Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sunday 28 January 1945, R.A.F. Officers' Mess, Mark's Hall

My darling
                 Since last writing I have received your letter of Jan 24th - the one enclosing Andrew's screed. I am sorry to hear that my letters are taking so long to get to you. The reason is that a censorship has been imposed on our mail and that always increases the time they take to get to their destination. Fortunately for me, incoming mail is unaffected and your delightful letters are coming through as well as ever.

                  I had a slight headache this morning due to a hefty inoculation yesterday. That, as the M.O. says, makes me completer for another year. I sincerely hope it is the last jag I'll get from the R.A.F. My headache has now gone and I'm looking forward with relish to the Sunday evening dinner.

                 It's still snowing here as if it would never stop. Since I came here the temperature has hardly ever been above freezing point and most of the time it has been far below. Underneath the snow the ground is iron hard. It actually hurts one's feet to walk on it. Still I manage to keep fairly comfortable and I feel the cold much less than I did at first. Also I've taken to going to bed at night with a brick. We heat our bricks on the charcoal stove in the hut, then wrap them up in a towel and the result is far more comforting than any hot water bottle. It makes going to bed much more pleasant but nothing can be done to alleviate the shock of getting up in the morning.

               On the whole however the weather is not as trying as what I experienced at Aleppo this time last year. there the icy winds used to penetrate all my blankets and I had to wear a balaclava in bed to keep my ears from falling off.

                Andrew's letter is very interesting. His life out there sounds very fictional. In fact, what with his bearing the white man's burden in the wilds and leaving a hopeless love affair at home, Andrew is developing his whole existence along very melodramatic lines.  I have no doubt he extracts some enjoyment from this fact at present but I wonder what his plans are for the future.  Alternately waiting for forbidden fruit to fall into his lap and then stifling his disappointment in the Nigerian forests doesn't seem to me to lead anywhere.

                 I've just read Action at Aquila by Hervey Allen. It's passable, if rather sentimental. Meanwhile I'm still struggling with Lavransdatter. It's a terrible book to read under present conditions. Winter broods over it. People are always stumbling over iron-hard snow or crying themselves to sleep in an icy-cold bed. the only time any of the characters shows the slightest bit of animation is where there is a spot of rape imminent. At other times they sigh over a gloomy past or a foreboding future. If I ever finish this book, immediately on top of Bleak House, I'll feel I've achieved something in the way of a literary marathon.

                 I hope that by now your throat is completely better. I just loathe the idea of your having to go our to work in weather like this. For Heaven's sake stay off if you don't feel quite fit. You must take care of yourself. I'm glad to hear your mother is recovering. I hope your father has avoided all the effects of this cold spell. My leg is getting better gradually. I'm resting it as much as I can and that undoubtedly seems to be the right treatment.

                I'll be phoning you later this evening. Meanwhile, cheerio darling. ...


  1. Ah. So revealing. *This* is from where the familial hypochondria stems.

    Tongue in cheek aside, it's fascinating to see that Dan's father in law wrote to him, something I can't imagine happening now. The equivalent would be a 90 year old Facebooker. It's not going to happen that often, is it?

    Was it a regular thing, a letter from Great Great Father in Law, and what did those letters say?

  2. Don't know that hypochondria is relevant - DF suffered from pain of this type all his life.