A. J. Sylvester
9.29pm. Back home at Springfields. We left Summerlands at 9.50am and arrived at about 5.45pm. On the way up we spent over two hours with A. J. [Sylvester], arriving at Rudloe Cottage at five past eleven, and afterwards visiting Lacock, where we ate our lunch and afterwards went for a walk. We resumed our journey at 2.35pm and stopped again at Cirencester, where we had a pot of tea and slice of chocolate ginger mousse. At Smith’s bookshop Freda got two crochet books in the sale.
I got up at 6.00am. Today was the equinox and it was already getting light. There was again a frost overnight, and fog. By the time we left it was a beautiful sunny morning but the Tor was totally obscured by fog, even as we drove by on our way to Shepton Mallet. We were travelling up via Radstock today, the first time for over a year, I think. There was quite a lot of snow lying at the roadside and under hedgerows as we approached Bath.
A. J. was expecting us. As usual he was in the kitchen but Freda made us a cup of coffee — he already had the kettle boiling — and we went into the lounge, where he has had a central heating radiator installed over the last year or so.
A. J. told us he was “very poorly”. He was clearly in pain and said how fatigued he got these days. However, the cataract operation he had towards the end of last year had been a wonderful success. He was being caused a lot of harassment: someone had fired a shotgun through his window; the Water Board business was still not completely resolved; a stone wall had been demolished by a local landowner which ought to have been preserved as it was so ancient; the BBC had failed to return a most precious document they had asked to borrow from him — a menu from a great reception given L. G. [Lloyd George] when he visited the USA — it was only with the greatest difficulty that he had got them to return five other documents he had lent the BBC at the same time.
A. J. soon perked up, however, as he always does when we visit him (as he himself acknowledged: he has no real companionship, no one he can talk to with an intelligent interest in the great affairs of politics in which he spent 30 years of his life). He was soon reminiscing about horses, and riding and hunting, and the snooty attitude of the titled people he hunted with.
10.03pm. As usual a very full and interesting day. In the morning I wrote letters and we went to Solihull. After lunch I spent a very pleasant afternoon with Barbara Francis and her husband Noel. Tonight we visited Vera Gittings and Sheba the dog, where we had a lovely time.
This morning I finished a letter to Margaretta Cheel and wrote a newsletter reply to Katie [Boyle]. Earlier, before breakfast, I had done last night’s washing up and tried to get the computer to work but it kept saying “Error”.
It has poured with rain almost all day. On our way to Solihull we called at the Washeteria at Robin Hood to dry-clean the front-room curtains, which Freda had just taken down.
At Solihull the back entrance to Tudor Grange Park is now completely altered with the construction of a traffic island. In the park a circus was packing up. We had to leave the car in a field as access was barred to our usual parking place. The ground was so wet that I slipped and almost fell.
On our way through the park, in pouring rain, we looked at the geese which were on the grass, some with baby chicks. The ducks and swans seemed to be elsewhere, perhaps on the island.
Our first call was to the Help the Aged shop where [Freda] donated the skirt she bought for Julia & Malcolm’s wedding in 1970. From there we walked through the shopping mall to Mell Square. Here the fountains have been demolished, the square finally closed to traffic, and the new pavements constructed; also the foundations laid for a coffee shop where the fountains used to be! It will be a great improvement. The oblong pools were ugly and dirty.
As usual we went to Beattie’s for a cup of coffee and had a delicious scone, still hot from the oven. Freda bought a pair of turquoise shoes, £24.99. After this I had a look at the books in Smith’s while Freda went elsewhere. After meeting up again we went to Holland & Barrett’s for a loaf and then did some shopping at Sainsbury’s.
It was still pouring with rain. We had a look in a new bookshop, then got very wet as we returned to the car. On our way home we collected the curtains from the cleaners.
We arrived home towards 1.30pm and there was just time to have a bowl of soup before going to Barbara’s, where I arrived just after 2.00pm. I had taken off my wet things and changed into my blue suit and a gold tie.
Barbara was watching for my arrival and we were joined almost immediately by Noel. He works nights, so had only just got up. We had a very good conversation and Barbara and Noel both said they had never seen Gemma so happy as she had been since their contacting me (engineered by her late husband, I am sure).
Barbara had gotten brown bread in, specially for me, and insisted on my having some of the tasty (vegetarian) sandwiches she had prepared, and a jam tart. The remaining sandwiches and two jam tarts she wrapped in clingfilm for me to bring home for Freda.
Noel went off to work at 3.40pm — he is a supervisor at the Post Office — and Barbara talked some more so that it was gone 4.30pm by the time I got away. She and their son Dean, whom I met last time also, stood and waved me goodbye as I drove down the road.
I got in just in time to watch the second half of Countdown, which was won for the fifth time running by a very unassuming and startled lady, Cathy [ ].
We had tea early — I went to sleep for a few minutes first — then just after 6.00pm I phoned Mr Baker to ask him to come to do a couple of jobs. Then it was soon time to go out again, this time to visit Vera at Bartley Green. It was still pouring with rain. We got held up at Selly Oak but got to Vera’s by ten past seven.
Sheba the Staffordshire bull terrier ran out to meet us; she was very excited. She had a big bone which she worked on during the evening.
Vera is on her own now, apart from Sheba. Michelle, 19, having passed all her hairdressing and beautician exams, has gone to Australia to spend a year with her sister Judy. Sue, who is handicapped and lives in the Cheshire Home, is also hoping to visit Australia shortly: folk have already raised £400 towards her fare.
Angie [former Page 3 girl Angie Layne] has had treatment for a flare-up of the cancer she suffered two or three years ago. She now lives in Dulwich with Kit Miller, who is Samantha Fox’s former boy-friend. Vera lost a brother a couple of months ago; he was only 60.
As usual we sat in the front room. It now looks totally different as Carol has redecorated it. Sheba is allowed in the room now, which she wasn’t before.
We had a lovely evening together, talking mainly about the girls and people in show business. Vera said what a lovely complexion I have; Barbara had said the same thing earlier. And Vera also said what a nice colour my hair was!! — whitish yellow, Freda says it is.
Vera made us a cup of coffee and again it had a slight taste of Dettol: she is a bit obsessive about cleanliness — she doesn’t like to borrow library books either. She is a bit thinner and still smokes but looked better than when we saw her last time, I thought.
We left Vera’s at about ten past nine after inviting her to visit us at Summerlands some time.
What lovely people we do meet! — Barbara — Noel — Vera — so many others, all of them delightful people, and we enjoy their company so much. Altogether a very pleasant and interesting day.
We also had a phone call from cousin Barbara. Tomorrow, D.V., we are to meet her and Tom at Harvington Hall to celebrate her birthday.
1.15am (Wednesday). Summerlands. We arrived back home at 12.40am after spending a happy evening at Harvington Hall. It was a dinner party to celebrate Barbara’s 60th birthday on the 3rd. We left there at 10.00pm and drove here via Bromsgrove and the M5.
12.18am (Thursday). Another late night. I have been to Weston tonight to speak to the new group [on Working Out Your Karma, Tape 1034]. Dr Mary and Nancy came; Freda stayed here as she had so much to do.
I spent most of the morning writing up the accounts and answering letters. We went to town at midday and did some shopping. We also called to see Jade Dulig at the Jade Warrior recording studio.
After lunch I answered more letters then went to the post and on to Pursey’s to fill up with petrol. While I was away David Jevons phoned wanting some tapes urgently. I started these immediately and delivered 30 on the way to Weston.
9.14pm. Polling Day. The polls close in 45 minutes. It seems likely that Mrs Thatcher has been returned with a comfortable majority.
I have spent the last 1¾ hours copying more Ramala tapes. I have almost run out of tapes and sent in an order for a further supply this morning.
The sun has shone all day and we have paid our first visit to Brean Down. This morning we went to the banks and Post Office, then drove via Shapwick to the Willows Garden Centre, where we bought a few things, then via Bason Bridge to Highbridge. Here we had a look round and bought bread and pastries before driving on to Burnham-on-Sea. We parked at 12.25pm for an hour then had lunch of eggs, beans and chips at the Old Customs House.
After lunch we drove along the coastal road to Berrow and on to Brean Down. Here we walked the length of the headland to inspect the ruined fort built in 1867. It was accidentally blown up in 1900 by an English soldier firing his carbine into the ammunition store.
The down was a mass of wild flowers. We particularly noticed the delicate white rock rose (Helianthemum apenninum) and did not realise that this is only one of two places where it grows in the wild, the other being Torbay.
Also on Brean Down is an iron-age hill fort, ancient field systems, and the site of a Celtic-Romano temple dating from 300BC. The headland rises to a height of 320ft and there were wonderful views in all directions.
We had a cup of tea in the café attached to the Tropical Bird Gardens before we left. We arrived home at 5.40pm.
10.00pm. Result: Con. 359, Lab 243, Alliance 24, Others 24; Majority 68. This is reported by ITN on the basis of an exit poll.
10.07pm. The BBC forecasts a very slim majority for the Conservatives: Con. 338, Lab. 261, Alliance 26, Others 25. This would give a majority of 26.
Sadie Lindley phoned this morning to say that she was leaving Blackpool at 8.00am tomorrow to move to a council house in Hyde, Cheshire, where she will be nearer her sister. It is 18 months since Eric died.
10.57pm. The Torbay result is expected soon.
11.00pm. Torbay: Con. 29,029, All. 20,209, Lab. 4,538. Con. 54%, Lib. 38%, Lab. 8%. Swing: Con. +1%, Lib. –2%, Lab. +1%. New forecast: Con. 348, Lab. 252, All. 26, Others 24.
11.13pm. Guildford. Con. 32,504, All. 19,897, Lab. 6,216. Con. 55%, All. 34%, Lab. 11%. The Alliance vote is up 1%, the others’ unchanged. Forecast: Con. 354, Lab. 245, All. 26.
11.19pm. Basildon: Con. 21,868, All. 9,139, Lab. 19,209. Con. 44%, Lab. 38%, All. 18%.
11.21pm. Cheltenham. All. 26,475, Con. 21,371, Lab. 4,701. A mistake. The Con. vote must have been 31,371. Con. 50%, All. 42%, Lab. 8%. The BBC announced it as a Liberal gain but it wasn’t.
11.20pm. 4 results in: Con. 363, Lab. 236, All. 26, Others 25. Maj. 76.
11.31pm. Recount at Reigate, a safe Con. Seat. Ballot papers have been lost.
11.40pm. Wrexham. Con. 17,992, Lab. 22,144, All. 9,808, PC 539. Lab. 44%, Con. 36%, All. 19%. Lab. +10%, Con. +2%, Lib. –1%.
11.47pm. Con. hold Reigate.
11.55pm. Pendle. Con. Held. Con. 40%, Lab. 35%, All. 24%.
Margaret Thatcher’s third win
10.02pm. The election results were unexciting and we were so tired that we switched off and went to bed. We had the new portable TV (given us by Gemma Jones) on in the bedroom but only for a few minutes.
On the 7.00am news we heard that the Conservatives had won by over 100. The final result was: Conservative 376, Labour 229, Alliance 22 (Liberals 16, SDP 6), others 28. The Tories received 42% of the vote (–1% compared with 1983), Labour 30.9% (+3.2%, Alliance 22.6% (–2.8%).
Mrs Thatcher is the first Prime Minister to win three General Elections in succession this century. It is a remarkable achievement.
It was a poor result for the Alliance. I fully expected Mick Wilkes to get in at Hall Green, and possibly Alan Butt-Philip here, but neither did. Roy Jenkins lost his seat; Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams were unsuccessful. It is difficult to see how the Alliance can continue with its present joint-leadership. If the parties were to unite, would Dr Owen be acceptable to the Liberals as leader?
The last result to be announced late this afternoon was Down South where Enoch Powell [who has held the seat since 1974] was defeated — at the same time that four black or coloured MPs have been elected.
As usual I worked in the office all morning, and took Freda to her class and collected her. Carol Bruce phoned to ask if she could come to the Bible Study. Helene came too, also Richard & Margaret, Mary, Eva and Nancy, so we were 9 in all, as last week. I spoke on The Hidden Government of the World from Daniel 4 [Tape No. 1035].
After the meeting I copied the tapes and posted them when taking Nancy home. I spent the rest of the afternoon and all evening doing office work, particularly sorting out the letters.
A distressed soul
10.56pm. I slept until 7.45 this morning. With the letters came a catalogue from Misco Computers, Supplies and Accessories, which I looked through. I ordered some labels and Un-glue aerosol.
After coffee we walked into town to post the Misco order form, also a letter to the solicitors of Kay Dunkerley — she has left us £100 in her will — and we also did some shopping. In town we saw Annabel Walter, though not to speak to. She and some friends were collecting for Heaven’s Gate Animal Rescue Centre, for which I raised £10,000 two or three years ago.
An Antiques Fair was being held at the Town Hall. We wandered in and I was able to buy a first edition of Dion Fortune’s Avalon of the Heart, complete with dust-wrapper for only £4, also Simcox Lea and Bligh Bond’s The Apostolic Gnosis — the 1979 reprint in paperback — for £1. I read some of this when we got home.
After lunch I slept for quite a long time, then joined Freda in the garden, where I sat on the lower terrace and read Sweet Track to Glastonbury.
Soon after 5.00pm Eva [Marsden] appeared. She was very distressed because she had no money, she said. (Earlier in the day, on our way into town we had met Mary, who had told us the same story, and we had been trying to decide what to do.) We went straight down to the cottage, where I immediately discovered a lot of things down the side and back of the settee, including her front door key and two purses, inside one of which was a £5 note.
With Eva’s approval we searched high and low and recovered her Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society book with a balance of £10,000, and discovered £30 in £5 notes under her bedside clock.
We were about an hour and a half at Eva’s. We did a lot of sorting out for her and brought back a bag of scrap paper.
We got back at about 6.45pm, so were late having tea. After tea Freda worked in the garden again while I did the washing up and tidied the office. I unpacked the Tatung computer, monitor and printer yesterday (the printer today) and had them on my desk. I have since had to put them in the study.
I did not complete Monday’s notes, but in the morning Will Morson, the Tatung technical support engineer, came to continue programming the computer. He was not able to stay the whole morning and the only thing I learned to do was to feed names and addresses into the computer. In the afternoon we filled up with petrol at Cateswell Lodge and delivered our house-keys to Mr Baker at Primrose Lane.
Seven new suits
10.29pm. Richard & Margaret Slade had invited us to visit them today. We arrived for coffee at 10.45am, had a delicious lunch of egg mornay followed by a generous helping of strawberries and cream, and enjoyed a happy time of fellowship together.
Before lunch Richard took us upstairs, where he played his Lowrey organ for us, then he asked me if I would like to have a suit he had never worn. He ended up giving me a complete wardrobe of new or hardly worn suits, dress shirts etc., which fitted me so perfectly that they might have been made for me. I have exactly the same figure except that since giving up smoking, he has put on weight around the middle. Richard used to be a dress-designer and later a hairdresser, so the clothes are very smart and colourful, and to my liking.
Margaret gave Freda an evening bag, a black lace skirt and a lace top. They expect to move next month to a mobile home at Clyst St Mary. They are very much on our wavelength and I hope we shall see more of them. They are also giving us a suite of four armchairs and a bed settee.
We left Richard & Margaret at about 3.15pm then drove to Castle Cary to enquire what time the London train arrives on Thursday evening, when Eva [Stewart] is coming to us. It is 6.20pm. After leaving the station we drove on into the town to do a little shopping, and I looked at the books in Bailey Hill Bookshop. We arrived home in time to see the second half of Countdown.
Before going to Shepton Mallet we went into town, where I posted 24 letters — 9 of them written this morning — while Freda went to the bank for me.
I had a good day yesterday answering 15 letters in the morning and washing up after lunch. In the afternoon I slept for a few minutes then got engrossed in a study of Hebrew gematria.
Then, about 5.00pm, there was a ring at the doorbell. It was Abigail Evans [name changed], who is a religious maniac, but when she asked to come in I admitted her before properly recognising her. She spent the next 15 minutes or so cross-questioning me about our neglect of Eva and the “large sums of money” I had taken off her and Nellie [Towse], and countering my answers with accusations of lying.
I got so concerned about the allegations she was making that I went to the back door to fetch Freda, who was working in the garden. She could see that I was upset and came in to the office, but the colour drained from her face and I said to Abigail, “You had better go.” But she wouldn’t. I asked her twice more, and when she wouldn’t budge I had literally to drag her to the front door. She had incredible strength, like someone possessed of the devil.
THURSDAY 29th OCTOBER
Still wearing my make-up
11.46pm. Here we are in Birmingham Airport in Lounge D waiting for our flight to Malaga.
Earlier this evening I introduced the show at Buxton Opera House, got Doris on stage again for the second half, then left the theatre at ten past nine, still wearing my stage clothes and make-up.
We arrived at Clarice and Noel’s at about 10.50pm. I got changed and we had a cup of tea and slice of cake, then Noel drove us here in his car.
Freda is agitated because our flight is not yet shown on the departure board. The airplane should have arrived from Malaga at 10.20pm so may still be being serviced.
We had a busy morning at Summerlands. I spent the morning answering letters and also copied a tape for Joel Rehnstrom.
We left at 12.41pm, went first to town to post the letters and to pay money into the Building Society, and Freda went to the chemist to buy a film. On our way out to the M5 we stopped at Walton to fill up with petrol.
In Spain, disorientated
8.52pm (7.52 BST). In bed in our apartment at La Herradura, Granada, southern Spain. We arrived at about 5.45am, Freda and Jenks [Freda and Squadron-Leader Richard “Jenks” Jenkins] having met us at Malaga airport and driven us the 50 miles here.
We slept until around midday and again this afternoon. I am so tired and disorientated: I haven’t really arrived yet.
The prima donna
About 10.30am. I have just come out onto the terrace of the apart [Jenks came]
7.51pm (6.51pm at home). Jenks has lent us a battery radio, so we have been able to hear the BBC World Service time signal and news.
I am in bed and we are retiring for the day. There is nowhere else in this apartment warm enough or bright enough to read or write. Even here in the bedroom we have a two-bar electric fire on to warm the room a bit, but the light on either side of the bed is barely adequate to see by.
We had our breakfast on the terrace this morning, after which I did the washing-up, and had just begun my Diary notes when Jenks came to take us for a drive. We drove to Almunecar, visiting a ruined castle on the way. There is much development at Almunecar but, as here, the beach is grey and uninviting.
As yesterday, we had lunch with Freda & Jenks on their terrace and talked a while, then came back to our apartment where we sat in the little garden. Freda wrote the six postcards we had bought on our way back for lunch and I stuck the stamps on, then we went to post them and had a walk along the esplanade, if it could be called such. After we got back we had tea here in our bedroom, after which I did the washing up.
I have only the haziest idea about yesterday. We had lunch — a nice salad followed by cherry [? pie] — with Freda & Jenks, after which we two walked down to the beach. After we got back we made ourselves a cup of tea then climbed into bed and slept for I don’t know how long.
Jenks called for us to take us out to see the sunset and to have a walk. We drove up into the mountains above the tunnel by which we entered La Herradura from Malaga, and went to a roadside café perched precipitously on the cliff edge.
The dining room was almost in darkness, and all the tables were in a mess following a party there in the afternoon; there was no one else there when we arrived. The proprietor was away too, but their small daughter cooked us a tortilla, a potato and vegetable omelette, which we enjoyed. After we got back we had a cup of coffee and slice of chocolate cake in bed, then slept for many hours.
We have already met several of the local people. Freda introduces us [as] “mi familias”. Yesterday we met Francisco, the elderly father of Ricardo, who owns these apartments. Ricardo we met this morning in the Tabac (where we bought the postcards and stamps), together with his wife and daughters Elena (13) and Maria (19-20). Elena kissed us very affectionately.
It is very odd being here. Freda and Jenks live at 3 Hill Head Close when they are in Glastonbury, but until this holiday we had met barely half-a-dozen times. They came to my Wessex lecture Alone of All Her Sex [Tape 994, 14 September 1986], and they have twice taken us out to lunch at Crossways. They know Sir George from long ago and George visited them one time when he was staying with us. I think it was Theresa Wheaton who told Freda about us; they stay with her when they get back while their place is warming up. It is usually at the end of April and the beginning of May.
Freda wrote about me, briefly, in a book which was published last year, but we don’t really know each other. Freda and Jenks are great talkers — often both at the same time — so we are rarely called upon to say anything. Such “conversations” as we have are rarely of any spiritual content, so we wonder why we have been brought here, except that Freda Jenkins feels that she is fulfilling some sort of duty to the spirit world in building us up. It really is most odd.
Our association with Doris Collins is most odd also. I never dreamed we would one day travel all over the country — hundreds of miles this week alone — chairing her meetings. Doris is not the easiest person in the world to get on with. Her chief topic of conversation is herself (like most people); she is always complaining about someone or something, and every night I have to mollify her and build her up before she goes on stage.
On Thursday night we were at Buxton at her special insistent request, even though she knew we were going on holiday the same evening. I didn’t mind in the least, but it is costing Derek Block Concert Promotions quite a lot of money by way of our travelling expenses and (at Manchester) overnight accommodation in an hotel.
When we came off stage at the end of the first half Doris said, “Have you been studying your notes?” (written by Philip and handed to me earlier in the week, at Warrington, I think, to my consternation) and then said, accusingly, “You didn’t mention my work overseas.” In fact, I had not only told the audience that she had been many times to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and Europe, but that she had packed the largest auditoriums there, just as in this country. “Oh,” said Doris, “I must have been talking to someone.”
Earlier in the evening Doris had been castigating the Opera House management for not having brightened the stage with flowers — they had only tall plants in tubs — and there being no grand piano. “I’m not going on,” she said, playing the prima donna.
Nothing is ever right for Doris. Still we have lots of fun. On previous tours where I have chaired for her, the paperback edition of her A Woman of Spirit has been on sale, and I have had a copy on the stage with me which I have sold before coming off for the interval. I reckon my salesmanship has sold quite a lot of copies at each show.
However, this tour there have been no paperbacks, only the hardback of her new book The Power Within. I asked Keith to let me have a copy to advertise it from the stage, but he didn’t. They didn’t sell a single copy at [the Parr Hall] Warrington, and had sold very few at the earlier meetings.
So, at Harrogate the following night, i.e. last Monday, I made sure I had a copy and, having cajoled Doris into agreeing to autograph any books I might sell, I told the audience she would do so if they would bring their books up for signing at the end of the show. I did not expect that having paid £4.50 for a seat anyone would want to spend a further £9.95 for the book, but I was wrong. A crowd gathered in front of the stage and I was kept very busy carrying books to and from her dressing room, getting Doris not only to sign the books but to personalise each one (I made a note of the name in each case). The result was that every book was sold, (except for the one I had on the stage, which I forgot about). I did the same thing at Buxton on Thursday night, but have no idea whether it worked or not.
Monday night at [the Royal Hall] Harrogate was not Doris’s best performance by any means (Freda thought it poor). But as a result of my telling the audience what a loving person Doris was, and that she would love to autograph their books, there were more appreciative remarks at the end of the show than I have heard at any other, and when I told Doris so, she was delighted and purred with pleasure.
Everything has worked like clockwork all this week to get us through the heavy schedule of meetings and here to southern Spain. We had a very pleasant flight from Elmdon. We forgot when purchasing the tickets to advise them that we were non-smokers and vegetarians. Consequently we had to sit in the smoking section, but the stewardesses were very kind and subsequently moved us forward to the second row of the [non-] smoking part where there were three free seats. I sat in the aisle seat and Freda was able to lie down across the other two.
Then when the meal was served they gave us extra packets of cream crackers and took details of our names so that we should be sure of a vegetarian meal on the return flight. They were most helpful — Thomson’s again — unlike Intasun.