Monday, March 10, 2008

Saturday - Monday 4th, 5th and 6th June 1938

Glorious interlude; from miserable weather and rotten business – three days at Hindhead, with the sun blazing! I’m writing this several days later; can’t give a detailed account of this Whitsun holiday at a CHA Guest House. I’ll just record a few incidents which are still predominant in my memory.

A) The journey to Surrey in Zephyr, with Lois and Pa Shervill. The forth place was taken by our kits.

B) A pause at Hawthorn Court for coffee. “My Dear, she’s one of us!” said mother, speaking of Lois.

C) Lunch at a roadside hotel near Godalming. Afterwards we went in a skiff on the Wey. First sculling this season.

D)Good food, good companions, lovely surroundings… The Guest House. Free and easy, informal, healthy atmosphere. My bedroom in the chalet. Mick, a substitute for John, and a good one.

E) Lois ecstatic as we strolled through the woods. That lovely gesture when she reached behind with her hands, glanced over her shoulder at me…

F) Ella, Grace, Phyllis, John Fletcher – the host and my room-mate, - the Sec.

G)Rendezvous with Lois, at the bottom of the woods, above the pool. Twilight. I saw her coming through the trees. In the house above they were beginning to dance (“Some gay fragment of a mocking tune”).

H) The long tramp across the heather whilst I lit pipe after pipe, silent and content. Everything lazy but my legs. Lying beside Mick, staring at the blue sky. He felt “in the mood to philosophise” but it was not worth the effort.

I)The inn where we had tea and then the paths and lanes. Striding free and untired as the afternoon became evening.

J) Ella, Grace, Kathleen, Lois, Phyllis, Mick and I lay dozing in a grassy lane.
Lois sighed. Lois left us; she lay down on the hillside above, face in the grass, aloof. I got up also. Nobody stirred, yet everyone knew… I lay face down beside Lois. I can’t remember what we talked about but it was something happy, eventually. She said she came away from the others because she missed me.

K) The rising bell, the bird’s song, the shower baths, the comradeship. John Fletcher talking about remote things as we lay in our beds. I could flick cigarette ash through the window, by my head. Mick and I going into a shop for lemonade, letting the others walk on.

L) The all day walk, around the Punch Bowl, across the hills. Kathleen’s sprained ankle. I stayed with her at the end of the column of walkers. Sometimes our little group would see the rest tramping on ahead, or one of them would wait to make sure we followed the right turning. Lois, lying at the top of a bank, waiting for us.
The amazingly plucky, cheerful Secretary, who led us, despite a crippled leg.

M) Kathleen and I arrived late at the luncheon tent. There was a seat kept for me, between Mick and Lois; sandwiches and a cup of tea. John Fletcher made Kathleen and her ankle comfortable on the floor. (She caught a bus home, afterwards.)

N) Lois trying to sneak down the road with my rucksack. Mick grinning.

O) A sandy track, and I walked in front of anyone else, seemingly alone.

P) Sunshine, wind, laughter. The heavy, comfortable rucksack.

R)Lois and I and four others lay on a hilltop. The rest were below in the valley.

S) Lois and I using my rucksack as a pillow, heads touching, whilst Mick lay nearby, reading an essay he’d written – All three of us lazy under the sun.

T) We’d dropped behind, but first Grace and then Ella waited at places where the path divided, to direct us. (“She’s an angel!” exclaimed Mick and I simultaneously.)

U) Tea in a garden. The bloke who worked a gramophone record with his finger. The quiet, elderly lady who told fortunes by cards and suddenly became capable and interesting. The Rev. Greening who talked of psychology, nerves and mental disease.

V) The refreshing shower bath and hearty dinner. Everyone looking clean, suntanned, healthy.

W) Drive to the station with Mick; and “Auf Wiedersehn”.

X) The evening dance. Lively set pieces ie: “Stripping the Willow, Dashing White Sergeant, Russian Ballet”. I was a perfect fool and didn’t care a bit. Ella, Grace and Phyllis tutored me.


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