18th to 20th September (1917)

Just seen a lovely triangular pillow fight between two bald-headed men and a thin chap.  Physical drill at 2 p.m. is a disgusting innovation and gives us all indigestion.  R. materialised with hands-full of boot protectors, whereat we stole, boots in hand to the parson’s hut, where a cobbler’s last was secreted.  There we made the walls shake belabouring our nether gear with the remains of a poker, then strode iron-shod into the night – to what Ultima Thule? what “wished and glorious metropolis”?* – Crondall.  The air was cool and clear but nothing to the beer.  You will be surmising that we were over-bibulous but no – 3 half pints of the best bitter and all the fitter, returned we to durance vile.  At one stage we bellowed Up from Somerset to the alley’s titanic (not of cypress but elms) and probably to the astonishment of wakeful cottagers.  The landlady of the pub at Crondall gave me a farthing.

[Physical training exercises at the New Zealand Artillery camp, Ewshot, 1/2-014102-G, National Library]

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* The phrase “Wished and glorious metropolis” may be from “Marpessa”, by Stephen Phillips.

Or since thou art a woman, thou shalt have

More tender tasks; to steal upon the sea,

A long expected bliss to tossing men.

Or build upon the evening sky some wished

And glorious metropolis of cloud.