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Sunday, 11 November 2012


Sunday, November 11th., London.

I walked out and 'saw' the Two Minute Silence from inside the lobby of the Court Theatre. When I saw old gents standing two minutes  in that perishing wind, hatless, I was glad I'd come inside.

The idea for a Remembrance Day silence was first suggested by Australian journalist Edward George Honey in a letter to The Times in May 1919. He was thinking of a five-minute silence but that was thought too long. One minute was deemed too short. On 7th November 1919, King George V issued a proclamation asking that: "at the hour when the Armistice comes into force, the 11th. hour of the 11th. day of the 11th. month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities... so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead."

I read the "Memoirs of Max of Baden", and learned something about Germany in the war.

Then to Stornoway House to dine with Beaverbrook. Dean Inge and wife, Churchill and McKenna were the other guests. The gloomy dean was not at all gloomy. 

William Ralph Inge was known to the public as ‘The Gloomy Dean’ for the sharp cultural criticism of his columns in the Evening Standard. He was a passionate Christian Platonist known in the academy for his work on mysticism, Plotinus and a synthesis of Christianity and Platonism. Inge wrote over thirty-five books in the areas of mysticism, Christianity, Platonism, ethics and contemporary issues. A number of his books were collections of his essays, including two series of Outspoken Essays, a title that betrays much about its author. For Inge was a controversialist, even a contrarian. In theology he was a liberal, in politics something of a reactionary. A supporter of animal rights and the arts (serving as trustee of the National Portrait Gallery from 1926 to 1951), he was a constant critic of the state of modern civilization, particularly in its democratic form. It was this criticism in the form of regular columns in the Evening Standard (1921–1946) that earned him his reputation as ‘The Gloomy Dean’.

 We all went to the Armistice Festival organised by the Express at the Albert Hall; we had the box next to the King, Queen, and Co. This affair was very impressive indeed.

Thousands of former soldiers and 1,000 widows and other women in deep mourning attended the Remembrance Festival at the Albert Hall. There was an ovation when a fanfare of State trumpets announced the arrival of the King and Queen, who were accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of York. A trench ran down the centre of the hall, and the stage was fashioned to represent a dugout, giving point to the community singing of such wartime favourites as "Tipperary," "Keep the Home Fires Burning," and the old-time catchwords which were shouted across the hall, such as "Are we downhearted?" and the thunderous answer "No!" These were lighter episodes, but deeper emotions were stirred when the lights were dimmed and such memorial music as Chopin's "Funeral March" was played by the massed Guards' bands, and the hymns "O God Our Help in Ages Past" and"Abide With Me" were sung. The festival ended with the sounding of the Last Post and the Reveille. Earl Jellicoe made an impressive appeal to the vast assembly to renew the pledges to keep the spirit of comradeship which won the war for the Allies, while working unceasingly for peace, so that such horrors would never be repeated.

In argument on finance, McKenna knocked Churchill to bits. The financial debate between the Chancellor and the ex-Chancellor was very diverting. I left at midnight.
I enjoyed this evening. It woke me up.

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