Today went off on a journey to Braintree and Chelmsford. I went by Hick’s bus. At Braintree there are many soldiers – all the big pub yards seem to be in army hands.
Braintree doesn’t bother about gas-masks or air-raid shelters, although in the last war a bomb fell on a house here and killed 7 people. The biggest joke, the Air-Raid Precaution to end all Air-Raid Precautions, is that they have stopped the Town Hall clock, and covered it in sacking, so that the enemy cannot see it or hear it strike! The idea of a man in a bombing plane, 20,000 feet up, hearing a clock strike, seems to me to be distinctly funny. The Town Hall is almost buried in sandbags, but apart from that only one or two shops have boarded up their fronts. The town looked very busy. I had a good look round, and found that the beautiful Courtauld Fountain has been boarded round 8 feet high, with printed notices on the boarding to say that this precaution is necessary owing to the wilful damage done to the fountains and figures by school-children evacuated from London “over whom there is no control”.
Caught another bus from here to Chelmsford. Had a look at the Market. Very poor horse-sale. Good cobs for £6! Cart-horses, 8 yrs. old, only £20, perfectly sound in every way. Instead of the war bringing back horses, it would appear to be the cause of their extinction.