Sunday, March 02, 2008

Saturday 5th March 1938

Awoke at 8 o’clock. I thought, “It’s a lovely day, and Saturday, and I’ll be seeing Pat…” I glanced through the mail – a rather chaotic one – and slept again. 9:30.
Then I had to get up and go on the road – to phone the Office and collect a cheque. (Did not get that blasted cheque until 3:30 incidentally.)

This afternoon Pat and I motored to Creeksea and walked along the seawall. Once I lifted her from a high fence, swung her in my arms. At teatime we went to the Bluebird Café, Nevedon, because Pat liked the large fireplace there. The fireplace was suitably snug. Drove back fast along the Arterial Road. Pat sat very silent beside me, holding my electric torch. Every now and then the torch flickered under her fingers and I could see her gazing, solemnly enrapt, at the reflection of her weirdly illuminated face, in the windscreen. Child! This pleasant silence made my hair crinkle delightfully. First time I’ve had “breadcrumbs” at 50 mph.

Later that evening, after we had driven Mrs Retallack and Joan (Pat’s “delicate” sister) home from the Pictures, I put the car on a piece of waste ground opposite no. 218. Pat told me more about Joan. “Mentally deficient.” She used the phrase quite bluntly. (I had felt it but did not dare to think it. One night when she laughed at a not very funny joke of mine. “I don’t like that laugh.” I had whispered to myself and an uncanny feeling had come.) The mind of a child of twelve; unable to read or write. No, no likelihood of any improvement, during the last few years she seemed to be getting worse… She is damn plucky, the girl who tells me this about her sister, I thought. Pat said that her sister was born at a troublesome time; forceps delivery and the doctor may have been inefficient… But all the same it might be only coincidence – but her Father’s uncle was not altogether…

We then discussed hereditary insanity. And who was to look after Joan when mother and father were dead? Wondered Pat. No relatives. The only thing was that if she got married and if her husband was decent, Joan could live with them… After this serious talk I played with her fingers and we took each others pulse rate. Then we returned to no. 218 and had supper.

I left at 12 o’clock. As I closed the gate I looked back. Someone stood in the doorway and waved. It was Pat.

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