Arthur MacIver’s Diaries

Contributed by Jerome & Eileen Norris of Rydal Lodge to whom the extracts were sent.
Rydal  Lodge  Entries

Arthur Maclver, b, 1905 & in 1925 a classics student at Oxford lived in Blrkenhead and during Oxford holidays. at Rydal Lodge with has mother Florence.  His father Andrew had been killed in the First World War and his only sibling, ‘John’ had dled aged 5.  
They stayed at Rydal until Florence bought Brown How, on Coniston in 1939. 
Later in the period covered by the diaries. Arthur had various university teaching posts. 
(He eventually became Professor of Philosophy at Southampton)

Christmas 1925
23rd.  (December) At last at Rydal Lodge and for the first time since I began to keep this diary nearly three months ago in one of our own houses!... (He had spent the time at Oxford and at Wanlass because his mother was looking after her dying father Arthur Crosthwaite, in Llverpool.)

24th.  ....The snow was thick on the ground and as every now and then during the morning it began to fall again we kept thinking of poor Uncle (Tinley Crosthwaite who was coming with his family from Liverpool for Christmas)… we went to the village and spent a very long time shopping... In the afternoon we went to Grasmere to Miss Reads being the only good bookshop in the neighbourhood and bought a Pocket Oxford Dictionary for Uncle Tinley and the second series ‘Poems of To-day’ as a stop-gap present for Mummy. Then we returned and waited for the family, meanwhile sawing two coconuts for the tits; by five o’clock no one had arrived, so we had tea; then they telephoned that they were having tea at Rigg’s all but Wendy and Evelyn who had come up by train and gone on by peril (the nickname for the bus which was yellow); ultimately they all arrived and before dinner we garaged Tanny (Uncles car) in the Party [?] he going up the snow-clad hill without a murmur..

25th.  (Christmas Day) 'twas very fortunately determined last night that only Mummy should go the early service at Wray this morning it was therefore possible for the rest of us to sleep peacefully and rise late.  The snow lay all over the ground as before but had frozen harder in the night.  Breakfast was pandemonium - food shouts parcels and paper all over the room and especially the breakfast table for my own part I had received ‘Biography for Beginners’ from Auntie Dums and began at once to read most of it… Then at last we made ready and went to church... At the dismissal of the catechumens Mummy and the children went out and home in Jane (Florries car) calling at Wanlass for toboggans; I remained with Uncle Tinley and Auntie Gwen for the communion. When we returned they were all toboganning on the father side of the foot-bridge.  After lunch they went out again  we watched them for a while, then for a walk (of all minus the children) along the side of the lake onto Loughrigg Terrace the snow all the way was quite deep but very light and feathery.  Then tea. Afterwards made some attempt (hardly successful) to read Cicero.  For dinner we all wore masks and there was much noise; I note that I have a distinct penchant for turkey though I see little merit in trifle or plum-pudding at the end I had to go masked into the kitchen with the trifle and found a young man there, so procured him a mask as also the others, but whether he wore it I do not know.

Alter dinner we tried first to play ‘Spelka’ (a word-making game) then relapsed into ‘Noahs Ark’; much noise ending when the family went to bed at ten..

26th. It had thawed on the night and during the morning it drizzled softly turning yesterdays white feathery snow into a most abominable slush. Meanwhile I played a little ping-pong with the children and also read a little Cicero. In the afternoon I went for a walk with Uncle Tinley, Auntie Gwen and Wendy along the same path as yesterday but across a very different surface; all the then white snow was a grey soup and at one point (by the lake) the path had become a running river; neverthelessthere was still some ice left both on Rydal and on the waterfalls at Red Bank end of Loughrlgg Terrace.  It was wet enough for it to be quite necessary on returning to change my stockings.  And then, after tea, there was a family ping-pong tournament n(handicap) won by Peter, my game going to pieces in the final.  Alter dinner we had ‘cards - first ‘Noahs Ark’ and then somewhat uproarious ‘Spelka’ of which we have at last mastered the rules…

New Year 1930
January 1st  
  ..We are now at Rydal where we have had a wild wet windy Christmas, rather piano in this house (but I went for my Christmas lunch to Wanlass) because on the 23rd Mummy fell over the laundry-basket in the bicycle room in the dark, giving herself a very nasty bruise on the left temple and a headache.

September 1931 - visit by Paul Robeson
September 3rd
Paul Robeson came to sing at Kendal and we went to hear him; Mummy on the strength of one meeting at the Ravens, wrote beforehand and invited him to lunch with us and (to our surprise) he accepted and came the next day and stayed to tea, after which Mummy took him in the car to Keswick where he was singing again that evening - a damned intelligent man

September 1939 - outbreak of war
September 3rd. (Sunday) (A ‘catch-up’ entry)
The next morning (the deg before yesterday) we turned on the Droitwich news at 10.30 and heard that Poland had been invaded.  In the evening Chamberlain told Parliament that our ambassador had orders to insist that the troops be withdrawn…  I decided that I ought to go back to Leeds at once (Arthur was a lecturer at Leeds University)…. and started by the 9.30 train next morning. Mr Legh as billeting officer for Rydal had meanwhile come round and told Mummy to expect two children but in the end they didn’t arrive that night...