By LornaL

December 5th 1940

Thursday December 5th

Today we had a letter from Auntie Eveline[1] which only too clearly gave us a picture of the damage in Bristol. The worst of it is somehow I don’t feel any different about it – I don’t feel stunned or prostrated by it. I don’t seem to feel it at all.

As far as one can gather, a wedge of the town with the University as its apex, and one side of Park Street as its boundary, is simple gone. In one night all the intimate associations of the past have vanished: the art gallery, where I have spent many an hour; the museum with the skeletons of which I had such fears; the Prince’s Theatre, the Hippodrome[2], Marianne’s, Jolly’s[3] and a hundred other pieces of the “furniture” of my existence – simply gone.

Soon we shall have no past, just as - at the moment - we seem to have no future.

Wimereux gone, Boulogne gone, now Bristol. London was so big and impersonal; Coventry, I hardly knew; but Bristol represented all the most settled, rooted aspects of my life. One lived in Ilford, Sheffield, Leigh[4], Malvern, but somehow Bristol was home.

Even after Grannie died there seemed to exist a platonic Craigmore[5] with Auntie Daisy[6] perpetually waving at the window, and Grannie coming into that dark hall, ponderously but quietly saying “Well, dears”. There was a remote nursery upstairs with faded fairy tale people on the walls, where one didn’t remember being particularly happy, but which seemed to be the beginning of all things that had any continuity.

As one of a not very fortunate generation, I never had a sensation of having very deep roots. Now I don’t seem to have any at all.

Only too well can I imagine the desolation of these once prosperous streets.  After Bailleul[7] at the age of six I don’t have to see what a ruined town looks like or smells like. Only this time I wonder if I shall ever dare to go and look.

How fantastically everything is distorted and underlined. I was going with Arthur[8] to the University to look at his specimens. For some reason I didn’t go. Now there’s probably no laboratory to go to! How ridiculous one feels tempted to console oneself with some trite remark about procrastination.

Did I mean all that “burble” I wrote on May 15th? No, of course I didn’t. I still clung to the mad idea that although one may get windy at times, things don’t really happen like this. Something intervenes at the last minute to prevent them.

Wouldn’t one be hideously afraid if one knew about the future what one knows about the past? I am glad to see by the entry of May 12th–14th that I recorded that the “rats” were gnawing at me , although it makes the memory of that precarious holiday in Bristol more poignant.

[1] The wife of Lorna's Uncle Arnold, brother of Lorna's father Albert

[2] It looks like Lorna was mistaken: it was the Coliseum Theatre that was destroyed by enemy aircraft on the 24th November 1940.  See http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/BristolTheatres/PrincesTheatreBristol.htm

[3] A department store. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolly_%26_Son

[4] Leigh Vicarage, Malvern.

[5] Grannie died three years earlier on 15th September 1937 aged 82. Craigmore was the house of Lorna's paternal grandparents. It is now part of Glenview nursing home - see https://glenviewbristol.co.uk/. There is further information about the house in the text for the blip of 12th April 2020

[6] Lorna's great aunt, sister of her paternal grandfather Gabriel.

[7] See the blips of 27th August 2020, 28th August 2020, and 30th August 2020.

[8] Lorna's first cousin, son of Uncle Arnold and Aunt Eveline. Arthur was just a year younger than Lorna. He worked in research at the University of Bristol.

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