FRIDAY 1st MAY 1953

   We had a Physical Chemistry test for two periods this morning. In Biology we each did a rat dissection and I carried on with this in the afternoon as I did not go on parade.

   This evening I have mowed the back lawn and knocked in some posts along the hedge — the postman and paper boys have been taking short cuts into Bowens’ garden through the hedge.

   The Cup Final tomorrow is being televised in its entirety so most clubs have completed their programme now. Tonight Arsenal won the Division I Championship on goal average from Preston. Derby County and Stoke City come down.

   Birmingham beat Brentford 2–1 this evening in an away match and their final record for 1952–53 is:—

Home Away
P42 W11 D3 L7 For 44 Ag 38W8 D7 L6 For 27 Ag 28 Pts 48 Posn 6th
This I know: ... God is for me. Psalm 56:9


   As usual I cycled to school today.

   I finished my dissection in third period and Mr. Ballance let me go into the library to work on my book until the end of school.

   This afternoon Dad, Mr. D and I watched the Cup Final. It proved to be one of the most dramatic of all time. This was Blackpool’s third Final in five years — this, said everyone, would be Matthews’ last chance to win that medal.

   In less than a minute Bolton were a goal up, Lofthouse scoring from 20 yards. Farm should have saved.

   [Blackpool won 4–3 in the closing moments of the game and Stanley Matthews got an F.A. Cup Winners’ medal at last. People are going to talk about this for years.

   This evening we watched Episode 2 of the new serial and “Music Hall”].

He hath done all things well. Mark 7:37


   I have spent five or six hours today on my book but during the morning I cycled to Solihull Park. I got a fairly large amount of Cabomba for my aquarium.

   While I was at Juniper Hall Dad got a piece of glass and repaired the aquarium and yesterday I was able to fill it, having put in twelve pounds of silver sand first.

   During the afternoon I made the covers for my book and completed a few more pages.

   In “What’s My Line?” the celebrity was, of course, Stanley Matthews, who brought with him the whole Blackpool team.

The Lord knoweth them that are His. 2 Timothy 2:19


   I cycled to school today as it was again fine and warm.

   In Chemistry we did another H.S.C. [question from a Higher School Certificate exam paper on] volumetric analysis.

   I spent the whole evening doing prep. and at 10.15pm Dad and I watched a telefilm of the Cup Final.


   Nothing happened at school this morning. I came home through town and called at Jerome’s. The snapshots are not yet ready.

   After dinner I went to the Library to get a book I ordered a month ago — The Crown and The People by Allan A. Michie. [One day I am going to write a book on Britain’s Royal Throne.]

   Tonight we listened to “P.C. 49”, “The Forces Show”, and the Goons.


   I went to school on my bicycle this morning as usual. We had Physics and Biology tests.

   I went to Cannon Hill Park to eat my dinner today. [I always cycle through there on my way to school each morning]. On the lake there were about a dozen tiny Mallards, each no bigger than one’s fist. One of the Swans is this year nesting inside a car tyre, safety precautions no doubt, as last year its eggs were destroyed by a Canada Goose.

   While in the park I thought it would be a good idea to see if the Gadwall [[pic]] was still there. Sure enough it was, and this time I got a detailed description of it. I still don’t know the reason for its being there.

   This evening I listened to Henry Hall’s “Guest Night” from 9.35 until 10.15.


   I came home through town today and collected the snaps from Jerome’s. Only five of the eight exposures had been printed: most of them had been spoiled by light getting into the camera.

   I also booked a seat at the Theatre Royal for Call Me Madam which began a three weeks run there on April 27th. The ticket is for next Thursday evening at 7.0pm.

   I went to the Library after dinner and got Plays of the Year 1949–1950. This includes Young Wives’ Tale by Ronald Jeans, Castle in the Air by Alan Melville, Tartuffe by Molière.


   We had a Chemistry test this morning. In Biology I did slide drawings of mucor, cystopus, yeast etc. [[pix]]

   I spent the afternoon working on my book.

   This evening I took down a month’s weather readings and had a bath before going down to the Olton [with Ginger] to meet Mam and Dad [coming out of the cinema].

   We had two pieces of good news this morning. We are booked up [for a holiday] at Margate from July 25th until August 8th (D.V.), and Dad has got a driving licence. He has held one since 1936–1937 [for a motor bike, but has not driven since his bad accident before the War. He has never had to take a driving test.

   The War has now been over for eight years.]


   I cycled to school today and on my way home I got some horse-meat from Buddie’s.

   In Music Dr. Grant played more of Schubert’s Symphony in C Major which I rather liked.

   I did some revision of slides in Biology.

   During the afternoon I listened to a commentary on the Lancs. v Warwickshire, and Surrey v Australia matches. Warwickshire, who lost their first match v Kent by 90–odd runs, hit up 403 after being 10 for 2. Spooner scored 168, Dollery 87, Gardner 68 and Townsend 42.

   The Australians put Surrey out for 58 before lunch, then scored 250 for 9 in reply.

   Tonight we watched the serial and a new variety show “Good Idea, Son”, starring Max Bygraves. It was very good in parts but rather indifferent at others.


   I made an effort today to complete my book but I still have half a dozen pages to write.

   The weather has again been fine and warm.

   We watched “What’s My Line?” as usual.


   I wore my basher this morning as the weather is remaining fine.

   I spent the whole of the dinner hour outside in the sunshine, and first period of the afternoon too as I am still unable to do Gym.

   This evening I went to see [Virginia Mayo and Ronald Reagan] in She’s Working Her Way Through College at the Warwick. Picturegoer gave it only one star, but as far as I am concerned, it was jolly good entertainment, gay and colourful but with not much of a story. Anyway, who bothers about the story so long as the song and dance routines are well put over?

   The supporting picture, Once A Sinner (A), with Pat Kirkwood, Jack Watling and Joy Shelton, was not very good.


   I heard from Peggy Bacon this morning. My programme will be broadcast at 5.30pm on May 25th [Whit Monday]. We are having a general audition on Monday at 6.0 and, if necessary, a further rehearsal the following day at 6.30, and the recording [will be made] on Wednesday at 5.30pm. I do hope this won’t prevent my taking part in the Requiem.

   [I wrote a notice about the broadcast this afternoon and put it up before] I went for my interview with Dr. H.G. Sammons at 5.0pm. There were several others being interviewed and I did not see Dr. Sammons until 6.45. The interview lasted about fifteen minutes and I got back home shortly before eight.

   In a fight for the British and British Empire Heavyweight Championship to which we listened tonight, Don Cockell beat Johnny Williams on points. It was one of the most boring fights I have ever heard.


   We had House prayers this morning instead of tomorrow.

   My trio is now a duo. Eddie Hateley has not been able to practise and will be unable to take part in the broadcast now. We had a practice during the dinner hour today. We are not yet certain as to which songs will be played. Ring Out the Bells (let’s have a celebration) followed by Fascinatin’ Rhythm would make a good introduction, while Tea for Two and Father’s Doing Fine would do to close the programme.

   Phipps gave a very good talk to the N.H.S. tonight on “The Flora of the Birmingham Area” which a dozen boys attended. It was the first Botany talk we’ve had in years.

   Tonight we watched Gilbert Harding & Carole Carr in a variety “Nuts In May”, and a West Country play “For Want Of A Nail” by Brenda Hamilton.


   We had a special Ascension Day service conducted by the Chaplain [the Rev. F.J. Williams] this morning. [He is going to be ordained as a priest on Sunday June 7th at the Cathedral.]

   We had a Practical Physics test. I had to do a sonometer experiment.

   [I have discovered that Benson has initialled the notice I put up on Tuesday:— “D.H.B. (N.B. I should like to have seen this before it was posted. D.H.B.)”] [[illus]]

   Tonight I went to see Call Me Madam at the Theatre Royal. It was very good.


   I cycled to school today. There was a Choir Practice at 8.50am. We had a Chemistry test as usual.

   We may, after all, have a trio for our broadcast. Laurie Arthur is, we have found, an excellent drummer and may take over from Colin Roberts, who would then be free to play the double bass.

   We had a practice today at 1.30 in the Music Room, then we moved to Big School and played till three. R.M. Wilkinson had the school tape-recorder so we recorded several items.


   I did not cycle to school this morning but I managed to get home [on the 1A ’bus] for 1.15pm. We had intended to go to Yarningale and we actually set out for the station but we decided not to go when we had a terrific hail storm. The weather was very indifferent all day and it rained several times.

   No play was possible in the M.C.C. v Australians match so TV put on a film Sailors Ashore. At the Oval Surrey beat Warwickshire by an innings and 49 runs in just over 6 hours play. The scores were:—

Warwicks: 45 (Spooner 16, Bedser 8 for 18) and 52 (Taylor 20, Laker 5 for 29 including hat-trick, Bedser 4 for 17). Surrey: 146 (Constable 37, K. Dollery 4 for 40).

   As usual this evening we watched another episode of “Strictly Personal” and “Re-turn It Up”.


   Today has been fine and warm and I have spent quite a lot of time working in the garden.

   I took Ginger out at 9.15 and on the way home I found a House Martin lying on the grass at the corner [of Wetherby Road]. It had apparently hit the telephone wires overhead. I examined it carefully and it appeared to be uninjured but stunned. When I released it in the garden a short time afterwards, it flew over the boards and disappeared.


   After Choir practice today I went along to the Music Room. Colin Roberts managed to get hold of the Double Bass and the trio were thus able to play together for the first time. The result was quite excellent.

   This evening at 5.45pm we all met outside the Hall of Memory and then went to the B.B.C. [just up the road at at 282 Broad Street]. Unfortunately we could not rehearse the trio because we had no instruments. However, Michael [Jacks] is borrowing a bass and a set of drums in time for tomorrow’s rehearsal.

   Robert Roe and I will introduce the programme. Everyone tried Trow’s “Train” and Geoff Stringer got it, but no one could read [John] Renton’s “Sailing” really well so I’m asking [Roger] Wilkinson to come along tomorrow to try it. [He was outstanding as Richard III in the School Play in January.]

   My casting for the play worked very well right from the start and no alterations were necessary.


   At 6.30pm we had another rehearsal at Broad Street. Michael managed to borrow a bass and set of drums and we tried out the trio first of all. They played a couple of numbers and so passed their audition after playing together for the first time only a few hours before — quite a feat! What a stroke of luck that I should “discover” Laurie with just two or three days to go.

   We were in a small studio, No. 4A. After the trio we tried Roger Wilkinson with Renton’s “Sailing” and he will be reading it tomorrow. We had a run through the whole programme with me linking the items spontaneously. Peggy liked my introductions which I made up as we went along, so Robert and I will use them in the recording.

   Our run through took 23 minutes, so more or less everything had to be cut. [I did ask Peggy whether we could have 5 minutes extra but she said no, because “The Week’s Programmes” comes on at 5.50]. The trio will play Ring Out the Bells & Father’s Doing Fine.


   Kipper took John [Maund], Christopher and I [sic] to school in his car today.

   Nothing much happened at school. The Choir had last period off for a final Requiem rehearsal. As I guessed I was unable to take part [in tonight’s performance because of the recording for the broadcast; I am very disappointed].

   I got to the B.B.C. for ten past four. Peggy Bacon read through my narrations and they needed little changing. Then I bought coffee and scones for Geoff and John Silk in the B.B.C. Restaurant before we began rehearsing. We had a bit of trouble getting the correct balance for the trio (they had three mikes) but we got it right in the end.


   We had another Practical Physics test this morning. I did a Light experiment.

   In Biology we are now doing Evolution [which interests me very much.

   I put up a notice today:—

   I should like to thank everyone concerned in last night’s recording for Whit Monday’s Children’s Hour. It really was a fine performance and well worthy of the school.

   Thankyou also to those who submitted their work but did not have it included in our programme. The time at our disposal and not the standard of these items, was the deciding factor.

   The programme will be broadcast in the Midland Home Service next Monday at 5.30pm. Any broadcasters unable to listen in may arrange with me to hear the recording played over at the B.B.C. at a later date.

      Brian D. Williams.

   Mercer initialled it for me as Benson was not around.]

   When I had done all my prep tonight I listened to the radio: “Ray’s A Laugh”, “Take It From Here” and “Prisoner at the Bar”.

   Edgar Lustgarten’s series is enormously popular. Tonight’s prisoner was Adelaide Bartlett [who in 1886 was charged with the murder of her husband Edwin Bartlett. She was a Frenchwoman, born out of wedlock — her father may have been a titled member of Queen Victoria’s retinue when she visited Paris in 1855. Adelaide married Edwin in 1875 but he was a strange man, more interested in his grocery business than in his wife. He invited a Wesleyan minister, the Rev. George Dyson, to be her tutor and the two fell in love. Edwin died of chloroform poisoning on 31st December 1885, administered in a glass of brandy. When she was acquitted the court erupted in cheering, but Sir James Paget said, “Now the case is over, she should tell us in the interests of science, how she did it”.]

   There was a letter for me at school yesterday from Dr. Sammons [at the Medical School. I can start there as a technician in January and shall earn £2 15s 0d per week].

   I found this morning that “Pot-Pourri” was mentioned in “Midland Diary” in the [Birmingham] Post, but I was very surprised to see my photo in tonight’s [Evening] Despatch. I was in the [Acocks Green Public] Library reading room when I saw my face staring up at me.

   We broke up for half term at 12.30 and I came home through town [to have a look round and see the Coronation decorations. At the Town Hall there is the Coronation Festival of Music starting on Sunday week with a concert by the CBSO conducted by Rudolf Schwarz, and Yehudi Menuhen—it is nearly sold out. There will be concerts most nights until 12th April. Last night there was the first public lecture in Great Britain on “Dianetics” given by L. Ron Hubbard. The advert says it is to make the able more able, but to me it sounds like an eating disorder.]

   I got up at nine o’clock this morning.

   Mr. Titmus finished decorating the dining room at 5.30 last night and came this morning to collect some of his materials. Mr. Titmus’s decorating has not been entirely satisfactory but the dining room does look much better.

   This afternoon I went to the Library to read the newspapers [and found a small item, “On the air at Whitsun”, in the Birmingham News] and also did some shopping. I bought a bottle of weed-killer for application to the lawn.

   At 9.15pm TV presented Rookery Nook, a farce by Ben Travers, with Peter Cushing and David Stoll.


   It has been hot today and I have spent most of the day in the garden.

   Everyone seems to be getting rather Coronation conscious now with only nine days to go. Decorations are going up all over the country. During the day Dad put ours up — a line of coloured flags and two Union Jacks.

   Yesterday afternoon I bought some “Lornox” weed-killer for lawns, and tonight I made up the solution and sprayed both the front and back lawns using a stirrup-pump borrowed from Mr. Bowen.

   This done, I listened to “The Pleasure Boat” at 9.0pm.


   This evening we all listened to “Pot-Pourri”. It really came off awfully well. The “order of service” was:—

Quadringentos (one verse)
Michael Jacks Trio: Ring Out the Bells
Benjamin — written and read by Robert Roe.
Snatch of Destination Moon
Space Travel — written & read by Geoff Stringer
Rondo in A by Gerald Brindley
Sailing — written by John Renton, read by Roger Wilkinson
Secret Hiding Places, written & read by Michael Hodgetts
Snatch of Coronation Scot
The Train — written by David Trew, read by Geoff Stringer
Australia — written and read by John Winrow
Play: “The Alchemist” by Paul Bradley, with Paul Bradley,
   Michael Hodgetts, John Silk, Robert Roe and Peter Wyatt
Michael Jacks Trio: Father’s Doing Fine

   It has been the hottest day this year. I did prep. this morning & took Ginger to the park after dinner.

   Tonight we have been listening to the radio.

   There is nothing of particular interest for me to record tonight [except that this week’s Picture Show, which I get every Tuesday, has the Queen on the cover — a big picture of her attending the Royal Command Film Performance last November. The film was M.G.M.’s Because You’re Mine with Mario Lanza and Doretta Morrow.

   Down the left of the cover there are three Gaumont-British Newsreel pictures taken when the Queen went to see Les Belles de Nuit at the Rialto Theatre, London, for the French Film Festival.

   The centre page spread is devoted as usual to two films — Elizabeth is Queen, for which there has already been some preliminary shooting, and The Mudlark which is about a little orphan boy (Andrew Ray) helping Disraeli (Alec Guinness) to persuade Queen Victoria to come out of seclusion after Prince Albert’s death.

   I rarely have time to more than scan Picture Show or Picturegoer but I see from this one that Marilyn Monroe will be 25 on June 1st, and Gilbert Harding 46 on the 5th. There is also an article about 3-dimensional films, especially House of Wax which has just had its première in London. I would very much like to see this if it comes to Birmingham.]

   This evening we have watched a comedy, “Two of Everything” by Basil Thomas with Henry Kendall and Pat Kirkwood, at 8.45pm.


   We went back to school today. [At the County Ground an England XI, captained by Len Hutton, was starting a match against The Rest.]

Thus saith the LORD ... I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sunder the bars of iron. Isaiah 45:1–2


   We had a test in Physics today. Unfortunately it had to be cut short as the school photograph was taken during third period. After break there was only ten minutes left of our Music Option.

   I played my first cricket game of the season this afternoon, v Prince Lee 2nd XI in the Knock-Out [competition]. Our opponents batted first and scored 88 after being 87 for 7. We made 50. I went in last man and was clean bowled second ball. The only satisfaction I could get was that I provided [the bowler] with his ninth wicket of the innings. I don’t know how anyone can be so notoriously bad a batsman. The last time I scored a run was on July 20th 1951 when I got 1 not out.

   In Prisoner At The Bar tonight we listened to the case of Frederick Sedden. He was a successful businessman and Freemason who in 1911 let out the top floor of his house to a Miss Eliza Barrow, a spinster with a hoard of money. She had a bilious attack, died two weeks later, and was buried in a pauper’s grave. Some cousins enquiring about her were shocked to hear she was dead and her hoard of money gone. They went to the police; the body was exhumed and found to contain arsenic obtained from fly-papers which Mrs. Seddon admitted buying. The Seddons were arrested and tried. Mrs. Seddon was acquitted but Frederick was found guilty and sentenced to death. He then made a secret sign to the judge — who was a Freemason too — but was told the law must take its course.

   Seddon was executed at 8 am on Friday 12th April 1912. By then the Titanic was 20 hours into her maiden voyage. The murderer whose crime could “never be detected” went to the gallows, and the ship which “even God couldn’t sink” went to the ocean bed.


   We had a special Coronation Service this morning, and very impressive it was too. The hymn was All People that on Earth Do Dwell, sung to a special arrangement by Dr. Ralph Vaughan Williams of the Old Hundredth, and complete with a fanfare. The service also included Te Deum sung by the Choral Society, and afterwards form representatives went up to receive parcels of New Testaments, the School’s Coronation gift to us boys. [[illus]]

   In Biology we continued Evolution.

   After dinner I played football with Gerald Brindley and a few others.

   I came home through town so as to meet Mam [at the Co-op] in High Street and buy me a pair of shoes. [She used her check number 205988 as usual, so as to get the dividend. We buy groceries and greengroceries from the Co-op down the village, and make other purchases from the big store in High Street, where I can remember Mam bringing me even before the War.

   We have the Co-op milkman as well, and he has pencilled 205988 on our wall so that he can be writing out the check while Mam is finding the money. A carbon copy is taken of all the checks issued so that every member of the Co-op can get their dividend. Mam sometimes takes us up in the lift to the top floor offices to collect her dividend. It is about £2, I think — it doesn’t seem very much. Mam always sees that 205988 is clearly written, but who does the sorting out and adding up? It must be a mammoth task.

   I wish some newspapers would make sure of their facts before they print them. [There is an article “Brian realises a Whitsun ambition” in today’s Birmingham News, which concludes: “His ambitions? To become a dentist — and to play in a musical comedy”!]

   I had a cheque for £7 17s 6d this morning [from the B.B.C. I shall have to pay it into the Midland Bank and then take some money out to pay everyone who took part in the broadcast. I am keeping the counterfoil of the cheque, No. 50291, in the back of the diary.]

   Tonight I went to the Shakespeare Society [at the Chief Master’s House]. We read a tragedy this time — Henry IV, in which I took part as the Lord Marshal.


   After getting home [from Edgbaston] at 10.45 last night, I sat up until 12.45 this morning watching a special “Coronation Music Hall”.

The words of the LORD are pure. Psalm 12:6

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