Friday, April 15, 2011

Tuesday 17 April, 1945, Marks Hall

My darling,
                  I was rather perturbed on Sunday to hear that you were not feeling too well and hope that long before you get this, you'll have completely recovered. I suppose the uncertain weather you have been experiencing in the northern latitudes is liable to induce chills. Do take care of yourself and stay off school if you don't feel completely fit.

                 Your letter of last Friday arrived on Monday and today a much be-labelled, superscribed and countersigned envelope arrived containing the missing Fintry letter. And let me tell you right away that you must apologise to the manes of the Fintry post-mistress. Curiosity prompted me to remove the numerous labels and I discovered that the address as put down by wee Maggie was "R.A.F. near Colchester". Once before you made the same mistake - on one side of Merchant Adventurers - and it delayed the arrival of that book by several days. So I prithee darling, don't forget to include "Marks Hall" when you address me.

                 Needless to say your appealing description of the Murrays' plight makes me feel an awful beast for the surly reaction which surprise provoked in me. Please forget it.*

                 Last night beheld our oyster and Guinness revels. I don't think I would ever rave about oysters though at the end of a dozen, and under tuition in the correct manner of letting them linger in the gullet, I began to perceive quite a pleasant flavour. The party was very well organised in a nice little hotel in Braintree - the oysters were all ready for us, opened, garnished with lemon and seasoned with vinegar and paprika. Some fourteen of us accounted for 300 of the quaint creatures.

                As for the Guinness side of it, the drinking was on what I should call a very moderate scale though several men showed signs of wear. I think I must have learned my drinking in a hared school. But far be it from me to boast.

               Tomorrow I am going to London to book my sleeper. If we can get a room, Griffiths and I will stay the night: it's rather a rush getting there and back in one day. But I am not very hopeful as London is  apparently packed with people waiting to celebrate V-day.

             I'm sure Marion is perfectly nauseating about Paul's hardships. If she ever starts recounting any of them to me, I'm going to slap her right down. It's a bit late in the war for that kind of thing even though it is only now penetrating Marion's consciousness. Her only contact with reality seems to be via her relations and a thing does not exist for M until it happens to her husband of one of her endless cousins. It's a strange kind of idealism which, I'm sure, Berkeley never thought of.

             You seem to be having quite a lively time with Spaniards and Frenchmen, and I hope the margarine position has improved before I come home. I'm looking forward immensely to this leave but don't be alarmed at the prospect of being crushed under the weight of my affection. ... You can always have a bucket of cold water at hand in the bedroom.

           By the way, I'm sorry I have no medical friends likely to be able to help me. The only doctors I know came straight into the RAF from college. And, quaintly enough, very few RAF types have given birth to anything in a literal sense!

            A truce to this bawdry. I'm keeping very well in spite of really phenomenal heat and the annoyance caused by unsuitable clothes. I'm hoping to find you in the best of health and anticipating the happiest of times in your dear company.

*Note: There is only one letter for the whole of April - hence the gap in posting. The most likely explanation seems to be that Margaret Findlay was staying in Fintry during the first half of the month, and that letters sent directly there did not return with her to Glasgow. Whatever the Murrays did is presumably lost with them.