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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Understanding life

Tuesday, April 24th., Yacht Club, London.

Great creative weekend. I wrote over 3,000 words of novel on Saturday and Sunday. This novel is to be called "The Roll Call".

I went to town this morning and lunched with the Webbs. Webb told me that Lloyd George, contrary to the usual habit of ministers, would not deal with papers. He preferred to be talked to. Webb said that most ministers were followed about by despatch boxes full of papers which they had to approve and initial. Sometimes hundreds of papers. He said there were several grades of keys; the highest would open all despatch boxes. When he was at the Colonial Office he had a second-grade key, which would open some despatch boxes but not all.

He said that ministers were still unable to get anything done as Ll. G. would not face the labour of deciding and giving authority. Mrs. Webb, who had just returned from a meeting of the Reconstruction Committee, said that at one meeting recently at 4 p.m. just before the meeting started, the Marquis of Salisbury went to the mantelpiece and prayed aloud. She was talking to somebody else and could not hear what he said, but he was certainly praying aloud.

Webbs told me that Russian sailors, fleet enclosed in ice, had put a lot of their officers through the ice, and the ships were therefore useless. Germans knew this and were preparing expedition accordingly. Talk of British and French naval officers going over to take charge, but these officers said they would prefer to take their own crews.

The Webbs live in a house entirely constructed of Blue bricks, a marvel of ingenuity recalling the labours of beavers and coral insects. I get on very well with the Webbs but they do not understand (what I call) life. Squire, now editor of the New Statesman, wants me to gather material on the Russian situation. He also is an A1 chap. But he is a vegetarian & he doesn't understand life either. And either he or his wife doesn't understand shirts!

J. C. Squire (1884-1958) was one of those published in the Georgian poetry collections of Edward Marsh. His own Selections from Modern Poets anthology series, launched in 1921, became definitive of the conservative style of Georgian poetry. He began reviewing for The New Age; through his wife he had met Alfred Orage. His literary reputation was first made by a flair for parody, in a column Imaginary Speeches in The New Age from 1909. His poetry from World War I was satirical; at the time he was reviewing for the New Statesman, using the name Solomon Eagle (taken from a Quaker of the seventeenth century) - one of his reviews from 1915 was of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. Squire had been appointed literary editor when the New Statesman was set up in 1912; he was noted as an adept and quick journalist, at ease with contributing to all parts of the journal. He was acting editor of the New Statesman in 1917-18, when Clifford Sharp was in the British Army, and more than competently sustained the periodical. When the war ended he found himself with a network of friends and backers, controlling a substantial part of London's literary press. From 1919 to 1934, Squire was the editor of the monthly periodical, the London Mercury. It showcased the work of the Georgian poets and was an important outlet for new writers. Alec Waugh described the elements of Squire's 'hegemony' as acquired largely by accident, consequent on his rejection for military service for bad sight. Squire's natural persona was of a beer-drinking, cricketing West Countryman; his literary cricket XI, the Invalids, were immortalised in A. G. Macdonell's England, Their England, with Squire as Mr. William Hodge, editor of the London Weekly. In July 1927 he became an early radio commentator on Wimbledon.

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