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Thursday, 18 July 2013
A matter of loyalty
Minute from the War Cabinet yesterday censuring me for my most successful pro-France article in the Observer on Sunday. It had been used on Monday by Daily Mail as an axe to hit the government with about 'baleful secrecy'. Lord B. was furious, and asked me to write a pungent letter in reply, which he signed. By evening Ll. G. had apologised and promised to have a new minute of the Cabinet prepared.
While all this is going on I have more trouble to contend with from my wife. She resents my 'other' life in London and fails to understand that I have an immense amount of work to do and considerable responsibility. Hence she contrives problems to gain my attention. For example, she has conceived a thorough dislike for our gardener Lockyer and is manoeuvring to have him replaced: what a time to become preoccupied with such trivia! I have written to her as follows:
Two of our gardeners have already died in the war defending us. Lockyer is now going into the army. It would not have been difficult for me to keep him out of the army. But I didn't want to keep him out and he didn't want to be kept out. He is quite as patriotic as either you or me. He is under 45 and a Grade 1 man, and he will almost certainly go out to the front where he will risk his life defending us. If he is not killed he will come back. I have already told him, of course, that the situation will be kept for him, and by God I will keep my word whatever the consequences are. Make no mistake. There would never have been any question of his leaving the situation if he had not to go into the army. Well, he goes into the army, he leaves his home and his family, he risks his life, and according to you his reward is to be that I shall say to him: "Of course you can't come back. The recompense of doing your duty is that you will lose your situation, and you will have to leave your house, and the village where you have lived so many years." (For there is no other situation that would do for him in Thorpe.) Am I going to say this to him? I am not! I have said to Lockyer as I have said to every man who has left us to go into the army: "The place will be open to you whenever you want to return." It is a little enough thing.
I am not going to commit an infamy. And if you understood me as you say you do,if you realised the depth of my feeling on such matters, you would never suggest such a monstrous thing. I never interfere with you in the house, and I beg you not to interfere with me in the garden. I have found a woman-gardener solely to please you; but the situation is going to be kept open for Lockyer, if he lives. You have no right whatever to say to me: "I am - not - going to have - Lockyer - back." I warn you in the most solemn way that there will be the most serious trouble if you reopen this question.