1 June 1973 – 31 March 1974
Themes: Refurbishment of his house and some assiduous gardening – The Provisional IRA bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and Britain increases interest in the Irish issue but narrows the basis of public support – Conversation with Bobby Heatley from Belfast (7.18) – Funeral of Pat Devine (7.28) – Problems in getting British Labour Movement support in Manchester, Birmingham, Luton, Oxford, Northampton – Recollections of his originally going full-time on the Irish question in 1951: “I was launched on a career of poverty and immediately every rascal within reach brought pressure to see that I didn’t succeed” (9.3) – Assessment of the CPGB leadership following a meeting with their Political Committee: “I could sense the feeling of ineffectiveness” (9.4) – Reaching the age of 60: “Middle-age is finished and old age begins…I have to do some thinking” (9.27) – Hostelling holiday in Wales (9.27-10.15) – Persuading the CPGB’s Political Committee and representatives of the CPI to adopt the demand for a British Declaration of Intent to work towards complete withdrawal from Ireland: “I wanted a declaration of intent that would let the ‘Provisionals’ off the hook, allow them to declare a ceasefire and thus put the Orangemen on the spot as the troublemakers.”(10.23); but lack of enthusiasm for this course on the part of some Belfast “Orange communists” and the “Official” Republican-influenced NICRA – Preparing for the February 1974 general election that brought Harold Wilson’s Labour Party to office as a minority Government – Criticism of the CPGB’s Gordon McLennan for standing against Connolly Association supporter A.W. “Jock” Stallard MP in St Pancras North – Connolly Association House of Commons lobby by on the harassment of NICRA members in Belfast and for the transfer of Irish political prisoners from Britain to Northern Ireland – Speaking tour in Britain by NICRA official Madge Davison and persuading her to assess Irish events as Belfast communists Betty Sinclair rather than Jimmy Stewart saw them and to advocate support for Connolly Association policy as the most progressive course to follow in Britain – Editing a book of Irish political songs, with musical notation, for the Workers’ Music Association, eventually published as “The Easter Rising in Song and Ballad”, Kahn and Averill, London, 1980
June 1 Friday (Liverpool): The weather was reasonably fine, though cooler, and I spent most of the day working in the garden, which is now looking passable though there is plenty more to be done. Ashford and his nephew were here. They did not bring enough timber – the disorganisation of Ashford is quite incredible. He seems not to plan anything beforehand. Bloor called while they were debating the construction of the box that is to conceal the new support and they discovered there was a false alignment. There’s no such thing as a right angle in the building trade,” declared the architect.
“But surely there should be.” “Oh yes, of course.”
Ashford was upset by the death of his pet cat which he has had for thirteen years. “The vet told us he had cancer of the pancreas. So he gave him an injection. I was crying when I took it out to bury. It’s a damned shame,” he added with feeling. So here’s an aspect of his character. Meanwhile the job goes incredibly slowly and he is bound to lose money if I insist on the letter of the estimate. I shortened things by deciding to use electric heating only and dispense with the proposed gas fire. The room will be the better without it.
I had a phone call from Tony Coughlan who says that Waltons have agreed to allow us to publish their copyright songs, of which I sent a list to Dublin. So now I must get an estimate from a printer. This songbook is of course something of a pot-boiler. I told them I would charge £100 plus any reasonable out of pocket expenses, but first make sure the venture can make a profit.
June 2 Saturday: The weather is taking up and I got more done in the garden, and Ashford put in a whole day.
June 3 Sunday: I was kept at home all day because Ashford put in the morning on the job. He is now getting alarmed and is prepared to work in the evening as well.
June 4 Monday: Ashford was here all day. Around lunchtime his wife called. She struck me as an extremely pleasant civilized woman with no obvious signs of the neurasthenia ascribed to her by Fred Brown [Mr and Mrs Brown were his next door neighbours on Mount Road, Prenton, Birkenhead]. She was taking a group of blind people to Moreton for the afternoon, and apparently does quite a deal of this kind of social work. I continued with the garden.
June 5 Tuesday: Ashford made the gap for the new window today. And in the evening while he was away the nephew came. A few days should surely finish it. There is a clear resemblance between Ashford and Charlie Cunningham – the same ridiculous care of detail and determination never to skimp. I remarked to the nephew that Ashford was a good workman.
“Definitely. But if I was to work with him for a couple of days he’d drive me up the wall.”
“He’d be telling me I was putting the paint on upside down.”
I asked how it was that he could master the technique of so many trades. He explained that his father was a builder – “in a very mild way.” He thus had unique experience.
I had brought some silica gel from Hansons in Myrtle St. When Bloor said Pilkingtons avoided condensation by enclosing dry air between two glass surfaces in their double-glazing units, I said, “I can dry air quite as well as Pilkingtons” and got the silica gel and two dishes for each cell of the double or rather treble-glazed window.
June 6 Wednesday (London): I caught the 9.40 to Euston and came into the office and found Stella Bond there. Luton Trades Council have responded but no word from Brent, nor the address of Harrow promised by Bert Edwards. He, incidentally, was still talking of being the son-in-law of James Connolly at the Liverpool meeting and claiming to have been the unwitting cause of the police charge on Bloody Sunday [ie. in Derry] through climbing with some other boys on to the windowsills of the Northwestern Hotel and being pulled down by the police, with the result that scuffles began.
The Central Branch met in the evening. It was not well attended. Sean Redmond is at Blackpool, Charlie Cunningham was in the chair, we have lost Pat Hensey, Pat O’Donohue is with West, [ie. the West London CA branch] Jane Tate, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Chris Sullivan, Mabel Donovan, John Guilfoyle (with cabbages off his allotment for us all – recently he offered Jane Tate a “bucket of gooseberries”!), Elsie O’Dowling and one or two more were there. The whole thing reflects Sean Redmond’s lack of imagination and bureaucracy. He will always remember to do any agreed organisational thing but has no notion of political progress in a movement. Jim Kelly who was also there accused them of being sleepy. He has vastly improved in his personal relations and though inclined to talk too much, like many solitary individuals, he has become much more aware of other people and their feelings.
June 7 Thursday: This was a busy day as I had nobody to help. I was busy on the lobby getting out factual statements and reminders from 9.00 am. till 11.15 pm. In the morning two tall athletic gentlemen knocked at the door.
“We are selling copying machines,” said one. “Do you want one?”
“Why,” said I, “we do not. Besides I’m not the boss.”
“You haven’t got one already?” the taller one said, looking all round the office
“No, not at all.”
They were the queerest salesman I ever saw. And I would not be surprised if a photocopy figured in some of the trials that are going on. Once they were satisfied that we hadn’t one they were not interested further.
I spoke to Michael Crowe late at night. He hopes to come on Tuesday. He had forgotten to follow up Lenny Draper’s offer to take the empty flat in Victoria Grove.
Toni Curran was to have shown “Mise Eire”, the film, in Hanwell. But though it was sent by parcel post a fortnight ago and many efforts were made to trace it, it did not arrive. Fortunately Toni was able to go to Ilford and collect “The Dawn” from the Shieldses. At about 7 pm. Brian Crowley appeared saying he would do some work in the bookshop.
“You’ve heard about the film show?”
He looked as if he was about to impart some exceptionally good news
“The show’s off.”
“No. They’re showing ‘The Dawn.’”
“Oh, that. I would have gone to ‘Mise Eire’ myself.” Anything that is our own must be rated a poor thing, and this is the essence of that gentleman’s psychology.
June 8 Friday: Gray’s Inn Road was like Dante’s Inferno, with blazing sunshine reflected off hot walls, and road menders boiling vast tanks of asphalt and burning oil to melt the top surface of the road. In the afternoon Toni Curran came in. She told me that Brian Crowley had telephoned her and commiserated with her most patronisingly on the failure of her show. But as it turned out, it was a great success and they met their expenses. Now the film arrived this morning. The parcel was in ribbons. The lid was rising off one container, about six feet of film was torn to shreds and the spool was badly dented. One knows the Post Office has wonderful destructive powers and does not lack energy in their pursuit, but one guess is they may have had assistance in this instance.
I went to Luton. Tony Donaghey had called a meeting to discuss sending a delegation to Belfast and we found George Slessor, Michael Howell, Tony Donaghey himself, an incredibly foolish Trotsky French girl and (they came in later) a few more. One, being asked whom he represented, declared, “Sinn Fein Provisional”. The second was somewhat defiant. He was a decent old fellow awfully frustrated by past and present wrongs, but generally agreeable to what we are doing. Then there was a newly elected Labour Councillor from the Bogside. I asked Michael Howell why these were here. He explained that Slessor was a trifle naive and was liable to invite anybody he met who seemed halfway suitable. But all our proposals were acceptable in principle, although the Trotsky girl nearly drove Slessor mad. In the public house afterwards the Councillor was telling Slessor that he should join the Labour Party and this would transform it. But Slessor thought the Councillor should have a go at transforming it himself, then ask him again in the light of results. “We lose all our best people,” complained the Councillor. “You can hardly have lost me,” responded Slessor, “when you never had me.” Now it is interesting that Slessor comes from the Highlands near Spean Bridge. But he speaks like an Englishman.
June 9 Saturday: I was in the office early. Charlie Cunningham was the first in. Then came Brian Crowley and Pat O’Donohue and Jim Kelly. Charlie Cunningham was telling me about the dances run by the Hammersmith Trades Council in aid of the strike in Plymouth. The place was crowded. But at the end a Dublin man, Martin, seized the stage and engaged in a slanging match with people on the floor. Charlie went downstairs and saw the secretary Erhardt Nielsen talking with an International Socialist girl and it seems that his wife was animadverting on the subject of the second relationship. Meanwhile the excellent dance went to hell for lack of control. Afterwards others were drawn into the quarrel. So Charlie Cunningham expects little progress in that quarter.
About 2 pm. Alf Ward rang. He is anxious to have Tony Coughlan in Oxford. Also Lenny Draper, and Michael Crowe rang on the same subject. Later at about 5 pm. Michael Howell and Slessor came from the Home Counties Federation of Trades Councils meeting. I had heard from Betty Sinclair that Mick Leahy was talking of an Oxford trip to Belfast. Alf Ward told me that NICROC [Oxford NICRA “branch” or support group] and the Community Relations people would be on it. Of course the suspicion is that it may be one of Leahy’s projects to put money in his pocket, as he wishes to exclude the Connolly Association. I decided to try and see Tanvir and get it changed. However, Slessor said he had mentioned the Luton initiative at his meeting, and Oxford said something about coming in. I was able to tell them about Leahy and that the Oxford Trades Council passed the resolution of support “in principle” only last night.
June 10 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day and Charlie Cunningham from the afternoon. He had received a circular from Colin Sweet [of the British Peace Committee]. In it he announced that on the occasion of the Connolly Association lobby (spelled out brazenly) he had got Jock Stallard to book a room where he would meet members of the executive of the British Peace Committee. There was not a word about anything being done for Ireland, but it was noted that this was a good opportunity for members of the Executive Committee to meet MPs they had not met before. So Woddis and Bill Dunne were 100% right in their accusation [ie. regarding Colin Sweet] that he “tries to take things over”.
June 11 Monday: I was in the office all day. In the evening we had a Finance Committee. Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly, Toni Curran, Charlie Cunningham and myself were there and Jane Tate came in. Our main problem arises from Akram’s defaulting on six months’ rent and Seifert’s dilatoriness in going after him. The circulation position has slightly improved and could be much more improved. The main donations come from extra given to sellers by the Irish. There has not been a single English donor in three months – leaving aside former residents in Ireland like Oldacre. Pat O’Donohue was in a filthy mood on Saturday and afterwards explained to Toni Curren that the atmosphere had so depressed him that he quarrelled with people when he didn’t wish to. But tonight he was in good form.
June 12 Tuesday: I had a phone call from Toni Curran. Seifert has given Akram notice to quit and has issued one writ, but apparently it has not been served. She had Brian Crowley with them on Sunday. This arose from his opposition to developing the Irish Democrat, which he professes to regard as unimportant. She found that there was absolutely no common ground. He was opposed to the lobby. Indeed to everything. Seemingly in Ireland he was a salesman – like the snake O’Shea [ie. Greaves’s old political antagonist in the early 1950s , Fred O’Shea from Waterford] – and can thus smile and be a villain. Apparently he is here twelve years, has brothers and sisters and has never, or hardly ever, seen them since he left. Until he joined the Connolly Association he worked all day at one job and all evening at another. This he kept up for some time after he joined except for Wednesdays. He therefore qualifies for classification as an oddity.
At 1.00 pm. Michael Crowe arrived and told me about the madness in South Shields Trades Council. Then Sean Redmond told me Helga [ie. Mrs Helga MacLiam in Dublin] was in Luton, so I rang her up. I sent Michael Crowe down to the House of Commons to hold the fort while I did some work in the office. Then I went myself. Lenny Draper was there together with his brother, a pale studious-looking somewhat empty youth with a quiet girl similar to himself, and Bannister from Birmingham. Colin Sweet came and I said I had had no intimation that they were coming. They said they had written. Gordon McLennan was there [later CPGB General Secretary]. He had sent in for Stallard. “I want to tell him what our party’s position is,” said he. I thought to myself, so are others. They are all thinking primarily of their own organisations
“Is he your MP?” I asked McLennan.
“No. But I do most of my work in his constituency.”
“Going up against him for Parliament.”
“Why do you oppose him?”
“Well, I went up against his predecessor. Then he won in a by-election.”
“Would you reconsider it?”
“Well, we don’t oppose individuals, or contest on that basis. We could throw our whole electoral policy into confusion. But of course the position of the sitting Labour men would have an influence.”
I left him in no doubt that the Connolly Association would have to support Jock Stallard, and he agreed, which showed good sense, but added, “He’s good on the Irish question, but not so good on others.”
Then Stallard appeared and invited me to Colin Sweet’s meeting. As we went up he says, “They’re all crowding round now. Ireland has many new friends, the Peace Committee and Communist Party among them.” Of course as regards the latter there was an element of injustice. But the fact which struck him was that people are most anxious to do things when people see them doing them. In Sweet’s meeting we have first Joan Maynard in the chair. She struck me as a somewhat silly woman, playing with the Left. Stallard came in and opened with a few remarks on the Committee Stages of the Constitution Bill. He had asked me to draft an amendment to Section One. But when I called him over to see it he felt it was too strong – I was going to add “except in order to become part of a united Ireland”. Then Sweet took the floor, just as if he were the natural and titular leader on the Irish question, and of course what he said was sound enough in general principle, but having no notion of what had happened in the past he presented his case abstractly without reference to any of the stumbling blocks that exist. In the midst of his dissertation that went on for a quarter of an hour, Stan Orme and Tom Cox came in and Orme showed increasing signs of irritation. A young man who said he was a member of the Labour Party Executive made a leftist attack on the Parliamentarians. When Orme remonstrated he interrupted him. Their amendments were a waste of time. Something must be done to root out the evil at one pull. At that turn I decided to go below as Sean Redmond had not arrived. I found Stallard telephoning in the corridor. “This meeting’s a fuck-up,” he said. “I’ll send in a message that I’ve been called away by an urgent message. Come down to the bar.” He expressed the view that we have some rebels in want of a cause. Tom Cox soon joined us, so Stallard said he would propose the deletion of Section 1, but that I must send him some argument, which I undertook to do.
June 13 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to Liverpool and prepared some material which I posted to Stallard – some references to the Ireland Act 1949 and the summary of the Republican argument that the Northern Unionists were a minority in Ireland and had only minority rights.
June 14 Thursday: I finished the paper here and after posting the copy went to Manchester where Lenny Draper had called a meeting. Ben Ainley was there, Denis Maher, Stan Cole and one or two more. Ben Ainley announced that the Trades Council on the motion of Askins had decided to send their own delegation to Belfast. They had not got their delegation to the conference they were co-sponsors of, and consequently did not know that we were going on the same lines. I suggested we form an Ad Hoc Committee and work as was done in London, and that I should write to the Trades Council proposing a cooperative effort. I don’t know why Askins should jump the gun like this.
June 15 Friday: Ashford announced that he was going for a week’s holiday in the middle of the endless job and asked for £60 on account. I bought some carpet for the room which will come on Tuesday and asked Burtons to measure for new curtains. I got Toni Curran to contact Stallard to get the text of his speech which was referred to on the radio, but not at length. She told me he was very pleased and will send it on Monday. I also wrote to Stan Orme saying we were nothing to do with Sweet’s meeting.
June 16 Saturday: I should have got down to preparing a preface and epilogue for the Russian Edition [ie. of his book “The Irish Crisis”], but as the garden is dried up, bought a hose and saturated it.
June 17 Sunday: There was still plenty to be done in the garden and in the house so that I can see the Russians waiting for their thing. A letter from Cornforth urged me to get it to them in London on Friday week. He will then take it to Moscow.
June 18 Monday: I spent part of the day in the garden, where I have more vegetables than ever before, and the remainder on the paper.
June 19 Tuesday: The new piece of carpet was delivered, so that having measured it I was able to stain the surrounding timber.
June 20 Wednesday: In the morning Tony Coughlan arrived. He brought with him a cheque for £750 from Con Lehane [Dublin solicitor]. Apparently it was sent two months ago but we did not receive it. He has stopped payment and issued another. There might be another £1000 to come from the Savage legacy [ie. a legacy from an Irish-American donor who left money to be divided equally between the Official Republicans’ “United Irishman”, the CPI’s “Irish Socialist” and the Connolly Association’s “Irish Democrat”, each getting some £2000].
Tony Coughlan told me the news. Michael O’Riordan wants me to address a joint CP/Sinn Fein weekend school at the end of July, but Sean Redmond has the details. Why Sean Redmond? Because he was in Dublin last weekend looking for a job. There is little doubt that he is determined to get home. The pity is that it is taking the edge off his political imagination here, and it was never a very sharp edge. He is concentrating on historical subjects at meetings, such as require no action arising from them.
We went to the meeting at the Free Church Centre [ie. the regular meeting of the Liverpool branch of the Connolly Association]. Brian Stowell was there, and Mr and Mrs O’Doherty and Silvester Hutton – no Barney Morgan, no Pat MacLaughlin, and a good thing too, for Silvester Hutton said the last two lectures were the best thing in Liverpool for a year and that he would hand out leaflets at the Irish Centre before our next meeting. With Barney Morgan and Pat MacLaughlin out of the way we might get something. I am sorry I did not break with Pat MacLaughlin earlier, though of course I have tried not to make it personal. So even if the gathering was small the atmosphere was more tolerable.
June 21 Thursday: I had Tony Coughlan staying with me. Today I did very little but accompanied him to Manchester in the evening. Lenny Draper met us at Victoria. He told me that there was still confusion about the delegation and other matters, but that they were having a meeting on Saturday morning at Hathersage Rd. [ie. the Manchester CP Office]. At our own meeting tonight we had Belle Lalor, the Crowes and Lena Daly, plus the young emotional Clann na hEireann lad from Rochdale and one other. On the whole Tony Coughlan was satisfied.
June 22 Friday (London): Tony Coughlan went to Birmingham. I left for London only to find all the buses on strike and I could not get to the bank as well as catch the train. I deposited the £750 in my own account. I discussed with Toni Curran the notion that if I live on this at the same rate as I live on drawings from Connolly Publications [the company that published the “Irish Democrat”] I will be saving £30 a month tax. We resolved to check this with Brief and see if he agrees.
June 23 Saturday: I went to Manchester and had a talk with Vic Eddisford and Denis Maher [local CPGB officials]. Then Ben Ainley appeared. He told me that the Trades Council had agreed to our proposition and consequently all is in order. Lenny Draper had not appeared when I left for London. There Tony Coughlan appeared after a good meeting in Birmingham. He and I and Tony Donaghey were out in Camden Town in the evening. In the afternoon George Slessor called in to say Luton Trades Council had agreed to our proposal, but that some mysterious Trotsky group is circularizing for affiliation to a committee of “Trades Councils for Solidarity with Irish Workers” – strange how closely they always dog our footsteps. Two weeks after our first affiliation, from Ealing Trades Council, which I deliberately kept quiet so as not to alert them, they are onto it. Surely Trotskyism is the centre of counter-insurgency technique.
June 24 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning but as Tony Coughlan was addressing the Oxford branch at 7 pm. a few of us went to Oxford with him in hot weather, which however unfortunately changed to drizzle. Those who went with Tony were Jane Tate, Chris Sullivan and Pegeen O’Flaherty, now Pegeen O’Sullivan by rights. Brian Crowley rang up in the early afternoon saying he was going “by road” though he had said he would not do so. He appeared there with Pat White and Geraldine Joyce and Pat O’Donohue. These had been dubious about going. But at no point did Crowley ask if possibly Tony Coughlan required the facility of a lift. He makes his arrangements quietly among those he wishes to constitute his own little group. Toni Curran had him out to dinner and said that there was not a single thing in which he really agrees with us.
However, the meeting was well enough and the social afterwards was an enjoyable relaxation to them all.
June 25 Monday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool and found Ashford in the evening. He has not done anything today.
June 26 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs and Tony Coughlan and Chris Sullivan joined me there. Everything went well. We all three came back to Liverpool as Chris Sullivan (on holiday) is accompanying Tony Coughlan to Dublin. I am wondering about this marriage with Pegeen O’Flaherty. I thought for a moment she looked very old in Oxford. Each is accustomed to going his own way. She offered to go off on her own when he wanted a meal and she didn’t. But he went with her without complaint. Possibly if they make the fewest mutual demands they will be the wisest and they are old enough to know this.
Not much progress with the building.
June 27 Wednesday: I started on the Preface and Postscript for the Russian translation of The Irish Crisis but did little more than move around the contents.
June 28 Thursday: A letter came from Brief’s brother who is continuing the business. He said that my proposal to live on the £750 cheque bequeathed by Maguire while foregoing a salary from Connolly Publications was good common sense. I would draw £100 a month, which if drawn from Connolly Publications would involve the expenditure of £130. Any profit made by the company could be set against the losses of previous years. I wrote to Con Lehane asking for an indication in writing of the purpose of the legacy as it is of importance to know how far the deceased was precise in defining his wishes. I think it is simply for the purpose of supporting the Irish Democrat.
June 29 Friday: Ashford is still at it in his leisurely way, and the whole place is knee deep in plaster and powder.
June 30 Saturday (London): I came back to London on the morning train and found Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and the others as usual.
July 1 Sunday: We held a meeting of the Standing Committee this morning. I did not wait for Sean Redmond to return. He has not helped with the paper for weeks and I think he is unsettled because of the prospect of a Trade Union job in Dublin which he has applied for. He is also somewhat vague about the date of his return. Apparently he was induced to accept his present appointment on the half-promise that he would be “groomed” for the General Secretary’s position, but this has not come about. However he told Tony Coughlan that he did not expect to get the job. My concern is partly that if he does he will not get out the November paper.
However about Sean Redmond, the meeting was fruitful. There were Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Pegeen O’Flaherty and Pat O’Donohue, though this last one has a curious negativism which is hard to understand. One has to delve back into the memory to understand young people. They experience all kinds of absurd emotional blocks and are so busy thinking of themselves and establishing themselves to themselves, that they find it very hard just to get on with the business. Toni Curran thinks highly of him, but possibly this is because he is doing her job with the finances and thus freeing her for the political activity she prefers and enjoys.
A phone call came from Lenny Draper. Apparently all is well in Manchester and they want me to arrange a date with Betty Sinclair. We decided on a meeting with Jock Stallard on the 17th and a meeting in Hyde Park on the 18th, and a school in Oxford.
July 2 Monday: I rang Belfast but learned that Betty Sinclair is at the Irish TUC or some such function. She will be back next week. I managed to get quite a bit done in the office – arranging to produce a poster on the interned women and also holding the Stallard meeting.
July 3 Tuesday: I went on with the arrangements for the two meetings and arranged with Joe Deighan for material to be sent from Belfast.
July 4 Wednesday (Liverpool): A telephone call from Tony Chater’s secretary [Tony Chater, leading British CP member; from 1974 editor of the “Morning Star”] invited me to address a meeting of the Peace Sub-committee. Though it means returning to London a day earlier than I had intended, I agreed. I understand Colin Sweet is on this committee. The subject is the “solidarity movement”. I imagine this arises from Sweet’s activities and may be designed to clip his wings. Anybody with wings must look to them. So we will see. In the evening I went to address a public meeting organised by the Watling CP. It was one of the best I had attended for some time, and they seem a very decent crowd down there, but alas, all old. Then I took a train for Liverpool.
July 5 Thursday: I found a letter from Con Lehane’s son, saying the father was unwell. It contained the required information, and it seems his previous letter was sent to 374 Gray’s Inn Road. I forgot to say that Nicoletta Comi was here yesterday and that I sent Cornforth the additional paragraphs for the Russian translation of my book. Ashford has made little progress, I fear, but is now nearing the conclusion. I asked him to build a wall
July 6 Friday: The work inside is finished as Ashford put on a tremendous spurt today and worked until 9 pm.
July 7 Saturday: “Bob” duly arrived in the morning and the building began. The young fellow next door displayed visible signs of pleasure. “That will save me the job of mending the fence,” he said to “Bob” – a man so “Liverpool” that you would think he was Dublin and with an Irish face well blotched with booze. When it began to rise higher until it was 6 ft.3’ the young fellow was not quite so sure. After all he was well able to save himself the trouble of mending the fence. But at any rate there was no complaint. “Bob” knew him. Apparently he never works – that is a matter of observation. He spends all day driving a flashy car in and out of the drive and in the periods he is here he is dancing attendance on it. According to what “Bob” told Ashford he “got into trouble” in his boyhood, being “brought up very rough”, but then married into money. If that is so then there is no excuse for the failure to repair or replace the fence, but I doubt it. It more resembles the habits of the slums brought into the suburbs.
July 8 Sunday: Precious little was done today, though I began to replace things when I finally got moving.
July 9 Monday: I had expected “Bob” to put in an appearance, but Ashford came to do one or two small touchings-up and said he would come tomorrow. In the evening the Browns appeared back from a week in the Lake District. They told me the story of 811 Borough Road [ie. the adjacent house round the corner from Greaves’s]. The last people I knew were the Smiths. “Oh, they were nice,” said Jean, criticising the present ones by implication. Apparently when the Smiths left the place was bought by a man called Nugent. It was he who built the garage that obstructs Jean’s view and annoyed Phyllis so much. The reason I insisted on building the wall over six foot high was to get Phyllis’s own back by obstructing their view. But I might have saved myself the trouble. The Nugents are all dead. The old man died and his daughter brought her husband to live there. She was there when Phyllis was ill. I remember being one day on the way to the hospital and finding this woman on the bus. She knew Phyllis was not about and that I was. “Is there anything wrong?” she asked. “Not at all”, said I, following the general line of noli-me-tangere with No.811. Then I saw this woman around no more. Jean told me tonight that she died of cancer a year or two after Phyllis, and she got to know them because she went in to give injections. There were two daughters that Phyllis described as “hussies”. One of these is married, and again the husband was brought in, the young fellow with the car. And now another younger lad, who looks rather like his twenty-year-old brother, is to be seen there quite often, together with another girl. This may however be the younger daughter’s husband. And there is a baby just toddling.
Late at night Jane Tate rang me and brought Betty Sinclair on to the phone. She advised the month of September for the Manchester delegation.
July 10 Tuesday: “Bob” managed to build about 13 feet of wall six foot high before he ran out of bricks, so the gap is sealed and there is possibly another 14 feet to do when the part of the fence that is standing collapses. If I had had to buy bricks as well as labour, I should have had to pay about £15. So I was quite pleased. The barrier also forms a useful windbreak and will protect the house and garden from the North-West gales. I spent the day cleaning up in the house.
July 11 Wednesday: Ashford appeared and presented me with a bill for £220, so that the whole of the work has cost £380. I got the house reasonably cleared by midday and went to make some purchases. I have secured a very high platform ladder for cutting trees and suitable occupations. Indeed I managed to get quite a succession of bargains – not however of much counterbalance to the £380. At the same time, of the improvement there is no doubt, and I think the value of the property will be substantially enhanced. One annoying thing is that Toni Curran has forgotten to pay the telephone bill and I am incommunicado.
July 12 Thursday: This is the day everything went wrong. A letter came from Stella Bond saying (1) Sean Redmond has got the job in Dublin and starts on August 20th; (2) Edwina Stewart is in Hyde Park with Stallard next Sunday. The Highgate NICRA are arranging it and did not warn us; (3) Akram has paid £68, admits he owes another £68 but cannot pay it yet; (4) The school in Dublin I was to have gone to on 29 July is cancelled; (5) Tony Coughlan cannot act as tutor at ours. And all this going on and my telephone cut off.
I went to Manchester. Lenny Draper was there. Then Hoffman came. Ben Ainley had sent an apology. Now they all had to leave early. I told Hoffman that I had had a very nice letter from Colin Davies of the Manchester Trades Council accepting our proposals and all we had to do was to arrange about the meeting. But then Denis Maher came he astonished me by saying that the Manchester Trades Council resented our interference, wanted nothing to do with ad hoc committees and were determined to press on alone. This contradicted the letter in my possession. Then Stan Cole came, saying that he had been appointed by the Confederation [ie. the Confederation of Trades Councils] in pursuance of our arrangement and very vigorously opposed Maher who seemed to have been taken up with the narrow view of the Trades Council, and even asserted that a delegation was “their idea”. Afterwards Lenny Draper told me he thought Maher was a fool and would make a mess of anything he did. After getting back to Liverpool it struck me that possibly Davies had altered his stand after the Confederation had come in. That would explain the obvious discrepancy. Now Maher is at some party meeting tonight. I told him not to take any hasty decision but to let things ride. I doubt he will have the sense to tell them to hold their horses, or they to hold them if he did. If I had thought of the probable explanation in time I would have doubly impressed it. Now Askins is responsible for all this. He was at the International Affairs Committee [ie. of the CPGB] and I dare say has a finger in the Peace Committee pie. Cole said to us that one reason why the Trades Council is so hesitant is the way in which that mad woman Arrowsmith delayed the work and lost their members a day’s work by her tantrums [Pat Arrowsmith; peace campaigner and co-founder of British CND in 1957]. But of course if they had taken my advice they would not have responded to Sweet’s nonsense. This is the way they go on all the time, afraid to stand out when they can, and then trying to wriggle out when they can’t.
According to Lenny Draper the situation in the Irish community is woeful. Clann na hEireann [ie. the British support-group of the “Official” Republicans in Ireland] is doing nothing and doesn’t know what to do. The police are harassing both them and the Provisionals. The latter spend all their time listening to pop music in a bar and keeping out the sellers of all papers said to be tainted with the leprosy of “Officialdom”. The only one of them to sell their paper is the McAleer’s young son who, says Lenny Draper, has acquired the most wonderful Belfast accent (though his parents are from the West) with which to call out “Republican News”. Social Justice has finished [ie. the Manchester support group for the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice established by Patricia and Conn McCluskey] and even Ann Doherty is no longer to be seen. And weak as it is, the Connolly Association (which means Lenny Draper and a few Clann na hEireanns who prefer his meeting) alone is doing anything at all. To such straits has their wild impatience brought the lot of them.
July 13 Friday: I spent most of the day continuing clearing up the house after Ashford’s operations. The weather was wet and drizzly.
July 14 Saturday: I took the 12.30 to London and found Charlie Cunningham in the office. Of course both he and Pat Bond were wondering how to replace Sean Redmond, and his departure will especially weaken us in terms of relationship to the NCCL and suchlike [Sean Redmond had represented the Connolly Association on the executive councils of the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Movement for Colonial Freedom]. At the same time his very bureaucratic method of leadership (through papers and circulars) will be changed if we can find an alternative.
July 15 Sunday: The weather was warm and wet. We had put out handbills advertising a meeting in Hyde Park only to find that London NICRA, now describing themselves as “ICRA”, the “London support organisation of NICRA”, had arranged a demonstration. They had billed Edwina Stewart, Jock Stallard and (of all people) Trotsky of one brand Bob Purdie and Trotsky of another brand Bowes Egan. As it was abominably wet we decided to call ours off. In the evening we met Stallard who told us that he had not been there. They had invited him to speak without telling him the time or place and despite the fact that he had told them he was not available in the afternoon they had billed him just the same. I understand that 250 people turned up and that Edwina Stewart came but apparently Bowes Egan was not there.
July 16 Monday: I worked on the paper. At about 7 pm. Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham arrived. I am of the opinion that we must get somebody like Stella Bond to do what Charlie Cunningham is doing now and allow Charlie to become secretary. Brian Crowley and Geraldine were there and Jim Kelly came to do his books.
July 17 Tuesday: I continued on the paper. In the afternoon Fenner Brockway asked me to meet him at the House of Commons to discuss his speech on the Emergency Provisions Bill this Thursday. A German girl came in to discuss O’Casey. Gloria Devine brought Pat Devine’s copy [Pat Devine, 1898-1973, born in Motherwell, Scotland, wrote an international affairs column for the monthly “Irish Democrat”; was a founder member of the CPGB in 1920 and had served on the Executives of the American, Irish and British communist parties]. She told me she had had to write it out as his handwriting is now so bad. He had been annoyed because in the last issue we did not credit his article to him. I explained that this was mainly because the captions and suchlike are set on the Ludlow machine and the text on the linotype. He was sensitive, she said. First, he was very ill and when she left in the morning she did not know if she would find him alive on her return. Indeed he was taken to hospital this morning, at first for a check-up, but then detained. Second, he and some others (Alan Bush included) [Alan Bush, British leftwing composer] were voted off the committee of the Morning Star. They were critics of the policy on Czechoslovakia. Perhaps also (thought I) they made the mistake of keeping on about it. “Everybody associated with Palme Dutt was cleared off. They packed the meeting and ganged up on them.” So he wondered if the Irish Democrat had joined the gang. Third, there was something I had not heard: “The way he was knocked out of the Star.” According to Gloria Devine he was away sick and returned to work on the Monday after he recovered. He went into his office and found on his desk a note, “Retired on Friday”. He received no letter or other communication. “Who was responsible for that?” I asked. “David Ainley?”( for I thought him a species of ultra-respectable snob.) “No. George Matthews [Editor of that paper] – though I can well believe Ainley was in on it. Do you know that Pat got Ainley on to the Star?”
She said she had gone to Gollan [CPGB General Secretary] and played hell and received some kind of half-apology. Of course one must admit that Pat Devine was drinking heavily and was really being “found” a job. At the same time it is unnecessary to fail in common courtesies. So now Gloria Devine swears that she will go up for the committee herself next year as Pat is now too old, being 75. I did not try to dissuade her. She may never do it. Then she told me that Pat Devine wants to go to Belfast to see it for himself and I told her not to let him.
In the evening there was a meeting at the “Dublin Castle” at which Stallard recounted his experiences in the Six-County election. Joan Hyman [Labour Anti-Apartheid activist] was there and two from the NCCL and another Councillor, plus our own people.
July 18 Wednesday: I arranged that Stella Bond would undertake to send out the invoices so that Charlie Cunningham could become branch secretary when Sean Redmond goes. In the afternoon I went to the House of Lords and had a talk with Brockway. I was quite astonished at his recovery. “I’m very lucky he said. But I find when I work for three hours I need a glass of whiskey. So I’m going to have one now.” I went into the bar and had a lager, though I dislike drinking during the day. We discussed the speech he is making tomorrow and the possibility of winning an amendment and necessitating the Bill’s return to the Commons. He was disappointed at the poor showing from the Labour side. Only he and Frank Pakenham had opened their mouths. There was an Irishwoman behind the bar whom he delighted to call by her Christian name. “I’m more friendly with the staff than with the peers,” he remarked, but I observed that she very properly called him “My Lord” when we went out. Leslie Hale was there [former Labour MP for Oldham West, made a life peer in 1972]. “A good fellow”, says Brockway. I recalled but did not mention the correspondence in which he denied that Section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act empowered Westminster to intervene in the Six Counties. He was the man D.N. Pritt first advised us to approach [DN Pritt, lawyer and former leftwing Labour MP]. Then he was looking for a cottage in Connemara and couldn’t get the Clifton solicitor to complete the sale.
I got on well with the paper. But the sales position in Central London has become quite disastrous. We have lost Joe Deighan through returning to Ireland, Pat Hensey through personal health (though Toni Curran got came out last week), Jane Tate through sickness, Pegeen O’Flaherty through indisposition, and now Sean Redmond through returning home, and Brian Crowley through tetchiness and contrariety. So this weekend there remain Chris Sullivan, myself and Jim Kelly. At the same time donations have come in well and we have banked more this month than for some time.
Apparently Bobby Heatley has been in London about a week, and turned up this evening when Sean Redmond addressed the branch. I was too busy with the paper to go into the meeting. But Heatley came in to see me. He considered all manner of mistakes had been made in Belfast by the NICRA people (meaning Edwina Stewart and even Madge Davison). He said, “They’re prepared for anything but work”, probably thinking of the annual gallivant they perform. But for one thing not all the gallivanters are idle, though the effect is to divide the gallivanting sheep from the non-gallivanting goats who do not get visits to the USSR. And for the other, Bobby Heatley was not a one for work that was to the slightest degree distasteful to him. He says the Republicans have pulled out, concentrating on their clubs, and that NICRA is in a bad way.
This possibility was corroborated, if one may use the word, by the content of a phone call from Jack Woddis [CPGB international affairs official and colonial expert]. He will be present at this Peace Committee thing. Then he spoke of discussing means of recovering the virtually defunct solidarity movement. He did not ask if I had any arrangements made. What he does himself alone is of consequence. I wondered if Edwina Stewart had been to see him. Indeed I am feeling sure she did. He spoke of the visit of the Belfast women to Parliament. In his usual vein of “I’ve arranged that” he said that they had imagined they could come any time but he had explained that Parliament was not always sitting. But everything was arranged. That means he has given his assent in his office. Now whenever things in Ireland go badly there is a scramble for developments in England. What more likely to activate the English then their own guilty consciences for years of total neglect and arrogant contempt. So following the little psychiatrical treatment for Edwina Stewart, Woddis is on the warpath again. I hope he will be induced to fall in with our proposals. It is all reminiscent of when the technical director wanted help in making a report to his board.
July 19 Thursday: A letter from Chater explained that as he will be away on holiday Woddis will take the chair at the Peace Committee. So they chose to discuss Ireland, as I have seen dozens of times before, when everybody is away. And from Woddis comes a suggestion that we “work out” proposals that would go to the Political Committee. I have no objection. I will have a few myself, which may include some that have been rejected for close on thirty years. I addressed a meeting of the South London branch. A few new faces were there. They had apparently come from Pat Bond’s film show. On the left sat a fresh-complexioned long dark-haired youth of about 24 who insisted on speaking. He said he was from the “Provisionals” and hinted that he had come over specially to find the position in England, having heard of Pat Bond’s film show in Andersonstown. He expressed the hope that Irish organisations in England would come closer to the Connolly Association. He had heard Pat Bond and had now heard Desmond Greaves and was of the opinion that we alone had the faintest understanding of the situation over there. He attacked the “Officials” for inactivity. Then he looked startled. “I beg your pardon,” he said, “I suppose the Connolly Association is nearer to the ‘Officials’ then to the ‘Provisionals’ – I didn’t want to offend anybody.” And this well-mannered lad, sensitive to the danger of upsetting his host, is the terrible gunman who cannot be approached except with armoured cars and poison gas. Of course he may be of no consequence among them. But there it is. He admitted that the people wanted peace but thought that the SDLP would sell out and people turn back to the “Provisionals”. But the real danger is that they may conclude that their position is irremediable and settle for whatever they can get.
I went quickly back to the office and saw Charlie Cunningham who is going on holiday.
July 20 Friday: I was out with Chris Sullivan in the evening. Bobby Heatley had been up to see them. He told them he now regretted leaving London but the die is cast. He has a place at Queen’s University to study economics. I suspect he will return here after he has his degree. He says things are slightly quieter, but the press are trying to criminalise NICRA. They report small issues but suppress statements on the larger ones. There may be more changes, incidentally, for Charlie Cunningham says his father looks very unwell and is going to Stevenage before starting on his holiday.
July 21 Saturday (Liverpool): I was in the office at midday and Pat O’Donohue came. It was strange, though possibly due to Brian Crowley’s leaving early that, instead of off-hand and arbitrary, his manner to everybody was cordial and forthcoming. He is a curious young man. As for Jim Kelly, he has no manners at all and everybody is complaining of him. I was selling with him and we lost our way in Paddington. He shot off on the recommendation of somebody and asked the way without more than an “I’m off.” I was amused to find that I was right and the station we wanted was not 200 yards off. Everything has been demolished and is in the course of reconstruction. It is impossible to know the way. I left for Liverpool on the midnight train.
July 22 Sunday: The weather was not powerful but I did a little tidying up in the garden. Lenny Draper phoned. Dennis Maher had told him that the Trades Council wanted nothing to do with Ad Hoc Committees, but wanted the help of the Connolly Association and “particularly the benefit of the experience of Desmond Greaves”. So I provide the experience that gets the limelight shining upon Colin Davies and Frances Deane [Manchester Trades Council officers]. Well, I don’t mind. They can have it if they want it. But we are saddled with the Ad Hoc Committee which we started, not because we wanted it ourselves, but because we thought they did! Lenny Draper disclosed that the things that were going on in “that office” would “make you stand on your head”. I was at a loss to interpret this unusual metaphor. Presumably however it means they are upside down, which I can believe. Of course the thing is simple enough. We have people who are disinterested. But they are satisfied in the absence of self-interest with self-importance. And thrive on it. I think this in Woddis’s case. However, Lenny Draper has been relying on the Irish and I have been busy in the same field.
At 5 pm. there was another phone call. I expected to hear from Tony Coughlan or Cathal MacLiam as I promised to go to Dublin at the end of the week. But no. It was Gloria Devine. Pat Devine had died an hour ago. Would I speak at the funeral? He wanted me and R. Palme Dutt, the two people in the movement he had most regard for. I told her that as far as I myself was concerned, his expectations were misplaced. This was because I am sure he has built up a false picture, and no doubt allowed goodwill to get the better of judgement. I do believe we have more brains than anybody else. But as was said of Jesus’s “rebellion”, “Muckle he made of that, he was hangit.” A good slab of stupidity is a great asset because you can home to the light unconsciously like a moth, and nonsense from a height is usually listened to. Anyway I said I would. I hope it is not in that dreary place in Golder’s Green. The poor young woman is very courageous, determined to keep a stiff upper lip and carry out all Pat Devine’s wishes. So I must speak.
July 23 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. Apart from the paper most things went wrong – and I lost my reading glasses, presumably on the bus. Late at night Gloria Devine rang again. They are going to that wretched place. She wants four speeches: myself, Gollan, George Matthews and R. Palme Dutt, who will speak last. She wants the “Red Flag” and the “Internationale” sung and, of all things, the air of the last movement of the Ninth Symphony played as they go out. “But that’s been appropriated by the EEC,” said I. Well, it had been played at Barbara Nevin’s funeral and they had found it very inspiring. “I know nothing about music,” said she, “but somebody did tell me that today.” So she will think about it further. There was a request in the Morning Star that all attending should wear red ties, but I shall pretend not to have seen it. Then, characteristically, there has been a few bob left to buy us all a drink afterwards. I think it was to Schorlemer Engels wrote, after scattering his ashes into the sea, to “Buy yourself a bottle of good wine.” I told Gloria this and it pleased her. Of course here it is, a young woman, probably not forty, bringing all the vigour of youth to the obsequies of a man who saw his days out decently enough, though if anybody lived to be a hundred, he would want to be 101. I hate these occasions with all this sentimentality and (let it be admitted) hypocrisy. Gloria is afraid that everybody will break down as the coffin slides away. Yet some of them would have been happy to roast the man alive. But of course. They would not get the opportunity of the one while they have of the other.
July 24 Tuesday: The weather having taken up slightly I got something done in the garden. But apart from a few letters. Little else. I rang Tony Coughlan to tell him about Pat Devine and to pass on Gloria’s request that everybody in Ireland should be told.
July 25 Wednesday: Another reasonably dry day. Ashford called to inquire whether he had left a hacksaw behind. I take it he did not know which of his many simultaneous jobs he had left it on. Beatties came and fitted the curtains in the extension and they look very handsome. I spoke to Stella Bond who has sent out the notices for the Summer School and written to Northampton. I asked her to send our programme to Woddis. Late in the evening Jim Kelly rang up to say that only he and Chris Sullivan were available for sales this weekend. The rot seems to have seeped well into Central London. But now Sean Redmond is going it may be possible to change their style of work.
I telephoned Cathal to say I would not be in Dublin this weekend but would try and manage it the following Friday. Gerry Curran and Toni Curran are there. Cathal says they were more or less wished onto him by Tony Coughlan. Apparently he had invited them to stay at his place, but “You know how vague Tony is.”
July 26 Thursday: The weather was still chilly and cloudy. I pottered about until it was time to go to Manchester. I met Lenny Draper at Victoria. The dreadful things he had mentioned over the phone did not really amount to much. He is getting as much support as can be expected. The meeting did not amount to much either. I fear Lenny Draper is not a good organiser. He jumps too quickly from one idea to another, but of course there is time for improvement. Only Stan Cole turned up. He has been appointed by the Confederation to go to the Six Counties and link with the Ad Hoc Committee. But the Manchester Trades Council want nothing to do with it. We decided I should try to see Frances Deane and reason with her. As for the Peace Committee they were at a send-off of young people to Berlin – the fact that they had booked the date and I was coming from London (as they thought) weighed nothing. They will not come to anything about Ireland if there is anything else to go to!
July 27 Friday (London): I came to London on the 4.30 after a number of irritations. But I located my reading glasses at Alfreton lost property office and they undertook to post them. At London I went to Hammersmith with Jim Kelly, who tonight was on his best behaviour and tolerable enough. There is a tremendous mass of support shown by the donations to the paper. But we lack the means of converting it into organisation.
July 28 Saturday: I was picked up at the office and driven by one of Gloria Devine’s friends to Golders Green, where we performed the obsequies of Pat Devine. Gloria had them decked in red ties, but I wore a black one as I thought there was no sense in it. I don’t like any ties, anyway. She herself was got up in a flaming scarlet blouse and had a somewhat desperate look on her face as if she were Laocoon or Joan of Arc. It was not euphoria or yet hysteria, but something akin to these. I was sorry for her. She was using the plentiful energy of her youth to meet a situation that did not respond to it. I had a word with young Pat Devine who had invited her to Manchester. But she will not go yet awhile. I told him to keep inviting her. He might catch her in a relenting mood. The ceremony was not as dreary as these things usually are. Gloria had fortunately chosen appropriate music. The tone of the organ is of course squeakily funereal like the ghost in a Punch-and-Judy show. But we got through it and Gloria was as pleased as she could be in the circumstances. I said a few words myself. And so did John Gollan and R.Palme Dutt , who can hardly stand and who weighs nothing, for Gloria Devine and I could help him to his seat. On the whole I prefer the open-air burial and even the traditional forms. Though indeed in our remarks we all approached them.
Many people were present, and a good contingent of Irish: Bobby Heatley, Robbie Rossiter, Sean Redmond, Eamon McLoughlin and Barbara, Tadhg Egan (Jim Prendergast drank a half a pint of stout), the Robinsons from the USA, Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Finlay from Birmingham, and of the others Chris Meredith, Peter Kerrigan, Jack Woddis – Oh, everybody who’s still alive. And the melancholy circumstances brought out what was best in them, and they repaired at Gloria Devine’s invitation to the Refectory for a drink. And I forget – Des Logan was there. His eyes have failed him and he is back labouring [Des Logan, a veteran Connolly Association member]. I suppose Elsie O’Dowling is on holiday. But Jane Tate was missing.
July 29 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day but did not seem to get much done. Bobby Heatley came in and stayed the whole afternoon. It was useful however. He is somewhat destructive in his criticism but does not provide the usual sunshine stories. He thinks 50% of the rent and rates strikers are still in the field. But they are in no way organised and exist in isolated pockets. He says that the Republicans are doing nothing in NICRA but concentrating on building their own clubs now these are legal. He says Joe Deighan is somewhat softened and has lost his astuteness. He blames Bobby Heatley for his criticism of the Republicans. As for these, they are as devious as ever. Kevin McCorry actually approached him before the NICRA election when Heatley came at the bottom of the poll and asked him to become press officer. Clearly something happened for he had no explanation, and McCorry has hardly spoken to him since. I can believe that. I recall Kevin McCorry’s coming to our conference, spending all evening with a group from Highgate and then pre-empting our date. The Republicans regard NICRA as their “front” organisation, and Bobby Heatley clearly has little faith in McGurran [Malachy McGurran, Northern organiser for Cathal Goulding’s “Official” Republicans]. Desmond O’Hagan is their “Education Officer” and of course everything he teaches will have to be unlearned. I asked if there was Trotsky influence. He said he had no doubt there was, but in a sense there would not need to be. He noticed at the last conference when Kevin Boyle, the main Trotskyist “ideologist”, tried to take to make NICRA an umbrella for “Officials” and “Provisionals”, conference divided very much on class lines. The Republican outlook is characteristically petit-bourgeois. I suggested to him systematic educational work on his side, and he thought there was a possibility of it. The man who makes the best showing is John McClelland, who is not afraid to resist Republican pressure, for example, when they try to introduce topics that are beyond the scope of NICRA. Thus Kevin Boyle tried to get discussions on “Violence for or against”, when NICRA was founded on the basis of non-violence. So instead of discussing their own peaceful activities, they must divide on somebody else’s war-like ones. Boyle was constantly providing diversionary topics which he would pursue for a few weeks, the limelight playing on him, and then beat a retreat to fetch out another. Whenever any important international Trotsky came to Belfast, it was with Boyle he stayed. And needless to say, he is well breeched and well accommodated in the University and floats comfortably and prosperously between here and the United States. There is a university branch of NICRA which is really People’s Democracy and they turned up in force in order to vote against Bobby Heatley and John McClelland. As for Madge Davison, she is better than Edwina Stewart but will like the others say one thing and do another. They all spend half their time gallivanting. “Anything but work”, says Bobby Heatley. As for Jimmy Stewart, who won his 120 votes in the Falls, he was unknown there. Morrissey declined to go up [ie. Belfast CP member Sean Morrissey, who was of Catholic background]. For all his talk he does not like to be identified with the CP in his own area. And of course Jimmy Stewart would not hear that Betty Sinclair should be the candidate. Edwina Stewart’s deviousness arises from the role she fancies she plays – of the maker of compromise policies which suit both sides. Thus on one famous occasion which gave rise to much laughter she proposed the “compositing” of a resolution and an amendment which were as close to direct contraries as the rules of procedure would allow. The political Labour movement has disappeared and the “Assembly” is an irrelevancy, so the reality is “direct rule”. It is thus clear that Bobby Heatley (if I have set down his forthrightly expressed views correctly) is by no means enamoured of the situation. But at the same time he says that the Protestant extremists have lost ground and there is much questioning among the more intelligent Protestants.
About the alleged tailing of Edwina Stewart behind the Republicans and People’s Democracy, appeasing them by adopting their slogans and so on, there is corroboration from Sean Redmond, who says there is confusion in Dublin as well – in the mind, for example, of poor silly Tomaisin [ie. his brother Tom Redmond]. When Sean Redmond was recently in Dublin Tom was most emphatic when Sean spoke of the two wings of the Republican movement. “There’s only one Republican Movement,” pontificated Tom, “and that’s the Official one.” Sean reminded him of Sundays in Hyde Park when every new arrival from Ireland proclaimed himself the emissary of the “Official” Republican movement and we had gently to remind them that we were Republicans ourselves.
In the evening I was out in East London with Pat Bond and one of the South London people.
July 30 Monday (Liverpool): I tried to find Woddis in the morning, but not succeeding in contacting him on the telephone, I wrote, then came to Liverpool.
July 31 Tuesday: There was plenty to be done in the garden, and the weather having become reasonable again I continued with it.
August 1 Wednesday: Again a day was got through without much seeming result, though I caught a lot of branches off the trees – which look just the same afterwards as before!
August 2 Thursday: A further day spent mostly in the garden and house. There was a letter from Dorothy Greaves.
August 3 Friday: Deciding that I could not face the horrors of the Liverpool night crossing and being told the day crossing was likely to be crowded, I went by train to Chester and Holyhead. And quite enjoyed it. There was first- class accommodation on the boat and it has not deteriorated nearly as badly as I had feared, though it was bad enough. Cathal and Tony Coughlan meet me at Dun Laoire. Cathal was preparing to go to Germany, so Tony Coughlan and I had a meal in an Italian restaurant (very expensive) between Michael Mullen of the ITGWU with his niece, and Donal Barrington [Barrister and later judge]. Mullen told Tony Coughlan that he expected the wage agreement negotiations to break down [Michael Mullen, 1919-82, was general secretary of the ITGWU, Ireland’s largest trade union at the time. He had been a Labour TD, held strong republican views and he and his trade union had opposed Irish membership of the EEC in the 1972 EEC Accession Treaty referendum]. Tony Coughlan had intimated that Cosgrave had entered into agreement with Heath which he will not disclose. This is apparently from Devlin [Paddy Devlin, 1925-1999, SDLP MP and ITGWU member] who had told Tony C.
When we got back to Rathmines, who should be there but Nicoletta and Francisco [Comi, Italian friends of Cathal MacLiam’s. Nicoletta Comi had interviewed Greaves in London for an Italian paper she had connections with]. In London, Nicoletta had been asking me how to get married. But when I asked Francisco if I should congratulate him, he said I need not. “I decided to remain his common law wife,” said Nicoletta. Francisco showed the usual regard for what one gets for nothing by taking off Nicoletta any book or paper he wanted to read himself and transferring her bodily from wherever she was inconvenient to where she was convenient. He was a sturdy blonde character, open and pleasant in his manner, but an undoubted “male supremacist” with regard to Nicoletta. Then there was the Swiss student who is a tenant – a slightly bearded young man of say twenty-two, modest enough one would think. Add to that the Armagh boy who is the tenant of the bas-fond, a friend of his, Noel Harris and Heaven knows who else, and we had a full house.
August 4 Saturday: Among those present last night were Dalton Kelly and a friend of his who had been wished on Cathal, who is taking the two to Germany. Poor Cathal always “holds the baby”. He says Tony Coughlan invited Gerry Curran and Toni Curran, but they stayed with Cathal. Now Dalton Kelly has not only brought his flatmate but re-arranged the route to go via Hollyhead, save £1 and miss two nights’ sleep. But mercifully, a wee girl introduced as Dalton Kelly’s (one of his) female associates, also here last night (who was not?) is remaining behind. Before we were half way through the day Cathal’s niece Sheila arrived – a twenty-three old teacher living at Limerick, whom I think I saw when we called at Tyrrellspass and she was a wild tomboy of twelve, on some journey to Galway. With Cathal I went to see Sean Nolan for a few minutes. Then he drove to Tony Coughlan’s and Asmal drove them down to Dun Laoire.
Noel Harris came in again. In the other room the gramophone was doing good service, Sheila presiding. She kept coming out to beg more of our wine. Later we observed that the sole light in the room was emitted by two candles stuck in wine bottles. “We’ve been smoking ‘pot’”, said Sheila. There was a dreadful stink resembling stale pepper which we were informed came from “joss sticks”. I did not know whether to take her statement seriously or not. But I note there is something curious about Nicoletta. Those present included herself and Francisco, the Swiss student and the boy from Armagh. Tony Coughlan and I were not too pleased. My next problem is to find out which of them can be trusted and try to get the others away as quickly as possible.
August 5 Sunday: In the morning, I came down at 8 am. and found Sheila had been up at 7, had seen Nicoletta and Francisco off to Cork, and had done marvels cleaning the rooms and tidying, like the practical farmer’s daughter she is. She put on a record – Beethoven’s D Major Violin Concerto – in the middle. “That’s the second movement,” said I. “I know. I had the first one on yesterday.” I adverted to the appalling stink of incense. She regarded it as “culture”, but complained that the Swiss boy had objected to isolating one element from a culture and not trying to comprehend the whole. She summoned me to the bathroom. Could I tell her how to remove the stink? What had happened? Francisco had vomited all over the floor, rugs and all. She had cleared away the solid matter but the smell remained. I found some bleach which is probably NaClO [Sodium hypochlorite] and this diluted was swabbed round the place to good effect. Then Tony Coughlan came and we went to Enniskerry, walked part way up the Sugar Loaf and returned just before heavy rain set in.
August 6 Monday: This was bank holiday. All last night and this morning Tony C. and I tried to contact people in Belfast, which we intended to visit, but can get nobody. The weather was still very uncertain, so he went to TCD to complete a pamphlet he is “ghosting” for Noel Harris and I did an interview for Nicoletta’s paper, though not too pleased with these Italians [Noel Harris was an official with the ASTMS trade union in Dublin; he had been a founder member of the NICRA when in Belfast and was later organiser of the Cinematograph Union in Britain; he died in 2014. The pamphlet was a criticism of centralised wage bargaining, which Harris’s union was opposed to]. The Swiss came down a pair of stunning shorts and within minutes he and Sheila were in each others’ arms on the settee. At first she thought of staying another day. But then he offered to drive her to the Naas Road on his scooter, whence she “hitchhiked” to Limerick. I think she is highspirited. If there was cannabis in it, however, I am disinclined to blame the Swiss student but rather my bold Francisco. I am not sure that I have not heard that its combination with alcohol can cause vomiting. In the evening Tony Coughlan and I went to the Asmals and Noel Harris appeared.
August 7 Tuesday: I went to Kevin and Howlins and ordered a new suit, then to various bookshops, had lunch with Tony Coughlan and called in to Sean Nolan. My view of the Swiss student improved. Cathal has gone away without making any provision for the cat, presumably on the grounds that he never wanted it, and if it disappeared before, it can fend for itself again – all of which is probably irrefutable. I mentioned this to the Swiss, who immediately went out and bought cat food and undertook to look after the animal. Now the thing is, is Francisco staying another night? All at Asmals were very alarmed at the talk of cannabis, which could injure Cathal and the movement. Noel Harris thought it was Sheila’s fault. “I’d say she was smoking it,” said. he. But I dare say, none of them had more than a trial whiff, except maybe the promoter of the business. I wonder who brought the joss-sticks, which were presumably designed to hide the smell. It will be hard to find out as only the Swiss remains. I must find a way of informing Helga and putting her on her guard. For even if the wee girl is only a chatterbox, what will be the effect for example on Finula [Cathal MacLiam’s eldest daughter] already rebellious enough?
In the evening came Tony Coughlan with a French friend on his way to Galway, Micheál O Loingsigh, Roy Johnston and some others, including a young Oxford don who has heard of the Connolly Association but knows Mick Leahy – that gentleman being the principal stumbling block in Oxford and I suspect like more than a rogue. Roy Johnston, incidentally, is very much subdued, now that in no longer has to carry the future of Ireland on his shoulders, though he can still not resist discrediting things by writing letters to the paper in support of them. Still, there are worse than he. I believe he has rejoined the CP.
August 8 Wednesday (London): I spent the day travelling, catching the 10.10 from Amiens Street (They have closed Westland Row) and killed the area around it, which will now be ripe for “redevelopment”. No doubt fat bribes have passed. I left Dun Laoire at 11.30 and went to Holyhead and London. It is not a comfortable train, is overcrowded with holidaymakers and full of people who smoke in non-smoking compartments. Why should they be allowed to give other people cancer of the lung and heart disease? Because it makes money for the tobacco firms.
I arrived at 283 Gray’s Inn Road just as the farewell party to Sean Redmond was opening. Stella Bond was there, Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate, Gerard Curran and Toni Curran and a few more. Indeed, it was a full house. I took Susan Redmond over to Neary’s ahead of the others, who had found their usual inexplicable occasions for delay. At the crossroads we were confronted by a young man of about 22 in a white “tee” shirt who tried to bar our progress. I held him in conversation and told Susan to proceed as quickly as possible. His purpose was plain. “I suppose you’re going to take her off and fuck her,” says the rogue. “That’s what you won’t do,” says I, beating a retreat behind her. There were more obscene pleasantries, but as I turned to enter Neary’s he struck me a lightning blow on the ear and jumped clear. I followed him, shouting “Police”. When he was on the far pavement and I in the middle of the road he rushed at me as if to do battle. I retreated as I had no wish to be trapped in mid-road and redoubled my shouts. I hoped of course that Charlie Cunningham and the others would soon be behind him, and we would get him behind bars to cool his roughness on the bread of meditation. However, as soon as I retreated a couple of yards the brave young fellow turned round. and bending nearly double scurried away around the corner and headed as I thought into the Pindar of Wakefield just as Charlie Cunningham etc. came out of the office. Naturally, I was wild with them for the delay. But we led a search party into the Pindar. But there were too many “tee” shirts, and anyway he probably hid in the lavatory. I never saw anybody scuttle so fast and as he had no great reason to be afraid of me, he must have had substantial cause to be afraid of the police I was trying to bring in on him. After that, we went back to the public house and drank brandy. “A man of your age,” said sour little Deirdre, Peter Donovan’s step-degree daughter, “should have more sense than run after a hoodlum.” I thought however the honours were equal and under ordinary circumstances I would have expected to get him locked up. Of course what has happened is that he thought I had “picked up” Susan and would give her up to his manly persuasions. As Susan said, “the one place I’ll not be sorry to see the back of is King’s Cross.”
Sean Redmond says he will join no political party for the time being and intends to pay attention primarily to his Trade Union job. To some extent, I regret losing his valuable political experience. From a personal point of view it is not like Joe Deighan, whom I was glad to see the back of, but at the same time he can be very trying.
August 9 Thursday: I went to see Jack Woddis [CPGB authority on colonial and international affairs]. When I went in he brought me a chair. “I’ll give you the highchair and hope you won’t want to pass judgement and utter a condemnation.” So this was the season of apology. It was soon clear to me that there had been a lesson learned, and the practical thing was to put my proposals clearly and strongly. There was no difficulty. Moreover, there was no trace of the “See what I’ve done” in his manner and we got on well. I was down there in the evening for the Peace Committee, with Woddis in the chair and Egelnick and Jack Askins present among others. There were only two items which were worthy of record. Everything was sweetness and light. But Askins said that he made the proposal that the Manchester Trades Council should send the deputation to Northern Ireland on the strength of the Hempstead Conference. So this all arose from Jack Woddis’s panic measures which created the impression that the Manchester Conference was being overruled. What was in Woddis’s mind at the time I cannot conceive. The other was a dejected report from Egelnick that he had set up an Irish committee to try to work among the Irish community and had to register total failure. He had had to leave before I could say, “I told you so.” But the interesting thing is that Woddis came clean off the fence and supported the Connolly Association. If this had been done years ago much trouble would have been avoided. I can only hazard a guess – there has been pressure from the Stewards last December to ignore the Connolly Association. This has been shown to be nonsense, so like sensible men they are changing it.
But no, there was a third thing, even more disconcerting. Askins was compelled to report that Colin Davis had only one reply to his circular to Trade Unions, and that was a letter protesting against the very idea of investigating Northern Ireland. He had drawn a complete blank while we have got the Confederation, bigger game than the very Trades Council itself.
August 10 Friday: I was in the office all day except for the evening. I was out with Chris Sullivan. Jim Kelly has gone to Drogheda for the holidays.
August 11 Saturday: I was in the office all day. Sean Redmond told me he would not be in Northampton on Sunday as he leaves for Dublin on Tuesday. Susan Redmond is staying on a while to clear things up, but staying with Sean’s parents who are now stranded in London with only the young fellow Brendan who is, I think, now married and settled here. One of the girls (the gypsy) is in Hull and the other, I think, somewhere in the North.
August 12 Sunday: We all went to Northampton for the EC, that is, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Siobhan O’Neill and Toni Curran. Alf Ward came from Oxford and Michael Crowe from Newcastle. Lenny Draper arrived halfway through the afternoon, having fallen asleep in the train and being carried on to Watford. He was on the wrong train anyway, so he must have been half asleep when he got on it. Peter Mulligan was there and his little wife Goley [a native of Iran]. And Michael Crowe stayed the night with him. We replaced Sean Redmond with Tony Donaghey, though he will be an uncertain attender. The programme went through. In the evening we had a very successful meeting in the Market Square. The resuscitated Anti-Internment League had joined with all manner of organisations on a march in London. But Donal MacAmhlaigh stayed here [the well-known Irish writer, 1926-1989, author of “The Irish Navvy” and other books, who lived in Northampton] and Tom Mulcahy was there. Peter took the chair and MacAmhlaigh was delighted with him, and indeed so was Goley, who started a little fearful, but was soon enjoying the prowess and consequence of her Peter. Three people gave him their names.
Donal gave me a copy of a duplicated sheet which said that a J.Gallagher had been arrested and was charged with demanding money with menaces, that this was a “frame-up” and much more. I suppose they want to make the man’s condition worse by demonstrating outside the courthouse. There is a dreadful naivety which goes with the courage. However, I wondered if this was the same Gallagher who is said in our card index to have been in our Liverpool branch and has responded to nothing, and indeed was responsible for starting NICRA in Northampton and getting papers from Edwina Stewart. It will be a typical result of that lady’s manoeuvrings that he should join the “Provisionals” and get into trouble.
Now some “Provisional” supporters were there. It was characteristic that they asked our permission to sell An Phoblacht, which we gave. The Trotskies were there with their paper and did not ask for permission. There was no sign of the CP. If any were there they did not make themselves known. They could have brought Gordon MacLennan’s pamphlet, which Woddis complains is not selling well. I returned to London.
Incidentally, Donal MacAmhlaigh was immensely affected by the meeting, of which he said the speeches (given by Charlie Cunningham, Alf Ward, Pat Bond and myself) had put the whole thing in perspective.
August 13 Monday (Liverpool): I had the paper to do but parcelled up the lot and brought it to Liverpool, only to find pneumatic drills outside the house where traffic control lights are being erected. I wonder will it make the place noisier or quieter. God knows, it is bad enough as it is. I have been trying to arrange the school in Oxford. There are problems. Alf Ward said he could find accommodation in the homes of the members, but they have all gone off on holidays!
August 14 Tuesday: I had a phone call from Woddis telling me that the Political Committee meeting was on the 28th and adding (in silky tones as a salesman might tell the young lady that though she had ordered silk, if would really be better if she accepted at an increased price stockings containing 10% of nylon) that he had invited “somebody from over there”. I was not enthusiastic. I wondered whether one section wanted something to balance yours truly. Or did they feel they dared not listen to somebody so hated in Belfast without allowing a watchdog over them? Or did some of them wish to adopt the policy I had been urging and wish to bind Belfast to it. “What goes on over there affects us,” says Woddis, so we may find the whole thing based on a consequential report by Jimmy Stewart and be compelled to chip into it. I said I would come and see Woddis the day before the meeting. By this means I can find out the agenda and adapt my remarks.
August 15 Wednesday: What with Pat Devine dead and Mulholland ill and Tom Saunders, Heaven knows where, I was desperately short of copy. I telephoned Tony Coughlan who promised to post as much extra as he could today.
August 16 Thursday: The hot weather has returned and has brought on the vegetables prodigiously. I never saw so many beans, the cabbages are heaping up, the kohlrabi nearly fast enough to use, swedes as big as tennis balls, potatoes in flower, lettuce, fennel, dill, coriander, marjoram, thyme – even aniseed and rue – valuable as salads. This is largely because of the hose pipe I bought with which I have kept the ground permanently damp. I finished the paper and put up fresh supports for beans. I still cannot get Alf Ward on the telephone.
August 17 Friday (London): I returned to London. Stella Bond is away in Cornwall where they proposed to call on Royston Green [Cornish nationalist]. I was out with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town.
August 18 Saturday: I was in the office all day. Another very dry day too. The usual people came in, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue, though many are on holidays. I was out with Chris Sullivan.
August 19 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee in the morning, only Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue and myself. Jim Kelly and Pat Bond are both away. Pat Bond has volunteered to help me with some of the things Sean Redmond used to do. So that is to the good. We have repeatedly telephoned Alf Ward without being able to catch him in. We therefore authorised the payment of hotel bills for students at the school. And perhaps I may have to take a trip to Oxford next week. The problem is not an easy one. I was out with Charlie Cunningham [ie. selling the monthly paper – this for the third time that weekend].
August 20 Monday (Liverpool): I omitted to record, I think, that I saw Frances Deane in Manchester and we agreed that the Trades Council would probably not be able to organise its proposed delegation and that therefore we should wait awhile and invite them to participate in ours. Today I went to Ripley, then on to Manchester via Sheffield. The weather turned suddenly cold with a sharp damp NE wind. I found Lenny Draper at Piccadilly together with a young man who looked about 21. He was James Nolan, born in Kiltimagh but brought to Manchester at the age of six. It seems his father was a friend of Walter Dwyer and he has often been back and knew many of the people I knew when I used to be in the County Mayo [ie. at Doughbeg, Curraun, in 1951; see Volume 10]. He seems a very good lad, one of Lenny Draper’s finds – in the YCL but anxious to work with Lenny. Lenny Draper told me of the secretariat on the Irish question which was to have been addressed by Arnison who had fallen ill. Arnison is friendly but I think, like Myant, he avoids me – too much contact with Belfast! I am told Arnison has relatives by marriage in Belfast and that these have “Provisional” tendencies. But they’re all like moths round a light, fluttering in all directions. Then I came on to Liverpool. The material Tony Coughlan had sent apparently arrived only today. A quotation from the Kenyon Press will enable me to proceed with the Workers’ Music Association job [ie. the proposed book of Irish songs, with musical notation, that he had taken over from the Connolly Association’s Ted Shields], the money from which I badly need.
Incidentally, Lenny Draper was able to solve the Guinan mystery [referring to Connolly Association member Martin Guinan]. As I probably recorded, he wrote resigning from the Connolly Association saying he was going back to Ireland “for a time”. It crossed my mind, however unlikely that might be, that he had involved himself in some way with some “Provisional” activity in Preston. For he did nothing for us. But Lenny Draper tells me that he is now in Newry – an unlikely place of political asylum where he has gone after his marriage has broken up. So the movements of Uranus have been explained by the discovery of Neptune.
August 21 Tuesday: It was sort of day in which not much could be done in the garden. But I got a few odd jobs done. I contacted Alf Ward in the evening.
August 22 Wednesday (London): I returned to London on expectation of a busy week. I at first got the accommodation in Oxford arranged and sent off a circular. The branch meeting took place. It was one of the lectures on Irish history which Sean Redmond organised and left others to complete, and I am afraid Charlie Cunningham was extremely unsatisfactory on the Parnell period, breaking all the rules of chronology and skipping back and forth over the years like a biographer with something to hide, only that Charlie had nothing to declare. “I didn’t do my homework,” he explained. Probably he did not know how much had to be done. And to make matters worse, O Conchuir was there (after quite a quantity of alcohol) and fell asleep, his young friend Leonard said nothing, and Noreen Walsh appeared with a small dog, which she pronounced to be a “Labrador puppy”. When it wasn’t squealing it was wondering round sniffing, and before the end of the meeting had left solid droppings at one end of the room and liquid outpourings at the other, so that we feared we would have to take to the boats. There was no apology from Her Silliness, or offer to clean up its mess. “I thought it was a guinea pig,” I said to the worthy lady, “or perhaps an opossum”. But she thought the latter was some breed of dog. An old man remarked, “You’ll need to be careful bringing up a Labrador – they’re fierce piddlers, which was shortly obvious, for after she had given it a dish of beer, using an ashtray, more waterspouts emerged and we were all but managing the rafts a second time. In all my life I never saw such a silly woman.
August 23 Thursday: I was in the office all day. A telephone call came from a CA member in Oxford. His name was Payne and he is English. He told me he was in the CP also and asked what did I think about collecting funds for the “Belfast Ten” and the “Coventry Five”. These were people who had been arrested in connection with disturbances or alleged conspiracy. I said we were doing nothing as our resources had to be husbanded and applied to essentials. But we did not try to restrain other people. Apparently the “International Marxist” charlatans had been urging it and it would compete with proposed collections to send a delegation to Northern Ireland. “Who was sending it?” I asked. NICROC [ie. the Oxford NICRA support group]. I disposed of the “International Marxist” by saying I never considered it sane or wise to take their advice unless there was some independent reason for it. Then I asked about NICROC and elicited the remarkable information that when Leahy (in the Connolly Association but out of the Communist Party) had approached them with a plan to re-establish NICROC, they fell in with it. Leahy immediately resigned from the CA. He persuaded them that the CA was “not broad enough” and that by restarting NICRA they could win broader sections of the Labour Movement. “And we’ve been hugely successful,” says the block-head. I gave him a piece of my mind and told him that I had been kept in the dark. “But Leahy has rejoined the party.” “That makes no difference to me. He double- crossed me and I want nothing to do with him.” He suggested I should meet him on Monday. He will be at the school. Of course I shall have to moderate my tone and see if I can think of any way forward.
I rang Alf Ward. He said NICROC had been restarted 18 months ago. Payne had said he and Donnington were informed of it. Was this true? It was. They circularised them. But when the proposal to send the delegation to Belfast was mooted under Leahy, there were proposals by the Connolly Association to form an “ad hoc” committee. But of course NICROC was established and some of them objected that that was the proper organisation to do the job. Who objected? I asked and had the expected reply – the International Socialist charlatans, the International Marxist charlatans and the Republican sellers. So of course the bright and breezy Mr Payne had provided a field of operations for these people, just what I succeeded in preventing in London. Of course I was blazing and spoke sharply to Chris Sullivan when he came in. But he understood. Alf Ward told me that Oxford Trades Council were swarming with IS and IM vermin. And no wonder if Tanvir (who showed his impracticability at the last conference) and his colleagues [ie. local CPGB officials] are so lacking in astuteness that they take Leahy’s advice without examining his intentions.
In the evening I went to West London where they had a very good meeting. Toni Curran, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue and about twelve others were there.
August 24 Friday: I was in the office during the day, most of the time concerned with the Oxford School [ie.the proposed Connolly Association weekend summer school in that city], though in the evening I was out with Chris Sullivan.
August 25 Saturday: I spent most of the day in the office but was out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. The usual people came in, Jane Tate, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue etc.
August 26 Sunday: I forgot about the main events of yesterday. In the morning Charlie Cunningham and I had a telephone call from Cathal MacLiam, who was at Euston [returning from visiting his wife’s relations in Germany]. Could he leave his luggage in the office? Apparently there had been a bomb scare and all the luggage lockers had been put out of action. We went along to give him a hand. He had said he would be in the middle of the concourse, but when we arrived the place was crowded with young football supporters. Last night I had seen a dozen of them kick a young fellow unconscious by King’s Cross station. We walked about awhile, then I recognised Egon sitting on a pile of suitcases outside the station. And soon Cathal arrived back. In the meantime Jack Bennett had called, but we arranged to meet at Oxford today. Cathal and the twins want to stay with Gerard Curran.
This morning Tony Coughlan rang at about 8.30 and said he was at Euston. He had met Mark Clinton on the boat and had persuaded him to come along. So the clans were gathering early. We went to Oxford – Cathal brought the twins, who went for a walk around the city. I was pleased to see what upstanding young people they are growing into, free from false sophistication and with something of Cathal’s shrewd simplicity. Toni Curran came, Tony Coughlan and Mark Clinton. There were about 40 people, whom Weston and Alf Ward “ferried” to the Gardeners’ Arms, set in a narrow street flanked by brilliant gardens. Pat O’Donohue was there, Charlie Cunningham, O Conchuir, Breese of Plaid Cymru, Siobhan O’Neill, Jane Tate – Oh a great crowd. All seemed to enjoy themselves. The weather was hot and dry and Mark Clinton showed the athletic prowess he had acquired on the football or hurling field by leaping up to take apples off a tree which overhung the garden behind the hotel. There was also a fine plum tree but the fruit was a mile high. Everybody was accommodated but I returned to London with Cathal and saw him from the office, where the luggage was, to Euston.
August 27 Monday: I went back to Oxford by the first train and this time had the company of Gerard Curran, who replaced Toni Curran today. There had seemingly been a great social evening last night and a good atmosphere prevailed. My bold Payne had put in an appearance and improved on the occasion by accusing Jack Bennett of “supporting the Provisionals”, a charge which Jack refuted. When it was over and before returning to London I had a talk with this young gentleman in a cafe. I quickly realised that he was a conceited ass, so I did not argue much nor give away information. Here is a sample of his dialogue:
“I’m a member both of the CA and NICROC, so I have loyalties to both organisations.”
“I take it just before you started NICROC you had loyalty only to one.”
“Well, we felt something broader than the CA was needed.”
“Whose idea then was it to restart NICROC?”
“It was the joint idea of myself and Mick Leahy.”
“Hm. Not a very good one all the same.”
“I think Mick Leahy is the best man in Oxford on the Irish question. As for Alf Ward he’s able to adapt himself in the presence of leftwingers. But do you know he opposed Mick Leahy’s resolution of protest at the setting up of the Assembly. He said, ‘give the Assembly a chance.’” At this point Payne threw his empty cigarette packet strongly on the table with a gesture of indignation and disgust. I obtained much information, for example that NICROC has both affiliated organisations and individual membership, that the Trotskies have been “fought back”, but number something like a quarter of the delegates of the Trades Council; that the NICROC delegation to the Six Counties will consist of a queer collection of people, the fares being paid by collections among Irish workers in the factories. I think however, it will be routed to NICRA rather than the Trades Council [ie. the Belfast Trades Council], and I smell Clann na hEireann intrigue in the whole thing. It is clear that no love is lost between Mick Leahy and Alf Ward, who afterwards told me that Payne was no longer a member of the CA. I checked on reaching London and found he lapsed last winter. It is strange too that Oxford was a great centre of Colin Sweet’s little escapade.
I came back with Jack Bennett, Tony Coughlan, Pat O’Donohue, Mark Clinton and Charlie Cunningham. When we reached Paddington the sky was dark. On emerging at Russell Square, looking for a meal, we found a spectacular thunderstorm in progress. However, we got some food and drink. Tony Coughlan went to stay with Jane Tait and Mark Clinton with Pat O’Donohue.
August 28 Tuesday: The weather turned cool as was to be expected. I spent the day in the office. In the evening Pat O’Donohue, Mark Clinton and Charlie Cunningham came in. We had a meal at the Shires, walked round to see if we could find Jane Tait, but she was out and then collected Jim Kelly at the office and took him to Neary’s. I saw Jack Woddis in the afternoon.
August 29 Wednesday (Liverpool): This morning I went to the Political Committee. There were not many there, only Woddis, Vic Eddisford, Bert Pearce, Bill Wainwright, Gordon McLennan, Ramelson and Falber. The representatives from Ireland had not materialised. There was no doubt in my mind that Woddis was the only one who understood the question. Falber was insistent on the need to consult further with Ireland, Woddis not showing any enthusiasm (Who in Ireland?). Ramelson was preoccupied with the troops and thought our TUC leaflet “woolly” because it did not apply to the problems disturbing his mind. I learned at last about the women’s lobby. Apparently it came from Arnison in Manchester. Wainwright threw up his hands in horror and said he thought Arnison crazy on the subject, to which I nodded approval. But apparently Arnison had consulted Woddis, who had approved of it. They said NICRA was “in on it” and the women were going ahead even though the leaders of the “Provisionals” had condemned it. Somehow I think there is a chance that it will not take place. But seemingly I was mistaken in ascribing it to Edwina Stewart or NICRA.
I had a long talk with Connie Seifert. Our efforts to get together a deputation of women’s organisations met with a half-hearted offer to participate, followed by a withdrawal intrigue from “WILPF” [unclear what these initials stand for]. Mrs Osborne, whom one of the Armagh girls had written to [presumably one of the women IRA prisoners], I think on Mrs Radcliffe’s advice, consulted me. I put her in touch with Connie Seifert. Now she has sent photostats to the world and his wife and included SW’s redoubtable Mrs Vorhaus. I said I thought we should proceed without her and make it sharp. So she will get a lawyer, Renée Short, and a cooperator, and I will ask Jane Tate to go.
Finally I got rid of correspondence, this morning’s discussion having ended in substantial agreement, and came back to Liverpool on the Pullman. In the evening Lenny Draper rang. As he had explained, he could not go to Oxford on account of starting a new job on Monday. His meeting was poor tonight, but he blamed it on the rain.
August 30 Thursday: Not much done today, just a small amount of tidying-up in the house and garden. I have never seen such growth as there has been this year, not even in the 1930s, except for 1933 perhaps. Yet it has not been uniformly fine. I hosed the place well and got things through the dry spells, and there have been a number of wet intervals.
August 31 Friday: Another day spent pottering about. I bought timber to construct additional supports for runner beans and put a couple of frames up. I look like having so many that I’ll be able to preserve them.
September 1 Saturday: It poured rain in the morning but nevertheless I went to Manchester. I just missed Lenny Draper at Hathersage Road, but spoke to Mick Jenkins. He complained that “Ireland Her Own” [ie. TA Jackson’s history] had been allowed to go out of print. Now the royalties I have had on it have been so small that I could hardly believe this. But it seems it is so. I suggested he write to Lawrence and Wishart, but he merely snorted. Later he said that Cornforth had pronounced his autobiography “very good” but wouldn’t publish it.
“Oh, so that’s why you’re fed up with Lawrence and Wishart?
He laughed, “Well, at least I’m honest about it.”
He then told an odd story, accompanied by further strictures. Apparently Cornforth sent his manuscript to “Seven Seas” [ie. the East German publishing house in Berlin]. They sent the package back unopened. This summer he was in Berlin and at Cornforth’s suggestion went to see them. They made no bones about having returned the package. They existed, said the American woman who manages the place, in order to print books about Germany in English. But they would sometimes stretch a point to help struggling parties. He then made the point that he was a struggling author in a struggling party. But she was not impressed and gave it as her opinion that the British Party did not struggle half enough and that it deserved nothing but contempt. On the other hand he praised to the skies the productions of “International Publishers” in New York. Perhaps she thought that the help should be given there, and if so it was understandable politically. But Mick Jenkins himself seemed to favour her view on the realm of publishing, if not on the general question, for he said Cornforth published only for the universities and the subjects were too recondite. I thought Lawrence and Wishart, considering their limited resources, did not do too badly. “I see they’re advertising for an assistant manager,” says he.
I naturally turned from the East German American’s strictures to my experience at Wednesday’s Political Committee. Of course Gollan is the most strident character and both he and the next most forceful, George Matthews, were absent. So was Cohen. The thing that struck me was that they are all of about my age – by no means children. Bert Pearce could not understand the legal objections to pressing the Bill of Rights now direct rule seems to have been made permanent. But Ramelson, the lawyer, understood it well. Bill Wainwright wanted an article to explain why it was out of date – he is always actuated by caution. Vic Eddisford mostly talked about Lancashire. Gordon McLennan did not speak, even when I suggested he withdraw in North St. Pancras in favour of Stallard [ie. in contesting the upcoming general election]. Reuben Falber on the other hand strongly opposed it. He would not have him withdraw on the Irish question, so he does not regard it as decisive. Likewise Bert Ramelson read the reference to the principle of withdrawal as if it was merely a pious expression and did not determine policy totally. Thus you would not say that any of them have outstanding ability, but on the other hand they could hardly be said to deserve contempt, either from an American or from anybody else. And I am quite sure that if I were twenty years younger myself the situation in the Irish community in this country would be much more easily improved. For if I were to throw myself into organising work, I might never do the theoretical work that has been postponed year after year. And some such dilemma faces all who reach this age. We will see how – or somebody will see – how well the American handles things then.
I saw Vic Eddisford and Denis Maher for a moment, the latter very affable I thought. But they were busy sorting football pools. I think Denis Maher gets on far better with Eddisford than with Cohen. I don’t really wonder. I went to Piccadilly – Mick Jenkins giving me a lift in his van – but it was two hours before I saw Lenny Draper and young Jim Nolan giving out leaflets together with a former professional boxer called Farrell. They had drink taken. Apparently last week the “National Front” appeared in force and they therefore decided to wait till the football crowds dispersed. A man called Sean Scullion arrived. He was Jim Arnison’s nephew from Belfast. So we agreed to try to bring Arnison down and have a drink with him. In the meantime Lenny Draper told me that he had had a schemozzle with Denis Maher, who was cracking slightly anti-Irish jokes, and that after the air was cleared he had found him much more obliging and had helped him with the duplicating. He had spoken of the IRA. “And I’ve had a confrontation with them,” says Maher, “and I know what they’re capable of.”
Now the confrontation came when he sailed gaily down to Dublin and the Connolly Youth sent him to the house of a sympathiser where it so happened that some Saor Eire boys were staying [Saor Eire, a dissident Republican group]. It appeared to him quite natural that the Manchester Secretary of the CPGB, who dispensed political advice from morning till night and earned the right to do so by being at everybody’s beck and call for 168 hours in a week, should seek to improve their minds. Some of his gratuitous education bore reference to the evils of unbridled nationalism and his eyes nearly popped out of his head when one of the Saor Eires produced a gun. We think this little discomfiture resulted in a slight resentment against the Irish which he was occasionally tempted to work off on Lenny Draper when the latter asked for facilities.
When we got to the Brunswick where we were to meet Sean Scullion, it was closed, presumably because of the football crowds. These were shortly seen tearing through London Road with the police after them, and God knows what poor fellow was being kicked on the ground, unless the police got there in time. But we found our man later. Lenny Draper and Nolan went off on sales. I remained with Scullion till the 10.10 train went off, incidentally, missing the last underground and having to go by bus through the tunnel [ie. under the Mersey to the Birkenhead side] and take a taxi. Scullion was what he called a “mad admirer” of the Provisionals and had lost his brother who were shot this year. His foreman, who was with us, said to me during his temporary absence, “He was grieving about it this afternoon.” He also did time. I forget when and how much. I had a long talk with him in which the fundamental defeatism of the “physical force men” came out repeatedly. Again and again he said that they must “hand it over to the politicians”. But “whom could they trust?” It almost seems that just as schizophrenia is said to arise from some deficiency in the hormonal system, the “physical force” principle arises from an inability to produce a political idea. I was seeking an analogy from workaday life and I asked him what was his trade. I realised that I had embarrassed him when he said “pile-driver – just a labourer”. And of course a Catholic would be. I took the instance of a big stone or rock in the way of the pile, and how it was necessary possibly to hold the driving while it was considered how to get it out of the way. He remarked that it might take a week. “Treat problems the way you treat your job,” said I, “and don’t. imagine your emotions will produce a magical solution.” He professed himself highly impressed by this argument but went on to say things which showed he only partially understood it. “He’s only 23,” said the foreman privately, “and you may be able to get some sense into him.” Now, Arnison said exactly the same thing over the phone, and explained that if he came down there would be argument and disagreement, which anyway I would be better able to handle. So I gather that what is the matter with Arnison, despite WW’s opinion, is not that he is “pro-Provisional”, but that he has only had the picture painted for him by Provisionals and he has no other Irish background to draw upon. He thus uses the equipment of the Lancashire Communist and (as Scullion said) he treats the Irish struggle as you would treat a strike.
September 2 Sunday: Who should telephone at midday but Arnison. He told me that the reason he had not come into town yesterday, apart from sickness, for he has injured his hand in some way, was that he cannot go drink for drink with the young fellow, who is a “terror for booze”. He would see me at the TUC tomorrow. I had asked Scullion to find out if some books the CA Executive sent to Long Kesh had arrived. He also told me that an Ad Hoc Committee had been set up to receive the twenty lobbyers at the end of October and asked if the Connolly Association would come on it. I said, remembering WW, who wanted to keep the Morning Star out of it, that we would consult Lenny Draper.
I gathered nearly three pounds of plum tomatoes from five plants and a pound of beans. There are kohlrabis as big as cricket balls, substantial swedes, red cabbages heading up splendidly, colcannon, fennel as thick as celery – indeed I never got such growth out of the garden. But at 3 pm., just when I had thought of going off cycling, the rain came down, six hours before it was forecast – a bad sign. It is a good sign when it comes late. Mark Clinton rang and confirmed that he would be in Blackpool tomorrow.
September 3 Monday: When I reached Blackpool in the pouring rain Lenny Draper was there, but there was no sign of Mark Clinton or young Nolan, who had telephoned him only this morning saying he was coming. “I don’t think he has a coat,” said Lenny Draper in an unconscious comment on “the affluent society”. As for Mark Clinton, he had telephoned after Toni Curran’s lecture, which only 25 attended (every holiday period branches of the party call meetings on Ireland, but never allow it to conflict with anything they consider important), but at which Toni spoke well. He said he was short of money, so perhaps he was out with the boys after the lecture and has some “geld vertrunken”. Whatever about that, our forces were halved and we were not pleased.
We handed out a few hundred leaflets at the door, which was besieged by screeching Trotskies whom the police had confined behind heavy crash- barriers. Some of them looked like lunatics. Others only behaved like them. Repeatedly delegates were greeted with the cry of “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!” Many of them were unshaven and filthy, all deficient in dignity and respect. The delegates totally ignored them. But I noticed the banner of the Oxford Trades Council in the centre of it all.
However, after distributing the leaflets, we went in to the bar where Michael McGahey was doing himself proud [Mick McGahey,1925-1999,Vice-Chairman of the National Union of Mineworkers and CPGB Executive member]. He is good company but I wonder if he is getting a little too fond of the liquor. I was told by Jack Henry that Lawrence Daily might be induced to say a few words on the Irish question [Lawrence Daly, 1929-2009, NUM General Secretary]. I spoke to him but did not consider it wise to press him myself. I gave McGahey a copy of our “affirmation” and Jack Henry took some also. Then we sat down and Peter Kerrigan appeared [Peter Kerrigan, 1899-1977, CPGB industrial organiser in 1951]. He and Ramelson had been haunting the lobbies like lost souls [Bert Ramelson, 1910-1994, CPGB industrial organiser after Kerrigan]. Of course Kerrigan has mellowed – and not before time. I introduced Lenny Draper. Kerrigan spoke to me about what he called the “launching” of the Irish Democrat. It was when I gave up chemistry and he was organiser. He considered he had to be consulted. Idris Cox who was scared for his own position tried to delay a decision [Idris Cox, 1899-1989; Secretary of the CPGB International Department in 1951]. I learned early that he could give a stab in the back. Kerrigan was thrown into hesitation likewise. So I went to see R.Palme Dutt [Dutt,1896-1974, leading CPGB theoretician]. Immediately he got up and we walked into Kerrigan’s office.
“Desmond!” bawled Kerrigan, “I protest. You’ve gone over my head to Raji.” “Are you upset?” I asked.
“No! No!” – Kerrigan could never be upset. I used the word deliberately. The upshot was that he withdrew his objection and I was launched on a career of poverty. And immediately every rascal within reach brought pressure to see that I didn’t succeed. Prendergast asked me to arrange a holiday for Sean Nolan in Russia. “In your position, you’ve got to be friendly with everybody.” Of course I was in no position to arrange any such thing. A character from Wicklow who later started a boarding house and was then a CP organiser offered to produce “businessmen” who would put up large sums for a vast moneymaking dance, for which I would be in their debt if it was not a success. “But”, says Kerrigan, “The paper’s well established now.” I spoke him fair, but well do I remember the tune some of them were singing twenty years ago. I mentioned Mick Jenkins, whom I met in Manchester on Saturday and that he was working on the “Hungry Forties”, which the university claptrappers are now proving by statistics were not hungry at all. It was only that people thought they were.
McGahey tells the story he always tells when I am around, of how when he was a boy of about fifteen to eighteen I came to Cambuslang where his father was a great reader of the Irish Democrat. He got out the CP platform, well known in the area and well labelled, and we draped it with paper to hide the owner’s name and raised a tricolour. Whom did McGahey now descry but his old school teacher. “Michael McGahey! Do not desecrate that flag! Come off that platform!”
“But this is the Connolly Association,” he protested.
“I know what it is. Come down!” And he had to. He had not long left school.
Among those I spoke to before returning to Liverpool were Lionel Jacobs and SW.
September 4 Tuesday: I decided to go back to Blackpool. This time the weather was delightful, very warm and sunny. It seems McGahey showed our affirmation to his delegation, whose members were very adverse. Indeed, this may have given Daly the opportunity to temporise. And Andy Barr is not here. Jack Henry told me of the ruinous effect of the recent bombs [set off by the Provisional IRA in Belfast], and the fact that nobody in the trade union movement wants to know anything about Ireland. “We’ll have to fight those bastards!” he exclaimed. Then as if realising that his metaphor might be taken literally, he added “Not with violence, of course.” He spoke of “Provisionals” who had the completest contempt for the labour movement. Askins, who was with us, asked if the “lump” was not a great trouble [a way of evading tax by workers in the building trade]. “It is,” says Jack Henry. “The Irish think they can make big money and buy a farm at home.” “I rather think you’re on to a bit of a loser there,” says Askins. But Jack Henry elaborated a three-stage plan to do away with it.
Of course Askins is not the man he was in the days when he was God’s gift to the girls of Manchester. He has atherosclerosis and walks on sticks. He has proved a tough character. “It’s Vietnam that keeps me going now,” he said. “In years gone by you had Pollitt and Gallacher and I used to love to be at their meetings. But you’ve not got people like that now.”
I mentioned that I had observed the age of the Political Committee. “Ah – but Pollitt and Gallacher were in their sixties. They were leaders.” It would be inaccurate for me to say that I did not understand his feeling. And he himself is on the Executive. A whole generation is missing and the present leaders are the best available but the “seconds” of the older generation. I could sense the feeling of ineffectiveness, and though Ramelson would explode to his companions when a decision went against him yesterday, I cannot see him charming the birds of the trees, however much he might desire them.
John Gibson was there, selling Soviet Weekly [John Gibson, Liverpool CA and CPGB member]. I must of course give due weight to my own position in the older generation. I was not talking to the youth, bursting with hope and enthusiasm. He says he does whatever he can for the movement, but he has been in and out of hospital and does what Soviet Weekly pays him to do and has no longer the slightest hankering for positions of leadership.
“It’s a bit sad,” he says, “When you have to realise your limitations.”
“It is the very first pre-requisite for a clever man,” said I, quoting the Old Manchester Jew who explained to me the meaning of “Gnosce teipsum” over twenty years ago [Greaves says in his “Table-Talk” that “Know thyself” means “Know your limitations”, and that when one is aware of these one can seek the help of others to overcome them].
I met George Anthony, however, who is I suppose in his middle forties and has no sense of impending decrepitude on him, and Ken Gill [Member of the TUC General Council]. Anthony said frankly that no union with members in Ireland would touch the Irish question. Soon after that I returned to Liverpool. I could see well how bad things were, and I also had a suspicion that it would not be easy to move the Political Committee to great exertions, though they would lay a blessing on them. When I said there was a need to switch resources to the Irish front there were no enthusiastic encores. I think it is my turn to move. I will go and see Jack Woddis and try to get words translated into actions.
When I got back there was a letter from Sam Levenson asking why we had not reviewed his book on Connolly, which Sean Redmond has [Sam Levenson, author of “James Connolly a Biography”]. He has been deluged with reviews and offered vast audiences if he will change his publisher. He enquires whether I have decided to have nothing more to do with the “counter- revolutionary”. Having rewritten my material (for he gave me nothing but a lead to American material which he had not thought of following himself) and put on it a construction unfavourable to Connolly, he has earned the financial reward of all who “debunk” revolutionaries and assist in the general obfuscation of every important social and political matter. I had a few words with Jim Kelly on the phone and also spoke to Gerard Curran.
September 5 Wednesday: I had at first intended to go to London today, but stayed here to lift my onions, a much better crop this year.
September 6 Thursday: I salted down about five large jars of runner beans. I never saw such growth. There are many more coming, more than I can possibly use, unless I remain a few days of my intended holiday.
September 7 Friday (London): I went to London and started work on the paper. Jane Tate told me that Tony Coughlan is still in Belgium and sent Jane a message to the effect that he was held up as the friend who is sailing to Brazil was not leaving for a few days.
September 8 Saturday: I was again busy with the paper, but in the evening was out in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham. It is a strange there has been no word from Mark Clinton.
September 9 Sunday: We held the first Standing Committee since Sean Redmond went. It is remarkable to see how Charlie Cunningham is taking over the leadership and putting into effect the things that Sean did not like to do. There have been poster parades each week and more are planned. This afternoon we had a meeting in Hyde Park – the first this year! Of course as Sean Redmond got less interested in London, he slowed everything down. As Pat Bond said the week he replaced Tony Coughlan [ie. as full-time CA organiser in 1961], there is a political brain, but little political energy.
September 10 Monday: The man Toni Curran has found – Bunting, one of our members – came to help in the office this morning carrying a YHA [Youth Hostel Association] bag. He is about 65 and retired in good health. Toni says he is a somewhat pessimistic individual who always looks on the dark side, but no matter. It must have been around midday when police sirens sounded and cars, fire engines and ambulances raced past. Later an ambulance was seen making its way to the Royal Free Hospital against the traffic flow.
“What on Earth is it,” said I, as ever fresh contingents of police spread by in cars.
“Well, I thought I heard a bang,” says Stella Bond.
“How long ago?”
“About four minutes. But I didn’t know whether it was a sack of cement falling on the building site or a bomb at King’s Cross.”
“Or an atom test in Sweden.”
Of course we went out and found it was indeed a bomb at King’s Cross and there was a bomb scare later. Charlie Cunningham came in during the morning.
September 11 Tuesday: I continued work on the paper and despite my not receiving Tony Coughlan’s copy, I am well advanced. Madge Davison rang up asking if I knew about the further women internees [ie. in Northern Ireland]. I said I did but could not do much more as I was having a holiday. “Where will you be going?” she asked. I said with only partial truth that I did not know yet. “I might go to Dublin at some stage.” “If you are this way, then call in.” I replied that Belfast was a place you visited when you had business. “Oh,” said she, the cat coming out claws rampant, “You’re another of those people who are afraid to come here.” I repeated that it was not the place for a holiday. I could have added that the women’s delegation was delayed while she spent a month in Eastern Europe and left nobody to do her work. She then disclosed that she had been writing round organisations in England telling them to “get off their backsides.” She asked about the TUC. I replied that after the explosions and fire-bombs there was a reluctance to do more. And I indicated that I thought bombs were counterproductive. She made no reply. I could see how well she felt. Even if it was counterproductive, she was glad that the English were getting a taste of them. In the same spirit, they all went for direct rule – to spite the Protestants!
September 12 Wednesday: I spoke to Sean Kenny on the phone, asking what had happened to Mark Clinton [ie.in Birmingham]. He told me that he had written to me and the letter must have crossed mine. But I did not receive it and would not feel confident that he had written it at all. He might have been thinking of writing it. However, what Kenny had to say was interesting. Following one of the Birmingham explosions, the police issued an imaginary picture of a man it was desired to interview.
At his school, his pupils said, “Sir, you do not look like the mad bomber” [Mark Clinton was a teacher]. And he did, for the police were up at his house and he had to establish his movements in some detail before they were satisfied and left him.
Now Stella Bond is a CP branch secretary and the Congress is coming off soon. I was very surprised to hear her criticise the published resolutions on the ground that they were not resolutions but statements, and mediocre at that. Now this was odd because it reminded me of the sense of tiredness I seemed to detect at the Political Committee. Do the able young people leave active politics as soon as they have the deposit for a house? Take Jimmy Reid. He could not live on the pay [Jimmy Reid, 1932-2010, Scottish trade union activist; leader of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in in 1971]; Hughie Wyper – not so able, but able enough, first in the Trade Union club, then in the Trades Council. And the faithful few carry the burden till they wear out.
September 13 Thursday (Liverpool): I arrived in Liverpool on the midnight train. The paper was already complete. My first crop of tomatoes were reddening up nicely and many more had grown. The beans were as prolific as ever. Lenny Draper rang and I arranged to see him tomorrow.
September 14 Friday: I went to Ripley but returned via Manchester, which these days means a day tour through Sheffield. Lenny Draper was at Piccadilly and told me he is planning a meeting in October. He has two people to help with papers now. I had not taken much notice when he mentioned it last, but he referred to his belief that two Pakistanis were following him about town, though apparently they have ceased. I recall that one of the boys, possibly Denis Maher, thought he was suffering from delusions. But then they do not agree. Then he says the typist has left because she can’t stand Maher. However, to resume, he told me that among his childhood recollections is one of going into some church or similar building where it was necessary to remove the shoes and that he had found his description tallied exactly with what a Pakistani told him of a mosque. He wondered if there was a mosque in Cork (whence the family came and presumably whither they returned when he was small); and why his father never went to church. What was the psychologists call this? The Daniel Deronda complex? Now he spoke about it as if he had already referred to it with me. But he had not.
Late at night came a call from Jane Tate. There was no sign of Tony Coughlan. She intimated that the friend he was seeing off in Belgium was leaving for Brazil with another girl to establish a hairdressing business. Helga had expressed a high opinion of her. And the two women had discussed the romantic possibility of Tony Coughlan’s dissuading her from her transatlantic adventure and bearing his bride triumphantly to Dublin. I’m sure that’s what she’d like, says Jane Tate. Possibly the delay betokened such an issue. Incidentally there was a bomb scare at Piccadilly.
September 15 Saturday: Quite early Tony Coughlan rang in person. He might come up tomorrow. If he did, could I put him up? But he would ring again. There was some girl whom he wanted to show around London. But five minutes later while I was still thinking that the woman had possibly had her way but wondering why he was returning alone, a much sober, almost crestfallen Tony telephoned to say he was coming at once, and I had the impression that the quicker he left London behind, the better he’d be pleased. Seemingly she didn’t want to be shown round London at all.
He arrived in the afternoon and as we went into the City. Later he told me that the girl who was going to Brazil was the German I met with him when he had appendicitis, soon after returning to Dublin. She had had her womb removed for the sake of a benign tumour. What’s the good of getting married if you can’t have children, asks Tony. Then he observed that Asmal had adopted two.
September 16 Sunday: We caught the bus to Llanberis, and walked up Bwylch pen Barras to the col. The weather was dry, very warm but not clear. One could see about as far as Moel Ffamau and Foel Goch, nothing beyond. Then, after we had returned I accompanied Tony Coughlan to Rock Ferry, from where he went to Holyhead. I would not say he was unduly affected by the failure of his romance – I do not think he went with the view to changing her mind. “I’m cautious in these things,” he remarked. His mother had prophesied he would still be a bachelor at forty – and he very nearly is.
September 17 Monday: Here was a wasted day. There was a notice from the Gas Board about North Sea gas conversion, so I decided to wait till tomorrow when their inspector will call. I merely pottered about and made a fruitless excursion.
September 18 Tuesday: The inspector came in the morning. Then came the next wasted afternoon. I decided to look round the local bookshops. How to get to Egremont became the question. Yesterday I reached Hamilton Square, was told to catch a No.13 bus at Woodside, then found it did not run till after business hours. Today I made for Park Station, then Seacombe, then to King’s Rd. But I could find no book shop. The whole place seemed half deserted. Hardly any traffic. I learned afterwards that the ferries were on strike. It only became necessary for me to find no storage jars in the shops on Grange Road, and for it to begin to rain, to complete a sorry afternoon.
September 19 Wednesday: The weather seems to have broken for it has turned cold. I went to Lewis’s and got the storage jars. Then I collected several pounds of green tomatoes and made about 8 lbs. of chutney and salted down many more beans.
September 20 Thursday: I went to Chester in the afternoon, by train, to look for book shops, but there were none.
September 21 Friday: I spent most of the day in irresolution over whether the weather was fine enough to cycle into Wales. I decided it was not, so pent the time reading and playing.
September 22 Saturday: I went to Manchester. Lenny Draper was not at Victoria at the appointed time, so I went to Jimmy McGill’s book shop. Already Lenny had telephoned there. He had just missed me. This is the best second-hand bookshop, with an enormous amount of stock. Jimmy McGill is one of the nicest we have. I chose books amounting to £1-85 pound. He was going to charge me £1and I had to insist on splitting the difference to get him to accept 30/-. And he gave Lenny Draper £10 only last week for the Connolly Association. There was a bicycle in the shop which Jimmy McGill moved. Apparently it belongs to a boy of about 15, still at school, whom he took in to help him five or more years ago as an urchin in Great Western St. Apparently he has become very interested in the book trade and has formed a collection himself. His turn was there and he himself came soon. In the topmost story he has his sanctum with a track on which he circulates toy motor cars. Unfortunately, Jimmy McGill’s premises are due for demolition and he is finding it all but impossible to find a place. When I consider the number of second-hand bookshops there used to be in every town and the way they have all gone, first through the war, then through the developer’s bulldozer, I see one further example of the constant deterioration of everything which has gone on since 1939.
Later I met Lenny Draper at Piccadilly where he has been collecting papers and we discussed further plans. Apparently, those who were on the Askins committee are now tied up in Arnison’s nonsense. But as soon as it is over we may be able to get something moving.
September 23 Sunday: The weather was bad enough yesterday. It was worse today, so that though I might have got away in the two or three hours of dryness, it would have been only to catch the other period. So I went on reading and playing and went out for a bottle of whiskey for the night.
September 24 Monday: I found more tomatoes I had missed, lifted some potatoes and transplanted some leeks. But it was raining again by dark after threatening all day. A letter came from Mark Clinton. Frank Watters and some others had told him that they were going for the Trades Council to Trades Council delegation [ie. to Belfast]. And if the Connolly Association cared to “go it alone” or something else they would get “no help at all”. So that is the arrogant talk of these unconscious jingoes who are so self-confident in outward demeanour and so uncertain within. For while such a delegation will do no harm, the uncertainty is shown in this – that the delegates will go, they will come back and report, and then nothing more need be done. For any follow-up will demand a decision of the Belfast Trades Council [whom the British delegates would be visiting]. Mark Clinton told me he had not written from being overwhelmed with schoolwork and that his missing of the train to Blackpool was due to a bomb scare. But I fear he is being sucked into the Birmingham bog. The trouble is that the people he has to do with, like Frank Watters [of the local CPGB] know insufficient about the subject to know they have a great deal more to learn. So every city in Britain is pursuing its own parochial line as the terms of reference are not Irish independence but parochial advantage.
I was twice in touch with Lenny Draper, who is proposing to bring Betty Sinclair to a meeting.
September 25 Tuesday: The weather showed no greater promise and I am postponing my departure from day to day.
September 26 Wednesday: The mail this morning contained a letter from Charlie Cunningham enclosing a £10 note, wishing me many happy returns of tomorrow and suggesting that I invest in some bin ends. I was favourably surprised by this surprise and wrote expressing gratification.
September 27 Thursday (Cynghordy, Carmarthenshire): Though it was clouding over and heavy rain was forecast I decided to go away or I never would. A letter came from Cathal in the morning [ie.Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] returning £5 I lent him in Oxford. But he had missed my birthday. Not that that upset me or surprised me in the least. And other people (like Tony Coughlan) think I am already away. There was a certain wry irony in the fact that most of Cathal’s letter was taken up with an account of the death and funeral of Brendan Scott – and for the life of me I can’t place him [Brendan Scott, 1933-1973, Irish socialist and anti-apartheid campaigner]. Cathal seemed very upset. Apparently he was only 39 and wasted away. For myself, the event mingled oddly with the ascertainable fact that at 9 pm. this evening I attain the age of 60. Middle-age is finished and old age begins – but by the mercy of whatever gods may be – not yet physiologically. My hair is still predominantly black and when I push my bicycle up a one-in-five hill above Cynghordy (where I am writing) my heart beat a tattoo much as it did when I was twenty. Of course there are signs. I found two grey hairs on one arm. Veins in the lower legs are becoming prominent – but I noticed the same phenomenon in a man of less than 36 who was sitting opposite me in the train.
At the same time I have to do some thinking. However sound one feels the fact remains that after this Rubicon is crossed and that tally marked up it is impossible to ignore the fact that you might fall down dead in the street, have a cerebral haemorrhage when you stooped to pick up a halfpenny, or suffer all manner of more complicated ailments. Therefore I must make a will. And as my affairs are complicated, I must consult a lawyer. Tony Coughlan kindly consented to act as literary executor. But at present everything is unprotected. I can’t afford not to act soon. I want to remain in the world as long as I can, notwithstanding the people I am compelled to share it with, but my tenure is not permanent and I don’t know how long I’ll remain on good terms with the landlord.
Then again, should there be any changes of policy? Probably I should soon adopt the slogan, “finish things.” Nothing that has to be completed should be left half done. Reaping must take precedence over sowing. Perhaps also I should take things more easily and not bother my head about people who annoy me. I was wondering about leaving London and concentrating on writing. But for the time being I have rejected that, as despite seven years I have established no roots in Liverpool, and all my friends are in London or Dublin. It is essential not to become a recluse. I’ve proposed to think these things and others over. It is now 9 o’clock.
I came by train to Cynghordy and am now at Bryn poeth uchaf [A youth hostel near Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire]. When I arrived I found no kindling had been left, and of course the vegetation was soaked, even if one risked a soaking oneself by looking for sticks. I contrived to get a fire going. I found some small slivers of wood by sweeping the floor of an outhouse where some sawing and hewing had been going on. I lit this with some of the warden’s circulars, as everything else was art paper, and put bacon rinds on the tiny fire. This I built coal around and succeeded (rather to my surprise) in getting a roaring blaze. But again more trouble. The warden had no milk. And I left my emergency supply at her house. All very provoking, but I got away.
September 28 Friday: It poured in torrents all evening and night. As I went down to the farm in the morning, cirrus swiftly swept across the sun and the warden told me rain was forecast for the afternoon. I allowed four hours for a cold front, somewhat generously as I found, and went through Rhandirmwyn expecting to meet rain in the mountains. But the journey provided vicissitudes of another kind. I asked the farmer about the road – metalled since I was here last, and indeed they have flooded a magnificent gorge motorists could not get up and have created highways for this scum among the plantations that are clearing out the native farmers. “Plenty of bends and cornels,” said he, revealing the Welsh speaker. And indeed there were, and “viewpoints” and abomination on top of abomination, a “nature trail” that some set of asinine bureaucrats had heard of in America and decided to bring here. I was astonished at the thousands of pounds palpably spent to allow motorists to rubberneck free, while a penny on the small farmer is asserted to promise the ruin of the state.
It was very hard work up to the end of the reservoir. Then the road was metalled no longer – and flooded. I had to hump the bicycle onto the bank many times. But it did not rain. Instead it blew fresh from the SW, taking me up to the Tregaron sign and then striding across the tops of the mountains till my knees were read as beetroots, though it was not cold. It began to clear and just as I left Tregaron for Blaencaron the first shower came. The warden had not put the key out, so I had to go back to her farm. Then there was no detergent and I had to go back. The wee girl who is now a student at Llanbedr drove up and showed me how to light a newfangled gas fire the townsmen think appropriate for the country. I cooked steak and spaghetti and scalded my left wrist. Then the rain began in a series of heavy showers, and it turned very cold. The warden told me she was short of bookings, apparently none for this weekend. I imagine people took their holidays in the good weather and think it has broken now.
Perhaps that is why I met only one cyclist – just before the metallic road stopped this side of Rhandirmwyn. It was an old man of well over 70, I’ll swear, wearing kneebreeches and ornamental stockings, tall, thin, wiry and pushing a somewhat old-fashioned bicycle. He hailed me with a smile, as if he would have liked to say “Good Day” but had not quite the energy.
September 29 Saturday (Tregaron): The showers fell noisily at night and for most of the day. The streams are in spate. Worse still, it is colder. I went twice into Tregaron to get provisions, but apart from that could do little but drink tea. However, strangely enough, I feel the better of the change so soon as this, possibly thanks to the week or more spent doing little in Liverpool.
September 30 Sunday: There was not so much of the Sabbath here as there would have been. There were cars outside the churches, but tractors on the farms, some habited in their Sunday best, others in as elegant vehicles in their weekday worst. I went to Llandewi-Brefi, coming close to the site of the Roman Fort Bremia on Sarn Helen. I wonder if “Bremia” gives the “brefi”. I have no idea what it means and have brought only the “geiiradur ysgol” [School Dictionary], the big one being too bulky. There were showers in the night but only two or three spots during the day. I spied cirrus in the South- West early on, but it was no higher at sunset. I swear the wind was not more than a point West of North and while the sun was warm when the cloud left a hole for it to shine through, the day was cold and the evening very cold. I lit the gas fire and struggled with an article in Y Cymro which described some local places of interest.
I noticed some of the handiwork of the Welsh language Society. They had tried to clip “Lampeter” off one sign in Tregaron, had broken another off entirely by the bridge and had similarly ripped off the “Lampeter” sign at Pont Llanio. I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t delighted, though it struck me that if they could fix Llanbedr Pont Steffan signs to the old signs instead of breaking them off, they could put on to the authorities the odium of taking down a Welsh sign. I did not get the impression from the wee girl at the farm that she was much inclined to do this. At least she was not talking nationalism as she was a couple of years ago and has bought a car. It is amazing however that any students at all even break through the stifling inconsequentialities they are fed at these colleges.
I went for a walk up the mountain as dusk was falling and returned by what I took to be a part of the zodiacal light – a heavy range of ragged black cloud stood over the western horizon. The cirrus had reached the zenith and the alto-cumulus had become lenticular. Yet after dusk it became cold and clear. The superficial signs are for a wet day, but the wind has fallen calm. Indeed, at 10 pm. the sky was brilliant and Formalhaut was glittering in the jaws of the pass, incidentally showing how decisively the valley bends south.
October 1 Monday: It was not raining in the morning. On the contrary, it was bright but cold and clear, with a few cirrus later followed by altocumuli which obscured the sun. The Daily Telegraph weather map showed an enormous anti-cyclone over the Atlantic, so I hoped for the best.
I went into Tregaron in the morning. The rivers have fallen with astonishing swiftness after the two dry days, showing how little accumulated water was in the boglands. The Teifi was about six inches deep at Tregaron Bridge, and this tempted one of the wee schoolgirls – a bright little lassie of about nine or ten – to conceive the notion of crossing the river by means of two motor tyres. She was already a couple of yards from the bank when I arrived, with her feet on one tyre, trying to place the second in the faster-flowing part of the current. This achieved, she jumped on to it. But it was clear to me that at the very centre the hedging of the tyres was going to be sufficient for the current to sweep them away. She was thus not be able to place the second and would be stranded on the first. All her schoolfellows, boys and girls, were on the bridge watching her. Soon they were joined by tourists and a few locals. However, after about ten minutes she decided the task was too much for her and somewhat sheepishly beat a retreat.
I returned to Blaencaron and then walked right up the valley and passed the new plantation to where the road from Llanwrtyd comes down to Diphwys. I had in mind to see if it were possible to walk from Tyncornell to Blaencaron. The soil is very boggy. I left my shoes hanging on a gate, hoping they would be there on my return when I left the path. I found a securitised dry path back and the shoes still there but decided against walking. You couldn’t do the whole thing in bare feet and your shoes would be pulled off you and made rotten into the bargain. But in the height of summer you could do the whole thing dry shod, especially as you would not be fighting the fear of dusk. Indeed it was getting dark when I got back, though mainly because of the clouds. The evening remained cloudy and I was glad to expect a milder night. There was indeed no dew until quite later on, but no stars at all.
October 2 Tuesday (Tyncornel): I decided to make for Tyncornel and collected stores at Tregaron. I went to Llandewi Brefi and turned up the pass. As I passed a farm on the right an elderly farmer was shouting “Hey” to the dog but seeing me turned to the tension in my direction. “Aha,” said he, “the last man to come down this road from Tyncornel on a bicycle is in hospital.” I replied that I regretted hearing it. “Indeed,” he went on, “he was a man about your age. I agreed that that made it worse. “You don’t believe me, I can see – but I can prove it. The bicycle is here. The front wheel is buckled.” I said I could believe him, and not for a moment would I doubt his word. “But come and see it. Come now.” So having nothing better to do, I did. And sure enough, behind a huge heap of sheep-shearings was a racing bicycle with a front wheel in an appalling condition, twisted out of shape. When we came to the road again, he said, “So there – you can see what can happen.” “Well”, says I, “It is true that anything can. And I heard of one farmer who lost his fingers while shearing his sheep and another was electrocuted milking his cows.”
“Ah – indeed. You can’t tell – but you’re no chicken for riding a bicycle.” “Sometimes,” I rejoined, “the chickens are no better than the hens.”
“Ah, you’re right there. Ha. Ha.”
It reminded me – and surely this is what they mean by the “hen gardi” [the old warden] – of the time that Lancaster and I were cycling in County Kilkenny [In 1939, see Vol.5]. We were passing along that great avenue of interlocking trees between Cashel and Callan, or more likely Clonmel and Callan, when something dropped like a stone from a tree and Lancaster admitted a cry. He had been stung on the thigh, and within minutes there was a lump as big as an egg. We were soon in Callan and I suggested a half pint of porter, which if I remember aright cost about 3d. – and there the locals came in to see the invalid.
“’Tis something that reminds me of Peter above.”
“Him that died, is it?”
“Aye, ‘twas a p’isoned floi?”
“And in the same place it hit him.”
The rest can be imagined. I think we treated Lancaster with creams and he was rightly glad to see Kilkenny Town. That’s thirty-four years ago, but I still recall it when these jocular prophets of woe appear. However, I checked my spokes. I was not pleased at finding one missing and one loose in the back wheel. So the old villain did me a service with his persiflage. I can’t see that there was anything in the road, which was firm and smooth, to cause such a buckle – though the farmer talked as if some spokes went and that was that. More likely he hit the side. This was last week and the weather was rough.
Near to the col I met a young man of about 22 walking down. He had been at Tyncornel with his friend who had gone ahead on a motorcycle. As a learner driver he could not carry two. I recalled seeing him outside Llandewi. He was dressed in khaki “parka” and wore long curls. This was a superior youngster altogether, well built, firm and athletic, with a utilitarian cut about him. He told me that he had a bicycle and wished he had brought it. When I reached Tyncornel everything was in good order, but the young giant had apparently turned off the calor gas cylinder with the determination that it must not leak even a single molecule of hydrogen if there is any of that in it. I could not revive it. I found that there are two systems and satisfied myself I could get lighting, even if in a somewhat inconvenient position. Otherwise I would have run (cautiously) down to Llanddewi and got back to Blaencaron. I made a fire and warmed some food I had brought. Then I noticed there was a white pony in a field. It stood for a few minutes at one gate, then for a good twenty at another. I guessed somebody would come to stable it and noticed several stables and some fresh droppings. However soon after six it gave up its vigil and walked away as if in dudgeon down to the river. I was surprised if it were to be left out all night. But it was only by accident that I saw a van parked at a gate. I went towards it as I was anxious to secure the services of some lusty farm worker who would not break his wrist on the cylinder. Somebody shouted from below that he would be up in a few minutes.
Now who should appear but the old ruffian I met a couple of years ago. Big, vulgar, calculating – another “hen gardi”, even tighter with his money. He opened the cylinder with a stick from the van. He spoke some Welsh to his younger companion, a pleasanter person altogether, probably his employee, but mostly English of a kind. As he handed down empty cylinders from the plinth he would say, “There’s a big one – and now two back uns. Now there’s another back un behind.” He showed me the store. “You’ve got to be honest,” he said. I imagine he appreciated the temptations that have to be overcome. But this time I was caught out, though I knew his tricks. I gave him one pound to pay 82d. He had no copper. I had no 2 pence, only 5 pence. I took out of my pocket 25 pence – two 10 pence coins and a 5 pence. I foolishly held the two 10 pence coins in my hand while he turned out every pocket he had looking for fresh 2 pence, then 1 pence. The two 10 pence coins he had left on the table disappeared by magic, and with a great flourish he gave me the final one penny,l eaving me with my own 20 pence. And in that split second when I momentarily believed that this was the change (The old trick of diverting attention had worked splendidly) he had escaped and all was lost. I couldn’t help admiring the sleek old scoundrel who must have remembered me and he saying, “Ha! Ha! – he got me last time, but I got him this time.”
There is no doubt the Cardigan people are close enough. This morning I was in the butchers in Tregaron. The younger man, perhaps the son of the house, about 35, was serving. A tall Englishmen with receding hair was there. I judged him to be a don. There was no local accent, except Aldershot perhaps [ie. the Aldershot military base]. He spent £4.5. “Can I have a replica of that excellent pork you sold us yesterday.” He was given it. “What is the name of that cut – if it has a name?” Then he must have £2 worth of steak and a shoulder of mutton. He pranced up and down asking questions like a schoolboy, trying the sharpness of the butcher’s knives and condescending to show an interest in this lowly avocation, as became an enlightened man of intellect – but he did not forget to indicate the condescension. His wife came in, an anthropoid dressed in knee-breeches and a fawn coat. There was a huge car and two children in it. When he took out a £5 note to pay, he dropped another, affected surprise and picked it up, looking round to see if there had been any effect. The butcher remained totally impassive. He was taking money. He did not mind being patronised at all. But whereas in Ireland there would have been a contempt for the man which would have been shown the minute he had gone, especially to a bystander who would not stand by much longer, “D’you know him?” I asked, giving the opportunity. “No. I’ve seen him before.” And in a way of course it is good. The tourists and the weekend cottagers come and go. The tenor of local life is maintained.
Maintained, yes, but the signs of retreat are there still. The excellent shop where I get groceries was, I am sure, last year independent. Now it is “Spar”. (though the name of Wellcome is still there in smaller lettering, and it is just as good) and is hung throughout with flashy advertisements, everyone in English. The English monopoly insists on English language advertisements. I hear Welsh-speakers asking for something with “please” instead of [Welsh phrases, hard to decipher]. Of course “please” is shorter. And in the country forestry, which would have been a boon, is wiping out the sheep farmer and furthering the policy of the accursed English Government of securing total rural depopulation at all costs – for I am assured that only vast subsidies keep the process going and that not a penny has yet been made of forestry anywhere In this county, nor is there likely to be. I do not regard it as the most destructive activity. At least it is agricultural and it is productive – not like turning the mountains into ski-slopes with artificial snow. Apparently the change came when state forestry, which took into account social factors, was replaced by commercial.
Where the forest has not taken over, and I suppose over 60% of the land is still open, the old life continues. I saw shepherds on ponies bringing the sheep down from the mountains, each with two dogs. There is always a right angle where the sheep is placed, and the two dogs are at the ends of the hypotenuse. The ponies bring their riders up the steepest declivities at a stately walking pace with apparent ease, and having attained a point of pre-eminence, they stand like equestrian statues on the skyline. I suppose not a sheep escapes them. Now though this was the first day when one could feel warm, there was an easterly breeze which seemed to be increasing and had a nip a nip of autumn in it. I hope there is not a cold winter in store, though there could be.
October 3 Wednesday: The mist rapidly cleared off the hills, driven by a strong east wind in which there was a stronger still nip of autumn. A low drifting rack of higher altitude than fracto-stratus, but lower than fracto- cumulus, broke irregularly to reveal a smaller upper air compromise, neither alto-cumulus nor cirro-cumulus, as if the water did not know whether to freeze or not. All very transitional. I didn’t do much. What is a holiday for but to yield to every whim as it comes along? I washed a pair of shorts and mended another. I walked down the valley and up the mountain but found the wind strong and the sunbursts too infrequent for staying out long. I reflected with amusement on the old Divil I was prepared for and (shame on me!) who got away with 20 pence and I watching him. To be like that a man must have nothing but money in his head. Except for hypocrisy, for I recalled some words about “all being Christians”!
In the morning a man on horseback rounded up all the sheep on Llothr llwyd and drove them across Pen Rhdw-clochdy. He had two dogs. One sheep seemed to show exceptional independence, followed its own path into a clump of bracken and hid there, as I thought. The dogs circled round, but the shepherd called them off. “Haha,” said I, “They’ve missed that one”. I watched the bracken patch for ten minutes, but the sheep did not emerge. Then I saw them leave another behind while the main flock in single file in the far distance, appearing like long streaks of flint or frozen streams on the mountainside, held to the ancient tracks to the next valley. Later I saw five sheep on the mountain and I concluded that they had crossed the stream and belonged to the flock on this side, which I take to be the property of the old ruffian the caretaker, whose name I discovered on a notice – a Mr Wil Lewis.
I had rather promised myself a full day alone and indeed was congratulating myself that I had been alone six nights and could brush up my Welsh and think over all the things that have to be thought over. But at 5.15 a young man whom I would judge to be not above 19 or 20 appeared, dark “mediterranean” like the lad I met yesterday, but like him also English, from of all places Orpington. However, he turned out quite an interesting youngster. Quite ready to talk, still possessing the naivete of a boy but claiming a man’s estate, he readily told me his story.
He attended a “secondary school”, which I take to mean the much condemned “secondary modern”. The “secondary school” I attended would now be called a “grammar” school, though the distinction was not made in those days – the “central” schools being regarded as a continuation of “primary” education. He told me they were divided into four “streams”, that he belonged to “B”. All the best teachers, all the resources, were concentrated on thirty pupils categorised as “A” and these were made to work. As for his class, even those who wanted to work could not do so. He would sit through a chemistry lesson trying to take an interest as paper aeroplanes, electric bands, rolled-up scraps of paper, sailed through the air and the teacher was pleased enough if they didn’t hit himself, and would not have dreamed of the possibility of calming to the slightest degree the constant uproar and disturbance, even if he had known how to do so, or to attempt it at the least. The result was he left school knowing nothing. “Yet,” said he, “I think I have brains.”
Now he had, if range of interest was anything to go by. We climbed on the hill behind, Bryn y Gorlan. He was interested in archaeology. He spent three months each year in the hostels and was hoping to climb Cader Idris, which he could not get over calling Cayder Ighdriss) and Snowden. He had deep respect for Celtic antiquity and had obviously read popular accounts of the Dark Ages. His occupation? Seaman on a container vessel run by a giant consortium. Apparently it is a luxurious life. Repeatedly he reverted to the splendid meals, five-course dinners, wines and liqueurs, single cabin and general comfort which he had been enjoying for seven months after a spell on the passenger lines. These he described as staffed by a drunken rabble. If a man refuses a ship, he must take the next one. When he was sent down to ask the seamen to turn to he would find them stretched out among the beer bottles and would have to open fresh beer and pour it for them, push the glass into their shaking hands and then try to get the place cleaned up. I take it he is training to be a ship’s officer as he is studying navigation for his mate’s ticket. He showed off his knowledge of astronomy, but he did not really know the meaning of such expressions as “declination” or “great circle”. This I increasingly found: all his knowledge was superficial. But his curiosity was quite boundless, and his judgement of what was worth knowing good.
To my surprise, he was in favour of the Common Market. I told him what was wrong with it. “I was against it”, he said. “But now we’re in it I want it to be a success. It will be the greatest power in the world. At least I hope it will.”
“And who will it fight then?” He made no response. “But”, he added at another time, “how can we get out of it. We’ve nowhere to go”!
“Why go anywhere?”
“We can’t stand on our own.”
“Sweden? Switzerland? Austria? Norway? Iceland? South Africa? Japan?”
“Japan! Oh, that’s only America. I hate America. I’ve been in New York and San Francisco. You should see the funeral shops – all flashing neon signs. Everything is the same.”
On the other hand he pointed to the stability of the “South of Ireland” and thought England should get out of the Six Counties. He had been to Germany, France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Holland and heaven knows where else, and had something to say for the politics of all. He was against Apartheid and expected another Vietnam in South Africa. He was indignant at the overthrow of Allende [which had happened in Chile the year before, 1972]. “There was a Marxist government using democratic methods and see what happened to it.” He was going to tell me, but instead he asked, who do you think was behind that?
“The State Department”, said I.
“So do I! D’you know, I think the Russian system is better than the American one.” But there was no trace of the Socialist about him. He was indignant at the Labour proposal to nationalise twenty-five top industries. “Look at the state of the railways, and steel and coal. They’re nationalised.”
He thought television was “eighty percent rubbish”. “When I have a place of my own, I’ll get rid of the television. What’ll I have in a place? I think a bookcase.” He is reading about six correspondence courses at once. One is German, but he mispronounced all the words and cannot hold the simplest conversation. He says he learned French at school, but again he cannot pronounce it at all. He gives it a trochaic accent and gives all the vowels the wrong value. He would like to have learned Latin but had no notion of what accidence was and did not know the meaning of the word “accusative”. He finds “all those endings” difficult in German – but he did not mean the nouns, which can puzzle at first, but the conjugation. Of course he had been taught this “Sis” business [a mode of familiar address], which cuts the thing off from its English base. I have seen paradigms in which “du” did not appear. Certainly he did not know it was third person.
But to add to the range, he said he delighted in “classical music” and named, perhaps unassuredly, though not totally so, Mozart and Chopin, his preference being the latter. He could not play, so I presume he cannot read. He has gone in for every kind of “course” you could think of. On the whole the chemistry was the soundest. But his fool teachers, and surely it has become the most rubbishy profession on earth, had told him the meaning of nothing. Presumably because they knew it themselves. He mentioned the word “isotope” but he could not explain it. “My teachers said that the neutrons were the glue that kept the atomic nucleus together.” But he thought they had a negative charge. He had never heard of neutrons decaying into protons and electrons. And what he knew of the last came from a course in radio engineering, again one presumes unfinished. I told him whenever anything was “iso” you should find out the identity. But he connected “iso” with the English word “isolate”. So of course he couldn’t understand what “isotope” meant. He thought “iso” was a prefix meaning “alone” and that to “isol-ate” was to “make alone”. So much for the enemies of Latin. They jumble things that should be different. It was at this point that I gave him my sole piece of fatherly advice. “Never be content with approximate knowledge.” I think it may have gone home.
But he disclosed to me the temptations of high-spirited young people today. He had gone flying in Australia. “It’s like sailing, only better.” He told with glee of the American who had brought a bottle of whiskey into a hostel and made two Australians drunk before the warden’s eyes. East of the mountains there were no British people in the hostels, only Americans, Australians and Germans. The bohemianism attracted him, though he was not beyond criticising it. He gave me many more examples, too numerous to relate, as the old writers used to say, concluding that all his school friends including the select thirty, were “commuting” into London everyday, but that he, “Thank God”, escaped out of it.
I was extremely exercised by this revelation of the mind of an adolescent. (“How I’d love to be on the top of a mountain when the mist came down.”!) and considered it a fairly understated reflection of the present position of world politics.
October 4 Thursday (Blaencaron): The young fellow last night talked of staying a second day. I was not too anxious for this. Though an interesting boy, he was still only a boy and extremely ingenuous in many things. However, as I had hoped, impatience got the better of him. He was then talking of walking to Tregaron. I had no great wish to see him parked there. It was obviously useless to tell him that if the mist came down while he was on the mountains and he broke his ankle and lay in a bog-hole, only I knew he was going on the mountains and I had no means of knowing if he came off them. I preferred to say it would take a very long time. He would spend hours striding bogs and plantations. He was impressed by this and set off for Llandewi Brefi and the North. Mind, he was in many ways a decent lad. He had used only matches. I found him putting half of his box into mine to even things up. He found draughts in a drawer. “A very inferior game to chess. Chess is the game of games.” I did however reflect that he did not refer to a single work of literature. He was thus of the “scientist” category. And one of his wishes I was most thankful did not come true. “I wish those two American girls I met a few nights ago were here. They can give you an absolutely marvellous massage. Is begins at your feet. . .” About 11 am. he strode away in fine style. His name was Litton.
After an early lunch I walked along the ridge between Afonydd Doethie Fawr and Doethie Fach. I stopped when the bog and forestry began. It was quite easy to see the plantation above Diphwys, which would be about halfway, and the unmistakable shoulder of Y Drum on the far side of the pass would be sufficient landmark for anybody. I was surprised at the drainage from Llyn Berwyn, which all the maps show as divided between Doethie Fach and Doethie Fawr. If this happens it is something I saw nowhere else. Conceivably a special dam could be constructed, but there is no sign of it, and the divergence following a confluence takes place well below the lake. From where I stood it did not appear that Llyn Berwyn (which presumably once drained north-westward) drained into Doethie Fawr at all. One guesses that the confluence does not take place, so that the divergence does not need to, but since the whole area is one of indeterminate bogland the cartographers have made a mistake which has been copied by successive generations. I realised that time and the roughness of land being prepared for afforestation prevented my investigating it at closer range.
Today gave the last warm spells yet. The morning dawned grey with the mountains smothered in mist. There renewed the autumnal nip in the wind, but in the afternoon it seemed to veer slightly. When I went out at about 11 pm. the night was milder. One could see Jupiter through a haze, but the wind seemed to have reverted to the West. If this brings warmth, good, if rain not so good.
A little final reflection of the young fellow. Clearly he desperately wanted an enthusiasm. He described the favourable attitude of American and Australian tourists without realising their destructive impact and declared, “This could be the finest country on earth if only we had leaders.” Of course, when capitalism is in decay, the system of private enterprise is still there, but there is no private enterprise, therefore, only mechanical (or rather electronic) leaders. But on the other hand he told me how a number of people experienced on passenger liners, had taken (after getting their mate’s certificate) to navigating private yachts for tycoons. “You go all over the world – Bahamas, Bermuda, Fiji, enjoying yourself with rich people.” And an important point in its favour was that you get a free uniform! He told me that his father was an electrician and the working-class background constantly came out. But in her kitchen his mother has so many electric gadgets that he wonders how enough power can be generated to keep them all going.
Again he and the American girls were discussing the probable results of the petroleum shortage [The OPEC countries had agreed together to raise the price of oil by a big amount at this time]. They thought all would go back to games on a village green. I assured him that this was most improbable. I did not add that I anticipated disturbances comparable only with the cataclysms that broke up the Roman Empire, and that I fear for these islands – for Ireland least, I’m glad to say – a transformation comparable to that of the fifth century, in whose political or at least ethnic system we still live. But as for village greens, he appeared without any food in his huge rucksack but a tin of sardines. He had a great pair of boots to walk in, a pair of sandals and a pair of stylish boots that zipped up the side. He arrived in blue jeans and an anorak but changed into brightly coloured flared corduroys and another habit which I did not particularly remark.
October 5 Friday: The morning appeared just like yesterday, mist on the hills, the sun shining simultaneously beneath it south-westwards down the valley. But by 10 am. it was raining heavily. By noon it had cleared from the southwest, but the strong cool SE wind continued. I had another day on the mountains. I climbed near to the top – the top was a mile away, so flat are these plateaux – of Llethr Llwyd. There is a long double causeway which forms the skyline when one looks at the hill from Tyncornel. Across the upper valley twenty head of black cattle were grazing at 1000 feet. I saw the remains of several deserted farms. There must have been five in this mile- long strip of valley, each no doubt with half a dozen children and animals in corresponding numbers. And every single person was a cultural entity of a different order from these intellectual sepulchres who fly through the hills in their motor cars. It is good that two miles of metalled road should give such seclusion, but it is too late. There is an interesting article in Y Cymro, and describes the problems here only two well. I expect more rain.
October 6 Saturday: The wind remained about SSW as far as I could judge. All kinds of clouds presented themselves in the sky, all apparently portending rain, but none came. I walked up to the col and then cycled down to Llandewi and up to Tregaron. One could say there was little to remark though it was the mildest day yet. The hawthorns, hazels and oats are yellowing in the more exposed places. In a sheltered place by the ruins of a farm the bracken had withered without being blown by the wind and the effect was that of a myriad rusty organ pipes. Possibly the science fiction writer whose most notable book was published just after the war, got the notion of “triffids” from bracken. At the same time I saw horses eating it – two and a wee foal. So it is not as useless as is supposed.
I bought a number of things in Tregaron and brought them to up to Blaencaron. A strange thing happened, typical of all the petty setbacks that have marked this trip. I went to the station for water, something that takes five minutes at most. When I got back I found a mound of crumbled cheese on the grass beside the bicycle. Since I had asked for half a pound and, as I found to my annoyance was served with a pound, I was quite surprised to find at most a half-pound lying on the grass. Rats, I guessed. But what was even more remarkable, a loaf and a half pound of butter were absolutely missing, with not a trace even of a wrapper. I wondered if a rat could jump into the saddle bag and not only knock the cheese to the ground but run off with bread and butter. This was a nuisance as it threw me back on potatoes.
October 7 Sunday: I left the cheese on the grass, half believing that it formed by accident and had been half a pound all the time. Well, this morning the answer was definite. There was not left there even a crumb of a crumb of a crumb. It had “tee-totally disappeared”. So one can more readily credit the same agency with the carrying off of the bread and butter. For I could never have lost both. I was even half inclined to blame two youngsters I judged to be connected with the “summer home” opposite. I saw them stalking through the brushwood and firing shots. Later I saw them at Glan’r afon uchaf, about 16 years of age, holding rifles as big as themselves as if they were snakes that might any minute turn and sting them in the eye, and wearing round closed-shaped felt caps. I thought a countryman would go shooting in what was warm enough to protect and sparse enough to give freedom. He would not dress up. But perhaps they were some relatives of the farmer. Nonsense penetrates everywhere now. And as for the food, I never seriously thought youngsters busy missing rooks would bother about such banalities.
This was a queer day. The sun put in a brilliant appearance but retired behind a wall of grey. Tregaron steeple declared a wind in the East-North East, but so many birds squatted on the windvane that one doubted its accuracy. Smoke drifted very slowly from the west. But it was the “dead” kind of weather I dislike. I found another spoke was showing signs of weakness and the warden’s daughter telling me there was a cycle repair shop in Llanbedr Pont Steffan (to give the Welsh Language Society the benefit of it), I resolved to go there tomorrow. For though it is true I did not come to grief on the mountains, I hope to return to them also without coming to grief, for that reason at any rate.
I walked round the low hills behind Glan yr afon uchaf, got my feet very wet – indeed surprisingly so – with no more compensation than seeing what I took to be an Amanita muscaria and a big Psallite (as I thought) [types of fungi] which had no smell and I concluded would have no flavour and which might be a horse mushroom. I went up the hill behind the house and was tempted further than I intended by a faint apology for a brightening in the west. I very nearly reached Cwys yr Ychen Lannog when I realised it was getting dark. I know the topography reasonably well, but at dusk in bare feet it is not so easy. Finding the places to cross the streams is the most difficult problem. There is always one place also where a fence is free from barbed wire and one can just step over it. However, with one or two escapes and a scratched finger I got back. And then the mystery was solved. I put on the light and in the beam that shot from the window a whole object moved rapidly away through the bushes and onto the road. It was a cat. And that was why it was able to get things out of the saddle bag instead of eating them there as a rat probably would.
October 8 Monday: I went through Llandewi Brefi and Llanfair Cydogau to Lampeter. As I expected, the cycle agent was not prepared to help. He was not really a cycle agent at all but a motorcycle, scooter and perambulator man. He was selling a £200 motorcycle when I was there. A few shillings was of no interest to such a man, with the monopoly of a large stretch of main road. If the traveller had an accident, so much the worst for him. Now this would happen in Scotland and as I anticipated in Wales, but not (yet) in Ireland. I returned to Tregaron, ascertained that only two spokes will be short and the others are firm, and packed as many surplus things as possible into a box which I will dispatch to 124 Mount Road.
It rained in the morning but cleared by 10.30 am. Indeed it was only drizzle, but after a sunny period around midday it became characteristically overcast and began squirting at intervals, but never quite managed to run. I saw an old man at Llandewi using a walking stick to bend down hazels to get the nuts – a long time since I last saw that, half a century I am sure. A few days ago I saw him getting brambles. Every hedge very nearly is hazel. And there are laurels as big as vats. It is to be hoped the EEC does not hear about it. They’ll insist on its being grubbed up if there is ever a food plant found growing wild.
The warden, Mrs Jones, is a most hospitable woman. When I had to pay 81 pence, she said, “Pooh, call it 80.” Today, she insisted on giving me some newly lifted potatoes. I would judge she had over a ton in her shed, probably a ton and a half. She was a family of six, excluding the girl, and if each one ate only one pound a day she would need a ton to keep them till June. She told me that they were harvested by machine. This means that the bad ones have not been rejected. So the whole lot must be picked over and stacked carefully, then covered with straw. Thus mechanisation seems merely to shift the work, in this case within the family, otherwise to a different capital. The farmers here are bringing their sheep down for the winter. “They’re glad to be down,” a farmer told me. “They know when it is time.” Or more likely feel the perishing cold!
October 9 Tuesday: It poured rain all night and the weather today was savage. It stopped without a break in the heavy clouds at about 10 am. I hastily cycled into Tregaron for a newspaper, milk etc. and by the time I was on my way back, soon after 11 am., it was starting again. From then on it rained all the time – a fine, drizzly rain which would wet you through in two minutes. This is the first day since I came away that I have been kept in completely. And whatever front it is seems to be moving slowly enough. For there is little wind and what there is blows steadily from the West-Northwest. All day the clouds have steadily lowered until by evening there was little visible but the tops of the trees by the stream. It is about 750 feet above sea level here. I sent postcards to Tony Coughlan, Gerry Curran and Lenny Draper and Pat Bond.
It was fair day in Tregaron but I did not see the Breton man who was here the last two years. Perhaps it was the last fair. But I did see farmers bringing calves to market in their cars, all the world as if I was back in Mayo a quarter of a century ago. And some atrocious Welsh too I heard. One woman went into the “Spar”, which is what Williamses has become and asked for “A poun’ o caws, wyn” and answered a further question in Welsh with “Plis”. The shortness of these worn-down English forms makes them attractive. “If you please” is never, or seldom, said in English. There is no equivalent shortening of “Os y gwelwch yn dda” [“Please” in Welsh; literally “if you see (it) well”] Another sign of the times is that though there were only four clothes stalls when I got there, one was run by a Pakistan. And the little coffee shop, “y gegin fach”[the little kitchen], which is never open, was open for once. Maybe it was the bad weather, but I had a sense that the fair was in decline.
October 10, Wednesday (Tyncornel): It had stopped only recently when I got up, but already there were clouds gathering in the west. I decided to move nevertheless and said goodbye to Mrs Williams at 11.15. She seemed a little depressed despite the two large bookings for sixteen people. She was in a mobile shop that had called. I can guess she was counting money and weighing prices. She asked me if I was retired and I answered in the negative. When I did not call for two days last week, they called up to see if I was “ill in bed”. So I must have required the look of a senior citizen. That is a guarantee that nobody will take any notice of you. But as that will be no change, it should not prove too irksome.
The holiday provided more of the typical small accidents. Before I had reached Llanddewi Brefi the bracket that holds the bank mudguard had snapped and the heavy load was on the wheel. I had loaded several days’ provisions for Ty’ncornel. At the first shop at Llandewi there was no wire. They gave me nylon string but it was of no use. With an eye to the darkening west I tried the Post Office. Here I got some wire with a tugable section which I contrived to use to hold the thing in place, but I had to lump the heavy rucksack on my back. However, it was only seven miles to Ty’ncornel and I entered the door just as the rain began. Then I found the propane cylinder had been turned off too tight again and prepared for a gypsy supper. But when I took a towel to get a better grip it moved, so all was well. It started to rain at about 4 pm. and stopped at about 9. I propose to stay here till the weekend and go back by train from Cynghordy, having eaten the luggage light. I could not cycle back with a buckled wheel and broken mudguard bracket. But by the weekend I shall feel like going back anyway.
When I reached the gate of Ty’ncornel I saw what I took to be the same flock of about twenty sheep, waiting as if to be let in. I thought at once of the farmer’s comment: “They know when it is time.” But I quickly discerned another reason. There was a magnificent ram on the other side of the fence. Presumably it had done duty with the flock in one field and was looking over the fence for fresh fields to conquer. He put me in mind of some lawyers I have come across, with their immaculately curled wigs and clients waiting outside, and it was interesting to note also with this creature, on whose toilette one would think that nature or the farmer had bestowed so much care, that the raison d’etre was its dribbling penis.
October 11 Thursday: I was awakened by a lowing flying aircraft. To my surprise it was 8.45 am. Mercifully the thing did not appear again in the morning. I rose to see a line of cirrus retreating to the South-West. And the morning proved brilliant, but with a mighty parky east wind – a cause for much fear for the winter, unless it gets it done with. I would say it was ten degrees cooler than yesterday. The wee adventures began again. There was nobody here on Tuesday night. But a note in the book complained that there was no water supply. Naturally I laughed and said to myself some Cockney or Brummie had turned on the “hot” tap which is not connected. One note had commented with great satisfaction on the “indoor lavatories” (in sight of millions of acres of empty mountain!) and I thought no doubt when there was no hot water, he thought there was no supply. But to my surprise this morning the trickle through the tap came down to a drip. Obviously the line is blocked, possibly with a mouse. But where does the supply come from? I supposed I could trace it. There is a plastic pipe running up the hill, but I saw no sign of any tank or reservoir. And there is no plan here. Perhaps as well, for if the Cockneys and Brummies were able to walk to the reservoir they’d be guaranteed to block it up even if it were clear! Though strange as it may seem though these two cities undoubtedly supply the worst, they also provide some of the best.
October 12 Friday: I omitted to tell yesterday’s story. I traced the plastic pipe for about four hundred yards up the road, a few yards east of it, but came back when two young English motorists appeared, complete with a baby a few weeks old. They had not noticed if the pipeline crossed the road. I guess it might have come from Blaen Doethie, Lewis’s farm on the hill. After a bite of lunch I checked the hostel end and found an “airtight inspection cover” so covered with sheep shite that I did not consider lifting it. I thus unsurfaced the pipeline and followed it up the road, then steeply up the mountain and to a high spring. Though this was overgrown below, the opening was in two inches of water, so we may have a blockage or an air lock. I decided nothing could be done and proceeded northwest, going beyond the track and across the bogland below the new plantation. The going was so rough across the bog, the advent of forestry having forced the right of way into disuse, that I got only halfway to the edge of the Berwyn Plantation, but I satisfied myself that the dividing streams do not exist. There is no such physical feature, and I noted a watercourse, which I take to be the source of the stream that runs down Nant Esgair Wynt, running up the slopes of Ochr Fawr, that is not marked on the 2 1/2 inch Ordnance map. This turns right and runs into Doethie Fawr. Leftwards there is a very low col, but the trees of the plantation appeared distinctly lower. So I think I settled that puzzle. Llyn Berwyn drains into Doethie Fach.
At about 6.30 I saw a van. And the old ruffian Will Lewis appeared with his assistant. As gruff and uncommunicative as ever, he announced his intention of “having a cup of tea”, which he made, took out a loaf, cut slices of bread and butter and then called in his much younger companion. Him he addressed mostly in Welsh, but interspersed English. But unfortunately he gabbled both and I could scarcely understand even his English. At the same time he said everything that affected me in English. It crossed my mind that this was politeness, but I quickly dismissed the thought. With Y Cymro on the table he would not be sure how much I could follow even of the gabble, though I will confess it was not a bit. As for the young companion, he sat and ate. A pot of jam came out but I did not see either of them take any. The companion, obviously the servant, emitted not one word all the time, indeed not a syllable. It grew dusk. There was no attempt to light the gas. Was this the better to fiddle the change, I thought. Of course I had the exact money and told him. At one point he was very worried and felt over the table. “The money, where is it?” I told him I had not given it him yet. Then we went to the window and I counted it out on the ledge, coin by coin – to have my little bit of fun. After that he was slightly more amenable. The point had gone home. He would investigate the water problem. These wells were always running dry. They must find another one, though it might be an air lock and that would be troublesome. He sat a few minutes longer and I wondered why he did not put on the light. Suddenly he got up and said to his companion, “We can’t wash up the things. It’s too dark.” This related after a fashion to the breaking of the homeward journey to look at the well. But it left me with the delft wash when the water came. He was not walking up the road to the nearest stream. At the same time the substance was sound enough. I would (so was the implication) have water in plenty when he had worked the necessary magic. And if the magic didn’t work, I could go to the stream! But the point about the man was the complete lack of manners. A very rough diamond indeed. He has quite a few hundred acres here, but he is as tight as any peasant can be. He asked the time before he went. I had been keeping an eye on my watch and told him very quickly – not to mark the time, but for fear it went the way of the change. However, I was amused for that was very much a drawn battle, for I told him I might be staying a few days longer and he said, “Put the money in the box.” So it is left to the “Christian”.
The east wind kept up all day, but the sun was bright. A line of cirrus stood all day in the South-West but later moved down and the easterly wind, very cold for the time of year, seems to have established itself. The full moon showed only what I would call “fine weather cirrus”.
But at about 1.30 pm. when I went out for a common enough purpose, though only arose after drinking tea, I saw the cirrus thicker and a lunar corona. The planet, incidentally, was Saturn, not Jupiter. It was clear enough to see that. And when I got up there was never such a miserable sky. Soon it began to spit and squish. The wind was very cold and easterly. I made the beginning of a journey to Sar Mynydd but gave up before crossing Doethie Fach. And all afternoon it poured down. At about 5.30 the old ruffian reappeared with his man and the same ritual recurred. This time he and his man, who did not come in until Lewis had made the tea, cut the bread, purloined a bottle of some appalling lemon drink left by a hosteller and included in the cut bread three old slices from yesterday, actually exchanging a few words. The servant did not speak at any time unless he was spoken to. The total was three sentence each in Welsh, gabbled by the old fox and whispered by the man, whom I now judged was as young as thirty. In the gabble I discerned only one word at the end of a sentence. It was [Welsh word unclear]. So I guess they had been getting in the twenty herd of cattle up on the high farm, and Lewis assented when I asked if that was where he had been.
“The news is not good.”
“Indeed, I have heard none. What has happened?”
“The Middle East”
“Oh, are they still fighting?”
This time I acknowledged that delft did not wash itself. “You will be washing up, of course.” I said I would. “Oh well, you have more time than us. Thanks.” The second he stood up to go and his man followed suit and in a flash they were out. He seemed however to have got the water running again. I imagine he knows where the blockages take place. “Blocked” was all the explanation I got.
It seems that he drove about a hundred sheep into a covered fold below but left the others, including the ram, out on the lower ground. The ram was strutting about near the gate, but its superlative importance was not recognised. A pity the same does not happen to some rams I know. It turns out there was a lower order still than the serving man, the dog, which stayed unobtrusively in the van until it was wanted for the sheep.
Now one of these slices of bread was put back in the box for the second day running. If this man has twenty head of cattle, a hundred more sheep, about 1000 acres of rough grazing and at least the custody of a few ponies, what must be the economics of hill farming when he lives contentedly on bread and scraps and his assistant does not seem to the slightest degree surprised. This is the level of diet I saw among the smallest and poorest farmers in Co. Mayo in 1951. On the other hand what created such a shocking skinflint? I hazard a guess he may be unmarried (surely he is too uncouth) and lived at Ty’n Cornel. Perhaps he retired to the upper farm and left the house as a hostel. Thus he still regards it as his own. Then perhaps, growing older, he felt uneasy on his own in the mountains and moved to Llanddewi Brefi –possibly after becoming completely accustomed to voluntary penury. And perhaps his faithful serving man went with him. It is, incidentally, the assistant who drives the van. They did not go away until it was well dark but used no light. So this man must know every stone.
I read through the comments in the suggestion book and was moved to leave some of my own. Some were amusing. One poor girl bemoaned having to cross a stream in “icy” water because the stones were slippery and she could not walk a plank. Another wanted a shoe-cleaning machine installed – electric light, comfortable armchairs and the rest of their fol-de-rols. But far the majority thought this the finest place there was and the demands were all for no change. But it was clear that financially it is difficult to maintain.
The rain stopped at about 6 pm. but the wind was still cold and easterly. I had hoped for a warm front, but now scaled down my aspirations to a warm occluded front. The expected rain began again by 8 pm. and soon it was falling merrily, the wind having indeed changed but I fear backward to the north. It is a little milder, but not much. And then it stopped yet again – back in the east with the wind – and in the chilly moonlight one could see rats almost as big as cats scurrying about their applications in the moonlight.
October 13 Saturday: The day broke once more with steady rain out of the East. I expected the old ruffian to come and let his sheep out. But by 11.30 nobody had come and they were standing in the rain emitting periodical bleats. There seemed to be some kind of activity on Llethr llwyd, but what it was I could not discern in the distance. There was a group of objects, black and white – it could be a couple of men with dogs around some sheep, but they remained in one vicinity remarkably long and did not drive the sheep down. A slight fold in the hill made full vision difficult.
However around midday the old ruffian appeared, but bless us, with two wee girls of about fourteen each wearing woollen bobcaps and drinking mineral waters out of tins. They came in for a minute or two and I gathered from the few words that they spoke with Liverpool accents – or near it. They had come with Lewis. However he did not come in and soon drove them off. Next came a huge cattle van driven by a young man of about thirty or so, who might have been the father, for the girls were in the front seat of this also. The newcomer loaded the sheep from the fold, but the old ruffian was down on his tractor before he left, and then left with him. He was down twice more, the last time around 8 pm. working by the aid of some artificial light he had set up. He left the ponies and the ram. He came into me at about 8.15. and was as near affable as was within him, noting once more no doubt the great care not to treat him with more cash than was good for him. I paid him and he went away with a “Cheerio”. I think he was glad to be finished.
The weather was, of course woeful, a steady, strong east wind and constant rain, though I did think it grew slightly less cold when the rain eased off and the wind dropped in the evening. The question now arises of getting back. I need one fine day, preferably on Monday, when I can get to Aberystwyth, Llanymddyfri, Cynghordy or Llanwrtyd, and my plan is to go according to the wind.
October 14 Sunday: When day broke, it was as gloomy as ever, though dry. But by about 11 there appeared evidence that the sun still existed and I felt somewhat in a hurry to be off. Indeed, I would have gone today but for the certainty of there being no train service at Aberystwyth and the probability of none on the other line. I could usefully spend the next few days in Liverpool. I have been casting round in my mind for priorities and have decided that the “History of the Irish Wage Earners” should be the next main task. While granted the inevitable uncertainties of being a sexagenarian, the holiday has convinced me that as of now (as the Trade Unionists love to say) it is no different from being fifty-nine and there are plenty of physical and nervous reserves. The more I thought of it, the more I saw in it a way to replace this romantic nationalism that seems always to defeat its own purpose, apart from being shot through with sectarianism, with an effort to obtain national independence, safeguarding the cultural identity and diversity of the people, but based on a working class expressing its own interests. This is impossible while “economism” continues to dominate the Irish Labour Movement, especially this economism based on fear of taking a stand on independence lest sectarian issues should be drawn in. An informed collection of the historical facts, together with an explanation of their meaning, might give the basis of a tradition not founded on periodical outbreaks of violent protest uninformed by any viable political strategy. The first step will be to collect the material.
While starting on this I should be able to clear away the new edition of the “Irish Crisis” and the Workers Music Association songbook if they decide to go ahead with it. The O’Casey job perhaps I went for too hastily, but thought of making it a smaller book of about 200 pages as soon as Krause gets his letters out [American critic David Krause, compiler of Sean O’Casey’s letters]. There should be no question of competing with Krause, but of establishing O’Casey’s politics. A number of other things may have to be left on the long finger, the publication of the poems (which nobody will take the slightest notice of and which will only be published for my own satisfaction), the aesthetics (which is 35 years on the long finger) and the life of Sean Murray. It is clear from the general behaviour of the Stewart gang that I would get no cooperation in preparing such a book, and that they would set Myant to attack once it was published [Chris Myant of the “Morning Star”]. It is also by no means easy to research in Belfast even if I hadn’t the Stewarts’ insults to endure. It is a pity to let Margaret down, but I will do it if spared and if things should improve [Mrs Margaret Murray, Sean Murray’s widow, who had given Murray’s papers to Desmond Greaves for purposes of the biography that he was contemplating]. He can have his place in the History however. Betty Sinclair assured me that Jimmy Stewart, quite deliberately of malice prepense excluded my name from those to be invited to their Congress, though he had people like the worthy Pefkos who protested [George Pefkos, editor of the CPGB Greek language paper “Vema” and a member of its International Committee together with Desmond Greaves]. And when he apologised to me, Stewart merely did so “for forgetting the Irish Democrat”. Clearly there would be nothing but irritations and frustrations in that quarter, and being sixty I propose to remain out of it.
Another thing needs to be thought of more seriously though. Levenson wrote me such a bragging letter that I answered it with what amounted to a brush-off [Samuel Levenson, author of “James Connolly, A Biography” 1973]. It is not that he has used my material to establish a reputation for himself. He has after all acknowledged it. But he has allowed himself to be used by Basil Clancy and that ultra-right brain-washing group and has attacked 1916 as a “putsch” and Connolly as a husband and father, and socialism as a principle [Basil Clancy, 1907-96, owner and editor of the Irish current affairs magazine “Hibernia” during the 1960s]. He has done their work for them because he was flattered into doing something he did not understand. Still that is no reason why I should receive him in Liverpool. I said I would see him in London. But the main advantage he had was the papers belonging to William O’ Brien, which O’Brien refused to discuss with me. I remember old Tom Johnson excusing him: “But you have no right to blame him for not collaborating.” So I didn’t. But he collaborated wilfully with Levenson because he was dead and his papers in the National Library. Well I am convinced Levenson has not understood a tenth part of them, so one needs to get out a paper of some kind, a sort of Anti-Levenson which would be mainly directed Anti-Basil Clancy and help discredit his protégé.
I thought much about how to recover the situation regarding the Six Counties but could see no way of doing it. If blithering idiots had set to work, foaming at the mouth, they could have made no worse mess than has been made. And whom can you blame? The arrogant Trotskies brimming over with self-importance who opened the gates to all follies and allowed the press to point to the canard? Or the Labour “economists” who left a whole generation theoretically unprepared – and these included our precious Stewards, for never were there more typical “Protestant communists”? Or the blindness and apathy of the movement in England? Quién sabe! [Who knows?].
I might have added more animadversions on kindred subjects but for the course of minor events. I decided to walk to Soar y Mynydd in case I decided to go to Aberystwyth tomorrow, and to see if the track was passable. It was just about so. I left at 2 pm. and was back by 4 pm., and I thought the worst harshness was out of the wind though it held in the East. The birds were in the rowans at last. I had wondered why none are pecked clean by sparrows two days after the frost is here, while three months later there are trees here whose branches are weighed down with berries, and the foliage has started to fall. They were there today in force. As I came to each tree a cloud flew out. Then I came to the high hazel hedge, and again my appearance was enough. How animals do love man! It was only necessary for me to sneeze to send the white pony galloping away. And the sheep eye me with uneasiness wondering which way to run. It is as if they were aware of his actions towards his own species and try to minimise his impact on theirs – but unfortunately they do not need to know that. Well, a second one appeared. A man well up in his sixties, I would judge, had walked from Cynghordy and was preparing to walk to the Devil’s Bridge. He said he was a Yorkshire man, born on a farm but now living in Barking. He was a decent enough old character but was only interested in lonely moorland. His pronunciation of Welsh names was appalling. He had made no attempt. Now this is what has happened to the open-air movement, which began by being highly cultural. It has over the years unconsciously settled down to the standard of the motorist – to pass from A to B and think of nothing but miles per gallon or miles per hour. And he proposes to walk at 1,500 feet above some of the most historic places in Wales. (Incidentally, I found out what the Brefi must be – a reference to the bull that is supposed to have bellowed so loud that it split open a hillside. I found a reference to the legend in a wee paper about the place (If it wasn’t a bull it was an ox.) Anyway, your man’s arrival frittered away the evening amiably, but with no more effect than was in that.
October 15 Monday (Liverpool): To our astonishment the new day dawned wet and cold with the wind back in the east. I saw your man stride off and decided to run for Aberystwyth. The rain was only intermittent and I got to Llandewi Brefi without mishap and struck off along Sarn Helen without touching Tregaron. The east wind reached moderate strength and I reached Aberystwyth with over half hour to spare. I caught the 3.12, but it rained more and more heavily. The wettest stage was Spital to 124 Mount Rd. However, I arrived safe and cooked the chops I had brought. A birthday message and book token had come from Gerry Curran and Toni Curran. And there was a cheque for £145 royalties, which are badly needed.
October 16 Tuesday: The weather did not clear till close on midday and then became extremely cold. It looks as if the warm period is over. Whether this winter or next will be the severe one we will doubtless see. I did little enough. I need a rest over the holiday! However, I feel very much better.
October 17 Wednesday: I harvested 7 lbs. of green tomatoes and about 12 lbs. of potatoes from the place I least expected. I had a word with Stella Bond who is getting on with the conference. According to Charlie Cunningham, who rang in the evening, Joe O’Connor died suddenly of a heart attack in the presence of Jack Fitzgerald and Lodge. Apparently he fell down dead in the street after a Trade Union branch. I spoke to Lenny Draper, who was most down in the mouth. All his supporters had deserted him. Jimmy Stewart had been at a meeting and had strenuously avoided the subject of the unity of Ireland. There had been a row in a pub. Stewart accused Lenny Draper of being like a “Provisional”. Denis Maher was delighted as he had said Lenny Draper’s leaflets should not touch the subject of Partition. And even Vic Eddisford was inclined to join Stewart. Of course they know nothing at all about it, as Gallacher said to me years ago [ie.Willie Gallacher, former Scottish Communist MP]. The strain of “orange communism” is still prevalent. Now, Charlie Cunningham said to me that Belle Lalor had been anxious to speak to me about some trouble in Manchester. I wonder if it is connected.
I finally got hold of Belle Lalor at 10.15 pm. She had been to evening classes. She said she thought that Lenny Draper was adopting a hectoring and dictatorial manner and was driving people away from the meetings. I mentioned Jimmy Stewart and was told he had stayed with Tommy Watters. She thought it would be useful if I called in to see her, so I said I would try to get to Manchester on Saturday. I know of course that Belle Lalor is perfectly genuine, but I do not know if she is unwillingly firing somebody else’s bullets.
October 18 Thursday: Certainly this has been a year for the garden. Early in the spring I found the old lime pit and was unable to get the caked lime away. I tipped some rotten grass clippings on it, threw back the soil, and then rather than leave it to grow over with grass, put down about four potatoes which were sprouting. Today I lifted 15 pounds of potatoes, beautifully clean, and many of them very big. There is now an embarrass de richesse.
In the morning Jack Woddis rang up. Michael O’Riordan and Jimmy Stewart are coming over next Tuesday and he wanted me to join the discussions. I referred to the indeterminism of the situation. “It is like a ball of cotton wool,” he declared. However this is good because Jimmy Stewart will have to pipe up or pipe down.
October 19 Friday: I did little enough today but resolved to go to Manchester tomorrow. I rang Lenny Draper and arranged to meet him. I did, however, clear up my study.
October 20 Saturday: I went to Manchester and called out to Belle Lalor. She expressed the opinion that Lenny Draper had antagonised the members by talking too much at the meetings and not allowing them all to have a say. I got the impression, however, that this feeling arose from the weakness of the branch, the lack of resources and consequent frustration, and that the peccadilloes of Lenny Draper were very little to the point. I suggested that we should call the meeting as soon as possible in a more attractive room than the place they have been using.
Then Lenny Draper met me at Piccadilly. He has had what he calls “influenza” but is of course what we used to call a “bad cold”. He gave me more information about Denis Maher and Jimmy Stewart. Apparently Maher had kept Lenny Draper’s leaflets till Stewart came to speak at a meeting. He asked what he thought of them. Jimmy Stewart expressed the view that the issue of Partition was too prominently presented. There was a discussion in a public house in which Stewart concentrated on pulling Lenny Draper’s leaflets to pieces and the result was Lenny’s challenge, “Then what do you want us to do?” Which Jimmy Stewart could not answer. I asked why he had not quoted “The British Road to Socialism” [ie. the official CPGB programme, which advocated Irish reunification]. It had not occurred to him. But he feared that Vic Eddisford has been influenced by Stewart’s talk. It remains to be seen however whether we should have the same story on Tuesday [ie. at the meeting of key CPGB officials and representatives of the CPI to which Greaves had been invited]. He told me about Arnison’s wee girls from Belfast. Of this of course WW was afraid of entangling the Morning Star with alleged “Provisionals”. I was afraid that nothing would be achieved and that disunity would issue. However, they are coming. And all the brave boyoes who came to our committee are busy on a committee for that and Lenny Draper has not been consulted at all. Of course there is no malice. It is only their crude way of working, but of course Lenny is upset. He says his indisposition has made him more quarrelsome than he would otherwise have been, and I advised him to get well and then not quarrel at all. I thought we could restart our committee in the “follow-up” of the women.
We had a meal at the Chinese restaurant, the only one I ever go into. There was at an adjacent table a young girl not above seven years’ old, with two black eyes.
“Who gave her those?” asked Lenny Draper.
“Her parents no doubt,” said I, knowing the savages we live among.
“How could anybody do a thing like that?” exclaimed Lenny, who then, generously declared the retribution that would befall for the villain if he had come into the hands of himself. There is a generous spirit in Lenny Draper which is very likeable.
Anyway, that was that. And I returned to Liverpool. I had hoped to get out to see Jimmy McGill, but there was not time.
October 21 Sunday: For a change there was a fine day. The wet, cold spell may be over. A pity I should choose it for my holidays. I planted broad beans where the tomatoes had been, and another bed where the dwarf beans were. There are still runner beans available and Jean next door had two dinners of them when I was away.
October 22 Monday: It was raining so hard that there almost postponed my departure for London, but in the end took the 10.40 train. A letter came from Cathal belatedly congratulating me on attaining the venerable age of 60 and expressing suitable compliments. He thought that if I should shortly be in Dublin we might have a wee party to celebrate it. Well, it so happens that I should really go next month before preparing the new (German-published) addition of “The Irish Crisis”. Stella Bond and Bunting were in the office. Things have not collapsed, but Central London is seriously weakened since Sean Redmond’s departure. Charlie Cunningham was in the office, but I would say that even less than Sean Redmond is he able to build anything up. He lacks the imagination – as Joe Deighan said of Sean Redmond. I started work on the paper.
October 23 Tuesday: I went into the office in the morning. Last night incidentally Charlie Cunningham was speaking to Kevin Halpin’s wife on the phone. She learned I was here and told Stan Cole who was staying with them. He spoke of Arnison’s girls who are at Hulme Labour Club today. I suggested as a “follow-up” resuming our previous plan and was pleased to have his agreement. I then spoke to Lenny Draper and asked him to be sure to go to Hulme, make himself pleasant and try to agree a date.
At about 12.30 I called into Jack Woddis by arrangement [presumably at the CPGB offices at 16 King Street] and we had lunch together. We found ourselves in the completist agreement on all points of importance. I hinted that Jimmy Stewart might not appreciate that statements on Partition that might be risky in Belfast were obligatory in Britain if we were not to line up with the imperialists.
When the meeting took place Michael O’Riordan and Jimmy Stewart were present with Woddis and Gordon McLennan. Ramelson was to have been there but was closeted with Lawrence Daily [of the National Union of Mineworkers]. We discussed Woddis’s draft. It included the Bill of Rights, notwithstanding its inapplicability under present conditions. Apparently Jimmy Stewart pins his faith to it. Personally I doubt if he knows what he’s doing as one interchange showed. “I think,” said he, “We should get all three drafts and consider them – the draft that was made by the Connolly Association and the draft that was made by NICRA.” Now if I had not resolved to hold my fire for something else, I might have asked what was the difference between the two. The only possible reply would have been that that drafted by the Connolly Association (to be precise myself with the help of Platts Mills) was not the draft of a Bill, but a Bill. Secondly, that nothing else could even be claimed as a draft of a Bill, since though the NICRA “draft” (Bless us!) was my final draft (not the Bill as presented). Word for word, insofar as it contained anything, it omitted the resolution and was thus merely a list of measures. To which I could have added that the whole lot was out of date. The incredible impudence of the NICRA bunch in talking shamelessly of “their” Bill of Rights even before they presented the pirated version and suppressing totally all reference to the Connolly Association, was only matched by the apparent bland effrontery (really slimy opportunism) of Jimmy Stewart in repeating the lie as if it was ascertained truth. I think he is a person who believes what he wants to believe and that in the midst of the shabbiest tricks he claps his hand on his heart and feels pure within.
Woddis had a paragraph urging the British Government to undertake to place no obstacles in the way of a united Ireland. I wanted something stronger than this. I wanted a declaration of intent that would let the “Provisionals” off the hook, allow them to declare a ceasefire and thus put the Orangeman on the spot as the troublemakers.
“Unfortunately, the Provisionals are not the only people who have to be considered,” said Jimmy Stewart, and I have no doubt he meant the Protestant Trade Unionists.
“They’re an extremely important part just the same,” said I, repeating the explanation of the strategy.
Now Woddis – who is by far the most intelligent of the English now R.Palme Dutt has retired – came back with my point that the British must assert anti- imperialism. Michael O’Riordan was of course with us. But why should he make a United Ireland a Dublin issue with Belfast if the British were prepared to do it for him? This is of course the microcosm of the transformation we want. Gordon McLennan was uncertain. He thought a promise not to prevent would do. “But their stooges will prevent,” said I, “They don’t need to. They can afford non-intervention”. At this point Jack Woddis came out with a formulation which was designed verbally to meet this point. It was that they would “not allow any obstacle to be placed.” Of course this gave me far more than I wanted – or indeed far more than I would wish to have. For it could be interpreted as an undertaking to go to war with any EEC country which tried to prevent the reunification of Ireland under some regulation or other in the Accession Treaty – to fetch the matter rather far. But Jimmy Stewart did not see it. I thought he was stupid. Michael O’Riordan said nothing. I at once accepted it and in it went. Of course they’ll spot it before the next statement, but it will be all right. The principle of positively favouring a united Ireland has been accepted and put on paper. And Jimmy Stewart thinking nothing had been lost! I was especially pleasant to him after that.
Now, on the whole, the proceedings were the most cordial I have witnessed, and this is very much to the good. Lenny Draper rang in the evening and told us he was seeing Stan Cole and would ring me again.
October 24 Wednesday: At midday Mark Clinton rang and told me things were improving in Birmingham and that Clann na hEireann were suggesting joint action. I warned him to be very careful. He could strengthen a rival. And I said I would try to get to Birmingham soon. Frank Watters, by the way, has not insisted on his Trades Council only approach, and I think I will be able to get an agreed plan that will be acceptable to everybody. Peter Mulligan has called a meeting in Northampton. So things are progressing there.
But I saw what was wrong with Central London [ie. the Central London Connolly Association branch]. The thing is too far to the left. Charlie Cunningham is, of course, in no sense an “Irish Republican”, but a Trade Union activist – and a very good one too. He had Tony Donaghey today on “Phase three” and all present were Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly and myself, plus Jack Guilfoyle. It was Japanese torture. Charlie Cunningham and Tony Donaghey held a colloquy at the table which the chairman, Pegeen O’Flaherty, did not even attempt to control. They wandered round the world. They should have invited Arnison’s wee girls. And next week he has Barbara Haq bringing a spokesman for the Arabs. I hinted to him that I had reservations about his policy, but he did not encourage me to develop the subject. But I will.
I had wondered at the lack of development in Luton after the successful start. Today I received a letter from Tom Mitchell asking me to tell him what I knew. Whenever he spoke to George Slessor he was told he was waiting for me or the Trades Council. The Lucan Trades Council had against his advice affiliated to a new national organisation dealing with Ireland (the one which Woddis and I thought was started by the “Provisionals”. He wanted me to put him in the picture. I rang him today to offer the help of the blind in leading the blind. He told me that Michael Hawes had opposed the affiliation move, but that Slessor had been carried away with it. The speaker who had addressed them, whom Tom Mitchell thought was some kind of wild Trotsky, said that they already had the affiliation of the Manchester District of the AUEW. This I said at once that I did not believe. Then I wondered. Would Arnison support it? The English were notably rash in the affairs of other countries. I resolved to find out.
October 25 Thursday: I was busy in the office all day. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in. Kevin Halpin’s wife had telephoned expressing her great admiration for Charlie’s speech at a gathering of Trade Unionists at the Metropolitan [Kevin Halpin was a leading shop-steward at the Ford motorcar plant in Dagenham]. She telephoned to ask if he would address her branch. I passed the message on and he told me that the shop-stewards were so proficient at raising the elbow that few rounds cost less than £5. And then they grow quarrelsome and Halpin went off in a huff after some disagreement with Charlie Cunningham. What should happen, however, but that the woman should arrive in person. I thought she had drink taken. She asked Charlie to go out for a drink with her at 6.45 pm. – and that was the last I saw of him. I called into the public house they said they were going to at 10.30 but could not find them.
Tony Donaghey telephoned to say he has arranged a meeting for Luton next Monday.
October 26 Friday: When Charlie Cunningham appeared in the evening I asked him, “Was it a boozing session or a whoring session that was in it?” He laughed and said, “I’ve been a bloody fool. Never again.” He said in jest that he tried to get rid of her till 11.30 this morning. Apparently my jest also had its unsuspected point. For Halpin has cleared off with another woman and poor Charlie Cunningham had to listen to the whole story. It occurred to me to reflect critically upon some of these shop-floor industrial leaders. Their main quality is their aggressiveness. But as Halpin showed at the TUC when he supported the demonstration within the premises, he has not much subtlety and is always drinking. These people follow the lead of men like Ramelson [CPGB industrial organiser] who do all the thinking and work for virtually nothing. So the dedicated men show the others how to keep their wages up and get nothing in return, and save the others the trouble of thinking. And there seems no way to avoid it – except that Ramelson should be better requited.
October 27 Saturday: I decided to go to Birmingham. Frank Watters is still making difficulties over the delegation. As Mark Clinton says, he is incapable of listening and takes it amiss if anybody disagrees with him. Watters wants to go to Belfast himself “in his Trade Union capacity”, as if the Orangemen will distinguish his Trade Union from his Catholic capacity. We decided to go slow and get the London conference over first. Mark Clinton has a holiday, so I enticed him back to London with me where he got drunk (he is not greatly used to it) and had to sleep on my floor! Meanwhile Lenny Draper has arranged a meeting in Manchester for next Wednesday.
Mark Clinton told me a curious thing. One of his members who does a little selling and is however somewhat of a romantic, was threatened by a Clann na hEireann member and subsequently was stabbed in the chest by him. Mark does not think this arises from any political difference but possibly from a dispute over a woman. Of course when a thing first starts it attracts all discontented elements, stable or unstable.
October 28 Sunday (Liverpool): We went into the office and Mark Clinton bought milk and other de-alcoholizing charms and brought himself into a tolerable state. Then we went to Toni Curran’s conference in Ealing. It was excellent. A member of the National Committee of the TUC [Trades Union Congress] had been to Belfast. The attendance was first rate – about 50 I would think, though this included Elsie 0’Dowling, Jane Tate, Pat 0’Donohue and Mark Clinton. Slowly we are getting over the right impression. I came back into town, then took the train to Liverpool.
October 29 Monday: I heard the telephone ring late last night but could not reach it in time. This morning Lenny Draper rang to say that Belle Lalor’s house had been searched by police [Belle Lalor was a longstanding CA member in Manchester]. I went straight to Manchester without telling him I was going. Belle Lalor was out. I then decided to see Vic Eddisford and to break my journey at Jimmy McGill’s and see if he had any of the books I had been inquiring after. The shop was padlocked, but there was a light inside. I did not think of the antique dealer next door, but went on to Hathersage Rd. There I found Eddisford, Roger O’Hara, Denis Maher and the younger lad. “Are you in a meeting?” I asked, fearing to disturb them. “Sit down,” said Eddisford, “You’re always welcome at any time.” I told him the little I learned about Belle Lalor and of my resolution to go back to her house. I rang Lenny Draper and arranged to see him tonight. The Clann na hEireann woman, Mrs Jordan, had telephoned Eddisford to say that her place had also been searched. She had said 500 homes had suffered similarly. Eddisford arranged for me to meet her and it was to tell Lenny Draper this that I telephoned him.
When I got to 570 K. Road, I found Belle Lalor making dinner and she provided me with some.
“I’m sick,” she said. “My head’s going round. Not about the search. But they’ve lifted Jimmy McGill.’ So that was why the shop was locked, though I admit it looked in perfect order as far as one could see. She showed me the newspaper. Jimmy McGill, bookseller, age 53, was arrested on a charge of possessing a revolver without a licence and was remanded for a fortnight. This seemed to me incredible. Yet there it was. I told Belle not to visit him till I had investigated further.
Now I cannot see what would be the motive of “planting” it on him. Nor can I see his motive for possessing it, unless it is a family heirloom.
Belle told me that four CID men called, persuaded her brother to give them his fingerprints and asked about his movements on the night of a murder believed to be of a political character that caused great excitement in Manchester but was not much notice in London. He was in Halifax. “You go a long way for your Sunday drink,” says the detective. Then they said they had received information that the house contained arms and explosives and requested permission to search it. This was given although there was no warrant. Belle was hard put to explain this to the children and something of the excitement as obviously communicated itself to them. For they’ve been “very bold” Friday. They’re lovely kids all the same. I asked if the manner of those officers was pleasant or otherwise. She replied that they were apologetic and one of them, a Scotsman, particularly so. They wanted to see Tom Lawlor, her husband. “He’s an Englishman,” said she. But they came back. He would not allow them past the door. He refused to give his fingerprints. “We can get a court order,” said one of them. “Then get a court order,” said he. I was very impressed by the solid independence of this working man whose home was going to remain his castle. “Why come here?”. he asked them. So that was what I learned there and proceeded to Victoria, where I found Lenny Draper, Mrs Jordan and Seamus Nolan.
Now the only difference in her case was that the police were armed with a warrant. I deduced from this that if Belle had refused to let them search, they would not have done so. And she confessed the search was in some respects desultory. Mrs Jordan told me that her husband is English and takes no interest in politics, but that they had visited his grandfather aged 85, and had wheedled information (all inconsequential) out of her and that more Clann na hEireann houses had been searched.
Who should be on the train back to Liverpool but Roger O’Hara. He told me that Eugene O’Doherty had left Clann na hEireann and had joined the CP [Clann na hEireann in Britain was oriented towards “Official” Sinn Fein in Ireland. The “Officials” were moving towards becoming the “Irish Workers Party” at this time and had begun seeking to replace the CPI in the eyes of the British and international communist movement]. He had brought Pat MacLaughlin closer. The Clann na hEireanns had asked the party to let them meet in their room. Eugene O’Doherty had wisely counselled against it. Then Clann na hEireann had written a very bitter anti-communist letter. I was somewhat surprised at this as I had blamed Eugene O’Doherty for most of the trouble. I do not regard him as very stable at the best of times. Roger O’Hara told me he had met J.Roose Williams in Bangor shortly before he died. He was greatly changed and was obviously a very sick man.
October 30 Tuesday: I had promised to draft a statement and telephone it to Vic Eddisford. But instead I took it and asked Denis Maher to phone it. It was then I learned that the police had called on Mr and Mrs Wright, English people but friends of Joe Deighan who were in the Connolly Association. In other cases English people with no connection with Ireland had been visited. There seemed little rhyme nor reason. Who would imagine that two old age pensioners with as far as I am aware not a drop of Irish blood between them would be visited? Vic Eddisford was at home for his day off. I told Denis Maher I was going to Jimmy McGill’s and might call back if there was anything new.
When I got to the shop – even more dilapidated than before and with scarcely a building standing in the streets around as the demolishers creep ever closer – I saw Jimmy standing by his fire conversing with either a collector or a dealer, the latter I imagine. What a talkative man! And so full of himself at the age of 28 perhaps, he enunciated the principles on which he purchased or refrained from purchasing books, how he had been asked three pounds for an 1875 edition of some obscure work, which being stained with ink was worth only 10 shillings, and how the Leeds bookseller he mentioned was erratic and didn’t know the value of what he was selling. Despite hints that grew steadily broader it was fifteen minutes before he departed.
“Well,” says Jimmy, “Will you tell me what you’re here for?”
“I will not,” I said.
“You’ve no need to, I see. Well, I’ll tell you what happened. It was Eddie Lenihan’s gun.” Of course immediately light broke in on me. “About a week after his funeral five years ago, Mrs Lenihan asked me if I’d like to keep it as a memento of Eddie. I said Yes. Then I put it in a cupboard and forgot all about it. On Sunday at about half past twelve perhaps – I usually put a joint in the oven to half cook before coming to the shop; then I go back and finish it – there was a knock at the door. I was stripped off and shaving. I came down with the lather on my face. There were four men. They told me they were police officers and were inquiring into the murder of Downey. The name didn’t immediately ring a bell. I thought of some such name in the ‘Moors murder’ case, but that was years ago. I was surprised at them keeping it up so long. Then they said something which clicked. Had I heard of it? I said I had but do nothing about it. I must admit they were very polite. They asked if they would could search the house and I said OK. You know my place, boxes of books, stacks of paper, files of the Democrat, United Irishman, everything. ‘You have a lot of books here, said one of them. What’s your occupation?’ ‘Bookseller.’ They went into the room, opened the cupboard and Eddie’s revolver almost fell out on them. I had forgotten all about it or I wouldn’t have invited them to search so easily.”
I think I recall the rest of the story but will not attempt to reproduce his telling of it. “Do you not know it’s illegal to have one of these without a certificate?” asked the policeman after ascertaining that he hadn’t one. “Yes,” replied McGill. “It would be better for you if we’d found a thousand pounds of stolen money here instead of this,” said one of them, an Irishman. So then it was come along with us. They had him in some vehicle from which it was impossible to tell where he was being taken. This I presume is part of the disorientation technique of these enlightened times. They took the gun of course. He was put in a cell for the state of which they apologised and kept there, he guesses, for an hour. They then informed him they were keeping him in for the night. They gave him two blankets. The night was intensely cold but thanks to his duffle coat he managed to sleep. In the morning he was taken into court. But before this her had been palm and fingerprinted and photographed and exhibited full-face and profile before about forty detectives. He was brought food of a sort and they told him somebody had gone down to feed the dog.
Of course, much of this was elicited by questioning and Jimmy McGill, being quite deaf, did not hear some of the things I said until I had asked several times. He certainly knew nothing of the court proceedings. He does not remember entering a plea. The proceedings lasted only a minute and a half. They had got him a solicitor named Green, who appeared in an open-necked shirt and apologised for his informal dress. “He seemed a very decent fellow,” said Jimmy. As the story proceeded I caught ever fresh glimpses of Jimmy’s child-like innocence. He did not remember being charged or recall what the charges were. For example he did not question that what he had was a firearm, for I take it that if it could not be fired it was not a fire-arm, but he did say it was a memento, and attached was a note giving the date on which Mrs Lenihan gave it him. I presume they will check with her, though Jimmy McGill did not tell me if he provided her address. If she gets frightened and denies having seen it before, Jimmy will be in queer street. He was remanded for a fortnight. There was no question of bail so we take it they do not fear that he will abscond.
I said we must get a good lawyer. I hope the damned thing is not in working order! I thought perhaps we could persuade those trying the case that this was indeed the oversight it was. But Jimmy McGill says first that he does not want to disappoint the solicitor the police found him. He thinks, but doesn’t know, that he is receiving legal aid. Obviously there has been no great effort to ensure that Jimmy understands his position. The solicitor has not contacted him. He has taken no action himself. “I just thought I’d come down here and try to make a few bob to pay whatever I’ll have to pay.” When I said if necessary I’d ask Platts Mills to come from London – he offered to defend Joe Deighan in a Magistrates Court when I asked him – Jimmy McGill says, “I don’t want it to be a cause celebre.” He has only a few weeks before his premises are demolished and is in negotiations. “If there’s much publicity, I’m ruined,” he said. So the poor fellow was just letting things happen for fear of jeopardising his business. I began to think of ways of saving him. “What about witnesses to character?” “Well,” said he, “the very first person to come and see me was Brown, an assistant librarian, who offered me any reference I like. But I told him I didn’t want to involve anybody else.” I told him not to hesitate, for this man was quite anti-Irish, as he told me, and a Tory.
In the situation I needed time to think. So I told him we would meet Vic Eddisford at 28 Hathersage Road on Thursday at 11 am. unless I got in touch with him. I am going to Derby tomorrow and Eddisford is in London. He agreed. I then went back to Hathersage Road and asked Denis Maher to make the arrangement with Eddisford, who I trusted would see him. I also wanted things to be dealt with in the open, so that nobody would say I had not consulted the local people as fully as they were entitled to be consulted. Maher was confident that would be alright. Looking at the fact that they released him, we felt hopeful. Looking at the atmosphere of political hysteria, we felt otherwise.
I was going along Brook Street when I saw a taxi. There was just time to go to Lena Daly’s. There were “Provisionals” living in her road, Lenny Draper told me, and I wanted to know if they were in the picture. Lena Daly was delighted to see me, but in a very excited state. They had not come to her but that was because she was out. She told me of a woman in the road who had taken a poker to one of the police, but I later satisfied myself (as far as anything can be done) that the story was apocryphal. A youngster had been told, “You’re suspect No.1”, but when he refused to be fingerprinted no further action was taken. It all has the air of a random round-up by a baffled organisation, hoping to hit on something. She was angry because her young 16-year-old son is learning Irish history the English way at school, and believing it. She is angry because old Michael will not get him to Ireland.
Then she wanted to talk to me about Lenny Draper. Her charges were serious. As well as that of listening to nobody and not uniting with Clann na hEireann (which I advised him against) she alleges that he is careless with the organisation’s money, mixes collections, literature money and paper money, even thrusting it into his own pocket, and that he is drinking like a fish. I said he did not drink in the early days and did a mass of work. “That was when he was unemployed and we used to be sorry for him and buy him a Guinness.” It did not occur to her however to reflect that this was the time when he was under the greatest temptation to drink the organisation’s money and it was agreed that he did not do so. This apart, there was much insistence on drunkenness. Hadn’t he said he was fired on while going home at night? Then there was the mysterious belief that he was being shadowed by Pakistanis, who waited for him when he came out of the Exile of Erin at 5 am. Certainly his strange story of being in a mosque as a child made me puzzle and I checked with Tony Coughlan whether there was a mosque in Cork. Lena Daly insisted that he was drunk and suffered from delusions. I listened to her more than I would have done, since he had promised to call into Hathersage Road today and did not do so, and Denis Maher was half worrying about him, half a little exasperated. I got Lena Daily to agree to a fresh start, but I will make it myself and not leave it to Lenny Draper. An interesting thing Lena said is that Mrs Crowe had contemplated writing to me complaining of Lenny Draper. “Lenny’s a good man for the job,” said Lena. “But he needs somebody over him.”
I returned to Liverpool with plenty to think about. I brought with me several of Lord Lytton’s novels I bought from Jimmy McGill, so that I now have, I think, all his works that are not “historical novels”. I was always a great admirer of Lytton as a boy of 15 to 17– indeed I passed my French examination in 1931 because I used to read “The Last Days of Pompeii” in French translation – often while sitting in the lavatory, so that Phyllis hearing an occasional word one day told AEG [ie. his mother] that she thought I was going off my head! At the same time I was learning Welsh. It is dangerous to read aloud even in English while immured in a closet, and how much more to speak with barbarous tongues. I find my early enthusiasm justified enough.
October 31 Wednesday: I had to go to Ripley today. An extraordinary situation has arisen there. As Melville told me, his apprentices head for Birmingham as soon as they are “out of their time” to earn £50 a week with multinational companies that have established themselves there. He has replaced the man on the stone but is two linotype operators short. They are working till midnight and weekends. The paper went well, but my transport story need not be told.
I reached Manchester a half hour late and found Lenny Draper waiting in the bar. Piccadilly was crowded, so we walked to Victoria. I was worried at the attitude taken up by the women, particularly Belle Lalor. I asked Lenny why he did not call to see Denis Maher yesterday. He replied that he had “a little bit of private business” but did not offer to disclose it. Let us hope it was, for example, something to do with some girl. He told me that the CID had tried to locate him but had gone to his old address. My theory of the position was to this extent strengthened. He could see that I was a little constrained, but thought I was worried about the police raids, which I am not unduly except for Jimmy McGill. He told me he had called a meeting of the young lad who was with him on Monday, the girl who works in Denis Maher’s office and one other at his flat on Friday. I was not pleased. I told him he was reducing the organisation to the level of Clann na hEireann and was not backward in uttering criticisms, which since they were made with tact did not offend him. There was much that was genuine and enthusiastic in his attitude, though he confessed to being a little disillusioned with Denis Maher and Vic Eddisford.
Now what is happening is that since he is friendly with Denis Maher’s secretary, who is critical of Maher and calls him a lazy bones, he hears all her complaints which probably arise from circumstance. I therefore told him he should not listen and regard her confidences as something to be ignored and repelled. From her he had a report that Maher had said he was going to “sort out the Connolly Association”. She had told him not to be a fool and had informed Lenny Draper. I told Lenny he should take no notice of things said in private, which might be merely the expression of exasperation and thought better of later. But I added that if there was such exasperation, it should be a signal to him to do a little sorting out himself.
Of the criticisms of Lena Daly, which I gave him in a somewhat cooler manner, he said her main motive was an emotional desire to unite with Clann na hEireann. I did not of course say anything about drink or money. I saw no signs of obsessive drinking and I have never done so. I will check on the finances when I get back to London. But on the few occasions he has borrowed from me, he has scrupulously repaid it even when I had forgotten about it. The self-justification of young people has to be viewed tolerably. They are trying to be something they are not yet in the eyes of others. When you can’t help what you are, the sense of solidity is pleasurable, but it is purchased at the expense of ability to change. So Lenny Draper tells me one minute that he has done next to nothing these three weeks. Then when I say some problem must be solved, he replies that he is working day and night to solve it. To which I reply that he had previously spoken of a three-weeks’ rest. I think also that he replies in an off-hand manner to Lena Daly and Belle Lalor. “A man must have his beer,” Lena Daly is told and goes off fuming. But Lenny is not going for beer. He is annoying the “ould ones” who are constraining with criticising. So there is an element of “generation gap” and since the grandparents are always more understanding of the youth than the parents, I can criticise without raising his hackles.
November 1 Thursday: Once again with a few preliminaries I set off for Manchester – none of the work I came here to do even touched. And strange coincidence, showing how little we control our own plans, I felt the first stirrings of creativity on the O’Casey book two days ago. I knew that though I started work on Mellows while Connolly was still in the press, I could not get down to it for several years. I put this down to Pavlov’s “reflex of purpose”. The achievement of an object does not immediately destroy the tensions required by the effort, especially when that effort stretches over years. But I am bored with having to prepare a new edition of “The Irish Crisis”. But no more of that.
When I reached Hathersage Road [where Manchester CPGB office was sited] I saw Jimmy McGill coming down the stairs with his inseparable dog. Vic Eddisford was engaged for the time being. People in his position have to fight for their time – I can retire to 124 Mount Road! Elsie got Jimmy McGill a cup of tea. She knew him during the war. He told the story of the dog, that came into his shop soon after the poodle died, with a torn ear, a broken rib and an open wound with maggots. Jimmy nursed the starving creature back to health, and voila, his new dog.
As soon as Vic Eddisford was free we went into his room, taking Denis Maher. The almost child-like innocence of Jimmy McGill is the fantastic irony of the whole thing. He did not even know what court he was brought up in. Vic Eddisford telephoned Casson’s assistant Maloney and made an appointment for next Wednesday. I said I would accompany him. Lenny Draper came in with a paper full of chipped potatoes. “Excuse me, I’m famished,” he said, and started to eat. Then he found the dog sniffing round and threw one on the carpet, despite my gesture to prevent it. The effect on Eddisford was electric. He had been struggling with time-wasting telephonic interruptions and was about near his wit’s end. “Get the fuck out of here. Feeding the dog on my floor!” Lenny Draper looked abashed. I made moves to restore peace. Then Lenny thought for a moment. Nettled he got up and walked slowly out. “Hi”, called Vic Eddisford, “Don’t be so bloody sensitive.” Half mollified, he said, “I’ll go and eat these outside.” “Sit down”, says Eddisford, and so we had him back again.
When our discussion was over Lenny Draper and I went to “The Lancaster” for a glass of beer. It was full of Irishmen and indeed is Lenny Draper’s best sales venue. It was quite interesting. There was dead silence. “That’s what happens when the ‘Provisionals’ go in,” he said. “I suppose they’re amazed that I’m still at large.” Over this quick gin I enlarged on one or two questions. I emphasised that our people must not do anything which could give an opportunity for a peccadillo to be enlarged into a crime. No drinking after hours. “I’ve not been to The Exile of Erin for three weeks,” says he (Where has he been?). No drinking too much. No youthful follies or escapades. I persuaded him to call off Friday’s meeting and to take steps to strengthen discipline on all sides. What I think I see is a general demoralisation in the branch due to the difficulties of the situation. Then I came back to Liverpool.
November 2 Friday (Birmingham): I went to Birmingham on the evening train. I was sorry to learn that the reason why Frank Watters has taken over the district [ie. as CPGB organiser] is because Harry Bourne has been operated upon for some form of cancer. He is not the worst – they always escape. They all complain that Watters will not listen to them and takes dissent as an insult. The meeting was less well attended than usual. But there is no doubt that Mark Clinton has made an enormous impression. About twelve were there. One of them, MacManus, was ill. He had been stabbed by a Clann na hEireann member who called at his door, but Mark Clinton has been unable to make head or tail of it. He does not think it is political. Possibly some girl. Apparently MacManus, a heavy fellow of about 28, not very articulate, did this fellow some damage even after being stabbed in the abdomen. The man is under a charge of attempted murder. I stayed the night with Mark.
November 3 Saturday (London): I came to London on an early train. The usual people were in the office, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue, but Jim Kelly is on holiday attending his brother’s wedding in Drogheda. I was with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat”].
November 4 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning, with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran, who came in. I told them all about the McGill affair. In the evening Charlie Cunningham and I went to Hammersmith.
November 5 Monday: I was in the office all day clearing away arrears, and in the evening went to Luton where a meeting was held at George Slessor’s. They have their three delegates and we made further plans. Michael Hawes was rallying Slessor on having allowed the Trades Council to affiliate to this dubious organisation in Tollington Road. One of the delegates, of the name of Harbottle, was there, and Tony Donaghey.
November 6 Tuesday (Liverpool): I rang Betty Sinclair repeatedly but could not get a reply. I guess she is in Moscow. Michael O’Riordan gave me a list of the people who have gone. They included Betty Sinclair, Edwina Stewart, Kevin McCorry and many others. There is scarcely a cadre in Belfast. This happens repeatedly and one cannot but question its wisdom. However, they manage their own affairs. I did not get away until the 5 pm. train.
November 7 Wednesday: I went to Manchester and found Jimmy McGill at Cassons. We had a talk with Maloney, who thought that since Jimmy had been let out on bail, he had little to fear. Then we had a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee, with Stan Cole, Lenny Draper, a man called Fitzpatrick from the Trades Council, plus Sean Hogan of the United Irish League. We got things in order again, but I had the impression that Ben Ainley is the disturbing factor. Denis Maher had been talking with him and had absorbed the notion that the aim was a “Peace in Ireland Committee”. I mentioned this to Lenny Draper who said, “It wouldn’t only be Ainley. There is a clique of them” – he meant Askins and one or two more. Of course it is not to the slightest degree malicious, but amounts to “ignorant goodwill” and self-satisfied benevolence, in which the desire to supplant the Connolly Association by the British Peace Committee plays a part.
I left Jimmy McGill at the door of the solicitor, Green, the police found him. Maloney did not charge anything but said that Green was associated with the NCCL [National Council for Civil Liberties]. Afterwards, I rather wished I had gone in with him – it was only to make an appointment – as Jimmy McGill would never think of saying that the Connolly Association would help with his costs. It seems that he has got legal aid. But he signed something the police gave him (I take it that this is what it was) without looking at it! The NCCL solicitor asked Jimmy McGill if he had any previous convictions, as these would be mentioned. To my surprise he answered mildly that he had. “What?” asked the solicitor. “Stealing by finding.” He explained that while working away from home he found a ring in a bathroom. “I was tempted,” he said, “and took it.” He was fined £2. We did not think that mighty serious, though it would be better otherwise.
November 8 Thursday: I started on the reading of “The Irish Crisis” with a view to revising for a new edition. I hate this kind of work, going over old ground. But it has to be done. There was a phone call from Michael Crowe. He had taken Lenny Draper out to Lena Daly’s and had somewhat improved feelings, but not much.
November 9 Friday: More work on the new edition. And that is about all. Lenny Draper rang to say no papers had yet arrived. But I had got Charlie Cunningham to send him some direct.
November 10 Saturday: I woke up suffering from arthritis in the right big toe joint. “I hope it’s not gout!”, I declared. I drank “Marmite” for vitamin B and as much water and tea as possible, and ate sparingly, avoiding nuclein, and had a glass of whiskey instead of wine before retiring. It did not get worse and there is no swelling worth mentioning.
November 11 Sunday: The arthritis was still active and though I walked to the post box, I found it hampering. The only salicylic acid I had in the house was aspirin, which Phyllis had. It is a thing I never use and don’t wish to. So I decided to push ahead with the regimen. Sometimes arthritis arises from a cold.
November 12 Monday: The arthritis had cleared up so that I ventured to make curry! If I had a cold it did not develop. I am puzzled by the attack. There seems nothing to induce it, except perhaps that I have been sitting up late reading and may have over-tired myself. I rang Belle Lalor in the morning but she did not know how Jimmy McGill had got on. But in the evening Lenny Draper telephoned. She had told him that Jimmy McGill got off with a fine of £20 pounds, and that (despite the objections of the police) the gun was returned to him. I presume it will be filled with lead or otherwise rendered innocuous.
I finished the plan of the new edition. But Stella Bond told me things were not going too well in London. I therefore formed the idea of a flying visit tomorrow before I actually wrote the extra chapter. The weather continues mild but stormy. I think the last few years have provided about the mildest spell I remember, even better than the 30s. There are chrysanthemums, sunflowers, holly hocks, evening primroses, bindweeds, nasturtiums, and poppies in flower – and though they are seedy enough there are by no means pinched or bedraggled. Will the “climatic optimum” be resumed or will the period 1940-49 prove the beginning, if interrupted, of the next “little ice age”? We may be able to guess this winter.
November 13 Tuesday (London): I went to London on the early train and arriving soon after midday put in the afternoon and evening at the office, writing letter, straightening things up and telephoning. I saw Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and others.
November 14 Wednesday (Liverpool): I spent the morning in the office, then returned to Liverpool by the evening train. I think I have the conference arrangements all in order.
November 15 Thursday: The mild weather continues. As well as the flowers noted, I have lavender, dead nettle, chervil, pyrethrum in flower. I spent the day on a new chapter for “The Irish Crisis”.
November 16 Friday: I spent the whole day on the new chapter.
November 17 Saturday: Another day spent the same way.
November 18 Sunday: I finished the additional chapter and revised it. Now all that is needed is the typing.
November 19 Monday: I spent the day clearing up. Ashford was supposed to have come, but as usual did not materialise. Then in the evening I went to Manchester to a meeting I had called myself. We were in The Mitre with Belle Lalor, Lenny Draper, the two Crowes and Lena Daly. It was decided, since Lenny Draper finds it almost impossible to get a room, to meet in private houses. This I supported as it may be that work will be done. I find, however, that there is a feeling that Lena Daly is falling off a bit, and it is not to be wondered at. I hope if I can help them to get it on its feet like Birmingham, that his enthusiasm may return. I had a wretched journey back and arrived after 12.
November 20 Tuesday (London): I caught the 10.40 to London and immediately started work on a 12-page paper, though I had not done the book reviews I had intended to do because of having to go to Manchester so often. The conference now looks reasonably healthy and there are over 60 applications, and more always come at the last minute. Chris Sullivan and Jane Tate and Jim Kelly were in during the evening. There was no startling news.
November 21 Wednesday: I worked on the paper as long as it was possible, But the interruptions grew to a distressing volume by 7.30. I spoke to Central London Branch about the crux in the Six Counties.
November 22 Thursday: In the morning while I was sorting through conference applications Jack Woddis rang. He asked if I had seen the papers. I had not. The Six County Executive has been designated, and (to my surprise) Fitt and company have completely capitulated to the Unionists [This was what became the Sunningdale Executive, with Unionist Brian Faulkner as Chief Executive and the SDLP’s Gerry Fitt as his Deputy. The Executive consisted of six Unionists, five SDLP members and two Alliance Party ones. It was based on elections held in June 1973 and the British Government White Paper of March 1973, “Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals”]. I got the papers. Then I sent Jock Stallard a wire: “Hope you can stand aside from Whitelaw mafficking.” I was too busy with the paper to be able to do any more. It is something that the news broke before we went to press. I finished the paper but for a statement on the Northern Executive and went to South London. Pat Bond was speaking to Rochester Trades Council. But Siobhán O’Neill was in the chair – an excellent chairman. They have quite a pleasant little branch there. I got back into town early enough to see Charlie Cunningham, who was in the office.
Looking back over this morning’s conversation with Woddis I felt I had cause for amusement. He told me that there had been difficulty in getting delegates to the Hampstead conference. He and John Gollan are going to Cuba. District committees are meeting all over the place. But not in Luton. So they are sending Tom Mitchell. And of course I am pleased. But he added, “He seems very keen to come. They’ve got something going there.” Now of course I got something going there. Then I have my own activities reported to me. The same thing happened regarding Manchester. “They’ve put out a statement. There’s much indignation in the Labour movement.” Again my own activity is reported back. The conclusion? Nothing is happening anywhere (Manchester partially excluded), but when they get a chance District organisers enter what the Connolly Association has done on their report sheets, and it is passed on to others.
November 23 Friday: I was in the office all day, apart from a trip to the Stationery Office to get Hansard. I see Stallard took my advice, if it was needed. I was out with Chris Sullivan in the evening. Pegeen O’Flaherty is carting him off for weekends to beauty spots. She has dropped the Parliamentary work with the Connolly Association and never or seldom comes in except with Chris Sullivan [to whom she was recently married]. But Chris is holding on very well. For how long though I do not know.
November 24 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning, and the usual people came, Charlie Cunningham, Brian Crowley, Chris Sullivan, Jim Kelly. In the late afternoon came Michael Crowe and Anne Chadwick, Hall the teacher, and Douglas Malloch. Anne Chadwick was a Connolly Association member in Manchester. She is married to a university don who loves chatterbox conversations about socialist tactics over cups of coffee and would like to get her out of it. Michael Crowe has a touch of erysipelas, which he puts down to exhaustion. But I thought it was a contagious disease and was a little worried about his going out to Toni Curran’s. When we went to Euston for a meal, what must he do but eat curry, surely the worst thing. I imagine he has not the slightest notion of dietetics and that is why he is rapidly acquiring the girth of a mountain. He told me there was much dissatisfaction at the summary way the Irish question was disposed of at the Party Congress. I do know Woddis told me the content of the resolution as early as the time I attended the Political Committee. Why delay? Partly I think to wait till they had the meeting with the Irish Party.
Apropos of that, there was much fussing about whether my name should be included in the Irish or the British delegation [presumably in the report to the CPGB Congress from the Political Committee regarding the recent discussions on Irish policy with the CPI]. Woddis was for the latter, Gordon McLennan inclined to the former. It struck me today that very likely my presence was requested by Dublin. The result was that my designation in the press report was like Mahomet’s coffin. But that might not be the explanation at all.
However, regarding the complaints I discouraged them. Learn from the past but do not moan about it. I told them it was the need for agreement with Ireland. I fear it may be that there was not much time and its priority was not maximal.
November 25 Sunday: I went into the office in the morning. Then we went up to Hampstead Town Hall to the conference called by the Irish Democrat. There were 91 delegates and a number of visitors. This was a far wider representation than at the one in April. Of our own people there were Michael Crowe, Pat Powell, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Toni Curran, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, Mark Clinton, Jim Kelly, Alf Ward and Barry Riordan, some visitors, some representing Trade Unions, Trades Councils and so on. The CP was there represented by Tom Mitchell. He evidently felt himself impelled to lay down the law – I think this habit they all have (which I had myself, Heaven help me, till I learned better) comes from the tradition of Stalin who made pronouncements ex cathedra, so to speak, on all questions in dispute. He criticised a statement we had issued on the following grounds. The statement said it was necessary to strengthen the policy-making of the Labour movement in view of the possibility of an early election. Now, says logician Tom, it is always necessary to strengthen the policy-making of the Labour movement, whether there is an election or not. Therefore the word “especially” should have been added. Of course the statement that it was necessary in view of an election did not exclude its being necessary at other times, and possibly especially in view of something else. But I had attracted a number of constituency Labour Parties and we were calling the conference so as to be ready for an election. Another proposal he made was for a national committee for solidarity with Ireland. He implied that this conference (twice as big and many times more representative than the ones any others called) was really a poor thing and something else should be attempted. As for the resolution, it should have included a reference to the Bill of Rights.
Oh, the utter fools one is compelled to thole! The Bill of Rights is technically impossible while the Constitution of Northern Ireland is in the melting pot. And the main thing is repealing Westminster’s repressive legislation. I got the latter point over, diplomatically avoiding the first. I tackled him afterwards. He said he had been talking to Woddis, who had insisted it was the job of the Connolly Association to “organise the Irish” (in the abstract we presume – perhaps the old “Irish Socialist Society in England”) and therefore something else was needed. Now I recognise the origin of all these things. It is Jimmy Stewart [ie. in Belfast]. If the Connolly Association is organising it, a United Ireland will be urged. People have complained that the CP emergency resolution had little reference to ending Partition, and at the Political Committee we had agreed that the Bill of Rights was technically unfeasible. But Belfast had taken it up. They had denounced it as “divisive” when it would have saved the situation. They are all for it when it is a utopian dream, a propaganda exercise giving them something to say. And we suspect that the reason Woddis did not show me the resolution was that he knew I would challenge it if there was insufficient reference to Partition, and question the Bill of Rights. However, when I saw the Bill of Rights was in it I did not object because it could become important again.
Over the weekend, I had been thinking of how to find a dint for a fulcrum and noticed that the issue of changing the members of the “Executive” [ie. the proposed Executive for Northern Ireland] will have to be debated in Parliament. Another thing, however, is the danger that after that an attempt will be made to revive the “Convention”.
I heard from Mitchell that Slessor had done nothing about the circulars that he undertook to send out, which I sent the day after the meeting. He had been “too busy”. Now I had offered to get them out from 283 Gray’s Inn Rd. and Tony Donaghey had offered to come in and do it. I saw Tony Donaghey was the secretary. “Leave it to me,” says Mitchell. In other words, “get off your own grass.” Now Stan Cole was there. Mitchell said, “If we don’t have a committee, somebody else will come in.” And this may be part of what is activating Jack Woddis. During the previous time he was much more afraid of Colin Sweet [ie. of the British Peace Committee] than desirous of a quick decision on the Irish question. Indeed when I said resources must be switched to it, there was an “audible silence” on the Political Committee.
Eugene O’Doherty was there. He told me he had been to Dublin and had seen Cathal Goulding and Tom Gill. When he got up I announced Eugene O’Doherty of Liverpool Clann na hEireann. His speech was typical Official IRA [At this time the Official IRA Army Council decided to transform the Official Republicans into a Marxist party, what they termed “the revolutionary party of the Irish working class”. This brought it into opposition to the CPI and it sought to displace that body’s standing vis-à-vis the USSR. From then on the Official IRA support group in Britain, Clann na hEireann, increasingly sought to influence the CPGB on Irish issues and sideline the Connolly Association]. It is as if he had been to Dublin for instructions. But he came to me afterwards and said he had left Clann na hEireann and joined the CP. I said, “Oh yes. I did hear.” Now I asked him what about the Liverpool Connolly Association. So we will see. I never pay much attention to these late conversions. I noted also that John MacMillan, who represented the Birmingham Connolly Association, read out a statement which was Official IRA a policy and not Connolly Association policy. It is so typical. I have seen it for years and years.
On the phone Mark Clinton had been complaining of some coolness from Frank Watters and others. There again it is “direct contact, excluding the Connolly Association” [ie. direct contact with Belfast by British Trade Union and leftwing groups regarding the situation there]. But he also says that he had exposed and thrown out two characters he was sure were police touts, and that Frank Watters felt a little piqued that he could handle people that Watters could not. And I do not think that the Northern Ireland CP writ runs there.
November 26 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley. Then I went to Sheffield, missing the connection but reaching Lena Daly’s for the meeting of the Connolly Association branch. Present were Lena Daly, Lenny Draper, Barney Watters, Desmond Crowe and Mrs Crowe and another character I did not know. Belle Lalor was also there. The meeting was chaos. I could see exactly Lenny Draper’s difficulties. The political level is close to zero. At a meeting they are silent. In a room in a house they chatter like parrots. Thus though last week they decided to meet in houses, Lenny Draper told me that Lena Daily was pushing a proposal to share a room with Clann na hEireann. They would meet at one end of the room, we at the other! She asked me about this, that was rejected last week, and I told her to stick to the decision they had made. But it was impossible to make a political proposal. All they could talk about was a social. I remember Joe Deighan on them years ago: “Politics is too difficult; let’s have a ceilí.” And then Lena Daly had been to Moxton [The cemetery in Manchester containing the memorial to the Manchester Martyrs]. Maire Drumm was there [Leading Belfast Provisional IRA figure]. She was, according to Lena, who is a bag of wild emotions, “a wonderful speaker”. They had tackled her. Apparently two of the wee girls gaoled for life on account of the London bombs are on hunger strike, she said “in Brixton where Terence MacSwiney was” – which I doubt. However, she would “be dead by Christmas unless the Irish picket the gaols.” They asked if the Connolly Association would join them. I said they must invite us in a proper way. Of course it is completely in keeping and I dare say if the two girls died the SDLP would find it hard going [ie. the Social Democratic and Labour Party in Northern Ireland, led at the time by Gerry Fitt and John Hume]. I am trying by political means to stop the thing in its tracks and have little hope. But if you have two wee girls prepared to go to their deaths, perhaps you could do it. And who is to blame for this? The Labour Party, who will refuse to do their duty when we trouble them, and so make it necessary for the IRA to sacrifice two girls. Of course if they were not Catholics they would never do it. There is a natural selection value to a community if its members believe in immortality, as I heard a zoologist say.
November 27 Tuesday: I spent most of the day typing the extra chapter for “The Irish Crisis”.
November 28 Wednesday: The weather had turned cold – so much so that I could see there had been snow in Manchester when I got there. I reached the AUEW place and found Lenny Draper there. Whatever about the others, he is prompt enough. Having seen something of his difficulties, I felt on reflection that he has made a good effort and he told me this evening that he had been a little “fed up” but had recovered his energies. He will need them. Fitzpatrick, an able young fellow though I feel fond of drink, a sheet-metal worker, arrived. Stan Cole did not. Lenny Draper rang his wife, who said he was out on an “industrial dispute”. Then they rang Denis Mahar, who was at his trade union meeting and would surely not have come but for the call. We made some progress. But Maher, the weak link, was talking about Ben Ainley and another committee which is to take up my suggestion of a very wide delegation to Belfast. Maher said that Lenny Draper had received an invitation to attend this on Saturday, but Lenny denied that he had heard about it and seemed to show annoyance. I asked Maher directly if he represented the Trades Council as he was talking of reporting back to them. He replied that he did. Afterwards Fitzpatrick, who is also on the Trades Council but not on its Executive, said that he did not believe him. Maher was elected to attend the conference, did not do so and thereafter posed as a delegate to the committee. Apparently Ainley and Arnison are the moving spirits in the other committee. “Ben Ainley’s playing his cards very close to his chest,” says Fitzpatrick when we had a drink together. “And you can’t tell what Maher is doing, a member of two committees and trying to merge us in that.”
November 29 Thursday: I completed the revision and typing of the extra chapter so that something at least is out of the way.
November 30 Friday (London): I caught the 12.30 to London and went straight to Lawrence and Wishart and gave Cornforth the manuscript of the new edition. He was very pleased to see it dead on time and remarked that the first edition had stood up well enough. “You will be like Mao Tse Tung,” he jested, to what exact purpose I don’t know, though I think there was a time when they examined all his past statements and found them without exception still valid. I replied with the same coin, “But I’m a revisionist.” “Oh, indeed?” “Revideo revisionism.”
At about 6 pm. Alan Morton came in [ie. Professor A.G. Morton, Desmond Greaves’s oldest personal friend]. He looks older like everybody else, but says he is in perfect health. But Alisoun has had trouble [ie. Alan Morton’s daughter]. After her operation she went with a middle-aged woman friend to Jersey. The friend left her on the beach for two minutes, when she was assaulted by a French cook. She spoke to him in French and delayed his action but was thrown over some rocks and suffered bruising of the bones – I think her thigh. So she has been ill ever since. He was caught and given four months before being deported to France. Nothing is ever done to stop this kind of thing. At one time they concentrated on protecting property. Now they do not even do that for property in general, only for large-scale property. John is living with them and has some job in the university. But Alisoun wants to do medicine at Glasgow. Owing to sickness she received only a 2/2 in Celtic. But she hopes after qualifying as a doctor to go and practise in the Gaeltacht, if there is any of it left. The petrol crisis may help by keeping the motorists in their cities, or should I say suburbs [ie. the Middle East crisis that led OPEC to raise oil prices considerably]. David has a child. His marriage was about to break up when this saved it.
December 1 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and the usual people came, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Brian Crowley and so on. In the evening I was with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town.
December 2 Sunday (Liverpool): The Executive was held in Coventry today. I travelled up with Toni Curran. Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohue were there, Jim Kelly, Pat Bond, Siobhan O’Neill, Pegeen O’Sullivan, Jane Tate, Michael Crowe and Mark Clinton, but Alf Ward, Lenny Draper and Peter Mulligan did not turn up. We had a useful meeting. We will hold our conference in Birmingham and meanwhile try to develop the Midlands. Pat Powell was present and when we had the seminar after the meeting there were others, including Mary Brennan (a very confused person like her sister) [ie. Irene Brennan of the CPGB] and Mrs Gallagher, Danny Lloyd’s sister. It is fairly clear that Manchester will never occupy the position it did since Joe Deighan developed it, and that we have returned to the earlier arrangement of a London/Midlands combination. How much depends on individuals. Charlie Cunningham stayed in Coventry with Mark Clinton and they explored the possibility of a Coventry branch. Michael Crowe and I went to Birmingham and I came on to Liverpool.
December 3 Monday: I stayed in most of the day. The sudden cold spell is broken and the weather is mild. I certainly got precious little done. I have a cold.
December 4 Tuesday: I got up late and got little done but a few letters. Lenny Draper rang to say he had got to Birmingham yesterday but could get no further – did not reach there till 5 pm. He said he had to walk into town and could not get the early train. I had wondered if he had been in the Exile of Erin the night before but said nothing. However, he spoke of Ben Ainley’s committee which he said has taken to meeting in the same place as ourselves, the AUEW in Salford, and has vast funds. He said it receives unstinting help from Denis Maher and others. In effect it is Askins, Ainley and a group of old cronies. I again asked Denis Maher if he had been invited to any of the meetings or informed of its establishment and continuance. He replied that he had not. I cannot understand this. It crossed my mind that Lenny Draper will surely get thoroughly disgusted if he is not that already, and rather than that he should get demoralised in Manchester he would be better in London.
In the evening Tony Coughlan telephoned and said he would spend a weekend here before Christmas.
December 5 Wednesday: I had a filthy cold today and was a far from pleased at having to go to Manchester. Lenny Draper phoned and said he was going with Dennis Maher to see somebody and would be a minute or two late. He was half an hour late. There was no caretaker, and we could not get into the room. I think that Lenny asked the man if it was free but did not clinch it, so we had to go to a pub. Stan Cole was there, Maher and Fitzpatrick. This last is by far the most intelligent of them. Fitzpatrick made sensible proposals for sending the delegation to Belfast. But Stan Cole announced that there was to be a meeting on the 14th and suggested we do nothing until we had attended that. We pointed out that this would mean that we could not keep the date in January, but he would not hear of this. Lenny Draper had been invited to this meeting but had not brought the invitation with him. We could not get out of anybody what the meeting was on. On being pressed Stan Cole grew impatient and said he was “not concerned” with that. We should go there and “fight” for what we were doing now. Was it a CP meeting? Or the British Peace Committee? Or what? Nobody knew. I proposed that the committee we had here should suspend operations for a month or two. Stan Cole I think would not understand the word “suspend”, which he thought meant abandon. When we said we could operate again in the New Year he became completely unreasonable and said, “without me”. Then there was confusion over whether the Connolly Association, the committee or Lenny Draper personally had been invited. So the whole thing was completely unsatisfactory and I felt like leaving Manchester alone for a while. I am sure both Stan Cole and Maher know more than they admit. Cole keeps saying there was a meeting at Hathersage Road last Saturday to which Lenny Draper was invited. But Lenny says he has not been. And perhaps Stan Cole’s excitement betrays a guilty conscience. No doubt we shall learn. It may be that some difference has arisen which the meeting next week is to clear up. Anyway, apart from feeling thoroughly wretched with the cold, I was very displeased.
December 6 Thursday: I did little enough, still having a cold. In the evening Lenny Draper rang and said the meeting on Saturday week was of Arnison’s committee. I was completely shocked and surprised that Ben Ainley and others who knew what we were doing and had endorsed it should, without warning, withdraw support and fly off on to something else. I told Lenny Draper he should go into Hathersage Road and ask for an explanation.
December 7 Friday (London): I went to London and found Charlie Cunningham in the office. Then I went to Camden Town with Tony Donaghey. He told me he had heard nothing from Slessor or Tom Mitchell. When he telephones him he is always out. It is most provoking. When we offered to send out the material from our office, Slessor insisted on sending it from his home. But he didn’t do it – Jack Woddis’s conference once more.
December 8 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue came as usual.
A telephone call from Lenny Draper informed me that he had seen Denis Maher who told him he did not know what Arnison etc. were doing but that he agreed with it. Then he rang Arnison and was told, in effect, that he was not interested in what Lenny Draper was doing or wanted to do. When I was in Luton Michael Hawes was complaining that Slessor had failed to prevent the Trades Council’s affiliating to the curious Trade Union Committee, which Jack Woddis and I suspected was of “Provisional” origin. They said that the man who addressed them said that the Manchester AUEW had affiliated. I wonder if Arnison is the link here. The whole thing is a disgrace. I was out with Charlie Cunningham in Paddington.
December 9 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning but went to Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. He does not seem himself, possibly from overwork.
December 10 Monday (Liverpool): I saw no reason for remaining in London and went to Manchester on the early evening train after a day in the office. Sitting opposite me in the dining car was a lecturer or professor of Classics, HD Smith. He was going to Stoke-on-Trent to lecture on Roman diet. I mentioned John Morris’s book called “The Age of Arthur” and told him how important I thought it was. He knew Morris and considered him “very brilliant”. But he added, “he’s too much of a left-winger for me.” I wondered if he was the John Morris I knew in the thirties. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to some MP other, I thought, earlier secretary of the University Labour Federation, a Liverpool man from Ivanhoe Road or somewhere like that. Now White is also a Liverpool man and the fact that he did not know him would argue against the identity.
I got to Manchester and found Lenny Draper. I advised him to go to the meeting next Saturday and to urge that they take over our commitment to the Trades Council. I supplied a memorandum to assist him. But I have not much hope that even if he presents his case effectively, they will listen. It was clear too that the dissatisfaction of the Connolly Association branch was due to Lenny Draper’s trying to do too much with his slender resources. They decided not to meet till early January. So I came on to Liverpool.
December 11 Tuesday: I was in the house all day and seemed to accomplish precisely nothing! I still have a cold.
December 12 Wednesday: There was a less boastful Letter from Sam Levenson, which came despite my cool reply to his last. I said I would telephone him in London.
December 13 Thursday: I spent a part of the time clearing up in the house. Ashford came. Tony Coughlan telephoned yesterday to say he would arrive on Saturday morning. So I arranged to meet him at Lime Street and asked Lenny Draper who is coming over the same day to ring when he arrived. Ashford talks about starting work next Monday or Tuesday. I do not have much expectation of seeing him.
December 14 Friday (Birmingham): I went on with the clearing up and then left for Birmingham. In the meantime the crazy fanatic who is running this country [ie. Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath] announced that he would bankrupt the lot of us before he’d pay a decent wage to the miners, on whom everybody is dependent since their fool oil mirage has disappeared into thin air [The Middle East oil crisis had led to major energy shortages that year]. Everybody I spoke to agreed that we are ruled by inept fools, quite apart from the class aspect. The meeting was fair at Birmingham and I stayed the night with Mark Clinton.
He told me about Bannister. He says he is improved, though he is a poor thing. Apparently he had opened his heart to him. For some reason he is afraid of me and was shocked at my freely expressed opinion of Dominic Behan, whom I regard as a not very clever bum. Bannister is “a homosexual”. Now Mark Clinton told me something that I did not know, best sat down in his words: “Apparently Dominic Behan is another and he has made use of Bannister to do little things for him on occasion.” Now it would not be true to say that in puzzling over the attempt to disrupt the Connolly Association in the late fifties, I did not notice that so many of the ultra-lefts were uninterested in women. I could not understand where they all came from and how it seemed possible to conjure up voting members in North London who were never seen before or since. That Prendergast was one centre of disruption I do not doubt. And that Behan (Brian) was another, and Dominic a third, I remember well. But the “homosexuality” throws an odd side-light on the whole affair. But I cannot be expected to forgive anybody concerned in the thing, because perhaps if the totality of my energies had not been absorbed, quite apart from finishing a few books, I might have paid a little more attention to Phyllis’s health, and she might have been alive today [ie. his sister, Phyllis Greaves].
December 15 Saturday: I had not the slightest difficulty in getting back. The train was on time and Tony Coughlan who had been strolling round the Walker Art Gallery appeared at 12 noon. We returned to 124 Mount Rd. When Lenny Draper rang we met him in town and heard the tale of woe. Apparently not all those involved attended Ben Ainley’s meeting. But Stan Cole was there and delivered a bitter attack on my absent person. It was strange how I had felt the antagonism at the meeting in Manchester and knew that a swindle was afoot. Ben Ainley, Ray [Name unclear] and Arnison were there. Arnison had been in Belfast and had discussed the whole thing with Edwina Stewart. So we are back to the old centre of antagonism, the Stewarts. Now I know why Betty Sinclair in a letter to Jane Tate urged us to press for the re-establishment of an Irish Committee of the CPGB. I imagine Oxford will have bought that, though I heard nothing as yet. They completely refused to entertain anything that Lenny Draper said. They were not impressed by Stan Cole’s attack on myself, said Lenny. “They all sat with blank faces and made no comment.” Of course not. The bag of vanity was voiding an uncomfortable cat and they would be bound to know Lenny Draper would pass everything on. They propose a “mass delegation”[ie. to visit Belfast] and will send an exploratory delegation at the end of January. Lenny Draper warned them that if they intended to link with the “Provisionals” and the Officials and the Trade Union Movement, they were likely to meet obstacles. But I said I thought their exploratory team would be advised while it is of value that there should be these delegations, and the proposal is not widely different from one I made myself at Hathersage Road (except that I wanted it to be broadly based and see uncommitted as well as committed groups, and of high quality and smaller quality), the way Lenny Draper has been treated is shocking, but it does not seem to depress him.
Now Tony Coughlan was in Belfast and saw John McClelland, Jack Bennett and Ann Hope. She told him that American money was no longer coming to NICRA. Hence perhaps the aim of money-making organisations in England. Also they are very pleased with the work they have been doing with the wives of the “Provisional” internees. However, the economic blizzard is starting to blow and who knows where the ships will be found in a few months’ time. It would not surprise me if little came of the Ainley plan.
December 16 Sunday: We did not do much today, merely talked about events and prospects and went for a walk in the afternoon.
December 17 Monday: Little enough was done. I went over to see Tony Coughlan off in the evening.
December 18 Tuesday: I am still not fully the better of the cold I had, but spent some time on the paper.
December 19 Wednesday: The piano tuner Atherton came in the afternoon. He turns out to be a strong Tory. I indicated that I did not think much of the Government’s handling of the fuel situation. To my surprise he grew eloquent. The Government must refuse to give in to the trade unions. Otherwise there would be stark communism. Half the Labour Party were communists, if you did not know it. I was somewhat nonplussed at his vehemence, laughed at him and rather unceremoniously bundled him out of the house. I hope I have not lost a tuner! I have certainly not lost a politician. So the middle-class is terrified. What a pack of fools they are. The same Atherton a year ago told me that the pay he receives from Smiths is not enough to live on and asked if he decided to work for himself would I retain his services. AEG [ie. his mother] did that for his predecessor years ago. Then he died or emigrated, and she had to go back to Smith’s.
December 20 Thursday: I went on with the paper. It is clear that the post and travelling are not half as bad as the Government is pretending. So I posted it off.
December 21 Friday: I continued to work on the paper. I had a few words with Cathal yesterday or the day before [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin]. I sent him a laburnum tree via Tony Coughlan. And Ashford arrived and set to work on the back window and cut a little of the birch tree.
December 22 Saturday: I could hardly sleep last night for a pain across my shoulders, which was damned uncomfortable. But it did not seem too bad in the day.
December 23 Sunday: Another disturbed night. Ashford came in the morning and got me up as I slept late. He cut the birch tree severely back, so that I felt that perhaps I could leave it – I had thought of removing it as part of my plan for more cultivation. I still have the pain in the right shoulder.
December 24 Monday: I went into Birkenhead Market and bought a goose. Ashford, who was to finish the job, did not show up. Lenny Draper rang and I invited him over on Thursday. And I continued with the paper.
December 25 Tuesday: The pain was severe in the night and I felt unwell in the morning. I wondered what the trouble was. Thinking it all over I concluded the trouble was arthritic. So I drank Vitamin B extract, laid off nuclein and wine and ate little and drank plenty. I had not any sodium salycilate and I suspect aspirin. I was pleased to find a slow improvement. I took some goose at night and drank a bottle of hock, and apart from an electric blanket I took a hot water-bottle to bed for the shoulder.
December 26 Wednesday: I was definitely better in the morning and the pain steadily abated all day. I spent an hour or two working out possible. derivations of uric acid from amino acids – but restricted protein anyway. By evening, though I was not well, I was not too uncomfortable. I was able to fit a new clothes line necessitated by the cutting of the tree, and mend the three lounge chairs that heavy sitters had burst the seats through. The argument is this – uric acid has four nitrogen atoms. These can only be derived from amino-acids. Also it would seem condensation occurs. It is most likely to occur where protein is digested – in the intestine. Why should it follow this unpleasant course? Because the catalysts in the intestine are wrong. Those are based on bacteria. What would send them wrong? Possibly a filthy cold, a virus infection such as I had earlier in the month. I kept up the “treatment”.
December 27 Thursday: I was completely recovered today, hardly feeling a trace of the pain. I had expected Lenny Draper but he did not come. Ashford finished work on the tree and talks of coming next Tuesday to finish the window. In the evening Lenny Draper telephoned to say he had been sick, and vomiting all day. “Excessive booze”, said I. But this he discounted. He had been eating things not part of his usual diet. So he will come on Saturday.
December 28 Friday: I was busy sawing up the branches cut from the birch tree. We did not cut it down altogether but left free branches at the top. It has quite a feather-like appearance. There is a small laburnum sapling below it, but I am not sure whether I shall leave it. A letter from Tony Coughlan told me that Helga [ie. Helga MacLiam in Dublin] had planted the laburnum seedling I had sent her with him.
I listened to the Messiah on the radio. It was a performance from the Philharmonic Hall and I had half a mind to have attended in person, but I feared the worst, and I may add rightly, when I read that it was to be done in the fashionable “reconstituted” 18th century style. Unfortunately, it is my impression that Mozart’s additional orchestrations were an improvement, and that the living tradition of countless choral societies over two centuries is not just so much vulgar accretion. A few years ago it was the fashion to follow the score exactly and drop all the appoggiatura. Now there is nothing else and there is no life in the thing. The orchestra stops to let the singer have his little fling. But in the olden days the thing was part of the production of music. The singer and orchestra were as close as a group of jazz extemporisers. The minute you introduce a conductor you destroy this, and that is why the 19th century tradition will be thrown away, only to turn the whole thing into a piece of museum. What a pack of purest halfwits are alive in the world today – wherever you look, heads like chamber-pots! And to add to it, I was not impressed by anything else in the performance.
December 29 Saturday: Towards lunchtime Lenny Draper arrived looking as if he’d never had a day’s sickness in his life. Though we were not concerned with business, but were taking a day’s relaxation, he was able to enlighten me further on the subject of events in Manchester. It seems that there has been dissatisfaction with Denis Maher who has been sharply criticised by his committee and has resigned. Lenny Draper thinks that Vic Eddisford is not too pleased. A successor, also a young man of about 25, a teacher, has been appointed. Lenny thinks that Askins may have been the moving spirit, but I doubt it. Of course, I know exactly the trouble in all these offices, and that includes the local one; it is that you have people who are sound enough in general principle, but uncertain and therefore inflexible in policy, and turn principle into a land of drum or tom-tom to silence the inner protestations of doubt and fear. Committees become like flocks of sheep; individuals either hector or vacillate, and of course nobody could do the job any better than the full-time man, but he has put his head in the ass’s mouth and had it spat out again. I think there is an element of cliquishness in Manchester too. If all the people who caused you trouble were villains, how easy life would be. But there isn’t a villain among them!
We were talking about music. Lenny Draper is interested in what is termed Irish traditional music and wants to learn the flute. But he hasn’t a notion of even the first rudiments of music. He did not know what a “chord” was, could not recognise the common chord and disclosed a long-standing sympathy with an inversion of an incomplete dominant eleventh which I struck in search of the most outré. His ear for melody seems all right though and for the time being he will have to stick to that.
December 30 Sunday: I had a letter from Enid Greaves, which I replied to. She asked if I would give the originals of the letters of Joseph Greaves to my grandfather William Greaves to Cyrus Greaves of Preston, Idaho, who would like to possess them and would leave them to a museum in Utah [These letters described Joseph Greaves’s travels across America with other Mormons, before settling in Utah]. I thought it over carefully and came to the conclusion that provided he could satisfy me that that would be their ultimate destination, I would comply. They were part of the contents of Mary Greaves’s house which fell to the share of Phyllis, who however got them on my behalf. I promised Enid photostats but forgot about it. I also replied to Dorothy Greaves, AMM, sent a few bob to the MacLiam children via Egon, acknowledging also a card from Toni Curran. Dorothy Greaves wants to come here in January. I wrote suggesting a date.
December 31 Monday: This was a damn trying and tiring day. I went to Ripley [ie. Ripley in Derbyshire where he went to check the proofs of the “Irish Democrat” each month]. I had intended to go for the 9.15, but the 8 am. radio said the underground was not working normally. I therefore went to the bank and then to Lime Street for the 10.40. I might just have caught the 11.20 to Derby, but the Liverpool train was a few minutes late. I waited in Crewe for an hour. I reached Derby at about 2.15. There was frost everywhere and remnants of fog. I had to take a taxi. The shortage of petrol has affected itself in charges. It cost me £2 to go the ten miles.
The paper went well enough, but Reynolds has only two linotypers working. One man has left and Terry is on holiday. One of the girls in the office has also gone. At present they believe that Heath’s absurd three-day week will not affect them as they produce newspapers. But the general postal and rail disorganisation is doing so. I arranged for them to take the papers down to Derby Station on Wednesday.
I returned to Derby by bus. Thick fog descended. I missed the bus to the station. I still might have caught the train but that I had to walk through the fog to the station. As all the houses have been demolished in pursuit of heaven knows what crazy and wasteful scheme and there are no landmarks, and the street lights are out thanks to the power shortages. I could not walk quickly. There are no pavements anyway. So I missed the 5.30 and had to wait for the 6.30. This arrived 20 minutes late in Crewe, though there was no trace of fog on this side of the Pennines, and missed its connection for Liverpool. The next Liverpool train was 40 minutes late, so that I finally reached 124 Mount Road at 10.15 pm., having had only a couple of sandwiches in a railway bar since morning.
I was pleased to note that everybody in Derby, including the taxi man, supported the miners.
January 1 Tuesday: I remained at home all day. There was hoar frost on the ground which melted where the sun fell, though the wind was Northwest. Not a good sign, although roses and antirrhinums are vying with the faithful hellebores. The economic prospects being as grim as they are, I fitted a new zip on an old khaki anorak. It can serve us another turn.
January 2 Wednesday (London): The radio issued dire warnings about Liverpool-London rail services being cut by a half, but I found no difficulty at Lime Street and arrived in London on time. I also noted how quickly an invalid’s chair was brought to the train at Euston for an old gentleman who was crippled. I reached the office and Stella Bond was there. She told me that she drives to Blackheath in her car, discards it, walks to New Cross and then takes a tube. Pat Bond has the benefit of a bus run by the bank to bring its staff into the City [He worked for a bank in the City]. But he leaves home at 6 am. and arrives back at 7 pm. This is because there are no Southern electric trains. When he gets there, he works by candlelight for two days as only three days’ electricity is allowed. How is it enforced? She says a policeman walked round the building to see everything was switched off. “Have they nothing better to do?” I asked. “Apparently not.”
I asked her what was the position of Connolly Publications Ltd.[ie the company which owned and published the monthly “Irish Democrat”]. If we were an office, she said, we must use electricity only on three days of the week. But if we were a shop, we could use it either in the morning or the afternoon. She went to the rubber shop, who said they regarded themselves as a shop and were lighting up every morning this week and every afternoon next. She knew nothing about offices. Then she went to Securicor. They were an office. They had both heat and light on and proposed to continue every day until the authorities (whichever they are) told them what to do. They had heard nothing. So we resolved to do the same. Nobody seems to have any notion what the regulations are. Ripley is working normally on the grounds that he produces newspapers [These were exempt from the Government’s three-day week regulations]. But magazines are in dispute over whether the restrictions apply to them. I think if questioned I will argue first that as producing a newspaper we are exempt; alternatively that we need two days in three weeks and five in a fourth, which is a total of 11, and alternatively that we can’t carry out any instructions till we get them.
The young law student JV Mulready came in at about 5 pm. He told Charlie Cunningham that he would be willing to help with our Parliamentary Department. He said that he had seen policemen going into shops in the Islington area and presumed this was to enforce power restrictions. Brian Crowley telephoned that owing to the three-day week he was working late and would be unable to attend the meeting, and indeed only Charlie Cunningham, Vivien Morton, Mabel Donovan, Elsie O’Dowling and Jim Kelly showed up – apart from Pegeen O’Flaherty the chairman – and a very poor chairman too; woeful! Chris Sullivan has influenza. Charlie Cunningham told me that Tom Mitchell had been ringing from Luton about the Belfast trip. He seems to have taken over like Arnison in Manchester. I will telephone him in a day or two but would like to speak to Tony Donaghey first.
We went to Neary’s after the meeting – four of us, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Vivien Morton and myself. Jim Kelly says his insurance office is working at about half capacity. People from South London arrive at 10 and begin to leave at 3.30. The office machines work; apparently there are kilowatts for them; but the strip lights are out; there are no watts for them. Charlie records a very truculent mood among his workmates. The boozing over Christmas was such as was never before known. There was an apocalyptic air. The men wondered where they would be by next Christmas.
We were told by Jim Kelly that even strong Tories deplore Heath’s policy in his office, and that hatred of the EEC is stronger than ever. We fell to discussing socialism, and this led on to Stalin.
“It was a savage dictatorship,” said one. I pointed out that the difficulty was to give discipline to a peasant nation. “Is it fair to impose that on one or two generations?” asked Charlie Cunningham. We agreed it was to be regretted, however necessary it might have been. But Jim Kelly would have no retrospective regrets. “I know them,” he said, meaning peasants. “We’ve got them at home. There’s only one way to make them work – the gun!” Jim Kelly always over-states every case.
January 3 Thursday: I came into the office and wrote a few letters. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in. There had been some trouble in Luton while I was away, as I noted. But we found Tony Donaghey at home and proposed a postponement. Tony promised to telephone Slessor, who had previously sworn this was impossible.
January 4 Friday: I spent the morning in the office. Charlie Cunningham, who works only the first three days of the week, did not come in. Tom Mitchell rang me in the morning. He was amiable enough. I told him that Tony Donaghey was coming in at 12.30 and that I would bring him out to Luton. But Tony did not come in. I therefore went myself, met Tom Mitchell at the railway station and there we worked out a plan which I communicated both to Tony Donaghey and Slessor by phone. We would send the delegation on the 18/20 [ie. on that weekend], hold a meeting of the Luton Committee on the 21st and put the conference off till 10 February.
January 5 Saturday: I was in the office and the usual people came in – Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Brian Crowley and also Tony Donaghey. I am fairly happy about Luton now. It looks as if it need become a second Manchester. A letter came from NICRA saying that their offices had been raided and they feared worse to come. This is a new phase in the “counter-revolution”, if we may so term it. But I thought we might recover the initiative. Although Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue are both still in Ireland, I called a Standing Committee for tomorrow. Later Pat Bond came in. Charlie Cunningham says that in the hairdressers and the little restaurant round the corner there is only one subject – the three-day week. I was out with Charlie Cunningham in Hammersmith. [Between January and March 1974 Edward Heath’s Conservative Government put Britain on a three-day working week to conserve fuel supplies in face of a national strike by coal miners, whose wages had fallen in face of inflation and who were being given a militant lead by NUM Vice-President Mick McGahey. Most of Britain’s electricity was at that time produced by coal. There were train strikes also at the time. In February Heath called a general election, his party’s slogan being ‘Who Governs Britain?’ This returned a Labour minority government under Harold Wilson, which increased miners’ wages by one-third. A second election in October 1974 gave Labour a three-seat majority.]
January 6 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Jane Tate was back from County Cork and Charlie Cunningham was there, though late from some affection of the eye, and Pat Bond and Jim Kelly. We decided to call a lobby on the persecution of NICRA and to press some other projects. Pat O’Donohue is still on holiday in Galway. Michael Crowe telephoned. Of course everything is upside down. Michael wants me in Newcastle on February 3rd. But will there be any Sunday trains? He says that nobody he has spoken to is against the miners’ claim, but on the contrary, all think the Government has made a mess of things. The new regulations, however, are being used by the employers to break all agreements and get Saturday working at normal rates. Shop-stewards are being bombarded with questions, but the regulations were carefully drawn so that meetings cannot be called in the evening except in a public house or the like. Nevertheless, meetings are being held to discuss tactics. And the Government makes a display of tanks and armoured cars at Heathrow Airport which are withdrawn at night when nobody can see them.
I had a word on the phone with Joe Deighan. He has a “touch of ‘flu”. He tells me that Madge Davison’s house was raided twice. She lives on the top of a building whose roof has been blown off, protected from the weather with tarpaulin!
According to Jane Tate, who spent Christmas in County Cork and came back through Dublin, Sean Nolan is ill. He looks perfectly well but suffers from intense headaches and dizziness and is going into hospital. Michael O’ Riardon is off to Moscow for an operation on varicose veins. Apparently, the man in charge is now Tom Redmond. They very seldom see Sean Redmond and some wonder if his political days are over.
I went to Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. We met Joe Crilly [a long-standing CA member]. Most building firms are on full time, he says, but some are not and as in County Durham employers are trying to compel Saturday working at weekday rates.
January 7 Monday (Liverpool): The list of sponsors Tom Mitchell had promised on my doormat this morning did not arrive. Apparently Slessor had not provided them. However he telephoned the information. I rang Fenner Brockway and Toni Curran rang Sid Bidwell [Labour MP for Southall, West London] and got two national sponsors. But Brockway would only go forward if I got three. I rang Jock Stallard, who was out, but spoke to his wife. Stella Bond told me that Bunting, who had been coming to help her in the office and was doing the invoices, was knocked off his bicycle by a motorist and she feels he may be in hospital. On Saturday the Workers’ Music Association wrote to me. The former woman, Armitage, is back and concludes her letter with a chilly announcement that the one who took over from her was “no longer with us”. I think little of either of them. They accepted my proposal regarding editing Ted Shields’s book [A collection of Irish political songs, with music, which Greaves had agreed to edit, taking the project over from CA member Ted Shields] but inserted in it a phrase I shall regard as non-contractual: that I should do the necessary work “in collaboration with Mr Shields”. When I first criticised Shields’s draft this stupid woman grew quite excited. I did not want to quarrel with Ted Shields since he and his wife send out the Irish Democrat postal list. But on Saturday Ted Shields brought in a letter saying that he must reluctantly give up this job that had grown too big. So just at this moment my hands are freed.
I went to Euston for the 5 pm. It was cancelled, but the dining car was transferred to the 4.20, which left just after 5! So I was in Liverpool as expected. A letter from Dorothy Greaves said she was not coming this month after all. A letter from Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] was somewhat apologetic at not answering my letter in October, so that I did not go to Dublin as planned. He has plenty to contend with. A letter from Tony Coughlan enclosed an article by Peter Kerrigan on John Maclean [1879-1923, the Scottish Labour leader].
January 8 Tuesday: I got precious little done today. There was a letter or a series of letters on one sheet, first Finula NicLiam, then Egon MacLiam, Conor MacLiam, Beibhin NicLiam and a scrawled Killian [These were the children of his friends Cathal and Helga MacLiam in Dublin, who were by way of being his vicarious family]. Conor sent somewhat crudely contrived limericks. I wrote to Cathal and remarked that I will show Conor how to write limericks.
I telephoned Stallard to ask him to sponsor the conference in Luton. He hesitated a little. Then he said, “I think it’s alright. Put me down. But d’you know the Communist Party is opposing me, and I don’t want to appear to be running after them. But they’re not opposing O’Halloran.”
“But have they anybody up against him?” I asked.
To my surprise he replied, “Oh, they had – Betheridge. They wrote to O’Halloran and said that they were not opposing him because he had done such a good job.” My mind flew back to the conversation with Gordon McLennan at the Political Committee. There I had asked him to withdraw from the contest against Stallard. I told him that the Connolly Association would have to support Stallard. He agreed. Then at the Political Committee I raised the matter again. On both occasions they said they did not oppose or refrain from opposing people on grounds of their policy. They regarded certain constituencies as open to contest. And they had fought North St. Pancras before Stallard was returned at the by-election. But my mind also went back to Reuben Falber’s more frank admission. They might conceivably give up a contest, but, and these are his exact words: “not on the Irish question”. So what has happened? My guess is that Gordon MacLennan so badly wants to contest that even though they want to reduce their commitments, they don’t wish to displease him. Then they make a virtue of necessity, write to O’Halloran with a view to “united action” in the campaign and it never enters their heads that he would show the letter to Stallard! This is the sectishness that permeates the whole party. To see the London District people lobbying was a sight to appal their well-wishers. The group of them stayed together and apart from the MP they spoke to, addressed not a word to any other person.
January 9 Wednesday: I had thought of going to Dublin today but decided the rail situation was too uncertain and pottered about the house.
January 10 Thursday: I decided to take a chance and left for Holyhead. Though I was told there was a through train to Bangor from Rock Ferry, I had to change at Chester, but then got straight to Holyhead, I think on a delayed Manchester train. I arrived at about 9 pm. The heavens opened with the most torrential rain I have seen for years. The wind howled round the station and I sought to shelter by the bar since we were unable to go on board. The reason given was traceable to the strike – but how Heaven knows [There were major strikes by coalminers and railwaymen at the time]. The policy is to make everything as unpleasant as possible as unnecessarily as possible, and then blame the miners of the railwayman.
There was an elderly Irish countrywoman sitting there. She had been visiting her son near Luton and she mentioned the only power blackout I have heard of. This was due to a whirlwind’s rooting up trees and throwing them across electricity cables. But the strange thing was the narrow track of the storm. She had been at Holyhead since 4 pm. She was opposed to the miners, but I persuaded her that Heath was trying to get his own back on them for defeating him last time. No political argument registered with her, but the personal one did. Of Ireland, she said that the present government was a very good one, but she thought Labour in Britain friendlier to Ireland than the Tories. This old lady got me into trouble.
As we finally found we could move and the torrents having stopped, she asked me to help her with her luggage. There was not a porter in sight. Now she was travelling second class, I first. I must therefore change classes after seeing her on board and anticipated some difficulty, the system in use now being designed for the minimum flexibility and the maximum inconvenience. However, I resolved to accompany her and be damned. Sure enough the ticket collector insisted on taking my ticket and announced that it was not possible to change classes on board. He would keep the ticket till I returned. When I returned in less than three minutes he had disappeared, ticket and all. I expressed myself dissatisfied to his successor.
“He’s got other work to do,” said this character.
A burly man in brown chipped in. “You’ll just have to wait patiently.” “Who are you?” I asked. “Are you an employee of British Railways?” “Mind your own business.” I indicated that I thought it was mine. When a few minutes later the collector returned, the burly man in brown followed me and announced that he was a policeman. So it turned out that it was his business to know who I was. Had I any identification? No. “You should carry identification when you go outside the United Kingdom.” “I’ve no need to,” said I. “I’m well known.” What was I taking out with me? After a while, seeing that I took out a chequebook with my pocketbook and did not seem perturbed or excited he fell to calling me “Sir”. Finally, he said, “Well, I’m glad to have made your acquaintance.” I informed him that I regretted that I could not reciprocate but was prepared to wish him goodnight. “Well, you’ll need the good night,” said he, It’s very rough out there.” “I hope,” I rejoined, “that it will not prove as rough out there as it seems to be in Holyhead.” And we parted – myself running over in my mind a complaint to the Chief Constable. The policeman, whose identity I demanded, was named E.A. Lewis.
January 11 Friday: I reached Dun Laoire none the worse for the exceptionally rough crossing. I found the children at home, their school having closed for a week because of the oil shortage. Little Killian is now five and a half and the most lively, sophisticated little child. Egon has developed into quite a manly open lad. Finula has problems; I think partly she begins to think of the opposite sex, and also that she has realised the social disadvantages of being a girl, and it is a pity too, for she has plenty of ability which should not be brought up against an artificial barrier. I played a game of chess with Conor and he has improved. He seems the most collected of them, small, quiet, even slightly calculating, with a cold intellect and not much romantic nonsense. I rang Tony Coughlan and we had lunch together in town. I went to the Museum to look at the Plough and the Stars again, as Kelly Karlson has written from Denmark talking about a “sword in the plough”. This is a highly stylised coulter not present in the sketch. I went to see MacLaughlin in the National Library. He did not pay much attention, “saving your presence”, to the theory that the flag represented Labour’s “Ireland her own from the sod to the sky”. All agreed that Oliver Snoddy is our man [Oliver Snoddy (O Snodaigh) Irish language publisher, worked in the National Museum]. But he is ill having had gallstones extracted a month ago. I rang him up and arranged to see him on Monday. Micheál O Loingsigh came in the evening.
January 12 Saturday: They have all been making New Year resolutions – which I think daft as it is open to them to improve their ways on any of the 365 days of the year. Cathal is going to have fewer late nights and more exercise – and certainly he is substantially stouter than I ever saw him before. And Tony decided to do more work and go to fewer parties. There was therefore some doubt of his attending Dalton Kelly’s party tonight, but he did. One might almost say that everybody that was “anybody” was there” Cathal and Helga, Sean Redmond and Susan, Kader Asmal, Tony Coughlan, the young president of TCD Historical Society called James Connolly, and many people I did not know.
I thought Sean Redmond somewhat subdued but he talked good sense as ever. He thought the Wolfe Tone Society people had the best grasp of things and objected to Carmody’s attack on Jack Bennett in the Socialist Review [organ of the CPI]. He said that Carmody is deteriorating and drinking far too much. He is not doing much in politics, but in time will do something.
January 13 Sunday: There was a violent gale last night reported to be the worst since 1905 or thereabouts. But the morning was fine and Cathal and Tony Coughlan and I went to see if we could find Maire Comerford at home. She was not. And a wall of cloud swept across from the West and we were lucky to escape being drenched.
When Tony C. had gone home, Maire Comerford telephoned. She had been on a demonstration, but the demonstrators had not come home with her as she had expected. She invited us out and Cathal drove me (and Helga) there. She is in good health but says her ability in writing is declining. Her manuscript is now in the keeping of Dudley Edwards (Senior). She told me about Schweppe, who knew O’Casey well at the time he was down and out.
January 14 Monday: I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and George Gilmore, who rode into town on his motor bicycle. He was knocked down by a motorist a year or two ago and his leg was broken. But he still rides. He was late because of the strong winds still blowing on the coast. He told me of coming to London years ago to talk to some Indians. Charlie Donnelly was the other speaker. Donnelly was an ultra-leftist whose hero was Trotsky. He was a great student of military tactics and Liddell Hart wanted him on his staff [BH Liddell Hart, British military historian]. He was incredibly doctrinaire and leftist, but honest and brave and for this reason went to Spain. His brother seems to have given up his effort at commemoration from dislike of his politics. On this occasion in London Donnelly warned the Indians that it was not wise to have the British Army withdrawn until it was certain that India would have a socialist government.
After lunch I went out to Sandymount to see Oliver Snoddy. He looked well enough and was able to give some information about the flag. He has tried to trace Megahy, but after tracing him to Sligo in the thirties he was unable to discover anything more. That the flag did not follow the sketch supplied by O’Casey was certain. We fell to discussing things and people more generally. Snoddy had wanted to do an MA or doctoral thesis on WP Ryan, who greatly interests him. It seems that Desmond Ryan’s wife hated the father and the manuscript of an uncompleted biography had to be deposited in a bank vault lest she should get her hands on it and destroy it. Snoddy discussed the thesis with Ryan, who agreed to help him and promised to suggest the project to the university. The answer (I take it from Tierney) [Professor Michael Tierney, President of UCD, had been a conservative Cumann na nGaeler] was such that Ryan warned Snoddy on no account to touch it. Tierney even went the length of asking Bulmer Hobson to refuse Snoddy access to his papers. But this I found strange since they were in the National Library and I believe I was myself the first person to utilise them, unless Snoddy saw them before this. I omitted to ask for an explanation of this point.
January 15 Tuesday: In the morning I went into the Museum to examine some letters of O’Casey’s which were supposed to be there. But Teehan was out sick and the young assistant, St.John, told me (and showed me the place) they were missing. He thought Oliver Snoddy might have put them somewhere. I went into the Library and ordered microfilm. Maire Comerford rang giving Schweppe’s telephone number.
January 16 Wednesday: Another very stormy day. I saw Schweppe in the afternoon and found his information very useful, though it seems his mother had given it to Krause already [David Krause, American compiler of the collected letters of Sean O’Casey]. But Heaven knows when his book will see the light of day. In the evening Roy Johnston came in for awhile.
January 17 Thursday: I had intended to return last night, but decided it was too stormy. I had lunch with Dalton Kelly. In casual conversation I had mentioned Daisy McMackin. Apparently she taught him Russian. And she is still alive and still in Grafton Street. So I went up there for the sake of Auld Lang Syne. I saw her last when I came over with Jimmy Shields in, I suppose, 1949. He was addressing an Irish Workers League school. I think he stayed with her. She was engaged to be married to Breslin, who started a YCL l in the early twenties but settled in Russia. I fear he fell foul of the authorities at some point and she was left without information year after year. And though he was dead, she did not know and never married anybody else. I found her very old and frail. She has retired from TCD, is nearly blind, walks with a stick but was intelligent and cheerful as only women can be when they get old. I am not sure of what happened to Breslin, for I also heard that he was killed in an air raid on Leningrad. It must be over 20 years since I called up to see Daisy McMackin and could not find the flat and presumed she had moved.
I called into the bookshop [ie. the CPI bookshop at 16 Pearse Street] and found Stephen Mooney in charge. He seems to have improved. He told me Sean Nolan was in the Meath Hospital, so I took a walk up there. He seemed well enough but he had been very unwell – heart trouble and blood pressure. His political observations were as shrewd as ever. Once again I decided to defer departure.
January 18 Friday: Although it was blowing great guns I decided I must go. But when I got to Dun Laoire on a train that came from Cork and was an hour and more late, I found no boat but a wretched car ferry on which I declined to travel. So I went back to Cathal’s.
January 19 Saturday: I had lunch in town with Cathal and Tony Coughlan. They have been quite extraordinary helpful, Cathal insisting on driving me down despite the petrol difficulties. I caught the 2.30 to Belfast and found John McClelland waiting for me at the station. Outside in the car were Margaret, Carol and little Barry, a lovely lively little child, now aged six. We drove first to a circus where Margaret was taking the children. Then John McClelland drove me outside town beyond Glengormley to a public house. It was surrounded by a high steel fence and a burly individual with a torch scrutinised everybody who came, allowing them to pass in if he felt confident about them. It was like going for a drink in Long Kesh. The city is badly battered – worse than ever. Yet people seem to have adapted themselves to it all. John McClelland told me that NICRA is now very weak and no funds are coming from the USA. He disagrees with the general attack on Jack Bennett. The dominant personality in the Communist Party now is Andy Barr, he says. Hughie Moore has little present influence and Jimmy Stewart to a degree reflects Andy Barr. The Trade Union people wash their hands of the sectarian persecution of Catholics or deplore it in general while disregarding it in particular. Like Sean Nolan he thinks Faulkner [ie. Brian Faulkner, Northern Unionist leader] will stabilise himself as there is nobody with ability among the others. Like Sean Nolan also he thinks the “Provisionals” have no policy but keep up the bombing in hope of negotiating a truce, while the “Officials” have fallen between two stools. He thinks that the great song and dance made by NICRA about the police raid was “crying more than they were hurt”.
We picked up the others and brought them to the Liverpool boat. The main spectators at the circus were children from institutions, still called “Homes” here. One little fellow asked Carol, “Will you be my mummy?” “There’s mine over there,” says Carol, who is only 14 but looks 16. “Take me back with you,” says the child to Margaret McClelland, “and then I won’t have to go back to the Baby Home.” He was a lovely little fellow, said Margaret, “so intelligent. I’d love to have put him under my coat.” I asked what they thought of extra-mural adoption. She was in favour of it, but as this was a Catholic Home obviously it could not be done easily in Belfast.
While we were having a last drink two youngsters appeared, in their late teens. One was in the usual jeans, the other wore an attire I have never seen before. Above there was a fairly short jacket. Below he wore very long short pants made of heavy navy-blue serge. These came a good five inches below the knee, about halfway down the calf – and disclosed white stockings. I asked what this signified. I was told by John McClelland that it was quite the thing for the youngsters to strut about in this as if it was the panoply of prince’s. It had first been taken up by the so-called “tartan” gangs, but I understood him to say it was now common on the Falls Rd. He thought it was to be found everywhere, but Margaret McClelland said she understood it to be peculiar to Belfast, as it seems to be. What does it mean? It means that the uniqueness of Belfast has expressed itself in a local costume, not taken from international companies but apparently tailored in the city. And those who wear it must likewise feel totally apart. Now can we expect, as the “gleichschaltung” of the Six Counties proceeds, that the political uniqueness will decay and the sartorial uniqueness replace it?
Two other things. First signs of dissatisfaction with his move to Belfast on the part of John McClelland. As Margaret was bewailing the fact that she was not coming back to Liverpool, he remarked casually to me so as not to be taken too seriously, “What did I come back for?” In Dublin they said he was very disillusioned and pessimistic. The other apropos of the train journey. Soldiers came on at Tanderagee. They walked up the down the corridors with rifles which they had scarcely the room to swing round if anybody attacked them. They inspected passengers’ luggage. In contrast to the big overbearing policeman at Holyhead, the young private, a working-class lad, was friendly and polite. Admittedly, an elderly gentleman reading the Manchester Guardian is not an obvious target. He apologised for wishing to look at the luggage and said he would not disturb it. At the end he saw newspapers in one packet. “What’s that?” he asks, “only comics I suppose.” His education was thus such that the only papers he could conceive of were comics. Now imagine this lad faced with the sort of decision a senior policeman would have to take. How could you expect him to control himself?
January 20 Sunday: I found awaiting me at 124 Mount Road a letter from. Enid Greaves, thanking me for agreeing to give the letters from Mary Greaves’s cousin John Greaves to a museum in Utah or Idaho. At first I had hesitated. But I would have to leave them to some institution here otherwise, and institutions here have not given me any cause for gratitude. But apart from that she says she is going into hospital. I think it is gallstones. And she has had hepatitis and viral pneumonia. She seems to be cheerful enough. I wrote back an optimistic letter, and of course it was impossible to judge the degree of seriousness of her complaint. I asked to be kept informed. She says the weather has been appalling in Cornwall and the river is flowing down the lane by her farm.
Later Sean Kenny rang. Mark Clinton has not returned to Birmingham. He is still in Cavan and has presumably thrown up his teaching post in utter disillusionment. He had expressed this to me when I was with him last and talked of looking for work in a factory. He had been given a class of fifteen- year-olds who did not want to be at school. By Christmas he had not found out any of their names. They refused to tell. Kenny thought he might be back in a week’s time, as when he rang Cavan he was given the opinion that Mark Clinton would stay there for six weeks.
January 21 Monday: I took the 10.40 train to London. There I found a letter from Tom Mitchell saying that Betty Sinclair had wired Slessor cancelling the delegation on account of the Trade’s Council’s offices having no roof. It was damaged last year in an explosion and is now due for repairs. I telephoned him and learned that he had told the delegates and that there had been no notice sent out from the meeting in Luton due tonight. I said I understood Tony Donaghey had sent them out. He rang Harbottle, who said he had received nothing. I tried to get Tony Donaghey on the phone but could not do so.
Now I was in a dilemma. I hate formal clothes and had come to London in a sports jacket and flannels. But I had forgotten having to go to the House of Commons tomorrow. I had no other clothes in London that could serve the occasion. So I must stomach the expense and tear back to Liverpool. I the more readily inclined to letting the Luton meeting go since I could then take to 6.30 instead of the 12.20 train. In other circumstances I would have gone to Luton even if it were improbable that anybody would arrive. So accordingly I returned.
January 22 Tuesday (London): I returned to London on the 10.40. I discussed the Conference of 10 February with Tom Mitchell. It was agreed that we would try to hold it. He would call a meeting next Monday. I would make contact with Betty Sinclair and see if she could take them later. There was a letter from her which explained the impossible situation. She is working from home and has no telephone.
The letter referred to an invitation which I found later. It asked me to give a lecture on James Connolly at the May meeting of the Belfast Trades Council. I had already asked Stella Bond to write conveying my acceptance. At about 5 pm. I got to the House of Commons and found Elsie O’Dowling there. Others came in over the next few hours – Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham and Ann Doherty who is now in Reading. Barry Riordan and Considine came from Oxford and Tony Donaghey, who was unable himself to go to Luton on Monday but swore that everybody had been informed. So there is a fine mess. He said he had gone to great lengths to urge Michael Hawes to go. Indeed he was not too pleased.
I called out Jock Stallard and had a long talk with him. He was not hopeful of retaining his seat. So many fringe candidates were going up against him and his constituency had been redrawn to Lena Jeger’s advantage. It is tragic that Gordon McLennan insists on opposing him. He had been to Armagh and Long Kesh. He thought the conditions in both places palatial compared with British prisons. He went into one compound of Long Kesh. There he saw “Gusty Spence” (who I am fairly sure is the man who sent the threatening letter to Tom Redmond in Manchester years ago), with about a dozen others. There were books, gramophone records, a kit of handyman’s tools and completely free association. After shaking hands with him, Spence stood up straight: “Belfast No.5 Company of the Ulster Volunteers – SHOW!” He said some such words, the main thing being the “SHOW”, bellowed at the end. They all stood to attention. “This is a Mr A.W. Stallard of the Westminster Parliament who wishes to ask you some questions. You will answer his questions properly.” Stallard said some of these men had been convicted of foul murders but were treated as political prisoners and, among other privileges, had that of having Mr Augustus Spence lording it over them. I gathered that a similar position existed among the Republican prisoners.
Now Stallard compares this with the treatment to which the London car- bomb prisoners were subjected. He is waging a campaign to have them returned to the Six Counties. As a result of the lobby ten MPs undertook to inquire into the harassment of NICRA, and nine to urge the transfer to the Six Counties. They were mostly our old friends, Sid Bidwell, Eric Heffer, Tom Cox, Norman Atkinson, Molloy, Welbeloved etc. Wellbeloved was the only one who hesitated about the hunger strikers.
But there was another thing. Chris Maguire, now tied up with Jacqueline Kayes’s Prisoners’ Committee, was present with Mairin. He had been in the office looking up old Democrats of his Nottingham days when we were campaigning for the release of the 1956-61 internees. She is also on the “Provisional” Political Hostages Committee. According to Charlie Cunningham Miss Kayes is quite a decent woman but may belong to the IS [ie. the International Socialists]. This however is doubtful as she seems completely devoted to the one task. Another individual there was the crazy O’Leary, equipped with a small moustache, who was in the ructions in the Connolly Association in 1959 and is probably with the International Marxists – or somebody. Why are these people coming the to the Parliament they don’t believe in? I suspect the interest is in ourselves.
January 23rd Wednesday: I was busy on the paper. In the evening Councillor Brian Loughran addressed the Central London branch. Charlie Cunningham thought he had deteriorated and was becoming involved in head-counting, vote-catching and intrigue. But he does not think his aim is a seat in Parliament. We shall see. Tim Sheehan, a solid old countryman, a friend but not an uncritical friend of Joe O’Connor’s, was there. He was shocked at O’Connor’s death but agreed that he had been showing signs of ailing for a time previous to it. I had lunch with Raymond Crotty [Irish economist and leading campaigner against the EEC with Anthony Coughlan in Ireland’s May 1972 Accession Treaty referendum].
January 24 Thursday: Although I had much to do on the paper I wired Betty Sinclair and she telephoned me. At first she thought it was best to transfer the delegation to NICRA, but I objected. That was not what the Trades Councils had been given to understand. So I suggested asking John McClelland if we could use his place as a centre.
But John McCelland is no longer with us. He’s not on the Belfast Committee of NICRA anymore, and he’s resigned from West Belfast.”
“You amaze me,” I replied.
“I thought you didn’t know about it.”
I then recollected that John McClelland had avoided discussing these organisations and that a faint surprise had crossed my mind. However, since I didn’t know and he didn’t know I now knew, I telephoned him. He agreed to accommodate the delegates if they would leave their arrival till Friday and he would meet them at the boat. I returned to Betty Sinclair and she agreed to go to John McClelland’s and take them from there. It should be possible to get a car. I tried to angle for information about John McClelland.
“Did he have a row with somebody?”
“Yes,” was all I got. I urged her to try to keep him in the organisation. But of course it was romantic nonsense to go back to Belfast, which Bobby Heatley, the most cynical and intelligent of them, was the first to realise, and perhaps Joe Deighan will yet mature when a little more skin has rubbed off from his nose on the pharmaceutical grindstone.
January 25 Friday: I telephoned Mitchell with the news. He was delighted and I could then return with a confirmation to John McClelland. At lunchtime Edwina Stewart rang, but I was out. I spoke to Madge Davison and made arrangements for her visit. But these Belfast people are cattish creatures. I remarked that we ought to get some publicity for her at the Saint Patrick’s Night social. “Oh take care. I’m in danger of my life. You know what it’s like to be a renegade Protestant.” I quite understand,” I replied, assuring her that we were not likely to get her television appearances. “I would feel the same way myself.” Then came the veiled insult. “I know that. We don’t see much of you here.” I said nothing. I have gone whenever I have been invited and sometimes when I thought I might have been invited, no invitation has come. You cannot systematically freeze somebody out and then complain that he does not come in!
Later Edwina Stewart rang again. She wanted the results of the lobby, which I gave her. She too could not resist a few felinities. The gentle art of making enemies has, of course, been highly developed in the Six Counties and the practise of it must become a habit.
I telephoned Sean Kenny who told me that Mark Clinton had still not appeared. I remarked that he had done this disappearing trick before. Like many a countryman he was not highly organised. “Always leaves everything to the last minute,” says Kenny. “You get a notice on Thursday for a meeting on Friday”, and so on. We sent Sean Kenny the addresses early in the week and he undertook to call the next meeting. He has been having a dispute with Frank Watters, who wants to run a candidate against a left-winger, Carter, who is popular, and Kenny is afraid the proposal will be unpopular in the factories. “They talk about left unity,” says Kenny, “but they don’t practise it. Why don’t they go up against Jenkins?”[ie. leading Labour MP Roy Jenkins] Indeed Carter, says Kenny, is the only decent Birmingham MP.
I also spoke to Jock Stallard on the phone. He has put down several questions on the subject of the girls on hunger strike and one has been put down, he is not sure whether by Tom Cox or some other, on the harassment of NICRA. Regarding this, however, Edwina Stewart admitted to me that they were crying more than they were hurt. But that is sensible enough if they want to stop the thing in his tracks.
January 26 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning, having the paper sent off yesterday. I wrote to Tony Coughlan regarding Raymond Crotty. I had the impression that he was sadly disappointed by the failure of his campaign against the EEC. He had become very bitter against Ireland but was delighted if ever I praised anything. He seems simply to wish to have a quiet life and pursue his researches. Of Tony Coughlan he expressed the opinion that he was somewhat naïve. And of course he has not Cathal’s shrewdness. He has lived a comfortable life and trouble has scarcely knocked at the door. What does he need shrewdness for? But I thought perhaps Crotty might find a post in one of the new universities where Departments of Irish Affairs are being established.
The usual people came into the office – Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate. She had slipped in Kilburn and this time broken her arm – a hair crack which the doctors say will set itself right. I was with Charlie Cunningham in Hammersmith.
January 27 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning. The last thing I had said to Jane Tate when she left yesterday was, “Well be careful now. The third time does it; next time you’ll crack your head!” She was late this morning and, incredible as it might seem, telephoned to say she had fallen again, badly sprained her other wrist, and hit her head. This time there was no tripping and she fears she may have suffered a “blackout”. Another absentee was Charlie Cunningham. I had not meant to record any of this but will do so. He is so lax in payment for his papers that he owes the largest debt ever contracted by a seller, over £150, and it has not been through lack of reminding him. On Wednesday Stella Bond left him a note, but he totally disregarded it. I guess he might have been ashamed to come in. We decided to ask Toni Curran to write to him and to request the Central London Branch to collect all paper money each week.
I went out in Hammersmith with Pat O’Donohue, who has greatly developed under Toni Curran’s tutelage. He told me he blamed Sean Redmond for letting the Central Branch fall into the doldrums, and of course Charlie Cunningham is not capable of raising it and moving it. Of Charlie Pat O’Donohue says having his debt to the Irish Democrat hanging over him. must act depressively on all his work. There were two rival demonstrations today. Clann na hEireann had invited us to attend, and though I thought there would be no harm in it, Charlie Cunningham felt it would be to choose between “Officials” and “Provisionals”. But we can’t do nothing just because the others are split. I saw Landy at King’s Cross and he said he had taken part in neither and had merely gone to sell papers.
January 28 Monday: I was in Ripley during the day and in the evening went out to Luton. Tom Mitchell had booked a room in the Technical College. When I arrived there, having left the Derby train at Luton, I found Tony Donaghey waiting. We were meeting in Room 453 or some such number. He told me the room was so difficult to find that he had come to show me the way. But he also was unable to find it. We wandered around for 20 minutes. When we found the room there was Slessor, sitting on the table as if to get away as quickly as he could, and two youngsters I took to be students. Who were they? They were “representatives of the general public come to listen in”. Somebody had sent them, or given them, an invitation. I guessed why later. I got Slessor to sit down and ran through things. Tony Donaghey reported that not a single application had been made. As we knew Tom Mitchell, instead of sending out the invitations in a professional manner, gave this man a few to send, and another a few, and finding nothing much done afterwards – the Jack Woddis method. After wandering half an hour round corridors Michael Hawes found us. He is the soundest of them. He ran Tony Donaghey and me to the station. “They’ve made a mess of it,” he declared, and promised to see Tom Mitchell tomorrow. It seems that two students were sent by one of the lecturers who wanted to persuade them to join the party. And it was he who booked the room which need not be paid far. And Mitchell succumbs to this amateur nonsense! However, apart from the attendance all seems set.
January 29 Tuesday: I wrote a long letter to Tom Mitchell whom I could not get on the telephone despite trying all day. Difficulties pour in these days. Mick McGahey has made some fool statement about appealing to troops in the event of their use on the miners’ dispute and everybody is trying to represent this decent, kindly but slightly intemperate young fellow as a devil from hell. Charlie Cunningham came in for a few minutes. He had had a filthy cold and had spent Sunday and Monday in bed. He looks unwell. Jim Kelly came in later. It was remarkable how much less inhibited he was on Sunday when Charlie was absent. But his touch of cynicism is still there though he is nearly 27. There is some mellowing, but not enough to make for able leadership.
January 30 Wednesday: A letter arrived from Seifert telling us that the action we took on his advice regarding Akram, in effect excluding him for non- payment of rent, was wrong. He seems to have the idea that Akram has taken himself off. Of course the whole thing is due to Seifert’s endless procrastination. He has put down all the wrong things and issued a summons. Toni Curran will go to see him on Friday at 2.30. I have to be here at 3 pm. so that the repairers can be here to take the duplicator away.
In the evening Jim Kelly giving the report of the Standing Committee persuaded the branch that all money for Irish Democrats should be paid in at the branch meeting. But unfortunately Toni Curran’s letter to Charlie Cunningham was sent only today. I urged him to get next week’s circular done tonight but he brushed it aside. The Central London Branch meetings have become Japanese torture. Tonight Pat Bond was the speaker. He is able enough but wooden. Pegeen O’Flaherty in the chair is charming but nothing else. Charlie Cunningham addresses the speaker directly as if she was not there. And as for the rest they are, to put it mildly, not very inspiring. When we wanted to have a drink afterwards, Pegeen O’Flaherty drew Chris Sullivan away. “Oh, I’ll have one only,” said Chris, but she had him away. “There’s the boss,” said Jim Kelly. “It’s amazing how the men give in so easily,” said Mabel Donovan. Now usually we split up. But Charlie Cunningham started buying drinks for four. Tony Donaghey rang and said he could not get Tom Mitchell. Indeed he has been addressing meetings in Lancashire.
I finalised the visit of Madge Davison who is to do a week’s tour on the subject of civil rights.
January 31 Thursday: Another day of toil and trouble. Charlie Cunningham was to have come in. He may be ill again. But also he may be “scundered” by the pressure being exerted on him. The Japanese Tanaka called and I arranged to take him to Liverpool on Saturday and set him on board ship [ie. for a visit to Belfast]. John McClelland will meet him at the other end. Incidentally, I spoke to Dorothy Deighan [wife of Joe Deighan in Belfast] a few days ago and she says that the trouble with John McClelland is disillusionment with the Civil Rights movement. I asked if Bobby Heatley was a good influence and she replied, “No”. Madge Davison said something about a question being asked about the NICRA raid by a Liberal MP. But I cannot find a trace of it in Hansard. And the press report in the Irish News is vague in the extreme. I asked Jack Bennett to find out the facts at his end. I arranged with Lenny Draper who had five at his meeting tonight to hold a public meeting on March 21st.
Now, when Charlie Cunningham did not show up, I grew concerned about the branch circular and rang Pegeen O’Flaherty who is on the committee. Neither she nor Chris Sullivan knew who was booked to speak, and indeed she thought Charlie Cunningham had got nobody. It is illustrative of his inability to face issues that he did not tell me this, but sniffed and turned his mind off it. So I asked Pegeen O’Flaherty point blank what was the matter. “We are all totally demoralised,” she said, “including myself.” She explained that only Chris Sullivan kept her at it at all. I’ve been through much worse,” says he. She said that Sean Redmond was the beginning of all the trouble. He “hogged everything” to himself. He was honest, truthful, able, fairly energetic, with much similarity to the English for they have all these qualities, but no charm. His patronising attitude to Charlie Cunningham and others was marked, and now Charlie adopts a similar attitude to herself, with much less justification. But she was of the opinion that Charlie got himself into a total mess. He told her that he was expecting a £100 bonus at Christmas but that he needed it, being £50 in arrears with his rent which, she says, is only £2 or £3 a week. Now there is some mystery here. I wonder if it is days off work or if there is some problem more serious which his massive activity in political work is a means of pushing into the background. She will propose a special branch committee, which I will attend. I rang Tom Mitchell but he was in his bath.
February 1 Friday: I was in the office all day. I made contact with Tom Mitchell, who seems to be notifying all his own members, but though he is doing his best, the lack of preparatory work shows up. He blames Slessor and others but there is also a weakness in his method of procedure. It is too narrowly based. Brian Crowley was in and expressed dissatisfaction that Gordon McLennan was opposing Stallard who had declined to sign the motion condemning McGahey, whereas O’Halloran had signed it.
There was no sign of Charlie Cunningham. And he was not at the presentation to Bob Fairley, which took place in Stoke Newington. I went there myself and Chris Sullivan was there – also Kay Beauchamp, who lives in that district now. Peter Mallon and his wife were there, George Anthony, Les Ambrose and a number of “typical trade unionists” with years and years of working life drawn on their countenances, so that I wished I was an artist.
February 2 Saturday (Liverpool): Again, there was no sign of Charlie Cunningham. Hughie White came in with his car and he drove me to his house where we expected to find him. But there was no answer. Alf Kearney had told Brian Crowley on the telephone that Charlie had rung him up and told him he was too unwell to go out. I think that there may be a psychological factor in all this. Charlie Cunningham is not having an easy time. His father, in Spain, has become totally senile and thinks he is in Bray. His mother is not well. He has to leave his flat because of “redevelopment” and he has got into a mess about money. I think his constant feverish activity is a defence against thinking.
There is a Central London Branch committee on Monday night. I think he will not be there. But here is a strange thing. At last Sunday’s Standing Committee, which Charlie Cunningham did not attend, Jim Kelly for the first time made constructive suggestions. Suspecting today that he may not see Charlie Cunningham for a while, he blossomed out, prescribed all manner of remedies for our problems and showed a willingness to do something more himself. It may be said that though he is the soul of reliability in all he undertakes, he undertakes no responsibilities of leadership. Several of them deplored to me that there should be this rivalry between the two of them.
Today Hughie White was at me over Gordon McLennan’s opposing Stallard. I simply said I hoped they would reconsider it nearer the time. I could not pretend to approve. About Bob Fairley, by the way, his father was a teacher and secretary of the INTO in Dromore, County Down. He has thus been in the movement all his life.
I met Tanaka at Euston, having arranged for John McClelland to meet him tomorrow [ie.in Belfast]. I put my rucksack (full of books) in a corner where I could see it from two places. A porter hurried up to me saying that it was making people nervous. However, I reassured him. Tanaka, by the way, is a dentist and expert in photochemistry. He would like to settle here if you could find a job teaching. We had a drink in the Strand Hotel and I saw him on to the boat.
February 3 Sunday: I did not rise early today and felt the better for the rest. Of course if I did not sit up reading half the night I would not need to recuperate. But there you are. I do not burn the candle at both ends. It was a resplendently fine day. This is said to be the mildest winter since 1932, which I remember well. There was no snow until May, when a blinding storm was followed by intense heat, quite a remarkable manifestation. All the red cabbages are sprouting. The kohlrabi is pushing up healthy inflorescence. I must get the artichokes up or they’ll be uneatable.
February 4 Monday: It poured rain in the morning. I was going to buy timber in the afternoon when a policeman passing the bus stop on a bicycle said that the bus men had gone on strike. There is a sharpening division between working class and middle class. I went into the paper shop for the Financial Times. An elderly man, from Bedford Drive I imagine, looked at the papers. “The sooner the military take over this country the better,” he said, with marked disgust. I don’t know what had affected him – the prospective coal strike or the highway madness on the M62.
I spoke to Stella Bond in the morning. But in the evening the phone buzzed four times. First it was Lenny Draper. He was gloomy. He could find neither a branch room nor a room for a larger meeting. I suggested “The Mitre” for the larger meeting and he said he would try it. Nobody wants Irishmen on their premises. And the Town Hall is closed because of power restrictions. How they hate to have people meeting to discuss their own affairs. Any excuse will do. I heard on the radio that bingo halls were being kept open because having people under one roof instead of at home resulted in a saving of electricity. But apparently there is no saving in an Irish meeting! Then Toni Curran rang. She said that Pegeen O’Flaherty had rung in a state of even worse demoralisation. Nobody had come to the Branch Committee meeting and she asked Toni Curran to speak on Wednesday. As Toni had nothing ready I suggested Gerry Curran and that a special Branch Committee should be called on Saturday. Then Tanaka rang. He was back in London and will call on Friday. I spoke to Jane Tate who was in the office with Jim Kelly clearing out old files. Finally Jack Woddis rang about the arrangements for Madge Davison’s visit.
I did not record the latest development in the Ankram case. Toni Curran and I discussed the letter from Seifert and we felt disinclined to charge like bulls into a law-suit. Toni said she knew many Pakistanis in Ealing and it was a characteristic of them that they delighted in litigation. There were never more happy than when they were addressing the bench and whether they won or lost was a matter of complete indifference to them. But when Toni saw Seifert, he told her the letter that had set the cat among the pigeons on Wednesday had been written by a very junior female clerk who knew nothing about it. His opinion was that Akram hadn’t a leg to stand on, and Seifert and his wife were coming to our St Patrick’s Day social.
February 5 Tuesday: I went down to the “do it yourself” shop and bought the quadrants that I wanted and started constructing the shelves.
February 6 Wednesday: Again I spent the greater part of the day on the shelves. I do not find it easy to start writing, but the O’Casey book is beginning to exercise my mind and I think that I have the plan of it and know its central theme.
February 7 Thursday: The shelves are now painted, so that is well. They are the most extensive I have constructed at once and should house up to 750 books. After the election was announced Brian Stowell rang. He will try to arrange a meeting in March.
February 8 Friday (London): I went to London. In the afternoon Tanaka came in. He flies back to Japan on Monday. He was glad to be out of Belfast. Then I went to the International Affairs Committee. Chris Myant was speaking on Northern Ireland, which he visited in November.
He had written his talk out in full and professed to find the subject difficult. But to give credit where it is due, it was not bad. Asked for my opinion I said it coincided with his and it struck me that possibly he has learned. I saw an opportunity of improving relations and invited him for a drink with Kay Beauchamp and the young student, whose name is, I think, Ashford, from Sheffield. He has grown his hair long to be in fashion and as often as not it trails in his beer. When we were alone a minute Kay Beauchamp asked if I often saw Myant.
“I never spoke to him until tonight.”
“Dear me, don’t you ever see him?”
“He never yet came into the office.”
“Well, I thought he’d be in and out all the time.”
However during the course of the evening I thought that though he has no small amour propre and a touch of journalists’ cynicism, he is quite intelligent and I would judge honest enough too. When I got back to the office Charlie Cunningham was there. I learned from Jim Kelly that he had paid £50. He did not look well.
February 9 Saturday: The Branch Committee was held in the afternoon, with Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Chris Sullivan, Brian Crowley, Maloney and one or two more. I invited them all to state their views on the way the branch was working, and two trends appeared: The Charlie Cunningham-Maloney trend, which was for retreat (hold less frequent branch meetings, listen to the criticisms of other organisations and adapt to them) and the Jim Kelly-Chris Sullivan trend, which was for retrieval. Fortunately the majority supported the second and I think there is a feeling of weakness arising from Sean Redmond’s departure, but that there is a basis to build on. I was out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran who told me why Brian Crowley had declared that never again would he organise a social. Apparently the Christmas party was a flop. It was not held in a room that was booked, but in the bar. This was Brian Crowley’s own proposal, which the others foolishly endorsed. Bridget of South London got drunk and shouted, “Up the Provos.” English people objected. Her ladyship then proceeded to pour beer on them and it was with difficulty that ructions were avoided. Pat Bond has pro-Provisional elements in his branch and Gerry Curran thinks his natural romanticism prevents him from discouraging their sentiments even though he does not share them.
February 10 Sunday: We held a useful Standing Committee in the morning, deciding on a number of steps in relation to the election. Once again Jim Kelly showed more maturity, though it could not be said he showed tact as well. A man called Flynn had failed to turn out after volunteering.
“Right,” says Jim Kelly, “We know him. That’s a black mark against his name.” All kinds of possible excuses were suggested, but he would have none of them.
In the afternoon Hughie White came and Charlie Cunningham deciding to come as well, the three of us were driven to Luton in Hughie White’s car. What a day! A gale was blowing and the water was several inches thick wherever the road was level. We stopped at a very good Chinese restaurant at Barnet, where the younger of two Chinese children entered into relations with all the diners and had everybody delighted. Hughie White was fascinated by them and there can be little wrong with somebody who likes small children. When I first met him I thought he was a nervous person, and indeed this is true, and a little anticlerical too, but he too is I think learning.
We were delayed by the dreadful weather and were late for the conference. I thought the general political standard poor in comparison with that at similar functions in London. There was a pervading amateurism. But one or two “Provisional” sympathisers expressed themselves highly grateful and Charlie Cunningham and Hughie White sold £8 worth of literature.
When we got back I went to Hammersmith to meet Pat O’Donohue. But we did not do well. I spoke to Sean Kenny in Birmingham and as Mark Clinton (who has returned) was at his house, I was able to speak to him too
February 11 Monday: I had a great deal to do in the office, Stella Bond and Bunting were there. He told me that there is such anti-communist feeling abroad that one woman tried to assault him as he tried to sell the Morning Star in Ealing. He had only two sales. I rang Gerry Cohen and found him in a very truculent mood, alarmed lest an Irish meeting at 4 pm. on a Sunday, would empty his committee rooms of helpers. Jack Woddis, whom I also spoke to, agreed with me. But as I think the communist vote will be low in London I do not want to provide a convenient scapegoat and have no great satisfaction in Cohen’s scrupulousness, in which of course I may do him an injustice.
I caught the Pullman. The conductor, a Liverpool man, said he was so disgusted with dictatorial Heath and tricky Wilson that he would vote Liberal. “It’s a voting election,” he declared finally. The woman dining at my table, whom I thought possibly a secretary – very smartly dressed, highly educated about 50, possibly in broadcasting as she spoke of being up all night on a special occasion – showed no sign of the hysterical conservativism the papers are trying to whip up. Atherton has it badly, but perhaps he is always like this. But Ashford, who called in for a minute or two to discuss the completion of a job, did not talk about politics.
February 12 Tuesday: In the evening Michael Crowe telephoned. He has arranged a meeting for Madge Davison in Newcastle but wondered how he is to get her back to Belfast when there is no air service. He wondered about Edinburgh or Manchester.
February 13 Wednesday: I spoke with Stella Bond. She tells me the tenants have given notice of their intention to quit. But apparently the Bulgarians want the room. But thus Akram is like Mahoment’s coffin! Ashford spent the day putting the lead lights to rights, but he contrived to crack a pane.
February 14 Thursday: I worked on additional bookshelves, but having a slight cold was not very energetic. I met Lenny Draper in the city and he told me about his problems and difficulties in Manchester. I must confess I was tempted to advise him to leave the place, where compensation is so signally lacking, for I found him dreaming of becoming a chemist, which I doubt if he would succeed at though he is interested in it, but rather I think from dislike of plumbing. I remember how Des Logan spent his life trying to acquire a qualification that was beyond him, and now is back at labouring, though he is at times descried with a woman hanging on his arm, something he tried but failed to win in his days of studentship. Lenny Draper complains that he gets no help from Hathersage Rd. [ie. from the Manchester CPGB]. But Belle Lalor seems to be helping him. We discussed the meetings of Madge Davison.
February 15 Friday: Ashford was here again and it was not possible for me to do much apart from pottering around. The mild weather continues but the ground is somewhat wet in the garden. Nevertheless, I cut the lilacs right back and have thus cleared a few square yards of land for use this summer.
February 16 Saturday: Ashford finished operations today and I in turn thinned the laburnum so that once more the lawn, or what is left of it, is cluttered with timber.
February 17 Sunday: I continued work on the bookshelves – for all in all I hope to accommodate something like 1100 extra books.
February 18 Monday: Only the Conservatives have sent any election literature, and it concentrates its attack on the Liberals. The candidate is John Pyke. I remember the family. His grandmother was Lillian Rushton, a woman of some musical attainment who used to go to concerts with AEG [ie. his mother]. He quotes Bert Ramelson’s alleged boast that what the CP says in February Labour says in November – but his other leaflet attacks the Liberals. There is no attempt at offering an alternative policy.
February 19 Tuesday: I had intended to go to London but still have a slight cold, so I remained here. Lenny Draper has at last got a room for the Madge Davison meeting.
February 20 Wednesday (London): I went to London on the afternoon train and addressed the branch meeting. The usual people were there, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate – whose arm is still in a sling – and this time Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue. Toni Curran is shortly to go into hospital on account of an infection of the middle ear that is making her deaf. I am told by Jim Kelly that Charlie Cunningham has paid up £50 pounds and is now paying in his sales money at the branch meetings. There was a somewhat better morale after the branch committee meeting and I could see that something was being done. I learned that Barry Riordan in Oxford had had trouble. The police had secured a warrant and searched his house for alleged arms.
February 21 Thursday: One thing after another. Though the Bulgarians would like to rent an office with us, we are not sure if enough of our lease remains to make it worth their while. And we are having to summon Akram. Toni Curran can get no sense out of Seifert, who is as dilatory as a lawyer can be, in this being only eclipsable by Con Lehane [ie.the Dublin solicitor]. Tony Donaghey came in and we made plans for Luton. And later there arrived Fiona [ie. Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards] and Chris Myant. He is a young man rather full of himself, but I could see was not averse to some guidance, which I provided. It seems Ian Mills of Clann na hEireann peppers him with press material. I think he would like to see himself part of a triumvirate on Irish affairs and wants to plan future actions with myself and Jack Woddis. That at any rate is far better than having him paddle his own canoe in telephonic communications with the world and his wife. It is good to have secured cordial relations here.
February 22 Friday: Myant came in again, this time seeing Brian Crowley and buying books. I wrote to Lenny Draper yesterday and he telephoned, seemingly in much better spirits. I spoke also to Sean Kenny, who felt uneasy about Mark Clinton, who had not turned up at a meeting at which Kenny extracted from Roy Jenkins a promise to consider transferring the wee girls from Brixton to Belfast. Apparently he has given up teaching and is working on a building job. I spoke to Michael Crowe, who says there is very little evidence of a London campaign in the Northeast, and he suspects they do not want to win [ie. the Labour Party]. I was in Paddington with Charlie Cunningham.
February 23 Saturday: I went to Oxford in the morning and Alf Ward met me at the station. We went into a public house where Barry Riordan shortly joined us. But one or two others had been frightened, and indeed Ward privately expressed the opinion that Barry Riordan had acted from panic. It seems police arrived while he was out and relying on a search warrant insisted on a search, frightened his wife and children, one of whom is “autistic”. When he heard of this he contacted not London, but Oxford NCCL, who found him a local solicitor. Only after this did he ring Pat Bond, who told him to go to the police with the solicitor and “make a dignified protest”. But instead he has spent the week declining their invitation to go and “account for his movements”. It is obvious that were a knowledge of his movements to the point they would make sure he made no more and have him in custody. So he has allowed them to play cat and mouse with him. I repeated Pat Bond’s advice to go with his solicitor, do whatever accounting is needed within reason, get the matter closed as soon as possible and see what basis there is for complaint, and if any, afterwards. So that was the afternoon gone.
In the evening Chris Sullivan and I went to Camden Town and whom should we see in the Hawley Arms but Stallard, who prompted brought us a Guinness apiece. The greater part of his communication consisted of reprobation against Gordon McLennan for going up against him when he had to contend with a Liberal and had lost 3000 votes to Lena Jeger in the redistribution. What could we say? That it was a palpable folly and I had tried to prevent it? That it was an action taken in a spirit of the doctrinaire? That Gordon McLennan was determined to go up? I particularly rebutted the slander that he wanted the Tory returned and advised him not to denounce, but speak “more in sorrow than an anger”. This would prevent the worst recriminations. But he complains that Gordon McLennan has taken rooms three doors away from the Labour officers and the loudspeaker blazes into them all day. He says a number of CP members are working for him but that even so, the spirit of cooperation between CP and Labour Party which he was cultivating has been destroyed. He says the decision was taken in Hampstead and, I suppose looking for somebody to blame, castigates the intellectuals of Haverstock Hill in general and Sam Aaronovitch in particular [Sam Aaronovitch, 1919-1998, British economist and CPGB activist]. He was grateful for the message of support sent him by the Central London Connolly Association but he is not sanguine of winning the seat. As we left Chris Sullivan said that he had had a dispute with his branch and asked, “What has happened to the party leadership?” I reassured him that mistakes did take place on this imperfect planet. But it struck me that there are many people whose errors would be fewer if only they were blessed with a sense of humour. But who can give it them?
February 24 Sunday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning. At last Mark Clinton telephoned. He said that he was daily expecting to return to Birmingham and never intended to be away so long. Lenny Draper telephoned, full of enthusiasm. He is acquiring a bicycle to enable him to visit people. In the afternoon we had the meeting in Hyde Park with Chris Sullivan, Pat Bond and Charlie Cunningham speaking apart from myself. Jacqueline Kaye and Ian Mills were all holding forth for Clann na hEireann. I returned to Liverpool on the 7.45 pm. train.
February 25 Monday: I found a letter from the Gas Board desiring access on March 11 and asked Jean Brown if she would be around. Apparently not. She has no gas in the house as they annoyed her so much that she had it taken out. They failed to remove the meter for eighteen months and came every three to read it – and did so. The incredible bureaucracies that control our lives! She told me that conversion to North Sea gas is taking place in the North End. “And they’re driving the poor people mad there” by not coming at the times they state, installing faulty equipment and displaying the usual incompetence of every authority but those concerned with taxation.
The weather is dry now but I do not seem to be getting much done. Because of the election campaign I spend too much time listening to the radio. I have rather a feeling like that of the summer of 1945 – then we realised that our world was gone, as our parents’ had gone in 1918, our children’s now. If the Conservatives win, they will move towards Fascism. If Labour wins, their failures will move Fascism against them. And will the democratic movement hold together? I did some work on the paper.
February 26 Tuesday: There are signs that Labour is advancing. I felt some relief, for a struggle on that basis is going to be better. In Woolworths in Grange Road the saleswoman talked about prices – children’s rubber knickers had gone up by 50% last week. This is very unlike London. People feel entitled to speak to each other. This arises from the homogeneity of the population. In the Co-Op a woman told me indignantly that the service was poor today because the assistants were mostly engaged in marking up the prices of all the items for sale. I worked more on the paper.
Toni Curran told me on the phone that we have three years more on our lease and should be able to get tenants. But she did not know the result of the Akram preliminaries. She goes into hospital tomorrow for an operation on the inner ear.
February 27 Wednesday: I did some work on the paper, but it is difficult to set the tone until the election is over.
February 28 Thursday (London): I went on a day trip and cast my vote for Lena Jeger, as she is against the EEC but she did little for us. Alf Kearney brought in what I thought was a damson, but it turned out to be a Victoria plum.
March 1 Friday (Liverpool): Of course the whole day was spent waiting for election results. Stallard is home and dry, which is the main thing. And on the whole the Labour Left have fared well enough.
March 2 Saturday: I went to Manchester and found Lenny Draper in a state of high enthusiasm. Seemingly my last talk with him cleared up a few uncertainties. He says Arnison’s deputation is going over and will spend three days with the Officials, Provisionals and Unionist Labour respectively. He still doesn’t know how it was arranged or sanctioned. Casson asked him why he was suddenly cold-shouldered. Lenny thinks it is the work of the “Officials” acting through NICRA. But it is hard to know. He has been calling on people and is making progress.
March 3 Sunday: I had difficulty in completing the paper without knowing what Government there is to be. Lenny Draper told me yesterday that there is fierce anger among ordinary working people in Salford at Heath’s attempts to keep Wilson out. But in the end I decided to concentrate the main lead on the Six Counties and arrange with Pat Bond to send a telegram to the seven Party leaders, and lobby on it later in the month.
March 4 Monday: I had hoped to be busy in the garden, but though there is no frost, and indeed this is the mildest winter ever, all in all to be compared with 1932, yet it is chilly and I have a slight cold. Mark Clinton telephoned. All is going well. Also with Lenny Draper.
March 5 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. The most political of the printers is Brian Reynolds, a strong Labour supporter, while Terry, who has the prospect of succeeding Melville as manager, has little interest. “Will there be another election soon?” he asked me. “We were discussing it during the tea breaks.” I said I thought the Liberals would not have the money to fight another and that this autumn would be the earliest. Pat Bond told me that Toni Curran is out of hospital.
March 6 Wednesday: The weather began to show signs of becoming milder, But then the heavens opened and I turned to putting up more bookshelves.
March 7 Thursday: I finished the extra bookshelves, barring the varnishing, and now that it was mild again tidied up the loganberries and cut some of the wood that blocks the drains after all the tree-thinning operations. There has been some attack on the tree onions and only one is left, and that looking sickly. Phyllis brought them from Ireland, or at least I think it was from there. She used to call it “wynwynyn dn diwy” [a top cultivated onion], So she might have acquired it when she was living in Caernarfon.
March 8 Friday: The cold, miserable weather is back again. Only one spring day. I did the varnishing of the shelves. In the evening I listened to Haydn’s “Creation” on the radio with CEG’s score. I know it fairly well and it is the most obvious that strikes repetitively. The “representation of chaos” could only be set in the minor mode, and the representation of light could only be a tonic chord in the major, root position. I found the change of key from D to C before the “Heavens are telling” not quite satisfactory to the ear. It was some bars before one was accustomed to the pitch. Why did Haydn not finish the part in D? Surely not to return to the C of the representation of light. For the sake of the chorus? Yet, strangely, I had never noticed this before, and may not next time.
March 9 Saturday (London): I went to London very much for a flying visit. The weather was chilly. This reminds me of the 1930s when mild winters were followed by this endless succession of cool damp days with east winds, the minute our minds had turned to approaching spring. There was a phone call from Lenny Draper. He had approached Parker and Tocher about having Madge Davison to speak to the Confederation. “We’re very worried about these police raids on Trade Unionists,” said they. “But good God!”, said Lenny Draper, “that was nothing to do with us! That was Arnison and Ben Ainley.” They agreed. So here we are. A bunch of arrogant exhibitionists disregard our advice, brush us out of the way, and then those who have foolishly heeded them and got their fingers burned while still following their nonsense and voting them money to carry on, round on us and visit us with the suspicion they should have adopted towards the others. Lenny Draper said they ultimately agreed to hear Madge Davison. But I advised him to give them an opportunity of withdrawing. Apparently Ainley’s twelve horsemen are over there now. I was out with Charlie Cunningham.
March 10 Sunday (Liverpool): We had the Standing Committee in the morning, with Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, but not Jane Tate who is away. The paper is losing £100 a month. We decided to raise the price to 10 p., abolish the support fund if possible and transfer it to the organiser’s fund with Lenny Draper in mind to be asked to undertake the job, though possibly Mark Clinton. Apparently we have collected £625 so far, but want £3000. I was out again with Charlie Cunningham but took the midnight train back to Liverpool.
March 11 Monday: My reason for returning was to be present when the Gas Board came to connect up North Sea gas to the house – something I regret.
March 12 Tuesday: The chilly weather continues, without frost but with occasional drizzling rain which makes working in the garden almost impossible.
March 13 Wednesday: I got little enough done today. The chilly weather continues and I am still waiting for those wretched North Sea gas conversion people to complete their work.
March 14 Thursday: It was a little warmer and I planted the Victorian plum tree which Alf Kearney gave me. Actually I wanted a damson but he could not get one. In the afternoon Finbar O’Doherty, the wild man from Derry, rang up. To my intense annoyance Madge Davison had given him my number. He wanted to know if she would speak to some students in Manchester, where he now is. I referred him to Lenny Draper.
March 15 Friday (London): I came to London by the afternoon train. I had suggested to Madge Davison in a letter that if she was travelling to London by boat I would pick her up in Liverpool tomorrow morning. She telephoned Stella Bond and assured her she was “capable of finding her own way about”. So I travelled today thinking to myself that there will be a trying week of parochialism and crudity and resolving to keep my mouth nicely shut. I was out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. I understand Pegeen O’Flaherty is talking of coming to the meeting only every other week, and this will bring pressure on Chris Sullivan to pull out, just at the worst time as regards finance.
March 16 Saturday: Pat Bond made contact with Madge Davison at a student meeting. She is staying with Chris Myant, so we will see what comes of that.
March 17 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning and then travelled to Ealing, where arriving a little late I found Gerry Curran, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue and Madge Davison. We did not have to wait long to see what was in the wind. She declared that the NICRA Executive had decided that Britain was the vital centre and this new discovery had prompted them to decide on a campaign in Britain to prevent the re-enactment of the Emergency Provisions Act. It does not seem to have occurred to them that it might be advisable to consult people in Britain as to how this should be done. They decided that the whole of the Executive would come over here. “We want to address every Trades Council in Britain,” she declared to the meeting (No warning to us that she was to organise us all!) and added, “That means we’ll want a lot of money, and it would have to be collected in Britain.” I know of course that that their American resources have dried up. But I also know how they waste money. I made no comment. I do not know if she consulted Jack Woddis or whether she has brought Myant into the plot. At the same time, she is less guileful and of better disposition then Edwina Stewart. And again Northern Ireland is scarcely a seminary in which learn “bon ton”. She came with Pat O’Donohue and me to Toni Curran’s for tea.
She was at Saint Patrick’s night [ie. the Connolly Association’s annual St Patrick’s Night dance] and I thought was well pleased with herself. She said a few words. Pet Bond deliberately announced our £3000 organiser’s fund before she spoke. He has become much more astute these last few years. There was a time when he could never “see anything coming”. He can now. And is beginning to take pleasure in it insofar as pleasure in “in fighting” is possible – seeing the funny side ought to be the best phrase for it. The thing was a success. Gloria Devine was there [widow of the recently deceased Pat Devine], and many others.
March 18 Monday: I was in the office all day. I had a word with Toni Curran on the phone. I had been entertaining Marcus Lipton most of the time last night [Col.Marcus Lipton, 1900-1978, Labour MP for Brixton and a long-standing supporter of the Connolly Association]. He is quite well read and we spoke of Zangwill [Israel Zangwill, British novelist] and Daniel Deronda [the novel of that name by George Eliot]. He had a cousin with him, but Stallard did not show up. Toni Curran had been introduced to Myant and found him disagreeable. She dislikes and mistrusts him. I do neither – except negatively; I do not like him and I do not trust him, but I think it is arrogance, the common failing of youth, that he suffers from and that is why he is putty in the hands of others. She caught them out making some little plans, but thought they were embarrassed. She pretended to be naive.
Pat Bond came in the evening after the meeting. She had made the same announcement in South London and Pat Bond in turn had held his tongue. He needed no prompting. After all, “a certain element of mutual distrust is an excellent basis for cooperation.” He told me he made £50 last night.
March 19 Tuesday (Birmingham): I spent the morning in the office. At about 4.30 pm. Madge Davison appeared and we took a taxi to Euston and caught the train to Birmingham. I decided to offer no advice but to see what would be the result of experience. I was not looking forward to a pleasurable companionship. The young lady has a touch too much arrogance for my liking, though it crossed my mind that so had Betty Sinclair in her young days. Many was the tale told of her. Mark Clinton met us at New Street and when Sean Kenny arrived he drove us to the Transport Hall. I would say that about twenty people attended. This time the announcement was made, but I thought with less confidence. The need for raising money in England was not stressed. But she spoke with the air of somebody saying something that had never been said before. I stayed with Mark Clinton.
March 20 Wednesday (Liverpool): In the morning Mark Clinton and I went to the Kellys, where Madge Davison was staying. I was interested to meet Mrs Kelly, who is a great “bean an tighe” [Irish for housewife] who presides over an establishment well stocked with homemade wine. Then we went into the city and took the train to Liverpool, myself still keeping off the subject of NICRA but seeing she wanted for nothing. She dropped a hint that there was some resentment among Republicans that she had been singled out for the lecture tour and not they. And I found she had not consulted Jack Woddis. It looks therefore, as if we have another “Republican plot” [ie. one influenced by the “Officials” in Belfast]. The meeting in Liverpool was surprisingly good – over 20 there and Barney Morgan in great form since his newspaper business is vastly thriving and he is thinking of starting a chain! Madge Davison stayed with Brian Stowell.
March 21 Thursday: We went to Manchester for midday and Eric Hooley drove us to the Polytechnic College where Madge Davison addressed the students, about 20 of them. And in the evening we were at the “Nag’s Head” (I think that was the name) where thanks to Lenny Draper’s considerable efforts there took place the best meeting of the tour, with about seventy present. In the afternoon we went to Salford – or to be more precise Madge Davison and I did, Lenny Draper and Hooley sacrificing themselves by keeping Mr O’Shea from Rochdale out of the way. He had met us at the station and attached himself to us. I don’t know how he knew when we would arrive. That was the meeting arranged by Finbar O’Doherty and he may especially have told him. O’Doherty is busy in the “Get the Troops Out Movement” and is as well and well-meaning as ever. But to return to Salford, Tocher and Porter had both been taken ill. Michael Crowe and Gallogley were there. They convinced Madge Davison that it was not possible to call special meetings of Trade Union branches or committees and for the first time she grasped the significance of the Connolly Association. “But the Connolly Association could call a meeting and you sponsor it?” “Oh certainly,” said Gallogley.
When we got to the “Nag’s Head” nobody had arrived. But soon Frances Deane was there from the Trades Council. She was to take the chair and promptly reversed the order of speakers, except for myself, who wanted to get to Liverpool. And why? Because Jim Arnison, who never comes near us, had appeared on the scene with the message that Casson (NCCL) had had to go to Hull and Arnison was speaking in his place. Arnison had not thought fit apparently to notify Lenny Draper himself. They think Lenny is a young fellow to be manipulated or ignored as the fancy takes them, but they will not in future when they have seen what he can do. In passing I remark that I broached to him the subject of his taking Sean Redmond’s old job, and he reacted favourably. Arnison attempted a “takeover”, giving an account of his delegation from which the Connolly Association was so incontinently expelled or frozen out. Again as in the speaker, so in the subject, our wishes were not consulted. We could not choose whether we accepted Arnison, nor could we decide whether we would have a report or not. But the impression may have arisen that we were in some way behind the delegation – as indeed it was our idea, but plagiarised or adapted to procuring a success for somebody else. Incidentally Lenny Draper told me that he doubts if Arnison and Ainley consult Vic Eddisford on their activities. But no doubt we shall hear the story in due course. The danger is that if Madge Davison has her way and the “Officials” get on entrée into the Labour Movement, the “Provisionals” may try to do the same and the movement may grow disgusted and listen to nobody. I returned to Liverpool.
March 22 Friday: I caught the 7.45 from Lime Street and found Madge Davison at the far end of the train but brought her and her weighty baggage back to the refreshment car, such as it was. It must have been when we were just past Huddersfield that she began to open her mind, suddenly, as if she had decided to put a resolution into effect. She told me that oftentimes she had to “bite her lips” in the NICRA office when confronted with the arrogance of the Republicans. She repeated that they were jealous at her being invited. “But we wouldn’t know what they’d say,” said I.
“Absolutely. Of course you wouldn’t.”
I then learned that her hero in Belfast was Betty Sinclair, and the resemblance which I noted myself is possibly that in part she has modelled herself on the older woman. She confessed to an interest in literature and archaeology and regretted the fact that a Protestant education had necessitated so late a curiosity into Irish history. She made many other explanations, too numerous to set down, and I wondered what had made the difference. I can think of a number of factors: the successful meeting last night, the advice of Gallogley, plus her own observations of the work of the Connolly Association. I was mightily satisfied that I had adopted the policy of refraining from influencing her in any way.
We had a meeting of lecturers in the university. She gave them the same hot broth she had handed out to the others. Professor Calvert was there. I remember that McCartney introduced him to me around 1962 or some such time. He has a beard – I do not remember his having one then.
Douglas Mallock picked us up and drove us to a fort on Hadrian’s Wall, over halfway to Carlisle. Madge Davison was delighted as she had felt a wish to see the wall but was too polite to express it. It is a remarkable place. Surely the climate must have been milder in those days. Otherwise, how did 1000 men supply themselves with necessities? We could see across the corner of Cumberland to the mountains above the Esk Valley – though Mallock swore
(I am sure mistakenly) that we could not see part of Scotland. I had a feeling that I was on my own side of the Pennines there and I know the shape of the hills one sees from Carlisle. I bought Madge Davison a guide to the wall at the museum and we returned in time for the meeting, Mrs Mallock having prepared an appropriate collation.
Of course Michael Crowe had lost this, misplaced that, delayed the other and we started at 8.45. Madge Davison made her usual speech and I decided that when she had done I would make a speech that could be recorded, to wind up the tour. She did not mention the forthcoming descent on England, still less the fundraising. The meeting was reasonably attended, something over twenty, who had had to brave the fog. There was present among them some of the local oddities – a hag in a black leather rig-out who jumped up halfway through and rushed indignantly out, not even troubling to close the door. Somebody had “Republican News”[a Provisional Republican publication]. A soi-disant leader of the Anti-Internment League announced a “unity meeting” in the guise of a question. I suspected it was Torode, son of Charlie Cunningham’s bête noir – a man in his late twenties I would say, with the characteristic dissoluteness of physical fibre common to the Trotskyite and the alcoholic. Talking about that, by the way, at Manchester there appeared Meehan and two others from Huddersfield. Meehan did not impress me. I know he had drink taken, but I thought he had a “baby face” and the same flabbiness that characterised Torode (if it was Torode). Madge Davison told those present that they were hypocrites and worse if they professed to support democracy and failed to act now. At lunchtime she had said that the actions performed in England were “abysmal” [ie. the Provisional IRA bombings]. Now she wonders why there was a great movement in Vietnam and none on the Six Counties. So I explained the whole thing in the short time I was left. The branch presented her with a £4 book and in her address of thanks she told everybody to join the Connolly Association.
We went to Mallochs’, taking brandy and goodness knows what else. As she left for the one o’clock train to Glasgow, I said I hoped that the cooperation we had begun would be permanent. At this point she made a reference to “what people said about the Connolly Association”, and this was as near as one can imagine to repudiating the Jimmy Stewart approach and affirming that of Betty Sinclair. During my speech I promised that the Connolly Association Executive would discuss what Madge Davison had said. And probably make propositions to NICRA.
March 23 Saturday: Michael Crowe drove me to the station, but I had a most uncomfortable journey. The train was crowded with bedizened football fanatics who came on in hundreds at each station and got off at the next and talked about goals at the top of their voices all the way in between, so that there was no peace and I did not even go to the buffet. I was thoroughly tired by it.
To illustrate further how Fascist ideas were penetrating the lower middle class, I note that Fred Brown from next door came in. He is in the same mood as Atherton, is quite sure that the Wilson Government is a tool of the Communists and says there will be a revolution in this country which he hoped will be bloodless. He means on the Hitler model. He asks me why I do not emigrate. “After all, you’ve no ties here.” Age, habit and occupation do not count. Particularly he deplores that men on the Birkenhead Market precinct are earning £100 pounds a week, and tells how a Labour supporter said that people that are away from home a lot (a hint at me) or have rooms they do not use should have them taken over by the State to quarter the homeless on them. I assured him that notwithstanding his fears it was highly improbable that the Prime Minister would adopt that method of alleviating the housing shortage.
March 24 Sunday: I did not get much done. The weather was mild enough, but a trifle too cool to work in the garden.
March 25 Monday: I did a little work on the Shields’s “Songbook”, but really I wish I had not undertaken it. The work is in such a shocking state, and it is quite clear that Ted Shields gave up because he was simply not capable of bringing the thing to a conclusion.
March 26 Tuesday: I had at first intended to go to London today but. remained because the Mass in D was on the radio in the evening.
March 27 Wednesday (London): I went to London and discovered that Jack Woddis had left for a month’s holiday. He has been ordered by his doctor to “rest” and he will be away at least a month. So there is nothing to curb any nonsense. I worked on the paper.
March 28 Thursday: I worked on the paper. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in. I received a very nice letter from Madge Davison and the present of a book.
March 29 Friday: I practically finished the paper. But I received a card from Ripley saying that thanks to a printers’ overtime ban, it will not be possible for me to read the proofs on Monday. This means going on Tuesday, getting up at 6 am. and spending money on taxis. The young woman Scorer came in. She said Edwina Stewart was pressing her to organise a meeting when she comes over in May. I suggested re-establishing the Ad Hoc Committee as she wants to hold a joint meeting.
March 30 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day and in the evening Michael Crowe came and we went to Hammersmith. Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and others came in.
March 31 Sunday (Liverpool): We held a Standing Committee in the morning. Jim Kelly did not show up, but we had Jane Tate, Michael Crowe, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue. I was reasonably satisfied, though the financial position is very alarming, rather due to the weakness of our business management. I took the 5 pm. to Liverpool. The engine broke down 100 yards out of Euston, the underground was out of action in Liverpool and at about 11 pm. there was a power failure, and the place was in darkness. I found when I arrived a vaccinium and several tree strawberries.
(End of Volume 25; c.70,000 words)
Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 25, 1973-74, Index
1 June 1973 – 31 March 1974
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 12.28, 3.8, 3.26
Assessments of others: 6.1-2, 6.6-7, 6.12, 6.20, 6.26, 7.7, 7.12, 7.22-23,
7.28, 8.20, 8.27, 9.1, 9.4, 9.30,10.2-3, 10.12-14, 10.31, 12.29,
1.2, 1.19,1.26, 2.17, 3.19-22
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 9.22, 9.24, 9.30, 10.3,
12.14, 12.19, 1.6, 1.10, 2.11, 2.25, 3.23
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 6.13, 11.22, 3.20, 3.22
European supranational integration/the EEC: 7.23,10.3,10.8, 10.23, 1.2,
Family relations: 7.9,12.30,1.20, 3.7
Holidays/cycle tours: 9.27-10.15
Sean O’Casey research: 10.14, 11.1, 2.6
Self-assessments and personal plans: 6.1, 6.27, 7.22, 9.1, 9.4, 9.27, 10.14,
11.1, 11.8, 11.25, 11.30, 12.25, 1.21, 2.1, 3.22, 3.25
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Internment League: 3.22
British Peace Committee: 6.12, 7.4, 7.12
Clann na hEireann: 7.12, 10.24, 11.25, 1.27, 2.24
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 6.12, 7.12, 7.17,8.29, 9.1, 9.4,
9.12, 10.14, 10.23, 11.7, 11.22, 11.24-25, 12.15, 12.29, 1.8, 2.23
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 6.20, 11.24
Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 10.14
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 6.12, 6.28,7.17, 7.26, 9.3, 10.23,
11.22, 11.25, 12.2, 12.14, 1.22, 2.23, 3.10, 3.21-22
Labour Party (British): 6.12, 11.26
National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL):
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), including support groups in
Britain: 7.12, 7.15, 7.18, 7.20,7.29, 1.5, 1.19, 1.25, 1.30, 3.20, 3.22
People’s Democracy: 7.29
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials: 6.20, 7.12, 7.18-19, 7.29,11.25,1.19, 1.27, 3.20-22
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals:7.12, 7.19, 8.29, 9.1, 9.4, 9.11,10.17,
11.26,1.19, 1.27, 3.21-22
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): 7.19,11.22,11.26
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 6.23, 7.12, 7.15, 7.29, 8.12, 8.23,
9.3, 10.14, 2.22
Wolfe Tone Society: 1.12
Personal Names Index
Aaronovitch, Sam: 2.23
Ainley, Ted: 7.17, 11.7, 12,4, 12,15, 3.9, 3.2
Anthony, George: 9.4
Arnison, Jim: 12.5, 12.8, 12.15, 1.2, 3.2, 3.9, 3.21
Arrowsmith, Pat: 7.12
Askins, Jack:8.9, 9.4, 12.4
Asmal, Kader: 8.4, 8.7, 9.15, 1.12
Bannister (initials unknown): 12.14
Barr, Andy: 9.4
Beauchamp, Kay: 2.1, 2.8
Behan, Brendan: 12.14
Behan, Dominic: 12.14
Bennett, Jack: 8.27
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 7.19, 2.9, 3.17-18
Bond, Stella: 7.16, 7.18, 9.12
Bourne, Harry: 11.2
Boyle, Kevin: 7.29
Brennan, Irene: 12.2
Brockway, Lord Fenner: 7.17-18
Bush, Alan: 7.17
Chater, Tony: 7.4, 7.19
Clancy, Basil: 10.14
Clinton, Mark: 9.12,9.24, 10.24,10.27, 2.22
Cole, Stan: 12.5
Comi, Signora Nicoletta: 7.5, 8.3-4
Cornforth, Maurice: 7.5, 9.1, 11.30
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 6.1,6.9,6.20-26,7.24, 8.4-6, 8.15, 8.26, 9.9,
9.14-16, 9.27, 10.30, 12.4, 12.13, 12.15, 1.7, 1.12, 1.19, 1.26
Crotty, Raymond: 1.23, 1.26
Crowe, Michael: 6.12, 11.8, 11.24, 2.12, 3.21-22
Crowley, Brian: 6.12,6.24, 2.9
Cunningham, Charlie: 7.16, 8.22, 9.9, 9.26, 10.24-25, 1.27, 1.31, 2.2
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 6.22,6.24,7.1,7.11, 2.26, 3.18
Curran, Gerard: 7.25, 8.26, 11.25, 2.4
Davison, Madge: 7.18, 7.29, 9.11, 1.6, 1.25, 1.30, 2.4, 3.15-22, 3.28
Deighan, Joseph: 7.29, 1.24
Devine, Gloria: 7.17, 7.22-23, 7.28, 3.17
Devine, Pat: 7.17, 7.22
Donaghey, Tony: 8.12, 10.24, 11.5,12.7,1.3,1.21-22, 1.28, 2.21
Donnelly, Charlie: 1.14
Draper, Lenny: 6.12, 6,.14, 7.12, 7.22, 7.26, 8.20, 9.1, 9.14, 10.17,
10.20, 10.31, 11.1, 11.26, 2.14, 3.21
Dutt, R.Palme: 7.17, 7.22, 7.28, 9.2, 10.23, 10.30
Eddisford, Vic: 3.21
Edwards, Bert: 6.6
Egan, Bowes: 7.15
Egelnick, Max: 8.9
Engels, Friedrich: 7.23
Fairley, Bob: 2.1-2
Falber, Reuben: 8.29, 9.1
Faulkner, Brian MP: 1.19
Gallacher, Willie MP: 9.4
Gill, Ken: 9.4
Gilmore, George: 1.14
Gollan, John: 7.17, 7.22, 9.1
Goulding, Cathal: 11.25
Greaves, Phyllis: 7.9
Guilfoyle, John: 6.6
Hale, Leslie MP: 7.18
Halpin, Kevin: 10.25
Harris, Noel: 8.3-4, 8.6-7
Heatley, Bobby (Robert):7.18, 7.20, 7.29
Henry, Jack: 9.4
Hyman, Joan: 7.17
Gibson, John: 9.4
Heath, Edward MP: 12.14, 3.3
Jeger, Lena MP: 2.28
Jenkins, Mick: 9.1
Jenkins, Roy MP: 2.22
Johnson, Tom: 10.14
Johnston, Roy: 8.7
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 6.6, 7.21, 1.29, 2.2, 2.10
Kenny, Sean: 10.11
Kerrigan, Peter: 9.2
Lehane, Con: 6.20, 6.28
Levenson, Sam: 9.4, 10.17, 12.12
Liddell Hart, BH: 1.14
Lipton, Marcus: 3.18
Logan, Des: 2.14
MacAmhlaigh, Dónal: 8.12
McClelland, John: 7.29, 1.19, 1.24, 1.31
McCorry, Kevin: 7.29, 11.6
McGahey, Mick (Michael): 8.12, 1.29
McGill, Jimmy: 9.22, 10.29-30, 11.7, 11.12
MacGiolla, Tomás: 11.25
McGurran, Malachy: 7.29
MacLaughlin, Eamon and Barbara: 7.28
MacLaughlin, Pat: 6.20
McLennan, Gordon: 6.12, 8.12, 8.29, 9.1, 10.23, 1.8, 1.22, 2.23
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 8.26, 9.14, 1.8, 1.11,1.19
McMackin, Daisy: 1.17
Matthews, George: 9.1
Maynard, Joan MP: 6.12
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Mitchell, Tom: 10.24, 11.25, 1.4, 1.21,1.28, 2.1
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 6.20, 3.20
Morrissey, Sean: 7.29
Morton, Alan G. and Mrs Freda Morton: 11.30
Mullen, Michael: 8.3
Mulligan, Peter: 8.12
Murray, Mrs Margaret(Sean): 10.14
Myant, Chris: 10.14, 2.8, 2.21, 3.16, 3.18
Nolan, Sean: 8.4, 1.6, 1.19
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 8.4, 1.12, 1.17
O’Connor, Joe: 10.17
O’Doherty, Finbar: 3.14, 3.21
O’Donohue, Pat: 6.11, 7.1, 7.21
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 1.22
O’Flaherty, Pegeen (Mrs Chris Sullivan): 6.26, 1.30-31
O’Hara, Roger: 10.30
O Loingsigh, Micheál S: 8.7, 1.11
O’Neill, Siobhán: 8.26, 11.22
O’Riordan, Michael: 6.20, 10.18, 10.23, 1.6
O Snodaigh, Olibhéar: 1.11,1.14
Orme, Stan MP: 6.12,
Pakenham, Frank: 7.18
Pearce, Bert: 9.1
Pefkos, George: 10.14
Platts-Mills, John QC: 10.23, 10.30
Powell, Patrick: 11.25, 12.2
Prendergast, Jim: 9.2
Pritt, DN: 7.18
Purdie, Bob: 7.15
Ramelson, Bert: 8.29, 9.1, 9.4, 10.26, 2.18
Redmond, Sean: 6.6, 6.20, 7.1, 7.12,7.14, 7.29, 8.8, 8.12, 9.9,1.12, 1.31
Redmond, Susan: 8.8
Redmond, Tom: 7.29
Riordan, Barry: 2.21,2.23
Seifert, Connie: 8.29
Shields, Ted: 1.7, 3.23, 3.25
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 7.9, 7.29, 11.6, 12.15, 1.21-22, 1.24, 3.19, 3.22
Slessor, George: 6.8-9, 6.23, 10.14, 10.24, 11.5, 1.28
Snoddy, Oliver (see O Snodaigh)
Spence, Gusty: 1.22
Stallard, AW “Jock” MP: 6.10, 6.12, 7.15, 7.17, 9.1,11.22-23, 1.8, 1.22,
1.25, 2.1, 2.23
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies):7.12, 7.18, 7.29, 8.12, 10.14, 11.6,
12.15,1.25, 3.17, 3.29
Stewart, Jimmy: 7.29, 8.14, 10.14, 10.17-18, 10.20, 10.23, 11.25, 3.22
Stowell, Brian: 2.7, 3.20
Sullivan, Chris: 6.26
Sweet, Colin: 6.10, 6.12, 7.4, 7.12
Tate, Jane: 9.14, 1.26-27
Ward, Alf: 8.23, 8.27, 2.23
Watters, Frank: 9.24, 10.24, 10.27, 11.2
White, Hughie: 2.10
Williams, J.Roose: 10.29
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 7.18-19, 7.25, 8.9, 8.14, 8.29, 9.4, 10.23, 11.22,
11.24-25, 12.7, 2.4, 2.11, 3.17, 3.17