I have been doing prep. most of today. This evening we watched “What’s My Line?” as usual, but not the play.


   This morning the weather appeared to have taken a turn for the worse — it was much colder and foggy. However it improved later.

   I went to the Piccadilly tonight to see a Damon Runyon musical Bloodhounds of Broadway starring Mitzi Gaynor. She plays the part of a young country girl who falls in love with a bookmaker who is dodging a state enquiry. He makes her a Broadway star and goes to gaol for a year.

   It was a very good film and, of course, Mitzi Gaynor was the “pièce dominante”, though there were also very good performances from Scott Brady and Mitzi Green. I thought the song and dance routines were especially well done.

   Is it too much to expect to see a good supporting film to a musical? Rose of Cimarron was the usual bunkum about a girl, whose Indian foster-parents have been murdered, seeking her revenge. Mala Powers was the Rose.


   I cycled to school this morning in order to get there for a Bass practice at 8.50am. I was home by 1.40pm.

   I did prep. in the afternoon and listened to the radio, including the first of a new series of “P.C. 49” and the Goons this evening.

   For tomorrow’s 6th Round F.A. Cup Replay Birmingham City’s team will be:— Merrick; Hall, Green; Boyd, Badham, Warhurst; Stewart, James, Trigg, Ferris, Wardle. This will be James’ debut, and Badham plays his first senior game since November 15th. Ferris came to Blues from Crewe Alexandra as an inside left but I think he has played better than any other Blues centre-half I have seen in years.


   The 8.0am [bulletin] this morning broadcast the news that Stalin was dying. Early on Monday morning he had a stroke, causing paralysis of his right arm and leg, loss of speech and unconsciousness. His rate of breathing and heart beat was very irregular and there is little or no hope for his recovery.

   At school this afternoon we had the tenth Julian Horner concert. It was given by the Harold Greensmith Brass Trio, and the programme included works by Poulenc and Vaughan Allin (trios), and Concerto in E Flat for Horn (Mozart), Concerto for Trombone (Ferdinand David), and Concerto for Trumpet (Haydn).

   In the Cup Replay Blues drew 2–all at White Hart Lane after extra time. After twice being behind, Blues almost won, James hitting the bar in the 89th min. when Spurs were being run off their feet. Boyd and Ferris scored. Attendance was 59,490.


   With the exception of there being more news of Stalin which indicates that he is dying, nothing much has happened today.

   In Physics Arthur and I did an experiment to find the atmospheric pressure assuming Boyle’s Law.


   Stalin is dead and with his death comes the end of a great epoch in in the history of Russia. All that has happened in Russia over the last forty years or so is stamped with his personality. Stalin rose to power over the bodies of all who stood in his way; he more than anyone else was responsible for the expansion of Soviet Russia, and its new aggressive nationalism. Not since Peter the Great has any one man had so profound an impact upon the history of Russia.

   Joseph Vissarionovich was born near Tiflis in Georgia on December 21 1879. He was brought up in extreme poverty, was expelled from his theological school for his political activities. His family name was Djugashvili but he changed it to Stalin — man of steel — in 1902. He was often exiled to Siberia but just as frequently escaped. In 1912 Stalin founded Pravda.

   Stalin was in the middle of the revolution in Leningrad in 1917, and was soon a member of the inner circle of party leaders who imposed themselves upon the country. After five years of Civil War, in 1922 Stalin was made Secretary-General of the Communist Party and from then on he attained the supreme heights of power. In the few years after Lenin’s death, Stalin destroyed his rivals, imposed the collective farm system, and began to operate his ambitious scheme for Russian industrialisation.

   In the 1930s Russian policy appeared to be closer association with the West in resistance to the German threat. In 1939 Stalin signed a pact of non-aggression with Hitler, and denounced Western resistance to Germany when the War broke out as “a war of imperialism”. When the Nazis attacked Russia he changed his mind and called it a “sacred war of liberation”.

   After 1945 it became obvious that Russia had reverted to her former policy of hostility to the West, and the past seven and a half years has seen a series of conflicts between Russia and the West, his “cold war” being due more to Stalin than anyone else. Perhaps it may now end ...

   Today was Field Day, which for “C” Coy meant map-reading on the Lickeys. There was a thick fog, visibility practically nil till about 12.30, and Eddie Hateley and I at 997762 saw no one for over two hours. We nearly froze to death.

   [We heard about Stalin’s death while we were still up the Lickeys. I wanted to read about it in the London newspapers which I knew I could get outside Snow Hill Station, so on the way home] I bought the Star and [Evening] Standard in town.


   I went to school on my bike this morning.

   In Biology Mr. Stephenson had arranged a demonstration of a plant community — Broadmoor Wood near Rubery. We hope to visit this wood before the end of term.

   Nothing in particular happened during the afternoon.

   This evening I went to the second meeting of the Shakespeare Society which was held this time in the Head’s [Chief Master’s] house. We were in two groups again, and read The Winter’s Tale. I read the parts of [space left].

   Bob Lowrie brought me as far as Yardley Wood Road in his car on the way home. [He is in the Science Upper Sixth and lives at 14 Westlands Road, Moseley.]


   Nothing happened today.

   Tomorrow Stalin will be buried in Moscow beside Lenin, and the whole of the Soviet Union will observe a day of national mourning.

   Stalin is succeeded by Mr. Georgi Malenkov as Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. Marshal Voroshilov is President and there are four deputy chairmen:— Mr. Beria (he is also Minister of Internal Affairs), Mr. Molotov (Foreign Minister), Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Kaganovich.


   I went to Wolverhampton today with Mr. Webb [from next door] to see the 2nd Blues’-Spurs replay. We caught one of the special trains at 12.45 at New Street (1/9d Return) and we were in Molineux over an hour before the kick-off.

   The first half was very even throughout and neither side deserved to be in front. One ’Spurs player shot yards wide with only Merrick to beat but Birmingham’s defence held fast.

   In the second half it looked as though nothing could keep Blues from scoring. Only occasionally did ’Spurs get past the half-way line but still Birmingham could not score. Four times a player was brought down when in a scoring position. On at least three occasions [Ditchburn made great saves.

   But, after playing three games lasting altogether five hours, Tottenham Hotspur got the only goal of the match and are in the semi-final. Birmingham City will have to wait another year. [The team today was:— Merrick; Hall, Green; Bannister, Badham, Boyd; Stewart, Purdon, Trigg, Ferris, Wardle. The attendance was 50,081.]

   This evening we listened to the Big Fight between Don Cockell and Tommy Farr from Nottingham Ice Rink. Cockell won the British Heavyweight championship, the referee stopping the fight at the end of the 7th round because of a cut under Farr’s left eye. Cockell weighed 14½ stone but Farr, being 15 years older, never stood a chance. He became British Heavyweight champion in 1937. After tonight’s fight he sang Land of my Fathers and got a great cheer.


   This afternoon I entered for the Mile in the Athletics Standards. I led the field for the first two and a half laps, then I got tripped over and I didn’t bother to make much of an effort after that as I knew I had got the standard pretty easily. What I did not realise was that I would almost certainly have got the extra standard too.

   I came home through town with John.

   I almost forgot to mention that we had a fire-drill in Divinity [third period]. It wasted twenty five minutes.

   I went to the Piccadilly tonight. The Voice of Merrill (A) was a very good thriller, with Jas. Robertson Justice as an author with only three months to live, framing his wife’s lover for the death of a beautiful blackmailer. Valerie Hobson and Edward Underwood gave very good performances. The Lawless Breed (A) was a good Western & starred Rock Hudson, Julia Adams, Mary Castle.


   I cycled to school this morning. In Physics we are doing Sound again.

   In N.C.O.’s parade we did a quick revision of the Slope Arms, which “C” Coy will be taught on Friday.

   After school the N.H.S. met in the Large Lecture Room. For this meeting I had arranged a programme of films, which John Maund projected for us. The films were “The Greenfly”, “The Warblers” and “The Badger”. (We showed the latter film in November but Mr. Monkcom and I thought it worthwhile to show it again.)

   Birmingham City lost 4-1 at home to Swansea Town.


   In Physics today Arthur, Tickell and I did resonance tube experiments in the greenhouse.

   I went down to Standards this afternoon. I went in for the 440 yards and got the standard, though I had to run the hardest race of my life. I also entered for the 880 yards five minutes later but failed by a foot. I was the only one of twelve in the race who didn’t get the standard. I did the first lap in good time but couldn’t keep up the pace after having to run so hard in the 440.

   I came home on the 31A with John [Maund].


   In Chemistry this morning we did practical work — a titration.

   I spent my lunch hour writing notes in the greenhouse.

   There was no Battalion parade this afternoon. Parade was by sections. I took six boys shooting [in the Rifle Range].

   At 4.0pm the Music Circle met in the New Music Room when Mr. Gilbert Jones, the blind pianist, gave a recital. The recital included works of Bach, the 32 Variations by Beethoven, and Fugue in E flat by Christopher Edmunds [who is principal of the Birmingham School of Music].

   For a change I decided to watch TV tonight. At 9.0 there was “Current Release”. The films shown were:—

Plymouth Adventure (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Springfield Rifle (Warner Brothers)
The Star (Twentieth Century Fox)
Top of the Form (J. Arthur Rank Orgn). I want to see this film.
Blackbeard the Pirate (RKO Radio)
Appointment in London (Mayflower Films).

   At 9.45 there was “In The News” and at 10.15 “Toppers About Town” took us to The Washington Hotel. Mary Malcolm as compère, and the show as a whole, was a flop.


   I had a letter from Peggy Bacon this morning, asking me to go for a chat with her next Friday at 5.30pm.

   I cycled to school today. In Biology we are now doing Mendelism.

   After dinner I cycled to [Grandad’s at 23 Pretoria Road, then walked along Bordesley Green and Garrison Lane to] St. Andrews to see Birmingham City play Sheffield United, the league leaders. Blues lost 2–1 but there was little to choose between the teams. Scorers were Cox for Birmingham and [space left] for Sheffield. [Birmingham City:— Merrick; Hall, Green; Boyd, Badham, Ferris; Stewart, Cox, Trigg, James, Wardle. The gate was 22,500].

   I went this evening to the Olton where the two films showing were both on my list of films to see. The first was A Girl In Every Port with Groucho Marx and William Bendix as two sailors owning race-horses. The second was The Narrow Margin, with Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor, a very good thriller set aboard a train.


   This morning I took Ginger to the park for a walk.

   I spent five or six hours doing prep.

   On TV tonight I watched “What’s My Line?” and “As You Like It”.


   I cycled to school this morning. We have had no rain now for three weeks or more.

   Nothing much happened during the day.

   After school the Chief Master saw all secretaries of societies in his study. Since Friday C.C.F. was introduced [in the afternoon instead of Thursday morning] there have been many clashes between various Society meetings [with only two afternoons they can meet instead of three], with poor attendances as a result. Meetings are therefore going to be cut down to an absolute minimum of about five a year, and Societies can only have outside speakers on specified dates.

   Also, in order to cut down the cost of the Chronicle by reducing the number of pages by eight, there will now be no separate Society reports — all will be grouped under a general heading in one big column.

   I don’t suppose cricket will be cut down [which takes up a lot of space, but half the interest is in seeing how many runs each player scored, how they were out, and who took the wickets].

   I watched Jean Carson in excerpts from Love From Judy from the Saville Theatre. It is an excellent musical.


   I went to school on my bike again today. I had to be at school by 8.50 for a Bass practice, [On the way] I spent five minutes feeding the ducks and geese in the park.

   Nothing happened at school. I got home for 1.40pm.

   This afternoon I spent a couple of hours in the park with Ginger. For five minutes I stood within five feet of a Wren which was standing on a mound in the stream drinking.

   I have been doing prep. tonight.


   During the lunch hour today the XXII and Chapel Choirs began learning some Easter carols for a service of Passion Music and readings to be held at Edgbaston Old Church.

   There are four new School Prefects, John Adams, John Wilkins, Bob Lowrie and D.F. Lomax.

   Mam and Dad went to the cinema this evening. I spent a couple of hours on prep. and then watched [Arthur Askey in] “Before Your Very Eyes”. The programme was as good as the previous two in the series, if not better.


   This morning I did a sonometer experiment in the Biology Lab.

   At break there was a XXII Choir practice. In Music [immediately after], Dr. Grant talked to us about Passion music.

   I got home for 1.45pm.

   This afternoon I listened to “The Show”, a play by John Galsworthy, from 3.40 until 5.0pm after [first] doing some homework.

   It is just 9 o’clock now. At tea-time I got a telegram from the B.B.C. Peggy Bacon is ill so our chat has been put off until Tuesday evening at 6.0pm.

In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9


   In J.T.C. today I taught a section the Order Arms as one of my N.C.O.’s was away.

   I came home on the Special Bus as usual.

The LORD is thy keeper. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. Psalm 121:5,7


   I cycled to school this morning. The weather was very fine as usual. Fourth period today was remitted as the Athletic Sports were held at 2.15pm.

   I listened this afternoon to the Blackpool v ’Spurs Semi-Final at Villa Park. Blackpool won 2–1, Mudie scoring 15 seconds from the end when Ramsey tried to pass the ball back to Ditchburn. ’Spurs had most of the play. Poetic justice ...

   Bolton, leading 4–nil at half-time, only just beat Everton 4–3. Everton missed a penalty. After 3 successive home league defeats Blues won 3–1 (James 2, Badham) at Barnsley.

   This evening on TV we watched Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warriss in “Re-turn It Up”, the first of a new series.

Why are ye so fearful? Mark 4:40


   At 3.0pm this afternoon was held our service of Passion Music and Readings in Edgbaston Old Church. The Choir sang My Dancing Day (traditional), The Twelve Apostles and The Crown of Roses (P.I. Tschaikovsky), and the eight lessons were read by representatives from each House.

   On TV tonight I watched “The Troubled Air” by Raymond Byrnes and Alvin Rakoff from Irwin Shaw’s novel.

The LORD thy God ... will rejoice over thee with joy: He will rest in His love. He will joy over thee with singing. Zechariah 3:17


   Nothing happened at school this morning.

   Afternoon school was remitted for the Medical Sixth as we were going to Broadmoor Wood near Rubery to do some plant ecology.

   We had an extremely fine day, the warmest for about six months, I should think. We spent an hour in the wood listing species, then we went off to the other plant communities, ending up at Rednal at 5.15pm or a little later.

   On TV tonight we have seen “Any Questions?” with Sir Compton Mackenzie, Frank Byers, Percy Cudlipp and Ralph Whiteman; then there was “Come Dancing”. this time from the Casino Ballroom, Birmingham.

To God only wise be glory, through Jesus Christ for ever. Romans 16:27


   Queen Mary is dying. She has been ill for a month with a recurrence of her gastric trouble. Her doctors were called to her on Feb. 24th and have been issuing daily statements since. However, yesterday it was announced that these would be stopped and statements would be issued from time to time.

   Then this morning came the announcement, posted at 11.45am:—

Queen Mary had a restless night due to a sudden recurrence of more severe symptoms of gastric trouble. Her Majesty’s condition is causing some anxiety.

   At 1.40pm a second bulletin:—

During the past hours, Queen Mary’s condition has become more grave. There has been a serious weakening of the heart action, which gives rise to increasing anxiety.

   The 9.0pm News has just told us:—

Queen Mary’s strength is ebbing. Her Majesty is sleeping peacefully.

   “The Goon Show” has been cancelled in view of the contents of the 9 o’clock News. Visitors to Queen Mary today included all the Royal Family and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Geoffrey Fisher.

   Peggy Bacon was not at the B.B.C. when I went tonight.

Jesus only. Mark 9:8

   Queen Mary died at 10.20 last night and so came to an end a most eventful life. What great changes took place during her life-time! Queen Mary was born on May 26th 1867, the daughter of the Duke of Cambridge, grand-daughter of George III who came to the throne in 1760, and a first cousin of Queen Victoria. In 1891 Princess May was engaged to marry the Duke of Clarence but he died of fever shortly before the marriage was due to take place. Princess May was persuaded to marry his brother the Duke of York, who was then heir to [the] throne. They had six children. The Duke and Duchess became Prince & Princess of Wales on the death of Victoria in 1901, and they came to the throne nine years later.

   In 1919 [on 18th January] their youngest son, Prince John, who was 13, died. In 1929 George V became seriously ill but recovered. In 1935 they celebrated the 25th year of their reign; eight months later George V was buried at Windsor. Almost immediately, another great sorrow came to her: her son, now Edward VIII, abdicated and George VI came to the throne in his stead. In 1942 she lost another son: the Duke of Kent was killed in an air crash. A third son, George VI, died in February 1952 and she lived to see her sixth reign — that of her granddaughter Elizabeth II. Her dearest hope had been to see her crowned ... [In 13 years’ time I shall come to know The Honourable Selina Shuttleworth, formerly a Maid of Honour to Queen Mary. She (the Queen) used to say it was strange to lose three sons by sudden death, and in each case to be informed by telephone.]

   We broke up [from school] today. We had House Prayers then first three periods as usual. Prayers and presentation of trophies was at 12.30pm. A and B Blocks had to remain at school for a lecture on the Coronation given by Dr. Adam Fox, Deacon of Westminster. Sixth forms of some other schools were present.

   On my way home I called at the B.B.C. Peggy Bacon is still away. I got home at 5.15pm.

   Tonight I went to see a French film at the Piccadilly, The Seven Deadly Sins, an X. It was a long film (140 minutes) but it was very well done. There were seven episodes — Pride, Lewdness, Laziness, Envy, Avarice and Anger, and Gluttony. Each is treated with a satirical approach with varying results in each case. I enjoyed most “Laziness” and “Gluttony” — the latter had a really fine introductory storm atmosphere, but probably the best was a seventh episode where the sin was seeing sin where none exists. Altogether an over-long but interesting film, the episodes cleverly linked with fairground sequences.

The way of the just is uprightness. Isaiah 26:7


   It rained today, first day of the holidays (!), for the first time since February 19th.

   I got up at 7.30am and after breakfast I went down the village with Ginger and bought Picturegoer.

   After dinner I spent an hour or more sorting out waste paper and taking down weather readings [from each day’s Birmingham Mail before discarding them].

   This evening I have been writing up Biology notes and listening to Radio Luxembourg. The B.B.C. has cancelled many of its programmes until after Queen Mary’s funeral next Tuesday.

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Ecclesiastes 12:1


   I got up early this morning. During the morning I read the newspapers in the Library and did some homework [on my return].

   After dinner I cycled to Stoney Lane for some horse-meat.

   The B.B.C. seems to have relented over its policy since Queen Mary’s death. At any rate, “Ray’s A Laugh”, “Life With The Lyons” and “Any Questions?” have been broadcast as usual.

   [I see from the Public Notices in last night’s Birmingham Mail that the Birmingham Borough Labour Party is holding an “Any Questions Brains Trust” at the Town Hall on Wednesday 8th April. The Brains Trust will be Rt. Hon. Hugh Gaitskell, M.P., R.H.S. Crossman, M.P., James Callaghan, M.P., Woodrow Wyatt, M.P. The Question Master is Julius Silverman, M.P. I could get a ticket, 6d, from 25A Paradise Street, and perhaps ask a question. I support the Labour Party but I am not a Communist like Tayar.]


   [My school report has come:—

PHYSICS   He works hard but his written work does not always do him justice. O.M. (Mr. Mathews)

CHEMISTRY   A very neat & diligent worker who probably gives of his best at all times, but I am still unhappy about his prospects at “A” level this year. S.D.W. (Mr. Woods)

BIOLOGY   Quiet, efficient and very interested in his work. H.W.B. (Mr. Ballance)

FRENCH   Very satisfactory. A.C.G. (Mr. Gosling).

FORM MASTER   A very loyal, responsible and intelligent boy. H.W.B. (Mr. Ballance)

HOUSEMASTER   Always keen. J.D.C. (Mr. Copland)

HEADMASTER   Physics & Chemistry will both need very careful revision in the holidays. R.G. Lunt.]

   It has rained most of today and I did not go to Birmingham City’s match against Lincoln City. The result was a 2–2 draw. Blues have now failed to win one of their last six home games, and only the two bottom teams in Division II have fewer home wins. Blues record is:—

Home Away Goals
P34 Won 9, Dr 3, L 6 Won 6, Dr 6, L 4For 59, Ag 56 Pts 39, Pos 8th
   I watched the Boat Race on TV from 11.30 until 12.30. Cambridge led all the way and won by eight lengths.

   The Grand National was broadcast at 3.0pm. 5 out of 31 horses finished:—

1st Early Mist (B. Marshall) 20–1 (20 lengths)

2nd Mont Tremblant (D. Dick) 18–1 (4 lengths)

3rd Irish Lizard (R. Turnell) 33–1

4th Overshadow (P. Taaft) 33–1

5th Senlac Hill (R. Francis) 66–1

(Time 9 mins 21.6 secs.)

   The last of the present series of “Current Release” was on TV from 8.30 until 9.30pm.


   This morning Dad and I made a nesting box for the birds.

   At 2.30 TV took us to Marlborough House to see Queen Mary leave there for the last time. Four muffled drum beats and the gun carriage bearing the coffin moved away. In front marched detachments of the R.A.F., the Brigade of Guards, the Household Cavalry, the Royal Navy and Marines, and the Massed Bands of the Brigade of Guards playing the Dead March in Saul [the funeral march from Haydn’s oratorio Saul (1739)] as well as Her Late Majesty’s stewards, pages and footmen. Behind the coffin were the four Royal Dukes, members of foreign royal families, detachments of Queen Mary’s Regiments and Nursing services etc.

   [I was specially interested to see the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, accompanying the King, the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Gloucester] behind Queen Mary’s coffin. He has not been seen in public since the Abdication in December 1935.]


   I got up at 7.15 this morning and did prep. from 8.20 until 12.30, and again from 1.15 until 2.30pm. It rained continually all morning and much of the afternoon as well.

   I had a bath at three o’clock. John Winrow came to see me and stayed until five-thirty.

   Tonight I went to the Olton to see a romantic comedy Made in Heaven (U), about young couples competing for the Dunmow flitch, having to prove that they have never had an argument. Petula Clark and David Tomlinson win it, but he allows it to be stolen while he is kissing the Hungarian maid (Sonja Ziemann)! A.E. Matthews and Athene Seyler were very good, also Richard Wattis (the vicar), Alfie Bass and Dora Bryan. It was a very funny film. The supporting picture was The Big Top (U), about the Russian circus.


   Tonight Queen Mary lies at rest in the tomb of George V in St. George’s Chapel Windsor.

   Tonight we have watched Queen Mary’s funeral on the Newsreel, followed by a review of new Continental films, then at 8.35 Down Came a Blackbird with Hugh McDermott, Eleanor Summerfield, Helen Shingler, Michael Meacham and Harold Warrender, which was very good.

   I read in tonight’s Birmingham Mail that the new Headmistress at KEHS is to be Miss D.S. Lloyd-Williams of Roedean, who is a scientist, whereas Dr. M.S. Smith (who died last year) was a classicist. There will now not be one headmistress of a senior girls’ school in Birmingham representing the Arts.

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