Thursday 4th February 1943

Well it is nearly a week since I wrote anything in here. I do not know why but I have right-off writing, although I sent a telegram Monday night, to let you know I sent it to Co Cup' this time. But no reply has come yet, I enquired today. When I was ashore seeing the Doctor it was not until yesterday that I could pay him my first visit. Then I waited 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room for him. It was not his day but had arranged to see me. He did not arrive but those two hours were very pleasantly spent with his secretary, a most charming person, who's husband is in the services. She had a typical American laugh, rippling, and would laugh at anything. Even the people who kept telephoning, she would talk and chatter answering three phones at once. She was sociable with all. No one here has any fear or shyness, everyone are brothers and sisters, talking as though they had all known each other for years. Very outspoken, hiding nothing. No qualms about nature, blows her nose like me. She had a cold, no "excuse me". Used dozens of tissues, not hankie. Swing round in her chair just like films. Beautiful waiting room, smoke, do what you like, dozens of up to date magazines. There was one other woman there, she gave us each a coke a cola, laughingly saying "I cannot drink and not you too". Trying to find doctor on phone for me. She said "It's one of those things you know" - of course she could not say it was my bum. I had to go again today but ever since 6.30 this morning I have been in agony, nor could I work or even stand. In no position could I ease the pain. Goodness knows how I got off the ship, down a perpendicular ladder to the quay, through three lots of police gates, and the ferry across, and the walk.

I saw him today after 1 1/2 hours. The place this time was full up, including four others off this ship. He could not examine me as I was in too much pain, for he was going to use instruments. I've got to go again when I am not in pain. tomorrow perhaps. He can me medicine, which I have to get from a Drug Store. They are funny places, they sell anything. He thinks I have ulcers. Helluva nice man. Great big building, bigger than any I've seen in England, so perhaps I will know for sure soon what it is. I have had a Yanky hair cut, very dear too. They even cut eyebrows, ears and nose. And black man brushes you down with a big broom I call it. But first he wants to clean your shoes.

Yesterday they moved us from where we first went, right over next to the ferry. Not so far to walk now but still three gates to get through. And this evening they moved us into dry dock. This ship is bigger than I thought it was. One would never recognise the engine room. All over the ship there are repairs and it is all upside down. They are putting five A.A guns on us. Why? Are we going to Russia or the Pacific. There is talk of it. There are Coloureds working everywhere. One man fell down an oil hole, he died, poor devil. They got him out with a crane.

I am glad I have not gone out tonight. I am on sabotage watch. There is a terrific storm going on, a real tropical storm. What a din, and the men do not stop work. Everything is becoming rationed over here, 1 lb. coffee - 6 weeks, and it is impossible to buy beef at all, even for the ship. And next month there is talk of rationing clothes. These Americans are wondering how they will fare. But they will soon find out. They think we British are wonderful, to stand up to what we have, bombing and everything. They are dumbfounded when told but they are very eager listeners. But they cannot make tea. You have to be able to see the sugar in the bottom of the cup, then they call it tea. But of course, they are coffee drinkers here. There is only one place here for tea and that is at this club. The English sailors have taught them. Everything is free except beer but even that is 5c cheaper than anywhere else. Music books, all games, writing, Oh everything! and they make you so very welcome.

When you go into a cafe here the first thing they do is bring a glass of iced water, even with only a cup of coffee, then you get your order American style.

I have not got drunk yet. I still remember falling out of my bunk and each time I have been on my own out. I have been to the pictures 6 times. Everything is very dear here but it is grand to see the shops, candy, sweets, and every known fruit. I'd love for you to be here living.

The Cook has been out 2 days. You see he came home one morning in time to start work, drunk, went down to his cabin and someone had put a bucket of water on his bed. He got upset and went ashore again for two days. That meant plenty of work for the Steward and me. Oh! I have had a row with the Steward but he is ok now.

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