Diary Fragment

In May 1930 George was in his first year studing mechanical sciences at Cambridge (Sidney Sussex). While we read of his good intentions at the start, this is all that there is. Seven pages into this thick stiff backed book which cost him 1/6d it just stops, probably because he decided it was more trouble than it was worth. Nevertheless it gives an interesting snapshot of his life at the time, quite revealing in many ways. For a start I had no idea that he played bridge.

His writing was a lot neater than in his later life, and generally decipherable. Some of what appears below is a best guess, and it was only occasionally that I could not work out a particular word. Some of it does not make obvious sense, though I am not an engineer.


May 2nd 1930

Since so much of what I see hear and do nowadays is new and pleasant and that I am learning so many new things it has seemed during the last few days that not to keep a diary was a crime. So here it is.

Got up 8.30. Lamb, Landen and Supervision in the morning. Lunch in K6 with Bill John and Kate. A hurried meeting with James Hall and Mrs in Sidney Street. Drew £5 from Bank for files (got) white flannels, socks and pyjamas (not yet). Tennis with Bill 'Bird and a cheerful Radleian, rain influenced. Tea with John. Successful at cutthroat. After hall read "Metallurgy of Iron and Steel" "Autocar" in which was my letter on "Turbulence" and wrote up Surveying notes. Bed and an orange at 1.15. Must write to Cantle.

May 3rd

Up at 8. Wet. Chatty drawing; abstruse Heat. What is [phi symbol]? Very incoherent foreign gentleman on timber. Pulled to pieces and assembled Emersons clutch. Nothing wrong, bike wouldn't start. Matchlesses gloriously inaccessible. A dirty and enjoyable afternoon. Bought pyjamas ((?)) and white socks. Livingstone unsatisfactory. Bridge till 10.30 then wrote criticism of Grantas "Mohe". Bed at 12.40

Sunday May 4th

Up 9.15. Went to Friends Meeting for first time. The silence and simplicity impressed and appealed to me. An old woman said that to ? God's creation aright the heart must be right. An old man said that every man should find his own religion. Also that religion was inevitable but not necessarily good. Did not help Kate rather to the annoyance of the three, but had Fisher in to tea. He spent the whole time playing with my slide rule. Chapel, which compared poorly with Friends Meeting. Wrote to Daddy and set up Calculus book and notes with a letter to Albert Cantle. Then Bridge and coffee on me, lost 3½d. Bed at 12.

Monday May 5th

Up 7.30. Mechs of Machs valve harmonics. First taste of hydrostatics. So far so good. Surveying. Much amused by the three demonstrators who sat most of time on bench. Tennis with John and Bill. John cannot play. Wrote up labs in evening but could not do much Mays as Bill and Birdwood came in. Much mutual commiserations. Also talked of shooting.

Wednesday May 7th

Did not write yesterday as I went to sleep in my chair. Spent day until 4 drawing and surveying with Bill. Tea on me. Lit fire after hall - consequently Bill and Birdwood stayed 2 hours.

Thursday May 8th

Up 7.30. Early for once at labs. Did first dynamo experiment. Lunch on Bill with John and Ross. Though cold went on Granta in a big canoe with Bill. River very high. Watched 'Bird punt and afterwards had a water fight with him and Chase. Watched some lads shooting down the temporary gap in a canoe. It looked quite easy though exciting, as there was no direct drop. Tea on me. Bridge after Hall. Won once. Bed at 12.

Friday May 9th

Up 7.30. Lamb and Landen then supervision. Having to go separately for a bit. Lunch on John with much lettuce. Kate and Bill also present. Tennis with Bill 'Bird and Vellacott mostly in a raging tempest. Some rain. Tea on me, Bill John Kate and Vellacott. Animated discussion on gravitational and other effects in freely falling lift. What happens if you ? ? Why the funny feeling at the start? After hall booked court and got Autocar which I read till 10 then worked till 12. Bed at 12.15.

Saturday May 10th

Mechs Machs heat and drawing. Bill and Kate in to lunch on sardines. Tennis with Emerson Vellacott and Bill then tea on Bill which finished with uproarious dancing of the old dances also ballet dancing which broke a Woolworths jig. Talked with John after hall about Merchant Taylors.

Sunday May 11th

A quiet day. Got up late and went again to Friends Meeting. Attention was directed to the dangers of selfish individual worship and consequently of sects that went no further than bodily healing. The truth of this is now apparent. Lunch alone. Spent the afternoon at the Union and got out Tono-Bungay. So far a good book but the defects in Wells' style are very apparent. Coffee on Bill. Wrote to Daddy.

Tuesday May 13th

Wet all day. Went to forestry school this morning to see timber in the flesh. Large lunch with Bill and John. Afternoon in College library where I read Ansons Voyages (when they were at Robinson Crusoe's island) and a 17th century guide to London. Tea on Kate got onto his roof where there is quite a view. Coffee and Bridge on John but poor Bill finished off in a huff. Bed 11.30 (for once).

Wed 14th

Weather fine. Drawing and then surveying drawing in the morning. Joined the Buffs which was I think worth 6d. Tennis on the Kings courts with Emerson Leadbeter and Bill from 3.30 to 5.30. Afterwards much puzzled because Leadbeter claims to have been at Clifton but according to Fiedler and his roll was not there. After Hall, Mechs Machs for 1 hour in Bill's room with him and Emerson, then talk till nearly twelve. Still I think some useful work was done. Bed 12.10.

Sunday 18th

Thursday night Iolanthe, Friday night Patience. Arrived back both nights late and hot in need of a bath so no diary. On Saturday I had an exhausting but enjoyable day entertaining two of Bill's friends. Took them on the upper river in a punt for tea and had supper at the Copper Kettle. A good show. Vellacott is an enthusiast on rotary valves. Today went to Stoke by Clare with CTC. Had a good time with the tin punt and dug for the suspension bridge on the far and exclusive side of the river. No concrete mixing but a lot of digging. Wrote a very long letter to Daddy in the evening with my opinions on pacifism and Empire Free Trade.

Monday 19th

A busy day. Surveyed from 12 to nearly 3 though there were intervals for discussion and bare back riding on the part of Emerson. Then drew till 5 finishing con rod all but for dimensions. Lunch on the field. John came in after Hall and we had coffee till eight, then did Davenport's work till 10.45 and so to bed.


Put in some extra drawing in the morning and had Bill and John to lunch. Pork pie lettuce tomatoes. Played tennis on Pothouse courts with Vellacott and five others only one court as the other one booked was impossible. Tea outside Pavilion. Read "Tidemarks" from 7 till 10.30. Then worked out surveying with Bill until twelve thirty. Then bath and bed.


Drew from 9 till 4.30 with intervals for surveying lecture 1 hr and a half hour on the river having climbed out of the window with Bill and Emerson in our shirt sleeves. Rob Roys. We must have been a quaint sight as we all had braces on. Came back to tea and finished "Tidemarks" the best book I had read for a long while. Worked after Hall till 12 with an hours interlude in the JCR and some chat with Birdwood. Leslie Henson is the man for fruit. Had a letter from J, still rather plaintive that I can't go up for her birthday. I wonder what she really thought of the throne room. Bath and bed at 12.10.