On arriving in Loughborough I was stuck for somewhere to stay. As I left the station I saw a small card on the floor. I bent down to pick it up and read what was on it. “12 Manor House” All Travellers Welcome.
I inquired where I could find this place and was told it was a short walk up the road and was set between some shops. I started to walk and within ten minutes I had arrived. It was a public house and inside lots of men were drinking and smoking. Some with dogs and some without. A lady looked me and up and down and asked if she could get me anything.
“Yes, I need a room for a few weeks.”
“Follow me and I will show you what we have.”
I followed her through the pub and up some back stairs. Then she opened the door and asked what I thought. I walked to the window and as I looked out I could see the church and the grounds across the way.
“Its perfect, I will take it.”
We agreed on a price and then I returned to the bar downstairs. Some guys were playing cards.
“Room for one more me lad.”
“Yes, thank you, I think I will.”
“I haven’t seen you before your, not from these parts.”
One of the men asked.
“No, I am from France and studying painting in London. ” “I have a good friend who lives in this town so decided to stay here.” “They have no room at their house, so I am lodging here for a few weeks.”
“Are you any good at cards?
“I play a little back home.”
I played a lot back home, my grandmother taught me. She was also a fortune teller. Most people thought it was strange, but not me. As a young lad, I thought it was exciting people coming and going from her house. Some happy others crying. I think my love for art started around this time. It was the pictures on the cards. Each one told a story. While my grandmother gave a reading I copied all the pictures. Many of the men and women that came commented on how good they were. Sometimes I don’t think they were listening to my grandmother and instead of watching me.
“So what are we playing? I asked.
“It’s called “Game Of Chance.”
“I’ve never heard of it?
“It’s not that well known.”
“So how do we play?
“Each person picks a card not showing the others, the idea is that you convince everyone you are holding the Queen of Hearts and there are only four cards.” “One for each of us.” But that’s not all we don’t know either.” “So you may or may not have it.”
“What’s the aim of the game and what does the winner get.”
“The aim of the game is to decide in a life and death situation if you have it in you to convince someone that what you say is true.” “We are all servicemen and we all know one day we may go to war.” “Outwitting other people and holding your nerve is vital for all of us.”
“As for the winner, you either got lucky or the cards were on your side and a few shots of rum to celebrate.”
After the game, I went for a walk. As I crossed the road a serviceman in full uniform passed me he took off his cap and said hello. I replied and then he went into the public-house across from me the Windmill Inn.
It was getting dark now so I headed back for an early night. Tomorrow I would see my good friend Henry.