Saturday, February 07, 2009

Friday 7th July 1944

Nearly midnight – and the sirens are screaming; they began their mournful crying as I picked up this book to write. I'm sitting in bed – yes! and there's the thud of a robot, already! I had a good view of one this evening. It roared over this house with a streak of flame at it's tail and then the motor cut out and it dived into Hampstead. They certainly are unpleasant things – and it looks as though this strange bombardment of “Southern England” (as the target zone is discreetly termed) will continue for months yet.

Long conversation with April tonight, by phone. During our talk three occurrences were duplicated at each end of the line. Almost simultaneously we heard bombs fall and the sirens sounding “all clear” a few minutes later. About half an hour afterwards we both received a cup of tea as we sat at our respective telephones.
(Here's another robot and – bump!)

April and I are meeting at Billericay Station tomorrow, so that we can do all our errands in the town and then retire into the quietness of Great Burstead for the weekend. We hope it will be quiet; by all accounts we both need a bit of peace, but especially April.

“In case you've forgotten me, look out for a Tired Business Man,” I told her, “For I look the part.” And so I do! I happened to see myself suddenly mirrored in a shop window today whilst going to lunch, and was surprised how closely I resembled the TBM. Not much of an ex-soldier look about me, thank heavens.

I have revealed my identity to the too-respectful Woods. “Don't you remember me, Woods?” I asked. “Can't say I do sir.” “Well, I used to call at your depot, with the work's lorries...” “Why, yes!” he said, losing the respectful attitude abruptly, “You was there the day we shifted from Edgware Road to 'Arrow Road, wasn't you?” “That's right!” “O'course! Well, pardon me saying so – no offence meant, like – but you 'ave aged, y'know.” “I suppose so,” I said sadly, “Of course, I was only a boy in those days, really.” “You've been to Egypt, 'aven't you.” “That's right.”

Woods beamed and revealed his past by saying, “Qwise keteer, hey?” (“very good” in Arabic) “Ha! Zift!” I exclaimed (“no! bloody bad!”) “Were you out there too?” "Yes! In the last war. Know Ismailia? Damascus? Gaza?” “Sure. I bet they've changed since you were there, though.”

So, thoroughly introduced to Woods, I returned to my office and the book of Figures. I'm balancing my Tons, Gallons and Pounds, Shillings and Pence now. A deadly job for my khaki-stupid head. No wonder I look like a TBM!


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