I am ashamed to say I dawdled about after lunch and it was not until nearly 4 o’clock that I got up-Fields for the Sports. I talked to Mrs Smurthwaite and Miss Smurthwaite for quite a long time, always an amusing experience. Mrs S. remarked that the first things she saw on coming up-Fields were Dr Troutbeck, the Coroner and the Police Band, ‘one expected something to be brought in on a slab you know!!’
I have for some unknown reason got a vile cold again today, my third this term.
We had the last meeting this year of Deb. Soc., a horrid and depressing meeting. We discussed ‘That this House would welcome the formation of a new boarding house at Westminster’, I seconding Ward’s proposing with Clarke opposing. I was pleased at what I can only call the deferential silence with which I was listened to and being on my own subject, although I had prepared hardly anything I spoke as well as I have only once spoken before, really well. It is a most delightful feeling and I am delighted to think that my last speech as a School member of Deb. Soc. should have been one of the best that I have ever made and further that my last words were to say that I believed the new house would assist that ‘re-introduction of water which I myself believe to be becoming increasingly practicable and which all of us, I think, ought to do our utmost to effect’. Thus amid applause my last words in Deb. Soc. were to speak of the scheme of all others which I hope most earnestly to help bring about. The motion was carried by acclamation. Thus we adjourned and certainly Ward, Low and myself felt very miserable at resigning our offices. Horrid and I fear that it will be increasingly horrid this tearing up of roots.
In prayers today John Gow never thinking what he was doing sang the wrong response. We fortunately backed him up and the School mumbled something.
Only Ward, myself, G. G. Williams and E Wood went to the Deanery tonight, Wade had a swollen face and Low was tugging up-fields and meant to come late but was prevented. We gave ourselves tea in the Dining Room and then the Dean came in and gave us what he subsequently described as a ‘peripatetic lecture’, in other words he took us down into the Cloisters and showed the line of the Norman Cloister which he had just had uncovered and how the builders of the later work severed their walls unobtrusively so as to compensate for certain initial difficulties. From thence we went to the new Museum and looked at the Norman Capitals etc.
Wright the Clerk of the Works had joined us and the Dean administered a delightfully gentle snub to him — after thanking him for some plan he had drawn he said ‘You think then so-and-so?’
‘Oh! yes’ says Wright ‘it’s as plain as a pikestaff’
‘Oh! well’ say the Dean ‘but my sight isn’t very good and I can’t always see the pikestaff’!!!
The Dean was very quaint measuring the cloisters by one foot before the other in a wobbly fashion and flourishing a pocket-rule. We then went back to the Deanery and sat down at the table while he showed us various plans illustrating the evolution of the present Deanery and on to the roofs etc. It was extremely interesting and we all enjoyed it.
Three times out of four we have beaten Home Boarders in a week. This evening Hobson F. and Graham won us the Gym Cup by a comfortable margin, King’s Scholars being second and Home Boarders last. Thus except Seniors (alas!) we have won everything we could win in my year of office.
As Home Boarders are the holders I shall have the greatest joy in teaching them manners and showing how the Senior Boarding House conducts itself, when it wins a cup, in a leisurely and courteous fashion. As it is so near the end of term I shall give them tomorrow to invite me to come and fetch it and if they make no sign I shall go the next day to Bonner, the Head of House, and ask when they would like us to come and fetch it and I shall suggest Friday or Saturday!! If I can get a chance I shall, with great pleasure, make some remark about not being in a hurry to ‘grab’ our winnings!!!
I do dislike doing things for the last time and it saddened Lit. Soc. tonight for me to remember it was the last time I should be present as Head of House and when next they meet I shall only be an insignificant member of Cambridge University.
I heard this morning from Mr Hadley to say that I was qualified to enter Pembroke College. The Gazette also came and much to my amusement I see Bob Horton got through while Tennyson’s grandson did not!
I sat on Sedgwick after Hall as I discovered he had not put his name down for a ball which ‘shied’ on Saturday. Most unfortunately for him I was looking out of the window at the time. Some money in a purse which he ‘lost’ some time ago has been mysteriously returned to him by being replaced in one of his pockets. It is suspicious as Father asked Minchin yesterday whether the Pageboy had been in the pantry all the time when the money was supposed to have been stolen early this term. Did Minchin mentioned this to the boy and frighten him? It is not above suspicion that here we have the culprit. Anyhow, which is as well, Sedgwick looks on the matter as a practical joke.
Very lengthy Abbey Service this morning owning to a School Communion afterwards. A Canon of Manchester (Scott) preached a prosy and stupid sermon; the only ray of comfort was when he said ‘Kinging comedon’ for ‘coming Kingdom’.
Father not getting up I had to take Prep this morning. After Prep Collier announced to me he had a rash what had he better do? I told him to go into Mrs Thresher’s room and subsequent investigation disclosed he had measles! Fortunately his parents came down and took him off home.
There was only one school this morning owing to Confirmation. Nall came up Library and together we looked at the prints with a view to rehanging them. Some book Bonner had put down in the suggestion book Nall refused to get saying he thought it was ‘rather strong food’!
We assembled in the Cloisters at 11.15 for Confirmation and proceeded to Henry VII’s Chapel headed by the King’s Scholars. I was reminded of Horace Walpole’s description of the funeral of George II for our procession, like George’s, got confused going up the steps and more by luck than otherwise I found myself next to Hobson immediately behind the candidates, Father, Fox and the King’s Scholars filled the stalls. This service is always the most beautiful of our Westminster Services and today was no exception to former years. In all there were about 35 candidates.
We got out about 12.30. Nall then called me up Library and we tried to arrange for hanging the pictures improvising a measuring tape from the cord of the electric lamp, a brilliant idea of Nall’s with which he was hugely pleased!
Chappie came down about 2.30 and stayed an hour or so and later came the Doctor (Bourns) to see Mrs Thresher who is still seedy and at 4.30 the Wakefields whom I had invited to come and see the home of the Grant’s. They were hugely interested on going up into the Dormitories and all over the house. I showed them the School and they were most appreciative. It is very luck my having found people so willing to help and so interested.
I was just saying goodbye to them at the gate of Dean’s Yard when Gordon Reed arrived whom I took back and we had tea in Hall. The first time I had been down on a Saturday night, we took everybody by surprise. I had a most touching little tribute. Smurthwaite, having just made two pieces of toast for himself when we suddenly appeared came and presented them to me at once, entirely on his own initiative. I think it is one of the highest compliments I have had paid me since I have been Head [of House].
The question is answered: ‘Passed, 3rd Class, Pt II Previous’. ‘Oh! Brave we’ as Dr Johnson used to say, what a genius I am. Gray and Goodall likewise have passed.
Grant’s won both the Senior and Junior Gym Competitions tonight, F. G. Hobson and A. C. Miles being our representatives and thus beating Home Boarders (Bonner!!) twice in three days. Unfortunately the House do not get a cup for this. Gordon Reed came down this evening and I talked to him for some time in Yard and eventually he came into tea late and it was a real pleasure to see him and talk to him again. .
Myself, Hobson, Miles, Graham, Tomlinson, Gilmour and Pemberton then walked forth to the Napier Hall, Vincent Square, dumbfounding Minchin who we met outside who couldn’t conceive where we were going to! We got to the Hall just after 8 o’clock and just before the show began. I was frightfully pleased at hearing a crowd of small ‘scis’ say as we approached the building of course wearing top-hats ‘’ere come some more flower-pots’!!
The Gymnastic display was surprisingly good, far better than I anticipated, and carried out especially the boxing and wrestling with the utmost good feeling between the combatants. Of course Old Wheeler for up and made a speech at the end which gave me ‘squirks’ all through especially when he referred to the Hall which is a very nice one but much like other church Rooms as ‘this handsome and charming hall’ or words equally extravagant. He announced the gift of a rifle and said he hoped another would be subscribed for and at the end of his speech he was able to announce that Mr Hallett (OW) had offered to present one, a statement which caused great enthusiasm.
I am up against a stone wall, the first I have encountered in my year of office. Yesterday about 6, as far as I can make out, certain people came down from a Concert of the Glee Soc. and had a real good rag in Hall and the apparent result was shown last night when one of the legs of one of the long forms came to bits and the form, generally, was smashed up. This evening I intended to inquire about it.
The first ‘brick’ was when Collier who might have had something to do with it retired to bed with a headache after the Field-day of the Corps today. As I had to find out I went up just before prayers and I think roused him from sleep and asked ‘Are you or are you not concerned in the form-smashing last night?’ He replied ‘No I am not’ so I thanked him and withdrew.
After prayers I ‘halled’ and told Sedgwick to send me all those who were in Hall at 6 o’clock last night and who were concerned in the form-smashing. After a pause he returned to say he couldn’t find any. I then sent him to fetch ‘all those responsible for breaking up the form’ and there was again a lengthy pause (Tomlinson I could hear telling people to send for young Hobson!) Return of Sedgwick to say no one was responsible there but they were with Mr Tanner.
I then told him to send me Hodgson who seemed nervous but I do not think he knew anything about it. I asked him if people clearly understood what I wanted and he replied ‘yes’ and whether it was a fact the culprits were with Father. He thought so and in reply to further questions said he thought the damage to the form was done after tea but he didn’t seem to know much about it so I dismissed him and there the matter rests for the present at deadlock. The matter is complicated by the people in with Father: Radford, Shore and J. John are about to be confirmed on Saturday so of course I can do nothing for the moment. Tomorrow’s developments may be interesting.
Oxley told me quite a touching story of Burrell this morning. I had given him my Little Go papers with the answers I got scribbled in the margin and like a fool in the first Algebra sum I had written 10c-b (I think) instead of (10c-b)/10. Burrell was very worried about this which, of course, I had put in my actual papers and wanted to insert the 10 in the printed paper under my answer that I might not be disheartened if I discovered my mistake, but he thought I might recognise his figures so he left it!
Yolland heard today he was through Additionals, shall I hear tomorrow that I am —– what?
A real March day pouring rain and raging wind. Beastly!…
Home-Boarders with that courtesy which is so marked a trait in such typical types as Bonner and Circuitt (The ‘Scis’ have lately delighted us by calling Circuitt ‘Shirk it’, a really witty variation and typical of his play. We are so annoyed we didn’t think of it ourselves) went and ‘grabbed’ (there is no other word) the shield from Ashburnham after Hall today. I do not think I ever remember anything quite so discourteous, everybody knows that at Westminster at least a week elapses before one House takes a Shield etc from another House after they have won it. But this is nothing to the gross breach of Westminster etiquette of which they are guilty. Apparently Bonner of someone came up to Formilli a junior Monitor of Ashburnham and said ‘we are coming to fetch the Shield after Hall today.’ Bonner, as he ought to have known perfectly well, had no right to say such a thing; it is proper etiquette for the Head of House which holds the Shield etc to ask the new winners after a day or so when they would like to come and fetch it. Low was not informed till after Hall today, he was angry at the time but forbore to say anything.
The Cadet Corps were inspected today by a Captain from the War Office who is going round the Schools. The Corps were quite smart and I gather the Captain was very pleased with them. Afterwards I went into the Gym and had the satisfaction (the great satisfaction!!!) of seeing Hobson beat Bonner in fencing by 5 hits to 3 thus wining the medal which again falls to a Grantite and establishing his right to go down to Aldershot to represent the School in fencing.
Miles made a raid into Raynor’s [Master of the King’s Scholars] garden after balls; I am always alarmed and glad when he gets back safely as I know nothing about it officially. Especially tonight was I alarmed at hearing Hobson saying cheerfully and loudly ‘It’s safer to come down backwards’.