Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saturday 8th January 1938

The Rambling Club’s Weekend in Surrey. Droning cars; strange, serious conversations; happy tramping in the Surrey hills; boisterous laughter and tomfoolery… Bizarrerie!…

Called for “Pa” Shervill at 9:45. (He is 76… Poet. Failing eyesight. A good walker. Nervous of traffic – his age shows in little ways like that. Sharp witted – dry repartee. The pathos of age which mixes with youth and tries to keep the same pace…)

After one business call, we left Leigh at 10:30 a.m. Had a snack – I also had a drink – at the Zuyder Zee, a quaint roadhouse near Ashford. A dance floor and a bar (members only) The place has possibilities! Collected John at Staines, 1:15. Packed his things in my ruc-sack; ha acted as the navigator until we reached New Malden and picked up the dominating, energetic Lois. Usually dashed about in an important looking Vauxhall. Not very impressed by the Zephyr (She calls it a “noisy tin”.)

I joined the AA yesterday and so carried a gleaming badge on the stem of Zephyr. I fervently hoped we should meet a Scout, thus regaining prestige. And we did! I returned his salute with calculated nonchalance. “You belong to the AA?” asked the amazed Lois. “Of course” I said solemnly, “Who doesn’t?”. John of course knew all about it. I glanced in the driving mirror and saw his delighted face. We were both silently convulsed for some moments!

At Dorking, we met les autres.

1) Mr Hammond, a quiet, elderly individual.
2)Ella Dorken, the middle aged, placid leader, and
3) Joan Yeatlee (of Yeatlee’s, Hadleigh) Fairly young, not pretty. Nicer, cleverer and more well bred than would be at first apparent.

Seven of us tramped through the rain. Tea at a smelly little café in Westcott. “A cat” I muttered. “Noah” said Yorkshire John, “Ten cats” “Twenty cats!” “One hundred cats!” “Every cat in Surrey!” we bellowed with extreme vulgarity.

In the evening we reached Brackenside Guest House, Peaslake. Our wet coats and ruckers were taken away to be dried; we were shown our rooms. John and I in a double. At 7:30 we descended to a luxurious dinner. (Maid serving from one’s elbow and all that!) Then to the drawing room. A maid arrived with coffee on a silver tray – I had a black. Ping-pong on a ripping large table. John licked everyone with his smashing strokes – allowed me 10 points, too! Everyone beat me except Lois. I was determined to beat her, and did. Two successive games. Curiously, she was a better player than some of the others but somehow I had to win.

Later, sitting by the fire, I discovered a kindred spirit! Lois is practical and yet aesthetic! They played Lexicon but when Lois, John and I returned it was Pontoon. Twelve matches = 1d! Mr Hammond bought at 19 and twisted at 20! Not once but several times! “Aye, you’re bust all right” said John crushingly as he glanced at Mr Hammond’s cards, “Twenty six…”

Bed, midnight or so. John and I discussed poor Mr Hammond with guffaws of mirth. Then we discussed his (John’s) relatives and various soothing and unimportant matters. Finally we (simultaneously, I think) fell asleep.

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