The cabin trunk was collected at 5.45 yesterday and immediately after breakfast today we left Woolley’s for good. What a contrast Mrs. Ralph’s presented — a beautifully laid table piled high with more food than we could eat, reading lamps and magazines in both our bedrooms, everything we could wish for in fact.

   Staying here with us this week are a Mr. & Mrs. Penney [and their grandson Colin; they are from London].


   We enjoyed last week even though we did have bad “digs”, but I have a feeling this week will be ten times better.


   I got up at 8.0am today and was down by the Sun Deck before breakfast. The weather has been very hot today though it was cloudy until about 11.30am. We went swimming in the pool at 4.0pm and then in the sea when it got up to the pool.

   I can’t remember the last time when August Bank holiday was fine. Certainly it has been a beautiful day everywhere. There were 80,000 visitors to Margate, (400,000 to Blackpool) and the beach was packed. People queued for deckchairs & there wasn’t one to be had this afternoon.

   We were late getting out after dinner because we stayed to hear Brian Johnstone broadcasting from the pier, and also “Uncle Harry Hudson’s Children’s Hour” from the Lido, Cliftonville.

   After tea we walked round the town.


   The things some people do for publicity! The Evening Standard now has its own helicopter, which this morning visited Margate and Ramsgate.

   [I have been reading this week’s Picture Show, which has Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger on the cover in the film Young Bess (U). It is one of two films featured on the centre pages, and is about the young life of Elizabeth I before she became Queen. The review says that the rich settings and lavish costumes make it an outstanding film, so I must try to see it.

   Another film reviewed this week is Innocents in Paris (U), which I should also like to see as it stars Alastair Sim, Margaret Rutherford and Ronald Shiner.]


   This morning after breakfast we went shopping. Mam wanted to buy some presents and also to get me a blazer, though we didn’t see one. We got down to the Westbrook beach by 12.0pm, where the Penneys were waiting for us.

   We sat on the beach for half an hour this afternoon and then it started to rain so we had to sit in the shelter by the Sun Deck for more than half an hour with Mr. and Mrs. Penny.

   I went to the Theatre Royal to book a seat in the stalls for the 8.45 performance this evening of Folies Parisienne produced by Paul Raymond and allegedly adapted from the famous “Latin Quarter” revues.

   It wasn’t too bad a show, no better and no worse than I expected. I was agreeably surprised by the theatre itself however, which though not large was comfortable enough. I was in the back row but one downstairs but was only a few yards from the stage.

   We had first of all, selections from Folies Parisiennes played by Ben Willis at the Hammond Organ, a prologue spoken by Swedish Cover Girl Gerda Jordan, and “Boulevards de Paris”, followed by “Let’s Run Riot”, with the star of the show Terry (Toby Jug) Cantor, and Red Preston. There followed “Pink Champagne” sung by Zsa-Zsa and the Jean Raymond Girls, the Ragoldi Brothers — continental maniacal clowns, and studies from the Paris Art Galleries featuring Desiree and “Les Nudes Parisienne”. Next on the bill was a singer, Sheila Stuart. Then there was “Good Queen Bess and Sir Walter Raleigh”, which got a good many laughs by reason of its being smutty, and “Beneath Montmartre”, which featured Desiree and Pierre in “The Dance That Was Banned”.

   After the interval there was “The French Riviera” with the Jean Raymond Girls, Terry Cantor and a Ballet Acrobatique by Zsa-Zsa, The Accordionaires in Musical Pastimes, “The Tree” with Terry Cantor and Red Preston, “Mademoiselle’s Boudoir” (a striptease act, of course), singing from the Vocalettes, and “The Queen of Glamour”, the International Nude Sensation, Miss Blandish (no orchids for her!) on her first appearance in England. Next we had Terry Cantor and lastly “In the Mood” in which Zsa-Zsa did the “sensational and daring” Tassel Dance.


   It was fine and hot this morning and we stayed on the Westbrook beach with Mr. and Mrs. Penney and Colin. In the afternoon however it became cloudy and dull, though it didn’t rain. We went swimming as usual. About 4.0pm I went off to the Post Office to post a letter and get some stamps for Mrs. Penney.

   We had a lovely surprise when we got in to tea. Mrs. Ralph had made Mam a birthday cake, a sponge one with cream and jam, pink icing, and decorated with tiny roses and a basket of roses in the centre. It was the first birthday cake Mam has ever had. [She is 41 today].

   In the evening we had a look inside one or two junk shops in Duke Street; the only thing I could find to interest me was an organ for £6 [which, even if I had got the money, how would we get it home?]. Finally, till dusk, we sat in the shelter by the Clock Tower, hearing the fireworks in Dreamland.

   Last day! And two things went wrong before breakfast. First, I banged my back against the underside of a table in the bedroom, and knocked myself silly for ten minutes, then we had a letter from Mrs. Bowen to say that my biggest two goldfish which I had had for years had died.

   It was fine all day. We spent the morning on the Westbrook beach with the Penneys and we all paddled [in the sea]. I bought a book containing pictures of the Thanet gale and flood damage of last February.

   In the afternoon the eight of us sat on the beach by the pool. We went swimming, then Dad and I had a look around the junk shops we visited last night. I bought a Pan Book Malice Aforethought by Frances Iles for 6d. I also fetched the film, which was even better than the first two.

   After tea I took photos of everyone in the Ralphs’ garden. We sat reading on the front, went thro’ Dreamland.


   Mrs. Ralph brought us a cup of tea at 6.30am and we had breakfast around 7.45. Earlier I went down on to the beach. The tide was right out. We were all sorry to leave and Mrs. Penney was in tears.

   We were on the station in plenty of time to catch the 9.10 train. We had reserved seats. Nothing happened on the journey but the train was very late getting in to Snow Hill.


   My main occupation today has been the writing up of a fortnight’s events — about 3,000 words I suppose, or probably more; at any rate, I’m not up to date yet. I’ve also mowed both the lawns. It’s surprising what a difference a couple of weeks can make to a garden.

   After dinner we all went down to Saltley to collect Ginger. She’s rather docile but looks rather better than is usually the case when we have been away.


   I got up at about 9.30am today. In the morning I went to the Library to read the papers. We had an early dinner then went to town [to have a look round the shops. I usually look at the books at Smiths and the Midland Educational in Corporation Street and Hudsons in New Street, and had also to go to the Birmingham Post and Mail offices to inspect the papers for the last two weeks. I found that the week before last, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello were at the Hippodrome, Wilfred Pickles (whom I have met) in The Gay Dog at the Theatre Royal, and Phyllis Dixey in Peek-a-Boo at the Aston Hippodrome. I have never been there though].


   This evening I went to the Rialto to see The War of the Worlds (X) in Technicolor. It was an excellent film but H.G. Wells’ story had been changed somewhat. The location was California instead of England, a trite love-story had been added, the “red weed” was omitted, and the story was brought completely up to date with an atom bomb being used against the Martians.

   Nevertheless Producer George Pal has done a fine job in making this film. He has managed to create a terrific atmosphere throughout, and the scenes of mass hysteria were frighteningly realistic. The special effects must be the best ever used in a film. There are the Martians’ saucer-like machines with python-like projections dealing out death with their heat rays, toppling buildings, crumbling cities and so on.

   The other film was a good comedy, My Friend Irma, with Diana Lynn, Marie Wilson, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis. It was nice to see Diana Lynn in one of her many films after meeting her a few weeks ago! The film was made in 1949 and was the first time Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis appeared together. They have made six or seven films since then. [The War of the Worlds is also showing at the Olton, but the supporting film is King of the Underworld, made in 1938, not My Friend Irma.]


   I spent this morning in getting my Diary up to date and after dinner I started a report on the N.H.S. [Natural History Society]. The following is a list of meetings held during the year:—

Autumn 1952

Oct 1st. L.B.C. Lewis, “The Buzzard”
29th. S. Chadwin on “Bird Migration”
Oct 31st. Visit to Bittell Res.
Nov 7th. Films
Nov 17th. S.D. Woods Esq. Field Study
Dec.17th. Visit to Bellfields
Spring 1953
Jan 24th. Field Club
28th. Talks by five members
Feb 20th. Field Club
Feb 23rd. Visit to Bartley, Bittell Res.
Feb 25th. A.R. Stephenson Esq., “Animal Coloration”
March 11th. Film
Summer 1953
May 8th. J.B. Phipps: “B’ham Flora”
June 1st. Visit to Kinver
June 8th. Films
July 15th. Natural History Exhibition
July 20th. C.J. Roberts, “British Butterflies”
July 23rd. Field Club.

   I fetched my copy of ABC Film Review at tea-time. [It was still scorching hot as a cycled to the Robin Hood.]

   I had no idea whether I should be taking part in “Town Forum” this evening but I got to the Central Fire Station by 9.0pm and found that I was on as No. 7. My question was: “It has always been a proud boast of the female of the species that she always has the last word and cannot be dictated to. Can the team therefore give a logical explanation to account for the fact that women do allow themselves to be dictated to on the subject of fashions, when one man decrees that there shall be a ‘new look’?”

   The team was Lady Isobel Barnett, former Lady Mayoress of Leicester; Collin Brooks, former editor of Truth; James Laver, Keeper of the Departments of Engraving, Illustration and Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum; and Kingsley Martin, Editor of the New Statesman and Nation, with Denis Morris taking the chair as usual. There were some very good questions, including one on what Canon Bryan Green thinks about Church of England preaching. My question really amused the audience and Lady Barnett made everyone laugh answering it! She was very good — I am glad to have had a part in her first TV appearance. There was a fire alarm half-way through the programme and some of the firemen ran out. I came home on the Late Night ’bus.


   When I went down to the Reading Room [at the Library] this morning I read in the papers that the fire alarm in the middle of last night’s “Town Forum” was a false one.

   The cabin trunk came [back from Margate] shortly before twelve o’clock. Don and Ron brought our set back last night & Mam & Dad, Clarice & Julia saw me perform. The TV is three times as bright now. Unfortunately, Don & Ron have not left the set tuned properly and we get rather a lot of interference across the screen. I watched the demonstration film at 10.0am and corrected the picture by Test Card C.

   Tonight I called at Don’s. Ron will call again some time next week.


   As usual I went to the Library to read the papers this morning [after first going to the Bank to pay in £3 10s. I now have £5 8s. 10d]. We had dinner at 11.30am.

   After dinner Clarice took a photo of me in the garden, then I took the exposed film to be developed at Boots’ [in the village]. I then cycled to Michael Jacks’ house, 363 Brook Lane, but he was out so I left a letter I wrote last night.

   After tea I washed up. I persuaded Mam and Dad to go to see the programme I saw earlier this week at the Rialto. Meanwhile I spent the evening watching TV. The Newsreel was at 7.30 and then we had a 15-minute visit to the Oval where Brian Johnston spoke to R.W.V. Robins and W.A. Oldfield about the prospects for the last Test.

   At 8.0pm we had “Toppers By the Sea”, a visit to Prince’s International Circus at the Pavilion Theatre, Rhyl. This was followed at 9.0 by Speedway Racing — Scotland v England — from Motherwell. Scotland won easily & have made sure of the rubber with one match to go.


   This morning I [went to the Library to] read the papers and got some [horse-]meat for Ginger from Stoney Lane.

   During the afternoon I fetched a sackful of straw from the Pet Shop, but I spent most of the time either listening to or watching the first day’s play in the last Test at the Oval.

   For the fifth successive time Hassett won the toss by calling “Heads”. He chose to bat, and in the two hours before lunch Australia lost Morris lbw Bedser 16 and Miller lbw Bailey 1. Trueman, in his first test against Australia, should have had Morris caught by Compton in his first over, and had other strokes of ill luck. Hassett was out c Evans b Bedser 53 just after lunch and soon Australia were 118 for 5. Shortly before 6.0pm they were all out for 275. Trueman took 4 for 86, Bedser 3 for 88 [which gave him 39 wickets for the series, a record].

   England have made 0 for no wicket. There were only two overs before rain stopped play.


   With so much to write about the Test Match I didn’t have room to write about last night’s TV programmes. “The Quatermass Experiment” has gone all horrible all of a sudden. We’ve missed three episodes [last night’s was episode 5].

   On “Down You Go” the team was Patricia Cutts, Liz Gray, Kenneth Horne and Paul Jennings. It was not very good.


   I had an astonishing letter this morning. It was from a Sheila Homer whose friend had been on holiday at Sandwich Bay and had there found a bottle with my name in. I threw the bottle off Margate pier at 10.0pm last Friday week. The bottle probably travelled 150 miles. I have tossed lots of bottles into the sea but this is the first time I’ve ever had an answer.

   During the day I went to the Library and [also] watched the Test Match. Edrich was lbw to Lindwall for 21 with the score 37. Hutton & May put on 100 before May was caught for 39, then at 154 Hutton was bowled for 82. England struggled to reach 235 for 7, and are still 40 behind with 3 wickets left.

   I had a bath at 5.0pm. John [Winrow] called this evening and stayed for an hour or so. At 9.30 we watched excerpts from London Laughs at the Adelphi.

   George Moore, the radio critic (not George A. Moore from the Mission), wrote a column in tonight’s Mail about last week’s Town Forum. He didn’t like it very much.


   Today I have again watched the Test Match on TV. It was a wonderful day’s play. With only 2 runs added, Lock was soon out for 4, but Bailey and Trueman added a further 25 runs before Trueman was bowled by Johnston for 10. The last man, Bedser, came in with England still 13 behind. He and Bailey put on 44 runs for the last wicket before Bailey was bowled by Archer for 64. He batted 3¾ hours and hit 7 fours. England were all out at lunch for 306, giving them a lead of 31. Lindwall took 4 for 70.

   After lunch Trueman and Bedser bowled 5 overs between them, then Hutton brought on the Surrey spin-bowlers Laker and Lock. Laker got Hassett lbw with the last ball of his first over (23 for 1), then in 14 minutes Australia lost 4 wickets for 2 runs. Miller was caught off Laker for 0 (59 for 2), Harvey was bowled by Lock for 1 (60 for 3), Hole was lbw to Laker for 17 (61 for 4), and Morris was lbw Lock for 26, making the score 61 for 5. After de Courcey was run out for 4 (85 for 6), Archer and Davidson then began to hit out and added a further 70 runs before tea.

   After tea Davidson was bowled Lock for 21 (135 for 7); Archer was c Edrich b Lock for 49 (34 off boundaries), and Lindwall was caught on the boundary by Compton for 12. The last 3 wickets fell for 27 and Australia were all out in 2¾ hours for 162, leaving England to score 132 to win. Unfortunately Hutton was run out for 17 and they were 38 for one at the close. They still need 94!

   Tonight’s play at 8.15pm was “Black on Magenta” by Ronald Adam.

   This morning and this afternoon I watched what proved to be the last day’s play in the Test Match at the Oval. And what a day it was for English cricket! When Edrich and May came out to bat at 11.30am England needed 94 runs to regain the Ashes ceded to Australia in 1934.

   [England won, and in all the excitement of watching the TV I completely forgot to listen to the repeat of “Town Forum” on the radio at 4.0pm.]


   This morning Mam took us all to Kidderminster for the day. We caught the 9.33 [Midland Red] ’bus from Navigation Street and we were in Kidderminster exactly an hour later.

   We went first to see Aunt Ruth and the children before going round to Aunt Doll’s. We saw Uncle Bill and Cyril when they came in to dinner. During the afternoon we went through the park to the “vegetable place” as I call it.

   Altogether we had a most lovely day.


   Today the weather has been fairly bright but showery. Nothing at all has happened.

   This evening Mam and Dad have gone to the [Warwick] cinema [to see Nigel Patrick in Grand National Night (A) and Golden Arrow (U)], and I am listening to “Much Binding [in the Marsh]”, the new series by Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdoch.


   It was with a mixture of amazement, horror, dismay and a lot of other things too, that I received the news that in G.C.E. I had got three “O’s” instead of three “A’s”. [I needed 40% for an “A” but got 35% in all three subjects.] I knew I had not got “A” level Physics but I was surprised not to pass Biology and Chemistry.

   I had a letter from Mr. Enfield.

   On TV tonight we watched episode 6 of “The Quatermass Experiment”. There was a breakdown in the middle of the programme and the customary notice appeared:— “Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.”


   I spent some time today in the garden [working and trying to come to terms with failing my three “A” Levels. I wish I had done anything but study science. Whenever Mrs. Wright asked me what I wanted to be I would say “a teacher” or “an editor”, but my mother has always wanted me to be a doctor, so I have had no choice in the matter. I am never going to be a doctor though, even if I re-take and pass the “A” Levels.

   I don’t know what I want to do in life. I really like all subjects, especially Maths, English, Art, Music and languages, all of which I have had to give up. I love writing and broadcasting, going to the theatre and meeting people in all walks of life. I even thought about going to Pinewood studios in the holidays to see if I could get a job as an extra, but then I would lose my deferment and be liable for National Service.

   Major Mathews asked me recently where I planned to do my National Service. When I told him “In the R.A.M.C.” he said I would only be holding a bowl for someone to be sick into, and I ought to go for a commission. I enjoy being in the C.C.F. but the very thought of going into the Army proper and learning to kill people utterly appalls me.

   I have got a job at the Medical School in January in order to bring some money in, and I can take the three “A”s again, but then my deferment runs out. I feel sick with worry and uncertainty. There is no one I can talk to. I keep praying that God will show me what to do.]

   This evening we all watched a comedy thriller “Portrait By Peko” by P.N. Walker-Taylor. I watched it all through but didn’t find it very satisfying. It was too drawn out, all words and little or no action, and one could usually predict what would happen later. This effect can be used to obvious advantage, here it was not.

   It is surprising how uncharacteristically one finds characters represented. Here we had a most un-policemanlike policeman admiring a stature by Peko. Perhaps he was a bobby-soxer. (Others often badly represented are B.B.C. news readers & announcers etc. and rarely does one find newspaper columns that sound as if they had really been written by a reporter).

   Patrick Barr as the artist was good. So was Peter Cushing as Seppi Fredericks.


   [I went to the Midland Bank this morning to pay in three guineas, then to the Library to look at the papers.]

   The [Birmingham] Post published a complete list of G.C.E.’s gained by K.E.S. this morning. The most amazing feature is the number of failures in “O” level English. In the Medical Sixth alone, Brodie, Gompertz, Harris, Hudson, Plimbley, Tickell, Waterfall, all failed.


   Nothing much happened during the day. Of course, Mrs. Moore had to see yesterday’s K.E.S. exam results in the Post and came to see what happened. Mam & Dad are disappointed and my mother talks as though I have done it on purpose, but they have never been able to help me with my studies and have no idea of the strain of taking exams. My mother is always on about having letters after one’s name — I suppose I could put “B.Sc.Int.(failed)” after mine.

   After tea I went to the Robin Hood to see Stop, You’re Killing Me (A), a comedy thriller by Damon Runyon, [starring Claire Trevor and Broderick Crawford. It is a remake of A Slight Case of Murder made in 1938, though apparently not so funny. The other film was about the French resistance, Operation Secret, with Cornel Wilde, Phyllis Thaxter and Steve Cochran. They were both very good.


   I had a card from the Old Eds. Football Club this morning asking me to play in a trial game at Eastern Road on September 5th.

   I went down the village after breakfast and bought the first number of TV Mirror. It costs 4d weekly.

   We all went to town for the morning. Lewis’s were holding a book sale. I bought for a bob apiece Leslie Bridgmont Presents and Forewarned Is Forearmed, the story of the R.O.C. by T.E. Winslow.

   I went to the Club to take in my membership form, and to the [Birmingham] Mail offices to take down the weather readings for July 24th to August 7th [when we were at Margate and didn’t have the papers].

   [Pencilled note:] Bliss


   This morning I bought Picturegoer and The Listener from Dorlings. We had breakfast around eleven o’clock, then I washed up.

   In the afternoon I fetched some meat from Stoney Lane and went to the Library.

   I spent the rest of the day working in the garden. I trimmed most of the rose trees and got a good fire burning.

   At the moment I am listening to “The Huggetts”. It is 8.15pm.


   This morning I finished reading The Saint Sees It Through which I greatly enjoyed.

   During the day I went for a walk. Nothing much happened.

   There was a very good “Stars At Blackpool” show on TV tonight and it was as good an entertainment as I have seen for some time. There were the Three Monarchs, Albert Modley, Winifred Atwell, Nat Jackley and Morecambe and Wise.


   There hasn’t been a bit of sunshine today and it has rained pretty heavily some of the time.

   I didn’t go to see Birmingham play their second home match of the season (they beat Hull City 2–nil on Wednesday evening) but the conditions must have suited them because they outplayed Swansea to the tune of 6–nil, Peter Murphy scoring three.

    Birmingham have strengthened their forward line during the close season by buying a left-winger, Alex Govan from Plymouth, and Welsh International Noel Kinsey from Norwich City, an inside right.


   I went to [the Methodist] Church this morning. The Preacher was Mr. E. Griffiths who took as his text Luke 10 [space left]. Mr. Harrison has left Acocks Green and the new minister will be taking over next week. [He is the Rev. J. Valentine Dibben].

   At 1.45 we listened to “What Do You Know?” and after “Down You Go” to “Star Bill” at 9.0pm.


   My main occupation today has been painting the shed, though at 3.15 I watched Topper Takes A Trip on TV. [It is an America film made in 1938 — a sequel to Topper — with Roland Young and Constance Bennett].

   I went to the Warwick tonight for only the second time since June 12th 1952. I saw a very good English comedy The Oracle. The Oracle (spoken by Gilbert Harding) is at the bottom of a well in Ireland, or rather an island off its coast. The Oracle solves all the villagers’ problems thro’ Joseph Tomelty who is allowed to ask it one question a day.

   Trouble starts when Michael Medwin, a young journalist, arrives for a holiday and uses the Oracle to forecast winners, & then horoscopes for his newspaper. The film featured Robert Beatty, Virginia McKenna and Mervyn Johns.

   The other film was Kentucky Jubilee (U), starring Jean Porter and Jerry Colonna.

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