Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday 20th August 1938

Anne, at Hatfield Broad Oak. Picnic tea in a cornfield. Talking of anything but my engagement. A pleasant voice talking quietly of unexciting things. Aimless drive. Picked some wheat from a field by the roadside and had a feed. Parked the car somewhere near a place called Stanstead something and strolled as twilight drew near.
Leaned on a gate and lazily watched rabbits at play. Bobbing white tails. Turning our backs to the rabbits, we looked up and westward, and saw clouds moving slowly across the darkening blue sky. We made fantastic pictures. In the clouds we saw an old lady, a merman, a pursuing monster, an island with trees and a lovely lagoon, a ship on the sea, a reef. We could even imagine the reflections of trees at the water’s edge… The clouds became darker as we idly talked until they were – night clouds. (“And night ends all things”)

Journey back. The serene voice began to talk, still quietly – “We must not meet any more… Even this was a mistake… It cannot do any good… I shall only be hurt, eventually… Under the circumstances, it would be awful if I became fond of you…” We went into a pub at Hatfield Broad Oak. “Let’s drink to our different roads” I said.
It was sweet to be in the parlour of a village pub and – being with a village girl – feeling “at home” not like a passing traveller or a stranger. “Cheerio!” said Anne, raising her glass, eyes agleam…

Back near her cottage, we delayed the irrevocable moment of parting. Sat in the car talking about each other, and old times. Eventually, however, we got out, walked up to the silent house. A faint smile in the darkness across the gate.

“Well, goodbye”
“Goodbye, Anne”

Steps down the quiet road, back towards the car. “Maybe I’ll walk with and maybe – I’ll talk with – the girl in – the Alice blue gown…” A silly, irrelevant tune to whistle.


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