Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thursday 22 February 1945, Marks Hall

Mark's Hall from the air

My sweetheart
                     I hope I have got the day right this time. It says a good deal for the complete monotony of my life here that even with the assistance of newspapers I never know what day of the week it is.
                    I have two letters of yours to acknowledge, dated 18th and 20th. How dare you develop a stye as soon as my back is turned. The sooner you are out of school and pampering yourself at home, the better. I hope the wretched thing has cleared up now.

                   I have been wondering about your visit to Kate yesterday. I very nearly phoned at night but decided you would not want to shout such intimacies over four hundred miles of wire. So I'll just have to wait patiently for another letter to tell me whether or not we are going into production this time.*

                   Thanks for sending me Annie's letter. Her last letter to me must still be wandering round the Med. She is full of enthusiasm for her job at the Girls' High and judging by the timetable she has been given, they seem to appreciate her value. I contemplate her career with some self-gratulation [sic] rare in me and I'm longing to meet her mother again and recall the embittered fights we had over Annie's future. [This was a former pupil whose mother wanted her to get a job rather than go to University] Genetically speaking that girl is a mystery - unless there was a mute inglorious Jutson among her more remote ancestors.

                 I'm still reading far too much and with a lack of discrimination imposed on me by the library. The founder of this must have been a Compton Mac fan. I have just finished Sinister Street which I liked better than some of his others. It has some rather acute studies of childhood and adolescence but is far too longwinded. I liked Burmese Days - a nice brutal, incisive study. When my head begins to swim with too much fiction I sit down to Fowler's King's English and summarise some parts likely to be useful to me in the future. Occasionally I do some work.

                One of our men here has just got his ticket on medical grounds. I envy him his freedom though not his stomach. Just imagine the joy of leaving the RAF for ever. There have been times in the past when I would have voiced more noble sentiments and begged for the privilege of being allowed to finish the job. But now I just want to settle down with you - and anyone else who happens to come along.

                This released man is from Glasgow, is named Drummond and, as I have just discovered, used to work in the Central Agency. He knows my second cousins Charles and Jo Cassells - in which he has the advantage over me, for I would recognise neither.

               Don't bother to send on Merchant Adventurers. Good books are apt to get damaged in the post, so just lay it aside for our new book case. I shall however be delighted to receive any Penguins which your good taste selects. They will make a happy addition to the library here when I have read them.

                There is quite a stir in Parliament just now about teachers' salaries. In one way this levelling process is a good thing: it may make for unity and concerted action in the future. If however the slight differentiation in salaries leads to a falling off in the numbers of graduates and honours graduates, then changes will have to be made. Naturally I feel some financial reward is due to the more highly qualified teacher but quite honestly I think few secondary teachers would exchange their jobs with the slum school elementary teachers, even on level salaries.

                 I didn't realise G_____ was growing to such enormous breadths. Poor George will need a rope and a set of climbing irons before he can get busy - with the ever-present danger of breaking his neck if he falls off. I wonder how she would get on with her 'stoutness' on North Goatfell now? As for "nappy talk", if the future brings what we hope, I can see you having to snibben G_____ pretty sharply for the nones. Otherwise you'll be overwhelmed. I'm afraid maternity went with a rush to G____'s humourless head. Your friend Eden T. sounds as if she has a more detached viewpoint on the subject.

               Nothing of note has happened with me. I have been definitely posted here and look like staying for some time, though of course appearances of permanence don't count for much in the service. My general health is excellent. I hope you have not more of these little physical ills which are so damned annoying when you have to teach. I'm looking forward with great eagerness to your next letter ........

*Presumably the news awaited was confirmation of the already suspected pregnancy. 

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