Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wednesday 24th March 1937

Another depressing day until, just before lunch, I called at our new Hadleigh stockist and received an unexpected order. Then Packman decided it was time Mr Stark “got down to brass tacks”. Mr Stark was the very first contact we made in Southend. Went to The Esplanade and there he was, working on his boat. I climbed up the ladder alongside and eventually secured an order, 3 glns. Of Dryfast and ½ gln Boat Varnish. I had the satisfaction of selling at a higher price than he originally required. (D/F is 30/- and he usually pays 22/- for enamel). After this, we chatted a few minutes and I discovered Mr Stark was in the RNVSR!

The last call of the day was at 7 o’clock, at Benfleet. Tom Ware of “Ware-Craft”. (Proudly, he told us he was the fifth boat-building Ware). Mr Ware was pretty canny. Before buying, he is going to test our products by applying them to a board which he will throw in the creek!

Met Anne and Vera 8:45 and dashed to Town. It was Boat Race Night and Oxford had won, after thirteen years of defeat! Vera and I were in the back as the car tore into the darkness. This, I think, is the first time I have made love at 60 miles per hour! Reached the West End at 10 o’clock.

Packy took us on a swift tour of one pub, three clubs and a café, all in Soho. The Purple Pup, The Cairo Club, The Windmill; The Café Bleu – a low place crowded with beastly dago Italians who chattered in their own filthy language. The first two clubs were uncannily quiet. At The Cairo, the band struck up that intoxicating tune “I’ve got you under my skin,” as we entered. Packy and Anne took the floor – there were no other dancers! – and I felt an utter worm. The time has come. I must learn to dance.

After 11 o’clock, we walked in the streets. Piccadilly Circus seemed very quiet for a festival night (I thought of New Year’s Eve!) but the girls did not know London and were very thrilled. One amusing incident: We took them along Glasshouse Street to see the long lines of watchful prostitutes. Vera had never seen a prostitute before and giggled as we passed one woman. “What do you want” snarled the girl, and used a word which I use but do not write.

Left the West End about 12:30; had some difficulty in finding the road out of Town. Vera was asleep when we reached Canvey. I carried her in, put her on my bed and wrapped the eiderdown around her. Then I went back to the car, got the suitcase and began to look through the reports! “This must be very tame for you” said Vera, quite apologetically , when she awoke. Eventually took Anne and Vera back to their digs; returned to Ashburton at 4:30.


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