Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday 4th March 1937

The “outfit” remained at The Bell until 11 o’clock whilst Production Manager Markham delivered a pep talk. He is a small dark man; lean cheeks, darting brown eyes. He deals with his salesmen and his sales problems in a remorseless and cold blooded way; Nevertheless, a vein of humour runs through these clear-cut statements. Reminds me of an army commander detailing his men. “Clementi and Barber, you get off to Nuneaton. Tom Holland and Whitehead, take Dudley. George Clarke and I will try Coventry.”

I went to Burton on Trent, with Jimmie Rigg and Packman. Went through Lichfield and reached Burton at about 12:30. Lunch at the Ritz Cinema Café. Burton was virgin ground and we made several calls. Rigg booked an order for one case of Curly Tail (1/2 lbs) It was what they call a “crap shop” i.e. Class D. Rigg talked a lot of balls (his bowler tilted back on his head, his fat little face shining, eyes bulging) and suddenly the poor woman said, “All right, I’ll have one box”. Rigg was in the middle of a sentence but he stopped at once, as though the clockwork had run down. Rigg was quite sentimental about Burton. Several years ago, he met a girl in a cinema here. He “sidled up to her” then eventually took her out and “had a nice quiet poke, up against some railway fencing”.

Back to The Bell by 6:30 (at which time I should have been on board “President”, in the ordinary course of events). Went to my digs and prepared for a nice quiet evening, manipulating the radiogram, with a Yorkshire man who also stays there. Suddenly there was a tap on the door. It opened and Whitehead's amazing head peered round. (“Thought the feller was a floppin’ artist” said the Yorkshireman afterwards.)

We went out to supper. Whitehead has an extraordinary car; the number plate kept falling off. A policeman stopped us when we were dashing (the wrong way) along a one-way street. “Where did you find that?” he asked the car owner, curiously. We wandered about Brum’s Mayfair (apology for) until we found somewhere for supper. It was the first place we had seen and passed by. The Royal Exchange. Quite a good class place and a decent supper. Whitehead is the most casual and haphazard bloke I’ve ever met. After supper we got in his beastly tin can of a car and tore dangerously along several streets. “Is this the right way?” I asked, after sometime. “Haven’t the foggiest” he said brightly, “Perhaps we’d better ask!” It took about 20 minutes to reach my digs, and to my deep chagrin the landlady told me the Exchange was only 5 minutes walk!

Sat by the fire until 2 o’clock, talking to the lady of the house, her sister, the Yorkshireman, and a confectionary traveller from London. The latter is frightfully chatty and jolly – and he knows it!


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