Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saturday 26th December 1942

Fiddling morning of maintenance, kit stacking, inspections and so on. The BC addressed the Battery, saying that proper training would now commence, also that we must learn non-desert tactics and that we'd be moving next month. He then read a chit from The-Powers-That-Be, to say that troops who went into Cairo this Xmas, must not commit murder, rape or assault. Neither must they riot in the streets, or wantonly smash shop windows. (Un peu tard!)

Being a week end, I was on duty – sick and defaulters' orderly – but Ted Gayler gallantly offered to perform my duty for today, if I'd help him with his next half day duty. I quickly agreed to this and went into town, my policy being, “Get thee into Cairo while thou canst.”

I spent the whole of the afternoon and the evening at “Music for All”! Diary writing, and the trio. Tea and cakes and “Three Men in a Boat”. Jack drifted in mournfully and sat beside me reading “Angel Pavement”. Then he disappeared again. I wrote a letter to April. The trio filed away. They cleared the lounge – but they didn't shift me, in my easy chair! - and hundreds of people came in and the lounge began to look like a concert hall.

Jack Steed came and sat beside me. A small symphony orchestra began playing. There was:- Overture “Ruy Blas” by Mendelsohn. Brandenburg Concerto no 3 for strings by Bach. “On first hearing the cuckoo in spring” by Delius. Pianoforte Concerto in A minor by Grieg.

Afterwards, I finished my letter, then went into the restaurant, where I met Jack Chenery again and we had dinner. Service was bad tonight; we complained bitterly and eventually had two piastres knocked off our bill, which appeased us, immensely.

We met Kerry, Ritchie, Stan Clarke and Tubby Cartwright later on, by the Tribunal Mixte in Sharia Fouad, and got a taxi. It was somewhat crowded, being a three-seater, but the journey back only cost 10 akkers, each.

Home 11:45p.m., in my ammo lorry. Out of the wind, quiet and dustless. There was only one man asleep there, not twenty. I lit the candle and smoked a final “Woodbine” whilst I made my snug bed of five blankets. Slept well, of course.


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