31st January 1944

About 2 a.m. this morning heard an ‘all-clear’, yet the evening papers tonight state that there was no enemy activity over this country on the night of the 30th-31st.

Cloudy day, but quite warm.  Great excitement this morning – the brothel on the opposite side of the road had a fire, a very small, feeble fire, but the National Fire Service came rushing up with a lorry and a fire-pump, while smoke, about as much as you get from a bonfire on a wet day, oozed out of a bedroom window.

The crew walked in a very unhurried manner into the house, leaving a couple of ladders on the lawn, while several of the young ladies fluttered about.  One was wearing yellow pyjamas and an overcoat.  In less than two minutes a crowd of not less than 100, mostly children, formed on the pavement just below our windows, watching the firemen walk in and out of the house, trying to look as if they were really busy.  The young lady in the yellow pyjamas popped in and out of the door several times, and another appeared at the bedroom window, coughing from the smoke.  After about 10 minutes of staring at the front of the house with its dying wisp of smoke, the firemen started to load up their ladders again, but hardly had they got them fixed when there was a frantic clanging from the direction of the town, and along came one of the big scarlet engines, pulling up with a scream of brakes.  Firemen leaped off it before it had stopped, and dashed up the back passage and the front garden.  The crowd was delighted with this rather belated display of energy, and the small boys danced gleefully in the roadway.

At this point Watts’ old pony came along, returning from his round, and took a decided dislike to the grey and scarlet fire engines, finally prancing past them, his knees nearly up to his chin, the driver holding him tightly, as if he was nearer three than thirty.

At last all the firemen departed, mounted on their respective engines, and about five minutes later the front door of the house opened and a very furtive American came out, cap in hand, and slunk off towards the town.

This afternoon there was a special meeting of the Committee to consider the labour position on all farms, but few members had made the necessary enquiries.  It was really a waste of time. 

The girls managed to serve them all a cup of tea in very ill-assorted mugs.

Tonight to Higham by 7.  No beacon.  The moon is waxing, and I shall be thankful when it is gone.  Cloudy tonight, and quite warm.


Robin King said...

Great excitement, apparently, just round the corner from our house! I have no memory of it, however; I was not quite seven years old, perhaps my mother kept me inside. The presence of this "establishment" so near to us remained unknown to me until I read of it earlier in this diary. The innocence of youth (then).

E J Rudsdale said...

Many thanks for your interesting comments, Robin - it is amazing what the journals reveal about the streets close to where you grew up.
Best wishes, CP