Come, my friends, tis not too late to seek a newer world
And that should have been that - but it wasn't. Arthur remained intermittently in Dhunjibhoy's employ till 1937, moving to Windsor as Dhunjibhoy's manager in 1929. But the years 1923-1929 are another black hole from which only a little light escapes. The principal source of enlightenment is a sort of journal scrap book consisting mainly of typed ‘annual’ summaries pasted into an old ledger. I refer to this source, therefore, as Dum's ‘8vo Annual’. What I find most striking is the extreme banality of most of the entries, so much so that I wonder why Dum bothered either to make a note of them in the first place or to keep them so long as he did. But it is just as well he did; for without this ‘8vo Annual’ there would be scarcely a peep out of Dum for some 6 years.
There was of course not much that Dum could do in 1923, short of returning to sea maybe; but even that option may have been closed to him on account of his age, loss of seniority, or the host of men demobbed from the navy looking for similar positions, not to mention the demands of his family. There was in general a surfeit of labour and shipping after the end of the First World War, leading to the scrapping of a great many ships including almost the whole of the world's sailing ships. Also in the making was the Great Depression. Whatever the causes, the effect was that Dum seems to have done very little.
In 1923 Dum was 44. He had more than a third of his life still before him - a certainty with hindsight but a reasonable assumption even then. And yet I have to admit that the remaining 32 years are pretty stultifyingly dull. They probably seemed so to Dum at the time! Certainly his descriptions of Christmas, to which a separate section is devoted later, give the impression that he found life consisted of the mere passing of time. Had things been otherwise he might not have decided to type up the Journal from his time aboard British Princess. Thus every cloud.
It is also quite tempting to draw a discrete veil over Dum's later years, to finish this account of his life on something of a high, but I think that would be false. It would also be something of a cop-out. Trying to make sense of Dum's life is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. In the first place it is an essentially pointless exercise; he lived; I have his papers; end of story. Or; you have a box with a picture on the lid; if you like the picture look at the box lid. What is the point of spending any time and wasting twenty-nine million brain cells in assembling the same but imperfect picture from 500 pieces of chopped up cardboard? But having embarked on a jigsaw, having found the four corners, completed most of the edge and done the main part of the picture showing, say, a sailing ship under topgallants and royals rounding the Horn, it would be defeatist to shovel the whole thing back in the box without completing all the dull background stuff - the leaden sky, the choppy seas and, above all, the rocks on the foreshore. What follows therefore are the leaden sky, choppy seas and rocky foreshore of what remained of Dum's life. Most of these little, inconsequential bits of jigsaw are culled from Dum's ‘8vo Annual’.
The entries in the ‘8vo Annual’ are odd. Those covering 1923-1937 are typed, thereafter they are handwritten till the last entry which was for January 1946. The typed entries are on pieces of paper which have been glued onto pages of an old ledger and consist of individual dated entries arranged by year which seem to have been written at one sitting. More often than not the typed pages have more than one year per pasted piece of paper. One picture being worth more than a thousand words above left is an image of the first pasted double page. The whole of 1923 is transcribed on the next web page. The 8vo Annual suggests that Dum was typing a fair copy from, say, small pocket diaries. If so I have none of the originals.
The book itself consists of an old 8vo cash ledger which I suspect
was originally intended to record Dum's property dealings; expenses,
rents etc. The tabbed, alphabetical index section at the beginning is
largely blank apart from this entry on the AB page;
32, Belsize Square. Lease of 88½ years from Michaelmas (Sept. 29th) 1863. On March 31st 1928 23¾ years unexpired lease.
Which takes us a bit ahead of ourselves, but indicates his purchase of the remnant of that lease. Standing in the window are Elsie and Doris, her daughter by her first marriage. Pages 1-60 are missing, pages 61-78 are blank, then the typed entries are pasted in beginning on page 79. [The pagination is double page as presumably the book was intended for ‘double entry’ book keeping. So from page numbers alone one might be mislead into thinking the ‘Annual’ was shorter than it in fact is.] The image above right shows the start of the hand written entries in 1937 by which time Dhunjibhoy had shuffled off his mortal coil and Dum was leaving The Willows in high dudgeon. Some of the pages are stuck together and have writing on but I have not yet been brave enough to steam them apart. The pasted on typed pages may well just be transcriptions of what lies beneath.