One meets with a variety of men in an establishment such as this: N.Zers, little Lancashires from the cotton mills and factories; burly Cumberlanders with a brogue like a wire entanglement; tall, superior, moustachioed Life Guardsmen, now despoiled of their gorgeous peacetime paraphernalia and acting as infantry, whilst retaining something of the “swank” of a crack regiment. The class distinctions are very much more marked in the British Army. The officers are more stand-offish. There is something about their rounded highly-cultivated voices and apparent absence of all emotion that I cannot quite stomach; hang it all! a man ought to be human, even if it does occasionally cause him to make an ass of himself.
The Tommy is completely under discipline – he stands before his superior officer, with the air of an inferior before a superior, a humiliating sight to those who have dreams of the equality of man. They gape in amazement at the comparative freedom of our fellows in the awful presence of Authority. Is England a Democracy?
(Adjournment for pills has broken this masterly train of thought.)
There is a N.Z. born Irishman (None other than the redoubtable Rowley who afterwards came into a barren title and distinguished himself in the divorce courts) here who puts me in mind of Whistler. He is small, perky and irrepressible; holds the floor wherever he goes and somehow or other manages to rule the roost and get his own way. He is prime mover in a bridge-party whose session commences after breakfast and continues until dark. They sit in a circle under an apple tree, the Irrepressible conducting them as one conducts a band. As I have just been handed a mystic tin clipping which entitles me to a meal I shall quit babbling awhile and eat.