Friday, February 06, 2009

Saturday 17th June 1944

I went to Town and met Marjorie at No 99 Westbourne Terrace. The flat where I once took Dick Young to supper, is empty now. She opened a dark, musty cupboard in the basement and left me. I rummaged eagerly, found many of my books and papers that I'd not seen since that long-ago day when I packed up to go like a knight (as I then thought) to the war.

There were ancient note-books filled with schoolboy scrawlings, many books, a copy of Brooke, a copy of “Fantastic Flight”, a monks habit that I wore in the Pageant at Langley... All the Paripan stuff was there – files, orders, letters, graphs, colour charts, report books, even visiting cards. They'll be useful in these days of restricted supplies. There were also three pairs of brown shoes, which hadn't improved in years of lying damply at the bottom of a pile of books. I packed the essentials in a kit bag and stinking rucksack (my old rambling rucksack!) with a pair of mildewed shoes a-dangle on the outside.

There was a familiar box or battered wooden chest in the room. Lifting it's lid I saw written neatly inside:

“And Spring came too
Dancing o'er the tombs and brought him flowers.
She did not stay for long”
June 1933

That was when I realised with sad joy that beauty was elusive and transient.
I slunk out of the flat. Being unshaven and dressed anyhow, it's a wonder I wasn't arrested as a suspected burglar, between the West End and Pitsea.

On the way down I read “Fantastic Flight” and could hear again the intonation of the player's voices as they delivered their lines.

Air raids tonight, but Vi and April and I all slept soundly.

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