1st October 1944 - Edinburgh

Sunny morning, with a pale blue mist across the Meadows and Links.  A very strange and horrible nightmare last night – there was a woman, young and very blonde, with no hands.  The dream seemed to go on for a very long time.

Spent the morning reading and writing, and wondering what to do next.  Wrote to Father, to tell him where I am.

This afternoon Dora took me to see the Library of the College of Physicians in Queen Street.  The building is very stately, on classical lines, just 100 years old, and is furnished in a heavy, magnificent style, very dark and sombre.  The library is excellent, containing not only medical books but works on history and topography also.  The most interesting to me is a rare work on early calotypes, by D.O. Hill and R. Adamson, which was produced in a very limited edition of 38 copies only.  It is beautifully done, with superb illustrations, and I arranged to go again tomorrow to examine it more carefully.

Back to Glengyle Terrace on the tram.  Saw great crowds by the National Gallery around the orators, very much the same as in Hyde Park.  Prince’s Street very full, people strolling up and down in the sunshine.  Only about two cinemas are open on Sundays, and the YMCA and service clubs.  All the cafés are shut.

This evening we were talking about Edinburgh, and I was shocked to hear that there are proposals on foot to build temporary houses on Bruntisfield Links and the Meadows.  Yet all the time the Lord Provost, Sir William Darling, is shouting out loud his determination to preserve the beauty of the city.

The people in the Bruntisfield district are quite naturally furious at this catastrophic suggestion, the Biggams and a Mrs Paterson on the same stair are getting up a petition to the City Council.  We talked on this, and I advised getting further details before plunging in.

Ethel went to her sister’s at the Braids for supper, and I was alone with Dora for a couple of hours.  Tried to bring myself to talk about doctors but could not.  Felt very weak all day, and a walk of a quarter of an hour completely exhausts me.  Have slept eight or nine hours these last few nights, but much disturbed by dreams and nightmares.  The sound of the trams coming up from Lothian Road is very much like a distant siren.

How kind these people are.  A little over a year ago they had never heard of me.  Interesting speculations on fate, considering the train of events which led me here – if I had not gone to Stratford that August night, I should never have met Jacqui Conran and never have heard of the Biggams.  Why did I go to Stratford then?  I had not seen Ida Hughes-Stanton for months and had no particular desire to do so.  Had I not gone to Stratford, where should I be now at this moment?

Tonight the church bells are ringing out over the city, and it is almost dark at 7 o’clock.  Three hundred miles away, at Fox One, [the Royal Observer Corps Post] they are wondering whether the divers will be over before 9 o’clock or not.  Even here my heart contracts, stops, and races at the sudden sound of engine whistles or the trams at Tollcross.

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