No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jessie Mine: Thanks for the news about the Co’op meeting… I suppose the outcome of it is as satisfactory as could be expected – particularly in the absence of witnesses to support your case. But you must have thrown an aura of suspicion upon the coal-men, even though they had to be acquitted without a ‘stain upon their characters’. They will certainly have to be more careful in future, and other people will no doubt benefit from your action. I hope you have no difficulty in finding an alternative coal supplier, Jess – and I hope too that his employees are honest.
I can’t think of much to tell you from this end: I have had a very leisurely day. This morning, I visited the exhibition and saw the officer in charge of the R.A.C. contingent – but no further instructions had been received, so I toddled off.
The weather has been perfect – as usual – so after lunch, I went for a walk along the river and mooched around the neighbourhood of the City Island. I had a peep, too, at the Palace of Justice on the island, and was rather surprised to find no huge crowds demanding Petain’s blood. Perhaps the French people think there is sufficient excitement and blackguarding inside the court, without causing more bother for the police outside. I saw plenty of large and shiny limousines parked in the neighbourhood of the ‘Palais’ – all belonging obviously to Very Important Persons.
I saw plenty of people fishing in the river: they always amuse me. I daresay I have seen hundreds of these patient souls whilst I have been here, and altho’ I have spent some time gazing at their tiny floats bobbing about in the water, I haven’t yet seen a single fish caught. And yet, there are some big fish in the river: I’ve seen them with my naked eyes many a time. This evening, I finished up once again sitting beside the model yacht pond in the Tuilleries. It seems a pity that the fishermen can’t use this pond:- it’s lousy with fish – red ones, white ones, grey ones, and black ones. They’re practically tame, and seem to linger around the edge of the water waiting for tit-bits from the onlookers.
At 8.30pm, I landed at the Place de l’Opera, and found the square literally solid with humanity, and the police frantically trying to keep the crowds off the roadway. The French Navy band was playing on the steps of the Opera House, and above them, the several balconies (or is it “loggias”?) were draped with the French colours, with three or four microphones in the central balcony: something was obviously happening. After a few minutes, an announcer came to the microphones and said something about Grace Moore: his voice was loud and quite clear over the many loudspeakers, but he spoke too quickly for me. The naval band started playing again – and I scrammed to the nearby ‘Imperial Club’ for my supper.
It was nearly 9.30pm when I came out, and I could see that the crowd had grown… and practically won their battle with the police. The main road (Bould. des Italiens) was now almost entirely closed to traffic, and the usual army of Paris steeplejacks were sitting astride lamp-posts and monuments and any damned thing above ground level. But now, two more bands had arrived – the French “Guard Republican” (supposed to be the finest military band in the world) and an American army band: they were playing alternate pieces before the microphones. I made further enquiries, and learned that Grace Moore was supposed to have appeared at 9.0pm to sing via the microphones – but she was late:- she was late too on the occasion when I heard her before. So now I knew:- all this bloody great mass of ballyhoo had been staged for a film star: I might have known. After all, no one but an American publicity agent would have thought of three bands. I felt sick… and departed hurriedly. I don’t know whether the Great Personage turned up ultimately – maybe she did.
Whilst I have been writing, there has been much noise outside in the street. The detachment of “50th Northumbrian Div.” who have been doing the ceremonial guards at the show, have departed, (for England) and have been given a rowdy send off. When I came in after 9.30, many of them were already waiting for their transport – and in various stages of drunkenness. I’ll bet there are some sore heads tomorrow. There were sixty of these fellows, and their departure will leave the hotel much quieter. There aren’t many of us left now, Jess. We are mostly B.L.A. blokes who have exhibits to get rid of.
And now to bed – I hope everything is O.K. with you and Barry. Perhaps there will be more news of you both tomorrow.
Good night, my sweetheart