Another Diary goes into the bookcase – this is my seventh [big one, my twelfth in all].

            Our New Year’s Eve social was quite enjoyable. It was held in the big hall and there were about seventy of us altogether. It lasted until about 11.0 and afterwards Helen and I went to a Watchnight Service conducted by Mr. Dibben. It was the first that either of us had ever been to one and Helen had never before let in the New Year. Afterwards we stood talking outside her house. I went to bed at 1.0am.

            In the morning Helen and I went walking to Solihull, Shirley and Hall Green along the usual route, down Stratford Road and Reddings Lane, along Shaftmoor Lane and Cateswell Road and so to Tyseley. Last night was the coldest of the winter and there was a hard frost which left the countryside under a shroud of white.

            Mam and Clarice and Julia were out when I got home. I listened to the first of a new series of Film Time, then fetched Ginger a sack of straw.

            Tonight I went to Club as usual. We had a games evening and there was also a play read-through in which I didn’t take part because I was doing my own pantomime at the time.




            Today was my last free Saturday before I start work at the Medical School on Monday. It was a foggy day. I went to Dorling’s and paid for the papers, 4/2d for the last two weeks. I took Helen to the New Year Social tonight.




            As last Sunday evening, we had Rev. T. Leslie Thexton to conduct this morning’s service.

            I spent the afternoon tidying up some of my books and finding out one or two things I shall need tomorrow. I also completed my weather readings for 1953 and I am now discontinuing the practice after seven years. With even less time than usual at my disposal, I can’t afford to keep it up. Anyway, December 1953’s readings were on the last page of my duplicate book.

            Tonight’s service was a Covenant Service and included Communion. It lasted until 8.15 and afterwards Helen and I went to the Fellowship where we had a half-hour of cards. It seems rather strange after Christmas but it isn’t twelfth night until January 6th.


The Reverend T. Leslie Thexton. 1931 Guildford, 1932 Richmond, 1935 Do, 1936 S.W. China Dt., 1950, Belmont Row




Medical School


            For the last seven months or more, January 4th 1954 had been just a significant date in the future. After one day at the Medical School I can’t quite remember what I expected it to be like.

            I caught the 8.26 ’bus [the 1A to Bristol Road and then the ’bus to Edgbaston Park Road, exactly as I have done for the last 6½ years nearly] and arrived at exactly nine. The Pharmacology department is part of the West Wing: this also houses Experimental Psychiatry, the Library, P [space left and a blank line here].

            John Winrow came in at 9.30 and proceeded to show me around. We have two labs opposite each other, numbered CG15 and 23. All the corridors are lettered according to whether they are in the East or West wings, or centrally placed.

            There are two other new assistants, Dennis Vaughan and Jenny, but they are not in my department. The three of us went up to Dr. Sammons’ room where we got a pink card filled in, then went across to the University to Mr. Burton’s office to hand this in together with Insurance Cards. We were given copies of the Regulations and it appears I have to resign at 65.

            Back again at M.S., John introduced me to the members of the Department. In our own labs there are Rory Finnegan, Roy Bentley and my immediate “boss” Dr. W.F.R. Pover. Dr. Pover is not very old, is married and has an assistant. My job is essentially Radio-chemistry which is something I’m interested in but don’t know much about Actually I have John’s job as he is going to the Chemistry department in a fortnight’s time.

            The right hand lab contains a dark-room for photography, a weighing room, and a “counting” room. This latter contains three Geiger-counters which John showed me how to operate. Above these rooms is a loft in which we can only just sit down. Here there are cupboards in which are kept the more dangerous radioactive materials. There is also a table and a type-writer which is going to be jolly useful …

            During the day John showed me the cold room, workshop, animal houses (cats, dogs, mice, rats, guinea-pigs), canteen, library and numerous other places which I’ve forgotten already.




            I was at Medical School on the stroke of nine this morning. By all accounts, most people roll in around ten o’clock in the morning. The first work I did this morning was to take a break for tea at 10.15am. Dr. Pover only just then came in. I spent the hour or so in between “up aloft” typing a page of my book, and managed to do so with only three or four mistakes. I shalln’t need that Private Secretary I’d been thinking about…

            I’m gradually learning my way about the place, though it will be months before I shall be able to get into the hospital and find my own way out. It would look rather silly for me to be wearing my white coat and having to ask the direction. School was pretty confusing but the [Queen Elizabeth] Hospital is miles worse.




            No one came in this morning until nearly ten so I was able to put in an hour’s work on the type-writer. I typed out several pages of my pantomime, part of the middle actually, as I haven’t decided on the ending yet, and only wrote the beginning this evening.

            There was nothing to do before morning break; afterwards we had to do several counts on the faeces and urine of a patient in the Children’s Hospital, and John showed me how to work out the results. We continued this in the afternoon, then after tea helped Dr. Pover to clear out some cupboards and re-stock them. I came out at 5.50pm. It snowed throughout the day at intervals and there was a fine covering as I came home. It was very cold last night, the temperature fell to 28 degrees.




            I got more of my pantomime typed this morning. I am calling it “Crazy Nights With King Arthur”.

            We had a frost again last night. Today has been mainly fine and sunny but very cold.




            I had to go to College this morning [the College of Technology, Suffolk Street] from 9.0 until 12.30pm for a Zoology class. My lecturer was Miss K.S. Richards, the first woman teacher I’ve had since July 1946. The lecture was on the mammalian skull, then after a tea-break we drew the skull of a dog for practical work.

            I got back to work just after one o’clock and in the afternoon collected my first week’s wages – £3 3s 3d. From my £3 10s 0d had been deducted 5/9d Insurance and 1/-d Income Tax.

            I went to Club as usual. We had a dancing evening.




Blues win at Molineux


            There was an overnight thaw and everywhere was damp this morning. My work this morning consisted of filing some apparatus cards and typing a list of electrical apparatus that we keep in the loft. I finished at 12.30 and got home for 1.15pm in the middle of the heavy downpour of rain that had been threatening all morning.

            I almost decided to go to see Blues’ [Birmingham City] 3rd Round Cup match at Molineux but changed my mind last night. I was absolutely certain Blues would win even though Wolves are top of Div. I. I told Dad this afternoon that Wolves would score in the first ten minutes, then Blues would score twice. Actually Wilshaw scored in the 13th minute, Murphy equalised, and Rowley scored the winner.

Birmingham City: – Merrick, Hall, Green; Kinsey, Newman, Boyd; Astall, Murphy, Lane, Rowley, Govan.

            Tonight I took Helen to the Piccadilly to see Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in The Caddy and Farewell Mr. Grock (Grock the clown).




            This morning the preacher was the vicar [minister, the Revd. J. Valentine Dibben] and one of the things he talked about was “Why should it happen to me?” Actually the subject was Christ’s power of forgiving sins.

            Tonight the Rev A.R. Spencer spoke on the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t know whether he chose the hymns, though. I suspect that he did, but we knew hardly any of them.

            Afterwards at Y.P.F., Rev. Clifford Hind spoke on “Prisons”

            A third B.O.A.C Comet has crashed in the Mediterranean killing everyone aboard. There were similar disasters on 26th October 1952 and 2nd May last year.


The Reverend Clifford Hind entered the ministry in 1940 and was at the Birmingham Mission 1948-55.




Civil Defence


            This morning I completed some typing I had still to do, for the remainder of the time I was mainly concerned with helping in the lab. Dr. Pover is away in London.

            I had sandwiches for tea as well as dinner as I had to go to College this evening from 6.0 until 9.00pm.

            I intended to pay my 11/-d fee this evening but I withheld payment because they wanted me to pay 3/6d more than that.

            My lecturer tonight [for botany] was Mr. G.B. Hindle, B.Sc., A.R.C.S. who is one of the part-time staff, and a grammar-school master. We studied mitosis and meiosis, then did drawings. There were only six of us.

            Dad got home from C.D. [Civil Defence] at 10.15, while it was nearly 11.0 before Mam & Clarice & Julia got back from Aunt Daisy’s [136 Mapleton Road, Hall Green]. I watched Retrospect 1953.




Guild of Students


            Dr. Pover came back this morning – at 11.45am. I came home at midday having done nothing at all during the morning save some Biology.

            When I went to pay my fee at College this afternoon, it had gone up to 18/-d but I soon got it put back to 14/6d. The people in the office don’t seem to know much about their job at all.

            On enrolment, one automatically becomes a member of the Guild of Students which has 26 societies and clubs. These embrace sporting activities and others ranging from Botany, Conservation, Industrial Administration, Jazz, to Metallurgy, Motor Cycling, Paint and Varnish, and Pharmacy.

            The College has 8,500 students, more than 5,000 of them adults. Parts of the College are transferring to the new Gosta Green building in September. I came home on the 44 ’bus and got a haircut [at Mr. Sallis’s in Station Road].




Norman Evans in Pantomime


            I came out of work early today as Dad was taking us all to the pantomime Humpty Dumpty at the [Theatre] Royal. It was a lovely evening. I have seen only one other pantomime, in January 1945 (Tessie O’Shea in Red Riding Hood) but I can well believe that this is Birmingham’s finest Christmas show for many years. Norman Evans was outstanding as the dame. He did his “over the garden-wall” act over a kitchen window-sill, took part in a brass band [unfinished]




An unkind remark


            When Mr. Haywood came to see our Youth Club in December, he asked me to write an article for Youth. I finally got round to completing it today and typed it at work.

            As usual, the business of re-organising was continued today. The irritating thing is that after nearly two weeks’ work, the lab still looks as untidy as ever. I felt unusually depressed for the greater part of the day, and a rather cutting remark I made to Margaret didn’t improve matters. I didn’t know whether she was going to burst into flames or tears but I think she would have liked to kill me.




King Edward’s School Chronicle


             I was ten minutes late for College this morning. First the ’bus did a creep, went the long way round and took me right into New Street because the Hill Street lights were wrong, and, already five minutes late, I was further delayed when I met David Torvell outside the Post Office.

            At college we studied mammalian dentition and drew the teeth of dog, cat, horse and sheep. Miss Richards also gave us each a “name this bone” oral test in which I got 85% from ten questions on the skull.

            I called in at school on my way back to Medical School and secured a King Edward’s School Chronicle for myself. It was a funny sensation being at school but not belonging …

            The tedious job of shifting things about in the lab continues. One other job John and I had to do was to bathe the eyes of Blackie which are in a very bad way. The vet has been in and prescribed Sodium Sulphacetamide which we got from the dispensary in the hospital. I think I shall one day be able to find my way around the hospital by the colours of the different corridors.

            In the evening I went as usual to the Club. It was to have been a games evening but our room had been taken for a party that Clarice and Julia attended, so we were rather disorganised. First, I took part in a play-reading in the Secretary’s room.

            It was very windy today, a real gale.


I wanted a copy of the January 1954 Chronicle as I had contributed a report. I found it, somewhat abbreviated, in an article on “The Societies”. It reads: “The pastoral glories of the Bittell, Bartley Green and Bellfields Reservoirs, with Enfield, have delighted the Natural History Society and Field Club, who held eleven outdoor and eleven indoor meetings this year. The Field Club have seen the Lickey Hills with Master A.R. Stephenson, now of Repton School. Here the old order changeth, Master M.E. Monkcom (Chairman) and B.D. Williams (Secretary) being succeeded by Master C. Dodds and D.W.G. Budd.” There is also an Editorial on the Cartland Room.




The Robe in CinemaScope


            I went to work on the s.b. this morning and got in at 9.10. I typed a page and a half of my pantomime – the first work I’ve done on it this week – and spent the remainder of the morning arranging bottles and putting screws into one of the Dessian tables Rory is making.

            Tonight Helen and I went to see the first film in CinemaScope at the Odeon. It was The Robe, taken from the novel by Lloyd C. Douglas. It had its preview on Monday. There was, of course, a very long queue. We joined it at 5.55 and within five minutes there were another 100-150 people behind us. We had to wait two hours. The film started at 8.25 and lasted 139 minutes.

            I found the film so outstanding that the wide-screen seemed only a secondary consideration. It was extremely moving at times and very tenderly acted by a first-rate cast. I suppose that a fault of most Biblical films is that the subject is not treated with the respect it requires, but here there was no lack of sincerity or dignity and the film is so well done that [unfinished]




            As usual I went to both services today. In the morning we had a young preacher from the Selly Oak Colleges.

            Mam and Dad came to Church tonight to hear Mr. Dibben.




            I’ve been busy all day today. During the morning Dr. Pover helped me to complete the screwing down of the tables, then we moved them into the dark room. John moved to the Chemistry department today.

            Sandy, who is usually in charge of the animals, got married on Saturday, so we’ve got the job of looking after the cats all this week. I spent the whole afternoon cleaning out our cats and bathing Blackie’s eyes. Mrs. R has a bad eye as well so she required some special attention.

            Dr. Pover took me to town in his car this evening. At College, Mr. Hindle dealt with Spirogyra. This [Botany] class seems to be a dead loss so far as we are concerned. Only six out of 18 were present tonight.

            The new 3d, 6d and 7d stamps came out today.




            The morning post brought me a letter from the Income Tax people who wanted to know where I was employed between April and the date of commencement with the University. I suppose they meant 1953. They also wanted to know what my wife earns, and what tips I pick up.

            At work, I bathed Blackie’s eyes twice and Mrs. R’s once. I also made up a new Sulphacetamide solution and made some printed slips for some loose-leaf books.

            At College, we carried on with the Nervous System – in particular the spinal cord.




            We have a new patient now at the Children’s Hospital so I spent this morning counting.




            I’ve been very busy all today, doing urine and faeces counts. The mixer has been rather troublesome and I got a couple of electric shocks trying to adjust the rheostat.

            Mrs R has vitamin deficiency so she is having yeast ext6ract with her meals, and an application of [not filled in].

            During the day I also took off half-a-dozen cupboard locks. Dr. Pover took them to pieces and put them together again so that the same key fits them all.




            At College today we studied Enzymes then did some experiments on some of them.

            Apart from counting specimens nothing much happened at work.

            At Club tonight we had a games evening. After the interval we had a discussion group – its first meeting – when I led a discussion on the lines of “Is the present younger generation really deserving of the criticism being levelled at it by the older folk?”




            I went to work on the School ’Bus this morning. I spent the morning counting, and cleaning out Dr. Bradley’s cats. Being soft-hearted I let Twinks out of her cage and then couldn’t catch her.

            I cycled to Blues’ match v Stoke City, the first match I’ve seen for nearly three months. Birmingham City won a scrappy game by 1-nil, Noel Kinsey scoring after 54 minutes. They are now 2nd in the League, a point behind Everton, and sharing the same number of points as five other clubs. Some race, but Blues could get promotion and the Cup this year. Mr. W.H. Grady died at 2.0pm and a minute’s silence was observed.

Birmingham City:– Merrick; Hall, Green; Boyd, Smith, Warhurst; Stewart, Kinsey, Purdon, Murphy, Govan.

            Our monthly social was organised by Rosemary Powley and Dorothy Fitton, and was quite a success, though the games were a bit too long. Helen and I danced together the whole evening and kissed – a pity about the street lamp!




Dr. Albert Schweitzer


            This morning our preacher was Rev. W.S. Terry whose subject was 1 Philippians 4:7 – “Be still, and know that I am God.” Tonight, Mr. Dibben spoke on Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

            It was a really beautiful morning, crisp but cold, so after the service Helen and I went for a walk together. We had only fifty minutes so we went my Stratford Road walk but came home via School Road.

            John Winrow came to Church with me this evening and to the Fellowship afterwards. I think he really enjoyed himself. We had a Balloon Game evening. Margaret Hibberd was Nurse Cavell, Len Boden was Alexander Graham Bell, and Frank Davis was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. We threw out Bell (35 votes), while nineteen of us would have ditched Nurse Cavell. Dr. Schweitzer was unanimously retained.




            Most of today I have been putting partitions into the drawer of the desk. The partitions are of hard-board and I am fixing them in position with ½ inch square wood cut to the required lengths.

            I spent an hour weighing the cats during the morning. Blackie has recovered from his operation but can see very little. I had him out of his cage and walked him round, which seemed to restore some of his confidence – he even climbed onto a box. During the afternoon I had to show a visitor Asym the Crétin, and some of the other cats

            I went to Botany at College from 6.0 to 9.0.




            The first thing I thought when I awoke this morning was that I had forgotten to mention my visit to see Carroll Levis at the Windsor Theatre, Bearwood in my Diary last June! I got out last year’s Diary and, sure enough, I had forgotten to record it in the events of June. Goodness knows why I should suddenly think of it.




            The most interesting part of work today was making a movie film of the cats. Dr. Pover got a cine-camera and fitted up half-a-dozen arc lamps; the main difficulty came when we wanted the animals to return. We filmed each separately, trying to get them all to walk along the bench. It wasn’t easy because the cats were rather curious or frightened by the strong lighting or the whirr of the camera.

            It has been quite sunny today but freezing all day long with a fierce East wind blowing.




            Today’s work consisted almost entirely of counting.

            I see from tonight’s Birmingham Mail that the temperature fell to 23 degrees yesterday and never rose above 29, but it has felt even colder today.




            Most of today I spent on counting the last batch of urine and faeces of the present patient – a fibrocystic.

            We has a little snow this morning, so it was a bit warmer. I went to Club as usual tonight.




            Today should have been my Saturday off but I went to work as there was a Science Technologists’ Association meeting. As things turned out, I didn’t go to the meeting after all, didn’t leave until 1.15, because I wanted to finish partitioning the drawer – the job I started on Monday. Even so, it’s still not finished.

            I had a nasty idea that the 4th Round Cup match to be broadcast this afternoon would be Ipswich Town v Birmingham City. It was, and Blues lost 1-nil.

            I took Helen to the Rialto this evening. We got in just as the programme started. I wanted to see both films, The Girl Next Door [with Dan Dailey, June Haver and Dennis Day] was a goodish, plotless musical with some cartoon sequences as a novelty to provide added attraction. Vicki [with Elliott Reid and Jean Peters] wasn’t.




            At this morning’s service the preacher was Rev. Arnold B. Jones and his sermon was on [blank]

            Helen and I went for a walk before dinner [down Victoria Road and Woodcock Lane,] along Clay Lane, Coventry Road and Yardley Road. It was a beautiful crisp morning and there was an inch or two of snow under foot.

            At tonight’s service the sermon was preached by Rev. G.H. Dunford.




            Nothing happened today. I felt rather depressed. At College we studied Cystopus. It was freezing again all day, the coldest spell we have had since the last week of February 1947.




            I enjoyed very much my College class this afternoon. We did no practical work and studied the structure and functions of the skin – dogfish, frog and mammal.




            It has been a little warmer today but the cold spell is continuing.

            I bought a copy of Picture Post this morning as it contained a rather interesting report on “The Best and Worst of Birmingham”. I got into work at 9.30am, having missed the S.B.

            I spent the whole morning and afternoon typing lists of my first two patients, and making out graphs showing percentage recovery [of radioactive iodine] against time.

            John and I went into school during the lunch hour. I gave Budd the N.H.S. [Natural History Society] Minute Book.

            We have lost our typewriter but gained a portable one instead, the only disadvantage of which is that it has a too narrow carriage.

            This week’s seminar was postponed.




            John Maund and I were on the same 1A ’bus this morning. We hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks.

            It was nearly all “office” work for me today. One of my jobs was to graph the cats’ weights.

            The new Bristol Britannia airliner [G-ALRX, the second prototype] has crashed on a test flight in the Severn Estuary. The pilot Bill Pegg made an emergency landing on the mud flats, and everyone on board escaped, but the plane will now be covered by the tide. It flew for the first time only six weeks ago on 23rd December.


G-ALRX took off from Filton with Captain A.J. (‘Bill’) Pegg at the controls, Ken Fitzgerald and Gareth Jones, Flight Engineers, G. Malouin of KLM, co-pilot, and nine others. Seven minutes later starboard engine No. 3 began heating up and was switched off. Having cooled sufficiently it was switched back on again and the flight continued northward. On climbing through 10,000 feet the engine heated up again and suddenly exploded, shrapnel piercing the oil tank and setting the engine on fire.

            As a precaution No. 4 engine was shut off, but then the portside 1 and 2 engines shut down (due to a short circuit caused by the fire) leaving the Britannia without power. The engineers managed to start them up again, but with the starboard wing engulfed in flames and the fuel tanks threatening to explode at any moment, Bill Pegg turned the aircraft round and, with its wheels and flaps up, made a belly-landing on the mudflats of the Severn estuary, not far from Littleton-on-Severn. The tide being out, the Britannia careered along for 400 yards, gouging five tracks in the mud before veering right and coming to rest facing out from the shore.

            Shaken, but otherwise unhurt (except for a minor head injury suffered by the radio-operator), the crew and passengers jumped out. Local people and workers from the nearby brick works rushed to their aid, and fire tenders were soon on the spot but were not required as the mud had extinguished the fire. A mesh pathway was laid over the mud enabling equipment to be retrieved, but the aircraft was unable to be pulled ashore until two days later, and having been submerged in the sea it was a write-off.           

            This accident to G-ALRX (caused by sheared-off teeth from a pinion at the front of the propeller shaft and consequent over-speeding of the Proteus 705 turboprop engine), together with the grounding of the first prototype G-ALBO (due to a flap-failure on one of its test flights), delayed production of the Britannia, but it subsequently became a highly successful airliner with B.O.A.C. and the Royal Air Force. (Freda and I flew in them many times.)

            Beyond repair, G-ALRX was returned to Filton in sections, the main fuselage etc. used for instruction, and the rear for torsion and fatigue tests. The refurbished nose section provided flight deck training for some 6,000 aircrew until 1971 when it was moved to RAF Brize Norton. It was subsequently donated to the Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust (a Registered Charity) and housed briefly at Banwell before finding a more permanent home at Kemble where it is on display to the public. I am indebted to the Trust for the dramatic photograph. [jpg]




Back pain


            At College this morning we did a 3½ hour dissection of the rabbit.

            Back at M.S. I had a very severe attack of backache which had me rolling on the floor in agony. Dr. Pover got Dr. French who wrote a note and sent me to the Casualty Department. The doctor there tested my reflexes and examined my legs to make sure I still had all the feeling in them, and asked several alarming questions. I had three X-rays taken but until Monday at 9.30 all I know is that I haven’t a slipped disc.

            By the time they had finished with me it was about 5.0. The pain had eased a little by 7.30pm so I went to Club so as not to disappoint Helen who was not going to Choir Practice. It was a dancing evening and did me more good than harm.




Tea with Helen


            Altogether it’s been rather a relaxing day. I didn’t get up until nearly midday and my backache had gone.

            At 4.0pm I went to tea with Helen, a very nice tea too, then in the evening we went to the Gaumont to see the second CinemaScope production How to Marry a Millionaire (U) starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. It was an excellent comedy.




            The preacher this morning was Rev. E. Bryan Harvey, B.A., B.Sc., the minister for Ward End.

            Mr. Dibben preached tonight.




            My X-rays showed nothing but bones, and the doctor’s verdict was “severe fibrositis”, which was a relief.

            It was comparatively warm this morning and the falling sleet made the roads slushy. It was a delight to watch the expressions on the faces of four or five people who saw one student perform rigorous contortions and just manage to keep on his feet.

            A letter from 22945990 Gnr. Chadwin tells me he is a T.A.R.A. and that he stands behind guns with a slide-rule, that the WRACs and NAAFI girls run a profitable business on the side, and that the females at Oswestry are ’orrible.

            Nothing much happened at work. We studied Mucor at College.

            The new Queen Elizabeth II 9d, 10d and 11d stamps went on sale today.




            There is not much to record today. At College we studied the histology of the gut.

            I had to go to Club this evening for a play read-through.

            It was dull and foggy and cold all day.




            I went to work on the S.B. this morning. I spent the morning and afternoon counting. During our lunch-break John and I discussed plans for a proposed trip to France in two months’ time. It would be of about ten days duration, April 4th-24th.

            Our department’s seminar was cancelled so I went to one held by the Department of Physiology in the Dental Theatre. It was on “The clearance of particles from the blood stream. Radio-active microsphere (caesium glass) of size 2.5 [mu] were injected into rats. Half-clearance was effected in one minute, and it was found that 70-80% of the particles were taken up by the liver. This phagocytosis is due to some adhesive mechanism, but some particles, e.g. red cells, escape it, no one knows why.




            Being rather tired I went to bed at 9.0 last night and listened in to The Unguarded Hour by Bernard Merrivale. Malcolm Keen played Sir Francis Deardon, Q.C. It is an excellent play which I had heard previous to last night’s production. It might make a good film.




            At College this morning we continued with the Arterial and Venous Systems and did more work on our rabbits. Mine has become rather a mess.

            I met David Torvell in the Post Office [G.P.O., Victoria Square] and wrote some Valentines for him. I met John outside the [Theatre] Royal, as we had previously arranged. We went to Cook’s and to New Street Station to make enquiries about travelling to France [and got some brochures. jpg]. We also went to the Record Shop below Woodhouse’s [furniture shop].

            At work one of my jobs was to wash a consignment of bottles (48) which we got from Phillip Harris’s.

            We played games at Club tonight.




Trouble in Store


            This morning I began counting samples from a Mr. John Comerford in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I have shown Rory how to do the counting and he was able to do half of it while I got on with some other work.

            Helen came to tea at 3.30pm. We sat in the front room looking at my picture postcards. After this we went to the Olton to see Norman Wisdom’s first film Trouble in Store. (It was at the West End last week). An unpretentious film with no plot, just a series of acts by Norman Wisdom, it achieved a very good standard of entertainment, and given the right material there is every reason to believe that here is a new star in the tradition of Chaplin and Lloyd.

            The supporting film was a crime thriller The Glass Web with Edward G. Robinson and Kathleen Hughes. It was also very good.




            Mr. Dibben was the preacher at this morning’s service, and tonight we had Rev. Arnold B. Jones. Mr. Jones’ sermon was especially good – one could have heard a pin drop and the ticking of wrist-watches sounded as loud as the Geiger-counter at work!




            I gave College a miss tonight and went to bed at 9.15 and listened to the Frankie Howerd Show.




            I had a most unpleasant letter this morning saying I cannot be deferred. I don’t know what happens now but Dr. Sammons and Prof. Frazer will be taking the mater up.

            At work I worked out the results obtained with our Q.E. Hospital patient, and did one or two other jobs.

            The whole of my college class was devoted to practical work.

            Helen’s half-term ends tomorrow night and I wanted to take her out this evening but there was nowhere to go, so I was invited to spend the evening with the Walkers. We played Canasta and a word-game, and altogether it was a most relaxing evening. Afterwards Helen came round to see The Name’s the Same, and a C.B.S. programme Person to Person.


I listened to The Name’s the Same when it started on Tuesday 9th June last year. It is a game in which a panel of experts has to guess the name of contestant with famous names. The original panel was Frances Day, Phyllis Cradock, Frank Muir and Denis Norden, and the question-master is Raymond Glendenning.




            This morning I typed the results of our Q.E. patient, and weighed the cats.

            The seminar was given by Dr. J.W. Daniel, the subject being “Some Aspects of Fat Absorption”.

            I did not leave work until after 6.0pm as I was busy typing a letter to the B.B.C. in London.

            I went to Club at 7.30pm for a play rehearsal [with Mrs. Thomas] on the stage.




            This morning I received three tickets for TV Town Forum which I wrote for last week. The programme will feature a team from Sweden and will be seen tomorrow week at 8.05pm. It is coming from Solihull.




            I had rather a hectic morning. Instead of going to College I went to Staniforth Street to see a Mr. Lindop who was very officious and no help at all. He sent me on to the Deferment Offices in Corporation Street.

            At Club tonight there was a table-tennis match v. Holy Souls R.C. Youth Club. The match was drawn 6-6. Some of us watched the match, the rest of us listened to gramophone records we each took along. (I took Al Jolson’s I’m in Seventh Heaven. I did the washing up. The second part of the evening took the form of dancing, after which I gave out a notice concerning a Youth Club broadcast I want to put on.




            Was it coincidence that I should receive papers for my “medical” this morning? It makes me wonder. Apart from this unpleasant shock it was a beautiful day, the sun shining all day long, and I had little to do at work.

            Tonight I took Helen to the Waldorf to see Abbott and Costello Go To Mars in which they accidentally launch a space-ship with an escaped gangster on board. It was quite funny. The other film City Beneath the Sea was also enjoyable, especially for the colourful locations and underwater photography. It was about deep-sea divers searching for sunken treasure off the coast of Jamaica. The stars were Robert Ryan, Mala Powers and Suzan Ball.




            This morning the preacher was Rev. T. Leslie Thexton, tonight Mr. Dibben.

            At Youth Fellowship we had a magazine evening. I promised to do something when asked last week but didn’t really decide what to do until today. I read “The Man in the Street”, a poem by Geoffrey Bridson, especially written for Wilfred Pickles for the last of a series of Have a Go which ended on Friday 6th May 1949.

            It has been decided that we are to have a Youth Team which will take services and be a witness in the Circuit. Pat Welch will lead it.




            Today being Founder’s Day, I didn’t have to go to M.S., and it was nearly midday before I got up.

            Nothing much happened. During the afternoon I watched Pluck of the Irish on TV. The film, starring James Cagney, Mae Clarke and Edward Brophy, was made in 1936. Mam and I had both seen it before.

            I went to [Botany at] College as usual this evening. There were only four of us. We did “Abnormal Methods of Plant Nutrition” and for practical we drew slides of cell-division.




            Dr. Sammons came in to tell me he cannot fit me into any I.M.L.T. or S.T.A. course this morning, but when I saw Prof. Frazer he said he would try his best to do something for me, but was not very hopeful.

            At College I did slide drawings all afternoon under Mr. Gardener’s tuition. I am at last learning how to draw [scientific drawings], and how to use a microscope. I was never taught these things at school.    

            For a change I watched TV for over two hours tonight. The play was Hugh Ross Williamson’s Fools Paradise. With its country setting it ambled slowly along with not overmuch interest, but pleasantly enough.

            On the News we learned that Billy Graham and team arrived at Southampton for the Greater London Crusade which begins next week. There has already been quite a lot of adverse criticism.




            I went on the S.B. this morning [and learned that] yesterday’s cross-country race was won by Willy Kington [Brian W. Kington in the Science Upper Sixth] and the House team [Vardy] was third.

            At work I finished sorting out a few hundred screws, did some washing up, completed two graphs, took a letter to the Dispensary, got rid of some bottles and jars via Bill Dunn, and weighed the cats. The seminar was by Dr. Hawthorne on “The Inositol-containing Lipids”.

            I got home for 6.0pm and went to play rehearsal tonight. Mr. Thomas took charge as Mrs. Thomas is ill.

            It is now just after 10.0pm.




            At work things are relatively organised for the first time for six months, I am told.

            Norman is covering two benches with formica which much improves the general appearance of the lab, and only one bench remains to be cleared. In CG15 the two big cupboards are at present away for repair a second time. The wood warped so much that the sliding door almost fell out.




            At College this morning, we studied the structure of the reproductive organs and continued the dissection.

            Nothing much happened at work. I finished early and came home at 5.05 but even so, it took me just over an hour to get home. I could have walked the six miles in another twenty minutes.

            At 6.45 I took Helen to TV Town Forum at Solihull School. For once in a while I was not in the team of questioners. The programme started at 8.5pm and the panel was Mrs. Pernilla Tunberger, Prof. F.E.H. Velander, Bertil Kugelberg and Valter Aman, with Denis Morris chairman as usual; he took a British team to Sweden in September 1952.




            I had my monthly [Saturday] morning off today, got up at 9.15, and spent the morning arranging a “What’s My Name?” game. I put eighteen faces cut from recent newspapers, onto postcards and added clues.

            Dad had a number of presents for his [47th] birthday today – a pair of waterproof leggings from Mam, a ball-point pen from Clarice and Julia, and braces from me, as well as four cards (one from Ginger).

            I was indoors all afternoon doing a number of jobs . I went to Club at 6.30pm as Len Boden, Margaret Hibberd, Pat Welch and I had some preparation to do before the Social began at 7.0pm. Actually there was a rehearsal first of some country dancing for the Youth Festival next month.




Welsh Corgi


            At Church this morning the preacher was Mr. C.P. Prest. After Church Helen and I went walking along Clay Lane. This time we had two hounds, as we have now acquired a Welsh Corgi. Mam and Dad saw one advertised yesterday and went to Reddings Lane to see it. This morning at 10.15, its owner came round and said that Dad could have the dog, so we’ve got it! Her name is Dinah.

            Tonight the Vicar [minister, Mr. Dibben] conducted a Service of Praise consisting of hymns by John Wesley. At the Youth Fellowship I was first speaker in the in the debate “This house thinks that a Christian should not take up arms.” Len Boden seconded me, Brian Brennan and Bernard Greatrex opposed. Voting was about 18-10 against, with quite a number of abstentions. One of the abstainers was a “mugwump”, I said, “sitting on the fence with his mug on one side and his wump on the other,” which brought the house down. [Pat Welch described it as a “rumbustious debate”.]




I move 11 tons of lead


            There was a couple of inches of snow on the ground this morning, but the sun was shining and I felt quite cheered as I listened to a number of Yellow Buntings in full song.

            During the morning a consignment of a hundred lead bricks 4’’ x 4’’ x 2’’ arrived from Mould Bros.[Stratford Road, Camp Hill]. They weighed 11 tons 2 cwt 17 lb. I got them to the lab in three lots and it took quite a conscious effort to move the loaded trolley.

            I went to Botany as usual tonight.


I could not possibly have moved 11 tons of lead in three journeys, or at all! It seems likely that the figures were taken from the delivery note and that the weight was 11 hundredweight 2 quarters and 17 pounds (1305 pounds), in which case each block would have weighed just over 13 lb. Please can someone tell me if these figures are correct?




            I had three letters this morning, my Scripture Union notes [from John O.C. Alleyne], one from the Old Edwardians Association – their Annual accounts – and a hand-delivered note from Helen, apologising for not being able to see me last night. As I guessed, she came home at 5.30pm having had a very bad time with the dentist who took an hour to removed one tooth. Which reminds me that I have still to complete my appointments with Mr. Parker.

            At College I made drawings of the Mammalian Ovary.




            This week I have two patients, Mr. Comerford in the Q.E. (again) and one in the Children’s Hospital.

            This afternoon Rory and I went to a seminar by Prof. E.A. Peel. It was entitled “The Contributions of Sir Francis Galton to Psychology and Allied Sciences”. (It was Experimental Psychiatry’s seminar, not Pathology’s – our was cancelled.) Francis Galton was at K.E.S. in the time of Francis Jeune, headmaster from 1834-38.




            There is nothing to record today. I did some counting most of the afternoon.




            With Miss Richards we are now studying the Nervous System and our dissection today was to show the cranial nerves.

            [From College] I went to the Hippodrome to get tickets for Love From Judy but all the stall seats for the three Friday and Saturday performances had gone. All I was able to get was tickets for the balcony for March 26th.

            It was a bright sunny day but quite cold.




            I made a couple of trips into the hospital this morning and did two counts. Otherwise there wasn’t a great deal to do.

            I went to the Library this afternoon and got out Inspector West Kicks Off (John Creasey), The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl and Our Neighbour Worlds by V.A. Firsoff. I also listened to the Blues [Birmingham City] v Bristol Rovers match, a 1-1 draw. Boyd scored.

            Tonight I took Helen to see Damon Runyan’s Money From Home at the Gaumont, starring Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis; it was very enjoyable. The supporting film, Park Plaza 605. starring Tom Conway and Eva Bartok was also good.




            Today has been our Church Anniversary and the preacher at both our services was the Rev Dr. Eric W. Baker, Secretary of the Methodist Conference. The subject this morning was “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48), and the choices a Christian has to make – the straightforward good v. bad; the difficult “lesser of two evils” choice; and the most important of all, the choice between the good and the best.

            Mam and Dad came to this evening’s service. At Y.P.F. I led the devotions. We had Hymn 821 Stand up, stand up for Jesus!; prayers, including a prayer for friendship; Philippians 4:4-13 as the reading; and 692 O Saviour, Bless us as we go at the close. The speaker was Mrs. Edith Wills, former Duddeston M.P., on “World Government”. She had plenty to say but I wasn’t always convinced by her arguments. But as Mr. Thomas said, it made you think.

            At the services today we each received a copy of the second Quarterly Newsletter containing news of all the different organisations and activities in the Church. Pat Welch has written an article on the Y.P.F. and my “Never A Dull Moment” article on the Youth Club is also included.


The Reverend Dr. Eric W. Baker entered the ministry in 1923 and was at Birmingham (Moseley Road) from 1923-27. He was Secretary of the Methodist Conference for 20 years until becoming supernumerary in 1971. He died in 1973.

 Mrs. Edith Agnes Mills, J.P., née Wood, was born in Birmingham on 21st November 1892, married Frank Mills in 1921, served on the City Council 1930-46 and 1952-55, and became a magistrate 1934. She was Labour M.P. for Duddeston 1945-50 and a member of the Tomato and Cucumber Marketing Board, 1950.




            I have been across to the hospital twice today, in the morning with Dennis Vaughan to collect a sample, and later to take back a bin and a Winchester. (Why are they called Winchesters?)

            After lunch John and I went onto the roof, then I went into school to see Mr. Balance. The Science Department is holding a conversazione this weekend and not much school work was being done.




            Julia took the exam for K.E.H.S. this morning, so we went together [on the 1A ’bus] and I got into work at 9.10am.

            I spent the morning working out results for the last two patients. The Children’s Hospital patient showed a recovery of 104.5% in the urine, though so far as I can see, my counting and calculations were all correct. I made some rather lengthy calculations to find the Standard Deviation but this didn’t help much.






            I went to work with Julia this morning [the second day of her exams].

            During the morning I finished typing out all my results and made seven graphs. I spent most of the lunch-hour reading The Kon-Tiki Expedition – it is a most exhilarating book; I don’t know why I have never read it before. It makes me realise how my tastes have changed. Two or three years ago, this book, and others such as Exploration Fawcett, would not have been half as interesting.

            During the afternoon I did some washing up and helped Rory unpack a recording ammeter which arrived, and to move the epidiascope in the small Anatomy Lecture Theatre to the Physiology Lecture Theatre. I met Chris Martin at Priory Road – we walked [back from Bristol Road] to the Church [Edgbaston Old Church] to get the 1A ’bus.




            Nothing happened at work today. It has been the warmest day of the year so far [the temperature reached 59 degrees].




            At Club tonight we had an open night when members of the congregation were invited along to see Mr. Dibben’s colour films shot in India. They were very interesting and technically very good.

            Helen decided to stay for a few minutes and finally didn’t go to choir [practice] at all. Everything was over by 9.0pm but I started some community hymn-singing which continued for half-an-hour.




            Dr. Pae left us this morning and spent most of the time taking photographs. I did some typing and the only job I had to do was to count two stock solutions.

            This afternoon I heard the 6th round Cup match between Leyton Orient and Port Vale. Result 0-1. Other results were:–

                        Leicester City (0) 1, Preston North End (0) 1

                        Sheffield Wednesday (0) 1, Bolton Wanderers (0)1

                        West Bromwich Albion (1) 3, Tottenham Hotspur (0) 0.

            I took Helen to the Piccadilly tonight to see Androcles and the Lion (U). On the whole, Shaw’s satire came over very well and the last half-an-hour or so was really hilarious. The supporting film Paul Temple’s Triumph was also very good. It starred John Bentley and Dinah Sheridan.

            There has been another air disaster, a B.O.A.C. Constellation aircraft has crashed at Kalang Airport in Singapore with the loss of 35 passengers and crew.




            Mr. Dibben preached at both today’s services. The text this morning was “Blessed are the poor” (Matthew 5:3), and tonight “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

            I felt as upset as usual when Helen had to walk out at five to seven [to return to Dudley Road Hospital], and I didn’t stay for the Y.P.F. meeting. For a change, I watched What’s My Line? I remember Frankie Howerd’s appearance as a celebrity in this programme, last year I think, and he was uproariously funny, but tonight, as a member of the panel, he was pitifully out of his depth.




            I went on the S.B. this morning. Normally a tedious day, today I got a much-needed inspiration for my pantomime and I got quite a lot of work done on it.

            I ’phoned up Mr. [Leonard A.] Broomfield of the World Peace Committee and had an hour’s talk with him at his Bournville home this evening; I came out of College at 7.15pm.




George Weldon


            A funny sort of day today. I had a letter from the S.T.A. saying my application for membership would be considered by the Investigation Committee. Sounds like Senator McCarthy!

            I also heard from Mr. E.F. Taylor of the Birmingham Mail’s Youth Page. I have written a column about the club for Youth Page and Mr. Taylor has accepted my invitation to visit us. He will come along, together with a photographer, either this Friday or next.

            Instead of coming home for dinner I raced into town, had a passport photo taken at Jerome’s, then went to a C.B.S.O. lunch-hour concert [at the Town Hall]. I went in the lower gallery – it was 1/-d anywhere in the hall. George Weldon was guest conductor. The programme was Cockaigne Overture (Elgar), Two Elegiac Melodies for Strings (Grieg), Danse Macabre and William Tell music.




            Yesterday’s concert was most enjoyable and it was pleasing to see an extremely good attendance – upper and lower galleries were packed.

            At College I did drawings of mammalian skin.

            I went to bed at 9.30pm and felt tired when I got up this morning. Throughout the day I had samples to count, and went into the Hospital twice this afternoon – in a borrowed coat [as mine was dirty and there are still no clean ones]. I managed to type some more of my pantomime.

            Tonight I went along to Church to inform Mr. Thomas about Friday. I stopped for two hours and saw the Youth Festival Folk Dancing. I only intended to stay for ten minutes.




            To bed at 10.15 last night and I’m more tired than ever now! I’ve been busy every minute of the day at work. The clean coats arrived – the first since March 1st.

            All morning and half the afternoon I was counting or working out results, and washing up the specimen bottles and some of the bench apparatus that hasn’t been touched since I started. I didn’t get very much of this latter done but every now and again I push the things along a bit more. It doesn’t get the washing up done, but the psychological effect of seeing a little more clear space is astounding.




            A letter from Mr. Taylor of “Youth Page” this morning informed me that he would not be visiting the club tonight as he had five other engagements and couldn’t get a photographer anyway. He is coming instead on the 26th.

            This means that Helen and I won’t be able to see Love From Judy, so we will have to see Norman Wisdom in April instead. As things turned out it was just as well that Mr. Taylor couldn’t come – everything was disorganised because of the Youth Festival activities that were going on – bugling and public reading included.




An American in Paris


            This morning I went into the hospital and [later in the lab] did some counting. I had to leave one sample until Monday. Nothing much happened this afternoon.

            This evening Helen and I spent a most enjoyable evening at the Town Hall. We had seats P1 and 2 on the Reserved Floor. The programme was:–

            La Boutique Fantasque – Rossini-Resphigi

            Invitation to the Dance – Weber-Weingartner

            The Sleeping Princess – Tchaikovsky

            An American in Paris – Gershwin

            Dances from Henry VIII – German

            The Swan – Saint-Saens

            Coppelia Ballet Suite – Delibes

            Polovtsian Dances (Prince Igor) – Borodin

            George Weldon was guest conductor and the house was packed. It would be difficult to pick out the best of eight selections perfectly executed, but for me the highlight was George Gershwin’s An American in Paris – its first Birmingham performance. It is a delightful work.




            At Y.P.F. tonight Rev. Arnold B. Jones talked about his favourite hymns.




            I felt off-colour last night and today I have a heavy cold. Clarice and Julia had it ten days ago, Mam last week, and now it’s my turn.

            At work I have so much to do that I hardly know where to start. There is counting to do, two sets of results to calculate and type, a special series of results, graphs and statistical calculations to be typed for a visit to the lab by some Chemical Societies tomorrow, five or six graphs, and, of course, all of Rory’s jobs.

            At 6.0pm I got to the Hippodrome to buy tickets for The Norman Wisdom Show on April 12th. There was a terrific queue and the attendants would not let anyone else join it as the Box Office closed at 8.0pm. I and a few others protested, but stood our ground and I got the tickets I wanted. When I came away there was a queue several hundred strong behind me. It must have been the most phenomenal rush for theatre tickets for years [probably since Danny Kaye’s visit].

            I did not want to go into Mr. Hindle’s class two hours late, so I spent the rest of the evening at the Old Edwardians Club in New Street




        [No entry]




The Pattern in Nature


            I was determined today that I would get most of my typing done even if it sent me daft. At 6.15pm I decided it was sending me daft so I came home.

            At 7.30pm I listened to The Pattern in Nature – 2 – Box Hill in Surrey, and the programme revived pleasant memories of my stay at Juniper Hall last Easter. Geoffrey Hutchings and John Sankey were two of the speakers. The others were Frank Jane, Professor of Botany at London University; George Bodley Ryle, Conservator of the Forestry Commission; and Eric Ennion who is introducing the series.




            I am often on the same [1A] ’bus as Phillip Mead in the morning. Today Michael Daw also sat with Phillip and me.

            The new Recorder newspaper has ceased publication after only five months.




            At College this morning Miss Richardson taught us the ear and the organs of taste and smell, then the endocrine system. For practical we had an ox eye each, and we also drew slides of the eye.

            At work I had an interesting discussion on religion with Les. I came back home at 5.0 and caught Helen’s ’bus. I knew Helen was on the ’bus even before I went upstairs because thee girls getting off [at Bristol Road] gave me funny looks. I was amazed when Helen told me only two of her friends had got off. The third one sounds an interesting possibility.

            Mr. Taylor turned up at Club at 8.15 and stayed for half an hour, and I think I’ve given him an interesting article. The photographer came later and took photos of a sing-song round the piano [jpg], the discussion group (I got Mr. Dibben in) and a draughts game. I led the prayers.




            This morning I took my Saturday off, got up at 10.30 and later went down to [Fox Hollies] park to get some snails for the aquarium. We took Ginger and Dinah.

            I listened to the Grand National this afternoon. Royal Tan (Bryan Marshall) won at 8-1, Tudor Line (G. Slack) 10-1 was second by a neck, Irish Lizard (M. Scudamore) 15-2 was third. I picked seven horses of which five finished – the first five! This seems all the more remarkable when one consider that only nine horses completed the course.

            In the [F.A. Cup] semi-finals, West Bromwich Albion beat Port Vale 2-1 at Villa Park after being 0-1 down, and Preston beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-nil.

            I took Helen to the Odeon tonight. We got in a minute before the programme started. The main film was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. This was very similar to How to Marry a Millionaire but not quite up to that standard, though it was very good. I still don’t like the misses Russell and Monroe. Jane Russell is colourless and Marilyn Monroe slobbers too much when she articulates. Nevertheless the musical numbers were very well put over, in particular “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” sung by M.M. Altogether then, a very enjoyable and relaxing film, providing a contrast to the tension of Seven Days to Noon (A) which I had seen before, at the Olton on 27th January 1951. It is a very gripping film and was well worth seeing again.




            First Clarice and Julia got a cold, then Mam and I caught it; now Dad is in bed with bronchitis. The doctor came in yesterday and I had to ’phone him [from the telephone box] again at 10.30 this morning.

            At Church the morning preacher was Rev. W.S. Terry on God’s being everywhere. Mr. Dibben took tonight’s service and gave us a fine sermon.

            I am always upset when Helen has to go out at five to seven, but I could have cried tonight. I am not quite sure why this should be.




            Today has been terribly depressing and I have felt more miserable than I have done for ages. I think it is because I am missing Helen more and more each week. I wrote to her during the day, and she will get the letter first thing tomorrow morning.






            I have two patients again this week. But even having plenty of work to do doesn’t seem to lift me above the straits of melancholia in which I find myself.




            Nothing much happened at work today. I had to go to a play rehearsal this evening at 7.30pm. Actually we did no rehearsing at all, but had a rather length argument as to whether and when we should attempt to put on the play. It was finally decided to put it on on May 22nd with a concert. It is quite obvious that the play can never be put on in so short a time, and that a decently rehearsed concert is equally ridiculous.




            There was a letter for me from Helen this morning which cheered me up rather. She said she was down in the dumps until it arrived, and that Sister Sparks is a beast, making the P.N.S. nurses work long hours every day. Eight of them, including Helen, were going to cookery last night and a lecture on nutrition tonight. She didn’t miss the ’bus on Sunday night, but Alma and Patricia did. She says that if we decide to go to Jamaica, could we go there via the East and return via the West? (or vice versa).




            Never in my whole life have I felt so mentally and physically exhausted and so utterly depressed. We had an exam at College this morning but I cannot recall much about the morning at all, except that I had not the energy even to write. I’ve felt in a trance all day and was glad to tramp about in the pouring rain before returning to work.

            Something made me get off the ’bus a couple of stops later than usual [beyond Edgbaston Park Road], so I went up the private path through the University grounds and saw the unusual spectacle of a chimney stack being felled.




Banned words


            As the canteen has closed until the 26th, we now have our own tea groups. I have tea with Bill Dunn. This morning I spent over an hour waiting for the milkman, but as he was very late we got some milk from someone else.

            For the first time this week I felt happy when Helen and I went to see The Moon is Blue (X) at the Bristol [cinema], really happy when I held her close to me. I think Maybe Helen felt that too, or perhaps her heart always beats 98 a minute.

            Excellent though the play was, the film was even better. It starred William Holden, Maggie McNamara and David Niven, and has got an X certificate because it contains the words “virgin” and “mistress”. The supporting film The Dark Stairway was a half-hour crime film narrated by Edgar Lustgarten, not very good.




Late night


            Helen and I eventually got home at twenty-five minutes to midnight. It was the first time she had got home so late. Helen also went down Bromsgrove Street for the first time, and saw her first X film. Perhaps it was also the first time her heart beat 98 times a minute [as I observed last night].

            The preachers today were Mr. Brice at 11.0am and Mr. Dibben tonight.




            I promised Helen that I would not get so depressed this week and I was much happier today than this time last week. During the day I wrote to Helen [telling her that when she left the service last night I was so upset that I nearly followed her, and lamenting that it will be 120 hours 35 minutes until we meet on Friday night].

            The Geiger-counter started behaving most stupidly every time I operated them. It seems we spent most of the day replacing valves and putting in a new bulb now and again. As soon as Dr. Pover got the counter working I would do a count and it would break down again.




            As I seem to have mislaid my library book. I called at Westley Road Bus Depot on my way home today, thinking I may have left it on the 1A ’bus. However it wasn’t in the Lost Property Department, nor had it been handed in at the Library; I rather think it has been taken from my saddle-bag, not the first time it has happened.




            I have a patient again this week and my main occupation has been counting samples.

            [Pencilled note: times of exams?] 1130 > 1530. F 1230 1415




            The morning post brought me a letter from Helen. She says:–


            “I do not understand your sentence about congratulating Alma and Patricia for catching the bus, Sunday night How do you know that they caught the bus and that I did not? …

            I expect you will be surprised to hear that I am being naughty. I am writing this letter (on duty) while Sister is trying to tell us what to do with our books over the holiday.

            Last night I did go to Stratford Memorial Theatre to see “Othello”. Six of us out of the P.N.S. went, including Alma and Patricia. It was very good and I enjoyed it but I should much prefer to go with you .

P.S. You did not miss the post and I also still love you.”


            Her letter really cheered me up.




Youth Page


            I am now a Student Member of the Scientific Technologists Association, John Winrow is also.

            Dad’s pneumonia is much better but his stay in bed has brought on a recurrence of his sciatica and he had to go by ambulance to the Orthopaedic Hospital.

            I was much too late to go to College so I had a morning in the open air and walked to town. It was a beautiful, warm day and the walk did me more good than sitting in [Room] 516 at College. I went to the Evening Despatch offices and various book-shops, and waited for the 1 o’clock Birmingham Mail to appear. “Youth Page” contained the write-up from my article on the Club. The article [jpg] occupied the greater part of the page and is headed “Club with its ‘Helping Hand’ team for action” – Mr. Taylor has made our Youth Witness Team the focal point of our activities.

            It was interesting to read that I said we were lending a helping hand to other churches who are not happily off for membership, because I didn’t even if we are! But Mr. Brian Williams [did tell]Youth Page “we have the largest membership of any church in the circuit with 2,000 members” and was completely up the creek. 2,000 is of course the circuit membership; our church’s is 282. Perhaps the seven-fold exaggeration may get us a few more people in the congregation – they might turn up especially to see whether that 2,000 really is true. If they come once, they should want to come again!

            It is a good article though, and there are three photographs. The top one is of an informal discussion group where I am talking, with Helen on the extreme left of the picture next to me, and Mr. Dibben (spelt Dibbend in the caption) on the extreme right. The middle picture shows us all grouped around the piano, and the bottom one is of a draughts game.

            I spent the afternoon in the lab counting. I had a meeting with Mr. Dibben this evening at 7.15pm. He is helping me with my “sermon” for the 25th.

            There has been yet another Comet crash, the fourth, again in the Mediterranean. Wreckage and several bodies have been found off Paolo, Italy. All Comets have been grounded pending investigations.


* The first two Comets, G-ALVG and G-ALZK, were prototypes (construction numbers 06001 and 06002). They made their first test flights on 27th July 1949 and 27th July 1950 respectively and were eventually broken up in December 1953 and March 1957.

* The first B.O.A.C Comet to crash, off Rome on 26th October 1952, was G-ALYZ, the 12th in the series (06012), and had been delivered to B.O.A.C. less than a month previously, on 30th September 1952.

* The second B.O.A.C. to crash, off Calcutta on 2nd May 1953, was G-ALYV, the eighth in the series (06008), and had been in service since April 1952, a little over a year.

* The third to crash, off Elba, was G-AYLP, the third in the series (06003), it made its first flight on 9th January 1951 and flew the world’s very first turbojet service on 2nd May 1952.

* The fourth B.O.A.C. Comet to crash (yesterday, 8th April 1954) was G-ALYY (06011), the 11th to be produced (06011), and entered service in 1952. As a result of these disasters, the Comet 1 was withdrawn from service.

* G-ALYR (06004) was used for a water tank test at R.A.E. in July 1955.

* G-AYLS (06005), delivered to B.O.A.C. on 4th February 1952, was used for jet buffet tests at R.A.E. in 1955.

* G-ALYT (06006), having made its first flight on 16th February 1952, became the prototype of Series 2X.

* G-ALYW (06009) and G-ALYX (060010) were scrapped at R.A.E. in 1955.

* G-ANAV (formerly G-ALZA, 06013), Series 1A, was also scrapped at R.A.E.

* CF-CUN (06014), Series 1A, was written off on delivery to Canadian Pacific Air Lines at Karachi, 3rd March 1953. (Note that this was before the second B.O.A.C. crash – I have no details of the circumstances.)

* F-BGSA (06015) and F-BGSB (06016), Series 1A, both with U.A.T., were also withdrawn from service as a result of this latest disaster, 8th April 1954 .




            Dr. Pover was not at work this morning. I typed the results of the week’s experiment and completed the graphs. I came home through town and straight after dinner went out with Mam to buy me a pair of shoes. During two and a half hours I must have tried on forty pairs – we eventually got a pair at Freeman, Hardy & Willis – the first shop we went to.

            Helen and I went to the Rialto tonight to see The Love Lottery (U) with David Niven, Peggy Cummins, Herbert Lom and Anne Vernon. The other film was Royal New Zealand Johnny (U). They were both were very good.

            We put the clocks forward tonight




            Rev. E. Bryan Harvey conducted the service at church this morning. I only just got in on time. I rolled over in bed, looked at my watch and found it was thirteen minutes to eleven.

            After church I distributed envelopes to all the houses in Hove Road and Norland Road for the National Children’s Home. I expect I shall collect them later this week.

            The Youth Team met at 4.0pm in the church for a voice test. Mr. Dibben thought I sounded mournful. Actually I was very happy because Helen will be home for a month, and would not have to go out half-way through the evening service.

            Tonight the choir sang Eric H. Thiman’s The Last Supper, so there wasn’t a sermon. The singing wasn’t bad though sometimes it lacked balance. Apart from a couple of bad entries and poor endings to words, the only particularly noticeable fault was an Amen by the tenors – the screech still rings in my ears! The soloists were Ann Pardoe and Alistair Sutherland.

            At Y.P.F. afterwards we had a talk on Malaya by Mr. John Sweetman. It was interesting to hear his experiences, but rather irksome at times because Mr. Sweetman’s official position made him unable to speak freely on some aspects of life in that country. But the idea of everyone’s dipping into a large soup-bowl with 8 foot long chopsticks and feeding the chap on the other side of the table was nauseating. Helen and I don’t expect to visit Malaya in a hurry!




Norman Wisdom


            Tonight I took Helen to the Hippodrome to see Norman Wisdom. Mam and Dad also had tickets for the same performance – there was a party from the B.S.A. We had seats G22 and 24 in the Imperial Fauteuils.

            Norman Wisdom appeared in four or five sketches, helped by Jerry Desmonde, and while he scored a great personal success, his material in general was rather poor.




            Nothing happened at work today. We are still continuing with our tea-club in Bill Dunn’s place, and it is very pleasant indeed.

            At Church there is a series of Holy Week services at 7.30pm entitled “The People Stood Beholding”. Last night Mr. Dibben spoke on “The Man”, tonight on “The Prophet”.




          Mr. Dibben spoke on “The Priest” at tonight’s service.




            Today we finished work for the Easter holidays. Most of the day I spent on the CV register. It is a hopeless task because no additions or corrections have been recorded in it, and the amendments to be made date back to 1946. As soon as I put in a new page I find it out of date within five minutes. I’ll get the register completed when I have a spare month or two.

            Just how much profit is being made from our tea-club we don’t know but Bill Dunn is reputed to be buying a TV set.

            I went to the Holy Week service as usual. Mr. Dibben spoke on “The King”.


FRIDAY 16th APRIL (Good Friday)


            Helen and I went together to the service this morning and afterwards we went for a walk all round the village via Fox Hollies and Shirley Road. The day was fine [9.8 hours of sunshine] and dry, as it has been for the last three weeks. [unfinished]




            Dad and I repaired my bike today. We put on a new front tyre, back brake blocks and chain. But it still weighs half a ton.

            I took Helen to the Rialto this evening to see Frankie Howerd’s first film The Runaway Bus. Following so soon upon Trouble in Store it was bound to invite comparison with the Norman Wisdom film, but I thought it a very good effort and we both enjoyed it. Frankie Howerd is a B.O.A.C. coach driver who loses himself and a ’busload of passengers in the fog. Margaret Rutherford and Petula Clark also starred. The supporting film was Border River with Joel McCrea and Yvonne de Carlo.




            At Church this morning Rev. A.R. Spooner [from Kingsmead College, Selly Oak] was the preacher, and tonight Mr. Dibben. After the evening service was Holy Communion. I sat with the Walkers.

            At the Young People’s Fellowship Bob Pardoe led us in Easter hymns.


MONDAY 19th APRIL {Easter Monday)                                               


            It has been a lovely day today – just the ideal weather for a Bank Holiday, fine and sunny. [We had 11.8 hours of sunshine.]

            After lunch I cycled to [St. Andrews to see Birmingham City] Blues’ last home match v. Nottingham Forest.

Birmingham City:– Merrick; Green, Allen, Boyd, Smith, Warhurst; Stewart, Kinsey, Trigg, Lane, Govan.

            It was the first match I had seen since 23rd January – over 12 weeks ago, and only the sixth of the whole season. They could only draw 2-2. Lane and Stewart scored.

            Tonight I took Helen to the Gaumont to see Doctor in the House (U). Dennis Vaughan has Richard Gordon’s book and has been reading it aloud at work. It is about medical students training to become doctors, with Dirk Bogarde, Muriel Pavlow, Kenneth More and Kay Kendall (who were in Genevieve), and James Robertson Justice as the surgeon. It was very funny.

            The first film was a documentary, Life in the Arctic (U) with stunning photography. It was an excellent programme.




            We got up rather late this morning and I spent the whole day catching up on an ever-increasing pile of correspondence and completed six letters. These included letters to Stephen Chadwin, David Torvell and Margaret in Canada.

            At 8.0pm Helen and I went for a walk and due to a slight error of calculation on my part we got in at twenty-five to eleven instead of half past nine.




            It’s been rather dismal today not seeing Helen. She had still to complete her sewing and take it to town this afternoon, and she had a friend to tea tonight.




            I went to bed at 10.30pm last night and was still wide awake at 2.30am. I got up, took some aspirins, then spent over half an hour reading a couple of Damon Runyon short stories. It must have been 4.0 before I went to sleep. Helen, what have you done to me?

            At 11.0am I called for Helen and we distributed some National Children’s Homes envelopes in Station Road before going for a walk along the canal to Olton.

            This afternoon I collected the last of my envelopes.




            Back to work again! I have spent some time today in revising my sermon and was able to add one or two new ideas which came to mind as I read an article in this week’s The Listener entitled “The Meaning of Eternal Life” by Canon C.E. Raven.

            Practical classes begin shortly and Dr. Pover has given me a long list of apparatus I have to find and solutions I have to make up. I’m going to be very busy for quite some time.

            Helen is mentioned in today’s Birmingham Weekly Post concerning the Sewing Contest which she is entering again.

            I went to the Church membership class at 7.0pm. We had dancing at Club afterwards.




            This morning I began the enormous task of getting ready all the impedimenta for the classes on Monday week.             During the day I gave some thought to the idea of a magazine programme done by various friends of mine. (There isn’t enough material for a Youth Club broadcast.) Bill Dunn might provide a trio, I could ask Bob and Ann Pardoe to sing, and I’ve already written to Gerald Brindley to se if he can provide some original music.

            I took Helen to the Rialto tonight to see Genevieve (U) and The Lone Hand (U). Genevieve [which I saw on 15th September last year at the Rialto] was even funnier a second time with Helen beside me, we laughed a lot. We also enjoyed the other film, a Western, with Joel McCrea and Barbara Hale. It was about a detective posing as a farmer in order to trap a gang of criminals.




            It may well be that in the future I shall be able to look back upon this evening’s events and recall the first occasion on which I preached.

            Helen came with me to Gospel Lane (rather a fitting name for the church of our [Youth Team’s] first outing) and sat next to me in church.

            Michael Daw led the service, the theme of which was The Way, the Truth, the Life. Rosemary [Powley] and Michael Brown read the lessons, and Margaret Dalgetty, Pat Welch and I were responsible for the [three-part] sermon.

            Rev. J.A. Stratton from Watford, Herts., took both today’s services.

            At Y.P.F. tonight Rev. Cyril Thomas and (our) Mrs. Thomas told us the story of Peer Gynt, acting some of the scenes and playing part of Ibsen’s music.


Margaret Dalgetty married Donald Bryan and wrote A Church’s Story – 130 years of Methodism in Acocks Green (1986); Pat Welch became Vice-President of the Methodist Conference and High Sheriff of Warwickshire; Brian Williams wrote a Diary.




            At work today I made up more solutions, about twenty-five in all, and collected various bits of apparatus together. A lot of last year’s materials were in a couple of cardboard boxes in the stores.

            The canteen has opened again (the “mob” came back today) and is being run slightly differently so that it doesn’t lose £400 this year.

            The Geneva Conference has begun today with 19 nations participating.




            I have been as busy as usual today with plenty to do at work, College this afternoon, and a Youth Team meeting tonight. Our next date is May 16th at Castle Bromwich, followed by June 13th at Lyndon.




The Kraken Wakes


            I am writing today’s notes in bed while listening to a radio play The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.




            This morning I collected the last lot of apparatus and packed some of it (needed for this afternoon) into a box and took this up to Dorothy.

            In the afternoon I fetched some drugs from the dispensary and packed a glass joint which had to be sent off to Cambridge. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing some of my play “The Shilgally Serpent”. Unfortunately I couldn’t type it as Dr. Pover has still got the typewriter – he hasn’t been in the lab for more than a few minutes since Friday morning, and is still engaged in writing a paper.

            When I got off the ’bus tonight, the Club football team and supporters were just off to Stratford. I would like to have gone – I’m missing Helen terribly.




            I went down the village on my bicycle before 8.0 this morning to buy the Birmingham Weekly Post and see whether Helen had won the Sewing Contest. She won the third prize (£3) in Class 1 which I think was very commendable indeed. I must write a column about Helen for the Birmingham News.

            At College Miss Richards taught us the detailed structure of the Animal cell, and meiosis. We also started a rat dissection.

            Not much happened at work. I went to the fourth of Mr. Dibben’s Church membership classes at seven tonight.

            Afterwards I sat in the Church during the Choir Practice as I guessed that Helen would come down to Choir when she got back from Stratford. I had a letter from her this morning written on Wednesday night. She had been to Leamington via all the tiny villages in between, and was going for a walk by the river yesterday collecting primroses, bluebells and cowslips. She has been hearing some very good reports about Doctor In The House.




            Today was my Saturday off and Helen and I walked to Solihull and Shirley at 11.0.

            Helen came round at 3.30pm to watch the Cup Final between West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End.

West Bromwich Albion:– Sanders; Kennedy, Millard; Dudley, Dugdale, Barlow; Griffin, Ryan, Allen, Nicholls, Lee.

Preston North End:– Thompson; Cunningham, Walton; Docherty, Marston, Forbes; Finney, Foster, Wayman, Baxter, Morrison.

            It was a very exciting game. Albion won 3-2, the fifth time they have won the F.A. Cup. Allen 2 (one a penalty) and Griffin scored for Albion, and Morrison and Wayman for Preston

            It was a wet afternoon, the first appreciable rain we have had for four weeks. We watched television tonight. [Check programmes].




Sunday School Anniversary


            The church has been packed today for the three Sunday School Anniversary services. Mr. Dibben took the 11.0am and 6.30pm services, and Rev. W.C. Russell who was minister till about 1948, the 3.0pm service. It was a pleasure to see the church so full – there wasn’t an empty seat in the place at 6.30pm. I read this evening’s lesson – Matthew 18:1-14.

            [Pencilled note] Fellowship at Home. Songs by ? at Y.P.F.




            Nothing but work today! I had 10 minutes for my dinner hour and only thirty minutes off all day. There was a hectic race against the clock to be ready for the class this afternoon – solutions and apparatus and animals all had to be taken up to the Demonstration Theatre. I had ten minutes to eat my sandwiches, then helped Rita to shave one of the rabbits. Phillip Millington and I went up and down in the lift some twenty times with the trolley. The class didn’t finish till 5.15pm and it was a further half an hour before I left for College.

            I stayed for an hour of Photosynthesis then raced to church for the Anniversary service. I was still in the Bull Ring at 7.15pm but the service started a minute or two late and I got in on time. Helen saw me and came in and reminded me of the saying that it is easier to pretend to feel what one doesn’t feel than to conceal what one does feel. Afterwards we walked to the Rialto.




            Tonight we walked along the canal to Solihull. I think we both felt very happy walking hand in hand by the water. The moon made the canal as romantic as the winding Avon – until Solihull gasworks shattered the illusion. But it was soothing [unfinished]




            I went to work on the S.B. this morning. I have two patients from today. But the urine samples from Mr. Comerford were rather interesting because they contained no [radio-] activity. At least, I had thrown away the first two samples before Dr. Pover found that the counter was switched incorrectly, but when the fault was corrected, there was still no activity in the third sample. Perhaps the dose hasn’t been given, or something. Especially “or something.”

            I haven’t seen Helen at all today as she was having tea with Freda. I went to bed at 8.30 after taking the dogs out, intending to do some writing and listen to the radio. But the wireless went dead, and I felt too tired to write, so I went to sleep instead.




            I don’t know why I have felt depressed today. At work there was still no activity in Mr. Comerford’s samples, and then none in the samples from the Children’s Hospital. We found the counter switched to the solid castle, but by then the Comerford urines were down the drain. Fortunately Dennis still had the faeces, so we may still obtain some sort of result, but it was a frustrating day.

             Tonight I called for Helen and we went to the Futurist to see what was described as the most significant religious film, I Beheld His Glory (U), about the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It has been showing since Sunday night, admission only 1/-d in the stalls and no one was allowed in after the film began. It was a beautifully made film, in full colour, and very moving, especially Jesus’ appearances after the Resurrection. At the close there was an opportunity for people to make a decision for Christ.

          [Pencilled note: Went walk?]




            At College this morning Miss Richards taught us Meiosis and Gametogenesis. Miss Richards is the first person to teach me Meiosis so that I can really understand it. We also continued with our rat dissection

            I met Helen as usual this evening after choir practice and we went for a walk to Olton.




            My article about Helen which I wrote for the Birmingham News was sent in rather late and they only printed one paragraph of it in the paper today. Nevertheless Helen seemed quite delighted when I gave her a copy of it on my way home at dinner time. She’s been in the paper on three successive Fridays and twice in two days.

            I didn’t leave work till 12.45 – I was busy all morning counting and arranging about the animals for Monday. I went into the Hospital three times.

            Tonight Helen and I went to the Sheldon to see Quo Vadis, which I saw last November – the last occasion on which I went to the cinema alone. Funny, but last November I wouldn’t have dreamt of kissing in the cinema, and probably Helen didn’t at all until tonight even though we weren’t on the back row!

            The War ended ten years ago today (but it was a Tuesday then) and to celebrate, margarine, butter, cheese and cooking fat have come off the ration;.




Billy Graham at St. Martin’s


            While we were at the cinema last night David Torvell called with a couple of tickets for the B.I.F. [British Industries Fair] service relay [from St. Martin’s in the Bull Ring] to the Odeon cinema. Helen wasn’t keen to go as the tickets weren’t for St. Martin’s, so Mam and Dad went instead. I was glad they were able to go; they were especially keen to hear Billy Graham and were full of it when they got back. The service was also relayed to several thousand people in the Rag Market.

            God moves in a mysterious way … When Mam and Dad went to the Mission this afternoon, Mr. Moore asked whether Helen and I would like to go with their coach party to hear Billy Graham at Harringay next Saturday. The odds are that we shall be able to go, Clarice and Julia too, and at under £1 apiece. And, of course, the Queen returns to London after her World Tour, on Saturday. [She and the Duke of Edinburgh have been away since 23rd November.]

            Rev. G.E. Long, M.A., Resident Tutor at Handsworth College, took both today’s services. At Y.P.F. we had a discussion on gambling.


The Form and Order for the Official Service in connection with the British Industries Fair was as follows:–


Ingoing Voluntary: Liturgical Improvisation in C, George Oldroyd

Hymn: Praise to our God, Whose bounteous hand

Approach to Worship

Psalm 46: Deus noster refugium

The First Lesson: Malachi 2:17 – 3:10 read by Canon R.S.O. Stevens, the Bishop’s Industrial Chaplain

Te Deum Laudamus

The Second Lesson: Matthew 20:1-16 read by Mr. C.A.F. Hastilow, O.B.E., President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

The Creed

Prayers: The Lord’s Prayer, For the Queen, For the World’s Peace, For Industry, For Labour, The Grace

Anthem: We wait Thy loving kindness, William McKie


Hymn: Put thou thy trust in God

Sermon: Rev. Billy Graham

Hymn: Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult

Collection for the Holiday and Recreation Fund for Children and Young People

The National Anthem

Closing Prayers and Benediction

Concluding Voluntary: Finale, Symphony No. 5, Widor

Organist: Geoffrey Fletcher




            The most hectic day for a long time! I didn’t get to the College until 7.30pm. It was very sunny and warm [we had 9.7 hours of sunshine and the temperature reached 71 degrees, 64 on Sunday].




            It took over an hour to wash up this morning all the class apparatus used yesterday afternoon. It has been very hot today




            It has been the hottest day of the year so far [74 degrees, 73 yesterday].




            For the first time for some weeks I was able to get some of my own work done today, and I completed my sermon.

            I didn’t cycle to work as I had intended this morning, because from about 7.0am it was obvious a storm was brewing – there were several claps of thunder and some lightning flashes. The storm really broke just as I got into M.S. and it lasted over an hour, during which time the rain bucketed down [0.66 inches in 2½ hours]. The thunder seemed very close in the subterranean passages of the Hospital

            I got home about 6.15 (a change to be early), not long after Mrs. Walker had gone. I spent the evening writing Biology notes, had a bath, and went to bed at 11.15pm.




            Miss Richards was away this morning and Mr. Gardner took the class. We had a 40-minute question on Meiosis. The rest of the time we were supposed to dissect our rats, but Mr. Gardner, who hadn’t dissected a rat since 1932, spent seventy minutes showing us how, which didn’t leave us much time. I learned more in that hour or so than everything put together in my last two years at school.

            There was plenty to do at work but I managed to get away in time to meet Helen on the 1A. I had a very affectionate letter from her this morning which I read several times . She says she knows quite a bit of French and certainly understands what I wrote, but I am not the first to say it to her (so who is the creep?). She felt terribly alone on Monday night and still misses her home life and me. On Wednesday afternoon the nurses went on a visit to the sewage works which was quite interesting, but the man who organised it for them, Mr. Salt, was very superior and talked down to them, even to Sister. She came home briefly but had to return at 8pm and wishes she could have seen me. They have just been warned about the six or seven important exams at the end of this term (I don’t envy her). My calculation was quite startling, she says. Also, Gillian is spelt with a G but jilted is spelt with a j. [I had asked in my letter whether, if Jill dumped her boyfriend he would have been jill-ted?] Helen assures me she doesn’t show my letters to any kind of Cuckoo, and I was right about her having breakfast in bed on Monday! She sends me all her love, and must see me soon – which she did on the ’bus.

            I had a meeting with Mr. Dibben at 7.30pm [the sixth of the Church membership classes} and met Helen after Choir Practice. We went for a short walk down Shirley Road and up Westley Road, then along Fox Hollies Road and back home down Olton Boulevard East. Tomorrow we go to London, D.V.






        We all had a wonderful day in London. I called for Helen just before 7.30am and the four of us got the coach at Digbeth, which we left at 8.30am. We went to London via Stratford-on-Avon, Woodstock, Oxford and [space left]

            At Woodstock we stopped for half an hour and had a look at the Duke of Marlborough’s estate, or rather Blenheim Palace. The last time I stood on the bank looking across the lake must have been in 1946 or 1947 while I was still at Camp Hill [see my entry for 7th September 1947]. Helen liked Woodstock very much and she says she would like to live in the country.

            We drove into London via Northolt, Uxbridge Road and Bayswater Road, and stopped at Marble Arch at 12.30pm. While everyone else went off to a cafeteria in Hyde Park, the four of us ate our sandwiches in Park Lane, then we went a short way down Oxford Street before turning back to meet the rest of the party in Hyde Park. We walked past the Serpentine, then to Admiralty Arch and so to Buckingham Palace via Constitution Hill.

            By now it was after 2.00pm and large crowds had gathered outside the Palace and all along the route from Westminster to see the Queen arrive home again. We took up a position to the right of the Palace gates in front of the Victoria Memorial. We couldn’t see much but were staking our hopes on a balcony appearance.

            At 3.25, the Queen stepped ashore and church bells rang out, and at ten to four the Royal landau led by the Windsor Greys swept into the Palace yard as the Royal Standard was hoisted. Everyone cheered madly, and to a continual cry of “We want the Queen”, the Queen, the Duke [of Edinburgh], Prince Charles and Princess Anne then came out onto the balcony about 20 minutes later. Up to that moment, the only one of us who had really seen anything was Julia who was sitting on my shoulders. Having seen all the Royal Family – earlier we had seen Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret appear on a side balcony – we all set off to return to Hyde Park Corner via the Mall (knee-deep in litter), Oxford Street, and tube train from Piccadilly Circus to Marble Arch by way of Oxford Circus. We bought Mam and Dad a box of chocolates, then we boarded the coach again and set off for Harringay.[space left]

            The car park was packed with coaches from all over the country – we saw a party from Sunderland. We had to wait quite a long time before we could get into Harringay Arena – home of the Harringay Racers. The arena was packed with 18,000 people, and they let more people in than usual. I think the extra people were sitting on the floor. At the front was a raised platform and behind, a massed choir of 4,000.

            The first half an hour was spent in singing hymns and choruses [led by Cliff Barrows], and prayers. We sang at least two from the M.H.B. – It is a thing most wonderful, Blessed Assurance and others we knew from Alexander’s Hymns No. 3.

            I didn’t see Billy Graham appear on the platform. George Beverley Shea sang and then Billy Graham stepped forward, said a few words of prayer and announced his text, 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” His sermon was very simple and unemotional. At the end we bowed our heads in prayer and he invited people to leave their seats and come forward if they wished to receive Christ as Saviour. Literally hundreds began to stream forward as we sang “Just as I am.” It was a wonderfully inspiring service.

            We were all very tired on the way home, but my brain was racing and I got a bad headache. I feel sure that this is what the Lord is calling me to do.




            My headache was better when I got up. Mr. Dibben took the service this morning with the Boys Brigade joining us. I took a Sunday School class this afternoon. Tonight the Youth Team took the service at Castle Bromwich.

            At Y.P.F. we had a gramophone evening and heard a great variety of music. I took along The Preacher and the Bear performed by Phil Harris.




        [No entry]




            Nothing at all happened today. At College I drew leaf sections. There was a new male lecturer helping Mrs. Sharman with our practical work.




            I only had two counts to do this morning. Apart from going into the Hospital I spent all the day until 3.30pm working out results and typing them. Mr. Comerford is leaving the Q.E. on Sunday.

            There was a seminar at 4.0 at Augusts Road. I went in Dr. Pover’s car. It is quite a dangerous undertaking travelling in this way as Dr. Pover never travels at less than 40 mph.

            [pencilled note] Estimation vitamins




        [No entry]




            At College this morning we studied Mendelism and continued our rat dissection. I got 75% in last week’s test and was third.

            I spent over half an hour at school during dinner. Mr. Balance gave me the dates of my Practical exams. The first is the Biology on June 3rd, in thirteen days’ time.




            I didn’t go to work this morning as I have another cold and am very tired. I got up at 11.45am.

            I spent the afternoon indoors until 4.30 when I went down the village on my bicycle.

            Helen and I didn’t go to the cinema tonight. There were no good films outside town and we both wanted an early night, but above all we wanted to listen in to a broadcast [from 6.30 to 7.0 in the Light Programme] of part of Billy Graham’s final meeting at Wembley.

            The choir sang Blessed Assurance, then the congregation sang Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, The readings were Psalm 100 and Ephesians 2:1-10, followed by a prayer. Then George Beverley Shea sang He’s got the whole wide world in His hands, after which Cliff Barrows conducted the Choir in the Hallelujah Chorus. Then Billy Graham spoke for five minutes about the great spiritual hunger throughout the nation, and urged everyone to go to Church tomorrow. The broadcast ended with To God be the glory. It was just like being at Harringay last Saturday, I only wish the whole service could have been broadcast, or better still, televised.

            Afterwards we watched In Town Tonight at and at 8.30pm a [1934] film, Orient Express. After this we went for a walk and I took Helen home.


At least 120,000 passed through the turnstiles for tonight’s meeting at Wembley, and 65,000 attended the meeting at White City this afternoon. In the Royal Box the guests of honour included the Lord Mayor of London the Right Hon. Sir Noel Bowater and Lady Bowater, Viscount Lambton, Lord and Lady Luke, Sir John Weir, Sir Henry and Lady Holland, the Right Hon. L. Hore-Belisha, P.C., and Mrs. Hore-Belisha, eleven M.P.s, Mrs. Geoffrey Fisher and Mrs. Ruth Graham

            With Billy Graham on the platform, in addition to team members, were Dr. Geoffrey Fisher (Archbishop of Canterbury), the Rev. E. Benson Perkins (Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council), the Rev. Dr. Ernest A. Payne (General Secretary of the Baptist Union), the Rev. Francis House (Director of Religious Broadcasting at the B.B.C.), Colonel Bernard Booth (Salvation Army), the Rev. Colin Roberts (former President of the Methodist Conference), the Rev. E.G. Jay (chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury), the Rev. F.P. Copland-Simmons (Moderator-elect of the Free Church Federal Council), Alderman Cyril Black, M.P. and Mr. Horace Holmes, M.P.).

            The final attendance figures for the twelve weeks of meetings were in excess of 2 million.




            At church this morning the service was conducted by Mr. E.J. Halstead. The subject of his sermon was John 14:12. Mr. Dibben preached tonight on “God saw that it was good” – a sermon on scientific progress and Christianity.

            Helen was very naughty and sat behind the pillar again.




Nervous exhaustion


            I did not expect to find myself in bed for a day or two at all, but here I am. Dr. Gough, who came in to see Clarice who has bronchitis, says I am suffering from nervous exhaustion and have been overdoing things, which accounts for my having had six colds in five months. Nothing can be done about my back. As I am still growing the muscles are not hardened, and I shall continue to have fibrositis until I finish growing.

            I wrote to Helen this morning.




            I am so tired that I have slept for nearly eighteen hours, waking only to drink tea and medicine. I didn’t really wake until one o’clock when John Winrow came to see me. I appreciated his coming.

            Another visitor this afternoon was Mrs. Walker. Apparently, when Helen got my letter this morning, she ’phoned her mother and told her the news.




            I have been a bit better today but have had to stay in bed. Helen has been to see me tonight. I had a very loving letter from her this morning. She says she will really have to take me in hand and only let me do so much beside my studies, Also, when I say she looks good and she denies it, she is not having me on. She could not make herself look like an angel when she is not one by any means. She says she read my letter in the privacy of her room as there were too many nurses looking for letters and she had to wait for it. She is glad I didn’t quite die last week. But in any case she had made a promise to see me this week and she hates breaking promises, however small or insignificant they may be. If seeing me for one evening tires me out, then she can’t be much good for me, can she? She wasn’t torturing me purposely, only teasing me. She is not clear whether it was the doctor or I who was treated for shock, but if I am going thinner I have to stop that or she will have something to say in the matter. She thinks we will have to wait much longer than a week, and even then she hopes I am going to make more than two people happy, she and I for instance. Is there a possibility of my leaving her for a year then? If so I am to tell her now so that she can accustom herself to the idea, and she hopes she would still want me even if I went for two years. She tells me to be cheerful and promises to see me tonight at 7pm which she has done, and in a P.S. she says “Stamp collecting! Another interest of yours?”




            I was able to get up in the middle of this afternoon but I was very weak on my feet. During the morning I wrote again to Helen.

            The doctor came at midday and gave me an Insurance note and a private note for work. Dorothy has written to me, asking me to send Mr. Rowe a Doctor’s note which I did this afternoon.




            I got up again this afternoon but wasn’t well enough to go out except to walk round the garden. Helen came to see me at 9.30pm and we sat together in the front room.




            I woke up at 7.30am, went to sleep again, and when I next woke up it was 1.30pm. I thought it was only 10.30 or 11.0am.

            I spent the afternoon revising Physics, then tonight I took Helen to the Bristol cinema to see the 3-D film Kiss Me Kate starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Bobby Van and Keenan Wynn. The film, made by MGM, was excellent. It was adapted from the Broadway musical in which the cast are performing a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel have as tempestuous a marriage off stage as Petruchio and Katherine do on-stage. It was very funny. The songs included “So in Love”, “Always true to you in my fashion”, and “Brush up your Shakespeare”.

            The supporting film was Welcome The Queen. about the Queen’s round-the-world tour.




            I slept right through to 10.30 this morning. For once in a while I don’t think I dreamt of Helen, but I was dreaming of next Thursday’s Practical Biology exam, and a foul mess I was making of it too.

            A student from Handsworth College conducted this morning’s service, Mr. Dibben preached tonight. At 4.0pm there was a Youth Team meeting. Our next mission is to Lyndon on June 13th at 11.0am. Jos Pardoe, Pat Welch and I are again speaking (D.V.) – my subject is Christian Holiness. I might take as my text “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48).




            I went back to work this morning, though I could do with another month or two to get really fit and rested.




            Phil Middleton is ill and I had all the washing up to do by myself this morning.

            There were four of us in the additional Practical class this afternoon. Anne and I learnt section cutting, staining and mounting, but I’m still not good at making sections of the leaf. I hope they don’t set one on Thursday.




A Level Physics


            Physics! [I went to K.E.S. to take the exam.]

            I didn’t do terrible badly in Paper 1 this morning, at any rate I was still writing at 12.30. But I missed the 3 off a[cubed] in the equation 6 pi nav = 4/3 pi a{cubed)g(sigma minus rho).

            I had a hunch that viscosity was on the menu, so I was really rather careless. I could have done 4 or 5 questions from Section 2, but we only had to do two, and four from Section 1.

            Paper 2 was the worst I’ve ever seen and I couldn’t do one question satisfactorily. I purposely omitted e/m, Diode, and Polarisation from my revision. All three turned up.

            The only consolation today was Helen’s letter this morning and seeing her tonight. She missed her ’bus again on Sunday night as she did last week, but this week she won’t be leaving me. She was going on the Women’s Ward, C6, and then hoping to have a proper game of tennis if she was not too tired from overwork. She is thinking of me all the time, and praying for me to have faith and confidence for the exams. Unexpectedly she was having to do the Nurses’ 1st Part Preliminary today. She had just been to tea and as an afterthought she looked in the cubby holes and found she had a letter from Freda which she was going to read after she had posted mine. Helen saw my mother yesterday for a few minutes but then the 31A came, so there wasn’t time to ask how Clarice and Julia were. She was late for Miss Moore even then. Last night Sister told her she was getting naughty because every night Elizabeth has been ready for bed at 10pm and she hasn’t, and she used to be so good! She has heard about me now anyway, the girls purposely were teasing her and when Miss Moore asked what it was about they told her and made her blush. She hopes my back isn’t troubling me and sends me all her love. In a P.S. she says she believes me and I am to forget about holding other girls’ hands etc. as she doesn’t mind (underlined), and then adds (in brackets) that is not strictly true.




            As I was doing an exam this afternoon [Practical Biology, Alternative A, Advanced, 2-5pm] I didn’t have to go to work. It required quite an effort to get up at 10.0am. I felt tired.

            During the morning I checked up on one or two points for the Practical Biology.

            I cycled to school. I think I did satisfactorily in the exam but no more. Question 1 required leaf sectioning to show infection by a parasite. I made a complete mess of this. Qn. 2 required a clear labelled drawing of a dicot.[dicotyledon] stem, 3 was a dissection of the rat to show the heart and principal arteries in this region. Lastly, we had to identify and write brief notes on (but not draw) the leg of a cockroach and a tadpole.




            At College this morning the topic was Evolution, continued from last week’s lecture which I missed. After the lecture we saw lantern slides. Miss Richards had to go at 11.0am so Mrs. Sharman took over. We did no practical work.




            Dr. Pover is away until the middle of next week and in fact there was hardly anyone at work at all this morning. I cycled to work and felt relaxed. It was a glorious morning and I didn’t hurry.

            After lunch I called for Helen and we went for a walk along Warwick Road to Solihull Park, and back along Streetsbrook Road and St. Bernard’s Road.

            Tonight we went to the Odeon to see Nigel Patrick, Elizabeth Sellars, Terence Morgan, Greta Gynt and Jack Warner in Forbidden Cargo (U), about a customs officer tracking down French drug smugglers. It was very good. The other film Ma and Pa Kettle At Home with Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, was quite good. It is the latest (sixth) Kettles film: they are a spin-off from the characters in The Egg and I (1947).


SUNDAY 6th JUNE (Whit Sunday)


            Mr. Thexton and Mr. Dibben conducted the services at Church today. For possibly the first time in my life I have come to realise a little more of what Whitsun really means. Most people appreciate some religious value in Christmas and Easter, but few think of Whitsun as anything more than another Bank Holiday.

            I took over as a Sunday School teacher again this afternoon, taking Beryl Mead’s and Michael Brown’s classes.

            Tonight’s service, led by Mr. Dibben, was followed by the sacrament of Holy Communion. At Y.P.F. we had a Whitsun anthology.




            Someone slipped up with the weather forecast! The fine weather promised on Saturday fizzled out and it has rained today [0.56 inches].




            I had to go to work this morning. Not much holiday for Whitsun now, nor for Helen.

            College is closed all this week but Mr. Rowe let me have the afternoon for study. I hardly dared to ask for the time off. Dr. Sammons didn’t bring me the outstanding samples from the Children’s Hospital till 11.30 so I was rather late getting away. I caught the 1.17 ’bus instead of the 12.17pm.

            I managed to get in several hours Chemistry revision. At ten to seven I went to see Helen and went to the ’bus stop with her. She said she felt naughty again.




            Nothing much happened at work today. During the morning I wrote a letter to Helen. There was a seminar at Augustus Road at 4.0pm by Dr. P.J. Anderson. It was on “The Role of Red-cell cholinesterase in Haemolysis by Surface-active compounds.”

            It was very wet today.[0.4 inches of rain fell and not a ball was bowled in any of the matches due to start today].




            I did something very unusual today – got up at 6.0am. I went out just after 6.30am to wait in a queue at Snow Hill station for the Margate night train tickets. It was hardly worth queuing. There were only four or five people in front of me and not more than a hundred behind me when the booking office opened at 9.0am. Mam arrived at five to nine. I got the tickets and reservations for the 11.30pm train on Friday July 23rd, insurance cards, and a luggage form. It’s not often I spend £13 2s 0d before 9.30am! I withdrew £9 from the Midland Bank yesterday.

            It was very wet and windy again today, and has been all week.

          At work I did a graph for Dr. Sammons.




            There being no College class this morning I had to spend the whole day at work. During the morning I typed my sermon for Sunday. I shall have to get the type-writer repaired as it is jumping spaces all the time and leaving gaps in words.

            I managed to get away at 5.0pm as usual but I had a rush to screw the bottom and sides onto one of the counter units which Dr. Pover asked me to do at 4.45pm. I caught the usual ’bus but Helen was one ’bus late so I didn’t see her until 9.0pm.

            At least, it would have been 9.0 but there was no sign of the choir and I thought Helen must have gone home. After checking that she wasn’t, I eventually found her at twenty to ten.




            Still it rains! Will it ever stop? [We have had 2½ inches this last week which is half-an-inch above the normal June rainfall].

            Nothing very much happened at work. I managed to do some more Chemistry revision.

            Tonight I took Helen to a Town Hall “Music You Love” concert by the C.B.S.O. with George Weldon conducting. Tickets were on sale at the door so we had to queue but we got [3/-d] seats M34 and 35 in the Reserved Upper Gallery. We heard the William Tell Overture by Rossini, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas and the Der Rosenkavalier Suite by Richard Strauss. The highlight of a highly enjoyable concert was Colin Horsley playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor.




            It has poured all day! This morning Helen, Freda and I caught the 10.23am ’bus to Sheldon where the Youth Team was conducting the morning service. Ann Pardoe led, Michael Daw read, Jos Pardoe, Pat Welch and I spoke. The Lyndon steward Mr. J. Moore led the interval prayers and read the notices. It [the service] had more slickness than our previous two.

            Mr. Dibben preached at tonight’s service when John Hewlett, Lionel Hubbard, Ann Beddows, Glenys Morgan, Janet Butler, Donald Birkin, Pat Welch and I were received into Church Membership. We were each presented with a black leather-bound New Testament with gold lettering and gold-edged pages, red ribbon marker and a small certificate stuck inside with our name, date, and Mr. Dibben’s signature.

            It was the last service in the Church for several weeks as it is now to be repaired and redecorated, partly re-carpeted and the lighting improved. The organ needs attention, and the parlour, guild room and minister’s vestry too. It is going to cost £1,650.




            There was the usual class-work to prepare for today. I had hardly a moment to spare but when I could manage to do so I swotted Chemistry, finally completing my revision in bed tonight. With four exams to do in as many days I would not have been able to write to Helen today, so she is writing to me first this week.

             I see from tonight’s Birmingham Mail that we had 0.57 inches of rain on Saturday, making the total for the week 2.50 inches, and a further 0.14 inches up to 9.0am today. We have had 2.98 inches of rain so far this month but yesterday was dry. We have had quite a lot of sunshine today.




            I seem to have got a very long way behind with my Diary but every spare moment lately has been taken up with swotting. I am writing this tomorrow at 2.0pm.

            We did Chemistry [exams] all today.




            Practical Physics B this morning. I did an experiment with a cantilever which required us to find the ratio of the slopes of two graphs of depression of the end of a metre rule against the weights producing the depression. In the first case the weights were hung at the end of the rule, in the second case, 20cm. from the end.

            My second experiment was to find the resistivity of a length of wire given an unknown resistance coil, and a standard 1 ohm resistance. I didn’t finish, but gave a clear indication as to how to get the answer, I hope! The other two experiments involved heating a calorimeter and messing about with pins.

            I had a letter from Helen this morning – she says she loves me ever such a lot and signs herself “Your faithful Screwbob.” We saw each other this afternoon – I didn’t go to work after the exam – and we had tea in Helen’s garden before she had to go at four o’clock. Helen was on the wards at five.




Mullard valves


            I had a letter from the N.S. [National Service] people this morning saying I hadn’t answered a letter they wrote me on May 31st. Yesterday I had a letter from the Ministry of National Insurance saying I hadn’t answered a letter they wrote me on June 1st. I’ve received neither of these letters.

            At work I cleaned the formica bench tops and re-organised Vo. 1 and Vol. 1A of the Mullard Book – the registration of valve types has become so complicated that the various manufacturers are having to devise an entirely new scheme of cataloguing them. Mullards are going by the alphabetical order which is much simpler.

            I cycled down to the Secretary’s Office to collect my N.I. card and wages [£3 4s 3d this week] – I’m not going to work again until Monday if I can help it.




Coal-tar coffee


            I went to College this morning for the last class of this term. Only Kimberley and one other turned up. We spent the time revising and I had a look at the 1944-1948 papers. The refectory coffee tasted of coal-tar this morning. All the canteen staff tried it out. I drank mine. Somehow.

            Practical Chemistry at 2.00pm was pretty easy. The titration was a double indicator one to find the gpl of Na2CO3 in a solution. My mixture Z1 was whitish green, and struck me as being FeSO4 and NaCl, and I had finished by 4.0pm. Hope I did everything right!




A walk in the country


            Today I took my Saturday off. Nothing much happened in the morning. In the afternoon I went down the village and also to watch Helen playing tennis at the club [in Hazelwood Road]. It was a fine, warm day [we had 10.3 hours of sunshine].

            There being nothing on anywhere we went for a walk tonight. This time, Helen took me. We went to Solihull, then via Hampton Lane across country and down some quiet leafy lanes. Helen was absolutely terrified of some cows in a field we went through, especially when one came to have a clear look at us.


It is a pity that the walk is not described in greater detail as the whole area, so close to Birmingham International Airport and the National Exhibition Centre, is now overlaid with concrete. The following notes were made at the time by Helen’s friend Freda Powley, and were perhaps from a walk described in the Birmingham Weekly Post or other newspaper.


WALK FROM HAMPTON LANE TO KNOWLE VIA BARSTON. Wicket gate right hand side of Hampton Lane. Cross several roads through stiles and gates past Berry Hall and Old Berry Hall. Cross another lane, straight on footpath until reach canal banks, turn left and climb up onto road beside bridge.

            Turn right, cross ford at Henwood Mill, straight on to cross road. Straight across, down path beside lodge cottage – follow path past Henwood Hall farm (note stones in wall) round left, past farm, through gate, turn right down to river, cross little bridge.

            Bear right through gate – turn up fields to Eastcote Grange, house on hill. Pass beside house, on to road. Turn right, past front of house. Look for stile on left – over and down field to bottom where one comes to a little lane corner. Turn right down bridle path between hedges. Follow round until [you] come to another lane.

            Straight across, through iron gate and up field past knoll of trees and out on to the road at the top near Barston School, across cross roads, past church down to Isobel’s Pantry.

            Journey back to Knowle. Up hill to church – first turning to left beside farm, down hill to cottage on right and over stile, through gate, across stream on foot-bridge. Bear left through gate, turn right and keep up the hill, keeping on right-hand side of the wood. Over stile and keep on the right, along hedge – through to modern farmhouse, through farm yard and on to road. Down the road to the left and across canal (new) bridge. Road brings one out at Wilson Cross.

            Board ’bus for Acocks Green.




            The Church is now being renovated and today’s services were held upstairs in the hall. Rev. Frank Brice and Rev. Arnold B. Jones were the preachers.

            There was a Youth Team meeting at 4.0. Our next outing is to Water Orton in a fortnight’s time. Freda is hoping to read. It will be a special Children’s Service, with Pat Welch leading. I think Jos Pardoe intends to get up a quartet.

            Helen and I sat together at the back of the hall tonight. It was most painful when she had to go out. We went down the stairs together, then Helen just raced off and I don’t know that either of us spoke a word. I couldn’t bear to watch her go.




            Everything seemed to go wrong today. I got the rabbits mixed up and we had to inject two extra ones. I shall be glad when the practical classes are over. I detest this cruelty to animals and loathe being associated with it.




            I got up at 10.30 this morning feeling rather tired. I swotted till after midnight and several times all but dozed off. I’ve tended to neglect my Biology study lately so as to concentrate on Physics and Chemistry, and the revision’s been a bit hectic.

            I cycled to school for the exam. Cycling helps me by making my blood circulate, and freshens me, and I love the ride through Cannon Hill Park, seeing the trees and flower beds, the ducks and geese, and having the place to myself.




            I worked until nearly two this morning. I’m now just about on top of the Biology revision.

            I cycled to work again this morning. I dusted the shelves and removed a number of bottles, throwing the contents down the sink. I discovered one tiny bottle with the magnificent title Glyceryl B[Beta]-monochloro-monoiodo-stearyl a-y [alpha-gamma]-dipalmitate. Wonder what the formula is!




            At last the exams are over and I feel I can relax again and concentrate on some writing and broadcasting.

            I liked this morning’s Biology paper and I think I did quite well. I was writing furiously for three hours except for five minutes when I had to go out – I drank too much for breakfast! – and could have written a lot more. But I’ve no idea whether I’ve passed Chemistry and Biology, but Physics has had it. I’m just praying I’ve passed in the first two.

            One thing I do know, whether I’ve passed or not, and that is my nerves have been infinitely better than last year. Perhaps it’s because Dr. Gough has been doping me with medicine. But I am more inclined to the view that my steadied nerves is probably just one of the beneficial effects of being in love! And above all, people have prayed for me. I have been praying especially for Laurie Arthur and David Torvell [W.L. Arthur and D.R.A. Torvell in the Medical VI and Science Upper VI respectively].

            It was Midsummer Day, and a beautiful day too [12.1 hours of sunshine and the temperature reaching 71 degrees]. I sat in the garden reading after dinner. [Uncle] Reg is working in the park and brought us some logs. In the evening I finished a B.B.C. script which has been half complete for months and needed less than hour’s work.

            I had a lovely letter from Helen this morning, written in bed (like mine) on Tuesday night and finished yesterday afternoon. On Tuesday she played tennis with Cuckoo against Alma and Matron, but they couldn’t play properly as they were afraid of knocking Matron’s big white cap off!




            This morning I finished typing my “Music from the Movies” script and sent it off. I hope I shall be able to broadcast it but I’m not very hopeful as it is a bit too much like a “plug” for films. I also had a talk with Bill Dunn about his trio for my magazine programme – wish I could think of a name for it! Dennis Vaughan gave me his talk on “Animal Facts and Fallacies” which I might use in the programme.

            Dr. Shaw asked me whether I had come across Neil Tuson at the B.B.C. Apparently they used to present a record programme together on board ship in the war. We had a collection for Dr. Shaw – he gets married next month.

            The whole day I spent in counting three days’ samples. I came home on the ’bus with Helen. It was raining at 9.30pm so instead of going for a walk we sat on the settee. Mam, Dad and Clarice were at the cinema. Julia had gone on a trip to Rhyl with her school.

            I almost forgot to mention that “Day by Day” published my article “Not cricket” [in tonight’s Birmingham Mail]. I sat writing letters until after 12.30am.




            This morning I got to work at 9.40am. Roy was away, David on holiday, and Dr. Pover came in at 10.45. I soon finished the counting and came out at 1.30. Unfortunately my watch was half an hour slow. I did some shopping in town.

            [This afternoon] everyone else went to the B.S.A. Sports. I did some odd jobs ion the house and went shopping. There was no cabbage, and peas are still 1/-d a pound (empty pods mostly) so I bought dried peas instead. I also went down to the tennis where I knew Helen would be playing. I wonder whether anyone has ever told Helen what a pretty pair of legs she has! Much too distracting really, and leg glances ought to be confined to cricket, together with maidens and slips and fine legs and things.

            This evening we went to a “Youth For Christ” Rally at the Town Hall at 7.0pm. We were a bit late getting out but we did just manage to get a couple of seats in the Lower Gallery.




            Rev. Walter Wilson was the preacher this morning and told us about the B36 bomber. Mr. Dibben preached tonight on “The Truth”. At Y.P.F. tonight we had an interesting talk on pictures by Mr. Lockwood.




            I have been as busy as is usual on Mondays today, with the weekend counting to do and the Practical Class to attend to this afternoon. Actually, I spent only ten minutes in the class as I had to make up drugs for the last class to be held on Wednesday. Before dinner I got some paraldehyde from the Dispensary.

            I also completed my letter to Helen – eleven pages. I have now written about 34 letters in 60 days.




            During today I got ready the apparatus for tomorrow’s class, and prepared the drugs. Most of the morning I was washing up and I managed to get quite a number of things ready for Bill Dunn to have back on Thursday.

            If I only had the chance I could make several improvements in the lab, but Dr. Pover likes to think all the good ideas himself. If he thinks a suggestion is good, he turns it down on principle, then thinks of it himself a month later!




Total eclipse in the Shetlands


            It seems I have now been fitted into the I.M.L.T. course and, all being well, I shall be leaving the Medical School to do Pharmacology at the General Hospital under Dr. [Robert] Schneider.

            The last Practical Class was held this afternoon. During the day I typed results and did some graphs, including a big one for Dr. Sammons. I also cleaned the loft, helped Rita shave a rabbit and, of course, with the class.

            There was a total eclipse of the sun around midday, visible in the Shetlands. In Birmingham the eclipse reached a maximum of 78% at 1.34pm. It went noticeably darker but thick cloud prevented anyone’s seeing a thing.




            Helen came home last night and obviously didn’t want me to know but of course I did. Julia saw her with Mrs. Walker and later I saw Mrs. Walker herself.

            I had a letter from Helen this morning. It seems the Cuckoos purloined my last letter and she didn’t get it until Tuesday afternoon. I must say Helen doesn’t seem so awfully certain that I shalln’t spank her as she threatens never to speak to me again if I do! She has had one lecture from me already this week, another at Hospital on Wednesday, and is expecting another from me tomorrow. Especially as she says she is always thinking of me even when she is watching the medical students playing tennis, and saying “hello” to the porters and ambulance men.

            From 9.30 until 12.30 I washed up the class apparatus and packed what we didn’t require for the lab, into a box which I returned to Bill. I nearly committed suicide getting the box off the top of the hot room. The step ladder I was standing on slipped, and I was left hanging in mid-air.

            After dinner several members of the department went to a meeting of the Christian Union in the men’s lounge of the Union. There was a tape recording of a sermon by Billy Graham which he gave at a Cambridge Church for the students there. It lasted forty minutes.

        [Pencilled note] Michael Jacks




            I’ve just been checking up. Since I began a big diary in 1949 I’ve made up to today 2,009 entries, Wednesday’s of last week being the 2,000th, and if I include 1947 and 1948, the total is nearer 2,700 – about half a million words.

            I did quite a lot of washing up: test-tubes mainly.

            Tonight I came home with Helen on the ’bus.




Wimbledon Finals


            The only thing I did at work this morning was to make up a Winchester of IF2. The remainder of the time I completed a letter to Stephen Chadwin and talked to Les.

            I came home through town. In the afternoon I listened to the last day of Wimbledon. “Mo” Maureen Connolly won the Women’s Singles for the third year running by beating Louise Brough 6-2, 7-5, after being 2-5 down in the second set. Other results:–

Men’s Singles:– Jaroslav Drobny beat Ken Rosewall [? Score]

Men’s Doubles:-- R.N. Hartwig and M.G. Rose beat V. Seixas and T. Trabert 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Women’s Doubles:-- Miss L. Brough and Mrs. W. Dupont beat Miss S. Fry and Miss D. Hart (holders) 4-6, 9-7, 6-3.

Mixed Doubles: -- V. Seixas and Miss D. Hart (holders) beat K. Rosewall and Mrs. W. Dupont 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.

            When I took Helen to the Rialto tonight it was the first time we had been to the cinema for a month and only the third time since May 8th. We saw Conflict of Wings in Eastmancolor, the conflict being between some Norfolk villagers and the R.A.F. when the R.A.F. want to use an island bird sanctuary as a low-flying rocket range. This was one of those pleasant, sincere pictures that is tender without being over-sentimental, and thoroughly enjoyable. Any film which can set out some of the beauty of the English countryside, I always like to see, and here, the Norfolk seen was beautifully photographed. I liked the air of authenticity throughout – the set of villagers, the Air Force types, none overplayed. Muriel Pavlow, John Gregson, Kieron Moore and Niall MacGinnis played their parts excellently, and the flying scenes of whining jets were cleverly worked in without their ever becoming tedious. Altogether, an extremely pleasant 90 minutes.

            Geraldine (U), a film I wanted to see because it was a sort of skit on the popular song business, was rather disappointing. John Carroll is a College music teacher who is discovered by Mala Powers and becomes a nationwide hit. The film was only spasmodically funny because it went on too long. I wish we could have seen more of Stan Freburg as a Johnny Ray type.




            This morning the Youth Team led a Children’s Service at Water Orton. Mr. Pardoe took Helen, Freda and me in his car, together with Ann. Helen and I sat together in the front of the car. I had not prepared a sermon except for a line or two of notes, but I had rather a shock when we got to the Church because there were only three or four adults there, and my sermon which was intended for the adults had to be changed into one for the youngsters only. I had no idea what to say until I got into the pulpit. Len Boden led the Service, Freda and Pat Welch read, and Ann, Pat and I spoke respectively on “The Kings who didn’t write, didn’t fight, and didn’t quite.” My “King” was Agrippa who said “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” in Acts 26:28.

            Mr. Dibben took tonight’s service as usual. We each received the June Quarterly Newsletter today. Rev. Arnold B. Jones spoke at Y.P.F. on his favourite hymns and we sang some of them.




            As soon as I got to work today Dorothy came down to say that the Ministry of Health had sent me a Certificate of Identification, and asked me to post it on to the N.S. Deferment Office. Perhaps I shall now get deferment for three years.

            Dr. Pover has got hold of a second cupboard to put over the blackboard, has fitted shelves into it, and now today I have been applying a white undercoat.

            During the day I wrote to Helen as usual, and had written twelve pages when my pen dried up

            Meat rationing finished today, bringing a complete end to rationing after 14 years, and 9 years since the War ended! .




            This morning I had a letter from the National Young Life Campaign which I wanted to know more about.

            At work I put another undercoat on the cupboard; tomorrow I can Permoglaze it.

            The water-still had got so filthy that I just had to clean it this afternoon. It took more than ninety minutes of washing in boiling water, Teepol, concentrated Nitric and Hydrochloric Acids before I managed to remove the algal covering.




            This morning I continued my painting and spent a few hours on the CV Register.

            Pleasant news this morning! The B.B.C. want to put on “Music from the Movies”, but as I am no longer a young artist I have to have an adult audition. I ’phoned the B.B.C. at 10.0am and after a delay due to the line being engaged I fixed up my audition for Friday at 5.45pm.

            Helen was home this afternoon and we went for a walk at 7.0pm. along [Warwick Road,] St. Bernard’s Road and Kineton Green Road.




            The postman calls early these mornings and woke me again at 7.0am. It was a card from the B.B.C. Can I go for my audition next Wednesday at 7.0 instead of tomorrow?

            It took less than half an hour to finish painting the cupboard. I spent the remaining six hours making more additions and amendments to the CV Register. It still requires hours’ more work. I also borrowed a paper punch from Experimental Psychiatry and punched the Mullard Data Sheets removed from Volumes 1 and 3 so that they would fit into an old I.C.I folder.




            [Pencilled notes] Didn’t go to B.B.C. Went walk with Helen




            This morning we fixed the new cupboard over the blackboard and I cleaned the glass front.

            I met Mam in town at 12.30pm so that we could get me a new suit or blazer and flannels. There was one good jacket – brown, which suited me, but no suitable trousers to go with it. The Co-op had double-breasted blazers in the 34” and 38” sizes, but not my 36” size. Eventually we did get the blazer I wanted, the last one in stock, at the Stratford Road branch. It was 4.0pm when we got home.

            I took Helen to see Danny Kaye in Knock On Wood (U) at the Piccadilly tonight. The supporting film was The Case of Diamond Ann (U).




            The preachers today were Mr. Terry in the morning and Mr. Dibben in the evening. There was no service of Holy Communion after the evening service.

            The services do not seem half as enjoyable in the Big Hall. Perhaps it is because it lacks the atmosphere of the Church itself. The redecorations will be completed within the next fortnight.

            As usual, Helen and I sat on the back row, and I went downstairs with her when she had to go back to hospital. I didn’t go to the Y.P.F.’s magazine evening.




            I am not sure what can be done with the lab. We have a new piece of furniture – a chest of drawers that cost only 50/-d when the same thing in metal would have cost £20-£25 – and nowhere to put it. We’ve benches round the wall, a hot room, desk, telephones, an oven, a refrigerator, and no spare space. The drawers will have to go where the filing cabinet is, and the filing cabinet will have to go. It would look very nice in my bedroom if I could drop enough hints. The trouble is, we can hardly reach the new cupboard now.

            I think the solution is to knock a couple of walls down, or alternatively not to bother about the door. We could come in through the French windows after walking across the lawns; only if we negotiate the gas cylinders, we would probably get broken necks getting across the bench. The lab is a stupid one anyway – if you flood the hot room floor to a depth of two or three inches, the water seeps through and drops on people reading in the library below.

            I am extremely curious as to what port of the museum is immediately above the loft. I think I shall have to drill a hole in the ceiling, push a stick through, then pop upstairs to see exactly where I am.

            The fish pond in the gardens between the M.S. and Q.E.H. is rather interesting also. Apart from the water-lilies, it contains two kinds of fish. There are goldfish and another kind which I think are pilchards.

            I went into the Hospital today to get some stamps. I found my way to the Q.E. Post Office at the second attempt. At the first attempt I discovered an underground passage, half of it unlit, ending in a wall and two doors. I didn’t go any further but I found out later that it leads to Nuffield House.

            I had to post my letter to Helen in town as I was late getting away and missed the post.




            I cycled to work this morning as the day promised to be fine.

            Yesterday I put an undercoat – white – on the chest of drawers and applied another coat today after removing the handles and card holders. There were also several other jobs to be done.

            On the way home this evening I borrowed a John Creasey thriller from the library.




B.B.C. pronunciation


            Today has been rather unusual. Of major importance was the fact that I got turned down at my B.B.C. audition. Peggy Bacon says that as I am now an adult I am competing with all the top-line broadcasters, and my voice is not yet of good enough quality. It has a slight “kink” to it and I speak with an accent. Peggy says I ought to go to a Voice Trainer if I am really serious about the B.B.C. and want to be a good broadcaster.

            On the other hand, while I am keen to improve my speech, I do not much like the idea of having to acquire a B.B.C. accent. Rather have a distinctive accent than become a stereotyped B.B.C. type pronouncing “room” as “rum”, “chocolate” as “chocklit”, “nine” as “nane” and so on.

            The B.B.C. want me to keep writing scripts if they are up to the standard of “Music from the Movies”. Someone else will read this script, but I have brought it back with me so that I can make it more impersonal. Otherwise it seems to me that there will be a clash of personalities between the writer and the broadcaster.

            Any work of mine which is accepted will be paid for, and Peggy says I would get full credit in the Radio Times.

            I think I’ll try Radio Luxembourg!

            By this morning’s post came the first proof of my article “My Side of the Mike” for Youth. It was perfectly correct and I sent off the proof to the press, posting the letter in the Hospital at 9.30am.

            I have received from the B.B.C. a programme pass for Orchestral Hour on Friday afternoon. I got this for Mr. Walker but, as I expected, the time was unsuitable. The funny thing was that just before I was about to go round to Walkers’, Mrs. Walker herself called with a note to explain that Helen would not be home today and came home yesterday. Mrs. Walker need not have told me as I knew last night. Somehow.

            It was very dark and raining when I went off to work. After going across to the Hospital to post my letter I did half an hour’s work on the CV Register, then after tea, spent most of the day explaining all my work to Jean who takes over from me on September 1st.

            Of course, when I tried to do some counting, first one scaling unit misbehaved and then the other. However, I did do quite a bit of counting of the background of a Scintillation Counter (with a £45 Photocell) at different discrimination bias voltage. As I hadn’t to be at the B.B.C. till 7.0pm I helped Dr. Pover with this work until 6.30pm, then he gave me a lift in his car, down to Bristol Road.

            During the day I also Permoglazed the chest of drawers.




No summer this year


            This morning it was, raining as usual. I think we all have a psychological inclination to bemoan the weather, and never a year goes by without some month being the dullest, coldest, wettest, foggiest in living memory. Yet the fact is that this year has been worse than I or anyone else can remember. So far this year we have not had more than one or two consecutive days of sunshine and there still seems no evidence of our ever having any summer this year. At the moment, the temperature is some four or five degrees below the seasonal normal, and has been so for the last nine weeks.




            Nothing very much happened at work today. As Mr. Walker was unable to use the ticket for the M.L.O. [Midland Light Orchestra] Concert, John and I arranged with Mr. Rowe to take our lunch hour rather later than usual so that we could go. We omitted to say that it needed to be about an hour longer as well. We came out at 1.0pm.

            Orchestral Hour was broadcast from the studio in the Vestry Hall, Islington Row. We got there by walking from Bristol Street, up Holloway Head and Bath Row. The Concert lasted from 2.0 until 2.40 and consisted of Sir George Dyson’s “At the Tabard Inn” from the Prelude to the Canterbury Pilgrims, Summer Evening by Kodaly, and Beethoven’s Prometheus – the finale to the ballet. Leo Wurmser conducted.

            Apart from the orchestra, and announcer Richard Maddock at his own table, John and I were the only people in the studio. We were perched very comfortably on settees. It was a novel experience seeing the M.L.O. doing a concert in the studio. Shirt sleeves was the order.

            Neither John nor I had heard Kodaly’s Summer Evening before, and at first hearing we both enjoyed it very much. I couldn’t help comparing it with Delius’s Summer Night on the River.

            I met Helen after Choir practice and we went for a walk. I had a lovely letter from her this morning. The trip to the Austin works was cancelled and as she had only two hours off duty she came home on Tuesday instead. She came equal top in the Practical exam with 76% but has got Hygiene, Bacteriology, and Anatomy and Physiology exams next week. Afterwards she has five weeks’ holiday until going on the wards on 1st September. Before then she has to try to finish making two summer dresses. She sends me much love and a kiss.




            I slept until 11.45am this morning – not surprising really as I have been going to bed around 11.30pm since before the exams.

            After dinner I washed up, then spent the afternoon re-writing “Music from the Movies”. It poured with rain again [0.225 inches falling in an hour and a half], but before dinner I had walked round the village with Ginger and Dinah. I wanted to take Helen to the O.E. [Old Edwardians] match at Eastern Road, have tea there, and go to the Bristol. The rain ruled out the cricket, but we did go to the Bristol to see The Mad Magician (X) in 3-D.The other film was Bait (X).




            Rev. Frank Brice conducted this morning’s service, Mr. Dibben tonight’s. Last Sunday evening Mr. Dibben read one of my favourite New Testament passages – Romans 8, and this morning Mr. Brice read another favourite passage from Philippians 4, and took as his text verse 6, “Be careful for nothing.”




            Roy, David and Dr. Pover are away this week and I have the two labs to myself. After giving Mrs. Evans our dirty coats, I fixed some new plastic tubing to the still and set it working, then went to Nuffield House with a parcel left by David. During the rest of the day I prepared some graphs for my own personal use when I leave Radiochemistry, and finished a letter to Helen.

            I was very fortunate to catch the post. I was not much past the University when the postman emptied the box. I gave him the letter just as he drove off – and he didn’t wait to get the letter from a man who fell down in the road trying to catch the post.




            It was 1.30 this morning when I eventually got to bed. I had stayed up to help pack the cabin-trunk and get it ready for the Railwaymen to collect today.

            I had a letter from the Billy Graham Campaign this morning.




            This morning I again cycled to work. During the day I cleaned the formica bench tops. I also completed the amendments to the CV Register at long last, and wrote my Departmental Report.




            At work today I weighed the cats and cleaned the loft and did various jobs around the lab. It looks better now than it has ever done.

            I made the revisions I thought necessary to my “Music from the Movies” script, re-wrote it, and posted it to the B.B.C.

            I had a letter from Helen this morning in response to mine of Monday. She had her Hygiene exam on Tuesday morning, and Bacteriology yesterday. The nurses are having a party tonight until midnight to celebrate finishing the exams.




Night Train to Margate


            This year I have brought my Diary on holiday with me, and I am writing this rather belatedly in the Ralphs’ dining room at 9.00pm on Monday.

            At work [today Friday] I completed all the different jobs I had planned to do, but didn’t do any more stock-taking. My wages this week amounted to £10 10s 0d – it should have been ten bob more as I get a rise each birthday. I came out of work at 4.45pm but it was still about 5.30 when I got home.

            Helen came to tea and afterwards, when it stopped raining, we went for a walk together to Solihull and Shirley. I felt rather miserable and couldn’t find words to say what I felt. I wanted so much to kiss Helen but it would only have made things worse. I had been dreading the moment of saying goodbye.

            I just couldn’t get excited about going away, and I was so wrapped up in my thoughts and feelings that I never noticed we were waiting at the 31A ’bus stop instead of the 44.

            It was better when we got to Moor Street, and for the first of many occasions I thought to myself “Is it really a year since we last did this?” As we queued in the Station Goods Yard, the atmosphere reminded me somehow of a pub. People talking, some occasionally singing, excited people, jolly people, and some tired people. I wanted to go to sleep with Helen in my arms.

            11.30pm and the train pulled out of Moor Street. At twenty to twelve we were racing through Acocks Green and Olton. I wanted Helen to be thinking of me in those few fleeting moments, so that I could feel we were close together, and then I realised what a selfish wish that was, and hoped that she was fast asleep so that she might not feel as miserable and lonely as I was. I fell into an uncomfortable sort of sleep, one in which I liked to imagine for a time that this wasn’t really happening, and that if I opened my eyes I would find Helen there with me. As the night passed on, the thing became a dull ache in my heart. How I love her. Surely this can’t be imagination. If only we could have been together the whole fortnight. God willing, one day we will be together for always …




            [Pencilled notes] Went to station. Waited by Sun Deck. Sat by jetty am and wrote to Helen. Walked round shops. Watched the roller-skating. Helen was going to Hook Norton today.




            I slept until 8.30 this morning when Mrs. Ralph brought me a cup of tea. Before breakfast I made my bed as I used to do last year.

            After breakfast we walked along the sea-front and visited the Pier. I bought The Colditz Story by P.R. Reid, a Pan Book. The weather was very miserable and with rain threatening we went for a cup of tea and I read my book. It began to rain on the way back, and as it was still pouring down after dinner we stayed in and I wrote a letter to Helen. Later in the afternoon I went to the post, walked round the streets and went to see what was on at the Hippodrome.

            Tonight I continued reading my book. Mr. Ralph entertained us with stories of his Naval experiences.




            I was awake at 5.30am and spent an hour out of doors before breakfast. I met the Pennys on my way back. Until about 10.30 the weather was fine enough but then the rain came down in torrents. I had my first swim of the year in the pool with Dad and Clarice and Julia, but didn’t stay in long. We spent the morning sitting under the Sun Deck.

            I also went to the [British] Home Stores and Woolworth’s to buy some stationery. I didn’t get my usual paper but bought some pretty much like it. Later I wrote letters. Tonight I sat in the shelter reading. Later I went to Dreamland to meet Mam and Dad. It was High Tide today at 9.30am and 10.01pm.




            I was hoping for a letter from Helen this morning as she should have got mine yesterday, but there was nothing.

            I walked many miles today, along Marine Terrace to the Clock Tower and the Jetty, and from there to the Lido, Walpole Bay, and Cliftonville, then back along Northdown Road to Dreamland (where Lobby Lud of the News Chronicle was going to be between 2 .0 and 3.0pm), and from there to Westgate front and so back to Grove Gardens. The weather was very miserable but I enjoyed the walk

            I went to a meeting at the Apostolic Church this evening.




            I have had a sore throat today. I had a letter from Helen at dinner time. This afternoon I sat in the shelter and wrote to her, finishing it later on. I also finished my Colditz book. It was very exciting.

            Helen didn’t get my letter until second post on Monday. They came to fetch her on Sunday night. She is having a good time but missing me and her home-life, more so than when she is at the hospital because she simply can’t be unhappy for long amongst fourteen girls. She is very busy helping with all the shop business and was going to cycle to another village with Ruth. On Monday morning she went to Oxford with Mr. Lightfoot and visited the Churchill Hospital, and they went for a run round the Cotswolds in the evening. Helen went to the service on Sunday morning [back in the Church for the first time since 13th June] and there were two christenings [actually three: Martin Loxham Taylor, Kathryn Jane Parkes Richard Allan Spoor]. She couldn’t go in the evening, of course, and doesn’t want to miss next Sunday but doesn’t know if she will be home by then as the Lightfoots (or should it be Lightfeet?) may want her to stay. She keeps being teased about me, and waits for the postman each day. She sends me a big kiss and expects me to be so strong and healthy when I return that she won’t be able, even if she wanted to, to take her hand out of mine.




            My bad throat has become a cold in the head. This morning we walked along the front into Westgate, then back again over the cliff-tops and through the Sunken Gardens. It was cloudy and there was a slight wind.

            After dinner we went down to the beach. Having run out of reading matter I went on a tour of all the bookstalls looking for a book to buy. I eventually decided on The House of the Arrow, the classic detective story by A.E.W. Mason [published by Hodder and Stoughton as a yellow paperback, 2/-d]. I wanted to see the film of this but didn’t. It starred Kenneth Kent, Diana Churchill, Belle Chrystal and Peter Murray Hill. [It was an Associated British Picture Corporation film and was released in April 1940 .]




            The News Chronicle may have its Lobby Lud but the Daily Sketch Guineas Girl who gives away ten guineas in a number of resorts each day is a much better idea. The Guineas Girl was to be in Westbrook this morning so we didn’t go into Margate, at least, Mrs. Penny and I didn’t, and Mrs. Penny got a guinea and was thrilled to bits. The Guineas Girl saw Mrs. P. sitting in the shelter. I was reading my book (finished it) a bit further along the front, and Mam and Dad were walking towards the pool. They came back with Tom, Dorothy and Jennifer [Mam’s cousin, wife and daughter from 136 Mapleton Road, Hall Green] who are also staying here.

            We spent the afternoon on the beach. It didn’t rain. After tea we walked round the shops then sat in the shelter by the Clock Tower. We had chips for supper.




The Guineas Girl


            This has been quite the nicest birthday I’ve ever had. If only Helen were here to have shared it with me. I had cards from Mam and Dad, Clarice and Julia, the Ralphs, Carole, and of course Helen [with a letter inside]. Mam and Dad gave me a £1 towards a tennis racket, Carole gave me a two shilling piece [florin] which in a way meant just as much, and the Ralphs gave me Basildon Bond stationery. Helen has been naughty and says she has something for me but I can’t imagine what it is.

            After breakfast we walked up to Cliftonville as the Daily Sketch Guineas Girl was to be there. About midday we went into the Lido where Ben Willis was playing as usual. He asked if it was anyone’s birthday – there were a couple of wedding anniversaries – then Mam told him it was my birthday and I had to go up onto the stage. So a great mob of a thousand or more people sang “Happy Birthday” while I just stood there. I don’t know what my real feelings were during those few moments, but before I knew what was happening, onto the stage popped the Guineas Girl to present me with a crisp pound note and a shilling piece. She was quite charming but seemed almost as shy as I was. But it was a nice surprise nevertheless. A loud cheer went up when I said I came from Acocks Green in Birmingham; it makes me think that half the Margate population are Brummies. A lot went home today but just as many came in.

            On my way back to dinner I saw Mr. Ralph outside the shop and surprised him with the news. I am the nineteenth person to have got the Daily Sketch from the shop and won a guinea, and the winning shopkeeper gets a prize too.


On Thursday 22nd March 2007 I took out of the bookcase The Colditz Story by P.R. Reid. Inside I found a bookmark made out of a piece of pale blue writing paper, with a drawing of a bird-cage containing two little birds, bell and mirror etc. The artist has added her name, Carole Ann Penney. Carole gave me the bookmark for my birthday in addition to the florin, and I treasure it. The picture is obviously drawn from life – the Ralphs’ budgerigars. If Carole should happen to read this, or someone knows her, I should love to hear from her again.




            After breakfast this morning Mrs. Penny, Mam, Dad and I went to Cliftonville Methodist Church which is in Northdown Road on the corner of [space left] to Cecil Square.

            The church is a lovely one and has a balcony on the South and East sides. We sat in the balcony and there seemed to be no empty seats at all. The choir sat on either side of the aisle. The service was conducted rather differently compared with the services at our church. We sang Hymns 924 Christ whose glory fills the skies, 668 Angel voices ever singing, 473 My heart is resting, O my God. and 588 Awake, awake to love and work. There was also a soloist.

            The preacher was Rev. J. Passmore Braithwaite and his sermon was on Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might.” It was intended for those of us on holidays. Now was the time for us to leave behind all the worries of the daily routine. We should live for the day and not worry. It was a most enjoyable service.

            On the way back Mrs. Penny told me how she became a Christian at a meeting held by the Brothers Wood.

            Mr. and Mrs. Penny go down to Box Hill quite often and have offered to put me up any time I would like to go down to London. Helen could go too. Mr. and Mrs. Penny were together on Box Hill when the [Great] War broke out in August 1914 – 40 years ago.

            By dinner time it was very hot, but during the afternoon when we sat on the beach, the sky clouded over. I had a swim in the sea after I had written a letter to Helen.

            In the evening Mam and I looked in a lot of the jewellers shops to find something I can buy for Helen. I thought I might buy nylon stockings but a necklace would be better. When it started to rain we went into Dreamland and sat in the usual shelter. After a few minutes the rain stopped, so I went for a walk to Walpole Bay and saw the illuminations in Cliftonville. Sunday night and the Public Houses full. For some reason or other, singing in a pub always depresses me. Tonight I felt terribly lonely without Helen; I walked back along the beach and the deserted Westbrook front.


MONDAY 2nd AUGUST (Bank Holiday)


            When Mrs. Ralph came in with my tea this morning, she brought a copy of the Daily Sketch which Mr. Ralph had inscribed “Brian’s Special Edition”. As usual, the paper is “not strictly true”, as Helen would put it.

            Bank Holiday! And the papers promised heavy rain. That was not strictly true either as it has been fine all day. I think it’s raining as usual in Birmingham – there was certainly a late start, if a start was made at all, to the second day’s play between Warwickshire and Derbyshire. On Saturday Warwickshire were all out for 106 and Derbyshire made 97 for 7. This is a vital match as the top of the Championship table reads

                                                                                                1st Inns Lead

                                                                                                 in match:

                        Played  Won     Lost     Drawn  Tied     NoDec Lost     Drawn  Points

Yorkshire         21        10        2          6          1          2          0          3 *       142

Derbyshire        19        9          4          6          0          0          3          3          132

Warwickshire   21        9          4          7          0          1          1          4          128


[The points awarded are 12 for a win, 6 for a tie, 4 for a match in which there is no decision, 4 for a 1st innings lead in a match lost or drawn. *Yorkshire were awarded 8 points for a first innings lead in a match reduced to one day.]

            During the morning I went to the open-air meeting on the slipway and listened to the preachers. I saw the Guineas Girl again. Later I walked to the harbour and bought The Frogmen, The Story of the Wartime Underwater Operators by T.J. Waldron and James Gleeson, a Pan Book, illustrated, 2/-d.

            This afternoon I went to the Post Office and sent Helen a slice of my birthday cake [which I forgot to mention Mrs. Ralph made for me]; it cost 5d. to post. Afterwards we all went down to the beach and I went for a swim. Later we had a Neapolitan Ice-Cream. Tonight we have walked to the Lido again and also looked at the shops. I got a necklet for Helen.




            Today has been the best day of our holiday so far, the weather being very warm and generally sunny.

            After breakfast we all went down to the beach and we had a swim in the pool. I took some photographs, including one of Dad diving. I’ve always thought it imagination that the pool should be colder than the sea. Now I know it isn’t. Obviously the sand warms up much more quickly than the concrete and makes the sea warmer.

            We swam in the sea again at 3.30pm when it was nearly high tide. I took the film to be developed and bought a new one.

            Tonight I’ve been to an Open-Air meeting and to the Lido. I met Mam and Dad in Dreamland at 10.0pm.




            We spent the morning walking round. I went for a swim this afternoon. This evening we have been for a walk round the shops, looking at the second-hand shops especially, after which we visited Dreamland before coming back at 9.30pm. I have face-ache which is troubling me.




God, let them ask me to preach


            When we came on holiday I wanted to speak at the Open-Air meetings on the slipway but didn’t feel able to. I prayed that if God wanted me to speak would He please tell me? Tonight at 8.45pm I asked again, this time that one of the preachers would himself ask me, so that I should not have to make the decision in any strength of my own. No sooner was the prayer uttered than a Brother looked at me and asked if I would like to speak, and I did speak for the first time at an Open-Air meeting for a quarter of an hour. Thanks be to God, never a prayer is unanswered.

            This morning I fetched the photographs from Robinson’s and also went for a swim. We walked to Cliftonville again and visited Holy Trinity Church.




            Tonight, our last night in Margate for at least a year I expect, I have again spoken at the Open-Air meeting on the slipway. I was helping Dad pack and fasten the cabin-trunk until 8.30, so it was 8.45 before I got down to the beach, but then Fred the Barber asked me to give a message and I was able to speak for twenty-five minutes through the Holy Spirit. I had no real plan to go on, sometimes I had no idea what my next ten words would be till God put them in my mouth.

            It’s strange but even now I don’t know the names of my three new-found friends. Fred the Barber [Fred Hodgkinson] was saved 7 years ago at the age of 35. He was a Champion Darts player and a heavy drinker. Apparently, someone wrote a letter to the Daily Herald, today I think, about Fred’s charging only 1/-d for a haircut (8d. for invalids, pensioners and the unemployed) and 3d for a shave. What a testimony to God’s Saving Grace!

            Another Brother who carries a banner and whom I was too late to hear speak, comes from Slough. I think he said he is looking for work. The Brother who in the main is responsible for these meetings, whom I met for the first time last Tuesday week, is a Margate man [Cyril Plater] who once upon a time had a bad reputation in these parts. As a Ballroom Dancer he won over 20 cups at Dreamland. He also drank heavily, but was saved thirteen years ago at the Siege of Tobruk.

            God willing, I will be able to come here and meet them again next year, and speak the unsearchable riches of God …

            Our swim yesterday afternoon turned out to be our last. It rained heavily half the morning and afternoon and we would have been unable to get the towels dry in time to pack them. At 8.30 I went for a jog-trot to Westgate and back, then after breakfast we all got together in the garden to take photographs. Then we went shopping and as it was by now raining heavily we had to come back on the ’bus.

            After dinner we stayed in till 3.0pm then walked to the Lido. By now it had stopped raining. We came home through the town, looked at the ruined Holy Trinity Church, went through the Old House in King Street, which was put up between 1600 and 1625 it is thought, though no one knows much of its history, and looked through the usual junk shop. Here I got a book bargain, The Pocket Guide to British Birds by R.S.R. Fitter and R.A. Richardson for 4/-d.

            At tea Mrs. Ralph had made Mam a lovely birthday cake. Mam had a number of cards and some jewellery from us.

            Unknown to me, Mam heard me speak at part of tonight’s meeting. After I had said Goodbye to my friends, Mam, Mrs. Penny and I went to Dreamland, then the eight of us came home together.

            I haven’t heard from Helen since my birthday. I do pray nothing’s wrong. Now it’s past 12.15am [Saturday] and I am lying down to sleep …




Slow train to Birmingham


            And now it’s 9.0pm and we’re back home once again. We had breakfast at 7.45 and in less than half an hour we were all saying Goodbye once again. Once more we were all thinking “Is it really a year since we did this?” On the way to the station we called at the shop and said Goodbye to Mr. Ralph.

            We had reserved seats on the 9.10 train. At least, the seats were reserved until the train came into the station. Hundreds of people rushed for the train and took up the reserved seats. Eventually we got seats in one of the Broadstairs compartments as none of the Railway officials seemed to know where our coach was. The station authorities were at fault in allowing passengers without Seat Regulation tickets to enter the platform before the 9.10 had left. Obviously many on our train had booked for the later train at 9.18.

            One could hardly blame them. We got into Snow Hill at 4.20 – 66 minutes late, and a train from Ramsgate which left before ours, was then 104 minutes overdue. I wonder whether the 9.18 has got in yet! The train lost most time when a Western Region engine took over at Redhill at 11.35am. I imagine we were then not more than fifteen minutes late. There was a further delay just outside the station at Oxford. Even the run from Leamington took 42 minutes. Altogether the journey took 7 hours 10 minutes. Last year the same train took 6 hours 48 minutes, and in 1951 the 9.18 train took 6 hours 39 minutes. British Railways are getting worse. If the trains are unable to run faster, why aren’t the timetables re-written to show the correct time of arrival? So far as I can recall, the only trains I have travelled on which have run exactly as scheduled have been on the Birmingham-London run.

            But any thoughts about how late we were, vanished as we clambered out on Platform One, thankful to God for a safe journey. The sun was shining, though elsewhere on the journey it was raining heavily. How happy it is even to come back to smoky Birmingham after a fortnight’s absence. We were home at 5.15pm. I [had] cancelled the newspapers but they were still all behind the door when we got in. For me, there was a card from John Winrow written from Exeter on July 23rd, a birthday card from David Torvell sent from Weymouth, Dorset, on the 30th and a letter from Mr. Bloomfield postmarked July 25th. There was also a ticket for Orchestral Hour on August 23rd which the B.B.C. sent me two days ago. Now, as usual, I’ve got a large pile of correspondence to catch up on.

            David’s card said:– “God grant that your birthday may be a happy one: happy if it be His will, in worldly Quietness and outward Peace.” Simple thoughts such as these mean so much… It was a happy birthday.

            Almost immediately I went round to see the Walkers. Helen is not returning until tomorrow evening. I stayed in all the evening and at 11.20pm listened to a commentary by [space left] from Vancouver on the “Mile of the Century” in which Roger Bannister, first man to beat the 4-minute mile (3 mins 59.4 secs on May 6th) was meeting John Landy who holds the record (3mins 57.9 seconds on 21st June). It was a terrific race. Landy led, Bannister drew closer, Landy pulled away, then in a brilliant finish Bannister overhauled Landy and won in 3 minutes 58.8 seconds. Landy’s time was 3 minutes 59.6 seconds. [An estimated 100 million people listened to the commentary.]




            When I went to Church this morning it was the first time I had been in the church itself since June 13th when I became a member. I suppose it was June 6th when I last sat in my usual place. What a lot has happened since then, just in nine weeks!

            Mr. Terry led the morning service and gave a very good sermon on Mark 4:40 – “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” Mr. Terry mentioned many of our own fears and I felt there was a special point in it for me.

            It was good to see so many of one’s friends once again. My suntan is apparently quite noticeable, the more so because it’s poured with rain more or less every day here in Birmingham [3.24 inches of rain in two weeks].

            This afternoon I took a Sunday School class. The story was of Lays the sculptor.

            Mr. Dibben preached tonight and straight after the service I went round to the Walkers. Helen still hadn’t returned but I waited in the house for her. She arrived with Mr. and Mrs. Lightfoot and Ruth in the car at about 8.15pm. And then my heart seemed to stand still. My own darling sweetheart back again. I started to love her all over again. The first thing she asked me was whether I had received a letter from her yesterday at Margate, but we left before the post arrived.




            Helen’s letter arrived this morning, redirected from Margate. She wrote it late on Thursday at Hook Norton, and posted it on Friday, expecting I would receive it before we left on Saturday, but of course we had to be at the station very early. She thanks me very much for the letter and the lovely birthday cake which she and Ruth shared on a picnic last Wednesday. She wasn’t able to write earlier as they have had to go delivering. Mr. Lightfoot has given her a small cheque for helping in the shop!

            Helen is also having a day off on September 4th so that she can be a bridesmaid at her cousin Patricia’s wedding at Shottery. She and Poppet are to wear pale blue dresses, Poppet being Ruth’s fiancé’s younger sister. Mrs. Walker ’phoned Matron who readily gave permission for Helen to have that day off. Helen says she and Ruth have been doing some cycling, including a visit to Compton Wynyates.

            It was a very wet and miserable day. I called for Helen tonight and we went to the Futurist to see Beneath the Twelve-Mile Reef (U) which has now been running for four weeks. It was in CinemaScope, with Robert Wagner, Terry Moore and Gilbert Roland. It was very spectacular, set in Florida with amazing underwater photography, but rather contrived.




            I have come to bed this evening at 8.15pm. I’m a bit tired and want to be quiet. Just at this moment I feel I want Helen very much indeed. She is at home sewing tonight. This afternoon we walked several miles to Grange Road, Danford Lane, Widney Lane and through the woods where we saw a Grey Squirrel. I love Helen more than words can ever convey.




            Back to work again after 19 days. Dr. Pover was only in for a short time and won’t be in again this week. David is also away. I spent the morning washing up, and in the afternoon I started a stock-taking of the chemicals. I was thinking of Helen all day long as usual.

            We walked to Solihull tonight, and walked across the fields till it was quite dark. We came back on the ’bus and were home before 10.15. We were both rather serious all night. I told Helen that as soon as I get into a comfortable position in a few years time I would marry her (D.V.) if she loved me. But Helen says she would have to give up nursing then. The pros and cons of being a careers girl! But Helen ought to marry some time, even if it isn’t me. Anyway, I paid £1 5s into the Bank today.




Peter Cheyney


            Most of today I’ve been continuing with the stock-taking of the chemicals. During the dinner hour I finished reading my Peter Cheyney book Dressed to Kill and the biography at the beginning of the book. Peter Cheyney had sampled school, free-lance writing, law, the theatre, while still in his teens. Throughout his life he accumulated a first-hand knowledge of crime and the underworld. He always maintained that fact was stranger than fiction, and his novels were all based on his true-life experience of crime. He only began writing novels in 1936 but until his death in June 1951, he turned out an average of two, sometimes four novels a year.

            George Harvey and Jean came this evening.


The novel Dressed to Kill without the biography “The Fabulous Peter Cheyney” was originally published under the title Night Club. Dressed to Kill was published in London by the Todd Publishing Group (Sole distributors George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.) in March 1952, nine months after Peter Cheyney’s death, hence the addition of the biography. The book was reprinted in April, June and September 1952, and the first cheap edition in March 1954. The attractive dust-wrapper illustrated here [jpg] was of course stripped away, and the entire book rebound in drab hard-wearing covers with the title, author’s name and book index number embossed, as was customary with all the books in Birmingham Public Libraries.




            At work today I completed my stock-taking of thee chemicals and listed the drugs. David was in today. My wages amounted to £4 2s 10d less 5/9d Insurance and 3/- Income Tax. I don’t know where the odd 2/10d. comes in.

            Sam Roe left today.

            During the afternoon I emptied the cupboard in the loft and re-arranged its contents, reprints, papers, books, manuals, valve catalogues and so on.

            I called for Helen at Church at nine o’clock. As she didn’t feel very well we didn’t go for a walk, and it had started to rain anyway. I went to bed at 9.45pm.




Five guineas


            I’ve had a lot of letters lately, but the most interesting came this morning – my B.B.C. contract for “Music from the Movies”. My fee is five guineas – the same as what I should receive if I myself were doing the broadcast. So long as the B.B.C. continues to pay me as well as this I don’t mind if I never broadcast again!

            This morning I went with a S.T.A. outing to visit the Industrial Research laboratories in Brasshouse Passage, off Broad Street. We met outside the Hall of Memory at 9.45am. John [Winrow], Jean, Phil [Phillip Millington] and Mrs. Sandy were among those from Pharmacology

            This afternoon I cycled to the Tennis Club to see Helen play. This evening we walked to Knowle, but it rained, and we came back on the 10.5 [Midland Red 155] bus, arriving at Acocks Green at 10.25pm.




            Rev. E. Bryan Harvey led this morning’s service. His sermon was on the power of God: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:28). Tonight Mr. Dibben spoke on 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” As usual, I could find something of special help to me in both sermons. Too often [unfinished]    




            Last night I wrote a letter to Helen and I put it through her letter box before cycling to work this morning.

            I was very busy all day and had no morning tea-break. There was quite a lot of washing up to do, and in addition there were some amendments and additions to be made to the CV Register. I also discovered a packet containing some old Mullard Data Sheets which needed to be put into the appropriate folder.

            Having completely reorganised the cupboard in the loft, I made a point today of collecting together all the Manuals and folders and fixing them into a folder. The other folders I put into a filing box which Dr. Pover got me from Experimental Psychiatry.

            After dinner I continued this work, then went down to the Animal House to weight the cats. After tea I completed a letter to my new-found friends of the Apostolic Church in Margate and went into the hospital to post it. I came out of work at five past five and was home within half an hour.

            At 6.15pm I called for Helen and we went to the West End to see Ronald Shiner in Up To His Neck. I hadn’t intended to go to a city centre cinema so as not to be late, but not another cinema in Birmingham has a good programme showing this week. In any case, we’re hardly any later when we go to town than when we go to a local cinema, so it makes little difference.

            Up To His Neck was most enjoyable, though it lacked the sparkle of Worm’s Eye View and Reluctant Heroes. In it Ronald Shiner is a sailor in charge of a submarine which is threatened by Chinese pirates. He is helped by a girl spy played by Laya Raki. Harry Fowler, Brian Rix, Gerald Campion, Bryan Forbes and Colin Gordon were some of the sailors. The supporting film Ricochet Romance was also quite amusing.

            The usual kiss that Helen gives me in the cinema was tonight quite the nicest yet. But I do wish Helen wouldn’t ration me so.

            Pat Welch was sitting in the row behind us tonight.




            Compared with yesterday I had relatively little to do. Most of the morning I spent in the animal house. I bathed Blackie’s eye. We had two fatalities. A guinea-pig died, and Scruffy the dog mauled a kitten which got out of its run. The kitten died from shock a few minutes later.

            I ate my lunch in the canteen for the first time instead of in my office. In the afternoon I made a list of the chemicals which appear in my file but not in the cupboards.




            Dennis Vaughan lent me his racquet today and John and I played tennis from 12.30 until 1.45pm. I was very much out of practice and one of my better shots sailed into the air, over the net, out of the court, nearly over the fence, down the embankment, and under a train.

            I started a letter to David Torvell today. We had the wood cut for the drawers.




            As usual it has poured with rain today [0.735 inches]. On my way to work I called in at school to see whether the G.C.E. results had arrived. They hadn’t, so I left a postcard to be posted on to me.

            Before going to work I dropped a letter in at Helen’s house, and at work I went into the Hospital and posted my letter to David.

            I didn’t have a tea-break all day, and less than half an hour for dinner. I intended to get in some more tennis practice but, of course, it was raining.

            Surprise! This afternoon Dr. Pover actually agreed to throw out many of the bottles etc. on the shelves in the centre o the lab, so there was soon plenty of washing up. I also did some counting for Roy. I had spent the morning fitting the runners into the chest of drawers.

            Tonight I wrote a letter  [to whom?]




            The most important news today is that I have passed “A” level Biology and Chemistry. It was a foregone conclusion that I had failed Physics. I had an appointment at the dentist at 9.30am. Mr. Parker says I shall need to have a tooth out on September 6th.

            I was going to wait until tomorrow for my exam results, but on my way to work, Hammond met me on the 1A ’bus, so we went together to school and got the results from Miss Davies. Hammond got three “A”s. In my delight at the results I quite forgot to find whether Laurie Arthur had passed, or whether David had got his scholarship. Yet another prayer is answered.

            It was about 11.0am when I got to work. I gave Bill Dunn nearly two dozen reagent bottles




            I cycled to work today. I wrote an article on Margate Old House and finished another article which I posted in the Q.E. I was home by 12.45pm. After dinner I cycled down the village. Ruth Prentice and Ronald Pendry were married by Mr. Dibben at Church today.

            Helen and I went to the Theatre Royal tonight to see No News From Father. It was rather good, a very clever adaptation from the [space left] and starred Bernard Braden, Eleanor Summerfield and Robin Bailey.

            We had seats X14 and 15 in the P. Stalls.




            Mr. W.B. Ault, B.Sc., led this morning’s service [in place of Mr. F.J. Green]. His sermon was on Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

            I took a Sunday school class this afternoon. The story was of Sir Christopher Wren.

            Tonight Mr. Dibben preached on [unfinished]




            It was dull and overcast today with a spattering of rain and not a glimmer of sunshine. Nothing much happened at work; we thought of playing tennis in the lunch hour.

            Tonight I took Helen to the Robin Hood to see Highway Dragnet (U) and Happy Ever After (U). The first film was a thriller about a man given a lift by a lady photographer and trying to prove his innocence of her murder. It was a good film, full of twists and turns, and starred Joan Bennett, Richard Conte, and Wanda Hendrix.

            The film I specially wanted to see was Happy Ever After (U), a Technicolor comedy starring David Niven, Yvonne de Carlo, A.E. Matthews and George Cole. It was about some Irish villagers wanting to murder their horrid squire, and was very funny. It was an altogether enjoyable evening and we were very romantic.




            I was especially pleased this morning to have a letter from Mr. Cyril Plater of Margate Apostolic Church. He says, “Memory of your witness is still a tonic … we have

since used your witness as a challenge of the true church … extra prayer has made all the difference since your return.” Mr. Plater says a marked impression has been made, people have even been making enquiries, they have really felt the Holy Spirit at work.

            Nothing much happened at work. I played tennis during the lunch hour. Tonight I took Ginger for her walk up Shirley Road and along Stratford Road as far as the Odeon, then down Olton Road to Streetsbrook Road, down St. Bernard’s Road to Warwick Road and back home via Olton Boulevard East.




            I had an interesting letter from David Torvell this morning [unfinished – the letter has since been lost]. I cycled to work. It was cloudy all day and quite cold with the wind blowing from the North.

            [pencil: took David Torvell’s place. Concert]

            At 8.10pm we watched Part 1 of a new six-part serial Crime On Our Hands with Geraldine McEwan, Jack Watling and Sonia Dresdel, followed by Arenascope and Tonight’s The Night from the National Radio Show which opened today at Earls Court. It was introduced by Tommy Trinder and featured Ronald Shiner, Petula Clark, Margaret Rutherford and others, but it was all too contrived and rather boring.     




            The weather was quite fine today and I cycled to work. I had a nasty skid by Cannon Hill Park. I called at the University to take in my National Insurance card. The office has been moved now.

            The typewriter has come back and during the day I started typing a “Going the Rounds” script. I am suggesting a twenty-minutes film programme for Midland Children’s Hour. My script is a ten-minute review of “films coming your way”, and the programme would also include a record of film music, an interview, and Film News.

            At one o’clock I played tennis with John, and in the afternoon I washed up a desiccator, cleaned out the refrigerator, and wrote out orders for Carbon Tetrachloride and a few dozen specimen tubes.




The Sea Around Us


          What a long way behind I’ve got with my Diary. Not an entry since last Sunday [except pencilled notes]

            Summer seems to have come at last. It’s been fine and sunny all day [10.6 hours of sunshine and 8.7 yesterday, today’s temperature reaching 71 degrees] and I cycled to work again. At work I finished “Going the Rounds” and posted it off. I doubt whether my idea will be acceptable.

            More trouble for Michael! The two kittens of the litter seem to have contracted pneumonia overnight, so we gave sub-cutaneous injections of penicillin followed by procaine penicillin at 3 hour intervals, but one kitten was dead by 2.30pm. In the morning I also cleaned the dark room after borrowing a mop and bucket from the kitchen. I also printed two cards for the filing cabinet.

            After dinner I did an experiment to test the solubility of Silicone 200/200 in various organic reagents, and emptied the radio-active waste bins. After tea I did some work on my book. I was home for 6.0pm and in the evening I took Helen to the Piccadilly.

            I particularly wanted to see The Sea Around Us and it proved an excellent film. From its start, when it goes right back to the beginning of time and shows how the earth and the oceans were formed, it never ceases to fascinate. It opens up a new world of strange creatures from the tiniest plankton to the largest whale, a world where the struggle for survival is fought at its bitterest. We see how the oceans play their part in the life of the world, a little of the story of the men who for centuries have gone down to the sea in ships. Here is a film of wonder and mystery, beautifully photographed in Technicolor, and skilfully pieced together to make a first-rate documentary.

            The colour photography was about the best part of Dangerous Mission set in the Glacier National Park in Canada. Piper Laurie plays the girl Vincent Price is trying to bump off because she saw him murder somebody else. Victor Mature is the hero, and there are also a couple of avalanches and a forest fire thrown in for good measure. William Bendix was badly cast as a Ranger. On the whole, not too bad.    




            Today I had my Saturday off. I got up at 8.15am. There were four letters for me today – my Scripture Union notes, S.T.A. Bulletin, and two from the B.B.C. “Music from the Movies” goes on the air on September 20th. There was a 5 guinea cheque. Hooray for money! In the morning I went to the Library and the Bank. Naturally the bank [to pay in the cheque: I have now saved £9 8s 9d]. Apart from writing a letter I spent the rest of the morning on my Diary.

            After dinner Dad and I cycled to Blues’ match v. Rotherham United. The teams were:–

Birmingham City:– Merrick; Green (Capt.), Allen; Boyd, Newman, Warhurst; Astall, Kinsey, Lane, Rowley, Govan.

Rotherham United:– Quairney; Selkirk, Johnson; Marshall, Noble, Williams; Grainger, Henderson, Burke, Guest, Wilson.

            Blues’ new stand was in use for the first time. There was also a new-style programme with a view of the ground on the cover. The secretary referred to it as a catalogue!

            Rotherham were a goal up in 45 seconds. A great gaping hole [in the defence] left Guest with a clear shot at goal and he shot high and wide of Merrick. Blues had more of the first-half play and some of their Hungarian-style passing was very good, but they dallied in front of goal, and the quick-tackling Rotherham defence prevented Blues scoring. Merrick had to make some good saves at the other end.

            Just after the interval Govan scored with a low shot that went under Quairney’s body, and added another four minutes later with a header. Warhurst scored a third goal for Blues and they won 3-1.




            The preacher at both today’s services was Rev. D.S. Hubery whom I remembered especially well from a previous visit to our Church. I liked both his sermons, and particularly this morning’s on Galatians 1:4, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and the Father.” Mr. Hubery said we needed to be delivered from fear and sin.

            Tonight the text was 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “I declare unto you the gospel … by which also ye are saved.” Had we anything to declare? To ourselves? To others? To God?

            I took a Sunday School class (Iris’s, she has ’flu) this afternoon. Two of Helen’s cousins were in the class. I wonder whether there are such things as cousins-in-law?

            We said special prayers at Church for Mrs. Pardoe Snr., who is very seriously ill and is to have an operation. We also prayed specially for the World Council of Churches meeting in Evanston in Canada.

            It was Helen’s last Sunday at Church for some time. How I shall miss her. The thought made me quite unhappy all day until this evening when we could go for a walk together. And then as usual, Helen’s own wonderful way of making me happy when she is with me worked again. We talked about all sorts of little things we would do for each other …

            We got talking about the very first time we spoke to each other. How it took me four weeks to hold her hand, seven weeks to kiss her, and even longer till the next time I kissed her. And, of course, all the time Helen wanted me to kiss her but was much too shy to let me. She is not so shy now and even gave me a goodnight kiss outside her house. [After Church] we walked along St. Bernard’s Road, Streetsbrook Road (where I saw Chris Tickell and Dr. Gough) and Shirley Road.




            Nothing much happened at work today except that I revised the results of an experiment from last February. Here a faecal count for 12.30pm on the first day gave a 12.5% recovery. This must have been due to urine contamination, so I revised the results, re-typed them and drew new graphs.

            I typed several pages of my play “The Shilgally Serpent”. I wish I knew how to end it now.

            I came home at five past six.

            Helen went to the Fittons for tea, so I couldn’t see her on this our last evening until 9.45pm. We had only a few minutes during which we walked down Dolphin Lane [to Warwick Road] and back up Victoria Road. There was such a lot I wanted to say but the words just wouldn’t come. I think Helen knew how I felt but she could only make some trite remark.




            I had three letters today. One from the B.B.C. was to acknowledge receipt of “Going the Rounds” and to say that “Music from the Movies” has been postponed. B.D.H. Ltd. have sent me three very useful booklets, and the third letter was from the Methodist Youth Department – three copies of Youth containing my article “My Side of the Mike”. This has been illustrated with a photo of a B.B.C. studio broadcasting a Billy Bunter scene.

            During the day I made a bottom of two pieces of wood for a filing drawer I am using for my letters. I also wrote to Helen, and made yup two tanks of solutions (ID.19b and a 1.7% solution of Glacial Acetic Acid). This was rather difficult as I had a job getting the right amounts of chemicals. For one solution alone I require 10kgm Sodium Thiosulphate which the stores doesn’t possess, even AnalaR [sic]. That reminds me that Bill Dunn is leaving at the end of this week. Apparently I shalln’t be going to the General Hospital until next week as there would be no work for me to do.

            I spent the whole evening filing my letters and discovered my long-lost long-playing gramophone record needles in the process.




            All day long I was thinking about Helen. She went back [to Dudley Road Hospital yesterday] at 3.0pm. She got up early to catch a train [from Banbury] to Stratford before 8.0am, and thinking about her, I myself was awake before 6.0am. When I went to bed again I kept tossing and turning and wondering whether Helen was sleeping on her first night back.

            The last few days have been very fine and the sun was shining again when I woke this morning. [We had 12.3 hours of sunshine yesterday and the temperature reached 76 degrees; today it has reached 80, making it the hottest day since 12th August last year.]

            Today’s correspondence included a letter from Mr. Lunt and a card from the O.E.F.G. whose postponed Annual General Meeting is being held on the 11th at 6.45pm.

            I cycled to work. Cannon Hill Park looked beautiful with the dew still on the grass and the sun peeping through the leaves. The morning was still cool and fresh, but on this first day of September the leaves are already beginning to fall and the first signs of Autumn are already in evidence.

            Nevertheless today has been the hottest of the year with the temperature up in the 80s [80 maximum in Birmingham]. I spent the lunch hour lying on the lawns by the goldfish pond. One of the girls wanted to throw me in. As it was, I got ice-cream slapped in my face at tea!

            Altogether it’s been a chaotic day at work. First I was going to Augustus Road, then Dr. Pover said he would go. Then this afternoon we were both going but then we had a visitor and we didn’t go after all. Augustus Road has got the Hypo I want for my photographic solutions.

            On top of all that, the General Hospital ’phoned at least twice to find why I hadn’t turned up.    




            I cycled to work again this morning and took my swimming trunks so that I could go for a swim in the school bath. It was fine again but not so hot, and I didn’t go swimming after all.

            At long last the Hypo solution is made up. After much difficulty I eventually got about 84gm from another department opposite the Dental lecture theatre.




            I achieved a minor ambition today because the Birmingham Weekly Post printed an article of mine, “The Old House at Margate” in Peter Hazlitt’s “Notes and Queries”. Now I’ve written, or been written about, in all the Midland newspapers.

            At work I spent the morning discussing religion with Roy, and the afternoon counting the first samples of a new patient. As I had cycled to work I got home for 6.0pm. As Helen was coming home I thought we might go out but she was still not home at 6.30pm. I did see her at 7.30pm and we went a walk for an hour.

            I’ve missed Helen terribly all the week and was disappointed when we couldn’t go out. After worrying about her all the time and having to put up with constant reminders that she is going to be a nurse and a spinster all her life. I was rather frantic tonight and shouted at her when she said she had to be back within an hour. I could see then that I had hurt her and wished, not for the first time in my life, that I could keep my big mouth shut. I was so sorry afterwards. But we did talk about the things that were on my mind, and Helen did say she had not decided never to get married, and she did still want me to take her out.




The call to serve


            Today was really my last day in the Radiochemistry laboratory. At 11.0am Dr. Sammons brought in three urine samples – the rest of the time I worked out the results of yesterday’s work. The patient is a normal one. I may go into work one evening next week and type the results. Dr. Pover says I can use the typewriter any evening I like to. I said Goodbye to Dr. Pover and Roy and came home at 12.45pm.

            Every minute I was thinking of Helen who was bridesmaid to her cousin Pat at Shottery. Pat and Mike got married at Shottery Church at 12.30pm. Helen must have looked so beautiful – I do wish I could have seen her but, of course, the General Hospital would have to complicate everything. However, God willing, perhaps I shall have Helen looking just as beautiful at a very special Wedding just for us.

            I had an unexpected letter this morning from Mr. Dibben saying that the Local Preachers’ Meeting has approved the suggestion that I be given a “Note to Preach” and for a trial period to assist an accredited preacher in taking service. Suddenly I feel wholly unworthy and incapable.

            I spent the afternoon mowing the front lawn – it hadn’t been done since before we went on holiday. Midway through the afternoon two women Jehovah’s Witnesses called at our house. Later, they tried to give me a pamphlet.

            Helen didn’t arrive back until 8.30pm when she came round to tell me she was home again. She did look beautiful. At ten past nine I called for her to take her back to Dudley Road. She was rather upset so I was glad I could be with her. We went on the 1A ’bus to town, then caught the 84 ’bus. Once or twice I thought she would cry but she didn’t. I think that what Helen fears most is the solitude when she has closed the door of her room. I can understand exactly how she feels. I feel it myself even though I’m not actually there. Loneliness must be the most terrible human emotion there is.

            There is something about a hospital at the dead of night. A sense of isolation from the world, a place where time seems different somehow, where for some time has ceased to matter, or for others, has acquired some new sense of urgency, a place where many a battle is fought in the quiet and stillness of the dark hours, where always there is someone on duty, always a light burning. And above all, perhaps, there is a sense of the nearness of God.

            These were some of the thoughts that ran through my mind as I walked back through the hospital grounds after saying Goodbye again. But there was something else though which even now I can’t analyse, a sort of realisation that this was Helen’s way of serving God, and that anything I could do could never approach such service as she is giving.

            I walked all the way back into town, down Spring Hill, the Sand Pits, the Parade, past sleazy back streets, squalid little back-to-back houses, little groups of people huddled on corners, past Public Houses with their depressing atmosphere, and beer swilling the pavements, people singing and drinking in their attempts to escape from life. And as I registered all these impressions I was left with a sense of pity, remorse and revulsion; yet through all these I could feel God’s presence. Above all, I knew more than ever how much I loved Helen and wanted to give her all the best things in life.




            Mr. Brice took this morning’s service. The hymns were 680 Glad was my heart to hear, 6* Jubilate Deo, 845 God make my life a little light, 549 Lord, that I may learn of Thee, and 102 Immortal Love, for ever full, and the readings were Isaiah 15 ? 35] and Titus 2:11-15.

            Mr. Dibben took the service tonight. We sang 689 At even, ere the sun was set (which depresses me because of its mournful tune), 60* Psalm 139:1-12, 342 Come, let us to the Lord our God, 577 O loving Lord, who art for ever seeking, and 945 The night is come, wherein at last we rest. The readings were from Daniel 5:1 [probably verses 1-7] and Matthew 22.

            After the service I stayed for Holy Communion.

            A K.L.M. airliner has crashed in the River Shannon.




            I received a hand-delivered letter from Helen which she started on Saturday night an hour after I left her and continued yesterday when she felt in the mood for thinking about me. Did I find my way out? She was in bed and had already spent several minutes reading her Bible and the S.U. Notes (which she knows will please me). She says that truthfully she is missing me, and felt she could have gone on for ever with her hand on mine on the ’bus, but she must stop herself from being so silly.

            She kept thinking it was Monday tomorrow. I was going to Church wasn’t I? Please would I give Freda her love, not all of it, and tell her she was sorry for not writing but will write soon and one day this week will ring her up. She was going to say her prayers now and go to sleep. Good night. X

            (Sunday.) She must go on duty in a few minutes but wishes me Good morning. She wishes she could see me now. She honestly doesn’t know what to think about nursing – she misses her home life so very much. Helen says that it is now 10.0am roughly and she has got the morning off duty. She expects that when I get this letter she will have seen me first, and can I guess why? It is because she has another day off tomorrow [today, Monday]. She has just rung her mother up and she expects that David will give or have given me her message. She won’t write more as she will see me tonight.




            I sat up writing to Helen until nearly 2.0 this morning [fifteen pages, begun yesterday]

            Today was really my first day at work at the General Hospital. I spent the day cleaning six manometer tubes, but also found time to explore. At the ends of this corridor there are Wards and [not filled in]

            The Dispensary is on the ground floor.




            At work today I finished cleaning the manometer tubes. One of my jobs will be to clean out the animals three times a week, but Alan says my main occupation will be experiments on drug antagonism. This will involve the killing of a guinea-pig for every experiment and I am going to loathe it.




            I had a letter from Helen this morning. She still seems terribly lonely and says she treasures the times we’ve been together. She doesn’t think she will stay at the hospital for three years. I too am incredibly lonely. I wish we could be together for always. Perhaps D.V. one day we will be.

            During my lunch-hour I wrote her a seven-page letter (that’s 33 pages in four days). Nothing much happened at work.

            After tea I cycled to Medical School to complete the results of my last week’s experiment. I re-calculated them (Jean hadn’t been very accurate) and typed them and made three graphs. I also got the Mullard Book up to date and wasn’t home till 10.30pm.

            On the way to Medical School I met Bryan Lewis [L.B.C. Lewis] whom I hadn’t seen for weeks. He was motor-cycling to Stirchley [where he lives at 188 Tessall Lane].




            I had another letter from Helen this morning. We have now exchanged six letters in five days which must be nearly a record. In her letter Helen said she didn’t know whether to go home or got out with me tomorrow. I guessed something like that would happen and more or less remarked so in my letter yesterday. The trouble was I had already sent a note of apology to the O.E.F.C. to say I couldn’t attend their General Meeting tomorrow night, which I would have attended had I not made a date for tomorrow.

            I rang Helen up four times during the day. Twice there was no answer, the third time she was on duty, but at the fourth attempt we managed to talk to each other for half an hour, and did decide that we would go out together tomorrow night as we had originally intended. Helen sounded terribly depressed and said she wasn’t going to stop three years. To cheer her up, I said I would ’phone again at 9.15pm this evening.

            When I did ring again I was told that Helen was at home. And then, instead of going round to her house, I waited instinctively [intuitively] opposite the [31A] ’stop, knowing full well she would be on the next ’bus, though there was no reason why she should be. It is strange how I get these feelings of knowing exactly what Helen is doing, especially when she does the unexpected.

            She had to go back of course at 10pm, so I had supper with the Walkers before taking her back to Dudley Road. We waited half an hour before a 31A ’bus came and Helen was almost frantic with worry, and in tears, but no amount of worrying could help. We got in at 11.10 just as someone was unlocking the door to get in! It was a good thing I could take her back though.




             I started for work later than usual this morning but got there a little bit earlier. When I got in “house” the cleaner had her feet up in my favourite chair and was sitting in the other one. She whistled between her teeth something about my not minding but she always had her lunch there but she would go (she did three quarters of an hour later) but she might come back (she didn’t). What a character!

            I spent the whole afternoon working on my book, “Give Us This Day”. I now have well over half the texts I require, but selecting the hymn verses will present the biggest problem.

            Helen and I went to the Odeon tonight but somehow it wasn’t a very happy evening. We arranged to meet between 6.0pm and 6.10, but when Helen arrived at 6.20pm after being on the wards all day she was tired out. We had to wait in an enormous queue but got in for the start at 7.10pm.

            The first film, The Golden Link (A), a murder mystery with Andre Morell, Thea Gregory and Patrick Holt was rather depressing. The film everyone had queued to see was Living It Up (U) with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Janet Leigh. Jerry Lewis thinks he has been accidentally poisoned with radium and so becomes the focus of nationwide attention and sympathy. It was quite funny in parts but knowing that Helen had to be back at the hospital tonight meant we couldn’t enjoy it properly.

          We raced off to catch the Dudley Road ’bus and I felt it had been a hopeless evening. Helen had looked so drawn and tired that it quite upset me. At the ’bus stop I suddenly felt I was making a hopeless mess of everything and ruining Helen’s career. She saw the tears in my eyes and put her arm consolingly round me, and when we got to the Hospital she said she did need me but couldn’t know anything definite yet. But she also said everything would come right.

            I feel certain that Helen was meant to be a nurse yet it seems all wrong to me that because of petty regulations and stupid organisation she should have to give up all the little things in life. The time off is either useless, or she is too tired to make use of it, or she has to worry about being back in time. It seems especially wrong that she can’t come to Church on Sunday, and on Christmas Day and Good Friday in particular. Paradoxically enough, the time I miss Helen most is when I’m not used to having her right by my side, in Church.

            Are we never to enjoy these little things again together, walking in the countryside, listening to the stillness of the evening, glorying in a wonderful sunset? Or is this only a temporary parting? I wish I knew.




An excellent sermon


            I got home just after midnight and slept till ten this morning. I was tired out.

            At Church this morning we had Rev. E. Bryan Harvey, whose sermon was on 1 Corinthians 2:16: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” What a man thinks determines what he is; the power of mind over matter therefore wins. What are the attributes of the mind of Christ?

1. It is focussed on the immediate. It displays great alertness.

2. It is not afraid of being [antagonised ? illegible]

3. It is capable of almost impossible optimism, of accomplishments great beyond exaggeration.

Whatever the circumstances we must never despair, for all things are possible unto God. This is the mind of Christ which we possess.

            We sang 670 Jesus, Thou soul of all our joys, 2* Te Deum Laudamus, 857 God has given us a Book full of stories, 721 Jesus, united by Thy grace, and 562 God of all power, and truth, and grace. The lessons were from Daniel 3:19-30 and Romans 1:1-17.

            During the day I wrote to Helen. She said she might be home during the afternoon but wasn’t.

            Mr. Dibben took tonight’s service. We sang 668 Angel voices, ever singing, 63* Psalm 148, 92 Jesus! The name high over all, 705 God is the refuge of His saints, and 945 The night is come, wherein at last we rest. The lessons were Proverbs 12:1-16 and Matthew 7:1-12.

            The sermon was on Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” This is very important – we are told not to judge yet here is a criticism. Who are the dogs? They are people who despise the Truth and would destroy those who bring it. The Gospel is holy and very precious, therefore we must be careful with whom we share it. The text does not mean that we are not to witness to Truth or protest at un-Christian deeds etc. Our witness is to glorify God, that is our purpose. There is a difference between criticism and judgment. We are not to criticise, not to try to remove the splinter from someone’s eye when we have a plank in our own, but we must judge who are our opponents. We are to love our enemies. “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31). We must:

1. Respect all men even though we believe them to be wrong.

2. Allow each to follow his own way; if they are wrong they will have problems sooner or later and will learn by their mistakes.

3. It was the totally unsympathetic whom Jesus referred to as dogs and swine.

To ask someone “Are you saved?” is not always the best approach. We must be judicious in our witnessing for God. There is a time for witnessing and a time for restraint.

            It was an excellent sermon and very helpful.


This sermon has remained with me all my life and has been of inestimable value in a ministry which has taken us to many lands and has encountered much hostility. Mr. Dibben, himself a former missionary to India, recognised my call to the ministry and did everything possible to assist and encourage me, and his influence remains with me to this day. In retrospect. many of his sermons seem specially designed to help me. In any case, he would see me sitting below him in the third or fourth pew scribbling down these notes which I now decipher over half a century later. I salute all those clergy, ministers and pastors who have contributed to my life, and Mr. Dibben above all.




I loathe this job


            I had a dreadful day at work. I cleaned the poor animals [guinea-pigs, all to be killed so that their guts can be used in experiments], broke a bottle, had trouble with the organ bath, and upset everybody. I loathe having to do this job. I didn’t even write to Helen after the stupid disagreement we have had.




            When I got home this evening there was a letter for me from Helen which she obviously wrote in bed this morning. She says:–


“Dearest Brian,

            I am terribly sorry about Sunday night. Will you believe me when I say that I didn’t mean to do it? I don’t know what gets into me sometimes. Please forgive me, will you? That means forgetting the incident as well …

            Did you not ring me for punishment, yesterday? When I see you on Friday I promise I will let you kiss me if you still wish to. I feel though that a little thing like that shouldn’t make you feel that you never want to see me again. I am sorry, and my heart is very sad. Each morning I dread the day. I shan’t stay for three years. I think I would rather be with you … x x x x x x x


            I am always finding new and loveable qualities in Helen, more and more each day I feel she was meant for me, even if she does hurt me sometimes without realising it. Now I know that I love her more than ever. But I do hop[e she will stay the three years and get her S.R.N. but I am sure she will.

            Having had a bad day of constant backache I went to bed at 8.30pm and wrote to Helen to say I had forgiven her even as I went to bed on Sunday night, and I wasn’t trying to punish her when I didn’t phone on Monday. I wasn’t able to phone today as Helen was only off-duty during the afternoon, and she had already arranged to meet Freda in town at 2.30pm.

            It was a tedious sort of day at work. I was busy all morning doing odd jobs. In the afternoon, when I tried to get my organ-bath to function, everything seemed to go wrong and I didn’t make much progress. One thing I did get done was phone Phillip Harris Ltd. And ask them to come and remove a large number of bottles and Winchesters that are littering the lab and cluttering up the passage. After some considerable delay I was told they would probably be collected tomorrow. I’m a bit doubtful but perhaps I shall succeed where all the others have failed.


Helen wrote the letter in bed this morning. It was collected either from the pillar box on the corner of Shirley Road and Olton Boulevard East or the Post Office down the village; it was postmarked “Birmingham 9.30am 14 Sep 1954” and was delivered before midday.




            I must learn to keep my big mouth shut. The pain in my back was at its worst this morning, and when I tried to lift a box into which I had piled all Phillip Harris’s bottles, my back gave way and I had to try to balance the box on the step, unable to lift it up or down. One of the bottlers smashed, and when I asked Hilary to come and help me, Alan said something, I lost my temper, picked up my coat, and walked out.




            I went to work as usual this morning and Dr. Schneider and I had a talk together. Dr. Schneider thought I should get some sort of treatment for my back.

            I ’phoned Dr. Gough but couldn’t speak to him as he is ill, then I ’phoned the Q.E.H. and had to ring them back at 3.00pm. I rang Dudley Road to talk to Helen but there was no answer, but later I ’phoned again and did speak to her. We arranged to go for a walk tomorrow night. I made a sixth ’phone call to Phillip Harris’s to remind them they were collecting some bottles yesterday. They would call tomorrow.

            I did an experiment during the day. I met Trevor [Hopkins] outside Cornish’s during the lunch hour.






            I went to the Q.E.H. Casualty Department today, and after an hour and a half I underwent another complete examination, after which the doctor gave me a letter to take to take to the Physiotherapy Department at the General. I called in at Medical School and met D.W.G. Budd [Medical VI] who had brought in his G.C.E. certificates as he has an interview as a prospective student next week. I remember my interview … On the way to the Hospital I met P.J.I. Connop [Medical Division] who also has to face the same ordeal on Tuesday and was glad to have my advice.

            I got into town at 12.15pm and collected my pay from the Edmund Street offices [of the University]. I ate my dinner in the lab then went out again to see if I could get fixed in with a Physics class at College. Nothing doing there, so it looks like Botany and Zoology classes there, Physics at Aston or Handsworth technical College and Chemistry by myself. Or something.

            When I got back to Hospital I went down to Physiotherapy, had a card made out for me, and had twenty-five minutes heat treatment, but it did nothing to remove the pain. Funnily enough, the only time I haven’t had the pain today was when I was being pinned, thumped, and generally knocked about in the Q.E.

            It was comforting though, to be able to relax and feel the heat of the lamp on my back. I was in Ward 22, and there were other “invalids” learning to walk, doing exercises, or having the same treatment as me. All very interesting. When I got back to the lab I cleaned out the animals and tidied up.

            Helen was home tonight and we went to Solihull on the ’bus, then down Hampton Lane and Marsh Lane. Helen is a tease sometimes! Waiting for the ’bus back she gave me a certain look and said “You never do what I want you to.” Wonder what it was?!




            I had my Saturday off this morning and spent an hour and a half shop window gazing in the village. Only 104 days to go to Christmas … I got 88 More Stories by Guy de Maupassant from the Library. The rest of the family went to Yarningale, so I was alone all day till I saw Helen at 6.30pm.

            We walked to Grange Road and back through Olton. I don’t know what started it but we started talking about what love does to people. Helen hasn’t admitted it, but didn’t deny that she is worrying, if only sub-consciously, about not knowing what she feels about me. I wish I knew. It’s agonising being madly in love with someone who doesn’t know how she feels about you. I still feel God had some Purpose when He brought us together, as He surely did. Can it really be coincidence that the deeper things in life mean so much to us both, that we can share the same joys, and have so many things in common, while still differing on some things sufficiently enough to prevent our becoming dead bores to each other? The trouble is, I can’t imagine how any girl could love me; but if we leave things to God, all will be well.




            The preacher at this morning’s service was one of the two new Circuit ministers, Rev. Henry E. Foss. His text was Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free”, and answered many of my questions, or rather gave me the answer to many of the questions I get asked. Mr. Foss said that man was born to be free but was not able to be free. Without safeguards freedom could lead to licence, and this to anarchy. Freedom of thought, speech and conduct led to frustration and a craving for authority. Many nowadays don’t know what to believe. They had misguided ideas, e.g. ideas that science and religion are contradictory. There was a craving for a final authority which people could believe, not just accept, Some (e.g. the Roman Catholics) took the Church as the final authority, others (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses) took the Bible as the final authority. What then was the truth? When had we found it? True belief was based on an internal conviction, not on an external authority. The Church might be divided in some ways, but in many ways it is very united. Each tries to express what it feel is true. What was in line with God’s teaching was true, and we should always seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, remembering that the Spirit has never left us, and that we should pray with our eyes open and our ears unstopped. We could be sure our faith was the right one when the teaching of Christ, the witness of the Bible, and the inner guidance of the Spirit all agreed. This was the real truth.

            It was a very good service. We sang 44 The spacious firmament on high, 5* Benedictus, 849 Father, lead me day by day, 160 Thou art the way: to Thee alone, and 630 O grant us light, that we may know. The readings were Genesis 4:1-15 and James 1:12-27.

            Tonight the Youth Team conducted the service at South Yardley. Freda led, Rosemary and Monica read, and Jos Pardoe, Pat Welch and I spoke on “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” I spoke second, and referred to notes I made this afternoon. What I really said was, Jesus is still the same, still delivers us from sin, suffering, fear; therefore don’t worry. Cast all your cares upon Him. I do try to practice what I preach. I was so caught up by the Spirit, I felt happy for the first time for ages.

            The hymns we chose were 245 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, 716 Thou God of truth and love, 349 Jesus, if still the same Thou art, 320 Art thou weary, art thou languid, and 182 When I survey the wondrous Cross.

            At Y.P.F. I gave an impromptu talk on music (with records). Brian Sharpe and Lionel Hubbard also spoke. Voting:– 14 for Jazz, 15 for Musical Comedy or film, 18 for C.B.S.O. Concerts.




            Our lab gets more like a Rugby football game every day. Dr. Schneider hasn’t been in at all, but we’ve had Janet, and Alan’s other girl-friend (one of them), a new technician from Iraq who will be with us for a fortnight – I think his name is Ahmed Ali, or something – and Pam was a visitor this morning.

            Pam is having a baby soon, so it’s not surprising that babies were the main topic of conversation. I don’t know who brought up the question of names, but someone said Helen was a lovely name, and Pam looked at me, and I was very nearly embarrassed.

            I went for my heat treatment at 1.30pm and got a legitimate excuse for whistling at nurses. I have to shout when the lamp gets too hot.

            I ’phoned Dudley Road Hospital at 2.15pm but Helen was on duty till 5.0pm. I was going to ’phone back at 5.15pm but I suddenly felt that Helen would be coming home and we could go to the cinema, so I came home at ten to five. When I got home Mam said that Mrs. Walker wanted to tell me that Helen would be home tonight, but hadn’t been able to tell me yesterday as I was at South Yardley. It’s funny how I seem to know these things. In my letter to Helen today I nearly put “I shall see you tonight” as a P.S., but put another one instead.

            We went to the Odeon to see Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds in Susan Slept Here (A), which was very amusing, and a real life adventure, Below the Sahara (U). [jpg]




            I’ve got miles behind with my Diary lately but there seems never to be a spare moment. At work I did my first full day’s work with my organ-bath. In the morning I helped our Iraqi technician smoke a trace which we managed between us at the third attempt. The first one tore, the second burned through.

            During the dinner hour I read more of my Guy de Maupassant book.

            I went for my heat treatment for half an hour at 2.30pm, during which time the new animals arrived, including three pigeons. Dr. J.M. French and a nurse were two of today’s visitors.




Gil Merrick’s book


            I had a letter from the Handsworth Technical College this morning and at work I made a ’phone call and fixed an interview for Friday at 6.0pm.

            Nothing much happened at work though I was busy all day. During the dinner hour I went round the town trying to think of something to buy Helen for her birthday. I had a look at the books in the Midland Educational. The bookshops are all stocked with Gil Merrick’s I See It All which was published today (Museum Press, 9/6d). Merrick’s comments have already aroused considerable controversy, in particular his statement that Trevor Ford is a nuisance.

            I bought today’s John Bull as it contained “Arctic Doctor”, the story by Dr. J.P. Moody of his 4 years in Canada where he cared for 4,000 Eskimos in 600,000 square miles of icy wilderness.




            I was invited to the Sharpe’s house in St. Bernard’s Road last night and I went at 8pm. Donald Holloway was there too, and with Brian Sharpe we sang our trio from The Mikado [“I am so proud, if I allowed”] which we hope to sing at the “Harvest Home” on Saturday night. Bob Pardoe helped us learn our parts. I am singing Pish-Tush.

            I was very busy at work today. I defrosted the ’fridge in the morning and in the afternoon washed up, packed the laundry basket and got everything set up for an experiment tomorrow. Mr. George Watts was back today.




            I had a letter from Helen this morning. She is going to make sure she gets Sunday evening off so that we can be together at the Harvest Festival, it is all she is living for at the moment, but after another week she will be in the class room with regular times. For the next four weeks she will have every Friday evening off, all day Saturday, Sunday from 2pm and Wednesday evenings. On Tuesday night Staff Nurse Morries took her round with Nurse Knight (a junior) administering medicines and injections. Helen isn’t well though – she has had a terrible headache for three days, has strained her shoulder and is obviously worried about her mother and David, who has been in hospital. However, Val persuaded her to play table-tennis for half-an-hour, and she was sitting in the lounge in the sun to write the letter. She thoroughly enjoyed Monday night, and is looking forward to Sunday night, as I am too.

            I went to Church tonight for a run-through of the concert.




            At work today I fed the animals and polished the benches and finished the washing up. I stayed until 12.0 working on my book and I continued this when I got home.

            At 4.0pm I called at Pardoes’ [48 Shirley Road] to have a rehearsal of our trio. Bob hadn’t arrived then so I went over to the Church to see if I could find Brian or Donald. Mrs. Walker was there, she had just taken Helen back to the ’bus. I could have seen Helen as I knew she would be home for 3.0, and I did wait to see if she was on the 31A ’bus before taking Ginger [for] a walk down the village. Perhaps it was a good thing, as she cried a lot when she did get home.

            Mrs. Walker was understandably a little put out when she was not invited to help prepare the Harvest Supper as she has always done for years. I myself would have been more than a little hurt, but Mrs. Walker was equanimitous about it.

        The Y.P.F. Concert this evening was quite a success. Pat Bowden played the recorder, Philip Mead played the trombone, and Janet Pritchard the piano. Brian, Donald and I sang our trio from The Mikado. Lilian Fitton gave a very funny monologue.




Harvest Festival


            Today was Harvest Festival at Church. Rev. Harold J. Watson took this morning’s service, and there was a Sunday School Gift Service at 3.0pm when Mr. Dibben and his Indian friend Mr. Hermit sang together in Indian dialect. Mr. Hermit is Headmaster of the Methodist school in Benares where Mr. Dibben spent so many years as a missionary.

            Mr. Dibben took this evening’s service when there was special music by the choir.




            I’ve done enough needless running around today to last for ages.

            After morning coffee I came out of work to go to Handsworth Technical College to see if I could make some arrangements to do a course in Physics and Chemistry. I had to see a Mr. Vernon at 11.0am and I had a talk with him. I could do a Chemistry class there on Mondays from 11.20 till 12.30 and 1.45 till 2.50pm, and Physics on Tuesday evenings from 7.0 till 9.30pm. These are special classes for students retaking the A level examinations, but the syllabus is for the [University of] London exam. Mr. Vernon advised me to try to get fixed up with classes for the Northern [Universities] exam at Aston.

            At Aston I was told I would need to do the full course which would have amounted to six classes a week (they have no revision course) and this would have left no time for Botany and Zoology classes at Suffolk Street.

            Next I went to the College of Technology where I had a talk with Mrs. Moore and arranged to do a Botany class on Monday evenings and Zoology on Thursday evenings. It was mid-afternoon by the time I got back to G.H.B so I didn’t go for my treatment in Physiotherapy.

            I was a bit fed-up by the time I got back home this evening. After tea I had a bath and felt much better.

            Tomorrow evening there is a Music You Love Concert at the Town Hall, and as I shall not be doing a College class (I haven’t decided what to do yet) I thought I should like to take Helen to it. After listening to Part 4 of Journey Into Space I went to the Walkers to leave a message, but there was no one in. I tried again later, then decided to ’phone Helen herself at Dudley Road, but the line was engaged though I tried at least a dozen times in three quarters of an hour. As the Walkers were still out I left a message asking Mrs. Walker to ask Helen to meet me at the Town Hall between 6.45 and 7.30pm tomorrow. If Helen rang up, that was!

            What a day!




            I got to work early this morning and had a ’phone call from Helen at about 9.45am. She did want to go to the concert and would meet me as arranged.

            During the lunch hour I went to the Mail offices and had a look at the posters to see what items were being played at the Concert this evening, but the only announcement was that the soloist in Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto was Clive Lythgoe.

            At 1.45pm I went down to Ward 22 and had some new treatment for my back – heat massage and more heat. I am still having a lot of pain but the massage seemed to help.

            I left work at five, came home for tea and was back in town by 6.30pm. Helen met me twenty minutes later, and the concert began at 7.30. The programme was:

            Overture, William Tell, Rossini

            Valse Triste, Op. 44, Sibelius

            Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat (Emperor), Beethoven

            Symphony No 8 in B minor (Unfinished), Schubert

            Waltz Wine, Women and Song, Johann Strauss

            Tone Poem, Finlandia, Op. 26, Sibelius.

Rudolf Schwarz was conductor, and Clive Lythgoe the soloist.

            Although there were but half a dozen people ahead of me in the queue, the best seats in the Lower Gallery were already booked and we had almost the last available seats there, C70 and 71.




            I went to Medical School this morning for the first I.M.L.T. class of the session. John and Jean are also in the class. We spent half an hour filling up forms etc., then we had a lecture about a Vacuum Embedding Bath. After a break we did practical work on the demonstration of iron in tissues.

            I went to school and saw Mr. Balance who says he will enter me for the N.U.J.M.B. exams. So now I intend to do the London revision classes at Handsworth. This seems to be the most satisfactory plan, all things considered.

            I also talked to Mr. Gosling and a lot of my friends who always gather round when I appear, and, as today, sometimes ask my advice. Jean also asked my advice at the I.M.L.T. class earlier in the day.

            As I was talking to Mr. Craddock [Henry Craddock, school porter] until 1.30pm I was rather late getting back to work for my lunch.

            Miss Jahn massaged my back at 3.0pm and by the time she had finished I felt a complete wreck. I never knew my back was so tender till she started rubbing, pushing, pressing, thumping and slapping.




            [pencil] I went shopping at lunch time. Hamid and I did an experiment together. Hamid told me there were no unions in Iraq. Dr. Schneider came in. Tonight I went to Zoology class. My tutor is Miss K.S. Richards.




            This morning while I cleaned the animals Hamid set up the organ-bath for me and then we continued yesterday’s experiment.

            Both George and Hamid left us today. We said Goodbye to Hamid at midday. After another fortnight in the Department he is returning to Iraq.

            During the lunch hour I went shopping and saw Hamid again in Woolworth’s.

            I had an hour’s treatment this afternoon from Miss Cooper and continued with my experiment.

            Tonight I have listened to Any Questions?




            Having got through all my work this morning I spent an hour working on my book. Louie told me an interesting (to me, anyway) story of the many different jobs she’s done in her life, of how she and her husband worked the canals for many years. Louie obviously knows every inch of our inland waterways. How true it is that the ordinary common folk, the man in the street, sees more and knows most of what life is. The most interesting folk are always those of humble circumstance, it seems to me.

            I bought Helen’s book, but couldn’t get the card I wanted though I went everywhere in town. Then, luckily, I went down the village to renew my library book and to buy a Biro refill for Grandad, and there in Gills’ was just the card I wanted. It said A Prayer for Your Birthday and the verse reads:–


            May every good and perfect gift

                        be given unto you

            May faith and hope and confidence

                        guide you always too.


            God bless you with a happiness

                        that sets each day apart

            And may this love for evermore

                        abide within your heart.


            After tea I did one or two odd things I had to do, then went to bed at 8.0pm and did two hours’ work on my book.




            Mr. Dibben was the preacher this morning and his sermon was on Matthew 6:34, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow …” The hymns were 930 O Lord of life, Thy quickening voice, 25* Psalm 23, 620 Who would true valour see, 542 Jesus, my strength, my hope, 525 Through the love of God our Saviour. The reading was from Luke 12:22-30. I stayed for Holy Communion afterwards.

            Mr. Jones was the preacher tonight and based his sermon on Genesis 42:36, “All these things are against me”, and “Acts 20:22, “None of these things move me. The hymns were 270 My heart is full of Christ, 57* Psalm 121, 465 Open, Lord, my inward ear, 611 Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, 608 Captain of Israel’s host, and Guide, and the readings were Psalm 146 and Luke 7:11-23.




            Helen’s birthday! She is now 18.


            [pencil] Went to College at Handsworth. Peter Shepherd. Raisins and peanuts.




The Goon Show


            It was a very full day again at work but I managed to get away for 5.30pm by which time I felt so tired that I did not go to the Physics class at Handsworth.

            I listened to the radio (Jennings at School at 7.30pm, The Goon Show at 8.30pm and Episode 1 of Sherlock Holmes at 9.0pm) and was in bed before ten o’clock.


Jennings at School was first broadcast on Saturday 16th October 1948 in Children’s Hour and has become so popular that it began last week as an adult programme. Jennings and Darbishire are played by Glyn Dearman and Henry Searle (originally David Page and Louis Somerville), Wilfred Babbage is Mr. Wilkins and Geoffrey Wincott Mr. Carter.


Tonight’s Goon Show was the 101st edition – last week’s programme being the first programme in the new fourth series. The show, with Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine and Spike Milligan, and music provided by the Ray Ellington Quartet, the Stargazers, Max Geldray (harmonica) and the B.B.C. Dance Orchestra conducted by Stanley Black, was first broadcast on Monday 28th May 1951. It was then called Crazy People and ran for 17 weeks, ending on Sunday 16th September. The Goon Show proper started on Tuesday 22nd January 1952, a second series on Tuesday 11th November 1952 and the third series on Friday 2nd October last year. There was also a special Coronation edition on Wednesday 3rd June 1953.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which has started tonight on the Light Programme features John Gielgud as Holmes and Ralph Richardson as Dr. Watson. It is rather odd that Children’s Hour too, on the Home Service, began it own series of six Sherlock Holmes plays last Friday, 1st October, with Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley who are much better in the main parts.




            Mr. Parker did some more fillings when I went for my appointment at 9.0am today. I didn’t go to I.M.L.T. As I had missed the lecture it wasn’t worth the ’bus fare to go for the practical so I spent the morning working on my book and had a hot dinner.

            At work I tried unsuccessfully to ’phone Mrs. Walker to say I wouldn’t be able to see Helen tonight as I had much to do. When I came out of work I paid my College fee, then decided to wait for Helen where she gets off the ’bus in Margaret Street. Anne Vickery met me so we both waited and talked for half an hour without seeing Helen.

            I went round to see her when I got home. She got off the ’bus within five yards of where Anne and I were standing. I must have missed her because she was wearing her blue winter coat instead of her green raincoat.

            I gave Helen her present, then we went a short walk. Later I listened to “Holiday in Berlin” by James Parrish & Tom Fallon in Curtain Up!




            Nothing happened at work today. Tonight I went to my Zoology class, and we studied Amoeba and Euglena with Mr. Cutts. We studied these types from a different angle and it was a highly enjoyable lecture. For practical we examined some pond water for living specimens.




            I went for my third dental appointment at 9.0am this morning. Mr. Parker did two permanent fillings. Mr. Parker was telling me how he has been partially deaf since a patient spat blood at him one day as he was doing an extraction.

            At work (I arrived at 10.45) I did all my usual jobs and tried to do an experiment, but the ileum I was using was Wednesday’s and contracted but would not expand. A flask containing a carefully standardised solution broke in the refrigerator. I came home at 5.0pm.

            I called for Helen at 6.30pm – she had only just got home – and we went to the Robin Hood, getting in at 7.10pm.

            Since that one Sunday a month ago I hadn’t been able to kiss Helen once, but we did exchange kisses tonight. Helen does amuse me sometimes: she obviously likes being kissed but she still won’t let me kiss her properly, or at least she is too shy to put an arm round me and let me do the rest. On the back row the couple behind us seemed to have overcome that major problem. I don’t think they saw much of the film at all.

            As I held Helen close to me I loved her terribly and felt as I always do, that she is the only girl in the world for me. I never felt quite so certain of that as I did when we walked home together. We talked about all sorts of things, but one or two things Helen said made me even more convinced she was meant for me. I didn’t before realise how strongly she felt about such things as the Death Penalty, about which I myself have such definite views.

            There is so much in common between us, the same sort of ambition, ideals, principles and faith, and a common understanding of what constitutes the highest, truest way of living, that I cannot for one moment believe that it wasn’t a Divine Providence which brought us together for always. If only Helen knew she loved me and realised God meant her for me, I should be the happiest man on earth.

            The film we went to see was Dial M for Murder (A) with Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings, in Warnercolor and originally in 3-D. It was a gripping film, adapted from the play by Frederick Knott and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The other film was The Red Dress (A).




        [No entry]




            My last Diary entry was made on September 25th so I have rather a lot of writing to do this afternoon [transcribing and expanding each day’s pencilled notes].

            At Church this morning Mr. Terry spoke on Luke 15:17, “When he came to himself … “ We sang 678 Lord of the worlds above, 6* Jubilate Deo, 843 In our dear Lord’s garden, 157 Jesus calls us! O’er the tumult, and 378 Eternal Sun of Righteousness. The readings were [part of] Job 38 and 42:1-6, and Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.

            Mr. Dibben preached tonight. We sang 17 Meet and right it is to sing, 58 The Lord Jehovah reigns, 432 Hark, my soul! It is the Lord, 615 Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, and 848 Hushed was the evening hymn. The readings were Ezekiel 3:4-14 and 1 John 3:13-24.




Pretty girls in Soho Road


            Mondays are more than a little tiring but at least I do see a bit more life than in the confines of the Bio-Assay Laboratory.

            When I got to Handsworth for the Chemistry class I had to go and see the Principal as I haven’t paid up another £1 16s. I finished my analysis for which I got 100%. I also got 100% for each of two preps.

            Peter, Dave and I went up the Soho Road in the lunch hour and had a riotous time together. Today we looked up all the pretty girls they knew in that part. There should have been one in a hardware shop according to Pete, so we all trooped in, but unfortunately (for Pete) a very old and wrinkled woman came to serve him and he had to buy 3d. worth of nuts and bolts; and in the meanwhile, the young lady in question came from the back of the shop to ask me, “Can I help you, Sir?” I don’t know how we kept a straight face.

            At the sweet shop we were rather more fortunate, and after debating whether we could legitimately ask for ¼ oz. of Dolly Mixtures, Dave bought us each a 1d. roll of liquorice which we ate on the way back to College. A welcome bit of light relief!

            Back at work I had nearly an hour’s treatment on my back, then I cleaned out the animals, finished a letter to Helen, and went to my Botany class. We studied the Morphology of the Root. In practical we had to draw carrots. As I was hungry I ate mine. We also learned how to use microscopes.




            Today I got through a very full day’s work. At 12.30pm there was a ’phone call for me from Mr. W.H. Bush of the Sunday Mercury. He wanted to meet me and know all about my [Music from the Movies] programme next week.




        [pencil] Wed eve?




            Suddenly everything seems to have caught up with me, and I’m so bewildered I don’t know where to turn. I can’t even think straight.

            Dr. Schneider sent me home at 2.0pm telling me to go and see Dr. Gough. From a kiosk in Victoria Square I ’phoned his Shirley address [SHIrley 1936] but was told I couldn’t see him till Saturday morning; then I rang Helen so that I could talk to her.


Today was the State Visit to Great Britain of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. He will feature significantly in my life within 9 years.




            I went to work as usual this morning and had probably my slackest day for months.

            In the middle of the afternoon Mrs. Walker rang me to say she hadn’t been able to get through to Helen so there was no way of making arrangements to go to a cinema tonight. We had quite an interesting and helpful conversation.

            I called for Helen at 7.30pm and we walked to Solihull along Warwick Road and back via Streetsbrook Road. In Solihull we saw firemen at a house but no sign of a fire, and a few minutes later we saw an ambulance and someone had obviously had an accident with a bonfire. Throwing fireworks on it perhaps.

            It was a happy evening till just before we got home, then I ruined it. I suddenly felt terribly unhappy again. I do not know what is wrong with me.




A preacher for life?


            I went to see Dr. Gough this morning at Shirley Road. He says I must cease all kinds of work for probably up to a month. It seems likely I shall be going to a Nursing Home, somewhere I can run, walk, climb and forget everything. I don’t dislike the idea; I just feel I must get away from everything and everyone so that I can collect my thoughts. Shall I see Helen again, shall I see her less regularly, or just as we have been doing? If she weren’t so afraid of all that it means, would she ever love me as I love her?

            And then I have to ask myself how much of my life I am being called to devote to preaching the Gospel?


SUNDAY 17th OCTOBER                                                


            It was rather an ordeal for the Youth Team to conduct a service for our own congregation but I think it was one of our best efforts. Freda and Rosemary read the lessons, Ann Pardoe did the Children’s Address, and Jos Pardoe and Pat Welch did the sermon. I led the prayers.

            The Order of Service was:


113 When morning gilds the skies

1st Prayer

1st Lesson

Children’s Address

850 Looking upward ever day

2nd Lesson

2nd Prayer



485 I’m not ashamed to own my Lord

1st Address

384 My soul, through my Redeemer’s care

2nd Address

526 O Jesus, I have promised

The Blessing

            As it was a Parade Service we had the Boys Brigade too.

            Mr. Dibben preached tonight. At Y.P.F. afterwards I asked Freda if she would like to go out with me.


NOTES ABOUT PEOPLE. A young man who left King Edward’s School last Christmas and is now studying for a M.Sc. while employed in medical research by Birmingham University scripted the programme Music from the Movies to be broadcast in the Midland Home Service next Tuesday.

            He is Brian D. Williams of 153 Circular Road, Acocks Green, who said this week: “For the first time since I began broadcasting in 1949 I shall not be taking part myself. I am 19 now and, quite frankly, not very good at broadcasting. At least I haven’t a “B.B.C. accent”.

            As I have taken part in broadcasts in the Light Programme, the Home Services, the Overseas Services and TV, (not yet the Third), I do not think I can complain – I’ve been luckier than most. Sunday Mercury, Sunday 17th October 1954.




I take Freda out


            How idiotic! Being at home I’ve lost count of what day it is and I have written today’s [Tuesday’s] notes on yesterday’s [Monday] page. So these are Monday’s happenings [recorded on the page for Tuesday].

            I got up early and during the morning I went to the Library and walked round the village with Ginger.

            After dinner I walked for miles taking Ginger with me. I wanted to get away from everything so that I could start to think. I walked along Shirley Road, Stratford Road to Union Road above the Odeon, Shirley, down Blossomfield Road and Widney Lane, and up Church Hill Road into Solihull village. Out in the country there were fields of blackened corn which had not been harvested because of the weather.

            I got in at 5.30pm and heard Graham [Gauld] announce “Music from the Movies” in This Week’s Programmes” in Children’s Hour. He also played part of Genevieve.

            At 6.15pm I called for Freda [at 1166 Warwick Road] and we went to the Futurist to see Three Coins in the Fountain in CinemaScope. This is the 8th week of its run. It was a pleasant film, shot in Rome, its chief merits being its settings and colour. The three love stories were rather trite and it seemed that the writer of the screenplay realised this and had to put in a quite unnecessary complication at one point.

            I enjoyed taking Freda out and said I might like to take her out again some time.




Music from the Movies


            For me, the main point of interest today was my “Music from the Movies” broadcast at 5.25pm. The music was:–

1. Lullaby of Broadway sung by Doris Day

2. “Busy Doing Nothing” from A Yankee at King Arthur’s Court

3. A snatch of the Zither Melody from The Third Man

4. Larry Adler’s theme music from Genevieve

5. “Wunderbar” from Kiss Me Kate sung by Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson

6. Part of An American in Paris by George Gershwin

7. “The Mounted Who Never Gets His Man” from Rose Marie sung by Howard Keel

8. “Rose Marie I love you” from the same film.

            Graham did the programme extremely well. I feel now I would rather that he broadcast any further programmes of mine rather than do them myself. I was glad he included Rose Marie – it brought the programme right up to date. The film hasn’t even been shown in the Midlands yet and was only released on October 11th. Mam said Dad always used to sing the last song to her and [it] is one of her favourites.

            I started “Music from the Movies” on April 12th so the programme has taken just 190 days to go on the air.




            This morning I slept till 11.0am, read till 12.15pm and stayed in during the afternoon as Jeanette Hugh of the Birmingham Weekly Post was coming to see me.

            She did not arrive till 3.45 but we had a most interesting talk especially as she knows nearly all the newspaper people with whom I’ve come in contact, Messrs. Fitton, Enfield, George Moore, “Ted” Taylor, Tom Carson, Vivian Bird, Harry Bush. She also heard of the upset when the Birmingham Post wrote that article about “Pot-Pourri” before I’d told the Chief. [Rev. Ronald G. Lunt].




            I got up fairly early this morning and was just finishing breakfast when Mrs. Walker called to see me. Later I ’phoned Miss Hugh. She has arranged for a photographer to come tomorrow at midday.

            I took Ginger with me to the park and I collected some water plants and snails to re-stock the aquarium.

            After dinner I took Dinah for a walk along Stratford Road from Shirley Road to Reddings Lane, and spent the rest of the afternoon reading my library book Murder at Midnight by Cecil Freeman Gregg.

            I felt so terribly tired by 7 o’clock that I went to bed early with a hot-water bottle and my novel which I finished reading in half an hour. Even so I didn’t sleep then – it must have been midnight before I dropped off. I wished I could see Helen and wondered whether she was thinking about me.




            This is a put-up job because I’m writing this especially for the Birmingham Weekly Post photographer! I’m sitting at the table in the front room surrounded by volumes of Diary and my Press Cuttings Album.

            This afternoon I went to the Library and got a John Creasey book.

            This evening I went to Choir Practice at Church. One thing I’ve missed more than anything since I’ve left school is not being able to do any singing. I really enjoyed myself tonight. Helen was there and afterwards we went for a walk down Hazelwood Road and Fox Hollies Road to School Road.


A close examination of the photograph [jpg] shows that I had just penned “writing this” when the camera flashed.




            I was rather disappointed when I woke up to find it was 11.20am as I had intended to walk to town. There was still time though, so I set off at 11.45am, did some shopping at Lewis’s and was home again by 2.15pm.

            At 3.30 I went to the Post Office and sent Dr. Schneider the laboratory key by registered post. Then I cycled to the doctor’s where I had rather a long wait.

            During the evening I wrote an air letter to Margaret [in Canada].




            Today was Local Preachers Mutual Aid Association Sunday and our preachers were Mr. J. Pennington and Mr. A. Tegla Davies, M.A.

            The hymns this morning were 289 Spirit divine, attend our prayers, 25* Psalm 23, 845 God make my life a little light, 695 Praise, Lord, for Thee in Zion waits, and 811 Thy kingdom come, O God. The readings were Psalm 27 and John 3:1-17.

            Mr. Pennington spoke on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” What was the world coming to? Was there no hope? Jesus Christ was our hope, but the Church wasn’t standing up for itself, for what it believed. People were turning their backs on Christ, then putting the blame on the Church. Mr. Pennington’s portrait of the world today, of suspicion and hatred, confirmed my own Pacifist convictions. Two World Wars have brought us no nearer to international peace and goodwill.

            I took Dorothy Fitton’s Sunday School class this afternoon (the story was of Zaccheus), then at 4.00pm there was a Youth Team meeting. The next service is at Ward End on November 14th. I shall not be taking part as I may be away by that time. Last Sunday’s service was really the end of the beginning. Now that the three principle speakers [Pat Welch, Jos Pardoe and I] are on the Plan new speakers will be needed. Brian Sharpe and Michael Daw will probably be two of them.

            At tonight’s service we sang 11 With gladness we worship, rejoice as we sing, 28* Psalm 30, 477 Son of God, if Thy free grace, 235 I know that my Redeemer lives, and 577 O loving Lord, who art for ever seeking. The readings were Genesis 18:20-33 and Romans 12. Mr. Tegla Davies’ sermon was on Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”



One of the most persistent of our youthful broadcasters must be 18-year old Brian D. Williams of Acocks Green, Birmingham, whose “Music from the Movies” was heard in the Midland Children’s Hour last Tuesday. He has been broadcasting regularly since he was 13, when he gave a talk on Bird-watching.

            Talks, the reading of stories and poetry, the selection of gramophone records to illustrate a theme, the writing of scripts – all that sort of thing seems to have come easily to young Mr. Williams.

            And all that despite the claims made upon his time by his schooling at Birmingham’s King Edward’s School and latterly his studies in the University’s Department of Pharmacology, and his diary.

            Young Mr. Williams is hoping to become a B.Sc.; he is already a trainee local preacher (one service a month) and is looking forward to being placed on the permanent list; and he has just started on the second half-million words of his diary.

            His diary – started seven years ago – is not confined to a recording of happenings. “I use it to express ideas that occur to me and views on people and events. I also use it for the writing of reviews of films and plays I see. The task of expressing thoughts and feelings in words I find very educative. Sunday Mercury, Sunday 24th October 1954




Underwood typewriter


            Walking home with Helen last night, when she said we couldn’t go for a walk on Wednesday, I lost my temper and shouted at her quite unjustifiably. I was terribly sorry afterwards that I had been so hurtful, and I felt so miserable with myself that I went for a walk as far as the Rialto. Helen’s ’bus passed me and she looked rather unhappy, but I couldn’t help wondering whether it was entirely my fault.

            I got up at 8.15 this morning, went an errand to Mr. Evans’ s shop [formerly Jones and Evans, grocers], then walked down to Busby’s, the second-hand shop on Warwick Road. On Saturday Mam and Dad saw an old typewriter for sale at £3 5s. 0d. I said it wasn’t worth £3, offered 45/-d for it and got it for 50/-d, and they delivered it about midday.

            The machine is an American Underwood, made in 1917. It didn’t appear to have been used for many years and was quite dirty. The ribbon had no carbon left on it, but all the keys seemed satisfactory, though the lettering isn’t in perfect alignment. I cleaned it up and oiled one or two parts, and removed as much as possible to make it easier to clean.

            I went to the park just before dinner. Afterwards I walked to town and back with Ginger, bought a typewriter ribbon from Pope’s and typing paper (1/6d.) from Woolworth’s.

            Cleaned up and with a new ribbon the typewriter is just what I’ve wanted for a long time. I had been thinking of buying a portable. Strange … Dr. Gough says I am not to pick up pen or pencil, and in less than a week I’ve got just the answer to my writing problems. God does work in mysterious ways.

            At 7.30 tonight I heard part 8 of Journey Into Space.


This is the second series of Journey into Space. The present story is called “The Red Planet” and is set in 1971. The first series, “A Tale of the Future”, set in 1965, began last year on Monday 21st September and was very popular at school. The pilot of space-ship “Luna” Jet Morgan is played by Andrew Faulds, Stephen “Mitch” Mitchell by Bruce Beeby (replacing Don Sharpe in the first series), Lemmy Barnett by David Kossoff, and Doc. Matthews by Guy Kingsley Poynter. The music is written and conducted by Van Phillips, and the programme is written and produced by Charles Chilton (whose Western adventure, Riders of the Range, finished its sixth and final series on 14th September last year) There is also a Pan paperback of Journey Into Space, price 2/-d.




            This morning I typed a letter to Mr. Plater. I hadn’t been able to complete a letter I wrote him on September 14th, and he wrote to me on August 23rd.

            Just before dinner I went down the village for Mam; in the afternoon I walked down [Woodcock Lane and] Clay Lane, Coventry Road, along the 36 ’bus route to Tyseley and into Acocks Green along Warwick Road. It rained heavily for the last hour [0.435 inches] and Ginger and I were very wet when we got back at 4.15pm.

            During the evening I read my library book by John Creasey called Dead or Alive. It’s a “Department 2” thriller. I also listened to Jennings at School at 7.30pm.




            I got up at five past eleven this morning and until dinner I typed part of my sermon for my first L.P. service.

            This afternoon I went for a long walk with Ginger, the exact opposite to the walk I did ten days ago, except that we walked right down Stratford Road to Reddings Lane. I didn’t get home till 6.30pm. On the way to Olton I had met Mrs. Walker and we spent half an hour talking.

            This evening I listened to a play by Max Kester in Curtain Up! It was “The Business at Blanche Capel” adapted from the novel by Bryan Morgan, with Sebastian Shaw and Cecile Chevreau, Jean Taylor-Smith and Jack Allen. Blanche Capel is the intriguing name of a Virus Research Station.




            On getting a haircut this morning it came as something of a shock to find my hair has gone back half an inch at the temples. My hair has been coming out in considerable quantities for eighteen months or more. I feel tempted to ask whether Helen might love me after all if I get a bit bald!!

            After dinner I walked to Hay Mills with Ginger, went down Kathleen Road for the first time since July 1941, and went to Granma’s [at 236 Millhouse Road] for an hour. Grace was there with baby Patrick whom I’d not seen before. Grandad is ill again, having had an abscess on the lung.

            Tonight I’ve heard Town Forum from Milan. The team was Sir Miles Thomas, Alan Bullock, Rt. Hon. John Dugdale, M.P. and Lord Killearn.




            This morning I walked to town and took my note to the Almoner at G.H.B. It rather looks as though I shall be going into the Victoria Nursing Home at Clevedon. The cost is met mainly by the Public Health Department, and I had to go to their offices in Congreve Street to see the Assessment Officer.

            On Monday evening TV’s The Conductor Speaks comes from the Town Hall with Rudolf Schwarz and the C.B.S.O. I meant to write for a ticket but didn’t, so I called at the B.B.C. to see if I could get one. As most of the offices are now at Carpenter Road I walked to Edgbaston via Five Ways. By the time I got there it was lunch-time, so the Commissionaire (who said he was used to me now!) told me to ’phone in the afternoon and ask for Miss McDonald. I walked to Bristol Road then caught the 1A ’bus home.

            I did ’phone the B.B.C. about 3.30pm but, as I expected, all the tickets had gone. After ’phoning I took Ginger for a walk down the village. Later I stitched Ginger’s collar.

            Tonight I took Helen to the Tivoli to see Roman Holiday, one of last year’s top films. It won a Seal of Merit in Picturegoer, and Audrey Hepburn won the Actress of the Year award for her performance. It truly was an excellent film, a romantic comedy in which a Princess on an official visit to Rome falls in love with a newspaper reporter (Gregory Peck). The film lasted two hours and the photography was wonderful.




Wise counsel


            It’s 10.20pm. and I have just returned from having a long chat with Mr. Dibben – over two hours. I’ve been so depressed again I felt it would be best if I did not take part in tomorrow morning’s service at Saltley – I didn’t feel I could give of my best. Mr. Dibben and I talked about the different things that have been on my mind and convinced me that if I continue to feel as strongly as I do now about pacifism, I am doing the best thing in becoming a Conscientious Objector. Mr. Dibben also agreed with me that anyone feeling as strongly as I do about this matter who still does National Service is being a traitor to his own faith. Obviously Mr. and Mrs. Walker and David aren’t Conscientious Objectors at all, despite what Mrs. Walker says.

            I asked Mr. Dibben about how one becomes a Methodist minister. The training is a long one but one has to become an Accredited Local Preacher first, so I can still continue with my B.Sc. Mr. Dibben says that L.P. studies are not difficult, so I should be able to keep up with them as well as B.Sc. classes, when I am fit and well.

            Mr. Dibben also gave me some advice about Helen and told me not to be quite so serious. I wish I wasn’t so seriously-minded – I try not to be. He also said it was easy to think you had a lot in common with someone you love, when in fact you hadn’t. Still, I’m certain we do have much in common – Helen’s own serious thoughts of mind have been astoundingly similar to mine, in a way I would never have dreamt. Time will tell …

            In the afternoon Mick Daw called for me and we went on the 44 ’bus to Barn Lane for the Youth Club’s friendly match with Wellesbourne F.C. It was to be my first game for years and years and I hadn’t worn my football boots since November 26th 1953, and I got quite sentimental scraping Eastern Road mud from my boots when I got them re-studded in the morning. I played inside-left today but not very well. We won 8-3 (half-time 2-1).

            Tonight I went to the Library and borrowed Call the Toff by John Creasey.




            Mr. Terry took this morning’s service. We sang 681 God of mercy, God of grace, 6* Jubilate Deo, 850 Looking upward every day, 519 Thee, Jesus, full of truth and grace and 270 My heart is full of Christ. The readings were from Psalm 37 and 1 Corinthians 1-17.

            Mr. Dibben took tonight’s service. The hymns were 7 O heavenly King, look down from above, 47* Psalm 91:1-6, 9-16, 477 Son of God, if Thy free grace, 38 Father of heaven, whose love profound, and 624 Jesus, still lead on. The readings were Psalm 51 and Romans 16.

            After this evening’s service I asked Helen if she would come out with me on Wednesday. I was almost certain she would say no, she would be too busy. I don’t know whether she was being absolutely truthful or just thoughtless. The silly child has got a lot to do and doesn’t seem to know how to get things done and to make time. Because I usually can, I suppose I expect too much. But I do think she could at least have thanked me for asking her out. I hate being taken for granted.





            This morning I finished my letter to Helen. I’ve said I don’t think I shall ask her out again, and don’t much care if she never speaks to me again. And yet I do care …

            I went to see the doctor this morning.

            Tonight I watched Rudolf Schwarz and the C.B.S.O. in The Conductor Speaks on Television. The Orchestra played a chorus from Mendelssohn’s Elijah, a movement from the Concerto for Organ and Orchestra by Handel, Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss and Choral Dances from Prince Igor by Borodin. The programme was from the Town Hall. Rudolf Schwarz introduced each of the items, David Willcocks conducted the City of Birmingham Choir, and George Thalben-Ball was at the organ as usual.




            I had a letter from Mr. Plater this morning. He asks me to let him know when I shall be in Margate again so that I can be on their Plan to minister for them. I hope it may be soon. It is comforting to know that they have continued to remember me in prayer, as I have them.

            I was praying that there might be “Youth for Christ” rallies again in Margate, and though I wrote to their Y.F.C. secretary I have heard nothing more. On Saturday and Sunday there is however to be a “First Area Rally” at the Pioneer Hall, Clarendon Road, Cliftonville, and at the Apostolic Church. It will be led by the London Evangelistic Trio and conducted by Arthur Ireson. Perhaps in some way, this is the answer to my prayer.




            I am rather miserable tonight and not a little tired. I wanted to take Helen to the Robin Hood to see Phantom of the Rue Morgue, but I have not heard from her. She would have got my letter yesterday.

            This morning I cycled to Hall Green to get a bale of straw. This afternoon I took Ginger for a walk along Warwick Road, down Grange Road to Streetsbrook Road and back home down Shirley Road.




            I got up early this morning and at 9.30am went down the village to buy Picturegoer [as I do every Thursday]. On the way back I met my darling sweetheart who was off to do some shopping.

            It was such a beautiful day that I decided I would walk to Alum Rock [to see our old home at 23 Belchers Lane]. I started at 10 o’clock, taking Ginger with me, and we first of all went to Grandad’s [23 Pretoria Road, Bordesley Green] where we stayed for about 50 minutes.

            I also wrote to Cyril Plater today.




            This morning I finished typing my letter to Mr. Plater but forgot to post it.

            In the afternoon I went to the Library – it rained all day [0.945 inches] until the evening and I couldn’t go for a walk – and I found that Jeanette Hugh had given me a half-page write-up in the Birmingham Weekly Post.

            I had invited John round for 7.45pm and he arrived about 8.0pm. We talked, listened to the radio, and played some of my gramophone records.

        [Pencilled note: 10.30pm]




            This morning I went to Dr. Gough’s at 9.45am and saw him almost immediately, and was home again within half an hour. That must have been a record. I asked Dr. Gough about my losing my hair. Later on I went shopping. It was wet and miserable all day.




            Today was Remembrance Sunday. Mr. Harvey was the preacher this morning and Mr. Dibben this evening when we also had Holy Communion after the service.




            I did not get up until 11.0am. It was raining as usual. I went down the village and bought a few Christmas cards.

            The rain worsened after dinner [0.395 inches fell today], so I stayed indoors and watched TV for an hour, a film drama Night Train to Danger followed by Breeding Time at the Severn Wildfowl Trust with Peter Scott introducing the latest arrivals at Slimbridge.

            I went to see John tonight. As usual we discussed films and played records, and talked about religion and pacifism [with which he does not agree]; later we had supper.






            The weather was fine this morning so I took Ginger for a walk to town via Coventry Road, Deritend and Digbeth, and back home via Camp Hill, Stratford Road and Warwick Road.

            Tonight I have watched the second half of the Arsenal v. Spartak match from Highbury [TV, 8.30-9.15pm] which the Russian team won 2-1. Spartak also brought on a substitute for a player who was not injured, and there was disputation as to whether Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty when one of their players was fouled. Wolves are due to play Spartak at Molineux next Tuesday.




            Just lately I haven’t slept well, and after two or three restless nights I slept until midday, and even then Mam had to wake me. For the first time since I’ve been home I didn’t go out during the day. Most of the time it was raining [a further 0.66 inches].

            After dinner I watched the second half of the England v. Wales match from Wembley. Teams:–

England:- Wood; Staniforth, Byrne; Phillips, Wright, Slater; Matthews, Bentley, Allen, Shackleton, Blunstone.

Wales:- King; Williams, Sherwood (Capt.); Paul, Daniel, Sullivan; Tapmott, Ford, Charles, Allchurch, Clark.

            It was a most exciting match. At half-time [when the transmission began] Wales were leading 1-nil with a goal by the Leeds United centre-forward John Charles. Midway through the second half Roy Bentley (Chelsea) equalised with a header from a Stanley Matthews’ pass. Five minutes later Bentley headed in a corner kick by Blunstone (also Chelsea) to give England the lead. A minute later Charles made it 2-2, but just before the end Roy Bentley scored the winner in a goalmouth scrimmage. [The match was played in icy-cold drenching rain which kept the attendance down to 90,000 instead of the usual 100,000 for an International match or Cup Final. The Spartak team sat in the stand to watch the match.]

            I took Ginger for a walk to the College Arms at 9.30pm.




            I got up at 8.30 today. After breakfast I went for a walk all round the village with Ginger. It was rather windy and there was rain in the air.

            Mam and I went to town to get me a new raincoat this afternoon. I walked and got to the Co-op, High Street, in forty-five minutes – I ran nearly all the way from the Mermaid Inn [Sparkbrook, then down Stratford Road to Camp Hill, Deritend, Digbeth and the Bull Ring]. I can get to town now in forty minutes. We got my raincoat, a “Swallow” in slate-grey gabardine (10 guineas!) then I walked home again.

            At 8.0pm Dad and I went to the second meeting of the Men’s Fellowship. Mr. Harold T. Sharpe led a discussion on “Christianity in Business”. There were fifteen of us present; Mr. Bradley was chairman, Mr. Howells played the piano.




Grey Wagtail


            I had my breakfast in bed this morning but didn’t get up late. I washed up then went down to the Post Office to send a registered packet containing my [Kelton] watch and Grandad’s, to Dundee for repair.

            Then I took Ginger for a walk to the park. Heavy rains recently have swollen the streams, and in parts of the park the grass is under water [2.645 inches of rain have fallen in the last 8 days].

            I saw a smallish bird running by the edge of the stream and I followed it for two hundred yards. It would perch on a stone in mid-stream then, with a joyful “teet”, fly on, dipping nearly to the water’s surface. This was the Grey Wagtail which is surely one of our most delightful small birds – certainly my favourite. There were two birds. I had not previously seen this species in Acocks Green, but today its very exuberance lightened my heart.

            After dinner I went my usual Grange Road-Stratford Road walk and got home just after 4.0pm.

            I went to the Club tonight for the first time for months, and had to do the washing up! Helen came to Choir Practice and afterwards we took Freda home [to 1166 Warwick Road], and continued our walk down Oxford Road, Dudley Park Road, Westley Road and Hazelwood Road. Helen was much happier tonight. The P.T.S. has been getting her down and she had a good cry again in the week, but she was much more cheerful again this evening and we had a happy walk together.

            One of my letters this (Friday) morning was from G.H.B. I am going into the Victoria Convalescent Home, Clevedon on Monday (D.V.). Mr. de Wirtz sent me a Sentinel magazine reminding me of last year’s trip to Spain.




            I got up at 8.0am and went to the doctor’s straight after breakfast wearing my new raincoat for the first time. I got back just after ten, then called for Freda whom I had promised to take to the M.N.I. in Clay Lane. I wanted to get my Sickness Benefit but wasn’t able to get it except by waiting an hour or two. Freda had an interview about her having to pay 24/-d for N.I. stamps when she was ill for 8 weeks. As she had only been at work five weeks she could not claim Sickness Benefit, but now she does not have to pay the money if she produces a doctor’s note for the eight weeks’ absence. We got out just after 11.0am then we walked to Coventry Road and back home down Yardley Road and Oxford Road.          




Overseas Missions


            This morning I went with the Youth Team to Ward End, Faye Dibben, Freda and I in Pat’s car, Ann Pardoe, Rosemary and Michael [Daw] in Mr. Pardoe’s. This time the service was a replica of the one we did at our own Church the other week, but Michael led, Freda did the Children’s Address and read a lesson, and Pat and Ann spoke. After the service Mr. Harvey conducted two Christenings.

            At tonight’s service, the preacher was Rev. Chile O. Ogan from Eastern Nigeria whose talk on Overseas Missions was summed up by Matthew 9:37: “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” In Eastern Nigeria there were six Methodist Districts which it was hoped would form a West African Conference in a few years, with its own Theological College and providing its own training. There were problems of Nationalism, Paganism, Materialism, Catholicism, Communism. There was a need for aggressive evangelism, African leadership and Methodist technicians and experts. They especially needed hospitality in white countries.

            We sang hymn 426 Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim, 58 The Lord Jehovah reigns, 801 From Greenland’s icy mountains, 804 Spread, O spread thou mighty word” and 795 O Church of God, arise. The lessons were Luke 14:15-24 and Matthew 9:35-38.

            After the service Helen and I went for a walk, our last for a few weeks. We were very happy together but both of us felt we were purposely being extra-happy, and knew we might be sad a little later.

            We walked along Clay Lane, Yardley Road, up Westley Road and Hazelwood Road. I think Helen wanted me to spank her, since she asked me if I was going to.




To Clevedon to convalesce


            I was up at 7.30 this morning and out by 8.30am. It was very foggy, and the ’bus took almost an hour to get into town. I like travelling, perhaps because one meets and sees so many people. On the ’bus I was sorry for a blind woman, amused by our driver who opened his cab door to swear at another motorist, and delighted when a pretty girl apologised for treading on my foot! Of course, I might easily have put my foot there purposely.

            In New Street I bought some Scarlet Quill stationery and some ink, then rushed off to Snow Hill, a suitcase in each hand. I had had a hard job packing and I had to sit on the suitcases to get them shut. I had horrible visions of a suitcase flying open in the town and scattering pants, vest, shirt and everything all over the street, but my fears were unfounded. There was a small queue at the Booking Office and I thought I might miss the train, but had ten minutes to spare. The fare to Clevedon was £1 10s 8d. Obviously, not many people travel this way -- my ticket was a GWR one and the fare marked at 21/9d.

            The train was the Cornishman, headed by No.5045 Earl of Dudley (surely I‘ve been pulled by this before?). We left at 9.52am, two minutes late, and at Acocks Green Station we stopped for 15 minutes. In the thick fog the train was running several minutes late, but after we had gone through Stratford and the Cotswolds, the fog gave way to beautiful sunshine. I had two companions on the train. One looked at least a Russian Spy. He had thick greying hair which stood out from his head, a moustache, and an accent I could not identify. He also kept talking to himself all the time. But he was quite a nice fellow because he gave me some chocolate biscuits.

            11.30am Bristol, and as filthy a fog as I have ever seen. The connection train was waiting on the other side of the platform. It was not a long journey to Yatton where I [crossed the bridge and caught the12.38pm] third train to Clevedon [a single coach pulled by a 14xx Class 0-4-2PT locomotive].This latter part of the journey [a little over three miles] took less than 10 minutes.

            Outside the station [I turned left, and was directed up Chapel Hill and Lower Linden Road and], it did not take me long to find Princes Road and the Victoria Home [almost at the top on the far side]. The matron [Mrs. L. Allen] took me in and later I was taken into the Conservatory and introduced. The Captain is Jock, a Scotsman. We had a few sandwiches, then as tea wasn‘t till 4.0pm I went out for a walk. From the station I went along Old Church Road, past the quarried Hangstone Hill, to the beach. Here I sat and finished the letter to Helen I had been writing on the train, watched by a friendly robin who brushed my hair twice. Down at the water‘s edge, there was a number of screaming gulls.

            Clevedon gives me the impression of being the sort of place where people come to die. It has a population of about 8,000 [9,524 according to the 1951 Census], and is a well spread out town built of local Pennant stone. The coastline is broken and rugged, and the beach is stony. Above the town is tree-clad Dial Hill, 296 feet high. Behind Clevedon lies the Gordano, an area of moor and hill from which rise the Mendips.

            The House is very comfortable with Matron’s office, dining room and lounge on the ground floor, and large bedrooms (dormitories) on the two floors above. There are bookshelves in the lounge, including the Clevedon Official Guide 1951, and a games room in the basement.




            I slept well last night. At seven we had a cup of tea in bed. There was a bell at 7.45am when we came downstairs, and breakfast was at 8.30am.

            After breakfast there was prayers at 9.0am – a hymn, a reading and the Lord’s Prayer, led by Matron. Afterwards we went for a walk to Ladye Bay.

            I stayed in after dinner, then went for a walk again after tea. By now it was dark and across the water I could see the lights of South Wales, a pretty sight but it made me feel very lonely and depressed.

            At Molineux Wolves beat Spartak 4-nil


[There is a pencilled note in the margin which I cannot decipher: it appears to read “Abc Bick…es”]     




            In prayers this morning we sang The King of Love my Shepherd is (Hymns Ancient and Modern No. 197). After prayers we had a photograph taken in the garden, after which Jim Allwood and I walked to the Swimming Pool [Marine Lake] where we fed the birds. Afterwards we walked back to the Pier. It was a fine day.

            We all had to see the doctor this afternoon so we stayed in till 3.0pm. The doctor kept me 15 seconds. In the meantime Bob and I were having an interesting discussion on religion in the conservatory. I didn’t start it, but I couldn’t resist carrying it on. About an hour before tea Jim, Henry and I went a walk along the front and met Bob. We all sat on a bench talking, then as we got up to go, a girl from the B.B.C. did a bit of Audience Research on us.

            Tonight I played snooker with William in the basement games room.


The photograph [jpg] taken today shows Matron (Mrs. L. Allen) and 18 patients. The Captain, Jock, is seated next to Matron on her right. Brian, squinting, is standing immediately behind Matron. Jim Allwood is standing on the right of the back row, and Henry Wareham is standing on the extreme right. Jim (Victor James Allwood) and his wife Jessie lived at 1/52 Woodcock Street, Gosta Green, Birmingham 4, and were our loyal friends for at least 22 years. Reginald Henry Wareham lived at 5 Charles Street, Cheltenham, and also stayed in touch until at least 1976. Jim later asked to be called Vic, and Henry wanted us to call him Reg. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who may be able to identify any of the people in the photograph or has memories of Victoria Nursing Home.




            This morning the Vicar from Christ Church [The Reverend A.G. West] came to take prayers and he gave a short address about “Little Things.” Later I wrote a postcard to Dr. Schneider. It rained nearly all day.

            This afternoon I went out to post Dr. Schneider’s card at the Post Office, and then walked to the ruins of Walton Castle. This evening I played snooker while some of the men went to the pub.


The postcard is postmarked 4.15pm. It reads:–


                                                                        Victoria Home,

                                                                                    Princes Road,


                                                                                                            Nov. 18th ’54


            Am now making good progress and hope I may be back in the lab just before Christmas, depending upon when I am discharged from here.

            Clevedon is very quiet and peaceful and it’s been good to get away from the noise & smoke of Birmingham. Am at last feeling really rested.

            Kind regards to all,





            I went off by myself this morning [walking down to the pier and turning right, then past the Edgarley Hotel and] along Lovers’ Walk to Ladye Bay. Nearby is a church [St. Mary’s, Walton–in Gordano] which I visited on the way back.

            After diner thirteen of us went by coach to Bristol where we were to tour W.D. & H.O. Wills’ tobacco factory. On the way we saw the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

            At the factory we saw first how the tobacco arrives in large bales. It is dampened, blended and shredded, wrapped around in a long continuous tube of paper, and then fed into an electronically-controlled machine which chops it into individual cigarettes, each with a filter, at the rate of 2,500 per minute. A single packing machine handles a million cigarettes every day.

            The cigarettes are then introduced into the familiar packets and these are automatically conveyed into cartons, each carton holding 6,000 packets, for delivery to the wholesaler and thence to the customer. It was most fascinating to watch. We were each given a packet of ten cigarettes as a souvenir of our visit. If only they still issued cigarette cards!

            I played snooker again tonight.




            I had a restless night last night and I talked in my sleep, but fortunately no one could hear exactly what I said. I expect I was talking about Helen.

            There was a letter from her this morning. My darling sweetheart is missing me and is rather sad but she doesn’t know why.

            This morning Jim, Henry and I walked along the front, [through Salthouse Woods and along Poet’s Walk past the little church [St. Andrew’s] and up to a point on Wain’s Hill where we could have looked miles down Channel and seen Flatholme and Steepholme had it not been for a heavy mist.

            Jim [Allwood] is Captain now. After breakfast we said Goodbye to Jock [who was Captain this week], Bill, Reg and William.

            During the afternoon I did some writing and went for a walk, and in the evening I wrote, walked and played snooker again with Jim and Henry.




Temperance Sunday


            It’s 9.45pm and I’m sitting in bed. Outside a gale is blowing and it was raining heavily not very long ago, but the weather was fine until about 8.00pm.

            This morning Henry, Jim and I walked along the front before going to Clevedon Methodist Church which is just round the corner from the Home [in Lower Linden Road]. The preacher was Rev. [space left] and the text was Romans 14:21, “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak”, and then gave an excellent sermon on the perils of drinking and smoking, as it is Temperance Sunday which has been observed since about 1850.

            The annual expenditure on beer in this country is £869,000,000. If all the children who are in some way suffering because of this social evil were lined up and moved at the rate of one child per second it would take 12 days and nights to for the procession to pass.

            Christian Citizenship Sunday was started in about 1880. Drink is a narcotic, it numbs and stupefies; there is a relationship between drink and crime, venereal disease. etc. Sir George Newman was mentioned. The manufacture of beer utilises valuable grain and sugar but is of little food value. The percentage of people employed in the industry is small but the profits are enormous. The sale of beer results in depression, but the drink industry has power with the press, the B.B.C. and advertising.

            Drinking in moderation is no answer – all such exhortations are vain. It was total abstinence or nothing, because the temptation is too great for the weak-willed who cannot keep moderate. Self-discipline is required for the Gospel’s sake, pleas for moderation do not work. Is moderate drinking a mark of moral superiority? No, it is a mark of moral indifference to the needs of others.




            I had a nice letter from Mam this morning, enclosed with a book which had come for me. She hopes I am feeling much improved and putting on weight. They are getting very bad fogs. Clarice and Julia are looking after the fish for me. Mam and Dad went to see Susan Slept Here on Friday night and enjoyed it, as Helen and I did.

            I also had a letter from Mr. Dibben in reply to mine of last week. He is glad to hear that the change is doing me good already, and rather envies me being by the sea and in the delightful surroundings of Clevedon, especially after the terrible smog in Birmingham all last week. He wishes me good luck if I do test the temperature of the Bristol Channel, the very thought of it sends shivers down his spine! I will be able to fit in some good walks in the interesting countryside round about. He tells me to enjoy the change, forget about everything for a while, and I will soon be on top of the world. They will miss seeing me around and shall welcome me on my return. It is a lovely letter.

            It was a gloomy day but I went to Dial Hill again and enjoyed a country walk. It was raining again this afternoon so I stayed in and played snooker. This evening I again climbed the hill.




            I had another letter from Mam this morning thanking me for the card, and also forwarding a letter from the U.S.A. and a card from the Ministry of National Insurance. She is glad I have got the extra week here and has sent me a 10/-d. note. The weather in Birmingham is dreadful, with gales and rain and very cold. Julia has got another very bad cold, and Mam has a stiff neck and shoulders, and painful hands. She asks if I have put on any weight yet and do I feel more relaxed in body and mind? Ginger is as lively as a cricket and Dinah too. On Friday a young lady called, doing animal nutrition research, and asked if we have a dog? Mam said we have two, and half an hour later a van drove up and gave Mam 21 tins of dog meat, 2 tins a day for Ginger and one a day for Dinah, so a week’s supply. They are usually 9d each, so that was 15/9d worth! In return Mam has to fill in a form every day for a week to report whether the dogs like the food, which apparently they do! Mam had a mishap with the boiler on Tuesday and flooded the kitchen floor.

            I walked to the paddling pool [Marine Lake] this morning.




The Maxime Cinema


            This morning four of us walked to Walton Castle and I took a couple of photographs, one of Jim [jpg] and another of Reg and Jack. Later I saw the doctor and was advised to stay for a third week.

            This evening Jack, Jim and I walked to Seeleys and along the sea-front and then to the Maxime Cinema in Old Church Road. It is an impressive building running parallel with the main road, the entrance at the right-hand end and a café running full-length above it.


At the time of my stay in Clevedon I was unaware of the significance of the Maxime as the longest continuously operating cinema in the country. The Picture House (as it was called) was opened on Saturday 20th April 1912, a few days after the sinking of the Titanic. People flocked to the first performance and the proceeds were sent to the Lord Mayor of London’s Relief Fund to help survivors of the disaster and those bereaved. Despite two World Wars the cinema had remained open (at the time of my visit) for 42½ years and (in 2007) has never failed to open in 95 years, making it unique in Europe and probably the world.

            The Picture House was built by Victor E.J. Cox, son of John Newton Cox the local stonemason. Born at West End, Clevedon, in 1887, Victor was educated at Clevedon College. He developed a talent for sculpture and stonemasonry and joined his father in the family business. But he was also fascinated by the moving pictures and by 1910 had begun showing films in Clevedon Public Hall (Albert Road), and in the open-air at Herbert Gardens and the sea-front bandstand, before investing his money in building The Picture House on land at his father’s yard.

            The original building occupied the western end of the present site in Old Church Road (i.e. the right hand end facing the bottom of Hillside Road) and is said to have seated 200 people. The projector was gas-illuminated. By the middle of 1913, without interruption to the daily programme, The Picture House had been extended to accommodate 389. A sliding roof was installed for ventilation, and electricity – the first in Clevedon – to increase the brilliance of the pictures. In 1916 motorised projectors were installed.

            In 1919 Victor was able to acquire the site at the eastern end of the building and The Picture House was further extended and rebuilt between Saturday 6th March 1920 and Monday 12th June 1922, not a show being missed. A dressing room (stage left), fly gallery, boxes (one with an organ) and balcony were added, and the walls and ceiling were lined with prefabricated moulded tin plate panels giving the illusion of ornate Art Deco plasterwork. These greatly enhanced the quality of sound.

            A musical background to the silent films was provided by a piano often played by Victor, and on a special occasion his step-mother Blanche Howard – a professional singer who had toured Europe – would entertain the audience. Upstairs was the Oak Room café with direct access both from the auditorium and the street. There were box offices on either end of The Picture House, the one on the north-west corner for the more expensive seats. Above this corner, the large semi-circular stained glass window to the café foyer was shattered by a bomb which fell [date] at the bottom of Hillside Road. A gas main exploded, the blast pitted the stonework at this corner of The Picture House, and a soldier standing at the entrance was killed – Clevedon’s only casualty of the War.

            In 1927 a sound-on-disc system was introduced to provide sound for short films, and in 1930 two Zeis Ikon projectors were installed, with Zeis arc-lamps and Western Electric Sound utilising sound-on-film for the screening of feature films. The organ was removed in 1929.

            On Monday 11th June 1945 Victor Cox sold The Picture House to Maxwell Corn. On Sunday 5th August 1946 it was renamed the Maxime, the name it still bore at the time of my visit in 1954. In August 1953 it was sold to the Cleve Cinema company of Cardiff and – some time after 1954 – was renamed the Curzon.

            From about 1965 the cinema was run for 30 years by Kenneth Eagles (projectionist) and his wife Janet (manager). The cinema went into receivership in 1995 but a local resident Jon Webber launched a “Save the Curzon” campaign, and it became The Curzon-Clevedon Community Centre for the Arts with plans to restore it to its 1920’s grandeur.

            Victor Cox’s stepmother Blanche lived [dates] to almost 100. Victor died in hospital at Bristol on or about Saturday 3rd June 1978, aged 90.




            The Vicar came this morning and we had a question time together. Later I walked to Christ Church and round the town. It was raining this afternoon so I stayed in and played snooker. The rain has continued all evening.           




            This morning Jim asked me if I would take over as Captain next week.

            The weather today was very bad. At times the rain poured down, and a gale blew relentlessly. 

            I had a letter from Clarice and Julia this morning, written by Clarice on Wednesday and postmarked Acocks Green, 9.30am yesterday, enclosing one from Mam and a 5/-d P.O. Clarice is up to her neck in exams and Julia is helping her as much as she can. Stan and his girl-friend have broken their engagement, and Ken’s [from over the road] brother was seriously injured in the recent rail crash. [Where?]




            A number of us left today. After breakfast Matron asked Jim and me to put Fred on the London train at Yatton. After Jim and I had been for a walk round the town and along the front in the brilliant morning sunshine, we came back to the Home and with Fred went down to the station, calling at “The Bristol” on the way for a last drink together. We left Clevedon at 11.0am [the little train arrived at Yatton at 11.07], and we put Fred on the 11.28 Paddington train after a twenty minute wait at Yatton. Then we jumped back onto our Clevedon train just as it was leaving [at 11.31, arriving at Clevedon 7 minutes later], and were back in time for a good walk before dinner.

            After dinner the weather was again wet and windy and I didn’t go out again. I spent an hour reading my book and fell asleep. After tea I played snooker with Wilf, Tom (twice) and after supper, Reg. Tom beat me in both games.

            It is after 9.0pm and four of us are listening to Eamonn Andrews presenting a programme of records.

            Blues today beat Port Vale 7-2. If my memory serves me rightly, it was their biggest victory since October 6th 1945 when they beat Spurs 8-nil.

            Just one year ago today I was sitting in the cinema with Helen, the first time we went out together. What wonderfully happy times we’ve had since then!


The Yatton train was, I believe, hauled by 14XX Class 0-4-2PT locomotive 1430 or 1463. Four locomotives of this class have survived – 1420 (South Devon Railway), 1442 (Tiverton Museum), 1450 (LNWR Crewe) and 1466 (Didcot Railway Centre). and two of them, 1401 and 1450, may be seen in action in the 1953 film The Titfield Thunderbolt.

            In this winter of 1954-55 there were no less than 29 “down” trains from Yatton to Clevedon, all of them auto-worked except for the 2.00pm which was a diesel railcar (ex- Bristol Temple Meads 1.5pm); and 30 “up” trains from Clevedon to Yatton, all auto-worked except the 2.17pm which was the diesel railcar making the return journey to Bristol via Yatton and the Cheddar Valley and North Somerset lines. (Actually, the railcar alone was often too small for the number of passengers, so was run as a twin-unit. However, this meant leaving the trailer behind at Yatton in order to avoid the railcar having to run round it at Clevedon, so a 45XX, 57XX or 82XX Class tank locomotive and coaches might be used instead.) There were two extra trains on Saturdays and, from 1st May 1955, fourteen trains on Sundays (no Sunday working before that date).

            Incomprehensible as it would have seemed in December 1954, in less than 9 years Clevedon Station would be closed and the branch line cease to exist. The line was closed to goods traffic on Monday 10th June 1963. The last passenger train – a two-car diesel multiple unit -- left Yatton for Clevedon on Sunday 6th October 1963. Clevedon became an unstaffed halt on Monday 20th April 1964 and, following an abortive attempt to preserve the line, the station buildings were razed to the ground in May 1968. Except for street names, all traces of the railway have been obliterated.




Clevedon Methodist Church


            It was a beautiful morning and after breakfast Jim and I walked past the pool and along Poet’s Walk before going to Church. Reg felt ill and so did not come.

            Rev. P.G. Lewis conducted the service. It was immensely enjoyable. We sang 10 Now thank we all our God, 427 Through all the changing scenes of life, 842 Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, 884 Before Thy throne, O God, we kneel (to the tune of 755 Lord, Jesus Christ, our Lord most dear) and 590 Forth in Thy name, O Lord, I go.

            His sermon was on Matthew 25:24-25,“Then he which had received the one talent came and said … I was afraid”. There were three facts which we should note.

i. God’s gift of responsibility. He leaves affairs largely in our hands. We have great potentialities of responsibility and service because we are free.

ii. Man’s rejection of responsibility. Men were afraid they might lose their “one talent” so they buried it – “ I want to live my own life”. But we are only trustees not proprietors of our own lives. At 11.30am on Sunday there were as many British “Christians” listening to the B.B.C.’s Morning Service as there were in all the churches put together. This was typical mediocre complacency. There were some people who felt they were being called to the Ministry but ignored the challenge and imagined they could serve God just as well in Scientific Research. But we have a responsibility to man as well as to God. The rejection of responsibility was a sin. With a Welfare State the general attitude seemed to be “It’s not my job” and everyone left it to the other man, and talked about the impossibility of being a Christian in a non-Christian community.

iii. The reward of responsibility and penalty of irresponsibility. “I will set thee over many things.” God makes a reckoning with us each day. If we let our capacities dwindle we become incapable of bearing responsibility and God has no place for us.

            Mr. Lewis also gave an extremely good address to the children, and talked about a tempestuous sea-crossing from the Channel Isles and a frail old lady of 84 who was making only her third trip but wasn’t afraid. “I know the pilot” she said.

            Tonight’s preacher was the Clevedon minister, Rev. J. Eddie Swales, and again there was an extremely good service and a large congregation. The hymns were 679 Pleasant are Thy courts above, 235 I know that my Redeemer lives, 780 Master, speak! Thy servant heareth, 665 Sweet is the work, my God, my King, 688 O God our Father, who dost make us one. The sermon was on Acts 10:33 – “Now therefore are we here all present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” We must be there always. Every day, not just Sundays. Thomas was missing when the Lord came … There were magnetic congregations as well as magnetic preachers. Mr. Swales reminded us of Spurgeon’s aphorism that “you can’t kindle a fire if there are ice-bergs in the pew”. All must help together and pray.

            Jim Allwood didn’t come tonight as he wanted to go to “The Reading” for a last drink, but Jack and Reg came. Jack nearly split his sides with laughing when Mr. Swales talked about people writing notes on preachers’ services as I was busy scribbling away as usual. Jack said Mr. Swales was looking at me the whole time. It certainly caused some amusement.

            Nothing much else happened.


The Reverend J. Eddie Swales entered the ministry in 1918 and died in 1961. I should be grateful to receive further information about him, and indeed about any of the ministers and clergy mentioned in the Diary. “Rev P.G. Lewis”, who took the morning service, may have been The Reverend Greville P. Lewis, M.A., B.D, Connexional Secretary of the Local Preachers’ Department, whose books An Approach to the New Testament and An Approach to Christian Doctrine Local Preachers on Trial were expected to study.




            I had a lovely letter from Helen this morning, written on Friday but postmarked 7.30pm yesterday. She says she is really missing me, and to crown it all she has no half-day this Sunday. She thinks I am earning the men’s respect by going to the pub with them even though I don’t drink alcohol, and says she also doesn’t always kneel to say her prayers. Her parents are both unwell, David (home on leave) is a bit fed up, and it is a wonder she is not in sick bay. She wishes I was back and that we could have an evening together, and feels like lying down to die (but not really), and asks me to write soon, which I did straight away. She sends me all her love and two kisses.




            I had a letter from Mam this morning, only short as she has cut her thumb and the bandage was getting in the way. She wants me to write to Dr. Gough and Mr. Balance and invite them for tea on Sunday week, but that is very short notice.

            After Prayers I took the box round and then went to the newsagents to order the papers for this week. It is the same as last week except for an extra Daily Mirror and one less Daily Mail. All the papers today are celebrating the Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill’s 80th birthday.

            I played snooker again tonight.




            I went bird-watching this morning. [I walked down Albert Road and Victoria Road to the beach, and along past the bandstand.] At the pool there were 198 Oyster-catchers, 157 Black-headed gulls, 3 Herring gulls and on the way to West Clevedon many smaller birds, while nearer home, there were another 120 gulls.

            On the way home I bought this week’s John Bull.     

            This afternoon I went for a walk with Jack, down Chapel Hill to the Clock Tower by the Station in the Triangle, then from East Clevedon to the lovely Swiss Valley, about 4 miles.

            England beat Germany 3-1.




            Yesterday there were two people missing from prayers. One was Fred Leigh who said he didn’t intend coming into prayers if he didn’t want to, and the Home was like a Concentration Camp! A pig-headed view because there are few restrictions here, and there is no one who cannot spare 5 minutes a day, four days a week. This morning though, he did attend, and Harry also came in. We sang that lovely hymn, I heard the voice of Jesus say (257, M.H.B.154).

            After prayers Charles and Harry sang some songs. When Jim and I went out it was raining. We went through the town to the West End and back along the front. I bought Illustrated which contained an 8-page [unfinished]

            I had a letter from Mam this morning and wrote back during the day. Mam enclosed a cutting with two readers’ letters from the Birmingham Mail about the B.B.C.’s mispronunciation of the English language.

            After tea I played snooker.




            Today I did one of the silly little things I’ve always wanted to – swim in the sea in December. It was a lovely day and I was determined at least to put my foot in. When Jim and I went out I took my swimming trunks and we went to Ladye Bay along Lovers Walk. It was an enjoyable dip but the rocks hurt my feet and I had to be wary of the high waves knocking me against the rocks. Ladye Bay isn’t the best place for a swim, and beyond the Point the currents are dangerous. High tide was at 11.10am.

            We walked back along the front as far as the Gift Shop where I got Jack 6/-d worth of rock, and home via St. John’s Road.

            After dinner I wrote a letter to Helen and went out for an hour along the front. I bought two tins of toffees for Clarice and Julia. After tea I finished my letter and walked down to the beach.

            Tonight after supper I asked Chris if he would take over as Captain next week and he has agreed to do so. It’s now 9.0pm.




            I had a letter from Helen this morning. She can tell I am much better, she says! Have I found the mermaid I was looking for, and whatever was that girl doing in the middle of the road with her shoes off? She hopes she is never caught doing something as silly as that. Several times yesterday she was wishing I was there with her; it was her day off (not Tuesday as I had thought). If my parents won’t mind she would like to see me in town on Monday evening if possible, but will let me know.

            She is glad I am Captain this week: I am to enjoy the little responsibility. She feels really sorry for my getting up early but perhaps the rough treatment I get from the others will do me good – she is getting rather afraid, and I am not to be surprised if she doesn’t turn up on Monday night! Like me she rarely sleeps with a pillow beneath her head. At the hospital she has two -- she uses one as a cushion in her wicker chair and the other as a barricade to push her head into. She hopes it will please me that for about a week she has read her Bible every night. It would not have done Jack any good to have died, or would it? She hopes I wouldn’t die like that.

            This coming Monday she has to attend a lecture which means going back tomorrow night and wasting the morning but is still hoping for the best. She gives me a riddle to work out but then remembers that it can only be told. She also has something to tell me about one of the P.T.S. nurses who really is a scream. She must finish. She is looking forward to when she can see me again, but it must not be any later than Monday night, and she sends me all her love and two kisses. In a P.S. she hopes my mother and Clarice are better. Her mother is fair, she (Helen) appears to be alright but is sure she is thoroughly run-down.




            This is my last day here at Clevedon. As usual I went to both services. Rev. J.E. Swales preached at the 11.0am service. We sang 659 O day of rest and gladness (to the tune of 701 The Church’s one foundation), 74 Praise to the Holiest in the Height, 841 Jesus, Friend of little children, 479 Fainting soul, be bold, be strong (sung to the tune “Hollingside” for 110), Jesu, Lover of my soul), and the closing hymn 451 I lift my heart to Thee. The readings were Isaiah 5:1-16 and Luke 4:16-30.

            Mr. Swales took as his text Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This passage expresses our need, for we all need rest of body, contentment, satisfaction and peace of mind. Many are going the wrong way to find it and so have a disappointing life. They have a house, a car, food etc., but do they have peace? They achieve their ambition but are discontented. It is perfectly Christian to seek a new social order and the betterment of conditions, but the unrest in the world today is because of people’s empty existence.

i. The rest that is given. Jesus gives us peace of mind. There is the outer world and the inner world of our mind. “Bring it to me,” He says. Bring Him our anger and resentment.

ii. The burden borne. The oxen, ass and camel are beasts of burden, they bear the yoke on their shoulders (whereas the horse is for war). “My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” He says, because we are yoked with Him. When a man marries he doesn’t mind the yoke, it is joy to him.

iii. We are yoked to Christ. In Christian service we find ease, rest and contentment. He lifts the burden of fear, anxiety, anger and secret sin. One million people take sleeping tablets each night. Why?

            Mr. J. H. Laytham preached at tonight’s service at 6.30pm. We sang 41 God is a name my soul adores, 139 The race that long in darkness pined, 135 Stupendous height of heavenly love, 142 Let earth and heaven combine, and 259 And art Thou come with us to dwell. The readings were Psalm 119:97-112 and 2 Corinthians 3:1-11.

            Mr. Laytham’s text was Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Jesus came into a world dark with sin. It was an expression of God’s sorrow for the people, reminding us of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Our reaction should be:

i. To realise God’s love for us – stupendous love, as Charles Wesley tells us in Hymn 142 – and respond to it.

ii. To accept Christ’s birth as a mystery. We might find this difficult but there are many mysteries in life, for instance the mystery of suffering and of sudden death.

iii. To manifest Christ in our own lives. Mr. Laytham referred to Elizabeth Gouge’s The Well of the Star.




            Home again! I was sorry to leave Clevedon after three happy weeks there. I got up before 7.0am as I was rather concerned as to how I was going to get underwear, pyjamas, shaving kit, several books, a towel, four sticks of rock, writing case, ink, camera and binoculars into the small case. But I managed to get everything packed before breakfast.

            After breakfast I said Goodbye to Arthur and Harry, Jim Mulhall, Charles, Dick, Percy, Sid, Tom, Jim Tucker and Oscar. Bob left while we were still having breakfast. The ambulance had to get him to Bristol by 9.0am.

            Matron told me to get a Doctor’s note and come again next May or June. So with a suitcase in each hand and my binoculars swung round my neck I left Victoria Home and caught the 9.10 train [for Yatton, arriving at 9.17]. The Bristol train was just coming in as I stepped down again at Yatton. At Temple Meads I had to cross to Platform 12 for the 10.20am Newcastle train. [A space left here for details of the journey to Snow Hill, Birmingham, and my arrival home.].

            I got to town at 8.50 but it was 9.10 before we saw each other. Helen was standing at the Hill Street corner. I was at the corner near the fountain. We were forty or fifty yards apart when Helen saw me. She turned and walked slowly towards me, and wanted to run to me, and I wanted to run to her, but we kept on walking so self-consciously, and it seemed that an age passed between when we saw each other and when I threw an arm round her. So silly. There didn’t seem to be anything to say for the first few minutes together again. We looked at the lighted Christmas tree with the children’s notes to Santa Claus, and we gazed at the water in the fountain, then we saw the coloured fountain in the Civic Centre, and walked along Broad Street and looked in shop windows.




         [No entry: Helen has a blister on her toe].




            This morning I typed my script and went to the Post Office to post it this afternoon at 4.0pm after spending over an hour hunting for a large envelope. It snowed.

            On the way back I called to see Helen. The doctor had not then called, so Mrs. Walker asked me to stay to tea. Helen’s toe was very badly swollen and obviously painful, but she looked so beautiful sitting curled up in an armchair with a shawl round her shoulders. She set my heart on fire again!

            The doctor called at 6.30pm but by then the blister had burst. Helen insisted on going back when a day in bed seemed called for. She is certainly run down and cried when her mother and I tried to persuade her to go back at 8.30pm. Right now, Helen is finding that the world isn’t always very kind, and that people just don’t live up to the standards we would like them to, and so she is bewildered and frustrated. One always is as one finds one’s dream-world crumbling. I have been trying to warn Helen of this, rather clumsily at times, for months now. In six months time she will probably realise I was telling her the truth. In the meantime she should realise that a Christian has to be a realist even if he is an idealist at heart.

            I think Helen is probably most upset by the fact that a good many of the nurses at Dudley Road swear or smoke or tell smutty jokes and don’t give Christianity a second thought, but she will take many of these things for granted in time, as I learned to do.

            I wish Helen would take a rest. She is making exactly the same mistake I made in thinking it was rather clever, and brave, and noble, to carry on when one’s common-sense says “Stop”. She is overtired and facing a crisis, and like me, things are getting on her mind. I wish she would see sense.

            We persuaded Helen to go back at 9.0pm, so I left her to have a good cry and called for her an hour later, by which time she was looking happier. I took her to the bus and gave her some chocolates. She was limping badly, I could hardly walk because of back-ache, so we made a fine pair!


Dr. Gough received a letter this morning from Professor Frazer. It reads:–


                                                                                                7th December, 1954



Dear Dr. Gough,


                                    Brian Williams,

                                    153, Circular Road,

                                    Acocks Green, Birmingham.


            As I have to make a return to the Ministry of Health, on whose Certificate of Identification Brian Williams has received deferment from National Service, I should be grateful if you could let me have a note about him. In particular, I should be glad to know what you think about his present condition and what progress he is making. It would also be helpful to have some indication with regard to prognosis. His work was very poor indeed just before he went sick, but this, of course, may well have been a temporary trouble, due to his illness. Part of the agreement with regard to deferment involves the periodic report on work in progress. The report for the last quarter is now due, so that I should appreciate any help that you can give me.

                                    Yours sincerely,

                                                            A.C. Frazer




            This morning I spent an hour stitching my gloves then took Ginger for a walk via [Warwick Road], Kineton Green Road and Streetsbrook Road [and back home via Fox Hollies Road and Olton Boulevard East].

            After dinner I wrote a letter to Helen.




            Nothing happened this morning except that I saw Mrs. Walker and said I would go to visit Helen this evening.

            In the afternoon Ginger and I went a walk [via Olton Boulevard East, Shaftmoor Lane and York Road, and then] along Stratford Road from Reddings Lane to Fox Hollies Road. I bought Helen some Kit-Kat chocolate and a Fry’s Chocolate Cream. I nearly had to buy a new cat for the sweet shop as Ginger nearly put the old one to sleep.

            Before going to DRH [Dudley Road Hospital] I went to Walkers’ to collect some knitting. I got to Dudley Road at 7.30pm and stayed until 9.0pm. Helen looked very pretty tucked up in bed. Cuckoo and another friend also came to see her while I was there. I think Helen will be in bed quite a time yet though her foot is getting better. It will keep [her] out of mischief.




Cheaper by rail!


            This morning I went to see Dr. Gough and he signed me off, so I can go back to GHB [the General Hospital, Birmingham] on Monday. It was a lovely morning so I walked down the village with Ginger. As I came past the Church Mr. Dibben was just driving away after marrying Barbara Allen and Ivan Evans. I seemed to meet everyone I knew while I was out, Freda included. She said I looked “exactly the same” – trust somebody to spoil it!

            I came home via Westley Road and Olton Boulevard East. It was still only 11.30am so I went out again, this time to the station. I have decided in future to travel to work by rail. The fare to Snow Hill [and back] is 11d, the same as the return fare [5½ d each way] on the ’bus, and if I travelled to Moor Street [9d return] I could save at least 2/-d a week. There are some very good trains, the 8.36am to Snow Hill (8.49), the 8.40am to Moor Street (8.50), or the 8.45am which goes straight through to Snow Hill in 9 minutes. The 8.51am gets in at 9.5. Alternatively there is the 8.44 am from Spring Road to Moor Street (8.54)

            Birmingham City beat Liverpool 9-1 this afternoon at St. Andrews. Although they lost 3-2 last week at Notts County, they have scored 18 goals in their last three matches! .




            Everyone gave me a great welcome back at Church this morning. Mr. Dibben took the [Boys Brigade Parade] service. We sang 242 Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, 1* Venite, exultemus Domino, 860 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, 257 O come, O come Immanuel and 595 God of almighty love.

            Mr. Dibben preached on Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

1. In Bible days sheep were generally despised as foolish. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). This demonstrates our inadequacy – we are lost sheep. Jesus told of one sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath day and had to be lifted out! (Matthew 12:11). Sheep are poor, feckless, foolish creatures, and many times in the Psalms, God’s people are referred to as sheep. But, Jesus says, His disciples are to be wise as serpents – “the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field” – but harmless as doves. The word “harmless” is given in the margin as “simple”, it means “Unalloyed, of pure breed, single-minded.”

            Jesus was very subtle, as we see from His reply to the tribute money question (Matthew 22:15-22). He was also asked, “Who is my neighbour?” – the one they despised, of course – but He gave a subtle answer. One time, John Wesley was obstructed by a man on the pavement. The man said, “I never get out of the way of fools.” John Wesley, said, “I do.” Nash said, “Your preaching frightens people”, a common report.

2. This subtlety which Jesus spoke of is for one purpose. “Do all things to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Our one-minded purpose is simplicity. Jesus says, “I send you forth” – it is He who has called us, and He says, “Be not anxious.” He is ever at hand to help us.

            Mr. F.J. Green [our Local Preachers’ secretary]was the preacher this evening. We sang 142 Let earth and heaven combine, 34* Psalm 48, 426 Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim, 92 Jesus! The name high over all and 8 O worship the King, all glorious above. The readings were Psalm 34 and John 4:1-26, and Mr. Green preached on John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

1. Why come to Church? Why don’t more people come? Why do we come at all? There are many criticisms of the Church: (a) The services are dull. So we must be vital, vibrant. (b) Religion is irrelevant in life today. (c) Church membership is held far too lightly – anyone can be a member, whereas people require a sponsor or have to pay subscriptions for membership of clubs. (d) Doctrine is too difficult. (e) The Church is divided in itself. (f) The fear of hypocrisy. (g) The reaction of being forced to attend Sunday School etc. We are on show, we are representative of Christians.

2. Worship. (1) Have we come to Church tonight to adore God? (2) in thanksgiving, for life, for every joy? (3) in confession? (4) to petition Him? (5) in intercession? (6) did we say, “I will find rest, peace, quietude”?, which is the same as meditation. (7) in rededication to His service/ Are we someone who is strong, serene, loving ? (8) in forgiveness. The emphasis should not be on sin, our inhibitions, complexes, perversions, hereditary rubbish. We have come for fellowship, we are amongst our best friends. Are we short of a friend? Some people think that fellowship can only be found in the pub. God gives power for us to live, and we find God as we learn to worship Him in spirit and in truth.

            At Y.P.F. we had a Bible Scavenger Hunt devised by Pat.




Back to work


            I went to work today for the first time since October 15th. In some ways it seems a long time ago, but that terrible despair and frustration came back to my mind as though it was only yesterday that I last was there.

            I found plenty of jobs to do, including the cleaning of the animals. Pam has been working in the lab during my absence, and during the afternoon she showed me how to do a Warburg experiment. Pam is leaving at Christmas to have her baby.

            I took tea to work with me as I was visiting Helen at DRH after work. It was raining heavily [0.26 inches fell today] when I left work. I got to Dudley Road Hospital at 6.30pm and stayed nearly half an hour. Helen is very sad, especially as there are now only two patients left in B.10. Poor sweetheart! Obviously she will be in bed two or three days yet. I asked Helen whether she would go to Margate with us in 1955. I don’t expect she will, especially as her parents are thinking of having a holiday themselves.

            Clarice was 15 today.




First time on the train


            Today I went to work on the train for the first time. I didn’t do so yesterday as I was going to DRH in the evening. I caught the 8.45am (dead on time) – Snow Hill 8.54. It went from Platform 4 instead of 2. I was at work for 9.0am. During the day I phoned DRH [Dudley Road Hospital] and then Mrs. Walker at 10.45am as I had promised to do when I went to the Walkers last night. Helen is still in bed and her parents went to see her tonight.

            Not much happened at work. I came home on the 5.10pm train (it used to be the 5.05). This arrived at 5.28 so I was home very conveniently early.




            I.M.L.T. again this morning. I forgot what time the class started and I arrived [at the Medical School] half an hour too soon. The class started early, and I came home to dinner at 12.15pm. John Winrow accompanied me to Bristol Road.

            I decided to go back to work on the 1.55 Moor Street train from Spring Road. It got held up at two points so it was a bit late – 2.12pm. Sometimes one’s travelling companions are most interesting and amusing. There was one topic of conversation in my compartment – fungi!

            At work I started a Warburg experiment but ruined it. I came back on the 5.45 from Moor Street – Spring Road 5.57pm.

            John came at 7.45 for an evening of records.




            A busy day today. I caught the 8.45 train which was five minutes late. I had arrived just in time to catch the 8.51am. Bob Pardoe was in the same compartment.

            I had to wait 15 minutes for Hilary to arrive. I ’phoned Dudley Road and was told Helen would be discharged tomorrow. I also ’phoned Mrs. Walker.

I spent the morning washing up and doing odd jobs. The sink looked as though it had not been washed down for the ten weeks since I last did it. I also found eleven empty milk-bottles. Perhaps we could buy a cow and start a dairy or something.

            After dinner I bought some Christmas cards from Woolworth’s. When I got back I smoked a trace for Alan and later I helped him move his apparatus from one side of the bench to the other so as to leave space for Dr. Schneider. This didn’t take as long as we expected.

            I had a very bad headache all day. I caught the 5.10pm train and travelled home with Iris and Pat. From the station I came up Victoria Road, then as I came past the Walkers’ I thought, “How funny if Helen were to come home tonight instead of tomorrow. She wouldn’t get my letter” (I had scribbled one at tea-time), and then there was Helen coming up the road towards me!

            I stayed with Helen a few minutes. Tonight and Friday night is the K.E.S. Carol Service, and Helen said she expected she would come, but now she has changed her mind, though she is home till December 27th.

            I was very tired when I got in, so I decided to have a bath and go to bed. However, after a bath my headache was much better, so I came down again, ate egg and chips for tea and did a full evening’s work.






            Nothing unusual happened at work. At dinner time I bought some more Christmas cards. I had arranged to meet Mam outside Smith’s at 12.40pm and we went to Lewis’s where I bought Helen a pair of Nylon stockings – Pex brand.

            I went to Club tonight so that I could be included in the football team tomorrow. Helen went to Choir Practice and afterwards we went a short walk. I told Helen I wasn’t now taking her to the Concert on Tuesday as we had planned. If she cannot give up an evening’s Choir Practice to come to a Carol Service after saying she would come, then I am not giving up the Department’s Christmas Party to take her to the concert. Helen still takes me for granted but if friendship is worth while it is no use one giving, the other taking. Helen is making a fool of me by thinking just of herself, though she doesn’t realise she is being thoughtless. She said she was sorry and would not do it again.




            This morning I went to work on the ’bus and got off at the G.P.O. to buy stamps. I spent the morning working and inevitable talking to Louie. Louie is obviously a real Christian.

            I got home at 1.0pm and in the afternoon played outside-left for the Club in a [Solihull and District Youth] League game v. Water Orton. Our opponents were 30 minutes late. We should have scored 5 within twenty minutes but, quite unnecessarily, we lost the initiative and it was 0-0 at half-time. In the second half we scored 4 and missed a penalty, and conceded one. It was a poor game, and the game got out of hand because Len Bowden wasn’t sufficiently firm as referee, and a Water Orton supporter fancied himself in control. The pitch was inches deep in mud and we made the mistake of keeping the ball close.

            At 7.30pm I went to the Club’s Christmas Social held in the Big Hall. Helen wasn’t coming. She said she might drop in but didn’t. I spent the evening with Anne Vickery who seemed glad of my presence if only to help her escape the attentions of Donald Holloway. Philip Mead and Anne no longer go out with each other, so Anne has gone back on the proverbial shelf!

            The evening went far too quickly, ending at 10.0pm. Mr. Thomas (expectant father) presented Barbara and Ivan with a cheque as a Wedding present. I took Anne home at 10.0 and got home at 11.0. As Rosemary saw us holding hands, I guessed someone would hear about it, and sure enough at Church this evening Freda refused to speak to me! Perhaps it was because I didn’t hold Freda’s hand last time I took her home.


Louie is Louise Owen. She lives at 19 Kingsbury Road, Curdworth, Sutton Coldfield, and will became a dear friend and supporter of my ministry for more than 40 years until her death in the late1990’s.




            Mr. Dibben took both today’s services. This morning’s service included the dedication of a lectern memorial to Mrs. Jameson and Miss Marshall, and a baptism [Stephen John Baines, also Roy Matthews]. We sang 132 As with gladness men of old, 751 See Israel’s gentle shepherd stand, 831 Give me the wings of faith to rise, 122 Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, and 140 God from on high hath heard. The reading was from Titus 2:11- 3:7.

            Mr. Dibben’s sermon was on Luke 2:25-26, “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” For the Jews the coming of Messiah signified the salvation of God’s people and the longed-for reign of God on earth. Behind the Christmas story we must see the poverty and squalor in which the people lived, the duplicity of Herod, the suffering of the innocents. In the world today Christ’s conception of love has gone, and people fail to see that God is at work in everything. The people in the Christmas story – Simeon, just and devout, Zacharias and Elisabeth, righteous before God and blameless – were ordinary folk like us, but they experienced God working in their lives, and through the scriptures their names live on.           

            After dinner I cycled to John Winrow’s and asked him to get me tickets for Tuesday’s “Music You Love” concert at the Town Hall.

            Tonight we had a beautiful Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. Mr. Lile played an Organ Voluntary Marche des Rois Mages (Dubois) with a sustained note throughout indicating the star which led them; and an Organ Prelude As with gladness men of old. There followed the Processional Hymn 117 Hark! The herald angels sing; prayer and The Lord’s Prayer; Hymn 142 Let earth and heaven combine; 1st lesson, Philippians 2:1-11; Hymn 127 Cradled in a manger, meanly; 2nd Lesson, Isaiah 9:1-7. The Choir sang O leave your sheep arranged by Kitson; 3rd Lesson, Isaiah 11:1-9; Hymn 130 It came upon the midnight clear; 4th Lesson, Isaiah 35; Choir: Sing, O Heavens; 5th Lesson, Luke 1:26-33, 38; Hymn 131 The first Nowell, the angel did say; 6th Lesson, Matthew 1:18-23; Choir: Peace be with you, shepherds all; 7th Lesson, Luke 2:8-20; Hymn 140 God from on high hath heard; 8th Lesson, Matthew 2:1-11; Hymn 123 Still the night, holy the night; 9th Lesson, Revelation 21:1-7; Hymn 119 Angels from the realm of glory; Prayers, Notices and Offering; Hymn 118 O come, all ye faithful; and the Benediction.

            At Y.P.F. afterwards we had a very interesting talk by Mr. Hudson.


Mr. Dibben took both today’s services but tonight’s was the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. In the margin of the Diary I have penned in my usual green ink (erroneously and obviously at a later date) the hymns for tonight’s service as being: 959 Sing to the great Jehovah’s praise, 958 O God, the Rock of Ages (sung to the tune of The Church’s one foundation), 857 God has given us a Book full of stories, 607 O God of Bethel, by whose hand, 956 Come, let us anew our journey pursue. As three of these hymns come from the “Opening and Closing of the Year” section and one from the “For Little Children” section, they must have been sung at the morning service on Sunday 2nd January 1955. This is now confirmed by my discovery of the original, undated, pencilled notes for the service on which, erroneously, I have written in green ink “19/12/54 6.30pm J.V.D.” This contains not only the above list of hymns, but also the readings from Deuteronomy 26:16-19 and Romans 12, which were the appointed lessons for 2nd January 1955. The preacher was not Mr. Dibben but The Reverend W. Russell Shearer M.A, President of the Methodist Conference.




            I met John outside Grey’s at ten to one today and he gave me the tickets for tomorrow’s concert. Afterwards I went round town trying to get some good Christmas cards but I could get none, not even at the Book Room in Dale End. This year I shall have sent cards to Helen, Freda and Rosemary, Anne, John Winrow, John Maund, Kipper and Phil [Christopher and Philip Martin], Stephen Chadwin, David Torvell, Pat Welch, Margaret (Canada), Jim Allwood, Reg Wareham, Sid Morle, Mr. [Cyril] Plater, Mr. Dibben, the Walkers, Dr. Gough, Dr. Dawes, the Ralphs, Aunt Daisy and Uncle Tom, Uncle Bill and Aunt Doll, Dorothy and Tommy, and our grandparents – 24 cards in all. I could have sent as many again had I been able to afford it.




Music You Love at the Town Hall


            This morning I caught the 8.45am train as usual and before going to work bought my last two cards – for Helen, and Anne. I got these from Osborn’s in Ethel Street. I got in at 9.30.

            During the dinner hour I went to the Birmingham Mail offices and ordered a photograph which I am giving Mam; I also went to Pope’s to get Dad’s Conway Stewart pen repaired. I also had a look at some matching propelling pencils.

            Tonight Helen and I went to the “Music You Love” concert at the Town Hall. Our seats were L11 and 12 in the Upper Gallery. The programme was of Ballet music, George Weldon conducting:

            Suite – La Boutique Fantasque, Rossini-Resphigi

            Suite – La Source (Naila, Goddess of the Spring), Delibes

            Dream Pantomime, Hansel and Gretel, Humperdinck

            Suite – Coq d’Or, Rimsky-Korsakov

            Suite – The Sleeping Princess, Tchaikovsky

            Jamaican Rumba – Arthur Benjamin

            Bolero – Ravel

            Helen looked so devastatingly lovely in her grey dress and frogspawn scarf. When she stretched her arms behind her, I nearly burst a blood vessel.




            At I.M.L.T. class this morning we revised pH and had a tutorial about I.M.L.T. exams. I had my lunch with John in the canteen. I shall be glad to be back again at the Medical School.

            When I got back to work I did a Warburg experiment, a Control, using 2.7ml Bicarbonate Ringer solution and 0.3ml Mecholin [unfinished]




            It was almost one o’clock before I got into bed this morning, but I didn’t feel particularly tired when I got up.

            I went on the 8.45am train with Anne as usual. I spent the morning washing up and tidying up the lab for the afternoon. Only Hilary and Pam were in but Audrey came about 11.0am.

            After lunch I fetched my photo order from the Mail offices and looked at the text-books in the Midland Educational.

            The party didn’t start till late. First Mrs. Smith couldn’t come, then Dr. French. Audrey couldn’t, Alan was late and Dr. Schneider was later still. When we did begin the festivities there were seven of us including Peter Ranwell and Janet. There were cakes, mince-pies, Mam’s shortbread, marshmallows, fruit and cream and trifle. Dr. Schneider also brought a bottle of Barsac and some orange squash, and there was also tea. George Watts was operating and unable to come so we saved him some food, and we took a lot of food to Ward 14 for the patients.

            We exchanged presents – Pam gave me a box of stationery, Alan gave Dr. Schneider a tie and had a book subscription from Hilary. After tea in the office Peter and Alan amused us with a “telepathy” act. We also passed a pair of scissors round … Crossed or Uncrossed?

            Kipper called for me at 7.0 and we spent the evening carolling in Edgbaston. Tonight we had Barbara from whose house we started, Mim, Jennifer, Kipper, Phil, Mike Antcliff and myself. Jill couldn’t come. We sang in a number of roads round and about Hagley Road and the Ivy Bush. At one house we had a £1 note and part of a 2lb box of chocolates. We also called at Perry Haynes’ house – he was part-time Art master during my latter K.E.S. days. About 9.30 Phil and Mike took Mim home on the ’bus, while the remaining four of us went back to Jennifer’s for beer, cider, coffee, biscuits, cakes and pies. We sang four or five more carols but it was well after eleven and we were rather merry and kept on laughing. At last we took Barbara home in the car and Kipper dropped me on the corner just after midnight. It had been a highly enjoyable evening, and we raised £2 19s 11d, making our total at least £5 10s 0d.




            This morning my train was, I thought, on time for once, but after I had been on it a few minutes I realised it was the 8.40 to Moor Street. Anyway, I missed Anne, and funnily enough I missed her again at dinner-time. I caught the 12.40 (first stop Acocks Green, 12.48) and Anne the 12.50. Pat Welch was on my train.

            It was originally intended that we have Christmas Eve off, but so as to have the whole of next week we worked today till midday. First I tidied up after the party and washed up the crockery. I also went up to the kitchen and cleaned the animal cages. By 12.0pm, with Pam’s help, everything was washed up and left tidy for the holiday. Hilary went early, after getting rid of the rats and pigeons. Dr. Schneider came in for five minutes to make a ’phone call. After Pam and I had got our wages I said Goodbye to her. Pam is leaving now to have a baby at the end of February. I hoped it would be a boy or a girl.

            The Thomases had a baby daughter at 1.10am on Wednesday. She will be called Angela Marjorie [spelt Angela Margery Thomas in June 1955 Messenger recording her christening on 20th March]. She weighed 6lb 15oz.

            I was thinking, I had not had a Christmas Eve at home since 1950.

            The Walkers went to Stratford tonight. Helen came at 6.0pm and brought me a card and a present which she made me promise not to open till tomorrow. I gave Helen her present.

            At 7.30 I went carol-singing (fourth time in five nights) with the Y.P.F. We sang in Victoria Road, Sherbourne Road, Broad Road and Warwick Road. It wasn’t a very good evening and unfortunately degenerated into a necking party. At one house we were invited in for biscuits and tea. At the end of the evening I took Anne home and got in myself about 10.15pm. Mam and Dad had just got back from seeing Ivor Novello’s Dancing Years on Ice at the Hippodrome. Dad had the tickets from Stan who recently broke off his engagement and no longer needed them.

            I went to bed at five minutes to midnight.          


SATURDAY 25th DECEMBER (Christmas Day)


            I got up at 7.20am in time to go to the 8.0am Holy Communion at Church. When I got back I took Mam and Dad [a cup of] tea in bed and unwrapped my presents – a waist-jacket, Diary, framed photograph from Mam and Dad; a Filmgoer’s Diary and Tootal tie from Clarice and Julia, and a lovely tie-clip from Helen. Freda gave me a party game. Mam and Dad had already given me a new shaving outfit for Clevedon, and Old Edwardians badge and tie, and there was also my box of stationery from Pam.

            I gave Mam and Dad a copy of the same photograph they gave me. I bought Clarice and Julia purses to match their new handbags.

            At 10.0am I went to the morning service. Mr. Dibben’s text [sermon] was on Luke 2:32, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”. A decision about Christ’s coming and purpose was inescapable. Great Christian men risked staking their trust in Him because they were confronted by facts which were inescapable. It has been said that “All true living is meeting”. It is easy to make a religion of life without God. We must meet God for ourselves. David Hume said, “You don’t believe in God? He believes in you!”

            The hymns were 120 Christians, awake, salute the happy morn, 143 Good Christian men, rejoice, 122 Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, and 125 O little town of Bethlehem.

            After the service Donald Holloway, Phillip Mead and I walked home with Freda. Freda is speaking to me again!

            I spent the afternoon writing my sermon for next Sunday at Gospel Lane.

            Birmingham City lost 1-nil at home to Nottingham Forest. I have only been to one match this year.




            I did not wake till after ten this morning. Mr. Harvey [Rev. E. Bryan Harvey] was the preacher at this morning’s service. We sang 141 To us a child of royal birth, 6 Eternal Power, whose high abode, 860 Away in a manger, 135 Stupendous height of heavenly love, and 143 Good Christian men, rejoice. The lessons were Isaiah 41:8-20 and John 4:1-4. His sermon was on Colossians 1:24-29.

1. As Christians we can rejoice in suffering. We speak of the mystery of suffering. A mystery is something hidden, secret, and therefore attractive; we love mystery stories. The Bible is like a mystery story.

2. In any story there is a plan from the beginning, a pattern there. This is true of God who is the Great Author. We who understand the mystery can conceive an intention there – how much more must God be able? God is not passive. If we fail, i.e. hinder God, we do not stop Him. God has faith in Himself. God has a plan for us, He is at work in us this moment. God called us to Church. There is something to do for Him. If we don’t do it, another will. God is the Author who knows where He is going. God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.

3. We live in a period when all is going wrong, and almost lose faith in the Author. Life is dark sometimes. We face sin, suffering and tragedy. But love is the secret of the Universe (Rudyard Kipling) and we see God’s love revealed in the birth of Jesus. Reason is powerless before grievances. Logic fails for a person who is afraid. But love doesn’t fail. Only love can overcome sin and suffering, therefore the answer is Jesus Christ. Love – God’s love, not ours – is the Answer.

            At tonight’s service conducted by Mr. Terry [Rev. William S. Terry] we sang 142 Let earth and heaven combine, 127 Cradled in a manger, meanly, 125 O little town of Bethlehem, 129 While shepherd watched their flocks by night, and 135 again. The lessons were Isaiah 43 and Philippians 2:1-8.

            Mr. Terry preached on John 1:14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. God wanted to give us a tangible expression of Himself, and therefore He sent Jesus who was the Word made flesh. The inadequacy of modes of expression has led to the creation of great poetry, music and art; the great vision is expressed in great works, especially in praising God in hymns and music. There is a poverty in words which lack sympathy, What is required is a loving heart, a seeing mind and spiritual experience. We must become a fitting medium for Jesus to be revealed in us. The question God faced was where to find a fitting medium to express what He wanted to say. That is why He sent Jesus, full of truth and grace. God gave of Himself in giving Jesus, and there must always be a measure of giving one’s self with one’s gift. That is why we choose our Christmas cards so carefully. In Christ God has given Himself for me. It is sad if a gift is given without response. The gift of God must be responded to. We must give ourselves to Him.

            It was an excellent sermon.


The Reverend William S. Terry entered the ministry in 1919 and was 9 years in Birmingham, the last six in Belmont Row Circuit 1949-55. He became a supernumerary minister in 1963.


MONDAY 27th DECEMBER (Boxing Day)


            I got up late this morning. It was cloudy all day. Blues lost 1-nil at home to Nottingham Forest.  

            Tonight I took Helen to the Rialto to see The Belles of St. Trinians (U) with Alastair Sim (playing the headmistress and her brother Clarence), Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Guy Middleton, and a host of other stars we know. It was hilarious, especially the girls smuggling a horse into the school! The other film was The End of the Road (U) with Finlay Currie, Duncan Lamont and Naomi Chance.




            Nothing happened at all today. Mam stayed in bed as she has influenza and bronchitis and didn’t get up till the afternoon.

            At 7.00pm I had to go out to Mr. W.B. Ault’s house in Kineton Green Road. Mr. Ault liked my sermon and I have only to make two very slight alterations. Having made all the final arrangements we had a short chat over coffee, biscuits and cakes Mrs. Ault had put for us, then after a prayer I came home just before 9.0pm. and took first Ginger and then Dinah for their evening walk.




            It was quite late when I got up this morning. About midday I cycled to Stoney Lane to get some horse-meat, but the shop did not appear to have been open at all and I came home empty-handed.

            I next had to cycle to Knowle to see Mrs. Foster and make arrangements for Dinah to have a vet if one is needed. The pups are due on Sunday. I did not know where Yew Tree House was but I found it almost immediately. It is opposite the ’bus stop.

            In the afternoon I went to the Post Office and to the Library where I got The Saint in Europe – 7 short stories. I also phoned for Dr. Gough to see Mam.

            I cycled to John’s this evening for a musical evening together, and cocktails and sherry.




            We were up at 6.45am. Dinah woke Clarice by squealing a little and we thought Dinah was having her pups already. There was nothing doing but I didn’t go back to bed.

            At 9.30pm I cycled to Stoney Lane and this time got some meat.

            John and I had a really enjoyable evening together. I asked John if I could borrow his CBSO 1953-54 Syllabus as I remembered going to a concert on June 12th but I didn’t make a note of the music played. But the concert was an extra one, and not detailed in the Syllabus. I also got muddled up with the concert I went to on September 28th when Clive Lythgoe was soloist, and I was so intrigued that when I got home (11.15pm) I hunted all over the place trying to find the programme. After quite a search again this morning I found it inside an unused K.E.S. note-book in my bedroom, and solved the mystery. About dinner time I wrote a short letter to John, and sent him the Birmingham Weekly Post’s review of the Mexican film The Bandit which he told me to see.

            John gave me a large number of record envelopes as few of my records have packets to them. In the afternoon I went down the village, but apart from meeting David Walker, nothing happened.

            Mam stayed in all day waiting for Dr. Gough who came at 6.30pm. About 7.00pm Mam went into the shed and found Dinah with as pup! I phoned the vet in case one was needed (it wasn’t) then waited in the shed for the rest of the litter to arrive. The second pup was born at 8.30pm. I spent over an hour writing to Helen.




Memories of 1954


            Dinah did not have another pup after the first two, and it was one o’clock when I got into bed. I did not get up until 12.15pm. Before dinner I listened to The Goon Show, and this afternoon I have completed my letter to Helen and been to the Post Office to post it. I took Ginger down the village with me.

            All being well, tonight I shall be going to the Club’s New Year’s Eve Social and then to the Watchnight Service at 11.15pm. My mind goes back to this time last year. Tonight Helen won’t be there, and I feel a dull ache in my heart because I miss her so.

            In many ways 1954 has been the most important year of my life. I started work and settled down to the routine of College life. I passed my exams. I had articles published in the Birmingham Mail, the Birmingham Weekly Post, the Birmingham News, the Birmingham Gazette and Youth; worked on a couple of plays, had Going the Rounds approved and Music from the Movies broadcast by the B.B.C. I became a member of the Methodist Church in June, began preaching first with the Youth Team and then as a Local Preacher.

            So in many ways I grew up more in 1954 than in any other year. But the most important thing was that I fell deeply in lore with Helen – that had a greater impact on me than anything else.

            There are so many memories I shall always cherish … Going to see Trouble in Store at the Olton, when Michael Brown took Freda and half the Club went … queuing two hours to see The Robe … the night we went to the Bristol and Helen’s heart beat so fast … walking to Knowle in the pouring rain … standing by the canal locks in the stillness and silence of a summer evening … seeing Helen in her tennis shorts … going to a concert for the first time together … distributing National Children’s Home envelopes in Station Road … meeting Helen on the 1A ’bus on Fridays … the look on her face the first time I kissed her …[code words] … Going to London with the Mission … the time Helen plucked up courage … the first time I saw her after returning from Margate … seeing her curled up in a chair, and wearing odd socks when she had a bad foot … saying Goodbye at Church … taking her back to Dudley Road at ten past eleven – so very many memories which mean so much. We had our disagreements and upsets, hurt each other and lost our tempers, but I love her in a way no words can do justice to. Now I am praying that Helen may come to love me if it be God’s will, and that she will be my wife one day. I know with absolute certainty that it was a Divine Providence which brought us together.

            I don’t think I shall ever again go to a cinema alone. In 1954 we went to the cinema thirty times, and I took Freda once. The most outstanding films were The Robe, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Moon is Blue, Doctor in the House, Knock on Wood, Life in the Arctic, Kiss Me Kate, Dial M for Murder and (from 1953) Roman Holiday. What great entertainment these were! In the “very good” class were The Caddy, Trouble in Store and The Glass Web, Money from Home, Androcles and the Lion, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Runaway Bus, Forbidden Cargo, Conflict of Wings, Happy Ever After, The Sea Around Us and The Belles of St. Trinian’s. And I liked Park Plaza 605, Beneath the Twelve-Mile Reef, Susan Slept Here. I didn’t like Vicki.

            Performances I liked. Everybody in The Robe, Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire, Alan Young in Androcles and the Lion, the cast of The Moon is Blue, the students in Doctor in the House, Danny Kaye in Knock on Wood, David Niven in Happy Ever After, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

            One last film I should mention as being especially memorable was I Beheld His Glory. Now Birmingham is awaiting another religious film, one that has caused much controversy already, Martin Luther which comes to the Scala on January 9th. I also want to see The Billy Graham Crusade.

            I’ve followed radio and TV even less this year. Offhand, I do not recall seeing a good play except 1984.

            As usual I have followed the weather very closely and shall probably remember 1954 as atrocious. We had 35.345 inches of rain, 6.570 inches in the first quarter (1st January to 31st March), 6.640 in the second, 10.010 in the third and 12.125 inches in this final quarter up to and including today (we have had not a drop of rain since before Christmas). The wettest days were Friday 5th November (0.945 inch) and Wednesdays 28th July and Friday 20th August (both 0.735 inch). By comparison only 0.625 inch of rain fell during the whole of April.

            Looking at the corresponding figures for sunshine for the four quarters they are 167.2 hours of sunshine (January-March), 371.7 hours (April-June), 392.8 hours (July-September) and 182.6 hours (October-December. We had 87 sunless days during the year (29, 7, 13 and 38 for the four quarters respectively). There was not a glimmer of sunshine for 6 consecutive days 14th-19th February and 18th-23rd November, and only 12 minutes of sunshine in 10 days 13th-22nd March. The sunniest days of the year were Thursday 24th June (Midsummer Day) with 12.1 hours and Saturdays 19th and 26th June with 10.3 hours. The hottest day of the year was 80 degrees on Wednesday 1st September, and that week Sunday 29th August to Saturday 4th September was the warmest, the mean maximum daily temperature being 69.7 degrees.