Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday 22nd January 1939

Met John at Chelmsford this morning and drove to a disused lane near Sandon. Here we met Peter, Joan and Mick with Mick’s car; and Lois, Joan Baillie and Ted Tutton with Ted’s car. Several introductions were necessary! I had not met Joan Baillie since the treasure hunt at The General Hospital, when she introduced me to her cousin, Ted.

In convoy, we drove to Danbury. Had to pass through a flooded ford. I took it very cautiously but the others, when their turns came, dashed madly through. Left the cars at The Spinney Café, had some coffee and arranged to be back for tea. This being a communistic effort, no one was in charge of the party. I led for a couple of miles then handed over to John. Climbed onto a haystack for our lunch sandwiches (amid much excitement, several people being pushed down again).

A warm, damp wind. Afterwards we tramped alongside a river in flood. Joan P had her toy dog and Joan B a dog that was almost an Alsation. A rabbit ran into a post and fell, stunned, into the river. Peter got it out and tried to kill it. “Let me have it” said Ted the vet, and, holding it at arms length, struck it twice with a stick, on the neck.

Ted, Peter, John and I walked precariously over a wooden rail stretched above a ditch. John, wearing boots, had great difficulty! Mick looked on with faint amusement. Mick and Joan B now led. Lois and I rejoiced to see them so much together as this rather hoisted-with-her-own-petard Joan Pryor, who always likes to desert poor Mick and mildly monopolise any new men she discovers.

A drizzle of rain. We tramped fairly aimlessly through woods. Joan Baillie made realistic horse neighings and Peter his celebrated cow moos. John and I vaulted a five bar gate. John again handicapped by the boots, had a heavy fall. Peter and Ted found some rotten trees in a wood and shook them until the tops fell off. This game ended when Ted got a crack on the head!

We wandered comfortably over common lands and along hilly shrub paths – not at all typical of flat, grey Essex. Tea at The Spinney, with our two tables joined near the fire. Ted, John and I at one table had bacon and egg. Lois, - who sat with us – and the rest had toast etc. As we three finished with bread, butter and marmalade, it seemed just like breakfast!

Drove to Woodham Walter (or maybe Woodham Mortimer!) where there was a cosy pub. Lois – having been in bed with a dose of influenza – was very tired by now. Joan Pryor in her usual impulsive, somewhat theatrical manner, suddenly went off to the nearest Church. Peter and Mick escorted her. Joan Baillie and Ted hovered in puzzlement beside my car. “Aren’t you going too, Ted?” I asked. “Well… er…” His horror and bewilderment was lovely.

John and I carried Lois into the saloon bar. We played darts and had cider and beer. Lois also had an aspirin. When the others returned, we had a darts match and, at a loss for a way of making up “sides” eventually split into “military” and “non-military” teams. Lois, John, Ted and I were “The Guns” whilst the two Joans, Mick and Peter were sneeringly called “The Umbrellas”. Our team cheered itself to victory by cries of “Poona!” “Shoot, Bombardier!” and heckled our opponents to defeat by groans of “Come on the Brollies!” “Try and keep on the board!” Yes! We won the last two games out of three!

(“By Gad, what?” said Ted. “It isn’t playing a straight bat!”)

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