Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 36, 1986-87
1 October 1986 – 30 June 1987
THEMES: Reaction to the deepening divisions in the CPGB: “As a matter of fact the most recent developments have led me to think seriously for the first time of severing my connections with it after over 52 years …The hijackers may find the vehicle surprisingly empty in the New Year.”(10.22) – Campaigning on the wrongfully imprisoned Birmingham Six: “I had written to the London people who are pressing the Birmingham Six issue telling them we were going to take it up.” (10.30) – Assessing the Connolly Association’s work as against that of other Irish organisations in Britain: “If there was a trace of political ability in London the CA could have been leading a substantial movement. Anyway, I decided to spend six months on seeing what I could clobber together. All the skill is with the more ‘moderate’ people of the Federation of Irish Societies. I wonder what is the cause of the incompetence, or at least the ham-fistedness, of the ‘Left’. Desire for too quick results?” (11.7) – Reaction to the Irish Supreme Court’s injunction in the Crotty case forbidding ratification of the Single European Act without a referendum: “There is no doubt that Anthony Coughlan and his colleagues have done a first-class job on the Single European Act and thoroughly embarrassed both the Government and the Labour Party. There is however still a fixed determination to push ahead with it.” (11.28) – Some long-term political speculation: “I think the revolutionary wave of 1905-1922 and its secondary 1941-48 have both exhausted their political force and now things are regrouping for the greatest crash of all. It takes about a century each time.” (11.30) – Sending the letters of his Mormon ancestor Joseph Greaves to Salt Lake City, Utah (12.9) – Reaction to receiving his annual CP membership card: “The local CP called in the evening and brought me a 1987 card. I must say I felt no satisfaction at receiving it. Certainly it is a good sign that they moved so speedily, and they seemed pleasant enough young people. But the tradition is lost. And perhaps it has to be. It may be we need to put 1917 into history and look for 2017.” (12.17) – Worry over his eye-sight and having to instil regular eye-drops against glaucoma: “And for the first time I remember, I had to decline an engagement on medical grounds. God knows what wreckage of my carefully planned six months activity will go by the board. The only hopeful thing is that I have a slight feeling that the pressure in the eyes has fallen.”(2.17) – Declines invitation to side with one of the CP factions: “Of course the weakness of the Communist Campaign Group is that they exist to modify the policy of something they are no longer in, and it is logical for them to try to regularise their position. I explained to him my own position. I am not going to resign, but if I’m kicked out, I will not champ with grief and rage. I propose to work with anybody who will work with me, but I will not link with the CCG because of its interference in CP affairs. If I did that I could not logically remain in it.” (3.5) – Attack on him by Bob Purdie in the journal “Radical Scotland” (3.6) – Joins his Prenton, Birkenhead, neighbours in a protest against a proposed local chip shop: “I’m not terribly concerned, but if the neighbours feel strongly about it, naturally I back them up.”(3.7) – The burden of being the Connolly Association’s only full-time worker following the resignation of its full-time national organiser: “It is an absolute curse that this eye trouble should have come on me just when the whole weight of the organisation is on me…I’m General Secretary, Editor, Press Officer and Liverpool secretary, and there is nobody of obvious ability in sight. I also have to call the annual conference.”(3.11) – Work on his comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”: “Most nights I spend the last half hour over a bottle of wine and do a spot of work on the ‘epic’. I am halfway through the third book.” (3.15) – Intimations of mortality: “I am aware of course that if I have a pain in my finger I think I’m dying, but all the same I had a dizzy spell this morning which lasted about a second. I looked it up in Macmillan, and could find no other symptom that went with it, and was reassured to some extent by the statement that brief losses of consciousness are not serious. I have always acted as if my good health would go on for ever. But signs that it will not are multiplying fast. I’ll need another three years to complete the epic. Will I ever get on to the aesthetics?” (3.17) – Connolly Association conference on the Irish in the building trade: “It was a tremendous success and possibly a turning point.”(3.21) – Putting the “Irish Democrat” on microfilm (4.25) – Speaks at the funeral of Freda Morton, wife of his life-long friend, Professor Alan G. Morton the botanist (4.30) – Considers voting patterns at the 1987 Connolly Association annual conference (5.10-11) – Enthusiasm for Martin Bernal’s book, “Black Athena”: “I went on with Bernal’s book, which is one of the most interesting I have read for a long time.” (5.19) – Comment on the No-side forces in the Single European Act referendum campaign in Ireland: “I was going through all the cuttings and the campaign seems to have rallied all that is best in Ireland. It could be like the Republican Congress, whose defeat ushered in the long period of reaction. All the people I know are in it, and all seem to have behaved magnificently, even if occasionally they have got on each other’s nerves.”(5.26) – Regret at some of the younger members of the Connolly Association getting involved in non-Irish issues: “All the youngsters have been deep in Anti-Apartheid. This is of course the English movement, to condemn the evil deeds of other peoples’ governments – not their own.” (6.17) – Thinking of copying another one of his early diaries: “I had a look at this old 1946 diary. I think I will repeat what I did with 1933-35. It is, unlike those, written in standard spelling.”(7.5) – Attending or organising meetings on Ireland in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Blackburn, Bolton, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leicester, Leeds, Northampton and Nottingham, with a visit to Dublin, passim
Index to Volume 36: 1 October 1986 – 30 June 1987
[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, following the summary of the main themes of the volume, the better to facilitate internet readers seeking knowledge of that particular volume’s contents.
The text of this Volume 36 of the Journal therefore follows rather than precedes the Index below.
In the Index references here and 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, the figure (2) is attached to each entry for the second year.]
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 1.17-18, 3.17-18, 6.19
Assessments of others: 10.3-6, 11.12, 12.15, 3.25, 4.4-5, 4.22, 5.2, 5.11,
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 1.8, 2.24, 3.4, 4.1, 4.20,
Campaigning in Britain in defence of the Nation State: 5.25
Campaigning on European supranational integration/the EEC: 11.28, 12.26, 1.3, 2.7, 2.27, 3.24, 4.19, 5.25-26
Holidays/cycle tours: 10.1-14
Meteorology, interest in: 1.10-11, 5.21, 6.29
Self-assessments and personal plans: 10.20, 10.23-24, 12.9-10, 12.19,
12.24, 12.31, 1.8, 2.11, 2.20, 2.24, 2.28, 3.5, 3.7, 3.9, 3.14, 4.19
Verse: “Elephants Against Rome”: 3.15, 3.17-18, 4.6, 6.19
Organisation Names Index
Birmingham Six Committee: 1.8, 1.21
British Labour Party: 5.7
Communist Campaign Group: 3.5
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB):10.20, 10.22, 11.2, 12.15, 2.15,
3.3, 3.5, 3.12, 3.29, 4.1, 4.30, 5.2, 6.11
Communist Party of Ireland (CPI): 10.31, 1.22, 3.14, 3.17, 4.27, 5.16, 6.15
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 10.19,10.23-24, 11.7, 11.21, 12.20,
12.31, 2.14, 3.3, 3.14, 4.3, 4.6, 4.19, 5.2, 5.10, 5.20, 6.14
Federation of Irish Societies: 11.7-8, 12.22, 1.8
Irish in Britain Representation Group (IBRG): 10.23, 11.9, 1.8, 4.17
Irish Labour Party: 11.3
Labour Committee on Ireland: 10.23
Liberation, formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom: 3.29
New Communist Party: 3.5
People’s Democracy: 1.8
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Officials”(Sinn Fein the Workers Party/“Stickies”):4.9
Sinn Fein/IRA –“Provisionals”:10.23, 11.3, 11.28
Trade Unionists for Irish Unity and Independence (TUIUI): 12.21
Personal Names Index
Askins, Jack: 1.6, 1.8
Barry, Peter: 11.8
Bellamy, Ron and Joan: 10.22, 6.11
Bennett, Erna: 11.9
Bennett, Jack and Anna: 11.16
Bernal, Prof. J. Desmond: 6.2
Bernal, Martin: 5.14, 6.2, 6.9
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 11.1, 11.8, 11.13, 12.6-7,12.9, 1.7, 1.12, 1.15,
1.31, 2.4-5, 2.17, 2.23, 2.25, 3.25, 3.27, 3.29-30, 4.10, 4.13, 4.23, 5.9, 5.16, 5.20, 6.6, 6.20, 6.23, 6.28
Bond, Stella: 10.19, 10.23-24, 11.23, 12.7, 2.1, 4.16, 4.21, 5.16
Bowers. Joe: 10.20
Boyd, John: 11.13, 1.12, 2.8-9, 3.14, 4.14
Bree, Declan: 11.26, 4.6
Burrup, J.G.: 12.9-10, 2.7, 4.6
Byrne, Margaret: 11.21, 1.17, 2.10, 2.19, 2.21, 4.6, 4.13-14, 4.30
Callan, Paul: 12.26
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 3.8
Campfield, Brian: 3.17
Carroll, John: 1.3
Charles, Wilf: 11.6, 12.18
Chater, Tony: 11.9, 1.8
Clifford, Madge: 3.11
Clinton, Mark: 12.21, 1.27, 1.30
Colden, Wolfgang: 3.16
Cole, Stan: 3.29
Collins, Martin: 3.18
Connolly, Imelda: 4.27
Connolly, James: 11.21
Coombes, Keva/Kevin: 11.12, 11.19
Cosgrave, Jim: 11.27
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 11.9, 11.17, 11.23, 11.25, 12.26, 1.3, 1.6-7,
1.10, 1.24, 1.27, 2.7, 2.27, 3.22, 3.24, 4.9-10, 4.16, 4.18-19, 5.29-
30, 6.1-2, 6.11, 6.25
Cowman, Eddie: 11.25
Crotty, Raymond: 11.3, 12.26, 1.3, 1.20, 2.27, 4.9-10
Crowe, Michael: 3.8, 4.11
Crowther, Geoffrey: 3.18
Cunningham, Charlie: 10.24, 11.1, 11.9, 12.6, 1.10, 1.31, 2.1, 2.14, 3.10,
Curran, Gerard: 1.8, 2.6, 2.20, 2.23, 2.25, 2.27, 3.3, 4.2, 4.21, 6.6
Davies, George: 3.12, 6.13
Deighan, Joseph: 1.1, 3.8, 3.31, 4.12, 4.18
Devine, Gloria (later Finlay): 1.21
Dickens, Charles: 12.9-10
Donaghey, Tony: 3.1, 5.10, 5.16
Draper, Lenny: 3.29
Drück, Max: 3.29
Durkin, Tom: 1.8
Dutt, R. Palme: 4.24
Eddisford, Vic: 3.29
Edwards, Mrs “Bobby”: 11.27
Edwards, Prof. Owen Dudley: 11.21
Einstein, Albert: 3.18
Ellis, Peter Berresford: 1.16, 3.16
Farrell, Niall: 11.26
Farrell, Jennifer: 11.26
Field, Frank, MP: 5.21
Finnerty, Joe: 3.16, 4.7
FitzGerald, Garret, TD: 11.3, 12.26
Fleming, Eric: 1.26, 3.12
Friel, Jim: 5.20
Frodsham, Roy: 5.27
Frow, Eddie: 6.16
Gibson, John and Veronica: 12.15
Gilhooley, Paul: 10.19-20, 10.27, 1.10, 1.12, 1.22, 1.31, 2.4-6, 2.23, 3.21,
3.25, 3.29-30, 4.2, 4.4, 5.1-2, 5.8, 5.10-12, 5.16, 5.28, 6.6
Gill, Ken: 10.20, 5.25
Gollan, John: 3.29
Gorbachev, Mikhail: 2.3, 2.15, 3.5, 3.12
Goulding, Bill: 12.21, 1.27, 1.30
Greaves, Joseph: 12.9, 2.7
Greaves, Mary: 12.10, 12.12
Greaves, Phyllis: 3.7
Greaves, William: 12.12, 2.7, 2.21
Guinan, Martin: 1.8
Hall, Gus: 1.22, 3.12
Harkin, Nora: 11.27
Harris, Noel: 10.20
Heatley, R.H.W.(Bobby): 1.8
Heffer, Eric, MP: 1.28, 6.12
Herbert, Michael: 10.18, 10.30, 11.3, 11.8, 11.11,1.6, 1.8, 4.8, 6.23
Hobson, Bulmer: 4.22
Hodge, Alan: 3.18
Hoffman, John: 2.23
Hyde, Douglas: 11.2
Jackson, Stella: 1.16
Jacques, Martin: 11.2, 3.29
James, Miriam: 10.20, 12.15
Jamison, Joe: 11.13, 5.15, 5.21, 6.1, 6.3-4, 6.7
Johnston, Roy: 11.25, 12.23, 5.15, 6.11
Keable, Ken: 11.2, 3.21
Keating, Justin: 4.18
Kee, Robert: 1.20
Kelleher, Derry: 4.18
Kennedy, Donal: 11.8, 1.16
Kibble, Brett: 5.20
Kinnock, Neil, MP: 5.21
Kneafsey, Michael: 3.11
Latham, Brian: 3.29
Logan, Josephine: 2.2-3, 4.27
Loyden, Eddie, MP: 6.22
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónal: 11.5, 3.19
MacBride, Sean: 1.3
McGahey,Michael, “Mick”: 11.21
McGurk, John: 2.8
McLaughlin, Alf: 11.26
McLennan, Gordon: 11.2, 11.21, 3.5, 3.12, 3.29
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 11.25, 11.28, 12.26, 1.7, 4.23, 6.11
MacLiam, Egon: 2.1
MacLiam, Killian: 2.1
Maguire, Chris: 10.24, 1.15, 1.21, 1.31, 4.2
Meehan, John: 11.26
Merrigan, Matt: 4.11
Milne, Ewart: 1.17
Mitchell, Ellen: 4.22, 5.11, 5.20
Morgan, Barney: 0.31, 4.11-12, 4.17, 4.22, 5.12
Moriarty, Martin: 2.14, 3.14, 3.25, 4.2, 5.9, 5.16, 6.18
Morrissey, Michael: 11.1
Mortimer, Michael: 10.31, 12.22, 12.29, 1.28, 3.9-10, 6.3
Morton, Alan 2 (Sociologist): 12.29, 2.8, 3.22, 6.24
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 11.8, 11.20-21, 12.1, 1.7, 2.23,
2.28, 3.5, 3.10, 4.23-24, 4.26, 4.28, 4.30, 5.15
Morton, Alisoun: 11.20, 12.1, 2.23, 3.5, 4.30, 5.15
Mosley, Oswald: 5.25
Mulligan, Peter: 12.7, 4.3, 4.21, 4.23, 4.25, 5.9, 5.25
Mullin, Chris: 11.17, 11.19
Murray, Sean: 11.3
Myant, Chris: 2.3, 3.22, 3.29
Nelson, Kevin: 3.22
Ó Ceallaigh, Daltún: 6.1
O’Connor, Peter: 11.27
O’Donohue, Pat: 1.21, 2.1, 2.14, 5.4, 6.6
O’Dowling, Elsie (née Timbey): 12.7
O’Flaherty, Derek: 3.14, 5.9, 5.16, 6.6
O’Grady, Joe: 12.29, 1.28, 6.12
O’Higgins, Paul: 11.13, 6.2
Ó Loingsigh, Micheál and Eibhlín: 11.28-29, 12.23, 4.23
O’Riordan, Michael: 11.25, 12.16, 1.4, 1.22,1.30
O’Shea, Dr Elisabeth,“Betty”:
O’Shea, Fred: 11.27
Parker, W.D.“Bill”: 11.8
Paulin, Tom: 2.3
Peck, John: 2.2
Pocock, Gerry: 10.23
Pollitt, Harry: 3.29
Power, Colm: 12.23
Redmond, Sean: 11.28, 1.3, 1.6, 5.6
Rendle, Philip: 12.7
Rowlandsom, Tom: 12.19
Saidlear, Muriel: 11.25, 11.28-29, 12.17, 6.3
Salveson, Paul: 12.22, 2.19, 2.26, 3.10, 4.6, 4.11, 4.17, 4.27, 5.28
Sapper, Alan: 10.20
Shields, Jimmy: 4.24
Short, Clare, MP: 4.23
Siegmund-Schultze, Prof. Dorothea: 6.3
Snoddy, Oliver (Ó Snodaigh): 1.9, 2.28, 3.19, 6.16
Spengler, Oswald: 5.14
Spillane, Charlie: 11.27
Stewart, Jimmy: 10.23, 6.13, 6.15
Stowell, Brian: 2.10, 3.8-9, 3.16, 4.7
Strattan, George: 10.22
Taplin, Eric: 10.18, 2.10
Tate, Jane: 10.18, 11.23, 12.15,1.7, 1.21, 2.12, 2.23, 2.25, 3.21, 3.30,
4.10, 5.8-9, 5.11
Taylor, Cyril Dr.: 4.6
Temple, Nina: 3.29
Thomson, Prof. George; 2.13
Trask, Roger: 11.9, 2.15
Walsh, Tom: 11.7
Wilkinson, Brian: 3.15
Woddis, Jack: 1.30
October 1 Wednesday (Dolgoch, Tregaron, mid-Wales): It was cloudy again but mild. There was a slight clearance at 4 pm. and I told De Roe I thought it might rain [De Roe was warden of Dolgoch Youth Hostel in mid-Wales, which Greaves regularly stayed in when on holiday in the area].Nobody came.
October 2 Thursday: It rained in the night but cleared early in the morning and then followed a beautiful day. I pottered around the riverbank and collected some bullaces [a variety of plum] but they proved disappointing. Nobody came.
October 3 Friday: Another magnificent day I began to feel the benefit of. A family from Evesham came, parents in their forties and a boy of about 17 who whipped out a pack of cards on arrival and started to play “patience”, a lonely child’s game. He saw my pocket chess set and asked for a game. “Is he any good?” asked his father. “No” I replied shortly. He would even make false moves. The mother was pleasant enough, but they were very English and I didn’t think De Roe was sorry they didn’t stay a second night. There was also a cyclist from Southport who had spent 4 years in the RAF – a man of about 35, who was broadly “left”.
October 4 Saturday: The cyclist stayed on, but went into Llanwrtyd for supplies, coming back with a half-bottle of whiskey, a share of which I declined. He would refuse to fight in another war, having left the RAF in disgust. He refuses to do overtime (as a storeman) and likes quick bucks. He had been unemployed. Then he had time. Now he says, “I’ve got all this money and no time to spend it.” But he put in two hours on De Roe’s “mushroom shed” to save having to pay for his accommodation!
October 5 Sunday: The Southport left – how vigorous and energetic people are in their mid-thirties! I notice the difference now. De Roe last year lent the YHA £1,000 “for a few days”. He still hasn’t had it and Mathews, the District Manager (as he is now called), says it is out of his hands. I told him not to accept this. The backwardness of the English was displayed twice. The Southport had no notion of socialism, and De Roe in reply to my remark that Africa was the blacks’ country challenged me with, “But who built it up?” They’re great ones for “building up” other peoples’ countries! Some friends of his who were Jehovah’s Witnesses and knew the man we met in June, brought some of their rubbish. De Roe argued with them, but I didn’t waste my time, much to his surprise. Then the ex-major whom we met in June came on a bicycle. He has not got married at all. He is a warder at some wildlife reserve and lives in Shrewsbury. He has been concerned in a conspiracy case where kite’s eggs have been stolen. He speaks in a la-di-da voice, having been to Marlborough, but was the son of a vicar in Coventry. It was cloudy and mild and there are midges about.
October 6 Monday: The ex-major departed. He told me he was 30 years in London. He is very much the “English eccentric” and left the army because he could “always see the other fellow’s point of view.” Why he went into it, Heaven knows.
October 7 Tuesday (Blaencaron): I went into Tragaron. It was overcast as usual, but mild. The market seems to be shrinking. There were fewer stalls and no Bretons. I bought Anatole France’s “Bergerac in Paris”. On the way to Blaencaron I noticed that over a mile of the boreen had been burned and slashed, presumably for widening. Was this for the eight cars? Nobody came.
October 8 Wednesday: I went for a short walk up the mountain and found the way to penetrate the new barbed wire the farmer has put up. An Englishman from Nuneaton arrived on foot. He struck me as a shade bluff and hearty and anxious to oblige – in his late forties.
October 9 Thursday: The Nuneaton surprised me by saying that until a week ago he had been a sales director but was now becoming a multi-denominational non-conformist Minister on a new housing estate where there was no church. He left for Dolgoch and nobody came.
October 10 Friday (Dolgoch): I left for Dolgoch. There was rain at Tregaron. I had lunch and it cleared. There was a “hippy” family in the café, a baby, a girl of five and a very lost-looking boy of about 9. The mother looked unwashed and harassed, the father’s knees were out of his jeans and he displayed a bare buttock without apparent embarrassment. Well, the lunch must have cost £10, and he could have bought presentable jeans for 50p. at the second-hand junk shop. So is it partly exhibitionism? He presumably came from the encampment at Llanbedr Pont Steffan [ie. Lampeter in English] The weather proved excellent when the rain cleared.
There was no water. The mill had run dry and the supplementary supply has been interfered with. The new farmer across whose land the water pipe runs had said, “You don’t pay ground rent,” but denied tampering with it. De Roe rang the landowner, who confirmed his permission. Mathews is coming from Cardiff tomorrow or Sunday. Nobody came.
October 11 Saturday: The rain yesterday seems to have replenished the well, so there was a dribble of water. The mushroom shed is now termed a “mountain hut” but to my mind there is a lot of nonsense in it.
October 12 Sunday: In the afternoon Mathews and a young man who is warden at Cardiff came. They dragged the pipe back upstream and rejoined the broken line where a union had come apart. I thought Mathews a pretty shrewd customer. He told De Roe he would be paid “shortly”, also that Llyn Brianne [a local mountain dam] was to be raised 100 ft., submerging the valley up to Dolgoch Bridge. I said I thought it was a scare designed to weaken De Roe’s position. But he was now talking about compensation, and the mountain hut was now a shepherd’s refuge!
October 13 Monday: News of the Reykjavik fiasco greatly perturbed De Roe who was ready to believe the bombs could fall at any moment [ie. the summit meeting between US President Reagan and USSR CP Secretary Gorbachev, which collapsed at the last minute]. Certainly his indignation was directed against Reagan. He was trying to get the water out all morning. Finally he discovered that the dam will only accommodate an additional 30 feet and there are no plans to change this position. I’d told him that.
October 14 Tuesday: There was a trace of rain early on, but on the whole I have had the best holiday weather since 1959. Most unusual!
October 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): I rose early. The mist cleared and I cycled to Llanwrtyd in brilliant sunshine, caught the train to Salop and reached 124 Mount Road at 5 pm. As I opened the door Stella Bond rang [Stella Bond, an Englishwoman, was a leading Connolly Association activist. She was married to Pat Bond, who managed the CA bookshop at this time]. She said Paul Gilhooley’s mother had died last Thursday and the funeral was tomorrow [Paul Gilhooley was the full-time Connolly Association organiser, only appointed the year before and very young, aged 22 or 23].
October 16 Thursday: I stayed at home but for a trip to the shops and read all the accumulated correspondence.
October 17 Friday: I went into town to make purchases. Barney Morgan called in the morning. There was nothing much to report.
October 18 Saturday (London): In the morning Michael Mortimer called and drove me to Manchester where I gave a talk to the Labour History Society, with Taplin in the chair[Eric Taplin, 1925-2012, Labour historian]. Wilf Charles was there at the beginning [Trade union activist and former CPGB organiser in Manchester]. A young man of about 28 called Michael Herbert has just joined the Connolly Association and was talking of reviving the branch [Michael Herbert, Manchester labour historian and a leading figure in the Irish in Britain Representation Group]. Then Michael Mortimer drove me back to Liverpool and I took the train to London and went out to stay with Paddy Bond. Jane Tate is in a convalescent home run by the National Health Local Government Group [Jane Tate, an Englishwoman in her sixties, was a longstanding Connolly Association member who helped regularly in the London CA office and acted as CA treasurer].
October 19 Sunday: According to Stella Bond when she tried to get from Paul Gilhooley whether he was going to fulfil engagements in Northampton and Nottingham, he said, “What do you know about it?” or suchlike and slammed down the telephone. He seems in a bit of a state. I went to the Camden CP school he had been instrumental in calling. One of his cronies from “Liberation” was to come in the afternoon. He did not turn up and they all adjourned to the pub in high spirits. Vic Heath was there. I doubt if Paul Gilhooley even notified the speakers. He has just let everything go, a complete collapse. In the afternoon he did not come to the Standing Committee on a weak excuse – he has failed to call it and Stella Bond had to. We took the decisions I recommended.
Later at Peter Mulligan’s [A CA member in Northampton] I mentioned a letter from a woman saying she was “scandalised” at our policy on divorce [Greaves and the “Irish Democrat” did not take a policy position either for or against divorce and related “moral” issues that were contentious in Ireland at this time. He believed that to do so would distract from the CA’s main policy objectives by dividing people and that these matters were best treated as matters of private conscience]. “In my opinion,” said Paddy Bond, “that letter is a forgery.” “What?” I asked, “By whom?” “By Paul Gilhooley,” he replied, “for I am sure I saw him typing it. It definitely did not come in through the post.” Of course he did this trick with Siobhan O’Neill’s letter. I said if I were sure that happened I would not wish to have him in the office. Then he himself rang and said he wants to see me tomorrow.
October 20 Monday (Liverpool): Stella Bond went into the office with me and at 10.30 Paul Gilhooley arrived. He looked pale and badly shaken up and I remarked on it. He said the past two weeks had been desperate. I had already surmised there were complications. He told me that he wished to resign. His father wanted to take the family back to Leitrim where he has a patch of land. But before that they are going away for a month. It is clear that Paul is completely disorientated. I accepted his resignation without discussion. Though it creates difficulties it leaves me a clean sheet. I have a suspicion however that he has fallen in with his father’s decision under stress of emotion. I will tell him he can have his job back if he gets the request in before we appoint another person. We could then of course exact conditions.
Later I had a talk with Noel Harris. He has a young fellow who acts as hall porter and general factotum with no responsibilities at all. ACTT pay him £10,000 a year. How can we compete with this? We pay Paul £6,000! Later I came to Liverpool. Joe Deighan has sent me no copy. Gerry Curran says his is posted. I am calling another meeting for next Sunday. We traced the convalescent home where Jane Tate is staying. She will not be much use till after Xmas, if then. And showing what it has come to, Paddy Bond is swallowing tablets morning and night, drinking hot lemonade (ugh!) for supper, and Stella is going to “keep fit” classes. But she is getting more interested in the Irish and is going to Gaelic classes. They are all fiercely against St John Street [ie. the CPGB head office, now under the control of the “euro-communist” element] and Vic Heath told me frankly he thought they had evil intentions. They are disbanding mercilessly and I understand have tackled Bootle [ie. CPGB Head Office was disbanding dissident CP branches whose members were linked to the “Morning Star” and other factions critical of the official “revisionist” policy line]. Pat Bond is wondering whether to re-register. Noel Harris is a member no more. But he tells me Ken Gill has the ear of Joe Bowers [Joe Bowers, Northern Ireland trade unionist and CPI member].
Noel Harris told me there was a concerted effort from the ultra-left and extreme right to oust Alan Sapper [General Secretary of the Cinematograph Union, ACTT, for which Noel Harris also worked].They have formed “black” groups and “gay and lesbian” groups, all strongly sectarian. One deplores the debasement of a good English word with this popular usage. But I suppose one could not say “Platonic”. The ultra-feminists want a woman instead of Sapper. They went the length of paying Peg Race £3,000 for an “in depth” report on the state of the union.
People tell me that Miriam James is in hospital quite seriously ill. I am surprised, but not on reflection. Paddy Bond says she is in her late sixties and continuing to work after retirement age. When I looked at a photograph I could see she was not really well. So this generation is on its way out. What follows?
October 21 Tuesday: I got off two pages of the paper – Gerry Curran’s and Paddy Bond’s. I think I probably have enough for an issue. I had another look at this letter Paddy Bond thinks is a forgery and there is little doubt that the signature is bogus. Obviously Paul Gilhooley was afraid to betray himself if he wrote anything legible. Now possibly the supposed writer does exist and gave him carte blanche to write a letter on his behalf. But this I will try to find out.
October 22 Wednesday: I got off two more pages. But Joe Deighan sent nothing but apologies, and apologies do not fill pages. According to Paddy Bond, Paul Gilhooley blew in and out today. The Liverpool branch meeting was tonight. Barney Morgan had gone to Crete, but Joe O’Grady, Michael Mortimer, Pat Doherty and two others were there, and Roy Frodsham who said to me, “Have you had a letter announcing your expulsion?” I had not, and he was away before I could get details. Pat Doherty was telling me about ructions between the appointed Lancs. District Committee and the Bootle branch. It seems this young fellow Munby threatened Stratton with expulsion and he said he had enough to occupy him without the CPGB. As a matter of fact the most recent developments have led me to think seriously for the first time of severing my connections with it after over 52 years. They have expelled Ron Bellamy now, and I hear from Stella Bond that she and Paddy are thinking over the same thing. The hijackers may find the vehicle surprisingly empty in the New Year.
October 23 Thursday: I got some more of the paper done but am very short of copy and badly behind. Stella Bond told me Paul Gilhooley did not show up at all. This is making me wonder if there is something we have not heard. Gerry Curran telephoned. I heard on the BBC that the Irish in Britain Representation Group, the Labour Committee on Ireland and one other organisation have Sinn Fein delegations travelling the country, meeting Labour and Community activists. Now the interesting thing is that Jim King refused my suggestion for an all-Irish meeting because he said the Labour Committee on Ireland was not an Irish organisation. I suspect it of Trotsky backing and think the IBRG [ie. the Irish in Britain Representation Group] has elements of a Sinn Fein front. They do not want the type of all-in Irish co-operation we had in the early seventies. Control not cooperation is their principle, and I often wonder how much secret CIA influence is behind the lot of them, did we but know it. All that glitters is certainly not gold.
One interesting result of the collapse of the CP is that Stella Bond has attended a Standing Committee, is coming to another and is going to Irish classes. It’s an ill wind! Michael Mortimer’s friend and former tutor Alan Morton 2 [so numbered to avoid confusion with Greaves’s old friend Professor Alan G. Morton, the botanist, in Edinburgh] is anxious to take a party of students to Dublin and they have asked the CA to advise on how to do it.
Late in the afternoon Stella Bond rang. She said the “Morning Star” wanted us to advertise a meeting which Jimmy Stewart is speaking at for them – thus making clear the breach between the CPGB and CPI. But added to that Gerry Pocock rang up for particulars of our meeting on November 1st [Pocock was a leading CPGB figure on the “revisionist” wing of the party which led it to liquidate itself in 1991. He was enquiring re a planned Connolly Association event on the Irish question in the Trade Union Movement]. I presume their Political Committee still meets on Thursday morning. Noel Harris promised to raise the subject at a Left caucus meeting on Tuesday. My guess is there is a CPGB spy there who reported it, and the matter was referred to Pocock, who is Jack Woddis’s successor [ie. as in charge of CPGB international affairs], and if I didn’t think much of the one I think less of the other. So we will see if anybody comes.
October 24 Friday: I got off one more page of the paper, but it is heavy going. I felt a wee bit off colour too, which is unusual, but there it was. I went into Birkenhead to buy papers, but there was nothing in them. I spoke to Paddy Bond and he was giving out about Paul Gilhooley coming in. Later Paul came in and telephoned. I will see him on Monday. I am preparing to spend six months on an effort to re-invigorate the CA. But I can see what a political desert London has become. Pat Bond runs the bookshop, posts off the photostat copies, sells papers, does more work than anybody, but it is all totally unpolitical and sterile. He has not produced one solitary active disciple – if we exclude Noel Gordon who was not a powerful success – in years. Everything revolves round himself. Nobody else is allowed initiative and I wonder how far he has contributed to Paul Gilhooley, whom he describes as a “young pup”. There is nobody in London I could put on a political job. but I will try to bring back Charlie Cunningham and perhaps Chris Maguire.
October 25 Saturday: It blew a gale and there was a very ugly sky with immense chunks of fracto-stratus scurrying across it. I spoke to John Boyd, who said that Pat Bond, Gerry Curran, Michael Keane and a few more were in the shop. So that is a point of gathering society. I might start going to London on Saturdays. I think the improvement may possibly be due to Stella Bond. She is losing interest in the CPGB and I think its membership will be reduced even further. But they have, I’m told, only half spent the money they got for King Street [ie. the former CPGG offices in Convent Garden]. Later I had a word with Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady. Michael Crowe rang [He was a longstanding CA member, a lecturer in French in Sunderland]. His house in Pelton Fell [in Chester-le Street, Co. Durham] was wrecked by vandals while he was in France and he is moving to a flat in Washington.
October 26 Sunday (London): I caught the 9.20 to Euston, despite the bus chaos. But it arrived 40 minutes early, and the 9.55 I decided would cut it fine, was a full hour early. I had lunch, then went to the Standing Committee. Young Corcoran, not a member of it and who had not been invited, turned up, I imagine he’s Paul Gilhooley’s tout. No doubt since I had said it was not necessary for him to be there, Paul was anxious to avail of the leave, but also to know what was said. He has advertised the November 1st social as his retirement party! He has also been applying for jobs and leaving carbons around – admittedly not till after his resignation. But it gives the lie to the going back to Ireland tale. Later I had a drink with Sean Burke. He is for the time being a full-time student, though aged 42. He knows Gilhooley’s family and likes Paul least. He gets £120 a week from us and paid his mother only £10, which is of course beggarly. It may be her death has led to his sister taking over, and Sean Burke had told her the amount of Paul’s pay. At the same time he has done something.
October 27 Monday (Liverpool): I went to the office with Stella Bond. Paul was to have arrived at 10.30 but appeared at 11.45. I got a rough picture of things. He said no more about the return to Arigna [in Co. Roscommon]. Now he was saying that it would take years before the Connolly Association could raise enough funds to pay an organiser every week, and he did not want to drain our reserves. But I am wondering whether the real reason for his departure is my decision to take charge of the prisoners’ campaign, which would entail supervision by myself, as I am the only one he is afraid of. Gerry Curran said yesterday, he thinks of a job as a place where he does what he likes and a rude awakening is in the offing. I came back to Liverpool.
October 28 Tuesday: I went to Ripley[For his regular monthly visit there to vet the proofs of the “Irish Democrat”]. There is chaos in bus transport because of the Government’s mad scheme to end subsidies, destroy trade unions, and reduce wages and employment at one fell swoop. I took a taxi from Derby but got a timetable later. It is not much worse in Derbyshire, but very much worse in Liverpool. I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at Lime Street and we made some plans for the future.
October 29 Wednesday: I did little – a few letters and a trip into town to buy food and stamps. Gerry Curran rang up.
October 30 Thursday: I cut several reasonable marrows and got some broad beans. The mild October has helped. But not one tomato did I get this year. And the coriander seeds are green. I had written to the London people who are pressing the Birmingham Six issue telling them we were going to take it up, and suggesting they called in to see Pat Bond. They did yesterday, a man called May and (of all people) Sean Mulready’s son, a young man of about 30. A letter came from Michael Herbert saying he had booked a room for a foundation meeting in Manchester but does not want to be secretary. Stella Bond told me that Jane Tate is at home but is going shortly to stay with her brother in Kent.
October 31 Friday: There was no mail today. I rang Ripley who had promised a proof of the petition. It was ready but had not been posted. A nuisance. I spoke to Joe Deighan who said the ICTU Northern Ireland Committee’s “anti-sectarian” campaign would do no harm, but not get very far. I agree. I had a talk with Michael Mortimer who is, I think, getting more interested. Joe O’Grady rang to say that Barney Morgan arrived home from Crete in an ambulance. He had a motor accident. That’ll “larn” him to gallivant round foreign parts!
November 1 Saturday (London): I went to London on the 9.56 train and went into the office where Charlie Cunningham was looking after the bookshop. The meeting on the Irish question and the Trade Unions was not well but not badly attended, with Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Gerry Curran, Donal Kennedy, George Davies, Paul Gilhooley and others, including one from Glasgow and one from Southampton. It was late starting and a boy and a girl left, and my bold Gilhooley went for a drink. Pat Bond exhibited his babyish tantrums over this. The poor man can’t control himself. I told him if he didn’t calm down he’d have another stroke. (I don’t know if it would give him one.) “I know,” he said, “I know.” And this was putting on the martyr act: “I’m dead and it’s all your fault.”
Then in the evening there was a social in Somerstown. Paul Gilhooley made it his farewell gathering and they wanted me to say a few words, which I did. Charlie Cunningham was there, also John Boyd, Pat Bond and some of the building lads. Paul has taken a job in the building trade. He seems to have been pleased with what I said and came over and shook hands with me. His hand is cool, limp and clammy. He will never achieve anything. Then there was more trouble with Pat Bond. He is not only childish but devious in a pettifogging way. At the Standing Committee he said that Michael Mortimer “didn’t want” a spare duplicator we have in London. Michael told me he had been told by Paddy Bond that it wouldn’t work, but if it would work he wanted it. Now I find it will work. But he doesn’t want me to have it. He wants me to be dependent on him for duplicating work, all to boost his twopenny ego.
November 2 Sunday (Liverpool): I called in to Jane Tate. I think Paddy Bond has given her an account of things that is unfair to Paul Gilhooley. I told her that with leadership he might have made good. She told me he was rude to Pat Bond and also to herself. I have never had any trouble. But then I can’t be hurt. They can. So they bring themselves down to his level and lose their authority. For God’s sake what young fellow would accept leadership from Pat Bond, whose constant preoccupation is to sit at the centre of things and sun himself in his indispensability when he is not throwing kid tantrums? I found in a pigeonhole a letter from myself to a man in Glasgow who had written to me. It struck me that I must have forgotten to post it. Then Pat Bond told me it had been sent back with a reply and an enclosure. He had opened the letter, stuffed the original in a pigeonhole and thrown away the envelope and contents. He does this with everybody, and I’m going to bring it up at the E.C. and get a ruling. Jane Tate says the whole thing is utter lack of imagination and I dare say it is. Stella is a pleasanter person but also lacks this quality. She rang Jane’s brother to get her address at the convalescent home. When she got in touch Jane asked if there was anything important; there was not. But Paddy took away the list of names and addresses of yesterday’s delegates and I only found out by accident where they had gone. Jane complains that he takes everything home, and all the records are in his house. She has the greatest difficulty getting the simplest information and laughs at his excuses for hogging it. She thinks he is much worse since he had his stroke. I think that is right. But I blame him for the failure to make anything much of Noel Gordon and Paul Gilhooley. Instead of putting them on the right track, even at the risk of a row, he is constantly moaning about Paul Gilhooley’s incompetence, but with the object of showing how much better he is himself. Bob Doyle used to be the same. He did an immense amount of work, but he allowed nobody else in on it and in effect held the organisation to ransom. I returned to Liverpool. Opposite sat a female student changing at Crewe for Manchester. She was studying psychology for a BSc. I asked her what work she would get. She hasn’t the faintest notion but thought a BSc would be a “qualification”. A qualification for nothing!
On Saturday night I met Bill Keable, Ken’s father. He is 83. I mentioned Douglas Hyde[CPGB defector, author of the book “I Believed”]. He was the Keable from which the “Keable press” was derived. He is appalled by the present state of the CP under McLennan and his wreckers [Gordon McLennan was CPGB General Secretary]. He told me that Hyde’s book was as interesting for its omissions as for its inventions of fact. He had been in Cable Street in 1936. Paul Gilhooley is working on the building trade. “There you are,” said Jane Tate, “He’s a romantic. He’s ‘with the boys’.” Bill Keable told me that he had tackled the “Morning Star” for accepting advertisements from Douglas Hyde, who very probably thinks there is a role for him in Martin Jacques’s circus [Martin Jacques was editor of “Marxism Today”, principal organ of the CPGB “Eurocommunist” revisionist tendency].
November 3 Monday: I didn’t get much done today. I bought some food and stationery. Michael Herbert rang from Manchester saying he would like to change the date of our meeting, but when I explained I was likely to go away before Xmas he agreed to keep it the same and make contact with Michael Mortimer. The radio said that Sinn Fein had decided to enter the Dáil and there was a small break-away. It made me think of Sean Murray’s story. Apparently after Napoleon had had himself crowned Emperor, when the show was over he asked one of his generals, “Well, what do you think of it?” “Sure,” was the reply, “a solemn mummery! It is a pity that all the men we killed to put a stop to this couldn’t be present today to see it.” Simultaneously the Irish Labour Party is supposed to be committing the ultimate treachery of cancelling its conference so as to facilitate FitzGerald’s ultimate treachery of signing the Single European Act before he is kicked out [The Irish Government sought at the time to ratify the European Community’s Single European Act treaty by majority vote in the Oireachtas. There was considerable opposition to the SEA in the Labour Party and a good chance that the Labour Annual Conference would reject it, which would have been acutely embarrassing to the Fine Gael-Labour Government of Garret FitzGerald and Dick Spring. The Labour leadership used the excuse of a trade dispute by cleaners in the Cork City Hall, where the Labour annual conference was due to be held, to cancel the event altogether, and the Labour TDs then duly voted to ratify the SEA in the Dáil. The constitutional challenge by economist Raymond Crotty to this mode of seeking to ratify the SEA occurred the following month. See entries below for late December].
November 4 Tuesday: I got off a few letters in the morning, then went into the city to buy stationery. Coming out of Birkenhead Central Station I was confronted with one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. Talk about a “Cheshire sky”! There had been a alto-cumulus in the afternoon. My guess would be that this had sunk and converted into cumulo-stratus, which was nevertheless still higher than usual so that the brilliant scarlet/crimson reached almost to the zenith.
November 5 Wednesday: I got quite a lot done today and sent off twelve personal letters to Ernie Trory [author and leading figure in the New Communist Party], John Hoffman [University of Leicester academic and Marxist philosopher], Peter Beresford Ellis [writer and historian whom Greaves got to contribute a monthly column in the “Irish Democrat”], Michael O’ Riordan, Tony Coughlan, Ciaran Corcoran, Pat Bond, Donall MacAuley, Gerry Curran, Chris Mullin MP, Michael Herbert and Paul Gilhooley.
November 6 Thursday (London): I wrote to George Davies, Charlie Cunningham, Mark Clinton, Jimmy McGill, Wilf Charles, Chris Maguire, Michael Mortimer, Kevin Nelson and Frank Rushe. A letter had come from Michael Herbert saying he had booked a room in Manchester for December 4th. I went to London after that and saw Pat Bond and Stella. We got out invitations to the London meeting. Pat Bond had already done the envelopes. But though this was welcome “interference”, he got in touch with Margaret Byrne saying I was coming to Glasgow so that last night she rang me up for a date. I had wanted to agree a date with the NALGO man who came on Sunday, for it was to see him I was going to Glasgow. But Paddy must have his hand in anything that suits him. I think it quite possible that his proximity had a bad effect on both Paul Gilhooley and Noel Gordon. By the way, he told me that Noel appeared at the door of the office with the last instalment of what he owed him – £50. I wonder if he took him for a drink. I doubt it.
November 7 Friday: I wrote to Waterford Trades Council, Joe Deighan, Mrs Sheridan in Nottingham, who was let down by Paul Gilhooley, and to Alan O’Dwyer in Birmingham. He had written saying his PTA welfare association had learned that Viscount Colville had decided to accept no evidence on the subject of the Prevention of Terrorism Act after November 28th. I rang Tom Walsh who said he didn’t know but that there was an unopened letter from Birmingham on the desk. I guessed it was this information. He will meet his officers at the House of Commons on Monday at a lobby arranged by Clive Soley. A letter came from Kneafsey in Blackburn about an Irish week there in March. He likes the idea of a North-West regional conference which I recently mooted. If there was a trace of political ability in London the CA could have been leading a substantial movement. Anyway, I decided to spend six months on seeing what I could clobber together. All the skill is with the more “moderate” people of the FIS [ie. the Federation of Irish Societies] – of which Tom Walsh is the best, though in my opinion very much under the sway of the Embassy. I wonder what is the cause of the incompetence, or at least the ham-fistedness, of the “Left”. Desire for too quick results?
November 8 Saturday: In the morning Margaret Byrne rang up saying the Glasgow meeting is arranged. But of course there is a snag here. She wants to meet me at the train and take general charge and I’ll never see anybody else. This is the result of Pat Bond’s meddling. I think the trouble with him is a total lack of imagination. He is well-meaning but impossible. Later Bill Parker [a former colleague of Greaves’s from his days as a research chemist in British industry] rang to suggest a lunch in London. He is of course retired now. Then Pat Bond came on the line. When we decided to take up the Guilford and Birmingham cases, I was aware of a committee dealing with this and wrote telling them of our interest and suggested they call in to see Pat Bond. I was not anxious to do more than acknowledge their existence and have friendly relations. They told Pat Bond of the date of their meeting. His reaction was that he wanted to [words accidentally omitted here’ probably “take part” is intended]. Now they have sent an invitation addressed to Donal Kennedy, who is a bit of a prima donna, and I understand Pat Bond has telephoned him – typical baby politics; he should merely have sent it on. He can’t keep his fingers out of any pie. He still wants to go. These silly people can’t understand there is something in not knowing what people are doing. So I told him if he went, not to be the martyr who has no time to do anything else. Of course I didn’t want to be committed to anything. Then he said a member in Nottingham had asked for a statement on our attitude to the Provisional IRA. That would afford magnificent opportunities for hostages to fortune. In the end he decided to send the letter on to me. “I’m not trying to get off the hook,” he said. “Well, you should be,” said I.
Reading through the week’s Irish papers I saw that millions are being poured into an “Irish World Heritage Centre” in Manchester. Peter Barry [Irish Foreign Minister] and the police chief Stalker were there at the opening [John Stalker, Manchester police chief who conducted an enquiry into aspects of RUC policing in Northern Ireland]. They intend to use it to boost the Anglo-Irish Agreement which the Federation of Irish Societies supports. So I concluded I had been hoist by my own petard. At Manchester when young Jim King plunged into the Irish in Britain Representation Group I was anxious to head him in an innocuous direction – I forget what I was afraid he might do – and suggested starting an Irish centre on Manchester. Recently Michael Herbert told me that King is no longer running it, as he has been ousted by the extreme right in the Federation of Irish Societies. So I wish I had shut my mouth!
November 9 Sunday: The mild, wet, stormy weather continues. I did not go out. I rang Peter Mulligan at midday and asked him to do a logogram for Connolly Association letterheads. I telephoned Alan Morton in the evening to arrange to go to Edinburgh [ie. his friend from student days, Prof. Alan G. Morton]. He told me that Alisoun had been very unwell with, he thinks, an infection of the inner ear that gives her headaches and affects her balance. Freda Morton has been to Sussex to see her family and he himself is very well.
I was listening to Radio Eireann yesterday when I heard a familiar voice. It was Tony Coughlan giving out about the Single European Act [This was probably in connection with the Irish Labour Party conference which had been opportunistically postponed by the party leadership to avoid an adverse conference vote on the Single European Act]. Last week Charlie Cunningham had said, “If Tony Coughlan brings down the government he’ll deserve to be run for president.” Apparently Spring [Irish Labour Party leader] was there too and Tony was telling the most outrageous lies about what a democrat he was in order to put him on the spot. I rang Tony and we had a chuckle about this. He is anxious to get it around here that a political crisis may be blowing up in Ireland, so I said I would so what I could. I cannot think of any journalist who would take it up in England. I thought of the “Morning Star”. But I want nothing to do with Chater, still less with that upstart Trask. Finally I decided to send a tip to Blevins. I also wrote to “Erna” Bennett in Rome.
November 10 Monday: I got off ten letters in the morning, then went into the city where John Gibson pointed to an advert for a bookshop manager in the “Morning Star” – applications not to the organiser but to O’Hara. He thought there was some significance in this. It obviously means that Cope is going – and no great loss. Later I spoke to Stella Bond, Michael Mortimer, Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan and finally Joe Deighan, who agreed with me that the splash in today’s “Morning Star” didn’t amount to much. Barney Morgan is back home looking after himself. He has been with Alf Ward, who is now in Oxton. He was injured in the face and knee, is still on crutches but had the stitches out and will soon be going for physiotherapy to remove the stiffness. He is still on top of the world though!
November 11 Tuesday: A letter from Michael Herbert told me there was much cynical comment on the Left in Manchester at the grandiose transformation of the Irish Centre into a World Heritage centre intended to be the capital of Irish exiles everywhere. Where is the money coming from, they ask, and I ask, “What is the game?” Peter O’Connor also wrote [Former International Brigader in Spain and a friend of Greaves’s in Waterford]. I had asked him for his opinion of Pat MacLoughlin’s story about Charlie Donnelly’s death and how he tackled the man who shot him. Peter says it is almost certainly nonsense, as he does not recall Pat MacLaughlin being there, and moreover, he himself examined Donnelly’s body very carefully. There was a deep wound in the side and another in the arm. There can be little doubt Pat MacLaughin was remembering something. Could it have been somebody else? Peter makes the point that if somebody wanted to bump Donnelly off, he would have shot him in the head [International Brigader Pat MacLaughlin had a story that poet Charlie Donnelly had been shot in Spain by someone on his own side]. I seem to have spent most of the day reading newspapers.
November 12 Wednesday: I did little enough in the day, but at 5.30 met Joe O’Grady at Lime Street. Michael Mortimer, who should have been there, arrived just before 6 pm., breathless with rushing, without the documents he was to have brought and with no money. Apparently he had not been paid for some job he was doing, and it was too far for the bank and he could not get home. He had sat in El Andino where they gave him drink but no cash. So where are you? He keeps up this youthful lifestyle too long, for he is getting on for 40. Anyway all was well, as I had a few bob. And who did we see sitting there but Keva Coombes who joined us [Wirral solicitor, chairman of Liverpool City Council in1987; failed to secure the parliamentary nomination that year]. He is going up for some constituency in North-East Lancs. and is bound to get in as the Tory majority is only 23. He says Labour has dropped the principle of withdrawing from the EEC. This depresses him. Obviously he wants to get on. He is only about 40 years of age. He would like to get on and retain his vision and principles. But since there are no principles left, he will presumably get on without them. In such manner are opportunists made. He thinks Ken Roche is stupid. He comes from Tredegar, where apparently Coombes’s family comes from – his mother’s I presume. I reminded him of the total corruption of the Rhondda Labour party in the thirties. “You’ve got it in Liverpool now,” he said. He did not think the Kinnocks were part of it. And his wife is from Belmullet.
November 13 Thursday (London/Liverpool): A blow fell this morning. Tony Coughlan promised me an article on the Single European Act. Apparently he spent the day preparing a long statement for people abroad, which he enclosed. Unfortunately I cannot create Time. There is nothing from Pat Bond, nothing from Gerry Curran, and so far nothing from Dónal Mac Amhlaigh. But apparently I can fill all these spaces by magic.
I went to London on the 11.25. Stella Bond was in the shop. She is a very solid constructive influence. The meeting of London members was at 8 pm. Paul Gilhooley took the door. I doubt if he will ever get back to Ireland. Meanwhile he is earning £200 a week as a builder’s labourer and says, “I’ve got to work now”, which can be taken as a confession. Charlie Cunningham was there, but no Pat O’Donohue. His wife has just had another baby and the accounts are two months late and the auditor screaming for them. One or two promising young people were there. One of them wanted a speaker in South-East London and I said rather as a joke, “Mr Bond lives down there.” After all it is his branch! But Pat Bond, who was sitting at the back, started to heckle giving out an emotional declaration that he was a sick man, under doctor’s orders and wasn’t going round “speaking all over the place”. I wonder is he going off his head. Only two days ago he was resisting any efforts to keep him away from the “Guildford Four” meeting and saying how important it was to know what they were doing. I replied of course that we’d know if and when they did now. So he’d go to their meetings but not to our own. Could there be a touch of schizophrenia? There is this constant discontent, the atmosphere that everybody but himself is lazy, good for nothing and so on. In a way I don’t blame him for thinking it, but I wish he’d keep it to himself. He creates a shocking impression. Charlie Cunningham said, “He’s under strain. People like that have no sense of humour.” Later I had a talk with Chris Maguire and put out the idea that he should form the O’Brien Society with the Connolly Association and make of it a “Bronterre O’Brien branch” of the CA. He was quite favourably inclined. If I can get Paul Gilhooley lined up here I will hold Hackney. Pat Bond evinced no interest in this nor did he acknowledge the second-hand books I brought down for him. The first time I ever met him was at 30 TCD [probably in 1947] and then he went off to the Shelbourne in a huff because Paul O’Higgins didn’t make enough fuss of him. John Boyd was there, and Gerry Curran, but nobody from Brent.
I think Pat Bond’s imagination is blocked by his egotism. He asked whether I thought the petitions we were taking up should be posted to members from the office. Now he would love to do this, for then he could play the martyr. But that is not my conception. I want these branches to find their own feet, seeking ways of doing this work. He would have everything centred on himself. He was all right later on – possibly a trifle remorseful. But what a state to be in. If a man is not at ease with himself, in Heaven’s name how will he be at ease with others? Roger Kelly was there, back from the USA where he stayed a few days with Joe Jamison. He said the East Coast especially is a mad house.
November 14 Friday: I came back to Liverpool. Peter Mulligan’s copy was here, but nothing from Gerry Curran or John Boyd. I wonder how Pat Bond would get on if he had a paper to get out on a date and never know when the copy would arrive. He was snapping at his wife this morning. She wanted to move a tea-pot. “Leave me be, Stella, leave me be.” As if it mattered. A pity she didn’t pour it all over him. Then again the “New Worker” arrived, addressed to Paul Gilhooley. He put it straight into the wastepaper basket. Somebody else’s correspondence. Moreover, you’d have to laugh at the savage way he threw it away. He is losing his balance insofar as he ever had any. But if it’s this, then it will be best to humour him. I think that is how Stella handles him.
November 15 Saturday: The mild weather continues but I did not go out. I got up late. All I did was to look through the correspondence and see what had to be done.
November 16 Sunday: I worked all day on the paper. Tony Coughlan has sent nothing but clippings I haven’t time to write up. John Boyd has sent nothing. Gerry Curran’s book-page is not here, nor likely to be till Tuesday, and Jack Bennett’s third instalment of the long article he himself suggested is still awaited in London. And this after all my warning everybody that I was going to Glasgow and then Ireland. What a bunch! At midday Stella Bond rang. Did I want the petitions posted to members? I did not. Why not? I wanted the branches to use their initiative. Then there’ll be nothing done. Very well, when we are convinced of that we will act further. I do not want the office overburdened. Of course this brilliantly illuminates the Bond fallacy. I choose something that is likely to give ordinary people commitment. This I hope will be a basis on which they can take initiative. Stella – no doubt on Pat Bond’s suggestion – wants to do the thing bureaucratically and take their initiative away, at the same time bemoaning the jeopardy of his health! Later I rang Gerry Curran.
November 17 Monday: An unsatisfactory day. The failure of Tony Coughlan to turn in his copy has turned everything upside down [Anthony Coughlan was at this time preoccupied with the preparations of Raymond Crotty’s constitutional court challenge to the Single European Act]. Gerry Curran rang to say Jack Bennett has sent nothing yet, and the book page will not arrive till Tuesday. It is impossible to understand the bland complacency with which they all assume that only they are going to let you down. I did one page, but since I don’t know what is coming I can’t prepare fillers. I went into Birkenhead and posted 37 letters done yesterday and today. In the evening Barney Morgan rang. He is still hobbling about, can’t drive and can’t accommodate Chris Mullin [ie. the Labour MP who was to speak on the Birmingham Six and Guildford prisoners who had been wrongfully convicted]. Whether he’ll need to is in question! Although I asked him to reply to 124 Mount Road, he sent a letter to Grays Inn Road saying he did not know from where he was coming to Liverpool. Would I send a telephone number? I wrote to Sunderland, then rang up to make sure. At the seventh call I got his secretary. She said he was away. Try his London address. He was not there. Where was he? Nobody knew. I knew from a circular I had received from a Mary Pearson that he would be in Birmingham tomorrow. So I rang her and she promised to give him a message. So Barney Morgan and I agreed to hope for the best.
November 18 Tuesday: In the morning Jane Tate rang up. It seems that that megalomaniac lunatic Pat Bond, having heard that she was going to get a duplicator repaired and brought to Liverpool, took it upon himself to throw it out. She asked why. “I wanted the space.” I think the real reason is that he wants everything to depend on him. Then he finds he can’t manage things and plays the martyr with moans and groans and tantrums.
November 19 Wednesday: In the evening Barney Morgan rang to say that Mullin had contacted him. He will arrive at 7.45 and leave immediately, Heaven knows where for.
Anyway the meeting was a powerful success. Michel Mortimer brought a “public address” system that didn’t work. But the room was small. I suppose about 60 people turned up. I had a favourable impression of Chris Mullin. Kevin Coombes, who doesn’t like him, did not come. Alan Morton 2 wants to take a party to Dublin and I undertook to see Tony Coughlan about it.
November 20 Thursday (Edinburgh): A letter from Pat Bond arrived. He wants to send a copy of the petition to every member. Then when he gets no replies he will be able to be a martyr again. I sent him a gloriously hypocritical letter telling him to be careful not to damage his health by doing too much. I am sure, looking back, that the collapse of Noel Gordon and the failure of Paul Gilhooly, are to an appreciable measure due to his constant interference and the vile atmosphere he creates among those who do not unquestioningly accept his ego. I want that shop kept going, so I can’t say too much. But it is a myth that anybody is indispensable.
I took the midday train to Edinburgh, arriving about 5 pm. and jumped into a taxi to Dryden Place. Alan Morton and Freda are not unwell, but Alisoun is not well at all and they suspect from infection of the inner ear, for her sense of balance is affected. She has always suffered from uncertain health and does not appear to have grown out of it. John Morton has still no job and he is over 40 and with three children. Freda has dropped out of the Communist Party in disgust. Alan holds on and no measures are taken against him because he does nothing and threatens nobody’s position.
November 21 Friday (Glasgow): Alan Morton and I went down to the James Connolly exhibition by Waverley Station and it was quite good – though there were some curious inaccuracies, for example that Connolly and Lillie Reynolds were “arrested” in Perth in 1890. Nobody had spotted it! The video was interesting to me as it brought back to life people I knew well like William McMullen, Nora Connolly and Ina, Roddy and others [The latter three were some of James Connolly’s children]. As Alan Morton said, the Connolly Association could have been to the fore in this venture but it has been left to the initiative of Owen Dudley Edwards.
Then I went to Glasgow. I had lost Macintosh’s telephone number, but tracked down NALGO, and from there went to his office but he was out. I had also lost Margaret Byrne’s number – left on the table in Liverpool, and all that villain Tony Coughlan’s fault for failing to send his copy and throwing me late at the very time I couldn’t afford to lose a minute. I bethought me of Clyde Books and went there. They hadn’t the information I wanted but allowed me to ring London. Pat Bond and Stella were in Leeds! Paddy Byrne tried ringing round; then I told him where the card index was where he found it. So she came into town and met me at 5 pm. She has several new members, and one of them called Friel met us at 6 pm. The meeting in the City Hall was at 7.30. A friend of McIntosh who was also president of the Glasgow Trades Council took the chair, and later joined, as did another couple. And several said they would join. We couldn’t stay and talk as we had the chance of a lift back to Pollockshaws. There we had a long talk. The man in the bookshop, like Findlay Hart and Bill Cowe, is pro-E.C.[ie. supportive of the official CPGB Executive line on the party divisions]. But the older ones are not bitter. That is for the youth. So the man in the bookshop is helpful and friendly and would take more of our stuff. They say a number of Scottish branches are just bundles of papers in the Head Office, who sent delegates on their behalf. They have little time for Gordon McLennan whom they regard as conceited. As for “Seven Days”[official CPGB publication, established in lieu of the “Morning Star” daily], Margaret Byrne says she’d as soon read the “Beano”. She is shrewd enough too. She says the deficiency is a decent leader. That’s true, and we probably have to thank the prosperity between 1940 and 1970 for that – it is like 1848-1888. All that could be produced was a few sectaries. They were disgusted with Mick McGahey, who had lent himself to the cabal, and said that Bolton was a disgrace to the Labour Movement, a conceited bully.
November 22 Saturday (Liverpool): I took a taxi into the station and caught the 11.10 to Liverpool, coming into town via Ormskirk, which I think on the balance better than Wigan. One advantage is that it comes into Central Station, so I went straight to Birkenhead Central and caught a bus. The ASTMS thing next Sunday week is cancelled and I have heard nothing about Galway. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were cancelled, in which case the Connolly Association would have to find my fare to Dublin or, if still on, a flop, for the young fellow’s wife is having a baby, and this may well drive every other consideration out of his head.
November 23 Sunday: A student from Manchester rang me up for help with a thesis on the Irish in Manchester. You can’t refuse them. One of them just might be some use. But really thesis-writing under a Professor is sheer brain- washing. Later Stella Bond rang. She expressed approval of my letter telling Pat Bond not to do too much. She would not notice the hypocrisy because this would be in her interest. She also said that Jane Tate of all things had decided to go to Salisbury. While there she had fallen over a shopping trolley and ended up in Salisbury hospital with a broken wrist. Why is she so “accident prone”? Perhaps her eyes are not too good. I know she suffers from cataract. So she can’t write or do anything else. And Barney Morgan is hobbling about on crutches. I finished the last bit of the paper and will take it tomorrow.
I am supposed to be speaking in Galway on Wednesday. But I have received no particulars. I rang Tony Coughlan. He says the meeting is still on. So I go over on Tuesday.
November 24 Monday: I had trouble morning and night with nose-bleeding, but went to Ripley. On the whole the transport was fair. I caught a connection at Crewe going out because the Liverpool train was early and the Derby late, and the exact reverse occurred on the way back. And the buses were luckily placed. On the whole all went reasonably well.
November 25 Tuesday (Dublin): I heard on the morning radio that there was a strike at Caergybi [ie. Holyhead] and spent some time ascertaining that the B+I sailing was proceeding. I then telephoned Tony Coughlan who came back to me and said he was to be at a meeting in Liberty Hall but that Muriel Saidlear [ie. Anthony Coughlan’s wife] would meet me. This duly happened and who should be with her but Eddie Cowman. We went down to the bar next to Liberty Hall and in due course Michael O’Riordan came out. He agreed to speak at the meeting on January 21st and is also prepared to come to Liverpool. Roy Johnston was there but did little more than pass the time of day – something I was relieved at, for he has a habit of buttonholing when you want a bit of peace and pouring out his latest enthusiasm.
Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam] drove me up to Tony Coughlan’s and said Tony is exhibiting signs of strain. He has a more vigorous constitution than Pat Bond and has not ruined it by smoking or driving around in motor cars, but Cathal criticises his “single-mindedness” and says he is in difficulty at TCD, not with the authorities, but with members of his department who think he is not extracting sufficient funds for them. And, says Cathal, he was recently very rude to Micheál Ó Loingsigh.
I asked Tony about Eddie Cowman. Apparently he is still fooling about with this aim of a sociology degree [In fact it was a degree in economics and social policy]. Alisoun Morton is just the same. When I advised Alisoun to make herself an expert on (say) Gaelic plant names, Alan dismissed the idea. She had already approached the University for funds for such research and been turned down. Now I would have offered a column to some of the Left or nationalist newspapers, and gradually built up a connection leading to a book and lecture engagements. So Eddie is having his youth wasted on him. This is the curse of academicism. The weight of received information stultifies the imagination and produces conformity even in the minds of unconformity. I was very sorry to hear it as I think it is a folly, though I said nothing. Eddie could have a political or Trade Union career, based not on theory but on action.
November 26 Wednesday: I went into town, looked round the bookshops, then took the 2 o’clock train to Galway where John Meehan, formerly of South London Connolly Association, but now on the E.C. of the ITGWU met me. He introduced me to Niall Farrell, whom I had not met before [Galway-based radical and peace-activist, brother of Mairead Farrell, who was an IRA operative assassinated in Gibraltar]. He comes from a Belfast republican family, is a young-looking 33, was five years in Prague, and has a brother who was in jail for “Provo” activities. Meehan works a 25-acre farm part-time and is also employed by the County Council.
Niall Farrell’s wife is the half-German daughter of Jack Mitchell, but is a very shrewd, intelligent young woman. She must get that from her German mother. Needless to say we did not discuss Mitchell, though Niall Farrell expressed the view that he “did not understand the national question” and had raised his eyebrows and emitted tut-tuts when he heard I had been invited. Meehan has advanced politically since he was on the Union Executive. Niall Farrell is not so sophisticated but is a vigorous dedicated young man with perhaps just a hint of over-seriousness. He makes a living selling left-wing books. Declan Bree blew in on the way to Limerick and brought another young man from Sligo, who came to the meeting.
I had not the faintest notion what sort of people would be at it. But it was well attended and Alf McLoughlin came in. Apparently following some row in the National Library he resigned and is now librarian to Galway University, in which capacity he refused Niall Farrell’s offer of the complete works of Lenin for £150. On the whole the meeting was uneventful, despite one Trotsky who wanted to hog the floor. Niall Farrell introduced me to a young “Militant” supporter who did not seem to be militant at all but was working hard on Galway Labour History. Better a militant than an academic.
November 27 Thursday: Niall Farrell’s car broke down, but we got a taxi into town. I was in Dublin by 2 pm. had lunch at the station and caught the 3.05 to Waterford to be met by Peter O’Connor, Charlie Spillane of the Trades Council and Tony Coughlan who was there speaking to a school on neutrality. He had intended to stay but had to attend a meeting of lawyers anxious to put the government in court over the Single European Act. And there were also Bobby Edwards, now much better in health, and Nora Harkin. We went to Peter O’Connor’s, where Biddy provided tea and offered drinks that we refused.
The meeting was in Connolly Hall and about 40-50 were there, not a bad attendance. Fred O’Shea appeared, full of bonhomie and assuming an intimacy he has no right to [O’Shea had been a political antagonist of Greaves’s in CPGB circles in London in the 1950s]. He has gone back to live in Waterford – to be precise Dunmore. But he goes back to London and into hospital. He looks very much better but he still has cancer. Of course I could not bother about old scores when he was in this state, so put up with him, and spoke him fair. He must feel optimistic if he has bought a house here.
The meeting was, I thought, better than the Galway one. There was a sprinkling of local Trade Unionists, and Michael O’Brien, once in Manchester Civil Rights movement, was there, also a brother-in-law of Jim Cosgrave called Lane, who knows Eddie Cowman. I think, with this largely working-class audience, my remarks were better received than in Galway. Several of the audience came up to me afterwards and expressed agreement with everything I said, and Bobby Edwards was surprised at this because of the “high level” of politics that was involved. There was one ultra-left who urged the “better life for all” strategy in the North, but who was at least quietened. We went for a drink with members of the audience and then for another at Peter O’Connor’s. There is no question things have come a long way in Ireland. It is returning to normal.
November 28 Friday: I caught the 10.50 to Dublin and Tony Coughlan and Eddie Cowman met me [Eddie Cowman had been CA national organiser in the late 1970s before returning to Ireland]. We had lunch in Berni’s – a dirty but trendy joint that occupies the site of Jammets [a Dublin gastronomic restaurant] – and then Eddie went off to a lecture. I made some purchases, among them Dr Browne’s autobiography, then went to 24 Crawford Avenue where Sean Redmond turned up together with Sean Óg, now nearly 11. We discussed the education of the Trade Union movement. He had been seeing his wife off to London.
Later after he had left, Muriel Saidlear, Cathal MacLiam and Helga came. Tony was still with the lawyers. The problem is to find a “straw man” who will sue the Government and have no money with which to pay costs if the action fails. He had missed most of the meeting last night because the locomotive had broken down and had to be towed back into Waterford. When he came it was obvious that he is extremely tired and consequently irritable. Micheál O Loingsigh and Eibhlín [ie. Mrs Ó Loingsigh] came later and Tony jumped down his throat but elicited only a mild remonstrance.
I asked Micheál his opinion of the Sinn Fein moves into the Dáil. He favours it, but said it was no harm having the abstentionists in existence as an insurance policy. He thought the thing to do was to challenge the seat-takers to make a job of it. I thought these observations extremely shrewd.
There is no doubt that AC [ie. Anthony Coughlan] and his colleagues have done a first-class job on the Single European Act and thoroughly embarrassed both the Government and the Labour Party. There is however still a fixed determination to push ahead with it.
November 29 Saturday (Liverpool): Muriel Saidlear, who wanted to run me to the Ferryport, did not get up, for reasons referable to the “night before”, but I was up early and took a taxi. It was I suppose fortunate that I did. Already the loudspeakers were announcing a delay due to engine trouble. We waited from 11 am. to 4.30 pm. before the wretched thing pulled out. I was anticipating another all-night session like that I had with Fr Hickman [ie. on a previous cross-channel journey], but British Railways put on a special train at 9 pm., which got to Chester in time for the 10.49. I arrived at Rock Ferry at 11.25, expecting and not relishing the notion of a walk up the hill through a thin fog. I saw a young man waiting at the bus stop. He told me the No. 10 was due. Wasn’t I glad to see that bus!
November 30 Thursday: Pat Bond rang at midday. He said there are no petitions left. I wonder if he has ignored my instructions and sent them out. He was somewhat evasive when I asked how they had gone. Also he is breaking the Standing Committee decision which was to get 10,000 signatures. I’m going to have trouble with that man. He is well-meaning in the very worst sense of the word. He had actually rung up Niall Farrell from London apparently for nothing. He is like a baby who has to know everything. However it must be “fortiter in re, suaviter in modo.” I can’t afford any tantrums.
The weather was mild and sunny. The fog had cleared but I did not go out. I spent the day clearing up and preparing future operations. I see from correspondence that Cope has got a job with Central Books [Cope had been in charge of the left-wing bookshop in Liverpool; Central Books was the CPGB bookshop in London]. I think he has been playing for this for some time and doubtless it colours his political position. I don’t trust him one bit and neither does Barney Morgan. An invitation to a “Morning Star” meeting came. I was not impressed when I saw Syd Foster’s name for one of the speakers. He may be on the right or right enough side politically, but if I know him he’ll be looking after himself as well. I think the revolutionary wave of 1905-1922 and its secondary 1941-48 have both exhausted their political force and now things are regrouping for the greatest crash of all. It takes about a century each time.
December 1 Monday: A letter came from John Hoffman saying he would lecture in London on March 1st[Hoffman taught philosophy at Leicester University]. I rang Jane Tate but she did not answer. Stella Bond says she is having trouble with her broken wrist and has to go to hospital. I did some clearing up and went into town to make purchases. Freda Morton sent a towel she thought I had left in Edinburgh. She says Alisoun is better, or somewhat so, and that John has got a job in the Herriot-Watt, though at abominably low pay. It seems his wife, who is English, hankers after stockbroker-belt Sussex where she was brought up, but will have to reconcile herself to Edinburgh.
I got through to Jane Tate in the evening. She has arranged for the bank to accept her left hand signature. She is not anxious to have Pat Bond or Stella as signatories. Not unnaturally she resents the high-handed way he disposes of the Association’s property. It seems she has a very bad compacted fracture and will be in plaster till after Xmas.
December 2 Tuesday: A load of material came from Stella, including a reply from Josephine Logan (one of the clan Connolly of Longford) who is trying to start a branch in Nottingham. I contacted Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady about Manchester on Thursday. But there is still a fair backlog to dispose of.
December 3 Wednesday: An unsatisfactory day. I sat up late last night and did not wake this morning till 11.45 – and very surprised I was too. I sent off a few letters and made some purchases. I telephoned Beresford Ellis in the evening and he agreed to speak on March 29th. So there are the London lectures arranged. Michael Mortimer rang up. He has heard nothing from Joe O’Connor about the Liverpool fixtures. Last thing I rang Peter Mulligan and arranged to see him before Sunday’s meeting.
The weather is extraordinarily mild, and I would hazard a guess was every bit of 60F this afternoon.
December 4 Thursday: Michael Mortimer, bringing Pat Doherty and Joe O’Grady, met me at Lime Street and we drove to Manchester. There were about 20 at the meeting, including Lena Daly who does seem frail. I hope she has not got what she thought she had. She was the only one of the old branch [This was the CA branch that was led by Joe Deighan in Manchester in the 1950s and early 1960s, before he went to London and then later back to his native Belfast]. But Halloran of the Trades Council was there. Michael Herbert arrived late. Paul Salveson who came with Arthur Devlin said, “Don’t wait for him.” He said he was in so many things that he cannot get round them – or some such metaphor. We did not actually make members, but all the papers sold, together with badges and booklets. All the membership forms were taken. I think the next thing is a meeting with Joe Deighan. He could do Liverpool as well. The usual two apparent Republicans were there, a middle-aged countryman and younger city man, probably Belfast. And they chose the divisive question, their only contribution from the back of the room. “They’re always the same,” says Michael Mortimer. They asked my views on the “armed struggle”. Did I support it? I answered plainly “No.” Then a young woman in the front asked if Connolly “supported the armed struggle”? He didn’t, said I, he took part in one. For it wouldn’t surprise me if this inevitable two Republicans, any place, any time, were really policemen in disguise noting political recruits to the ranks of the bombers! We got back to 124 Mount Road at about 1 am.
December 5 Friday: I did very little today. I felt tired. Perhaps the last two weeks of tearing around have taken their toll.
December 6 Saturday (London): I got up early and went to London. Pat Bond was there with Charlie Cunningham helping him in the bookshop. It certainly seemed busy. I had hoped some of the young people would be there. But they were not. I asked Pat Bond if Paul Gilhooley had been in. “Pooh! We’ve not seen him since he left, and I never expected we would.” The internal office was strewn with Pat Bond’s papers. I can understand why Paul Gilhooley and before him Noel Gordon got lax. I couldn’t work in that office. It is an appendage to the shop. A huge table occupies the centre. The desks are inconvenient. There is nothing a worker can make his own, and the carping querulous spirit of Pat Bond hangs everywhere.
Anyway Charlie Cunningham came and I went for a drink – though it was not long before Pat Bond was in after Charlie. “He doesn’t want you to have a drink,” was his comment. I asked Charlie about his membership and whether he regarded himself as a member. He said of course he did. He donates £20 a month, but because he has not filled in a form and paid an extra £6 at the end of the year Pat Bond insists – and gets quite hot about it – that he is not a member. He drove Chris Sullivan away with this nonsense and I had to have him made a life-member to appease him.
In the evening Charlie and I went to the Irish Centre in Camden Town and Tadgh Egan came in. He will never admit he is well. He complains of dizzy spells after a bang on the head, though his doctor assured him, for what that is worth, that he has suffered no harm. Of course he’s not 21 any more. I stayed overnight at the Tudor House Hotel in Bloomsbury.
December 7 Sunday (Liverpool): I met Peter Mulligan at Euston and we called in to see Elsie O’Dowling who is now 91 and pretty frail. She was delighted to see us, and quite clear in the head. Peter Mulligan asked me if any Xmas cards had been sent to Liverpool. I had heard nothing. “That is bloody scandalous,” he exclaimed. Once more Pat Bond hogged the lot for the bookshop. No apology. No explanation. Just high-handed egotism protected by secrecy. I told him about Charlie Cunningham. “That’s the trouble with him,” said Peter Mulligan, “He gets people to help him in the shop. But he gives them no responsibility and has them licking stamps and sticking on labels. Then they get bored and don’t come in and he moans he’s getting no help.”
We held the E.C. – not many there – Peter Mulligan, Paul Gilhooley, Gerry Curran, Flann Campbell, Pat Bond, Stella, Jane Tate, Pat O’ Donohue. Philip Rendle has gone to Cornwall. I decided to be the organiser myself for six months and try to knock things into shape. One thing is to break the stranglehold of the Bond environment. So “decentralise” was the word. I suggest getting Paul Gilhooley to run a London committee aimed at developing branches. This way we will not lose those youthful contacts he made. We had a few examples of Pat Bond’s childishness, but they’re not worth recording. Everything went according to plan.
Afterwards Gerry Curran and Paul Gilhooley and I went to Euston. Gerry, who expects to have a bit of money from the sale of a house, was going to buy Paul a meal. The young fellow is working in the building trade, Heaven knows why. We were talking about Pat Bond, and Gerry Curran remarked upon how he has all the traits of a pampered son of the “big house”, coupled with a kind of desperate dedication. There is no humour, no culture that he can share, and no imagination. I don’t think he and Stella have any friends, though I wouldn’t say this was her fault, as she goes to play “badminton” and attends “keep fit” classes. I returned to Liverpool.
December 8 Monday: It was very wet but very mild. The tropaeolums are not flowering any more but are not cut down. There was a perfect poppy and biennials are growing all over the place. I will be able to cut a small cauliflower tomorrow that has headed up. Borage is out – alongside Helleborus –
and in the gardens of people who have them are wallflowers mixed with the marigolds! I didn’t do much. I’d a brief word with Stella Bond and Jane Tate. I wrote to a few people.
December 9 Tuesday: A letter came from the USA this morning. As soon as I saw the Salt Lake City postmark I guessed it was from the Mormons and probably about William Greaves’s letters. It was. The writer said his name was Jay Greaves Burrup, that he was 29, married with a young daughter and was an archivist who had spent his last ten years researching into the Greaves family in the USA and Britain. He gave the date 1853 as the date that Joseph Greaves went to the USA, added that he kept a diary and asked if I had his letters, which I have. He wants a photostat. I came across a reference in Charles Dickens to a recruitment drive by the Mormons who wanted emigrants. But the ship sailed from London. Dickens commented very favourably on them, and says he was told that a thousand had sailed from Liverpool the previous day. The thing is alive with mysteries. I must send him the photostats and have a proper look at the letters. But they are falling to bits.
Another letter came illustrating Pat Bond’s egotism. He asked me to draft a resolution for a woman in Yorkshire but gave no particulars. Why he could not draft it himself, Heaven knows. Anyway I asked who was she. He replied that she is a CA member for twelve years and her husband is a Trade Union organiser. And this he has kept dark not only from me but from others as well. I am only coming up against it now. But I can see why the others complained.
December 10 Wednesday: I wrote a reply to young J.G. Burrup promising photostats. But I could not immediately lay my hands on the letters. It is a pity I did not read them when I inscribed them. For there may be more in them than I thought. Looking at Dickens’s essay in the “Uncommercial Traveller”, I see evidence that the Mormons sought to emigrate to somewhere they could practice “universal brotherhood”. This would possibly indicate Owenite origins. Yet, as Mary Greaves told me in extreme old age, the family was Catholic! The trouble is the extreme dilapidation of the manuscript. There could be quite an interesting social history written – Jacobitism, Chartism, Owenism, Americanism, with the Greaves’s respectables running banking businesses and “Uncle Ira” getting disgraced for bootlegging! I dropped a hint of this.
There was a telephone call in the morning from Tom Mernagh in Milton Keynes. I had written to him suggesting a conference on the Irish in the building trade and indeed persuaded the Connolly Association Executive Committee to promote it. He rang approving the idea.
December 11 Thursday: Yesterday evening the Liverpool Connolly Association meeting took place. I wrote a few letters today and went into the city again to buy things. Jane Tate rang in the morning saying that she could get Marchmont Street for March 21st for the building trade conference.
December 12 Friday: I didn’t go out but did some clearing up and produced minutes of last Sunday’s meeting. Rather to my surprise I found the American letters quite easily. It is a testimony to my preoccupations that though they have been in my possession over twenty years – perhaps 23 – I have never examined them till this evening. They are torn to pieces and the narratives are all missing – except one in typescript which appears to be the carbon copy of a transcript. However, this one tells of the voyages from Liverpool and an arrival at Salt Lake City on 30th Sept 1853. Charles Dicken’s party went from London to New York, by train westwards and then by wagon. Joseph Greaves, who went with his wife, seems to have sailed up the Missouri from New Orleans. He seems to have been a remarkable man, seemingly a tailor by trade. They must have been a family of tailors. But of course he turned farmer. There was obviously a left element in Mormonism, or at least it attracted such. Later Joseph returned on a mission and availed of being in England to return to Liverpool and look for relatives. He found W. Greaves in Birkenhead. There were also fragments of other histories. But I could form no opinion. I did hear that a relative of one of them went to Birmingham and indeed his shop in the city centre I often saw. There was a reference to relatives in Rochdale I never heard of. There was a long letter from Mary Greaves from the USA written in 1914 – I must read it some time, when I have got the rest of it straight. And here is the question. Do I send young J. Greaves Burrup the originals or get photostats. Would anybody on this side of the Atlantic have the slightest interest? I doubt it.
There are some very interesting points. On the banks of the Mississippi he saw slaves. He thought them better off than many people he had seen in Liverpool. William Greaves was not a good correspondent. Two letters show Joseph asking if William Greaves was ignoring him because of his religion. There follows a decisive defence if religious toleration, including toleration of atheism. Joseph seems himself to have been an intensely religious man who spent three days a week working in the “Temple” and the other three, first on his farm, later in his “small shop”. He can have received little education for he constantly mis-spells – often using “th” for “t”. But it is clear that this was a religious emigration in 1853. I remember Mary Greaves [ie. a paternal aunt who lived in Portsmouth] saying that the American branch had traced the genealogy back for many generations, though she had no copy of it. It seems however that it was paid for by Joseph, but actually commissioned, from whom I don’t know, by William Greaves around 1904. Incidentally when you start poking into family history it becomes clear what mongrels we are all. I could not find a single family in Callan that was recorded in the days of Mellows’s grandfather, and Agnes Muir McKenzie [Scottish historian and writer] whose ancestry is recorded over a few hundred years, testified that it included people of about seventeen nationalities. I found a letter from a Mrs Bickerstaff. There was some story of her bringing up William Greaves who was kidnapped as a baby and taken to Ruthin. But who she really was and what really happened nobody will ever know. Years ago Mary Greaves told us that when she was quite young two ladies called at the house. She took to them at once. They were different from other relations. She mentioned this to someone among her elders who replied, “That’s understandable. They are your father’s true sisters.” So he had sisters that were not real ones. Now I think she told me that the kidnap was connected with the change from Catholicism to Protestantism. But if Joseph was originally Catholic, how did he become a Mormon? This may possibly have been in one of the last narratives, or those which Mary Greaves foolishly let go to California.
December 13 Saturday: I didn’t go out. Pat Bond rang at midday and seemed in a better mood than usual. Paul Gilhooley had been in and had called a committee meeting for January 7th. “So he’s doing something,” says Paddy Bond. “I knew he would,” said I. “Indeed. That remains to be seen.” He has no confidence in people. Everything rests on himself.
December 14 Sunday: Again I stayed in. I have quite a deal of correspondence for posting tomorrow. But I have a touch of a cold.
December 15 Monday: The cold doesn’t seem to have developed. I had a word with Joe O’Grady in the morning. He thinks he has a room for Michael O’Riordan on Jan 22. But I could not get Michael Mortimer. Paul Gilhooley rang. He wants a week’s work. I told him I had no objection but he must ask Pat Bond. I telephoned this to Stella. Later Pat Bond rang. He wants the assistance but he is worried that Pat O’Donohue will “blow his top” if he charges it to Connolly Publications, or Jane Tate will blow her “top” if it is the Connolly Association. One would think a man who so unhesitatingly “blows” his own “top” could not pay too much attention to it in other people. In the meantime I went into the city and saw John Gibson and Veronica Gibson in the bookshop. Cope is going to work for Central Books. I think he wants a “party career”. He is welcome to it. Everybody – with very few exceptions – I ever had any time for is on the dissident side. Pat Bond told me some bad news. Miriam James is dead. Apparently she had a stroke followed by another and it was only a matter of time. I met her first around 1946 in Dublin when she was working for Geary [ie. Professor Roy Geary, the statistician]. And John Gibson’s news was a little better. He had been to London last week-end and called on Jane Tate. He said she was “in a bad way” and I fear that’s not far from the truth. She has great courage.
December 16 Tuesday: I spoke to Michael Mortimer in the morning about getting a committee meeting. He promised to ring “at tea time”. He didn’t, so I rang again. He had forgotten. Anyway we fixed a date and Joe O’Grady laughed when I said, “Michael’s good at forgetting.” I posted a copy of “Mellows” to Peter O’Connor and later spoke to Gerry Curran on the telephone. I also sent J.G. Burrup a Liverpool calendar and invited Frank Deegan to speak at Michael O’Riordan’s meeting in January.
December 17 Wednesday: I went into the city, to the bank, and posted off another page to Ripley. I learned from Pat Bond that Paul Gilhooley was in, doing some Connolly Association work but wanted to invite a Sinn Fein speaker on their entry into the Dáil if they are elected. Pat Bond was opposed to it. So was I. This is typical naiveness of youth. And the people he brings in will be as bad. How can they learn without making mistakes? How can we afford those mistakes? Conundrum! Later I tried to get Tony Coughlan as I suspected I’ll not be getting much for the paper this month and have worked on that basis. Muriel Saidlear said he is working on “This constitution business”. I presume they want the Single European Act challenged for constitutionality. Anyway he is at it every night and is getting home at one or two in the morning, and his long-suffering better part seems content enough with it. There is something to be said for late marriages. They occur after toleration has been built up. But it is brushing the sea back with a broom. Year after year it goes on, the relentless progress of counter-revolution. And we are resisting in terms of the last revolution. I expect a new revolution to arise from a new crisis. Then the tide will begin to come in again – I’m afraid these watery metaphors are mixed! I’ve got him sweeping the wrong way.
There are plenty of causes for dissatisfaction apart from uncertainty over the “Democrat” copy. The bus service has been ruined. I called into Birkenhead market on the way back from town and was caught in a downpour. Indeed it was raining out of the heavens all afternoon and striking bubbles on the ground. The few buses were packed with Christmas shoppers. All standards have gone by the board. The Government has chosen the Christmas lunacy to post fifty million share allocations to the purchasers of “British Gas” that we all paid for over years. Consequently I’ve only had one letter all week. Gerry Curran’s copy has arrived not accompanied by pictures that can’t be used.
The local CP called in the evening and brought me a 1987 card. I must say I felt no satisfaction at receiving it. Certainly it is a good sign that they moved so speedily, and they seemed pleasant enough young people. But the tradition is lost. And perhaps it has to be. It may be we need to put 1917 into history and look for 2017. To add to everything else the weather map shows an anticyclone over Greenland – a very bad sign. For the moment I have borage and rocket in flower, and Brompton stock cheek by jowl with Helleborus.
December 18 Thursday: I didn’t go out. It rained most of today and showed signs of turning cold in the evening. Wilf Charles sent me copies of his “…” that has my article in it [The two words of this book or journal title, given in quote marks in the original, are indecipherable. One word seems to be “Boxer” and may refer to a work on left-wing Manchester boxer Len Johnson, who was a political colleague of Wilf Charles from the 1930s onward]. Paul Gilhooley rang in the evening.
December 19 Friday: It didn’t take that anti-cyclone long to ruin the weather. It was cold and showery and looked like hailstones, but the threat held off. I didn’t go out. I spent the evening translating a letter in Irish sent to the bookshop by Merfyn Phillips of Llandudoch. He has translated our petition form into Welsh and collected signatures. Actually I was surprised it caused me no more trouble. I am not so sure that I don’t know more Irish than Welsh. In each case let it be admitted it is only a smattering, but a smattering has its uses.
From a discarded copy of the “Morning Star” I see Tom Rowlandson died on December 2nd. The last time I heard of him must have been in 1948 or ‘49 when he went up for the CP in Wigan and went down badly. Part of the criticism that was directed against him was that he had antagonised the Irish by saying Partition was better than a reactionary deal that would end Irish neutrality. He was asked where he got this from. He replied the “Irish Democrat”, of which I had recently became editor. The result was that some of the King Street people wanted to blame me, and I wasn’t pleased at all because I had actually written to Rowlandson at the outset of the campaign emphasising the need to oppose Partition and making suggestions upon how he could broach the subject. What I did not understand in those days was the fact that they were not in the slightest concerned with adopting an anti-imperialist position, but very much with winning an election.
December 20 Saturday: Another damp chilly day on which I stayed in. I had a word with Paul Gilhooley in the morning and Charlie Cunningham was with him in the shop. I said I was wondering whether to take a trip to London on Tuesday. Pat Bond has been doing well in the shop. Connolly Publications bank balance is over £6,000. And the Connolly Association has £16,000. Obviously this is the time to move.
December 21 Sunday: There must have been frost in the night, because the Tropaeolums have been done for, though the rocket is still flowering merrily. In the evening there was a call from Mark CIinton [a longstanding CA member in Birmingham] whose fourth son was born today, and he had just come from the hospital. His eldest is 8. He is all for a conference in Birmingham, but I wouldn’t rely on his organising it. He would do nothing. But we will try Bill Goulding. The way everybody is ageing was shown when Mark said of Goulding, “If he has not retired.”!
December 22 Monday: I managed to get Paul Salveson in the morning and agree the date of the Bolton conference. I met Joe O’Grady and Michael Mortimer at Lime Street and he had the wee girl his daughter, who is 19 and not a “punk” any more. She is going to do a cover for John Boyd’s pamphlet. For the rest there was not much in it. Michael Mortimer told us about his negotiations with the Irish Centre over our usual set of lectures. He got permission all right, but was asked to provide a list of subjects, and was reminded to sell no literature and solicit no new members. He does get the impression that some members of the committee had made himself unwelcome. Why? Possibly attendance having fallen off, enthusiasm has waned. Or on the other hand we have the Anglo-Irish Agreement which the Federation of Irish Societies unhesitatingly endorsed, showing their total dependence on the Embassy. Now we are no longer an impoverished organisation and we discussed moving elsewhere next year.
December 23 Tuesday: I rang up Jane Tate. Her brother has come for her and he is taking her down to Kent this afternoon. Her arm is very painful, but she thinks it is improving. She told me that Paul Gilhooley had announced with some pomposity that he was “assuming charge” of the preparation for the O’ Riordan meeting. I think it is just boyishness. We have to remember he is only 23 and his trouble has started a maturing process. When I spoke to him last he was praising Jane Tate’s resilience. I remember the same thing with Sean Redmond. He could be puppy-doggish at times. That ceased when his sister died. I noticed the difference while in no way pleased over how it was brought about. Incidentally I see that Roy Johnston has lost his case in the “European Court”[ie. the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg]. It has held that divorce is not a human right. I received a copy of the “Independent” from Colm Power. He scribbles on a picture of Micheál Ó Loingsigh receiving a business award for good printing that he has no time for him and calls him “Blow-mouth”. So he’s got his knife into Micheál Ó Loingsigh now! There’s not many people of whom Colm Power approves!
December 24 Wednesday: The weather turned mild again but I did not go out. I did a little work on the paper. Nobody rang up, nor did I ring anybody. In the afternoon Jean Brown from next door called to say that she has helped herself to some of my holly, to which she was of course welcome. But she brought me a pot of damson jam which I accepted from politeness, but am at a loss what to do with it as I don’t eat sweet things. I can’t abide sugar. She also invited me for lunch tomorrow but I declined. There is nothing but a vast boredom at this time of year, and I will get on with the paper.
December 25 Thursday: The weather was comparatively mild and bright but I did not go out – unless going to the bay-tree for some leaves can be so described. This is of course the most boring day of the year. However, I reorganised Gerry Curran’s book page, so that there are now five pages done. Nothing has come from Tony Coughlan. A note from him said he would ring some time and have the Connolly Association history done for 1/1/1988
[This was a project A. Coughlan had undertaken for the CA’s 50th anniversary year]. Now he has not consulted me on a single item. Perhaps it is as well to leave it that way. Possibly he has the academic’s confidence in “primary sources”. I have not. On the other hand maybe we will be surprised. Charlie Cunningham says simply, “He’ll never do it.” So it may surprise him too.
December 26 Friday: I stayed in again and did some work on the paper. At about 11 am. Tony Coughlan telephoned. Had I heard of Garret FitzGerald’s Xmas present? I had not. He seemed a trifle nettled that I had not, and impatiently explained that at 7 pm. on Xmas Eve the Taoiseach had been “injuncted” (what a word!) from ratifying the Single European Act. It had been on the radio at 9.30 pm. I could, I suppose, have explained that I had to fill the pages he had left empty without warning. But I had already decided that it was unfair to me for the paper to be dependent on goodwill for so long, and unfair to him to expect him to go on indefinitely. Some other arrangement will have to be made. He now said he had been trying to ring me and had had the busiest three weeks of his political life and had had no time to think of the “Irish Democrat”. Unfortunately, I have to. I can see what Cathal means when he complains of his extreme single-mindedness. But in this case it has paid off in a historic victory. If I were the European devotees I’d be trying to get at the judges who may now have to deal with the question. Apparently an exceptionally brilliant counsel named Paul Callan has placed himself at Crotty’s disposal. Whatever happens the issue is in the open, good and proper.
December 27 Saturday: I didn’t go out but got on with the paper, having an extra page to fill. It is a mercy to Pat Bond that he hasn’t the paper on his hands. He would have apoplexy.
December 28 Sunday: Although it was very mild – mid fifties – I stayed in and virtually finished the paper. It can be posted tomorrow. I went into the garden and see only a few of the Tropaeolum leaves are frostbitten. Many of the trailing stems are perfectly healthy, and the borage is still in flower. This is the time of year the weather usually changes. So we will see.
I rang Michael Mortimer’s. But his daughter told me he was driving a taxi and might be out all night. I spoke to Joe O’Grady and he thinks that Michael will never make a career. He dresses like a boy in his twenties, though he is nearing 40. That is all right for leisure but bad for business. I wrote to Flan Campbell, Eric Taplin, John McGurk and Dunleavy about the Liverpool lectures. I had a few words with Tony Coughlan later on. He is not unnaturally on top of the world as a result of Crotty’s successful operation. I am not too confident of the reaction of the Supreme Court. They may just say “It is legal” and be damned to the law. But we will see.
December 29 Monday: I sent off a few letters, then met Michael Mortimer in John Gibson’s shop. The character Cope who has managed it for some years has gone to London, where he will be in the despatch department of Central Books. John Gibson doesn’t think much of him. I think he probably thinks in terms of a “political” career. As for Michael Mortimer, he is driving taxis because the social security people got tired of paying him the dole and offered him £40 a week for a year to start a small business. I tackled him about his anarchic way of life. He is alive with brains but cannot coordinate one thing. I think Alan Morton 2 thinks the same. I had a talk with Tony Coughlan who has had a great success.
December 30 Tuesday: Michael O’Riordan rang in the morning. He had not received my letter posted on the 17th. Later I rang John Boyd who has been ill and like Tony Coughlan did not turn in any copy this month. The weather is still mild. And the coriander seeds are still green.
December 31 Wednesday: Another mild day, though I did not go out. I got a certain amount of clearing up done, and wrote letters to George Davies, Joe Jamison, Michael Mortimer and Kneafsey in Blackburn, all about Connolly Association business. So now we are to the end of another year. Not that I take much notice of these cusps. The advent of January usually means perishing cold weather, and I would not think a different number on the calendar would compensate for that. However, on the whole 1986 wasn’t too bad, indeed the best for some time. I want to concentrate on organising the Connolly Association for the next six months, then have a good long summer break. That is of course “deus volens” [ie. God willing]
January 1 Thursday: Well, January came in wet and mild and with a South-West wind – a good sign. There is borage and rocket in flower, Helleborus and Brompton stock, and though some Tropaeolum leaves have been shrivelled there are whole plants untouched. I got some clearing up done and wrote some letters. I have still a page of the paper unfinished but got no mail yesterday and hope to receive some tomorrow. I rang up Barney Morgan who says he goes back to work on Monday. He did not think he could be laid up so long. And then later on Joe Deighan rang me.
January 2 Friday: I went into Birkenhead to get the J.G. Burrup letters copied. Pentcott’s were closed. I went into the pub opposite to think what to do and decided to go across the river. As I walked towards Hamilton Square I saw a smaller shop that advertised photocopying and left the letters there. I found Hamilton Square ablaze with colour – beds of blue and yellow pansies, primulas, daisies and heather. I never recall that in January before. I went to the bank, had lunch in the excellent Italian restaurant in Temple Lane, then went to Parry’s on Brownlow Hill looking for Pais’s book on Einstein [He wanted this in connection with his comic epic poem, “Elephants Against Rome”, on which he was currently working and in which there is an episode involving Einstein]. It was out of stock. I decided to walk to Berry Street, but turning down Mount Pleasant I found a new second-hand bookshop run by a man called Fitzpatrick where I bought Hugh Thomas’s “Spanish Civil War” and then got Jim Fyrth’s new book on the Spanish War movement in Britain. Cope having gone, a young lady has taken over. Then I picked up the copies.
January 3 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the Standing Committee. There was not a good attendance – only Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Flann Campbell and Paul Gilhooley, apart from myself. However the feeling of exasperation and demoralisation has completely gone and Paul seems, as I expected, to have matured a bit. There was a little friction with Jane Tate, owing to his not inviting her to a meeting, and I think it may have been deliberate. I wish he would get out of intrigue. It is so unnecessary. Tony Coughlan’s appeal was acceded to. A circular came yesterday and an explanatory letter today. Crotty needs £50,000 to help sue the Government. So we decided to send £100. They have started a campaign committee and John Carroll, Sean MacBride and Sean Redmond are sponsors [This was the Constitutional Rights Committee which became the Constitutional Rights Campaign in the 1987 Single European Act referendum, following the Supreme Court’s judgement in favour of Raymond Crotty in April 1987]. I came back on the 8.50. There was no food on it. A disgrace!
January 4 Sunday: I didn’t go out. It was wet till evening. But I wrote quite a few letters. That getting no food yesterday took a little out of me and I feel a cold coming on. There was a cold snap yesterday and a white frost. I haven’t looked but I imagine that that is the end of the Tropaeolums.
January 5 Monday: I went to Ripley and took a taxi from Derby Station. This journey is a labour and I’d like to get somebody from London to check the proofs. The journey back was at its best. A bus at 4.11 at Ripley Market Square, a train at Derby at 5.07, a slightly delayed fast train to Lime Street waiting at Crewe at 6.35, so that I was at Lime Street just after 7 o’clock. But I had had only lunch and there was no bar on the train. I had a drink at Lime Street and then took a taxi. It was cold and wet and I have a filthy cold.
January 6 Tuesday: Today was more eventful. First Oliver Snoddy rang up asking if the Connolly Association could show the Connolly Exhibition that is in Edinburgh. He also asked about his pamphlet. Later Sean Redmond rang up recommending Sam Nolan for the Building Trade Conference. Sean is very sensible. When I said I thought perhaps the representatives of an Irish Union would be better, he suggested Eric Fleming of ITGWU No 3 branch. “Now that emigration has started again the unions on the two sides of the water must get together.” He was highly impressed at what Tony Coughlan has pulled off but, like me, while anxious for the best, less confident of it.
And then Jane Tate rang up to say that Pat Bond has got shingles, but still insists on going into the bookshop to do the stocktaking with Pat O’Donohue. “There’s a touch of martyrdom in it,” says Jane. And I’d not be surprised if he had brought the shingles on himself by his fussing and irritating. Not of course that one is anything but sorry for it.
Finally, a man called Colwell rang up and said he was a member of the Society of Authors and had seen my name in their list. He asked had I many books published and I said I had a few. Then would I have a look at his MSS and advise. He must of course have published something or he wouldn’t be let in to the Society of Authors. I said I’d have a drink with him some night, but best on a common bus route, as I didn’t run a car. “Neither do I,” says he, “I’m a cyclist.” And he said he wrote weekly notes in the periodical of that name.
I recognised at once – for all the nonsense of it – that this was a day that did not say “Cauneas”[ie. Beware] and rang up Michael Herbert saying I was going to Jack Askin’s funeral in Manchester. We agreed to meet at the Library at 4.30-4.45 pm.
January 7 Wednesday: I spent a hard clerical day from 10 am. to 10 pm. I spoke on the telephone to Joe O’Grady, but could not get Barney Morgan, Michael Mortimer or Jane Tate. I spoke to Cathal in the evening. He is full of admiration for Tony Coughlan’s effort but says it is “too vigorous”. He’s at a meeting every night, and his comfortable armchair beckoning. Tony rang. He wants some document out of the British Library’s store in Woolwich. Was I going to London? I was not. If I went for that I could go for nothing else. I suggested Flann Campbell who might do it. He says the Government are coming at them, all guns blazing. Cathal doesn’t like it at all! I wrote to Alan Morton about the Connolly Exhibition.
In the afternoon Pat Bond rang up. Paul Gilhooley appeared in the office and announced that I had authorised him to resume his job as organiser on a temporary basis and that the Standing Committee confirmed it later. I told him I had done nothing of the kind. I wouldn’t do it that way anyway. If I wanted him back I’d wait till a mess of something was made because he wasn’t back and get him back as a favour to them. So he’s jumped the gun as usual. I rang Gerry Curran to see if he could recall anything in our conversation last Saturday that could be misconstrued into such authorisation, but he couldn’t. I did however today suggest to Pat Bond that since he had shingles he should have a week off and let Paul run the shop. He told me the shingles were not bad enough, and anyway he didn’t think Paul could run a shop. So as Jane Tate said, the shingles thing was another martyrdom stunt. Now was Paul trying to get away with something? “He’s unemployed and he’s got no money,” said Pat Bond without a trace of sympathy. He keeps it all for himself. But as Gerry Curran says, Paul Gilhooley is at least interested, and is the only young person we have who is interested. Pat Bond, and I fear Jane Tate too, would let him go to the devil. Now creaking gates can last long, but they’re both sick people. I heard from John McGurk and Andy Higgins.
January 8 Thursday: I went to Manchester and took a taxi to Buckley crematorium to the funeral of Jack Askins. The Vietnam Ambassador spoke, also Ron Todd (I think it was he; I arrived late) and Tony Chater whom I don’t really trust [Chater was editor of the daily “Morning Star” paper, which was a key centre of opposition to the “Eurocommunist” revisionists of the official CPGB]. John Gibson was there with Veronica Gibson and George Davies, also Martin Guinan, who gave me £50 for the paper [Martin Guinan was a longstanding CA member in Blackburn]. George Davies said that there have been divisions in the Labour Committee on Ireland and their Trade Union man McGrillan has resigned. Later I met Michael Herbert, and later his girlfriend, who impressed me more. I think she is a year or two older. He will co-operate but seems to have gone off the Connolly Association. The “Birmingham Six Committee” have moved to Manchester from Bolton, so he is tied up in that. Also he is a little under the influence of People’s Democracy. He told me that there was a split in the IBRG which resulted in the Irish Centre, up to then under the control of Jim King, being taken over by the contractors, and (thought I), the Embassy. For it is now dominated by the Federation of Irish Societies and is far more anti-political than the Liverpool one. I wanted Bobby Heatley to write a critique of “Peoples’ Democracy” so as to finish it ideologically, but he said he saw no point in giving it importance. But its ideas survive – Trotskyism in democratic guise.
Later I rang Gerry Curran. About seven attended the meeting, all young except Donal McGrath, whom Gerry doesn’t trust. There were attacks on the “Irish Democrat” on the grounds that Tom Durkin had said it was “not socialist enough”[Tom Durkin was a Trade Unionist on Brent Trades Council who in the past had been a critic of CA policy on leftist grounds; he had recently been expelled from the CPGB]. So he keeps up the same old nonsense. The young people are very raw, says Gerry.
I was given a lift into central Manchester by a man of about 50 who proved to be the son of Joe Deighan’s old friend Grimshaw. I asked about the prospect of an election. He was confident Mrs Thatcher would be returned. Wage rates were rising faster than the rate of inflation. “They’re sitting pretty. And they’re all divided. There’s no community.” We were getting into the inner city. “Look at all those terraced houses. The people used to leave their doors open in case any of the neighbours wanted anything. Now they’d walk in and rob them. The poor stealing from the poor!”
January 9 Friday: I went into the city to make some purchases, but otherwise did not do much. The weather is turning cold, at the very worst possible time. Oliver Snoddy rang up about the Connolly Exhibition [Oliver Snoddy/O Snodaigh, worked in the National Museum in Dublin at this time].
January 10 Saturday (London): There was frost on the ground, white in the West, black in the East, as I went to London. I had a talk with Charlie Cunningham who gave me a cheque for £150 towards the history that Tony Coughlan is now promising for the end of the year, and £100 to send on to him. The court case is on Thursday [ie. the High Court stage of Raymond Crotty’s challenge to the Irish Government’s mode of ratification of the Single European Act]. I also had a talk with Paul Gilhooley. He now says, “He applied for reinstatement” when he saw Pat Bond last week. I gave him a piece of my mind and told him there was room for self-criticism on his part. He has no intention to do anything but play for money. He would do some useful things but would not be worth a regular wage. He says now what I expected, that the difficulties in taking the family to Ireland have proved insuperable, but he intends to go to Belfast where he will apply for a teacher-training grant. How often I have seen high pretensions in the end satisfied with the humdrum. He would like to be a national leader but has not the discipline to earn that position. He has no chance but to take somebody else’s easy path since his own path would be too hard! He says the “Morning Star” is on its way out. Charlie Cunningham came for a meal with me and we called on Jane Tate.
When I got back I heard on the radio about record low temperatures in Finland. An immense body of cold air is situated over Northern Europe. So the answer has come. After a filthy summer there is never a normal winter. And this one is abominably cold. Usually the boundary is the Irish Sea, or even the middle of Ireland, but it seems this year possibly to be the edge of the Atlantic.
January 11 Sunday: My handbasin exit was frozen up. I poured down salt but it did not clear. There is a black frost, with very low temperatures. In the evening Joe Deighan rang. I told him about Manchester. What a damned nuisance. The very month I choose for a campaign to be hit by a super-winter, for I have little hope of a quick improvement. The mass of cold air is so vast. Josephine Logan rang me from Nottingham. And I contrived at length to get hold of Barney Morgan. Finally I took some emergency measures – leaving a gas jet burning and keeping an electrically heated cylinder of hot water in the bathroom. This will keep the main supply slightly warm and if a tap is allowed to drip I hope that slightly warm water will be fed to the system. Apart from that cross fingers!
January 12 Monday: Not only was the hand bowl outlet blocked, there was ice in it. I kept the immersion heater on all day and night and this time two gas jets. I think the bathroom was therefore slightly warmer. Pat Bond rang up. He is not too pleased with the shingles, and even less with Paul Gilhooley who is always borrowing money from the bookshop. I told him not to allow it. Paul keeps offering to take over the bookshop for a week so that Pat Bond can get over the shingles, but Bond says he doesn’t trust him to do it. So where are you with them all? I marked up John Boyd’s pamphlet and wrote a brief preface for it [ie. Boyd’s pamphlet criticising the EEC]. I can post it tomorrow.
January 13 Tuesday: The icy weather continues, though everybody here expresses gratitude that “It’s worse everywhere else.” The midday temperature today was 25F; yesterday it was below 22F. But it has not yet snowed. I went into Birkenhead and bought a hurricane lamp. Then I could get no paraffin. Everybody is buying it. But I got 500 cc. of methylated spirit at the chemist and set the lamp near the most vulnerable pipes. The bus service was decimated. The diesel fuel had turned to jelly, and some of the men were at meetings deciding whether to strike.
I met Michael Mortimer and Joe O’Grady at Lime Street and we made some arrangements for the meetings.
January 14 Wednesday: Another cold day, though I think it was not quite so bad. The outflow of both bath and handbasin is still blocked. I kept a gas- cooker on all day, but to no effect. The blockage must be on the outside, so my hurricane lamp was of no avail. Michael O’Riordan rang to tell me his arrangements. Later Gerry Curran telephoned. He is working on the book-page now. I did not go out, and indeed got little done. I was too busy trying to keep the house warm. But for the blocked exits all seems reasonable – so far.
January 15 Thursday: A telephone call from Margaret Byrne informed me that there are slow developments in Scotland which should really be very fruitful soil. Then Pat Bond rang. There is a foot of snow where he lives and he had to dig himself out of the house. There is no water in the shop. So it may end up with a flood. Mercifully there was less than inch of snow here, and the temperature seems to have risen. The hand bowl was clear this morning though the bath outlet is still blocked. I talked about the need to meet Michael O’Riordan. “The trouble is I’m on my own,” says Pat Bond piteously, “There’s no collective. Gilhooley has dispersed everything.” It would never strike him that he himself has dispersed everything. If anybody wants to help, Pat Bond will find them a boring job under his immediate supervision. After a time he will get tired of it, and that’s that. I remember that old South London branch. Never once did anybody take any initiative but Pat Bond. Incidentally, I wrote to Chris Maguire asking him to re-join.
I decided, as the handbasin had cleared, to fix the bath. So I ladled out the water that had accumulated from a dripping tap and shot two or three ounces of salt down the plug hole. That settled it. Within a couple of hours all was well. But I didn’t go out.
January 16 Friday: The weather felt quite mild today. It was slowly thawing all the time. But there is still a North-East wind. I didn’t think the cold will give up that easily! I didn’t do much. A letter and article came from Peter Beresford Ellis, and another from the ubiquitous Donal Kennedy. I went into Birkenhead, posted letters and bought one or two items of food.
January 17 Saturday: Today was an unlucky one. I rang Jane Tate because I thought of going to London. She had just heard from Vivienne Morton that Ewart Milne was dead. He had gone out to the shops pushing his bicycle, and was presumably overcome by the cold and dropped down dead. Needless to say Stella [ie. Stella Jackson, one of T.A. Jackson’s daughters] is “in a state”.
I reached Lime Street at 12.30. I had missed the 11.25 but I wanted to go because Paul Gilhooley told me he was having his working party there today. However, the announcement was made that the 1 pm. was cancelled. I rang Jane Tate and learned that there was no working party, Paul had not shown up himself, and that a burst waterpipe in the flat above had flooded the bookshop and wet some books. Gerry Curran and Donal Kennedy had helped. I think the working party must have been last week, and Paul Gilhooley lied rather than admit his inability to bring people along. He starts work for the ILEA on Monday, so we may not see much more of him. However there was one good thing – a call from Margaret Byrne. They are making progress in Glasgow.
There was a radio performance of Beethoven’s first three piano concerti, which I listened to. I knew of course that the B-flat major one was written before No.1 in C. But I had not realised – because my list gives dates of publication – that No. 3 is really No.2. But when they are played in a row it is obvious that they are in the wrong order. I remember, before I knew anything about the dates of composition, that No.1 is a great advance on No. 2. But it is also an advance on No.3, as was clearly brought out tonight.
January 18 Sunday: The weather is still cold and snow is visible, but there seems to be an improvement. Jane Tate rang. They were all in the shop and they think they can claim from the insurers. McLaughlin has made a trap door through which it will be possible to descend and turn off the water. She does not think Paul Gilhooley has done anything about next Thursday, but she will check. I don’t think however we will be able to do much without a full-time worker. The problem is to find a good one.
The radio broadcast two Beethoven’s transcriptions by Liszt. I do not like Liszt’s music but wanted to know what he did. The piano version of the “Ferne Geliebte” was near perfect [A Beethoven song]. That of the Pastoral Symphony – which I don’t like – could best be described as ingenious. The piano lacks sustaining power so that the pianist had to thump repeated chords to keep the strings vibrating, and some of this seems to have leaked into Liszt’s own compositions. I did not go out.
January 19 Monday: A very slow thaw continued all day. I did not go out but did some clearing up and letter-writing.
January 20 Tuesday: This was the first day for long enough that anything decent happened on. That scoundrel Hurd [ie. Douglas Hurd, Conservative Home Secretary] announced the reference of the Birmingham Six to the Appeal Court, which rejected the pleas of the Guildfords despite Kee’s book [Robert Kee,1919-2013, British author, who wrote the book “Trial & Error: the Maguires, the Guildford pub bombings and British justice”, 1986]. A political decision of course. I see Crotty’s case is still running. There’ll be a terrible bill. Tony Coughlan tells me the lawyers have spent £1,000 on books. And there were one or two other things too. I sent off a few letters and went into the city where I bought cheap some wine I was advised to filter. The newsagents hadn’t got blotting paper. The chemist hadn’t filter paper. I thought of arse-paper, but it was too small for the funnel. Finally I used tissue paper, which worked well enough.
January 21 Wednesday: To everybody’s surprise the weather has turned very mild. Certainly this is not a usual winter. I got a bit of clearing up done. I spoke to the Labour History Museum curator and arranged to see her tomorrow about the Connolly exhibition. I rang Jane Tate who told me Michael O’Riordan had arrived, and Joe O’Grady and Pat O’Donohue trying to trace the International Brigader Frank Deegan. A letter from Chris Maguire in the morning told me that in response to my invitation he had rejoined the Connolly Association. So this was the second day something decent happened on, for when I rang Jane Tate again in the evening she told me that the meeting was a powerful success, with 160 present, though the collection was only £60 [This was a Connolly Association meeting calling for the release of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four]. Gloria Devine was there and said Paul Gilhooley made a mess of the collection as he mumbled and couldn’t be heard. “And he’s got a head as big as the Empire State building.” That is of course the trouble. If he were not in touch with other young people, we’d not bother with him. But certainly he must not be put up to speak again. I wrote to Charlie Cunningham, to see if I could bring him on to this London Committee I am getting started. I was puzzling over this mysterious “collective” Pat Bond says Paul Gilhooley has dissipated. I think I will not look hard for them.
January 22 Thursday: Three days in a row when something good happened! What is the world coming to? I went into the city in the morning, bought some brief copy paper, and went to see Lorraine Knowles who runs the Museum of Labour History in the Old Court House, practically the last thing the Merseyside County Council did. She had been at my lecture in Manchester. She told me she was hoping to bring the Connolly Exhibition from Edinburgh to Liverpool next year. I came back for a quick lunch, then met Michael O’Riordan at Lime Street and took him for a meal [O’Riordan had been General Secretary of the CPI until recently]. I asked him if he thought the American CP could make a move towards sorting out the appalling problems that are here. He thought Gus Hall was too old. This had been exercising him for some time. He thought the Cubans might. I asked him why he had retired from the General-Secretaryship. He said that if he had died in the post they would appoint somebody else and he could have no influence on who that somebody else would be. If he retired he had at least some say in appointing his successor. Michael Mortimer picked us up and we had a most successful meeting, the room being completely full. Pat Doherty was there, John Gibson and Veronica, Barney Morgan as usual a woeful chairman, the Finnertys, and W.J. Walsh, who drove Michael O’Riordan back to Rock Ferry and myself to 124 Mount Road. I’m glad he has surfaced again.
January 23 Friday: I posted off the photocopies to J.G. Burrup in Utah. I had a word with Jane Tate in the morning. As in Liverpool the collection at the meeting was botched. Michael O’Riordan remarked on what a poor speaker Paul Gilhooley is, and it is true. Pat Bond says that now the London Committee exists he has no further responsibility for South London. Whether he is pleased with this or not, I do not know. At the same time it is the only way forward.
January 24 Saturday: I managed to complete one page of the paper. Copy has come early this month and so a better job can be done. I rather feel Tony Coughlan is finished as a Dublin correspondent, but it is a natural enough development. I went into the city and bought a new pressure cooker and some wine, which needs filtering but costs only £1.10 a bottle because of this and the last was drinkable. Today was like a spring day. What a queer winter! God knows what’s waiting.
January 25 Sunday: I managed another three pages of the February paper. So it is half finished already. But I can’t get replies from anybody about any of the conferences, but UCATT, not Mernagh, not Henderson, not ITGWU man Fleming, not even Paul Salveson [Left-wing independent activist and author in Bolton, Lancashire]. They all seem to have lost the use of their fingers.
January 26 Monday: I went on with the paper but only managed another page. Joe Deighan’s copy arrived and Eric Fleming rang Stella Bond saying he was coming. I went into the city in the afternoon. I rang Bill Goulding.
January 27 Tuesday: I got on reasonably well with the paper. I have about two and a half pages still to do but await some material from Andy O’Higgins that Pat Bond rang and told me about. I rang Mark CIinton telling him I was seeing Bill Goulding in Birmingham on Friday and arranging to meet him. Joe Deighan’s copy came yesterday, but as expected nothing from Tony Coughlan. He must be up to his eyes. I haven’t heard a squeak from him.
January 28 Wednesday: I got George Henderson in the morning and he agreed to speak at our conference. There is a telephone engineers’ strike so I found it hard to get Michael Mortimer. He said he had been ringing me for two days but could not get through. I rang Joe O’Grady, Michael Mortimer having promised to bring some circulars to Lime Street. When I got there he had the wee girl’s art work but no circulars. Joe O’Grady had come in specially to get them and was not pleased. He suspected Michael Mortimer of not having done them and bluffing. I wouldn’t be surprised. Michael is a most intelligent and socially dedicated person but is rather like Mark Clinton; he lacks the capacity to carry through a long-term purpose. So he has no career and is now driving a taxi. Joe O’Grady was surprised that Eric Heffer had not replied to my letter about the building workers’ conference. He cannot see through Heffer [Left-wing Liverpool Labour MP]. And I imagine Heffer and his wife use his services shamelessly. I gave Heffer a copy of “Mellows” solely out of the regard for Joe O’Grady. He had not even the grace to acknowledge it. (He did later.) [The latter note in parenthesis was later added by CDG.]
January 29 Thursday: I finished the paper but too late to post it. I met Joe O’Grady at the bank and he gave me copies of the invitation to the lectures that Michael Mortimer seems to have done, as he dropped them in to him last night. The weather has turned cold again, but nothing to what it was a couple of weeks ago.
January 30 Friday (Birmigham/Liverpool): I went to Birmingham and called in to the TGWU office to see Bill Goulding. He told me Brian Mathews had taken early retirement and a man called Jim Hunt, formerly chairman of the CPGB but now a savage right-winger, had taken over. So he could no longer offer us a free room. I asked him if we could get a conference in Birmingham and he thought we could, possibly early in May. He has left the CPGB, and I think is partly with the Campaign Committee [ie. the Communist Campaign Group, which was opposed to the official CPGB] or whatever it is called, and keeps in touch with the NCP [ie. New Communist Party]. He referred to the split and asked how it would all end. I told him what Michael O’ Riordan had said. This was a very satisfactory discussion.
I tossed in my own mind whether to go and see the CP district secretary Tony McNally, but decided to do so. After all I know his brother, his father and his grandfather before him. It turned out that I was well advised. He was most cordial, delighted to see me, and even walked to the station with me. I expected some such result, and this influenced me in going there, as has apparently come from Gorbachev’s reforms. When I said to Michael O’Riordan that the NCP were the best of a bad bunch, he said, “Look what they did.” But I’m not disposed to take much notice of what people “did” when confronted with problems they couldn’t solve. And that goes for the CPGB too. Of course there are utter rats like Myant, but there are utter fools like Irene Brennan, and people like McNally who are all right but not too bright. He told me that his father, Joe McNally, is still alive, but Tom is dead.
I then met Mark Clinton who is still in the CP but thinks as I do. He told me that Bill Goulding left because of Afghanistan [presumably the Soviet intervention in that country] and Woddis’s absurd articles [Jack Woddis, 1914-1980, was in charge of the CPGB’s International Department in the late 1960s and 1970s; see earlier volumes]. I’ve a feeling that improvements are on the way. I then came back to Liverpool.
January 31 Saturday: Pat Bond rang up in the morning complaining that the lobby was a flop and that Paul Gilhooley did not put in an appearance. I think he decided to throw the job up some time ago. But as Bond and Jane Tate would not insist on his coming in on time, he thought he would keep this useful facility till his mother died, whereupon he wasted no time. I of course accepted his resignation at once, so that was that. But I wouldn’t have been opposed to giving him a few days’ work. When Pat Bond complained he was borrowing money from the bookshop, I told him either to lock the money up or tell him he mustn’t. Bond drew a long sigh and said, “Yes – I’ll have to have a row with him.” And that’s typical. He can’t even imagine being polite but firm. However Chris Maguire has started getting the “Democrat” into Public Libraries and I have asked Charlie Cunningham to come back. Pat Bond couldn’t do this organisation building because he just lacks the imagination. I am quite sure something could have been made of Paul Gilhooley if he had been shown what to do.
I received from David & Charles four sheets of the first edition of the 1″ Ordinance Surveys and was looking at the one covering the Wirral. I was surprised not to see the railway track that ran through Storeton Woods, but there is one running eastward from the quarry. I had always assumed it was one railway. Perhaps the shore was brought Eastwards until there were further developments. The railway shown on the map ran to Bromborough Pool, but no jetty is marked. Strangely enough I remember those rails which were still there in about 1927 when Donal Magee and I used to play damning and diverting a stream which ran from a spring in the quarry area. One day we took Dj., to whom we gave an “uncivilised” area upstream. He was a year or two younger – about 12. We would be 13. He built an enormous dam, then let the water out and flooded all our earthworks. But he had not thought of the further consequences. An irate householder appeared on the scene. His wife had not been able to get out of her back door, which the stream flooded past. Another thing that interested me was that the Runcorn Bridge was not built, and to go from Liverpool to London you must go through Chester or Warrington.
February 1 Sunday (London/Liverpool): I had a heavy day. I caught the 9.40 to Euston and took a taxi to the Standing Committee. Those present included Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Stella Bond – although she is not a member, something Paddy Bond tolerates readily though he cut off the membership of Chris Sullivan and Charlie Cunningham, which I made them put back – Pat Bond himself, and Sean Burke. There was once more no sign of Paul Gilhooley, though they said he had been into the office on Saturday night and had borrowed £10. My God! I would not tolerate that. Anyway, it is beginning to come round and the demoralisation is over. In the evening the lecture was quite well attended, admittedly owing to Pat Bond’s telephone effort. The Lowrys from Liverpool have moved to London and have joined. Egon was there [ie. one of his Dublin friend Cathal MacLiam’s sons, then living temporarily in London], also Chris Maguire and Charlie Cunningham, who I think will become active. He was left in the cold because of Pat Bond’s bureaucratic nonsense. And there were some young people there. If only we could find an organiser who wasn’t an incompetent. But Noel Harris told me that his Union pays the office boy £9000 a year! Flann Campbell ran me up to Euston. It was freezing in London but raining at Crewe and I reached 124 Mount Road by walking from Rock Ferry and arriving about 12.10 am. Indeed a heavy day.
Egon told me that Killian[ie. his younger brother and the youngest of the five MacLiam children] is in London. He doesn’t know what he is doing and is totally wild. “Of all of them he most takes after Cathal,” I said. “That’s what my mother says,” said Egon. I took the 8.50 back. Robbie Rossiter was there
[He was a longstanding CA member in London].
February 2 Monday (Nottingham): I took the 3.10 to Crewe and on to Nottingham where Josephine Logan met me at the station with a Polytechnic teacher whose name I forget, and her mother. The two of them are Liverpool Irishwomen. After a quick drink we went to the meeting she had called to start the Connolly Association again. There were 15 there and quite a few expressed interest. Half of them were under thirty. One of the CP was there and brought good wishes from John Peck [ie. the local CPGB secretary /organiser]. After it was over Josephine Logan, the Polytechnical man, the mother and a young fellow called Michael Boyle, went to the Irish Centre, which is now on the south side of the town. I stayed with Josephine Logan’s mother.
February 3 Tuesday (Liverpool): At 9 am. Josephine Logan and the Polytechnic called and drove me to Ripley. She seems an exceptionally good woman, a mature student doing a PhD in Social Psychology. They know Tom Paulin but think his poetry is incomprehensible. So do I. But his heart’s in the right place. The paper was ready, but there were one or two gaps, so that I did not get away till 3 pm. There were no buses, but I got a taxi.
It was interesting this morning to note the outlook of the Logan family. The mother buys the “Morning Star” and wouldn’t be without it. Today it records the almost unanimous vote of the Surrey District Committee to dismiss that unconscionable fellow Myant from his post as District Secretary. He told them the E.C. would not accept it. But of course their authority is crumbling. To have to employ an editor as District Secretary shows grave weakness – as it does in the Connolly Association! Now the attitude of Mrs Logan (I’m not sure this is her name) and her branch is that they will continue to buy the “Morning Star” and not get involved in any squabbling. I always found Peck decent enough, but he was committed to the absurd electoral policy. There must still be a big element of “silent majority“[ie. in the mainstream CPGB despite extensive disquiet at the official policy line and the resultant divisions] and following Gorbachev’s reforms an opportunity might come later. Then I might “fire a shot” [ie. take a relevant initiative. This was the phrase Belfast Trades Council chairman Billy McCullough had used when informing Greaves that he had decided to call a civil rights conference under the Trades Council’s auspices in 1965].
February 4 Wednesday: The weather had now turned mild again. A queer winter. At midday Barney Morgan called in bringing in some publicity from the “Merseyside and North Wales” faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners, for an “International Conference” on the health implications of the radiochemical pollution of the Irish Sea, which is to be held at Southport on March 14th and 15th. The telephone came on shortly afterwards and I rang Joe O’Grady asking him to get me some copies of our report. This is no doubt the consequence of our initiative.
In mid-afternoon Stella Bond rang. With characteristic ham-fisted unimaginativeness, Pat Bond had written to Paul Gilhooley telling him not to borrow money from the bookshop. He had telephoned Stella or Pat Bond – who had also upbraided him for not attending the lobby and the meetings – saying he was resigning from the Connolly Association and wanted nothing more to do with it. “That means we’ll lose the young people round him.” Of course it was my place, not Bond’s, to write to him. I had been ready for some such event but wanted any provocation to come from the other side. What an interfering ass Pat Bond is! I wanted to enlist Paul Gilhooley in the task of superseding himself. Now he is given an opportunity to cause mischief. Seemingly Paul is working for the ILEA but they keep a week’s wages in hand. There is of course no excuse for his behaviour, but stupidity in the way Pat Bond acted.
February 5 Thursday: A letter came from Pat Bond. He gave an account of what he had written to Paul Gilhooley. The whole thing is so typical. Apparently the young fellow had been going into the shop when Bond was not there and had borrowed over £50. Now of course Bond should have acted long ago by speaking to him. He wrote to Paul Gilhooley that he was “dismayed” that he had borrowed another £10. One of his sentences was, “I must point out that the bookshop is not under any obligation to provide you with money, and I cannot allow you to take any more.” He went on, “I am also dismayed not to see you at the lobby, Standing Committee or history lecture, in each case without apology/explanation. What is the London Committee doing?” In dealing with the money he was within his rights, but in raising the other questions he was interfering in my work. And he adds, moreover, that he has keys to the office and the Connolly Association banner. The daft things people do! It was vital to speak, not to write. I told him to see if Gerry Curran could get the things off him. Barney Morgan called in at midday.
A letter came from Peter O’Connor in Waterford. Biddy collapsed in the kitchen on January 19th and has been in hospital ever since. He asked me to inform WA [full name unknown], Bob Doyle, Joe Monks and James [Family name indecipherable], which I did. The phone sometimes works and sometimes does not. Oliver Snoddy rang saying he’d be in Liverpool on Saturday. And Niall Power wanted me to review the MacSwiney lectures, but as I gave one of them, I can’t. I put him on to Gerry Curran. I wanted Paul Gilhooley to fade out, not stump out, but Pat Bond called him “an impossible person to work with” and isn’t sorry he’s gone.
February 6 Friday: It was bright, fine and mild today. It will make a hole in the winter. I cleared up the front room and burnt some of the reams of bumph that comes through the door. I spoke to Jane Tate on the telephone (during one of the lucid moments) and she was appalled at Pat Bond’s apparent ham-fistedness. She guessed the young fellow was really short of money. His new employers keep a week’s pay in hand, possibly a month. Probably that is why he did not show up. But Pat Bond as well as having the arrogance of the aristocrat, in which he is getting worse, has never been short of money in his life and has no conception of what it is like. She also pointed out that his action was ultra vires. At the very least he should have consulted. Later I spoke to Gerry Curran. I had arranged for Jane to send me a copy of the circular for the London meeting and I told Gerry I would send it to Paul Gilhooley, urging him to attend, and saying Pat Bond’s letter was unauthorised and that the Standing Committee was not consulted. I haven’t much long-term hopes of him, but as Gerry Curran said, “Don’t push him out.” Gerry will ring him up around Tuesday.
February 7 Saturday: I presume Oliver Snoddy failed to get through to me, though Pat Bond managed it. He is quite un-self-critical about his ructions with Paul Gilhooley. It seems that someone came into the office, paid him £50 and asked for an account of what else he owed. That was all that Pat Bond was concerned with. He is quite sure he was right. He is intellectually aged. He has the attribute that J. Godolphin Bennett used to give men over seventy: that he cannot see any view of anything but his own [Bennett was a manager in Powell Duffryn when Greaves worked there as a research chemist following World War 2. He was an exponent of the theosophical system of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky]. He says of Paul Gilhooley that “He doesn’t want him back.” The only person in any of his calculations is himself. He drives people away and collects more responsibility himself and then offers the groans of the martyr, while making the organisation more and more dependent on him. Now I’ve got to try to organise a London committee without a secretary. At the very least Paul Gilhooly had a pair of hands.
A letter came from J.G. Burrup in Salt Lake City. He had received mine, but seemingly not yet the photostats. He described his genealogy. Joseph was converted to Mormonism in or around 1887. Now I think William Greaves died in 1916. So it does look as if he was Joseph’s first cousin. Burrup says Joseph’s son was John. He was Burrup’s great-grandfather, and his son was Harley, who attended the wedding of CEG and AEG in 1912 while on a mission, and gave his name to Harley Greaves. Burrup refers to “Uncle Cy”, but I suspect he would be a great uncle. Possibly he is Harley’s son.
I also heard from Tony Coughlan. Their court case is costing them £50,000 as a minimum, and if they are saddled with Government costs it will be worse. But he seems cheerful enough and is satisfied at delaying the implementation of the Treaty[ie. the Single European Act] and at the mounting impatience in Brussels.
February 8 Sunday: I wrote to Paddy Bond mildly rebuking him off for his nonsense with Paul Gilhooley. I also wrote to Gilhooley saying Pat Bond’s letter was not authorised. I didn’t know whether we’ll get anything out of him, but any of his cronies who may wish to stay with us will see clearly that any break is his fault. I sent a few letters but for most of the day the telephone was dead. I got to the Irish Centre early and we had a useful lecture from John McGurk [He was a lecturer in history in Liverpool]. Some of his students came, and also Alan Morton 2 and some of his. We might pick up useful members in this field. Both McGurk and Alan Morton 2 are taking parties to Dublin. Michael Mortimer was there and brought JMo’s [ie. his daughter’s] cover design for the pamphlet, which seems quite good [ie. John Boyd’s pamphlet on the EEC ]. Pat Doherty was there and his son Barry, Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan and the mot. With the two last named I went for a meal in a Spanish restaurant on Hardiman Street. This is Barney’s “Adino” – Michael Mortimer’s favourite.
February 9 Monday: I posted off the proofs and the cover of Boyd’s pamphlet to Ripley. Again the telephone was off.
February 10 Tuesday: It was bright but cooler. I stayed in, did some clearing up and wrote some letters. Eric Taplin had asked about a pamphlet on Larkin that Sexton sued the publishers of. I also wrote to John Boyd about the pamphlet, and Brian Stowell about attending a conference on the pollution of the Irish Sea to be called by the Merseyside & North Wales Practitioners. This almost certainly results from our initiative. I also wrote to Gerry Curran.
There was good news from Glasgow. Margaret Byrne got 20 at her meeting on Sunday and three new members joined.
February 11 Wednesday: From Nottingham came good news of a successful meeting on Sunday. I replied to Josephine Logan and posted off the other letters. But I have been having trouble with my eyes again and fear it may be the retina. I arranged to have my spectacles checked on Friday and if there is no speedy change I will take medical advice. So I must go easy on the engagements.
February 12 Thursday: The proofs of John Boyd’s pamphlet came this morning. I corrected and returned them, sending a copy to John. I also wrote to Peter Mulligan, Chris Maguire, Margaret Byrne and Oliver Snoddy. On the telephone Stella Bond told me that Jane Tate still has to spend hours at the hospital and is not yet right by a long way. Apparently the wrist was broken very badly, with jagged bones that will not fit into place, and there is still swelling. This means I have nobody to duplicate for me. An invitation came from Brain Latham in Manchester.
February 13 Friday: I plunged knee deep into trouble today. As a hors d’oeuvre there was an asinine letter from Pat Bond. What an apolitical arrogant po-head! And we’re dependent on him! Every thought in his brain revolves round himself. He informed me that while it is true that he interferes in other people’s work, it is all for the good of the Association. Secondly, people must accept him for what he is, as he doesn’t propose to change. In sum, the Association is his private fiefdom. I rang Jane Tate and she agreed with me. One of his grandiose sentences declared that he “had no objection” to Paul Gilhooley remaining as a member of the Connolly Association (What right has he to proscribe it?) but he didn’t want him as secretary of an appointed London Committee. The London Committee should be elected. The unconscionable ass! What a blithering idiot! Jane Tate said to me that here we were trying to avoid any possibility of Paul Gilhooley leaving and blackening the Connolly Association, even leaning over backwards, and he charges in like a bull in a china shop. Of course I don’t expect Paul Gilhooley to do anything. But I have to pretend I do. And the bumptious self-righteousness of the man! And to illustrate his babydom, Jane Tate (in my opinion mistakenly) rang Stella to ask if Pat Bond had got some youngsters to prepare the room for tomorrow’s meeting. “Oh,” said the dutiful wife, “He’s been told not to interfere in other people’s work.”! Setting out a few chairs! I could do it myself while he was squabbling. I think the man is neurotic. Everything is himself, himself, himself.
Anyway, that was a small part of it. I went to have my eyes tested and I must say I was very favourably impressed by the young man – a science graduate – who did the job. There was no problem about the focus, and he took my point about a short-focus reading lens, but on testing the eyes for pressure of the aqueous humour, he found it dangerously high, and will suggest to McKay that I should consult an eye specialist. So God knows what train of trouble will come in the wake of this. I decided to enjoy myself while I could and went for a bloody good meal in the city, and took a few sips of wine and vodka.
I saw from the “Morning Star” that George Thomson had died [George Thomson, 1903-87, Professor of Greek at Birmingham, Irish scholar and CPGB supporter]. When I was in Birmingham Tony McNally told me he was virtually paralysed, but lucid. People are being bumped off on a vast scale.
February 14 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I took the 11.25 to London and attended the meeting of London members I called in view of Paul Gilhooley’s collapse. Of course Pat Bond’s nonsense didn’t help. He was not there, thank God, but couldn’t keep his hands off it. He had sent Charlie Cunningham a set of instructions, telling him what should be brought up at the meeting. It approaches megalomania. At the same time he had refused to help with organising the meeting because he wouldn’t be there himself. What can you do? Anyway, it was a success. Charlie Cunningham was there, and Jane Tate, and Gerry Curran, Sean Burke, Peter Walsh, a young man called Moriarty [ie. Martin Moriarty] and an NCP from South London, Pat O’Donohue, and Michael O’Donnell. The spirit was very constructive. I explained the position and said, “Now what are we going to do?” Charlie Cunningham and Michael O’Donnell were the most constructive. But young Moriarty showed he had ideas. Two new members were there. The girl was all right, but I had an uneasy feeling about the man. He had that hang-dog introspective air that characterises some of the Trotsky fraternity. I would say Pat O’Donohue has developed considerably. He asked me about the Pat Bond/Paul Gilhooley row and when I told him he commented, “So he lost Paul and lost his £90 as well.” It was not that bad, I told him, he had got £50 back. But none of Paul’s supporters were there and Pat Bond’s ridiculous pettishness has probably lost us half a dozen members. But Jane Tate says that Bond can wear quite a different aspect when dealing with the outside world. So nobody knows what we have to put up with. However, he works hard. So we have to thole him. I was encouraged by the meeting. There is plenty of good material in the Connolly Association.
February 15 Sunday: There was a white frost this morning, but the afternoon was quite pleasant. After mid-February the sun begins to recover some healing power. I wrote one or two letters and rang Jane Tate. She tells me Pat Bond rang up this morning. It seems that young Moriarty works on the “Morning Star” and was not a Pat Bond contact but a friend of Paul Gilhooley. But he works on the “Morning Star” and she thinks he is a journalist. This means that like Paul he will be ex-CP. She didn’t think much of the NCP young man M. Barry, but I was quite favourably impressed.
Talking about the “Morning Star”, I had an appeal to invest £1,000 in it. I did not respond. I’m still not pleased with them over that Trask affair [It is not known what that was]. But more recently – indeed yesterday – came an appeal from Liverpool. They want to raise £250,000 share capital by June. The signatures include Beth Sareen, whom I knew in the thirties as Beth Carr, the best of the teachers. And another was Percy Whiteside from the same address as Denis Anderson. They are only asking for tenners, and also I’m “not speaking” to them. So I’ll respond. It is interesting how many of the old stagers are with the “Morning Star” and have presumably – some of them at any rate – left the CP. Of course the Gorbachev reforms look like making a difference. It becomes increasingly clear that the stagnation of world socialism corresponded with errors committed in establishing it in its primary centre. I remember telling Professor Siegmund-Schultze that some time the Russians would have to “come clean” about Stalin, and it looks as if the new man is going to do it. What a situation where a semi-fascist like Reagan or Thatcher can afford to lecture a socialist country on “human rights”.
February 16 Monday: I can’t get anything duplicated in London because Jane Tate has not yet recovered the use of her wrist. But I bethought me of John Gibson and went in to see him at the shop. He said he had no equipment there, but could do it at home. So that was excellent. I then met Joe O’Grady and we made one or two arrangements.
February 17 Tuesday: I collected the circulars from the shop where John Gibson had left them. But in the evening came a telephone call from Margaret Byrne asking to go to Glasgow on Monday. And for the first time I remember I had to decline an engagement on medical grounds. God knows what wreckage of my carefully planned six months activity will go by the board. The only hopeful thing is that I have a slight feeling that the pressure in the eyes has fallen. I will get as much done as possible and see McKay on Thursday or tomorrow, or at least ring him. Pat Bond rang up and seemed in a reasonable mood. There is nothing at all bad about him, but he drives you up the wall. Everything is personalised.
February 18 Wednesday: A certain amount of material having arrived on time, I started work on the paper. I don’t think the pressure on the eyes is quite as heavy as on Monday, but it is worse than yesterday. I will ring the doctor tomorrow.
February 19 Thursday: I rang the Health Centre and arranged to see Dr O’Shea tomorrow. Then I finished four pages and told Margaret Byrne that I would go to Glasgow after all. I also spoke to Paul Salveson.
February 20 Friday: Today was the day when, as I feared, ruin struck, though one hopes not total ruin. I saw Dr O’Shea, who struck me as a decent competent woman. From the start I felt I would prefer a woman anyway. She treated the thing with great seriousness, told me the trouble was unquestionably glaucoma, and rang up Arrowe Park Hospital and arranged for them to see me right away. There were no taxis at Rock Ferry, but I took the underground to Hamilton Square and got one there. The specialist’s name was Ainley, but he was an Indian, or at least from that sub-continent. Again I thought I was fortunate. Apparently my sight has not deteriorated but could do. Then there was a session with a slit-lamp ophthalmoscope and God knows what. Drops were put in my eyes and I was given two sets of pills and a phial of drugs. So I was from now on to be a slave to the routine of constant medication. Damn! I told the very considerate little nurse that I was disappointed that my eyes had let me down – Dr O’Shea had foreshadowed two operations and seemed very concerned. But the nurse said, “It may have been caught in time. That’s the important thing, and the drops will control it.” I was of course pleased to keep my sight, and certainly the flashes of light whenever I went into a dark room ceased to trouble me. But I felt “shaken” and went into the city to buy food and drink half a litre of wine which had no effect on me although I had not eaten a bite all day. So I went into the Central Hotel outside Birkenhead Central and had a couple of “gin and t’s”, before going to tell Margaret Byrne that I can’t go to Glasgow because I must go to the hospital again on Tuesday. So I suppose I can say that’s the end of the recapitulation and what remains is the coda! I wrote to Margaret Byrne and Alan Morton, also to Gerry Curran who might have to get the paper out. So this was the worst day since Phyllis died. Another thing I did was to buy a magnifying mirror for drop operations. I don’t know whether I should be drinking a bottle of wine tonight, but I’m going to!
February 21 Saturday: I went on with the paper and have only one page to do except for the main lead. I thought the eyes were better. One of the symptoms is a phosphene – a flashing of light when I go into the dark. This has hardly happened today. I told Margaret Byrne I could not go to Glasgow. She was concerned about the eyes and said she knew a woman who had it for some years and had to put drops in her eyes every day. Of course the thing I am anxious to avoid is an operation. Dr O’Shea held out no hope that it could be avoided. The specialist, as is the wont of such, said nothing but is probably seeing what he can do without it. The nurse said the drops would be sufficient. I presume the tablets are designed to dehydrate the eyes, and the drops to open up the ducts.
A thing struck me. The specialist asked me if anybody in my family had had glaucoma, and I said No. It struck me now that my paternal grandfather, William Greaves, who died in 1916, went blind in his old age and it could well have been glaucoma. Of course I do not know that it was. He was a master tailor and his blindness was attributed to his occupation. But if it was indeed glaucoma – the commonest dangerous eye complaint affecting 5% of the population – I would have an explanation. The reflection is an odd one. I remember old William Greaves eating at the house when CEG [ie. his father]˙ was in the army and bringing me “black-currant ovals”, which were rather expensive sweets. I used to be bubbling with energy and saying, “Look, grandpa,” and he would reply, “It’s no use, sonny, I can’t see,” and I remember my elders explaining what it was like to be blind. And so I am now linked with those ancient days by the long arm of causality, with the difference that I may preserve my sight, bar accidents, and in his day there wasn’t the technique.
February 22 Sunday: I did some more on the paper, then in the evening gave a very well-attended lecture on Wolfe Tone. Alan Morton 2 was there, and John McGurk, Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan and Tony Birtell, but no Michael Mortimer. There were no flashes of light across the retina when I went into the dark, so the treatment seems to be beginning to work. When I was going into the hospital on Tuesday, Barney Morgan asked what time and regretted that this was during his meeting.
February 23 Monday: I finished the paper in the morning, and posted it off in the afternoon. I also called the E.C. [ie. the Connolly Association Executive Committee]. I spoke to Jane Tate in the morning and told her the latest, and all the excitements. Later Pat Bond rang. Had I inserted an advert for the London lectures? He had driven away Paul Gilhooley whose job it was to do it. One would think that in decency he would do it himself. I said I am sure Jane Tate would do and said she would also remind John Hoffman[the political philosopher from Leicester]. In his piteous martyr’s groan he said, “Oh – God. I’ll have to do that tonight”– the implication being “because nobody else will and I’m so noble.” I concluded he didn’t know about my eyes since he hadn’t asked the first question any normal person would. But he had. “I believe you’ve had some trouble with your eyes.” “Indeed.” “Ah well, nothing can be done about it.” He didn’t care a snap! “Well,” says I, “I hope something can be done about it.” He didn’t say he was sorry but mumbled, “Anything I can do?” as much as to make sure not to ask.
Later I spoke to Jane Tate and she told me what had passed. Stella gave her the impression that I wanted Jane to place the advertisement and ring John Hoffman. “You see how they stir it up,” said Jane. Whenever Jane suggests something it is, “Paddy is too busy.” He is having a jamboree for the publican O’Neill next week. He did not consult the committee. But it will afford an opportunity for him to display himself as the big fellow. Jane had been in the hospital and asked about glaucoma. They said it is not terribly serious except when a patient is a diabetic; then it is very serious. She said Gerry Curran had been trying to ring me.
Later Alan Morton rang. He said quite a lot about glaucoma and much of it somewhat set my mind at rest. He did not think Dr O’Shea’s confident assertion that there must be surgery was correct. He only had it after two years and one of the specialists was against it. But Alisoun Morton has been very ill and had a return of glandular fever, which is the cause of all her troubles.
One final thing. Gerry Curran had spoken to Paul Gilhooley, who told him he didn’t intend to leave the Connolly Association, but was wild at Pat Bond’s attitude.
February 24 Tuesday: I went into town. No taxis at the rank. Mercifully one came by and I went to Arrowe Park [ie. the hospital]. Joe O’Grady had said to me, “The first time you go they see you at once. After that you’re there all day.” This was true, and I had time to observe the state of affairs. I saw consultants wheeling bed-ridden patients into cubicles. There were clinics galore, if clinic is the right word for the little consulting rooms they have. Most of them were unmanned, and I’ll swear when I got there, there were fifty people waiting. Anyway, all went well. Of course in this absurd reactionary feudal medical system you are told the reason for nothing. Thanks to a scientific education I can usually make a guess. There was a “test” where you sit in front of a black board scattered with tiny electric bulbs. From the insistence of the doctor to “keep looking at the centre” I presumed this was to test peripheral vision which can be lost in cases of glaucoma. Why could they not say so? The patient would be more likely to comply if he knew what he was complying for. I don’t think there is any reason other than the ethics of feudalism. My God! How this country needs a revolution. Unfortunately, it is not going to get one. Its inhabitants are too corrupt. Anyway, after that the main consultant did his tests – I don’t think there is any loss of peripheral vision – and merely told me to squint through a slit-lamp, pronounced himself satisfied and told me to cut out the pills but put in extra drops. I went to the opticians and got the new glasses, the best I have ever had. He said, “Did you go to your doctor?” “I did,” I said, “and I’ve been to the specialist twice.” By God,” he said, “there’s not many move as fast as that. Some of them leave it six months. Was it glaucoma?” “It was.” Of course the man’s a scientist. So, though I’m not out of the wood, things are looking up, for the next appointment is for March 24th.
February 25 Wednesday: I wrote one or two letters and the practical difficulties of the situation began to show up. I have one set of drops four times a day, another twice. The longest period I can be on the move is four hours. How then am I going to do the meeting at Blackburn on March 12th? At midday Barney Morgan came in to see how I got on at the hospital. “I’m glad you don’t have to go in,” he said, though of course Dr O’Shea could be right. The drugs may not work. Later Gerry Curran rang also asking how I was. He had rung Paul Gilhooley. Pat Bond rang him saying he couldn’t understand why I had said that Gerry Curran should ring him up. He told Bond what Paul Gilhooley had said, that he didn’t want to leave the Connolly Association, and his quarrel was solely with Pat Bond. There was a minute’s dead silence. I think there is something frightened in Pat Bond. The faintest hint of criticism sets him off. I told Gerry what Pat Bond had said about the possibility of my eyesight seriously deteriorating. He remarked, “The classical case of that was when Jane was in hospital with a badly broken wrist. Pat Bond never once rang up to ask how she was. But he rang to ask, “How will you be fixed in June? I want to take my holiday then.” He had no reason to be sure she’d even be alive in June.” He had telephoned several times without success, but would be prepared to bring out the paper if I had to “go in”. Incidentally I heard from Jane Tate that young Martin Moriarty, whom I wrote to, is going to organise the Central London meeting. He went into the shop for addresses.
February 26 Thursday: Fred Brown from next door knocked in the morning when I was only up and in my bare feet. He knocked so insistently that I went and opened the door. Was I alright? I was. “Well Jean asked me to call as your light is on and we thought you might have collapsed like Mrs Marsden.” I called when I was dressed and after a cup of tea. Jean was there and she is more articulate [ie. Jean Hack, Mrs Fred Brown]. It seems nobody saw Mrs Marsden for several days. After the “meals on wheels” man had had no answer, Mary Liddel of No 118 and Jean found a key which Mrs Marsden hides and found nobody in the house, but a load of torn-up papers and a ladder in the bedroom. They wondered if she had had an accident and gone to hospital and finally traced her in Arrowe Park. She suffers from senile dementia. Jean went to see her. She could only stay ten minutes. “How did you get here?” “In the bus.” Her arm was broken in a fall, but she could not remember it. Then a few minutes later she talked of lying on the pavement with a crowd around her and added, “It was very nice in the ambulance.” Then she said, “Somebody stole my purse, so I want you to take all my money back home.” “But if your purse was stolen, how have you got money?” “Oh – I found it again. It had fallen on the floor.” Jean still does not know how she got into hospital. But she has friends in Bebington and possibly she fell off that ladder late at night – she was admitted at 8 pm. – and some noises Jean heard while in bed may have been the Bebington friends calling for something she wanted. Jean asked about the torn paper. “Ah Yes. I was clearing up ready for Christmas.” Jean says that last summer she told her she had seen Mount Road covered with vast flocks of birds. “What?” said Jean, “Walking?” “Yes – I must be going off my head. But I can’t be. There were lots of people. They were very oddly dressed and they’d come to see the birds.” Jean thinks she had taken pills, possibly two or three time and was hallucinating. She thinks she should not come home, for she does not know the day of the week and goes out at 6 pm. thinking it is 7 am. She will set the house on fire. A pity. She’s a decent little woman, aged about 85.
As for myself, I went to the bank, read the North-West District CP report and Connolly’s play, “Under which Flag”, which I think has been substantially doctored, so must get the original, and shot drops into my eyes. I think we could publish the play. A letter from Pat Bond stated that he “sincerely” regretted my eye troubles. Actually he finds it easy to sleep on another man’s wound. But God help him, he’s wounds of his own. He told me that Paul Gilhooley was not leaving, so he doesn’t seem to have suspected my diplomacy in that regard, though I willingly concede that he must not be London Secretary. Anyway, I’ve removed that policy by re-organising. I rang up Paul Salveson asking information of the Bolton booking. The last few weeks have been bitterly cold, but tonight I saw condensation on the outside of the windows, so it was a trifle milder.
For months past streams of water have been issuing from a spring in the gutter of Mount Road in front of No.124, though for a time it was in the middle of the road. Workmen came at last and for the past few days they have been digging. One of them told me today that they had found the main, but it was intact. The break must be somewhere up the Bugginholes Road, and there is an underground stream from that point.
February 27 Friday: I got £144 in royalties today, more than I expected. Now that my eye trouble is likely to limit my enjoyment of it, I am at present not short of finance. Of course my tastes are not extravagant. I do account for every pound, but I am running a “budget surplus”. I went into town to Parry’s bookshop. They hand out tokens for peoples’ bags and there were four truckloads of police outside the student union.
I had arranged to go to Ripley on Tuesday. Suddenly I bethought me of the six instillations a day. I can’t give them on trains and buses. I rang Gerry Curran, who immediately agreed to give up a day’s leave and go. And Pat Bond was asking how I was – I caught Gerry at Pat Bond’s bookshop party. He is in his element. I also spoke to Joe O’Grady, who had been trying to get me, and finally Cathal, who says Tony Coughlan and Crotty are now at the Supreme Court and the three hundred million people are still waiting! There has been a spectacular change in the weather. After weeks of near freezing temperatures, it was about 55F in the afternoon. The Water Board engineers must have tracked their leak, as the road is now dry.
February 28 Saturday: Another fine mild day. March is coming in like a lamb – I think a bad sign. The daffodils are pushing up their snaky heads. It is surely light that starts the plants off, not warmth. And now there is a as much light as in mid-October. I did quite a bit of clearing up. I don’t really know if the drops I am assiduously popping into my eyes are making any difference or not, though the eyes feel easier. I still see an occasional phosphene going into a dark room. I rang Jane Tate. If the train is on time I will go to Marchmont Street – that creates a drops problem. I’ll have to pop into the toilet at a stop. But if the train is early as it was twice recently I can go to Jane Tate’s. I’m most anxious to avoid “hospitalisation”. Just imagine it, with April 19th, the C.A. conference and June 6th all in the pipeline! I wrote to Kneafsey and parcelled up the proofs of his pamphlet for Oliver Snoddy, warning him not to alter it. Alan Morton told me David’s opinion that in glaucoma the great enemy is constipation. So I am revolutionising my diet, with lots of sprouts, pamphreys and calabrese. For I thought I had a touch of it for some time. I spoke to Joe O’Grady who is coming tomorrow. Margaret Byrne told me she had six at her meeting on Monday and they meet again tomorrow.
March 1st Sunday (London/Liverpool): I splashed drops in my eyes at 8 am., then went for the 9.55 to Euston. Joe O’Grady was on it. I did another sprinkling ceremony before the E.C. at 2.30 – and again in the toilet of the train before it left Euston at 7.25. Those present were Pat Bond, Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, John Boyd, a new young fellow, friend of Paul Gilhooly, Martin Moriarty(MM2) and Paul himself, with Pat O’Donohue and Tony Donaghey. On the whole it was a fruitful meeting. We took decisions about John Boyd’s pamphlet and the one by Oliver Snoddy, the builders’ conference, the Bolton conference and the date of the annual conference. Paul Gilhooley was very subdued and hardly said a thing. Flann Campbell was there.
March 2 Monday: I did some correspondence, then went into the city and saw John Gibson who had some duplicating for me. I was asking about the earliest members of the CA in Liverpool, in particular the Carroll family. Apparently Jimmy, the youngest, went to London at the age of 22 and linked up with Ewan MacColl in the “Singers Club”. Of the later part of that period probably Kath McLoughlin is the sole survivor. Then there was Bill Bishop in Birkenhead.
March 3 Tuesday: In the morning Gerry Curran rang from Ripley. The main lead was not there. I could not say whether it had gone missing at the printers or whether in all the fuss and bother over the glaucoma I had omitted to send it. I seem to remember writing it all right, but it does not seem to be lying about here. Anyway I wrote another and telephoned it. Later I met Joe O’Grady, after failing to contact Michael Mortimer, though I doubt if we’ll see much of him now anyway. Cold weather again.
March 4 Wednesday: When I got up a shocking sight awaited my eyes – snow. Mercifully it melted at midday when Barney Morgan called to tell me he could run me out to Blackburn next Thursday. He said he thought the CPGB was “finished”. He has not, I think, bothered to re-join. But he also thought Mrs Thatcher will get back on the strength of the demoralisation she has caused. Private Nursing Homes and Old Peoples’ Homes are springing up all over the Wirral. The nurses all dream of owning one and ending their days in plenty. It is like the dream of “winning the pools”. But they want the thought that they might. So they are now saying, “If Labour gets in all these will be closed down.” and the dream of affluence has evaporated – sadly missed though only a dream.
I went into Birkenhead and got 50 copies of a circular for London members. The trouble is that there is not a single political head amongst the lot of them. Probably the best politically is Gerry Curran, but he is too easy-going. I wrote to George Davies saying I would see him in Blackburn. I rang Joe Finnerty, who said he would be prepared to attend the Southport pollution conference [Finnerty taught science at the university].
March 5 Thursday: I took the 10.03 train to Manchester and called on the secretary of the Trades Council, David Hawkins. I must say I was much more favourably impressed than when I first met him. He agreed to be the chairman at the Bolton conference, and also undertook to do a circularisation for us, and I think he will do it. George Davies expressed a high opinion of him. When I said we were short of a duplicator he went into the “Morning Star” circulation room next door and arranged for them to give us a spare one gratis. He is kicked out of the CP and is busy with the Communist Campaign Group. He told us that in November when there is no change in the CP, they intend to pronounce the whole thing bogus and start their own party. “Then you’ll have three,” I said. “How three?” “The CPGB, the NCP and you.” He complained that the NCP [ie. New Communist Party] in their unity proposals made the condition that the Communist Campaign Group should abandon the “British Road to Socialism”. This could not be done. They are of course swearing that the McLennan leadership has gone astray by ceasing to worship this sacred cow. “This is not, never was, and never could be a British road to socialism,” I said. I admitted I did not see this at the time. And I think making a few genuflections in that direction is permissible. I always remember that the Dutch drove out the Spaniards from the Netherlands under the slogan, “Long live King Philip”.
Of course the weakness of the Communist Campaign Group is that they exist to modify the policy of something they are no longer in, and it is logical for them to try to regularise their position [ie. by establishing themselves as a distinct political party]. I explained to him my own position. I am not going to resign, but if I’m kicked out, I will not champ with grief and rage. I propose to work with anybody who will work with me, but I will not link with the CCG because of its interference in CP affairs. If I did that I could not logically remain in it. My discussions with Michael O’Riordan about international action to resolve the “Euro-crisis” – I favouring the USA, he Cuba – were brought back to my mind by a passage in the “Manchester Guardian”. Apparently Gorbachev had mooted the idea of a new International “not dominated by the Soviet Union in a discussion with the Argentinian leader. He spoke of the results abroad of the revolution taking place in the USSR. That is what I have been thinking these last two years. Gordon McLennan was in Moscow recently. I wonder if it had any effect on him.
When I got back to Liverpool I rang Jane Tate to tell her about the duplicator. I suggested doing more advertising in the “Morning Star”. Later again Alan Morton rang to see how the eyes were. He was rather more optimistic than I feel, in the light of Dr O’Shea’s insistence that an operation will be necessary; for I still see occasional phosphenes. He thought the pressure would now be back to normal, and that a three-monthly check-up would be all that was necessary after March 24. Well, I hope so. Alisoun Morton is still in a bad way, but can drive her car again.
March 6 Friday: I sent off 50 notices for the meeting on the 14th [ie. a Connolly Association public meeting in London] and got some photocopying done in Birkenhead. Phil Mac Giolla Bháin, Scottish secretary of the Celtic League, had been asked by Conchuir to answer Purdie’s attack on me in “Radical Scotland“[ie. an attack by Bob Purdie,1940-2014, former member of the International Marxist Group, later a Scottish nationalist]. Mac Giolla Bháin wrote suggesting I “authorise” him to reply. But I told him I wanted nothing more to do with “Radical Scotland” who had obviously put up the whole job for the benefit of their Trotskyist friends. I will deal with him in some other way.
March 7 Saturday: Another snowy morning and wet sleet melting all over the place. Shocking! Indeed it went on all day and looked fair set for the night as well. Joe O’Grady rang to say he was booking Flann Campbell into the Shaftesbury. But there’ll be no audience if the weather does not improve. It is turning out a filthy winter. But bad weather at the beginning of March is not a bad sign, except insofar as all bad weather is a bad sign. I’d have been more apprehensive if the very mild weather had lasted. I’m religiously instilling eye drops but am uncertain of the results. I still see phosphenes (as I call them) on going into the dark, though not to the degree that I did. Alan Morton thinks this arises from pressure on the nerve. But his diagnosis is that eye pressure should be down to normal, unless of course I have some other condition as well. So confronted with the unmistakable fact of old age, and being caught at last, I am not exactly on top of the world. I remember Phyllis
complaining that she “couldn’t plan”.
At about 1.45 pm. Douglas Liddel called and asked me to go in to him at 2 pm. He had brought a local Councillor to talk about the proposed chip-shop that planning permission had been applied for. He had about a dozen or more more local people, plus Cllr. Smith. Nobody knew whether he was Tory or Labour, but he strongly supported the opposition. I’m not terribly concerned, but if the neighbours feel strongly about it, naturally I back them up. They have found a young fellow in his mid-twenties to make notes and speak at the meetings, possibly a student or young teacher. I think the Councillor took due note of the votes that were in it.
March 8 Sunday: Snow everywhere – melting and forming slush on the roads. What a filthy winter this has turned out. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning saying he had booked Flann Campbell in to the Shaftesbury – and wondering if anybody would come out. Jane Tate said there was snow in London too. She also said that Michael Crowe had been in hospital. We’re all falling to bits. He had, said she, suffered from piles for many years and had lost blood which, in her opinion but not mine, could not be replaced because the male, unlike the female, has not the capacity to regenerate it. So he had had a transfusion of two pints and felt better. She had noticed he was pale or even yellowish and certainly lacking in energy.
I sent off to Suttons and Thompson & Morgan for seeds, though I do not know whether I’ll be good for any gardening. And I wrote to Cathal, who sent me the preliminary Census Report and also told him about the trouble with the eyes. I did not say anything to Joe Deighan who has agreed to speak in Bolton. A few years ago, half in jest but not entirely, he bet me he’d outlive me. I didn’t reply then and I didn’t take the matter up now!
We had Flann Campbell speaking on John Mitchell and he was very good. John McGurk was there too, Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Veronica Gibson, Pat Doherty and Barry Doherty, the son, now living back at home. He told me that Brian Stowell had spoken to his union in Manchester on the pollution of the Irish Sea. There is a medical conference on the subject next week-end and Joe Finnerty is representing us. But there was no sign of Michael Mortimer. Flann Campbell brought me several more chapters of his book. He thinks he has a publisher in Dublin [Dr Flann Campbell, 1919-1994, was a long-standing member of the Connolly Association. Formerly in the CPGB, he was now in the Labour Party. The book referred to was “The Dissenting Voice: Protestant Democracy in Ulster from the Plantations to Partition”, 1991; an educationist, he was son of the Irish poet Joseph Campbell]. The attendance was better than I expected.
March 9 Monday: The weather continues cold, and there are still patches of yesterday’s early morning snow. The water men are still digging round the house. Weeks have gone by and they still can’t locate the leak. I’d have thought the obvious thing to do would be to uncover the main and excavate it in a systematic manner till they found where it was leaking. But they seem only to stab at it. Perhaps it will give them a job for life. I couldn’t get Michael Mortimer on the phone. I think that his secretarial operations are likely to be at an end. It is of course a scandal that he can’t get a job, and the officials have given him a subsidy to start his own business and be removed from the unemployment register. But it is also his own fault. Even when working as a lecturer he went round in scruffy jeans and anoraks. You’ve got to look like what you claim to be. I share his preference for “casual” clothes, but I always wear a nice suit for a public function, and one gets the impression that he has no conception of a career, but goes from year to year looking for something to get him through the next twelve months. Did one ever hear such nonsense as plunging into “South American Studies” when he didn’t know Spanish, and didn’t even know what a preposition was? He should build up his career brick by brick. But I’m sure he will not. I had a word with Brian Stowell who had written to the medicos who are running the pollution conference. He seemed pleased with the two meetings Barry Doherty had arranged for him.
March 10 Tuesday: I had a word with Barney Morgan and Joe O’Grady. I will send out the notices myself for the next two Liverpool meetings as Michael Mortimer seems to have collapsed. He may not be finding it too easy to make a living taxi-driving. I had a very nice letter from Charlie Cunningham expressing concern about the eye problem. I replied, I think possibly a trifle pessimistically. I was not too pleased with the phosphenes (as I call them) last night. But this afternoon I felt an improvement and in the evening there were very few phosphenes. Now Alan Morton says I could not have felt the pressure, or experienced relief, or if I did I had something else as well as glaucoma. But I am not sure. Just before going to the optician I would sit down and close my eyes with a sensation almost of throbbing in my eyes – though it wasn’t throbbing. I think it was a sensation of pressure. But I always know when something is wrong. When I scalded myself at Tregaron, suddenly I said, “that hand is getting better”, and cancelled my intention to go to Llanbedr pont steffan [ie. Lampeter]. The same was true when I injured my leg at Dolgoch. I knew when I could get up, but the young male nurse who was with me told me he wished he had the same faculty. And Alan Morton may lack it because he let the glaucoma go until his vision began to fail. So from feeling a bit despondent this morning, I perked up in the evening. Perhaps there is a sporting chance of keeping out of hospital. For that is my worry. I wrote to Gerry Curran and to Paul Salveson. According to Charlie Cunningham, Salveson rang London on Saturday and told Charlie he could get me a duplicator. So I can see which is the better. I sent Gerry Curran a marked copy of the paper showing the many misprints he had let pass. I told him to get a book on proof-reading.
Later on, however, possibly as I grew tired, the phosphenes returned. And this is a worry as it is a symptom of retinal detachment. However, I presume the specialist looked for this as well. I hope so!
March 11 Wednesday: In the morning Jane Tate rang up. Apparently there is a German living close to her who used to be the editor of the KPD [ie. the Communist Party of Germany] newspaper, and is writing a book about Ireland. He wants to see me. In the ordinary way I would see him in London, but with drops to be instilled six times a day and “hospitalisation” hanging over me, I said it would be best for him to come to Liverpool. So we fixed next Monday, when he rang up. Even so it will need some organisation. But I thought if I could instil at 8 am. and 12.15 I could catch a bus at 12.30 and reach Lime Street by 1 pm. Then I could be back by 6 pm. His name is Colden of Dusseldorf [ie. Wolfgang Colden].
It is an absolute curse that this eye trouble should have come on me just when the whole weight of the organisation is on me. Jane Tate cannot duplicate. As far as Liverpool is concerned Michael Mortimer is out of action. So I have to run the paper, and do the donkey work for all the campaigns. I wrote envelopes for Bolton and sent circulars out yesterday for Saturday’s meeting, and I’ve still to circularise Liverpool. I’m General Secretary, Editor, Press Officer and Liverpool secretary, and there is nobody of obvious ability in sight. I also have to call the annual conference.
A letter came from Phil MacGiolla Bháin, the Scottish secretary of the Celtic League. He is thinking of bringing Handley’s work up to date [ie. J.E. Handley, “The Irish in Scotland”, 1945] and asked about the history of the Connolly Association in Scotland. He offered to send “Radical Scotland” a reply to Bob Purdie. They somewhat grandly replied that the matter would be dealt with by “their own staff”. I did not go out. I will post things tomorrow. Though there was a spell when it was warm in the sunshine this afternoon, there are still vestigial patches of snow about and the constant East wind is icy. And it is a bad sign for the summer too.
March 12 Thursday: When I first got up I felt a little despondent, but during the morning I could not escape the feeling that the eyes felt better, despite Alan Morton’s swearing I couldn’t possibly tell and it must be something else. Kevin Nelson rang promising a speaker for April 1st. And I spoke to Barney Morgan and George Davies. Also Eric Fleming rang from Dublin about Saturday week.
At about 4.45 pm. Barney Morgan came and drove me to Darwin where we had a bite at George Davies’. He wants a World Communist Congress, and says Gus Hall is for it but the Russians against. I said it could be held on a limited basis with a view to patching up the Euro-mess. He spoke scathingly about Gordon McLennan who was saying the Russians were now doing what he told them all along. Actually there is an element of truth in this. The complaint is that he did not do it privately and broke up his own party.
Then we went to the meeting Michael Kneafsey had organised. Paul Salveson was there and talked about Davitt. I gave something of a “populist” speech which went down very well and brought me many glasses of whiskey – more than I could do with. There was a Father Hogan from Ribchester who was from Kerry and related to Madge Clifford [one of the early members of the Connolly Association in Liverpool]. And as the Liverpool Céilí band was there, there were other people we knew including McNamee. There is no doubt the thing has taken off and I think they will soon have an Irish Centre in Blackburn. On the way back we quite unaccountably missed the motorway at Bolton and went wandering through built-up Lancashire.
March 13 Friday: I got quite a bit done today. And in the evening I went to the Friends Meeting House, where “Pax Christi” had a Father Carlin who had started a community in Derry aimed at reconciliation. I am afraid he was of the monastic type – unlike Fr Hogan – who wanted the reward “Peace of Christ” rather than the peace of justice old Father Duffy used to advocate [ie. Fr Clarence Duffy, a Catholic priest who used be friendly to the CA in the past]. Barney Morgan was there, and Joe O’Grady and a few others we met at the Irish Centre. Barney Morgan went up to the Centre, but I came back, having to go to London tomorrow. I spoke to Jane Tate.
March 14 Saturday (London): I went to London on the 9.56 and tinkered with my eyes before I left, at Jane Tate’s at lunchtime, in the train on the way back and at 124 Mount Road. It is a tiresome business, and sometimes I think it is effective, at other times not. Jane Tate said my eyes “looked” more normal today, and certainly they feel it, but I noticed no difference in appearance. There were phosphenes when I left the light of the underground, but not after I had used the last drops. How far the thing has driven into my consciousness is shown by the fact that I twice dreamedof seeing phosphenes. If I am right in regarding dreams as “de-programmers”, then I am more worried than I appear. Of course you have to thrust things out of your mind for practical purposes, but they gnaw away.
I had lunch with Jane Tate. She told me another thing about Paddy Bond. He has washed his hands of South London, which effectively broke up when the girls flatly refused to work with him. He showed no responsibility, made no propositions. But according to Jane who asked about the South London funds, he is acting as treasurer of a branch that does not exist and is holding £500 he has put in a Building Society. And he won’t give it to Jane Tate for the Central Fund, as he says, “The CA has plenty of money.” I said to Jane we should try to get our hands on it for general London purposes. One thing is sure, of course, he will look after it; we need not fear that side of it.
The meeting was a disappointment. Pat Bond was at the Irish Book Fair. Stella Bond was in the shop. Those who came were Charlie Cunningham, Martin Moriarty, Jane Tate, Flann Campbell, Gerry Curran, Paul Gilhooley and later a young man with his girlfriend who proved to be Derek O’Flaherty, one of the CPI I think, who wrote to me about the divorce referendum. Like Martin Moriarty he is working on the “Morning Star”. At the same time progress was made and Flann Campbell was pleased. John Boyd was there and took away leaflets advertising his pamphlet. I had a very favourable impression of Derek O’Flaherty, who is from Limerick, as indeed I have of Martin Moriarty, and am turning over in my mind the possibility of “regenerating” the Connolly Association, to give these young people an opportunity to show what they are made of in London. Now all these have been brought by Paul Gilhooley.
Later we went to the Irish Book Fair. Padraig O’Conchúir was there, Berresford Ellis, Noel O’Connor and Stephen Brennan and quite a few more, including quite a few poets who were reading their verses in low lugubrious voices. Charlie Cunningham came to Euston with me. He told me that Alf Kearney is 80, has gone off drink after twice falling and hurting himself, but now can’t sleep and has to take pills. Otherwise he is perfect.
On the train there was a young engineer after flying from Singapore and playing chess against a computer. It didn’t seem a very good player, but it knew the Giuoco Piano. He invited me to play him and as he was white, played P-K4. I’ll have none of this,” said I to myself, “He’ll know that backwards.” I played P-QB4, but did not make it a Sicilian defence but fianchettoed the KB. He told me afterwards that this put him off, as he had no experience of it. So though it was a hard fought game – he was a strong player – I scattered him in the end. And though of course he was suffering from “jet-lag” I had a half litre of wine taken. I got back at about 11 pm.
March 15 Sunday: I spent the day getting out letters and circulars – 53 in all. I wrote to Paul Gilhooley and Martin Moriarty about a brief session with the young people next week. I’d a word with Barney Morgan about a meeting to be addressed by Joe Finnerty. There was a spell in the evening when I saw phosphenes even in the light. It is very hard to know what the chances are. I was thinking about Thursday. Jim King was in the chair. I asked him was he no longer in charge of the Manchester Irish Centre. He said the contractors had got it. “I negotiated the £700,000. If it had failed it would be my failure. If it succeeded, it was their success.” I think it may have educated him a bit. I don’t think they managed to turn his head, though by Heaven they tried.
Most nights I spend the last half hour over a bottle of wine and do a spot of work on the “epic”. I am halfway through the third book. Tonight I detected a patch of tangled black on the South-East side of the right eye. I am afraid it may be cataract caused by the steroids. So there’s more trouble. The slogan is “carpe diem”!
March 16 Monday: I got up at 9 am. and the mysterious black patch in the right eye was not there. I wonder if the doctors are as ignorant of the human body as the patients! Or maybe they say to themselves, “What’s the good of trying to explain?” There was a letter from Brian Wilkinson [an old CA member in Wales] – still without work – which said Margaret Byrne had told him of my troubles. He had just been to an eye specialist over the same thing but had been given a clean bill of health and is congratulating himself. He is enthusiastic about the SNP [Scots National Party]. I am not. But I’ll publish his article. Let it all be discussed.
I went to Lime Street at 1 pm. to meet a German, Wolfgang Colden, who is writing a book about Ireland. He is something of a “copy book” Marxist but a pleasant fellow. He came to England as a refugee in 1937 – he would then be a boy of ten or eleven – and his sister has been here all the time, now living in Newcastle. But he went back to Dusseldorf after the war. He got interested in the Irish question when visiting Liverpool where at that time his sister was living.
At about 7.45 Pat Bond rang. He wanted to put an advertisement in the “Irish Post” for Beresford Ellis’s lecture in London! When I demurred he said he would have to do it, and accompanied his complaint with, “Christ! Jesus!” and God knows what. I told him it was a London matter and if nobody in London was prepared to do it, let it go hang. This is the half-witted nincompoop who drove away Paul Gilhooley, who at least could put an ad in a paper. It would take five minutes. I just can’t stand this nonsense. There are limits to patience.
Later I spoke to Joe Finnerty, who said the weekend conference scarcely mentioned the Irish Sea and he is talking with Brian Stowell about calling a proper conference under the auspices of the Polytechnic. I also had a word with Joe O’Grady. He agrees with me that Michael Mortimer is going to be a write-off, but is prepared to take over some of the secretarial work himself.
The weather remains cold but is not at its worst. A crocus has been out for several days and the daffodils are beginning to bend over. It must be light rather than temperature that triggers off their growth. I am feeling a trifle despondent about the eyes. Three weeks gone and the phosphenes, as I call them, still occur, especially when I am tired as I am this evening. I find the greatest difficulty in instilling the drops, and some time I am going to poke my eye out! And of course I have my time broken into five-hour periods and can never go out for the day.
March 17 Tuesday: A letter arrived from Brian Campfield, secretary of the Belfast Trades Council, inviting me to address their meeting of 7th May. I don’t think I can travel abroad now, and in any case I have the Connolly Association conference on the 9th, which is quite enough upset. There was also a letter from Niall Farrell in Galway, which was interesting. The CPI has had a Russian, Lagustin, touring Ireland, with meetings in Dublin, Cork and Belfast as well as Galway. But the Russians still channel all their literature through the Workers Party. Niall Farrell says they “should know better” and that “their opportunism is disgusting.” But he thinks it is partly the CPI’s fault, with its “bungling inefficiency and slothfulness”. He’s a bright young fellow. Incidentally George Davies was talking about the same thing, saying that if he were the CPI he’d be playing hell about it. He told me about Wolfgang Colden. John Boyd sent an article but it is too general.
Later Barney Morgan telephoned, then Jane Tate. She is having difficulty getting places for us to meet, and Pat Bond has taken over the Connolly Association office as a bookstore. It is impossible to do any work in it. He is literally indifferent to everybody else. Later I rang Gerry Curran who is sending the book page tomorrow. The eyes behaved a little better today. I think they deteriorate when I am tired at night. Brian Wilkinson sent an article challenging Phil MacGiolla Bháin’s conception that the SNP should support Irish independence, which I will publish as the controversy will be important. I finished one page. But though the deadline was 15/3, there is nothing from Tony Coughlan.
I am aware of course that if I have a pain in my finger I think I’m dying, but all the same I had a dizzy spell this morning which lasted about a second. I looked it up in Macmillan, and could find no other symptom that went with it, and was reassured to some extent by the statement that brief losses of consciousness are not serious. I have always acted as if my good health would go on for ever. But signs that it will not are multiplying fast. I’ll need another three years to complete the epic. Will I ever get on to the aesthetics?
March 18 Wednesday: A card came from Parry’s told me that Pais’s book on Einstein, which I had ordered, had arrived, and went to collect it [A. Pais, “Subtle is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein”, 1982]. I spotted a Bohn edition of Lucretius and bought that too. It is surprising how memory plays one false. I remembered an occasion when Einstein spoke at the Albert Hall along with Austin Chamberlain. I thought this was in 1934, for I remember Crowther (Geoffrey Crowther who used to live in Northington Street) describing it to me – it was virtually an anti-German demonstration. I was surprised that he thought that bad [Geoffrey Crowther, 1907-1972, editor of “The Economist” from 1938 to 1956; Greaves had a flat at 6 Cockpit Chambers, Northington Street, from the 1940s to the 1960s]. And Einstein’s speech was hushed up because instead of going in for political denunciations, he suggested that thinkers like himself should be accommodated in lighthouses where they would not be disturbed. Now since I came into politics in 1934; this conversation must have been in or after that year. But Einstein was, according to Pais, in England only from June to October 1933.
On the other hand I would not have been uninterested in politics in 1933. I had written a letter opposing “economists” to the “Liverpool Daily Post” in or around October 1931, and it would be in the summer of 1933 that Hodge [Alan Hodge, later editor of “History Today”, see Vol.1] had a German student – I think his name began with an “A” – staying with him, and three of us went for a walk in Storeton and discussed the regime in Germany.
I had a word with Jane Tate. Later Martin Collins rang up – very respectful. He wanted to give out leaflets and contact UCATT notabilities in connection with a conference on the “MacBride Principles” in November. I do not trust him [Martin Collins, Campaign Director of the “Time to Go” campaign on Northern Ireland”, British Labour activist and later adviser to Kevin McNamara MP and others]. Then Paul Gilhooley rang up. He had arranged for me to have a discussion with the new young people on Saturday. Jane Tate says we should never have appointed Paul, but his appointment achieved the secondary purpose, to bring in the youth. So it has been a success.
March 19 Thursday: I went into the city to make one or two purchases. Pat Bond telephoned. Oliver Snoddy had wanted the cover of his pamphlet to be black on grey. I asked Bond if it was too drab to sell, and he said he thought it was. I did some clearing up and arranging material for the paper. Although I made a clear announcement that I needed copy by the 15th, there is nothing from Tony Coughlan or Gerry Curran or even Pat Bond’s songs. If I’m told next Tuesday that I’ve to have an operation there will be no paper. I’m trying to get it done by then – it seems impossible now. The general indolence and tendency to procrastinate prevails over everything else. And there is nothing from Joe Deighan. Peter Mulligan and Dónal Mac Amhlaigh have however sent copy, as has Jim Savage. A message came from NALGO that their North-West area wanted to come to Bolton, and good wishes from a UCATT branch in Wiltshire.
In general I would say the eyes feel “easier”, but in the evening as I came back from Birkenhead Town Hall in Fred Brown’s car, there were still “phosphenes”, though nothing to what they used to be. I remember Phyllis complaining when she was ill that she “couldn’t plan”. Well, I have planned up to June 7th, am reduced to half-steam and don’t know whether I’ll be able to carry them out, or by whom and how they will be carried out if I can’t. Tonight we attended the Planning Committee of Wirral Council, and stood in a hot and crowded chamber for an hour while the planners discussed the new precinct development in Grange Road. I commented to a man standing next to me, “So you can understand the state of the town.” Liddel and his wife were there; also Jean [ie. Mrs Fred Brown, née Jean Hack] from next door. When the business of the fish and chip shop came up, it was “open and close”. The thing was turned down flat and the young man who was to put our case, standing there incredibly spruced up, was visibly disappointed. As we came out, apropos of Grange Road, Liddel said to me, “Now you can understand the state of this town”, using the exact words I had used.
March 20 Friday: I went into Birkenhead to get circulars photocopied and did a second page of the paper. Gerry Curran’s page came, in a terrible state. He had allowed 8 1/2″ for an item that only made 3 3/4″, spread a block over two and a half columns without indicating where the typesetter was to reduce his measure, and produced a sloppy slap-dash job. Tony Coughlan’s copy came after I have filled Page 4. And Joe Deighan’s also arrived, plus Pat Bond’s songs. I rang Eric Taplin. There was a snow shower this morning which mercifully melted on touching the ground, but the winter is endless. I have seen it before. The cold winter of 1940 was followed by 1941 and 1942, both very cold.
March 21 Saturday (London): I caught the 9 am. train for London, called to Jane Tate and found her outside her door looking through her handbag for her key, which it turned out she had left inside. She called to a neighbour who had a spare, but he was out. We then went to the “supermarket” to see if he was shopping and he wasn’t. The key to the Community Centre was likewise unavailable, but by some means she contrived to get it while I had some lunch and fooled about with my eyes. This six instillations a day is the devil, but the ritual has to be gone through. Then the conference took place. It was a tremendous success and possibly a turning point. Donal McCraith said it was the best he had been to. Paul Gilhooley was full of enthusiasm, while trying to sell me some wild scheme of a “youth festival”, which I contrived to procrastinate out of election year. Ciaran Corcoran was there, and O’Flaherty, and I had a drink with the young people afterwards. It is a delicate operation switching the weight on to the new generation without destroying the tradition of the old. Half-way through the evening Paul Gilhooley lost his temper with Corcoran and tore away calling him a bastard, but then came back and went on as if nothing had happened. He is very immature and can’t keep his own counsel – a good thing, for you know what he’s up to. He said he was surprised at our maintaining relations with him after his quarrel with Paddy Bond. He had expected we would want nothing more to do with him. So there is a lesson for him. As Ken Keable said to Jane Tate, “He’s a lot to learn, particularly to discipline himself.” But I don’t reject him out of hand as some do. Among those present were Gerry Curran, Jane Tate and a few more. I stayed the night at Jane Tate’s.
March 22 Sunday (Liverpool): I came back to Liverpool, had a wash and shave at 124 Mount Road and went to the Irish Centre, where Eric Taplin gave a good talk on Larkin. Tony Birtell and David Jones were there, Joe O’Grady, Alan Morton 2, Pat Doherty, Barry Doherty, and indeed there were about 35 people present. Barney Morgan is away for the weekend. I had a talk with Alan Morton 2 afterwards. He is taking a group of student to Dublin next week, having arranged things with Tony Coughlan, who sent me some copy a week late but is otherwise mysteriously silent, but doubtless up to his eyes in activity. I do not think he is of a contemplative disposition. He likes to be on the go, and we’ll believe the Connolly Association history when we see it. For if anything occurs to excuse him for standing up, he will not sit down. Kevin Nelson was there. He is no longer on the District Committee of the CP, but is still in it and is very critical of the activities of the Communist Campaign Group. There is no doubt there has been a lot of nonsensical leftism. You can’t reorganise a party from the outside. On the other hand Paul Gilhooley says the HQ staff are on half-pay, and “Seven Days” is costing them a fortune. He says when that fellow Myant was in difficulties he threatened that if he did not get his own way he would leave and join the SDP as one or two more had done. Apparently they gave in. So what kind of principles remain?
March 23 Monday: It was distinctly milder today – low fifties I would say at the maximum. A daffodil is out and wall flowers and forsythia coming out. I went into the city and bought the “Morning Star”. There was a first-class account of our conference on Saturday. And the “Irish Post” and “New Worker” were there as well. Then I got three more pages of the paper done. I have to go to the hospital again tomorrow and may well be told something I’ll not relish. We’ll see.
March 24 Tuesday: Cold again with the East wind back. I went to the hospital by bus and this time saw a different consultant, a rather jovial Englishman, from whom I got more sense. He thinks I am not getting the drops in properly and gives different instructions that seem more sensible. I said that the Timoptol people advertised the “Glaucoma Society” but that I had rung up the hospital without being able to get this. He said, “Forget about it. That’s only a stunt to make money for the doctors at King’s Hospital.” Anyway, he proscribed continuing with six installation a day and stresses the need for regularity. This I had perhaps neglected, not missing any but not keeping them the same time apart. He will check up in three months. So at any rate the operation is off. I was encouraged by this but hope it will be possible to get down to only two instillations a day, as fulfilling engagements is going to be the devil.
In the early evening Jane Tate rang. She had gone into the office and found Paul Gilhooley. He still hankers after a position. He asked what about the London Committee. Jane told him he disappeared, didn’t show up at the E.C. meeting and we decided to call together the London members. He also complained that the Central London meeting was called too early and the Brents could not get to it. He is up to intrigues. But after he had told Pat Bond that he’s lost interest in the “Liberation” London committee and didn’t propose to attend, Jane Tate rang Martin Moriarty and asked him to go, in my opinion mistakenly as she can seem to be setting up Martin Moriarty against Paul. I had a letter from Chris Maguire. He says Corcoran has made no effort to contact him and Corcoran indeed has not called a meeting of the Hackney branch we set up, but is holding an “East London” meeting in East Ham. I’d put it past Paul Gilhooly to be planning a takeover. So I may have to go to London on Thursday, drops or no drops. There are a few thousand pounds in it.
Later Tony Coughlan rang up to find out what was the verdict at the hospital. I told him. The Supreme Court judgement on the Single European Act has not yet been delivered.
March 25 Wednesday: A letter came from Paul Gilhooley in effect asking for the position of London secretary back. But it contained the first ever self- criticism. He says his temper is due to his enthusiasm. But I know it is an enthusiasm in which himself plays a big part. This is a feature of young people and is not totally negative. What they do is linked with what they are becoming. Life is bringing fresh openings all the time. They have no notion of a situation where one after another iron hands disengage themselves from the shadows and draw one down to earth. I thought about my reply. My tactic was to hold him till we were sure of the other young people. And bless me if Pat Bond doesn’t ring and say wonderingly, “Paul seems to be doing a bit more.” “What more? Doing what?”, I asked myself and replied, trying to get back his leadership. Pat Bond’s vision is confined to “doing something”.
I nearly finished the paper. There is one page to do.
Later Jane Tate rang and said Paul was acting like an organiser and more or less telling Martin Moriarty what to do. I asked her to arrange for Martin to see me tomorrow. What I’ll do about these damned drops I don’t know. I arranged to be at Jane’s at 1 pm. and 6 pm. I’ve been trying direct installation and more often than not watering my desk. It is a desperate nuisance. The day is broken up and ruined,
After I had been across the road to buy the “Echo” I saw Jean Brown and Mrs Liddel going into Mrs Marsdens. They came to the gate to speak to me. Mary Liddel was vociferous. “Can you imagine what the ‘Welfare’ has done?” Apparently they had brought Mrs Marsden from hospital and dumped her on her doorstep in a dressing-gown without even a key to get into her house. Both of the other women have keys, and the hospitals have their telephone numbers. But they did not ring. Fortunately Mary Liddel was in. Now they have done her shopping for her. But she doesn’t like the “meals on wheels” and leaves them in the refrigerator to go bad, starves herself and aggravates her mental condition. Mary Liddel rang the hospital and had a half-apology.
A letter came from Charlie Cunningham. A group of leftists were a trifle obstreperous at the conference and indeed when Tom Mernagh left they were shouting at him. Charlie sent me their sheet in which they accuse the UCATT Executive of using bogus votes of the Irish section to rig Union ballots. Charlie Cunningham reflects his own defeatism when he foresees another ETU scandal. But I have heard about the UCATT Irish section before.
March 26 Thursday (London/Liverpool): I went to London for the day, catching the 9.56, and went to Jane Tate’s first. I showed her Paul Gilhooley’s letter. Then I went into the office and went through the cards, to discover for myself how many conference delegates each branch was allowed and to guard against any Paul Gilhooley attempt at a takeover. There is no subtlety in the Bonds. They don’t know what makes Gilhooley tick, which is the expansion of his ego through action. Stella Bond says, “He’s doing more now.” He’s doing a lot of things he shouldn’t be doing. But Pat Bond now talks of “politics” with open disdain. He has arranged a jumble sale and they are bleating about the work. I told Stella there was no need for one, and what we had to do was utilise the money we’ve got.
I had arranged for Martin Moriarty to meet me at Jane’s. She wanted to be present, I could see, so I couldn’t get him on his own. They all lack subtlety. I asked him to convene the Central London branch meeting. She talks of his being “branch secretary” and has thus frightened him back from continuing to convene. The capacity to keep their gobs shut is very rare in humanity. He is definitely not in Paul Gilhooley’s pocket. He is still in the CPGB and does not support the CCG [ie. the Communist Campaign Group] whose attitude is, “let us back in to kick you out or we’ll bang you on the head.” George Davies told them to start a new party and be done with it. Then they could negotiate from a position of equality. I see the Bootle branch has been threatened over Sam Watts. Martin Moriarty thinks that the “Morning Star” will be able to continue thanks to the Russian order and that its circulation is now at rock bottom and can only go up. I have my doubts, but its continued existence is a positive item. On the way to Jane Tate’s I met Paul Gilhooley on his way to the office. I think Corcoran is his sidekick and is treated like a dog. I got back at about 11 pm.
March 27 Friday: I rang Joe O’Grady in the morning. He had been with Doswell who knew about our meeting with the Socialist Health Association on pollution. We’re both of us like dogs on a lead, having to arrange our activities subject to injections and instillations. But we arranged to meet at 2 pm. Pat Bond rang up. There are, as I discovered, 75 paid-up members in South London. I think he goes round once a year and collects their subscriptions. But they can’t even get one person to attend a meeting. A testimony to the non-political approach.
I duly met Joe O’Grady and we made arrangements for circulating members in the absence of Michael Mortimer whom we don’t expect to see at the meeting. The weather is very cold, with a high wind and barometer below 29″. It is about 50F in the day but feels cold.
March 28 Saturday: Much cooler again today – though things are sprouting. The daffodils have survived the storm better than I expected. Gooseberries are coming into leaf, rhubarb and borage pushing through. I went into Birkenhead to make a few purchases and later got some potassium nitrate for the cauliflowers. The only phone calls were wrong numbers. I tried unsuccessfully to get Margaret Byrne in Glasgow. I am managing a little better with the instillations, but it is a dreadful nuisance.
March 29 Sunday: Summer time began today and enabled me to arrange the instillation routine so that I could go to Manchester, where Brian Latham met me. I had however to instil as best I could in the Town Hall, where the Marxist Forum was meeting. I met Maxie Drück for the first time for surely thirty years[Max Drück had been an anti-fascist activist in Britain in the 1930s]. Stan Cole was in the chair. He is bringing “Liberation“[ie. the former Movement for Colonial Freedom] into Manchester, and says it will help the Connolly Association to be established. I doubt it. There were only about 15 there.
Afterwards he drove me home for a snack, and to the station. I was home at 7.15 in time for the next instillation. Stan Cole talks of a long period within the CP of fighting for a change of policy. He is still in it and so is Brian Latham [Cole and Latham were Manchester CP activists]. It is the only logical policy – the Durkin approach of, “Let us in to get you out or we’ll boo you”, has no sense in it at all. Latham told me that Jack Askins said to him that shortly after Pollitt[ie. Harry Pollitt, CPGB General Secretary from the 1930s to the 1960s] gave up and handed the reins to Gollan, he said to Askins, “I’ve made a mistake.” He had. I told Latham how I was present at the Political Committee on the occasion during the war when Harry Pollitt complained he was overworked and needed an assistant. He was not appointed there and then, but it was Gollan. He told me Vic Eddisford had gone with the “Euroes”.
After I was at home Corcoran rang up to say the East London meeting was on Tuesday. He has never rung up before. I wonder if this is part of Paul Gilhooley’s plan to become London Secretary again. It would never occur to them that I might possibly spot it! I have increased the dosage of the drops, and it may be working. When I went across the road to dusk I “saw” no phosphenes. But coming back I forgot about them. A good sign after a lot of disappointment.
Brian Latham gave me a copy of the “Morning Star” to read on the train. It was Saturday’s issue and I hadn’t seen it. There were supposed disclosures of the position in the CP. It seems that Jacques is now claiming that though the CP publishes “Marxism Today”, it is in no way responsible to it. This is a position they would not tolerate with the “Morning Star”. Again there is talk of Gordon McLennan stepping down. Who is to take his place? There are about six alleged candidates, Jacques, Myant, Nina Temple, Pocock, Ian McKay and Dave Cook, whom they seemingly describe as an “ageing teddy-boy,” though they mean something else. But how does the “Morning Star” know this? Look for the “mole”. Latham argues that the “Euro” leadership may be running into crisis and tripping up over their own opportunism. It is to be hoped so.
There were flurries of snow in Manchester.
Later on I had a word with Tony Coughlan. He was thinking of coming this week, but I persuaded him to make it next week. I have too much on. An interesting thing – not that it was ever different – not a single person with the sole exception of Gerry Curran, offered to do anything to help out when I am reduced to one engine. Though in more general terms George Davies made a general offer to undertake duplicating, and I am sure John Gibson would too. But I have to send out circulars for the Liverpool branch meeting, the meeting on pollution, the Bolton conference, the Standing Committee, the Association’s annual Conference, and the Labour Movement conference on June 7th without even a duplicator thanks to the megalomaniac Bond. I can’t think of the bastard without indignation. And yet his megalomania keeps him going in what interests him. He rang up tonight asking me to “squeeze into” the paper some news about the Birmingham Six, whose appeal is postponed till November. That means an October election is still a possibility. I don’t suppose it enters his head that if something goes in, something must come out!
Further to Manchester, Stan Cole is trying to start “Liberation” in Manchester, and talks about uniting all national groups. A Connolly Association might come out of this. This is typical. Solidarity with the South Pole and to hell with actually existing populations in the British community. It was of course his well-meaning nonsense that ruined Lenny Draper’s work and lost him for us.
March 30 Friday: I had a heavy day today. Moreover, the eyes are not making the progress I would like, despite careful instillations. The telephone kept going with nonsense. Paul Gilhooley rang up to say he thought an E.C. member should be at the East London meeting, but he did not want to take it upon himself to go. I told him one was not necessary, and branches could look after themselves. He disclosed that he was with Corcoran when he rang up. Then Pat Bond rang saying Paul was very active. I said he might be trying to be London secretary again. I did not say I was permitting him to entertain that illusion to keep him good for the run-up to the conference. “Oh Dear. How are we going to prevent him?” I was aghast. “By not appointing him of course.” All the bombast has disappeared. Then Jane Tate rang saying Corcoran had telephoned saying Paul Gilhooley had told him there must be an E.C. member at East London. I told her there was no such rule. So she said she would ring Corcoran and tell him. I sent off notices for the Standing Committee and by nightfall I was unusually tired. Jane told me that Paul Gilhooley is not happy working for ILEA. I suppose he can’t do what he likes. I expected this!
March 31 Tuesday: I went to Ripley and read the proofs. There was no special problem. I managed an instillation without great difficulty. If I can get the knack Alan Morton has of direct instillations while standing it will be a help. Later on Joe Deighan rang and said he would fly to Liverpool on April 11. Then I rang Barney Morgan. Michael Mortimer will not be there tomorrow or April 11, I guess. And with Joe O’Grady in Belfast, I am afraid the Liverpool contingent will be thin on the ground. He said he would come in tomorrow.
April 1 Wednesday: A miserable cold day. Barney Morgan called at my request and was very helpful over the Bolton excursion. But he is dissatisfied with his work as the doctor he assists is mainly interested in geriatrics, which makes for easy work, but nothing interesting for Barney. So he is talking about early retirement and going to live in the country. He is basically “consumerist”. The meeting took place in the evening and was badly attended – Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty, Pat Mullen, myself and the speaker, a very good man, a full-time official of NALGO and a friend of Kevin Nelson – Graham Burgess. He is of the dissident CP and talks of a split after November. But their position is illogical: “Let us in to kick you out.” Pat Doherty told us how the DPC [District Political Committee] man closed down the Bootle branch meeting rather than allow a letter from Sam Watts to be read out. These extremities will surely give rise to divisions, for more and more people will say, “Where is this leading?”
I had trouble with the phosphenes while sitting in the Shaftesbury bar, but found that after a few drinks they ceased. Is this the result of distension of capillaries? I am not too happy about the eyes. I don’t think the pressure is going down and I keep wondering why Dr O Shea was so definite about the need for an operation. Was it something in the optician’s letter? The absolute scandal of the medical system where the disease is treated like a disembodied entity to be kept apart from the sufferer, who is not to be told the simplest things about his own body and is left to speculate!
April 2 Thursday: I rang Jane Tate in the morning. She described the Central London branch meeting. The room was full. Paul Gilhooley had been busy. All his cronies were there – mostly people who never come to a regular meeting. What must they do but propose twelve resolutions one after another. “It seems unlikely they’ll be reached,” said Flann Campbell mildly. Some were very long. There had obviously been secret sessions. But I was less interested in the resolutions than those who would implement them. All the old E.C. is nominated, though this was done in Liverpool yesterday as a precaution. But Donal MacGrath is nominated, which I don’t like. I am going to try to get enough nominations to force a vote, and then the less desirable can be excluded. But they failed to send Jane Tate as a delegate. She says Paul Gilhooley nominated his seven so quickly that she had no time. But that was absurd. She simply nominates over the number and there is an election. She said that Martin Moriarty kept himself aloof from this. “He’s more brains,” said I.
Later I spoke to Chris Maguire. He had been invited to Corcoran’s thing in East Ham but could not go. I spoke to Gerry Curran. He said that Paul Gilhooley was trying to get back his job as organiser. What makes him think he’ll be helped by organising this pop-concert, Heaven alone knows. I presume his job demands work and discipline. He has been asking Gerry Curran what he thinks of his abilities. I hope Gerry was suitably frank. Anyway Gerry says that Paul is jealous of Martin Moriarty because he can write, while Paul can’t. So that explains the aloofness. I would be quite happy to lose Paul if I had the other youngsters. It is coming close to that. All the same I did some judicious head-counting. Wolfgang Colden rang to say he is off to Dublin and decided not to buy a copy of my life of Mellows for the £35 asked for. Connolly is out of print also.
April 3 Friday: The East wind is back again and it is damp and chilly. The way my time is wasted now is woeful. I had to go to the Health Centre yesterday, on top of an hour spent instilling drops, to order a prescription. Today I had to go out to get it and go to a chemist. I went on to post the letters written in the morning. Jane Tate told me Paul Gilhooley was spending time in the office ringing people up. Pat Bond never interferes. Any old thing will do. He has no political responsibility and never had. Later I got Peter Mulligan, just back from Manchester. He had seen Jimmy McGill who has become very “Provo”. Peter himself is a supreme individualist. That’s one of the troubles with too many of them. Still I’m knocking it into some kind of shape.
April 4 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.56 and went to Jane Tate’s for an instillation, had lunch and went to the Standing Committee. Those present were Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Martin Moriarty, Flann Campbell and Paul Gilhooley. The last was relatively subdued. The twelve resolutions from Central London had been typed by Martin Moriarty, who seems efficient as well as intelligent. I singled him out. Paul Gilhooley on the other hand wants to be a guild-master before he’s finished his apprenticeship. He lives for the impression he creates. So instead of participating in the collective work he always starts some hare of his own outside it. I have to play it like a game of chess, giving him enough headway to keep him going, for he has undoubted influence with those who can’t see through his juvenilities, and yet letting him away with nothing.
April 5 Sunday: The lecture was tonight, but the attendance was poor. But Michael Mortimer showed up, looking a bit shook. I can see the effect on him of the taxi business. Alan Morton 2 is going to take him in hand. I was thinking of inviting him to dinner when Tony Coughlan comes. Alan Morton 2 thought it unwise when he was feeling such economic problems. I have not decided whether to take his advice or not. It may be psychologically more helpful to Michael Mortimer to keep him within the circle of the intelligentsia than to make a few shillings as a driver. He may be coming with Joe O’Grady tomorrow and I will judge then. However, he has not abandoned everything. And it’s all for the sake of bohemianism. He should buy himself a nice suit, clip off his straggly beard and look like an academic. Then he’d get a job as one.
April 6 Monday: It is still damp and chilly, with the interminable East wind. Joe O’Grady came at 1.30 but Michael Mortimer did not show up, so that’s the sign I was waiting for. Margaret Byrne rang and said the Glasgow branch had twenty members and three are coming to the conference. This will be the first decent conference for years. I expect three from Liverpool, three from Glasgow, one at least each from Nottingham and Birmingham, and perhaps Paul Salveson from Bolton, which is as good as Manchester.
In the early evening Declan Bree rang from Sligo to ask me to speak at the Gralton Commemoration [in Co Leitrim]. He said he knew I had trouble with the eyes, but how was I fixed. I had to turn him down. Now when things are moving in Ireland and I’ve the opportunity to participate, I’m debarred for health reasons. When I was fit nobody (apart from Dublin) ever asked me!
I see from the “Echo” that Cyril Taylor has retired [Cyril Taylor, 1921-2000, medical doctor and Liverpool politician; influential in the genesis of the British National Health Service and in establishing local health centres]. There is a hint of ill health. He is only 67. He made some valedictory recommendations to the general public, first not to pay too much attention to doctors, and second to insist on being treated by a doctor as an equal. Unfortunately the powers are not equal. If you walk with a limp it will be assumed that you are soft in the head. If an old man resents being taken for an idiot, then he is crotchety as well. You are only the equal of somebody you can knock down, and you can be quite sure that if you go blind, then you go daft as well, because everybody can afford so to treat you.
Jay Burrup got the photocopies I sent him and says they were very useful to him. He got one letter from Kathleen, and this is the continuation of the outward voyage. He will send me material as he gets it. He was interested in the pictorial calendar with views of Liverpool, but thought it resembled some of the North Italian cities where he had been on a mission. I think he must be a very devout Mormon.
Later on Brian Stowell rang. He cannot lay on a social at the Socialist Club and we will have to be out by 6.30. I think we’ll bring the Liverpools back to the Irish Centre.
I was not too happy about the eyes, tonight. There were too many “phosphenes”. I wondered about the possibility of choosing between the risk of an operation – Sam Levenson died as a result of a cataract operation – and the risk of losing sight. Could I write if I were blind? I tried an experiment, closed my eyes and wrote a few sentences. There would be no difficulty, but of course I could not read what I had written. But I imagine there are ways of getting over that. Not that I really believe it will come to that, but it might. I have a rough test for peripheral vision. That seems all right. I would say the odds are that the steroids will produce cataract and then the choice comes along. And in the present barbarous state of class-orientated medicine, what can you do but mortgage the future to buy the present? I’m trying to get the whole damned thing into my “epic”; but it’s no easier than anything else.
April 7 Tuesday: A very disappointing day, though not the first – quite apart from the cold, damp, dreary weather that goes on and on. We had Joe Finnerty giving a report of the Pollution of the Irish Sea Conference. I personally sent out 30 invitations, and several people last Wednesday told me they were coming. Barney Morgan got promises from members of the Socialist Health Association – though the secretary Mrs Helens did not favour me even with the courtesy of a reply. I think the medicos live in a secluded world of their own behind a palisade of professional snobbery. Anyway only myself, Barney Morgan, Pat Doherty, Joe O’Grady and Brian Stowell turned up to what was a very informative talk. Both Joe Finnerty and Brian Stowell were pretty despondent and I didn’t blame them. And as I came down to the Irish Centre with them the phosphenes were dancing about. But there is little doubt alcohol reduces them, as there were none when Brian Stowell drove me back to 124 Mount Road. I hear Tony Birtell is reporting for the “Irish Post”. He was coming, but didn’t come.
April 8. Wednesday: There was a phone call from Jane Tate in the morning and Michael Herbert in the afternoon. He says he is coming to Bolton. He wants to make contact with Lena Daly on some language thing. I have more or less dismissed the possibility of his doing anything about a Manchester Connolly Association. Apart from this I wrote to Alan Morton 2, Joe Finnerty, and John Boyd.
April 9 Thursday: The cold wet miserable weather goes on. I went into the city to make some purchases. Then at 5 pm. I put on the radio. To my intense gratification I heard that Crotty had won his case and all parties in the Dáil are in chaos and the European scum champing with rage. Either there will be a referendum in Ireland or the whole criminal package will have to be renegotiated. At the very least time will be lost. Joe O’Grady rang up full of glee and pointed out that the Belgian commentator made no bones about the stumbling block being military commitments. So something good comes occasionally. At about 10.30 Charlie Cunningham rang up in great delight, and added that Haughey has made a series of fresh demands of the Anglo-Irish Agreement. A few days ago he sent me an article lauding Stephen Brennan. Of course I couldn’t use it without alienating Donal MacGrath, whom Brennan says is a “Stickie”.
April 10 Friday: I went into the city to make some purchases, then came back as I thought in time for Tony Coughlan’s arrival. But he did not arrive. I heard on RTE that the Constitutional Rights Movement has gone for renegotiation instead of a referendum they would probably lose, and presumably Tony has stayed in Dublin because of the decisions needed. It is most unlike him not to communicate his change of plans. But he may conceivably have completely forgotten that he was to have come here today, gone to Bolton tomorrow and returned to Dublin on Sunday.
In the morning Pat Bond rang up to tell me about Crotty. He was genuinely pleased and so he does take some interest in politics. I don’t know what makes him tick. Is his neglect of politics, unwillingness to discuss them, due to the fact that he thinks they don’t bear thinking about, the Crotty judgement being good news for a change? I heard on RTE also that Crotty has got costs amounting to £200,000.
I had a word with Gerry Curran. He has had trouble in West London. In order to give them more than one delegate he had wished to include people who were already counted in Central London – he did not know this. Pat O’Donohue insisted the membership be based solely on Ealing. I had included people further West. It became a matter of getting Gerry Curran and Pat O’Donohue included on Pat Bond’s list. But Jane Tate tells me Bond’s meeting was last night. So there is nothing there. Jane said Pat Bond offered to send Charlie Cunningham, but he didn’t want to be a delegate. The twelve resolutions were not part of a plan but bright ideas put up for the most part by the youngsters. Jane Tate has been trying to ring Tony Coughlan to congratulate him, but he must be at continuous sessions of the Council of War.
April 11 Saturday: Still no word from Tony Coughlan. I assumed he wasn’t coming at all. I checked with NN [Proper name unknown] that the members were available, and went over early, had a bite, and was at the “flying picket” by noon [This was to attend an Irish conference in Bolton, Lancs. The ”flying picket” reference was to activists going by motor car to support the miners during their strike]. Barney Morgan, Matt Merrigan, Joe Deighan and Pat Doherty were soon there, and NW and two young fellows came. NN insisted on driving on the A58 instead of going on the motorway, saying it was “quicker”. I think he meant shorter. The result was we arrived only ten minutes before it was due to start. But Jane Tate and Michael Crowe were there. On the whole it went off very successfully. Paul Salveson also was there, and Enda McCarthy from Leeds. Indeed her companion, who may have been her father, joined the Connolly Association.
Before we returned I had a word with Michael Crowe. He looks better and says he has more energy after massive blood transfusions. He is still on the sick list. It is diagnosed as anaemia. I asked how he got that. He said he had considerable loss of blood that was due to piles. But these can be mended. But perhaps he doesn’t eat the proper food. I do not think he is very practical. Brian Latham was there, but I did not get an opportunity to speak to him, also Eddie Frow and his wife. We came back to Liverpool. Barney Morgan drove Martin Moriarty to the airport, and Joe Deighan, Pat Doherty and I had a meal in a place Michael Mortimer had showed me, after which we went to the Irish Centre.
April 12 Sunday: Though it was not warm, it was a bright sunny day when you could get out of doors briefly in the sun. I met Joe Deighan at the Shaftesbury and we went to the Albert Dock, had a drink, then went on the the Irish Centre where we met Barney Morgan. I was relying on getting back to 124 Mount Road at 3 pm. for an instillation, but the underground broke down and I was not back until 4 pm. So what to do? It was seven hours. Of course I instilled at once. Then – despite the absurd mystery covering the whole thing – I figured to myself that the steroid (as I presume it is, and little I like it, as it probably spells cataract later) is decomposed exponentially over the six prescribed hours, after which the blockage slowly builds up. I decided to instil again at 8 pm. and midnight. Certainly there was no increase in phosphene activity. I had a word with Paul Salveson about the duplicator. Barney Morgan said he would run me out to Bolton when we could look at it and if it is suitable collect it. He thought Pat Doherty would help.
April 13 Monday: Yesterday’s spring weather has gone. I never remember such a dark April. You need electric light on all day. And what happened was no better. I had a letter from Margaret Byrne and indeed had answered it, when Pat Bond rang up to say that she was dead. Apparently she must have had a heart attack in the night and was found dead in her bedroom on Sunday morning. In the evening Brian Wilkinson rang up with the same bad news. Apparently there will be a Mass on Thursday followed by a cremation. I spoke to Jane Tate. She told me that Nottingham had sent particulars of their operations to the office. The anarchist Pat Bond found the subject interesting and decided he would direct them. She told him to send the papers to me. He constantly encourages people to communicate with him. He interferes in everybody’s work, then having accumulated more than he can manage, he throws his absurd tantrums and canary fits and accuses everybody of driving him into the grave, and he a sick man. He came in to the shop today, though it was Jane Tate’s day. He is like one of Jung’s “introverts” who must “control the object” and is as incomprehensible and illogical as that same Jung. Later I rang Paul Salveson and arranged to go and look for the duplicator he has offered to sell us. I also rang Barney Morgan and he said he would try to get Pat Doherty. On the question of what makes Pat Bond tick, is it desire for admiration? I doubt it. More probably it is the sense of being the man, the centre, the pivot. His South London operations are disastrous. Nobody shows the slightest initiative. All is done by Pat Bond.
April 14 Tuesday: The spring weather returned with improvement – I would say the temperature reached the low sixties, and this is early, a good sign for once. I did a couple of hours gardening, but I can see it is soon going to get too much for me, and I may try to employ somebody to put the cultivated ground down to grass again, and I will confine myself to a few herbs and the soft fruit. However, I mended some fences and dug a part of the North-West bed. Apart from this I did not go out. Pat Bond did not send on the Nottingham stuff as Jane Tate had insisted, though a packet arrived containing plenty of irrelevant material. Yesterday was “last copy”. Something came from John Boyd, but nothing from Tony Coughlan, nothing from Pat Bond or Gerry Curran. I am going to stop remonstrating. I will wait for nothing. If it comes while I still have room, well and good. Otherwise I fill the space.
I had a word on the telephone with Kevin Mitchell in Glasgow. Margaret Byrne’s funeral is at 2 pm. on Thursday. I thought of going but decided against. I would have to leave London at about 7 am. and after an hour in Glasgow go back to Liverpool. I have enough trouble with these wretched eye instillations sitting at home, without trying a whole day at it on a train. And as I have two to do in the morning, which have to be separated by 20 minutes, I would need to get up early enough for that. It is an absolute devil, and no consolation at all that other people are in worse condition, as there has been no palpable loss of vision. I would not however be surprised if these damn steroids were to cause cataract to develop. As for that, McKay said there was cataract two years and six months ago. The optician said there was not, but a “slight cloudiness”. For my part I can see the fuzzy black spots in the right eye when I look at a bright light, though I can hardly see them on this page.
April 15 Wednesday (London): I took the 9.56 to Euston, went to Jane Tate’s to do an instillation, then later met Paul Gilhooly for a talk. I told him frankly he was undisciplined and couldn’t follow a policy, and may have done him some good. We had the London members’ meeting in the evening. Pat Bond was there, and Chris Sullivan, Gerry Curran, John Boyd, Pat O’Donohue and among the young people Paul Gilhooley, Martin Moriarty, Helen Bennett, but not the O’Flaherty’s. Corcoran was there and is beginning to develop. I think Pat O’Donohue is secretly antagonistic to Gerry Curran, for he has contrived that West London will send only one delegate, John Boyd, and I suspect he may not be there himself for the whole thing. Late at night I discovered I was without one kind of eyedrops. I stayed with Jane Tate.
April 16 Thursday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool and put in the eye-drops as soon as I got back. I noticed no deterioration, but then maybe one mightn’t. Tony Coughlan is quite obviously plunged into the referendum campaign, with a meeting in Buswell’s Hotel. Pat Bond has sent me some appalling doggerel about the “Birmingham Six” and I sent it back to him with the suggestion that he get a lawyer to check it for libel and contempt of court. I hope he is too ashamed to show it. This will be one of his personal contacts. He loves to be the obliging man.
April 17 Friday: Another fine warm day, with the temperature reaching the high sixties. It is not too early to be a good sign. I didn’t do much. I felt tired for some reason. But at 6 pm. I met Barney Morgan at Lime Street and we drove to Bolton and after a lot of searching found Paul Salveson poked away beside a railway cutting in Farnworth. He came out in T-shirt and shorts looking the picture of health and youth, and making me reflect on what forty odd years can do to you. There were three bicycles and a tandem in the garage – all his. He had gone cycling this morning and spent the afternoon gardening. The room was full of books, not many Marxist, but varied – Lancashire folk history predominating. But he has wide enough interests to have gone in for Thayer’s life of Beethoven. Apparently he spent six years as a railwayman, becoming a signalman, then became CP organiser under that horror of a Coughlan in Manchester. Barney Morgan and I loaded on to his land rover a duplicator which he is selling us for £50. Then we went to see Spencer who wants to bring Alisdair Logan and Annie Maguire to Lancashire [ie. Relatives involved in the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four prisoners’ release campaign]. He is in the IBRG, but I think has a republican background.
April 18 Saturday: There was more cloud today though it was still warm for the time of year. I managed to complete a page of the paper. But the way the contributors are behaving is disgraceful – not a squeak from Tony Coughlan, no book-page from Gerry Curran, nothing from Peter Mulligan or Joe Deighan, though he at least had the grace to say something. I have of course things that I can’t use. Derry Kelleher in Greystones has sent a thorough political anatomy of Justin Keating, whom he refers to as managing director of Bord na Mona, but I didn’t hear of that [Derry Kelleher, died 2001, chemical engineer, leading figure in “Official” Sinn Fein in the 1970s, author of several books on late 20th century Irish republicanism] . I had to write declining to publish an unprovoked attack on somebody who, though I’m no admirer of him, has not “done anything on me”.
April 19 Sunday: It had rained in the night, the wind was veered to the North-West and it was cooler. So much for our proto-summer. Tony Coughlan rang in the morning, apologising for not being in touch – as well he might – but explaining that the unexpected success in the SEA case had transformed the situation and submerged him in activity. I don’t know why he could not have telephoned to say he was not coming, but he seems to have got all the dates muddled. He was to have come on Friday 10th, but was talking about having intended to come over Easter. The excitement must have sent everything else out of his head. I did not consider a post-mortem called for. I explained to Barney Morgan who had been expecting Tony at Bolton, I was not upset though I was not too pleased. It was understandable. If Fine Gael had still been in office there would have been a sporting chance of winning the referendum, but as it is, he has little expectation of it [Fianna Fail had been critical of aspects of the Single European Act when in opposition, but it was elected to government under C.J. Haughey in the interval between the High Court and Supreme Court stages of the Crotty case, ousting the Fine Gael-Labour coalition] .
It was too chilly to do anything in the garden, so I did some work on the paper. It is likely to be a much better issue when I do it all myself and take my time over it. But it is at the expense of other urgent things, the house, the garden, Flann Campbell’s manuscript, Tax Returns, Bill payments etc.
April 20 Monday: Another cool day – but the warmth at the end of the week has brought out the second forsythia, reddened the rhododendron and produced a rash of lunaria and withered the daffodils. There were three burglaries at the Co-op in as many months [ie. across the road from his house in Prenton]. So they have fitted shutters. Every shop but the butchers has them now – the dentist, the wool shop boarded up, the newsagents, the off-licence and the greengrocers, and the row is like a fortress.
I spent most of the day on the paper. I am having to write most of it myself, so there will be some long articles. Perhaps Gerry Curran’s copy will arrive tomorrow. The phosphenes are definitely less frequent and I imagined tonight that the eye-balls were getting softer.
April 21 Tuesday: The weather has taken up again. I finished five pages of the paper and went into the city to post them off, also to see Joe O’Grady and learn how he had got on in Belfast. I also saw John Gibson who was in the shop with Veronica. One of their sons was there, an enormous fellow. I felt fed up with all this eye-trouble, so at 5 pm. I went for few drinks, getting back in time for the instillation. I thought there was a further reduction in the incidence of phosphenes, but this may have been the result of alcohol, which seems to have that effect, possibly by increasing the supply of blood to the eyes.
I bought Tom Nairn’s book at John Gibson’s, but much of it is pseudo-Marxist nonsense, which takes no account of Government policy. Things just happen. [Tom Nairn, Scottish political theorist and academic. The book referred to was probably either “The Left Against Europe” or “The Break-up of Britain”.] Gerry Curran’s copy came this morning, over a week late, also Stella Bond’s list. She has taken no notice whatever of my request to do it on a monthly basis, so that I get it at the start of the month. She is well matched with Pat Bond. Peter Mulligan wrote (a week after press day) to say his word processor has broken down and nothing is forthcoming! Gerry Curran, incidentally, explained the lateness of his copy by the occurrence of a “domestic crisis”, which is apparently now less acute.
April 22 Wednesday: It was warmer again today – quite early to get into the sixties. I got most of the paper off. There are thus four days for enough work to last a fortnight. I met Jean Brown[otherwise Jean Hack, his next-door neighbour] at the Birkenhead Post Office and she was talking about the state of the country, and the lawlessness. She didn’t believe it was caused by unemployment. She mentioned the thirties. But then people would help each other. Now they would not. It was just that the “wickedness had got into people”. When I suggested that those in high places set a bad example, it made no impression on her. She is a decent woman but moves in a completely parochial circle.
Ellen Mitchell rang about Glasgow late on, and I spoke to Barney Morgan and his son Sean about booking the Polytechnic Union for a meeting on the Guildford Four. Barney goes for a holiday in Crete on Friday.
I am at last getting a little more skilful with the instillations. and what is more, for the first time I feel I may be gaining on the glaucoma. Phosphenes are getting rare and I have no hesitation about going into the dark. But now there is a hard lump near the palm of my left hand, which will be a nuisance if I try to dig the garden. I remember Bulmer Hobson at the age of 80 saying to me, “I’m coming to pieces all over.”
April 23 Thursday: A letter came from Pat Bond agreeing to take legal advice on the subject of the song. It is appalling doggerel and I’d hoped he would drop it. I rang Clare Short’s office and a rather nasty young Englishman said nothing was known of the Connolly Association’s approach and she was not free in June. I wrote direct. Then came the worst. Alan Morton rang up. Freda died this morning. He sounded so shaken when he first rang that I hardly recognised his voice. Apparently she began to feel ill after breakfast. The ambulance was called, but she was gone before it arrived. There will probably be a post-mortem examination, so he doesn’t know when the funeral will be. My God! The troubles are raining down thick and fast now. I remember U. Basil Wiltshire – I think it was at AEG’s funeral [ie. Greaves’s mother] – saying, “We’re all being pushed over the edge now.” She was only 69, whereas he must now be 77.
I had a word with Jane Tate. Apparently Pat Bond wants to include that worthless doggerel because it will please young Mulready, whose committee he attends from time to time. Oh the great and good big fellow, Pat Bond. In his letter to me this morning he says my asking for a legal check has thrown him into despondency. Well the big egotistical baby can sit and enjoy his despondency. The only way to deal with this martyrdom exhibitionism is to take no notice of it and “segui il tuo corso” [Follow your own course – from Dante]. But though I say little publicly, or try to, I regard with utter contempt and disgust this creature that will publish any rot, without regard for the standards of the paper or the politics of the case, as long as he “keeps in” with somebody who will regard him as a benefactor. It was characteristic that his branch sent in no resolutions. Lots of people ask what makes him tick. Perhaps it is egoism. Still, his work is useful despite the conditions under which it is done.
I spoke to Jane Tate about the election fever and the possibility of having to cancel the June 6th conference. I thought of perhaps making it a London Regional conference, but she would rather save the money. And like us Gerry Curran was in two minds. But to show how little any of them think, she says “Let’s have a regional one instead.” When? And he asked, “What conference? About the building trade?” “We’ve had that already,” I replied. However he has found a duplicator we could have, now that I have got one. I rang Peter Mulligan. He has by far the best political head of the lot of them. He grasped the issue at once and advised cancellation.
I rang up Dublin and spoke to Helga. She is an absolutely marvellous woman, and I’m sure Cathal recognises his luck. I told her about Freda and she was most concerned and sympathetic and promised to write to Alan Morton. She said they are having some trouble with Tony Coughlan because his tumultuous enthusiasm leads him to cut corners and he tells the solicitor what is the law. I laughed at this. In some ways he resembles Pat Bond – but a grown-up one, and of course with more brains. Pat Bond is, I would say, the choleric temperament. Tony thinks himself very staid and phlegmatic but is very much the sanguine. So Tony Coughlan is stable, Pat Bond is not.
Later again Alan Morton rang up to ask me to say a few words at Freda’s funeral. He sounds worse than he did this morning. It has been a shattering blow, obviously. But I have Nottingham on Monday evening, Ripley on Tuesday and Liverpool on Wednesday, and have to bear instillations in mind. I might take a first-class sleeper.
Later Cathal rang. He wants to ring Alan Morton, so I gave him the number. He also complained of Tony Coughlan, saying he was “impossible” and that Micheál Ó Loingsigh agreed with him. His charge is egotism and arrogance. “If his hand doesn’t do something, it isn’t done.” Certainly I have some experience of it, for he was coming over last Friday week and simply didn’t turn up. That is a bad sign. And Cathal again stigmatises contempt for other people. On the other hand Cathal is one for taking it easy, and may not relish not being allowed to!
April 24 Friday: Early on Jane Tate rang. I want a base for the duplicator and she ascertained that there was one in the office. Pat Bond had thrown away the good duplicator and kept the broken one. She asked him what was its weight and size. The big stupid baby got into a passion, finally saying, “Well, I’ll have to go and measure it.” This would take two minutes at most, but he makes himself a martyr for it! She would not ring him up about anything else. “He’s in a bad temper,” she explained.
Later Alan Morton rang saying the funeral is on Thursday. I had looked up the trains and as far as I can see, since I can’t skip the Liverpool meeting, I’ll need to go to Crewe and take the 1.15 am. I rang up Josephine Logan and arranged to be at Nottingham at 6.40 on Monday. I also rang Gerry Curran to say there was no need for him to take my place. He had willingly consented to do so. And apart from that I did not go out except to cycle down to the Post Office. Today was another melancholy anniversary. It was on April 24th 1947 that CEG [ie. his father] died. I remember the circumstances well. I was at the International Committee and the warm weather had already started. I felt the most incredible thirst and downed several pints of beer in succession. As a result I was in late and Phyllis rang me the next morning. I had had a very strenuous evening meeting in which Jimmy Shields supported me against R. Palme Dutt and won – though we were wrong, I now think. Then I had a Board meeting at Powell Dufferyn, but that was not strenuous as I had no executive, or no more than an executive, responsibility. I got the midday train to Liverpool. And all through that very hot summer, when the windows had to be kept open, a jazz group had established itself in a flat on Great James Street and the saxophone blared till 11 pm. An embolism had killed him.
April 25 Saturday: Another fine warm day. I tied up the loganberries and planted one of the layerings and prepared part of the runner bead bed. The rhododendron is out – early I would say and there is a grand display of lonicera [ie. honeysuckle]. I never saw so much flower on the currants, and the gooseberries seem to have appreciated the KNO3 [ie. potassium nitrate]. But now it is getting too dry. I had a word with Gerry Curran. Peter Mulligan has got the “Irish Democrat” on microfilm and wants to charge £900 for each copy. I must find out how many reels it runs to, as I pay £16 a reel. I can’t believe there are even 20 reels. I estimate the whole serial would amount to less than 4,000 frames. Gerry Curran says he paid £300 plus. So that is about 8p. a frame. Some of the reels I have contain 400-500 frames. So there could be 8-10 reels. In Ireland I pay £16 a reel; it would be £20 here. So I suppose £900 is not extortionate.
In the evening Arthur Devlin rang up about the Guildford Four. He told me it is not the IBRG but some nebulous committee set up in Manchester. Spencer – whom I didn’t trust, any more than I trust Devlin – allowed us to believe that Logan would be prepared to come. Devlin says that is out of the question. He was not too pleased when I said if we didn’t know what we were being offered we would not want to touch it. So I told him to begin again and write to us officially on proper notepaper stating exactly the proposition and we would consider it. I can’t stand these damned amateurs. What’s more, you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for.
April 26 Sunday: Another fine day. I went cycling in the afternoon as far as Thornton Hough and was surprised at the number of cyclists about – one small club, a half dozen or so singles, some young men, others old, and several families. The flora is not what it was – dandelions everywhere, a few late celandines, sisymbrium, a patch of dead nettles, myosotis, daisies – a far cry from the rich and varied roadsides of fifty years ago. But there were horse chestnuts out, very early. I did not do much. Freda Morton’s death has unsettled me, and as for Alan, he rang up in the evening and is obviously in a shocking state, which he freely admits. It was a bolt from the blue. This looks like the year of disasters.
April 27 Monday (Nottingham): In the morning a woman I take to be Devlin’s wife rang to say he had written me a letter which will arrive in time for Wednesday’s meeting. Her tone was distinctly unfriendly and I took it to be of the intimidatory style adopted by some of these wee organisations that want other people to do as they say and consider themselves free to denounce them if they do not [The body referred to was concerned with the release of the Guildford Four]. I rang Paul Salveson last night. He will not completely throw his lot in with the Connolly Association, as I hoped but didn’t expect. He says Devlin has been a long time around but that whole group are divided by petty jealousies and the sort of intrigue where there is well-wishing but no principle. They’ll have to come to another shop to try the intimidation process.
I left for Nottingham in the afternoon, and after performing the instillation at Josephine Logan’s, went to the meeting. It clashed with one by Fred Westacott, whom I met outside the hall. There was quite a good gathering and two new members. I stayed the night with Imelda. I think she may be the oldest of the Connollys [Several members of the Connolly family had been active members of the Connolly Association in Nottingham for years]. Peter, the father, is still alive and in Longford. The mother is near London. Tom is in Longford. Ned Connolly is still in Rathluirc [ie. Charleville, Co. Cork].I did not know the family details till Imelda told me. Peter Connolly was in the CPI and it was presumably he who got Dan to print the paper. Sean Murray was often in their house from the time of the foundation of the CPI. I never before knew the CPI background. Her mother, and I think Peter, originally were from Co. Fermanagh. At the meeting was her 23-year-old son Michael, something of a ne’er-do-well, though no political fool. He was two years in the Free State army, but tired of it and came back home. He is unemployed for two years. “But, sure any family can afford one gentleman,” says Imelda! There were some promising young people at the meeting.
April 28 Tuesday: Josephine Logan’s friend drove us both out to Ripley, where the paper went with reasonable dispatch. Terry Reynolds said the election is certain. The Rotherham Labour Party asked for election addresses and said to him, “Order the ink.” But he couldn’t get the day out of them. Old Melville was in the Labour Party. As I understand it, as soon as he died his widow – or it might have been Terry’s wife – joined the Conservative Party, so now he gets printing business from them as well! [These were members of the Reynolds family that ran Ripley Printers].
I bought a sleeping car ticket yesterday and rang Alan Morton to tell him. He said that some of the relations of Freda’s will be going to Edinburgh on the same train. He sounds better. Two days ago he was telling me how badly shaken he was. But it may be that the first shock has worn off. Of course it is late in life to be subjected to shocks. He says that Alisoun Morton’s mysterious twenty-year-old disease has at last been traced to its source – a virus infection.
April 29 Wednesday: I went to the Connolly Association branch meeting which was again poorly attended, though there were apologies from those unable to come. We agreed to have Devlin’s troop, though with slight misgivings. Those present were Joe O’Grady, Pat Mullen, Pat Doherty and the Tauntons, who are looking a bit shaken. I took the 10.40 to Crewe.
April 30 Thursday (Glasgow/Liverpool): I caught the 1.15 am. at Crewe and had a sleeper to Edinburgh. The sleepers are expensive but greatly improved. I could find nowhere for a breakfast, so took a glass of wine, since the bar opens at 7 am., and then a taxi up to 6 Dryden Place. Alisoun Morton seems quite lively and Alan has got over the first shock. Freda’s brother and another relative came from London. The funeral was at 10.45, in a crematorium on the Southern outskirts. A Presbyterian minister officiated and I contributed a brief “oration” which was well received. A number of friends and neighbours came in and drank sherry in the garden. John Morton was there, looking very prosperous now he has a job as a scientist at last. I don’t think he is the man his sister is, however. She has something of Freda in her. She is not returning to live with Alan, but of course who can say what will happen. They took me down to Waverley and I caught the 5.15 to Preston, from which the train stopped at every station to Lime Street. I wrote to Frank Field about this disgrace [Frank Field, born 1942, was Labour MP for Birkenhead; Greaves wrote to him from time to time on different political matters].
There was bad news from Glasgow, put out of my mind by the Edinburgh events. On top of the death of Margaret Byrne, the Star Club, at which the Connolly Association was to have had a May Day social evening, went bankrupt, so that the guests arrived to find the doors closed. This is of course another consequence of the absurd CP squabbling and the activities of the liquidators. Alan Morton, like myself, still keeps up membership, but little more. The Glasgows are down in the dumps and talk of leaving further activity to the end of the summer, which probably means never. The news came via Pat Bond on one of his incessant telephone tours, by which he wastes his money but inflates his ego.
May 1 Friday: I got on with work for the conference [ie. the Connolly Association annual conference]. There are about 36 elected delegates, and 26 nominations for the Executive. According to Jane Tate Paul Gilhooley has been having a great time organising the votes, but I think he is only playing at king-making. I spoke to Peter Mulligan in the evening. The weather turned chilly again, but now that the sun is high, once the sky clears it warms up.
May 2 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.56 to London, went to Jane Tate’s, had lunch and then went to the Standing Committee. Those present were Pat Bond, Sean Burke, Paul Gilhooley, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran and Martin Moriarty. We went through the mass of resolutions and got some kind of order into the chaos. I think Paul Gilhooley, who cleared off and wouldn’t come with us for tea, is not mightily pleased that we are bringing forward the other young people as well. But he can have a place, not the place. I had a drink with Sean Burke afterwards. This will be the first proper conference for years, and I will think of carrying on with the organising till I get the regional organisation in place.
On the way to London I sat opposite a young woman of about 30, who was married and with children, but was studying architecture. She was interested in politics and said she voted communist – it must be Roger O’Hara [former CPGB organiser in Liverpool]. On the way back, I sat in a reserved seat expecting that the owner would not arrive in the five minutes before the train left. But he did. I moved over to a vacant seat where a young man was sitting. Seeing my “New Scientist” he asked if I was a scientist. I thought he might be a science student, but when I suggested this he said, “No, I’m not clever enough.” But later he volunteered that he was in a political party – the SWP [ie. the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party]. He was quite knowledgeable in political affairs and had been to schools they hold. His name was O’Brien and his hero was Sean O’Casey. I asked him how old he was. He replied “eighteen”. He had been in the SWP about a year. Now this shows the criminality of those who wrecked the YCL [ie. Young Communist League]. He had a good head and on leaving I told him to educate himself.
May 3 Sunday: It was cold, though mercifully dry. I did not go out but did my accounts and sorted out some conference arrangements. Last night I got a taxi up to No.124 and there were nophosphenes – I think for the first time.
May 4 Monday: Another cold day. I didn’t go out. There were phosphenes again, though not so troublesome as before the treatment started. I got together some material for an “Annual Report”. Going through the records I was struck by my endless complaints about Pat Bond. We need a full-time organiser, but nobody could work with that whited sepulchre. There would have to be a most unholy row. He would wreck anybody. I learn from Pat O’Donohue that Mark Clinton has fallen down again. He is not coming.
May 5 Tuesday: I got precious little done today. I got up late, went to the bank, had lunch in town, and the result of the whole day was five letters sent off. I did however contact Ellen Mitchell, who is coming to the conference. There was no mail today.
May 6 Wednesday: The good weather is back – the second anticyclone to drift to the south of us. I cycled to Bebington Post Office and sent off credentials to all delegates. Sean Redmond rang up in the evening and I told him of the cancellation of the June 6th conference on account of the election fever. He is coming to Liverpool with young Thomas [ie. his son, properly “young Sean”], who wants to see Everton play football, but must choose next Saturday, when I’ll be in London.
May 7 Thursday: Another fine warm day with temperatures well up in the sixties. There has already this year been more good weather than in the last two. I got out an annual report and arranged with Jane Tate to do some photocopying tomorrow. I also went out and voted Labour.
May 8 Friday (London): I caught the 9 am. train to Euston and called in to Jane Tate. She agreed to photocopy the resolutions and annual report I had typed out over the past few days. There were one or two resolutions I thought dubious and I left them to the end in half a hope that they might not be reached, and I was rendered curious when Jane Tate told me that Paul Gilhooley, who mercifully can’t keep his gob shut, had told one of the South-West London members to be “sure to vote the right way”. So he was factionalising amongst the youngsters. I suppose this is the CP tradition. I went into the bookshop and saw Pat Bond. Apart from that there was not much.
May 9 Saturday: The conference opened today with 31 out of 37 delegates attending. Peter Mulligan took the chair. Among those present were Jane Tate, Paddy Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan, Martin Moriarty, Derek O’Flaherty and his mot, Paul Gilhooley, Ciaran Corcoran, a man called Jeffries who had tabled a resolution that one-eighth of the “Irish Democrat” should be written in Irish, the young fellow Michael Barry and a sprinkling of others, Joe O’Grady, Pat Doherty, Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran, Stella Bond, Helen Mitchell from Glasgow and Mairead Sheridan from Nottingham. It was typical of Pat Bond that he should reserve the two most interesting delegates for himself and drive Mairead Sheridan and Ellen Mitchell out home without giving them the opportunity of meeting anybody. Jane Tate like myself was furious. “Look,” says she, “he’s chosen the prettiest girl and taken her out to Eltham.” That might have played a part, but it is more likely to be egotism, the desire to get all the information and keep it to himself. Michael Crowe arrived late. He had not received my letter, having returned to the old address. Pat Bond knew this but kept it to himself. However we went to a pub in the evening, Bond having objected to running a conference social.
May 10 Sunday (Liverpool): A bizarre drama unfolded today. The interminable resolutions were taken one by one. All morning the youngsters were very good and accepted the amendments. The same began the afternoon, but the resolutions I had put at the end were indeed what Paul Gilhooley had been working for. I think Corcoran is very much his creature, and there is no need, for he is not stupid. Michael Crowe knows his brother who is a teacher in Newcastle. They are of Cork extraction, brought up in Dagenham in a very Irish atmosphere. Anyway, one of these began by saying that the majority of the Irish in Britain were under 26 years of age, which is palpable nonsense. There were a number of rather pointless proposals, culminating in the “instruction” that the E.C. consider running a “social event” for the youth. What it was was not stated. When Joe O’Grady and others objected that conferences were to decide policy, not the details of how it is to be carried out, it emerged that the project was well advanced. A “pop-group” was to be invited, and they had already signalled their willingness to perform. More factional activity. Moreover, it was clear that this was the item for which people were to “vote the right way”. Joe O’Grady pointed out that any branch could hold a social or concert wherever they wished. Of course it was obvious that Paul Gilhooley was looking for a place in the limelight and thought the E.C. would supply the funds. I urged that the resolution be remitted and ultimately got my own way. One or two smaller episodes followed. A resolution called for a person on the E.C. to be put “in charge of trade union work”. This the same faction pursued, but we shot that down as well. Then ballot papers were distributed.
I thought over the question of whether to vote for Paul Gilhooley. I decided that though I had no objection to his being on it, I would prefer his name to be low down the list. I therefore switched to the NCP youngster, Michael Barry. The vote was announced in due course. Paul got 16 votes and thereby failed to be elected. It was obviously a bitter blow to him. He was like a pricked balloon, said nothing to anybody and took himself off.
But the voting was interesting. Out of 31 possible votes John Boyd got 30, but in the next tier, Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, Jane Tate and myself got 28. So three people objected to us. Who were they? Gerry Curran got 25. Pat O’Donohue got 24, and Derek O’Flaherty also got 24, whereas Martin Moriarty, a far superior young man, got only 18, as did Tony Donaghey. Flann Campbell got 19, and Corcoran scraped in with 17, also Paddy Byrne. Josephine Logan and Ellen Mitchell were both elected. Now clearly if I had voted for Paul Gilhooley both he and Michael Barry would have had 17, so there would have been a tie of four for the two places. I suppose we would have put them all on. So what would have happened is that everything would be much the same but Paul would have been elected. So in effect I vetoed him.
What will the result be? Stella Bond came to me in a very worried mood. She had voted for him. But who voted against? Not the provincials. There must be a group of dissidents among the young people – probably Martin Moriarty and Michael Barry. Derek O’Flaherty, however, in spite of only being in the Association only two months, got 24 votes. To a great extent however I think Paul Gilhooley’s puppy-doggishness eroded his support among the steady people. I did not return with Joe O’Grady and Pat Doherty. There was no refreshment car on the 4.55, so I took the 5.02, a Holyhead train, and changed at Chester, arriving at Hamilton Square at 9 o’clock.
In the voting figures the booby prize was won by Michael Mortimer with 5, seconded by Donal MacGrath who had 8. Who those 8 were would be interesting.
May 11 Monday: The psephological calculations I made yesterday were vitiated by an error. Jane Tate disclosed that the tellers added the votes wrongly. The number of papers was only 28, so John Boyd got the maximum, as did myself, Jane Tate, Pat Bond and Peter Mulligan. So there is no hidden opposition. I wonder who voted for Paul Gilhooley? There are five who voted for Michael Mortimer. These would be those immediately around Paul. Donal MacGrath got 8, so that would be from the Hackney group around Corcoran. But Paul had 8 more, and 12 were against him. I think these would include as well as myself, Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Peter Mulligan, the two NCPs, Barry and O’Hare, John Boyd almost certainly, which leaves possibly Ellen Mitchell and Mairead Sheridan, and maybe Gerry Curran and Charlie Cunningham, or perhaps more likely Michael Crowe than either of the girls. I went into the city looking for an anorak I left on the train, but it had not been handed in. I spoke to Jane Tate about the possibility of a Standing Committee next Saturday. The election is announced, so our conference is shifted to October 24th. This will of course ruin my annual holiday, but with all this trouble with my eyes, what sort of holiday would I get anyway when I couldn’t go out for a full day, but just be coming in to dowse my eyes? It is palpably true that all is not lost, but a recognisable chance has been!
I had a word with Ellen Mitchell. She thinks I was harsh with the young people. I think many of them take too maternal a view of youth. They are not “poor things” to be handled tenderly and protected, but treated as people responsible for what they do and bearing the consequences with no more outside protection than would be given anybody else. I asked Jane Tate what she thought of Paul’s demotion. “I’ll be glad to be rid of his nonsense,” she said, “but I hope he doesn’t turn nasty. This indeed will be the test of the man he is.” He has been the source of endless trouble. He is an incorrigible little intriguer and cannot carry out any common purpose as it is commonly conceived. It was just before marking that ballot paper that I decided I would not bother with him any more. And I think we’ll hold the others if we act very speedily. Jane Tate agreed to convene a Standing Committee on Saturday. Then we must educate the others – through action.
May 12 Tuesday: I got little done today. The weather is cold again, with the North wind bringing it down to little over 50F. I am tired and perhaps in need of a holiday, though how I am going to arrange it with this damned eye- trouble I do not know. Ellen Mitchell rang in the evening saying she had arranged a meeting for next Wednesday and I’ll just have to hope for the best regarding instillations. Barney Morgan called in. He is always positive. Jane Tate is sending up a steel table for the duplicator and Barney promises to pick it up. he is also doing something for the Maguire meeting. He says of Paul Gilhooley’s humiliation, “It’ll either make him or break him and if he’s broken by that, you’ve lost nothing.”
May 13 Wednesday: Again a cold day, turning to rain in the evening. I did not go out. I suppose after a cold winter like the last there are immense reservoirs of cold air that won’t be warmed till July. I spoke to Jane Tate in the morning. She was again glad to see the back of Paul Gilhooley, and for my part I felt increasingly satisfied that I had acted wisely, though I was prepared for a later show-down. I think it possible that he will try to direct CN from outside. That’s why I want to push on with the utmost speed to give him no time. I still don’t think him a bad lad, but utterly conceited and irresponsible. I wrote to John Boyd and Joe Jamison. In the evening John Boyd came on the line to tell me that the British Housewives League had had a whip round at a committee meeting and raised £350 for RC [It is not known whom this refers to]. I also talked to Joe O’Grady and Barney Morgan. Jane Tate has sent a steel table for the duplicator we got from Paul Salveson and he will pick it up from Lime Street in the morning.
May 14 Thursday: Barney Morgan brought the table in the morning, and put the duplicator on it. For the time being I will keep it in the hall. Later I went into the city and picked up Martin Bernal’s “Black Athena” from “News from Nowhere” [ie. the Liverpool left-wing bookshop. Martin Bernal was son of the scientist Professor Desmond Bernal]. It is a most interesting book, and my mind goes back to the early thirties when I formed the opinion that Egypt was central, though I was then led via Flinders Petrie – I think he was in Liverpool, but the lecture I went to on the excavating of Jericho was by another man – Spengler [ie. Oswald Spengler, 1880-1936, author of “The Decline of the West”]. When years afterwards I picked up Spengler again I wondered how I could be impressed – though not convinced I may say – by such romantic nonsense.
I went up to Lime Street and went into the bar. Joe O’Grady tracked me down there on a hint from Mandy Vere in the bookshop. The fringe meeting at the NUPE conference has been put off on the advice of their Northern members, and the news is conveyed in a classic letter.
I saw Mrs Liddell when I went for a paper. Like myself she had received a letter from the Corporation, saying that the proprietress of the closed-down wool shop across the road is appealing against the decision to prevent it being turned into a fish and chip take-away. “Isn’t she a faggot?” says she. “The ‘for sale’ sign is up but she’s refusing offers. She wants to sell it with planning permission and get more money.” I promised to draft a letter of opposition and give her a copy.
May 15 Friday: A letter came from Roy Johnston saying he is coming to England and wants to discuss setting up a “Bernal Institute” at Warwick (University I presume) and some outfit called Links Europe he is involved in. He and Janice are now “principals” of “Techne Associates” operating from his house with a Post Office box number as “business and technology strategists”. I am going to put him off, using the excuse of the general election.
At about 6.20 pm. I had a call from Joe Jamison. He speaks of going to the ITGWU conference in a fortnight’s time, then staying with Tony Coughlan, then possibly coming to London or Liverpool. I told him we would like him to give a lecture in Liverpool on the Irish in America. He said he would consider it. I had already discussed this with Barney Morgan and Joe O’Grady. Indeed Barney Morgan had rung in the morning. Joe O’Grady will go to NUPE tomorrow, but the “fringe meeting” is of course off.
In the evening I rang Alan Morton who says he has got over the worst shock, and who certainly sounds better. He had been in Liverpool to see his sister, but the visit was brief and he went back today. Alisoun Morton is much better since the doctors identified her disease as due to a virus.
May 16 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I caught the 9.56 to Euston. There was no buffet car on it, but it ran on time and I went to Jane Tate’s for an instillation – damned nuisance that it is. The Standing Committee took place – Pat Bond, Corcoran, Tony Donaghey, Margaret Byrne and Flann Campbell were unable to attend, but we had Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Gerry Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Martin Moriarty and Derek O’Flaherty. There had been a possibility that Corcoran would attend, so I assess the loss due to Paul Gilhooley’s departure as near zero politically. Indeed after the meeting the other two were slightly cynical about him. He was going to “have a holiday” and was taken up with a wee girl. Both Martin Moriarty and Derek O’Flaherty are graduates, Martin Moriarty of “English” and the other of “Politics” at UCD. Derek O’Flaherty is still very much identified with the CPI, and all its members are not as clear as Michael O’Riordan on the national question. Anyway I “enclosed” Ciaran Corcoran’s youth festival proposal by making it part of a Jubilee Year in 1988. And at heart there are two new activists. Throughout the meeting Pat Bond was glancing at his watch. He hates political discussion and never says a word in it. Stella Bond had told Jane that the Standing Committee had decided that the Connolly Association should pay the bookshop staff at the “Morning Star” festival at Alexandra Palace. I assured her it had not. And just in time to forestall Jane Tate, Pat Bond raised the matter to seek agreement. Jane thought that as treasurer she should have been consulted. And that is true. I think the failure to consult her is in part anti-feminism, for the way Pat Bond speaks to Stella Bond is often most patronising, though she takes it. But it also is a part of Bond’s egotism, and Jane tells me that she has been surprised lately at the number of people who say they can’t stand Pat Bond. I came back on the Blackpool train.
May 17 Thursday: It rained most of the morning and afternoon. I had a word with Barney Morgan on the telephone. I did not go out but managed some clearing up.
May 18 Monday: A better day. I did some clearing up and went on with Bernal’s book. I must say it accords with many things I have understood to be the case in the past. In the evening I rang Ellen Mitchell about a the visit on Wednesday. The husband said, “Paddy Bond has just rung off.” But though he goes to Yorkshire, makes good tours and telephones everybody, all he does is to link people up with himself. I start the branches; he attaches them to his empire. It is almost pathological. He has not started a single thing. But what a great man they are supposed to think Pat Bond! And of course he does work. Is there a profound psychological need for reassurance and security? As I said, he is just one of my penances. However, there’ll be a few more branches soon. I hope he doesn’t charge us the telephone bill. Later on Roy Johnston rang. I said I would see him in London. I got a little done in the garden.
May 19 Tuesday: A wet dark morning and a wet dark evening, with a little sunshine in the afternoon. I wrote to the Department of Employment about the chip shop and left in a copy for the Liddels. I went out but only to the shops. I am still very uneasy about the eyes and don’t look forward to what I may be told on June 23rd. Also the deaths of Margaret Byrne and Freda Morton so suddenly and in quick succession have affected me more than I might have expected. One asks, where will it strike next? But I went on with Bernal’s book, which is one of the most interesting I have read for a long time.
May 20 Wednesday (Glasgow): I got up early and caught the 8.50, which stopped at every station to Wigan, but made connection with a London train to Glasgow. I went to the bookshop and was going to see Ashton, when I saw Ellen Mitchell waving to me. I had passed her workplace just as she was emerging. So we took the underground to Kelvinhall, which is really Partick, and waited till her husband, Kevin, came in. After a meal we went to the meeting. There were only ten there though many more had promised. Brett Kibble was to have been chairman but did not turn up and Jim Friel was in London. To make matters worse, Freddie Anderson was there – drunk as usual. He has degenerated badly. But he seems to have broken with Dominic Behan. I think I remember hearing something about this. But oddly Elllen Mitchell spoke about Dominic’s wife and son. I did not think he was married. He had insulted Ellen Mitchell when they last met. However the continuity was kept up.
Kevin Mitchell does not drink. But both of them gave me a most favourable impression. I had to laugh though. Pat Bond is going to stay with them for a few days when he has his holiday. Trust him to fix everything up to suit himself. But I’m not sorry as it will help to hold things in Glasgow, and it’s no skin off my nose. Kevin is a traditional singer, a Derryman. But Feargal O’Doherty, who was kicked out of the CP, has started his own Irish organisation, a “campaign for democratic rights in Ulster”, and has been consulting with members of the STUC [Scottish Trades Union Congress]. One can see the logic of it. He preferred this CP to the Connolly Association because of their economist position. Now, kicked out of the CP, he starts a new economist organisation, which is disappointing. The Mitchells said that many of the members were personal friends of Margaret Byrne and now she is not around they may not see the same reason for being active. And apparently the native Irish are almost entirely from Donegal, for example Gweedore or the the Rosses. Ellen Mitchell is a teacher in adult education, Kevin Mitchell is a foreman painter.
May 21 Thursday (Liverpool): I got back better, on the Royal Scot to Preston, and within six minutes a not-too-slow train to Liverpool. I had a lot of troublesome phosphenes last evening, though as usual they yielded to the ministrations of alcohol. Whether it is good or bad practice, it does seem to dispose of them. But that makes me a little more despondent about the instillations being adequate to control the disease. I got a letter off to Joe Jamison.
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Glasgow, and when I left I thought another was promised. Further south it was cloudy. I would, I suppose, classify the clouds as cumulo-stratus, but this is merely to give a description. The higher ones merged into fracto-cumulus. All evening there was a dark pall of stratus. The classical cumulo-stratus occurs at a near calm, and shows patches of blue and yellow, probably where faint currents rise and fall. The clouds today might have been formed at higher temperatures and more turbulence, But there were no cumulous heads. Colm Power sent me a cutting that shows that that rat Kinnock has dropped the demand for withdrawal from the EEC. I was hoping for a holiday in early June. Then the election date was announced. If that is what has happened I may go on the holiday. Field is safe anyway [ie. Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead]. He doesn’t need my vote. But this might be the last holiday of the old kind I will get, depending on the prognosis. However, there were hardly any phosphenes tonight.
May 22 Friday: Quite early in the morning Ellen Mitchell rang to see if I had arrived safely. She is an enormously good-hearted woman, but about forty years of age and I think shrewd enough not to allow her good nature to be exploited. I had forgotten about the bank holiday, so went into town to make some purchases. There were some sunny periods, but mostly the day was dark and cool with a North-East wind. This is not the sign of a good summer. I remember 1938, when I was with Synthetic Oils at Epsom. There was no pissoir, so we used to go behind a small gas-boiler. The North wind blew for months and Middleton, noting it came from this odd quarter, would say “spit first and make sure of it”. There were phosphenes again in the evening.
May 23 Saturday: The weather was still cool but not quite so bad. Jane Tate rang up from her brother’s in Kent and said it was pouring rain there. I didn’t get much done. I met Mrs Liddell. She says 200 people have sent in protests about the “chip shop”, but some of the them nearest to it have refused. “She’s brainwashed them,” says Mrs Liddell. “She’s said if this goes through you’ll be all right.” I finished Bernal’s book, but must have another go at it sometime. John Hoffman in Leicester can’t do the school on imperialism on July 12th, so I wrote to Ron Bellamy in Leeds. I also rang Cathal who says the ITGWU conference opens on Wednesday, so Joe Jamison may have left before he got my letter. He thinks there’s little hope on Tuesday, but the thing has been held up for six months and there has been an intense debate [ie. the Irish constitutional referendum on ratifying the Single European Act treaty, consequent on the Supreme Court judgement in the Crotty case].
May 24 Sunday: Today was quite a fine day, sunny and reasonably warm by the afternoon. As a result I spent several hours in the garden and cleared about a third of the new bed. I also managed to do a little on the paper. Otherwise I did not go out, except for newspapers. I had a word with Joe O’Grady in the morning.
May 25 Monday: A reasonable day again. I went on with the paper. A note in Peter Mulligan’s copy indicated a sizeable break in Labour policy towards Ireland. They talk about “harmonising” Six and Twenty-Six counties and transferring sovereignty when the North is ready for it. But I have not seen the Gill statement anywhere, and just what the “harmonising” amounts to I would like to know. It seems suspiciously like Oswald Mosley’s “Ireland’s right to unity on entering European Union” – abolishing Partition once it is no longer necessary to keep the country down.
May 26 Tuesday: I got the best part of four pages finished and posted three off. I will have to hold one for the referendum result. I was going through all the cuttings and the campaign seems to have rallied all that is best in Ireland. It could be like the Republican Congress, whose defeat ushered in the long period of reaction. All the people I know are in it, and all seem to have behaved magnificently, even if occasionally they have got on each other’s nerves. I only went out to the Post Office and in the evening spoke to Peter Mulligan.
May 27 Wednesday: I worked on the paper but also went into Birkenhead. The weather was fine and quite warm – mid sixties. The CA branch met in the evening, with Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan, Pat Doherty, Mallon and Roy Frodsham – every one of them over 55. There is no sign of Michael Mortimer. But we decided on an AGM, and an excursion on July 5th. The AGM is on the 24th June. I have to go to the hospital on the 23rd, and have a distinct fear they will want to operate, though tonight there were no phosphenes. There is no doubt alcohol suppresses them. Is this by bringing blood into peripheral organs by reflectory veins? I had a few whiskies with Barney Morgan and Pat Doherty, while Joe O’Grady took more than his usual slender ration of small beer. I think he is plucking up courage again. For a time after his illness he would only drink shandy. But I find it very tiring after all those years of near perfect health to be dependent on drugs and under threat of the scalpel.
May 28 Thursday: I got most of the paper off, though I was all day on it, and only went as far as the post. It was 10F cooler today. It is very changeable. I had a word with Jane Tate in the morning. Pat Bond is trying to get £100 out of the CA fund for the shop. He wanted to borrow it. Then he didn’t want to pay it back. Meanwhile he has £500 of South London money in a Building Society. Jane Tate thinks he may be working up towards another stroke. I hope not. But there may be some brain damage from the last. He never used to go on like this. Somebody told Jane Tate that Paul Gilhooley was very cut up about not making the E.C. and said we must look after him or we would lose him. I’m not sure that I’d worry too much, and Jane agrees. That last cabal with the conference was enough for me. He is completely untrustworthy and I do not now think I could have done much with him if I had been there. The interesting thing is that even after being let back into things more or less on sufferance, he still went ahead with his intrigue. Martin Moriarty on the other hand is enquiring about the Central London meetings. I rang Paul Salveson in the evening as our excursion is to Manchester.
May 29 Thursday: Terry Reynolds rang up from Ripley to say the copy had not yet arrived, so I must delay my excursion there till Tuesday. Then at long last Tony Coughlan rang up to say his sister who was due from Pakistan on triennial leave was coming a week early and he proposed to meet her on Tuesday and was thinking of coming to Liverpool. It would thus have been better if I could have gone to Ripley on Monday as planned. Anyway, there it is. I looked up the trains and worked out a schedule.
May 30 Saturday: I rang Tony Coughlan to find out Joe Jamison’s movements. Apparently he was due for the ITGWU meeting in Killarney and is returning to Dublin on Sunday, but then Tony will be in Cork. So I must remember to telephone.
I went to the Polytechnic Students’ Union. Arthur Devlin was due at 2 but arrived nearer 2.30 bringing Annie Maguire and Lisa Austin. Both of them gave an impression of absolute ordinariness. I would never credit they could be engaged in any political activities. They had not the purposefulness that is always present with those who are Republicans, Socialists or Trade Union activists, and it can be spotted in a moment. She gave a good factual account of her experiences, and Devlin said some more. I don’t completely trust him. He’s in something, or been in something, though he is very affable on the surface. There were about 25 to 30 there, so the room was decently filled. Lisa Austin said she was not capable of addressing an audience. She is now about 29 years of age, and a nurse, and despite the youthful gambolling with drugs and “squats”, seems quite a decent young woman. But again there was absolutely nothing remarkable about her, and it says little for the judgement of the judge and jury that they could believe these people capable of blowing up a public house. Among those present were Kneafsey, Sam Walshe (suspended from the CP), Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan, Pat Doherty and a few young people – David James of the Labour Committee on Ireland and some students.
May 31 Sunday: I didn’t get much done today and did not go out. The weather was tolerable but not wonderful. Reading through the “Observer” I spotted a shaft from the past. Athene Sagler is still alive and 98 today. I could hardly believe it. I never met her personally but I knew her brother over several years. He used to be at BCURA [ie. the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, with which he was involved during World War 2]. This would be in 1945-46 when he was 80 and referred to the actress as his “little sister”. Now in 1945 she would on this showing be about 56. He would be in his early eighties. He was a delightful old man. He had devised a classification of coal by measuring its reflectance, but only one assistant was able to do it and I got a bit sceptical of the stepwise succession he postulated, though there is, I think, little doubt that higher rank coals are non-reflectant. He was reading a lot of geology, with metamorphosis as his curiosity. They used to talk about “coalification” and I remember once asking him if we could establish “anthracisation” as the preferable word. If I remember aright he postulated a number of “composites” differing in reflectivity, and the proportions of these in any coal indicated its rank. There is of course no a priorireason why this should not be so, but my recollection is that it could not be definitely substantiated, not at that time.
June 1 Monday: I rang Dublin and got Joe Jamison, but he seemed in a somewhat depressed mood. Tony Coughlan is away in Cork. The man never sits down and Joe Jamison had been with Daltún O Ceallaigh last night He doesn’t know his phone. Maybe the trip is not going as he wishes. Later DH [full name not known] rang from Manchester. He will help with our excursion and wants to join the Connolly Association.
I went into Birkenhead to make some purchases. It is not cold, but very damp and overcast. In the evening Joe Deighan rang. He says the only thing the election is about in Belfast is keeping Gerry Adams out. He was reasonably pleased with the referendum result. I spoke to Jane Tate. She had tried to get Tony Coughlan about his sister’s arrangements tomorrow. But Joe Jamison answered. “He sounded very tired,” she said. Then it struck me – so he did when he spoke to me. He’d been up half the night drinking with Daltún Ó Ceallaigh. He is talking of coming on the sixth or seventh. I want a few days away, so I think I’ll give the election a miss. I’ll make sure of a break as I rather fear an unfavourable verdict on the 23rd. I detected no loss of vision, but there are still phosphenes – nothing to what they were, but unmistakable.
June 2 Tuesday: It rained most of yesterday, went on all night and continued all today. I went to Ripley. Having to meet Tony Coughlan and his sister at Lime Street at 7.30 I took a taxi to Ripley and another one back, only to see what appeared to be the 5.11 to Crewe pulling out five minutes early. But appearances were deceptive. An announcement was made that there had been a breakdown and a new train was being “fitted at the depot” and would arrive shortly. Finally we left Derby 20 minutes late. That deprived me of the time needed for an instillation if I was to keep my appointment. I tried without success to do something on the train. I have a filthy cold and the damp chilly weather is the worst thing for it. And to add to the trouble, the eczema has returned just when I was hoping to have seen the last of it.
Tony Coughlan and Ann Coughlan were waiting for me at Lime Street, and we went to the Italian. Ann Coughlan is on holiday from Pakistan. He met her at Chester and will go to Dublin with her tomorrow. She is staying at the Shaftesbury. He tells me that Paul O’Higgins has resigned as Professor of Law at TCD. He may be taking early retirement. I would think he would be 60 years of age, or not far off. And also I think his wife Rachel doesn’t like Ireland. She is inclined to take after her mother.
In the evening DH rang saying he had booked the Ukrainian club for our Manchester trip. So I rang Barney Morgan to arrange to visit it.
This issue of the “Democrat” contains an article on Martin Bernal’s “Black Athena” which says he is not of the Bernals of Tipperary. But he is. There is a dedication to the memory of his father J.D. Bernal which I had missed. So I will have to send him a copy when the paper arrives and enclose a letter of explanation. Two things diverted me. First a reference to Jewish ancestry, but none to Irish. Second, a recollection. When I lost my flat on the North Circular Road owing to the death of the landlord, I left Brent and took a room in Kensal Green with a Mrs Michaelson. It was Bob Doyle found it for me. I think her husband had recently died. I was there for about three months. I must have been working at Catalan, for I used to travel round the North Circular Road, possibly to Wembley in Apley’s car, and then take the underground from Willesden Junction to Kensal Green. It was on one such occasion when the doors closed as I was standing by the driver that I had my only ride in the front of the tube train, for the driver told me to pop in and offered to take me any time I chanced to see him there.
What year was it? I think possibly 1943. I know I was with BCURA when the second front opened in the spring of 1944. But it may have been early in 1944. The youngest son of the house was, I think, called Sidney, and there was an elder brother, Emmanuel. They were Jewish – and Sidney was a student at Imperial College. One day another student, I thought also from Imperial College, called to see Sidney, and was introduced to me as J.D. Bernal’s son. It was a mere introduction. But I do have a vague recollection that he was called Martin.
As for John Desmond Bernal, I was first introduced to him at a student conference probably in 1935. It is a pity the diaries of that period were not all kept. I was of course, a science student myself then and all the Cambridge students used to talk of “Bernal” with bated breath. I remember George Barnard talking nonsense at that conference, though I was pretty raw myself at the time. Anyway I was introduced to the great brain as a mark of distinction, though I was no good at making the sort of speeches that were being made. How they loved the sound of their voices!
When I got to know Bernal better – I only met him at various public functions and political meetings – it was through the Irish movement. I doubt if we ever talked science, though I did ring him up about turf technology when I was at BCURA or Powell Dufferin, and he wrote an article for the “Irish Democrat”. Bord na Mona wrote saying they had “heard a rumour” of great developments in Russian turf winning and asked me to try and get more details. It would be easy to find out when that was. He always donated to the Connolly Association whenever he was asked.
I would mostly meet him at functions of the SCR [ie. the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR]but that also was an Irish connection, as Elsie O’Dowling worked in the exhibition section of that organisation. He would frequently take the chair at its gatherings. I called on Bórd na Móna round about this time. While I was in their offices news of the turf strike came through, so that date is ascertainable. It must have been the summer of 1947. Incidentally, I think I have found the explanation for events in the “student party” in 1935-36. I wonder who is still alive.
June 3 Wednesday: In the morning Tony Coughlan left for Caergybi. I did very little. Indeed this cold had me sleeping in an armchair most of the afternoon. And the rain went on and on for the third successive day. These were the days I was to spend on the garden. Both Joe Jamison and Dorothea [ie. Prof. Dorothea Siegmund-Schultze] are staying with Tony, so Muriel will have her hands full. I didn’t ask if Ann Coughlan will be there as well. Joe O’Grady rang in the morning and we agreed to go ahead with the Manchester project. And Michael Mortimer rang saying he was coming into circulation again. Apparently he had sat his examination, so he cannot have abandoned his Latin American studies. I had written to him telling him of the Branch AGM which he says he will attend.
June 4 Thursday: It didn’t rain today, but everywhere was soaking and it was cool. There was no sunshine. All a very bad sign. The weather map shows a string of depressions stretching right across the Atlantic. I still have a filthy cold into the bargain. I wrote a few letters. That was all. I had a word with Jane Tate. She had got her £100 back off Pat Bond but seemingly there is a story in it. Barney Morgan came in to discuss Manchester. I’d a word with Joe O’Grady on the telephone and finally Joe Jamison said he wants to come on Sunday. Now with this damned disease of the eyes, every day is cut into pieces. I’ll have to bring him out here, get the second instillation done by 1 pm., go to Manchester – do the third in the land rover and hope for the best for the ides of June.
June 5 Friday: The morning was dry and cloudy. The rain was back by mid-afternoon. I did some clearing up and put Flann Campbell’s Manuscript, which I read and marked last night, in my bag for London at about 5 pm. Sean Redmond telephoned. He is coming to Liverpool tomorrow, but as happened last time, I’m due in London. I still have a filthy cold, the worst for a long time, and the abominable weather doesn’t help.
I rang up the Ukrainian club and arranged to call on Sunday.
June 6 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I took the train to London. It was due to leave at 9.50 – a re-timing – but didn’t. An engine failure was reported on the public address system and we left half an hour late. I went to Jane Tate’s. She had got the hundred pounds off Pat Bond, but Pat O’Donohue was fussing at its being described as a loan. And of course Jane could not appreciate the financial niceties. The Standing Committee took place and this came up. If they could only keep calm and explain themselves all would be well. There was nothing to quarrel about. We did some useful business. Martin Moriarty was not there, and 25-year-old Derek O’Flaherty displayed the tendency of youth to believe the world did not exist until it itself entered it. But that’s merely healthy nonsense. Apparently Pat Bond, who threw a crazy canary fit at the mere suggestion that he might address a meeting in South-East London, has now, without having the goodness to inform me, constituted himself secretary of the South-East branch. But as to the South-West he does not think it would be worse if he wrote to the nominal secretary, John O’Haire. Jane commented later, ” I suppose he’s squabbled with him too.” Another typical piece of Bondery. He keeps ringing people up and got from Ellen Mitchell that Jim Friel has gone off with Fergal O’Doherty in this Scottish Civil Rights movement. But he took good care not to inform me, though I was entitled to know. Another of his tricks was to discuss a “concert” on August 8th to be run in Kilburn by Michael O’Donnell. He told O’Donnell that Head Office funds would be available. I tackled him – as I could see Jane Tate wanted to but felt too shy. He magnanimously regretted it that he should be thought to have overstepped his authority. This is in a lordly “go to buggery” voice. So I raised the question of the £500 in South London he has. The effect was remarkable. He gave a very prolonged and artificial laugh, which came near to revealing something of what makes him tick, and which went on so long that its effect was not missed. “He undermines me all the time,” said Jane Tate. Later Pat O’Donohue came with Gerry Curran and John Boyd to Jane Tate’s. An AUEW journal had been put in Gerry Curran’s pigeon hole, presumably by Pat Bond. But it was not addressed to Gerry. Pat O’Donohue saw this and said sharply, “You’re not entitled to that!” Gerry Curran was astonished. But this is the babyishness you have to contend with. And I will not deny that Pat Bond would try the patience of a saint. I know that Roger Kelly said he could not work with Bond, and so did Seamus Tracy.
Another odd thing. I guessed Paul Gilhooley’s tactic might be to try to get the other young people to act on his behalf. He seems to have chosen Derek O’Flaherty, the youngest and cockiest of them. He had rung him saying he was still going to the “Birmingham Six” meetings on behalf of the CA and did he understand that he should still do so. In the new phase where we have kept the youngsters and unshipped him, I thought the ships should be allowed to drift apart unobtrusively. Then I came back in the pouring rain.
June 7 Sunday: A very mixed and on the whole unsatisfactory day. Joe Jamison rang in the morning and came out for breakfast. Then we went into town and I gave “Democrats” to Pat Doherty who is going to the “Morning Star” meeting in Manchester. Then we went to the Irish Centre, where Barney Morgan and Alan Jones appeared. Jones directed us to Engels’s old mill at Eccles and we went on to the Ukrainian Club. I understood we were to ring the bell. The door was not opened.
“We are closed. It is after three.”
“We want to see the secretary.”
“No, No. We are closed. Go away.”
A man came out the back way and we tackled him. He got us in alright. But what a scene. Forty or fifty Irishmen had left the Lancaster and come across the road to go on drinking. A very persuasive Armagh man, Tommy Murphy, said he had spoken to DH and all was well. “Don’t take any notice of the way it is now. It’s quiet at night.” Later Joe Jamison, who is tall, discovered an anti-Soviet circular pasted on a board. So Barney Morgan then discovered a picture of the Queen of England. I’m not sure what the thing amounts to – I couldn’t read the notice, I would judge that the place is simply a drinking club. But if you get some “left” purists objecting, a lot of harm could be done. You might find some anti-Soviet notice in a Catholic club, though not so much these days. So of course the job has to be done again, and a damned nuisance. It began to pour rain, and Barney Morgan was very obviously anxious to get home, so I let him and came to Hamilton Square for a taxi.
June 8 Monday: Not more than a few spots of rain today, but heavy dark clouds. We have not seen the sun this month and the temperature didn’t rise above the middle fifties. I got a few letters written. About the Glasgow thing I now recall that Jim Friel, when Margaret Byrne died, said the Connolly Association should cease its activities till the autumn. My guess is that certain people – probably orange communists – saw in Margaret Byrne’s death an opportunity to start something up as a rival to the Connolly Association. As Stallard [ie. Jock Stallard MP] used to say, “Nothing happens without a reason,” and he would add apropos the House of Commons, “not in this fucking place”.
June 9 Tuesday: The “Democrat” arrived so I cut out the “Athena” article and enclosed it in a letter to Martin Bernal. My guess is that he will be about 62. But I hadn’t the address of Cornell University, so I rang Alan Morton. It would give me the excuse to talk to him without appearing to be concerned about how he was getting on. He found it in Chambers Encyclopaedia. For the rest I wrote quite a few letters and went into Birkenhead, posted them and had a haircut. It was cold, cloudy and damp, but there was only a spot of rain. But the garden has availed of the wet fortnight to run wild. I’m not too happy about the eyes. It is of course nothing to what it was, but there are still phosphenes, particularly when I play the piano. This must be connected with the head movements. If I move round clockwise I see a phosphene. If I move withershins [ie. anti-clockwise] I do not. So centrifugal motion throws pressure waves on the right eye and that is where they appear. But the sight seems all right still.
June 10 Wednesday: Another dark and gloomy day with ill-defined light showers. Perhaps you might guess there was such a thing as the sun. A third of June has gone by without an hour of genuine sunshine and many people are saying that it is the worst that ever came. I went into the city, but apart from that did little. The cold is very slowly clearing up. There is no warmth –the temperature never reaches 60F and this is a bad sign.
June 11 Thursday (Leeds/Liverpool): I got up before 8 am. I went to vote, walked to the Health Centre for instillations, and then caught the 11.03 to Leeds where Ron Bellamy was waiting for me and ran me up to his home, where Joan Bellamy provided lunch. We had a long talk about the school on July 12th, and about the CP. He is expelled, but Joan Bellamy is not. He says that after November, when he expects the EC to win by gerrymandering, the Communist Campaign Group will call a counter conference and at it “reconstitute the CPGB” – not found a new party. He expects that whole branches will defect. It doesn’t sound very realistic to me. It simply means another split. He has no influence in the NCP [ie. the New Communist Party, established in 1977] .”They’ve been going ten years without result, and all their members in Yorkshire are over seventy.” I think they would be best to keep the “Morning Star” going and build up a “Star League” for that purpose, and await an opportunity. Then I came back to Liverpool.
There was a letter from Roy Johnston about the Bernal error. But his politics never stray far from his own personal interests and he ended up lecturing me on not taking a line on divorce in Ireland. Why did I not say it was provided for in the Brehon laws? Added to which he accused me of encouraging Tony Coughlan to bring in “TCG O’Mahony and the Holy Joe lobby” into the SEA campaign, with the result that the “No” camp was split [This was a group of Catholic traditionalists who were concerned at the EU moving into human rights policy]. I know Cathal was giving out about Tony Coughlan, but I must say there was nothing I could see in the “Irish Times” that indicated such a split. Perhaps Roy himself wouldn’t work with this group.
The sky was black and rain pouring at Leeds. The Pennines were sunk in gloom. At one point I looked through the carriage window at an object colouring a patch of sky orange. It crossed my mind to wonder what it was, just for a moment, until I saw it was the sun. I don’t think it had rained in Liverpool and in Birkenhead the sun was visible shining through cirro-stratus.
June 12 Friday: I was up late listening to the election results. The full extent of the disaster was clear by midday [The election result was a landslide victory for Mrs Thatcher’s Conservatives against Labour led by Neil Kinnock]. I met Joe O’Grady at lunchtime. He agreed with me that Barney Morgan’s purist objection to a commercial booking with the Ukrainians was likely to leave us nowhere, and we might have to cancel the event. Barney would not worry since he would not be the centre of attention anyway. He told me that Eric Heffer had increased his majority to 34,000. I wrote to Michael Herbert in Manchester and in the evening Lena Daly rang up with some information. She said Father Aherne had had great difficulties at St Brendan’s, was “on the dole” for a time, but now had a small church in Gorton. He wanted to return to Peru, but was not permitted.
I was wakened at about 7 am. by two loud peals of thunder. Joe O’Grady said that in Walton the ground was white with hailstones and so much rain fell that the roads were blocked and fire engines were pumping out cellars. Whatever about that, after a dull dark damp morning the afternoon and evening were sunny but cold.
June 13 Saturday: I used the Paul Salveson duplicator for the first time and sent out invitations for the Standing Committee next Saturday. A letter from George Davies criticised developments in Scotland and I rang Joe Deighan. The CPI seems totally confused and Barry Bruton has been in Glasgow helping to confuse the Scots. George Davies says he has heard Jimmy Stewart is going to write in the Communist Campaign Group periodical. But I’ve sometimes found his rumours are unfounded. The cool weather goes on, though today was dry and with lazy sunlight. The temperature did not reach 60F. I saved marrow seeds at the end of May. They have not germinated. This was the trouble last year. I put some in turf pots in a propagator. But the garden has never been in such a state. It is impossible to get on it.
June 14 Sunday: The morning was tolerably bright, and in the early afternoon I started on the garden, which is an utter wilderness. But I only got as far as cutting the seed pods off the rhododendron. The wind was cold and it was uncomfortable. It looks as if I will have to pay somebody to put in a few days on it, for by late afternoon it was dark as night and dribbling again. Gerry Curran rang. Inter alia he said Paul Gilhooley had telephoned him. He seems to want into things, but I’m going to keep him on the lead if he takes it. He still has his own notions of what the CA should be doing, and accused Gerry of patronising him when he tells him simple things. Later John O’Hara from South-West London telephoned and promised to meet me next Saturday. He is NCP and should have the discipline that Paul Gilhooley and I fear Corcoran and Derek O’Flaherty lack.
Yesterday a letter was sent calling the Standing Committee for 3.15 Saturday. I hope this works. At present Jane Tate takes off the oldsters for tea, while the youngsters go off. I want so to arrange it that we all go into the public house before the youngsters go off.
June 15 Monday: I went into Birkenhead to do some photocopying. Apart from that I did little. De Roe rang up to ask if I had been ill, as I usually went to Dolgoch in June [De Roe was warden of the youth hostel at Dolgoch in mid-Wales], I told him about the eyes. He told me that Will Lewis had died following a stroke. He formed the model for one of my poems. He was a rough diamond all right. Then a young man rang up saying George Davies had given him my number. The NCP publishers are publishing something by Connolly in cooperation with Michael O’Riordan. I can’t help smiling. There is George Davies growing indignant at a rumour that Jimmy Stewart is to write in the Communist Campaign Group magazine, while the NCP ropes in Michael O’Riordan. The actions are precisely parallel. Anyway, he wanted a picture of Connolly. I put him on to Oliver Snoddy. There was no rain today, but no sunshine either. The newspapers are consoling us with the thought that it was even worse in June 1907.
June 16 Tuesday: At last a tolerable day, reasonably sunny but with a cool North-West wind. I bought some garden shears, the old ones – used for 50 years surely – having worn out at last. I did a little on the paper. I got back in time for a call from Oliver Snoddy who has found a banner relating to Allen, Larkin and O’Brien[ie. the Fenian “Manchester Martyrs”] by an artist in Manchester called O’Doherty. Could I trace the connection? I said I would tackle Frow [ie. Eddie Frow of the Working-class Movement Library, Salford]. Joe O’Grady also rang and we decided to postpone the Manchester trip. Barney Morgan has not bothered his head, and there is no sign of Michael Mortimer.
June 17 Wednesday: It began gloomy and dark, but took up. It is still cold – about 10F below what it should be – but it was bright. A letter came from Alan Morton 2. he had written to me but used the wrong address. Jane Tate telephoned. She has been in bed all day with influenza, sweating like a pig. Gerry Curran can’t come on Saturday, nor can Pat O’Donohue, and Derek O’Flaherty is on holiday. All the youngsters have been deep in Anti-Apartheid. This is of course the English movement, to condemn the evil deeds of other peoples’ governments – not their own.
I went into the city and to the shop in Renshaw Street that Gerry Dawson used to serve in on Saturdays. I mentioned him to the proprietor. “Ach! He’ll not be here for a couple of months. He wants to go to his place in Italy. He’s asked the doctor. He still has to take those tablets. I was up with him two nights ago.” So presumably he has had a stroke.
June 18 Thursday: Jane Tate rang up again. She is still in bed, but a little better. It is Martin Moriarty who is away. Neither Flann Campbell nor Gerry Curran nor Pat O’Donohue can come to the Standing Committee on Saturday. Martin Moriarty has suggested roping in Derek O’Flaherty, but whether that will be possible I don’t know. The morning was like a summer’s day, but soon after lunch it was dark and gloomy as ever, with the endless East wind. I went into Birkenhead and took a few swigs of gin. I don’t know what I’m going to be told at the hospital on Tuesday and I’m not excessively sanguine, while hoping for the best. So “Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero” [Seize the day while believing little in the next one]. There are still phosphenes in the dark, though nothing like they used to be. And the eczema has returned.
June 19 Friday: Once again the morning broke dark, gloomy and sodden. There is not a weather forecast without talk of ground frost – in Scotland mercifully. But it is chilly enough here. What a year! There were glimpses of the sun in the afternoon but I had the light on at 5 pm. and the electric heater on most of the day. It might have touched 63F when the sun was out; otherwise there was a chilly East wind. Nobody rang. The Inland Revenue sent be a £375 rebate. I am better off than I have been for years and am actually saving money – a new sensation since I was at Powell Dufferin and gave no thought to expenditure, but still saved money! But if I finish this “Epic” I’ll need a few thousand for it. I finished Kingsley’s “Hypatia”[A fictionalised account of the life of the philosopher Hypatia by Charles Kingsley, 1853]. I was put off Kingsley as a child by his absurd “Water Babies”. But it is clear a degree of scholarship went into “Hypatia”. But he makes her a sophist, which I understand is unfair. He had some inkling of Bernal’s point however – perhaps derived from the classics direct, for he puts into a Jew’s mouth the allegation that the Greeks “stole” their science from the Egyptians.
June 20 Saturday (London/Liverpool): I went to London and called to Jane Tate. There was no answer so I went for a meal. When I returned she told me that she had been in the garden when I rang. I went to 244 Grays Inn Road, and both John O’Hare and Michael O’Donnell were waiting for me. I should have brought them at different times, but did not think of it, for Michael O’Donnell is the more voluble and the other one has the greater problems. O’Donnell is starting a Hammersmith branch, John O’Hare a South-West London. I think these two will actually do something. They are both in their thirties, John O’Hare in the NCP. He told me he was with George Davies this morning. I proposed a meeting on the prisoners, drawing in Chris Mullin and Annie Maguire. I think John O’Hare was pleased that something could be done. So the work of re-building proceeds.
There was a poor attendance at the Standing Committee – only Jane Tate, John Boyd, Patrick Byrne and Michael Barry. I started distributing responsibility. I suggested that I no longer take the chair at each meeting but that we rotate it. Michael Barry was alphabetically last. I commiserated playfully. “Pooh,” he said, “I’ve often taken the chair before.” So there it is. You don’t know what potentialities people have till you test them. But Jane is not pleased with Martin Moriarty who has gone on holiday leaving Central Books in the lurch. Derek O’Flaherty has a meeting. Gerry Curran and Flann Campbell have domestic engagements. Paddy Bond is on holiday. But CN got the circular but sent no response. But a bag of three isn’t so bad. Incidentally Michael Barry got expenses of the South-West London meeting from Pat Bond, but knew nothing about the £500, and believed Bond was putting up the money himself. Is it the illusion of power that he enjoys? The sensation that people are dependent on him? Michael O’Donnell, who recognises Pat Bond’s positive contribution, says that Sean Byrne, Roger Kelly and one or two more cannot hear his name without champing with rage. Later a “Democrat” reader from Australia called and gave a talk on the situation there. Charlie Cunningham, Mabel O’Donovan and her daughter came, and I bought them all a drink out of my Income Tax rebate. It was fine till 6 pm. when there was a cloudburst.
June 21 Sunday: The day dawned wet. Though the rain had stopped by mid-morning, it was cloudy and cold. Nothing could be done in the garden, which is in the worst state I ever saw it. I did not go out. I wrote a few letters. I phoned Ellen Mitchell.
June 22 Monday: The day opened dark and wet, but the afternoon was sunny and bright. I got off three pages, then went into the city and went round one or two bookshops. I decided to take it easy today as I don’t know what I’m going to hear tomorrow, and I took a couple of drinks before coming home. There was a letter from Eddie Loyden whom I had congratulated on his re-election. He said the result should have an educational effect on the Labour Party leaders, but that he hardly expected it would do. Late on Jane Tate telephoned.
June 23 Tuesday: I went to the hospital in the morning. They have a device that tests the distribution of your sight by lighting small electric lamps on the screen. I noticed those near the centre seemed brighter than those at the periphery, so feared possibly peripheral sight was fading. However, I said nothing. There could be other reasons, distance, parallax and so on. Anyway the third specialist – it’s a different man each time – said the pressure was lower than last time, and advised me to come again in a month. I did not like the shortening of the time. But with different men, where is the consistency?
A letter came from Ellen Mitchell with Doherty’s programme, a fine confused thing [ie. it envisaged a new campaign on civil rights in Northern Ireland]. She says Pat Bond is to meet them. Trust him! This must have been cooked up and withheld from the Standing Committee. He will never dispute any of their nonsense, but bum them up so as to be thought the great fellow, then deplore my lack of tact when I publish a criticism of their programme. He will go near enough to endorsing them unless I’m mistaken. We will see.
There was a phone call from Michael Herbert in Manchester. He is going to try to get us a venue for our trip. I told him it now looked like being September. “Is that because of the weather?” “Partly” So DH gets busy and finds us a club the members won’t go to and takes no notice of my letter. Michael Herbert, whom DH calls a typical “petit-bourgeois”, turns up trumps. So you never know.
June 24 Wednesday: The morning was gloomy, but the afternoon and evening sunny but cool. I went into the city and made some purchases. In the morning Boieldieu’s overture to the “Caliph of Baghdad” was on the radio. I listened to it for nostalgic reasons. It was around 1920 that CEG˙ reassembled his pre-war orchestra and gave a concert in a church hall in Tranmere. This was the first item, and it is pleasant enough classicising music. I might have heard it once since then, not more. But how extraordinary is musical memory. All the themes came back to me at once, and I remember them buzzing through my brain for weeks after the performance, even at the age of 7 or 8. The Liverpool branch meeting was in the evening. Taunton was there and drove Joe O’Grady mad with his niggling over his financial report. Another big baby and one that does nothing. At least the others are redeemed by activity. And wonder of wonders, Michael Mortimer was there and said he wanted to continue as secretary, and would improve his work. On the strength of this I persuaded them to call a committee meeting. Those present included Barney Morgan, Joe O’Grady, Pat Mullen, Pat Doherty, and Michael Mortimer’s friend O’Brien. Alan Morton 2 is in Belfast visiting that revisionist centre, the “Workers College”.
June 25 Thursday: There was heavy rain till 5 pm. None of the seeds I sowed weeks ago have germinated, but I’m getting some marrows up under glass. I worked on the paper most of the day and have one page to finish. Nothing from Tony Coughlan. The break will have put him out of the way of doing it.
June 26 Friday: Yet another dark gloomy day, though with less rain than yesterday, and a temperature that barely struggled to 60F. I got the last of the paper off, and seized a few minutes between showers of drizzle to hoe the ground I had sowed marrows and cauliflowers in. When the disturbed weeds have withered I’ll plant out tomatoes and cucumbers and hope to clear another bed for the marrows now germinating in the incubator.
At about 6 pm. Sean Redmond rang. He was at the NALGO [ie. the National Association of Local Government Officers] conference at a fringe meeting and is going to Dundee for the NUR [ie. the National Union of Railwaymen].
June 27 Saturday: The first sign of the weather taking up – and there is still time. On the whole the day was cloudy and there was some rain. But a warm front had moved North and for the first time this year, very near, the polar front is to the North of us and we are no longer sub-arctic. I would say it reached 68F. I went into Birkenhead, made a few purchases and had a few drinks. Otherwise there was not much.
June 28 Sunday: Today was very warm and muggy, with warm sector clouds and a South-Southwest wind. There was no rain. The grass dried rapidly and I planted out the tomatoes and re-sowed cauliflowers, also clearing some scutch grass from round the gooseberries and cutting down a hawthorn sapling. I only went across the road. I would put the temperature in the low seventies, a good sign.
In the morning Pat Bond rang up. He could give me no information about Glasgow. He had not met this new “Democratic Rights” outfit but had not tried to find out who or what was behind them. But he had “heard a rumour” that there was to be a meeting in South-West London. Was it true? He’s only got to telephone John O’Hare. But then there’s something between. I am under a strain to conceal my irritation with the man, the more so as now he seems to be getting devious. He has his private empire in South-East London and even the committee is only presented with faits accomplis, but I think he would like to rule the roost in South-West as well and that is probably what the trouble is with John O’Hare.
I had a word with Kevin Nelson in the evening with a view to getting a NALGO speaker at our conference in October.
June 29 Monday: There was not a trace of sunshine today and the thickness of the cloud has to be seen to be believed. And though not cold, one needed the electric fire in the evening. Stella Bond, who rang from London, said it is sweltering hot there. I would be happy to change weather. I went to the bank in the city. Apart from that and a little clearing up, the day did not yield much.
The date today puts me in mind, were it necessary, of how the time goes. The first book CEG bought me as a boy was (I think) “Stars – Shown to the Children,” Though it might have been the Odyssey. I could say my first love was astronomy and in the “Children’s Encyclopaedia” I saw a map showing the tracks of solar eclipses until 1998; and I noted that there was one exactly sixty years ago today on June 29, 1927. It would be 1920 when I got the book and began to look forward over this immense time, seven years. I didn’t even reflect that I would be nearly fourteen then. Anyway the day came, and the eclipse was in the early morning. I must have got up at 5 am. and remember the excitement of going up to Mersey Park on my bicycle, going back to Rockville Street to say crowds were assembling and then going up with the family. We were of course in the zone of totality. I remember a know-all assuring his friend, “There’ll nothing happen. They’ve come out a year too soon. It will be on June 29th 1928.” Still he went on. Unfortunately it was cloudy – not overcast, but to the best of my recollection, though it was a wet year, cumulo-stratus and cirro-stratus; I hadn’t the classification, or didn’t classify. No – I had the classification as early as 1924 – so I didn’t discriminate. Anyway it went dark. All the birds went quiet. Then a brilliant orange tinged the clouds and the birds started clucking and flying. So that was that, and it 60 years ago.
June 30 Tuesday: I had a heavy day, got up at 6.30, caught the 8.20 to Crewe and Derby, took a taxi to Ripley to find Brian had lost the pictures. Anyway, they turned up. I had a drink in the pub nearest and found the former apprentice, now aged 24 – I forget his name; he was chosen out of 200 applicants and is a bit of a rebel. He told me both Cyril and Russell are dead. I got another taxi at 2.15 and caught the 3.11 to Crewe. I reached Liverpool by 5.35 and met Joe O’Grady, Barney Morgan and later Michael Mortimer in the Shaftesbury, where we held a branch committee meeting, Michael Mortimer being as usual half an hour late! I had to do two al fresco instillations but am getting better at it.
(End of Vol. 36; c. 60,000 words)