Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday 24th September 1933

A showery, sunny day but very certainly autumnal.

Morning: an hour on the Thames. Rowed down to Staines and back again. A beautiful boat but it needed someone at the tiller.

Afternoon: A lovely walk, in really unknown country. Original intention was to climb Egham Hill, to see the view beyond. There was no view. Just trees all round, dripping with rain. Walked through to Virginia Water in Windsor Great Park. Silent lake, surrounded by trees. Too many trees, too many people. Not enough space, not enough friends.

By roads with traffic through Cheapside to Ascot. I wanted a pretty village with fields around – and space. I found only trees and detached residences. Could not even find a tea shop. Sunninghill. Sunningdale. Perhaps I should have been happy during ths long lonely walk but I never was. Only once, as I passed a large modern church, did I get a glimpse of peace. They were singing a famous hymn – was it “We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land….”? Human voices ringing together.

Returning on the bus I saw a pretty roadside hut marked “Teas with Horice”. So someday I will have tea there and then go to the modern church in the residential suburban-like village of Sunningdale. The country I have seen today was pretty – but I want to be in beautiful lands, where there is space, air, openness, width. I cannot express what there is about Lincolnshire that I cannot find here. Perhaps the difference between a pretty girl and a beautiful woman.

To think! This day a year ago I was a clerk at the British United and probably thinking I was there for ever! What a year of changes it has been! Something like a deep, softly flowing river. Here and there is a sudden twist, a waterfall or a patch of rocks and shells. Past the rough water, the river continues smoothly. The rocks and rapids have been passed but they may be more ahead. My soul (or whatever) is restless. Thank heavens I have this diary to write in, for the mere recording of my feelings is soothing.

Saturday 23rd September 1933

Received many letters today – I forget how many. Akel’s was the best; enclosing 2 photos (one of himself). “Thank you for your sweet letter, quite hurts to read the last part, of our “last Sunday”. Like ships in the night, we pass by…may God always help you with your work…” “Look wide”, and “Good luck to you”.

And Jack, too, his letter full of the Ullesthorpe Reunion. A letter now forwarded from Daventry Grammer School – Mr. Lake Bsc. – my most unpopular master and founder of the Old Daventrians Society. Went to Staines in the afternoon. It rained miserably. I sat indoors reading a good deal. Smoked many cigarettes. Still feel lonely. No friends.

Friday 22nd September 1933

Good digs, these. Don’t seem to be grudging. Kind. Good food and plenty. Have a good appetite nowadays – from the gum maybe. Had seven cups of tea to drink at tea time. I read during these meals. Perhaps I shall not join the local Scouts. Class. Must be a snob. No snobbishness in Scouting. It is pleasant to be treated as one of a different class though, by the men. Lonely here. No friends. All right at work, though.

Thursday 21st September 1933

Rainy day. Ladling boiling gum at the works, under a shelter. All the reek around the unlucky chap with the ladle. Choking. Eyes and nose and throat smart. Same with everyone. They say it is good for you, like a dose of snuff. I am learning things at Paripan.

Time for a bit of thought. I am in my bedroom: one window is wide open and I can hear an intermittent roar of traffic (we are beside the London main road). It is dark outside. This is a detached house with trees around. I have just returned from the local cinema – “Forty Second Street.”

Sunset 1933

J.S. Dawson, “Magna Charta”, Egham, Surrey

“And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by…”

Wednesday 20th September 1933

I was awakened by rain, splashing through the open window, then at 9 o’clock a cup of tea was brought me, in bed. Went to Paripan’s works which were quite close, along a country road. Saw Mr. Val Randall – the son of the director. Little white lies. I am 19, left school 18 months ago and have never been to work before.

(1982: And so began for me the equivalent of the years of college. Learning, discovering, always hard up, without any responsibility. Good, never-to-be-lived-again years. “Those were the days my friend. We thought they’d never end”)

He took me round the shop.

(2005: I realise now that a trip around the works was a symbolic gesture. Being conducted around by the Works Manager showed that this was not an ordinary new employee, but an executive member in training. Status also proved false by gents natty suit and bowler hat).

Fresh smell of paint in most places. Wages £1 Almost a garden factory. Suit of overalls. Introduced to my foreman. Went home for lunch. Neared the factory again feeling scared. I need not have worried; everyone was most decent. Started work, self conscious in my brown overalls, at the Making Shop. Boiling oil. Ellis the tough, kindly foreman. I shall probably spend about a year in this shop, as it is important, being the first process. Respect and Authority. Hands on my hips, wondering what to do next. “Pull that switch across, Mr. Dawson”. Ladling out hot oil at 550 degrees F “If it splashes, it will mark you!.”

Tuesday 19th September 1933

I shared my room with an ASM from Bristol. Was awakened by the sound of a cart clattering over cobblestones; shortly afterwards (7.30) came the rising bell’s clang. All assembled in the cellar chapel for brief but sincere prayers followed by breakfast in a picturesque old room. Left early. Tube to Strand, then took a walk along the Thames (mighty river). Saw my first naval vessel (I think) – HMS President, RNVR. Perhaps I will join the RNVR someday – who knows? (I did).

The Roman’s Club for lunch, where I was introduced to Mr. Randall, the Managing Director of Paripan Ltd. Yes I could have a job. So casual! Astounding! I begin at the works on Thursday, - Egham, Surrey.

By 5.45 I was left alone in London. Southern Railway to Egham (a pretty town about 20 miles out). Arrived at dusk. Soon found digs for the night – a big old house called Magna Charta. Kind people in this town. Walked to the P.O. (smoking cigarette), then had supper in my sitting room. I feel wealthy (having 35/-) and think I look it. Anyhow, people call me “Sir” and seem to respect me. A vow: I will try to be one of the upper class. Damn poverty!

(1982 Metamorphosis! A few weeks from the Means Test! These comments make me cringe now but the newly acquired snobbery was a necessary armour and disguise then, perhaps).

Monday 18th September 1933

Up early with Marjorie and Mum. The train to London, rolling forward at first, then, further south, racing; hurtling across points. Metropolis. Cosmopolitan Metropolis. Something fascinating and thrilling about it. Strand Palace Hotel where they had booked. I have not yet had the main interview but – the job is a cert!

By bus to Buckingham Palace Road and Scout HQ. Arranged to sleep at Rowland House. Had tea at Dickens Café (three other guests in a large room underground). Dinner at the Strand (Grand Hotel or Imperial Palace). Then the theatre. Charming and delightful musical play – “Music on the Air”. Colourful.

After 11 o’clock. Down mysterious, confusing tunnels to the Tube. Moving staircases. Tunnel. The smell in the air. Changed at Charing Cross. Simple. Stepney Green Station. I search for the hostel. Number 29. I climbed over gate and rang bell furiously. Door opened. Charming lady in night attire informed me wrong house and wrong road. Roland House, swiftly upstairs and to bed. Now to sleep.

Sunday 17th September 1933

Charming day – it was unexpected! Nothing to do so visited Akel after breakfast. We would have a day out! Changed into uniform, packed food, away by car along the coast road. Sunny day. Still no rain. Chapel-St.-Leonards. The sea.

(1982: Long, long years and events later, I was to come many times to Chapel-St.-Leonards with my dear wife and daughter.)

About eight years since I was here; When I was about 10 years old I walked from Sutton-on-Sea and back, a lone adventure. The tide coming in. We had lunch in the sand hills, then walked to Anderby Creek. There were no signs of habitation, last time I passed Anderby. Scrounged costumes and had a swim in the sea. Shallow a long way out. Light tea at a café just behind the sand hills. Walked back at the edge of the waves. Turn of tide.

Home through Alford, Horncastle. Pretty villages, quaint church with lights inside, winding roads in the half light. The main road. Traffic. Traffic. Home; packing and preparing. Now I am going to put this book in my travel case. I go to London by the 7.30 tomorrow.

(1982: The last day as a Lincolnshire man. It was nice of Akel to share that day with me).

Saturday 16th September 1933

Letter arrived from Bradford, enclosing gloves for my interview. I must go on Monday! And take my kit, ready to settle in London if I get the job! This all seems so easy. Makes me a bit doubtful. Marjorie and my Mother are going too. Pity. I would rather it were a solo adventure. Perhaps this is my last week as a Lincoln resident. Thrilling thought! I hope it is – and no wonder! I am in bed – smoking and reading ghost stories. This time last year we were taking a bedtimes stroll at Ullesthorpe.

(2005 The foregoing about the mysterious trip to Bradford needs some elucidation! Which is not in my original journal. Marjorie was my half sister, although I did not know this until my Father died some years later. Marjorie lived at Thornton Hall near Bradford, with her husband, Ted Sugden.

Now here is a convoluted chain of circumstances: Ted Sugden was a partner in a firm of London Solicitors of Harrison and Sugden. At Egham in Surrey was an old established firm of paint manufacturers, Paripan Ltd. A few years earlier the Company had been involved in a dangerous lawsuit, which if lost might have ruined the firm. Harrison and Sugden fought the case using the well known barrister Sir Patrick Hastings, because of their success it made me see that Paripan “owed a favour” to Harrison and Sugden. It seemed that employing me as an industrial student must have been that favour. It was all honestly deceptive, I had never been a butter beater or office boy or railway clerk. Nor had I ever been on the dole. Instead I was vaguely assumed to be a public schoolboy. A year younger than my real age who had drifted about after leaving School. “Doing a bit of writing.” In short, I was to move up into the Upper Middle Class (pronounced Clarse). This deception worked and I was with this firm for 30 happy years.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Friday 15th September 1933

Wrote to Jack. Told him I could not get to Ullesthorpe Reunion, dashed unfortunate but it cannot be helped. Nothing important happened today. I wait. Quote as above.

If I were to write poetry at the end in the same way I should write of the neglected opportunity, because I discovered that saying to be true.

Thursday 14th September 1933

Received new programmes from the H.F. Club. I am down as leader for a ramble to Barlings in January. Fine; I will take them to Kathleens for tea – IF I am here then. Helped Akel check Troop Kit at HQ in the evening.

The Troop is like a ship in the doldrums. Glorious camp is past and the route of Troop Parade has not yet begun.

(“Four things come not back to man or woman: the sped arrow, the spoken word, the past life, the neglected opportunity.” I always put the front piece in these books according to my feelings of the moment.)

Wednesday 13th September 1933

To Market Rasen by car, thence by bus to Lincoln (wearing bowler!) It is raining just a little! The long drought shows signs of coming to an end.

One picture of our journey, we sat drinking tea in a pretty roadside garden on the Nottinghamshire border. Leaves cascading down from the trees…flying leaves everywhere…rustling…sighing… It is autumn. The summer is dying gently, very peacefully, like an old, tired man.

Tuesday 12th September 1933

Have now got a bowler hat as part of my equipment! And a posh suit and even suspenders for my socks. And my bottom waistcoat button is to be left undone. I feel like Farol;s “Barnabus” in “The Amateur Gentleman”.

Wrote to Daventry trying to get hold of a school tie. Should have written to the Labour Exchange to apologise for my absence from the queue today; but I forgot – somehow the queue seems unimportant.

(1982 I never returned to the Lincoln Exchange. Perhaps they still have my “cards” in some dusty cupboard!)

Monday 11th September 1933

The train to Bradford is running alongside the Foss. Yesterday by water for pleasure; today by rail for – a chance. I do not know how much I shall record of the next few days, for I rarely mention matters of the family here. This will be partly an adventure, partly a family affair.

Changed at Retford into the fast train. Changed coaches at Doncaster. All 3rd carriages full, so we travelled first class. Wakefield about 11a.m. Big, smoky city with dark clouds overhanging. Cannot see many fields. The train rolls from one dingy town to another, with little gaps in between. Yorkshire must be very thickly populated. At Thornton Hall, near Bradford. It would be a wonderful job if – I have to become a public school type to get it, must wear a soft felt hat, gloves and a stiff collar. Also smoke; have had one cigarette to get in training.

Sunday 10th September 1933

What time we had breakfast I do not know. Were we camping on private ground? Did not wait to see, but got away to Torksey, arriving there at 11a.m. Turned back into the wind. Sunny. I am sitting in the prow, writing. Grannie is rowing now and it is my trick next. Plop! Swish! Ripple! The boat is going straight towards the sun. Later. Dinner as the boat rippled onwards into the wind. Grannie’s log often showed the entry – “heavy going…wind dead ahead…water choppy.”

Through Saxilby, fighting the wind by double tricks – two rowing at a time. Tea sitting on the railway bank near Odder. Pyewipe. The motor yacht Sonata offered us a tow and we took it. Proud ending! Speeding down into Brayford, taut tow-rope, white vessel ahead, water racing about, I happy at the tiller, keeping us straight while the others rested – Nutty crouched on the prow.

Saturday 9th September 1933

River weekend! Grannie, Dickie, Nutty and I. Arranged watches thus: Rowing, off, steering, off. Once by the Odder, we began to feel like explorers. Saxilby. Called at the shop here. Drivsey Nook. Tea by the waterside.

Camp site on some waste land (?), handed the kit, then Nutty and I rowed, in search of water while the other two pitched camp. Dusk. No sign of habitation. A light! A house at Torksey Locks gave us water. Carefully steered between silent boats, using my flash. Back to camp. Put the boat in a convenient dyke. So then to bed. Warm night.

Friday 8th September 1933

River afternoon in the dinghy. Went as far as Odder. Returning I rowed back to Pyewipe without being tired – feathering all the way. And I only learned to row in July. Good progress.

This weekend – Torksey! At home I found a telegram from cousin Marjorie – “Send Stephen Thornton Monday Urgent Writing!” What is it? Can it be?

(2005 This was the beginning of a plan by my family to get me a proper job. Did they know of my resolution to join the Army, 19th September? Marjorie of course was my half sister but I did not know this at the time.)

Still the days are hot; but it is becoming colder at night. What a wonderful summer!

Thursday 7th September 1933

Dickie lost his log on the return journey, so must do his hike all over again. Silly ass! Laurie failed on the Bardney route, I expect they will go together. To think that awhile since I was tired of Scouting! I do not think I can ever leave, altogether. It has become so much a part of me. As some great man says, Scouting soon grows to be more than a game and becomes - an attitude towards life.

(2005 - But I did and very soon)

It is about 11.35p.m. In my quiet bedroom, I am going to read old diaries before falling asleep.

Wednesday 6th September 1933

Up 8a.m. after a good night – the tents faced east. My 30th camp. Walked in the dew, hasty breakfast, cleared site and off by 10 o’clock. Sun hot already.

Wasted much time in Nacton, trying to discover about the church bells and the late squire. Dunston (Vicar with sun helmet), Metheringham. Dinner by a wayside pump. Spring water. There is a drought on the country, caused by the long dry spell and many districts in Lincolnshire are suffering from the scarcity of water. All the villages around Metheringham however, are plentifully supplied by these springs, which have never failed. Helped the driver of a steam roller fill his boiler with this water. Drank and washed, too, at the pump. Reached Blankney soon after and reported to Mrs. Kinnington the lady Scoutmaster. Sat in the garden and she rather cross-examined me. I was wearing my Rover Badges but feared she might discover my real rank (ASM), all well though.

On to Scopwick. An old Scout driving a lorry offered us a lift. Digby Aerodrome. Here Dickie finished his log, the “Journey” being over. Wrecked aeroplanes. The desolate landing ground. Fields to a farm-house where we had a pot of tea and finished off our food (I have been on hike rations). Bridle path, road, then fields again, around Blankney Park. Straight cross-country, with Metheringham Mill always on our right. The main road by nightfall. Dunston Station and an hour before the ‘bus came. We made ourselves cosy on the station. Nutty mistakenly stopped a lorry. The driver brought us back to Lincoln in the back. Tearing into the night. The silvery moon – jolt! – rush of wind. Happy ending to a journey.

Tuesday 5th September 1933

Stonebow 2.30. Met Dickie and Nutty for First Class Journey. Trudged up Cross-a- Cliff Hill under a blazing sun. Afternoon wove on. Frequent halts for Dickie’s log; I helped him a good deal. Through flat, uninteresting country towards Nocton. RAF Wireless Station and our deductions re. the married quarters. “Nocton 3/4 mile”.

The cutting under the railway. Dusk. Night. The village. Our camp site, along a light railway. Pitched tents in the clear moonlight at 9p.m. 10 o’clock struck as we finished supper, sitting by the fire.

Monday 4th September 1933

Sultry. Afternoon boating with Dickie Wish. Up Foss as usual, in the dinghy. Secret of good steering seems to be this: look far away, not at the bows of the boat, but right ahead. A good steersman has that “distant” look in his eyes – and the boat goes straight forward. Before returning, we went under High Bridge to Stamp End locks – if we could get passed those locks!

Sunday 3rd September 1933

Took Cub Dawson and Scout Dawson with me to Sudbrooke. Plenty of work to do. Cleared the site, made inventory of the kit, struck the tents. Sudbrooke standing camp is now past, though we may go again at weekends. Akel and I walked to Sudbrooke village, to give a small gift to the vicar, who is leaving. Left it in his car; a picture entitled “The Pathfinder”.

I realise that neglected opportunity now and have made a vow to myself. Not to let an opportunity pass again. I will remember August 23rd, my gloomy thoughts of August 27th and 29th. Also, September 2nd. Ah!…. Let me write again so that I shall not forget! “Four things come not back to man or woman: the sped arrow, the spoken word, the past life, the neglected opportunity.”

Saturday 2nd September 1933

Walked to Sudbrooke. Nutty slept there alone last night. A hot day. Dozed in a deck chair and at last finished “Rookery Nook”. New form of pleasure at Sudbrooke – a dreamy one. I punted Wolf around the deeps and channels with Nutty sitting in a deckchair, operating the old gramophone. Quite adept with a punt pole now. Delightful. At sunset I came home on Dickie’s cycle, leaving it at his house. First Class Journey with him next week.

There are some wise words:-

“Four things come not back to man or woman: the sped arrow, the spoken word, the past life, the neglected opportunity”. Yes, neglected opportunity. I think of the bridge over the old lily pond, where there is wild mint and forget-me-nots. “Four things come not back….”

Friday 1st September 1933

Cannot camp this weekend; have to stay at home. Shall go to Sudbrooke for days instead. Today, dreamed, dozed and soaked in music – and waited. “…If you can wait and not be tired by waiting …”

Thursday 31st August 1933

Need I describe all the little irritating things which are typical of an out-of-work’s day on the city. August 31st. Tomorrow is September.

Wednesday 30th August 1933

All went for water and en route explored the ruined cellars. Entered one by one. Through the heaps of brick by the light of a very feeble torch. Afterwards to Mystery Tower (scene of our nocturnal escapade). Practical entombment by lowering a huge wooden trapdoor. Before tea a stroll around with Akel. Long crawl through an underground tunnel. Packed my kit. The 8.35 ‘bus to Lincoln.

(Note: 1982 - There was to be more camping and boating, but this departure by the 8.35 ‘bus was the end of the last idyllic summer of my boyhood.)

They escorted me to the road; “Heil Hitler!” as the bus started. Back home again now.

Tuesday 29th August 1933

Rushed from bed to Lincoln and the Exchange – no time for breakfast. Feeling is more hopeful now – the situation does not look so desperate. A black mood came on me however and stayed until supper – at a blazing log fire, with Dickie Wish operating the gramophone. Filled in my ASM warrant form. Sitting beside a smouldering fire; sultry air; stormy sky; strange, ruddy light all around. This is my last week of dole. Shall I be able to camp next weekend? Today is gone. Tomorrow remains. I and my notes with a happy thought. Just after my arrival home, a black kitten came in and would not go. Black for luck.

Monday 28th August 1933

A really hot day. This is the last heat wave of summer. I expect. We are gradually closing parts of the camp down and striking tents; only the Lion’s camp remains now and there are five boys here. Everything is drying up. We found several eels struggling for life in a tiny pool near the old dam we built last winter. A dam is not needed now – the bed is quite dry. We are going to feed the pool with buckets of water and hope some of the fish may live.

An evening expedition with Akel and others, through the Park. Later, went to the main road near Langworth and stopped the fish and chip van. Sat outside a pub and ate them. Before going to bed I had quiet a row in the cockleshell. Getting quite fast; Witching Tree to breeches buoy, 2 mins. 23 secs. Went to Landworth by car this morning. The milkman kindly gave me a lift both ways.

Sunday 27th August 1933

An ordinary day, happy day. Oh, If I could have just another week before…! So many things still to do! So many words still to be said! So many schemes waiting to hatch! Just another week! But it is almost impossible. A swim today – first for a long time. We also swam across the lake to the Coffin, via the Channel. Beautiful weather. What shall I do? What games shall we play tomorrow? What is going to happen to me next week?

Saturday 26th August 1933

Another day is gone. Good training. Afternoon. In a boat under Witching Tree with the gramophone. Dick and Dickie joined me and we dreamed together. Akel is camping tonight. For a long time we sat around the supper fire – until it was a heap of red embers. Auto-Suggestion. (Self Mesmerism.)

“Come when it may the storm decree
For me to leave the cheering throng.
And quit the sturdy company
Of brothers that I work among.
No need for me to look askance,
Since no regret my prospect mars,
My day was happy – and perchance
The coming night is full of stars.”

Friday 25th August 1933

Noon: I am in a boat in Conclusion Creek at our Sudbrooke. Conclusion Creek. The sun shines and it is warm, for the cold wind of the previous days has changed.

I was awakened by my alarm clock this morning at 7.30. Had brekker, cycled to Lincoln, changed into ordinary clothes. Went in a door marked “Applicants for Transitional Payments” Dingy room. Silent men sitting in rows, waiting. I was the thirteenth. Summoned into the inner room. Questions. Questions. Kindly official. I refused to finish all the questions. Could not. Means Test is now over. I shall draw a little dole next week; then nothing. Think I shall stay here until Wednesday; money will last till then. Afterwards – what?

Tramp, tramp, tramp. It’s coming louder again. Evening: Crossed to Windy Creek in the boats, moved them there and walked through the woods to Langworth. Fish and chip shop. Only six of us this time. As we waited, Akel came! He had tracked us from camp. So we all sat down and had a hot supper. Left Akel on the road, got a storm lantern from camp and came to the boats along Twelve Match Path. Back over the lake. Skilled pilotage is needed to find the channels, as the lake is becoming so shallow.

Thursday 24th August 1933

Morning: Langworth, gave Kathleen a photo of us with the chassis. She often smiles – blue eyes.

Afternoon: Lincoln, Labour Exchange. Red tape, still have to return for dole, tomorrow. Found a note waiting for me at home, Lincoln postmark. I knew what it was and opened it in my bedroom. “….Your application for Transitional Benefit…call at this office on Friday August 25 at 9.15 o’clock….” The Means Test. Tomorrow. It has taken me by surprise. I have written this on the lake between Pike Pools and Isle of Feathers. The boat is still, in the shallows. The water is almost still. It is twilight. Oh God, why cannot this go on for ever and ever.

Later: concluded the day by a lone night expedition to the ruins. Went into the cellars. Candlelight. Underground. Afraid. If the roof should fall in! In some places there was only 2 feet of space between floor and ceiling. The cellars were full of old bricks. I was glad to reach the clear open air again. Went to the old lily pond, too, and stayed on the bridge awhile. Not afraid there. Now. Tomorrow…

Wednesday 23rd August 1933

Awakened by sheep again. They went, I slept. The milkman came; I paid him and began to read in bed. Letters came but I still remained cosily wrapped up. Finally rose about 11.

Dinner at 12 o’clock. Peggy came. She tried to sketch the Temple (and I climbed to it’s roof). Walked to Windy Creek and found Lion stranded there. We managed to embark and I punted back to camp in the teeth of a strong wind. Felt we were being watched. I was right, the boys were stalking us.

Tea, then a stroll. Akel, Matron, Peggy and I. Temple Walk and the ruins. Our following shadows. Peggy and myself went to the old lily pond and it’s quaint bridge. Fate seems to deal me wrong cards. Evening, boating around the lake. Yes, the shadows are surely lengthening. Tears are in my eyes as I write. The sunsets pretty, isn’t it? Five in camp tonight. They wanted an expedition, but I refused.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tuesday 22nd August 1933

Another river day. Home by bus. Hastily packed food and got away by 1 o’clock. I ate my lunch while steering the dinghy. Tea was near Burtons Lane End, then a dash for Saxilby – never yet reached by Westgate boat. Tug and Dick in the skiff, Nutty and I in the dinghy. Odden. Saxilby. Had to wait, while a barge passed through the fatal bridge. The dinghy was first through! Turned back at the county border, tried to improvise a sail with moderate success. Rescued the marooned ones and came home. Sore hands but rowing strongly.

After a glorious hot supper, to Sudbrooke by the 9.30 bus. Hitler, Dick and Tug in camp. A feast of apples and toffees, I read some more of “Rookery Nook”.

Monday 21st August 1933

Sleep – Sheep around the tent sleep. Up, while the others still slumbered. Cycled to Langworth for provisions. Back to Sudbrooke. All asleep, so I awakened them with “Amy” on the gramophone; “You’re the little day that has captured every heart”. Today has been a musical day. Music at dinner, tea and while I shaved.

Evening stroll with Akel, through timbered woods to the scene of our night exploits. House with red curtains etc. Some of us went to Temple walk and later, darkness found us in Miss Gilbert’s garden – strange country! Walls, walls, gates and locks. Should we never get out? Emerged near the ruins. Summer lightening. I think this will be my last week.

Sunday 20th August 1933

Akel at Sudbrooke all day, though not feeling very well. Rain and sunshine and wind.

Afternoon church at Sudbrooke. I took my own bike, was able to understand the service and for once enjoyed it. And I prayed; “O God, please don’t let me be a failure. Help me to fight and guide me, Father.” Another quiet day passed. Am going to read in bed awhile.

Saturday 19th August 1933

All rose late. We always do, but today was even more than usual. Akel arrived during breakfast but did not stay long. Papworth departed by a lorry after dinner. We escorted them to the gate, cheering and crying “Heil Hitler!” (the Nazi salute).

Ended a fairly uneventful day with another island camp fire, after which three of us had a voyage to the coffin and got stuck on the way back.

The last month begins; 4 weeks to the 19th September. The last summer of unemployment – and leisure.

(2005 - Of course, I dreaded the Army, to be a Private Soldier in the Regular peacetime Army! Especially after that recent visit to the Barracks to watch the PE and drilling. Nevertheless, I would have done it; my resolve was unshaken. In the end, I got a job on the very day, that led to a lifetime of fulfilled work. Was this blind chance, or had the family, deploring the plan, organised my immediate future?)

Friday 18th August 1933

Went to fetch water with others. Heard that a fierce, beer drinking gypsy lived in woods nearby, so entered in search of him. No trace of him but we found an interesting shed of machinery. Diabolical? In another wood we found a mysterious, tower shaped building. Steps to a well-like cellar! And a bat! We are returning to explore after dark.

Dinner with Papworth – rabbit stew and vicar’s vegetables. Cycled to Lincoln. The Exchange. I have to apply for transitional payments – the Means Test! My dole ends in about ten days, much sooner than I expected. This is written at camp. The shadows have grown longer; it is evening. In June (High Noon), I wrote: “Lengthening Shadows, the fun goes on but the shadows are growing longer, stealing across the lawn to the laughing young people”. How true it is! How true!

I will not say anymore. The laughing. Scouts are ready for a walk now. We go to Landworth. En route I told Hitler he was to join Westgate (up to now he has been on probation) All marched into the chip shop, Papworth as well. Enter Kathleen of the shop. We sat outside, eating. Back through the village; we made a noise, which we should not have done, and were sworn at by irate countrymen. To camp via the woods. Stan took most of his camp for supper. Joe (Papworth CM), Ernie, Wag, Beefy and I attacked the tower in the wood. Cautious approach, by Miss Gilbert’s house. Looked more mysterious by night. Footsteps! “Still!” “Lights out!” We crouched tensely in the dark. Footsteps seemed to die away. Left the tower and went across the fields. Near houses – we dare not use a light. Long grass. Fallen trees. An avenue between woods. Red daisies. The lane. Into the ditch – all of us, in a huddle. The Temple. Around the lake by Twelve Match Path (new name). Cups of cocoa and coffee at the Papworth camp. Soon my spell at Sudbrooke will be over – and these mad pranks will cease.

Thursday 17th August 1933

Dull morning. Our boats broke adrift in the night so before breakfast I was busy rescuing them. Towing three heavy boats with the cockleshell. Squall. Refuge under the Witching Tree.

Afternoon – Lincoln. Was too late to receive payment at the exchange so resigned myself to a day’s poverty. However the family was generous, though unaware of my straits. Bananas, cream, jam, cake and a good pot of tea. Afterwards went to Scothern with Nutty, Beefy and a Papworth scout. Called at the Vicarage for two rabbits and other gratis groceries.

After a few minor happenings in the village (a loving post card, Stan and Joe, ripe rabbits) we set off for Sudbrooke again via the field. Somewhere on the dark estate. Woods, barbed wire. A bull? The house with red curtains. Where we really were – Hebdon’s Poultry Farm! Through the private grounds. Very gingerly through black woods, to Temple Walk. More difficult tree work. Approached Papworth, before bed. The wind is high again. I have laced up the tent and knocked all the pegs well in.

Lengthening Shadows 1933

J.S. Dawson, Westgate Scout Camp, Sudbrooke, Lincs.

“The same old sprint in the morning, to the same old din and smut;
Chained all day to the same old desk, down in the same old rut;
Posting the same old greasy books, catching the same old train;
Oh! How will I manage to stick it all, if I ever get back again?”

Wednesday 16th August 1933

Roused the camp at 8.30. Felt happy and energetic. Hurried breakfast, Langworth for some food then arranged the camp fire with Papworth. Rehearsed it. Rotten rehearsal, as I expected. Rehearsals do not matter.

After dinner, the trek cart loaded with logs, we set forth for Scothern. Very dull garden fete – they always are! I will not describe the weak kinds of amusements which were everywhere. The camp fire was to be held on the old tennis court, and so we built it there, erecting a screen for entrance of performers. I was taken up the church tower by one of the villagers. Up steep ladders and crawling under bells. A white ensign was flying from the roof and below our feet the village spread out. Very peaceful in the evening quietness. Camp fire began about 9 o’clock. I “opened” it.

“As the red logs glow, so may our hearts
As the flames leap upward, so may our aims
As the grey ash fades, so may our sins
As the good fire warms the circle
So may our ideals warm the world.”

I knew (the audience was a large one considering the attendance at the fete) that the people enjoyed themselves by their faces in the fire light. Really, the whole thing was a success and at the end a voice from the crowd led “three cheers for the scouts”.

Back along the dark roads to Sudbrooke. Tyler (Hitler) cycled on alone to light our fire. Brave thing, with the lonely park. Dick could have had a ride in the cart but walked instead. I was at the back with Stan of Papworth. Storm lantern bobbing among the dusky figures around the cart. Camp and bed – late.

Tuesday 15th August 1933

Rainy day. After dinner I borrowed a cycle and went home, chiefly in search of money for food. I got it.

Evening, while returning, saw a strange sky. Blue-bright while in the West, a rainbow in the East. Low, glaring yellow clouds were passing over and gave the streets an unreal look. Got the boys to bed early tonight. I am in my tent reading “The Scouter” and eating apples.

Monday 14th August 1933

Went to Witching Tree in search of lost rowlock and found it at the first attempt!

Dick is sleeping with Wolves tonight. He awoke feeling quite alright, this morning. After tea, went to Scotham with Stan, the Papworth ASM, by motor bike at speed. The Vicarage, for a meeting re: garden fete. Usual fussy, self important ladies of the committee. Offered to give a camp fire at the close of the fete. Stan’s boys dubious but Westgate quite keen.

Evening: all went to Langworth in search of fish and chips. Could find none but we had the walk. Quickly walking figures in the dark; a hedge on one side and a light corn field on the other, they sang “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.

PS A musical afternoon in a deck chair in Wolves Spinney. Broke a record and paid for it (2/6). That leaves me with a farthing, sent by Jack long ago.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sunday 13th August 1933

Awoke at 7a.m. Soon got out and around the camp. Dashed away to church at Sudbrooke. I went first, running through the dewy grass. Holy Communion. Took in 16 pints of milk today – including the Papworth rations. Chapter of accidents today. The Papworth Troop had most casualties, one boy having to visit the doctor with a mosquito bite. Camp inspection – again they cleared the ground well.

Took Captain and Matron out in a boat to the Witching Tree. Arrived there, we held on a bough to change seats. The boat gradually slid further under the branch; the oars were lost; the boat shipped water and teted so much that a rowlock fell out! The position (our positions rather!) became worse. Anyhow, I eventually found myself thigh-deep in water, while captain clung to the branch, slowly sinking down. Matron was trapped “twixt” bough and boat and seemed to be hanging on like a circus artiste. Managed to rescue them both, very wet and bruised. I felt awful and ashamed of my boatmanship but then dear Matron began to laugh. Captain joined in with less enthusiasm and so I felt better. Unable to find the rowlock – it is still there now –so we paddled back to the camp with the oars.

Later a swim with Peggy Wish. Dick fell and hurt himself. We have made him comfortable in my tent and he is fast asleep. I am writing this by the camp fire, so as not to disturb him. The Wolves gramophone is grinding out jazz through the night. Decent camp fire; we invited the Papworth Scouts. Rather a short one, which made it better still. Told “The Mother’s Jewels” – with a yell at the end. “They buried her under four gaunt poplar trees – like those!” Finished by singing a hymn around the fire. Gradually we dispersed; the singing spread, died away.

Saturday 12th August 1933

I was awakened by the milkman at 9 o’clock! The nights seem to be getting colder but I still sleep well with both flaps open.

Papworth Troop arrived by lorry, with much cheering and pitched camp nearby. The six of us went to Langworth by chassis. We took turns at towing it with a bicycle. Hard work – for the cyclist. Kathleen (?) kindly took a photo of us (with chassis). Much traffic on the roads, to and from the sea.

Late dinner – tea again – a good one. Grannie, Londoner, Dick and myself are usually in partnership at meals. Week-enders arrived gradually; Hoddy, Hack and the others. There are ten in camp tonight. Wag has made a wonderful jump from the branch of a tree into the shallow lake. Now he has dared me to do the same – Borrowed a bike and dashed to Lincoln with Grannie. Shopping.

Saw Captain with Charlie of the H.F... Lovers…..! Called at the Girl’s Home for some food for Londoner. Raced back to camp in the dark – we had no lights. Sudbrooke about 10 o’clock. Some in bed, others around a fire. Hefty supper, cheese and pickles. All is well.

Friday 11th August 1933

Rain drizzled nearly all day long. Improvised a shelter with large ground sheets and sacking, on the Wolves site. Quite easy. Langworth, before the rain came. Went on the chassis, for provisions. Discovered the blue eyed girl’s name was Kathleen (or was it Katherine?). Dark blue.

Late dinner in the shelter while rain sizzled outside. Hot tea. Yarns and quiet games until about 8, when the rain ceased. Early supper in our shelter. A swinging storm lantern, which cast a circle of light. Dick – Brother is known as “Dick” and Dickie Wish as “Dickie”, to avoid any confusion.

A P.C. arrived from Papworth Troop, who are visiting us, ordered 10 loaves and eggs for tomorrow. After supper Grannie, Londoner, Dickie and I set off for Langworth to give the order, leaving the other two in camp. Down a lane in the darkness; dim shapes trudging between close hedges. Reached Langworth about 10 o’clock and aroused K and her mother. Quite nice, not annoyed as I half expected. K. looks pretty by electric torch light. Back. Dripping, dark woods. Camp.

Thursday 10th August 1933

Up early. I managed to find and salvage the lantern.

Breakfast, cleared up and left for Lincoln by 10 am Hot sun. My head ached – it does now. Went by field route, Cherry Willingham etc. Dickie Wish, Grannie, Londoner, Tyler and myself. Reached Lincoln for dinner, then met again at the Brayford boats, plus brother Dick. Hot sun. I had drawn my out of work pay meanwhile. We rowed up the Foss to Burton Lane End (tea on the bank).

Coming back, the weather had changed. Cold and windy. Home 8pm Supper, then all caught the 9.30 bus to camp. Straight to bed; they are all quiet now.

Wednesday 9th August 1933

Visitor’s Days are Wednesdays and Sundays. The Wish’s came today – also Matron. Tea at the Lion Patrol Camp. All live there now there are so few. Matron stung by wasp and calmly mentioned it, asking for iodine.

Out on the lake with Peggy (the sister of Dickie) and Grannie. She has different eyes – one dark blue and one dark brown. Grannie was the navigator, gave orders – “Port” or “Starboard”, and occasionally had to jump out and pull! We are going to the more interesting parts of the lake, ie my dreamy, shady tree is “Witching Tree”.

Had a voyage to Witching Tree after supper. Nephew of London held a storm lantern and somehow let it fall overboard!

Tuesday 8th August 1933

I was up fairly early but let them stay in bed late. There are only five of us tonight - the others went at tea time. We had tea in the boats and afterwards punted around to the tune of a gramophone, until it grew too cold. Beautiful moon out tonight. It is about full and rises into a clear sky from behind trees, just at dusk.

Time does not exist here. Nor the worries of the everyday world; the days simply pass happily by. It cannot last for ever so I will enjoy it while I can.

Monday 7th August 1933

After breakfast, grim fencing duels with improvised sticks. Good sport. Inspected the three camp sites, last night the camp was very untidy but before inspection they worked well, as I found every where very neat.

Grannie and I spent the morning charting the lake. I punted idly while he sketched. Nephew (of London), Grannie and myself had tea drifting across the lake in Lion.

After tea we played “Follow the Leader”, I led them a wild goose chase indeed, and cut both knees doing it. Seven in camp tonight. All went to the Wolves tent for yarns. Nearly midnight and almost as light as day, under the moon. Far too late.

Sunday 6th August 1933

Went into the woods for woodcraft training, tested the boys for stealth in movement. Dashed to Church. None of us could follow the service. None of us seemed interested. Seems silly to go. Camp fire at night. There were not enough for it to be very good.

Saturday 5th August 1933

All late up, - very late – so our time throughout the day was distorted. My Scout Wood Badge studies arrived this morning and – curious thing – were brought to me, still in bed, by a First Class, Second Class and Tenderfoot. Wag, Barney and Barney.

We went to Langworth for more provisions (some chiefly to see the blue eyed girl). Wandered along beyond the village and decided to act crazily. Removed our hats to cross the railway – walked by an interested workman. Near Scothern, we lined up by the roadside and paid the same tribute to a lady cyclist. Frank, the London nephew was posted across the road to watch effect. Cyclist’s significant gesture, indicating madness.

We found the sun hot. Through Scothern and by fields to the camp. Soon had tea, no dinner. Evening. “Scout meets Scout”, in the woods. Ray secure in the gully, peering through the leaves, hidden on three sides. I watched the rustling saplings ahead, and waited. It grew darker. Figures, stealthy figures of the enemy. Three! And too dark to recognize them! I challenged, was wrong, and had to flee. We were badly beaten. Eleven in camp.

Friday 4th August 1933

The milkman has to come half a mile to deliver his milk, sometimes only two or three pints. Decent, an ex-Scout.

Morning, sitting with two Scouts in a shady tree overhanging the water. Our boat, safely moored, drifted to and fro beneath our dangling feet. We were all reading Tarzan books. Dinner, drifting in Wolf. Then another spell of reading in the boat, anchored in mid-lake.

After tea, we played stalking games in the woods – principally “Scout meets Scout”. Snap of a twig. Rustle of dead leaves. Movement of saplings. “Stand up Dickie, by that tree, with your hands on your knees!” Six in camp tonight, including Matron’s nephew, from London. Went to the island for a camp fire yarn again. Hot cocoa (I had four cups!) Later a cruise round the lake. Storm lantern of the other boat and lilting strains of a song – “O Shenandoah, I long to hear you….” Saw the moon coming through the cloudy sky too.

Thursday 3rd August 1933

Walked into Lincoln today to draw my dole. Hot in town. Wireless installed at home…. Music…. Brought a case of books from Westgate. Dickie and Tyler are both reading in bed and I am going to, also.

Wednesday 2nd August 1933

Nothing unusual happened – just a pleasant, idle day. Good food, plenty of it with milk. I have a pint or more each day. Evening. Short cruise around the lake, alone. A light night, moon risen. Only two Scouts in camp tonight. Smiling Through. At last I know it all! First, a memory and a haunting phrase. Then the story. Next the tune. Finally the words! It is complete now. I will write all of it.

“There’s a little brown road winding over the hill;
There’s a little white cot by the sea;
There’s a little green gate
At whose trellis I wait, While two eyes of blue, Come smiling through - at me.

There’s a grey lock or two in the brown of your hair;
There’s some silver in mine, I see;
But in all the long years
When the clouds brought their tears,
Those two eyes of blue
Kept smiling through – at me.

And if ever I’m left in this world all alone,
I shall wait for my call patiently
For if heaven be kind I shall wake there to find,
Those two eyes of blue
Still smiling through - at me.”

Tuesday 1st August 1933

The wind had fallen! Now, at night, it is quite still. And the sun has been shining today.

Morning: Wandered through the woods trying to get lost in the thick parts. This troop does not get enough variety or adventure usually, but today has been better.

Afternoon: Went to Langworth for the shopping and travelled by chassis! Took turns at pushing and steering. Amused villagers and car drivers on the main road. A girl of the shop. Blue eyes, fair hair. Halted outside for a long rest.

Evening: Supper on an island, in a clearing among the trees. Tiny, Laurie, Tyler, Dickie Wish and myself. Lit a cheery fire and sat around drinking tea. Glow of the flames through the trees and on the water. Tiny’s ghost yarn. “His mother’s Jewels” culminating in a yell – “You’ve got them!” We seem like Canadian trappers in the forest. Back to our tents over the silent lake.

Monday 31st July 1933

Late getting up. A bleak morning. Everything bleak and unwashed! The wind raged.

Afternoon. A job for Mr. Hebdon, shifting a poultry house on the chassis. Later a few downhill runs on the chassis, steered by a stave on the axel. A gateway to be negotiated on the way. Only once we left the road and crashed into bushes.

Tea in a tent, shaken by wind. It was soon night. The wind tore our flag. I feel lonely. There are four Scouts tonight. My tent is in a mess and the wind still rages. Tiny dressed my hands by lantern light while outside; the wind... All is bleak but I have found friends since I came.

Sunday 30th July 1933

A sunny day. Quite a happy one, but something – perhaps not being A1 in health – was missing. I expected the Ramblers to tea, but only Gwen and Captain (Doreen) came. We wandered about the lake and they both learned to paddle and row. Visited my shady tree, Horace’s nest, the boathouse and teased our gentle swan. I rowed a little, too.

Later came Matron with two of her girls. After Captain, Gwen and I had fetched water (a job visitors liked). We had tea at the Lion’s site. Delightful and humorous Scouts. I had to ring the bell furiously to drown their ribald remarks. Matron dressed my hands this time and did it effiently. A long talk.

After the boys (six tonight) were in bed I had a stroll around the lake via Temple Walk. Dark, and I was nervy but overcame it. Then to bed but no sleep. The wind rose and shook the tent so that it’s flapping kept me awake. Out of bed to fasten the door and my tired eyes saw three tall poplar trees against a stormy sky. A second time I went to the door, this time to lace it from the rough winds. Tall poplars – cloudy sky. Heavy rain drummed on the tent. It ceased. The wind roared. At last I slept.

(2005 - I thought and still do at this time that Matron had hopes of Akel. No chance! Akel did not love women).

Saturday 29th July 1933

Morning: My solitude soon ended by arrival of Peter. Others arrive after dinner. Painfully paddled him into Windy Creek. Difficult getting out against the wind; that is why I call it “Windy”. A sudden shower of rain – I took shelter under a shady overhanging tree on Horace’s Island. Dreamy place. Trees and water!

Tea over, I set forth in search of a Doctor. Walked to Langholme. No trace so walked to Scothern. The right hand gathering had to be opened. I felt frightened as I sat waiting. “I shall not be responsible if you jerk!” Soon over. Horrible feeling of sickness gradually passed. Then I walked back to camp.

Friday 28th July 1933

Final arrangements went through without a hitch. Goodbye to Akel, who leaves for Hungary tonight.

Packed and set out for Sudbrooke. Still raining. Further outlook, gloomy. Called at the grocers and had a talk. Hebdons too, where I made arrangements for delivery of milk and stayed some time. Mrs. Hebdon kindly gave me a little milk for breakfast and supper. Used the primus. Glow of flame in the darkness of the wood. Arranged all my belongings neatly in the tent. Bar of chocolate before going to sleep. Not lonely – why should I be?

Thursday 27th July 1933

Evening: Up the river with Sill, Laurie and Dickie Wish. Took the skiff and whaler – the latter is a heavy partly decked boat, steered by an oar over the stern. I rowed a good deal, although my hands were painful. The blisters have developed into poisoned. I will not say much more about it, being tired of poisoning. We found the Witham rather shallow.

Wednesday 26th July 1933

Evening: went to the Barracks with a few Westgate Scouts, to watch a display of Physical Training. What wonders they were at P.T! Saw recruits hurtling over a tremendous horse like clockwork figures. The harsh Army seems harsher still.

Tuesday 25th July 1933

Nothing outstanding happened at Westgate, but it was a happy meeting. Twenty-one Scouts present and all looking smart and neat. Told them a funny story of a murderer who received an overdose in the electric chair and could not be killed.

Monday 24th July 1933

Marking time. Thinking of what is to come. My ship waits for the trade winds to the doldrums.

Sunday 23rd July 1933

A bright sunny morning. Tuneful clang of the rising bell. Akel came before breakfast and a peaceful, uneventful day followed. Arrangements for the busy future. Ragged constantly re. Captain but it did not frighten or upset me. Thank God. First time in my shy history.

On the way home Akel took me to the Girl’s Home for a short time to see Matron again. Evening a we walked up the steps to the front door. Row of heads at the window above. “It’s Steve!”

Saturday 22nd July 1933

We awoke at 6.40a.m. and decided to get up. We did at 7.40a.m.

The visiting Guides arrived at 9.30 and we met them from the bus, with nervousness which soon vanished. Four staff and over 30 girls. The sun shone. Their squeals of delight at seeing the camp! And the tent they tried to erect and the water they fetched! Thrilling boat journeys. They were plucky and dared to cross by the breeches buoy from the island. Dinner with the staff. Guide – cooked chop and potatoes.

Later I inspected the Patrol sites. Very tidy but the cooking fires were reminiscent of the 5th of November. Jack had to leave to catch the Leicester train. Summoned home by his wonderful girl, whose name is May.

(2004 - Jack and May were married, I met them a few years later. I was with them on their honeymoon in London! They lived together for many years until parted by death, and had 3 daughters: Rhona, Susan and Jackie. To Susan I am Uncle Steve.)

A few Scouts for week end camp. More adventurous boating and some work for me. Put up the camp bell. Tea with the ladies. Afterwards came “Captain” a small blue eyed girl. Matron had postponed departure and we now held a camp fire, though it was not yet dark. Captain was Camp Fire Chief, wearing my blanket as a ceremonial robe. Scouts were hopelessly out numbered but produced one or two good stunts. Guides were good at singing but knew no stunts at all, so liked ours. The close. “Thank you” from Matron, a tall gaunt friendly person. Cheers. Prayers. “Taps”. “Day is done. Gone the sun. From the lakes; from the hills; from the sky. All is well! Safely rest. God is nigh.”

Made many friends during the day. “That is to say I have been happy.” Darkness. The six scouts and I had supper, round the embers of the fire. My first night of responsibility. Happy days like these make me wonder if I shall be strong enough to end them, voluntarily. Can I greet my fate with laughter and accept it calmly? Less than two months now. (This was first written in my tent, after midnight, while the camp slept).

Friday 21st July 1933

Awoke feeling quite fit again. We decided to camp at Sudbrooke and prepare for the Girl’s Home Guides, who come tomorrow. Swiftly packed and went after dinner. Tent’s already up. Tea over, we roved into the woods, hoping to get lost. Down a stream, then through thick belts of saplings, across dry dykes and the verge of nettle beds.

In a wild way we did lose ourselves and at length reached a country lane near the village Longworth. Akel came with a few Scouts. Concentrated hard work, i.e. The erection of a large grub shelter. They returned at night. Having lit a primus in the Stores Hut we sat there in deck chairs, eating supper – the dark trees beyond the circle of our light.

Pike hunting on the lake with a candle; Jack said the light would attract fish. It did not but we found it pleasantly eerie, paddling softly around. Dark sky, dark woods, dark water but light inside the boats square. We did not get to bed until midnight.

Thursday 20th July 1933

I was ill during the night and felt groggy all the morning. Late afternoon, felt better, so took the Westgate skiff out, with Jack. Needed careful piloting through the weedy shallows around the mooring place. Sculled down-stream under High Bridge and as far as Stamp End. Locks. Each time, at the Glory Hole, I could hear that haunting music – “Smilin’ Though”. Up the shallow Witham, between gloomy factories, to the country’s edge, where we turned back. How far is the Witham navigable?

Met the H.F. for an evening walk to Pyewipe. I felt ill however, and left them, at Carholme Road. Of our glorious river day a dream has been born. I have also a dream of Sudbrooke – lake, trees, water and the swish of paddles. And – that beautiful song. Harsh tramp of feet, the dark Army. A train rolls out of a station and I see two blue eyes come smiling through – what? Night on the river, creak of sculls as THEY smile…like pools of water. Sudbrooke’s lake and warm sunlight…a boat that drifts dreamily. My thoughts are confused, incoherent.

Wednesday 19th July 1933

A hot day of blazing sun. Jack and I went up-river (i.e. Foss-Dyke) in the Westgate skiff. Sculled by turns, the watch below being on duty at the tiller.

Delightful, proud sculling, dreamy, happy steering. A swim in cool deep water beyond Pyewipe; lunch in the boat. A following wind drove the boat on without the use of oars. The sun burnt us. We passed traffic safely and proudly. Near Salixby we turned back, into the wind. Removed the rudder and raced back to Lincoln, both of us at the oars. Speed! Another swim, then in the late afternoon, I sculled into Brayford. A glorious day. Boating opens another field of joy for me.

After tea, dashed to Westgate and loaded the trek cart. I was the only one without a cycle and had to run some distance before Nutty’s bike arrived. Sudbrooke; erected the tents - and hands are badly blistered. Rainstorm. Home with Akel in the car. Flickering head lights as the car tore into the rainy darkness. The evening and afternoon might have been different days, so dissimilar were they.

Tuesday 18th July 1933

Morning. We hired a boat on Brayford and had an hours rowing. Saw the three Westgate boats; good, but they need a coat of paint.

Westgate in the evening. Akel was checked by a patrol leader, lost his temper and nearly went home, leaving me to dismiss everybody and lock up. I did not blame him, tired and depressed as he was. All ended happily. Arrangements for Sudbrooke Standing Camp, which I shall run until the middle of August. Responsibility; it should do me good.

Monday 17th July 1933

Bed at 11p.m. last night. At 1 o’clock this morning, I began reading a magazine, unable to sleep. At last fell asleep about 3 a.m.

Showed Jack the Cathedral and Castle. Climbed Central Tower and found some nerve-testing, dark, narrow passages. Great Tom struck the hour as we stood beside it. A terrible, powerful and sinister crash of sound.

(2004 Of course, we should not have up there, it was not a place for the public. We happened to find a door open and went up the stairs. We were very foolish to remain in the belfry, when we knew Great Tom was about to strike.I realize now that Jack was a very brave boy, to me it was just an exciting adventure but Jack was afraid of heights, Yet he showed no fear at the time.)

Back at home I climbed onto the roof, drainpipe was blocked, as I climbed the tiles to clean it – and found a birds nest inside. Did not disturb it; there were two eggs. Went to the chimney pot at the crown of the roof and found one ready to fall. Indeed, it broke away at my touch and there I stood, with one hand on the crumbling pot and one on the stack, my feet delicately balanced on the ridge of he roof. I turned it on it’s side and blocked it to prevent slipping – a hurtling pot does damage. The chimney was a new black cavity and alas! I dislodged some soot.

A walk with Jack and Hockley by fields to Sudbrooke Park. Jack and I had a swim while Hockley paddled Lion around. Coldish water.

Sunday 16th July 1933

My old friend Jack Garrett came from Leicester for a holiday with me. Met him from the 11.23 LMS.

Afternoon, H.F. Ramble from Cross Cliff Hill. The first downpour of rain caught Jack and I at Newland; we sheltered under a shop blind (The beautiful, smiling girl at the window of the corner house). Good crowd of ramblers, hot weather. The woody road to Doddington. The Church and it’s musty, dusty, dark belfry. Tea at a gamekeepers house. By paths to Harby. First aid for Eddie, with a foreign body in his eye.

Beyond the village, bleak clouds, then a savage storm. We huddled together under (I cannot say in) a miserable sheep hovel. Very muddy fields. For sometime we wandered in the outskirts of big woods, then found a path and plunged in. Wetness. Thistles 6 feet high. Clearings and places where we seemed lost. Pushing through a thick, soaked forest, in single file. Mays stockings almost torn in half. We ate my cucumber sandwiches. Skellingthorpe. Bus. Lincoln. A happy beginning for my Shimmering Haze.

Shimmering Haze 1933

J.S.Dawson, 89 Carholme Road, Lincoln.

“There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter.
And lit by the rich skies all day”.

In Conclusion

So ends High Noon.

A good omen for Shimmering Haze; - it will commence with a busy week. And still no job. Will it have to be the Army after all? My “driving” force in job seeking no longer pushes me on. The days slide by happily. It seems hopeless. Midnight has struck. Now to sleep, that “I may rise tomorrow refreshed and eager….”

Week-end Kit (As taken to Sudbrooke Camp July 1933 -

Plate, mug
Large towel, swimming suit
Old shorts and shirt
Felt hat
Candle, matches
Fork, spoon
Spare (white) hank x
Sheet sleeping bag
Notebook, pencil x
Sheath knife
X = not used
2 oat cakes
Piece cheese
Egg sandwiches
Tinned fruit
Bread (about 3 slices)
Vinegar, pepper and salt in a bottle

N.B. I eat more in a standing camp!

Weather hot and Dry
June 11thBank1100
July 17thBank10

Saturday 15th July 1933

A day of uncertain weather. Pow-wow with Akel at his shop re. Troop matters in the morning. The street dancers before the shop; men or women?

Westgate 3 o’clock. Trek cart party to Sudbrooke and only Tiny and Nutty turned up. Tiny went home. We dallied, visited Akel, the afternoon slipped by. At length Nutty and I decided to go our various ways minus trek cart.

Tug in residence at Sudbrooke. Punting very easy in the lake’s shallows. Some parts are becoming stagnant. Found a dead pike and built a cairn of stones in the middle of the lake. There he lies, out of his home at last, in death. A swim – cold water at the plunge.

Already dark when I set off for Lincoln. Ran over a mile, rucksack and all! Just as I began to walk a car pulled up and the kindly driver gave me a lift to Castle square. Home 11.15. Not so bad.

Friday 14th July 1933

Rover Crew meeting at Westgate. Only two other “unattached”, - Hockley, who has no Group at all, and Harrison, the D.C.M. After all the “unattached” will be the Crew eventually. Hockley seems to have an adventurous spirit. Believes in night rambling for instance. Good. Harrison, “Rikke-Tikki-Tavi” among Cubs, stutters; ungainly somehow. I liked him instinctively.

Meeting too formal. Arrangements and talk. Nothing active done.

Thursday 13th July 1933

Little to record.

Wednesday 12th July 1933

H.F. evening walk. Back along the Witham. The Cathedral and town in silhouette against a red sky. May does not like sexy talk.

Monday 10th July 1933

Met “May” (hazel – blue) in the library. We stared blankly at each other. Neither spoke.

Saturday 8th Sunday 9th July 1933

Week-end camp at Sudbrooke. My 27th camp. Third this year. Nobody else went – nearly all had gone to Pontefract. (Chief Scouts Rally). A few parents were at Sudbrooke on Saturday. I had four swims altogether, two each day. A comfortable night though disturbed by buzzing flies. Had no watch so do not know what time I got up on Sunday. The swim I had before breakfast; was the best of the four.

Breakfast; bacon and tomatoes in the “Lion” boat, drifting with the wind. I made a table out of paddles. The wind was quite strong and drove the boat out of it’s course easily. I tried steering with an oar while the wind did the work. Two Scouts came about noon; we had a splash battle all across the lake and all got soaked. A sudden rainstorm with high wind. I was at the end of the lake and could scarcely row to land in time. Home by bus 9o’clock. An expensive week-end – 10d.

Friday 7th July 1933

Evening: Meeting at Riseholme re. starting a distant Crew for Rovers, chiefly those not already members of a Crew in their own Group. About 20 turned up for an open air meeting – all but one strangers to me. I hope to get in a team for the County Rover Hike.

The embryos Rover Leader took a crowd of us to Riseholme Tea Gardens – I had a lift on someone’s motor bike – and stood us a glass of lemonade each. First meeting of the new Crew – under the trees at dusk, a Chinese lantern hanging nearby. Walked to Lincoln with one of the “unattached” ones. Late S.M. of Newland Troop. I paused at Carline Road, on the crest of the hill. It was night and the sky light blue. Lights twinkled below; I could hear railway trucks being shunted. Eastwards, a huge yellow moon was rising from a bank of clouds. Westward the sky was almost white. Southwards I could hear the drone of an aeroplane and saw it’s lights as it turned.

Thursday 6th July 1933

After tea, walked to South Common to see Prince George present a cup to unemployed cricketers. Bored Royalty, wearily smiling and acknowledging cheers of the crowd. Thank heavens I am not a royal prince. Met another Odhams Press ex service man, Taylor who was sent to Nottingham and sacked after a week.

Wednesday 5th July 1933

Visited Sandham. Told him I should not have any more lessons yet. (I cannot afford it).

Sudbrooke after dinner. Akel gave me a lift part of the way. Hot sun, cold wind. Warmer in the water than on the bank and that’s a fact! Another swim after tea. Plenty of boat work. Tried punting, paddling and rowing. My first attempt at the latter; caught several “crabs”. Horace seems more polite nowadays.

Monday 3rd July & Tuesday 4th July 1933

Hot, sultry weather. Head aching. Clouds of gloom – a hot cloud. The Cathedral clock has just struck 6p.m. Failure! Failure! Six times. No news from Coalville; nor will there be. Should have had a driving lesson yesterday (Monday) but could not afford it.

How poor I am! It is rotten to be so poor. The Troop is going to Yorkshire this weekend, to see the Chief. It will cost 3/6 and I am too poor to go. I had to have extra pocket money for the train fare to Woodhall last Saturday. What shall I do? I need more Money. I almost hate money, it is such a snobbish standard. If you have not got money you are labelled as Inferior. People who have plenty make a show of it. Everyone struggles for it.

One big consolation: I am young and fit. Things have only gone wrong for less than a year. Before that year is through I shall have a job. What is one year out of eighty? The clouds will lift.

Westgate; did nothing, too hot. Most went to Sudbrooke for a swim. I was too poor however.

Sunday 2nd July 1933

Up at 8a.m. – Mr. Crowder at once brought us cups of tea. Washed in the house. Luxury camping! On the road by 10.30, after Tiny had completed his log. Through Bardney village. Path towards “Point 22, Tile House Beck”, where we discovered a fault in the instructions and map. Sun climbing.

A long talk with the farmer at “point 22”, who told us all about the monks and much more. Stainfield. Missed the field path but arrived safely at the Abbey of Barlings. Shimmering haze. Lunch here; Tiny sketched the ruins. Left at 2.30. Barlings. Langworth. Hottest part of the journey. The tar of the roads stuck to our shoes like mud. Cool foliage of the Sudbrooke trees. Mileage 10.

Journey’s End. A glorious bathe. Sudbrooke “surf riding” Tea (oat cakes, apple and egg for me). Caught the 9 o’clock bus to Lincoln. Hot box. Slept well.

Saturday 1st July 1933

First Class Test Journey with Tiny. Huge packs, especially Tiny. Train to Woodhall Junction. Had to hike to Sudbrooke, making log, maps etc. and collecting sundry information, such as, “discover how the monks of Tupholme got their supplies”.

Across fields. Very hot. Just beyond the village we had the first view of Lincoln Cathedral. Flat country and cooler paths to Tupholme Abbey; enquiries about the monks. “I don’t know”. Met Mr. Crowder(Grandfather of Peter the Scout), who was to be our host.

Met a motorist who offered us a lift. Outskirts of Bardney; Peter’s house. Pitched our tent at the end of the orchard. Early to bed, and to sleep. Warm, though I had only one blanket. Mileage 7.

Friday 30th June 1933

More driving tuition. Introduced to reversing and changing down today. Another pupil also; we changed over at Nocton and he drove back. A sweet fresh morning.

Expenses and Income
6/7Share of Dole-26
8/7-9/7Sub. bus fares -10
9/7Bar of chocolate-2
13/7Share of dole+26
16/7Ramble, bus fares and tea-9
17/7Castle & Cath.-8

This depressing record is now closed.

Thursday 29th June1933

Waited all day for news from Coalville. None came.

Evening H.F. walk. A bachelor “crowd”, Eddie, Charlie and myself. We went to Waddingborough along the river, returning by the road. They both visited the “public” at Washingborn while I ate a bar of chocolate in the street. Yesterday I drove a car through the same village, along the same road.

Wednesday 28th June 1933

Acted partly on impulse and partly on set purpose. Became a driving pupil under Sandham, the Canwick Road motor engineer. Cost of instruction £1. 15s. Plus licence and insurance £2.7.6. Heaven knows how I shall pay it! Paid £1 deposit, then went to the Corporation Offices where I received a driving licence. Proud moment!

Drove to Canwick, then I “took over”. The mysteries of clutch and gears. A car passed almost at once. No accident occurred and I became quite confident. We drove (I drove) about 20 miles, right beyond Potter Hanworth. Enjoyed every minute. Thrilling to feel the engine answering my slightest touch. A new experience, fresh adventure!

Evening, Scout Sports, City School Ground. Westgate came third – Bracebridge won. Nothing sensational occurred. I feel horribly poor – and no wonder! Liabilities exceed assets.

Tuesday 27th June 1933

Letter from “Gracedieu Collegate School,” Whitwick, (Leicesters hive!). Job with poultry and driving a car. (I can do neither!) Could not find the school in the directory. What kind is it?

Westgate: Akel showed us the beautiful County Colour, which the Troop now holds for a year. Celebration week next week. Lincolnshire’s crack Troop.

Rang up Coalville 261 (The School). Told him I could not drive etc. Liked the Principle’s voice. Time up too soon. Am to have an interview in Grantham shortly. Parents discouraging. What shall I do?

Monday 26th June 1933

Labour Exchange. Put on waiting list for next lot of newspaper canvassing jobs. Met a parent on the way. The Troop had won the County Colour! Rang up Akel’s shop. It was true! I am a member of the best Troop in Lincolnshire! My stars!

After dinner a lovely walk. To Waddington through fields of wheat, clover, mowing grass and ploughed hard. Beyond the aerodrome I struck the old Roman road. A straight, wide track between hedges. Miles passed. I saw a few labourers. Sometimes the track crossed or joined a country road. No villages.

Tea near Boothby Graffoe. Flat country in all directions. Few trees; almost fen. Sat on a gate and read poetry. Then along a straight road towards Metheringham – across the main road. Turned Lincoln wards. Loneliness. Another rest, then fast walking began – getting late. Past the RAF Wireless Station and through Bracebridge. Home 9.45.

Sunday 25th June 1933

Too lazy for Sudbrooke. Met the H.F. at 12 o’clock, Eastgate. Wandered through the hazy afternoon. Eddie and Gwen, Roy, “Flo” (dreadful name) and I. Fields. Near Welton, tea on the lawn of a garage.

I like Roy; first impressions were wrong. He is a sensible and interesting talker. Eddie and Gwen, Roy and Flo. Along a dreamy bridle path. Peace. Entwined fingers. Eyes. Easy going, several halts. The world at our feet, near Carlton. Burton, to Lincoln. Soldiers with their little cares.

Queer little man who tried to make friends with me. “Harry” Weak-minded! His eyes kept on running up and down me; he thought I did not notice. Home 10p.m.

Saturday 24th June 1933

The heat wave is returned! Afternoon; helped the Troop Colour Patrol take their kit to the County Patrol Competion at Riseholme. Tiny, Tug, Wag, Hack, Laurie and Dickie Wish. Left them at the gate. “Fighting for the Honour of the Troop”.

Slight tea at home, then walked to Sudbrooke. Two Scouts in camp. I mended a gate (by felling a small tree for a crossbar) to keep the sheep off the camp site. Akel turned up at 8.45 and took me to Riseholme Park. We were allowed in by special permit. Camp fire until 11 o’clock. How I revel in a decent camp fire! It ended at last, singing “Jerusalem” around the blaze. “And did those feet in ancient time…?”

The last hymn in the Square at Daventry. Keen boys – the pick of the County, naturally – shall we win? A talk around the embers, while the camp went to sleep. Home, swiftly through the night. Just striking 12 as I unlocked the door.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friday 23rd June 1933

Nothing achieved; the day just slipped by. Not a word worth entering in the book of my life.

Nothing achieved; the day just slipped by. Not a word worth entering in the book of my life.
Expenses and Income B/fwd.

23/6Balance  331/2
24/6Sud. Bus Fare -  3 
 Total  3 1/2
25/6Tea-  21/2
 Total  210 
26/6Flag Day Sub. -  6 
 Total  24 
27/6Telephone Call - 10 
 Total  14 
28/6Drawn from Bank + 290 
 Total  304 
28/6Paid Sandham - 200 
 Total  104 
28/6Driving Licence - 50 
29/6Share of Dole - 26 
 Total  710 
30/6Paid Sandhams - 60 
 Total  110 

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thursday 22nd June 1933

At the Dole Queue, I met Lancaster, one of the men engaged by “The People”. He went to Coalville and was sacked within three days. Says that nearly all the men are back now. It was a tough job.

Am preparing dinner. Have just heard a street musician playing “Londonderry Air”. Memories. The British United Concert Hall, myself at the side of the stage. Concertina and voice – “Mine own dear land…” Toc H. The darkened club room and our voices – the members, in a semi-circle. St. Alban’s Church – darkened – and we of Toc H standing in the Chapel of Remembrance. “They trusted God…” Again the Church – at night and empty except for the choir. A girls voice, singing – “The Londonderry Air”. The dingy house at Ellis Avenue. Myself ill in bed and Dad playing the piece to sooth me.

Three months ago. The H.F. club room. Mr. Melton. The members around, slightly bored. Moor Hill. 1931 and I singing for joy as I went down a green hill….where e’er my footsteps wander… And last Christmas, I passed a house – it was cold and dark – and heard a girls voice. I did not know the words, but the old tune…”The Londonderry Air”. Sometimes when I heard it I was worried, irritable. But always I forgot other things, until the music ceased.

Wednesday 21st June 1933

Raining steadily. Had arranged to take Second-Class Tests at Sudbrooke. It rained yet. Went to the library after dinner; met Wilf, and then the rush began.

4p.m. Dashed to Sudbrooke and found none of my team was there. 4.20p.m. Dashed back (this by car). 4.40 to 7 Wilf and I at the cinema. Screaming lunatics, slobbering women, weeping men, passion, murder and etc. 7.20p.m. Ran to Broadgate in a downpour of rain and ….wondrous! Met the H.F. ramblers. Six. Sheltered until 7.30, when the rain ceased, and we set fourth. Riseholme and Burton district. Back by 9 o’clock. Posted an application letter at West Parade, just as Mr. Bates, my honoured ex-chief passed by. Usually a dashing time life this leaves me in a good humour but I feel very irritable at the moment. This is Wednesday; have not had a joyful day since Sunday.

Tuesday 20th June 1933

Westgate. Akel an hour late. We went in big hall. Frenzy of arrangements, tests, discussions, decisions and requisitions from 9p.m. to 10.30p.m. “Is this right?” “Show me” – “When” – “How?” – “Shall we?” – “What?” – “Can I have?” – “Will you?” –

Monday 19th June 1933

Had to climb on the roof today, to clean the drain pipe of rubbish. Would make a good photograph.

Sunday 18th June 1933

Rain. Set out 10.30, alone (because I could not afford the bus fare). Trudged through the rain towards Branston. Downpour. Sheltered by a deserted house, which luckily had a veranda. Fine intervals, showers. Black clouds. Ate some sandwiches as I walked. Near Blakney, 2 o’clock. I rested under some trees and had my dinner. The rain stopped, the sun shone, I quickly dried.

Would the Club come? They did – 5 of them – by the 3.40 bus. We strolled. A farm for tea. A1. Across Digby Aerodrome, through the “village”. Were we trespassing?

Mr. Melton – the atheist. Long discussion. Light rain. Main road. Fast walking. At dusk I stopped a car and two of the girls got a lift. Chauffer and Indian (princess?) “Eas eet that you want to go to Lincoln?” she asked. Three of us caught a bus from the fourth milestone. Home 10p.m. Hot bath, supper in bed.

Saturday 17th June 1933

About the same as yesterday. Have vowed to read no more books of fiction until the end of next month. Am reading biographies, psychological books etc. in their stead.

Friday 16th June 1933

Doldrums, still.

Tuesday 13th June 1933

My purse becomes leaner each week. Apart from 30/- in the bank, put there long before my troubles began, I have 2/6d left. Down to the last half crown, ready money! I must watch every penny. 6d spent on a ramble will be 1/5 of my total capital.

Monday 12th June 1933

High Noon!
The sun at it’s zenith!

“Now, today, has come the time for singing;
Now, today, the good red wine must flow;
You may hear our lifted glasses ringing;
For the hour must strike when we must go.”

Let me prophecy. This summer my happiness will reach it’s height. High noon. Shimmering haze – like a party, a jolly, laughing party, on a summer’s day. Lengthening shadows. The fun goes on, but the shadows are growing longer, stealing across the lawn to the laughing people.

Then – Sunset. The hour strikes when I must go. In the cool of the evening, the merry ones are left behind, and things change. What will be the finale of the party? Ullesthorpe? Then the day – the glorious day – will be over. “But, perchance, the coming night is full of stars” In my case my prophecy should come true, (and I have reason to think it will). I am going to get the last out of these next three months. I will imagine I have three months to live, but instead of dying I shall have a change, a fresh beginning.

(Note- 1982 The reason that I spoke of three months to be enjoyed before the Night is that I fully intended to dawdle no more. The date of September the 19th was final (I cannot recall why that date was chosen). If still unemployed on that date I would enlist in the dreaded Army. I would have done it but – wonder of wonders! On the 19th of September I got a job, far away in Surrey with Paripan. Fate! I was with them for 30 happy years).

High Noon. 1933

J.S. Dawson, 89 Carholme Road, Lincoln.

“Four things come not back to man or woman: the sped arrow; the spoken word; the past life; the neglected opportunity”.

Saturday 10th Sunday 11th June 1933

Evening, Night and Morning.

We assembled at 11p.m. for the Club night ramble. Raining slightly. Nine of us and one girl. Out by Greetwell, singing merrily – “John Brown’s Body”, “Rogenim” etc. Fiskerton 12.30; not a soul about. Bridle path. Soaking rain, rough path, I led the way with my torch. Walked in single file. Shelter? “Rough bit! Slow down, keep torch!” A decent road again. Gave Mona (Tom Chapman’s sister) my spare mac. Mr. Melton and I left in rear. Barlings. Noises of the night. Still raining. Two had sought shelter in a pub. Sudbrooke Park. (I leading). Two more left us and went home. Single file through the fields and woods. Very difficult to keep to the path.

At last, found a small summer house (we missed the first). Time about 3.30 and raining hard. Lit a fire, dried and changed, as far as possible. Hot tea from my thermos and a tot of whisky from Charlie. 4.30, light came (presumably dawn) and we splashed through the dripping estate to the gardens.

The “body” in the bell tent. Took possession of the gas house and dried ourselves again. Went to rouse the “body” and found it was not Castledine, but his aunt, Miss Gilbert. However we found him safely and I was soon frying breakfast over a primus stove. Bacon and egg, tea.

Away before 8. Home along Wragby Road. Mona got a lift, Melton and Tom caught a bus, while Charlie, Tom’s brother and I walked home. Lay down for forty winks and awoke a 2.10 p.m.

Dressed, washed etc. and dashed to Eastgate 2.35. Another ramble, 6 of us. To Sudbrooke by the Cherry Willingham route. Fierce looking goose at Reepham, braved by May and I. Tea in a shed while it rained, near the Park. Only 2d. each! Scothern. Here I had to catch the bus (family’s orders for early arrival). Annoyed.

Hot dinner. It is now 9 o’clock; I am going to bed. The night’s misadventures gave me many opportunities to use my superior Scout knowledge and resourcefulness. I can lead. Goodnight.

(2004 A wet night ramble followed by a day ramble. I must have been crazy.)

Saturday 10th 1933

Great Northern 9.30. More sales talk and delay then allocation of districts. I was among those not picked! Too young I suppose. So the bubble burst. I had already planned what I should do in whichever town I was sent to...

Aesop wrote a fable about a girl who planned what she would do with the money she received for a jug of milk she was taking to market. Then the milk spilt, curdled, evaporated or something. I am like Aesops girl. The supervisor told us we should be engaged if any more vacancies occurred, but I doubt it.

(2004 This will be the lowest of the low in selling. It was door to door canvassing for the News of the World, known locally as the Whore’s Gazette).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Friday 9th June 1933

Spent most of the day at the Great Northern Hotel with Messrs. Foskett and Purois, Odhams Press Supervisors. About 40 of us, but many refused the job. Talks on how to sell etc. Not definitely engaged yet but it is fairly certain. It is not yet known how many men are required, or where, but most of us will be sent to teams in Leicester, Derby or Nottingham. I think fate will decide where I go.

Walked to Sudbrooke to help with the trek cart. Eventually we put the kit in Mr. Nutty’s car, with myself perched on top, while the cyclists towed the empty cart to the club room.

Thursday 8th June 1933

After breakfast – to Lincoln. Went to Sudbrooke twice, with Wilf. Swimming and boating.

Interview at Great Northern Hotel for a job as a canvasser with Odhams Press. Many applicants but several vacancies. Good pay; Out-of–town job. To call again.

Wednesday 7th June 1933

Up at 5.30 a.m. and away by 6 with Wilf via the car. Very few people about. A lovely fresh morning. Cool clear, with green hedges, trees and grass. Sleaford. Bicker for a hasty breakfast, then on again, - south.. Peterborough, Stevenage, to THE CITY.

Miles and miles, streets and streets, heat, dry sunlight, sultry air, thick traffic. London. Wilf called for an interview at Shaftesbury Road East – it took us hours to find it. Then we drove to Bath Street and I called on the General Tobacco Co. (vacancy for traveller.) I was shown into the waiting room, where I still am. Have written the last 5 1/2 pages here. There were three other men waiting and the third is now inside. I hear there have been 1200 applicants for 11 vacancies! I still wait; so does Wilf. The interviewer was a Lincolnshire man! Will that help me? Fine job, better than the Heinz one.

We were glad to leave the thick stifling city behind us. Tea at a roadside café near Welwyn – Devonshire tea. Red sunset. Great North Road. Into the night. Country roads. Peace. Bicker 12.30 a.m. Instant sleep. (Bicker is Wilfs’ home.)

(2004 This desperate, almost ridiculous attempt to get a situation was not untypical of those jobless times).

Sunday 4th, Monday 5th, Tuesday 6th June 1933

Hot , glorious day. Brekker with Lion Patrol, by the lake. A party of us worked hard at the old dam and demolished it. Cross cutting, hauling. Thirsty and hot, shoulders getting sun burnt. To the camp; a fine swim and dinner with the seagulls. Peas and prunes!

This far I wrote at Sudbrooke in the tent, before going to sleep. Not wishing to disturb Akel however, I put out the light and now continue on later Wednesday. The camp is over long since so I cannot remember much, except for a few special impressions. The glorious weather throughout the camp – night I could see the moon and the sky (still blue) through the tent door. The heat and the cool lake. The jolly, brotherly spirit – “Have tea with us, Steve!”.

Monday, when the parents came – the picnic feeling, boating, wood cutting in the lake. Horace attacked the Lion and it was overturned by the scared boatmen. Luckily, Horace did not again trouble the victims and we got them safely ashore.

On Sunday we all went to church at Sudbrooke. Funny little camp incidents, too; When Reggie lost his bathing costume and where three of the Lions were sent to fetch three loaves (as a punishment.)

On Tuesday I borrowed a cycle and went to Lincoln to report at the Exchange, bring Akel's shop correspondence back with me. The Camp Fire on Monday night was very good, beginning with a feast of chips and cocoa round the blaze. I was with the Wolves – Barney, Wag, Laurie and Dickie. We did “Swansong” (Horace’s attack on the boat), “Jujitsu Trick” and “Comic Circus”. Barney and I also appeared as thugs in Tiny’s “Stump Speeches” stunt.

On Tuesday we built a breeches buoy across the lake to an island - I had three rides. Once the rope sagged and I skimmed the water, to the great joy of the onlookers. I took a photograph while suspended on the rope.

During the camp I somehow acquired the reputation for being a strong man. I lifted the flag pole from it’s socket when three others had failed to do so and thereafter had to periodically display my strength! When the parents came we were sent into the boats to cut away dead timber in the lake. I had to leave my boat – the Gull – and work thigh deep. Later we splashed our way back with the trophies, when I had to get a water lily for my mother.

Tuesday night – home again and frantic preparations. What a hot box the house seemed!

Friday 2nd June 1933

Diary of an A.S.M. - 7pm Westgate Parents Committee. I represented the Group, as Akel was away. Afterwards I went into the yard and helped with the preparation for camp, scrubbing pots and pans etc.

Upstairs again I put a boy through most of his tenderfoot test, then locked the place up and stopped a dog-fight in the street. No sign of Akel so I called on Mrs. Tyler re. her boy camping.

Down Steep Hill and High Street to Akel’s digs. Not in, so I left a note. Home 10.30.

Thursday 1st June 1933

I suppose other things have happened today, but all I can write of is “Two eyes of blue come smilin’ through….to me” For I have just returned from seeing the film and hearing the haunting tune. It was a marvellous story, - nothing suggestive in it. Everyday phrases cannot describe the impression I received. Nor will I try to re-tell the story; I shall not forget it. I cannot think of any film (that word is seldom used here!) which has impressed me so deeply and I think it will have a good effect on me. “Smilin’ Through”.

At first I wrote here in a romantic and idyllic way about deep love. But now I have torn out the page and burnt it; some thoughts should not be perpetuated on paper!

Wednesday 31st May 1933

Day; window cleaning and painting. Evening: H.F. walk with Molly, Eddie and two strange girls. Canwick Road and across fields in a haphazard manner to near Waddington where an air display was in progress. Saw a parachute descend and heard a lark singing.

Back through Bracebridge and High Street. Home 10.30. On the way we talked about the Lake District, Wales, Snowdon, Welsh dialect, Leicester and Suicide. There were other topics, but these were the chief ones!

Tuesday 30th May 1933

Met two strange Scouts on the way to Westgate. The Sign. This is an everyday occurrence; most heartening. I like the Scout salute better than the Cub.

Part of the evening was spent on The Common, estimating distances. I had a line of boys posted from 30 to 300 yards away who each in turn rose as I signalled. Then the First Class candidates had to judge the distance swiftly. Later we raced to the gate (1/4 mile) I think - Shorty just won, though we called it a dead heat. He beat me by .005 of a second.

Monday 29th May 1933

Wonderful! “Smilin’ Through”, the story of which film has haunted me so, is in Lincoln! “Two blue eyes come smilin’ through”. Or, perhaps it is “Two eyes of blue…” Anyhow – Evening, Sudbrooke, to put up fence. Counted my steps, on the way. I took between 1700 and 1800 paces in a mile, according to the length of stride. Scouting, my keenness still increases! Shall I regain last years status, after all?

Sunday 28th May 1933

Rain in the morning, which cleared. To Brayford to met the H.F. Waited 30 minutes; nobody appeared. Half decided to go alone, I walked along Monks Road, feeling very upset. On the edge of the country, I met a bus. Acted on impulse and boarded it; back to Brayford, still no signs.

Went home, changed into uniform and set out for Sudbrooke. By this time the morning had gone. Irritable. Ill-tempered, a slight head-ache. Skies grey. Only Akel at Sudbrooke, but Grannie, Tug, Peter and hack came soon after. Horace bad tempered; we teased him – from the bank.

Cuttting down and trimming “light timber” (maple trees). I felled my first. Hack, Grannie and I had a paddle in the new patrol boat. Smart, with a mast. After they had gone it poured with rain. Horace attacked twice.

Tramped home through the fields. Cherry Willingham. Rain, dusk, thirst, drink of water, night rhythmic strides. Home 11.25. Had to rouse the house to be let in.

Saturday 27th May 1933

Library again. Met Gwen (I usually meet someone I know!) Took “The Art of Mountain Tramping” this time. Have vowed to borrow no more fiction until “The Will to Live” has been read. It is a very hard book on psychology.

Friday 26th May 1933

Home; Spring cleaning at its climax. Have started to paint the stairs. Library: “Lessons from the Varsity of Life” by B.P!

Thursday 25th May 1933

More about Wales, from Bradleys “In Praise of Wales” – “Tryfan is a gigantic crag of rock, slanting upwards in layers and notching the skyline with their rugged ends…awesome…the chaotic litter of rock and crag that piled itself high to heaven on every side”.

He describes very clearly the miners path we took on the Snowdon ascent, by Lake Llydaw and Glaslyn. Glaslyn is 2000 feet high, so the scarp I tried to climb was about 1500.

H.F. walk arranged for tonight. Only three of us turned up, so we eventually dispersed; I went to Westgate.

Wednesday 24th May 1933

Afternoon, a Scouty job. Assembled the trek cart at Westgate and went to the station. 7 of us, including Silly, Tiny (now a magazine editor!) Wag and Tug. They took turns riding. Loaded three railway sleepers – scrounged by Akel – and returned uphill. A hard pull up Lindum Hill. Warm work.

Monday 22nd May 1933

Though out of work I am kept busy at home nowadays, painting, cleaning, varnishing.

Reference library, extracts from the Muirheads “North Wales”- “Pistyll Rhaiaidr….210 feet high…perhaps the finest in Wales”. Tryfan. (Where my thumb stick remains-) “Scored by gullies which afford ample scope to the expert cragsman but are inaccessible to the ordinary climber…the three headed hill…precipitous…A remarkable pyramid”. Snowdon. “Glaslyn and Llydaw are dominated by sheer walls of rock” (That cleft above Glaslyn!) “Snowdon is noted for its sudden mists, are perilously precipitous and craggy. Inexperienced hill climbers will be ill advised to stray from the paths”. Pen-y-Pass Route. Finest recognized ascent…finest and steepest”.

If I had known all this before, I would never have dared Tryfan or Snowdon!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sunday 21st May 1933

A sunny day for the Empire Parade (equivalent to St. George’s at Leicester.) Met at Westgate, every Scout at his smartest; 20 of us. Marched to Castle Square. Guides, Cubs, Scouts. Saw Dick and Robin with the 11th. Into the Cathedral. I feared the service would be intensely patriotic, but it was very decent. After, the March Past, (Lord Liverpool). Round the Cathedral, along Eastgate for dismissal at the Square.

The 7th marched through the crowds in good order and dismissed outside the club-room. I feel quite proud of my Troop. We were so obviously the best. Correct uniforms, correct badges, disciplined, marching in step. Akel planned everything; for instance he left a gap between the 7th and the Troop next in front. I am in a First Class Group at last! Though I do not think I shall ever regain my old enthusiasm – indeed, passion – for Scouting. I shall not leave yet awhile.

Thought of Resolutions.

What shall I be? Out-of-work, how much longer? One thing is sure; I will not go through the disgrace of the Means Test. If still unemployed when I become due for it (about the 19th September) I would rather join the army as a last resort.

Saturday 20th May 1933

Evening of a hot day. Met the H.F. Ramblers at Silver Street. Only Molly turned up! A record!

We went for a walk by ourselves, determined not to waste the evening. Along by Reseholme Park, green lanes, paths and main roads. Could hear birds singing when I listened. Back 9.45 – about 6 miles. We talked hard all the way, on many different things. Met various Scouts during the day. The Sign.

Friday 19th May 1933

Usual housework during the morning. Went to Sudbrooke in the afternoon. A lovely day. Sunday jobs. Repaired two fences – new posts, barbed wire etc. Had a swim in the lake. Beautifully cool water.

Evening; a paddle round in “Wolf”. Horace the swan in aggressive mood. Attacked me three times, trying to get on my back. The third time was at twilight; he knocked me into the boat bottom. Thought I was done, but luckily he was down too – a blow with my paddle – so I had time to rise before he rushed again. I think courage is at it’s lowest ebb at twilight.

(2004. I am sitting in the flat bottomed boat reading and hardly noticed that Horace had circled behind me. There was a slight sound and I turned round and saw Horace above me poised to strike. I rolled into the bottom of the boat, hitting him with the punt pole. I was so frightened that I whimpered aloud. I was so ashamed of my fear that I stayed on the lake for 15 minutes in defiance, finally going out on the lake in a light canoe, for the final battle as described.)

Thursday 18th May 1933

A fish and chip supper at Westgate in honour of Hack, the first Scout in the Troop to become First Class. After, we put him (struggling vainly) in the trek cart and ran him home through the streets.

Tuesday 16th May and Wednesday 17th May 1933

“Signing on,” Library, Scouts, books , writing, dreaming, working. The usual routine. I miss my favourite thumb stick; my private comrade and totem. After three years – somewhere on the slopes of Tryfan, in Wales.

Climbing Sun 1933

J.S. Dawson, 89 Carholme Road, Lincoln.

“Courage, the highest gift, that seems to bend.
To mean devices for a sordid end.
Courage an independent spark from heaven’s high throne.
By which the soul stands raised, triumphant, high, alone.
Great in itself, not praises of the crowd, above all vice it stoops not to be proud”.


A wonderful holiday over! My first mountains – danger. The foreign looking names and faces – the queer dialect. The hostels – each one so different from the last. The people we met and were friends with for a few hours – the girls at Maeshafn; the plucky old people who went up Snowdon, the climbers I met at the top, the man who advised me; Ben and Maria, at Bala.



Monday 15th May 1933

A bad nights sleep. Sunny morn. Breakfast over, we all went our ways as is the custom in YHA.

Stopped at Warwick and I visited the County Police H.Q. Filled in an application and had my chest measurement etc. taken. Arithmetic exam. Should I actually be engaged? A snack in the car, then back for dictation. The Inspector. The great man – “Stand and face the Chief Constable!”

Not accepted – chest two inches below standard. Finis. Coventry, Leicester, by green fields and smooth grey roads. Applied for a job as errand boy to a fruiterer in the Clarendon Park district. (Hope I don’t get it). And so to Lincoln. Since Thursday we have touched 14 counties!

Sunday 14th May 1933

A sunny morning. Away by 10. Leaving the mountains behind, we came by green lanes and moor land to Llanrhaiadr. Pisytyl Rhaiadr, a wonderfull waterfall about 150 feet high. Had lunch at the foot. Later I climbed beside the fall to the top – a few anxious moments!

On across the border into England. Shrewsbury. Made a quick decision and changed our course. Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Stratford on Avon (at high speed). Birmingham, a dreadful city; miles and miles of it! Shottery Hostel. (Parked the car nearby). A large hostel, well fitted – and with mattressed bunk beds! Big dormitory; six of us. Early to bed.