1968: WEEK 21
“It’s not quite as hilarious a situation as I thought it was.”
Monday, 20 May
Got up late at 10 past 8 so I felt horribly un-like school.
Anya and me played tennis first two periods. Did hopelessly. I won 6-2.
Discussed the French riots in German conversation. Laura Newsome drives me mad. Her attitudes are so apathetic, so middle-aged and lower middle-class. No really, she does. She said she thinks the students are all stupid, they should count themselves lucky they can go to University at all, and they make Paris a dangerous place. Oh what utter rubbish. They haven’t even touched on violence, it was the police who started that, and why on earth can’t you rebel against something you find nauseating? If they don’t complain about French education it will go on being the same as it was in Napoleon’s time, for ever. Heavens, what a state a country would be in if its young people were as self-satisfied as Laura N.
Anya has been going out with Talcum Powder for six months! Staggering how time flies.
Panorama was on France, of course. It’s not quite as hilarious a situation as I thought it was. There aren’t any buses or trains, and the petrol pumps may have to come to a standstill.
Tuesday, 21 May
Lovely English lecture on the Gothick novel given by that sweet young teacher Miss Ree. Hilarious extracts, eg. “frogs dragged their loathsome bodies over her bosom…”!
At dinner break Anya and me had to do hall-duty. No records to play so rather boring but Maggot and her friend came and chatted and tried to scrounge food. Anya is rather worried that Manuel and his friends compose his “grand amour” letters to her, together.
Play rehearsal after school. Miss Gatley was a terrible help and did my ghastly soliloquy scene for me.Why Christa has never taught us anything I don’t know. Then this Paul chap arrived, very actorish. First he got us in a circle wiggling our hips; then we did these improvisations. Two girls had to pretend they were in a dark street and we had to throw chairs making a din in order to distract them! I would love to go to drama school some day. Finally we got down to acting. He told me I must be hen-peckish, I must gabble more, and my walk must be brisker. Wish we could have him as a director I must say.
Eileen and Alan and the Gibbs came for dinner. Wish they weren’t all so conservative. I suppose it’s partly their age, I mean Gobbo is at least 70. Lady Gibbs and Eileen are awfully nice though. Had fabulous salmon and spring-like veg.
Wednesday, 22 May
We were looking at ‘Woman’ before Prayers. It’s a pretty grotty magazine but the problem page was entertaining. This woman was very worried her daughter was in love with a boy with long hair and a furry jacket, who argued with her husband about politics. The reply said it just shows what intelligence this boy must have, not to go following in the footsteps of his parents’ generation. Then Martha said her father is like that woman.
We all went along to a Christian meeting at break given by a 20-year-old student - Martha roped us into it. He was terribly sincere but blinded by faith. He believes that because he gets ‘answers to prayers’ he has got through to God. He thinks if you’re a Christian you go to Heaven and if you’re not, you go to Hell (oh those poor Muslems!). Sarah said, “well, I don’t particularly relish the idea of floating around somewhere for eternity!” Just like Life Assurance, the driving motive is fear. The whole thing is quite idiotic.
Changed into new blouse and we went to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and met Pa in the restaurant. I had pâte, sole, and fresh peaches in brandy. Then the play began: ‘Robert’s Wife’. It was rather disappointing, though I never said so. Went home with Ma in the Volkswagen, and Chump with Dad in the Merc. Felt miserable, partly because I was disappointed with the play but mostly because I only go out with my parents. The only young people I know are at school. It’s a fact - I have no other friends in the world. I don’t know a single boy. My outlook is so limited, I meet no new people whatsoever, and to think I’m coming on for 18 - I’ll never be 17 again. Yet the year in which you’re 17 should be one of the most carefree years of your life: you’re old enough to rave it up, and young enough not to worry about going steady.
I have no relationships to think about, no boy to understand and love me, nothing.
Thursday, 23 May
It is quite incredible. The P.O. have decided that instead of issuing you with four free phone directories for London they are going to have 20, and you’re only allowed to have the directory which includes your area. Therefore if someone happens to live in any 19 of the other areas you have to ring up Direct Enquiries and this will cost you one shilling. I don’t think I have ever heard of anything quite so demented.
I’m suddenly rather worried about these French strikes - my pen friend will be coming to England on July 4th. And there’s no post or anything.
Did Act 3 after school, and went down to town with Christa. She told me Miss Gatley thinks I’m coming on well and she herself thinks I’m very good. Praise at last!
Julie Driscoll on T.O.T.P. - refreshingly original. Real music, as opposed to commercial. She was wearing a gorgeous frilly maxi-dress with a floppy hat and ostrich feathers.
Ma’s reading Harold Nicholson’s diary at the moment and she thinks he and Victoria Sackville-West (his wife) were people with ideal values. Pa agrees. He thinks the people who really know how to live life are, in most cases, artists. They’re not interested in material wealth, and they put spiritual quality into life. One day I hope I’ll know what this really means. I must do something creative myself - act, write, or paint. The trouble is, I don’t think I’ve got the capabilities.
Friday, 24 May
Schones Wetter zum ersten Mal seit elf Tage! So at dinner break we had lunch out on the terrace.
In Political Theory we discussed which was the more important - ‘A’ Level lessons or General Studies. It ought to be G.S. I suppose, but I don’t think it is with me because fortunately I come from a pretty educated family.
Dress Rehearsal - first one! It was very enjoyable. Fifi did my hair beautifully - all up with a parting down the middle. Tig looks fantastic - she’s got such a beautiful orange dress with huge sleeves, a white sash under the bust and a square neck. All the costumes are black, grey, white and orange. I think Claire is marvellous, and the scenery is terrific too, all white with an orange curtain in the background. I have the most fab things to do: boil eggs, cut bread, make coffee. For the wedding I wear a black skirt, a beige jacket, a hat, a lace handkerchief, and an 1800s’ parasol. For the funeral it’s the same, but with a black jacket. I know my words pretty well, but my cues and my exits are dreadful.
I do hope Pa will understand it; he’s so scathing about things. I don’t think we’re going to get much of an audience, especially on Wednesday - it’s Derby Day and the Cup Final.
Saturday, 25 May
It would have to drizzle the day of the tennis tournament.
Went down to the garden to get some flowers. Honestly - the azaleas! Our tennis court must be one of the most beautiful in the world. Inspected the pool to see how it’s coming on - they only have the tiles to do now. When you’re in the pool you’ll get the most marvellous ant’s eye view of the orchard.
Did homework in dribs and drabs - no free time at all. Ma had to provide a real tennis tea for Mr Holloway and Edda Carr and her partner Mr Alexander.
Chump and me saw a perfectly beautiful programme on BBC2 on Dr Johnson’s trip to Scotland and his ‘jaunt’ with Boswell around the Western Isles. It started off in a most gorgeous way. Dr Johnson got out of the coach, trotted over to the edge of the lake, and went to the loo! He was such an eccentric character but very kind and gentle underneath. Something interesting Boswell said: why is it that memories become more beautiful with time? This is perfectly true. I never worshipped Dutronc at the time, but since, I have treasured the memories more each day.
Then saw Peter Ustinov (without his beard!) talking about his new play ‘The Unknown Soldier and His Wife’. We saw it being rehearsed, which was great for me, being in the midst of a play myself.
My hair has never been so lank.
Sunday, 26 May
I don’t know why - perhaps it was because I couldn’t get my German vocab right - but I felt absolutely foul and my nerves were all on edge. I couldn’t even bear Chumpy humming.
Schlata came for lunch with two boxes of Smarties and we showed her around the garden, which enthralled her. It looks incredible at the moment: the azaleas, the bluebells, the rhododendrons, and, in the bog garden, the wild poppies in bright oranges and yellows. Had a marvellous lunch out on the terrace, with pizza (somehow even better than usual) and almond pudding. We discussed arty things mostly.
Ma took me to school for the dress rehearsal and Schlata came to see the Sixth Form Unit. I left out a line of my speech with Mrs Gibbs and came in too late for the one with Emily, so I was put right off. Pam was the back end of the horse, which was hilarious. The Downs was in chaos going home because of the races, and Chump is miserable because there’s no time to go to the Fair. I think she’s also miserable that I have no enthusiasm to go anymore. Of course I’d love to go, but not with my parents. I feel so stupid going around with them at a fair.
Chump started crying because she’s got no friends to play with ever, which made me feel even more miserable, because I’m 17 and much worse off. I so wanted to pour it out to Daddy but I couldn’t as he was preoccupied with Chump. I feel unhappy for both Chump and me now. It’s not as if we are an exactly unfortunate pair, but right now everything seems to be going wrong.