Monday, July 28, 2008

Friday 24th November 1939

This is being written in the train, somewhere between Leicester and London, hence the scrawl. Felt quite feverish when I awoke this morning after a good nights sleep. Lucky I went to bed tired; some of the others were not so fortunate it appeared later. I simply could not face the “double” before breakfast though and marched back peacefully with a few others. Was able to scrounge a double portion of fishcake, so made a good meal. Felt depressed and weary: this is a normal after-effect.

We stood on a sodden field, mud squelching dismally under our feet, for 35 minutes of second parade (how time is wasted!) I was told to get my hair cut and buy a new razor blade by the Major and to clean my respirator brasswork by Mr Dawney. Everyone, practically, received the latter criticism. Clean respirator brasswork! A crime in every other Army unit!

Dean and I, fed-up, went home afterwards. I did my packing. Paraded as usual in the afternoon. After pay parade I collected my pass and got my kit at the billets. “Cheerio Steve,” “Have a good weekend” said friendly voices as I met men in the streets. I went round to the back of the cookhouse, explaining my position. They rustled up a big mug of hot tea, jam, bread, butter and cheese. I felt a good deal happier.

Funny little train from Southwell Station. Familiar blue lights. A full moon outside, above the dark countryside. Occasional glitter of water. Changed at Trent. Now I’m in a Pullman coach, fully lighted, fairly crowded but no one standing and there’s a table on which to write.

I have looked behind the window blind and seen:- telegraph wires and posts outlined against the pale sky; a star; trees and tree shadows; moonlit fields; dark houses; white roads. Never any twinkling lights.

End of Twilight 1939


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