A very charming Scots girl from Glasgow came in this afternoon, and I had the pleasure of conducting her over the Vaults and Dungeons. Her husband is in the R.E.S. down on the coast here. We spoke of invasions, in which she refuses to believe. Her view of the war was very similar to mine and she was delightfully honest. She said, “I don't care who gets killed in this war so long as I get Bill back safe. He’s mine and that’s that!” What a delightfully honest thing to say in these days of cant, humbug and patriotic hysteria.
Weather cold, wet, and very windy. There was an alarm at 9.30, which lasted until 5.30am on Saturday. At midnight I went up to the Warden’s Post at the Albert Hall and had some tea and biscuits there. There was heavy gunfire all round, and a bomb fell S. of the town about half past 3. There were planes over all night. In the “Essex Standard” this week is recorded the case of a man charged at Braintree with begging in disguise, and it is quite clear that he is the same man who changed his disguise in the Holly Trees lavatory. Some weeks ago, Harding found a hat, dark glasses, and basket there early one morning, and we both recognised these as the property of an old man who played a fiddle in the streets.
We considered that he was either a person in disguise or else he had been taken ill in the lavatory and had staggered out, leaving his property behind him. At any rate, I reported this obviously suspicious affair at the police station, and was laughed out, as nobody would take the matter seriously. Harding destroyed the things he found, and yet a week later I saw the old man, wearing exactly similar things, playing outside Barclays Bank! I again went to the police, and was told that “They knew all about him”. It now turns out that he was disguised, and although he appeared to be at least 70, old and blind, he was really less than 50. I told this story to Taylor tonight, and was astonished to hear that he also had seen him changing in the Park lavatories, and had reported the fact to the police sergeant who again refused to take any interest. It appears that the man is quite harmless, and only disguised himself in order to make his appearance more pathetic and so get more generous alms, but it shows at any rate that there is little to prevent persons with the most evil intentions from doing the same thing. After all, this is a garrison town in the middle of a war, and one would expect the police to take just a little interest when it is reported that disguised persons are about the place.