Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 30, 1979-81
1 September 1979 – 31 August 1981
Themes: Impressions of fellow hostellers during a five-week cycling holiday in North Wales while planning a campaign on Irish reunification (9.13-10.17); “I have come back after forming the intention of making another effort to rally the anti-imperialist forces on the Irish question”(10.19) – Deciding to give up his flat in London and make Liverpool/Birkenhead his base in Britain thereafter (10.31) – Criticising the CPGB for “failing to defend their fundamental philosophy”(10.24) and ideologically collapsing before the “academic Marxists”, whom he calls “Laputa”, or the “Grand Academy of Lagado” (11.7,11.10) – “I told him the less [the CP] did on the Irish question, the better I’d be pleased” (11.3) – Negotiations with the ITGWU General Secretary Michael Mullen on his book on the Union history: “[Mullen] complained that there was not enough Connolly in it. The Union did not support the Rising and did not even protest at Connolly’s execution; but Connolly is now an asset whereas then he was a liability.”(12.12) – Irish Sovereignty Movement delegation to London to support the Declaration of Intent demand, which “Official” Sinn Fein’s support-group in Britain, Clann na hEireann, seeks to influence the CPGB to oppose(12.12) – Decision to confine himself to Vol.1 of the ITGWU history and abandon the envisaged three-volume work in face of Michael Mullen’s proposal that SFWP member Des Geraghty and a committee give guidance on the latter (2.9) – “I find it difficult to know what project to turn to next. There are several in my mind.”(2.5) – Noel Gordon succeeds Eddie Cowman as Connolly Association organiser – Division between CP “hardliners” and “soft-liners” at a Marx Memorial Library annual general meeting (4.26) – Seeking to revive the Connolly Association branch in Liverpool and resolving to concentrate on improving the “Irish Democrat” once the ITGWU History is out of the way (5.3) – Giving one of the RTE’s Thomas Davis radio lectures on “Sean O’Casey and Socialism” – Launch of the song-book, “The Easter Rising in Song and Story”(5.28) – British Trade Unions object to the raising of the Partition question in Britain out of concern at the reaction of their members in Ireland (6.9) – Establishing the correct birth-date of James Larkin in Liverpool and in the process discovering possible Catholic family connections of his own (8.17) – Writing on “Ireland in English Literature” – Organising retirement events in Liverpool and London for Betty Sinclair, former secretary of the Belfast Trades Council – Organising a tour of places of Irish interest in Liverpool – “Joe Deighan told the conference that Stormont was doomed when the Connolly Association decided to go for civil rights, but that many of them in Belfast wished the credit to themselves.”(11.30/2) – Representing his neighbours in a local planning tribunal hearing in Birkenhead (2.19/2) – Concern at rising Cold War tensions: “He thought the British CP should ‘take up’ any issues of human rights anywhere in the world, socialist countries included, and does not appear to give much heed to the dangers he might incur. I warned him that it was possible to coin the slogans for the Third World War. Now I have never idealised the socialist countries in the sentimental way common a few years ago. What I am concerned with is not having a war with them.” (6.3/2) – Interaction with a “Committee for Withdrawal”, consisting of Liberal, Trotskyist and CPGB elements that supported the “Official” Sinn Fein’s Clann na hEireann (6.25/2 et seq) – Organising letters to the press in support of the Long Kesh hunger-strikers (7.21/2) – Labour Party Executive outflanking the CPGB by going in principle for a united Ireland: “Benn had lunch with me and asked questions … and I explained my reasons for not wanting the Labour Party to lay down too many details but be content at this stage to state the objective of a united Ireland. One or two of the old stagers remarked to me that we had come a long way from the days when we couldn’t get a question in the House of Commons” (7.25/2) –“I read some of the ‘Communist University of London’ report, ‘Silver Linings’ … It ought to be entitled ‘Thick Fog’. If this is the theoretical pabulum of the CPGB then it is in a very, very bad way. The only saving possibility is that there is so widespread a contempt of all theory, that the practical men will just go on as always by rule of thumb, and though they will have no theory to do them good, they will come to no harm from something they will totally ignore.” (8.17/2) – Cultivating his vegetable garden in Prenton, Birkenhead, whenever time and the weather permitted – An interpolations by Dr Roy Johnston taking issue with some of Desmond Greaves’s remarks about him, inserted in the original Journal following a request to the Editor (8.14)
Index to Volume 30 of Desmond Greaves’s Journal
[Editorial Note: In this and all the volumes of the Greaves Journal from No.28 to No.38 the Index is placed at the beginning rather than the end of each volume, the better to facilitate internet readers seeking knowledge of that particular volume’s contents.
The text of this Volume 30 of the Journal therefore follows rather than precedes the Index below.
In the Index references throughout, the month comes first and then the day of the month. Thus 6.7 means June 7th, 1.25 means January 25th, 12.4 means December 4th and so on. Where the entries in a particular volume extend beyond one year so that monthly dates are repeated, as in this Volume 30, which covers two years, the figure (2) is attached to each entry for the second year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 9.16,12.16, 9.30(2), 1.1(2), 5.17(2), 5.25(2)
Assessments of others: 9.21-22, 9.28, 9.30, 10.1, 10.4, 10.27, 11.3, 11.11,
12.24, 6.25,10.8-10(2),10.16(2), 11.17(2), 11.31(2),12.20(2),
1.1(2), 1.24(2),1.28(2), 2.4(2), 2.15(2), 2.19(2), 3.28(2), 5.12(2),
6.3(2), 8.4(2), 8.13(2), 8.17(2)
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 9.28,12.31, 8.13, 10.8(2)
Campaigning in Britain for Irish reunification: 9.6,10.6, 10.19, 3.2, 5.3, 6.8-9,
6.15, 1.10(2), 3.6(2),6.28(2), 7.1(2), 7.9(2), 7.14(23), 7.21-22(2),
7.25(2), 7.31(2), 8.7(2)
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 9.6, 6.9, 11.30(2)
European supranational integration/the EEC: 11.11, 8.10, 10.18(2)
Family relations: 4.28, 7.14, 9.22(2), 11.24(2), 1.12(2), 6.3(2)
Holidays/cycle tours: 9.13-10.17, 10.07-28(2)
ITGWU history research: 9.15, 12.12, 12.16, 7.28, 7.21, 8.30, 9.12(2),1.4(2)
Meteorology, interest in: 9.13, 5.26, 10.4(2),1.3(2),1.14(2), 6.23(2),7.4(2),
Sean O’Casey research: 10.22, 5.7, 9.3(2), 9.27(2)
Self-assessments and personal plans: 9.9, 9.27-28, 10.1, 10.19-20, 10.27,
10.31, 11.2, 11.25-26, 11.29, 1.1, 1.15, 1.21, 1.24, 2.5, 2.7, 2.9, 2.11,
2.13, 3.26, 3.30-31, 4.10, 5.3, 6.9, 6.26, 6.30, 7.31, 8.11, 8.18, 8.30,
9.12(2), 11.11(2),12.11(2), 1.10-11(2), 1.13(2), 1.19(2) 1.31(2),
2.7(2), 2.19(2), 5.5(2), 5.7(2), 6.3(2), 7.13(2), 7.25(2), 8.5(2)
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Partition of Ireland League: 7.21(2)
British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO): 10.27, 11.2,11.28
British Peace Committee: 1.18
Clann na hEireann: 11.1,11.28, 2.26, 3.19, 3.27, 3.31, 4.27, 5.1, 5.3, 5.11,
6.9, 9.12(2), 10.31(2), 11.6(2),11.10(2),11.30(2), 2.21(2), 4.4(2),
6.17(2), 6.19(2), 7.12(2)
Committee for Withdrawal: 6.14, 6.18, 9.12(2), 11.17(2), 1.15(2), 1.28(2),
2.18(2), 3.6(2), 3.12(2), 4.6(2), 5.10(2), 5.22(2), 6.19(2), 6.25(2),
7.3(2), 7.30(2), 8.5(2)
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 9.8, 9.28, 10.1, 10.24, 10.31,
11.3, 11.25, 12.21, 12.24, 12.31, 1.5, 1.8, 1.14-15, 1.20-21, 2.9-10,
2.14, 2.19, 2.27, 3.1, 3.8, 3.19, 3.25-27, 3.30, 4.21, 4.30, 5.3, 5.8,
6.9, 7.6, 7.30, 8.10, 8.21, 11.8(2), 11.10(2), 11.16(2), 11.30(2),
12.18(2), 1.10(2), 1.24(2), 2.3(2), 2.7(2), 2.21(2), 2.26(2), 3.13(2)
3.19(2), 3.21(2), 3.27(2), 4.4(2), 5.5(2), 5.22(2), 6.3(2), 6.11(2),
6.17(2), 7.6-8(2), 7.12-13(2), 7.22(2), 8.8(2)
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 9.6, 9.10, 10.19, 10.28, 11.25, 11.28, 1.29,
2.26, 3.30, 4.21, 6.20, 7.16, 7.30, 11.30(2), 3.27(2), 4.4(2)
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 11.25, 12.12, 12.21, 12.31, 1.2, 2.7,
2.14, 2.19, 3.8, 3.19, 4.21, 6.30, 8.21, 9.28(2), 11.30(2), 12.13(2),
1.10(2), 1.29(2), 2.26(2), 3.12(2), 3.19(2), 4.23-24(2), 5.23(2),
5.31(2), 6.25(2), 7.13(2), 7.21-22(2), 7.25(2)
Irish Labour History Society: 4.13(2)
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 11.4, 11.14, 11.20, 12.12, 1.2, 2.15, 7.31,
6.25(2), 7.3-4(2), 7.13(2)
Irish Transport and General Workers Union: 9.15, 12.12, 12.16, 7.28, 7.21,
Labour Committee on Ireland: 6.18, 6.28. 9.7-8(2).1.15(2), 5.28(2), 7.14(2),
7.30-31(2), 8.1(2), 8.6(2)
Labour Party (British): 10.6, 12.15(2), 2.18(2), 7.9(2), 7.25(2)
Liverpool Trades Council: 1.24, 4.19, 9.25(2),11.29(2), 2.15(2), 4.1(2),
4.18(2), 5.20(2),5.22(2), 5.31(2)
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF)/Liberation: 9.1,10.19, 10.27
National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL): 9.3,1.19, 1.15(2),1.28(2)
National Front: 9.27(2)
New Communist Party: 5.18, 7.16, 11.8(2), 11.21(2), 1.30(2), 1.17(2),
2.20(2), 3.13(2),5.12(2), 6.3(2)
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Officials” (SFWP/“Stickies”): 10.24, 11.14, 11.25, 12.12, 1.19,
1.21, 2.9, 2.28, 3.15, 3.19, 3.25,4.10-11, 6.9, 6.18, 7.30, 8.11,
4.4(2),4.13(2), 4.18(2), 5.27(2), 6.19(2), 8.20(2)
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Provisionals”: 9.1, 1.1, 6.14-15, 10.31(2),11.13(2), 1.10(2),
1.15(2), 5.6(2),6.7(2), 7.12(2), 7.25(2) 8.20(2)
Troops Out Movement: 7.22, 8.13, 1.6(2), 8.6(2)
Trotskyist and ultra-left organisations: 5.2(2), 5.28(2), 5.30(2)
Workers Music Association: 9.17(2)
Young Communist League:10.1, 8.7, 8.14
Personal Names Index
Abbott, Syd: 1.15
Allaun, Frank MP: 2.7(2)
Alton, David MP: 2.18(2)
Althusser, Louis: 4.19
Anderson, Brian: 7.4(2)
Arnison, Jim: 11.10(2), 11.13(2)
Arnot, R.Page: 2.26(2)
Arrowsmith, Pat: 4.30
Asmal, Kader and Louise: 11.2
Banks, Marion: 3.25, 3.30, 4.27, 9.20(2), 1.10(2), 1.19(2), 2.21(2), 4.4(2),
Behan, Dominic: 9.17(2), 3.3(2)
Benn, Tony: 10.20, 10.2(2), 10.4(2), 6.28(2), 7.9(2), 7.25(2)
Bennett, Erna: 11.4
Bennett, Jack: 6.14
Bew, Paul: 5.6, 6.30, 7.8, 7.28
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 11.1, 11.25, 2.9, 5.19(2), 5.30(2)
Bowers, Joe: 9.20(2), 9.23(2), 9.27(2), 11.30(2), 1.10(2), 2.18(2), 5.10(2),
Brennan, Irene:11.3, 11.14, 1.29, 3.18, 4.27, 9.12(2), 11.14(2), 1.15(2),
2.18(2),3.21(2), 5.17(2), 7.12-13(2), 7.22(2), 8.14(2)
Brockway, Fenner: 2.7
Bush, Alan: 5.28
Byrne, Maggie: 7.13(2)
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 9.6, 10.20, 3.25(2)
Carrillo, Santiago: 6.3(2)
Carroll, John: 2.4, 3.15
Carron, Owen MP: 8.20(2)
Charles, Wilf: 11.18(2), 2.7(2)
Chater, Tony: 2.3(2)
Clancy, Paddy (ITGWU): 11.2, 1.18, 2.4, 3.1, 3.8,3.12, 4.9-10, 7.28, 7.31,
Clinton, Mark: 10.28
Cohen, Gerry: 10.25, 12.24, 5.3
Comerford, Maire: 4.28, 6.19, 4.11(2)
Connolly, James: 12.12, 12.16, 2.13(2)
Connolly O’Brien, Nora: 11.16(2)
Cook, David: 12.24
Cosgrave, Jim: 12.10
Costello, Fergal: 11.12
Costello, Mick: 2.7(2)
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 9.1, 10.17, 11.3-4, 11.23, 11.26-27, 11.29, 12.3,
12.12, 12.15-16, 1.2, 1.14, 2.15-16, 3.11, 3.15-18, 4.21, 6.13-14,
6.17, 7.8, 7.28, 8.1, 8.24-25, 9.18(2), 10.3(2) 11.29(2), 12.2(2),
12.20-21(2),12.23-28(2), 2.12(2), 3.13(2), 4.11-12(2), 5.27(2),
6.5(2), 6.9(2), 7.2(2), 7.4(2), 7.14(2), 8.1(2), 8.5(2), 8.7(2), 8.18-
Cowman, Eddie: 9.3, 10.20, 10.23, 10.27, 11.1, 11.14, 11.25, 12.1, 12.10,
12.12, 12.20, 1.5, 3.25, 6.7, 7.10, 7.14, 8.7, 1.1(2), 4.10-11(2),
Cronin, Sean: 7.31
Crotty, Raymond: 8.24
Crowe, Michael: 4.21, 8.10
Cunningham, Charlie: 11.18, 12.1-2,12.19, 3.23, 3.25, 11.23(2)
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 3.23, 3.26(2)
Curran, Gerard: 12.2, 2.23, 6.7, 7.12, 3.26(2)
Dalyell, Tom MP: 12.12
D’Arcy, Margaretta: 11.16(2)
Davison, Madge: 3.24, 6.11(2), 8.15(2)
Deane, Frances: 2.7(2)
Deighan, Joseph: 11.30(2)
Devine, Francis: 11.1, 11.12, 11.14, 3.15, 6.17-18, 8.18
Devine, Gloria (see Finlay):
Devlin, Paddy MP: 5.27(2)
Dobson, Frank MP: 12.12, 4.6(2)
Dooley, J.L. “Pat”: 7.21(2)
Doyle, Bob: 5.31(2)
Draper, Lenny: 3.28, 6.7, 2.22(2), 5.22(2)
Dunne, Bill: 2.14
Durkin, Tom: 10.27, 2.5(2), 2.21(2), 3.3(2),4.23(2)
Dutt, R. Palme: 11.11, 9.2(2), 7.13(2)
Evans, Moss: 7.14(2)
Falber, Reuben: 1.15, 2.3(2)
Feehan, Tadhg: 7.31(2)
Field, Frank MP: 12.1(2), 12.4(2), 12.13(2)
Finlay, Gloria, formerly Devine: 4.21, 4.26
Fitt, Gerry MP: 3.27, 8.20(2)
Flynn, Philip: 6.14
Freeman, John: 2.18(2)
French, Sid: 7.6
Gallacher, Willie MP: 1.15, 7.13(2)
Geraghty, Desmond: 11.2, 2.9, 2.15, 2.28, 3.11, 3.15, 4.10, 7.28, 7.31,
Gibson, John: 10.31, 12.31, 4.8, 5.15, 7.6, 12.18(2)
Gilbert, Tony: 9.3, 10.25
Gill, Ken: 12.12,6.19(2), 7.3(2), 7.11(2), 8.5(2)
Gilmore, George: 9.29(2)
Gordon, Noel: 10.23, 11.25, 11.29, 12.1,12.12, 12.20, 1.5, 1.17, 2.14, 3.31,
6.7, 6.24, 8.24, 9.9(2), 1.17-18(2), 2.18(2), 2.26(2), 5.31(2), 6.8(2),
6.26(2), 7.1-2(2), 7.11(2), 7.13(2), 7.22(2), 8.5(2), 8.7(2), 8.17(2)
Goulding, Cathal: 11.4, 3.15
Graham, Jimmy: 8.17(2)
Guy, George: 3.25
Harris, Eoghan: 3.15
Harris, Noel: 7.24(2), 8.5(2)
Havekin, Alf: 7.21(2)
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 2.7
Heffer, Eric MP: 2.18(2)
Henrotte, Esther: 7.6
Hensey, Pat: 11.18
Hillyard, Paddy Prof.: 1.2
Hoffman, John: 2.19
Hostettler, John: 5.9-10
Huggett, Stephen:12.2, 2.9, 2.13-14, 3.21, 8.11, 4.16(2)
Hyman, Joan: 12.12
Jackson, TA: 9.8, 9.28, 10.21-22, 10.24, 7.13(2)
Jacques, Martin: 3.12, 4.26
Johnston, Roy: 11.3-4, 11.6, 11.11,6.20, 8.14, 8.12(2), 8.17(2)
Kapp, Yvonne: 10.24
Kay, Jack: 7.24, 11.5(2), 12.18(2), 1.24(2), 3.19(2), 6.3(2), 8.24(2)
Kelleher, Derry: 6.17
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Michael: 6.25-26
Kelly, Roger: 3.31, 8.7
Kennedy, Donal: 11.1(2), 4.27(2), 5.20(2), 5.30-31(2), 6.27(2)
Kennedy, Fintan: 10.20, 2.4, 3.15
Kilcommins, Danny: 7.24
Kitson, Alec: 7.14(2)
Klugman, James: 12.24
Larkin, Denis: 9.14(2)
Larkin, James: 8.7, 8.21, 8.27, 9.14(2)
Lee, Frank: 7.21(2)
Lee Prof.Joe: 7.28
Lenin, VI: 9.2
Levenson, Sam and Lee: 11.5, 6.19, 8.1
Lowery, Robert: 3.4, 4.1, 9.2-3(2), 9.28(2)
Loveman, Alice: 7.6
Lyne, Gerard [See O Luanaigh):
McCartney, Prof. Donal: 7.28
McCarthy, Prof. Charles: 6.27
MacEoin, Uinseann: 4.11(2), 5.10(2)
MacEoin, General Sean: 12.13(2)
McGill, Jimmy: 1.23(2)
MacGiolla, Tomás: 11.4, 2.9
McLaughlin, Alf: 3.24, 4.11
MacLaughlin, Cath and Pat: 11.30(2)
MacLaughlin, Eamon: 10.28
McLennan, Gordon: 10.25, 11.14, 12.24, 2.27, 3.8, 3.12, 3.28, 4.10, 5.11,
6.8, 8.10, 9.16(2), 9.27(2), 11.6(2), 12.3(2), 1.19(2), 2.11(2),
4.23(2), 5.23(2), 6.19(2), 6.27-28(2), 7.8(2), 7.12(2)
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 10.19, 11.4, 2.4, 4.10, 6.17, 7.28, 8.23
McMurray, Helen: 190.23, 11.7, 11.10, 5.11, 5.18, 7.10, 11.21(2),1.17-
MacThomáis, Eamon: 8.5(2)
Maynard, Joan MP: 12.12, 1.15
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina
Mikardo, Ian MP: 3.22
Mitchell, Jack Prof.: 5.7, 5.11, 8.25, 4.7(2)
Morgan, Austen: 2.13(2)
Morgan, Barney: 10.30, 1.20, 1.22, 6.26, 7.6, 11.4(2), 2.4(2), 2.7(2)
Morrissey, Michael: 11.7, 1.14, 5.6, 5.11, 8.13(2), 8.17(2)
Mortimer, Michael: 1.20(2), 2.24(2), 6.11(2)
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 3.13, 6.11, 7.15, 9.12(2),
12.5(2), 12.9(2), 3.12(2)
Morton, Alisoun: 12.9(2), 12.30(2), 1.1(2)
Mulcahy, John: 1.6
Mullen, Michael: 9.9, 10.20, 11.2, 11.8, 11.12, 11.14, 11.20, 11.27, 12.12,
12.16, 1.18, 2.4-5, 2.9, 2.11, 3.11, 3.15, 3.24, 3.30, 4.9-11, 6.18,
7.28, 8.11, 9.12(2),10.3(2), 4.13(2), 8.5(2)
Mulligan, Peter: 6.29, 7.7
Murray, Len: 6.19(2)
Myant, Chris: 10.24, 10.31, 11.25,12.24, 1.29, 2.7, 2.14, 2.22, 2.26, 3.25,
3.27, 4.27, 5.3, 5.6, 6.9, 8.10, 8.14, 8.24, 9.2(2), 9.12(2), 10.31(2),
11.16-17(2), 12.4(2), 12.10(2), 12.20(2),1.10(2), 1.28(2), 2.3(2),
2.18(2), 3.6(2), 3.12(2), 3.27(2), 3.30-31(2), 4.6(2), 5.17(2), 5.22-
23(2), 5.31(2), 6.8(2), 6.11(2), 6.17(2), 6.19(2), 6.25(2), 6.28(2),
7.1(2), 7.3(2), 7.7-8(2), 7.12(2), 7.22(2), 7.30(2), 8.5(2), 8.7(2),
Newens, Stan MP: 9.1
Nolan, Sean: 7.30
O Caollai, Maolachlann: 11.5, 12.9, 4.11(2)
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 11.2, 11.12, 11.20,1.18, 2.9, 2.15, 3.15, 3.24, 6.8, 6.17,
7.28, 8.24, 4.18(2
O’Donohue, Pat: 12.19, 3.30, 4.10, 6.1, 6.9, 3.3(2), 3.26(2)
O’Dowling, Elsie, formerly Timby:2.21(2)
O’Flanagan Fr Michael: 11.30(2)
O’Hara, Roger: 10.30, 12.8, 1.24, 4.30, 5.15, 7.24
O’Herlihy, Cal: 11.10-11, 8.24
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 10.19, 11.9, 11.11, 11.23, 3.15, 6.17
O Luanaigh, D.: 11.7, 3.20, 3.24
O Murchú, Eoin: 11.14
O’Riordan, Manus: 11.2, 6.17, 7.6(2)
O’Riordan, Michael: 11.3, 3.8, 3.30, 4.21, 5.6, 6.20, 4.22-24(2),8.5(2)
Orme, Stan MP: 12.8(2), 2.7(2)
Paisley, Ian MP: 5.2(2), 5.5(2)
Parker, Bill: 2.1(2)
Pocock, Gerry: 4.25(2), 5.10(2), 7.3(2), 8.5(2)
Prendiville, Paddy: 1.2
Redmond, Sean: 10.24, 7.31
Redmond, Tom: 1.29, 5.11, 6.18
Rees, Merlyn MP: 5.17(2)
Reid, Betty: 10.24
Rendle, Philip: 4.21, 4.26, 6.9, 8.24, 11.21(2), 6.26(2), 6.28(2), 7.2-3(2),
Reynolds, Arthur: 11.6
Rockel, Prof. Martin: 4.12(2)
Rooney, Michael: 1.5
Rothstein, Andrew: 4.21, 4.26, 2.26(2)
Ryan, Mick: 3.15
Saidlear, Muriel: 11.3-4
Sawtell, Jeff: 12.20, 12.24
Scorer, Cath: 12.3, 6.11(2)
Seyd, Nicola: 2.11(2)
Sheehy-Skeffington, Andrée: 4.8(2)
Sheridan, Jim: 6.17
Shields, Jimmy: 2.27
Siegmund-Schultze, Dorothea:11.13, 9.18(2), 9.27(2), 2.17(2)
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 10.27-28, 1.14-15, 3.30, 8.19,
9.25(2),11.29(2),12.3(2), 1.10(2), 3.30(2)
Skelly, Jeff: 9.14
Smullen, Eamon: 3.15
Stalin, Joseph: 1.15
Stallard, AW “Jock” MP: 12.12,12.8(2), 2.6(2), 2.18(2), 8.11(2)
Stewart, Edwina: 1.5
Stewart, Jimmy: 9.1, 1.5, 2.1, 6.5, 1.10(2)
Stowell, Brian: 1.22, 1.28, 5.20(2)
Sullivan, Chris: 10.27
Sweet, Colin: 1.18
Swift, John: 6.1
Tate, Jane:10.28, 11.1, 1.23, 4.21, 12.18(2), 4.15(2), 6.6(2)
Thompson, E.P. Prof.: 8.24
Ward, Bert: 8.24-25, 5.10(2), 5.22-23(2), 5.31(2), 6.11(2), 7.7(2), 7.18(2),
8.5(2), 8.8(2), 8.17(2)
Watters, Barney: 10.31, 12.20, 2.9, 2.11
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 11.14, 2.14, 9.12(2), 9.16(2), 7.13(2)
Wynn, Bob: 3.23
Wyper, Hugh: 12.10(2)
September 1 Saturday (Liverpool): At about 10 am. Eddie Cowman telephoned. He told me that Carl Reeve is coming to Ireland and wants to see me [Carl Reeve, author of “James Connolly and the United States”, 1978]. But it is the fortnight I have arranged to go away. He also told me that Peter Hazeltine’s daughter, who was passed off as an Irish delegate at a Liberation conference when the Connolly Association was prevented from speaking, has sent Noel Gordon a copy of an unsigned, undated announcement that Liberation is holding a conference on October 29th on Northern Ireland [Liberation was previously the Movement for Colonial Freedom, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. They did not consult us and indeed Eddie immediately connected it with Jimmy Stewart’s letter. He had said a meeting was urgent. Now we know why. We were to be told that these steps were already under way and forced on the spur of the moment to conform. The terms of reference are Northern Ireland, not Ireland. Several Trade Unionists, including Sean Morrissey, are coming over, also the man who attended our conference. Stan Newens takes the chair, and some British Trade Union man will be there. Eddie Cowman thinks we should let them get on with it. He thinks it will be a shambles. But we should send delegates. The Partitionists are getting back under cover of the “Provisional” right wing’s nonsense. I rang up Tony Coughlan [who was living in Dublin] and told him what was happening.
September 2 Sunday: It was still fine and warm but showing signs of change, with more wind and high cloud. I did some work in the garden. At night I began to think about “economism”, which was thrust on the Irish Labour Movement by the English. I looked up Lenin’s “What is to be done.” It is a big subject I will have to look into again.
September 3 Monday: I started to repair the bookshelves. The trouble is that they fall sideways and the rectangle becomes a parallelogram. I got compasses and traced the path of the constant height and base, thus noticed that the diagonals expand or contract in accord with the sine or the cosine of the appropriate angles, and so – the solution a diagonal strut. As soon as I had worked it out from first principles I realised I had seen it dozens of times without thinking of it!
A phone call from Eddie Cowman at 8 pm. Tony Gilbert [ie. secretary of “Liberation”, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom] has written to him inviting the Connolly Association to send delegates to his “National Trade Union conference on Northern Ireland”. It will deal mostly with “the problems of trade unionists in Northern Ireland”. I said write him a nice letter saying we will be happy to attend and leave it at that. I was thinking incidentally that they have been given money for this, probably from TASS. The letter, which Eddie Cowman read to me, refers to the re-emergence of UFF terrorism as the occasion for the speedy action [Ulster Freedom Force, a Loyalist body]. But the first instance was less than a week ago. Obviously a great deal of preparation has been done already, for they have lined up speakers, booked the date, and so on. So one can see the complete twistiness of the whole exercise [ie. because of its concentration on internal Northern Ireland affairs and ignoring the larger Partition issue] and no doubt we shall in due course discover who is behind it and how they operate.
September 4 Tuesday: This was one of the best days of the year and I cycled through Raby Mere and around central Wirral. In the evening I started the work of repairing the bookshelves.
September 5 Wednesday: Though the weather was still fine, though not so good, I concentrated on the bookshelves and completed the job. Eddie Cowman telephoned.
September 6 Thursday: Again a fine day though cooler. I went for another cycle ride, to Thornton Hough, Raby and Willaston. The greater part of the typescript of Volume 1 is now here. I have corrected about five chapters. What Eddie Cowman telephoned about last night is interesting. “Unity”, the CPNI sheet, launched an attack on Flann Campbell’s pamphlet against Orangeism. Its content was criticism of Flann Campbell for not attacking the British Government’s policy over the last ten years. Eddie Cowman could not understand it. But I got the explanation almost before he rang off. They are at heart Orangemen themselves. Their constant concern is to deflect criticism from those who want to keep the Six Counties out of a united Republic. So the attack on the British Government serves an ultra-left purpose. They would not dream of criticising it for maintaining Partition. I would like to be able to expose this filthy two-faced scum. But at a time when their English conquerors are hand in glove with them, not lacking the desire, I lack the opportunity.
September 7 Friday: I worked in the garden today and planted all the strawberries in a new bed recently cleared. I have corrected all the typescript apart from the two chapters that Daltún O Ceallaigh tells me he posted today.
September 8 Saturday: A letter came from Vivienne Morton to whom I had written regarding the T.A.Jackson centenary. I was wondering if I was the only survivor of the platform at the memorial meeting. I remember Pollitt was a speaker but could not remember the others. I remember how dull everybody was, though I managed to liven it up by beginning, “TA Jackson was the greatest Irishman that ever came out of England.” Well Vivienne Morton says Arthur Horner was there. I know that members of the audience commented on the dullness of the speeches. It is possible that the CPGB was already entering the state of atrophy now so far advanced. I have taken so little part in its internal affairs that I do not know the details, as I know them to some extent of the CPI. According to Vivienne Morton Stella has “passed the worst of her reactionary phase.” Of course the trouble is that ass Ewart Milne [ie.Stella Jackson’s husband. She was one of TA Jackson’s two daughters]. Ira facit poetam [Anger makes the poet], but not maudlin self-pity, no, not at any time.
I had a word with Eddie Cowman on the telephone. I had the impression that he has become a little dejected again. I hope it passes. The weather was fair after rain, but like so much of the dry weather this year, overcast. I doubt if I ever saw so cloudy a period.
September 9 Sunday: Another predominantly dry day but heavily overcast. I composed a letter to Michael Mullen [ITGWU General Secretary] suggesting giving the History to Lawrence and Wishart and asking for £12,000 for the second volume. I will send Skelly’s letter also.
September 10 Monday: I parcelled up and posted the corrected typescript to Daltún O Ceallaigh in Dublin. In the evening Eddie Cowman told me that he had been to Charlie Cunningham who seems to have lost all confidence in himself and to be vegetating. He thinks his mother has died. But it seems impossible to jolt him out of his dejection. The trouble is that he lacks the intellectual development to take himself in hand. It is a great pity. Eddie tells me also that his CP branch has composed a rambling “hard line on everything” resolution for the Congress, and that Ireland is involved in the usual muddled way. There is a call for “cooperation with the Connolly Association” – no enquiry as to whether the Connolly Association wants their cooperation. They cannot see their own arrogance. They should first find out if others want their cooperation; then offer it. So the “hards” are as muddled as the “softs”. They don’t seem to be able to grasp politics. Gerry Curran was in the office doing the paper. He has been in touch with Tony Coughlan.
September 11 Tuesday: Though it is not cold, it is on the cool side and the cloud is ever present. Amazing therefore that I ripened a yellow tomato. The Victoria plum has a good crop – its first; the crab is well laden and there are brambles (weeds) and whortleberries and “Japanese wineberries”. The damson has not yet fruited. It must be planted in its present position for years, so any year now it might bloom. I didn’t get much done. I wrote to Michael Mullen.
September 12 Wednesday: I got some work done in the garden, but I do not look like finishing the programme. I hope to go away for a few weeks on Sunday and may perhaps get this past three years’ heavy work out of my system. I had a certain sense of exhaustion after finishing Connolly and I feel now as if I don’t want to do anything, and there’s only one thing for that, not to do anything. Today, though it was warm in the afternoon, the sunshine had the white quality characteristic of October.
September 13 Thursday: I did a little more in the garden and re-wrote part of the preface of Volume 1 [ie. of the history of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union which he had been commissioned to write by that Union’s Executive. Three volumes were originally envisaged, but in the event Greaves only the first was written and published]. It was cool except in the afternoon sunshine, but the sky cleared at nightfall, and it was very chilly. There are weather reports of sleet and snow in Scotland and warnings of ground frost. In September! Jean Brown talks of another very severe winter, though she bases her prophecy on the behaviour of animals and birds. It struck me that there may be more in this than appears. Of course animals will not grow winter fur because it will be cold. But they might because it was cold. And what do we know of the night, which we spend in the warmth of our houses. If we were in the open it might be different. And as the afternoons are normal, we do not notice that the air is colder than usual. And this could precede a bad winter.
September 14 Friday: The weather was cool today and mostly cloudy. At sunset there was a wild sky, with fracto-stratus scudding from the northwest. It is surprising that a dry day is forecast for tomorrow. I doubt whether I will go away on Sunday. I manged to do some work in the garden and wrote about eight letters.
A letter came from Steve MacDonagh in Dublin. He had had a letter from Skelly [ie. Jeff Skelly, manager of Greaves’s publishers, Messrs Lawrence and Wishart], who seems to have blamed him that my book was not in the shops when it should be. He denied responsibility and moreover cast some doubt on Skelly’s competence and that of Central Books. I am myself inclined to think Skelly is a “bit of a messer”. He only bound up 400 copies, then had to bind up some more in a hurry. I am told that he can’t take a decision. But I wrote to MacDonagh and told him that Lawrence and Wishart had never blamed him to me. I sent his letter and my reply to Lawrence and Wishart but am wondering now whether I ought to have done. We will see. Part of my motive was to hint to them that they could be more efficient. The trouble with Skelly is that like many people who are really weak, he is capable of saying one thing and doing another.
September 15 Saturday: It was a dry day, and sunny too, and I was able to effect quite a transformation in the west garden, at last getting rid of the traces of the trees cut down after the burglary. I think I will leave my departure till the middle of next week. Daltún O Ceallaigh rang to say the manuscript had reached Dublin. He said he was reading it – bless us, to see if there was anything in it above the head of the ordinary union member. As if he were as good a judge of that as I! And if they order 3,000 copies it will go to 1 in 50 of the members! I think there is a human tendency to wish to “get in on” the act of creation, and he wants to feel he is “doing something”. He saw Michael Mullen but got no decision as to whether they insist it is published in Ireland. I want them to decide whether Lawrence and Wishart get it or Gill and Macmillan. I prefer Lawrence and Wishart.
September 16 Thursday: The weather was as good today as yesterday. I did a little gardening and went through my collected poems. I think that I must get these published. I am quite sure there is nothing like them. But it will not be easy to find the right mechanics.
September 17 Monday: I did not get away today either, made purée out of crab apples in the morning, lifted the yellow tomatoes and tied them to the garage roof, got out the income tax documents, wrote letters, and the day was gone, with precious little to show for it. I do not suppose I will get away tomorrow either. The long and short of it is that when I was writing those two books I let the house and garden go.
September 18 Tuesday (Maes Hafn): I went away after all. At Brimstage Barney Morgan stopped me. He is back in Health – at Clatterbridge [ie. the hospital where he worked as a social worker]. His wife left him (one adds on her behalf, “And no wonder”) and he divorced her and kept the children. He sees Brian Stowell periodically. I went on through Raby, Little Neston, Queensferry and Buckley. The old house is still standing, but I could not positively identify it. No 108 looked like it, but I think it was the second in the block and most likely 106 Liverpool Road. I did not go to the rear to see if the sempervivum was still growing. I went on through Llong and Nerquis to Maes Hafn. There were two elderly cyclists, a Manchester youth with a stammer, and a wee Australian girl.
September 19 Wednesday (Cynwyd): I continued through Llanarmon yn Yale and learned when I asked if it was possible to go to Llanfair DC through the pass to the Northwest of Moel y Plas that a Mrs Brannigan who was a Catholic went that way to Mass every Sunday. It was difficult but possible. There was a fork towards Ruthin and I imagine that Mrs Brannigan went that way. I went to Pwll Glas and Gwyddelwern and so to Corwin and Cynwyd. Here again there were elderly cyclists belonging to the Clarion Club. One of them had been on the mass trespass on Kinder Scout years ago. He explained how they had walked almost across the forbidden territory, some three thousand strong, where they were met by the landlord and a hundred of his touts and hoodlums. They had equipped themselves with sticks and hard switches and started striking at the hikers’ bare knees. This provoked understandable retaliation. The police were waiting and arrested the trespassers, some of whom got three months, not for trespassing (bless us!) but for assault! There was a man who had “been everywhere, seen everything,” about 65, possibly a Scot, a ski enthusiast, travelling by car, but dressed in shorts and anorak. “That trespass was communist inspired,” he said. “Well,” said one of the Clarions (and both of them were decent characters retaining some of the enthusiasm of youth) “there were communists present, but most of us were what we’d call socialists.” I was surprised that the Clarion Club still survived. The warden’s husband, who did all the work, died a few months ago, but the wife continues. The lunatics who run the YHA are all for installing “showers” at this simple hostel to attract American and continental visitors. It is stated that the number of cyclists is increasing again. They may find their precious motorists fewer than they think, the filthy scum.
September 20 Thursday (Dinas Mawddwy): The weather was very fine today despite a dull start. I had lunch at Balla and crossed the Berwyn mountains to Dinas Mawddwy. The police no longer manage the place. The warden, of only two months standing, is an Englishwoman whose husband is going to Saudi Arabia, an oil company employee possibly. There was an old man from Devon, walking, a young “executive” travelling by car and a student, a pleasant lad who played a fair game of chess.
September 21 Friday (Blaencaron): The weather seems to have broken. There was a fierce shower as I descended into Machynlleth, from which I took a train to Aberystwyth. It was cold too. I saw hailstones as I descended into Tregaron. There were two German students, excellent people and a credit to Germany, and an American aged 22, who bemoaned his impending return to a steel town in Pennsylvania. The Germans came from Kassel and were medical students. The American had become interested in poetry after reading Wordsworth and was busy writing “poems and songs” as the spirit moved him. But I did not think much of him. There was a cheapness about him which put him on a much lower level than the Germans, despite his good humour.
September 22 Saturday: They all stayed again. It was an unexpectedly fine day. I did little enough, merely went into Tregaron. The Germans went to Llandewi Brefi. They are interested in antiquity. “The Germans honour the Celtic peoples because of their ancient culture,” one of them said to me. The American had listlessly fooled about. A very quiet-spoken walker came whom I at once recognised as a Belfast man. He was an agricultural student at Queens, and I am sure a Protestant. He was too subdued for a Catholic. He spoke of Irish music which had “real cultural value”. How they are all attracted to their true tradition as if by a magnet! I thought of Bobby Heatley, Noel Gordon and Jack Bennett [All Northern Ireland Protestants who were or had been members of the Connolly Association]. All are quite sanguine characters made into enforced icebergs by the Calvinist environment. As for the Germans, I thought of the great middle class of Europe whose values are financed by the profits of monopoly capitalism and cannot avoid destroying what they stand for. The “Western Mail” had an account of dreadful goings-on at the house opposite, which it seems was used for drug operations. The American told us he read “good news” in the paper. The USA had held up grain exports because of the Cuban dispute.
September 23 Sunday: They all left this morning, the American waiting till a threat of a wet day had passed. They talk so bellicosely, but would they fight a war? They rely on hardware. At about 9 pm. a cyclist of near 60 years of age arrived. He was so bronzed that I was surprised that he was a printer. Then he told me he earned enough to live on by one night’s work each week and could also take periodical fortnight’s holidays. He spent all his time cycling in the country. He spent £30 a month on photography into the bargain. He was a Londoner, pleasant enough but highly conscious of money. He lives on rice! He works on “The Observer” [ie. the British Sunday newspaper].
September 24 Monday: I had the place to myself. The wee girl Marianne (so pronounced) told me that many people were staying the night and not paying. She thought the Germans the worst. In fact it is the Australians whom I have caught in the act. The farmer told me that getting rid of the wasps’ nest in the garden was not going to be easy. He recommended burning them out with a blow lamp in winter. I was talking to a small shopkeeper in Tregaron. There was now only one other, and VAT was ruining them as they had to pay accountants to do this work for them.
September 25 Tuesday: I did not go far. It began cloudy and warm, then rained for a couple of hours. I had the place to myself and worked out some details of policy.
September 26 Wednesday: It rained all day. A photographer on a newspaper in Slough arrived. He had left his car at Tyn Cornel. He was intelligent in a worldly way and progressive enough. Indeed everybody I have so far met has belonged, in words at least, on the “Left”. He was “Labour” and opposed to the EEC.
September 27 Thursday: Sixty-six today. Amazing. Now, moreover, I am beginning to look it – grey as a badger, as Paddy Clancy used to say [a veteran CA member]. Still, nothing can be done about it. A Scotsman arrived in a kilt, about 50. The photographer had met him at Tyn Cornel and told me he was coming – a retiring man who worked in some menial job in order to study American History at one of the Universities in Edinburgh, acquiring academicknowledge for its own sake. I think this is nonsense. Nothing has any sense in it unless you can do something with it. He seemed to possess no opinions.
September 28 Friday (Dolgoch): I cycled to Dolgoch via Diffwys and Soar Mynydd. At the telephone box at the Cernddwr bridge I met a young couple gazing at birds through binoculars. I met them later at Dolgoch. George De Roe is still there as warden, not so rheumatically as I had heard, but bad enough. There were two young Australians. The birdwatchers were from Derby. The man was an active conservationist. He told me that every local authority in Derbyshire opposed the closing of the Derby-Manchester railway, and every one of them had also opposed a proposal to reopen it. There is universal left-inclination, but a sense of impotence. I do not know what the CP is playing at. I am thinking of some calculated indiscretion at the T.A. Jackson party. De Roe is an interesting character. He was brought up in a Yorkshire village. He was taught to “turn the other cheek” and wished he had been taught otherwise. “They trample on you,” he said. He is dedicated to his work, but very simple in worldly matters. His dream is to have his own cottage and he has savings amounting to £2,000 which are now inadequate to buy it. He was refused planning permission for the restoration of a cottage to its former state. There was a government instruction that building or rebuilding in the valleys should be discouraged so as to save pressure on postal and other services. Such is the dictatorship we live under. They would give a wealthy hotel chain not only planning permission but a subsidy out of public funds, provided it could cross their palms with paper.
De Roe and the Derby people described themselves as atheists. The Australians asked to join the conversation. The young man (25?) looked a decent, fairly studious but not very independent-minded student. His girlfriend had religious conviction written all over her square stupid face. She was a fundamentalist, but De Roe silenced her in two minutes.
He complained that the YHA refused to buy a building at Penysarn because they could not raise £2,000. But they propose to fit “showers” at Dolgoch. I suspect Government pressures. It would help their tourist policy if they could advertise in Europe and the USA that “every British youth hostel is fitted with showers.” And the poor rubbishy creatures who form the committees no doubt have MBEs and other minor “honours” dangled before them. The Derby man told me of a valley in Hertfordshire to which public access is denied since it is used by a chemical firm to perform pesticide experiments. Everything indicates that there are two governments in the country, the overt and the effective.
September 29 Saturday: I walked over the mountains and down to the Cernddwr. It is forestry most of the way. A German from Hamburg, aged about 45, was there. His sister has married a man in Tregaron. I lost a game of chess to him. He was an aggressive player, and so determined to win that he was breathing heavily from excitement. I was too tired for this degree of concentration, so I played rather for entertainment. De Roe told me that an Australian had come, asked for “showers” and then decided to drive to New Quay, which was the nearest place where those were available. This is the human muck which the committees are catering for.
September 30 Sunday (Tyn Cornel): I went via Soar Myndd to Tyn Cornel. A bearded 25-year-old ex-student of Cambridge arrived. He had a degree in physics – was rather like Dave McLaughlin in appearance – but was unable to do research because he was “no good at experiments”. He was a “computer programmer”. He thought a university course was a “discipline”, but that few graduates ever got employment which required the use of what they had been taught. He had not gone to Youth Hostels until recently. He had been put off by being taken on school parties as a youngster and had only now overcome his dislike. He told me that the newly designed hostels in North Wales were being deliberately constructed so as to discourage the traditional walkers and cyclist and concentrate on motorists. His name was Finnerty and he came from Frodsham. He was one of those very decent, not fully effective people who, I think, have what little spunk they possess dumped and made ineffective by the educational system. Everything looks simple when you look down from the mountain of old age. It is a different matter viewed from the valley of youth, with every possible camouflage and obstruction put in the way. Again I got the impression of a sense of impotence. He would remain in the boring job of “programming computers” and says, “It’s the only thing I know how to do.” The successful students become “academics” and spend their lives talking drivel. The unsuccessful ones take intellectually menial jobs in industry.
The Hen Gardi [ie. hostel warden] did not put in an appearance. Instead there came a young red-headed man riding a pony and wearing a magnificent horseman’s hat. I must get a book on hats to see what it is called. He has little English. Apparently Will Lewis, growing wealthier and wealthier, has moved the shed from Blaen Douthi to LLanddewi and installed a shepherd to look after the rough grazing. This was his son. In some strange way Lewis has collected round himself the last of the peasantry and whatever else may be said about him, if he can snatch sheepland from the Forestry Commission and repopulate the valleys, that is good work, even if he is not nationalist. Now at Dolgoch this morning was a young man who arrived from Northampton late at night. He thinks that with £20,000 a friend offers to put in he can start a profitable smallholding in the uplands of Cardigan. He is a recently graduated BSc.with a big salary.
October 1 Monday: Finnerty left early. He admitted he hated the idea of going back to his computer. I am meeting more people than usual on this holiday and am getting impressions. It is interesting that this generation of young people are at last saying some of the things I said years ago. I must pay more attention to them. There is a widespread malaise and disillusionment. I can’t think what the YCL has been doing [ie. the Young Communist League]. It looks as if their dereliction of duty is much more serious than I had thought. It had rained all night and the chill was out of the air. The wind remains in the southeast. I went for a walk on the mountains, and when I returned Will Lewis was there. He remains warden but makes his employee the shepherd do the work. He thus gets the free use of the hostel without the labour. Today he was eating tomatoes sprinkled with sugar. But he works hard.
October 2 Tuesday: I walked almost to the telephone box along the top of the mountains and was rewarded by a sight of the forgotten lake, Llyn Berwyn, a brilliant blue and surrounded by forest. Then at 5 pm. a cyclist arrived. He was called Death, but inserted an apostrophe and called himself De-Ath, as if the “de” was French. He had been a shop steward at London Airport. I quickly realised who he was – he was the great right-winger that Maitland and others had to contend with thirty years ago [Sid Maitland had been active in the Connolly Association in the 1940s]. He vaguely resembles Stallard [ie. “Jock” Stallard, Labour MP for St Pancras]. He was a man of experience and sense, a magistrate for thirteen years, resident at Windsor. He has made his way into the middle-class property bracket, has a house and a houseboat and a car, but still cycles and belongs to a pensioners’ cycling club. He is 63. He commented, “Do you know I find myself putting on the brakes when I go downhill, I used to chance it.” Now so do I! He was very critical of “jury vetting” and “plea bargaining”. He told me of a case where a boy of 19 had a shotgun in his possession which he believed to be inoperative and a show ornament. A friend told him that if by any chance it should be capable of being fired he was committing an offence. He took it to the police to ask their advice. They told him it was in working order and that he had committed an office. The local officers did not propose to prosecute. But the Thames Valley authority, miles away, over-ruled them and insisted on a prosecution. The Windsor magistrates dismissed the case. They knew the young man well.
October 3 Wednesday: Today a young cyclist from Chelmsford came. He had no brains – had originally come from Islington. A disappointment after De’Ath. He was a postman and earned £60 a week.
October 4 Thursday (Dolgoch): It dawned wet and cold. I returned to Dolgoch. De Roe was talking about the young people. Most of them do not expect to live out their full lifespan, he told me. They feel “despair in face of the machine”. I asked him if this explained their behaviour. “You mean drugs?” he asked. This interested me. De’Ath had said he had a high regard for the young people, but I mentally dismissed this as optimistic guff, suitable for a magistrate.
October 5 Friday (Trecastle): The weather was magnificent. I cycled to Blaen Roth uchaf. The hostel was booked out by a party. A man had agreed to sleep on the floor. But I decided to go to Llanddeusant. The old warden has sold out – De Roe tells me for £120,000 – and the young boy (who must be nearly 25 now) is working a farm in the valley. The new warden is Welsh, her husband English. But she misdirected me to LLanddeusant – I had mistakenly left my map in Liverpool – and I found myself on the way to Trecastle. Two men at a garage told me I should have gone through Myddfai. I stayed at a hotel in Trecastle. The garage men came into the bar. One of them told me how a week or two ago he found a young lady cyclist sitting on the side of the road crying. “What happened?” “I don’t know,” she said, “I think I fell off my bike.” Of course, said the man, she had been struck by a car which had not stopped. He got her to hospital, where she was patched up and recovered.
October 6 Saturday (Dolgoch): I thought of going to Blaen Roth uchaf but decided on Dolgoch. The southeast wind blew me along the heights above “Llyn Brianne” as they call it. It just began to rain as I arrived. Nobody came. De Roe had had an attack of rheumatism and retired early. I have been thinking how to deal with the campaign for Irish unity, and it struck me that an idea would be to prepare a reasoned case for a policy directed towards this, based on the Labour Party conference.
October 7 Sunday (Tyn Cornel): I advised De Roe to apply again for planning permission to restore the cottage. I fear however he is no man of the world. I was sorry afterwards I forgot to warn him not to broadcast it if he secures it, not at any rate until he has it bought. I drafted a letter to Gwynfor Evans for him [Gwynfor Evans was then leader of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist party]. I went to Tyncornel. The rain had washed away part of the bank of the Doithie Fach near the ford and the mud on the drivers’ road was ferocious. At 4 pm. a motorcyclist from Sowerby Bridge arrived. He was a taciturn enigmatic character and we held hardly any conversation. I could tell there was something in him, however, as he spoke of the EU sales of butter to Russia. He would be about 42.
October 8 Monday: The motorcyclist decided to stay a second night. He went into Cardigan and brought me back some butter. He grew more communicative, disclosed that he knew the price of gold and that the human body loses heat at the rate of 80 kilowatts. A boy of about 19 arrived, with fuzzy hair and that type of petulant spoiled-child face that goes with total brainlessness. He told us four people were coming from Blaencaron. They arrived at about 5 pm. I thought they might be teachers. One was a tall gangling character, about 50. An older man who seemed the leader worked out distances on the map with a wheel. They were Cockneys and the Sowerby Bridge man looked to me for a kind of tacit alliance. But they were very decent people. One of them, the gangling fellow, was bemoaning the fact that his fly zip had become inoperative. He would have to sit in a hotel tomorrow in muddy trousers. I told him he would be the height of fashion and greatly amused the Yorkshireman.
October 9 Tuesday: I went into Lladdewi and when I got back they had all gone. The old shepherd father of the man with the caubeen [ie. Irish for a peaked cap] came and talked. He recognised my pronunciation of Welsh names and asked if I could speak Welsh. I told him a little, but I was not quick enough. The Welsh I found easiest to follow was the rather literary language of parsons on the BBC. The colloquial language was too quick for me. He became very affable. He told me that at present prices all the farmers could live on their holdings in the hills, but they preferred Tregaron. His first job was at Nant yr ffach. Then all the farms were occupied. He knew Pont y gwyddel opposite us but did not know whether it was the site of a one-night house. Nobody came.
October 10 Wednesday (Blaencarron): I went to Blaencarron where I was alone.
October 11 Thursday: I went into Tregaron and on my return was asked by 13-year-old Marianne to help her with her physics. But what fool methods of teaching they have. There was a question on electricity which dealt with batteries in series and in parallel. Resistance and voltage were not mentioned. Ohm’s law did not exist for them. No wonder people are such blockheads. They are not taught the reasons for anything.
October 12 Friday: The weather was very fine and I cycled to Llangeitho. The local public house is run by an Englishwoman, and not a word of Welsh was spoken. And around the outskirts of the village came the Englishwoman’s lavishly appointed house. On Jordan’s banks the Arab camels lie! A boy of 19 from Derby came – open, a little too smiling I thought. He expressed the opinion that young people today could not do a job. Their educational curriculum was awry. Now he had been sent to a private school. Unfortunately, it had not fitted him for a university place, but he could if he wanted to make his way into “management”. But to him “job satisfaction” was more important than money. He was going to try to do some printing for his old school, and later he would go abroad. He was cycling. Indeed, I never saw so few motorists. The YHA may be backing the wrong horse. I rang De Roe and said I would be in Dolgoch on Sunday.
October 13 Sunday: Despite the showers and continuous rain later, the youngster from Ilkeston set off for Aberdare where seemingly he has a brother. I went into Tregaron but did very little. Again nobody arrived in the evening.
October 14 Sunday: I was astonished to find my back tyre flat. Why had I not noticed it yesterday? I borrowed some repair materials from Marianne and her brother drove me into Tregaron for extras. But the inner tube was one of those wretched things I had all the trouble with in Dublin. There was no success, and De Roe had asked me to bring him bread. And this was the best day of the month. Nobody came.
October 15 Monday: It poured rain. I had no better luck with the repairs. When it stopped at 3 pm. I walked into Tregaron, bought a new (and superior) tube and fitted it in ten minutes. Nobody came.
October 16 Tuesday (Dolgoch): I cycled to Dolgoch, where again I was alone. De Roe told me that the YHA are trying to buy the hostel. He said they paid 5/- a week for Nant Dernol. Hughes offered to take £1,400 for it. They fooled about and then he was offered £5,000. But he could not evict them. At one point he put a padlock on the door and they came from Cardiff with crowbars. There would have been murder if he had been around. In the end he decided to charge them £5 per week. De Roe said that Hughes was so mean and grasping that when he did agricultural work for him he would not pay him and that is why he left. But there you are; De Roe is not worldly wise.
October 17 Wednesday (Liverpool): I cycled into Llanwrtyd and took the train to Salop. It began to rain when I reached Chester, so I continued to Spital, bought milk before the shops closed in Cross Lane, and reached 124 Mount Road at about 6 pm. There was nothing from Michael Mullen or Skelly. Toni Curran sent a birthday card (so seemingly I was too harsh last time) [ie. in his reaction to her birthday card the previous year; see Vol.29] and Tony Coughlan also sent good wishes.
October 18 Thursday: I put on long trousers for the first time for eight weeks and went into Birkenhead for supplies. I wrote letters. The weather was fine.
October 19 Friday: I wrote letters again but did not post them. It poured rain. I spoke to Pat Bond on the phone last night. He told me that Noel Gordon had started work for us but was now in hospital with paratyphoid he had caught in France. Why they go to these places I cannot conceive. Today I spoke to Tony Coughlan who told me that Micheál O Loingsigh’s newspaper has folded up and he owes £150,000 but has kept his old business [He ran a printing business in Drogheda]. Also, Cathal is talking about taking a job in Wexford and coming back to Dublin only at weekends. I wonder if that would spoil his prospects of getting on the Executive of the union. I have come back after forming the intention of making another effort to rally the anti-imperialist forces on the Irish question. I asked Pat Bond about the Liberation conference. He described it as a “disgrace” and said that this Hazelton woman is behind it. That means the Northern Ireland CP. I do not propose to be intimidated by these people and we shall see what the upshot will be. I will record my procedures as far as is possible. I can only say for the moment that having had time to think over the way things are, I am filled with alarm and only hope my fears will not be realised.
October 20 Saturday: I spoke to Daltún O Ceallaigh on the telephone. He told me that Michael Mullen had read my MS and that Fintan Kennedy now had it. Daltún O Ceallaigh had asked Michael Mullen how it struck him. “Don’t be taken aback,” said Daltún. “He replied he did not think much of it. There was not enough about Connolly in it. “But”, Daltún went on, “this is just his way with anybody who works with him.” If Daltún O Ceallaigh is right and this is nonsense, well and good. But it may be there is a political factor – for indeed the MS includes facts about Connolly that have never been published before. While in Wales I had calculated that I could not afford to let the “Irish Democrat” go. This reinforces that conclusion.
I also tried to track down Gerry Curran. The telephone was answered by Conor, now equipped with a bass instead of a squeaky voice. He didn’t know when Gerry would be in. A second call evoked no more though he was marginally more open – possibly realising that I did not know what he knew. Finally, I got Toni Curran who also did not know where Gerry Curran was[Gerry and Toni (Antoinette) Curran were longstanding Connolly Association activists. They were becoming maritally estranged at this time]. She spoke as if the book page cannot be ready for several days. I suspected that she will not see Gerry for several days and that possibly he has left again. The card which pleased me at the time must therefore be taken in context. You might ask why people bother to ingratiate themselves with others. Well, such are the complexities of social life.
I also had a word with Eddie Cowman. There at least sanity lay. He says Noel Gordon’s sickness has resulted in chaos. Helen is not available for the holiday. Steve Huggett was in the office but he also produces woe. At the same time all is not lost. The Young Liberals are continuing their campaign, talking of a “day of action” related to their petition, and a kind of Forum in June to which they want to invite myself, Michael Mullen, Jack Bennett, Sighle De Valera and a few more. He told me he had heard that Tony Benn had given a private opinion in favour of reunification. As for Liberation he thought that they were not getting a good response as they had been advertising widely in the “Morning Star”. It is extraordinary how people jump to action positions at the behest of individuals whose qualifications are negligible. I would love to know the inner story of this intrigue. The Central London branch had a good AGM and Flann Campbell has consented to join the committee.
October 21 Sunday: There was a call from Gerry Curran. Apparently he has been living apart from Toni for several months. This must have been the cause of Conor’s hesitations. I thought he had not carried out this threat. I told him they should have their heads knocked together, at which he only laughed. He says that when he was with Toni she was running a car and had money in the bank. Now they have nothing, but he is not badly off. Just what one should deduce from this I do not know. I suppose he is making the children some kind of allowance.
I worked on the T.A. Jackson talk which I am due to give on Wednesday.
October 22 Monday: Royalties came from Lawrence and Wishart – over £400. Apparently several hundred copies of O’Casey were sold in the first month. This is good in view of the lack of reviews. But there was also trouble. The fool Borough Council have slapped a smoke prevention order on us and from October 1st1980 we shall all have to burn “smokeless fuel” at an appalling price. This while atomic waste is pouring into the Irish sea and giving people leukaemia. I did some work on the paper and settled the line of the T.A.Jackson talk [Thomas Alfred Jackson, 1879-1955, writer, lecturer and left-wing activist; founder member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920; author of the history, “Ireland Her Own”, to which Greaves wrote an epilogue in 1971, “Dialectics”, “Charles Dickens”, “Solo Trumpet” and other works].
October 23 Tuesday (London): I went to London. Eddie Cowman came into the office. He shows more interest than ever. It seems that Noel Gordon and Helen MacMurray went holidaying in France. They ran out of money and were a day without food. An old tramp offered them some and (reversal of Eden) the man did eat. He then bummed some money off a Dublin man, which is of interest to upholders of Partition [Noel Gordon was of Northern Protestant background], and when he got back to London went to his doctor who diagnosed food poisoning. Then it was influenza. Finally, he was whisked off to hospital with paratyphoid (as it turned out). And thus we are paying out wages for no work. Eddie Cowman is somewhat contemptuous, as is his wont. He would not go off on a holiday he couldn’t pay for. He criticises Helen MacMurray for doing nothing in the bookshop. He himself simply resumed full duty as General Secretary and comes in every evening. I spoke at a meeting in Acton in the evening.
October 24 Wednesday: I worked on the paper during the day and later Eddie Cowman came in. I was telling him about the talk I had with Hourigan last night. If it were possible to keep closer touch with these people they would not be blown about in the wind. Hourigan, a Limerick man, very active in the CP, told me without a trace of embarrassment that the “Builders’ Branch”, which I think is now defunct, held a meeting on the Irish Question. Myant was one speaker, Collins of SFWP (Birmingham) the other and a hundred attended [Chris Myant was Assistant editor of the “Morning Star” daily, unfriendly to the Connolly Association and supportive of Clann na hEireann, which was Sinn Fein the Workers Party’s support organisation in Britain]. Poor Hourigan just had not the politics to be suspicious of it. But I am. It is just the tip of an iceberg. And the joke of it is that the plot has failed. When Sean Redmond and I discussed the matter we agreed, “Wait till they come unstuck.” They are unstuck now. So we will wait no longer.
There was a moderately successful gathering at the Ivanhoe to mark the centenary of the birth of T.A.Jackson. I said a few words which were well received. But Pat Bond’s music failed to arrive. Among those present were Betty Sinclair, Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Eddie Cowman, Vivienne Morton, Alan Morton from Edinburgh, John Gibson from Liverpool, Connie Seafort, Betty Reid, MacLaughlin the “bell ringer,” Bill Hardy, Tadhg Egan and many others. I had a word with Betty Reid who is living with Yvonne Kapp, who was also there [Yvonne Kapp was author of the two-volume “Eleanor Marx, A Biography”, generally regarded as a biographical masterpiece]. She was pleased that I launched an attack on the academics. I can see exactly what has happened. When the hedge schoolmasters were in swing the Establishment promoted national schools. When the British workers ran Sunday schools the Education Act was passed. When independent writings on Labour History and Marxism appeared the Departments of Politics and studies of Labour history appeared. I suspected it, but I can see it clearly now. What is alarming is that they have been so successful, and if I looked farther I have not the slightest doubt I could find plenty of reason for the state of the CPGB. They have failed to defend their fundamental philosophy.
October 25 Thursday: At yesterday’s meeting I was approached by Tony Gilbert [of Liberation/Movement for Colonial Freedom]. Would I speak at the conference on Sunday? Incidentally, Kay Beauchamp was there and told me that Gordon McLennan and that ass Gerry Cohen were trying to tread a tightrope between two factions and pleasing neither [ie. between the CP “hardliners” and “soft-liners”]. I rang Gilbert up to ask if he really wanted me to speak – for he had drink taken. He said he did. Eddie Cowman had had a word with him and when he came in told me that what had happened was that this silly young bitch, Peter Hazeltine’s daughter, had called the conference under the auspices of the London area. She had engaged the speakers but it was soon made clear that she was not capable of organising a conference. As they could not draw back it was transferred to the national office. Now Miss Hazeltine had carefully abstained from (Should I say this? Perhaps to ascribe carefulness or any kind of intention but pleasing her Orange Communist friends would be to pay her a compliment) sending the Connolly Association an invitation. Now the thing was deposited in the lap of the “hardliners”. But Gilbert was saddled with her speakers. He was somewhat relieved as one by one they pulled out. The plot had miscarried, and they probably decided to stay at home. So I agreed to go.
October 26 Friday: I finished the paper and posted it off and went out in Paddington with Eddie Cowman [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat” around the pubs patronised by the Irish in the area].
October 27 Saturday: In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran and a shocking story unfolded. He is of course weak and indecisive. He attributes this to “depression,” though Eddie Cowman calls it laziness. There is no outflow of the milk of human kindness in my bold Eddie, though he usually retracts his strictures with a sudden, “Sure he’s not a bad divil at all.” Gerry told me that he and Toni are now hardly on speaking terms. She wants everything of his out of the house. “And it’s my house,” he says piteously.
“Why did you leave it?’
“To please Toni.”
“Why please her if your relations are what they are.”
“I put her on a pedestal. I’ve only just seen through her. She is completely unscrupulous. I keep thinking of things that have happened.”
I told him that it was apparently too late for that. If the marriage could be repaired, repair it. If not, treat it like a death, get the probate and wind up the estate. He told me that he is in furnished rooms. The landlady has a rule that everybody must be in by 11 pm., and no woman can visit them, and the other tenants are the most horrible people imaginable. He has decided to accept an offer from Eddie Cowman as one of the co-operators in his household is leaving.
The conference took place this morning [ie. a conference on the Irish question organised by Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom]. I did not stay all day. I nailed my colours to the mast. I made myself so clear that nobody could doubt, and as a matter of interest those who did not entirely agree thanked me for it. I told them it was time to decide which side they were on, and Joan Hyman got up and said the same. But I was first speaker and the hall was only filling. Among those present were Chris Sullivan, Tom Durkin (very amiable), Betty Sinclair (who said a few words) Jane Tate – about 70 or 80. The two-nationists talked rubbish [ie. representatives of the British and Irish Communist Organisation(BICO)]. A woeful Six County Polytechnical don waffled with an inaccurate account of the history of the Irish Trade Unions, which he thought came from England in the eighties. Later I learned that another, Patterson from QUB, had given a woeful speech which Chris Sullivan had been impelled to interrupt: “Cut out the rhetoric and tell us what you are saying.” It was of course Unionism disguised as socialism. I had a letter from Francis Devine praising this hobo. The boys do not understand that there is nobody uncommitted. They have been bamboozled into thinking those fool professors are important. I resolved that if I am spared I will demolish the theoretical foundations of their citadel.
October 28 Sunday: The Standing Committee took place in the morning. Michael Crowe did not come, nor Mark CIinton, nor Barry Riordan, nor Noel Moynihan, nor Gerry Curran, nor Toni Curran. Eddie Cowman was for writing them strong letters. Betty Sinclair had told us that it was she who had asked the CPI to suggest talks with us. She was surprised at the formal tone of Jimmy Stewart’s letter. We decided to invite them to send a representative to our next meeting. Betty Sinclair said, incidentally, that the CPI had more need of us than we of them. There had been a discussion at which she had said, “We’ve some friends over there.” They must feel isolated, though I must say I think they are inclined to insulate themselves. Eamon McLaughlin gave a lecture at 6 pm., not very good and not very well attended. Later we talked at Jane Tate’s. It seems that Gerry Curran has stayed some nights with Jane Tate, Eddie Cowman and others when he has been afraid to go back to his lodgings. It will be better when he joins Eddie.
October 29 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley, then came on to Liverpool.
October 30 Tuesday: I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre. He told me that Tom Walsh had said that if I cared to join (this apropos of my giving up 23 Argyle Square and making Liverpool my home) I would be very welcome [Tom Walsh was manager of the Liverpool Irish Centre]. He said that Malin (Moran) was dead. He agreed with my suggestion of holding a Pearse centenary meeting in Liverpool. He will of course not do much. Earlier I had seen Roger O’Hara [ie. the local CP organiser], who was more affable than usual. Margaret McClelland was still there. I thought there was an air of depression. The place badly needs painting and repairing. I doubt if much is going on. I did not see the second full-time worker.
October 31 Wednesday: I had lunch with John Gibson, the doyen of the local full-timers [ie. CPGB officials] and a “hard liner” who works for the Soviet Friendship [ie. Soviet Friendship Society]. I told him what Betty Sinclair told me Myant was putting about in Northern Ireland – that I had left the CP. He remarked that that young man’s past record was far from impeccable. He is a former Trotsky. He said the same applied to Bloomfield in the Midlands. This throws light on Frank Watters’s decision to give up [Watters had been the CPGB secretary in Birmingham]. He did not get on with Bloomfield. John Gibson asked me if I thought there had been a Trotsky infiltration. I said I would not know. But I had seen twenty years of ideological disarmament, the extent of which I had only now come to appreciate. He offered me all help. I then booked the AUEW room for December 9th.
Later Barney Morgan called at 124 Mount Road. I realised that if I am going to get something going here I am going to enjoy plenty of support. But I must be here myself. After some thought I decided to abandon the advantage of my London status, get rid of the expensive flat in Argyle Square, with all its disadvantages, and revert to a Liverpool residence.
November 1 Thursday: I wrote to Eddie Cowman asking him to help in moving from 33 Argyle Square. I also wrote to Jane Tate and Pat Bond assuring them that I did not propose to abandon the organisation but the reverse. Then I left for Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and Dublin. Tony Coughlan met me at Amiens Street. We went to a meeting of the Labour History Society where I found Francis Devine. He is no longer secretary; I think he probably resigned when his marriage broke up. His very young wife just lost interest and went to England leaving the children on his hands. He has several times volunteered assistance for the history and I observe a new cordiality. I think it is political. I was a trifle suspicious of him since he had been a member of Clann na hEireann [ie. the SFWP support group in Britain, which was antagonistic to the Connolly Association]. An American called Hazelkorn is the new secretary.
November 2 Friday: I had lunch with Daltún O Ceallaigh. He has been able to get no sense out of Michael Mullen, who is abroad. Apparently he had a fear of air travel. As a result he stayed in Ireland. Absens heres non erit[He who is absent will not be an heir; ie. out of sight out of mind] and he became General Secretary of the Union. But now he has overcome this fear and is gallivanting around the world like the others. He referred the matter of the history to Kennedy and Clancy [Fintan Kennedy was ITGWU President, Clancy a Union official; see note below]. Clancy told Daltún O Ceallaigh that they proposed to send the MS to a “professional reader”, also that the renewal of my contract (after I am working on the second volume for six months) will “have to go before the Executive.” I was far from pleased at this information which points to action on Clancy’s part designed to wreck the project which he was opposed to from the start, and especially to my part in it [Paddy Clancy was in charge of the ITGWU research and communications department, then in Palmerston Road, Rathmines. Greaves came to refer to this address as “the gluepot”, for it was full of sticky substance, “Stickies” being the popular appellation of the “Official” Republicans, Sinn Fein the Workers Party, at the time]. A prominent member of SFWP, Geraghty [ie. Desmond Geraghty], is editing the journal, the incompetent Dardis Clarke having resigned. This man is extremely pushing and is ever canvassing himself as a future General Secretary. Daltún O Ceallaigh thinks he is only too pleased to feed Clancy with palatable food for thought. And on the other hand Manus O’Riordan, put in his position by silly Kader Asmal, has two two-nationist assistants [Kader Asmal and Anthony Coughlan had urged ITGWU General Secretary Michael Mullen to employ Michael O’Riordan’s son Manus in the ITGWU when he returned from doing postgraduate work in the USA. It turned out after this that Manus O’Riordan did not share his father’s politics but aligned himself with the “two-nationists” of the British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO)]. Apparently when Carl Reeve was over there was a systematic attack on the reputation of Connolly. I will need to play my cards with considerable skill if I am to save the project in a form in which it is worth saving.
November 3 Sunday: I saw Cathal during the day [ie. his old friend Cathal MacLiam]. He is going to Wexford in a week’s time to take up a job buying components for pumps. He will come to Dublin every fortnight. I called in to see Michael O’Riordan in the afternoon. He complained that the CPGB had not appointed anybody to replace Irene Brennan. I told him the less they did on the Irish Question the better I’d be pleased and that an Irish Committee set up in present circumstances would only be a hotbed of Anti-Nationalism and waste the time of busy people. I don’t think I convinced him. He spends a good part of his time in Eastern Europe and lives the life of visits, speeches, decisions, resolutions and conferences in which he is cut off from the non-communist world. Sean Redmond was there. I think he has a much wider outlook and is more reliable, though he lacks the other man’s panache.
In the evening there was a party at Muriel Saidlear’s, who is trying to revive the old Dublin custom of the salon. It promised to follow Hans Breitman’s party of which the rhyme ran:
“And now de guests began for to fight
Mit table legs and chairs.”
The occasion was Roy Johnston, who did not this time smash any glasses but brought his own bottle of home-made deplorable plonk and drank it on his own, Janice admiring, and punctuated his denunciations of Michael O’Riordan with shouts and bangs on the table. Tonight was the first time when I saw his eyes when he was in a tantrum. “He’s off his head,” I said to myself, and decided to tease him no more but to humour him. Speaking of Michael O’Riordan he shouted, “I’d dance on his grave.” He certainly would go joyfully to the funeral but would take his own liquor. Tony Coughlan had not spotted that he was a bit cracked and pulled his leg mercilessly and drew ever angrier expostulations. After it was over I told him what I had seen, and that the man could have a nervous breakdown. He still looks young, but there is a certain unhealthiness which I did not see before.
November 4 Sunday: I went to the Irish Sovereignty Movement annual meeting in the afternoon, on the invitation of Micheál O Loingsigh and said a few words [The Irish Sovereignty Movement had been set up by Anthony Coughlan and others following Ireland’s accession to the EEC in 1973 to campaign against further supranational integration and advocate a united Ireland]. I knew quite a few of the people, Uinseann MacEoin, Derry Kelleher, and needless to say Roy Johnston, Cathal MacLiam, Tony Coughlan, Muriel Saidlear and many more. In the evening Cathal gave a farewell party, for which I helped him to carry loads of drink yesterday afternoon. Feargal Costello was there, and I told him of my suspicions of intrigue at Rathmines [ie. in the ITGWU research and communication office in Palmerston Road]. He was very pleased to have the information. I mentioned my intuition about Roy Johnston to Cathal, who said to me, “Didn’t I tell you two years ago that Roy was going off his head?” I then remembered that he had, but that I had not taken it seriously. I asked Mairin [ie. Roy Johnston’s, former wife, who lived nearby at 22 Belgrave Road]. She said she had known it for years. She used to have to lock herself in her room to keep away from him. But Muriel Saidlear did not think him abnormal. She said that Tomás MacGiolla rants and raves in the same way, and I recalled a party Tony Coughlan told me about when Cathal Goulding and Tomás MacGiolla brought a magnum or jeroboam of brandy from the SFWP bar and two Americans and Ernest Bennett the transvestite were there. When the pseudo-female got excited the masculinity of his voice was too apparent and an American woman deflated him by calling him a “silly young fellow”. Now they must all know they are wrong and try to bluster their way out of it.
November 5 Monday: I was in Liberty Hall most of the day reading the Executive Council minutes of 1923-47. It is a slow dull job. I told Daltún O Ceallaigh that I did not accept that there was no contract, although the terms had not been settled and I intended to proceed on that basis. In the evening I saw Lee Levenson in Buswell’s Hotel. She has not yet got a publisher for Sam’s book but is working hard on Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington. Later on Malachy O Caollai [then a senior member of Conradh na Gaeilge, the Gaelic League] came in. He agreed to come to Liverpool on December 9th to speak about Pearse. He is a person I have formed a high opinion of.
November 6 Tuesday: On the way down to Liberty Hall who should I meet but Arthur Reynolds [An old acquaintance of Greaves’s from Reynolds’s student days; editor of the “Irish Skipper”]. He is still publishing his fishing magazine, and I wonder where he gets his exuberant energy. Perhaps he is a bit of a Peter Pan. I saw Daltún O Ceallaigh who told me that Michael Mullen returns tomorrow. Back at 111 Meadow Grove Tony Coughlan gave me a typed document Roy Johnston had produced. I only glanced at it and have half a mind not to bother with it. He describes his own isolation and denounces the CPI, whom he almost accuses of having a military wing. The essential fallacy is the belief that politics can be conducted from a theoretical formula constructed outside politics.
November 7 Wednesday: I had lunch with O Luanaigh [Keeper of Manuscripts at the National Library] and afterwards we went to Liberty Hall to look at the documents which are to go to the National Library. He is a Galway man and his main interest is history, and in particular the relations between Ireland and France. This morning the current “Marxism Today” arrived at Tony Coughlan’s. There is an atrocious article by Seán and Michael Morrissey, a woeful economistic farrago [Sean Morrissey was a leading CP member in Belfast, of Catholic background and an active trade unionist. Michael was his son, a university lecturer]. It confirmed me in a theory which I presented to O Luanaigh. After the hedge schoolmasters and to discipline them in 1828 we got the “murder machine” [ie. the national elementary education system established by the British Government]. After the Trade Unions had set up Sunday Schools we got the Education Act of 1870. And following the immense expansion of Marxism following the Second World War we had the foundation of the university departments of politics, whose tactic was to make it academic. If they could not do that they could not assimilate the masses of young workers whose class was represented in Colleges for the first time. Young Michael has been overwhelmed by his new surroundings and swallowed the bait hook line and sinker.
November 8 Thursday: I indicated to Daltún O Ceallaigh that I wished to see Michael Mullen, but I did not telephone him myself. He spoke to him but he replied that he was engaged all this week. Then I spoke to him when we met accidentally. He said he had been in Poland and what a fine place it was – perhaps this was before Daltún spoke to him, or I would have adverted to the business. Daltún then said I would stay till Monday and he asked him to see from his secretary whether a time could be fixed.
During the evening Eddie Cowman phoned. He seems to be managing very well. The other young fellow [ie. Noel Gordon] is convalescing with his aunt in London. Apparently we will be lucky if we get him before Christmas.
November 9 Friday: Daltún O Ceallaigh made an appointment with Michael Mullen’s secretary for 3 pm. on Monday. I was going tomorrow but stayed. I was busy all day on the minutes and will finish on Monday. In the evening I called in to Buswell’s to see Lee Levenson as she returns to the USA tomorrow. Micheál O Loingsigh came to 111 Meadow Grove. He is not cast down by his loss [ie. by the loss of a major printing contract for his business, Drogheda Printers].
November 10 Saturday: I did some shopping and called in to Michael O’Riordan. He showed me an even worse article than that “Marxism Today” one in the “Irish Socialist Review”, this time under Sean Morrissey’s name but obviously written by the young fellow. I told Michael O’Riordan that I call this the Laputan invasion, and I hope to fire a shot at it. We lunched with Cal O’Herlihy.
November 11 Sunday: Cal came to lunch and we had a long talk. He is a successful businessman, now very anti-Soviet and of the opinion that the EEC is an excellent thing and that Ireland cannot possibly be independent, but must be integrated either into Britain or the EEC. The development is simple. They all viewed the USSR romantically, and when confronted with the reality that (as R. Palme Dutt puts it) the sun had spots, went to the other extreme. I wrote a reply to Roy Johnston. I told him to concentrate on one issue and make peace with O’Riordan. Cal told us that one of his children is semi-autistic but can do all manner of calculations while unable to speak. Micheál O Loingsigh came in late at night and said that he is going to jail for refusing to pay his television licence. The guards have been up four times to ask him to pay, but he refuses. I am not sure that this is not ill-advised under present circumstances. Some of the Gaelic Leaguers are operating an illegal radio station, but perhaps history is best deprived of the knowledge of who they are.
November 12 Monday: Today came the denouement. I was in Liberty Hall at noon when Daltún O Ceallaigh’s secretary rang saying that Michael Mullen had rung saying that he could not keep our appointment. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and said I drew the conclusion that Mullen wanted the project, his own, to continue but has been drawn into some compromise by the intrigues at Rathmines, which he was ashamed to tell me. When Daltún O Ceallaigh came in he was extremely annoyed. He took the trouble to check whether Mullen had any engagements, and he had not. He asked me what I was going to do. I replied that when the right time came, that is to say when payment was due, I would present my bill. Soon after this I answered a request from Francis Devine to have a talk with me and was in Room No. 1 when I took out the minutes to return them to the strong room. I saw Michael Mullen standing by the door, and by some instinct that I must neither be cordial nor offensive, I waved to him. Now General-Secretaries are not usually waved at.
Then Daltún O Ceallaigh went and Francis Devine and I went for a drink. I find that I certainly misjudged the person he is. Actually he is a very fine person. So I have two discoveries. He told me (and I had guessed this) that he was contemplating joining the CPI, and he was attracted to it by his respect for Fergal Costello, a respect which is justified. It seems that the intriguers have been busy in Rathmines and that they have not hesitated to stoop to slander. He was thinking of giving up the job, and Taplin offered him a job in Liverpool [ie. Eric Taplin, 1925-2012, labour historian and authority on the history of Liverpool]. But he did not take it. He was wondering what to do. His knowledge of Labour history is exhaustive. He tells me that this American, Miss Hazelkorn, belongs to SFWP and that the academics have moved in on the whole thing [ie. on Labour history generally and locally on to the Irish Labour History Society]. He drove me back to 111 Meadow Grove.
When I was sitting in the room and sorting things out to take to Liverpool, Daltún O Ceallaigh rang and said he would be there in ten minutes with his wife Deirbhle. I told him I had formed a revised opinion of Francis Devine and I now knew the slight shiftiness he sometimes displays is due to shyness. He told me, in much the same terms as JM [unknown whom these initials refer to] that he was “not a pusher”.
Daltún then told me that it was he who had persuaded him not to go back to England but to soldier on. He [ie. Francis Devine] has immense respect for Daltún O Ceallaigh, of whom he says, “He is such a clear person. They hate him but they can’t get anything on him.”
Then Daltún told me his business. Taking up a document to Michael Mullen’s secretary, he found Mullen in the office, not drunk, but with drink taken. “I hope Desmond Greaves wasn’t upset when I couldn’t see him this afternoon.” Now on the way home I suddenly formed the suspicion that the MS had gone to the reader and that they were unable to discuss it with me until it came back. And this indeed it was. Mullen made a clean breast of it. It had gone to Trinity College, he thinks to McCarthy [ie. Charlie McCarthy,1924-86, former General Secretary of the Vocational Teachers Union (later the Teachers Union of Ireland) and at this time Professor of Industrial Relations at TCD and author of thr book, “Trade Unions in Ireland 1894-1960”]. They think Larkin is glorified at the expense of Connolly and that the Introduction is unnecessary. He then tackled him about the contract. “Oh that’s all right. No difficulty.” But Clancy says it’s to go to the Executive.” “Oh – Don’t bother about that. I’ll see Kennedy and Carroll.” Daltún then asked about the order and publishers. “Just let me know what I’ve to do and I’ll do it.” The whole thing causes me a little wry amusement. Now protest is always futile. You must counter with policy. And I propose to suggest that in the event of their “professional reader” wishing for alterations I am unwilling to make, the matter be referred to arbitrators mutually agreed. It was all very interesting.
November 13 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Dun Laoire, Caergybi and back to Liverpool. Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze sent me three copies of a very interesting report on the conference in Halle [ie. one of the six biennial conferences on “Ireland: Culture and Society”, that Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, professor of English at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, organised in the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s and early 1980s. An article by Desmond Greaves on “Ireland in English Literature” was read by A.Coughlan on Greaves’s behalf at one of these conferences. The text of this may be found under the heading “Articles” on this web-site.]
November 14 Wednesday: I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. The Irish Sovereignty Movement intends sending a deputation to England on December 9th. Tony had arranged to have a meeting with Michael Mullen in the hope of persuading him to join it. The appointment was for lunch yesterday, but Mullen did not turn up and later suggested today, asking that Daltún O Ceallaigh be present. Eddie Cowman telephoned to give an account of the preparations for the Liverpool meeting. Something like 160 invitations have been sent.
I should have recorded more of the conversation with Francis Devine, but the Michael Mullen thing was uppermost in my mind. Apparently Francis Devine was North of England organiser of Clann na hEireann when Rooney was in the Connolly Association in Leeds. He did not think much of Rooney. He also met Wymark there and was suspicious of him. I think we [ie. the CPGB presumably] might have done harm by accepting people who were unable to impress others favourably. He has drifted away from SFWP owing to their shift of policy, much like Eoin O Murchú, but I would have more confidence in him than in Eoin, who seems a bit of a romantic. Eddie Cowman rang saying another CP branch had asked for a speaker, and that West Middlesex had tabled a motion at the Congress [ie. the regular policy conference of the CPGB] pointing out the importance of “mass organisations” (bless us!) like the Connolly Association. Perhaps we can detect the result of the cessation of a certain lady’s activity. She is still on the EC. Of the old crowd only Jack Woddis remains, and Gordon McLennan of the next generation. I saw the list today [ie. of nominees for the new CPGB Executive]. It contains some odd names.
November 15 Thursday: I went into the city in the afternoon, for Eddie Cowman had sent me the invitations to the Liverpool meeting. I called in to the Trades Council office and left a copy there.
November 16 Friday (London): I came to London and Eddie Cowman came into the office. Later I was out in Kilburn with Philip Rendle and stayed the night at Eddie Cowman’s place. Gerry Curran is due to take up residence there tomorrow. Noel Gordon is still off sick.
November 17 Saturday: I was in the office during the day. In the morning Gerry Curran telephoned to say he was sick and could not meet me tonight. Accordingly Philip Rendle stepped into the breach. Gerry Curran did not arrive.
November 18 Sunday: In the evening I called on Charlie Cunningham. I left Philip Rendle nearby in a public house, and went on my own, expecting a very gloomy and depressed man. But on the contrary Charlie Cunningham hailed me with great cordiality, produced whiskey, tried to persuade me to stay the night and brought Philip Rendle in. After I had told him what I learned today, that Pat Hensey [a long-standing CA member] had died, something that did not appear to affect him much, he put on his coat and said, “What about this sale we’re going on,” and we went to Hammersmith. He agreed to dismantle the fixtures of 33 Argyle Square, which since the ceiling collapsed is not liveable in. Toni Curran told Eddie Cowman that Gerry Curran (standing beside her) was not going to Dennington Park Mansions [ie. where Eddie Cowman had his flat].
November 19 Monday: I worked on the paper.
November 20 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. In the evening Eddie Cowman and I went to the House of Commons where we saw A.W.Stallard [MP for St Pancras]. He was extremely cordial, but I detected marked signs of vanity. Every other sentence began with “I’. He has been elected chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Parliamentary Labour Party and is taking Flannery and Parker to see Atkins [ie. Humphrey Atkins, Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 1979-1981]. He agreed to call a meeting for Tony Coughlan, Terence McCaughey, Daltún O Ceallaigh and Michael Mullen when they come over on behalf of the ISM.
November 21 Wednesday: At midday I spoke to the Irish Society at the South Bank Polytechnic. It was an excellent meeting. In the evening I spoke to the Central London branch [ie. of the Connolly Association].
November 22 Thursday: I worked on the paper. In the evening I had a wild goose chase to Coventry where a student meeting fell through. I returned to London and found Eddie Cowman and Philip Rendle wondering how to fill the gap after Gerry Curran’s defection. We think he has had to eat humble pie and go back to Toni Curran. He handed in no book page this month [Gerry Curran had been for years in charge of the page of book reviews for the “Irish Democrat”].
November 23 Friday: I finished the paper and did a sale in the evening. I have had difficulty thanks to Tony Coughlan’s sending in only half of his usual amount of copy. Micheál O Loingsigh went to jail for not paying his TV licence and Tony had to run a campaign.
November 24 Saturday: Gerry Curran came out tonight. When I asked whether he had gone back to Toni he blushed as red as a beetroot, no mean feat for a man of 56. I changed the subject when he said he had not. I think he went back and was thrown out again – though against this is the fact that he is still in his “digs”. He could not have given notice there and could have saved Philip Rendle (who takes over the flat from Eddie Cowman) much trouble if he had announced his intentions earlier. Possibly he kept the flat hoping for a reconciliation which did not occur. He was certainly heavy company tonight. In the afternoon Charlie Cunningham came in.
November 25 Sunday (Liverpool): We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Eddie Cowman finally resigned as General Secretary. Noel Gordon remained organiser and I reverted to nominal secretary. I heard from Pat Bond that the CP are going to start a National Irish Advisory Committee. These committees do not advise. They interfere and bungle. I do not know whether they will invite me to serve. I intend to refuse. And I told Noel Gordon to keep off it. Myant asked Philip Rendle for a list of people. What has happened is that Sinn Fein the Workers Party is out and the Northern Ireland CP is in. I am absolutely determined to have no interference. Let them make fools of themselves, not of us. They live in a dream world. I came back to Liverpool.
November 26 Monday: I found a letter from Telefis Eireann inviting me to give one of the Thomas Davis lectures. I accepted. I spoke to Daltún O Ceallaigh about the delegation. I cannot make contact with Tony Coughlan.
At last, at 11.30, I got Tony Coughlan. He was tired and (for once) going to bed. But I am compelled to remark that I detected an element of academic detachment which approached ingenuousness. I had assumed that the delegation coming on the 12th was one of the ISM. But apparently the presence of Michael Mullen makes a difference. He questioned giving the ISM publicity but could suggest no alternative. They seem more interested in the results over there than the impact they make here.
November 27 Tuesday: I rang Daltún O Ceallaigh at 9 am. and told him about my misgivings and Tony’s naivete. Daltún immediately knew what I meant. As he said, he “had it from nine to five every day”. Michael Mullen has to have a script written for him which he can read out. Why do they bring a straw man? I told them they should not have accepted his money. So I said let him read out items of Union policy and the MPs will think he is over-cautious rather than tongue-tied. Then the others can answer the questions. He was prepared to spend two days, but now wants to go back at once. I had a press conference arranged for the 13th. I will bring it to the twelfth but spend the minimum amount of money on it. I also told Daltún O Ceallaigh that while I had discouraged Michael Mullen from writing direct to Benn and to Lawrence Daly, now let him make what approaches he wishes as long as our part of the thing goes smoothly. To be fair to Tony Coughlan he has been desperately busy, but he is immersed in TCD in peace and security and makes policy from the cabinet. I wish they had left Michael Mullen out of it. It would also have been elementary to come over as a preliminary, but while Tony told me three weeks ago that he was coming on Tuesday 11th, now he will merely arrive, dog tired, on Wednesday morning.
I went to Ripley to read the proofs of the paper. All went well. Daltún O Ceallaigh rang from Tony Coughlan’s late at night. Michael Mullen, who a couple of weeks ago was all for spending several days in London, now wants to get out of it before he gets in. I think it was a mistake to involve him financially. It is possible that he is surrounded by influences. He is as inconstant as a Member of Parliament.
November 28 Wednesday: I spent the morning on accounts and wondering how to raise the money I need. Then I went into the city. Barney Morgan had said the young fellow in the CP bookshop wanted a stall at our meeting. I went to see him, made sure that no “Repsol“[ie. SFWP publications], BICO or even CPI literature would be there and agreed to let him do it. Barney thinks there will be an audience once the ad appears in the “Irish Post”. On the telephone Steve Huggett told me he had been speaking at Tottenham CP and the influence of Clann na hEireann ideas is considerable. The Liverpool bookshop man said he will handle BICO but not “Provisionals”.
November 29 Thursday: I rang Noel Gordon in the morning. I think he will be all right. He and Eddie Cowman were at the young Liberals’ meeting where the “young fellow” who is “National Organiser” of the “New CP” was full of brave talk. The Connolly Association had collected as many signatures to their petition as all the others put together. They have only 1000 in all and propose to extend the time. The NCP man talked about people “queuing up to sign it” in East London, but as Noel Gordon remarked, “brought none with him.” I wrote to Betty Sinclair about Michael Morrissey’s article and about Bew, Gibbon and Patterson. A copy of “Saothar”[ie. the Irish Labour History Society annual publication] came in which Patterson applauds an effort to shift all blame for Partition from imperialism. Noel Gordon told me that nearly 200 papers were sold at the Labour Party demonstration – an important lift when we lose £100 per week. I have of course put down all work on the ITGWU history pending a payment and am concentrating on alternatives. Also I do not feel inclined, and Tony Coughlan advises me not, to tackle a third volume. I will try to get payment for Volume 2.
In the afternoon the weather was so mild that I cycled to Raby and back. There was a warm southerly breeze which I could feel on my hands and knees when riding into it. I would think its temperature over 60’F. But in hollows and out of the wind the temperature was lower. But gloves were unnecessary – something true of few days in mid-October. The leaves hung long this year but have fallen.
November 30 Friday: I was busy most of the day but made little progress. The clothesline snapped in the gale. I had to nail together an indoor “maiden”. The mortice lock would not work on the front door. I had to file away some metal. I rang Jimmy McGill in Manchester and he told me that a car load was coming on the 9th. I brought in the tomatoes which had been hanging in the garage to ripen and cut off the firm fruit for consumption cold and the over-ripe ones I made into purée. I rang Noel Gordon who seemed in good form. He reminded me that I have to give a lecture on Swift on February 2nd and another on St. Patrick at the end of March. It was still mild and I lit no fire till evening. But it was blowing hard until early evening. So I suppose it will be soon cooler.
December 1 Saturday (London): I caught the 10.05 to London and found Noel Gordon in the office. There was no sign of Eddie Cowman and I have something of a feeling that we will not see much more of him. But I cannot speak too highly of the responsible way he completed everything and left it in order. We shall miss his energising presence, though I think Noel will be a success. Jane Tate and others came in. I was out with Philip Rendle in Camden Town in the evening and stayed the night with Charlie Cunningham in West Kensington.
December 2 Sunday: I went into the office. Gerry Curran came in during the afternoon and was in doleful dumps. But he had tea at Charlie Cunningham’s and we went out in Paddington. He is continually belching and either this is through not getting proper food or is nervous tension. I rather think the latter. Anybody would say “why does he not pull himself together?” But I think he has not the nervous energy. He would seem to be either endogenously or constitutionally depressive. Charlie Cunningham is going to stay with his brother in Italy for a month, so he handed me the keys of his flat, to use when I wish while he is away. Charlie and Steve Huggett moved my goods and chattels out of 33 Argyle Square to 283 Gray’s Inn Road [ie. the Connolly Association office in that street].
December 3 Monday (Liverpool): The gas fitter was to have arrived between 9.30 and 12 am. to disconnect gas at 33 Argyle Square. I wrote declining to accept further responsibility and sent the meter reading. I posted the keys back to Camden Council. I was thus able to reverse the process undertaken 43 years ago almost to the day, when I went from Liverpool to London. During the day I made arrangements for the visit of Tony Coughlan, Michael Mullen, Daltún O Ceallaigh and Terence McCaughey and had lunch with George Smith who was very helpful. He asked if the NCCL [ie. the National Council for Civil Liberties] conference material had arrived. I am pretty sure it did not, and that it did not last year either. I attribute this to the intrigues of that Scorer woman. He said he would look into it. They do not like the resolutions we send. I rang up Tony Gilbert, who told me that Kay Beauchamp had been knocked down by a motor car and though out of hospital cannot get up for more than five minutes at a time. The motorist is being prosecuted, but that does not help Kay Beauchamp. I caught the 5.32 pm. train and finally spoke to Tony Coughlan on the telephone at 11 pm. to tell him the latest. I had spoken to Jock Stallard in the morning.
December 4 Tuesday: I spent the day clearing up, with little obvious result. Noel Gordon rang. He had had further assistance from George Smith.
December 5 Wednesday: I spent the greater part of the day continuing the clearing up but made some preparations for Sunday’s meeting. John Gibson told me on the ‘phone that he has to go to the NUS conference in Blackpool and will not be there. He did not sound hopeful of a good gathering. Maolachlann O Caollai had thought it was already a week off, but is coming thanks to my reminder!
December 6 Thursday: I went on with washing clothes and clearing up.
December 7 Friday: The same again. I learned Brian Stowell had called in to the office at 283 Gray’s Inn Road.
December 8 Saturday: I met Jane Tate at Lime Street, took her to lunch and then left her at the “Morning Star” bazaar. Roger O Hara was there, as cordial as a Liverpudlian could be I suppose. The warmth of the Manchester people is lacking. They are more like Cockneys.
December 9 Sunday: I met Maolachlann O Caollai at Chester and brought him into town. There were 29 people at the meeting. I had said I would be happy if there were 30. Among them were Brian Stowell, who took the chair, Barney Morgan, Mrs Gibson – John being in Blackpool – several young people from Brian Stowell’s Irish class, and five from Manchester, including Jimmy McGill, Pat Garrett and Lena Daly. Her son Michael is at Sunderland Polytechnic, in his second year. She told me an extremely amusing story about Michael Crowe [A leading CA member who was notoriously absent-minded. He was a university lecturer in French]. He is getting worse than ever. His hair is frizzed out like a golliwog’s and he sails into the lecture room with one lens out of his spectacles. When she took young Michael up there Michael Crowe was to put him up; when she rang a woman answered and she could not make contact with Michael. She believes he was in London at the time, but I told her that it was owing to some mysterious fault on the line that people frequently got through to this woman. Now she was given Malloch’s as a reserve number. She rang it and received an address. But nobody could tell her where it was. She rang again and Douglas said he had sent his daughter out looking for them. “Jump into a taxi,” he said, “you’ll be here in five minutes.” They waited in a long queue for the taxi only to be told there was no such address in Sunderland. Mystified they rang again from the “digs” which young Michael was to inhabit. “That’s a Newcastle number,” said the landlady. When they got through Douglas asked, “Do you appreciate you’re 25 miles away?” Michael Crowe had forgotten to mention that important fact. They were chasing each other in two separate towns.
This we heard after the meeting, in the Irish Centre. On the whole I was satisfied. We pulled together what we had before and a little extra and found one or two young people. Jane Tate decided to accept a lift to Blackpool tomorrow, so will not come to London with me. Brian Stowell and I saw Maolachlann O Caollai off at Rock Ferry at 10.45 pm.
December 10 Monday (London): I went to London on the 1.05 train. There was nobody in the office. Noel Gordon had gone shopping. But Eddie Cowman telephoned to suggest we had a meal together. He has got a job in Waterford with Jim Cosgrave’s brother, and leaves on the 23rd. I stayed at Charlie Cunningham’s flat.
December 11 Tuesday: I was in the office most of the day. It is clear to me that Noel Gordon has it in him to make a success, so we are fortunate. In the evening of all people Bill Burke telephoned [a veteran Connolly Association member from the 1940s/1950s]. Pat Bond had had him selling raffle tickets. He came in and we had a drink together. He looks well enough though he says he had tuberculosis twice. He did not know Jim O’Regan was dead[a veteran left-wing republican in Cork]. He has not been in Cork for five years. It will be like the olden days if as well as Flann Campbell we have Bill Burke back!
December 12 Wednesday: Again I was in the office in the morning, rounding up people for the press conference in the afternoon. Tony Coughlan arrived at about 10.00 am. The conference itself was a success beyond all expectations. Five full-time officials of the TGWU attended, led by Peter Kavanagh. George Smith represented the London Association of Trade Councils. The NCCL was there, Hilary Kitchen and Vishna Sharma representing them. Somebody told me afterwards that he is now on the Executive of the CP. Joan Hyman represented Liberation – I had to suggest her to Tony Gilbert, who would have sent nobody. Jeff Sawtell was there – he has been ill with heart disease. Pat Byrne and Hammie Donoghue were there from the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster, two of the Young Liberals Committee, Bob Fairley and the new secretary of the Political Committee of the London Co-op. Nobody came from the “Morning Star”. The News Editor told me the invitation had not arrived – but perhaps Myant had it. He was most keen to send somebody and undertook to ask Myant as soon as he came out of a meeting. Evidently the young man decided against it. I would like to know what game he is playing – Northern Ireland CP (orange communist section) or simple English chauvinism? The “New Worker” was there.
As for the delegation [ie. from the Irish Sovereignty Movement in Dublin], they were Tony Coughlan, Michael Mullen, Terence McCaughey and Daltún O Ceallaigh. As luck had it, Noel Gordon spotted Ken Gill in a bar of the Ivanhoe [A leading British Trade Unionist, General Secretary of TASS, and a member of the TUC Executive Council. The Ivanhoe Hotel was near the TUC building in Great Russell Street]. He was at a meeting of the TUC. Michael Mullen had previously met Lawrence Daly [General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers] who sent me his good wishes. But none of them knew Gill but myself, so I introduced Michael Mullen and he introduced us to Barnett. Gill was most helpful. There were several suggestions for carrying the matter further. George Smith suggested trying to get a delegation to speak to the conference of Trade Councils. The interesting thing is that those in the CP who oppose our policy are so obviously ignorant of the Irish question that they have no authority.
As we left for the House of Commons Michael Mullen mentioned the history. He complained that there was not enough Connolly in it. The Union did not support the Rising and did not even protest at Connolly’s execution; but Connolly is now an asset whereas then he was a liability. However, I had already decided to meet any reasonable request. If SFWP criticise it I will simply say I was requested to add a few particulars about the General Secretary’s extra-Union activities. The SFWP crowd have incidentally gone almost unionist.
At the House of Commons all was not so good. Stallard had no doubt for his own reasons, now he has a committee to play with, called the meeting under conditions that forbade the attendance of non-MPs apart from the delegation. Only five MPs turned up. Stallard, Dobson, Tom Dalyell and two others. While we were wating for them I went over and had a chat with Joan Maynard, a decent woman, though not an accomplished politician. Michael Mullen went off to his hotel. Tony Coughlan, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Eddie Cowman, Noel Gordon, Philip Rendle and I went first to the office, then for a meal. We had a drink with the Central London branch members. This I considered important. I was very pleased with the day’s work. It will do Noel Gordon a power of good. The whole secret of political development is to practise politics. The CP is failing because it is too inward-looking. An interesting thing was that Michael Ryan has “surfaced”. He thinks he will not be outshone by Eddie Cowman anymore. But as I said to Eddie, he will not find it so easy to outshine Noel Gordon!
December 13 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office. Tony Coughlan and Noel Gordon came. I wrote a few letters and returned to Liverpool on the 3.50 train. The way seems clear to resume work on the 2nd volume, but I still have the matter of fee to decide.
December 14 Friday: I did nothing much, cleared up a bit, and rang people I wished to speak to.
December 15 Saturday: I met Barney Morgan at Lime Street, but we missed Tony Coughlan who was coming from Edinburgh. Later I met him in the underground and Barney Morgan called in for a few minutes in the evening. Tony Coughlan had seen Alan Morton who has only one chapter of his History of Botany to complete. I suggested to Tony that we get out the report of the press conference as a pamphlet.
December 16 Sunday: Tony Coughlan left at about 10.10 and for the rest of the day I did little. I heard a radio performance of Verdi’s Requiem and took out the score – which I had bought in 1947! – to follow it. It was a hard austere performance, I thought lacking in lyricism. Since I require so much higher standards than I did in the understanding of music I found the work complicated. It is clear that the composer attached special significance to the chord of C-Major. It may be that the repeat of the “requiem” in the “Libera me” a tone lower, may have as its object having the last chorus in C-Minor and thus resolving into C-major for the conclusion. But there are extraordinary things – a piece in B-flat Minor to which there is a tonic chord of G-major as an “amen,” after which the final chord is in B-flat Major. This last twelve years I have been so steeped in the music of the classical period that I no longer “accept” romantic music as I formerly did.
I drafted a letter for Michael Mullen. Tony Coughlan and I discussed his complaint that there is not enough Connolly in the book. In fact everything that has survived regarding Connolly’s work for the union is in it. What then does Michael Mullen know about that he wants included? Obviously Connolly’s work for other bodies, the Irish Citizen Army and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. In a word the Transport Union wants to claim credit for the rising of 1916! They allowed the hoisting of the green flag only on the promise that the ICA would vacate Liberty Hall within a week. They failed to protest against the executions. When later they tried to claim posthumous credit for the Rising by granting Lillie and Nora a pension, both of them refused it on the grounds that Connolly had not died for the ITGWU but for the whole nation. I decided to insert a short chapter on the Rising and we will see if that satisfies them.
I learned that Pat Bond made £150 on his social and dance and that the ballot did well.
December 17 Monday: I spent part of the day clearing up and also had a look at the “Laputan” book by Spew, Gibber and Chatterson [ie. Messrs Bew, Gibbon and Patterson, who wrote the book “The State in. Northern Ireland 1921-1972: Political Forces and Social Classes”, which Greaves wrote an article criticising; see under “Articles” on this web-site].
December 18 Tuesday: I wrote a number of letters.
December 19 Wednesday (London): I went to London. Noel Gordon was in the office, and later Eddie Cowman came down. I went to dinner at Pat O’Donohue’s. His wife’s brother – a lad of about 23 – was there, and later Toni Curran came. The bus passed Argyle Road where Gerry Curran is now living. I was sorry he was so near and yet so far. There is no doubt that Pat O’Donohue has improved, probably as a result of the influence of wife and baby. When I reached 12 C.Road [ie. the road in Shepherd’s Bush, name unknown, where Charlie Cunningham had his flat] Charlie Cunningham was still there. But he says he is off to Italy tomorrow and will not be present at Eddie Cowman’s farewell party, which is the object of my journey.
December 20 Thursday: I went into the office and later had lunch with Noel Gordon. He has more character than I expected. His parents are both deaf and one is blind. He therefore had an unusual upbringing. They are moderate unionists. When he first came over he did everything possible to avoid Pat Bond, not wishing to associate with the “too nationalistic” Connolly Association, but in time he was entailed.
In the evening Gerry Curran came in and we went to Eddie Cowman’s party at the Mother Redcap. It could have been better attended. Perhaps some of the fools whom Eddie does not suffer gladly stayed away. But the “hard core” were there, including Jeff Sawtell, who has grown a vast beard after being in hospital with heart disease. His mother lives in Ellesmere Port and he is going to Liverpool for Christmas. Pat Bond was there, and Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, but not Helen McMurray who is ill, and Joe Glenholmes who had been to see his brother who is in jail. He told me that when the Robinson issue (the shop-steward victimised for criticising Leyland management plans) arose, the “Euro-communists” in the office had to bring back Frank Watters to take charge. They were incapable of handling it. Glenholmes himself was arrested and Frank Watters moved heaven and earth to get him out. I suppose there were 35 to 40 people present. We presented Eddie with a “Nonesuch” Swift. Charlie Cunningham had gone when I returned to 12 C. Road.
December 21 Friday (Liverpool): I bought a copy of the “Nonesuch” Swift myself, as in moving my books from 33 Argyle Square to the office I have mislaid my grandfather’s copy, which anyway is getting dilapidated. I again had lunch with Noel Gordon who is flying to Belfast tomorrow. I asked him, if he had an opportunity, to try to ascertain whether any influence from Belfast is being brought to bear on the “Morning Star” to boycott Connolly Association news. I am inclined to think not but want to know. I caught a Manchester relief train and changing at Crewe immediately caught a train from Paddington (of all places) to Liverpool.
December 22 Saturday: The shortest day – not too cold. There is a hollyhock in flower and broccoli that went to seed. I spent the afternoon getting in food and drink for the annual nonsense. I imagine most shops will be closed for most of next week. No word from Dorothy Greaves. I wonder if she has died.
December 23 Sunday: I did little enough, except listen to the radio and take another look at this desperate farrago of confusion that the three academic humbugs have concocted [ie. Messrs Bew, Gibbon and Patterson, authors of the book, “The State in Northern Ireland 1922-1972: Political Forces and Social Classes”, published 1980].
December 24 Monday: I met Sawtell at Charing Cross, Birkenhead, with his wife. He is, of course, a strong ” hardliner”, and talks all the time about the errors of the “Euros”. I must say he has a contempt for all the people I have a contempt for myself, for example Gerry Cohen and Myant. He told me that he used to visit Klugman [ie. James Klugman, veteran CPGB official] and that before he died he told Sawtell that he had “lost his faith”. So it has been “faith” – and what he then wanted to do was to “die in the party”. That would seem to me possible. He says that people like Cohen took alarm at the way Cook was trying to take them [ie. David Cook, CPGB national organiser, who supported “Eurocommunist” positions], and consequently they were stopped in their tracks at the last Congress. He says Gordon McLennan is weak and “centrist” and that some Americans who were over here hunting deviation agents hit upon George Matthews and Jack Woddis. I told them to put such nonsense out of their heads. Human stupidity can achieve for more than human villainy. He sells 1400 copies of his paper “Artery” at 50p. a time and makes a profit [This was a cultural and art quarterly edited by Jeff Sawtell that championed left unity between 1971 and 1984]. I had heard in London that he had been very ill. His wife told me that his doctor thought there was nothing wrong with him but stress. He told me that at the CP Congress the platform told the delegates that the reason for their loss of members was the denial of civil rights in the USSR – something I thought highly unlikely as they scarcely turn a hair at atrocities in their own back yard [ie. in Northern Ireland].
December 25 Tuesday: I worked on the review.
December 26 Wednesday: I went on with the review but listened to the Magic Flute on the radio in the evening.
December 27 Thursday: I worked on the paper. Pat Bond told me he had located Gerry Curran and that copy is coming for the book page. I wrote a short review instead.
December 28 Friday: I continued with work on the paper.
December 29 Saturday: I sent one page off. Unfortunately, owing to a postal strike I doubt if it will be collected in time.
December 30 Friday: I went on with work on the paper.
December 31 Monday: I sent off one more page. But all the copy but part of Pat Bond’s is held up in the post. Gerry Curran telephoned. He posted his copy last Wednesday but there is no sign of it. Tony Coughlan turned in very little this month. I can see myself sitting typing articles to fill up [Pat Bond provided the song page for the eight-page “Irish Democrat” monthly, Gerry Curran edited the book page and Anthony Coughlan acted as its Dublin correspondent, each in a voluntary unpaid capacity].
The radio was full of the Russian action in Afghanistan. There is little doubt that the danger of world war is greater now than at any time since 1945. It would not surprise me if the USA was “stirring it up” in the Middle East so as to have an excuse to seize the oil. I find it hard to believe that the Russians have simply embarked on an adventure. But of course it is impossible to get facts. The Russians, we are told, get no information. We get false information. So who is the worse off?
I went into the City to see what the “Morning Star” said. Gibson was in the shop. The Editorial was a fair piece of waffle, possibly a holding operation, and John Gibson thought when the appropriate committee had met there would be a condemnation of Russia. Sawtell told me that at the Congress the platform explained the loss of membership to the denial of civil rights in Russia, and Gibson thought they would move in an anti-Russian direction. They will be very foolish if they do. The British public are by no means so concerned with “democracy” as they think. I told John Gibson I was thinking of trying to get the Connolly Association going in Liverpool. He promised any help he could give. But I will have to do some hard thinking. Probably the thing to do is to go and see as many people as possible. That is a nuisance and time-consuming, but it looks as if it will have to be done.
January 1 Tuesday: This being a holiday there was no reason to go out. Moreover, yesterday’s violent hailstorms left their debris everywhere and it was very cold. I think the turnips are finished. Perhaps they might sprout and furnish spring greens! The borage, flowering till Christmas, has died. A solitary bedraggled hollyhock stands in the front garden.
I don’t think I ever made a New Year resolution these past forty-five years. But one came to my mind, and as it would have been accepted without the New Year, so it must not be rejected because of it. The word is “action”.
January 2 Wednesday: A letter from Tony Coughlan informed me that he met Sean Nolan who does not believe the boycott by the “Morning Star” is promoted from Belfast, certainly not officially. The CPI is sending a delegation in mid-January, but I imagine that their minds will be largely concentrated on Afghanistan. Tony had sent me an account of the treatment of Prendiville by the police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act [Well-known Irish journalist Paddy Prendiville had been arrested and interrogated by the police while visiting a friend in Britain whom the police alleged had connections with the Provisional IRA. His arrest under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and subsequent release was widely publicised in Ireland. Prendiville later became editor of the satirical magazine “Phoenix”]. I decided that this is the thing I have been looking for that would link the Irish and the Labour movements and give us a country-wide organisation, at the same time restoring the Connolly Association and incidentally making me independent of Michael Mullen [The ITGWU had paid him a fee for writing Vol.1 of the Union history and the position regarding the envisaged remaining two volumes was still undecided]. I rang Daltún O Ceallaigh. Nothing has been done. Tony offered £100 to print the report of the ISM delegation as a pamphlet.
January 3 Thursday: I finished the paper and posted it off.
January 4 Friday: I spent most of the day clearing up.
January 5 Saturday (London): I went to London on the 9.5 am. When I got to the office Noel Gordon was there and leaving Brian Crowley in the bookshop we went for lunch. He is more political than you would think – I would say better read than Eddie Cowman, but a more phlegmatic character. He told me that he called at Betty Sinclair’s house while in Belfast, but she was out. He went to a public house frequented by CP people. Jimmy Stewart came in, but instead of joining him went and sat in a corner. Later he invited him to a New Year party to which he went. Again both Jimmy Stewart and Edwina were there. When late at night he and Helen McMurray were leaving, Edwina said they would have liked a talk with them, “So that we’ll make no mistakes.” He said Jimmy Stewart was nervous and he had never seen him like it before. Now this is what Eddie Cowman says. I think that he secretly knows that they are opportunist and fears having to admit it. Noel also says that Jimmy Stewart has a complaint of the liver as a result of excessive drinking. Not that I’d blame him in a place like that. But Noel Gordon dislikes their generally unfriendly behaviour. He does not think that they will attend the Connolly Association Executive Council [to which they had been invited, see supra]
Pat Bond came in and I told him my views as to the next steps. The Central London branch committee met. It included all the Standing Committee but Pat Bond. So we took decisions there and then. Jane Tate, Flann Campbell, Philip Rendle and Steve Huggett were there, and Michael Rooney appeared in the book room. They seem to be holding things together. I told Philip, who didn’t like it, that I thought Chater & Co. were afflicted by political stupidity [ie. Tony Chater, who was editor of the “left-wing “Morning Star” daily newspaper, with Chris Myant as assistant editor]. Here is an arms limitation treaty. Before it is signed the Western powers decide to put hundreds of nuclear rocket launchers all over Europe, defying public opinion. The Russians conclude the treaty isn’t worth a farthing. When they get a chance of seizing a strategic advantage (whatever about the Afghans, who may be as unenthusiastic as the Europeans who have nuclear rockets thrust on them), they immediately seize it. The “Morning Star” should be saying to Mrs Thatcher: “There you are. This is your fault. Look what you’ve made them do. You’ll have us all blown up.” But the way they are talking now brings on them a danger that all their militancy on the economic front will be dissipated like mist by the first large-scale war crisis. Either the Russians are villains who must be fought, in which case they should support the Government and stop embarrassing them with wage claims, or they are possibly villains who shouldn’t be fought, in which case the Government should be paying out money instead of running the risk of fighting them. On the third finger, they might be white angels, in which case they should be supporting them. This is what they don’t want to do, but they cannot see they have a compromise position in the middle.
January 6 Sunday: I wrote letters to Noel Gordon, Pat Bond, Tony Coughlan, Betty Sinclair and John Mulcahy of “Hibernia”. I did a review of the UCATT history. I sent the review to Gerry Curran and the book to Michael Mullen – or at least I intend to tomorrow. I suggested to Mullen a special Irish edition with the Union imprint. The warmongers are in full cry on the radio [presumably over the Russian involvement in Afghanistan].
January 7 Monday: I went to Ripley. There was bright sunshine but frosty road surfaces when I left. I saw two motorcyclists fall off in five minutes. The bus was full. I had to walk to Rock Ferry, missed the train, caught a connection at Crewe that was late, and arrived at my usual time after having started out two hours early! Happily all went well.
January 8 Tuesday: I started on the RTE script [ie. for the RTE Thomas Davis lecture on “Sean O Casey and Socialism”]. Tony Coughlan rang late at night. The postal services are in a shocking state. Material posted days ago in Dublin is not yet here. Noel Gordon rang. He is looking for a flat in Tottenham.
January 9 Wednesday: In the morning Noel Gordon rang up. He said that O’Brien in Dublin, who is supplying Irish books for the “Sense of Ireland” campaign, has asked him to get stuff. Apparently Maire Comerford and Pegeen O’Flaherty are willing. A letter from Margulies arrived yesterday congratulating me on the O’Casey book. It was written in the most cordial terms possible, thanking me for the “generous” references to himself. I sent it to Skelly. Tony Coughlan rang up saying his sister was staying with him this week [She was a Catholic religious in the Presentation Order].
January 10 Thursday: I worked on the RTE script. That was all.
January 11 Friday: I went on with the RTE script.
January 12 Saturday: I spent another day on it.
January 13 Sunday: I finished the RTE script.
January 14 Monday: I typed the RTE script and posted it off. I had a letter from Betty Sinclair in which she told me that nobody in Belfast knew anything of Morrissey’s article in “Marxism Today” and that she was convinced of its poisonous nature. She had advised me not to intervene. But I did so. I wrote a letter to “Marxism Today” for favour of publication. I went to the city to get a copy of the January issue. They had not printed it. But they hadprinted a review praising to the skies the absurd book by Bew, Patterson & Co. So the ideological war is on. The Left coins the slogans under which World War III is to be fought and carries out the intellectual disarmament. The whole thing is whether there will be timefor people to see through it.
I wrote to Betty Sinclair and told her about “Marxism Today”. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan asking him to try to find the tape recording of my talk on “Marx and Ireland” at TCD [which had been given some years earlier] and also about the Wolfe Tone Society thing on self-determination. They attack in both these fields.
January 15 Tuesday: A letter came from Daltún O Ceallaigh enclosing notes of the December 12 press conference – it was dated January 5th! But he says nothing about the History. I have of course suspended work and can see I am likely to have a long period of suspension. I think that with rigid economy I could get by if I worked part-time for the “Irish Democrat” for a fee of about £150 per month. In the meantime I could look for other small items and get on with one of the books on my list. This would, barring war and civil commotion, put me in a good bargaining position with Michael Mullen & Co. I therefore propose to follow that course for the time being, basing myself on no expectations from that quarter. I think probably they wait for McCarthy. He will take as long as he can, say it’s a big job, and ask a good fee. But I wrote to Daltún O Ceallaigh asking him to get me material from the National Library. I am not going over until there is the prospect of money on the table. I started on the pamphlet. I also wrote to Joan Maynard about the war hysteria.
I see from a note on Betty Sinclair’s letter that she was with Falber in Hungary and he was making disparaging remarks about R.Palme Dutt and saying the “Labour Monthly” should be “wound up“[Reuben Falber, 1914-2006, former CPGB Assistant General Secretary] . I must say he is the strongest defender of democracy. He tries to frighten people as old big silly Peter Kerrigan did. At the 1955 Congress in Hammersmith, though we had an Irish Committee, intriguing Joe O’Connor went to see the committee that handled resolutions, needless to say without informing me. They came out for the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act. They had intended the Ireland Act! Ignorance did not preclude arrogance. I decided to try and get it corrected, and got Hostettler who, I thought, as a lawyer would convince them. It is incredible but Hostettler – then a man of over 30 years of age – was trembling and sweating with nervousness. Falber says, “We’ve seen the Irish comrades.” I told them they’d make fools of themselves unless they changed their resolution. “Is that all you want us to do?” asked Falber. “It is,” I said. So they changed it. After that I chanced across Gallacher [ie. Willie Gallacher, former CPGB MP] and blew up about their stupidity.
“Oh, Desmond,” he said, “They know nothing at all about it.”
I told Syd Abbott this and he was quite indignant. “What a thing to say. We know a lot about it.” Falber would never know anything about anything because he would not listen. But he’d make a very good Joe Stalin himself for all his talk. Betty Sinclair asks, “Is nothing sacred?”
January 16 Wednesday: I posted off the pamphlet to Ripley. I thought I might then contact Barney Morgan and get something going here. But the telephone was out of order.
January 17 Thursday: Nothing much could be done today, at least about organising, and I spent quite a time trying to get the telephone restored. An engineer called in the afternoon. I got through to Noel Gordon from a call box. He had the woeful news that he has to get out of his accommodation with young Andy Barr next Tuesday, and he has no place. Landlords are asking £50 a week for a single room. Helen McMurray will stay with some friends. He is as likely as not to be reduced to sleeping in the office. It is as well I moved a bedstead in there!
January 18 Friday: I decided the Thomas Davis lecture was no good, so I re-wrote part of it and made a plan of the rest. I bought a lot of papers and think I have more or less “got the hang ” of the deplorable world situation. It is fierce! If Gordon McLennan had any sense he would launch a peace movement. It looks as if they broke up Colin Sweet’s for internal CP reasons and now have nothing to put in its place [ie. the British Peace Committee, of which Colin Sweet had been secretary]. The phone was restored in the evening and Daltún O Ceallaigh came through. He said that Michael Mullen had told him that the question of the book must go to the EC. This is a victory for Clancy and a defeat for Mullen. I am of course working on the assumption that the contract is broken. If it is mended later, all well and good. “It’s very disheartening,” said Daltún O Ceallaigh. I told him not to worry. It is in fact the class struggle.
January 19 Saturday: I had a few words with Noel Gordon in the morning. He is still without accommodation. Of course, if it were Eddie Cowman he would have it! But at the same time he is trying. He told me that Hartigan who is doing the NCCL Irish desk is suspected of being a member of SFWP. They are everywhere, and I suspect them of the ITGWU intrigues. I finished the re-writing of the O’Casey lecture and started on the lecture on Swift. I got the “Morning Star” in town and saw that they have belatedly published our announcement of a lobby against the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which is good. Noel Gordon told me that the CP has written supporting it. So I suppose a decision has been taken. So far so good.
January 20 Sunday: I did a bit more on the Swift lecture and also a little on the “Democrat”. I rang Barney Morgan and arranged to see him about affairs in Liverpool. He spoke of the CP – I forget with regard to what – and remarked, “They’re getting a bit too right wing.”
January 21 Monday: I did a bit on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s copy came, but he is sending me too much English copy. I can get that myself. He asked when I was going over, and I said not for a while. I await news from Dublin but worked out a few alternatives. One is to claim my old age pension and supplement it with a few bob and drop the second and third volumes. But as I told Daltún O Ceallaigh, I do not think they will be in a hurry – nor, if I can turn the tables, will I be. They do not of course know – I did not even tell Daltún O Ceallaigh – that I have turned to other work. There are some gentlemen in SFWP who would, I am sure, like to provoke me into making a break. If anybody knew I had made alternative calculations and it got to SFWP, they would use it to force a break. If they don’t know, they will imagine I am getting more and more anxious.
January 22 Tuesday: I did some work on the paper. At 6 pm. Barney Morgan came and we went for a drink and a talk. He is agreeable to starting the CA branch up again, which is good. We saw Brian Stowell for a moment, but I do not think he will take any initiative. Barney Morgan in turn is not blessed with any. He thinks the CP has gone “too far to the right”. Still the exchange was useful.
January 23 Wednesday: Noel Gordon has still not got a place and having to leave young Andy Barr’s yesterday, is sleeping in the office. Helen MacMurray is “with friends” – whom I learned from Stella Bond is Jane! [ie. veteran CA member Jane Tate, an Englishwoman]. A letter came from Harley Greaves’s widow, which explains the Bournemouth mystery. Dorothy Greaves had a stroke on December 1st. She is paralysed down one side and is presumably not able now to think of anything. She is 74 and has been doing nothing for months, not even opening her letters. I talked about going to see her but was advised to leave it a while. I therefore wrote her a letter. Apparently her memory for recent events has gone. I was sorry about this.
January 24 Thursday: I went to see Barry Williams in the morning at the Boilermakers’ Union in New Ferry. He thought that the Liverpool Trades Council would support the lobby of 27th February and suggested we write and also offer a speaker. A man from Belfast called McKeown was there. In the afternoon I visited Roger O’Hara [ie. the Liverpool CP secretary/organiser] and told him what I was doing and got some useful information. He is quite political, but naturally has the limitations of a district official. He is never called upon to think of general strategy.
January 25 Friday: I got off four pages – very early. But this is because I want to spend time in London organising.
January 26 Saturday: I learned from Noel Gordon that he has the offer of a flat at £45 a week! Pat Bond is not keen on publishing the Irish Sovereignty Movement pamphlet. But Tony Coughlan is giving us £50 towards it and I persuaded him we should. It will cost £200.
January 27 Sunday: I rang Barney Morgan and discussed reorganising the Liverpool branch. He promised to have a word with Brian Stowell.
January 28 Monday: I learned from Barney Morgan that Brian Stowell is not keen. I expected this. I secured his agreement to act as nominal secretary. I am under no illusion. He is not able to organise, but at least he would like to see it done.
January 29 Tuesday: Apparently Noel Gordon is not in the way of getting his flat and is talking of squatting. I wouldn’t blame him, though it is somewhat undignified. I went in to see the Community Relations people in Mount Pleasant to try to book a room for an inaugural meeting. They seemed somewhat at sixes and sevens. I had a letter from Betty Sinclair asking for the copy of “Marxism Today” which had this character Paddy Hillyard’s review of Patterson’s absurd book. I sent it her. I am turning over in my mind starting on a history of socialism in Ireland, which will stop this nonsense in its tracks. Of course the ITGWU uncertainty is no help. But if they come through with a request for a second volume I will say it must take its place in the queue. Then of course there is the problem of managing Lawrence and Wishart, which has Irene Brennan on its board. But O’Casey has done well, so it may not be too easy. But I’d like to turn Connolly Publications into independent book publishers. I wonder if it could be done. Betty Sinclair told me the CPI decided to ask us to call a Standing Committee when they’d be over having talks with the CPGB. I rather put her off it in my reply. I am glad the talks are postponed – Michael O’Riordan is in Moscow for his eyes. This of course I am sorry about, because I fear a great onslaught when he has to go, and if Tom Redmond takes over they are lost. Betty Sinclair tells me that the young people in Belfast regard me (poor me!) as an “ogre” and suggest this is (I take it) Myant’s doing. But it was there long before Myant. Its simple name is Unionism.
January 30 Wednesday (London): I went to London and found Stella Bond there. The branch meeting took place in the evening. A few new people were there. There was no acknowledgment of my letter to “Marxism Today”. It seems a favourite trick these days is that of not replying to letters. I stayed with Charlie Cunningham.
January 31 Thursday: I was in the office but nothing much happened.
February 1st. Friday: I was in the office most of the day and though I was doing something all the time, apart from getting out the circulars for the Liverpool meeting, nothing much seems to have been accomplished. I was out with Noel Gordon.
February 2 Saturday: Again I was in the office. The Central London committee met in the afternoon and they seem to be going quite merrily. Flann Campbell is back on it, although he was not present this afternoon. I was out with Gerry Curran who is I fear somewhat falling into demoralisation.
February 3 Sunday: We had the Executive Committee in the morning. Among those present were Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Michael Crowe, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Helen McMurray and Pat O’Donohue. All was reasonable. The great problem is that the paper loses £100 per month. This eats up the profits of the bookshop. In the evening I gave a lecture on Dean Swift. But the attendance was only about 30, only 7 being non-members.
February 4 Monday (Liverpool): This was a queer day! I set out for Ripley – had no waiting for a tube and despite threats of disruption caught the 10.53 to Derby which was a little late, but not so much as to miss me a ‘bus. Just below Ripley heavy rain turned to snow – the town is 900 feet up. All went well. I caught a bus to Derby almost at once. The station bus was waiting for me. I caught the 5.30 with five minutes to spare. Then at Crewe I thought I would have to wait half an hour after the 7.32, but at soon after seven a Birmingham train, two hours late, delayed by a derailment, pulled in. Again at Lime Street I had little time to wait, and at Woodside was lucky again. I never had such a succession.
When I got back to 120 Mount Road there was a letter from Cathal [ie. his old friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin], and a cutting from the “Irish Press” of November 17th, which said the ITGWU was “considering” two further volumes of their history. There was much fuss about the missing registry file. I looked up what happened. The day Michael Mullen cancelled his appointment was November 12th. That was the day when Daltún O Ceallaigh told him that Clancy said the whole project would have to be reviewed by the EC, and Michael Mullen, slightly drunk, said he “would see Kennedy and Carroll”. The EC would be on Saturday 18th. So the statement was given to the press on Friday, the day before it met. Possibly this is all Mullen could get when he “saw Carroll and Kennedy”.
February 5 Tuesday: I acted on the assumption that Michael Mullen had not got his own way over the History. I imagine that when I was in Dublin he was ashamed to tell me this and that is why he was slightly drunk when he spoke to Daltún O Ceallaigh. He has of course acted in the most shabby manner possible. Anyway, as first step in reorganisation, I wrote to the DHSS [ie. the Department of Health and Social Security] stating my intention of claiming my state pension. I also made contact with RTE. I have to get about £240 owed to me by the “Irish Democrat”, £30 by Camden Council, and I will get £110 for the broadcast. That is £380. Then there should be royalties in March, and late royalties from the Songbook if it comes out(!). If I can reduce the £100 a month the paper loses, I can draw a fee for editing it. But I find it difficult to know what project to turn to next. There are several in my mind.
February 6 Wednesday: I got off the order for seeds and wrote a long letter to Pat Bond about plans for the future.
February 7 Thursday: I spoke to Noel Gordon in the morning. That dirty little intriguer Myant asked Noel to go to a meeting to which he had got seven or nine people, on Sunday. It strangely coincides with the Clann na hEireann “international weekend”. He wisely declined, and suggested Bobby Heatley, or rather Myant did, and Noel Gordon said he was going to do the same. When Noel rang Bobby Heatley he found that Myant had already tackled him and said there would be “four or five” people there. Then Myant said he would like to meet Noel and will call on him. Happily, Eddie Cowman warned him whatever he proposes “will go to my EC”.
I wrote to John McClelland whose address Bobby Heatley had sent me, also to Joan Maynard for a photograph, and Fenner Brockway whose warning against backing Pakistan [ie. in relation to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan] was (for a marvel) broadcast, and also to Jock Stallard asking him to find out the average time of detention of Prevention of Terrorism Act victims. I am thinking of arguing a scheme of compensation for working time lost. I telephoned Barney Morgan, who seems enthusiastic enough. He had sent on the letter to the Trades Council. I started on the work of planning a better paper. Jesus! How much pleasanter is journalism than book-writing – though I’ll not be able to escape that.
February 8 Friday: I did not do much today except purchase a few things and try to re-enrol in the YHA [ie. the Youth Hostel Association] – only to find that now you had to do it by computer. The weather has turned mild, so the winter has its back broken.
February 9 Saturday: Today the balloon went up. I received a letter from Michael Mullen. It ran:-
You will be glad to know that we have now completed examination of Volume 1 as a result of which a certain amount of revision work will be necessary.
We have also set up a small consultative Committee both to advise you on the revisionary work in Volume 1, and to assist you in progressing work in Volume 2. The Secretary of the Consultative Committee is our Publications officer, Des Geraghty, who will also replace Daltún O’Ceallaigh as the liaison officer between us. We believe this is a more appropriate arrangement than the present and should considerably speed matters along.
Des Geraghty will be contacting you in the immediate future to explain the new arrangement in detail. When this has been done I will contact you further regarding the second volume [Desmond Geraghty was a member of Sinn Fein the Workers Party at this time].
(signed) Michael Mullen.
Needless to say, I decided immediately not to accept this and spent a good part of the day drafting a reply, which I propose to sleep upon. Having already decided that I could survive without the ITGWU I was the more easily able to take a decision. I telephoned Daltún O Ceallaigh. He had not been informed that Geraghty was to replace him. I explained my tactics. I regard the thing as political. The object is to suppress my later chapters. The instigators are SFWP. I will release them from all further financial obligations and fight on politics. And when it is on that basis let the best man win. I am not for sale.
Later Pat Bond telephoned. He agreed with my proposals for enlivening the Connolly Association and “Irish Democrat” and changing the subject of the March lectures. But he really rang to say that Barney Watters had died in Manchester at the age of 88 [Barney Watters was a veteran Connolly Association member in Manchester]. I said I would go to Manchester and telephoned Jimmy McGill, who said he would tell Lena Daly [other Manchester CA members]. Noel Gordon told me over the phone that Tom Gill and all the Clann na hEireanns were in the “Mother Redcap“[Tom Gill/Tomás MacGiolla, was President of Sinn Fein the Workers Party and Clann na Eireann was that party’s support group in Britain].They go there because the landlord is one of our members and I suppose they think they will destroy our base in Camden Town. I have watched them for years. They are too lazy to do anything themselves, but as political parasites they have no equal. God help the sheep that suffered such ticks. But the point was that Noel Gordon was selling the paper. None of them bought it. Tom Gill would not even look at them. We had agreed that Steve Huggett would attend their jamboree. This does not seem to have softened them!
February 10 Sunday: I did very little. I was considering whether there was any alternative to pulling out from the ITGWU project and decided there was not. I accordingly wrote a letter – “fortiter in re, suaviter in modo”[strong in content, soft in manner].
February 11 Monday: I went to Manchester, met Jimmy McGill at his bookshop and went with him to the Southern Cemetery. Eileen Watters was delighted to see us, and both Michael and Lena Daly and Pat Garrett turned up. It was a wretched affair. The music was played on a concealed tape recorder. There was no service of any kind, no oration, no Irish flag. We went to Eileen Watters’ house for a drink, and then the five of us went to the nearest public house. I posted the letter of resignation to Michael Mullen and got back to 124 Mount Road at 10 pm.
February 12 Tuesday: A review of O’Casey from “Tribune” arrived. It is very favourable. A contract from RTE also arrived. They have raised their offer to £125, which is no harm. Noel Gordon told me that Philip Rendle was told by Myant that the CPI are coming over next weekend [ie. to meet the CPGB]. Possibly Sunday’s affair was in preparation.
February 13 Wednesday: I have been wondering what project to undertake following the collapse of the ITGWU plan. I had discussed with Lawrence and Wishart bringing “Wolfe Tone” into book form, and with others the Protestant Republican tradition, and again there is the need for the defence of Marx against the fraud Academy of Lagado. It was this that led me to what at the moment seems most attractive, a study of the effect of the conquest of Ireland on the total history of England. The title that occurred to me was “The Curse of Cromwell”.
I spoke to Noel Gordon on the phone. He said that Steve Huggett told him that the Clann na hEireann thing was so woeful that he didn’t want to talk about it, also that Myant told Philip Rendle that Michael O’Riordan, Eoin O Murchú, Joe Bowers and Jimmy Stewart are coming at the weekend [ie. for a meeting with CPGB officials].
February 14 Thursday: The mild moist cloudy weather continues and I managed to get the best part of an hour in the garden, in some parts of which the soil seems in very good condition. Noel Gordon telephoned. He said Myant was in with him, spending most of his time “probing”, and passing off the discussion as a newspaper interview. He tried that on Eddie Cowman but the interview never appeared. There is a full-page feature on Irish books in today’s “Morning Star”, with advertisements of bookshops, but we were told nothing about it and were not invited to advertise. Myant advised Noel to see Jack Woddis and Bill Dunne. When the boycott is lifted maybe we will deal with them. I must say that for the bunch who seem to have got the control of the CP now, I have nothing but contempt. I have still not seen even the courtesy of an acknowledgment of my two friendly letters to “Marxism Today”. According to Noel Gordon Myant was loudly attacking Clann na hEireann. This should give Noel great confidence in the advice of Dunne and Woddis. Not long ago they decided, without consulting us, that there was to be an “Irish broad left” consisting of Clann na hEireann, the Connolly Association and themselves. When we wanted nothing to do with it they were most upset. They went ahead and it was a fiasco. When I complained to Woddis he said, “Oh. It must be their inexperience!” I have not wasted a minute of my time with him since that day, and my brains have not been available for picking. They are fundamentally chauvinist on two fronts, first Partition, second on the Irish in Britain, and until there is an improvement there, little progress can come from that quarter.
Noel Gordon told me that Steve Huggett was at the Clann na hEireann thing. There was little discussion, but a Trade Union man asked if they cherished the long-term aim of a united Ireland. Tomás MacGiolla answered every question but that one. But he took the questioner aside afterwards and was very annoyed when Steve Huggett hung around to hear the involved uncertain answer. Noel told me he thinks Gerry Curran is very demoralised and will not long continue the book page. I agree.
February 15 Friday: I went to the city to collect the key of the room where we are to have Sunday’s meeting. A letter arrived from Noel Gordon which had taken eight days to arrive. It was paid for at first-class rate, but not marked first-class. I advised him to announce a conference on June 1sat and tell Liberation [formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom, to which the Connolly Association had been long affiliated], as one of the things the visitors may discuss on Sunday is a conference and they will turn to Liberation as likely to be more amenable than ourselves. Later Daltún O Ceallaigh rang. They have not told him of the change of responsibility, and he is not pleased. He took the file home last night and removed from it every document that Geraghty might make ill-intentioned use of. The Irish Sovereignty Movement is doing as I advised Tony Coughlan – making a drive for peace and neutrality. Daltún O Ceallaigh is very worried indeed about the world situation. He was interested to know the contents of my letter to Mullen. There has been no reaction. He asked if I thought there would be any effort at compromise. I said I did not expect so, but if it came I would insist on Volume 1 being out of the way before I considered anything else.
February 16 Saturday: Again it was mild and also bright. I doubt if the weather will do much more – a few sharp snaps possibly, but a warm spell like this – with brief exceptions the first since the weather collapsed at the end of August 1976 – is like a cold wet spell in mid-August. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. He told me that Michael Mullen is trying to see Haughey about neutrality [Fianna Fail leader Charles Haughey was Taoiseach at the time]. I did very little in the garden. Noel Gordon also rang.
February 17 Sunday: This was a remarkably fine warm day, like late October. I went to the meeting in the evening and there were 16 in all. I am not therefore unduly worried about getting the thing off the ground. But I need a secretary [ie. for the Liverpool CA branch]. Barney Morgan has little organising ability, though he is enthusiastic. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone.
February 18 Monday: I did a little work on the paper.
February 19 Tuesday: I went into town to do shopping and continued to work on the paper. Noel Gordon told me that Irish publishers are thinking of setting up a London shop. How often we pave the way for others! Pat Bond also rang. I hear from Betty Sinclair, also John Hoffman told me, that the Editor and majority on the board of “Marxism Today” are “Eurocommunists” who believe in “pluralism”, which means excluding anything decent! I replied telling him I had a month ago offered an article and not had a reply.
February 20 Wednesday: I went into town and booked the AUEW room for a meeting. Apart from that I did a little on the paper. It was cooler but still mild.
February 21 Thursday: I did a little more on the paper. Noel Gordon told me Myant had been on to see him and talks of publishing the interview in the “Morning Star”.
February 22 Friday (London): I went to London on the midday train and found Noel Gordon in the office. He still has no accommodation. He told me that Myant had spent much time attacking Clann na hEireann but that Noel did not join the duet. What Myant does is more eloquent than what he says. He urged Noel to make contact with Woddis and Bill Dunne! I was in Hammersmith with Philip Rendle [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”]. I stayed with Charlie Cunningham.
February 23 Saturday: I was out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran. But I get the impression he has gone to pieces. Christy Quinn, who runs an Irish class he attends, has also noticed the change in him. And the “Irish Democrat” book page is but a remnant of its former self. He promised to come to the Standing Committee tomorrow.
February 24 Saturday: We held the Standing Committee – but there was no Gerry Curran. Nor did Pat O’Donohue show up. We decided on a conference in early June. Those present included Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Steve Huggett and Helen McMurray. In the evening I was with Steve Huggett in East London. The Clann na hEireann boys were in the Duke of Wellington (also “Gery” Lawless) [Lawless was a veteran Trotskyite and critic of the Connolly Association, although he became friendly to it in his later years]. They were friendly enough. Apparently at the jamboree last week there was an attack on the Connolly Association and I was depicted as greatly impressed by Sighle De Valera [at this time a Fianna Fail TD] – though Gerry Curran got out the paper which boosted her in the main headline.
February 25 Monday: I continued to work on the paper. Since I am not for the moment working on a book I can give it more attention.
February 26 Tuesday: The long awaited “Morning Star” interview was published this morning. It was positive as it stood. But what stood beside it was a report of the Clann na hEireann international jamboree, written by Gallagher, its secretary. So we are interviewed and our words filtered through the wool of Myant’s consciousness. They speak their own piece. I understand Clann na hEireann were angry that their conference was not reported and had protested. But if Myant included it he would arouse the ire of the CPI. So he needed something to reply with, and we were it! This is the absurd muddle their disgraceful opportunism has got them into. All the same they have been compelled to recognise our existence. And there were further developments.
February 27 Wednesday: In the morning Gordon McLennan telephoned Noel Gordon to say that he would be attending the lobby [McLennan was General Secretary of the CPGB; the lobby of Parliament was by Connolly Association members and supporters on the Prevention of Terrorism Act]. He was, he said, going to a meeting on Chile which was being held in the Grand Committee Room. And sure enough, at the lobby, there he was. His purposes can be guessed from his actions. I think he was surprised to see me. He was extremely cordial and it would not be right to think there was any reservation. “Arising out of the meeting of the parties,” he said to me, “I think – as an old friend and comrade – it is desirable that you should have a talk with me” He added “with me” as if to indicate nobody else would be present. But there was more to it. I went over to talk with Noel Gordon. He told me that at that moment McLennan was walking over to speak to him, but when he saw me approach turned away. “He must be afraid of you,” he said. More likely I was a superfluous witness. And to add to it he did not go to the Chile meeting but went out through the St Patrick’s door. Then Bidwell approached [ie. Syd Bidwell, Labour MP for Southall, West London] and said Gordon McLennan had told him to take me for a cup of tea. and to “make a fuss” of me. And there is no doubt that he was helpful in introducing us to Scottish MPs. We discussed this afterwards. The signs are that they want something. This happened before years ago. I was quite young at the time. I had grown so tired of what Jimmy Shields called “all this rotten chauvinism” that I just got on with my work. Aileen Palmer said I was wise to “let some other people make their mistakes”. After that Pollitt called a meeting of the EC [ie. of the CPGB] and asked me to address it. But of course at that time I had no ulterior purpose. I think they have got themselves nicely “in the shit”, and perhaps McLennan thinks the Connolly Association might help to get them out of it.
I went to Kahn’s flat in Hammersmith to collect the page proofs of the Workers’ Music Association songbook. Arno Gilman had rather brushed aside the notion that I needed to read them. Hadn’t Camilla Betheder, who was next to the monarch of some world-famous publishing company, gone through them with scrupulous care? My suspicions were aroused. I decided to read them with even greater care. And glancing through them I could see that the WMA had claimed the copyright, that my Preface had been cut and called a “Foreward”, which is presumably what they wanted the copyright for, and that that pompous amateur Jordan had not taken much notice of my advice regarding the “Soldiers’ Song” and “Gott erhalten unser Kaiser”. The “Soldiers’ Song” was still in C, while he agreed to Bb. The harmony was wrong. And in the Haydn some of the chords were ridiculous.
February 28 Thursday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool. A letter from Michael Mullen awaited me, written on the 14th and posted on the 20th. It said that I appeared to have misunderstood his letter and could I come to Dublin as soon as possible when he would “explain the position”. He had better change it as well if he wants any cooperation from me. But I decided to go, though I will probably for diplomatic reasons have to pay my own expenses. However, I am hoping O’Casey will have done well. I forgot to say that I went to the BBC on Tuesday and recorded the Thomas Davis lecture, and a good review has appeared in the “Cork Examiner”. It struck me that I might turn the tables on SFWP if I said that after the scurrilous review of my book in their “theoretical” journal “Teoiric” I was so upset that I couldn’t possibly speak to Geraghty.
February 29 Friday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs, this time having an unsatisfactory journey and not getting back till nearly 10 pm. A letter from Bournemouth said Dorothy Greaves was showing no sign of improvement and it was doubtful if she would ever improve.
March 1 Saturday: I did some shopping and the weather being dry and mild, managed an hour in the garden. I rang Daltún O Ceallaigh and told him about Michael Mullen’s letter. There was only one small thing from his side. They had asked Daltún what to do about my expense account, which is still unpaid and which I have not referred to – something like £3200 – and Mullen said Clancy had it in hand, Clancy that it was up to Mullen. Of course Clancy is right. My minimum object is to regularise the position on Volume 1, secure publication and have that out of the way. I view the prospect of a second volume with mixed feelings and the terms must be right.
March 2 Sunday: I could not say there was much to be seen for today. Noel Gordon telephoned and told me that following a circular sent out to London Labour parties by the secretary of the London Co-op Political Committee, the London region voted to support the stand of Michael Mullen on December 12th by 1100 votes to 110 [ie. the anti-Partition stand that Mullen advocated as one of the Irish Sovereignty Movement delegation].
March 3 Monday: I wrote to Michael Mullen saying I would be in Ireland on Patrick’s Day. I also wrote to Joe Deighan, Noel Gordon, Dorothy Greaves, Jane Tate, Roy Johnston, Joan Maynard, Tony Coughlan, Daphne Greaves and Betty Sinclair. I did a little in the garden, but it has turned colder.
March 4 Tuesday: A letter came from Lowery asking me for a message to be read out at the centenary conference on O’Casey in California [ie. Robert Lowery, editor of the “Sean O’Casey Review”]. I sent him one. He is certainly not short of “brass neck”. He had written in “Hibernia” saying I was “up to my old tricks”. So I began the letter by saying how glad I was that he was still at his. I did an hour and a half in the garden, otherwise not much. I transplanted swedes sown last year.
March 5 Wednesday: In the afternoon I felt something like a cold coming on, and that it was going to be worse than usual was shown by a feeling of weakness and a desire to go to bed. I got a bottle of whiskey.
March 6 Thursday: I woke up at 7.30 am. in a shocking state, with arthritic pains across my back and neck. When I sat up in bed I was shaking with it. I decided to stay in bed and see if it improves. It crossed my mind that I had slipped a disk or pulled a muscle while gardening. But I thought this unlikely. I always bend my knees. And anyway there was no sign of this pain on Wednesday. I awoke at 1.30 pm. and found the pain had eased. I got up and slept on and off in a chair and drank the rest of the whiskey before retiring at 10 pm.
March 7 Friday: I decided it was influenza. I had it in 1922 and some strain must be floating about that I am not immune to. I remember the slight sore throat at Ripley, and one or two other premonitory symptoms. But I walked down to the shops for another bottle of whiskey. The arthritic pain has moved. It is now principally a very stiff neck.
March 8 Saturday: There was another slight improvement. I wondered about getting some sodium salicylate. Then I suspected that Phyllis [ie. his deceased sister] might have left some aspirin. She had. I took three tablets and the pain began to clear. I therefore went across the road to the chemist’s for a fresh supply, also for some more whiskey. This must be the first time I have taken a drug for the sake of my health for something over thirty years. So I must arrange a local doctor.
A letter from Michael Mullen arrived. It was sent express from Palmerston Park [ie. the house in Rathmines, Dublin, where the ITGWU Research and Communications Department then functioned. Greaves used refer to it facetiously as “the gluepot”, for it was full of “sticky” substance, a reference to the colloquial name for Sinn Fein the Workers Party, whose members at the time included ITGWU officials Desmond Geraghty, Pat Rabbitte and Eamon Gilmore]. I suspect therefore that Mullen’s doings are being checked by Clancy. Instead of the tete-a-tete I agreed to he invites me to a meeting at Liberty Hall on April 3rd. This I am indisposed to agree to and am considering how to unship this commitment with as little loss as possible, and at the same time keep Lawrence and Wishart in a good mood. I decided to send Skelly the corrections of O’Casey (which has proved a powerful success), to tell them I had little hope now of offering them the ITGWU job, and then finding something that could be done quickly – the book based on the Wolfe Tone pamphlet which I discussed with them already. I went through a half of it. I had recovered sufficiently for that. From Noel Gordon came a message that Gordon McLennan had written to me following his request for a meeting. There are a number of possibilities. First he may want me to change my policy. It seems (according to Philip Rendle) that both Irene Brennan and Myant have said that I am one of their “problems”. They would like to teach their grandmother to suck eggs. On the other hand McLennan may have been cajoled into setting up the “Irish Committee” Michael O’Riordan wants, and he may want my help. Or he may want to discuss the “solidarity movement” which they want set up while ignoring the one that exists. I shall have to do some plain speaking. I retired with more aspirins and whiskey.
March 9 Sunday: I took no aspirins this morning and about 3 pm. I felt that the worst was over and that I was on the mend. I thought of avoiding Michael Mullen’s meeting on grounds of illness and then getting the personal discussion because I want to be fully informed before attending a meeting.
March 10 Monday: I went into Birkenhead to do shopping. I felt in perfectly normal health with just a little residual soreness. I sat up till 1 am. reading.
March 11 Tuesday: I went into Birkenhead again and posted letters. The attack of sickness has completely vanished and I do not even feel tired. I wonder what it was. Influenza, surely. A letter from Tony Coughlan enclosed particulars of an anti-national pro-Partition speech made by Geraghty in which he at first gives the impression that he spoke for the ITGWU. He is going to see that it reaches Michael Mullen. I would think I have every reason to move slowly as the Geraghty man may discredit himself. I wrote to Gordon McLennan suggesting a luncheon meeting. I also arranged to see John Gibson tomorrow.
March 12 Wednesday: A letter came from Martin Jacques of “Marxism Today”. My last letter to him asking space to reply to the pseudo-Marxism of Patterson and Co. had been sent in copy to Gordon McLennan, who must have acted. This straw in the wind indicates that he wants us to do something for him. At 5 pm. a telephone call came from Clancy’s secretary. Michael Mullen would be away on the date he proposed to me. Could I make it later in April? Seemingly it was a meeting with Mullen and Clancy. I said I would let them know. I drew the conclusion that nothing could be got from Michael Mullen, who is obviously following Clancy’s lead, and that I would show displeasure by delaying, and then meet them and insist on the literal carrying out of our agreement.
I met John Gibson who was very helpful. Tom Coughlan’s son is District Secretary in Manchester, so that may be an improvement. Later I spoke to Barney Morgan on the telephone.
I sent Skelly a list of misprints in O’Casey [ie. in his book on Sean O’Casey] and prepared him for the collapse of the ITGWU thing and raised the question of another book. If I can get Volume 1 out substantially unchanged I do not care if I have not to sweat on the other two volumes and can turn to something else.
March 13 Thursday: A letter arrived from Alan Morton. I knew his 70th birthday was around now but was uncertain of the date. At a venture I wrote to congratulate him on Monday. Whether memory had some part in it I do not know – I had no conscious recollection of a figure – but he told me that yesterday was the birthday and my letter arrived on exactly the right day. He hopes to finish his history in June. I read the Workers’ Music Association proofs [ie. of “The Easter Rising in Song and Story”].
March 14 Friday: A letter came from Arno Gillman saying Kahn was “very upset” at not getting the proofs. I was annoyed and told her that I took Jordan the material on May 1st 1977. They could fritter away years, but when their work was done (and none too well) they wanted to rush me. It is surely a rule never do anything for an institution unless they pay very well. I went into Birkenhead to get food in view of Tony Coughlan’s visit. He arrives tomorrow afternoon.
March 15 Saturday: Tony arrived in the afternoon and told me about the shenanigans in Dublin. The most important relates to Daltún O Ceallaigh. He was told that control of the Library was to be taken off him and given to Kennedy’s daughter, merely so as to make a job for her. Daltún was sure that she was incapable of managing it and “had a row” with Michael Mullen. Sometime later he saw an advertisement for the general secretaryship of the University Teachers’ Union. He applied for it, secured it, securing a testimonial from Carroll and submitted his notice. Tony thinks disgust at the handling of the History played a part. It is a pity he urged Francis Devine to stay, as I would otherwise have had him in Liverpool. Tony thinks he is in the CP.
The other information relates to Desmond Geraghty. “Hibernia” reported his support for Partition at a “Sense of Ireland” talk which Micheál O Loingsigh attended. When asked if he was speaking for his Union, he admitted he had not done so. When Tony Coughlan saw “Hibernia” he telephoned Micheál O Loingsigh. “Here’s your chance,” he told him, “Ring Mullen.” He did so. Mullen replied that Geraghty said he had been misrepresented. Micheál O Loingsigh replied on the contrary, that he had been let off lightly. There are signs however that the anti-national element is being opposed in SFWP – by the old guard, Cathal Goulding, Tomas MacGiolla and Mick Ryan. The villains are the “Industrial Department”[whose key members at the time were Eoghan Harris and Eamon Smullen]. The ITGWU has made 15 SFWP appointments in the past two years [This was largely due to the personal influence SFWP leader Cathal Goulding had with General Secretary Michael Mullen, who had been in the IRA as a young man, but later became a Labour TD before concentrating on Trade Union activity in the ITGWU].
March 16 Sunday: We did little in the day but went to the Connolly Association meeting where Tony Coughlan gave a very useful talk. The usual (now becoming usual) people were there, but an important addition was Brian Stowell. The others were Barney Morgan, Mairin Brown (MBr) from Frodsham, the Copes from the bookshop, Colin Maguire (a dour “mixed up kid” who supports the IRSPs [ie. Seamus Costello’s Irish Republican Socialist Party in Ireland],and several others – in all about 16 people. Old Mrs Taunton was there with her son, still (though nearing 60) a little boy. The most interesting person was Janet Walshe, who studies English and politics at Harlech College. She writes verse and wants to go to college in Ireland. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on her behalf and he promises to do what he can [presumably at TCD where he lectured on social policy]. Afterwards we went to the Irish Centre.
March 17 Monday: We decided to have a holiday but there was sleet and hail. We took the bus to New Brighton and walked to Leasowe and Morton Station. It was a difficult walk as storms had torn away sections of the embankment. The general air of decrepitude on what once was a flourishing recreational coast was startling. We went into town then and had a meal and a drink.
March 18 Tuesday: Tony Coughlan went on the 2.5 pm. He had not arrived when Jane Tate telephoned at 5 pm. I sent the proofs of the song book to M.Kahn (Ka).
March 19 Wednesday: I spent most of the day on the paper. I was told by Stella Bond that Gordon McLennan had telephoned. I am wondering if he wishes me to help him establish this “Parliamentary Committee” which they are reported to be setting up. I suspect that the move comes from the SFWP, an attempt to penetrate the Connolly Association’s one remaining monopoly [ie. its influence with various Labour MPs interested in the Irish question]. And of course the MPs will not accept them without my support. Clann na hEireann tried to do this directly but failed. The Clann na hEireann support on the Executive of the Communist Party seems to be four plus four, probably with Myant, Irene Brennan and this Dublin woman at the centre of it [the name of the last mentioned is not given but later entries indicate that it was Marion Banks].
March 20 Thursday: I rang up Daltún O Ceallaigh late at night and he told me he knew about Clancy’s phone call. I suggested that the main thing we had to secure was that the archives go to the National Library. We had no notion how to do it if both he and I are away. I suggested he go and see O’Luanaigh.
March 21 Friday (London): I went to London and found Noel Gordon in the office. I was out with Steve Huggett in the evening. He says he cannot get a job as a teacher and intends to return to the civil service. He has not spent £20 on clothes in the three years.
March 22 Saturday: Noel Gordon and I went to the Stepney Trades Council conference on Ireland. It was not well attended, and badly and informally organised. There were a number of ultra-leftists there, and these seemed to consider their main responsibility sniping at Ian Mikardo, now somewhat aged and a trifle pompous in manner [Ian Mikardo was Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow]. In the evening I was out with Philip Rendle. Last night I found a note left me by Charlie Cunningham.
March 23 Sunday: Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray are still sleeping on lie-lows in the office, but they are borrowing a member’s flat for the next few days. I was out with Gerry Curran who this month has not turned in a book page. He would be best to go back to Toni[ie. his estranged wife]. But apparently Bob Wynn, dismissed by what Gerry calls the “clique” at the “Morning Star”, is there. He is looking for a job. “She’s propping up a lame dog, as she did with me” says Gerry, with a burst of candour.
March 24 Monday: Today there was excitement. The Izvestia reporter [the important USSR newspaper] came to interview Noel Gordon. Madge Davison, learning they had been refused entry into the Six Counties. sent him to us. Then a wisp of smoke appeared behind Noel Gordon’s chair and he said he felt sick with it. He traced its origin to the LEB electric meter over the front door, so I called the Fire Brigade. Then the LEB came; and then the Holy Nuns on their annual collection (We always give them a bob or two). Later Daltún O Ceallaigh rang to say he had seen O Luanaigh’s assistant [ie. in the National Library]. I advised him to get Alf McLaughlin to invite Michael Mullen down and to get the press. He said he would try that. Mullen will be back from USA next week. He has overcome his nervousness of flying and is never in the country. He thinks that if I go over to this “meeting” he will not turn up. I had that feeling myself and told Daltún I was indisposed to go but am in no hurry to tell them so. My problem is to save the contents of Volume 1, and if that means the sacrifice of the work done on Volume 2, so be it.
March 25 Tuesday: When I reached 12 Queensdale Road after a day on the paper I found Charlie Cunningham had just arrived. He had been looking for a job in Waterford and had spent Sunday with Eddie Cowman, whom he now admires very much – they do not come into competition anymore, so there is no basis for the slight jealousy. “Eddie gets all the girls,” said Charlie to somebody.
What was more interesting was a conversation with Tom Redmond. Apparently at one of the joint sessions the Banks woman was present. They were meeting Ken Gill and George Guy [members of the TUC General Council; Gill was General Secretary of TASS, later ASTMS; Guy was General Secretary of the Sheet Metal Workers Union]. It seems that SFWP have a telex in their Dublin office and another in the Belfast. The CPGB cannot afford one. They asked the Banks woman how SFWP could afford it “Oh – this year has been rather a good one for robberies.” The Trade Unionists were shocked and Guy asked somewhat stiltedly, “Is that in the tradition of the Labour Movement?” Collapse. No wonder she and Myant looked so glum in the press photograph. So one pieces events together.
March 26 Wednesday: The paper is completed. I have spent much longer on it than usual and restored the style of years ago – plenty of illustrations and reader variety. It should make an impression. I addressed the Central London meeting. Elsie O’Dowling, Steve Huggett, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray, Philip Rendle and others were there. But the branch meeting is nothing to what it was – too many changes of leadership, Eddie Cowman, then Philip Rendle (hopeless) and now Steve Huggett. I tried to find out from Philip who were the eight CP dissidents who voted against giving political prisoner treatment to the Long Kesh detainees, but I do not think he knows.
March 27 Thursday: I have started work on the circulation. The paper is losing £100 a month. I have got to rectify that before I can get much for myself! And getting this is the condition of taking the strong line I am doing with the ITGWU. In the afternoon Gerry Fitt rang up. The “Democrat” had said he sought publicity. “I know who wrote that,” he says, “that was Jack Bennett.” I preserved a discreet but cordial silence. “Well,” he said, “you’ll be putting all our names in, I hope.” Oh, I will,” said I, “and part of your speech.”
Then Myant rang. We are much wooed just now. He wants to see Noel Gordon next Thursday, to “follow up” his last interview. Noel does not think he is Clann na hEireann. Others say the same. But I know he is a careerist, just how nasty I don’t know. After he had spoken to Noel Gordon he asked for me. But he did not speak. A man called Chambers apologised for the short notice and asked if I would write an article on Seán O’Casey [presumably for the “Morning Star”]. I said I would. I have been boycotted for close on 15 years and do not intend to raise a finger if it does not suit me. But it suited me today, and they promised to collect it tomorrow. Then Chambers assured me that the request came at his suggestion, which conveyed to me (innocents that they are) that it was from Myant. I addressed the South London Connolly Association.
March 28 Friday: On reaching London I found a letter from Gordon McLennan asking me to telephone him. I got him today. Seemingly there is now no hurry. I suppose he wanted to show willing. I don’t think I shall bother, unless I am afraid of their doing something foolish. The article, which I wrote this morning, was duly collected, and I went to Hammersmith with Steve Huggett. I was very pleased to see Lenny Draper with his wee girl – she would hardly be 21. He says he will “show up some time”. He left Manchester because he “had a fright.” Now somebody from Portadown came to visit him, said Belle Lalor, and “he seemed to change.” Perhaps this person came deliberately to frighten him out of the CA. (Note: events of 28 and 29 transposed as regards sales.)
March 29 Saturday: The tubes were not working today because of a strike. I came into King’s Cross with Charlie Cunningham and he went on to Stevenage. The usual people came in and I tried to get to Paddington with Helen McMurray. She took me home. Charlie Cunningham stayed away.
March 30 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Those present included Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Helen McMurray, Steve Huggett and Philip Rendle. Pat O’Donohue has improved out of recognition and it is clear that his trouble is extreme nervousness. He now takes part in the discussions instead of quarrelling, though he blushes when he makes a joke. He is well away from the tensions of Gerry Curran and Toni who (would you believe it?) has invited me to stay with her next time I am in town. I told them that I did not propose to continue with the ITGWU history under present circumstances and wanted back on the “Irish Democrat” payroll. There was no opposition and general pleasure that things are going well in several respects. So now I have removed my dependence on Michael Mullen by withdrawing from Volume 2 and have protected my rear, and we can have the fight. I have been turning over tactics in my mind. Daltún O Ceallaigh says Michael Mullen has a guilty conscience and does not know how to handle the position.
When we had a few minutes together Jane Tate said she had been speaking to Betty Sinclair on the phone. At the joint meeting the Irish had asked for support of the Connolly Association and had said, “It is an absolute scandal that you do not seek the services of Desmond Greaves.” So this explains quite a few things. Jane had also spoken to Michael O’Riordan who (she did not know) realised who the Banks woman was. We had lunch at the Cosmoba.
March 31 Monday: Last night I addressed a meeting on the subject of O’Casey. Many of our members were there, but not many of the general public. The two McLaughlin boys were there, David and Peter – indeed Peter was there on Thursday. A friend of Noel Gordon’s, Roger Kelly (who was with him in Belfast when the “Stickies” threatened to shoot him), who had been reluctant to plunge into the Connolly Association, was there on both occasions. This is a good sign. Today I went to Ripley, had a good passage, and got back to Lime Street in three hours thanks to catching a delayed connection. A letter from Michael O’Riordan was very cordial and asked me to give a lecture in June. Also there was one from Betty Sinclair pointing to the fact that Clann na hEireann was being expanded “thanks to some of our misguided friends”. And Skelly also wrote. He is obviously pleased with the success of Sean O’Casey, suggests a party to launch the paperback in Dublin and asking what I was thinking of doing next. I had told him that I would probably do something pari passu with any further work undertaken for the ITGWU. But I will need a few days off to think out the strategy.
April 1 Tuesday (Liverpool): I wrote to Roy Johnston, Betty Sinclair, Michael O’Riordan and Jeff Skelly. I went into Birkenhead to buy food. I received material about a state pension but will think things over before I apply. I will ask Fisher [ie. The Connolly Publications company accountant]. A copy of the “Irish University Review” came from Tony Coughlan. It contained a review of my book by Heinz Kosack, one of Lowery’s associate editors. It struck me that academic writers try to fit everything into a preconceived pattern. In this issue there is a study of the East Wall district which is obviously inspired by my section on it – but without acknowledgement.
April 2 Wednesday: I got ready some additional notices for the Liverpool meeting and posted them.
April 3 Thursday: I rang Noel Gordon to see what Myant had said. But it seems that though Noel waited in for him he didn’t turn up!
April 4 Friday: A fine day today. I started on the garden and as I have no book on hand I may straighten it up this year.
April 5 Saturday: I spent the whole afternoon in the garden. The beds kept cultivated are in good shape, but those let go are going to involve much labour.
April 6 Sunday: The weather was fine again, and somewhat warmer. I cycled to Raby Mere, Thornton Hough and Brimstage, about 90 minutes in all.
April 7 Monday: It was still dry but distinctly cooler. I did some gardening but had to put on an anorak.
April 8 Tuesday: I spoke with John Gibson in the morning. He says he is coming to the O’Casey lecture next Sunday and anticipates a good attendance. He invited me to speak at a British-Soviet Friendship Society evening in Aigburth on Saturday week. I said I would go. Apart from anything else I will meet some people. He expects to get 100 people into his house, how I do not know.
April 9 Wednesday: A letter arrived from Clancy’s secretary, Mrs Giblin. It rather resembled a call to a recalcitrant member to go and be broached, except for offering a range of dates. Obviously the secretary has to do the less pleasant work. I replied that I would not be able to manage it just now. But I added that I would be sending proposals to Michael Mullen. For having reached this point I decided to present a policy and let discussions proceed on that basis. Whether I can gain sufficient initiative to have the volume printed more or less as it stands, we shall see. Charlie Cunningham rang up. He did not get the job in Wexford.
April 10 Thursday: I had been in touch with Pat O’Donohue, and difficulties had presented themselves in the way of the grand re-organisation of my affairs which I am in the process of undertaking. I had intended to claim my pension. With £2,000 a year from the “Irish Democrat” and sundry royalties I could earn the maximum permitted amount for retaining the pension. But Pat O’Donohue was afraid that the expenses in going to London might be treated as income. But this morning a letter came from my accountant saying that he has recovered some £400 in overpaid tax, which seems to indicate that up to now this has not happened. Whether it will when I receive remuneration as a result of going to London is another matter. This gives me time and strengthens my hand. I hope to enlist Gordon McLennan in expanding the Connolly Association and the “Irish Democrat”.
About midday the Giblin woman telephoned. She was obviously ill at ease. I think I put her completely at ease. I said I was not well enough after the influenza to go over. I was behind with my work. “And I’ve just started a new job,” I added. There was a momentary silence. So obviously that went home. She said she had “just rang up” as “Mr Clancy was away.” I said I would be prepared to come in June. By that time I hope to have strengthened my position still further.
I was speaking to Noel Gordon. The Workers’ Music Association telephoned. The songbook will be published on May 28th and they want to start it off with a party. I told Noel that that date would be suitable for me. I wrote to Tom Redmond saying I would contribute to the “Irish Socialist” as requested, and also give the lecture on O’Casey. My intention is to make to make relations with Michael Mullen political. That is the only way to defeat the SFWP. They will want to discredit me as author, and in trying to do this they will have Mullen in a field he doesn’t understand. Politics is different. I asked Pat Bond to put him on the free list. But one strange thing has happened. They have given Cathal an appointment in the Union [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin]. He is anxious to get back from Wexford. By what Daltún O Ceallaigh tells me Geraghty is in more trouble with “Hibernia” and perhaps they have passed their zenith. But Clancy’s department in Palmerstown Road is the centre of every subversive element. He is trying to use them to become general officer [ie. one of the three principal positions in the ITGWU: General Secretary, General President and Vice-President].
April 11 Friday: There was a telephone call from Daltún O Ceallaigh. He had seen Alf MacLaughlin as I recommended and they put in hand measures to put the Library in direct touch with Michael Mullen. Alf McLaughlin will invite Mullen to come and see the O’Brien collection [ie. former ITGWU general secretary William O’Brien’s records of James Connolly and others]. I told Daltún O Ceallaigh of the lines on which I propose to write to Mullen and then drafted the letter. I said I had resumed my position as managing editor of the “Irish Democrat” on April 1st but could get to Dublin in June. I requested to be informed of the recommendations of the outside consultant and asked for replies to enquiries regarding publication, concluding with the expression of the utmost regard.
At about 5.30 Barney Morgan appeared. Last time he was here he was so listless and pessimistic that I had to control my feelings of impatience. Today he was transformed. He spoke of taking on the secretaryship of the new branch, and of favourable comment among people in his entourage. When I spoke of the possibility of using the Liverpool MPs as a battering ram against the PTA [ie. the Prevention of Terrorism Act] he declared, “And we’ll do it, too!” I wonder what has happened. He assured me that his relations with MacThomais and such like are merely those of Auld Lang Syne. But it may be that Auld Lang Syne has signified approval [Barney Morgan was a friend of Eamon MacThomais in Dublin, who was a prominent member of “Provisional” Sinn Fein].
April 12 Saturday: The weather was distinctly warmer today and I was able to do a bit in the garden. But it has not rained appreciably for ten days.
April 13 Sunday: I did a little in the garden in the morning. The weather was warmer still – I would say in the middle sixties. I spoke at the Connolly Association meeting, but it was poorly attended – about 12, and these included John Gibson, his wife, and two of his friends. Brian Stowell was not there, nor the girl from Harlech or the girl from Frodsham. Barney Morgan was in the chair.
April 14 Monday: I got little done today, except a page of the paper. Barney Morgan came in at 6 pm. and we agreed on one more Sunday meeting, bringing Noel Gordon from London.
April 15 Tuesday: I did a little work in the garden and a little on the paper. I am feeling a trifle listless and have been wondering whether it is physical or mental. For the first there is a touch of arthritis, but nothing much. For the second there is a gap in anticipation left by the ITGWU History debacle. Or it may be uneasiness over the war crisis. The weather was warm and dry.
April 16 Wednesday: I feel much more energetic today, spent the morning on the paper and the afternoon and evening in the garden. One more such day and I’ve broken its back. But then there is the wilderness in the front. But it is still early. The early spring has been a great boon. I heard from Peter Mulligan and Betty Sinclair and spoke to Noel Gordon on the telephone.
April 17 Thursday: I spent most of the day in the garden.
April 18 Friday: Another day in the garden. I could say the back is broken, apart from the front garden.
April 19 Saturday: I went to John Gibson’s BSFS party [ie. British-Soviet Friendship Society] and said a few words linking the Irish and Soviet aspects of British foreign policy. Barney Morgan was there, and Barry Williams came late. The day after I had seen him in his office I had drafted a letter to the Trades Council and sent it to Barney Morgan to sign and post. There was no reply and I suspected that Barney, who is not the soul of efficiency, had omitted to post it. I asked Barry Williams if he had received it. I thought him a trifle sheepish. And I also think he was wondering to himself what heresies I had been speaking and didn’t really like it when I expressed the view that Althusser [Louis Althusser, 1918-1990, French Marxist philosopher] was a pretentious charlatan. Those fellows have given up the attempt to comprehend theory themselves and thus stagger about like drunken men. I’ll swear there were 80 people there.
April 20 Sunday: The weather was brilliant but very cold – too cold to work in the garden, so I did some work on the paper.
April 21 Monday: In the morning RTE telephoned. They say that the recording is not good enough to broadcast and that they have got a reader. I have a suspicion that there might be a political as well as a technical motive. I rang Tony Coughlan and he said he intended to listen. I said I would send him a copy of the script to see if it is departed from. Then, lest troubles come singly, Noel Gordon told me that Michael Crowe was speaking to him. The CP are going ahead with their “National Committee” on the Irish question. They asked him to represent the Northeast. After some demur he agreed and is coming to London on Sunday. Noel Gordon tells me that the “Morning Star” is giving no publicity to our conference, but applications are coming in. “I think we’ve served their purpose,” said he. Of course I warned Michael O’Riordan of what this would mean, but he moves in such narrow circles that he doesn’t think of possibilities. Another thing Noel Gordon told me is that Philip Rendle has been dropped as mysteriously as he was taken up.
Later I spoke to Jane Tate who told me that Gloria Devine, now Finlay, is cataloguing the books that Klugman left to Marx House. Their annual meeting is on Saturday and efforts are being made to get rid of the old stalwarts and bring in the “Euros”. Rothstein [ie. Andrew Rothstein] is said to be very worried. They have not yet made an effort to seize the Connolly Association. Perhaps they think it best to fight it from outside.
April 22 Tuesday: The weather is for the last few days so cold that my operations in the garden have had to be suspended. I worked on the paper.
April 23 Wednesday (London): I caught the midday train to London and found Noel Gordon in the office. I addressed the Central London meeting. Elsie O’Dowling, Jane Tate, Steve Huggett and others were there.
April 24 Thursday: I posted off the remainder of the paper. The weekend underground strike is destroying our sales.
[There is no entry for Friday 25 April]
April 26 Saturday: Gloria Finlay (late Devine, GDv) had told Jane Tate that there was internecine war in the Marx Memorial Library and asked her and myself, as members, to attend the AGM this afternoon. We did. If ever there was chaos this was it. The chairman was sixty-six-year-old Jack Dywien, who was also treasurer and had been acting secretary. I had met him before. He seemed honest, hard-working and sincere in his own way. But he had not a trace of a sense of humour and was therefore well-meaning in the very worst sense of the word. Beside him sat Charlie Hall, whom I know better. According to Gloria Finlay the chairman had appointed him Librarian without consulting the committee.
This is the way things went. A “hardliner” sitting just behind me – a decent old fellow – objected to the placing on the shelves of a book by an emigré from East Germany. Others argued that a library must carry the case against as well as the case for, which, within reasonable limits, is true. Why should a man have to read a subject in more libraries than is necessary? But the old man, who had been General Secretary of a trade union, expostulated that this book was so bad that it should not go on to the shelves.
“What would you do with it?” asked somebody.
“Burn it!” replied the old man.
“Hitler!” shouted a Trotsky who kept trying to rake the matter up even after the old man had withdrawn.
Dywien gave the report though he allowed others subsidiary reports. He announced the election. We all had ballot papers. Then Martin Jacques, the man who ignored my letters till I wrote to Gordon McLennan, got up to recommend a man who worked at 16 King Street [ie. the CPGB Head Office in London] with him, and would preserve the continuity which arose from Jacques’s retirement. There were complaints that the chairman did not rule his five-minute speech out of order. He was a man somewhat bald for his thirty years and as with most of them my impression was of unrelieved second-ratedness. Of course somebody else wanted to praise somebody else and was allowed to do it. Then Michael Hicks said there was one man on the list who was unfit to sit on the committee, a man called Whotten whom Gloria Finlay praised. He had sold books out of the library at an open-air stall in Leather Lane or some such place. Gloria Finlay was on her feet at once as somebody cried “Shame!” It transpired that he had indeed done this, but that the books had been declared surplus and would have been sold anyway, that the money was paid over to the Treasurer, and that not only was Whotten let off with a reprimand, but was General Secretary at the time, which turned out was four years ago, and remained secretary till last September when he resigned. At this point Dywien the chairman so far forgot his position as to harangue the gathering upon the evils of Whotten from the chair. Andrew Rothstein, President, took the other view and accused Hicks of slander which would be actionable. Dywien then gave the treasurer’s report – he was judge, jury and cunning old fairy – and it was clear that there had been some, but no serious, set-backs. When the ballot was published Hicks was at the bottom of the poll, Whotten at the top, and Dywien also lost his place on the committee.
“Comrades,” he said solemnly, “I thank you for your confidence in me.” He then explained that under rule he could no longer be treasurer and offered to hand over the books at the end of the month. Then there was uproar. All his cronies blamed the members for the vote. Actually I had voted for Dywien though Jane did not. To make matters worse he accused certain people he knew of a campaign of vilification against him. Mary Abroli, the mad woman who was I think with Fred O’Shea [an old political antagonist of Greaves’s in the CA and the CPGB] or somebody like that – a well enough meaning bag of pent-up emotion – said words failed her and began to blubber. Rothstein said it was no worse for Dywien to lose his position than for a girl who had been Librarian for five years and resigned in January.
When the meeting broke up I remarked to one of them that Hicks and the chairman had ruined themselves, especially the chairman. “He’s entitled to say what he likes,” says Mary Abroli. “Not from the chair,” said somebody. “Yes he is.” “You’re quite right, Mary,” I said, “as usual,” and got away as quickly as I could.
We met Michael Crowe at the restaurant. He came down for Myant’s meeting. He is trying to set up a National CP Irish Advisory Committee. Philip Rendle was there too. He had been invited after all and I suspect he is their man. He told us their budget is £30 a year! Indeed Rendle had duplicated the material for them. Now neither I, nor Noel Gordon, nor Pat Bond were invited. And Gordon McLennan has not replied to the letter I
sent him saying I would be in London this weekend. His interest has rapidly evaporated. I insisted that Philip Rendle should attend the Standing Committee, which was an earlier engagement.
April 27 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning and all went reasonably well. In the late afternoon, Eamon McLaughlin having pulled out at the last minute, I gave a talk on De Valera. Afterwards we met Michael Crowe in a bar. Those present had included the Clann na hEireann Banks woman, who was very subdued but bemoaned the absence of poor Irene Brennan – this makes it appear that she is one of Irene Brennan’s proteges. They seem to be everywhere. There was incredible confusion. A woman called Prendergast (a Clann na hEireann) was there. One man said that the “Protestant religion was more progressive that the Catholic.” Myant said the situation was best in those districts where Clann na hEireann was active, and that the Connolly Association was a “shadow of its former self”. They are to be represented at our conference. But Noel Gordon says they are boycotting it as far as the “Morning Star” is concerned. But several times at the meeting the lament went up: “We have no policy.” The blithering idiots – trapped in their own opportunism.
April 28 Monday: I went into the office but caught the midday train to Bournemouth where I met Dorothy Greaves and DZB in the nursing home. Dorothy was quite bright. She can now talk perfectly well, and was laughing and smiling, but according to DZB it is often through tears. She can get up but only walk a few steps. She will be 80 in a week’s time but has aged prodigiously. She looks really old. I was glad that I went, however, as there is no doubt the recovery of health requires that one feels wanted in the world.
April 29 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and all went reasonably well. Melville is looking very old and is somewhat lame. I doubt if he is long for this world. I suppose he would be 70. It is to be hoped Terry [ie. Terry Reynolds of Ripley Printers] keeps on the business. I then came on to Liverpool.
April 30 Wednesday: Noel Gordon told me that he is worried about the conference. The “Morning Star” boycott does not help and he senses some coolness among the committee surrounding the Young Liberals, who have seemingly circularised much the same people as we have, though why they should think we should hand over our traditional supporters to them I do not know – divine right, perhaps. I suggested telephoning round. Of course the Liberals have money. That mad woman Pat Arrowsmith gave them £1,500 but Noel Gordon said they have spent most of it. Barney Morgan telephoned. Among other things he said that there is an advertisement for the job of Liverpool secretary to the CP, so he concludes that Roger O’Hara has resigned. See what a bad policy and theoretical confusion can do.
May 1 Thursday: I went to the demonstration at the Pier Head. Veronica Gibson was there but not himself [ie. her husband, John Gibson]. The only Irish group who walked were the IRSP. I asked where was Clann na hEireann. “They’d be ashamed to walk,” said the boy who attends the CA. Barry Williams and Roger O’Hara spoke, I thought not very eloquently. Indeed there was almost as many paper sellers as buyers and nobody paid much attention to the speakers. They are trying to bring about a general strike on the 14th and I fear the underground will stop – at least so an NUR man said [National Union of Railwaymen, later part of the RMT Trade Union]. I spoke to Barney Morgan and Noel Gordon.
May 2 Friday: Last night I started to mow the lawn. I switched on. There was a flash and a crack. A gust of wind had blown the mower over and caused a short circuit. I decided not to wait till Noel Gordon arrived but to buy a new one, which I did this morning, a more solid affair, metal not plastic, which cost me £30. I started assembling it.
May 3 Saturday: I completed assembling the mower and did some work in the garden. I also read Gerry Cohen’s report in “Comment” [a CPGB publication]. One or two things struck me. There is a suggestion of a federal halfway house between Partition and unification. There is the suggestion that a “new organisation” should be established. This is no doubt why Myant boycotts the Connolly Association, calls it a shadow and praises Clann na hEireann.They may try to induce an amalgamation. I haven’t come back full-time on the “Irish Democrat” a day too soon. I am working on a strategy to put it on its feet but need a few days’ holiday first.
May 4 Sunday: I was in the garden most of the day. In the afternoon it was warm, but there was still a nip in the easterly breeze.
May 5 Monday: I spent many hours in the garden, still on the west side. I have not touched the front, but it is beginning to look ship-shape. I also started analysing the circulation problem and can see what I have taken on. All the same, it is just possible, with a superlative effort. I decided not to go away yet but to try to finish the garden and tidy up the house.
May 6 Tuesday: I had to go into Birkenhead to buy food but spent the afternoon and early evening in the garden. The prolonged dry spell has helped, and maybe tomorrow I will finish the back, with a larger area of land cultivated than ever before. Noel Gordon telephoned. The “Communist University of London” has an Irish session and wanted to advertise in the “Irish Democrat”. I had told Noel it would be better for us to include a news item. And I was glad of it, for Noel told me now that the speakers are Michael Morrissey, Paul Bew, Bowers and Myant, and nobody from the Republic[The three Irish representatives were from Belfast].How brazen can they get? It occurred to me that Michael O’Riordan, whose foolish pressure on the CPGB [ie. to establish an Irish Committee to coordinate solidarity work] is likely to confront me with fresh problems that he seems not even to have thought of, is activated by considerations affecting the wider communist movement rather than Ireland. For if it had been the latter he could scarcely have done what he did.
May 7 Wednesday: I received from Noel Gordon a copy of “Unity”, the Northern Ireland CP duplicated sheet. In it my O’Casey is reviewed by Jack Mitchell [who taught English Literature in Humboldt University, East Berlin, and who had also written on Sean O’Casey]. And a stupid review it is. I think he is one of those revolutionary robots who turn out a few regular phrases and never think. It is hard to decide whether there is malice or not. How the Belfast people tracked him down after a year is hard to know. He has a set opinion and makes extracts to justify it, and damned dishonestly too. I was a trifle annoyed and for a moment thought of replying. But it is my set intention at the moment to waste no breath that can be used. In the evening Barney Morgan came in.
May 8 Thursday: I heard from Noel Gordon that the “Morning Star” is maintaining the boycott of our conference. He may advertise, since they refuse to print a news item.
May 9 Friday: I spent practically the whole day in the back garden and it is now almost completely in order. I reorganised the pathways, making curves and large new beds in which vegetables will be grown, but I can put a small number of flowers at certain points, so that the effect will be pleasant to the eye. I was speaking to Noel Gordon and Gerry Curran rang up. Instead of giving “Talleyrand” to Hostettler to read, so that we can review it next month, he has been reading it himself because it was “important”. Bless us! It is important to get it reviewed.
May 10 Saturday: In the morning Gerry Curran telephoned to say Hostettler had agreed to do the review. So that was something. I did more work in the garden. But the drought goes on. I cannot remember when it was dry so long – perhaps the total effect was greater in 1976, but the dry weather seems endless and it is murder raising seeds.
May 11 Sunday: In the afternoon Tom Redmond rang. He asked me to lecture on O’Casey in Dublin and we agreed on June 17th. I told him about Mitchell’s attack in “Unity”. “Is that the fellow in Germany?” “It is.” “What did they send it to him for?” He did not know that Bew and Morrissey were coming to London. “We take this up with them every time, but they say the thing is not under the control of the EC [ie. of the CPGB]. Of course that’s nonsense.” Then Helen McMurray rang and said she was in Southport. Would I meet her in Liverpool, which I did. She told me that Michael Morrissey had been addressing South London CP branches and had left them more confused when they left than when they came in. He talked like a two-nations man. She told me that she had a bookstall at Haringey Trades Council. There were CP “hardliners” there who gave a loud cheer when the death of Tito was announced, and a Clann na hEireann man who flung down some money, grabbed copies of “An Phoblacht”[ie. the Provisional Sinn Fein monthly paper] and demonstratively tore them up. What a state they are all in. I think Gordon McLennan is like Tom Redmond. He wants to be on good terms with everybody.
May 12 Monday: I did some work on the paper and sowed marrows, ridge cucumbers and tomatoes. The temperature was in the seventies and I concluded that there will be no frost. Perhaps we will have a hot summer with easterly winds. But rain is badly needed. Noel Gordon telephoned and said he has been offered a flat. He is very pleased. Apart from anything else it is also likely to solve my problem of where to stay in London. He is coming to Liverpool tomorrow.
May 13 Tuesday: I met Noel Gordon at Lime Street and Helen McMurray came in from Southport where she is attending her Trade Union conference.
May 14 Wednesday: At about 10.30 am. Barney Morgan arrived and, there being no proper service on the underground, drove us to Islington Square where the TUC “day of action” procession formed up. I met Gerry Dawson after 44 years. I would not have recognised him, though having retired from teaching he looked bronzed and fit. We walked to the Pier Head where (having given out a leaflet at the Square) we sold 39 papers.
May 15 Thursday: Noel Gordon and I took a day off and went to West Kirby, walking round the coast to Hoylake. We saw Helen McMurray in the evening. Yesterday I asked John Gibson about Roger O’Hara’s retirement. “The euphemism for giving up the job is that he’s ‘going back to industry’,” he replied a trifle ungraciously.
May 16 Friday: Again there was little done. The weather continues warm and dry. Indeed it is one of the longest dry spells I remember, with a high haze I attribute to fires in the Pennines fanned by the constant east wind. We saw Helen McMurray in the evening. Noel Gordon worked on his talk. I went for a cycle ride.
May 17 Saturday: Again little was done. The garden is too dry for anything but watering. The high clouds of smoke were very obvious.
May 18 Sunday: Barney Morgan arrived with Helen McMurray in the evening. Noel Gordon remained to work on his speech. But we went into Wales, climbed to the top of Moel Famau and then went on to Llangollen. Barney had intended to cross Esclusham Mountain but at Plas yn Eglswyseg found a road sign saying, “Road Closed”. We guessed this was on account of moorland fire, for we had seen a great cloud of smoke without thinking precisely where it was. We returned to Llangollen and came back through Ruabon and Caergwrle [ie. Holyhead].Incidentally, Barney Morgan’s Welsh is atrocious! He cannot pronounce the simplest words. But he knows the country better than I do from having spent years hiking and camping in it. Helen McMurray was very delighted.
The meeting was disappointing. Only about 7 turned up – the brilliant weather imposed this on us – and Noel Gordon was nervous. But we got one new member, a member of the Trades Council and also of the New Communist Party. He is not Irish and I wonder whether his main preoccupation will be distributing his party’s literature. I think however I will know how to handle him. Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray took the late train to London.
May 19 Monday: A cheque for £125 came from RTE. I went into Birkenhead to deposit it and did some shopping. Incredible! – it rained. But by evening it was dry and the wind which had been Northwest was back in the Northeast again.
May 20 Tuesday: A letter from Pat O’Donohue told me of the financial problems of Connolly Publications. I replied. Gerry Curran rang. Eamon McLaughlin has pulled out of his engagement to lecture on Connolly. I persuaded Noel Gordon to ask Gerry Curran, but he wants notes from me. I also did some work in the garden and on the paper.
May 21 Wednesday: The weather is as dry as ever, though there are no smoke clouds. I did a little on the garden and on the paper.
May 22 Thursday: Another day on the paper and in the garden. But first it is dry, second it is chilly. I have raised a specimen of Tropaeolum Speciosum (as they call in in Northern Ireland) or Tuberosum as they (more correctly) call it here. But I am afraid to plant it out. The same is true of marrows and cucumbers in pots indoors. A letter from Skelly came with three copies of the O’Casey paperback, looking extremely handsome.
May 23 Friday: It remains dry and cool with a Northeast wind that can become quite fresh. I have transplanted some turnips, but it is dry for them. I did a little on the paper. Ripley has increased his charges by 20%. We shall have to put the price up. I have been fearing this for some time.
May 24 Saturday: A letter came from RTE saying they proposed to publish my Thomas Davis lecture and that the Mercier Press would be writing. This will mean a few bob to the distressed fund!
May 25 Sunday: The weather is bone dry but very cool. So much time is wasted watering the garden that other things can’t be done in it. I have raised marrows and cucumbers and tomatoes indoors – but am afraid to plant them out. And some Physalis Edulis has germinated but does not seem to find it warm enough for growth.
May 26 Monday: There was a little rain overnight, but two inches down the soil was dry powder. There was a curious phenomenon in the morning. In the east the clouds drifted northwards, in the west southwards. But in the north one cloud came from the east, another from the west. That from the east had detached itself from clouds that were coming downward and evaporating. The two from east and west seemed set on a collision course, but that from the east passed the other at a lower level and then evaporated. Possibly I was witnessing a warm occlusion.
Despite the drought I planted leeks and leek bulbs, and sowed Physalis. I have now got most things in the ground, tomatoes, marrows, turnips, calabrese, cauliflowers, swedes, pomphrey, colcannon, cabbage, cucumbers, broad beans, runner beans, and some flowers, also spinach, and Welsh onion. But Oh for rain.
May 27 Tuesday: Apart from a little preparatory work on the paper there was not much done.
May 28 Wednesday (London): I went to London and attended the “launch” of my book of Songs. Alan Bush [ie.the English composer] was there with his wife and brought Paul O’Higgins’s apologies[Paul O’Higgins, an old Dublin contact of Greaves’s from the late 1940s, taught law at Cambridge]. He had hoped to come from Cambridge. Vivienne Morton was there and told me that Maurice Cornforth is very ill and does not expect to finish his magnum opus on philosophy. Tadhg Egan and Chris Sullivan were there also – indeed quite a gathering.
May 29 Thursday: I worked on the paper.
May 30 Friday: I finished the paper and got all the copy off to Ripley. In the evening I went out to High Wycombe to address an “alternative” discussion group, whom I found to be very responsive. It is a lecturer in philosophy who is behind it.
May 31 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. Chris Sullivan came in the evening, but we did not sell. The heavens opened.
June 1 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning. Pat O’Donohue was there, after recovering from an operation for piles. He is completely transformed and shows considerable tact. It is hard to believe that he is the same person.
June 2 Monday: I was in the office most of the day, but felt a cold coming on, possibly caught from Helen McMurray.
June 3 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and read the proofs.
June 4 Wednesday: I have a filthy sore throat and was sneezing. This is an extraordinary time of year to catch cold.
June 5 Thursday: I did little and felt unwell.
June 6 Friday: I sat and drank whiskey.
June 7 Saturday (London): Despite the continuance of the sickness, I went to London and was out with Gerry Curran in Hammersmith. He tells me he has attached himself to a middle-aged schoolmistress. “Toni thought I would never get anybody,” he declared. So he does not proceed without glances backwards. We saw Lenny Draper in Fulham, his hair and beard all a different way again. So he does not know who he is. But he is very cordial.
But the surprise of the day came soon after my arrival. Who should come back into the office but Brian Crowley, Noel Gordon and Eddie Cowman. Indeed he got Brian Crowley to drive me to Shepherd’s Bush. Eddie told me that he is thinking of returning to London next month, though it is possible that he may go to Galway. I think it is rather too good to be counted upon. The best possible very seldom happens. However, I told Noel Gordon. And then again will he be the same? My guess is he would be. I stayed with Noel Gordon.
June 8 Sunday: The conference we had today was in many ways the best yet. There were eight Constituency Labour Parties present. Gordon McLennan made a woeful speech which shows that he does not understand it. His policy was the old pure economic line of “take up social, economic and democratic issues to unite the estranged communities” – as if the estrangement of the communities was not an effect but a cause. What is interesting is that the Labour Party people and others are beginning to chafe at the gag imposed by Trade Unions who want to keep their Irish membership at all costs. Daltún O Ceallaigh gave one of the best introductory talks I ever heard and replied effectively to McLennan who (wanting to ride two horses) assured him privately that the two standpoints were not mutually exclusive. Michael Kelly from Liverpool was there.
June 9 Monday: I had a talk with Pat O’Donohue who said the finances of the Connolly Publications [ie. the company that published the “Irish Democrat”] are the worst ever. It is possibly no harm that I have stopped concentrating on writing. I will be able to get little from them for a while. But I think they can be got right. Later I addressed the Holborn CP. Chris Sullivan came, but very few others were there, and none of the “imperialist economists”. I arranged the transfer of my membership to Liverpool [ie. of his CPGB membership; he had previously been in the Holborn CP Branch]. This of course may create problems. The Manchester people may want me to do work for them. They will want, unless it suits me. After the scandalous way the CP has behaved nationally, they can expect little from me locally.
On this question I understand that Myant has tackled Philip Rendle and deplored his working for a non-party organisation [ie. the Connolly Association]. I guess this was when Michael Crowe attended Myant’s Advisory Committee and I persuaded Rendle – indeed insisted – should be at the Connolly Association meeting. Not one word of publicity for our conference appeared in the “Morning Star”. But I think I understand the situation, looking back. When Myant (following the CPI visit) published an interview with Noel Gordon, to our surprise we found an article about Clann na hEireann printed beside it. What it means is that the Clann na hEireann members can exact that the Connolly Association must not be mentioned unless Clann na hEireann is mentioned as well. The Clann na hEireann and SFWP ignoring of the Border is peculiarly acceptable. But the Northern CP [ie. in Belfast] is every bit as bad. George O’Driscoll came in to tell me the fate of the resolution from Battersea UCATT at the conference in Bournemouth [ie. the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians]. The two Irish organisers demanded that it should be withdrawn. Why? If it were passed the Northern organiser might find it hard to work in Orange areas. On the other hand if UCATT went on record against a United Ireland, what would happen to its members in the Twenty-Six Counties? And it was withdrawn, though the Irish organiser promised to visit England and explain their position. One can only describe it as shameless opportunism.
June 10 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning. Noel Gordon has a cold like mine. We both caught it off Helen McMurray and she says she caught it off Pat Bond. I came to Liverpool.
June 11 Wednesday: In the evening Alan Morton rang up very late, elated that he has finished his History of Botany. He is taking it to London on June 20th. Also John Morton has a wee daughter they have called Rosemary. It is shocking how today children are not called after their parents or grandparents. The girl’s name should have been Freda [ie.the name of Mrs Morton] – though perhaps it is that as well.
June 12 Thursday: I did some gardening. Barney Morgan came at 5.30 pm. And Tony Coughlan arrived at about 7 pm. He said Cathal [ie. his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam] was enjoying his work as a Trade Union organiser. Finula has an office job and Egon is at the School of Art [ie. two of the five MacLiam children].
June 13 Friday (London): Tony Coughlan and I went to London on the 1 pm. train. Then we went out in Paddington [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”] after seeing Chris Sullivan and Donal Kennedy at Camden Town. Everybody asks where is Charlie Cunningham.
June 14 Saturday: I opened the Committee for Withdrawal Conference at the Conway Hall. Despite Noel Gordon’s scepticism (or rather wrongly placed confidence) I retained the impression that it was a “Provisional” initiative. An “Armagh Prisoner” was brought to the platform in such a way as to divert attention from the subject matter dealt with by Tony Coughlan and myself. She was a sophisticated little minx who could put on the “poor innocent little girl” to perfection and has been doing it all over America. Philip Flynn wound the thing up [Phil Flynn, born 1940, was an Irish Trade Union leader who was Vice-President of Provisional Sinn Fein at this time and later became a prominent businessman]. All the “Provisional” campaigns were highlighted. Of our people there were present Noel Gordon, Chris Sullivan, Flann Campbell, Jane Tate, Roger Kelly, Barry Riordan and his colleague from Oxford, and Jack Guilfoyle. Jack Bennett was there, but he seems to be politically deteriorating [Belfast journalist of Protestant background and an old friend of Greaves’s]. He is more emotional than rational. On the other hand Flynn has his wits about him. Jack Bennett must be in his early fifties now. In the evening I met Gerry Curran in Hammersmith. Tony Coughlan is staying with Jane Tate.
June 15 Sunday (Liverpool): I saw Pat Bond for a few minutes in the office. He agreed with me that the “Provisionals” were probably “doing an IRB“[ie. seeking to place their members in different organisations so as to influence their policy]. I was very glad that we held our own conference. At the same time it is wisest to be present. We can exercise someinfluence. Then I came to Liverpool.
June 16 Monday (Dublin): To my surprise Tony Coughlan was on the train at Chester. He had failed to see Crotty [ie. his friend the Irish economist Raymond Crotty] and had returned a day early. Cathal met us and took us to 24 Belgrave Road, where we consumed some of the duty-free brandy. I was told that Gabriel Fallon was dead [Fallon was an authority on Sean O’Casey]. I had missed it.
June 17 Tuesday: In the evening the CPI rooms were packed when I gave a lecture on O’Casey. But Central Books had failed to send the paperbacks Sean Nolan had ordered. He said this man Bob Wynn [the name Wynn is crossed out and a question mark added in the original manuscript Journal here] was impossible. I know he asked Noel Gordon for 52% discount on pamphlets and he rightly refused it. And Helen McMurray nearly left Central Books because of his purely commercial approach. He is incompetent as well. The chief of drama of RTE was there, Jim Sheridan – an actor and playwright – and Paul Cullen, moreover about eight full-time union officials, Cathal included, old and young John Swift and others. Among old friends were Pat Mooney, Tom Redmond, Daltún O Ceallaigh and Deirbhle, Derry Kelleher, Mrs O’Riordan (Michael is undergoing medical treatment for his eyes), and the O’Rourkes. It was a friendly audience and there was a lively discussion. Sean Redmond is in New York seeing the Gypsy [ie. one of his two sisters; Greaves’s nickname for her was “the gypsy”]. Frank Edwards has given himself cancer of the lung through excessive smoking. Francis Devine was also there and wants to see me tomorrow. After it was over Micheál Loingsigh, who was also there, and Cathal and Daltún O Ceallaigh and Deirbhle came to 111 Meadow Grove [ie. Anthony Coughlan’s house in Dundrum where Greaves was then staying].
Naturally we touched on the ITGWU. Tony Coughlan is inclined to discount the political theory – I have always thought it possible that people would be anxious to suppress the account of the 1918-20 period when Labour was both Left and national – and to prefer to believe that all we have is a supreme example of bureaucracy in inaction. But of course Daltún O Ceallaigh is no longer in touch. I hear Eoin O Murchú is very ill. He had a bicycle accident, then contracted undiagnosed double pneumonia and is not getting on with his ambitious American wife[He and Dr Helena Sheehan separated later].
June 18 Wednesday: I saw Francis Devine for a few minutes. I told him not to start complaints about the delay in the history. I thought the SFWP people would expose themselves in due time. But I did not discuss any on my calculations. One danger is that the union will ask McCarthy to revise it along politically acceptable lines and rely on its finances to defray an action for breach of copyright. To forestall that I have to make use of the material in another work, which I can do legally since the copyright is mine and without fear of much trouble once I know they are not issuing mine. But in hope that SFWP will expose themselves to Michael Mullen first, I have tried to keep up a political relation with him. I decided however not to call and see him.
When Francis Devine had gone I talked with Tom Redmond, who had brought a young man called Glackin [ie. Eddie Glackin] and Tony Coughlan. The meeting was highly irregular [presumably because Redmond and Glackin were CPI members and A.Coughlan was not]. But what could be done? I could hardly refuse to go. Tom Redmond wanted to know whether the CP [ie. in Britain] had become more active on the Irish question as a result of the CPI visit. I replied that they had and that I regretted it. He also enquired about the Labour Committee on Ireland and the Committee for Withdrawal and I told him what we were doing.
June 19 Thursday: I decided to try to trace the story of the Plough and the Stars play and rang Miss O’Beirne [ie. the Pearse Street librarian]. Later I went to the City Hall but the wages books I wanted seem to have been lost. Later still I called to 24 Belgrave Road and Helga drove Tony Coughlan and myself to Sandyford to see Maire Comerford. She hardly ever goes out now, but had a Mrs Hennessy from South Armagh staying with her on the way to Portlaoise to make a visit [ie. Portlaoise Prison, where there were Provisional IRA prisoners]. She was deported from Liverpool in 1939 and says she was a forerunner of the Irish Centre. I also saw Lee Levenson at Buswell’s [ie. the hotel in Molesworth Street] and a young man from the library who specialises in Gaelic studies and thinks that Gaelic Society was almost as reactionary as that of the Incas and was for that reason bound to fall before the onslaught of the Normans and the English. He said that the “common people” were not mentioned, except to have fun poked at them, by any Gaelic writer until the sixteenth century.
June 20 Friday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and crossed to Caergybi [ie. Holyhead]. Everything was on time. There was only a two-minute wait at Chester and I was home by soon after 3 pm. Gerry Curran and Noel Gordon telephoned and there was a letter from Roy Johnston in which he said the CPI were “workerists” and only “the Pope” (Michael O’Riordan) was “good on the national question” because he was a 1940 internee. The weather is cold and windy and the garden has made little progress.
June 21 Saturday: I spent the day on the paper.
June 22 Sunday: Another day on the paper.
Jun 23 Monday: Another day on the paper.
June 24 Tuesday: I went on a day trip to London to collect books. I have rearranged the front page in hope of increasing circulation. I had a talk with Noel Gordon who seems to be doing very well.
June 25 Wednesday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan called and drove me to his house in Gateacre. His daughter aged 16 does the cooking. But all she could produce today was a “Cornish pasty”, which I had to pretend was delicious. The boy, Sean, seems intelligent beyond his years, but I was a little uncertain of him. What went through my head is that perhaps he consumes too much carbohydrate. We went to the meeting and Michael Kelly who was in London said a few words. This was the worst attended meeting. But one person joined, Maureen Brown from Frodsham, and a very young lad was there who hailed me when I went in. He looked so young that Barney Morgan patronised him by calling him “young man” and I had to check him. I don’t believe in youth movements so I must treat youths as grown up. His name was Stephen Wallace. He put £1 in the collection. Later I learned he was not 16 as Barney Morgan had supposed, but 18. He did not look it. At the Irish Centre afterwards he said he had attended Art School (which I could not understand at first because of the atrocious accent; he called it “akscul”) and had not gone on with it as art should come from the individual personality. He had just joined the YCL. Michael Kelly asked him if he wanted to be a writer when he said all he was interested in was books. He said he did. And so indeed did young Sean Morgan. So there are the 18-year-olds of today – not so dissimilar to those of long ago. I decided to ask Stella Bond to give him student membership. Barney drove him home. What made me take notice of him was his reply when he started to read a reprint Barney Morgan had got me. “There should be no monopoly of knowledge.” Was that his own? I replied that there was a natural monopoly – the possession of a head to contain it.
June 26 Thursday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan came in and we discussed the possibility of a tour of places of Irish interest in Liverpool. I have only begun to get some picture of the problem here, and to realise that I am very much a Londoner. The Liverpool Irish are all born here. Last night about twelve young men from 20 to 35 were playing traditional music. From their appearance I would have sworn they were native born. Barney Morgan assured me that not one of them was. Barney is more interested in Liverpool than in Ireland, I suspect, though he keeps close touch. Michael Kelly speaks of his lost tradition. It struck me that we could lead them back to Ireland by a kind of reversed recapitulation.
June 27 Friday (London): I spent the day composing a letter to Michael Mullen who has invited me to attend “a meeting” in Dublin. I wonder what swindle he is cooking up. It is one thing however that they want me to go ahead. I suspect they will want to publish it themselves and I suspect McCarthy will be in the picture. I asked Tony Coughlan to send me his book [Charles McCarthy, 1924-86, former General Secretary of the Vocational Teachers Union, later the TUI; appointed to the chair of Industrial Relations at Trinity College Dublin in 1979; Dean of the Economic and Social Studies Faculty there and College Fellow; author of “Trade Unions in Ireland 1894-1960”, published in 1977, which was the book that Greaves was seeking].
June 28 Saturday (London): I went to London. There were no sales because of the Labour Committee on Ireland social evening near the Archway [The Labour Committee on Ireland had been established by a number of Labour MPs, prominent among whom was Kevin McNamara, 1934-2017, Labour MP for Kingston on Hull, who supported the principle of Irish reunification]. Noel Gordon was there, Jane Tate, Philip Rendle and others. I would say there were two or three hundred at it.
June 29 Sunday: I went to Northampton in Steve Huggett’s car, Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray with us. Peter Mulligan arranged the EC meeting at the Grand Hotel, where we had a very good lunch for £4 a head. Pat Bond was there, also Jane Tate and Michael Crowe. There is an increase in membership, but the finances are precarious. We have however a good campaigning prospect culminating in our annual conference in Liverpool.
After the meeting we went into the marketplace. Peter Mulligan had issued leaflets and we announced an open-air meeting. A police superintendent stood at one side, afar off, and a uniformed man afar off on the other side. There were two or three young men who looked like building workers. When we sat up our platform on the far side they walked over. I had expected this as I could see they were Irish. About 40 people assembled and stood through the meeting. They warmly applauded the speakers. Six people gave their names as possible members. But I had a curious impression. All were poorly dressed, obviously from the ranks of the unskilled workers, with quite a few middle-aged women. These are the people who suffered police harassment over the years and they showed a certain amount of courage in coming out.
After the meeting Peter Mulligan invited myself, together with Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray, to dinner. Before that he drove us down to the newly opened Irish Centre where they were drinking before opening time. Every room has a bar – that is to say all three – and there are no amenities like those in Liverpool. But there are music classes and plans for a camogie team. Peter’s small child – nearly 5 – called Reza (or pronounced that way) is a bright little creature. Golna, the Persian woman he married, looked very young at the time of the happy event, but is now a well set up woman, a very pleasant person. We returned to London by train.
June 30 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office and wrote some letters. Then I caught the 10.53 to Derby and went up to Ripley. Things went smoothly enough. I have altered the front page so as to carry a list of contents. The article on Irish Marxism is the first shot in a campaign against academic or commercial Marxism and I hope it will be sold at the Communist University of London so as to answer Bew and company [This article is carried under the tag-line “Articles” on this Archive web-site]. It also struck me that I could write about London in Liverpool for the next issue. I came on from Ripley to Liverpool.
July 1 Tuesday: The half of the year gone already! I did some shopping, but the weather was cold and showery, indeed exceptionally bad. Nothing could be done in the garden. I have loads of gooseberries, but they are all sour – no sun to ripen them up. But the strawberries and blackcurrants are good. Barney Morgan rang and will call tomorrow.
July 2 Wednesday: I went to the Picton Library and found the Larkin family, having on a hint from RM Fox found the church they were connected with. Fox talks of South Chipping Street. There is no Chipping Street in the A to Z, but I found it in an old telephone directory and discovered Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. Unfortunately, the records begin a few months too late and there are no registers. But I found the birth entries for Peter and Bridget (Delia, I am convinced)[Delia Larkin was James Larkin’s sister], for the mother in Peter’s case is Maria Anna Larkin olim McNulty [ie. once or originally McNulty], and I found the death entry of Jacobus Larkin, the father.
But there was a completely amazing thing, which did not seem so amazing when I thought about it. I stopped as soon as the name McMath caught my eye [ie. the name of one of his maternal grandparents]. It was in the birth entry of Maria McMath – Gilia Joanna McMath, olim Mansfield. Now this is almost certainly the birth entry of my mother’s aunt Mary whom Phyllis used to visit in South Liverpool. There was never a ghost of a whisper that she might have been born a Catholic, though I know there was a “thing” about Catholicism on that side of the family. I often wished that I had tackled AEG’s sisters [ie. his maternal aunts] because she did not like to talk of the old days. It was only on ART’s [one of his maternal aunts] blurting it out that I learned that the family were radicals. But Mansfield is what persuades me. I knew this name was in the family but had no idea how it figured in it. ADT [Another maternal aunt] was called Mansfield as a middle name and her sisters called her “Mansi”. Now when I was in Castleblaney in 1947 an old solicitor said he remembered the McMaths well. He confirmed the family story that the last of them died as a result of striking an overhanging tree while riding his horse on a dark night. He was a director of the Hibernian Bank. But apparently an illegitimate child was born to him. The child took his name and one therefore assumed that he was brought up by him. Indeed I was told that the McMath fortune was offered to the Liverpool McMath but that he turned it down. But why should the mother not have been a Catholic? I have a vague notion that she was supposed to be in McMath’s employment. There were supposed to be “McMath’s Mills” in the district, but what sort of mills I don’t know. When I looked for my grandmother’s name in the register at Somerset House, however, I could not find it. I never looked in Dublin. Indeed I only looked in London because I happened to be passing the year.
Later Barney Morgan came in. He is full of enthusiasm for Liverpool Irish history and will be giving a talk to the Connolly Association on the 16th. One afterthought for the record. In Castleblaney I was told that “wee McMath’s” ghost still haunted the lane.
July 3 Thursday: I did a little in the garden in the morning. In the afternoon I went to the Picton again, but nothing solid emerged. I will have to go again and note the family particulars of all named Larkin as I think I have identified a Larkin uncle and a McNulty aunt.
July 4 Friday: The telephone in Gray’s Inn Road is out of action again. We have had terrible trouble with it this year. Noel Gordon rang me from a call box. I did a little in the garden.
July 5 Saturday: Another telephone call from Noel Gordon, again from a call box, asking if I had received “Comment” in which there is an article even worse than the last. I had not.
July 6 Sunday: I went to the Irish Centre for 12.30 and met Barney Morgan. While I was waiting for him to arrive, a few minutes late it is true, but generally speaking he is the soul of reliability, I was speaking to a young man who was selling “Troops Out”. He had been at the Withdrawal conference. Barney brought “Comment” and it contains an article by Patterson, that wordy little ignoramus who was at Liberation and, as Noel says, it is worse than the last. Tom Walsh was in great form [ie. the manager of the Liverpool Irish Centre] and delighted to hear that we were investigating the possibilities of a tour of Irish historical spots in Liverpool. Then we set off. We identified the school that Larkin went to and spoke to the Parish Priest. The school is still in use, then we went to where Crossley[Name unclear in the original]Street was, and so North, ending at Ford cemetery. We think we have enough places.
After a meal at Barney Morgan’s we went to John Gibson’s. Of course I am not used to this “calling on people”, which happens in Dublin but not in London. John Gibson is unwell. He goes into hospital on Thursday and I can see he is very worried. I think we took his mind of it. He had seen the “Comment”. Not only are they shocking on the Irish question, they are preparing the slogans under which the Third World War will be fought. At some future date there will be a great breast-beating session when they confirm their “mistakes”, but not their stupidity. Even if Brezhnev was the devil himself we don’t want a war with him. But they are too stuffed with “pure” socialism to think of practicalities.
I forgot to record yesterday that a letter came from Esther Henrotte who is living in Folkstone. She had bought my O’Casey and got my address from Lawrence and Wishart. She said that on retiring from the RACS at the appropriate age she left for New Zealand with her “family” (surely George and Elsie got married!) but when her husband died she came home. I had not seen her for nearly 40 years and she must be 83.
Soon after the war broke out it was clear that Synthetic Oils Ltd., where I was research chemist trying to establish the Fischer-Tropsch process, was going to fold up. It did so as far as Baker [a fellow research chemist] and myself were concerned on February 29th, 1940. A second blow fell the same day. Baker was called up into the army and went to Abyssinia where he was involved in some fearful motor accident and miraculously nursed back to health by the girl he subsequently married. About May I returned to Liverpool and drew unemployment insurance from the British Association of Chemists of which I was (thanks to Baker’s prompting) a member. Then I was offered a job in the Arsenal [ie. Woolwich Arsenal, where armaments were made] but was not called. One day I was in Manchester and Bill Whitaker asked me to go to Barrow-in-Furness for a few weeks to organise the YCL. That way some time passed. Finally, the British Association of Chemists forced the Arsenal to find me a job, but it was in a drawing office. I complained but could get no sense. Finally I saw a man called Dr Foster (I think this was his name; it might have been Forster) the only thing like a gentleman there, who was a chemist. I tackled him. A week later he came back and said, “You’re under a cloud.”
“You were at a University.”
“Well of course you were young – but you distinguished yourself by communist activity. The Government are very windy. There’s a ruling that you mustn’t be allowed on the premises of any Ordinance factory.” He was very pleasant.
Now this must have been early in 1941 because I was living at Esther Henrotte’s, I believe. When I had gone to Woolwich I had contacted her and had taken lodgings with some sort of relative of hers by marriage. I had already joined the Editorial Board of the “Irish Democrat” [The monthly paper’s name at that time was “Irish Freedom”] and the Irish Committee [ie. of the CPGB] because one night we were in the office in Theobald’s Road [ie. in Holborn, London] we heard a very distant air raid warning followed by a slight thump, miles away. When I got back to Plumstead and drew near my lodgings I noticed glass and bricks. Finally I saw that the house I had lived in was uninhabitable. I stayed the night in her air raid shelter, too relieved to bother about the loss of my possessions. I stayed about a fortnight with the woman next door, but it was not satisfactory so that I moved into her place. This was in Abbey Wood. It must have been there till the end of June. There was a month of incredibly fine weather, at the end of which Hitler went into Russia and I believe I could have possibly remained at the Arsenal. During this month Phyllis [ie. his sister] came down and stayed a few days with us, I think in June. I remember the great raid when we all got drunk at Alice Loveman’s. Sid French was there, and Arthur Sears was convulsed with hysterical laughter as somebody tried to pour a bottle of beer over an umbrella he was holding up and he lying on the floor. We decided if we were to be blown up we’d go in cheerful condition. I was on the Colonial Committee as well. It used to meet in the Colonial Information Bureau, I think run by Michael Carritt, brother of Gabriel, with Ben Bradley to the fore. So now a letter comes recalling those days of long ago which were in many ways so much better than the days of today – as Shakespeare put it, “before these last so bad”. I wrote her a nice letter.
July 7 Monday: The telephone was restored in the London office and Noel Gordon rang me. Peter Mulligan organised a meeting in Northampton on Thursday week just before he goes on holiday. Typical Peter. When enthusiasm grips him he rushes ahead. But we cannot afford to restrain him. I suggested that if he can manage it he could send Eddie Cowman, that is, if he is willing to go. Otherwise he would have to go himself. I would go but the expense would be excessive. I wrote to Tony Coughlan and Tom Redmond.
July 8 Tuesday: A letter came from Tony Coughlan who expressed himself very favourably regarding my attack on Messrs Bew etc. Noel Gordon reported new membership in several parts of the country. And Alan Morton telephoned saying he will be coming to London next week to bring the final chapter of his book to the printer. The weather remains dull and cool, but the soft fruit is much better than it was last year. I can’t eat all the gooseberries and have a plate of strawberries each day.
July 9 Wednesday: The weather was dry but still cool, though there was cumulo-stratus at night, which is a better sign. I went to Toxteth to take photographs of Mount Carmel, St Patrick’s etc. for the paper [These were places associated with James Larkin as a child].
July 10 Thursday: The day was warmer but the evening was cool. I would not be at all surprised if the sky’s pallid colour was due to volcanic dust. In the evening there was a line of cirrus in the west and fracto-stratus, and it was so chilly that my hands were cold when I clipped two box bushes.
Noel Gordon gave me the bad news that Eddie Cowman has a job in Galway and will be going there quite soon.
July 11 Friday: I went to London and spent the evening having a drink with Helen McMurray, there being enough paper sellers without us.
July 12 Saturday: I was in the office in the day. Noel Gordon told me that the number of orders from sellers has increased and one seller has increased his order. So the tide has turned. In the afternoon Eddie Cowman appeared and in the evening I was out with Gerry Curran. He is more cheerful. He has found a new “mott”[ie. woman friend, a Dublinism possibly derived from “mate”] whom he brought to the meeting on Wednesday and talked before to impress.
July 13 Sunday: We held a small Standing Committee in the morning, with Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray and Steve Huggett. In the evening I addressed quite a reasonable meeting on “Ireland and World Peace” at the Marchmont Street Centre. Among those present were Flann Campbell, Steve Huggett, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray, Eddie Cowman and about 20-30 others.
July 14 Monday: I telephoned Wellington House in Bournemouth to be told that DzB had been moved to another nursing home. This I then rang. I went to Bournemouth and took a taxi to Alexandra House. I was waiting while she was attended to and while doing so saw Dorothy Greaves come in. She availed of my presence to make only a brief visit.
“She’ll not know you,” she said to me.
“Is she that bad?”
Before we went into the room Daphne and the matron were in long conversation. The solicitor had been “naughty”. He had sold Daphne’s car. It flashed through my mind that he was afraid her assets would not sustain a long continuance at Wellington House and he had found a cheaper place. Heaven knows what jiggery-pokery is going on. I then learned that a few days after I visited her last, she had fallen and broken her hip. The mending operation had been badly done and she was expecting to go into hospital again. Well, she did know me. But her voice was so weak that it was a strain to listen to her. And she would speak to me about people I did not know. She is not able to read, nor has she the strength to hold a paper. So I returned by no means pleased and was glad to spend the evening with Eddie Cowman and others.
July 15 Tuesday (Liverpool): I had lunch with Alan Morton who had brought the last chapter of his book to his publishers. He thinks it will be a standard work for a number of years. He is very painstaking and has gone to originals in Greek and Latin that nobody ever reads. I took the 6.30 to Liverpool.
July 16. Wednesday: I did a little work on the paper and in the evening attended the Connolly Association meeting which Barney Morgan addressed. There were 22 people present, some from the Troops Out Movement, McEntaggart and Savage from the New Communist Party, Cope from the CPGB, two from the “Socialist Workers Party”. The remainder were Connolly Association or near it. I had a letter from Betty Sinclair which said that the CPI had protested about the “Comment” articles, also that they had wanted me to be invited to their discussion early this year, but it did not happen. The weather continues exceptionally chilly. It scarcely reached 60’F today. It is surprising how many strawberries there are. But I never saw fewer insects. No butterflies, no wasps.
July 17 Thursday: I went on with the paper.
July 18 Friday: I continued with the paper.
Jul 19 Saturday: Another day on the paper.
July 20 Sunday: I finished the paper.
July 21 Monday: I went into Birkenhead and posted off the paper. At last the weather has taken up.
July 22 Tuesday: Barney Morgan came in and we decided to postpone the trip to Irish “shrines” in Liverpool till September and have a discussion with the Troops Out Movement who had approached us for a “debate”, on August 13.
July 23 Wednesday: I was told by Noel Gordon that we were very short of cash and that there was a danger that we could not pay the printer. I told him in effect that it had to be done. He, Pat O’Donohue and Jane Tate are meeting to discuss it tomorrow.
July 24 Thursday: In the afternoon I went to see the new organiser, Jack Kay. He is a far more presentable character than Roger O’Hara, a carpenter who worked in Manchester and knew Joe Deighan and Danny Kilcommins [old CA members in that city]. He told me an amusing story about Danny Kilcommins. The foreman was stealing lead from the site by the truckload. Danny wanted a small strip for the house he was refurbishing for his marriage and put it in his bag. As he went through the door the foreman snapped, “Can I see what you’ve got in that bag, Danny?” he asked. “Be Jasus, you can’t,” says Kilcommins, pushing him aside and riding off on his bicycle.
Today the weather was warm and dry. The change has been sudden and dramatic, though not of course like that of June 1975. In the evening I cycled out to where Barnston Railway Station used to be, walked along the path to Landican Lane, and cycled back. The old footpath from Little Storeton to Barnston that was our usual longer country walk is cut by a motorway, but they have supplied a bridge. Barnston Dale, as it was called, was a private picnic ground. I think you had to pay 1d. to get in – I’m not sure.
July 25 Friday: Another warm day. I went to Ripley to read the proofs. Noel Gordon rang from Belfast to say the printer’s cheque had been sent for me to sign – in Dublin! The sky looked threatening when I got back to Liverpool
July 26 Saturday: The fine weather did not last long. Today began with rain in the early morning. It was damp and dark and then the heavens opened in the evening. But the garden is doing well. This year I have gone in for Physalis Edulis, some excellent golden-coloured turnips, swedes, cabbages, colcannon, broccoli, spinach, pomphrey, Welsh onions, potatoes and runner beans. All seem in good shape. The tree onions brought originally from Ireland grow on, the spinach beet sows itself. I have three varieties of tomato, scallions and leeks, and among the leeks coriander, caraway, fennel, sweet cicely (which Jane Tate got for me in London), hyssop, marjoram, pennyroyal (at last), Cologne mint, spearmint, apple mint, lovage (seven feet high), thyme, salad burnet, borage, lavender and chervil. There are also two kinds of ridge cucumbers and quite a few marrows, also broad beans. As for fruit I can hardly eat it all. I have two out of five gooseberry bushes unpicked, raspberries, loganberries, still a few strawberries left and blackcurrants. Still to come are the crab apples and Victoria plums. The damson has not flowered yet. I would like however a dessert gooseberry and an apricot. I have also got sorrel and garlic. Everything is more advanced by far than it was last year.
July 27 Sunday: I did some work in the garden, extracted references to the ITGWU project, and squeezed in an hour and a quarter cycling. I went via Brimstage to Thornton Hough, then back through Clatterbridge.
July 28 Monday (Dublin): I went to Chester, Holyhead, Dun Laoire and Dublin. Cathal was waiting for me at Amiens St. I went to his place. Later Daltún O Ceallaigh and Deirbhle arrived. I told him about the position vis-a-vis the ITGWU. We recalled the lordly letter when they had “completed their examination,” and my immediate refusal to proceed further, Michael Mullen’s “come and have a chat”, followed by attend a meeting after the “chat” had been postponed twice. I told him that I had resolved to come to no meeting until I had seen the consultant’s report. There were further lordly invitations from Clancy, but without the report. I excused myself from the April meeting on grounds of illness, but suggested June. Still no report came. I returned from Dublin to London without attempting to see Michael Mullen. This annoyed him – a further letter. I then named a date but said I wanted the report. It must have become clear to them that I was stalling and could stall again. The reports – yes, two of them – arrived with a kind of half explanation that their contents necessitated a meeting. The plan had of course been to bring me to Dublin unaware of these reports (one from Donal McCartney was favourable but “nit-picking”, as Daltún O Ceallaigh put it; the other from that associate of Bew, Joseph Lee, was only “nit-picking”) and trot out the details at me. This would enable them to represent Geraghty, now Communications Officer and doing Daltún O Ceallaigh’s old job, as an expert who would revise my book, or tell me how to revise it, and the Union (ie. Geraghty) would publish it. I told Daltún O Ceallaigh that I did not trust these people half an inch. I had covered all the ground in my own mind as carefully as I could. The stress had been all for a “popular” history, now the attacks came on the grounds that it was insufficiently academic. I expected the proposition that the union should publish. I would rather not involve Lawrence and Wishart in the risk that they would let them down – order copies and not pay for them. So providing there were safeguards as adequate as one could get from such people, then they could have the publishing. But I had already written to Michael Mullen protesting at his sending a Manuscript marked “unrevised” at the head of each chapter, to any reader without the courtesy of consulting me.
Daltún O Ceallaigh told me he greatly enjoys his new job as General Secretary of the University Teachers’ Union. Cathal is a full-time official of the ITGWU, and he tells me his superior, the branch secretary, distrusts Michael Mullen and the dislike is mutual. I stayed at 111 Meadow Grove [ie. Anthony Coughlan’s house, he being away from Dublin at the time].
July 29 Tuesday: I did little today, went into town, and later met Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray at Cathal MacLiam’s. They had been to Belfast.
July 30 Wednesday: I went into the Custom House on the off chance that I might find the entry of the death of McNulty, Larkin’s mother’s father, around January 1876. I found a McAnulty, which I think may be the one. At Cathal’s in the evening Steve Huggett appeared, on his way back to London. I also spoke to Sean Redmond, who will ring tomorrow. Yesterday I saw Sean Nolan and told him there was little hope that they could both activise the CPGB and have them, in their activity, drop SFWP [ie. Sinn Fein the Workers Party, the “Official” Republicans]. He reluctantly agreed. He asked about Bert Ward. But the two CPs have one thing in common, they always look to the party, never to the movement. Tonight I had a talk with Tom Redmond. He thinks the “Comment” articles have now finished.
July 31 Thursday: The meeting with the ITGWU took place this morning. I went in determined to give nothing away without adequate return. Daltún O Ceallaigh said Michael Mullen would not be there if he knew him. He was not. I kept them waiting ten minutes. Carroll said good morning and excused himself. There were Clancy, Geraghty and Tom McCarthy, Education Officer.
I took the offensive and after the preliminaries were over said I came under a sense of grievance that an unrevised MS had been sent to a reader (I said nothing about having been asked to be popular.) I did however suggest a middle road. Asked how long revision would take I said perhaps the end of the year. But there would have to be an understanding that that could not be guaranteed. Then Clancy mentioned Lawrence and Wishart. They had decided they wished for publication in Ireland and they thought the Union should do it. I said I had no objection in principle.
“The Union would be responsible for its accuracy,” said Geraghty
“That breaks our agreement,” I rejoined. His jaw fell convulsively, showing what the whole exercise was about. It was as I thought. Clancy then said that the Executive Council had decided not to go for a second volume until the first was published. This was of course a further breach of the agreement. I interrupted before he could finish. “I’m not doing a second volume.” He showed no reaction, therefore that was what was meant.
There was a suggestion that Geraghty and I should discuss the project. But that young man seemed to have lost interest for today, and McCarthy said he would meet me. Meanwhile I had agreed to a “subsidiary agreement” modifying the publication clause. “But there’ll be a financial clause,” I told him. He was agreeable. They are fairly willing to part with their members’ money. Indeed a cheque was handed to me for last autumn’s expenses, but not for the work already done at Michael Mullen’s request on Volume 2. I had decided to cut my losses there in order to be in a position of strength in regard to Volume 1. When it was over Clancy became very amiable and agreed handsomely when I commented that Daltún O Ceallaigh would go far.
I met McCarthy later. He said that the Union was putting down a large sum of money and that he wanted to be sure the book would sell to Universities. I told him that my name would guarantee that, and that I had no responsibility for their putting down a large sum of money, for I had already lined up a publisher who was prepared to do it for them. I said I thought the two publications I had seen were produced in a somewhat amateurish way. He looked disappointed. “I got those out, ” he said. I said I would want him to get a capable consultant (I was playing the consultant game now). He then suggested getting Gill and Macmillan to publish “for the Union”. I agreed to this, ceteris paribus. I played every card in the pack. When I went into Palmerston Park I was told Mr McCarthy “would see me in a minute.” Would I sit down? I went to the front door and stood with my back to the lot of them. He was out in thirty seconds. But he had to approach me.
We went to the Irish Sovereignty Movement meeting – Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray, Cathal MacLiam, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Deirbhle [ie. Deirbhle Murphy, Daltún O Ceallaigh’s wife] – and met Maolachlann O Caollai, Uinseann MacEoin, Sheila Humphries, with Sean Cronin lecturing [Sean Cronin, 1922-2011, journalist and author, was on a visit from America. He had been Chief of Staff of the IRA during the 1956-62 Border campaign]. Sean Redmond came and I told him of this morning. “They may still try to change your text.” said Daltún. “They can’t be trusted.” “I don’t trust them either,” said Sean Redmond. “You can see the ‘try on’ they’ve been operating.” I assured them that I didn’t trust them either. Daltún O Ceallaigh said McCarthy was the best of a bad bunch.
I think Noel Gordon was quite pleased to be at the meeting. Daltún O Ceallaigh was in the chair and Micheál O Loingsigh was also present. I thought Cronin had aged considerably, but who has not? Cathal is completely grey, I am half grey and Sean Redmond is about half, though his hair is copious.
August 1 Friday: I was up late last night and did not awake until 8.15 am. – too late to catch the boat. I was able however to straighten the place up a little so that Tony Coughlan will not see utter chaos on his return. I got into town at about 1.15 pm. and learning that there was a sporting chance of getting on the 2 pm. boat without a sailing ticket I took a taxi to Dun Laoire – leaving O’Connell St at 1.30 and just making it. Not that it mattered. The boat sailed one and a half hour’s late. I reached 124 Mount Road about 9.30 pm. There was a letter from Lee Levenson and material from the accountants.
August 2 Saturday: Last night seemed to promise a beautiful day, but it gradually clouded over. I stayed at home but for buying a newspaper and did a little in the garden.
August 3 Sunday: I transplanted some colcannon and wrote to the accountant. I don’t know how it managed to fill the day!
August 4 Monday: I did some more in the garden. I had intended to go to London but Stella Bond told me that the telephone has been out of order since the day Noel Gordon went away. I went a cycle ride to Storeton and Red Hill.
August 5 Tuesday: I did a little clearing up. I am still on the track of Larkin. It occurred to me to write to the registrar at Newry. There is just a possibility that he was registered there. After all, why did he say he was born in Co. Down? The London telephone is still off. But I’d best go tomorrow. I’m not intensely keen on staying at Noel Gordon’s noisy flat, and I have a species of cold.
August 6 Wednesday (London): I went to London. The telephone was still off. There was a branch meeting, at which one of Peter Mulligan’s tapes was to be played. I told them it would be no good, which from the start was obvious, so they did not continue it. Jane Tate is in Ireland but Steve Huggett was there. Chris Sullivan is in Greece.
August 7 Thursday: Today I think I solved the Larkin mystery. I had been already struck by the existence of a West Derby family of Larkins, with several of the right names, but no Hugh or James. I tracked down the marriage of James (Senior)and Mary MacNulty. It was as early as 1870. I had already got Bridget and Peter. I now found Hugh and James, James being born in 1874, like Connolly two years before the general record allowed. I also found the death of James (Snr.) in 1888. So the matter is now (unless the certificates I sent for show some unexpected discrepancy) quite clear. I addressed the South London branch. I was not pleased that Noel Gordon’s friend Roger Kelly is always announcing CP events. The YCL are having an Irish jamboree – the usual, Myant and Jimmy Stewart. Michael Crowe was there and told us a woeful tale.
After a drink last night he woke up. He was at Chris Sullivan’s but thought he was at Jane Tate’s where the lavatory is downstairs and the door has no spring. He went out in his pyjama trousers, only to hear the door slam behind him. It was a very warm night and he lay down in the garage and got some sleep. Finally a neighbour (with whom Pegeen is not on good terms) got the Corporation carpenter who put in a new lock.
August 8 Friday: I was in the office. At noon the phone was at last functioning again. I was out with Michael Crowe in Paddington.
August 9 Saturday: I was again in the office and met Gerry Curran in Hammersmith in the evening. Toni Curran is away, and Pat O’Donohue and his wife are at 57 Bellevue Avenue “doing for” the Curran children!
August 10 Saturday: I was again in the office, and out with Michael Crowe again. He says that the continual drip of Myant propaganda, while it had no effect on the older generation, is turning some of the younger people if not against, at least a little suspicious of the Connolly Association. The Northern District of the CP is “hard line” and rejected with only two dissentients the policy on Afghanistan when a speaker from Leeds presented it – Prescott I think [ie. Dave Prescott, CPGB official]. But there is so little leadership that they are all at sea. When Gordon McLennan was speaking he was asked about the EEC. He said that of the European CPs the Italian was at one extreme and the Irish at the other. The CPGB was in the middle. Did you ever hear! Noel Gordon did not arrive back.
August 11 Monday (Liverpool): I went down to the Registry again to see if I could find the birth of Mary McMath. I searched several years but couldn’t find it. So there’s another mystery. I think I know why Bridget Larkin used the name Delia. It was customary to allege that the Irish were lousy and the word “biddy” meant a louse. And there was a Delia Larkin, possibly a relation in Liverpool. On an old map I found “Back Chester Street” just behind St Patrick’s. In my mother’s family parlance – I presume she got it from them – this was always regarded as the equivalent of “Billingsgate”. I always assumed it was Back Chester Street, Birkenhead – Chester Street being the main road south from Woodside. It struck me it was Back Chester Street, Liverpool. There is none marked on the present map. Nor is there one on the Birkenhead map. I have a feeling there may never have been one.
I came back to Liverpool. There were developments. A letter from Fishers told me that they were trying to get me a state pension dated from April 6th, but I might only get three months of it. Second, I could earn £37 a week without losing pension. This will leave me with the rather modest income of £3724 a year. But I think if I can get the £37 a week I can get by.
Another item was a letter from Malcolm Brown of Seattle. He told me he had sent me a copy of his book, “Politics of Irish Literature”. I was surprised at this for I never received it. He is doing a sequel. I have a feeling I met him and that he came into the office some years ago. He described by book on O’Casey as “marvellous” and suggested I should do Orwell, who will be greatly boosted in four years’ time.
The third thing was from Dublin, a letter from that cunning peasant Clancy. He is making a further assault on my copyright. At the moment the position is that they want me to do something. But if they can persuade me to revise the MS and send the revised version to them, then the question arises of their publishing it. Clancy’s memorandum speaks of this without commitment, ie. the Union may publish it – if they can get concessions out of me. Well, they’ll get none. A more twisty calculating bunch I never came across. No wonder the other Trade Unionists in Dublin call them the “mafia”. At a certain point I may have to let the public know. Already it is being talked about. Somebody told Steve Huggett that the SFWP regard me as one of their most dangerous ideological enemies. “If that book’s not published while Mullen is secretary, it will not be published at all.” But Michael Mullen is a broken reed. They will all be disappointed when they get my reply.
Noel Gordon telephoned this morning. He is returning tomorrow.
August 12 Tuesday: I did a little today. I have a back of a cold which refuses to go – and no wonder in the wretched weather.
August 13 Wednesday: In the early evening Barney Morgan appeared and drove me to the meeting of the Connolly Association. This arose from a request from the Troops Out Movement for a discussion of our differences and similarities. About six of our people were there, five of theirs, including secretary (Alan Evans) and treasurer, three members of the Workers Revolutionary Party (if I have got it right), a member of the CP and a few others. The confusion was unbelievable, but I thought Evans a level-headed young fellow. The trouble is that they are all English and speculating about Ireland. Evans is from Gloucester, though he has lived in Liverpool for twelve years. He drops his aitches, pronounces “ow” as “ew” (which made me suspect a touch of Dublin) and sounds the terminal “r”. As we passed the Shipping Federation place Barney Morgan told me that it is closing. A Liverpool seaman will get a letter from London sending him to any ship in the country. Up to now a Holyhead seaman would be selected in Liverpool. Now they will be on the same footing. “It means the port is finished,” said Barney. Apparently there was not a squeak of protest. I think they are punch drunk.
August 14 Thursday: I had a word with Noel Gordon in the morning. He has pushed up the Summer School promises to 20 [ie. a cultural event being organised by the Connolly Association]. Later he rang to say that the British Government has refused visas to the YCL’s jamboree on Northern Ireland at which Myant and his mates were going to spread imperialist economism. The incident only shows how little they know about it. If they had any sense they would have been trying to increase the numbers. The only trouble is that Myant et al may from this derive illusions of their own importance.
In between times Barney Morgan had telephoned. Wirral (ie. Birkenhead) Trades Council is to hold a conference on Ireland, and it seems oriented towards withdrawal. He called in at 6 pm. and telephoned Harland, the secretary. He took six papers which he hopes to get into the bookshop. The weather is deplorable, with endless rain, though mercifully warm. What is also noteworthy these days is that the barometer moves so little.
Roy Johnston is at it again. He sent as his science article this month a refutation of my review of Bernal (Goldsmith’s book) which contains some choice non-sequiturs and false analogies with O’Casey. A covering letter shows that he has been contacting Kevin Bernal through his sister in Nenagh and is thinking of writing a refutation of Goldsmith. He wants to know why Aileen Bernal withheld the papers and speaks of making contact with her in London. Then comes the reason: his job is in jeopardy thanks to certain “academic begrudgers” and he wants another way to make some money. His capacity to tailor his politics to his pocket is prodigious. And he is shameless into the bargain.
[ Editor’s Note: When Roy Johnston read this entry he asked that the following comment by him, dated 9 January 2002, be inserted here. Anthony Coughlan in turn wrote him a response, dated 13 October 13, which is also inserted below:
“There is reference to the present writer in the entry on August 14 1980. I had it seems been sending a science column to the Irish Democrat (a peace offering on my part), and for the September I had done a critical review of the Goldsmith life of JD Bernal, with which the family had not co-operated, withholding the Bernal papers. I had read it and it was indeed rubbish, giving a totally false picture of the Irish war of independence, which Bernal had observed. I expressed interest in how to get at the Bernal papers, with a view to perhaps writing a refutation. (This in fact did eventually develop into my participation in the Bernal biographical team, along with several others, including Eric Hobsbawm, Richie Calder and Earl Mountbatten(!), which in the end produced an omnibus biography published in 1999 by Verso, edited by Brenda Swann and Francis Aprahamian. I contributed the ‘Irish roots’ chapter.) CDG however attributes this interest to my desire to ‘tailor my politics to my pocket’ shamelessly. He could not have been more wrong. There was no money in this for anyone, simply a desire to put Bernal on the map credibly, and to set the record straight. In this entry he exposes his vindictiveness and unforgiving nature, in his attitude to someone whom, fuelled largely by malicious gossip, he had previously ‘labelled and dismissed’, despite his accepting my monthly science contribution to the Democrat. (RHW Johnston, 9/1/2002)
Anthony Coughlan wrote the following note to Roy Johnston regarding the above comment by him, which is also inserted in the original Journal:
“| think it is a misunderstanding, however understandable, to call CDG ‘vindictive and unforgiving’ above. Gossip, backbiting and detraction, especially when lubricated with plenty of alcohol, can be all the more interesting and amusing at the time, the more highly coloured and exaggerated they are. Much of this gossip has the character of fantasy, and conscious deliberate fantasy at that, as the best gossip often has – the ebullience of a moment. Much of the gossip that gave rise to various hurtful personal remarks about yourself in these Journal entries should be seen as of that kind. None of those involved took it THAT seriously at the time. Everyone was fair game who was not actually present to defend themselves, for it made for more amusing moments. CDG, who lived alone most of the time, used let his hair down in company, especially when he came to Dublin. One must always remember that diaries are not normally envisaged for publication. Reference to such gossip in the Journal should not therefore be taken as expressing serious, considered or balanced judgements, or as indicative of Desmond Greaves’s overall attitude to yourself or anyone else. I can vouch for it that CDG always had a strongly positive attitude to yourself, as indeed the others concerned had, whatever about short-term disagreements over this or that. These reports of highly coloured gossip among a few friends in an alcoholic atmosphere, invariably late at night, should not be taken as fact. They need always to be seen in context, and CDG’s writing up such gossip to fill space in his Journal afterwards needs to be seen in context also. (Anthony Coughlan, Tuesday 13 October 2003)”]
August 15 Friday: The afternoon was fine and I did a little in the garden. There are queer things going on. The evening primroses have been flowering for at least six weeks. Now the roosters which I left for next year are bolting. I wonder if there is a process comparable with the vernalization of seeds. I thought this more like when a cauliflower suddenly headed up – it was from seed sown in May. The oenothera plants are sending out laterals from soil level, again something interesting for the old ones wait till they are two feet high.
August 16 Saturday: I took the 12.05 train for a day trip to London, and a damned bad journey I had each way. The thing sat in Lime Street for half an hour before starting, though it was only 20 minutes late at Euston. On the way back, although there was a buffet car advertised, there was in fact none. And we were held up for half an hour at Allerton while police dealt with “trouble” (football hooligans, I presume) at Edge Hill. But I had a useful talk with Noel Gordon and brought back literature and petition forms.
August 17 Sunday: I did some work in the garden and plucked the first Victoria plums. I found a magnificent map of Central Liverpool among Phyllis’s maps. It was dated after the opening of the tunnel but before the destruction by war and planners. She had circled in ink a number of schools. I remember her telling me that she had held some kind of music festival in which she conducted a choir of children from both Catholic and Protestant schools. The schools marked were in Lambeth Road, Ashfield Street, Latimer Street (Presbyterian?), Chapel Gardens, Scotland Road (St Anthony’s RC), Northumberland Terrace, Davy Street, Carneau Street (St Joseph’s RC), Everton Terrace, Bute Street, Haigh Street, Boscombe Street, William Henry Street. They are all on the North side. I think I remember her saying that they agreed to hold the rehearsal alternatively, so that she would need a map. When would it be? I think after CEG [ie. their father] died, maybe 1948. But the pre-war map would still be valid. Well, the point is that everything is on it. I was thinking more about AEG’s [ie. his mother’s] aunt. If I remember, Phyllis told me that she died “because she didn’t want to live any more. She was absolutely alone and nobody came to see her.” Phyllis of course did. But the families were absolutely apart. I wonder if she was a victim of the earlier stages of the demolition of Liverpool which began in the fifties? If I had had the faintest notion that she had been Catholic I would have gone to see her myself. Slowly small items of information come back to me. I remember AEG saying her aunt lived in Toxteth. But I had no notion until Barney Morgan took me there recently where exactly this was. And I think it was not thought genteel. So on one side of the family Edith Nepean consorts with the King of Romania and on the other Mary McMath goes to school with Jim Larkin! [Edith Nepean, née Bellis, 1876-1960, a relation of Greaves’s, was a Welsh writer who wrote romantic novels in English, most of them with Welsh settings. She lived for a time in Transylvania and was reputed to have been one of the mistresses of King Carol 2, 1893-1953.]
August 18 Monday: I did some work in the garden and started on the article about Larkin. It is intended for one thing to be a shot across the bows of the ITGWU saying, so to speak, “If you don’t use this material never fear, I will.” It is also timed for Francis Devine’s “Labour History” jamboree, to show them who can best find out something really new, the plodding academic or the active journalist. And it will also pull the legs of those who are trying to get my history altered.
August 19 Tuesday: I went on with the article. Veronica Gibson told me the census forms for 1871 are in the Picton [a major library in Liverpool]. So I must go tomorrow. Barney Morgan is picking me up at 4 pm. Yesterday I had a packet from Betty Sinclair containing copy and comments. I thought it indiscreet stuff. And what was worse she had sent it in an envelope labelled “Hungarian Embassy” (which she had not crossed out) before re-using it. There was a slit in the cello tape. It had been opened in the mail without the slightest attempt to conceal the fact. I wrote to her asking her first not to use such envelopes and to send everything to London. Now today she sent it in an envelope addressed to myself, with a letter inside. It was opened and she had written on it, “opened but not by me.” She explained that it was lying on a sideboard when some people came to see her. One of them must have noticed it and decided to discover the contents. Very interesting.
August 20 Wednesday: This was one of those rare days when everything went well. I went to the Picton and found both of Larkin’s parents in the census of 1871. Then I called to The Mitre and was told I could have the room for a social on September 21st. In the afternoon Barney Morgan called with a Land Rover to take me to his place and get his car. Just below the Cathedral there was a dreadful moment when the engine stopped. But it started again. Then from his place we went to Salford and Haslingden. Old Jim Garnett, now aged 87, was at the Irish Social Democratic League Club with his wife, and also young Sproole was there. I spoke to the Labour Party on the Irish question, after which we stayed drinking till the bar closed at 11.30. Then Barney brought me back by a motorway he discovered.
August 21 Thursday: The birth certificates arrived today. The Larkin thing is completely tied up and I finished and polished the article and laid it out in the form of a middle-page spread. Noel Gordon rang saying that the “Labour Monthly” wants an article from me. I was quite pleased. Perhaps our stand is becoming recognised. If so it is not before time.
August 22 Friday (London): I went to London and was out in Kilburn with Noel Gordon.
August 23 Saturday: I was in the office and quite early Daltún O Ceallaigh arrived. Then came Cathal and Helga on the way to Italy. They are going to stay with Nicoletta [ie. Francisco and Nicoletta de Giacomi, Italian friends in Ivrea, North Italy]. I was out with Gerry Curran in the evening [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat”].
August 24 Sunday: The Summer School started [ie. an annual weekend cultural event organised by the Connolly Association]. There were about 40 present. Tony Coughlan appeared, having stayed with Cal O’Herlihy. Raymond Crotty also came and disputed Daltún O Ceallaigh’s highly national line. I think he is a very confused man and I have grave doubts about his agricultural theories. How can he be clear on agricultural policy when he is muddled on national policy? He is a very decent man, however, and brought his wife and two children to see Tony, but he had taken himself off with a Finnish mott. This was at the evening social. Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Pat Bond, Stella Bond and Philip Rendle were present together with a few others. We learned via Rendle from Bert Ward (a Sheffield man who is secretary of the CPGB “Irish Committee”) that apart from Ward and Rendle, it now contains a student of the very “Euro” tendency, Marion Banks and Myant. Michael Crowe was there and told us that E.P.Thompson [the historian and peace activist], whose essential dilettantism is revealing itself, held a peace meeting in Newcastle and attacked the Polish leadership, saying the Poles hated the Russians as the Irish hated the English. But the Irish do not hate the English. Some CP Clann na hEireann character moreover blotted his copybook. Noel Gordon is not pleased that Philip Rendle has accepted membership of this committee.
August 25 Monday: We were at it all day and I would say the school was useful. Ward was obviously out of his depth. But he is a pleasant enough fellow – at least gives that impression. At the moment of course he is brain-picking. But if he tries on any hanky-panky later, we will see. Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Jane Tate, Michael Crowe and one or two more had a drink and then dinner at the Cosmoba. Tony Coughlan was away with the mott.
I omitted to record that Jack Mitchell, the lecturer in English Literature in East Berlin, was there. “Are you the bloody fellow who attacked my book in ‘Unity’?” I asked him. He said he was and that he written another attack to be published in English, but in Germany. He is a Scotchman, but with Irish connections. His own book on O’Casey comes out in November. I think he has no greater motive than to engage me in polemics so as to get his book talked about. The Editorial “puff” to his review was nothing less than an advertisement for his book. “I thought you would have written a reply at once,” he said. “I didn’t bother my head about such nonsense,” I answered. Nor will I promise to bother about the next lot. But he had with him a man who was in the “International Marxists”. This fellow wants to join. I think we should refuse, and I told Jane Tate not to bank his subscription.
August 26 Tuesday: I worked on the paper all day. I had expected Tony Coughlan but he did not arrive.
August 27 Wednesday: A letter from Tony Coughlan enclosed Larkin’s death certificate. This revealed that he could have been born on 4/2/1874. Tony said he had come straight back to Dublin but would call later when I was free to make an excursion. This is better. I telephoned the Parish Priest at St Patrick’s. He told me Larkin was baptised on 4/2/1874 but born on 28/1/74. Old Bernard must have registered the baptism as the birth, so the mystery is completely solved. I have made it a middle-page spread.
August 28 Thursday: I booked a coach for the Liverpool excursion for September 28th. I would find it expensive to go to London for the South London Conference on the 20th. I also booked The Mitre for that date. I wrote to Tony Coughlan and Francis Devine,
August 29 Friday: Noel Gordon told me that the photographs for the next issue are ruined. A nuisance. I spoke to John Gibson, who thought I could easily get 20 for the coach tour but hard work would be needed for the other 25. I spoke to Harland of the Wirral Trades Council whose conference is on the same day as the London one. He was at great pains to emphasise that the only official speakers were Barry Williams, Colin Barett and Frank Field the MP – three people who know nothing about Ireland. But the contradictions in their “policy” will come into play possibly to our advantage. I will ask Barney Morgan to go, and perhaps Savage. The weather is desperate. Rain all day.
August 30 Saturday: Another shocking day, dull, drizzly, windy and cold. This must be the worst summer ever – bar 1954! It seems rather to knock a hole in the sunspot theory, for 1959 was at a sunspot maximum too, while 1933 was at a minimum. I drafted a reply to those foxes of the ITGWU, saying that I was interested in publication, but not in their having an option without commitment.
August 31 Sunday: A reasonably fine day. I cleared the broad beans from the bed I intend to grow strawberries in next year.
September 1 Monday: A very busy day. I rose at 7.30, caught the 9.20 to Crewe and reached Ripley on time. Indeed I was hoping to be back early. But first, Brian Wilkinson’s handwritten material has made twelve inches less than I had expected. As Noel Gordon told me, my own photographs were ruined since the camera jumped. Plaid Cymru’s picture of Gwynfor Evans [ie. the Plaid Cymru leader at the time] had not arrived. I had a whole afternoon of piecing together and mending etc. I don’t think the result was too bad, but even Brian thought it strenuous. They are three short anyway [ie. in the staff at Ripley Printers]. I caught a late bus, 5.10 pm., waited twenty minutes at Derby for another, and then troubles began. The 6.30 was late at Crewe. But the Liverpool train it should have missed was later still. Between West Allenton and Edge Hill we waited an hour. The overhead electric wires had fallen down in the cutting. Finally, we limped into Lime Street at 10.10! The stationmaster had kept the buffet open but not the bar. But the girls stretched a point and sold me an illegal Guinness! In the lift at Hamilton Square there was a Liverpool man wearing a Scotch hat who entertained the passengers with a mouth organ. He was playing and singing Harry Lauder’s “Keep right on to the end of the road!” I got back just before eleven.
September 2 Tuesday: Today was the finest day of the year. I wrote to Sean Hogan, whom I hope to visit in Manchester next week. Noel Gordon told me that the “Sean O’Casey Review” has published a fierce attack on my book. This is quite possibly the sound and fury I expected a year ago. They got such a trouncing it has taken them a year to recover. He will send it me. I don’t expect anything but the old rubbish. It occurred to me that I might get an excuse to publish my theory of aesthetics – if I’m spared. “Englisch Amerikanische Studien”[A cultural magazine published in Cologne, West Germany] have asked me for an article. I may use it in part for replying to some of those fools. I did a small amount of gardening and made notes for the “Labour Monthly” article. Noel Gordon sent me a “Comment” article by Myant. The same old economist clap-trap. What a disgraceful young fellow that is. I wonder if I might use the “Labour Monthly” to make a proper reply. The hypocritical little get refuses to publish Connolly Association statements in the “Morning Star”, while deploring the dreadful censorship in Russia! The “Labour Monthly” still retains some of the tradition of R.Palme Dutt. This might be the time to revive it.
September 3 Wednesday: The West German “Englisch-Amerikanische Studien” asked me for an article on Sawtell’s prompting, but then forgot about it. Now they want it again and it struck me that here was an opportunity to demolish that fool Lowery. Noel Gordon sent his review. Apparently he doesn’t know what “vital documents” are – like the police at Holyhead! As for O’Casey’s statement that it was a cold day when his father was buried, he says that’s a metaphor! One supposes the thin clothes referred to are also a metaphor, but what for? I never saw such feeble balderdash. Of course Lowery himself is no more worth replying to – indeed less – than Jack Mitchell. Buat this camouflaging of imperialism by socialism is what needs to be opposed.
September 4 Thursday: I sent off the article to “Labour Monthly”.
September 5 Friday: Haringey Trades Council have asked me to open a conference on Ireland which they are holding. I told them I would do it. Also the Warwick University Irish Society have written again. I suppose I’ll go!
September 6 Saturday: The weather was tolerable enough, but it is not a good year at all. The tomatoes have scarcely set. The Physalis has not flowered. But hardy vegetables have done very well. I am better off than ever before for marrows, cabbage, turnips, swedes and summer cauliflowers. Indeed on the marrow front there is embarras de richesse, and I gave Jean Hack a huge one this evening. Jane Tate says the Connolly Association finances are very badly depleted.
September 7 Sunday: Another tolerable day. Indeed I nearly went into Wales, but settled for an afternoon in the garden. Chris Robinson from Bacup rang up. He is trying to get a Labour Committee on Ireland started in Manchester. I said I would see him tomorrow. Hogan has to go into hospital for a “minor operation” (I hope it is minor) and needs to take his invalid wife to another hospital. But he may meet us. I harvested over a pound of small quinces from the ornamental bush. I never had more than half a dozen before.
September 8 Monday: I went to Manchester. I arrived at Lime Street at 12.30 pm. with half an hour to spare. My appointment was at 2.30 outside the Free Trade Hall. But once again the overhead cables had fallen down. The train to Piccadilly on Platform One showed no sign of moving, so I went for the 1.5 Leeds train I had come for. It finally pulled out at 1.30 and reached Victoria at 2.15. I walked briskly to the Free Trade Hall and there waiting for me were Sean Hogan – looking very frail and going into hospital tomorrow – Chris Robinson and a man in the Labour Committee on Ireland from Stockport. It is he who is arranging the “fringe” meeting at the Labour Conference at Blackpool. They are also trying to start up the LCI in Manchester. I think the Connolly Association’s best contribution will be in the field of education.
When Hogan had left to go home I went to see the “Grass roots” bookshop with Chris Robinson. He told me he was at College in Sheffield – BA in politics!, a bad sign – then went into management and made visits to Larne. He got to dislike management and decided to apply for the job of NALGO secretary in Preston. He comes from Thurrock and knew or remembers Delargy [ie. the former Labour MP for that constituency, Hugh Delargy, who had interested himself in the Irish question following World War 2]. He got a house in Bacup where his wife is a teacher, but now works at the district office in Manchester. He first became interested in the Irish question when he read my life of Connolly.
I then called to see Jimmy McGill. He told me the advanced language class [ie.in Irish] has stopped since Professor Evans went to Aberystwyth. He sees Lena Daly and Maguire (son of the MP) They have more than once intended to get over to Liverpool. He said that Joe Moran, one of Joe Deighan’s Republican critics, now says, “Joe Deighan was right. We should have got closer to the Labour movement.” Now apparently Moran is more or less immobilised by a sick wife.
I then went to see Lena Daly. Young Michael was there. He is at Sunderland Polytechnic but hardly ever sees Michael Crowe. He seems to be doing very well. He’d be about 20 years of age. Lena Daly says they will try to come to Liverpool for the coach trip. Michael [ie.her son]is working in Reading. She had told me before about this young fellow, called apparently Moon, who writes for the “Irish Post”. He was 30 years old but wherever he went his mother insisted on going with him. He was not allowed to drink or to smoke. Now he has run away and got married, and since he was a partner in his father’s business has cashed cheques to the tune of £1,600 for high living! Now that the Liverpool group seems to be paying its way. I must have a look in to Manchester. I returned to Liverpool on the 8.30 from Oxford Road.
September 9 Tuesday: I wrote letters to Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston, Pat Bond and a few others. Noel Gordon told me of steps decided on to raise money. He did not seem unduly worried. But in the evening Pat Bond rang up in a very distressed state, saying we need £1,000 and he had only raised £100. He said Jane had presented a shocking picture. In part the trouble is the holiday period, in part the loss on the paper, and also economic depression. He thought we could no longer afford to keep Noel Gordon, but I said hold on a bit.
September 10 Wednesday: The weather was savage today – rain and gales and damned cold. Barney Morgan came in after lunch. He had stayed with Eamonn MacThomáis [A Provisional supporter, well-known for the tours he organised of Glasnevin Cemetery and other historical sites] while in Dublin but had seen nobody else except a man called Connaty whom he knew in the USA and now lives in Co. Cavan. We discussed the plans for the Liverpool outing.
September 11 Thursday: The cloudy wild wet weather continues. It is appalling for the time of year. I have hardly any tomatoes and the Physalis has buds for weeks that will just not open. And there is no sign of its taking up.
September 12 Friday: Noel Gordon rang me in the morning to say Jack Woddis is dead. I knew him since about 1939 when he used the pen-name Bill Keats, I don’t know why. I always got on with him reasonably well, especially in the war period. Later he went to the London District office [ie. of the CPGB], that would turn anybody into a hack. I always knew – since he went full-time anyway – that he lacked political courage. When R.Palme Dutt backed me up in the fight with Durkin and those fools [ie. the leftist CP element that was unsympathetic to the notion of the Connolly Association as a broad movement in the Irish community], he was absolutely neutral. I held against him his cavalier treatment of Dutt when he replaced him as chairman of the International Committee. And I have not been in to see him since he brushed aside my complaint about Irene Brennan and the London District Committee with, “Oh – They’re inexperienced.” Still, he was the best of a bad bunch. Later Noel Gordon told me that the Trotsky of the Socialist Workers Party told him that Myant was coming along to the next meeting of the “Committee for Withdrawal”. They have as their slogans, “Withdraw and Unite Ireland”, and “No to Tory Policy”. Now Myant goes to this but he will not publish our press statement on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I think he is anxious that the Connolly Association should receive no publicity so that he can liquidate Clann na hEireann and start a bogus organisation under SFWP political influence but drawing no legitimate objection from the CPI. He would like to smash the Connolly Association. The Trotskies are greatly impressed and want a successful meeting so as to impress him. Why should they think him so great a man? Or is it that they will by implication impress him with their strength. Bad as it was, Woddis was some kind of stabilising influence. Ironically, I had intended to go to the next International Affairs Committee meeting on Friday. I would think it would be put off. Another interesting thing. Alan Bush sent us £100. Perhaps Pat Bond was at him. But I think the “Irish Democrat’s” more challenging line may have influenced him. Indeed if there is any genuineness in Myant at all, it may have done the same in that quarter.
I had a letter from Alan Morton who is busy on the epilogue of his book and says that owing to old age (that is what he puts it down to) he can’t get into the mood. Well, I’ve had that all my life. I love doing research, I hate writing the results! He has received my poems. My plan is to finish 50. I have 47 done. I want to include one to satirize the leaders of the ITGWU. They are certainly fair game. But I may not bother.
September 13 Saturday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan and I drove round Liverpool and planned our coach tour for the 28th.
September 14 Sunday: The weather is still damp and wild. I have some tomatoes, but the Physalis will not flower. The buds are there but they don’t open.
September 14 Monday: A letter came from Denis Larkin expressing interest in the article in the “Irish Democrat”. I know what will happen. It will be generally ignored. Then the academic excreta will quote Larkin’s birth as if they knew it all their lives! Barney Morgan came in for a minute or two.
September 16 Tuesday: I took the 10.5 to Euston, had lunch with Noel Gordon and then went to Golders Green [ie. for the funeral of Jack Woddis]. I had a quick word with Gordon McLennan [CPGB General Secretary] – he has now not the slightest desire for a discussion. I saw Kay Beauchamp, Tony Gilbert, Ivor Montague, showing his age, Andrew Rothstein, the Jefferys, Stan Newens, Fenner Brockway – able to make a speech at 91 – and Tony McNally, now Midlands District Secretary. He said it was time we had a school or something in Birmingham. I saw Noel Gordon again and returned on the 6.30.
September 17 Wednesday: I did the revising of the article for “Englisch -Amerikanische Studien” on O’Casey. It is not terribly good. I hope it passes muster. Noel Gordon told me that the SFWP paper has announced that that horrible little toad Dominic Behan is to review my Workers’ Music Association songbook. I asked what possessed the WMA to send it to them. Apparently it was Noel Gordon’s nonsense. Arno Gilman wanted to know what papers to send it to. She was too lazy to write to me, so asked him. Of course all they want is an excuse to make a personal attack. I understand that Behan is giving a lecture on O’Casey at the Birmingham Jamboree of the Clann na hEireann. In the end it will rebound on their own heads.
September 18 Thursday: I worked on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s stuff has not arrived. I spoke to him on the phone. He posted it on Saturday. He has Professor Schultze staying with him [ie. Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, Professor of English at the University of Halle, East Germany, who organised the series of biennial conferences there on “Ireland: Culture and Society” and whom the TCD English Department had extended an invitation to to visit Ireland at Anthony Coughlan’s behest]. Noel Gordon told me Myant did not turn up on Tuesday, possibly because of Woddis. In the afternoon Barney Morgan came in. He is doing quite a lot of useful work. I spoke to Daphne Greaves in Bournemouth. She says DzG has had two operations for the broken hip and is in plaster, now in a third nursing home, but is somewhat better. She must have tremendous stamina.
September 19 Friday (London): I went back to London and was out with Chris Sullivan in the evening. There was nothing of moment.
September 20 Saturday: I went to an “Irish Forum” in South Bank Polytechnic and opened it. Joe Bowers [Belfast CP activist] was there, and we skipped the second session in order to have a drink and a talk. I had a very favourable impression of him, more favourable than of any in the North with the exception of Betty Sinclair. He told me that the reason the CPGB allows dual membership with Clann na hEireann is that they also do it with AKEL [ie. the Cypriot left-wing party]. But the Italians are all members of the CP of Italy. He continued the old theme of trying to get the CPGB to “do something”. I again made the suggestion of a general theoretical discussion. At a later session of the forum Marion Banks appeared. But she did not speak. She is a quiet self-possessed little madam, no doubt capable of unlimited duplicity. I was with Steve Huggett in the evening.
September 21 Sunday: I did some work on the paper and was out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran in the evening. I forgot to note yesterday that Bowers has been plotting with Ken Gill to put Sibley (West Middlesex) into the job vacated by Jack Woddis [ie. full-time CP official dealing with international issues and chairman of the International Affairs Committee].
September 22 Monday: I went to Bournemouth to see DzB. She was noticeably better, had recovered her speech completely, but nevertheless shows senility by repeating things. Her solicitor brother-in-law wants to sell her house, allegedly to get a tenant he doesn’t like out. But I suspect some financial skulduggery. I returned to London in time for the Standing Committee. Pat Bond is very worried indeed about the finances. But I think we can ride out the storm.
September 23 Tuesday (Liverpool): I worked on the paper. I thought of something else Bowers had told me. It had occurred to him that if the CPGB were not more co-operative, the CPI could start its own support group here. I told him he must do no such thing. He said he had only thought of it. To Liverpool.
September 24 Wednesday: I went on with the paper. A Physalis has produced a flower but it seems in no hurry to set fruit. Barney Morgan came in and we discussed future plans.
September 25 Thursday: I went into the city and saw Doswell, Secretary of the Trades Council. I think he will help with the Betty Sinclair thing [ie. the making of a presentation to Betty Sinclair following her retirement as full-time secretary of the Belfast Trades Council]. I then booked the Bradford Hotel for the event. Noel Gordon told me that Myant’s committee is to meet and discuss the “Withdrawal” demonstration and the Labour Committee on Ireland. My comment – the impertinence of these people!
September 26 Friday: There was a telephone call from Tony Coughlan late at night. He has Professor Schultze staying with him and I had a word with her on the line. He is coming tomorrow.
September 27 Saturday: I am 67 today. Of course I can’t believe it. But there it is. In the morning Noel Gordon rang up. He had taken a bookstall to Acton Town Hall. Gordon McLennan and Joe Bowers were speaking. A number of young lads no older than 15 came in and Noel felt suspicious. When Bowers was speaking and made a reference to the prisoners in Long Kesh, one of them stood up and shouted, “Shoot them!” Within seconds chairs were flying across the room and there was blood everywhere. The splendid glass panelling was smashed to atoms. The police arrived when it was all over and nobody was arrested. This was the National Front. Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue were there. Toni said Bowers spoke well. And incidentally she sent me a card this morning
This morning Barney Morgan and I repeated our tour ready for tomorrow. He told me that he had twice put up a poster on the door of Berry Street Bookshop and twice it had been removed. “It wasn’t deliberate,” said Cope. Now Barney thinks he is under Clann na hEireann influence and we thought, “qui s’excuse s’accuse.” We called in at Shaw Street and found there a reasonably friendly atmosphere [presumably this was a Republican centre or bookshop], so we do not think it comes from there.
At 6 pm. Helen McMurray rang up to say that Tony Coughlan will be delayed. That absurd “jet-foil” he is travelling on was held up two hours by bad weather, and then its rudder fell off. Then at about 10 pm. he arrived. He has had Dorothea Sigemund-Schultze with him for a fortnight. She had read my book on O’Casey and said she thought the most important part of it is the part nobody has remarked on, the theory of aesthetics. I showed him Lowery’s woeful drivel [Lowery was editor of the “Sean O’Casey Review” in the USA].
September 28 Sunday: We met Noel Gordon at Lime Street and went on a coach tour of the Irish historical remains in the city. There were 30 people in it, and afterwards there was quite a reasonable social evening in The Mitre. We broke even financially. John Gibson was there.
September 29 Monday: Tony Coughlan returned to Dublin but went first to have lunch with Jerry Dawson. I had spoken to him about George Gilmore’s play [ie. a play, “The Gold Flag”, by Republican veteran George Gilmore, which had never been performed and which Greaves hoped Dawson might help get performed, but the approach failed]. Then I went to Ripley where, unlike last month, everything went smoothly. I was met at Lime Street by Noel Gordon who had been in town all day, doing what I am not sure. Late at night Tony Coughlan telephoned to say that Jerry Dawson lived in a huge house containing 23,000 books, but did not specialise.
September 30 Tuesday: I was at home most of the day. I am hoping to get away to Tregaron at the weekend, but there is a mass of work to be got through, more than I like to contemplate. In the evening I took Noel Gordon to the Philharmonic. There is seldom a programme that attracts me, but this time it was Haydn (Symphony 33 in Bb), Mozart’s No. 40 and Beethoven’s triple concerto in C. I have never been able to come to grips with this and am inclined to think that it probably has to be classified as “weak Beethoven”. There is sound and fury, but the tension is not resolved; it ceases and just as there seems no reason why it is there and the soloists must bow so savagely, there seems no reason why it should depart.
October 1 Wednesday: Noel Gordon stayed here most of the day and somewhat hindered my preparations. He spoke at the Connolly Association meeting at the AUEW. I did not go as I am officially “on holiday”. He rang late and told me only two of our people attended and six members of the Troops Out Movement. But Barney Morgan made a poor chairman – I had warned him of this. We had the same trouble with Joe Deighan who would inject facetious remarks at the most inconvenient time. I always thought it was jealousy of anybody on whom the limelight happened to be falling at time. He was very provoking. Professor Brown sent me two books from Seattle.
October 2 Thursday: Noel Gordon stayed with Barney Morgan tonight, after going to Blackpool where Tony Benn came out in favour of withdrawal from Ireland.
October 3 Friday: About midday Barney Morgan brought Noel Gordon and Daltún O Ceallaigh, who had spoken at the meeting in Blackpool. Michael Mullen had been invited. Tony Coughlan was afraid he would send Geraghty or somebody of that kidney and wrote to him urging him to go himself. He did not. Daltún O Ceallaigh says that he has discredited himself. The “Left” in the union no longer trust him. Noel Gordon returned to London. I spoke on the telephone to Jane Tate. She is not much in London now as her sister-in-law in Kent is suffering from cancer. She goes down to help the brother.
October 4 Saturday: A letter posted to me by Jane Tate on Thursday has not yet arrived. I asked Noel Gordon what happened at Myant’s meeting, but he had not seen Philip Rendle. They would have their discussion before Benn spoke [ie. in support of Irish reunification]. The weather was fine but it is getting cooler, no longer in the sixties except briefly in the afternoon. Statistics are said to indicate that there is unlikely to be a normal winter after a summer like this. Events seem for the present to point to a cold one.
October 5 Sunday: I had thought of going away today, but as so often seems to happen, I didn’t do so. If the weather had been a little warmer perhaps I might.
October 6 Monday: Another day spent largely hanging about.
October 7 Tuesday (Blaencaron): I went at last, took the train to Aberystwyth, and though delayed by the falling of a tree across the line near Oswestry (in the weekend gales) I arrived at about 3 pm. The wind was very high and from the west. I had a very hard ride to Tregaron. Owing to the inclemency of the weather I was wearing old jeans, but the furious gusts were driving them into the chain wheel, so I sliced them off at the knee! Also I could not say I was in the pink of condition. However I reached Blaencaron. There were two cyclists from Norwich there.
October 8 Wednesday: I went into Tregaron for food. The first arrival was an Englishman, a walker settled in Pembroke, but though empty in the usual middle class way, he was not too bad on the Welsh language. Two young people arrived, a boy about 27 and a girl of about 23. He was an intense nervous person, a cockney from Croydon, living in York City. He had been a teacher of physical training, played football twice a week, and was now a “youth leader”. She had studied music at Hartfield Polytechnic for three years but had decided she had no talent and was trying to work up a business using local farmers’ wool and “natural dyes”. He also had spent three years studying engineering. They were looking for a place where they could set up house and business. At first I thought this was the old thing, the English having had their own country ruined on them by the greed of their ruling class, want to take over somebody else’s and ruin that. But they were good on the language and said that if they settled here they would bring up their children as Welsh. So I stopped discouraging them. Indeed they improved on acquaintance and the boy reminded me of Arthur Sear, when he was young in Wimbledon.
There were changes in Tregaron. A cycle shop has been opened by a local man where the Englishman had a hardware store. The newspaper shop is vastly extended. The main clothes shop has gone stylish à la mode (for tourists). The prices at the “Spar” shop are more astronomical than ever and upper-class English voices are heard mingling with the Welsh.
October 9 Thursday: Two Germans came from Tyncornel. They had been to Dublin and played Irish airs like dirges on a recorder. I had fuller occasion to observe the young cockneys and gained a very favourable impression of them. They read in a local paper of a decision to restrict an air raid shelter to 120 people. “Disgusting!” said the boy. It turned out they had recently joined CND and were keen “ecologists” and opposed to nuclear energy. They are going to the London demonstration.
October 10 Friday: The young Cockneys remained, though the Germans left. Later a young Englishman aged about 18 came, very well groomed and being “trained” for management in a carpet factory. He was asked by the Cockneys why he had nearly run over them. “I didn’t think there’d be anybody walking along that narrow lane.” He supported Mrs Thatcher, so we all tried to educate him, but gave up when he descanted on the “Russian threat”. He was quite sure he had a system by which he could make money by betting. The young people are readers of the “New Statesman”, the boy called Goodwin, the girl Gibson.
October 11 Saturday: The youngsters left for Dolgoch. I may see them at Tyncornel on Wednesday. Two Australians came. I have a touch of arthritis.
October 12 Sunday: The Australians remained. I did little.
October 13 Monday: I did very little. Nobody came at night.
October 14 Tuesday: So far the weather has been wretched. Today there was a fierce roaring East-Northeast wind and a temperature of about 48’F.
October 15 Wednesday (Tyncornel): Despite last night’s wild sky today was dry and bright. I went to Tyncornel. But the young people had gone. I suspect I know why. They hate television and “technology” and Goodwin does not even drive a car. At Tyncornel two radio amateurs installed themselves, had a window open to let in a cable, and though I protested and secured some restraint, they were busy transmitting and receiving trivial messages late at night and early in the morning. They had thousands of pounds worth of equipment and vast hampers of provisions in two cars. Periodically a gong would sound and then they would switch something on and say, “W D X Y 272948 – broadcasting on frequency ABC,” and a lot more rigmarole. They have to pass an examination and indicate their willingness to help the police at all times. They were stupid arrogant fools.
A man came whom I thought was a zombie. He was dressed in overalls but had cycled from Birmingham. He simply sat and smoked a pipe.
October 16 Thursday (Dolgoch): I was so annoyed by the radio man who started operations at 7 am. that I decided not to stay, although it was pouring rain. I put some strong comments in the visitors’ book. The man who looked like a zombie wasn’t one at all. When the radio men had gone driving around separately but talking to each other by radio, I got him talking. He had run a pig farm with 30 sows but was driven out of business when barley reached £40 a ton. He had worked on a farm, milking 130 cows in one shift, and often being landed with 70 heifers in addition. On a market gardening job he spent months picking Brussel sprouts by hand. He said the cabbage at the top is cut off and three crops of sprouts are cut. The seed is hybrid and cannot be saved. The Dutch have a monopoly and charge £400 a kilo. I had a fierce journey. There was an icy North wind. The ground was wet and treacherous. I was glad of the coat which I was doubtful about bringing and reached Dolgoch thoroughly exhausted. In swinging the bicycle over the rocks I executed a movement I was surprised I could make and blamed myself for trying! De Roe was in good form.
October 17 Friday: I was stiff. It poured rain, but I went to the post-box on the bridge to post a letter. Either I have strained a muscle or two or there is an attack of arthritis. I just sat about. The weather was like that of January.
October 18 Saturday: I was even stiffer and was a bit alarmed. But things improved as the day went on. I took some soluble aspirin – the third time this year. I noticed the effect of constant propaganda on a decent weak person like De Roe. He spoke of the EEC selling cheap butter to “our enemies”. I asked what quarrel had the ordinary man against the Russians? De Roe told me that the Northampton lad still comes. He earns £6,000 and his girl £7,000. But “it goes.” Recently they paid £30 for a badly cooked meal. A young man of about 22, an engineer from Farnham, came yesterday but did not return as expected today. De Roe told me of an awkward customer he calls “the colonel” who always tries to make a fool of him. He of course is not highly armed. His speciality is telling De Roe what he should have done. We saw a magnificent fox through the window.
October 19 Sunday: The young man from Farnham returned. He had been at Bryn Poeth Uchaf and told us that Goodwin had put a note in the visitors’ book there warning everybody about the radio men at Tycornel. So that was indeed why they left. We went looking for mushrooms but there were none. The “colonel” came.
October 20 Monday (Blaencaron): It rained early on, but I left for Blaencaron. The “colonel” had been tantalizing De Roe, but he didn’t dare to tackle me, though De Roe rather hoped he would. He told De Roe how he would have managed the radio men. “I’d have put them out!” he said. He left early to return to Cardiff. He is opposed to drugs and doctors and tells De Roe that he has rheumatism because he eats meat. There were two wee (English) schoolgirls from Blaenau Ffestiniog.
October 21 Tuesday: I went into Tregaron for food. Nobody came.
October 22 Wednesday: It rained all day – indeed from last evening. Nobody came, and I don’t blame them. I do not think I ever had such appallingly bad weather for a holiday. Thanks to the rain however it did become a trifle warmer.
October 23 Thursday: It was dry but cloudy. I was able however to go for a walk on the lower slope of the mountain. Nobody came.
October 24 Friday: I went out again for the afternoon. The weather is very unsettled. The wee girls who had been at Dolgoch came back.
October 25 Saturday: The girls remained and some Birminghams arrived.
October 26 Sunday: The girls left. A woman called “to see if there was anybody there.” She was caretaker of the house opposite “where nobody wants to live.” She goes at weekends. Her husband makes clogs in Tregaron, but she struck me as possibly Lancashire. Nobody came.
October 27 Monday: I had intended to leave, but what a day. In all I think it rained for over thirty hours. Some people from Leeds came – by train?
October 28 Tuesday: I got up at 7 am. and was down in Tregaron by 9 am. But three miles out – a puncture. I returned to Tregaron, bought a new tube and persuaded the cycle shop man to put it on for me. I had wanted the 11.45 train at Aberystwyth but caught the 2 pm. with ten minutes to spare. Between Salop and Chester a young man started talking. He was a Londoner but had worked in Liverpool for ten years and regards it as his hometown. He cannot define the attraction. He works at Shrewsbury, cycles into Wrexham each morning from Llong and from Shrewsbury to his work. I would say he was about 30 years of age. He told me that in 1934 when the decision was taken not to recover the bodies of the men who died at Gresford, the pit working gear was “consecrated” and promised as a permanent memorial to the victims. The relations accepted this. But a few months ago the County Council announced that the pit head would be demolished to make way for a new road. No local contractor would do the job. The Council brought a contractor from Northumberland. The local people explained to him why they would not do the job and he went back to Northumberland. The Council then beat a strategic retreat. He said that every family in the area lost some relatives in the disaster. He does not think the Council will get their way. I reached 124 Mount Road by about 6.30 and found all well. Barney Morgan rang in the evening.
October 29 Wednesday: I had a word with Noel Gordon on the phone. There were letters from Tony Coughlan, Tom Redmond and others. I ordered anthracite and recordings of Haydn Masses.
October 30 Thursday: I gathered the green tomatoes – a poor crop, badly damaged by the weather – cut the last two courgettes and wrote a few letters. The Physalis have no fruits but the leaves are healthy. The tomatoes and marrows look as if they had been frost-bitten. But the Tropaeolums – which I usually regard as the test– are in perfect condition, and poppies and antirrhinums could not look better. The parsnips can be lifted, there are turnips left and big swedes, and there should be potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, white radishes, plentiful chervil and healthy-looking celery. I think the great deficiency of this past year has been low temperature and above all lack of sunshine.
October 31 Friday: I wrote to Malcolm Brown, paid the rates (£135), insurance (£35) and left myself with only about £200 and no prospect of income at once. Fisher is pressing the Department of Health for the pension we applied for in April. They have the bureaucrats’ characteristic ploy – the failure to answer letters. And every day they delay saves them money. I have apart from that the possibility of a few bob for an article sent to West Germany. I also wrote to Tony Coughlan and Tom Redmond, who wants an article. According to Noel Gordon the Betty Sinclair party in London looks promising [ie. a meeting and celebration in London to honour Betty Sinclair on her retirement as secretary of Belfast Trades Council]. Ken Gill and George Smith are both interested. Noel says that SFWP have not been advertising in “Marxism Today” etc. for the past few months, and neither have Clann na hEireann – but I thought I saw an advert for their cultural jamboree in Birmingham. Myant has come out in favour of political status for the Long Kesh prisoners. But the boycott of Connolly Association press statements continues [ie. by the “Morning Star” communist daily, of which Myant was assistant editor]. I said I thought it was time we tried to break this and Noel Gordon agreed. There is, he says, a fierce shortage of sellers of the paper. We hope the conference will stimulate things.
November 1 Saturday: It was dry and cold with an unpleasant South- East wind and I am wondering whether the bad winter is about to begin. I spoke with Noel Gordon and told him Doswell of the Trades Council will send out 200 copies of our advert for Betty Sinclair – I hope he does! He told me that Donal Kennedy has lost his job – so it spreads to London. But he now fancies himself as a writer, while acknowledging that I told him how to do it, and has got a three-month trial on the “Irish Post” following a dinner with MacLua! [Breandan MacLua was editor of this weekly paper for the Irish community in Britain]. Noel Gordon thinks he will remain with us. Apparently MacLua was complimentary in his references to the Connolly Association.
November 2 Sunday: I went through Shelley’s poems looking for references to Ireland. I found only one, but an important one.
November 3 Monday: There has been a sharp change in the weather. There was a frost this morning which wiped out Tropaeolum, Physalis, and what was left of the marrows, but spared poppies, Tetragonolobus, broad beans and other things. I gathered the broad beans and remaining marrows as the frost had damaged these last too.
November 4 Tuesday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan called in. He is a great one for going to things and meeting people but is somewhat disorganised and lacks method. Noel Gordon has been trying to tie up accommodation with him. I had no more result myself. It did not freeze today. I had a look at the ITGWU history.
November 5 Wednesday: I called into Jack Kay [ie.the new Liverpool CP secretary]. He is definitely better than Roger O’Hara but I am told that one had his domestic troubles. I am trying to arrange the Betty Sinclair party.
November 6 Thursday: I spoke several times to Noel Gordon. He tells me Gordon McLennan is going on a picket of Downing Street regarding the “Provisional” hunger strikers[ie. the Republicans in Long Kesh Prison who were then on hunger-strike seeking political prisoner status – ten of whom eventually starved to death]. Noel thinks that Clann na hEireann are losing their influence in CP circles. If so, it is not before time. I said I thought the time might be coming when we could challenge Myant’s boycott. He is hopeful of the London Betty Sinclair party.
November 7 Friday: I got very little done today. I had a word with Barney Morgan on the telephone and he will call in on Tuesday.
November 8 Saturday: Noel Gordon told me that a man in Birmingham (an NCP), O’Connell[ie. belonging to the New Communist Party, the breakaway from the CPGB that had been instituted by Sid French in 1977], called in to the office and is quite young. Brian Crowley was there and O’Connell spoke a trifle derogatorly of the CPGB. “How long were you in the CP?” asked Noel Gordon. “I wasn’t in it at all,” he said, “I was in the Labour Party – though that’s much the same thing.” This naturally displeased Brian Crowley. Noel Gordon thought it was interesting that Labour Party people were joining the NCP. He is seemingly very interested in the Irish question and Noel asked why he joined the Connolly Association. He said he thought it was nearest to NCP policy. So what do we make of that? He will come to Liverpool.
November 9 Sunday: I did a little on Larkin and on the review of Ransom’s book. Noel Gordon telephoned. He went to Downing Street, but instead of the Irish demonstration there was a march of a thousand fascists. The Connolly Association banner was not open but a policeman told Noel that it was offensive and threatened to arrest him. Chris Sullivan was there. The weather was milder – indeed there has only been the one frost, last Monday – but still chilly enough.
November 10 Monday: I went to Manchester in the morning and found Jimmy McGill. They are trying to get a minibus to come to Liverpool on the 29th. Then I went to 28 Hathersage Road [ie. the Manchester CPGB District Office] and met the new (or fairly new) secretary Peter Coughlin, son of Tom Coughlin, and a young fellow Salverson who runs the city. They were friendly and helpful but advised me to see Arnison. They seem well disposed to the “Provisionals” and there was no trace of Clann na hEireann. Of course I recall that Lenny Draper had trouble when they were recruiting “Provisional” characters and this was one of the bones of contention. Arnison’s “in laws” in Belfast are that way inclined. It may be for this reason that Coughlin told me – indeed read the minutes to prove it – that at their meeting they had passed a resolution welcoming Bert Ward’s “Irish Advisory Committee” but reserving policy decisions to their own “International Committee”. Lancashire is going to do its own thinking! Coughlin told me that he is faced with the danger of reducing staff. I rang Frances Deane [an official of Manchester Trades Council] but she was not interested.
November 11 Tuesday: I rang Arnison. He was most cordial and arranged to have lunch with me on Thursday. I rang Noel Gordon and told him I would go to London tomorrow. Another thing happened. I received notification that I am entitled to a state pension of £25 a week, rising to £30 next week, and seven months arrears. This will make a difference.
November 12 Wednesday: I went to London for the day and had a discussion with Noel Gordon. Jane Tate and Stella Bond were also in the office.
November 13 Thursday: I went to Manchester and had a drink with Jim Arnison at the Press Club. He told me that the Chief Constable, an extreme Conservative given to making constant reactionary statements, champs with rage when he thinks of this club serving drinks in the middle of the night. He had a list of telephone numbers ready for me. He told me that his relations in Belfast introduced him to the “Provisional” leadership about two years ago. They were young boys of 18 and 19. Their aim was to ensure that the British talked to them. He says that the more experienced leaders were at that time in jail. The situation is ridiculous. I think he is something of a “hard liner”[ie. in relation to the internal CPGB disputes of the time].
November 14 Friday: I spoke to Noel Gordon on the phone. But he was “under the weather” from having spent last night boozing with Steve Huggett. He told me that Philip Rendle met Irene Brennan on the tube. “I’m not concerned with Irish work at all these days,” she told him. Can one envisage a more empty careerist! If she cared the toss of a button for Ireland she would carry on making a contribution even when she was told that she was non persona grata in a leading capacity. Not of course that I’m sorry to see the back of her. I’d like to see the back of Myant as well. But he’s cleverer.
November 15 Saturday: The cold weather has gone, so perhaps there will be a mild winter. Noel Gordon told me it was raining out of the heavens in London.
November 16 Sunday: Pat Bond rang and I asked him about the demonstration yesterday. There was a degree of disunity. An MP spoke against Partition. He was challenged with “What about the H-Blocks?” Margaret D’Arcy was her usual self-advertising Trotskyist self. Poor Nora Connolly O’Brien was showing her years and was mainly sentimental. And Myant was received with boos and constantly interrupted. The “Provisionals” and Trotskies were at one on this. Seemingly, like the conceited fool he is, he had in an article in the “Morning Star” called on the “Provisionals” to declare a ceasefire, just at the time their men went on hunger strike! He forgot that the English movement can make demands only on the British Government. I wonder if it will be a lesson to him.
November 17 Monday: I decided on another quick trip to London, travelling by the 2.5 pm. and returning by the 7.30. I heard more about Saturday [ie. a demonstration organised by the “Committee for Withdrawal”]. Apparently Myant could hardly make himself heard over shouts of “traitor,” mainly from lunatic elements mostly English. I asked how he came to be speaking. Noel Gordon said that the committee was not consulted. It was done at the last minute. Myant had promised to get them a top trade unionist. Of course he could not. Noel presumes he then offered to speak himself. He had only attended one meeting of the committee. But there was more to illustrate the contemptible opportunism of these people. Both Pat Bond and Philip Rendle received telephone calls asking if they would carry the Executive banner [ie. the CPGB Executive]. Naturally they declined – for apart from anything else this was Friday night. One solitary CP man turned up – Bert Ward on Myant’s “Irish Committee”. The banner was not of the Executive but the London District banner. My guess is that Myant told them it was the EC banner in hope of inducing them to attend. There was nobody to carry it and it was not carried. But the Connolly Association one was. In his report in the “Morning Star” Myant said that the CP took part in the demonstration but did not mention the Connolly Association among the supporting organisations. Helen McMurray said that throughout the proceedings on Saturday he was intermittently glowering at the CA bookstall – even more so after he was heckled. He could not conceal his vicious hatred. Of course the treatment he received was completely unfair. He was no “traitor” since he had never subscribed, but he got into this pickle from trying to ride two horses when he could not even ride one! He wanted to get on the platform of the Withdrawal Movement without committing himself to attending the committee and at the same time pursue the NICRA line of policy. He thus placed himself in a false position and his enemies took advantage of it. As for the unspeakable London crowd, what can be said of them?
November 18 Tuesday: I spoke to Wilf Charles’s secretary on the telephone. She told me that Wilf wants to attend Betty Sinclair’s birthday party. Then in the evening Joe Deighan and Dorothy rang and said they would come. I rang Michael Daly. This is very good news.
[There is no entry for November 19]
November 20 Thursday: I made two fruitless journeys into the city trying to chase up the Trades Council.
November 21 Friday (London): I went to London where there was a Standing Committee, with Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Philip Rendle, Noel Gordon and Pat O’Donohue, but not Helen McMurray. She is a student now and seems to take her studies very seriously. I have a strong feeling it is all nonsense, a lot of useless learning designed to stretch out training as a librarian for three years and make a degree of it. Pat O’Donohue showed me Gerry Curran’s expenses for getting out the paper – £168! He had put in £30 for lost overtime, hotel bills, God knows what. Apparently Pat O’Donohue had suggested to Toni Curran that it was “a bit steep” and he knocked £10 off it. Noel told me that Pat Bond has proposed all kinds of people for the EC, including Bernard O’Connell of the New Communist Party. Of course we were dubious of it, but when Noel Gordon commented on it Pat Bond grew emotional as is his wont. But it crossed my mind that he might balance Philip Rendle, whom Noel Gordon caught giving Myant information about the Connolly Association across the telephone. But I hope we have not sown the seeds of dissension. I was out with Chris Sullivan.
November 22 Saturday: I was in the office all day except for the evening.
November 23 Sunday: I was out with Gerry Curran, who was in the office and came to see Noel Gordon. Gerry is less depressed now he is living with his mott [a lady whom he married in due course], but I think I have unearthed the childish motives behind his expense account. He disclosed that he and the mott have bought an “organ” which will do most things, even bark perhaps, though not bite, and each paid £150 for it. Apparently since she has left her husband she has had a number of male friends. “I’d keep the receipt for your part of it,” I said. Now he cannot play and she “plays by ear!” He wanted to show his importance. He could get out a paper and net £168 for it. Now I have received no salary for several years and my expenses this month amount to £60. I decided that that would not continue and that Gerry Curran would not get out another issue. I will teach Noel Gordon [ie. how to bring out the paper].
November 24 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Bournemouth and saw DzB. She is more lucid, though she still repeats herself – many old people do this of course. She is talking of going home, has physiotherapy twice a week. But I doubt if she will walk again – perhaps very stiffly. I took the 2.55 for Liverpool. It was an hour late – an appalling journey. It is better to go back to London.
November 25 Tuesday: I spent most of the time trying to get music for the social on Saturday. The Labour Party demonstration has overshadowed all else and I am not very hopeful at present. I did a little on the paper.
November 26 Wednesday: Another fruitless attack on the Trades Council. Barney Morgan called in the evening and I went with him to the Irish Centre for an hour.
November 27 Thursday: I spent the whole day on the paper but did not finish it. Noel Gordon was ringing all the time. He is certainly getting on with the job. At first he said Kenneally was coming instead of Kennedy. But now neither of them are. It has turned cold again with hailstones.
November 28 Friday: Gerry Curran’s copy did not arrive so I decided to scrap the book page, but this involved using other material for page 7. Michael Crowe arrived.
November 29 Saturday: In the morning Tony Coughlan arrived and he and Michael Crowe went to Sefton Park. It was midday before I could get ready, so I missed the Park, but saw the immense demonstration passing the Adelphi Hotel. It was the biggest I ever remember, estimated to have been composed of 120,000 people – some say more. In the evening only about 36 people gathered at the Bradford Hotel – and indeed the conference attendance was small – to celebrate Betty Sinclair’s birthday. We presented her with two books, one a gift from the Liverpool Trades Council, and she presented the Connolly Association with a piece of decorated linen and myself with a box of handkerchiefs. But on the whole it was a success. Two very welcome visitors were Joe Deighan and Dorothy, and ten came from Manchester. Michael Crowe, Tony Coughlan and Peter Mulligan came to stay with me.
November 30 Sunday: We continued with the conference and one could say that on the whole it was successful, though the visitors I had hoped for were few in number. Barry Williams had sent a couple of his members but all they could do was to defend Clann na hEireann privately. McEntaggart of the New Communist Party was there and I think was displeased when I criticised their paper for scenting a Catholic plot in support of Duffy of the AUEW [ie. in an Engineering Union election]. Both Betty Sinclair and Tony Coughlan gave talks.
I had a talk with Joe Deighan when it was over and the three car-loads were on the way to London. He, Dorothy and Betty Sinclair were made honorary life members [ie. of the Connolly Association]. The last to be given this distinction was Father Michael O’Flanagan [ie. the priest who said the prayers at the opening of the First Dáil Eireann]. Joe Deighan told the conference that Stormont was doomed when the Connolly Association decided to go for civil rights, but that many of them in Belfast wished the credit to themselves. He told me afterwards that the British and Irish parties speak different languages on almost every international question. Bowers had replaced him on the EC [ie. of the Communist Party of Ireland]. He looks fit and vigorous, but Dorothy has gone very white.
I omitted to say that one who came yesterday as well as today was Cath MacLaughlin, Pat McLaughlin’s widow. He inclined to Clann na hEireann; she is more “Provisional.” Barney Morgan distrusts her, but I think it is largely nonsense. She certainly has gone to look older. Her son, Michael Fintan Lalor McLaughlin, is leader of the “British Party” or some such fascist outfit and struts around protected by a bodyguard. It would be hard to find anybody sillier than old Pat MacLaughlin. He married Cath because of a pledge to a dying comrade in Spain that he would marry his girlfriend. He was a rolling stone and should never have married at all. He went on rolling, and his family were dragged up. He left a fine legacy of trouble! I saw the young fellow once. He was burned up with frustration and resentment against Pat. The father was seldom home. The mother sought the company of other men, and the children could take potluck.
December 1 Monday: I received (a month late) a cheque for £650 being pension from April 10th and deposited it. At about 5.30 two men appeared at the door to ask if I had a television set. I declined to satisfy their curiosity. They threatened to “bring a policeman” and “get a search warrant”. I told them to go ahead and do it. They did not reappear. But I wrote to their HQ in Bristol and to their superiors in Liverpool, and finally to Frank Field, the local MP. I heard from Noel Gordon that Donal Kennedy’s car had broken down near Crewe and that they had to take a taxi to London, which cost them £70. I saw Ashford and asked him to call.
December 2 Tuesday: Ashford came and fixed the immersion heater – at brave cost – but it is convenient to have it. I invited Tony Coughlan to come here for Christmas, now his sister is away[She was a Catholic nun in the Presentation Order and had moved abroad to work in Pakistan]. He was very pleased and will try to disentangle himself from some other engagement.
December 3 Wednesday: I went to London and saw Noel Gordon in the office. We had Betty Sinclair’s 70th birthday party (on the exact day) at the Ivanhoe Hotel at 7.30 pm. She came with Jane Tate. Among those present were Gerry Curran, his mott, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue and Grace O’Donohue, Pat Bond and Stella Bond, Tadhg Egan, Gordon McLennan and many others, about 60 in all. I said a few words, some of them intended for Gordon McLennan who, I am told, listened carefully. Among other things I said if we could not prevent a Third World War we could at least spare ourselves the discredit of coining the slogans under which it would be fought. I believe Betty Sinclair had a go at him. She also rang up Myant and tackled him for boosting Healy at the Liverpool meeting [presumably senior Labour politician Denis Healy]. Betty replied suitably when Stella Bond presented her with a book. Desmond Logan was there.
December 4 Thursday: At midday Betty Sinclair and Jane Tate came in. Jane took Betty to Gatwick. In the evening we went to the House of Commons [For a lobby seeking political prisoner status for the Long Kesh hunger-strikers]. Noel Gordon told me Myant came out from a meeting at which Ernie Roberts, Joan Maynard and, I think, Canavan were present. They also had Fitzpatrick of the Socialist Workers Party, not the worst. Myant professed surprise when Noel Gordon said he had not been invited to it. “The SWP is taking over Charter 1980,” said Myant, suggesting that Noel Gordon attend next week – to help him out of the dirt.
We got little change regarding the hunger strikes. I saw Field [ie. Frank Field, Birkenhead MP]. He was genial enough, and not antagonistic to the idea of granting political prisoner status. I also told him about the television men and he promised to act if necessary. AW Stallard did not come out. I hope he has not got an attack of diplomacy. Stan Newens and Dobson were disgraceful, Frazer and another better. It struck me that we must watch our involvement with these “Charter 80s” or we may share their isolation from the main body of Labour. Jane Tate and Noel Gordon and I went to the Cosmoba [an Italian restaurant in Bloomsbury] and had dinner.
December 5 Friday: I was just about to leave the office for the House of Commons yesterday when Alan Morton came in. He had not been able to get us on the telephone, but it was engaged so he came in. He has come to London on a £1 ticket to see about his book. He should make a good sum. It will sell for £18. It is the first history of Botany for a hundred years. All the university libraries will have to have it. So if there is a sale of 2,000 hardbacks he will make £5,000 without the paperback which will come out shortly afterwards. So he feels quite pleased with himself. I went to Ripley and the paper was successfully produced.
December 6 Saturday: I heard from Noel Gordon that the paper failed to arrive last night but was there today. Barney Morgan is going to London tomorrow for the H-Block demonstration.
December 7 Sunday: I stayed in most of the day and achieved very little.
December 8 Monday: The day after the lobby Chris Sullivan and Pegeen saw Stallard and he said he would like to see me. Noel Gordon rang him up and said I could come to London today and so I did. The train was wretchedly late. There was only time to have lunch and go to the House of Commons. We went for some tea and Stallard explained his difficulties over the H-Block affair. He was inclined to go for a mediator and I thought that sound enough. While we were there Stan Orme came in. When he spotted us he hastily walked out again. “He’s gone to report,” laughed Stallard. I returned on what was supposed to be the 7.30. It left at 8.15.
December 9 Tuesday (Edinburgh): I took the 9.45 to Edinburgh. It arrived three quarters of an hour late but Alan Morton was waiting and we went up to his place. He has been translating Lenau [Nikolaus Lenau, 1802-1850, Austrian poet with liberal views] and has found quotations from his work in Marx’s “Capital”. Alisoun Morton was in somewhat better form and Freda well enough. Later John Morton came in. Both Alisoun and John are out of work. The weather has become mild. Alan’s book is coming out soon – £18 a copy!
December 10 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to look for McGahey but just missed him [ie. Mick McGahey, the Scottish miners’ leader]. But I caught Loughrey of the Trades Council. He told me that the “An Phoblacht” attack on the Scottish TUC was not without foundation. But the Edinburgh Trades Council had not been threatened with disbandment. He did not dispute that Wyper had described the Provo prisoners as “murderers” and argued that they should not be visited [Hugh Wyper, Scottish secretary of the TGWU and Scottish CP member]. I then went to Glasgow to look for Wyper but had to leave before I could trace him. I took a Birmingham train, which whisked me down to Crewe in fine style. I think it was going to Bristol. From Crewe I went to Chester and so to Rock Ferry. On the radio came the result of the Thatcher-Haughey talks, and once more Mr Myant’s “policy” is in shreds. I wonder if he will boo himself. He is far too connected for that. He will rather blame events for their unforeseeable waywardness.
December 11 Thursday: I did a little clearing up and made some purchases. When I arrived last night I had news of a £200 income tax refund. And Gill and MacMillan wrote about the ITGWU history. The Trade Union people sent a PRO type of apology [ie. the ITGWU]. It was time something favourable happened. The full letter implies that I got the position to where I pointed it, the best achievable in the circumstances, and perhaps I stand to get about £3750.
December 12 Friday: Barney Morgan rang and told me that Michael Kelly of Waterloo had asked if I could address the Waterloo Ward Labour Party on Monday. I told him to tell him I would. Everybody is talking about the Haughey-Thatcher discussions.
December 13 Saturday (London): I decided to go on a day trip to London and draft a statement on the Dublin talks. I am anxious that the position of 1948 should not be taken up again. We objected to the “end of partition in return for abandoning neutrality” that was being peddled. But we got ourselves manoeuvred into opposition to the Irish Government because of the reactionary speeches of Sean MacEoin. When years later I met Sean MacEoin I realised that he should not have been taken seriously. So I drafted a statement which Noel Gordon will send off. Whom did I meet on the train but Frank Field, who was most affable. Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray persuaded me to stay overnight as they had planned a meal.
December 14 Sunday (Liverpool): I left in time for the 10.50 train but had a dreadful journey, through Northampton after a points failure, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Warrington and Earlstown. It took over five hours.
December 15 Monday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan arrived. In the evening I addressed Waterloo Ward Labour Party. The Underground extension is an immense improvement. I changed at Moorfields and seemed to be there in no time. I was extremely impressed. There were about 25 there, quite a few of them young people. There was one Councillor (Sefton) who reported on the Council meeting, another who reported on a Committee dealing with Leisure activities and a third, Cllr. Fanning, formerly of Bootle, who spoke on health policy. I had a most favourable reception. Michael Kelly was there, also Janet Walsh, and I thought the night well spent.
December 16 Tuesday: I did a little clearing up and purchased new fire bars for the front room. I think the anthracite is softening those in the music room.
December 17 Wednesday: I did some shopping and in the evening went to the Irish Centre and met Barney Morgan, Brian Stowell and members of the Irish class. A young man who had been at Waterloo and is researching on the subject of the Liverpool police came to see me and I told him that Bert Edwards was at “Bloody Sunday” in 1911.
December 18 Thursday: I went into the City and met the Gibsons in the bookshop. Jane Tate said they were so chilly when she stayed with them that she thought there had been some quarrel. She asked Noel Gordon if I had “had a row with them”. I think they were a shade sheepish but I shook hands with them cordially and showed no sign of wondering what had happened. I think they are liable to panic in difficult situations. I thought it deplorable that having agreed to accommodate Jane Tate, who knows them well, they should push her out to somebody else after one night. But there is no point in pursuing it.
I also saw Jack Kay, taking up a wee bottle of sherry for Mary McClelland who has lost her husband. While I was there Salverson rang up from Manchester to see if I could speak in Bolton. I said I could. The atmosphere in the CP up here is entirely different from that in London and I greatly prefer it. I can work with these people. Nobody could work with that London rubbish – excluding of course those who should be excluded. Jack Kay said to me that there was a certain complacency in London (meaning not the District whom I am criticising, but the Headquarters) where the strength of feeling in the provinces was not known. Kay ran me down to the station. He was going to the EC of the Trades Council.
December 19 Friday: I started on some correspondence, otherwise did little.
December 20 Saturday: I had a word with Noel Gordon who leaves for Belfast tomorrow. Myant has hailed the end of the hunger strike as a great victory, and as if he had always been its supporter. I wonder if the heckling did him some good. Perhaps it is a pity he didn’t get a second. I had a word with Tony Coughlan who says he is coming here for Xmas but “only for a day”. Is this to strengthen his resolve to get back to work? I remember at the University I praised Roxby to Jack Sterling of the Botany Department. “Ah! He works too hard. He’ll die young.” One could say that of Tony, unless of course he has secret sources of recreation unknown to the world.
December 21 Sunday: I did quite a few letters. I got a tax refund of £400 and a pension instalment of £350. I therefore decided to spend a few shillings celebrating if and when Tony Coughlan arrives.
December 22 Monday: The solstice was yesterday, 1980 being a leap year, and today was extremely bright and mild. Though there have been cold snaps this has been on the whole a mild wet autumn. Antirrhinums are in flower, also Tetragonolubus. The rogue Oenethera is 18″ high, with laterals springing from the ground and a developed inflorescence whose lowest buds have turned brown. There are poppies wintering it out and the brassicas are growing. I spent the day shopping.
December 23 Tuesday: I did little but a trifle of clearing up and more than a trifle of shopping. Tony Coughlan rang saying he is coming tomorrow.
December 24 Wednesday: I had to do some to more shopping because of Tony, who arrived in the early evening in good spirits.
December 25 Thursday: A day spent talking, eating and drinking, apart from a short walk.
December 26 Friday: A day spent the same way.
December 27 Saturday: Barney Morgan came and drove Tony and myself to Parkgate, West Kirby and Wallasey.
December 28 Sunday: Tony Coughlan left for Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and I started on the paper.
December 29 Monday: A day spent on the paper. Stella Bond and Pat Bond rang up.
December 30 Tuesday: A day spent on the paper. Peter Mulligan’s copy arrived and a letter from Freda Morton saying that Alisoun is taking to music.
December 31 Tuesday: I finished the paper – at midnight.
January 1 Thursday: I sat up reading and consequently did not get up till midday. I wrote to Freda Morton encouraging Alisoun’s turning to music. I said, I hope not indiscreetly, that there is a touch of the melancholic temperament in both Alan and Alisoun and they are best left alone to do what they want instead of having to please and to displease other people. I find old Hypocrates the best classifier, and Pavlov followed him. Now all four temperaments [ie. the sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic] can make great achievements, so one presumes this division is biologically determined. I also wrote to Eddie Cowman (the embodiment of the sanguine) who wrote me saying he is living in Clontarf, near Noel Moynihan and asking when I would be in Dublin. In the evening I listened to The Messiah from Manchester on the radio. It was more of the traditional performance than we have had lately, during this craze for unearthing ancient instruments. But there were some (in my opinion) quite inappropriate decorations and they were obviously rehearsed because they used (or their use corresponded with) the Novello score, and the orchestra on one occasion made the same decoration as the singer. At one point two soloists seemed to be out of tune. And as a result of omissions they preceded the last two D Major choruses by a movement in E flat, a terrible, terrible solecism. Handel had G minor, which is excellent. At the same time I enjoyed it. Over the holiday period I listened to a good performance of the Verdi Requiem and also Mozart’s in D minor. Without saying a word against the Verdi I prefer the Mozart.
January 2 Friday: I got some correspondence done today and wrote to Pat Bond and Pat O Donohue, also to the television people on whose trail I am keeping. The copy had not reached Ripley so there may be another delayed paper. This is the second month running that Gerry Curran has not turned anything in. I think he is just damned lazy and self-indulgent and we will see what happens when the new mott finds him out.
January 3 Sunday: I washed tablecloths and did a few other domestic things. The unsettled weather continued into the new year – something very unusual. I would have expected cold anticyclonic weather by now.
January 4 Sunday: I did some work on revising the ITGWU history. I am doing away with the introduction and will use the material either in another book or for other purposes altogether. On the other hand I do not propose to deviate from the conclusions arrived at. I stayed in all day – a slight cold.
January 5 Monday: I went shopping. Later I rang London. Stella Bond was there, but there is no sign of Noel Gordon, and since Gerry Curran delayed the paper again and I have to go to Ripley on Friday, I rely on his being back. Perhaps the P&O strike has held him up.
January 6 Tuesday: In the early evening Barney Morgan called and drove me to Bolton where I addressed the local CP. I opened by referring to Mick Weaver, whom Joe Deighan and I used to know. I learned afterwards that his widow was there and two nieces, both strong Irish nationalists though born in Bolton. One was a student of history at Oxford. There was a very good discussion and no “Troops Out Now” questions, and no anti-Irish questions. Some of them enquired about the Connolly Association.
January 7 Wednesday: I went into the city in the afternoon and booked the AUEW for a meeting. Then at about 6 pm. Noel Gordon rang up saying he had stayed in Belfast because he had a filthy cold. I think it was probably also that Helen McMurray did not need to return till today. I told him about Friday.
January 8 Thursday: Noel Gordon telephoned to say he was back in London.
January 9 Friday (London): I met Noel Gordon at Derby and we went to Ripley. He was quite good at proof reading (his spelling is sound) and we finished early, took a taxi to Derby and lugged 1000 papers to St Pancras and the office. Chris Sullivan came in. He is afraid of unemployment and Pegeen O’Sullivan is finding business hard to get. Pat Bond also came in for papers.
January 10 Saturday: I was in the office. Pat Bond and Noel Gordon came in and expressed dissatisfaction with the “Morning Star”, which had published an editorial laying the main blame for the troubles in Northern Ireland on the “Provisionals” while admitting the British Government was not guiltless. They thought the stress should have been reversed and so did I. I was turning my mind to organising some kind of protest but desisted on receipt of a letter from Betty Sinclair. For some time I have been urging a “theoretical summit” and I urged this on Joe Bowers when I met him. Betty tells me he has been taking the matter up. If I could get a general decision that would bind Myant this would be better than a rumpus which might leave him where he is. I am making no concealment, however, of my objection to the way the “Morning Star” boycotts the Connolly Association. I know of course that it is the price exacted by the Banks woman for the non-mention of Clann na hEireann. Of course one thing will be to persuade Jimmy Stewart to change – but a change agreed to will be good enough without a change operated. It will still bind those fellows or provide a basis for binding them. But I am trying to get the drafting of the required document. If however there is no agreement, then things will be no worse. I was out with Gerry Curran who said Flann Campbell posted me some copy.
January 11 Sunday: Pat Bond came into the office in the morning. He had telephoned the “Morning Star” and the man at the other end would not allow him a word in edgeways and swore that the Editorial had placed the main blame on the Tories. The trouble is that they are all so unutterably stupid. I suppose the poor fool thought that was the way it was! I was out with Noel Gordon in Paddington. I rang up Daphne Greaves.
January 12 Monday (Liverpool): I went to Bournemouth in the morning and saw DzB. She is very much more cheerful, but what is to become of her I do not know. She can scarcely possess an income of £100 a week, which is what the nursing home is costing her. She cannot walk but talks of going home. I got back to Waterloo and caught the 6.30 from Euston, starving, and having to buy the very expensive meal.
January 13 Tuesday: The night must have been very cold, for I actually felt chilly in bed and must have dreamed for hours, first that the Third World War had started, and second that I was on holiday in Wales – the second more pleasant. A card came from Charlie Cunningham in Italy, and a further rebate from the Income tax. At 4 pm. Barney Morgan came for a few minutes. He is not really very much of a politician, and I am going to have difficulty getting political work started here. One awaits the appearance of a capable young person willing to learn.
January 14 Wednesday: I discovered why I was cold last night. Usually if I open a window it is the transom. I discovered however that I had left the lower window open and was consequently trying to sleep in a very cold draught, a sure guarantee of constant dreaming. I got a little done about the house, but little enough. It poured all day yesterday and it poured all day today. The last time I actually remember westerly unsettled weather continuing into mid-January was in 1947, and that prospect is not pleasant. Still I had rather expected a consistently cold winter until the cold snaps proved so brief. There are poppies still green in the garden, broad beans actually in flower and the rogue Oenothera has 18″ inflorescence growing at an angle and surrounded by lateral rosettes.
January 15 Thursday: Wretched weather again today – snow showers and hail, melting and creating slush. I spoke to Noel Gordon. The Labour Committee on Ireland has asked if the Connolly Association will join with it in an event. He thinks there are divisions in its ranks. The Liberal-sponsored Committee for Withdrawal met on Tuesday (without Myant!). They had been planning a lobby on a mass scale. But we were not too anxious to have crowds descending on Parliament, and possibly some lunatics among them would let off a stink bomb or stage an incident. Noel Gordon therefore pressed for an attempt to recover the use of Trafalgar Square [where meetings on Ireland had been banned by the Government because of the continuing IRA military campaign]. Some supported him but there is a current of wishing to do something in five minutes with the Labour movement that would need many years. We think there is “Provisional” influence. He hopes to see the NCCL later. For the last three years we have mysteriously received no communication from them, and we suspect the careerist lady who is secretary has received a “tip off” from high places to keep us at arm’s length. The time when relations soured was when out of the blue Irene Brennan appeared on the Executive Committee. She has since disappeared. Roy Johnston is calling on Saturday.
January 16 Friday (London): I went to London on the early train and arrived at about 2 pm. and had lunch with Noel Gordon. All seems going well but the paper sales.
January 17 Saturday: We had the Standing Committee in the afternoon with Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate and Noel Gordon, but no Helen McMurray, who is “studying” and doing little in the bookshop. Donal Kennedy was there and Philip Rendle. Bernard O’Connell came from Birmingham with another NCP man, Mosely. I told him that I thought the Catholic plot mentioned in their paper was imaginary. Mosely said a man in Liverpool called Rigby was pushing it. Later he told Noel Gordon that he would raise the matter at their “Central Committee” as he thought I was right. Helen McMurray came later. She was sulking because Noel had not bought all the shopping. Jane Tate thought since this was a working day to Noel that Helen should have done it. Noel told me she is three essays behind in her studies, can’t discipline herself but moans all the time. But I think the studies are beyond her. How often you find people with a constant sense of grievance whose real grievance is not with the world but with their own limitations. I was out in Paddington.
January 18 Sunday (Liverpool): There was nothing in the house [ie. in the flat of Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray in Holborn where Greaves was staying overnight while in London]. I got up early and went to Chapel Street Market and bought boiling bacon, sprouts, a pineapple, onions, cauliflower and potatoes. We managed a light lunch and Helen McMurray wanted to go for a drink. At a certain point she said, “That was awful that you should have to go up and get our messages.” I had of course prepared for this. “Well,” said I, “When things go wrong, don’t mope about it, do something about them.” There was silence. I went to Liverpool on the 4.50.
January 19 Monday: A letter from Betty Sinclair indicated that the CPI Executive had discussed very favourably my proposal for a “summit”, and she at least understands it. She wonders if I would approach Gordon McLennan. I think I will wait until I have been in Dublin. If there was any chance that this wretched Banks woman would lose her position on the EC [ie. on the CPGB Executive] I would advise waiting till after November [ie. when the CPGB congress would be held], but the trouble is that the London vote is so strong. I am perhaps in a position to influence the North, but it is not populous enough.
In the afternoon Douglas Liddell, the man next door, called. He lives at 118 Mount Road. He is running a crusade against the establishment of a fish-and-chip shop across the road and already I typed him a petition. He asked me if I would form part of a deputation to go to the Planning Committee to offer our opposition. The date falls during a trip to London, but I thought I would come back for it. It is something to have neighbours to cooperate with and rather a new experience. Liddell is a Labour man, but Brown next door, and I imagine Mrs Marsden, are Tory. Liddell must have got it from somewhere that I can speak in public.
January 20 Tuesday: I did little enough in the day. I can’t get down to the ITGWU history. The Connolly Association met in the evening. There is gradually building up a body of regular attenders. But Barney Morgan has little notion of procedure and no conception of trying to get something out of a meeting. Young Stephen Walker who wants to be a writer was there, also Michael Mortimer, a former student now unemployed, like so many here, and Pat Goodwin, former friend of old Pat MacLaughlin, whom I met by accident at his work in Lime Street Station. We went to the Irish Centre afterwards.
January 21 Wednesday: Again I got little done but some book reviews.
January 22 Thursday: I only wrote letters and did a little on the paper. I decided to go to Manchester tomorrow. Barney Morgan rang to say Janet Walsh wants to see me about a College “project”. I wonder why they don’t teach them instead of fooling about. Then they would undertake their own projects.
January 23 Friday: I decided to go to Manchester, and a very bad day I had of it. I went across the road to the shops and learned the busmen were on strike. I had to go to Rock Ferry Station, get off at Birkenhead Central and go to the Bank. The day resulted in my being unable to call at The Mitre or do shopping. However, I reached Manchester and saw CR in his office. Then I saw Paul Salverson at Hathersage Road. I got the impression that Coughlin is rather over pressed. He told me he had had to reduce staff and has nobody to do the technical work. He thought Kay was far better off. However, so far was so good. But when I saw Jimmy McGill he was pessimistic to the last degree and held out no hope whatsoever of re-starting the branch. I think he was afraid he would have to do something himself. I had not wished to give him the impression, as I would expect very little. But for one thing he is very deaf. For another he had had the main labour of getting the two Liverpool excursions. But he said he would pay the fare of anybody I could send to London on February 18th. I got back to Liverpool in time to meet Janet Walsh who wanted to consult me about her”project”. We went into the Adelphi Hotel as everywhere else was too noisy. She wants to study Celtic at Glasgow. I told her she would not get a job at it. Still, romance is as satisfying as commerce, even if the satisfaction is different.
January 24 Saturday: I booked The Mitre and took occasion to see Kay. He started talking about the CP “organising” in relation to the Irish. I told him not to bother about it. I’ve had enough of that. All it amounts to is having a committee which talks. There is no point in anything that is not aimed at a historical effect. Here is the same thing again. I drew his attention to the article on Liverpool in “The Guardian” and advised him to get the Trades Council to write a letter. “I’ll write a letter from the party.” But will they publish it?” “They may not.” “Well get somebody to write it who will be published. It’s the publication that matters.” So he said he would do both!
January 25 Sunday: I spent the day on the paper.
January 26 Monday: Another day on the paper.
January 27 Tuesday: Barney Morgan told me he has some music for the social in the 13th. CR agreed to go to the lobby.
January 28 Wednesday: Barney Morgan suggested hiring a minibus for the lobby on the 18th. I thought it a good idea. Noel Gordon went to the “Withdrawal” meeting last night. They have been trying to get Myant along as they think he has access to Irish Trade Unions and they are trying to repeat our success with Michael Mullen but on a larger scale. Myant told them, “The Connolly Association knows more about that than I do.” We wondered what this signified. Achilles in his tent after the rebuff at the conference? A genuine insight into his own limitations? Noel also told me that George Smith was calling on him to discuss the mysterious way we were dropped from the books of the NCCL and have received no invitations to conferences. It happened the year Irene Brennan got by some strange means on to its Executive. Smith is hoping that the South-East TUC will run an Irish event in February. I was going to the Irish Centre, but tripped and grazed knee and elbow, so bought a bottle of whiskey and sat by the fire.
January 29 Thursday: Noel Gordon had good news. RTE is concerned about the Prevention of Terrorism Act and wants a programme in Irish. Conchúir told them the Connolly Association was holding a lobby and suggested Siobhán O’Neill [a CA member who had fluent Irish]. I concurred. I did very little.
January 30 Friday: This week the weather has turned fine and mild. Everything is growing as there has been so little frost. Three poppies survived and show the meconopsis leaf shape as occurred before. The swedes are sprouting up. I have had no time to eat them! There are cabbages starting but they too are beginning to stretch and the colcannon has flower buds. Some broad beans still have leaves on and there are last year’s green leaves on the Cologne mint. There are wallflowers out and the quince has been getting ready to flower for the past three months. Daffodils and squills are pushing up too.
January 31 Saturday: At last I began to get down to the ITGWU thing. My brain will only work when it suits it to do so, and to talk of free will is nonsense. In the last analysis you will as you have to. Almost a spring day today.
February 1 Sunday: I came within an ace of going for a cycle ride today, but I thought there were signs of fog. But it didn’t come. In the morning Bill Parker [an old scientific colleague from his days in industry] rang from London, sounding as on top of the world as usual, and suggested a lunch when I am in next in London. He is partially retired now, only doing three days a week. His daughter aged 24 studied classics and went to be a chartered accountant. I did some work on the book.
February 2 Monday: I went to Ripley and read the proofs of the “Irish Democrat”. The visit was uneventful.
February 3 Tuesday: I got very little done. Noel Gordon said that Kay Beauchamp referred to us a review of Dangerfield’s book that she felt uneasy about. Apparently Liberation is very collaborative [ie. the former Movement for Colonial Freedom]. Jane Tate told me that “Labour Monthly” has announced its last issue. I know the “Euros” were very much against it and that horrible character Falber is quoted as saying, “It ought to be wound up.” And by all accounts the “Morning Star” is by no means secure, but what can one expect with that nice harmless ineffectual Chater in the editorial chair, and that conceited mediocrity Myant as his second. When I read it, I always get a sense of emptiness. There is seldom anything in it that enrages me, as seldom anything that delights me. And they have got nobody who can write. There is not a trace of originality or flair. And by all accounts they will listen to nobody.
February 4 Wednesday: I did a little on the book in the day. In the evening I went to the Irish Centre at 9 pm. for Barney Morgan had told me that Janet Walsh had phoned from Wales asking to see me there. I had a suspicion that he had the message mixed up. Anyway, she was not there. He told me he was coming from Brian Stowell’s Irish class. But he was there with a mott whom he introduced as “Anne”. He had not been to the class. When Brian Stowell arrived he looked a little displeased and I think he thought I had prevented Barney from going to the class. I had no need, of course. The woman was aged about 40, had left her native Wexford at the age of 14, and is married with three children, two of them grown up. So here is the human rabbit warren. As long as all is well, all is well. But I must line up some kind of a committee [ie. to run the Liverpool CA branch].
February 5 Thursday: On the telephone Noel Gordon told me that Tom Durkin had decided to introduce a resolution on Ireland and had sent a copy for my opinion [ie. for the CPGB congress in November]. This is a revolution. He has always been antagonistic.
February 6 Friday: Noel Gordon rang again. Kay Beauchamp is also looking for advice! A woman has written a review of Dangerfield’s book and she is uneasy about it. He says there is more interest in this lobby than in any previous, and he is going to see Jock Stallard [MP for St Pancras/Camden] this afternoon.
February 7 Saturday: Tom Durkin’s resolution arrived. It was not bad and I returned it with only minor adjustments. Whether it will gain a place on his agenda of course I do not know. I was trying to get Tony Coughlan. Roy Johnston has sent me the prospectus of his “New Bill” and Tony is one of the sponsors. But up to now Tony has been a trifle scornful, intimating that he is pleasing Roy by letting his name go forward, but hardly expecting the thing to get off the ground.
I met Barney Morgan and his mott at Mount Pleasant and we went to Manchester. She is quite a decent girl but did not say much and I don’t think she is interested in politics at all. We went to Bellevue where Wilf Charles’s retirement party was in progress [Wilf Charles was the former Manchester CPGB secretary]. I had a talk with Wilf and he told me he was a “hard-liner”. I was later told that he had been almost boycotted by the District Office for four years. I sat next to a man called Booth who was in the International Brigade and he and many others asked about Joe Deighan, whose letter was read out [Deighan had been active in the Manchester Labour movement in the 1950s and early 1960s]. Michael Costello was there and came over to me, very “hail fellow well met”[Mick Costello, born 1936, became CPGB industrial organiser in 1979 and later industrial correspondent for the “Morning Star”. He was a leading “hardliner” in the disputes that led to the dissolution of the CPGB in 1991, Dave Cook being one of his principal opponents]. He spoke and strongly criticised the CP, which I thought not necessary. There is a strange mixture of leftism and rightism in them. I listened carefully. I know he is a public-school boy and lived in France and moved in diplomatic circles. Michael Crowe, who was in the car with him when E.P.Thompson [ie. the historian] went to Newcastle, told me that in that company he was very much at home and very much the public schoolboy. Now what would have been my impression of him if I had not known this? That I can’t be sure. Tonight however I felt that he did not ring true. There was a touch of the act put on. He is not of course a powerful speaker. Wilf Charles on the other had was human and modest. Stan Orme, whose head is highly inflated, gave a ministerial performance [Stan Orme, 1923-2005, MP for Salford East, Labour Shadow Cabinet member]. Frank Allaun, who had a chat with Barney Morgan, was sincere and widely applauded [Frank Allaun, 1913-2002, MP for Salford West and prominent CND peace activist]. Sean Hogan says he is anti-Irish. Possibly he does not understand the relation between the Irish question and world peace. I passed the time of day with him. Many people of the olden days were there, and contrasting it with comparable gatherings in London, I can see that this country is developing regions like Italy. I had a word with Frances Dean of the Trades Council. She is appalled by CP anti-Sovietism. She said that Peter Coughlin is lazy and useless and she has little time for young Paul Salverson, whom I thought a good lad. He used to be in the Connolly Association while a railwayman in Bolton. He doesn’t know how to do the job, she says. But a young man needs training, said I. “Well he’s not getting it.” Everybody I spoke to was opposed to the CP’s absurd electoral policy and I think that it is time I spoke up [ie. the policy whereby CP candidates went up against Labour ones, to get derisory votes, instead of supporting the better Labour candidates and influencing who was chosen to stand for Labour, which might have held open the door to affiliating with that party in time]. Joe McCrudden was there. I asked him what had happened to the Connolly Association minute book that he got from Jimmy McGill, who got it from Tom Redmond [ie. the minute book of the Manchester CA branch]. To my surprise he said it was given to Michael Crowe. If it was, then it is goodbye to it [Crowe was notoriously absent-minded]. Still, I must write to Michael. I also spoke to Stan Cole. All seem willing to support if not to do much for a revival of the Connolly Association in Manchester. The dissatisfaction with the way the CP is going was universal among the older people I spoke to. Frances Dean for example complained about Pat Devine’s son whom some of his opponents had told to his face that he was a disgrace to his father, which he is [Young Pat Devine was an academic economist and a participant in the CPGB internal debate between “hardliners” and “soft-liners” at this time, largely revolving round attitudes to the USSR]. She said she was convinced there was a national faction of these academic rightists. But some of them had recently seen the “Democrat” [in which Greaves had a review of the Bew, Gibbon and Patterson book on Northern Ireland]. I think as far as the Irish question is concerned, if it is done quickly – I asked Frances Deane how long she was good for and to her demurring suggested 20 years, somewhat optimistically offering myself 15! – before the old generation dies out. I think we could pull things together with great benefit to the whole movement.
February 8 Sunday: I did a little on the book.
February 9 Monday: There is trouble in London. The papers have not arrived, that is except the Red Star batch. I wrote to Stratton applying for membership of the Merseyside Peace Society – or some such name. The drive to war is shocking [East-West tension and the associated arms race were acute at this time]. I do not propose to be frizzled without preventable protest.
February 10 Tuesday: I got some more work done on the book. Still no papers in London. The Society of Authors sent back the Gill contract with quite a few suggestions for amendments [ie. the contract with Messrs Gill and Macmillan, who eventually were to be the publishers of Volume 1 of the ITGWU history].
February 11 Wednesday: I am pleased people are fighting back. There was an invitation to a conference of Scientists on Peace. I told them I could not attend but sent them £2. Then two people in Cheshunt wrote saying they were trying to save the “Labour Monthly”, and I sent them £5, or rather sent them a statement and £5 to Nicola Seyd [secretary of the “Labour Monthly”]. Jane Tate had told me of the expected closure. I have more than a feeling that this is the time to make a stand and I drafted a letter to Gordon McLennan [CPGB General Secretary]. Still no papers in London. I did some work on the book. I wrote to Betty Sinclair
February 12 Thursday: Noel Gordon told me the papers had arrived. He also said that the “Morning Star” has announced that Sue Slipman, the student leader, had left the CP of whose Executive Committee she was a member and joined (Bless us!) Shirley Williams [Shirley Williams was one of the so-called “Gang of Four” leading Labour politicians who left that party because of its left-wing policies when led by Michael Foot, and formed the Social Democratic Party in 1981, later merging with the Liberal Party]. Apparently several others have gone with her. “What a state they must be in,” was Noel Gordon’s comment. The CPI is however as sound as a bell and Noel thinks the article defending neutrality in this month’s “Irish Socialist” is by Tony Coughlan [It cannot be confirmed whether this was so or not].
February 13 Friday: I did very little in the day. The winter has proved mild after all but I am suffering from lack of a proper summer holiday, as the weather was so desperate while I was a way. I feel “run down”. In the evening we had a social gathering at The Mitre – well attended too. Pat O’Doherty came, Michael Kelly, Barney Morgan and Sean Maguire, son of Michael Morgan the MP, a young fellow who took a law degree but is unemployed, living in Liverpool. He is about 25, I would think. He told me that Austen Morgan, the conceited little turd who let the epiphenomenal paradigms loose at Liberty Hall [see earlier volume], has written a book about Connolly which Kegan Paul are publishing. There is a Connolly industry growing up and the object is to entwine the poor man in a web of academic theory, to take one more working-class hero out of the possession of the working class. Maguire thinks he is a little horror. Apparently he was at Warwick University. He has agreed to come to our lobby. Apparently Morgan is a Derry man. That place does produce them!
February 14 Saturday: I did some shopping, but little more. The weather is dry and cold but has so far managed not to freeze. Four of last year’s poppies are green.
February 15 Sunday: I did some correspondence, but precious little else. Barney Morgan rang to make arrangements about the lobby. A thing I forgot to say about Friday was that the social did not break up till 1 am. and when we went out – the barman carefully opening the door to see there was nobody about – the saloon bar was full of drinkers. I was not sorry to avail of this since it happened without design, but I must think about making a habit of it. I also talked to Alan Jones. I think that Liverpool people are suffering from the shock of seeing their city reduced from the status of a world port to a crumbling Venice within a generation. They look desperately for status. This is why Liverpool Trades Council made its expensive 125-year celebration and then attempted a national conference. And I can arouse little interest in Irish politics. There are too few who know the Ireland of today. Incidentally young Maguire is very knowledgeable in Irish history and quite a bright young fellow.
February 16 Monday: I sent off some letters. Liddell from No.118 called in. There is a proposal to open No 119 as a fish-and-chip shop and the local people are very opposed to it. He asked me to accompany a deputation to the meeting of the Planning Committee and to speak for them. I agreed.
February 17 Tuesday: I decided to drop the ITGWU thing for a week or two and to concentrate on the paper for Professor Siegmund-Schultze, who is a decent person and mustn’t be let down. I wrote to Gill & Macmillan querying the contract and proposing a postponement. I spent the evening getting one or two ideas together.
February 18 Wednesday: I took the 11 am. train to London. Barney Morgan and Kay were on it. The young fellow and the mott were unable to come, so they went by train. We went to the office, then went for a bite and so to the House of Commons. Quite a few people were there. Hourigan and a few more cornered Heffer, who refused to promise to be present when the Prevention of Terrorism Act is debated but said he would vote against it if he was in the house [Eric Heffer, 1922-1991, was a left-wing Labour MP for Liverpool Walton]. Jock Stallard was very scornful. “If he’s in the house! And he’ll see he’s not here now you’ve told him. These people ought to be exposed!” CR. was there but not one MP came out for him. Jane Tate, Pat Bond and quite a few others were there. I spoke to David Alton who promised to vote against [David Alton was Liberal MP for Liverpool Edge Hill]. And in the middle of the lobby was Gerry Fitt, who hailed me like a long-lost brother and at once turned to attack the “Provisionals”. Stallard gave me a copy of the document he had circulated. He is trying to get the debate held at a seasonable hour, not on a Thursday night when all the provincial members have gone home. He could not get them to stand for political prisoner status but they (that is the Northern Ireland Committee) are prepared to stand for a united Ireland. He thinks that there is a general move, an increased interest. Strangely enough like us he had declared for 50! [ie. that 50 Labour MPs would support the call for a British Declaration of Intent to work towards Irish reunification]. Though possibly he saw it on the “Irish Democrat” but forgot where he saw it.
Noel Gordon told me about Myant and the information throws light on the past. He has started co-opting to his Irish Committee and one of the co-optees is Hourigan, who used to be Clann na hEireannn but has moved closer to us. At the last meeting Philip Rendle introduced a general discussion and put the classical position. There was a division of opinion and they are to continue the discussion next time. But the interesting thing came from a conversation with the Trotsky, Fitzpatrick. It seems that this character is pressing the Committee for Withdrawal to hold a Trade Union Conference. Noel Gordon is trying to head them off. After the last meeting Fitzpatrick got drunk in Noel’s presence and told him that he had gone to see Myant and spent two hours with him. He said that there should be such a conference, but that the Connolly Association should not be allowed to call it and that “Withdrawal” should. Noel commented on his sublime arrogance when he only once attended a “Withdrawal” committee meeting and doesn’t believe in withdrawal. He then told Fitzpatrick that he had attended a Connolly Association conference in 1977 and didn’t like what he heard there. Indeed that was true. He sat next to Joe Bowers with a very glum face [Joe Bowers was a Belfast Trade Unionist and CPI member]. Now Noel Gordon told me that through all that time Myant was whispering to Bowers and that must explain why Bowers made a somewhat critical speech accusing us of not giving credit to NI Trade Unionists. On the strength of this I had spoken disparagingly to Sean Nolan of Bowers and to my surprise he said he was “solid as a rock”, and then when I had a proper talk with Bowers I found it was true. The poison had been laid by that intriguing young Myant. Now he tells Fitzpatrick that he can get John Freeman over for them [John Freeman, 1933-2011, ATGWU Irish Regional Secretary, of Belfast Presbyterian background]. For “withdrawal”? What when he gets back to Belfast.?
February 19 Thursday: I returned to Liverpool on the 10.50 and at 5.15 Liddell from No. 118 and Fred Brown and another man came and we went to Wallasey Town Hall and sat in two rows of seats parallel to the long side of a large “boardroom” table. The Councillors, members of the Planning Sub-Committee, sat at the table. A species of epidiascope threw images of plans on a screen. Our case was the last one, and I was pleased because it enabled me to observe the procedure. I had a business-like case prepared but decided not to appear too professional. One application was for permission to build a fall-out shelter under a bungalow. “Will they be mushrooming everywhere?” asked a man I took to be Labour. When our case was called the Borough Engineer gave my case almost to the word, and then replied to it. I had quickly to reply to the replies. I think I was rather artful – having of course the long experience of watching the audience to see how they were taking it. But a Labour man chipped in. He liked fish and chips and they should be available everywhere. But it was acknowledged that there were twelve letters and a petition of some hundred signatures against. Finally, a councillor from Allcot Avenue said he opposed it and it was turned down. At the same time I could not help thinking to myself how thoroughly reactionary my three companions were. They commented on juvenile delinquency. I said the youngsters had nowhere to go and that sports facilities were needed. “Nowhere to go? They’ve got discos. We never had that. What more do they want?” What more indeed!
February 20 Friday (London): I went to London on the midday train and found Noel Gordon in the office and we went to Camden Town in the evening [ie. selling the monthly paper]. Noel said he thought the man from Cheshunt who was supporting the “Labour Monthly” was an NCP [ie. in the New Communist Party, led by Sid French, which had broken away from the CPGB].
February 21 Saturday: In the afternoon I went to Wood Green where “Haringey” Trades Council had invited me to speak on Irish Trade Unionism. When Noel Gordon and I got there, there were about three people. And no more than 15 to 20 came at all. Noel told me that Gerard O’Meara, who had arranged it, had been trying for two years to get me invited there. There was opposition from Clann na hEireann. But the main opposition came from members of the CP. He thought no proper work had been done and that the opponents of the scheme had boycotted it. However, Tom Durkin was there and took the chair. I had a long talk with him afterwards. He is a changed man in his approach to us. Elsie O’Dowling used to call him “that horrible man” who always refused to buy the “Irish Democrat”. Now he hurried over to get one. Apparently Baker, who is trying to save the “Labour Monthly”, is one of his proteges on Brent Trades Council. But all does not go smoothly with Tom Durkin. He is considered a “hard liner” and some of the local CP are working overtime to get him off the Trades Council. We discussed the “Labour Monthly”.
I stayed for the “discotheque” – a crazy deafening affair to which Helen McMurray came. The Clann na hEireanns were there in force, George O’Driscoll and Andy O’Higgins with them. I suspect they have been influenced. It is the old imperialist economism we have been fighting all these years. And the interesting thing is that they will never defend it. But who should be there but Robin Banks and his wife. I spoke to both of them. Their main interest was my connection with the ITGWU. I wondered if Mrs Banks was openly acting for Clann na hEireann, so I asked her for a copy of “Workers’ Life” and she went over and got me one. So she is. O’Driscoll sang a song about Monto, and a woman shouted at him “sexist rubbish”, which it was, and all the Clann na hEireann hypocrites joined in. A man at the bar started to sing a song about a machine gun. The Clann na hEireanns shouted “shut up”. He turned on them, “You ‘stickie’ bastards.” What a state of disarray. But one interesting thing was that a very intelligent young man in his twenties who came to the lecture and asked good questions (including one about Irish neutrality) turned out to be Mrs Banks’s brother. I think he may not share her views. Noel Gordon thinks that what makes her tick is personal ambition.
February 22 Sunday: I was in the office with Noel Gordon and in Hammersmith with Philip Rendle. He told me that Baker was formerly in the CP, then joined the NCP, and being expelled out of that joined the Labour Party. The two Birmingham men who came to London say he is a “head case”. In Fulham I saw Jim Argue [a former CA member], who had been knocked down by a car that did not stop. More important, Lenny Draper was there and told me he felt a trifle guilty about doing nothing. He looks much better than he did, is more confident, and I think it will not be long before he comes back. At least I hope not.
February 23 Monday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool on the afternoon train. There were letters from FF [original name unknown], Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston. Yesterday I looked out of Noel Gordon’s window and saw what I thought might be a cartload of salt. But then there passed from the east a taxi with melting snow on its roof and a couple of apologetic snowflakes filtered down. I presumed Essex was under snow. But today there was snow on the Chilterns, then again on the Northampton Heights, and so across the Midlands and through the Cheshire Gap – but only an odd remnant after that, until we entered Liverpool, where there were accumulations on roofs though there was a slow thaw. Elsie O’Dowling is lucky. She is in Ceylon with Connie Seafort.
February 24 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. Then in the evening I went to the Connolly Association meeting, but only five turned up. There was a one-day bus strike. A wee girl from the “Revolutionary Communist Party”, a leftist sect, was there and told us that she was on an “ad hoc” committee which was seeing Eric Heffer on Saturday. If he did not agree to support “political status” in Long Kesh they would picket his premises. I advised against it. Michael Mortimer was there and drove Kay in his car.
February 25 Wednesday: I continued with the paper. The cold weather continues. The surviving poppies I had hoped to bring through the winter are cut down, though one I protected with some dead stalks may survive.
February 26 Thursday: I had written to Andrew Rothstein and R.Page Arnot urging them to keep the “Labour Monthly” going and to rally R.Palme Dutt’s old friends to protect editorial policy. His reply came today. It is the letter of a defeated old man. To make things worse Noel Gordon told me that the “Irish Democrat” is bankrupt, with £1000 in debts, £10 in the bank and the sole assets unsold stock. However, Noel turns out to possess ample fighting spirit and can be relied on to put up a struggle. I might take a day trip to London. I finished the paper and started on the German thing.
February 27 Friday: I carried on with the German thing. I don’t know how good it will be, as to do it properly would involve detailed work for which I lack adequate qualifications and more important still, time. But I worked out some sort of plan. I seem to have injured a tendon in my upper right arm while mending the bicycle and it is as well that the cold weather makes work in the garden impossible.
February 28 Saturday: I didn’t manage to do much. Indeed I felt surprisingly tired and rather disinclined to concentrate. I do not think it was the bad news from London as I had already decided to go there on Tuesday. Noel Gordon said he would call a special meeting.
March 1 Sunday: Again I did little. This cold weather does not suit me, though indeed it is not very cold, but rather damp and raw. I was looking through JR Green’s history to see if there was anything useful in it, but what a hopeless English chauvinist he is.
March 2 Monday (London): I felt a cold coming on. So that must be why I felt tired and a bit listless. At the same time I do not feel it will be a bad one, so will go to London tomorrow. I went to Ripley to read the proofs, and on to London.
March 3 Tuesday: I went to London yesterday and the meeting was held today – Pat Bond, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate for part of the time, Philip Rendle, Pat O’Donohue, now completely transformed and as cordial as one could wish, but no Gerry Curran. He had “hurt his foot” – but not his bottom. We decided to launch an appeal and start a campaign. Noel Gordon and I had had lunch with George Smith, whom Dolan Kennedy who was also present thinks has a finger in too many pies. He thinks we would be wise to bring over Michael O’Riordan. He tells me that he is still in touch with the old gang of Dominic Behan supporters, Furlong, Fred O’Shea etc. and thinks they would support it. I am very chary of touching them. I think Tom Durkin would be a better ally. But we will see. The West Germans (Cologne) sent me twenty reprints of my article on O’Casey, but no money. I gave one to Jane Tate and Noel Gordon solicited one for Helen McMurray, whose attendances are irregular since she started “studying.” She is only 22 and can be a little trying at times. Noel tells me that Philip Rendle is in a curious mood and I wonder whether this links with Myant’s committee.
March 4 Wednesday (Liverpool): I gave Noel Gordon a hand to get the circulars off, then returned to Liverpool. There was a letter from Gill and Macmillan agreeing to my suggested changes in their draft contract. Also a letter came from a graduate student in Derry whose PhD thesis is to be on the ITGWU between 1909 and 1923. He had been in touch with Francis Devine and asks me if I have any objection to his seeing the material in Liberty Hall. I will get the contract signed with Gill, and then tell him to go ahead. I still have an annoying cold. Barney Morgan came in and we decided to go to Warrington on Saturday.
March 5 Thursday: I carried on with the article for Halle [This was the article on “Ireland in English Literature” which Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze had requested for her next Ireland conference in Halle in the German Democratic Republic]. The weather has turned quite mild.
March 6 Friday: Noel Gordon telephoned. The SWP man who was with Myant said the Committee for Withdrawal had set up a “Labour Movement Committee” and that Myant and he are on it, also somebody from the Labour Committee on Ireland. It meets tonight, and at 6 pm. this man rang up to invite him to go. They plan a conference in June. I heard from Tony Coughlan that Sean Redmond and Daltún O Ceallaigh are prepared to come to ours, but that he awaits a reply from Michael Mullen. I advised him to announce ours as soon as possible. The opportunism of this fellow Myant is unbelievable. At a time when the focus shifts from the Republican demand of unification to the national demand of the defence of neutrality he shifts to withdrawal. I begin to suspect certain deep designs.
March 7 Saturday: I met Barney Morgan in town in the early evening and we went first to the Irish Centre and then to the Irish Club in Warrington. Murray, an old acquaintance of Barney Morgan, was there, and Barney sold some papers. We had a very good reception. As it happened, they are having a St Patrick’s Day parade and lack a piper. Barney promised to get them a band if it was available but guaranteed them a piper.
March 8 Sunday: The weather is mild now and a daffodil is out, but it was damp, so I stayed in all day and did more on the German thing.
March 9 Monday: I still had a filthy cold but was glad of the continuing milder weather. I did very little.
March 10 Tuesday: I was better today and did some work on the German thing, which is proving interesting.
March 11 Wednesday: I spoke to Tom Redmond and Michael O’Riordan on the telephone and Michael has agreed to come to London and Liverpool. I passed the news on to Noel Gordon.
March 12 Thursday: Today was like a spring day. I heard from Noel Gordon that Myant is going to Ireland, we presume the North. His committee is in disarray and he called a special meeting last night. Cath Scorer was there and displeased Myant by coming out for a “Declaration of Intent”. The two building workers did not attend, but as Noel Gordon pointed out, if they had, those of our opinion would have had a majority. I had a wee swipe at Myant on the back page of the “Irish Democrat”. Everything has fallen out exactly as my editorial forecast. So that now that the centre of gravity is neutrality, some of our somewhat lukewarm admirers take up the slogan we have been presenting just as it ceases to be central anymore! Still it is progress.
I went for a cycle ride in the afternoon, only to Storeton, and also walked awhile in the woods opposite where the old quarry was. I had the greatest difficulty in finding any sign of the old railway cutting and was not sure even when I saw a rather steep-sided hollow. There are few pine trees left and most of them are infected with beetles which drill holes in the trunks. It is mostly a birch wood now. I can recall being told by a member of the Liverpool Botanical Society that the pine trees were doomed. I was trying to remember when I joined it. I do remember going to my first meeting in short pants, so I could not possibly have been more than 15. I was soon in long ones however, so it must have been 1928 or 1929. There used to be a Joint Learned Societies’ “soirée” and “conversazione”, and the schools used to send exhibits in a competition. Perhaps I had sent some pressed flowers or something. Horace Green, Secretary of the LBS, was always on the look-out for new members. Dr WA Lee was President. I have a sense that it was just before Xmas 1928, and at the first meeting I met Alan Moton. He was about 18! Tempora mutantur! [Times change] Thecutting was filled up with rubbish from the Mersey Tunnel. So that would be in the middle thirties. The woods were enclosed then and thick with brambles and undergrowth. Now all is bare except for some evergreens I could not identify but will look at in the summer. A young motorcyclist was riding about under the trees – a big kid enjoying climbing the hummocks and swooping into the hollows. The old railway ran under the road and beside the quarry. There used to be a spring which fed a small stream running east. Donal Magee and I used to play there as schoolboys until one day we took Darlington who was given the upper reaches as his territory and damned the water – then releasing an unholy surge which swept away our toy boats and destroyed our miniature wharves and harbours. Worse than that it made a filthy puddle outside an old lady’s door so that our pastime came to an abrupt end!
I don’t think I ever went cycling quite as early as this. But it is wet mildness and I doubt if it will last. Until today it rained all day for four days. Barney Morgan came in in the late afternoon.
March 13 Friday: Tony Coughlan rang to say that Sean Redmond and Daltún O Ceallaigh are coming over for the conference in June, so I rang Noel Gordon. He confirms what Noel suspected, that Noel Harris is now working for the ACTT [ie. the Cinematograph Union] in London. Noel told me that the NCP have virtually lifted the “Irish Democrat” material but without acknowledgement. They are as opportunistic as the CP proper, but less responsible. They want something to say on the Irish question, preferably different from anything said by the CP!
March 14 Saturday: I worked on the German thing.
March 15 Sunday: Another day on the German thing. The weather has turned cold again.
March 16 Monday: Another day on the German thing.
March 17 Tuesday: I finished the German thing and sent a copy to Halle and another to Tony Coughlan who is going there [Anthony Coughlan read Greaves’s article on “Ireland in English Literature” at the Halle conference that year].
March 18 Wednesday: I did a bit on my talk about St. Patrick – it is five years since I gave the lecture. I am still suffering the after-effects of the cold and the weather does not help.
March 19 Thursday: In the morning Noel Gordon telephoned. The number of MPs against the PTA has risen to 44 and Labour has demanded an enquiry into it. He says that the “Morning Star” is shocking. Needless to say, we are never mentioned, and to make matters worse the PTA is described at the “Northern Ireland Terror Act”.
The evening was a disaster. We had done a great deal of work for the branch meeting and there was another bus strike. Barney Morgan was late, Kay was there, one other and Barney’s mott who had come to drive him home as his car is damaged. The Irish Centre was almost empty.
March 20 Friday: I got precious little done today. I am still not completely recovered. If the weather improved I’d think of a holiday.
March 21 Saturday: I went to London on a day trip for the Connolly Association Executive. Barney Morgan was not there, nor had he mentioned the subject though I gave him an opportunity. But Michael Crowe was there and BoC from Birmingham, but not Barry Riordan from Oxford. The others were Chris Sullivan, Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond, Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Steve Huggett, Helen McMurray, Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran, Philip Rendle and the wee girl whose name I forget. On the whole it was constructive. Michael Crowe was telling me that there is growing disquiet in the CP about the feeble right-wing leadership. He said that the defection of Sue Slipman had had its effect and that he understood that Irene Brennan had gone back to the church (I had heard this) and goes to Executive meetings in her habit! To think that utterly unstable people can be entrusted with important responsibilities speaks magnitudes for the quality of those who would do it. Michael says that there is fear of a takeover of the “Morning Star” by the Social Democratic Party crowd [ie. Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins et al, who had left the Labour Party to establish the SDP] and that young people as well as the old are disturbed. No wonder either. I returned to Liverpool in the evening.
March 22 Sunday: I stayed in all day. It has turned cold again. But I managed to do two pages of the “Irish Democrat”.
March 23 Monday: I spent the day on the paper. I am still not quite well, much too rheumaticy for my liking and not “on top”. However, the weather is now milder. The Forsythia has been out a week. Rosemary is flowering, the plum very near it, and some poppies have wintered. The gardens are gay with daffodils and hyacinths. A very early spring.
March 24 Tuesday: Another day spent on the paper.
March 25 Wednesday (London): I went to London to address the Central London branch of the Connolly Association. Elsie O’Dowling was there, having returned from Ceylon, also Flann Campbell, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Steve Huggett and others.
March 26 Thursday: I finished the paper, and in the evening went to dinner with Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran, staying at her house. Things have quietened down and I think the whole trouble in the past was the breakdown of Gerry Curran’s marriage and the atmosphere created by it.
March 27 Friday (Liverpool): I went into the office and had a talk with Noel Gordon. Philip Rendle says the Executive of the CP is to discuss Ireland in the next few months. This Scorer woman who lived with Irene Brennan has been brought on the committee and they are all to attend. Philip complains that Hourigan and another Irish member does not attend, but I think they give short notice. So I decided to fire a shot. I wrote to Pocock and suggested the International Affairs Committee should discuss Ireland. Now Myant is in Belfast and Noel Gordon thinks he influenced the disgustingly defeatist article (an editorial) on the Prevention of Terrorism Act. So we fired another shot. We wrote them a letter for publication. Of course if Myant is there he will try to prevent publication. A suspicion crossed my mind that he is over there to try and split the CPI by enticing its Northern and ideologically weaker area into his camp of “Euro-communism”. I think his trouble is probably careerism. I returned to Liverpool.
March 28 Saturday: Barney Morgan called and we went to Warrington for the Peace March, taking “Irish Democrats”. We disposed of 27. These marchers were overwhelmingly young people, rather shabbily dressed. John Gibson was there, also Chris Robinson, and we met a few other people. Then Barney decided to go to Southport to buy food for his dog, so I went with him. I haven’t been in Southport for at least fifty years, more likely 60! On the way back we each bought a half hundredweight of potatoes for £1.30, which is about 40% of the price I pay over the road. Even if I have to give some away it will still be cheaper. We bought them from a farm and Barney delivered them at 124 Mount Road when he came back over. I was very encouraged at seeing all the young people but wondered what power they have got. That’s the rub.
March 29 Sunday: The weather was reasonably mild but I did not go out. I never saw such an early spring. The damson is flowering for the first time, the clematis is growing, the rowan shooting and the hawthorn hedges along Borough Road are green. I have chervil and rosemary in bloom, and it is not yet April. The daffodils are over and seasonal things like wallflowers and Forsythia in full flower.
March 30 Monday: I went to Ripley where the paper ran smoothly enough. I heard from Jane Tate that Betty Sinclair, whom Joe Deighan had told me was in hospital, is now out again. Dorothy Deighan says she neglects herself and instead of making a meal takes a glass of whiskey. I bought the “Morning Star” and the “Manchester Guardian”. The first said Paisley had 31,000 at his rally, the second 10,000. It looks as if the Myant fellow is trying to boost Paisley!
March 31 Tuesday: I did little. I am still not completely recovered from the effects of the cold. There is a general rheumaticiness which is a nuisance, and I suppose I must wait for the warmer weather, if it ever comes. Noel Gordon rang. He had noted Myant’s boost for Paisley and told me he had an editorial today saying that Paisley must not be underestimated. What a creature he is! I think it is careerism, though I suppose it could be just sheer Cockney ignorance. Push a false theory to its logical conclusion!
April 1 Wednesday: There were developments today. I went to see Kay who told me that Liverpool Trades Council were contemplating a conference on Ireland and I told him about our proposal in June. He thought they would fall in with it. Later Barney Morgan rang and told me that Tom Walsh [ie. the former manager of the Liverpool Irish Centre] had suggested a campaign to get the Irish constituents of MPs in the Liverpool area to write to them. He invited Barney Morgan and myself to his house and we went in the evening. We coordinated our plans entirely. He is very political. He said that now that he was no longer an employee of the Irish Centre he was less hampered, and disclosed that his sympathies were entirely Labour. He thought he could bring the GAA into the campaign against the PTA and I agreed to fix the date of our next national lobby as February 2nd. He thought that if his plan succeeded in Liverpool he might get Birmingham to do the same. We went to the Irish Centre and saw Brian Stowell and Finnerty, whose wife Noel Gordon met in the bookshop yesterday.
We were talking about the visit of Cardinal O Fiaich [ie. to the hunger-striking prisoners in Long Kesh], with Paisley close on his heels, and Finnerty (who lectures in chemistry at the Polytechnic) recalled that his grandfather had a small shop in Bootle. When the Orangemen used to march they would halt momentarily outside Finnerty’s shop and after the most deafening drum roll would shout, “Paddy the pig”. One year he got a shotgun to them and was fined £20 for discharging it.
April 2 Thursday: I did little enough today, but the weather being dry I mowed the front lawn – this was surely never done in April before – and began work on the back garden.
April 3 Friday: Again little done, but a trifle more gardening. I retired early, having to get up.
April 4 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.5 to Euston and called in to 283 Gray’s Inn Road [ie.the Connolly Association office]. The Central London branch was holding a committee meeting, so I went for lunch at the Italian restaurant and then went to Collinson Wood to speak at the Surrey District CP educational lecture on Partition. Pat Bond had been there a month ago and only six attended. But there were twelve. Ken Brinson was there: I thought he had gone with Sid French [ie. by leaving the CPGB] and was very glad to learn that he had not. Apparently he was a friend of Noel Harris’s (now ACTT organiser in London) and told of the trickeries of the “Officials” [ie. the Official IRA and Sinn Fein]. One man was perturbed: he thought the CPGB and CPI favoured them rather than the “Provisionals”. Ken Brinson denied this on behalf of the CPI and I confirmed it, tactfully saying nothing about the CPGB. When I got back to King’s Cross Noel Gordon told me that the London District CPGB are holding a “grand Irish night” which is to all intents and purposes Clann na hEireann. And mad Marion Banks had told Steve Huggett that they are thinking of picketing the Irish Embassy over neutrality. I am going to oppose this nonsense. I see they are at the same thing in Birmingham.
April 5 Sunday: Barney Morgan telephoned to say that Chipping Street school [ie. associated with Jim Larkin’s birthplace in Liverpool] is being demolished. A new one has been built just across the back entry. I asked him to see if he can get photographs.
April 6 Monday: More news from London. Noel Gordon says that without his being informed, though he is on the committee, the Withdrawal Committee are going ahead with a Trade Union conference in the summer and Myant has organised a committee which meets once a week at the “Morning Star”. He found this out by accident when he met one of the Withdrawal people in the street. I am quite sure that Myant wants to replace the Connolly Association with something more pliable. His difficulty is going to be policy. Barney Morgan called and told me that there was a packed CND meeting on Wednesday night and that EP Thompson referred to the drive to secure bases in Ireland. Noel told me two other things. Dobson, the MP who now fills the Holborn seat instead of Lena Jeger, is sponsoring our June conference and wrote a letter saying he was anxious to attend. Also Lamond wrote a very nice letter congratulating the Connolly Association for taking up the issue of neutrality of Ireland [It is unclear who Lamond was]. I am going to Dublin tomorrow because of the ITGWU thing but would be as well pleased to remain here. I think there is a fight coming.
April 7 Tuesday (Dublin): I went to Chester and Caergybi, and who should I meet on the boat but Tony Coughlan who was returning from Germany. He said that my paper was reasonably well received [ie. at the Halle University conference on “Ireland: Culture and Society” in the DDR]. That fellow Mitchell was there. “I see he’s changed his opinion about Shakespeare,” says he, adding somewhat compassionately, “I don’t think Desmond knows much about recent developments in Marxist aesthetics.” What I do know I consider largely chatterboxery.
April 8 Wednesday: I rang Michael Gill and made an appointment for tomorrow, and later called to Buswell’s and saw Lee Levenson with Andree Sheehy-Skeffington, whom I had not met before. She seemed a very decent woman. I told her I knew Owen but that we did not always see eye to eye. “I know,” she said sweetly, and I suppose it could be said of almost anybody Owen Sheehy-Skeffington had known [Owen Sheehy-Skeffington, 1909-1970; Trinity College French lecturer and Senator; an independent left liberal activist; son of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington who was murdered in 1916]. Later I saw her again and Joe Bowers appeared.
April 9 Thursday: I met Michael Gill and Colin Craker. I will try and get a final MS for September. Later I saw Michael O’Riordan and Cathal and Helga. Maire Comerford rang and said Uinseann Mac Eoin’s account of her was wrong and she wanted to see me. Later Daltún O Ceallaigh called with Deirbhle.
April 10 Friday: I had lunch with Cathal after ringing Eddie Cowman, who is now in Clantarf. Tony Coughlan had gone for a meeting in Galway. Eddie and I met in O’Connell Street but he came out to Dundrum and stayed the night. He seems to have settled fairly well and has joined the Labour Party. He now drives a car.
April 11 Saturday: In the afternoon Eddie Cowman drove me to Sandyford to see Maire Comerford. We asked what was wrong with Uinseann MacEoin’s chapter. “Everything,” she says. But Eddie afterwards thought the real trouble was that it was Uinseann MacEoin’s house that Stephen Hayes was imprisoned in. Tony Coughlan came back but Eddie stayed the night again. Maolachlann O Caollai, who was also at Halle, called in. He had given a paper about the Irish language and its destruction during the 19th century. Only 7-8 people were at the meeting in Galway. Pat Powell is in hospital with shingles and Daithi O’Bruadair is away.
April 12 Sunday: It rained nearly all day. In the evening Tony Coughlan brought in an East German Professor– Rossell I think his name – the holder of the only chair of Celtic in Eastern Europe, at the Humboldt University in Berlin [correctly, Professor Martin Rockel, who had spoken at that year’s Halle conference]. Cathal came up on his bicycle. McCaollai came, also Micheál O Loingsigh and Eileen Ní Loingsigh. Rockel told us that young people in Germany take no notice of the fact that unemployment has been abolished and knowing that youngsters in the “West” are free to travel, want similar freedom. Micheál O Loingsigh thought that before long there will not be a governable country in the world. This apropos of the Brixton anti-police riot.
April 13 Monday: I had lunch with Desmond Geraghty and McCarthy. I told them of the arrangements I have made with Michael Gill. According to Daltún O Ceallaigh Michael Mullen has gone over completely to Sinn Fein the Workers Party, and soon joining that party will be the main door to official position in the ITGWU. He says that to make matters worse SFWP have “taken over” the Labour History Society, using their characteristic method, flooding the AGM with members who join on the door. Now I get the impression that the ITGWU are dragging their feet on transferring the archives to the National Library. I wonder if the plan is to give them to the Labour History Society who are trying to build up an archive. In the evening I had a meal with Noel Moynihan and Bernadette. Later Eddie Cowman came, finally driving me out to Dundrum and having a sip of whiskey with Tony Coughlan.
April 14 Tuesday: I spent the morning in the National Library and explained the situation to O Luanaigh. I called out to 24 Belgrave Road and saw Egon, Conor and Bebhinn [ie. children of Cathal and Helga MacLiam]. When I got back to 111 Meadow Grove a phone call came from Noel Gordon. His mother has died suddenly, and he leaves for Belfast tomorrow. Moreover, he does not know when he will be back. To make matters worse there has been a muddle over the Michael O’Riordan social.
April 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): I took a taxi to Dun Laoire and returned to Liverpool. The customs were on strike and unlimited liquor could be brought in from the duty-free shop. I had offered to go to London, but Noel Gordon rang up to say that after considering it he thought Jane Tate, now fully retired, would manage.
April 16 Thursday: I went into Birkenhead, made some purchases, and collected my bicycle from where it was being repaired. We are going to lose Stella Bond for a month. Her mother in Devon is going into hospital and she must go to look after her father who is 91 years of age. It looks as if Steve Huggett is going to step into the breach.
April 17 Friday: I remained at 124 Mount Road and started on the garden. When I got back from Dublin I found the bay tree in blossom and sweet cicely in flower, plus the rhododendron. This must be the earliest ever, and there are over a dozen poppies several inches high that have wintered it out.
April 18 Saturday: I did some more gardening, but in the evening went to Warrington with Barney Morgan. On the way we called in to Cllr. Doswell who said the Trades Council will back our conference. I was telling Barney about SFWP who had gone to Fine Gael members of Daltún O Ceallaigh’s union to try to prevent his political activities. This apropos of the same people who had appeared in the Irish Centre with “stickie” lilies [ie. selling Easter lilies on behalf of Official Sinn Fein/IRA]. He had seen Tom Walsh, who is anxious to meet Michael O’Riordan.
April 19 Sunday: I did little today but work on the paper. It has turned dull and cold. I spoke to Pat Bond.
April 20 Monday: In the afternoon Noel Gordon rang from Belfast. He hopes to be back at the weekend. His father has gone to Scotland over the holiday but returns tomorrow. The weather was bright again today, but with a cold Northeast wind.
April 21 Tuesday: I continued with the paper, under some difficulty because Tony Coughlan’s copy only arrived today and there is nothing from Peter Mulligan or Dómhnal MacAmhlaigh [ie. the Irish writer in Northampton, who had begun to contribute a regular monthly column to the “Irish Democrat”].
April 22 Wednesday: Michael O’Riordan arrived and Barney Morgan met him at the boat. We met outside the Central Hall, and with Tom Walsh did the tour of Liverpool Irish places of interest, all of which greatly intrigued Michael. In the afternoon Barney Morgan, who took a day off, drove Michael round the Wirral while I got on with the paper.
In the evening we had a full meeting. Kay was there. Also Cllr.Doswell who had been talking to Eddie Loyden [Eddie Loyden,1923-2003, Labour MP for Liverpool Garston] who told him of the St Patrick’s night social at the Welsh Hall. Michael Kelly was there and Michael Mortimer – about 30-35 in all, though there were certain cross-currents, from the New CP and ultra-left tendencies. Michael O’Riordan stayed with Barney Morgan.
April 23 Thursday (London): I accompanied Michael O’Riordan to London. In the afternoon he went to see Gordon McLennan and addressed the Connolly Association meeting in the evening. None of Furlong’s crowd, on whom George Smith had relied, showed his face, but Tom Durkin was there and in his speech complimented the Connolly Association. He has somewhat changed his view. Bert Ward was there, and all the usual people – about 55, somewhat fewer than we had hoped. But the atmosphere was quite different from that in Liverpool, showing how years of work brings consensus.
April 24 Friday: In the evening we had a social in honour of Michael O’Riordan, which was quite well attended. Tadhg Egan, Tom Durkin, Bill Hardy and all the regulars were there, and this time O’Riordan praised the Connolly Association.
April 25 Saturday: The weather is wet and abominably cold. I thought I saw sleet late at night but it may have been large rain drops. Philip Rendle and I were to have gone to Hammersmith but did not. We had a drink in King’s Cross station, and he said virtually nothing, merely asking the question, “Did O’Riordan say anything about the British party?’ “Only what he always says.” I am aware that the Political Committee is shortly to discuss Ireland – I have not been consulted. I know there are other schemes afoot. O’Riordan told me the CPI has invited Bert Ward and Gerry Pocock [CPGB figures] to spend two days each in Belfast and Dublin.
April 26 Sunday: I was in Paddington with Steve Huggett. His sister Monica Haggett is doing very well as a violinist. We did quite well, especially in the Catholic Club which owing to his anti-clericalism, Michael O’Donnell (ODl) will not go into. When I reached Holborn Noel Gordon and Helen McMurray were back.
April 27 Monday: I had intended to go to Bournemouth, but hearing radio reports of snow all over the country I decided not to do so. We held the Standing Committee in the evening. Donal Kennedy has several weeks holiday and is going to help in our office. He is also going to run a “folk club” for us.
April 28 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley and read the proofs and noted that snow was still lying in the fields round the town. In the lowlands it had melted and I doubt if I ever saw such substantial flooding as there was in Leicestershire. At Liverpool it felt distinctly milder. The fierce bite was out of the wind. I don’t know whether it snowed here.
April 29 Wednesday: I went into town to make some purchases. Barney Morgan is away but will be back in time for Friday’s demonstration.
April 30 Thursday: I spent most of the day chasing Doswell who is caught up in the preparations for the march against unemployment which begins tomorrow. I seemed just to miss him every time I telephoned. He must have been in and out like a fiddler’s elbow! I learned that Barney Morgan is returning late tonight. I learned that with Donal Kennedy’s help Noel Gordon has written the envelopes for the conference. The weather continues harsh – I suppose the temperature would be little over 50’F. The sky is overcast, very dark, and a chilly Northwest wind blusters and gusts. They are not going to have good marching. Nevertheless, the Victoria plums have set and I have hope for the damsons. The tree has blossomed for the first time this year. The sweet cicely is growing as if it was indifferent to the weather, throwing up bushel after bushel of white flowers. The crab has not yet blossomed. The bay is in full flower, the rhododendron getting towards the end. There is thus a sort of gap between the things which flowered early and are getting over, and those which would have flowered but for the inclement weather. But about 20 poppies have come through the winter and at present look healthy. But I can’t get on the ground owing to the bad weather. There are more weeds than ever.
May 1 Friday: I met Gloria Devine at Lime Street [She was an old CA member and widow of “Irish Democrat” contributor Pat Devine]. Jane Tate had intended to come but is in bed with a bad cold. We went down to the Pier Head. John Gibson was there and John Kay. Barney Morgan arrived late. There were about 5,000 to see off the anti-unemployment march. The marchers were warmly applauded when they came in. Among them were two “punks” (or so I understand they are called) with green and red hair raised like a cock’s comb. I understand they were from Birmingham, a “barbarous nook” in the Midlands. Two youngsters had bare knees sticking out of torn jeans. I think they will be sorry for the exhibitionism if the cold weather continues, for even now there is a threat of snow, though today was brilliantly sunny. Barney introduced me to Father MacNamara (from Southport but no relation of the MP) who is a curate at Mount Carmel. He had read my books and is wondering about joining the Connolly Association. Gloria Devine walked to the airport, but we drove out, picked her up, took her to Barney Morgan’s and then to some relatives.
May 2 Saturday: The cold weather continues. I can do nothing in the garden, which is wilder than ever. At about 5 pm. Barney Morgan telephoned to say that Orangemen had attacked the H-Block marchers (mostly English people of the ultra-left and “Troops Out”) and smashed the windows of a bus which had brought pipers from Glasgow. This is the first sectarian riot in Liverpool since the war. I imagine it is Paisley’s work. He was in Liverpool last Friday week. When we were going into the Cathedral crypt with Michael O’Riordan a priest told us that he had pulled some strings with Radio Merseyside to keep publicity down to a minimum. But the London papers reported Paisley’s speech.
I went into town and we called on Larry Nolan, a councillor in Huyton who told us that Orange lodges had just been established in suburban areas where they had never existed before. He also said that the AUEW had refused a booking from the H-Blocks Committee. We went on to St Helens where we met a man called O’Shaughnessy from Clonmel. He promised to assist. We then went to Warrington Irish Club.
May 3 Thursday: In the afternoon Barney Morgan rang up in some alarm. He had been in the Irish Centre and heard news about yesterday’s ructions. The H-block Committee told him that as a result of a threatening telephone call from the Orangemen the AUEW had “banned all Irish meetings”. Now we have a booking for June 6th. At first I thought of calling in person to pay the fee, which is done a week before the meeting, but decided against it. I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre and we turned over the situation on our way to St Helens where we missed our man, Peter Lenihan, who has moved. Barney told me that he did not place much reliance on the man who told him about the AUEW.
May 4 Monday: I did little today though it was bright. It was too cold for operations in the garden. I got together the references for the Halle publication.
May 5 Tuesday: By contrast, today was crowded. I went to see Doswell first and took him the proof of the conference invitation. Then I went to see Kay. I can see the possibility of problems ahead. He agreed that Orangeism was reactionary but asked what about the decent Orange supporter who had been brought within the Labour movement. This had happened of course thanks to a rigid economism in relation to Irish immigrants, and this is precisely what history looks like challenging, and I can see his dilemma [“economism” in Greaves’s use of the term refers to the tendency to concentrate on economic issues and neglecting or ignoring political ones relevant to people]. I must make sure that it is not mine. I declined his invitation to attend a caucus meeting of CP members of the Liverpool Trades Council. I hate caucus politics, though of course I have no objection to preliminary discussion. The binding of people to vote previous to the main meeting is objectionable, and I remember Billy McCullough telling me that the CPNI only bound their people by political understanding and would not touch caucuses. At the same time the Liverpool CP is so immeasurably superior to the London that I do not want to reject the cooperation they offer even if it is not always exactly what I would wish. These things are dynamic, not static.
In the afternoon Barney Morgan called and we went to see Jack Holland, secretary of the Wirral Trades Council. He promised to cooperate. We then went to see Tom Walsh at his house. He had been in Northampton and did not know about Saturday. He thought, as we had ourselves in mind, constituting some kind of regulatory organisation of the Irish that would prevent foolish things like Saturday’s march. He had heard from a journalist of the Paisley meeting in Everton. She was terrified. At one time while Paisley was denouncing the Catholics half the audience was on its feet shouting “Yah! Yah! Yah!” as if they were Ku Klux Klan hoodlums in the crazy South. I said I feared a build-up in preparation for the Pope’s visit [ie. the visit to Britain planned by Pope John Paul 2, which took place in May the following year, 1982].
May 6 Wednesday: The conference material had not arrived, but Ripley told me it was deposited at Alfreton “Red Star” at 7 pm. last night. Noel Gordon had received his. I wrote a long letter to Tony Coughlan explaining the position in Liverpool. I am of course not very sanguine over the course of events. This arms race cannot go on for ever. There is a substantial danger of a sell-out by Haughey. The Sands thing might of course raise national feeling, but the Provisionals could in my opinion be bamboozled as easily as Collins was [Hunger-striker Bobby Sands was elected MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone in April 1981 and died in the Maze prison hospital the following month, on 5 May, the day prior to this Journal entry]. For the imperial position of the Labour Party is as unmistakable as that of the Tories.
May 7 Thursday: I voted (Labour) early. Then I learned the circulars were at Lime Street and collected them. At 5 pm. Barney Morgan called and took 40 to Jack Harland. Noel Gordon rang saying the office telephone is out of order again.
May 8 Friday: I posted off 140 odd circulars for the conference of June 6th, and then took 200 in to Doswell. Pat Bond and Noel Gordon telephoned. An antirrhinum which has weathered the winter came into flower – very early.
May 9 Saturday: A shocking dull dark wet day. For all that the garden is advanced. The rowan started to flower. I posted off some more circulars. Pat Bond tells me that the Belfast hunger strike dominates the thinking of the London Irish. Noel Gordon is speaking to the Surrey CP.
May 10 Sunday: Though not so wet, it was dull and damp. Nothing can be done in the garden. This is the worst year yet. Noel Gordon telephoned. Only four people turned up, one of them Bert Ward. He could not get them to understand the all-Ireland outlook and kept asking, “How are we to get the majority in the north to agree to a united Ireland?” He just can’t think in any but Partition terms. He is of course going to Ireland with Gerry Pocock who knows nothing about it and did not even acknowledge my letter suggesting a discussion on the subject. Noel Gordon says the Withdrawal Committee has suspended its sittings for the duration of the hunger strike, but that they are talking about a conference on June 20. He does not know whether this is Myant. Also the Young Liberal who started the thing has joined the Labour Party, so it is to be doubted whether they will meet in the Liberal Club. Oh! These god-damned amateurs, and the stupidity on all sides! I wrote a number of letters to Pat Bond asking that Joe Bowers be put on the free list, to Uinseann MacEoin telling him of Maire Comerford’s attack on his book she wants me to publish, and asking if he wanted to reply simultaneously, to Roy Johnston for his copy, to Kay Beauchamp enclosing a review for the “Liberation” paper, to a man in Brighton who wants to run an annual TA Jackson memorial lecture, and a few others.
May 11 Monday: While there was still a nip in the interminable East wind, this was the first day when one could walk about outside in reasonable comfort. The metabolism responded and I got quite a bit of cleaning up done.
May 12 Tuesday: Today was even better. Indeed the temperature was well up in the sixties, and civilised life possible! I made a strawberry bed and some other preparations. In the afternoon Barney Morgan called and we went first to St. Helens and at last tracked down Peter Lenihan who lives of the edge of a large lake in a place called Carr Mill. Last time we went there Barney called at a house and asked, “Is this Fisherman’s Cottage?” “It is,” said a boy of 14. “Is Mr Lenihan in?” “No. He did live here but he left.” “How long ago?” “Two years, or eighteen months.” Tonight we found another house we had not noticed in the darkness. It was not ten yards away. We spoke to Mrs Lenihan who seemed a very decent woman, but all these Lancashires are friendly and hospitable, unlike the abominable Cockneys. Her husband was on the unemployment march. He had gone to Stafford but would be back. Apparently the family whose young son misinformed us are recent arrivals who are promoting water ski-ing on the lake. They have driven away the traditional swans and are destroying the banks and causing general pollution but making plenty of money. The real name of their house is Fishing Cottage, and Lenihan is at Fishing Cottage Lodge. The ski man is very much opposed to Lenihan because of his association with “environmentalists” opposed to the money-making. She thought we were deliberately misled.
We then went to a place called Upholland. I was quite surprised to find a completely rural area which I had not realised existed in South Lancashire. It was indeed quite pleasant, every bit as rural as South Wirral, and full of cyclists who I think were engaged in some kind of race. We called to see a man called Charles Denton, secretary of Skelmersdale Trades Council. He had a head of Lenin on his desk. We had been offered tea at Carr Mill; it was made here. He quickly revealed that he was in the NCP [ie. the New Communist Party] and I think was surprised at our visit. However, I told him that we got his name from Rooney, who he told me had resigned from the secretaryship of the Northampton Trades Council. He showed me a statement by the NCP which I could only criticise on technical grounds. He had joined the CPGB during the war but left when they started their campaign in favour of Russian “dissidents”. He was inactive when Sid French came and recruited him. I thought, however, that he was a very sincere dedicated person, but like so many of them lacking that touch of realism that comes from a sense of humour. He said that Savage had left the NCP and joined the Labour Party, but “was doing good work in it.” And the English say, “the Irish can’t agree!” I told him I regretted the split and would do nothing to make it worse. “Well,” he said, “someday there’ll have to be reunification.” Barney Morgan dropped me at Lime Street. I bought a couple of whiskies and had a look at it [ie. the New Communist Party publication]. In content I thought it superior to the “Morning Star”, but there was a certain crudity of presentation. It suggested that the collapse of the London Cooperative Society was due to the bad advice given the CP by a lady called Meeking. I must ask Chris Sullivan about this, but I suspect another Irene Brennan person, totally unqualified but able to run a caucus. We heard on the radio that another prisoner had died.
May 13 Wednesday: At last I got some substantial gardening done and set out the strawberry bed. The weather was warm and dry.
May 14 Thursday: I did some more gardening but it turned showery in the early evening after threatening all day. Noel Gordon told me that there had been arson in Ilford and that some character with an Irish accent had telephoned the police saying that the “James Connolly Movement” had been responsible. As a result people had been telephoning him. The BBC said there was no bomb and the message was probably a hoax, but the London radio kept playing it, so in the end I advised Noel to put out a statement, for our own members were telephoning. It will be interesting to see if the “Morning Star” will publish it. Noel is not too hopeful of the London conference. There is too much else on, and Pat Bond says he hates conferences and has “no enthusiasm for it”. Really for such a good worker he’s a big baby! And then just after my writing this, Noel Gordon rang up saying Pat Bond is “going off his head”. Apparently he wants Noel to get “police protection” for the premises lest somebody attacks them in the night. I advised him to telephone the police, tell them of the fears, and ask them to keep a bit of a look-out.
May 15 Friday: Rain threatened but did not materialise so that I was enabled to get the marrow bed ready. Noel Gordon told me that West Derby Labour Party are sending four delegates, and Mrs Lenihan says two are coming from St. Helens. I sowed runner beans. Things are still early. The loganberries are in flower. The gooseberries are big enough to be eaten, but not yet ripe enough, and the blackcurrants and Victoria plums are set. The damson blossomed for the first time, but I cannot see any fruit. I think that sudden cold spell hit it.
May 16 Saturday: The afternoon was fairly warm and though rain threatened it kept off. I cleared a bed in the garden and sowed tomatoes, physalis, broccoli and radishes. But when I purposed to resume at 7 pm. a thunderstorm broke – only two peals but a load of hailstones which lay melting after the storm had passed, and it turned quite cold. So operations were interrupted. The midges, gnats or mosquitoes are savage this year – last year they were not bad, the year before very bad. Everywhere is sodden and there has been no really cold weather to dispose of them. Noel Gordon said the dinner they held last night was a success. There was a letter from Pat Bond, and Tony Coughlan said he had sent his copy for the paper.
May 17 Thursday: It was showery, so little could be done in the garden. I read the Independent Television book on Ireland. Barney Morgan rang up saying Merlyn Rees was going for withdrawal. The whole thing is breaking open and that ass Brennan and the dog Myant have left the CP perched on thin air. Noel Gordon rang about the same broadcast. He told me he made £70 on a jumble sale and £160 on a dinner. That will help keep the wolf from the door – only help, I fear. I managed to get 3/4 hour in the garden as it stopped raining in the evening, but then came in to listen to the “Elijah” on the radio. It brought back memories over 60 years old – of AEG (when CEG was away) training a ladies’ choir in “Lift thine eyes”, I think for an Eisteddfod or some such competition. This would be in 1916 or 1917. In the background somewhere in those days was Madame Maggie Evans, who ran the “Guitar Ladies’ Choir,” but what about her I never remembered. Then there was, “He watching over Israel” which CEG many years later (1927?) entered for the Mold Eisteddfod and came in third. I think that was the time when we went in charabancs and one of the drivers got drunk and frightened them all out of their lives.
Of course I’m not very sympathetic to Mendelsohn’s music. The “Elijah” has plenty of drama. And radio performances are unsatisfactory as the full range of sound is not possible. The pianissimo you can’t hear, the double forte is a roar. And you can’t see who is doing anything. It is easy to see the baroque influence, I think Handel rather than Bach, despite Mendelsohn’s rediscovery of Bach. I would never have listened to this tonight but for having recently read Miss Shepherd’s book. Late at night I had a word with Barney Morgan who told me Doswell was worried about leaflets put out by the “Ad hoc Committee” on the H-Block. They are demanding “solidarity” with the H-block prisoners and the victims of the Deptford fire! Barney will try to get a copy from Cyril Taylor at whose house Doswell has been tonight.
Reverting to “Elijah”, I followed it from CEG’s score. Now I know I heard it, and from the markings in the score CEG must have conducted it, but I do not remember any occasion when he did so. Perhaps it was in the pre-1914 period when he ran his orchestra.
May 18 Monday: A shocking day – it would have done small credit to November, dark, gloomy and wet, chilly too. Noel Gordon has sent me two packets of lay-out paper, but neither has arrived. Apparently the recent letter bombs started some trade dispute in the West Central post office and all our mail is locked up there. So I had to go to town in the rain and look for some. I started work on the paper. It was useless to think about gardening. Barney Morgan called past. There is a meeting of the Socialist Health Association to which he took an invitation.
May 19 Tuesday: A fine day, but I was too busy with the paper to do any gardening. I am getting desperately behind. Both the Diervilla and Laburnum are in flower.
May 20 Wednesday: Barney Morgan telephoned. He is a great man
for picking up rumours as he talks to everybody, and can’t stick to the
point and so never gets anything sold [ie. the “Irish Democrat” monthly paper]. He now says the Socialist Health Association secretary told him the Liverpool Labour Party is holding a conference on Ireland in July. Either it is not a conference or it is ours, which we are running jointly with the Trades Council. Or so I would think. Donal Kennedy had caught the “Times Out” and his name is in the “Irish Post”. He sent me something that looked like a leaflet which he wanted printed. I rang Noel Gordon who told me he was ringing him up all day. He thinks he has got the entire Establishment on the run!
I went to the Irish Centre. Brian Stowell was there and Finnerty of Southport Labour Party, of Irish parents, but with only a holiday acquaintance with Irish affairs – politically very naive, supports the EEC and thinks the Labour Party is “tearing itself apart”. This is the BBC argument for backing Healy against Benn [ie. Denis Healy and Tony Benn, then in contention for the Labour Party leadership, which Michael Foot obtained as a compromise candidate in 1981]. I would not have thought anybody took any notice of their nonsense. He thinks Ireland should have “normal class politics” and deplores the presence of “two capitalist parties”. Brian Stowell tried to explain it to him, and later Barney Morgan came and did the same. He is an industrial chemist.
May 21 Thursday: I finished the paper and got in two hours in the garden. The place is infested with mosquitoes, and I had to change into jeans for protection. I have had trouble with this for several years, but not I think so early. A telephone call from Daphne Greaves told me that DzB has had another stroke and is on the verge of a coma. She would not know me if I went. Kay told me that Bill Ward in Manchester would like a word with me.
May 22 Friday: I got two and a half beds dug today and transplanted cauliflower and sowed leeks and parsley. Noel Gordon rang up and said Bert Ward had invited him to join his committee. He has been told that the Banks woman never attends, and sometimes only four are present. He is not too keen, and I didn’t blame him. I remember Billy McCullough telling me years ago how the CPNI would have nothing to do with caucuses, and this in effect is what Bert Ward and Myant are running. When I rang Bill Ward he asked me would I join a Manchester “International Committee” which was going to concentrate on Peace in South Africa and Ireland. He thought there was “more interest” in Ireland and that the CPGB should “do something”. When I mentioned the conference on June 6th he said “Connolly Association?” in a tone of voice that indicated that he wished it had been drowned at birth. He had much to do with the mismanagement that drove Lenny Draper out of Manchester. They were recruiting “Provisionals” and “Officials” and listening to them instead of Lenny and playing one against the other, the Irish being unable to agree. I think in each case they see “opportunities”. The English do not want too much work. What they have always wanted is that when the Irish do the work, they get the “credit”. They cannot conceive, nor could they conceive when Engels tackled them about over a century ago, that the Irish might consider themselves entitled to their own organisation. I also heard that the builders asked for a speaker. The CP sent Bill Ward, who made such a mess of it that there were loud complaints. Anyway, I told Ward that I was available for consultation at any time but was joining no committee. Noel Gordon says he will “wriggle out of it.” Bill Ward asked me if I would speak at a school or seminar in the autumn. I said I would.
May 23 Saturday: I spent practically the whole day on the garden. But it had rained all night and the ground was sodden. Everything was twice the labour. Noel Gordon rang up. He had gone to a CP branch meeting last night in Walthamstowe. They were all middle-aged and middle-class and they had not a clue. One of the women said, “I simply can’t understand how anybody would starve himself to death.” So she has no notion of the terrible compulsive force of Irish History. But he met one Newry woman who said she would join the Connolly Association. She had never heard of it (the result of Myant’s boycott) but her husband had. Then he spoke to Philip Rendle, who told him that at the last meeting of Bert Ward’s committee Ward had a copy of the “Irish Democrat”, unopened as it arrived in the post. It was the free copy we send to Gordon McLennan [ie. the CPGB General Secretary]. He had simply had it sent on to Bert Ward. The subject is farmed out to somebody who, however well-meaning, is incapable of doing more than go through the motions, and that’s himself quit of it. An invitation came from the Labour Committee on Ireland for me to speak in Manchester on Thursday. It is rather a nuisance as I have to be up early on Friday to go to Ripley. Another thing Noel Gordon said was that the Banks woman no longer goes to the committee – she doesn’t need to. But this information led me to wonder if Bert Ward is not really a decent romantic who will be sadly disillusioned. I hope it was not his own £200 that he donated. Sometimes one can suspect deep design when what exists is only well-meant nonsense. I wonder how it could all be got out of.
May 24 Sunday: I spent the morning and afternoon in the garden and certainly made some difference in it. But about 7 pm a heavy shower interrupted me, and it made the ground too sodden. I hardly remember it being so wet underfoot.
May 25 Monday: What a miserable day, dribbling rain, no proper downpour and be done with it. I could not touch the garden. It did not clear but stopped at about 5 pm. and one solitary cyclist pushed out hopefully. In the evening I listened to Handel’s “Samson.” It took me back over 50 years. I was not really surprised at how well I remembered it. Handel was my first musical enthusiasm, and I would say that apart from arias from the operas which CEG used to sing, this oratorio triggered it off. I remember hearing it in the old Philharmonic Hall with what seemed thousands of individual electric lamps in rows around the gallery, and the boxes below. I think I was in the gallery. Usually CEG used to have a box, provided I am sure at a discount or even free for services rendered. This would possibly be around 1928. I remember disagreeing with an aunt from Australia when she described Samson as “frowsty”. I had the score I read tonight and used to play the arias (very badly) on the piano. Tonight’s performance was complete and I was irritated at only having the Leeds score, which not only omits dozens of things but abridges others. Some things were transposed to avoid key clashes, in other cases the clash was left. The performance, on gramophone records, did not please me. It was neither an authentic period piece nor a good modern rendering. I do not believe that modern singers can decorate Baroque music because it is not their natural medium. Of course I have grown out of the “spirit” of Handel’s music, but can only admire his remarkable power of vocal dramatization, far superior to Mendelsohn’s. The singers seemed to me weak on pitch, which I put down to a lack of semi-decoration. But “Honour and Arms”, which CEG used to sing at our musical evenings, was enjoyable.
May 26 Tuesday: Although the forecast was rain, it did not in fact come, apart from a light shower. But the ground is too sodden for digging. I sowed seeds – more marrows, some crab seeds got in Wales, cabbages, pamphrey, cauliflowers, broccoli, colcannon, coriander and – deadly nightshade!
May 27 Wednesday: It started to rain at about midday and kept it up till evening. Even if tomorrow is dry the ground will be sodden and I must go to London on Friday. In the evening Sean Redmond rang up to say that he was appointed one of Cluskey’s election agents and could not come over next week [ie. he was working for Irish Labour politician Frank Cluskey TD]. Geraghty was unsuccessful in becoming ITGWU vice-president. Sean says that though Cluskey is “not much shakes”, if he is ousted by Dr O’Connell [ie. Irish Labour TD John O’Connell], then Michael O’Leary will be leader and “that will leave it to Liberty Hall.” Cluskey is WUI [ie. Workers’ Union of Ireland]. According to Sean Redmond Liberty Hall is more “sticky” than ever, and I see Gerry Fitt and Paddy Devlin have disgraced themselves [ie.by criticising the H-Block hunger-strikers]. Noel said on the phone that he was speaking with Jimmy Stewart and that he said that RCWP [Republican Cubs the Workers Party], the Northern equivalent of SFWP, was decimated in the Six County election, losing four of their six councillors. Sean Redmond thought we should stick to Tony Coughlan and Daltún O Ceallaigh [ie.as speakers for the Connolly Association conference] and save money.
May 28 Thursday: In the evening Barney Morgan called and drove me to Manchester. I had been with him at the Irish Centre last night and arranged this. We went to [word unclear]where Niall Power, formerly in London, had arranged a meeting of the Labour Committee on Ireland. There were to have been two Labour Councillors also but there was no sign of them – typical student bungling. Instead they showed an hour-long “video tape” of the H-Blocks, a shocking thing. It it is well enough to say the Protestants are mistaken while offering them a place in an Irish community; it is another to ignore their existence. This was ghetto politics at its worst. Jimmy McGill and Lena Daly were there. I pointed this out to Lena. “But you have to remember the terrible bitterness.” “The Republicans of the past handled things differently.” She agreed. Barney Morgan pointed out the inaccuracies. Now these Labour Committee on Ireland youngsters seemed to be Trotskies to a man – I guess of the “Militant” or “soloist” brand and did not even come to have a drink with us.
May 29 Friday (London): I retired at 1 am. and got up at 6 am. to go to Ripley. Noel Gordon came after lunch, our intention being to take 1,000 papers to London. Unfortunately, the machine broke down and we could only take 600 – a nuisance.
May 30 Saturday: We went to Brockwell Park where Noel Gordon had a bookstall at the “carnival”. I saw young Andy Barr and Bill Alexander with his wife, also Dr M. [name unknown]. There was a group of mad “Revolutionary Communist Tendencies” holding a meeting. They were heckled by fascists who threw earth. Stewards were brought and threw them out. But the Asiatics who were parasitising on the Unemployment March and the H-Block issue would not discipline their meeting. They were wild men out for instant r-r-revolution. Jane Tate was there and Pat Bond, in a bad mood because I cut a song which was of appalling literary quality and politically snivelling. He’ll get over it. And Jane Tate was there together with Donal Kennedy. I was with Chris Sullivan in Camden Town.
May 31 Thursday: I went to Marble Arch at about 1 pm. as the procession was starting – the Liverpool Trades Council very conspicuous near the front [This was the annual Labour movement May Day procession]. It took me half an hour to find the Connolly Association banner held by Philip Rendle and Noel Gordon. Later others tracked it down – Donal Kennedy, Jane Tate, about a dozen in all. It was an hour or two before we moved. There must have been 100,000 people there. Indeed when we entered Trafalgar Square the last speeches were in progress and those on the platform remained as a species of courtesy to the thousands behind us who arrived after the meeting was over.
The weather turned warm last night and I wondered if it was going to take up. Certainly today was warmer and fine after one or two intermittent showers. I never recall a procession that moved more slowly, but it emerged afterwards that it was the biggest since the war, and there was an atmosphere that recalled the nineteen thirties, as if this soft, prosperity-soaked working class was going to recover its spunk. The “tendencies” had threatened a demonstration, but I heard nothing of it.
At the end of the proceedings a woman sang a song which was punctuated by rhythmic clapping from the assembly. Now the pigeons had deserted the column and had retreated to the trees from which not even the loudest bursts of applause dislodged them. But the rhythmic clapping alarmed them thoroughly and as the song went on they circled the square like flocks of starlings, almost darkening the sky.
As we passed on our way to the square, behind the Connolly Association Executive Council banner illuminated with the Post Office [ie. with a design of the GPO in Dublin] and a round tower, there were quite a few times when there was applause from Irish people on the pavement. The general atmosphere was good-humoured. Most of the enormous numbers of police which lined the route had very glum faces. But here and there would be one or two more animated who must have sympathised with the demonstration. One who joined our contingent had a little boy aged about eight or nine. He was carrying a poster which set a policeman laughing. It had the legend: “Don’t sell your job. I’ll need it. Kids against Thatcher.”
Noel Gordon told me Bob Doyle had been and spoke of the widespread dissatisfaction of the Irish in the CP with Myant’s policy. And no wonder! Bert Ward is still trying to inveigle Noel Gordon and had tried to get him to a single meeting. He also seems to be trying to act as a central reporting point to which Noel must give information on any CP branch he addresses, and your man can then put it on his list. He is going to Belfast but not Dublin.
June 1 Monday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool last night. It had been raining all day. This morning I tried to do a bit in the garden but the ground was sodden. I did a little in the evening. Cathal [ie. his friend Dublin trade union official Cathal MacLiam] told me he would come instead of Sean Redmond. But I must send him some notes. There are only four applications for the Liverpool conference in London, and only 20 for the London one. I spoke to Kay, who told me that Barry Williams is not yet back. Barney Morgan called in. Jane Tate agreed to came to Liverpool.
June 2 Tuesday: I saw Doswell around lunchtime. I see the Labour Party and Trades Council are advertising a meeting in the Central Hall on June 17th with speakers I have never heard of, who are going to call for “Socialism”.
June 3 Wednesday: I had lunch with Kay [Liverpool CP organiser]. He is a sufferer from the same disease as some of the Londoners, though he is a very pleasant character. He talked about setting up a new organisation and hoped to do it from our conference on Sunday. No previous discussion. No consideration of the propriety of manoeuvring other peoples’ work and taking over. This was the thing the London District [ie. of the CPGB; see earlier volumes]tried to do when they decided that the “broad left” consisted of Clann na hEireann, the Connolly Association and themselves. I think I dissuaded him, needless to say without mentioning my opinion of his political ethics. He was worried by the Michael O’Riordan meeting because “extreme hardliners” like John Gibson were there. He is therefore very “soft” himself and greatly admires Carrillo [ie. Santiago Carrillo, Spanish exponent of Euro-communism at the time] and the writings of Gramsci. He thought the British CP should “take up” any issue of human rights anywhere in the world, socialist countries included, and does not appear to give much heed to the dangers he might incur. I warned him that it was possible to coin the slogans for the Third World War. Now I have never idealised the socialist countries in the sentimental way common a few years ago. What I am concerned with is not having a war with them. However, we parted on excellent terms. Hard/soft must on no account be allowed to cloud the Irish question. Later Noel Gordon told me the NCP is sending four delegates. They will doubtless want unconditional support for the IRA! And Kay doesn’t want “political” status for the hunger strikers, and doubtless that will come up. However, it is possible that Kay will back the CA as a means to defeating certain ultra-lefts, though he talks of “transforming” it. The arrogance of the English CP men!
Daphne Greaves rang and told me DzG died last Wednesday. I was a little sorry I didn’t go to see her in March, but there you are. Apparently she had several more cerebral haemorrhages, lost completely the power of speech and died just before midnight. She wants to be cremated and her ashes to be buried in the grave of Harry Greaves. Yet the relations of her second husband will be attending the funeral and settling her affairs. One theory of Daphne Greaves is that she cannot remember anything since she went to Bournemouth and often in speaking to DzG she made it clear that she thought she was in Liverpool.
June 4 Thursday: I had a phone call from Tony Coughlan to the effect that he was arriving tomorrow and started to make preparations.
June 5 Friday: Tony Coughlan crossed via Holyhead. Daltùn 0 Ceallaigh and Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam] are coming tomorrow, Cathal overnight and Daltún by the “jet foil” which Barney Morgan calls the “jet fail” as it is always going wrong. Tony arrived in the evening. He had written a long and careful letter to Michael Mullen warning him about the activities of SFWP in the ITGWU [Anthony Coughlan was a member of the ITGWU at that time]. He told me that the second and third volumes of the Union history had been given to Sean Cronin, who is connected with that party. He does not anticipate a powerful result.
June 6 Saturday (London): Cathal arrived in time for breakfast and we met Jane Tate at Lime Street, where we also met Daltún O Ceallaigh. The conference was a considerable success and Kay said he had never heard so “creative and constructive an approach” as that of the speakers. Jane Tate acted as conference organiser and we were very lucky to have her. Barry Williams and Doswell were there, Savage and McEntaggart, who affirmed his unconditional support for the “Provisionals”. But the ultra-left were very muted. We then had a drink with Barney Morgan and Kay and then went on to London.
June 7 Sunday: The London conference began in the morning. It was well but not over well attended. A feature was the protests from UCATT members that they had not been allowed to debate the Irish Question. Michael Martin represented the SE London TUC and we made him one of the speakers, which pleased him well. An abominable “Provisional” girl was there who told Noel Gordon that she was going to take up a a collection. He told her she would do no such thing.
June 8 Monday: I was in the office until we had the Standing Committee in the evening. We have got our debts down to £2500 from £5,000 at the beginning of the year, thanks to vigorous activity. After the meeting Philip Rendle tried to persuade Noel Gordon to accept an invitation to join the “Irish Advisory Committee”, which he is disinclined to do. This time they want him because he needs “instructions”. And they none of them know a quarter as much as he. There has been a considerable turn to the Connolly Association by people disillusioned by Myant’s nonsense.
June 9 Tuesday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool with Tony Coughlan and in the afternoon we went out to Ness Gardens. I used to cycle there quite often around 1931-33. Later Barney Morgan came and he drove us to Parkgate.
June 10 Wednesday: I did not get much done. The day was taken up making purchases and clearing up. Betty Sinclair rang up and said Bert Ward had visited her and that he knew nothing.
June 11 Thursday: In the evening Bert Ward telephoned. I wonder how he got my number. From Kay? It would not surprise me. He said they were producing an educational “pack” – this after considerable palaver. Would I do the section on history? Who else was involved? Michael Morrisey, Madge Davison and Kath Scorer! – the imperialist economists. Would my name be published? No. Very well I would do it provided they send me the other contributions to which I will make an introduction. To my surprise (he’s a poor decent innocent, quite unable to cope with characters like Myant and Scorer) he agreed, for this is to risk giving me a kind of secondary editorial control. I doubt if it will happen. I wrote a letter to “Comment”[a CPGB bulletin] replying to a student in Newcastle who described the Republic as a “theocracy”. I also nailed my colours to the mast. This nonsense must be stopped.
June 12 Friday: In the evening Barney Morgan telephoned and we decided to go to Warrington tomorrow. I did some work in the garden. Indeed the weather is distinctly warmer. All the same I am having trouble with seed germination and there is still a plague of slugs and snails.
June 13 Sunday: Again the weather was reasonable and I did a little in the garden. In the evening Barney Morgan and I went to Warrington with Barney’s mott.
June 14 Sunday: I did very little today, or at any rate what I did do seemed to take an inordinate length of time
June 15 Monday: The weather turned cooler, but I went on with the gardening.
June 16 Tuesday: Quite cold today, but I got plenty done and reorganised the North-West garden. Barney Morgan came in during the evening. Kay had told him he proposed to back the Connolly Association. But I find it hard to get Barney on to organised work.
June 17 Wednesday: It was colder still today – the low fifties. Noel Gordon told me that Bert Ward is going round speaking at CP branches as “spokesman on Ireland for the CP”, the other speaker being Clann na hEireann. Since Ward’s knowledge is zero, these are in fact Clann na hEireann meetings. They are still trying to inveigle Noel Gordon on to their committee. I suppose after Sherlock they will treat SFWP even more seriously [the reference to Sherlock is unclear]. And at the same time Myant is running a “humanitarian” H-Block campaign! Talk about sectarianism and opportunism – playing the two ends against the middle. I think Ward is being presented as “spokesman” out of fear that some of them might regard us, if not as spokesmen, as mentors.
June 18 Thursday: Despite the cold weather I got quite a bit done in the garden. Barney Morgan called in the early evening. It was in the evening I did it.
June 19 Friday: I had a telephone conversation with Noel Gordon and I rang back after cogitating. He says Myant has arranged a meeting for July 2nd to which he wants Noel to go and Philip Rendle strongly presses him, suggesting that he is afraid to fight the CP. What is remarkable is that he has invited Ken Gill and Tony Gilbert but not Pat Bond or myself. He has prepared a document and will take it to the EC ten days later. Now he was in Belfast for two weeks and in Dublin for two hours. I presume he spent his time in Belfast with Protestant Trade Union leaders. He has probably cooked up an economist policy and wants Ken Gill to back it. Gill will thus speak for Murray [Len Murray was General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress from 1973 to 1984] and the International Committee of the TUC. Noel says that Tony Gilbert is also calling for a conference on Ireland and that Bert Ward knows about it. Also Noel understands from the former young Liberal (now in the Labour Party) who is secretary of the Committee for Withdrawal that they have a “Trade Union Sub-committee” which will hold a conference in November. At this no doubt Myant no doubt will try to launch a new organisation, like the one in Glasgow which we declined to touch. There is no doubt of the Clann na hEireann tendency, which also resembles that of the “Militant”. When I rang back I said it would be best to attend and that Pat Bond and I should go. I may have to write to Gordon McLennan. The long years of opportunism on this question are woeful to see, and I see they are at it elsewhere – preparing to attack the USSR if they go into Poland. I hope they don’t, but I do not believe that anything but strategic needs would bring them to it, and I cannot see them tolerating invigilation stations in Poland [In 1980 Lech Walesa founded the Solidarity movement in Poland and in December 1981 Army leader General Jaruzelski proclaimed martial law there].
June 20 Saturday: I have broken the back of the garden work, I suppose. Today was still very chilly, however, and not conducive to it. I did not go out.
June 21 Sunday: Today, the first day of summer, was the first summer day. The air temperature was low, with a North wind, but the sky was almost cloudless and the sun warm. I cycled to Raby Mere and Thornton Hough.
June 22 Monday: I had intended to go away into Wales for a couple of days as the paper is nearly finished and the morning promised well. But at about midday a miserable “boer” blew in from the sea and the wind being NNW I thought it might carry inland, so decided merely to go to Hawarden. Actually the sky was clearing as near as Heswall Hills station. But just outside the station my free-wheel disengaged, so I had to walk quite a part of the way back. A damned nuisance. I had a letter from Betty Sinclair.
June 23 Tuesday: I took the bicycle to the repairer. I would not have wanted to use it. The weather is as cold as ever, with the continuous North wind and no sunshine. I cannot remember having had to put on an electric fire so late. Nothing will germinate except the faithful brassicas. I brought some plant-pots indoors and may have got one or two tomatoes, but no physalis or marrows or cucumbers. This is the fifth frightful year in a row. We pay up for the early seventies! There seems to be a large reservoir of very cold air at the North pole which has not been dislodged by cyclonic action and has not yet been warmed by the sun. The Atlantic cyclones have bounced back and nearly flooded us!
Messrs Gill and Macmillan sent the revised agreement. They had overlooked it. Skelly sent an excellent review of Sean O’ Casey in the “Anglo-Welsh Review” and asked what about another book. I’m a trifle out of love with book-writing at the moment.
June 24 Wednesday: I got the bicycle back but did not think the weather pleasant enough to do more with it. It was fair in the day, though chilly, and in the evening damp and chilly.
June 25 Thursday (London): I went to London on the 1.05 and found Noel Gordon in the office. We had some discussion about what Myant is up to. The Committee for Withdrawal has subdivided. The Liberal/Troops Out Movement element plans cultural activity in October. The Trade Union Subcommittee meets in Myant’s office and Noel Gordon is at a complete loss as to who took the decision to create this arrangement. The Liberal who is now in the Labour Party rang Noel up and talked of having Michael Mullen, Matt Merrigan or Sean Redmond from the Republic and somebody (who supports Partition) from the North. The slogan is now, “To listen to Trade Unionists from both parts of Ireland”. This may result in a conference like that of Liverpool, at worst the Irish attacking each other on a British platform. Now the Connolly Association plan was to bring over representatives of the majority, and it was left to the Irish Sovereignty Movement to select its own delegates. In Myant’s scheme that is decided here.
In the evening I went to South London where McKeever and Hogan (an incredibly silly and self-opinionated Corkman) were pushing for a Clann na hEireann speaker.
June 26 Friday: Noel Gordon told me that those invited to Myant’s discussion include Tony Gilbert and Ken Gill but, as I have said, not myself. They still keep up the pressure on Noel and he finds it is getting intolerable. Philip Rendle had suggested that in view of my membership of the International Affairs Committee I should request an invitation.
June 27 Saturday: I was with Chris Sullivan last evening and tonight with Donal Kennedy. We met with a good reception in Paddington and circulation is slowly rising. I decided to write to Gordon McLennan saying I wanted to be in on the discussions. We learned that the Northern District (Newcastle) has accepted Michael Crowe’s line of policy, is strongly critical of Myant and that Michael Crowe is speaking at meetings all over the place. Is the idea to put in a block well before November’s conference?
June 28 Sunday (Liverpool): In the morning Pat Bond, Stella Bond, Noel Gordon, Helen McMurray and Philip Rendle came into the office to clear up debris – for we face the end of our lease and must move by December. I wrote to Gordon McLennan but did not tell Philip, who I think gives a very inexact account of what is going on, so that at times I wonder what his objectives are. Then I returned to Liverpool and found a letter from Betty Sinclair. She did not know that Myant had been in Belfast for two weeks but was not surprised that I was not invited to his meeting. This information enabled me to put the whole thing in perspective. Increasing pressure on the partition issue, plus the statements of Tony Benn, possibly to be accepted by the Labour leadership, have aroused alarm. Myant went to Belfast for two weeks, kept out of the way of anybody close to Betty Sinclair, but hobnobbed plentifully with Unionist Trade Union secretaries, and came back to do battle. Betty said she thinks the Partition issue cannot be avoided, but that others do not agree with her and say, “Don’t rock the boat.”
June 29 Monday: I went to Ripley and found them in confusion. I had to leave before all the corrections were dropped in and I fear the paper will be a bundle of misprints.
June 30 Tuesday: Today was largely wasted. Who should appear at 11 am. but Halliday and he stayed till 7 pm. preventing me going to a meeting Kay had called. He told me that he was in touch with Piggott and that Donald Magee is still alive, his uncle Postlethwaite having died early this year at the age of 93[Halliday, Piggott and Magee were old schoolmates of Greaves’s at Birkenhead Institute grammar school; See Vols.1 and 2 of the Journal]. He had heard I was here from the secretary of the Trades Council. He has retired now, was an USDAW official for years. I think he was a one-man delegation. He invited me to join the Labour Party.
July 1 Wednesday: The weather is still cool. The poppies which survived the winter are now flowering while the seeds dropped last year begin to sprout. Alan Morton sent me a paper on Cesalpino that he had published [Andrea Cesalpino, 1524/5-1603, Florentine physician, philosopher and botanist who made an early classification of plants]. I wrote to him and to Stratton who had sent me the agenda of the peace conference. There was news on the radio that the Labour Committee or “study group” has come out for the objective of a United Ireland. It is this that must alarm Myant. As Noel Gordon said to me, there will be considerable opposition from the Trade Unions. Myant’s interest is the CP’s position in the Unions. His going to Dublin only for two hours shows his interest in Ireland is nil.
July 2 Thursday: I telephoned Noel Gordon in the morning as I was thinking of going to London and gate-crashing the meeting. However, Noel told me he was talking with Philip Rendle last night. He told him that part of the object of the meeting is to set up a new “solidarity organisation”. “Why did you never tell me this?” asked Noel. Rendle could only mumble, and finally got out of it with a flippant, “Well, you know now.” Noel Gordon decided he would not attend. At 12.30 however he rang back and said that I had been offered a half-hearted invitation. But as I could not catch the £9 train [ie. the train which cost this price], I decided not to go. There will be serious consequences from this. In this “solidarity organisation” I think I detect the hand of Madge Davison. Noel Gordon said that Tony Coughlan has got many Trade Union signatures to a letter urging the Labour Party to oppose Partition – only one from the six counties, namely Betty Sinclair.
July 3 Friday: I heard from Noel Gordon. Philip Rendle had told him about Myant’s meeting. It seems that Ken Gill and Tony Gilbert were there and the only one to support Myant was Gerry Pocock, so he’s no good. Gill had received Tony Coughlan’s letter, for Noel Gordon had specially asked him to send it to him, and he quoted from it with effect. Noel says that Philip Rendle is cock-a-hoop, so apparently he is genuinely on our side. Tony Gilbert said that “Liberation” intended to hold a conference on Ireland in November. “There’ll be a thousand delegates.” Myant said that the Committee for Withdrawal was holding one and Gilbert was very displeased. “We’ll have to have it in January.” Now in none of these schemes is there anything but manoeuvring in British politics. They wouldn’t care if Ireland were lost at sea. Gill protested at being asked to pronounce on a nine-page document without having a chance to study it. So it looks as if my bold Myant has met with a setback. And no harm. Noel Gordon told me that he and Helen McMurray and Jane Tate were at the House of Commons last night. Noel received £50 from the South Wales miners and something from Joe Whelan [of the Nottingham NUM]. He said he had got South Wales and Kent to contribute, but that Mick McGahey and Scargill had both refused. Noel Gordon says Tony Coughlan told him that Eddie Cowman and Noel Moynihan attended a meeting of the Irish Sovereignty Movement.
July 4 Saturday: I went to London to have a talk with Noel Gordon. Philip Rendle was there but did not offer to tell me about the meeting, but was, I think, displeased that I did not ask him. My estimate is that Myant will not find a very easy passage. Apparently five of his committee will be there and I presume these include Rendle and Bert Ward. When I got back to 124 Mount Road I found Tony Coughlan’s document which he had got quite a few to sign [This was an Irish Sovereignty Movement initiative]. He told me that Joe Bowers had felt it too risky to sign it, but that Brian Anderson [ a Dublin Trade Union official] had done so, which is good, and of course he had Michael Mullen, Sean Redmond and Daltún O Ceallaigh. The weather is damp and chilly. I forget if I ever put on an electric fire in July. I think 1931 and 1946 were about the worst summers I remember, though 1954 was bad enough. This is comparable with the worst, though it is of interest that all three were followed by a good summer. Even so, things are early. The blackcurrants are almost ripe, the foxgloves nearly finished. There are mulleins in flower, as well as the Philadelphus. The greatest sight is that of some twenty biennial poppies which have weathered the winter and all of which have produced plants up to five feet high with the most resplendent shades of deep crimson, one like a pom-pom dahlia. Now the last time we had a mild winter I had one biannual poppy, also very deeply coloured and like a dahlia. That was not tall but low and very dashing. I think that if frost kills the lead shoot and the rest of the plant survives, then the growth is bushy; otherwise its enhanced root run expresses itself in extra height and size of flowers.
July 5 Sunday: The weather was not quite as bad, but even so I needed an electrical fire in the late evening. Barney Morgan rang up.
July 6 Monday: Noel Gordon sent correspondence. Betty Sinclair wrote saying that the CPI met in Dublin and Michael O’Riordan read a list of people who were not invited to the EC of the CPGB, my name being among them. She said there was considerable anger and that she was writing to Gordon McLennan. I was not too pleased at this, as I had worked out my own course of action, which was to state a policy on paper.
July 7 Tuesday: There was a telephone call from Noel Gordon. Philip Rendle had telephoned him to say that Bert Ward had told him that I was now to be invited to the EC [ie. of the CPGB]. I will put my policy in writing just the same: this is an important set-back for Myant, for it may well be that others will be invited as well. I think I will write to Myant and see if I can get him to change course and settle the whole thing by compromise in an atmosphere of sweetness and light. Why should the Irish be messed about because the English don’t know what they’re doing?
July 8 Wednesday: Noel Gordon telephoned at midday to say that the invitation had arrived by the second post. Maybe there was a nudge from Dublin. Nevertheless, I prepared a twelve-point memorandum and sent it to Gordon McLennan as if I knew nothing of the invitation. I did not write to Myant but might make proposals at the meeting. Bert Ward rang up to tell me of the invitation. How did he get my number?
July 9 Thursday: We had the Connolly Association meeting last night [ie. the meeting of the CA Liverpool branch], and Mortimer (I forget his first name), a very intelligent man in the early thirties, acted as chairman. Barney Morgan was there, plus the mott, Michael Kelly and Pat O’Doherty. He told Barney that at Kay’s meeting the day Halliday called, Kay advised all those interested in the Irish question to join the Connolly Association. This Barney told me today. Noel Gordon told me that Philip Rendle had given him Myant’s nine-page document that Ken Gill had been so hard on. It is desperate and contains such statements as that for ten years the “solidarity movement” has been in the hands of the ultra-left. I had just put down a letter from Tony Benn to Sean Redmond which Tony Coughlan had sent. “They’ll be outflanked by the Labour Party,” said Noel Gordon.
In the afternoon I cycled to Pensby to see the view over the Dee that GWD Wright [a former schoolmate; see Vol.1] told me about years ago, and to which I once took Cathal. Then I came back through Heswall and Brimstage. Later Barney Morgan called. As I have to go to London on Saturday, he will ask the mott to go to Warrington with him.
July 10 Friday: I took the day off, rode to Heswall and took the train to Buckley. Then I went to Alltami, only to find that I had left the Ordnance map at home and I did not fancy tackling the narrow roads without it. So I went to Mold and had a very pleasant lunch and went to Afon wen and Caerwys, which I had never been to before and which shows not the slightest sign of its ancient importance, but a faded coat of arms on a signpost. I then went to [Name unclear] and Halkyn, to Northop, and caught a train in the nick of time and came back. I felt tired, but not unduly. It was warm in the sun, but there was a coldness in the air. Halkyn mountain has been devastated by quarrying and dumping – an appalling mess. The area around Alltami has become rural again.
July 11 Saturday (London): I went to the conference of the “Merseyside Action for Peace”. Mary McClelland was on the door. I met George Stratton for the first time, but he said he had often heard of me from Ken Gill, possibly when he was a TASS (DATA) organiser in Liverpool before he went to Ireland. The attendance was poor. I thought that the atmosphere was too far to the left; there was too much “Comrades and Friends” and not enough “Ladies and Gentlemen”. I proposed a resolution and it was carried “nem con”. Doswell was there, very pleased with the Connolly Association conference. After that I caught the 4.5 train to London and met Philip Rendle and Noel Gordon’s father, Noel and Helen McMurray. The father is deaf and dumb and communicates by sign language, apparently using letters of the alphabet. How it is done I don’t know! I stayed in Jane Tate’s flat. She is away.
July 12 Sunday (Liverpool): I went to the CP Executive. Gordon McLennan made himself very affable. Myant was as chilly. I don’t think he likes me one bit, and I could not say I had a great grá [Irish for love or liking] for him. Philip Rendle was there and Bert Ward. When I saw the duplicated document it was clear that it had been considerably revised. He did not “introduce” it but read it, interspersing the text with occasional added decorations. He did not now call for a new “solidarity organisation”, but he simply hijacked all the work done by the Connolly Association and had the impertinence to equate us with Clann na hEireannn. He at last came out clearly against Partition and tried to persuade those present that his absurd “Don’t let the Irish Prisoners Die Committee”, consisting of himself, Ernie Roberts and a Trotsky, was the dawn of a new era. Philip Rendle said to me afterwards that this title, which was liable to annoy the Irish, was his way of jumping on the bandwagon without committing himself to the destination – my epigram; I forget what phrase he used. One part of the statement said the Provisionals helped nobody but the enemies of the Irish people. The other part proclaimed a mass movement to prevent them from dying. Irene Brennan, who was unexpectedly affable, had proposed a resolution. She speaks hesitantly and is a shadow of her former self, not able to do much harm I would say; and she probably hates Myant for ousting her. The amendment called for withdrawal and a “negotiated settlement”. I tackled her afterwards, thinking she did not understand the implications. But I was wrong. She did. She was prepared to go for IONA because she didn’t believe the Irish could win unity and independence [ie. IONA stands for “Islands of the North Atlantic”, namely Britain and Ireland, in some political arrangement together]. So the Irish must give up their independence so as to make things easier for her. The vote was 14 against the amendment,10 for, including Joe McNally’s son from Birmingham, and 4 abstentions [ie. seemingly this vote was on the resolution proposed by Irene Brennan to amend the main document]. The whole showed the high degree of clarity that exists. Cohen did not speak, nor did Gordon McLennan. I wonder if he is purposely keeping silent.
I had lunch with Philip Rendle, who did not speak because he has had so many differences with Myant. I am fairly satisfied now that Philip is not trying to “pull a fast one” on us. Then I came back to Liverpool.
July 13 Monday: Noel Gordon rang up with particulars of the Labour Party conference in Acton. Clive Soley [MP for Hammersmith North, born 1939] is speaking first, then Paddy Byrne [Labour councillor and one of the founders of the Campaign for a Democracy in Ulster (CDU)], then Flann Campbell, and then myself. He says paper sales have been good and Margaret Byrne is selling in Glasgow. I am glad she is back. She is an excellent woman. I went in to see Kay. He has set up an “Irish Committee” with Molloy running it. He is fiercely anti-26 Counties on such issues as contraception etc. At the same time there will be discussions and debates. As I said to Noel Gordon of the EC [ie. of the CPGB], “They are groping slowly forward in the right direction, through a fog of confusion.” But the contrast with the Connolly Association is pronounced. For “bei uns”, as the German refugees used to say [ie. with us, or on our side, namely in the Connolly Association], there is an allegiance to Ireland and the Irish people. Here solidarity really means – not in every case or way – gaining an advantage by talking about other peoples’ struggles.
I remember soon after Jack Woddis took over from R. Palme Dutt and I could get no interest from the CP, I said, “Then we’ll start a movement which will compel you to take notice.” And we did it, for the change of policy on the part of Benn and others is partly our work – the Irish Sovereignty Movement delegation being the catalyst. Irene Brennan said to me yesterday: “I’m afraid we’re liable to be outflanked by the Labour Party.” These stalwart solidaritarians! Just imagine Gallacher, Jackson or Dutt lowering themselves to that miserable level.
Returning to Kay, I mentioned that Doswell was interested in link-up with the Dublin Trades Council and mentioned the idea of a Larkin plaque which he was keen on [presumably to be put up at Larkin’s birthplace in Liverpool]. Kay was very sceptical, quite unlike his predecessor O’Hara. “Wouldn’t Larkin be a bit unpopular in Liverpool? What about the ‘Don’t shoot’ leaflet?” I was surprised, but then I reflected that Kay is a Manchester man, and that Doswell was brought up a few hundred yards from where Larkin was born.
July 14 Tuesday: I did not get much done – shopping for food and items for the garden and a couple of hours in the garden. The greatest waste of time is waiting for public transport. The weather is cloudy, cool and drizzly and people are saying this is the worst summer ever. The last reasonable day was the one I went to Caerwys. I saw from the “Manchester Guardian”that Kitson has persuaded two committees of the Labour Party to insert a provision for a referendum in the Irish policy. Back to bipartisanship. Tony Coughlan rang about this and I suggested he get Dublin members of the ATGWU to protest. They are the only people on whom Moss Evans and Kitson are dependent [Moss Evans was general secretary of the TGWU from 1978 to 1985. Alec Kitson was his deputy. This British-based trade union had members in both parts of Ireland, the greater number in the North]. We will tackle the Labour Committee on Ireland. I also spoke to Noel Gordon about the Long Kesh thing, which is becoming an atrocity [ie. the successive deaths of ten hunger-strikers in the Long Kesh prison H-Blocks between 5 May and 20 August 1981].
July 15 Wednesday: I did a certain amount of work on the ITGWU history. I have been puzzling over what to do about the prisoners.
July 16 Thursday: It struck me that a letter to the “Statesman”[ie, the Labour-oriented weekly “The New Statesmen”] or “Guardian” might be of some value, and started to put down a few points to include in it. I also did a little in the garden.
July 17 Friday: I did a little gardening – the weather is still cool and damp, but it was good for transplanting broccoli. Later Barney Morgan came, and we discussed the letter. Barney told me that Michael Kelly is upset because we forgot to ask him to deliver the conference report and he thought that Kay had asked us not to let him do it. Barney had assured him that this was not so, and that if we had had any such request we would have taken no notice of it, and asked Kay to mind his own business. However, it would be very unlikely that he would be so foolish. He asked me to write along the same lines and I did.
July 18 Saturday: In the evening Pat Bond rang. He knew about the EC thing. Apparently he had a long talk with Bert Ward whom he is very anxious that I should not regard as hostile. He says Ward is “beginning to notice things”. Apparently Pat Bond said it was a scandal that I was being excluded from the meetings and persuaded Ward to protest, and apparently he did! I could not say the whole transaction gave me any intense pleasure.
July 19 Sunday: I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre and we agreed to see Tom Walsh. He agreed to sign the letter I had drafted; later Barney said he followed up Tom Walsh’s idea of asking Harry McHugh and that that gentleman had agreed to see us in West Kirby tomorrow. There was a young man called Bruce Scott there, a Liverpudlian according to Barney, but sounding Dublin. He had been reading my book on Irish songs and had written a lyric he wanted published in the “Irish Democrat”. But the versification was woeful. He wants to have a talk, so I might tell him how to tidy it up.
July 20 Monday: Barney Morgan came in the morning and we visited Harry McHugh. He has been writing in the “Irish Post” complaining that the Federation of Irish Societies ruled out of order a discussion on the H-Blocks because of their no politics rule. This they deny. “Sure, he put that rule in himself!” says Barney Morgan (which he did). I did not think I had met him before, but he spoke as if we had met. He was extremely affable and signed up. Later in the day I got hold of Sean Hogan who insisted I include Havekin (who is still alive but very ill) [Alf Havekin was a leading figure in the Anti-Partition League in Britain in the late 1940s] and MacMorough Kavanagh.
July 21 Tuesday: I rang Frank Short in the morning and he agreed to his signature going in, and later through Peter Mulligan I got Dómhnal MacAmlaigh [ie. The Irish-language writer in Northampton]. Now this means we’ve most of the old Anti-Partition League leaders. I think we made a terrible mistake in not “going right in” to the APL, though I was if anything more opposed to it than the others [This is a reference to Connolly Association policy vis-a-vis the APL back in the late 1940s, early 1950s]. Pat Dooley went in and after drawing up the constitution of the London area, was thrown out and nearly had us in a libel suit with Frank Lee. Frank Short is 77, MacHugh, Hogan and Havekin must be well into their seventies.
July 22 Wednesday: I finished the paper. There was good news in the evening. The Labour Party EC has gone for a United Ireland and thrown out Kitson’s proposal for a referendum. This means the CP has indeed been outflanked by the Labour Party, as Noel Gordon said would happen, and no doubt it was a belated realisation of that fact that led Myant to move. It would be hard to think of any worse way they could have handled it, and they have paid heavily for the stupid Irene Brennan and the opportunist Myant. The trouble is that these people just don’t know what they are doing.
If today was not the worst July day I can remember what was it? This is the first year I put on my electric fire of a summer evening. Today I switched it on for a time during the day. The temperature is below 60’F. There is never any sunshine, and I can’t touch the garden.
July 23 Thursday: The weather was nearly as bad today. However, I did a little on the history. I am not getting on well at all.
July 24 Friday (London): I went to London on the 12.5, having just missed the 11.5. Noel Gordon told me that Noel Harris had called. He “wants to get involved”, which is good. I met Gerry Curran in Shepherd’s Bush and was out with him in Hammersmith. Noel Gordon’s father is staying with him, so I stayed with Gerry Curran at the “mott’s” house. There had been a Standing Committee at 6 pm.
July 25 Saturday (Liverpool): I went to the Acton Labour Party conference, where Hillary Benn (Tony Benn’s son) took the chair and Flann Campbell, myself and Paddy Byrne were the main speakers along with Clive Soley [MP for Hammersmith North]. MbC was there [name unknown], also Noel Gordon, “Hammie” Donoghue, Michael Martin and others we knew – including two BICO hoboes [ie. belonging to the British and Irish Communist Organisation].Soley said that the reunification of Ireland was nearer his heart than any other question, but his sincerity did not convince MbC – I think he was sincere enough as far as it went. He always votes the right way. They have all been studying the Irish question. Freeson sent me two long memoranda [ie. Reg Freeson,1929-2006, Labour MP for Willesden, later Brent]. But Soley would not give special category status to the Belfast prisoners, for long complex reasons, but really, I suspect, for fear of seeming “soft on the IRA”. However, the statement was available and I see they have dropped the referendum, so we will have the spectacle of the English parties wooing the Irish after all. I would like to see a big boost to organisation among the Irish at this time. I was impressed by the number of young people present. The Labour Party is rapidly growing. The “Provisionals” were there, and while one of them interrupted Soley, they were very pleased when I supported political status. Benn had lunch with me and asked questions. So did Soley, and I explained my reasons for not wanting the Labour Party to lay down too many details but be content at this stage to state the objective of a united Ireland. One or two of the old stagers remarked to me that we had come a long way from the days when we couldn’t get a question in the House of Commons. Flann Campbell drove Noel Gordon and me to Euston, where after a quick pint I entrained for Liverpool.
July 26 Sunday: I had intended to go cycling in South Cheshire as the day was dry, with broken cloud. But when I reached Bromborough station I found it closed because of engineering work on the line. I cycled to Raby, Thornton Hough and Barnston and returned to 124 Mount Road. I repotted some tomatoes and physalis seedlings but am not hopeful. It is too late.
July 27 Monday: I went to Ripley. This was the first warm day – I would say in the low seventies. There was nothing of note except that their best lino-man, Ted, has retired, a great Trade Union man, too, whom I suspect of missing out lines derogatory to the Labour Party – he is the only one there who would care, and I always pretended not to notice! [A reference to a member of the staff at Ripley Printers]
July 28 Tuesday: Another reasonable day, at least recognisably summer, though much cooler than yesterday. I went to Birkenhead for provisions.
July 29 Wednesday: I spent most of the day in the garden, again in normal late July temperatures. I transplanted cauliflowers and thinned swedes and turnips. It was impossible to put on the radio without hearing the royal nonsense. Last night the BBC failed to report the Persian earthquake – I heard of it from RTE [ie. the Irish national radio station].
July 30 Thursday: I learned from Noel Gordon that Myant’s conference is on December 14th, in the Friends’ Meeting House [on Euston Road, London]. They are talking about inviting Sean Redmond. Apparently it is being called jointly by the Committee for Withdrawal and the Labour Committee on Ireland. This man Chalk whom I suspect – he has the manner of a “slighbhin” [“sleeveen”; Irish for a deceitful character] – and the Trotskyist Fitzpatrick are with Myant on it. I wonder what the essence of it all is. It is a curious alliance. The most important thing is that it keeps the Irish out (though Fitzpatrick is Irish) and thus presents the Irish question in a way from which the English left can jockey for party advantage. I said to Noel Gordon that I thought he should demand equality of status and also urge that “Liberation”[ie. the former Movement for Colonial Freedom] be brought in.
July 31 Friday: Again the weather is tolerable, I was able to get some work done on the ITGWU thing. Barney Morgan told me that the Labour Committee on Ireland in Liverpool is holding a meeting next Wednesday and that he intends to go. I am of the opinion that what is wanted now is for the Irish organisations to break the hold of the Embassy, and it may be possible now Feehan has gone [ie. Tadhg Feehan, a former Anti-Partition League figure who was attached for years to the Irish Embassy in London]. If the main thrust on the Irish question comes from a medley of English organisations, there might come a new “Treaty” which they would accept like a shot and scrap the whole thing entirely. I must try to work out a strategy.
August 1 Sunday: I was speaking to Tony Coughlan on the telephone. He is thinking of coming over on the 17th. He told me that Chalk had written asking him to speak at the conference and he had the impression that it was simply a Labour Committee on Ireland conference. The letter stated that the Connolly Association was sponsoring it, which is untrue as yet. Obviously the others are using the Labour Committee on Ireland as a camouflage. Tony said he suspected a plot to cut out the Connolly Association. So do I. The only thing the English Left are really good at is monkey business!
August 2 Sunday: I cycled to Bromborough Station, Willaston and Queensferry, where I turned left along a road I never travelled before. I stopped for a pint at Sandycroft. This was very much a local house and one of the company wondered where I had come from. When I said Liverpool, he laughed, said his mother came from Bootle, and thought he had made a wonderful joke when he made the exhortation, “Keep the home fires burning.” I went through Kinnerton to Rossett and as far east as Parkside. I had intended going to Bangor-is-y-coed but got hungry, so went into Wrexham. There was not a restaurant or teashop open. I remembered a shop in Cefn-y-hedd and went there, where I got chocolate and some grapes. The wind was southeast and I reached Shotton nearly two hours before the train left. I cycled home. The weather was hot and dry.
August 3 Monday: I got a day on the book. Noel Gordon rang up to say that both Chalk and Gilbert are on holiday. I decided to go to London on Wednesday and made a lunch appointment with Noel Harris.
August 4 Tuesday: I did a little on the book, but the main thing was the erection of the framework of a trellis on which runner beans can grow. Barney Morgan told me that there was a “vigil” at the bombed church last night, called by the “Troops Out Movement”[ This ruined church was retained as a relic of World War 2 air attacks on Central Liverpool]. It was attacked by Orangemen and dispersed. Barney was there. The vigilators received much abuse from taxi drivers, who according to Barney are all police informers. I don’t know if they are; they may well be.
In the evening Fred Brown next door asked me to go in for a few minutes as Peggy, Jean’s sister (now in Drogheda) and Mollie were there – with grandchildren! They are the nicest people in themselves, but the backwardness of the middle class! One of Peggy’s daughters is married to a lecturer in music. That is a point of pride. I remember when they had sessions next door and deafened us with the “Old Bull and Bush”. So they have come up in the world. But their conversation is absolutely “consumerist”: what a grand caravan sight there is at Chirk; what a grand place this or that is for a holiday. And of course their attitude to Toxteth reminds me of Dj’s [a schoolmate in the early 1930s; see Vol.1] in the days of the Birkenhead unemployed riots. “I’d give them cold steel, good ‘n proper.”
August 5 Wednesday (London): I went to London, really to see Noel Harris. I called at his office and we went to lunch, he telling me he was earning £10,000 a year (which he regards as going down in the world!) and signing the bill like a lord. He wanted my advice on whether to join the CPGB. He had tackled Michael O’Riordan, saying he wished to keep his Irish card, but Michael had demurred. Ken Gill on the other hand had mapped out a glorious career for him in Britain, where he does not want to stay. I advised him to join it but to make it quite clear that he intends to go home in a couple of years and can undertake no long-term commitment that ran contrary to that, but that otherwise he will do what he can. He said he would take my advice. He objects to the opportunism of the CPGB regarding the USSR, but when I remarked that all the trouble in Eastern Europe began with Yalta (what would have happened otherwise of course we do not know – a free for all would have been worse!), to my surprise he agreed. “They just drew a line on the map.” Betty Sinclair is giving out about him because he left Prague. But he says he did so quite amicably and did work for the WFTO [ie. the World Federation of Trade Unions, to which Noel Harris had been attached while working for a period in Prague after losing his Trade Union job in Ireland] since he got to London against the wishes of the CPGB. He says that in Eastern Europe a pretence is kept up that there were revolutions in Poland, Hungary etc. “on the model of the glorious October revolution” and that because of this myth they can’t see straight. I had not known of this myth, but it did not surprise me. I once said to Tony Coughlan that the measures taken in these countries indicated substantial opposition to the government, and even in Russia there must be some. He spoke of Gerry Pocock who was in Prague and became intensely disillusioned and became very anti-Soviet. When I saw him at the EC I noticed that mysterious physical degeneration I have frequently seen in people who lose political direction. Kemmy is like it [presumably Jim Kemmy, the Limerick Labour TD]. I also suggested that Noel Harris should join the Connolly Association and the Antrim-men’s association. He had heard of my break with the ITGWU and said that (while admitting his mistakes) his debacle in Dublin was partly due to accident. Apparently Michael Mullen had given him to understand that he would give him an important job in the ITGWU (I presume in return for his taking over the ASTMS Irish members) but that he had a heart attack at the crucial moment.
Then I went to the office. It was sweltering hot and people were in various degrees of deshabille. Noel Gordon was in good form and I told him I had conceived the notion of going to Dublin to see Eamon MacThomais, Barney Morgan’s friend [who was in Provisional Sinn]. I want an Irish political force in this country. The “Irish Post” printed our letter in full, but no English paper [ie. the letter about the H-Block hunger-strikers, several of whom were dying at this time]. Bert Ward has an appalling letter in today’s “Morning Star”. Noel Harris remarked on it. I said to Noel that I thought the Connolly Association should demand equality with the Committee for Withdrawal and the Labour Committee on Ireland in this conference which Myant and the Trotskies have cooked up, and call for the inclusion of Liberation. I would draft a letter.
August 6 Thursday (Liverpool): I worked on the abridged introduction to the Union history. Noel Gordon rang and promised to send me the minutes of the Irish Committee [ie of the CPGB], which he says are woeful. Philip Rendle gave him a copy to laugh at. They meet tonight. Barney Morgan was at the Liverpool Labour Committee on Ireland meeting last night and says he fears they are being taken over by the Troops Out Movement.
August 7 Friday: A letter came from Tony Coughlan. He is thinking of coming on the 18th. Chalk had not said the Connolly Association was sponsoring Myant’s conference. But Tony could smell an attempt to push the CA aside and counselled against being pushed. Noel Gordon rang and said he was at the Irish Club, largely as a result of De Burca, who is, nevertheless, a wild man mainly interested in himself. He had organised a visit to the Embassy, where the deputation was told that the Government [ie. the Irish Government] would not be averse to seeing the Irish in Britain organised. The idea of an All-In Irish Conference was received favourably and Noel and Donald Kennedy made a good impression. Kennedy told him that he was at a party also attended by Myant. When he spoke to Myant he ignored him and would not speak to him all night, though they used to be friendly some years ago. He didn’t want to speak to me at the EC [ie. of the CPGB] but I made him.
August 8 Saturday: I heard from Noel Gordon that Bert Ward took ten copies of the “Irish Democrat” to the Irish Committee (referred to on the “Morning Star” as the “Northern Ireland Committee”, somewhat revealingly) and only one of them would buy it. The same Bert Ward is going to Belfast again. He is one of these Polytechnical lecturers with plenty of time and money to indulge his hobbies, and no knowledge of the world. I accept Pat Bond’s opinion that he is decent enough. In the evening I went to Warrington with Barney Morgan.
August 9 Sunday: I did some more on the book.
August 10 Monday: Again I did something on the book.
August 11 Tuesday: In the morning Noel Gordon rang to say that Pat Bond is in an emotional state over the Long Kesh atrocity [The last four of the ten hunger-strikers who died did so during this month of August]. I agreed to draft another letter. The “Irish Post” was the only paper to publish our last. He said WA Stallard [ie. “Jock” Stallard, MP for St Pancras] wanted to discuss the Labour Party memorandum with us. I said I would go to London. I did some more on the book.
August 12 Wednesday: I did a little in the garden and a little on the book. The Connolly Association meeting was held in the evening, but was badly attended – two regulars, Barney Morgan, myself and a young fellow from Troops Out and another from the Labour Committee on Ireland. Roy Johnston has got the Bernal bit between his teeth. He sent me a lengthy appendix to a chapter in somebody else’s book, which apparently they are going to publish. His great strength is his “brass neck”.
August 13 Thursday: I broke the back of the new Introduction to the union history. Skelly had sent me a letter referring to a book, “Silver Linings”, which is a report of the “Communist University of London” of 1980. He invited me to demolish an article by Michael Morrissey. The book was lost in the office, but Noel Gordon found it and it arrived today. It would qualify for the proceedings of the Muddling Association. I never saw such drivel. If the modern CP had only this as its basis in theory, its practise could be nothing but rudderless opportunism. I looked at the list of contributors – all but two teachers at punk Polytechnics.
August 14 Friday: I did a little on the book and a little in the garden. But the wretched weather continues. Its main feature is continuous cloud cover. I find it hard to recollect a parallel. We are certainly paying heavily for the good summers of the early and middle seventies!
August 15 Saturday: I did some more on the book. Noel Gordon said Madge Davison has been ringing him up. She talks as if NICRA is reviving.
August 16 Sunday: I did some more on the book. The weather was better and I cycled to Storeton – briefly – later beginning on the paper.
August 17 Monday: Barney Morgan called to bring a copy of Friday’s “Morning Star” which Noel Gordon had mentioned to me. There is a curious account of the CPI criticising Sinn Fein Republican clubs for intervening in Fermanagh [ie. in the by-election caused by the death on hunger-strike of Bobby Sands MP]. Apparently Jimmy Graham [Trade Unionist in the Belfast shipyard] agreed to sponsor them and on CPI instructions half-heartedly withdrew his sponsorship. Barney Morgan thought the report, said to be culled from “Unity“[ie. the CPI weekly newsletter], was mischievous. Why choose that to print? When I spoke to Noel Gordon he said that the report in “Unity” did not mention Jimmy Graham. But it said Ward was in Belfast. Now what is going on? I read some of the “Communist University of London” report, “Silver Linings”, which Skelly sent for review, saying I would probably make mincemeat of Morrissey. I’d like to pulp the whole edition. It ought to be entitled “Thick Fog”. If this is the theoretical pabulum of the CPGB then it is in a very, very, bad way. The only saving possibility is that there is so widespread a contempt of all theory, that the practical men will just go on as always by rule of thumb, and though they will have no theory to do them good, they will come to no harm from something they will totally ignore [In the event is looks as if the ideological disputants prevailed, as the CPGB dissolved itself three years following Greaves’s death]. I wrote to Roy Johnston criticizing his latest piece on Bernal that he sent me.
August 18 Tuesday: I did a little on the book and did some clearing up. In the evening Tony Coughlan arrived and I told him what was going on.
August 19 Wednesday: We took a bus to Mold, walked to Hesp Alyn and along the path to the Loggerheads Inn. I last went there – Hesp Alyn I mean – in about 1931 and was shocked by the change. The area has become part of the stockbroker belt, with fantastically designed houses. Fine are the open hillsides covered with orchids and masses of other flowers. We caught a bus back into Mold. Loggerheads is derelict. The direct bus to Woodside has been discontinued and the two cafés were closed. There was hardly anybody about.
August 20 Thursday: I did a little on the book. I heard the Fermanagh report, and both Tony Coughlan and Noel Gordon telephoned about it. I had expected Carron to win, though Tony thought it would be marginal [Provisional Sinn Fein candidate Owen Carron, born 1953, was elected MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone in the by-election caused by the death of Bobby Sands the previous May]. I would think that when the SFWP man got Lord Blease to support him he was bound to get a derisory vote [William Blease, 1914-2008, Northern Ireland Labour Party politician]. The way Gerry Fitt has committed an act of political suicide is astonishing [Gerry Fitt, MP for West Belfast, had called on the British Government to reject the demands of the hunger-strikers for political prisoner treatment etc. a few days before Bobby Sands MP died in May].
August 21 Friday: I got in a good spell on the book. The weather continues to be abominable.
August 22 Saturday: More on the book.
August 23 Sunday: Astonishing! The day dawned sunny and hot! I did something on the book but went cycling in the afternoon – Thornton Hough, Raby, Willaston, Burton, Paddington, Ledsham Station, and so back through Willaston again. Then I returned to the book.
August 24 Monday: I worked on the book in the day, and in the evening went to the CP club where a meeting of Kay’s Irish committee had been called. Cope was there, and others came. None of them knew anything about Ireland, but I was gratified to find a great deal of interest and dissatisfaction with the uncertainties of London policy. They are critical of Irene Brennan, sceptical of Myant and indignant at the way the issue is swept under the table. But except for Molloy, a student whose mother’s people came from Ballaghaderreen and were in the Land League, they are inclined to be Belfast oriented. I was glad I went.
August 25 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. They are short of a lino-man [ie. for the linotype machine] and have people on holiday. It was a rough passage. Added to that the connection at Crewe was 40 minutes late – that wretched Southampton train.
August 26 Wednesday: A fourth magnificent day. However, I stayed in and worked on the book.
August 27 Thursday: Another fine day. But I kept on. Just after dusk thick fog-banks rolled over everything. I don’t think I ever saw this happen before here, certainly not in August. But I do remember early September 1928, when we got back from Ireland to hear the clamour of ships’ sirens in the river. You don’t hear them now!
August 28 Friday: Another day on the book.
August 29 Saturday: Another fine hot day on the book.
August 30 Sunday: Another day on the book.
August 31 Monday: Another day on the book.
[End of Volume 30, c.89,000 words]