23rd December 1916

At Kingston. The steamer conveying our mails to Halifax left today. Leave was given from 1-30 p.m. to 7-30 p.m. but men were not allowed ashore from 1-30 p.m. unless they had a helmet or white straw hat. I did not like wearing a straw hat (sennet pattern) and not thinking it fair to have to pay 7/3 for a helmet (which are usually supplied to all men dressed in our kind of clothes) I decided to wait until 4 p.m. when one can go ashore wearing the usual cap. We, of course, land in white clothes – and which, in passing, causes plenty of washing days.

I landed at 4-30 p.m. and met one of our S. B. A’s who went ashore at 1-30 p.m. having borrowed a straw hat. I went to a shop where I knew Goss China was sold, and there purchased a piece for myself and one for a P. O. who is in bed. I also got some post-card views for your album. Leaving this shop we went and had an iced-drink – vanilla and milk – since very since. Afterwards went for a stroll around. In the course of our travels we went into a stationers shop, the proprietor of which is a gentleman from Sheffield. His daughter, a young lady of about 25 years of age also came and spoke to us. She only returned from Sheffield a month ago where she had been for a holiday. She was born here so speaks the English in the peculiar singy way prevalent here both amongst the Europeans and natives. When leaving we were asked to call in any time to see them, as they would only be too pleased to make us feel at home.

We went and had another drink – lime juice and soda this time. The street was in a perfect uproar now, the people seeming to have all come out to commence the usual Xmas Eve frivolities. Men selling confetti were doing a great trade and soon a confetti-battle was in progress. I received a “goodnight” and at the same time a big handful of confetti right in the face, this from the young lady before mentioned, who was having some fun with a girl friend. It came so unexpectedly and all I could do was to stand and laugh. The darned stuff found its way in my pockets, ears and down inside my shirt. I could not retaliate and even if I had wanted to could not have done so because the saucy cats did not wait to see the fun.

Later we passed the shop, and the saucy Miss, seeing me pass, threw her head back and laughed so heartily. I had another dose just afterwards when returning to the Pier, this time from a native boy who threw the confetti and wished me a Happy Xmas at the same time. The shops were allowed to keep their lights going and all seemed merry and bright now that it was time to go on board.

English and other white folk seemed to be very plentiful now and I felt quite happy and more at home than before with so many of the old Country about. I felt rather sorry at having to return on board just when the fun was commencing. I am told that the merriment goes on till very late into the night, and continues throughout the Xmas.

Coming to the dark old Pier and the rowdy fellows waiting to go on board was rather a contrast. The men returned aboard with live turkeys, fowls and ducks, and other necessities for the Xmas dinner. Some returned very much the worse for drink, but on the whole they were not so bad as last night. The ship has been darkened tonight, for what reason we should very much like to know. Horatio Bottomley ought to be on board this ship.

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