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spread on sand. Glare of sunshine outside. Splitting
Sounds. Thrumming of piano in officers5 mess—not
quite out of earshot.
Lorries rumbling along road fifty yards away.
Troops marching and whistling. Bagpipes—a long
way off. (So is Scotland.) Egyptian labourers go past,
singing a monotonous chorus, which seems to go up
into the light, somehow. r
Officers' Mess; analysis. Drinks; drinks. Writing some
letters. Someone says "Only one mail in the last three
weeks." Bored men reading stale Bystanders and other
illustrated papers. Amy Woodforde Finden's oriental
popularities being pot-pourri'd on the tin-kettle piano.
Otherwise ante-room quite cool and pleasant. Slim
grey birds chirping in the roof. Onions for lunch. Why
put that down, I wonder? . . . Wounded officer back
from hospital said to me "They bung you back quick
enough nowadays. I can hardly walk!"
This morning. Suez Canal from train. Garden at
Ismalia—a bit of blossom and greenery among sandy
wastes. Waiting at Canal bridge for two big ships to
go by. Talked to two Irish officers in the train. One
knew Ledwidge the poet, and said "he could imitate
birds and call them to him"—a tiny glimpse of "real
life" in this desert of officer mentality. Am feeling ill
and keep on coughing.
March 4. Marshall and I posted to 25th Battalion
to-day. Moved across to Yeomanry Base Camp (half
a minute's walk!). Another day of arid sunshine and
utter blankness. The sand and the tents and the
faces—all seem meaningless. Just a crowd of people
killing time. Time wasted in waste places. People go
up to the Line almost gladly, feeling that there's some
purpose in life after all. Those who remain here