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EVES, DOUGLAS  (born1922) [with a reference to MASEFIELD, JOHN]. His manuscript diaries and commonplace books for the years 1941 (Jan-June) & 1949-1956.

The first diary commences whilst he is at Corpus Christie, Cambridge, reading Classics, but his studies are interrupted by the war, he being severely injured in combat.   They recommence in 1949 and continue through, with occasional gaps, to 1956.  During this period he studies law at Lincolns Inn, becoming a member of Middle Temple, teaches at Repton, and takes up an appointment as deputy chairman of the family firm, the Ibstock Brick & Tile Co. near Leicester. He has ambitions as a poet, visiting JOHN MASEFIELD (see below) and also contemplates the stage but, from a limited perusal of the diaries he appears to suffer much from depression and lacks direction;  he certainly finds no joy in working for the family firm nor does he find law or his role as a schoolmaster terribly rewarding. His diaries are generally descriptive narratives of particular events or very observant pen portraits of people he encounters.  Included with these diaries are a photograph of Eves and a copy of his privately printed ‘Reflections at Random – The Story of a Life’ from which we learn that he taught not only at Repton, but also at St. Peter’s, Weston-super-Mare, and the Dragon School, Oxford, and that he was a friend of Sir John Betjeman.

The following extracts, chosen at random, will we hope give an indication of the diaries as a whole, but the bulk of them remain unread and may produce more of interest. Written in ten 8vo and 4to notebooks.

Oct.11, 1949:  "Met a strange old lady in the Linden Restaurant. She was sitting opposite me at table, a crumpled face, the jaw and lower lips uncertain as often with older people and very sharp dark eyes. Wisps of dyed hair came down from a blue hat draped about with a large black veil. Pudgy hands with four rings on the left. After I had spoken to her and said I had only recently come to London, 'I thought so' she said …… She treated the waiter with a mixture of extreme courtesy and old world arrogance, and me part as a child, part as a young man out with her, part as if she was telling my fortune.   She had the – for me telling way of phrasing common-places with an air of mystery – ‘Now I’m going to tell you something … you may not believe this but, I can see …’  and then she would refer to her skill at character judging . ‘Don’t forget your limitations.  Remember to ask God for help …… find something to thank God for.  It may just be the sunshine … Now I don’t want to preach to you because I like my fun & nonsense with the others. So don’t mind my telling you that’. She called me big boy ‘Go ahead Big Boy.  Say to yourself I’m as good as any man living’.  She gave her name, Lady Talbot MaCarthy of Linton House. Husband, now dead, one of the foremost physicians in London …… Harangued the government who have got in by gangster methods while the others weren’t looking. Told me I should go into politics …… and then she left me speechless by her graciousness in saying she hoped I hadn’t regretted doing her the honour of addressing her. I think she is very old and lonely and eccentric. Living much in her past – very shrewd … probably extremely generous. Clutching her old world manners about her like a scanty old coat that will no longer keep out the cold.   I am very glad to have met her".

His entry for Jan. 6th, 1954 is a very detailed 5-page 4to account of his visit to John Masefield: "This afternoon I visited John Masefield. It was a great occasion and I approached full of humility & nervousness. He was delightful. Much more rubicund and jolly than he seems in photographs, slightly stooping, white hair thick at the sides and wispy on top, wearing a dark suit, two pullovers and a thick dark wooly tie. His wife is tiny …… her voice is startlingly loud and her conversation confined largely to Ecclesiastical matters. She talked of Temple and his ordination, and I was suddenly asked whether the churches round Repton were built in the Perpendicular. We had tea in a dark dining room sitting at a small table. Pictures around the walls & tall bookcase behind me. After tea she departed ostensibly to remove her hat and J.M. & I went into the sitting room, a comfortable room with big windows looking over the Thames … he told me about the White Horse of Uffington and the ceremonies attached to scouring it, and presented me with a book on the subject by Thomas Hughes. After we had spoken of boys, and the Empire & traveling he asked me whether I wrote and when I replied that I tried to and that it was mostly poetry he said some very interesting things ……"   There then follows an interesting 3-page account of Masefield’s advice to him regarding the writing of poetry, Eves concluding: "… A very kindly, warm-hearted lively minded old man, with something of the old bard about him as he sat by the fire and spoke with such wisdom & authority about these things.  It was like talking to an oracle …… there was too a lovely remoteness about the house, a little island where funny things might happen and funny people come and go …… so now I must take to heart what he said and set myself to it with a will".

And of affairs of the heart he writes on June 7th, 1950:  "These are affairs of a very intimate kind that I shall be writing down and I shall find it difficult to describe them. I have just come back from spending yesterday and last night at Gwyn’s cottage near Chesham. With Gwyn was also staying a girl called Marion [……] whom I had mentioned to me 10 days ago as a possible prospective wife.  I was of course all eagerness to see her, telling myself that I mustn’t have high hopes …… As for appearance … Marion is tall … with a slight stoop, and a stranger might take her for Nordic … she has fair almost ash-blonde hair falling loosely down to her neck where it is curled. Eyes which are sometimes grey, sometimes sea-blue, a rather broad nose, made such by the flare of the nostrils, a good mouth and teeth, tho’ the upper lip is rather narrow. She has a way of puckering her forehead …… Her manner was at first rather nervous and she seemed half afraid to look me in the eyes and when she did it was only for a moment. I should say she has a good quick brain which has more interests than she wants to reveal, an even temperament and an ardent nature. Sometimes she is like a child with an unaffected laugh and a gusto for the funny side of life that I like very much. At other times she is very much on the defensive, with a harsh self protective almost aggressive attitude. Last night when Gwyn had gone to bed we went out in the car (about 11pm) and drove about 12 miles to Aylesbury.  Coming back … we lost the way and when we were looking at the map I put my hand in hers and kissed her, to which her response was welcoming and practiced. Later on … I stopped the car again and we kissed and talked until 3.30 am … it was of course a stupid thing to do with a girl I hope to know better …… the fear and inhibitions of the daytime were lost and she was – it seemed – wonderfully candid and passionate. With a girl who is obviously practiced in love-making I always feel a mixture of relief and disappointment – one that I can get what I want quite easily, the other that I must be sharing it with others! ……” £425.00

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