Thursday, January 08, 2009

Saturday 26th June 1943

Bill and I went to Sarafend – we walked about 7 miles altogether, I reckon. It was a blazing hot day; the first ¼ mile was along sandy tracks in orange groves but the rest was along the open tarmac roads. Not having any pockets, we put our joint necessities (pay-books, pipes, tobacco, money, matches and my handkerchief – Bill forgot his!) in my dear old signals satchel.

We tramped along with steady strides. I was carrying an orange walking stick, about a foot longer than normal so that it was too long for a stick and too short for a pilgrim's staff. William's stick was a more conservative type. The road was almost shade-less but after a while we found a sparse patch of shadow and squatted down there, Wog-like, while we smoked our pipes. Eventually we reached the shopping centre in the little garrison “town”.

The cinema was still there, and the “Anden Hut” and the particular part of the transit camp which we had once inhabited. The shops were still there and there were the same girls in the same two cafes. Prices had risen.. a two page newspaper, 15mills ie, over 4d; a cup of coffee 25mills, ie 6d... “But have you none of the cream you had last year?” I asked the girl. “Ah! - Last year!!” she said sadly, with an expressive shrug of the shoulders. “Any films?” I asked in another shop, though without much hope. “You will not get any in Palestine,” replied the shopkeeper, “Later on – maybe. After the war...” “After about four years, what?” “Maybe!”

Our first public appearance being a bit of a strain, we turned homewards soon after lunch – it was a meagre meal, partly because they hadn't much food in the cafe, partly because we had so little money to spend. Then the tramp back, at the same steady pace. We were home several hours before the time of the expiry of the passes, so spent half an hour in a Beer Y'agoov cafe, William with orangeade, I with milk.

The walk in the sun had burnt us, making us much more ruddy than anyone else in the ward; it had also given us a thirst which was reminiscent of the desert. I had forgotten the feeling of thirst during these months of pottering about.


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