Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday 4th September 1936

Hall’s mistress passed by, came in and inspected Kapai. She hardly knew me but soon began calling me “Peter”, “It suits you better (giggle)” She was disgusted with the state of the place and set about cleaning. Within 15 minutes she had swept it, dusted, shaken the mats and rearranged the furniture whilst I sat on the table, feeling superfluous and amazed.

John arrived (to my relief) and we took out a punt when the girlish lady had gone.
After the usual strenuous push up the Colne to the Mill Pool, we drifed very idly down the Thames. Darkness; a good pipe. I steered almost automatically sitting at the stern with the pole between my knees. We told stories until Staines Bridge drifted past.

Suddenly ambitious, I struggled up the River Colne into the heart of Staines. A branch of the Bell Weir Colne but wider, shallower, much more rapid. We reached High Street, John working in the bows with a paddle! Laughing, gasping; inch by inch.
We ran into a tree; went aground; drifted down; crawled up again and reached Church Street! “A grand feat!” cried John, exultant and swaggered ashore up the steps.
Certainly, I’ve never seen a boat near Church Street before.

Swift run down, exciting in the dark. Paddled upstream to the hammes fields then John punted. I lay amidships with a flashlight; it was beastly late. In a backwater we passed within inches of a grey bird which sat upon a branch gazing stupidly at the light. Reached the boathouse, 11:20. John went home.

I, ravenous, went to The Spot café for a Welsh rarebit. Sat talking to the manager (re War) until 1 o’clock. And now it is 2 a.m.

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