Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 31, 1981-82
1 September 1981 – 31 December 1982
Themes: Interaction with publishers Gill and Macmillan over the publication of his ITGWU History – Organising a series of lectures on political topics in the Liverpool Irish Centre – Campaigning against the Prevention of Terrorism Act – “For over 40 years we have invited people to join the Connolly Association on the grounds that the way forward was through interesting the Labour Movement. We failed to interest it, and one can only stand aghast at the dereliction of duty by the CPGB. But we did in the end persuade the other Irish bodies that this was necessary. The ‘Officials’ joined the CPGB. Now the ‘Provisionals’ are seeking a hearing. And the debate that the CPGB could have had with others is occurring within it.” (9.12) – “I am afraid I was only right to a limited degree when I thought the ‘British Road to Socialism’ was more or less harmless ‘pie in the sky’ … It was used as the promoter for things that were not in it (11.10) – Death and funeral of Betty Sinclair (12.30) – Connolly Association moves its office from Gray’s Inn Road to Battersea – Gives T.A.Jackson memorial lecture – Prepares his poems, “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”, for publication – Attitude to the Polish Solidarity events and the British-Argentine Falklands War (4.6) – Attending a lecture by industrial theorist Mike Cooley (4.26) – Initiates a memorial of protest to the editor of the “Morning Star” over the lack of coverage of Connolly Association campaigning in that paper – Reminiscence on Alan Hodge (5.9) – Launch of the ITGWU History in Dublin (5.24) – Correspondence with Donal Ó Luanaigh of the National Library of Ireland re Trade Union records (5.29) – Conflict with Chris Myant of the CPGB over the latter’s attempt, in conjunction with Clann na hEireann, to campaign on the Irish question in Britain without raising the Partition issue – Connolly Association school on Protestants and Irish nationalism (9.4/2) – Financial problems of the “Irish Democrat” – Attitude to disputes between ”euros” and “hardliners” in the CPGB – Death of ITGWU secretary Michael Mullen (10.28/2) – CA conference on Irish neutrality in Glasgow (11.1/2) – Visit to his friend Prof. Alan Morton in Edinburgh, who has problems with his eyesight (11.16/2) – Visit of Connolly Association members to Dublin (11.20/2) – “Flann Campbell told me he is halfway through his book on nationalist Protestants in Ulster and asked me to read some of it. I had intended to take up this subject myself, but it is a welcome addition to our forces if somebody else will do it …. I am wondering whether to do the history of the Irish working class that Skelly would like for Lawrence and Wishart. I will probably try it. But I have resolved to get a little more relaxation next year. It may be the last when I can, indeed even if it is not too late already!” (12.31/2) – Three rainy cycle and hostel holidays in Wales over the sixteen-month period – Assiduous vegetable gardening whenever time and the weather permitted
Index to Volume 31 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 31 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 31, which covers the sixteen months from September 1981 until December 1982, the figure (2) is attached to each entry for the second year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 3.10, 3.20, 3.27, 6.6, 9.24(2), 9.30(2),
Assessments of others: 5.20, 5.24, 6.2, 7.28, 8.26, 9.22(2), 9.30(2),
10.3(2), 10.9(2), 10.11(2), 10.15(2), 11.27(2), 12.3-4(2), 12.7(2),
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 9.11-12, 12.18, 8.25,
Campaigning in Britain for Irish reunification: 9.12, 8.24, 10.30(2), 11.10(2)
European supranational integration/the EEC: 1.24, 5.15, 8.19
Family relations: 12.20
Holidays/cycle tours: 10.16-28, 9.30-10.13(2), 12.3-13(2)
ITGWU History research: 12.7, 1.9, 3.5, 3.7, 3.20, 4.28, 5.24, 11.28(2)
Meteorology, interest in: 1.13, 1.30, 8.19, 10.30(2)
Self-assessments and personal plans: 9.1, 9.26, 1.28, 3.1, 3.6, 3.20, 4.30,
6.6,9.13(2), 9.18(2), 9.24(2),11.4(2),11.9(2),11.16-17(2), 12.2(2),
Verse/“Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”: 4.30, 9.24(2),
9.26(2), 9(2), 12.2(2)
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Partition of Ireland League: 11.30, 12.9,
Belfast Trades Council: 10.14
British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO):
Clann na hEireann: 10.29, 7.14, 8.21, 9.27(2), 10.29(2), 11.1(2)
Committee for Withdrawal: 5.11
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 9.11-12, 11.6, 11.10, 11.12,
11.17, 12.1, 2.1, 3.17, 4.29, 7.7, 8.18, 8.21, 8.26, 9.21(2), 9.23-
24(2), 9.27(2), 11.7(2), 11.11(2), 11.28(2)
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 5.17, 10.23(2)
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 9.12, 11.9, 11.17, 12.9,1.18, 1.24,
2.17, 6.12, 6.18, 7.10, 8.26, 9.6(2), 9.11(2), 11.11(2)
Federation of Irish Societies: 11.23, 11.28, 12.2, 2.17, 4.1, 5.1, 5.18
Irish in Britain Representation Group: 2.6, 3.11, 4.18
Irish Labour History Society: 10.7-8
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 9.29, 5.27,11.20(2)
Irish Transport and General Workers Union: 3.5, 3.20
Labour Committee on Ireland: 1.9, 2.6, 3.15, 3.17, 4.4, 5.11, 8.4, 8.25,
National Library of Ireland: 5.29
New Communist Party: 11.12, 1.9, 1.31, 3.18, 8.23
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Officials”(Sinn Fein the Workers Party/“Stickies”): 1.9, 3.5-6,
3.20, 5.24, 5.27, 8.26,10.23(2), 10.28(2), 11.1(2)
Sinn Fein/IRA-“Provisionals”: 2.6, 7.21, 8.23, 11.20(2)
Troops Out Movement: 3.15, 5.11, 10.30(2), 11.20(2)
Trotskyist and ultra-left organisations: 2.17, 3.15
Personal Names Index
Agnew, Kevin: 12.30
Allaun, Frank MP: 6.28
Anderson, Brian: 9.30,
Banks, Marion: 8.21, 9.27(2), 10.23(2)
Barr, Andy: 12.29
Benn, Tony: 4.6
Bennett, Jack: 11.20(2)
Blevin, John: 8.14, 9.27(2)
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 4.4, 6.12, 10.20(2), 10.23(2)
Bowers, Joe: 9.30, 10.11
Brennan, Irene: 11.2, 11.6, 11.17, 11.26, 8.26
Byrne, Margaret: 10.29(2)
Byrne, Cllr. Paddy: 6.18
Campbell, Flann and Mary:12.31(2)
Carroll, John: 5.24, 5.27, 11.1(2)
Charles, Wilf: 11.11(2)
Chater, Tony: 4.4, 6.12, 9.21(2), 11.12(2)
Clancy, Paddy (ITGWU): 5.24
Clinton, Mark: 10.29, 11.29
Cohen, Gerry: 1.27, 7.23
Comerford, Maire: 5.23, 12.24(2)
Comi, Nicoletta: 1.31
Cooley, Mike: 4.29
Costello, Fergal: 12.30
Costello, Mick: 9.21(2)
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 9.28-29, 10.1, 10.11, 10.13, 10.28, 11.25,
12.24, 12.27,1.2-3, 1.31, 3.5, 3.27-29, 3.31, 5.15, 5.23-25,
8.10, 9.18(2), 9.22(2), 10.19(2), 10.23(2), 11.19(2), 11.21(2),
Cowman, Eddie: 9.29, 1.31, 5.27,6.7, 7.6, 8.10, 9.24(2),
Croker, Colm: 12.4, 12.7, 12.12, 2.4, 3.20
Crowe, Michael: 9.11
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 9.18(2)
Curran, Gerard: 11.2, 11.8, 11.11(2), 11.27(2)
Curran, Niall: 9.18(2), 11.27(2)
Dale, Norah: 11.11(2)
Daly, Lena: 8.25
Davison, Madge: 12.29
Deighan, Joseph: 9.9, 12.25, 8.24, 9.22(2)
Devine, Francis: 5.24
Digges, Alec: 11.12(2)
Donaghey, Tony: 11.20/2
Dubs, Alfred MP: 2.17
Durkin, Tom: 11.15, 11.26, 2.6
Dutt, R. Palme: 9.22(2)
Egan, Tadhg: 7.21
Egelnick, M.: 12.9, 9.24(2)
Field, Frank MP: 2.17, 4.6
Foot, Michael MP: 5.21
Fox, Carol: 10.29(2)
Furlong, Sean: 11.11(2)
Geraghty, Desmond: 10.1,
Gill, Ken: 10.11, 11.21, 8.25
Gilmore, George: 1.31
Gordon, Noel: 11.17, 7.14, 8.18, 8.25, 11.2-3(2)
Graves, Robert: 5.16
Harris, Noel: 1.9, 2.6, 4.4, 6.15, 7.14, 8.10, 8.23, 8.26
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 12.30, 11.20(2)
Hickman, Mary: 8.20-21
Hodge, Alan: 5.9, 5.16
Huggett, Stephen: 2.6, 2.18
Ireland, John de Courcy: 11.30(2)
Jackson, T.A.: 2.18,
Johnston, Roy: 4.17
Jones, Jack: 8.25
Keable, Ken: 11.11(2)
Keating, Justin: 11.30(2)
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Roger: 11.10, 2.6, 9.6(2)
Kennedy, Donal: 4.1, 10.22(2), 11.20(2)
Kibble, Brett: 11.26, 11.28, 11.30, 10.27(2), 10.29(2), 11.20(2)
Krause, Robert: 3.16, 8.16
Lowery, Robert: 8.16
Lyne, Gerard: [See O Luanaigh)
McClelland, John:11.17, 12.30, 11.20(2)
McGahey, Michael (Mick): 11.15, 12.30
MacGiolla, Tomás: 12.30
McLennan, Gordon: 9.11, 6.15
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 12.30, 11.23(2)
MacLiam, Egon: 11.22(2)
MacLiam, Killian and Conor: 12.29-30
MacLua, Brendan: 10.8, 11.28, 5.19-20,
McNamara, Kevin, MP: 3.13
Martin, Eamon: 9.24(2)
Mitchell, Jack Prof.: 10.13, 8.31
Monks, Joe: 11.12(2)
Morgan, Austen: 10.8
Morgan, Barney: 9.26, 10.30, 11.19, 12.16, 5.20, 5.24, 6.2, 12.31(2)
Morrissey, Michael: 9.26, 5.17, 11.7(2)
Mortimer, Michael: 11.21, 11.20(2), 11.23(2)
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 10.28, 11.6, 11.3, 11.10, 12.1 7.29, 11.15-18(2), 11.25(2)
Morton, Alisoun: 11.15-16(2
Mullen, Michael: 5.24, 5.27, 10.28(2), 11.1(2)
Mulligan, Peter: 7.17, 8.7
Murray, Helen: 12.30
Murray, Len: 9.5
Myant, Chris: 9.23, 10.3, 10.7, 10.30, 11.6, 11.8, 11.17, 12.9, 1.9, 2.6, 2.17,
3.17, 4.4, 5.17, 6.15, 7.1, 7.7, 7.14, 8.7-8, 8.10, 8.21, 8.25-26,
9.6(2), 9.24(2), 10.23(2), 10.28(2), 11.1(2), 11.7(2), 11.19(2),
Nevin, Donal: 12.30, 5.24, 11.7(2), 11.11(2)
O Caollai, Maolachlann: 3.12, 3.14, 11.20(2)
O’Casey, Sean: 8.21
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 10.1, 5.24-25, 11.21(2)
O’Daire, Paddy: 11.12(2)
O’Donnell, Peadar: 8.21, 11.20(2)
O’Dowling, Elsie, née Timbey: 5.19, 11.13(2)
O’Hagan, Desmond: 5.24
O’Herlihy, Cal: 1.1-2
O’Leary, Michael, TD: 11.1(2)
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 3.27, 5.24, 9.24(2), 11.22(2)
O Luanaigh, D.: 5.29
O’Neill, Andy: 11.11(2)
O’Reilly, Gerald: 8.2
O’Riordan, Michael: 9.3, 10.1, 11.17, 12.30, 1.9, 8.24, 9.22-23(2), 9.25(2),
O Tuathail, Seamus: 11.20(2)
Palmer, John: 5.15
Parker, Bill: 9.3(2)
Parker, John MP: 8.24
Parry, Bob MP: 2.17
Pocock, Gerry: 1.27, 9.27(2)
Power, Colm: 3.12, 11.21(2), 11.30(2)
Redmond, Sean: 11.21(2)
Rendle, Philip: 8.21
Roberts, Ruairi: 12.30
Saidlear, Muriel: 5.24, 11.20(2)
Savage, Jim: 11.20(2)
Scorer, Cath: 8.26
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 9.29, 10.3-4, 10.11, 10.13
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 12.18, 12.25, 12.28, 12.30, 9.22(2)
Soley, Clive, MP: 3.13, 3.17
Stewart, Edwina: 12.30
Stewart, Jimmy: 11.17, 12.30, 8.24-25
Tate, Jane: 11.26, 12.9
Ward, Bert: 2.6 , 3.17, 4.4, 6.15, 8.7, 9.24(2)
Watters, Tommy: 9.9, 9.11
Whelan, Joe: 8.31
September 1 Tuesday (Liverpool): Another dry day. I did quite a bit of work on the book, but time is pressing. To make matters worse, I have contracted a rash which is spread over arms, legs and shoulder. I took the precaution of registering with a doctor here and will ring up tomorrow. I have not consulted a doctor for over 30 years, so I hope this is not the dawn of a new era! In September 1979 while working in the garden I noticed red raised spots that did not itch. They only appeared in exposed places and I took them to be insect bites and did nothing. Six months later there was a rash connected with them. It spread only slowly and Charlie Cunningham gave me a lotion or cream that contained hydrocortisone and with that I fought it back, getting an extra tube from Helga [ie. Helga MacLiam, the German wife of his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam]. A trace remained on the left leg. Suddenly a few days ago it grew to a circle with a radius of 2 1/2 inches. Next it spread. I must telephone tomorrow. I well remember when Phyllis [ie. his deceased sister] said to me, “I’ve lost confidence in my body.”
September 2 Wednesday: I went on with the book [ie. revising the text of his history of the ITGWU]. I also telephoned the doctor. I was told that he had no time this week, but when I pressed she said I could be “fitted in” tomorrow.
September 3, Thursday: I received a telephone call from Michael O’Riordan asking me to lecture on the Irish question in the British Labour Movement on September 30. I said I would if I was in a fit state. I went down to Dr McKay at 5 pm. Apparently he works at a Corporation “Health Centre”. I don’t know if it is good or bad. What impressed me most was the quick despatch of patients. I had only to mention “locoid” and within two minutes a prescription appeared and when I took it to the chemist’s I found that old age pensioners get it free. I have very grave doubts of his understanding it. There is nothing scientific, just writing a prescription, and it seems nobody expects anything else. Later Pat Bond rang.
I did some work on the book but also did a two-hour cycle ride. No noticeable progress with the rash. Late at night Michael O’Riordan rang from Dublin saying he was going to try an interest Brendan MacLua [editor of the weekly “Irish Post” newspaper in Britain] in the idea of an All-In Irish organisation.
September 4 Friday: The warm dry weather continues. A tomato I bought as a plant has produced a ripe fruit. Those from seed are not even flowering. The physalis is only five inches high. I did more on the book.
September 5 Saturday (London/Liverpool): Despite being covered with slightly itchy spots, I went to London, saw Jane Tate, Flan Campbell, Steve Huggett and Philip Rendle at a branch committee, then went on to Chelmsford to address the Essex Trades Union Congress. I was given a description of the conference at which the pro-Irish resolution was put. Len Murray was a fraternal delegate [He was General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, TUC]. He was not supposed to be in the debate. In his speech, he drew attention to this resolution and as he criticised it he got angrier and angrier until he was almost screaming and declared that even if it passed, it would not be implemented. I got the 7.30 pm. back from Euston.
September 6 Sunday: I went on with the book. Still spotted.
September 7 Monday: I went on with the book. Still spotted.
September 8 Tuesday: I went on with the book.
September 9 Wednesday: I went on with the book. At about 5 pm. Joe McGovern rang up to say that Tommy Watters had died. I rang Joe Deighan and told him. He asked how I was. He was astonished when I replied, “not too good”. I suspect it is the first time I did not say “alright”. I also rang Jane Tate who has Betty Sinclair staying with her. Barney Morgan called in.
September 10 Thursday: I think the spots are getting a little fainter, except for one or two that are getting worse. I think it is a virus infection. But I must do something about medical care. If you are well for years, once it starts it starts. It is obvious that the health service is on its last legs.
September 11 Friday: I got less done today – the telephone kept ringing. Jane Tate told me that the new landlords are making dreadful threats, which don’t appear to amount to much. Then John Watters rang up to say that Tommy Watters’s funeral was at 3 pm. – he rang at 1 pm. when it was too late for me to go. Then Betty Sinclair rang from Jane Tate’s. She had wanted to go but didn’t know. Finally Michael Crowe rang from Manchester and said he had been. So at least we were represented.
I invited Michael to stay the night with me in Liverpool, and (typically) he had made no arrangements though he always seems to land on his feet, having plenty of money. He arrived – again typically though I expected nothing else and got in a few bottles and started on them – at 11.30 pm. In many ways he is one of the deepest thinkers we have got, He is actually committed to a fundamental change in society though like everybody else he is not sure how everything is going. He is short of help and works mostly with the CP. His Northern district is sound on the Irish question. He told me of the “report back” from the EC I attended [ie. the Executive of the CPGB]Apparently this woman [ie. EC member Marion Banks] was not too pleased and said that “that historian Desmond Greaves was there and you know what his opinion is.” My opinions are no invention of my own but are completely classical. But the extent of confusion is shown by this remark. If I can get this damned book out of the way and get my skin clear, I promise myself a few months of evangelizing. But it is a sobering thought that after all these years selling papers round public houses, shouting out at Hyde Park meetings, organising, speaking at Trade Union conferences, I should be seen as “that historian”. It is a measure, I think, of the academicization of political life in the British “Left”. Once more the beginning is the word. Michael told me he had heard that Gordon McLennan wants to resign. If he does I will regard him as a rat. He likes to be on good terms with everybody. If I were he I would appeal to the membership. But sometimes, I suppose, the stench of British society becomes overpowering.
September 12 Saturday: I did a little on the book. Then Barney rang up and we went to Warrington with the papers. We called in at the Irish Centre on our way. Ryan, an oldish man who has been missing from our meetings for a few months, was there. He had been knocked down by a car, the driver of which did not even stop to see if he was killed. Both legs were broken and now he walks with a limp. The Government has stopped the payment of compensation in such cases. “To save money”, says Ryan, “to spend on themselves.”
I was telling Barney Morgan about Michael Crowe and the CP. He gave me the circular for a meeting called by Newcastle Trades Council at which Tony Donaghey, who wrote for information on Irish Trade Unions, is speaking. They also have somebody from the H-Blocks Committee. What has happened is historically interesting. For over 40 years we have invited people to join the Connolly Association on the grounds that the way forward was through interesting the Labour Movement. We failed to interest it, and one can only stand aghast at the dereliction of duty by the CPGB. But we did in the end persuade the other Irish bodies that this was necessary. The “Officials” joined the CPGB. Now the “Provisionals” are seeking a hearing. And the debate that the CPGB could have had with others is occurring within it. And perhaps the whole process was necessary.
September 13 Sunday: I had thought of going cycling but decided to get on with the book. I still have the rash, though in parts away from the extremities it seems to receding a little. I wish we had a scientific medicine instead of this witch doctoring.
September 14 Monday: I went on with the book. That young villain Noel Gordon was due back last night but has not arrived. I blame that little creature Helen Murray.
September 15 Tuesday: I went on with a book. Barney Morgan came in.
September 16 Wednesday: I went on with the book. No sign of Noel Gordon.
September 17 Thursday: I went on with the book.
September 18 Friday: I went on with a book.
September 19 Saturday: I went on with a book.
September 20 Sunday: The weather has turned windy and cool these last few days. So I went on with a book.
September 21 Monday: At last Noel Gordon reappeared and rang me up. He had taken an extra week’s holiday. I believe Jane Tate gave him a good talking to and he admitted his error. I went on with the book in the day.
September 22 Tuesday: Autumn again! I went on with a book.
September 23 Wednesday: Noel Gordon rang and said Myant was leaving the staff of the “Morning Star” “for personal reasons”[i.e. Chris Myant, deputy editor of the “Morning Star”, who was hostile to the Connolly Association’s policy as too “nationalist” and was pushing the Irish Workers’ Party British support group, Clann na hEireann, in CPGB circles]. I don’t think a creature like that ever had any feelings that were not personal. Let us hope he is not replaced by a worse! Stella Bond thinks he wants a job with more money. I went on with the book.
September 24 Thursday: I started on the extra chapter, so the end is in sight.
September 25 Friday (Liverpool/London): I went on a day trip to London. I’m due to go to Dublin on Tuesday. But I wanted to size up the London scene.
September 26 Saturday: I went to St. Helens to a conference called by the Trades Council. The other speaker was young Michael Morrissey. He is full of Belfast Polytechnic nonsense. I replied to some of his statements, for example his sneer at Marx: “Old Charles Marx! The last thing you’d expect of him is consistency.” Yet he had all his facts wrong. One man came up to me after it was over and said, “Thank God there’s some sense around.” It was pouring rain – desperate! I got back at about 4 pm.
Later Barney Morgan drove me to Bolton, where Molly Weaver was holding a party to launch Michael Weaver’s fictionalised life story which is being publicised in “Voices”. The editor is Vincent Gault and it was he who had me invited to Lancaster University. He was a lorry-driver, went to college and is now a lorry driver again. I said a few words. There were some young singers and we had to suffer their excruciating harmony, consecutive octavos and all. Mick Jenkins was there looking very old, speaking very softly and living totally in the past. He asked me to come to Manchester to visit him “before we peg out”. He has been suffering from what Angus MacPherson called “senile depression” for years, though indeed I’m not in powerful shape myself as I’m still covered with red spots which are not now spreading but hardly retreating. Strangely enough Barney Morgan used of the medical profession the very words I had: “witch-doctors”. They have a monopoly. I am perfectly capable of finding out what is wrong but I am denied the means. But I recall Martin Roth, one of the few scientific doctors I ever met, who told me the policy should always be to regard the organism as a whole and go for general health. So it will be a holiday.
Another person at Bolton was John Hammond’s widow, who reminded me that I had stayed with them about 40 years ago. I like these Lancashire people. They are completely superior to the Cockneys.
September 27 Sunday: I finished the book at 11.20 pm. But otherwise it was a bad day. Tony Benn went down thanks to Scargill’s trickery. FitzGerald [ie. Irish Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald]announced the referendum to alter the Constitution, which means he is all for the Third World War they are secretly preparing. I had a word with Cathal MacLiam on the phone about it. And to make matters worse, I am 68! And the pouring rain that went on all day yesterday dribbled and obscured all day today. I will go to Dublin on Tuesday.
September 28 Monday: I went to Birkenhead, had a haircut, then started typing the notes and references. The weather is still awful, and one feels depressed at plunging again into winter after such a brief spell of summer. Noel Gordon rang, and later Tony Coughlan. He had told everybody that he was going to Scotland, but Noel Gordon expressed surprise that he telephoned from Dover. Tony as a rule will not as a rule tell you a direct lie. But if he was going via Dun Laoire to Timbuktu, he might say he was going to Dun Laoire. Of course it is entirely his own business where he goes, but I’m sure he does not appreciate that by mystification he attracts attention and everybody wants to know where he has been. However, foibles are not taxable. I understand that Dorothea is in London [ie. East German Professor of English Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze of the University of Halle-Wittenberg; see Vol.30], but though she talked about coming to Liverpool, I still haven’t heard from her.
September 29 Tuesday (Dublin): I finished typing the notes in time to catch the 12.05 to Chester and went on to Dun Laoire where Eddie Cowman met me and drove me to Tony Coughlan’s [ie. at 111 Meadow Grove, Dundrum]. There was no particular news. Eddie is active in the Irish Sovereignty Movement, which is good. I met Irene Brennan in Chester station and spoke her fair.
September 30 Wednesday: I took in the manuscript to Gills [ie. Messrs Gill and Macmillan in Dublin]. Then in the evening I addressed a CP meeting that was well attended. Indeed they had to go out to bring in extra chairs. There were some of the usual criticisms from the two Belfasts, Brian Anderson and Joe Bowers, who are in British trade unions. Apart from that there was complete agreement. I spoke on the subject of the Irish question and the British Labour Movement. Cathal MacLiam, Tony Coughlan, Eddie Cowman and others were there.
October 1 Thursday: Today was a miserable day as ever came out of the sky. It rained all bloody day. I called in to see Michael O’Riordan in the afternoon and he made a proposal that when I was over I should attend a meeting of himself, Tom Redmond and Tony Coughlan. He spoke about decisions. I told him I had no objection to holding discussions, but that I was not going to be a party to decisions. I was not in any sense a plenipotentiary. It is strange how so many of them hanker after tight forms of organisation. It may be that he recognises the cross-channel links we are building and would like to have a say in things, and that can be managed.
Later I met Daltún O Ceallaigh, Cathal MacLiam and Tony Coughlan, who had been at a meeting at Liberty Hall. We went for a meal, that is, Daltún and Tony, and then to Tony’s place. They told me a substantial group of nationally minded Dublin Trade Unionists are meeting monthly with a view to influencing the British movement and that they had sent a letter to the delegates at the Labour Party conference. This I approve of, as I have pressed for it for a long time. They also told me that Geraghty [ie. Desmond Geraghty] has been elected organiser in the ITGWU and that the job once held by Daltún O Ceallaigh is liable to go to a two-nationist.
October 2 Friday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool, but what a journey!
There was a strong North wind and a heavy sea. This absurd cockleshell the Saint David will surely have to be taken out of service before the winter storms begin. It pitched and tossed and shuddered and rattled when a breaker struck it. One man had a heart attack. There was neither doctor nor nurse on board. He was stretched on the floor and lay there for three hours covered with rugs. A man holding a baby was so violently thrown by a sudden lurch that the baby’s head struck a wall. But it made too much noise to be badly hurt. A loose vacuum cleaner came careering across the deck threatening to take everybody’s legs off. The steward in the duty-free shop got drunk and the shop had to be closed. In any case I would not have gone to it past the prostrate bodies and the smell of vomit. The woman next to me was badly sick; a man behind almost passed out. Mercifully it does not affect me, but I kept my seat and drank whiskey I had brought with me and was entertained by a magnificent Dublin wit, who was going for a day’s trip to Holyhead because he would get a free bottle of whiskey.
October 3 Saturday: Last night Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze rang that she was coming today from Leeds. Barney Morgan was disinclined to put her up because the house is in an upset since his son Seán went to live in his own flat. Later he said he could manage it, but I had by then made arrangements for her to stay with me. I met her at Lime Street, took her for a sail [presumably on the ferry across the Mersey] and then met Barney Morgan who drove us to 124 Mount Road, where we ate?
Meanwhile Noel Gordon rang and told me that Myant has resigned from the “Morning Star” and he believes the reason is political disagreement. They have no guiding principle. Anything goes. Yet they meddle in the Irish question without knowing anything about it.
October 4 Sunday: Barney Morgan came with his mott, Anne Wallace, and we drove to Chester and showed Dorothea the sights. Incidentally, she brought me Jack Mitchell’s book, which seems pretty poor. We went back to Anne Wallace’s place where her husband had cooked a great meal. Barney pulled his leg mercilessly. He seems a very decent man, but what an odd situation! Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze came to my place to collect her luggage and Barney drove her to Lime Street. In discussion I mentioned the reunification of Germany. They treat the two parts as separate countries. I presumed they are afraid of being swallowed up. It seems that there no governments in the socialist world confident that people would be attracted to socialism and there is no attempt to attract them. I mentioned Beethoven’s song, “One great German folk are we.” “He was in Vienna.” “He was in his native Bonn when he wrote the song.” But no. Germany must remain partitioned. The weather was very good today, cool but with continuous sunlight.
October 5 Monday: I wrote to Colm Croker [ie. the person at Messrs Gill and Macmillan’s who was concerned with getting the ITGWU History ready for publication], to Dr Barnsby who wants me to speak in Wolverhampton, to Toni Curran who sent me a birthday card, to Edge Hill College who want a talk and to S. Hogan. The weather was damp and cool, so I have not yet gone away.
October 6 Tuesday: I wrote more letters and tried to straighten things up before I go away. The weather is still wet and cold.
October 7 Wednesday: Barney Morgan came during the morning. The Irish Labour History Society is holding a conference in Liverpool. They did not notify me though I am, I think, the only member here. Apparently Shouldice wanted me to give a talk on Larkin and he told Barney Morgan that he had written to me and “guessed” my number, though I gave it him a year ago. I suggested to Barney Morgan that he should take the “Irish Democrat” account [ie. which Greaves had written about James Larkin] and read it out. A letter came from Joe Deighan.
A few weeks ago JG [unknown who this is] told me of meeting a man named Fearon who lives in Wallasey. He claimed to have discovered errors in one of my books. I wrote to him but before I could meet him this damned rash appeared and was spreading threateningly. Since it seems to be holding an uneasy balance now – and I go away in hopes of boosting my general health, since no sensible advice is available – I decided to visit him. As I suspected, he only wanted to talk about the olden days. He had been in Stockton-on-Tees, where Barrington was O/C [ie. Officer Commanding, presumably of the Irish Volunteers]. They went out on bicycles throwing what would today be called petrol-bombs into hayricks. He comes from Thurles and says that in 1917 he started the ITGWU in that town. However, the list of branches I have in my possession states that Thurles was founded on August 8th 1918. He also says he joined the Volunteers in Thurles in 1917 and that all the members were “labouring men”. His father was secretary of the Foresters. His grandfather was a Fenian in Ballingarry. He himself is 82 years old and deaf in one ear thanks to a bomb in London during the war. He said there were 35 IRA men in Thurles during the Tan War and 350 during the truce. He is clear in the head and while he may not be accurate in matters of detail, he knows far too much to be romancing. He takes the “Irish Democrat” and “Soviet Weekly”.
On the telephone Noel Gordon said the group discussing an All-in Irish Society are mostly mad as hatters, but some are sensible. He also said that Myant remains with the “Morning Star” as foreign editor and is still spewing out rubbish about Ireland.
October 8 Thursday: The weather is still abominable, so I stayed at home. Barney Morgan came at about 6 pm. He was talking about the Northwest Historical Society’s combined conference in Liverpool, to which he says the Irish Labour History Society are sending 40 people. Shouldice told him they want me to speak on Larkin but that he had sent the letter to Mount Road, but not to the right number. He asked Barney if I was annoyed at not being invited. It is amazing that these people think you care two snaps if you’re invited or not! But then he made a remark that aroused Barney Morgan’s suspicions. “There are some people coming from Dublin that he mightn’t like.” They include the keeper of “epiphenomenal paradigms”, the two-nationist anti-Connolly Austin Morgan, and probably a good sprinkling of “Stickies”. “So, since he knows nothing about Dublin, somebody must have said something.” Did the letter go deliberately astray? He was also with. Tom Walsh who was complaining that the Irish Society people had put down his name as sponsoring something with regard to which he has not been approached. He rang up Mac Lua. They had done the same on him. I wrote to Noel Gordon and told him what had happened.
October 9 Friday: The filthy weather goes on. I can’t get away. In the evening two shops opposite had their plate glass windows blown in by the hurricane.
October 10 Saturday: While not quite so bad as yesterday the weather was bad enough and I don’t feel a bit pleased. I am still covered with spots from head to foot – well, not exactly that, but bad enough.
October 11 Sunday: The rain has moderated but it is icy cold. I will see what it is like tomorrow. I rang up Tony Coughlan who had been to Belfast to see Ken Gill (This was Bowers’s proposal). Apparently he is not too bad. He agreed to “concentrate” on organising the Unionist vote. But I am somewhat suspicions of “concentrating”. Indeed I’m suspicious of all the bastards. Dorothea is there since Wednesday.
October 12 Monday: There was a telephone call from Paul Salveson in Manchester. I saw their advertisement for a new city secretary, so I guess he is working at something else. I did not know who was ringing and gave the name from a later discovery. He said he had contracted to do a series of lectures for the Workers’ Educational Association on Irish history, but now couldn’t. Would I take his place? The first is on the 16th. I told him I was going away and didn’t want to commute to Manchester. He replied that they were in Liverpool. So I gave him Barney Morgan’s number.
October 13 Tuesday: The weather is showery and icy cold. The maximum temperature is about 48’F. I cannot remember when it was like this in October. Noel Gordon rang up and told me Gerry Curran is in the office doing the paper. I hope he does not spring us an enormous bill. I think I will teach Noel to do it. Later Dorothea rang from Tony Coughlan’s. She asked me what I thought of Jack Mitchell’s book. I rather shocked her by saying it was not as bad as I expected. It is indeed completely “copy book” Marxism. The man can’t think and he doesn’t even observe. “But”, she exclaimed indignantly, “he is a very clever man.” I think he’s a bloody fool. His absurd review of my O’Casey was the apotheosis of ignoratio elenchi [ie. logical fallacies]. Tony Coughlan is in good spirits. I invited him here for Christmas, if he wants to come.
October 14 Wednesday: Today it was not so wet though still very cold. Barney Morgan had been approached by Mrs Owen of the Workers’ Educational Association. It was at this point my suspicions that it was Salveson was confirmed. Barney said he would do the first three if I would do the rest. He discussed this with Mrs Owen and called in. Obviously he cannot prepare the first in time for Friday, so I advised him to give a lecture on chronology and helped him to select the points to make. Later I wrote to Mrs Owen. I cannot understand how Salveson thought himself capable of doing a series of lectures on Irish history. He mentions a few books – T. A. Jackson, my “Irish Crisis”, Liam de Paor and one by Michael Farrell – this Barney Morgan got on the telephone. Perhaps he thought this sufficient. But I do know he joined the Connolly Association long before he got the full -time job in Manchester [ie. as a CPGB organiser] and there he gave me a good impression. He may have been studying it.
Noel Gordon rang to say that the Belfast Trades Council had invited me to speak at their centenary meeting. I was flattered, but I must have a holiday and try to get the health into shape. According to Barney Morgan there is quite a possibility that the Irish Centre may allow us the use of a room for our proposed lectures on Irish history.
October 15 Thursday: The weather was cold but dry and sunny with a North-Northwest wind. I would have expected it to veer East, but it has not.
October 16 Friday (Dolgoch): The wind did veer East, then further, and the sun shone brightly. I decided to go today and took a train from Rock Ferry to Chester. There were crowds at Rock Ferry. A signal had failed on the Mersey line. After Chester the trainlines failed on a goods train ahead of us. Consequently there was a long delay near Rossett. A woman in the carriage told me that last year she was travelling from Wrexham to Chester when the train ran off the line and into a gantry. She buried her face in her handbag as the glass showered over her, but she was unhurt. She took a stiff whiskey in Chester Station and seemed alright. Three nights later she woke up in a cold sweat, feeling desperate. I suppose she took another whiskey – if she had any sense. We caught the connection at Salop and I got off at Llanwrtyed. I rang De Roe three times. There was no reply. I cycled to Dolgoch and several times hoped that he was not away, for example through illness. When I got there the place was locked and nobody was about. I thought of cycling to Tregaron. But then I noticed a caravan – I had spotted it before but I had not connected it with De Roe. He was in it. He said that the smoking chimney in the hostel had driven him mad, so he had bought a caravan. Nobody but myself was there and De Roe remained in his caravan. He says his numbers are down.
October 17 Saturday (Blaencaron, Tregaron): The fine weather did not last long. It was cold with an easterly gale which blew me to Tregaron. There was a man from Macclesfield – Jewish I guess – who was an agricultural inspector at Kidderminster.
October 18 Sunday: It was fine today – rather like Friday. A young Canadian came, an amicable lad with no culture, but intelligent, a chemical engineer in atomic energy. We played chess. I took the first game before I got his measure. He had been marooned in the North-West Territory and had nothing to do but play chess, without theory but with considerable. experience. In the second game, quite by accident, I replied to his P-Q4. (unusual in this type of player) with the inverted Sicilian which I do not think sound[a move in chess]. I won, but only because he was weak on the end game and didn’t know how to force a draw. I also won the other two games.
October 19 Monday: It poured rain today and the Canadian decided to stay. An elderly cyclist came later. He, like the Canadian, was soaked with the rain. We played more chess but he could do nothing new.
October 20 Tuesday: Both of the visitors left. It was bright but showery. A young fellow who may have been a teacher came.
October 21 Wednesday: Two young fellows came, walking. They had climbed Cader Idris. One had a broken arm. He was probably about 23 and had been roller-skating. He was quite intelligent, had been a railway apprentice at Derby but was now in the building trade. He was interested in ideas. He asked if it was true that the climate was changing. But he was reading a paperback called “In the Shadow of the Torturer”. His companion was a nonentity.
October 22 Thursday (Ty’n Cornel): I went to Ty’n Cornell. Three walkers arrived, all from Rugby. They had been BTM apprentices though now fiftyish and talked about cars and sport. Their notion of Welsh pronunciation was extraordinary.
October 23 Friday: I stayed where I was. Nobody came.
October 24 Saturday (Blaencaron): It rained all night but cleared at about midday, so I left for Tregaron. I got over the top of the mountains but saw a squall line (as I thought it) approaching and took shelter in an outhouse below Llathr mawr and again under the trees at Aberddawr. It had by then clearly set in, so I went on to Llandewi and turned north. I was immediately impelled by a southwest gale which sprang up instantaneously. Leaves swirled about me forming drifts on the sides of the road, which was often flooded halfway across by the torrential downpour. Everything was saturated except a few sandwiches kept in polythene. I went to Blaencaron after making some purchases. A customs man from Hereford arrived, also soaked through. I thought of returning to Liverpool.
October 25 Sunday: There were torrential harsh showers and some snow. The mountains were white with it. The customs men had left his car at Dolgoch but resolved to go there at once and drive home in it. I doubt if the temperature was above 36’F. Several people came, two of them German students.
October 26 Monday: The former students consisted of a doll of a girl and a slightly bearded hobbledehoy who smoked a curious pipe. They were with an Englishman of the very clean-shave-marked features variety. He said little. They came in a car. I had it first intended to go to Aberystwyth but did not do so. But I rose early. I was in the room when the hobbledehoy arrived, all six foot three of him, wearing only vest and pants and some zipped shoes, the whole effect being one of a stork or heron. He made his way in to the doll. I wondered why he stopped a minute or two and did not appear dressed. I think it was, “See what I’m going to do.” After the three of them had gone the young boy came from the farm. They had telephoned last night and promised to pay this morning but had gone off without paying. At any rate he supplied his own whore. They were the first motorists I saw this trip. And little remarks made last night led me to believe that their default was well planned in advance. Again it rained all day and nobody came.
October 27 Tuesday: It was cool and showery. I stayed in all day. Nobody came.
October 28 Wednesday: There was a strong southerly breeze and it was clouding over, but I hit the road at 10.30 and was at Aberystwyth in less than two hours from Tregaron. I took the train to Rock Ferry and came up to 124 Mount Rd. A copy of Alan Morton’s “History of Botany” awaited me – the postman had left it in the porch. It seems a very impressive piece of work. There was also a letter from Tony Coughlan accepting my invitation to come at Christmas. That was a thoroughly unsatisfactory holiday, so I decided to take it easy for a few days, then to clear up the house and do a spot of organising.
October 29 Thursday: I sorted out a few papers. The Wolverhampton people have put off their conference to December 12th and seem to be turning it into a jamboree, possibly under Clann na hEireann influence. I also got a letter from Mark Clinton who is now in Sutton Coldfield. He is a very decent man, but desperately aggravating.
October 30 Friday: Noel Gordon rang up, guessing I would be back. He told me that the CP Conference on the Irish question revealed deep disagreement. Michael Crowe had been there and an attempt had been made to counter Myant’s nonsense. It seems that that gentleman thinks nothing much should be done at all. He argues that no Dublin Government would accept the Six Counties. He has shown himself a particularly contemptible character and we trust he will in due course meet his Waterloo.
In the evening Barney Morgan called in for a few minutes. He told me that he understood that the Irish Centre was prepared to offer us a room for the lectures on Irish history. I asked a few pertinent questions. Were they aware that they were going against their resolution? [Its conservative committee had previously passed a resolution against Connolly Association members joining the Centre; see earlier volume]. Will we be allowed to make a charge? Would they open the Centre at the time we wanted? He told me he had not raised these questions. In other words he had left it all in a fog. He suggested that he and I have a little talk with the secretary on Sunday and I agreed. Barney Morgan’s idea of negotiating is to find out what the other fellow wants and do it.
October 31 Saturday: Again I did little. I read some of Alan Morton’s book and started clearing the front room.
November 1 Sunday: In the evening I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre and we talked to Sweeney the secretary. It was clear that Barney had merely said that it would be good to have a series of lectures. Sweeney had been asked by his committee whether the Connolly Association was running them and had prevaricated. He had republished the gist of Father Faul’s article in the “Irish Democrat” but had not acknowledged it. I said I wanted everything to be above board and if they wanted the Connolly Association kept out of it then we must go elsewhere. Actually I would be prepared to go a long way, but not at this stage. Tom Walsh was there and agreed with my opinion that the thing to do was to write a letter. I will draft it and Barney Morgan can sign it. The Salveson lectures are off.
November 2 Monday: A letter came from Gerry Curran. It ran, “I was at the CP School on Ireland in Birmingham last Sunday. I’d never seen the Myant -Clann na hEireann alliance in action before. There were deep divisions at the school (sic!). Phil Rendle, Chris Sullivan, Michael Crowe and myself spoke against the ‘unity of the working class in Northern Ireland’ line. Myant tried unsuccessfully to suppress discussion. Irene Brennan has changed her mind about independence and Irish unity (since she got the sack – CDG) and is now on our side. There were two very good people from Surrey saying the right things. They praised the ‘Democrat’, the Connolly Association and recommended your ‘Irish Crisis’. The crazy Clann line is embodied in the Scottish resolution for Congress.”
I think we will treat Irene Brennan’s “support” as we would welcome the absence of rain. It might start again any minute. Gerry also said that his sister Nora Dillon and Séamus Treacy were pleased with the “Irish Democrat”
November 3 Tuesday: I did a certain amount of clearing up and read some of Alan Morton’s book. I wrote congratulating him on it.
November 4 Wednesday: The Connolly Association meeting took place in the evening. The Labour Committee on Ireland speaker did not arrive and Barney Morgan was late. I extemporised a talk on Irish history.
November 5 Thursday: A letter has arrived today inviting me to speak to Wednesday’s Trades Council. I think this will be Bernard O’Connell’s doing, though he thinks we are too “soft line”, being a New CP man.
November 6 Friday: Alan Morton wrote saying he is working on a poem, on a history of Scottish botany and a translation of Lenau’s “Albigenser”. Noel Gordon told me that Irene Brennan made a public announcement in Birmingham that she had “changed her position” on the Irish question. Her position! As if “her position” mattered a cat’s fart. To minds like that her personal “position” is everything. Later we will see if she introduces any new diversions. What would we call it? Intellectual exhibitionism. But there was more news. She is going up for the CP [ie. for election to the CPGB Executive Committee] and Myant is not. Presumably he is preparing his exit to the capitalist press. He is trying to prevent the Irish question being debated at the CP Congress. This Noel Gordon got from Philip Rendle, who also says Myant is opposing Irene Brennan’s going up for the EC. What right he has in the matter is anybody’s conjecture. Though it may well be that Rendle, who lives in this involuted world as his natural habitat, has got it all mixed up! They have sent me a visitor’s tickets and I will go to part of it. The whole history of the CP in relation to the Irish question is one of repeated attempts to escape from the anti-imperialist line, each a failure and each as enthusiastically taken up as the last.
November 7 Saturday (London): I went to London and met Noel Gordon in the office. I was out in Kilburn with Philip Rendle [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat”].
November 8 Sunday: I spent some of the day in the office. Noel Gordon tells me that Myant is trying to found such discussion as there will be next weekend on the Scottish District resolution. He showed it to me. It is pure Sinn Fein the Workers Party. According to Gerry Curran, whom I met in Hammersmith, Myant at Birmingham declared against fighting Partition. “The Dublin Government doesn’t want the North.” He has reversed his position in three months, thus revealing his worthlessness. Gerry says that Clann na hEireann literature was distributed inside the hall and that Tony McNally is strongly Sinn Fein the Workers Party – following his elder brother, I guess. Gerry says he lost his temper when Myant opposed discussion of matters of principle but offered to assist anybody who lacked “clarity”. He said he was quite clear in his mind and did not agree with Myant. Chris Sullivan and Michael Crow also opposed him and he thought there was 50/50 support. Of course we can see why Birmingham was chosen as the venue. Noel Gordon told me that there was some talk of threats by Myant to leave the CP. The career beckons.
November 9 Monday: We had the Standing Committee in the evening. I had gone through the organisational position with Noel Gordon in the afternoon. It is the best it has been for years. There is something being done in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Oxford, Northampton and Newcastle. He has re-started the West London branch. Peter Mulligan is holding film shows in Northampton and Glasgow is taking 48 papers like Liverpool, though not selling all.
November 10 Tuesday (Liverpool): I met Alan Morton at King’s Cross at 1 pm. He is of course cock-a-hoop about his book and full of his next exploits. John Morton is still out of work but is doing an MA in industrial biology. We discussed the state of the CP. Roger Kelly [a Belfast CA member and friend of Noel Gordon’s, who was also a Belfastman], thinks it is finished, but I expect there will be a reaction against the feeble leadership and a new generation will emerge. When they do they will have my support. Kennedy says John Moss is resigning as organiser. I am going to spend the next few months on politics, d.v., and I have a few ideas. Alan Morton thinks the CP is lost in a fog of opportunism. So do I. I am afraid I was only right to a limited degree when I thought the “British Road to Socialism” was a more or less harmless “pie in the sky”. As young Sawtell said, it was used as the promoter for things that were not in it.
As I came back to Liverpool on the train – Liverpool is now the strongest branch outside London – something struck me. We’ve driven the imperialist economists against the wall in England and Wales, so they’re playing Scotland against us. Therefore we must go to Scotland and work out an Irish policy for that country. The lack of this is the reason we must get the Connolly Association going there.
November 11 Wednesday: I am afraid I did not get much done, though I went on with Alan Morton’s book and found some interesting things in Coleridge.
November 12 Thursday: Barney Morgan called. I had drafted a letter for him to send to the Irish Centre saying that if they lifted the ban on the Connolly Association we would share the historical lectures with them; otherwise we had no chance but to proceed alone. I told him the details of the scandalous position in the CP, and indeed, now that I have no book to write, I am more and more struck by it whenever I reflect on it. I hope to say a few words at the T.A.Jackson Memorial Lecture which I am now thinking about. He told me that he attended a social held by the New Communist Party. Rigby is their secretary – the man who is responsible for the anti-Catholicism in their paper. The general atmosphere is that the USSR can do no wrong. JG was there. One of the members talked about myself. “Yes, a sad thing. He used to be a Marxist. But now he’s violently against Russia.” The world of silly imagination these poor devils inhabit! I told Barney Morgan that I expected that the Connolly Association would now expand in conformity with its function in the present situation.
November 13, Friday: I got little done today except to go into town to get the “New Statesman”, “New Scientist” and “Marxism Today” and read them.
November 14 Saturday (London): I went to London on the midday train and found Jane Tate in the office. Noel Gordon was at the meeting planned to try and unite the Irish societies. Later I learned that he had been elected the vice-chairman of the committee. I was out with Chris Sullivan, who gave me his account of Myant’s Birmingham event. He was very indignant. They’re teaching us! he exclaimed, apropos of Gerry Curran’s contretemps. The CP conference is in progress and Jane Tate told me she had sold 50 copies of the “Irish Democrat”. We believe Ireland is to come up on Tuesday.
November 15, Sunday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning, but called to the conference where I met Tom Durkin, now the soul of affability. He is going to speak on an amendment deploring the anti-Russian stand on the subject of Afghanistan. He told me that the arm-twisting is vicious, the pressures being put on people to support the EC quite disgraceful. I was present for part of the afternoon and heard him. His speech was eloquent but emotional and he made no reference to the Six Counties. He received a long period of applause. Finally Mick McGahey was sent up to oppose for the Executive. He used all his skill as a trade union debater. I remember Arthur Horner going up to support the Marshall Plan and using his similar skills in an equally discreditable cause. I judged he won slightly more applause and added to that people generally tend to favour the platform. There were interruptions to second several speakers, including Mick McGahey, whom I thought a trifle too antagonistic to Tom Durkin, as Durkin was too emotional. Wcw [personage unknown] approached me. They were thinking of running another school. Would I address it on the subject of past “solidarity movements”? I felt a strange dislike of the man. I believe he is a “creep”. I said I would consider it, which I will. Jane Tate got Noel Gordon a press ticket for Tuesday and I returned to Liverpool, where Barney Morgan met me.
We went to the Irish Centre where Joe England, the secretary, said he had received our letter and had got a proposal and seconder to the motion withdrawing the ban on the County Association members which Tom Walsh (Now they don’t want it) said was probably unconstitutional anyway. We then went to Warrington, with Barney Morgan’s mother and the papers.
November 16 Monday: I did a small amount of work on the paper. Tony Coughlan was at home when I spoke to him in the evening.
November 17 Tuesday: Today was Black Tuesday. Noel Gordon rang up to say he had been at the Communist Party debate. There were two composite resolutions, one good, the other bad. Several speakers for the good one did well and apparently Irene Brennan spoke affectively and came out categorically for the declaration of intent to withdraw, though it might have come better from a less recent convert. I wonder what her game is. Myant wound up for the Executive Committee and to Noel Gordon’s surprise got very substantial applause. He took up a position quite different from that of the EC meeting in July. He said the important thing was not the Border, but the split in the working class; when that was healed the Border would go. And the vote, by show of hands, could not have been more than 25% on our side. So now the CP has abandoned its internationalist position in yet another field and Noel Gordon told me that those who supported Myant were the wets and revisionists like Monty Johnson, or whatever his name is. The hardliners voted correctly. When Barney Morgan came in I told him what had happened and he was very disgusted, the more so as they intend to set up Irish Advisory Committees throughout the country. All this arises from O’Riordan’s miscalculations. First, he united the CPI and the CPNI and the tail is wagging the dog. Then he forced the CPGB to set up its Irish Committee, which gave the initiative to the imperialist economists. Noel Gordon, by the way, said that Jimmy Stewart, who had in his speech called for a declaration of intent to withdraw, sedulously avoided him after the vote. I think he probably put in the declaration on instructions [presumably from the CPI, of which he was a leading member] and agreed with their leaving it out [ie. on the part of the CPGB conference]. The question now is how far they will be able to press their advantage. One other straw in the wind. Some months ago Joe Whelan raised a few hundreds of pounds for us in the NUM. McGahey refused to contribute. It would not surprise me if there was an attempt to smash the Connolly Association.
Just after Barney Morgan had gone Jean Brown came in from next door with a pair of opera glass in her hand. In great excitement she said, “I think I’ve seen a flying saucer.” I went to the gate and there was Venus low down in the south-west. I saw a cloud pass behind it. “There’s a flame coming out on the right-hand side. Look – there’s another cloud passing behind it.” Now it was quite clear that cloud passed in front of it. I think the “flame” may have been a smear on the glass. Finally I convinced her and she was quite disappointed.
November 18 Wednesday: I continued to work on the paper all day.
November 19 Thursday: In the evening Barney Morgan telephoned. The Irish Centre had agreed to our holding the lectures on their premises and to urge a reversal of the ten or twelve-year-old exclusion of the Connolly Association. Nobody now remembers what happened. John McClelland told me at the time of a leftist campaign directed against the committee by the two Gormley sisters. The mover of the expulsion order was a teacher called McNamara. But several old priests urged it. Barney remembers one of them making an eloquent plea: “Some of you might go out to buy a cake, look at the decorations, the icing, the intricate designs, the luscious cherries, and when you cut it, how enticing it seems. And yet, my children, it is poisoned. If you eat it, you die.” I’m not sure I have the patter off pat. But that was the essence of it.
November 20 Friday: A letter came from Gill and Macmillan enclosing a photostat MS, also two copies of “Voices” from Mick Weaver in Bolton. The editor, Rick Gewilt, was the man who had me invited to Lancaster. There is a photograph of Paul Salveson in it. I am anxious to get in touch with him about restoring the Connolly Association in Manchester. Noel Gordon sent me the two CP resolutions and a list of addresses, also the CP Executive list. Both Myant and Irene Brennan are no longer there. The lowest vote was for Gerry Cohen, the next lowest for Dave Cook. Kevin Halpin and Tess Gill came at the top. People are not fools statistically, only privately!
November 21 Saturday: Not much happened today. Noel Gordon telephoned to say they had raised £150 pounds on a bazaar. I forgot to record that on Thursday I addressed the students at Edge Hill College at Ormskirk as a result of Michael Mortimer getting me an invitation. The senior lecturer was named Adam Martin. I spoke to his class and then at a meeting in the Union. They all seemed very decent young people and I think students have improved since my young days. I know I thought most of them fools then. Michael Mortimer drove me into town. He was on his way to lecture in Prescott.
November 22 Sunday: Today was very mild, about 55 to 57’F degrees, I would say. But I did not go out till evening when I met Barney Morgan and we arranged to have a Christmas party. At the Irish Centre we spoke to the Secretary, Joe England. He said the committee had agreed to give us the use of a room for the lectures, free of charge, which is very good. The withdrawal of the ban is on the agenda of the Annual General Meeting.
November 23 Monday: Noel Gordon told me that he attended another meeting of the committee aimed at setting up a single Irish organisation. He is a little worried at competition with the Federation of Irish Societies.
November 24 Tuesday: The weather has turned colder, there might have been a very slight touch of frost, but the Tropaeolums are in full, though reduced, flower. Other flowers out are poppies, borage, tarragon, tetragonolobus, marjoram, and a few other wisps of things.
November 25 Wednesday: Noel Gordon thinks he may have found new premises for us. Yesterday I heard the announcement of civil defence tests on RTE. I draw the conclusion that neutrality is dead. I rang Tony Coughlan late at night. He agreed about the neutrality, but I do not know if he grasps the seriousness of the position. He did not strike me as doing so. Of course he’s not seen it before.
November 26 Thursday: I got some badly needed clearing-up done and telephoned Barney Morgan, who had seen the “Irish Press”, which Noel Gordon told me about. I received a letter from Brett Kibble who is running the new branch in Glasgow. He says that when I am in Edinburgh on Tuesday a man from Dundee will come into town. I also spoke to Noel Gordon, Pat O’Donohue and Jane Tate. She said that Irene Brennan said to her, “I suppose Desmond will approve of me now.” She may have seen the light, but I don’t trust her. She is, as Jane Tate says, lightweight. Jane thinks Tom Durkin a much more important addition. She says that she had a word with Jimmy Stewart, who professed to see no difference between the two resolutions. She thinks he stayed with Myant and you can be sure he was in cahoots with him. I ran down Paul Salveson who spends two days a week lecturing to shop stewards at the Royal Institution. I expressed surprise at his being prepared to give a series of lectures on Irish history. I gathered he proposed to read it up. He knew that the lectures had fallen through and of course the Royal Institution explains the WEA connection.
November 27 Friday: A very heavy and trying day! I caught the 9.20 to Crewe and reached Ripley soon after 1 pm. The place was in chaos. They had had a breakdown of the printing machine just when Christmas orders were at their height and a 24-page “gazette” was required. I went for lunch. Noel Gordon arrived to take a load of papers to London. They managed 600 for London and 75 for Liverpool in time for Terry Reynolds to drive us like a mad thing to Derby, where Noel caught the London train by minutes. My train to Crew left late and missed the connection. I caught a train to Chester and reached Rock Ferry at 9.50. I was tired out, drank a half bottle of wine and went to bed, but not before I spotted some literals we had missed [ie. in the page-proofs]. I left 75 outside the door for Barney Morgan to pick up on his way back from a trip to Chester.
November 28 Saturday: Brett Kibble, the man in Glasgow, rang. He seems an able person. He has arranged a public meeting, but will anybody attend at such short notice? Barney Morgan tells me it is advertised in the “Morning Star”. He tells me that Myant is speaking in Swindon, his title “Ireland Her Own”. Barney laughed cynically at this. I saw the “Irish Post”. It contains a great account of the meeting held to unite all Irish organisations, complete with an excellent picture of Noel Gordon and Roger Kelly and a report of what they said. We have been saying for years that the Irish should organise. This time it has taken on. A month or two ago I got Micheál O Loingsigh to write to Brendan MacLua, who gave him an account of the Federation thing. I now see that Joe England of the Irish Centre is on the unification committee. The write-up should help the motion that comes up on Monday.
November 29 Sunday: I don’t know why I felt tired today. I hope I haven’t a cold coming on. In the morning Mark Clinton telephoned and agreed to meet me in Birmingham. Also Margaret Byrne rang from Glasgow. She and Brett Kibble will meet me at the station. And finally Alan Morton rang.
November 30 Monday (Edinburgh): I got up early and went for the train whose time I had got from the railway on the telephone. But the man on the barrier told me that I would have to wait for a connection in Wigan and would get to Edinburgh just as quickly if I waited an hour, and it was more comfortable to wait in Liverpool. So I had some breakfast and took the next train. But I found evidence in Preston that I could have caught the earlier one with advantage. Brett Kibble will be waiting from me at Glasgow Central and would see no reason why I was delayed. But I thought he would wait for the next train. In the event we arrived 15 minutes early. However, a few minutes later I heard my name called over the public address system and I found a young man, very much of Noel Gordon’s build and size, but somewhat younger, perhaps 24 or 25, a trifle ascetic I thought (he drank lemonade) but very mature for a student – he does Mathematics. I received an excellent impression.
We went over to the Trades Council office and met Jean McKie. She is the ex-wife of the McKie, now in London – about sixty years of age or approaching it – I think an Orthodox “soft liner”. She said of the Irish question, “This city is a time-bomb.” Obviously they are terrified of the possibility of sectarian strife, but the reality is that they draw their main Trade Union support from Orange craftsmen and do not want to lose it. The Connolly Association boys had arranged a public meeting – at two days’ notice – and I had just a faint impression that the CP would like to have been consulted. I mentioned this to Brett Kibble. It is no harm to carry people with you, provided you are not carried with them. We went to the University and met his girlfriend. Then we went to the meeting. It was a considerable success, with a number of CP people there, but not the Prendergast woman who was in Birmingham; indeed as Brett Kibble was also, though apparently he did not speak. He gave me a copy of an invitation to a “day’s discussion on Northern Ireland” organised by the “Campaign for Democratic Rights in Northern Ireland”. It is to be addressed by Henry Patterson [Northern Ireland politics academic, Patterson was a well-known supporter of Sinn Fein the Workers Party at this time] and Andy Barr, the man who, when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, refused to have it discussed. I can see them walking into the trap we walked into in 1948 [ie. when the Connolly Association failed to give full support to the Anti-Partition League because that body implied that it would join in the Cold War and the proposed formation of NATO if the British Government moved on Partition]. I took a train to Edinburgh and a taxi to Alan Morton’s place.
December 1 Tuesday (Liverpool): We sat up talking and Freda Morton said she was thinking of leaving the CP because of their policy on Russia. But Alan thought like myself that they were the not too powerful best of a generally bad bunch. They have their share of the British genius for taking up an indeterminate position. Alan drove me into town and I spent the afternoon drinking with Jim Innis and Geoffrey Brown of Radio Forth, to whom I had been recommended by Jim Tait in Glasgow. I forgot to say that Margaret Byrne was at the Glasgow meeting. She says living in the Six Counties is a nightmare. I left on the 6.10 and it was nearly 11 pm. before we reached Liverpool. Incidentally, Innis told me that some of the Dundee Labour Committee had seceded and joined the Social Democratic Party. As a tail-end to a long catalogue of complaints one of them called the decision to “commemorate an Irish Marxist”[ie. James Connolly]. So they all got scared and have called it off.
December 2 Wednesday: According to Noel Gordon, at a meeting in London at the weekend the Federation of Irish Societies decided to campaign actively against the Prevention of Terrorism Act. He wondered if Barney Morgan had spoken to Tom Walsh. He had heard about the Scottish “Campaign for Democratic Rights in Northern Ireland” and said Myant is constantly boosting it and that there it is held up as the great model. It corresponds with their policy of using a question to gather people round them, irrespective of the principle of the thing. I can see, moreover, how an attempt will be made to represent ending the border as in some mysterious way a blow against world peace. But if the Irish go into politics, they will have to think of that also.
December 3 Thursday: Barney Morgan came in during the afternoon. I showed him the advert of the Glasgow discussion, which suggested that the origin of sectarianism is “violence by both sides” – my paraphrase. I wrote to Brett Kibble asking for an account of what took place. Later Barnsby from Wolverhampton rang. I had written to him when he called the conference off, saying I would be prepared to break my journey to London to meet him. There are things I want to know. He took me up and we meet on Tuesday. Mark Clinton also promised to be in Birmingham on the Friday. In my letter to Brett Kibble I suggested a Scottish conference.
December 4 Friday: I went to the Royal Institution and first saw Mrs Jean Owen, a young woman who is arranging WEA [ie. Workers’ Education Association] courses. She is thinking of a Saturday school on Ireland, in March. She told me that the man who founded the WEA was Marsbridge. I said I remembered a man of that name who ran the “Jewish Learned Societies of Liverpool and District”. She said she thought he was a Londoner, but also thought he lived in Liverpool. She described his autobiography as very interesting (I later went into Birkenhead Library where they promised to get it for me. It is long out of print.) She told me that all the archives of the Liverpool Botanical Society are at the Royal Institution, which now belongs to the University, but they want to close it down. She had not heard of Doctor Lee [ie. of the Liverpool Botanical Society, who had influenced Greaves as a young man; see 1930s volumes].
Then I saw Paul Salveson who is working there two days a week. He has not only given up the job at Hathersage Road [ie. the address of the Manchester CPGB Office], but left the CP. He gave some vague reason relating to “unity of the left”, but I would prefer to blame the general demoralisation that seems to afflict that organisation (together with others). He has personal troubles too. His girlfriend is in hospital with cancer and I do not think he expects her to survive. Now, he would barely be 30 years old himself, so she must be young. He is interested in local history and does research. I booked him for a lecture and he promised to help start the Connolly Association in Manchester. He remarked that there had been a growth of Orange-Communist theory and that the CP appeared to have fallen for it. Yes, and they fell for it mighty easily. He says they are afraid of Unionism. That no doubt plays a part, but it is their position in the Trade Unions that influences them more.
The general malaise is illustrated by a letter I received from Brian Wilkinson in the Rhondda, who incidentally has an undertaking from Gwynfor Evans that Plaid Cymru will not be deflected from the objective of a United Ireland by the bomb that went off in London. He is most dissatisfied with the “Morning Star”. And Freda Morton is talking of resigning because of the anti-Soviet tone of the same paper.
I had a letter from Colm Croker [ie. of the publishers Gill and Macmillan in Dublin to whom the ITGWU had offered the book] enclosing some queries regarding the ITGWU history. He says that the Union are now “insisting” that the book be put into “production” before the end of December. It will be pleasant to know whether this is evidence of some skulduggery or of committee nonsense. I will tell him to say they are pushing into “production” and proceed as he pleases. They are not beyond the practise of deception themselves.
December 5 Saturday: Apart from writing a few letters I did little today, though I looked up a few things. I also wrote an article on Scotland, but I am not satisfied that I was rightly informed that there are no Irish organisations. I suspect that they are outside the ken of the Labour Left.
December 6 Sunday: I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre. The secretary of Comhaltas Ceolteoiri was there and she told me that she has two branches in Glasgow and another in Motherwell. Michael Mortimer and Finnerty were there, and a man from Crosby Labour Party.
I rang Jane Tate, who said only about 14 attended the conference to prepare for the lobby on the PTA. Among them was Bert Ward. Michael Crowe was staying with her and they had gone to a Convent Garden Branch meeting which MBo. had attended [full name unknown]. He said 75% of what she said was sound. Of course she is a country girl and could be confused. His view of the CP resolution is that it could mean anything and that good intentions are surrounded by fog of verbiage. I doubt it. I suspect bad intentions. The swallowing of the Belfast economism is camouflaged by worthy sentiments, though again people do not always recognise what they are doing. I went to Warrington with Barney Morgan in the evening. At the Irish Centre we saw Mrs Monaghan and Joe England, who is taking up the issue of plastic bullets.
December 7 Monday: In the afternoon Tom McCarthy rang from Rathmines. He said he understood I had been in touch with Michael Gill about the “flavour” of the Union history. I told him I had not. He then referred to Colm Croker and said in some agitation that he must ring Michael Gill. When he spoke of the revised MS, he showed evident nervousness. So he is doing a job for somebody he is afraid of. I told him I had met all the legitimate points made by his readers and took him aback when I told him that it was my policy to take the points of a fool because a point one fool might make might be made by another. I will write a letter tomorrow when I have figured out what the position is. If you deal with an institution you are at the mercy of its internal politics.
Barney Morgan rang me at 10.30 and said that we lost badly at the Irish Centre. Joe England, Harry McHugh and McNamara all voted for us – in all ten. But twenty were against and eighteen abstained. All the old hands were favourable, including those who had been against us 14 years ago. Tom Walsh says he will chair one of the lectures and Joe England says there is no question of cancelling the letting, though I can imagine difficulties.
December 8 (London): I left for London so didn’t bother to write to McCarthy. When I reached Lime Street it was bright, with the first frost of the autumn. But a notice board said that owing to heavy snow falls trains would be delayed. “Where’s the snow?” I asked the ticket collector. “London, Euston”, he replied. There was a light coating at Stafford and more when I got off at Wolverhampton and met Dr George Barnsby, a retired local historian and PhD. He is in touch with a local Catholic priest, Father Roche (I think that’s the name), and one or two other ecumenicals and they are trying to do something about the Irish question. He knows nothing about it. In the end I told him not to invite Daltún O Ceallaigh, as I didn’t want his time wasted, as it would be if people of widely differing views come on one platform. I advised him to confine it to civil rights, that is if he didn’t want chaos. Jane Tate then said that Myant had expressed a desire to speak. Barnsby is quite a decent man, but not quite clear what he wants.
I went on to London, where the snow was several inches deep and half thawing. I don’t like to think so, but I fear we are in for a very bad winter which would deal heavy blows both at our programme and the paper. I heard something of the Glasgow caper. They came out against a “power-sharing, Executive” and for a devolved Parliament with fiscal rights.
In the evening. I spoke to the re-established West London branch [ie. of the Connolly Association]. Pat O’Donohue took the chair, so much has he advanced, and both Gerry Curran and Toni Curran were there. There is thus some degree of harmony and it would seem that the differences of a few years ago arose from the break-up of Gerry’s marriage. I stayed the night at Toni Curran’s.
December 9 Wednesday: I was in the office during the day and addressed the Central London branch in the evening. I am concerned to avoid the dilemma of 1947-49 when we found ourselves manoeuvred into the position of being “bad Republicans” because we allowed the question of ending the border and joining NATO to be interlinked. In some of the Glasgow material this happened.
Afterwards Jane Tate said that Egelnick had invited her to join a London Irish Committee he is setting up. He raised the question with characteristic arrogance. He has not invited Pat Bond. It is Philip Rendle’s opinion that part of the reason for this move is that the National Irish Committee instructed Burt Ward to support the West Middlesex (good) resolution, that nothing acceptable issued from the Irish Committee and that Myant had to rely on the Scottish one. I can see that Noel has allowed the Central London branch to fall to bits. He does not get in till 11 am., does the shopping and even makes the meals while Helen Murray is “studying”.
December 10 Thursday: I was in the office during the day. In the evening I gave the same speech to South London. Pat Bond and Roger Kelly were there and a group of young people from Bermondsey Labour Party, all very bitter against Michael Foot for his stab in the back [Foot was leader of the Labour Party. The stab in the back probably related to the fact that he had recently become leader partly at the expense of the left-wing champion Tony Benn]. Despite the snow there was a reasonable attendance. Stella Bond was there.
December 11 Friday: I was in the office in the morning. I was due to meet Mark Clinton at New Street, but all timetables had been cancelled owing to worsening weather conditions, and since there was a train to Liverpool at 4pm. I took it and had a tolerably comfortable if rather slow journey. I found letters from Colm Power and Jack Perkins and Dorothea.
December 12 Saturday: Frost, ice, packed snow and brilliant sunshine alternating with freezing fog! There was nothing to be done but put all the electric heaters on because the fool Co-op sent me the wrong kind of anthracite. It will cost a fortune! Colm Croker sent me another batch of queries and is still talking about a “deadline”.
December 13 Sunday: Another filthy cold day, snowing a good part of the time. Noel Gordon told me there was a blizzard in London.
December 14 Monday: When I got up, I saw a foot of snow on the ground, with every prospect of its lasting weeks. Then it began to thaw and rain. I went into Birkenhead. There was a brook running down Grange Road. twisting and turning between banks of dirty snow. Then it began to freeze again. The anthracite arrived and they took away the wrong stuff.
December 15 Tuesday: I finished some material for Colm Croker and will post it tomorrow. It was still thawing in the day but froze again at night. God knows what it will be like in February! I went into town and checked that all was well for our social in The Mitre tomorrow. It was as well I did. The management had changed and there was no record. I got it booked.
December 16 Wednesday: The social was a flop and it was Barney Morgan’s fault. He wanted to see me in the afternoon. He came and explained that the musician’s car had broken down and he had left his accordion or some amplification devices at John Gibson’s, from which Barney was to collect them. This vagueness was possibly due to a notion that I would think the accordion would be there. He then said he could not get there early. He had to pick up the mott at Clatterbridge at 8 pm., so would I go and hold the fort till 8.45. He arrived at just after 10. The musician was there and no accordion and the people who came for a social went away. This is typical of Barney. I saw it in the discussion with the Irish Centre. Noel Gordon told me that the “Irish Post” has a report of the Irish Centre meeting which confirmed their ban. Brian Stowell was there.
December 17 Thursday: Another day of ice, though fair. They have been breaking the ice with pickaxes across the road. It is the worst frost since 1963. I did little.
December 18 Friday: Another vile day. Noel Gordon is trying to get rooms with the Battersea Labour Party. All other alternatives fell through. Steve Huggett was taken ill while staying with friends in Norwich. Noel Gordon has his car with nowhere to park it. I had a rather distraught letter from Betty Sinclair. I am afraid she’s going to pieces. She talks about the funeral she’s going to get, and there are dark hints about local enemies. I sent it to Joe Deighan, just to be sure she is being looked after. According to the “Manchester Guardian”, the CPGB has issued a statement on Poland which meets with editorial approval. I was talking to Roy Frodsham at the social Bernie Morgan ruined. He said he “could see both sides”. I did not realise he was so intelligent. “When rights are equal, force alone decides.” It will be a miracle if world anarchy does not end in World War.
December 19 Saturday: Just when all seemed at its worst a thaw began an a south wind brought high cloud. My outflow pipes which were blocked freed themselves. Paul Salveson rang up about a meeting in Bolton.
December 20 Sunday: I did little today. But despite its being Sunday there was a poster delivery with a letter from. Valerie in Oakhampton [ie. Valerie Flatman, a cousin of his]. Another batch from Colm Croker and one or two other things. The BBC is whipping up war hysteria and I greatly fear the Third World War is on the way. There is a general dereliction of leadership and this CP is a disgrace. They have not the courage of their convictions. They don’t demonstrate with Duffy at the Polish Embassy, but why they do not I can’t tell.
December 21 Monday: I was not able to do much. The thaw continued but by evening it was snowing again. It might go on for months. Today is only the first day of winter. Noel Gordon told me that Steve Huggett was thrown through the windscreen of a friend’s car which skidded on the ice near Basingstoke. He had 54 stitches!
December 22 Tuesday: Noel Gordon rang. He leaves for Belfast tonight by ‘bus to Stranraer. I don’t envy him! He said he passed Central Books on Saturday. Not only have they displayed a photograph or poster advertising Sunday’s march on the Polish question, but they had another poster which said “Russians Out”. It is hard to visualise a more contemptible lot. Noel says the London District are demanding anti-Russian action – revision of some Congress decision. But St. John Street have issued no statement. I finished another batch of Croker’s questions and telephoned Steve Huggett.
December 23. Wednesday: No let-up in the cold weather. I spent the day buying things.
December 24 Thursday: in the evening Tony Coughlan arrived for a couple of days before going on to Scotland and London. TCD is closed down and the staff on leave, otherwise one can be sure he would be working. All the same, it doesn’t seem to take a thing out of him. He had been to the Mass in D with Bebhinn, who is studying industrial design. Egon is at the School of Art in Kildare St. [Bebhinn and Egon MacLiam were two children of his Dublin friends, Cathal and Helga MacLiam]. In the morning Betty Sinclair was on the phone for nearly an hour.
December 25 Friday: Quite early in the morning the telephone rang. It was Michael O’Riordan who gave me the bad news that Betty Sinclair was dead. The funeral was probably to be on Tuesday. I told him I could not get there for then – or do not know that I can. I rang Edwina Stewart and asked her to try to make it Wednesday, and she said she would urge it on the relations. All the railway stations here are closed, so you cannot make enquiries. It seems there is to be an inquest and post-mortem. Later Joe Deighan rang to wish us a Merry Christmas and he was shaken when he heard the bad news. Tony Coughlan said they had discussed the letter I sent to Joe Deighan saying I was worried about Betty Sinclair. And Joe Deighan said she had mentioned suicide. He hoped it was not that.
December 26 Saturday: I told Barney Morgan about Betty Sinclair; also Pat Bond who contrived to make contact with Jane Tate. Edwina Stewart rang saying it was to be Wednesday and I rang Cathal MacLiam to say I was coming to Dublin and that Jane Tate was probably to be with me.
December 27 Sunday: We did little but talk – largely about Betty Sinclair’s sudden death. The “Irish Times” rang me and asked for an obituary and I spent the afternoon on it and rang it through to them. I also rang Noel Harris.
December 28 Monday: Tony Coughlan left for Scotland [where he was visiting friends]. Jane Tate rang to say she had been in touch with Michael O’Riordan who now knew what had happened in Belfast. An electric fire had been placed too near the bed. An eiderdown had slipped on to it and caught fire. Betty managed to escape from the flat but the minute she was outside collapsed and died, from what is not yet known, possibly a heart attack. She was not burnt. When I heard this was not death from natural causes I felt more upset. Noel Harris rang to say he is coming and I told Cathal.
December 29 Tuesday (Dublin): I met Jane Tate at Chester and Noel Harris, who was on a different part of the train, joined us. Despite the gale warnings we had a great crossing on the good boat, the St. Columba, and Cathal met us. Jane Tate and I stayed at 24 Belgrave Road and Noel Harris stayed with Roy Johnston. Helga has a bad cold. Conor Mac Liam has failed in his exam and is up to his neck in “Militant” Trotskyism [Conor was another one of the MacLiam children].
December 30 Wednesday: Helga drove Cathal, Conor and myself to Amiens Street. There we found about 40 people. Fergal Costello (FC2) arranged a “group fare”, which was £10. Among those travelling were Michael O’Riordan, Mairin Johnston (Costello), the Mooneys, OoM [name unknown] and many more. We went to the CP rooms, Joe Deighan and Dorothy meeting us, and there saw Joe Bowers who seemed to be making the arrangements. The initial ceremony was at the Co-op Chapel in Ravenhill Rd. There was tape music, which I hate, and two speeches were given, by Bowers and Jimmy Graham. Among those present were Donal Nevin, Rory Roberts, Denis Larkin, Tomas MacGiolla, Bert Ward and Kevin Halpin from the CPGB, and many more who could not get in. At the cemetery Michael O’Riordan gave an oration (The “Irish Times” contained my obituary of Betty Sinclair). There was a considerable crowd, among them Bobby Heatley and John McClelland. Kevin Agnew was present, but not Jimmy Stewart and Edwina Stewart, who had gone on holiday, or Andy Barr, who refused to come back from London. There were hard feeling about this. Hughie Moore was there, and Madge Davison with her sister, and Ann Hope. I forget how many people I spoke to – some of whom I had not seen for years. It seems it is not quite clear how the accident happened. It might have been a cigarette which ignited a mattress containing polyurethane. The post-mortem gave the cause of death as asphyxiation, and it seems likely that Betty Sinclair was killed by fumes, though she staggered out of the room. Among those present was of course Tom Redmond, but Sean Redmond who had intended to come, was detained at a meeting.
Some of us did not go to the “booze-up”. Instead Noel Gordon and Helen Murray and Joe Deighan, Dorothy, Cathal MacLiam, Conor, John McClelland, and Bobby Heatley went to McGlade’s. For some reason Betty Sinclair disliked Bobby Heatley – she had her prejudices. I mentioned this to him. He said a few months ago they made it up. She thought he had treated Edwina Menzies (Stewart) badly, possibly by going to England. I forget if this was before Jimmy Stewart married her. I think Bobby Heatley wise to have refrained. Bobby Heatley also said that Patterson joined Sinn Fein the Workers Party in November. John McClelland has not changed his views. He is prepared to do something in politics but can see nothing useful he can do. I suggested CND and he told me he had been thinking of it. I also had a chat with Helen Murray’s father, who as a member of Belfast Trades Council was at the lecture I gave to it a few years ago. We got back to the station in time and some of the party returned to Dublin.
On the way, Tom Redmond asked me if I would write the life of Betty Sinclair. I declined. I thought some younger person should do it, as it must not be done at once. Sean Nolan returned to Dublin but Michael O’Riordan did not. Noel Harris showed me a “Belfast Telegraph” which reported Michael McGahey as making a shocking statement about Poland, in which he ended up with a reference to Saint Barbara. Tom Redmond said his degeneration was particularly deplorable. We returned, that is Cathal MacLiam, Conor MacLiam, Jane Tate and I to 24 Belgrave Road and found Helga somewhat worse. The children were holding a noisy party in Finula’s flat in the basement.
Cathal told me that his father is still in the nursing home and that he himself pays £50 a week, while Conor makes up the other £35. Young Killian is as wild as ever. Two years ago he and another boy set fire to a shed. Cathal accepted responsibility and had to pay £600. He then got a book on juvenile delinquency and read out descriptions of industrial schools and assured young Killian that if ever anything similar took place the entreaties of his fond Mama would not avail to preserve him. So far there has been no repetition [In fact the person responsible for the aforesaid fire was Killian’s companion, a youngster later diagnosed to be mentally disturbed].
December 31 Thursday (Liverpool): We took a taxi to Dun Laoire, found that it was again the St. Columba and not that flat-bottomed monstrosity the St. David, and had a pleasant crossing. I caught a quick connection at Chester and was back at 2 pm.
January 1 Friday: By a miracle, as it seems, the weather has turned milder, but there is a deal of snow about. Tony Coughlan rang from Cal O’Herlihy’s [whose house was in Blackheath, London] that he is coming tomorrow.
January 2 Saturday: Tony arrived in the afternoon and we had a meal in town. He tells me that Cal O’Herlihy’s wife has cancer of the breast and that Cal has been exerting himself immensely and has secured a regression. He has even been to the USA to see experts and has almost read an MB [Bachelor of Medicine] course on the subject. It is a pity, for she is a decent woman [This was his second wife, by whom he had a child. He had had two children by his first wife. His third wife died of cancer some years later].
January 3 Sunday: Restless as ever, Tony Coughlan had to be off today. I think TCD opens tomorrow.
January 4 Monday: I was on the phone to Jane Tate, who says Noel Gordon is not back yet. The mild weather continues.
January 5 Tuesday: In the evening Barney Morgan called in and I tried to get a bit done for our history lectures. He is a bit like Noel Gordon – lets things slide, then pulls himself up with a jerk. Later Noel rang to say he was back, and not before time. I suspect Helen Murray delayed him until she was resuming her course.
January 6 Wednesday: The cold weather is back. I managed to get a little done on the ITGWU book.
January 7 Thursday: I did some more on the book.
January 8 Friday: I had intended to catch the 7.20 am. and go to Ripley early. But to my surprise everything was under half an inch of snow. I went for the 9.20 am. and only just caught it. It took the ‘bus half an hour to get to Hamilton Square. The weather got steadily worse. Noel Gordon arrived at 2.30. It had taken him three hours to come from London, where it was deeper. We got the paper finished and Terry Reynolds took us into Derby. The train was due to leave for Crewe at 4.30. It left at 5.5 and reached Stoke-on-Trent at 7 pm. There it stopped and we had to change. The next train was just behind so that we lost little time. But it took over an hour to get to Crewe. There a points failure south of Crewe was reported and the question was whether a Liverpool train previously reported at Nuneaton had passed that point. Apparently it had. It pulled in soon after 9 pm. and the snow lessening as we approached the coast, we got into Lime Street at 9.55, just in time for them to close the bar, much to our disgust. I crossed to Hamilton Square and took a taxi. Around Stoke-on-Trent the snow was level with the rails, but this was not so here. There had been about 2 1/2 inches. I learned that the London train was the only one to run this afternoon, leaving at 3.45. But the spurt put on in Chester enabled people to get to Ireland.
January 9 Saturday: I heard from Croker who said the mad rush is to bring out the book in time for the ITGWU conference in May. I suspected something like this. Noel Gordon told me that his train, due out at 4.45, was cancelled. They all got into another, which left about 6 pm. and reached St. Pancras at 10. He also told me that Noel Harris has joined Myant’s Irish Committee and that Myant thinks he’s got a great capture. It is likely to prove a Trojan horse. On this occasion, according to Philip Rendle, Myant came out clearly and named the Connolly Association as the enemy. This conference committee – sometimes advertised as the Labour Committee on Ireland, sometimes as the Committee for Withdrawal – is meeting again at the “Morning Star”. But the London Labour Committee on Ireland has been taken over by the ultra-left (So says Noel Gordon, though it seems unlikely as the Labour Party “left” are the economist “Militant Tendency”). The Northern Ireland trade unionist who is talking about coming is McAliskey, Bernadette Devlin’s husband. Pat Byrne asked me to chair the conference, but I think I will make an excuse. According to Philip Rendle Myant is not too easy with his new bedfellows. I wish him joy of them. He thinks however that the Connolly Association is seriously weakened by not being a sponsor. Now the facts are that we were invited to sponsor and did so. Then we found that we were not receiving equal billing. We asked for this and the Labour Committee on Ireland secretary said we should have it. But there was no reply to our letter and our name disappeared from the list of sponsors. This, if it was not at Myant’s initiative, must have been a cause of satisfaction to him. According to Noel Gordon also, there is a London Irish Committee run by Marion Banks, or whatever her name is. There is no doubt Michael O’Riordan started the avalanche, and as I told Sean Nolan, it will only be to the advantage of Sinn Fein the Workers Party, though of course after a while there will be a reaction against that.
January 10 Sunday: The weather was icy cold. Outlets are frozen up, though mercifully the taps are running. I went on with the Croker job.
January 11 Monday: Half the time is spent spend trying to keep one room warm. I ordered another five hundredweight of anthracite.
January 12 Tuesday: Similar conditions. I did a little on the Croker job.
January 13 Wednesday: If anything worse. Nothing runs anyway. The sinks have to be bailed out. It is 1895 again. Barney Morgan came in.
January 14 Thursday: Same again. A little done on the Crokery.
January 15 Friday: The thaw has begun. The savage cold has abated, but I expect it to be back again. Noel Gordon rang.
January 16 Saturday: More on the book. The thaw continues. Barney Morgan and I attended a meeting aimed at starting a general Irish organisation.
January 17 Sunday: In the evening Padraig Ó Snodaigh gave a lecture under Connolly Association auspices at the Irish Centre. It was a considerable successful. MacEntaggart of the New Communist Party was there and tried to justify the folly of their breakaway by saying they would have been kicked out. I doubt it. But I do credit his assertion that they were allowed very little access to the CP press. He quotes Lenin’s break with the Mensheviks, but he does not ask himself what direction he should go in to get things resolved.
January 18 Monday (London): It could not be said that the weather was mild. It was chilly, but very much better. I went for the 12.04 train but it was cancelled because of yesterday’s strike. The 1.04 left at 1.50 and pulled into Euston at 5.50. There was so much mud on the windows that it was only possible to see that after Stafford there was some snow, but most seems to have melted. I went to the Standing Committee. Those present were Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon. Philip Rendle, Siobhán O’Neill from South London, Roger Kelly, Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue. We have a fortnight to find fresh premises and get out. Our finances are weak and there is no influx of new members. Gerry Curran however has started up West London again. Phillip Rendle announced that he is writing articles in the “Morning Star”. Later he was trying to persuade Roger Kelly to join Egelnick’s London Irish Committee. And in “Comment” [A CPGB publication] we saw an announcement that Philip Rendle is to organise a CP tour for Jimmy Stewart. Noel Gordon tells me that while the Connolly Association is very popular with Dublin, it is not so in Belfast. Noel was at the committee that is trying to set up a unitary Irish organisation. He says that unlike Martin’s, it is alive with headcases.
January 19 Tuesday: I wrote to Kaye [Liverpool CP secretary] telling him that the Connolly Association had been asked to supply a speaker to the Liverpool New Communist Party, and that I was telling him I was going in case he heard it some other way. Actually they are nearer the mark on Poland than the CPGB, but I’m not going to base actions on anything but what seems most constructive [The communist authorities in Poland were in conflict with Lech Walesa’s Solidarity trade union movement at this time]. I see little prospect for them but a continuing slow decline and wonder how they’re going to get out of it. Roger Kelly told me yesterday that the rot is widespread. He was upset that Ken Gill seems to be a trifle hot on the women, and Gerry Cohen is drunk by midday.
January 20 Wednesday: I sent off another batch of answers to queries to Croker. I have now only the appendix. McCarthy rang up, beating about the bush. I think he is trying to chivvy Gill and Macmillan and thinks part of it is to chivvy me but is afraid to be too open about it. I asked if Croker could not be rung up. “I don’t think the fellow has a telephone.” The trade unionist cast in the role of employer.
January 21 Thursday: The milder weather continues. But for how long? Noel Gordon rang to say that we have found new premises with the Battersea Labour Party. It seems we were recommended by the local MP, Dubbs. It will cost £1000 a year for considerably less space.
January 22 Friday: I sent part of the appendix to Letterkenny, so now that Is out of the way. A very appreciative letter came from O Snodaigh with useful suggestions. It turned cooler again as I feared it would. I always regard February 12th as the nadir of the winter. Thereafter it canslowly get milder. Barney Morgan telephoned. He had delivered the advert to the “Catholic Pictorial”, but I fear he posted the thing to Doswell [a Liverpool Labour councillor]. I must check.
January 23 Saturday: I went into Birkenhead to post the appendix to Croker, only to find the main Post Office closes at midday. However, being opposite the shop that sells Retsina I bought myself a bottle to celebrate having reached this stage. I then provided myself with a chicken.
January 24 Sunday: I didn’t go out except to get the “Sunday Times” where I read of how an MI5 agent joined the CPGB and actually went to live with Betty Reid and her husband. Apparently she felt so bad about it that she decided to make a breast of it. It reminds me of how I got a message inviting me to go and see Betty Reid, whose father was, I think, from Lisburn. She told me that a young Irishman, whose name I forget, had deserted from the British Army and crossed to East Germany, then the “Russian Zone”. They immediately concluded he was a spy and popped him back. There he was given the option of going to jail or working for MI5. He chose the second and was demobilised, found work in London and told to join the Connolly Association. His job was to report the names of the people who attended each meeting of the West London branch, then meeting at the Workers’ Music Association. Another interesting thing is that the Russians have at last come out strongly attacking the Italian CP. I remember asking Jack Woddis on one occasion why the Italian CP was in favour of the EEC. He told me they thought they were bound to better off in a more extensive market. If they thought that they could not be very bright. So now one asks why people of such mediocre calibre get to the top of organisations.
I did a little clearing up and also started getting the poems ready for publication. Today it was mild again. Barney Morgan did get the letter by hand to Doswell.
January 25 Monday: I worked on the paper all day.
January 26 Tuesday: Another day spent on the paper.
January 27 Wednesday: Noel Gordon rang and told me that the London District Committee had held a meeting on Poland addressed by Gerry Pocock and Gerry Cohen. I have noted the latter’s proclivities towards liquid refreshment and the former’s general degeneration. For what reason I don’t know, the Executive Committee statement was rejected by a vote of 4 to 1. I wonder if people are waking up. Barney Morgan came in later.
January 28 Thursday: I got the last of the paper off. The last few days I have been making an experiment. I have still been troubled with the rash that began some months ago and have been chasing each spot with hydrocortisone. I began to observe the thing more closely. It develops during the day and regresses during the night. On Monday I stopped the hydrocortisone and took massive doses of ascorbic acid. Then I bought iron fumarate. It is early to say, but I am beginning to hope it will do the trick. The reasoning is this. What happens during the night? The immune system has an unrestricted action. Therefore, instead of suppressing it with hydrocortisone, stimulate it with ascorbic acid and iron. At some time the disease has to be tackled by the body’s own defences, otherwise it will never come into balance.
January 29 Friday: I did some clearing up and Noel Gordon told me that the Battersea premises are available. The Executive Committee of the Battersea Labour Party had agreed and the General Management Committee took 30 seconds for its decision. So he moves on Monday. The “Irish Post” has done us proud this week, a boost for the PTA conference and another for the Liverpool lecture.
January 30 Saturday: The weather continues mild and one begins to hope for an early spring, what we have not had for years. I remember 1927, a shocking summer, very wet October, a cold November and a very cold December – then no more, and an average summer to follow. I did some clearing up. It is strange not to be under pressure! I am starting to work on the T.A. Jackson lecture.
January 31 Sunday: It was so mild today that I thought of a cycle ride, but it was rather cloudy so I did a little in the garden. A gooseberry had layered and I replicated the off-shoot. Tony Coughlan telephoned. He had Eddie Cowman with him and they were going off to see George Gilmore. Tony thinks Labour will be well-nigh obliterated in the coming election. I had a card yesterday from Nicoletta [Nicoletta Da Comi, an Italian friend of the MacLiam family]. She has a daughter but she never provides an address, so I can’t reply.
Brian Stowell picked me up (there being a railway strike) and drove me to the Irish Centre where Flann Campbell, who had been with Barney Morgan, gave a talk on Ireland between 1169 and 1690 – rather a tall order. There was a good attendance, about 50, and the officials of the Centre are beginning to look well pleased. MacEntaggart of the New Communist Party was there, but not a member of the “Irish Committee” of the CP. The Gibsons have some Russians staying with them, so were not there.
February 1 Monday: It was still reasonably mild, but I did not get much done. I went into town and bought a “Morning Star” but was shocked at the high-faluting liberalism of some of the talk. They are sharing anti-Soviet platforms now.
February 2 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. There is another rail strike tomorrow, so Noel Gordon came from London. Things went very smoothly. I caught the 4.35 and was in the AUEW by 7.45 pm. There was a rather small Connolly Association meeting. Barney Morgan was there, but not Michael Mortimer, who has some kind of domestic commitment. One of the NCPs was there [ie. New Communist Party members]. We went to the Irish Centre afterwards and Tom Walsh agreed to take the chair at the next lecture, which is mine.
February 3 Wednesday: Noel Gordon rang up. He said Clive Soley could not speak at our conference at the weekend and asked me to go.
February 4 Thursday: Colm Croker rang. He has from his experience of printers’ layout made some interesting inferences from the copy of the second [ITGWU] rules that I sent him.
February 5 Friday: I had hoped to meet Paul Salveson in town but when I got to the Royal Institute he had left early. He had not received a message.
February 6 Saturday (London-Liverpool): I caught the 10.5 to London, and after a snack in the Green Parrot in Southampton Row – where we used occasionally to go during the war – I went to the Conway Hall. There was not a great attendance, but the variety was interesting. Tom Durkin was there from Brent Trades Council, but for some reason declined to speak from the platform as had been previously agreed, so that I had to step in. Noel Harris took the chair. A “Provisional” (very typical) told me that they were re-organising in Britain and that though the Army Council would not announce a ceasefire, they would be ceasing it and taking to politics. The new leadership was “left wing”. With him was the wee girl who was sacked from the NCCL for alleged “Provisional” sympathies. One of the Manchester IBRA [Irish in Britain Representation Group], Rick Hennessy, was there, and like the others of that group seemed a very decent young fellow. From the other “ethnic” organisations, there was a young fellow in his early twenties who came on a bicycle and spoke well. I think Noel Gordon is quite friendly with him and hopes to recruit him into the CA. He is Francis McCaffrey, a Belfast man. Una Milner was there and the ubiquitous Bert Ward – writing everything down and I’ll swear understanding none of it. Noel Gordon was furious that Roger Kelly had gone to a rugby football match. A number of Trade Unions were represented. There were about 30 odd people and a collection of £20 pounds, and more enthusiasm than I saw for a long time.
Afterwards we had a drink, that is to say, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Helen Murray, Noel Harris and Philip Rendle. The last is exclusively CP oriented and I think he only sees the Irish question in terms of CP advantage. Noel Harris was asking if this Irish Committee was worth bothering about, and Philip said it was. Noel said that at one meeting he attended Bert Ward took the chair and that he knew nothing about it. His impression was that Myant was the only one interested in it. No! We disagreed with him. He had not been invited to the last meeting as his membership had to be approved by the Political Committee and they had referred the matter to London [ie. the London District CPGB leadership]. This did not greatly please Noel Harris. However he is going to Cuba tomorrow. Then Phillip Rendle said it had been reported that I was taking the chair at the conference in a fortnight time. Apparently that had not waited for my consent. McGahey was taking the chair in the afternoon. This conference is mysterious. Not a single piece of publicity bears a signature. Some statements carry “Labour Committee on Ireland” at the head, others “Committee for Withdrawal”. Early on the Connolly Association was elbowed out and Myant expressed the opinion that the CA had thereby been “weakened”, which is his aim. I think he will work hard to rope in Noel Harris, but how successful he will be is something that will emerge. What I am afraid of is that there may be moves to split the CPI by converting the Northern area to “Eurocommunism” and I am anxious to prevent this. Pat Bond was there, also Chris Sullivan, Tadhg Egan and Steve Huggett. He has been nastily disfigured by a motor accident in which he was thrown through a windscreen. A pity – he’s a decent but unfortunate lad, restless, unsettled and accident-prone, though of course the accident was due to a blizzard and he was not driving.
When I got to Euston I found a large poster saying that no alcohol must be brought on the trains, I presume because of the rugby match. I had a bottle of Retsina. A policeman came down the train and I tackled him, largely to see what would happen. He assured me that it was no offence to bring alcohol on to the train, but only to consume it. But within minutes of departure the bar had opened in the usual way and I bought myself a drink and consumed it. This is typical of English law. Its purpose is to create an offence. If anybody was unruly they would be charged with consuming alcohol on the train, but the staff would not be charged for selling it, even though they might be essential accessories. At the same time it worked. There was no disorder at all, but few were travelling.
February 7 Thursday: The weather was so mild that I thought of cycling, but instead did a little in the garden.
February 8 Monday: I spoke to Noel Gordon on the phone. He was pleased with Saturday’s meeting. He says our new accommodation is arranged and he has no telephone.
February 9 Tuesday: It is still mild. I worked on next Sunday’s lecture. I also went for a walk.
February 10 Wednesday: I continued on the lecture and also went for a walk. The temperature must have been around 55’F.
February 11 Thursday: It was cooler today – around 48’F degrees, but good for the time of year. Tomorrow is from a temperature point of view mid-winter’s day, so we have done better than I feared. I went down with the lecture and went for a short walk. I wrote to Tolhurst, who has been in hospital and I think is not too well.
February 12 Friday: I went into the city and met Paul Salveson at the Royal Institute. Some time ago I discussed with Mrs Owen a one-day school on Irish history. However, a few days ago I learned that Salveson wanted a school on current issues. He wanted somebody from the Connolly Association and the Labour Committee on Ireland, he said, were sending Molloy. Now Molloy is not Labour Committee on Ireland, but CPI, one of this Irish Committee Kay started. And he knows nothing about it – though young Maguire told me neither does Paul Salveson. I don’t expect miracles from Paul, but I don’t want to antagonise him. I told him to go ahead, but not with me. So I saw him today. He tells me he is moving back to Bolton from Manchester.
February 13 Saturday: I did little in the day, but in the evening accompanied Barney Morgan to Warrington.
February 14 Sunday: Because of the railway strike I had to take a taxi through the tunnel. I was the speaker myself tonight, and once more the lecture in the Irish Centre was well attended. Tom Walsh took the chair.
February 15 Monday: I had to confess today that my medical experiment has been a failure. A return to the hydrocortisone.
February 16 Tuesday: The first batch of proofs came from Dublin and I started reading them through.
February 17 Wednesday (London): I went to London and met Noel Gordon at the House of Commons. Barney Morgan went with me but Michael Kelly did not show up. I had written to Field [ie. Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead], but his secretary told me my letter had not arrived. Though he came in later I missed him. He is crusading against the. “Militant Tendency”. They used to be our landlords for a time at 374 Gray’s Inn Road. I looked through the open door once and saw that everything in the room, wall, floor, furniture and textiles, was coloured a bright red. No wonder they went off their heads! There was, however, a very good turnout. The young Galwayman, King, came from Manchester. One of the MPs told us that there was a meeting in the Jubilee room on the subject of the PTA. As I knew Field was not there, I decided with Barney Morgan to gate-crash. When we got inside we saw Bob Parry (Scotland) together with Tom Walsh and two other officials of the Federation of Irish Societies, who turned out to be Hogan, the president, and Halligan (I think), the secretary. Dubs [Alfred Dubs, Labour MP for Battersea] was there and spoke to me about our premises with the Labour Party in Battersea. As we came out, the “Liverpool Echo” reporter came. He was taking Walsh’s name and when I explained that Barney Morgan and I were from Liverpool also and he noted the fact down, Tom Walsh was at pains to point out that the other lobby was that of the Connolly Association.
Afterwards we went for a drink with Parry [Bob Parry, Liverpool Labour MP] and I insisted on being introduced to the FIS men. First Barney Morgan and Tom Walsh had to go, then Hogan – perhaps it was Halken. I was left with the MP. He told me that this morning Tom Walsh had telephoned asking if the meeting could be put off. Why? Walsh explained that today the Connolly Association had a lobby and that we mightn’t like their intruding. “On the contrary,” said Parry, “They’ve got it all over the front page of the ‘Irish Democrat’ that they want everybody to be present.” He declined to change it. Now apparently Tom Walsh had asked Parry to arrange a meeting with Whitelaw [ie. William Whitelaw, Conservative Home Secretary] and he had agreed. He suggested the Connolly Association attend. Halken was asked would the Federation of Irish Societies object if the Connolly Association was present. He would have to ask his committee. After he had gone Parry asked me to write to him asking that the CA should be included. I think I will also try to get Kennelly or King from Manchester. Kennelly was at our London conference.
Afterwards Noel Gordon told me about some of the things that had been happening. The Trotskies have abandoned the Committee for Withdrawal, which can be regarded as defunct. They have gone on to the Labour Committee on Ireland, whose address is now Alisdair Renwick’s for organisational purposes. An advertisement was put out that I would be chairman of the conference Myant was working for. What it will be like I’ll not know except by report, as I had declined.
February 18 Thursday: I visited the new office. It is rather smaller than our main room at No.283, but it is better than nothing. Then at 5 pm. we met Jane Tate and Steve Huggett at the Elephant [ie. the Elephant and Castle underground station], and he drove us to Crawley where I delivered the T.A.Jackson Memorial Lecture to 25 people. To be sure but for the chaos caused by the rail strike there would probably have been more. George Whittenbury was there. He told me that when I used to go to Manchester in 1934 he was not a lecturer but a demonstrator [See Vol.2 of the Journal]. I forget the name of the girl who ran things. He said it was not a socialist but a “peace group”. Vivien Morton was there. But Leslie had not broached the traffic. Then Steve Huggett drove us back.
February 19 Friday (Liverpool): I left London about midday and on reaching 124 Mount Road found another packet of proofs. I also found a bill for the services of the accountants four times the last – £127 instead of about £35. Pat O’Donohue has been trying to get a reduction in the fee payable by the company. I was afraid that it would be transferred to me. I then got it for the company and we all go round the mulberry bush.
February 20 Saturday: I spent most of the day on the proofs.
February 21 Sunday: I spent most of the day on the proofs.
February 22 Monday: Again proofs.
February 23 Tuesday: I started on the paper.
February 24 Wednesday: The paper again.
February 25 Thursday: Most of the paper finished.
February 26 Friday: The paper finished – back to the proofs.
February 27 Saturday: Proofs again.
February 28 Sunday: The fourth lecture was held at the Irish Centre and was given by Flann Campbell, who now that the rail strike is settled was able to come by train. There was a very good attendance, with Barney Morgan, Michael Kelly and the chairman of the Centre in the chair, Joe England.
March 1 Monday: I went to Manchester and at Jimmy McGill’s shop found Sean Hogan, Sean Maguire and Kennelly. We decided on a drink to send Hogan off – he is returning to Ennis where he has two nieces following the death of his wife. We went in at 1.30. The proprietress was a Co. Clare woman, so we stayed till evening!
March 2 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs, and all went reasonably well.
March 3 Wednesday: I returned to the ITGWU proofs. In the evening I went to a peace meeting at the AUEW. Barney Morgan and MacEntaggart were there.
March 4 Thursday: I read more proofs.
March 5 Friday: A letter from Noel Gordon described Myant’s conference as a shambles, well attended but full of leftists, including the NCP. But a woman from Belfast made a sensible speech. Barney Morgan called in. We agreed that McEntaggart, who goes to Brian Stowell’s Irish class and comes to his lectures, is slowly learning. I finished the proofs. Two days ago. McCarthy telephoned. Some of them don’t want Larkin in the title. Carroll wants “ITGWU the Formative Years”. I said that would not sell a copy. I suggested one of my previous choices, “The Age of Giants”. This meant sending Croker two alternative final paragraphs. The Union had been told that publication may be held up by indexing. It would never occur to them that a change of title would necessitate changes in the text, and their nonsense has all along being the main cause of delay. Colm Power sent me a copy of the “Sunday Journal” which tells how Kemmy [ie. Jim Kemmy, the two-nationist TD for Limerick] is trying for an electoral arrangement with SWFP. Barney Morgan has a cutting showing how SFWP are penetrating the ITGWU.
I wrote to Kahn for advice on finding a publisher for my poems. Tony Coughlan said on the phone that he had information that publication in Ireland would cost £1,200 pounds, but he has not confirmed it.
March 6 Saturday: I sent the final proofs to Croker with a request that he should return the preface so that I could see if it read on the new title. I went through the poems carefully, extracted some and marked some for revision and possible inclusion after that. Apart from that I took things easy, as I intend to do for a while in hopes of getting my health into a better state. I wrote to Peter Mulligan, whom the British Library want to charge an extortionate sum for a microfilm set of the “Irish Democrat”; also to Gerry Curran about the second volume of Krause’s O’Casey letters, and Noel Gordon who proposes a conference in June. He was not allowed to speak at Myant’s nonsense. But he said Myant himself could have been worse. I spoke on the telephone to Tony Coughlan. He says that are fierce faction fights in the ITGWU where Geraghty, the SFWP man, has every prospect of becoming Vice-President in an election that takes place next week. SFWP is an Irish parallel of the British SDP [Social Democratic Party, led by Roy Jenkins, which had broken away from the British Labour Party].
March 7 Sunday: I took it easy today, but towards evening I took out the preface the ITGWU fools didn’t want and worked out how it might be expanded into a “Short History of the Irish Working Class” which Lawrence and Wishart would accept. The weather is damned cold. Otherwise I’d take a holiday.
March 8 Monday: I took it easy again, had another look at the preface and got one or two books together.
March 9 Tuesday: I went to Manchester to get a book to send to Seán Hogan. It was cold and wet. The rash started spreading on my arms and I had sharp shooting pains. I had intended to go to the Peace Committee representing the Connolly Association but was of the opinion that I was well to go straight home. Later on Micheál O Loingsigh rang.
March 10 Wednesday: I couldn’t say I was any better today. I found a life of McFarren which AEG [ie. his mother] had won as a prize in an examination for pianoforte playing in 1906. It contained some interesting material on controversies over harmony. McFarren was a supporter of the Day theory, which gives two roots to the augmented sixth. I haven’t read Day but the resolution is on the dominant chord of the minor mode and proceeds from a contrary motion in counterpoint. Barney Morgan came in the morning and later Noel Gordon came through. It is at any rate dry in London. Here it is cold with the blustery wind and heavy showers, and the glass down near 29 degrees.
At 7 pm. Barney Morgan picked me up and we went to Manchester. Lena Daily and the two Michaels were at the Irish in Britain Representation Group social – a vast affair. They must have made a fortune. Jimmy McGill and Seán Maguire came late. The most friendly of the IBRG to us is the Galwayman James King. However, he cooperated willingly in getting signatures on the book I am sending to Seán Hogan. We left at about midnight and Barney Morgan drove me back.
March 11 Thursday: I did little enough today, getting up late after the late night. A letter came from Noel Gordon.
March 12 Friday: I was not much better today but went into Birkenhead to post the book to Seán Hogan. A letter came from Colm Power who seems to be very active in the CND [Power was a longstanding member of the CA who had returned to his native Waterford and then came to work in Dublin], and Maolachlann O Caollai [former President of the Gaelic League] rang up in the evening. Barney Morgan called in. Maolachlann said there was snow in Dublin and it was miserably cold here. But dry and bright.
March 13 Saturday: I did little today, apart from pottering about the house. I see from the “Manchester Guardian” that Labour’s front bench urges abstention on the issue of the PTA [ie. the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which inflicted considerable inconvenience on the Irish community in Britain]. I have here a letter, not it is true from that charlatan Foot himself but from his secretary, to Mrs Gregory assuring them that Labour will act according to Congress policy. Soley and McNamara [Clive Soley and Kevin McNamara, Labour MPs for Hammersmith North and Kingston-upon-Hull respectively] are being told that unless they fall into line they will get no cabinet posts. This may have nothing to do with the PTA. It may merely be a matter of compromising potential critics and thus clipping their wings.
March 14 Sunday: I went into the city in the evening. Maolachlann O Caololai delivered a lecture on the language which was very well received. Barney Morgan was there, also Janice Walker who, Michael Kelly told me, has written some poems and wants them published in Ireland.
March 15 Monday (London-Liverpool): I went to London to a Standing Committee held in Jane Tate’s flat. Noel Gordon, Philip Rendle, Jane Tate herself, Pat O’Donohue etc. were there, but not Pat Bond or Roger Kelly. Among other things we agreed to sponsor a demonstration in which the Troops Out Movement is prominent. Noel Gordon says the Trotskies have left them and gone into the Labour Committee on Ireland. I returned the same night.
March 16 Tuesday: Gerry Curran sent me Vol. 2 of Krause’s collection of letters. His editing is much more mature. It is interesting that he did not join with the Lowery rat in denouncing my book.
March 17 Wednesday: Noel Gordon told me Soley had resigned rather than vote for the PTA. Also that unconscionable opportunist Myant had published an article today which gave the main credit for the fight against the PTA to the Communist Party – whose sole actions were to make a statement against the Act and send Bert Ward to our conference. The article did not mention the Association and said that the Labour Party and the Federation of Irish Societies had “come in” – this when Barney Morgan and I fixed the date of the lobby months ago in Tom Walsh’s house. Noel Gordon said that Philip Rendle told him that Lawrence and Wishart had asked Myant to write a book about Ireland. In one way this is a nuisance as I have just offered them a short history of the Irish working class. I didn’t go out to celebrate tonight [It being St Patrick’s Day]. I did not feel up to it and have to go to Wednesbury tomorrow.
March 18 Thursday (Wednesbury): I took the 3.20 pm. to Wolverhampton and a ‘bus to Wednesbury. The Labour Club is at the top of a steep hill. BOC [full name unknown] was there and I stayed overnight with him. He says people are leaving the CP and joining the NCP. I do not know how far this is true. Certainly the “New Worker” was very much in evidence at the Trades Council. There were about 20 there, and later we went a hundred yards away to the Catholic Club. This was the first year they did not celebrate St. Patrick’s night. The talk was on the history of Ireland.
March 19. Friday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool but did little. The weather is wretchedly damp and cold – in the low forties.
March 20 Saturday: This is technically the first day of spring. The forsythias have been out for nearly a week and things are beginning to freshen up, but it is still cold, though not quite as bad today. There was a good post, including £200 from Pat O’Donohue, the first substantial sum I been able to draw from Connolly Publications this past year. I also heard from Colm Croker. He told me that the ITGWU, without consulting me further, told Gill and Macmillan that they wanted Carroll’s weak title, “The Formative Years”. They didn’t like “Age of Giants”, as Croker remarked, because they were conscious that they were not giants themselves. Moreover, Michael Gill had sent explicit instructions that the proofs were to be sent to the printer at once, whatever their condition. I am keeping Croker’s correspondence. It may come in handy. I think what happened is broadly what I thought might happen. On reading their history, they wished they had another one. They sent the unrevised MS to two academics hoping they could upset it, but they could only pick silly little holes, which I said I’ll fill up. Now they are only interested in what kudos its publication will bring themselves. It will, I think, receive fair reviews in the main papers and SFWP will have to think hard before hurling themselves on it. Croker says they ought to give me a damn good dinner when they launch it. I do not even expect “Thank You”. And what is more, the fact doesn’t worry me. I’ve got away with telling the truth. It is out now and beyond recall.
A letter from Colm Power said that the CND executive in Dublin has dissolved the Dublin branch without warning and thereby pushed Colm into the cold. The secretary is an anarchist. There was also a letter from Noel Gordon and Rick Kennelly in Manchester. In the evening I listened to J.C. Bach’s opera, “Adriano in Siria”, performed for the first time since 1765. I found the music impressive. Not of course of the stature of J.S. Bach or Handel, but I would say weightier than Boccherini. I was thinking that since Skelly has not yet replied to my suggestion of a “Short History of the Irish Working Class”, which he was himself asking for a few months ago, he is considering how to refuse it and I can expect a putting-off letter, perhaps after he has consulted his committee. I therefore started considering as alternative doing the work on the theory of art which I started in 1940 and put down. Also I’m not quite so sure I am necessarily going to live as long as I previously hoped.
In this connection I had a look at Raymond Williams’s book “Marxism and Literature”. This is not Marxism at all. But would Lawrence and Wishart want a reply to the New Left which has an effect destroyed the old? Offer the “Short History” to Gill and Macmillan? And perhaps publish the aesthetics in Ireland?
March 21 Sunday: In the afternoon, after a dark morning, there was a clear sky, a Northwest wind (light) and a touch of spring. I did little.
March 22 Monday: I worked on the paper.
March 23 Tuesday: More on the paper.
March 24 Wednesday: I was rather surprised that Barney Morgan had not telephoned for some days. I therefore rang him. He told me that his mother, who is 84, is in Warrington Hospital with cancer and not likely to come out again. I went on with the paper.
March 25 Thursday: I finished the paper but arranged for Noel Gordon to go to Ripley as I do not feel up to it.
March 26 Friday: Though the weather remains dry and quite mild, I didn’t work in the garden as I had intended, but just pottered about.
March 27 Saturday: A letter came from Skelly, and my expectation was not fulfilled. It was most friendly and asked for another book. Indeed he suggests that I invite Tom O’Keefe to publish the poems. Tony Coughlan arrived with a quotation of £1,370 plus VAT from Micheál O Loingsigh – rather a lot I thought. He suggests charging £5 pounds and holding a launching in Dublin. He also told me that though the subdivision of the Dublin CND was undertaken somewhat high-handedly, it was necessitated by rapid growth of membership. We went to Southport. I did not recognise the front.
March 28 Sunday: I did little in the day but attended the lecture at which Tony Coughlan spoke [This would have been a lecture to the Liverpool Connolly Association branch]. It was well attended. Barney Morgan was there.
March 29 Monday: Tony left for London in the morning and I did little for the rest of the day. Noel Gordon was to get his telephone but didn’t.
March 30 Tuesday: Noel Gordon went to Ripley and I simply pottered about. It has turned cold again.
March 31 Wednesday: I wrote some letters. Ray Whitfield wrote to say he has now completely worked out the genealogy of Mary and Lydia Burns who lived with Engels. Later I went into town intending to meet Tony Coughlan, but for once the train arrived early and I missed him, finding him by accident later in a restaurant. Later we met Barney Morgan and others at the Irish Centre. Noel Gordon has got his telephone.
April 1 Thursday: The new month is here, but the mild weather was short- lived and today was windy, wet and cold and wretched. I wrote one or two letters. That was all. According to Noel Gordon there is a full account of the Conference of the Federation of Irish Societies in the “Irish Post” which shows them in something of a state of crisis. Only 58 delegates attended (Donald Kennedy, whose success against the “Times” has gone to his head, was trying to get Tom Walsh’s position as PRO). The criticism of the failure to act against the PTA has steadily mounted. The non-political rule has become unpopular [This rule of the Federation of Irish Societies, which mostly consisted of various county associations, forbade it from taking positions on political issues]. They are afraid of the Irish in Britain Representation Group and the London Society. It looks as if there might be an important re-alignment if the younger and more intelligent people like Tom Walsh take the lead to bring it about.
April 2 Friday: I did a little shopping, but nothing much else. I am deliberately taking things easy.
April 3 Saturday: To my surprise and dissatisfaction I awoke with a slight headache and sore throat and the symptoms of a cold. The skin disease showing slight signs of improvement. I did nothing much.
April 4 Sunday: In the morning Pat Bond telephoned. He had been to see Bert Ward, whom he thinks an “innocent”. He has however more than a touch of the same innocence himself. Apparently Ward complains that I tried to dissuade somebody from joining his committee. I can’t remember it – it might be Noel Harris, who has a very loose tongue. I may have said something disparaging about the committee, but it was up to the person concerned to make his choice. Pat Bond says this puts him in an embarrassing position when he goes to see Ward. I don’t know why it should. He is not responsible for me. However Bert Ward, who for some reason is guided in everything by Myant, has his own problems. Apparently he has written to Gordon McLennan complaining that the PTA conference which he attended was not reported and that a reference to the lobby in an article written by Philip Rendle was deleted. And seemingly an interview by Myant himself was cut. So even that little specimen has his difficulties.
They have formed an ad hoc committee with the Labour Committee on Ireland and propose to hold a conference on December 4th. “Ad hoc”! – what is the hoc?. They don’t know. I explained to Pat Bond that I had already expected somebody to try to muscle in on the PTA and had pre-empted the lot of them by publishing the “Declaration” in the “Democrat”. They can prance about, but they are forced to give historical effect to our campaign. He thinks they think the PTA a good bandwagon. Of course I am only interested in the actual movement of history. They fool about with “issues” and “slogans” “Round which” they can “build unity”. They have no interest in Ireland or the Irish, but only in what they fondly imagine is their party advantage. A few days ago I drafted a memorial to be sent to Chater demanding that the Connolly Association initiative be reported [ie. to Tony Chater, editor of the “Morning Star”]. Pat Bond hopes to get signatures. But I told him I want no concern with the hothouse of intrigue and wire-pulling in that quarter. I prefer the open air. Through their anti-Sovietism they have contributed their mite to the Falkland Islands fiasco. By their refusal to expose the reactionary nature of Orangeism they have assisted by however so little in bringing back sectarianism into Liverpool and Glasgow.
April 5 Monday: I have not felt well today. I had a brief exchange with Noel Gordon, who says the Haldane Society have decided to look into the constitutional relations of Great Britain and Ireland and want to discuss it with us.
April 6 Tuesday: I took things very easy today but spoke to Noel Gordon who tells me that the “Morning Star” have not disgraced themselves over the Falkland Islands issue. I wrote to Tony Benn congratulating him on his stand, and also to Frank Field, stating my opinion diplomatically. I told Benn that this South Atlantic expedition reminded me of Alcibiades in Sicily. I hope it does not end similarly.
April 7 Wednesday: I did very little. I am deliberately taking things easily and listening to the radio, where extreme chauvinism alternates with trepidation.
April 8 Thursday: I heard from Tom O’Keefe, so that I must get the poems together.
April 9 Friday: Again, nothing much done.
April 10 Saturday: I got in food for the holiday. Barney Morgan rang in the evening and we went to Warrington. His mother is gradually failing and the strain of going to the hospital every day is substantial. Actually, though he says it is telling on him, he seems to sustain it pretty well. He is trying to get her a 1916 medal before she dies [Mrs Morgan had travelled from Liverpool to take part in the 1916 Easter Rising and served in the GPO. She was not awarded the medal her son sought to obtain for her and for which he produced abundant evidence].
April 11 Sunday: I prepared my lecture in the day and delivered it in the Irish Centre in the evening. The room was crowded and I was highly grateful McNamara took the chair. Pat Doherty was there, and John Gibson and his wife – also Cole who seemed to me to be viewing the proceedings with superior amusement. This is the first that any of the CP committee have come to. Doswell’s sister from Arklow was there, together with her husband and Doswell’s wife. Their eldest son, aged 21, is a very bright-seeming young fellow said to be mainly interested in athletics and at the same time active in his Trade Union. The gathering was very impressive and did a great deal of good. Tom Walsh was there. Barney Morgan drove me home in his car, something I appreciated.
April 12 Monday: The cold weather continues. I have done nothing in the garden. The rhododendron is coming out and there is blossom on both damson and plum, but I do not expect much fruit to eat. I have some serviceable cauliflowers, but the seeds I ordered from Dobes’s at the end of January have simply not arrived though I wrote to them a month ago.
April 13 Tuesday: Precious little done today. I went into town looking for an electric fire, but there were none in the shops.
April 14 Wednesday: Another day spent looking for an electric fire. The weather is becoming milder.
April 15 Thursday: In the evening Barney Morgan came in. He rang Tom Walsh, who promised to see us at the IBRG meeting on Sunday at the Irish Centre.
April 16 Friday: I bought a second-hand electric fire. The weather was fine in the morning but turned cold after lunch.
April 17 Saturday: Today was fine and warm. I would say the temperature was in the sixties. I went into town. I also looked at a statement got out by a young Haldane Society member (Polytechnic, I imagine, from the grammatical errors). It is a distinct advance. I made some comments and will post it back to Noel Gordon. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the telephone. Roy Johnston sent an account of a new “group” proposing to “analyse” the political situation in Ireland. After coming to the first split infinitive, I threw it in the wastepaper basket.
April 18 Sunday: I did little in the day but in the evening went to the Irish Centre where the Irish in Britain Representation Group was trying to found a branch. Neither Tom Walsh, Barney Morgan nor myself were too keen on it. Fourteen came, of which seven were Connolly Association members. Tom Walsh and Joe O’Connor of the Irish Centre were there, three from Manchester and two Liverpool IBRG members. This Siobhan Sandys I do not entirely trust. The Manchesters were James King and Michael Sheehan. We were less than enthusiastic and when they spoke of all the things they thought should be done, we told them they were being done in Liverpool. However, I suggested they should start the committee and do the things that are not covered. If I had been totally negative we would have lost influence in Manchester. The other man from Manchester, whose name I am not sure of, is the best. They have filled a political vacuum in Manchester. and thinks there are similar vacua elsewhere. But though slightly disappointed they remain friendly.
On the table of the Irish Centre were leaflets announcing the publication of a new paper for the Irish in Britain, the “Irish Observer”. I can see it is aimed to compete with the “Irish Post”. Is it Fine Gael or the long arm of HMG? [ie. Her Majesty’s Government] I am not pleased. It won’t affect the “Democrat”, but the “Irish Post” is good. The Irish Centre had advertised in it, but publication date was postponed.
April 19 Monday: I telephoned Noel Gordon and asked him to find out who was behind the new weekly. He came back at lunchtime. He had been into Donal McGrath who told him that the editor, Terry Sheehy, had been working for Bord Fáilte. Of the two directors, Colm Turner worked for the London Broadcasting Corporation and Eric Nolan is chairman of the Dublin Countrymen’s Association. But there were two other points. First, that the most right-wing of the officers of the FIS [Federation of Irish Societies], Hogan, is in some way connected with it. And the plans were drawn up when FitzGerald was Taoiseach. Now of late the “Irish Press” has been very critical of the FIS and reportedly gleefully that every official position was being contested, Hogan scornfully insisting that he was going up again. I guess that MacLua found out about the move to start a Fine Gael rival to his basically Fianna Fail paper, and thought some changes in the FIS would not come amiss. Probably the Irish Centre advertisement and supply of leaflets arise from Hogan’s influence. I started on the paper.
April 20 Tuesday: I continued with the paper. I heard from Noel Gordon that we surmise correctly about the “Irish Observer”. The real effective editor is said to be Aidan Hennigan of the “Irish Press”, a rightwinger if ever there was one. Rumour has it that Sheehy is simply a front man. Hogan is supporting the venture solely to injure MacLua, but apparently Mac Lua, whom I would describe as left Fianna Fail and generally speaking not bad, is concerned but confident he will defeat the rival, which is being financed by a wealthy building contractor.
April 21 Wednesday: I got on with the paper.
April 22 Thursday: I met Tom Walsh and Peggy Monaghan at the Irish Centre and together with a sister from one of the orders we drove to Runcorn to the funeral of Barney Morgan’s mother. Alan Jones and the Finnertys were there. Then Tom Walsh, who now works in Birkenhead, brought me back. I continued with the paper.
April 23 Friday: I finished the paper, though no thanks to Gerry Curran who turned in only two scraps.
April 24 Saturday: I went into Birkenhead in the morning. Daltún O Ceallaigh has set us a fine task by deciding to fly to Manchester, and to make matters worse it seemed impossible to get him on the phone. However, he telephoned from Lime Street. I rang up Barney Morgan, who was in Parkgate. He picked me up and we found him just about to be kicked out of the bar. We went to the Irish Centre.
April 25 Sunday: In the evening Barney Morgan picked me up with Daltún O Ceallaigh, whom he had taken to Chester. He gave a very good talk [ie. to the Liverpool CA Branch]. Sadie Redmond, Tom Walsh’s sister, took the chair. Pat Doherty was there together with the son who is now reading about Connolly. If he gets interested he is bright enough to be useful. Barry is his first name.
April 26 Monday (London-Liverpool): I went to a Standing Committee in London. Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon and the rest were there. But Pat Bond gave an exhibition of his complete lack of imagination. This shows of course in his use of hackneyed phrases and ancient puns. But, bless us, these were not too bad. When the “Morning Star” published an account of the campaign against the PTA without even mentioning the Connolly Association, which had held a conference and a lobby of Parliament, and implied that the CP (which had made a “statement” about the Act shortly previously, and done nothing), was in the van of the whole thing, I spoke to Bond suggesting that a protest be made at the absolute boycott of all reference to the CA. According to Philip Rendle, Myant complained that the “Morning Star” cut one of his articles which referred to the PTA. But I’d trust that character about an inch, if that. I drafted a statement or petition to be signed by “readers”. What does Pat Bond do but, having said to Noel Gordon he thought the wording could with advantage be altered, and after getting signatures to it, suddenly brought the thing up in “any other business” and (after I had left) had a wrangle with Roger Kelly on who should be asked to sign, though it was not Connolly Association business. The fools on all sides! Only marginally less irritating than the knaves, though more preferable. I returned to Liverpool.
April 27 Tuesday: On a fine warm day, temperatures in the middle sixties, I went to Ripley. There were hardly any misprints and if I had known I would have saved the money.
April 28 Wednesday: I had a call from Tom McCarthy saying they proposed to launch the ITGWU history on May 27th. He took it more or less for granted that I would go. I am not absolutely certain that I shall. I might do Marcus Lipton’s ankle-breaking trick – but agreed for now. I think, on balance, I will.
April 29 Thursday: In the evening I went to a Merseyside peace meeting addressed by Michael Cooley. He gave a most interesting and lucid talk, raising questions I had not heard of before. He spotted me there and gave me his address. He has matured enormously, but one could still see the Chinese influence. Years ago he came to Connolly Association conference and took up at two-nations or similar position. We convinced him he was mistaken and he joined the CP Irish Committee, that perennial waste of time, of which I was chairman for so many years. We used to go to Mooney’s in Cambridge Circus. I recall an occasion when Robbie Rossiter was present and Cooley accused the USSR of preparing war on Germany. He spent a deal of time in Germany. Later he joined Dooley’s friend, an AUEW man whose name I forget, in a kind of pro-Chinese breakaway that came to nothing. More recently he has been fighting the run-down of British industry and received half a Nobel Prize. I suspect he is tolerated because of his anti -Sovietism, though perhaps I’m too harsh. I am inclined to think that the Establishment has a nose so keen that only those they consider sound on the main theme will ever be allowed to gain influence. But admittedly there was no anti-Sovietism tonight.
After the meeting, Pat Doherty, Barney Morgan and myself went to the Irish Centre. Doherty remarked that he used to be pro-Chinese. What struck me was that political parties, the CP included, are so constituted that new ideas such as Cooley’s have no chance of proper consideration. I can just imagine one of the CP’s innumerable “advisory committees” confronted with Cooley’s conceptions. They would be talked over and voted right out. So no wonder he left, in search of a more creative outlet. And of course that proved illusory. I suspect that this is one of the fundamental defects of committee-democracy.
Meanwhile, the chauvinism is worked up, though I detect uneasiness even among the business community [ie. over the British Government expedition to retake the Falkland Islands which had been invaded by Argentina]. Pat O’Donohue remarked to me, “Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”
April 30 Friday: I went into Birkenhead to buy the weeklies. In the “New Statesman” I found a book review which contained an interesting point. A medical man had advised against the use of cortisone in skin ailments because it “suppressed” the symptoms but did not cure the disease. I will order the book. Now this has a bearing on my experiment, which despite its failure I do not regret. And indeed this new evidence tends to vindicate my theory. For all that, I prefer to have the symptoms suppressed. But I must look for something else as well.
I have sent the poems to Tom O’Keefe. Skelly had had a word with him. I do not know whether he will publish them, though he may find somebody else. I excluded two or three, and I also wonder whether they are rather heavily loaded with Irish material for the British market. But I also have a quotation from Micheál O Loingsigh.
May 1 Saturday: I went to Leeds where I met Noel Gordon. We attended the annual Conference of the Federation of Irish Societies. The local officials are none too anxious to let us in. It was a fascinating “do”. I must write it up in the “Irish Democrat”. I got back at 9 pm. The weather has turned very cold again and there was hail.
May 2 Sunday: Today would not have done credit to December – cold, wet and windy. Barney Morgan called in. He had seen Tom Walsh. There had been no change at the FIS, though the “Irish Post” (getting at Hogan) had forecast it.
May 3 Monday: The cold weather continues and I did very little indeed.
May 4 Tuesday: I went to London and met Noel Gordon at Euston. Then we went to Marx House to look at some Connolly material.
May 5 Wednesday: Again, nothing much done. I am of course, “taking things easily” deliberately. I was in the city and went to Phillips the booksellers.
May 6 Thursday: I went to cast my vote (for Labour) at the polling station. There were quite a few people voting, a steady trickle. Then I went into town to buy fire lighters – fire is still necessary in the evening – and when I returned I found I had them already!
May 7 Friday: A letter arrived from Helen Murray, who is doing library practice at Marx House. The librarian had told us on Tuesday that there were 40 or 50 letters of James Connolly. We did not find one. But there was a draft of a letter I have a copy of somewhere. There were two from Countess Markievicz to Fiona and a letter from Roddy Connolly dated in 1960, when he donated the materials. Now I thought there were two deposits made, the second sometime after 1960 when Sean Redmond was in the office. It was after Fiona left him [ie. when Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards had left her estranged husband Bert Edwards, who held on to the Connolly letters although he was not entitled to them], perhaps 1962? She was very upset at his making the deposit. But it may have been as late as 1968. For we were trying to get Roddy over to recover them from Bert and he was over in 1968.
I wrote to George Stratton suggesting something should be done about the threat of a Falklands War.
May 8 Saturday: I’m surprised at the reaction to last night’s letter. Mrs Stratton rang to say that George was on holiday in Scotland but she would be seeing some members of the Peace Committee. In the afternoon the Dublin woman who is Sean O’Faolain’s – or is it Jim Phelan’s? – niece rang to say they had arranged a poster parade. I thought it was good. In the evening Barney Morgan and I went to Warrington. I was looking through some old Journals trying to trace the Connolly letters. I was surprised at how much I had totally forgotten. There are detailed descriptions of events I simply cannot recall.
May 9 Sunday: For the first time for several months I had supper last night, yet was hungry in the morning. A good sign? Certainly the rash is cleared from my arms and seems to be slowly easing on the legs and I felt better “in myself” and much less troubled with the stabs of pain. So much so indeed that I went cycling as it seemed a warm fine day. I went to Thornton Hough via Clatterbridge and back through Brimstage. It was, as I said, warm to begin with, but the sunshine was interrupted by sheets of large altocumulus and when I turned into the north wind at Thornton Hough, though it was not cold, it was chilly. I would almost have wished for gloves and certainly that the shorts I had chosen were three or four inches longer! Still, it was good to get the exercise.
The “Sunday Times” reviews a life of Robert Graves. I must see if I can afford it. There is a reference to Hodge [ie. Greaves’s youthful Liverpool contemporary Alan Hodge]. Apparently after breaking with Laura Riding Graves went to live with Hodge’s wife. The only reference to Hodge himself was that he passed on criticisms of Laura Riding made by the reviewer Julian Simmons.
Well, do I remember, possibly around 1934 or ’35, meeting Hodge on Borough Road. He was wearing bright yellow trousers. Where had he got them? He had been to Majorca. His ambition then was to be a poet, but he lacked the “ira” that “facit poetam”. He was comfortable, cosy, literary, in no way a humbug but with a touch of the snobbery of a man who wants to get on. He lived at 60 Prince’s Boulevard. His father was a sea captain, usually away, and I never met him. I used to go to the house where I met the musician Norman Suckling whose taste for the twelve-semitone scale was not mine. I remember once saying that CEG [ie. his father] listened to modern music. “Oh, I’m so glad.” I then instanced a choral work by Schönberg. But this would not do. He shuddered (he was only about 16) and said this would not do. “Oh no, definitely post-Wagnerian”. He used to cross on the Woodside Ferry to attend the Collegiate School. He would be in his last year before he went to Oxford. We got to know each other when we met at a lecture on Blake given by Middleton Murry, which was not up to much. Later we used to go walking and cycling together. Indeed he joined the CP after hearing J.R. Campbell report on the 7th Congress of the Third International at the Independent Labour Party Hall. But when he got back to Oxford he dropped out. I think he was looking for experiences. We never met again after I went to London at the end of 1936, though I noticed he became editor of “History Today”.
May 10 Monday: Yesterday’s improvement did not continue. At lunchtime Noel Gordon rang up. He told me that the “Morning Star” had an article by Philip Rendle on the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] in which the Connolly Association was mentioned several times. I said I think he must have reported Pat Bond’s indiscretion and they asked him to write an article! Bond has not put in his memorial. I advised them to do it with a covering letter acknowledging the partial amends.
It was warmer in the afternoon, but I went into Birkenhead thinking I might do some cycling in the evening. But a cold wind developed. While there is no frost here, the radio continually forecasts frost not only in Scotland but in England.
May 11 Tuesday: I wrote one or two letters. McCarthy rang to tell me about the “launching” of the book and Barney Morgan came in to discuss future activity. He remarked that the Troops Out Movement seems to have evaporated and, thought I, so does the Labour Committee on Ireland, and there is little sign of life from Kaye’s committee of ignoramuses! How often one sees this?
May 12 Wednesday: This was the first warm day, though the radio still talked of ground frosts in Scotland. That mad woman [ie. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher] is still despatching flotillas to the Falklands in hope that Pym, the moderate, will not bring off his plan for peace through the UN. It looks as if the human animal rarely produces an individual able to secure power and exercise it wisely, at any rate in these parts.
I spoke to Noel Gordon on the phone. He told me he stayed home with headache and general malaise yesterday. Now he has come over with red spots. I looked it up in a medical guide I bought in view of my own long vigorous health having shown signs of coming to an end (not with a view to self-treatment, but in order to know the rudiments), and it could be chicken pox or measles as far as I can judge – nasty in an adult. He is visiting his doctor this afternoon. I spoke to Helen Murray on the phone. She thinks she is able to look after him. I went into Birkenhead, and at long last managed to do some clearing up.
May 13 Thursday: Another fine day with temperatures into the seventies. I did some clearing up, but mostly read the papers and followed the Falklands crisis on the radio. I got a letter from McCarthy.
May 14 Friday: Yet another fine day, but with occasional clouding over. Barney Morgan called in the evening. I had got McCarthy to send him an invitation to the Liberty Hall thing. He was quite pleased. We went to the Irish Centre and had a drink with the assistant manager Paul Murphy, who is quite a left-winger in his way. It is remarkable how running the lectures has enhanced our status there. There was a telephone call from Noel Gordon saying that his doctor sent him to the hospital where they were puzzled, at first, thinking he had “German measles” and then decided he had an “allergic” condition, possibly caused by a virus.
May 15 Saturday: I spent the day in much the same way. Noel Gordon rang to say that his rash had disappeared as quickly as it came. I wish I could say as much. This evening there was a heavy thunderstorm. This is a very bad sign, so that the long-awaited good summer would seem to be still eluding us. Tony Coughlan is going to Germany to lecture for Dorothea [ie. for Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze at her University of Halle -Wittenberg in the GDR], so he will miss the “launch”.
Noel Gordon told me that Pat Bond has 17 signatures on his memorial to the “Morning Star”, including those of Tom Durkin and Joe Whelan. He says he and Helen Murray were in an Indian restaurant where at the next table sat Chater and a woman Helen met at the Marx Library. She wonders whether the voice was raised for her benefit, for she overheard from the woman, “He’s the only one from the Irish community who ever helped us.” Naturally we wondered who was intended. You can see this attitude in Kaye and his committee. An actual movement does not interest them. It must help them. And instead of encouraging any of his boys who are interested in Ireland to swim like fish in the Irish movement, he cuts them off with a sectish little committee where they can learn nothing. On the other hand, Palmer in “The Guardian” says how much “Marxism Today” has improved. It publishes articles in favour of the EEC! [ie. John Palmer, former Trotskyist, European Correspondent of “The Guardian” and later head of an EU think-tank in Brussels]
May 16 Thursday: I bought the “Observer” as it seems to have been the only Sunday paper that has opposed the Falklands nonsense. There was an item on Robert Graves. From this I learned that Hodge died three years ago. The lights are surely going out. He was still editor of “History Today” when he died. He could only have been about 63. We never met in later life but there was a time when we were meeting almost every day, usually on the ferry boat, but also for country walks in the summer and cycle rides into Wales. Poetry was, of course, the sole subject of conversation. But I don’t think he lived up to his early promise. I think Graves, the renegade Irishman, had a bad influence on him [ie. the poet Robert Graves].
In the afternoon I cycled to Dibbinsdale, Beaty Heath, Ledsham, Shotwick, tried to cross the footpath to Puddington but had to turn back to Shotwick, then by road to Puddington, then Burton, Ness, Parkgate,Thornton Hough, Brimstage and through Storeton home. It must have been near 30 miles. The weather was just right.
May 17 Monday: I went into Birkenhead for the “New Statesman” – it does not seem so good under the new editor. I also got in two hours in the garden. McCarthy rang up in great perturbation. Owing to coverage of a demonstration no journalists will be able to attend anything else next Monday. Obviously he has boobed in bringing the thing forward from the Thursday. Noel Gordon said that the CPI had held its conference over the weekend and there had been differences over the national question, he suspected from Michael Morrissey. This is exactly what I have feared Myant was doing – developing the “Euro-communist” line in the Six Counties, even if it should lead to a split. Indeed I think he would be delighted.
May 18 Tuesday: McCarthy rang up and told me that he had solved the problem of journalists by postponing the “launch” and giving everybody another drink. I did a little in the garden – trimmed two box trees.
May 19 Wednesday (London): I went to London and Noel Gordon met be at Euston. The branch meeting took place in the evening and Steve Huggett, Jane Tate, Flann Campbell, Philip Rendle and Elsie O’Dowling were there. Elsie is getting very frail. She must be 86.
May 20 Thursday: At midday I went to see Tom O’Keefe. I found him a little depressed, possibly in part because his 28-year-old son is in a submarine in the South Atlantic, but also because his publishing business is going broke. He said he was willing that I should use the Brian and O’Keefe imprint for my poems, if Micheál O Loingsigh prints them. But he wants to see if Micheál can turn out a job to his standard. Like Tony Coughlan, he says, charge five pounds. While we were talking in a local hostelry who should come in but Brian Behan. I did not recognise him. He is gone to look old and I have not clapped eyes on him since 1955. They were pulling his leg about being a property owner. Another left gone right. I wonder if O’Keefe will still be in publishing by the time I am ready! He didn’t seem over-confident. Later I went to South London. There were about a dozen there, some of them young. Paddy Byrne was there and a Co-op woman who used to work for the MCF. Noel Gordon says the CP has only registered 15,000 this year and there has an advert for a Liverpool organiser. So Kaye must be giving up. I hope his silly Irish Committee gives up with him.
May 21 Friday (Liverpool): I stayed up later than I wished last night. It is difficult in other peoples’ homes. I slept in the train but was not so well. The nonsense has begun and there were Union Jacks in the front of London taxis. Nobody remembers the last war and the Government has enlisted the lower middle class and “lumpenproletariat” against Labour. The egregious charlatan Foot tells the Government every day that they’re not being given a blank cheque[ie. for their Falklands Island policy] but he nevertheless signs every demand that is written in for him. Barney Morgan went to Dublin.
May 22 Saturday: I spent most of the day on the paper.
May 23 Sunday (Dublin): I went to Caergybi and Dun Laoire. Cathal and Eddie Cowman came to meet me, but they had been given the wrong time. I saw that at Cathal’s. We made a quick visit to Maire Comerford. She is, I am afraid, failing and pushes herself around the house in a wheelchair. She still won’t forgive McEoin [ie.Dublin architect Uinseann MacEoin, with whom she had had a disagreement over the Stephen Hayes case]. I stayed at Tony Coughlan’s, Eddie Cowman staying as well.
May 24 Monday: I did little in the day and indeed was not too well – late nights no longer suit me. At 4.30 I met McCarthy at Liberty Hall and signed 48 copies of the ITGWU History. They had laid on ample excellent refreshments. I had got Barney Morgan a ticket and he was there, exercising his perverse sense of humour and infuriating Desmond O’Hagan, who had somehow got in. Denis Larkin was there and Donal Nevin – a great variety of people. John Carroll took the chair; Michael Mullen spoke. Then Michael Gill presented Carroll with a specially bound copy, and then I spoke. Apart from the exchange of barest civilities Michael Mullen kept out of my way. Carroll was friendly. Clancy wondered “what people would say about the book”. “People”, I presume, are his Workers Party and two-nation staff. Of course I have no pleasurable feelings at all. Indeed Francis Devine told me that now at last they are clearing the basement to give the archives to the National Library, they have found the 1918 minutes which I could not use. We went up to Cathal MacLiam’s. Eddie Cowman, Micheál O Loingsigh and Muriel Saidlear were there. Tony Coughlan had arranged for Micheál to print my poems, but I had a suspicion he was not too keen. Tony forgot to post me the quotation and brought it. Micheál may be annoyed at not hearing from me.
May 25 Tuesday (Liverpool): I had only four hours sleep, though I managed an hour on the boat from Dub Laoire. Tony Coughlan is of course in Germany. I was not too well today but managed a bit on the paper.
May 26 Wednesday: I worked on the paper and got on reasonably well.
May 27 Thursday: Tony Coughlan rang in the morning to say he was arriving from Halle in the afternoon. He has been lecturing to Dorothea’s students. He told me that John Carroll is far more cooperative than Michael Mullen and that the ISM [ie. The Irish Sovereignty Movement, of which A. Coughlan was secretary] have transferred their support to him. Mullen is behaving “like a shit”. He is of course under the influence of the Workers Party. He said Eddie Cowman is making a useful contribution and he has as high opinion of him as I have. He is studying hard at English and hopes to become a union organiser. Reverting to Carroll, it was he indeed who pushed for Cathal’s appointment [ie. Cathal MacLiam, who had become an ITGWU official]. I did some work in the garden.
May 28 Friday: This last couple of days I have felt more energetic and after finishing the paper planted runner beans. But the eczema continues and keeps coming and going. In the evening Barney Morgan and I went to the Merseyside Action for Peace meeting on the Falklands. Some of the people who attended the lectures at the Irish Centre were there; also Bob Parry and Stan Thorne [Parry was Labour MP for Liverpool Exchange, Thorne for Preston South], with whom I had a few words; also Doswell. A new lunatic bunch have appeared called “Spartacus”. Who they split from I don’t know.
May 29 Saturday: I did quite a deal of clearing up, and mended a trellis in the garden, preparatory to another run of beans. I also wrote to Carroll, Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond and O Luanaigh [who was Keeper of Manuscripts at the National Library]. The ITGWU records are at last being handed over to the National Library and I suggested to O Luanaigh that he might look for records of British unions, especially those who had members in Ireland [Greaves had hoped that the National Library of Ireland might become an Irish centre for the study of aspects of British Labour history].
Barney Morgan telephoned. He told me that the reason we have not seen Michael Mortimer for a couple of months is that his wife has left him, taking the children. As he has not got a proper job, eking out a living by lectures at teachers’ training colleges, he will find things difficult. I thought we must have offended him in some way, but apparently not. The weather was fine. This has proved a far hotter summer than the last five and I think it will be reasonable. The temperatures are well up but the ground is dry, bone dry.
May 30 Sunday: I went cycling in the afternoon and took some roads I had not covered before, even in the olden days, going through Poulton, Eastham, Whitby, Capenhurst, Leadsham and so back through Benty Heath, Raby and Thornton Hough.
May 31 Monday: Another dry hot day. I did a little in the garden. What could be done was limited by the rock-hard semi-brick condition of the soil, which is dry to several inches.
June 1 Tuesday: Another dry hot day, though I saw water on the road near Denby. A shower had passed. The paper was quite smoothly produced, but I had a bad journey home.
June 2 Wednesday: Another hot day – near 80’F – when I again did a little in the garden. Six copies of the ITGWU history arrived. There were fourteen at the Connolly Association branch meeting, very good for the first business meeting. A young fellow called Chris Westhorp who had written to Noel Gordon was there, Michael Kelly, Barney Morgan, McEntaggart of the New Communist Party, Janet Walshe and others. Janet agreed to be minute secretary. But Barney Morgan is as anarchistic as Joe Deighan. I think procedure embarrasses him. I spoke to Noel Gordon in the day. Michael Mortimer was there after an absence. His marriage has broken up.
June 3 Thursday: Another bad day. I decided it would be impossible to dig the beds until there is rain and started tomatoes, physalis and other things in peat pots in the warm garage. I got runner beans in last week. There was a thunderstorm in the evening but it only wet the surface and ran off.
June 4 Friday: A letter from Barney Morgan enclosed his subs. I spent the morning shopping, breaking a £500 Building Society draft, and then went for a drink. The eczema has slightly retreated and I am a little more hopeful, as well as feeling better “in myself”. I also told Noel Gordon to tell Pat O’Donohue that I was short.
June 5 Saturday: I went to Birkenhead to deposit the draft and paid some overdue bills. The weather was very hot today – 84’F. But I was not too well – of all things with a cold coming on! Of course it should not run a normal course at this temperature. It was too hot to work in the garden but I got a little done.
June 6 Sunday: It was very hot – too hot to do anything much but read the papers and listen to the accounts of human folly given on the radio. I listened to the Theresienmesse in the afternoon. It is when Schubert got his piano piece – I forget the name – in A flat. It used to be played by a blind pianist at Norman Buchan’s house in Glasgow. I had heard it before of course but had forgotten it had the war sounds in the “Dona Nobis”, like the Paukenmesse. Haydn must have invented this – like so much else – for Beethoven to use with such concentrated effect.
I decided to try to get the poems out by September and offer a lecture on Ireland in English poetry for a launching in Dublin. Then I might begin another book. I also invented a quicker method of checking my finances, which are likely to be bad until the end of the year, when the Gill royalties should be paid.
June 7 Monday: I wrote to Micheál O Loingsigh telling him that Tom O’Keefe was prepared to lend me his colophon. Later Tony Coughlan rang. He had got the book at Hanna’s and seemed pleased with it. He has offered me £400 for publishing the poems. It is extremely kind of him but I told him I would only accept it as a loan. He is thinking of going to see his sister in Pakistan [Where she worked a Catholic nun in the Presentation Order].
June 8 Tuesday: Another hot day – when I wanted some soil to mix a compost I had to pound it to powder with a hammer. I doubt if I ever saw it so dry. Jean Brown said that apart the sprinkle from last week’s thunderstorm she cannot remember any rain since May 2nd. The frost killed two rose bushes, and I was sorry to lose the Madam Butterfly, a fine old rose. The hydrangea was severely affected by the frost; the drought looks like finishing it, despite three bucketfuls of water. The garden is in a dreadful state. The storms brought down the remains of the loganberry trellis and the archway I made for Phyllis which she did not live to see.
June 9 Wednesday: Like yesterday it grew cloudy in the evening and a little cooler, so I cut the front lawn and did a little in the back.
June 10 Thursday: Again it was cooler, and no harm. But not till evening was there a trace of rain.
June 11 Friday: There must have been rain during the night, for the ground was workable and I cleared a bed where I hope to plant the marrows I have in pots.
June 12 Saturday: I spoke to Pat Bond on the telephone. He told me that he had no reply from Chater to his collective letter complaining of suppression of news regarding the Connolly Association. The man must be a blind bureaucrat. In the evening I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre and we went to Warrington [ie. to sell the “Irish Democrat” in the Irish Club there]. We are showing “The Dawn” on Wednesday week and Barney found a projectionist in the Irish Centre who would do the job for us [This was one of the first Irish films, about the War of Independence, and the Connolly Association possessed an original copy].
June 13 Sunday: It was fine but cool and I got quite a bit done in the garden, with six marrows planted out. In the evening I went for a walk down to Rock Ferry. The site of the pier is cut off from Bedford Road by a by-pass and Rock Park is destroyed, Mersey Road is gone and New Chester Road, once a busy shopping street with densely populated working-class houses behind, has not a single shop, but is a typical industrialised port area. I walked to St. Mary’s, which I had never been to before, and found to my surprise that the spire covers a ruin. I then walked to Charing Cross and took a pint of beer.
June 14 Monday: Noel Gordon told me on the telephone that he has an official invitation to a meeting that is to discuss a Labour Movement conference on Ireland to be held in December. It is at the House of Commons and he assumes that Myant is behind it.
June 15 Tuesday: I told Noel that I would go to London on Friday and he then arranged a Standing Committee. This will be expensive and I am owed money by both the CA and the ITGWU. At the end of the month I will remind the Union. Noel Gordon went to Manchester last night. The room was booked by Ernie Roberts, but he must have been celebrating the Falklands victory, for he did not appear. Gordon McLennan and Myant were there and there was great contention between Myant and Noel Harris. Myant had produced a document calling for “Help to Trade Unions in Northern Ireland”. Noel Harris wanted the issue of Partition raised. Myant said that if it was the Trade Unions would not come. In other words he admitted that his interest was not Ireland but attracting support to his own organisation by being seen to be at the centre of something. Noel Gordon did not say a word. I wonder why. Gordon McLennan was there. Myant is not on the Political Committee now, I think (I must check), and McLennan may have wanted to report direct. They decided on another meeting to argue the point next week, when the document or Noel Harris’s counter-document, will be discussed further. Noel Harris, who meets Bert Ward often at the nonsense meeting, says Ward is a decent enough man, but thinks Myant understands the Irish question and listens to him, but he knows so little about it himself that he is liable to follow the opinion of the last person who spoke to him!
June 16 Wednesday: I sent out a few notices for next week’s film show but otherwise did not do much. I did something in the garden however.
June 17 Thursday: I did a little in the garden.
June 18 Friday (London): I went to London, called on Tom O’Keefe, but he had not been in. I went on to Battersea where Pat O’Donohue, Noel Gordon, Steve Huggett, Pat Bond and Jane Tate attended the Standing Committee. The bombshell dropped by Pat O’Donohue was that we needed £250 pounds in a week or the paper would not come out. Pat Bond undertook to try and raise it. Later there was a “housewarming”, which coincided with Paddy Byrne’s 70th birthday. So he was there, but most of the crowd were from South London. I stayed with Noel Gordon.
June 19 Saturday (Liverpool): We did not get up early and decided to make a holiday of it, going to the Cosmoba for a meal [This was an Italian restaurant in Bloomsbury]. I caught the afternoon train back to Liverpool.
June 20 Sunday: It was a fine, warm day and I got a fair amount done in the garden. Then Barney Morgan rang. I decided to go to the Irish Centre in the evening, but Cathal and Helga rang, so I had a meal with them in town.
June 21 Monday: Today was cold, with a strong East wind and continuous rain. Summer begins at midnight! I worked on the paper.
June 22 Tuesday: I continued with the paper. But there is a threat of a rail strike and Pat Bond says he will drive up to Ripley. The question is how can I get there?
June 23 Wednesday: Today was warm again. I am not afraid of cold from the East. If it comes from the North-West it can last six weeks. I practically finished the paper and in the evening we showed “The Dawn” at the Irish Centre. There were about 35 to 40 people there, including Tom Walsh, Joe England and Joe O’Connor, the secretary.
June 24 Thursday: I got a little done in the garden.
June 25 Friday: Again a little in the garden. The telephone is disconnected, but Noel Gordon assures me that Pat O’Donohue paid the bill on Monday.
June 26 Saturday: I went into town and had a meal at the Cypriot restaurant in Lime Street, with a bottle of retsina.
June 27 Sunday: I read the papers and did a little in the garden. But the weather had turned wet and cool again.
June 28 Monday: The phone was restored and Noel Gordon told me that the Post Office assured us that it was cut off in error after the bill had been paid. He said that he and Pat Bond had raised £500 in a week, which would enable us to pay the printer. But we have lost heavily from transferring the bookshop. As the rail strike is called off I can go to London to discuss this on Thursday. I must also try and see Tom O’Keefe.
Last night I wrote to Stratton and Frank Allaun about the proposal, published in the “Sunday Times”, to establish a vast non-NATO nuclear war communications centre at an American base in Britain [Frank Allaun, 1913-2002, Labour MP for Salford East]. Tonight I went for another walk around places I recall from childhood. Some of them I had forgotten existed. But there are great changes. Green Lawn I recall as a field. It is a housing estate. Very few of the great mansions of Egerton Park remain. I went down Rock Lane and passed Queen’s Road which held my first school. I turned and went down it. I think the same building, last on the left, is there. The wall that closed off the road I could not then see over. It looks on the waste ground at the end of Railway Road, thus separating the genteel from the proletarian as if they were untouchable. The garden is desolate, piled with rubbish. There is none of the air of prosperity it once possessed.
I first went to school when I was five. I seem to remember a “sailor suit”. I think the “Eton collar” came later. I used to walk there with a boy of about my own age from the next road. We used to run along puffing and pretending to be railway steam engines. The school was kept by a young woman called Miss Cunningham whose elderly mother assisted her. I could not have learned my figures there as I could tell the time long before. I simply cannot remember learning to read. It must have been there. The old lady knew nothing about teaching and used to make up addition sums by writing high numbers from numerals at random. The daughter deplored this practice and would snatch the paper from her mother’s hand and tell her to use the “sum book”. Braide told me that when he had completed it Miss Cunningham simply told him to start again. Miss Cunningham taught “deportment”. I remember a session when in some way I was present with some older children. She explained that if you were in the presence of an invalid it was very rude to say, “I’ve just had a marvellous game of golf!” I also remember a maypole in the back garden with all the girls dancing around it. I know I was moved after a while – how long I forget, possibly a year. I was not considered to be learning anything!
I went to Rock Lane East. New Chester Road is now a scene of dereliction. All that bustling commerce is gone. St Peter’s Church is seemingly still in use, but the one between Bedford Road and Park Lane is empty. Along New Chester Road between Rock Lane and New Ferry there is an avenue of trees bent over like trees on the coast, from the strength of the West winds. I took a bus from Rock Lane to 124 Mount Road. Bedford Road is associated with one of my very early recollections. I was being pushed in a pram when I saw a dog and said “gog!” To this day I recall the sensation I caused, though how I can remember that I said “gog” and not “dog” I don’t know. I was told later that I started to talk at the age of ten months and this must have been an early example. I heard on the radio that the railway strike is to be called off tomorrow, so I will have to go to London on Thursday.
June 29 Tuesday: I rang Noel Gordon at Ripley. Pat Bond picked him up at 6 am. and they were there at 9 am. Apparently all went well. A letter came from the new Glasgow CA secretary, William O’Brien, and I replied. In the evening I re-erected the fencing which replaced the old loganberry trellis – a frame to support runner beans.
June 30 Wednesday: I went into Birkenhead to make some purchases, but apart from that did very little. I was surprised at receiving no ’phone call from Barney Morgan and fortunately did not wait for him to pick me up, which he usually does, because Paul Salveson had told me he would be at the CA meeting early. I found him there but there was a poor attendance – Michael Kelly, Michael Mortimer, Miss Greensleigh the student, Mullen and later McEntaggart. Paul gave quite an interesting talk, more general than I prefer, but showing he had delved into the records. He would only be about 30, was originally a railwayman, but now gives talks for the Workers’ Education Association and the Trades Union Congress. He has written a pamphlet on rail history.
We went to the Irish Centre where about 10 pm. Barney Morgan turned up. He had had to go to Afonwen to interview the spouse of a patient who had tried to set the hospital on fire. On the way back his car broke down and he had to wait until an AA patrol came out, I suppose from Mold or Chester, to mend it for him. Brian Stowell appeared. He had just driven from Oxford where his son Seán was being interviewed in connection with a possible university career. Michael Mortimer drove Paul Salveson to Ormskirk and Brian Stowell brought me to Tranmere [where Prenton, Birkenhead, is sited, where Greaves lived]. Salveson is talking about going cycling in the North of Ireland in August. He belongs to some group of the Labour Left.
July 1 Thursday (London): I went to London. Noel Gordon, Pat O’Donohue and I held an informal meeting on the finances. We expect another crisis next month and prepared a number of measures. Noel told me that Myant’s committee meets tonight and has a vastly revised statement before calling for work for the unity of Ireland and an end to the Unionist veto. This is Noel Harris’s doing. I think we might go right into it and scatter the economists [ie. those who had an “economist” view of the Irish question, seeing it as an economic issue to be solved by Catholic and Protestant workers coming together rather than a political one requiring Britain to work towards ending Partition, which was the Connolly Association’s position].
July 2 Friday: I rang Tom O’Keefe only to be told that he had yesterday vacated the premises and the party who spoke did not know “where he was operating from”. I had asked him if he thought he would survive long enough to do my book. It looks as if he has not done. On the other hand he may have found another place. I did some shopping and returned to Liverpool.
July 3 Saturday: Barney Morgan and I went to the peace demonstration at Burtonwood. It was well attended. We saw Shattar, Jim Phelan’s niece Maeve Cocker, FmE.(Francis McEntaggart of the CA and NCP) and many others. We disposed of 33 papers and then came back.
July 4 Sunday: I got a bit of cleaning up done, which was something. I wrote to Noel Gordon a summary of what we have in hand. For the moment I am at a standstill on the poems and don’t know whether to abandon the attempt to issue them professionally. I usually find that if you let a matter remain open in your mind fresh possibilities occur to you. I have more than a suspicion that O’Keeffe is finished.
July 5 Monday: I did a certain amount of clearing up and prepared another bed in the garden in the evening.
July 6 Tuesday: I did more clearing up. Noel Gordon told me that Dermot Keogh, who gave me a very bad review in the “Irish Press”, is the man Tony Coughlan told me about who has covered the period 1890-1914 in a book of his own. He is sending it to me for it to be reviewed. He also told me that there is a proposal of a Rotherham branch and that Bert Ward has written criticising my front page.
July 7 Wednesday: Barney Morgan called in bringing Keogh’s review. It was not too bad. Noel Gordon told me on the telephone that Noel Harris was tackled at Myant’s (CP) “Advisory Committee” that he must “toe the party line”. Apparently there was an unholy row. So we are not sure the Connolly Association should go into this conference committee. If I know Harris he will not conform! Of course the difference is that Noel is interested in the future of Ireland, Myant and his friends are only interested in how much support they can get by talking about Ireland, and they are unwilling to forgo Unionist trade union support.
July 8 Thursday: Tony Coughlan sent me a copy of Keogh’s book and I have just had time to look at it properly. It is full of errors, of fact and spelling and indeed syntax. So it has been prepared in a hurry – with the aid of Lee. I wonder if it has been rushed out to coincide with my ITGWU
history at the instance of Sinn Fein the Workers Party. I would not be surprised.
July 9 Friday: The rail strike is likely to go on and I was wondering how to get to London next Friday. Barney Morgan said he would drive me and attend the dinner being organised to push out the book.
July 10 Saturday: I did a little clearing up – nothing much, though I am doing much more preparation for each issue of the “Irish Democrat” now.
July 11 Sunday: The weather being warm but not very sunny, I went cycling in the afternoon – first to Barnston, then Pensby, Irby, Thingwall, Woodchurch, Upton and back through Noctorum. I did not recognise Irby and only realised where I had been when I reached Thingwall.
July 12 Monday: I managed to get in a couple of hours clearing the thicket in the West garden. Noel Gordon and I have been trying to get copies of the history from Dublin. The ITGWU are going to post me twenty.
July 13 Tuesday: I went into Birkenhead and made purchases, did a little work in the garden and cycled as far as Brimstage in the very warm but cloudy evening. I spoke to Peter Mulligan on the telephone and he invited Barney Morgan and me to lunch on Friday.
July 14 Wednesday: I went into Birkenhead for the “Manchester Guardian”. It was dry and hot with an East wind. At about 3.30 I went across the road for an “Echo” [ie. the “Liverpool Post and Echo”] and noted how much cooler it was, and that although the clouds were moving from the East, the wind was blowing from the West. A few minutes later a severe thunderstorm came up from the South. That finished prospects of gardening. Noel Gordon told me that Noel Harris is getting too involved in Myant’s conference for his liking. Clann na hEireann and everybody else are in it. He himself only went to the meeting because Noel Harris had been complaining to Pat Bond at his staying away and not helping him. They both want to discuss it with me on Friday. I will have to do some thinking. Noel Gordon does not think the conference will achieve anything. Noel Harris does. I would rely on Noel’s judgement by preference.
July 15 Thursday: It was wet and cold in the morning but brightened up later. The books sent from Dublin on Monday (by Express Post) have not arrived. I wasted the greater part of the day trying to trace them.
July 16 Friday: A frustrating morning trying to trace the books. The Post Office could offer no explanation of the delay. At about 2 pm. Barney Morgan arrived. He had been persuaded that it was best to go for the motorway near Warrington rather than head for Nantwich as I advised. All was well until we crossed M62 on a bridge and saw it completely gummed up – and it too late to retreat. We must have spent an hour before we got moving. But all the same we arrived in Bloomsbury on time and went to the dinner held for the launching of the book. I brought down three of my copies. Michael Meagher of Harringay bought one and Tom Durkin, I think, the other. Among those present were Flann Campbell, Michael Crowe, Tadhg Egan, Tony Donaghey, Paddy Byrne, Desmond Starrs and his wife, and of course Noel Gordon, Roger Kelly, Jane Tate and other members. I said a few suitable words and we got three orders for the book.
July 17 Saturday: Barney Morgan and I went to Northampton and had lunch with Peter Mulligan and Goley [Mrs Mulligan was Iranian]. Their Little boy is as lively as ever, a human dynamo like his father. I had brought my Olympia for Peter to mend, which he did. Then we came back but deserted the motorway near Middlewich and made towards Chester. This proved better. Then we learned the rail strike was being called off. I didn’t expect ASLEF to win it, but I’m sorry for Buckton [Ray Buckton was general secretary of the traindrivers’ trade union, ASLEF].
July 18 Sunday: The fine warm weather continues but I did not go out but worked on the paper. I am trying to get the circulation up.
July 19 Monday: Another day spent on the paper.
July 20 Tuesday: Also on the paper. At 7 pm. Barney Morgan came in.
July 21 Wednesday: I went to the CP office [ie. in Liverpool] to see Margaret McClelland but she was on holidays. I met the secretary who has replaced Kaye, a young fellow of about 30. I was favourably impressed. What he’d be like on Ireland I don’t know. Noel Gordon was on the ‘phone. Incidentally I thought Tadhg Egan looked unwell last Friday. He was due in hospital for an operation for a prostate condition on Patrick’s Day. Owing to the industrial unrest in the health services he has yet not yet gone in. Noel Gordon said there was much ill-feeling in London over their damned bombs [ie. bombs which had been planted by the Provisional IRA]. The new Liverpool secretary is John Blevin.
July 22 Thursday: I finished the last page of the paper and posted it off. I addressed the envelopes for the Connolly Association meeting. I gathered gooseberries.
July 23 Friday: I posted 40 invitations for next Wednesday’s meeting. Strictly speaking Barney Morgan should do this, but he is rather like Joe Deighan. He likes “seeing people” but office work is not his forte. Noel Gordon told me that Gerry Cohen is leaving the secretaryship of London CP I hope he’s not coming back to Liverpool. I got in a couple of hours gardening. I have more soft fruit than I can manage. I had given Jean Brown next door two lbs. of gooseberries and I took two lbs. to Stella Bond. Last night I gathered seven lbs. from one bush. Last week I had 10 lbs. from another three (smaller) bushes and there is still one bush untouched. The blackcurrants are as prolific, but of course weigh less. The damson had blossoms on it but I can see no fruit. After a summer like this, it should surely blossom well.
July 24 Saturday: Like yesterday, though dry and bright, today was rather cloudy. I cycled into Birkenhead to buy one or two things and later got some work done in the garden. The warm weather has speeded up growth. I think I am fairly sure of the marrows, reasonably sure of the tomatoes, but the physalis comes on very slowly. I think it needs greater heat. The runner beans are beginning to flower and turnips, swedes and cauliflowers look healthy. But there is much uncultivated ground I must attend to.
July 25 Sunday: The fine weather continues and I did a little work in the garden.
July 26 Monday: Another fine and bright day. I continued in the garden. I find my physical energy has returned to nearer normal. All through the spring I felt listless – perhaps fatigue from getting that book through the press.
July 27 Tuesday: A bad day. I went to town early only to find the 10.20 train to Crewe no longer runs. I had to wait till 11.20. I was reasonably lucky with the transport, but when I reached Derby some of the copy was missing. I posted it last Thursday. Melville, who would have opened the mail, had gone on holiday. Brian had only come back and Terry, who had been there all the time, had gone to Aberystwyth to look at a machine. I had to write a fresh article. As a result I only read six pages and brought the others back to Liverpool.
July 28 Wednesday: I got in a few hours in the garden – most of the afternoon – and satisfied myself that the wasps’ nest is still there. I burned the cover off it and bought sulphur. I am going to try to smoke them out. In the evening there were 18 at the Connolly Association branch meeting – but not one from the CP committee. I was giving a talk on the history of Irish Trade Unionism. Michael Kelly was not there but Michael Mortimer was and was a better chairman. He is learning just when I almost gave him up. MacEntaggart was there. He is in the NCP but is a good lad. Against some absurd obstruction from silly old fool Taunton (teetotaller and vegetarian, pacifist – everything), I had a pro-tem committee appointed. If I’d known how stupidly he would behave, I would just have done it and said nothing. But he attends erratically. I want to involve more people and get together a leadership. I also want people not in the CP to be visibly involved. However Taunton made it up afterwards and I bought his wife (who has twice as much sense) a sherry, saying that it was because she had more brains than he.
July 29 Thursday: I spent the whole day, morning, noon and evening in the garden and made considerable progress. A letter came from Alan Morton. John Morton has passed his examination and got his M.Sc. but looks like going on the dole, and Alisoun has had one of her periodical relapses. Also, he has had influenza and bronchitis lasting from the winter until May. He is 71 now and needs to take care. I wrote to Tony Coughlan and Noel Gordon.
July 30 Friday: I spent another day in the garden. I tried to smoke out the wasps’ nest with sulphur but did not succeed. I suppose the queen is too deep under the soil. I will have to try chlorine, but it is so damned expensive and I don’t know how much I will require. Until that is out of the way I cannot clear the southwest corner or mend the fence badly battered by last winter’s storms. Barney Morgan called in during the evening.
July 31 Saturday: The last rain was on St. Swithin’s day, but there was rain in the night. I did quite a deal in the garden, transplanting cauliflowers, spinach beet and clinopodium, of which I had a dozen or more plants thanks to Alan Morton’s advice to soak the seeds before refrigerating them. Rica Bird called in and bought two copies of the ITGWU History. I poured the contents of a small bottle of Carbon Tetrachloride [Uncertain whether this is correct as an indecipherable chemical formula is given] into the wasps’ nest.
August 1 Sunday: Today it was damp and drizzly. Nothing could be done in the garden. About midday Barney Morgan telephoned and we arranged to go to Warrington in the evening, which we did. Barney agreed to call the provisional committee we appointed last Wednesday. I must however check up to see that he does. There were no sign of wasps today.
August 2 Monday: Again, there were no wasps about. I went into Birkenhead but spent most of the day in the garden and got quite a bit done.
August 3 Tuesday: The continuing fine weather enabled me to spend another day in the garden and its reorganised outline is beginning to take shape. But there was a danger sign – late in the evening several wasps buzzed around the site of the nest and went in. Does that mean that the queen is still alive? I will have to try another bottle. I want to be sure they’re all bumped off before I pull the thing apart.
The idea of a pamphlet began to take shape in my mind. I thought it is time we stated in full the anti-imperialist case against economism.
August 4 Wednesday: There was a downpour in the morning, and it drizzled for a time afterwards – just one half-hearted clap of thunder. But the ground was wet and I could do nothing. Barney Morgan spoke to me on the phone. We are trying to get a branch committee together. Michael Mortimer will cooperate. He told Barney that he bothers no more with the Labour Committee on Ireland. He is summoned to a meeting to find himself the only one there.
August 5 Thursday: It was fine and warm today and I have the West garden in fair order but for the wasps’ nest and a bit of rubbish clearance. I’ll leave the nest for a bit but should get on well with it tomorrow. I had close on 20 lbs. of gooseberries and about 3 lbs. of blackcurrants. The apples are nearly ripe. The marrows are setting and the tomatoes are in bud. But the physalis is worse than last year. The runner beans are flowering but not setting.
August 6 Thursday: I spent practically the whole day gardening.
August 7 Friday (London/Liverpool): I got up at 7 am. and caught the 9.05 to London. Noel Gordon met me at Euston and we exchanged information. After lunch we held the Standing Committee in Marchmont Street. It was a reasonably satisfactory meeting though constantly interrupted because of a water leak in the building above, which had police, plumbers and tenants constantly coming in. Those present were Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Noel Gordon, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Philip Rendle and Peter Mulligan. We intended to meet a few weeks ago before everybody went on holiday, but there were no trains. After the meeting Noel Gordon told me, and Philip Rendle confirmed it, that Myant read Bert Ward’s confused attack on the “Irish Democrat” and remarked, “Excellent! It’s time somebody put that Greaves in his place.” Now there are two possibilities: one that Myant was glad if somebody attacked the “Irish Democrat” no matter how confused the argument; the other that Myant was just as confused himself! I got back to 124 Mount Road about 9.30 pm.
August 8 Sunday: The last few weeks have been warm but cloudy, and with winds from East to North. Today it was drizzly, but mostly dry, warm, but with a South-West wind – the first I remember since the rains stopped. I got the East garden substantially clear. I hope to do the North this week and then start on the front, which is a wilderness. I have reorganised the pathways and I think I will make an interesting landscape effect. Incidentally Noel Gordon told me that Myant has a book coming out called “Ireland: the Way Out of the Impasse”. I think I know what will be in it. However, I am thinking of writing a pamphlet reaffirming the classical position.
August 9 Monday: It rained most of the day, and for the first time decently for weeks. I did not do much. But in the evening we held a “committee meeting” of the Connolly Association at the Irish Centre. It was a desperately informal affair. Barney Morgan has not a notion of procedure, least of all over a glass of beer, but it was a step forward. Michael Mortimer was there with Janet Walshe, but not MacEntaggart or Kelly, and Barney Morgan had the mott. But Michael Mortimer showed considerable initiative and promised to run a social evening.
August 10 Tuesday: Early in the morning. Tony Coughlan arrived on his way to see his sister in Pakistan. He is going as far as he can by train but will fly over the war zone. He told me that Bert Ward spent a week in Dublin before going to Belfast. Tom Redmond sent him to Tony, who talked to him about the Irish Sovereignty Movement. He is distributing an invitation to the Grand Myant conference now fixed for early December. The commitments given to Noel Harris now take the form of questions. He told Tony Coughlan they have not yet decided who will call the conference. My feeling is that we should go right in. If they have reached the stage of asking questions, at least the result can be to arouse interest. I did some more in the garden. I have been ringing Noel Gordon since yesterday afternoon, but he does not seem to be in the office.
August 11 Wednesday: I did a little on the paper and a little in the garden and in the evening went to Stratton’s peace meeting. A Fr. Collins was giving a report of his attendance at the special UN session on disarmament. He did not get very far before the six people present, except myself, were telling him what should be done. Margaret McClelland was there and she did her share. They seemed to be all CP. As for Stratton, decent enough man as he is, and a Scot, he asked when I was going for a holiday and when I said Ireland – I’m not going there but said it for divilment – I noted the patronising smile of amusement. They are all of them chauvinists at heart and it has surfaced. He tells me Jimmy Lindsay is dead.
August 13 Thursday: I got on well in the garden, indeed spent most of the day at it. Noel Gordon sent me a letter from HG. He also has surfaced [It is not known who HG was].
August 13 Friday: Availing of the continued good weather – with rain, but in the night, I did some more gardening.
August 14 Saturday: In the morning I received a note from Blevin enclosing the report of the delegation that went to Belfast. It is very confused and contradictory, but not bad for a first stab. He asked my opinion of it, and then gives me the opportunity for a discussion with him. I will not write but go and see him. I went into Birkenhead in the morning. The day being fine once more, I worked on the garden, indeed spent five or six hours at it. I had thought that that fine old rose Madame Butterfly had been killed by the frost. But no. Very much reduced it has sent up fresh shoots and I have good hopes of it. I am doing quite a considerable amount of reorganisation. Noel Gordon has gone to Belfast this weekend. His father is in hospital and expects an operation on the prostate gland. That damned thing causes more trouble than enough in both youth and age!
I gathered about 1 3/4 pounds of quinces (off the “flowering bush) and a handful of forgotten gooseberries. The tomatoes are in flower, there are several marrows, and at last I have got chenopodium to germinate – indeed I should have a good supply next year. This has been a good summer in every way.
August 15 Sunday: Despite showers in the earlier part of the day, I got some gardening done and finished a second page of the paper. I used the damp weather to plant out more chenopodium and sow late lettuces and turnips. If there is a mild autumn they will be usable. I also started on a pamphlet. The Ccly. evidently did not kill the wasps. I found a packet of “Murphy’s Wasp Killer” I must have bought last year and not used because of the rain. I scattered it round the entrance of the nest and propped loose tangles of grass above to delay exit. The wasps were evidently displeased for till quite late they were buzzing about above the nest.
August 16 Monday: I went to the bank and to make purchases. When I left there were wasps leaving and entering the nest. But there was only one when I got back and by evening they were none visible. So it seems to have bumped them off. A letter came – or rather, I should say, a cutting was sent me anonymously from Seattle. But I knew who it was. It was Professor Brown. Earlier he sent me a cutting from the April issue of “Political Affairs”– published by the CPUSA. I don’t know why he didn’t sign the note – perhaps disinclination to let some people know that he buys and acts on the contents of “Political Affairs”. The April issue contained a review of Mitchell’s book written by Lowery. He suggested I should reply and I did. Today the last issue arrived containing my reply and Lowery’s rejoinder. But this is what Brown wrote.
“More foolishness from the American front. Krause’s epigone doesn’t comport himself very well in public debate. I don’t figure out Lowrie’s (sic). He has Krause’s rancour but is not connected with a university. He cannot be engaged in building an empire of countless pointless words to advance an academic career. I suspect some odd sectarian bee in his bonnet.
“The BBC ‘History of Ireland’ has just finished running over here on TV. The big budget, the technique, the portentous voice of Kee himself, these are found impressive. But what a bathos when all is said and done – Mick Collins’s 1920 assassin in a fade-out to close the thirteen episodes, looking as though the old cow had died. The following Saturday an American-made ‘shoot ‘em up’ story of the Provos undid in an hour all of Kee’s efforts to prove that ‘Nothing can be done’.”
Lowery had, in his review of Mitchell’s book quite gratuitously launched an attack on mine. I got some more gardening done in the evening. I am re- organising for a “landscape effect”. I gathered Victoria plums this evening. I curt a marrow two days ago and look like being embarrassed with excessive plenty. It rained most of the morning and is cooler.
August 17 Tuesday: For most of the day I worked on the paper. The weather has broken and from the North-West, which is bad.
August 18 Wednesday: Again the paper, and the weather is still wet and unsettled. Pat Bond telephoned. Noel Gordon is not back but says he is travelling tonight. “Will he?” I asked. “I doubt it,” says Pat Bond. He told me that there was a letter from the London District CP. I had heard it might be coming from Noel Gordon. They wanted a school on Ireland and had nobody who knew the history, so they had to decide to invite me. The invitation came. I told Pat Bond I would accept. My knowledge is available to the public, even though I do not force it on them. Pat Bond is annoyed that Noel Gordon will not clearly state his intentions. I can understand it. His father is in hospital and has paid his fare home. It is difficult to shake himself free, but why can’t he say so! Pat Bond had to trace him through Helen Murray’s mother.
August 19 Thursday: The weather has gone to hell – I would say the temperature was below 60’F this evening when there was a sharp thunderstorm with hailstones. Happily as late as this it usually picks up after a few days even if it breaks from the North-West. But it will not be August but September, a retained not a supplied warmth. The hailstones that fell were as big as I ever saw and the air was full of an aniseed scent battered out of Myrrhis Odorata. Apparently Noel Gordon is back. His father is not good, so Pat Bond didn’t say anything to him. A letter from John Boyd enclosing his copy – I finished the paper today – said that he had not heard the result of the CP Executive Council discussion on the EEC, but that the “advisory committee” meeting was called off at two hours’ notice. I am sure they don’t know what they’re doing. Barney Morgan came in. He is active, but like a bee, into one flower after another. He has met some people in Scotland Road anxious to develop their Liverpool Irish heritage and is meeting them tomorrow at the Irish Centre, but it is hard to get him on the subject of things we initiate ourselves.
August 20 Friday: I finished the paper yesterday but forgot to ring Ripley till afternoon. I thought his office stayed open on a Friday afternoon, but it seems it does not. I went to the Irish Centre – it was too damp for gardening – and saw Barney Morgan, a teacher from some school in the North Central area, and a friend of hers, Mary Hickman, who is a Liverpool girl, studied sociology at the university, went to London as a teacher and lives on a “grant”. She has been in touch with “Channel 4” ITV, which has money to give away, and wants to make a film about the Irish in Britain, concentrating on London and Liverpool.
August 21 Saturday: I met Barney Morgan at 11 am. near Central Station. Mary Hickman and the teacher, Joan Inglis, were there, and Barney drove us round the places we visited on the coast trip two years ago. Later Noel Gordon telephoned. He had been invited to an “important meeting” which was to decide whether the conference Myant is organising will take place at all. It is not at the House of Commons but at the “Morning Star”. Noel thinks something has come unstuck. I received the London District Committee invitation. I saw at once why Noel wondered whether I would accept it. It starts about 10 am. and I am asked to deal with “Irish history” in 35 minutes – ending in 1962. The chairman is the Banks woman, who is in Clann na hEireann. Then the period 1962 to today is dealt with – possibly by Myant, says Noel. Later they have a discussion of “party policy” (party confusion) and about the “way forward” (to what?). However, I decided to say – at the time – that it is impossible to deal with the history of Ireland in 35 minutes; so I will give them an account of the origins of present problems, thus not giving them what they ask for but what’s good for them. I can thus pre-empt the nonsense that Myant and his friends will talk. I will also avoid the blame likely to be attached for refusing to go. They want me to stay for the whole day, but I think I will not. Philip Rendle is somewhere in the middle of all this, but what his role is I can’t decide.
A letter came from Gerald O’Reilly [Left-wing American trade unionist who had been an Irish republican activist in the 1920s and 1930s]. He had been in Dublin and went to see Peadar O’Donnell, who must be nearly 90. Gerald O’Reilly has some letters O’Casey sent him and asked my advice on what to do with them. I think he should give them to the National Library.
August 22 Sunday: It was chilly but the showers were infrequent and I got something done in the garden.
August 23 Monday: A little more gardening. Noel Gordon told me that he had telephoned the Labour Committee on Ireland man who told him that Myant had called a meeting which Noel did not know about. Apparently Noel Harris sat silent throughout and the Labour Committee on Ireland man said he thought the CP had “disciplined” him. Noel Harris has no subtlety. He resented Noel Gordon’s not going into battle when he decided to charge. But it seems he cannot sustain it. If he sits on a committee (and I warned him!) he has to accept responsibility; if he wishes to be able to speak personally, he must not sit on it. Noel Gordon old me that the “New Worker” has a middle-page spread shared by the “Provisionals” and Michael O’Riordan [This was the organ of the New Communist Party, which had been founded in 1977 as a breakaway from the CPGB led by Sid French]. He will send it me. I told our NCP boys that they were under no theoretical obligation to support the “Provisionals”. Noel Gordon thinks it may be sinking in. Barney Morgan came.
August 24 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and all went smoothly. I asked Brian Reynolds how Melville was – failing, he replied, and indeed I thought the same [These were members of the staff of Ripley Printers]. He told me he was 80 and “looks like something out of Belsen”. His father lived to be over 90. But he still comes in an odd time and is completely lucid.
I see John Parker has written a book which “The Guardian” implies has nothing in it. I remember going to see Parker when he shared a flat in Great Ormond Street with two other young MPs. He was in the ULF [University Labour Front?] and John Morris, who used to extol him to me, introduced me. I was working at Elm Park at the time – around 1937, perhaps February – and got him some social information about the new estate being built [For this episode see the Retrospect in Vol.4 of the Journal]. It poured rain all day today.
When I got back to 124 Mount Road I found Maolachlann O Caollai had sent me a copy of a review in the “Cork Examiner” that is very favourable. Would it be by Beechenor? The initials are “TGB”. But I forget his; I thought it was “R” however. Noel Gordon sent me the NCP thing and it has Michael O’ Riordan talking about “fighting” to force the British Government to grant a devolved government in the Six Counties, which would pave the way to withdrawal and reunification. This is silly nonsense, as I told Joe Deighan when he asked my opinion. Now Noel Gordon saw Jimmy Stewart when he was at home. Stewart never tires of condemning the CPGB, but Noel had a suspicion that his reactions were being investigated. The pump-handle was pounding.
August 25 Wednesday: The day was fair and I went on with the gardening, and am beginning to see my reorganisation taking shape. But there is massive work to be done. I had written to Lena Daly in Manchester saying we should try to restart the Connolly Association and I offered to do a series of talks on Irish history. She telephoned this afternoon and told me she had only this morning come out of hospital where she had been confined after injuring her back in a fall. She was all for the plan and she is also taking an Irish class. I spoke to Noel Gordon. The meeting last night did not come to anything. Some stayed away for one thing or another. Noel said that Myant was friendly to him and went out of his way to be so. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes [“I fear the Greeks bearing gifts”]. It is undoubted that he is not getting all his own way, and he may want the Connolly Association to get him his sponsors and his speakers, do a little asset-stripping and leave us superannuated. Apparently the Labour Committee on Ireland have objected to his Unionist nonsense.
Noel Gordon said Myant said they had a review copy of my book – now they must have had it weeks. He asked Noel Gordon who should review it. Noel said Ken Gill. But Myant would not hear of it – he had asked Noel Gordon to flatter him and possibly expected the answer that he didn’t know. He wants to give it to Jack Jones, a former general secretary of the ITGWU’s principal rival in Ireland! That should get rid of all this nasty talk of Irish unions for Irish workers! Actually, I am not certain that it would necessarily attract a bad review. I knew Jones in Liverpool when he was “James Larkin Jones” and he replied in a very friendly manner to a letter of enquiry I sent him. But he would hardly be pleased to see recorded the measures taken by the Black-and-Tans and others to break up Irish unions and compel workers to join English ones, though this was an essential part of the counter-revolution everybody here is so anxious to ignore. Another Channel 4 Television team has tackled Noel Gordon. They don’t know much about the Irish question, but there’s money to be got, so fair enough! Noel has the impression that the latest bunch are not too bad – moderate Troops Outers.
Apparently Noel Gordon discussed with Jimmy Stewart the proposed “devolved government”. Jimmy Stewart replied that it “would only be temporary”. Can one credit such asinine presumption. They can’t persuade the British to provide it except in their own time, but they already believe they can include in the package an undertaking to disband it.
August 26 Thursday: Noel Gordon rang in the morning. He spoke about Myant’s meeting, now postponed to next Friday. He had been speaking to Philip Rendle who was unusually forthcoming. He says the Irish Committee are trying to oust Myant from the chairmanship. I said we must not get involved, even by implication. It seems that Noel Harris has been “silenced” and doesn’t know what to do. I know what I would do – resign from the committee. But of course he is either bull at a gate or bull on the ground. Noel Gordon said that Cath Scorer has also been “silenced”. I am amused at that. She was a damned nuisance when Sean Redmond was with us, linking up with Tansey, I think at Irene Brennan’s behest. She must have “changed her position” (bless us!) along with Irene Brennan. Rendle says that Myant is in a difficult position. The CP has no policy on Ireland, so he considers himself the great political architect. The Connolly Association. should take its policy from him because – of all things – “the CP started the CA.” One might add that if the event is asserted, it was admittedly before Myant was pupped. He bitterly resents the fact that the Connolly Association insists on its independence. He is opposed to “Liberation” [ie. formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom] for the same reason. And he told Philip Rendle that the document Tony Coughlan gave me a copy of, which modified the decisions of the Labour Movement Conference Committee, was cooked up by Myant and submitted to the Executive Committee of the CP who approved it. I very much doubt this. If they did, then it means that on the Irish question they will accept anything because they’re not interested. Noel Gordon said that Myant roped in his miscellaneous cranks and Trotskies so as to circumvent the Connolly Association. What completely extraordinary methods of work! It occurs to me that they resemble Sinn Fein the Workers Party. They must always dominate. And other people must accept anything, no matter how half-baked, provided an advisory committee of people quite new to the subject have thought it up. I think I shall commit a couple of indiscretions when I address them. There will be quotations from Engels.
August 27 Friday: I did some clearing up in the house in the day and returned to the garden later. The piano tuner came. Apart from that, nothing much.
August 28 Saturday: The weather has become even more unpleasant – a fierce cold Northwest wind. Nothing will grow. Barney Morgan and I went to Warrington.
August 29 Sunday: Another chilly day. I started work on the talk I am to give next Saturday – a new departure, the contribution of Protestants to Irish republicanism.
August 30 Monday: Once again chilly, dull and miserable. Michael Mortimer telephoned. He has just returned from a holiday in Wales and will put on a social evening for the Connolly Association.
August 31 Tuesday: The weather was still cold, but there was a sunny interlude in the afternoon, which I avoided by the cycle into Birkenhead for stamps and things. In the evening Jeff Sawtell rang. He asked me to review Jack Mitchell’s book on O’Casey for “Artery”. I told him I was not pleased with Mitchell, who had published attacks on me in German newspapers without having the grace to have copies sent me. However, he said he would send the book. I then had a word with Bill Parker [an old friend from his days in British industry] and later Pat Bond rang. He hopes to get some money for the “Irish Democrat” from Australian Trade Unionists. Then Sawtell rang back. He had just heard that Joe Whelan had dropped down dead on a golf course [a miner and trade union official in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, Whelan was a long-standing member of the Connolly Association]. A Nottingham Trade Unionist had telephoned him. Would I do a supporting obituary? I said I would. Then I rang Pat Bond who said he had spoken to Joe Whelan only a few days ago. He had been in hospital with heart disease but said he felt better. I also rang Helga, who said she would tell Cathal.
I was sorry about this. He was at school with Gerry Curran in Dun Laoire. I forget when I first met him – it must be around 1953 when I did a grand tour of all places where there might be an Irish population. He started a branch of the Connolly Association in Hucknall, but it was not a powerful success. I know I went there to speak. At that time it would be Patrick Connolly who was rebelling against Peck [Several members of the Connolly family in Nottingham were long-standing CA activists. One of them, Ned Connolly, returned to live in his native Charleville, Co. Cork. John Peck was the Nottingham CPGB secretary]. Joe spoke in the City Square for us. I used to go up to Hucknall quite frequently to stay overnight. Quite recently he approached mining leaders to give donations to the “Irish Democrat”. Michael McGahey refused [Leading Scottish miners’ leader and CPGB member]. His wife is the daughter of a miner, but very reactionary, a stupid thoroughly “ordinary” woman (the Americans say “ornery” – that is the sense) who turned fiercely anti-Irish once the IRA started their nonsense and Joe had a rough time with her. He has several children – they must be in their thirties now – who struck me quite favourably. We haven’t had many deaths lately. I hope this is not the start of a wave of them.
September 1 Wednesday: The weather was better – sunny in the morning and late afternoon, and milder. The last two evenings I have lit a fire, most unusual in August, but did not do so tonight. I did some work in the garden, sewing some winter spinach. The marrows are plentiful this year, as are the runner beans. And I think I will have tomatoes. But the physalis is not four inches high. It has been a poor late August and before that it was too dry. Noel Gordon rang up. He had been to see the Labour Committee on Ireland man Dan Flynn and thinks he has some relation with Myant that he will not disclose to Noel.
September 2 Thursday: Not much today. I did some more gardening.
September 3 Friday (London): I went to London on the afternoon train and Noel Gordon met me at Euston. He was going to Myant’s meeting and I went to dinner with Bill Parker at his quasi-estate in Highgate. There were only small things discussed. He has not fundamentally changed his views but has got very middle-class in his activities. We mentioned D.B.Smith, who used to work for me at Battersea. He now calls himself Professor Derek Bryan-Smith – or David, I’m not sure – but is doing good work on getting lead out of petrol.
September 4 Saturday: I attended the Connolly Association School on Protestants and Irish nationalism. Pat Byrne took the chair and Maire Gaster, Robert Lynd’s daughter, was there. There was a good attendance. We took close on £200.
September 5 Sunday: There being no business to be done, Noel Gordon, Helen Murray and myself rose late, breakfasted at leisure, then went for a walk in the city. I saw the Wallace memorial at Smithfield. I did not know it was there. Why not one to Wolfe Tone?
September 6 Monday: I made some purchases, then attended the Standing Committee at Battersea. There were eleven present, including Pat Bond, Noel Gordon, Roger Kelly, Jane Tate and Gerry Curran. We were told by Pat O’Donohue that the paper was losing £200 a month. I asked him how much would be gained by raising the price to 30p. He said £150 a month. We agreed to do it. Later Noel Gordon told me of the uncertainties of Myant’s conference. Without our backing Myant feels isolated. Well, if he pays for it, he may get it. If he tries to commandeer it, he won’t. Noel told me that Bert Ward had written a report on his visit to Ireland. Philip Rendle had given him a copy, which he proposes to photostat before returning. I read it. Everybody had said what one would have expected them to say. Noel Gordon, Steve Huggett and I went to see Charlie Cunningham.
September 7 Tuesday (Liverpool): I met Tim O’Keefe near Woolwich. He has got me an ISBN number, so we can go ahead with the poems. I returned to Liverpool in the afternoon.
September 8 Wednesday: The weather in London was sultry but broke to some extent yesterday. It was indifferent here today and I got nothing substantial done in the garden. I wrote one or two letters and did a little on getting the poems ready for publication.
September 9 Thursday: I have £26 in my current account and a gas bill for £15. There is about £22 in cash also and about £10 belonging to Liverpool Connolly Association. I can borrow at a pinch. I might get my pension by the 23rd but have to go to Ripley for the paper on that day. So calculations loomed large. I have £200 rates and £40 water dues on the 30th, and £50 to the Society of Authors in November. So I am like the classical author, pressed for funds and expecting to receive his royalties late – those due on June 30th have not yet arrived from Lawrence and Wishart! I gathered 40 lbs. of sweet crabs from one tree. The problem is what to do with them. I made jelly of the quince
September 10 Friday: The weather was reasonable and on the strength of a forecast of rain I transplanted pamphreys. But it did not rain!
September 11 Saturday: I had a word with Pat O’Donohue. He can send me last month’s expenses, amounting to £70, so the immediate panic is off. At the Standing Committee I proposed raising the price of the paper to 30p. – a big jump. I will also cut the print by 1,000 possibly saving £20. We will, if we hold our present circulation (we overspent), reduce our loss to £70 pounds a month. Noel Gordon is away, also Pat Bond and Stella Bond. Jane Tate is away almost every weekend. I never knew such terrors for holidays. No wonder the country is in a bad way! I transplanted more pamphreys in the evening. Today was one of the pleasantest of the year, typical September with a warm, balmy evening.
September 12 Sunday: Despite continued forecasts of rain there was none and it was warm but rather breezy. I practically completed the typing of the poems.
September 13 Monday: Another fine day which I spent entirely on the paper. I am very short of copy as Tony Coughlan is still away and Colm Power has only sent a couple of newspapers apart from an article I have held over. I am feeling in need of a holiday. Last year I had only ten days of truly horrible weather. I will try and get away next week. But I have a slight cold and also a slight toothache and eczema has returned on the left calf. I have been keeping a log and monitoring it every day. I had dared to hope it was clearing. When I was in London Charlie Cunningham showed me a bright red patch on his ankle which he says has extended and retreated for 18 years. “It looks like eczema,” says Steve Huggett, and explained that he had suffered from it continuously till he was 14. But I never thought I would have it! It’s always other people have these things.
September 14 Tuesday: The whole day was spent on the paper.
September 15 Wednesday: Another day on the paper. I am very short of copy this month. Cathal telephoned.
September 16 Thursday: The fine weather continues, but I had to spend the whole day on the paper. Micheál O Loingsigh telephoned.
September 17 Friday: I got the last page off. But now I learn from Pat O’Donohue that we can’t pay the printer. My own finances also are shocking. An insurance bill arrived – £53.
September 18 Saturday: It must have been one of the hottest days of the year, though it changed in the afternoon when a species of “hoar” hung over Prenton Hill and cut off the sun. There were chilly eddies of wind – possibly “sea breezes” for it settled down later. Around midday Tony Coughlan rang and I met him at Lime Street, after which he came to Rock Ferry and went on to Caergybi [ie Holyhead] and Dun Laoire. He did not look particularly bronzed. I would have been almost black! For the temperatures had been 104’F. He says the dirt and the flies begin in Greece. but tolerable hotel accommodation is available for foreigners – very cheap, as low as £3. He spent a few days in India and flew back from Delhi. He took my MS to give to Micheál O Loingsigh. I am going to spend my reserves on this publication and as the “Irish Democrat” will not be very productive I must cast round for another source of income. A letter from Toni Curran told me that Niall Curran has got a place at Manchester University and goes there on the 27th.
September 19 Sunday: The weather has changed. It rained in the night and the day was very dark, close and oppressive, the water in the grass not evaporating at all. All the same I got in a few hours in the garden. Considering the loss of the spring because of the ITGWU, I am not badly provided, though I have not cultivated all the land. I have plenty of runner beans and some marrows, though the weather has been too dry for them. I seem to have acclimatised Chenopodium bonus-henricus. I also have lettuces. In the years after 1966 I tried to grow them. Phyllis had told me it was impossible because slugs ate them. I then discovered it was birds and discontinued. Now it must be that the present generation of birds has not learned to eat lettuce. I have also some winter spinach which is growing.
September 20 Monday: The weather was cooler and seems to have broken, ready for the holiday I plan to start on Sunday. I find it hard to recall a single holiday when I had good weather, though this may be in part because I go late. But also I think October, which seemed a mild sunny month in my young days, is not so today. Anyway, I got little done.
September 21 Tuesday: I went to Ripley – a second time copy I sent disappeared. It must be at Ripley though they say it can’t be. I did not get to Lime Street again until 9.25. First, the ‘bus from Ripley broke down with a “boil up”. The driver took us to a road from which an alternative was available. Then the train for Crewe left 25 minutes late. The papers are full of disputes between the “Morning Star” and “Marxism Today” in which Costello, presumably with Chater’s support, declares “Marxism Today” to be anti-Trade Union. If the “Morning Star” thinks a thing too far to the right, it must be.
September 22 Wednesday: I rang Tony Coughlan. He said when he got back he found that his house had been burgled for the fourth time in three years. They took everything of any value – radio, gramophone, the lot! He seemed totally disgusted. But he is never in the house and scarcely uses it, so the burglars regard it as a stationary cow to be milked whenever they please. He said Bert Ward had been in touch with him. What little tricks are afoot? The committee that Myant runs has taken no decisions on the conference, but that wouldn’t prevent Bert Ward making arrangements.
I was reading my diary for 1964 trying to find out when Joe Deighan and I went to see Billy McCullough and Betty Sinclair [This was the meeting at which McCullough, chairman of the Belfast Trades Council, said in his Belfast accent that he would “fire a shat” and initiate the conference on civil rights that took place under the auspices of the Trades Council in 1965. Greaves came to regard the failure to build on this as a lost opportunity to get a civil rights movement off the ground in Northern Ireland under the auspices of the mainly Protestant workers of the Trades Council before more sectarian tinder had had time to pile up between 1965 and 1968. He placed the blame for this failure on the Northern Ireland Labour Party, which failed to “report back” as had been agreed at the conference]. I did not find it yet. But while there are to be found a number of first-class people able to assess political affairs and take actions that produce results, even historical results, on the whole the pages record the follies and absurdities of fools, ignoramuses, cranks, head-cases, sentimentalists, exhibitionists and small -time careerists. So there is the great question, how is a good cause furthered, as it seems to be, by unworthy supporters who simultaneously push it forward and hold it back! And the lesser question, what wonder is its state today? I think the main characteristic of its advocates in the present period is mental limitedness, small-mindedness, a political mental age of ten! And people of real ability like R. Palme Dutt (who is totally forgotten today) were in general ignored and when this was not possible, secretly hated. Jane Tate told me that Michael O’Riordan is in Liverpool this coming week-end. I told Barney Morgan. Unfortunately we have a social at Michael Mortimer’s that night.
September 23 Thursday: The weather was still cold and it had rained heavily in the night. I did a little shopping and made preparations for a holiday. I never get good weather so I may as well go away and be damned. I asked Barney Morgan to come in. He promised to organise an October meeting. I also said I would go to the Michael O’Riordan social for a few minutes. I was reading 1963. During the period after Joe Deighan came to London he was in such a bad mood that I can’t imagine going to Belfast with him. But I still can’t find the record. But the appalling record of the London CP shows through only too well, though I was discreet in putting it down and not everybody reading it would know what was referred to.
September 24 Friday: I went into Birkenhead and bought one or two things, including a bottle of retsina, the only decent wine obtainable these days. A letter arrived from Tony Coughlan. He took the poems to Micheál O Loingsigh and seems pleased enough with them and suggests printing 1,000. I said 500, then O’Keefe said, “Chance 750.” I’ll see. One’s friends are always sanguine and of course this is encouraging, but when you are out of tune with “the spirit of the age” it just doesn’t respond to you and you must not expect it. There is no persecution involved. The string does not vibrate. You might as well not be there! So I’ll see. I did not record the earlier part of 1962. I think that must have been the year Joe Deighan and I tackled Billy McCullough. I want this because I have agreed to give a lecture on Irish history to the London CP, who tried but could not find anybody else. I wrote to their man, Trask, and told him it would cost 50p. a minute [presumably for his travel and accommodation expenses]. So far I have had no reply. They’ve not the remotest understanding of the subject, but their heads are so blown up with political vanity that before they’ve heard anything they are jabbering about “a plan for London”. It never occurs to them that the reason they continually lose members is that they will not or cannot listen. I remember when Egelnick and his committee decided to support one of our lobbies, he and five or so others turned up. They stood in a tight little group entirely on their own, did not even speak to me or Sean Redmond, indeed spoke to nobody. It is said that no man is an island. They did their best to constitute a “collective” island. And of course they dispose of a certain loyalty, which surely comes from the past, and as Margot Parrish said, “They always do the wrong thing”. Yet they include many fine dedicated people who could do something if only they did not take themselves so damn seriously.
Anyway, I wrote to Tony Coughlan, Pat Bond, Noel Gordon and Roy Johnston and paid some bills, £195 for rates, £52 for insurance, £40 for water – all on the old age pension of £1700 pounds a year!
One can see how their inflated self-importance makes fools of them. They don’t want to get to the bottom of anything, just to pass muster and then use the caucus as they did with the ETU. Eamon Martin told me the IRB was like this and remarked that it never occurred to them that secret manipulation was wrong. Thus Tony Coughlan enclosed a letter from Bert Ward asking him to get sponsors in Ireland for Myant’s conference, but not to ask Fianna Fail. I’m quite sure this never came up at the committee. Noel Gordon has been unable to find out why, without any explanation, the conference was put off. He asked several people. Ward says it is because of last-minute disagreements. If there were such we were not told what they were. An inner cabinet deals with these things. And it is all unnecessary, all bloody nonsense. They lay lines to trip themselves up. If they were honest they would have no trouble! They want me to present Irish history in 35 minutes, discuss it for 15, give another 35 to events after 1962, and finally decide on a “plan for London” which they will pursue in the usual incompetent manner. Everything will be amateur and hole-in-corner and have zero effect on the actual course of events. Anyway I will be as positive as the situation permits. There might be the “one just man”. Incidentally, all our people think Bert Ward is a fool. I don’t know. It pays some people to look fools.
September 25 Saturday: I did little enough in the day, but in the evening went to a social evening at Leo McGree House called because Michael O’Riordan was doing a speaking tour. He told me he had been in Manchester, where he met the Labour Committee on Ireland, who were mostly Irish, and he thought them confused. This means Coughlin [the local CP organiser] has got off his arse. He has discussed with the local people bringing the Labour History Society over and entertaining them at Leo McGree House and was surprised when I told him they were here last year. They had not notified him – nor did they notify me, as I noted at the time. Now there was a very good attendance, though those I spoke to were very confused. It looks as if Michael O’Riordan’s initiative has paid off and a new position has been reached. I will need to think about this, for it has both good and bad aspects, I suppose mainly good.
I was talking to a somewhat la-di-da individual who now lives in St. Helens. His name is Jones and he professed to be Clann na hEireann. But his niece said he didn’t know anything. There was CPI literature and the “Irish Democrat” on display, but no Workers Party. On the other hand the literature was given very little prominence. Cope was there but did not speak to me, though he did not avoid me, or I him. It merely fell out that way.
September 26 Sunday: I did very little today, though I marked up a few of the poems so that Micheál O Loingsigh will know how to print them.
September 27 Monday: Sixty-nine today! Would you believe it? I went into town and saw Blevin [ie. John Blevin, the recently appointed CPGB Liverpool district secretary]. My generally favourable impression was confirmed. Blevin is not a sycophant. He told me with a chuckle that St. John Street were worried about what Michael O’Riordan might say. They sent out an order that if O’Riordan spoke at any public meeting, a member of the EC should be there as well in order to “support” him. “Keep an eye on him, they mean,” said Blevin. Now what would they be afraid of? Nothing on Ireland, for none of their members would have the faintest clue. Russia? Possibly. Later I spoke to Pat Bond. He told me that the London CP has Michael O’Riordan this week. Tom Durkin is furious at not being chairman. He got them the hall, but this Banks woman (Clann na hEireann) is to be chairman and Myant and another are to speak. While he was talking Blevin said to me, after an incoming phone call, “That was Gerry Pocock – checking up. They seem nervous about O’Riordan.” So that’s the way it is.
I had intended to go away today, but the weather was tempestuous and cold as winter. I was trying to think back. Did I ever have good weather for a holiday? I doubt it. The wind was so strong today that I was almost blown off my feet crossing Lime Street.
September 28 Tuesday: The weather was wet today, so again I stayed, but the forecast gives Thursday a better hope.
September 29 Wednesday: Today was dry but for a very brief shower. I got some DDT and sprinkled it over box clippings and used it to block the opening of the wasps’ nest. I thinned lettuce and swedes and planted. winter spinach. This year the runner beans are plentiful, But the marrows have suffered from lack of rain. The chenopodium looks excellent but I did not cut any. I brought in three pounds of green tomatoes – very good ones too. But I found to my disappointment that I have to leave Rock Ferry at 9 am. to reach Aberystwyth by 3.10. The journey has been lengthened by nearly two hours by the incompetents who run the railways.
September 30 Thursday (Blancaron, Tregaron): I caught the morning train. There was untold confusion at Salop, and we arrived at Aberystwyth late. But I managed to reach Tregaron before dusk. There was a cyclist there. He was in his thirties and from West Bromwich. He was interested in classical music and preferred Haydn. He thought Mozart too perfect and finished. But it is not that. He has probably detected the sadness in Mozart. However, he could hum the openings of Beethoven’s quartets and then disclosed that he was a postman. He had no ambition. But even sixty years ago this man’s abilities would have been used. Now he is condemned to be consumer, a purchaser of gramophone records.
He told me that there was a party of young people who had gone out. “Oh,” said I, “They’ll be back drunk.” He did not know if there were students or schoolboys. They did not return till 11 pm. but could have behaved worse. They were 16-year-olds getting £25 a week on a Government training scheme and unable to get into Diphwys they had come to Blaencaron. Some of them looked tatterdemalion angels, others have quite a villainous appearance. “Cream of British youth!” said the postman. “I’m wearing my wristwatch tonight.”
However, they went to bed and we were left talking with an elderly teacher at a Polytechnic who was assisting in their supervision. He told us that they were selected for good qualities and dismissed the postman’s suggestion that they would end up criminals. “Not these!”, he exclaimed. None of them had ever been outside Milford Haven in their lives. “I had a puritan upbringing,” he said. “If we had nothing else to do we went rambling on the mountains or started singing. They can do nothing. Everything has to be given them.” Above this time the discordant transistor radios were switched off. He had them walking 15 miles in the rain but was disappointed at the poor facilities for drying at Blaencaron. He was on the whole despondent. He did not expect the economic depression to lift. Like the postman some sort of socialist, he was equally cynical. They did not believe Labour would carry out its programme. As for the youngsters, he thought that those who had taken this course would have a marginally better chance of securing employment.
October 1 Friday: We found out in the morning why the boys were so well-behaved. The man we spoke to last night was the assistant. The man in charge was younger – perhaps 40 – with the build of an athlete, a trifle short for a policeman but with an undoubted sergeant-major cut about him. There is no doubt the youngsters respected him. I think he was a trained “youth leader” and the physical strength he obviously possessed would impress them. The postman said, “They prefer it. They prefer to be told what to do.” And he let none of them take it easy but raced them to the [words indecipherable]. “Now don’t stand there looking pretty.” There was a bathtub full of rainwater outside the door – full. “I want a picture of you in that bath,” he says to one of them. There is a touch of sado-masochism in youth leadership and I think I can remember it from my young days when, far from liking it, I reacted against any organised activity in which you were told what to do, and could never understand the majority who were quite happy about it. On the whole however I would say these schemes would have beneficial results and the discipline and decisiveness of this leader – who never raised his voice – and his absolute self-confidence must have been some sort of example. After that it rained, all bloody day.
October 2 Saturday: After a wet night it was fair but with alto-stratus and I did little but make a trip into Tregaron for provisions. In the evening two geophysicists came. One of them was from Co. Durham but the other was an Egyptian.
October 3 Sunday: At last a fine day. I cycled to Ystrad Meowy and back round the other side of Corscaron. I had a talk with the Egyptian in the morning. He is from Alexandria and they asked him about the Copts. When I was at the university there was a student of botany called Shenouda. Nobody spoke to him – his English was poor. I did once or twice try to engage him in conversation – I was a romantic internationalist in those days. Then I found I might isolate myself from the other students by being in his company and I followed the practice of the crowd, something which does not give me intense pride in the retrospect. You should do one thing or another, and if you do it take the consequences. However it struck me to wonder why Shenouda was at Liverpool. I asked the Alexandrian was it a Coptic name. He said it was. I asked about history. He said the great Library was burned down in the time of Cleopatra. When I asked him if it was true that at one time there was a coating of glass on the pyramids, he said it was not true. There was no such covering. With regard to the second I forget where I read it. Gibbon? As to the first I note how our Western tendency is to forget the Roman destruction and recall that of the 4th century, whereas the tendency of Egyptian education is the reverse. By evening it was raining again. Nobody came.
October 4 Monday: It was cool and showery. I went into Tregaron and then took a walk up the mountain path. There was a bright sunset and what I suppose would be called the “zodiacal light”. Since the discovery of the “rings” of Jupiter and Uranus, one could presumably identify this phenomenon with the earth’s rings. Nobody came.
October 5 Tuesday: Another bad day. I went into Tregaron but could do little else. In the evening there came an elderly civil servant, retired, who lived at Minsterly and knew the Stiperstones and the bog [ie. the area in Shropshire where his sister’s cottage had been which he kept on for some years following her death in 1966]. He had been in the Post Office and Manchester and was cycling. He said he had ridden 205 miles in a race round Cheshire one day last year. It seemed an almighty claim for a man of 65. It was some kind of race and presumably he carried no weight.
October 6 Wednesday: The weather was cold and damp with a North wind. A family of cyclists came. There was an eldest brother about 45, in long trousers, a younger about 37 in shorts and a wife and two nice children. The really young people do not come to the YHA anymore. The postman a few days ago referred to himself as “a young man”. I could see in this family the desire to cling on to youth that the older man had given up. It is a phenomenon of the thirties. The two were well equipped with beards. Like the postman, they were sceptical of Labour and I would say the working class of this country feel they have been sold. This man was a factory worker now employed but had been unemployed two years. He went to Dolgoch next day, he told me.
October 7 Thursday: Today was fair and I went to Llangeitho. But it was still cool. I had thought of going to Dolgoch but postponed it.
October 8 Friday (Dolgoch): I went to Dolgoch. There were two young people, a German who worked on landscaping (in the labouring capacity but seemed estudiantine) and a girl from Kent whose father was Irish – probably a teacher. A young Englishman came from Cardiff in a car but will leave it here and go walking. I was talking to George De Roe. He says the young Northampton man is still looking for a place, but his wife, aged 23, has been offered a job by Birds Foods in the Six Counties at £20,000 a year. He gets £5,000 now. De Roe has gone to look old and spends time worrying about economic security. He is only 64.
October 9 Saturday: It rained all day. Two Canadian students came – cycling. It is all cyclists now, scarcely a motorist. De Roe told me that the YHA is having to close 25 of its luxury hostels which had been established for the motoring fraternity. Pack of fools!
October 10 Sunday: This was the first find a full stop. I walked five miles up the Tywi Valley but was drenched on the way back in a lone squall. De Roe was telling me what thieves motorists are. They have packed the boots of their cars with cutlery, frying pans, pots and even blankets. Nobody came.
October 11 Monday (Blaencaron): Today was better. I returned to Blaencaron which the landscaper was just leaving. Mrs Jones said she was confident that the YHA would look after De Roe. I had a cup of tea at the farm. Marian is now 15 and leaves school next year. She is going to Aberystwyth to train as a typist. I told her about electronic developments in offices. The elder daughter has a baby, six months old, and it looks a sturdy little thing. I recognised it in a food shop! She is a teacher. I asked Marian if she would go to be a teacher, but she said she was not clever enough. But she is a much nicer girl. The other has got a touch of middle- class brazenness, whether from teaching or marriage I don’t know. The elder boy, now about 24, is working for the Water Board, has grown a moustache and drives a car, but is still unspoiled, whereas the younger, the born farmer, says little because I think he has not bothered to keep up his English. Nobody came.
October 12 Tuesday: It rained all night. Then it started at 10 am. and went on most of the day.
October 13 Wednesday: As I cycled into Tregaron I met a tall, bearded young man about 28-30 who was looking for a country home to retire to and work freelance as a carpenter. I think like others he was anxious to flee from the wrath to come. He said the only good in the Labour Party was its opposition to nuclear weapons. I accompanied him up the valley to inspect ruins he was talking of renovating. He was a vegetarian from taste not from principle and dished up a vast concoction of leeks, carrots, sprouts and turnips flavoured with sage. He was walking.
October 14 Thursday: I did nothing but make a trip into Tregaron before the rain resumed. There was a savage sunset – black, white and orange. Nobody came.
October 15 Friday: There was a fine morning but rain began in the evening. A Canadian girl from Guelph near Toronto cycled up. She was born in Canada but reared in Kent and had relatives in Aberystwyth. She studied biology. She told me that the Canadian Government had decreed that all aboriginals must have National Health numbers and gradually their native institutions were being destroyed. She thought they had only one language which was divided into dialects. I told her this was not what I had been given to understand. But she was not bad. There was Irish and Welsh in her.
October 16 Saturday: The wee girl went off proclaiming that the southerly gale and lashing rain was “exciting”. I had to go into Tregaron for supplies. I could hardly see through the rain. Nobody came.
October 17 Sunday: It rained all night and all day again – nearly 48 hours of it. I had intended to go to Ystumtuen but did not. Nobody came.
October 18 Monday (Dolgoch): I just managed to reach Dolgoch before the rain began again. It gave me the necessary three-hour interval.
October 19 Tuesday: I cycled to Llanwrytyd and caught the 11.48 to Salop, thence to Chester and Rock Ferry. I had not been back an hour when Pat Bond rang. He was displeased that Tony Coughlan had not booked a bus for the Dublin trip [ie. a proposed visit to Dublin by members of the CA] and had phoned Barney Morgan. When I rang Tony later he was in a bad mood and said Pat Bond had rung him three times, wasting his time.
October 20 Wednesday: In the afternoon Noel Gordon rang. He told me that Pat Bond is getting very trying. He rings up for no apparent reason and tries to check on people. I endorse this. He was asking me what I was doing about my visit to Glasgow. I am doing what is necessary and that is that. Noel Gordon thinks that since Roger Kelly became South London secretary Bond has not enough responsibility.
October 21 Thursday: I contacted Barney Morgan and he is in the midst of the comedy of errors over Tony Coughlan’s bus. It is all Pat Bond’s fault. There was no reason why he should take any action at all. Let them find out how many people are coming and transport can then be arranged.
October 22 Friday (London): I went to London, where Noel Gordon met me. Later I was out with Donal Kennedy, later staying the night with Jane Tate.
October 23 Saturday: I addressed the CP “school”. There were about 25 there, including Noel Gordon, Jane Tate, Elsie O’Dowling, Philip Rendle, Trask and some quite reasonable people. The chairman, Marion Banks (Leitrim, married to a cockney), was very friendly. Myant was there. He said that though the CPI had “differences” with the Workers’ Party, they cooperated on many things. I doubt this. There is no question about his position. He is an exceptionally poisonous person. Noel Gordon tackled him at one point. Peter Walsh and Kennedy also had a go at him. They are building workers and inclined to be “Provisional”. I had a drink with them afterwards and they expressed the view that there was a “bunch of scallywags” at the “Morning Star” who would be as well out of it. Then I came back. I’d hardly sat down when Pat Bond was on again. Had I done anything about Tony Coughlan in Dublin or about Glasgow? I told him there was plenty of time regarding Dublin and he could afford to trust Tony for the time being. Regarding Glasgow I had done nothing fresh.
October 24 Sunday: I did little today. Greenwich time was restored. They seem to be making it later each year, no doubt with a view to abolition. While there was away A.L.Lloyd died. I’m sorry about that [A.L.Lloyd, 1908-1982, folklorist and song-collector]. He was only 74. He used to come to West London meetings when the Workers’ Music Association was in Bishop’s Bridge Road and he was concerned with “skiffle”. I didn’t think much of that but was most impressed by his song collecting throughout the world.
October 25 Monday: I got two pages of the paper done.
October 26 Tuesday: I continued with the paper, but in the evening went to the Connolly Association meeting. Barney Morgan had made a mess of it. He had agreed to show some slides of Liverpool-Irish places of interest. Instead he got Alan Jones to talk about Liverpool-Irish history. The people of this place are living in the past, and I am going to tackle Blevin about it. But even so only one person (not a member) came apart from myself and the young fellow Stephen Dowling, who is quite intelligent and came to some of the lectures. He is still unemployed – a clerical worker. Barney Morgan would have the Connolly Association a society of antiquaries! And yet he has done nothing about getting the Irish Centre for another set of lectures. He is like a butterfly, flits from one item of temporary interest to another and loses interest in that as quickly. Margaret Byrne rang up [A longstanding CA member in Glasgow].
October 27 Wednesday: I did two more pages. In the evening. Brett Kibble telephoned about my trip to Glasgow. I don’t think he has worked out what he hopes to get out of this conference on Saturday. Still, feicimid.
October 28 Thursday: I saw on a paper that Michael Mullen collapsed with a heart attack while in Germany and is in a coma. In a way it is most merciful, for his political regression is rapid. His old associates in the IRA of 1939 are all in the Workers Party and he is up to his neck in that. I wonder who will take over. Not another of them, I hope. I finished the “Irish Democrat”. I got Toni Curran to sign a letter calling for a Connolly Association pamphlet. This is in anticipation of having to publish a refutation of Myant’s book when it comes out. Diplomatically speaking one would attack him without naming him, and it would be better if a pamphlet had been announced before his thing came out. It is time we did one anyway.
October 29 Friday (Glasgow): I went to Glasgow and what a journey! The first part of the journey was by stopping train to Wigan. There were only two carriages and 70 people had to stand. Then we changed again at Preston. Brett Kibble met me at Central. The Secretary, William O’Brien, was there and we met Carol Fox, the American woman until recently secretary of Irish CND, who is a very decent woman. On the way to Margaret Burns, we called in at the newly opened Irish Centre. It is staffed by voluntary labour and full of young people drinking. There seems to be none of the cultural activity we have in Liverpool, but of course this takes time to build up. From what the boys tell me, the Glasgow CP is somewhat Clann na hEireann oriented, though they tell me that Clann na hEireann is non-existent. Brett Kibble has been successful in his degree and is going ahead for a PhD. William O’Brien is a carpenter, married with one child, but now living in Irvine in the county of Ayr. Later I stayed with Margaret Byrne. I think it is probably her return that triggered off the Connolly Association. She applied to join the CP when she got back (after four years) and they did not even bother to “process” her application. So at present she is not in it. She thinks very little of those who run it now.
October 30 Saturday (Liverpool): It started raining at 6 pm. yesterday. It continued all today but temperatures are rising well above normal and that can betoken a wet spell’s drawing to its end. I remember November 1927 when the first week had temperatures up to 64’F. Then came the coldest December in years. Not of course that anyone can tell.
The conference on Irish neutrality that the Connolly Association had organised drew about 25 people – one from Dundee, one from Edinburgh. There was a speaker from the Scottish TUC, a full-time official connected with the “Labour Coordinating Committee”. Among those present was Matthew Montgomery of Sinn Fein and the Troops Out Movement. He was very friendly. But he thought ending Partition took precedence over preserving the neutrality of the Republic, which obviously it can’t. I did not reply to him publicly as I’m never sorry to hear the demand for a United Ireland pressed but spoke to him afterwards. I had drafted a resolution and he and his companion voted for it. We spent the afternoon talking and drinking. I wish I had material in Liverpool to match those Glasgows! They have not raised the finances of the conference. They are paying out of their own pockets until they run a dance to make up the loss. I returned to Liverpool.
October 31 Sunday: Though the weather was mild I did not go out. I am wondering whether to go away for another – briefer – holiday. The bad weather, indeed the worst yet, meant that I did not get out and feel as if I had not had a holiday at all.
November 1 Monday: I wrote to Tim O’Keefe, to Fisher the accountant, and Pat O’Donohue. I heard on RTE at midday that Michael Mullen had died. I dare say that Carroll will dominate from now on and I don’t think that the Workers Party will have so much their own way. Simultaneously, Michael O’Leary has left the Labour Party! Rumour has it that he will join Fine Gael – a far cry from the time he used to attend West London Connolly Association meetings in busman’s uniform [This was when O’Leary was a student working in London during his university vacation from University College Cork in 1955 or 1956].
On Saturday Myant had a shocking article on the Six County elections. Noel Gordon, to whom I spoke, had seen it. He tells me Cheltenham CP have asked for a speaker on Irish history to accompany a speaker on “the last 20 years”. Presumably Myant. Why don’t they ask Clann na hEireann if they are so wonderful? Perhaps Gerry Curran will go.
There has not been a touch of frost yet and the garden looks positively gay. The Tropaeolums are brilliant, there are gladioli, borrage, coriander, antirrhinums, poppies in perfection and an odd rose. I cut runner beans today. All the leaks are fresh. Fennel has flowered a second time and southernwood (artemisia abrotanum) is in flower – the first time I ever noticed this. Of course the flowers are extremely inconspicuous. There are even marrows almost six inches long, but the temperature rose to about 62’F degrees today – it surely can’t go on very much longer. I spoke to Barney Morgan to arrange a meeting. In the above list of flowers, I omitted Oenothera and Geranium Sanguineum.
November 2 Tuesday (London): I went to Derby and Ripley where I had a mad rush as Ripleys have been delayed. Then I went on to London for the Standing Committee, which was held at Jane Tate’s flat. Those present included Noel Gordon, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Steve Huggett, Roger Kelly and the two girls who say nothing. I stayed overnight with Noel.
November 3 Wednesday (Liverpool): Thanks to Noel Gordon spotting it, I picked up a copy of T. A. Jackson’s “Dialectics” in Central Books for £20. They are very scarce. In the evening I rang up Tim O’Keefe. I called in to Marx House.
November 4 Thursday: I sent Dorothea a long letter [ie. Professor Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze, who organised six biennial Irish conferences in Halle, GDR]. She has been asked to give a twenty-minute talk on the influence of Marx’s “Capital” in England. Of course it is ridiculous. How many could do it here? And she has three weeks to prepare it. I went into Marx House yesterday and copied references from their catalogue and added suggestions and reminiscence. I had a bright idea. Next year is the centenary of Marx’s death. What about a pamphlet on Marx and Ireland which would wipe the floor with the academic dabblers?
November 5 Friday: I went into Birkenhead and bought papers, food and drink. I have been struck by the comparatively low prices this month. Of course the mild weather has kept vegetables cheap – I still have runner beans in the garden and a marrow that is actually growing! I stood in the queue for the till. A woman behind me had the “Mirror”, which had a headline, “Mark gets lost again”[ie. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son, who had been travelling in Africa]. She would be about 70 and as cynical remarks never come amiss with the elderly, I said, “It’s a pity he doesn’t get lost altogether.” Her reaction was electric. She launched a diatribe against Mrs Thatcher. “Indeed it is! Searching for him. Our bloody money being spent on it when she won’t give us a living wage! She shouts at the other young lads, but her own’s different. Lose him! Yes. Then there’d be one less of them to keep!” She looked round the queue, whose members were smiling slightly, but I would say definitely sympathetically.
November 6 Saturday: Yesterday I noted that CRS had brought their £1.75 wine down to £1.49. The shop across the road delivered “10 pence off” vouchers last week. Aslan have got bin ends in at under £2. I walked along to Lennons. They are offering German wine for £1-49. Obviously retail trade has badly shrunk. The Co-op (CRS) has a “sale”. The number of empty shops is increasing. Brian Wilkinson rang up. He has not been able to arrange a meeting in South Wales. And Noel Gordon also telephoned.
November 7 Sunday: The mild weather continues and I cut and wired runner beans – there are quite a few left too! Pat Bond rang at 4 pm. He told me he had been to the Surrey District Conference of the CP as a “fraternal delegate” from the Connolly Association. I am not sure he was wise, but there you are. He spoke and asked for a “declaration of intent”, by the Government (I presume), to get out of Ireland. Myant came in later to say “this was not party policy”. Later somebody speaking about the sovereignty of the Falklands said he hoped Britain would recognise the sovereignty of Dublin over the Six Counties. Again Myant intervened. “We do not recognise the sovereignty of Dublin in Northern Ireland.” I asked Pat Bond whose right did he recognise? “Presumably Britain’s.” “So the unity of Ireland is forgotten.” Pat Bond thought they would be prepared to recognise it if there were another type of government in Dublin, for example socialist. Or were they working towards “IONA”, I wondered [ie. Islands of the North Atlantic, some form of federal or confederal arrangement for all the countries of the British Isles, perhaps including Iceland]. I think they are too stupid or insufficiently interested to be working towards anything, but that’s the way they’re going. At their recent Left jamboree they had Michael Morrissey lecturing on Ireland. He is up to his neck in revisionism. It is interesting that Myant feels strong enough to come out increasingly openly. Is it the prospect of his book?
Apropos, Noel Gordon told me that he had a bookstall at this same jamboree. Gordon McLennan came past. Clann na hEireann had a stall next to us. He walked by without even looking at either. Then Bert Ward came and went to the Clann na hEireann. Noel overheard him say to them, “How’s the Connolly Association doing?” “Oh,” they said, “We’re Clann na hEireann. The Connolly Association is over there.” Can one credit it! But strangest of all, the only prominent CP man to look at our stall was Falber. Of course he’s retired. And he was looking at my ITGWU History. I can’t blame him for not buying it at the price! Noel Gordon also suggested that the reason Myant gave up his new position – he remained on the paper [ie. the “Morning Star”, of which he had been assistant editor]; the rumour that he had quit was incorrect – was to concentrate on the Irish question, possibly to write the book we await with interest.
November 8 Monday: I received a letter from Joe Deighan to whom I had written. He told me that Myant’s statement that the CPI cooperated with the Workers Party on specific issues was grossly untrue. In other words Myant was stretching the truth to suit his purposes – the two-faced little monkey! I told Noel Gordon, “It’s the same with the ‘party policy’. He makes it up as required,” was his rejoinder.
November 9 Tuesday: I wrote a lot of letters, including one to Drogheda accepting the quotation for printing the poems. This will cost me £1200. I’ll have to take from reserves. People moan about how the Russians silence people. They have a simple machinery here. They just see that they have no money. Yet the odd thing is that I could have done ten times as much If I had not constantly to wait for funds, yet I doubt I would have done the things I have done if money had been available!
November 10 Wednesday: I had arranged to have a committee meeting tonight at 8 pm. Barney Morgan rang up saying he could not arrive till 8.30. He arrived, at the Irish Centre, after 9 and Brian Stowell’s Irish class had arrived. He had invited the world and his wife – non-members, members, all was equal. However, Mc Entaggart was there, very spruce, and a great change. He had been in Dublin for a couple of weeks and had discussed with Michael O’Riordan the launching of the “first decent solidarity movement” by taking a great Trade Union delegation to Dublin, Belfast and Derry next March. He says the idea came from the NCP [ie. the New Communist Party] but the nature will be “broad”, the people going will be Trade Union delegates, but he hopes the NCP will have some representatives. He says CP people are in it, but not including Myant, I imagine. Bernard O’Connell is organising it and of course thanks to Pat Bond’s lack of foresight and imagination in proposing him for the Connolly Association Executive we will inevitably be blamed by the Myant faction. He asked me if I would give publicity in the “Irish Democrat”. I replied that I would report the facts in my usual impartial manner. Interest in the Irish question develops in a highly contradictory manner. I spoke to Cathal MacLiam on the telephone, also Freda Morton.
November 11 Thursday: I spoke to Noel Gordon, who told me he had been told earlier this year that Bernard O’Connell was trying to send a Trade Union delegation from the Midlands. He must have decided to spread it. We agreed not to say anything about it until it is officially announced. The Cheltenham CP has asked for a speaker from the Connolly Association on Irish History. There is to be another on modern times. He had expected Myant. They are sending Bert Ward. What next? Apparently Gerry Curran is prepared to go. Now he went specially to a Birmingham conference to have the pleasure of contradicting Myant. However, Ward won’t say anything definite enough to be contradictable. But an interesting thing is that the CP secretary there [ie. the Bernard O’Connell mentioned above] is anxious to support the Connolly Association and get members. There are friends as well as enemies.
And talking about that, I bought the “Morning Star”. I saw an advertisement which stated that Norah Dale was dead. Strangely enough Ken Keable had an advert, but this was obviously from their Esperanto interests. I remember her as a damn nuisance in the ructions in the Connolly Association in 1958-60 [ie. involving the leftist dissidents in the CA’s North London Branch]. How decisive was our victory then has been shown by history. Norah was not as vicious as her old bitch of a mother. She was, in effect an old Orangewoman, an anti-Catholic communist. I think she was genuine in her own crazy way. When that rat Furlong and his fellow rodent Andy O’Neill were putting it about furtively that I was embezzling the funds of the Connolly Association – in collusion with the then treasurer Pat Bond of all people – she stated it boldly. A meeting was called by Idris Cox and R. Palme Dutt with Mahon in the chair [ie. John Mahon of the London CP District. They were dealing with the activity of opposing CP members]. She repeated her charge. The natural question was, “How do you know?” Again and again, she replied, “I’ve been told.” “But is that your only evidence?” “I’ve been told.” “Then who told you?” She stalled long on this but ended up with, “I won’t tell you.” So that was the end of that little episode.
Then Sol Gadian is dead. He wasn’t bad. I remember I slammed the door of his office after a disagreement. Wilf Charles hastened down the stairs to bring me back. Gadian had the effrontery to ask, “Are you going to apologise?” I was about to walk out again with an even more resounding crash when suddenly, like birds suddenly alarmed, all the typists turned on Gadian and told him that he never listened to anybody and it was a wonder that somebody hadn’t done what I had done long ago. I forget what it was. It would be some little piece of chauvinism on his part. But he was not so bad.
But Jack Holland is also dead. He was a great character, a carpenter by trade who came to all our conferences. But I see Sam Wild is still alive.
November 12 Friday: I didn’t get much done today. It was wet and has turned colder and is blowing a gale. The phone kept ringing – Noel Gordon, Barney Morgan and Joe Deighan. I see from the “New Statesman” that Chater of the “Morning Star” is at loggerheads with the EC [ie. the CPGB Executive, now bitterly divided by disputes between “hard-liners” and “soft-liners”over a wide range of matters] over printing a reply. He is quite good at censorship.
I see Paddy O’Daire is dead. He was in the International Brigade – A Donegal man I think. I used to see him just after the war, when Alec Digges was active with us, together with Joe Monks, Abe Kaplan and the Robsons.
November 13 Saturday: Noel Gordon telephoned. He has got the deposit for the Dublin trip from Stephen Dowling and O’Grady, but not from Michael Mortimer or any of the others. The trip is next weekend. Joe Deighan rang to say he might meet me in Dublin. Noel Gordon had been to see John Guilfoyle. He has been in hospital but is discharged with a malignancy that will surely kill him. But, says Noel, he is perfectly cheerful and jokes about his impending dissolution. He has a daughter who looks after him. He is a foundation member of the Connolly Association – one of the few survivors; perhaps Elsie O’Dowling is the other.
The weather turned cold tonight and there were hailstones.
November 14 Sunday: I met Barney Morgan at the Irish Centre at midday. Stephen Dowling came and the Finnegans were there. Then we went to a public house on the dock road that stayed open all day to irrigate the crew of the Leinster and the invigilating policemen.
November 15 Monday (Edinburgh): I caught the 9.55. to Edinburgh where Alan Morton and Alisoun met me. We spent the whole afternoon and evening talking and drinking. I find Alisoun very hard to hear, and Alan finds the same. Is it her soft voice or our less sensitive ears? I said I thought I did not hear so well, but thank heavens so far the eyes have held. “Mine haven’t,” said Alan. He then told me he had glaucoma in one eye and it had been discovered rather late. I then saw how he was peering and squinting to read things. Alisoun Morton was a new woman. She was showing pleasure in life, something I never saw her evince before. She stayed up quite late. I told Freda that it was good to take her out of herself. She is teaching music to children. She is a clever young woman. Her instrument is the oboe, but she played a Bb clarinet from a score written in A – no tremendous feat but it was taken for granted by her – and played a harp, and she can make some showing on the piano. She has paid £900 for a “baby grand” Cramer piano which I tried, and which is not bad. Freda Morton is well.
November 16 Tuesday (Liverpool): There is no doubt not only that Alan Morton’s sight is affected badly but also that he was worried by it. After peering at something from three inches, he relapsed into a withdrawn silence and I also detected some slight signs of testiness, characteristic of a worried man. He is capable of so much more work and is only 72. He sold 1,200 copies of his “History of Botany”. Alisoun drove us in her car to the top of Calton Hill. The temperature is in the low forties. Indeed yesterday there was a complete snow cover from Lockerbie to Carstairs. We then went to the Royal Botanical Gardens where Alan did most of his work. He showed us the herbarium, then said, “Well, when you’re going past that, you can say, ‘There’s where the famous Professor Morton wrote his history of botany.’” It did not strike me at once, but he was making himself an object of history. And anyway I am only three years behind him! He came to see me off.
I decided to go down the East Coast, but the train was delayed. I missed the Newcastle-Liverpool and went to York. On the train between York and Leeds there was a young woman who got on at York who said she had just come out of hospital. An elderly man said she did not look it, which she did not. “Was it your first time in hospital?” “It was.” “I’ve been in four times.” “What for?” “The last time for glaucoma.” He then told her how his sight became misty. He went to an optician who could do nothing. His wife persuaded him to go to the Doctor who diagnosed glaucoma caught in time. He was given drops. After a time these ceased to work, so there was a small operation which nevertheless brought him into hospital.
I got the fast train at Leeds. I went as far as Huddersfield with a retired architect who told me he had known Paulson, but there were half a dozen Paulsons in every town. I reached Liverpool at about 10 pm.
November 17 Wednesday: The weather was mild again today – for the time being. But I did not do much. I was depressed by Alan Morton’s sight. I suppose when old age strikes one is always taken aback. “Too early” is the cry!
November 18 Thursday: I was in touch with Noel Gordon, Tony Coughlan, and Joe Deighan. There are only 20 people going on the Connolly Association delegation to Dublin. Joe Deighan and Dorothy as well as John McClelland and his wife are coming from Belfast, and Jim Savage from Cork. I have just brought in the last runner beans, as it has turned cold again. I sent Alan Morton the large square lens that Phyllis used for map reading.
November 19 Friday: I went to Caergybi and met Barney Morgan and Alf Ward on the boat. They had decided to stay in a hotel. I took the ‘bus, the wreckers having closed down the railway connection. I met Joe Deighan and Dorothy at Wynn’s Hotel, Tony Coughlan and Eddie Cowman arriving later. Joe assured me that there is no question of Myant having the sanction of the Belfast CP for his reactionary policy, though sometimes “Unity” fell by the wayside. Also Jim Savage was not the worst. Later Eddie Cowman drove Tony Coughlan and me back to Dundrum where he stayed the night.
November 20 Saturday: We went into town and met those coming via Liverpool at Bus Áras. They included Noel Gordon, Brett Kibble from Glasgow, Michael Mortimer and his mott, Janet Walsh and her young man, a non-member they should not have invited, Pat Bond, Donal Kennedy and later James Tate and Tony Donaghey arrived. We met Jack Bennett on his way to work [Bennett and his wife Anna had moved from Belfast to Dublin and was now working in the “Irish Press”]. He has Noel Gordon staying with him. Cathal has Michael Mortimer and the mott (a Glasgow Pakistani). Brett Kibble is with Seamus O Tuathail. I took some of them round central Dublin in the morning, while others wandered off on their own, for example Stephen Dowling. In all our party numbered 21 – 11 from London, 9 from Liverpool and one from Glasgow.
There was a meeting during the afternoon at the Shelbourne [This was a meeting of the Irish Sovereignty Movement]. About 80 attended. Ned Connolly from Rathluirc, Bobby Heatley, Joe Deighan, John McClelland, Dorothy Deighan and Kevin McCorry from Belfast (He is now in the CP), Jim McKeever from Tyrone, Jim Savage from Cork and Carmel O’Dwyer from Murrisk. As for the Dublins there was Uinseann MacEoin, Bolger of Sinn Fein [ie. of “Provisional” Sinn Fein], the two O’Rourkes, Tom Redmond (who came late), indeed too many to enumerate. Micheál O Loingsigh was in the chair and I said something above the problems arising from emigration. Tony Coughlan then spoke and finally Peadar O’Donnell, now 90 years old, delivered an inspiring address that lasted 30 minutes. The meeting was a great success. Afterwards Noel Gordon and I had a talk with Bolger. I asked him if there was any prospect of a ceasefire in the Six Counties. He thought not. He is appointed to build up their political wing, possibly against the Workers Party. I told him our position. But though he was pleasant enough the intellectual arrogance of the Republicans who adopt physical force as a principle was very evident. He made reference to Bert Ward. “Oh,” said I, “He was arrested in Grafton Street, wasn’t he?” “Yes, he had been in Parnell Square.” Really, the man shouldn’t be let loose. They have only 60 people in England and many of them, says Bolger, are of poor calibre
In the evening there was a party at Muriel Saidlear’s. Among those present were Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam], Tony Coughlan, Roy Johnston, Eddie Cowman, Jim Savage – indeed, a big crowd. Bobby Heatley and John McClelland came back and stayed at Tony Coughlan’s so that we the long talk. Heatley is writing a novel but finding difficulty. I said for the first one take a model.
November 21 Sunday: We got up late, had lunch and then went into town. Maolachlann O Caollai drove me in. After picking up the visitors plus Sean Redmond, Daltún O Ceallaigh and a few others, we drove in cars requisitioned by Tony C. to Glasnevin where Barney Morgan’s friend Eamonn Mac Thomáis showed everybody the most notable graves. Then we went to Kilmainham and were shown round there. Finally we repaired to Wynn’s whence those returning via the B.+ I. [ie. the British and Irish shipping line] left for the Liverpool boat. There was general satisfaction at a good weekend. Colm Power came home with us.
November 22 Monday: Colm Power and Tony Coughlan accompanied me to Dun Laoire, but I had a very rough crossing to Caergybi. However I got back to 124 Mount Road by 4 pm. Incidentally Micheál O Loingsigh told me the setting of the poems is complete. He is seeing if he can get Egon MacLiam to design a cover, though I do not think Egon is terribly interested.
November 23 Tuesday: I worked on the paper. Tony Coughlan rang saying Michael Mortimer’s mott had left her handbag in Cathal’s car. I rang Michael to inform him. He said he and the girl were very impressed by the Dublin visit. Later Cathal called rang on the same subject. He was very pleased with the week-end.
November 24 Wednesday: I spent the day on the paper.
November 25 Thursday: Another day on the paper. I had a note from Alan Morton thanking me for the reading glass I sent him, which he found of use. He says one eye only is affected and he is using a drug which has had no side-effects as yet.
November 26 Friday: I nearly finished the paper. I am still however awaiting the final election results.
November 27 Saturday: I got the final copy posted and then met Niall Curran, Gerry Curran’s eldest, at Lime Street. He is now a student of physics at Manchester and very grown up. Mind, he was always a mature young fellow, more stable than his younger brother Conor. I was very favourably impressed. He follows politics and regards the war-to-the-knife between Gerry Curran and Myant as “good fun”, a somewhat estudiantine reaction. To him on this basis it is like a rather sophisticated football match. He is not upset by the separation of Gerry Curran and Toni and wants to be on good terms with both of them. I told him what I thought of Gerry. He has considerable ability but wants achievement without effort. I did not say that he collapses in the face of difficulties. I showed him the city and we had dinner in the Cypriot.
November 28 Sunday (London): I caught the 11.50 for London where Noel Gordon met me. He told me that Myant’s conference is postponed till May. They have a young man called John Lloyd doing all the work. He has written to me asking me to be a sponsor. He also gave me a copy of “Unity”, which contains a most laudatory review of the ITGWU history – the most yet [“Unity” was the Belfast bulletin of the CPI]. “Unity” is campaigning, perhaps not with complete consistency, for a British withdrawal. It is clear from this and other things Noel Gordon told me that Myant is not getting his ideas from Belfast but from his own deep-seated chauvinism.
I opened the series of lectures on Irish history. It was very well attended. After it was over we had a drink with Tolhurst. He is an incredible didactic talker, and heavy company. But he has re-issued his pamphlet [on the international peace issue]. He told one of the company that he wakes up after an hour’s sleep every night and worries about nuclear war. Then he reads or sorts papers till he is tired enough to sleep again. Two of the girls had been to the CP (London) conference and one had made a speech on Ireland. She was warned that if she discussed policy she would be ruled out of order. I told her the best thing would have been to discuss policy and be ruled out of order. There was also an edict that “Marxism Today” must not be discussed as it was a “national”, not a district, concern. But the “Morning Star” was discussed.
November 29 Monday: I went to Ripley. The sky was bright, the sunshine brilliant and up to near Derby there was thick frost. In Derby it was drizzling through dense fog. In Ripley it was sunny again. Things went well and I got back to Derby, and the fog, in time for the 5.20. But there was no Liverpool connection at Crewe. I had to wait for the connection to the 6.30 and this was late.
November 30 Tuesday: The frost has ruined everything. The Tropaeolums have collapsed. The lettuces look sickly, A couple of bedraggled roses remain. But not a thing is taken out of the Geranium Sanguineum or the Artemisia Abrotanum, which is flowering. I don’t think I remember seeing it flower before, though the flowers are so insignificant one would hardly notice them. John De Courcy Ireland has linked up with Kemmy, Colm Power wrote, and tells me he got a derisory vote in Dun Laoire. He enclosed a picture which lends support to his view that he is getting senile. He has been anti-national for a long time. It is a pity. But as for Justin Keating, he is now found saying what a “marvellous Taoiseach” Garret FitzGerald would make. He is completely shameless and no doubt has business connections with members of Fine Gael as Eddie Cowman suspected when he appeared. in a Fine Gael house which Eddie was renovating.
December 1 Wednesday: I rang De Roe at Dolgoch and he promised to open the hostel for me if I go on Friday. I don’t know whether the weather will be better. But it can hardly be worse than it was in October.
In the evening I met Michael Mortimer in the Irish Centre, together with Barney Morgan and Stephen Dowling. Later Michael Kelly arrived and gave Dowling a sealed envelope sent by Janet Walsh. He offered it to a girl who refused to take it, then said he would deliver it himself. Kelly said it was intended for some man who had a habit of disappearing for weeks on end. He mentioned his name. I ask no further questions but noted the “Uranus movements”.
December 2 Thursday: The proofs of the poems arrived. I sent three copies to Tim O’ Keefe. I also wrote to Pat O’Donohue and Pat Bond. He had written an extraordinary letter asking about training a substitute editor for the contingency that I might drop down dead or meet some other mischance. He mentioned Jempson, suggesting I had a personal objection to the man. I told him that unless he came to live in Liverpool, he could be of little help. I suspect Jempson, who is a decent enough fellow, has been tackling him since his own paper folded up. I wonder if he would have the same enthusiasm if he knew how often the salary is paid! I think I got £400 last year.
December 3 Friday (Dolgoch): I went away, but nearly did not. At the last minute I could not find the “uplift” for my saddle bag but did. Then I slipped (though there was only a slight frost) but decided not to take any notice of inorganic cries of “Cauneas” [ie. from the Latin “Caue ne eas”, “Beware, don’t go”] and caught the 7.40 to Chester, then to Salop and Llanwyrtid. There the weather was mild, with a South wind. I cycled to Dolgoch, where De Roe awaited me. Indeed he stopped me outside. “We’ve got a party of youngsters here. They’ve all been in trouble. but they’re completely under control.” They were in the charge of Greenhalgh (which he pronounced Greenock, not Greenalsh), a Cumberland man aged about 38 and very capable, their teacher and two “house parents”, a woman of about 45 and a young fellow with long hair and a type of motorcyclist’s jacket, who did not look too bright. They had indeed passed me in a minibus this side of Abergwesyn and apologised for not giving me a lift. They did not of course know where I was going. Considering the ice on the pass, perhaps I might not have wanted a “lift”.
The boys were all around 12-15 years old. One was a typical hypocephalic West Indian. The woman told me their mental age was about seven, though one of them, Robert, had a lively enough playful wit. They all come from an endowed Catholic school at Pershore. They were going to work on the hostel but found De Roe had started knocking down a wall which Greenhalgh thought was to connect them to his pet scheme.
There was a man of above 35 there, Phillips. He had arrived last night and was walking 15 miles a day before returning to Cardiff, where he hoped to become a Labour Party Councillor. He was a convinced “economist” and thought history was bunk. I saw his passport photo – a very stylised affair. I think he imagines himself a genius yet to be justified. He was reading Seamus Heaney’s poems. De Roe produced a bottle of port.
December 4 Saturday: The weather was wet and miserable. Not much was done by the “working party” and they went out to Llyn Brianne in the afternoon. I had occasion to observe the boys. The coloured lad was in trouble with the female houseparent who several times slapped his face, finally bringing in Greenhalgh who sent him out. Robert started describing his dreams of going with a girl and said one had slapped his face, he didn’t know why. “Keep it clean!” I heard the house parent warn. They told me that these youngsters have to go home at Christmas and hate it. Robert has to sleep downstairs. Greenhalgh told me how he took one boy home last Christmas. There was no lock on the door. No response came to his knock, so he walked in and shouted. A woman came down in her in the tattered dressing gown that “left nothing to the imagination”. Then a man appeared at the top of the stairs, bollocks-naked and shouted, “Fuck off out of here.” The boy cried all the way back to school and Greenhalgh found council accommodation for him. John, from London, was one of the brightest. They all played draughts. I had not played the game for 60 years but one of them persuaded me and I wiped him up. John, however, won, admittedly only by the opposition of two kings, but he knew how to manage them. Some of the boys had Irish names. One was a Mongol, very affectionate to his teacher. But the remarkable thing was the complete absence of youthful imagination or curiosity. They had, most of them, no brains.
December 5 Sunday: Greenhalgh decided that the wall De Roe had started to demolish was falling down. He asked my opinion. I agreed. “I warned him about this,” he said. But De Roe did not give a damn. “It’s got to come down anyway,” he said. So the whole day was spent shoring it up. But they got a beam in position above it and started building on that. If there is a gale of wind the whole roof might blow off.
In the afternoon I noticed that the woman “house parent” became Increasingly testy and dealt out a few more slaps. At above 8 pm. she was sitting before the fire with a fierce pain in her side. I insisted on Greenhalgh not waiting but ringing Tregaron Hospital at once. The verdict was “bring her in at once,” which he did. The boys were suddenly all well behaved and the young fellow, Kevin, got all nine of them to bed. De Roe sat up till 11 pm., I till 1.30. A message came that Greenhalgh would return as soon as he could. Obviously he couldn’t tonight.
December 6 Monday: Greenhalgh returned about 9 am. He had to go to Aberystwyth to take the patient’s purse etc. She was at Aber “for observation”. There was thick ice everywhere and he had had a nightmare journey. However, it showed signs of thawing and he ran me into Tregaron where I bought wine and milk and had lunch. I walked back the 9 miles to Dolgoch. What a walk! All was well till I passed Diffwys. Then the sun declined and ice began to form. All traffic had stopped. Streams running across Esgair galli [a local ridge] and the road became sheets of ice. There was no moon. It was hard to make sure what was road. I had only one spill, after which a stream of liquid ran across the road, not more than a mile from the Tywi bridge. “There’s the wine gone,” said I as I felt the crunched glass. There was a little light from the stars and in the valley they seemed brighter – mainly Vega; Capella was too low. So at last I got back – my feet wet and generally chilly but intact. And it wasn’t the wine, but the milk, which was good! De Roe was just beginning to get alarmed. He would have rung the police.
December 7 Tuesday: It rained all day and there was a good hour of thunder in the evening. Nothing could be done. De Roe told me about some of the characters he has coming. “The Colonel”, a retired salesman, is a believer in metempsychosis. He also likes playing with water and damned a stream across the local farmer’s field. Then there was the lad from Derbyshire I met in October. The gas went out. He tried to light it by putting anthracite at the bottom, sticks above it and paper on top. And he swore this was the right way! Then there is a professor with two sons and a daughter. The daughter (20) is on drugs. One of the sons (26) went walking and rang from Pontrhydfendigaid saying he was lost and could not pronounce the name of the place where he was! The father had to go looking for him!
December 8 Wednesday: The farmer, annoyed at the flooding, is raising objections to De Roe introducing a bridge and a subsidiary water supply. He came today raging because one of the boys had left a gate open and sheep had got out. But he got them back, thanks to his dogs, in 20 minutes and was in such a good mood that De Roe thinks he will get his bridge. The farmer was born at Dolgoch. After the disastrous winter of 1963 they sold the farmhouse to the Forestry for £400. They bitterly regret it. The Forestry sold it to the YHA for £10,000.
December 9 Thursday: Another bad day. De Roe said Will Lewis often comes to Dolgoch with “a few boys who only speak Welsh”. It was at Dolgoch he began as a farm servant. The shepherd who was acting as warden at Tyncornell has got his own farm at last. Will Lewis quarrels with everybody, but his main interest is the use of the hostel for his sheep-shearing etc. Matthews, the Welsh YHA secretary, is expected tomorrow.
December 10 Friday: I had intended to leave today. A phone call from Matthews said he was not coming as the roads were up. There was sleet and rain and I decided to leave my departure until tomorrow. I have got a few touches of arthritis. From Monday?
December 11 Saturday (Brynpoethuchaf): There were still some ice but I watched it thaw off a field on the other side of the valley and as I was at the highest elevation I decided to go. I cut down weight to a minimum and packed the uplift so that I could jump off quickly. I had telephoned Brynpoethuchaf and arranged to stop there and avoid the Irfan Pass. There was little icing and none when I got down to Ystrad Ffin. I left Dolgoch at 12.15 and was at Rhandirmwyn at 2.50, not quick, but not too slow. Five students came, four boys and a girl – the leader expressing that strong English chauvinism so strongly developed in the Cockneys. All are interested in money and an easy life, except for the girl. All the blankets were wet, but I had dried some before they came. The new warden is an Englishman who has taken the farm.
December 12 Sunday: The students left and I simply waited out the day till I can get a train tomorrow. The weather is still cold and damp.
December 13 Monday (Liverpool): I got down to Cynghordy and returned to Liverpool, very glad for the hot train at Salop.
December 14 Tuesday: The arthritis has turned bad and I am hobbling about. For all that I was glad I took the holiday.
December 15 Wednesday: In the evening Tony Coughlan arrived, but I had been unable to prepare for him and arranged for him to stay at Barney Morgan’s. All I want to do is to sit in front of the fire and sleep. The wretched cold weather continues. Moreover, it comes from the North. We still await the Eastern half!
December 16 Thursday: Tony Coughlan stayed here working on the paper. But all I could do was sit in the chair. He got me codeine, salicylate and senna.
December 17 Friday: I started with a small dose of senna and then took salicylate. There was no miraculous cure, but it started.
December 18 Saturday: The arthritis started to mend.
December 19 Sunday: I stayed in all day.
December 20 Monday: Another day doing nothing.
December 21 Tuesday: I went across the road to the shops. Otherwise nothing.
December 22 Wednesday: I went into Birkenhead to buy supplies.
December 23 Thursday: I went into town again for supplies, to Lewis’s and the market. But I could not find any sweet potatoes.
December 24 Friday: I went into Birkenhead. The arthritis is still there, but it a longer affects my movements. Tony Coughlan arrived at 4 pm.[having gone to London for some days and being invited by Greaves to stay with him over Christmas] and Barney Morgan called in later. There were 28 at Wednesday’s meeting. It was therefore one of the most successful yet. But the CP does not attend; everybody else does. They must do everything on their own. Dorothy Deighan rang to say Maire Comerford is dead. Jane Tate rang about Bob Fairley.
December 25 Saturday: We did little – had a couple of meals and drank a quantity of wine. I suggested to Tony that a conference on “anti-national-brainwashing” is badly needed. He will think about it.
December 26 Sunday: Again, little, but eat, drink and talk.
December 27 Monday: We went into town in the afternoon.
December 28 Tuesday: Tony left for Dublin and I got on with the paper.
December 29 Wednesday: I went on with the paper. For the last few days the weather has been mild – the weather I was looking for when I went away at the beginning of the month. Despite the frost and snow there are lettuces in the garden and a cauliflower has headed up, but rather apologetically.
December 30 Thursday: I finished the paper but for 16 inches and posted it off. Apart from that there was nothing.
December 31 Friday: Barney Morgan having at last got the agreement of the Liverpool Irish Centre to another series of lectures, I had to start looking for speakers. Barney is the classic secretary who doesn’t “sec”. I want it done, so I must do it. Anyway, I spoke to Flan Campbell who agreed to come. He told me he’s halfway through his book on nationalist Protestants in Ulster and asked me to read some of it. I had intended to take up this subject myself, but it is a welcome addition to our forces if somebody else will do it. I also had a word with Jane Tate. One of the Watters family at Shotts has died. I am wondering whether to do the history of the Irish working class that Skelly would like for Lawrence and Wishart. I will probably try it. But I have resolved to get a little more relaxation next year – it may be the last when I can, indeed even if it is not too late already!
(End of Volume 31, c. 50,000 words)