1st July 1944

Woke to heavy rain.  No sound of ‘planes moving at all.  Voices calling in the field behind something about a dog.  Headache.  Intolerable morning at the office. 

Took a map of Wales to the office to show one of the Land Girls who is going there for her leave.  Daphne very interested, wants to go also.  Says she would like to go with me.  Looking at the map makes me feel an irresistible longing to be in “Cyrmu fach”.

Heard that Mrs Round is in the Isolation Hospital with diphtheria.  Can't imagine how she could have caught such a thing.  The Colonel is very worried.

This afternoon took Hampshire some peas from Mersea, which pleased him.  Home and found Father very well indeed, quite unusually bright.
Went into Motum’s harness shop on East Hill.  Showed me a breeching in for repair which he had made originally 30 years ago.  It now needs new chains for the first time.  Says he can recognise his own sewing in the same way smiths can recognise their shoes.

While I was there a tall dark woman of about 40 came in, smartly dressed in rather cheap clothes, wearing a little black hat and an “eye-veil”.  She said: “I’ve called about a hatbox which my sister brought here some time ago.”
“About how long ago?”
“Well, it would be about the time of the ‘Battle of Britain’, because she was staying with me then, and then she went back to London to clear her house up, and she was bombed there and buried, and she lost both her legs.  Of course, she was in hospital a long time, and forgot all about the case, but when I went up to see her the other day, to see how she was getting on, she said to me ‘I wonder if my case is still there?’  So I said I’d come and ask.”
“Let’s see, now, a dark brown hat box, would that be it?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“I’ll get it.”

He went through the low doorway at the back of the shop, stepping over piles of broken harness, into the dark cave behind.  The woman stood holding her handbag and her purse, her eyes staring into the far distance. 

Motum came back with a shoddy artificial leather bag.
“Is this it?”
“Yes, that’s it.  Oh, she will be glad to get it back.  You see, having lost both her legs and with all these bombs about it’ll cheer her up, won’t it?  How much is it?”
“Eighteen pence.”

The woman, paid, smiled, and thanked him, and said: “Well, I’ll take it along to her as soon as I can.  It’ll cheer her up a bit, because naturally, having lost both her legs and been in hospital such a while, she feels a bit low.  Good afternoon.”

And she walked out up the hill, carrying the shoddy hatbox in her hand.

Went on to Dedham, and took some peas there.  Talked about the London raids.  Sisson says damage is very bad indeed.  There was an alarm at half past 8, when Dedham Street was full of laughing children.  Nobody took any notice, and there was a dull explosion far away.  Saw pretty little Ann Barrie come out of the “Sun” with a young soldier, laughing and chattering.

To Boxted 9.30, head very bad.  Fine, felt hot and stuffy, and rain coming.  Had a delicious supper, and felt better.

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