Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sunday 15th February 1942

Stores and equipment are being drawn – and packed, almost at once, in colossal wooden boxes. The advance party detailed yesterday has now been cancelled but it doesn't look as though we shall be long before we leave.

(Syria 5/1, Bluey 8/1, Australia 300/1, Burma 120/1 Iraq and Iran 80/1)

This evening's news states that Japan claims that Singapore has surrendered. The British comment is that this, though not confirmed is “not unlikely”.

Yesterday afternoon, whilst I was swotting French in the Catholic Hut, a Greek soldier played the piano. It was a ghastly old piano but he coaxed lovely music from it. He played no clashing dramatic Listz, Strauss or Wagner. All his pieces were gentle little sounds, stealing up and down; ripple-lilting. Bach, Beethoven and a quiet little piece from Gonnod's “Faust”. Paderewski.

Eventually I felt so soothed that I could not concentrate on French anymore! Alas, he knew no Chopin! (I want to hear a good pianist play Chopin, especially the Valse that I discovered in hospital and the Polonaise in A and in A Flat.) Our only common language was the name of a composer. “Paderewski!” the Greek said once and a wistful little tune was born under his short, thick fingers. His music made me think of: “... Long, long ago, a wind sang once a heart-sweet rune...” Something soft and gentle like that.

However! I could not stay in dreams there all day! I had to dash off and make arrangements for a fatigue of lorry loading, to be performed by 6 men and 1 NCO – myself.


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