Monday, April 21, 2008

Saturday 31st December 1938

We had our morning cups of tea. Arose and washed and dressed; had breakfast, signed the book. (Mr and Mrs Davidson again.) Our adventure was nearly over; we decided that as soon as we left Amersham we’d switch over to our old selves, (“There is no deceiver like the self deceiver”) so that we’d have a chance to get used to the idea.
We went back to our room to finish packing. Suddenly a wireless was turned on. A swift gay tune, popular a few years ago –

“The birds can fly, up in the sky,
Just so high and no more…
There’s a limit to the minutes in an hour,
The raindrops in a shower, the petals in a flower,
But there isn’t any limit to my love for you!…”

We were ready. Angel turned to go. I drew her back for one last wife-kiss. “Oh, don’t” she whispered. “It isn’t good bye. Only auf wiedersehen. We’ll come back.”
Perhaps the dying Davidsons and Chattans said this, through our lips. They were trying, perhaps, to say that they were not dying, only falling asleep.

When Slinky B reached the crest of steep Amersham Hill and headed for Beaconsfield, we were not married, only engaged. No wedding ring in sight. Lois and Stephen again.
We did not feel sad for long. It had been such a grand holiday!

Saturday 31st December – Continued – New Years Eve

It began with John’s arrival at 3 Hawthorn Court. This was announced by a ring on the bell and a wail from some semi-musical instrument. John lounged outside, holding a toy concertina; wearing a red, white and blue rosette in his button-hole. We three drove up to Town. Reached St George’s Hospital at about 7:45p.m. Of course no visitors were admitted but we pushed John forward and in broad north-country tones he blandly explained that he’d just come up from Yorkshire to see his sister, Pepita Dawson. Under these special circumstances he was admitted. So we all trooped into the ward and had a few minutes with Pep – who last year celebrated New Years Eve with us but now lay in bed after weeks and weeks of rheumatic fever. Not looking too fit but quite bright; some people have amazing pluck in illness. (Maybe some day I’ll have the chance to discover my courage in this direction – but I hope not!)

My car had been (illegally) left in Hyde Park but a kind-hearted policeman had assured me he would not look at it for a few minutes. We next drove to Westbourne Terrace and parked Slinky B outside Marjorie’s unoccupied flat. Left my flask of whisky and John’s bottle of awful rum, but brought away Lois’ bottle of Liebfraumilch.

Dinner at the old rendezvous – Schmidt’s. Crowded, we were lucky to get a table. A jolly meal. Eyeing the new, gay and daring Lois, I realised that this “threesome” – sometimes a difficult group – should be quite a success. Lois treated John and I to cigars. We smoked them smugly. To our intense delight they were not charged on the bill! I told her “Damen” meant “Ladies” and gave directions. Later, she asked me for some pennies and went! John’s trick with the tickets – and the aggrieved, unjollified collector, who did not appreciate the humour of the joke, at all. The gramophone recording voices in Coventry Street. John’s excitement. Lois said, eyes laughing, “I’m glad John looks on me as one of the blokes. He shouted, “Oh, the bloody sod!” just now and then said he was sorry!”

11:30p.m. The Circus beginning to get crowded. Lois looked all about her with cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling. She’d never seen this before! We bought paper hats, a whistle and a thing that blew out and squeaked. Coffee in the perfectly sober little Viennese Café in Denman Street.

Five to midnight. Dense crowd in Shaftesbury Avenue suddenly surged away from the Circus. Women began to faint. The crowd thinned. John walked steadily sideways against the tide. It gave way! We reached the centre of the Circus. Past midnight. Lois kissed us both.

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