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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Went to a meeting of Tunstall Town Council in the afternoon.
On the way there, down Scotia Road, I saw a knot of girls here and there who had obviously left their work on a bank to come out and watch. Heads wrapped up in cotton against powdery workshops. Standing still in raw cold, very ill-clad. They were waiting for a funeral to pass. I saw this funeral just starting from a cottage lower down. The hearse just moving from the side of the road to the middle, and the procession hopping over snow heaps to join in. two women, noses in handkerchiefs, immediately behind hearse. They seemed to place their handkerchiefs in position and to begin to cry just as the procession started. About 15 or 20 men behind. Quite half without overcoats. You thought of the waiting hatless at the grave etc. Extremely foul and muddy road and a raw day. Crowd blocking the pavement in front of the house. Burly Podmore elbowing his way through it to get in. As I forced my way past, smell, and sound of crying came from the house.
Additionally for March 11th., see 'An invitation to sail'
Kahn wanted a nice bunch for his yachting cruise in the Greek Archipelago, and Kommer, who is very friendly with him, suggested me as one. Kahn is short and white and sturdy. Of course very assured in style. Stuffed with brains. Highly intelligent. Phrases his talk very well. I at once decided to sail with him. April 20th. for a month. Kahn was never uninteresting, he gave a great deal of his attention to Dorothy. You can see he is efficient in everything. His information-giving talk with me about the projected cruise was excellently terse - couldn't have been better.
Monday, 10 March 2014
I wrote all day yesterday at "A Great Man", 3,400 words. And I can now see the end of it. With luck I shall finish it on Monday.
I can now see at once that "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is a great work. It has the classic truthfulness and sobriety on every page. Letter XVIII in which Cecile describes the covert love scene between herself and the Chevalier Danceny is a most perfect and marvellous rendering of a young girl's feelings. It seemed to me to be one of the most beautiful things of the kind I had ever read.
Sunday, 9 March 2014
This morning before noon I finished reading what I had done of "Accident" and I decidedly liked it. It seemed to me to be sound and interesting; of course old-fashioned - at least I suppose so.
Then I walked up to the Reform, and got there early. I lunched with Page, Gardiner, Roch and two others. Discussion of Churchill's book. Everyone praised it as a tour de force, but said it was by no means always honest, and certainly wasn't history, inasmuch as it was obviously written to prove that Churchill had been right throughout the war. Personally, I think it is a bit better than that. I regard it as a remarkable achievement.
I came home by bus and slept. I felt gloomy. I hadn't really begun to get my ideas in order for proceeding with my novel. Then I read the newest fiction. Priestley's "Adam in Moonshine" and Romer Wilson's "latter Day Symphony", and I at once wrote paragraphs about them to go into a future Standard article. Poor and pretentious stuff, I thought. Nothing original in them. But Elizabeth Madox Roberts's "The Time of Man" (American - sent to me by Doran) seems to me to be pretty good authentic fiction. A very different affair from the other two.
Saturday, 8 March 2014
I went to Cambridge on Saturday to see the Greek play, and felt obliged to write an article about it for the New Statesman on Sunday instead of taking a holiday.
On Sunday night we went to a very good party at Mrs. Ralph Hammersley's where two good playlets were performed, the food was good, and there was dancing afterwards. All was for the best at this party.
Last night Heinemanns gave a dinner to introduce their new partner, Page, to British authors. There were about 35 people. I sat between Pinero and Sir Francis Fuller. Hall Caine made a prodigiously idiotic speech, in which incidentally he proved that he was responsible for the choice of Page's father as U.S. ambassador to England. Page made an excellent speech.
For more on Pinero see 'Bad grammar'
Lately, thanks to yeast, I have been sleeping immensely better.
Friday, 7 March 2014
I returned home from London on Friday last, wrote large quantities of my London novel each day, wrote my Sardonyx article in odd moments, and came back to London again yesterday.
Lunched with Wells. The Webbs said the new 'business men' officials had upset all Whitehall. New ministers' habit of writing letters from home and getting answers at home and thus springing surprises on departments is also much resented.
I worked all afternoon at Y.C. Massingham, Ross and I dined together. I was thus between two pacifists.
Massingham told a good story of an Australian who was asked his opinion as to the end of the war. The Australian said: "I think what my friend Fritz thinks. Fritz was my German prisoner - a very decent sort of chap. Fritz said: 'You'll win, but you'll all come home on one steamer.' "
This of course expressed Massingham's view beautifully, also Ross's.
For more on Massingham see 'A curious mixture'
Additionally for March 7th., see 'Rural idyll'
Six miles this morning in the forest, in fitful sunshine. When I looked about me in the forest I wondered that I could have endured three months in a city. Large spaces of sky. River rapid, and in flood, isolating many trees. Excellent food; attentive, simple-minded cook. Grocer's wife had a baby. Local youths drawing their conscription numbers. News of a Freemasons banquet, and of failure of a girls' school. Such are the events. I have time to think of writing another poem - subject in my head for just a year. I resume the piano, read papers more leisurely, and get excited about posts and about the sins of omission of local tradesmen.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
|Regent Street Polytechnic Cinema|
Wednesday, 5 March 2014
We came to London yesterday. Marguerite went to Newcastle to stay with the Shufflebothams. Swinnerton, Playfair and A. E. W. Mason dined with me at the Garrick. Mason told us some of his secret service adventures in Mexico. He was very good as a raconteur, and evidently has a great gift for secret service, though he said he began as an amateur.
For more on Mason see 'Lost in Venice'
Mason said that practically all the German spies and many of the Zeppelin men carried a packet of obscene photographs on their persons. He did not say why. I fully expected that he would laugh at the reputation of the German Secret Service for efficiency, and he did. I felt sure the German temperament is not a good secret service temperament. Too gullible and talkative. Mason said their secret service was merely expensive. Money chucked away idiotically.
Additionally for March 5th., see 'A tall tale'
He was extremely witty and fine about the attitude of Keir Hardie and so on (but not sufficiently sympathetic). He told a really astounding tale of a dinner given by Cust to about 20 men, including Balfour and himself, when the house got on fire over their heads. Talk so interesting that dinner went on, though Cust was obliged to absent himself once for a few minutes. Perfection of menservants who offered bath towels with the port to protect from firemen's water coming through the ceiling. Talk to accompaniment of engine throbs, swishing, tramping etc. Guests obliged to move table further up room out of puddles. Dinner lasted till midnight in Dining Room, when they went to Drawing Room to view the place gutted. One of the finest social recitals I have ever heard.