Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Saturday 11th February 1939

The sun shone - in Surrey, by the Thames! Called at John’s, saw his huge array of tea chests and cabin trunks, ready for despatch. Left my kit at Mrs Stephens. (I stood in the bedroom, felt old memories all about me, was suddenly sad. What a thrilling sadness it is, that makes one quickly catch one’s breath!)

Tea and dinner with Jack Hose, at Ashford. He admired the new car, showed me how to play Bridge (Contract), displayed his garden, tools and cars. His sister discussed “the servant problem” with me, advising me when married, to engage an elderly maid, not a flighty young thing. Jack and I talked of the Pageant days – of Runnymede and Langley. He played the familiar old pieces on his piano – Coates “By the Sleepy Lagoon” and “Jealousy”.

Left Dearbrook soon after 8 p.m. and drove to Weybridge. Arrived about 9 o’clock and Win (delightfully unconventional) was ready to come out. Drove some distance along a main road, left Slinky B in a muddy bridle path in a wood, and walked along a country road. A longish walk, sometimes through an avenue of trees, sometimes through dark unseen country fields. Passed two pubs, both closed. Went back to the car – Win told a pleasantly creepy story about a homicidal lunatic as we went. Being curious, dashed back along the lane with Slinky, and discovered that the village or town to whose outskirts we had walked, was called Effingham.

Drove slowly back to Weybridge, singing in unison. The latest songs: “Nice people, with nice manners, but got no money, at all” and “When the cry of “Sweet scented lavender” comes to haunt me so – I recall the scent of the lavender, when we met long ago…”

We approached the turning into Win’s road. “Heigho! I’d like to drive on like this” said I. “Well, let’s” said Win. So we sang through Weybridge, Addlestone and Chertsey. Singing older songs now: “Lazybones”, “Don’t blame me”, “Let’s call it a day”, “Isn’t it lovely” and “The clouds will soon roll by”.

We reached Staines Bridge at 1 o’clock and – glory be! – a snug little café was open. “I say, you’re not on the verge of closing, are you?” I asked uneasily. “We’re never on the verge of closing when there are customers” said the lady nicely. We had quite a decent feed of bacon, egg and chips, followed by coffee. Just below the window, the Thames rippled darkly by.

Having taken Win home, I got into my bedroom just as Staines Town Hall clock made it’s – oh so heavenly familiar! – tinkle and chimed two. I found a couple of Yankee magazines beside the bed and read a fairly blood-curdling story before I reached above my head and switched off the light.

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