Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday 29th December 1939

Up at 5:30. Walked down to the station, carrying my kit bag in a white, twilit world. A thin veil of snow on the ground – just enough to make the surroundings look sympathetically festive.

Eileen was on the train and we travelled in the same carriage. Unfortunately there were several sergeants (blast them!) in the carriage also so we could not talk, really. However we played noughts and crosses on a frosty window pane – a game which two of the sergeants (they were all uncouth gunnery men) clumsily imitated. I also wrote OLTE on a window – Olga Lucy Thora Eileen – and Eileen finished it off by putting in the stops, so:- O.L.T.E.

A very hasty leave taking on the platform at Nottingham. Eileen hurried off to her office; my train rolled in just a few moments later. There were few of us by now – only about 20 men going to London – and I kept with Henry Ritchie and another driver.
We wandered about the train a good deal and eventually found a compartment to ourselves. The train rushed south. My companions dozed. I crooned as I polished my spurs.

Reached St. Pancras at midday. In London, I found quite a thick blanket of snow. White snow on the sandbags, warden’s air raid shelters and housetops. Snow on Ealing Common, around the searchlight position. Home for seven days!

With this return for perhaps the last leave – so much to do, so little time for doing – I end Starshine 1939.

(From Brooke’s “1914”)
“Now, God be thanked, who has matched us with his hour,
And caught our youth and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye and sharpened power
To turn as swimmers into cleanness leaping…”

This is the last, perhaps, of my journals to be completed in England and stored away with the other in that locked suitcase (a “scented store of song and flower and sky and face”). Number IV (2) which follows this book, may quite possibly be completed somewhere so far away that I’ll be unable to come home and pack it away in the case!
I’m leaving that case in the safe care of my Mother. If I don’t come back, she will keep all my bits and pieces. At the moment however, I feel anything but fey. No! I am certain I shall come back!

I am certain I shall come back.

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