Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Saturday 1st November 1941

The moon is about one night short of full now – and the moonlit streets are pleasant. When the dark nights come – within the next 7 or 10 days – we'll go up through “Bomb Alley” to Tobruch. They won't send a draft up at the full moon – unless things are very serious, which they aren't.

Meanwhile, Steve and I are having a cushy war. The other morning we sat for half an hour in a shop (they kept us quiet with coffee) whilst a pair of slacks were prepared for me. We also bought a pair of shoes each. Since then we've done a little dancing. Last night we each had a waltz at an English dance at the United Forces Club and then too a gharri to the Paradise Cabaret and danced with the girls there – Greeks and Arabs. These cabarets are pretty well nauseating but somewhat amusing. As soon as a girl sits at your table you start ordering drinks for her (lime coloured water?) at 10pts. (2/-) a time. She only takes two gulps at each glass so it is unwise to encourage her to stay too long with you!

It's the weakest attempt at counterfeit romance that I can imagine. Each time the benevolent waiter (he smiles like a father, as though in the presence of true love, when he presents the exorbitant bills) brings drinks, he gives the girl a green counter. Each of these (one Nita) informed me) was cashed for 4 pts. They also receive a regular wage of 60 pts. (12/-) per night so should have no difficulty in making over a hundred pts. every night. £7 or more a week! These financial workings are no doubt frightfully sordid but – so are the cabarets!

However it's one way of forgetting the war for a minute or two. Steve and I went with Bill Oxley into one particularly low-class music hall and practically empty. “No drunks,” I said gloomily, “No fights.” “And no women!” ended Steve “They haven't let them off their chains yet,” grinned Bill. I visualised the harpies, rattling the bars of their cages like tigresses, being fed on raw meat!

PS Ah! The most exquisite luxury of leave is not the food or the streets and shops, or the cabarets or cafes, or cinemas or beer. It's bed, sleep, clean sheets and the morning cup of tea. And no need to get up after your unbroken sleep, so long as you are in time for the 9:30 a.m. breakfast!

That's the best of a leave!

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