September 25, 1916
Father's of the 6th. from "Valhalla", and Marjorie's of the 10th. from Kendal Avenue came this morning. How I should like to see Aubrey Rand again - a family man. In some ways my old friends have left me behind. Eric MacDonald for instance of whom more anon. The tale of the partridges makes my mouth water. We have had a bit of rabbit for lunch several times; but not as tastily prepared as I could do them.
I had a most delightful weekend in London. Got there at 2.30 and took the tube to St. John's Wood. Found Porter and Skilling and our other Canucks doing well - all polishing and cleaning. I thought we did enough of it, but the R.H.A. is very swagger - white belts and gloves, that have to be pipe-clayed; and spurs that have to be burnished. However, it was not long before Skilling and Porter were ready for public eye, and we cut off down town to get a ticket for a show. We tried "Daddy-Long-Legs"; but could not get seats, so nosed around a bit, and finally booked for "Broadway Jones." As we were not far from St. James Square I took the opportunity of dropping in at Cleveland House to see Chaplain MacDonald. I was fortunate enough to meet him in the corridor and spotted his ascetic figure instantly. He didn't know me, of course, until I told him my name. Then he was cordiality itself. He took me to his office and we had ten minutes very interesting chat before his chief came in to tell him that the departmental car was waiting to take them home. Eric has had a really remarkable military career. He is a major now, and has been a company commander for several months. More than that he has developed quite a tactical genius; and is entrusted with working out all the little tactical coups of his battalion. Another division has tried to get him with an offer of battalion second-in-command; but his General would not sanction the transfer. He has been mentioned in dispatches a number of times. It seems very strange to me when I think of the delicate little stuttering lad that I knew, though even then he had considerable of the fighter in him. In all the time he has been at the front he hasn't missed a trip to the trenches, and so far has gone untouched. His father shows the marks, however, of the long months close to the shadow. He was very anxious when I saw him, as word had just been received of very severe fighting and heavy casualties on the Canadian sector, details of which had not yet arrived. I went own-stairs with him and introduced Skilling and Porter whom I had left below. Then his [word missing] came up and said that he was just going down to the Savoy with another officer, and suggesting that MacDonald take us along home in the car with him and then send it back to the Savoy for the. So we had a pleasant little spin at government expense to MacDonald's lodging and then were taken back to the Strand Corner House. The chaplain wished of course to be very kindly remembered to all of you.
We had some supper at the Corner House, and then went to the Princess to see "Broadway Jones". which proved to be the most delightful farce - full of laughs of the best American variety.
We got back to St. John's Wood and had just gone upstairs when the guns began to boom. We had heard rumors of an air-raid on the way up so we piled down to the square to see what we could see - which wasn't much - just an occasional searchlight swinging across the sky. The real show was the other side of London, and was hidden from us by a low mist. It was not until morning, therefore, that we learned of the destruction of two of the raiders. Sunday morning Porter showed me over the establishment - guns, horses, harness, etc. Then Skilling and I walked over to the Zoo, and had a hard job to tear ourselves away in time for dinner.
After dinner we three took the bus to Finchley where we made connections with some of Skilling's friends from Leeswater and went down to Albert Hall to hear a concert in aid of the Canadian Base Hospitals - massed Canadian military bands under the direction of Sir Thomas Beecham. Albert Hall itself was worth the four bob we paid for seats in the pit - and the music was magnificent. Three hundred instruments didn't make a bit too much sound in such an immense place, and to watch Sir Thomas handling them beat anything of the kind I ever heard. (I think I have the senses a bit mixed; but you will understand.) After the concert we all crossed over and examined the Albert Memorial. Then walked up Rotten Row to Hyde Park Corner, where I said good-bye and caught the bus for Paddington. Had just time for a bite before the 7.20 train for Oxford. There is a later train (9.50) but I thought after so much gadding about I'd better get back and have a decent night's sleep.