Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sunday 18 March 1945, Marks Hall

My dear,
            Your letter and the registered envelope arrived together on Friday. I'll send my certificate book away as soon as I can, but I find I'll need to wait until the camp post office can get a large registered envelope for me. They keep only the smaller sizes in stock.

            Your letter was a much more natural one for a woman in your state. Don't be afraid of boring me with clinical details; you see I am reasonably interested in what is going on. I am pleased to see that you have got down to the theory of your subject as set out in the Encyclopedia. I thought the habit of reading about everything would ultimately prove too strong for you. I must have a subconscious desire for knowledge on the subject myself, for on Friday night I dreamt I was in a bookshop buying an enormous yellow-jacketed book with the ridiculous title "Motherhood for the Million".

           What is all this nonsense about washing curtains? Why in the name of Heaven don't you use the laundry? And why not leave the big curtains alone till I get home? Poor Irene will curse us thoroughly, I'm sure. And don't you dare to lug these heavy steps of ours about the house. As you say, you'll need to subsidise the window cleaner pretty heavily before turning him loose on our windows. If you paid him enough, he might even remove what netting remains.

           I am sorry to hear that the Encyclopedia condemns you to morning sickness for another month or two. I hope I can take as entirely truthful your statements about feeling very well all day. At any rate, descriptions of healthy meals are appearing frequently in your writing and this strikes me as being very good. I'm glad you are being sensibly selfish in consuming your own rations.

           Poor G____ will be in a ferment of excitement if, as you think, she has suspicions which she can't verify. She will be simply longing to give you advice and to recount all her own experiences for your benefit. You'd probably be better not to see too much of her later on. No doubt she is decent enough but she has a horribly Victorian attitude to the whole business, thanks no doubt to her ghoulish mother.

           So you're being "placid and optimistic". And what else would you be, please? You have no worries, we have (for once!) plenty of money, and you are as strong as a horse (remember the Matterhorn and the Pap of Glencoe!) I've always felt that in spite of symphonies, oboe parties and such trivia, there is a well-marked streak of the primeval in you, and no doubt you'll take to child-bearing like a duck to water.

          I've just finished The Professor by Rex Warner. I liked it very much though it would have been a miserable book to read just before the war. It gives a most convincing exposition of the Nazi creed of blatant egotism and brutality.  We can see that now in its proper perspective - collapsing under ten-ton bombs - but I think that book would have given me a dismal evening in 1938 or '39. I am now reading the travel book about Tunis. It has a very pleasing, consciously artistic style, and it's specially interesting because I've seen some of the places and things he describes.

                                                                                                                       7am Monday.

          I intend finishing this letter before I go off duty. I have been working most of the night and must get some bed-pressing hours in this morning, as I am on again this afternoon.

          It was nice to hear you again last night. We have been lucky recently in having a good line and I always get through without difficulty. I am disgusted to hear the time my letters are taking; but you'll see when they arrive that I am guiltless in the matter. Perhaps the service will be accelerated soon. Meanwhile I am selfishly glad that letters from your end are coming in as well as ever.

          Six weeks today since I arrived home on leave. Presumably that means I am halfway to my next leave which is indeed a lovely thought. I am going to make a fine old fuss of you this time. Meanwhile continue to look carefully after your interests and those of Caroline Mary ...

[Caroline Mary turned into Christine Margaret by the time I was christened. It's fascinating - to me at least - that the initials remained the same, and that they seem so sure of the infant's gender at this stage]


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