February 4th 1940 – Madras


Went to Adyar tea dance given by the Sprocketts. John and I went with Appleton in his car. A couple of new RAF boys, ”Dickie” Bird and “Peggy” O’Neill arrived. The Wilts band performed, and the drummer boy had a high seat and grinned at all the women. One girl I danced with, Eve Maynard, I had to manoevre so she could see him. Not being a member of the joint, with difficulty I obtained two chota pegs and when it finished at 8.30pm we went to the Connemara – the 2 RAF chaps, myself, Celia, Daphne, Eve and one Joan Swann. John had found some’at else. When all finished we went on to the Gymnkhana, returning to bed about 01.30.

Thursday played squash with Jim Robbins. A training aircraft crashed the other day whilst the pilot, an Indian, was 100′ off the ground, at some provincial landing ground. He got windy of the enquiry and on his statement put that he could remember nothing until he woke up in hospital. The machine was written off. Did a couple of chukkers solo yesterday and getting better, I hope. Whist getting into one of those Blenheims the other day, one of the pilots accidentally pressed a button and the guns started off, pointing towards Madras!

On Friday 2nd we give our farewell “cocktail dance”. Flowers arrive and I spent the morning helping Mrs Springfield and Jane with them. The racecourse lend us ‘Pots, plants containing’ and their head gardener fits them up in a few minutes. We hire a shamiana (urdu word for an outdoor marquee for entertaining) for the bar, the Wilts band in the ballroom and ours in the garden. John’s room is, suitably, used as the Ladies room, and they all admire his photo round the walls.

Before the guests arrive, Lt Beale observed the shamiana concocting a ‘white lady’, brooding about alchemists and their work and wondering why it turned pink? They all arrive, about 150 of them. We are drawn up on the verandah at 8pm, B.O.s and wives. His Excellency de-busses to ‘God Save the King’ and then shakes hands all down the line. After that – let the play commence. I have a dance or two with Celia, Daphne and then catch Marjorie Buller. Having hidden a few Pink Ladies I am in crashing form, beating old boys on the back and telling them they look thirsty and explaining to dames that we don’t keep no soft drinks here. Marjorie in cracking form too and I walk her “out of the out gate and into the in” – but nothing doing.

There’s a supper bar in the eating room, and in the Frippets room a first class dining saloon for the Governor and those selected as fit by his ADCs. Sidelights – William had a gap in his conscious mind from 11.30pm until he woke up in the morning. I got to bed at one and then up again to go flying at 6am. Yesterday took Sprockett to the cinema and Connemara afterwards, but as I was suffering from Boozers Gloom, not very satisfactory.

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One Response to February 4th 1940 – Madras

  1. CYNNY SHARP says:

    I would suggest that in this context a shamiana is a barman, not a tent. That would make sense, since the shamiana is mixing cocktails in the next paragraph!

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