Friday, January 09, 2009

Saturday 7th August 1943

Paced another 1800 yards today; and washed some of my clothes. This isolated life is very restful. There is no work to do, except for sweeping out our own room each morning. No one ever bothers us and of course, there is no noise. Even the wind doesn't trouble me so much lately because now I know that I can control or subdue it by closing a window or the door. In the P and N Centre, with it's huge wards, ever-open windows and whirling fans, I felt at the mercy of the wind. I used to work quite hard in Ward 36, but here I'm having a few days of thorough idleness. Another strange thing – there are no flies here – none at all.

The macabre orderly still watches us at nights, but the daytime vigilance is relaxed. There are still two orderlies on duty, who take it in turns to be with us, but there's no supervision about it. They both frankly admit it is a pleasant “loaf”, much better than erecting tents etc. and they intend to keep the job as long as possible, especially as they all get 6d a day special-duty pay whilst we are here. So we're costing the Government 1/6d a day above all the other expenses, whilst we stay here. Fine!

I've just started reading a delightful book which gives an excellent sense of quiet detachment. I read this at Wolfhampcote nearly 20 years ago... It is Sir Walter Scotts' “Guy Mannering.” I bought this copy in Cairo in '41 and have carried it about with me unread, ever since; part of my literary reserve.

And my poetic springs have not dried up! I've written a 28-line descriptive poem called “Fragment,” the first poem since “Sonnet” in June. “Fragment” is simply prose (from this diary) turned into poetry:

“... the view was dappled black and white,
as a milling mass of goats and sheep
swirled into sudden vivid sight...”

Some of this compares almost word for word with the diary entry.


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