Am now in Church Hut with J. We imagine we are going to spend the evening writing and reading, but time will show. We have been making grotesque attempts to draw all sorts of outlandish things, including ourselves, with much hilarity; then made awful attempts to play a tiny harmonium. Very funny; fell in with Guard and found 1 man too many. The Sergt. Instructor got me “snouted” because I made a mess of “port arums” and sent me off back to duty; so am taking a spell off. The gamblers every evening sit round a table calling out in a varying tones, “bust me for 6d”, “bust me for 3d”, “bust me for a bob” and so on. I haven’t any idea what game it is – and as regularly as clockwork all are taken by surprise at lights out and grumble about, getting undressed and making their bunks in the dark. Their facial expressions during play are a study. Incredible how very few of the men take even the remotest interest in the scenery, men, or manners of the countries in which they find themselves. Many of them hardly ever move out of the camp and they look back upon Oldham as a sort of Earthly paradise!
A pretty sure indication that we are to move off to France before long was that a handful of men (all the football team) were today transferred from our section to one of the others. If you want to “swing the lead” here you only need to play a band instrument or play the game – not THE GAME. The hardcase who resisted my efforts in physical jerks the other day is a character. He “fell out” with a fatigue party which he didn’t belong to, and when the officer asked him why, cooly replied that he thought it would be better than physical jerks. The officer, a returned man, only grinned.
[Recreation room at the New Zealand Artillery camp, Ewshot [c 1918], National Library 1/2-014107-G]
[Canteen at the New Zealand Artillery camp, Ewshot [ca 1918], National Library 1/2-014106-G]