there was only one O.C. Bn. (he came from the Hebrides on
a free rail warrant). Owing to a mistake, there were five
students extra to the normal capacity, but I do not include
these in the thirty-five too many for the space available.
In other words, the life would be just endurable if the students
There is every reason to hope that conditions will not remain
entirely unaltered. For on the last day (and that is just
what it felt like) the Commandant said : "The accommodation
here will be doubled in about three weeks' time without
increasing the number of students - much." I hate to
think what he meant by "much". Also, in his address
of welcome, he mentioned, casually, that a fine new lecture
room was in course of construction. That did not mean much
to us at the moment of utterance. We thought he had led
us into the coal cellar merely en passant, and to
stress the informality of this first tete-a-tete.
These are on the third floor,
sixty steps up. I only entered my own
room. (To have visited others would
have added slumming to the curriculum.) In it were eighteen
beds and fourteen camp stools. The beds were ranged
all round the walls, almost touching each other, and the
fairway from doorway to window held three beds lengthways,
occupants very literally head to foot. One sidled in
and out of the room. An undernourished
camp-bed mattress, four of the cheapest "shoddy"
blankets, and a pillow encased in some yellowish, unbleached
material were provided. I was glad of my sleeping bag,
both for warmth and for protection from blanket fluff.
Windows were heavily shuttered, and the eighteen inmates
had no difficulty in providing a lifelike imitation of the
Black Hole of Calcutta long before 07.00 hours.
Only one small bulb in the centre of the room could be lit
because current was provided by a very small power unit.
Reading and writing were impossible. And, fortunately,
we didn't want to see each other.
d. Washing and Sanitation.
Under each bed was a small galvanised iron wash-basin.
On filling it in the morning, it was interesting
to see the surface of the water coated with a black scum,
formed by bits of blanket "shoddy" which had dropped
through the wire bedstead during the night's repose.
Having cleaned out one's basin it was a pleasing occupation,
after washing, to scrape the soap scum off its galvanised
surface. It stuck closer than a brother. There
was, let it be gratefully recorded, plenty of hot water.
There were also three small scullery taps. Naturally,
we formed queues, and the early sponge always got down in
time for breakfast.