Bitterly cold, and more snow in the night. Feel excited at the prospect of going home. Put in an hour and a half at the office, caught 11.10. Changed at March, and while carrying my cycle up the bridge steps, felt a hand helping me. Turned to find a tall, handsome woman with dark hair, about 30, in a fur coat. Thanked her, and chatted a bit, and then travelled to
with her. Train from March 30 minutes
late, so we had plenty of time to talk.
Another change at Ely, and the next train so full we had to travel in the
She told me her name was Margaret Coulter, and she is a farmer’s wife from Elm. Mentioned that her husband is a Conscientious Objector, but if I didn’t mind, would I please call? Said I didn’t mind in the least, in fact I admired him, and that I certainly would. She sounded very bitter about the war. Among other things told me that A.R.P. organisations were to be improved and increased, as “the Government don't know how far the Russians may go.” This was said by the Norfolk County A.R.P. Controller at a recent meeting of A.R.P. personnel at Elm.
In the carriage at March was an American, who started talking about cows in
California, whereupon Mrs. C. rather
startled the whole coach by explaining that she was on her way to Cambridge to
collect a bottle of semen which was being sent express from Oxford from a
Jersey bull – her husband is trying to build up a pure bred Jersey herd, and is
much in favour of artificial insemination, in spite of the fact that the
nearest suitable registered bull is 100 miles away, and the fact that each
service, including a vet’s fee of £2.2, costs him £5. Was there ever such madness?
Much talk in the train between the American on the (to him) unsatisfactory state of English milk production. Left the charming lady at
Cambridge, after giving her coffee, and caught the Colchester train.
Very late in leaving, over an hour late, because there was no
engine. Another long wait at
Bartlow. A railway guard got in, coming
back from March to Easthorpe. He had
been up to March for a train which had been cancelled because there was no
engine, and so was on his way back. We
got talking about the present decay of the railways which he blamed upon “the
higher-ups” and the enormous amount of troop trains going through with men on
leave from Europe.
Got talking about farmers. Said he had a bit of land of his own at Kelvedon. Complained that the War Agricultural Committee had never paid him for a ditching scheme, so I got his name –
Taylor – and promised to make enquiries. He said that rockets were now falling very
commonly in the Chelmsford
area, but nothing very near his house so far.
There was also a warning for ‘divers’ last Thursday night, but nothing
came his way.
Very little snow on the ground south of
but very cold. The sun was setting in a
clear golden sky.
Stayed a couple of hours, and then went to Holly Trees. Poulter glad to see me. Poulter says he thinks Hull will bring his eldest daughter into the Castle as soon as she leaves school, and he also thinks that Mrs Slaughter, who is doing a good deal of amateur archaeology, will also come on the staff.
In course of conversation he said that he was now quite unable to find a Morant’s “Colchester” anywhere in the building, so, when I said this was ridiculous, we went down to the Muniment Room to show him one. The place was in a terrible state, books and papers thrown about all over the floor, Wire’s Morant lying twisted and warped with its cover torn off.
Told me various local stories – a short while ago, a boy of 15 was arrested outside Holly Trees, carrying a loaded revolver and a bomb, tied to his belt with string. Somebody passing by saw the bomb under his coat and went down to the police station to tell them.
Left just before 9, hurried through dark and crowded streets (lights in High Street and
North Station Road, nowhere else) and
went out to Lt. Rivers. The Roses were
only moderately well, the baby very ill again, and the lovely Siamese cat is
dead. Carter was there. Much general talk, but oddly enough no war
talk, and we did not hear the 9 o’clock news, which is unknown in Lt.
Rivers. A few distant explosions from
time to time, but no ‘divers’.
Home to Woodside at 11, and so to bed in the front room, after a glass of milk and cake.