Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sunday 6th November 1938

An outing not so admirably suitable, today. Lois and I met Joan and Mick at Tilbury, 11:15 a.m. for a ramble in … Kent. We were satisfactorily blasé on the way down to Tilbury but whilst we waited there for the others I thought of what we were about to do – and it seemed awful! Brittle and shallow in Kent! At that moment Lois spoke, - “A penny for your thoughts!” I solemnly accepted the penny, lit my pipe and told her – that we might, if she liked, declare a truce whilst we were out of Essex. Just a few hours… Eventually, somewhat awkwardly, we agreed to do this. Joan and Mick arrived soon afterwards.

As the ferry boat neared Gravesend, Lois turned suddenly to me, alive again, vital again. “It was a jolly good idea and worth more than a penny!” (“What a lovely interlude in unpleasantness” I thought then, - in my ignorance.) Soon the four of us were swinging along the now familiar paths over the hills, through the woods.
Mick and I walked together. He discoursed gloomily on his quarrels with Joan.
(“Ironical,” I thought, “They’re at the height of a quarrel. We are in the midst of a temporary truce before we’re deliberately unhappy again”.)

The pipe tastes good.

We all sat on an old tree trunk in the woods, munching sandwiches, then smoking cigarettes. It was fairly warm. I had no tie, but a green scarf tucked into my open necked shirt. None of us wore hats. My rucksack now contained Lois’ mac and mine. Reserve cigarettes; a pack of cards; Lois’ mirror and hair comb; the map. We found a terrified rabbit trapped in the woods. Mick and I released the poor little creature.
I carried it to Lois, who held it gently in her arms. Joan had disappeared; we searched for her. Apparently Mick and she had again quarrelled, just before we discovered the rabbit…

Once I returned and found Lois sitting, just outside the woods, still nursing the rabbit. We kissed gently, above the little animals trembling body. Soon afterwards we released it. At first it remained still, but eventually, recovering, hopped slowly away.

I wandered along the top of a very deep railway cutting. So precipitous that I could not see men walking at the bottom of the embankment So high that I was above the tops of many trees on the other side. Through a gap in these trees, I eventually saw Joan, a long way off, walking back. Went to meet her, and found her coming up a narrow path through the woods. She was still awfully upset, saying she didn’t want to see Mick ever again; tears in her eyes. All I could do was to eventually accede to her passionate demands and lend her some money, so that she could walk back to Gravesend, then travel home. I last saw her walking fast along the road, happy-seeming again.

The others waited at the top of the hill; saw me return alone. There didn’t seem to be anything we could do. After some discussion, the three of us walked back to Cobham. Lois and I managed to keep Mick cheerful. Had quite a jolly tea at “The Little Dorrit”. Mick left us then, climbing aboard the bus (amid laughter) with his arms full of Lois’ wild bracken and leaves. We were alone and the truce still held…

Began the walk back towards Gravesend. But there was a quaintly shaped old tree beside the path. We stood beneath it, tight in each other’s arms. Then we lay down, and laughed, a little bitterly, at all the things we’d been doing to hurt one another. Lois had not been wearing her ring, except in public – for “blah” reasons. I now had to solemnly return it to the little finger where it lived. “Let’s call the pact off! I can’t stand it” said Angel. “Oh, I think it’s quite pleasant” I teased. She ignored this feeble wit. “Will you call it off? Do you want it to go on?”
She put her lips to mine, then took them away just far enough so that I could speak.
“Will you…?” What chance did I have with her mouth so close? And anyhow, I couldn’t have stood it much longer. I would have “called it off” if Angel hadn’t!

Good heavens, it was nearly half past nine! We hurried back to Cobham, hired a taxi and caught the Gravesend ferry. B and AV bellowed exultantly along the Southend Road. 50! 50! Must have been pleased that we’d come to our senses and awakened Love from his very short sleep. Only from the evening of November the fourth to the morning of November the sixth. That was all that Loischen and I could stand, without “tommyrot”.

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