Monday, December 08, 2008

Saturday 9th January 1943

£E11-39-0 in my till tonight. Spent £E7-41-0 at the bulk store this morning, but the good day more than made up for that.

The receipts today were £E9-68-0. I now have a System of keeping accounts. I evolved it yesterday and after “arranging” my figures, made them balance – but not until I'd experimented with simple round numbers and discovered the basic facts that 1) Payments plus cash in hand = Receipts and 2) Receipts minus cash in hand = Payments!Tonight, after closing time, whilst Cliff Hanley and Basil Appleyard watched in silence, I importantly worked out various sums on my night's balance sheet. Then, as I inked in the final figures, I gave an exultant whimper, “Gosh it balances!” Appleyard laughed loudly. He didn't realise it was a triumph, not a comedy.

I'm getting up to all the tricks, bit by bit. Such things as displaying more prominently those articles which seem to be selling slower than the rest. I didn't display my 150 bars of chocolate (non-perishable) today at all, whilst I was selling 600 cakes. They'll go on the shelves tomorrow with some 50 choice doughnuts which I kept back (there'll be a shortage of cakes tomorrow. That's why I laid in a stock of chocolate yesterday).

There was an inspection by the CO today. I did not even stack my kit; just folded my blankets, which I always do. Of course we had to have the canteen tidy and attractive, which it was a pleasure to do in any case. This job suits me fine except that I have no mental escape from it. It will stifle my imagination, eventually.

I've finished “Lengthening Shadows,” a poem of seven 6-line verses. Can't say whether it is weak or only mediocre. A bit obscure perhaps, - a difficult subject.

“The shadows lengthen on the lawn;
the veils of tears are gently torn
from our tired eyes for one last sight
in the kindliness of fading light...
... of the quintessence of refinement...
... and now it is just too late
to withdraw our clever hate...” And so on.

I wrote most of it before I had this job, I only polished it off, made it scan, this week. Since I took over this canteen I have had no new ideas – and now I have finished piecing together the fragments I started earlier. I ask, is this the end of all I have to write? Are my verse dreams just might-have-beens? We shall see. I want to keep on writing, even if it is only tripe. Everything I write will help me to eventually produce something decent.

This job is as near to civilian life as an artillery soldier can get, I think. I'm doing nothing towards winning the war, unless making soldiers happy counts as a war effort. Two days ago there was a drill order. I watched the vehicles pull out, and was content. I had hot tea and cakes ready for their return.

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