Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday March 19th 1932

Had a bath and walked to Bradgate Park. Bully beef sandwiches and a flask of tea. Anstey, Newtown Linford. Into the Park just at twilight. Tea on a bridge near the Lady Lane Gray ruins. Then up to Old John. Silence. Distant lights. Thought of the past. Walked through the wood to the War Memorial. A slight breeze from the south.

Vigil. Quiet. Prayer. Remembrance. Back to Old John. Thought of the future, then started back down. Nearly lost my way in the dark, until I saw the Gray ruins and so reached the road. Home llpm. Six hours journey.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Friday March 18th 1932

Woke up 7.50. Got to work 8. 5am. What a rush.

About this time, I had the idea to keep a vigil each year on the nineteenth of March, to sort of dedicate myself to certain decencies, and to an adventurous spirit; to consider the past and reflect upon the present, and wonder about the future. An odd idea really ! Don't know where I had the idea in the first place. Some physical effort was entailed. It meant walking to a lonely place at night, at some distance. Anyhow, I did this again in 1933, walking out from Lincoln to Sudbrook, and again in 1934, walking out from Egham to Chobham. I think the custom declined after this. Maybe I had grown‑up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday March 11th 1932

I confided to Jack that I had found the ghost. Did not say what it was but said I had tied a string around it. The night's expedition was spoilt. Jack Garratt brought along Frank Timson, a vulgar buffoon. It was hard to get a creepy atmosphere. As there was no moonlight, Barry did not recognise the crouching man or the gleaming stump. Whilst we all stood there I guided Jack's fingers on to the string around the stump and he smiled secretly. Barry nervous and we were all startled by two dark figures approaching through the wood. Even Barry however, when they got nearer, had to admit that they were live men and not ghosts. On the way back to the lights of the town, Barry staged a fit of terror and did it very well.

Thursday March 10th 1932

Went alone to the haunted wood tonight (I was afraid that I might really see something scary and might show fear in front of the trusting Barry tomorrow). It was quiet and moonlight.

First I found the crouching man. It was a tree stump. Went more deeply in to the dark wood. Saw the white shape. Looked pretty ghostly and it did seem to move to and fro.. It was the stump of a tree with the bark stripped off and it seemed to move as the slight breeze stirred the moonlit leaves of the trees. I tied a piece of string around it to remind me. Walk took about 100
minutes. Barry questioned me after Lights Out, so I hinted that I had seen something terrible. Shall say no more as I do not want to spoil tomorrow night's expedition.

Sunday March 6th 1932

Barry came home about 10.30 and told me he had seen a ghost. This was in the dark of our bedroom, after he had switched off the light by pulling the string (as usual). We then both hummed 'Lights Out' (as usual). He had been with his girl, Lucy in a wood in Cut‑Throat Lane, where a murder had once happened. It was twilight; first they saw a man crouching behind a tree. Then a white shape, moving to and fro. They ran straight into and through a hedge. Lucy nearly fainted. 'I'll never go there again, never,' said Barry dramatically. 'We'll both go at the
weekend,' I said. 'In that case, I will go, with you' said Barry, because you are fearless'.

Monday February 15th 1932

"My finances; Midland Bank 19/-, Tea Club 8/9, Savings Bank 1/6, Cash in hand 7/1/2d, Total £1-16-31/2"

At about this time I was secretly in love with a Lady Cubmaster named Amy, usually referred to as "She" in the diaries. We met fairly regularly through scouting matters, conferences and training courses. I don't know if she ever returned my affection as I never showed my feelings! Probably not; she was older than me, really grown up.

Now, in 1993, it is so difficult to write that I shall continue the transcription on the type writer.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sunday February 7th 1932

Went for a walk with Mr Wood, Bim, Bunty and Barry. Across fields to Newtown Linford and Bradgate Park. Lunches in the Park. Back via Anstey. Pace fairly fast. Barry lagged and grumbled. He nearly had a fight with a young man who happened to be sitting on a stile with his girl.

2002 Comment -

What actually happened was that we all climbed over the stile easily but Barry turned and shouted, "Why don't you do your courting on the bloody tramlines?" We walked on and then Mr Wood said "Hem! (he always cleared his throat before a pronouncement) "That was rather unwise Barry."

About two miles further on, in the outskirts of the city, the young man suddenly appeared, seized Barry by the arm and snarled "how dare you speak to me like that in front of my girl?" Barry turned green with fright. "You're going to get a beating!" said the young man.

Mr Young took in the situation at a glance, "take this," he said, passing me the dog lead. He went back and took over the quarrel, "Barry was very rude. He is going to apologise. Barry! Apologise!" "Sorry," muttered the trembling Barry. "There", said Mr Wood with a terrible calmness, "you have had your apology. Now you may go."

"Who says so?" demanded the still angry young man. "I do!" said Mr Wood, and his look scared me, although I only caught it sideways. A pause, then the young man, cowed, muttered, "yeah, well, in that case... I suppose it's alright" and shuffled back on his two mile return journey.

An amusing exhibition of power. In these days, would one call it high "street cred"?

Thursday December 10th 1931

In the sitting room at Mrs Woods. A warm fireside. Finished reading "The Old Tree Blossomed" by Ernest Raymond. As I read the last sad pages, I heard a gentle dance tune from the nearby wireless, "..close your eyes and leave the world behind you..."

Work at the B.U. (I clocked in as clerk no. 1123!) - was boring and unrewarding.

2002 Comment -

At the B.U. there are always plenty of jokes to take part in and see. There has to be plenty of fun. If it were otherwise, the dull drudgery of the desks would overwhelm us and we should decay or go mad. The jokes just keep us hopeful and cheery.

Barry Spiro now shared my room at No. 4. He was half Dutch, half Jewish, and had one green eye and one brown eye. He was a trainee at Marks & Spencers.