The following are
just a very few excerpts from a diary of Rosamond Leeds, who was born in
staying at a Burmese town called Kyaukse. Yesterday Mr Pennell deputy
commissioner of Kyaukse gave me a big fairy book called The Blue fairy book
because its Blue. We have been going to the club for the last two days to watch
or play tennis, on the last two days I picked up balls for tennis. Mr Pennell
thought I had better write a diary so I am doing so at once. I have come to
Kyaukse without my nurse Tessa so mother has to dress me and I have to fasten
her blouses. Tessa is left behind to look after our sweet cat Sir Thomas
Toodle, a blue persian from
September 12 Thursday
Mother has made up her mind to have no nurse after all, as they are more trouble than I am. This evening some people are going to play tennis and I am going to pick up balls. Soon after that Daddy, Mother were going to the club and I begged them to let me go, at first they would not but at last they let me come.
This evening Daddy and Mother and I went for a ride to the new polo ground which is very far away, to see the polo, then very tired we rode to the club where I had one small soda. It was very late when Daddy Mother and I very sleepy went home, on the way we met one of our servants coming to fetch us with a lantern.
This morning Daddy went by steamer to Pagan for the day and soon after eleven o’clock Mother and I got into a gharry and drove to the station, and the duriwan in very clean clothes rode in front to clear the way on a white pony with pink eyes and a very long tail. The roads were very bumpy and mother and I did nothing but knock each others heads. The train was a very long time starting because it had to wait for the station master of the next village, some dacoite or robbers had broken his head last night and he had come to Myragyan to have it bound up. Mother and I ate sausages
This morning I rode Brat my pony and Daddy walked first to Mrs Entrican where he took some photos off his camera of me on Brat and Mrs Entrican standing just by Brats head. The it was settled Mrs Entrican should come to tea this afternoon and tell Daddy a little of photographing as he can't remember what Mr Newcombe told him as it was sometime ago. Then he went to the race course where we intended to have a canter round but as soon as we got there we found there was some nasty prickly jumps here and there.
This morning our chokra and Mahli and another burman and mothers punkah man and Dad’s clerk brought a very very great lot of coloured tissue paper, white, purple and reddish brown yellow too and made two enormously big fire balloons. One was sent up in the morning after breakfast and the other in the evening at . When they were ready a thick stick with a tremendous lot of fire on it was put in through a big hole at the bottom of the balloon and waited till the fire fell off the stick about the balloon but how it didn’t set the whole balloon on fire I’m sure I don’t know. Both the balloons took a very long time in making. The first one went ever so high up and we all lost sight of it. But bad luck for us all and for our servants just when the balloon was going to be sent up a terrible nasty icy cold wind sprang up which we wanted rather badly in the morning. And the chokra who stood near the balloon and was trying to do something to it was always jumping away from it because he was awfully frightened in case it would burn his fingers off, At last everything was ready and it set off, but here comes the hard luck for us all, the wind was too much , it blew the balloon on to the other side of the tennis court and very nearly onto the grass but our servants ran after it and caught it by something but alas after all the hard work it took to make it at last all the tissue paper was burned and only the wire left. I forgot to say that as the first balloon was nearly out of sight we heard a faint noise and Dad asked the Mahli ,which in English means gardener, what it was, he said they had put some burmese crackers in the balloon and they caught fire and made a loud noise, but it seemed so faint so far away. In the evening balloon there were a awful lot of crackers which we saw when the balloon burned up it had a enormous amount of fire.
…Dad passed a little burman boy following his uncle or father, not his Grandfather I know because he was not at all old. As soon as the little boy saw Dad he began to cry and scream and yell and his father began to laugh as he beckoned the boy to come away laughing all the time but the boy didn’t care as he stood still and cryed. As soon as we had passed him Dad said he must have thought Dad was a Belu which means Devil. You see Dad looks so big on Baby as he is big and so is Baby the Horse. Later we saw a woman in a bullock cart just in front of us about a yard or more in front. Dad told her to get out of the way, but she was so long in doing so that the 2 bullocks who were terribly afraid of Dad ran away, broke something and flew into the jungle instead of going straight on in front. The burmese woman looked so cross she didn’t see the joke at all.
Daddy Mother and Ayah and I all went to
Mr Rigg and
Mother , Mr Gayer and Dad played bridge as the Gayers had got pack of cards.
This morning Ayah and I went either for a walk or played in the garden in a
tall haystack. In the evening Daddy Mother and I went to the arrival of the
Viceroy and Lady Minto. It was in the railway station. The people of
1907 December 8th Sunday
This morning I had GREAT fun . I thought I would go and see Baby and Bayleaf who are in the paddock. So I put on my topee and ran off to the paddock which is at the bottom of the garden. As I couldn’t see them so I opened the gate and went in, and at last I saw them but as they looked as if they were in water. I thought better coax them to come near with 2 lumps of sugar I had brought for them so I went nearer them and held up the sugar. Baby looked at it hard for a moment, then put her his head down and ate some grass till Bayleaf saw it then I turned round for the horses to walk up to the end of paddock where I would give them the sugar but instead of that I heard them both trotting after. Of course I wasn’t frightened of Bayleaf, he is so good, but I was dreadfully frightened of Baby, as you may imagine, he is so big. So I ran for my life till I got to the end of the paddock where I heard them stop, as I jumped through the railing. Safe at last I dropped for Baby to eat and then I dropped Bayleafs as he had such a dirty nose.. After Bayleaf ate grass contentedly enough but Baby couldn’t take his eyes off me if I went somewhere near the railings he would be sure to follow inside the railing. He let me pat his nose and pat him on top of his leg and his stomach too but only through the railings he never lets Ma or Dad pat his nose. As for Bayleaf he went all over the place but Baby kept near the railings for a long time.
In April 1908 we went to England and I forgot all about this diary and left it in Burmah ! and today when Tessa came and showed it to me, I can tell you I was surprised. The date is 1909 Nov 19th. On September 23 we left Cheltenham to Liverpool to get on board ship. "Leicestershire" was the name of the boat. On October 24th Sunday we arrived at Rangoon, such a relief, we were all rather tired of the voyage, we stayed at the "Minto Mansion". About three days later we went up to "Lagain". A very small and rather jungly place with about 9 English people in. I shall keep up my diary now so here goes.
Mother and I were looking out of the drawing room window, when we heard a noise like a steam engine, puffing and we saw the duriwan, and a few other servants with lights, the we shouted to Dad to ask what on earth was the beastly row, he said it was a snake, and 5 minutes after we saw a snake glide out of the hedge in a sort of loop and the Durwan who had just fetched a stick aimed a blow right at its head, and luckily for him, killed it.
My ninth birthday was spent at Kindat. The deputy commissioner held a dinner party for it.
On the night of 13th December 1909 there was a great fire, some burmans had burnt the court house down.
On 18th March 1911 Mum and I left for England, Dad and Helen saw us off from Amarpura. We stayed in Rangoon in the Royal Hotel for a few days before leaving. The boat was the Chindwin. At Liverpool we got a telegram saying that Mr Hudson was engaged to Helen and that Dad was leaving on May 20th
On September 23rd 1911 Geoffrey Hugh Anthony Leeds our baby was born! At least he wasn’t born that but he was christened later! I forgot to say Tessa came with us. She said she'd stay for 6 months but eventually stayed several years.
In July 1913 I won a scholarship at St Pauls
Saturday 7 March
Beastly wet day. Didn’t go out this morn except just to Auntie Nan’s. She and Pom arrived on Friday from Ceylon & came to tea then. Pom is 8 years old now. Today he left for school somewhere near Cheltenham. This noon we went to the cinematograph exhibition of Captains Scotts’ expedition. It was very good indeed. The penguins, dogs, ponies & seals were ripping- also iceberg. One of the party, called Ponting, explained it as the films were showing. We came back about 5.30 & had tea at home.
Had music lesson. Cooking – made a jam sandwich (not bread and jam kind !) When came home had hasty tea, then went with Dad to a dentist somewhere near Oxford circus. Had one second tooth out, have got to have another out on Wednesday. Went to Withers afterwards & changed violin case and bow. For a orange coloured wood case, instead of papier-mache , or "mashed paper" case. Dad gave me some champagne at dinner
Had Fiddle lesson. Miss Walem objected to the case and bow. As usual, because she hadn’t got them. I think I shall get an A week, have had 4A+’s and 3 A-‘s 1A !! Afternoon times have been changed, we now have play till 2.30, prep, then play at 4. I rather like this because I get a full ½ hr at 4. For my lesson does’nt come just before it, and take away some time from it. Played rounders
Got A week. Brilliant !!! Was exactly and precisely A having got A- for drawing. Music lesson, and singing. Learnt the St Patricks Hymn for tomorrow. Rather pretty; uncommon tune. Am going to be Daisy Garbetts’ bridesmaid in April. Also am going with family to Baddow to Miss Ethel Mac Vicars’ wedding. Topping.
We were going to have a river party to day, but it was cold and windy so we decided to go to a cinema with the Ellisons. This noon we went to the New Gallery. Then we had tea at the Criterion 1s a head teas and you eat what you like . Eclairs etc. Hot chocolate with cream. Ripping . Afterwards at home we had a handicap Ping Pong tournament. I won the prize !
Mum went to an At Home. Nothing happened.
All of us went to Battersea Park this morn. Rex boated in the lakes for about an hour. This eve we went to church with Mr Macfarlane. Awful sermon. The worst we’ve ever had. He went out just before the end of it. We went out before the last hymn.
(from Dartmouth where Rex was in college)
Dad drove us in a hired dog cart to Slapton ( about 6 miles off) We meant, but couldn’t get to, Torcross. We had tea which was fearfully expensive. 1/3 a head, for bread butter, jam, cream. It got colder and about 5 we started back. The harness was all put on wrong , & we had great trouble. The poor horse had walk a lot ( because of hills) We got back about 7.
Tuesday 28 June
Started about 2.10 for Speech day at school. I had to play after the squits had sung; the first piano solo! Felt beastly waiting, but Mum vowed I looked cool as a cucumber. For one awful moment I forgot a chord at the end of the piece! I just whirled inside, but remembered it after a slight, almost imperceptible pause! Bobbed and retired! Sang in ‘Scots Wha hae’, and ‘It was a maid of my country’, latter was ripping top-hole. Got 2 Honour certificates ! First time I have ever had honours. Buffie only got 1 hon and 1 pass!! Dad afterwards took us tickets for the Coliseum, Friday night. Jolly decent. I was fagged.
Dad and Mum went to dinner and theatre with Mr Lloyd. At least they were supposed to be going to the theatre but being on the Stock Exchange he said he was ruined by the war and could only just give them dinner !
Saturday August 1
About 11 Mum got a telegram from Rex saying that there was General mobilization, and that he as embarked on a ship. H.M.S Amphitrite. Jolly exciting !!
Mum told me
about last nights telegram. The paper was very exciting. Last night
Tuesday 4 August
The Banks were shut but ordinary shops were open. We shopped. Mum was in an awful hole because she was going to get money from the bank today. She and Dad have £3 between them to get down to St Ives with !Harrods and other shops wouldn’t cash a cheque, they were all in the same hole the said !! But we borrowed from the servants, and Coles the butcher promised to lend £3 , so we shall manage ! Mum and Dad are going to give Rex £2 or £3 when they see him tomorrow on H.M.S Amphitrite, the cruiser he is on! I began another pair of blue & white socks. In his letter yesterday Rex said that they were getting "middies" pay 1s9d a day, but wouldn’t be paid till the end of the war.
came for us at 9.30. Caught Cornish Riviera express at 10.30. Mum & Dad got
After breakfast I went down town to order a
Saturday 12 September
Mum and I shopped and went to Tudors and Harrods in hopes of getting me a winter jersey and coat but alas, in vain. We had lunch at 1 and were going to Roehampton after, but it turned out rainy and horrid, so Mum and I went to the Kings road cinema. It wasn’t bad, one film called "The unseen witness" was about the best. About 5 we went to Barbellions for tea, but it was shut, so we went to Scheberger, (which by the way has changed it’s name to Stewart because it said the Germanish name caused unpleasantness!!) and had tea there.
Saturday 10 October
I practised in the gym court a thing we did in gym yesterday, you press your shoulders against the ribstraws & kick your legs violently up so that you get like this! It was rather fun but I couldn’t quite do it.