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Alexander Goodlet

The Goodlet diaries: Week 52 – the final entry

Week 52 – the last part of our year-long serialisation of Goodlet’s diaries from 80 years ago, begins with our protagonist feeling rotten and a Christmas spent feeling ill; and it ends with a year’s summary of the state of his life. ‘Debts and acute, frenzied shortage of cash have made life more humiliating and nerve-wracking this year than any time since 1931,’ he writes.

December 1936

Monday, 21.12.36

Woke feeling rotten and having several twinges of rheumatism, damn it.

In the afternoon JM and I went over to the Aunts’ for tea and the walk back was both cold and damp.

After dinner wrote Daniel, from whom this morning I had a charming gift of cigarettes. Also addressed some Christmas cards. Later took Miss Hodges home and have arrived back here feeling pretty awful.

Tomorrow have the difficult task in hand of trying to raise some money for JM. What a life.

The Spanish mess looks worse than ever and God knows what they are going to do with it. Can hardly see for a headache.

Tuesday, 22.12.36

ILL. Unconscious. Text written later.

Suffered from nightmare all night and awoke in the morning ill with flu and rheumatism. Lay all day comatose, shivering and wretched. Rose for dinner, whereat were Ine, and the Doc and Stanley. A cheery company, but I fear I saw then only through a blur.

It was the ‘Yachting’ End of Season meeting and we sailed two races, one of which, curiously, I won: and Stanley won a magnificent victory in the second. Kidd and EH came to an absolute tie for the shield and on a toss up Kidd had the luck to get it. Poor old Ernest, he certainly has been unlucky. It has been a brilliant season. The Doc sailed splendidly; if he could have been here oftener he would have been a certainty for some prizes.

Went back to my own bed tonight on JM’s insistence.

Wednesday, 23.12.36

ILL. Text written later.

Hardly any recollection of anything of note, save that LH apparently breezed in and most decently left me 50 cigarettes.

Then came a letter from Mrs Lee with 10s for cigarettes also. Really, folk are awfully decent.

The Mater told me that AJ had been to the bank and raised some cash, and that she has been able to give JM 30s. T.G.

Thursday, 24.12.36

ILL. Text written later.

Felt pretty far away all day and took little interest in anything. Managed to write Jeanette and Ine. Had a box of beautiful handkerchiefs from Jeanette, but no letter.

Fancy being ill on Christmas Eve. No trip this year to Paddington.

Friday, 25.12.36

ILL. Text written later.

Woke early and enjoyed tea in bed.

Had most of Christmas dinner in bed but at the last moment decided I really could not miss the Christmas Dinner, so rose and went in and joined them for dessert and coffee.

After supper there was a welcome visit from Mr Stanley, who brought me gifts from Mr and Miss Grundy and a magnificent naval book from himself. Really, people are extraordinarily generous.

Saturday, 26.12.36

ILL. Text written later.

Rose for lunch this day and again enjoyed the merry gathering, but was very tired afterwards and retired to bed. Rose after dinner and spent an hour or 2 by the drawing room fire…

Sunday, 27.12.36

To resume, after a whole week, the normal entries of this log. I shall have to put in just perfunctory entries under the last eight days.

Woke very refreshed and fit at 1.30 today and so to lunch, whereat were the Aunties and JM. Busy on correspondence during the afternoon and then tea at the drawing room fire.

Stanley came in for dinner and we have had a charming evening, with music, discussion, etc.

We listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s address and personally I thought it extremely fine.

The Aunts left at 10 and I believe that they have really enjoyed the Christmas holidays.

Stanley left at 12.30.

Monday, 28.12.36

Awoke before lunch and shaved and dressed for that meal for the first time for a week.

Jock, who has been over to Kidd’s, brought back the disturbing news that Joan was much worse again; so after lunch old Buzz gallantly took over the housework and the Mater went over to Kidd’s to investigate things. Kidd brought her back at 5.30, rather overtired I am afraid. Joan, it seems, is not much better.

Dinner and a quiet evening in the drawing room, and so come…to and end the Christmas holidays.

I am afraid that the Mater has caught rather a cold when out this afternoon.

Rather a quiet atmosphere.

The Aunts were over for the birthday tea this afternoon. Poor A.J.’s cold seems worse.

Tuesday, 29.12.36

Sat up very late last night chinning with JM. As a result slept very long this morning and was only in time to get into a dressing gown for lunch.

Spent the afternoon in the drawing room, drowsing. As a matter of fact, I don’t feel quite so well today, but can’t quite make out what’s the matter.

Just before dinner Miss Hodge breezed in with tickets for a theatre tomorrow.

Very subdued dinner and quieter evening. Long and interesting letter from Daniel today.

It seems to me that the European situation shows distinct signs of easing. Mussolini has obviously been cleverly manoeuvred by Blum and Eden into deserting Hitler, whose own followers even are reported to be asking him to modify his wild plans. Italy has already, it is reported, evacuated the Balearic Isles.

The Pope, poor old gentleman, is having a very bad time in with his illness.

Had a Christmas card from Mrs Fehr today.

Wednesday, 30.12.36.

Woke late and very tired; indeed, it is curious how weary I am considering I have not done a stroke of work for over a week.

Busy on various small jobs during the afternoon and also wrote Daniel. Since then have been busy on writing the new 1937 handbook of ‘Yachting’.

Kidd came in this evening on his way back from business. He looks very tired, poor chap, and is so too, I am afraid. Buzz was over there today and reports that both Joan and Thomasina are still far from well.

Very quiet evening at home.

Fuzz has been down all day with a go of the prevailing flu but seems better tonight. Ine was one the ‘phone tonight, inquiring for my going down there. Only wish I could, but it’s not too easy.

Today died Lady Lucy Houston, that stormy petrel of political and social life. Wish I had her money. Her yacht is the lovely Liberty.

Thursday, 31.12.36

Rose for lunch, very tired, and dawdled over it until a late hour. Found the Aunties had been here in the morning and A.J. had very decently gone to the bank.

The Mater most courageously made every preparation for a little celebration of the New Year, so that when Mr Stanley arrived we had a most jolly little dinner and, with good will all round, quite a charming evening, although it was the smallest and quietest we have had for ten years.

Still, there was a better spirit than I have sometimes known at these dos. Kidd came in after dinner and he, Stanley and I sailed three delightful races, each winning one. Kidd had to leave at 11.30 and JM was unfortunately out visiting; but with Stanley’s cheery company we brought in the New Year with all the traditional ceremony, and a very jolly little meeting it was.

Afterwards, at refreshments, who should come in but LH and his girl, so the house was by no means lonely or quiet. They departed at 1.15 and at 1.30 Stanley played Auld Lang Syne for us and so brought things to a close. Avery decent evening and, considering all the vissitudes of the late departed year, we are lucky to have managed it so happily as we have. Ine rang up at about 12.40.

There is not much news today. Germany is reported to be digging herself into Spanish Morocco and consolidating her position. This is very sad.

The Pope is reported to be holding his own well, which is remarkable for an old man of 80.

1936. L’ENVOI

It is my custom to write a brief resume of the past year of Old Year’s Night but this time it is hard to resist the temptation to say “Goodbye and be damned to Ye”. Actually that would not be quite just, because I for one have had some good times and, after all, the year has brought Jock safely back to us. For all that it would be idle to deny that it has been a year of great public sorrows, dangers and difficulties and, as far as we are concerned, much private trouble, worry and difficulty.

Debts and acute, frenzied shortage of cash have made life more humiliating and nerve-wracking this year than any time since 1931, and this has the added disadvantage of being five years farther on in life.

King George V’s death set the time of disaster on the year and this has been pretty consistently maintained, with the humiliating setbacks by Italy and Germany, the ever present deadly danger on Spain and the final culminating tragedy of King Edward’s Abdication.

As for us, we have staggered along with all income from business absolutely dried up, and had it not been for the Doc’s princely generosity and fine family feeling we should simply have been in the workhouse; there is no other word for it.

On the bright side, there are the safe and happy arrivals of Annabelle and Rosemary and for their sakes we must hold at least one soft spot for 1936.

My holiday with the Grundys down in Hampshire was a splendid piece of luck for me, and personally speaking, I am indebted to a great many people for great personal services and kindness; folk have been extraordinarily good to me in countless ways.

Only one achievement can I lay to my credit during the whole year, that is joining the RNWAR, and I don’t owe anyone anything for getting in there; but on the other hand I haven’t been a brilliant success at it.

Anyway, all my Dear Folk are here and well, and that is a supreme mercy for which to be profoundly thankful.

May the Generous God grant to all my Dear, Good Folk and to me a year of peace, health and achievement and may we all be permitted to reunite again at Christmas in joy and loving companionship.

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