Thursday, June 26, 2008

Saturday 15th July 1939

Historic day, said the papers. The first day in England’s peace time history that there have been conscripts in khaki. Yes, today, 30,000 militiamen (courtesy title for conscripts) reported at their depots for training!

Personally this was also an historic day in that Lois at last cast off the shackles of parental domination and started work alone. Drove her from Oakdene, baggage in the back seat, into north Essex and a countryside that grew gradually lovelier as we left the marshes behind. The White Hart was at a pretty village called Great Yeldham, nearly on the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk borders, I should imagine.

We stopped in a country lane a few miles away, had luncheon sandwiches and tea ex thermos. Made our private adieux here. As I could not be her fiancé, I had become her brother, Stephen Rogers, thus having an excuse for occasional official calls beside furtive visits!

Great Yeldham seemed a sweet place, beside the Colne. The White Hart was a delightful old timbered house. Definitely a hotel although Lois will probably pose to her old friends as a barmaid at a village pub. Mrs Nankivell, who was quite young, seemed a decent sort. I’m sure she sensed no connection between the cautious deep-voiced Mr Dawson and young Rogers in his gay school blazer, who spoke in tenor accents! Having taken Lois’ luggage up I left her. Casual farewell, as fitted our relationship – “Cheerio” “Good-bye and good luck, Sis”. I drove away. Lois and her employer – fair and dark - walked slowly across a meadow without a backward glance. I felt a bit sick – like the first day of term at school. Dammit, anyone might think I had got the new job, not Lois!

Flicks at Chelmsford.

Sat up in the evening some time, writing letters. One) To the Income Tax people. The usual fierce battle for rebate is in full swing now! Two) To the Special Branch, Scotland Yard, offering to do a little spare-time counter espionage work. Doubtless nothing will come of it but if I had not written I’d have worried about it, having once conceived the idea! Three) To Lois, so that she’d have a letter by the first possible post, to relieve any loneliness.


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