Monday, February 02, 2009

Sunday 16th April 1944

We all arose about 10a.m. I stayed there until after tea, although I was anxious to slip away after breakfast so as to avoid inconveniencing them. The suggestion seemed to astonish everyone however and plans had already been made for my afternoon entertainment, so I remained.

In the afternoon Jimmie took me to see Jesmond Dene, with evident pride. The Dene is a wild piece of parkland quite near the flat. Once part of an mansion's estate it was given to the Corporation when Lady Noble died. Her house is now the ARP HQ – the at present infamous HQ of an ARP Chief and Police Chief whose activities and abuse of privileges have recently been the subject of a Home Office inquiry.

Nearby is the “Ship Church.” This was built two or three years ago by one Daglass, a former Lord Mayor and shipbuilder. Just after the church was built, Daglass went to prison for fraud of some sort. He served his sentence and was released just in time to die and be buried in his own churchyard! This struck me as an ironical story.

The Dene was a charming place and worthy of Jimmie's pride. A river broken by several waterfalls, slides down a deep narrow gorge, the banks of which are all greenery, trees and flowers. I couldn't get Jimmie to talk of anything but the local surroundings; he took his duties as a guide far too seriously to be diverted onto other subjects.

He'd say thing like: “Aye! There it is! The waterfall in Jesmond Dene. Always the same. Always comin' over like that. Jesmond Dene waterfall.” “Once, they turned the stream aside to supply the water over there, I suppose, didn't they?” I enquired.
“No,” said Jimmie indignantly, “It's always the same as it is now. The waterfall in Jesmond Dene!” He said the last words as though they had some mystic magic and added paradoxically as we moved on, “Aye! It's always just like that! An' in the winter after rain, the water rises and floods around those two rocks there, as well. Always the same!”

The tram stop is quite easy to find from the flat, but when I left Jimmie came to see me off and gave reiterated instructions of how to find my way next time I came. “Ask for the Blue House,” he said, “Get off there and you can't go wrong.” “But it's a red-brick house with green timbering,” I said, amused. “Aye, but they calls it the Blue House around here,” replied Jimmie, unmoved!

When I reached camp I found that I was detailed for the expected Medical Board tomorrow.


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