Monday, March 24, 2008

Thursday 22nd September 1938

Fairly hectic day and a pleasant one. To a large extent business makes or mars my working days. And today was good on the road. (Zone 3 – The “short country journey” – with a £12 day brings the weeks turnover well above £40. Might easily be a record week.) Wasted much time at the start, searching for a Southend builder who’d promised an order for today. Didn’t find him. Service call in Hadleigh. Didn’t reach South Benfleet until midday. Very bad start. Small order from Alden; small order from Donner; first contact of a new prospect; a cheque from Hedges at Bowens Gifford. An unproductive call at Pitsea. Then, Wickford. Easton wasn’t in. Went to see Carter (JP) whose account was overdue. We talked about the political situation (they all do!) then discussed paint. Got a seven gallon order and a cheque in settlement of the April-June account! Saw Easton at last. An order. Quoted him for a forthcoming water paint job.

Past three by now and I felt damn empty inside. Did a little bit of office work then had sausages and mash and two cups of tea at a snug café. As I ate, I read a thrilling detective story by Phillip MacDonald. Contentment!

Back to South Benfleet. Something wrong with the dynamo of the B and AV. Bugger wouldn’t show a charge at all. Found Stevenson the builder and received a long and complicated order – discounts, references, patterns to be matched, shade card to be sent to Egham, inside and outside qualities… Past five by the time I was through.
Dashed to Thundersley (still no charge on the dial), and quoted our lowest and incredible prices to Wiggins, the estate developers. Took the car to a Rayleigh garage. Something electrical would have to be taken down. A three hour job, tomorrow morning.

So I hurried back to Eastwoodbury. Did my office work (all of it!) and had my tea inside twenty minutes! What ordinary clerk could do that? And could I, if I were a clerk? No damn fear!

Now I must – still in a rush – be off to the drill hall. Which reminds me of the political situation. During the last few days, the unfortunate Czech government has accepted (under pressure) the terms enforced by Germany – aided alas, by France and Britain. But tonight’s news headlines:- “New Tension” “Czech Government Falls!” “Military Dictatorship in Prague?” The crisis is back again.

Only one hour at Signals tonight; I first had to enrol for Dramatic Art (second year elocution, actually) at the School of Commerce. Night school recommences next week.
I joyfully received the sum of 10/5d from the Signals Quarter-master Sergeant. This was travelling expenses for taking car to and from camp… Wangle of course, It came in useful however!

An “extremely important” Company meeting is scheduled for next Monday. There’s been much speculation regarding what is to happen. The wildest rumours! We knew it was something to do with reorganisation… I sounded the Quarterbloke and he eventually informed me (“in confidence,” “of course it may not be true”) that we were to be closed down as a Signals unit and handed over en-bloc to the 1st Anti-Aircraft Division as a Searchlights Company. Searchlights! Home Service! Why, 193 Battery has more honour than that! They are Gunners! Haven’t the slightest interest in searchlights; and I was getting jolly interested in signalling. However, there may be an alternative.

We finished earlier than usual tonight (ominous, I thought) and I drove the B and AV to Rayleigh. Left her at the garage for repairs. Came by bus to Rochford Corner; walked from there, whistling, swinging my stick. End of a full day.


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