The cars were all left in a pretty rotten condition, and the petrol was none too good. How Kirkby, the one mechanic, coped at that time, always with a cheery smile, will never be known. As Winnie aptly remarked, “In these days there are only two kinds of beings in the Convoy—a “Bird” and a “Blighter"!" Kirkby was decidedly in the “Bird” class.
“Be a bird, and do such and such a thing,” was a common opening to a request. Of course if you refused you were a “blighter” of the worst description.
As you will remember, I was only in the cook-house as a “temporary help,” and great was my joy when Logan (fresh from the Serbian campaign) loomed up on the horizon as the pukka cook. I retired gracefully—my only regret being Bridget’s companionship. Two beings could hardly have laughed as much as we had done when impossible situations had arisen, and when the verb “to cope” seemed ineffective and life just one “gentle” thing after the other.
I was given the little Mors lorry to drive. To say I adored that car would not be exaggerating my feelings about it at all. The seat was my chief joy, it was of the racing variety, some former sportsman having done away with the tool box that had served as one! “Tuppy” also appreciated that lorry, and when we set off to draw rations, lying almost flat, the tips of his ears could just be seen from the front on a line with the top of my cap.
One of my jobs was to take Sergeant McLaughlan to fetch the hospital washing from a laundry some distance out of the town. He was an old “pug,” but had grown too heavy to enter the ring, and kept his hand in coaching the promising young boxers stationed in the vicinity. In consequence, what I did not know about all their different merits was not worth knowing, and after a match had taken place every round was described in full. I grew quite an enthusiast.
He could never bear to see another car in front without trying to pass it. “Let her rip, Miss,” he would implore—“Don’t be beat by them Frenchies.” Needless to say I did not need much encouragement, and nothing ever passed us. (There are no speed limits in France.) There was a special hen at one place we always tried to catch, but it was a wily bird and knew a thing or two. McLaughlan was dying to take it home to the Sergeants’ Mess, but we never got her.
One day, as we were rattling down the main street, one of the tyres went off like a “4.2.” We drew to the side, and there it was, as flat as a pancake.
There are always a lot of people in the streets of a town who seem to have nothing particular to do, and very soon quite a decent-sized crowd had collected.
“We must do this in record time,” I said to McLaughlan, who knew nothing about cars, and kept handing me the wrong spanners in his anxiety to help. “See,” exclaimed one, “it makes her nothing to dirty her hands in such a manner.”
“They work like men, these English young girls, is it not so?” said another. “Sapristi, c’est merveilleux.”