Saturday, February 07, 2009

Monday 10th July 1944

I am now a dormitory village man, one of the horde of “Londoners” who work in the city but live in the country and spend a large proportion of their pay and time in daily journeys. Yes! I am one of the season ticket men of the 8:36 to Town and the 6:8 down. This travelling is arduous but it is good to sleep in the free air out of London and to have one's base away from the city.

April and I have a Morning System, concerned with such things as times for washing (the kitchen at Little Dene is a tiny one). This System also embraces the early cup of tea and according to our rota, today was April's turn to get up first and make the brew. So she arose at 6:30a.m.,when the alarm buzzed, I at 6:40. We have a second bedroom clock, besides the alarm and painstakingly check the two by each other in case of any deviation.

April prepared breakfast rapidly but efficiently. We're having to live on the charity of friends and relatives just now as, according to the Regulations and Formalities to Safeguard the Security of the State, one cannot register for and obtain rationed food until the week after one moves into a new district! Friends and relatives rose nobly to our aid however and we have a very well stocked shelf in Mrs Potter's pantry.

Normally I shall ride to and from the station, but Aphrodites' tyres were down today and I got tired of waiting for the bus so eventually collected my stick and walked to Billericay. It was a nice, fresh morning; actually the weather is a bit cold for July. Before leaving, I was kissed and wished well, as is the custom with married business men when setting out for Town.

I reached the station in good time and found my fellow season-ticket holders in the waiting room. Ignoring the fact that British troops had entered Caen; that the Russians were in Vilna and still pushing forward towards East Prussia; and that the Fifth Army was still advancing in Italy – ignoring all this, they were eagerly discussing the robot bombs which had whistled and howled over Billericay during the night.

The 8:36 is a good train. It has seats and only stops once before Liverpool Street.
In the passages leading to the stale-smelling Tubes, the men from the dormitory towns were mingling with genuine Londoners also going to work. And the mixed stream hurried past lines of tired, dirty-faced people – mostly elderly – who huddled against the tunnel walls. These also were Londoners. The air-raid sirens had just blown.

At about 6p.m. the tunnels which had swallowed me up in the morning, disgorged me again. The down train is not so good; it is slow and seats are difficult to obtain.
At Billericay I missed the first bus, so did not reach home until nearly 8 o'clock. There had been heavy rain and everything was wet and glistening and fresh.

Curtains fluttered as I hurried up to the gate of Little Dene, and before I reached the door it was opened, and in welcome I was kissed by the Wife of the Tired Business Man. She was all dainty and sweet-smelling, and ready to serve a neat, hot dinner. It was all so like the story books that I laughed inwardly. (But actually, unlike the story-books, she had been working all day herself, had come home from the hospital two hours before me – running for a bus, loaded with parcels – and had been drenched by that same rain that made the world seem good to me, so she must have been damn busy.)

We sat over the meal and then opened some letters and parcels. I was sternly warned that all letters etc must be opened by us together and after meals. By the time we'd washed-up and put the pots away, and gloated over luscious foodstuffs sent by Father, it was time to have a wash ourselves and go to sleep! Anyhow, we had two snug cups of hot cocoa in bed!

Yes, this will be a fatiguing arrangement – the housework for April and the journeys for me – but it is worthwhile for being in rooms of our own and in the country.

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