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Harold Wilson's Appointments Diary for 1981

Harold Wilson's Appointments Diary for 1981 by WILSON, Harold (1981)

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Author: WILSON, Harold
Title: Harold Wilson's Appointments Diary
Year: 1981
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: London and Dartington Hall
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
Price: £1500
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Former Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson's appointments diary presented to him by 'The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd'. Worn-smooth black leather from being carried in a pocket; Wilson's name in gilt on the upper cover surmounted by the year and a Liverpool liver bird. One page per week with entries in Wilson's neat small handwriting on every page, regular crossings-out and emendations. The diary reveals the busy professional and social schedule of a former Prime Minister, then in his mid-sixties, but still very much in demand and engaged politically and personally on multiple fronts.

The diary details Wilson's frequent interviews and media appearances - the years 1981 into 1982 were a period of economic discontent that preceded the Falklands War with Wilson clearly pleased to comment on Margaret Thatcher's woes: '12.30 Liverpool (Granada Studio)' and '1.0 Daily Express: Savoy Grill'. His diary reveals that Wilson was constantly in touch with Labour colleagues but just one note acknowledges the turbulence within his own party: 'Militant Tend[ency] Conspiracy - vs Democracy/ Mafia'.

As a former Prime Minister the week of the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana was entirely blocked out in Wilson's diary, beginning with '10.15 Reception: Buckingham Palace' on Monday and the wedding itself on Wednesday 29 July - Mary Wilson records this slightly differently as '10.15 Reception Buck House' and 'St Paul's Wedding' (see her 1981 diary below). The couple followed the royal wedding with three very quiet recuperative weeks in the Scilly islands, just an occasional visitor and event recorded.

The first few months of 1981 saw Wilson undertake a punishing schedule of meetings, dinner and ceremonial events. A typical evening such as 14 January saw Wilson move from '6.30 Soviet Embassy' to 'Dinner Mr Foyn, Ogden's: London'. March 19 gives a sense of the variety of Wilson's post- Prime Ministerial existence: '10.30 PPA. Awards + lunch [?] 11.0 R Segall (Indianapolis) re Prime Ministers dinner on 7 May. 6.30-8.0 Paul Channon: Ministry of Arts.' The following day involved a trip to Birmingham to give a speech and ended at 'Jesus C. Oxford. Black Tie'.

Scattered through the year were regular trips revisiting Wilson's university ties in Oxford including 'Exeter College: Study of Parlt. Group' and 'Oxford: M's birthday' (Sat/ Sun 10, 11 January - Mary's diary, below, reveals that they stayed at the Randolph Hotel and lists the outfits that she wore). Across the year Harold Wilson's dinner companions included the Labour lawyer and fixer Lord Goodman, the publisher George Weidenfeld and even 'Harry Secombe Book Launch' though the FA cup was clearly sacrosanct as nothing else was allowed to intrude on the single entry for 9 May: 'Cup Final'. In late September Wilson flew out to America where he details a lecture tour that took him through Texas and Nebraska, Ohio and Kansas. Wilson records the date when the 'House Returns' after the parliamentary recess but he himself was in Monte Carlo at the time, though he was back in his old school 'Wirral Grammar School' at the end of that week.

Evidently the former Prime Minister was working on his memoirs during 1981 with his schedule for payments laid out in the forward planning section at the back of his diary: 'Autobiography (40,000) £8000 on sig[ning] £8000 on 1 July: say 50,000 wds. £8000 on 31 Dec. 1981...' The book was actually published in 1986.
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