Monday, February 28, 2011

Wednesday 28 February 1945, Marks Hall

My darling,
                 A pleasant mail today consisting of your letter of Monday and Merchant Adventurers. The latter has taken some time to come but is in perfect condition. I have already read half of it. Did you realise that you had given one side the quaint address "RAF Officers' Mess near Colchester Essex"? On the other side you had fortunately remembered to put Marks Hall also.

                Thank Jean for her sciatica expert. I'll enter his name in my tablets but don't think it will be necessary to consult him this time. My leg continues its slow improvement and yesterday evening I went a short walk which I enjoyed. I think I'll probably do quite a lot of walking round here in the spring.

                We have already started to arrange our roster for the next leave period. I have put my name down for the beginning of May, with a period at the end of April as an alternative. So if things go to plan, we'll be able to celebrate together your exit from the teaching profession. Your next teaching job will be a purely amateur one and you should have the advantage of a very intelligent pupil!

                I'm glad you have arranged about the bookcase. It is badly needed and will enhance the appearance of our drawing room. Do you think that when he is at 66 [Novar Drive], you could sound him as to the possibilities of that mahogany table in the dark room? There is no need to do anything about it just now; that will be impossible till I can arrange a new dark room elsewhere. But it would be interesting to hear what he says.

               Don't do anything about these Plumier photographs at present. I think I'll wait till the censorship regulations are less strict. After all, it should not be very long now before some of the amenities of peacetime are restored.

              I have fallen into a routing of doing a few hours' work for the future during my spells off duty. My present study is Fowlers King's English. It is interesting to see what changes have occurred since the book was published in 1906. Some of the words which he singles out as neologisms at that time certainly don't suggest their recent origins nowadays eg racial. While one can't hope to follow his precepts, one is forced to admire his beautiful discrimination. A study of many of his extracts from the respectable journals at that time suggests that the standard of writing in decent newspapers has gone up greatly in recent years. On the other hand colloquial language is infinitely more slangy.

             Is there any word yet of the Oxford Companion to English Literature? Next time you are speaking to Mr Meikle, will you enquire about Skeats Etymological English Dictionary? I think there is one published by Oxford at about 8/- and if so, I should like that also. That postal order which you probably haven't cashed yet will pay for it!

           Since the last paragraph I have come off duty and retired to my little tin hut. It is a lovely night, as mild as if in summer. It has really been astonishing here since I returned from leave, and quite unseasonably warm. Every tree round our hut seems to have an owl living in it and tonight they are giving a fine querulous concert. It's a mournful sound but not unpleasant.

            I've just been recollecting that a year ago tonight I was camped near Baalbek on the first stage of our long journey to Cairo. Home seemed very remote, with no prospect of getting mail till we reached our destination. Surely by another year I'll be doing all my reminiscing at my own fireside while you doubtless recount the Prodigy's exploits of the day.

            My tin of water on top of the stove is beginning to sing quietly so I must have a wash and so to bed. I hope the decrease in your morning malaise continues. Please continue to look after yourself and fill your day with taking milk, orange juice, halibut oil and vitamin A & B tablets. Thanks to informative panels in the daily press, I am as well informed of your duties as you can possibly be. Look after yourself with the most complete selfishness. It's justified at this time.


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