’s outfit in Scotland and indicated that I would publish a reply. A “reply” came consisting of a gushing advertisement for this organisation, that didn’t even touch remotely on one of the political criticisms I had made. So they are completely opportunist. I am of course not going to publish it. If they write to ask why not, I’ll tell them the reason.
September 10 Thursday: It was dry but chilly. I only went to the shops and the pillar box. I got off a few letters about the October conference, failed to contact Michael Mortimer but got Jane Tate in the evening. Her CP branch is discussing Congress resolutions and she asked me for one on the EEC.
September 11 Friday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady and finally caught Michael Mortimer. Again I only went as far as the pillar box and worked all day on the conference. There were forecasts of heavy rain, but none had come by 10 pm., though the barometer was falling. It is a good sign when weather arrives later than forecast and this is about the first time it has happened this year. Unfortunately it is too late for it to really to take up. There is one small consolation. A medium sized marrow has grown and a few green tomatoes. And the crabs have reddened up and are a brave sight.
September 12 Saturday: There was not much rain despite the forecasts, but the murky gloom persisted till 6 pm., when the sky cleared. I stayed in apart from a trip across the road to the shops. I had a word with Joe O’Grady and told him Michael Mortimer and I would be in Cases Street on Tuesday. Michael O’Donnell rang from London in response to my request that branches would send out material for the conference. I got off another dozen letters. There was a spectacular sunset, deep orange and crimson beds of what for a lack of a better term I will classify as cumulo-cirrus – higher than cirro-cumulus. But there was some ugly fracto-cumulus floating below.
September 13 Thursday: Today was fine and sunny, but the base temperature was not high. I did some clearing up, and something more on the conference. In the evening I spoke to Jane Tate. She does not know what has happened to Michael Crowe [A longstanding CA member who lived in Sunderland and was an academic teacher of French]. He was to go into hospital for an operation for haemorrhoids before the end of August, but whether he has done or not she does not know. Her CP branch is discussing Congress material. She wanted an amendment drafted, so I did that. And the local CPs called at 124 Mount Road telling me about a meeting for the same purpose. I told them I’d not be going. But when they asked for a handout I gave them £2. I can’t make myself interested in it. Jane Tate says the report and/or the resolution is “pretty disgusting”.
September 14 Monday: Another fine day though the basic temperature is still low and there was a strong wind. I could have worked in the garden but didn’t feel it was attractive enough. The cucumbers have grown but there isn’t a single fruit. I had a word with Jane Tate and also Stella Bond. Michael Brennan wrote from Southeast London responding more or less like Michael O’Donnell. This is a great improvement over the days of Noel Gordon when nobody responded. I managed to get some clearing up done. Michael Herbert has suggested that the Northwest Labour History society should run a joint venture with the Connolly Association next year and I replied to his letter. There was quite a good-weather-looking sunset.
September 15 Tuesday: I met Joe O’Grady in a public house – the Midland Hotel – on the corner of Cases Street. A half hour late Michael Mortimer appeared with dirty hands and jeans smeared with cement. His taxi had broken down. The garage did not have the appropriate part. He had to drive to Manchester in his other car in order to get it. And apparently there was work to be done on that. His taxi – or I suppose you’d call it minicab – is a powerful affair. He drove us along the Blackpool motorway at over 90 mph. I was waiting for it to touch the hundred. When he dropped to 70 we thought he was crawling. Anyway, we had a committee meeting and after that I had a meal (and an illegal drink) in the restaurant at the top of Bold Street.
September 16 Wednesday: I went into town for 2 pm. to take Joe O’Grady some leaflets, and we stayed till tapstop. I went to a Chinese restaurant at the foot of Brownlow Hill, but it was not powerful. Later I rang Michael Herbert and arranged to meet him in Manchester on Monday. As agreed yesterday, I invited Tom Walsh to speak at our next meeting and he consented, which I was pleased at [Tom Walsh was a leading member of the Irish community in Liverpool and had been in charge of the Irish Centre there.] Joe O’Grady had been talking to Eric Heffer [Liverpool Labour MP]about the 47 Liverpool Councillors and discussing their dilemma. They have to pay £4,000 a month, something they think impossible. He thinks they would fall behind and be bankrupted. Better to go bankrupt for £320,000 now than pay £160,000 and after that just go bankrupt for the other half. Today may have been the warmest of the year.
September 17 Thursday: I heard from Michael Herbert about Manchester, also from Alan Morton. He sent a clipping from the “Scotsman” on the state of the CP. It was of course not news to me, but some details were. That rat Carter is leaving the ship he helped to sink [ie. CPGB official Pete Carter].And Costello is leaving the “Morning Star” even though he hasn’t another job to go to. The “Scotsman” doesn’t offer the Communist Campaign Group much hope of starting a new party. Alisoun Morton is in Ireland, being driven to Co. Kerry by Cathal and Helga. Alan Morton has had a kind of influenza while at Freda’s brother’s but is recovering. He is unfortunate in the appalling summer just after losing her.
A letter came from Rosangela Barone – from Dublin. I had written to her when I got Semerano’s name [ie. Giovanni Semerano, Italian philologist] from Martin Bernal and wrote to Italy. In the meantime she has been appointed director of the Italian Institute in Dublin. She sent me a photostat of a book-list with a book on the origins of European culture, by Giovanni Semerano, Volume II, “The Etruscans”. Now my guess is that Vol. I would be the Akkadians. She keeps addressing me as “Doctor” and “Professor”. She is still working on O’Casey. I sent off a few letters about the conference. When I switched on the light in the front room it fused, so I had to retreat into the back room. I can’t reach the bulb without standing on the second rung of the ladder, and I think my ladder days are done. I will have to ring Barney Morgan. There was another spectacular sunset in the evening though the day was dark and gloomy after two nights of rain. The garden is a wilderness. I need a succession of several dry days.
September 18 Friday: I got a bit of clearing up done but when I look round I can see the devastating results of the time loss and diversion of attention caused by the eye trouble which I am managing to live with, at a time when I had to take over the organising of the CA – and have a summer with no two dry days together. In the afternoon Barney Morgan came, bringing the magazine of the “Provisional Provisionals” [Presumably Sinn Fein Poblachtach, the 1986 breakaway from Provisional Sinn Fein over the issue of abstentionism from the Irish and British Parliaments]. I told him I had rung Tom Walsh who will speak at our next meeting. I wrote letters.
September 19 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10.30 Dover train but changed at Crewe. We held a Standing Committee, with Flann Campbell, Pat Bond, Gerry Curran, Martin Moriarty and John Boyd, but without Pat O’Donohue and some others – Tony Donaghey was there, however [Tony Donaghey was a railwayman and a leading activist in the National Union of Railwaymen] in later years being elected President of its successor union, Rail, Marine and Transport(RMT)]. A certain amount of useful business was done and I returned on the 7.50.
September 20 Sunday: It was warm and pleasant today, but though bright a trifle cloudy. I started on the paper and did some clearing up. I spoke to Gerry Curran and Jane Tate. I did not go out except across the road for newspapers.
September 21 Monday: I did a very little on the paper, but at midday went to Manchester and found a very tolerable French-style restaurant called the Beaujolais in Portland Street. I called to “Frontline Education and Culture” and found Baron-Cohen, a Londoner of Ashkenazi extraction who had been a lecturer at one of the Polytechnics but had not had his contract renewed. I was enquiring about the Johnson play [This was a play about the Manchester-born black boxer Len Johnson,1902-1974, a member of the CPGB, who was not allowed to compete for the British championship in his time because of his colour, and whom Manchester left-winger Wilf Charles had written about]. “We’ll act a scene from it for you,” he said. We went below into a sizeable studio, and found about a dozen young people, men and women, white and coloured. This man would play Len Johnson, this one Wilf Charles, this Johnson’s manager. They played a couple of scenes. It struck me as vigorous 1930s stuff, where the political message was rammed home without subtlety. But it was an interesting theme. Later I had a talk with them in their office. They are going to Ireland and coming to Liverpool next month. There was a very pleasant atmosphere. Cohen has obviously the sort of authority Ken Gill has with TASS.
Then I went to the library and met Michael Herbert. He is prepared to hold his 1988 new Labour history conference on the subject of the Connolly Association. He wants to do it in Liverpool and have it coincide with Lorraine Knowles’s showing of the Connolly Exhibition next April [ie. in the Liverpool Labour History Museum]. He said he was born in Chester but is of East Anglican parentage, with no Irish background. I got back at 9.30 in pouring rain. There were no taxis and I took a 70 bus to the Prenton [a local hotel], and waited 25 minutes for a 40. During that 25 minutes I bought myself a bottle of vodka.
September 22 Tuesday: I got off invitations to people CM [Proper name unknown] supplied me with addresses of and I sent a couple of pages to the printers. I cooked myself a curry, played the piano, read a chapter of Pais’s book on Einstein, and – lo! – it was 9 pm. or damned near it. I didn’t go any further than the pillar box. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning and said he had contacted Michael Mortimer. In the evening I spoke with John Boyd, who has done the minutes of last Saturday’s meeting.
September 23 Wednesday: It drenched everything overnight but the day wasn’t bad. Indeed though not a good September, it has been the best of the summer months and now the autumn has begun. Somehow one feels cheated. I got out another 30 invitations to the conference and did some more work on the paper, but only went out as far as the pillar box. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning and I spoke to Jane Tate in the evening.
September 24 Thursday: I worked on the paper. At midday Dónal Mac Amhlaigh rang up [ie. the well-known Irish-language writer living in Northampton, who contributed a monthly column, Anonn is Anall, to the “Irish Democrat”]. I had asked him to distribute conference invitations and he responded. He is also supplying copy for the paper each month. I was also in touch with the Labour History people in London.
September 25 Friday: I finished the paper and made arrangements for Ripley. A cheque for £50 and congratulations on reaching 75 came from Charlie Cunningham. But I am not 75 – I will be 74 on Sunday. The only thing is to send it back with suitable expressions. It is very kind of him. He suggests a half dozen bottles of claret! He is going into Grays Inn Road tomorrow. I went into the city, picked up Levi’s books from News from Nowhere and had a late lunch at a little restaurant on Castle Street, later (in the evening) trying the Beaujolais. It is not as good as the Manchester one, and when I was there there were only two dining as well as myself. Not that it was bad, but I didn’t think it is very well patronised, being poked away in Seel Street. I had a word with Ellen Mitchell[Glasgow CA member].
September 26 Saturday: There seems to have occurred one of those unheralded changes in the weather that always surprises. An anticyclone is blocking the Atlantic. Today was bright, but there was a chilly North wind. I didn’t go further than the pillar box.
September 27 Sunday: I thought of going cycling, but it was just a trifle cloudy and cool. This is not a good anticyclone and there was rather an ugly sunset. In the early afternoon Tony Coughlan rang to congratulate me on finishing another year on Earth, and he told me that Cathal and Muriel wanted to be associated with the sentiments. I went on with some conference work and later arranged with Jane Tate to go to London. She was giving out about Pat Bond’s latest. For years she has handled the business of the Connolly badges [These were badges with the image of James Connolly on them which the Connolly Association had got produced and which were widely popular] . Apparently he has been in touch with the manufacturers and made fresh arrangements with them without even having the courtesy to inform her. He did something similar on me over the Connolly play. The Standing Committee agreed I would check the copy I got from the USA with the one in Dublin. In the meantime he had got a copy from the USA and put it into Doris Daly’s hands unchecked, but without a word to me. He wanted to be the big fellow. But if you were to ask him to do either of those things you’d be faced with a display of his absurd tantrums.
Later in the afternoon Arthur Devlin rang from Bolton wanting an advertisement in the “Democrat”, and I also spoke to Tony Donaghey on the phone. He hopes to get the NUR to send out our notices. I collected half a bucket of sweet crabs but left the higher ones till I feel like climbing a ladder. I never gathered them so late.
September 28 Monday (London/Liverpool): I went to London to do some checking on the conference and had a talk with Jane Tate and Stella Bond. Stella is twice the man her husband is. She is concerned with events and fears the break-up of the CP. There was an article in “The Scotsman” that Alan Morton sent me which disclosed that Costello is leaving the “Morning Star” without having another job to go to. If this is true it bodes ill. Jane Tate says the Communist Campaign Group intend to start a “parallel” CP such as exists in Finland. This is more or less what I was told in Blackpool. But George Davies complained of the incurable sectarianism of the London crowd, meaning presumably Tom Durkin and a few more [Tom Durkin was a trade unionist in the building trade and a member of Brent Trades Council. Irish-born, he was a longstanding member of the CPGB, from which he had been recently expelled as an anti-revisionist “dissident”. He had been critical of the Connolly Association’s “nationalist” policy line on leftist grounds in the past and had used his influence on the London District CPGB to that effect. Since his expulsion from the CP he had become much friendlier to the CA and its policy].
September 29 Tuesday: I went to Ripley where things went quite smoothly, so that despite bad transport I was back by 8 pm.
September 30 Wednesday: I went into the city to the bank, returned via Birkenhead Market, collected shoes from the cobblers and sent out conference notices.
October 1 Thursday (London/Liverpool): The fine weather continued and when I reached London it was like a summer’s day. I had lunch on the train. It cost £23 and was nothing special. I took a taxi to Farringdon Road and went into the advert department [ie. the office of the left-wing daily “Morning Star”]. I sent them an ad on September 9th, but it did not appear. When last Monday I telephoned them they said they had lost the copy! They would put in a display on Thursday. How could they do that without the copy? Oh, they would take it “off-of” a handbill. But no display appeared. However, when I went in I saw one of our leaflets on display. So there is no question of political bias. The accountant was going to give me some money back but I said put in a couple of extra insertions. She told me they have to vacate their premises on November 4th and have found nowhere else. Perhaps this links up with Costello’s reported departure. I am not hopeful for them, and if they crack up we may lose Martin Moriarty and Derek O’Flaherty.
I met Gerry Curran at Kings Cross, and we went for a meal in the Montegrappa [an Italian restaurant at the Kings Cross end of Grays Inn Road]. Paul Gilhooley was there with a pig-tailed mot. Then Gerry and I went to the Irish Centre where I gave a talk to the Irish History Group. Their grant is being cut by Camden or Brent Council, so they may be folding up. Big John Maher was there, Pat Bond and Stella with a bookstall, and quite a number of stalwarts who attend the Connolly Association lectures. Then I caught the 11.50 sleeper. Jane Tate was not there. She has gone to Yugoslavia. If ever there was such a woman for gallivanting round foreign parts. She is as bad as Phyllis was!
October 2 Friday: I arrived at 124 Mount Road at about 8 am. Over the last two days I have developed a filthy cold, not helped, I suppose, by travelling overnight. Have I been overdoing it? I don’t feel under any special strain, but I will need a holiday when the conference is over. I’ll try for a long weekend before. I got some more done on the conference. Barney Morgan called in at midday with some leaflets. A letter came from Colm Power. I think he may be developing schizophrenia. He says a letter sent to him by Tony Coughlan suggests that he is going off his head, and that he is taking a solicitor with a view to proceeding for defamation. And he accuses me of offering him a continuous succession of insults over the years which he has tholed for the sake of the movement. And he accuses me of passing derogatory remarks about him in Dublin and he intends to “confront” me with them when I am next in Dublin, adding darkly that “walls have ears”. It is, of course, not as if I had time to bother with insulting him or talking about him except when I meet him, perhaps once a year, or receive correspondence from him. I never even think about him! One feels like writing, “A solicitor would certainly be able to advise you as to whether you have any grounds for action.” But if he is going off his head, what can you do?
October 3 Saturday: In the morning Michael Crowe rang up from Chester-le Street. He is working with Sean Corcoran, Ciaran Corcoran’s elder brother, and they hope to re-start the CA. He was told in June that he would be called to hospital for an operation for haemorrhoids early in August. He is still waiting, and though he is not in pain, he loses blood, takes nearly a gram of iron every day, and often feels weak. He hopes to be in London for October 24.
At lunchtime Vivienne Morton telephoned [One of historian T.A.Jackson’s two daughters]. She has a Russian historian, doing research on the Fenians, staying with her and she wants to see me. I agreed to go to London on the Twelfth to meet her. She told me that Leslie Morton, now 84, was taken in and whisked to hospital in the middle of the night. She thought she had lost him, but he is now back at home taking things very easily.
I went no further afield than the shops, but wrote a few letters, mostly about the next issue of the “Democrat”. I’ve still got a filthy cold, but by evening it was beginning to improve. I resolved to go to bed early, after some vodka.
October 4 Sunday: It rained in the morning but brightened up in the afternoon. I posted 48 letters and circulars, largely letters plus circulars. It is beginning to be time we were getting responses. I tried to get Mark Clinton in the evening [a longstanding CA member in Birmingham], but he has been moving house.
October 5 Monday: It rained in the morning but cleared and was warm – I don’t think there was more than a shower – and it remained warm. In the evening there was a clap of thunder, the first this year. I sent off a few letters. In the evening Ellen Mitchell rang and a few minutes later Mark CIinton.
October 6 Tuesday: I went to the bank and requiring a lot more stamps I went to the Central Post Office, then dropping into the “Freeman’s Arms” for a vodka. There were three “ould ones” in a corner, and opposite me were two elderly men, obviously pretty impoverished pensioners. One would be, say, 75, the other younger. The younger one wore canvas shoes and no socks. The older one seemed to be supplying the money. Suddenly the older one spoke to me. “See her – in the corner – she’s 86, and she could drink you under the table.”
He didn’t want to be nosy. But I hadn’t got a “Scouse accent”. On the other hand he couldn’t place it. Where was I from? I told him. Had I lived away? I had, though I doubt if I ever had a “Scouse accent”. I said I had been in London. Then he said he was in London and had hundreds of times spoken “at Hyde Park corner”. Now I never heard anybody refer to it as Hyde Park corner. But he might have been right. I asked did he remember Joe Rawlings in Birkenhead. He grew enthusiastic. “Indeed I remember him. He was the first communist in Birkenhead. And I remember Leo McGree too.”[Leo McGree was a leader of the Birkenhead unemployed in the 1930s and a famous orator.] Then the two of them started denouncing Mrs Thatcher, “Though she’s paving the way for communism. She’s getting rid of all the compromisers.” They referred again to the woman in the corner. “Yes. She’d drink us all under the table.” “Well, there’s an old song,” said I, “They say that the women are worse than the men,” “An Irish song,” said the younger. I asked the older man his name. “Gleeson,” he replied. “That’s an Irish name.” “And so’s mine” said the younger, but I’ve forgotten what he said. The old one remembered the riots in Birkenhead in 1932. So here are the empty cartons of the fireworks of yesterday!
Later I rang Tony Donaghey. He had called into the office last Thursday but there were only a few invitations left, enough to circularise the London branches only. “If Pat Bond had told me they were running short I’d have brought some back to London,” I said, “but Bond would never tell you anything.” “He wouldn’t,” said Tony. “What’s more, he was pretty up-tight, said he was busy and didn’t want to be interrupted. He might have been in a bad mood.” He told me yesterday that today he is going away for ten days’ holiday in Ireland. Stella is not going. Joe O’Grady telephoned. Michael Moriarty had sent out the notices late, but Barney Morgan had done a leaflet and distributed copies around the Irish Centre on Saturday and Sunday. Vivienne Morton asked me to meet a Russian historian and sent the confirmation.
October 7 Wednesday: I worked on a discussion paper for the conference most of the day. George Davies rang up and I told him things were not promising. The Anti-Apartheid are holding a demonstration and Tony Benn has a conference that day in Chesterfield [Tony Benn, left-wing Labour politician, MP for Chesterfield at this time].
I went to the Liverpool Connolly Association branch meeting where Tom Walsh gave an extremely competent talk. There were 20 present – so that is two meetings running with an attendance of over 20. The usual people were there – Michael Mortimer, Alan Morton 2, Pat Doherty, Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady and O’Keeffe. I think at last it is beginning to “take off”. Desmond Wells had been in Blackburn and they were still talking about the meeting in spring. They wanted him to start an IBRG in Liverpool. Wills told them we have got everything already. Joe O’Grady tried to get a whip-round for the surcharged councillors. I threw in £10, but Barney Morgan was not enthusiastic and it was with difficulty I extracted the promise of a fiver. The reason is simple. Some of the more well-heeled like Hatton [Derek Hatton, leader of the “Militant” group on Liverpool Council, whose activity had led to the Councillors being surcharged by the Government] don’t want bankruptcy because they would not qualify for hardship payments after handing their assets to their wives. The likes of Doswell have no assets to hand over. But people do not expect them to be able to keep up their payments and think they will go bankrupt anyway. So why give money to the government? I spoke to Tony Donaghey. Pat Bond has been to see him.
October 8 Thursday: I took in the statement to Mary McClelland, who has undertaken to duplicate it for a consideration. She works part-time for CND.
October 9 Friday: I got up late – slept till midday – and felt the better for it. There is still snuffling and sneezing but there is definite improvement. O Conchúir wrote telling me Newsinger is at it again[ie. John Newsinger, academic historian who had criticised Greaves’s views of James Connolly and Sean O’Casey].
October 10 Sunday: I went into the city to pick up some duplicating that Mary McClelland had done for me. I had a word with Stella Bond on the phone. Pat Bond is in Killala. Mary McClelland told me that Costello had already left the “Morning Star”[Michael Costello was a former CPGB industrial organiser, an opponent of the “Eurocommunist” policy line being pushed by “Marxism Today” and the party head office]. Apparently he has young children and they all receive the party wage of £110 a week – less than we paid young Paul Gilhooley. On the other hand this has surely been so for a long time, and he went into the thing with eyes open. He is of upper middle-class origin, and probably has to put his family through College. What did he expect? People go into things without weighing all the circumstances; else, I suppose, nobody would do anything.
October 11 Sunday: It was cool but dry and for a time sunny. I would have gone out but for the remains of the cold. I did some clearing up and sent out a few copies of the paper. I had a word with Joe O’Grady in the evening. Otherwise nothing much.
October 12 Monday (London/Liverpool): I had a most unsatisfactory day. I got to Euston. The train was late so I took a taxi to the British Museum where Vivienne Morton had arranged that a Russian studying the Fenians would meet me at 1 pm. She was not there. After waiting a while and enquiring of the officials I went to the office and saw Stella. Jane Tate was back but was tired and had taken the phone off the hook. So I came back. Also I had a nose bleed.
October 13 Tuesday: I met Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer in town and we laid plans for the week. I sent Jane Tate a dozen copies of the papers that Mary McClelland had duplicated. Another nose-bleed in the evening.
October 14 Wednesday: A couple of women – something gypsy about them – came from Abergele with a wagon and offered to take away the rubbish left by Fred Brown and the young lad Dolan – for a consideration. I let them do it, but they didn’t make a job of it. Still, I suppose it’s a bit better. Though the main symptoms of the cold have disappeared I do not feel on top of the world, but a trifle jaded. I must try to get away as soon as the conference is over. I’ll probably not feel like going away, but as Phyllis used to say, that is when you should. An article arrived from Martin Moriarty. I had asked whether he was covering the Birmingham Six trial for the “Morning Star”. Somewhat indiscreetly he said that that “reformist” Chater would never let him loose on a job like that [ie. the paper’s editor, Tony Chater, whom Greaves did not think highly of].
October 15 Thursday: I went to the hospital in the morning. The number of doctors on duty had been reduced, so I was not back till 12.15. The eye pressure was pronounced normal – though I still “see” occasional phosphenes. Stella Bond rang saying more papers were wanted, so I went into the city to post some off. I went a second time to try to get a story about the Builders’ Charter, which is based in the Northwest – Liverpool, Carlisle, Manchester and Shotton, and whose paper is published in Liverpool. The only other centre is London. Apparently they have over £1,000 in their fund in Liverpool alone. There was nobody there I knew, which certainly would not be the case in London!
I bought a “Morning Star”. There was a long letter from John Boyd criticising the CP’s backsliding vis-a-vis the EEC. It crossed my mind whether to re-register next year. That would mean breaking with Lawrence & Wishart. They are supposed to be bringing out Mellows with a Connolly Association subsidy next month but have let Connolly [ie. his biography of James Connolly] go out of print so that Michael O’Riordan has expressed interest in it [ie. Michael O’Riordan of the CPI in Dublin]. I will not budge on the EEC as far as the “Democrat” is concerned.
October 16 Friday: I was surprised to hear the radio reports of the fierce storms that swept the South of England during the night. I rang Jane Tate but got no reply. There was nothing more than a moderate breeze here and this is a place where it can blow great guns! I had brought up membership cards and went through them. The Connolly Association has about 320 members, who mostly stick, so it has the highest membership now – though only by 30 or 40 – for many years. When I was General Secretary during the war it reached about 800.
October 17 Saturday: It was a bright, fairly mild day. I wrote to Josephine Logan and took the letter to Irvine Road pillar box. It was blocked with a wooden wedge on which was written, “closed till further notice”. I walked to the Allcot Avenue box. That was also closed, and so was a third in Mount Road. What the reason is I can’t guess. When I mentioned this on the phone to Jane Tate she was convinced this was because there was chaos in London and the trains were not running. So parochial are the Londoners, that it was hard to convince her that there had been no abnormal gales here, that the Euston line was normal and there was no chaos in Liverpool. It is rather like “continent isolated”. I began the paper.
October 18 Sunday (London/Liverpool): I went to London. The train went through Chester, Birmingham and Northampton and arrived half an hour late. I took a taxi to the office. Only Pat Bond, John Boyd, Jane Tate, Pat Doherty and Gerry Curran were there. This is because the young people are working on a Sunday. Gerry Curran and I went to Jane Tate’s flat afterwards. We had scarcely gone ten yards when Gerry commented on Pat Bond’s insufferable behaviour and wondered if his moroseness was due to his having had a heart attack. But what he had was a cerebral haemorrhage. He just returned from a holiday in Ireland where he motored round, seeing May Hayes and everybody. He has plenty of money, but he is as miserable as sin. What is it? Hunger for approbation? We had a meal and I caught the 7.50 to Liverpool.
There was no sign of destruction by Friday’s hurricane North of London. But in London the tree opposite Jane Tate’s flat was cut in two. There were broken branches all over the pavements. Trees were down in Coram Fields and one in Euston Square.
October 19 Monday: I posted off two pages of the paper and finished two more. But Dónal Mac Amhlaigh has not sent anything this month. Still I’m not badly short. GF rang [Proper name unknown; possibly Gerry Fitt] and I had a word with Jane Tate and Stella. I wrote to Tony Benn about the article in yesterday’s “Observer” to the effect that the “left” was going soft on the EEC.
October 20 Tuesday: I got another three pages off. In the afternoon I met George Davies at Lime Street. He told me about the fiasco of the Lancashire visit to Ireland. It had been arranged that they should go to Dublin as well as Belfast, but the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU sabotaged this, by saying nobody in Dublin was available to meet them. In the event they went to Derry. The delegation was entirely taken in by Northern Irish smooth talk. Dave Hawkins said his visit had convinced him of the soundness of “The British Road to Socialism”! The man’s obviously unstable. And George Davies looks like being in a minority of one. I would not have advised the trip anyway. Having the NI Committee as hosts was to recognise Partition from the start.
A letter came from the Russian woman who failed to turn up yesterday week. Apparently she is on an exchange visit and her hosts are the British Academy. She went to see a professor fellow called Bath in Durham. He kept her over the weekend and her train was late. One Jane Lyddon of the Academy also wrote saying that Vivienne Morton had more or less bounced her and that she wanted the meeting at another time. A pity she didn’t say so. John Boyd wrote saying he also had written to Benn.
October 21 Wednesday: I finished the paper, apart from about 10″ and posted it off to Ripley.
October 22 Thursday: There are signs of a change in the weather. There was only a half-hearted shower this afternoon and the wind is turning North-West. There is a large anticyclone that has sat over North Russia for weeks. It seems to be approaching. I have often noticed intensely stormy periods with exceptionally low barometer (it fell below 29″ last Friday) are followed by cold East winds.
October 23 Friday (London): I posted off some last bits and pieces of the paper, then went to Chester and joined Tony Coughlan on the train from Holyhead. We had a quick bite, then went to Flann Campbell’s where we stayed the night. Flann was saying he occasionally sees Joe Monks [former International Brigader in Spain], but that practically all the Spanish Civil War generation have died.
I wrote to Tony Benn a few days after seeing that his Chesterfield conference document says withdrawing from the EEC is “not a priority” – this, while the share markets are crashing all over the world. Flann Campbell is thinking of going back to Dublin. His book is with Gill and Macmillan.
October 24 Saturday: We walked to the Conway Hall, Flann Campbell came along later [The conference was on the theme “British Labour and the Irish Question”]. I was greeted by Jane Tate, who said Leslie Morton had died, yesterday I think, and Vivienne Morton was in a bad state. She was thinking of inviting Stella [ie. her sister] to live with her, now that Ewart is dead [ie. her husband Ewart Milne]. About 65 people turned up. Undoubtedly the best address was from Michael Moriarty. But Clare Short [Labour MP and former. Minister, of Irish background], Donald McIntosh and Tony Coughlan were all good and the chairman James Knapp – a very good man – said he was glad he had come because it filled gaps in his knowledge [Donald McIntosh was a Scottish official in NALGO, the Local Government union; Jimmy Knapp was General Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen].The builders were there – Andy Higgins, John Maher and Sean Kettle – Barry Riordan, Hammie O’Donoghue, Michael Martin, Foley from Glasgow, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty and Peter O’Keeffe from Liverpool. (His brother is a friend of John Gibson’s) There were people from Manchester, Taunton and Norwich – Howard Kelsey. Ten of us went for meal – Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty, Peter O’Keefe, Jane Tate, Derek O’Flaherty and his mot, Charlie Cunningham and some others. I had a talk with Clare Short, who drinks pints of bitter and affects a kind of proletarian bonhomie. Martin Moriarty had a talk with Joe Deighan and said apropos of Belfast, “Nobody should go there. It’s a poisoned well.” And he explained some of the moves behind the trickery carried out. It seems that the Manchester TUC wrote to the ICTU in Dublin and they passed on the letter to the Northern Ireland Committee, since the ICTU itself has no policy on the border and was not even prepared to answer factual questions. This was the first time these issues have been frankly discussed, so it is a distinct step forward. Joe O’Grady stayed in London for a Pax Christi meeting tomorrow, but Pat Doherty, Peter O’Keefe, myself and Tony Coughlan came back to Liverpool where Tony stayed the night.
October 25 Sunday: Tony Coughlan brought me a copy of Wright’s “Spycatcher” which I began to read when he had gone [This was a memoir by former M15 officer Peter Wright, published in 1987]. I found it very interesting, since there were quite a few times when I received the attention of his employers. A week after I joined the CP, plain clothes men called twice to ask if I had seen a motor accident. Years later I went into J.G. Bennett’s office and when I popped my head round the door there was loud laughter
[J.Godolphin Bennett, Managing Director of Powell Duffryn; exponent of the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky theosophical system, whose adherents Greaves used refer to as “the yogis”]. The “Special Branch” had called to say what a menace I was. “But you must agree Greaves brings home the bacon,” Foster had said. “Indeed,” said Bennett, “but we need it cooked.” Another time, after we had just come out of a Board meeting Bennett (who was managing director) tackled me. They had been again. I guessed it might have arisen from my going to Parkhurst to see Jim O’Regan [one of the IRA prisoners who had been linked to the IRA bombing incidents in Britain in 1939 and who were imprisoned during World War 2. In later years Greaves used stay with Jim Regan and his mother whenever he visited Cork], so I referred to my Connolly Association activities. “If ever I was inclined to anything that would hurt the interests of the company, I will warn you” – in effect this meant resign. And he accepted it. I had access to the General Office and though I didn’t often work late, I would sometimes go into it for a file. On one occasion I was looking through “C” and saw a file marked “Conservative Central Office.” I didn’t open it. If I got any information out of it I couldn’t use it. And some time I might give way that I’d seen it. Bennett, described in the American press as a “six-foot British gum-shoe operator”, had been in one of the Intelligence Services and stationed at Constantinople. He used to say there was a cafe where the Turkish “spies” met and exchanged and concocted their stories. He was, I have no doubt, contemptuous of this absurd mystery-making.
I did a bit of clearing up but the kitchen strip light failed on me.
October 26 Monday: I went into the city and among other things saw John Gibson. He told me that this character Cole left the bookshop several thousand pounds in debt and has been rewarded by being made director of Central Books. Barney Morgan told me he ran the literature service for the local CP branch and the same happened there. But he is a thoroughgoing sycophantic “Euro”, so is presumably acceptable.
October 27 Tuesday: I had a hard day. It was pouring rain but I luckily caught a bus to Rock Ferry. The train times have all been altered again and the long- distance buses discontinued, so I took a taxi to Ripley. The paper was ready bar a few adjustments. But Brian was away and Terry abandoned his managerial chair to work as a compositor. The result was delay. I caught a bus at 4.10. It reached Derby at 4.40. The station bus is now only half hourly. One had gone at 4.35. The next was 5.05, and my train was 5.11. The next one was 6.38, so I decided to walk to the station in a fine wintry drizzle. I arrived at 5.10 but decided to take a chance and hurried over the bridge. Obviously I relied on its leaving late. It did. Moreover, it was standing not at its usual place but at the foot of the bridge. I hardly jumped on board before it moved off, wet but relieved. I waited for the express at Crewe. But this was twenty minutes late. However, I had dried out by now and reached 124 Mount Road at about 9 pm.
October 28 Wednesday: Today was quite fine. I gathered about 2 lbs. of tolerable green tomatoes, a shocking poor crop, and I think there has been a slight frost. There will be one small marrow – also a deplorable crop. Strangely enough some of the earlier tomatoes are quite sizeable. There was no mail today. I spoke to Joe O’Grady who telephoned. When he got back from London he found his sister had had a fall and was in Wilton Hospital. However, she was due home today.
I listened to the Eroica on the radio in the evening – on period instruments, but with all the repeats played. I don’t in general like this, as I think modern instruments are better. Whether it was the instruments or the orchestra that were to blame, I thought there was a certain roughness in the performance. But the careful playing of the repeats was sound policy and brought out the classical structure of the work. You know you’re going to B flat if you go back and come again. I think it is my favourite of the Beethoven symphonies.
October 29 Thursday: Another fair day but cooler. I wrote quite a few letters, to Vivienne Morton, Alan Morton and others. I had a brief word with Jane Tate who thought Gerry Curran was on holidays, but he was not. We agreed to meet in London on Monday. Joe O’Grady rang saying he had been in touch with Michael Mortimer. And then Barney Morgan came on the line to say he had been in Cos in sight of the coast of Turkey and had flown back today. But there was no mail today. George Davies from Bolton arranged a meeting for Saturday in the Irish Centre and sent me a packet of posters which I sent to Barney who found them on his return from Greece. He took them round a few friendly shops today. Joe O’Grady thought it somewhat discourteous of Davies to do this without informing the Liverpool CA. I thought the same. But according to Desmond Wells, who was in Blackburn, Kneafsey and some of them would like to set up the IBRG in Liverpool, and I don’t want non-cooperation to push George Davies into that sort of initiative.
October 30 Friday: I got out a circular and posted off 48 copies to the most active members of the Connolly Association. This took to about 2.30 pm. so there was little daylight left, but in it I did a little clearing up. Since Gerry Curran is getting out the next paper I hope to tackle the chaos in the house and get it straight by the end of November. Then I might go to Dolgoch [ie. the YHA hostel in Wales].
October 31 Saturday: It was a dry day, but I didn’t do much in it. In the morning I went to Birkenhead Market to buy some fish and then had a pint of beer while reading the “Manchester Guardian”. I did however ring Martin Moriarty. I have the idea of getting a team to work on the “Democrat” – there would be the old guard, Gerry Curran and myself, but John Boyd writes regularly, and also Dónal Mac Craith. Peter Berresford Ellis requested space for a monthly article. Indeed the paper is being bespattered with by-lines, with Martin Moriarty and Derry Kelleher in it this month [Derry Kelleher was a Dublin left-wing Republican, an admirer of Greaves and his work, who had been in “Official” Sinn Fein but got disillusioned with it. He wrote several books on the politics of the time]. If I could get Derek O’Flaherty interested as well, we could hold periodical meetings, boost circulation and perhaps go for twelve pages. We intend to make 1988 the Connolly Association jubilee year whose highest point will be the conference planned for 50 years after the original one, which was 4 September 1938. This will be one of the best ever opportunities to have a real expansion and avail of the finance Bill Hardy left us.
November 1 Sunday: It was dry and mild but I didn’t go out, except to cut the solitary small marrow before frost damages it. I wrote to Peter Berresford Ellis, Pat O’Donohue, Tony Coughlan, Sean Redmond, John Boyd and Joe Deighan and Jim Savage, mostly about the paper. I also wrote to De Roe saying I was thinking of going to Dolgoch in December and asked if there are bus services to Abergwesin or a taxi service in Llanwrtyd. I might not take the bicycle where there might be frost on the roads. I have been thinking about plans for next year and trying make ideas concrete.
November 2 Monday (London/Liverpool): I went to London. Trying to get there a few minutes earlier I took the 9.20 and changed on to a Manchester train at Crewe. But some other train had broken down near Stoke and the Manchester train was diverted to pick up the passengers. The Liverpool wasn’t delayed at all, so I didn’t save a minute. Gerry Curran met me at Euston and I gave him the copy I had. Jane Tate and Stella Bond were in the bookshop. We sorted out some conference material. Then I came back.
November 3 Tuesday: I didn’t go out. The East winds have come but it is quiet and quite mild. I wrote letters. George Davies wrote from Bolton quite enthusiastically and says he will get us some new members. His meeting was not well attended, but he thought it was worthwhile. I noticed that Nottingham had cancelled their “Democrat” order and rang Stella Bond. “They say they can’t sell them.” “You mean they won’t sell?” “No. They’re busy in CPGB activity. John Peck is going up for the Council or Parliament.“[Peck was the Nottingham area CP secretary] I wrote to Josephine Logan suggesting going there. Joe O’Grady telephoned.
November 4 Wednesday: I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at midday, after which Michael and I went for a meal. Alan Morton 2 has got him two hours lecturing a week at Edge Hill College on the non-subject of sociology. I think he probably drinks too much. He says he went to a doctor who said, “I think you’ve got a drink problem.” He asked why he thought it and was told, “I can tell.” When he ate an enormous bowl of salad brought for me, but which I didn’t want, as well as his own, he said, “I’ll pay for this.” “Why?” “Eating too much” And then he spoke of having to go to a doctor on account of his stomach. All of which is a pity.
November 5 Thursday: I went into the city to post letters at the one post box that has reopened after the brief postal strike. I also picked up Paul Delaney’s book on the Rupert Brooke circle [ie. “The New Pagans: Rupert Brooke and the Ordeal of Youth”, published 1987]. I sent off a letter to John Boyd, expressing my conviction that now Benn has ratted on the Common Market issue – at least he has not replied to my letter of enquiry – we must think of organising for a major debate, perhaps even forming an organisation that would do here what Tony Coughlan has been able to do in Ireland. The CPGB has ratted too and I am quite seriously wondering whether I still desire to belong to it. However, it is better to be kicked out. I asked John Boyd to collect a register of all people known to be against it, but suggested that we unship Coleman, but make the argument that socialism is impossible without defying or renouncing the Treaty of Rome [Coleman had been an early critic of the EEC, but changed his views]. I remember discussing with Idris Cox the possibility of Benn becoming leader of the Labour Party [Idris Cox had been in charge of CPGB international affairs office for a period]. “The trouble,” says he, “is that he is not a member of the working class.”
November 6 Friday: I had a letter from Peter Beresford Ellis and Joe O’Grady telephoned. I wrote to one or two people but did not go out. I spent some of the evening reading about the Rupert Brooke circle. I received the same impression I got from Holroyd on Lytton Strachey, of a gang of well-heeled philistines only interested in themselves. I was surprised to see that Cornford’s mother, Frances Cornford, fooled about with them [John Cornford, 1915-1936, English poet and communist, was killed while serving with the International Brigade in Spain. Greaves knew him in left-wing student circles in the 1930s]. Freda Morton knew the Bloomsbury crowd when she was in Fitzroy Square and didn’t think much of them either. And this accounts for the emptiness of Rupert Brooke’s poetry. Wilfred Owen was another matter [Owen had gone to Birkenhead Institute School which Greaves later attended].
November 7 Saturday: I didn’t do much today. A letter from John Boyd told me he is trying to set up an anti-EEC committee. Also he is seeing Martin Moriarty, who is upset at not getting more about the CA conference into the “Morning Star” and the serious demoralisation among his colleagues. I must say I view the English “Left” with mounting contempt. I went into the city. I spoke to Jane Tate. She said Michael Crowe had undergone an operation for piles, which had been very painful but was now at home convalescing. I telephoned him in the evening. He said he was feeling “near normal”, but I could tell he was not. He was extremely slow and I think it has taken more out of him than he hoped. He returns to work in a couple of weeks’ time and may be at the E.C. on the 21st.
November 8 Sunday: There has been no rain so far this month, but it is chilly with a slight mist. I didn’t go out but started reading Rolland’s vast novel “Jean Christophe”. Quite interesting.
November 9 Monday (London/Liverpool): Joe Deighan rang yesterday. I told him how Benn seemed to have ratted on the EEC issue. He’s a somewhat devious character, as was shown when he joined the “Tribune” group in the middle of the night [It is not known what this incident refers to]. This morning I determined to find out a bit more about this Chesterfield do and went to London and found the HQ of the Socialist Society. It seems to be run by two young fellows in their middle twenties. I asked if Benn had now embraced the EEC. I received the impression that they thought he had and didn’t know what to say about it. I then went to the office and found Jane Tate and Stella Bond who were surprised to see me.
November 10 Tuesday: A letter came from Declan Bree asking me to go to the Gralton seminar next year. I said I would. Also Josephine Logan wrote to say the Nottingham branch is still going, although Mrs Sheridan has cancelled her papers and not shown up for any of the meetings. Charlie Cunningham enclosed the catalogues of the microfilm company who are to distribute copies of the “Irish Democrat”.
November 11 Wednesday: A wet and windy morning with the glass down to 29.20 – and probably lower in view of the age of the instrument. I did a circular about the E.C. on the 21st. This must be the first circularisation of E.C.s since the days of Sean Redmond [Dublin trade unionist who had been General Secretary of the Connolly Association in the 1960s]. I went to the Liverpool branch meeting. Those present were Barney Morgan, Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Alan (not Peter) O’Keeffe, whose brother is a friend of John Gibson’s, Pat Doherty and two ladies who joined. But I was struck by the fact that apart from Pat Doherty, they are a pretty unprofessional group. Barney Morgan is worse than Joe Deighan used to be as chairman. Joe O’Grady hops and skips all over the place. And Michael Mortimer positively whispers. So you never know what business he is trying to do.
By way of illustration of the effrontery of artisans, I note that at midday Ashford knocked at the door to ask if he “left a door behind ” when he was working for me. What happened was that it came from the kitchen. When the wall was being built I saw it had been placed ready for removal and had it brought back. Now he is trying to get it for some job he is doing. “I thought you had retired,” I said. “Oh, I do an odd job.” “Well, it’s not convenient to look for it just now,” said I. I did not say he wasn’t getting it, as actually I wouldn’t be sorry to get rid of it. But he wasn’t getting it as easily as that. I want something for it.
November 12 Thursday: There was nothing much happened today. I did some clearing up and went into Birkenhead for food.
November 13 Friday: Another day spent much the same way, with little result one way or the other.
November 14 Saturday: I got up at 7 am. and caught the 8.45 to Manchester, where the IBRG was holding a conference. Michael Herbert was there, and Baron-Cohen and his young people. The “Chairman of the District Council”, a Mrs Kelly, said a few words – in the olden days she would have been the “Lady Mayoress” and for my part I regard these shuffling with words, while nothing essential has changed, as pure nonsense. She was not a good speaker. Indeed speaking has become a lost art. All they do is mumble into a microphone. Their relation is not with the audience but with the machine. There must have been upwards of 60 people there. Jim King came in, and I had a long talk with Betty O’Shea – now calling herself Máire. She is hobbling around with a stick after a hip replacement that was not a success. Mind, she’s quite a courageous lady. It doesn’t take a thing out of her. She told me she is 67 and suffers from arthritis and macular degeneration, though she can see quite well at present.
She told me that she was at the Chesterfield conference. She doesn’t trust Tony Benn any more than I do. He was buzzing all over the place with forced bonhomie, chatting up this one and that like a parish priest. The Irish question did not figure, though she persuaded one MP – Jeremy Corbyn I think – to make an oblique allusion to it. But places on the other side of the globe, and evils that England could not be held accountable for, were discussed in detail. She could throw no light on Benn’s motive for the exercise. I had a drink with some of Baron-Cohen’s youngsters. They seem to have had a useful tour of Ireland. I also met Michael Reevy, a Liverpool Irishman who wrote to the “Irish Post” attacking the university crowd who are talking about establishing a “centre of excellence” (Bless us!) in support of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Kneafsey was there. It is an illustration of how infection spreads that having heard of the Liverpool thing, Blackburn are calling in the WEA [ie. the Workers Education Association] to run classes on Irish history. They are all under the illusion that the State is neutral.
November 15 Sunday: The weather is milder again. Following the snowfalls in the USA I am moving my betting to a mild winter this year. I didn’t go out but managed a bit of clearing up. The radio is making the most of the Enniskillen bomb [Planted at the War Memorial in Enniskillen by the Provisional IRA at a Remembrance Day ceremony on 8 November, which killed 11 people and injured 63]. It was worse than a crime – a blunder.
November 16 Monday: I wrote one or two letters and rang Jane Tate. Then I went into town and bought the “Morning Star” at Lime Street and read of the shocking state of the CPGB. They have reneged on opposition to the EEC. I periodically reconsider whether to remain a member. Does there remain any regenerative capacity within it? There was an account of it in the “Manchester Guardian” also. I have doubts of the ability of the expelled dissidents to form themselves into a coherent party. So chaos is worse and worse confounded. I rang Ellen Mitchell and arranged to go to Glasgow for the Margaret Byrne memorial social on Wednesday. I then arranged to go via Edinburgh and to meet Alan Morton in the afternoon.
November 17 Tuesday: To my surprise it was a mild, dry day with cumulo- stratus, for there was an ugly sunset yesterday of black and peach. Pat Bond rang in the morning saying Mellows will be republished on the 27th, and that Lawrence & Wishart rang thanking him for “harássing“[accent over second syllable] them into doing it as they have got some good orders. “Maybe,” said I, “but they can’t pronounce it.” “Well I think it can be either, but now you mention it, it was always hárass when I was growing up [accent over first syllable].”After the good news he gave me the bad. “I suppose you know Michael O’Donnell is going home.” I didn’t. How would I? So the fit of enthusiasm didn’t last. Later I rang Peter Berresford Ellis [Historian and Celtic scholar, who had offered to write for the “Irish Democrat”] and arranged to meet him on Saturday for lunch.
November 18 Wednesday (Edinburgh): I went to Crewe and then caught a train to Edinburgh where Alan Morton awaited me. We had a drink and a bite in the station. He has had framed the picture Freda Morton painted of me; it must have been around 1944 or 1945. I imagine that when I see it I will want to do a Yeats and “spit into the face of time”, even though time has not done its worst on me – yet. Alan seems to be bearing up reasonably well after losing Freda. Of course he’s got the two children and Alisoun is always in and out. But she still has this damned viral disease.
I went on to Glasgow where Kevin Mitchell and Ellen Mitchell met me at the station. They had organised a social evening in memory of Margaret Byrne. It was a powerful success. I would say there must have been about 80 people there. There young Fergal O’Doherty tackled me. Why had I not published the article sent me by the Scottish Civil Liberties people in reply to “Irish Democrat” strictures? I answered because it was not a reply but a boost for his organisation. He said the article was “the most sectarian thing” he had ever read but did not explain why he had not replied to it. He talks like an organiser and I think he is under the influence of Michael Morrissey.
November 19 Thursday (Liverpool): Ellen Mitchell drove me to the station, only to miss the train by minutes. However I caught the next and by dint of a lucky connection at Preston I reached Lime Street by 1.30 and met Joe O’Grady. Michael Mortimer was not available. In the evening Gerry Curran rang. He got microfilms of the “Irish Democrat” for the British Museum. He says they have kept the negative and only given us positives.
November 20 Friday: Barney Morgan called in with the “Sunday Press”, containing a big article about Michael O’Riordan. Then Tony Coughlan sent some cuttings. These came, inter alia, from “Anois”[an Irish-language weekly published in Dublin] with favourable mention of the “Democrat” as the only paper published in Britain that carries any Irish. It was by Sean Kearney, who I presume is Joe Deighan’s old friend. I went into Birkenhead but didn’t otherwise do very much.
November 20 Friday: [This date and entry is a mistake, as the previous entry covers that date]. I didn’t get much done today, though I went into Birkenhead for a few things like fish.
November 21 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street and we went to Euston. Then we went to Kings Cross, passing the taped-off area of the recent fire, and met Peter Berresford Ellis in the Monte Grappa, formerly the famous chophouse, patronised by Lenin and others [This Italian restaurant at the Kings Cross end of Grays Inn Road had replaced “Adam’s Chop House”, where Lenin reputedly once dined and which Greaves and other CA people used patronise in the 1960s]. I put to him the idea of a conference on “Irish Studies” and anti-national brainwashing. Apparently he sees Pat O’Donohue every Monday evening and has multiple connections. He doesn’t expect to be able to have the Celtic Book Fair this year. He was all in favour of the idea. Eric Heffer [ie. the left-wing Labour Liverpool MP] had given Joe O’Grady a present of Beresford Ellis’s “History of the Irish Working Class”, which he persuaded him to autograph. He told us that “Pluto Press” had been rescued. I said nothing but the fact gave me no pleasure. There is a nasty Trotsky tendency there. He agreed to come to Liverpool.
We then went to the E.C. Those present were Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Stella Bond, John Boyd, Pat O’Donohue, Michael Brennan, Michael Crowe, Gerry Curran, Josephine Logan and Ellen Mitchell – those missing included Peter Mulligan, Tony Donaghey, Martin Moriarty, Derek O’Flaherty and Ciaran Corcoran. BY [Proper name unknown] is going back to Ireland to live in Omagh. Michael Brennan, who was moved into the chair in the absence of Peter Mulligan, has agreed to be Southeast London Secretary. On the whole some useful business was done. But Pat Bond was his usual semi-obstructive self. He loves to parade some scrap of knowledge he thinks the one he is speaking to doesn’t possess. Thus learning that Pluto Press was rescued I included them in a list of publishers that mightdo our history. Immediately Pat Bond interrupted, “They’re closed down,” gleefully at being able to correct somebody. I told him they were not closed down but didn’t bother giving him the source of the information. Kevin Mitchell appeared with the little girl. Michael Brennan always scarpers the minute the meeting is over, and Josephine Logan went straight to St. Pancras for her train. Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Michael Crowe and Joe O’Grady came with me for a meal. Ellen Mitchell and Kevin Mitchell were staying with Paddy Bond. He and Stella whisked them off. They badly wanted to meet the members, who were very indignant at this same trick played on them again. Jane Tate told Ellen Mitchell that next time she would put Michael Crowe somewhere else and have Ellen with her. I returned with Joe O’Grady on the 7.50 and took a taxi from Hamilton Square.
The article praising the “Irish Democrat” is by Seán Ó Cearnaigh – if it’s the same man, the friend of Joe Deighan – the “Mwaxist”! [a facetious term used by Greaves to refer to a self-description by Ó Cearnaigh]
November 22 Sunday: It turned colder. I didn’t go out. In the morning Joe Deighan rang and commented on the woeful results of the Enniskillen bomb. I said I would not be surprised if one of the IRA units had been infiltrated by the equivalent of Littlejohn – was that his name? He was jailed in Dublin – and the result was a provocation. Mrs Thatcher commented on the event with triumph in her voice. “Now they’ll have to have extradition.“[The Enniskillen bombing facilitated the passing of the Extradition Act which enabled the extradition of IRA suspects from Ireland to the UK.] He asked about Michael Crowe and I told him he was miles better, almost himself again, and Jane Tate who seems all right.
Mozart’s D Minor Requiem was on the radio – the Welsh Symphony orchestra and (I presume) a Welsh chorus at the Concertgebouw at Amsterdam. The choral work was better than the solo, but the transmission (or the reception) was muddy, and this spoiled an otherwise good performance.
November 23 Monday: It was miserable, cold and wet with a North-Northeast wind, mercifully not too strong. I had to go to the bank but abandoned my intention of calling on John Gibson in the bookshop. There was a letter from Tony Coughlan.
November 24 Tuesday: The minutes of last Saturday’s meeting arrived from Josephine Logan. She is obviously the soul of efficiency. I spoke to Joe O’Grady a couple of times. Michael Mortimer had forgotten the date of the meeting and has not sent out the notices. “He says he’ll do it at once,” Joe described exasperatedly. “But I suppose he’ll say he’ll have another little drink before he starts.” And Barney Morgan had mixed up the object of the dinner in January. Later I spoke to Gerry Curran. Apart from going into the city for one or two things and writing some letters I did not do much.
November 25 Wednesday: I got quite a bit done this morning – wrote nineteen letters, mostly trying to get activity. Then I went to Lime Street to check train times. About 6 pm. Barney Morgan called in. He said Blevins was in town speaking for the Communist Campaign Group in the AUEW hall [Blevins was former CP official in Liverpool]. Was I going? I said I was not. I’m not too pleased with that young man after the trick he played on me when he first went to London, though of course it was Trask and Gilhooley who cooked up the cabal. Barney Morgan said his feeling was that he didn’t want to be “mixed up with them”, but thought he’d have a word with me first. I was not of course really competent to advise him, but on balance I thought he was right. If Trask had not played that trick on me and then ignored my letters, I might have been inclined to have confidence in the Communist Campaign Group. But as it is, I haven’t. It is the same old opportunist weakness in new personnel. I have not finally concluded that the CPGB is irredeemable, though I admit it is pretty far gone. Barney Morgan told me he had not left, he had merely not been asked to re-register. I wondered why not. Incompetence is more likely than design. He thinks the dinner will be a huge success, but still has the notion that it marks 50 years of the paper [In fact it was to mark 40 years of Desmond Greaves’s editorship]. I told him he is wasting a profitable commemoration!
November 26 Thursday: In the evening Pat Bond rang up to tell me that the Gardai have raided the houses of respectable citizens connected with the anti-deportation movement, including that of Uinseann MacEoin [Dublin architect and conservationist, an independent Republican]. I had heard on Radio Eireann that their offices had been raided as well. This he did not know. Clearly the authorities are making hay while the bomb shines. I even more strongly suspect the bomb was a provocation, just as I think the Birmingham bomb may have been. It is amazing how conveniently these bombs are timed for the advantage of the Government.
I went into the city to collect a book, did a little more clearing up and spoke to Joe O’Grady on the phone. Michael Mortimer has fallen down on sending out the notices again, much to Joe O’Grady’s disgust.
November 27 Friday: A notice arrived from Michael Mortimer, so Joe O’Grady’s remonstrance must have moved him. But there was no other mail. I had 5 cwts. of anthracite delivered, so that was to the good. I didn’t go out.
November 28 Saturday: I did very little, merely went into the city and bought food and papers. A few cuttings came from Tony Coughlan.
November 29 Sunday: I got quite a deal done today, cleared up the front room, started in the kitchen, and wrote to Pat O’Donohue and Jane Tate. Fisher had written to Pat O’Donohue asking him about Bob Wynn’s share in Connolly Publications [Fisher was the accountant for Connolly Publications, the company that published the “Irish Democrat”; Bob Wynn had inherited a share in the company following the death of its previous treasurer, Mrs Toni Curran, with whom Wynn had been living]. He had written to him asking for probate and instructions and had no reply. The letter was given me in a wad of paper Jane Tate had taken from my pigeonhole in the office. There was no envelope – that is one of Paddy Bond’s provoking tricks. He opens other peoples’ letters, reads them, deals with anything in them that will boost his ego, but is too lazy and egotistical to return them to their envelopes. So I don’t know whether this letter was sent to Pat O’Donohue’s home and he put it there for me, or whether Pat Bond opened it, decided it was too technical ground to poach on and put it back sans envelope. Anyway, I sent it on to Pat O’Donohue. In the wad of papers thrust into my hand were particulars of two conferences in London next weekend. I sent these to Jane Tate.
November 30 Monday: I rang Nessan Danaher at Leicester in the morning [Nessan Danaher was an educationist and cultural activist, founder of the Irish Studies Workshop and Library, Leicester; see “The Life Stories of Nessan and Maureen Danaher: A second-generation Irish couple living in Leicester”, 2020]. He said he would have been through to me but had mislaid my number. He also said he had duplicated some quotations from Connolly which he desired my permission to distribute. This may possibly be an attempt to force my hand, especially if the bird of song, Newsinger, has put him up to it. But I told him to go ahead with it. If the recipients of the quotes ask questions about them, the more the merrier. I began to prepare the lecture in the evening and though I ‘ll have to complete it tomorrow it is there in my head even if I don’t. A letter from Pat Bond told of a new member in Leicester. Seemingly Eamon Jeffries has surfaced in Hackney. Bond praises him. I am more doubtful.
December 1 Tuesday: The weather was dry, quiet and cool. I got more badly needed clearing-up done and wrote to Ashford saying he did well to “leave” the door since it was my property, but I am prepared to do business. If he would put washers on some running taps he could have the door. A letter came from Niall Farrell. His house was raided for arms. He thinks there has been a monumental sell-out. I replied that I thought Fianna Fail had been taken for a ride by HMG [ie. Her Majesty’s Government] and there might be red faces in it. A letter also came from Tony Coughlan. He will come to the dinner on January 25th. The history will make about 200 pages, so I wrote to Skelly to see whether Lawrence and Wishart wished to publish it [ie. the draft history of the Connolly Association which Anthony Coughlan had written; it remains unpublished as its author wished, a copy being in the CA records].
December 2 Wednesday (Leicester): I caught the 12.45 to Sheffield and a St. Pancras train to Leicester. Nessan Danaher was not there. I took it he had not received my telephone message to meet me at 4 pm. and applied the fall-back arrangements of 5.11. However, he had decided to come at four even though he had not received the message but was ten minutes late. He decided to search the station and found me in the refreshment room. He drove me to his place and provided a plate piled with chicken and vegetables I couldn’t possibly tackle. “Hm,” says he, “I can see why I’m overweight.” And he is for his age, which would be about 37. He is London Irish. Two of his uncles were in the Connolly Association in the fifties. He was brought up in an Irish tradition, lived in Liverpool for a year and goes there frequently. He specialises in wheedling money for Irish Studies out of local authorities but talks of being a teacher of children. He used to be education officer of the IBRG, but when Betty O’Shea’s case came up he resigned [Dr O’Shea had been arrested on the basis of allegations of having connections with terrorism, but was not charged]. His policy is to get as much done as he can for his projects, while retaining as much integrity as he can. He agreed with me that there must be a strong political motive in all this government spending on Irish Studies. Of course I explained it to him. To take one example, Irish is to be taken off the Gaelic League. Instead of the self- generated activity of the Irish, poor as it may be, we are to have a well- regulated curriculum.
There were about 16 at the meeting, several of whom knew me, and two had driven over from Coventry. He has a room with an extensive library, and on the whole the thing was a success. Apparently it is he who started this annual “Irish Studies” conference in Leicester. He knows Peter Mulligan well [Peter Mulligan was CA branch secretary in Northampton] and always gets his bookstall done by Pat Bond. I stayed the night at his home and the hospitality wanted for nothing. He had never heard of Newsinger.
December 3 Thursday: Nessan Danaher announced that he was going to Liverpool for the day, so we caught the one train of the day that makes a connection at Nuneaton and leaving Leicester at 7.40 am. we were in Lime Street by 9.50. The journey through Sheffield takes 3 hrs.10 mins., through Birmingham 3 hrs. 20 mins., through Derby even more. He showed me some of his syllabuses. It all looks to me like the canning of good food. The only way they can teach things is through abstractions, through “-isms”, and “-izations”. And the jargon is macaronic to the point of barbarism.
He was going to a session in the University. Buckland – historian of Unionism – is in charge [ie. Professor Patrick Buckland, author of “A History of Northern Ireland” and founder of the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool University]. “They wouldn’t give a job like that to me,” he says. So I take it he would not object to one. I told him about our conference next November and he said his college might be interested.
On the train I read in the “Morning Star” about the Communist Campaign Group meeting in the Conway Hall at which Jack Gaster and Derek Robinson disputed over the future. Gaster advised staying in the CPGB. Robinson, who had been kicked out of it, wanted to start a rival CP and appeal to the “Officials” to join it. A few days ago Barney Morgan came in to say he had been invited, or saw an announcement inviting people, to a meeting in Liverpool to be addressed by Blevins. Did I advise him to go? He is no longer in the CP as they didn’t bother to enrol him. I told him I was not going to have anything to do with it. I’d need more confidence in the ability of Chater etc. to re-establish a working party and would not be willing to recommend a further split on the strength of that ability [Tony Chater was editor of the “Morning Star” daily newspaper around which the “anti-revisionist” CP dissidents were then coalescing]. I told him about the tricks of Chater and Trask and of BIevins’s compliance. People only do that on me once. He said his own instinct was “not to get mixed up in it”.
A letter from Chris Maguire awaited me. He was in the midst of divorce proceedings. Bis in idem! But in the New Year he may be able to help the CA. Another letter came from BY [Proper name unknown]. His son in Canada has got a hospital job in Omagh. He wants BY and his wife to go over and live with them. The appointment is only for one year and the son may have to go back to Canada. BY doesn’t want to go but has been “outvoted”. But he is coming to London to the dinner on February 2nd. I think I will try to entice him to Liverpool.
December 4 Friday: I didn’t do much today. I must have been tired by the rush yesterday and didn’t get up till 10 am. I spoke to Joe O’Grady in the evening. He was in London yesterday and went with Eric Heffer into the bookshop [ie. the CA bookshop at 244 Grays Inn Road]. Michael Mortimer was not bad on Wednesday [ie. at the Liverpool CA branch weekly meeting], but there were only a few there.
December 5 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I had a somewhat frustrating day. I got up at about 7.30. When I switched on the light in the front room – pop – the lamp fused. This threw me late. But I caught the 9.50 to Euston, had a meal and went to the office. Gerry Curran was in the shop, but nobody I had informed of my visit turned up. It is rather as it was in the fifties. You write dozens of letters but don’t get a single reply. Jane Tate was at her brother’s. Gerry Curran told me the trouble is Pat Bond. Jane tells him she will only work in the office when he is not there. She told me that the number of helpers is diminishing as he antagonises one after the other. Mable O’Donovan is the latest. He had her licking envelopes. “Isn’t there a roller?” asked Gerry Curran. “Oh – It’s broken,” says Bond as if he doesn’t give a damn. “Well, what about a sponge?” He doesn’t deign to answer. Every interesting job is for himself. Everything menial is for others. “I don’t know how he gets any customers in,” says Gerry Curran. But he does. To them he is very polite and I’m sure Gerry is right in saying he never talks to them. The trouble is that everything is subordinated to his ego. When people stop helping him he does the work himself and plays the martyr. If he gets another stroke there’ll be nobody to take over. Anyway, we had a meal and a drink and I came back. There was no food on the train. The “privatised” buffet operator had not turned up.
Gerry Curran told me that “Dot”, the woman he is living with, is in his opinion not long for this world. I was surprised at his lack of emotion. There is in the house her adopted son aged about 20. He recently burgled the house, but nothing could be proven though the police were brought in. Now they are talking about selling up and going down country. She is a teacher of five- and six-year-olds. She says the children have been given no domestic training and are completely undisciplined and wild and incapable of concentrating on anything.
During the course of the afternoon Paul Gilhooley came. So he keeps in touch. He had with him a girl from Lurgan who seemed quite a decent lassie. He is working for the ILEA and gets £10,000 a year. That is over £190 a week, though tax will be deductible. We gave him £6,700 or thereabout. No wonder there is no socialism. Pensioners survive on £40 a week. I don’t know what the unemployed get. It will hardly be £80. But employed workers are on the pig’s back and know it. And everything is passed back to keep them sweet. Mellows is reprinted with a hideous cover [ie. his biography, “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution”].
December 6 Sunday: I did not go out. I got quite a deal of cleaning up done and spoke to Barney Morgan on the telephone. Ashford called at midday and promised to do my taps if I give him the door [ie. the door that he sought]. He promises to come on Tuesday. But I have caught cold.
December 7 Monday: There was an interesting letter from John Boyd this morning. I had suggested the setting up of an organisation of “Socialists against the EEC,” or such like. He thinks this might be possible [This was the genesis of what later became the Campaign Against Euro-federalism, directed at the British Labour Movement and led by John Boyd, which continued in being until the 2016 Brexit referendum]. Barney Morgan came in at about 10 am. to put some electric lamps in. I find it difficult to maintain balance high on a ladder – the only obvious physical sign of old age, though I don’t like bending. I spoke to Jane Tate in the evening. She told me that Pat Bond is running a social in South London jointly with the “Troops Out Movement” and has advertised it in the name of the national organisation rather than the branch. This is the first time he has ignored the Standing Committee on a political question. I have been wondering when political differences would appear. The reason will be to oblige some individual and boost his own ego. [The Connolly Association was opposed to the policy of the Troops Out Movement, regarding it as inspired by Trotskyist thinking, which sought speedy or immediate British military withdrawal from Northern Ireland rather than urging a British policy of cooperating with the Irish Government to bring about Irish reunification politically as well as militarily over time.]
December 8 Tuesday: Ashford was as good as his word and arrived this morning and fixed the taps. He didn’t want the door he tried to swipe, but the old glass-panelled door which I can’t remember why we replaced. I went into the city to buy a few things and on the whole, apart from some clearing up, I did not accomplish much. There was no mail apart from the “Irish Times”.
December 9 Wednesday: The last three mornings have begun with a thick white frost, but today was cloudier with a falling barometer. I could imagine snow. I didn’t go out and didn’t get a great deal done either, just a few letters. I had a word with Jane Tate. A letter arrived from Martin Moriarty.
December 11 Friday: I cleared up quite a deal of correspondence in the morning.
December 12 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I missed the 9.50 by a couple of minutes but took the 10.30 which goes to Dover and changed at Crewe on to an Edinburgh train. I sat down opposite a man wearing peace badges who said he was a member of the Society of Friends, travelling from Barrow-on-Furness to London for a hearing in the High Court. He had refused to pay part of his income tax on the argument that spending on weapons of mass destruction was illegal in British and international law. I completely sympathise but know he hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell. He has been summoned before and got on television five times. His name is Edward Stanton and he knows Jean Emery.
Members who had been had left by the time I reached the shop. But Charlie Cunningham said it had been a very successful day. Peter Mallon was there. Charlie thought there had been £600 taken on top of an order worth £2,000 from Hackney Public Library that came on Friday. Jane Tate came in. She had been at Jack Gaster’s bazaar. Charlie Cunningham remarked that although Pat Bond was enjoying a spectacular success he remained as lugubrious and woe-begone as ever. But since nobody knows what “makes him tick” it is impossible to enter his mind even in imagination. I caught the 7.50 which was in at 10.20, so that I was home by 11 pm.
December 13 Sunday: The frost has gone and the wind veered to the Southeast. But I did not go out. Pat Bond rang at midday – he always rings at the most inconvenient times; he has a genius for it. It was partly to pass on a message from BY. But he seemed pleased with having topped £700 in yesterday’s takings and landed the order for £2,000.
December 14 Monday: It remains cold though above freezing point. For a couple of years the polar front seems to have been a thousand miles South of its usual position, and depressions run along the South coast. I met Joe O’Grady who is not too pleased at the casual way Barney Morgan and Michael Mortimer are organising the dinner on the 25th. As he puts it, Barney is a congenital anarchist and Michael Mortimer can’t keep his mind on a thing after he’s had one glass.
December 15 Tuesday: John McGurk rang up at midday asking if we wanted him to give a lecture this year [John McGurk was an academic historian in Liverpool]. I seized the opportunity and said yes. Apparently he knows Nessan Danaher, to whom he gives a good name. He was not actually one of his teachers but he was at the College. This must have been his year in Liverpool that he spoke of. I invited him to give a talk. I need five. Berresford Ellis will do one, so if I could get Dunready from Oxford the course would be set up. In the evening Tony Coughlan telephoned asking for the loan of the microfilm with the first “Irish Democrat” issue on it. I rang up Peter Mulligan who has posted his copy, and Gerry Curran who said he would post it tomorrow – likewise Dónal Mac Craith who is studying for an M.A. at Essex University and has got a job as Irish policy officer for Brent Council. He tells me he has not a very good impression of Derek O’Flaherty, who on being offered a leaflet for a Republican function angrily tore it up. He put this down to dislike of the “Provisionals”. Tony Coughlan told me that Alan Morton 2 was in Dublin and offered to bring the “Irish Democrat” copy over and give it to Martin Moriarty to give. I told him the post was the lesser risk.
Apropos of Mac Craith, he was bitter against Stephen Brennan [an official with the Greater London Council who had been concerned with Irish affairs] who in turn told me that he was a notorious “Stickie”[ie. a supporter of the former “Official” Republicans in Ireland, now the “Workers’ Party”]. Now, speaking of Derek O’Flaherty he says, “I went through that phase myself.” Speaking to him I referred to Derek O’Flaherty’s being in the Irish Labour Party. I had forgotten he was in the CPI, but the sort of issue he liked to take up was divorce and “women’s rights”, not things we can deal with here. Dónal Mac Craith would like the Manchester players in Brent and thinks the Borough Council would back it financially.
The unusually cold dry weather seems to be coming to an end. When I got off at Birkenhead Central after shopping in the city, I found it was raining heavily. The polar front has been hundreds of miles South of its usual position these two years. There’s a huge depression in the Atlantic. I wonder will it push it back North.
December 16 Wednesday: The rain continued but it had turned mild. At lunchtime Barney Morgan appeared. He is helping some film makers who want to show the Irish sites in Liverpool on RTE. And Quincey, now making himself a comfortable income on the work we pioneered and got off the ground, wants him to act as a guide in a tour of Liverpool – trying to get another little chip of our initiative into his possession. Barney can see the negative aspect but points out that the guide is likely to sell more papers than the driver. But he also told me that quite a number of people have been praising the Connolly Association and he thinks that at last things are moving our way. He is busy preparing for the dinner. I rang Lorraine Knowles and got the date of the Connolly Exhibition. The director of the Art Galleries is a little apprehensive of its content – possibly afraid of Orangemen. She must maximise its Labour content. She would be glad of Brent’s help, as it will cost £1,200 to bring material from Ireland. Later I got in touch with Front Line Culture and Education with a view to bringing the Len Johnson play to London. Baron-Cohen is in Canada and will not be back until Xmas eve. Later I rang Dónal Mac Craith and told him about the possibilities and arranged to meet him on Saturday. I then rang Jane Tate. I told Joe O’Grady what the position was. It is interesting. For the first time in years I have a feeling there are developments. A letter from Josephine Logan indicates quite a high level of activity. Dónal Mac Craith may be able to get the Brent branch restarted. I think there has been a shift in his political thinking, as a year ago he was complaining that the “Irish Democrat” was “not socialist enough”. He deplores the temporising policy of the “Morning Star” on the Irish Question, and indeed so do I. They want to drink at the poisoned well in Belfast. It is as if a British paper were to take its lead from the white South Africans.
December 17 Thursday: Very cold and damp today – 53-55F. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning to say Brian Stowell will be chairman at the January dinner. In the afternoon Michael Mortimer rang up. There was a murder last Friday in Scotland Road, and Michael Mortimer picked up one of the suspects who is not yet eliminated. The police have asked him to make himself available all afternoon. He has seen an advertisement for a job in Bradford researching into the Irish in Britain. Alan Morton 2 has urged him to apply. He asked me to permit myself to be referred to in his favour and I agreed. Later I spoke to Barney Morgan about the dinner. He has been in touch with Joe O’Grady.
December 18 Friday: Barney Morgan and Michael Mortimer came in simultaneously at 6 pm. just as I was putting a meal on the table. Barney collected the draft of an invitation and Michael showed me his prospective research studentship papers from Bradford. The whole is typical “social science” and in my view illustrates the capacity of academics to make the simplest of questions boring. The work is under the Bradford Department of “Peace Studies” which has apparently, in this land of free intellectual enquiry, been taken to task by the authorities for being too friendly with CND. The professor’s name is John O’Connell, and Michael Mortimer thinks he is nationalist. I wonder whether he was the man who gave the appalling lecture at Leicester.
I listened to Handel’s “Messiah” on the radio. It was a more traditional performance than we are used to getting in these “trendy” days. But while some of the singers decorated (not excessively) others didn’t. I was glad of the appoggiaturas though they are not in the score. Having before me CEG’s [ie. his father’s] marked score I was very conscious of what this unimaginative conductor missed. Also for a time I thought they were cutting the cadences that close the recitatives. Then I realised these must have been played by a harpsichord, which I could not hear. I recall a performance in the Philharmonic Hall – it must be sixty years ago – when the Welsh Choral Society were performing Mendelssohn – the “Hymn of Praise” I think. The pianist was one Lennie Madoc Griffiths. I think the conductor was Tom Lloyd. CEG had some influence by which he got us boxes. On this occasion the orchestra played all the cadences but one, which was left to the pianist. She struck the two chords with such a magnificent flourish that it was a family joke for years. I remember other things – when at a Messiah performance Enid Greaves, aged about seven, put in an extra Hallelujah in the one bar rest before the end of the chorus. Since the performance did not command attention, I studied the score. Saturated as I have been with the music of the classical period these past few decades, and especially since I came back here and had the piano and the books on harmony, I can find Handel’s changes of key unexpected. I only spotted tonight that the famous diminished seventh fugue is in F Minor despite the three flat signatures and ends in the dominant, which is also the dominant of the F-major that follows. It sounds quite right and that is why. There was a period when flat keys were not written beyond E flat, but I doubt it was this. There were a number of omissions and the performance ended 25 minutes early. “The Trumpet” was followed by the Hallelujah chorus. While this might be criticised, there is something to be said for having the work close in a blaze of D-major, and we certainly got that, as within minutes we were at the last chorus.
December 19 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10.30 to London and was met by Dónal Mac Craith. Gerry Curran joined us with a nephew of his, Mark, a young fellow in his middle-twenties, Paddy’s son, who has left CIE for a job in London. Gerry Curran had just met him at Paddington. Dónal Mac Craith is an extremely capable person, now Irish policy advisor in the Race Relations Unit of Brent Borough Council. I am hoping to secure his cooperation in putting the CA organisation in London on its feet. When Gerry Curran left he ran me to the shop, where there were Pat Bond and Jane Tate. It is clear that while they do an immense amount of routine work they are not going to be able to liven up an organisation. It is vital to get over to a younger generation altogether. I went for a meal in the Canton Duck and found Gerry Curran and his nephew there. They accompanied me to Euston. Both Gerry and Dónal Mac Craith gave me copy for the paper.
December 20 Sunday: There was a postal delivery today, bringing copy from John Boyd and a Xmas card from Martin Moriarty. I started on the paper. The very mild spell continues. I rang Nessan Danaher who says this professor fellow Michael Mortimer is looking for a job with in Bradford is the man I thought he was, a somewhat muted nationalist whom he believes to be a “spoiled priest”. I thought the paper I saw of his pretty woeful.
At about 9.15 Greg Quincey rang up to ask me to give a talk on Connolly for his class. I agreed.
December 21 Monday: I went on with the paper and completed four pages. But so far nothing has come from Tony Coughlan or Joe Deighan, though Tony has presumably sent it, Joe possibly not. Pat Bond rang to say a letter from Scotland announced that Donald McIntosh and another wished to join the Connolly Association, and Jane Tate said she had booked the Irish Club for a dinner on February 5th [ie. to mark in London the 40th anniversary of his editorship of the “Irish Democrat”]. I did some notices for the Standing Committee next Saturday week.
December 22 Tuesday: I bought in a lot of food for the long holiday and posted off four pages to the printers. This was the shortest day. In point of weather I would say it was pleasanter than the longest. There was warm sunshine and a temperature well into the fifties. But there was no mail.
December 23 Wednesday: I did some cooking and made paper clippings. Apart from that, very little. I did not go out. Barney Morgan called for a few minutes.
December 24 Thursday: I found I had not bought everything I needed, so went into the city. While there I had a reasonable lunch in the St George’s Hotel, with half a bottle of wine. There was more mail today. Copy arrived from Tony Coughlan, and Flann Campbell told me of the difficulties he is encountering in finding a publisher for his book. And Nessan Danaher sent some papers. But I did very little.
December 25 Friday: I contrived to get through this boring and rubbishy day in some tolerable fashion. I decided to spend the wasteful season on experimental cooking. I can’t say the capon was a powerful success, though it was eatable. I cooked carrots in orange juice. There were some classical items on the radio. Mozart and Haydn are always listenable to. Normally I wouldn’t listen to what could be called “hackneyed” Beethoven. But while finishing a bottle of Retsina I had the fourth piano concerto. It didn’t move me a bit. It is a dreamy semi-romantic thing and I know every phrase, so nothing surprises. The 7th symphony I did enjoy, though I know every phrase of that equally. This is, of course, not the music of the French Revolution. It is the music of the embattled nations whose ruling classes had to call on the workers and peasants to defend them. The skills and traditions of the aristocracy were temporarily handed over to the people. But it is the music of the period of the French Revolution and so that is what it’s all about. After that there was a sonata by Frederick the Great, very interesting but poor stuff, especially when performed alongside Johan Sebastian [ie. Bach]. When it ended I was in the wrong key and thought he’d finished in the sub-dominant. I would guess he had spent too long fooling about in the dominant. But it was an odd mixture of baroque and early classical. There was another I had never heard of, Frantisek Benda [Bohemian violinist and composer, 1709-1786], tolerable but likewise lacking in content, composing in the somewhat odd key of E minor, and keeping it up to the end. It is one of the mysteries of civilisation why D minor inspires everybody and E minor nobody!
December 26 Saturday: I didn’t go out. It was showery and mild, and I didn’t do anything very useful either. I did take a look at my accounts, but apart from that listened to the little of use on the radio and sat by the fire. I have however extended my culinary range, with lamb steamed till it is tender as a jelly, salmon with asparagus sauce. I have bought in too much and have 3 lbs. of brisket and 1lb. of mince (for moussaka) untouched.
December 27 Sunday: I got on well with the paper because I have plenty of spare copy. I should be able to get it off on Tuesday. I spent the morning and evening on it, but in the afternoon listened to the radio. There was a Beethoven concert played on “period instruments”. That is a craze that has grown up over the past few years which has provided opportunities for profitable recording. The first thing I heard was a C major piano concerto, called No.1 but really No. 3. I know it as well as I know the 4th but greatly prefer it. The announcer said the recently constructed foot piano was more equipped for brilliancy than sonority. He was right. At times the soloist seems almost perfunctory and he concluded with an interminable cadenza which omitted nothing but the final trill. They say Beethoven wrote three. It sounded as if he had combined them. At the same time he did bring things out one had not noticed before. I did not know till I heard it today that this was written for a Haydn benefit concert – so much for the bad relations supposed to have existed between Beethoven and Haydn. Partly as a result of this, but also because of the playing, I spotted Haydn quotations. Indeed the opening theme may be one. One thrown in casually in a development section is in the Paukenmesse and the C major quartet (Op.54, No.2), one of my favourites.
[A phrase of musical notation is written here in the manuscript Journal, but the Editor is unable to reproduce it in this electronic edition.]
Of course it is variously decorated. I don’t think I would ever be employed as a musical copyist! But that’s the essence of it.
Then came the Eroica, that I always enjoy. It was a queer performance. Are we to believe there was no cantabile in 1810? Perhaps it was exaggerated in the age of cantilena. But today everything was bustle. Still it was interesting. But I prefer modern instruments, thank you.
December 28 Monday: I spent all day on the paper, from about 11 am. to 10.30 pm. and did three and a half pages, much re-written, even Tony Coughlan’s. I am trying to raise the level. Getting Berresford Ellis was a stroke of luck and both Martin Moriarty and Derek O’Flaherty are turning in copy that is decently written. Tony Coughlan does his in too much of a hurry. His material is good, but I suppose College life produces College writing. I hadn’t room for his main article – on the slump – and that one was signed so it mustn’t be touched. The weather is exceptionally mild and wet. Usually it becomes wintry between December 25th and January 1st. But I heard snow had fallen in Texas. From the pole the tropical air can cross our frontiers on the way to its place. It looks as if the weather pattern of the last few years is breaking up at last.
December 29 Tuesday: I rang up Joe O’Grady in the morning and we agreed to meet at 2 pm., have a drink and make some arrangements. So I went to the bank, which was very quiet as was the whole “city” area. But once I got into Whitechapel the crowds were incredible. “I never saw anything like it,” says Joe O’Grady. Thousands of people buying what they didn’t need on credit cards! In the evening I rang Cathal and Helga. Apparently Beibhin is living with Finula in London but has not gone to Dublin for Christmas but to her boyfriend in Birmingham [These were his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam’s two daughters]. I got the feeling that Cathal was not too pleased. She sent me a Christmas card from London. Very mild today – high fifties.
December 30 Wednesday: I went into the city intending to do some shopping but didn’t the heavens open. I had lunch in the St George’s Hotel at the cost of £20. It was not worth it. The trimmings were good – I ordered a pork entrée which came in an elaborate cream sauce, and the vegetables included spinach and aubergines. But the pork itself was tasteless and had obviously been roasted for Christmas, left over, and heated up. The green beans were likewise frozen. The service was reasonable, and of course the surroundings, with the view on to St George’s plateau, pleasant.
December 31 Thursday: A not very satisfactory day to end a most unsatisfactory year! I fried some aubergines and mince intending to make moussaka, only to find the gas cooker that I can’t have used for ten years was totally jammed up – I presume with rust – and couldn’t be opened. I wanted a new corkscrew and wire-wool to clean a charred pot. I could get none in Birkenhead, so went into the city. There was neither at Lewis’s, but I did get both at Blacklers. I had counted on the moussaka for dinner, but managed with fresh sardines lined with garlic, onion and chilli and fried in plenty of olive oil. Then like last night I felt chilly, and I think my temperature is low and I may be catching cold. Everybody seems to be sneezing. Icy cold weather is unpleasant but it is healthier than this unusual mildness.
Indeed after the above was written worse was to befall. There was a knock at the door and when I opened it there was a boy of about twelve. I recognised a vague resemblance to some gypsy-like people whom I had allowed to cut down some trees for a consideration. They said they had been working across the road and there were a few cut branches on top of their van. They did the job very badly. The woman would perhaps be around forty; there was a daughter possibly fifteen. They said they came from Abergele, but I doubt it as they had no trace of a Welsh accent. Anyway that was that. A few days later the girl came saying that some neighbour had been complaining (to them!) that one of my trees was overshadowing her garden. “Very well,” said I, “let her complain to me.” I presume she was referring to the damson at the back or it might have been sheer luck.
So much for the background. This young imp tonight said, “I’ve come for the rest of the money for doing the garden.” “What money?” “The rest of it.” “There’s no rest.” “Yes there is. I’ve got a witness.” “I never heard such nonsense in my life.” “I’ll get the boys. They’re in the shop.” Off he went. As a precautionary measure I shot the bolt and it was as well I did. I had only time to get through to the police when somebody came back and presumably heard me talking to them. There followed a thunderous kick on the door which might have sprung the lock but for the bolt. The police promised to send somebody. But it was up to an hour later when the police rang. They had come to 24 Mount Road, having misheard the number [He lived at No.124]. Whatever about that, the man in charge told me he would see that his officers kept an eye on Mount Road through the night and advised me on no account to open the door, but if they came to ring 999 without waiting for words. Tony Coughlan rang later on.
January 1 Friday: I got the oven going again, but the moussaka was not a success. I think it was left too long before being cooked. The aubergines were rather tough. But I might pour half a bottle of wine over it and recook it to see if that has any effect. I did however manage a quite passable daube for dinner. It poured rain most of the day, and this is therefore an unusual new year. I got a bit of clearing up and correspondence done. Donald Fletcher in Glasgow had invited the two NALGO officials, Donald McIntosh and Chris Barter, to join the Connolly Association. They agreed so he wrote to me for forms, which I have ready in envelopes to post. I thanked Fletcher and informed Ellen Mitchell. I am told that Somerset NUPE has affiliated to the CA.
January 2 Saturday (London): Despite having a vile cold I caught the 10.35 to London, and on my way to the office called in to Elsie O’Dowling, who is very frail and 92 years old. Bardie Tyrrell is still alive [a close friend of Elsie O’Dowling]. She must be 90 also. We had the Standing Committee in the afternoon, but none of the young people were there, only Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Flann Campbell, John Boyd and Gerry Curran. Stella Bond, in the shop, told me that she and Paddy only narrowly elected to remain in the CPGB.
January 3 Sunday: The cold continued its ravages, though I felt a bit better at night, and got off about 27 circulars I can post tomorrow. The barometer was down to 25 inches again and it was a very windy day and unpleasant, cooler than of late.
I had more interference from Pat Bond yesterday. We agreed to hold an all- London members’ meeting. Martyr Bond moans, “I suppose I’ll have to call it.” “No you won’t,” said I, “I’ll call it.” And I got Derek O’Flaherty to agree to talk on new developments in Dublin. Yesterday he announced that he had persuaded Martin Moriarty to do the circularisation. I told him he was interfering. I am trying to draw these young people into political activity. Pat Bond will drive them away by giving them boring jobs he doesn’t like himself. Anyway I can hardly tell Martin Moriarty not to do it, so I sent him a draft circular, saying I’ll be in London next weekend and if he had any difficulty to let me know. I bet Pat Bond pressurised him.
January 4 Monday: It opened fairly but became an atrocious day. I went to Ripley and took two taxis rather than stand in a leaky bus shelter on windy corners in pouring rain and the perishing cold, with a savage cold on me. I got back at about 8.30 pm. after a reasonable run with the paper and bought myself a bottle of vodka. This is the worst cold I have had for years.
January 5 Tuesday: I felt quite unwell in the morning and even considered going back to bed. But I sat in an armchair with three bars of the electric radiator and dozed on and off, and by midday began to perk up. In the afternoon I went across the road to make some purchases and post some letters. But yesterday when I wanted to ring Ripley the telephone made loud crackling noises. Today it is dead and I can ring nobody. I telephoned British Telecom from across the road but got no more satisfaction than that it would be reported.
January 6 Wednesday: The telephone is still off. I had thought of going into town but felt so tired at midday that I just sat and dozed. But by early evening my normal energy had returned and I wrote a half dozen letters and began to feel hungry. I was glad of this, though I still have phlegm in the throat. I wrote to Joe O’Grady, Jane Tate, Peter Mulligan and Tony Donaghey.
January 7 Thursday: A long letter full of news came from Cathal. Conor is married to an American and living in Rathmines. Egon is married to a French woman and living in Cologne. Finula is a qualified nurse and likely to return to Dublin. Killian is back in Dublin for the time being. Bebhinn has graduated in industrial design and is with Finula in London for the time being likewise. Alisoun [ie. Professor Alan Morton’s daughter Alisoun, who was on a visit to Dublin] was with them but is very sharp and embittered by her ill-health. Helga is on top of the world as ever.
I went to Caergybi and met Tony Coughlan who wanted a microfilm I was unwilling to entrust to the post. We made one or two arrangements for the future. He returned on the boat, I on the train. My cold is still troublesome but seems gradually mending.
January 8 Friday: I’m still not rid of this damned cold. I didn’t feel like the fag of cooking, so went into town for a meal, meanwhile buying a few odd things. Blacklers is to close at the end of March – the only place I could find a decent corkscrew. The telephone is still off, but I am assured that an engineer will be out here by Monday afternoon. John Boyd sent the Standing Committee minutes and I did the envelopes.
January 9 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 10.30 and changed at Crewe, took a taxi to the shop and found Gerry Curran. I asked about Jane Tate. She was in hospital, having had another fall. Which hospital? He didn’t know, so I rang Stella Bond. She was now at home. The accident had not been as serious as previously and may have been due to a failure of the pace-maker that is in her heart. There was a message from Martin Moriarty. He was in bed with influenza (I think they call any feverish cold influenza) but would send out the notices on Monday.
On the way down I saw from the “Morning Star” that Joe Monks has died suddenly [Joe Monks, 1915-1988, a former International Brigader in Spain, had been in the Republican Congress in Dublin in the 1930s]. He is Sean Nolan’s sister’s husband [Sean Nolan managed the CPI bookshop in Dublin for decades]. The first time I met him would be around 1945 when he had started a branch of the Connolly Association in Plymouth – I know I was Secretary at the time and it may have been 1944 even. I remember one of Dooley’s typical little tricks [ie. Pat Dooley,1902-1958, editor of “Irish Freedom”, later “Irish Democrat” in the 1940s. He and Greaves were temperamentally incompatible and had many clashes during that decade]. It was he who had been invited to Plymouth. He replied that he was not free but would “send his secretary,” wording it so as to conceal the fact that I was the General Secretary of the organisation and he was (to the best of my recollection) working as an air-raid warden, with an old man in the office doing the secretarial work for the “Irish Democrat”. The old man, who came from Cramond, used to complain bitterly about Dooley’s constant bullying.
Gerry Curran took about £170, and we decided it was too much to leave in the shop and he took it to Jane Tate. She felt a bit “limp” and I think she was probably still suffering from shock. The people at the hospital had “reduced the setting of the pacemaker from 70 to 40.” I am not sure what this signifies. They had given no reason and had recorded it on their cards but not on hers. She had had some tests but would have others. She has some arthritic condition of the shoulder which requires physiotherapy. “I’m afraid I’m coming to pieces,” she said, “This cataract is galloping.” Yet she talks of going to Joe Monks’s funeral. I think I will go myself. Later Gerry Curran and I had a meal at the “Canton Duck” and I caught the 7.50 back to Liverpool. It is still mild and puts me in mind of 1937 when there was a cold snap behind in December 1936, and the continuous westerly weather till spring.
January 10 Sunday: The day began brilliantly. Here was a chance to dry the log-jam of wet washing, but no; by afternoon it was raining out of the heavens, and cooler, perhaps 48F – still high for January. I got quite a bit done. The cold is steadily clearing. I wrote to Alan Heussaff who had sent me “Carn”[ie. the Celtic League magazine]. I have asked the Celtic League to support the conference on “Irish Studies”. But everything is held up through lack of a telephone. I did not go out.
January 11 Monday: The weather was sunny and not too cold – the day would not have disgraced late October, though it became more cloudy in the afternoon. My spectacles broke on Saturday. I took them down to Gartshore who mended them free of charge. But this wasted the morning. In the afternoon the telephone engineer mended the telephone, which has been out of action for a week. An outside wire had broken, my guess is in the recent high winds. So there was not much done.
January 12 Tuesday: Though it was dry and quite mild I didn’t go out. But I got quite a bit done – clearing up and writing letters. Joe O’Grady rang and told me John McClelland and his wife were coming from Belfast on the 25th [ie. for the dinner to mark his forty years as “Irish Democrat” editor. John McClelland had been a leading member of the CA in Liverpool in the 1960s and 1970s before he returned to his native Belfast with his wife Margaret. He was of Protestant background]. Then Alan Morton rang to say he was not coming as his sister was unwell. This greatly disappointed Joe O’Grady, and indeed it will sadly detract from the event. Taunton had telephoned him demanding a vegetarian menu and Joe asked whether we’re prepared to pay extra for it.
A letter came from Peter Mulligan. He has been ringing again and again and as he was getting the ringing tone presumed I was not answering or out. I had asked him about a conference in Northampton. He suggested Leicester, but first I was a little doubtful, but after looking at the map I thought there might be something in it.
January 13 Wednesday: I went to the Liverpool CA branch meeting in the evening. Those present included Michael Mortimer, Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady and Pat Doherty, plus four new members, young Henderson, one of Alan Morton 2’s students, and his girlfriend, and one or two women pushing up to the forty mark, one from Dublin. Joe Deighan, who would have liked to come to the dinner, is not free on Mondays but sent £100 for the paper. The Dublin woman was of Fianna Fail background and very disgusted at Haughey’s capitulation [ie. presumably Haughey’s acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Agreement following Fianna Fail’s replacement of the FitzGerald-Spring Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government in February 1987]. Martin Moriarty and O’Keefe sent apologies. But Liverpool seems to be taking off – there are about 25 members.
January 14 Thursday: I went to the hospital in the morning. Once more it was a different specialist. I have not had the same one twice. This time he did not even measure the pressure, but peeked through the ophthalmoscope in blue light, and said, “Your eyes are fine. Come again in six months.” So I presume that is a good sign. No speedy deterioration is anticipated. Even so, fine or not, there are still phosphenes in the right eye, not of course anything like they were before the disease was treated.
January 15 Friday: The mild weather continues but the weather map displays an ugly anti-cyclone East of Greenland. Still it has been the best January in years, so far, putting me in mind of the 1930’s. I went into town and met Joe O’Grady at the Bradford. Jane Tate rang up to give me an account of Joe Monks’s funeral. It seems both Sean Nolan and Michael O’Riordan were there and Jane Tate was invited to the house. Bill Alexander made a speech [Bill Alexander, 1910-2000, Vice-Chairman of the International Brigade Association; writer on the Spanish civil war; CPGB member].
January 16 Saturday (London): At about 9 am. John Boyd rang up. Was I going to London today? I had intended to but Jane Tate put me off, saying nobody ever came in on Saturday. But John wanted to discuss his manifesto against the EEC. I told him I was dubious of it. What was needed was an organisation that could issue a manifesto. He said nobody would lift a finger because they thought it was no use. Colman has gone over completely and John thinks he is a ruling class “plant” [John Colman had been an early critic of the EEC and wrote a pamphlet on it]. As for the rest, I didn’t go out but got a great deal of clearing up done, the cold having substantially taken its leave at the proper time, fourteen days after it started.
January 17 Sunday: About lunch Joe Deighan telephoned. He was very dissatisfied with the position in Belfast. Apparently Kevin McCorry has not supported the civil rights committee they started with John McClelland and Bobby Heatley. He is concentrating on his business as a solicitor. As for the Adams-Hume talks he thinks the initiative has come from Haughey following his abandonment of the national cause. He thinks there will be a fresh split in the Republican ranks this year, possibly with Adams breaking away from the IRA. I remarked that a split is always the sign of an unsolved problem. Neither constitutional nor unconstitutional action have achieved anything, so the advocates of each go their own way. The same principle caused the trouble here. The Russians got up to things the western communist parties could not countenance without isolating themselves. Some said the main thing is not to isolate ourselves. Others were prepared to take that risk rather than omit to do their international duty as they saw it. I remember telling Philip Rendle how to get out of it. It was to round on the British Government whenever the Soviets were thought to have misbehaved and say, “There you are now. That’s your fault. Look what you’ve made them do!” The Irish of course were more easily persuaded than Rendle that it was all the fault of the British.
I listened to what I think is my favourite Mozart quartet on the radio in the afternoon. It was a recording of the Endellion quartet and was interesting. They chose slower tempi than are usual but brought out the inner parts most effectively. This was the D major K575 with its ingenious cello part.
Later on I spoke to Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan. They have got 61 tickets sold for the dinner next Monday week. I wrote to Doswell and Quincey. Indeed I got quite a bit done today. The weather was wet and reasonably mild – and it’s only just over three weeks to the temperature solstice.
January 18 Monday: I went into the city and met Joe O’Grady at the bank. He told me that about 64 have booked for the hot-pot supper.
January 19 Tuesday: It was colder today, though bright and with a Southwest wind. Pat Bond rang in the morning and Paddy Clancy had died [Clancy had been CA General Secretary for a period in the 1940s], and Josie is in a bad state as he had had some nasty operations. He did not know when the funeral was but would tell me. I wrote to Josie saying I would try to attend. There were more condolences too. Josephine Logan’s father had died just before Christmas. Clancy was General Secretary of the C.A. for a part of the war period. He was a poor organiser and was not able to hold it together. He was brought up on a small farm near Manorhamilton in Co. Leitrim and told me that he never had shoes on his feet till he was over 15. He used to see Lissadell from the mountain side and ask why the Gore-Booths were rich and his family was poor. “It’s God’s will,” was his mother’s reply. He joined the IRA when he was old enough and did counterintelligence, noting the numbers of all police cars. It was probably the time of the Republican Congress that Mary MacSwiney came to lecture them on the evils of politics.
At lunchtime Paul Gilhooley telephoned, saying he intended to come to tomorrow’s meeting. I was going to put one of the youngsters in the chair but will smell out the ground. Paul might be learning sense, but it is just as likely that he has cooked up some diversion.
January 20 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I rang Jane Tate in the morning. She said she had prised the time of Paddy Clancy’s funeral out of Pat Bond by dint of cross-examination. It is on Monday. I will try to go. I took the 1.15 train, had a meal, then called on Jane Tate. She was giving out about Pat Bond’s secretiveness. Her notion is to get an organiser to counter his “Empire building”, but I don’t see it that way. An organiser would surely be another couple of hands under his control and he would have the same effect as he had on Paul Gilhooley. We held a London meeting, but it was disappointingly attended. I got Michael Brennan in the chair. He did quite well. And though he arrived late because of a tube hold-up, Derek O’Flaherty was not too bad. So I had a platform occupied by two people under 26. Charlie Cunningham was there and said the trouble with Paul Gilhooley was drink. I can believe it. He turned up but was very subdued. Martin Moriarty was also there, and Flann Campbell. We decided on an All-London meeting every two months. And Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue were there, and several other young people. So it was by no means hopeless. Derek O’Flaherty will do what he can in Brent. But he flatly denies Dónal Mac Craith’s allegation that he tore up a leaflet because it was too Republican. I thought it would not be in character. I got a sleeper back.
January 21 Thursday: Paddy Clancy’s funeral is at 1.30, so I can’t go as Tony Coughlan will be arriving at 4 pm. If it had been 11.30 I might have managed it. I didn’t get much done. I did not sleep too well. Later I booked John McGurk for a talk on Sarsfield and Peter Berresford Ellis agreed to February 28th.
January 22 Friday: I got up at 8.30 and looking through the window saw a shocking sight – snow. Fortunately it had melted by mid-morning and I went into Birkenhead. It was a frustrating journey. Hardly had I reached Whetstone Lane when I remembered I had forgotten to turn off the gas under a pot. I reckoned I had twenty minutes before it would dry and burn. I seldom had to wait so long for a bus. I reached 124 Mount Road well after a half-hour and found a charred mess.
January 23 Saturday: It was pouring rain when I got up. Then there were snowflakes in it and a strong East wind. But it turned to rain again, the wind turned westerly – backed I think, as the clearance came from North-Northwest. But it soon backed much further and it grew reasonably mild. That is all a very good sign. I did three pages of the paper in two hours, something of a record, and spoke to Gerry Curran on the telephone.
January 24 Sunday: I spent most of the day on the paper. Nothing happened and I did not go out. Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear arrived at 4 pm.
January 25 Monday: Tony took Muriel to the Bradford last night but stayed here himself. I could have accommodated her if I had had warning. Today we collected her at the Bradford, after which we did a virtual pub crawl, interrupted by lunch at the Ashoka in Bold Street. After further refreshment we went to the Bradford where there was a dinner to celebrate my forty years as Editor of the “Democrat.” There were about 90 people there, including John McClelland who had been in Manchester and his wife, John Gibson, Veronica Gibson, the Finnertys, Kneafsey, Alan Morton 2, John McGurk, Pat Doherty, Michael Mortimer, Barney Morgan and many more. Tony and John McClelland said a few words, to which I responded suitably. John told me that he has glaucoma, but only has to instil drops twice a day. He says he was bending down when his eyes blacked out. After that sometimes he would go blind for a couple of minutes, then recover his sight. Anyway he is on the ubiquitous steroids, which cure nothing but keep you going. Brian Stowell was in the chair. The three Regan brothers provided entertainment and the evening was pronounced a powerful success. Barney Morgan, who has a new mot, brought us back in his land-rover.
January 26 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear set off for Holyhead. He left behind him three copies of his history of the Connolly Association which I never expected him to complete but which he has done. I asked Lawrence & Wishart would they be prepared to publish it. Skelly never answers my letters now, and his secretary sent a very formal and distant letter to the effect that while not abandoning history they would be concentrating on current affairs in the future. They have been sucked into that Polytechnic of Ulster crowd’s marsh. Michael Morrissey’s wife was in Chicago lobbying against the MacBride principles and Sean Redmond is furious and is complaining to Michael O’Riordan [Michael Morrissey was in the CPI in Belfast]. Lawrence & Wishart has published the rubbish of Bew and Patterson [This may be a reference to the book by Paul Bew and Henry Patterson, “The Dynamics of Irish Politics”, published by Lawrence and Wishart in 1989 following Greaves’s death and which he possibly may have heard about in advance]. I went on with the paper.
January 27 Wednesday: In the morning Joe O’Grady rang up. Pat Bond had rung him to ask him to ring me to say the Birmingham Six verdict would be given tomorrow and prospects were not good. I’ve known that for weeks and have arranged alternative leads with the printer. But an hour later he rings me up to say the same. He seems to think everybody but himself is a fool. “I’m thinking about the February paper,” he begins. “Well, I’ve thought of that,” I replied. He interferes in everybody’s work and as often as not keeps the interference strictly secret.
I forgot to record Tuesday evening that I gave a talk to Greg Quincey’s Irish History class. They were about 20 in number, but for two people I had never seen before, and only one markedly young one who proved to be the man whom Barney Morgan drives around to make a “documentary” film of the Irish in Liverpool. I do not understand how this links with the WEA. The Irish Centre seems to have given Quincey photocopying facilities and Tom Walsh was there. A number of extra people arrived and there was no effort to enrol them. Joe O’Grady came later and Quincey told him he was holding meetings on Sunday afternoons, which could easily have clashed with ours. I suspect a political motive, but Joe says, “Ach, he’s trying to make a few bob.”
January 28 Thursday: In the morning Paul Gilhooley rang saying he was at the Old Bailey and would telephone the result of the Birmingham Six appeal, which he did. I have held two pages of the paper, which I will finish tomorrow. At long last I confirmed that Nessan Danaher is coming on Sunday.
January 29 Friday: My barometer registered 28.95 all day but began to rise very slowly late at night and struggled up to 29.00. But there was next to no wind. Now in the thirties I remember two low readings: 28.30 and 28.10. However aneroids gradually take in air and the weather map gives 976 millibars, which is 28.79. So it is not very far out. I had a call from Pat Bond who seems in a cheerful mood; also Jane Tate. I got hold of Kneafsey about the Liverpool conference and finished the paper and also arranged the printing of the new membership application form in green and brown. There is no doubt that the Birmingham Six appeal has aroused enormous interest. Kneafsey was watching a mock-up of the trial on television. I tried to get Barney Morgan but I think he is away absorbing Welsh culture at the Sportsman’s Arms!
January 30 Saturday: There was nothing of importance today, though I did a bit of clearing up.
January 31 Sunday: I spent the morning and early afternoon clearing up, and then went to the Irish Centre. There were 19 people at Nessan Danaher’s lecture, including Quincey, Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan, John McGurk, Michael Mortimer, but not Pat Doherty. Several of Quincey’s class were there and he expressed his willingness to join the Connolly Association but said he couldn’t do much. Brian Stowell told me he was on the right side [Brian Stowell, 1937-2019, was an authority on the Manx language and culture, active in the Celtic League and the Connolly Association, who had a lecturing appointment in Liverpool at this time].
There was more discussion than usual; indeed there was controversy. Nessan Danaher’s heart is in the right place but his whole approach is coloured by his own upbringing in an intensely Irish home atmosphere in London. So very little time was devoted to an objective examination of “Irish Studies” and the reasons why the ruling class are anxious to promote them. I would be pretty sure he has no deep grasp of the realities of the class struggle. “Get the grants flowing in” is his philosophy, and if there is money moving in the right direction all is fair enough. He is in everything – a practising Catholic, member of Comhaltas and the GAA. I would think him in his middle or late thirties. From what I heard, his conferences in Leicester were mostly concerned with the “identity” problems of second-generation Irish people. There is no understanding that the rock to stand on is internationalism. So you had people like John McGurk who were Irish and couldn’t help being it, and people like Barney Morgan who needn’t be but wanted to be, and Michael Mortimer, who didn’t want to be wholly Irish but wanted to be a bit Irish. So all in all it was quite lively and amusing, although in sum it didn’t amount to much.
February 1 Monday: I went into the city for lunch, and later had dinner at a quite reasonable Chinese restaurant in Argyle Street. There I met Kneafsey to discuss the conference on February 27 [ie. a Liverpool conference on the Irish question]. This was satisfying. It seems Kneafsey, who must be about 28, joined the YCL when he was 16, and because it was so small met everybody and these included Martin Moriarty and later Paul Gilhooley. He, he says, is too fond of the “ale house” and that is of course what did for him. The barometer was down to 28.80. Surely there’ll be a reasonable summer after this.
February 2 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. It was a wild showery day and I took a train each way. The proofreading went smoothly enough. Tony Coughlan sent me a photocopy of a review by Roy Johnston of Mrs Metscher’s book [probably Dr Priscilla Metscher’s “Republicanism and Socialism in Ireland”]. I am always surprised at the sublime confidence with which Roy handles subjects he really doesn’t know much about.
February 3 Wednesday: A bombshell landed on the mat today, sent by Pat O’Donohue whose note said that Pat Bond had told him he and I had attended to it. But it was the first I heard of it. The DHSS [ie. the Department of Health and Social Security] is proposing to investigate Pat Bond for unemployment tax fraud. To make matters worse the enquiry is almost a month old and contains an enquiry as to whether during the time we paid a salary for, he worked on Sundays! I wrote to him advising him to get in touch with solicitors and accountants and not to delay. The irony is that they are gunning for him because of his honesty in disclosing the payment he got from us. I also wrote to Pat O’Donohue complaining that I was not informed earlier. I am extremely disturbed by this turn of events.
A letter came from Joe Deighan. It seems that the CPI held a special meeting of the National Executive Committee last September to which he was invited. It was agreed to give unconditional support to the “MacBride Principles” [This was a code of conduct for US companies doing business in Northern Ireland, in which they pledged to avoid discriminatory employment practices etc.]. But already Hazel Morrissey, Michael Morrissey’s English wife, had been booked to go to the USA and speak against these. This was a fait accompli. She went there as an employee of the ATGWU. Every effort was made to get her off the delegation. Michael O’Riordan went specially from Dublin and went to see Freeman [a senior ATGWU official in Belfast]. But, says Joe Deighan, “the neo-Orangeman was adamant and I hear did a bit of ranting and raving about outside interference.” She went as an employee of Freeman.
Then Declan Bree wrote saying he had given me the wrong date for the Gralton seminar and it was 7/8 May not 16/7. I had scheduled myself a holiday covering that weekend, and since I didn’t get away at all last year, and expect this summer to be reasonably good, I did what I don’t think I ever did before – declined to cancel my holiday and wrote crying off and suggesting Tony Coughlan.
I have been thinking more about Pat Bond. There is a reference to correspondence. He has shown me none of it. But he did say on one occasion that the DHSS were disputing money paid to him. Of course the fraud thing could be a “frightener”. Also Pat O’Donohue’s talk of my having dealt with it may be a way of getting it off his own desk. I can’t think of two worse people to be in a jam with. God knows what Pat Bond has written to them. I’m completely in the dark. I don’t know what they wanted of him. But probably having this on his mind throws some light on the odd behaviour that both I and Jane Tate have noticed. What I must find out is whether he sent it to Pat O’Donohue who sat on it (quite possible) or was himself mesmerised by it.
February 4 Thursday: I wrote to Pat Bond and Pat O’Donohue yesterday, and this morning rang Bond at home. I never heard anything like it in my life. He flatly refused to see a solicitor – he didn’t know one. I suggested Gaster. “I don’t know his address.” I told him – 1 Antrim Road. It was too far away. He just would not take the matter seriously. I wonder if he is drawing unemployment benefit now. He spoke as if this was a personal thing, nothing to do with the Association. I think I’ll take a trip up to Gaster’s myself. It was like dealing with a stubborn child.
I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady in the Shaftesbury and we made some arrangements.
The DHSS [ie. Department of Health and Social Security] gave the date 31/10/85. I decided to look it up in my diary and find an account of a meeting on November 1st. There it was reported that the GLC [ie. the Greater London Council, which had given a grant to the CA towards the cost of bookshop salaries] would not pay from October 1st but were prepared to backdate to April.
February 5 Friday (London): A day of intense activity. John Boyd met me at Euston and we discussed starting a campaign against the EEC. He thinks that people dislike it but can see no way out. We have to find a way that goes forward out of it, not backward. The Labour Party are drawing up a policy based on total slavish capitulation.
I then took a taxi to 244 Grays Inn Road and saw Pat Bond. I asked him to come and see a solicitor. He made objections of the usual kind. He didn’t know one. Couldn’t he get a short notice. I dialled Gaster, told him I wanted to see him and he said jump in a taxi and come up. But Pat Bond would not come. Maire was there and we discussed the “affair”. Finally he drafted me a letter to send. He doesn’t think fraud will stick as Pat Bond had been receiving no money. But it is not going to be easy, and he is so stubborn and wayward. He does just whatever he feels like. There had been previous correspondence. I saw it today!
I then went to Jane Tate’s and we went to the Irish Club for the London celebration of my 40 years’ editorship. Pat Bond was in the chair. They presented me with an inscribed book, and Cal O’Herlihy with another, a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of gin! [Corkman Cal O’Herlihy, a friend of Anthony Coughlan from their student days at UCC, had been active in the CA in 1957-1959]. Among those present were Robbie Rossiter, Bebhinn and Finula – who said Cathal [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] was to have come but faced with a huge telephone bill decided he couldn’t. Peter Walsh was there, Flann Campbell, Ken Keable played an accordion. There was Bob Doyle and Derek O’Flaherty, but no Martin Moriarty, who belongs to a left group – Leninist is it? – and is not popular with Chater. Eamon MacLaughlin and Barbara were there, Tom Leonard [an activist in the NUR who had proposed resolutions on Ireland at successive annual conferences], Bill Burke – about 60 in all [Bill Burke was a CA member from the 1940s].
February 6 Saturday (Liverpool): I read Gaster’s letter over the phone to Pat Bond and he accepted it. He told me he still signed on at the DHSS. I said in heaven’s name why? So as to get his old age pension. I went to Northampton and lunched with Peter Mulligan and Goley. She worked for the DHSS – may do still – and thinks this old age pension business is all nonsense, and that Pat Bond has been incredibly maladroit. We thought the best change to make would be to employ him and pay for the stamps. I wonder if I’ll be able to get him to Gasters? Incidentally, I asked him yesterday why he had sent the DHSS letter to Pat O’Donohue and not to me. He replied, “Mental aberration”. And here’s what you’re dealing with. I asked why the long delay. “Well, you know what a stubborn fellow Pat is.” He’s taken no action.
February 7 Sunday: I stayed in – it was pouring out of the heavens by afternoon – and did very little. I’ve been reading Tony Benn’s diaries. He comes out pretty well. I wrote some letters. John Boyd is writing against the EEC in the “New Worker”[ie. the organ of the New Communist Party]. The CP will not like it but he says he doesn’t care whether they do or they don’t. I wrote congratulating him. I spoke to Stella Bond. I blamed Pat O’Donohue for not sending the DHSS letter. She told me it wasn’t his fault but Pat Bond’s, who just shoved it in a pigeonhole and forgot it till she rescued it. I must send off the reply tomorrow.
Troubles seem endless since 1984 went out. I was reading my record of 1985: Noel Gordon’s collapse, the death of Toni Curran, the quarrel with Bob Wynn, the first sign of Jane Tate’s heart trouble, the temporary loss of the Connolly Publications books, then by the end of the year the disillusionment with Paul Gilhooley once his probationary period was over. Next year he became unsatisfactory, but we couldn’t sack him when his mother had cancer. Later there was Jane Tate’s fall that put her out of commission for the best part of a year. In 1987 my glaucoma, Maggie Byrne’s death, now the trouble over Pat Bond’s work. And to cap it all, I tripped on the stairs last night. I did not feel anything much, was going to bed, was not drunk but had drink taken and was worried about Paddy Bond. I think it is only bruising but as today wore on, I felt pain when I stood up after sitting. It is strange there was hardly any pain this morning. See if a night’s sleep has any effect. I don’t think a bone’s broken because there is no pain when I am still. I have to go the Health Centre tomorrow for more steroids for the eyes, so if it was worse I can see a doctor. I hope it won’t be as I have Pat Bond’s letter to write and conference material to get out. I don’t want a spell in hospital. I am not absolutely sure that I didn’t “black out”. So sometime I must get the ticker tested.
February 8 Monday: I felt better this morning and wrote to the DHSS. But reading through the correspondence I strongly suspected that Pat Bond has made a hopeless mess of it and tried to mislead the DHSS in order to get benefit. And he consulted nobody. We’ll be lucky if he doesn’t get us all into the shit. He will take no advice and listen to nothing. There are one or two areas of hope however. He climbed down from the description of himself as “consultant”. At lunchtime Stella Bond rang. Jack Gaster had discovered a piece of paper which had dropped out of his file. This altered the situation and he asked that the despatch of my letter should be delayed. Gaster is calling in to the office this afternoon. This means the matter is serious. Jane Tate rang saying Stella Bond had been present when Gaster arrived. “Did he persuade her of the seriousness of the matter?” “Well, she didn’t look pleased.” At 6.30 Stella rang up, fear agitating her voice. Would I ring Gaster? Jane Tate remarked to me that Pat Bond wouldn’t go to Gasters with me because he was afraid. But I’m not going to give reasons for actions I never authorised. Peter Mulligan and I discussed the possibility of his withdrawing his claim and our paying him. I got Gaster and he said the new document disclosed different dates. He didn’t think it was necessary to go to London, but I said I preferred it. I went through my 1985 diary to be sure of the chronology.
I wrote to Tony Benn about the need for a distinct anti-EEC policy for the Labour Party, and also something along the same lines to George Davies, who is in touch with John Boyd, to whom I also wrote.
February 9 Tuesday: I spent several hours on the chronology, then rang Pat Bond to say I would not be in London today and could not see Gaster till Friday. His amazing comment – pettishly expressed – was, “Your business with Gaster is dragging on.” And we trying to get him out of the shit while keeping ourselves out if it! Already he has mentally unshipped responsibility and it is clear that when the DHSS letter came he thrust it in Pat O’Donohue’s pigeon hole and stuck his head in the sand. He said that George Davies had rung up looking for me. I rang Davies. He said the Northwest TUC were willing to dispatch 180 notices for our conference but needed them on Thursday. Where was the HQ of the northwest TUC? In Liverpool. I rang Joe O’Grady who said he knew the building, in Bootle. After some hesitation as a result of the atrocious weather – blowing great guns with the glass at 28.95 – he agreed to meet me in town this evening. I said I would photostat the circulars. But he rang again and said if I could bring him one copy he could get it done cheaply at NUPE. George Davies had also told me that he is helping John Boyd to start a “British Sovereignty movement”, one of the proposals I put to himself and Benn.
I went into the city in the evening and had a talk with Joe O’Grady, who took the draft and gave me some material of his own.
February 10 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I took the 10.30 to London and arrived a few minutes late because of the wild weather and took a taxi to the bookshop. Pat Bond was not there. At first I thought he was avoiding me, but he came in. Moreover he was in a different mood. There was no more of the “I can’t be bothered about this.” I explained to him how when I went through the papers given me on Friday last I was aghast at the claims he had made, and though we should try to avoid it, I considered a prosecution quite possible, and if it came he could be fined a thousand pounds and we would have to pay it for him. I think he should withdraw his claim and chance the dice. It will be necessary to do it through a solicitor. Even now I could not get him to understand that as a director, if he was claiming any status in the company and that status changes, he was under an obligation to inform his co-directors. He first claimed to be a consultant. Then he claimed to be a part-time employee. And all the time he is circulating literature describing himself as manager of the bookshop. And of course I have legal duties as company secretary, which is to see everything is regular. I never saw such a mess. I told him it was difficult for me to discuss things with him, as I doubt if you could find two people with such totally different temperaments. I didn’t know what made him tick, but I fired a shot as a venture and said, “I think you are a romantic,” He said, “Yes.” So that’s it.
There was trouble getting to London and more getting back. The standard fare from Liverpool to London is £57. As a pensioner with a railcard I can do it for £38. But I normally travel on a “saver” for £12.55. These can not be used in the afternoon, but the restriction does not apply to the Dover trains that hit London at Kensington. I enquired at Liverpool enquiries office whether I could join at Watford. They said I could. But checking this at Euston I was told I could not. I went to the manager’s office. There were two other people saying Liverpool had told them they could travel on the 3.50. The manager rang Liverpool, who denied it. I left them arguing. I bought a single ticket for Watford for £1.40, and got on the Dover train there, and nobody could say I had not boarded at Kensington. I wondered that other people had not thought of that. The train dragged its way through Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but I got to the Liverpool branch meeting by 7.50. There were eleven people there, but Michael Mortimer was as unsatisfactory as ever, and the genial Barney was the worst chairman ever seen.
February 11 Thursday: I was thinking (as usual) about Pat Bond’s nonsense. He got pay from the GLC for working about two days a week. This is retrospective and we made him pay back all his unemployment benefit. He thus recognises he is not entitled to it. After the money runs out he tries to get pay for doing something he agreed he couldn’t draw pay for. For they don’t believe he is getting no money. And he is breaking the regulations in other ways.
I went to St. Helens to speak at the Trade Council on Kneafsey’s resolution. It was one of the most successful I have ever addressed. The papers sold out and it was agreed to affiliate to the Connolly Association and send delegates to the conference. The Birkenhead CP asked me to be the guest of honour at their St. Patrick’s Day social. I agreed. Kneafsey told me that the Communist Campaign Group are going to launch another CPGB on the old rules in April or May. I agree with him it is nonsense, though some very good people are on it. Of the NCP he said he was attracted by them some years ago, but subsequently decided that their main object was to secure international recognition from Socialist countries. I think he even included George Davies in this stricture, though he at least is interested in building up mass movements.
February 12 Friday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the third and, I hope, last of the trips regarding Paddy Bond’s position. I proposed the simple solution that we pay him a wage and national insurance. He seemed mightily pleased at this, and we went to see Gaster by taxi. Gaster drafted a letter for me to send and I will type it over the weekend. Things were in better order than I had feared, but Pat Bond who was obliged to notify them even if he did unpaid work, had failed to do so. He thought they might be “after” him because of this. Gaster said, “There’s nothing they can do about it.” I thought he might now be on top of the world, but he wasn’t. I had thoroughly scared him up on Wednesday, and the whole exercise will have cost us £100 and more, which I am going to charge to Connolly Publications.
We fell to talking about the CP. I said I was remaining in the old one. Gaster said so was he. He thought the expulsions an outrage and the line of policy wrong. But this plan to “re-establish” the CP in April or May will prove a fiasco, as they’ve no leadership and they want to “re-establish” on the basis of an out-of-date policy. Of course my opinion is that there never could be a “British Road to Socialism” when the country is imperialist and bound by all manner of international connections. There might be means by which socialism might be attained, but they would demand a substantial international element, so that no blueprint could be drawn up.
I had a wild journey today. First an accident delayed the bus, but I reached Lime Street on time for the 9.20. The place was swarming with policemen and the train transferred from Platform 8 to number 6. Before we left a very ornamental train drew into Platform 9 from which all the public had been cleared. But nobody got off. “Probably some VIP,” said the man next to me, “going back to London. Possibly Princess Anne, she jazzes all over the place.” Coming back was nearly as bad. We were ringing Jane Tate and getting no reply and Pat Bond had been ringing her for two days. We wondered if she had had a heart attack and called. I called twice and found her safe and well at 4.30. This delayed me and rather than risk the overcrowded Liverpool train I took the Carlisle express and changed at Crewe. So it was a long day and I was quite tired. This account omits minor embarrassments.
One final comment on Pat Bond. He didn’t even say thank you. He is totally absorbed in himself. And that is precisely romanticism – not the world but the world in relation to himself.
February 13 Saturday: I didn’t sleep powerfully, and when I got up I thought the bruised ribs that had been easing for days were more sore. I wrote some letters in the morning but slept in an armchair all afternoon. I didn’t feel like doing much and spent the evening reading Tony Benn’s diary, with an odd nip of liqueur whiskey one of the boys had given me. The result was the ribs seemed to improve.
February 14 Sunday: A bad day. I woke with a stiff neck that did not improve as the day went on. I wrote a few envelopes for the conference but ran out of supplies. For the rest I went on with Tony Benn’s diary and nothing more brilliantly illustrates why the Chinese ambassador was right when he said, “Britain is not ripe for socialism. There is a vast feudal superstructure.” I was impressed by his recording how he was sent a side of venison from one of the royal parks. Few ministers could withstand this kind of bribery. For the rest I rang Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan saying I could not come to the lecture tonight. Sign of the times. When did I ever cry off anything on grounds of health? Old age! It happens to everybody and my body no longer has the resilience to throw things off quickly.
February 15 Monday: Another bad day. I posted off the reply on Pat Bond’s behalf for the DoE [ie. Department of Employment]. But I had to walk to the Post Office as I doubted my capacity to get on a bus safely. I dropped a 10p. piece and dared not attempt to pick it up. But I bought a rubber hot water bottle and sat resting with this draped like an albatross round my neck all evening as I listened to Gluck on the radio, and I thought things improved to some degree. Joe O’Grady rang up to ask how I was and to say McGurk’s lecture was a huge success, with about 25 present and a collection of £15. Pádraig Ó Snodaigh [ie. Oliver Snoddy] also rang. The Terence MacSwiney lectures, no longer funded by the GLC, are not reprinting his talk and he wondered if we could. I told him I doubted it.
February 16 Tuesday: I felt a trifle better today, though the neck is still stiff. I sent off about 50 circulars for the conference on Saturday week. I had a letter from Declan Bree regarding the Gralton seminar, and Tony Coughlan sent me Joe Donnelly’s life of his brother and collected poems. They were good for a boy under twenty-two. It was cooler today – about 45F at most – but there was a smell of late winter, a complete absence of scent. All the old foliage has oxidised.
February 17 Wednesday: I had a rest last evening and I suppose the best night yet. But constipation appeared and I decided to clear up all I could for fear I have to go to the doctor. The neck was easier and by midday I had that indefinable feeling that I might be improving. Anyway, I got out the last of the invitations. This is Michael Mortimer’s job that he doesn’t do. I heard from Declan Bree about Gralton [ie. the Gralton Summer School in Co. Leitrim, commemorating the communist republican activist James Gralton who had been expelled from Ireland in 1933; commemorated in Ken Loach’s film, “Jimmy’s Hall”, 2014], and from Peter Mulligan who is not coming on Sunday. I wrote him a protest about that. I got no response from Benn about the SEA and EEC, so as John Boyd said, he’s not interested.
At about 1.30 pm. Barney Morgan called in to see how I was. I told him I thought I was improving slightly and he took to the post the 16 letters I had written in the morning. The impression of improvement grew during the day and I did some more heat treatment. But it is very slow and I have to go to London on Saturday.
While I was toasting my back I listened to Sacchini’s “l’Isola d’Amore” and found it pleasant but not overcharged with musical content [Antonio Sacchini,1709-1786, who composed many operas. This was a two-act comic opera]. There was not a single number in the minor mode. There was the most restricted tonic and dominant harmony, and the airs just went to the dominant and came back. There was seldom a second subject, least of all a development section. But there was no trace of Baroque such as you get in Gluck. This all highlights unappreciated and neglected Joseph Haydn as the founder of classical music.
February 18 Thursday: Again I was better and had a sense of really being on the mend. I may have done too much, but I wrote to Jane Tate and John Boyd and went to the bank to get money for Saturday. In the evening Peter Mulligan rang. I had made the point that we’ll never get the young people to take the E.C. seriously if the seniors stay away, and I had gently reminded him that Jane and I will not last for ever. I am 74. She is 72. He told me he was completely convinced by my argument and had put off his engagement with Comhaltas. What an adult capable person Peter is. No messing. Just imagine the martyr moans that would come out of Pat Bond.
February 19 Friday: I had another reasonable night, but I’m far from right. The stiffness of the neck is less but slow to mend. A letter came from Pat Bond in which he says he is proposing to register as self-employed. It will cost £3.80 a week. And we have had all this hassle for that trifling sum. I was thinking about Jung’s classification, which of course I think is nonsense. Could there possibly be such a thing as an “introvert”? Well, I didn’t think so till I saw Pat Bond in operation. What influences his instincts is not reality but its emotional impact on himself. And he doesn’t try to bring himself into conformity with reality. I was thinking to myself, I have written no poems expressing any internal emotions. Why? Because I presume they are the same as those of everybody else given similar circumstances. But Ewart Milne didn’t regard himself as part of the universe; the universe was part of his consciousness, notwithstanding that it outlasted it. This may explain Pat Bond’s vociferous distress whenever anything goes wrong, which it does all the time. I very much doubt he enjoys his life. But of course people are said to have enjoyed banging their heads against a wall.
Alan Heussaff also wrote. He said “Diwan” was in danger of folding-up. I got £380 in royalties this morning, so I sent him £20 to pass on to them. Barney Morgan called at midday and offered to get anything I wanted for me and gave a special number at the hospital where I could be sure to get him. I was feeling a bit fed up at the time. But as the day wore on I perked up and by late evening I had a sense of returning normality, though the neck is not yet completely free.
February 20 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 9.50 to Euston and called to Jane Tate; we went for lunch and then to the meeting. Josephine Logan, Ellen MitchelI, Michael Crowe and Joe O’Grady were unable to travel. Pat Bond was in Leicester. So the provinces were represented only by Peter Mulligan and myself. The others present were Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Derek O’Flaherty, Martin Moriarty, Flann Campbell and John Boyd. It was quite a useful meeting. John Boyd had made something of a breakthrough at the non-alignment conference in Manchester, and I had got a somewhat belated favourable response from Benn. Derek O’Flaherty had made plans to get the Brent branch re-started and Martin Moriarty undertook to call the London meeting. The trouble with Martin is that he is in too many things. I came back on the 7.50, after a brief word about Pat Bond with Pat O’Donohue.
Friday 21 Sunday: I stayed in all day and worked on the paper. The health continued to improve.
February 22 Monday: I went on with the paper and was in touch with Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Barney Morgan and Michael Mortimer. I got three pages off.
February 23 Tuesday: I went on with the paper. Barney Morgan called in the morning and was glad to see me restored to near normal. I spoke to Peter Berresford Ellis and Sean Redmond. I’m not too hopeful about Saturday.
February 24 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 9.20 to Euston and lunched with Jane Tate. Then I went to see Pat Bond and had no difficulty in persuading him to accept a part-time salary and discuss all issues with our accountant, and now the only thing is getting it past Pat O’Donohue. He doesn’t like the idea of Pat Bond donating to us cash that he has paid tax on. But I regard it as the price of freedom.
Later Paul May of the Birmingham Six came in to see me and we had a useful talk and later a drink. He was the victim of a CPGB branch closure and was a member of nothing. He knows the Mulready family. It seems that Sean [ie. Sean Mulready] died about four years ago, and Liam, whom I remember as a little nipper in Coburg Place, is now balding, in his mid-forties, and working over here because there is no work in Dublin [Sean Mulready was an Irish communist and republican who had been interned in the Curragh in the 1940s and later emigrated to London. Ballad singer Luke Kelly of “The Dubliners” lived with Mulready and his wife for a period when he was a young man in Birmingham and also joined the Connolly Association]. Pat Bond has a high opinion of May. I got the 7.20 back.
February 25 Thursday: I finished the paper but did not go out. I spoke to Kneafsey and Joe O’Grady. Kneafsey thinks Saturday will be a success – which he defines by an attendance of 20! I also spoke to Arthur Devlin, who had been rung up by May.
February 26 Friday: Early on Kneafsey rang to say that NALGO speaker Tony Ruane had pulled out of tomorrow’s conference – cold feet, I suspect. He would try to find somebody else. I met Joe O’Grady in the city at midday. Neither of us are very sanguine. There has not been a squeak from Michael Mortimer and I doubt if any delegates have been appointed.
February 27 Saturday: We held the conference in the morning. Doswell took the chair and as the NALGO man Tony Ruane excused himself thanks to domestic problems – probably cold feet – George Davies opened and Sean Redmond gave the main speech. There were about 25-30 present and the room was full. The gathering was moreover representative of the Trade Union Movement. Kneafsey wants to push ahead with a conference in Manchester. George Davies says Kneafsey is in the “Straight Left” and senses an “alternative agenda”. I think John Gibson is attracted in the same direction. Sean Redmond told me his mother has lost the sight of one eye thanks to glaucoma and is receiving treatment for the other. She has had a drainage operation. This makes me very thankful that mine seems to have been caught in time. A letter from Tony Coughlan told me of an international conference Michael O’Riordan is calling in Dublin – or at least I gather it is O’Riordan.
February 28 Sunday: I met Peter Berresford Ellis at Lime Street and we had a meal at the Ashoka in Bold Street, later going to the Irish Centre where he lectured on the Fenian invasion of Canada. There were 27 people present, including John McGurk and Quincey, but Michael Mortimer has not shown up over the whole weekend, much to Joe O’Grady’s disgust. Barney Morgan was his irrepressible self. Brian Stowell ran me home.
February 29 Monday: I met Peter Berresford Ellis at the BBC in Paradise Street where he was recording an interview. He is not bad politically, a Celtic League member and former supporter of the ILP[ie. the Independent Labour Party, whose foundation had preceded that of the Labour Party]. He would I suppose be in the Labour Party now, but on the left. We had lunch at the Italian restaurant off Mathew Street and he caught the 3 pm. to London. I rang Joe O’Grady in the evening to see if Radio Merseyside had broadcast the interview, but he thought not.
March 1 Tuesday: Yesterday and today have provided an intensely cold North wind, so though the first daffodil came out, it did not enjoy a very good reception. I had thought of going away but did not. I rang Pat Bond who was to have gone to Fishers this afternoon. Somebody rang at 6 pm., but by the time I reached the phone had rung off. I went into Birkenhead for shopping. Later I spoke to Peter Mulligan who said that a man in Aberdeen had sent him particulars of meetings being held in Glasgow, with Joe Bowers, Madge Davison, Edwina Stewart and other revenants of the economist trend [ie. in the CPI in Belfast]. That will be that young fellow’s work [ie. a reference to the influence of Michael Morrissey]. They have a fringe meeting at the Scottish TUC.
March 2 Wednesday: I did a certain amount of clearing up. The tons of bumf that come through the door have me distracted! I spoke to Pat Bond on the phone and the accountant seems to have given him the practical alternatives. So now I must get a meeting with Pat O’Donohue. Josephine Logan wrote from Nottingham. I listened to Mozart’s “Requiem” in the evening, in a good round vigorous performance from the Festival Hall. The basic key is D minor, but it is remarkable to what degree it tends to B flat rather than F. This tendency can only be nullified by D major, and this takes place once only, and the D major Hosanna is repeated in B flat. There are three Picardy thirds that have often puzzled me, especially the one on G before the Sanctus, though I can well see why the third is left out of the final chord of the work.
March 3 Thursday: I got quite a deal of clearing up done and quite a number of letters. There was a note from Pat Bond, and Peter Mulligan sent the material on the Scottish conference. Clearly Fergal O’Doherty is well-funded and I see it as a deliberate attempt of Northern Ireland Trade Unionists to combat the Connolly Association policy in Scotland.
March 4 Friday: It was chilly – of course nothing like last year – and I stayed in and continued trying to clear the place up. I tried to get Sean Redmond but he was out. But I did get Peter Mulligan whom I intend to meet at Rugby tomorrow. Late at night Sean Redmond rang back and promised to get a speaker for Leicester. When I told him about the Glasgow conference his comment was, “That’s a Sticky outfit.” That’s probably Fergal O’Doherty’s position. Sean had not heard of it.
March 5 Saturday (Rugby/Liverpool): I caught the 10.30 train, changed at Crewe, and met Peter Mulligan at Rugby. I heard from Pat Bond that a man called Fagan had joined the Connolly Association and was trying to start a branch. I wrote to him and mentioned I was meeting Peter. Surprisingly he turned up at the station. He first came across us around 1960 during the London-Birmingham march and was in contact from time to time. Peter Mulligan and I then went for a bite and made arrangements for the Leicester conference. It is a pleasure to deal with Peter. He is 100% positive. I got back to Liverpool at about 6 pm. I see from the “Morning Star” that Bill Scott died in Louth, Lincolnshire [A former International Brigader in the 1930s Spanish Civil War]. I think he was in the Connolly Association in Liverpool, then moved to Birmingham. Then we lost sight of him, and no wonder if he was in Louth. He was 80.
March 6 Sunday: I didn’t go out but wrote to people in the Midlands about the Leicester conference, Mark Clinton, Sean Kettle, Nessan Danaher and others. I spoke to John Boyd in the evening. He is in touch with the NCP [ie. the New Communist Party] and “Morning Star” about the EEC and is sending a letter to “Seven Days”, who are trying to reverse the traditional anti-EEC stand of the CPGB. I rang George Davies who knew about the Candleriggs meeting [ie. in Glasgow, Scotland] and said he was going to the Scottish TUC and would tell me what happened at it – Fergal O’Doherty has a “fringe meeting” at it. I also rang Ellen MitchelI. She told me an interesting thing. Donald McIntosh [A NALGO union official in Scotland] is the son of the manager of Clyde Books who is a very decent man and was most helpful when I went in there trying to track somebody down.
There was a Beethoven recital on the radio in the evening. I let go the sonata in E flat, Op. 27, No.1 – I would have listened to the Op.31 for the sake of the minuet – but listened to the Appassionata [ie. the third movement of Sonata No.23]. It doesn’t appeal to me, not even the slow movement. But then there was the Hammerklavier in Bb – which I know as well as the others. It retained its full power, which I am sure derives from its harmonic logic.
March 7 Monday: I did some clearing up, then met Joe O’Grady in the city at 2 pm. He was giving out about Michael Mortimer’s incompetence, and not much wonder. The meeting is on Wednesday when I will be in London. Derek O’Flaherty took the E.C. minutes but hasn’t written them up, so that can’t come up. There is little enough discipline these days. The “Morning Star” reporter, of the name of Black, if I got it right, rang up (probably after getting my number from Arnison) to say the “Echo” had published a map showing where the IRA had planted a bomb in Gibraltar, though it was now admitted that there was no bomb and three people had been shot dead for nothing. He had asked them where they got their information. “The security forces.” Would they publish a correction? The “Echo” slammed down the telephone on him. Later I got hold of Donal McIntosh in Glasgow.
March 8 Tuesday: I wrote a few letters and went into the city. Jane Tate rang up and told me that the Bonds had opened a letter to me from Heussaff, extracted a cheque enclosed and left the letter lying around without its envelope. The man is insufferable! I also heard from John Boyd, who is going to town on the European Union. Barney Morgan and Joe O’Grady also rang.
March 9 Wednesday (London/Liverpool): I took the 1.15 to Euston and went to the shop. Pat O’Donohue came in and we agreed that Pat Bond should buy his own insurance stamps and we should pay him back some money he lent us. He has heard nothing from the Department of Employment. Then we collected Jane Tate and had a meal before the meeting. Among those present were Michael Brennan, Flann Campbell, Gerry Curran and quite a few new people, one of them a bright youngster of 21 who had been to New York but decided to settle in London. I did not learn his name. There were several other young people and I thought it looked promising. Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Michael Brennan and the young fellow came for a drink, though the young fellow doesn’t take alcohol and of course we didn’t press him.
I don’t know where he learned it but Gerry Curran was telling me that by some accident Chris Mullin and Lord Denning shared a taxi on the way to the Birmingham Six appeal. “You appear to know more about this case than the learned Judges, Mr Mullin,” said his Lordship. “Why don’t you write a book about it?” He was unaware that he had done so, and didn’t know he was an MP, saying to him when they parted, “Well, I presume, Mr Mullin, that as soon as this case is over you’ll be glad to be going back to Ireland.” He says that Denning presided over a bus fares tribunal and confirmed he had never been on a bus in his life! [Chris Mullin was a Labour MP who campaigned on the Birmingham Six case. Lord Denning was Lord of Appeal. He became widely known for his statement during the 1980 Birmingham Six appeal that it would open an “appalling vista” if the prisoners were acquitted because it would show that the processes leading to their trial and conviction were fundamentally flawed. They were acquitted in due course]. I took the 11.50 sleeper to Lime Street.
March 10 Thursday: John Boyd sent me a speech by Tony Benn. He is terribly confused and has corresponding opportunism. John is holding discussions with the NCP over the weekend, whether wisely or not we will no doubt see. But they seem to be the best both on the Irish Question and that of national sovereignty. In the evening Sean Redmond rang to say he would come to Leicester and I told Peter Mulligan. I rang Ellen MitchelI about visiting Glasgow on Tuesday. Sean thinks the Candleriggs conference is inspired by the CPI (Northern area), but there was some Workers Party involvement in the early stages.
I saw from the “Morning Star” which I bought at Lime Street this morning that after Bill Scott and Bill Warman, Gerry Dawson has died. I knew he had a serious illness and operation about a year ago. I remember him in 1935-36 when he was one of the “Sphinx” crowd, which included Jump (afterwards a professor at Manchester) [He was professor of English], Booth, Douglas Gasking – who I think got a chair [Douglas Gasking became Professor of Philosophy in Melbourne, Australia]. I never had a great deal to do with him.
Incidentally it seems that Mairéad Farrell, who was so scandalously bumped off in Gibraltar, is Niall Farrell’s sister, though the “Irish Times” says that none of her brothers was interested in politics.
March 11 Friday: I didn’t go out but wrote a few letters. Joe O’Grady rang. Apparently he gave out about Michael Mortimer’s incompetence at the meeting on Wednesday, somewhat to Barney Morgan’s disapproval. The trouble, as usual, is finding an alternative. “Green Ink” say they want me at their book fair tomorrow, and that their invitation must have gone “astray” in the post. I think there is an element of incompetence there too. I persuaded Nessan Danaher to take the chair at the Leicester conference. I invited Kevin McNamara [MP for Kingston-upon-Hull; Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under Neil Kinnock’s leadership of the Labour Party], but got no reply yet.
March 12 Saturday (London/Liverpool): A fine wasted day today. I went to London after having been invited to speak on Mellows at the “Green Ink” book fair. For days they had been messing, though they swore their letter to me must have “gone astray”. My impression was of utter incompetence. I arranged to be there at 12.30. Then they made it 4 pm., then 5 pm., and finally asked me to speak at 5.30 just as I was leaving for the train. I didn’t stay but post-dated my expenses. I saw Peter Berresford Ellis, PoC [Name unknown], Pat Bond, Jane Tate and the young fellow I met on Wednesday who was helping Pat Bond. His name is Kelly and he is from Longford.
March 13 Sunday: It rained all bloody day. I seldom saw anything like it. But I had to go to the Irish Centre to talk about Mellows. Considering the weather the attendance was not too bad. Barney Morgan had distributed posters. Pat Doherty was there and his son Barry, Joe O’Grady and about 20 others including Michael Mortimer. He tells me he has a small cyst on one of his eyelids and will have to go into St Paul’s Hospital for a minor operation, which he thinks will only involve a stay of a day. On the other hand he cannot drive his car with only one eye and he wonders how long he will be reduced to this. I availed of his taxi service and he drove me to 124 Mount Road.
March 14 Monday: It rained all day again – the third day of continuous rain. I think it betokens a good summer. The sequence is broken. I sent off some letters and went into the city but did very little today. It was wretchedly dark and even midday looked like 6 pm.
March 15 Tuesday (Edinburgh): The day opened dull but dry. But the rain had moved North and I ran into it at Carlisle, and it went on all the time I was in Scotland. Donal McIntosh met me at Glasgow Central and he told me he had been in the CP but had left it. We agreed to recommend a conference in Edinburgh in June. Then at about 4 pm. I met Ellen Mitchell, who also agreed. I then went on to Edinburgh and took a taxi out to Alan Morton’s. Alisoun was away on some musical engagement. Alan himself seems well and to be bearing up to the stress of losing Freda reasonably well. Alisoun comes in to lunch every Wednesday and he has quite a routine. He has lost 10% of the sight of one eye, but the other remains completely serviceable and the medicos seem to have forgotten they were going to carry out a drainage operation on the good eye.
March 16 Wednesday: Alan Morton came with me as far as Waverley steps, then went off to the market. I caught the 10.44, a Plymouth train, and carried on to Crewe, there catching a London train that reached Lime Street five minutes early. I decided not to change at Preston and stop at every station to Liverpool. I was met by a mass of mail – Tony Coughlan had had his Manuscript rejected by Blackstaff. Oliver Snoddy is coming to Liverpool. There was a letter from Joe Jamison in New York, and material from Jane Tate. And By.[Name unknown] is going to London from Liverpool on Saturday week. He has connections here and will stay with his friends. Also he declines to accept any expenses. I rang Barney Morgan who is going to London – a rarity for him.
March 17 Thursday: I don’t know whether I have a slight cold, but today I could not get on with anything. The weather continues dark, gloomy and chilly, though the sun shone for a few minutes in the morning. I had a word with Peter Mulligan about our Leicester venture. I also spoke to Gerry Curran, who said the book-page copy was on its way.
March 18 Friday: I got quite a bit done in the morning, mostly clearing up. But I felt very sleepy after lunch and had a nap. It is a mild cold all right. Lorraine Knowles rang. She is not sure when Oliver Snoddy is coming and is having difficulties with that exhibition. She asked me for a list of people who should be invited. I have ten times too much to do.
March 19 Saturday: I got a considerable amount of clearing up done. The front room and music room are presentable at last but the kitchen and attached annex are a disgrace and must be tackled. I did a bit on the paper and treated myself to roast duck at the “Naughty Edwardian” in Carlyle Street, after posting two pages to the printer.
At 8.30 pm. Lyn White collected me and drove me to a party at Rico Bird’s where I was “guest of honour” and got free drinks. There’s a bit of a story. Birkenhead CP – now covering all Wirral – grew interested in me when the “Morning Star” received the new edition of “Mellows”. They wanted some kind of celebration with a half-expressed aim of bringing in the Irish, which I told them could not be done. You can’t appear out of the blue and rally people to your side. Anyway, their next thought was a St Patrick’s Day social. Could they put my name on the ticket and would I attend? I agreed to go. So it was tonight. At first it started slowly but after a while warmed up into quite a good night. It was also a fund-raising affair, and two young lads of 19 or 20 put people into a good mood with a somewhat limited repertoire of guitar music, after which a man of about 30, with a wit and histrionic power that reminded me of Leo McGree, auctioned books and bric-a-brac surely to the tune of £50. A copy of “Ireland Her Own” fetched £6, on condition that I autographed it, which I did. It was bought by a young man who struck me very favourably, and McCabe, who knew me before, gave him a good name. He wouldn’t be more than 18 or 19, was a student doing A-levels and would go to London next year to study law. I told McCabe that when the CCG [ie. the Communist Campaign Group] attempts to “re-establish” the CPGB, something I do not expect them to accomplish, on no account must they allow personalities to come into it. They must speak them fair.
After the auction the guitarists resumed their recital. It was interesting to me. Much of it was Beatle-type “pop”. One young woman nodded, slapped and rocked to the rhythm till it was tiring to watch her. The secretary’s husband knew the words of all these absurd things, with their endless repetitions of a brief phrase or two, and simple but ungrammatical harmonies. Their banjos seemed to have six strings, which gave common chords when grabbed in the fist. So this seems to be the origin of the consecutive fifths and octaves that grace the efforts of guitarists and make “pop” sound so illiterate. They sense the chords sounded with the least effort. But despite the predominance of this music Ireland was never far away. The name McCabe speaks for itself. Another man was called Butler, his father from Tipperary, which he visited. They had to sing Kevin Barry, but I managed to veto “Danny Boy”. Then they got on to Liverpool songs, with the “Drunken Sailor” treated like a calypso with impromptu verses. McCabe had been to sea but didn’t know what a “long boat” was to which the unfortunate inebriate was confined. At one point they presented me with two houseplants and drove me back.
The evening ended with an incident that could have had unfortunate results. I got out of the car to discover that I had picked up a coat identical with my own, thinking my keys were in the pocket. They were not my keys. So I couldn’t get into the house, didn’t know the Birds’ telephone number, and if I walked back there I might find somebody had gone off with my keys and was standing somewhere outside his house trying to get in with them. I was walking to the Browns, thinking of waking them up at 3 am. for the spare keys, when I felt for money in my jacket pocket and found my keys there. So I could get in. A few minutes later I found the Birds’ number, telephoned them, found my coat was still there, and [a space for a personal name is left unfilled here] came back and collected the other.
The result of tonight’s operation will be that the CP will want to draw me in to their activity. But my mind is made up. I will help anything that appears to be going in the right direction. I regard all these groups – NCP, CCG, CPGB – as schismatics, whereas the Trotskies are heretics. I know, I think, the cause of the splits, or rather one cause. As I said to Ron Bellamy: the socialist countries consistently behaved in a way the western CPs could not endorse without isolating themselves. As P.C. Joshi’s phrase was, apropos of the Indians: “They could not solve the problem, so they split.“[P.C.Joshi, 1907-80, was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of India and a leading theorist of the national question in that country]. This happened here, first the NCP, then the CCG, though they were thrown out. I could solve the problem because of the national question. The Irish could afford to say to the British Government, “There now! That’s your fault. Look what you’ve made them do!”, and the movement could maintain its unity on the basis of the usually correct assumption that the villain of the piece was British imperialism, something even the British Left often fail to see.
Those who felt international duty should be done no matter what the resultant isolation, stood by Marxism in the somewhat sectish blue-print in the “British Road to Socialism”, which should be renamed “Wouldn’t it be nice?” This is nonsense and because the Communist Campaign Group say they are re-establishing on this nonsense, I think they will not enjoy success. But those who decided internationalism took second place, became a prey to every revisionist absurdity and seem to be prepared to swallow the EEC hook, line and sinker. Thus McCabe tonight says, “We’re in it up to our necks. We’ll never get out now.” So a whole new line of policy needs evolving and I was encouraged when the NCP invited John Boyd to meet them. But much to his annoyance they called a meeting off at short notice and fought shy of the subject in their paper. His letter arrived this morning. I suspect that there are divisions of opinion within the NCP. I think George Davies is exceptional, probably from his having come under Martin Guinan’s influence on the Irish question [Martin Guinan was a longstanding Connolly Association member in Blackburn, who knew NCP activist George Davies there].
March 20 Sunday: So here we are back again at the equinox, after one of the mildest, wettest winters I remember. I think 1937 is the most similar and that produced a good summer, which on the whole I am tempted to anticipate. I didn’t go out, but getting up late wrote a few letters and did a little on the paper. I spoke to Barney Morgan on the phone. He had bought ten copies of O’Casey from Pat Bond and sold the lot this afternoon and made £5 for the branch.
March 21 Monday: I spent the day on the paper and did little else. Barney Morgan called in during the afternoon.
March 22 Tuesday (London): I took the morning train to Birmingham where I called into Terry McNally, who was most helpful. Then I went on to London. But first a landslide diverted us through Northampton, and a track failure delayed us another hour. I arrived late for the meeting and without any proper food. It was a wretched meeting. As for Pat Bond, he was the worst I have seen him. He said not a word except for an occasional irritable comment and kept his head down gazing at the table, “pouting” as Jane Tate puts it. Flann Campbell and Gerry Curran did their best, but John Boyd was not there, and Derek O’Flaherty only came in at the end. He is doing something in Brent. Pat Bond would not come for a drink but went off, still sulking. According to Jane Tate he has been the same all day. It may be because he went to Manchester on Saturday and only sold £100 worth. I collected another ten books for Barney Morgan to sell. Bond expressed no pleasure. “That’s because he didn’t sell them himself,” said Jane Tate. She thinks he may be heading for another stroke. She also says he and Stella have not re-registered in the CPGB. I stayed with Jane Tate.
March 23 Wednesday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool and went on with the paper, and that was about all.
March 24 Thursday: The “Morning Star” rang me saying that Austen Morgan’s book on Connolly is out and would I review it [Austen Morgan, born 1949, author of “James Connolly, A Political Biography”, published 1988]. I said I would. I will be able to see if there are any epiphenomenal paradigms in it! [A reference to a jargon-filled lecture on James Connolly by Morgan in Liberty Hall, Dublin, which Greaves had attended some years previously. See earlier Journal]. Also there is a new book on O’Casey, which might enable me to pay off some old American scores. I went on with the paper and got off the seventh page. Barney Morgan collected the books and Joe Deighan rang about the Candleriggs conference. He thinks that Gatwick, the Glasgow “Morning Star” representative, is the moving spirit. This means the old CP will not be keen on it. He told me that Lena Daly is in hospital and has two operations. Somebody – ah yes, Pat Bond or via Pat Bond – told me something about it. He had wanted to stay with her in Manchester. Then again Syd Abbott is dead, and the funeral tomorrow in Burnley. I would like to have gone but it would mean catching the 8.15 to Preston and not getting back till late afternoon. Abbott was the best of the CP district organisers. When I was getting the Connolly Association going two of them helped, Abbott and Bill Alexander[ie. when he became full-time editor of the “Irish Democrat” in 1951]. I went to Manchester looking for a secretary. “I’ll give you the next qualified new arrival in the District,” he said. I never expected to hear more, but three or four months afterwards I had a letter asking me to go to see Joe Deighan – the best recruit we got!
March 25 Friday: I finished the paper to all intents and purposes, and apart from that there is nothing worth recording, except that Jane Tate has had another fall, after being knocked down by a motorcycle. She is astonishingly liable to accidents.
March 26 Saturday (Manchester/Liverpool): This was a queer day. For some daft reason I got it into my head that summertime began today instead of tomorrow and went to Lime Street an hour early. Michael Herbert had not provided me with the proper address of the Frows’ library [ie. the Workingclass Movement Library, The Crescent, Salford] and the taximan I hired at Manchester Piccadilly didn’t know where it was. So I was half an hour walking the Crescent in Salford before Michael Herbert, who had apparently decided to investigate my non-appearance, found me enquiring in a police station. So the meeting got under way somewhat late but they didn’t seem to worry. Eric Taplin was there and Baron-Cohen, also Wilf Charles and Jim Arnison. Indeed I knew quite a few of them. Michael Herbert took the chair. This was the Northern Labour History group, and I was talking on the history of the Connolly Association. Geoffrey Bell was there and said “Green Ink” would be interested in publishing Tony Coughlan’s history of the Association. He thought they could get a grant from the Arts Council. This arose when I was having a drink with Wilf Charles in the nearest hostelry. Wilf said he was under pressure from the Communist Campaign Group to join their “re-established” CP, but thought they were unwise to proceed so hastily when they have neither policy nor leadership. In other words, his position is that of Gaster. When I got back to Liverpool there was a letter and a statement from Sam Watts urging me to join them as well. But though I am sympathetic to their purpose, I don’t want to add to my responsibilities. I’ve enough trouble. According to Wilf Charles all the older people in Manchester are going with the rebels. If they would turn their attention to solving the political problems that give rise to the present position they could make a more positive contribution. They will probably get it off the ground and then three CPs will carry on in parallel. And it might go on for years.
March 27 Sunday: I wrote letters for the Leicester conference, then went to the Irish Centre where Paddy Byrne gave a very entertaining and well received talk on the Republican Congress[Paddy Byrne had been a Labour Councillor; he was one of the founders of the Labour Party-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster in the mid-1960s and had been in the Republican Congress in Ireland as a young man in the 1930s]. I would say things are pulling together in Liverpool. The young lad Ian Foster of the NCP has joined. He saw Martin Guinan yesterday and brought me Ernie Trory’s book that I had ordered [Ernie Trory, 1913-2000 was a leading figure in the New Communist Party and author of several books on the Cold War and related topics]. There was another young fellow – about 21 – with him, I think. And I had quite a talk with Stephen Dowling whom Pat Doherty describes as a Trotsky but is a decent Catholic and so not a real one. The Quincey group are in Dublin, but nevertheless we had 20 people there, with Joe O’Grady and Pat Doherty, but no Michael Mortimer, also no Barney Morgan. He rang up Joe O’Grady saying he was in Glasgow. Now in the ordinary way Barney Morgan will not leave Liverpool and even describes Manchesters as “woolly-backs”. But now in one week he has been in London and Glasgow. What is the explanation? I hope he is not going away, as he makes a very good contribution.
In the morning George Davies rang up. He had been telephoned from Glasgow by one of his men who had attended the Candleriggs conference. It was one long litany against the “men of violence”. And apparently the CPI have announced a four-day “school” in Belfast for £89, to which they are trying to attract people from Britain. Sheer interference!
March 28 Monday: A review copy of Austen Morgan’s book on Connolly arrived from the “Morning Star”. The man is apparently 39 years of age and has matured from the time he let the epiphenomenal paradigms loose in Liberty Hall. I sent off some more letters.
March 29 Tuesday: The weather forecast was for rain. Actually this was the first decent day and positively warm in the bright sunshine. I went to Ripley where all went well. I spoke to Jane Tate who said it was her own fault she was knocked down as she was crossing the road and backtracked when somebody waved to her.
March 30 Wednesday: I wrote some letters but could not post them because of a strike in the Post Office. I met Joe O’Grady in town. Without the slightest prompting on my part he expressed the opinion that Barney Morgan might be preparing to leave Liverpool for Crete or some distant place. He has said nothing, but his behaviour has been unusual. Joe thinks he is disillusioned with the health service.
March 31 Thursday: I went into Birkenhead for lunch, and then did some shopping. I am planning a grand clear-up over the holiday and I wanted to get in sufficient supplies to free me from the necessity of going out for the next week. I also bought a case of wine – going at £1.99 a bottle. There were long queues at the Post Office, I suppose as a result of the strike, which is over now. I had been thinking of going away but the weather is not warm enough except in the afternoon sun.
April 1 Friday: It was dark and gloomy and raining by afternoon. I did not go out but managed a little clearing up. I didn’t get much done. Pat Bond rang at lunchtime to know whether I thought he should have a stall at the TUC May Day affair for £150. I thought not. I must remark however that this is one of the earliest springs I have ever known. Going to Ripley on Tuesday I saw all the hawthorn hedges in full leaf, as are the gooseberries in my garden, and the rhubarb is also pushing up bravely. I will have one try to get the garden going, and if I fail I will see if I can get a contractor. The young lad who did a bit in the garden called looking for a day’s work. But he wouldn’t be able for what I want done, so I had to disappoint him.
April 2 Saturday: Another gloomy day, though not wet, but I didn’t go out. I got some clearing up done and dipped into Austen Morgan’s “Political biography” of Connolly – advertised as a “revisionist biography,” which is what it is, though the man is not vicious, just faintly Trotskyish. I sent on the report of the Candleriggs conference to Joe Deighan. Somebody has decided to concentrate on Scotland. I wonder if Freeman is involved.
April 3 Sunday: A brilliant morning – like May – but a dull afternoon. I got plenty done today, cleared up the front room and started on the study, urged by the desire to find something lost. The lost article was a sonnet, which at the time I wrote it – mid-nineteen-fifties – I thought classical, but realised later was what Auden calls “classicising,” following a classical model, so I did not type it. But now I want a “classicising” sonnet for my “Epic”, so I looked for old manuscript books. I must have destroyed the lot, though for the life of me I can’t remember doing it. However, in a trunk full of old diaries etc. I found an early version of it. I had even forgotten the content. It was the best of a series I was working on from about 1955. The first version was lost as I was cycling in the Lake District – again I can’t remember where I was going. I also hoped to come across the long poem that marks the transition to my present style. I was temerarious enough to publish the products of the early period and discriminating enough to suppress those of the second. But I might have worked over the long poem and dragged it into full maturity. But the typescript lacks the first page and I do not even remember the title. It was about the Highland clearances. Now the first page contained three quite striking stanzas I’ll never recreate. Whether I could recast the whole thing I doubt. Anyway I couldn’t find the beginning, though there were parts of the poem there.
April 4 Monday: Having so much to do that it was hard to know where to begin I decided to finish tidying the study, and what did I find, in a notebook labelled “Tropaeolum”, but the whole sonnet sequence as revised. The original date was estimated as 1954. The version I found last night was nostalgic to the point of sadness – I thought of Mozart’s last Bb concerto, where there is sadness in a major key. The revised version was much more robust, but I am dubious whether it will serve my purpose. Anyway, I’m destroying the sequence as soon as I’ve had a look at it. The Tropaeolum research was done in 1928-31 and published in the “Northwestern Naturalist” in 1932. I remember that wretched headmaster Wynne-Hughes expressing patronising surprise that I was a member of the Liverpool Botanical Society while still at school.
In the morning Baron-Cohen rang from Manchester and said he would be in Liverpool next week and would like the loan of the manuscript of the Connolly play. In the evening I managed to get Michael Mortimer. He was to have written to George Davies, but Davies told Joe O’Grady he had received nothing. Now I learned he had mixed up Bolton with Blackpool and sent two letters there! Obviously he does not pay much attention.
April 5 Tuesday: The weather has completely changed. Beginning yesterday it is dry and anti-cyclonic, with East winds but warm in the afternoon. I did not go out but to the shops but did a review for the “Morning Star” and cleared the music room. I rang Joe Deighan in the evening.
April 6 Wednesday: Another fine reasonably warm day. I spoke to Jane Tate who thinks in addition to everything else she has torn a muscle. She is the most accident-prone person I have ever heard of. She thinks it is because she does not pay attention. Later I rang Glasgow and Kevin Mitchell told me that Ellen is in bed, possibly with food poisoning, and will not be around for a couple of days. Apparently they went to Inverness over Easter and because of the fine weather decided to return through Fort Augustus where she was taken ill.
April 7 Thursday: It was cloudier today. I only went out to the pillar box and shops. I was reading Tony Coughlan’s draft history of the Connolly Association. He writes very modestly and offers to alter it up, but how he will take all my annotations and queries I don’t know. I’ll bet he did it “out of his head” or from notes. I learned from “Connolly” – the hard way – that the first thing to do is to make a card index of dates. Then your chronology is perfect, and you are not tempted to break it. The infrastructure of history is chronology, and I have solved problems others were defeated by, simply be applying it strictly. That’s a training in the “hard” natural sciences.
I’ve also been reading about the thirties and came across his mother’s memoir of David Guest. I wrote a commemorative sonnet about him, also about Cornford [ie. in the publication “By the Clock ‘Tis Day”, published in 1946]. My memory tells me I knew Cornford better, but I must have known Guest more than I have the memory of. I remember meeting him first when I had a bedsitter with Joyce Tringham’s mother, Mrs De Courcy, in Raynes Park. This must have been between June 1937 and February 1938. That evening – it was not light – Alan Morton had called. He was living in Hampstead and David Guest came in to talk with us and stayed quite a time. He had, I think, come to see Kathleen De Courcy on YCL business, and possibly finding her not at home came in to talk to us. I remember how we both took to him at once and were very sorry when he was killed in Spain. Now I can’t have read the memoir very carefully, for I saw tonight that he was the predecessor of Cornford as Cambridge student organiser and started the student movement in Cambridge with the help of Maurice Cornforth [British Marxist philosopher, later manager of Greaves’s publisher, Lawrence and Wishart]. Another thing I never thought of at the time, was how short a time it had been going when I came to it. My predecessor in Liverpool was John Riddell and presumably he is the Liverpool man they refer to in the memoir [see references to Riddell in Vol.2]
April 8 Friday: I’ve a touch of a cold – a slight sore throat – so I went into the city and had a meal and did little else. In the afternoon Radio Merseyside rang. They wanted to interview Loraine Knowles about Connolly, and she had put them on to me – a damned nuisance [Lorraine Knowles was organising an exhibition on James Connolly in Liverpool to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Connolly Association’s foundation].
April 9 Saturday: I finished Tony Coughlan’s manuscript. It shows all the marks of haste and he is a politician rather than a historian and seems more interested in the lessons than the facts of history. At the same time it is interesting. Jane Tate says it is dull. And that is because he has not the faintest understanding of chronology, the principle on which all history is based. And of course they don’t teach it in the schools. It is material, while they want the ideal. But I think the basis is there. He’s done a lot of work. The weather was bright but chilly and I didn’t go out.
I was thinking of this damned radio programme I’m let in for. I can’t climb down on Connolly, but I can’t have the Labour Museum stormed by indignant Orangemen. This must be why Loraine Knowles pushed the thing on to me. She booked the Exhibition without the foresight that two British soldiers were going to be lynched in Belfast! [An incident that had recently occurred. The soldiers had been kicked and beaten to death by a crowd, not lynched]. She doesn’t feel capable of handling it. Joe O’Grady rang to say he had an invitation and Jane Tate rang from London.
April 10 Sunday: I still have a cold – not savage, but noticeable – and got very little done, and the weather was windy and chilly. I spoke to Jane Tate in the evening. She was not too hopeful for the joint social with the builders, and says Pat Bond is lukewarm and won’t push it.
April 11 Monday: It was reasonably warm and sunny this afternoon, though I only went as far as the shops [There were a few shops across the road from where he lived in Prenton, including a Co-op shop] and concentrated on clearing up the front room and cooking. I spoke to Jane Tate. Later I rang Ellen Mitchell, but Kevin said she was still in bed with a species of dysentery and though improving felt weak. Later I spoke to Peter Mulligan who says Seán Kettle rang to promise two delegates from Corby. Pat Bond is not coming – quite understandably – so Peter Mulligan is looking for political books. I rang up Barney Morgan who has some, and also I will ask Joe O’Grady. I finished Tony Coughlan’s manuscript.
April 12 Tuesday: Quite a busy day. I arrived at Radio Merseyside at 10.30 and met one of the managers, a Mr Ord, who provided me with a reporter, an Asiatic lady who was brought up in London, to drive me to the Labour History Museum. I had already guessed why Lorraine Knowles had pushed things on to me. She had visions of hordes of enraged Orangemen storming the building. If anything was to be said in favour of Connolly she was not going to say it. I tackled the reporter and said I trusted she would be very circumspect in her questions. Of course she would not know the Liverpool background.
I recorded the broadcast for her, then she asked for Lorraine Knowles. She had only one question to ask. Did she think that an Exhibition of this kind might offend people and attract opposition? “I’d rather you didn’t ask that question.” “Well, I’m afraid I have to ask it.” “Then I’ll not answer it. I already made that clear.” She persisted, and Lorraine Knowles refused again. “I’d prefer to call the whole thing off.” “Tell me,” I said to the reporter, “Are you under instructions to ask that question particularly?” She said she was. In the end a compromise was struck in which Lorraine Knowles explained her reasons for putting on the exhibition. She told me, after the reporter had gone, that Ord had asked her that question in half a dozen different ways, and she had made it quite clear that she didn’t propose to answer it. One of the staff, a very pleasant Dublin woman, commented laughing, “The media! They are all the same.”
I came back to 124 Mount Road and delayed lunch till Tony Coughlan arrived, partly to collect his manuscript. Then after a light meal we went to the Labour History Museum where the Connolly Exhibition was just receiving the finishing touches. I had this morning worked out the line of defence and arranged for Joe O’Grady to bring a tape-recorder, which he did. Among those present that I knew were Barney Morgan, Pat Doherty, Eddie and Ruth Frow, Eric Taplin and Alan Morton 2, but no Michael Mortimer. I made the special point that this was an exhibition about Connolly as Connolly saw things, and that this was better history than attempting an “impartial” presentation. Let Connolly speak for himself and let the public draw their own conclusions. I think Lorraine Knowles was happy about that. Anyway she produced bottles of wine and even Barney Morgan, usually abstemious as his living depends on being allowed to drive, took a drop. I think it was Eric Taplin who told me Professor Buckland was there and wanted to be introduced to me [Professor Patrick Buckland, author of a book on Ulster Unionism and founder of the Institute of Irish Studies at Liverpool]. So I told him I had read his history of Unionism, but rather thought I kicked with the wrong foot as far as he was concerned [ie. supported the Nationalist rather than the Unionist side in Northern Ireland]. But he was the soul of sweetness and light. “A real smoothie,” said one of them. Would I be prepared to participate in any way in the Department of Irish Studies he was setting up in Liverpool? I said I would. Silly to say I wouldn’t. I think it was Alan Morton 2 who said he is not a Professor but a “Reader” and would very much like to be a full Professor. So I presume it is his policy to speak everybody fair and make no enemies. The affair went off very satisfactorily.
Afterwards Tony Coughlan went for a meal at the Capitol, a very good Chinese restaurant in Argyle Street. I showed him Austen Morgan’s book, which I am reviewing for the “Morning Star”.
April 13 Wednesday: Tony Coughlan and I had a day out. We caught the 11.03 to York, a place I had not walked about in since 1925 or 1926. It would be on the way back from Redcar or Bridlington. All I remember of that visit was the incredible traffic congestion, the scaffolding on the Minster and the wooden ramp by which you went in. Well, there was still scaffolding and still the wooden ramp, but the entire city centre had been pedestrianised – a tremendous improvement. It was excessively tourist-ridden and despite quite tasteful provisions by the City Council, the Viking history had been totally vulgarised. Sean Redmond thought York much finer than Chester. I would not say so, but it was well worth a visit. We got back to Lime Street at 8.15 and had a drink in the Shaftesbury where it was quiet, then took a taxi back.
Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear went to Belfast over Easter to stay with John McClelland. Who should they meet at Larne or Carrickfergus, or somewhere unexpected, but Cathal and Helga who drove them back. Conor MacLiam is still working for “Militant” [ie. for the Militant Tendency grouping]. His wife is “expecting”, so that Cathal will be a grandfather any minute. Finula is talking of going back to Ireland, but Egon is in Cologne or some place like that, married to a French girl.
April 14 Thursday: Tony Coughlan left at about 10.30 intending to stroll around Chester before going to Caergybi [ie. Holyhead]. I started on the paper. I spoke to Peter Mulligan and Joe O’Grady but couldn’t make contact with Michael Mortimer. While he is taxi-driving he will be hopeless as secretary. And there are good people around we could do something with. I also rang Dónal Mac Craith.
April 15 Friday: I got five pages of the paper done today and managed at last to get hold of Michael Mortimer who says he will call on Sunday. Barney Morgan came in to bring me some literature for Leicester. We all think we will have to replace Michael. He is a nice fellow but too uncertain. A secretary needs to have initiative. On the other hand we could lose Michael altogether. Make Joe O’Grady “organiser”? Pat Doherty could be the treasurer. It needs thinking over.
April 16 Saturday (Leicester/Liverpool): I took the 10.30 Dover train, changed at Crewe and Nuneaton, and reached Leicester at 1.30. The conference was quite a success, with delegates from the five Midland counties – Warwick, Northampton, Leicester, Nottingham and Stafford. Peter Mulligan did the reception, Nessan Danaher took the chair and Sean Redmond and I were the speakers. Tony McNally brought a CP contingent from Birmingham and Coventry. Peter Mulligan brought Golna and Reza [ie. his wife and son] with him. From Nottingham came Josephine Logan and her man. Chesterfield Trades Council was represented by Rick Kennelly who used to be in Manchester. Juniper from Nottingham tried to be divisive but didn’t succeed. I had time for an hour’s talk with Sean Redmond before returning to Nuneaton, Chester and Hooton.
April 17 Sunday: I did a bit on the paper. The weather was excellent. I’d say 60F was reached when the sun came out. But I had to stay in because Michael Mortimer came to discuss the Liverpool branch, which is, I think, as the journalists say, “poised for take-off”. The trouble is that Michael Mortimer is as bad an organiser as Barney Morgan is a chairman, so nothing is professionally performed. I suggested reorganisation. Leave Michael as secretary, but make Joe O’Grady “organiser”, make Pat Doherty Treasurer, and enlarge the Committee with two or three extra members, and arrange formal meetings properly conducted the Tuesday after each full branch meeting. Michael Mortimer thought we could get a free room at the Andino. Later when he had gone I rang Joe O’Grady, who was favourably disposed to the new scheme. I then rang Peter Mulligan to discuss a follow-up to the Midlands conference.
April 18 Monday: It poured rain most of the day but was very mild. According to the radio the temperature reached 68F in Norwich. This is a very good sign and it looks as if a new weather pattern is establishing itself. I went on with the paper. I spoke to Stella Bond on the telephone.
April 19 Tuesday (London): I did some work on the paper, and then took the 3 pm. to Euston. I went straight to Marchmont Street to the London members’ meeting. The attendance was not good – Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Derek O’Flaherty, Martin Moriarty, Gerry Curran, but no Flann Campbell or Charlie Cunningham or Michael Brennan. But Martin Moriarty gave a reasonable brief talk, and when I asked for volunteers to form a committee to prepare the conference, I got about six. [This was for the special annual conference of the Connolly Association to be held in September 1988 on the 50thanniversary of its foundation. Greaves did not live to see this event.] One of them, Patrick Kelly, said he would be prepared to do some donkey work. I think he is a very strong Republican. But the problem is dates, and it looks as if I will (for the umpteenth time) have to give up my holiday, which I had planned for the first week in May. The Northern CPI nonsense of a “devolved Assembly” has appeared here, with Derek O’Flaherty flirting with it. And they are going great guns on it in Scotland. There was bad news too: Gerry Curran is retiring to Ludlow where the mot has friends. The idea is to sell the dear London home and buy a cheap one in the country. So I guess his political life is over. I stayed with Jane Tate. Pat O’Donohue was there.
April 20 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to Central Books and then to the office. Pat Bond has been in touch with this girl McFry who wants the job as CA organiser, whereas I am determined to get somebody who can do it, even if it takes over a year. There have been three in a row who had no experience, and while at least Eddie Cowman learned, the others didn’t. When I demurred he wondered if he could give her a few weeks’ work in the bookshop for the summer. And he talked of donating £1,000 to the organiser’s fund. That is to get his hands on the appointment. He has a soft spot for the fair sex and she would simply be his echo. His influence on both Noel Gordon and Paul Gilhooley was in my view far from constructive. Everything is personalised.
I had a talk with Martin Moriarty and Pat Bond strolled into the pub to see what we were doing. He told me in response to a question that he was joining Chater’s grand “reconstituted” CPGB – re-establishing itself on this “British Road to Socialism” nonsense that broke it up! [Greaves regarded the disputes over various abstract ideological positions set out in the CPGB programme, the “British Road to Socialism”, as being significantly responsible for the divisions in the CPGB. He wished that the contending sides would have united on the practical issue of defending the independence of the British State vis-à-vis the EEC. In hindsight one may speculate whether, if such a course had been followed, the Labour Party and the political Left rather than the Conservatives might have led the national struggle against the EEC that culminated with Brexit in 2016.] Martin Moriarty is not going over. I asked would this split the staff of the “Morning Star” and threaten that. He said it was doing so already. He agreed to be more active in the Connolly Association and I returned to Liverpool.
I took a taxi to 124 Mount Road and then went to the Liverpool AGM. There was a good attendance, even though Alan Morton 2 and the Tauntons sent apologies. We appointed a committee of seven – Michael Mortimer remains secretary, but in case he doesn’t “sec” we made Joe O’Grady organiser and Pat Doherty treasurer, leaving Barney Morgan in the chair, and we brought on Alan O’Keeffe, the young lad Ian Foster who is in the NCP, and the two ladies who have been attending regularly. Michael Mortimer said he could get a room regularly in the Andino. So things are taking up both in London and Liverpool. But the atmosphere is far better in Liverpool, though I get the impression that people are losing their former respect for Pat Bond. He sat sulking again last night and came into the pub sighing. Martin Moriarty laughed!
April 21 Thursday: I got off the last two pages of the paper. George Davies rang in the morning for my opinion of an article he is writing. And then Kneafsey wants a meeting in St. Helens, so I spoke to him. Quite obviously I’ve got to raise a new crop of speakers from the young people. Baron-Cohen rang asking for the copy of Connolly’s play and Dónal Mac Craith is coming to Liverpool for the 30th.
Incidentally, George Davies like many people on the “Left” has an exaggerated conception of what individuals can accomplish. He spoke of Martin Moriarty. “He’s on your executive,” he remarks. “Do you know he’s a big man in ‘Straight Left’?” I had some such idea. I think John Gibson is the same. But I take no notice of any of it. What is an “Executive” but a group of people? And they don’t act consistently anyway. I think he’s quite a good lad, and he’ll learn by experience like everybody else.
April 22 Friday: The weather was cloudy and cool again, though what has been is shown by the rhododendron and bay-tree both flowering – this is exceptionally early. I had a good word with Joe O’Grady. Michael Mortimer cannot be contacted and has seemingly done nothing about the committee meeting and though Joe O’Grady would call it, the contact with the owners of the room is Michael Mortimer. I rang Hanna in Bridgewater and have arranged to go to Bristol on Wednesday, to discuss a branch in the Southwest. I rang Pat Bond to give him information he wanted about a publisher. He gets more boorish all the time. He didn’t even say thank you for my ringing. During the Paul Gilhooley regime I could see a plan to set up a committee of his young cronies in London to subvert the Standing Committee. I am setting one up with the limited objectives of preparing the conference. I asked for volunteers and neither Pat Bond nor Pat O’Donohue put their names forward. Well, I’ll not miss their company and might work towards a position where much day- to-day business is carried out by the London committee – all young – and the Standing Committee only meets once between E.C. meetings. I spoke also with Gerry Curran who thinks he will be leaving London at the end of July.
April 23 Saturday (London): I took an early train to Birmingham and went to the Birmingham Six meeting in the Irish Centre. George Davies was there, also May, Betty O’Shea and Joe Glenholme, but no Mark Clinton. Jack Kennedy was there from London, as usual “elephants” [this word presumably meant intoxicated]. Father Taaffe opened up and a man from the Birmingham Trades Council took the chair. I said a few suitable words but left at the break and came to London where I had a meal with Jane Tate and went to Kentish Town where there was a joint social with the Builders’ Charter group that went reasonably well. Pat Bond was there, also Gerry Curran, Martin Moriarty and some of the young people who were at Tuesday’s meeting, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham and quite a few more. I said a few words with not much in them.
April 24 Sunday (Liverpool): It took all day to get back. The train left Euston Station an hour late, dawdled up the track, shed its electric loco at Crewe and had a detour through Warrington and Earlstown. It must have taken close on six hours. When I got back I failed to get Michael Mortimer, as Joe O’Grady also had done. I spoke to Barney Morgan and Gerry Curran. The last had called a very successful meeting in West London.
I rang up Jane Tate who had been (as a visitor) to the “reconstitution” meeting [ie. organised by the Communist Campaign Group which aimed to establish a new CP, that later became the Communist Party of Britain]. She said there were about 300 there and there was a feeling verging on euphoria, with Rothstein [ie. Andrew Rothstein] and Ron Bellamy to the fore. There were many grey heads and also young people, but few of middle age. They said they had 1,000 applications for membership. I imagine it will weaken the “hard line” presence in the old CP but make the “Euros” more careful for fear of losing members. I have stressed to all I have discussed the matter with, that good relations must be kept.
April 25 Monday: I went to Ripley – the usual dreary journey – and left at 9 am. and got back at 9 pm. I have a watery nose, a very slight sore throat, have an inclination to feel chilly and an uncertain gut. I think I have picked up a bug – enteritis? However, the proofreading went reasonably well. The girl in the office gave me £1, saying a local man, Dr Ryan, had seen the paper, asked for one and left a £1 donation to the CA. I spoke to Peter Mulligan.
April 26 Tuesday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady on the telephone and he said he had been unable to contact Michael Mortimer. We are waiting his confirmation of the Andino for a meeting that should be tonight. We agreed to have lunch there and arrived at 12.30, soon after which Michael Mortimer arrived with a huge patch over his eye. He had had a cyst removed from his eyelid this morning and could not drive. When Joe O’Grady went Michael Mortimer and I spent the rest of the day drinking! I also called in to the bookshop and saw John Gibson. He is a very emotional character, I am sorry to say. He asked if I had joined the “re-established” CP. I said I had not, but I was going to quarrel with none of them. I don’t know why he gets so worked up about them. Nine- tenths of it is nonsense. Someday there will be a unity conference and they will make all their blunders together.
April 27 Wednesday (Bristol/Liverpool): I took the 9.20 to Birmingham and from there the 11.45 to Bristol. There were two young fellows from Liverpool who seemed unusually formally dressed for their age. They were travelling to Cheltenham, thence for interviews at Stow-on-the-Wold and were crying at having to leave home for work. I would guess they might be tradesmen. At Bristol I met David Hanna (from Leeds) and another and going over to the main bar we found Jempson. It was decided to start an Avon and Somerset Connolly Association with HQ at Bridgewater and to hold a public meeting in Tom King’s constituency in July [Tom King, born 1933, was Mrs Thatcher’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland at this time]. After the meeting we went to one of the city’s civic buildings where Jempson has an exhibition on the Irish question. He is trying to work as a free-lance journalist and grows vegetables for his family. I’d say he was in his middle thirties with a mighty crop of somewhat indeterminate hair. I was back by 8.15 pm.
April 28 Thursday: Joe O’Grady rang in the morning, mostly about Michael Mortimer’s uncertain mode of organisation. Then Gerry Curran, who had been to see Ealing’s Race Relations Unit, who would like the Connolly Exhibition and wouldn’t mind Baron-Cohen’s play. I told him Dónal Mac Craith might be coming to Liverpool, so that possibly Ealing would co-operate with Brent. I tried to get Lorraine Knowles on the telephone, failed, and decided to write. I expect to see her on Saturday. Barney Morgan called in to collect ten copies of my book on O’Casey. His “Democrats” have arrived so we decided to go to the May Day demonstration with them. I went to Birkenhead to make purchases. Tony Coughlan sent me a cutting in which Michael O’Riordan castigates Austen Morgan for his misunderstanding of Connolly.
Joe O’Grady was telling me about going into the bookshop. I asked Jane Tate to take copies of the petition which I collected in Birmingham into the office. But I forgot to keep one for myself. Joe O’Grady asked Paddy Bond for one, saying Jane Tate had them. “Oh, she’s been in and given them to me.” Then Bond read Joe O’Grady a lecture to the effect that as the thing was started in Birmingham nothing could be done about in in London. “Why in God’s name?” asked Joe. “You could do what we’re doing.” Finally Bond shut up. Joe O’Grady described him as “obstructive”. I am a bit afraid for the future unless I can bring these young people on without too much delay.
April 29 Friday: I went into Birkenhead looking for a typewriter that will type stencils but saw nothing under £45. There was a letter from Tony Coughlan. Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] will drive us to Carrick-on-Shannon next month [ie. for the Gralton School in Drumsna, Co. Leitrim which Declan Bree had invited him to speak at]. Also Michael Herbert wrote about the visit to Manchester and Michael Mortimer actually sent out a notice on time. I posted circulars regarding the Standing Committee and the London committee.
April 30 Saturday: I was up fairly early and went to the May Day procession assembly point at the Pier Head. It was a damp and gloomy day with a nasty East wind. Barney Morgan and Pat Doherty were there and later Joe O’Grady. Maeve Cocker (I think she is Jim Phelan’s daughter) was there. She knew Delia [ie. Delia Larkin, James Larkin’s sister, Larkin and his siblings having been born in Liverpool] and the Colgans. She had been to the “re-establishment” congress and was cock-a-hoop. Barney Morgan sold a “Democrat” to Sam Watts’s son. “Your father’s got one,” said Barney, “Are you living away from home?” He told him his father had kicked him out for reading “Seven Days“[ie. the journal of the official CPGB against whom various “anti-revisionist” dissidents were then campaigning]. How ridiculous can it get? John Gibson and Veronica Gibson were there. He is not well but is tearing off to London this afternoon. Doswell was there [ie. Councillor Doswell, a leading Labour Party figure on the Liverpool Trades Council], and the LSI man, James [It is unclear what “LSI” refers to, possibly Liverpool Socialist].
In the afternoon I gave a lecture on Connolly at the Labour History Museum. There must have been about fifty there, many of them people we did not know. Barney Morgan had sold nearly all his copies of the “Democrat” by the time we finished. As in London a number of younger people are joining the Connolly Association, and some of them were there, including young Ian Foster of the NCP, who seems a good lad. Lorraine Knowles had laid on tea and biscuits so that a good atmosphere was engendered, but the wretched video machine wouldn’t work so that the show had to be cancelled, despite the continued efforts of all kinds of experts.
Dónal Mac Craith was to have come to view the exhibition on behalf of the Brent Borough Council but did not show up. But Gerry Curran rang to the effect that he had been to see the Ealing Borough Council who had expressed interest and also in Baron-Cohen’s efforts. I had a word with Lorraine Knowles about this and she promised to give them all the information they needed. Afterwards I went for a drink with Pat Doherty, after which we went to the Chinese restaurant in Lime Street and had a meal.
May 1 Sunday: It was showery. I didn’t get out though the garden is completely overgrown. Unless there is some dry weather I’ll never regain control of it. I did my accounts and wrote a few letters, but apart from that did little but read the paper. In the evening I listened to the Brecht operetta, “Die Massnahme”, with music by Hans Eisler [An agitprop cantata by Brecht, rendered in English as “The Decision” or “The Measure Taken”]. It was a product of the “class against class” epoch [ie. from the mid-1920s to the early 1930s in Comintern policy]; one could see the crudities of the time that Baron-Cohen is reviving. Yet there was a certain vividness in the music, though how he must have loved the timpani. It was banging away all the time.
May 2 Monday: Another gloomy, wet, showery day. Apart from going to buy a newspaper I stayed indoors, did a bit of clearing-up and wrote some more letters.
May 3 Tuesday: I went into the city in the afternoon with the object of doing some shopping. However, a fierce and prolonged thunderstorm blew up from the Southeast with torrential rain. I waited in a coffee shop in Ranelagh Street, then got as far as Bold Street where I was marooned until 5.30 when the Greek restaurant opened and I had dinner there. It finally stopped raining at 6.45 and I went to the Andino for the Branch committee meeting. They all turned up but one, AOT [name unknown], Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty, Michael Mortimer, Ian Foster and the Dublin woman. On the whole it was a very satisfactory meeting and marks a transition point in Liverpool. But Barney Morgan is thinking of going to live in Crete and is trying to learn Greek. Nobody knows more people in Liverpool and he would be a severe loss.
May 4 Wednesday: It was mainly dry today, but cloudy and cool. I didn’t go out except to the shops. With the seamen’s strike extending I’m wondering how to get to Ireland next week. I had a word with Jane Tate who has been in the Lake District for a week. I also spoke to Barney Morgan and Tony Coughlan, though how I am to get across, as I say, I don’t know. B+I are still running. I tried to get Noel Harris but he was out. ACCTT has gone on record for withdrawal from Ireland [ie. the Cinematograph Union for which Noel Harris worked].
May 5 Thursday: The day began mild but cloudy but the wind was in the Southwest and when the sun came out it was very pleasant. I got in a couple of hours in the garden and started on the Northwest bed that was cultivated last year and is too hard going. I went out as far as the post. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning about the trip to Manchester. In the afternoon I saw an ambulance and a group of children outside No.120 Mount Road. There was Mrs Marsden lying on a stretcher, white as a sheet as I could see from a distance. She looked a “goner”, but perhaps they will pull her round.
I managed to contact Noel Harris in the evening. The ACTT has passed a resolution at its annual conference demanding withdrawal from Ireland, which he says was seconded by the Belfast branch. I think they probably have a good number of Billy McCullough’s members [McCullough had been chairman of the Belfast Trades Council in the 1960s and a leading member of the CPNI]. The BBC people objected, but he does not expect them to leave the union.
May 6 Friday: Today was such as I have not seen for several years – fine and warm, with temperatures in the high sixties. Barney Morgan called and left me into Birkenhead where I bought a typewriter with a long carriage for heavy work. Then I went into the city, had lunch, bought Irish currency and later did some work on a review.
May 7 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London on the 9.50 and had lunch with Jane Tate. Then we went to the office. Charlie Cunningham was in the shop, and those who came to the conference preparations committee were Martin Moriarty, Kelly, his friend (a red hot Republican like himself) and a quiet young man whose name I do not know. There was quite a bit done. Pat Bond made a flying visit but cleared off without speaking. I suspect he wanted to know if the meeting materialised. I came back the same night.
Jane Tate told me that Liberation were holding a Brockway Memorial meeting [Fenner Brockway, 1888-1988, the former MP and member of the House of Lords, had for years been chairman of “Liberation”, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom. He had died on 28 April, aged 100. He used be known in the House of Commons as the “Member for the Colonies”. He it was who on 12 May 1971 proposed in the House of Lords the Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland which Desmond Greaves had drafted, with Arthur Latham MP proposing it on the same day in the House of Commons]. Pat Bond has joined the re-establishers [ie. the Communist Campaign Group which was planning to establish a new CP to replace the CPGB and which later became the Communist Party of Britain]. Stella is thinking it over.
On the way to London I joined Veronica Gibson, who was going to see her youngest son shortly to go to India.
May 8 Sunday: Today was dull, though mild. I didn’t go out or indeed get much done. I rang Gerry Curran in the evening. Pat Bond and Stella stuff all the wrong things into my pigeonhole. He is only interested in himself. A book written by Michael Carritt was among my papers [Michael Carritt, 1906-1990; his autobiography, titled “A Mole in the Crown: Memoirs of a British official in India”, was published in 1986]. It should have been sent to Gerry Curran [ie. for review in the “Irish Democrat”], also material from “Liberation” dated mid-April, and the bank statements that should have gone to Pat O’Donohue. Gerry Curran said Mary particularly wanted me to review her book so it would have reached me anyway [It is not known who Mary was or what book is referred to here]. He has the same trouble with Peter Mulligan. The Irish Publishers Association invited Gerry Curran to a function and sent an express letter asking him to accept his invitation on account of his services to Irish publishing. Pat Bond sent it on a week after the date. Gerry asked him why the delay. “Oh – I wasn’t interested.” But if he were interested he’d go himself! He rang at midday – he always chooses mealtimes. He wanted to apologise for rushing off! Pat Bond apologising. What next? Of course the real reason is that he wanted to know what happened yesterday. He can’t wait till he gets the report. He must know first. Gerry Curran thinks it is just childishness. “He’ll never change now,” as Gerry says.
May 9 Monday: I lost most of today tracking down B+I whose line was constantly engaged. In the end I went to their office in Water Street and got a booking for Thursday. I had heard nothing from Scotland, something I thought might be due to the campaign the Northern CPI is waging there in favour of a “devolved assembly”. I had been laying off Ellen MitchelI while she was ill, but I rang her tonight. She was out and Kevin answered. I thought him extremely cool. He said she would ring back. Then Peter Mulligan rang and I told him about this. He said he had sent her £40 worth of Xmas cards and books and she had ignored his invoices, also that Pat Bond was plying her with work and ringing her up all the time. That bloody fellow Bond! We haven’t seen young Michael Brennan since Pat Bond persuaded him to be Southeast London secretary “for a year”. To him politics is self-expression and other people are the agents of his gratification. And he’s for ever on the telephone.
May 10 Tuesday: It struck me that the Mitchells are in a state of political terror owing to the Glasgow soldiers who were bumped off by the IRA in Holland. So though neither Pat Bond nor Peter Mulligan help by their interventions, of which I am kept in the dark, something more specific has struck them. I therefore wrote – needless to say, she did not ring back last night – asking if there was an adverse reaction and suggesting we postpone the Edinburgh conference. I said I would ring her again. A letter from Nottingham said the Lodziac whom we had invited on the 25th, could not be available any Wednesday till July. I rang Joe O’Grady asking him to book the AUEW [ie. a meeting room in the Engineering Union offices] for July 20th, and I wrote to Michael Mortimer. Around 6 pm. Tony Coughlan rang. I did a few minutes in the garden. Then later Gerry Curran announced he was coming to Liverpool to see the Connolly Exhibition next Tuesday. I wrote to Michael Mortimer.
May 11 Wednesday: I had been trying to get hold of Michael Kneafsey, but he rang this morning saying the meeting in St. Helens was next Thursday. I had thought it was Tuesday. I think there is some truth in George Davies’ assertion that he and Martin Moriarty (and probably John Gibson also) are “Straight Left,” one of the communist factions. The CPI has been advertising for students at a school at which they will no doubt present their “devolved assembly” nonsense. Kneafsey says he wants to go and that Martin Moriarty also wants to go. So they are in touch. But he dissents from the “devolved assembly” policy (as Joe Deighan does) and also deplores the irregular way the thing was organised – a gross interference in the territory of the CPGB. They have been peddling the same rubbish in Scotland. I have little doubt that it is the Trade Union element, the descendants of Andy Barr [Leading Northern Ireland trade unionist and CPNI member. Greaves regarded Barr and other leading Northern Ireland trade unionists as holding an “economist” position on the national question, partly to bolster their positions in the Trade Union movement. If they were in the CPNI or CPI, as Barr had been, he regarded their party’s desire to protect these trade union links as encouraging them to adopt an opportunistic stand on the national question.]
I had a word also with Joe O’Grady and wrote to Barney Morgan. I also spoke to Jane Tate. She is going to be away most of May and half of June, and probably will miss the next two London members’ meetings, and says the great thing is to get the young people there, her reservation being that I’ve got to spend two days on them, while she doesn’t bother. However, she is not a Pat Bond. We haven’t seen Michael Brennan for some time. “I wonder if Pat Bond has had a quarrel with him,” she says. Meanwhile all efforts to contact Michael Mortimer have failed.
May 12 Thursday (Dublin): I went to Rock Ferry, then discovered I had left my watch behind. I had one and a half hours in hand as I intended to have a meal in Chester. So I came back for the watch. This lost half an hour. Then I learned that the Underground had broken down. This lost another half hour, so bang went the meal in Chester. However I reached Caergybi safely. There was then a one-and-a-half-hour delay because of extra traffic due to the Sealink strike. Finally at the Ferryport Tony Coughlan and Cathal MacLiam and Muriel were there to meet me and we went into town.
May 13 Friday: I spent the day in Dublin, had lunch at Bernardos [in Lincoln Place] with Tony Coughlan and then called in to see Michael O’Riordan. Sean Nolan was there, looking a bit frail. Michael had been unwell and he is walking with a stick. He had several operations in Moscow to his eyes, which now contain some fine wires, and to his stomach where there were incipient ulcers. I would not have thought him the worrying type that gets ulcers, but maybe he is. Niall Farrell had given a press conference accusing the Prime Minister of personally ordering the Gibraltar murders. Apparently he is very upset. I tackled Michael O’Riordan about the Belfast school and the irregular way it was being called, and warned him that anybody could go along there, no matter what their role. He listened, but it’s too late to change it now. I also tackled him about the “devolved assembly” and told him if there was to be any devolution in Ireland, the Irish must devolve themselves. “It’s party policy,” he said, but then hinted that it would be changed at the next Congress. We parted on the most amicable terms. In the evening Eddie Cowman called in. He is 35 and still looks 21.
May 14 Saturday: Cathal called early and drove the three of us [ie. Cathal MacLiam, Anthony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear] to Carrick-on-Shannon on a beautiful spring day. We arrived in time to hear Doris Daly completing a most pessimistic and defeatist description of the state of the Irish in Britain [Doris Daly was a CA member in London]. She is a native of Co. Leitrim and was there on holiday. Then I gave a talk on the Labour movement. There was a reasonable crowd there, though they professed to be disappointed. There were Declan Bree, now an Alderman, Joe Deighan, Bobby Heatley, Gerald O’Reilly, Seán Cronin, Peter O’Connor, Eoin Ó Murchú, John Meehan, Niall Farrell and his wife, Dorothy Deighan, Packie Early and Pat Byrne[Gerald O’Reilly, former Trade Union activist in New York and 1930s Republican Congress member, was on a holiday visit to Ireland; Sean Cronin had been Chief-of-Staff of the IRA in the 1950s and was also on holiday from New York where he and his American wife were then living; Packie Early had been a member of the CA in London in the 1940s and was active later in the CPI and the Kilmainham Jail Restoration Committee].
I had many interesting discussions during the break. Peter O’Connor gave me a copy of “The Spirit of the Nation” to transmit to Gerry Curran [This was an anthology of patriotic ballads and poems]. Kevin McCorry was there too and he and Bobby Heatley gave me a copy of a new Civil Rights manifesto [This had been produced by the “Campaign for Democracy” group which they had established in Belfast along with Joe Deighan, John McClelland, Roger Kelly and others, mostly former Connolly Association members]. There was a young lad from the Labour youth who seemed very promising. They have kicked out the “Militants”, which is all to the good. Joe Deighan told me that when he first opposed this “devolved assembly” business he was in a minority of one. Last time he only just lost. He is confident of carrying it next time. Kevin McCorry has left the CPI because of this. “They’re getting nowhere.”
I had a talk with Niall Farrell. He is terribly cut-up and is in that disorientated frame of mind where he is looking for scapegoats near at hand [His sister, Mairéad Farrell, had been killed together with her two IRA companions in Gibraltar by SAS soldiers in March that year, although they were unarmed].His wife, who is a very decent woman, confirmed this. At one point he said, “I wonder what I’m doing wasting my time in politics. Why don’t I get a gun and bump three or four people off.” He intends to go to Gibraltar. I had a talk with Gerald O’Reilly and Declan Bree. Finally we got back to Dublin at about 10 pm., and Cathal had supper at 24 Crawford Avenue [Where Greaves was staying at Anthony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear’s house].
May 15 Sunday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to the Ferryport and went to Caergybi and so back to Liverpool. Nothing much happened.
May 16 Monday: The fine weather continued, but I didn’t go anywhere and got precious little done but a review of Austen Morgan’s book for the “Morning Star”.
May 17 Tuesday: I met Gerry Curran at Lime Street and we went to the Labour History Museum to see Lorraine Knowles. Gerry is trying to get the Connolly Exhibition to London. We had dinner at the Italian, which has gone off, and waited for Barney Morgan and Michael Mortimer at Flanagan’s, but they did not show up.
May 18 Wednesday: I met Gerry Curran again and we went to the Maritime Museum, then crossed in the ferry to have lunch in the Chinese three-star restaurant. Then we met Joe O’Grady at the Triskel and Gerry caught the 4.10 pm. Joe had been in touch with Barney Morgan, who said he had had a motor accident but was unharmed but delayed. Later Barney rang up to say the same.
May 19 Thursday: Michael Kneafsey rang in the morning about the St. Helens meeting. He is going to this jamboree in Belfast. On Tuesday evening Gerry Curran and I went to Professor Buckland’s seminar in the University History School. He was pleased to see me and introduced me to the representative of the Catholic Archdiocese on his committee. So he is drawing in the Establishment. The speaker was a Professor Edwards who had been at TCD, quite a decent fellow. But as Gerry Curran remarked, like all of them living in a paper world.
This afternoon Derek O’Flaherty telephoned. He was intending to have a Connolly Association conference in Brent. Now he finds the Trades Council has beaten him to it – I dare say deliberately. He committed the tactical error of proposing a joint one. They agreed – but they had already booked Bernadette Devlin. They then suggested that he get a TUIUI speaker and the Connolly Association pay for it [TUIUI, the Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence, had been set up by Sean Redmond and others a few years previously to improve the Irish Labour Movement’s position on the national question]. I said No. I smell Trotskyism. But I asked him to speak in Coventry for the “Morning Star” supporters group and he agreed.
I met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street and we went to St. Helens, where there was quite a successful meeting, organised by Kneafsey and the local Trades Council. They have affiliated [ie. to the Connolly Association]. Kneafsey decided to take ten papers a month for St. Helens.
May 20 Friday: The weather is taking up again, though there was a slight nip in the air. I got an hour in the garden and wrote to Gerry Curran and Stella Bond. I only went as far as the pillar box.
May 21 Saturday (London/Liverpool): Today was an almost unmitigated disaster. I went to London for the Preparations Committee and nobody turned up, though Derek O’Flaherty rang to say he would be late. So I bought a bottle of wine, which Charlie Cunningham and I were drinking from when Derek arrived. I think he is the best of the young people and he has the advantage of being Irish born. Of those who volunteered for the committee three had shown up. Two of them are rabid Sinn Feins, while the other didn’t open his mouth. The London scene is deplorable. All I could do was to come back.
May 22 Sunday: The weather was fine and but for a rather strong East wind I might have gone cycling, a rarity these days. I did manage a little more on the Northwest bed in the West garden and put some marrow seeds in pots. I also started on the paper. I have been wondering about London. There is no leadership and no direction, not even as much as Paul Gilhooley could give. Pat Bond ran a jumble sale yesterday in aid of Doris Daly’s performance of Connolly’s play. I would not be surprised if that’s where some of the London committee had gone. He told me nothing of it. He pleases himself. Now if we allowed him to appoint Theresa McFry, we could make her London secretary for a year and see how she did. But I fear she would be so badly brought up by Pat Bond that the thing would lose us £8,000 to no effect. I think Bond’s example affected Paul Gilhooley. He is a total egotist and treats the whole thing as his hobby. What gives him the right? The possession of money [Pat Bond, one of the Bonds of Castlebond, Co. Longford, was relatively well off and had given generous financial assistance to the Connolly Association over the years]. The only one able to oppose him is Jane Tate, and Charlie Cunningham tells me he spent an afternoon denouncing her. I have a rare problem on my hands, as all discipline is destroyed.
May 23 Monday: I spent the whole day on the paper and got two pages off. I have too much copy this month.
May 24 Tuesday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the members’ meeting. Only ten turned up – Pat Bond, Martin Moriarty, Michael Brennan and a few newer members, also Charlie Cunningham. But there was a useful discussion and I raised the question of having a London secretary. After the meeting Martin Moriarty told me privately that he is resigning from the “Morning Star” and going to work on transport research in Grays Inn Road [ie. for the Transport and General Workers’ Union on that street]. He is prepared to become the London secretary. Michael Brennan, whom I wrote to, is hoping to work for the NUR [National Union of Railwaymen] in Euston Road. Derek O’Flaherty was tonight negotiating with Brent Trades Council over a conference. So we have a chairman, Michael Brennan, a secretary, Martin Moriarty, and one and possibly two committee members, all under 30. When I complained that local branches were not meeting Pat Bond piped up that East London were meeting next week. He had kept us in the dark. Partly he delights in displaying his possession of information that others don’t have, and he keeps tabs on everyone, including his wife, to see he is kept up to date. But I suspect this East London meeting involves some of his cronies, especially a man I was not so easy about politically. He contributed nothing to the general discussion. His method is totally petit-bourgeois, a word here and a word there, instead of a public discussion. I went to Euston for a sleeper.
May 25 Wednesday: I got five or six hours sleep – better than usual – and came to 124 Mount Road and got on with the paper. Then I went to the CA branch. There were only a few there. The notices had not gone out on time and Michael Mortimer was not there himself. Pat Doherty was there and Ian Foster who seems quite a decent young fellow. Pat Doherty commented, “I think George Davies would like to take over the Connolly Association.” I’m inclined to agree [ie. on behalf of the NCP, the New Communist Party, which originated in the breakaway of its Sussex District, led by Sid French, from the CPGB in 1977].
May 26 Thursday: I got most of the paper off. George Davies rang and we arranged to meet next Wednesday. He had told Joe O’Grady of his Blackburn plans, and he seems to have swallowed them uncritically. Of course I must learn the details. Jean Brown called to draw attention to the knee-deep water in Mount Road. She said Mrs Marsden fell and broke her hip. That has mended fairly well, but the senile dementia has worsened and she will hardly return home to live on her own. She forgets what time of day it is. Her next-of-kin is in Norwich and is too lazy to come. But it is likely that the house will have to be sold to keep her in a nursing home at £300 a week. But if she gets £36,000 for it, it will only keep her for two years.
May 27 Friday: Joe O’Grady rang in the morning. I posted off the last page of the paper and went into the city to get a map of Manchester in connection with our visit there on Sunday.
May 28 Saturday: A disturbing letter from Joe Deighan arrived this morning. He sent no copy this month, but as I had a surfeit I did not ring him. Now he tells me that about a week after Carrick-on-Shannon he suffered a severe anal haemorrhage. He went to a doctor who subjected him to a painful examination and then told him there was a small lump that a specialist must examine. He had hoped to write the article but felt too lethargic. He had no energy. He says he is feeling better now, as the previous discomfort has gone. He enclosed John Freeman’s reply to Kevin McCorry’s manifesto that in effect aims to re-establish NICRA [ie. the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, of which Kevin McCorry had been full-time organiser in the early 1970s]. I doubt it will succeed. He thinks the three Morrisseys wrote it for him [ie. Belfast CPI member Michael Morrissey, his wife Hazel and his father Seán]. Hazel Morrissey made another trip to the USA to oppose the “MacBride principles” and Dorothy Deighan says she should be expelled from the CPI. Her husband has “submitted a document” opposing the present stance on the national question, in which he leans over backwards to accommodate the “Protestant tradition”. Joe Bowers [Belfast Trade Unionist and CPI member] says he is in a minority of one and thinks he lives in an “academic cloud-cuckoo land”. Well, Bowers is bad enough himself!
George Davies rang. He is going to this school for British “Communists and other Working-class Activists” the CPI is putting on in Belfast. One session is on “The Irish Question in the British Labour Movement.” I think it is gross interference – little as is the time I have for Gerry Pocock and company. George Davies’ reaction is that it shows that at last they are taking the NCP seriously. Hm. The cost is £89 a delegate.
May 29 Sunday: A queer day today. I was due to meet Joe O’Grady and take the 1.52 to Manchester. Although I had half a mind to take lunch in town, I had it at home but having time in hand left early, and a good thing I did, for when I reached Hamilton Square weren’t there five fire-engines outside the station and firemen saying the trains were off. I had to take the boat [ie. to cross the Mersey from Birkenhead to Liverpool]. Fortunately I got a taxi at the Pier Head, but even then did not reach Lime Street till 1.40 pm. There was no sign of Joe O’Grady, so I assumed he had got on the train. But there was no sign of him and I did not judge I had time to search. Michael Herbert and a lady to drive us were at Victoria [ie.Victoria Station in Manchester]. We went to Eddie Frow’s Library [ie. the Workingclass Movement Library, Salford, which Eddie and Ruth Frow had founded] where we were shown around. We then went to Trafford Road, Hulme, to the “Fenian Arch” and to Moston where the memorial is sadly defaced by the “National Front” vandals [Moston cemetery contained the monument to the Manchester Martyrs]. I could not find the Sean Morgan grave, but it is thirty years or more since I saw it [Sean Morgan had been killed in an IRA incident in Manchester during the Irish War of Independence in 1921]. They then dropped me at Piccadilly where there is now a passable restaurant – “privatised” – and I saw there was no convenient train. I took a taxi back to Victoria as the heavens opened. The driver couldn’t change a £5 note and I had to get change in the rain. However, all was well. The train went like the wind, taking just under 35 minutes to Lime Street. When I rang Joe O’Grady he said he was at Lime Street early and was waiting for me by the escalator, unaware that the trains were not running. He did occasionally walk around. Of course if he had stayed by the platform from which the train went, he would not have missed me.
May 30 Monday: It was a showery day, so that I could do nothing in the garden – and quite chilly too. I got precious little else done either. I’m a bit lacking in energy these days. Whether it is due to advancing years or to not having a holiday last year, is hard to say. I’ll try to get a few days in June, and then have a proper holiday in September and October. I tried to get Michael Herbert but the lines were engaged – why I can’t imagine. So I wrote, also to Jimmy McGill [A longstanding CA member in Manchester who ran a bookshop] and James King about Manchester.
May 31 Tuesday: I tried a new route to Ripley, taking the newly established Liverpool-Norwich train to Alfreton and a taxi from there. It is a bit slow as there is no main-line stretch, but the country is much more interesting. The paper went well. I took a bus to Chesterfield, but it got behind some slow-moving wagons and I think I just missed the Sheffield train. I got a Newcastle train to Sheffield and changed again at Manchester. But on the whole it was a welcome change and next time I may cut Chesterfield out and use Alfreton on the way back.
(End of Volume 37; c. 60,000 words)