Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday 7th January 1942

Living in some comfort now, at the YMCA. I got up at 8 o'clock after a morning cup of tea. The barber shaved me, the shoe-boy cleaned our boots and I read the Palestine Post at the breakfast table, until Jack came down.

“London sees hope of a counter attack in Malaya.”
“Anti-German Riots in Paris.”
“AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE FOR BRITAIN.”
“Turkey Ignores Nazi Lies.”
“Russians hammering enemy in Crimea.”

So far we have not had a frightfully hectic leave – no rush of sightseeing, no bouts of drunkenness. Our tastes at present are happily similar and we can enjoy ourselves quietly. We've done a bit of reading, too. Among other things Jack has bought three books - “Teach Yourself Latin” (he has thoughts of studying for a degree after he war), Hugh Walpole's “Rogue Herries” and “Judith Paris” (in one volume), and Margaret Mitchell's massive book, “Gone with the Wind”,(which he has given to me).

Oh, yesterday, I nearly forgot, we heard Church bells ringing as we strolled in the streets. A rare sound to English ears. They rang merrily in Jerusalem but in England, by official edict, they will never ring again until the war ends – or in case of invasion.

This morning as we idled along, we got somewhat off our track into a quarter of some wild Asiatic Jews. Ghastly people they were; the men all seemed old and dirty, they had ragged black beards and filthy clothes. There was a foul smell in the winding streets but we were reluctant to return the way we had come and so wandered around, baffled, for some time. Disgusting.

Jack was dozing in the lounge below. I trotted, light-footed in slippers, upstairs to get a book, whistling as I went.

“... Thou would still be adored
As this moment thou art...”

On the landing was a solemn group of men, engrossed in conversation: “... Then one of the Durhams came in. He told me himself that they'd been...” (Why the hell, I thought, half amused, half irritated, can't they leave the war alone for a while?) “... Our planes went over... two German tanks.... oh, yes, it was...”

End of Midnight 1941/2

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