2.2.36

Comfortable night in hostel, which I had to myself. One-storey wooden building with huge coke stove which kept it very hot. You pay 1/- for bed, 2d for the stove and put pennies in the gas for cooking. Bread, milk etc. on sale at hostel. You have to have your own sleeping bag but get blankets, mattresses and pillows. Tiring evening because the warden’s son, I suppose out of kindness, came across and played ping-pong with me till I could hardly stand on my feet. In the morning long talk with the warden who keeps poultry and collects glass and pewter. He told me how in France in 1918, on the heels of the retreating Germans, he looted some priceless glass which was discovered and looted from him in turn by his divisional general. Also showed me some nice pieces of pewter and some very curious Japanese pictures, showing clear traces of European influence, looted by his father in some naval expedition about 1860.

Left 10 am., walked to Stourbridge, took bus to Wolverhampton, wandered about slummy parts of Wolverhampton for awhile, then had lunch and walked 10 miles to Penkridge. Wolverhampton seems a frightful place. Everywhere vistas of mean little houses still enveloped in drifting smoke, though this was Sunday, and along the railway line huge banks of clay and conical chimneys (“pot-banks”). Walk from W’ton to Penkridge very dull and raining all the way. Villa-civilization stretches almost unbroken between the two towns. In Penkridge about 4.30 halted for a cup of tea. A tiny frouzy° parlour with a nice fire, a little wizened oldish man and an enormous woman about 45, with tow-coloured bobbed hair and no front teeth. Both of them thought me a hero to be walking on such a day. Had tea with them en famille. About 5.15 left and walked another couple of miles, then caught bus the remaining 4 miles to Stafford. Went to Temperance Hotel thinking this would be cheap, but bed and breakfast 5 /-. The usual dreadful room and twill sheets greyish and smelly as usual. Went to bathroom and found commercial traveller developing snapshots in bath. Persuaded him to remove them and had a bath, after which I find myself very footsore.

Distance walked, about 16 miles. Spent on conveyances, 1/5. On food, 2/8½.

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2 Responses to 2.2.36

  1. Moll says:

    In yesterday’s entry Orwell says that in West Birmingham, a spreading villa-civilization, there were no decent houses. I grew up there and the houses were quite decent in their own way, and there were even a few of old country houses (and an oldvillage atmosphere in someplaces) which had survived the villa-creep. Of course, to the educated eye the visa of rows of identical houses no doubt appeared hideous, but there were rural touches here and there in the 1930s and 1940s that added a touch of the countryside, and there were fields just a short walk away – at least there were in those days.

  2. George’s strenuous meanderings appear to be taking him through an area known euphemistically as “the coroner’s corridor” for the reason that the polluted industrial air in that area was not fit for man nor beast. No wonder poor George ended up with tuberculosis.

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