Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saturday 10th April 1937

A letter from Vera – I get a bundle of letters every morning, business or otherwise. She says she has been transferred to Crayford, Kent. “An unheard of place, a dump of dumps and forty miles from Benfleet”.

Called for the car 2:30 p.m. and after stalling her several times outside the garage, managed to drive away to the digs. After lunch I decided to go for a run and get used to the car. Could not start the bloody thing! Most discouraging. I got out and lifted the side of the bonnet. Inside, as I had anticipated, I saw lots of little wires and dark things. As I glared helplessly at this ironware, a voice said “Can I help?” and I turned to see a young man emerge from no. 17. Within 10 minutes he had the engine turning over nicely. I suggested he should come for a run. He did. After many stalls I got her away and drove along the sea front to Thorpe Bay and Shoeburyness (being terrified of traffic!)

My companion, Bob Bunton, proved quiet a decent sort of chap. He had served in the regular Army – Black Watch and Sussex - and is now a Second Lieutenant in the Army Supplementary Reserve. Incidentally, he is out of work at present but has applied for the West Indies Police – the job I desired and funked four years ago! Brought him back for tea then went out again alone. Went beyond Shoebury to the mysterious tract of country near the sea, belonging to the War Department. Eventually, the road I followed reached the seawall and went over it, to become a rough track leading across wet sands. Wakering Stairs. A very quiet place, and still. I backed the car and then wandered along country roads, through Rochford and Rayleigh and many small Essex villages.

In Rochford I feared a traffic policeman would hold me up at a crossroads on a hill! Luckily, as I crawled forward he signalled me on! On the main Southend road past Rayleigh, I put my foot down once or twice, when the road was clear. The needle flickered just below 50. On the outskirts of Southend I had to light up and then face the ordeal of High Street on a Saturday night. However, I got through alright and drove safely into the garage.

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