1 January 1984 – 30 November 1984
Editor’s Introduction: Desmond Greaves and the Connolly Association in the mid-1980s
In 1984 Desmond Greaves had just four more years to live. In the early 1980s he had given up his flat in London, where he had lived and worked since 1937, and made Liverpool his base, living in what had been his family home at 124 Mount Road, Prenton, Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. It was from this family home that he had attended Liverpool University as a young man half a century before (See Vols.1-3 of the Journal). From there he edited the Connolly Association’s monthly newsaper, the “Irish Democrat”, for several years, travelled down to London by train from time to time to deal with Connolly Association business, as he was also General Secretary of that organisation, and travelled to meetings on Irish issues that he was invited to speak at in different parts of Britain. He travelled to Ripley, Derbyshire, each month to supervise the laying out of the “Irish Democrat” at the printers there.
He sought to build up the Liverpool branch of the Connolly Association during his years on Merseyside. There was a sizeable garden attached to the suburban house he lived in and the Journal shows him to have been an assiduous gardener. Each year he took cycling holidays in Wales, usually in October or November, staying in youth hostels, having been a member of the Youth Hostel Association since boyhood. Longstanding Connolly Association member Gerry Curran brought out the paper on these occasions. Greaves’s income during the 37 years that he worked full-time on Irish affairs consisted mainly of his exiguous salary as editor of the “Irish Democrat”. That in turn depended on paper sales by Connolly Association members round the public houses of the Irish districts, mainly in London. He went on such sales runs himself whenever he was in that city. He received slender royalties from his biographies of James Connolly, Liam Mellows and Sean O’Casey and his history of the foundation years of the ITGWU. He lived modestly, his personal spending being mainly on books, alcohol and food. As regards the latter he grew all his own vegetables. The ITGWU in Dublin, now SIPTU, had paid him a fee for writing the first volume of that Union’s History, but once the project of a three-volume history was abandoned in 1982-3 he gave up the idea of moving permanently to Ireland, which he had been hoping to do for the last years of his life. Being temperamentally gregarious, never having married and living on his own most of the time, his occasional Dublin visits were marked by nightly talking and drinking sessions with political colleagues, friends and admirers in that city. He made two visits to Dublin during 1984.
The “Irish Democrat” was one of the first publications in Britain to have opposed membership of the EEC, later the European Union, on democratic grounds, from the time EEC membership was first mooted by the UK and Irish Governments in 1961. In the last years of his life Desmond Greaves came to the conclusion that the failure of the Labour Movement and of political radicals generally to defend the Nation State as the principal locus of democracy in the modern world was the root cause of the political weakness of the Left in the different European countries. This view led him and the Connolly Association to organise the conference on “The Defence of the Nation State” in June 1985, which is referred to in the volume following this, Vol.34, and a follow-up conference on the same topic in February 1986, at the time of the EU’s establishment of its single internal market by means of the treaty known as the Single European Act. He saw this failure of the Left to stand for national independence in Britain as the fundamental cause of the internal divisions in the CPGB which led to that party’s dissolution in 1991, three years after his death. As he put it in Vol.34, the two communist factions, so-called “soft-liners” and “hard-liners”, were quarrelling over different interpretations of “The British Road to Socialism” while the Government that ruled them had signed an international treaty not to have socialism or anything like it.
Greaves suffered from eye trouble during the last years of his life. It was probably this that led him to abandon the idea of taking on any new intellectual project that would require significant reading and research work, including the ambition he expressed in this volume of writing on the theory of aesthetics, something that he referred to as his “oldest project”. It is probably why he concentrated in those years on his comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”, which he could weave out of his imagination. Only one-third of this was completed by the time he died in 1988. If he had completed it, it would have amounted to a verse novel of some 400 pages.
In London the Connolly Association’s full-time worker in 1984 and the years preceding was its National Organiser, Noel Gordon, who worked from the rented CA office and bookshop on the Grays Inn Road, on the edge of Bloomsbury, London and near to King’s Crios Station. The affairs of the Association were run by its Standing Committee, which met monthly and sometimes more often, its Executive Committee which met every few months, and its annual policy-making conference. Key figures in the London office at the time were Jane Tate and Stella Bond, both Englishwomen who devoted their political lives to the Irish cause. Jane Tate was treasurer of the Connolly Association and Pat O’Donohue supervised the finances of Connolly Publications, the company that published the “Irish Democrat”, in which Greaves was the principal shareholder. A previous CA treasurer, Toni (Antoinette) Curran, another Englishwoman as well as Jewish, was terminally ill with cancer during this year. She had been married to Gerard Curran but was now living with her new partner, Bob Wynn. Pat Bond was secretary of the South London branch of the Connolly Association and Steve Huggett was secretary of the Central London branch at this time.
Connolly Association Branches would typically meet once a week or fortnightly. The Association’s activity revolved around organising the weekend paper sales, holding occasional lobbies of Labour and Liberal MPs at the House of Commons, seeking to stimulate Trade Union, Labour Party and Communist Party interest in the Irish question by encouraging members and supporters to raise the issue with these bodies and organising occasional special conferences for that purpose. The Association was affiliated to the National Council for Civil Liberties and Liberation – formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom – and raised Irish issues also through these organisations. In the 1970s and 1980s the political work of the Connolly Association was mainly concerned with dealing with the effects in Britain of the Provisional IRA’s military campaign in Northern Ireland and the British Government’s responses to that. This made the Prevention of Terrorism Act a central concern, as its implementation by the authorities hugely affected the Irish community in Britain, especially when Irish people travelled to and from Ireland. At the same time the Association under Greaves’s influence sought to raise more fundamental political questions, such as the Partition of Ireland as being the fundamental cause of the Northern Ireland “Troubles”, urging the UK Government to adopt a “Declaration of Intent” to work towards Irish reunification in cooperation with the Irish Government as the long-term sensible solution to the Irish problem, encouraging opposition to the EEC as undermining national democracy in both Britain and Ireland, and pointing to the need for an international movement in defence of the Nation State in face of transnational capital and its supporting political structures as being the principal progressive task of our time.
N.B. In the final volumes of Desmond Greaves’s Journal covering the late 1970s and 1980s, the last years of his life, there are a small number of sentences and phrases that lawyers might consider to be potentially defamatory of persons still living when this electronic edition is being put on the internet, or which could be hurtful or offensive to people still active in the Connolly Association. These amount in all to no more than a couple of dozen phrases or sentences out of the two million or so words in the full Journal. They have been deleted from this electronic edition for these reasons, and these deletions are indicated in the original Journal being deposited in the National Library of Ireland in 2023. None of these phrases or sentences refer to the Editor. In considering the comments on other people that occur throughout the Greaves Journal, or indeed any other Journal or diary record, readers need to bear in mind that the judgements of a day are not the same as the considered long-term views of the diarist, or ones they might have made publicly if ever called upon to do that.
Themes: Organising a series of lectures for the Liverpool Connolly Association branch, with speakers from Ireland – Willingness to speak on the Irish question to a more diverse range of left-wing bodies than previously: “I blame the CP for surrendering its ‘ideological’ hegemony and will now talk to these groups direct. I have had the experience (in Leicester) of convincing a rabid Trotsky that though British troops must come out of the Six Counties, that cannot be the first thing to do. The CP are terrified of them. I don’t mind if they’re all lined up in a row!” (1.28) – Following the internal CPGB dispute between that party’s Head Office, led by its general secretary Gordon McLennan, and the “Morning Star” daily newspaper under its editor, Tony Chater: “So it is war to the knife, and war is no less uncomfortable for being incompetently waged. It reminds me of what Joshi told me about the Indian CP: ‘They could not solve the problem, so they split.’ It seems to be heading that way.” (2.11) – Preparing papers for a CA conference on Ireland and World Peace: “It all illustrates that historically the Connolly Association has had an influence comparable (mutatis mutandis) with that of Clan na Gael.” (2.23) – CA Treasurer Toni Curran struck by a terminal cancer illness – Writing to London Labour politician Ken Livingstone in connection with the CA’s application for a grant from the Greater London Council for its bookshop – Considering possible future intellectual projects, now that he was in his seventies: “I would really like to get on to the aesthetics. Having got out the poems I would feel something was accomplished if that oldest of all my projects was finished. I wonder how many years I’ve got!” (2.27) – Retrospective criticism of the degree of attention and support the mainstream CPGB had given to the Irish issue over the years: “This gathering of the clans in Birmingham signals another assault on that difficult city. But this time I shall not even bother to consult the CP …The Gaelic League in Birmingham runs a monthly Mass! But what do you start with? People who are interested in Ireland. The CP are not, or they would not have wasted the great emigration, and years of my time in trying to educate them” (3.3); and: “I grow retrospectively increasingly contemptuous of the role of the CPGB on Ireland. I was too close to giants like T.A.Jackson and Gallacher who hid the pygmies behind them. The secret was that given away to Bob Wynn – their Scottish members. If there were an independent Scotland unable to determine English policy, they would be free to deal with Ireland. But their chains were forged long ago.” (3.11) –Wondering what to do with his early Journals: “I looked at some old journals from 1934-35, which I found recently. I can recognise myself, but what to do with them? I don’t feel like destroying them. But I don’t feel like preserving them. Parts of them read like the ‘New Statesman’s’ satire on Mrs Thatcher, the diary of a 16-year-old grocer’s daughter. Indeed, the keyword is precocity. Then there are things omitted of greater weight than what is included, which I can date. Having decided not to waste time writing memoirs, I suppose I should keep them in some form. Re-write extracts and add further recollections? This would be a kind of ‘memoirization’. And I could leave out all the unimportant schoolboy intrigues and competitions and accounts of people I never saw again or particularly wanted to.” (3.12) – Vegetable gardening at his home in Birkenhead – Speculating on a possible resolution to the CPGB divisions:“I had told Noel Gordon that I thought that possibly there might be a Commission to investigate what has gone wrong with the CPGB and that I was saying nothing now as I could conceivably be invited to sit on it.”(6.8) – Financial strain on the Connolly Association as a side-effect of Mrs Thatcher’s Government’s dispute with the National Union of Mineworkers: “Donations are savagely down because everything is going to finance the miners.” (7.24) – Embarks on his verse novel ,“Elephants Against Rome”: “I am working on and off on the ‘epic’ I have been planning for years.”(8.12) – Welcomes the formation in Ireland of TUIUI (Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence) by former CA General Secretary Sean Redmond and others (8.16) – Speaking at meetings of the Labour Committee on Ireland – Writes on “Class and Nation in Ireland” for a book of articles on the Comintern, “Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front”, edited by Jim Fyrth, published in 1985 – Onset of eye trouble: “There was trouble today, serious trouble. For some time I have been uneasy about my left eye. It must be about a year ago that I saw a dark spot…I suspect incipient glaucoma and will have to take medical advice, which I have little confidence in … There is little doubt that there is impairment of vision.”(10.20) – Visits terminally ill Peadar O’Donnell in Dublin (11.15) – New level of cooperation between the Connolly Association and other Irish organisations concerned at the effects of the Prevention of Terrorism Act etc.: “…after I had made an appeal for a ‘Parliament of the Irish’ all kinds of people came offering cooperation. What is in fact happening is that a tacit political alliance is being forged, and it may be best that it remains implicit.” (11.18) – Making his will and commenting on CPGB General Secretary Gordon McLennan forbidding its London District Committee from holding a conference to elect a new committee: “Then I had lunch with Jack Gaster who is going to draft a will for me. He said of the LDC thing that he had never heard of such a thing in his life, and he is 77. I agreed that neither had I. One thing is clear, if they had ever got near the reins of government, they’d Joe Stalin the lot of us!” (11.26)
Index to Volume 33 of Desmond Greaves’s Journal
[Editorial Note: In this and all the volumes of the Greaves Journal from No.28 to No.38 the Index is placed at the beginning rather than the end of each volume, the better to facilitate internet readers seeking knowledge of that particular volume’s contents.
The text of this Volume 33 of the Journal therefore follows rather than precedes the Index below.
In the Index references below and throughout, the month comes first and then the day of the month. Thus 6.7 means June 7th, 1.25 means January 25th, 12.4 means December 4th and so on. Where the entries in a particular volume extend beyond one year so that monthly dates are repeated for the second year, the figure (2) is attached to each entry for that year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 1.5, 2.25, 3.11, 3.14-15, 4.21
Assessments of others: 1.18, 1.21, 2.22, 3.17, 3.19, 3.29, 4.14, 4.25, 5.23,
7.7, 7.18, 7.25, 8.21, 10.12, 10.14, 10.12, 10.19, 11.5
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 2.9, 2.11, 2.17, 4.26,
10.3-5, 10.7, 10.14, 10.16, 10.18, 10.28
Campaigning in Britain for Irish reunification: 3.11, 6.16, 6.23, 8.15-16, 10.25
European supranational integration/the EEC: 3.6
Holidays/cycle tours: 10.2-22
Journal and personal records: 3.12, 3.25, 4.15, 7.7, 11.30
Meteorology, interest in: 2.6, 2.16, 4.9, 4.16, 4.27, 6.25-26, 7.20, 7.25
Self-assessments and personal plans: 1.17, 1.28, 2.27, 3.22, 3.31, 4.15,
4.19, 5.25, 6.8, 6.17, 6.24-25, 7.1, 7.6, 7.8, 8.10, 8.15, 8.22, 8.29,
9.25,10.29-31, 11.2, 11.5
Verse: “Elephants Against Rome”: 10.17
Verse: “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”: 2.9
Organisation Names Index
Clann na hEireann: 4.9
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 1.11, 1.20, 1.24, 1.28, 2.9, 2.11,
2.22, 3.3, 3.11, 3.14, 3.29, 3.31,4.5, 4.18, 5.29, 6.8, 6.10, 6.12,
6.16, 7.1, 7.9, 7.24, 8.2, 8.16, 8.18-19, 8.22, 8.27-28, 9.25,
9.27,10.16, 11.15, 11.24
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI):1.24, 8.9, 9.13, 9.17, 9.25, 10.14, 11.12
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat:1.28, 2.9, 3.3, 3.11, 3.15, 4.5, 4.14,
5.25, 6.16, 6.24, 7.6, 7.22, 7.24, 7.30, 8.10, 8.19, 9.25, 10.29, 11.19
Federation of Irish Societies: 1.5, 7.19
Greater London Council: 2.27, 3.12, 3.19, 4.5, 6.15, 6.17, 7.2, 7.4-5, 7.7-8,
7.13, 7.16, 7.19-20, 7.25, 7.27, 7.30, 8.3, 8.7-8, 8.15, 8.31, 9.6
Irish in Britain Representation Group: 5.16, 7.26, 11.18, 11.21
Irish Labour History Society: 6.23,11.16
Irish Labour Party: 6.5
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 5.29, 5.31
Labour Committee on Ireland: 5.26, 6.30, 8.21-22, 9.6, 11.18
National Library of Ireland: 5.30
New Communist Party: 8.21
Sinn Fein/”Official IRA”/The Workers Party/“Stickies”: 3.30, 9.2,11.4
Sinn Fein/ “Provisional IRA”: 3.5, 8.7, 8.16,11.12, 11.18
Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence: 8.7, 8.16
Troops Out Movement: 5.15, 7.24, 10.25, 11.18
Personal Names Index
Anthony, George: 7.1
Arnison, Jim: 4.5, 8.18-19, 8.22, 8.27, 9.13, 10.25
Arnot, R. Page: 6.13
Behan, Dominic: 4.5
Bell, Geoffrey: 1.24, 1.28
Benn, Tony: 3.1, 3.16, 8.16,10.29
Bennett, Helen and Owen: 4.2, 11.15
Bennett, Jack and Anna: 11.15
Bennett, J. Godolphin: 2.11
Berrigan, Fr Daniel: 10.26
Blevins, John: 3.14, 9.25
Boateng, Paul: 9.21
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 1.3, 1.13, 1.16, 1.18, 1.21, 1.25, 1.29-30, 6.12,
6.19, 7.10, 8.5, 8.13, 9.5, 11.5, 11.14, 11.19
Bond, Stella:1.13, 6.18, 7.12, 7.23, 8.13, 11.14
Boughton, Rutland: 2.25
Bourne, Harry: 3.11
Bowers, Joe: 3.8, 6.16, 7.15
Browder, Earl: 6.4
Brown, Prof. Malcolm: 5.5
Byrne, Paddy: 4.22, 4.25
Campbell, Beatrice: 6.16
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 4.29, 7.19
Carter, Pete: 3.8
Charles, Wilf: 1.6, 1.12, 2.17, 8.19
Chater, Tony: 1.11, 1.18, 1.21, 1.24, 2.9, 3.12-13, 4.5, 4.17, 4.23, 6.4, 6.16,
7.9, 8.18, 8.22, 11.24
Clinton, Mark: 3.8, 3.20,6.16
Cohen, Gerry: 3.11, 7.1, 11.26
Collins, Martin: 5.26, 6.30, 11.12
Cook, Dave: 2.9
Cooley, Mike: 8.2, 8.5
Costello, Michael: 8.19
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 1.1, 1.5, 2.9, 2.11, 2.13, 2.26, 3.12, 3.18, 3.30,
4.15, 4.25, 5.27, 5.31, 6.1, 6.16, 6.18-19, 6.23, 7.7, 7.23, 8.27,
8.29, 9.27, 11.5, 11.7, 11.12-13, 11.20, 11.22
Cowman, Eddie: 1.2, 5.27, 5.30-31, 6.1, 6.5, 6.22, 7.23, 7.25, 8.24-26, 8.29,
9.14, 11.5, 11.13
Cox, Idris: 3.11
Cronin, Sean: 3.17
Crowe, Michael: 3.14, 4.23, 6.16, 8.21
Cunningham, Charlie: 1.10, 1.29, 7.29, 8.13
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 1.10, 1.18, 1.21, 5.12, 5.16, 6.1, 7.7, 7.23,
8.29, 9.28, 9.30, 11.3
Curran, Gerard: 5.11, 6.1, 6.16, 9.30
Davies, George: 4.28, 6.23, 7.18, 7.23, 8.21-22, 9.20, 10.25, 11.18
Davison, Madge: 1.11
Deighan, Joseph: 7.19, 7.30, 8.27, 9.17, 11.19
De Valera, Eamon: 3.8
Devine, Francis: 5.28-29, 11.16
Devine, Pat: 1.12
Devlin, Paddy: 5.29
Digges, Alec: 11.21
Dillane, Mairin: 1.11
Dunn, Bill: 10.22
Durkin, Tom: 4.26
Dutt, R. Palme: 8.28, 9.4
Edwards, Mrs Frank “Bobby”: 11.15
Field, Frank, MP: 2.4
Foot, Michael, MP: 11.7
Freeman, John: 3.16, 3.31
Fyrth, Jim: 9.27
Garland, John (Seán): 9.25
Gaster, Jack: 2.9, 6.4, 8.28, 9.26-27, 11.26
Gibson, John: 4.9, 8.19, 10.29
Gill, Ken: 3.8-9, 3.31, 6.16, 8.21, 10.25
Gill, Tom (See Mac Giolla, Tomás)
Gillhooley, Paul: 3.8, 7.13, 11.24
Glackin, Eddie: 8.29, 9.2, 9.13, 9.17
Gordon, Noel: 1.11, 2.27, 3.8, 4.30, 5.26, 6.15, 6.20-21, 6.22, 6.25, 6.28,
7.1, 7.7, 7.13, 7.20-21, 7.23, 7.25-26, 8.7, 8.13, 8.31, 9.1, 9.4, 9.6,
9.12, 11.2, 11.4, 11.19
Goulding, Bill: 4.28, 6.15-16
Green, Nan: 4.7
Halligan, Brendan: 4.25
Hardy, Bill: 1.29, 7.3, 7.22, 7.26-27, 11.13
Harkin, Nora: 11.15
Harris, Noel: 3.29, 3.31
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 1.2
Heffer, Eric, MP: 3.18, 4.1, 7.7, 10.29
Henry, Tommy: 1.12
Heussaff, Alan: 2.14, 5.13, 11.15
Hickman, Mary: 11.2
Hobsbawm, Eric: 2.9, 10.25
Huggett, Steve: 1.10, 7.1, 11.19
Jacques, Martin: 4.7, 4.19, 4.23, 8.19, 8.21, 10.25
James, Miriam: 1.28
Jamison, Joe: 5.28-30, 7.7, 8.1, 8.29, 11.8
Johnston, Roy: 1.3, 1.17, 3.18, 5.5, 6.18-19, 7.30, 8.1 10.26, 11.15
Jones, Elwyn, MP: 2.11
Jones, Idris: 2.11
Keating, Justin: 3.5
Kelleher, Derry: 1.3
Kelly, Dalton: (See Ó Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Luke: 2.1
Kelly, Michael: 10.29
Kelly, Roger: 7.1
Kent, Bruce: 3.26, 4.1, 10.26
Kerrigan, Peter: 3.11
Kinnock, Neil, MP: 11.7
Klugman, James: 2.9
Livingstone, Ken, MP: 7.5, 7.27, 8.2-3, 9.6
Lowery, Robert: 3.22, 5.30, 7.7
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónal:
McClelland, John: 1.2
McClelland, Mary: 4.26, 9.25, 10.25, 11.18
MacEoin, Uinseann: 3.4-5, 3.8
McGahey, Mick: 4.5
Mac Giolla,Tomás: 1.2, 9.2, 9.25
McLennan, Gordon: 3.12-14, 3.29, 7.1, 7.9, 8.18, 9.25, 10.25, 11.14, 11.24
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 1.1
McMurray, Helen: 1.10, 6.15-16, 6.21, 6.25, 6.28, 7.1, 7.25, 8.31, 9.3-4
Martin, Eamon: 2.13
Merrigan, Matt: 3.8, 4.26
Millotte, Michael: 11.4, 11.12
Milne, Ewart: 5.21
Mitchell, Jack Prof.: 1.19, 8.1-2, 11.20
Moore, Hughie: 7.27
Morgan, Barney: 1.3, 3.19, 4.6, 6.25, 7.21, 8.8, 8.18, 8.31, 10.29
Morrissey, Michael: 1.11, 11.12
Mortimer, Michael: 1.4, 2.5, 2.28, 3.21, 4.14, 7.11, 7.17, 8.18, 10.25,
10.29-30, 11.2, 11.21
Morton, A.L: 11.20
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 6.2, 8.27,9.5, 9.13
Morton, Alisoun: 6.2, 9.5, 9.13
Mullally, Liam: 11.21
Mullen, Michael: 5.15
Mulligan, Peter: 1.29, 3.9, 3.21,6.24, 7.5, 7.21, 7.29-30, 8.1-2, 8.7
Myant, Chris: 1.11-12, 1.18, 1.20, 2.11, 3.11, 3.29, 3.31, 4.2, 6.4, 6.9, 6.16,
7.13, 7.24, 8.7, 8.16, 8.18-19, 8.21-22, 8.27, 9.27, 11.14
Newsinger, John: 1.16, 3.3, 6.22
Nicholson, Fergus: 8.21
Nolan, Dermot: 3.13, 3.30, 11.12
Ó Caollai, Maolachlann: 1.5
Ó Ceallaigh, Daltún and Deirbhle (Murphy): 1.2, 5.29, 6.5, 6.22
O’Connell, Bernard: 7.28, 8.1, 8.21-22, 9.6, 11.4
O’Connor, Emmet: 6.23, 11.16
O’Donnell, Peadar: 1.2, 3.8, 4.22, 4.25, 11.15
O’Donohue, Pat: 1.10, 1.18, 1.20, 2.27, 7.6, 7.8, 8.30-31, 9.3, 9.8, 11.3
O’Dowling, Elsie, née Timbey: 1.30, 4.20
O’Grady, Joe: 1.4, 4.14, 7.21, 8.18, 10.29
O’Herlihy, Callaghan (Cal): 1.30, 3.30
O’Higgins, Andy: 8.16, 8.18-19
Ó Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 4.4, 4.6, 4.14-15, 11.14-15
Ó Murchú, Eoin: 8.9, 11.12, 11.14
O’Reilly, Gerald: 2.13
O’Riordan, Michael: 3.11, 5.21-6.1, 6.4, 7.22, 7.27, 7.30, 8.9, 9.2, 11.12
O’Shea, Fred: 1.28, 4.5, 8.9
Ó Snodaigh, Pádraig: 1.5, 3.18
O’Sullivan, Pegeen: 9.27
Powell, Pat: 5.29
Power, Colm: 6.5, 10.25, 11.5, 11.15
Power, Niall: 5.10, 5.16-17, 11.12, 11.18
Ramelson, Bert: 1.11
Redmond, Sean: 4.26, 5.20, 6.5, 8.16, 8.22, 9.6, 9.13, 10.25, 11.5, 11.18
Redmond, Tom: 8.9, 9.13, 9.17, 11.12
Reeve, Ann: 3.22, 5.8
Rendle, Philip: 8.15
Riordan, Barry: 6.30
Rosser, Mary: 11.24
Rothstein, Andrew: 8.27, 9.4, 9.27
Saidlear, Muriel: 1.2, 3.12, 3.18, 3.28, 5.27, 11.10-11, 11.14-15
Salveson, Paul: 2.14, 8.16, 9.14, 9.20, 11.21
Sawtell, Jeff: 1.16, 184.108.40.206
Scargill, Arthur: 4.5, 11.15
Shanahan, Jerry: 8.29
Short, Clare, MP: 9.6
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 9.27, 11.11, 11.14, 11.20
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 5.26
Skelly, Jeff: 3.14, 5.4
Stallard, Lord “Jock”, former MP: 1.29
Stewart, Jimmy: 1.11, 8.9, 8.27
Stowell, Brian: 1.3
Tate, Jane: 1.20, 6.4, 6.12-13, 6.15-16, 6.21, 6.28, 7.1-2, 7.4, 7.7, 7.12-
13, 7.20, 7.25-26, 8.1, 8.10, 8.13-14, 8.29-31, 9.4-5, 11.2, 11.5,
Thompson, Prof. J. McLean: 6.2
Walsh, Janet: 2.28, 10.29
Ward, Bert: 3.31, 7.15, 7.24, 8.7, 9.2
Wilkinson, Brian: 8.27
Wynn, Bob: 1.21, 6.18, 7.23, 9.30, 11.3
January 1 Sunday (Liverpool): Tony Coughlan rang to see if I might possibly be going over to his wedding after all [The wedding of Anthony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear was taking place the following day. Coughlan was Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat” from 1961 until the early 2000s. His professional work was lecturing on social policy at Trinity College Dublin]. I told him that Dónal Mac Amhlaigh’s copy had not arrived even now, and that but for this there might have been a chance [The Irish language writer Dónal Mac Amhlaigh, who lived in Northampton, contributed regular articles to the paper at this time]. Apparently Helga had bought a Belleek jug with the money I sent [ie. as a wedding present]. I went on with the paper.
January 2 Monday: Again I went on with the paper. In the evening Muriel Saidlear rang up and put on the line successively Bobby Heatley, John McClelland, Eddie Cowman, Deirbhle Ní Ceallaigh, Daltún Ó Ceallaigh and finally Tony himself [Heatley, McClelland and Cowman had previously been active in the Connolly Association during the years they worked in Britain]. Apparently they were having the most jollificatory time and Tomás Mac Giolla [ie. the President of “Official” Sinn Fein the Workers’ Party, whose wife May was an old friend of Muriel Saidlear’s] and Peadar O’Donnell had been there. Apparently you could not squash a sardine into the house.
January 3 Tuesday: Pat Bond rang up. Roy Johnston had written to him, apologising for writing one letter instead of three. He wanted him to persuade me to accept Derry Kelleher instead of himself as writer on science in the “Irish Democrat” [Roy Johnston, 1929-2019, had been a member of the Connolly Association when he worked in London in 1961-63. He joined the Republican Movement on his return to Ireland. Derry Kelleher was a member of “Official” Sinn Fein in the early 1970s following the 1970 Republican split and was its Vice-President for a period. He wrote several books on the history and politics of that time]. l told Bond I would think about it, but that they should write direct. Pat Bond threw one of his minor tantrums at this and I told him not to bother his head as I was not bothering mine. He has political St. Vitus dance and does everybody’s work for them. I spoke to Michael Mortimer later [Mortimer was secretary of the Liverpool Branch of the CA, which Greaves was seeking to develop while he lived on Merseyside] and he told me Pat Bond had been on the telephone to him asking him to remind me about my annual subscription, which is Jane Tate’s job, and in any case he was speaking to me himself [Jane Tate was Connolly Association Treasurer]. Of course he just picks up the phone without any thought but that he wants to talk. He embarrassed both Noel Gordon [ie. the Connolly Association full-time organiser in London] and Stella by ringing up about nothing [Stella Bond was wife of Patrick Bond, who was a member of the CA Standing Committee and active in its South London branch. Stella Bond helped out regularly in the CA office as a volunteer worker]. I’m not sorry to lose Roy Johnston, but I’m by no means sure that I want Derry Kelleher, and I’m certainly not going to be “hounded” by Pat Bond’s nonsense. Roy wrote to me already. I will reply when I have decided what to do.
I rang Barney Morgan about tomorrow’s committee meeting [Morgan was chairman of the Liverpool CA branch]. He had forgotten all about it and will not be there. There is something occupying him. Brian Stowell says he is “unreliable”[Brian Stowell was from the Isle of Man. He was active on the Manx language and a member of the Celtic League and the Liverpool CA branch]. He misses Irish classes – no loss since he has no notion whatsoever of languages and pronounces the little Irish he knows with a distinct English accent, the basis the ear. But the “unreliability” may be due to domestic problems. His daughter Fiona is at the university and he probably has much more housework to do. I also spoke to Joe O’Grady, who is coming.
January 4 Wednesday: I woke up at 6.20 with a feeling I would not get to sleep again and nearly got up. I had had a long drawn out “frustration dream” in which every mortal thing went wrong when I was trying to catch a train from somewhere like Mile End into (of all stations) London Bridge. When finally I reached the light the train was announced and I saw the clock two minutes after the time it was due to depart. Now how can the sleeping brain devise these extraordinary turns of events? However, I did go to sleep again, only to dream I was in Birkenhead, which was adorned with buildings I knew were not there. I knew I was dreaming and remember looking at these buildings to see if they were distorted. It struck me that those schizophrenics and drug addicts that build fantastic prison-like structures when given pencil and paper might have a desire to dream. However, this time I lost my way in interminable road works. I decided to wake myself up – which you do by breathing in vigorously (I don’t know if it happens) and I remember looking at some unpleasant fellow and saying to myself in the dream, “I’ll watch and see if he just disappears or fades away as I wake up” – which I did and found it was 9.30 am.! Now I understand there is no “sleep debt”, but I am not sure there is not “dreaming debt” and maybe the consumption of alcohol at a higher than usual rate over the holiday might have engendered it.
Many years ago I used to have very vivid dreams and I said quite deliberately, “I am going to learn how to wake myself up.” There is talk about “lucid” dreams. I think the function of the guard cells which react to an external stimulus could be related to an internal one – one can wake up automatically if feeling unwell. I suppose that while some cells are engaged in the physiological processes corresponding to dreaming, others have been awakened by the guard cells and are commenting on the whole affair in a slightly amused condition.
I went on with the paper. Then in the evening I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady in the Irish Centre and decided on next steps.
January 5 Thursday: I posted off the last of the paper. Stella Bond told me on the phone that the firm that wants to supply our shuttering had gone bankrupt and Noel Gordon was busy looking for another. In the evening Jane Tate told me he had found one. I spoke to Micheál Ó Loingsigh who rang me from Tralee, also to Maolachlann Ó Caollai, who is willing to come to Liverpool again but would prefer Pádraig Ó Snodaigh. He admitted he was a curious lecturer with a perverted sense of humour (which Pat Kilroy ascribed to Joe Deighan!) and commented, “He speaks Irish in German.” He was at Tony Coughlan’s party [ie. his wedding party]. A professor from England went to it [This was Professor Peter Kaim-Caudle, a former external examiner at TCD, and his wife Patricia, who were Coughlan’s friends]. I listened to Haydn’s Harmoniemesse in the evening and was once more impressed with Beethoven’s indebtedness to it. But (I had the score) it was clear that Beethoven solved the problems Haydn could not.
January 6 Friday: I didn’t get much done today. I went to Birkenhead to make purchases and did some clearing up. Noel Gordon rang at 3 pm. The telephone is not installed. I also rang Wilf Charles to say I had the books he ordered. He told me that he had had no communication from Stella Bond or Jane Tate. I found I met him on November 9 and drew a cheque in Stella Bond’s favour on the 10th. She said she did not receive it. Nor did Jane Tate know anything about it. But I remember telling Noel Gordon I was sending it, but he would never think of checking on something that didn’t arrive.
January 7 Saturday: I worked on the rejoinder to Newsinger for “Science and Society”[The American Marxist journal]. Otherwise little.
January 8 Sunday: I finished the “Science and Society” thing but will have to get Jane Tate to type a fair copy and carbons.
January 9 Monday: I went to Ripley [ie. to check the lay-out of the monthly “Irish Democrat”] – had a shocking time. The train rumbled to a halt on Runcorn Bridge and missed the connection at Crewe. Hence £7 on a taxi. And the printer’s linotypes are worn out and he is doing photosetting, which the compositors are not used to. I got back reasonably easily.
January 10 Tuesday (London): I went to London and Noel Gordon met me. He had very bad news. Toni Curran went into hospital for a hysterectomy. When they opened her up, they found a cancer too far advanced for operating. Noel thinks there is virtually no hope. Gerry Curran is distraught, but the boys have not been told. Very unusually Pat O’Donohue stayed a couple of hours drinking with us after the Standing Committee meeting. We decided to replace her with Noel Gordon as director [ie. of Connolly Publications, the company that owned the “Irish Democrat”]. We meet in the office attached to our new bookshop at 244-246 Grays Inn Rd. It is great to be back in Bloomsbury. As well as Noel Gordon and Pat O’Donohue there were Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Philip Rendle (who said nothing and left early), Helen McMurray and Steve Huggett. Charlie Cunningham was there doing carpentry. He has helped substantially with the premises. Roger Kelly came in late.
January 11 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to the premises with Noel Gordon and later returned to Liverpool. He told me that when Myant [ie. Chris Myant, assistant editor of the “Morning Star” paper but politically at loggerheads with its editor Tony Chater] goes to Belfast he no longer stays with Madge Davison but with Michael Morrissey, who has turned out a very nasty piece of economist work. At Euston yesterday who should be waiting but Bert Ramelson [Former CPGB national organiser]. He told me he was waiting for Tommy O’Flaherty to arrive from Dublin, apparently for the Executive Council – Chater and Co. seem to have forestalled this by announcing their rescue plan this week [There was a battle at this time between Chater, the “Morning Star” editor and other CP “hardliners” on the one hand, and the “euros” of CPGB Head Office on the other for control of the daily paper] . So the battle will rage and they’ll be lucky if there’s anything left. Noel Gordon didn’t know any reason why Flaherty should be coming so early, or why he was coming at all. He took over Betty Sinclair’s job in Prague [ie. as a party representative on the board of the “World Marxist Review”, which was published from that city at the time] and while there became a rabid “Euro”; so he’ll be popular with Ramelson and Co. He says Jimmy Stewart is a trifle cool towards him [Stewart was CPI secretary in Belfast]. They were all blowing off about how they had compelled the CPGB to accept the “declaration of intent” [ie. that the British Government should be urged to adopt a policy of working towards Irish reunification in cooperation with the Irish Government]. Noel Gordon or Roger Kelly – I forget which – rounded on them and said, “You did not. It was Mairin Dillane of South London Connolly Association.”
In the evening I met Michael Mortimer at the Irish Centre. Barney Morgan did not come and Michael said he spoke somewhat brusquely when he telephoned him. There is something wrong with Barney, possibly domestic problems. Brian Stowell was there and Joe O’Grady [These were all members of the Liverpool branch of the Connolly Association].
January 12 Thursday: I went to Manchester and saw Wilf Charles. He told me he knows Costello well [Mick Costello was a leading CP “hardliner”] and thinks now that things have altered, the Connolly Association might be more acceptable to the Manchesters [ie. that there might be more support in Manchester left-wing circles for the Irish issue]. But I don’t think they would dare to take the Irish question off Myant [Chris Myant was in charge of Irish policy in the CPGB at the time but was critical of the Connolly Association’s policy as being too “nationalist”]. There is going to be some very heavy in-fighting. Wilf Charles thinks Costello is genuine – he knew him well in Manchester. He told me it was Tommy Henry who, living next door to him in Moss Side, got him interested, and Pat Devine, who was his main mentor [Tommy Henry was a veteran Manchester CA member and a colourful character. He had died some years before this. Pat Devine was a CPGB veteran with who had worked in Ireland in the past]. Like many more, he was bemoaning the state of the CP. We discussed a possible Connolly Association branch.
At Lime Street [ie. Liverpool’s train station] we met John Gibson and Veronica Gibson [Liverpool CPGB activists]. They said the “Irish Democrat” was the only monthly they read right through. They said Hathersage Road was in a shocking state [ie. where the Manchester CPGB office was] and the two organisers there were strong “euros” and not much better than Coughlan[a previous CPGB organiser in Manchester]. But they gave Blevins a good name [Blevins was CP secretary/organiser in Liverpool].
January 13 Friday: I was looking at the damage done by these storms, but as it is still blowing great guns, there is no point in getting Ashford [Ashford was the handyman Greaves used call on to do maintenance work on his house in Birkenhead when that was needed]. Michael Mortimer rang during the day and in the evening I saw him at the Irish Centre. Tom Walsh [Former manager of the Liverpool Irish Centre and a leading figure in the Irish community on Merseyside] was there briefly. But there was more bad news. Just before I left Stella Bond rang up to say that Pat Bond had had a stroke (at 55!) and was in hospital, partially paralysed down one side. She had told Jane Tate, but seemingly Noel Gordon did not communicate with me. It was following the branch meeting. Is there anything connecting this with the strange over- excited nervous energy he has been displaying? I asked if he had been doing too much. She said he had a rest over Christmas.
January 14 Saturday: Another wild stormy day, with the barometer dipping below 29 inches and fierce showers of hail. I only went across the road to the shops. I got precious little done but some cooking and felt generally sleepy. I rang Helga [ie. Helga MacLiam, wife of his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam] to tell her about Pat Bond, and Stella Bond to tell her that Helga had detected good signs among the details I passed on. Helga said she had not seen Tony Coughlan since the wedding. There can be two reasons – the television she installed that keeps visitors away, and possible changes in Tony C.’s lifestyle.
January 15 Sunday: It was a wild day with high winds and hailstorms. The streets were one minute white, the next slushy, the next wet – then it began again. I did not go out but wrote some letters. Michael Mortimer should have telephoned but did not. Stella Bond did not seem quite as confident tonight. Late on Tony Coughlan telephoned. He must be living entirely at 24 Crawford Avenue [ie. Muriel Saidlear’s family home, to which Coughlan had moved following his marriage]. He was of course upset at the shocking news Cathal had passed onto him.
January 16 Monday: I posted off the Newsinger rejoinder, with a copy to Malcolm Brown [A sympathetic academic contact in the USA]. I also wrote to the Pearse Foundation telling them I could not lecture at their seminar as it was a Connolly Association conference weekend. I wrote to Sawtell [Editor of “Artery” art and literary magazine] – who hasn’t much brains – telling him he could put “Jack” Mitchell instead of “Mr” Mitchell in my review, if he ever prints it. He is a rock-hard hard-liner full of absurd jargon and by all accounts is getting worse. I had called Mitchell “Mr Mitchell” – he commended me in one of his reviews – and I would have been happy to be “mistered”. I rang Jane Tate but she was out. Vivienne Morton was there [one of historian T.A. Jackson’s two daughters]. I rang back later and Jane said Pat Bond is much better and expects to be home soon.
January 17 Tuesday: Today was not so bad – a few short showers of hail rapidly melting – but I scarcely went out. I did a little on the paper for the conference and wrote to Pat Bond, Roy Johnston and Tony Coughlan. Roy’s letter was enthusiastic about the wedding [ie. of Anthony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear] : “The best thing that’s happened for ages”, or was it decades? I rang Barney Morgan who had seen Joe O’Grady, who took 15 papers and himself sold 15 at Warrington. One of the reasons I stayed in was that I expected to hear from Noel Gordon, but perhaps his ‘phone is not yet installed. A damned nuisance.
Tony Coughlan had brought me the “Sean O’Casey Annual” and I had another look at it. It contains some of the most abject nonsense I have ever seen in my life – and I’ve seen my share! It struck me that if young Sawtell gets cold feet (or blood pressure) and doesn’t publish my review, I’ll publish a pamphlet on the whole thing.
January 18 Wednesday: I did a little more on the conference statement, went out to buy in food and wrote to Brian Wilkinson and McKenna of the National Library. Noel Gordon rang from a call box. Still no phone in the office. He has sent out the invitations to the “opening” but the artistically gifted young lady, Geraldine, who was to have done the signwriting has not shown up. But a man passing down Grays Inn Road said to Noel, “I’m a sign writer. Would you want any work done?” So he may get the job. I spoke to Stella Bond. Pat Bond is better still and may be out on Friday. But she is going to have trouble controlling him. He can’t be still and is always getting a lather up. Roger Kelly went to see him. Already he was demanding that this be done and that be done and cursing and blinding if it wasn’t. He’ll give himself another one if he doesn’t ease off. I might go to London on Saturday to see the two of them, I thought, and arranged it with Stella. Later I spoke to Pat O’Donohue and arranged to go out to his place on Friday. I will be able to do one or two things in London and see Toni Curran as well. She is in hospital for, I presume, some chemotherapy and I suppose there is a sporting chance. But my experience does not encourage me to be hopeful.
I see on the “Manchester Guardian” an account of the struggle over the “Morning Star”, with pictures of David Whitfield, Chater, Gordon McLennan and Myant, who is the designated replacement for Chater [Chris Myant, assistant editor of the “Morning Star” was one of the “euro-communist” faction whom the CPGB leadership wanted to take over the “Morning Star” from its then editor Tony Chater]. That gentleman, as I noted, jumped the gun and signed a £650,000 contract for a new press and they are all wondering how he did it. Even from my distance I can see there has been a desperate web of intrigue and treachery. However, I don’t expect repercussions among the Irish, who have a different “law of motion”. It would be pleasant to be able to knock their heads together. I was amused at Myant’s picture – a baby face with a slight Mona Lisa smile and the eyes of an assassin.
January 19 Thursday: I didn’t get much done today. The weather is turning cold again. I did a bit on the conference statement [ie. for an impending conference of the Labour Committee on Ireland in London at which he had been asked to speak]. Signora Barone sent me a review (from the USA) of my book on O’Casey [She was an Italian academic who was interested in Ireland]. It is a mixed bag. I took another glance at Mitchell’s [ie. the book on Sean O’Casey by Professor Jack Mitchell, then teaching at the Humboldt University, East Berlin]. It is woeful. I wonder just what mixture of stupidity and sectishness can produce this self-righteous word-processing. It is not, I think, conscious dishonesty, but the extremity of factionalism, so that having taken up his position (against Easter 1916), he feels any verbal juggling or legerdemain is allowable. There is still no telephone at 244 Grays Inn Road [ie. the newly rented Connolly Association office and bookshop].
January 20 Friday (London): I left for London on the 11.35, which took over three hours. I called in to 244 Grays Inn Road and met Noel Gordon. The place is beginning to look straight but there is still no telephone. Jane Tate came and expressed disquiet at the state of the CP and the stupidity of the “left” who broke all the rules and got themselves kicked out. Of course Myant, as the Executive Committee nominee for the post of Editor, is going to draw upon himself the hatred of the “left”, a process I would not wish to see interfered with, though one would not be so foolish as overtly to encourage it. Let him do and let him learn.
Later I went out and stayed the night with Pat O’Donohue.
January 21 Saturday (Liverpool): This was a strenuous day and I was tired when I got back to Liverpool. Pat O’Donohue and young Thomas (A five-year- old of almost unlimited energy but a lovely kid) went with me to see Toni Curran. She is quite bright and cheerful and thinks she has a sporting chance. Bob Wynn was there. She has her ups and downs, as the doctors are trying a new chemical therapy which succeeds in one case in seven. There is, so to speak, a sporting chance. Bob Wynn said that he doubts if there is a single journalist on the “Morning Star”. So things are evenly balanced. There isn’t a politician on the Executive Committee [ie. of the CPGB]. Both he and Toni Curran are disgusted with them. But unlike Wilf Charles, who would back Chater, Wynn says he would not trust him out of his sight and he must have got some assurances before he would buy a printing press on which he said you could print the “Liverpool Daily Post”! Incidentally, Conor, also studying physics, has been offered a place at Liverpool which he is inclined to prefer to Manchester [Conor was one of the two sons of Gerard and Toni Curran]. Bob Wynn is lecturing very well and has deferred work on his history of the Agricultural Workers Union so as to remain with Toni all the time.
Bob Wynn drove me to Ealing Broadway and I went to Grays Inn Road and met Noel Gordon and Jane Tate. Then I went to Maze Hill. I used to get out there when I went to the Fuel Research Station in 1937 and ‘38. It has been tarted up and though I recognise the surroundings I did not recognise the station buildings. At the Greenwich Hospital I saw Pat Bond. Stella Bond and her daughter were there. Pat Bond’s voice is faint, but he can articulate fully again. Apparently he has had high blood pressure for six years and has been taking pills for it, one might add, instead of altering his life-style. I told him that if I were his doctor I’d scare the shit out of him until he promised to relax. But he didn’t want to be bored. I would have thought there were other antidotes to boredom apart from working at full stretch with the utmost impatience every waking hour of your life. But he is not interested in ideas, only in action.
Stella Bond came away with me. She told me that they had been sending out the “Irish Democrat” subscription copies, after which he went into the public house opposite and had a glass of beer. That he could relax while he was drinking it one could not hope. When he came out with Stella, he told her he “felt funny”. But he still stopped on the way home to sell the paper in one or two pubs. Later she noticed that the brake, operated by the right foot, was not working properly. It was of course not the brake but his right foot over which he was losing control. He managed to use the left foot at the final traffic lights and stopped with difficulty using the hand brake. She got him into the house where he collapsed. But in ten minutes she had him in hospital. She is most capable and one of the most sensible women I have ever met, with absolutely no nonsense, not a scrap.
I told her that Jane Tate and I had been discussing the problem of making him take a rest and we thought she should take him on a holiday, to Cornwall or Kerry or the Riviera. He’s plenty of money and the firm might pay. I suggested she should go and see his doctor, who probably just thinks he works in a bank and comes home to watch television, and tell him, “My husband does a lot of social work and gets drawn into more and more of it all the time. Could you not tell him he’s got to have a month on the Riviera and if he doesn’t he’s a dead man as sure as he’s alive.” So I hope she cogitates this. If we can get him out of the way and give a good part of the work he does to somebody else, then at least he will not be able immediately to plunge into activity. And if he has a rest he may find it not unpleasant to take things easier. So then I went back to Euston, had a meal and came on.
Pat Bond’s son Michael has joined the Labour Party. “He didn’t think of joining anything else?” I asked. “Pooh! No”, said Pat, a fair expression of widespread opinion. Letters from Tony Coughlan awaited my return.
I felt the cold when I got out at Lime Street but went straight down into the underground. At Hamilton Square I did not take a taxi as I knew a 64 ‘bus left Woodside at 10 pm. But what a ten minutes. An ice-cold very gusty wind from the South-East – the direction we are unprotected from – made all the road signs clatter. A youngster of about 20, clad only in jeans, jacket, tee- shirt and rubber shoes, was jumping and dancing to keep warm while mouthing imprecations on the weather. At about 11 pm. I looked through the window. The road looked unusually white under the sodium lighting the Government wished on us. It was – there was an inch of snow, which however was all. I hope it is not going to be 1947 over again.
January 22 Sunday: I stayed in all day and did just a little on the conference paper.
January 23 Monday: Much the same – the weather is unpleasant, above freezing point but not warm enough to get rid of the slush.
January 24 Tuesday: It was better today. I went into town and got Geoffrey Bell’s book (Pluto Press) [This book would have been “The British in Ireland: A Suitable Case for Withdrawal”,1984]. It does not even mention the Connolly Association, Latham or Brockway [Arthur Latham MP and Lord Fenner Brockway had proposed a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland in the Houses of Commons and Lords respectively in May 1971; this measure was first proposed by the Connolly Association in a letter to Prime Minister Harold Wilson in August 1968 and had been drawn up by Greaves in proper parliamentary form as a Private Member’s Bill and printed by HMSO]. I also got the “New Worker”[organ of the New Communist Party, a breakaway from the CPGB in 1977] and I see the Spanish CP has split. Looking through a file of “Morning Stars” Jane Tate gave me in London I allowed myself the speculation that the same might happen elsewhere. I see Chater has started up a “Morning Star” readers’ association. The barometer was below 29 inches all day.
January 25 Wednesday: Pat Bond rang in the morning. I told him he shouldn’t be ringing people in his present state. But he told me he was home and in good health and I suppose he is bored. Still I told him not to think he had no reason to be careful. Let him take it as a warning. There is still no telephone in Grays Inn Rd.
January 26 Thursday: There was half an inch of snow overnight, which promptly began to melt and left more slush every hour. I did a little on the conference paper.
January 27 Friday: The weather was milder today, though hardly spring-like. I did a little on the paper, otherwise there was little enough out of the day.
January 28 Saturday (London): I caught the 10 am. train and met Joe O’Grady on it. We both went down to the Embankment and walked across the Hungerford Bridge to County Hall where I addressed the Labour Committee on Ireland school. Geoffrey Bell, the Northern Protestant anti- Partitionist who writes for Pluto Press, was the other speaker. He was not too bad but allowed himself a dig at Engels. I blame the CP for surrendering its “ideological” hegemony and will now talk to these groups direct. I have had the experience (in Leicester) of convincing a rabid Trotsky that though British troops must come out of the Six Counties, that cannot be the first thing to do. The CP are terrified of them. I don’t mind if they’re all lined up in a row! Anyway, it went off well, about 100 there. I went into the corridor and who came up to me but Miriam James, whom I first met 35 years ago when I went to see Geary in Dublin Castle [ie. Professor Roy Geary, the statistician] – she was a secretary in the Statistics department. She has joined the Labour Party in order to take part in the Labour Committee on Ireland and is now London secretary. I think she used to be in the Connolly Association, but a long time ago. I think she was friendly with Fred O’Shea before he went to the bad [O’Shea had been one of the policy opponents of Greaves and the mainstream Connolly Association in the North London branch dispute of 1958-59; see earlier volumes].
The chairman was a young Liverpool whose name I forget. He agreed to announce our conference, but forgot, I think on purpose. Bert Ward was there and went before the end, never attempting to speak to anybody, but writing down all that was said. I gave the miserable creep a few things to write down that his boss, Myant, won’t like [Chris Myant was assistant-editor of the “Morning Star”. Influenced by the “Stickies” of the Irish Workers Party’s/”Official” Republicans British support-group, Clann na hEireann, he was opposed to what he regarded as the nationalist line of the Connolly Association on Northern Ireland. Bert Ward acted as an assistant to Myant]. If you’ve reached the age of indiscretion you might as well be indiscreet. I met a number of other people I knew and others knew me. Philip Rendle was there. He also spoke to nobody. Joe O’Grady went off to his hotel and I went to 244 Grays Inn Road (still no telephone) and saw Noel Gordon, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate. Later Noel and I went out in Camden Town [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” in the Irish public houses of that area].
January 29 Sunday: We had an Executive Committee in the morning. Those present where Noel Gordon, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Philip Rendle, Peter Mulligan, Steve Huggett, Helen McMurray and myself. Joe O’Grady sat in. We had quite a useful meeting. Then Roger Kelly appeared – he had got drunk last night and failed to get up in time. He’s a terror for booze! We had a meal in the Green Parrot – except Philip Rendle – and then went for the opening of the bookshop. About 60 odd people must have come – Charlie Cunningham, Tadhg Egan, Gloria Devine, Bill Hardy waving his will, which divides what he leaves between the Connolly Association and the New CP! He’s fallen out with the CPGB. He has sold his house and now lives in the cellar.
Pat Bond was there, obviously “shook”, slower, less energetic and still with a slight obstruction in his speech. He did not remain late. Stella Bond had not been too keen on his coming but he insisted. No Mayor of Camden, no Lord Stallard, so I had to make the opening speech, which went down well with all but Charlie Cunningham, because I mentioned Tadgh Egan and not himself. This is the damned nuisance of being called on to speak at two minutes’ notice.
January 30 Monday (Liverpool): I had a talk with Noel Gordon before catching the 3 pm. from Euston. There is a political background to Pat Bond’s illness. There has been friction for a long time in South London, one reason being his complete lack of interest in policy formation. I remember R. Palme Dutt’s remarking to me years ago that Pat Bond had got his political education and felt no desire to pass it on to others [Rajani Palme Dutt, 1896-1974, had been a leading CPGB theorist whom Greaves much admired]. It is impossible to engage him in a political conversation and he does not think seriously about the significance of events. He will even brush them aside with, “I’m an organisation man.” The trouble is that he wants to do everybody else’s organising as well as his own. The South Londons have always been inclined to please themselves and often come under obscure influences which Pat Bond cannot detect or estimate except to regard them as critical of himself. When there have been “revolts” I (or Sean Redmond) have had to go down to quell them [Sean Redmond, 1936-2012, was CA General Secretary in the early and mid-1960s. He was now returned to Ireland and working as an official with the Municipal Employees Trade Union and later IMPACT]. One thing alleged is that he put his hand on one of the ladies’ legs while driving her on a paper sale. That might be an accident, I said. Then part of the indictment relates to his habits of telling lewd jokes. On one occasion in the office Noel Gordon got tired of it and had to stop him. Now this is a new Pat Bond. He must be slipping.
While in the hospital and Roger Kelly visiting him, he remarked, “It’s that affair with Doyle must have caused it.” At each branch meeting when the time comes for asking for volunteers for sales Pat Bond throws a canary fit and then says piteously, “I’ll be the only one.” Poor man, they used to think. Then it was discovered that a man called Doyle was going out with him, something he kept dark. There was already ill-feeling. The members are mostly CP and have an unrelaxed mode of leadership which Pat Bond does not help through not imposing the tradition of the organisation itself. On the evening of the stroke he had telephoned Doyle, who having learned that Pat Bond was pretending to be on his own, declared roundly, “I’m never going out selling papers again.” This of course upset your man. I advised Noel Gordon to go there himself once a month. Elsie O’Dowling has broken her wrist.
January 31 Tuesday: I got two more pages of the paper off. Jane Tate rang to say Tony Coughlan had been ringing me. It seems Cal O’Herlihy’s wife has died. I said I would write. [O’Herlihy was an old friend of Anthony Coughlan’s from their student days at University College Cork. It was he who introduced Coughlan to the Connolly Association, bringing him to the meeting of its West London ranch on the latter’s first night in London in autumn 1958. O’Herlihy was secretary of the West London branch at the time and Coughlan took over from him within a year, when O’Herlihy gradually drifted out of political activity].
February 1 Wednesday: I spent most of the day on the paper. Pat Bond rang up to say Luke Kelly was dead at the age of 44 [Luke Kelly, the leading member of “The Dubliners” song group, had been involved with the Connolly Association when a young man in Birmingham]. I had already heard it on Radio Eireann. That villain of a Noel Gordon has not turned in an article on the Connolly Association he solemnly promised for today. He cannot organise himself. Everybody gives out about him! What he does is in spite of himself!
February 2 Thursday: I virtually finished the paper but had to write Noel Gordon’s piece myself. There was a note from Padraig O Conchúir who has been painting the Irish title on the Cardiff branch of the Bank of Ireland. I was only out a few minutes – to shops and post. I’ve been very short of copy this month.
February 3 Friday: I got quite a bit done, mostly letters and clearing up. But there is still no telephone at 244 Grays Inn Road.
February 4 Saturday: I did quite a bit today – got out a list of seeds to order and went into the city to make purchases. A week ago I wrote to Frank Field [ie. the Labour MP for Birkenhead, in whose constituency Greaves lived] pointing out to him the consequences of the scientists’ calculations on the effect of nuclear war. I have received no reply. I think he is not of much use.
February 5 Sunday: In the evening I gave a talk at the Irish Centre. Barney Morgan and Joe O’Grady were there, but no Michael Mortimer [Barney Morgan was the Liverpool Branch chairman and Michael Mortimer its secretary]. Janet Walshe told me he has domestic problems and, what’s worse, is drinking too much. Apparently his former wife has remarried. The elder of his two children, somewhat disturbed by the break-up of the family, is with Michael, the younger with the wife. Janet says the wife is horrible. Some of them think it would be better if he took the other daughter as well. The older one is 15 and still at school. Joe O’Grady will try to contact him.
February 6 Monday: I got hold of Jane Tate in the evening. Still no telephone, still no grill outside the shop. Stella Bond has been away for the weekend. Nothing has been done about the conference. I said I would come to London on Wednesday and if necessary send out the material myself if she could arrange to have it printed in time. Noel Gordon has been out chasing the telephone people. It is getting serious. I ordered seeds – how much time I will get for gardening is another matter! It was wet and blowing. great guns today. This is easily the most unsettled winter for years. It puts me in mind of 1937. That was followed by quite a good summer and I rather expect this. But nothing can be done now. It is impossible to get on the land.
February 7 Tuesday: I went to Ripley today and saw plentiful evidence of the ravages of the weather [Greaves travelled by train to Ripley, Derbyshire, each month to supervise the laying out of the paper by the firm Ripley Printers]. The Derwent had burst its banks above Derby and I would say a few square miles were under water. I never saw it so bad before. On the whole transport was good but the train back from Derby left ten minutes late. It was not scheduled to make an immediate connection at Crewe but the Liverpool train was there when we arrived – but it left before I could get across the bridge. There were announcements at Crewe that the Holyhead sailing had been cancelled and passengers were being sent to Liverpool. A gale was on the way.
February 8 Wednesday (London): The gale came in the night. I was awakened at about 2 am. and after being awakened a second time got up for an hour. Not feeling like sleep in the middle of the night is very rare with me, but the only thing to do is to get up and go back when you feel sleepy again.
I left for London and a woman on the train told me that there had been a fierce thunderstorm at 2 am. So that must have been it. I found Jane Tate and Noel Gordon still without a phone and dithering over the invitations to the conference. I told them to send them out without the phone number. It was solemnly promised for this week – I do not expect it for weeks yet, though Noel has confidence. I came to London to get these things sent out. So I went with Jane Tate to the printer and arranged for the circular to be photocopied. Then I helped with addressing the envelopes in the evening.
February 9 Thursday (Liverpool): I spent the morning in the office. People came into the shop and I suppose about £60 was taken. But I had to lend Jane Tate £100 pounds – otherwise Noel Gordon’s wages would be in jeopardy. The capital costs of stocking the shop came to about £3000. Joe O’Grady has lent £500 pounds and there will be good donations, but finances are tighter than ever, though we are not without recourse. The “Morning Star” had a report of Hobsbawm’s nonsense session under “Marxism Today” auspices [ie. the historian Eric Hobsbawm, a political colleague of Martin Jacques, editor of “Marxism Today”, both of them leading revisionists in the internal CPGB dispute]. The subject was “Labour’s Lost Millions”. That long-nosed rat wants a consensus “cutting across class politics” and they were all wallowing in the marsh. Dave Cook – who lived with James Klugman towards the end of his life when he was demoralised, lost his “faith” and only wanted to “die in the party” – launched an attack on the “Morning Star” and said it needed new policies and new management [Klugman had been a leading CP figure; see earlier volume; Dave Cook was CPGB campaign organiser and a leading “soft-liner”]. He told everybody to buy shares and go along and vote Chater out [Tony Chater was editor of the “Morning Star”; the vote would have been among the shareholders of the People’s Press Printing Society, the co-operative which owned that paper].Chater on the other hand is stumping the country for his new press. I wouldn’t have believed the old man had so much blood in him. I wonder if Cook demoralised Klugman or whether the reverse took place. Anything could happen to somebody who founded his opinions on “faith”. Found them on science and they can be modified in the light of experience. I think Cook and Co. are right to discern new problems. My quarrel is that they prescribe old ones themselves, and rubbishy ones at that. I think from my long experience that the most rare faculty is dialectical thought. Michael Mortimer says that he only has one student a year capable of what he calls “objective reasoning”. It is another form of the same disease.
Brian Wilkinson sent me a copy of the “Welsh Nation”, in which my verses are very favourably reviewed [ie. his book of poems, “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”; See Vol. 32]. But the reviewer cannot believe that the Longbottom episode actually happened! He calls it a caricature. Actually, everything happened. I forget the name of the Mau Mau man whose bones were broken by the police [ie. in Kenya]. Enoch Powell indicated I was right about Mountbatten. There has been a scandal about the export of devices of torture [These are references to various poems in the collection]. Tony Coughlan talked about nature imitating art, but I knew what they were up to! I had been thinking of a few days in Wales but decided to leave a week or two and try to get the conference preparations off the ground.
I think the CP thing is now moving towards a split. Gaster was premature, that was all. Noel Gordon has been invited to speak to the very “hard line” – they must find another name for this – Haringey CP. Noel objected to being invited to talk on history. “I suppose you’ll follow up with Myant putting the policy,” he said. “Pooh”, rejoined your man, “You should know us better.” “Well, I don’t,” says Noel. “Never mind. We know you.” So though we have not altered our position in years, we are insensibly identified with the Left – I think this the real, though not scientifically satisfactory, description. On the whole the “Right” are a pretty contemptible crowd, interspersed with good people who are caught up in the petty-bourgeois tide. Of course the English working class itself is saturated with petty bourgeois chauvinism. The Welsh, however, are not so bad and I don’t mind the Scots, except those contaminated with Orangeism.
February 10 Friday: I got little done today, which seemed to disappear with neither result nor trace. I had a word with Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan.
February 11 Saturday: I went out shopping after a word with Michael Mortimer. I think he has severe domestic problems. In the evening after the news on the radio there was a programme about Lord Elwyn Jones [ie. Labour Shadow Lord Chancellor]. So I left it on. I was glad I had done so. He was talking about his elder brother, Idris, who captained Wales at rugby, then added: “He was also a very capable scientist.” The penny dropped – Idris Jones! I knew him well over a number of years. I first met him in 1938 and 1939 when he came to do a test on the Fischer-Tropsch plant at Epsom [where Greaves had worked as a research chemist]. I think I met him next in 1944 at Coombe Springs, and I have a sort of vague recollection of J.Godolphin Bennett [Managing Director of Messrs Powell Duffryn] asking him about the election of 1945 and of his replying “in the Labour interest” in a slightly deprecating way. I always understood he was Labour. I do recall J.G. Bennett’s asking in what direction the country was moving and his replying “to disillusionment”. This would be during the Labour Government. I recall going to Pontypridd (I think) and meeting Rhys Jones, his assistant. That was when I was chief chemist. I think Idris Jones went with the Coal Board while Rhys Jones stayed with Powell Dufferin. I greatly liked Idris Jones, a very decent man. As for his Lordship – corruptio optimi pessima [ie. the corruption of the best is the worst].
I bought the “Manchester Guardian” and read it over a pint of Guinness in the Park Hotel. The Executive of the CP invited Chater and Whitfield to attend the Political Committee they had been thrown off to discuss their replacement by Myant and some other fellows. Naturally enough, they declined to go. So it is war to the knife, and war is no less uncomfortable for being incompetently waged. It reminds me of what Joshi told me about the Indian CP: “They could not solve the problem, so they split.” It seems to be heading that way.
February 12 Sunday: So here is the “cold solstice” and quite a mild day – but the very high barometer, over an inch above what it has been; it has so far been one of the easiest winters I have ever known. Of course I had a reasonably late holiday and a break in December. I did some work in the house and had another look at Tony Coughlan’s thing, which is good stuff but too long.
February 13 Monday: I wrote to Noel Gordon, CR in Manchester and Wilf Charles and John Hoffman in Leicester about the conference [ie. the conference on “Irish Neutrality and World Peace” being held in London the following month]. A letter from Gerald O’Reilly [American trade unionist; who had been in the IRA and the 1930s Republican Congress in Ireland] enclosed one from Eamon Martin to a man in Cork about me [Eamon Martin, 1892-1971, had been in the Easter Rising; he supported the Connolly Clubs, predecessor of the Connolly Association, on their foundation in 1938]. He says he assisted with the Connolly book, but that is not correct. He gave me additional information after it was published that I used elsewhere. I finished what was a virtual reworking of Tony Coughlan’s paper. I wanted one to meet the issue “Ireland and World Peace”. He wrote one on “Ireland, Partition and World Peace”. So I had to alter it or we’ll get the sessions mixed up.
February 14 Tuesday: Sunday was mild with cumulo-stratus. Yesterday was cool and bright. Today gave typical radiation weather with a mild sunny afternoon but frosty foggy night. I wrote to Gerald O’Reilly, Paul Salveson and others about the conference. Noel Gordon must still be incommunicado. A letter came from Alan Heussaff [Breton nationalist and Dublin cultural figure] and I answered it. I had done something on the Partition paper but decided to go over it again.
February 15 Wednesday: Pat Bond rang early. He wants me to speak to South London. He told me he does not feel powerful but goes back to work in three weeks and thinks he will be better then. He is already organising South London. I rang Jane Tate, who confirmed that Noel Gordon has no telephone. There is a Finance Committee on Saturday and she says customers are coming in. There was no mail today and I merely wrote to Bernard O’Connell in Birmingham and one or two more. It was cold today with frost night and morning, but the barometer (over 30 inches) is falling slowly. I’ll be glad to see it slump.
February 16 Thursday: I wrote to Niall Power and Tony Coughlan. I am still bogged down “thinking about” the second paper for the conference. There was no mail today. The weather, though not mild, is no longer cold. Certainly this has been the best winter ever and it has not taken a thing out of me. And now if it should be severe it can’t be long.
February 17 Friday: I went into Birkenhead for a haircut and to make one or two purchases. The seeds came from Dobies and Suttons but not from Thompson and Morgans. I spoke on the phone to Seamus Mac Mathúna [Dublin authority on Irish music who had been invited to give a lecture to the Liverpool Connolly Association branch] and Barney Morgan, who is meeting him on Sunday. Apart from that there was not much. Again it was not so cold; no trace of frost. I spoke to Wilf Charles who emphasised the state of demoralisation in the Trade Union movement. I fear he is right. He says only about five people turned up to the CEU branch [ie. the Council of Engineering Unions]. Two years ago they had £2000 pounds. Now they have nothing.
February 18 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London, but it was a waste of money. There was a meeting of the Finance Committee but neither Jane Tate nor Pat O’Donohue had any accounts ready. Jane had had a filthy cold all week and we met in her flat. I trust we don’t all catch it. As for Pat O’Donohue, he gave no reason; so we were reduced to generalities. I came back on the 7.30.
February 19 Sunday: A telephone call came from Birmingham Gaelic League just as I was leaving for the Irish Centre. They are having Ó Snodaigh after he has been to us. Then I went to Seamus Mac Mathúna’s lecture on Irish music. There was the biggest crowd yet – over 60 I would say, and the prospect of one or two new members. Mac Mathúna is a great enthusiast. It was hard to get him to stop! However, it was a huge success – apart from finance, as his expenses were £55. Among those there were Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Janet Walsh, Michael Kelly – indeed all the regulars plus a few more; and Barney Morgan of course.
February 20 Monday: I did little today. There was no mail. It was not freezing but felt very cold, with a strong easterly wind. I went into Birkenhead and was glad to get back. Still no telephone in Grays Inn Rd. I wrote to Noel Gordon. The glass was falling all day and in the early evening there was sleet that turned to rain.
February 21 Tuesday: It was not so cold today, not that there was anything springlike about it, but it was better. Jane Tate rang to say that Noel Gordon was lying in bed all yesterday. “I told him that if we met at your flat, we’d all be laid up,” I told her – not to her intense delight. But as she said, he is easily knocked over. But to make matters worse, he is still off and the telephone people say they will come today. Helen McMurray [ie. Noel Gordon’s partner] is there and Jane can stay till 1 pm. Then later Gerry Curran rang saying he was “off work with a bad back” (He also is easily knocked over, if only by indolence!) and talked of asking Sean Byrne to go in. Then Taunton (otherwise known as fussy-breeches) rang. He thought tomorrow night’s meeting required “the preparation of accounts”. In a way Joe O’Grady is hoist with my petard. I knew Taunton was an accountant and would like to be treasurer, so I headed him off by making him the auditor. He immediately started telling Joe O’Grady he needed a receipt book. Today he wanted to see the London accounts. I told him the branch was founded on the day he was approached and not to bother his head about anything that happened before that day. He has pestered the life out of Joe O’Grady, all for a few shillings.
February 22 Wednesday: I rang Jane Tate in the morning. She said the telephone engineer had called yesterday, done some wiring, then had a look at the basement, pronounced it unsatisfactory and gone to consult his foreman. So we are still incommunicado. She also said she had met the ASLEF organiser, Wronksley, at a party. He is a “hard liner” and was put on the list for a counter-E.C. at the CP Congress – without his consent. Jane Tate says they are behaving like amateurs. Well, if it keeps them busy they will not be able to meddle in Irish affairs, of which their understanding is zero, despite goodwill on the “hardliners’” part.
February 23 Thursday: I finished the paper on Partition for the conference. There is still no telephone at No. 244. Pat Bond rang up for nothing. I think he is bored. A very interesting letter came from Sean Redmond. In December, some 19 leading trade unionists in Dublin invited Ken Livingstone to Dublin. I think I was told possibly by Michael O’Riordan that the Sinn Fein had asked his advice. Anyway, Sean says they are going to form a permanent organisation aimed at balancing Belfast in the British trade union movement and raising the issue of Partition [This became the organisation, Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence, initiated by Sean Redmond].Apparently Merrigan is helping them [ie. Matt Merrigan of the ATGWU]. I wrote back congratulating him. It all illustrates that historically the Connolly Association has had an influence comparable (mutatis mutandis) with that of Clan na Gael [ie.the support organisation in America of successive generations of Irish Republicans from the Fenians to the Provisional IRA].
February 24 Friday: I did little enough today except to go into Birkenhead to make purchases and read the papers. I also did a little revision on the papers for the conference. Jane Tate tells me that the telephone people have dug up Grays Inn Road at several points.
February 25 Saturday: It would be great if we had control of our mental processes. There was never such a fallacy as the notion of “free will”. I didn’t feel like going on revising the paper for 31 March – partly because the “New Ireland Forum”[ie. the conference of nationalist organisations called by the Irish Government to discuss the Northern Ireland issue in Dublin] might report – so did nothing on it [ie. for the Connolly Association conference on “Ireland and World Peace” planned for that date]. Then some points on Beethoven’s last period I had been working on earlier this month suddenly generalised themselves in my mind. So I had to have another look at Frida Knight’s book [ie. “Beethoven and the Age of Revolution”, 1973]. Unfortunately, I have lost my copy of Rutland Boughton [English composer, 1878-1961, of communist political views. It is not clear what book Greaves was referring to here, possibly a book on Boughton’s extensive musical compositions].
February 26 Sunday: I started rewriting the paper. I have changed Tony Coughlan’s out of recognition too, but that is more satisfactory. Although one of Phyllis’s snowdrops has been out for a fortnight and the daffodils are pushing up vigorously, it was cold and dull though not freezing, and though the barometer fell it seems to have thought better of it. I stayed in.
February 27 Monday: Another dull chilly day. I posted off three pages to Ripley. Noel Gordon rang, saying there was still no telephone, but half Grays Inn Road is torn up. My suspicion is that they delayed connecting us until they were ready to undertake this work. Noel and Pat O’Donohue meet the Greater London Council committee tonight over the grant we are asking for. There is talk of £16,000. But if we get it will it be tax-free? I listened to some of the Cheltenham debate and the Government seems to have had a deservedly rough time. They are a shocking bunch.
I have listed the books I must get for the history of the Irish working class [ie. a project he had been considering but did not proceed with]. I’ll have to draw money from reserves. I have lost the Connolly Association £100, and they owe me a couple of hundred more in expenses etc. I would really like to get on to the aesthetics. Having got out the poems I would feel something was accomplished if that oldest of all my projects was finished. I wonder how many years I’ve got!
February 28 Tuesday: I went to the Irish Centre where there was to be a committee meeting. Michael Mortimer came 15 minutes late, then Joe O’Grady from the Irish class with a message that Barney Morgan had telephoned saying he would not be there. He is, as Brian Stowell said, rather unreliable. Joe O’Grady had written a ballad about the gale in which Janet Walsh’s window was blown out. The police came to look at it. I don’t know whether it was a policeman or policewoman, but Janet who typed it out typed “policeperson”. She is crazy on phraseological feminism, and it is all nonsense. Of course Latin is not taught now, and “persona” – a mask – does not go through their minds. But it is coming to something if the sex of every individual must be concealed. I reported a “nine-man delegation” to Dublin. I was told by some of them she had complained. Why? Because she said she’s not a man.” “Since when?” I asked. “Is she a dog?” Now she would prefer dog common gender there! But perhaps she would better still like “canine”.
We held the committee meeting. I am anxious that Michael Mortimer should go to the conference in London and I think he will. Brian Stowell came in and O’Donovan, the Muslim who goes to the Irish class. Young Stephen Dowling and Tony Birtell came in. They are in this “Irish Freedom Movement”, which I suspect of being an offshoot of the “Revolutionary Communist Party”. But they’re not bad kids. They came to our last lecture and asked for permission to announce a demonstration. Barney Morgan refused to allow it, quite rightly, but they accepted it. Birtell is up to some other nonsense – a group of Liverpool Irish people for, I imagine, mutual admiration. O’Donovan drove Brian Stowell and myself back to Prenton.
March 1 Thursday: Noel Gordon rang to say there was no phone yet. The shop is taking about £60 a week, but there is no grill or sign. And money is very tight indeed. We are hoping for a grant from the GLC [ie. the Greater London Council], but it will not be for some time. I worked on the paper. I sat up until Tony Benn was returned [Labour left-wing politician Tony Benn was returned to Parliament in a by-election in Chesterfield. He had lost his previous Bristol seat in the 1983 general election that gave Mrs Thatcher’s Conservatives a 144-seat majority following Britain’s success in the Falklands War].
March 2 Friday: I went into the city to make purchases and did one last article for the paper. I wrote to Noel Gordon, Martin Collins, editor of “Labour in Ireland”, and the Birmingham Gaelic League. It was a wild cold day today with a gale blowing. A notice at Lime Street said that the Holyhead-Dublin sailing was cancelled. A plate glass window was blown in at the Co-op shop opposite. I’m seeing odd incidents just now. On my way to town on Wednesday I saw a van which after passing me emitted a loud bang. I thought something had fallen off, but there were two piteous weak screams and a dog died. It must have been thrown over the top. Some boys moved it to the side of the road. Then on the way back the escalators were not working. A woman walking down was seized with vertigo and clutched me. I managed to steady her and told her to walk up and get a lift – there is a lift for disabled people.
March 3 Saturday: It was milder again today, a good sign. Crocuses are out. Tony Coughlan sent Newsinger’s attack on my O’Casey [ie. on his book “Sean O’Casey: Politics and Art”], disguised as a review. He is great at quoting from his unpublished papers! In the evening Frances Joyce of Birmingham Gaelic League telephoned. We are “lending” them Padraig Ó Snodaigh for 20th March [Ó Snodaigh worked in the National Museum in Dublin and published Irish-language books. He had been invited to give one of the Liverpool CA branch lectures]. They will allow us a bookstall and contribute the collection to our expenses. Noel Gordon thinks he can borrow Steve Huggett’s car and he may take Helen McMurray. I rang Peter Mulligan who said he would come and try to bring Dónal Mac Amhlaigh [ie. the Irish-language author, then living in Northampton]. I wrote to Mark Clinton, Bernard O’Connell, Ladkin and others, also to Rynie, Doswell, Baruch, Hoffman and others about the conference, also Tony Coughlan. This gathering of the clans in Birmingham signals another assault on that difficult city. But this time I shall not even bother to consult the CP. McNally would addle an egg without breaking the shell [McNally was the local Birmingham CPGB secretary/organiser]. The Gaelic League in Birmingham runs a monthly Mass! But what do you start with? People who are interested in Ireland. The CP are not, or they would not have wasted the great emigration, and years of my time, in trying to educate them.
March 4 Sunday: I did little a little more on Tony Coughlan’s paper – revision – and in the evening went to the Irish Centre where Uinseann MacEoin [Irish architect, conservationist and historian] gave a good talk on Irish buildings to a rather smaller audience than usual. Barney Morgan brought the wrong projector.
March 5 Monday: I met Uinseann MacEoin at Lime Street at midday and took him to Chester, which interested him. He told me that he visited the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis to “estimate the atmosphere”. He said they were all young fellows between 25 and 35, going to conquer the world, and already on top of it. Like me he didn’t like the EEC orientation. He thought the “Democrat” rather kind to Justin Keating, who was up to his neck in Fine Gael [Justin Keating and his wife, whom Greaves knew well, had become close friends of Garret and Mrs FitzGerald at this time]. Of the Workers Party involvement in forging he thought they were getting too old to rob banks so that they had to look for some other source of ready cash. One of them has fled the country – Lynch I think the name was. Uinseann took the B. and I. boat and refused to accept expenses.
March 6 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and the least said the better. He is printing four pages by means of unidentified flying objects and they are miles behind. The 6.30 was late, missed the connection at Crewe and I had a twelve-hour day.
March 7 Wednesday: I finished revising both the papers and posted one to Tony Coughlan. Noel Gordon rang. He can send calls but receive none, and the engineer has called twice. He seems more hopeful of the conference than I am. I wrote to Hoffman, Bernard O’Connell and others.
March 8 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the day and saw Noel Gordon, Jane Tate and for a second Steve Huggett. I told him about Sean Redmond’s Trade Union operation and we decided to invite Merrigan to the conference. Noel seems more confident than I about the attendance. Seemingly Myant is coming; so they must be afraid of it. There is a young lad running the London District Committee Irish Committee [ie. a CPGB body]. They had asked Ken Gill [prominent British Trade Unionist and member of the TUC General Council] to address a meeting on Ireland. He declined (1) because he does not agree with the CP position, (2) because he has members in Northern Ireland. “Pooh”, says Noel Gordon to Gilhooley, as the youngster is called, “Ignore the first. The second’s enough.” Gilhooley accused him of being something or other – a “leftist” I think. But Pete Carter – the man who when in Birmingham tried to drive Mark Clinton into the arms of Clann na hEireann – took 200 copies of the conference invitation. Carter himself and Myant are calling an “industrial” conference on Ireland and have invited Joe Bowers who, as we know, has “gone soft” [Bowers was a leading Belfast member of the CPI]. Another interesting thing is that the London District Committee, now increasingly “hard line”, decided not to call a conference on Ireland for fear of incurring disfavour in St. John Street, with whom they have differences enough already. St.John Street [ie. where the CPGB Head Office now was, having sold their previous office in King Street] are simply sacking people in ones and twos, said Jane Tate.
Apropos of Uinseann MacEoin, he thinks Peadar O’Donnell has a similarity to De Valera in the high opinion he has of himself. Well, that has enabled them both to live to be 90! Peadar is coming to London for us on Easter Sunday. He says Roy Johnston is simply “selfish”. He deplores modern dress as parallel to modern buildings and has a definite distaste for “jeans”, which he thinks are sloppy and undignified. For himself he dresses well, not flashily but after the classical mode.
I got back at about 10 pm. A letter from Mark Clinton said he will see me in Birmingham. Peter Mulligan is coming (to the Ó Snodaigh lecture). Also Helen McMurray and Goley Mulligan. We may hold our conference in Birmingham [ie. the Connolly Association annual conference]. Noel Gordon is much brighter after the return to Central London from dreary Battersea. Mark Clinton has a copy of “Four Letter Verses” and knew about “By the Clock It Is Day” [ie. Greaves’s first book of poems, published jointly with his friend Alan Morton in 1946].
March 9 Friday: A letter from Gerald O’Reilly said Anne Reeve had called in to see him. He sent me her address. Also, Fergus D’Arcy asked advice about getting permission to photocopy “Irish Freedom” [ie. the original Connolly Club/Connolly Association monthly newspaper, predecessor of the “Irish Democrat”]. I had a word with Peter Mulligan about this as he also wants a copy. Incidentally, there was a slightly extenuating circumstance in the Ken Gill issue that I omitted to credit him with. He is nearly 60 and threatened with compulsory retirement. He is trying to persuade the Union to alter its constitution so as to give him an extra five years, and it is for this purpose that he needs the Six County votes. After he has got it possibly things might be different. One certainty about all these Trade Union officials: they are experts in the art of survival.
March 10 Saturday: I got precious little done today. I have a slight cold and feel tired. The daylight is increasing at the rate of four minutes a day, but the weather is dark and cloudy though not cold. There is nothing more dreary than waiting for the winter to end. The crocuses are out and the daffodils just beginning to bend over, but the forsythia is not in bloom.
March 11 Sunday: I put in a fairly useful day clearing up. Last night I drafted parts of a preface to the unwritten “Aesthetics”. There would be a mass of work to be done, but I know so much better now how to do it. Today I found the reference the Grattan Flood’s account of the Caerwys Eisteddfod in R.W. Joyce [author of “Irish Names of Places”], which Flood does not acknowledge though he praises him in the text!
I had a word with Tony Coughlan, who has agreed to my revisions of his paper. They related not to content but to our agenda. Noel Harris has had a heart attack, but I thought I would wait till we have the text before inviting Merrigan. Will Myant and Carter muster their myrmidons, if they have any? I grow retrospectively increasingly contemptuous of the role of the CPGB on Ireland. I was too close to giants like T.A. Jackson and Gallacher, who hid the pygmies behind them. The secret was that given away to Bob Wynn: their Scottish members. If there were an independent Scotland unable to determine English policy, they would be free to deal with Ireland. But their chains were forged long ago. When I was first anxious to work full-time for the CA, Idris Cox did everything to delay a decision. Finally, Isabel Brown asked, “What is Desmond going to live on while he’s hanging around?” Cox had been in trouble and didn’t want more. I expect, however, we now have the explanation of why Kerrigan [CPGB national organiser in the early 1950s when Greaves went full-time on Irish work]moved heaven and Earth to have it stopped, but failed. After that it is safe to say that I got no help, none whatever. I went to see Cohen in Coventry: “Under all circumstances, the Irish question will be my lowest priority.” He at least was frank. Then there was Harry Bourne! When we sent somebody up to organise Birmingham he recruited him to the CP and promptly took him off working with the Irish. But it was mainly stupidity. There were some places you could deal with, Manchester being the best. Now of course the CP reluctance to move on Ireland was spotted by Michael O’Riordan [ie. the General Secretary of the CPI in Dublin], who complained, and they set up those fool committees charged with finding something to do about the Irish question that will not upset their Scottish members, who believe they are sitting on a volcano. So they placate the Scottish Orangemen and get the votes of the Ulsterman. What better arrangement? And Myant, who considers himself thereby to have “solved the Irish question”, names his children after his Belfast friends! The trail of opportunism stretches back over the years and would seem to be far from a finish.
March 12 Monday: A letter came from Niall Power saying quite a few of the Labour Committee on Ireland were coming to our conference. It also said that Roger Symons, the Manchester CP man, wants to go and they will try to get a car. I called in to John Gibson [Liverpool CPGB activist] in the afternoon and he did not give Symons a very good name, saying that on the Irish question he was “to the right of Myant”. I told him he had spoken me fair when I met him. “Ah well: there’s nowt so queer as folks.” He told me that Gordon McLennan had been given a very rough ride at a recent meeting and had been reduced to “near apoplexy”. But he is coming again. He says that Ken Gill has lifted Michael Costello’s wife! He also drew attention to a series of advertisements supporting Charlie Woods, who put his name to the pamphlet written (Jane Tate says in Holborn) with its absurd proposal of kicking out the Executive Committee holus bolus. He asked me what I thought would be the outcome of the “Morning Star” episode. I said the odds were they would lose the paper, but that they had a sporting chance and that if it came off it would be a feather in Chater’s cap, though I have no time for him. He said Symons is a lazy bone.
I rang the SDLP to ask if they were affiliated to the Labour and Socialist International. The General Secretary – Eamon Harris, I think – said they were. He was very amiable and said he was reading my life of Connolly. Almost immediately afterwards Tony Coughlan rang to say he had got me John Hume’s number but had forgotten to take it home to ring it to me. He was in his “fussy breeches” mood and I suspected married life might have revealed unsuspected snags. His letter arrived by the second post. Muriel Saidlear had had an operation and was lying in bed where she was likely to remain for two weeks. I wrote to tell Pat Bond, Noel Gordon and Michael Kelly. I also wrote to Padraig Ó Snodaigh and Colm Power. Noel Gordon told me that the GLC funding is entering final stages.
Among the Woods advertisements was one from Michael Crowe.
I looked at some old journals from 1934-35, which I found recently. I can recognise myself, but what to do with them? I don’t feel like destroying them. But I don’t feel like preserving them. Parts of them read like the “New Statesman’s” satire on Mrs Thatcher – the diary of a 16-year-old grocer’s daughter. Indeed, the keyword is precocity. Then there are things omitted of greater weight than what is included, which I can date. Having decided not to waste time writing memoirs, I suppose I should keep them in some form. Re-write extracts and add further recollections? This would be a kind of. “memoirization”. And I could leave out all the unimportant schoolboy intrigues and competitions and accounts of people I never saw again or particularly wanted to. Some of the incidents recorded I cannot recall at all.
March 13 Tuesday: I received a letter from Dermot Nolan [a CND activist in Dublin]. It had taken a week to arrive. Later I learned it had come via Noel Gordon. The letter told me that the E.C. of the CP is pursuing the battle against Chater and Whitfield relentlessly. Nothing will suit them but their removal and they have called on the entire membership to vote against them in June. He said this was in the “Manchester Guardian” and that the “Morning Star” will carry their statement in full tomorrow. They are set on a collision course. Of course it’s no use talking to them, or I would. If McLennan would meet Chater privately and seek a compromise that would save faces all round. Would that avoid a split and all the consequent years of bitterness and resentment? Not if the policy McLennan wants the “Morning Star” to pursue is, as one fears, very radically different from the present. The “Manchester Guardian” says that Chater refused to print an article on the 50th anniversary of Lenin and describes him as “hard-line pro-Soviet” and Gordon McLennan as “liberal”. I got the successor to “Cyffro” – that too is a trifle “liberal”. It was raw and damp and cold but I went shopping and met McAuley, who said he had not had a call from Barney Morgan for ages (like me) and wondered why.
March 14 Wednesday: I went into the city for the “Morning Star” and read the Executive Committee statement [ie. the E.C. of the CPGB]. I think their statement of their accustomed rights is fair enough. But what are the political circumstances in which they are exercising them? That is a different matter. They are gunning for Chater hot and hard and they notice he has set up a network of support groups. I see also he has seven journalists on his side. Anyway, I went to Shaw Street and saw Margaret McClelland and Blevins [Liverpool CP officials]. She is in a shocking state, smoking like a chimney and complaining of a fierce headache. She says of the E.C./“Morning Star” crux, “It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.” She thinks it is based on personalities. If she is right, then they have all surrendered their political responsibilities, “lost their faith” like Klugman and (as I put it to her) are “behaving like big kids”. But I could see the demoralised state she is getting into, expecting further defeats, and fascism round the corner. Blevins is putting a brave face on it. The premises have been burgled for a second time in three months. There is a burglar alarm supposed to ring in the police station. If it did they took no notice. So of course this makes them think of fascism. Now this may be what is affecting Michael Crowe, who is tied up with the CP battle. I cannot see what contribution I can make to it. As Joshi said, they cannot solve the problem, so they split. It all arises from that. If I were able to solve the problem for them and hand them the answer on a plate, they would take no notice of it! The engines have been put in operation, the objects have acquired their momentum, and words cannot prevent a collision, probably with fatal results. Now if Gordon McLennan were strong, which he is not, he just might get away with an agreed moratorium on discussion and the appointment of a Commission. But they want their constitutional rights when exercising them will ruin them.
This has been a chilly gloomy month. There was just a little very hazy sunshine today. The daffodils are just beginning to bend over. But I think I am getting a cold. A damn nuisance. Up to now this winter has not been too bad, but it is beginning to drag.
Before I went into town I listened to Mozart’s D major quartet, opus 575, of which I have the score. I always enjoy it. But when I came back I put on the “Archduke” trio. It is, I suppose, the summit of the “second period” and I was fascinated by it when I was in my twenties. The Mozart has not dimmed, but the Beethoven has, except perhaps for the scherzo. The transitional and third period Beethoven is another matter. That would not cloy. Of course radio is not satisfactory where there is any great contrast in the timbre and volume of the instruments. Hence it is bad for choruses and piano/strings combinations. The piano drowns everything. But all this apart, I have a feeling that I may shortly be starting work again. I told Skelly [Manager of his publisher Messrs Lawrence and Wishart] I was taking a rest from writing and I have done so.
March 15 Thursday: The weather continues incredibly dark and dull and extremely chilly. A letter came from Peadar O’Donnell, also Bernard O’Connell, whose delegation is going to Ireland in April. I wrote to Noel Gordon and then he telephoned. He seems in good form. I wrote to Bernard O’Connell, who complains we have not helped him with his delegation. But he also says that realising the high standing of the Connolly Association in Ireland has “opened his eyes”. He did not ask us to help because he thought us unimportant, I imagine, and now appreciated that he has been knocking like a stranger on doors familiar to us. However I hope to see him.
I listened to two familiar favourites on the radio – Mozart’s C minor, op.491. It doesn’t resolve. Then Beethoven’s No.5 – that does. I think the knocking at the door has nothing to do with fate. Anyway the door opens – victory in the patriotic war against Napoleon. I saw much in this that I had not spotted before I started comparing themes, noted elsewhere. I must get the score.
March 16 Friday: Another dank chilly day. What has happened to the sun? I went into the city and made some purchases. I spoke to Padraig Ó Snodaigh on the ‘phone. Allen Heussaff said he can’t manage April 1 [ie. for a lecture to the Liverpool CA branch], so I’ll have to stand in, but with what? Noel Gordon is full of optimism, Jane Tate of financial woe. Noel says he was talking to Tony Benn but could not persuade him to come. Colm Power sent a pamphlet containing John Freeman’s speeches, got up in a scarlet cover like the speeches of Chairman Mao [John Freeman, Belfast, of Protestant background, had been Irish regional officer of the British-based ATGWU]. Colm dubbed it “The Orange Road to Socialism”.
March 17 Saturday: A book came from Gerry Curran – Sean Cronin’s “Irish Nationalism”. I have only glanced at it. It is based on a PhD thesis – all the references, all the bibliographies, glossaries etc., but I fear of little value. Indeed it is astonishing that a man who has been active in Republican politics for years should in matters of theory bow to some ridiculous professor, an “educated flunkey of the ruling class”, to become a flunkey’s flunkey.
The chilly weather goes on. It is sufferable, well above freezing, but I don’t feel like gardening or even tidying the house. Alan Heussaff says he now can’t come on April 1. I’ll have to stand in and rang Barney Morgan to this effect.
A yellow crocus Is flowering in the midst of a bed of chickweed where no crocus ever grew before. How did it get there? The bed was dug over in September and planted with winter radishes. It should have been dug again. Could a bird have pulled up a crocus? Surely it couldn’t have come from seed!
March 18 Sunday: I met Pádraig Ó Snodaigh at Chester. He was only lukewarm in his assent to my suggestion that we should spend an hour looking at the city. But his mood changed as soon as he began to see it. We came on to Rock Ferry and James Street. The underground is only operating from James St. so I had judged it unwise to go out last night. We walked up to the edge of Chinatown and had an Indian meal, which incidentally was quite good.
He told me there was a period when Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston were very much at loggerheads. I remember Tony’s tantalising Roy at Muriel Saidlear’s. He seems to have thought Roy could do nothing. Apparently Jack Lynch [ie. when Taoiseach] in order to win support in Cork decided to move a factory from Carlow to the “southern capital”. Ó Snodaigh decided to apply to Roy Johnston, who sailed in with his plan. He arranged a meeting in a Carlow hotel with representatives of the staff of the factory, the Chamber of Commerce and teachers at the local Polytechnic, which would have no function if there was no industry. They went to Carlow and found three groups who didn’t know each other sitting apart. They were representatives of the three interests and Ó Snodaigh and Roy introduced them, and a campaign was fought that saved the factory.
Coming back in the car Roy Johnston raged: “There you are now. Tell that to fucking Coughlan. Tell fucking Coughlan that! Tell him I can work.” Ó Snodaigh has respect for Roy. Now I have caught the edge of the cloud. Tony is likewise unenthusiastic when I talk of bringing him over. Ó Snodaigh spoke of meeting Stephenson or MacStiofáin as he styles himself [ie. the former Provisional IRA leader]. And I think there were differences in the Gaelic League over who was to be president. I was not very favourably impressed by Ó Snodaigh on first meeting him, though not at all unfavourably, but he improves on acquaintance. Uinseann MacEoin on the other hand says of Roy that he’s fundamentally selfish and I think this is what Tony Coughlan feels. Both Ó Snodaigh and Tony could be right.
He told me that the Museum and some other institutions have been transferred to the Department of the Taoiseach [Pádraig Ó Snodaigh worked in the National Museum in Kildare Street, Dublin]. They are pleased. “Anything to get free from the Department of Education.” But the Library remains, for no better reason than to preserve the status of some bureaucrats who would not qualify for “Principal Officer” status if they had less than so many on their staff or less than so much in their budget. I told him that Fergus D’Arcy had asked permission to microfilm “Irish Freedom” and that as copyright holder I had given it but asked him to get in touch with the National Library to see if they wanted a copy made at the same time. He had written me a letter which, while polite enough, showed he was not prepared to take the trouble. “Hm! After asking you to take the trouble! I’m sorry he’s gone like this”. When he goes to London he will stay with Ruth Dudley Edwards. He told me that after the Republican split his sympathies were with the “Stickies”, but they have slowly alienated him. I told him I had Sean Cronin’s new book.
He gave quite a good lecture to about 30 people. Among those present were Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan, Janet Walsh, Michael Kelly and Tony Birtell. The last, together with Stephen Dowling and some others, are planning a ceremony on Easter Sunday. They asked if I was available. I said I would be in London. I had a word with the secretary, Joe O’Connor, and we agreed we could not stop them in any case. But we could try to prevent them from doing anything wild. Joe O’Grady told me Eric Heffer was asking whether I was still in Liverpool. He wants a talk with me because a majority of the Labour Party Executive are in favour of stronger action over Ireland. We may meet during the recess
March 19 Monday: I was in touch with Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, and Stella Bond several times. Noel met Ó Snodaigh at Euston. Finances are grim but we are hoping for funding from the GLC. There is talk of a four-figure sum. Joe O’Grady rang me up. He said that a small group surrounding Birtell – a slightly wild youth with the type of energy that goes with wildness – is setting up a new Irish organisation. They were all sitting at one table tonight and the same thing happened at his Irish class. They segregated themselves. They have elected a president etc. and are writing letters to councillors talking about declaring Liverpool a “zone” where the PTA [ie. the Prevention of Terrorism Act] does not apply and similar silly nonsense. The madwoman who was formerly in the CP, whom Ó Snodaigh thinks “glorious” – he lives 120 miles away from her – is against it and says there are too many already. Of course they are young people who like to form mutual admiration societies. The background is that the Connolly Association, though engaged in educational work, is making no political impact, largely because Barney Morgan is not so active. He says he has a heavy burden of work. I suppose they have cut down National Health Service staff [Barney Morgan worked as a hospital social worker in the NHS]. A letter came from Brian Wilkinson with £20 for the premises fund. I sent it on to Jane Tate with a loan of £80 from myself.
March 20 Tuesday (Northampton): The first day of spring, thanks to the leap year, and a dark gloomy, chilly one too, though there has been no frost. I went to Birmingham, and Noel Gordon, who was bringing Ó Snodaigh and Sean Byrne, not having arrived I went into the Irish Centre. The man in the Galway Travel Agency did not at once recognise me, but on my announcing my name sprang up and reminded me of the civil rights movement in Birmingham of Toal and McDowell [This had been in the early 1970s; see earlier volumes]. Then Mrs Joyce came. There is “something funny about her”. I don’t know what it is. I guess she is a teacher, nervous perhaps. ill at ease. Anyway, I can sense it. Then Noel Gordon, Ó Snodaigh and Sean Byrne arrived. Mark Clinton was due at 6 pm. but we did not wait after 6.30 but went for a meal. There were about 30 at the Irish Centre last night. £80 worth of books were sold. When we got back to the Irish Centre Mark Clinton had arrived. He is teaching now, has three sons aged 2, 4 and 6, is still in the CP but deplores present trends. He sees Don Brayford. The meeting was a success. Collins was there but I did not recognise him. He’ll think I was standoffish. Finally I returned to Northampton with Peter Mulligan.
March 21 Wednesday (Liverpool): We arrived just after midnight. Goley [ie. Mrs Mulligan, who was from Iran] was letting in the Persian New Year and returned about 1 am. Peter Mulligan says she is somewhat depressed and wonders if she is homesick. Again the Iraq/Iran War will not please her. Anyway she ran Peter and me into town. Peter is 46 and looks about 32, not the trace of a grey hair and bursting with energy. I asked him the secret, but he doesn’t know it.
I went back to Birmingham and on to Liverpool. I had had to leave a typewriter in Birmingham because the left luggage office closes before I could return for it. A damned nuisance. I will have to bring it again. Jane Tate said that Noel Gordon had to take Ó Snodaigh to his accommodation in Selly Park. He did not get to London till 4.30 am. He came in but Jane sent him off to get some sleep. Joe O’Grady rang and said “some of them” (I guess Michael Kelly and Janet Walsh) are “cynical” about Michael Mortimer, who rushes off after every meeting “to some club”. I think he is demoralised. He admits it. He is qualified but has no career and his wife who left him and took the children has remarried and dumped them back on him. He told me he spends every night in the public house. He admits he drinks heavily. I told Barney Morgan I would try to think of something to do. The Labour Committee on Ireland want me to do a school for them on May 29th.
March 22 Thursday: Noel Gordon has not yet run off the papers that are to be sent to speakers, etc. though Jane Tate has them stencilled for a week. She, like myself, cannot understand why people fooster about with inessentials and leave undone what is needed at once. I had a word or two about this and represented the need for expedition. I bought some fertilisers and there was a smellof spring at midday, but it soon went back to its chilly dullness and I did nothing in the garden.
I wrote to Ann Reeve, whose address Gerald O’Reilly had sent me [Carl and Ann Reeve had written the book “James Connolly and the United States”]. I am wondering whether to write a pamphlet on Connolly versus O’Casey. Her late husband included a criticism of O’Casey in his work on Connolly and got into hot water with some of the other CPUSA people. I suspect they are behind Lowery [ie. of the American-based “Sean O’Casey Review”]. I also wrote Mark Clinton asking for the name of the chairman of last night’s meeting, quite a decent fellow, also of a very intelligent priest I had a good talk with.
March 23 Friday (London): I went to London on the miserable 11.30 train, which seems to be always late. I met Noel Gordon and Jane Tate at 244 Grays Inn Rd., then went to Foyles and bought scores. The Standing Committee took place at 6.30. Pat Bond usually takes the chair, but I did not ask him if he wanted to. I had a sort of feeling that he would do so if asked, but was not anxious. So I just took it. There were few there. No Roger Kelly no South Londons apart from Pat Bond, no Pat O’Donohue, but Steve Huggett was there.
March 24 Saturday (Liverpool): We went to the “Liberation” conference on “racism”. Stan Newens took the chair [Labour MEP for the London Central European Parliament constituency]. A considerable disturbance was caused by some ultra-lefts from NALGO around an intra-union dispute nothing to do with us. But the sense of frustration of the black community was strikingly shown. Billy Strachan’s young son Chris introduced himself to me. I’d met him when he was much younger. He must be well up in his 30s now. Tom Durkin was there and made a good rousing speech. A man who is on the London District Committee [ie. of the CPGB], I think, and went on their delegation to Northern Ireland had a drink with us. He is evidently a “hardliner” and it seems that London has returned to the fold. He criticised “Marxism Today” and said that in Camden working-class Holborn was “hardline”, petty bourgeois Hampstead was “soft”. Later I saw Helen McMurray who said the grand £500,000 scheme for a grand Irish cultural centre in Kilburn had fallen through thanks to squabbling over who was to run it. The man McGrath who wanted to be grand panjandrum has resigned. And since he wanted to run a bookshop he is very resentful that we have got off the ground. Another Johnny-come-lately is likewise upset. Helen says they’ll just have to be upset. I returned to Liverpool. The first daffodils are out.
March 25 Sunday: The worst chill was out of the weather today. I spent an hour in the garden and planted a red currant. I transcribed more of the 1933 diary. A problem is that at that time I had devised my own system of spelling – there was no end to the things I was prepared to reform. The other difficulty is the expansion of abbreviations of people’s names. I put KNO3 [ie. potassium nitrate] round the cauliflowers.
March 26 Monday: Again it was a tolerable day. The almond blossom is out. I worked on the paper and got off three pages. Patrick O’Connor of the Haldane Society rang up. They are coming to the conference. I wrote to Bruce Kent urging him to send somebody to it. Noel Gordon rang. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan.
March 27 Tuesday: The weather is holding. The radio gives dire warnings of rain, sleet, frost and snow, but we seem to be protected by a public-spirited small depression in the middle of the Irish Sea. I continued work on the paper. I spoke to Noel Gordon on the telephone. Applications for credentials for the conference are still coming in but more slowly.
March 28 Wednesday: I finished the paper and posted it off. Noel Gordon told me there is chaos in London today and no mail arrived. He has seen Clare Short and Ken Livingstone. I spoke to Tony Coughlan and Dermot Nolan rang Jane Tate. Muriel Saidlear is very much better and cooking once more. Apparently the surgeons took pots and kettles out of her guts. This was the pleasantest day yet with temperatures in the mid-fifties though the radio continues to talk of frost and fog.
March 29 Thursday: I did some clearing up. Noel Gordon says Ken Livingstone has pulled out from a multiplicity of engagements. I think there is a substantial bump of careerism and we will see him in Parliament and by no means so far to the left. Noel had been at the House of Commons, but I advised him not to bother. Noel Harris rang up. He has a tumour of the brain which is at present causing no alarm. It has been decided not to operate, at any rate now. He told me he cannot concentrate on reading and decided to go back to work. He wants to speak instead. He suddenly changed the subject – “What about the party? The British party!” he asked in tones denoting severe disapproval. I told him not to bother his head. What can he do? Noel Gordon says Gordon McLennan and Myant are jazzing round holding meetings where their tactic is to speak so long that there is no time for questions. That requires collusion of course. So the two sides are girded for battle and well set to make fools of themselves since they share many of the errors they are fighting over.
March 30 Friday (London): I caught the 10 am. train despite the breakdown on the underground and found Noel Gordon and Jane Tate at the office. They did not want lunch so I went to the Green Parrot, where I was assured of “most favoured customer” treatment, to borrow a phrase from diplomacy. And coming away I found Tony Coughlan, who had been looking for me at the Cosmoba. We met Dermot Nolan at Victoria – that is to say, Noel Gordon, Tony Coughlan and I. I’ve met him in Dublin but did not know, or recollect, that he was a friend of Cathal’s [ie. of his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam]. It seems he was in the TCD Republican Club, but left the “Stickies”, as he now calls them, to join the CPI. We took Dermot Nolan up to Flann Campbell’s and Tony Coughlan went to stay with Cal O’Herlihy [ie. his old College friend from late 1950s UCC].
March 31 Saturday (Liverpool): There was a reasonable attendance at the conference [ie. on “Ireland and World Peace”]. The Labour Committee on Ireland people did not show up. One of the Troops Out Movements was there because he wanted to make an announcement. Myant rang up Bert Ward and told him he had a bad cold and would not be there. In other words the little rat funked it. Ward made a fool of himself and asked to speak a second time to make his (absurd) position clear. We allowed him to do so. Clare Short, Ken Livingstone and Martin, who had agreed to be chairman, did not turn up. Was all this concerted, or any of it, or was a coincidence? Mostly of the last, I think, against a general background. Among those present were Bernard O’Connell from Birmingham, Noel Harris who spoke, Michael Crowe, Joan Hyman and a good representative sprinkling, in all about 100. Joe O’Grady was in good form and Michael Mortimer came in and out like a light. I was talking to Michael Crowe. He says that St.John St have appointed somebody to replace Topping, who got himself expelled from the CP by playing the fool. Noel Harris says he expects Ken Gill to be expelled for voting for Chater in June, and the same will happen to himself. He wanted me to see Ken Gill. I said if he wanted to meet me I would meet him. I also told him I was taking no part in the whole ridiculous exercise, that my position was what it always was and if anybody wanted to do any expelling because of it they could get on with it and expel away. He says that the present plot is to make Freeman Assistant Secretary of the TGWU. I returned to Liverpool.
April 1 Sunday: The lecture was very badly attended tonight, only about a dozen. Some of the young people, Birtell and Dowling, are trying to start a new Irish organisation and have been using our lectures as a point of contact. I suspect they had something on today. Michael Mortimer was not there and obviously Barney Morgan is not as active. The best now turns out to be Joe O’Grady. He is anxious for me to have a session with Heffer [ie. Liverpool MP Eric Heffer whom O’Grady was working for as a Labour Party activist]. Michael Kelly was there, but not Janet Walsh and her group. Pat O’Doherty was there.
I found a letter from Bruce Kent when I got back last night. He thinks participating in a conference dealing with a United Ireland would conflict with the CND’s Constitution. This did not stop him from addressing the CP conference where all present professed to be in favour of Communism!
April 2 Monday: Noel Gordon rang in the morning. Helen Bennett had been present on Saturday and her report is in the “Morning Star”[Journalist Helen Bennett was daughter of Greaves’s old political colleague, Belfastman Jack Bennett]. She told me she had to get Bert Ward to ring Myant before she could get permission to write the report. Anything connected with Ireland must be cleared by him. On Saturday Noel Harris told me that Ward was the best of them and added, “You should hear Myant. He takes everything personally and once threatened to come to blows with me.”
I met Brian Stowell who says it is difficult for him to come to the lectures as he goes to Chester every Sunday. He will make special arrangements for Heussaff’s meeting” [Alan Heussaff was a Breton living in Dublin and a leading figure in Irish language circles and the Celtic League].
April 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. The printer has done all eight pages by his new “high technology” photosetting system and it takes quite twice as long. I caught the 6.30 from Derby. That reached Crewe on time. Indeed all had gone very well with the transport, but the Mersey Railway was closed down owing to a strike. I got a taxi. The Birkenhead tunnel was closed. So we used the Wallasey tunnel – fare £5.20. The taxi man told me a railway man had been sent home for refusing to move a coal wagon and all the men walked off the job.
April 4 Wednesday: I did little enough in the day but in the evening I went to the Irish Centre and met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. Brian Stowell ran me back after his Irish class. The Finnertys were there. Barney Morgan was not there. Michael Mortimer tells me he is working 12-hour shifts at the hospital, possibly looking for extra money, possibly wanting time off. He merely told me he “had a lot on”. He is unpredictable, has a heart in the right place but is totally disorganised. Micheál Ó Loingsigh is coming next Saturday [ie. to speak to the Liverpool CA branch meeting]. I arranged for Michael Mortimer to pick him up and bring him to my place for breakfast. This means I will have to do a lot of work on the house, which is not in a state to receive distinguished visitors. He is bringing his wife.
April 5 Thursday: Noel Gordon rang me in the morning. The GLC [ie. the Greater London Council, then under Labour Ken Livingstone’s influence] has decided to give our bookshop a grant. The sum mentioned is £15,500 pounds. But this we have to wait to hear confirmed. We should know in four weeks. I see from the “Guardian” the split in the CP has widened further. Seemingly they are now gunning for Jim Arnison in Manchester and picking holes in the “Morning Star’s” handling of the miners’ strike – all as part of the campaign to get rid of Chater. One of the criticisms is that the “Morning Star” is boosting Scargill [ie. NUM leader Arthur Scargill], the implication being that it should be boosting McGahey [ie. miners’ leader Michael McGahey, who was aligned with the soft-line “euros” in the internal CPGB dispute]. It reminds me of the time in the late 1950s when the snake O’Shea and his rat acolytes were trying to get the editorship of the “Democrat” for Dominic Behan [ie. in the CA policy dispute involving its North London branch]. I regard it with contempt.
April 6 Friday: Another dark gloomy cold day. There has hardly been any sunshine since the beginning of March, just a couple of tolerable days. The forsythia is only beginning to bloom. I’m trying to secure continuity after Barney Morgan’s collapse. Apparently he is working irregular 12-hour shifts, as Michael Mortimer thinks because he needs the money, or wants it. As a result he does not go near the Irish Centre except to glance in and out. I got Noel to make some posters and send them by rail. I have to make all the arrangements for Micheál Ó Loingsigh – a damned nuisance.
April 7 Saturday: Another dark wild morning. I rang Barney Morgan, who sounded as if he’d been out on the tiles. He does not know whether he’ll be in the Centre but talks of coming on Monday – missing the weekend. When only a dozen came to the last lecture I knew there had been a collapse. Barney had put up a tatty piece of paper with an announcement scribbled on it. He has done this before. He is the apotheosis of indiscipline. So my day was wasted. I went to Copes and got him to put up a notice. Then to News From Nowhere [ie. the Liverpool left-wing bookshop]. I returned at 3 pm. just as Noel Gordon rang. I had lunch, spent an hour in the garden, had tea and then went back into the city and to the Irish Centre where I got them to put a notice as well, Noel Gordon having done the posters in a hurry and sent them by rail to Lime Street. I saw from the “Star” that Nan Green and Lillie Byrnes are dead. Both funerals are on Wednesday. I could not go to London and doubt going to Newcastle. The 8 am. train takes four hours to get there, and to come back for the meeting at 7.30 means leaving at about 3.30 – and if the train is badly delayed I might miss the meeting. Michael Crowe had telephoned Noel Gordon about this. Noel tells me that that unconscionable coxcomb Martin Jacques [ie. the editor of the monthly “Marxism Today”] is going to Newcastle as hammer of the hardliners!
April 8 Sunday: Just the same weather, chilly and sunless. I did a certain amount in the house but didn’t get into the garden. I’ve known this kind of delayed spring before. In the afternoon a man called Declan O’Neill of Manchester IBRG [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group] asked me to do a talk in Manchester in May. I gave him the 16th. Joe Deighan rang in the evening.
April 9 Monday: There were two hours of sunshine in the morning, but soon the cloud was over the sky again with the same cold North wind that AMM [one of his grandmothers] used to say, once it started it went on to the end of June. This dark gloomy weather has lasted six weeks. I went into town and saw John Gibson for a few minutes [John Gibson and his wife were CPGB activists in Liverpool and probably also members of the Connolly Association]. I am worried that next Sunday’s meeting will be a flop. I don’t think Michael Mortimer knows how to ensure success. I had a word with Noel Gordon. He is working on the Peadar O’Donnell meeting. It is amazing what a change in him has been stimulated by the return to Holborn. I think Battersea got him down. John Gibson would not be surprised if the CP was finished by this endless internecine warfare. I glanced at “Marxism Today” and the article by this man Bloomfield in Birmingham. I think he was Clann na hEireann or had some connection with them [Clann na hEireann was the support group in Britain of the “Official” IRA/Sinn Fein, now the Workers’ Party. Its members were encouraged to join the CPGB or Labour Party and because of their hostility to the “Provisionals” they were critical of the “nationalist” policy line of the Connolly Association and sought to undermine support for it in CP and Labour circles]. He seems to be a desperate rat.
April 10 Tuesday: It has been cold but dry for six weeks. Today Douglas Liddell of No.118 started work repairing the fence between the house and No.122. So by late afternoon it was mild and wet, the first West wind for weeks! I managed to do some clearing up but could not touch the garden.
April 11 Wednesday: It looks as if spring is beginning at last. I did some clearing up and in the evening went to the Connolly Association branch meeting. It was badly attended. Barney Morgan is going away for the weekend and is unable to do anything about Micheál Ó Loingsigh’s lecture. Michael Mortimer made a poor report of the conference because he had fallen asleep instead of preparing it. Joe O’Grady is the best of them, but he is 55 and has a weak heart. He thinks Michael Mortimer is still disoriented by the break-up of his marriage. But of course it was marry in haste in the halcyon sixties. We had a word with some of the “peace” people, who had a meeting in the next room. But I think they are incompetent. We may not get our conference until the autumn.
April 12 Thursday: I wrote some letters and did some clearing up in preparation for Micheál Ó Loingsigh’s visit. Liddell nearly finished replacing fences blown down by the gales.
April 13 Friday: Liddell finished the fences, cemented the step and replaced the gate and finally charged me £65. I went on preparing for visitors.
April 14 Saturday: Michael Mortimer brought Micheál Ó Loingsigh and Eibhlín Ní Loingsigh at about 8.30 and I had a grand breakfast ready for them [Greaves was an excellent cook and he usually served devilled kidneys to visitors on these breakfast occasions. Micheál Ó Loingsigh was chairman of the Irish Sovereignty Movement in. Dublin and his business firm, Drogheda Printers, had printed Greaves’s recently published book of poems, “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”]. Later Michael Mortimer took them to the Central Hotel in Birkenhead where a business associate was meeting them. I went down later. We went to the Shaftesbury to deposit their belongings and then went to Chester, which greatly interested them. Later we came back into the city and after a meal in Lime Street went to the Shaftesbury. Micheal Mortimer did not turn up, but Joe O’Grady, Joe Finnerty and his wife, Janice Ward and her boyfriend, were there, and when we went to the Irish Centre Michael Kelly and another came and Micheál Ó Loingsigh met a Tralee man he had not seen for over thirty years. Incidentally, on the way into town I bumped into Halliday [Bryce Halliday, an old schoolmate; see Vol.1], who seemed on top of the world but said he had had a heart attack. He looked alright.
On the way to James St. Michael Kelly told me about Michael Mortimer. Apparently he has never got over the failure of his marriage and though his wife has married again, still hangs around her, doesn’t really go hard for another job, and drinks heavily. I would think that the fact that he came back into politics at all is a good sign, but otherwise he seems to have let himself go. Since Barney Morgan is also as uncertain as you please, there is not much to go on. Joe O’Grady is the best.
April 15 Sunday: Yesterday was sunny and warmer than of late, but it turned cold at night and is cold again today. One or two wallflowers have opened, but Micheál Ó Loingsigh was remarking how backward the countryside looked despite the mild winter. It was at the end of February that the weather went to hell. There has been no frost here, but day temperatures have seldom risen above 50 ‘F.
I went to the Irish Centre in the evening and, in the absence of Barney Morgan, took the chair at Micheál Ó Loingsigh’s lecture. There were only about 18 present – the regulars, Michael Mortimer, Janet Walsh, Michael Kelly, Pat Doherty, his son (a bit of an athlete and a bright youngster of about 21), Stephen Dowling, etc. Micheál gave a very impressive talk and I sensed a raised “morale” (as Tony Coughlan used to call it). Both Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady are talking about coming to London to hear Peadar O’Donnell. I am glad of this. I was reading through my 1934-5 Diaries which I am transcribing. The whole of politics to me then was the exercise of influence on people and much of what seems to me now “teenage” intrigue and its attendant speculation about personalities I am cutting out. I am sure fifty years ago I would have discussed his problems with Michael Mortimer. Now I would regard that as the last thing, but to provide opportunity and express pleasure when it is (or looks like being) availed of is different. He is talking of going to see his mother in Milton Keynes and carrying on to London. I think he is intelligent and has something in him. And this could be the sign of natural recovery under the influence of social factors. He drove me to James Street and Micheál and Eibhlín Ó Loingsigh to the boat. I think they had a great time. There was Chester yesterday, High Mass at the Cathedral today and a trip to the Anglican Cathedral and to Chinatown where they had a meal. The three Gaelic football teams were playing away and Tom Walsh was in Dublin, but the chairman of the Liverpool GAA made it his business to come in at the end and say a few words.
April 16 Monday: The cold weather is back again. How many times have I watched and waited while the wretched month of April drags its dreary way out of winter into spring. And precious little did I do.
April 17 Tuesday: More chilly misery. I went into town looking for a propagator for seeds that will not germinate. But Liverpool has gone to hell. You could hardly buy a bottle of beer! And though I have a few days to clear up in the house, the “privatised” dustmen are on strike and everything has to be stored in old boxes and black plastic bags.
I bought the “Morning Star”. Bill Keable has a letter which states that he joined the CP in 1928 when it was down to 1,000 members. He says that today it is sick with anti-Soviet opportunism and Eurocommunism. I agree, and is interesting to see how this humbug Chater is being compelled to hew another line. No doubt we will have the full story sometime.
April 18 Wednesday: Still the same chill and constant cloud cover. Yet things are growing. I cut the last pamphrey and the first cauliflower. There are swede and turnip tops and chenopodium. The chervil is nearly in flower. If there were a few fine days I could get things going. I did some work on the paper and Noel Gordon rang saying he was going to Birmingham next Tuesday to see Brian Mathers.
April 19 Thursday: More of the same dark sunless weather, but slightly milder. Noel Gordon rang saying he had arranged a Standing Committee for Sunday and arrangements for Peadar O’Donnell’s visit are complete. The “Irish Post” has given a good write-up. Joe O’Grady is going. I bought the “New Statesman” and I see that contemptible little rat Martin Jacques is writing a chatty “diary” in it in which his identification with individualistic middle-class pseudo-intellectual Hampstead was never more clearly expressed. This is the “new image”. Steve Huggett, who has some CP contacts, told me that they tell him that I haven’t got the right “image” for today – too much of the old Stalin tradition. Now since I am never in a position to display this, it must be maliciously put about by the likes of Jacques. Feicimid [Irish for “We shall see”].
April 20 Friday: At last the weather took up. When the sun came out in the afternoon the temperature got into the sixties. I sowed runner beans, taking a chance of possible May frost. They are very rare here – indeed any frost is rare except in bad years. Noel Gordon rang in the morning. He opened the shop in hopes of holiday trade. The change from Battersea has stimulated him and I think he is enjoying it. Elsie O’Dowling has gone away for the weekend and will not be at the Peadar O’Donnell meeting. She is fair but not powerful. Noel goes to read the “Democrat” to her as she used to read to Mrs Despard [Charlotte Despard, 1844-1939, suffragist, socialist, Sinn Fein activist and novelist; born in Scotland; sister of Field Marshal Lord French; settled in Ireland after World War 1 and supported De Valera; joined the CPGB in the 1930s; her house in Dublin was burned down by a mob in 1933].
April 21 Saturday: Another reasonable day, but we are in need of rain. I would say the temperature reached the high sixties in the afternoon, and I mended some supports for loganberries and clematis and sowed another row of runner beans. A letter came from Owen Robert Morris who intends to come to Heussaff’s lecture.
I bought the scores of Beethoven’s last quartets when I was last in London. Tonight the C Minor was on the radio. What a difference having the score makes. I know the work well and exactly what is coming next, but when you can see what it is, that is another matter. It sticks out a mile that though there are seven “sections” there are five “movements” and the last is the first repeated and resolved. At the same time they are not independent movements but dependent sections like the sections of a new type of sonata. I must have another go at this.
April 22 Sunday (London): I left for London early and went to the Standing Committee in the afternoon. Only myself, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon and Pat O’Donohue were there, but we got business done. Then in the evening we had a meeting in the Irish Centre addressed by Peadar O’Donnell at the age of 91. It was one of the most successful we ever had, with £100 taken on the door and a £70 collection. All kinds of people were there – Steve Farrelly, Michael Kelly, that rat Callinan [an old political antagonist of Greaves’s from the North London CA branch dispute of 1957-8], Joe O’Grady who went with me on the train. Paddy Byrne and I spoke with Noel Gordon in the door. Robbie Rossiter was there and Chris Sullivan [These were longstanding Connolly Association members in London].
April 23 Monday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool – not a cloud in the sky – and again with temperatures in the high sixties. This sudden decisive change is a good sign, likewise the very high temperatures recorded in France. Yesterday Michael Crowe called in to the meeting before leaving for Stranraer. He is getting involved in the CP battle in the North-East and it has been represented to him that he should make a public statement. I am not too pleased at this, especially as he was going to put in a memorial notice to Lily O’Byrne who died a month ago. Then he wanted her husband; finally he wants Betty Sinclair. He is politically slipping and is “mixing things”. “Qu’est ce que fait Betty Sinclair en cette galere?”[ie. What has Betty Sinclair to do in this crowd?]. We’ll have to put up a streamer over the Four Provinces Bookshop: “We serve neither Jacques nor Chater, but socialism!”
April 24 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. The dustmen are on strike. I find it hard enough to keep any kind of order in this place when all is well. But when the dustbin has not been emptied for three weeks, it is the devil.
April 25 Wednesday: Roy Johnston sent me “Labour Left”. He says Halligan [ie. Irish Labour Party general secretary Brendan Halligan] has ratted on it and it may not come out again. There is also talk of Tony Coughlan trying to run a substitute. I wish he would do the Connolly Association history and get it out of the way. But I never expect to see it as I suspect he just hasn’t the type of mind that can form a large plan and then apply himself systematically to the details. The tragedy is that, as I told him years ago, he will prevent somebody else doing it and so it will not be done, unless some academic thinks of it as a project and makes a mess of it [A draft history of the Connolly Association was given to Greaves four years later, in 1988, the year of his death. Following that event Anthony Coughlan decided to go no further with the project].
I spoke to Stella Bond. She went with Pat Bond and Paddy Byrne to a dinner at the Vietnam Embassy Peadar O’Donnell had invited them to. Byrne then took Peadar to his place [Peadar O’Donnell had been president of the Irish Voice on Vietnam campaign in Ireland which opposed the 1955-75 Vietnam war. Paddy Byrne knew Peadar O’Donnell from the 1930s Republican Congress days].
Bertill telephoned saying he was going to Greece and would not be at Flann Campbell’s meeting on Sunday. He does everything on the spot of the moment. I had not heard from Rynie and telephoned him. I do not think he is political dynamite! However, he said he had written to Tom Durkin last Thursday. I said I would ring him but I hadn’t his number. I rang Jane Tate and Noel Gordon and finally Pat Bond no less than five times and at last got the required information.
April 26 Thursday: I rang Tom Durkin who told me he had not received Rynie’s letter. I checked with Rynie and found it was wrongly addressed. Anyway Tom Durkin is willing to come to Liverpool on June 3. I told Rynie this. I then rang Sean Redmond who agreed to come on June 3. He incidentally said Bernard O’Connell’s deputation had been a powerful success and was comprised of “dedicated people”[This was a Trade Union deputation to Ireland organised by Bernard O’Connell from Birmingham and others]. Sean also told me that the group of anti-Partition Trade Unionists of which he is secretary and Merrigan the chairman, is shortly to “go public”[ie. the Trade Unionists for Irish Unionists and Independence]. I mentioned the plot which Pete Carter is privy to, to intrigue things so that Freeman will be Assistant Secretary of the TGWU. He knew about it but said Merrigan was not afraid [Matt Merrigan was Dublin-based secretary of the British-based TGWU]. I rang Noel Gordon who agreed to do the duplicating and do some more copies of the paper. I then drafted a circular. However, when I rang Rynie he had completely reversed his position after speaking to Stratton. He thought it unwise to hold the conference. A “Trade Unions for CND” speaker was coming to Liverpool on May 29 and Stratton had “not known last Wednesday”[These were Liverpool peace activists whom Greaves wanted to interest in a planned conference on “Ireland and World Peace” in that city].
Now “last Wednesday” was April 11th. Rynie admittedly did not write to Tom Durkin till April 19th. He then used the wrong address. He did not attempt to ring. Now he wants it put off. This is the typical English left-imperialist to a fault. I rang Sean Redmond and we had a few words. I tried to get Bernard O’Connell. Sean Redmond says the most political man on the Trade Union delegation was an NCP full-timer from Blackburn [ie. George Davies; see below] and they are trying to get a Trade Union organisation. Perhaps I should interest myself in that. I have little confidence in Rynie and I know Stratton is really contemptuous of the Irish and thinks Ireland a bit of a joke [Stratton and Rynie were involved in peace activity on Merseyside]. I did not attempt to conceal my displeasure.
I recall that prior to April 11th I wrote to Rynie saying that we had a branch meeting in the AUEW rooms and suggesting one of his people attended to discuss plans. It so happened that they had a meeting at the same time in the very next room. They did not inform us of this, nor did they speak to us with the suggestion that we have a discussion. This means that our proposals were not brought up at the full meeting. We finished first and I brought out Mary McClelland. I had given them alternatives. I asked then bluntly if they would prefer that we did not raise the Partition issue, but only neutrality, or would they prefer it if we organised the conference with their benevolent sympathy. When they came out they said they wanted a joint conference and that the two London papers would be an acceptable basis. In other words they wanted to talk big and do nothing. When put to it they remembered the old English principle that contracts entered into with the Irish are not binding. I tried to get Bernard O’Connell.
The warm weather continues but the problem is becoming drought.
April 27 Friday: I rang Joe O’Grady and told him about Rynie. He agreed with my strictures and said that the English will always sacrifice the Irish. He suggested withdrawing our affiliation. Our subscription has not been acknowledged [ie. to the Merseyside peace organisation]; we have not received circulars that have gone to the Labour Party; the treasure is that incompetent Pe. who is no better than he was 50 years ago [Presumably someone whom Greaves knew when a young man]. I spoke to Noel Gordon over the phone.
I did a little in the garden. The land is getting very parched. I think that circulation in the Northern hemisphere has declined. The weather remains the same for longer periods. Today we saw the first clouds for days – I classified them as lenticular cirro-cumulus, but they were obviously not of frontal origin and soon disappeared. It is not hot but warm for this time of year – high sixties.
April 28 Saturday: The fine weather continues. Again there were only a few wisps of cloud. Everything in the garden is speeded up. Wallflowers that came out a week ago are over. The daffodils are shrivelled but the bay is in flower today. Likewise the Myrrhis odorata, and bright red rhododendron petals are showing, and the blue of wood hyacinth. I had a word with Noel Gordon and finally got Bernard O’Connell who was on top of the world over his visit to Ireland. Apparently Bill Goulding was at it [Goulding was a longstanding CA member in Birmingham] as well as George Davies, the NCP organiser in Blackburn. But Lenihan of St. Helens did not turn up. Can this be linked with the CP or is it fortuitous? Probably fortuitous, but to be noted.
April 29 Sunday: I did a little gardening in the day and met Flann Campbell at Lime Street at 4.30. I brought him by ferry to Hamilton Square and by underground to Central; thence to the Irish Centre for his lecture. There was the worst attendance yet. Barney Morgan is in Greece and anyway seems to have lost interest. He has not called in on me since before Christmas. At one time he was buzzing round the Irish Centre like a bee distributing the “Irish Democrat”. Now he hardly ever goes there. Michael Mortimer in his turn, according to Joe O’Grady, is still demoralised by the break-up of his marriage, has no proper job and drinks too much. He didn’t appear and as a consequence neither did Janet Walsh and her literary group. Michael Mortimer came late and took Flann home. I was therefore not pleased. Pat Doherty, Joe O’Grady and about ten others were there. However, although the others can he dismissed, I think Michael Mortimer will do something yet, maybe not much, but something.
April 30 Monday: I got some gardening done. The East wind has been blowing for nearly two months and has a cool touch in it today as the barometer falls. I have been eating cauliflower every day. Each one would cost as much as my full packet of seeds. Noel Gordon went to Birmingham and hopes to see Bernard O’Connell. I had hoped to get away this week, but the weather looks like breaking.
May 1 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. The chaos continues [ie. at the printers] and they will have to continue the paper tomorrow. Travelling conditions were mixed. I got there easily enough but there was no bus from Ripley to Derby between 4.40 and 5.25 – a three-quarter hour wait. A young railway enthusiast, realising that the Crewe train was going to be ten minutes late, had the initiative to ask the Stoke-on-Trent officials to stop the Liverpool Express so that when we got to Crewe it was waiting for us – but comprised of branch-line carriages with no bar. Noel Gordon rang Ripley with information about Birmingham [ie. the Connolly Association annual conference for 1985 that was planned for that city].
May 2 Wednesday: I cleared and fertilised a patch and planted garlic and sowed coriander. I decided to give myself another day on the garden.
May 3 Thursday: I did a very little in the garden and wrote to Michael Mortimer, sent Noel Gordon a press statement on the New Ireland Forum and paid the water bill, also writing to Pat O’Donohue and Jack Bennett. At about 7.30 pm. cloud appeared in the West.
May 4 Friday: I planted broad beans, tetragonolobus and garlic chives. I had a word with Skelly [ie. the manager at his publishers Lawrence and Wishart] about tax and he seized the opportunity to ask about another book. I also had a word with Noel Gordon. There was more cloud about today, but in the evening the barometer began to rise again and the sun went down in a slightly misty sky. There is no sign of rain and the wind has blown from the East for two and a half months. What this betokens one doesn’t know – a fine hot summer, I hope! I’ll hardly get away before Monday. There is so much to do in the house and garden, apart from resolutions for the conference. I was pleased with the election result.
May 5 Saturday: I wrote to Malcolm Brown at Seattle, Gerald O’Reilly in New York, Signora Barone, and Tony Coughlan in Dublin. I got in several hours in the garden. It is not too bad this year. I have just cut my last broccoli but there will be two more next month and I found a row of “all the year round” that I had forgotten about. One of the new red currants is flowering and the bay is in full blossom and the crab half-out. I heard that Roy Johnston, having heard that one of the Farringtons – Brian’s son, I think – is circulation manager of “Marxism Today”, went to London to try to change their policy on Ireland. This from Gerard Curran who thought the exercise a trifle naive. The East wind continues to blow, but at 7.30 thick cloud appeared which gave about six spots of rain – nothing measurable. It turned cooler, but the barometer rose – a wide cold front, I presume.
May 6 Sunday: For the first time for many days the morning started cloudy and though it cleared somewhat it was a cool day. However, I got quite a bit done in the garden, reconstituted the strawberry bed with 30 plants and transplanted some brassicas that looked like “all the year round” cauliflowers that were lost in chickweed. I also repaired the hose. I might manage with it for another season.
May 7 Monday: It was cooler still. I had to write letters about the Manchester meeting, which is an opportunity to rally our people there, and about Alan Heussaff’s visit. I rang him up and all is in order. I did some more work in the garden and sowed a drill of “arugula”, a new salad offered by Thompson and Morgan that is not in any of my reference books. But it may be only rocket, which I’ve grown before. I didn’t get so much done today. I wrote condolences to Peggy Monaghan who lost her husband.
May 8 Tuesday: It was dry and sunny but, except in mid-afternoon, cold. I got some more gardening done and wrote quite a few letters, among others to Toni Curran and Noel Gordon. A letter came from Ann Reeve giving me information about her polemics on the O’Casey chapter of her book and asking how she could get it into paperback. Otherwise there was not much.
May 9 Wednesday: It was even colder today and with a slight drizzle at times that did not wet the ground, the wind everlastingly North-East. I’ve known this weather go on until late June. I went to buy things but did nothing in the garden, not even watering. I heard from Niall Power on the phone, also Michael Walsh of Birmingham. At the shop across the road they have been selling Argentine wine at £1.99 a litre – £1.40 a bottle. It used to be £2.70 a litre.
“But I can’t get any more,” said the manageress.
“I was afraid it was too good to last.”
“They’re selling it off, and that’s the last of it.”
“Why are they selling it off?”
“Because it’s from Argentina. People are terribly political these days. They won’t buy it, but when it’s very cheap they will.”[People were presumably affected by the Falklands War]. I bought four bottles.
May 10 Thursday: I had a word with Noel Gordon in the morning. I got no gardening done. There was a brief spell, about an hour, when the wind hacked Northwest and there was enough rain to wet the grass but not the soil. Then the wind veered Northeast and though it was brighter it was still very cold. Niall Power rang up. He is falling in with my suggestion of a Labour Committee on Ireland fringe meeting at UCATT[ie. the policy-making conference of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians]. He will see me in Manchester on Wednesday.
May 11 Friday: It was chilly but tolerable and I got some gardening done. Noel Gordon said we had fixed our conference for the middle of the exams and none of the students would be able to come. He suggested postponing it to June 2nd. I agreed. Then we realised it was Gerry Curran’s 60th birthday and he is throwing a grand party. So we put it to the 16th and I rang Michael Mortimer and Joe O Grady.
May 12 Saturday: Though there was a cold wind, it was bright and warm in the sun. I got much more done. The South-West bed is nearly cleared. Some transplants have been made and I did a general watering. The crab is a terrific sight – I never saw so much blossom on a tree. The red lilacs are out and the white soon will be. I wrote a number of letters. Toni Curran had written to say she had told young Niall of my lecture in Manchester on Wednesday and this afternoon he telephoned. But all my plans for a holiday are scuppered by the chopping and changing and uncertainty.
May 13 Sunday: The weather was near perfect today, not a cloud in the sky, and as soon as the sun was decently up, it was warm but not to excess. I took the 1 pm. to Chester and waited three and a half hours for Alan Heussaff, and indeed if the Rock Ferry train had not been late I would have had to bring Barney Morgan or Brian Stowell to Chester to pick us up. I rang Barney to arrange this. However, we not only got to the Irish Centre in time but had time for a meal as well. There was a reasonable attendance – Brian Stowell, Barney Morgan, OM from Anglesey with three friends, the girl from “News from Nowhere” bookshop, Stephen Dowling, Tony Birtell and a David Jones. Birtell told me that Niall Power had telephoned him about the fringe meetings they have asked to speak at. I told them everything was in order. There are a few of them and they’d very much like to have a wee organisation of their own, where they could have titles. Still they are active and that is to the good. There is a widespread demand among the Irish and Welsh class members for a branch of the Celtic League in Liverpool.
May 14 Monday: Today was bright and sunny – no clouds until evening when a few cirrus appeared and the barometer fell sharply. I got more gardening done and am perhaps one-third of the way through. I have germinated Tetragonia in an incubator.
May 15 Tuesday (London/Liverpool): I went to London on the 10 am. A few months ago a man got off the Parkgate bus in Mount Road and called “Goodnight and God bless” to me. I did not recognise him. However, the same man stopped me on the train and I joined his group who were the Liverpool delegation to the NUS conference in Guernsey [ie. the National Union of Students]. He was proposing a Troops Out resolution. He had been on the Trades Council. I promised to send him a copy of the Mullen pamphlet and did so [This pamphlet was published at the time of the delegation to Britain, including ITGWU general secretary Michael Mullen, which the Irish Sovereignty Movement had organised; see earlier volumes]. The Standing Committee was held at 6 pm., with Noel Gordon, Pat O’Donohue, Pat Bond, Jane Tate and Steve Huggett. Pat Bond is recovered but is not the same man. Of course there is time. I caught the 8.50 back and now that at long last the underground runs till nearly twelve o’clock, I went to Hamilton Square and got a taxi.
May 16 Wednesday: A letter from Niall Power told me he had billed me to speak in Blackpool on Thursday at a trade union fringe meeting. There has been some confusion about this and I had not expected to have to go. I rang Joe O’Grady, saying I would no longer be able to see himself, Barney Morgan and Michael Mortimer on Thursday. They are both of them as vague as could be and “will come if they can.” It rained yesterday and again today. The crab is carrying more blossom than I ever saw on it and the white lilac promises the same. The plum and damson have been indifferent.
I went to Manchester where I met Niall Curran for a meal. He must be 20 now and he sports a beard to show it! His examinations begin in a fortnight’s time. He does not appear unduly concerned about Toni [ie. his mother], one imagines from lack of the experience of the extinction of somebody close to him. I met Jimmy McGill who was with Letchworth of all people – an unholy bore – and we went to the IBRG meeting [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group, which was based mainly in Manchester], where I spoke on Irish Trade Unionism. Declan O’Neill who had booked me was there and Niall Power. Jim King drove me to Victoria. He is now a Salford City councillor. The meeting was a success. I got back at about 12 midnight.
May 17 Thursday: It rained today, but not properly. The wind is still North-East. I went to Blackpool and met Niall Power outside the Wintergardens. We addressed a “fringe meeting” together with the Secretary of the Uist Trades Council, an Edinburgh man who had heard me speak in Scotland. There were only about 17 people there but they got a £35 collection, and Niall Power thinks they broke even. I got the 8.40 back and was home by about 11 pm.
May 18 Friday: Today was dry but still very cool. I got a little done in the garden and planted out Tetragonia, which I had germinated in an incubator. I carried the cultivation of the West bed to its highest point yet. But the old birch tree stump is still there. The holly is in flower, very plentifully too.
May 19 Saturday: I managed to do two pages of the paper in the morning and did some work in the garden in the afternoon. Apart from the plums, which were badly damaged by aphids last year, the blossom is remarkable. The white lilac, at its worst last year, now looks its best ever and is just coming out. Likewise the rowan. I tried to get Sean Redmond, whose number is changed, and did so ultimately – Suzanne Redmond, that is. He is in Bundoran at a conference [Sean Redmond, who had been General Secretary of the Connolly Association for much the 1960s and was now a trade union official in Dublin, had recently initiated the establishment of the Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence Group which sought, inter alia, to push with the British Trade Union Movement the “Declaration of Intent” policy on Northern Ireland that Greaves and the Connolly Association advocated].
May 20 Sunday: It remained dry despite forecasts of rain, so after a morning in the garden I pushed on and spent the afternoon as well. But it grew cloudy and cold, the North-East wind still blowing. Old AMM used to say, “Once this wind starts it never knows when to stop.” It has just struck me, transcribing 1935 where there is a note of cold dry weather in May, that that was the year she said it. It did the same in 1938. It can go well into June, but I never knew it last till July. Still, though seeds are hard to germinate, the big things are undeterred. The rowan is coming out. Late at night Sean Redmond rang. I had asked him to get a speaker for the fringe meeting at the UCATT Conference on June 4th.
May 21 Monday: A letter from Peter Mulligan arrived in the morning. He has persuaded Ewart Milne to give him a poem for the anthology he is bringing out [Ewart Milne, 1903-1987, poet and litterateur, had been a courier in the Spanish Civil War and helped to establish the cyclostyled bulletin, “Irish Front”, predecessor of “Irish Freedom” and the “Irish Democrat”, together with Charlie Donnelly and Leslie Daiken in the mid-1930s]. In his letter to Peter, Ewart on the one hand says he is now a conservative and asks that his good wishes should be conveyed to myself. He is now 81. Would you credit it! I worked on the paper.
May 22 Tuesday: This was quite a wet day – up to lunchtime – and very damp, gloomy, cool and heavy all the time. However the broad beans are sprouting and I am about three weeks ahead of last year. I mostly worked on the paper but in the evening rang Joe Finnerty with a view to getting a hall for the Labour Committee on Ireland meeting at the UCATT conference. He put me on to a man called Lafferty, who in turn passed me on to the UCATT Branch Secretary, Lee. He told me that a member of the CP had asked him the same question about a meeting on the Tuesday, but he did not know what organisation was calling the meeting on Ireland. I would like to know what has happened.
I tried to find out whether Sean Redmond had got me a speaker, and Susan Redmond thought he had not. At 11.45 I got Niall Power and told him I thought we should not proceed in the teeth of competition unless we got a leading Trade Unionist from Ireland. He agreed.
May 23 Wednesday: Sean Redmond rang in the morning. He had not found the speaker but would come himself if he could be assured that it would be worthwhile. I rang up Niall Power and was not satisfied that it would be. Moreover, there was reason to believe that the other UCATT fringe meeting was the work of an internal caucus. Noel Gordon told me that Mernagh of Milton Keynes had suggested that the Connolly Association should hold a meeting and that there was opposition to it. I decided that we might be drawn into stormy waters and had best keep out. Niall Power agreed. I then rang the Liverpool Labour Committee on Ireland man, David Jones, and told him to tell Birtell. Then I got on with the paper.
We held the Liverpool Connolly Association AGM [ie. the AGM of the Liverpool CA branch] in the evening. Only eight attended. Barney Morgan was at some medical meeting and I took the chair – and it was as well as Taunton was in his tantrums again and annoyed Joe O’Grady so much that he lost his temper. Taunton has been trying to interfere all along and tonight as good as refused to have anything more to do with the audit of our vast £100 pounds turnover! I doubt whether we will see much of him. His wife, however, is a very decent woman. He is no loss and she does no more than fill a seat, but she radiates goodwill whereas he is a sulky fussy-breeches. Apart from Michael Mortimer a new member, a railwayman, was there, a karate man and a youngster from Co. Tyrone who had been taught by Seamus Deane [ie. the Irish critic, novelist and poet] and writes verses. I said I would like to see them. I always used to encourage young writers and stopped doing it largely because few came my way. We saw Brian Stowell and the Irish class, including Stephen Dowling, at the Irish Centre.
May 24 Thursday: I finished the paper, went to the garden suppliers and bought a propagator – then sowing some more tomato seeds under the glass and “Tomattillo”. I think this is Physalis. The seeds look like it.
May 25 Friday: I wrote to Alan Morton, Ann Reeve and Paul O’Higgins asking about the material Abramsky swiped off him years ago [It is unclear what this refers to]. I also wrote to Skelly telling him I will do him a book to be called “The Evolution of Irish Labour”. I have most of the material but must look some things up in Dublin. After paying rates at £215 and electricity at £173 my bank balance was looking pretty sick, down to double figures – and the Connolly Association owes me close on £1,000 pounds – but £49 pounds royalties came from Lawrence and Wishart today and that helped. I planted some hyssop cuttings. I don’t know whether they readily “take”. There was a shower of rain in the evening and an ugly orange-pink and stormy-looking sky. And it is damned cold again.
May 26 Saturday (London): I caught the 9 am. train to Euston where Noel Gordon met me and drove me to the Labour Committee on Ireland school in Hackney, which began an hour late. It was not well attended, but two of the Councillors who went to Dublin were there, and Martin Collins, the editor of their paper, a man in his late 20s I would say, who spoke out what he had read in “An Phoblacht” [ie. the Provisional Sinn Fein paper] but had no ballast of his own – ballast is Betty Sinclair’s word! Still, it was useful enough. Noel Gordon tells me things are not too bad. He has greatly improved since he left Battersea. I think the place was getting him down.
May 27 Sunday (Dublin): I caught the 11.31 for Chester. It stopped for half an hour at Hooton and the boat train was waiting for us. There were two more delays in Anglesey and one was of a half-hour. The boat was late but Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear were later and for a time I wondered what had happened them. However, all was well and we went to 24 Crawford Avenue [ie. the house in Drumcondra, Dublin, where Anthony Coughlan was now living following his marriage to Muriel Saidlear and where Greaves stayed during his Dublin visits thereafter]. Later Eddie Cowman came, but nothing much happened [Eddie Cowman had been organiser of the Connolly Association in London in the 1970s. He was now working in Dublin where he obtained a degree in Trinity College as a mature student and was active in the Irish Sovereignty Movement].
May 28 Monday: I went today looking for Michael O’Riordan [ie. the General Secretary of the CPI]but there was no sign of him. I met Tony Coughlan and we had lunch at Barnardo’s [An Italian restaurant in Lincoln Place, Dublin]. Proinsias Mac Aonghusa and Cian O’Hegarty were there [MacAonghusa had been chairman of the Irish Labour Party; Cian O Hegarty/O hEigeartaigh was an Irish scholar and worked in RTE]. Tony told me about Francis Devine’s operations, which rather raised my opinion of that somewhat unpredictable young gentleman [Francis Devine was a Trade Union official and a leading figure in the Irish Labour History Society]. He is forever promising things he does not or cannot fulfil. I don’t think I remember a single promise kept. He probably undertakes things and forgets all about them. However, he moved to good effect this time, for he used his Labour history connections with South Wales to bring over a delegation who took back to Pontypridd the sum of £25,000, with more to follow [This was money donated by Irish supporters towards the British miners whose union, the NUM, led by Arthur Scargill, was then on strike and embroiled with Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative Government]. Tony said that Francis Devine had told him that Joe Jamison – the man who had written to us about starting a Connolly Association in the USA – was in Dublin and wanted to see me.
May 29 Tuesday: I spent the whole morning and until 3 pm. trying to contact Noel Gordon at Ripley so that I could telephone through the Francis Devine miners’ story. I forgot to note that yesterday evening Jack Bennett and Colm Power called. The latter told me something which surprised me. It seems that following the theses on Irish Sovereignty Movement political action which Daltún Ó Ceallaigh gave me a year ago, there have been moves to set up a “new political formation” which might send up members for the Dáil. He said he had written to me about it.
I went into town. Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam, Greaves’s old friend, who was now working as an official with the ITGWU] rang Tony Coughlan suggesting that as the ITGWU conference was in session, we might like to take a trial trip on the new electric train to Bray, which we did. At Dun Laoire a train travelling in the opposite direction broke down and our driver went to help. Then he could not find the “parking brake” and we waited again. However, the new railway is a vast improvement. I had a few words with John Carroll [President of the ITGWU], who introduced me to a National Executive Council member, Griffin, said to be a “Provisional”. Cathal then insisted that we should go to the Union party and cabaret. I was very pleased with the strong national tendency of the entertainment, light though it was. I saw Paddy Devlin [an SDLP politician in Northern Ireland and a member of the ITGWU], who also told me about Jamison. And Pat Powell was there, as lively and talkative as ever [Powell was a former CA activist in Coventry, now an ITGWU official in Galway]. He said he had recently been in Coventry and was shocked at the CPGB quarrel, with both sides busy packing meetings or arranging their packing. When they abandon principles what can they expect but to get into a mess? I also saw John Meehan who was in the Connolly Association and is on the new Executive [ie. of the ITGWU. He had been a CA member in Britain also]. He has sprouted a vast beard and looks a wilder man than ever – still in Ballinrobe.
May 30 Wednesday: I still failed to find Michael O’Riordan. Incidentally, the National Library swear they have not received the back numbers of the “Irish Democrat” that Noel Gordon swears he sent. In the evening Eddie Cowman came, and later Joe Jamison [Joe Jamison was New York research officer of the AFL-CIO, the American central Trade Union federation, and an activist in the Irish-American Labour Coalition and later the MacBride Principles campaign; he was a member and the Morrison Delegation during the 1990s Northern Ireland “peace process”]. He told me that after the interchange on the subject of an American Connolly Association he was offered a full-time job as secretary of an AFL-CIO Irish friendship organisation. He was a man of 35 to 40, not a trade unionist I think, but an intellectual. He works closely with Lowery, whom he praises to the skies but says he has a bee in his bonnet about O’Casey. Also I think he can’t keep his temper. When I replied to Lowery in the “Irish Democrat”, Jamison told him, “He’s walked all over you.” Lowery was raging. Jamison also says that Lowery has made it his business to try to prevent the distribution of my books in the USA! He was a firm admirer of the “Irish Democrat”.
May 31 Thursday: Eddie Cowman stayed the night, so this morning I asked him about the “new formation”. He said the ISM was too limited, that he had drawn in Maisie McConnell [A leftwing member of the Irish Labour Party]. It had been intended to call the outfit “Saoirse”, but Tony Coughlan was moving towards keeping the name Irish Sovereignty Movement while perhaps adding “Saoirse”. He told me that Michael O’Riordan was in favour of it, which surprised me, but Eddie added that Cathal should have gone and explained it all to O’Riordan but hadn’t. He came into town with me.
I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and Sean Redmond. The Trade Union “formation” is to be announced next week [ie. the Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence group in Dublin], but I already have it in the “Irish Democrat”. I then went to see Michael O’Riordan, who told me he had not been consulted about the “new formation”. Also, that Cathal had not been in to see him since 1968 and was only nominally a CP member, paying by Bankers’ Order and that he does nothing for them. O’Riordan was far from pleased and said he would speak to Tony Coughlan. Now it is remarkable that Tony has said not a word to me about this, though it has been going on for six months or more. Michael agrees with me that this is a reaction to the difficulty of transforming the Labour Party, which is what needs to be done. Later I saw Signora Barone, who gave me a bottle of wine. She goes back to Italy in two or three weeks’ time. She is nowhere near the end of her researches but will not be able to get another “sabbatical year”. She has written a book about Thomas Hardy. We spent the evening at Cathal’s.
June 1 Friday: This morning I gave Tony Coughlan an opportunity to speak about his new formation, into which he seems to be gathering all the former CA people, while, as Eddie Cowman indicates, not too sure of the thing himself. I used the Workers Party as a peg and said they would not ultimately replace the Labour Party because that was the only party the trade unions were affiliated to, as witness Carroll’s speech at the ITGWU. Of course for Workers Party read “New Formation”. He said not a word, so he must be hell bent on this mad adventure. I imagine he will not discuss it because he is sure I would disapprove. Anyway, feicimid [ie. We shall see. This notion of a “new formation” had only been tentatively considered by the people mentioned and nothing came of it].
I had the worst travelling conditions for many years when I tried to get back to England. There was a strike which halted the 8.45 from Dun Laoire. I was told Sea Link tickets would be accepted by the B.and I., so took a taxi to the ferryport. There we were kept waiting – happily in hazy sunshine – till 12 noon when we were told the strike was settled and that there would be a special sailing from Dun Laoire at 5 pm. I spent the whole time with a priest from Pont Asaph monastery who had known Bruce Kent at Oxford. I got lunch and a couple of glasses and a corkscrew with which to open Signora Barone’s excellent white Bordeaux. The boat arrived at 6.30 and sailed at 7.30. A loudspeaker said there would be a special train at 12.5, but of course this would mean changing at Crewe and getting into Lime Street at 3.30. At Holyhead we learned that British Railways had thought better of it. We must wait for the night boat train. There were no sleepers to London, so I decided to sweat the night out with the aid of a bottle of whiskey, get to Rock Ferry in the morning and tell Gerard Curran that I was too exhausted to go to his party, which was the reason why I left today rather than yesterday.
June 2 Saturday: We left Holyhead late but had a three-hour wait in Chester. I finally reached 124 Mount Road at about 7.40 am. but did not go to bed. I rested half an hour in a chair and had one or two dozes during the day, planted out some Tetragonia, sowed cucumbers and did pottering jobs requiring no concentration. A letter arrived from Alan Morton, with his paper on botany in Edinburgh. He says he refrained from referring to Professor McLean Thompson. Not that that will irk him in his grave! [McLean Thompson had been Professor of Botany at Liverpool University. Alan Morton regarded him as denying him the graduate degree level that he deserved when he was a botany student there. Desmond Greaves did not get on with him either when he read botany at Liverpool a couple of years later; See Vols.1 to 3]. I rang up Noel Gordon and Gerry Curran. Incidentally Alan, who says he is 74, had an operation to drain the eye affected by glaucoma. He was told he was in general good shape for his age, but his visit to Liverpool is delayed indefinitely. Both Freda Morton and Alisoun had been unwell and John Morton has no hope of a job.
Two inflorescences have appeared on Phyllis’s cactus – the last time it flowered was about three weeks after she died. Last year I re-potted it and it started to grow rapidly, filled up the new large pot and possibly as result is flowering again. Two old friends are gone – or nearly so – the Madam Butterfly rose that EWG [a cousin] admired and the hydrangea in the front garden – both I think victims of drought.
June 3 Sunday: Apart from a crack or two of thunder and another shower it was fine after a night’s rain. I managed to get a bit of gardening done.
June 4 Monday: Another tolerable day but cool for early June, and this extraordinary persistent East wind continues. I sowed peas, more Chinese garlic, extra coriander and a Japanese onion. I’m having very bad luck with runner beans this year – first drought, then snails.
I rang Noel Gordon but he was out. Jane Tate told me that Michael Crowe went to Birmingham and wasted a day. He did not know the conference was postponed. Noel swore he had written to him. But this happens too often. He says he has twice sent back-numbers to the National Gallery Library, but they have not received them. Other things he said he has sent do not reach me. Jane Tate says he never makes a proper note of anything and does not know what he has done or not done. Later he rang me. The Standing Committee is Tuesday, tomorrow week. I heard later that the ASTMS Conference is postponed, so I can go away for the weekend at last.
Now Noel Gordon told me that the Glasgow “Morning Star” meeting was a dog-fight and ended in chaos. The CP is heading for a split and I have more than a feeling that it will take place. I did not, as Gaster did, expect it last November. But the bitter personal recriminations loosen the ties of community and make it possible now. Noel Gordon says many people are leaving because they are tired of the squabbling. I could see them losing the paper and then being a worthy but largely irrelevant sect like the CPUSA – killed by the same disease, there called “Browderism”[Earl Browder, 1891-1973, leading American communist, had sought to liquidate the CPUSA and turn it into a left-wing pressure group following World War 2, for which he was condemned by the rest of the international communist movement at the time]. Later I got the “Manchester Guardian” and read the full story. It is odd. From the old diary I see that I joined the YCL exactly 50 years ago today. I told Michael O’Riordan I was taking no part in the factional struggle. I could see the possibility of some kind of commission of “elder statesmen” being set up to try to straighten things out. Michael agreed that that was the only way a settlement could be reached and thought I was probably wise. But now things look bleaker. They may not hold together. And if Chater wins, as he seems tipped to do, what course will he adopt? Will CP support be withdrawn from the paper? Will it survive at all? If CP support is withdrawn will Chater have to do a deal with the Labour people? That we shall just have to wait and see.
Noel Gordon told me about the UCATT meeting in Southport. Apparently it is run by the CP and Myant is speaking on “The truth about Ireland”, which he thinks he knows. I must find out what happens.
June 5 Tuesday: Today was as gloomy and depressing as could be imagined, dark and drizzly – not cold but cool in the evening. I stayed indoors all day and drafted the resolution for the Connolly Association conference and did some clearing up.
I have been turning over in my mind the Dublin démarche, which I would never have known of but for Colm Power [ie. the notion of a “new formation” referred to above]. I found a letter from him when I got back. I will answer him. I could answer Daltún Ó Ceallaigh. But should I write to Eddie Cowman, who Colm Power says was with Daltún the originator of the thing. I think the Sinn Fein man is coming out in Eddie Cowman again. I think they are overcome with the difficulty of transforming the Labour Party and do not see that Sean Redmond’s Trade Union movement is the best means of doing it. Labour will be annihilated in Dublin [ie. in the next Irish general election, which came in 1987, two years later]. But the Trade Unions need a Labour voice. It can only be reconstructed by fresh people altogether and Sean Redmond may play a part in it. If they break with the coalition the country TDs will not get Fine Gael transfers. So, poof! It is done.
June 6 Wednesday: I wrote to Colm Power and Eddie Cowman about the “new formation”, pointing out the considerations referred to above. I also wrote to Pat O’Donohue and sent a copy of the resolution to Noel Gordon [ie. the draft Executive resolution for the CA annual conference]. It was dry, but again cold with a northerly wind. It must be the longest spell of easterly weather for years, with a persistent anticyclone settling over Iceland, just where a depression ought to be. I transplanted the two cauliflowers and sowed marrows in an amateur incubator.
June 7 Thursday: Today was sunny and therefore warm, but the wind continued in the North-East and the air was cold in origin. However I got some gardening done, though there is an immense amount yet to do. There was no mail today and nobody rang up.
June 8 Friday: Again no mail, but a “European election” address which I did not bother to look at. The “Manchester Guardian” had an article on the “Morning Star” crisis which reveals an X=O position and seems to offer no prospect of a solution, but an endless wrangle. It is hard to visualise the political ineptitude of people who could get their affairs into such a mess, though when I attended that E.C. a few years ago I was painfully aware of the dwarf stature of those present. The “Guardian” picture shows Chater at less than his best, but Myant is unmistakable – baby face and a thug’s eyes. I had told Noel Gordon that I thought that possibly there might be a Commission to investigate what has gone wrong with the CPGB and that I was saying nothing now as I could conceivably be invited to sit on it. I told Michael O’ Riordan the same. “I think you’re probably wise,” he replied. “That’s the only way the thing could be resolved.”
Another fine warm day – not hot – and I did some more gardening.
June 9 Saturday: The afternoon temperature was in the low seventies – absolutely ideal – and I got more gardening done. One more day and the West garden is virtually finished. I have some Atropa Belladonna in flower. The laburnum is at his best and there looks like being a strawberry crop. I had a brief word with Noel Gordon on the telephone. He was about to go to the CND demonstration. Pat Bond rang to say that UCATT had passed an Irish resolution, heavily composited and basically economist [ie. regarding the Northern Ireland “Troubles” as deriving from differences of economic interest between the two communities there rather than from Britain’s role in seeking to maintain Partition]. I have no doubt that is what Myant was there for.
I think the butterfly population may be stabilising. Apart from cabbage whites, which are a nuisance today, a peacock floated into the garden. But where are the nettles? I also saw a brown butterfly, rather like what we used to call a “wall”.
June 10 Sunday: It was fine, though the wind was hacking towards the North-West and there were some cloud off the sea. The air was still cold. However, the temperature must have reached the high sixties and I got the West garden nearly finished. According to the “Sunday Times” the Political Committee of the CP has chopped the resolution dismissing Chater and Whitfield and intend to concentrate on getting a majority on the Managerial Committee [ie. of the People’s Press Printing Society, the co-operative that owned the “Morning Star”] which they hope will do the chopping. The way things will go if Chater wins was hinted by Ernie Roberts – separation of the “Morning Star” from the CP – something I long suspected. And if it goes the other way politically it will go the same way – a deplorable prospect.
June 11 Monday: I got in quite a few hours in the garden. The coldness was out of the air and for the first time in months there was a West wind. It was cloudy however, though the sun got through, and a trifle close. Barney Morgan called to bring me an “Irish Press”. He had read yesterday’s “Sunday Times”. I told him the “Manchester Guardian” had news of yesterday’s operations in Wembley [a conference on the “Morning Star”; see next entry]. Apparently the vote will be close.
June 12 Tuesday (London): I took the 10 am. to Euston and went to Grays Inn Road where I saw Noel Gordon and Jane Tate. The “Morning Star” vote was indecisive, so that presumably the battle will go on. We held the Standing Committee at 6.30 pm., with Pat Bond, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Roger Kelly and Steve Huggett. I had drafted a somewhat international resolution in which I made it quite clear that I consider the USA mainly to blame for world tension. While taking no part in the absurd in-fighting that is going on, I saw no reason why the anti-imperialist position should not be made clear. Pat Bond is not his old self and has something of the air of a wounded animal, though even now he cannot restrain his impatience. We got through a certain amount of business.
June 13 Wednesday (Liverpool): In the morning Jane Tate and I went to see old R. Page Arnot, who is now in an Old People’s Home, and took him a bottle of hock. He has gone down badly and does nothing but reminisce at length. But his head is still clear and he has his books. His grand-daughter comes in regularly. Then I came back to town and so to Liverpool.
June 14 Thursday: I have a cold and couldn’t sleep after 6.30 am. – I think the temperature was high, though it was not so later – so I got up. I went into the city and made some purchases. Then Liddell from next door but two came to measure up for a new fence he is going to erect for me, which is going to be a financial strain. I rang up Noel Gordon to complain that I have had no notice of the conference. He said Joe O’Grady had been making the same complaint. He blamed “go slow” in the Post Office.
June 15 Friday: It was dry and moderately warm today. Liddell, next door but two, who made the back door for me, is going to put up again the fence between the West and South-West garden that was blown down, so I improved the occasion by pruning trees as part of the operation. I was in the garden most of the time, so did not hear the telephone until once when I came in and heard it stop. I rang London – then heard an earful from Jane Tate.
Noel Gordon had gone to the Greater London Council committee about the money he has been trying to get from them to help fund the bookshop. He was told no decision had been taken and he must wait until October. He came back to the office before lunch in a most depressed state and then went off on his own without a word. Helen McMurray said she had never seen him in such a state and thought he was going to have a “nervous breakdown”. I only got the details over several telephone calls. It seems we had advertised Saturday’s conference [ie. the CA AGM] in the “Star” [ie. the “Morning Star”]. Noel had arranged with Brian Mathers for us to use the ITGWU rooms at Alum Rock. But Bill Goulding rang the “Morning Star” to say that the room was not booked. The “Morning Star” then rang Noel Gordon, who flung out in a state of acute depression. Helen McMurray then asked Jane Tate if it should be cancelled. Jane said not so. Helen then asked Bill Goulding [a longstanding CA member in Birmingham] his advice, which was to take the CP rooms at the Star Club. Helen McMurray rang Birmingham and booked this. She told Jane Tate that she thought Noel had omitted to book the TGWU. But I am sure he thought that Mathers had done that for him. So there is the pickle we are in. We have narrowly escaped arriving at the place and finding nobody there. And then again nobody has received notification of the conference, though Noel swears he sent the circulars out two weeks ago and blames the Post Office. I do not wish to jump to conclusions but there is too much of the one thing in this. What is pretty obvious is that in the end Noel felt unable to cope with the situation and went off – I hope – to get drunk, and Helen McMurray and Jane Tate had to do his work.
Later in the evening Bernard O’Connell rang. He said Goulding had just rung him. The place in Alum Rock Road where the conference was advertised for had not any accommodation in it. No conference could have been called there. Nor had O’Connell received any explanation of the cancellation. I rang Jane Tate who told me that he would not have even been coming to Birmingham if Helen McMurray had not persuaded him, and indeed she was of the opinion that he was not in Birmingham at all, though he left Jane a note saying he had gone there. Also it looks as if no notices were sent out and the whole thing was a giant humbug. Helen McMurray says he has been behaving strangely of late and this is presumably part of it. Incidentally, I told Bernard O’Connell that I am going to Birmingham to find out what happened, if I cannot do so without.
June 16 Saturday (Birmingham/Liverpool): I met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street. Michael Mortimer had cried off, saying he had a filthy cold. Another member, McCormick, was also on the train. Just as we were leaving the station Mark Clinton appeared and seemed in remarkably good form too. This good omen was justified because it was a very successful day. We walked to the Star Club. Jane Tate and the others were there. One of them, Steve Huggett, had seen Roger Kelly’s car, so we knew he was coming and had not chickened out in the end. Tony McNally [A CP official in Birmingham, of Irish background] came in, brought me a cup of coffee and generally treated me like his uncle from Australia. He is, however, effusive by nature. I asked after his family. Joe is still alive [ie. father of the large McNally family] aged 76, and Tom Senior and Vincent have gone back to Ireland. Peter Mulligan could not come but Michael Crowe did so. Then, finally, Noel Gordon arrived, with Helen McMurray and Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohue.
Noel was very pale and very constrained when he arrived. We made him take the chair and made no reference to his lapse. As the day went on he recovered slowly. He had, I am sure, received a sharp blow to his self-esteem. He would not come for a decent meal with the rest of us but went looking for a snack. The conference – very small, attended by only 19 members – was very successful. Noel Gordon having produced no report, I had made an agenda which contrived to fill the time and Jane Tate and Helen McMurray had repaired other omissions.
It seems that Mark Clinton is teaching again and is prepared to become active again. Of course he “collapses” just as Noel collapsed. Gerry Curran also collapses. One has to bear this in mind, but we’ve staked a claim. We have not abandoned Birmingham. I also had a word with Michael Crowe. The leadership in London [ie. the CPGB leadership] has suspended the Newcastle (or Northeast?) Committee. He thinks there are about 6000 “sound” people in the CP and it seems clear that things are driving relentlessly to a split and it is doubtful if any neutral tribunal could repair it. He went to the “Morning Star” meeting in Glasgow, calling to Carlisle on his way to pick up Beatrice Campbell’s parents [Beatrice Campbell was one of the leading “euros” in the internal CP dispute]. They do not agree with her “trendy” nonsense. When she wrote an article on the “Morning Star” management in “News Week” she rang up her mother to ask if her father was very angry with her. In the course of the discussion it emerged that she had written what was in effect an attack on Chater at the express request of Myant. Michael Crowe said he was amazed at the depth to which McGahey has sunk – disorderly behaviour, shouting, charging on the platform to seize the microphone etc.[Michael McGahey, 1925-1999, Scottish miners’ leader and a leading CPGB member].
Just after we had finished Bernard O’Connell arrived. He has a job now and rents a car, so we went to the station with Joe O’Grady, PMcK (I think it is Patrick), Mark Clinton and Michael Crowe. I managed to have a quiet word with O’Connell. All he knew about the debacle was that Bill Goulding rang him at 7.30 pm. on Friday. He had seen an advert in the “Morning Star” saying we had a conference in Alum Rock Road. The place is not suitable for a conference. It has no meeting room. Goulding was angry that this advertisement was published as there had been no request for the use of this room. There had been a similar advertisement in the “Irish Democrat” a month ago, but no action had been taken regarding it. Bernard O’Connell had had no invitation to the conference, so it is clear that none were sent out. Again the advert in the “Irish Democrat” was changed by Noel Gordon from one giving Alum Rock Road to “for further particulars telephone 832-2022”. Noel blamed the printer for this change.
I had already had a word with Helen McMurray who has turned up trumps. She and Jane Tate saved the situation, and Noel Gordon’s future. She said Noel has been acting strangely for some time and that “he keeps too much to himself.” He was obviously on the verge of a “nervous breakdown”; indeed you could say he had had one. Clearly he didn’t know what he was doing. She was taking him away on a holiday at the end of next week, but he would come to Liverpool on Wednesday. When he left he still looked “shook” and Mark Clinton and other said he had lost weight. I told Helen that I would try to spend a bit more time in London.
Our train was late but we got back to Liverpool at about 9.30 pm.
One final thing about Bernard O’Connell. He tells me his trade union delegation are setting up a new organisation, “Campaign to prevent interference in Ireland”, but they are confining themselves to a campaign against the veto [ie. the Unionist veto on Irish reunification. Greaves and the Connolly Association would have preferred that they advocate support for a positive British policy of encouraging reunification]. This was the reply of Joe Bowers to my stand for a full-blooded policy when I was in Dublin. They had Tony Coughlan and Daltún Ó Ceallaigh meeting Ken Gill in Belfast and decided the veto was the thing. Apparently Bowers deeply impressed them and they bit. Still it is one other force lining up. Second, O’Connell said he had seen an American statement claiming that the CIA had penetrated the CPGB. John Gibson hinted something to this effect some time ago. But as I said in my book on the ITGWU, crying treachery is a dangerous occupation, like shouting fire.
June 17 Sunday: I spent some time in the garden. The weather was dry but only modestly warm, with the wind in the North again. The laburnum is fading, but roses are in full bloom and foxgloves are out. The Atropa Belladonna that Jane Tate gave me is growing into a handsome plant. I am still puzzling over Noel Gordon’s collapse. But even more I am wondering how to raise money if, as seems possible, we will not be getting anything from the GLC.
June 18 Monday: Liddell started work on the new fence. I was hoping to get a long-deferred holiday next week or the week after that, but it is looking difficult. I could not get Jane Tate on the telephone. Later Stella Bond rang to say that if Noel Gordon went away there will be nobody to organise the important book stall at Roundwood Park. And Jane Tate had blood pressure etc., etc. So I said I would go to make one more. Then Niall Power rang to ask me to do a TUC school in Oxford on the day before – so June 30 and July 1 are filled up. If Bob Wynn would do Ripley I might manage it. I spoke to Joe O’Grady who has not heard from Michael Mortimer. Tony Coughlan’s copy will be late. He has been at meetings all weekend. He’ll never do that history [ie. the history of the Connolly Association that Anthony Coughlan had undertaken to do some years before]. Also, I heard from Roy [ie. Roy Johnston in Dublin] who complains that they keep him in the dark about the “new formation”. Well, they keep me in the dark too.
June 19 Tuesday: I spoke to Noel Gordon on the telephone. He still seemed slightly shook but seemed better in the afternoon. Tony Coughlan’s copy did not arrive. It is appalling how my time is wasted by people unable to work to a date. Two people only never fail, Pat Bond and Roy Johnston. All the others are uncertain or have to be reminded. Today was fair and very warm. The fence is nearly complete and a great improvement.
June 20 Wednesday: Liddell finished the fence and cut some trees down as a bonus, but I was £165 the poorer at the end of it. Then at 5 pm. Noel Gordon arrived, more at his ease but still slightly constrained. We went to the Connolly Association meeting which was badly attended – only Michael Mortimer, who had not even written up the minutes, Joe O’Grady who took the chair because Barney Morgan was three-quarters of an hour late, Pat O’Doherty and McCormick who was an NUR secretary and might make a secretary if Michael Mortimer folded up completely. He had not sent out the notices. Noel spoke reasonably and gradually regained normality.
June 21 Thursday: I finished the paper and Noel Gordon gave some help by writing a few pieces. Tony Coughlan sent next to nothing this month and at that it was late. However Noel Gordon, now greatly improved (I was very careful as I think the collapse was a blow to his self-esteem) left at about 3 pm. The first poppies were out today.
I was talking to Jane Tate on the telephone. She tells me that Noel took the fare to Birmingham and said he had gone but spent the day dazedly wondering about the streets. She asked what had happened. He said he must have had a bit of a “brainstorm”. That is to say, he was reacting to stress. On the Friday he had had the disappointment at the GLC, who will not offer any money till October. But even when the “Morning Star” rang up to say the hall was not available, he did not seem abnormal and Jane Tate went away and left him with Helen McMurray. When Jane got back she found Helen in a state and saying that Noel was heading for a nervous breakdown. I thought he had probably gone out and got drunk, but No; he had gone home and gone to bed – in her opinion the wisest thing he could have done. The main thing is money, however, and something must be done about it. What amazes Jane Tate is that he made no objection to her placing an advertisement in the “Morning Star” even though he must have known the hall was not available. But that advert, the pinnacle of folly and irresponsibility, saved our bacon for it brought the position to Jane Tate’s attention, and she insisted the thing was not cancelled and got Helen McMurray to book the other hall. But what exercises Jane is the extraordinary talk about making arrangements with Brian Mathers. Also, where did he get the idea of Alum Rock Road?
Jane is handling him with kid gloves. But I intend to spend a week in London after first having a few days off to think things over. I will also try to get a few people off their backsides.
June 22 Friday: It was cool, intermittently wet and windy, an unpleasant day. I went into Birkenhead and bought a few things. “Science and Society”[An American left-wing journal] to whom I sent a reply to Newsinger six months ago, wrote saying they would print it. Possibly Malcolm Brown has given them a nudge. I told him I had heard nothing. I also heard from Colm Power, who is very shrewd in his comments on the “new formation”, which he regards as Daltún Ó Ceallaigh’s brainchild.
Two more things struck me about Noel Gordon’s lapses. According to Bernard O’Connell he rang his home when he was out and said he was in Birmingham, though I doubt as he was. When I pressed to go to Birmingham, I asked him specially to go and see Alum Rock Road and see if there were restaurants around it. He did not but assured me he had been told there were plenty of them. If all this was fantasy, he was then to go to Birmingham well aware that nothing had been fixed. What could he do? Go and do his best or have a “brainstorm”? The second is that Helen McMurray is out of work and her grant is probably exhausted. They are therefore very likely to be trying to live on his pay and I would say she could be extravagant. Noel has lasted about three years, which is not bad, but I would hesitate to promise another three. If he left I would have to see if I could bring Eddie Cowman back or ask Colm Power. There is nobody here able for it.
June 23 Saturday: The day dawned chilly, but not so bad as yesterday. A letter came from Emmet O’Connor in Cambridge asking me to write an article in “Saothar” by September [ie. the annual publication of the Irish Labour History Society]. However, I wrote back and told him the time is too short. But the real reason is that it would bore me to write more about the ITGWU. He politely suggested that I had an aversion to Irish Labour History Society activities. I assured him I hadn’t, but again, I find this academicizing profoundly boring.
I had a word on the phone with Joe O’Grady. He and Barney Morgan are planning an outing that might bring us a few pounds. And in case Michael Mortimer falls down on a meeting I have invited George Davies to address, I will get some leaflets made [George Davies was NCP organiser in Blackburn] . A letter from Tony Coughlan asked if we were sending notes on the Forum to MPs. I think it would be a good idea. [The New Ireland Forum was a gathering of nationalist political parties convened by Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald in 1983-84 under the influence of John Hume to consider steps that might be taken to alleviate the Northern Ireland “Troubles”. It issued its report in 1984.]
June 24 Sunday: Another poor day, neither one thing nor the other, chilly, cloudy, constantly threatening to rain, but not doing it enough to wet the ground. I transplanted some spinach but got nothing else done but clearing up. But I collected some material for a “tour of Irish London” which might make a few bob. Our people of imagination are few and nothing new is undertaken (Peter Mulligan apart and the girls in South London) unless I start it off.
June 25 Monday: Another chilly day with a restless gusty wind just North of North-East. No sun at all. Clouds – how you would classify them, I’m not sure – very low, like broken sea mist, not the usual fracto-stratus, but too low for cumulo-stratus; I suppose you would simply say stratus. Barney Morgan called. He thought Noel Gordon had had a slight “nervous breakdown”. He said usually it was trouble with the partner. I said I thought he got on with Helen very well, though she would not marry him. Barney said so you might think, but 90% of his work was getting people to talk and once you did you got strange surprises. He also said men bottle up their feelings more than women and that this was bad for them. So I would imagine. I transplanted some more spinach beet and started on a statement for MPs who are. debating the “Forum” next Monday. I had a word with Jane Tate.
My pension instalment should have arrived today but did not. I then heard on the radio that there was some disruption among the civil servants at Newcastle [ie. the headquarters of the National Pension system]. I think I can rustle up £50 to go to London and Oxford. But after that what? I have reserves of course but dislike using them. So we will see. I don’t suppose there is much in London.
June 26 Tuesday: Today it was distinctly hotter. It began cloudy and windy, with a restless nuisance of a wind that wouldn’t leave the trees alone, but in mid-morning the sun broke through and the day was very pleasant. I had to spend the morning on the statement for MPs who are debating the Forum Report next Monday. Later again I finished transplanting the spinach beet and stacked up some of the timber that Liddell left lying about the place. I ate a couple of my own strawberries, which do not look too bad this year. The first Lysimachia Punctata flower was out today. The drought has unfortunately left the gooseberries hard and firm. I have gathered none yet.
In the evening the wind dropped noticeably, though still Northwest by West, and normal cumulo-stratus appeared. I think yesterday would have to be classified as fracto-stratus but derived from stratus rather than from nimbus.
June 27 Wednesday: The day began bright and sunny. Then the clouds swept across and the pestering teasing wind increased. I think it had veered a point or two. I am afraid to put out tomatoes for fear they will be blown down. But the cucumbers will have to go out for their roots are coming through the turf pots. I put plastic under some strawberries and milled turf under others. I also rang Jane Tate. A wee girl called Sheila Ramsdale wrote from Wigan College of Technology saying she was interested in the Irish in Wigan. Declan O’Neill had put her on to me. So I referred her to Paul Salveson. Finally I put out the cucumbers.
June 28 Thursday: It was bright early on and my long-deferred hopes of a day in the garden were speedily dashed when a dribbling rain, barely enough to wet more than the surface of the ground, came out of the North North-East – that abominable azimuth! The telephone engineer came, which was something, as I can now hear people who ring me up. And then at midday the wind hacked North-Northwest, the cloud curtain was pushed aside and I managed the afternoon and evening in the garden. I planted out the tomatoes and sowed lettuces, swedes and tetragonolobus and did some weeding.
I spoke with Jane Tate on the phone. She keeps finding things that Noel Gordon has not done. He fails to go to things but makes no attempt to find a substitute. She says he worked very hard getting the bookshop open, but after that collapsed and blames Helen McMurray, who is supposed to be bookshop manager but does not manage. I would prefer that he should throw the job up – and God knows it is not a gold mine – rather than drag on half doing it. I think Helen McMurray has a job in prospect.
June 29 Friday (London): I took the 11.30 to London, noting before I left the first yellow loosestrife flowers. I found Jane Tate in the office. I was out with Gerry Curran in Paddington [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat” in the Irish pubs of this area of London].
June 30 Saturday: I went to Oxford to speak at the Labour Committee on Ireland school, meeting Martin Collins, their editor, on the train. He says they print 5000 but have difficulty with distribution. Barry Riordan was there and Alf Ward said he would come in but didn’t. Considine and the other man are away [These were longstanding CA members in Oxford]. There were only about 20 people there but it was worthwhile. Niall Power came from Manchester in the afternoon. A woman from Derry drove me in to Oxford Station and I reached Paddington quite early, waiting till 8 pm. when I was out with Sean Burke [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” for a second night in succession].
July 1 Sunday: I spoke at a CP “forum”, part of their “festival”. They had six speakers from colonial and ex-colonial countries to fit into an hour. I took four minutes but said the main things. Bert Ward was there and Kay Beauchamp. George Anthony, on the door, complained of the poor attendance, which he attributed to the refusal of “the euros” to support a London District Committee project [George Anthony was a leading Engineering Trade Union activist in London and a longstanding supporter of the Connolly Association]. Gordon McLennan came in and out during our session. He looks a deeply worried man and there was an uneasy air over the proceedings. The bitterness is very deep. However, Gerry Cohen hailed me amicably enough. I have, of course, not taken sides and will avoid it if possible. It is one thing that your views should be known, another that you should try to injure those who do not share them.
Later I saw Jane Tate and Steve Huggett, who had taken £380 at the Roundwood Festival. We are still coming across signs of Noel Gordon’s failings. It seems Oxford had written to me – we found the letter – about the school, but Noel had merely left it in a heap of letters. Jane Tate said that Barney Morgan’s theory that relations with Helen McMurray were at the bottom of it might be right. He may feel insecure since he is ten years older than she is and she now has the prospect of a career. He cannot get a rent rebate because she will not marry him. And according to Steve Huggett he has disputes with her because he goes out on a night’s heavy drinking from time to time with Roger Kelly I presume. Certainly Central London branch has been allowed to go to rack and ruin.
July 2 Monday: I spent the day in the office. In the morning a friendly Capuchin, Father Timothy, came in and told me he was a friend of Father Hickman, whom I had met on the boat and who had asked who I probably was. He has written something for the paper. Jane Tate got from Noel Gordon the name of the man he negotiated with for the GLC grant. When she tracked him down it was the wrong man! We have completely last confidence in Noel’s ability to carry anything through, and Jane Tate will do it herself.
July 3 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office until about 5 pm. Jane Tate ran off some adverts for the Liverpool meeting so that we wouldn’t be dependent on that other broken reed, Michael Mortimer. Tadhg Egan came in for a while. He said Bill Hardy has joined the New Communist Party [Hardy had indicated that he would leave some money to the Connolly Association in his will]. Then I returned to Liverpool.
July 4 Wednesday: It was hot and dry. An Oenothera had flowered last night, but the ground was parched and according to the radio we have had the driest spring for 90 years. I believe it. The things I planted out are not looking too sprightly either. On the other hand I can’t get marrows in damp soil and in vitro to germinate. I dug up part of the old border Liddell cleared and put in two long drills of peas and beans. Otherwise little was accomplished. I rang Jane Tate who says she has traced a man at the GLC who knows something of our application but appears to have lost it. A friend told her you have to keep at them all the time. But the man whose name Noel gave us has nothing to do with it. We shall, of course, take no notice of Noel.
July 5 Thursday: A letter came from Peter Mulligan [who ran the CA branch in Northampton for decades]. He was much harder on Noel Gordon than we have been in London and says his inability to organise any event is causing us to lose credibility. Now this is the Gerry Curran disease. They don’t seem able to carry through any long-continued line of action. Peter Mulligan says surely there must be some unemployed intellectual with native ability who would do the job for a year while something better turned up. He has written to Ken Livingstone saying we are the only group that has received no help. And he completely dismisses the notion that we shall get a penny for the shop. I replied that regarding Noel I was not yet completely satisfied that he is incapable, and I am not sure that this recent collapse is not due to something we don’t know. He organised tolerable conferences before – but did he? Was Livingstone’s and Clare Short’s non-appearance at the last his failure? Also I said we were going to make an effort with the GLC. I think they might give us a few bob to shut us up. What would be the effect of his intervention [ie. Peter Mulligan’s] on our prospects it is hard to say. Not likely to do much harm if any, I would say.
I got a little more done in the garden. It is hot and dry, but there is a quite fresh Northwest breeze. I wrote to Michael Mortimer, Peter Mulligan and Jane Tate.
July 6 Friday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady in the morning. He and Barney Morgan are arranging a coach trip and Percy French evening on August 19th. There is also to be a “do” in Michael Kelly’s house early in October. Things in Liverpool are a sight healthier than they are in London. I wish we had Joe O’Grady there instead of Noel Gordon!
Later I got Jane Tate. She wonders if Noel will be back on Monday. He never yet came back in time. The reason I did not get a written request from Oxford was that Noel had not forwarded their request. I found it there in the office, together with a covering letter and the typed envelope he had not posted. And then to make matters worse, the Connolly Association is broke and can’t pay me, and Pat O’Donohue has not sent my out-of-pocket expenses. We are in a dangerous position – as my pension is held up by a computer strike! I wrote to Pat O’Donohue, also to Jane Tate, saying that unless some money came from somewhere I could not go to London for the next Standing Committee. I bought things and mended the new fence.
July 7 Saturday: Tony Coughlan sent a copy of a letter he had from Joe Jamison. In Dublin he had told me how Lowery swore to keep my book on O’Casey off the book stands. He says to Tony that he’s going to get it on them, whatever about Lowery. A few days ago Joe O’Grady said that Eric Heffer saw an advert for this book and went to buy it, but found it sold. I therefore wrote to Skelly asking if he were remaindering them, and if he was then he should sell them to the Connolly Association.
I rang Bob Wynn to ask how Toni Curran is. She has had a very long operation but came out of intensive care and is very cheerful. I wrote and told Tony Coughlan and Cathal and Helga. But I was also told of Jane Tait’s success in tracking down the man Noel Gordon dealt with and was told the GLC would deal with requests in order of urgency. She was told the same. She replied that our position was so urgent that our members had lent £1000 and that our bookshop was in extremis. “I didn’t know that”, he replied. So she will pursue it further. So Noel has cut his own throat. Bob Wynn talks as if he should be replaced, but I’ve never sacked anybody in my life and don’t like starting now. We must give him a chance and an easier job and then if need be advise him to go back to the tools. It’s a pity, for as Jane Tate says, he’s a pleasant enough young fellow and politically sound. Reading through those old Diaries I saw myself of fifty years ago constantly psychologising and speculating about peoples’ motives and reactions. I don’t usually bother about it now. I have been wrong too often. But I would like to know what was the cause of Noel Gordon’s collapse. I think Hippocrates had it – the melancholic type. Our first reaction to adversity is to fight. But at a certain point this changes into its opposite. For those with a weak nervous system the breaking point comes sooner, and people are no more to be blamed for this weakness of their nervous systems then far their hardness of hearing or their constipated guts, but one weighs in the balance of social approbation while the others do not.
July 8 Sunday: Today was the best day yet, hot but not uncomfortable. I put the afternoon temperature at about 82 degrees F. – ideal! I got more done in the garden than any other day, staked peas and sowed a succession, did some clearing of the South-West compost heap, where I am making a new bed north of Liddell’s fence. I spoke to Pat O’Donohue in the evening and he is paying £120 into my account. This is expenses and he asked me how much more I would need. I said we would see about it later. My feeling is that we can get some money from the GLC if we keep Noel Gordon strictly out of it, and I’m prepared to go and argue the point myself.
July 9 Monday: By the morning post a duplicated document arrived, headed “Unity in the CP”, but unsigned. It looks like another move in the dirty game of intrigue and deception in that party, which I do not propose to demean myself by participating in. In essence it accuses Chater and Co. of trying to get themselves expelled so that they can join the Labour Party and take the “Morning Star” with them. It is unsigned. A fat lot of attention I propose to give to the views of people who decline to identify themselves! But the thing show evidence of organisation behind it. It is in a stout white foolscap envelope and is franked, not stamped, but posted in NW 8 – St. John’s Wood. But how did they get my address? From Holborn – which points to the true author of the Woods pamphlet?[This was a pamphlet criticising the “euros” in the CPGB leadership which had been published the previous year by CP member Charlie Woods, for which he had been expelled. See Vol.32.] The thing that is most striking about all this sterile manoeuvring is the total absence of any attempt to state the political problem that divides them. All they can say is “McLennan no good, Chater no good – only me good.” Is it the “Straight Left” crowd? [This was one of the CPGB factions at the time].
I had a word with Stella Bond in the morning. She says Noel Gordon is coming back on Thursday and will be in the office on Friday. We will hold the Standing Committee on Thursday evening as arranged, and I have drawn up an agenda.
It was cloudier and cooler today – though over 70 degrees in the afternoon – and even threatened rain but could not squeeze out enough to wet the ground, but there was a South-West wind, a great scarcity since last March.
July 10 Tuesday: Another queer cloudy day reaching about 70, with a gusty wind and a very occasional tiny squirt of rain – I am sure too small to record. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning. In the evening it was Pat Bond, very perturbed at the state of the Connolly Association and Noel Gordon’s failures. I told him we must take measures to control him by forming an office organisation committee, giving Jane Tate and Stella Bond some delegated authority from the E.C. We must hold a special meeting of London members to rally the best forces. If Noel decides to give up we must find somebody else. I did not say so, but I would invite Eddie Cowman to come back for a year; failing him Colm Power. I want people I can rely on. I got a little gardening done. The clematis peptis is in flower.
July 11 Wednesday: It was cooler today and there were two showers which wet the top inch of the soil while leaving powder below. I am getting Michael Mortimer to mend my roof, Ashford [a local handyman whom Greaves normally employed for any work on his house] having so far not materialised. He called at 2.30 and stayed till 4 pm. smoking like a chimney. He’ll kill himself. Those were right who think the break-up of his marriage has left him rudderless. “You have to get a new wife,” I joked with serious intent. “Once bitten, twice shy,” was his reply. But he is a heavier weight than Noel Gordon, except perhaps in the sort of politics one learns in Ireland. Anyway we can’t afford to lose anybody.
I planted out some cucurbitas [ie. squashes], but whether they are marrows or pumpkins I don’t know. I also planted out the solitary surviving physalis. I have not been able to get cucumbers to germinate this year. On the other hand I have Tetragonia Expansa and Chinese convolvulus or Kancon. The rain was a boon to lettuce and swede seedlings.
July 12 Thursday (London): I went to London on the 11.30 and found Jane Tate in the office. She has been trying to trace the man Noel Gordon spoke to at the GLC – or whom he says he spoke to. We held the Standing Committee in the evening and my proposals were in general adopted. We had expected Noel Gordon, but Jane Tate tracked down Helen McMurray’s mother who is an old friend of Noel’s family and she said she had packed the two of them off to Donegal for a few days and that he would be back on Monday. We decided to have an Office Organisation Committee and to co-opt Stella Bond on to the Standing Committee to give her equal status with Noel. Daily we uncover things he failed to do. Pat Bond, Roger Kelly, Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue were there.
July 13 Friday: It was only today I managed to get a proper talk with Jane Tate. The GLC now say they have received no requests for funding from us. This only adds to the mystery. We found a map of Birmingham and notes on how to get to Alum Rock Rd. We also found invitations to the conference, begun but not finished. Pat O’Donohue was very concerned that a £200 bill had not been paid by Kilburn Library. Stella found the invoice. It had not been sent. Then she had a thought. Had the books been sent? She thought probably not. But just as it seems impossible that Noel could have conjured Alum Rock Road out of thin air, so it is hard to believe he had invented his conversations with the GLC. He says there is documentation which he can find. But we looked at every file in the office and can find no trace. There is not a single scrap of evidence of any approach to the GLC except Noel’s words. So will he be back on Monday?
I went over the events of “black Friday” with Jane Tate. She had said that Noel seemed quite normal but walked out of the office and went to bed. He had seemed quite normal, but had she seen him walk out of the office? No, Helen McMurray had told her, and said she thought he was on the verge of a breakdown. Then, said I, they have had a row and he has walked out. So we get gradually nearer, but this leaves the organisation in a desperate state, a tent with a wobbly pole.
In the afternoon the young man who runs the London District CP Irish Committee came in. I had a favourable impression. Also a letter came from Trask, also very friendly. Gilhooley, as his name is [This was Paul Gilhooley, who succeeded Noel Gordon as organiser; see below], openly blames Myant for all that is wrong. In the evening I found that a strike of restaurant staff had closed the buffet car on the 7.30 train. I decided to stay in London another night and telephoned Jane Tate. I called there and we went for a meal. Later a woman of about 50, her neighbour, came in and said she had been arrested on an anti-apartheid demonstration. She was quite a decent woman who had been out at Greenham Common [ie. where anti-nuclear demonstrations were held by women peace activists].About Noel Gordon, Jane said Helen McMurray’s mother said she had known him since he was a boy but was no nearer knowing him now than the first day they met.
July 14 Saturday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool on the 10.30 and arrived at 124 Mount Road soon after 2 pm., did some shopping and that was about that. The first hollyhock is out and the marrow mystery is solved. I had a row of turf pots in a propagator and not one generated. I then covered the propagator with a black cloth to exclude light and two have come up. I planted the larger one out. I must now do the same with the cucumbers, though it is very late for a decent crop.
July 15 Sunday: I spoke to Bernard O’Connell on the telephone. He assured me that George Davies was coming to Liverpool on Wednesday [Davies was a full-time worker with the New Communist Party, the breakaway from the CPGB in 1977]. He asked me if I knew that Joe Bowers was in London speaking to a CPGB school last week. I said I did. Did I know what had happened? I did not. But he told me that Bert Ward had written to him wishing to associate the CP Irish Committee with O’Connell’s trade union effort. He seemed to think this all very significant. From talk in London I gathered that Ward is somewhat discredited as a “creep” and a “line-follower”. I think it was Pat Bond described him as a “creep”.
I got some gardening done. The first annual poppy flourished, also the first Tropaeolum, rather late. I usually count the 7th of July.
July 16 Monday: I got some gardening done. This year all the fruit – bar the apples – have come at once. I’ve strawberries, gooseberries, loganberries, raspberries, black and red currants all ready at once, an “embarrass de richesses”. Michael Mortimer came in the morning to mend the roof. Bless us, if he hadn’t brought the wrong tiles. In the evening Jane Tate rang up. Noel Gordon came in straight from the all-night bus looking very jaded after the journey. She sent him home to bed. He said he had filled in a form and sent it to the GLC but had not kept a copy. She had sent out a notice about the changed venue of the social Noel had claimed to have arranged but had forgotten to book the room. She will tackle him tomorrow. I told her she must see it is tacitly understood that she is the boss. We will give him another chance, but under control. It seems Helen McMurray has stayed at home so as to be able to draw the dole.
A letter from Tony Coughlan enclosed one from Joe Jamison which reaffirms his intention of breaking the boycott of my book on O’Casey in American left-wing bookshops. This is Lowery’s doing. I had a look at Mitchell’s references. Three times he quotes (but inadequately) from a Soviet writer on O’Casey, Alla Sariskhanyan, who may have inspired his approach. Mitchell is brainless enough to have satisfied himself that if he took a Russian model he need do no research himself. This has a profound bearing on the state of the international movement and the problems of the CPGB, which are not just due to folly, though there is plenty of that.
July 17 Tuesday: Yesterday Michael Mortimer brought a ladder and was going to mend my roof, but he had brought tiles of the wrong size. Today he brought the right ones. But he seemed in no hurry to begin and came into the house, leaving his 15-year-old “punk-haired” daughter sitting on the grass, saying “I’m a bundle of nerves. I can’t get on that roof. I’ve lost my head for heights.” I made him a cup of tea and he decided to try again but had to give up. Too much chain-smoking, thought I, and quite possibly too much booze. So that was that. I paid him for the tiles – though he was prepared to let it go, and then gave him a half-bottle of wine, the other half leaving to drink myself, with the result of a sleep after lunch and not much seen for the day but a couple of hours’ gardening in the evening.
The drought continues and in places the soil is like powder and blows away in the brisk North-West wind at the slightest disturbance. The leaves of the rowan in the front garden have turned brown, but I think the trouble is a fungus. There are no berries this year. I flung a couple of buckets of water on a rhododendron also showing signs of stress.
Late at night I spoke to Jane Tate. Noel Gordon who had when she rang him up assured her that he could find the records of the GLC application, now says that he kept no record, but would bring in a diary he had at home which should contain the date. But so far he has not brought it in. So he is a bit of a wash-out. In a letter Tony Coughlan replied to my inquiring as to whether he thought at a pinch Eddie Cowman would come back on a temporary basis. He thought he would. Otherwise I might try Colm Power. It is important to watch people carefully before giving them responsibility. Those people with weak nervous systems run out of nervous energy and it is as devastating as a diabetic’s running out of insulin. I imagine the basis of this is chemical.
July 18 Wednesday: I did some more gardening in the day and wrote some letters. In the evening George Davies, the NCP man from Blackburn, addressed the Liverpool Connolly Association. I had a favourable impression of him. He came to the Irish Centre for a quick drink. He had to return in a hurry as he says his mother is very ill – he is a man in his late 30s. There were about 17 there, a poor turnout. But Barney Morgan arrived late and Michael Mortimer went off to some kind of dance at the Irish Centre, borrowing £5 out of the collection to do so, much to Joe O’Grady’s disgust. Stephen Dowling and the Labour Committee on Ireland man, James, were there. If I could get them in, I’d have good material. Joe O’Grady complains that Barney Morgan, though willing, is unreliable and Michael Mortimer has to be shoved all the time. And he is not far wrong. They never take up a fully responsible position.
July 19 Thursday: Jane Tate rang in the morning. She has taken the GLC thing out of Noel Gordon’s hands. He admits he has made a mess of it. He is doing manual work about the shop and she is not pressing him to do any organising. Anyway, she has found out that an application was made – they remember it but do not know what they did with it. So we are on the way. I have drafted a letter to Ken Livingstone but we will hold it up for a day or two, though news came at mid-day that he was resigning in order to force a by-election.
I got some gardening done in the afternoon and evening. Joe Deighan rang [ie. the former leading CA member, now returned to Belfast]. I had asked him about the possibility of getting a Belfast correspondent for the “Irish Democrat” and I think he has got one, a docker who runs his own newspaper, a member of the ATGWU known to Colm Power and called Denis Smith. He tells me that Flann Campbell and Mary Campbell are going to spend a weekend with him, I imagine because of Flann’s book.
July 20 Friday: I had a word with Jane Tate in the morning. She seems more or less to have “taken over” and said she only gives Noel Gordon jobs that she think he won’t fall down on. He admits he has “made a mess of” the GLC thing and they can still not trace the department our application was referred to, and though he says he met people, he has not the faintest notion of whom he met.
Today was again hot and dry. I did very little gardening, though I had intended to do some. I can’t transplant or plant out. In places the soil is a powder six inches deep. This evening there is a slight fall in the barometer, but little enough. And something I never remember in the olden days, an evening sea mist, like a “hoar” but more broken, drifted over. Of course in my young days I kept weather records and hardly ever remember a North wind, the only direction from which it could come.
July 21 Saturday: I spoke to Jane Tate in the morning and she told me that she had made an appointment to meet twisty Brennan (whom I suspect of losing our application, accidentally on purpose) next Wednesday. She will take Noel Gordon. Later I spoke to him. I could tell the difference. I asked him if he had gone to the August 18th demonstration committee last night. He said he had but could not find it in the vast Liberal Club with its 500 rooms. The concierge did not know where it was and he presumed they had not met. This sounds like a cock and bull story. Of course it might be true but it will require a long period free from fantasies before we will trust him again.
I spoke to Joe O’Grady. He told me that Barney Morgan had telephoned him last night. The two of them (without first consulting branch or committee, but doubtless on Barney Morgan’s initiative) have hired a bus for a trip to Percy French’s grave in Formby. I have engaged Andy O’Higgins [who knew various Percy French songs]. But then Barney announced to Joe O’Grady that he had “domestic problems” and didn’t feel up to making himself pleasant on August 15th. Joe O’Grady said the thing had gone too far to be cancelled out of the blue. Whether the problems relate to son, daughter or mot [ie. girl-friend or “partner”] I do not know.
Finally I got Peter Mulligan. He will come to London for the special meeting on Sunday 29th and will stay a couple of days. I asked him to take a day off and go to some libraries as our representative. I hope he will do that. I want to get the library trade before the competition begins [There was a big growth of interest in Irish Studies in Britain at this time, with relevant courses being laid on in some of the Polytechnics that were being given university status. Greaves wanted the CA bookshop to take advantage of this]. Noel Gordon could not blow a flea out of a trumpet. He has no drive and lets his time tick away without profit.
Still there was no sign of rain. It is not intensely hot – low 70s in the afternoon – but dry beyond measure. I keep having to take emergency measures to revive plants gone flaccid. That is now a public ban on hose pipes.
July 22 Sunday: In the morning Pat Bond rang up to tell me that Bill Hardy has died. He has left some money to the Connolly Association, the New Communist Party and the Communist Party of Ireland. Pat Bond wanted Michael O’Riordan’s telephone number so that he could pass on the news. The time of the funeral has not been fixed. I am fairly well on with the paper and might be able to go, but it will depend on the time of day and other things.
The weather was dry and warm again, though the air supply was cool with the now customary North wind. I had the first cycle trip of the year and went to Eastham, Whitby and Stanney. The whole area is transformed since I was last there in 1927 or 1928. But after Stanney the roads were the same and I went to Guilden Sutton, Christleton and Chester, from which I took the train back to Rock Ferry. There seems little doubt there are more butterflies. I saw quite a few small tortoiseshells and some meadow browns. Perhaps now the Government has started keeping local authorities short of money, they have less to throw away on poisoning things. I suppose I cycled 20 miles odd. I left at 2.15 and got to Chester at 5.30. I did not hurry. There were a number of elderly cyclists about and two or three clubs of young people.
July 23 Monday: Another day, warm and sunny too. This must be one of the greatest droughts ever. And it is troublesome because pests take advantage of weakened vegetation. In the day Pat Bond rang. Hardy’s funeral is at 11 am. on Friday morning – early for me. He also said the Stella was giving out about Noel Gordon saying he had done things when he hadn’t. He told her he had taken some papers to Central Books [ie. the CPGB bookshop a half mile or so down Grays Inn Road from the Connolly Association office at No. 244]. She went in and found he had not. But neither she nor Pat Bond have the slightest flexibility or imagination. It was being caught out telling lies that gave Pat Bond his stroke, and Stella not only thinks Noel Gordon is ill, but tells him so and asks if he’s seen a doctor. He says he has, but the doctor is no good; he will see Helen’s. And of course it is all complete nonsense. If he is so foolish as to consult a doctor he will be given an anti-depressant drug which will probably trigger off Heaven knows what side-effects and postpone the possible solution. I think it is just that the strain of working from week to week and never knowing what money comes in, has got too much for him. I also doubt if he will improve, though he must be given an opportunity. If he just hasn’t the nervous energy, no doctor will give it him. But I wish the women would not preach at him. They nearly drove Eddie Cowman round the bend! But he could take it.
In the evening George Davies rang. He wants to come and see me about the Trade Union committee. Of course it was with a view to bringing something of this kind about that I invited him to Liverpool. He will ring when he returns from his holiday.
I rang Bob Wynn and found that Toni Curran was at home and had a word with her. She is on another course of chemical therapy and says it destroys the immune system (I think she has it mixed up with transplants) and that she has a vaginal infection and is taking antibiotics. Yet she sounds on top of the world. Tony Coughlan had written to her.
July 24 Tuesday: A letter came from Pat Bond complaining of Noel’s saying he had taken papers to Central Books when he had not and that he looked in on the social which has had to be transferred to Marchmont Street, but spent all the evening in the pub. Later I got him – he cannot have come in till 12 noon – and he told me that the CP had a piece in “Troops Out”, probably written by Myant, boosting the work the CP had done on the Irish question. and referring at some length to its members who “work in the Connolly Association”, the people he does his best to stab in the back. He also made a song and dance about the big part played by the CP in founding the Connolly Association. That may be true, but those who did the founding based themselves on the principles he is opposing. Noel Gordon said also that Bert Ward had described the Connolly Association as an “ultra-left organisation”. Apparently Ward was attacked in the anonymous columns of the “Leninist”, whereas the Connolly Association was praised. So since he calls the “Leninist” ultra-left, those they praise must be so also! Bernard O’Connell sent an invitation to a meeting he is holding in Birmingham on Saturday. I may go on the way to London. Noel Gordon says he has sent off the letters I asked him to send to MPs. I hope he has. I thought his manner a little more self- confident today.
Later on Jane Tate rang. She agreed Noel was better today, but she says finances are desperate and it is no wonder. Donations are savagely down because everything is going to finance the miners[whose lengthy national strike and conflict with Mrs Thatcher’s Government was then ongoing]. So how we are we going to pay Noel Gordon who has not being doing anything to raise his wages? I told Pat Bond not to send out an appeal in competition with the miners, but I thought later a few selected people might be tried for an emergency donation.
July 25 Wednesday: I was telephoned by Jane Tate at 3 pm. after she and Noel Gordon had been to the GLC. It seems that the liaison officer was not there, but the matter was dealt with by one of his acolytes. They still do not know who handled our application, though talk about finding out. Jane Tate therefore typed my letter to Ken Livingstone [the prominent London left-wing Labour politician] and I will sign it and send it when it arrives. She has a fierce cold and went home to bed.
Pat Bond rang in the evening. He says the Connolly Association has no money to pay the prizes of the summer draw. They have been paying Noel Gordon for no work. And apparently Jane Tate rang Stella Bond today saying that Noel had told her he was feeling “disillusioned” with politics. So, as Pat Bond says, the trouble is political. And since “nervous breakdowns” do not exist, of course it is. I caught a hint one night that Helen McMurray wants Noel to give up the job, so much so indeed that I taxed her with it. If she becomes a librarian she will want him an electrical engineer and I can see him going to be a student. So when Barney Morgan said she would be the problem, he was not far wrong. Again if it has been at least half his intention to give the job up, that will explain why he didn’t bother to look for cash from the GLC and was prepared gaily to contemplate just “not going” to the Birmingham conference, and allowing a total collapse. I think also the state of the CP has a demoralising effect. I will try to tweak a little enthusiasm into him at the weekend.
The days are beginning to draw in. I was working it out. If each day of the 185 “above average length” is treated as approximately 1 degree, then the extra length of day is given by the sine – on the 23rd July Sin 60’ = 7/8. The rate of change of length of day is given by the first differential of that, namely Cos 60 = 1/2. So we have 7/8 of the extra daylight left, and the day is shortening at over half its maximum rate.
July 26 Thursday: I spoke to Jane Tate in the morning. She is lying in bed with a filthy cold. She says Noel cannot give a proper account of where he got the form on which he applied to the GLC for a grant. First he said he got it from the GLC, then he says he got it from the IBRG [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group]. He cannot give the names of the people he alleges he saw and only a vague description. He says that his mind is a complete blank for the week preceding Birmingham. She told him he must see a doctor, but I said I thought it a complete waste of time. He said to her that he was “disillusioned” with politics and particularly the state of the CP, which (says she) Roger Kelly is always talking about. So there has to be a policy for this. Later I spoke to him. He showed anything but enthusiasm for a paper sale on Saturday. I said I would see him at the shop but would not be surprised if when I got there he’d be away somewhere. It looks as if there will have to be decisions this weekend, though they may not have to be put into effect at once. Jane Tate tells me that Joe Parker, Charlie Cunningham’s friend and in the NCP, is the executor of Bill Hardy’s will and she will see him at the funeral tomorrow. I suggested she have a word with Michael O’Riordan [whose party paper, the “Irish Socialist”, was also a beneficiary of Hardy’s will].
I finished the paper, so that’s out of the way.
July 27 Friday: It was more cloudy today and a few spots of rain fell – about a yard apart – for five minutes. Effect zero. The source of the air is cool. But in the evening the wind hacked West and a much milder stream set in with tenticular alto-cumulus heralding a possible change. We will see. If the soil is disturbed it blows away.
I spoke to Noel Gordon and Jane Tate. The Greater London Council man has still not found our application. I am still not satisfied Noel ever sent it in, but I posted the letter to Ken Livingstone diplomatically suggesting a special arrangement. Jane Tate was at Bill Hardy’s funeral today – most of those present were from the Connolly Association: Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Tadhg Egan, Eamon McLaughlin and Barbara (with her hair cut short and still grumbling), Noel Gordon and a few more. Michael O’Riordan had flown from Hughie Moore’s funeral in Belfast [Moore had been a full-time CPI official in Belfast]. He and Pat Bond said a few words. Others present were Joe Parker from the NCP and one or two more, and Tom Durkin from the old CP. The others were mostly neighbours. Gaster is handling the business and Jane thinks the CA will get £2000 pounds approximately – Gaster suggesting October. This seems very quick, but perhaps the estate is a simple one.
Later Joe O’Grady telephoned. He has not been too well – teeth extracted. He said it was Barney Morgan who suggested the excursion and now drops it. I suggested his domestic troubles might be no more than that the mot [ie. his girl-friend] wants to go to Wales that weekend. We agreed to meet in the Irish Centre at 8 pm. on Monday.
July 28 Saturday (London): I went for the 11.20 to Birmingham only to learn that it has been retired. I’ve been telephoning Lime Street for days to check it, but there is never a reply. Bernard O’Connell had sent me an invitation to the meeting of his Trade Union committee, which met at 1 pm. – if it did. I could not now get there till 1.30 but decided to go. I had been ringing him for two nights without success. Today everything went wrong. A train in front of us broke a coupling. We had to pick up its stranded passengers and go through Perry Barr. I jumped into a taxi and reached the TGWU at 2.25. It was locked up. Nobody was there. I went on to London.
I had a talk with Noel Gordon and he twice said he had “made a mess of things” and also that he wanted to go back to Ireland but would not rush away without warning. His plan was for next May. He also said that Helen McMurray now did not want to be a librarian and blamed him and me for advising her to do it.
“What does she want to do?” I asked
“She doesn’t know.”
It looks as if Barney Morgan is not so far from the mark. He says “nervous breakdowns” usually have a marital content. I did not try to change Noel’s mind. I want to get enough money together to pay somebody who is capable.
July 29 Sunday: I had Noel Gordon in the office making a card index of all the books. I had asked Peter Mulligan to come to London and visit some librarians for us and he came today. I want to grab the library trade before the competition starts. At 6.30 we had the special meeting. It was useful. Peter Mulligan took the chair, the soul of competence, and those present included Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Stella Bond, Mabel O’Donovan and Charlie Cunningham. Afterwards when I told Jane Tate that Noel was talking about leaving next May Jane said, “Can’t we get rid of him before?” It is impossible to trust him about anything. Everything must be checked. Pat O’Donohue was also there.
July 30 Monday (Liverpool): I spent the morning in the office with Noel Gordon, Stella Bond and Jane Tate. One of the decisions the Standing Committee took while Noel Gordon was away was to establish an office organisation committee of Noel, Stella Bond and Jane Tate, plus myself when in London. This would give Noel instructions and ensure that the important things were done. Peter Mulligan came in and then left to call on Librarians. A letter from Joe Deighan came. It contained a crumpled cheque for £200 and a note to say the original had been “accidentally damaged in the post”. For some unaccountable reason Joe had put “Irish bookshop” or something like that instead of simply addressing it to Pat Bond. Two days ago I wrote to Bond suggesting that the financial crisis (due partly to Noel Gordon’s collapse and partly to the miners’ collections having halved our fund) could both be overcome by urgent requests for massive support from people close to us. The strange thing is that he rang me up suggesting the same before he got my note. I then advised him to have a word with Michael O’Riordan to tell him what we are doing and he did [This presumably was to prevent O’Riordan being resentful of political donations being sought from Connolly Association supporters in Ireland]. I also advised him to consult Roy Johnston, who is an expert where the pursuit or saving of money is concerned. £60 came today from Ned Connolly in Ráth Luirc [ie. Charleville, Co. Cork].
Editor’s Note: Attached to this entry in the original is the following note by Dr Roy Johnston, inserted at his request:
“July 30: The ID is in financial trouble, and CDG advises Paddy Bond to talk to RHWJ , who is alleged to be an expert on the pursuit of money. This indeed shows how much out of touch he was in that at the time my TCD contract had come to an end, and I had zero income. Between then and my current contract with IMS, which I picked up by sheer good luck in 1988, I worked an average about 2 months per annum, and even fell below the tax net. RHW Johnston, 27-01-02]”
I returned to Liverpool to find the underground in chaos. Finally, I learned the GLC man had still not traced our application, which it seems Noel Gordon sent in without consulting anybody on how it was to be filled in. Jane Tate and I thought he was consulting Pat Bond or Pat O’Donohue. Perhaps they thought he was consulting us. He asked for a duplicate form. But to have another string to the bow I wrote a letter to the ILEA [ie. the Inner London Education Authority] asking for support from them.
July 31 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. There were delays on the underground. I caught the 10.30, which got me to Ripley at the time the old 11.20 would have done. Moreover, I only caught it because it started late. The chaos at Ripley seems to be abating. The page proofs were ready. I had a talk with Terry Reynolds [ie. Manager of Ripley Printers] who is having a rough time. He showed me his photosetting machinery and explained how it worked. He is producing most of his weekly by letterpress but is gradually going over to the new techniques. The Union will only allow the change if the men are all paid more. And to make matters worse he has them working overtime; so my guess is that he has a nice overdraft! I got back to Lime Street early. The underground was still groggy, but I reached home by 9.30 pm.
August 1 Wednesday: I omitted to say that there was rain early yesterday morning, but there can’t have been much as the soil is still dry. Two marrows have died but the first tomatoes and borage flowered today. I went into Birkenhead in the morning, paid some bills and wrote to Bernard O’Connell deploring Saturday’s unsatisfactory visit to Birmingham. I heard from Pat Bond that Peter Mulligan had persuaded two Libraries to send out our posters to branches. I had the idea of offering them an advisory service and Peter was quite enthusiastic. Jane Tate says that Peter’s visit has been a “shot in the arm” for Noel. Pat Bond told me that Roy Johnston has promised us £100 or even £500 depending as his new contract with TCD to be agreed in September. The situation could never have been even this far turned round if we had not completely by-passed Noel Gordon, and Jane Tate still wants to “get rid” of him. If we got the money I’d rather appoint somebody over his head till he goes – if he really wants to. For you can’t depend on him. He tells Jane Tate that his mind is a complete blank for the period – a week before the conference. Helen McMurray is still in Belfast writing her “thesis”. But what when she comes back and the tantrums resume? She can also turn on the water-works.
From Jane Tate I also ascertained that “Artery” did not publish my review of Mitchell’s book. Joe Jamison told me that Lowery has effectively prevented the sale of more in the USA, but a recent letter informed me that he has begun his campaign against the boycott. I’ve been making jottings for a pamphlet.
August 2 Thursday: In the morning Barney Morgan called in. He is enthusiastic about his coach trip again. Apparently there is a wedding on the day before the coach trip and he has to accommodate people. This means putting Andy O’Higgins with Joe O’Grady and perhaps Jane Tate could stay with Michael Kelly [ie. as regards accommodating visitors from London who came for the Percy French bus outing in Liverpool]. He told me that Wirral is full of heroin addicts and he had only this morning taken one for treatment [Barney Morgan worked at Clatterbridge Hospital, Wirrall, as a social worker]. He said they will steal anything and tell any lie to cover it up and they will back each other up. He reported a “pusher” to the police but they could not catch him. It gets worse all the time.
I did a certain amount of clearing up. Noel Gordon telephoned in the afternoon. Ken Livingstone had acknowledged my letter. That’s the first acknowledgement. I do not know if Pat Bond has rung Mike Cooley [Trade unionist and theorist of labour relations who was a CA member for a time; presumably the approach was to seek help in the CA’s financial crisis]. Noel Gordon seemed a little more positive. Jane Tate says Peter Mulligan did him good.
In the evening there was a substantial thunderstorm which must have dropped close to an inch of rain at least. I had sowed more rocket and one or two other long-delayed things, but the soil was dry at two inches down. It will hardly be now. I was playing the piano around 9.30 and had a slight attack of faintness. It was so slight I wouldn’t be sure I had it, but I got up and sat down in the front room and it passed. At about 10.10 pm. I found a gas tap on the cooker was full on and not lit. I hope that was the cause – strangely enough the thought crossed my mind when I got up and I went in to see the cooker without putting the light on. I felt it was off. Really it was on. This never happened before and I can’t think why it occurred. I opened front and back doors and let the air blow through. I have had a filthy cold these last few days, despite the heat, and could not smell it. But later when I went into the music room I could smell it quite distinctly. No wonder I could not identify the symptoms when I looked through the “Macmillan Guide to Family Health”. If it had been carbon monoxide I would have spotted it at once. The trouble is that the lights in the kitchen have given out and though I went to the Electricity Board they have no 5-foot strip lights and do not know when they will have. I found myself breathing in strongly when the wind had cleared the house, so I think that is probably all. I hope so.
I heard from Jane Tate that Sawtell has not used my review of Mitchell’s “O’Casey”. During the winter he was telling everybody I was “uncomradely” for calling Mitchell “Mr Mitchell”. But he did not say so to me. He did not even acknowledge receipt of the review. I wrote offering to amend it to meet reasonable objections. No reply. So I must get ready to attack. I wrote Sawtell a letter of which I have kept a carbon copy, offering to send the book back in return for the manuscript of the review; alternatively to do a short factual review of Mitchell without prejudice to what I might say elsewhere, and carefully presenting the matter in such a way that I can use the letter as evidence of nothing but goodwill towards Mitchell. Sawtell is constantly. appearing in the columns of the hi-jacked “Morning Star”– which I am told Gordon McLennan and Co. and trying to recover by means of an extraordinary general meeting in November [ie. of the People’s Press Printing Society members, the co-operative which owned that paper]. I doubt their success. Possession is nine points of the law.
August 3 Friday: I did some substantial clearing up in the morning and later spoke to Noel Gordon. He seems more spirited and says the bookshop is doing well. But I could do nothing in the garden because of thunderstorms – a bad sign. After the thunder there was a thoroughly wet evening and everything is sodden. Ken Livingstone has resigned, so heaven knows who will handle our application. Noel Gordon thinks he will be returned [ie. in an election] But those who have resigned may not, and Labour might lose its majority on the GLC, after which, Poof! But this will be better than having. competitors subsidised and ourselves not.
August 4 Saturday: A most unsatisfactory day, dribbling and drizzling and cooler than of late. I went to the edge of Victoria Park where quite a few people had gathered to see the Mersey full of sailing ships, but I could only see one – and there are usually more than that – and so returned. The one advantage is that the drought is over and I’m going to sow Tropaeolums, all but one having died. I also bought some extra coriander.
August 5 Sunday: The morning was cloudy and damp and none too warm. I transplanted some pamphreys and collected some gooseberries. In the afternoon it brightened up. Pat Bond rang. He had decided that Cooley could not help him and reported that Noel Gordon was working better. But he vouchsafed the surprising information that he expected to retire next month at the age of 56. I asked if this was due to his ill health, but he said not. Apparently they have no niche to fit him in – presumably his present position is being abolished [Bond worked for a bank in the City]. He intends to work full-time for the Connolly Association. I wonder how that will work out. He will have the pension he has earned, and a “golden handshake”, but he will not be in a position to finance the Connolly Association as well [Pat Bond, one of the Bonds of Castlebond, Co. Longford, was comfortably off and had generously donated to the CA over decades].
August 6 Monday: Another miserable dribbling day. Why can’t it rain properly and be done with it? I collected some gooseberries. Pat Bond rang in the evening and said Noel Gordon is working quite well. I wonder if it will not collapse when Helen McMurray gets back.
August 7 Tuesday: Some very good handbills advertising the bookshop came from Peter Mulligan. Later Noel Gordon rang and he seems to have recovered lost enthusiasm. He has written to the GLC and I suspect there is some contrary influence there, for he asked for a duplicate form but has not received one. At the same time I would rather have Jane Tate pursuing it. Like Pat Bond I do not really expect to see any money but would like to be able to capitalise on martyrdom if we don’t [ie. because he would be able to claim that the CA was being unjustly discriminated against if denied funding]. He tells me that Myant has written a pamphlet. He and Pete Carter had been to the ICTU [ie. the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in Dublin] and it is mostly about that. That poor piss Bert Ward has devoted a huge chunk of his bulletin to the Connolly Association conference and bemoans the fact that nobody understood what he said – actually, he launched an attack on the Provos and everybody understood well that the Englishman was lecturing the Irish on tactics. And finally “Focus” has a “Round Table on Ireland” where the most abject nonsense is talked, Kath Scorer being the best. He promises to send this rubbish on for my delectation! What’s worse, he has to pay 50 pence for Myant’s. This visit to the ICTU is doubtless intended to link up with the right-wing forces opposing Sean Redmond [who was launching his Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence group in Dublin at this time].
Later Noel Gordon rang again. When Ken Livingstone resigned, my letter (carefully constructed in view of a future martyrdom act) was passed to the “Irish Liaison Officer”, Stephen Brennan, who promised to reply and to send Noel Gordon a fresh form and not only call into the bookshop but help us to get the money. He said the committee he had passed our application to was notorious for losing applications from Irish organisations (So why did he pass ours to it?). He also said a number of “politicians” on the GLC were favourable to the Connolly Association. So it looks as if Noel Gordon made the application but made a mess of the follow-up. I will try. I will ask him to try to contrive that if and when Brennan calls Jane Tate is there – “as a witness”.
August 8 Wednesday: I spoke with Joe O’Grady in the morning. They have between them made a fine mess of this coach trip. Apparently it was Barney Morgan’s idea, but instead of attending the committee and discussing it he rang Joe O’Grady, who agreed to do it, no doubt without consulting Michael Mortimer. They complain he doesn’t “sec”, but they do not consult him. Then Barney Morgan wanted to pull out. Then he went in again. I arranged for Andy O’Higgins [who could sing Percy French songs and would be able to entertain the bus group] to come from London and Joe O’Grady arranged to go to firstly French’s grave. But Barney Morgan had no interest in this and did not advertise O’Higgins. Now they have only 30 for a bus that will hold 55 and Barney is asking me to write to Manchester – who would come to hear the songs, but not to “learn about the history of Merseyside”. Stupidity. stupidity and more stupidity on all sides!
I spoke to Noel Gordon. He agreed to have a witness if Brennan comes, but now discloses it was he who invited Brennan. No new form has arrived. But now Noel is talking as if nothing had ever gone wrong. “I still think we’ll get it.” I think he has a well-developed bump of self-esteem. However, he has been working busily these last few days. I think Helen can not have returned.
August 9 Thursday: Good weather seems to have returned but the air still drifts in from the north and stratus blew in after dusk. A card from Toni Curran told me she had had another operation and though it is supposed to be a step forward, she feels it is a step back. She is really a remarkable woman. Colm Power sent me some things. One was a copy of “Phoenix” dated 20 July [ie. the Irish satirical magazine], which hinted that the CPI has been infiltrated by “Stickies” and states that Tom Redmond has resigned as “Southern organiser” and been replaced by Eoin Ó Murchú. I am not sorry for it. I was always apprehensive above what would happen if Jimmy Stewart became the head man with Tom Redmond under him. I have never relied on Tom since he let us down in the ructions which led to the closing down of the North London Connolly Association [ie. in 1957-8]. I wanted the Minute Book but he gave it up to the Fred O’Shea gang and it has never been seen since. The report refers to a “number of resignations” from the National Executive Committee. It is possible that this is the real reason those two rats went over. I have long expected an attempt at interference and thought a good time would be when they were readjusting to Michael O’Riordan’s giving up the secretaryship. But Tom Redmond has spoken favourably to me of Myant. Going to the ICTU may have only been an excuse – or killing two birds with one stone. I will try to find out.
There is no doubt butterflies are returning. A small tortoiseshell appeared today but, more significant, a small butterfly with blue and brown was here a day or two ago. I forget its name. I can’t have seen one for fifty years. Would it be a small heath? Or a hairstreak? Ashford at long last started repairing the roof, from which a ridge tile was blown in the winter gales.
August 10 Friday: I did a little in the garden. I am feeling rather tired these days and suppose I badly need a break. But one is constrained by lack of money. On this question I wrote to Jane Tate. I was solemnly voted £150 a month a year ago. I doubt if I got more than a month and a half. Of course they haven’t got it, but it is no harm to keep staking the claim. For money may well be in the pipeline. I can’t start another book precisely through lack of funds to do the research. Well, it will have to wait.
August 11 Saturday: Another fine and warm day. The weather seems to have taken up again, but the ground is still dry. I thinned some swedes at the risk of disturbing the roots. I also got in the last of the gooseberries. Ashford went on with the roof. I look like getting a pretty bill. He claims to have had to go to Chester to get tiles. He says there is a glut, so the manufacturers close their kiln down and nobody knows when they will start it up again.
August 12 Sunday: I gathered in all the blackcurrants and heated them up to stabilise them for use over a period. I also gathered broad beans – not those miserable aqua dolce variety but some special ones I got from Thompson and Morgan. I’m fairly well placed now, pamphreys coming along well, plums and apples shaping up and Tetragonia expansa has proved a huge success. I am working on and off on the “epic” I have been planning for years [This is the first reference in the Journal to his comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”, one-third of which he completed by the time of his death in 1988 and which was posthumously published].
August 13 Monday: Ashford keeps finding things to mend – all on the roof where I can’t check – and went to Chester for more tiles. He’ll have me broke! I learned from Stella Bond that Pat O’Donohue had left me a cheque which Noel Gordon had not bothered to send on. Of course we none of us trust him now, which is not to say he is dishonest in anything, but he can’t be depended upon. Later Pat Bond rang and said Noel had undertaken to telephone me over the Falls Road atrocity but did not[The previous day a Catholic civilian, Sean Downes, had been killed by a plastic bullet fired by an RUC policeman on the Falls Road, Belfast. This was followed by a protest march and serious rioting in the area on the Monday]. Of course Monday is his day off. Pat Bond told me Charlie Cunningham had sent a donation of £50. Kilburn Library had paid £190 – so the books were sent after all. Noel always says that the bookshop is doing well, but Pat Bond says on many days nobody comes in at all. The drought continues, day after day without rain. There is not one runner bean, and the marrows grow, oh!, so slowly. I wrote to Sean Redmond who had sent a letter wanting to see me on September 13. He has got some minor government appointment [ie. by the Irish Government] on a committee that has £68,000 pounds for Irish organisations in Britain [ie. for bodies that had charitable purposes]. I also wrote to Denis Smyth in Belfast who may write for the paper, and Niall Power in Manchester.
Very late Jane Tate rang. She says Pat Bond is going away for a month’s holiday in Ireland next month. After that he promises her two days a week in the office, though he promised me “full time”, which I think more likely. Jane would “get rid of” Noel Gordon if he would do that, but I said, “See how it works out.” They will be a rare quartet if it is Noel, Pat Bond, Stella and Jane Tate. As for Pat Bond, I’m a bit sorry for him. He has the touch of a wounded animal. He can’t discuss anything naturally. I complained of something in passing and he said, “That’s not my fault.” Who said it was? His damaged ego is too close to the surface and whether he will ever recover I don’t know. If Noel goes, let him go of his own accord, and for my part I’d like to bring back Eddie Cowman or Colm Power.
August 14 Tuesday: Another dry warm day but without much sun. I decided to wait no longer and transplanted the pamphreys and watered them, even though the soil is as dry as powder eight inches below the surface. I think there was a sprinkle of rain in the night, but not enough to wet more than the grass. Michael Walsh from Birmingham wrote me about the ASTMS “fringe meeting”, which falls on November 18th, the day of our conference. We decided to try to finish at 4 pm. and then go to Blackpool when I consulted Joe O’Grady. He has 37 for the coach trip and may just break even. Tony Coughlan wants to stay with her, so Jane Tate can’t come. I spoke to Jane and advised her to contact any GLC councillor she knows, that is to say to begin agitating. She was amazed at Noel Gordon’s “still think we’ll get it” – I never heard anything quite so “bats” – and told me how she went into the main office and saw Noel with a vacant expression on his face staring at nothing. She asked what was the matter. “Oh”, he replied. “Only day-dreaming”. And that must be the way he is half the time. He was posting me some material last Thursday, but there is no sign of it. He received a postcard “date as postmark” (Oh, liberated!) but did not note when it arrived!
August 15 Wednesday: Same weather. I wonder is there a pulse of life in the roots of the withered spiraea. The Artemisia Abrotanum is turning brown. So are the gooseberry bushes. Still, I got something done. Ashford found so many more things to mend that he is liable to charge me £800. He was very apologetic, but tiles are expensive and the roof is in a terrible state. I will be digging into reserves as £800 may mean £1000. He went off to Chester but all the tiles had gone, so he will do what he can and come back when tiles are available.
Noel Gordon rang up. He swears he sent me some material last Friday. There is no sign of it. Jane Tate has now received the GLC form – twenty pages long. Noel tells me that McKay, the CP organiser, rang Philip Rendle for his advice. They are not participating in next Saturday’s demonstration for withdrawal from Ireland [organised by the Labour Committee on Ireland and others] and McKay is inundated with phone calls telling them they should. I told young Gilhooley that they should but warned him there would be opposition from the St. John Street Establishment [ie. the CPGB Head Office]. I wonder if they will change their minds. Feicimid [ie. We will see]. This morning’s “Daily Mirror” calls for a United Ireland under the Haughey recipe [C.J. Haughey was leader of the Fianna Fail opposition to the Garret FitzGerald Government in Dublin at this time and had made statements advocating a united Ireland as the solution for the Northern “Troubles”]. The cheque came.
August 16 Thursday: Another warm, dry day with a certain amount of hazy cloud. I reconstructed the loganberry fence and that was about all apart from a little on the paper. There were letters from Colm Power and Paul Salveson. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” that Benn and others have taken up Sean Redmond’s Trade Unionists’ demands – a very important thing (He says he will be in London on September 13th and wants to see me) [These demands had been expressed by the Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence group (TUIUI), which Redmond had initiated in Dublin]. I had a word with Noel Gordon and suggested considerably widening the circulation of our letter to the Prime Minister. Noel and Jane Tate were at a picket of Downing Street last night. They were disappointed that not many Connolly Association people turned up. Noel elaborated on the Rendle thing. It seems that the CP wondered whether to walk on Saturday next and Myant was asked to discuss it with the Irish Committee. But it was not discussed because Myant did not attend – Noel thinks deliberately as he knew he would be in a minority. So McKay had no advice and turned to Philip Rendle, who replied that it had not been discussed! Noel thinks that the pro-Provisional element probably organised a telephone campaign. As for Myant, if he had any concern for the movement he belongs to apart from his own advancement, he would avoid setting an example of trickery and evasion.
August 17 Friday: Another dry day but with stratus and also high cloud and sea breezes in the afternoon. I got very little done. I was on and off the phone to London trying to get pictures for the paper. Another packet of material Noel Gordon swore he sent has disappeared in the post. I also arranged for Janet Walsh to meet myself and Andy O’Higgins at Lime Street tomorrow. And I sowed another drill of lettuces and some colcannon for the spring. Ashford could get no more tiles, so broke off for a few weeks. According to Noel Gordon, Bert Ward came into the shop with copies of his bulletin. Noel was out at the time.
August 18 Saturday: I am trying to get the house a bit more ship-shape before the winter comes. August 12th is past and soon we’ll have autumn. Noel Gordon could not get the pictures from the NUM in Grays Inn Road and there was no answer from Sheffield [Presumably these were photos for the “Irish Democrat” relating to the ongoing miners’ dispute]. I might have to go to Sheffield on Monday, but time presses and I have other things to do. I met Andy O’Higgins at Lime Street. He had brought another building worker with him – also CP. He was at the “fringe meeting” addressed by Myant in Southport at the UCATT Conference. According to O’Higgins Myant was “brilliant” and gave a factual exposure of all that was happening in Ireland. “You could see clearly it was all due to Partition – though he didn’t say much about how it was to be ended.” “No”, said I, “He would not. What he was trying to do was to line up the building workers in his battle with Costello and Chater. And you’ve got a fine choice: either you support ‘Eurocommunism’ or you condone the hijacking of other peoples’ papers.” Andy O’Higgins strongly agreed with this, though he had not seen it. He told me how he and Chris Sullivan had written to the “Morning Star” reproving them for attacks on the Dublin Government. Myant published it alongside a picture of a little girl (probably a tinker) begging on O’Connell Bridge. I remember this but did not recall that it came from Chris Sullivan or O’Higgins. I also was annoyed at Myant’s blatant editorial bias. This Myant is a very nasty piece of work, and a capable ward-heeler too. He’ll be General Secretary [ie. of the CPGB] if nothing upsets the applecart.
Another thing happened. I rang Jim Arnison asking for Frank Watters’s address in Barnsley. He told me he was just back from the USSR and had published 700 copies of a pamphlet attacking “Eurocommunism”. He promised to send me a copy.
Andy O’Higgins was also at the Wembley Conference and said Gordon McLennan indulged in “undignified ranting” when he spoke from the floor. I don’t blame him for expressing himself with vigour, but it is a bit late for coming the “strong man”. It will be worse before it’s better. At 7 pm. Michael Kelly, Joe O’Grady and Janet Walsh appeared and after a drink took O’Higgins and the other to stay the night in Crosby.
One thing I disliked. The Connolly Association has not been mentioned with regard to tomorrow’s trip, neither in the Irish Centre or in the “Irish Post”. But its funds have been used for it. I tackled Joe O’Grady, who said he did not want to “flaunt” the CA. But it is clear to me that this is all a piece of Barney Morgan’s self-glorification. He sent a statement to the “Irish Post” which says that Barney Morgan had “persuaded” Andy O’Higgins to come. from London. This is of course sheer invention. Barney Morgan did not want to hear of Andy O’Higgins until suddenly the publicity potential struck him. It was all cooked up between Joe O’Grady and Barney and though they moan that Michael Mortimer takes no interest, they themselves fail to consult him. He is not coming. Joe O’Grady deplores it. But he is the secretary and nobody discusses the thing with him. Nevertheless, it looks like being a success, which is to the good.
August 19 Sunday: I went to the Irish Centre and found Andy O’Higgins and Jack Kennedy there. I tackled Barney Morgan about the failure to mention the Connolly Association. He said that as far as the “Irish Post” was concerned he had sent the information and MacLua [ie. Brendán MacLua, editor of the “Irish Post”] must have cut it out. Anyway, he made amends by announcing it when the bus started. There were a good 50 people on it. Every seat was filled. So the Liverpool branch will make about £30, badly needed as they owe me £100. What was better, Joe O’Grady, whom I tackled about getting names and addresses, did so, so all was well. Barney Morgan was in great form and everybody was delighted, especially with Andy O’Higgins who sang four songs.
I had a word with John Gibson who was with Walker, another “hard-liner” and a very decent man. John told me that Arnison had sent an article on “Eurocommunism” to “Marxism Today”. Jacques photocopied it [ie. Martin Jacques, editor of the CPGB monthly] and distributed it round the Editorial Board. This, I understand, he does every time. Anyway they refused to print it. But John Gibson was not prepared to leave it at that – and here I thought I dictated manifestations of the “slave mind”, as of an employee who feels “wronged” by his employer and dwells on the affront even when no action is possible – he told me how in the case of the “notorious” article attacking corruption in Trade Unions, which John Gibson regarded as an attack on the Unions pure and simple, no photostat was sent to Costello, who then replied in the “Morning Star”[Michael Costello had been CPGB Industrial Organiser, but left that position to become industrial correspondent for the “Morning Star”, where he covered the miners’ strike]. I asked wouldn’t Arnison get into trouble. He thought after the refusal to publish by “Marxism Today” he would not. But if Myant wins in November he’ll be for the high jump. Of course on the Trade Union corruption Wilf Charles, who is in a position to know [Wilf Charles was a leading trade unionist in Manchester], told me it was corrupt from top to bottom. The only – and it is an important – complaint is that the “Marxism Today” man did not start at the top and castigate imperialism but (if I remember aright) moaned about obscure shop stewards fiddling their expenses. And of course, the whole thing was negative.
August 20 Monday: Another hot day. I managed to get off two pages of the paper, but Tony Coughlan’s stuff has not come. He posted it last Monday.
August 21 Tuesday: The trouble with hot nights is that you don’t sleep well. If the window is left open you are deafened. If it is closed you are roasted or suffocated.
At 10.30, dead on time, George Davies arrived. I had guessed that he was probably trying to do something for the NCP rather than for the Irish. And sure enough before he left he was asking me to write for the “New Worker”, which I declined to do. Apparently he didn’t know I was ever in the CP. I said I would be happy to advise them if they wished to consult me. Apparently he was largely brought into things by Martin Guinan – “another casualty of the Communist Party”, as Michael Crowe puts it [Martin Guinan in Blackburn had been a longstanding CA member; Michael Crowe was a CA Executive Committee member who lectured in French in Sunderland].
There is a lot of internal CP stuff that jars on me – the language of an elite cult. He had his share of it. But he is not bad. He began as a textile worker. He described some of the characters who have manned the Lancashire District Office and (knowing them) I could not disagree with his description. He is trying to “restore” what he calls “Leninist” forms. I told him I was sceptical and we must expect a period of flux. There is a touch of naivety, but plenty of shrewdness and he is good on the Irish question. Among other things, he told me that the NCP are invited to a conference in Afghanistan, which he regarded as oblique recognition by the CPSU [The USSR had at this time intervened in Afghanistan to support its then left-wing government]. But I told him I was not impressed by all this gallivanting round foreign parts and thought by encouraging it the USSR had put holiday-seekers in the leadership of every party in Western Europe! He said that when I was in Birmingham they closed the front door when the meeting started and they were there all the time.
Later I spoke to Noel Gordon, Flann Campbell and also Pat Bond.
George Davies said that Bernard O’Connell attended the Labour Committee on Ireland Executive meeting and more or less handed over their Trade Union operations to the new organisation. There was some dispute about the speakers at the TUC fringe meeting but it was resolved. His view of the CP was that it was as good as finished. At the same time when I said some time there would be a grand reunification conference, he agreed he could envisage this. Obviously he and his friends are very interested in the CP. He says there is a dissident group round Fergus Nicholson and another round Ken Gill, but that Gordon McLennan is a “prisoner of the right wing”. He thinks Myant and Jacques are enemy agents. His visit lost me the morning and I am behind with the paper.
August 22 Wednesday: I got up at 6 am., largely because it was hot, and once you are awake that was that. Arnison was as good as his word, and his pamphlet arrived today. What John Gibson had told me was published in the preface. I must say that in general I agree with him. This is a far better approach then that other one that concentrated on individuals. Arnison fights on policy. Actually I would go further. I think he was strongly opposed to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. I was not. I saw a vision of the thirties being repeated with the members of this old cordon sanitaire going down like ninepins. Anyway there is now a fight back from within the Establishment, if one might so phrase it, although it is the Chater/Costello element who may survive and Myant not.
I had a word with Sean Redmond who agreed to speak on November 18th. He told me that the Labour Committee on Ireland had advertised him for a fringe meeting but had not asked him if he could do it. I spoke to Michael Walsh in Birmingham and also later to Niall Power. It seems they have asked Bernard O’Connell to speak at the fringe meeting. Sean Redmond remarked that George Davies was 100% genuine, but O’Connell had just the touch of a chancer. This was illustrated yesterday. In his absence they had elected George Davies as chairman of the organisation, but he will decline as he works for the NCP.
August 23 Thursday: Another hot dry day in which I nearly finished the paper. Rain was forecast. It suddenly clouded over at 6 pm. Ha!, I thought, a thunderstorm. At 6.30 there came a spot of drizzle which came nowhere near wetting the ground. Then all was dry again.
August 24 Friday: I posted off the last of the paper and arranged for Noel Gordon to go to Ripley on Tuesday. At about 2 pm. Tony Coughlan arrived and after lunch we went to the Liverpool “Garden Festival”, which I must declare did not greatly impress me, though it was crowded. It was very hot.
August 25 Saturday: We got the 10 am. train and went to Ruabon, whence we took a bus to Llangollen. We walked up the valley as far as Valle Crucis and the Eliseg Pillar. It was very hot and hazy and only the lower slopes of the mountains were visible. We got back at about 9 pm.
August 26 Sunday: Tony Coughlan left by the 11.30 for Caergybi and Dublin and I did very little afterwards except to clear the broad beans bed, shell them and cook them. Again it was hot and misty and again rain was forecast and had not arrived by nightfall. The first marrow flowered – their lateness is due to the drought. I’ve lots of things I can’t plant out.
August 27 Monday: Once more prophesied rain did not materialise. I am using a can to water key things, but on the whole thanks to the absence of. wind for a long time the garden is in good shape and I cut a cauliflower for lunch. I saw another butterfly I had not seen for years, a “small copper”. I couldn’t find a book on butterflies in the house. I thought Phyllis had one, but maybe not. So my recollections of the names are over sixty odd years. I studied the GLC form that Jane Tate had sent me with Tony Coughlan and rang her up about it.
Finally, I rang Arnison and asked him to send me four copies of his pamphlet. I want to send copies to Alan Morton, Brian Wilkinson and Joe Deighan. He told me he had posted 700 copies and they were sold out. He was reprinting. Grimshaw, the Labour Party printer, had sold 40. He had seen Jimmy Stewart in Moscow and given him one. He recognised that there were crudities in it, but he thought there was no time to lose. I asked him why he had not included the Irish question. He said it would have involved a separate chapter, but he quite understood that it was very apposite. I hinted at Myant and he hinted back. Arnison talks openly of the “other side”. Rothstein had encouraged him [ie. longstanding leading CPGB activist Andrew Rothstein].
August 28 Tuesday: Colm Power sent me a cutting that shows “Marxism Today” is now coquetting with the royal family! For some time past I have thought that commemorating R. Palme Dutt might raise useful issues. I wrote to Andrew Rothstein suggesting it. But later I reflected that RPD may have lived in Hampstead, so I wrote to Jack Gaster as well.
I saw another butterfly today – I think known as the “wall” butterfly. Noel Gordon was at Ripley. There was no rain today, but I think now that there may be some soon. The wind is South-West and it is cooler. There is more wind, no mist in the sky and at sunset lenticular alto-cumulus and a peach- pink sky plus a falling glass.
August 29 Wednesday: There was rain in the night, but hardly enough to wet the ground. For example, under cabbages and marrows the ground is bone dry – and I with cauliflowers to plant out. Jane Tate rang in the morning. She goes with Noel Gordon to this Brennan character today. She said she had no intention of saving Noel Gordon’s face – if he had to admit he didn’t know what he’d done, well so be it.
Then came trouble in a big way – a bill for £172 from Fisher the accountant. The Finance Committee voted me £150 a month, which was only paid once or twice. So I wrote to Pat O’Donohue and said they should pay it out of my arrears. I thought the decision was taken either early this year or perhaps as early as November but could find no record. Well today I went much further back and found the date of the meeting, May 23rd 1983. So I wrote to Jane Tate. I wrote to Tony Coughlan, and also to Joe Jamison.
In the evening Jane Tate telephoned. Noel Gordon is up to his tricks again. She went into the office this morning. He was not there. When he came in he said that Brennan had postponed the meeting to Friday. “But how do you know?” “I telephoned him from Ripley.” “Why?” “Oh. It’s no harm to confirm it.” “But surely to goodness it was up to him to notify us if he couldn’t see us, and far better for us to go and find him out.” Now I am beginning to form ugly suspicions. He doesn’t want us to succeed. I am aware that “Green Ink” are getting £85,000 and also that he says he was in touch with them about our application. Has he done a deal with them? Anyway, Jane Tate wrote to Brennan saying she was disappointed at the postponement and saying she would see him at 11 am. on Friday. Either Noel is a psychological case or some dirty work is afoot. She had asked Noel to contact Pat O’Donohue. I said at once, “Do it yourself”, and she said she would. As far back as January he was supposed to be getting a grill to protect the windows. Two firms failed to do it and the third (non-professional man) is “in Ireland on holiday and has stayed longer than we expected”. He always seems to know the exact reason for a delay, yet he never takes any action. We are just ticking over until Pat Bond arrives in mid-October. As Jane Tate said to me, “Noel Gordon! – It’s like a death wish.” But another thing is this. Helen McMurray is back – he has started when this happened.
I rang up Toni Curran to see how she is. The basic tumour was removed by surgery. Now she has been having “chemotherapy” but after a month can have no more. They tell her there has been a “scattering” – I hope this doesn’t mean that tumour cells are all over her! They are talking of some further treatment. She is astonishingly cheerful and certainly deserves to survive. I suppose that is a sporting chance. I also spoke to Bob Wynn. She says Tony Coughlan is talking about having brought the history of the Connolly Association up to the 1980s in three days of research. I don’t think he has much idea of how much should really go into a history. But still, it is something that it is done at all. Conor passed his exams and is following Niall to Manchester [These were Toni and Gerard Curran’s two sons].
Finally I record that a letter from Colm Power passed on the news that two of the CPI’s leading Trade Union lights, Eddie Glackin and Jerry Shannon, have resigned. He does not know if it is linked with the Tom Redmond report. Colm does not give his evidence and I presume it is hearsay.
August 30 Thursday: Another dry day – warm rather than hot, perhaps about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a trifle breezy. The ground is powder. I can’t think of planting out cauliflowers, but just water them in situ. Happily they are scarcely growing. The marrows are flowering, as late as last year. I did some clearing up – not much.
Late at night I managed to ring Jane Tate. She had been in touch with Pat O’Donohue, who had done a powerful job on the accounts and came in at 6 pm. Noel Gordon was there but displayed no interest and went off for a meal. So few people came for dispatching the papers (no doubt thanks to his failure to rustle them up) that she had to stay and help – while admittedly he came back to do the work. She speculates that he may be sulking at being pushed on one side. I said, “Let him sulk.” We’re too busy to bother about that. It is a merciful thing that we don’t sulk when we don’t get our own way. There’d be plenty of sulking done! But what Jane Tate can’t get over is that Noel professes to be unable to remember anything he says he has done. “A guilty conscience,” said I. Pat O’Donohue thinks he sent something in but that some friends of “Green Ink” decided to lose it. I hope those friends do not include Noel himself.
August 31 Friday: It was around 5 pm. before Jane Tate telephoned. She and Noel Gordon had been to see the Brennan character and he had advised them about filling in the GLC form. There seem to be no great problems. But they want me to go to London on Monday, when I had intended going away. But I will go and take the opportunity to raise one or two other matters. Later Noel rang, sounding very out of humour, and said that Green Ink had got £85,000 by pretending there was no such thing as an Irish bookshop in London. He said he knew somebody who attends their meetings who tells him they are finding it hard to get premises. He suggests that they deliberately forgot we existed. On the other hand they may have thought we had gone out of existence when we moved to Battersea.
I rang Jane Tate later commenting on Noel Gordon’s mood. She said Helen McMurray was to have looked after the shop while they were away but did not show up. Jane commented on his glumness. He said he was “fed up” and would like to go away to a desert Island for three years. Jane queried that he had had a row with Helen, with whom he doesn’t seem to be getting on. He told me that she is blaming us for persuading her to study librarianship rather than take a straight English degree. “But what does she want?” “She doesn’t know.” I know. She wants to be at the top of the ladder without climbing it. So it seems that Barney Morgan was right. His trouble is marital stress. And the degree thing was weeks ago. It may be worse now. So it looks like being psychology, though it has a mighty villainous effect.
September 1 Saturday: There was rain in the night – though little enough – and drizzle at times during the day. I looked over a few years’ records to see if anything can be deduced about Noel Gordon. I think that Barney Morgan is right and relations with Helen McMurray are at the root of the problem. I have long thought it possible that this romantic liaison might break up. Only something of considerable emotional force could have produced the violence of his perturbations. I had a word with him on the ‘phone and he seemed cooperative but not happy.
I started cutting up some of the timber that is lying about. I strive not to be short of fuel in the coming winter. The vegetables are better this year, mainly owing to the absence of wind. Indeed I was rarely so well placed, though root crops are poor. The Marmande tomatoes look like ripening on the plants, and runner beans, pamphreys and Tetragonia are prolific.
September 2 Sunday: It was warm today with “showers” that did not wet the ground. I wrote to Doswell [ie. of the Liverpool Trades Council], Joe O’Grady and others. Niall Power telephoned. He got the papers this month – for the first time. Yesterday I received a bill for £100 from the ITGWU that Noel Gordon and Pat O’Donohue had undertaken to pay two years ago. I can well believe they omitted to pay it. I will tackle them on Monday.
I was reading a bit more of Ward’s newspaper. He gives great prominence to a statement issued in Moscow and Dublin signed jointly by the Workers’ Party and the CPSU [The Soviet Communist Party(CPSU) and the Workers Party – the former “Official” Republicans, led by Cathal Goulding, Sean Garland and Tomás MacGiolla, who had split from the “Provisionals” in 1970 – established formal fraternal relations with one another during 1983. The CPI, led by Michael O’Riordan in Dublin, were not happy about this. See Brian Hanley and Scott Millar, “The Lost Revolution”, 2009, Chapter 14]. I wondered whether to connect this with reports of problems in Dublin. Colm Power tells me that Eddie Glackin and others have “resigned”. From exactly what I’d not know. I understand that the Russians are short of friends and can hardly be expected to understand and see through the type of opportunism the Workers Party specialises in. But I doubt if they consulted Michael O’Riordan. The trouble is that if you are a superpower you don’t need to read fine print. If they make a mistake it is a minor hurt, but it may be a major hurt to the Irish movement. And the English will make use of it to the advantage of the “Stickies”, notwithstanding their own anti-Sovietism. Bert Ward also publishes a speech by Tom Gill [ie. Tomás Mac Giolla, President of the Workers Party, formerly “Official” Sinn Fein] calling for state power for the Irish working class “all or nothing”. The preposterous humbug!
September 3 Monday (London): I caught the 10 am. and Noel Gordon met me at Euston. He was not very forthcoming. However we had a talk and went to the office where Jane Tate was waiting. At 6 pm. Pat O’Donohue arrived and we spent two hours on the application for the GLC grant – so long indeed that I decided to stay overnight at Jane Tate’s. Noel took no part in the financial discussion and associated policy determinants. But I thought he was out of his depth. Pat O’Donohue says Helen McMurray has ordered too heavily [ie. ordered too many new books for the bookshop]and as a result we are embarrassed worse than ever.
September 4 Tuesday (Liverpool): I had quite a talk with Jane Tate. She told me that last Thursday she forgot to give Noel Gordon his wages cheque. She has taken the cheque book home. I can understand it. He told me he’s £150 in arrears for rent and is overdrawn by £200 at the bank, but that they do not press him as long as a cheque goes in every week. Helen is earning nothing and is still busy with this thesis she has been given three extensions for. She now talks of pretending to go to live with a friend in Hammersmith, registering there as unemployed and drawing £25 a week. So he had to have a cheque to keep the bank quiet, but either he did not want to telephone Jane Tate or just panicked. I attempted to prescribe some form of campaign and Jane Tate told me when I got back to Liverpool that he seemed more cheerful. I got them to agree to an Executive Committee and a one-day school.
When I got to 124 Mount Road I found a letter from Andrew Rothstein replying to mine urging an R. Palme Dutt commemoration. He was definitely of the opinion that there ought to be one but thought there would be nobody prepared to do it. He did however take up my suggestion to ask “Liberation” and praised the “Irish Democrat”. The weather has turned cool and it seems there has been a fair shower of rain.
September 5 Wednesday: I wrote some letters and rang Joe O’Grady, who wants a branch meeting though Michael Mortimer resists it. I rang Michael and persuaded him. Of course it means I’ll have to attend. In the evening Alan Morton rang. He said the operation to his eyes dragged him down but he is feeling better now and indeed he sounded it. He had had a general anaesthetic. He is going to Freda’s [ie. his wife’s] brother in Hastings for a weak and may see me in London next Thursday. John Morton is trying to sell insurances. Alisoun is still doing nothing and being miserable. Alan says, “It is all very well telling her to keep up her spirits.” But I think he does not stimulate them. He’s inclined to be melancholic himself. Now John Morton has bestirred himself, I am sure if I knew Irish and Gaelic I would press my way in somewhere[Alisoun Morton had a degree in Celtic studies]. Why doesn’t she advertise a Gaelic class?
Then Noel Gordon rang from Brighton to say Sean Redmond was advertised, but I was able to tell him Merrigan was substituted, or so I believed [This was for a fringe meeting at the TUC annual conference in that town]. They had sold 100 papers and made many contacts. Finally Pat Bond came on the line for no real purpose. But he is interested. That is the main thing, though Jane Tate warned me he’s not the man he was ten years ago. However Bond, apropos of Noel Gordon’s complaining of Jane Tate’s “nagging”, remarks, “She’s very liable to go off at a tangent.” To hear elderly people tattle about one another is always amusing. He’s right though, if you talk to her about. bumble bees you’ll soon find yourself talking about grades of honey. It is not perhaps a tangent, rather a parabola. It comes back to land.
September 6 Thursday: It is still coolish, but dry again. Pressure is high and it would not surprise me if the weather took up again. I wrote some letters and rang Joe O’Grady to tell him Michael Mortimer had agreed to the branch meeting. He had met Bob Parry [ie. one of the Liverpool MPs] at the public house his wife keeps and secured his support for our conference. Noel Gordon rang in the morning. His spirits seem to have revived completely. They sold 88 papers at the TUC, including one to Scargill’s successor in Yorkshire [ie. in the National Union of Mineworkers].
Although Sean Redmond and Bernard O’Connell were advertised, it was some lesser light of the ITGWU who came to their fringe meeting and there were only about 25 to 30 there. Bernard O’Connell spoke, but there was tension though he spoke well. Niall Power had not wanted him, nor did others because of the NCP connection [ie. the New Communist Party]. Clare Short had apologised for not attending our conference [Clare Short was a Birmingham Labour MP of Irish background who was generally interested in the Irish question]. She said she was ill. “Well, you got the blame for that,” I said to Noel Gordon. “If the rabbit doesn’t come out of the hat, the conjurer’s no good.” Noel said some of the Labour Committee on Ireland were talking about Sean Redmond but changed the subject when he approached. I told him about Sean’s coming next Thursday. He had said he was meeting people, but I thought it was the same night. But he will probably stay with Brendan [ie. Sean Redmond’s younger brother, who lived in London].
In the evening Jane Tate rang. She had completed and signed the form and was sending it to a Mr Busdon. This gentleman had been called on by Stephen Brennan, the Irish Liaison Officer, and according to him is now a frightened man. The cream of the joke is that if he is blown up by his committee it may be for losing an application that never existed. Apparently it is my letter to Ken Livingstone that has worried him. But it is hard to believe that the committee of three, another committee of two, and then a single person, plus the two who came to look at the shop, were all figments of Noel Gordon’s imagination. But nevertheless not a single one of them has ever reappeared in the flesh! I only hope Busdon does not contact Noel while Jane Tate is away. Anyway, she is sending it recorded delivery. She says Noel is on top of the world and in some extraordinary way sees himself as vindicated. It’s important always to remember when dealing with him that he is like Mark Clinton – a bit of a case.
I managed at long last to plant out the cauliflowers, about nine of them.
September 7 Friday: It was dry but cool – low 60s – with a falling barometer, but I got some work done in the garden. I spoke to Noel Gordon in the morning and he seems better. Jane Tate thinks he hopes the GLC thing will go through. I wrote to Colm Power.
September 8 Saturday: It looks as if the weather has broken. I intended to go away for a few days tomorrow, but whenever I write down a holiday in my diary, surely the weather turns bad. It can only be purely fortuitous, but CEG [ie. his father] never had bad weather for a holiday in his life. I never had good except when there was no other, as in 1949 and 1959. Still, it did not rain and I did quite a deal in the garden. The West garden is nearly in order, the North untouched. Still I am using pamphreys, runner beans, turnips, mercury, spinach beet and above all tetragonia. I harvested coriander seed and have a load of apples. And as for fuel I have five hundredweight of anthracite in the shed and enough timber to build a ship, and more I can fell if I wish. Pat O’Donohue sent £220, which arrived this morning, so all is not lost.
September 9, Sunday: I could hardly have gone away today. There was a North-Westerly gale blowing, much to the destruction of the marrow plants (as last year) and a lone squall in the afternoon, after which the barometer fell. So what is coming next? There was a white watery sky with fracto-stratus, the worst possible signs. I wrote an article for the “Democrat” replying to Bert Ward’s nonsense. I don’t know whether I ridicule him too much. But if he is now going to insinuate his revisionism into the Irish field by challenging the Connolly Association policy, he will just have to get it back. Words could not convey the contempt I feel for these rubbishy pygmies who have seized the once proud Communist Party, snivelling, confused nincompoops who can’t write a clear sentence, and seem at every point about to break down in tears.
September 10 Monday: The weather was still bad, but not quite so bad. I had a word with Dorothy Deighan on the telephone. There was a letter from Malcolm Brown asking about this character Reed [It is not known who Reed was.]
September 11 Tuesday: The worst of the chill was out of the air, but I still had to have a fire at night. Letters came from Colm Power and Gerry Curran. I got little done but replied to letters. I had to pay £1.56 for a gimlet! Shocking price. The last one cost 20 pence.
September 12 Wednesday: I finished the reply to Bert Ward. I dealt with him fairly kindly in the end and deleted some of the more cutting comments. After all, he is a poor divil [Greaves generally used the colloquial word “divil” rather than “devil”] without much intelligence and can’t write an accurate sentence. If the people at the top were of any use he’d have his uses under them. I wrote to Malcolm Brown [A US academic contact]. Noel Gordon rang up seeming like his old self. I think the many problems scuppered him. When we took it over and made a job of his application, his optimism revived. But why he didn’t seek advice long ago, Heaven knows.
The Prenton Post Office is closed on a Wednesday, so I cycled along to Broadway. There I found wine 10 pence cheaper than the same brand across the road. I later bought an extra litre for the train tomorrow – £2.49 against £6.50 from British Rail. There was a sprinkle of light rain and it grew warm – a very good sign. If the weather takes up now it should hold into October. There is just time.
September 13 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I took the 10 am. train to London where summer was still going on and Alan Morton met me at Euston. We had lunch and then he left for Edinburgh from King Cross. He can manage to do some work as his left eye is sound, but there has been a loss of sight right in the centre of the right and he has to treat the left with drops to keep it sound. John Morton is now trying to sell insurance. He is 40! Alisoun is very depressed [John and Alisoun were children of Professor Alan and Freda Morton]. She cannot get work as a music teacher or anything else. But though of course I did not express this view, I still think there is a lack of initiative which Alan has encouraged [She had in fact a permanent disability condition]. I asked why she didn’t write on Gaelic flower names in the language press. He replied, “We’ve tried that.” But what they had tried was to get a university grant to write a book on it. I said a foot on the lowest rung would be the finest way to go to the top of a ladder. But he is showing his 79 years mentally now. I have noticed the tendency increasing over the years. It is what I called the “fine old English gentleman complex”. I gave him a copy of Arnison’s pamphlet.
I left him at Kings Cross and saw Noel Gordon at 244/46 Grays Inn Road [ie. the new CA office and bookshop]. He seems quite remarkably recovered. I think finances have improved since Helen McMurray contrived by some devious device to draw the dole. They will be £25 a week better off. Later Sean Redmond came and we talked about contact with the Labour Committee on Ireland. He is seeing Miriam James tomorrow [She was an official with the Labour Committee on Ireland]. I asked him about Tom Redmond. It is only the committee that he and Glackin have resigned from. Sean’s sympathies are with Tom and he obviously doesn’t like Eoin Ó Murchú. He says the CPI do nothing and Tom Redmond wanted activity, but the others obstructed him. So from this at any rate it is not “Eurocommunism”. I came back on the 8.50, which now has no buffet car on it. I had a bottle of wine with me, so all was well.
September 14 Friday: Today was wet and chilly, so we can write September off, not for the first time of late years. It used to be such a good month too! A student from Manchester Polytechnic wanted a speaker in October. I put him on to Paul Salveson. Then Eddie Cowman rang up. He is sending me cuttings but will not be taking a holiday till November as he is waiting for an interview for some job or other. Then Noel Gordon rang up. There was nothing startling. I did a little on the paper – very little.
September 15 Saturday: A fine enough day today. I did some shopping and rang Gerry Curran. Not much on the paper though. Paddy Byrne sent me a pamphlet he wants published [Byrne had been a Labour Party councillor, had been in the 1930s Republican Congress and was one of the founders of the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster in the mid-1960s]. It seems very good and I’ve a mind to do it.
September 16 Sunday: The weather seems definitely to have broken, so, though it will probably warm up in October for a spell, summer is over. I worked on the paper.
September 17 Monday: I spent another day on the paper. A letter came from Joe Deighan who told me about Dublin. There is always acrimony there, he says. Tom Redmond and the two Glackins (all FWUI) [ie. members of the Federated Workers Union of Ireland, formerly Jim Larkin’s union] have some disagreements, not, they say, with conference policy but with the way it is carried out. Tom Redmond resigned from his Dublin commitment and was removed from his assistant-secretaryship and membership of the “Political Committee” [ie. of the CPI]. The Political Committee complain that about six of them “won’t put their cards on the table”. Joe Deighan talks about their “reacting to short-term perspectives” out of impatience and frustration, and want alliances with the Women’s Movement, Sinn Fein and some of the Trade Unionists. He thinks there it is a resemblance to the issues in the CPGB. I sincerely hope not.
September 18 Tuesday: I went on with the paper. Noel Gordon told me he had posted papers to me on Saturday. I don’t believe he did and don’t expect to see them. He also told me the book lists were duplicated on Thursday. I asked for one to be posted it to me. There is no sign of it. Yet just now he is cheery as a tom-tit.
September 19 Wednesday: Still on the paper. In the evening the Connolly Association branch met. Several people were missing, though not the mad vegetarian Taunton, who wanted to pay his subscription but wouldn’t give it to Joe O’Grady because he “doesn’t like him”. Joe said the poor attendance was Michael Mortimer’s fault for sending the notices out late. That may be but I saw signs that Michael Mortimer is trying to pull himself together.
September 20 Thursday: I finished the paper and posted it off. A letter from George Davies contained useful addresses, and similarly one from Paul Salveson. These are the people the CP should have kept. Instead it scundered them [This was a colloquial word Greaves was fond of, meaning scattered or repelled].
September 21 Friday: I prepared the circular for the conference on November 18th but could not get Doswell on the telephone [Doswell was a Liverpool Labour Councillor and an official of the Trades Council]. I went to town to make purchases. Noel Gordon tells me that the Greater London Council has acknowledged our application in a letter from Boateng, who promised to support our application [Paul Boateng, Labour politician, later MP for Brent]. But we did not write to Boateng but to a man called Busdon. Noel would never bother about the fact that the man who can only support has replied, whereas the man who has to act has not. I must stay here till Jane Tate comes back. Anyway, the weather has broken completely. There were hailstones this morning and thunder in the afternoon, both a very bad sign. I spoke to Blevins on the phone and he was most affable. He wants me to speak to his branch. I have to see Mary McClelland, so must arrange to see him as well [Both were Liverpool CPGB personnel]. The papers came from Noel Gordon. They were postmarked Tuesday, the day I telephoned. One can bet he posted them then, but if I challenge him he will give me some chatter about a go-slow in the local Post Office. I am not going to put up with this indefinitely, but opportunity is the thing.
September 22 Saturday: The last day of summer – and wouldn’t do credit to late November, temperature in the low fifties, heavy showers and wind. I didn’t go out. Joe O’Grady rang and told me Eric Heffer [Liverpool Labour MP] wanted to sponsor the November conference [ie. a CA conference on Ireland and World Peace in Liverpool] and had bought a Connolly badge and was talking about joining the Connolly Association.
September 23 Sunday: Another chilly day and wet in the evening, but the barometer is rising. Noel Gordon rang in the morning and said he couldn’t go to Ripley tomorrow. He gave an optimistic account of the South London venture and said an official of the GLC was there. Later I rang Pat Bond, from whom there was less sunshine talk. He thought they had put in a lot of work and would “break even”. Noel had worked well, but he told me that the Greater London Council official present was Stephen Brennan. Why could Noel not tell me this? Because like an electrician’s foreman, he thinks his position depends on his being the man who knows something. Later I spoke to Jane Tate, who is back. Noel had failed to send a letter to the chairman of the Community Committee with whom we are negotiating a venue for a series of lectures, though the latter were typed then and there. The man we applied to for the GLC grant over two weeks ago has not even had the grace to knowledge it, though Boateng, to whom we sent a copy, has done so. Now Jane Tate arranged that if Busdon did not reply in a week Noel Gordon would telephone him. He failed to do so. He is a hopelessly bad organiser.
September 24 Monday: Noel Gordon was supposed to go to Ripley today, but said he had to do some clearing up after the South London thing. Whether this was true or not I don’t know – very likely partly true. Anyway, I had to go myself. The only stroke of luck was meeting Sam Watts, who was going to a dockers’ meeting and gave me £10 for the “Irish Democrat”.
September 25 Tuesday: I went to 35 Shaw Street and saw Mary McClelland and Blevins [CPGB officials in Liverpool]. I took her to lunch and she told me a few things. Kay [ie. an earlier CPGB organiser in Liverpool] made a hopeless mess of his organising and had the wrong people managing the club. The result is that they may have to sell their building to pay their debts. Apparently there is plenty of money in London, but they regard Liverpool as mildly “hardline” and won’t help them out. Blevins does not agree with the E.C. on the issue of the “Morning Star”. She says membership is down to 500, the lowest ever [presumably this was the figure for CPGB members in Liverpool]. I told her about the Connolly Association conference on Ireland and World Peace, and she promised to assist with moral support. She thinks the Communist Party divisions are too deep ever to heal. Personality clashes have grown up out of the political differences. If that is the case, and I become certain that it is, I may take a more public stand. But I told her I’m having nothing to do with the mudslinging and intrigue. I think I know where they have gone wrong, but it would be foolish at this stage to try to convince them. I see that Garland and Tom Gill have flown to North Korea [ie. Sean Garland and Tomás Mac Giolla, leading lights in the Workers’ Party in Ireland, formerly “Official” Sinn Fein and Sinn Fein the Workers Pary; see Hanley and Millar, op.cit.]. This leads me to suspect American influences in the Workers’ Party – they are being used to isolate the CPI, which is strong on the national question.
Two things that Mary McClelland said. I remarked that Gordon McLennan’s weakness was that he wants to be friends with everybody. “Yes”, she said, “and he’s a poor judge of character.” Then, apropos of the state of the CP, “We’re not a vanguard party anymore, putting out the new ideas.” Very true.
September 26 Wednesday: I got up early as the plan is to go away on Sunday. I cleared off a good deal of correspondence. I might recall that I wrote to Rothstein, Jack Gaster and Kay Beauchamp about commemorating R. Palme Dutt. I had a quick reply from Andrew [ie. Andrew Rothstein] but have received none from the other two. They are deaf to political argument, blind to courtesy. So there are three tendencies: first, the still small voice of internationalism, then the right and the left of nationalism.
I gathered all the large green tomatoes, a good quality crop of marmande and also about 20 pounds of crab apples – with another 40 left on the tree. Noel Gordon rang in the afternoon. The NCCL [ie. the National Council for Civil Liberties, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated] is taking up the Prevention of Terrorism Act again.
September 27 Thursday: Come back all I said about Gaster [Jack Gaster was Desmond Greaves’s solicitor]. He replied today with an apology for the delay, and he is in touch with Rothstein about the project. I sent back some suggestions. I had a note from Pegeen O’Sullivan saying my letter of condolence was the only one that made her laugh. I had written remarking on the fact that all the Ministers sent representatives to her father’s funeral but did not attend in person. “They may have felt unsure that he was quite dead,” I said [Mrs Pegeen O’Sullivan, née O’Flaherty, was daughter of the left-wing Irish novelist Liam O’Flaherty whose funeral had just occurred].
Then Skelly rang up. He was publishing a jubilee symposium on the 7th Comintern Congress. Would I contribute? I said I would. He said he had “Jim Fyrth, the historian” with him. Did I know him? I asked if it was the same Jim Fyrth who used to live in Surrey. “Did you live in Surrey? I heard him ask. “For a short time.” This brought back memories of 1939. He was a teacher then, but quite bright, a keen cyclist too. I remember he was arrested for something or other. There was a very bright young fellow among his pupils, Michael Seaton, but I never heard he came to anything. I think Fyrth was from Lancaster or thereabouts. I imagine he will be an atrocious “euro” and doubtless the whole enterprise is intended to pass off the 7th Congress as the blueprint for “Eurocommunism”. But if I do the Irish section it will prevent others from doing it – If any of them is capable of it.
I was 71 at 9 pm. this evening. Tony Coughlan rang up with compliments. He said Dorothea is coming to Dublin in November, so I should see her when I go there then, as I hope [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze from East Germany. Anthony Coughlan had arranged for the TCD English Department to invite her officially to make a visit to Ireland, with him paying the basic costs – an official invitation being a requirement of the GDR authorities]. He had heard something about the ructions in the CPI and would be telling me. As for the ructions in the CPGB, they have taken a further turn for the worse. The shareholders of the PPPS got enough signatures to requisition a special general meeting. The Management Committee said it was out of order “for various reasons” but didn’t state them. Then an advertisement appeared to the “Manchester Guardian” announcing a series of such meetings which the CP will organise. But who will pay for them? And if they dismiss the Management Committee will they hand over the keys of the building? Or will Myant get some strong-arm men and seize it, and all the money collected for useful purposes disappear in a drawn-out law suit? The bloody fools should make a working agreement for the time being and try to regain control at the next regular meeting. At least there would be something to control. I wonder what it will be like if Myant gets it?
September 28 Friday: A card came from Toni Curran. She is quite remarkable. In the midst of all her personal troubles she can remember other peoples’ birthdays. Some cancer sufferers simply retire into themselves. That was really the way with Phyllis [ie. his sister, who had died of cancer in1966]. But Toni is told she has a sporting chance. Noel Gordon rang up. He wants a resolution for the TSSA conference [ie. a draft resolution for one of the members of the Transport Salaried Staff Association to propose], so I sent it.
September 29 Saturday: It began wet but improved, but the ground was too wet for gardening. I made some apple purée. I had hoped to go away tomorrow but the weather forecast is very bad. Indeed there seems little prospect of improvement. This happens every time.
September 30 Sunday: I had a few words with Gerry Curran in the morning. He is going to get out the November paper to give me a break, and I explained the problems at Ripley to him. They have gone on to photosetting completely, and a fine mess it is. He says that Toni Curran, whom I telephoned without result, is out of hospital and under no immediate orders to go back. She is obviously a very lucky woman as the chance of survival was one in five. Both Bob Wynn and the mot [ie. Gerry Curran’s new partner, a lady whom he later married] had provided cars to take Niall and Conor to Euston – accompanied by the equipment for two jazz bands.
October 1 Monday: The weather was fine yesterday, against the forecast, and again today. So I could have gone away. I will see about tomorrow. I did some clearing up and planted out a few cauliflowers to give them time to root up while the soil is warm. I rang Bob Wynn and Toni Curran. She is not yet out of the wood, though she feels better and has more energy. She is amazingly cheerful. It was chilly in the evening and I burned some anthracite. I have five hundredweight of it, but I don’t know how long it will have to last. It also occurred to me to wonder if there is any fuel at Dolgoch. We could probably make a raid on the forestry [ie. the woods adjacent to the YHA hostel there].
October 2 Tuesday (Clun): I caught the 2 pm. from Rock Ferry and went to Craven Arms. I cycled to Clun. The same warden was there as last year. Nobody came.
October 3 Wednesday (Dolgoch): I cycled as far as Bucknell, but as the weather looked uncertain I took the train to Llanwrtyd Wells and cycled to Dlogoch. De Roe [ie. the Dolgoch YHA warden] told me that a group of. YTS youngsters employed by GEC Rugby were coming, so we fixed up a small bedroom where I would not be troubled. They came, and a useless stupid lot they were too, with not a redeeming feature. The young English people seem to be utter rubbish – at least in the Midlands. Education is non-existent and they are wallowing “consumers”. One helpless youngster of 17 said he wanted a drink. Before him were cups, saucers, taps, water, kettles and everything else. De Roe sent him to me just to demonstrate how helpless he was. There was, moreover, drama. At about 8.30 De Roe heard a roaring in the chimney and said that a builder had put in a plastic liner round which he set concrete, and he feared this was a fire.
It was. It was soon filling the fire with blazing polythene. The girls came hurtling down the stairs with their belongings. I had to go out to them and tell them not to panic. I judged it would burn itself out and got a water fire- extinguisher in the open room ready to pounce on any pieces that got near the furniture, from which I feared poisonous fumes. The walls were hot in a number of places, so De Roe called the Fire Brigade, which came from Tregaron. The builder who had put in the plastic was one of the foremen, and he held his finger to his lips as the fire chief lectured De Roe on the dangers of plastic lining. It seems he had wanted to use steel but the Youth Hostel Association asked him to save money! Now he is in danger of being a laughingstock. We made the foreman tea as the seventeen-year-olds offered their nuptial services quite shamelessly and only part in jest. They all wanted to sleep together and their leader Niel had gone off to give them an opportunity to learn “self-reliance”. What jobs could they do? None that I could think of. Such is modern “comprehensive” education. I imagine the. teachers are as ignorant and incapable as the children.
October 4 Thursday: Niel came back from the Youth Adventure outfit at Llanwrytd and displayed great energy and collected his property. He went off with my sleeping bag and I telephoned, throughout the day increasing the seriousness of the depredations. Finally he sent it back together with boxes of the De Roe’s property. They had loaded anything that looked as if it might be their property on to their minibus and gone off with it. Mrs Jones rang from Blaencaron and lectured De Roe on having his chimney swept. Now Jones. the foreman who put the liner in, is the brother of her schoolteacher daughter’s husband. He incidentally is now saying he knew it would “burn out”!
October 5 Friday: I had intended going into Tregaron but it was quite cold and De Roe telephoned for his man to bring me food. De Roe told me that two groups of motorcyclists – about 12 in all – came to Tregaron last week from London. They were skinheads and one had lost an ear. A Welshman, probably drunk, went over to him and said, “Happy New Year”. At once hell broke loose as the visitors produced knives, bicycle chains, mattocks and scimitars with which they laid about them. The landlord, who leapt over the bar to quell the disturbance, was banged on the head. There are now no police in Tregaron. These had to be summoned from Llanbedr and pursued the villains into the mountains where they were relieved to lose track of them. So is English culture brought to Wales. The pub concerned was the. highly nationalist Llewcoch.
October 6 Saturday: I went into Tregaron. The butcher in the bridge street has died and his sons are running the business – a young man, no more than 52. I met Mr Jones of Blaencaron. The hostel is closed for alterations. The Head Office [ie. of the YHA] tried to close it altogether but the outcry was too great. They did succeed in closing Dinas Mawddwy, though they pretend it is temporary.
October 7 Sunday (Bryn Poeth Uchaf): I cycled to Bryn Poeth Uchaf. A man of 39, younger in appearance and manner, was doing repairs. He wanted to talk about women but would not get married. He was a Cardiff man but spent his time travelling, in particular in New Zealand, Canada and Australia, to which he intended to return. He told me about this filthy English pest Len Clarke who is foisting his “Cambrian way” on the Welsh rambling fraternity. He has persuaded the landlords, who hope to see footpaths closed down, and the tourist industry who hope to see their customers concentrated. According to Philip Thomas, as his name is, he is an arrogant little reptile. Another young man who turned up was an assistant-warden at Salisbury. He told me that a local businessman had turned a spare room into a dormitory and was operating a private YHA [ie. Youth Hostel Association]. I warned them that this would happen, but they are brainless.
October 8 Monday (Llandeusant): It rained all night and did some raining during the day. I cycled into Llanymddyfri and to Llanddeusant via Myddfai. A young Englishman just settled there has been warden since last Wednesday. I think he is the young fellow who came to Blaencaron a few years ago talking about setting up an ornamental pottery to prey on the half-wit tourists. His wife is at any rate learning Welsh. She has that decency. Nobody came.
October 9 Tuesday (Marloes): Today it was warm, with a light South-West wind. I cycled to Carmarthen and took a train to Johnston, thence with some difficulty finding my way to Marloes [near Haverfordwest] where I was on my own. I had the impression that a weak cold front passed over, possibly presaging good weather.
October 10 Wednesday: Today was like the height of summer. I walked on the sands and had lunch at the “Lobster Pot”. On the path to the strand there are butterflies of all kinds – small coppers and tortoiseshells most plentiful, but I saw one magnificent yellow one I could not at once identify.
October 11 Thursday: I mistakenly went to Haverfordwest instead of Johnston and just missed a train. I therefore looked round the town, bought one or two things and then went to Llanelli and Llanymddfri. On the way up to Bryn Poeth Uchaf I passed Philip Thomas who had hitchhiked to Carmarthen and was just returning. The weather was warm but cloudy.
October 12 Friday (Dolgoch): Today it was drizzling but still mild. A policeman from Worcester, his father and son were there. The son was exceptionally quiet, but De Roe described him as “a chess prodigy who scattered all his school mates”. They cannot need much scattering for when I opened with Kt-KB3 and R-QB4 to his R-Q4, he took the pawn, defended it with P-QKt4 and lost the game trying to hold it [Some of these letters or figures may be incorrect as the original writing is unclear here and there]. He had fighting ability but positional play was a closed book to him. Not even a good schoolboy. The father on the other hand – ie. his grandfather – never stopped giving out. I could not make out his position. At times I almost suspected National Front, but he was too intelligent. He certainly did not believe a word the Establishment said. He was also not without his schadenfreude.
“You’ve heard about the explosion?” he asked. I had. “Ah – and there’s another thing. A train has come off the line near Paddington.” If a tornado had struck Wormwood Scrubs that would have been additional grist to his mill.
October 13 Saturday: The police finally went walking. I cycled into Tregaron. The weather was dry and mild. I’m having reasonable weather this year for a change. The father was giving out morning, noon and night. It was clear his tendency was leftwards, but he had contempt for Foot [ie. Labour Party leader Michael Foot] and had not voted Labour. They drank wine, which both De Roe and I declined, and went to bed early.
October 14 Sunday: The police family left. Before he went the old man told De Roe that there ought to be a revolution in England just as there was in Russia, but the English hadn’t the guts. At one point his son tried to stop him, but I enjoyed it though a lot of it was gloriously illogical. It seems as if they were an army family. The son was a military policeman for 10 years. The father had been a convert to Catholicism but had given it up because “It doesn’t add up.” This is De Roe’s opinion. He expressed his ultimate opinion to me as he left. I congratulated him on his robust views. “Pooh”, he said, “Most of the people in this country are nothing but sheep.” The truest word I heard this trip!
Two cockneys arrived, cheery, talkative and totally empty. But an express train-driver had more to him. He was strongly anti-Pakistan and said of their interest in education, “It’s obvious they’re planning a takeover.” He was contemptuous of Foot, supported Reagan [ie. American President Ronald Reagan] but thought it an illustration of the fact that there was one law for the rich and another for the poor, that a drunken motorist was fined £500 for killing a baby while a miner had to pay £100 for “stealing” £1 worth of coal. The British working class are in utter and total confusion and the capitulation of the Communist Party is partly to blame.
October 15 Monday (Tyn Corrnel): Today was a magnificent day – with the temperature in the low seventies and brilliant sunshine. I walked to Tyn Cornel. There was no water, but I knew where to get it. Nobody came.
October 16 Tuesday: I thought there may have been a touch of frost but could not be certain. Certainly it was not cold. It clouded over, however, in the afternoon. Will Lewis came in at 7.30 pm. His stay in hospital has not improved his manners. Before I left Dolgoch De Roe was telling me that several people who had stayed at Ty’n Cornell swore it was “haunted”, and one who had left in a hurry swore he would never spend another night there if it was the only shelter left. I was trying to find what had alarmed them, but there seemed to be no basis at all. A farmer came by and borrowed Lewis’s spades to dig a fox out. Afterwards he appeared with its tail saying, “Got him!” I don’t believe they do the harm that is pretended. Nobody came.
October 17 Wednesday: The morning was wet, but it took up. Will Lewis came in and was a little more gracious. He means no harm. I have been spending the last few days on the epic I began a few years ago and was bristling with ideas today [ie. “Elephants Against Rome”, of which four books of the envisaged twelve were completed]. Nobody came.
October 18 Thursday (Dolgoch): There was rain at night but the day was fine. I returned to Dolgoch. De Roe had had another invasion from Llanwrytyd, even stupider than the previous. One of them had left the gas on all day and the place reeked of it. I gave my opinion that there was no danger of an explosion. I had recently had the pressure on the cylinders increased. A man of about 25-27, warden of a North-East hostel, came in a car. He was the embodiment of Establishment thinking. I think he sees in the new tendencies in the YHA the opportunity for a career for himself. He could talk about nothing but youth hostels and had briefcases stuffed with documents. “This young man,” I said to De Roe, “is on the side of the enemy.” The idea is to destroy all vestiges of local initiative and have the whole thing run centrally by “professionals”. I would not be surprised if ultimately we had “privatisation”.
October 19 Friday: The young warden from the northeast drove me into Tregaron in the morning and I bought supplies. He had a large space to the rear of his car which had my bicycle. He is not a car lover and intends to get rid of this. He describes himself as a “long-distance cyclist”.
Early this year De Roe allowed a young fellow who claimed to have a BSc. in photography to stay at Dolgoch with his girlfriend while they looked for a house in the area. All kinds of English rubbish is pouring in and this seemed fairly typical. The girl wanted a “studio” and somebody to lean on. However, there were untoward events. De Roe walked out to see the girl stretched flat out. He himself became dizzy while telephoning for an ambulance. She recovered, but he was whisked off to hospital and told he was being treated for Co [ie. cobalt] poisoning. The gas is supposed to have come from the famous chimney where anthracite was burning. The young man, aged about 25, thought his wife’s illness had not been treated seriously enough and started quarrelling with De Roe and getting into arguments with the hostellers, also trying to show off his knowledge. For example he talked about a Russian whose theory of “discontinuity” led to a claim that a comet had disappeared from the solar system and reappeared three light years away. I told De Roe definitely that no such observation was possible. Another thing was a mathematical puzzle. A handful of needles is thrown at random on a plane ruled with parallel lines. The expression connecting the number that fell on lines with the number that fell on spaces contained the quantity “pie”. The young fellow had sworn that the reason was unknown, but a physicist had told De Roe it was perfectly well known. On this I said I had never heard of the problem but had no doubt that if “pie” was involved there were. mathematicians who knew why. But De Roe could not leave the subject and said there was a PhD who worked on radioactive substances who would have all the answers. The other graduates all said, “Ask Eddie.”
Well, when I got back De Roe told me that the famous Eddie, after two years, was coming tonight. I am quite sure he wondered how I would get on with him. Hardly were the words out of his mouth when he arrived on a tricycle, with a friend on a bicycle, and we got on famously. He said exactly what I had said on the contentious questions. He was not a physicist, as De Roe thought, but a chemist. He worked for a recently “privatised” isotope company. He was anti-car and could not drive. He was anti-“Cambrian Way” and for maintaining the YHA in its old form. He was indeed quite a bright young fellow – in his mid-thirties I would say, an Englishman from Lancaster, his father a textile chemist, but now resident in Cardiff. He was also strongly in favour of the miners and completed my conversion of De Roe [presumably to favour the miners’ cause in their dispute with Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative Government at the time].
October 20 Saturday: Eddie Hargraves and his friend left for Salop where they are meeting some people[ie. in Shrewsbury. The old name for the County of Shropshire, Salop, is sometimes used for the county town and that was Greaves’s normal usage]. I did little – it was not unpleasant but cooler.
October 21 Sunday: Last night a girl, a third year “Eng. Lit.” student from Warwick University, stayed. She had never heard of Maria Edgeworth. Today it was rather showery and I only went for a brief walk.
October 22 Monday: I left some stores at Dolgoch, which I hope to visit again in December, and cycled to Llanwrtyd. The train was late and it was wet – very wet – but I changed shoes and stockings on the train and was otherwise comfortable. Who should get on at Craven Arms but the warden from Clun, going into Salop for supplies. The Chester train left Salop [ie. Shrewsbury] late and missed the connection for Rock Ferry, but I arrived at about 5 pm. There was a letter from Michael Mortimer which displeased me. He has applied for £15,000 for an “oral history” project and has put me down as a member of his committee. He’ll have to take my name off, and if he loses his money it will be just too bad. I spoke to Jane Tate. Pat Bond is still away. She says that Bill Dunn [a CPGB official in London, formerly in Birmingham] dropped down dead at the end of a rousing speech, and the centre sent in McKay as acting secretary. He has split them down the middle in a couple of weeks.
October 23 Tuesday: I spoke to Joe O’Grady, who told me how things stood – at brave length. We agreed to try and meet on Sunday. I will try to get Michael Mortimer there and tell him how to withdraw my name. There has been no frost, and there are runner beans and spinach, but the marrows are over. I went to Birkenhead.
October 24 Wednesday: In the morning De Roe rang up to ask me to write against the “Cambrian Way”. I said I would, but he rang off and I could not get him back to ask where he wants me to write. I’ve a feeling that this is a commercial stunt without official status and that we can do nothing to stop it. But we’ll see.
October 25 Thursday: I spoke to Michael Mortimer on the telephone. “I suppose you’re going to shout at me,” he began. “No, but you’ve got to take my name off.” “When? Why?” “It won’t do at all – but I’ll discuss how you can do it.” I wanted to make sure he’ll attend the meeting on Sunday, so I left the thing undecided in appearance. Mary McClelland told me Stratton had sent the addresses – I now learn it was only last week[Stratton was a Liverpool peace activist]. Apparently the first time Stratton did not turn up. However, I counted on being back myself and did not depend on them. Quite a few have gone out. Later Walsh from Birmingham rang up about the ASTMS conference. Sean Redmond had written saying he understood there were sharp divisions in the ASTMS and his committee [ie. of the TUIUI] did not like to involve themselves. How they can stand for Irish unification without involving themselves in controversy in England I don’t know. However, he didn’t pull out but said he would pretend he didn’t know. But Walsh discounts this. There is nothing exceptionally sharp, only divisions between those who don’t want the matter raised and Troops Outers and themselves. He promised to send me a summary of the situation. Then George Davies rang up. He has got several delegates to the November conference. I told him that Colm Power had been criticising the NCP attitudes to the national question as being “not much better than the official CPGB”. I went into town and walked the city without finding a shop that sold Italian rice. I had chicken livers and wanted to make a risotto. I had to use Carolina. The “Morning Star” has a strongly worded attack on Gordon McLennan and the CP Executive by Ken Gill. They seem irremediably split and McLennan the prisoner of the right wing. Meanwhile Jim Arnison and his friends are stirring subversion in Manchester and asking if Browderism “could happen here”[ie. the dissolution of the CPGB, as had been proposed by Earl Browder for the CPUSA following World War 2]. It looks as if it were happening. Gill rightly points out that the “Morning Star” has been defending the miners while Jacques, Hobsbottom [Greaves’s nickname for historian Eric Hobsbawm, a leading “euro” in the CPGB dispute] and their filthy crew have been busy concocting recipes for capitulation in one field after another. I wonder how young Dai Richards gets on with them [Richards was a Welsh miners’ leader].
October 26 Friday: This is the first fine day in the week. I have been hunting for Piedmont rice and at last found it at the appalling new Sainsbury’s supermarket on Woodchurch Road. The only thing I have to depend on London for is black bread, for I found a branch of the Victorian Wine Co. with retsina for £2.29 [Greaves was particularly fond of this resin-tasting Greek white wine]. I wrote to Alan Heussaff, Tony Coughlan, Peter Mulligan and others. Roy Johnston has got Sean Redmond on to a Labour Party Northern Ireland sub-committee. I suggested to Tony that he ask Bruce Kent to put them in touch with Father Berrigan if he is still around [Fr Daniel Berrigan, leading American peace activist]. I want to put the Irish and American peace movements together. Tony Coughlan hopes shortly to unship some of the lunatics in Irish CND.
October 27 Saturday: I didn’t get much done today. The marrows are still flowering – I had not noticed this before – and there is one forming. What is more remarkable is fruit and the Physalis Edulis. I never had this before and indeed I think the ground is still very warm and few trees are shedding their leaves.
October 28 Sunday: I forgot to adjust the clock, so reached town an hour early and thought of having a bite in Lime Street. The damn scum who are busy “privatising” British Rail have closed down the buffet and replaced it with an American-style hamburger joint that offers uneatable peas and a bar in which it is too dark to read a newspaper. I reached the Irish Centre at 1 pm. and Joe O’Grady arrived – Barney Morgan half an hour afterwards and no Michael Mortimer. Michael Kelly was there and said that Michael Mortimer’s former wife is suing him for £3000, her share of his house, and that if he cannot pay it by Christmas he will be on the street. So instead of getting a good solicitor he is looking round for money-raising stunts. I suppose he was afraid to face me.
October 29 Monday: I sent Michael Mortimer a letter telling him he would have to take my name off his list. I kept a carbon. Now my guess is that he will not do so in hope that the money will be granted before he has to. I’m going to let him away with this in hope that it is not granted, but if any attempt is made to connect me with the project I will produce my letter. I hope it will die a natural death and avoid argument, but if he goes ahead it will be without my knowledge and againstmy instructions. In the afternoon Skelly rang up about his chapter on the 7th Congress of the Communist International in Ireland. I already said I would do him something.
Later I went to the Irish Centre, where Joe O’Grady had arranged a party [This was a Hallowe’en fund-raising party for the CA in Liverpool]. To my surprise, for I would have been pleased with thirty people, it was a powerful success, with over a hundred. Eric Heffer [Leading Liverpool MP], who wants to join, gave a bottle of House of Commons whisky signed by Joan Maynard, Tony Benn and Jo Richardson [Prominent Labour MPs]. Michael Kelly and Janet Walsh brought food they had prepared. The singers gave their services free and Barney Morgan, who acted as MC [ie. Master of Ceremonies], in the end had too many of them. Michael Mortimer turned up trumps and sold 20 tickets. The evening was a most revealing expression of support. All kinds of people were there, including John Gibson and Veronia Gibson who had brought a Russian visitor. There were pipers and other musicians.
October 30 Tuesday: There was trouble today – serious trouble. For some time I have been uneasy about my left eye. It must be about a year ago that I saw a dark spot. The condition disappeared but from time to time it returned. Yesterday there was a series of spots and this evening, as I went out at dusk, there was a pain in the eye which, however, disappeared in about five minutes. I then recalled a similar attack when I was cycling down Borough Road a few months ago. And so, to sum up, I suspect incipient glaucoma and will have to take medical advice, which I have little confidence in. It is exactly what Alan Morton suffers from. There is little doubt that there is impairment of vision.
Another class of trouble came from Joe O’Grady, who told me his sister died last night. I tried to get Barney Morgan but failed.
October 31 Wednesday: I told Noel Gordon about Joe O’Grady’s sister. The eye was still affected today and I had chromatic effects in the evening when I met Michael Mortimer. He seems to have the conference under control. He was a little annoyed at Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan for putting on their Hallowe’en social without consulting him, but he was glad it was a success. He was telling me about his trials with his ex-wife and the way he was so badly advised by solicitors. This has been mentioned to me by Michael Kelly, who said that the ex-wife was a thoroughly nasty piece of work, a self-conscious “intellectual” in the Labour Party. She has driven the hardest possible bargain and after doing this the older daughter, who cannot get on with the new spouse, has gone to live with Michael Mortimer, thus placing an additional burden on him. It is of course up to her to go to court if he fails to pay her £3000 by the end of the year. His counsel advised him that no court would evict him, but he is suspicious of legal opinions which have already cost him too much. I was wondering whether I could get some advice in London and he will come in on Friday bringing the papers
The mild weather continues. It will be remarkable to cut a small marrow in November! The Physalis has grown bigger than I have ever had one, but the big capsules do not seem to contain sizeable fruit. There is still Tetragonia and I am well off for pamphreys and swedes and turnips. So on the whole the vegetable garden is productive. However, cold weather is forecast.
November 1 Thursday: The eye is still troublesome and vision is slightly misty. I rang up Doctor McKay in the afternoon and fixed an appointment for Monday. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan explaining that I might not be able to go to Dublin. I had intended to see Jack Gaster about making a will, but I will have to come back. I thought this necessary because it was as a result of an eye operation that Sam Levenson died. It is just two years since I was in Edinburgh and heard of his eye trouble from Alan Morton.
November 2 Friday: Vision in the left eye was still misty, but it seems to be slowly clearing, possibly from the periphery. It improved throughout the day and my eyes felt quite easy by evening, the morning spots and dark waves that have affected the left one having disappeared together with the spots. I discontinued one of the steroids on Wednesday and so far the eczema has not become active. Of course I do not know if there is a connection, but I read that glaucoma is one of the side effects, if of course it is glaucoma.
In the afternoon Michael Mortimer called to discuss his legal problem. There can be little doubt that his ex-wife has been exceptionally vindictive and he is to be excused if he was not always the soul of reliability. I spoke both to Noel Gordon and Jane Tate on the phone. Noel seems on top of the world now, and Jane Tate says that it is because he expects money from the GLC. She thinks our chances are pretty slim, as no less than four appointments have been postponed. She suspects this Mary Hickman character of antagonism
[Dr Hickman, later Professor of Sociology, established the Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University in 1986]. She came to Liverpool but the thing she was doing fell through.
November 3 Saturday (London): I went to Euston and Noel Gordon met me. After a bite we went to the office, where Helen McMurray was ensconced. Then I went to Ealing and took a taxi to Pat O’Donohue’s house where Bob Wynn and Toni Curran appeared. She is quite remarkable. She has had surgery, chemical therapy and goodness knows what else and talks cheerfully of a mopping-up operation that will eliminate the remaining cancer cells by radiation. But I suppose that is what enables you to survive.
November 4 Thursday: We had the Executive Committee in the afternoon. Peter Mulligan was late, so Pat Bond took the chair. He is much slower and more edgy. The girls from South London did not show up. Bernard O’Connell had no money for travelling. Joe O’Grady’s sister’s funeral was on tomorrow. Michael Mortimer likewise had no money. And as we had called it on a Sunday Pat O’Donohue could not come. It was fairly useful. But at one point Noel Gordon explained that his finances were in a desperate state and he faces eviction. He must try to get a job over the Christmas period that would pay him decently. Then he would come back. He had discussed this with Pat Bond. Then at the end he said he wanted to give up the job altogether. There was little sensation at this. He talks about going next summer and may go back to Ireland. I think after the debacle in Birmingham nobody was really surprised. Certainly nobody pressed him to stay. There will be problems with the bookshop in the Christmas period, though Pat Bond will come in three days a week now he’s retired. Jane Tate, Michael Crowe, Gerry Curran and I went for a meal. Jane was not too pleased at Noel’s not having told her of his intentions, but she remarked that he had said something about “not being able for” the job. And that is true enough. It was left for me to express appreciation.
I stayed with Noel Gordon Helen McMurray was at home with the young fellow I don’t trust who is always hanging around. I have long suspected that the attraction is my bold Helen.
November 5 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office for a few minutes and left the paper we are using in Liverpool to be duplicated, plus a list of people for this to be sent to. Then I came to Liverpool and went to see Dr McKay. He thinks – indeed says – there is cataract in one of my eyes. But he does not think anything for now needs to be done but get the glasses checked. He tested my blood pressure and pronounced it what it should be. I had a better impression of him this time. I rang Jane Tate. Noel Gordon has apparently lost my list and tried to write down another from memory, getting it wrong. I don’t know what he’ll be like in his last few months. I asked Tony Coughlan some time ago if he thought Eddie Cowman might return. He said it was possible. Colm Power would be able and conscientious, but I think he is a bit too sensitive. I like the sanguine type like Jane Tate, though I can manage with Sean Redmond and his fellow phlegmatics. Cholerics like Pat Bond are very wearing and melancholics like Noel Gordon less so, but bad enough! [Greaves believed that this classical typology of human temperaments was the most useful].
November 6 Tuesday: I didn’t get anything done today. The weather continues very mild. I am reading the review copy of Millotte’s book on Irish communism [ie. Michael Millotte,“Communism in Modern Ireland”, 1984]. It is not as bad as I feared.
November 7 Wednesday: I did some shopping in the afternoon and went to the Connolly Association in the evening. Michael Mortimer had forgotten to bring the minutes! But the successful party had raised morale and the fund stands at £160 or more. The trouble is that we hold our meeting on the same night as Brian Stowell’s Irish class and this robs us of McCormick and others who might come. Joe O’Grady expressed the pessimistic expectation that now that Reagan is back [ie. as American President], “We’ll all be blown up before the year’s out.” Then of course there’s the rat Kinnock here, who has outplayed both Benn and Heifer and is reconstituting the right wing, which is what the unspeakable charlatan Foot put him in for [Neil Kinnock had become leader of the Labour Party following Mrs Thatcher’s landslide victory over Labour’s Michael Foot in the 1983 general election. Greaves regarded Foot as having cleared the way for this by supporting Mrs Thatcher and the Conservatives in the 1982 Falkland Islands war].
November 8 Thursday: A letter came from Joe Jamison – posted in September – enclosing the speech of the US fraternal delegates to the TUC, which didn’t get a line of publicity. I wrote back, also making a point of linking the peace movements. A man from Cardiff wrote saying he was writing a play about Arthur Horner [Leading Welsh miners leader and CPGB activist].
November 9 Friday: I didn’t go into town yesterday because it rained all day. Today was even worse, but I had to go. I had a word with Jane Tate in the evening. She has been lobbying the GLC and is assured that we are high on the agenda. But these financial questions will not be cleared till January.
November 10 Saturday: A contrasting day – about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and really sunny, as good as many in May. But what happened in it was another matter. I had everything in order to go to London and got on a train that left at 12.01 from Chester as I thought. I showed my ticket and said I was for Holyhead. Nothing was said. But I found myself at Little Sutton on the Helsby line. A young railwayman told me that British Rail had discontinued through services between Rock Ferry and Chester and that in future we must change at Hooton. I would believe anything of them, so I took a bus to Chester City. Of course I had missed the connection. There. they told me that there was no question of discontinuing the through service – though they will have to do so when the line is electrified as far as Hooton. So all I could do was to come back. Later I found that the train I boarded at 11.50 was not the 12.01 to Chester but the 11.31 to Helsby running half an hour late. So I rang up Muriel Saidlear and said I would try it again tomorrow.
November 11 Sunday (Dublin): When I reached Rock Ferry I found the train service to Hooton suspended and had to travel by ‘bus. There was so much delay that it was clear that I could not make the connection at Chester. I spoke to the driver at Hooton and asked them to ring up to hold the Irish Mail. They had no facilities but said, firstly, “We’ll go a little faster than usual”, and secondly, that the London train would probably be late. It was – a full hour. The boat sailed late – into a fierce south-easterly gale. The woman sitting by me was sick and swore never to make the journey again. It doesn’t affect me, but it spoiled an already unsatisfactory lunch by tipping everything about. Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear met me at Dun Laoire and at 24 Crawford Avenue I found Dorothea [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze of the University of Halle in the GDR, who organised the half-dozen biennial conferences on Ireland held there since the 1970s; see preceding volumes]. She seemed slightly aged and rather worried. She has been having trouble with her two children. The son, aged 30, is talking about leaving the KPD [ie. the West German communist party], while the daughter says that if she were living in the West she would be able to go on peace marches and undertake other activity. And she talks about “these very difficult times”. Otherwise she, Tony Coughlan and Muriel Saidlear were all in good form.
November 12 Monday: I went in to see Michael O’Riordan about Millotte’s book, which impertinently implies that Tony Coughlan, Michael O’Riordan and myself collaborated with him. I may have had a letter, though I can’t remember it. Tony is in the same boat and Michael O’Riordan says he gave him a 30-minute interview. Michael asked me if I objected to drinking in the
“Holy hour” and on learning that I did not, took me to a nearby pub where he rattled the letter-box, after which we joined the privileged drinkers inside. The publican recognised me and brought both of us free drinks. He then nipped into the bookshop and bought two books for me to autograph.
I had had lunch with Eoin Ó Murchú whom I asked about the rift with Tom Redmond. He said there were two wings [ie. in the CPI], one led by Michael Morrissey and economist [ie. inclined to see the conflict in Northern Ireland as based on differences of economic interest between Protestants and Catholics and tending to play down the role of British responsibility there], and another by Tom Redmond which was inclined towards open collaboration with the “Provisionals”, and that he and Michael O’Riordan were in the middle.
Later on Dermot Nolan came to 24 Crawford Avenue to ask my advice about a request from the Labour Committee on Ireland that he do a tour with them. I advised him to keep that at arm’s length or they would involve him with the “Provisionals”. He said that Niall Power and Martin Collins had come to see him saying they were both working full-time and had an office [ie. for the Labour Committee on Ireland]. He was critical of Eoin Ó Murchú, whom he described as abrasive, and sympathetic to Tom Redmond, who has now dropped out of things.
November 13 Tuesday: I went to have a talk with Sean Nolan [Leading CPI figure and manager of its Dublin bookshop] about Millotte, seeing Michael O’Riordan again briefly. In the evening Eddie Cowman came and stayed the night, after we had come back from the “Plough and the Stars” at the Abbey. I had a few minutes with him alone and told him about Noel Gordon. Would he be interested in coming back if we offered him the job? He said he would certainly consider it. There are possibilities that we may shortly be better off. Tony Coughlan wants me to take £1,000 to London and will follow it with another. We should get £2000 from Bill Hardy’s will and there are still hopes of the GLC.
November 14 Wednesday: I went into the National Library and succeeded in tracing the man who has taken over Irish microfilms. I also looked up an MS reference given by Millotte and found nothing. So he is careless as well. In the evening Muriel Saidlear gave a grand party with Dorothea, myself, Tony Coughlan, Cathal and Helga [MacLiam], Maolachlann Ó Caollai and Micheál Ó Loingsigh and his wife. Unfortunately she stayed up and got a bit drunk! They had seen Pat Bond and noticed he wasn’t the man he had been. Also he was more irritable than ever, especially with Stella – the person nearest to him, as Micheál Ó Loingsigh remarked. Micheál had just come back from the USA whither he had gone to see his brothers and do some printing business. He gave many press interviews and at all times stressed the need for accommodation with the Russians. There was much amusement at the “Stickies’” antics in Korea [Workers Party leaders Sean Garland and Tomás MacGiolla had recently visited North Korea where the “Dear Leader” Kim Il-Sung was reported as praising their party’s struggle to remove “the British occupation forces” from Ireland]. It seems that “Sanity” is going to do a series of articles on Ireland in the New Year [“Sanity” was the CND magazine]. And Chater – presumably as an attack on Myant – has asked Eoin Ó Murchú to do the same [Chris Myant was assistant-editor of the “Morning Star” daily paper, Tony Chater being its editor; they were on opposite sides in the CPGB dispute]. Eoin Ó Murchú told me that Gordon McLennan was confident that he could recover the “Morning Star” and then Chater and Co. would all be expelled.
November 15 Thursday: I went into the National Library briefly. Then Tony Coughlan and I went out to see Peadar O’Donnell, now in Monkstown with Nora Harkin, a very decent woman I know for years. Frank Edwards’s widow was there – another very decent woman [ie. Mrs “Bobby” Edward].“Now tell me,” says Peadar, “What is Scargill going to do?” He thought make a political statement and call it off [ie. the long-drawn-out miners’ dispute with Mrs Thatcher’s Government]. I am afraid that will not be so easy. Everybody was disgusted at the antics of the CPGB in the midst of the most savage industrial struggle since 1926. Peadar is of course old but not so frail, and often goes out either with Nora Harkin or on his own.
In the evening we had a drinking session organised by Roy Johnston, with Micheál Ó Loingsigh, Liam Mullally now in Dublin, Jack Bennett, Anna Bennett, Owen Bennett (a decent young fellow in his early 30s), Alan Heussaff and his wife and one or two more. Alan Heussaff [Breton nationalist, scholar and leading Celtic League figure] says that “Carn” is to be transferred to Dublin – a good thing [“Carn” was the magazine of the Celtic League]. Jack Bennett was describing the experiences of his daughter Helen who works for the “Morning Star” in London. She says it is like a mad-house. Colm Power came later – in good form too. Roy Johnston drove us home, where we found Muriel Saidlear had had to stay in bed all day!
November 16 Friday (Liverpool): I took a very expensive taxi to Dun Laoire and in the boat whom should I meet but Francis Devine [Irish trade unionist and leading figure in the Irish Labour History Society] who drove me to Chester on his way to a Labour history session in Leicester. I suppose he is about 30 or 32, bursting with energy, rushing hither and thither on countless projects that end in drinking and singing sessions. He says Emmet O’Connor has a job in Belfast [academic historian and son of Greaves’s old friend, former International Brigader Peter O’Connor of Waterford].Apparently Hazel Morrissey is an Englishwoman from Chesterfield and this may explain something. I brought the £1,000.
November 17 Saturday: I had a busy day as Noel Gordon came in the evening, and I expect Sean Redmond in the morning. Otherwise nothing.
November 18 Sunday: This was a very successful if crowded day. Sean Redmond arrived in the morning. He told us of the opportunism of Sinn Fein, some of whose activists lead campaigns to preserve the sites of itinerants while others participate in agitations to chase them away.
The three of us went to the Connolly Association conference [This was on the subject “The Irish Question and World Peace” in Liverpool]. It was a powerful success. Doswell [of Liverpool Trades Council] was in the chair and Sean Redmond and George Davies spoke well. As Noel Gordon pointed out afterwards, the dissident arguments related to “Troops Out now” and recognition of the Leinster House Government. On the latter Niall Power was wobbly and he moreover introduced into the speech a long quotation from Sinn Fein. He moreover announced an Irish CND speaking tour, which I consider it very unwise for them to make. The Sinn Fein influence on the Labour Committee on Ireland is obvious and will connect with the decision to close down their organisation in Britain, or at least to do so overtly. There were over 60 there and we took a collection of £25. Among those present were Mary McClelland and Stratton. Blevins was at the District Congress in Manchester. There were IBRG people from Blackburn and Bolton, and after I had made an appeal for a “Parliament of the Irish” all kinds of people came offering cooperation. What is in fact happening is that a tacit political alliance is being forged, and it may be best that it remains implicit. Eddie Glackin from Dublin was there.
Later Michael Kelly drove Sean Redmond, Noel Gordon and myself to Blackpool. Niall Power was there, also George Davies who brought EmG [Full name unknown] who has been staying with him. There were over 60 at the ASTMS “fringe” meeting and Hugh O’Donnell of Letterkenny Trades Council brought greetings from Sinn Fein in a very left-wing speech! Later we met Joe O’Grady at the Irish Centre.
November 19 Monday: I went into town to look up trains, but otherwise completed three pages of the paper. Michael Mortimer agreed to drive me to Bolton on Wednesday. Noel Gordon left early. He says there is no doubt that Liverpool is the best branch in the CA and he blames the decline in London on the fact that “nobody has any ideas”, though he claims a few himself. This is important. I must attend Central London committee meetings. Steve Huggett is talking of settling in Ireland in May. I think he is hopelessly romantic and will be back. Noel Gordon told me of a meeting in East London which Pat Bond addressed. The subject was the work of the Connolly Association. About five were present. He implored them to join the CA. After his speech there was a strong silence. He has no policies, let alone that ability that people like Joe Deighan have to read what is unspoken and indefinite, a sort of political higher mathematics.
November 20 Tuesday: I got precious little done today though I finished and posted off two pages of the paper. I decided to write a piece for the “Irish Democrat” on the Abbey production of “The Plough and the Stars”, which I thought had taken something from my book. Incidentally Tony Coughlan told me that Dorothea had asked A.L. Morton who was right about O’Casey, myself or Mitchell, and he came out definitely on my side, and it is said he told Mitchell as much! [A.L. Morton, the Marxist historian, author of “A People’s History of England”, 1938, and other works]. But I can’t get Sawtell to publish the review! [ie. the review of Jack Mitchell’s book on O’Casey which Sawtell had asked for his art magazine “Artery”; see Vol.32]
November 21 Wednesday: The weather continues exceptionally mild. The Traopaeolums are flowering, also borage, antirrhinum, Brompton stock and a selection of weeds. But most remarkable, the Physalis edulis is in flower and bearing fruit, which will not I think ripen. I never got fruit on it before. The barometer was down to 29.20 today so the change to cold weather may not be far off. It poured rain when Michael Mortimer drove me along the motorway to give a talk to the Bolton Socialist Club on Paul Salveson’s initiative. Molly Weaver was there, but only two or three more from Bolton. But two IBRGs had come from Manchester, and two more from Wigan. Michael Mortimer drove me back to 124 Mount Road. He has got his £15,000 grant. I had told him to take my name off his list but will not ask him if he has. This clears up his problems with the family house and there is thus a chance that he may give up smoking now his worries are over.
Talking about worries, two issues from Dublin: Michael O’Riordan told me that Alec Digges has gone off his head and is in a lunatic asylum [Alec Digges, an early Connolly Association member, had been in the Spanish Civil War and was chairman of the International Brigade Association for some years].Apparently he tried to set fire to his flat. And Liam Mullally has had a stroke and is not the man he was [left-wing activist who had been in Germany during World War 2].
November 22 Sunday: I finished the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy only came this morning. The late arrival of copy ruins the quality of the paper.
November 23 Friday: I posted off the last page. The barometer dropped to 29 inches and it is correspondingly mild. I went into Birkenhead to make some purchases and rang up Noel Gordon, Jack Gaster and Gerard Ryan of the microfilms.
November 24 Saturday (London): I took the 10 am. train to Euston and went into the office. Jane Tate came in but went out again almost immediately. But from her and others Noel Gordon found what had happened at the London District CP conference. I did not get the details but it seems Gordon McLennan closed it down. The E.C. had met last night, discovered. alleged irregularities – such as go on all the time – and forbidden the election of a new District Party Committee. When the delegates, who had assembled at great inconvenience and expense, wanted to discuss the issues, McLennan told them that if they did he would walk out and wanted everybody else to do the same. It seems that less than half did so. Noel Gordon was selling [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” on one of the pub runs in the Irish districts of London], so at his request I took Helen McMurray to the London District Council social where Tom Durkin told me what has happened. It seems they lost Manchester last week and were afraid of losing London. These are the people who assure us that the capitalist class will accept being relieved of their capital by vote of Parliament! I had a brief word with Chater and Mary Rosser – a bit of a battle axe! Young Gilhooley was there. The exercise is deciding who walked out and who stayed.
November 25 Sunday: We had a brief finance meeting in the morning, then went to a meeting which was in my opinion badly organised and on a wrong political basis [It is unclear why this was so; it was possibly a CP meeting]. I will have to keep a closer check on London. Charlie Cunningham was there and we spent the evening with him – Jane Tate, Noel Gordon and myself. Bert Ward had said he was coming but seemingly chickened out at the end.
November 26 Monday (Liverpool): I saw Jane Tate and Stella Bond in the office. Pat Bond is not really getting better. The stroke has taken a great deal out of him. And Jane thinks that both of them are depressed by the CP thing. Stella says that one of the so-called irregularities deprived Gerry Cohen of his seat at the Congress! If it had been some poor devil the irregularity might have been tholed. Then I had lunch with Jack Gaster who is going to draft a will for me. He said of the LDC thing that he had never heard of such a thing in his life. And he is 77. I agreed that neither had I. One thing is clear, if they had ever got near the reins of government, they’d Joe Stalin the lot of us! I got the 3 pm. train back to Liverpool.
November 27 Tuesday: I went into the city and transferred £1000 to current account as Ashford – absent for several months – is talking about finishing the job of re-tiling the roof. Noel Gordon rang but there was nothing of importance. I wrote to Pat O’Donohue and had a letter from Sean Redmond enclosing a NALGO resolution [ie. for the Local Government Trade Union].
November 28 Wednesday: I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at the Irish Centre and we had a committee meeting without Barney Morgan who has moved house and is fully occupied.
November 29 Thursday: I stayed in all day, did some clearing up and wrote letters. Dorothy Deighan sent me a book of poems by Michael Crowe’s father, W. Haughton Crowe [of Rostrevor, Co. Down]. There was also a letter from Paddy Byrne. I answered these and wrote to Máirín Johnston [ie. the former wife of Roy Johnston in Dublin], Michael Kelly, Noel Gordon and a few others.
November 30 Friday: I had thought of going to Dolgoch today, but as the microfilms had not come from Dublin I decided to wait a few days. That damned Ashford who was going to re-tile the roof this week did not show up! I didn’t do much but read the record of 1971-72, a record of CP blunders.
(End of Volume 33; c. 60,000 words)