The Doodle-bug

The hotel we stayed in was almost opposite Glenlea. I have a phobia, I hate having strangers in my bedroom, with the result Sophie has never forgiven me for denying her breakfast in bed throughout the honeymoon. Because the hotel was so far from London we mostly ate out either in the City of with the family in Balham, so we rarely had meals at the hotel at the proper times. We would come home from London on the train at all hours. Each night as we handed in the ticket to the collector on the station at Dulwich he would say ‘Sorry you’ve got to walk!’ until this became a family saying. When we arrived back at the hotel there would be two cold platters waiting for us which were sumptuous and we would sit in front of a fire and review the day while we ate.
It was while we were at the hotel that Sophie first became acquainted with the Buzz Bomb. During one night, as she was a lighter sleeper than I, the siren must have woken her and then she heard the wavering, sometimes stuttering buzz of the bomb, sounding for all the world like a two-stroke motorbike with fuel troubles. Unsurprisingly she woke me and then followed a conversation for which she also has never really forgiven me. She has always considered that I acted boorishly, while I was only being logical. The difference between our outlooks rested with the facts that while I had become hardened to the vagaries of war in all its guises, she had only experienced a few air raids, and being half asleep I reacted normally instead of in my new role as protector of the Soph.
“What’s that?” Soph, fearful.
“It’s a Doodle-bug.”
“Its a what?”
“It’s a Doodle-bug, a flying bomb.”
“Oh my God!”
“Don’t worry, Dear, if you can hear it you’re safe and if you can’t its too late to do anything about it.”
“You’re dead?”
“Yes. Go back to sleep, it’ll be all right, we get hundreds of them all the time.”
“You expect me to go to sleep? Shouldn’t we be in a shelter?”
Then followed the placation, the reassurance, all of which was worth being woken up for, but in spite of that I was never really forgiven.

Categorized as General

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