Another nice sunny day. I am walking across the level crossings, on my way to the ‘rec, when I met the very lovely Diana Symonds. She lives next to the Gas Works in Pretoria Road and was coming out of the path next to the level crossing. Diana is one of our crowd of kids who hang about up the rec. Normally, she would be with a couple of other girls, like her friend Elsie Lemmin who lives above Chertsey Station, and I would be with a couple of my mates. I really like Diana, but have never been on my own with her, It’s making me nervous.
She said she needed to go into Mrs Russell’s sweet shop just along the road, I waited outside. She was in there a long time, but I thought it would be very rude to just walk away, so I waited. When she came out, she seemed surprised to see me still standing there, and we carried on walking towards the ‘rec, but I have the feeling she would rather be somewhere else, and the conversation soon dried up.
Now, I should explain, since we were bombed out in Pyrcroft Road, I developed some nervous habits, such as an uncontrolled wink when I am under stress, also I have a habit of counting everything, such as stairs and railings—not out loud, just to myself. I tried to think very hard of something interesting to say, and I could feel a bit of winking coming on, so I said.
“Diana, do you know there are 280 paving slabs between The Bell and the Station Hotel”
She stopped walking and just looked at me, I think she thought I was telling her a joke and was waiting for the funny bit. She stood there, with what I now know—but didn’t then, was an expectant look on her face. It slowly changed to the look of panic that I have often noticed whenever I have told someone a joke and forgotten the punchline, then she said.
“Oh no, I think I’ve left the gas on”. she turned around and ran off up Pretoria Road.
I see her whenever we meet up the ‘rec’ with the rest of the gang, but I never seem to catch her eye.