Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday 6th July 1939

Cold wind – heat – rain. Generally the weather nowadays is oppressive, with a few hours of coldness, a high wind or drizzle of rain that does not seem to freshen the land. Anything but healthy!

The bloody windscreen wipers have ceased working again. The motor went back to the makers only two months ago. It was examined tonight and the garage hand stated that it seemed the same proceeding was necessary again. Wrote a polite letter to Reynolds of Dagenham, through whom the job was done last time, when I returned home tonight.

Discovered the mystery behind Phyllis Clarke’s disappearance this afternoon. (She became engaged about the same time as myself and when I last saw her, some months ago, was radiantly happy and expecting to be married anytime to a dream-like fiancé who did everything “in a big way”, was in the British secret service, held a degree and would someday hold an important position in the Government. Then she suddenly disappeared.)

I began to get quite worried about her, especially as my inquiries, at first casual, were evaded by her parents at the tobacco shop. They are loquacious people but whenever Phyllis’ name was mentioned their faces became mask-like. Eventually, today, I asked Mrs. Clarke point-blank if anything was wrong with Phyllis? Was she in any trouble? (looking her in the eye meanwhile.) Mrs. Clarke wept a bit, went away, came back again and told me all about it. Once we’d got down to brass tacks as it were, she was glad to talk.

The marvellous too-good-to-be-true fiancé (Lawrence) was actually a married man and – worse! He was a crook and at present awaiting trial on a number of swindling charges. He’d already served one term this winter. He’d swindled people, to whom he’d been introduced by the Clarkes, of several hundreds. His name wasn’t Lawrence at all, really…

No wonder the Clarkes, a family of Victorian respectability, had moved to a new address… And poor Phyllis had been quite deceived by the bastard. The old story – let’s go away and get married by special licence and then the marriage is postponed until the next day and the next… Phyllis became the mother of one of the sod’s children two days ago. She’d had a bad time but was alright now. The trouble was said to have made a dreadful mess of Mr Clarke but I couldn’t help thinking that the suffering had improved Mrs Clarke. She’d lost most of her smug respectability and narrow-ness and seemed somehow nobler and broadminded.

Angel and I seemed in no hurry to part tonight so I did not reach The Cock Inn until 12:15. House in darkness – lift up the cellar flap – step in, crouching – lower the flap above my head – down steps – up steps – matchlight – into the passage at the foot of the stairs! On the supper table beside my plate was a laconic note stating that “a man named Jacko” had telephoned in the evening and would ring again at 7a.m. SEVEN A.M.!

Sod him, I’ll enjoy my supper – a mixed vegetable supper – and read a thriller!


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