Dear Diary,

By M@ Last edited 223 months ago

Last Updated 28 December 2005

Dear Diary,

To-day was the most glorious of days. A bright sun shone through the cloudless sky, so as one could quite forget the season, were it not for the countless bunches of holly and mistletoe adorning every doorway, and the fresh chill of the morning.

I still marvel at our good fortune, here in Ruislip. Only two years ago, our modest village seemed so isolated. Now I am able to board an electric train bound for Baker Street and the gaiety of the Big City. Oh, and I can get to the Prudential, of course. I could never have taken on my clerk’s role without the new station at Ruislip. Mother was a little disapproving, at first, naturally. She still thinks this is the 19th Century, where young ladies should take nursing jobs, or else find themselves a husband. Fancy!

To-day’s journey was uneventful, and I arrived at Holborn Bars 20 minutes early. This is my last working day before Christmas, and Mr Benton has given all of us ladies the afternoon for ourselves. I can’t tell you, dear diary, how the morning did stretch out so. We all enjoy our clerking here, despite the constant noise from the workmen (I ask myself, will they never complete this monstrous building?). But the thought of finishing early and rummaging around Gamage’s was so very distracting.

At lunch, in the refectory, Mary told me how she had injured her foot this morning, and did not think she could ride her safety bicycle home. Oh, I wish I could have seen the look on my own face when she offered the bicycle to me for the afternoon. All thoughts of Gamage’s went out of my mind when I realised I would be able to ride over to Knightsbridge and visit the new Harrods department store for the first time. Of course, I won’t be telling mother!

I set out a little uneasily at first. The traffic in Holborn is frightfully wicked. All manner of horses and motors jostling for position with Hansoms, bicyclists and those on foot - and so many omnibuses! Not to mention all the ‘little brown obstacles’, as Mary calls them, which one has to avoid riding through. She says that the poor old horses will be all but gone before long. Imagine that! At least the smell will improve.

Leaving Holborn, I turned onto the new road known as Kingsway. I remember the sight, only two months ago, when Their Majestys opened this great causeway – all tents and bunting and trumpet blasts. It looked much bleaker to-day. Only a few buildings lined the roadside, and the squalor and depravation is there for all to see behind the many empty plots. I had to shiver. This area resembles a street-fighter’s mouth, with half the teeth knocked out. The great crescent they’ve called Aldwych was even more desolate, with little but workmen’s huts as far as could be seen.

The Strand and Trafalgar Square were, of course, much more a scene of life, despite those awful goings-on at Charing Cross a couple of weeks ago. The handsome little clothes shops were tempting, but I pressed on down the Mall, and on to Knightsbridge. Quite a long way for a lady on a bicycle, I should tell you!

What can I say, dear diary, about Harrods? I was overwhelmed by its terra cotta grandness. And inside! Well, upon my word what a dizzying expanse of goods for sale. I treated myself to some Parisian perfume, and bought a few items for mother and father. I felt a little out of place at first, wearing Mary’s divided riding skirt amongst the high and mighty, but the excitement of the elevators soon took such concerns from my mind.

After an exhausting but exhilarating day, I journeyed home on the Metropolitan Railway, having first returned Mary’s bicycle to her home in Fitzrovia. My mind is now turning to to-morrow, when I’ve promised to meet Mr Bartholomew for the dance. Gosh, I haven’t seen him since he took me to watch Lottie Venne at the Palace Theatre! Well, to-morrow we shall go dancing in Covent Garden. Mr Bartholomew has promised that he will teach me the Cakewalk. Of course, mother disapproves and says that such dances are not becoming of a young lady and that I should learn to waltz. What rot!

I have to go now, dear diary, as the candle is nearly spent. Oh for one of those electric lamps we have at the Prudential! Until next time, toodle-pip!