Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tuesday 23rd January 1945, Earl's Colne

My dear,
               Again I have allowed a longer time than usual to come between my letters. The reason as I said on Sunday night is a recurrence of my rheumatism ... I went to the M.O. yesterday and he gave me lots of Veganin tablets and a good embrocation but he says if it remains stubborn I must go into sick bay for rest and radiant heat treatment. Evidently the notion that one should exercise rheumaticky muscles has been displaced by the idea of complete rest. ....

              I heard you perfectly on Sunday night thought the line didn't seem to be so good from my end. I enjoy these brief spells of contact very much but my thrift revolted at the idea of having a double spell. You see I have given up the attempt to phone you during the cheap period which I believe ends at 9.30p.m. During that time there is always a long delay which means hanging about in a cold hall near the telephone. So I wait till everyone else has finished phoning and then I get through without difficulty. I hope you don't consider this horribly extravagant.

              Your letter posted Friday reached here yesterday. I'm sorry to hear that the cold weather has reached Glasgow and brought to you all the usual worries about freezing pipes. If it gets really bad you can leave the lamp box* on the bathroom switched on all the time: I don't think it will set fire to anything. Also, one bar left on in the dining room day and night would help to heat the loft. [of their top floor flat] However I don't believe that the cold at present is anything like as severe as it was in these dreadful winters early in the war.

                Thanks for your graceful little exposition on the Brueghel family. If you prefer the Winter Scene for the dining room we'll have it by all means. At any rate a Brueghel on the wall will enable you to dispense as a careless trifle all you know about that artistic family to our open-mouthed guests.

               I am now embarked on Kristin Lavransdatter and wallowing in its high-souled melancholy.  It seems to be well done though it is not exactly my type of poison. I don't greatly care for such thundering long books.

               You don't need to worry about my laundry. There is a weekly collection of stuff for a laundry in Colchester and I've sent my things there. Anyway, I wouldn't dream of sending stuff home to you as you have quite enough to do as it is.

               Once again the evening news bulletin is very exciting. If the Germans are going to stop the Russians and gain a few months' respite they'll have to do it in the next few days. Otherwise I think all organised German resistance will collapse and the Russians will be all over the Reich. Opinion seems to be evenly divided between those who think that the Germans will halt the Russians in time to make another spring or summer offensive necessary, and those who believe that the end is now in sight. Personally I don't know what to think but the truth should be clear in a day or two.

               I'm sorry to hear about your mother's cold. Tell her I was asking for her and make her drink a third of a tumbler of neat whisky. I hope you are not being overworked at present. Please keep well and look after yourself...

*Lamp box: to the best of my recollection this was a square biscuit tin with four holes drilled into it, into which fitted the fixings of four light bulbs, thereby producing a primitive low-wattage heater. It was still in use in my childhood.

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