It’s nice to be able to write in a brand new diary again. [This one is similar to last year’s, a T.J. & J. Smith’s Datada Diary, “Large Post Octavo Series, ruled feint and pencil cash”, one day to a page, but this one, No. 182, is red, “full cloth”. The stationer has lightly pencilled in the price, 9/2, in the top left-hand corner of the inside cover.]

   This morning I fetched today’s Listener and Picturegoer. It rained most of the morning but cleared up after dinner when we all went to town. Julia had been invited to the B.B.C.’s New Year Party. I took her and Clarice to the studios [at 282 Broad Street], and Clarice was able to stay there. That was at 3.0. Then Mam and I went round the shops.

   At 5.0pm I went back to the studios to listen to the Party which was on the air from 5.15 until 5.55pm. Clarice and Julia didn’t like it very much.

   On TV tonight Dad and I have watched a new word game “Down You Go”. I think this could be good but the team tonight seemed hesitant and the chairman too stiff. The programme will attain more smoothness when everyone concerned knows what he is doing.

He delighteth in mercy. Micah 7:18


   This morning I did some shopping for Mam and then spent an hour or so reading the newspapers in the [Acocks Green Public] Library.

   After dinner Clarice and Julia came with me to the park and we gave Ginger a run.

   Mam and Dad went to the cinema tonight, and after I had taken Ginger out I watched TV. Pat Kirkwood was in “Starlight” at 9.30 and this was followed by “In the News” and “Science Review”. In the middle of “In the News” there was a terrific cacophony of noises — one of the “Starlight” microphones had been left on and we could hear the scene-shifters at work.

   “Science Review” contained an item about bees, showing how a hive has its guard bees and how intruders are examined for sometimes as long as a couple of hours.

He maketh my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33


   This morning I went to John Winrow’s [at 16 Bourne Close, Kings Heath].

   After dinner I washed up. At 3.0 Dad and I watched a thirty-five-minute film of the Farnborough Air Show [last September] in which John Derry was killed. We saw John Derry and Neville Duke break the sound barrier.

   One of the features of the film was the views of various planes from in front and alongside. The sound had been cut out and some light music had been put in. As an introduction to the film the music seemed out of place but when we had these particular scenes it fitted perfectly and the effect was distinctly macabre.

   This evening I watched “Café Continental”.

How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God! Psalm 139:17


   Nothing at all happened today. I did some homework after dinner.

   This evening Joyce and Stanley came. [Joyce will be 19 in April: she is Mam’s youngest sister.] We watched What’s My Line? as usual.

   Granma [Minnie Jane Williams] would have been 70 next Tuesday (6th). I can never forget the shock of her dying on Sunday 24th November 1946 — she was sick for a long time and had emphysema. I think of her every time I cycle to the match and leave my bike at 23 Pretoria Road. Grandad & Fred still live there and the house is just the same as it was when she died. We have a lovely photograph of Granma & Mam taken outside the greenhouse about 20 years ago.

   I know little about my grandparents except that Grandad comes from Nottingham (where Dad was born) and Granma from Ilkeston. Her maiden name was Bower and she was one of about 23 children. [I discover later that her mother’s name was Ann Bircumshaw and that D.H. Lawrence, who was born at nearby Eastwood, used the names Bower and Bircumshaw in his novels and short stories. Granma was 2 when Bert Lawrence was born on 11th September 1885, and I feel sure they were acquainted. Bert studied at the Pupil-Teacher Centre at Ilkeston from 1903 to 1905 — the year my grandparents were married.]

The right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. Psalm 118:15


   This morning I went shopping to Fox Hollies and then down to the Library to read the morning papers. The Daily Graphic was taken over today by the News of the World from Kemsley Newspapers Ltd, and its title has been changed to Daily Sketch again.

   Mrs. Ashmore came after dinner. I went to John Winrow’s at 3.0. Mrs. Winrow had asked me to tea.

   It had been freezing hard all day but when I came home at 7.0pm it was raining. The path alongside the River Cole was a sheet of ice and I came off my bike.

   It is 9.45 now. I have taken Ginger out and now I am listening to the first of a new series of “Take It From Here” due to run until July 6.

The will of God abideth for ever. 1 John 2:17


   This morning Clarice and Julia went to school again, Mam went to town and I did some shopping in the village.

   After dinner I wrote a couple of letters and went down the village to get some stamps and [from Wells’ newsagent’s, almost next door to the Post Office] today’s Picture Show.

   I went to Cubs tonight (first time since September 16th) and watched a domestic comedy on TV at 9.0pm. This was called “Count Your Blessings” by Ronald Jeans. A young wife (Peggy Simpson) and her husband (Patrick Barr) are hard up. The wife can come into a large sum of money — but then only if her husband divorces her. They plan to do this and then re-marry, but some queer lodgers sharing their house provide complications till a real divorce seems imminent. Altogether it was a very pleasing play.

Is any thing too hard for the LORD? Genesis 18:14


   This morning John came and we took Ginger for a walk and gave her a run in the park.

   I did some homework during the afternoon. Mr. Donaldson [our paying guest, an architect] came back from Scotland at 5.15pm.

   This evening I have been getting the troop register up to date and drawing up the 1953 roll. We have twenty three cubs and three scouts.

   I am listening to Curtain Up — The Constant Wife by Somerset Maugham, with Margaret Lockwood, Gladys Young. After this I shall listen to Town Forum [a repeat of the TV broadcast on 29th December, with Sir Philip Joubert, Canon Bryan Green, Dr. J. Bronowski, Esther McCracken and Bernard Storey, in which I took part].

He giveth grace unto the lowly. Proverbs 3:34


   Nothing happened this morning.

   After dinner I went shopping then I listened to a 90 minutes play “Sherlock Holmes”.

   I felt rather bored all day so this evening I went to the Tivoli [Cinema on Coventry Road, Yardley] to see two Universal International films, It Grows on Trees and Son of Ali Baba. I had not put these films down on my list but it seemed such a good programme that I made up my mind some time ago to go and see it. As it was, the programme was the best I have seen in months. Both films were very good.

   In the first film Irene Dunn plays the part of a wife who discovers that money grows on trees! A fantastic film but an amusing one, with Irene Dunn giving a quite remarkable performance.

   In Son of Ali Baba there were burning palaces. dashing scimitars, gaudy costumes, Piper Laurie as a beautiful princess and Tony Curtis as the swashbuckling Kashma Baba — all in Technicolor.

I know that my redeemer liveth. Job 19:25


   This morning I went shopping and again after dinner. Then Julia, who has been away from school with a bad cold, came with me to the park to give Ginger a run.

   Tonight Mam and Dad have been to the cinema. Clarice & Julia went to a Sunday School Party [at Acocks Green Methodist Church on the corner of Botteville Road and Shirley Road] and got back at 9.0pm.

   I watched the first of a new series of “Kaleidoscope” but it wasn’t very good. McDonald Hobley at the start of the programme was in a shoemaker’s shop and interviewed Wally Barnes and Dorothy Ward who popped in seemingly accidentally!

The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me: ... and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:17


   This morning I got up at 9.30 and went shopping. After washing up I spent the rest of the morning reading my library book Dark Interlude by Peter Cheyney.

   This afternoon I listened to the 3rd Round F.A. Cup tie between Millwall and Manchester United. Millwall, after having seventy percent of the play, lost 1–nil. Blues beat Oldham away 3–1, Peter Murphy getting a hat trick. This was a very good performance since Oldham were top of the Third Division North and had dropped only 4 points out of 26. Villa beat Middlesbro’ 3–1 at home, Wolves lost 5–2 at Preston, Albion beat West Ham 4–1 away and Coventry were beaten 4–1 at Plymouth.

   I and five others from the Mission had been invited to a party at Solihull. Someone was supposed to meet us at 5.30 at the Barley Mow but no one was there & I came home to watch TV Music Hall.


   Not much has happened today. I finished reading my library book in bed tonight. It was one of the best Cheyneys I have read. I got a Toff book by John Creasey.

   This evening I watched “What’s My Line?” as usual, and part of “Sleeping Beauty on Ice” from the Empire Pool, Wembley.


   This morning I went to John’s and stayed a little while. We arranged to meet tomorrow morning but when I got home, there was a postcard from Price asking me to go to Rugby practice tomorrow and Wednesday morning. So, after dinner, I had to go round to his house again.

   For the rest of the afternoon I watched a second time the Hal Roach comedy film Topper [made in 1937, with Cary Grant and Constance Bennett].

   I went to the Springfield tonight. The film I wanted to see was F.B.I. Girl, which was the supporting film although it was the longer. It was a good film with a background of the actual workings of the F.B.I.’s fingerprint section. The stars were Cesar Romero, Geo. Brent & Audrey Totter. The other film was fair — with Zachary Scott & Robert Beatty as two pilot friends who become involved in their firm’s smuggling racket. The title was Wings of Danger.


   This morning I went to a House Rugby Practice. Two or three teams held practices as well as us. Only eight of our 1st XV turned up. Price himself was absent ill. We trained for an hour and then took part in a twenty minute eight a side game.

   I got home at 1.15. After dinner I went shopping on Fox Hollies Road. During the afternoon I started to read The Toff and Old Harry by John Creasey. I have seen two Toff films but this is the first Toff book that I have seen.

   At 6.0pm we all [Mam, Clarice and Julia and I] went to the Guild social at St. Andrew’s Street. Dad was already there when we arrived. Mr. Moore introduced me to three girls from the Medical School. I have now decided to go to the M.S. as an assistant [laboratory technician] if I can do so. I could study for a B.Sc. and Ph.D. while earning money, and I could still carry on with my B.B.C. work.


   I did not get up until 10.30 this morning.

   After dinner I did some shopping then John came and we went a walk with Ginger [[see map]]. We went down Fox Hollies Road and York Road, along Cateswell Road [then Tynedale Road and Knights Road to Tyseley] and back home along Warwick Road, then John left me [outside Acocks Green Public Library] to catch the 1A ’bus home.

   Nothing else happened.


   Once more back to School! [I have been at K.E.S. since September 1947, so this is my 17th term. I am nearly 17½ and in the Medical Sixth]. There is nothing in particular to record. The King Edward’s School Chronicle and Fixture Lists have not arrived yet.

   In Physics we are doing heat. In Music Dr. Grant played us some records of Gabriel Fauré and Richard Strauss.

   There was a Tenor and Bass practice at break. On the 29th of this month there is to be a Foundation service in St. Martin’s. The music will be sung by the sopranos and altos of the Girls’ School choir, and us Tenors and Basses.

   I hurried home so as to be able to listen to “Film Time”.

   This evening I have been getting ready my uniform. Mr. Webb [our ’bus driver neighbour from next door, 155 Circular Road] came round at about 8.0 & gave me a complimentary ticket for Blues’ match on Saturday. At 9.45 we are going to see “Down You Go” on television.

A Saviour, Jesus. Acts 13:23


   In Chemistry today we finished Benzene chemistry and started Toluene.

   In Biology we completed a short revision of the plant stem and did some drawings of the plant root in transverse section [[insert picture]].

   There was another practice for the tenors and basses at break.

   In J.T.C. my platoon cleaned rifles first and then I gave them half an hour’s drill.

   I came home on the Special Bus.


   I cycled to school this morning. In Music we heard two pieces of music, El Salon Mexico by Aaron Copland, and a similar composition by Alan Rawsthorne. I liked both very much.

   In Biology we cut sections of the root of a dicotyledon.

   We had our Fixture Lists this morning. I did not fix any dates for N.H.S. [Natural History Society] meetings so none are [sic, is] included in the list.

   I went to Blues’ match v West Ham United. Birmingham won 2–nil with goals from Purdon (1 minute) and [Trigg. The team was:— Merrick; Hall, Green; Bannister, Ferris, Boyd; Stewart, Purdon, Trigg, Murphy, Wardle. The attendance was 22,000.]

   The ticket Mr. Webb gave me was for an Emmeline Street entrance, and I stood level with the halfway line under Spion Kop.

   This evening I have been to the Library and watched a new TV show. The book I borrowed was The Toff on Board by John Creasey.


   This afternoon I wrote a couple of letters and Clarice, Julia and I took Ginger for a run in the park.

   Tonight’s TV play was a comedy thriller “Whistling in the Dark” by Laurence Gross and Edward Childs Carpenter. It was not very convincing but I have seen worse plays.


   I had two choir practices today, a rehearsal of O Praise the Lord at break [10.50–11.05am], and another at 12.30 as usual. We have now started to learn Mozart’s Requiem which we hope to present in May.

   After school I went to a joint meeting of the S.C.M. [Student Christian Movement] and Christian Union and saw a film of “God and the Atom”. It was a good film on the whole but the colour was horrible. There was some especially good photography of Atom Bomb explosions.

   It had been foggy all day but when John Maund and I came home, visibility was practically nil. How the ’bus crews managed I don’t know, but the ’buses kept going even though it was at little more than a walking rate. The fog was worse than ever at 9.0pm tonight.

   When I had done my prep. this evening and taken Ginger out I listened to “T.I.F.H.” (150th edition).


   This morning we went for Mass Radiography at the centre in Corporation Street. [This is at least our third chest X-ray during my time at K.E.S. but they are trying to stop tuberculosis].

   This afternoon we [Vardy] played Prince Lee in Round 1 of the Knock-Out competition and lost by 11pts to 8. We were joint-favourites with Evans to win the Cup and, on paper, we should have won today, having beaten our opponents 20–9 in the League. But it was not to be, and though there was not much in it, Prince Lee seemed to have the edge over us slightly.


   This morning there was a practice for the tenors and basses, and at 1.20 we went over to the Girls’ School for a further practice.

   Nothing else happened all day.

   This evening I have done some prep. and listened to Eric Portman in “Rope”, a play by Patrick Hamilton.


   This afternoon I went cross-country running with a dozen other members of the House. Moore and I went over the Open (3½ miles) course.

   I came home with Kipper [Christopher Martin] on the 1A ’bus. During the rest of the afternoon I got all my homework done so that I could go out tonight.

   I went to the Rialto to see the recently released Don’t Bother to Knock. Marilyn Monroe plays the part of a baby-sitter who goes beserk [sic] and tries to murder a little girl. It wasn’t a spine-chiller so far as I could see but the film did succeed in creating that certain feeling of impending disaster without achieving very much else. Altogether, a horrible sort of film — certainly not my idea of entertainment. The acting was very good throughout and just managed to save the film.

   A Millionaire for Christy was a quite amusing comedy on the “money v true love” theme with Eleanor Parker, Fred MacMurray, Richard Carlson and Una Merkel. It was released in 1951.


   In J.T.C. this afternoon I gave a lecture on map-reading and then the whole of “C” Coy did drill under [Regimental] Sergeant Major Moore.

   Sgt. Wilkinson has been thrown out of the Corps by Capt. Buttle. I would probably have got another stripe but now I’ve been told I shall not because I have “blotted my copybook very badly”, to use Capt. Buttle’s own words. What happened was that today and last Friday I went on parade without boots. They split down the back and Mam has not been able to get them back from the cobbler’s as yet. Then on Wednesday there was a last-minute choir practice and I had to give N.C.O.’s parade a miss.

   I came home with Teasdale on the 1A ’bus [he lives at 63 Stonewood Avenue, Hall Green, and is in V.C.], and did prep. tonight.


   Today we held our first Field Club meeting. Phipps, Maskell, Bennett and Edwards came with Mr. Monkcom, Mr. Stephenson and myself to the Lickeys.

   We took sandwiches and ate them in the café while waiting for Mr. Monkcom and Mr. Stephenson who joined us shortly after 1.30pm. We then went up the road and climbed to the top of Cofton Hill. It was bitterly cold and there was some snow. Mr. Stephenson, who obviously knows the area like the back of his hand ... [entry unfinished]


   Nothing at all happened today. [Mam’s youngest sister] Joyce and Stanley came after tea and we all watched “What’s My Line”.

   I have now finished reading my library book — The Toff on Board. It was as good as the other John Creasey books which I have read.


   The 8.0am news this morning told us that the liner Empress of Canada had been burnt out completely in Liverpool Docks. The damage will cost £100,000 to make good.

   After prayers, the Head told the Sixth Forms that he was hoping to arrange a series of lectures for us from time to time and that the first would be this afternoon. Air Vice Marshal Guest, O.E., spoke during fifth period on the cold war and transport and communications. John North recently accompanied him on a three weeks tour of the Far East.

   After school there was a 10 minute practice with the girls in Big School .

   I went to the Rialto tonight to see Monkey Business, a comedy about a rejuvenating drug. The stars were Ginger Rogers, Cary Grant, Chas. Coburn & Marilyn Monroe. It was very funny, especially where Charles Coburn tells his secretary M.M. to “Get someone to type this.”

   The supporting film Dead Men Tell, made in 1941, was a Charlie Chan adventure, with Sidney Toler, Sheila Ryan, Robert Weldon and Victor Sen Yung playing the oriental detective. The character was created by Earl Derr Biggers, and the first of many Charlie Chan films was in 1926. Sidney Toler succeeded Warner Oland in the part in 1937.


   In Divinity today we wrote an essay on the English Sunday. A bill proposing the opening of theatres on Sundays, comes before The House of Commons on Friday.

   In Biology we have finished our study of the structure and functions of the leaf, stem and root. Now we are doing cell division.

   I played for the 1st XV v Cary Gilson this afternoon. We won 9–3 fairly easily, and the score should have been more. Gilson’s hooker, Lowrie, hadn’t played before — that no doubt accounted for the fact that we had 90% of the scrums. Cary Gilson tied with us for first place in the League. We each had 85½ points.

   The 1st XV final will be between Prince Lee and Evans.

   When I got home I had a bath. It is 8.30 now and I am listening to “The Forces’ Show”.


   This morning we had an Air Letter from Uncle Frank and Aunt Lillian in Ontario. Mam last saw them in about 1921 [when they moved to Canada. This letter is in response to one Mam sent after the visit to Uncle Tom and Aunt Daisy on New Year’s Eve. Uncle Tom is Grandad Smith’s half-brother.

   Frank Grainger Smith is about 63, Grandad’s oldest brother. They have three daughters, Lily and Irene who are married, and Margaret, whom I have been writing to, who is about my age. Grandad and Uncle Frank’s mother (and Margaret’s grandmother) is my Great-granma at Kidderminster, whom I remember very well even though I was only 4 when she died. That was on Friday 12th January 1940, a month after Clarice was born.

   Great-granma, Sarah Jane Grainger, was born at Aston on Friday 6th March 1868, so would have been 85 this year. She married Esau Willis Smith on Monday 6th February 1888, and Frank Grainger Smith was their first child. Arthur Gordon Smith (Mam’s father) was born on Monday 21st September 1891. Unfortunately, Esau Willis their father died on Monday 4th January 1894 when he was only 26.

   Sarah Jane, a widow at 25, gave Frank to her mother to bring up, and went to live with Frederick E. Haines. She had two children by him, Ethel and Thomas, who took their widowed mother’s married name — Smith — as she never married Mr. Haines. This Thomas Smith is Uncle Tom who is married to Aunt Daisy and lives at 136 Mapleton Road, Hall Green. He and Ethel are Grandad’s half-brother and half-sister.

   Later, Sarah Jane married William Henry Franklin at St. Martin’s Parish Church in the Bull Ring on April 4th 1903. He was 47, a widower, and she 34, twice widowed. They then had two children, Dorothy (who is our Aunt Doll at Kidderminster) and William (who is Uncle Bill, married to Aunt Ruth, also at Kidderminster).

   It will take me until 2003 to fit all this together. It began with my receiving an entry from the roll compiled in 1900 for the 1901 Census. There, living at 8 Court 28 Gooch Street are:—

Frederick E. Haynes Head, married 39 born at Aston, Warwickshire
Sarah J.         ”Wife, married 31            ”
Thomas ”Son 5            ”
Ethel M. ”Daughter 1            ”
Arthur G. SmithStepson 9            ”
Selina M. ” Stepdaughter 7            ”

Now, more than 50 years after the original Diary entry, Aunt Grace has given me a photograph [reproduced here] taken about 1910. It shows Sarah Jane Franklin (as she has now become), with baby William Franklin on her lap (who is Uncle Bill, married to Aunt Ruth at Kidderminster). Behind her is Arthur Gordon Smith (my grandfather) and next to him is Grandad’s second step-father William Henry Franklin. Immediately in front of Mr. Franklin are Dorothy Franklin (Aunt Doll at Kidderminster, who is married to William James our “other” Uncle Bill), and Thomas Haines Smith (Uncle Tom at Mapleton Road). On the right of the picture is Ethel Haines Smith, the Aunt Ethel whom Mam has so often spoken about. The only person I have not been able to trace is Selina, who may have died young.

   While eating my sandwiches in the greenhouse [at the back of the Biology Lab] at dinner time, I saw a rather unusual ceremony outside the University, in which Canon Bryan Green [Rector of St. Martin’s in the Bull Ring, where Great-granma was married 50 years ago] was installed as Warden of the University. The students wheeled him all round the University.

   After school the N.H.S. met. As an experiment I got five boys to give short talks [on subjects of their own choice]. Gompertz spoke on “Oaks”, Maskell on “Squirrels”, Teasdale on “Birds of the Birmingham District”, Davies on “Titmice and Nesting Boxes” and Rufus on “Ferrets”. All the talks were illustrated, mainly on the epidiascope, though Rufus had brought along his own ferret. Altogether, the meeting was quite a success. The attendance was twenty.


   This morning at 11.15am our Foundation Service was held in St. Martin’s. All the Sixth Form attended. The Choir left from outside the Girls’ School at 10.0am. We had a short practice and then we were free for half an hour until the service began.

   Canon Bryan Green welcomed the congregation and the sermon was preached by the Rev. Leslie Tizard of Carr’s Lane Church. It was a most lively sermon, much more forceful than that preached by the Bishop of Peterborough a year ago.

   This evening Mam and Dad went to the cinema. I did prep. then watched “Down You Go”.

   There was a total eclipse of the moon between about 10.0pm and 2.30am this (Friday) morning. I had some extremely good views of the eclipse.


   During the dinner hour today I prepared a rather good slide of some Brown Algae from the big aquarium [in the Biology Lab which is our form room]. On Tuesday, Buckler and I managed to slide this aquarium from its table on to the other side of the sink. Now it will get more light and plants in it will grow rather better.

   In J.T.C. I taught the platoon bearings and back bearings. Later we did drill.

   Mam and Dad did not go out this evening. I watched “Current Release”. The films shown were:—

Trent’s Last Case — Wilcox, Neagle
Botany Bay — John Farrow
Elstree Story — Associated British
Limelight — Charles Chaplin
The Man Who Watched Trains Go By — Raymond Stross
She’s Working Her Way Through College — Warner Bros.

   I want to see the last film — a musical.


   This morning Mr. Stephenson took us for a period instead of Mr. Ballance. He is doing plant ecology with us.

   I came home through town and bought a Pan Book — Told in the Dark — nine uncanny stories selected by Herbert Van Thal. I spent most of the afternoon reading some of the stories.

   In the F.A. Cup, fourth round, Blues drew one each with the United at Sheffield. Only three teams have gained any sort of success there this season, and this was the second time Birmingham had drawn there this season.

   Tonight we saw “Looking at Animals”. Geo. Cansdale has recently been dismissed from his post of Superintendent to the London Zoo. Then came the Daily Mail National TV Awards. These have been awarded to Gilbert Harding and Richard Dimbleby, John Slater & Yvonne Mitchell.

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webwork by Jim Nagel at Abbey Press, Glastonbury — this edition published 2007-06-30