Friday, 5 June 2009

13 August 1942

No alarm last night or this morning but lights dimmed yesterday instead of 10.30pm as formerly.  Washed my bed with soapsuds today to keep away bugs.  I have been very lucky, haven’t had a single bug in my cell yet.  Some cells simply swarm with bugs, usually round the frame and between the mesh of the wire mattress which forms the folding bed.  Rib still painful but pain spreading more towards breastbone. Hope doctor comes tomorrow.


George Skinner was a simple soul, always good humoured and not, I fancy, blessed with an abundance of grey matter, but an accurate and efficient teller.  In appearance he was a little over average height, fair complexioned, getting a bit thin on top, and pot bellied.  He fancied himself somewhat as a vocalist, his favourite song being, I recall, ’The Wagonner’  of which I remember only the title.  During the war he had seen Home service as a truck driver and was often hard put to it to vie with others, such as Bill Cheyne and Douglas Campbell, who had seen real active service in the trenches, when War reminiscences were indulged in, but he did his best.  Actually a good, harmless chap, who, I am sure was an exemplary husband and father and who could not have had an enemy in the world.  Thinking of Skinner’s efforts in the relating of his War experiences, I am reminded for a moment of another acquaintance of mine, Hector Mortimer, who was a member of the the Beechgrove choir and also of the Kirk session.  Hector was a grain merchant having inherited the business in Loch Street from his father, I imagine.  He was a good fellow, but very effeminate in speech and manner.  He also had seen service during the War about 50 miles behind the lines and it was amusing to hear him describing the distant heavy gunfire as ‘awful bangs, you know’.


1pm.  Just had a pleasant surprise in the form of a parcel containing 60 Davros and 40 ‘1001’ cigs, 2 cakes of Toilet soap, 2 packets sugar, 1/2 bottle soya and a packet of salt.  The present Sub-director (?) who brought the parcel tells me it is from Mr Sner, former administrator of the prison.  Bless him!


Charlie Worling, one of the fixtures of Head Office, was a hunchback but apparently blessedly unconscious of his deformity.  It was as if the Lord had provided him with a cloak of protective ignorance in that respect and as a result one was inclined to consider Charlie as somewhat feeble minded, it being difficult to imagine that anyone in his right senses could be so completely unaware of such a physical disadvantage.  Nevertheless, Charlie was very far from being a fool and possessed an excellent memory which I do not consider was entirely due to a Pelman course in which he had indulged. He was a small wizened body with a pair of watery blue eyes from which, apparently on account of some weakness, tears were continually oozing.  He spoke in a funny nasal, rather high pitched tone which in itself was sufficiently amusing without taking into account his other mannerisms,  Charlie was, generally speaking, an object of compassionate ridicule but sublimely unconscious of the fact.  He was very well satisfied with himself and, I am sure, led quite a happy existence.  Passionately fond of classical music, he was never happier than when he could persuade myself or some other music lover to visit his home to hear some of his gramophone records of famous symphonies.  Beethoven’s Eroica and The Planets were among his favourites.  Once, during a Red Cross Week, I persuaded Charlie to consent to the sale, among the Bank staff, of a poem I had written about him.  The proceeds were about 13/6 (today’s money roughly 55 pence (.80 US cents) for the good cause but I have often felt rather ashamed of having collected that money in the way I did.  Here is the poem.


My name is Charlie Worling
and at ‘clicking’ I’m a don.
I set all heads a-whirling
With the swank that I put on.
And when I ‘walk the carpet’
In the twilight’s dusky dim,
You ought to hear the girlies say,
’That’s Charlie!  Yes, that’s him!’

My hair it is of chestnut brown
My eyes are limpid blue.
My ties and my suspenders
Are of bright and gaudy hue.
My socks, they are a wonder,
You could see them in the dark,
And my voice it is like thunder
When I’m acting counter clerk.

My vocabulary’s choice is wide
Tho’ sometimes rather strong.
In wordy argument there’s none
Who can withstand me long.
My intellect is powerful,
For a Pelman course I’ve had,
And so the proof is given
That this system’s not a fad.

For if the Boss is in a fix
And feeling rather blue,
This message comes across the wire,
’Send Mr Worling through!’.
From this it’s fairly evident
Promotion will be mine
And when Sir Thomas has resigned,
As Actuary I’ll shine.

And then you ought to hear me sing
My love songs – they are prime!
The teardrops start to every eye
When I sing – every  time!
The I’m a nib there is no doubt,
And never will there be
One who can trumpet half as loud
Or half as long as me.

‘To be kept within the Bank’


5pm Just been out for two hours.  Two ball games.  New command but still very lenient and pleasant.

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