Filming for the BBC

   8.00pm. I got up at 6.00am as usual this morning, took Freda a cup of tea in bed, then prayed until breakfast. I ’phoned Janet at five to eight. Later I began checking The Power to Heal transcript against the tape.

   The [BBC} Nationwide crew of six had all gathered [here at Summerlands] by 10.30am and then, to everyone’s disappointment, the lovely sunshine gave way to rain. For the first sequence we had to drive round the Avenue, pull up outside the house, and then go in the front door. The first take was spoiled by rain on the lens, and had to be repeated. The second scene was of the Daimler ascending the hill. This required two takes as we had to await the cue and then start on the hill, and the wheels spun on the snow, spoiling the sound-track.

   Another sequence was shot in the car as I drove round the Avenue, then we drove down to the cottages [in Bere Lane] for them to film the exterior. (Frank Smith appeared in the window with a camera. I think he thought we had brought the bailiffs in.) By now the sun was shining again, and Mr Rowley thought how nice it would be to have a shot of the Tor with us driving round the corner as from Shepton Mallet, which we did. I pumped the horn to give warning of our impending approach, and the camera rolled [manned by Reg Pope, who has filmed so many series for the BBC, including Some mothers do ’ave ’em]. A Mendip dust passed in front of the camera with only seconds to spare.

   After this we came indoors to film a sequence in the lounge, in which Tony Francis questioned me for twenty minutes. Afterwards I was a bit disappointed. I realised that I had answered almost everything from scripture but felt sure that scarcely any of it would be used, and not a single minute of the sermon was filmed on Friday either. Tony Francis used the phrase “gigantic ego-trip”, which is how the whole item will be presented on Thursday.

   Before the crew left for lunch at the George and Pilgrim, I ’phoned [our accountant] Maurice Pratt and obtained the figures from the latest accounts. These show that we made a “loss” last year of more than £5,000. Mr Francis asked for a photograph of me ministering in Africa, so I told him to take one off the board at the Friends Meeting House, or else from the office. The crew are returning to the office tomorrow to film the exterior, and of 112A perhaps.

   After the crew had gone I ’phoned Janet, then after a late lunch we went to Street to do some shopping. We went to Graham Loveridge in Farm Road to order a part for the vacuum cleaner which broke when Brian [Bosomworth] was using it in the office last week, and also to the baker’s and [Tesco] supermarket. Many items we needed were not available, due to the lorry drivers’ strike.

   At the newsagent’s the lady assistant said, “Excuse me, but aren’t you Mr & Mrs Williams?” She was Mrs Harding, who lives on the other side of the Jones’ from Frank & Vera. She said how someone had been telling her about yesterday’s article in the Sunday People.

   When we got home I made a cup of tea and we sat down to listen to the tape Brian recorded for me of one of his preaching engagements, as I wanted to help him with his preaching. However, we were both so tired that we went to sleep. Freda got tea for us, but I was almost too tired to eat.

   This evening we have watched Ken Dodd and Coronation Street. Brian ’phoned at 8.00pm, then Freda ’phoned Barbara. I forgot to record that Mr Stythe ’phoned at 1.15pm to say that the bank was still not paying our standing order.


The man in the news

   10.22pm. We have again had to return to Birmingham prematurely for a radio broadcast. George Mitchell of BBC Radio Birmingham ’phoned us at Summerlands this morning, asking me to be on the Alistair Yates Show. I tried to get him to change it to later in the week, but he said they wanted “the man in the news” to be on as soon as possible, and offered me the alternative of an interview over the ’phone, which I didn’t much like.

   I ’phoned Janet to ask for Nigel Druckers’ ’phone number so that we could work out a date for the interview with Helen Piddock [on ATV]. Janet asked me about one or two things that had arisen, and then told me that a letter had been received from a firm of solicitors threatening me with legal action for libelling the Evening Mail. I could scarcely believe that the Mail could be so incredibly foolish: the multi-million pound empire of the Mail group of newspapers employing the whole weight of the law to persecute a poor evangelist! It is simply incredible!

   While I was speaking to Janet, Dad told her to tell me that Nationwide were outside the office, filming in the street. I asked her to bring Mr Rowley to the ’phone, and together we discussed this latest development. I also instructed him to look in the sideboard drawer for the picture he wanted.

   I spent half the morning on the ’phone. I rang Brian, and he has come down again [from Kirkby Thore], and was here waiting for us when we arrived home at 6.40pm. (We had left Summerlands at 4.16pm). I also ’phoned Nigel Druckers, and we arranged for Helen Piddock to come on Monday at 4.00pm. He asked for a copy of Friday’s tape-recording, which I was able to do for him, and I also made a shortened C90 tape to be copied for the Bible Study members.

   Freda had the washing to do, marmalade to make, and the bank to go to, but got these all done before we left, and brought the washing back home to iron tonight. While I was loading the car Willem [Koppejan] came by, so I asked him in to request his prayers in the situation. It was then he told me that the Coopers, the people who have been sharing Zebulon Hove, would “hang” him and Helene if they could. The Koppejans have been very good to them: Willem twice made [them] an outright gift of £1,500. So Helene and Willem [who risked his life rescuing Jews, yet is accused of being “Hitler’s astrologer”] are suffering like us, and not for the first time either.

   We had an excellent journey up the motorway. We listened to Shirley Bassey, the PM programme on Radio 4 and then to Frank Sinatra, and arrived home feeling quite relaxed. Brian had put the fire on and was watching Crossroads, and helped carry everything indoors

   We had been back only a few minutes when Julia ’phoned to say there was an article attacking us in the Mail again tonight, written by Ed Doolan, and that last night’s paper carried an editorial against us. I think this makes the total sixteen. After tea I did the washing up, then Malcolm called with the Mail article, and stayed for an hour or two. He seems to enjoy the publicity, if no one else does. The family confiscates copies of the Mail to prevent my mother seeing them.


Monday’s leader in the Birmingham Evening Mail


   10.30pm. We sat up late last night watching a debate on the current industrial crisis, and then Something Different, in which Sue Jay interviewed Miss Reeve and Miss Fisher from Hockley Pentecostal Church. They were very good. One of them had a dig at me though.

   When we went to bed I slept hardly at all until it was nearly time to get up. In the office we had an enormous amount of work: some of the News of the World contacts are now writing for the third time, while many first-time letters continue to come in.

   Freda and Brian came and helped us n the office, then at 9.30am Freda and I returned home for the Daimler and drove to Pebble Mill for my broadcast on the Alistair Yates Show. Afterwards I was very disappointed and felt I had made a hash of it. I was bending over backwards trying not to refer to the Evening Mail, when almost all the listeners must have known that it was the Mail which has made me almost a household name in this city. Peter Jennings had been on the air earlier, criticising me and saying I ought to be pitied. He was interviewed over the ’phone.

   But I felt there was no spirit in anything I had said. I had not anticipated the broadcast in any way, and Brian agreed that I sounded flat. Still, the Lord may have blessed the broadcast to someone. I liked Mr Yates. He asked if he might have a copy of Friday’s tape, so I sent Dad with the copy I made for Mr Duckers, and made an extra copy this evening.


   7.33pm. The Nationwide feature was broadcast an hour or so ago. We had a fright before it began. The picture became muzzy on BBC1, although BBC2 and ATV were alright, and the lights twice went out momentarily. I videotaped the programme. We thought it was not too bad.

   Julia ’phoned earlier on to say that Clarice had heard the item announced on TV at lunch time. She had not long gone off the line when she rang again to read the Mail’s latest piece about us — sixteen or seventeen now, this time about the property empire I am trying to build.

   I wish the bank and one or two other people were as convinced as the media. Mr Buckley, from Barclays, came to the office this morning to obtain our signatures guaranteeing the money for the cottages. Earlier, Freda had ’phoned Mr Pratt [Maurice A. Pratt FCA], who informed us that the finished accounts would not be released to us until we had paid the £459.51 fee. Freda and Brian called on him [at Hardeman Smith & Power] on their way into the city, and he explained that it was none of his doing, but the partners were insisting on it.

   Freda gave him a cheque for part of the amount, and Mr Pratt came to the office this afternoon for me to sign the accounts. They are the last he will be doing for us, and Mr Pratt himself is being forcibly retired. He expressed his sympathy in the persecution we are undergoing, and said, cryptically, “You have one real enemy behind it all, and his initials are P.J.” Peter Jennings perhaps [but quite wrongly if that is who he meant].


   11.50pm. I have just returned from taking Janet home after the Bible Study, and am sitting in the front room where we had the [meeting] tonight. I spoke on The Excellency of Mary. We continued long after the tape had run out and Arthur had gone home. Brian left for home at about 11.15pm.

   We have been tremendously busy in the office all week, and had sandwiches as usual. We finished at 5.45pm, leaving perhaps a hundred letters still not dealt with. Brian helped all day, as did Freda except for when she was shopping.

   John Turner ’phoned from the Bristol Evening Post this morning. He had seen us on TV last night. Otherwise it was a fairly uneventful day and nothing much happened


   9.50pm. I took Freda a cup of tea in bed this morning then went to the office where she joined me later. Eva Stewart ’phoned, and later Freda rang Barbara. All had seen us on Nationwide: Alice had invited folk in to see the programme

   We spent half the morning in the office dealing with the letters. We were hungry when we got home, so Freda made us some toast and marmalade. I went upstairs to pray and study while Freda went to see Mrs Maund.

   I washed up before and after lunch, then we went to Freda’s mother’s and had a pleasant walk round Grange Road. On our return I began re-reading John G. Lake, Apostle to Africa, but soon went to sleep.

   After tea I washed up, then we came home and watched a film, Murder on Flight 902. Julia has ’phoned to say that Dad slipped on the ice last night and knocked himself out. He still has a bad head.

   Barbara told Freda that Psychic News (in which we have advertised) has now exposed us. A friend told her about her cousin [Freda] being exposed.


   9.51pm. I got up at 8.45 this morning feeling very listless and wishing I could have the day off just to read and meditate. After breakfast I had to force myself to work on yesterday’s letters, but my enthusiasm returned and I put in a full morning’s work, latterly in the office.

   After lunch I washed up, then continued working on the letters until 4.00pm when I wanted to watch Enoch Powell being interviewed by Robin Day in The Parliamentarians. But there was a ’phone call from a young woman reporter on the Western Morning Press who questioned me about my persecution of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I wonder how long it will be before Fleet Street takes up the story?

   After this we watched a Blue Peter programme about the Bronté sisters, after which I had a bath. Julia had ’phoned earlier, inviting us to tea, and we spent the evening there with the rest of the family. Dad had a headache after his fall on Friday night: he went to see the doctor this morning.


   8.28pm. Katie [the neighbours’ cat] came in before 6.15 this morning. I took Freda a cup of tea in bed as usual.

   Janet and I spent the whole day answering letters. I came home for lunch. Freda helped in the office for much of the day.

   Dad went to the Alexandra Theatre to book seats for the pantomime in Freda’s birthday, and to the Hippodrome to collect a prospectus for the Sadlers Wells Ballet, which returns next month,

   We were expecting Helen Piddock from ATV at 4.00pm, but it was Nigel Duckers and the producer John Milton Whatmore who came. We record the programme on Wednesday morning, D.V. Helen has not done the programme before. Sue Jay, the usual presenter, has come to live in Russell Road, Mr Duckers said, at No. 91.


   8.26pm. I have felt myself getting more and more tense all day and have a headache this evening.

   Janet and I had a very good day in the office and got up to date with the News of the World enquiries and follow-up for the first time since the article was published. Some of these new contacts have already sent three gifts. On the other hand, few partners are writing, our financial position is getting desperate, and it is this, coupled with the feeling of helplessness in the face of mountains of correspondence, which we never seem to get on top of.

   The adverse publicity continues. There has evidently been an article in the Western Morning Press which prompted a ’phone call from Roy Jolliffe of the Central Somerset Gazette, who was amazed to hear our side of the story. Brian ’phoned this evening: Lorna had told him there was an article about us in either the Sunday Express or Daily Express.

   Nellie Towse wrote in great distress, having been informed by Frank Smith that “it was on Nationwide” that the cottages are to be let and that therefore they must be going to be evicted. John Wiles wrote upbraiding me for having a Daimler. Poor brother, he hasn’t an ounce of malice in him, but is completely hung up about money, and always has been, like his brother Phillip. Freda went to [see] Nellie to put her mind at rest.

   Janet left on time at 4pm: she was going to the optician to have her eyes tested. I worked until nearly 5.45pm.

   The freezing weather continues. Although we have had no snow for more than a week and there has been a slow thaw, there is a solid sheet of ice, about two inches thick, on the corner by the bench, where the pavement receives no sunlight.



Look what happened to Vanessa Redgrave

   8.36pm. After the traumas of yesterday, things have been a bit better today. We were still sorting out the letters when Freda rang through to say that Maureen Messent and a photographer [from the Evening Mail] had called at the house. The photographer had clicked his camera as Freda opened the front door in her house-coat.

   Freda talked to her for some time and later, after Freda had herself come to the office, Maureen and the photographer arrived to interview me. Maureen was as affable as usual, and asked me what I was going to do if I gave up full-time ministry. I said I would never give up praying for the sick, and if I took up secular employment I would be quite happy to sweep the roads even. How many people did I expect at tomorrow’s meeting, she asked. “I have no idea,” I said, “We have done no advertising except for Freda’s little letter.” Too late, I remembered the 70 posters which are supposed to have been put up. Maureen said she had seen three on her way to work this morning, so I suppose she thought I was prevaricating. She had also questioned me closely about Arthur [Orr] — it was, of course, his letter that she had come about — and she looked quite triumphant when she asked how it was that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in London had no record of him. Of course, Arthur [being Scottish] is registered in Edinburgh.

   “Why have you never sued the Mail for libel?” she asked. I told her because, i. Jesus, when he was reviled, reviled not again, ii. Christians do not go to law, iii. I have neither the time nor the money to become involved in litigation, and iv. With the corruption in our legal system I could never expect to receive justice: I pointed out that Vanessa Redgrave had recently sued the Observer for libel. She had in effect won her case: it was proved that the Observer had told a pack of lies about her. But the Court alleged that she was already a bad character, and therefore had not suffered from the libel, and she ended up having to pay £70,000 damages. The Mail has already made me out to be a bad character, so it would be claimed that I had not been harmed by any subsequent libel.

   This led to Maureen talking about the Palestinian cause, trying to draw me out and to induce me to give expression to anti-Jewish sentiments. She even told me she had contributed £8 to the Arab cause at a meeting in the city. But I was having none of it. I have not the slightest doubt that the Mail is waiting to charge me with anti-Semitism, since they reported the absurd accusations against me by a Jewish M.P. in 1970.

   Before Maureen Messent’s arrival I had been crying, telling Janet how upset I had been yesterday. Then later on, Janet was crying and said she wanted to leave tomorrow, but later in the day she said she would stay if we were “all” going to be in the office next week.

   We were answering letters for most of the morning, then Janet cut stencils while I wrote up the accounts. We had lunch at home, then this afternoon I dealt with more letters and checked the latest proofs. Brian [Bosomworth] spent the day extracting addresses from recent letters of people whom we were being asked to write to and pray for.

   Brian and I came home at 5.15pm, arriving simultaneously with a Mr. Hill, a shopfitter, who was coming to measure up the breakfast room and give us a quotation for floor-to-ceiling cupboards and bookshelves.

   Dad was a bit better today, Noel said, but he is having to stay in bed; and Dr. Gough said he could not say for sure that he would not have another attack in a few days. Dr. Gough had asked Dad, when he was first called in, what he thought had brought on the attack. Dad said shovelling snow, but Dr. Gough said was it not in fact worrying about Brian, i.e. about the Mail campaign against us, and Dad had to admit that it could have been.

   Tomorrow is our Faith Temple meeting. We asked the Lord to take away the snow, and suddenly — after all these weeks it has gone, there having been a thaw all the week. We even had a few minutes of sunshine today. Lord, bless us tomorrow. Grant us souls for our labour, and signs and wonders to confirm Thy Word. Amen.


I am not quite quitting

   12.09am Saturday. We have just finished pie and chips on our return from the meeting. Brian left for home direct from Bull Street, and we dropped Janet off on our way home.

   I asked Arthur on Sunday morning if he was sure he wanted to go ahead with the printing of his letter. “You realise,” I said, “that it will be on the front page of the Mail by Thursday night.” What I was anxious about was the possibility of jeopardising his job. I was a day out. It was on the front page today: “I QUIT, SAYS ‘FAITH HEALER’ — Williams thinking of oil rig job.”


A traumatic week

   8.49pm. I got up at 8.15am, took Freda a cup of tea in bed, then went to the office to open the letters. Freda joined me in a little while, and we were there all morning, until 1.15pm.

   The ’phone rang constantly, one call after another, someone ’phoning for prayer, Brian, Eva, Barbara, Mrs. Butler, Derek Simms, a Mr. Massey with a prayer-request, a News Agency, Mrs. Maund. Bill Ludford [of the Evening Mail] called and stayed for about 30-40 minutes. He said he was sick of writing articles about us. “You are either the most honest man I have ever met, or else the biggest fool,” he said, “and I don’t know which.”

   I feel a great love for Bill Ludford, and for Maureen Messent too, and Freda has said the same. Maureen was not at last night’s meeting, but a young woman reporter was there, and a Mail reporter whom we have seen several times before. They both seemed to write very unobtrusively, even entering into the spirit of the meeting.

   It wasn’t a specially good meeting but neither was it bad. We had about 60 in the congregation, including people from London, Bristol, Carlisle, Norwich, Wolverhampton. I nearly broke down as I read John 15. But Malcolm Newell [a police constable who had been healed] asked if he could say a word, and spoke out against the Mail, and it brought a wrong spirit into the meeting. Some of our members are becoming almost hysterical about the press, and I have constantly to ask them not to over-react.

   Last night, instead of preaching, I tried to tell something of the Lord’s dealings in my life, but made a hash of it. But we had a very good healing line. Every month, healings come to light from previous meetings, and last night was no exception. Most notable was a man with a long history of psoriasis, now 80% improved. Several deaf cases were healed: I particularly remember an Indian gentleman who was able to hear perfectly without his deaf-aid.

   Arthur ’phoned during the afternoon with the shock news that Heather had had a haemorrhage and was in hospital. He did not get to the meeting until about 9.30pm. He looked very pale, and seemed more shocked about the Mail report than anything. Someone at work had shouted out to him, “Written any good begging letters lately?” I never knew that he had had to give Metro-Cammell [his employer] an undertaking not to become involved in any activity which could bring him and them into disrepute.

   What I did not tell Arthur, because I had forgotten, was that earlier in the day Mr. Adams of the Sunday People had ’phoned. He had also got hold of Arthur’s letter, and will no doubt splash it in tomorrow’s paper.

   Brian has been very subdued all week, on account of his own financial problems, the crisis in the work, and what he sees as a crisis between me and Freda, and also with Janet. The trouble is that Brian is only now beginning to find out what a life in the ministry is really like, and when he returns home to Kirkby Thore each time, he is insulated for a while from the relentless pressures that the rest of us have to face.

   It has been a traumatic week. Today, after lunch, we called at my parents’, spent a while with Mam, and then went upstairs to see Dad. He was quite bright and looking fairly well, but with the transparent look of someone who has been very ill. He said he had read two books through, and was now starting a third. I told Mam about the conspiracy between Dad and Clarice and Julia to prevent Mam from knowing the full extent of the Mail’s campaign against us. Every day they scan the paper to see if there is an article about us, and they take the page out if there is. I showed Mam and Dad yesterday’s paper, and we all had a big laugh over it, especially my possibly going to work on an oil rig or as a dustman, which is what Freda had told Maureen Messent. There was a photograph of us both in the office with Freda laughing her head off, this being occasioned by the photographer asking me to have something in my hand, and Maureen Messent saying it should be “something holy”.

   After visiting my parents we went to Meadow Grove where I finished reading The Prince and the Lily by James Brough. It was very good.



Liz Robertson

   9.11pm. We are at Summerlands again. While having breakfast in the middle room I felt we ought to return here, having been away since 13th February, so we immediately started packing and left Russell Road at 10.50am, calling first at my parents’. Dad is still in bed and not allowed to go downstairs. Dr Gough has said he will call and see him again on Thursday.

   After leaving [276] Wake Green Road we filled up with petrol but got lost trying to find our way out to Bristol Road. We saw Druids Heath and Wythall and Primrose Hill, and miles of estates we never knew existed. We had a sandwich lunch in the car and drove through heavy rain on the motorway. Freda suddenly remembered that she had left the vegetables behind, so we drove into Street to do some shopping on our way here, by which time the rain had stopped. After we had unloaded the car and had a cup of tea we went for a walk round the Avenue.

   I went to the office as usual this morning. Liz Robertson, who was so outstanding as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, sent me a photograph from the production with a little note on the back — To Brian. Thank you for your very kind letter. Best wishes Liz Robertson X — which I shall treasure [jpg]. I had written on one of my “Padré to the Stars” photographs saying how good I thought she was. One day she will be one of the theatre’s great stars [and will marry Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the book and lyrics for the show].

   As we were leaving Russell Road there was a ’phone call from Michael Higgins inviting me to broadcast on Hospital Radio Bromsgrove again. I accepted for next Saturday.


   9.21pm. We have not long returned from Bromsgrove Hospital where Michael Higgins (Geof Ryan to the listeners) interviewed me on the radio. It was a better interview than last time. Michael is on our mailing-list and used our latest newsletter to good advantage. He questioned me about various statements I had made, and a colleague had ’phoned the Mail to ask for their representative to come and be interviewed, but there was no reply. I tape-recorded the programme and promised Michael a copy, but unfortunately the tape is over-modulated. He has asked me to do another programme with him in which I can ask someone who has been healed to take part also.

   Brian returned home today. His Jensen was still not ready, and as he intends to bring the Scimitar down next time for Mr Rouse to sell, he went back today on the 10.05am train from New Street. I had earlier gone into the office — I had to wait until twenty to nine for the post to arrive — then returned home for breakfast, after which we drove Brian into town in the Mini.

   While we were in the city we called at Gale’s on the off-chance that the Canaletto painting was ready for us to collect, and happily it was. It has been heat-sealed and beautifully framed, and they have made a lovely job of it. Nick said he had made a point of stopping up to see our appearance on Something Different [ATV], and again expressed his sympathy for us in the campaign being waged against us by the Mail, and put it down to their being “very left-wing.” He has had a sad time, having lost his father and three other members of his family in a short space of time.

   As well as going to Gale’s we called at the Alexandra Theatre to book seats for Canaries Sometimes Sing next Thursday evening. In the cast are Leslie Phillips, one of our favourite actors whom we have seen twice before, and Nyree Dawn Porter, who is my favourite actress. When we got home we had a cup of coffee and a slice of toast, then I returned to the office to write a card to Nyree Dawn Porter, also to Marion Tait and Sheree Boyland, the latter having injured her leg in an accident.

   I returned home at midday to spend an hour in prayer and reading, while Freda went to see Mrs Maund. After lunch I washed up, then we went to the office to collect a large box of envelopes to take to my parents for the stamps to be cut off, but my mother was in a bad mood so we brought them back again. Reg and Ruth were there: we had not seen them in years. Reg, 52 this year, has himself had two or three heart attacks and was full of humour and good advice for Dad. Dad was looking very much better. He was still in bed but had been allowed downstairs for the first time.

   From Wake Green Road we went to the Carpet Stores at Shirley to have a look at a sample of the carpet we are buying in order to check what shade of pale green we should have for the walls. After this we went to Meadow Grove where I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Occult Science. After tea I washed up, then we returned home briefly before driving to Bromsgrove for the Hospital broadcast.


Eight inches of snow

   10.53pm. It was still snowing when we got up this morning. Eight inches fell in 24 hours, making it the heaviest fall in the city since 1947.

   I took Freda a cup of tea in bed as usual this morning, then went to the office where I had to wait until twenty to ten for the post to arrive. There was a letter from Wilmer Smith in Tulsa. Everything has gone wrong for him since he failed to take up the invitation to come and join us in Faith Temple.

   Barbara ’phoned after breakfast, then Freda and I spent the greater part of the morning discussing the financial situation of the work, which has now worsened. Humanly speaking, unless we evict Frank and Vera and sell 59A, there is nothing we can do. Bank of Europe have written to say they are taking steps to repossess the Daimler if payment is not received by next Thursday; the bank returned the cheque I sent them.

   Raymond Curley ’phoned. I had written to him yesterday to ask if he was interested in being interviewed on Hospital Radio Bromsgrove, his testimony being especially valuable because the healing has been confirmed by Dr Meldrum. Curley agreed to take part. Unfortunately, before ”phoning me he had ’phoned Bill Ludford at the Mail and spun him some tale about my demanding money off him. I can just imagine what use the Mail will make of that.

   After lunch I washed up then we spent the afternoon here in the middle room, the road conditions being too bad for us to go to Meadow Grove. I spent the afternoon reading Sky and Telescope, SIS Review and Worlds in Collision [by Immanuel Velikovsky}, while Freda read a small book by Oral Roberts on Seed-Faith, and the latest set of proofs. Katie spent the day with us as usual.

   Next door the Purdues were leaving: the people coming in will be the sixth. Mr & Mrs Kelly were both alive when we moved in in July 1959, and Miss [Gwen] Kelly stayed on for a few years after they died. Then she let the house to some other people whose names we have forgotten, and the people who followed them had a restaurant in Solihull. They were followed by Dr & Mrs Witherow, and when they moved to Sparkhill, Miss Kelly sold the house to the Purdues.

   After tea I washed up, then we went to the Hippodrome to see the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, which we had been looking forward to for weeks. It was a wonderful evening. First, we saw a new ballet Meadow of Proverbs by David Bintley, set to music by Milhaud and inspired by paintings of Goya’s “black period.” Afterwards we saw The Rake’s Progress choreographed by Ninette de Valois, and finally Elite Syncopations, which we first saw exactly a year ago tonight. Marion Tait was superb.


The long winter

   8.25pm. I paid the milkman at ten past six this morning, and only later did we discover that in the dark he had given me a 2p instead of a 10p piece. I paid him 54p for four bottles of milk and had 38 pence change.

   After breakfast I dusted some of the books and magazines from the bottom shelf in the dining room. Damp from the flood of more than a year ago had crept up the wall behind the shelves, covering the wall and some of the books with fungus.

   We left Summerlands at 9.25am. I went to SWEB [in High Street] to pay the electricity bill while Freda went to the bank and to Janes’ to buy us a cheese and tomato roll for lunch, then we drove to Weston. We had a cup of coffee at the Coffee House, then I went to Smith’s while Freda did some shopping. I used some birthday money to buy four books: three paperbacks, Man From A Far Country by Mary Craig, Pope John Paul II by George Blazynski, The Final Conclave by Malachi Martin, and a large book Wanderings by Chaim Potoh. The first two are biographies of the Pope — about six were being published this month. The Final Conclave I saw advertised in The Midnight Cry and had been thinking of ordering from the U.S.A.

   We ate our lunch in the car, which we had parked in the usual place on the sea-front, then left Weston at about 12.20pm. On the journey up the motorway we listened to “The World at One”, which was largely given over to speculation concerning tonight’s division in the House of Commons, and to a programme I taped last night, “Scientifically Speaking” about a binary pulsar, the study of which has provided remarkable and unexpected confirmation of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

   We had an excellent journey and arrived home before 2.30pm. After unloading the car and having a cup of tea, I was able to put in a good afternoon’s work in the office, including writing up the accounts and tying up bundles of waste paper, which Dad always used to do. Brian had arrived when I got back.

   A nice letter had come yesterday from Marion Tate, to whom I had written when the Sadler’s Wells Company was in the city the week before last. She sent me a photograph of herself in Giselle, which she tells me is her favourite role.

   The long winter is continuing with freezing temperatures and falls of snow in some parts. Only last week Newcastle was totally cut off with snow drifts of up to twenty feet. Before leaving for Summerlands on Sunday we had to take the electric blanket off the bed as it was short-circuiting. We have used it constantly (except in summer) since buying it with money given us by Uncle Les and Auntie Doris in about 1962. It was the only luxury we possessed for many years.

   10.18pm. The Government has just been defeated by 311 to 310 votes. Mr Callaghan is at this moment announcing that there will be a General Election. Mrs Thatcher wants this to be as soon as possible. The last Government to be defeated on a Vote of Confidence was Ramsay Macdonald’s Labour Government in 1924. Emmanuel Shinwell was a member of that government, and spoke about it today in “The World at One.” He is 94 now.


I miss Sophia Loren

   8.20pm. The General Election is to be on May 3rd, five weeks today. I heard the announcement on the radio in the office at 3.00pm.

   I gained Moshe Dayan today but — to my great disappointment — lost Sophia Loren. I saw her on HTV on Tuesday signing copies of her autobiography in a Bristol bookshop. Then yesterday at Weston I saw and looked at the book and thought I would like to read it. The thought occurred to me to ’phone Hudson’s and enquire whether Miss Loren would be making an appearance, but today it completely slipped my mind. Then on ATV Today earlier this evening we saw the crowds lining New Street to await her appearance.

   Ironically I acquired instead the autobiography of Moshe Dayan. Brian and Freda took two car-loads of waste paper to Deritend and there discovered several brand-new copies of the book [Story of My Life, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976], complete with dust jacket and in perfect condition. Brian asked permission to retrieve a copy and presented me with it when I arrived home at twenty to six.

   Freda and Brian were out all day, and I had lunch in the office. Sydney Kimm came at about 12.30pm and stayed until 5.00pm. He is very lonely and full of self-reproach, and so was delighted to help by cutting stamps off envelopes. Meanwhile, having answered all the letters, Janet and I stuck 5p and 2p stamps on 500–odd envelopes and stencilled them for a newsletter.

   Mr Taylor ’phoned this morning and complained about the cheque I sent him having bounced a second time. Later Mr Stythe rang from Bank of Europe, but there is nothing we can do now but look to the Lord to supply the need.

   Freda and Brian went to the Town Hall this afternoon to enquire about the possibility of our taking it for a three-week Crusade in 1981. Freda caught sight of Simon Rattle rehearsing the CBSO.

   I washed up after tea and am now watching Part 3 of Francis Iles’ Malice Aforethought. I have had the book for about 30 years [see under August 7th 1953] but have never read it! I am going to bed soon, to have an early night, having had a bit of a headache all day. It is the meeting tomorrow night. Heather has gone to hospital to have their second baby [Christian Orr].


SUNDAY 21st MAY 1979

Death of Arthur Gordon Smith


   8.28pm. I rose before 5.00am and was much drawn out in prayer, more so than in a very long time, with many tears and praying in the unknown tongue. Later in the morning Dad came into the office and told me that Grandad had died late last night. The Hospital had tried to ’phone Mam at about midnight but she and Dad must have been asleep. Then David ’phoned this morning with the sad news.

   Grandad was Arthur Gordon Smith. He was born at 109 Alma Street, Aston, on Monday 21st September 1891, so he was in his 88th year. His mother died in January 1940 at Kidderminster: I remember her. His father, Esau Willis Smith, died I know not when [actually on 4th January 1894 when Arthur Gordon was only 27 months old]. As a youngster I heard many lurid stories about the wickedness of my grandfather. I was led to believe that the three wickedest men on earth were Hitler, Mussolini and Grandad. I saw him only rarely, and then was surprised by his unobtrusive manner.

   He and my grandmother were married on Christmas Day 1912 at St. John’s, Deritend. They were 21 and 19, and my mother was already 4½ months old. His mother made them get married and allegedly said it was the worst day’s work she had ever done. Eight more children were born to the marriage. My mother claims that it was a very unhappy home, with Grandad always being drunk and violent. The circumstances of my mother’s birth poisoned her mind against her father. Sex was something dirty, and we three children have suffered all our lives as a result. Grandad also fought in the Great War of 1914–18 and I have heard his aberrations blamed on that. Only the Lord knows the real truth.

   In recent years Grandad had become blind and senile. Last time I asked after him Mam said he had become a skeleton. Grandma used to be taken to see him once a week and was on her way to visit him recently when the car was involved in an accident, as a result of which she nearly died. Today they were keeping the news of Grandad’s death from her but she ought to be told.

   Julia ’phoned this evening to tell me that the funeral will be on Friday at 1.40pm at Yardley, 1.15pm from Berkeley Road. It is the first time my mother has suffered a close bereavement in all her life, apart from her little brother Arthur dying when a few months old, and the loss of her grandmother in 1940.

   In the office we were busy answering letters until 3.00pm, then we went to Harborne to continue distributing the Miracle Digests, but were impeded by heavy rain. We got back home at twenty to six. After tea I washed up, then Julia ’phoned and was on the line some little while questioning me about life after death, anxious to know what I believe, yet fearful of hearing anything that might throw Seventh-Day Adventist teaching into question.



There is no justice

   9.07pm. My dear wife and I were married twenty years ago today. I gave Freda her card when I took her a cup of tea in bed, and she gave me a card and cassette of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony at breakfast.

   I spent the morning working on the accounts and copying tapes, while Freda went shopping and called on Nellie where she also mowed the lawn, which I cut yesterday. I ’phoned Janet during the morning.

   I continued copying and labelling tapes throughout the afternoon and evening. It was again very hot and we took a few minutes off to walk a little way up the hill and sat on a bench. Then when we got back we sat on the terrace to have a cup of tea. I read a pamphlet by Howard Rand entitled The Oil of Understanding.

   Throughout the afternoon I listened every hour to the News, anxious to hear the fate of Jeremy Thorpe and praying for him, as the jury were out considering their verdict. But by the end of the afternoon they had still not reached a decision and were taken to a London hotel for the night. It must be a terrible ordeal for Mr. Thorpe.

   Bob Monkhouse has also had a terrible ordeal. Police raided his house two years ago and took away part of his collection of films, as a result of which he was charged with offences under the Copyright Act. Yesterday at the Old Bailey he was acquitted of charges which should never have been brought, but what can compensate him and his family for two years of “terror” (his word)?

   The Jeremy Thorpe case ought also never to have been brought. The prosecution witnesses are all of dubious character and each stands to gain financially if Mr Thorpe is convicted. The case will have cost the taxpayer millions of pounds. There are too many crooked lawyers and magistrates, “bent” police, people in positions of authority able to use their influence to prosecute anyone they don’t like. “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”

   Helene came at 5.30pm to return the display binder. She said she was very moved by the collection of cards and letters [sent us by herself and Willem]. She gave us an envelope with £15 inside, a tithe on the last allowance for Willem from Holland. Her gift was a real answer to prayer: we had no money to get back to Birmingham.



Camels, llamas and a horse

   9.19pm. The first light of dawn was breaking in the north-eastern sky by the time we went to bed. I slept soundly and got up at 9.00am with the sunshine pouring in, and with that wonderful sense of relief and well-being that Summerlands and Glastonbury so often afford us.

   I came down to make a pot of tea, opened the conservatory door, and immediately noticed the big coloured tent in Fairfield. For one moment I thought it must be the Fair, and at the same instant I saw CAMELS and llamas, and realised it was a circus: Chipperfields’ as we found out later.

   I took Freda a cup of tea in bed, then went into the back bedroom to pray and read until breakfast. After breakfast we went across to Helene and took her the flower arrangement from last night’s meeting: roses, chrysanthemums, lilies and fern leaves.

   Helene asked us in and we talked for about half-an-hour. She told us that the photographs in the Somerset & West article had been taken only twelve days before Willem’s death. Helene gave me the two photographs she took of us looking at Willem’s flower bedecked grave.

   After we came home we walked down the road and into the Close to see if we could find out who owned the horse we could see on one of the end plots. Ever since we bought our piece of the field, I have been wanting to get a cow or horse or donkey to come and graze: the grass is waist-high. A gentleman said that a girl came to see the horse about four times a day, and he would ask her to come and see us. While we were down there, we made a close inspection of the bottom corner of our land where the earth was taken away, and now overgrown with docks and thistles of giant proportions. Mr. Wickham’s house has now been abandoned half-finished. It is up for sale, and looks like presenting enormous difficulties for any potential buyer.

   Back home we had coffee in the lounge, and I sat reading Morris Cerullo’s Proof-Producers until lunchtime. It is the official textbook of his “School of Ministry” which he has established in the El Cortez Hotel building in San Diego, and which he was in danger of having to close for lack of funds.

   After lunch I washed up, then we walked down to Fairfield to have a closer look at the camels, then we walked down into the town and along Benedict Street, and discovered a new second-hand bookshop. I sauntered in and almost the first book I saw was Steiner’s Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, and Freda found his The Apocalypse, a 1943 1st edition. Rudolf Steiner Press sent me their latest catalogue the other day, and I had decided I must buy The Apocalypse.

   There was another book I wanted. Ever since watching the film of his life on TV a fortnight ago, I felt I must read the biography of Norman Vincent Peale, Minister to Millions by Arthur Gordon, on which the film was based — and there was the book. So Freda bought me both books (£2 and 50p) for my birthday. Once again I have seen how the books I have wanted to acquire seem to present themselves to me without any thought or effort on my part. Now if only one could do the same with money …

   Delighted with my find we made for home across Fairfield. The camels were just being led out from under the Big Top where the last show was in progress before the circus packed up tonight. At the same moment we were aware of exotic parrots flying around, a brilliant blue and yellow, which we watched for some time. They flew over a wide area, from the tower of St. John’s to Hill Head Close and the slopes of Wearyall. If they belong to someone with the circus I cannot think how they get the parrots back again; and if not, then I wonder where they are. Various exotic birds, escaped from captivity, do breed here now, including colonies of budgerigars.

   Another surprise awaited us on our return home. We were sitting in deckchairs on the terrace, having a cup of tea, and I examining my new books, when there was a knock at the door. It was the young girl, Katherine Everard, come to see about grazing her horse on our field. We naturally assumed that it was the result of our enquiry earlier in the day, but it wasn’t. She knew nothing of our trying to contact her: she had enquired after us. The result was that she returned later, bringing the horse, and a couple of men to drive in stakes, and secure the corner of the field. So tonight we have the horse we have longed for.

   While I was washing up after tea Miss Rice [Edith Rice, four times Mayor of Glastonbury, who lives opposite us] walked down the side of the house, evidently not realising that we were at home. I imagine it was she who told Katherine about us, and maybe she was looking to see if the horse had come yet.

   After tea I continued reading Minister to Millions.

   I did not complete yesterday’s notes. We had a pleasant day in the office. I worked out a new stock letter and perforated it, and we were thus able to answer all the day’s letters, quite a number having come in in response to the newsletter. Janet came home to have lunch with us, as she usually does now when it is the Faith Temple meeting.

   It was a very warm day yesterday, and Janet gave me a rare treat. On Thursday she wore her pink top, and yesterday she appeared in her white slightly see-through cheese-cloth poncho. The tantalising glimpses of her breasts, and their swaying motion, filled me with delight and a wonderful sense of well-being. It made me feel appreciated.



In Ireland to see the Pope

   5.25am. Today is the great day when we are to see the Pope. We have spent the night on the floor of the Community Hall, Balgriffin, and in a few minutes should be on the road again to Phoenix Park, where the Pope will celebrate Mass at 11.30am.

   When we arrived here last night, the hall looked bleak and desolate, but when the doors were opened to us there was the welcome sight of trestle tables and linen cloth, plates piled high with sandwiches, hot soup, and tea to follow.


   7.22am. Yesterday’s early morning entry was the only one I was able to make and was written in the Community Hall where we slept overnight. I slept soundly in my sleeping bag (lent me by Rebecca) apart from being kicked in the head two or three times by someone lying at right angles. Then at 3.00am my assailant lit up a cigarette and it was the signal to get up. I washed in the dark from a cold tap and cleaned my teeth with the portable toothbrush I have had at least since 1958, then spent a while reading the first four chapters of 2 Corinthians before joining the girls for breakfast.

   They had been sleeping in the Main Hall, the women outnumbering the men, and we were in a room behind the stage. Father Michael (who somewhat reminds me of Don Double) was the last to get up, about twenty minutes before we were due to leave. He asked me on Friday morning what time we had got up, and grimaced when I said ten past five. He told me he had got up at twenty to seven. He need not have told us. We saw him in a state of undress in an upstairs window of the Presbytery. I asked him whether he usually said Mass at seven o'clock. “God, no,” he said, “eight-thirty.” Somehow I do not think he will ever become Pope.

   Yesterday will always be one of the greatest days of my life. Traffic was on the move from 3.00am. Our coaches left soon after 6.00am and it was an incredible sight to see thousands of people already wending their way on foot to Phoenix Park. All private traffic was stopped at the city boundary and only coaches were allowed through. There were police and soldiers at nearly every road junction. Somewhere along the way our driver took a wrong turning, this fast becoming rather evident when other coaches began passing us going in the opposite direction.

   As we approached the park and while it was still dark, two Boy Scouts boarded the coach and issued us with peel-off sticky badges, all the same: white with a green band at the top, overprinted with the letter A in the top left hand corner, and a big 42. It was the key to our location in the park, and later we were to hear over the public address system that 980,000 such badges (“tickets”) had been given out.

   The complex problem of admitting and accommodating safely the greatest outdoor meeting ever assembled in these Islands had been reduced to sheer simplicity. There were nine colours ranging back from the altar, papal yellow, then green, blue etc., and then a further subdivision by letter and number, the end result being about a thousand pens (or “corrals” I heard them called) each accommodating, with no crush, a thousand people. We had a very good position, a relative term only, since we must have been a quarter of a mile from the altar, but the audience extended east, south and west, literally as far as the eye could see, teaming hundreds of thousands of people — equivalent to the total population of Birmingham — in the finest natural arena it is possible to imagine.

   The weather was fine, sunny for the most part, but as the day wore on, a chilling wind blew up. We were to be there from about 7.30am until after 4.00pm, standing the whole time until the last hour or so when we were offered the use of seats. There was such a spirit of love and co-operation: people sharing their food and drink, offering the use of the fold-up seats they had brought with them, loaning their binoculars. “Love” seemed to sum it all up, epitomised in the man we had all come to see.

   One could write a book about yesterday. These recollections are being scribbled down amidst the activity of the schoolroom at Irishtown, Co. Mayo, where we have spent the night. But I shall never forget the intensely moving sight of the Pope’s Aer Lingus jumbo jet dipping low over Phoenix Park in a wide sweep, and the hundreds of thousands of upturned faces, the roar of a million voices, arms and flags waved in greeting. I wondered what the Pope felt as he surveyed the vast acres of humanity already gathered to meet him as the Visible Representative of Jesus on earth. It was astonishing, incredible, beautiful.

   Then there were the humorous moments when we knew Pope John Paul was on his way by helicopter, and cameras clicked (mine included, Slides 10301–25) as first one helicopter flew low, and then another, and one actually landed. Then after what seemed an age we learned that the Pope really had taken off from the Nunciature, and then another age seemed to pass before we knew that he really was present in the park, for we could see nothing and had to rely on the loudspeaker announcements and the commentary from transistor radios

   And then the powerful, unmistakeable voice of Pope John Paul began to intone the Mass. All this I was recording on the Uher tape-recorder, holding the record-playback lever across with a toothpick. The music we had been rehearsing earlier. I cannot remember too much about the Mass, or the Pope’s address. He spoke for more than 40 minutes on the unique place of Ireland in the history of the Church, on the centrality of the Eucharist and the importance of the Sacrament of Penance, and about family life Later, Communion was served, and we waited for a priest to appear, bearing the wafers, while over the loudspeaker we could hear dancing music. The whole atmosphere was supercharged with love and joy. I wondered whether Jesus, in his discourse of John 6, had seen, two thousand years in advance, this actual scene in which a million Israel people would celebrate the New Testament in his Blood. I cannot find words to describe the emotion one felt. It transcended [unfinished]


   5.24pm. On board the B & I Line Leinster, headed for Liverpool. The first opportunity I have had of adding to yesterday morning’s notes as our plans for yesterday were radically altered. We attended the Centenary Mass at Knock, and as a result of the traffic chaos which ensued, our coach was not able to leave Claremorris until 3.00am this morning, necessitating an overnight journey to Balgriffin where we should have spent the night. Instead we arrived for breakfast, with just time to eat a meal (soup, bread and marmalade, sponge cake) and have a wash, before travelling the last few miles to Dublin. After waiting for various people to rejoin us, who had been staying with relatives, the coach drove straight onto the ship. We left at 11.00am, and as I write these words, the engines are slowing preparatory to our landing at Liverpool.

   It has been a wonderful, wonderful pilgrimage, climaxed this morning by our being able to see on TV live in the Saloon Lounge, the final Mass for the People of God at Limerick, followed by the Pope’s helicopter flight to Shannon Airport and his departure for Boston.

   11.38pm. Home again! We arrived at about 10.30pm. I am checking some of the tapes we recorded of the Pope’s visit. On BBC2 News we have been watching his motorcade drive through Boston.



Threats against my life

   9.12pm. I got up at ten past five this morning, and hurriedly scribbled down the new stock letter I had to write, which had come to me on awaking. Before leaving for the office I opened my Bible for guidance, and read John 2, in which Jesus speaks of a man being not without honour save in his own country.

   In the office I typed out and perforated the new letter, then came home for breakfast. Before praying together I turned the pages of Herald of His Coming and found an article on John Fletcher in which it was stated that he was more than once tempted to leave his parish, thinking he had mistaken the leading of God and was out of His will. But while the first year passed with small congregations and much discouragement, the second found him preaching to congregations greater than the building could hold. I felt this to be the answer I was seeking, and felt a new confidence that the Lord would soon undertake in our financial problems.

   After breakfast I ’phoned Janet, intending to ask her if she would like to come and help me with the letters, but she was still in bed, so I did not pursue the enquiry and hastily excused myself. Mrs. Jones is constantly nagging Janet about my being a confidence trickster, and I do not like talking to her.

   I spent the rest of the morning in the office, returning home for coffee at 10.10am, and sorted out some scores of letters and wrote up the accounts. Barbara ’phoned me and asked what developments there had been since yesterday. I was able to tell her about the report in last night’s Mail and in today’s Sunday People, both of which I had bought on my way back to the office. Both were curiously low-key articles. It made me wonder whether the Mail at least, having threatened me with libel, was now considering the enormity of what they had done in destroying our credibility to the point where I was possibly having to give up the work. It may also have gotten back to them that threats have been made against my life, by cranks no doubt, but definitely related to the Mail campaign against us. I put the letters in the waste-paper basket, not realising that the Mail would threaten me with libel.

   I thought what a decent photograph the Mail had put in last night, of my supposedly greeting the congregation. But Freda and Julia and Malcolm immediately saw that it looked as though I was giving a Nazi salute. Very funny!

   After lunch I finished writing up the accounts and wrote some cheques, then we went to the office to unload the literature etc. from Friday’s meeting. We went to Cateswell Lodge and got a token to wash the car. There were too many people waiting to go through, so we went straight to Solihull, where Julia had invited us to look over the house they are intending to buy. It is in Yew Tree Lane, next door but one to the Dairy, and will cost them £30,000. On our way home we went through the car-wash and it damaged a windscreen-wiper. Last time we went through, years ago, it tore a wing mirror off.

   When we got home I had a bath. This evening Freda has done the ironing while I have been checking proofs.

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