Thursday, September 25, 2008

Saturday 1st March 1941

(Continued from Dawn)

We deposited the rolls of film at Thompson's. I also bought three more rolls and a pair of sunglasses here. Tea and music at The Nile, two seats for a flick at the Diana – a swashbuckling Errol Flynn film of Gloriana days. Sheer aesthetic enjoyment!

We couldn't find anywhere for a third meal after the cinema (Oh, I forgot to mention that we'd had creamy coffee and several cream sundaes at The American Bar, Sharia-Emad-el-Dine, before the show), it was well past midnight and all the cafes were closed. Eventually we found an hotel, went in and had sandwiches and tea, sitting in solitary state in the lounge. It was a comically Victorian place – heavy furniture, gloomy walls, pot plants! I could imagine the pensioned gentlemen and decaying gentlewomen who would sit, straight-backed, in those chairs!

Suddenly, as we smoked, I didn't want to go back to the barracks – ugh! awful place! - and ruminated on clean, white sheets... I enquired, but unfortunately the last double room had just been taken. They suggested a hotel across the road – The Marina. We tried there and there was a vacant room and we were very soon in it. We had no kit whatever but I picked up a book in the lounge to read in bed.

The other place had been (appropriately!) The Victoria. As we were just about to leave, an RAF bloke came up to Stan and said, “Where are you going, old man?” “Back to barracks, perhaps,” replied Stan with sleepy vagueness. “Have you got anyone to see you home?” went on the other solicitously. “Yes,” I said, grinning, “I'll look after him, old boy.” “Sure you'll be alright?” “Hell!” cried Stan bitterly, “I ought to be alright. Tea and coffee... Hell!” So saying, he quitted the hotel and I followed, chuckling.

Over at the Marina, in our snug bedroom, I read for a while. Turned out the light at 2:30 and just felt cool sheets, soft mattress and pillow before sleeping. Funny how warm it is in a house! In the desert we make a bed with four blankets and a great coat; here, we each had a sheet, a thin blanket and a coverlet – and it was just right!

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