Off to Oldham. Got aboard several wrong trams but eventually reached the G’s. All of G’s brothers are parsons but he hates city life and would like to live in the country. Like most Englishmen he is pretty reserved, a quality I don’t possess at all, but we get on well together.
Two bibulous signallers arrived at about 10 p.m. in excellent form – executed several very dishabille Maud Allan dances and knocked the stove chimney and its contents of soot down over a very jumpy youth who was trying to sleep. Thereat he rose in wrath to stoush the offender who however was too game and swiftly sat in triumph (nude) on the stousher’s head. This was followed by a lengthy bacchanalian variety show, interspersed with semi-legal descriptions of the proceedings they were going to institute against an offending tram conductor, and finally concluded with an amazing duet in Chinese (they had been acting as signallers in the Chinese boat en voyage and picked up some of their melodious lingo). I haven’t laughed so much for months.
This evening attempted to sketch the Canal. A couple of rough-looking men strolled up and one of them suggested quite intelligent improvements I might have made by taking liberties with the landscape. His small son threw a handful of dirt at me from behind.
Rain commenced on St. Swithin’s Day and it is the local superstition that if it rains on that day the rain will continue for 40 days and 40 nights.
Out grazing horses. I noticed innumerable baby frogs no bigger than a blow-fly in the wet grass – one was making frantic efforts to get out of the way of the horse’s mouth and I could imagine what the great blubbing lips of the horse looked like to him – goggly. I can now appreciate Dad’s experience when he was a boy of seeing them actually falling with the rain, probably taken up by some waterspout. His mates swallowed some of them out of bravado. Went to a sort of variety-show given by Manchester girls. Some of the songs would hardly have met with your approval, but men are made of sterner stuff. The song which took best this evening, and I must confess I rather liked it myself, was “Come and Cuddle Me”, sung by a lanky jolly-faced girl with a very large mouth. I am writing with this villainous needle-pointed pen – in fact, la putrid plume. Here endeth the umpteenth Epistle to the Antipodeans.
Am sitting with a pint of beer in a little wayside inn. After roamed about, did another sketch and found my way hitherward – inward – backward. The usual gathering of local characters, gossiping slowly in broad Lancashire, smoking and enjoying their pint-pots. Their local knowledge extends about one mile.
[Sketch by Lincoln Lee, titled ‘Roadside Pond near Oldham Harts’]
Went down canal again this evening and did another little sketch (makes me think of a popular song – “another little drink”). Went out with the wagon teams today and galumped round a rough paddock and back over the cobble stones; – like a mild and continuous electric shock. Men keep drifting in from the Hospitals, many being main-body men.
[Another sketch by Lincoln Lee, dated July 1917 and identified as being ‘Near Oldham’]
Watched a bargee and his missus manoeuvre a barge through the locks and met several of the boys out with their tarts and wished I had my tart to stroll about with. Having my usual 3d supper in Y.M.C.A whose name be praised! We had a lecture on gas today (by a sergeant who has been gassed) and put on the goblin helmets and things and breathed through the respirators – rather uncanny.