NOVEMBER 17, 1942
LONDON—Friday evening a few of our old friends dined with us and on Saturday I went over to do a recording in the early morning. On my return to the apartment, I had a very interesting talk with Mr. Ernest Bevin and Mr. Ince. After that the High Commissioners of the four Dominions came to call, and General Smuts also dropped in. I feel sorry that I have not been able to see much of the work done here for and with the Dominion groups, but in many ways it seems to be similar work to that done by the British and the Americans.
I stopped at the English–Speaking Union a little later and met a number of their board members and other distinguished guests. I saw the distributing depot from which gifts English–Speaking Unions in America are issued. They say they have been sent a tremendous number of very useful things and they are most grateful. The second hand garments can be given out without coupons just as is being done in other depots, and that means a great deal to people who have been bombed out and have nothing left. Then we went to another room where guides are furnished to Americans over here and any information which they desire is obtained. I think this is perhaps the most valuable thing which could be done because it is if anything, more confusing to land in London and be friendless than to find oneself alone in New York City. If you lose your way in a square in a fog, you are apt to be a long while getting right again and people have been known to take four hours to reach a place which in ordinary times they could have walked to in fifteen minutes.
I think one of the most difficult things for our American men is the fact that there are really so few ways of getting about. After a comparatively early hour, buses and trains become fewer as the hours go by, and the blackout is so gloomy that it is far pleasanter to stay in a well-lighted, cheerful house, even though every curtain must be carefully drawn and not one light must shine out through a chink. You have to get accustomed to getting in and out around brick walls which are erected to keep light from shining from the doorways, and light has to be turned out before the door is opened, or there is a heavy black curtain inside the door.
This is one of the reasons why I feel it is so important that plenty of entertainment should be provided during the winter at our American Red Cross centers and in the camps themselves.
At one-fifteen I lunched with a large group of very old Allenswood school friends. Mrs. C.C.L. Fitzwilliams arranged this luncheon and it was so pleasant and interesting to see these companions of my girlhood days in England. We have all changed a great deal, but some of us have kept characteristics which make us recognizable in spite of the intervening years.
A short movie was shown of Mrs. Fitzwilliams' country house, Greatford Hall, where her husband has developed the growing of watercress and I was much interested to see how this is done on a large scale. As a food, watercress has many valuable vitamins.
I spent the afternoon seeing a succession of visitors, with a group coming in at tea time which included my cousin, Stewart Alsop, who is here in the British Army. Finally Mr. and Mrs. David Gray dined with us and we had a delightful evening talking of home people and happenings.