Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sunday 5th May 1940

Dammit! I awoke automatically at 6:30 and couldn’t sleep much more! Eventually I pressed a button and a man trotted up and brought me a cup of tea, to which I smugly added two lumps of sugar and some creamy milk, from a jug. We were supposed to breakfast at the Soldiers Club at 9:30 a.m. but I decided to be leisurely and ignore strict timetables for once.

I sauntered down to the barbers next door and had a shave and my hair dressed. A boy cleaned my shoes, meanwhile. Afterwards I wandered further down the road, selected a café and breakfasted (mayonnaise salad, bread and butter, and a pot of tea) with the morning paper propped up before me. I think this luxurious forenoon was the best part of the whole weekend!

Ling found me just as I finished and we wandered among the shops. After lunch (at the Soldiers Club) we sat on the beach in deck chairs and swam and sat on the beach again. There’s a wrecked ship close inshore to which I swam and then climbed. (You see, there was a notice in the Soldiers Club – “Troops Will Not Climb The Wrecks” and I didn’t feel particularly amenable to military discipline.) This ship had brought a party of several hundred Jews from one of the oppressed countries. They’d each paid handsomely for the passage but the Captain, presumably a crook, knew they would not be allowed to land, so abandoned the ship a few miles from Palestine, with the crew and doubtless the cash! The emigrants, pretty desperate, more “keen” than “shaky” took control of the ship, ran her aground and swarmed ashore! I believe they were eventually allowed to remain in Palestine.

Spent the evening, with Stevens and Cartwright, in a pseudo beer garden. We sat at a little table in an alcove. There were trees with electric bulbs in them, and an orchestra of sorts. Such a place of (artificial) romance was wasted without a girl!
Comical how peddlers pester one in all these places; they try to sell you boot laces, razor blades, sun glasses, pipes, soaps, tooth paste and contraceptives, chiefly. A peddler appears every few minutes!

Had to leave Tel Aviv without my cap. I checked it, with my tunic and what not, into the Soldiers Club cloakroom, but on my return they couldn’t produce it. Hardly an efficient cloakroom…

Back to camp, 11:30 p.m.

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