1 November 1934 – 30 September 1935
Editor’s Introduction to Volume 2
This is the second of the first three volumes of Desmond Greaves’s surviving Journal which he copied out in the 1980s from an original Journal that he had kept from his teenage years and the rest of which he destroyed. He inserted occasional explanatory comments some fifty years after the original entries were written and these are presented in bold typeface in the Journal text below.
The previous volume, Volume 1, gives the background to Greaves’s joining the Communist Party of Great Britain in June 1934 at the age of twenty. As he wrote in an inserted comment in that volume: “I took to politics like a duck to water” (entry for 5 June 1934). Volumes 2 and 3 go on to describe his involvement in student politics at the University of Liverpool between November 1934 and November 1935, as well as his local political activity in Birkenhead and on a summer visit to an aunt in Portsmouth. He took part in leftwing student conferences in Oxford, Cambridge and London during that time. He also mentions meeting such well-known CPGB personalities as Willie Gallacher, Shapurji Saklatvala, Tom Mann, JR Campbell and William Rust.
The first three volumes of the Journal show the young Desmond Greaves as the centre of a wide network of young people in early 1930s Merseyside. He was a born leader. Being more intelligent and erudite than those he interacted with, he was able to produce convincing arguments for whatever course he favoured, while his personal charm, enthusiasm and exceptional natural vitality attracted many of those he sought to lead to follow him.
Greaves’s activity as a young leftwing activist on Merseyside drew the attention of the police Special Branch. The British National Archives in Kew contain records of the police surveillance that he was under in those years and later; the Journal entries for 12 and 13 July 1935 show that he was aware that letters sent to him were being opened.
The political background of the time is taken for granted in the Journal and is seldom explicitly referred to. Hence a summary here may be useful for readers:
The 1930s was the decade of the Great Depression, which had been precipitated by the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash. There was mass unemployment in Britain and throughout the advanced capitalist world. At a time when few went to university compared to today, even a university degree was no passport to a decent job. The Journal shows Greaves and his young friends as pessimistic about their future employment prospects. In 1931 the British Labour Party had split over Government proposals to cut unemployment benefit to help balance the budget and keep Britain on the gold standard. Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald abandoned his own party and together with the Conservatives and Liberals formed a National Government. In the general election of that year the parties supporting this National Government won 554 seats in Parliament as against 52 for Labour. MacDonald and his supporters were expelled from the Labour Party. In face of this crisis the Independent Labour Party, whose foundation antedated that of the Labour Party, disaffiliated from the latter body; Sir Oswald Mosley founded his British Union of Fascists; and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), which had been established in 1920, made significant advances among miners, industrial workers and the unemployed, as well as among politically minded students at Britain’s universities. The relative weighting of social democratic, communist and fascist influence on British public opinion was significantly different in the early 1930s from what it became at the end of that decade and during and after World War 2.
This volume of the Journal mentions Greaves, then aged 18, attending a Labour Party meeting in 1931 at which a local Labour councillor, McVey, defended MacDonald and Philip Snowden for joining the National Government (entry for April 29). In 1932, before he joined the CPGB, there had been unemployment riots in Birkenhead, in the course of which the famous agitator Leo McGree (1900-1967) was arrested. Greaves states in the Journal that he modelled his speaking style on that of McGree and Shapurji Saklatvala (entry for 27 July 1935). Saklatvala (1874-1936), of Indian origin, was one of the founders of the CPGB and had been elected Communist MP for Battersea in the early 1920s. Greaves attended public meetings in Liverpool at which Saklatvala spoke during the period covered by this volume.
In the November 1935 general election, in which the young Greaves canvassed for local Labour Party candidate Mrs Mercer, although the National Government, now under the Conservative leader Stanley Baldwin, was still returned with a big majority, the Labour Party revived somewhat, gaining a hundred parliamentary seats; Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald lost his seat, and the communist Willie Gallacher was elected MP for West Fife in Scotland.
Major international events in 1934-35 were Adolf Hitler’s consolidation of his Nazi dictatorship in Germany and the beginning of an arms drive there, Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Japan’s establishment of a puppet regime in conquered Manchuria and the Saarland voting for reunification with Germany. The League of Nations, of which Britain and France were the leading members, proved impotent in face of Nazi rearmament and Italy’s and Japan’s expansionism. Establishment political figures in Britain and France hoped that a rearmed Germany would put bolshevik Russia in its place. This was the basis of the policy of appeasement of a revanchist Germany in the later 1930s.
In the 1920s and 1930s, influenced by the prestige attaching to the 1917 Russian Revolution and its leader VI Lenin, the various recently founded national communist parties regarded themselves as branches of a world revolutionary movement, the Communist International or Comintern, and looked to Moscow for leadership. For much of the 1920s the Comintern followed a leftist course, the so-called class-against-class policy, in which social democrats and labourites were stigmatized as “social fascists”. In part this reflected the split in the international labour movement that had occurred in 1914 between supporters and opponents of national participation in World War 1, as well as the influence of Joseph Stalin, who came to dominate the USSR during the 1920s. This split in the labour movement between socialists and communists facilitated Hitler’s election to power in Germany in January 1933. The class-against-class policy was formally abandoned at the 7th World Congress of the Comintern in 1935 and replaced by the “united front” policy. This sought to influence socialists, communists and democrats generally to cooperate in a common struggle against fascism, the arms race and the drift to a second world war, under leftwing leadership where possible.
It seems fair to say that Desmond Greaves was a natural enthusiast for the “United Front” policy even before that was formally launched. Temperament influences political orientation. Highly intelligent, it was obvious to the young Greaves that maximum unity of democratic forces was the sensible way to counter Fascism and Nazism in the context of the time. Temperamentally interested in the quirks and quiddities of human nature, he enjoyed gossip and regularly sought to extend his network of acquaintance. In later life he often criticised left-wing figures for tending to see people in categories: “They do not go around meeting people and so do not know what ordinary people think,” he says in his Table-Talk. He says there also that when he went into the dining car of trains he always sought to sit opposite whoever seemed the most interesting person there so as to engage them in conversation. He had no tolerance for leftist rhetoric and sectarianism. Volume 2 shows even the young Greaves critical of that in the leftwing circles he got involved with in the year it covers.
He vigorously pushed the “united front” approach at Liverpool University and outside it. “Everything was a ‘front’ in those days,” he writes (entry for 20 Feb.1935). The name of the new student society that he and his comrades established, with Greaves as its president, was the “New Labour Club”. Its constitution provided that it would not affiliate to any political party. The idea seems to have been that it should be open to all democrats among the students, but be led by Greaves and his political friends who would at once try to avoid political opportunism on the one hand and leftist sectarianism on the other.
It is tempting to make a flash forward and suggest that Greaves’s involvement with Irish affairs through the Connolly Club and Connolly Association from 1940 onward, was another example of his attraction to this “united front” approach. The Connolly Club was not founded by the Communist Party but by a group of Irish leftwing Republicans in the late 1930s. It sought to give a political lead to the Irish community in Britain. Greaves’s involvement with it gave him the opportunity of influencing policy in an independent leadership position in a potentially broad movement, whereas involvement in some domestic area of CPGB interest or activity could provide no comparable scope. He says in his Table-Talk that he was always more interested in issues of imperialism than of socialism; so there was the added advantage of Irish affairs seeming to offer favourable terrain for that at the time.
University student politics in the 1930s reflected the divisions in wider British society. The Journal mentions so many personal names that singling out a few key ones may help readers understand better what is happening. Bill Hamling (1912-75) was the principal Labour Party figure among the students. He later stood as a Labour parliamentary candidate in UK general elections following World War and was elected MP for Woolwich in 1964. His friend Peter Evans was in the Independent Labour Party and together they had controlled the student Socialist Society (Soc.Soc.) at the university. Greaves had joined the CPGB the previous summer when he was a third-year undergraduate studying botany and chemistry. In this Volume 2, covering the academic year 1934-35, he is in his fourth year at the university, seeking to turn his pass BSc degree into honours. He took over leadership of the group of communist students from another student, Riddell, who had gone to London, and he influenced some of the younger undergraduates whom he knew from his secondary school days at Birkenhead Institute, as well as from other schools, to join the CPGB as he had done or else support its policy line. They got the “New Labour Club” formally recognised as a student society, outflanking the Labour Party-oriented Socialist Society and committed to “united front” activity.
At that time, as Greaves remarks, the CPGB had “locals” rather than branches. Outside the university, the leading light in Greaves’s “local” in Birkenhead was FC Moore, a teacher. The young Greaves also sought to extend CP influence to North Wales through his friendship with the communist Welsh-speaker J. Roose Williams, who lived in Bangor. There is a tribute to the latter, titled “Planxty Roose Williams”, in Greaves’s second book of poems, Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award, published in 1983. Volume 2 deals also with his initiating a Tenant’s League in Birkenhead’s slum Dock Cottages and his producing an issue of the local party newsletter, The Searchlight.
The leftward trend among middle-class students at Britain’s Universities during the 1930s, Cambridge in particular, has often been referred to. Greaves knew the main student leaders at Cambridge, in particular James Klugman and John Cornford. Cornford, who was a poet like Greaves, was killed in 1936 at the age of twenty-one in Spain, where he had gone as a member of the International Brigade to defend the Republican Government in the Spanish civil war. Greaves’s lifelong friend Professor Alan Geoffrey Morton the botanist, who was a couple of years older than Greaves, was a postgraduate student at Cambridge in the years these volumes cover, having got his primary degree in Liverpool. John Edge, with whom Greaves shared a flat in London when they both moved there in 1936, and who figures prominently in Volume 4A, was also a student at Cambridge.
There are illuminating parallels between the political development of the young Desmond Greaves as evidenced in the first volumes of the Journal and the fictional development of Hannibal Colqhoun, who is the hero of the unfinished verse novel, Elephants Against Rome, which Greaves was working on when he died in 1988. He drew on his youthful memories when writing this work, which he describes as a “comic epic”, four of whose twelve books were completed. Classical epic concerns itself with the doings of a noble, royal or divine hero who represents human possibilities that ordinary mortals cannot aspire to. “Every man his own hero is the epic of modern life,” wrote Greaves in one of his workbooks for this poem. Modern man can reach heroic stature if he comes to appropriate consciousness and succeeds, like the central character in the poem, in “Disembowelling the paradox/Of which the world is made” and acting accordingly.
Greaves places his imaginary hero Hannibal as a university student in “Fenchester” – clearly Cambridge. “You must adapt yourself to the universe before you can adapt to a political party,” he comments in another workbook note. In other words, one must develop a general philosophy of life before one can fruitfully engage in politics. It seems plausible to suggest that the early Journal Volumes show this process at work in the young Greaves. Another note states that the poem is “about” coming to terms with reality. A further one states: “Truth attained and it is truth in action.” And another, relevant to Greaves as a young political activist: “The turning point – comprehension of the State”. These comments are significant for his personal biography.
In Desmond Greaves’s Table Talk, recorded decades later, he remarked that he spent his university years “improving his mind”. The range of reading that he mentions in the Journal is remarkable, although it is little related to his formal university course. He did not get on with his Head of Department, Professor MacLean Thompson, and the Departmental staff was divided into factions. Greaves continued writing poetry in those years, maintained his interest in music and chess and from time to time went on hill-climbing outings and lengthy bicycle journeys. He remained a cyclist all his life up to his seventies.
As in the period covered in Volume 1
, Greaves at this time was living at home with his parents, whom he refers to in the Journal as CEG and AEG (Charles Edward Greaves and Amy Elisabeth Greaves), and his sister Phyllis in the BIrkenhead suburb of Prenton. He crossed the Mersey on the Woodside ferry regularly to attend the University on the Liverpool side.
The Index which is appended at the end of this and other volumes gives the date of particular Journal entries, with the month coming first, followed by the day. Thus an Index entry for “6.6” is June 6th, “12.4” is December 4th, “1.30” is January 30th etc.
Themes: Leftwing politics at Liverpool University in 1934-35 – “United Front:” and communist activity on Merseyside – Meeting John Cornford and other leftwing students in Oxford, Cambridge and London – Visiting J.Roose Williams in North Wales and seeking to extend leftwing political activity in Welsh-speaking areas – Starting a Tenants’ League and editing a political newsletter
November 1 1934 Thursday: Nothing much happened. I was rather surprised that Iver Mercer did not appear.
November 2 Friday: Today Riddell [up to then the leading communist figure among the students – Ed.] spent a long time trying to persuade me to risk 26/- on a dubiously re-funded trip to Oxford tomorrow. I decided to await better guarantees than his promise.
November 3 Saturday: A telegram from Riddell arrived while I was still in bed. “Expenses guaranteed. 9.43 Woodside. Meet you Oxford.” So I got up and went there. Riddell met me at the station and we went to the rooms of the University Labour Club, where I saw Pendlebury, who irritated me. He looks as if he had the weight of nations on his head, and speaks in deadly and sepulchral tones as if worlds hang on every comma and semicolon. I also met John Cornford [Cambridge student, later killed in Spain – Ed.] who is an excellent man, excitable, visionary, lit up with enthusiasm. His face expresses refinement, his cheeks a shade pallid and contrasting with black curly hair. Others there included Voss, Dick Freeman and Gillett. There was Flashly of LSE, SG Wellcome (Exeter), a Bristol, a Southampton and a Reading, plus a secondary schoolboy.
We had tea at Peggy Moxon’s rooms where Riddell had to be restrained from plastering bread with “Marmite” as if it were marmalade. He was unfamiliar with it. We resumed our discussion at 5.30. Hunt of London reported on work against war, and Riddell and myself spoke about “faculty work”.
As regards accommodation Voss, Williams, the Bristol and the Southampton went to a council estate and stayed with a family at 79 Sunningdale Rd. Wellcome was born in Blaenau Ffestiniog but lives in Abertillery. The Southampton man knew Westmore. Voss and Dick Freeman had come from London by car and brought up a man from the Saar territory who took an exceptionally grave view of the situation. He said 45% would vote for Hitler, 30% for no change, and the remainder are uncertain. He thought if Hitler got 45% he would invade and there would be no refugees [A referendum on the territorial status of the Saar region was held in January 1935 in which 90% voted for reunification with Germany – Ed.].
November 4 Sunday: There was a short session to draft resolutions and finish the business. Cornford declared that this meeting had the best discussion yet recorded at FSS meeting [Federation of Student Societies, formed in 1933 to encourage and coordinate the activity of leftwing students in British universities – Ed.]. I was very uncertain about catching my train and asked Voss if he could get me in the car for London. He said by all means. But the train was late and I caught it. In one corner of the compartment was a sophisticated, well-dressed, educated, but sleek young man who had lived in Spain and was very conscious of his class. Opposite him was a young man who had nearly missed the train; flinging his case into the carriage and himself with it; he was talkative because his unceremonious entry had rendered formalities de trop. Opposite me was a self-made man who had risen from the working class. We passed some dilapidated tenements in Birmingham or Leamington Spa. “Look at that!” exclaimed the self-made man. “Look at the way they’re living. Yes, and the pity of it is that it’s all their own fault. They get their wage on a Friday night and the whole weekend they’re in the booze-shop and betting shop.” The man from Spain agreed.
I had a two hours wait at Salop. There was no sign of Iver Mercer when I got back. I called on Clive Moore and later on George Evans.
Pendlebury was a classics student. When he went down his tutor or professor gave him the following testimonial, “Mr Pendlebury is a classical scholar of the highest attainments. I am prepared to answer any further questions about him.” Dick Freeman was studying law. He did not come to much; he seemed very “public school”. This would be Ian Gillett, a barber’s son. He turned Trotsky, with his brother Tony. I think this would be E.Hunt, possibly secretary of the Labour League of Youth at one time.
November 5 Monday: There was a YCL meeting in the evening. Both Pendlebury and George Evans were there.
November 6 Tuesday: Iver Mercer came for a few minutes in the evening. He has been ill having previously caught a cold at Farndon on that mad trip.
November 7 Wednesday: In the afternoon George Evans came and Iver Mercer preceded him by a half hour. In the evening I gave a lecture to Bromborough Men’s Guild. There was a man who was a “Rover Scout” – he was not young and held a very high position in the organisation. He had “had a troop in Liverpool”, as he said, “and I made them red. Now I’m doing the same here.” As I went out he commented, “Ah! You know your job.” I had answered every question.
I think this man’s name was Owen.
November 8 Thursday: I saw E.Shore (treasurer of SCR) [Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR (SCR) – Ed.] and he said that a hitch had occurred over the lantern for tomorrow’s meeting when JG Crowther [historian of science, sympathetic to the USSR – Ed.] is coming. I went to Riddell’s for tea. Later Riddell came and later Shore and Frankenburg. Shore is a friend of Alan Williams and went camping with him last summer. He could not even cut a slice of bread, and even though having nothing to do fell ill on him and went to a hotel leaving Shore on his own. Shore is doing architecture but would like to have done chemistry. He is on the committee of the “No more war movement” of which Williams is secretary.
Frankenburg was the son of a fabulously rich cotton merchant in Manchester. I knew his sister Ann better. She was a member of a socialist group in Manchester started by George Whittenbury. I suppose E.Shore would be Peter Shore’s elder brother[Labour politician and later Government Minister – Ed.].
November 9 Friday: I received a telegram from Crowther and met him at Lime Street and took him off for tea. Very few people came to the meeting. Riddell turned up late with a couple of schoolboys from the Holt. There was a Guild debate, at which Peter Evans (whose sole suggestion for the improvement of the Socialist Society is that Riddell should resign and thus elevate its dignity and prestige) was furthering this worthy object by proposing the motion that “It is better to be drunk than to be sober.” After the meeting Riddell and I took Crowther to Reece’s underground for devilled kidneys and mushrooms. He told me that Jeans damaged his reputation at the British Association by not speaking into the microphone. He had been tempted into his latest indiscretions out of jealousy of his one-time student Eddington who had been appointed to a chair at Oxford and had published a book which sold 50,000 copies. Jeans swore he would write a book that would sell 100,000 copies and, to the delight of Mrs Jeans who had assiduously egged him on, he did. As for Einstein, he is a perfect child. At the Albert Hall meeting, his first public appearance was anxiously expected by thousands of admirers who anticipated a brilliant solution of the antifascist refugee problem. Now when Einstein is with communists he goes communist; when he is with imperialists he goes imperialist. The reasons the Germans did not impress him for war service was his total impracticability. At the Albert Hall he declared to the breathless audience that he had been thinking deeply about what was to be done with refugee scientists and had come to the conclusion that they should be accommodated in lighthouses where they could pursue their cogitations undisturbed. The meeting was turned into a militaristic anti-German demonstration. He did not expect revolution in the highly centralised and bureaucratic powers of Western Europe. Britain was faced with the alternatives of a slow democratic decline or a swift Fascist one. He saw small chance of revolution without war first. He was appalled by the smallness of leftwing parties here. [There is a section on this Einstein public meeting in Book Four of Greaves’s poem Elephants Against Rome – Ed.]
I was very disgusted at Riddell whom I blamed for the failure of the meeting and took the secretaryship of the SCR myself until it was taken away from the University into the city. Riddell had gone down but was trying to run student affairs from outside the university. Hilda Browning told me afterwards that he rang her up and “stormed” at her over the ‘phone.
November 10 Saturday: I saw George Evans and met Iver Mercer who has been asked by Aldess to write an article on Fascism for the school magazine. But Mr Hains, who is incidentally one of “Jehovah’s witnesses”, says the magazine must be non-political.
November 11 Sunday: I slept through the two minutes silence [for Armistice Day – Ed.]. Piggott, who called in the afternoon, said that in his opinion armistice celebrations were far more in the nature of war propaganda than war prevention. Iver Mercer and George Evans were yesterday blowing up about a highly militarist speech made by head-teacher E.Wynne Hughes.
November 12 Monday: Shore is having difficulty with the Architectural Society which he represents on Guild Council. His political opinions, though only modestly socialistic, have aroused opposition.
November 13 Tuesday: I have been trying to resuscitate my poetic art, but am as dry as a bone. I can’t write a line. I called on Charles Mount [one of his former schoolteachers at Birkenhead Institute with whom he used play chess – Ed.].
November 14 Wednesday: I again failed to write anything. But there are other things. I have made a special arrangement with Professor Garstang, from whose library I have borrowed Histoire de l’antiquité (Edward Meyer), Primitive Art in Egypt by Jean Capart, also The Diffusion of Culture, Elephants and Ethnologists, Human History (Elliot Smith), and Renard’s Life and Work in Prehistoric Times. It is interesting to note that anthropology, though a science, is taught in the arts faculty, the science faculty having grown up under the influence of industrial development. I have foreseen the possibility of understanding the whole of history.
I went to Professor Garstang’s lectures on Jericho but whether these were before or after this I do not remember. Probably before.
November 15 Thursday: In the evening Iver Mercer called for a few minutes because George Evans had said I wanted to see him. He had said he would bring it [It is not clear what “it” refers to here – Ed.] to show me on Saturday, but it seems it is not required by Monday as he thought. He had to go tonight to a play at the girls’ secondary school in which Phyllis Mercer is acting. George Wright is going as well. Now I wonder if there is in the Mercer household an intention of discouraging Iver from coming here on political grounds.
November 16 Friday: After chess in the evening I had a word with George Wright. He said that the elder Mercers deplored my influence on Iver Mercer, so this is the explanation of something I vaguely sensed. Today Shore came into the Union in dejection. Having gone as high as the Registrar seeking permission to show the film “Potemkin,” and been asked “Was it anti-religious?”, “Was it anti-British?”, and finally “Was it anti-political?”, all of which he said it wasn’t, he was invited into Professor Budden’s room where, ensconced in an armchair, was the highly conservative president of the Architectural Society who misses no opportunity for getting Shore at a disadvantage. They told him that to show two Soviet films would be to associate the School of Architecture with communism. Even Donald Magee declared this decision an expression of extreme reaction.
November 17 Saturday: In the evening I called on George Evans. His father, who is a hairdresser, wants Evans in the same business. He is resisting.
November 18 Sunday: Iver Mercer called in the evening and I passed over the minute book and property of the Youth Antiwar Council. It is all but dead in Birkenhead and I do not expect him to make much of it.
November 19 Monday: After the successful blow against the SCR I am very despondent about socialism in Liverpool University. We are wasting our time. I am afraid everything confirms my earlier estimates of the level of intelligence of my contemporaries. My time could be better employed than trying to shoe-horn Pallas Athene into wooden heads.
November 20 Tuesday: I called on George Wright and we collected Marion Cholmondeley and Iver Mercer. Apart from us four only three attended the Disaffection Bill meeting at Beechcroft. They were Casson and two others.
November 21 Wednesday: I spoke to Shore. He was very despondent. He simply hadn’t the enthusiasm to put in work to set the SCR on its feet, he said. Riddell was too tactless, as everybody says. His time was fully occupied. I persuaded him to come to Riddell’s tomorrow to discuss it.
There was a YCL meeting on Monday which Clive Moore did not attend. I strongly criticised his muddling to representatives of the District Committee. Bowman was put in charge of the Co-op fraction, Clive Moore no longer. Later he came and we tackled him. It was then I told Riddell that I was inclined to take the SCR out of his hands. I am going to close down the BAWM [Birkenhead Anti-War Movement – Ed.]. It is useless. I shall get rid of everything but the YCL and SCR and devote myself to my book. I’ll do one thing well, not many haphazardly.
I called on Charles Mount in the evening. He declared that in his opinion Merseyside people were among the most miserable and curmudgeonly in the whole country. You felt the difference the minute you went south or east. “The warm-hearted North! The place is one perpetual snarl!” A letter arrived from Edge.
November 22 Thursday: I have written no poetry. I secured Professor Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. Meyer’s Histoire de l’antiquité is useless. The French are obsessed with first principles. Veblen is good but his implications as regards art as display implies that there is an art which is not intended for display, to which his conspicuous waste principle does not apply. I played chess at the university. Riddell and Pendlebury were there.
November 23 Friday: Owing to stress of a debate and chess I forgot to attend the Joint Learned Societies Soireé [The Associated Learned Societies of Liverpool and District, established in 1922, linked some 24 scientific, industrial, literary and art societies, with some 4000 members altogether – Ed.]. I received three notices from the LBS [Liverpool Botanical Society – Ed.] for my paper, next week but one, and one of them I posted up in the university. In the evening I won two games against Richmond off the Fegatello. My game has rapidly improved of late. I have beaten Charles Mount several times running, and others too.
November 24 Saturday: After a day in which I did little I called on Donald Magee to recover my Baudelaire. Evans 2 was there, sleek, meek and patient. Seed and Tomlinson came. Seed has been driven to the left by experience. Rirchardson blew in later.
November 25 Sunday: In the evening Iver Mercer came and later George Evans joined us. We went for a walk.
November 26 Monday: I have a severe cold. I saw Hunt and Colqhoun who came to hear Professor Priestley of Leeds. “Martyrdom is perverted sensuality,” said Colqhoun, who can be relied upon to avoid it. There was a YCL speaker in the evening, but there might just as well not have been. I am disgusted with the deadness of things.
November 27 Tuesday: I stayed at home all day because of my cold.
November 28 Wednesday: As a result of an allegedly salacious article written by Booth and published in Sphinx [Liverpool University student magazine – Ed.] the University authorities have appointed a censor. The editors refuse to divulge their response.
Booth was from Wallasey. He was just the person to invite official reprisals by showing off. He had the most repressive parents imaginable. I called at his house on one occasion and he was on tenterhooks because they were out and might return. None of his friends were allowed to visit him. They had a very expensive house, so it was not economy. I heard of when he sat the matriculation examination at the age of 16 – the only boy in the hall still in short pants. He was to be “kept young” and kept dependent. He had very large ears like those of a rabbit and Nora McGrath, also a sociologist, called him Flappy. He was intensely nervous and jumpy and had a passion for railways.
November 29 Thursday: I rang up Yaffe regarding the coming of DN Pritt [leading communist lawyer and later MP – Ed.] to the SCR [Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR – Ed.]. He promised to do what he could. I had not spoken to Yaffe since I played chess with him four years ago. I hardly noticed him then, though I lost the game. Now he fascinates me in a very curious way. His movements are deliberation itself – but not assumed for effect. He sits at a table looking downward as he speaks to somebody. He is never excited. He wears a blue trench coat like a schoolboy and an open-necked shirt. His voice is part of the same total. He seems all for use and nothing for ornament. There is nothing striking about him, but there is something about him.
There was something in this impression, for afterwards I did speak to him socially and found he was a dedicated Zionist, and had thoughts for nothing else.
November 30 Friday: Nothing brilliant occurred. I saw Riddell. We tackled Booth but got no reformation. Hamling [Bill Hamling, in later life Labour MP for Woolwich – Ed.] is resting on his oars. Peter Evans says he cannot find a suitable speaker for the Socialist Society. Nothing is happening anywhere. Westmore is growing more affable. Today I had a coffee with him and Le. arrived. I don’t know whether I recorded a mad conversation I had with him a few days ago. He had the night before copulated with a mannikin. A prig called Williams tried to convert him to better ways, but failed. Le. has elevated debauch into a philosophy. His slow and weary movements, lit up with moments of blasé animation and cynical smiles, vastly impressed Westmore. So did the crudity of the conversation when other medicals arrived. Westmore is not so bad despite his athletic habits and tendency to keep himself to himself.
At the chess match I offered the Fegatello. But I spoiled a good attack and gave my opponent a draw. George Wright says Jackson’s sister knows Jump of the Soc.Soc.
Le. – Pat Lees, a friend of Bennett’s, and classified “Irish” but I do not know how much. He lived in Wallaston and was famous for never keeping an appointment. What he would do if he became a GP I cannot imagine. Whether he was the roué he affected to be is of course another question.
John Jump was one of the Sphinx group who had their own office in the Union. He was quite possibly the cleverest of them and ultimately became professor of English Literature at Manchester.
December 1 Saturday: I called on George Evans. He told me the story of his encounter with Darlington. He told him, “I’ve burned all my literature, books AND all. I made a roaring fire in the garden and burned the lot, books AND all.” This is, I suppose, because of the Incitement to Disaffection Act. Darlington also asked “How’s Greaves’s new society? The one he got thousands for?”
I can’t think of what he could have been referring to. Could it be the SCR and had somebody persuaded him I got money for it? He cannot have meant thousands of members.
December 2 Sunday: In the evening Iver Mercer called and Batcheldore came to ask us to buy tickets for a dramatic show of his. We did and this pleased him. Mercer actually played a game of chess.
December 3 Monday: Nothing happened. I am playing a great deal of chess, but have written one or two sonnets. I can’t persuade myself to do any academic work. I never could!
The reason for this is of course that the best of my mind was not academic but creative. I found the academics able to make intrinsically interesting subjects boring. You had to drink so much water for one sip of champagne. But to go to the university was the only way forward available.
December 4 Tuesday: The Liverpool Botanical Society met before the meeting. Mention was made of a very clever man, Mr Dovaston, who had not paid his subscription and not responded to the secretarial invitation to give a paper. “Alas, the degeneracy of modern youth”, groaned Green. “Who is Dovaston?” I asked. “A friend of young Atherton”(the effeminate youth). But to our surprise Dovaston turned up trumps, paid his subscription and listened to my lecture on ecology. He is about 17 or 18, certainly very clever and knows something about Botany to boot. He is at the Holt [a local secondary school – Ed.].
December 5 Wednesday: We lost the chess match in the evening. I drew. Our opponents were Central 2nds.
December 6 Thursday: At 6 pm. Iver Mercer appeared and declared that he wanted a game of chess before we went to the show. So we played one. The play was of typical bourgeois-decadent Sherlock-Holmes-in-Mayfair variety, but quite entertaining. Westmore was there and Mrs Edge. Guthrie and Rees were players and the producer was my old schoolteacher Mr Wilkinson, now retired and going to Chile in six months’ time. I always thought there was something in him that his limited circumstances prevented from bringing out. He was a first class teacher.
December 7 Friday: We won the match against Aintree in the evening 41/2 – 21/2. I won at 4th board, Whalley played 1st, Charles Mount 2nd, Richmond 3rd, LB Wood 5th, Wilson 6th and George Wright 7th. It appears that Booth, Gasking, Hamling, Jump and Co. have resigned from Sphinx en bloc and since they are boycotting the new issue, it is to be edited by Guild Presidents. But the old gang are not without resources. A new committee is to be elected in the spring and they propose to nominate Peter Evans as editor, after which they imagine all will be well.
Gasking – Douglas Gasking. A student of philosophy. I think he got some academic post somewhere.
December 8 Saturday: Hunt and Frankenburg arrived from London but I didn’t see them. At yesterday’s debate. Cantor attacked Nance who prevented cooperation between the Legal Society and the SCR. I spoke for a time, also Riddell.
December 9 Sunday: In the evening Iver Mercer came and we went for a walk to Barnston via Brimstage. Gallacher is getting more interesting but George Evans is deep in dramatics.
December 10 Monday: My two colleagues, Miss Allen and Miss Meyrick, and myself are in a bad way with the professor because we have done no work all the term, and indeed one is not tempted to it by his unscientific rubbish. I am writing a grand sonnet sequence.
The atmosphere in the Hartley Botanical Laboratories was as stifling as the central heating which the professor always insisted on having full on. It must have been in the forties, when I was a reasonably successful man, that I was passing and on the impulse of the moment walked in. The Scottish concierge Duggan – the Professor’s spy – was still there. He asked, “Do you want to see the professor?” But ten years of experience had taught me to size things up in a flash. Duggan was corrupt. I said I did not and got out of the stink as quick as I could. I remember remembering one or two things I have forgotten now!
December 11 Tuesday: I called on Edge who had arrived by the night train at 8 am. this morning. He has largely abandoned chess but not athletics. At the moment he is uninterested in “anything that is not connected with communist theory”. But he is very orthodox in his thinking.
December 12 Wednesday: I saw Westmore in the morning. He told me that Edge has acquired a potential fianceé, a girl called Elizabeth from London, and she is going to spend Christmas with them.
December 13 Thursday: I was thinking about Edge. I had always assumed two forces acted on him, his schoolteacher mother, and Pendlebury whom I blame for the revolutionary heroic talk. “If there is a war I shall declare myself a revolutionary” – just the thing a man who valued his life would not do. Certainly I wouldn’t! But now there is a third. Edge’s environment is however simple and he is uncomplicated. His intellectual self-satisfaction is immense, and he has a desire to excel and is prepared to work hard for it. Since he always does excel he does not know what jealousy is. Cynicism is incomprehensible as he has never known failure.
December 14 Friday: I had a botany practical examination in the morning and forthwith went to a debate opened by Pendlebury’s famous Bentley, the engineer. The motion was “That discretion is not the better part of valour.” Strange to say everybody took a high serious moral tone and discussed the subject with almost maudlin sententiousness, so that when I rose to say what nonsense had been talked everybody chanted “Hear! Hear!” and gave me a good hearing, which was not surprising since I was the best speaker there. Bentley is perfectly at home in our boisterous faculty and has no time for politics.
December 16 Sunday: In the evening as usual Iver Mercer called. We walked to Barnston Station.
December 17 Monday: I worked all day for tomorrow’s theory examination because I made a very poor showing on Friday and depend on it for recovery.
December 18 Tuesday: I made a recovery in the theory and felt rather relieved at it. I saw Edge for a while.
December 19 Wednesday: Nothing of any importance happened today. However I saw Halliday and Piggott.
December 20 Thursday: I was at the University for the greater part of the day and saw George Evans for a few minutes in the evening. It was at Halliday’s I saw him, for Bryce is in the play Evans is staging.
December 21 Friday: I finally cleared off excess work at the university and saw Iver Mercer and his friends, “Al” Davies who achieved fame by cycling from Land’s End on 1/6d, and Gallagher whose name they mis-pronounce “Galligger”. I agreed to lend Davies my microscope.
December 22 Saturday: I took the microscope to Iver Mercer’s and showed Al Davies how to use it. Then I beat them both at chess. I saw Edge in the evening and won. I played the Alekhine Defence but it got transposed into a bad Vienna game.
December 23 Sunday: At 2 pm. Edge arrived and we played chess till 7 pm. He won three games out of four. Then Iver Mercer came.
December 24 Monday: I saw George Evans and he told me some things I found surprising. He said that Mercer invited him to Farndon as a stop-gap because Gallagher and Davies would not go. He added, “A more boring week-end I never spent. They were all the time acting the fool. They put a firework under my bed. I thought the stove had exploded. He only asked me to go an hour before he started off. And he took no notice of me or Stott. He spent all the time with Bray shooting at cows with a pop-gun.”
December 26 Wednesday: I am reading Cornford’s Origin of Attic Comedy, Herbert Reade’s Art Now, Art by Eric Gill. I defeated George Wright at chess three times.
December 27 Thursday: I went to the Library in the evening and on to George Evans’s. There was a a grandstand nonentity there playing with him.
December 28 Friday: I called on Edge in the morning and when he had risen I was informed that the famous Elizabeth is now with them. Oddly enough nobody seemed disturbed at my arrival. Mrs Edge beamed. I think she does not take kindly to Elizabeth. So I played chess and won off the French defence. Then Elizabeth appeared and had breakfast while we went on playing, Mrs Edge being delighted at this, and then I went away and called on Westmore.
It happened that he had called last night, and was astonished to see an immense table spread with every species of delicacy in honour of the visitor who had just arrived. He took full advantage of them. Mrs Edge seemed delighted at his coming. For there was a strained atmosphere. Mrs Edge who had met Miss Harris in London had described her to Mrs Westmore as a “rat-nosed thing”, and disapproved strongly of this, as she would of any other, female attachment to her son. And Mr Edge was leaving for London by the night train, and everybody felt gené and de trop. So Westmore was useful. Edge kept talking to him and passing him cigarettes, anything to keep the ball rolling, and then, to crown it all, insisted on trying to teach Elizabeth to play chess. This more than anything gives away Edge’s amazing incomprehension.
We agreed to go to the art gallery in the afternoon, and as Halliday came, he went too and we spent the afternoon looking at pictures. I find I am growing more capable in this field. It struck me to reflect that I am a very sensuous being, for almost every pleasure of the senses appeals to me. I see little in non-formal pleasure, however. For instance smoking gives me no great thrill though I enjoy an occasional cigar. Alcohol does not appeal. My objection to these things is that they deaden the senses, not indulge them. I never said they dull the intellect, but I think intellect plays a great part in my sensuous life, though it is not as if mental functions were capable of strict separation. The reason many people have inferior intellects is that their senses lack development and do not keep them sufficiently well posted as to what is what. For example Iver Mercer has no appreciation of music. It is Greek to him. Nor does he enjoy scenery or visual art. He will be a good chess player. But his life is intellectual-emotional. And Edge has his senses very unspecialised. He likes Beethoven but can with equal pleasure listen to jazz. He does not differentiate. And as he does not experience he relies on the record. His reaction to a subject is to read about it. He is like Pendlebury in that. Consequently he is highly conventional in his habits. He acquires his standards from his social and personal surroundings as opposed to environment in its all-embracing sense. He is not his own response to the world. He is imitative. And of Brian White too, having no ear for music, the same is true. He is a pure theorist and the senses do not clamour for practice. Surely sensation is the greatest teacher, and I have the best head because “I love … everything almost.” Now Alan Morton is also intensely sensuous. Edge says of him that he is a “born leader”. He makes the world his tutor.
December 29 Saturday: After going to the Library I called on George Evans again. He had been to see Iver Mercer.
December 30 Sunday: In the afternoon Alan Hodge [poet and collaborator with Robert Graves – Ed.] called and we walked to Barnston. He enjoys Oxford but has taken no part in politics. It has improved him. He is more open and no longer shocked at mild obscenities – not that I ever made a habit of providing them. Later on Mercer called.
December 31 Monday: In the morning Halliday came for a few minutes and for a joke I said there should be an anthropometric survey of Prenton. To my astonishment he took up the notion with enthusiasm and was talking about how to put it into practice!
In the afternoon I met Alan Morton at Woodside and we went to Neston. He has written a little lately. He is very busy in Cambridge. He is on the working bureau of the local, and leader of a street cell [of the CPGB – Ed.]. This was the pleasantest afternoon of the vacation. Alan is the only person I know whom I don’t just a little despise, the only one I can talk to as an equal. In matters musical he said he is only interested in Beethoven and Mozart now. I suggested Bach and he said, “Yes, if anybody else, Bach”. He thinks the bourgeois novel reached its climax in Proust. I said that the emotional curiosities he describes arose from the heavy reduction in size of the bourgeois family. We had tea and he returned to Prescot.
January 1 Tuesday: I awoke with a severe cold, and went across the road and bought 2/6d worth of medicines. I didn’t feel much better for them.
January 2 Wednesday: I felt better today and rising at 1 pm. I went to see George Evans in the evening and listen to the Christmas Oratorio on his wireless, for Phyllis had a hen-party and I escaped. I saw Donald Magee and Evans 2 later.
January 3 Thursday: I saw George Evans in the afternoon. He had been for a walk with Darlington and gone back to Iver Mercer’s where he saw Guthrie.
January 4 Friday: Today Elizabeth departed so I went to see Edge. Things seem to be smoother with Mrs Edge. I can’t say I’m impressed by Elizabeth. I went for a walk with Piggott in the afternoon and on my return found a card from Riddell saying he must see me tonight. When I saw him he told me he wanted me to go to London tonight. I told him it was impossible. Tomorrow night would do. And thereupon he transferred the leadership of the university group to me, as he will not be here much longer. There is a conference in London over the weekend.
This account has suffered syncope. Actually he wanted me to transfer the leadership to his brother, but I said I was not having that and that I would take it. He may of course have been hoping this would happen, for he wanted me, not his brother, to go to London. Just possibly I had had it out with him before this, i.e. before the Oxford trip.
January 5 Saturday: I saw Edge, Clive Moore, George Evans, and Iver Mercer today and took the 11.50 pm. train to London from Lime Street.
January 6 Sunday: The train broke down and then crawled at snail’s pace to Crewe, after that going a little faster but stopping as often as it could. I reached Euston at 7 am. feeling a little groggy but revived after a cup of tea. I went to the appointed place and attended the student bureau meeting [of the CPGB – Ed.]. In the evening I discussed Liverpool with Ian Gillett and another and saw the YCL [Young Communist League – Ed.] or Miss Spector of the secondary schools. I spent the night with Ellenbogen’s family in Stepney.
January 7 Monday: The conference was held today. I gave my report and, I may say, cut some ice on the whole. I stayed with two girls in their flat in St Pancras.
January 8 Tuesday: The discussion continued today. Afterwards Pendlebury said Edge was doing very well, an opinion confirmed by John Cornford. But I don’t think Pendlebury likes Alan Morton. He admits his value but can’t show any pleasure in admitting it. There was a faculty group in the evening at 9 pm.
January 9 Wednesday: I took the 12.25 am. from Euston which this time took only 4 hours 25 mins. and arrived early. Now after dragging my umbrella all over London I lost it in the telephone box not twenty yards from the house. I was ringing Riddell. I didn’t attempt to sleep but went straight to Edge’s and played chess all morning. I had previously written to Hodge inviting him to a party tonight. He said he is very hard-up and will probably turn Marxist. Oddly enough he has met Ramsay and Jellicho – not much to meet. I then called on George Evans and Bennett. The party was held in the evening and attended by Bennett, Edge, Hodge, Iver Mercer, Halliday, Piggott and Westmore. I did not invite Donald Magee. I retired at 2 am. having been awake for 42 hours at a stretch.
I think this student party conference as it was called was the one held at Whitfield’s Tabernacle. Halfway through a parson appeared. There was a hush of deathly silence. “Some literature for you”, he declared. Some of the promoters of the thing leapt to their feet and distributed it. Then the revolutionaries were lectured on their reaction – it seems the room had been booked in the name of a student literary society. The general sectishness was unbelievable. Cornford was of course killed in Spain. Gillett went Trotskyist. Pendlebury went down and I heard no more of him. Was it all wasted time? For those who left probably it was. For those who remained it was experience.
January 10 Thursday: I went to the university and heard that the Professor had been blowing up that I was liable to ruin his research. I went to see him and the conversation led to my experiments with Tropaeolum leaves. He showed no antipathy but concluded the discussion with “You have brains, Mr Greaves, use them with discretion.” I then found somebody had announced on the notice board a paper to be given by “the honours students” Miss Nettleton and Miss Hilditch, as if Miss Allen, Miss Meyrick and myself were not. Miss Allen had already protested. When I protested it was taken down.
After this I saw Riddell and his brother. Later I called on Edge.
January 12 Saturday: I saw George Evans for a few minutes in the evening, and visited Edge at 9 pm. We played chess continuously till 4 am., playing 17 games in all. I learn Iver Mercer has joined the chess club.
January 13 Sunday: I saw Edge for the last time before he returns to Cambridge. Iver Mercer came at about 8 pm. But politically he is not great material. “Your philosophy is all talk and no do,” I told him. “And a very pleasant philosophy it is,” he replied.
January 15 Tuesday: I traced Stevenson the architect and Riddell and I went to see him. In the evening I saw George Evans.
January 16 Wednesday: I called on Hodge last night, I omitted to note yesterday, and met his lady-love Miss Jones the schoolmistress. It is part of his psychology to have a girl-friend older than himself. But she seems an intelligent woman. I was reminded of a remark Edge made on Sunday. He went to Ramsay’s celebration and who should walk in but Hodge and Miss Jones. He had met Ramsay at Oxford. Edge danced with Miss Jones who, out of the blue, said “You are a communist.” He asked her to keep it dark. Hodge told him that he had not told her, but Edge hoped Hodge was lying. It transpired at Hodge’s that he was not lying. Miss Jones said that a character from Cambridge whispered to her that Edge took part in politics and added a very meaningful wink. So I must tell Edge that he has not concealed himself so efficiently. This afternoon Hodge called on me.
January 17 Thursday: This morning a letter arrived with a 1/2d stamp, labelled “proofs”. I found to my surprise that the Poetry Review has decided to publish my Untouchable which they call “a fine piece of work”. It will take several pages of their magazine. I saw Charles Mount for a moment.
January 18 Friday: I called an SCR committee meeting in the afternoon. Peter Evans was very amiable. I sat with Riddell and an architect member of the music society, Meyrick I think. This person is NS’s brother-in-law. He went off with Riddell to play the flute. He is said to be addicted to the bottle. He talks in a bohemian manner with “always something polite to say”. This puts Riddell off and he called him an “intellectual” as if there were anything wrong with that.
January 19 Saturday: I finished my 30 sonnets and showed them to Hodge. Some of them are fairly good, others pedestrian. George Evans has decided to do medicine.
January 20 Sunday: In the evening Iver Mercer called. I told him of the acceptance of the Untouchable and showed him the sonnets. He was very enthusiastic. He also told me that his political inactivity arises from the simple circumstance that he’s not willing to conduct a battle against his mother, who is the prospective Labour Party candidate and whose Parliamentary salary, if she got it, would make a difference to the family.
NS – Norman Suckling, teacher, composer and friend of Hodge’s.
January 21 Monday: In the evening at a CP meeting I heard comments on Slepchenko’s libellous attack on Moore in Saturday’s Birkenhead News. The Advertiser had refused to print this personal attack.
Slapchenko, a white-Russian refugee resident in Birkenhead.
January 22 Tuesday: I saw Riddell for a while and played chess with a number of people, winning every game.
January 23 Wednesday: When I went to see Stevenson in Architecture I found that Scholfield had indeed arrived but was not at his desk today. Neither was Shore. I also saw Millward and Peter Evans on SCR business.
At the London meeting somebody from Oxford, possibly Francois Lafitte, told me of Scholfield, who was moving to Liverpool and was a CP member. Later John Morris told me, “We kicked him out but you let him in again.” It may have been Brian White, but I don’t remember him at the meeting.
January 24 Thursday: Yesterday evening I saw Westmore who read my poems and again suggested a similarity with Browning in the use of the dramatic monologue. I said that these days dramatic dialogue is not possible in verse. But poetry is meant to be spoken and could be declaimed on the wireless for example. He told me that Windsor, a friend of Hodge’s from the Collegiate, is a possible supporter. I went to hear Moore’s lecture to the FSU and who should be there but Casson who was Harry Greaves’s [uncle of CDG – Ed.] friend at school. He is now a schoolmaster. He told me of the scandalous repression and discipline at Chester Training College. The place is Fascist, out and out. He hated it. He has great respect for Moore and Miss Tart. Smith is afraid Moore is “putting his position in jeopardy”.
Miss Tart was headmistress of Mersey Park girls elementary school. She was highly respected, and rightly so. She was not far off retirement age in 1935, but battling with enthusiasm.
Yesterday also I met Iver Mercer and Guthrie, and Mr Smith who expressed the above sentiment regarding Moore.
Today I went to look for Scholfield and left a note. Barr was up for a moment or two looking for a scholarship. At 12.40 I met Hilda Browning who gave a talk to the SCR. She and I had lunch with Peter Evans. She is in the ILP and used to run the New Leader in partnership with Fenner Brockway [of the Independent Labour Party, later MP – Ed.] but she is inclined towards Marxism. After a while Riddell came and we held a committee meeting. We decided to transfer the SCR from the University to the city. They could affiliate to the joint Learned Societies.
After coming home I listened to Bach’s Mass in B minor by the Halle Orchestra and chorus. This time it was a very good performance. The BBC’s disregard of Bach is scandalous – but its programmes are growing progressively more third rate. The symphony concerts are a round of Bethoven’s 5th and 7th with an occasional 3rd.
January 25 Friday: I spoke in a debate in the Union. Although the main speakers were all well-known the attendance was only 29. This is due to the terrible uncomfortableness of the temporary union. I played chess in the evening and drew one and lost one against Whalley. I have persuaded Peter Evans to serve on the committee for the relief of the victims of German Fascism which Scholfield is organizing.
January 26 Saturday: I went to the School of Architecture and saw Scholfield at last. After visiting the union and seeing Halliday and Pat Lees, we went to Lees’s rooms. He is of a type I am more at home with than with Riddell or his brother. He says he does not mix well with other people, but he is interested in music and on his table was a copy of Wilfred Owen’s poems which he is very fond of.
Later I went to see Moore and arranged a transfer from the YCL to the CP. Clive Moore is in bed with influenza. I then went to see George Evans.
January 27 Sunday: In the afternoon Westmore came to enquire about a CP propaganda meeting. Iver Mercer refused point blank to attend it.
January 28 Monday: I played in a chess match against the University team. Charles Mount, Whalley and I won. The others lost.
January 29 Tuesday: Nothing of great importance happened. I saw Riddell and Scholfield.
January 30 Wednesday: I had hardly entered the union and seen Riddell when a fresher called Whitehead, an architect, asked if there was a Communist Club. Riddell had to go away but his brother came. I walked down to the Picton with Whitehead who is from the Holt. He has religion in a mild way. Later I saw Moore and borrowed Lenin on Religion and read it. I saw Westmore and took a book to the library for him, myself borrowing Boissonade’s Life and work in the middle ages. Then I saw George Evans and later called on Bennett.
January 31 Thursday: I accompanied Scholfield to the house of the party organizer. Riddell came. He suggested not allocating Scholfield to any group but starting a grand new university group.
There was another chess match tonight which we won hands down even without Whalley. Charles Mount lost (1) I played (2) and won. LBW (5), Guthrie (4), Richmond (3), George Wright (6) won but Lilly lost. Yet this team beat the university 2nd 5 1/2 – 11/2. Iland was at the club.
George Evans told me an odd thing. A somewhat snobbish character called Blair came to him and said, “Don’t you think that Mercer will grow up almost exactly like Greaves.” Evans looked innocent and asked who was Greaves. “Oh – the Johnny with the umbrella – you didn’t remember him? I say – do you know whether Mercer knows Greaves?”
I called to the Birkenhead Institute to see Charles Mount about chess. I was accosted by WH Watts who asked me to give a talk next Monday. I am a little annoyed with them but shall comply for reasons of policy.
February 1 Friday: The new month is here and the weather still warm. There has been absolutely no winter yet. I have never known such a mild year. There are roses in bloom in the garden.
I saw Riddell and Scholfield who is going to Oxford tomorrow and will see Brian White. I also saw Price-Williams. There was a meeting in the Arts Theatre at which candidates in the Wavertree by-election expounded their views. They included Randolph Churchill, Arthur Morris and Cleary. Platt of the “National” Conservatives declined to attend. Actually the only reason for the meeting was that Peter Evans wanted to hobnob with notabilities. According to Colqhoun, Churchill’s presence was a Daily Mail stunt. He was sent down as reporter and then decided to stand against the “vile caucus” that was ostracizing his father. Certainly he spoke of nothing else. At best he was a mediocre speaker, and was heckled mercilessly. At one point he drew roars of laughter when he swung his arm with the sort of gesture that would be expected to accompany a Rouget de l’sle call to revolution, but no words came. Arthur Morris, a man in his forties, fared better. He was Welsh and witty, and though he was interrupted he kept his good humour and made his Liberal case. As for Cleary he was listened to without a murmur. He talked about wages and employment and things these students would have to face and despite his rightwing and doleful moderation he was near the bone and went down.
Before the meeting began about 50 engineers stormed the doors and gate-crashed. Glass doors were smashed to smithereens, chairs were overturned and scattered, people were battered and trampled on and people who had tickets were irritated by the pea-shooters, stinkbombs and fireworks these young boobies imported. Gasking was badly hurt. The culprits were mainly freshers straight from school. One thing that did happen was that Westmore introduced me properly to Windsor who is a socialist. In the evening I played two games of chess with Whalley and won one.
Price-Williams was a teacher, in the CP I think, certainly in the EWL when it existed. He came from Coedpath in Denbigh. George Wright respected his sincerity. I fell out with him in August 1936, when Frank Jones, Bloor, IH Jones and I went camping in Iorwerth Williams’s field and started a CP branch. He objected.
February 2 Saturday: I saw Whittenbury in Lord Street. In the evening I went to the Library and borrowed Fait divine(Barbusse) and A publisher speaks by Faber. George Evans was there and Guthrie. Later I called on Moore. His son Clive Moore is working at Stoke-on-Trent. According to what Guthrie told Evans, Iver Mercer has rich relatives from London and he has had to stay at home “to hand the cakes”.
February 3 Sunday: In the evening I called on Westmore and accompanied him to the CP propaganda meeting in the Picton Hall. I think he was suitably impressed.
February 4 Monday: In the day Riddell received a letter from a Miss Maryla Frenkel addressed “Comrade” and wishing to be in touch. In the afternoon I went to Birkenhead Institute and delivered a lecture on “Science and History” to an audience of 15. Al Davies was there but not Guthrie. I was very surprised at the lively interest they betrayed. One Booth was always popping up asking questions, also Winter and others. WH Watts [his former physics teacher – Ed.] was surprised but remarked afterwards that the cream of the intelligence of the school was there. I then went back into the city to hold a group meeting in Scholfield’s flat. Riddell, Scholfield and Price-Williams were there.
February 5 Tuesday: In the lunch hour I saw Miss Frenkel who is Jewish and Polish. She is spending a year here and a year in France to learn languages, but she intends settling in the USSR. She says socialism is her first interest. Later I was at the Liverpool Botancial Society and got into conversation with Dovaston who is at the Holt, and their best chess player. He remembers the Riddells, Colqhoun and Hunt.
February 6 Wednesday: I had a filthy cold and stayed in bed all day.
February 7 Thursday: I lunched with Miss Frenkel. She said millions of people were starving in Poland, but they had none of the sense of property that workers have here. In Poland Britain is considered some kind of earthly paradise but she has seen enough to know it is not. I still suffer from a cold, and on calling on George Evans learned that Iver Mercer is in bed, and that was why he was not at the lecture.
February 8 Friday: There’s no doubt about it at all that February is the most miserable month in the whole year. I loathe it! I dread it every year. I asked the little Egyptian, a marvellously vivacious youth, what he thought of it. He said it gave him a pain. It is cold, foggy, stinking, wet, clammy and altogether bloody. I’m fed up with it. It froze today, mercifully melting later on. And this is the mildest year I’ve ever known. We pulled the last of last year’s roses today, a wonderful flower, with as good a shape as any of those in the summer.
I played chess in the evening, winning against Whalley. I walked home with Charles Mount. He said Layton had left Mrs Hunt’s owing to a domestic row and now lives with an aunt. E.Wynne Hughes stopped him from chess until Mount pointed out that something might be said on the boy’s side. “For”, said Mount ,”I shouldn’t live there rent free and a pound a week pocket money.” Charles Mount has no time for Mrs Hunt. He wants to take a team to play in Warrington but not even Mr Piggott’s distinguished intercession could get them a 2d reduction of the fare. Eight is a team; seven is not.
February 9 Saturday: I was too unwell to go to the university – coughing, snorting, snuffling. It surprises me that it is not freezing. And in the evening it added rain to our miseries. I went to the Library. George Evans told me that Iver Mercer is still ill. I knew this for I was at the school in the morning to see Charles Mount. I gave Guthrie a thing for his Visor [the Birkenhead Institute school magazine – Ed.]. E. Wynne Hughes told me I am shortly to receive £10, but not the £30 I applied for. While this cold is on me I’ve been reading Browning which I like, but not to read often, and bits and clippings of Shakespeare and Shelley.
February 10 Sunday: Nothing happened in the day except that AMM came [his maternal grandaunt, Alice McMath – Ed.] and afforded some amusement by her whimsical satire on her relative. Later I called on Phyllis Mercer and found Guthrie and Davies there. I played them at chess and they won with moves back. Afterwards Davies said he was not ready to go to bed and suggested a walk. He told me that at one time he wished to learn the violin but his family – to be precise his stepmother, his father being absent in London – forbade it. He marvels at Iver Mercer’s perspicacity and the speed with which he has learned chess.
February 11 Monday: To my surprise I learned that Dovaston, the Holt boy at the Botanical Society, is in touch with Riddell and his brother and has leftwing literature secretly stowed away. He will probably join us next year. I am feeling better now.
February 12 Tuesday: I was better again and saw Mount, Piggott in the evening and Riddell and his brother during the day.
February 13 Wednesday: I saw Smith and Miss Tart. I called on Iver Mercer again and played chess with the three of them. Guthrie had been reading the Swinburne I lent Mercer. I pointed out that a lyric must be singable, but an epic needs to be declaimed. Music influences literature. But the reverse is true, and even orchestral music can bear the impress of the composer’s language.
February 14 Thursday: It was announced that a certain Father Groser was to speak to the SCM [Student Christian Movement – Ed.] on “Christianity and Communism”. He was a Catholic Crusader but shocked them by his leftness. Later I went to a chess match in which Iver Mercer took part as Whalley, LBW, Guthrie, Wilson and Lilly were all unavailable. We lost 21/2 – 41/2. I won. George Wright won, and Richmond drew. Afterwards Iver Mercer came up with me and showed me some verses he had written – very schoolboyish, something to do with a sunset, but showing some sense of words. He offered the sentiment that he was afraid of death and wanted to give his best to the world. I suppose this is the same thing in essence as wondering how to get the best out of the world.
February 15 Friday: At midday Father Groser let the cat out of the bag. He is a member of the Socialist League. Riddell was conversing with Gasking and brought me over to help. He had just been asked if he was a member of the CP. After denying it he finally admitted it. We all went to a meeting that was addressed by Walter Citrine [Leading TUC figure – Ed.]. Miss Frenkel was surprised at Fr Grosser, but said of Citrine that reformist arguments were the same all over the world.
The usual unruliness prevailed – interruptions and paper aeroplanes. But Citrine soon stopped it. He said among other things that if they’d the intelligence to listen he might teach them something. Riddell had collected some quotations from Citrine’s speeches. These embarrassed him but he got out of it.
February 16 Saturday: Today was warm and wet. It looks like March or April, everything burgeoning and shooting. I saw George Evans at the LIbrary.
February 17 Sunday: In the afternoon I walked with Westmore, and in the evening Iver Mercer came and we played chess. I managed to win although my game seems to have fallen off of late.
February 18 Monday: I felt indisposed to work at Botany in the morning and went over to the Union at 11 am. There I encountered a “fresher” who had posed Citrine an awkward question, and who had looked approvingly at Riddell and myself. Westmore indeed had volunteered, “His bright eyes make me think he is a communist.” I had a coffee with him. He told me he was born and bred on Das Kapital, wrote verses, and was disgusted by the low intellectual level of the university. After a long talk he told me the only thing worth living for was “Beauty” – with the majuscule. He deplored the fact that the only hope for the social system lay in hate. He felt this was very bad for his cultural complexion. His name is Jones. He is mildly “Celtique” and says he hates the “Teutonic” psychological type and recognizes the more ebullient Celt very readily. He likes music better than poetry, especially Beethoven’s 5th and 7th symphonies. He said that if Beethoven had continued to write in the vein of his second he would have made fortunes. He thinks great art has a limited appeal and that Tolstoy’s What is Art is nonsense. He cycles in the summer with a tent. I told him I preferred meeting people. “I carry mine with me,” he smiled, “one”. Later he spoke of his girlfriend, “amée feminine”, as he put it.
February 19 Tuesday: I spoke to the North End Co-op Guild tonight and was very successful. Enid Greaves was there. I saw IH Jones for a few minutes. He is reading Geography, social science, English and French. Halliday has become extraordinarily mournful and replies to greetings with grunts and monosyllables. Donald Magee has a theory that he must be in love, others say it is indigestion, which possibly possesses a “human form divine”. Piggott is deserting his Hereford lady-love in favour of one in closer proximity.
February 20 Wednesday: I hear that Dovaston’s parents have discovered and wantonly destroyed a large quantity of SCR literature lent him by Riddell via IIand. In the evening I called on Casson and invited him to write an article for Student Front.
Everything was a “Front” in those days, just as later everything was “alternative”. I cannot remember Iland.
February 21 Thursday: I saw Westmore and Riddell. My fair companions Miss Allen and Miss Myrick have fallen violently in love with two odd-looking architects, one of them a Swede. They look brainless. But, then, I would not say my colleagues are superlatively blessed.
February 22 Friday: I played chess in the evening losing to Richmond in a good game off the Alekhine defence.
February 23 Saturday: A very welcome letter arrived in the morning with the information that I have been awarded the Shell Exhibition until July 1936. This will clear me of financial worries. I went into the city and collected the SCR Library from Social Science. I saw Riddell.
Messrs Tunstall and Bowyer have been for some time pressing me to give a talk to the Commerce Society. Yesterday I found they seriously wanted it and agreed to do it. Riddell has been boxing and got severely battered. He is lying in bed, groaning. I saw Westmore, also George Evans, and later still, Iver Mercer with Guthrie.
February 24 Sunday: I took part in a demonstration against the unemployment bill. I met young Moore, Bowman and others and we walked to Birkenhead Park. I carried the banner while Bowman concealed himself while passing his own home. I don’t know why. I met a “revenant”, a famous clod called Campbell who was at Birkenhead Institute, an Orangeman with strong Fascist sympathies. People say he has done no work since he left school in 1929, though he claimed to have refused numerous opportunities that failed to come up to his expectations.
In the evening Iver Mercer came as usual. The pretendedly socialist town council, I told him, seemed at least to have relieved us of the attentions of the police this afternoon. It seemed as if they had been specially withdrawn. We played chess and looked at the SCR library. The Clifton Arts Club have again sent particulars of their competition. I might try a poetic play. Last night I borrowed from the Library the only book on the subject and read it. It does no more than describe the techniques of poetic dramatists since 1900, and I’ve read most of the plays it mentions long ago. So it was not very helpful. I shall have to evolve my own technique.
February 25 Monday: I saw Bowyer and Tunstall. The latter is worth mentioning because I would not trust him half a mile with a ha’penny. He is a big fat bloated specimen, a fair example of bodily and mental degradation. He used to be a professional Rugby player until his father died and left him a public house, on the proceeds of which he lives. His chief topic of conversation is prostitution, but he has an unrivalled capacity for making things appear ridiculous, presenting his absurdities with such a serious face that some people think he is a sententious booby instead of a prime humourist who ought to be on the stage if D’Oyle Carte offered him a post. But his influence is utterly bad. He is vulgarly sensual, and takes pleasure in leading the lesser lights into sexual indiscretions. His friends are Bowyer and De Loew.
Later on I saw Riddell, his brother and Scholfield. The two Riddells want me to take IH Jones to their establishment but I am not inclined to.
Tunstall sold contraceptives to the students, some of whom told me they distrusted their quality. He also had pornographic pictures. Bowyer was mad on chess and was quite a good player. Admittedly Tunstall tried to prevent his missing his lectures. He affected an excessively Lancashire accent. He used the word “bloody” a great deal and pronounced it near enough to “blue-dy”. I can’t remember De Loew.
February 26 Tuesday: Only Mrs Paul and I turned up at a meeting Miss Tart had forgotten about and gone out. I talked a long time with Mrs Paul and she agreed with my intention of gradually cutting Riddell off from my university contacts. She thinks Moore foolish for exposing himself. We discussed Slepchenko and noted that he was as thick as thieves with Clutton and Pargold [who were sympathetic to Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists – Ed.]. Dempsey, the Director of Education, is Fascist in outlook for Mrs Paul elicited from him the fact that he is an ex-army officer and knows the inside military position of Russia. After that I went to Moore’s.
Mrs Paul had been to a Catholic school and her favourite advice was “be Jesuitical.”
February 27 Wednesday: As I walked up Brownlow Hill I met the chess team a man short on their way to Leeds. I accepted their invitation to go, partly because Yaffe was going. In the train IHW Jones (music Jones) said he disagreed with the USSR, and I put it to him at a venture that he was a Fascist, for his arguments went that way. “No”, he replied, “I am not, but I have a great deal of sympathy with their ideas.” He is a friend of Bowyer and he told me something of Tunstall’s past. He and Bowyer were in the OTC [Officers Training Corps – Ed.] together. Tunstall is on speaking terms with Pargold. Pargold is reading Philosophy. Gasking elicited from Riddell that he was in the CP and though sworn to secrecy told Peter Evans. Jones praised Gasking and said he was cut out for a chair in Philosophy.
Yaffe had discreetly listened to the discussion. I could tell he was on my side, and he spoke to me later about the Jewish question. He has a weird fascination over me that I can’t analyse. He is at once so old and staid, and so young and intense. He is limp. He displays no energy. But his eyes are bright and active. He is a visionary Zionist. Newman started telling dirty stories and the others chaffed Yaffe because he had no interest in them. He is regarded as an oddity. Whether that is any harm is another matter. In order to go to Leeds I gave up a lecture and two engagements.
I omitted to say that I met Mrs Mercer late last night and she spoke of Iver. “I hope he will make something of his life. I am glad he is interested in the serious things. But I don’t try to influence him in any way. I believe in letting him form his own opinions.” She said the last twice. Then she complained of electoral apathy as Labour people do. Presumably she is indicating to me that it would be no harm if I didn’t “try to influence him”.
February 28 Thursday: The visit to Leeds is liable to cost me dear. Indeed it unleashed an academic hurricane. The professor when I went to see him to apologise for missing the lecture blew up and said all three of us were totally unsuitable for honours and that all the rest of the staff concurred, and what was more it was his intention to kick us all out. He is going to decide by the end of this week. Then, to add insult to injury, he thanked me for going to see him.
It seems that my two fair companions had also missed the lecture and gone off somewhere with their architects. The three of us held a hurried conference and I suggested approaching Dr Knight. As we were debating it who should come in but Dr Knight herself, and it was clear that she knew nothing of the explosion. We therefore decided to send Miss Allen as plenipotentiary to Dr Knight and as a result Dr Knight promised to do what she could, but told us privately that she had just had a serious quarrel with the Professor.
Accordingly in the afternoon Mr Matthias came to see us and was very sympathetic, frank and unaffected. He thought we had suffered from “an unfortunate simultaneity of circumstance” and tried to reassure us. He will do what he can. But the Professor loathes Matthias whom he regards as in league with Dr Knight. He may be able to do something with Dr Sterling, an extraordinarily boorish Scotchman, whose classes are so boring that we neglect them. On Tuesday when he came into our room, it was bad enough that I was not there, but worse that my two colleagues were dancing with two members of the Irish society. Even while we were talking with Matthias one of them came in and had not the sense to invent an excuse.
March 1 Friday: In the morning I met Dr Knight, who beamed sympathetically. At least it is a fine morning, and the Professor’s medicals, to whom he plays down, gave him a splendid ovation. Dr Knight told Miss Allen that she had “planted her seed yesterday”, but the professor ignored us all day. Then in the afternoon he acknowledged Miss Allen and the barometer rose. Sterling grew polite with me in the afternoon after a conference with Matthias. All day my companions have been hysterically leaping from laughter to tears and back again, unhinged by true love and ill luck, twin embarrassments.
In the later afternoon I gave a talk to the University Commerce Society on “Science as an economic function”. It was an unqualified success. I made an impression by speaking without notes. Riddell came, partly we didn’t trust Tunstall and there might have been a rough house. Then in the evening I did not play chess but listened to Bach and Handel. I saw IH Jones and Westmore in the day.
March 2 Saturday: I was at the university today. The Professor looked through me. And my two colleagues were not there. There are still clouds about. I went to the Library in the evening and looked at FCS Schiller’s Must philosophers disagree? in order to see if my ancient antipathy to that gentleman was due to his having Fascist tendencies in his pseudo-science. Sure enough he had. I soon discovered a passage condemning the USSR and praising Mussolini. It must be that I must have instinctively felt the tendentiousness of what passes for modern science.
March 3 Sunday: Iver Mercer did not call this evening as he is working. But I saw George Evans who however had no news.
March 4 Monday: There was no news from the Professor and we think he must have relented. Sterling, Matthias and Dr Knight have all been affable. And maybe the professor has a point. We have not killed ourselves with academic work. I saw Paul, Williams and Riddell and later went to see the Birkenhead YCL which has grown. I saw Whittenbury about Dovaston and Solomon, whom Riddell and his incompetent colleague Bisson have allowed to trickle out of the YCL. As for Riddell I take no notice of him now.
March 5 Tuesday: I had tea with Riddell, his brother, Miss Frenkel and Ruby Berry. Riddell told her that his main party work is organizing the YCL. Its chaotic state is conceivably not unconnected with that fact. It is characteristic of him that he will never finish anything. Riddell is working in a LLY [Labour League of Youth – Ed.] in the South End and they asked for a speaker. His brother is practically insisting on going there. But some of the LLY know him well. I told Riddell to speak himself. The brother is also constantly nosing into the university group, though his judgement is valueless. He is full of suggestions for other people to carry out. His lack of tact is appalling. He had missed something Miss Frenkel had said and she reminded him. “You didn’t tell me,” he insisted. She assured him she had. “Well, perhaps you spoke Polish and I couldn’t understand you.” Why not admit he had forgotten? This gives him his reputation as a boor and a barbarian. I saw IH Jones for a minute and sent him with a message to Westmore to get them acquainted.
The Science Association meeting was held and Professor Low gave a talk on spiritualism. He only half believes in it, not because he is a scientist, but because he is a Christian. I put it to him that he had no experimental proof of it. He agreed. Then I asked if he did not deplore the present tendency of science to substitute subjectivity for experiment. People applauded my hit, and MacLean Thompson, who was in the chair, was visibly pleased. His fury is now directed at Misses Allen and Meyrick who have been smoking in the vicinity of absolute alcohol.
At the Liverpool Botanical Society Dovaston did not arrive. I will send him a note via Iland. Hilda Browning demands that the SCR shall be formed immediately.
March 6 Wednesday: This morning the Professor wished me good morning. But I’ll need to do well in the terminal exams. As usual I saw Riddell, and called on Casson and obtained his article on conditions in Chester training college. He promised to join the EWL, so I went to Miss Tart and told her so. Lunam and Bowman were arrested for chalking unpalatable truths on the walls of the Fascist barracks in Wallasey.
I saw Halliday and denounced Professor Low’s bunkum. “Some say others talked bunkum,” says he with a grin. Now Halliday is inclined to credit the existence of psychic phenomena. I am not pleased with Halliday. Last week I saw him with Clutton. As for his present moroseness, Piggott may attribute it to love or indigestion. I think it has a basis in political regression.
“Professor” AM Low was not a scientist or indeed a professor except in Fleet Street, where he “professed”.
March 7 Thursday: I saw Scholfield and Riddell who is busy with the Labour League of Youth. I am still opposed to Riddell’s brother going there. I hear Bisson has told him that he is going to give less time to the YCL and more to his own work – painting pictures, some of which sell. I know Bisson is very “art for art’s sake”. I always suspected him of overcompensated ineptitude. He plays the dictator to hide his ineffectiveness. There will be no progress while he has the leadership. He has illegality on the brain. Riddell’s brother is now trying to shift responsibility for the LNU on to Bisson’s shoulders. Why did he take it on if not to finish it?
I wrote Dovaston a note which I gave to Iland. He demanded to know what was in it. I showed it him. It was non-political.
March 8 Friday: There was a debate at midday on the matter that “Subsidies to private industry are dangerous and ought to be abolished.” I made the most brilliant speech yet, and evoked cheers as well as applause. I was told that it had brought back the debates to the standard of Crehan and Fergus. Hurd, Peter Evans and Bentley were very indifferent. Peter Evans proposed the motion, Ruby Berry seconded. I saw Riddell and his brother who are now criticising Bisson right and left.
I don’t think I ever heard Crehan. I heard Fergus once. I think it was Crehan who described a politician as “the floating kidney of the body politic”. Fergus used to close his eyes and pour out a stream of incredibly rapid eloquence.
March 9 Saturday: I heard from George Evans that his people had found out he was in the YCL and raised strong objections. His father brought in some Fascist literature, and bought tickets for Mosley’s meeting tomorrow. I gave him some advice.
I met Ag. in the Library. He told me that an Institute boy had told him he had carried out communist agitation in the school. I pretended to know nothing about it. Ag. walked a long way with me and I had some difficulty shaking him off. I blew George Evans up for talking too much. He says Re. is on the booze.
Ag. Angelman, a medical student then, I think, perhaps 2 years my junior. He would not give George Evans away, but he was a gossip and knew people who lived close to Evans. He probably wanted some more gossip from me. Re. – Rees. One time a friend of Donald Magee, an unfortunate youngster sometimes known as Snow from living with a chemist of that name, about the same age as Angelman. I know nothing about his family background but that it was unhappy. He was killed in the war.
March 10 Sunday: I have just finished Fascism and Social Revolution by R.Palme Dutt, an excellent book, also Lenin on Britain, both borrowed from Scholfield. In the evening Iver Mercer called. Last week he and his mother went to a play at the Girls’ Secondary School. Afterwards his mother introduced him to Miss Howells, the head mistress. “Oh, Yes”, she said cattily,”That’s the very bolshevik young man. Miss Colley told me about him.” This amused him as Miss Colley is Campagnac’s private secretary. George Evans had called asking him to go to the Stadium. I told him about Mercer.
Campagnac was Professor of Education and in a position to hand out grants to people who wanted to be teachers.
March 11 Monday: I attended a debate between the Botany and Zoology Societies. In the evening we heard a report from Rawlings of the Manchester Congress.
March 12 Tuesday: At 1 pm. George Wright and Turner told Riddell that a foreign lady wished to speak to him. It proved to be Maryla Frenkel. She was in a state of great perturbation. She had gone into the women’s lounge and had hardly sat down when a Daily Worker was thrown into her lap by somebody who disappeared. Now this involved a man in taking it from the men’s lounge and a woman for taking it to where it was thrown. We tried to ease her mind, and wondered who the intimidator could be. There was a person rather similar in appearance to IH Jones who had overheard me ask Riddell for the Daily Worker. He said he also had been looking for it. But it was nobody I recognised.
In the evening we played a chess match at Wallasey – the result 2/2 and 3 to be adjudicated.
March 13 Wednesday: George Evans called in the afternoon. Mosley’s meeting had unfortunately been a success. Today he received 36 copies of Spark (School Student) from Miss Spector in London. The parcel had been opened by the Post Office. I have traced Miss Collie [spelt “Colley” in the earlier entry in the original – Ed.]. She is a lecturer, not a private secretary. She was educated at Merchant Taylors’ school, Bangor and Zürich, is notoriously objectionable and always quoting Hearnshaw on the teaching of history. She lives near Slepchenko in Birkenhead. Miss Howells too is from Birkenhead originally. Edge returns next Tuesday. I arranged to see Miss Jaffe.
March 14 Thursday: When I saw Smith of the Wiend in the evening he said that Evans perè is not the reactionary we thought him. Apparently he knows him. This gave me the notion of going to see him.
For some time past Westmore has been complaining about the position at his home. His mother has oedipus complex à retours. She keeps him short of money, to keep his wings clipped, and not content with keeping him forcibly by her side, when he is there nags him endlessly. If he comes in late she “can’t sleep”. If he gets up late she bawls at him from her own bed as he makes his own breakfast. She called him a “roué” for going to two dances in one week. She is neurotic and given to nervous breakdowns and came near persuading him of his own depravity. After many years henpecking the husband she has turned to keeping the chicken at home. This at any rate is Westmore’s account of it.
March 15 Friday: I lunched with Hilda Jaffe who promised to support the SCR but will not be secretary. She it was who after spending one year at the university, and being given a seat on the Soc. Soc. committee on condition – as Brown put it –she helped to squash Riddell’s brother, disappeared in a dustcloud of romantic resolutions with the object of becoming “really proletarian” and “one of the world’s workers”. However she is very pleasant and has personality.
Later there was a zoological talk from Palmer. I fell asleep. Then I went to a chess match against the school. I played two simultaneously and won both. Iver Mercer announced he was going to London for the first time in company with his sister Phyllis Mercer and would not be coming on Sunday.
The Jaffe family were of course Jewish, but the father was a well-known eccentric, with the money to indulge his eccentricity. I can’t remember Palmer.
March 16 Saturday: In the morning I saw George Evans perè who said he was not anti-communist but his son was not convinced one way or the other and wavered and hesitated all the time. He did not understand it. He was reflecting the views of people older than himself. As evidence of his incomprehension he said George Evans thought the Fascist meeting was good.
I went into the city and saw Riddell for a moment. Riddell and his brother irritate me almost beyond endurance. Riddell’s voice is loud, his delivery is slow and he wanders from the point like trickling treacle. He boxes. The brother is quicker, but utterly tactless because he thinks ill-manners are “proletarian”. I walked to Bromborough with Westmore and we took some literature to Owen, the man who is “reddening” the Rover Scout troop. I met him at the Co-op Guild. Later still I called on Moore who told me that Clive Moore is in Bradford. We discussed George Evans. It is true that he has not been doing much with the YCL. We thought possibly one of Pendlebury’s contacts could keep vaguely in touch with him.
I called on Coffey. He said he and his sister came of a clerk’s family, but were gradually being depressed into the lumpenproletariat. He found in himself a growing willingness to “pig in” to make shift, and could well understand how people could be so maltreated by their environment as to make them fit for nothing. Many of those he had known as a boy in that aristocracy of labour, people who had holidays every year, now had children who had never been further than Bidston Hill.
March 18 Monday: I saw Westmore in the Union. He said he was anxious to take an active part in politics. Could I have him made secretary of the Socialist Society? Now I have every intention of forcing Peter Evans to capitulate. This may be an opportunity to secure an abdication. However I met Riddell who says he is thinking of going to Russia. He says it is rumoured that Peter Evans wants to spend another year at the university and become Guild President. But this is not what Norah McGrath said to me a few days ago. Later I did some work.
March 19 Tuesday: There was an examination in the morning. I saw Westmore later, full of his woes. He is short of money. He starves himself to buy cigarettes and go to dances. She tells the family doctor, all their relatives and friends, the milkman and the parson about her “caddish son”. He is “no gentleman, cruel, babyish, ungrateful . . .” and so ad nauseam.
When I got home I found Edge had called and went to see him and found Westmore there. They had been to a cinema with McNaught from Oxford, a gaily-dressed rather cherubic bohemian who was leaving. His family says he has “gone to pieces”. They blow him up for failing last year. But he failed on purpose as Southampton was driving him to drink. He moans interminably.
After he had gone Edge told me some interesting things. Over tea his mother had attacked me – not personally, I was “all right” – but my ideas. I was obviously the hub of all rebellion. Westmore said that whereas at one time he had thought my “pretensions to intellectual preeminence” were ill-founded, now he thought the contrary. He says his family accuse him of being dominated by me. “You’ve no will of your own.”
March 20 Wednesday: We insisted on Edge going to the union today. I called and took him there. After a while Westmore appeared. We paid for his lunch, his cigarettes and his ‘bus fare home. He is a regular cockpit now, a den of wild animals. He has incurred a library fine of 6d on my ticket and the library threatens to stop the ticket. On learning this I blew up and he promised that of all his debts that will take precedence. We got rid of him at my place, but hardly had we got some muffins from the Co-op opposite, and eaten them, when he blew in again. I went and played the piano instead of dominating him, but according to Edge’s watch Westmore talked at him solidly for 20 minutes without stopping as it seemed even for breath. He is a dreadful bore. Edge wondered if he was going off his head. Later we told Mrs Edge about it and she said Mrs Westmore is genuinely in a bad way and liable to have a nervous breakdown. At chess I lost.
March 21 Thursday: I met Snowden in James St. He says Pendlebury is alienating everybody. His girlfriend moreover is quite a reactionary. Later I saw Riddell, and then Westmore poured his woes into my ear. He certainly looks harassed and underfed and says he feels like drowning his sorrows in drink. Now as I was returning from the centre of Birkenhead I met Edge walking beside his cousin DE., son of the dead musician, and letting DE. away on his bicycle, we had just stopped to talk outside my gate when Westmore strode up in great excitement. There was high cockalorum at home and he was rushing round frantically for advice.
He had been walking with Edge all afternoon. When he reached home his mother blew him up for nothing at all. She refused to make his tea. But she nagged. He took some cake. This stimulated more vehement polylogics. The denunciations grew violent and included me. I was a communist and had influenced him against her. She took my character, tore it up, threw it down and stamped on it, and looking round for fresh prey saw Westmore getting his coat and returned to him. He could stay at Liverpool University no longer. Look at the sacrifices she had made. His father pays half and her father the other half. She asked if he could do education after Intermediate. Then she threatened to see his grandfather, Dempsey and Griffiths (his old headmaster at RFHS) with a view to his instant dismissal. And she would do it, too, says Westmore. At this he put his hat on, and went to go out. “Kenneth!”, she shrieked, “come here!” So he slammed the door in her face and came round to see me. Now seeing what was coming Edge had already been to Mrs Guthrie and neutralised her. He had more or less won over his mother. I advised him to go to see his grandfather and put the whole position before him. His father was against him now, he said, owing to disputes over the wireless. I suggested a man to man talk with his father, and as for his mother to humour her. So Edge lent him his bicycle and off he went to Wallasey.
Apparently I was out of favour because I “always talked as if I know all about everything.” I had ventured some strictures on Shakespeare and that had never been forgiven. At any rate Westmore assures me that if I presented myself at his family abode, I will be thrown out on my neck. His father would insult me on sight. If they denounce me to Dempsey I’ll never get a teaching job in Birkenhead. But Edge held that all was not lost. McNaught had upheld socialism to Guthrie who had as a consequence had a violent argument with his father.
March 22 Friday: When I went over in the morning resolved to see Peter Evans and secure his abdication from the Soc.Soc., whom should I find in Sphinx office but Westmore. A few days ago he had talked of approaching Evans about becoming secretary of the Soc.Soc. This he thinks would help to re-establish his fallen credit. I guessed he had sold us in favour of Peter Evans. I could scarcely restrain my fury. But I said I had a headache.
“Do you know anything about this League of Youth there is supposed to be in Garston?” asked Evans.
I looked blank. “No. Why?”
“Hasn’t Riddell told you about it?”
“It doesn’t sound like a League of Youth if it’s Riddell’s.”
“Hm! Well the Riddells are ‘interested’ in it.”
“I regret”, I replied, “I am not privy to their counsels.”
But since I at least knew Riddell was “interested” and had tried to divert his brother’s interest, I wondered how it had leaked out. Obviously Peter Evans can find the LLY [Labour League of Youth – Ed.] or how would he know Riddell was there? He is preparing a grand LLY demonstration on April 17th at the Picton Hall and from this he hopes to get money to start LLYs everywhere. He asked Westmore to start one in Birkenhead.
After this Peter Evans got more friendly and took us into the cafeteria and got us free coffee. The next thing Westmore did was to give away Whittenbury’s name and address. This was to enable Evans to start a LLY in Wavertree. In return he invited Westmore to Cardiff – £3 gone bang! – to an LSS conference. Then Evans praised Fascist Pargold who had flattered him and gave a frank if disgusting narrative of his own careerism.
When Peter Evans went away I had a talk with Jump and attacked Auden, Spender and Cecil Day Lewis. He agreed that our divergent literary judgements were of political origin. Westmore then went away saying he was going to watch tennis but as he had already said he was going to see Edge I was not deceived.
I found Riddell and carted him off to Lewis’s. We decided to prevent this meeting on Wednesday if we could, that is to say the one Westmore was bringing Whittenbury to. For Peter Evans if he doesn’t get a job will stay here next year. He wants to steal our contacts but I doubt he has the slightest intention of restarting the Soc.Soc.
After I left Riddell I went straight to Edge’s and forthwith charged Westmore who was there with hoodwink and deceit. He hedged at first, then declared that my opposition to Peter Evans was merely personal. I told him not to persist in his megalomaniac folly as I was in a position to see that the Soc.Soc. would not be reformed at all. “I’m a free agent,” he whined. We then made him pay us back the money we had lent him. This he did very reluctantly saying he wanted to go to a dance tonight. He lives for dances, though he is a hopeless dancer and the laughing stock of Prenton, worse than Halliday. “Will the CP allow me to go to a dance?” he asked intending to be sarcastic, but not succeeding. I never saw sarcasm peter out so pitifully. Finally we pumped him dry and sent the unhappy creature home.
It seems that Peter Evans had seen him. Westmore asked how the Soc.Soc. was going. Evans invited him into the Sphinxoffice, and was told he knew me.
“What do you think of Greaves?”
“Very strong personality”, says Westmore.
“What is your opinion of communists?” asks Evans.
“Oh! – Very outspoken, very outspoken.”
And that is how Peter Evans seized his opportunity, and won the prospect of wasting £3 on Westmore. I asked Edge to go to Westmore’s on Wednesday and bring Windsor.
March 23 Saturday: I borrowed Bukharin’s Economic Theory of the Leisure Class from the Library. I am beginning a new poem, about the internal conflict of a reformist Trade Union leader. I saw Edge for a time. Yesterday some SCR material arrived while Westmore was here. Later he told Edge that I was “in very close touch with Moscow”. I went to the St Matthew Passion in the evening. The choir and soprano were excellent, the orchestra very poor indeed.
March 24 Sunday: I called on Edge to see if he wanted to go to Stevenson’s Fascist relief meeting. He did not. We called on Iver Mercer and he also didn’t want to go so they came to my place and talked politics.
March 25 Monday: In the morning I went to Wallasey but missed Snowden. In the afternoon Edge called with Westmore and Windsor. We went for a walk. Westmore expressed the absurd view that both Peter Evans and I are “communists” but that I oppose Evans from “personal motives”. He has not given up the notion of being Soc.Soc. secretary and starting LLYs in Birkenhead! II:II [Morse sign for amusement – Ed.). In the evening I reconciled Pendlebury and Snowden who will try to run a Wallasey group as of old. FC Moore is having trouble with the Co-op who are going to vote for the Trade Union “black circular” [forbidding cooperation with communists – Ed.].
March 26 Tuesday: Only today did I realise the depth of Westmores’s turpitude. I received a letter from the Birkenhead library threatening that if I didn’t return a book, Life of Pitt, they would take proceedings. Now Westmore borrowed it on my ticket on February 7th and swore he had taken it back a week ago. I do declare I’ll hold no further truck or commerce with that character. Edge and I went to tackle his father about it and after a search he produced the book. I propose to desolate Westmore and adopt the view that his mother is a noble creature, much to be supported, especially if it embarrasses him.
Later on I saw Hodge who has a German student called Aln staying with him. I saw Riddell in the day.
March 27 Wednesday: When I went to the union in the morning there were Riddell, his brother and Maryla Frenkel. But Hamling told us the lunch hour meeting had been cancelled. Riddell and Marya Frenkel thereupon went away cursing. But I saw three letters on the table addressed to Westmore, Pater Evans and Nora McGrath. I noticed the postmark was NW3 and guessed they were ISS letters about Cardiff. Would nobody be coming in to look for them?
We then went up to Riddell’s brother’s where Riddell completely agreed with my line on the Soc.Soc. Riddell is of course useless in matters of policy. His brother defended his actions during the early days when Communism was as yet unheard of and had to be “shouted about”. He agreed with changing the constitution of the Soc.Soc. He had had a great part in forming it in 1931 when the CP first secured contact here. All that was possible was to make it elastic and allow free speech for all sections of opinion. Now the balance of power is different, the FSS/ULF united front would be a good basis for a new constitution.
After this we went to watch Bell’s father, who runs a firm of steeplejacks, demolish a chimney which a speculator had bought for £7.10, hoping to sell the bricks for £50. It was an immense height and at the base the brickwork was 10 feet thick. The cutting began 10 feet up, where the brickwork was only 6 feet thick. The principle of the thing is to cut it half-way through, then bang it and run. We did not wait for the denouement but had tea in a dockers’ cafe, falling to pieces like the whole of the derelict Dingle area. I than went to see Price Williams.
When I returned to the union I found that the ISS letters had gone. I asked Tanner and the boy, who told me that Peter Evans had been in, but there was no meeting because nobody turned up. “There was another gentleman with him,” said Tanner, “a Mr Westmore. He was talking to Mr Hamling about it. After that they just went over to the New Union with Mr Jump.” So we seem to have foiled them. Later I saw Edge.
March 28 Thursday: IH Jones appeared in the afternoon though he had not written to accept his invitation. We walked to Gayton and I explained the Soc.Soc. position and offered him the post of secretary. He promised to consider it, and seemed favourable. But he has a family and a girl-friend who press him to work hard. He seems highly emotional but says he distrusts self-exhibition. He is more affected by music than by poetry. He has “fought for purity of mind”, whatever that is. He believes in “romantic love” but does not intend to marry. His father would have been active in the CP but for his marriage – this of course is not a reason. He is familiar with the history of the Labour movement and has read some of Marx. His mother’s family is petite-bourgeois, but as my check in the directory revealed, his entourage is working class and his father is a leather worker.
While we were out Edge called and as soon as Jones cycled off to the tunnel, I called on Edge and we played chess until midnight. I said that you can convert somebody at a speed dependent on the amount of his environment you control. The soil of Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow is sterile because the students go home at night. In Oxford and Cambridge it is fertile because these universities are residential. I thought that here it is important to belong to student societies, even following the Rev.S.Spencer’s bright young men like Shore into their discussion circles.
I also said something about poetry. We live in a heroic age when truth is stronger than fiction. Such a period should produce melodrama. But the poetic play is played out. The logical successor is the dramatic monologue.
March 29 Friday: I saw Riddell in the morning and told him the latest. In the afternoon Edge called and we walked to Mrs Paul’s and had tea there. Edge was impressed by the Pauls. I spoke to Moore for a moment on the telephone. We took a bus back, and stayed at my place talking. Edge has taken to writing a diary but finds it difficult to write in the first person, so is tempted to leave the pronoun out. Of course it is still in the first person even then. It is an odd form of self-consciousness.
March 30 Saturday: I typed a number of SCR envelopes in the day. In the evening I called on Edge and we played chess and talked till 12.30 am. His play is for combinations, always opening up the game, as Riddell does, and it usually defeats me, for I prefer a close game with gradual inch by inch pushing. I am weak on combinations and consequently when black play the French defence, and when white the Queen’s pawn game or Réti. Everybody says my weakness is the middle game. I am going to study how to remedy this, perhaps by rapid exchange to go straight from opening to end game.
March 31 Sunday: I stayed in bed in the morning and seem to have succeeded in warding off a threatening cold. I suffer from catarrh and it clogs the mind as well as the passages. Nevertheless the poetry goes by fits and starts.
In the afternoon I took Edge to an aggregate addressed by people from London and Manchester. I thought more contact with the working class would do Edge no harm. He retains many petite-bourgeois prejudices, including an ambition to make money and drive a fast car. Those present included Moore, Stevenson and Ingram Knowles who goes under the pseudonym of Morris. Iver Mercer called later. He is going in trio to Farndon. I wrote more of the new poem which I’m thinking of sending to Left Review.
I presume this Stevenson was the architect. Ingram Knowles was a Bank manager who wished to conceal his political affiliations. He lived near Dibbinsdale.
April 1 Monday: I spent the whole day typing notices for the SCR except for 1 1/2 hours at lunch time when I nipped over to Wallasey, with copies of Spark and returned thoroughly disgusted. It blew a gale. I was caught in a shower and wet. My chain came off; and no less than 9 traffic lights were against me, plus the Duke Street bridge tilted up to let a steamer out of the dock. I played chess with Edge, then went to the YCL and supported Bowman’s scheme for working inside the institutions of capitalism. Bowman seems very mournful lately. I also saw Moore and Miss Tart.
I found Edge waiting for me when I returned and we went for a walk until 12.30, the night being remarkably fine and clear.
April 2 Tuesday: I returned the book which Westmore had villainously retained and paid no less than 8 1/2d on it, to the girl’s amusement and my annoyance. I posted the SCR notices. In the evening I went to the LBS [Liverpool Botanical Society – Ed.]. I spoke in the discussion and took rather an aggressive stand. Green’s position was extraordinary indeed. He was unwilling to support me, even in words, probably from a secret qualm that I might be slipping the dictatorship of the proletariat in at the back door, and he was impelled to insist that he agreed with Mr Travis. But Mr Travis said that Mr Green did not agree with him. But he maintained that Mr Travis implied something he swore he did not imply and held out to general amusement. I came home with Monch, who, curiously enough, was of the same opinion as myself. It seems chemists and experimentalists took my view, while flora-makers and rarity-grubbers opposed it. One might speculate that this was no accident.
April 3 Wednesday: In the morning AMM [his maternal grandaunt – Ed.] who had signed my application for a library ticket as a guarantor, being a ratepayer, arrived in great perturbation.
” I’ve come for 7/6d from you.”
“For that book you have from the library – what’s it, the Life of Pitt.”
I inwardly cursed Westmore for a tit-eyed, pot-bellied sodomite.
“It’s gone back, leave it me.”
“I’m going to,” she said.
So when she had gone I went straight over to Westmore’s place, with coat, scarf and stick, looking as determined as possible, and found his mother. Westmore was not there. She told me he was “at the conference” in Cardiff. I showed her the latest demand through my guarantor, and when she had expressed her disgust I did some artistic diplomacy. She was not unwilling to heap contumely on her son’s head, excusing him half-heartedly as she damned him thoroughly. His statement that I would not be allowed into the house was completely without foundation. I was asked in and once there took up an attitude of surprised but indulgent virtue. When she mentioned politics I said that he had asked to be secretary of the Soc.Soc. and that I was opposed to it. I thought he was better out of politics. He was too nervous and highly strung and needed the firm leaning post of a strong home environment. She was hesitant about playing the strong mother. I assured her she could take him over a difficult time. All the time I contrived to keep just the correct divergence between our opinions, until she appealed to me to use my influence with him to keep him to the way he should go. I agreed, because all I am concerned with is keeping him out of politics, in other words to close him down and place him hors de combat.
Later she explained that when a woman falls in love a second time it is often with her son. “I wouldn’t like to lose him,” she said. She brought me a photograph of him as a child. “Look at him there,” she said, “and think of the poor thing he is now. It’s no use making any bones about it,” she went on, “Kenneth has ability but none the less has limitations. He hasn’t any music like you. Really all he has is his academic work. I don’t want him to make a mess of things as he looks like doing. He never writes anything now. Too much cinema, not that it’s not all right in moderation. And he ought to be in bed early.”
I took the bull by the horns at this point and said that Edge and I had some responsibility for that, but we hadn’t understood . . . He had said . . . And we would assist in any way open to us. She said she would blow him up when he returned, and offered me the money, which I declined saying it was his pigeon not hers, and I wouldn’t accept it even if it came indirectly from her. She asked me not to blow him up too fiercely and we parted on the best of terms.
So then I went to see Edge and showed him the letter I had typed, sending the Library an explanation of the delay of the book due to the “extraordinary behaviour of Mr Westmore”. We then went for a walk to the Devon Doorway. In the evening Iver Mercer called. His father has bought a motor-car and is taking Guthrie, AL Davies and Iver to Farndon on Saturday.
April 4 Thursday: In the morning I did nothing but write letters. I called on Alan Hodge but he was out. I spent the afternoon at Coffey’s place. He said that at present the party was dependent on people who would not be looked at in years to come. He hoped by then it would not be necessary to have people like himself on the LPC. Of Rawlings he said that he was not a man of great abilities. If you saw him coming to the door you would probably have set the dog on him. He had never been foreman even of a gang of two. Consequently when he became a communist, it deified him, it gave him a significance as a torch-bearer that he had never possessed before. He was puffed up with his importance. It was the same with others. These people developed a hectoring style of address, talking at rather than talking to, ready to solve all problems in a trice, and always with set phrases that don’t apply. On this last I have often spoken to Edge about it among university communists. Later I called on Edge and he came in the evening. We called on Hodge who says he is repelled by Left Review. And I don’t blame him. Later, after listening to Verdi’s requiem we played chess, Edge doing a double fianchetto against a Queen’s pawn game and losing as a result. I think that my best opening is the Queen’s pawn off which I have won so many match games. The Reti is too apt to resolve into hot combinations. It is interesting how far my play has moved from Fagatello tactics. Edge still likes the open game and it is his ability to open up that so often does for me.
April 5 Friday: I called on Moore and went to the house of the secretary of the EWL. To my astonishment who should open the door but rabbit Booth. He and Dora O’Neill were staying there to “do” for the secretary while she has influenza. She is an intellectual snob, interested in “Sex”, and he met her as a result of the article that lost him Sphinx. Merry Mr Sheahan was at Moore’s in the evening. I like good-tempered people.
April 6 Saturday: In the morning having received a letter from Alan Morton I quickly set out and met him outside Phillip’s in Church St. We had coffee at the Kardomah. I also received cheques amounting to £20. It was a good day. I heard from Alan that it was sheer slackness on the part of the Cambridge party that Edge has no card. I said I would issue him with one to show them up. The culprit is Pendlebury, the man who talks in the frightfully bolshevik way, the dark, dour, satanic man with the weight of nations on his brow. Alan Morton is only home for three days and departs for Wales on Tuesday.
I went to see Ingram Knowles at Dibbinsdale today. He continually “puts his position in jeopardy”. His wife was at Manchester University. He looks after the literature and was delighted with my giving him something to do.
In the evening Edge père came to say that Edge had gone to Deganwy for the day and would therefore not accompany me to Hodge’s. I was a little put out at this as Hodge had invited both of us. Perhaps Edge thought he was only included out of politeness. So I went myself after seeing Moore. Hodge is a member of the October Club, but Brian White has apparently made no attempt to get in touch with him, and Hodge was complaining that the Labour Club was the more active.
I met Dovaston at the Library. He says they did not go to Farndon at all, as Guthrie’s parents withdrew their permission at the last moment. At first Iver Mercer said he would go by himself, but then didn’t go at all. I saw George Evans but I was talking to Enid Greaves, and he probably did not wish to butt in.
April 7 Sunday: I called at Edge’s but he is still at his grandfather’s place in Deganwy. I hope he arrives in time to do my SCR visits. I listened to Bach’s Matthew Passion in the afternoon. In the evening after seeing Moore, I cycled to the Picton where Rose Smith and Leo McGree were talking. I saw a person I recognised and sat beside him. He turned out to be a Lab boy from the university. He had applied to join the YCL last June and again in November and February, and had had no word. He had since joined the ILP [Independent Labour Party – Ed.] saying “Damn them!” I found Bisson later and blew him sky high. Riddell was present. It seems that his brother had his name and address last year but did not tell me about him. I was furious. It was agreed that he could join the University group – if he wants to. I cycled back with Moore.
April 8 Monday: Nothing much happened. I saw Dr Knight in the morning, and was thinking of going north to Walton when it rained, and I dived for the tunnel and came through while the shower was on. In the evening there was a party discussion class in which I gave the preliminary talk and Moore opened the discussion.
April 9 Tuesday: I set out for Bangor in the morning against a very heavy head-wind, and indeed found it exceptionally hard to get there. I arrived at 4 pm. and stopped for tea. The proprietor on my asking for Edmund Street, asked “Are you the gentleman who Mr Roose Williams was asking if he could stay the night?” I said I was, and later he showed me the way to J. Roose Williams’s place. I was shown into a room crammed full of books, cases all round the walls. Indeed there were more than Moore has. In appearance Roose Williams is a working-class bohemian, rather like Peter Evans in appearance, but far more intense. He walks at 5 miles an hour and shouts when he is excited, which is frequently. He has enormous energy. He used to be in the Labour Party, and was at one time on the Executive of the Welsh Nationalist Party, when he thought it could be turned to advantage. He says he now thinks that Welsh nationalism, which is of recent origin and has been fostered by preachers and teachers who have a pecuniary interest in a vanishing culture and one that vanished a thousand years ago, contains within it no germ of advancement; it is merely a means of separating the Welsh worker from his natural ally in England. It is purely retrospective and can never form a basis for activity against capitalism. Everybody goes to chapel, and the Labour Party, regarded as a more radical Liberal Party, is linked into the same religious complex. At the same time the influx of suburban petite-bourgeoisie from Liverpool, mostly retired people, is increasing the Tory vote. This increase does not reflect a swing to the right among the workers, despite a certain disillusionment with the Labour Party.
There is Fascism in Caernarfon, but none in Bangor, explicitly at any rate. Roose Williams has been driven from the University for being a communist – he is the only communist in North Wales – and the Principal here admits to being the nearest thing to a Fascist. His freedom of action is thus curtailed. Even the students he tutors have been tampered with, but so far they have not been able to starve him.
In the evening we walked into Anglesey to see an old Wallasey member, a friend of Moore’s, Paul’s and Miss Tart’s. It was a great surprise for her to see J. Roose Williams for she had been looking for somebody for years. After a while they were talking of forming a group, and we hope there will soon be a local there. I suggested AE Lloyd whom CG Williams of Abertillery had mentioned, and Roose Williams said that he knew him, but he was going down this summer. After that we walked back in heavy rain and I retired at the place Roose Williams had booked. He was delighted to see me as he never has a chance to talk to anyone.
I think I must already have formed the notion of spreading the CP to North Wales. Clearly I had consulted Moore. I also consulted Clive Riddell who knew J. Roose Williams probably from student meetings. Riddell described him as the most sectarian person he knew – and he wasn’t bad himself! Roose Williams described leaving the EC of Plaid Cymru (I took it to join the CP) to shouts of “Traitor! Traitor!”. But this anti-national phase was only temporary. I went through the same development myself. In 1931 I was deep in the Celtic twilight, learning both Irish and Welsh as well as I could and writing poems about Cader Idris. Then I saw the socialist light and instead of trying to protect a heritage that was constantly shrinking, I was on the offensive. Later we both came to understand the importance of nationalism in its objective context. Like me he was of mixed Welsh and Irish blood – his mother whom I met was a Dun Laoire woman and he often went to Ireland. When I met him in later years he was giving money to Plaid Cyumu as well as the CP and did all his main writing in Welsh.
April 10 Wednesday: In the morning I had another talk with Roose Williams. He showed me the articles which he has published in various newspapers and periodicals. He says it will be a good thing when the Welsh language disappears. It is too much bound up with religion.
I then set out in heavy rain and turned west till I came to Caer-yn-Arfone itself, where I bought some biscuits at Woolworths, and set off for LLanberis to see the famous pass. The wind was approaching hurricane force, trapped in the narrow valley. Indeed I freewheeled as it blew me uphill. I was about 50 yards from Llyn Peris, above it, when I leaned against a wall to look at an odd phenomenon. The spray from the tops of the waves on the lake was being carried hundreds of feet into the air and was dropping like rain everywhere. Suddenly the wind redoubled its force and lifted me and the bicycle off the wall. The lake was invisible; clouds of spray were leaving every inch of it; it seemed to be hailing. The spray was falling for half a mile around. While I was looking at it, astonished at the extraordinary spectacle, a gust of at least 100 miles per hour tore my glasses off my ears and smashed them against a wall 20 yards away behind me. I recovered what was left of them and rode up the pass, though not free-wheeling now, until the rocky defile cut off the wind which was really SSW. I reached Bettws y Coed at 3.30 pm. and leaving at 4 pm. reached home at 8.10, an average speed of 15 miles per hour, which was quite good.
I called on Edge who had come from Deganwy today. He was out so I played chess with Rees till he came. I was rather foozled and lost the first game, but I won the second. He had been to see Jennings and had invited him over next Sunday. He may get a recruit for his group in Cambridge.
The meteorological phenomenon is no doubt the origin of the water-spout. In 1930 – or possibly earlier – I saw clouds of spray rise hundreds of feet into the air and completely obscure the Isle of Man from Newcastle beach[ie. Newcastle, Co Down, Ireland – Ed.] where everybody was watching it. But until this evening it never occurred to me to connect the two things. The Newcastle wind was probably a whirlwind. There was no wind to speak of on shore.
April 11 Thursday: I collected some books from the university and had my hair cut. Later I saw Edge. He says that Westmore since he came home can talk about nothing but politics, communism in particular. Indeed he had made everybody heartily sick of him and the subject. I expect Peter Evans has nursed grandiose illusions. Evans himself is not all knave. His ingenuous belief that he could get the headmastership of Domskirk Grammer school over the astonished heads of its experienced staff shows a touch of romanticism. He has no eye for actualities, for what is liable to happen. And Westmore is worse.
April 12 Friday: I had my eyes tested for new spectacles. I have been trying to write a poem, but have found it difficult. Studying the techniques of previous writers is of no avail. This shows I am getting off the tracks of tradition and am thrown on my own resources. The sonnets, though good in their way, must have had a demoralising affect on my blank verse. However the essential of verse that is not intended to be obscure, is a very clear mental notion of what is to be said, plus a vague plan of the form most adapted to it. And I think I have not sufficiently burned the one with the other.
In the evening the inaugural meeting of the SCR took place, with Edge, myself, Professor Rosenburg, Miss Tart, Hilda Yaffe and her sister Leila and others. Hilda Browning with whom I had had tea gave a very fine lecture. She is rapidly going communist and talks about the CP as “the party”. She said at Christmas that she was half-way between the ILP and the CP. So we formed a committee.
It must have been a year after this that I was talking to Stevenson, the architecture lecturer. He was running down the students and to my annoyance said “The SCR had to be taken off you.” True, it had to be taken off Riddell. But I took it and don’t think a single other person raised a finger to establish it in the city. In those days I was not accustomed to receiving no thanks!
April 13 Saturday: In the afternoon Edge and I walked out to Dibbinsdale and took a cup of tea with the Knowleses. Molly Marshall is expecting a baby any minute. Her opinion of Riddell is very low. They told us Moore had rung up to say Coffey had left the party. He had taken offence at some remarks by Rawlings and Hadwin.
In the evening I had a long talk with Moore who showed me Coffey’s letter to the Liverpool District Committee. I suggested he should be approached to reconsider his opinion. I thought a reaction might set in after a time. He is useful for secretarial work but he is liable to make glaring mistakes when he speaks in public. Then we discussed Jennings and the idiosyncrasies of Pendlebury. The disciplinarian headmaster is the strongest propagandist for Communism there, but Pendlebury thinks it is himself.
April 14 Sunday: In the afternoon Edge and I took part in a demonstration which was not a success. However we heard about a man in Cambridge called Salinger who is antiwar, or was when he was in Wallasey. In the evening Jennings was at Edges. His main friend is Bentley the engineer whom we don’t think much of.
April 15 Monday: I attended the party group meeting in the evening. As far as Coffey is concerned it is clear that his grievance is that he had not been asked to speak in public for a long time. He has a brilliant verbal imagination but no power to marshal facts. He does not speak. He talks. His sister is involved in the quarrel with Hadwin. Now she has joined the party just as he is leaving it. Mrs Coffey “does” for Moore.
April 16 Tuesday: I finished Burns’s Capitalism, Communism and the Transition and at last carved the first two stanzas of my new poem into shape. I called on Mrs Westmore in the afternoon. She was upset that Westmore had suddenly disappeared and sent a telegram from Kendal to say he would be back in due course. Moreover he had forgotten her birthday for the first time in his life. I listened sympathetically and suggested that it would be better if he kept out of politics. I was drinking tea when Westmore himself appeared, scared and furious to see me in the bosom of his family. He said he had gone to the Lake district because he had heard some first year women were there. He had gone to Cardiff because Peter Evans had given him £1.10 towards it. And after hearing that I came away.
I spent the evening with Edge who was very amused at Westmore’s latest escapade. I have borrowed some books from MCh. which I have taken to Molly Marshall at her request to read during her confinement. Her husband Ingram Knowles swears he won’t do a thing before she is delivered. She has not the faintest idea when it will be, and mildly protests she expects it “any minute”.
I have just remembered what MCh. stands for. It is for Marion Cholmondely (or Chumley) a friend of George Wright and Phyllis Mercer. Molly Marshall was Molly Knowles’s maiden name.
April 17 Wednesday: I rose late because I had read Byron’s Sardanapalus in bed during the small hours, and enjoyed it, too. Edge called at 12 noon and asked me to lunch with him as this was his last day in Liverpool. I had shown him my sonnets the night before. He had been to see Westmore whom he called by his school nickname. “How are you, Sox?” he asked politely. “Bloody awful”, moaned the miserable wretch. “I’ve been nagged all morning.” But unfortunately he has not the slightest intention of abandoning politics. He spent all the time with Edge in denouncing me. I was “thoroughly unreliable”, “pure careerist, only a communist because he wants a job” (automorphism!) plus “Peter Evans is a very decent chap – he may be a reformist – probably is – but I agree with him – communism’s all right but Lord save us from the communists.” So Edge asked me to lunch as he had promised to pay a return visit to the panjandrum of barreness. Besides he has to tutor his cousin this evening. So I purchased a box of cheroots which filled the establishment with genteel fumes. Westmore played chess in the afternoon, each winning one and one drawn.
He walked with me to my house and then left to go to see Westmore, returning five minutes later to find me fishing out a comb that had dropped down the lavatory with a length of wire. He said that Westmore was in the highest spirits, laughing and chuckling to himself. “What about asking old Greaves along?” he said. “As a matter of fact he is in.” So I disinfected the comb, and we finished the cheroots and went to Westmore’s and found his parents had gone out. I learned that Peter Evans was for a great ISS drive next term in hope of re-starting the Soc.Soc. on an ISS basis. This is as I expected, but I’m having none of it. I can’t fathom the quaint recesses of Westmores’s mind; but I would love to know what is amusing him so much. He seems anxious to placate me too, and offers his absurdities with apologetic preambles, as if afraid to send his children out without their woollens. Later I left with Edge whom I may see in Cambridge next week.
In the two Birkenhead papers there was a very pointed satirical “report” of Sunday’s demonstration. I deduced from internal evidence that an independent writer had sent one report to both, and the reports had been edited differently. The satire showed greater virulence than usual and it appeared that the writer possessed inside information. In the evening when I saw Moore I asked if he thought Coffey had written it. Joe Rawlings had said the same thing. Moore showed me a letter Coffey had sent in reply to his of a few days ago. It was insulting to the point of absurdity; it simply jeered at Moore. I advised him to ignore it, though Oates had reasoned that ignoring him would make Coffey wilder. Moore had unwisely suggested to Coffey’s sister that her brother had written it. This meant nothing he could do now could mend things. I argued that Coffey was neurasthenic. When his sister was dismissed from a grocer’s shop in West Kirby, he wrote letters that got him sued for libel and called to pay damages of £250, of which not a penny was paid. His sister is a sore spot. He was capable of doing us a lot of damage. It was better to look small than be damaged. This I said because Moore has an inferiority complex and was boasting that he could wither Coffey up with sarcasm. He wanted to hit back but was eventually ruled by me. Some day he would see Miss Coffey gone too, I told him. When I said it was useless to reply to Coffey because he was like a nagging women to whom everything you said was one more weapon to her hand, he looked amused and chuckled “Hm! So you’ve had some experience of women!” Now he is separated from his wife and I had this in mind.
Earlier in the evening I had been to see Miss Clarke, of Convocation fame. She has a vague idea of penetrating Convocation and securing a socialist majority on University Court. Convocation has no power, but a right to a hearing. This is social-democracy, I said. She said she thought Moore had an inferiority complex, and that she couldn’t make him out, because he never looked at you when he spoke to you, and that his false modesty reminded her of a man carrying a placard bearing in large letters the legend, “Lo! I AM RETICENT.” Then Miss Dora Neill and McRabbit Booth barged in and I was treated to a “not too intellectual conversation”. Miss Clarke read botany under McLean Thompson. She asked what book or author she should read in order to learn about Marx. “Why not read Marx?” I replied. “Never read books about people. Read the original.”
“But I’ve been told that if you want to learn about Marxism the one thing you mustn’t read is Marx.”
“That’s rubbish,” I said
“But Marx is long-winded, I believe.”
“Then read Lenin.”
I have always ridiculed popular expositions, and though I proposed strong meat, the alternative is to let her plunge into GDH Cole and Middleton Murry.
This was probably the demonstration described by the local paper as “the thin red line”. There was a reference to plans by the CP to subvert the capitalist system by methods more insidious than propaganda or words to that effect. See 28/4.
April 18 Thursday: I showed Moore the report in the The News, and decided that Coffey had not written it. I asked Jackson to try to find out the author from his sister. I went to Wallasey to see Gilbertson, then through the tunnel to buy The Intelligentsia of Great Britain (Mirsky) at Ward and Yates. I took it home and read it completely. It is stimulating but insufficiently scientific, distinctly literary criticism rather than sociology. However it is worth the money. From the library I borrowed the works of Machiavelli – to my surprise I learned he was the original “Old Nick”. I saw Moore again for a short time later on.
April 19 Friday: In the morning I went to Wallasey to see Gilbertson and with him proceeded to Alverson’s to talk about Pendlebury. During the early days he was made such a fuss of that he developed a “swelled head” and now refuses all discipline. We agreed that it is time to be firm, before it is too late. Moore has a very low opinion of Alverson, and says he is an anarchist because he complains of “dictatorship by the LPC”. He thinks all important decisions should be taken by the aggregate. He is resentful of the rough and peremptory manners of people who feel too keenly the responsibilities and dignities of their position. For all Moore’s contemptuous dismisssal I find him a very kindly old man, with immense mutton chop whiskers like a swallow’s wings, and a rather idealistic view of political work. We all agreed that Moore is splendid – but still a schoolmaster. The best thing to do with Pendlebury would be to start the YCL again and put it to him to abide by decisions or get out.
The rest of the day I did little but read. I have decided to go away tomorrow. We listened to Bach’s St Matthew Passion in the evening, a very fine performance. Finally I went to see Moore, who said it was essential to expel Morris from the party, because he was coining fake money hand over fist, and Greenwood and other past members of the party were in jail for this offence at this very time. Moore said we could claim a virtual monopoly of convictions for counterfeiting during the last ten years.
I spelled the name Alverson, but was it Olversen? He was Swedish and I put him in a poem. This Morris was a moulder who, being unemployed, presumably plied his trade privately. The CP actually sent him up in a municipal election in 1934 I think and he got 44 votes, running no campaign and being “on the loose” all the time. Where did he get the money for it?
April 20 Saturday: I set out in the morning and cycled to Worcester. At Rowton Moor I had a puncture and had it mended by a cheery old soul who had a small cycle shop and a couple of petrol bowsers.
“Not too good. I’ve sold nothing this morning.”
“That’s bad. Is it the cold weather?”
“Yes. But it’s hard for the small man now. Have you seen the new cars? Built right down to the ground, streamlined. You know why it is? It’s so that you can’t get under ’em without you’ve a large garage with a hydraulic jack. These cars have special screws and nuts, and only their own garages can open ’em.” So the combines are out to take repairing out of the hands of small traders.
After Whitchurch it poured with rain, thundered at Wellington and between Bridgenorth and Kidderminster fell in torrents I have rarely seen. I cycled a few miles alongside a boy of sixteen who worked in a carpet factory for 27/6d a week, twelve hours a day. He was dressed in the usual dark coat, grey flannels and open necked shirt, but sported a pair of curious long foppishly pointed shoes which bore an unexpected relation with his chin, which was curtailed but narrowly pointed, as if he had been tapered at both ends. The odd thing was his complete defeatism. I asked him if he produced 27/6d worth of carpet in a week. He replied that he produced 45 yards a day and quickly worked out what that was sold for. He was tremendously well-informed about the working of local factories; and knew why the local carpet-makers were not strong trade unionists. There was something unpleasantly sombre in this youth that had lost all its eagerness and verve so prematurely. He told me he was depressed because at the end of the week he was so tired that he couldn’t find the energy to go out on his bicycle.
At Worcester there was a schoolmistress whose snobbish pastime it was to roam the world in imagination. “Have you been to X?” On receiving the reply “No” she would declare, “Ah! That is a marvellous place.” But if the answer was “Yes” the place held no further interest for her. The others were an insurance agent and a motor-works inspector from Coventry. The insurance agent was sandy-haired and pimply. He smoked and preened himself like an immature girl, but was one of the most morbid creatures one could imagine. He could talk about nothing but death, burials, cremations, giving as many gruesome details as he could, and concluded that he was about 20 and knew he would not survive his twenty-sixth year. His companion was of the rough and ready “we all do what pays us” type and perhaps complementary to the other.
April 21 Sunday: The wind was South by East and I found it very difficult to make progress. I lunched at Cirencester and fell in with a widower who said he had made his bicycle “his second wife” but he said enough to indicate that it might be taking him to a third. Then I travelled with an engineer who thought I was still at school, though no more than 25 himself. He said that when it was announced that the forthcoming “jubilee” would be a demonstration of every oddity and marvel this country could turn out, the central office of the GWR wrote to the department at Swindon and asked them to design a streamlined train, of as revolutionary an appearance as they could think of. This was done and they then had the monstrosity photographed and boosted in the press. It was said that it would inaugurate a new era of rail transport as it was capable of 90 mph. Now all trains are capable of 90 mph and drivers frequently boast of their illicit spurts at 110 mph. and what was more the miserable thing turned out to be one of the slowest on the railway.
I reached Newbury at 8 pm. and went to the station.
“Can you book me though to Portsmouth?”
“No trains tonight.”
“Not even Reading?”
“There’s a Reading train there. You can risk it.”
I did, and twenty minutes later booked a return from Reading to Portsmouth leaving my bicycle in storage there and pulling some flannels over my shorts. Whom should I meet but a lecturer from Southampton, a Dr Lawton, a highly cultivated modern languages man from Bangor and Paris, but nevertheless permeated with the “new Catholicism” current in the French “intelligentsia”. At Basingstoke a student called Whitehead got on and went as far as Winchester. He knew Westmore a little. I arrived at 26 Bristol Road to find Captain and Mrs Dunn there, but Mary Greaves [a paternal aunt – Ed.] indisposed with some form of muscular rheumatism.
Captain Dunn was a retired sea captain who had sailed out of Liverpool. There was also a Captain Brown, a friend of his and of the family, Mary Greaves being a friend of Henrietta (Hetty) Brown, later Mrs Threlfall, then still in Liverpool. The Dunns lived in Ilford, Essex.
April 22 Monday: I spent a good part of the day walking about in watery sunshine and trying to find roads sheltered from the chilly SE wind.
April 23 Tuesday: I went looking for John Gibbons in Fratton Road, but failing to find him took the 2.36 pm. to Reading and cycled to Twickenham. AHT[Hilda Taylor, Mrs Peachey, a maternal aunt – Ed. ] told me she was very friendly with Frau (or Fraulein) Worm, the exiled German anti-fascist who, with Dr Fabian, were recently hounded to suicide by their oppressors who pursued them into their refuge and were, what’s more, encouraged to do so by the British government which has no more use for anti-fascists than Hitler himself. This woman acted in AHT’s dramatic group. She lives in constant terror. Her flat was repeatedly burgled, her papers stolen. She was hoping to arrange marriage with an Englishman but it fell through.
April 24 Wednesday: I went to Euston in the morning and to King Street [CPGB Headquarters – Ed.], where I saw Gollan and somebody I thought I recognised as Mrs Pollitt. I saw Lagne at Lichfield Street, and tried the students. There was a long discussion there is no need to record here. I saw Cornford(Cantab.), Klugman (ditto), Worth (Balliol) and Dick Freeman (London) and many others. Than I returned to Twickenham. I had bought in Portsmouth Lady Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion, Rupert Brooke’s poems of 1914 and in Charing Cross Road Proust’s Les plaisirs et les jeux.
April 25 Thursday: I left Twickenham at 6 am. in very cold weather (5OoF) to cycle to Cambridge against a North wind. At Royston it began to rain, so I took the train. I reached Edge’s place at 3 pm. and we went for tea, and met Alan Morton by accident in Lyons. We then went to see Klugman to discuss Miss Tart’s nephew Curran. Later we called on Wk. and found he was college secretary of the democratic front. He had met Darlington earlier in the week. Darlington had been loudly supporting communism, and asked Wk. what kind of history he was reading. After being told Darlington dismissed it out of hand. “Pooh! All that’s no good! All rubbish! Go and see Greaves. He’s got a book on it. That’s the only kind that’s any good, he claims.”
After that I was shown the place I was to stay in, the house of a SPM called Collier [unclear what these initials in the original MS stand for – Ed.]. I immediately christened it the colliery. The bed I slept in had recently been occupied by a public schoolboy in hiding from the police. He had prevented two policemen from capturing a German refugee who was in danger of deportation, by knocking them out. He was given a month afterwards. The police dogged him everywhere until he took refuge in the colliery.
April 26 Friday: I had breakfast with Edge whose frequent decisions to get up early always come to nothing. He had lectures in the morning and while he was at it I went over to see Alan Morton. After that we talked till after lunch and then went to see Curran who is a sincere Socialist League type who received us very cordially. After tea we went to a student party aggregate addressed by Freeman who had come from London. Dick Freeman also stayed at the Colliery so that I was able to talk to him at night. Pendlebury, whom I dislike, was there. Edge and I went for coffee and had to run home miles and miles it seemed so that Edge could be in before midnight. Otherwise he would be locked out. The students labour under the pettiest restrictions. If they are out after 10 pm. they lose 2d, after 11 pm. 4d, and the fines go secretly on their college bill, while a crude top-hatted “proctor” stalks the streets with two clerically dressed boys in attendance. This person is entitled to fine them 6-8d if they are caught out after dark without cap and gown.
April 27 Saturday: I got up early, long before Dick Freeman and Collier, thanks to Hutchinson’s alarm which he had conveniently left behind. But as it rained I went for a cup of tea with Edge. His landlord had just broken a huge bottle of the paraffin used for the primus. He swore Edge would not be up till midday. It was “marvellous” how he slept. However he got up and the tea was made.
I cycled via St Neots to Northampton where the girl who served me in a cafe was an Oxford graduate who had been a teacher at a girls’ public school in Rugby. She hated it. She stayed in Wallasey from time to time with Stuart Deacon, the magistrate. Between Weedon and Coventry, near Daventry to be precise, I watched a wagon loaded with milk churns drive into a field, and, moving about, tip about 240 gallons of milk on to the land, so that there were puddles of milk wherever one looked. Finally I reached Birmingham and took the train for Liverpool, arriving at 11.3O pm. I met, of all people, Clarke (late of Birkenhead Institute) who is now a teacher in London and very hard-bitten – not invertedly idealistic enough to be called cynical.
Lester Hutchinson, later an MP. I think he had some connection with India. Clarke – I have no recollection of him, just as I cannot recall Wk. It probably stands for Walker.
April 28 Sunday: I did letters in the morning but called on Molly Marshall at Dibbinsdale in the afternoon. She had read the books. There was a very sarcastic article in the Birkenhead News about “counterfeit communists” who break down the capitalist system by subtle means, going to Bootle and Manchester in twos and threes. Now Moore had rung up to say that Morris had been arrested in Manchester for uttering counterfeit coins. The reason the demonstration failed was that Morris had been on the booze for a fortnight. He had eight children and he lends his wife to another man. It is well to be rid of him. Molly Marshall thinks Leo McGree a romantic figure. She says that on one occasion he was smuggled to Ormskirk on a cart covered with potato sacks. Ingram Knowles’s [her husband – Ed.] version was that it was a “muck cart”. The baby has not arrived yet. The first is hydrocephalic and in Molly’s opinion should have been killed. Keeping it costs them a fortune and they will have to sell their house to pay their debts. Later I went to see Moore, as Iver Mercer did not come. We talked about the expulsion of Morris, and later Pendlebury arrived. Coffey is determined to leave and it was decided to expel him, a meaningless formality when he went of his own free will.
April 29 Monday: I went to the university and had a long talk with Whelan. Westmore came to us and explained that Peter Evans had refused to re-establish the Soc.Soc. and make Westmore its secretary. Westmore had therefore come to the opinion that Evans’s socialist fervour could sometimes be cooled by expediency, and the disappointed careerist was warm in his denunciations of careerists more successful than himself. He has joined a “Junior Imperialist League” and actually bought three copies of For Soviet Britain to distribute there. I don’t think he understands the first thing about politics.
In the afternoon I and my fair companions discussed running an election against the official botany candidate Miss Shane. In the evening Oates ran a class on Imperialism, and we had news of a Fascist sortie down on the docks. There had been troubles before, but a climax came when a group of Fascists were ambushed outside the “Blue Bell” while others of their number went in and insulted the drinkers. These then drove them out, only to be fallen upon by the ambush, armed with heavy rubber truncheons. However the publican supplied the dockers with empty bottles and after a severe set to, the Fascists were beaten off and chased away. A docker present at the class said the antagonism of the dockers to the CP is rapidly vanishing, and the Fascist provocation is helping to dispel Labour Party illusions. Moreover the recent strike in which Mr McVey behaved so badly is putting the Labour Party into bad repute.
I remember how in 1931, Richardson and I went to a Labour Party meeting, McVey apologised for MacDonald and Snowden [who had joined the National Government – Ed.]
April 30 Tuesday: I saw Riddell for a while. The new union is a comparatively palatial place, full of halls and lounges and coffee rooms where you pay prices in accordance with their degree of selectness. There was a botany excursion to Hale. I arrived back so tired and muddy that I had half a mind to miss the LBS. But I was glad I went. Dovaston was there together with Atherton the effeminate. They have made up the quarrel they had a year ago. I didn’t ask what it was about. I made a very eloquent speech. After the meeting I asked Dovaston if he was coming up to do Botany next year, and as he was I suggested a coffee. He is extremely intelligent and has read Freud, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Flaubert and all manner of other things. When I criticised Freud he defended him.
May 1 Wednesday: I met “rabbit” Booth who said “Ivor Jones is looking for you.” However I could not find him, nor Scholfield or Whittenbury. I decided that Riddell is not to have lunch in my company any longer. We must lunch with the unconverted. Furthermore I am now going to insist on efficiency in the party, and bring in the younger members for when Riddell and I have gone down. We are shedding the tradition of incompetent Riddells. In the evening I read some Schleiden [the subject of his honours thesis – Ed.]. I borrowed the complete plays of Yeats, Nordau’s Degeneration and English literature in its foreign relations by Magnus.
May 2 Thursday: In the morning I saw Whittenbury who promised to hunt up Scholfield and bring him at 5 pm. At lunch time I saw Whelan. Westmore had just taken an unusual liberty with his letters, removing them from the rack and bringing them to him later. Riddell lunched with Peter Evans, and I observed Clutton eyeing Whelan. Evans is not very well disposed toward me at the moment and I think Westmore has been talking. Perhaps he has convinced him that if he re-starts the Soc.Soc. – even with Westmore as secretary – we will control it. Whelan now calls himself a “sympathiser” of the party. I sold him a ticket for Saklatvala’s meeting.
At 5 pm. in trooped Whittenbury and Scholfield who has changed his address. When I went into the school of architecture asking for Scholfield I gave my name to a rather bohemian-looking young man. He grew very affable and said Scholfield had mentioned me. He turns out to be a Mr Tickell who helped with the LNU ballot. Scholfield sold him a ticket for the Saklatvala meeting and lent him Strachey’s book [John Strachey’s The Coming Struggle for Power, 1932 – Ed.]. Scholfield bore the melancholy news that Brian White and his friend have both left the party, and seem utterly destroyed and degenerated. As for Scholfield himself, I have no illusions. He is very neurotic. But so much for politics. The trouble is that I can’t persuade myself to do academic work, not even my thesis which was due on May 1st.
May 3 Friday: I saw Whelan for a short time before he went to the music recital. I went in myself later. He sat with Ivor Jones and I was glad they are getting friendly. They might by inter-action bring each other into the party. Jones has a certain puritanical idealism; Whelan an intellectually honest materialism. I feel there is some mystery in Jones, some factor in his background of which I am not aware. I think Whelan will join first.
In the evening the SCR committee met. Hilda Jaffe has defected and left her sister Leila in charge. Stephenson [spelled “Stevenson” earlier in the original – Ed.] is very shaky these days. He told me about a militant architects’ association that was founded two months ago. He says that students should not have any contact with him as they may be party members this year and rabid reactionaries next. Also he has a lot of work, says he is tired of intellectuals; and does not think student work is of much use. Of course much of this can be put down to the effect of Riddell’s brother who has gone to London, I trust to stay.
May 4 Saturday: In the morning we held a group meeting at Scholfield’s palatial new flat in Princes Road. He pays 30/- a week for it. I gave a talk and tried to correct some of the illusions of Riddell and Scholfield, some of the most pernicious being those Scholfield had derived from Brian White. I went to Dibbinsdale but there was nobody in. I saw Moore later. Coffey has declared his intention of denouncing the CP in the newspapers. He says, “If the party thinks it is going to drop me without a word it is mistaken.” He wrote to Harry Pollitt [CPGB General Secretary – Ed.) denouncing Joe Rawlings, and Pollitt replied “Stay in and improve it.”
And then I decided to go and see what IH Jones’s environment was like. After a great deal of wandering I found his place in Club Moor. He was out for a walk with his father when I arrived, having decided not to go to a dance because it was hot. His mother invited me in and made tea. His brother Arthur, about 16, is a brilliant mathematics “show boy” at Alsopp School, first year post matric. He was reading Hecker’s Communist’s Answer. When Mr Jones came in he reminded me of Coward. He used to be in the movement; somebody brought him Inprecor [the Comintern journal, International Press Correspondence – Ed.] until quite recently when it unaccountably stopped. They all have religion and go to Sidney Spencer’s Unitarian church. The father is more militant than IvorJones, in words at least. The son feels that the “history and tradition of Wales” is more than sordid economics. At the same time he says a professor has offered him a scholarship of £38 a year if he will give up geography honours and switch to economics, because, says the professor, Ivor is easily the best man of his year. Jones said he was a believer in the individual and disliked “the masses”. But the father said there was nothing stunted or massified in the communists he had known. The mother is more petite-bourgeoise and has headmaster and teacher relations and wants a good career for Ivor. She is in fact the only grown-up person there. All the others are oriented to ideas. The father reads Hecker and talks theoretical communism. Ivor worships at ill-defined artistic shrines; Arthur who doesn’t pose is a joyous accepting type, but a boy; the small daughter is well ingratiated into the affection of pére Jones. These four the mother invigilates over, no doubt with a secret resolve that dangerous theory will not become dangerous practice, like an old hen watching her chickens. Her perspective is narrower but more real; the kitchen and the cash-box have given her an apprehension of the power behind the throne of happiness. She says little, but governs.
I can only remember one issue raised by Scholfield. He said that Brian White “rejected” the Labour theory of value, as if “rejecting” it rendered it nugatory. Riddell, I think, said that was no matter. It was in no way essential to Marxist theory. I held that it was an essential, indeed the essential, basis of any theory of capitalism. Thanks to Riddell’s centrism I failed to convince Scholfield. Later he passed the same thing on to Tickell who made it part of a split he tried to organise after he was in the CP. Tickell could not get into his head the distinction of value and price.
May 5 Sunday: In the afternoon I saw Moore for a moment. Coffey has been legally “expelled”. I went to see Fitzgerald about Jones pére. There is no system or method in the Liverpool party, and what is more they seem to have no idea that anything is wrong. George Evans told me that Iver Mercer was thinking of not coming to see me on Sundays in the future. But he came today while I was out. I left him a note and saw the three huge Union Jacks hanging from the windows [for the Silver Jubilee of the accession of King George V – Ed.]. Later Lunn called.
May 6 Monday: I set off at 9 am. with Lunn and took a train – a very slow train too – to Llanfairfechan whence we walked to Aber, then to the waterfall, up Ydrongyl and Yr Aryg to Foel Frach, and so along the main ridge to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn. Here we had an excellent view of Foel Fras, Yr Elen, Pen Llithryg y wrach, Moel Siahod, Moel y Wyddfa, Glydir Fawr and Tryfan. After we had looked for some snow to quench our thirst, and found none, what we had imagined to be snow being white quartz, and not being completely certain that the mountain we had climbed was indeed Carnedd Llewelyn, as the next one west looked a shade higher, we crossed the saddle and seeing Glydir Fawr and Glydir Fach concluded that we had climbed Carnedd Dafydd as well. We descended as quickly as we could to Bethesda, but missed the bus by four minutes. I rang up the railway station and found there was no Chester train, but that it was possible to get to Rhyl. We had tea at Bethesda, took a bus into Bangor and reached Rhyl at 12.10 am. We had great difficulty in finding lodgings, but eventually found a bed in a coffee house for 2/- without breakfast.
May 7 Tuesday: We retired at 1 am. and slept till 6 am. and caught the 6.20 am., which stopped at every station to Chester. I showed Lunn the party’s Manchester publication against the jubilee. He said, “You know there are one or two quite sensible things in this. I think this jubilee’s a lot of bunk.” Indeed he had suggested firing any beacons we found on the Carneddau. We found none. Now Lunn’s family had been up all night, wondering what had happened to him. I was very tired but went to the university and met Ivor Jones to whom I had lent Hodge’s copy of Spender’s Vienna. He was anxious to avoid a group of students. “I hate people,” he said. Incidentally he was at Wrexham yesterday, visiting his ancestral abode and an uncle who is manager of Gresford pit.
But wonders will never cease. Westmore entered a competition to see who could run fastest and covered three miles and won a silver cup, which he talks about endlessly. He is fully reinstated in family favour. However I got away from the foolish blathering creature. Peter Evans’s latest scheme is to get a £200 travelling scholarship and go to Paris, Rome, Berlin, Geneva and Moscow. If he only would! There was such a stupid letter sent to me from London that I can’t help thinking Riddell 2 must be doing secretarial work for the student party. I also had a package from Edge who must needs address Smith as Jones and have it opened in undesirable quarters [ie. by the police special branch – Ed.]. There are surely some incompetents about!
May 8 Wednesday: I saw Ivor Jones and, alas, the re-inflated boastful bumptious Westmore. His balloon is now bobbed by a merry breeze, responds to halcyon puffs and emits corresponding pipings. He now describes himself as a “pure careerist”. He has joined a junior imperialist league and calls himself a communist in it. I told him if he dares to call himself a communist in my hearing I would explain what he was.
“Well. I’ll tell you then,” he replied, hitting back blindly, “You are the only person that keeps me out of the CP.” I was quick to seize the opportunity. “The party has its watchdogs,” I retorted.
“Don’t you think I’m a person of some importance?”
“No. I am not of the opinion that you are very important.”
So then he began attacks and denigrates me before Whelan, saying I was nothing but a careerist “like anyone else”. But Whelan was not disposed to listen to him. It seems that he had gone to Bedd Gelert on Monday and while cycling home along the A5 had fallen in with J. Roose Williams’s brother who told him he knew me, and also told him of the misfortunes that had happened to Roose Williams as a result of his political beliefs.
Later I saw Moore and Riddell. I sold Curran a ticket for the Saklatvala meeting on Sunday. He has been in hospital twice in the past five weeks. First a drunken driver ran him down from behind on the A51. Then a car at Thurstaton struck him again when he was hardly better. But who should come into Moore’s when I was there but Batcheldore bringing some legal paper. He nearly fell down when he saw me. He had only guessed Moore’s opinions.
May 9 Thursday: I had a long talk with Whelan in the morning, then lunched with Ivor Jones. He is going to London tomorrow with some kind of swimmery. He has been reading Jung and is full of it – personal, impersonal and other kinds of unconscious, all crass idealism. His attitude to sex is extraordinary. We went into the mixed lounge, as there was too much noise and too little room in the men’s. There were three couples opposite. He grew most indignant at the lip-sticked faces and painted nails of the ladies, and made audible remarks, so that if I had cared two hoots I would have felt quite ashamed of him, as one would of a naughty child who betrays his parents’ hypocrisies or knocks his dinner off the table. The couples were not even sitting close, but when there was perfectly natural adjustment of posture he exclaimed, “I wish they would not make this place so obviously into a brothel.” I was astonished. The couples were not even being sentimental.
Later I saw Riddell at Scholfield’s flat. If ever a human being deserved a diploma in ineffectiveness Scholfield is that person. He sleeps most of the day and has not even sold Tickell the ticket for the Saklatvala meeting, which I gave him last week. On top of that he is suddenly going away so as “to make a break and start all over again when I come back”. He has done no work this term. We were drinking tea. “What kind of tea is this?” I asked. “Ah! it came from home,” he replied vaguely, “I don’t know. I suppose it’s a sort of mixture.” This takes the prize for giving information. He couldn’t help laughing himself when he realised what he had said.
There is a grand debate on Tuesday in which Peter Evans, typically, has announced himself and Hamling as main speakers, without consulting anybody. I proposed to Ivor Jones to have a little meeting on Monday to discuss what line to take. The debate is on the prohibition of the export of arms. I bought Lenin’s Left-wing Communism and a History of the British Labour movement.
May 10 Friday: In the morning I sold Holden (the young liberal in Botany) Soviet Britain and The Jubilee. He is coming on. He is alarmed at the prospect of conscription and the air drill foreshadowed in the papers. The patriotic fervour whipped up by the jubilee makes me afraid the forces of reaction will not risk letting it die down, but intend to push right on for war. War is imminent, I am afraid, unless the Russians can do something.
I had coffee with Bentley for the first time. He is fairly restricted in intelligence and interests, not a patch on his friend Jump. I bought The Frustration of Science, Crowther, Bernal and others. Riddell brought me Joan Beauchamp’s book British Imperialism in India and TH Harrison’s attack on Oxford. I showed them to Bentley and Whelan.
I may say I am dissatisfied. I can’t write poetry. I can’t work. I can’t think and can only blame whatever is giving me a belly-ache half the time. I want to do thousands of things but can’t persuade myself to begin, because of this exam which prevents me from having time to finish them. In the evening I listened to Bach’s Mass in B minor, a thing I never miss if I can help it.
May 11 Saturday: We held the group meeting in the morning. Whittenbury attended for the first time. I saw Tickell on the boat. He lives in Heswall, travels on the famous 9 o’clock boat and is a pacifist. I walked up to Lewis’s with him. He is very much annoyed at the government’s new compulsory gas drill scheme, and swears that he would sooner go to jail than participate. He says a Sinn Feiner once told him the way to stop war was the way they did it in Ireland, in a word revolution. But, says Tickell, that would involve bloodshed which he is not prepared to support.
I heard from Riddell that his brother, becoming amorously inclined towards Miss Frenkel, invited her to London but, typically, allowed her relatives in Liverpool to learn his own political opinions, so that they booted her out neck and crop and she can’t finish her course. Now he wants his people to keep her for six weeks while she takes her exam, and he adds for good measure that he intends to marry her.
Later I called to Iver Mercer. He will not come to Saklatvala’s meeting.
May 12 Sunday: I went to Saklatvala’s meeting and sat next to Whelan. He was greatly impressed, I could see, at the way Reginald Bishop took the collection. But when Saklatvala answered strictures on Soviet policies with “have faith.” Whelan remained sceptical.
May 13 Monday: In the morning I saw Whelan. In the evening I conducted a workers’ discussion class. I find I can explain things better than Moore and Oates.
May 14 Tuesday: I lent Whelan State and Revolution. Halliday expressed disgust at Government proposals to compel us to submit to gas mask drill, but I doubt he will follow Tickell’s example. He is vacillating and ineffective. Later Ivor Jones came on the scene. His fastidiousness is only skin deep. Indeed when I met him at 3 pm. he made a remark distinctly at odds with his professions of “mental purity”. The debate was held in the Gilmour Hall. Peter Evans and Hamling were opposed by two Americans. Of our people there were Whittenbury, Tickell, Ivor Jones and Riddell. We all sat together. Scattered round the hall were Whelan, Bethune, Gasking and others. The standard of speaking was not high. I claim to have made the best speech. I can hold the attention of the house, make jabs at boobies, and secure applause when desired. Tickell spoke, also Bentley, the latter on the wrong side. It was a matter of prohibiting some exports. Ivor Jones got up and forgot what he was going to say and had to sit down again. I offered him a cigarette. He doesn’t smoke but he accepted it. I knew how miserable he must be feeling. He was too nervous.
After it was over Riddell, Whittenbury, Ivor Jones and I had coffee. Jones attacked the notion of a communist society. We had a lengthy private debate in which he did plenty of talking but was well trounced.
May 15 Wednesday: I saw Tickell in the morning, and found he had been at Wallasey Grammar School. In the library I saw Prescott, and walked part of the way home with him. He has moved to the left, is strongly anti-fascist, and has improved in personality. I am afraid however he is born to be a secret dissenter, a scared black-coat. We met Iver Mercer. A letter from George Evans told me that he was resigning from the YCL as communism though “theoretically sound” was “impossible in practice”. I took the letter to Moore. I had replied diplomatically, in no way asking him to change his mind. I suspect parental influence.
May 16 Thursday: In the lunch hour Ivor Jones came and sat with us. He is uncertain of himself, still in the toils of Sidney Spencer who doesn’t believe in Jesus, but thinks that there is “something that is the essence of the something” – what Scholfield calls oojah religion. He has been reading Jung, a psychiatrist with a taste for this same “something”. In the evening I had tea with Peter Evans and an SCR man from London, Grovebrook. I put Evans in the shade. Grovebrook was at Oxford. Evans can’t “talk highbrow” or do the Oxford giggle. But he asked me to review Mirsky’s book for Sphinx. I learned incidentally that the Guild President is expected to have a reference from the Vice-Chancellor each year, and if he can’t produce it will have a reduced chance of employment. The authorities control the man at the top of the students. Later I showed Grovebrook round Liverpool.
May 17 Friday: Today I saw Andrew Adams who said Bernard Robinson had been at Tuesday’s debate and had told him that my speech was the best by a long way, and the only one with anything in it. I saw Tickell on the boat. He is approximately ILP. Somebody had said he was Middleton-Murry-ish, but heaven forbid. I can’t think of any variety of what Riddell 2 calls “piss-house socialism” that I like less. I saw Moore and Carr.
Again in the afternoon Ivor Jones came to us. Last time when he had applauded Verlaine, I recommended Baudelaire. He had read some of it and denounced the poet as a pornographer and a bawd. Whelan and I tried to undeceive him. But he is blown round like an intellectual cyclone.
May 18 Saturday: Scholfield was rather more cloudy than usual. It seems moreover that last Sunday he wanted to see some mountains and bought a ticket to Llandudno. He jumped into a train at Woodside only to discover it was taking a party of children non-stop to Euston. He therefore went to Oxford and saw Brian White who is hopeless.
I saw Moore at midday. No record of the present would be complete without allusion to the weather. Always delirious it has gone into bedlam. The past fortnight has been cold and bright with northerly winds. Yesterday there was rain which turned to sleet, then to snow. This is the coldest spell of the year.
May 19 Sunday: I finished Rothstein’s book by afternoon. It provided me with a historical perspective I lacked before. All the same it is strange that though I can understand anything, give a lecture on anything almost extempore, clearly and expertly, I find it hard to set things down in writing. I am finding it very difficult to do the review of Mirsky’s book from memory, although I quite easily remember what is in it.
In the evening Iver Mercer came. He wants Palme Dutt’s book on Fascism, and one for Guthrie. He and Guthrie are “communists” now. But Guthrie’s family are very backward, and make him go to Mass. Mercer says George Evans continues his propaganda and that his family dictated his resignation. I spoke on the telephone to Riddell and his brother. As the latter is probably leaving the country he said goodbye. I think in 1936 the political developments in Oxford and Cambridge will be repeated in Liverpool. A mass party in a year!
May 20 Monday: In the evening Scholfield, Tickell, Whittenbury and I had tea at Scholfield’s and afterwards went to a meeting at Beechcroft, where a man called Grant gave a talk about Austria. Paul and I asked suitable questions, and Tickell who had declared himself pacifist learned of the failure of the pacifism of the social-democrats, after he had asked his question. He was visibly impressed. Casson was there and I walked home with him and Miss Tart.
May 21 Tuesday: I saw Miss Carr and Miss Felton in the evening, also the schoolmaster Beaks. Miss Felton agreed to look after the SCR. I saw Whelan and later Miss Tart.
These were all CP teachers, or at least EWL[Educational Workers League – Ed.], and young.
May 22 Wednesday: I saw Ivor Jones in the morning. During the course of discussion whenever Riddell is present he has taken to appealing to him for support, and the stupid fellow is flattered by it, though it is a matter of balance of power. Riddell will however soon be away from the scene of action. I have tried to prevent him barging in, but he thinks he is helping my chances of success since they are backed only by good sense and competence.
I saw Moore later and then visited Molly Marshall, and inspected the small female child sleeping in the cot. I took Iver Mercer two copies of Dutt’s book. My mother is not too well. It is a cold.
May 23 Thursday: In the lunch hour Riddell and I lunched with Ivor Jones. He is contentious but has a sneaking admiration for us.
May 24 Friday: I met Maryla Frenkel in Coppers Hall. She says that she had hardly known Riddell 2 a week when she was summoned to Dale Street police station to answer questions regarding him and herself. Riddell has come to the belated conclusion that “you can’t be too bloody careful.” If he had thought of that six months ago, and his brother the same, she would not be in a bad way now. Her relatives have agreed to take her back and Riddell 2 swears he was not the cause of her expulsion. Indeed matters were precipitated by her own silly gossip to an aunt in Wavertree. I went a walk with Jackson. Jump has been to Cambridge and by an odd coincidence stayed at 2 Botolph Lane.
Friday 25 May: [date deleted in the original– Ed.] I had a long talk with Whelan in the morning He is an enthusiastic listener to music and his principal enthusiasm is Beethoven, but he likes Bach also. I told him I thought Mozart was underestimated and was far more than the charming melodist some people think him. Whelan is more mature than Ivor Jones. I went to Edge Lane, then to Club Moor to the relatives of Tom Manor, the Stanleys. I heard how a once strong group had been let go to ruin by the incompetent LPC [Local Party Committee – Ed.] and YCLDC [Young Communist League District Committee – Ed.], particularly Bisson. I saw this gentleman later at the Haymarket, also Jones the new organiser who seems better.
Later I saw Molly Marshall who said the architect Rathbone-Smith had sent her the present of a frock for the baby. He is a bit cranky, wants to be a woman, and she showed me a photograph of him in woman’s clothes. He knows Suckling and “looks as if Suckling had popped in the night.” I saw Moore who told me that the dockers were rapidly coming under communist leadership.
Norman Suckling, a friend of Alan Hodge, and a composer. Rathbone -Smith is referred to above as a friend of Meyrick. When I met Suckling at Hodge’s I mentioned CEG’s having listened attentively to a choral work by Schonberg. Suckling shuddered, “Oh dear me, not that! Definitely post-Wagnerian!” [Error of date in the original]
May 25 Saturday: In the morning we held our group meeting at Scholfield’s. I sought Pendlebury in Wallasey but missed him. I came back and went to the Library returning Rothstein’s book and De Loti a Proust and borrowing TS Eliot’s Use of poetry and poetic criticism, or some such title. I read a little book sent me from Moscow, A.Iilyn-Genevsky’s From February to October.
When I first joined the CP I seem to have come across all the most sectarian and dogmatic literature available. Then I would have been infuriated by Emile Burns’s “Nothing like Art for Art’s sake can be tolerated during the transition.” Of course there has never been anything exactly corresponding to that mere slogan. And if it is intended literally it is questionable whether it could be “tolerated” even after the transition. But as far as the artist works from artistic motives the question is dialectical. There is no book without some attempt at an “artistic” element. There is decoration on Soviet steam engines – for its own sake? I think writers, labouring under Tolstoy’s absurd delusions about the emotional essence of art, do not understand the matter dialectically. They counterpose proletarian art to art for art’s sake, instead of against early bourgeois art. They miss the fact that art has no single unalterable function in society, that no art is ever “pure”, and the “purer” the less interesting. Also art is not propaganda as some people think, though propaganda may be art. But I’ve no time to work this out.
Late at night I caught Pendlebury in and obtained the Inprecors I wanted. He has left school finally. I saw Moore who is rather lonely now that Clive Moore is away. Not that he misses much!
May 26 Sunday: In the evening Iver Mercer called and I noticed a change had taken place. He had come to the opinion that the only policy was that of the CP. He had read 100 pages of Dutts’ book and was thrilled with it. He has finished Imperialism. We went a walk to Barnston. He said that Guthrie is agnostic but not atheist. Guthrie had been influenced by a conversation in a chip-shop. They had been debating history when a good class of working man asked them if they ever thought of modern problems. They said they did and he asked, “What do you think of HItler?” They told him and he said, “Yes. This country’s ours and we’re going to get it.” Mercer told me that George Evans thinks that communism will never come in this country, but he continues to propagate it.
May 27 Monday: I saw Tickell on the boat, and heard from Whittenbury that Tickell had refused to do a scheme “design for a Royal Throne” (with majuscules). He regarded it as part of an intentional plan to foster jingoism in the students. One of them said to Whittenbury, “Don’t have anything to do with that communist fellow Tickell.”
Tickell’s Irish background might have come into play here. His mother was Catholic and his father a recent convert. I doubt whether he was reared a Catholic. For some reason ne temere must have been ignored [ie. the Catholic Church practice at the time whereby in inter-faith marriages sons would be reared in the father’s religion and daughters in the mother’s – Ed.].
May 28 Tuesday: In the morning I saw Whelan who returned The State and Revolution which greatly interested him. In the afternoon I went on a botany excursion to Burton with the students. On the way back I called on Mrs Paul to collect my Imperialism. She told me of how when the Anti-War movement was going in Liverpool last summer, she went to call on miserable Clarke who was the most incompetent secretary imaginable. “He lived up Scotland Road way,” she said, “and when I arrived what should I see but a tall, refined Bernard-Shaw-like figure who was almost the living image of my son Bernard. ‘Who’s this?’ I asked. And I heard that Clarke had been down at the Salvation Army hostel and this boy had asked him for the price of a bed. ‘I’ve not got it,’ said Clarke, who however had his points, ‘but I’ve a bed at home. You can come and sleep there.’ So he went with him and stayed a long time. It seems that he came from Canada and had taken a correspondence course in journalism – I don’t know whether he’d been taken in, or not, and anyway he’d come to Liverpool, got nothing, spent all his money and gone to the Salvation Army. So I arranged that he should use our address for his applications, knowing it would cut no ice to use that of Scotland Road. Well, do you know that boy spent six months in that miserable pig-stye, oblivious to everything, every day spent in the Picton, reading George Bernard Shaw and anything about communism that he could lay his hands on. His lousy conditions didn’t matter a bit. He read solidly all day long. He was about twenty, I would think, and came from a very good home.
“However, a tragic thing happened. He was getting 7/- a week PAC [Public Assistance Committee money – Ed.]. But that didn’t worry him, or wouldn’t if he’d kept it. But one of these busy-bodies on the council got to hear of it and asked questions. She was a Labour Councillor and not friendly to the Anti-War movement. So when the question arose she was determined to save the charge on the PAC and send him back home to Canada, which would have meant his father paying £35 for his fare and retroactive maintenance. So he said he would go away, disappear and cause nobody any trouble, and apparently he did, because I’ve never heard of him since. Now that’s just about a year ago, about June last year.”
Later I saw Moore. The Co-op has elected him on to the Trades Council.
I heard an amusing tale from PAG [Phyllis Greaves, his sister – Ed.]. It seems a grand function was held on a street that had been handsomely decorated for the jubilee by its lumpen-proletarian residents. Alderman Baker and another had given money toward the decorations. But Mrs Mercer had not, but went down just the same (Miss Tart said “She was a damn fool to go.”) So when he called for three cheers for Alderman Baker they were given throatily, but when three cheers for Mrs Mercer were called for there was dead silence.
May 29 Wednesday: I saw Whelan in the morning, also Ivor Jones. Riddell said he had discovered the identity of the lady of Jones’s yearning, a girl in Social Science, whom he had not been able yet to get an introduction to.
After lunch Peter Evans approached Riddell and in a low voice asked “Look here, Gordon, do you object to the Socialist Society becoming a branch of the Labour League of Youth?”
“What would it involve?” asked Riddell.
Before more could be said I intervened. “It is absolutely inadmissible.”
“It would not tie us down to Labour policy,” Evans urged. “It is well known that certain communists are members of the LLY [Labour League of Youth – Ed.].” He looked meaningfully at Riddell, who looked uncomfortable and asked, “What would be the advantages?”
“Well, old students and past members of the university would become members of the branch. Also members would gain access to outside political circles – I mean Labour circles – and doubtless to communist circles through the back door.”
“Oh! Ho! – What is the object of this sudden desire for unity? Do you want money?” I asked.
“The affiliation fee would be 5/-.”
“Look, here, Peter,” I said, “What’s the game? Is it canvassing for the coming General Election?”
“Well what guarantee have we that such a branch would not be in effect tied down to the Labour Party?”
“Are you in a position to demand guarantees? Have you any right to expect it?”
“I’ve no right,” I replied, “but I’m in a position.” And I went on: “Listen to me a minute. You be a realist now. You know very well that there are two factions in existence, revolutionaries and reformists. The membership is split in this way even if we compromise. I’ll charitably suppose the two factions numerically equal. Now, then, isn’t it a question of power? The formation of an LLY would mean the formation of two socialist societies, not one. I don’t object to a Labour League of Youth. I can’t stop you. But you can’t object to an FSS [Federation of Student Societies – Ed.] society. You can’t stop me. So we come to an agreement.”
“Well an LLY group inside a bigger Soc.Soc. would be acceptable.”
“Ah. That’s different. The two factions could agree on a wider front to do certain things. But I could only agree to such a front on specific university issues.”
“It’s hard to get them. I don’t see how that would work. What we want is unity first. I’ve always been in favour of a United Front, you know.” (Here Riddell rudely reminded him that he had sent out circulars against it, but I shut him up.)
“Yes, I know you have, Peter.” (I handed him a Players No.3) “We must obviously have a basis for unity. I suggest we hold a joint meeting of membership and let each side put forward proposals and form a united front on those proposals that coincide.”
“You’ll probably get no proposals.”
“I’ll guarantee ours.”
“Ah,” said the democrat, “but people like to have a Socialist Society made for them from above.”
“It’s no use making one on paper. Constitutions are useless if the members won’t work them.”
“Ah, well, I suppose that is all right.”
We had won. They had played their last card, and lost. Immediately afterwards I talked with Riddell and arranged that all our supporters are told what was decided. Now the war is won we need have no truck with the old gang.
I have prepared a letter for the paper against gas drill, which Whittenbury took to get architects to sign. Then I saw Moore who agreed that it would be criminal to allow Peter Evans to form his Labour League of Youth. Late at night I saw Pepper.
Peter Evans was not activated by political principles. He thought he might find a career through the LLY, and since he was probably going down he could still work in a university society. My proposal was therefore a “wrecking” proposal. We intended to control the Soc.Soc.and cooperate with other societies. But Riddell was not clear on this.
May 30 Thursday: In order to scare the reformists with a show of strength I asked Turner for a Guild Affiliation form for a new Society and he said Bayliss was the man to apply to. The result of affiliation, contingent on our membership being sufficient for it, would be publicity in the Guild handbook of which a copy goes to all students. After a while I saw Hunt and the union caucus in deep confabulation. There is an interesting situation.
I went a walk with Jackson at night, having seen Pepper in the afternoon. He agreed that what was wanted was an October Club ready to cooperate with all progressive elements. He would join it. He signed the gas-drill letter.
Wright and Turner were the two union stewards. I have not the slightest recollection of Pepper, though I have a vague recollection of the name.
May 31 Friday: I saw Ivor Jones in the Union in the morning. He was later to be found sitting in the lounge with Miss Ellsby, a fresher, who is going to introduce him to the fair lady in Social Science who has activated Jones from a distance. Miss Ellsby is a Christian, in the ethical sense, a member of the International Society and SCM and quite progressive. She was at Wallasey High School, and is a friend of Kenneth Hawes, now a Quaker. She is the equivalent of a Quaker herself. Now as I was talking to her Bentley passed. He always avoids me, indeed scarcely recognises, either from personal distaste, fear of being drawn into something, or (as Moore puts it) that like Lord Curzon, he is a “very superior perzon”. This time he lookedat us. Beatrice Ellsby is a very attractive young women, and he would doubtless liked to have joined us. He sat down near enough to hear our conversation and I could see he was listening. I got on very well with her and she was so interested that she said she was very sorry to have to leave for a lunch appointment. Bentley hesitated a moment, then in a sudden gush of affability came and touched me on the shoulder, asking if I still wanted him to take a book to Jackson.
Now Bayliss will probably be Guild President next year and he approached me in the presence of Ivor Jones about my “October Club”. “What kind of a society are you starting?” “An October Club.” “I should prefer you to resuscitate the socialist society.” “I am prepared to consider something less extreme.” “The old Socialist Society was not too extreme. I was a member of it.” “I mean less extreme than the October Club in Oxford.” “Oh – er -“, horror crowned his face. “You are not a communist, are you?” “I am.” (more horror). “A real one?” “Well”, I shrugged my shoulders, “What is a communist?” “Ah!”, he breathed a sigh of relief. “Ah, yes – theoretical.”
He was evidently worried to death about it all. The old fraudulent society was finished. There was nothing left to keep the students from socialism. The centre had collapsed and the right had to do business.
“I’ll discuss it with you later this term.”
“Well, next term will do.”
“No. I want the advertisement in Guild Handbook.” When must it be in? The end of this term?”
“Then in a fortnight’s time.”
So we have been invited to form a government but not “one that goes too far”. The president must appear as the champion of student liberties, but he still has to get his reference from the Vice-Chancellor when he goes down. I explained all this to Ivor Jones and he agreed that we must sacrifice the name. It would have a definite programme, no truck with the old gang, be wide enough for all genuine social-democrats, and its leadership would be communist. It would form united fronts with all progressive elements.
I saw Moore in the evening and briefly discussed the position. (I was invited to speak to the Central Co-op EC on “Psychology”). Moore agreed with my line of policy. Clive Moore had come home after thrilling experiences in Birmingham. I wrote part of my thesis.
Beatrice Ellsby had remarkable good looks, but she was lame. She (I think) married a don called Thompson, a dashing young Scot who I am sure was a watchdog for the authorities and had something to do with B’s victimization [unclear who “B” refers to – probably Bloor, who appears later in the journal – Ed.]. That is of course conjecture. Of course she would have nothing to do with it.
June 1 Saturday: At the group meeting in the morning I presented my policy. It is amazing how many difficulties and misunderstandings are present even in party members. Riddell is obsessed with the importance of the old gang. He can hardly believe that they now count for nothing, and that nothing can go wrong with our project, at least not until we face the problems of a new period.
I put it this way. “We had for years been a small oppressed denigrated section of the Socialist Society. But our activities caused the old gang Labourites first to manoeuvre, then to hand the flag to careerist Leftists like Peter Evans. He never held the power. That was held by Hamling. Peter Evans was a cloak, an ILP dummy in the window. Under my policy of last December which I persuaded Riddell was right and thereby replaced him as organizer when he returned, our reply to the deliberate collapse of the Society was to build up a new one of our own while things were in a flux and confront them with a force stronger than their own. The ILP caucus came more and more to dominate the ancient rump, as the right wing lost interest in preserving the society. But the right wing, though without hope of regaining control of a flourishing society, realised before Peter Evans did, that we are getting it. And finally Evans, cut off from the freshers, some of whom we had contacted before they left school, found we were too strong for him, played his last card and gave up. The Conservatives and Liberals were anxious to keep our new society as mild as possible. We could sacrifice the preferred name, but not one iota of our policy.
“Now it is conceivable,” I went on, “that the old gang might try to stage a come-back. So our policy must be widely known. Our constitution must be published in the Guild Handbook. We must undertake an extensive campaign of education. We can become the leaders of all progressive forces. And we must try. That is my policy.” They agreed with it.
We then discussed proposals for the reorganisation of the student party, paid organizer, consultation with provinces, connection with other middle-strata workers. We agreed with it. Scholfield agreed to write to all secondary schools inviting them to the Sheffield Peace Conference and Camp in July. I met Darlington who has conceived a violent passion for a girl in a tobacconist’s shop – aged 28. He is much better – probably as a result of it – and talks communism all the time. “D’you know, p’fessor”, he said, “I’m far more communist now than when I refused to join. I think I went over too quickly. I’m reading a book on Russia by JG Crowther, Science in Russia. All I can say is the sooner it comes the better. Then we’ll be safe. There’s no security here.” Darlington’s improvement has also affected RW.
Now Darlington told me how he met the disreputable Vigors, who years ago cheated Donald Magee out of a shilling, and who went to jail for selling fraudulently obtained silk stockings. When he was in jail he met somebody who had been in the army, and assured him that jail was preferable in every way. On the other hand it seems that the prisoners rise at 4 am. and retire at 6 pm., thus (says Darlington) using the minimum light. The hours affect whatever gland has to do with sleeping and waking, and after two years the convict finds himself unable to keep normal hours on his release. The whole regime is calculated to break the convict. Vigors said, “If you lose your nerve, you’re done for.” But it seems the rascal boasted that he now knows what to do and what not to do, and thinks he can cheat people twice as thoroughly, with half the chance of being caught. Darlington failed in his examinations.
I think Vigors (spelling uncertain) was at Birkenhead Institute, probably about Darlington’s age – one or two years younger than I.
June 2 Sunday: In the morning I saw Pepper who asked me to go to Halverson’s at 4 pm. where I would meet his “successor” Edwards. A heavy thunderstorm occurred at 3.30 pm., torrents, SE wind, darkness. The weather has been amazingly dry, but very cool for many weeks, sunny but with NE winds almost freezing you every night. However I reached the place. I found that Pepper had not told him whom he was to meet, nor apparently had he told Halverson that anybody was coming at all! I told him that if he would take Pepper’s place at the Oldenshaw I would put him in touch with other schools. He says he intends joining the CP but he is not apparently coming to the university and is working for a Civil Service examination.
June 3 Monday: I saw Tickell on the boat and persuaded him to attend the inaugural meeting of the grand new socialist society. Later I noticed Hamling sitting a long time talking to Beatrice Ellsby. I gave Bentley the book for Jackson, and he was affable as before. I wonder if Hamling is trying to rally the reformist forces. If so it would be better to compromise and share 60% in a large concern rather than 80% of a small. I made a special visit to Miss Ellsby, but it was clear that Hamling had not been up to anything. In the evening I saw Jackson and told him what was happening. It is necessary that everybody should know.
June 4 Tuesday: I saw Riddell in the morning. His brother has married Maryla Frenkel. He has been trying to get her a passport, but the country that was so reluctant to accept her now doesn’t want to lose her. Riddell is as good as engaged to Miss Stokes. I saw Ivor Jones and had coffee with him. He was waiting for Beatrice Ellsby to bring the true-love at a distance and introduce him. She came alone and said the other was coming at 3 pm. She writes poetry and has won prizes from the Sunday Referee. When I told her I was a poet she said she would not have supposed it under any circumstances whatsoever! Now when the object of Ivor Jones’s affections appeared she turned out to be the most miserable creature imaginable, with not a tenth of Beatrice Ellsby’s presence or personality. I was amazed at his folly, but then of course love is blind. If he had designs on Miss Ellsby herself I could understand it, but this one, No! She is simply an appendage of Beatrice Ellsby’s anyway. Beatrice Ellsby and I discreetly went away and left them.
June 5 Wednesday: I did nothing all day but type my thesis. Two days ago I had not so much as read the book I am basing it on. I spend some time discovering that it was possible to catalogue the contents on the first reading. I have passed the 9,000 word mark. In the evening I read some of the later sections of Schleiden’s book. I called on three people in the evening, Bloor, Jackson and Pepper, but they were all out. In the end I went to Moore’s to have a talk about the University group. Clive Moore was celebrating his 21st birthday and had had quite a run of bad luck, bicycle punctures and suchlike.
June 6 Thursday: I went on with the miserable thesis. In the evening I saw Piggott for a short time. I hear that Donald Magee is working hard lately, and this is probably why I met him on the boat, when he said he would like to go to Russia. I feel very dubious about my academic position. I have done less work for this examination than for any in the whole of my life.
June 7 Friday: I had an interview with Campagnac in the morning, when I seem to have impressed him favourably with a wrong impression. Not of course that one can talk. I saw Jackson who said that on his excursion with Piggott in the Lake District at Easter, Piggott adopted a very pessimistic attitude and was almost becoming a socialist and giving up the OTC [Officer Training Corps – Ed.]. There is no Fascism in Prenton now. Piggott, says Jackson, had Fascist sympathies two years ago but has lost them now, mainly through Pepper’s influence.
June 8 Saturday: I finished the thesis in the morning and gave it in. Miss Nettleton did the same so I am not superlatively behindhand. In the afternoon I cycled to Chester and Wrexham. I heard from a shopkeeper who sold me tea that the trade of Wexham was seriously affected by the closing down of the pit at Gresford. I went on to Holt and tried to find Iver Mercer. I found his van but it was empty. A man who had worked at Gresford for 19 years told me that wild horses would not drag him down a pit again; he was working on the land. Most people in the district are Labour. I saw Molly Marshall on the way back and also later Moore. I learned that George Wright had called.
June 9 Sunday: I read and played the piano intermittently all day, except for the evening when I saw George Wright at the abode of Marion Cholmondeley. He called at 10.30 pm. He wanted some copies of Hell of a business which I supplied. It seems that Price-Williams is now teaching at his school. I expect Wright will be in the party before long.
June 10 Monday: During the day I did some work for the exam, which begins tomorrow, and late in the evening I walked to Thornton Hough Fields with Jackson, where we saw Donald Magee with Colqhoun and a mass of boy scouts. Magee had damaged his foot and they were all helping to bathe it. We took a bus home. I had seen Jack Allison [his former geography teacher – Ed.] for a while in the day. He talked about the antique cross he discovered. He is thrilled to the marrow with it.
This cross now stands in Victoria Park, Tranmere.
June 11 Tuesday: I saw Tickell on the boat and he agreed to come to our inaugural meeting on Saturday. I wrote to Whelan yesterday. In the morning exam I did rather badly and shall find myself in queer street if I do not do better tomorrow. Since I did my thesis in a week and had no time to revise it, typing it impromptu, I expect it will not bring me great distinction. In the evening I walked with Piggott. He is dissatisfied but it would be a great journey for him to go to socialism even of the mildest character. Nevertheless he realises that Fascism won’t do. He has had a quiet existence but his repeated failures in BSc (this is his third attempt) have unnerved him.
June 12 Wednesday: I got up at 6 am., read genetics and then went to the university. I saw Batcheldore on the boat and told him, what he didn’t know, that Edge is coming back on Sunday. We fell to anatomising Westmore. And after the exam, in which I recouped a little, I saw Westmore, and lo! he is growing a moustache, a horrible sandy one too, worse than Alan Morton’s. Whelan was there and promised to come to the Socialist Society meeting.
I did some academic work in the afternoon and then went to see Pepper in Wallasey. Returning I saw Westmore cycling furiously into Wallasey, wearing his Joseph’s coat of many colours, a gaudy Southampton blazer which he is famous for and in which he imagines himself an irresistible lady-killer, oddly enough. I saw him again later on, and he told me how well he had done in the exam. and how badly had Whelan fared. He seemed to exult in Whelan’s misfortune. In Wallasey he attends a low boozing club, the “Nemo”, where he gets free drinks and women. He disapproves of Whelan’s feminine attachment which is of a platonic intellectual kind, calls it “highbrow” and “an unpalatable mixture”. Another piece of news came from a similar front. Edge has fallen out with Elizabeth. It seems the girl’s mother writes religious books and by mischance hearing of Edge’s infidel connections hastily demanded the breaking of the engagement. This came from Mrs Edge, via Mrs Guthrie and Mrs Westmore.
Later until about 12.15 am. I read ecology and physiology. But I can’t bring myself to take the thing seriously. It is politics and nothing else. I went to the Library and got Spender on Henry James, Yeats, etc. TS Eliot on poetry, Middleton Murry on Marxism.
June 13 Thursday: I arose at 6 am. and read physiology. The paper today was better. Yesterday the Professor cordially waved his pipe at me. Today, Matthias (of Aberystwyth) apart from Dr Knight whom we hardly ever see, the only human being in the department, spoke to me. He said that he had just marked my first paper and I had sacrificed later questions to one single one that had occupied too much of my time. He assured me that if I kept this standard up all would be well. Now he is out of favour with the Professor but very friendly with the external examiner. He is absolutely honest, frank and fair-dealing, and can be relied upon to do whatever he can to get a fair deal all round.
Now Halliday is busy bemoaning his sad fate. He claims to be in a bad way, but I can scarcely credit it at second attempt. I don’t know how he forgets the stuff. He works too hard and tires himself out, then he can’t reproduce even what he knows. I saw Whelan for a moment. I heard from him that Scholfield and Tickell were up all night together early in the week. Yesterday, by the way, I lunched with Tickell and Browning, who has got on the Guild Council. Browning is a socialist of sorts, and is 21 three years older than Tickell. He is a reader, too, and interested in Sphinx. He is free from the intellectual snobbishness of Bethune and Jump, though even those dare not show it to me. They recognise superior armaments. Incidentally I saw Bethune and he praised my Anachronists.
I received a letter from Edge today. He apologised for making a mess of my address three weeks ago, but added for consolation, that he had discovered three party members from Liverpool Institute at Cambridge. He is coming next Wednesday. A letter from Wittenbury invited me to Manchester. AEG and CEG [his parents – Ed.] are going to Langdale on Saturday. I played chess with Charles Moat in the evening winning a protracted game.
There was an occasion when Browning, borrowing Scholfield’s car, took myself, Stephen George, a friend of Frank Jones and like him an architect, to a student meeting in London. I can’t now recall who the fourth was. It must have been an FSS or ULF thing as Browning was not in the CP. The spelling should I think have been Whittenbury. He was a very junior lecturer and organized a peace group in Manchester University together with Ann Frankenburg, and this gave rise to the Socialist group. “The Anachronists” was a satirical short story I wrote against popular expositors of cosmology. It was published in Sphinx.
June 14 Friday: I saw Whelan for a moment in the morning and he again promised to be there tomorrow. Maryla Frenkel has joined the party. Miss Stokes is turning out good. We held a fraction meeting in the evening.
June 15 Saturday: I played the piano in the morning. There was a card from Ivor Jones asking where our meeting was to be held. He asked me to call for him which I did, cycling through the tunnel. We then rode to Scholfields. When we arrived we found Whittenbury and four girls. Then Riddell and Whelan arrived. We waited for Tickell but he did not come. He had probably forgotten, Scholfield having omitted to remind him. The ladies present were finally Maryla Frenkel, Miss Stokes, Ruby Berry, Miss Beatty, and the men were Guthrie, Ivor Jones, Riddell, Whelan, Scholfield and Whittenbury. Finally came Miss Disley, a miner’s daughter who told Maryla Frenkel that she had not joined the Soc.Soc. because it was “the socialism of a certain kind of louse”.
We agreed to have a committee including faculty representatives, and accordingly we elected Ivor Jones (Secretary, Geography), Whelan (Arts), Disley (Hall), Scholfield (Treasurer), Tickell (Architecture) and Dovaston (Science next year). Ruby Berry was the women’s representative and I became president. As for the constitution I suggested what Whittenbury described as a “chess move”, that the Soc.Soc. should affiliate to no political party. It was to be organized on a faculty-cum-central basis, it was to support the SM, PF,CP, [Socialist Movement, People’s Front, Communist Party – Ed.] the broad progressive front. It is a neo-FSS society. First we must aim for the best elements, then get a general membership, finally form a broad cultural front.
After it was over Maryla Frenkel who was a star turn because of her vivacious personality and Polish accent said to me “Oh Greave, you were marrvellous. I did not know that you were so weeetty! “ She was in high spirits and even Miss Stokes who doesn’t like me personally was pleased. Ivor Jones was social democratic, wanted mechanical voting instead of thrashing things out. Riddell is at last beginning to see that my policy works and how his brother’s left-wing stuff is no good. Maryla Frenkel says that Riddell 2 [her husband – Ed.] doesn’t understand the student mentality, but that he is doing very well in London and that they depart for the USSR in three weeks’ time.
In the evening I saw Clive Moore for a moment and heard that Tom Mann [trade union veteran and communist speaker – Ed.] is arriving there tonight. The Labour Council has refused to let us the covered market. I went to Ingram Knowles’s in Dibbinsdale. Owen arrived and drove me to Moore’s, where we all had a talk with Tom Mann who knew William Morris and Ruskin and remembers the Paris Commune. Molly wanted me to stay the night but as AEG and CEG are away I returned home in the small hours.
It is risky to modify this record after 50 years, but I don’t think Tom Mann said he knew Ruskin. He said that Ruskin’s was the liberating intellectual influence on his youth. But he could have known him. Ruskin survived till the year 1900 when Mann would be 44. He recalled the Paris Commune being on, but did not know what it was. I asked him had he noticed any progress in his long years, and he said in his young days a socialist pamphlet was a rarity. Now they were coming out all the time.
June 16 Sunday: In the morning I took Scholfield Mirsky’s book. I felt I had been a little contemptuous of him and his laziness yesterday and (since he is really genuine) I thought if I called and thanked him for making tea yesterday it would show he was valued and make him feel like reforming out of gratitude. Then I got some pamphlets from Anfield which I took to Moore’s, and incidentally blew Clive Moore up for his superciliousness. Moore didn’t seem to object.
It thundered all day – nothing new. It has thundered almost every day this month. I can’t remember so much thunder before. But today it was very severe, and Whelan arrived at 4 pm., a little wet although he had come through the tunnel and had sheltered. He is a much more solid person than Ivor Jones. I explained faculty work. At 7.30 pm. Iver Mercer came. He is reading State and Revolution. He was with Guthrie at the cinema when I called on him at Farndon. Whelan dislikes Ivor Jones’s egotism, how he is proud of his brother but says, “When I go to bed and go to see my brother he asks me for the Marxist analysis of religion,” which Whelan would not credit even in a “brilliant mathematician of 14”, or that Ivor Jones was able to supply it if asked, or the brother to understand it if he got it. Whelan is a great cyclist.
Whelan told us an interesting thing. Apparently he wanted to get into Campagnac’s scheme at the last moment without an interview. His headmaster asked him
l. “Are you interested in politics?” – “Yes, a little.”
2. “What kind?” – “No membership. Socialist if anything.”
3. “Oh! You want to reform this decadent system. How do you propose to do
Whelan said he didn’t know – from gène – and was consequently vague enough to pass muster. So it seems Campagnac will accept people at a moment’s notice provided he is satisfied on that one question. Whelan and Iver Mercer get on well together. I left them talking while I made supper, but was pleased at the good sense and maturity of Mercer’s remarks when I heard them. They stayed fairly late and went away together. And now I see the sky is brightening in the NNE. 3 am. I must stop.
Campagnac’s grants paid fees of students destined to be teachers.
June 17 Monday: In the morning I rested till 10 am. (with an interval at 7.30 when I woke Phyllis). I saw Whittenbury in the union. He is a quiet unassuming person with a good understanding of people. He had met Zaren who was at a cinema with Tickell on Saturday afternoon. “Oh”, said Whittenbury, “did he mention a meeting at Scholfield’s?” “Oh Yes”, said Zaren, “He suddenly stopped in Lord Street and said he ought to have gone to it. He was swearing and cursing for two hours afterwards.” At lunch Ivor Jones was there with his female, a silly baby creature, pretty and hop-up-and-downish like a schoolgirl, without brains or personality and non-political to boot. He is inordinately attached to her though he admits her brainlessness. Whittenbury went to find Tickell whom I introduced to Ivor Jones when he came. After Jones had gone Tickell was very apologetic over his absence. We went to have tea at Scholfield’s. He has Whelan’s seriousness without his scepticism, Ivor Jones’s liveliness without his exhibitionism. He told us how he went to the Fascist meeting, saw people battered and beset, and at last after many had been thrown out felt impelled to shout, “We won’t fight for King and country or anything else,” whereupon he was set upon, kicked and tappabocaed and booted out neck and crop. It was then in the scuffle that a Fascist stole his stick and Williams (of Moreton) and others swore it was a Fascist’s stick. Tickell is wildly enthusiastic and wants things done at once, almost like Darlington. He is talking about winning control of Guild Council. His mother is Catholic and his father was converted two years ago. He was brought up Catholic but is so no longer, but agnostic.
We told Scholfield about the Birkenhead riots, how manholes were opened, barbed wire put in the streets, tops knocked off park palings and an attempt made to raise the Wallasey bridge; how the police battered people indiscriminately, and bedsteads were thrown out of windows on them.
Walking to the ferry we met Whittenbury with whom Scholfield went for a meal. Bisson walked past us and deliberately ignored us, although even Whittenbury knew him. He said it was Bisson’s fault that Solomon left the YCL. This reminds me of a thing Molly Marshall told me. When she had her first baby and a great deal of stress and trouble, she dropped out of things for a while, and after a few months Bisson met her in Lord Street and ignored her. There is an ugly atmosphere wherever he is. I don’t trust him either.
Later on I saw Moore, Miss Tart, Dovaston and others. Tom Mann’s meeting was a great success with 750 people there and £1.7.6 collection. But though 10/- worth of literature was sold the party lost several pounds and all its resources are exhausted. It is time we got some benefit from our expenditure. Moore blew up Coffey’s sister today, and she didn’t attend the meeting. Coffey attacked Joe Rawlings to Tom Mann, said the CP was full of guttersnipes and other things but got no satisfaction. I asked Miss Stokes to ask Miss Disley to come and have a talk with me tomorrow. Riddell, his brother, and Riddell 2 have left for Eglwysig.
Eglwysig. The precipices near Llangollen. I think the Riddells etc. were rock climbers as well. Perhaps Rdl. 2 was a younger brother. I cannot remember one. But see July 3 equating it to Maryla Frenkel.
June 18 Tuesday: I met Tickell and Scholfield as arranged and they proceeded to nominate me as debates secretary. At 12 noon Miss Disley came and we discussed work among the women in the Hall. It seems there are great possibilities. Disley is a splendid type. Then Ivor Jones came, airing his knowledge like Halliday. And his ideas are not his own. He will for example mention Strachey and say what a good chapter he has on marginal utility, something quite marginal to the book, but it provides him with the opportunity of showing that he knows what it is. Whelan dislikes this trait very much. However he is young and admits he “doesn’t understand his own motives.” Later Miss Disley went away after I had advised her against seeking the help of the staff as she had thought of doing.
Now at lunch Peter Evans beckoned me and said “I received your nomination – what’s this I hear about you starting a separate socialist society? Are you doing so?”
“Well, why change the name?”
“There will be a new policy.”
“I don’t think there is room for two. What is its policy.”
“That’s my business.”
“And mine. I am interested – what has been my record, what was wrong with the last one.”
“You played an ILPish part like Kautsky and Bauer.”
“I’m flattered. It only shows how doctrinaire you are. All I can say is, if you hope to start a society on those lines, then get on with it.”
“I shall.” (I did not say it was already got on with.)
“Well. That has cleared the position at last.”
“It has been perfectly clear to me all along.”
“You didn’t take pains to make it clear to others.”
“Ah, well. Perhaps we shall find a basis for negotiation later.”
“Ah! Perhaps so.”
I imagine that he has only just heard from Bayliss of what I am at, and has only now realised how he has been outwitted, how I have kept him quiet with baits and promises of negotiation while all the time mustering all available forces and gaining such a start of him that he can scarcely catch up now. Moreover before he can make any move the term will end. Peter Evans’s fatal blindness might well be a warning to all vanity bags and sycophants. We will build up rapidly. Tickell declares “We want our fellows in every society and club in the ‘varsity, on Guild – everywhere.” An Arts man called him “Bolshy Tickell”.
In the evening I saw Moore and later Mrs McGree. Leo is in Liverpool for a week and is going to visit Molly Marshall. I heard that Halversen has left the party. He told Moore that he is getting old and blind. But somebody else says he was outraged at a gang of young fellows invading his house without permission. That is all sloppy Pepper’s messing. What’s more he has been getting literature from the Haymarket and not paying for it. I hear Bisson is now out of favour with the party.
The CP office was on Haymarket. The street was demolished for the tunnel entrance.
June 19 Wednesday: I set out at 9 am. and met A.Hyatt Williams in the Union. He said he could do better work outside the party. I denied this. He showed me how to get on to the East Lancashire Road and came part of the way with me. Finally I followed a lorry and having left at 11.30 am. reached Manchester at 2 pm. I left the bicycle at District HQ while I had lunch, then went back and was talking with Herman and Brown when Leo McGree walked in, and said he had sent a letter to Molly Marshall’s for me. He doesn’t like Moore and won’t have anything to do with him, so he wrote to me. Later Whittenbury came and took me to their meeting place after I had seen their grand new bookshop in Hungry Ditch. After that I went for tea at Whittenbury’s, saw a Miss Edwards (EWL) and after dashing home at 8 pm. and not passing beyond District HQ I returned and stayed the night.
Brown was one of the organisers – indeed he was probably the lead man, Herman his assistant. Brown was of Kilkenny stock and was killed in Spain. I can’t recall where the meeting was – probably at a restaurant in Wilmslow Road the students used to hire. I imagine this was the time I first met Ann Frankenburg. She was I think secretary of their small group.
June 20 Thursday: In the morning I cycled to St Helens, took the train, and arrived at Scholfield’s at 9 am., had breakfast and had just finished as Miss Disley and Ruby Berry came in. Then Tickell, Ivor Jones and Whelan came and we settled the constitution of the Socialist Club. But in the afternoon I received a letter from Bayliss saying that he warned me that the application for affiliation of a Socialist Club would be refused as “there was already in existence (?) a socialist society”, which it would not be fair to. I could find nobody but Tickell who was tremendously excited and proposed fiercely attacking them, but I pointed out that their game would be to delay us until after the Guild Handbook goes to press. Tickell showed that they cannot legally refuse affiliation on the grounds stated and he wanted to fight it out. However what we want is affiliation and we can always change the name back again once we are legal. I was talking to Ingram Knowles who called to see me at the Union and he had a stroke of inspiration. “Why not call it the New Labour Club?”
I saw Molly Marshall in the evening. Leo McGree had sent her a letter covering one to me, which said “I believe you have a comrade called Greaves living with you” – a suggestion likely to prove unpalatable to her husband! At midday (after yesterday’s night-black fog) the sky cleared and the temperature stabilised at 67oF.
June 21 Friday: I called on Edge in the morning and heard of how his family have now grown resigned to his politics. Two days ago his father showed signs of it. Last night when he arrived home he mentioned the Socialist Society. His mother grinned and said, “You mean the party, don’t you?” Edge is secretary of the ASW (Junior section) in Cambridge, and is doing very good work there.
In the afternoon we met LiC. from Cambridge who is a musical rather introspective youth, and after a long talk at Scholfield’s flat I sent him to Ebbages with a suitable note. Scholfield was completing his drawings and had just sent a telegram to Whittenbury reminding him to have his in tonight. Also, Scholfield remarked, Whittenbury might on the strength of this telegram remember to return two of Scholfield’s drawings which he had borrowed. In the evening I sent Ivor Jones Bayliss’s letter and later did little enough. Iver Mercer returned Scholfield’s book
The Association of Scientific Workers, later initials AScW. No notion of who LiC. was. In general I used such forms as A, AB, Ab, Abc for males and AbC, ABc etc. for females, but this was not yet fully established so that LiC. was a male and Dsl. a female. But what boy’s name begins Li? [“Lionel” ? – Ed.]
June 22 Saturday: Today was delightful, 85oF in the shade, and a fitting celebration of the solstice. I went to see Miss Norman, exposed the reactionaries’ latest moves and concluded an alliance. She is remarkably good. Then I saw Riddell who said it would be a mistake to delay sending in our application, for though Bayliss had said “See me as soon as possible” he would take care to keep out of my way, until the time limit had expired. This happened last year over the expulsion of Meyer case. I saw Scholfield who said he would tell Tickell of this.
I expected Ivor Jones in the afternoon, but he sent a card saying the heat had murdered him and he would come tomorrow. I met Tickell in Borough Road by The Prenton [a public house – Ed.] coming up to see me, so we went back and had tea, afterwards calling on Edge. As we left Westmore walked in on us and Tickell later told me of the doings of that gentleman, who went to a public house with some of Tickell’s acquaintances without the wherewithal to stand his round, drank all they bought and bought them not a drop. He is “the world’s champion scrounger”. He is growing a moustache, a horrible sandy one. Tickell loathes Westmore, as indeed we all do. We walked out to Heswall Hills and had supper at Tickell’s. His father came in to see us as we went out, and adopted a sort of fatherly “You young people! MacDonald’s a back number now! You must come again and we’ll talk about Socialism. Yes, or go conservative as we grow older” – in a manner that Tickell says is foreign to him. I gather he was ill at ease from fear for his son’s political soul.
June 23 Sunday: As Ivor Jones did not come in the morning I went over to his place in the afternoon. His father welcomed me warmly, Jones was groaning under a disaffection. He had fallen asleep in the hot sun on Friday afternoon. In 1932 (I think it was May) a spell of pitch black almost November weather preceded the hottest weather in August of those hot years. It seems that the same is happening again. The thermometer has been at 87oF most of the day. Jones is destroyed by it, especially since it is damp and heavy. But it has no psychological effect on me. I carry on as usual. But I love June nights. Anyway, Jones signed the application to Guild for the affiliation of the “New Labour Club” and in the evening Edge and I went to hear Saklatvala and Leo McGree at the Picton.
June 24 Monday: The practical botany exam was held today and I did rather badly. It was 86oF in the shade and the windows had to be kept closed because of the wind. My razor was blunt. I had grudged the 9d for sharpening it. In the evening I saw Jackson, and Edge went to the Park Entrance to hear Saklatvala again. Tickell came. Jackson was greatly impressed and stayed until the very end, even after we had gone. Tickell had his supper at my place and missed the last bus home. We walked as far as Little Storeton with him as the night was fine.
June 25 Tuesday: The second practical exam. was held today and if anything I did worse than yesterday, so that I am in a bad way. I received a letter from Waring in Cambridge about science.
June 26 Wednesday: I was so tired after the strain of the last few days that I stayed in bed till midday, after which Edge called. Then I crossed the river to hear the exam results. Miss Allen and I have been given 3, Miss Meyrick 2.2. Even the Professor himself claims to be creating a sensation and the view is expressed that if Dr Knight had been home he would have been less niggardly. So like Edge, who got a 3 in his Tripos, I am in a bad way. As a matter of fact this result has disappointed me more than I would have expected. It is of a piece with the general treatment the two girls and myself have received from the Professor throughout the year.
June 27 Thursday: The heat gave way to rain today. Nothing much happened. Jump invited me to lunch in an amicable way and claimed that the Catholic Society have a plan for capturing Sphinx. Consequently Peter Evans has made Jump next year’s Editor, and he has Bethune as business manager to take over the editorship from Jump next year. Jump had heard of the breakdown of negotiations between myself and Peter Evans, with whom Bethune and Jump do not always see eye to eye. Evans, said Jump, had backed McGregor (or whatever his names is) for debates secretary so as to have under his control a complete cypher amenable to his every desire. The trouble is, says Jump, that Evans’s frantic hanging on to his power is stopping Socialist continuity and playing into the hands of other forces.
June 28 Friday: I was told by a highly placatory Peter Evans that my story The Anachronists has been given the most prominent position in Sphinx, and two illustrations as well. I wonder why he is so amiable. It may be that I have unwittingly stumbled into a position of balance of power, even though I can see no sanctions in my possession, except this New Labour Club. I saw on all the walls notices advertising Sphinx with “Story by a Scientist” starred on them. They have made it their show piece. I suppose I can allow them to think I hold a balance of power. I called on Riddell to collect a letter from Manchester. I saw Edge but Whelan was out. I also called on LC. and Ebbage.
June 29 Saturday: While showing Edge round the New Union I saw Bayliss in the Gilmour Hall. He told me that Guild Executive have passed our New Labour Club. With the application I had enclosed a note. I was “surprised” at his attitude, but agreed etc. that there must be no hint of unfairness even to a society which didn’t exist. . . We represented the majority of socialist opinion, etc. etc., thanked him for his timely advice etc. This evidently did the trick. There is nothing like diplomacy. I assured him that a cardinal point of our constitution was “no affiliation to political parties”. Ivor Jones had seen him a few days ago and had to some extent won him over.
At the committee meeting Miss Disley and Ruby Berry arrived first. She said she had read The Coming Struggle for Powerand it was very convincing. She is more or less won over to our policy. Then came Whelan, Ivor Jones and finally Tickell. The constitution was easily done. It was interesting to hear Whelan, after a long period saying nothing, deal with Jones’s almost mystical views on race. He has the clearest brain of the lot of them. He can argue in a direct and concise way without being tempted into indiscretion. He was splendid. Edge agreed that Ivor Jones was the man to be secretary. I spent yesterday afternoon with him at Scholfield’s flat. He has got tired of the lady love. Her stupidity outweighed her (to my mind dubious) elegance. I had, by the way, told Riddell not to go today. He was even trying to take Whittenbury as well He is incompetent and tactless and wanders from the present, and in any case is not a member of the committee.
June 30 Sunday: In the morning I saw Moore and the RiddelIs. At midday Edge called and while we were talking Alan Hodge came. When Edge went Hodge and I went a walk. He has left the October Club. It is “dead”. Somebody told him he “went to the wrong meeting”. He declared my new poem Suicide was “good” – the first time he has allowed himself the use of such an adjective. He usually “likes it” or thinks it is better than the last one. Moreover he offered to publish it, for he is editor of one of the Oxford magazines.
In the evening Edge came down to hear Leo McGree. This was the first meeting of the boom we are experiencing now. The crowd Saklatavala had was 750. Tonight there were 1200. Leo McGree talked for a time. Then he took a collection, and then started selling literature. He sold all we had, about £1 worth and wound up the meeting by saying, “Well, comrades, we have now no more literature left.” And as he was selling literature from the platform, the crowd grew bigger, not smaller, and people came to buy it just to have the distinction of being noticed by him. Edge was tremendously impressed. I was sorry Tickell was not there. McVey of the Labour Party had to close down. He had scarcely 20 people listening.
It is illustrative of how youth dates events from its own birth that the reason for this success did not occur to me. These were the people who were in the unemployed protests in 1932, in which Leo McGree figured so prominently. The meeting was held a few yards from where the spikes were knocked from the Park palings. Across the road was the mass of mean streets where the police entered citizens’ houses and started to wreck their few possessions. I think Leo McGree was imprisoned for six months at the end of it. It was a hero’s return.
July 1 Monday: I went to the Union and saw Whittenbury. We went to Scholfield’s but he had not returned. I asked Whittenbury to go to Ivor Jones for the copy of the manifesto we are inserting in Guild handbook, and when he had typed it to give it to me. In the evening Edge and I went to a study group. On the way to Edge’s I met Tickell in Borough Road. As I said to Edge the problem is training our new forces quickly enough to be effective next term [ie. in the academic year 1935-36, commencing the following October – Ed.].
July 2 Tuesday: In the morning that stupid nincompoop Riddell and Miss Stokes accused me of dictatorship because I would not let him go to Saturday’s meeting. He is not on the committee and his presence was not necessary. He carped a little on minor issues, then completely capitulated. Whittenbury was there and saw it. He had written a “Marxist” paper in his exam – at least it seemed Marxist to the Examiner – for he failed him completely and didn’t even give him a certificate. Ach! Riddell would drive me to drink! He is simultaneously stupid and cock-sure. Ivor Jones made no objection to my signing the form for him while he was dancing. He is still under the delusion that he can do well in capitalist society, and has a mad theory that he could become an authority on finance – studying bourgeois economics which, he says, Marxism has not done, after which he will be able to advice Soviet Britain on its external trade relations. I gave him my psychological summary of himself – the Marxist snob rejecting snobbery to place himself above snobbery – ultra-snobbism! And he admitted it.
In the evening Edge and I attended a dramatic aggregate meeting to discuss Coffey’s criticisms. He revealed himself as an egotistical ass and Rawlings won hands down. Edge was thrilled by the drama. Bowman was almost in tears. I must admit I also enjoyed the drama. Coffey wanted to connect Rawlings with the manufacture of counterfeit coins, which he naturally denied. I must confess I had an open mind on it. But to blurt it out was another thing. The climax came when Coffey in a frenzy of excitement cried, “Don’t you remember the night we were in the pub with those two anarchists?” This had the ring of truth if vehemence is the test of it. Rawlings quietly shook his head. “No.” A vote of confidence was passed in Rawlings, with only Miss Coffey and Halversen against. Clive Moore (whom I distrust) and Gaskell abstained. I read Emil Burns’s The General Strike, Lenin’s April Theses , Eve of October and Paris Commune.
At the meeting on July 28 Gallacher told me this meeting should never have been held. It was to permit a man to criticise a party he had left. I think Moore was antagonistic to Rawlings, perhaps from jealousy of his position of mass leadership, perhaps because he was inclined to go his own way. I think Moore would be in the chair and would not need to vote, but his son showed how the wind was blowing by abstaining.
July 3 Wednesday: I crossed the river in the morning and saw Whittenbury. We called on Scholfield but he is not yet returned. For a moment I saw Whelan and Ivor Jones. Later I visited LiC. and invited him to come with LiS. to an antifascist meeting in Wallasey. I also saw Ebbage and called at the Riddells where I met Riddell’s brother and Maryla Frenkel (Riddell 2). Riddell was loudly denouncing the education department after his puerile fashion declaring his desire to write a hymn of hate which would begin “Hate! Hate! Hate!” because they’d put failure on him. He would be better engaged considering how he might harm them, and if he couldn’t, reserving his hatred until he could. I talked with the organiser for a time. He is a very pleasant fellow on the whole. He is glad I keep touch with Bangor. He explained that Leo McGree had sent LiC. and LiS. to report the fascist-woman case, and then (as LiC. said) had sent another (and incompetent) person to report, so that neither report was sent but another from the Echo.
July 4 Thursday: In the morning I received my lab deposit of £1.10 – and saw Donald Magee who has passed the intermediate, and Piggott who has BSc, also Halliday who has failed again. All our people, Tickell, Ivor Jones, Whittenbury, Whelan and Ruby Berry, have passed. I had a long talk with Jones. He is very confused, reads Lenin but calls himself a careerist. He has decided to stay in Geography. I decided not to liquidate the SCR but to keep it as a personal property, a kind of Chiltern Hundred for people who need flattering by being put on a committee.
I met Eileen Allen who like me received a 3rd. She had seen the Professor and when he asked her what she thought of the result, she said she was entitled to a 2/2 [Second Class Honours – Ed.]. He demurred. She replied and during the course of her reply her true thoughts forced their way out and she called him a “bloody swine”. Then it all poured out. “The interview is closed, Miss Allen,” said McLean Thompson. But Miss Allen went on, denouncing his pettinesses, his dividing the students into sheep and goats, all that we had tripartitely elaborated at numerous indignation meetings. In the end he requested her to go. Moreover he was rather cowed by her fierceness.
Now I saw Bill Matthias later. “Have you heard your result?” he asked. “Yes.” “Are you satisfied?” “No.” I was very flat. “Well if it’s any consolation to you I think you are worth more than that.” “So do I,” I said. “As a matter of fact I was of the opinion, as I said, that you were the only really first class student in the year. But what could we do? The examination . . . .” “Oh, that’s all right,” I interrupted, “We know all that.” I then told him how I had applied to do ecology and when that had been refused the Professor had kept me in long uncertainty with his Ceretonia rubbish, wasted my time, and forced me to do my thesis late. I did not however say it was done in a week. When he protested I mentioned Mellor Brown and Alan Morton [former botany students who had also clashed with Professor Thompson – Ed.]. So we agreed to differ and parted on the best of terms.
I met the Professor on the stairs and he asked me if I had come to remove my “Soviet Literature”. I was very polite, even affable. Why should I be otherwise when I have no power? Now it happens that many people are asking me if the story The Anachronists is intended to satirise Professor Thompson, and I am not going to disillusion them, although as a matter of fact I had Sir James Jeans in mind [British physicist and mathematician – Ed.].
In the evening Tickell called and we went to an NUWM meeting [National Unemployed Workers’ Movement – Ed.] in Wallasey. LiC and LiS both came. However it was not very thrilling for Gaskell had not chalked it at all. But it was a break since we defied a police ban. Bowman was there. Tickell walked back with me to 124 Mount Road. He is beginning to think seriously, but like Ivor Jones he reacts defensively “Oh. I’m selfish. I don’t care what happens to others as long as they don’t interfere with my liberties.” “What are your liberties?” I asked, and it floored him. But there is much less truth in Tickell’s defence than in Jones’s which means that Tickell’s defences will break down first. For Jones has even been brought to the point of arguing that illusion is better than knowledge.
It has occurred to me to wonder if the Professor’s antagonism at this point arose from his imagining that The Anachronists was directed at him. The exam result would of course not be. When he first read my thesis he praised it and described it as a “clever essay”. So he had changed.
Gaskill’s son married Phyllis Greaves’s school friend, Peggy Evans, to whose daughter Phyllis left some books. I do not recall applying for ecology. The error must have been applying to the professor and not to Matthias. I know that is what I wanted to do so I must have said so. I remember Miss Meyrick saying I should have gone to Matthias. But the Professor should have said “go to Matthias.”
July 5 Friday: Today I finished Engels’s Feuerbach and bought some loose-leaf fiches to make notes in. I am engaged in a grand “readery”. I must master all there is to be known if I am to guide my group effectively next term. I am making progress with Ivor Jones. He goes to Aberystwyth on Monday. I may see him there if I go there after Bangor. His latest fad is pantheism, which I attacked by exposing its psychological origins. I went to Bootle and saw Egerton Stafford who had met LiC. and LiS. over the Fascist case. Later still I saw Moore and his son, also Riddell. I asked Ruby Berry to be chairman of the SCR and this delighted her. Now Bowman said that after Tickell had been booted out of last October’s Fascist meeting a blackshirt took it (a stick?) on to the platform and said “Look what we took from a communist thug!” I started the Critique of the Gotha Programme [by Karl Marx – Ed.].
July 6 Saturday: In the morning I went to St George’s Hall to take part in the ceremony of robery and nobbery. The “graduands” dressed in absurd garments shook hands with Mr Hetherington, everybody clapped and sang comic songs and we all went home. The miserable show delayed me so long that I could not go to Manchester, where a District conference attended by “leading comrades” is to be held. Moore had suggested me at the LPC last night. He and Joe Rawlings went as well. So in the afternoon I saw Piggott, talked and drank tea. Miss Allen said that the external examiner said of me that I was very brilliant but didn’t know much botany. I wonder if they would accept me for MSc if I put it diplomatically. I read Engels’s Feuerbach, listened to a Mozart-Hayden concert, took Alan Hodge some copies of International Literature and finally finished the Critique of the Gotha Programme.
July 7 Sunday: In the afternoon I walked with Hodge to the “Devon Doorway” passing Tickell’s place and seeing him for a moment carrying out tea to his family in the garden. Hodge tried to work up indignation against the “bourgeois” “Devon Doorway” but was not successful enough to be convincing. Capitalism has not really stung him yet. He met Whelan a few days ago.
In the evening I went to hear Herman speak, but though he is a very likeable individual he speaks very badly. I saw Moore and others. Herman came and shook hands with me. He is in Liverpool for a week for the Toxteth bye-election in which he wants me to help. The people are beginning to feel distrustful of the Labour Party, and to ask very good questions. Later I read Lenin’s The Proletarian revolution and the renegade Kautsky.
July 8 Monday: I went to the Haymarket, saw Herman who had asked me to go there to help him. I called on LiC. who was ill. I saw the Professor with a view to doing MSc and getting a year’s respite. He was not sanguine. I also saw Matthias who promised to do what he could. But it rests with the Professor and I am not in his good books. I received a letter from the Education department saying I could read the subject if I paid my own fees and did not apply for a certificate to teach in elementary schools, although everybody knows it is useless to apply for secondary schools. The acceptance is valueless on those terms. I should get either the diploma or nothing. And I might suffer the fate of Riddell who was politically victimised. The diploma [ie. in Education – Ed.] or nothing provides them with an easy means of doing it. In the afternoon I saw Peter Evans whom Campagnac told openly “You passed the examination, but you spent too much time on Sphinx. You got a high teaching mark, too, but . . .” That is to say that if Campagnac had not known that Evans was engaged in outside work, he would have awarded him the diploma. I spent the afternoon looking through back numbers of Sphinx, seeing the dope put over by the old Labour Club which was in the hands of the Labour Party on the City Council. In 1930 Peter Evans was responsible, or was typical of those who were responsible, for wrenching it away. I went to see Moore. It struck me that another good reason for doing MSc is that Dovaston will probably be taking botany, and with McClay we might start a group.
July 9 Tuesday: I spent the morning buzzing around with the antifascist van and the afternoon canvassing for the Labour Party. I later cycled out to Heswall Hills and saw Tickell père and talked for a long time with him. I made the point to him that the difference between youth and age is less than the difference within youth and age. He was compelled to accept this. I came back and after I had extracted myself from the company of Lunn and Enid Greaves [his cousin – Ed.], Tickell called independently of my visit and I suggested going to Manchester to the Labour Monthly [communist journal edited by R.Palme Dutt– Ed.] conference against Fascism. He will think it over. He has been researching on war in the Picton. I rang Darlington but without result.
July 10 Wednesday: I rang Darlington in the morning and he promised to meet me at Central Station at 2.30 pm. but did not arrive. I wanted him to look up some back numbers of the Birkenhead papers lodged in the Central Library. Perhaps Tickell will do it. I saw Moore and his son later. Riddell called and we saw Jackson. In the evening I went to Piggott’s. Jackson, Donald Magee and Keats also turned up. When I got home I read a little of the Origin of the Family and retired at 2.30 am. The object of the celebration was to rejoice at passing our examinations. That is why Halliday was excluded. Jackson remarked that there are few people who can entertain themselves without women, cards or games, but simply by conversation as we can do.
July 11 Thursday: I wrote to Dovaston inviting him here on Sunday, though I doubt whether he will come. Alan Hodge called for a short time, and later Tickell whom I accompanied to his establishment at Heswall Hills. In the afternoon I was at the Picton.
July 12 Friday: As I was shaving there was a knock, and when the door was opened I heard Dick Freeman’s cultured voice, together with Hunt and Douglas of the YCL. The NUS [National Union of Students – Ed.] Executive is in Liverpool. They had travelled all night in Freeman’s car. He was almost asleep.
Two letters arrived from Bangor, posted respectively at 10 am. and 11 pm. yesterday. But the one postmarked 10 am. contained a letter which cancelled the arrangement proposed in that posted at 11 pm. They must have been opened and wrongly resealed [that is, by the police – Ed.]. The first said come on Monday; the second said make it Saturday and stay the weekend.
In the afternoon I saw Herman and others and at 8 pm. took Dick Freeman and Hunt out to Molly Marshall’s, dropping Douglas at Moore’s. I also saw Whittenbury and asked him to call on Dovaston to cancel the invitation, which he promised to do.
July 13 Saturday: I set off at 7 am. and cycled to Mold, Denbigh, Pentre Foelas, Capel Craig, Pen-y-gwnyd, Llanberis and Port Dinorwic to Bangor. As far as Bodfari I was accompanied by an unemployed labourer from Walton whose daughter was exploited in Jacob’s biscuit factory, and who denounced war. My subsequent companions were younger and less interesting. I called on J. Roose Williams and we talked. I told him about the letters. He told me he found a scrap of official paper in one of his. They cannot have much time in which to open them. After tea we called on the secretary of the socialist club, Howard Jones, a pleasant individual, small, dark, stooping slightly, quiet-spoken, very sincere but with an odd cast of almost Irish wit and humour. At 10 pm. I retired at Abermenai.
The last sentence seems to indicate that I stayed with Miss Jones and that is confirmed by the next entry. Roose Williams used to say, “It all began with that meeting in Miss Jones’s house.” But though I introduced him to Miss Jones, I think the crucial meeting may have been later than this [It is unclear what this refers to. It probably relates to later activity between Greaves and Roose Williams in North Wales – Ed.].
July 14 Sunday: I walked to Llanfair PG [shortened version of Welsh name – Ed.] in the morning. In the afternoon I called on Roose Wiliams. After walking round Bangor and having tea we walked 8 miles in a circle starting along the quarry railway on the way to Bethesda. After that we called on Howard Jones. He lived at Carrog until two years ago and attended the county school at Bala. He told me that some of the quarrymen in Carrog are gradually going neurotic as a result of their war service, and how accidents have occurred to ex-servicemen. A doctor told him about it. He had a friend at Glenyrafon who ran a LNO after he left and is at Bangor now. After that I talked with Miss Jones late into the night. She was in the Labour Party since its foundation, and then in the ILP, then the CP. She was a suffragette militant in Trafalgar Square. At the age of 76 she seems as young as many a woman of 60. She takes an active part in Co-op work at Bethesda.
During the walk in the early evening J. Roose Williams stopped at the door of a chapel. “Listen to him now,” he laughed as the preacher started his hwyl. He was extraordinarily and I thought unnecessarily anti-religious. This explains part of the next entry.
July 15 Monday: I called for Harold Jones at 10 am. and we went to Beaumaris by ferry. I wanted him to join the party but he was afraid of his people. I recommended a separate organisation in the College, also reducing J. Roose Williams’s influence which is cluttered with an ultra-left sectarian past. Then I saw Roose Williams again. Both he and Jones are somewhat unsophisticated in the ways of the world. For example Roose Williams who is 29 years of age, went to some pains to conceal from his family that he went to Sheffield to see his girl-friend. Bangor is a very puritanical place and he thought the Liverpool students promiscuous libertarians.
I cycled home via Llandygai, Conwy, Rhuddlan, Lloc, Northop, leaving Llandygai at 4 pm. and reaching Prenton by 10 pm., which was quick. On arrival I found a letter from Edge that contained good news, also one from Dovaston who had called on Sunday night and was disappointed very badly.
I remember the ferry was less frequent than we had thought and J. Roose Williams was not pleased at my arriving late for lunch. I can form no mental picture of Howard Jones or Miss Jones.
July 16 Tuesday: In the morning I called on Whittenbury to blow him up, but he was out on me, and apart from the remarkable sight of a cat that walked into a house via the brickwork, I had nothing for my pains. I called on Dovaston at 5.30 pm. and was received into the bosom of his reputedly reactionary family. I summed up his father as a Mr Darlington manqué who had not been successful enough to acquire a loud voice. His mother is rather distinguished-looking but radiates reaction like a silver swastika. Dovaston suggested seeing me again on Thursday. Later I saw Riddell’s brother who was in the process of cheating his mother out of 5/- by not sending off a postal order. She is worried and hurt at his wildness. First he gets married secretly, then gets money by false pretences. I detected moreover a certain whining in her accusations, as if she hated to be reminded of his shortcomings just when he was leaving for Soviet Russia. Whelan was not in. Neither was LiC. On my return I found a letter from Moore inviting me to the LPC where I was duly invested as a member, also leader of Central group while Moore is away. This was Ingram Knowles’s doing.
Now I saw the Professor during the day. After loud protestations of regard he politely told me that he could not see his way to admitting me to MSc as he did not think my understanding of the history of botany added anything to the conceptions at present current.* He added “And give up politics, Mr Greaves. We have plenty here without the Soviets. Haven’t we? You know we have. Or you wouldn’t be here. We should both be in the mines.” With that he closed the interview, advising me to accept Campagnac’s offer. He thought I would get a post and added “I will back you – for your brains.” But perhaps I would be better off without his backing.
*He was right enough there. I remember the cat. How it disappeared I cannot conjecture! I stood looking at the wall for several minutes. The LPC was the Local Party Committee. The CP had “locals” not branches then.
July 17 Wednesday: In the morning I saw Moore and his son. It seems that somebody called at 12.30 am. and CEG sent him away. It was not Clive Moore. Perhaps it was Tickell, perhaps fasticated [ie. starving, it being so late at night – Ed.]. In the afternoon Alan Hodge called and we walked to Barnston. In the evening I saw Clive Moore and the YCL and finished Engels’ Origin of the family, which is very interesting but needs to be filled out with the discoveries of more recent research. Hodge is writing a play about Oisin. He is at present in a Celtic Twilight stage. He follows years behind me in poetic art. The mess of surréalisme nearly sucked him under, so Yeatsian Celticism is a step forward, especially if he studies Yeats’s later work.
July 18 Thursday: In the morning there was a sharp thunderstorm which prevented Dovaston from coming at 10.30 am. as arranged. As he had not arrived by 2 pm. I sent him a telegram. In the middle of the afternoon Tickell arrived, and as we were having a cup of tea Dovaston came. There had been rain in Mossley Hill which we had escaped. Now Tickell was in an anti-intellectual mood, full of low jokes and sexy allusions. Dovaston’s attitude coincides with Edge’s and mine – a low joke must be witty as well as low, otherwise it is pointless. We cycled out to Tickell’s, dropped him there, then had coffee at the Devon Doorway. Dovaston is very well-read for his age. He does not play football or cricket, but plays chess and tennis and does some boxing. He promised to join the party. He had attended a few YCL meetings but had been disgusted by Bisson and Clive Riddell.
July 19 Friday: I set off with Alan Hodge at 8.3O am. and we rode to Penarlag, Pontblydden, Mold and Bwlch pen Barres from where we climbed Moel Famau. Whelan is somewhere near Llanferris with his girl friend, but we couldn’t find him, and as it began to rain, we had lunch and came home. I saw Moore in the evening. I will have the greater part of the organising to do while Moore is away.
July 20 Saturday: I went to see Ebbage and Stafford in the afternoon, also Moore and Clive Moore. Then I went to Tickell to plan some of our strategy for next term.
July 21 Sunday: In the morning I finished Bukharin’s book Imperialism and World Economy. In the afternoon I made notes on the Origin of the family and then called on Molly Marshall. She told me that Rathbone-Smith had promised to support the SCR in whatever way we liked. Both Carr and Screen were there. Later I began Engels’s Anti-Duhring which is very well-written, satirical and to the point. I also went down to the Park Entrance, saw Moore, Clive Moore and others and listened to Leo McGree who held an immense crowd, and actually received a 10/- note in the collection. The party is going like wildfire. When I went to listen to the Labour Party meeting, about 50 strong against our 500, I observed that they were stressing local politics. That is how they held what they did. So we must do likewise if we want a united front.
Beth Carr and Screen were teachers. Molly Marshall thought them brilliant. Moore used to listen to all the contributions in a discussion, and then offer his weighty opinion. I used to say to Molly Marshall, “Don’t you see? You’ve done the work, he gets the credit.”
July 22 Monday: In the morning I called on Alderman Nathan of the ILP and heard of some of the feuds and scandals that embellish the Town Council. I met Smith who is ill with shingles. I read more of Anti-Duhring. Yesterday Alan Hodge had called when I was out. I called but missed him but took him Feuerbach. I saw Clive Moore in the afternoon and Pepper who introduced me to young Tierney whom I didn’t think much of. I want the group at Moore’s. Dodd, a labourer who has just joined, is a new member and a most intelligent man who reads solid and difficult matter, perhaps not as good as Hadwin, but quite remarkable. Later I took leave of Moore and his son who are going to France.
While I was out Halliday who had called on Saturday came again. Tickell called en passant. I wonder if I should now ask him to join.
July 23 Tuesday: I called on Tickell and Halliday but they were both out. So I remained indoors for the greater part of the day, finished entirely Engels’s Anti-Duhring and doing three chapters of Steklov’s History of the First International. This is all part of the plan. But I shall have to know some economics to match Ivor Jones in it.
July 24 Wednesday: A letter came in the morning asking me to speak at the Small Picton Hall on Saturday for the Armaments Protest Committee. Accordingly I went to the Picton Library to look up well authenticated documents to quote from. I had in the morning visited Birkenhead Institute to see WH Watts presented with a pair of binoculars on his retirement. Halliday was there. Piggott is in Ireland. Donald Magee is about to go to Chalmouth on his bicycle. I learnt later that Tickell had called at 4 pm., so at 8 I went out to Heswall and walked down to the shore of the Dee. We were accompanied with one of Tickell’s less desirable associates, one of the sax people he knows in Heswall, and moreover one who illustrates the restriction of one’s choice in these parts. He was notable for his speechlessness (unobjectionable in itself) on all subjects but football and women. His sole yardstick for measuring the beauties of nature is whether the foliage affords adequate seclusion for copulation.
July 25 Thursday: Today I read from cover to cover Germanetto’s Memoirs of a barber. I wrote to Rathbone-Smith, Miss Fitton and Mary Greaves [His aunt in Portsmouth – Ed]. A letter from Mdle. Adelin gave an account of the 14th of July. She described herself as a “party sympathiser”. Alan Hodge has already departed for Egham on his machine, and proposes to stay at my place in Worcester tonight.
In the evening after visiting Mrs Barraskill and hearing of her experiences in Glasgow where she has “seen them knock the policemen’s hats off and ran into the houses and the people give them shelter.” I called on Molly Marshall and talked with her and Ingram Knowles when he came in. They have founded a “Woodcraft folk” for the children. I learned that a person in the Clarion Cycling Club had applied four times to Bisson to join the YCL. It is almost like sabotage.
“My place in Worcester” was the Cheltenham Restaurant. When I was going to cycle to Portsmouth and London for the first time, which would be in late August 1929, D2F [Dorothy Greaves, his uncle Harry’s wife – Ed.]who had friends there called in to make a booking for me. I went there for several years, but then became able to cover longer distances. On 27 July 1931 I rode all the way to London in one day.
July 26 Friday: I wrote letters, then went for a walk to clear my mind. I think that war is unlikely for two or three years. Consequently I must be prepared to get a job and pay back part of the £200 I owe. I shall first advise the corporation of my decision to do education, and ask for a delay in payment. From 23 September to 7 October I shall do no political work. Then, having in the meantime got Tickell into the party I shall set to work on Ivor Jones, and build up the New Labour Club, delegating as many functions as possible to other people. By the beginning of November I hope to have Jones and Miss Disley. If we have Whittenbury, Scholfield, Disley, Dovaston, Tickell and Ivor Jones we will have formidable forces to bring to bear on Whelan and Beattie. I shall take care they get no chance to fail me in Education. If I get a job I shall remain student organiser in secret. If I can repay the £2O0 before the war I can become a professional revolutionary. At the same time I must push ahead with the work on art and continue poetry. I am told the Education people require each student to do a book review at the beginning of the year. Most of the titles are political. I shall choose “The Testament of Beauty”, a rubbishy bourgeois poem written, as far as I can recollect, in several languages so as to be unintelligible except to the “best people”[a poem in four books by Robert Bridges, then British Poet Laureate – Ed.]. In the evening I attended the Local Party Committee.
July 27 Saturday: In the morning I prepared and in the afternoon delivered my speech to the armaments protest committee at the small Picton Hall. Tickell was there. The other person speaking was Alun Williams who has suddenly acquired the status of “national speaker” because he now lives in London, and came specially to speak here – and to see his girl. (Incidentally, as Molly Marshall says, when he talks to you he wobbles his elbows, perpetually nudging you into a continued retreat until you fall over something or reach the wall. Riddell used to say he was homosexual; when I told Molly Marshall he had a girl she said “well, he might still be”). But at any rate he spoke and I spoke very much better and made a huge impression, even though I dealt with highly technical chemical things. I founded my speaking style partly on Leo McGree’s and partly on Saklatvala’s. I found I could make the audience look expectantly at me, or lose tension whenever I liked. I had of course to translate my models into a form suitable to my accent, height and characteristic modes of expression. Tickell was very excited. “What we want to do is get out on the streets!” I roared laughing at it. In the evening I called on Knowles and Molly Marshall. I had sent Gallacher a wire this morning. I obtained copies of letters to be sent to the Labour Party with the object of forcing a United Front on certain issues. At the Party Committee I suggested a joint meeting to talk about war on August 4th.
July 28 Sunday: I went to Ebbages in the afternoon. There was no word of Gallacher at the Barraskills, but when we went to the Park Entrance he was there waiting, and we had a very good meeting. Tickell was there. I took him to the Barrraskills where I counted the literature money and collection and talked with Gallacher who is staying the night there[Willie Gallacher, elected communist MP for West Fife in the UK general election of November 1935, retaining his seat until 1950 – Ed.]. I like Gallacher immensely. He is far the best of those I know on the Central Committee. He has a rather stiff good humour, and greatly impressed Tickell.
Gallacher gave his famous speech “profit, profit, profit”, a diatribe against the capitalists. I remember his saying how mistaken it was to have allowed Coffey a platform.
July 29 Monday: I bought carbon paper in the morning and did 24 letters to Labour people inviting them to speak off our platform next Sunday. Also I saw Mrs Oates. In the evening I went to an SCR meeting where apart from myself all present were Woolley, Leila Jaffe and her father. Mr Jaffe is a big bushy grey-haired man who wears an open collar all the year round. Leila protested. “But I am a proletarian,” he replied. He is indeed a successful businessman, though thought mad in business circles. He began speaking of socialism. “Ach! Yes. All is going to change. Ze concentration of capital. Ach. Ze beautiful houses. We build bigger and bigger houses. We get beautiful people. Ach. Zee sky, the sun – all sunbathing, everyone sunbathing like your father!” He was shouting at the end.
He would have made a good agitator. He has the art of presenting his points in effective sequence. He denounced GB Shaw’s reply to Sylvia Pankhurst. “What was there in it? Rubbish, all of it. Silly letter. I never thought there was much in Shaw. Look at his Apple Cart. Have you seen it? Yes. Now that trade union man, To put a big movement like that in the person of a fool, a rough fool, it is disgusting, it is an insult to zings zat matter.” He lost his dental fricatives when he got excited. “You say art,” he went on, shrugging, “it may have artistic value. But Rothermere? He is not a fool. He belongs to a certain class and he does his job well. But Shaw does not belong to that class and it is disgusting to see him. You have expected he would be progressive. Now at the end of his life to spoil it all – like a cow that gave good milk and then – poof – over the bucket goes. Rubbish! And it was the working class who made him great. I know many people are afraid to say it, but I know it for a fact. I remember, thirty years ago who had heard of Shaw? Was it not discussion circles and meetings? I remember them. They made him great. And now to spoil it like this, saying he is for the black-shirts. They say Germany is a ‘great’ a ‘cooltured’ nation. What is, can you tell me I wonder, a ‘great, a ‘cooltured’ nation? What is it, I wonder? Is it political prisoners? Concentration camps? But Hitler is leader of a ‘great’ and ‘cooltured’ nation. Ah – I have read it three time. I can see nothing in it.”
He went on for a long time denouncing the Daily Herald, which makes a greater fuss over jubilees and royal marriages than any other paper. “Do you read the Daily Worker?” he asked me. “Yes? Ah. Isn’t it terrible. Yes if two men are out on strike – no, if one man is out on strike, it is changing society. Ten? Six? Yes – one! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! But the Daily Herald – pah! – I would not have it in the house. It is like the Daily Mail” – and this is a wealthy contractor speaking because he is a Jew. But give him credit for it, he has always been “left” in his own anarchist way.
I forgot to record yesterday that Coffey had written to King St and Gallacher had replied. Then he wrote complaining of Gallacher. Now he has written to the Communist International. I told him about West Kirby.
I returned from Jaffe’s with Woolley, a young clerk in the Finance Department at Birkenhead, who has an amazingly superior accent which makes him afraid of speaking for fear he should say something without it. I felt like asking him to turn it off and speak naturally. And who should be on the 11.45 am. boat but Tickell.
July 30 Tuesday: I collected Moore’s letters and was wondering why I had seen nothing of Iver Mercer for so long when I ran into his mother and grandmother in Borough Road. They said he was at Farndon. She had seen the newspaper report of my speech at the Picton and was extremely friendly. So forthwith I mended a puncture on my bicycle and leaving at 4 pm. reached Chester by 4.45 and was in Farndon by 5.30 helped by a strong NW wind. I found a place to park my bicycle until Mercer and Guthrie rowed up in a boat and made tea and baked beans. Now Guthrie is not much of a specimen though at times he has flashes. He will not go far. Mercer on the other hand had Rothstein’s Chartism to Labourism and Brooke Adam’s book. He will be at the University, but not Guthrie I think. I left at 10 pm. and reached home at 12.5.
July 31 Wednesday: I saw Tickell who is preparing to go to Germany. Miss Fitton wrote asking me to go and see her on Friday and I wrote back saying yes.
August 1 Thursday: In the morning I read Stalin’s Leninism. I had a very different impression of it from that I received eighteen months ago.
Who should call this afternoon but Whittenbury. I gave him Leila Jaffe’s paper to type and told him to go and see Miss Fitton tomorrow. He had called on Dovaston who was out. In the evening there was the LPC and we heard that the Labour Party had not responded to our invitation. But Sid Hills, who Iver Mercer says is the only one of them with brains, consented to cancel the Labour Party meeting and give us a clear field. All the councillors claimed to be on holidays.
August 2 Friday: In the morning I called in at the Haymarket and hearing that Leo McGree was coming back, I hastened up to his wife to try to book him for Sunday. Then I went to Ebbage’s. In the afternoon I took a book to Gilbertson’s and called at Joe Rawlings’s to tell him about Leo McGree. His typewriter was out of order, the ribbon being in an impossible tangle. I sat down and mended it for him. I immediately knew that I had acquired a new status in his eyes, that of a skilled worker. He was grateful in an undemonstrative way and gave me a pamphlet by Piatnitsky on unemployment which I didn’t want but accepted so as not to hurt his feelings. In the evening I went out to Parkgate where the Eggerton Staffords are looking after the Pauls’ bungalow. Now Stafford had heard an anonymous individual – whose name I did not ask as I suspect I know already, an old Holt boy FSU secretary in Liverpool – (say) that Gallacher was kept waiting two hours and that Pepper had made a mess of his literature selling and made a speech instead. The second was true and I made a point of it at the LPC. The first was Gallacher’s own fault. He did not tell us when or how he was coming. Now Stafford has taken it upon himself to write to Rust [leading CPGB activist in London – Ed.] to complain of the incompetence of the Birkenhead CP. I said we would appreciate it in future if his first representations were made to the people concerned.
By devious routes I have received an invitation to a conference on Academic Freedom in Oxford.
August 3 Saturday: I read Bukharin’s Economic Theory of the Leisure Class. My grand reading is drawing to a close. On politics, political and general history I am reasonably well up, but am weak on economics. I shall try to tackle Das Kapitalwhile I am away. Then it is a matter of getting into a position for an assault on the cultural edifice, but that is not yet.
Piggott called in the afternoon. I met Jump who said that Jackson could find nothing in biochemistry and is reduced to education. Jump also indicated that Peter Evans knows that his bolt is shot but is thinking of making one last attempt at a restabilization by founding a fortnightly paper in the University. He has got the idea from some Scottish university. But Jump is not optimistic. He says moreover that the rump of the old Soc.Soc. is tied to Peter Evans only by personal loyalty and if he should not return next year they would have no hesitation in joining the New Labour Club. I hope their ranks are thinned. I don’t like these not too intellectuals.
I saw Ingram Knowles and Molly Marshall in the evening. It seems that one Labour Councillor is prepared to speak from our platform at 9 pm. So the frost is breaking.
It was typical of the sectishness of the times that the olive branch should be seen as a white flag. We seemed to have little conception that other people had feelings!
August 4 Sunday: I finished Bukharin’s book and have now read all the political books I have in stock. In the evening there was a successful meeting with 600 present, and Cllr. Melville spoke as well as Joe Dunne, Joe Rawlings and a Russian from the Ukraine. Snowden spoke at the end. Dunne’s daughter, aged 14, sold several shillings worth of literature. I wish we could get some more young ladies for this exercise. Joe Rawlings says the wagon is costing too much and I agreed not to have it next week, as we shall have Grady’s expenses from Wigan to meet.
The above entry is on page 3445 of the original. It is the first day to use the present form of the date with the month in capitals above, and the date followed by the symbol of the day. Previously the month was lower case and the day usually abbreviated. The astronomical symbol for the sun [for Sunday – Ed] was first used on August 4th, and the Greek letter Ø [for Thursday – Ed.] first on August 8th. It is a surprise to me that I adopted this nearly 5O years ago. Phonetic spelling ceases altogether in mid-1935.
August 5 Monday: I did little in the morning, but in the afternoon mended a puncture and rode to Chester where I noted that the Liverpool Road has been re-numbered to A41 from A51, and the A529 is also A41. I went on through Bidford, Farndon, Marford, Cefnybedd, Mold, Northop, Connah’s Quay, Mollington, Backford and home.
August 6 Tuesday: I wound up my affairs in Birkenhead today, calling on Ingram Knowles and Molly Marshall, Mrs Barraskill, Oates and others. I understand from the family that thanks to my political activities Mary Greaves has threatened to cut me off with the proverbial shilling.
August 7 Wednesday: I left Prenton at 6 am. and cycled through Chester and Birmingham, lunching at Solihull and on through Banbury to Oxford, which I reached at 9 pm. I called on Bernard Flood at 3 IR, seeing also Peggy Moxon and others. We decided there was not much reason why I should stay for the conference.
August 8 Thursday: At 10 am. I left and cycled through Wellingford, Reading, Ockham and Alton to Fareham, Cosham and Portsmouth. Enid Greaves [a cousin – Ed.] was there.
August 9 Friday: I borrowed Upton Sinclair’s Boston from the Library. The characters tend to be thin and over-conventionalised. The tendency is social-democratic, the psychology is that of the upper and middle class. There is much puritan sentimentality. But it is nevertheless better than I expected. I also borrowed Pierre Loti’s Fleurs d’ennui and Matelot.
A letter from Manchester came the day I left home. It was from the business manager of Student Front blowing up that we had remitted him no money for the paper. It was addressed to C.S.Greaves, 18 Ribblesdale Rd., “Mosely” Hill, Liverpool. He said he had written before. I wrote him back a sarcastic letter. Today his humble reply arrived. There was also a letter from Edge, apologising as usual for not writing, and indulging his peculiar brand of self-castigation that is only inverted vanity. So I wrote him a rude reply. His homily was insincere and annoyed me. I was at a CP meeting on the front.
August 10 Saturday: I read most of the day, but went to the Chess Club in the evening, playing one of their strongest players and letting him force a draw against heavy odds. Then I went to the open air meeting and met Wally Cooper of all people who said Leo McGree is coming to Southampton in a fortnight. There is a black-out on Tuesday.
August 11 Sunday: I read the newspapers and books, walked along the esplanade and so on. There is a distinct radicalisation of UBW [Basil Willshire, husband of Mary Greaves, his aunt – Ed.]. He feels very antagonistic to the National Government, against their black-outs and war schemes. Even Mary Greaves is beginning to realise that big noises are no longer any good. There was no meeting this evening as all the YCLers have gone to a holiday school at Bembridge. It seems a mistake to miss on Sundays though there are so many religious tootlers that it would probably be very difficult to speak.
August 12 Monday: I finished Sinclair’s book and obtained Dreiser’s The Titan which I failed to finish last year.
August 13 Tuesday: In the morning a letter from Edge said he would be in London tomorrow so I resolved to take a trip there to see him. In the afternoon I went to Southampton to the party place. They had no Inprecors. In the evening I played chess with a boy of 16 who had won £100 for it, winning the first game but losing the reply.
August 14 Wednesday: At midnight I went out on the front at Portsmouth and witnessed the air raid test. All lights were to be out at 1 am. But some were still on. They were, I believe, then cut off by main switches. Motor cars drove with lights full on and when police tried to take their names found they had no authority. All they could do was to ask to see their licenses. Aeroplanes droned overhead, invisible in the brilliant full moonlight. Only once did a searchlight glint on the wings of a plane, and this one looped and dived and escaped. Every time a green verey-light appeared overhead a plane had passed the searchlight and dropped a ‘bomb’. And many were dropped. I posted myself at the Castle which was “annihilated”. The dockyard, aerodrome, whole island, harbour and half Southampton were technically destroyed. Moreover the first bombs on the Castle would destroy the searchlights there, but this was not taken into account. They continued to shine forth.
I left at 7 am. and cycled through Petersfield, Haslemere and Esher to Putney where I left my bicycle, and went by train to Waterloo, then to King St, then to Clerkenwell Green and finally to the SCR in Bloomsbury where I met Edge. Hilda Browning was away. We went to Liverpool Street for Edge’s typewriter and took it by taxi to Euston, had a drink of sherry, and then he left for Liverpool. I then returned to Putney and cycled to Hilda Taylor’s [a maternal aunt – Ed.] place in Croydon where I stayed the night.
August 15 Thursday: I took the baby for an ice-cream. Then I cycled back to Portsmouth via Dorking. I arrived at 7.30 pm. in time for a game of chess with a Swiss who muttered in French during the game and played slowly and weightily. There were favourable newspaper reports of the Oxford conference. The News Chronicle is moving left of the Herald and this is affecting Basil Willshire and even Mary Greaves. The same paper is strongly opposed to gas-drills and black-outs. We can expect, as I say, progressive radicalisation of the aristocracy of Labour and the black-coated workers. I received a letter Edge had told me about, also one from Moore, and a card from Hilda Tayor who is engaging herself in Liverpool.
August 16 Friday: In the morning I wrote to Leila Jaffe, Ingram Knowles and Molly Marshall, Alan Morton and Iver Mercer. I had a letter from Alan Morton who is in Liverpool and wanted to see me. It is provoking to miss him like this. I am waiting for the HSC results [Higher School Certificate – Ed.] before writing to Dovaston. I bought a pale yellow shirt for £1.11, Strindberg’s book of short stories, Midsummer Days, and borrowed from the Library that great slandered work On War by Von Clausewitz, and read some of it.
August 17 Saturday: I had ordered the Manchester Guardian from the local newsagent but the miserable incompetent could not get it today. So I wrote to WH Smiths where there are always copies to spare and looked for the results of Dovaston’s examination. He had passed but without any distinctions.
In the afternoon I played chess with the £100 boy and what is more lost twice.
August 18 Sunday: In the morning I wrote to Dovaston and Scholfield congratulating one and telling the other about the black-out. Later I went to Southampton where I collected Cooper, the platform and the Daily Worker, and with him as chairman spoke at the open-air meeting. We had collected a good crowd by the time Ray Watts from Portsmouth took over. I did about 20 and he about 25 minutes. We announced another meeting next week. I then cycled back with Ray Watts.
We stopped at “Bert’s Cafe” on the way, an all-night shack of rather superior standard, and were talking with a young jew who began to run down Mussolini. We told him of what happened on Southampton Common. A woman asked a question at a Fascist meeting near us, and was told to shut up. She replied “Shut up yourself” and received a punch in the face and had to be taken away.
August 19 Monday: I set out in the morning and cycled via Southampton to Bournemouth, on the way back calling on Wally Cooper. One observes with feeling the careless and incompetent driving of motor-cars.
August 20 Tuesday: I finished The Titan and played chess with the £100 boy in the evening, drawing after a long battle. He is very good. I don’t know if he is interesting outside chess. He is very shy. I would put his age as no more than 16. I have heard nothing from Iver Mercer, but received a letter from Alan Morton and a card from Riddell wanting his books back. I wrote to Whittenbury, Scholfield, Riddell and my mother. Enid Greaves has been reading Ernst Toller’s I was a German.
August 21 Wednesday: A letter received by Enid Greaves disclosed that Harley Greaves[his first cousin – Ed.] had had an accident, if the letter is to be believed not too serious. I read Toller’s book and took it back to Boots’s Library with Enid. I bought some maps cheap.
In the evening I called on Hurst who lives in a house-boat, very mysteriously in a very romantic spot. There I obtained the Daily Worker and saw the posters our fellows have been painting for the parade against war on Friday, and a gas-mask that was to be worn to make the show realistic. The boat had been used to chase submarines in the war but now, said Hurst, it couldn’t chase a snail, although it could go out to sea if it was towed. Under the boards literature could be hidden and destroyed if necessary by the simple device of letting the sea in on it.
August 22 Thursday: Very disturbing news came from Dorothy Greaves [his uncle Harry’s wife – Ed.]. It seems that when Harley Greaves was driving his motorcycle with his cousin Eric Roberts on the pillion, another machine, cutting in, struck a car and butted right into them. As a result of this Harley’s arm was badly damaged. Dorothy says, “I saw the doctor last night and he assured me that nothing was permanently wrong.” Mary Greaves who at times has an uncanny ability to grasp situations said, “Hm! ‘I saw the doctor'”, “That means he’s in hospital.” But as for Eric Roberts, he was killed, his thigh and pelvis being fractured and his bladder punctured. No details of time and place were given. Enid and Mary Greaves are very upset. As for me I don’t care very much but have to pretend to. But I am resolved to be as careful as possible.
All day aeroplanes buzzed about the sky in tens and dozens, and innumerable heavy army lorries blocked the roads and made cycling uncomfortable when, in the afternoon, I went up on the downs. I lay in the bracken and read Strindberg. The termperature was 83’F.
In the evening I attended a YCL meeting held jointly with the CP. There were Watts, Hill, Hurst, Cross and a university student from Algeria who is here to learn English. We decided to arrange correspondence between our Socialist clubs, and to meet for a talk on Saturday morning. Joan Warham was there – she joined while I was here last year. They were suspicious of her because she used to speak to Roberts, the Fascist who gave up Fascism.
I never met Eric Roberts, or indeed any of the relations of Harley Greaves’s first wife, who may have been –probably was – called Roberts. I knew she was Welsh. Harley and I had little in common.
August 23 Friday: A letter arrived from Iver Mercer in the morning. He is getting alarmed at the Abyssinian business, and has placed a permanent order for Left Review. He enclosed the Higher School Certificate results. Phyllis has passed English subsidiary. Lever, whom Piggott and Donald Magee know, has failed although he passed last year. Iver Mercer wastes no sympathy on him. He also says that Eric Roberts is dead and “Harley Greaves may be in hospital for some time”– which news I conveyed to Mary Greaves. She has an absurd notion that Enid should be kept as ignorant as possible, lest it spoil her holiday. It is true it might as she is rather fond of Harley. But she would fret for a day and then get used to it. As it is, her ignorance keeps her in perpetual anxiety.
I went to Southampton but it rained in torrents, so I came back after talking with Wally Cooper.
I don’t think I can work out these relationships. Harley Greaves’s first wife was actually Davies. Mrs Mercer’s mother was Davies and probably an aunt of hers. But though Iver Mercer was related to Harley Greaves I do not think they were first cousins. I was not related to Iver Mercer at all.
August 24 Saturday: A more miserable day it would be difficult to imagine. It rained from morning till night. I went to Commercial Road in the morning and read in the Manchester Guardian that George Evans has passed his matriculation. I had letters from my father and Phyllis. We learn that the injury is to Harley’s right arm, but it will not take long healing as such things go.
I called on Roy Watts in the evening and also saw Hill who walked south with me. Watts sold me 5 Inprecors which to my intense chagrin I lost through not fastening the saddle bag of my machine. Bang went 10d. Hill told me he had been flagrantly victimised by the city treasurer’s department. Later he was going to take a room so as to get his dole, but lives with his parents just the same. He told me about agents provocateurs who spy on workers who sunbathe instead of “genuinely seeking work”.
August 25 Sunday: I met the Algerian student Jean Catoni who gave me interesting information. We used English helped out with French, but at times spoke French only. He is a member of the young socialist league. All students at Algiers take part in politics, either Fascist or United Front. There is no great gulf between communists and socialists for both believe in revolution. The professors are mainly left-wing and there is little victimisation. There are 2,600 students there and oddly enough there is a post-au-pair arrangement with Liverpool.
When I reached Southampton I heard that Leo McGree was there. Later I met him on the common. Fippard had promised to be chairman. “Put the platform near that crowd,” he said.
“Pooh, No”, said Leo, “We don’t want a shouting match. We’ve got the loudest voice. But we’ll draw ’em away.” So we put it well away, and asked Fippard to begin. But he looked round the expanse of the common between us and the big crowd where members of the ILP and LP were all throwing pats at each other and whimpered “I don’t feel … ” in a feeble voice. So I had to be chairman. They had seen me last week so I soon gathered a crowd, and then Leo began, and in five minutes had closed down all the other meetings except one held by a religious maniac. I waited till 9 pm., then returned at 10.30 pm.
August 26 Monday: Today more definite news of Harley’s Greaves’s accident arrived. It occurred on a Sunday night at Hooton Cross Roads (A41, A55O, B5 and 36) and the inquest on Roberts is adjourned until he comes out of hospital. The bone of his right elbow is chipped. It is interesting to observe that Mary Greaves, who so strenuously protected Enid from all information, now claimed the pleasurable monopoly of “breaking” it to her, in all its marvellous details. Then came the moralising. She hopes he has “learned his lesson”.
I read William Morris’s News from Nowhere.
August 27 Tuesday: In the morning I read Clausewitz and in the afternoon went to say goodbye to Southampton. Leo McGree had held the crowd all evening, and taken a collection of 7/-. Mosley was coming on September 8th and Leo had gone to the Jewish community for money to print leaflets against him. So all is going well. I returned to Portsmouth.
August 28 Wednesday: It came to my ears that the dockyards have been working overtime all this week preparing the navy for battle. Fort Cumberland was firing things into the sea. Aeroplanes were starting in formation. And a few days ago there was an aircraft carrier, a horrible thing called (bless us!) “Glorious”. I read it is now at Gibraltar. The fleet being home there is an odd sight to be seen in the streets of Portsmouth, squads of half a dozen sailors patrolling for drunks and disorderlies to save the police trouble. People who expected to be home for months have been ordered abroad. So it looks as if something is coming.
When I saw Mrs Collings (Walter’s girl friend) I heard of a dirty trick the police did on Sunday. They removed the notices “Public meetings may be held here” from Burgoyne Road to where the Fascists held their meetings. When the CP held their meeting in the usual place their names and addresses were taken. But Joan Winter, whom I saw, doesn’t care two hoots. The meetings will go on.
August 29 Thursday: I cycled to Arundel, Worthing and Brighton, where I called on Mrs Cree, who knew Leo McGree, and then I went to the famous cafe that has a workers’ bookshop upstairs. I bought some Inprecors. It seems that Watts used to be in Brighton and was very wobbly. Now he is better than his would-be mentors.
Then I went on to Croydon via Crawley and Redhill. There was some dreadful account of how Baldwin’s dog had eaten the Clancy’s cat. Clancy has lost his job and is opening a pub in Cheltenham. “Aunt Em” (neé McMath) [probably a grand-aunt – Ed.] was there. She has been very ill.
August 3O Friday: I went into Croydon merrily enough. But merriment turned into disaster, disaster into woe, and finally woe into tragedy. First it began to rain. Then it drenched torrents. My old cape let water through and soaked my trousers. Just by the Elephant and Castle my free-wheel suddenly became fixed. This happened in a traffic block, else I might have been killed. What must I do then but walk into Waterloo, find the bridge closed, and have to traipse all the way round Blackfriars, and then to 16 King Street [CPGB Headquarters in London – Ed. ] where I left my machine. I took the train to Putney [where his Aunt Mabel and her husband George Peachey lived – Ed.] and bought some whiskey against a chill. I learned that the Fascists have been chalking all the walls in the West End. There was jubilation in King Street at the rain that will wash it away. The man in the bookshop knows Bernard Paul.
August 31 Saturday: I took an early train to Waterloo, collected my bicycle from King Street, wheeled it back to Waterloo and took a fast train to Portsmouth where I alighted at Fralton and left it to be repaired. I was just in time for lunch. News came that Harley Greaves’s accident occurred as he was travelling south in the morning. A car swerved and knocked a motorcycle into his back wheel, killing Roberts and ruining the machine. He expects his elbow will be better by Christmas and meanwhile writes with his left hand.
Awaiting me was a letter from Dovaston saying that he had been doing a great deal of swimming and had lost interest in the movement, and decided to take no active part in it next term as his people had the shop in economic hold over him. He is still interested in history and looks forward to seeing me when the university opens.
A letter from Iver Mercer said he had his bicycle at Blynhill and that he would cycle to Newport to meet me – a great concession for him, for he loathes cycling.
I remember the bicycle incident. I think the person who allowed me to leave it in King St was the redoubtable Beatrice Marx. But I can’t recall the nature of the accident. I used a heavy tank of a Hercules, then with a Sturmey-Archer three-speed gear. If it had turned into a fixed wheel it could have been ridden. I never remember this happening. A more likely theory is that the chain no longer activated the axle. This does happen, and “became fixed” is a witticism.
September 1 Sunday: In the morning I wrote to Iver Mercer. Later I met Catoni and he told me that at Algiers the Fascists outnumber the United Front by two to one. They decided to have a strike against a Bulgarian lecturer. Only three attended the lecture as there was a howling mob outside waiting for them. The United Front rescued the three by rope to the window of a room above. He says the faculty of Arts is most advanced politically, but many of them are women so they get the worst of it when it comes to fisticuffs. Catoni is really a Corsican and he knows Italian. He told of his horror of conscription, how he is due for two years of it, and how brutalising and disgusting it is. The French police are far worse than the British. He was astonished when I asked a policeman some question. They would never let somebody off who, for example, was riding without a bicycle lamp. Also open-air meetings amaze him. How can Fascists and Communists speak on the Common without fighting?
I called on Joan Winter in the afternoon. She said we were going to defy the police ban and that Miss O’Shea, the ex-suffragette, was coming and they relied on me. They promised that the YCL would pay all fines, as long as I was prepared to take the risk. When I got down there at 7.45 pm. I heard that John Gibbons had sent a wire saying he would be back at 8.30. He had come from Moscow and would make an anti-war speech on the common. Accordingly I was put up at 7.55 and spoke until 8.45. About halfway through I made some remarks about Princess Marina and the king.
“Leave royalty out of it,” somebody shouted. I went on with what I was saying. “Pull him off the platform,” another shouted. “Righto. Come on,” said a third. “Bugger off now!” said Cross, and one of them threatened to punch his jaw. But Cross appealed to the crowd to witness the operations of agents provocateurs, and several people came in and moved them off. Another tried to pose awkward questions but I silenced him with sarcasm. By the time I finished I had several hundred. Then Gibbons got up and gave a very fine address, but I did not hear all of it. I went for coffee with Catoni as my voice had lasted but was hoarse. There were two plain-clothes men taking notes. At the end several people complimented me, especially Gibbons. He said I spoke in the right vein and got close to them, but presented the old party line not the new one, but it didn’t matter [presumably the class-against-class as against the popular front position of the Comintern – Ed.]. He said the Comintern Congress was the finest experience of his life [ie. the 7th World Congress of the Comintern in 1935 at which the Popular Front policy was approved, partly in response to the Nazi takeover in Germany – Ed.].
September 2 Monday: I left Portsmouth at about 8.30 am and cycled through Fareham (where I got some Spartina for Dovaston), Batley, Twyford, Winchester, Andover, Devizes, Chippenham, Malmesbury, Tetbury and Stroud and reached Gloucester at 8.30 pm. There were showers all the time. Indeed one of them kept me for an hour under an emaciated beech tree on the very highest point of Salisbury plain, where I was also caught up in military manoeuvres with tanks and other contraptions of which it would be hard for me to give a name to.
I had intended to make Bristol, but as the wind was blowing a gale from the SW, I decided to go north while the going was good and break the back of the journey the first day. The new route was superior to the old Newbury route, also to the old Marlborough-Swindon, but not as good as Oxford-Reading, though shorter. I found a place in Gloucester, ate baked beans, walked round the park, and retired.
September 3 Tuesday: I left Gloucester at 9.30 am. and sent a telegram to Iver Mercer. The weather began well but suddenly deteriorated at Worcester, so that I had to buy a new cape. I lunched at Ombersley and then did one of my quickest journeys, leaving Ombersley at 1.45 pm. and reaching Wellington at 4.15. But Iver Mercer was not there. Thinking the rain had delayed him I turned East along the A5 and finally came to his village, just within Staffordshire, a mile from the A5 and A41 crossroads. After calling on the parson and others I tracked him down to a small cottage. Mrs Mercer was there and invited me to stay the night.
We went for a walk and then sat talking till 2.30 am., and there was great debate between Mrs Mercer and myself. She argued as follows:
1. When the Labour Party had accepted the United Front the CP had deceived them, for example over the route, when Sid Hills was attacked on a platform he had joined. I said all the deception was not on the one side and we could let sleeping dogs lie.
2. The CP was full of riff-raff, coiners and libellers. Asked for names she offered Bishop, Morris, Greenwood, Rawlings (coiners) and Coffey (the libeller). I replied of these only Rawlings was left, and it was not established that he was a coiner. She agreed the personnel had changed.
3. That communists talked too long and obstructed Trades Council meetings and therefore she was in favour of the black circular [Labour Party ban on joint Labour and Communist meetings – Ed.]. Also they accused the Labour Party of bad faith when this was untrue, as well as when it might be true. I replied that their excess zeal was moderated now and there was now no excuse.
4. The CP had opposed Labour candidates. I explained the basis on which it had been done and she was forced to admit it was fair.
5. Anyway she didn’t believe in the tail wagging the dog. I replied that at present it was a case of two separate animals who were in a position to come to an agreement in their common interests.
She spoke interestingly about local affairs. The secret of the Labour Party’s strength is its ability to link Trade Unionism with municipal politics. She explained her aversion to Merseyside coordination and seemed to have proved her case. Also her housing and health policy was of interest. She is afraid that the Labour Party’s weakness over the Jubilee (not supporting it) may lose the elections just at the most crucial moment. I was talking in bed with Iver Mercer till 4 am.
The telegram must have been intended to substitute Wellington for Newport, I can’t think why. I think I did not know exactly where Blynhill was till I got to Wellington. Iver Mercer always said it was in Salop and I remember being surprised that it was in Stafford. But I never returned through Wellington because of the hills. My usual route from Worcester was via Kidderminster and Wolverhampton which would have brought me within a mile of Blynhill. I think the telegram had not arrived.
September 4 Wednesday: I went for a walk with Iver Mercer in the morning, then, after further discussion with Mrs Mercer, and telling them of my adventures in the South, I cycled away at 4.30 pm., calling first at Newport, and on to Whitechurch and Chester. I left Newport at 6 pm. and reached Prenton by 11. It rained a good part of the way. Now Mrs Mercer had been to see “Aunty Annie”, as Eric Roberts’s mother is called, and had heard that Harley Greaves is in a much worse way than Enid Greaves was told, for there is a possibility of a charge of manslaughter. AEG [his mother-Ed.] amplified this, and added that Harley got up to all kinds of tricks to get money for his wretched vehicle and the gossip is about the whole town.
September 5 Thursday: In the morning I rested, but in the afternoon both Halliday and Alan Hodge called, knowing in some mysterious way that I was back. Hodge told of how he was in Staines and a bus strike was spreading, but Citrine [Walter Citrine, British TUC leader – Ed.] pusillanimously called it off. I told him how a man I met in Newport saw 50 aeroplanes go north along the A41, and how a friend of the man was obliged to wait three weeks for a new Morris axle because the firm was executing only aeroplane orders and had breached its axle production. He also reported a clipping from The Times which said that the CP had doubled its membership in the past few months and officials of Scotland Yard were carefully watching it.
Later I rang Molly Marshall. There was trouble and I went out there to hear about it. It seems that Larsen, a Swede whose house was the playground of the Woodcraft Folk, was arrested for a series of burglaries extending over several years. He had burgled almost every house in the district. But what was most disgusting was the attitude of the Owens. Molly Marshall thinks Larsen innocent. I don’t think it likely, not after three years. But Mrs Owen who had been treated so well by her is almost in tears – “Most dreadful woman! Why did I know her?” They have burnt their party cards. “And you know, Greaves,” Molly Marshall said to me, “I couldn’t help thinking all the time of what you said, that Mrs Owen had only joined the party to keep an eye on her husband.” Apparently the Co-op Guild has supported Larsen very well, and Ingram Knowles has gone bail for him.
September 6 Friday: I called on Tickell in the afternoon but he was out. I also called on Edge who is home but says he is going to Deganwy over the week-end.
September 7 Saturday: I saw RiddelI and Mrs Barraskill. The former was quite willing to let our Sunday meeting go hang. I disagreed, and undertook to organise one and speak myself if necessary. Mrs Barraskill said Rawlings had not sold so much as a ha’penny pamphlet while I was away. He had spoken off a chair instead of the lorry. Everything was NUWM [National Unemployed Workers Movement – Ed.], and their room, as her husband said, was “nothing but a place out of the rain for a lot of bloody Catholics that would do ye no guid anyway”. I went to Liverpool 3, but could get no speaker. Everybody seems to be going to Manchester. I arranged for an ILP platform, also went to Hoylake to book Hadwin as chairman. He was out, but proceeding to Irby Mill Hill where Bowman and Lunan are encamped, I persuaded them to visit him again tomorrow morning.
Tickell arrived, full of stories of Germany, and Halliday called to say a Russian flower had borne fruit in the greenhouse of an old gardener in Heathbank Road. I called in the afternoon and Bryce Halliday took me round to see it. Again in the evening I called on Ingram Knowles and Molly Marshall and later we rang up Moore who had just reached home full of enthusiasm for the United Front in France. I then went to see Moore who was of the opinion that our lorry would be better than the ILP platform. News has come through that there is a ship loaded with ammunition at Bromborough which is bound for East Africa despite the government ban on arms export to that area [This was the time of Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia – Ed.].
September 8 Sunday: I saw Knowles again, also Moore. I arranged with Davies the docker to do the chalking [ie. on walls, buildings and road surfaces to advertise meetings – Ed.]. I hear that people are coming long distances to hear our speakers. I went to Ebbages for some new pamphlets and to West Kirby to arrange for another speaker, Heaton. So in the evening Hadwin was chairman and I spoke for 3-4 hours on Abyssinia. Then Heaton spoke. I saw Moore and Hadwin afterwards and found myself lauded as a prodigy: ” How you hold that crowd!” exclaimed Moore. “We didn’t need Heaton.” People had come asking who I was as I “seemed to have it all at my finger tips”. We are going to have a brand new platform made.
September 9 Monday: In the evening there was an aggregate at which my policy on the municipal elections was adopted. We next sent a letter to the Trades Council offering assistance on as easy terms as possible. This will make it hard for them to operate the black circular. For this reason we agreed to send it quickly and then if they do not read it we will read it out at our meeting and get somebody to go over to the Labour Party meeting to ask about it. On Saturday we were told that a whole gang of dockers were taken on to scrape and clean a Blue Funnel liner intended to take troops to Aden. Two new people have come to live here, from Kent. The wife was secretary of the FSU district of Kent. This godsend will lighten things considerably. Their names are JJ. and NJf. and their ages are about 24.
The ham-fisted and mechanical way we went about looking for unity with people was typical. The last thing we thought of was to get to know them personally. JJ. – Jim Jeffery and NJf., Nora Jeffery, used the alias Brett. She was originally Liverpool, he a Londoner.
September 10 Tuesday: In the morning I had my typewriter overhauled by a mechanic from Dale Street. In the afternoon I called on Alan Hodge, who is greatly radicalised, having read Ten days that shook the world. We listened to Beethoven’s Song Cycle, and very fine it is too. After that I called on Miss Fitton who, along with Beeks and Mrs Paul (grinning like a genial Sphinx) has moved to 1 Canning Street, where Stevenson also is expected to settle. AK Holland has joined the SCR. Whittenbury is doing some posters. Miss Fitton is a very competent person. With her and Leila Jaffe all should be well.
I then went to the Botanical Society meeting and saw Dovaston. Atherton was there and there seems to have been some rapprochement between them. I gave Dovaston the Spartina he had asked for, and arranged for a cycling trip this week.
September 11 Wednesday: I was at Moore’s drafting our letter to the Labour Party when Tickell called. Mrs Barraskill came also, and Ingram Knowles. In the middle of things Rawlings rushed in declaring that his NUWM meeting had been chalked a week too soon and could I speak at it. I declined. I called on Tickell but he was out. Then I called on Edge only to find he was still at Deganwy.
September 12 Thursday: In the morning I called on Moore, having sent the letter to the Labour Party. Tickell called. He said the Comintern decisions had brought him much nearer the CP. He called again at 6 pm. on the way to a meeting of the Merseyside Armaments Protest Committee. We jointly called on Moore and brought him Dimitrov’s pamphlets [Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgarian communist leader, was a leading exponent of the United Front policy – Ed.]. He promised to assist with research. Finally Edge called having been bored to death at Deganwy but unable to get away.
September 13 Friday: I called on Moore with letters to be distributed to all Labour Party councillors. Then Dovaston came. We went to Mold and Llanferris. Whom should we see on the Eastham by-pass but Whelan, who came with us to Mold. Dovaston and I climbed Foel Greon, and then came back to Prenton to drink tea.
Now it so happened that Mr Bullock, Mr Egan’s bitterest personal enemy, was chairman of the housing committee of the late Conservative Council. He decided to expose the frightful overcrowding and bad sanitation of the Dock Cottages, corporation tenements taken over from the Dock Board in 1926, and adroitly threw the blame on the Labour Party, who had canvassed them and must have known them. In this I saw a golden opportunity for the party. I called on Edge in the evening and took him up there. The Advertiser had written, “For obvious reasons we withhold the names of the tenants.” But we got them. We were shown over the whole place, and heard many interesting things. Accordingly we returned to Moore’s and rang up the Daily Worker. We had been mistaken for the reporters of the Birkenhead News. We decided to start a Tenants League with a meeting on Tuesday.
[No entry for Saturday 14 September in the original]
September 15 Sunday: In the morning I called on Tickell who is coming along quite well. His girl friend is Labour. He took Pollitt’s pamphlet. In the afternoon Edge called with the local policies material, and Alan Hodge called for a while. But I had to attend the LPC where I gave an outline of a municipal policy I was asked to incorporate in a report to Wednesday’s aggregate.
I saw Edge and we went down to the Park Entrance in the evening, where I started off the meeting, read the United Front letter and handed over to Martin, a miner from St Helen’s and a very good man. While he was speaking I returned to 124 Mount Rd. to see if Iver Mercer had called but he hadn’t. On the way back I met Hodge who had been there and found it quite exciting. He had bought a Daily Worker. At the end of it all I saw Moore. The Peace Council is launched.
September 16 Monday: In the morning I sent my Suicide to Left Review and called on Hodge who was out. At the group in the evening Farrington, Jim Jeffery and Nora Jeffery were present and we planned the production of a local party paper. Jeffery was at Cambridge and indeed brought Waring into the party. Now he is teaching at the Institute. I told him about Iver Mercer, Guthrie and George Evans [leftwing student friends of Greaves’s, but younger than he, at Birkenhead Institute – Ed.].
September 17 Tuesday: I went to Mossley Hall in the morning and heard that Scholfield had gone home and let his flat to Brian White and another ex-party person, the two of them being out for first class degrees. Whittenbury had not been heard of for a fortnight, having contracted the notion that there was no CP in Liverpool, that it was only a students’ dream. The group is in havoc. Riddell has developed an anti-sanction deviation which I had my work cut out to correct [presumably relating to advocacy of sanctions on Italy because of its invasion of Abyssinia – Ed.]. His brother is on the staff of the Moscow Daily News in Moscow, I trust in a very subordinate capacity. Riddell is as bumptious as ever. Later I went to Ebbage and secured 30 copies of Tenant versus Landlord for the meeting tonight. I then saw Fairbrother and obtained a ream of paper and 6 Ellans stencils for the paper. I called on Whittenbury but he was out. Edge had called while I was away. After seeing Clive Moore and the Daily Worker with our article in it (they did not send the extra copies requested) I had tea and called on Edge. We collected the literature from Moore and went to the Dock Cottages. But as it had rained all day with the barometer at 28-72, and no chalk had been put down, we postponed the meeting till Friday when we may get Leo McGree.
At the Park Entrance there was a debate in progress between a Conservative and a Labour man (Noonan). Rawlings asked Sid Hills if our letter had come up at the Labour Party executive. He replied that he had not been present at it. We held a short discussion – Edge, myself and Nora Jeffery – and decided on a petition to secure a certificate of disrepair, and we drafted a leaflet with which to invite all tenants to a meeting. Nora Jeffery took the stencil and promised to type it. Finally Edge and I left Jim Jeffery’s place and returned to Moore’s where to our horror we found somebody had stolen our bicycle lamps and we walked home grumbling.
At the Trades Council meeting yesterday a resolution was passed condemning Citrine for accepting a title, also a resolution to set up an all-in Peace Council. Time was deliberately wasted and our and other correspondence was not read.
September 18 Wednesday: In the morning I wrote the party paper which I gave to Jim Jeffery in the evening. In the afternoon I called on Hodge and we walked to Gayton. He told me of how a Daily Herald canvasser said, “Some people think the Daily Herald is a socialist paper. But I can prove to you that it is not. Look at this book. Look at the Royalty in it. 25 years of facts given away free.”
In the evening I went to the aggregate which was attended by Edge, Moore, Oldershaw, Jim Jeffery, Nora Jeffery and many others. I gave a report on municipal politics and the United Front in Birkenhead. After that there was a long discussion, and the quality of the meeting, and the general nip in the air as various successes were reported, stood in not a little contrast to similar aggregates a year ago. At the end Edge said he had seen Jackson and is going to see Salinger. I am writing a lyric sequence.
September 19 Thursday: There was a party crisis today – in a tea-cup. It was over who was to be delegate to the party conference. Moore had proposed Hadwin. I had proposed Oldershaw, and Gilbertson and Moore Mrs Barraskill, who tied with Riddell in the voting. Riddell was so furious that he withdrew and has said he will give no help with our meeting at the Dock Cottages tomorrow, no chalking, no anything. It was Clive Moore who told me this, and I went straight to Mrs Barraskill who said that Riddell had attacked Moore in no uncertain terms but not me.
Now in the afternoon, having received a letter from the Daily Worker, I went via Chester to Wrexham and Ronciau, returning via Cefn y hedd. At Ronciau I had a long talk with Tom Jones and we decided to try to revive the Daily Worker sales in Wrexham, where they have fallen through. Last night I had arranged for Edge to distribute leaflets at the Dock Cottages. I hope he did it. Later Ingram Knowles rang up.
Tom Jones was subsequently in the International Brigade.
September 20 Friday: In the morning I heard that Riddell had blown up again, this time to Clive Moore because Edge had not helped him to distribute the leaflets. So I went a second time to Mrs Barraskills’ and heard her tale. Riddell’s indignation was directed mainly against Clive Moore, the weakest link in the anti-Joe Rawlings bloc. But he had weakened his position by holding an NUWM meeting on Sunday when JR Campbell was coming. Asked about it he said, “Who the hell is Campbell?” “Well”, said Mrs Barraskill, “he’s one of the leaders of our party.” So Joe is not in a position to attack anybody. But we were put under the necessity of getting another speaker. So I rang up Edge and sent him to the Haymarket. He eventually came back promising Joe Byrne. It seems that Joe and Smith had kept him waiting for three quarters of an hour while they played billiards. In the evening I went up to the Dock Cottages and climbed on a chair to start the meeting, after which Joe Byrne got up and I went away to speak to the 12th Birkenhead Rover Scouts. There were about 40 there and Owen was quite pleased. I spoke from the peace angle.
September 21 Saturday: I called on Edge in the morning and heard that the Tenants’ League is started with a merry old militant once assisted by the NUWM as secretary. I was going to Ronciau in the afternoon, but it rained. I distributed some notices for tomorrow in Bromborough, and then at 5.15 pm. Ingram Knowles came to have tea. He is home for the week-end. Edge came also.
Then I called at 9 CR to find that Iver Mercer had gone to Guthrie’s. I stayed talking with Phyllis Mercer and Mrs Mercer until 10 pm. The father shows no hostility now, possibly owing to the party decision to support them in the election. But Mrs Mercer defended the Dock Cottages – they did give you a shock at first, but after all there were worse slums! But Phyllis Mercer is greatly radicalised by unemployment and feels quite desperate. One of the ironies of the situation is that Mrs Mercer is fighting the ward in which the Dock Cottages are situated owing to McVey’s having been made Alderman. If she loses, gone are her chances of Parliament. Again the divisions in the National Labour Party have a local effect.
September 22 Sunday: I got up early and wrote the party paper which I took to Jim Jeffery at 11 am. While Nora Jeffery was typing the stencils I went to the Haymarket for the machine that joins sheets together, and commandeered it. Then we mended the duplicator and printed The Searchlight. It was on sale at the afternoon meeting in the Independent Labour Party Hall when JR Campbell reported on the Comintern Congress. Edge and Hodge were there, and Riddell introduced me to a Marxist medical named Rn., who is quite good. Campbell made an excellent speech. Hodge declared the proceedings “exciting”, especially the episode when Campbell grew excited in refuting some objections. Coffey made a contribution in which he denounced Moore, Riddell and Hadwin but nothing came of it. At midday Iver Mercer called. I met him at the Park Entrance and came back to 124 Mount Road with him. Later we went to Moore’s to talk to Campbell. Guthrie has bought Capital and Mercer has been thrilled by State and Revolution.
September 23 Monday: I went to the Education building in the afternoon, meeting Ruby Berry, Piggott and Miss Beatty. Halliday had called in the morning but refused to disclose his plans. Jackson is doing research after all. We listened to a great deal of rubbish from Campagnac and after learning how many duties we had – all of them voluntary but their non-performance attended by palpable sanctions – we went away. I called on Alan Hodge and we walked quite a long way to where Edge and Jim Jeffery were starting the Tenants’ League in the Dock Cottages. He brought me Ten days that shook the world a few days ago and I have started reading it. Also I showed him my lyric sequence which he says is the finest thing I have ever done.
Rn. mentioned under 22/9 was John Rogerson, brother of Maud Rogerson who married a leading Indian(?) communist. The lyric sequence must have been The New World Fantasia published in By The Clock ‘Tis Day [in 1946 – Ed.] and dated September 1935 in that collection. I felt for many years that I had started here a new departure in English poetry by incorporating in it the rhythmic techniques of music. I remember Leslie Daikin saying, “Listen to those rhythms.” The Prometheus Variations are in it, and there are repetitions taken from “An die geliebte enfernte” of Beethoven. But I think I would now say with the older Beethoven, “Plenty of emotion, but little art“.
September 24 Tuesday: In the morning Campagnac [Professor of Education – Ed.] droned on again. I talked for a long time with Rogerson. A card from Scholfield said he would be in Liverpool on Thursday. I replied to it. Phyllis departed for Leeds yesterday and a card arrived today announcing her safe arrival.
In the afternoon I called on Miss Carr, and after tea I was taken by Sawen to the Wavertree Labour Club where I spoke to a rather meagre gathering on Abyssinia. ID Hughes, friend of Ivor Jones pére, was there, also Egerton Stafford and his wife. I called at Edge’s but he was out.
Professor MacLean Thompson sent Gwyneth to find me. When I went to see him he swore that some books Dr Knight got me from the Linnaean Society were so overdue that she was liable to a huge fine. As I wasn’t impressed he added that she was liable to lose her fellowship of the society. However I went home, meeting Hodge on the way, and brought the books over to her. She was quite unperturbed, liable to neither fines nor suspensions, and very apologetic over my having to make a special journey. So this illustrates Alan Morton’s thesis that the Professor lies from habit as much as the wish to deceive. Dr Knight is anyway a Vice-President of the Linnaean Society.
September 25 Wednesday: Today I did not go into the city. I saw Miss Fitton at Moore’s and heard that the SCR seems to be going quite well. Leila Jaffe is home. Jim Jeffery is now in the teachers’ group with Beth Carr, Beeles and others. I saw Alan Hodge and went to the Library borrowing Public Ill Health, the score of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Plato’s Republicwhich Campagnac’s lectures are to deal with, and rubbishy things they look like being. I am thinking of starting another opus, but I have never got round to the book on art.
September 26 Thursday: In the morning I went to another stupid lecture, and then to a barmier, if barmier is possible, thing called a tutorial class. I never before in the whole of my life met such a collection of boobies and nincompoops in one room. Then there was an audition with Dr Wallace because singing in a choir has become compulsory this year.
After that I had lunch and saw Rogerson who is in my opinion approachable to join the party. Then I went to Scholfield’s and saw him and Brian White who is living there. Scholfield has bought a car, and he drove me first to see Beatrice Ellsby, and then to Whittenbury who was out and finally to Ivor Jones who has swung to the left. Then we went back to Devonshire Road and had barely finished a meal of bacon and mushrooms when Tickell came in looking like a ghost. He went back for a touching farewell with the fair lady, and then came in to retail his woes. He then explained that a week or so ago he let drop at home the fact that he had this girl after he had difficulties through getting home late at night. What was worse she was of the working class and had had only an elementary education. There were some equivocal references in his diary which his parents read. His mother blew up and accused him of associating with demireps and bawds and declared that the devil must have got into him. The more they upbraided him the more obstinate he got. Finally they told him to choose between the girl and his university education, and he at once chose the girl. “So I’m kicked out of university!” he said. After that they stopped his money. He registered at the Labour Exchange and told a mournful story about the brilliant young student losing his fortune and having to get work. But there was no work to be got. He couldn’t get a job because he hadn’t a decent suit to get one in, and his parents refused to buy him one. Finally he saw the light in Scholfield’s window and came in. He also wanted some food which we supplied.
I advised Tickell to win his father over and accept his father’s advice in dealing with his mother, as I suspected jealousy on her part. He himself must eat humble pie at least till his father had paid his fees. He must ostensibly give up the girl, but could recover her later and see it was kept dark.
September 27 Friday: Today I am 22. And what a day! In the morning I decided not to attend a lecture on hygiene and physiology. I just couldn’t stand it. At 11 am. I saw Tickell who had thought over my plan and decided to operate it. A university degree was not to be sneezed at. We went along to see Brian White and Scholfield for a moment. Scholfield is to assist Miss Fitton to distribute bills outside the Playhouse on Friday. Also he promises to run me up to Glasgow in November to start the group there. I left Tickell at Lewis’s and went on to the boat. There I saw Aileen Allen who has also been accepted by Campagnac on a no-certificate basis. She said – and Piggott also said – I had not missed much this morning. She added that she had started to do pottery and weaving and that over half the students had attended a second lecture on religion and the library was crammed with people studying for dear life.
I was seized by an overwhelming conviction that this was no place for me, and I decided to leave the university. The disadvantages are so plain and the compensations so nebulous that there was no point in it. In the afternoon Alan Hodge called and was thrilled when I told him of my momentous impulse. It was almost poetic in its inspired suddenness, and he told me the life-history of Rimbaud again, as is his custom when anything unusual happens in Prenton. We walked to Barnston. I called on Edge at 6 pm. and he was if anything even more excited than Hodge. He thought I could probably get a job with the party as an organiser. I might do a little private tuition and knock out some kind of a living till something more solid turned up. Edge was going to the Dock Cottages. I walked as far as Jim Jeffery’s with him and then returned to listen to the Beethoven Concert.
I told AEG [his mother – Ed.] my opinion that there was nothing for me in the Education course and that I proposed to consult Dempsey [the local Education Officer – Ed.] and Harry Greaves [his uncle – Ed.], who was however out when I called later on.
September 28 Saturday: Today was part of yesterday, and when I became tired it was two days’ tiredness, not one. I rang up Dempsey and fixed an appointment for 11.3O am. He told me it was useless to waste my time with Campagnac and indeed showed certain symptoms of irritation with that gentleman. The local authorities have no control over him and would like to have it. After lunch I called on Harry Greaves. He said that the city education authorities are as tired of Campagnac’s arbitrariness as the Birkenhead ones. Campagnac merely takes people to fill his course. They are not there to earn their livings but to earn his; so the experts agree.
September 29 Sunday: I saw Moore in the morning. In the evening I spoke at the Park Entrance with Moore as chairman. Hodge was there.
September 30 Monday: In the day I saw Edge. Jackson was there. I went later to a joint Liverpool and Birkenhead Local Party Committee. Herman was there. He is staying in Liverpool three months in hopes of starting a sub-district. But Bootle and Liverpool branches spend all their time squabbling. Edge went to the Dock Cottages.
GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 2, INDEX 1934-5
1 November 1934 – 30 September 19
– Aesthetics and verse: 11.3, 11.13, 11.22, 12.3, 12.10, 12.31, 1.17, 1.19, 1.24, 2.9, 2.13-14, 2.24, 3.22-23, 3.28, 3.31, 4.7, 4.12, 5.7, 5.9, 5.25, 6.28, 6.30, 7.4, 7.17, 7.26, 8.3, 8.9, 9.16, 9.18, 9.23, 9.25
– Assessments of others: 11.3-4, 11.19, 11.26, 11.29, 12.13, 12.28, 12.31, 1.7, 1.9, 1.13, 1.18, 2.1, 2.14-15, 2.21, 2.24-25, 2.27, 3.1, 3.14, 3.19, 3.21-23, 3.26, 3.28-29, 4.3, 4.4-5, 4.11-12, 4.17, 4.20-21, 5.4, 5.8-9, 5.14-15, 5.17, 5.26, 6.13, 6.16, 6.18-19, 6.22, 6.29-30, 7.2, 7.4, 7.7, 7.9-10, 7.17, 7.29, 8.2-3, 8.23, 9.23, 9.26
– Chess: 11.23, 11.30, 12.22, 1.28, 2.27, 3.30, 4.4, 6.13, 8.10, 8.17, 8.20
– Communism/socialism: 11.19, 3.21, 4.4, 4.9, 4.17, 5.4, 5.17, 5.26, 7.17, 7.21, 7.26
– and Environment/Ecology: 12.4, 12.28
– Family relations: 8.6, 8.22, 8.29
– and Fascism/Nazism: 3.6, 3.9, 3.13, 4.23, 4.29, 6.7, 6.17, 7.9, 8.18, 8.27-28, 8.30-31, 9.1
– Holidays/cycle trips: 4.10, 4.20-21, 5.6, 7.13, 7.19, 7.25, 8.7-8, 8.30-31, 9.2-3
– Ireland and Irish affairs: 2.18, 2.24, 5.11, 5.27
– Journal: 6.21, 8.4
– and Meteorology: 2.1, 2.8, 4.10, 5.18, 6.23
– Music: 1.24, 2.13, 3.23, 5.10, 5.25, 910
– National question: 4.9
– Peace movement/war danger: 11.3, 11.8, 11.9, 5.10, 7.24, 7.26-28, 8.10, 8.14, 8.21, 9.1-2, 9.5, 9.12, 9.20
– Pen-pal: 7.25
– Political development: 11.3-4, 11.9, 11.21, 11.30, 1.4, 1.25-26, 3.7, 3.18, 3.22, 3.28, 3.31, 4.1, 4.4, 4.8, 4.20, 5.1, 5.4, 5.17, 5.19, 5.26, 5.29-31, 6.1, 6.3, 6.12, 6.15, 6.29-30, 7.1, 7.16, 7.19, 7.26-7, 8.1, 8.3, 9.1, 9.9, 9.13, 9.15, 9.18, 9.22, 9.27
– Profession, professional work: 3.21, 6.5, 6.12, 7.6, 7.26, 9.27
– Public speaking: 11.7, 3.8, 5.14, 11.7, 7.27, 8.18, 8.25, 9.1, 9.7-8, 9.20
– Reading: 11.14, 11.22, 11.27, 12.26, 1.30, 2.2, 2.25, 3.2, 3.10, 3.23, 4.16-18, 4.24, 5.1, 5.9-10, 5.16, 5.19, 5.26, 5.29, 6.12, 7.2, 7.5, 7.6-7, 7.10, 7.17, 7.21, 7.22-23, 7.25, 8.1, 8.3, 8.9, 8.12, 8.16, 8.21-22, 8.26, 9.23, 9.25
– Religion: 3.5, 5.16, 6.16, 7.5, 8.11
– Science/Philosophy: 11.14, 11.19, 2.4, 3.1-2
– Self-assessments: 11.7, 11.14, 11.19, 11.21, 12.3, 12.13-14, 12.28, 1.7, 1.9-10, 1.31, 2.19, 2.23, 3.1, 3.8, 3.19, 3.21, 4.9, 4.12, 4.17, 4.25, 4.30, 5.9-10, 5.13-15, 5.17, 5.29, 6.15, 6.29, 7.5, 7.9-10, 7.23, 7.26-27, 8.3, 8.22, 9.8, 9.27
– Sex, love, women: 11.30, 2.18-19, 2.21, 2.25, 3.14, 3.28, 4.3, 4.5, 5.9, 5.17, 5.31, 6.3-4, 6.12, 6.17-18, 6.29, 7.18, 7.24, 9.26
– University studies: 12.3, 12.10, 12.17-18, 1.9-10, 2.23, 2.27-8, 3.2, 3.4, 3.6, 5.2, 5.10, 5.31, 6.3, 6.5-6, 6.8, 6.10-13, 6.24-26, 7.4-6, 7.8, 7.26, 9.23, 9.25-27
– Wales and Welsh affairs: 4.9
Organisation Names Index
Birkenhead Institute school: 1.31, 2.4, 2.24, 3.9, 4.27, 6.1, 7.24
Birkenhead Youth Anti-War Movement: 11.8, 11.21, 5.28
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 11.3, 11.21, 1.4, 1.6-8, 1.26, 1.31, 3.27, 4.4, 4.6, 4.8-9, 4.15, 4.17, 4.19, 4.24, 4.26, 4.29, 5.1, 5.5, 5.7, 5.19, 5.25, 5.29, 6.1, 6.15, 6.17, 6.19, 7.2, 7.7, 7.16, 7.21, 7.26, 7.28-29, 9.13, 9.22
Educational Workers’ League: 2.1, 5.21
Federation of Student Societies (FSS): 11.3-4, 3.27, 5.29
Independent Labour Party (ILP): 1.24, 4.7, 4.12, 5.17, 6.1, 6.18, 7.14, 7.22, 8.25, 9.7, 9.22
Labour League of Youth (LLY): 11.4, 3.22, 5.29
Labour Party (British): 4.9, 4.29, 6.30, 7.7, 7.22, 7.29, 8.1, 8.3, 8.25, 9.3, 9.13, 9.17,9.21
Liverpool Botanical Society: 11.23, 12.4, 12.24, 2.11, 4.2
New Labour Club: 6.20, 6.23, 6.28-29, 7.1, 7.26, 8.3
Plaid Cymru: 4.9
Socialist Society (Soc.Soc.), Liverpool University: 11.9, 11.30, 3.15, 3.18, 3.22, 3.27-8, 4.17, 5.29-30, 6.1, 6.3, 6.15, 6.18, 6.20, 7.1, 8.3
Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR (SCR): 11.8-9, 11.19, 11.21, 11.29, 12.1, 12.7-8, 1.4, 1.18, 1.23-24, 2.20, 2.23-4, 3.5, 3.15, 3.30, 4.1, 4.7, 4.12, 5.2-3, 5.16, 5.21, 7.4-5, 7.21, 7.29, 9.25
Young Communist League (YCL): 11.21, 11.26, 1.6, 1.26, 3.4-5, 4.1, 4.7, 5.15, 5.25, 6.17, 7.25, 8.11, 8.22, 9.1
Personal Names Index
Adelin, Adele Mddle.: 7.25
Allison, JE.: 6.10
Alverson (Halverson): 4.19
Bayliss: 5.31, 6.20, 6.22, 6.29
Bisson: 3.7, 4.7, 5.24, 6.7, 6.17, 7.18, 7.25
Browning, Hilda: 11.9, 1.24, 3.5, 4.12, 8.14
Campagnac, Professor: 3.10, 6.7, 6.16, 7.8, 9.23-25, 9.28
Campbell, JR.: 9.20 9.22
Citrine, Walter: 2.15, 9.5, 9.17
Coffey, Nugent: 3.16, 4.4, 4.13-15, 4.17, 4.28, 5.4-5, 6.17, 7.2, 7.28-29
Cornford, John: 11.3-4, 1.8-9, 4.24
Crowther, Geoffrey: 11.8-9
Darlington, Harold: 12.1, 4.25, 6.1
Edge, John: 11.9, 12.11-13, 12.23, 12.28, 1.16, 3.9, 3.29, 3.31, 4.6, 5.7, 6.12, 6.21, 9.27
Einstein, Albert: 11.9
Evans, George: 11.10, 11.16, 12.24, 1.19, 3.9, 5.15, 5.26, 5.29, 8.23-24
Evans, Peter: 11.9, 11.30, 12.7, 2.1, 3.18, 3.22, 4.17, 5.7, 5.9, 5.29, 6.1, 6.18,
6.27, 7.8, 8.3, 6.1, 8.3
Frankenburg, Ann: 11.8, 6.13, 6.19,
Freeman, Richard: 11.3-4, 4.24, 4.26, 7.12
Frenkel, Maryla: 2.4-5, 2.7, 3.12, 5.11, 5.24, 6.14-15
Gallacher, Willie: 7.2, 7.27-28, 8.2
Garstang, Professor: 11.14
Gillett, Ian: 11.3-4
Gollan, John: 4.24
Greaves, Mary (Mrs Wiltshire): 8.6, 8.11, 8.15, 8.22-23, 8.26
Greaves, Phyllis: 1.2, 5.28, 6.17, 8.23
Green, Dr Theodore: 4.2
Halliday, John Alexander.: 2.19, 3.6
Hamling, Wlliam (Bill), later MP: 11.30, 12.7, 3.27, 5.9, 6.1, 6.3
Hodge, Alan Searle: 12.30. 1.9, 1.16, 4.4, 4.6, 6.30, 7.6-7, 7.17, 7.19, 18.104.22.168
Hughes, E. Wynne: 11.11, 2.8-9
Jaffe, Hilda and Leila: 2.27, 3.15, 5.3, 7.29
Jeffery, Jim and Nora: 9.9, 9.16-18, 9.22, 9.25
Jones, Ivor H.: 2.18-19, 2.27, 3.28, 5.4, 5.14
Jump, John: 11.30, 3.22, 3.27, 6.13, 6.27, 8.3
Klugman, James: 4.24-25
Knight, Dr: 2.28, 6.13, 6.26, 9.24
Knowles, Ingram: 3.31, 4.6, 7.16, 7.25, 8.3, 9.8
Knowles, Molly (Marshall): 4.13, 4.16, 4.28, 7.21, 7.27, 8.3, 9.5
Lafitte, Francois: 1.23
Low, Professor AM: 3.5-6
McGree, Leo: 4.7, 4.28, 6.18-20, 6.23, 6.30, 7.21, 7.27, 8.2, 8.25, 8.27
Magee, Donald: 11.16, 2.19
Mann, Tom: 6.15,6.17
Matthias, William: 2.28, 6.13, 7.4, 7.8
Mercer, Iver: 11.10, 11.15-16, 1.13, 1.20,1.27, 2.14, 2.27, 5.26, 6.16, 7.30, 8.23, 10.23
Mercer, Mrs: 1.20, 2.27, 5.28, 9.3, 9.21
Mercer, Phyllis: 11.15, 9.21
Moore, Clive (Jnr.): 6.15
Moore, FC (Snr.): 1.20, 1.26, 2.26, 3.25, 4.9, 4.13, 4.17, 4.19, 5.29, 6.5, 6.15-16, 6.19, 7.16, 7.19, 7.21, 9.20
Morton, Alan Geoffrey: 12.28, 12.31, 1.8, 4.6, 6.12, 9.24
Mount, Charles: 11.13, 11.21, 11.28, 2.8
Murry Middleton, J.: 5.17
Paul, Mr and Mrs: 2.26, 3.4, 3.29, 5.9, 5.28, 8.2, 9.10
Pendlebury: 11.3-4, 12.13, 1.8-9, 4.6, 4.13, 4.19, 4.26
Piggott, John: 11.11, 2.19, 6.7, 6.11
Pollitt, Harry: 5.4
Price-Williams: 2.1, 6.9
Rawlings, Joe: 3.11, 4.4, 4.17, 5.4, 6.17, 7.2, 7.6, 8.2, 8.4, 9.3, 9.7, 9.11, 9.7, 9.17, 9.20
Riddell, Clive(?)/Gordon: 11.1-3, 11.9, 11.21, 1.4, 1.9, 2.11, 2.15, 2.16, 2.26, 3.4-5, 3.16, 5.11, 5.22, 5.24, 5.29, 6.1, 7.2, 9.7, 9.19-20
Roose-Williams, J.: 4.9-10,5.8, 7.13-15
Rust, William: 8.2
Saklatvala, Shapurji: 5.8, 5.12, 6.23-4, 6.30, 7.27
Scholfield: 1.23, 1.25-26, 2.4, 3.10, 5.2, 5.4, 5.9, 6.1, 6.16-17
Shore, E.: 11.8, 11.12, 11.16, 11.21, 3.28
Thompson, Professor MacLean: 12.10, 1.10, 2.28, 2.28, 3.1-2, 3.4-5, 6.26, 7.4, 7.8, 7.16, 9.24
Tickell: 5.2, 5.4, 5.9, 5.11, 5.17, 5.20, 5.27, 6.3, 6.17-18, 6.22, 7.4, 7.27, 9.26
Watts, WH: 1.31, 2.4, 7.24
Westmore, Kenneth: 3.14,3.18-22, 3.26, 4.3,4.17,4.29, 5.7-8, 6.12,6.22
White, Brian: 4.6, 5.2, 5.18
Whittenbury, George: 11.8, 5.2, 6.13, 9.17
Williams, A. Hyatt: 11.8, 6.19
Wright, George WD: 11.16
Yaffe: 11.29, 2.27