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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Friday, 9 May 2014

New responsibilities

Thursday, May 9th., Yacht Club, London.

I finished my play "The Title" on Wednesday, but in order to do so I had to knock myself up and also inform people with whom I had appointments in London that I was laid aside with a chill. I wrote the last act in four days of actual work. I have also had a toothache for some days and fear I must have an extraction. Hopefully the relief deriving from removal of the offending tooth will more than compensate for the pain of the operation. I must keep my stoic principles to the fore.
For more on "The Title" see 'Scrupulously clean'

Then today I came to London to take up my duties as head of the French section of the Propaganda Department of the Ministry of Information. On the whole the first day was rather a lark. It began with a lunch of allied journalists, where I sat between Le Journal and Le Petit Parisien, and had the Debats opposite. I didn't like my room, nor my staff being on different floors from me.

British propaganda during World War I—called “an impressive exercise in improvisation” - was hastily expanded at the beginning of the war and was rapidly brought under government control as the War Propaganda Bureau (Wellington House), under the overall leadership of journalist Charles Masterman. The Bureau began its propaganda campaign on 2 September 1914 when Masterman invited 25 leading British authors to Wellington House to discuss ways of best promoting Britain's interests during the war. Those who attended included Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, Thomas HardyRudyard Kipling,  and H. G. Wells. During most of the war, responsibility for propaganda was divided between various agencies, resulting in a lack of coordination. It was not until 1918 that activities were centralized under the Ministry of Information.

Dinner of the Other Club. I made the acquaintance of Smuts. He has a peculiar accent (foreign) and puts his hand on your knee constantly while talking to you. A man of principles, and a fine man; but I doubt if he is the great man some of us thought. He was quite serene about the approaching end of the war.
For more on the Other Club see 'Interesting people'

Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRSPC (1870 – 1950) was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948. He was a supporter of racial segregation and white minority rule. He led the Boer Commando in the Second Boer War for the Transvaal. During the First World War, he led the armies of South Africa against Germany, capturing German South-West Africa and commanding the British Army in East Africa. From 1917 to 1919, he was also one of the members of the British War Cabinet. He became a field marshal in the British Army in 1941, and served in the Imperial War Cabinet under Winston Churchill. He was the only person to sign each of the peace treaties ending the First and Second World Wars.

Additionally for May 9th., see 'A day of fun'

Homan's and Alcock's. Two quartets and a quintet before dinner at 8.45. Good male dinner, with champagne. During and after dinner, we had from Norton the finest exhibition of story-telling I ever heard. I was exhausted with laughing.

Later W. Alcock gave several parody treatments of "Three Blind Mice" according to Haydn, Chopin, Mendelssohn and Grieg. Admirable. Werg and Hill played solos. I got to the Club at 1 a.m. and a half-dressed, half-asleep waiter let me in. This was one of the finest evenings I ever spent in my life.

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