Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sunday 26th February 1939

Catastrophe. Went to Colchester in Slinky B this morning, with Embleton, Sergeant Quayle and Shead as passengers. Near Kelvedon we caught up the van and a W/T truck. I was about 15 yards behind the truck; then I was 10 yards. Suddenly his red rear light flicked. I stamped on the foot brake and also put the handbrake full on. We slid helplessly forward still. “Blast!” Crash! (Thought followed by sound.)

The front of Slinky B was rather messed up, as the impact occurred above the bumper. Truck undamaged. After several blokes had pulled the outside mud guard away from the wheel we were able to continue on our way. Everyone agreed that I hadn’t had time to pull up but I personally think my brakes weren’t good enough. However I kept that to myself.

99.5% on he buzzer at rates (6 w.p.m.) Did a lot of buggering about in the afternoon. There are some very silly kids in the unit; I feel quite middle-aged sometimes. Had coffee at lunchtime with the Sergeant and Embleton. As we sat there we saw a group of boy signallers swagger past into the town, showing-off their uniforms. Just like Thurmaston Scouts, as I said before!

Arrived back in Chelmsford without further incident. My three passengers were probably a little nervous. Symptoms – intense road-consciousness; they could hardly talk of anything else! The silliness of the other people on the road, the nasty turns, the accident, results and repercussions of the accident and so on.They were so aggressively giving me moral support that I became quite nervous myself! Can’t blame them. It was their first drive with me and I’d had a smash!

Called at Sewell and Kings. The boy mechanic said he couldn’t do anything until tomorrow and by the look of the car, repairs would take at least a week! Went home; wrote letters arising out of the accident. Cancellations etc, and a request for an insurance claim form.

Lois rang at 5:15p.m. just as I was having tea. Oasis! She’d walked there from Danbury, having been on a Club ramble. She, also, was just about to have tea.
So when I’d finished mine and of course changed, I went up to the Oasis. As I’d no headlights left and only one side light, I couldn’t take her home but eventually saw her off on the 7:45 bus to Billericay. (There she would have to change for Eastwood.)

Back to the digs. A warm fire and everyone out. Ignoring (or rather shelving) tomorrows troubles, I copied out a lovely poem recently discovered. “The Hollow Man” by TS Elliot. Modernistic poem in blank verse about those inhibited beings who never do anything, never complete anything; unfulfilled.

“…Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion…
… Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow.
For thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is…”

“The Hollow Man” is now inscribed in my special note book (started eight years ago) with “I am the best thing they did”, “Richard 2” (John of Gaunt’s speech), “When you are old”, “Desertion”, “It’s not true”, “Requiem” and other dear things.

Just as I’d finished writing Wylie came in (the only one of my fellow diggers who has returned from the weekend holiday, so far). He obligingly fetched me a bottle of cider, then played and beat me at chess. It took a long time however! I’m improving, because when we last played, he won in a few moves. On this occasion the balance was on my side until I foolishly lost my Queen through carelessness.


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