Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Friday 24th July 1942

I've had no mail for many weary weeks; but I've just re-read a letter which tells me that I met Her on September 20th 1938. Nearly four years ago. (And yet, how little I know of her, even now!) Wonder what I put in my diary for September 20th '38? Nothing about her, I know. I was afraid to mention her in my diaries for a long time after that, for it seemed impossible that it could be true...

I should have known, though. Why, the very date! September 19 – 21, my fateful days!
If I had dared, this is what I might have written in my diary on September 20th 1938:

I had a curious experience today. Well, I say experience but it was all over in a second, actually. It happened in Billericay. On the advice of a customer's wife, I went to a cafe here, called The Cottage, for lunch. All quite normal. The place was empty when I arrived. sat down on a sofa beside the fire and picked up a magazine.

The door opened suddenly and a girl came in. She was tall and had nice, tweedish clothes. She seemed to have some sort of a kerchief thing on her head. Vaguely attractive. Well, of course, many girls are vaguely attractive. But – was it raining outside? I forget. This girl seemed vividly fresh; rainwet and windfresh. As though drops of moisture were glistening on her hair. One imagined the rough, friendly wind itself had blown her suddenly into the room. It was uncanny.

Yes, there was something indescribably unspoilt and sudden and unstifled about her. Like a blade of green grass, dew-wet, in a field far from any houses, in the morning! All these thoughts flickered through my mind in a second, as our eyes met, whilst I dare say, I gasped at her expressionlessly. Then her eyes laughed and she said “Hullo!”

Just like that as though she'd expected to see me, suddenly, with an exclamation mark, in the sort of colourful voice one would expect her to have. My God! What was she to me? Nothing, nothing, of course. My life was placidly arranged. What the hell? - And yet -

I see I use the word “suddenly” several times in that little true story. Well, why not? She is a very sudden person!


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