Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tuesday 14th December 1937

Business becomes slacker. It’s natural; next week is Christmas Week – and the weather’s vile. Yesterday I sold one half gallon of paint. Today I sold two gallons and also collected £1 “cash towards settlement”… The calls in between were pretty fruitless however.

Each year I decide; “This winter I must learn to dance” Indeed I usually record the determination in my diary. Ever since the winter of 1933 I believe! This year I again make the resolution – but it’s gone a little further this time. I’m taking lessons at Margaret Goddard’s School. The fee is 2/6 for 30 minutes so it ought to be good. Had the first lesson this afternoon. Learnt to fox-trot. The walk, the chassee(?), the turn, the sidestep. Felt rather an awkward worm but not such an awkward worm as I had expected.

“Fantastic Flight” this evening. Am gradually picking up the jolly old drift of the thing. Afterwards, the other half of the class rehearsed their play. The Expert beckoned to me from a corner; I went across. “You know, you’re still not tender enough in that scene with Hope Tregoring” she admonished. I admitted that this was so and promised to improve. The Expert then left me; it was her cue in “Family Comedy”. I took a deep breath, shivered and glanced at Lady Macbeth-Hope Tregoring sitting very demurely in the front row. (She is rather demure.) Walking across to her I whispered, “Come to the back of the class. I want to discuss our scenes”. She came and we talked vaguely. I explained that we must be more affectionate “After all, we’re in love during that first scene y’know” (“Oh no, it’s the Expert that says so, not me, Oh yes!”) She agreed sedately. We discussed the play generally. I arranged our departure for the right moment. We came out simultaneously – I made sure of that too! “May I give you a lift home?” I enquired cautiously. “Yes!” she said gratefully, “If you go up the road”. “Oh I do” I said , truthfully this time.

Dashing out to the Zephyr I wound it up, made the engine roar and warm up. I was cleaning the windows when Lady Macbeth came, wearing a beret and looking amazingly like Margaret Dering, only not so thin and delicate. There was a thick fog; the Zephyr crawled along Victoria Avenue. “You live at 218, don’t you?” I remarked casually and rashly. “Now, how do you know that?” she exclaimed with natural amazement. I hastily became humorous! Number 218 was reached all too soon. I found that she lived at home and that Retallack was a Cornish name. Thought it was rather unusual!

What a fool! What a weed! What a specimen!


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