Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thursday 7th January 1943

Up at 5:15a.m. this morning and within three or four minutes, I'd heated up a mug of cocoa on the primus (I had a tin of Cadbury's out from England with an Xmas parcel). Afterwards, shaving in hot water by lantern light, I could hear the coughing of the men on hardening training.

Trip to the bulk NAAFI after breakfast, for 10 loaves, 200 cakes, 200 Gold Flake, 1000 Players and 1000 Woodbines – and smaller items. They're robbers at the bulk NAAFI, of course. They gave me 4 loaves short (which I discovered and rectified) and 10 cakes short (which I didn't detect until arrival back at the canteen). They're also very keen to give one stale and drab-looking cakes, keeping the luscious ones back, probably because they are too lazy to go and fetch them. I had to demand the manager this morning, before I got what I wanted.

Got back to camp about 9:45a.m. My two henchmen had been getting things ready in my absence and we opened punctually at 10:15a.m. Break-time and a rush of mass men... We did it! No one had to wait unduly and no one was turned away. There was enough tea. We sold out of cakes; I cut lots of tomato sandwiches. We took about £3.

10:30p.m., leaning on the bar. In two days we have taken (£E7-69.5pts today) altogether £13-45pts, but I had to spend over £6 this morning, so at the present moment there is £E7-6.5pts in my cash box. We'd have taken more tonight, only we'd run out of cakes by the end of break and bread was exhausted by 8p.m. Hope to get 600 cakes tomorrow. My God! I'm getting a business mind! Can't write about anything else!

At present I'm listening to dance music (broadcast by our enemies, the Jerry!) and have put out the electric lights leaving only a storm lantern. A mug of hot tea is by my elbow. It's time I wrote a letter, but I lack the imagination. Hope this job won't do my dreams too much damage!

I'm smoking a Gold Flake at the moment and this seems a satisfactory sort of war to be fighting. Don't want to go to bed yet and am not in the mood for reading, so guess I'll copy my latest work into my note book of the collected Verse of SJ Dawson. That won't take much mental effort! My latest (a polish up) is the story of the men of mixed blood who make up this unit today, and it is about 80 lines. Definitely less of a poem than usual and it's called “Regimental Rhyme” It certainly is – just a rhyme:-

“... And still they poured
a growing horde
from Brum and Leicester, Leeds and Kent,
from Atherstone and Stoke on Trent...”

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