Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday 2nd July 1937

A bad day for business, although I eventually settled Mr Brockbanks queries about the hospital specification. Had to be somewhat firm with the old boy! Before leaving I offered him a pipeful of Balkan Sobrani, which he accepted, thus making “contact still pleasant”.

At lunchtime I felt utterly fed-up and went into a shop in Southend Road for an ice-cream. A good looking girl owned the place and fortunately for me she was in a cheerful mood. We discussed Southend and its foul inhabitants, Eastwoodbury and its church, her home and my digs. She sold me the idea of staying with her people as a P.G. in the winter. Perhaps I will!
She lives at Westcliff, is about 28 and rather resembles my cousin Marjorie.

Went to the pictures with Travers in the evening. He shook hands with me after supper and asked for my new address. I gave him Dry Street. (I have a feeling that the Dry Street address may someday prove useful. Seems silly!) “Don’t come to Dry Street”, I said. “Why?” “Because I shall not be there”. He did not understand but anyhow, he’s been warned!

This is the last night at No 19 and I feel reminiscent. Although it will be lovely to get into the country I feel rather as though it is not worth the effort. All my possessions around… No undignified journeys by bicycle with the luggage this time. I’ve hired a car. The time is midnight. I’m writing this in my bedroom. Have just done something which pleases my secret self. Wrote to a firm of printers in Town asking for their prices for visiting cards. It is only a small firm. I met the owner-salesman in the King’s Head saloon bar one lunchtime – March 18th 1935 actually. (A diary can be useful sometimes!) Mr Mitchell can congratulate himself on his personality selling!

Glancing at that old diary – Dawn 1935 – I came to an agonised entry regarding Peggy – “If only I could have met her in 1937 not 1933…! And if I had? But then it would not have been first love." “…But perhaps I shall. Who dare guess at the future?”

It is 1937, but I do not think Peggy and I will meet. We’ve gone different ways from Egham and she’s married now. I wonder who it is? Not Arthur. Strange how one looks back on old love affairs. Some do not fail to stir the imagination, even when all is surely over. Perhaps the unhappy loves remain keenest in the memory. Bitter-sweetness.

Again I turn the leaves of old diaries. April of Dawn 1935. “The six great loves!” That used to be a toast of mine in pubs! Of these six I have experienced two… (The “Six great” came after Peggy). Those two were-

“…Trains seen from a field at night; cool dawn breezes; “Night must fall…” I had the impression of a long passage with rustling dead leaves…Came out of the gate. It closed…”

And the second –

“…Slowly put on her coat and scarf. Everything was slow. History. “Grotesque” she said, afterwards… We had fantastic dreams as we sat there, looking at the red heart of the fire (and the dark river just below)… If she were here she would tell me some word which explained, illustrated…However I must think alone now… Response! Perhaps that is the word she would have chosen…”

Dear memories! If I live to be old, will they make me happy?

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