Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thursday 19th February 1942

We move early tomorrow.

I have been on guard 24 hours and have fought my way through Lesson Six of Hugo's French! I am advancing through this book, not in the manner of a Panzer division but rather like slow moving infantry. Many times I have had to retreat and do difficult exercises over and over again, before once more pushing on. Last week it was:-

“N'avez-vous pas mon livre?” and “Je n'ai pas lu sa lettre.” Now, it is:- “Qu'a-t-elle accepte?” and “Que donne-t-il au facteur?”

Thursday evening. In the Catholic Hut.

I am now enjoying the last thirty five minutes – maybe – of comfort and civilisation. There are good lights here, wicker chairs and a log-fire in a big open hearth – it is a fairly cold night, so the fire is welcome. Tomorrow morning we take a train eastwards, probably to Mersa Matruh, though we may break our journey at Alexandria. Who knows?

There's a quarter moon towards the full. It'll be qwise for night bombing badin!

Curiously, this book – I might have called it “Interlude” - began just before we came from the desert and now ends just before we return. How high were our hopes, as we came eastwards, of a new war on a new front! And each man had a different sort of job in view for himself!

But one of my little slogans or themes of life, has been proved again:-

Always expect the normal and everyday to happen! for we now go back to the same old sort of war in the same old desert, each of us doing the same old job that he's always done! Quite soon, no doubt, we shall settle down to the old existence, with the Brew of tea once more of paramount importance. We shall become more reserved and self-contained, each within himself: extrovert to introvert. We shall hold fewer confidential conversations and be far, far less carefree and exuberant. We shall more often sit quietly smoking – when there's anything to smoke.

Oh yes! Once again we'll conserve cigarette ends and the dottle from pipes. There'll be many other subtle changes in us, like these. What do they indicate? More contentment? More stolidity and wooden-ness?
Or resignation?
However, maalesh!

Closing time. The pianist has stopped. He played “Stardust,” “Pinocchio” and other pleasant bits. Ah music! All of it, from jazz to the classics! A bientot!

Here Endeth Dawn 1942

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