Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Tuesday 7th March 1939

Sunny morning. Great Baddow, Sandon, Wickford, Pitsea, South Benfleet. Hell of a lot of “contact calls” (“Surely”, I thought, “the first day of Dawn won’t be an order-less day!”) However, Hedges, at Bowers Gifford, gave me an order – somewhat grudgingly – for two gallons of enamel. I then drove down to Billericay and lunched at The Cottage Café. Joyce, Connie, Peter Somebody (I don’t like him, the cocksure blighter), Mr Lowen (traveller for Young and Marten. Elderly. Really a decent sort!) and an UDC Sanitary Inspector were there.

The SI and Peter left early. The rest of us played darts. Joyce played damn well, as usual. Connie played damned badly and giggled. Mr Lowen (known as “Bomber” in darts matches) slung skilful darts equipped with large paper “feathers”. I played somewhat erratically. Gave Connie a lift home, via Horndon-on-the-Hill. Slinky B touched 67 on the wide, straight Old Southend Road.

Telephoned Mr Burford at Churchill Johnson’s, Laindon. Yes, he had an order for me, received from Billings, Grays. 2x5 gallon drums of Pink Priming, no price stated.
I rang the Office. Asked Mr Reddall what price we could quote to a merchant? “Oh Lord!” he said, “What a beastly enquiry! Wait a minute”. “Ten and three” he said a few moments later. Having received notice of my latest change of address he suspected I was getting married. I assured him this was not so. “Haven’t sold enough paint yet!” “Well, look here, don’t and keep it secret, will you? We should like to send Mrs Dawson – the future Mrs Dawson – a tin of PCP, or something!” “And the Bride Book?” (A Paripan advertisement scheme, applicable to future housewives.)
“Oh, she’ll get that in the ordinary course of events” he said vaguely – as though it were inevitable! “We’ll send her colour cards and all that, of course” – as though it was necessary!

I called at Churchill Johnson’s. There some time. In addition to taking the order for priming (10 gallons at 10/3d) we discussed small paint stocks for their Essex shops… In my early days on the road, how I struggled to get in here! Haven’t called for a year now, but I’ve created some demand.

Twilight and growing cold. Jolly fire at “The Blue Bird” Nevendon. Bacon, fried bread and fried potatoes. Finished my reports, had coffee and a cigarette. Dashed to Leigh and had a lengthy interview with a decorator at his house. (Will mean an order later in the week when the shades are known.)

Beastly late by the time I reached Oakdene but they made me welcome and I was able to wash and do the usual office work before Lois and I went down to night school.
Miss Hollingsworth usually makes Lois and I do things concurrently. Tonight Lois gave a reading of Pa Shervill’s poems (and did it damn well) She read “War Pigeons”, “Cockle Town”, and – as a request item – “Eastwood Church”. The only other individual effort tonight was mine. I’d been told to choose a piece, so read extracts from Masefield’s “The Everlasting Mercy”. (Crowded day commenced Dawn!)
A lovely poem that! Driving along the lonely road to Chelmsford I recited it again to myself –

“… How swift the summer goes!…
…The young grass when I started,
And now the hay is carted.
… Oh, lily bursting white,
Dear lily of delight
Spring in my heart agen
That I may flower to men”


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