Staying till next Wed. with M[arjorie] and H[umphrey] at 21 Estcourt Avenue, Headingley. Conscious all the while of difference in atmosphere between middle-class home even of this kind and working-class home. The essential difference is that here there is elbow-room, in spite of there being 5 adults and 3 children, besides animals, at present in the house. The children make peace and quiet difficult, but if you definitely want to be alone you can be so – in a working-class house never, either by night or day.
One of the kinds of discomfort inseparable from a working-man’s life is waiting about. If you receive a salary it is paid into your bank and you draw it out when you want it. If you receive wages, you have to go and get them in somebody else’s time and are probably kept hanging about and probably expected to behave as though being paid your wages at all was a favour. When Mr Hornby at Wigan went to the mine to draw his compensation, he had to go, for some reason I did not understand, on two separate days each week, and was kept waiting in the cold for about an hour before he was paid.
In addition the four tram journeys to and from the mine cost him 1/-, reducing his compensation from 29/- weekly to 28/-. He took this for granted, of course. The result of long training in this kind of thing is that whereas the bourgeois goes through life expecting to get what he wants, within limits, the working-man always feels himself the slave of a more or less mysterious authority. I was impressed by the fact that when I went to Sheffield Town Hall to ask for certain statistics, both Brown and Searle – both of them people of much more forcible character than myself – were nervous, would not come into the office with me, and assumed that the Town Clerk would refuse information. They said, “He might give it to you, but he wouldn’t to us.” Actually the Town Clerk was snooty and I did not get all the information I asked for. But the point was that I assumed my questions would be answered, and the other two assumed the contrary.
It is for this reason that in countries where the class hierarchy exists, people of the higher class always tend to come to the front in times of stress, though not really more gifted than the others. That they will do so seems to be taken for granted always and everywhere. NB. to look up the passage in Lissagaray’s History of the Commune describing the shootings after the Commune had been suppressed. They were shooting the ringleaders without trial, and as they did not know who the ringleaders were, they were picking them out on the principle that those of better class than the others would be the ringleaders. One man was shot because he was wearing a watch, another because he ‘had an intelligent face.’ NB. to look up this passage.
Yesterday with H. and M. to Hawarth Parsonage, home of the Brontes and now a museum. Was chiefly impressed by a pair of Charlotte Bronte’s cloth-topped boots, very small, with square toes and lacing up at the sides.