Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday 5th September 1937

Up about 10:30. John lent me his dressing gown for the journey to the bathroom.

This time we went upstream in a double sculling skiff. “Shot” Staines Bridge at speed and paced by a motor boat, reached Witchery in record time. Struggled up the Colne, to Bell Weir pool. John steered downstream without any way on the boat. He struck the bank once, near the mouth. Not a bad performance. I, meanwhile, lounged low in the boat, staring upward at the trees and blue sky moving slowly past.

We paddled around Witchery standing in the boat like gondoliers, the long skulls dipping together. From Staines Bridge to Beddells we crouched on the thwarts, heaving frantically. I sighed as we crossed to the Middlesex side in the ferry boat. Good bye to the river again. No! Auf wiedersehen! Before the summer has altogether fled – I will come back!

Several hours of hot and sticky travel, to the county of Essex; to Southend with it’s tykish youths in “Natty” suitings; from Southend to Eastwoodbury. It is quiet at Eastwoodbury.

And now – half past eleven – I am sitting in my bedroom. The window, facing southwards, is open wide. I can hear the roar of traffic on the arterial road, half a mile away across the fields. I can see Westcliffs street lights and above, a bright planet – is it Jupiter? By my elbow is the alarm clock (Bought 18 months ago, it shows signs of age. The ticking ceases when it stands as clocks should stand; so, like a senile invalid, it lies all day on it’s back.)

On the wall are two framed tracts: “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14.1) and “Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100.2) Near the latter tract a section of squared paper is pinned, showing a zig zag graph and headed “Turnover 1937. Weekly. Estimated” Beyond this in the corner, is a map of Essex on which Area A is shown by inky lines. What else can I see here? Files, note books, the hissing gas light. My tunic hangs on the back of a chair. On the shoulders I can see, “T” and “RA”. There are no stripes on the sleeves!

Tomorrow, the suit case and push bike. Not for long though. I’ll soon have a car.
Within a month. One little month – less than that!


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