February 12th 1940 – Madras


Thursday night Padre John and I went to Connemara after dinner for a quick one. Met old Ruffle, who invited us to his party – pretty bloody awful, as I didn’t feel like drinking and was rather tired. So Ruffle, who was in a worse condition, and I drank Rose’s lime juice. Hart, R.I.N., and three hairdressers there. I dance with one Renee, so small you can hardly see her. Friday we all go to the garden party at Government House. The Governor arrives down a lane of bodyguards with the “old guard”, including the C.O., drawn up to receive him – sing God Save the King – and we get down to it. The tea is foul so I drink orange juice. All the Indian stiffing themselves with both hands as hard as they could go. We all walk round and chat about this and that, I and Marjorie and the rest. Then I go back with Padre and Downe, the rest of the boys going to the Connemara early night with Major and Mrs Springfield. I drink beer with them and then to bed.

Saturday sailing with Willie in “Thistle”. We have a hell of a race with Low and Gibbs in Lapwing. But local knowledge and the better sailing of Low wins the day, though we lead on the start and nearly catch him up again on the second time round from Cassinode to Seamark. “Thistle”‘s mast isn’t stepped right and Lapwing just sails faster than we do on the port tack. We keep the spinnaker up as extra jib during the last home stretch, but his lead is too great and he gets away.

Back at 6.45pm and off to a cocktail party in the Fort, given by Steve and Mickey Thomas to some of their lads who are going off to France, including Michael Hunter. I sit and talk to Marjorie for a bit and then she goes home, I having fixed a date at the “Gym” with her for 10.30pm. I have had three gin and limes with water and feel damn drunk. I then have dinner in the Wilts Mess (free I hope) and then go along to the Sgts Mess where I meet Sgt Webber, an old friend from Camp. RSM Milsom not there disafortunamente. Have a lime pani and feel sober again. Major Lloyd RIASC passes out on the floor and then I go to the Gym in Gibb’s car, my own Royal Taxi having disappeared. Here I meet John and the Hughes’ in whose party Marjorie is. I refuse all offers to booze, manage to collect Marjorie for a couple of dances and then push off.

I manage to get Mr Spencer’s, presumably THE Spencer’s, driver to drive me home, give him 5/- and am in bed by 1am.

Saturday morning I go flying 20 mins solo. T-B shows me the figures of eight. I try at 600′ and in 15 minutes have reached 1200′. I glide down and try again. When landing I am a bit tired and heavy and only just pull up in time as she hits the ground. She bounces, I put on some engine, and eventually she flops to a rest. I notice a twitch in my left knee as I climb out – why?

At 10.15 Marjorie picks me up in the car of one Leslie Cooper and off we go for a picnic at The Seven Pagodas (Mahabalipuram), some 45 miles from here. We stop and repair the back brake on the way, but eventually arrive at the canal, which is crossed in a sort of houseboat after much garbar (Urdu: The hungover, still intoxicated feeling you experience the morning after a long night of partying – is this what he means?) the cars being left this side – Mr and Mrs Buller, Annette and husband, Steve and Jean Gordon, Eve Maynard and Leslie Cooper. We bathe and have a picnic lunch in the Collector’s bungalow. Then we look at the Five Rathas, have tea and its time to come home. Casuarinas, acacias and some other flowers make the whole place particularly beautiful. There’s a nice place for bathing, with rocks reminiscent of Tiree. I see a pleasant picture of a small cove with a long beach one side, and in the foreground this side a huge rock just at the water’s edge, with palm trees at the edge of the beach and Marjorie and Eve washing the sand off their feet in the sea. They wave to me to come down, and I wonder when I shall see such a scene, and in such a setting, again. Shades of Tiree, but there I had no picture for my frame!

A very nice drive back with Marjorie in the back seat. She gives me a hand and we talk sweet nothings. 45 miles, a fine sunset, a bit of a moon, but it has to end at St Thomas’s Mount.

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