November 30th 1944


I get delayed in Andover whilst they run through me for a Board. (JDW: medical board). I pass the eyesight test OK and then dump some of my kit and get the first train to London. I try the Regent Palace, unsuccessfully, and eventually get a bed in the “Mandeville” – very dingy.

I go out in the evening to the “Windmill”, which seems a pretty poor show (JDW: the semi-nude review show which was famous for having never closed throughout the Blitz and the war), then for a drink (the first for ten days) at the Berkeley Buttery, and another at the Piccadilly Brasserie, where I meet two fairly pickled naval types, one Lt Ian Browne and Veronica McFadden, a Wren with a flat in the “Mount Royal”. After some beer we go back to the “Mount Royal”, as she has just been thrown out, and she manages to register again. Then we gatecrash the club underneath by getting odd (JDW: or old) yanks to sign us in, until it shuts at 10.30pm. On to the “Coconut Grove”, of which Ian is a member, and I ante up £2 towards a bottle of gin. Ian dances with Veronica and I sit there gloomily with the gin, and then I do. Then he retires to the gents and I go on dancing with Veronica, and he is seen no more, having taken his hat and left. This Wren cannot dance, being somewhat pixilated, and we repair to Lyons, off Shaftesbury Avenue, for some food at 3am.

I walk her home by 4am and we go up to her flat, 729, on the 7th floor, where I set to work, but soon see that she has no idea what it is for, so I cut my losses and leave – getting to bed at 4.30am.

This morning I meet Bob Martin and some dame in the park and arrange to have a drink in the Brasserie, and then I have lunch by myself in the Berkeley Buttery. I wire Aunt Viv and she says “delighted”, and I hope she is, though little does she know that I have no ration cards! I cashed a cheque for £10 in Andover but not much left, though I have the remains of the bottle of gin to show for it.

It’s 42 degrees and damn cold (5C) and my ear hurts, so I shall go out for a drink tonight and then retire to bed. Veronica rings up and leaves a message for me to ring her – but damned if I do!

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