The Blue Notebook
[The blue notebook began with a sentence:]
‘Tommy appeared to be accusing his mother.’
[Then Anna had written:]
I came upstairs from the scene between Tommy and Molly and instantly began to turn it into a short story. It struck me that my doing this — turning everything into fiction — must be an evasion. Why not write down, simply, what happened between Molly and her son today? Why do I never write down, simply, what happens? Why don’t I keep a diary? Obviously, my changing everything into fiction is simply a means of concealing something from myself. Today it was so clear: sitting listening to Molly and Tommy at war, very disturbed by it; then coming straight upstairs and beginning to write a story without even planning to do it. I shall keep a diary.
Jan. 7th, 1950
Tommy was seventeen this week. Molly has never put pressure on him to make up his mind about his future. In fact, recently she told him to stop worrying and to go off to France for a few weeks to ‘broaden his mind’. (This phrase irritated him when she used it.) Today he came into the kitchen on purpose to quarrel — both Molly and I knew it as soon as he walked in. He has been in a mood of hostility to Molly for some time. This started after his first visit to his father’s house. (At the time we didn’t realize how deeply the visit affected him.) It was then he began to criticize his mother for being a communist and ‘bohemian’. Molly laughed it off, and said that country houses full of landed gentry and money were fun to visit but he was damned lucky not to have to live that life. He paid a second visit a few weeks later, and returned to his mother over-polite, full of hostility. At which point I intervened: told him, which Molly was too proud to do, about the history of Molly and his father — the way he bullied her financially to make her go back to him, then the threats to tell her employers she was a communist, etc., so that she might lose her job — the whole long ugly story. Tommy at first didn’t believe me; no one could be more charming than Richard over a long week-end, I should imagine. Then he believed me, but it didn’t help. Molly suggested he should go down to his father’s for the summer in order (as she put it to me) that the glamour should have time to wear off. He went. For six weeks. Country house. Charming conventional wife. Three delightful little boys. Richard at home for week-ends, bringing business guests, etc. The local gentry. Molly’s prescription worked like a charm, Tommy announced that ‘week-ends were long enough’. She was delighted.