Friday, January 30, 2009

Saturday 1st April 1944

April and I have had several happy weekends together; it is difficult to single out one in particular but surely this was one of our happiest?

It could be summarised by a bald list of times, events and places:-

9:30a.m. Aphrodite and I crossed Woolwich Ferry.
12:30p.m. Met April and Monty at Half Way House.
2p.m. All at Terori.
10:45p.m. Bed.

Midnight Clocks moved forward one hour theoretically, and double summer time began.

Sunday 10a.m. Early morning tea.
12:30p.m. Breakfast.
2:30 “Elevenses” of sherry and cake.
3p.m. Got up.
6:20p.m. Left Terori
7:45 – 8:18p.m. Eating at Ward's Cafe, Brentwood.
8:20 – 8:45p.m. Coffee at Connie and Bill's home.
9p.m. Brentwood station.
9:01 Train departed.
9:10p.m. April alighted, at Romford station.
10:10p.m. Train left London Bridge.
10:38p.m. Arrived Woolwich.
Midnight Most of packing done, and in blankets.

After leaving North Woolwich, I cycled through East Ham and Ilford (where I paused for a cheese roll and two cups of tea) to Romford. I'd brought my greatcoat – very unwisely too, for it was a damply warm day and I felt weak with sweating, especially on the arterial road beyond Romford, where a strong head wind was noticeable.

I reached Half Way House at about 12:30p.m. There had been no sign of any barriers or police cordons and here I was, right into the banned zone. April cycled up soon after me – certainly not later than 12:45p.m. - and looked much too glamourous to be riding a bicycle. (Silk stockings too!) Her cheeks were flushed and she was laughing. altogether, she looked anything but frumpish, even on a bicycle!

Her “wifery” commenced very soon. When we'd had a cup of tea she tied my greatcoat on her handlebars whilst I took the rucksack. Very damply, hot and weary, I managed to complete the journey. It wasn't nearly so arduous with such a companion and much of it was along winding by-roads.

Violet and April both looked after me severely (anti-chill precautions!) when we reached Terori. I took off my blouse, two pullovers, shirt and vest and they were hung on the line in the garden. Then I had a good wash (my wife washed my back of course) at the kitchen sink. Afterwards, I wore makeshift garments until the rest had been dried at the fire. April rapidly prepared a savoury hot late lunch.

She really was a wonderful wife this weekend. It seemed very nice, at 4:30p.m. to think that we'd been together for hours, whereas on a normal weekend we'd only just have met.

My razor was broken, so April and I cycled into the village and I bought a new one (for which Violet paid). We called at the Police Station and heard that the ban was not strictly in force yet. Soldiers in uniform and in possession of a pass would be allowed in the district at anytime. Well, my days of “French Leave” will be ended now in any case, as I'm going to Newcastle-on-Tyne, in the far north.

At midnight the time changed to double summer time and became 1a.m. This seemed a sad blow when we realised it. Of all the hours which might have been lost, they had to steal an hour from our weekend, from our night.

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