Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday 11th March 1944

Violet is good to us! We must put her to a lot of trouble but she never seems to mind. This morning her alarm screamed soon after 6 o'clock; she probably wouldn't have risen before 8 if she'd been alone. She brought us cups of tea and biscuits. When, later, we both dashed into the kitchen for a hasty wash (both pushing around the small sink together!) her bed was gone and no traces remained that the kitchen had been slept in. Porridge was ready too. April bolted hers and I had half mine and then we ran for the bus, leaving our bedroom and the kitchen in an untidy mess.

I like Violet and find this business of having another mother is an enjoyable novelty! Also, I feel that the pleasure will remain long after the sense of novelty has departed.

We caught the 7 o'clock bus at Gale's Corner as we had once before and except that the summer is nearer now and Essex was not wrapped in darkness as it had been then, the journey was reminiscent of that other one we made just before our wedding. It was only reminiscent however. Once again we sat side by side but this time we held hands tightly all the way.

(When you love at 7 o'clock in the morning, both on the way to work, you do love!)

However, I thought several times of that other journey and of that other fantastic visit to Terori; and realised with a sense of surprise and great happiness, how much nearer we've grown towards each other in so few weeks of time. And years ago, in 1939's splendid, fated summer, I once said sadly,”Do you think this is the crest, our zenith?” April was much wiser when she said, “No! Not yet! It has only just begun!”

We parted at Upminster Bridge Station – a last mischievous glimpse of April through the bus windows – and I came by tube to East Ham and caught a bus nicely from there to the Ferry. By 9 o'clock I was in a cafe near the station, having a cup of tea and a roll and butter! What a pity I didn't discover this much better route before!

All was well at the barracks; I had not been missed. Of course I had a curious sensation that the day was not Saturday but Monday. However it was Saturday alright and I was on duty at the station until 9:30p.m. To my greatest relief there was no air raid alarm, so April must have had a good night's sleep.

I felt tired, but the hours at the station did not drag; all sorts of funny things happened. There was a rude old man who shambled up the stairs muttering vulgar remarks; there was an elderly woman, much more rude, who (either drunk or mad) stood a long time in the station entrance and in a loud, contralto voice declaimed most of her sex history and experiences to furtively interested groups of passengers. She spared no details or phrases...

There was a giggling girl whom one of the ticket collectors seemed to like. He obtained her name and address! Once I was amused to see him holding her and kissing her whilst at the same time collecting tickets from a formidable stream of passengers!

There was a girl who waited and waited for her boy friend. (Look, 'ere's the telegram 'e sent me. From the Isle of Wight. Do you fink 'e'll come, Soldier?”) And at last he came and both were joyful and he decided to stay the night.

One girl had a boy friend who did not appear. Un-perturbed she suggested a “date” with me! “What about you, Soldier? Take me to the picchers? You'll be orf duty 'ere, won't you?” “I'm a respectable married man,” I told her sternly. I think she was a decent sort, really, because she then said wistfully, “I were married too – until last year. Married at 17 I was and I got a boy of six. We was so 'appy. And then 'e 'ad to go and get killed.” “Shall you marry again?” I asked. “Yes, sure! But not until the war's over! Until then I just want some nice chaps and a bit of fun. No one'll take 'is place though... 'e was a smasher, 'e was.”

And so in the end, I rather liked this gaudy, merry, giggling girl, although I'd thought her somewhat cheap and nasty at first.

Then – in my half hour “off” for supper – I sat with some of the other bus and tram workers whom I'm gradually getting to know, in the cafe. Damme! I'll be sorry to leave this station. It is a corner of civilian life, and a pretty lively corner at that!

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