Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saturday 21st July 1945, Marks Hall

My darling,
                  It is now ten o'clock at night and in a short time I shall be going off duty. However I hope to have an uninterrupted hour for writing to you before my relief comes.

                  I had some hopes of a letter from you today but none came. Of course I'm now back in the rural wilderness and letters take longer to come than they did when I was in hospital. I can console myself with the prospect of hearing your fruity voice tomorrow evening and with the certainty of getting a letter on Monday.

                  The weather continues fine and I am forcing myself to take a walk every day though I am not sufficiently Wordsworthian to enjoy these solitary wanderings in Essex lanes. My friends marvel at me for tramping around in the heat, but they wisely stay in camp, or go around in cars. This morning I talked with, or rather listened to, a local farmer whose Ayrshire accent was as thick as ever in spite of fifteen years in Essex. I had to listen to a long tirade on the general poverty of farmers and the iniquity of the middlemen who apparently make all the money without any work. From what he says, farmers are extremely pessimistic about the future, when fixed prices and subsidies are removed.

                  To return to the perennial subject of demobilisation I suppose you would notice in today's paper that the Navy hopes to reach Group 25 by the end of the year. This is rather an encouraging portent in the branch of the services which everyone thinks will be the slowest to release its victims. Let's hope the RAF makes an even more hopeful announcement soon.

                  I've just finished reading one of Aldous Huxley's earlier books - Antic Hay. It is ridiculously extravagant and quite crazy. I wonder if there will be a recognisable post-war mentality in literature this time? I don't think there will: there were not many illusions at the beginning of the war so there is no reason for any fantastic reaction after it. My other reading is Lady Hester Stanhope, which is very good indeed. She rather puts to shame the modern intrepid female explorer.

                                                                                                                                        Sunday morning
                   I am continuing in the holy Sabbath calm which is practically indistinguishable from the lay calm of weekdays in this sluggish backwater. It is a beautiful morning with a fresh breeze and I was out before eight o'clock on a very pleasant walk, unmarred by the jangle of church bells or the sight of the godly in their black jackets and striped trousers. I'm all in favour of M. Mitchell's favourite pastor Dr Greenfields and one of the most admirable features of this unit is the unobtrusiveness of the Godly in their weekly exercises and the complete absence of professional God-Botherers.

                   Going off at a tangent, do you think you'll manage to keep your giggles under control when I promise Bloody Mac* to bring our infant up "in the nurture and admonition of the faith", whatever that means? Whoever is carrying the wean will probably drop it in alarm when thunderbolts and forked lightning obliterate me before the congregation's astonished gaze. What are your views on this public ceremony? Whom are you going to nominate as porter and, most important, what are you going to wear? My part in the spectacle is fortunately unobtrusive and no doubt I'll manage  to assume the proper shamefaced expression.

                  My darling I am hoping to hear a good report of your health when I speak to you tonight. Please do everything you should be doing and don't hesitate to let other people do things that are verboten to you. You have a duty to be completely selfish from now on.

                    Give my regards to the family. ....      

*Apparently what DF called the minister who performed the baptism - which he did indeed carry out, on the Sunday next before Christmas, if lore is to be believed.     


  1. Since you were baptised on 23 Dec 1945, it was the Sunday before Christmas.

  2. I know. My father was sure the minister would get it wrong and call me "Christmas Findlay"!

  3. Ah - I realise you're confused by my "next before" - an Anglicanism, if I'm not mistaken!