JANUARY 9, 1946
LONDON, Tuesday—These few days before the conference actually begins are the only ones when I think we will have an opportunity to meet friends and perhaps get some of the information which will help us to do our work better.
We are staying at Claridge's where we are spared the rigors of a private home or a less luxurious hotel. Having been warned that we would be cold, I suffered from the heat on arrival and had to turn off the little electric heaters which I am sure had been turned on to keep the American guests happy.
I am glad that when I was here before in 1942 I stayed in a number of British homes. Otherwise I am afraid that this visit would give me little conception of what the life of the average individual family has been and still is in this embattled island.
* * *
I can hardly tell you how heartwarming it was to have Lady Reading, who has been head of the Women's Voluntary Services all through the war, knock at my door almost before I had taken off my coat after arriving. She was leaving the hotel, because the rooms were needed for our party, and going to the country for the weekend. Her own little house, into which she is just moving, would not have the water turned on until Monday. Just to see her for a few minutes made me feel welcome.
A little later, Mr. and Mrs. Noel-Baker came to call. (He has been Chairman of the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations Organization.) Then our ambassadormbassador, Mr. John Winant, dropped in, and a little later Mr. Dorsey Fisher, a member of our embassymbassy staff who traveled throughout Great Britain with me when I was here in 1942. Then Miss Louise Morley came in.
These last two accompanied me later to the American Embassy Canteen for dinner. This canteen is run for Americans in London. The steward is a young American soldier, Sgt. Strickland, who does a remarkable job. I think we all feel better because we know the food is American Army food so we are not taking away from the scant provisions of Great Britain.
In the evening I had a long talk with Henry Tosti Russell, representative of United Features over here, and so my unpacking waited until somewhere around 10 p.m. This was a good thing, however, because it gave time to collect all the various bags so that once I began, I could go ahead and get settled.
I am rather glad to have a day or two to familiarize myself as to how to reach the places where I am most apt to have to be in the course of the next few weeks. I am always slow about remembering how to get around in London. Walking is often the best way to reach one's destination these days.
I brought with me from the ship a basket of fruit which a kind friend had sent me. On board fruit was plentiful and I thought I might find that people here would be glad to share it with me. I had not realized, however, just how glad they would be. When I asked someone casually if they would like a couple of pears, they looked at me and said, "You don't seem to realize that these are luxuries with us. I haven't had a pear in years."
One of my other friends said protestingly, "I really shouldn't take these from you because I have been so long without them that I don't miss them any more, but you are going to feel the change."
I explained that it was better to eat fruit before it became too soft and so she walked off with a clear conscience and I hope enjoyed the pears.