23rd November 1944 - Shurlock Row

Drizzle, but warm soft wind.  Went into Maidenhead to get new ration card.  Cycled along slowly, went down to Waltham St Lawrence village, saw the old pound, presented to the parish by Lord Braybrooke, 1937, now rapidly falling into decay.  At each corner is a massive ancient oak, one of which has now collapsed into an empty blackened shell.

The great yew by the Lych-gate is still flourishing now only a few months short of 290 years old.  This living tree has seen every christening, marriage and burial in the parish for nearly 12 generations.  A tree that has seen so much joy and suffering must surely be different to other trees.  Went on through the pleasant park-like lands of Shottesbroke.  Water lies everywhere, on grass and arable, every ditch full and running.  This land is all very level and bad to drain.  Leaves falling slowly and gently thickly, like black snowflakes.  Lovely autumn day.

Decided to go along to the Thicket, so turned off at Heywood park and saw a plane trundling across the road from the aerodrome to its standing on the other side.

The Thicket looked very desolate and wet.  The unfinished road works deep in water.  Seems most unfortunate to have begun this new road, destroying so much of the trees and shrubberies, when the same result could have been achieved by widening the existing Henley Road.

Went along the Bath Road into the town.  To the Library – papers still talking about “advances into Germany”, but according to the maps published the fronts are stationary, the Germans holding the full force of the British, American and Russian attacks.  If they can continue to hold, no-one can foresee what frightful disasters will overtake this country next spring (or even before).

Changed my ration card.  Strange how the Food Office are apparently prepared to do this time after time, and ask no questions.  It would seem that to be in the possession of a ration book at all absolves one from all suspicion of criminal intentions.

Everybody was hurrying about as the shops (and Library) prepared to shut for the day at 1 o’clock, so decided to go to Slough.  Tremendous amount of traffic on the Bath Road.  At Taplow the stacks of barbed wire are literally higher than the nearby houses.  At Cippenham saw a bus load of Catholic schoolgirls all dressed in grey, with 5 black gowned nuns, going into the Commodore Cinema to see the film “Song of Bernadette”.

At Slough saw a black-smiths just at the beginning of the main street, a large prosperous looking shop, no doubt a relic of coaching times.  Quite a lot of horses and ponies in Slough, whereas in Maidenhead there seems to be only a few scruffy ponies.  Yet both towns are flat, well laid out, and very suitable for horse traffic.  (NB – notes should be prepared of the suitability and actual use of horses in various towns).

Not far from the smith’s is a bomb-ruined house, and in the main street Woolworth’s is burnt out, although the lower part is repaired and in use.  Bought some cakes and apples for Margery.  Went into the Granada Cinema Café in Eton Road to get lunch, but could get no service from the rude pert little waitresses so came out again after quarter of an hour and went along to Eton.  The damage at the college is worse that I thought – a whole block burnt out, right up to the main gateway.  Wonder if it will ever be rebuilt.  The shelters on the opposite side of the road, which I saw being built nearly 6 years ago are now grass covered and settled down as if they intend to be part of the landscape for years to come, as no doubt they will be.  Eton boys, some in short jackets, some in tails, some bare-headed, some wearing toppers, were running in and out of the buildings and crossing the road with books under their arms.  The clock struck two.

The huge bulk of the Castle, the battlemented walls, the Curfew Tower, came into view across the river, just as it always was.  Somehow Windsor looks better, nicer, more pleasant that I had thought.  Went down to the river side, and watched the fast muddy stream swirling by down to London.  Some 30 swans, many this year’s signets, drifted down or held themselves against the current, and when I threw bits of bun amongst them they scrambled madly, with a flock of gulls joining in overhead and even sparrows twittering on the shore, hopeful for a few crumbs.

Wandered along past a row of bombed cottages near the railway bridge, and so up to the Castle, which is now closed.  Noticed that the “Nell Gwynne house” controversy seems to be ended – one half now claims to be “Nell Gwynne” and the other half has adopted the title “King’s Head Café” with a sign board showing Charles II.  The plaque on the house states “1640 Nell Gwynne lived here" or words to that effect.  Actually she was not born in 1640, and if it refers to the house I am afraid I must disagree there also – I’m sure the place was not built before 1670.

The Old “Market House” is still leaning over at a fantastic angle.  Went by the Royal Mews Gate, and could hear the clanging of a blacksmith’s hammer in the stable yard.

Fine and sunny afternoon.  Walked to the Park Gate and looked along the Long Walk, covered with orange and brown leaves, shining in the autumn sun.  Distant firing on a rifle range.

Walked back in the town and found a cinema advertising “Charlie Chaplin Films”.  Went in and saw three – “The Adventure”, “The Cure” and “Easy Street”.  Nostaligic.  These films are now historical.  Remembered as a child of 7 or 8 seeing “The Cure”.  Next to me was a little girl of about 8, yelling with laughter at the antics of people 30 years ago.

It becomes less and less of a pleasure to go to cinemas.  No matter how good the film is, the audience chatter and shuffle, walk in and out as they please, the attendants laugh and talk together loudly, leaving doors open with the wind sweeping in.  The sound apparatus is badly adjusted and roars, bellows and distorts.  I cannot understand why it is impossible to have small select cinemas, to which the audience is admitted at stated times only, where there is a good orchestra, well mannered ushers and only the best films.  If they charged 5/- a seat it would be worth it.

Came out into the moonlight dusky streets, got a cup of tea at a snack-bar at the foot of the Castle Hill.  The crescent moon hung low over the dark battlements, cloud-rack scudding across, and the Curfew Clock rang and chimed at 6 o’clock.

Cycled off along the Maidenhead Road, scurrying along because of no rear light.  Turned off at Holyport, past the Riding School, the same as when I came nearly 6 years ago, [for the Royal Windsor Show] the day I went to Winkfield for the thatcher. 

Water gurgled in the brooks, trees whispered, moon shone through thin drifting clouds.  Only one or two planes about.  Heard a clock strike 7, and found it was White Waltham.  Near Shurlock Row a row of slim ash trees, with fine lace-like heads, silhouetted against the moon.  The sound of distant trains, a barking dog, geese cackling.

Felt rather tired.  Bed 10.30. 

1 comment:

Jane said...

I liked the description of cinemas, it can be the same today but with popcorn and 'phones too!!!