. Almost for the first time since I’ve been at Westminster I had to run for Abbey but got in, in time.
My fag Smurthwaite [was] among the number who received Maundy [money]. He came up to me this morning and said ‘What am I to do, I can’t make your toast this morning because I am going to breakfast with Dr Gow and I can’t get anyone to make it’. I said I didn’t mind, I would make some myself if he got me bread. ‘Of course’ says Smurthwaite ‘I’ll make you four pieces (3 is the usual number) another morning to make up’!!! Extraordinary child!…
I have discovered ‘Bemerton’s’, I am quite certain in my own mind it must be the book shop just off the Buckingham Palace Road. I have been once or twice vaguely before, but this evening I drifted in on the chance of his having some Westminster prints. He produced two portfolios and whilst looking over these we got into conversation about Westminster.
I was saying how I lived in the last of the old Westminster boarding-houses and how well built it was, and he then showed me a solid oak beam hard as iron in the ceiling of his shop which must be some two hundred years old. His shop is really rather fascinating, the room is very low and books everywhere.
[I] asked him if he suffered at all from thieves either from his outside stall or by people selling him his own books which they abstracted from the shelves when he wasn’t looking. He said no, not much, small leakages occurred from time to time on his outside stall, perhaps one month there would be a ‘run’ of small losses and then he would have to set someone to watch.
He told me expert thieves won’t look at books, the class who steal are poor students, down-on-their-luck book sellers, scholars weakened by drink etc. He said the taking of books from shelves was quite well known especially in the Charing X Road, books like Strickland’s Queens of England of which the 5th Volume is rare, people bring one of the common Volumes bound like the set and substitute it for the rare one which they proceed to sell at another booksellers.
I asked him if he had ever had any ‘finds’ and he said no, not any very great ones though he had picked up one or two rare books cheap once or twice.
In the evening Father, Aunt Mary, Kathleen Tanner and myself went to ‘Jack Straw’ at the Vaudeville, a clever and amusing farce. Hawtrey as good as ever and Miss Lottie Venne gorgeously vulgar as Mrs Parker-Jennings the vulgar nouveau riche. The dialogue was distinctly cleaver and witty. We came home in a yellow taxi, which was like a private car.