The Red Notebook
[Here were gummed in several sheets of ordinary lined writing paper torn off a blue writing pad, written over in a very neat tidy handwriting.]
When Comrade Ted knew that he had been chosen to go on the teachers’ delegation to the Soviet Union he felt very proud. At first he could not believe it. He did not feel worthy of such a great honour. But he wasn’t going to miss this chance of going to the first Workers’ country! At last the great day came when with the other Comrades he assembled at the airport. There were three teachers on the delegation who were not Party members, and fine chaps they turned out to be too! Ted found the air trip over Europe delightful — his excitement mounted every minute and when he at last found himself in a very expensively appointed bedroom in the hotel in Moscow he was almost beside himself with excitement! It was nearly midnight when the delegation arrived, so the first thrill of seeing a Communist country must wait until the morning! Comrade Ted was seated at the big table — large enough to seat a dozen people at least! — that was provided for him in his bedroom, writing up his notes for the day, for he was determined to keep a record of every precious moment — when there was a knock on the door. He said: ‘Please come in,’ expecting to see one of the Comrades from the delegation, but there were two young chaps wearing cloth caps and workers’ boots. One of them said: ‘Comrade, please come with us.’ They had open simple faces, and I did not ask where they were taking me. (I must confess to my shame, that I had one bad half-moment, remembering all the stories we had read in the capitalist press — we are all infected by this poison despite ourselves!) I went down in the lift with my two friendly guides. The woman at the reception desk smiled at me and greeted my two new friends. There was a black car waiting. We got into it and sat side by side without speaking. Almost immediately in front of us were the towers of the Kremlin. So it was a short drive. We went through the big gates and the car pulled up outside a discreet side door. My two friends got out of the car, and opened the door for me. They smiled: ‘Come with us, Comrade.’ We went up a magnificent marble staircase with works of art on every side and then into a small side corridor that was plain and simple. We stopped outside an ordinary door, a door like any other. One of my guides knocked. A gruff voice said: ‘Come in.’ Again the two young chaps smiled at me, and nodded. They went off down the passage arm in arm. I went into the room greatly daring, but somehow I knew what I would see. Comrade Stalin sat behind an ordinary desk, that showed much signs of hard use, smoking a pipe, in his shirt-sleeves. ‘Come in, Comrade and sit down,’ he said, in a kindly way. I felt at ease, and sat down, looking at the honest kindly face and the twinkling eyes. ‘Thank you. Comrade,’ I said, sitting opposite to him. There was a short silence, while he smiled and examined me. Then he said: ‘Comrade, you must forgive me for disturbing you so late at night …’ ‘Oh,’ I interrupted eagerly, ‘but the whole world knows you are a late worker.’ He passed his rough worker’s hand across his brow.