Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday 27th August 1938

I did not have to go to Colchester this morning. Visit postponed until 10:30 Monday.
How peaceful, luxurious and comfortable it seemed at the flat, Hawthorn Court. Wish I could live there! (But it would be a long way from Oakdene, Eastwood.)

Met Gwyneth Elaine Rowlands at Sutton, Surrey 6 p.m. When we last met, 18 months ago, we agreed to meet sometimes, so that we’d keep in touch, know the sequel to the time when for awhile, our lives ran close together. Gwyn, now BA Hons. is looking for a secondary school post in some remote corner of Britain. She’s just the same; an introvert; same little pleasant gestures; same inflection of voice.

We took a skiff on the Thames and sculled up to Runnymede. Returned to Nicholl’s boathouse at dusk. Walked in the garden of The Venture (Gwyn’s old digs), now empty and very deserted. We talked about Egham School, The Causeway, “Kapai”, Mr Walton, Mrs Stephens, the day of the King’s funeral, when we heard the guns… Walked through the woods near Virginia Water. “We were lucky to be near all this,” reflected Gwyn, who’d been talking of “those awful days”.

Went along the path where, on an all-night ramble with two friends, I saw moonshine glinting through leaves. Gwyn and I passed the spot where I first tried to kiss her. Leaned over a fence beneath a tree, above a noisy brook. Two years ago, here, we’d made a solemn pact to remain friends until separated by death or love. We are parted now, by love, but maybe we’ll still be friends. We stood on the banks of Virginia Water. Everything was as it was. We might have been in 1936, only we were not touching each other, now.

We drove through the darkness, back to Sutton. Stopped once, for two cups of tea, by a stall near Epsom – midnight. Told Gwyn of my engagement. She was incredulous, curious, intrigued. In that order! Unlike Anne, she didn’t think it need make any difference to our reunions.

Found my way back to Ealing quite successfully – not like that baffling drive in the Ford Ten, last time I was with Gwyn.

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