Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunday 7th May 1939

Called at about 9:45 with a cup of tea. Leisurely breakfast. Mad Willy called just as I was ready, at 11 o’clock. (No collar or tie, just a jersey) We drove, not very hurriedly, to Henley o Thames, by roads which were not frequented by much traffic. Bright sunshine! Warm winds!

Took out a skiff and rowed lazily on the high-running river. Mad Willy told me of his latest (unhappy) love affairs. The position was reversed once upon a time! We had green salad and hot, thirst quenching tea at a café in Henley. The green Chilterns loomed over the town. We went up into the hills! A motor cycle scramble was taking place on the hillside. Following a stream of cars down a country lane, we found the place. Referring now to my Middle Thames large-scale map I reckon it was in the Bald Hill district, near Hawknor. Motor cycles rushed madly down bumpy paths and up incredibly steep slopes. It was better than Brooklands. And when the roar of straining engines stopped, and the pungent smells of burnt petrol drifted away, one suddenly found oneself still in the country, in the sunshine, in the green land; with birds singing. “Beautiful Bucks” indeed!

We eventually had tea in the sunlit garden of the Chequers Inn at Fingest, with “nice people” all around. Fingest in the hollow, with green, wooded hills rolling above. We sat there until the shadows lengthened and I remembered I had a seventy mile journey ahead of me. Marlowe, Maidenhead, Windsor. The roads were thick with cars rushing homewards, now. But – bless them all! They’d been out in the day’s peaceful sunshine!

I left Mad Willy in Egham. “Cheerio old man”, da-di-dah-di on the hooter and then, even before Slinky B was in top gear, I felt horribly desolate and lonely. Called in at Hawthorn Court. There’s no telephone now; Father didn’t look too happy. Richard has been ill. I’m hoping he’ll be able to come and stay with me for a few days.

The North Circular Road and hurrying through the night, eastwards, eastwards. I turned off the main road at Laindon onto a bumpy squalid roadway where an un-even ridge showed that sewers had been laid down recently. Yes, this was Essex!


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