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Date: October 15th 1918

15 Oct. 1918

The train was an hour late. Got into London by 8:30 and after travelling from Kings Cross station to Victoria Station by Tube and bus. Got in touch with the police who informed me I had still 24 hours to get back to my unit and there was no cause for worry. At the Salvation Army I secured a bed for the night feeling sadly in need of a bath and finally to my horror I found myself as lousy as a pet coon. Hadn’t felt them before and can not understand where they came from unless the Y.M. at Glasgow or more likely the Woods hotel. But I never dreamed of having such critters at the homes where I had stayed for I hadn’t seen any for a year. I hope I have all I had!!! The situation is decidedly fearful to think upon.


All day spent about London alone. Went past the Parliament Buildings to Trafalgar Square where they had an imitation of a French village in ruins by the instrumentality of the Hun and a great ‘Feed the Guns’ campaign on to secure money for the war. Into Leicester square for Hays market intending to see The Maid of the Mountain at Daley’s Theatre but my appetite for pleasure had been so satisfied that 4 ½ shillings for standing room did not appeal to me. At all the other theatres about were long queues and the cheapest seat 3 shillings. I walked until I had a blister on my little toe feeling very lonely and up against it in the great city where beggars, poverty and wretchedness in constant contrast to richness and flourishing pleasure face one on every side. A man with both arms without hands stealthily passed a hat along a line going into a theatre and good souls dropped coopers into it. A blind woman stood begging silently, another man very much down at heel displayed some large pictures done in coloured chalk with a most delicate finish asked for pennies for his wife and three children.  A wretchedly dressed old blind man had an accordion playing in all this confusion the soul finding notes of ‘Jesus Lover of My Soul’. A sad man with grey Prince Albert whiskers and tall silk hat declared he was some business man or other with a temporary embarrassment and would I give him six pence, a slovenly woman called to me not to hurry, hard faced women screamed a continuous ‘Cards for sale’. A drunken soldier stopped me thinking I was one of those generous colonials, declaring he was a deserter and his wife was dying or something. On the towering monument of Lord Nelson was a huge sign ‘Feed the Guns’ and an endless stream of people passed beneath to feed these guns. There was, in the rear, some houses representing peasant cottages ruined by the Hun. To the pacifist of course, that destruction might have been wrought by these guns that were being fed. Whether it was a mood or something more permanent I hated London.

Returned to Victoria Street and Grovesnor Gardens where the hostel was. Wrote some letters, had supper and walked to the Themes embankment. This was supposed to be the most tragic places in London. From the rivers edge one had a wonderful view of the lights of London such as they are in these dark days. Ships, cars, and omnibuses, towers, avenues each had their lights expressing intense business and a rather hard hurried pleasure. Got back by 7:30 and into bed intending to get the worth of my 7 pence the cost of the bed for the night.