Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday 4th September 1937

My weekend’s holiday began badly. A mosquito bit me in the night – the bastard! Two bites on the forehead, one on the mouth. When I awoke, my lower lip was horribly swollen. Furthermore, the post was late; so I could not dash off to Staines after breakfast, as planned. Instead I went out and bought some Witch Hazel for my mouth. By this time the swelling made it difficult to eat or smoke. My lower lip looked like a balloon and the swelling extended inside my mouth also.

However the second post arrived at 11:30 and brought the usual daily letter from Sherwood House. Nothing that required immediate attention. There was a cheque for £7-9-11, commission up to June 30th. Things began to brighten!

I caught the 12:45 up and found myself able to smoke again. Staines by 2:30 and the sun shining! At three o’clock John and I were punting upstream. My mouth began to feel less uncomfortable as I became happier. Around Witchery; through Bell Weir Lock (for the first time; a curious sensation as the water rises).

Up the Runnymede reach. Had tea at the roadside snack bar where I – an impoverished student – used to lunch, hoping Mr Val would not notice me when he passed. We tied up just below the road, and sat in the punt eating our pastries and rolls and drinking our tea. Then we paddled idly upstream, as far as the old boathouse.
(Gwyn and I sheltered here once, during a sudden shower. The year previous I used to swim here, and dive off the landing stage.) Now, one cannot land or moor at the old boathouse. A riverside Club has sprung up there.

We paddled or punted, not very energetically, back to Staines. At a stationer’s in Thames Street, I bought a further supply of the note books which I use for diaries. The old man was pleased to see me again; wondered where I had gone. Afterwards we went to the pictures.

Came out at 10:45, had supper at Pat’s. (What memories in the Thames side district!)
Walked back to Melville (I was to sleep there). It was past midnight. I went into John’s bedroom whilst he finished a story – what was it? “Devil’s Garden”? Something like that. Then I went to my own room, read “Men Only” for a few minutes, realised my mouth felt easy again. Switched off the light: fell asleep.

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