MONDAY 1st JUNE 1953
   I had a letter from Margaret [in Canada] this morning. She tells me that the boys at her school had just had their Annual Inspection and wondered whether we had one here!

   This year we are being inspected by Air Vice-Marshal C.E.N. Guest, C.B., C.B.E., O.E. on July 10th.

   [I did not have to go to school this morning as we have three days off for the Coronation. I have bought the Picture Post Special Coronation Souvenir Number One (Vol 59, No. 10) price 1/-. It contains articles on “The Burden of Queenship” by Sachaverell Sitwell, “A Modern Consort” by Roger Fulford, and “The Man who will Crown the Queen” (Dr. Geoffrey Fisher, who has written a prayer specially for Picture Post readers).

   There are other other articles on Coronations of the past, the State Coach, Westminster Abbey, the choristers, the page boys and maids of honour, the Regalia, also a key to the Procession and a guide to the Coronation Service which we shall watch on TV tomorrow so long as the set does not break down!

   It is a very lavish issue, the front cover printed all in gold except for the Picture Post in the usual red and white and the Royal Coat-of-Arms in the centre surrounded by flowers. I shall always keep it.

   I am also enjoying looking at the adverts from big American companies such as American Express, T.W.A., and 20th Century-Fox, and others for B.S.A. Bicycles (Armoury Road), Knight’s Castile soap, Shell (a poem entitled The Crowning of a British Queen), Dulux paint, Parker ‘51’ Pens, Ilford Films, Snowcem, G.C.E., Brooke Bond tea, Persil, Cadbury’s, Kraft, Milk of Magnesia, Nivea suntan, Beecham’s Pills (which are worth a guinea a box), Robinson’s orange squash, Lifebuoy (who are offering a 1953 Hillman Minx Coupé as 1st prize in their competition), Lantigen ‘B’, Whitbread, English Electric, and the Adana printing machine (which costs only £4 17s 6d).

   Everyone is at a fever-pitch of excitement waiting for tomorrow.


   I don’t think I shall ever forget today. London had never seen anything like this, perhaps never will again. One woke up with a feeling of excitement, expectancy — this was THE day.

   I turned on the radio just before 9.0am. The announcer said, “This is the B.B.C. Today is the Coronation Day of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. God save the Queen.” And then there was something in the News which added to the growing tension — Everest had been conquered by a New Zealander [Edmund Hillary, and Sherpa Tenzing on 29th May]. What a magnificent Coronation gift to the Queen!

   TV transmission began at 10.15 when the cameras took us to Buckingham Palace. A few minutes, and a sudden outburst of cheering — the State procession could be seen at the Palace gates. And then the Golden coach and a radiant, smiling Queen with her Consort. The sight of a young Queen on the way to her crowning was both joyful and moving and brought tears to one’s eyes. This for me was one of the most supreme moments of the whole day. I shall remember it for the rest of my life ...

   We saw the Queen Mother arrive at the Abbey and then came the Queen herself.

   [I went down the village to the Post Office this morning and bought the set of four beautiful Coronation stamps. They are the 2½d red, 4d blue, 1/3d green and 1/6d blue. I stuck them on one of the special envelopes I got, and asked the man behind the counter if he would put the circular Post Office date-stamp in the middle where the corners of the four stamps meet. He did this very neatly, so I now have another “First Day Cover”.

   It has again been a bitterly cold and miserable day with a north wind blowing, but at least it has not rained. It feels more like February though, and not very pleasant for the street parties postponed from yesterday.

   I went to the Robin Hood tonight to see April in Paris (A) with Doris Day, Ray Bolger, Claude Dauphin and Eve Miller. Doris Day is a chorus girl mistakenly invited to an Arts Festival in Paris, and Ray Bolger a diplomat. It was excellent. The supporting film was No Haunt for a Gentleman (U) with Anthony Pendrell, Sally Newton, Jack MacNaughton and Dorothy Summers which I also enjoyed. There was also a trailer for Elizabeth is Queen which is coming soon.]


   At school today the whole of Physics [first three periods, two hours] was spent in going through last week’s test and revision.

   In Music [4th period] Dr. [Willis] Grant played us “storm” music by Beethoven, Rossini and Benjamin Britten. The latter composer was honoured in the Coronation Honours list and becomes a Companion of Honour. He is 39 and was born in Lowestoft.

   In Biology [5th period] we are doing some final revision — today we did Excretion.

   I came home through town [catching the 31A as usual. Workmen were busy in New Street removing traffic bollards outside the Theatre Royal and at the junctions with Ethel Street and Temple Street, also in Colmore Row and Victoria Square].

   During the afternoon I wrote to the Principal of the College of Technology [in Suffolk Street] asking whether they can take me on as a part-time student in January.

   Yesterday was the coldest June day ever recorded in Birmingham, the temperature rising to only 49° and falling to a record 42° last night; the previous coldest was 46° in June 1909.


   Nothing in particular happened at school today. With only six days to go, the accent is on Physics, Physics, Physics ... [Mr. Mathews has given us a forecast of what the questions are likely to be, based on what was not been asked in the last two or three years’ exam papers. Mr. Ballance has done the same for Biology and Mr. Woods for Chemistry.

   I see from last night’s Birmingham Mail that all babies born in Birmingham on Coronation Day will receive 2 guineas. I wish they had done that for babies born on 31st July 1935, but it was not an auspicious day.]


   Grace and Arthur were married at St. Cyprian’s Church at 3.30pm today. [The sun shone for the wedding after cloudy and bitterly cold weather all week.]

   There was a big Coronation Procession in town so we came out of school at 11.50am.

   We had a big rush to get to Granma’s [as we had to wait so long for a ’bus]. We were supposed to be there at 2.30 but it was nearly that time and we were at the wrong end of the 11 ’bus queue. [We were going on the Outer Circle ’bus to the Swan, Yardley, then catching a ’bus down Coventry Road to Hay Mills]. However, at my suggestion, we caught the 44 [which took us down Warwick Road to Tyseley] and 36 and got there just after three.

   All Mam’s family were there — Granma and Grandad, Leslie & Nancy, Harold & Nellie, Arthur & Greta, Reg & Ruth, David & Marjorie, and Joyce & her boy-friend Stanley. David was best man and Marjorie and Joyce were bridesmaids.

   The reception was held at St Cyprian’s Memorial Hall. We had a very nice meal (the caterers were from Sheldon), followed by speeches and toasts, then the band played and we all danced. We went in a car to the church and had a family photograph taken.


   I spent this morning doing homework. [The papers are full of pictures and stories about the Coronation, and I am going to keep the Sunday Graphic 8-page Souvenir.]

   After dinner I went with Mam and Dad to the Mission in the Moores’ car. Actually today’s service was a sort of Bible-class and was held in a tiny room at St. Andrews Street.

   Tonight’s play was specially commissioned by the B.B.C. for Coronation week. It was a comedy, All on a Summer’s Day by R.F. Delderfield. Quite an unpretentious effort it nevertheless achieved some measure of success even though it became too sentimental towards the end. On the other hand I think sentimentality was almost inevitable, he would be a strange type indeed who felt no emotion at Tuesday’s events. Filmed sequences of the Coronation were made good use of.

   Arlene Francis from the U.S.A. edition of W.M.L. [“What’s My Line?”] was a guest panellist tonight.


   I cycled to school today as the weather seems to be fine once more. [It was very poor for the Coronation.]

   When we finished reading L’Avare the other day, I suggested that we read Guy de Maupassant short stories, so we began [space left for title] last Thursday and continued it today.

   During the dinner hour I took part in a hilarious game of football.

   We had a Physical Chemistry test during sixth period; during last period we cleaned out our lockers in readiness for the Practical exam. Mine is on June 19th at 2.0pm.

   After school the N.H.S. met to see three films: “Self-Defence By Plants”, “Microscopic Animals” and “The Tawny Owl”.

   We watched Jean Sablon at 9.0pm.


   Today was our last day at school for three weeks, apart from exams. After prayers we had to stay behind for some final gen on G.C.E.

   Cycling to school today I completed my 2,000 miles. [John Winrow gave me the cyclometer on 10th August 1951 and I fitted it the next day. I completed 100 miles on 25th September which is 46 days, averaging 2.1739 miles per day, this being the reciprocal of 46. I have now cycled 2007 miles in 667 days, which, from my log tables, works out at 3.0090 miles per day.]

   This afternoon I went to the [Midland] bank to withdraw £7 1s 0d so that I can pay those who took part in “Pot-Pourri”. I am giving everyone half a guinea, David Trow and John Renton 7s 6d each, leaving 16s 6d for me. I reckon the B.B.C. would normally have had to pay out about twenty guineas for the programme.

   On TV tonight we have watched The Name’s the Same and the Big Fight between Randolph Turpin and Charles Humez (France). Turpin won on points, and so regained the World Middleweight title, but the crowd booed him at the end as he should have won easily instead of allowing Humez to take the initiative. He got £18,000 for winning.


   I have spent most of today completing my Physics revision [but have also bought Picture Post again (1/-), the Coronation Souvenir Number Two. It has 104 pages, including the gold and red cover with a portrait of the Queen wearing her crown.

   It is a wonderful issue with marvellous photographs, some in full colour, and special advertisements for Lucozade, Ecko, Baracuta raincoats, Ford Consul, Ovaltine, Phillips Bicycles, Thermos, Agfacolor, Mackintosh’s, C.W.S., Gibbs dentifrice, Belling, Spangles, Morris Motors, Wolsey socks, I.C.I., Huntley & Palmers, Gillette, Breeze soap, Gilbey’s whisky, Booth’s Dry Gin, Rowntree’s Fruit Gums, Barratt shoes, Kia-Ora fruit squash, Pepsodent toothpaste and many others.

   One of the most interesting is for Picture Post itself. The next two issues will contain sensational 3-D pictures, together with 3-D specs.

   Next week’s issue will also contain photographs of the Archers — Dan & Doris, Christine & Phil, Walter Gabriel & Mrs. P., Mr. Fairbrother, Grace, Clive Lawson-Hope etc. — which we listen to at 6.45 in the evening. It is very popular. We used to listen to “Dick Barton, Special Agent”, then when that finished, “Adventure Unlimited” and “The Daring Dexters”.

   Everybody’s has also produced a Coronation Number, 56 pages, 6d, with a splendid cover, photographs and other illustrations.]


   Well, the Physics could have been worse but not very much. We had both papers today — six hours in all. I made rather a mess of them too but I may be able to pick up a few extra marks on the Practical next Wednesday.

   I came home with John through town.

   Robert Roe called at about 7.30pm for his money. [He is in the Classical Sixth and lives at 4 Hazelmere Road, Hall Green.]

   The 1st Test match began today at Trent Bridge, but there was only 4½ hours play due to rain and bad light. Australia scored 157 for 3 (Bedser 3 for 26).


   Dr. Willis Grant asked me to join the Chapel Choir earlier this week as they were singing Evensong in the Cathedral tonight. I had to go to school especially this morning for a practice and I got home again at 10.0am.

   In Park Vale I saw a peculiar bird which I have not been able to identify. It was yellow with brown markings like a Yellow Bunting, but its belly was bright red. Wings and tail were brown, and the red was particularly noticeable in flight. It was about 6.5 inches in length . [My memory must be at fault — I can find no such bird in Birds of the Wayside and Woodland].

   The Practical Biology wasn’t too bad. We had slides of the Tapeworm and Mucor, a dissection to show the Dorsal Aorta of the mouse, and we had to cut a section of a root.

   Evensong was at 6.0pm. We sang the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, and an anthem, O Lord, Increase My Faith by Orlando Gibbons.


   I had to go to register for National Service today. I went to the Ministry of Labour and National Service Offices in Waverley Road, Small Heath, at 2.30, taking with me the form which gives me deferment until July 1954.

   We watched “Re-turn It Up” this evening. Guest stars were Michael Bentine and George & Bert Bernard. The Bernard Brothers miming act is extremely clever.

   There was not space yesterday to record that I had a letter from Jean Holden, Peggy Bacon’s secretary. Enclosed was a letter from a lady who wrote to the B.B.C. saying how greatly she had enjoyed “Pot-Pourri” and that it displayed “real talent”. As we have been invited to hear a play-back next Wednesday I put a notice up at school.

   In the Test Match England were all out for 144 in reply to Australia’s 249. Yesterday Hassett and Miller put on 119 for the 3rd wicket before Miller was caught. At lunch they were 243 for 4. After lunch Australia lost the remaining 6 wickets for 6 runs! (Bedser 7 for 55). England were soon 17 for 3 (Simpson and Compton both out for 0) and were 92 for 6 when bad light ended play for the day. Today they avoided the follow on but were all out for 144. Australia scored only 123 in their 2nd innings (Morris 60, Bedser 7 for 44), so England need only 187 to win with 9 wickets left!


   I spent most of this morning and afternoon revising Chemistry.

   Tonight, however, Mam, Dad and I watched Terence Rattigan’s farce Harlequinade, with Eric Portman, Mary Ellis and Marie Lohr in the parts they created on the London stage five years ago.

   As a TV production, Harlequinade missed the ’bus. Admittedly it raised a few chuckles now and again but never the real belly laughs a farce should provide. To describe it as a farce is wrong, comedy would be more strictly correct. And in any case, a farce should never be presented without an audience, in my opinion.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy. Psalm 103:8


   I spent the whole of this morning and afternoon completing my Chemistry revision.

   Tonight I listened to episode 2 of the new serial “Dead Silence” which has been adapted from a story by Simon Rattray, and also “T.I.F.H.”

   The big event of the day has been the Queen’s Review of the Fleet.

   We watched Carroll Levis on teLEVISion tonight.


   We had both Chemistry papers today. Paper I was hard and I don’t think I scored more than 28% but Paper II was much better and I think I got well over half marks. With a decent Practical exam, I may get 40%.

   I got home at about 6.30pm. After tea I looked through some Practical Physics notes then listened to “The Name’s The Same”, and Jewel and Warriss in “The Forces Show”.

   On TV at 9.35 we had another excerpt from one of the current West End productions, For Better, For Worse, a family comedy by Arthur Watkyn. It gave me more amusement than any TV item for weeks — I hope it comes to Birmingham soon. I have said before that we should have more of this sort of programme, tonight’s excerpt was further proof. Leading players were Geraldine McEwan & Leslie Phillips.

   The Test Match finished in a draw. Play was not resumed until 4.30pm. England, needing 187 to win, scored 120 for 1. Bedser’s 14 wickets for 99 is a new Test record for England.

Seek, and ye shall find. Luke 11:9


   This morning I took Practical Physics B in the Senior Physics Lab. — the first time I’ve worked in there during my six years at K.E.S.

   There were four experiments of which two had to be done. For the first I had to place a glass block on a sheet of graph paper, put a plane mirror against one face and then trace incident rays into and out of the opposite face after they had been reflected by the mirror. A graph of 1/d2 against 1/sin2i was plotted, d being the distance between the points of entry and emergence of each ray. I measured the slope of the graph — we were told this was equal to 4t2/u2 where t was the distance between the faces of the block and u the refractive index of glass. I found u to be 1.7.

   The second experiment I did was a straightforward one on the tangent galvanometer, plotting R against cotO.

O LORD, I will praise Thee. Isaiah 12:1


   I went to the Olton last night to see Rough Shoot (U) and The Magnetic Monster (A). I had not intended to see either of these films but Mr. D. said it was a good programme. Rough Shoot was a British thriller adapted from the novel by Geoffrey Household, with Joel McCrea, Evelyn Keyes and Marius Goring; while The Magnetic Monster was an American science-fiction film about a newly-discovered radio-active element which draws energy from its surroundings causing everything to collapse into it.

   Yesterday afternoon I met the boys from school at 4.45pm outside the Hall of Memory, then we all trooped up Broad Street to 282 and were directed to Studio 4 to listen to the recording of “Pot-Pourri”.

   The 1st Test ended in a draw. England, needing 373 to win, scored 120 for 1.


   Seven gone, two to go. I cycled to school for this afternoon’s Practical Chemistry C.

   For Volumetric [Analysis], we had to find the ratio of NH4Cl to (NH4)2SO4 by adding Formaldehyde to the solution, then titrating the total acid liberated against N/10 AgNO3. Looking through my volumetric analyses last night. I found just this one experiment for which I was not sure how to work out the results. I don’t know yet whether I have done the calculation correctly or not.

   My mixture in the Qualitative Analysis contained Cobalt, Carbonate, Sodium (or Potassium) and Sulphate. Altogether I should just get a pass mark in Chemistry.

   I met John outside school at 5.30 and came home with him.

   This evening I have had a bath.

God is thy refuge. Deuteronomy 33:27


   This morning I fetched some horse-meat [for Ginger]. Buddies’ had none so I had to go to Stoney Lane.

   I met Ian Hunt on his motor bike. [He was in the Mod.Lang.VI at school, with (among others) Philip Martin, K.A.F. Brewin, J. de C. Ling, P.H.R. Mercer and J.D. Waterstreet — but left two years ago. He still lives at 302 Olton Boulevard East.]

   I went to the Library tonight and got Call For The Saint by Leslie Charteris. It contains two stories, “The King of the Beggars” and “The Masked Angel”.


   I have been busy all day on Physics.

   After “What’s My Line?” tonight, we watched “The Road”, adapted from the French play Nationale 6 by Jean Jacques Bernard. It starred Josephine Griffin (Francine) and Wilfred Lawson.


   I have been reading Biology for the most part of today.

   The only radio programme I listened to was Monday Matinee — Ian Hay’s comedy The Housemaster. This is the current production of the Alexandra Repertory Company [in Birmingham].


   I spent this morning doing a little last minute revision for this afternoon’s Biology I Paper. It wasn’t a particularly difficult paper. I wrote ten sides but could have written half as many again had there been more time.

   The last question [cost me a lot of time though as it] was stupidly worded:— “What biological facts are revealed by the study of a habitat?” What exactly constitutes a “biological fact” I’m not sure. [The question actually reads:— “What biological facts which could not be revealed by laboratory studies can be ascertained by the study of either (i) a common group of animals or plants in the field, or (ii) the fauna and flora of a well-defined habitat?” Everything in life is a biological fact, whatever its environment. If the questioner had asked what information, not revealed by laboratory studies, might be gleaned from studies in the wild, I would have been able to answer the question.

   I felt quite upset over this paper. However] I came home through town and booked a seat for Meet Mr. Callaghan at the [Theatre] Royal on Thursday, and a seat for the European première of The Moon is Blue next Monday [so I have them to look forward to].

   As usual this evening I have been busy revising. I listened to “The Name’s the Same”. The game is quite good fun but is far too easy for the panel at the moment, each member having [space] questions. Five each would be better.


   There is not much to record today. I have spent most of the time doing further Biology revision.

   I sat in the garden for over an hour tonight then took Ginger for a long walk.


   I have been looking forward to today with a sort of hysterical eagerness for nearly a year now.

   The second Biology paper was easy enough but difficult to get done in the time.

   Really, the Biology papers were rather queer. There were no questions on the blood vascular system, digestion, or reproduction (except one which wanted a complete account of it in the plant), and only one question on types.

   This afternoon I fetched some meat for Ginger.

   I enjoyed Meet Mr. Callaghan tonight [at the Theatre Royal, New Street.

   It was John Maund’s 18th birthday today, and Mr. Lunt’s 40th].


   I was looking forward to two or three days’ holiday but I had to go to school today. I went on my bike as there was a Chapel Choir practice.

   Prayers are being held in the Quadrangle. Exams finished, most of them anyway, the Sixths are now doing Syndicates and after prayers we went to the Large Lecture Room to hear about them from the Head. I had chosen Astronomy but am having to do Statistics [which is very disappointing as I am especially interested in Astronomy and always try to see eclipses and meteor showers].

   I went after dinner to see Mr. G. Gardner at the College of Technology [Suffolk Street]. We talked for over twenty minutes, and if I have got my three “A”s I hope to go there as a part-time student in January and get a B.Sc. in 1956.

   Tonight I watched the last “Kaleidoscope”. “Puzzle Corner” was nearly a chaos, but not quite.

   Grace & Arthur came, and as they missed the last ’bus home I walked as far as the cemetery with them.


   I cycled to school this morning, I went into my syndicate room for first period but spent the rest of the morning in the Biology Lab and museum until 12.0pm. Then I went into the tiny room adjoining Lecture Room 3 where Serck and several others were having some fun with a tape-recorder.

   Mam, Dad, Clarice and Julia went to a B.S.A. Sports meeting. I spent the afternoon listening [to] and watching the Test Match. It was quite a remarkable day’s play. Graveney was out with the fourth ball of the day without adding to his overnight score. Hutton was out c Hole b Johnston 145 at 1.20 after a great innings. Compton got 57 but England collapsed and we were all out for 372 (Lindwall 5 for 66). Australia are 96 for 1.

   I went to the Shakespeare Society tonight [at the Chief Master’s house on Bristol Road]. We read A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the garden in two groups.


   Nothing much has happened today. It was a pleasant experience to have no school work to do.

   “What’s My Line?” came to the end of its run this evening. On the whole it has been a pleasant and often highly entertaining programme.

   I very much doubt whether its successor will prove to be half as good. The new game is called “Why?” and the team will take it in turns to act as children and parents. The children are given questions to ask and the parents have to answer them. “Know Your Partner” was bad enough but this idea just about beats the lot. I doubt whether a game with so childish a basis can ever succeed in providing sensible entertainment. However, we shall see.

   We have listened to Tony Hancock & Geraldine McEwan in “Star Bill” tonight.


   I spent nearly all today reading in the Natural History Museum during the morning and lying out in the sunshine after dinner. John Winrow called to see me during the dinner hour.

   It is not often that Birmingham sees a European Première but that was the case tonight when I saw The Moon is Blue at the Theatre Royal. This light-hearted comedy by F. Hugh Herbert ran for fourteen weeks on Broadway and opens at the Duke of York’s on July 7th.

   If tonight’s performance is anything to go by, The Moon is Blue should have a long and successful stay in London. The first act was a little slow (the first scene difficult to hear because of the noise made by latecomers) but the players soon settled down and were well in their stride by the second act. At times the dialogue really sparkled, and the three players around whom the play revolves were always at the top of their form. These are Diana Lynn, Robert Flemyng and Biff McGuire.

   The theme of the play is the “innocence” of a certain Patty O’Neill, a New York actress. (At one point she says she has been [in] “three TV plays” — oh, does that count? someone asks — a nice reflection on commercial TV!). She is played by Miss Diana Lynn.

   [After the show I waited at the Stage Door and met the actors coming out. I talked to Diana Lynn and got her autograph, and Biff McGuire’s too. Diana Lynn is in her mid-20s—less than 10 years older than me — and was a child actress and pianist, making her first film when she was about 12–13 and about 25 others since; she is very nice. I was sorry to miss Robert Flemyng though, who slipped by as I was talking to the others. I have seen him in The Winslow Boy and The Blue Lamp.]


   Nothing happened at school today. Prayers was held in Big School once again. I spent half the morning in the library.

   I played for the 1st XI v Levett this afternoon. We batted first and scored 114 for 7 declared (Trundle 48, Davenall 35) and Levett were all out for 61 less [than us] five minutes before the close. Davenall took 5 for 21, Jennens three and Squire one wicket. My score was 0 not out.

   We have now completed our league programme.

Date Opponents 1st XI 2nd XI 3rd XI 4th XI
30.4.53 Heath Drawn Drawn Drawn Drawn
7.5.53 Evans Won Won Lost Lost
14.5.53 Jeune Drawn Lost Lost Won
22.5.53 Prince Lee Won Won Lost Won
16.6.53 Cary Gilson Won Won Lost
25.6.53 Gifford Won Won Lost Lost
30.6.53 Levett Won Lost Drawn Won
   Tonight we saw a TV comedy, “Who Dotes Yet Doubts” by Aimee Stuart.

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