Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sunday 12th February 1939

A cup of tea in bed; a leisurely breakfast and cigarettes. John arrived just as I was backing Slinky B into the road.

We made the traditional call on Dick Young at Windsor. He was at home. He was comfortably attired in grey shorts, jersey and red sandals. We chatted a while; he was vaguely interested to hear that John was going to a new firm in Lancaster, with a commencing salary of £5-5-0 a week. Guess we’ve both left behind old Dick, who was once the wealthiest of the three.

Drinks with the Armstrong girls at “The Pack Horse”. The Armstrong girls seemed terribly so-so and empty – both of them! John (with “L” plates lashed fore and aft) drove the car to Virginia Water. Had lunch at a pleasant café opposite “The Wheatsheaf” We both hurried twice to the lavatory (surplus beer) had a double portion of soup, guffawed loudly at the meagre helping of kidney beans and actually exhausted their supply of roast potatoes.

Leaving the car in the Park we walked right around Virginia Water. Have seldom completely encircled the Water in one walk. Memories! The Falls which Margaret Dering climbed, whilst John and I cheered her on; The path among the bushes, into which a suspicious policeman once pursued me, as I aimlessly wandered; the seat on which Peggy and I sat and discussed cousinly affection (“Then I picked her up and threatened to drop her!”) John and I had marched along here, with Lucien, Pepita and brother Dick.

Now we were on the far side. The Water on our right, almost unexplored parkland on our left. Crossed occasionally. Gwyn, carrying a terrier in her arms… the airfield – weird and desolate – of the Prince of Wales, who had since become King of England, and abdicated and gone away. The fire in the woods, that night… The tall railings, another night; Peggy climbed down again, said, “No, it isn’t the lake and now I’m frightened…” Yes, crossed occasionally but still, mainly unexplored.

Oh! On the airfield was a monument and still further away another – the Copper Horse: I’d climbed that one night, whilst Dick Young stood below… Of course, below there was the road from Bishopsgate to Forest Park. We cycled along that, John, Dick and I. I once came through alone in the rutting season, when the deer were restless…
Oh! Memories! What did John and I talk about as we tramped around the lake – by the ruins where Gwyn laughed suddenly, by the stones where Lois and I watched ducks whilst we imagined bloody War was about to break; the Park through which Edward VIII drove on his way to sign the Deed of Abdication?

We chatted about old times a little; discussed people; swapped filthy yarns; told a few “hot” stories; sat on the rocks at the very end of the lake whilst John expounded Plans for the Expansion of the Blacksheep Club. John drove home to Staines. Did quite well. We parted, vaguely arranging to meet again shortly.

Drove home – still with “L” plates mounted and had a thrilling race along the Great West Road with a V8, a Wolsely and a Hudson. The four of us rushed from group to group of slower moving cars, and by the lack of traffic and traffic blocks, I eventually got in front and held my lead until I turned off. The pursuing big cars must have been furious to see the “learner” get ahead!

Happy evening at home. Nice to be with my own people again. Mother confided that father’s business was pretty grim – in fact worse than mine, refrigeration proving rather a “racket”. She confided also that money was pretty “tight” and that the future did not look too rosy. “He always lives up to it, doesn’t he?”

At teatime, a little refrain was being played, on the wireless. “Nice people – with nice manners, But got no money at all…” I leaned over to mother. “I think we’re “nice people” don’t you? Her eyes laughed. “Yes – and I don’t care a damn!”


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