Dec 151934

The Catholic Citizen
Organ of St. Joan’s Social and Political Alliance, (formerly Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society), 55 Berners Street, London, W.1.
Vol. XX. No. 12. Price Twopence.

Do we Appreciate our Heritage?
By Stella Gregson
A girl may leave school today and embark on her chosen career with the same chances of success as her brother. No longer need the ambitious female raise the cry that so often punctuates the novels of the last century: “If only I were a boy.” There is no longer any need for her to hide her light under a bushel, nor to bury the gifts that God gave her in the duties of domesticity.
This is the world for which women fought and prayed and suffered; the dream-world of the first feminists, won at last after the long battle against so-called tradition and arrant stupidity.
Does the girl who now tastes of the fruits of this victory appreciate her position? Does she ever pause and thank Heaven for the noble band of women who gave her this heritage? No. She takes it all for granted. She considers sex-equality as just one of the many improvements in a century that has cast aside outworn traditions.
Suffragettes? Yes, she has heard of them. Her impression of them is gained chiefly from those pictures which the newspapers are constantly reviving. Being endowed with a deep respect for her sex, she does not enjoy looking at them – women looking absurd with their hair falling down, struggling in the arms of grinning policemen; women shrieking and breaking windows, throwing themselves in front of horses, burning buildings, destroying pictures. Well, thinks the young lady who has inherited the victory without knowing the fight, it is a good thing women have some sense nowadays. They don’t make fools of themselves like that now. And thus she dismisses the whole subject of Feminism.
There must be a reason for her misguided attitude, and it is not lack of intelligence. Good use has been made of the reformed educational systems. Nor is it lack of fair-mindedness. The young girl of today does not appreciate her inheritance for the simple reason that she is not taught about Feminism, and is wholly ignorant concerning any aspect of the subject save the one which is generally held up to ridicule.
Her History course tells her of other reformations that have influenced our lives. She knows of the great movement of the nineteenth century which resulted in crowded towns and altered the entire outlook on all social questions. But that same History course does not stress the reformation that affects her more nearly. She knows, of course, that the position of women was profoundly different in the time of her grandmothers’ girlhood. But is not everything on a different basis? We can forgive her for thinking that the Feminist revolution is merely a part of the world-wide adjustment towards sanity and fairness. The lack of appreciation is not her fault. It is the fault of those responsible for her general knowledge.
If only she could be told the story of the Cause in a sane and fair-minded way, I believe that she would enjoy it more than any other event in the history of humanity. Nothing appeals to young blood more than a tale of a small country rising against and defeating a nation of powerful oppressors. How greatly would the schoolgirl relish this story of the small band of women who won their rights from the powerful nation of oppressive tradition. A story that is not an ancient one dealing with powers of long ago, but one in which her own life is implicated. Let us tell her that there is a promised land that has been won for her; that there are still those who begrudge her that land and say that she is incapable of holding it. Let her thus gain a sense of responsibility, not only to herself, but to those who went before her and whose patience and suffering gave her this heritage.
If we allow her to continue in her present state of ignorance, lacking this enriching stimulus, the result may easily be the gradual return of women to their old position of inferiority. One generation has gained an incomplete but magnificent victory. The present generation of women must turn that victory to good account, must hold the land already won and add to it. For the battle did not end, as so many believe, with the winning of the vote; there are still positions to which women are barred; there is still work to be done in the ranks of feminists, but it is being done by the older generation. We need Pankhursts and Fawcetts among the girls who are in their teens today.
If we allow the young to retain this attitude of indifference and ignorance towards Feminism, there may be a tale told in the future years of a strange whim that possessed the female mind round about the beginning of the twentieth century; of how, for a little while, women decided to be considered the equals of men, but that it all died away eventually … a mere flash in the pan … a tale to be laughed over, very ridiculous and a little pathetic.
This is the danger that we are facing. The question that the die-hards are constantly asking is: “Can women hold what she has won?” The answer lies with the younger generation, and they do not even know what all the fuss is about. Let us teach her the price of this treasure of liberty, so that we may be assured that her labour will be worthy of that magnificent struggle in which indignity, hardship and abuse were counted as nought, so that she could come safely into this dreamed-of world, and, for the first time in the history of woman, be given a fair chance to prove her worth in every sphere of thought and action.

Miss Gregson, who contributes the above article, asks us to inform our readers that she is “not an old fogey, but merely a sweet young thing straight out of a convent, therefore not possessed by a prejudice against the much abused ‘modern girl’, but speaking from first-hand experience of the views of school fellows.”

Oct 041935

‘Bootle Times’ office
Having driven your poor mother nearly frantic with requests for bogus dance tickets, I am scared to ring you today and must resort to pen and paper once more.
All I want to say is – how about tomorrow night? The family is skating as usual and there is some talk of Mother going with them to spectate. Also I want you to approve and bless my new domain. You will receive this tomorrow morning. Can you contrive to look in at the office before you go to court? As I am staying the night here I am sure to be in. In case there is only an opportunity for a yes or a no, I suggest you meet me Saturday night at 8 o’clock at Penny Lane car shelter – you know that, don’t you?
I am writing this on my lunch table amid the remains of a poached egg on toast, which meal always reminds me of one with you in a cafe in Bromborough. In a few minutes I must go and see His Worship open a Xmas Fair and tonight, of course, there is a bit of a hop at the Town Hall to which Freddie is also coming. No danger of me being unfaithful to you tonight, precious!
I was feeling very oaty last night – were you thinking of me? Norman wanted to take me home but I wasn’t as oaty as all that!
Dearest, please don’t say you’ve arranged anything for Saturday. When I have an evil prospect like the Hospital Ball I do like having something to pit against it – such as seeing you tomorrow.
I shall now proceed to give you full instructions on the many routes to Penny Lane:
From Dale Street you can get either a 7, 4 or 4w. If you get 4 or 4w stay on after you have passed the Clock Tower. It’s three or four stops after that. The 7 which only runs every quarter of an hour takes you up Smithdown Road. Penny Lane is at the junction of Smithdown and Allerton Road.
From the Victoria Monument you can get a number of Smithdown Road cars – 5, 5a, 5w or 8. The 5w and 8 are the most comfortable but they all land you at the same place.
I must go now. Just in case I forgot to mention it on previous occasions – I love you.
Till tomorrow, darling,

Oct 051935

1 o’clock in the morning
My Dear Arthur,
The chances are that you won’t receive this. At this hour of the morning one writes things that seem daft the next day. Anyway, I’ve got to get this load off my chest before I can sleep, and the chances of having a talk with you tomorrow are practically nil.
First, there is one thing that prompted my behaviour at this unfortunate dance which I do not think you have considered. Throw your mind back to a conversation we had about the winter in general and Town Hall dances in particular. You said that we would have to treat each other exactly as we did last year, didn’t you? You were most emphatic on that point. When you said you were going to the dance tonight I was thrilled but, remembering that conversation I immediately and reluctantly squashed that thrill. Perhaps I should have taken into consideration the fact that, as you said, it would be your last dance there, but I did not realise that this was the case until you said so. One word from you would have altered the whole situation. Darling, I ask you, can you possibly imagine that it is more pleasant for me to be with Rimmer – of all people – than to be with you?
I have tried to put myself in your place and I do appreciate that I did not know exactly where I stood.
Secondly – about the office. I have been a B.F. with regard to the boys and I don’t know why you didn’t tell me to go to hell before now. There is no excuse so I am not going to invent one, knowing that you appreciate honesty above all things. That business is stopping from now on.
I’m doing a daft thing now – crying like hell because I am remembering that the last thing you said to me was, “I said goodbye and not au revoir”. The knowledge that I have written this paragraph will probably make me tear the whole thing up tomorrow morning, because I do hate to admit this.
I’ve been utterly happy with you. It’s been such a terribly precious secret thing – we can’t let it end like this. You spoke tonight as if I was any girl who had been making a fool of you. I’m not. I’m a woman who’s badly in love with you. You have grown to be a part of my life far more than you can realise. I have treasured every step of those walks we had in the summer, could repeat our conversations almost by heart. You have become a sort of bulwark for me against loneliness. When my father died and when they told me my mother was going to die, I was particularly aware of this.
You once said (I have remembered it because it was the first thing you ever said about me) that you thought I was the sort of person that would fight like hell for you if you ever had an accident. I am reminding you of this because I think, in that moment, you were nearest to understanding exactly what sort of love I have for you. Will you try, just for a minute, to look beyond those petty little things, such as tonight’s nark, and see me as you saw me then?
Please, dearest, let us talk the whole thing over sanely, and please do not treat me as a rotten flirt who is glad to have you only when no one else is about.
You once said that you never thought any woman would ever be in love with you. This woman is – badly – and are you going to chuck her love away?
Oh, darling, remember Freshfield and Formby and Thursaston and how happy we were. They are happy memories now, but if you leave me they will hurt horribly. I know I’ve been a damned fool but people in love do sometimes forgive each other, you know.
However beastly you are to me, it won’t stop me loving you.

Jul 231936

St Peter’s, Derby Street, Reading [Stella is visiting her sister Mollie, a Carmelite nun]
You were a darling to rush a note through to me when you were so busy. On thinking it over it had occurred to me that you might not get my letter until late, so I was not really expecting your reply till Friday. I am looking forward to your promised second letter.
I have just climbed a six-foot wall in order to enter my digs. Mrs Harris is at her mother’s from after breakfast until 6 o’clock so my position is rather complicated. After Thursday I decided to give the convent meals a miss as far as possible because both the food and the hours of feeding were so peculiar. This afternoon I had intended going to Marlow and told Mrs H. I would not be back till 6. After lunching (at a respectable hour with respectable roast lamb) I gathered there would not be a Marlow bus until one and a half hours later, so I mounted the first Thames Valley bus I saw. The conductor seemed to think I was quite mad because I asked for a return to any village on his route. He said I had better go to Sonning, in a tone that suggested that Sonning contained the local lunatic asylum. It has been pouring with rain all day, you see, and only an idiot would want to see villages in such weather.
You wouldn’t like Sonning – very beautiful but not a single pub! After seeing the sights here, and failing to make up a limerick beginning – “There was an old lady of Sonning, Who always insisted on donning” – I continued through the rain to Yare where a bus to Reading appeared out of nowhere and took me home. I thought it was easily 6 o’clock but it wasn’t five, so the lady next door helped me to climb the garden wall and enter Mrs H’s through the back. When I got in I discovered your letter so am whiling away the time till tea by writing to you, having failed to think of any better way of filling this empty hour. I’m sorry about Sunday but I quite understand that it can’t be helped.
To make up for this disappointment, can you meet my train on Saturday? Please, darling! It arrives at Woodside station at 5.47pm. If possible, let me know whether or not you will be there, so that I won’t work up any excitement in vain.
Last night I went on a walk with Mrs H. along the side of the river and saw some sheltered spots that would have been splendid if you had been with me. Oh, dearest, I do miss you, and I can’t imagine how I’m going to do without you in Shrewsbury.
Although I enjoy being with Mollie, I am longing to get home again. For one thing, the air doesn’t seem to like me. I yawn my head off all day, and today and yesterday have felt lousy – which may be a good sign do you think?
Buy the way – if you haven’t already done so, burn my first letter.
You will be interested to hear that Mollie is praying for your conversion – not at my request. We’ve only had one fight so far and that was over socialism.
Till Saturday, goodbye, sweet, and do try to meet me.
All my love, darling,

Aug 011936

St Chad’s Terrace, Shrewsbury
If you know any bright young things who want to leave the parental roof and make their way in the world, just tell them that you know a girl who thought she was tough and got a job away from home. On her first night in digs she cried herself to sleep. She woke up at 5.30am and wrote a miserable letter to her mother. She woke up again later on, and, because there was after all, just a tiny streak of courage in her, she tore this letter up and wrote an entirely different one. Later on in the day, however, she was howling again so she wrote to her boy friend. Of course, I don’t know who this girl is – it’s just a story with a moral and it’s called “She couldn’t take it!”
But seriously, dearest, it’s a horrible feeling. If I could see now anyone from Liverpool, even if it was someone I detested, I would fall on his (or her) neck. Talking of necks reminds me of another reason for woe. When I had my hair cut last week I had a tiny spot that I hadn’t noticed, on the back of my neck. The silly ass ran the clippers over it with the result that my whole neck is swollen and septic and my whole head is hurting. I took it to the nearest doctor a couple of hours ago and he recommended hot water and salt. It was when the maid brought up this mixture to my room with efficiency but an entire lack of sympathy, that the second fit of blues descended. It suddenly occurred to me that no one within sixty miles cared a damn whether my neck was hurting like hell, and this thought broke down my resolution to be spartan.
In case you think I am going to moan right through this letter, let me assure you that I spent a perfectly happy morning in the office. And, by the way, how do you like my card? [Enclosed in the envelope is a personalised Shrewsbury Chronicle business card.] The staff – editorial, advertising, photographic and clerical – gave me a really genuine welcome. The lads had spent most of the week spring-cleaning the office in honour of my arrival. The chief reporter, whose name was Mac- something, showed me round and I tried to look as though I was quite used to a rotary machine and a photographic and process department on the premises. They seem quite a decent crowd. Sloane does not want to launch the full women’s page until I have found my feet, that is, he says, in a few weeks’ time. I have undertaken to announce my arrival to the children by writing a Corner during the weekend, and I am doing a carnival at Church Stretton on Monday. I also have the addresses of the Mayoress and the county secretary of the Women’s Institutes and have promised to introduce myself to them.
Feeling so blue makes this other business – if it has to be – less difficult. On the other hand if I like the job as much as I think I will, it makes it more difficult. That is how I regard the situation at the moment. Last night, in the depths of my first despair, I could only look at Mickey as a blessed way out of a miserably lonely existence. This thoroughly cowardly attitude has since been tempered by a smell of the office – but only tempered and not entirely eradicated.
So I await with a divided mind for the arrival of Monday and if nothing has happened by the end of the week I shall take the necessary steps to make quite certain.
Whatever happens, darling, do try and see me soon. Give me some reason for ticking off the days on the calendar. I AM trying to keep my chin up, but it’s so damned hard.

I’ve just come up from lunch. Oh, Arthur, boarding house meals are a perfect entertainment. I do wish there was someone here to chuckle with me. Today our family consisted of: 1. Elderly gent, former member of Durham Education Committee, and wife. 2. Another elderly gent from Caernarvon, whose proud boast is that he has been a church warden for the past 43 years; and wife. 3. Young curate, shortly to go abroad, who does some holiday relief at St. Chad’s each Sunday. 4. Woman about 38 who also appears here only on Sundays and is trying to vamp young curate. 5. Ancient man on tramping tour, otherwise the “tramping bard”. 6. His ancient friend in bathchair. (More about these two to follow.)
All these people went to hear young curate preach this morning so the meal commenced by everyone, except me, congratulating him. Conversation then went along church lines for a considerable time, but tramping bard, who was itching to show young curate his books of poetry, tried to push latter out of the limelight by twisting conversation to walking. Y.C. makes some remark about fishing. Tramping bard sees his chance. “Ah” says he. “Fishing wouldn’t be energetic enough for me. Give me tramping.”
“I do not mean ordinary fishing” replies Y.C. with dignity. “I mean fishing with the VICAH!”
This leaves no room for further dispute. T.B. admits defeat gracefully by continuing to talk about fishing. He once watched a party of fishermen, he says, of which there were parsons. When he asked them if they had good fishing, all except the parsons had replied “rotten”. The parsons said they had made five catches.
Y.C. is not blind to the double-edged quality of this compliment to the cloth. “So” he says, “parsons are either good fishermen, or are good – er – er – are good at what fishermen are supposed to be good at.”
This dangerous subject is then left alone and Y.C., still breathless after his narrow escape from saying “liars”, tells alleged funny stories about various “Vicahs” to lady friend. She laughs loud and long at the end of each story. (This is evidently technique for vamping young curates. Must make a note of it.)
Tramping bard is getting desperate. He usually holds floor. He produces his books of poetry and sticks them under nose of Y.C. who has to look at them out of mere politeness. But even the mighty work on the epic tramp from John O’ Groats to Land’s End does not produce terrific effect on Y.C.
T.B. is a really remarkable old chap. He and his friend arrived last night and are starting to hike through the Wye Valley tomorrow, doing 20 miles a day. His friend goes with him in the bathchair. All his walking tours have been immortalised by T.B. in beautifully printed books of verse, illustrated by his bathchair friend. Although I was not particularly keen on revealing my identity to the rest of the gang, I couldn’t let a story like that slip through my fingers, so T.B. (who is 72) was interviewed by the ‘Shrewsbury Chronicle’ this morning. I have also got a picture of him and his bathchair friend setting out on their travels. He has quite genuinely walked every inch of the way from John O’ Groats to Land’s End. I hope Sloane will be impressed by my zeal during the weekend.
Well, sweet, I think I’ll take a walk now as the sun is actually shining. I dreamt about you last night, but I can’t remember what! Do try and write as soon as you get this. A letter means such a hell of a lot now. I’m feeling much brighter in spirit today, as you will have noticed, but my neck is still ghastly.
Bless you, love,

Aug 071936

St Chad’s Terrace, Shrewsbury
My Dear,
I’ve been meaning to write all week but the fact is that I’ve been so sleepy I’ve fallen asleep at every available moment. People tell me this is the usual complaint of ‘foreigners’ here. Also I’ve walked miles and miles every day. The policy of the paper seems to lie in keeping us all on the trot. So far I’ve never been more than one hour at a time in the office. One walks and walks – and what hills! As a matter of fact I did write to you on Wednesday night, sitting up in bed. I was half asleep and next morning could hardly read the letter myself so did not inflict it on you.
As you will have guessed from the absence of any telegrams, nothing has happened. The symptoms continue much to my discomfort. When I tell you that I’ve started knitting, you will know just how certain I feel about things. I haven’t been to a doctor about this yet, as I’ve been to the local vet nearly every day this week with my neck. I’ve just returned from my final visit now and the beast is healing up nicely. The bandage was dispensed with this morning so you need not be afraid of coming to see me. Mother and Chris are coming on Sunday, by the way.
Oh, darling, I do hate digs. These present ones are quite impossible so I’m going to give a week’s notice this evening, and I admit I do funk the job. Does one make up a pretty story or does one say straight out that the food is lousy and that one hates eggs with ‘Danish’ stamped shamelessly on their shells. I’ve spent most of the afternoon looking at other possibilities. Every landlady presents you with her view as if this makes up for everything. After staring at this damned quarry for a week I know that one new-laid egg is worth all the views in the world. I’m an awkward person about food, especially just now, so I’m rather in favour of taking a room I saw today, where I have to ‘find myself’. This mysterious phrase means that I rent the room, purchase my own food and let landlady cook same. I would have my midday meal out. One of the advantages of this scheme is that it would be good practice for me in learning how to cater. See how I think of you at every turn! Quite seriously, dear, I worry a lot about whether I’ll be able to make you happy from the purely housewife point of view.
While we are on this subject – don’t tell me what a fine cook your mother was every time I have a culinary tragedy!!! Remember that the tragedy will be just as obnoxious to my stomach as to yours, because my mother is also a good cook, as I have been forcibly reminded during my one week in digs.
Talking of food – that story of yours about there being only one fish and chip shop here is all boloney. So far I’ve counted six! My faith in you had been shaken, so don’t be surprised if I use the reminder “fish and chips” in any future argument!
With regard to this other business, it worries me sometimes that you might think I’m rather letting you down by not taking any more stuff. I’ve got all sorts of courage – as I’ve proved to myself to my own amazement every day this week, but somehow I haven’t got the courage to go on killing this thing that has stood out so strongly against my former violent onslaught. For one thing I do believe (and this is a positive and not a religious belief) that when you work directly against nature, nature will eventually have its own back.
Another point – as you probably know, I’m just a bit fond of you and a normal part of this strange emotion is that I want your child more than anything else in the world. That’s how I feel about things. In my long hours of tramping up and down the Salopian hills I’ve had an opportunity of weighing all the pros and cons. I’m not blind to any of the difficulties. I go sick when I think of my mother, and I’ll hate leaving my career at this hopeful point, but the fact remains that in spite of everything, there are moments when I’m bursting with pride. There is more primitive woman in me than I ever realised before.
I’m afraid I’ll get told off for writing like this, as I was before, but, dearest, I must talk to somebody about it.
Could you possibly manage to get here next weekend? Or will you be down for the Show? I do miss you so, and we must get everything straightened out soon. The chin is keeping up well, all things considered. I haven’t cried since last Saturday. There’s one thing about this – if the chin is still up, in spite of loneliness, physical sickness and mental anxiety, at the end of the next few months, I’ll know that it will stick up through anything. I’m keeping my job and my worries strictly in two departments. It would be fatal if I allowed them to mix.
Write to me here next week and then I’ll let you know my new address.
By the way, keep your chin up at your end.
I’ll post this and then I must face my landlady with my week’s rent in one hand and my week’s notice in the other. Oh dear! After that I’ll get on with my knitting.
Write soon, sweetheart, and let me know what chance there is of seeing you soon.
All my love,

Aug 101936

Monday 1.35pm
On train
My Dear,
I’m not exactly in the best of tempers at the moment. I had an interview with a woman at 12.30. She kept me waiting for exactly half an hour and then decided not to give the interview. As she happens to be Mayoress of Shrewsbury I couldn’t give her a piece of my mind.
I am now sitting in the most uncomfortable of trains waiting for it to decide to take me to Bridgnorth. Apparently I am the sole passenger so perhaps they’ll decide not to run it after all. At Bridgnorth, if I ever arrive, I have to do an inquest at 3pm and then find the Mayoress. I’m not particularly fond of Mayoresses today. You will be glad to hear that I registered a protest on being sent to an inquest, but Sloane pointed out that I would be going to B’north in any case this afternoon so it was not worth while sending two of us.
Forgive the pencil because, as I said, this is being written on a train.
I gather that you had received my letter by the time you wrote the second instalment of yours so I need not answer your questionnaire? Let it be said, however, that I am quite immune from falling for all the masculine charm around me. I feel far too matronly for that. Mickey seems to have banished all such thoughts from my mind and I’m not a bit keen on going up the river with anyone but you. In case this statement makes you conceited I’d better balance things by giving you cause for jealousy. Tomorrow night I go to a dance somewhere in the wilds to witness the choosing of a beauty to compete for the title of Miss Shropshire. The judging is not until midnight so I am to be brought home by Mr Wood, photographer! However, I am sure he is a perfect gentleman, and he is engaged, so you can rest in peace tomorrow night, darling. You know, I’m not a bit subtle – I shouldn’t have told you he was engaged.
I’m glad to hear we have some additions to the bottom drawer. All I can contribute at the moment is half a vest (first size) for Mickey.
The candlestick will be useful when they cut off our light for failing to pay the bill, won’t it? The drinking goblet will be just ideal for mixing up Mickey’s Cow and Gate’s! I’m afraid my B.T.-trained mind will only suggest improper uses for the decorative jug, so we’ll ignore that.
On Saturday I gathered my courage in both hands, walked to the outskirts of the town and saw a doctor.
(The train has actually started!)
After all that, he only told me that in matters like this it was against medical etiquette that he should see me, as I was not his patient. He advised me to see my own doctor, who, he assured me, would think nothing of it as every doctor had girls asking the same questions every day. I am thinking of trying again while I’m in Bridgnorth, but you’ve no idea of what a lot of courage it requires. After today’s interview I was a nervous wreck.
I don’t think you could find a cheap trip during the week, darling. Couldn’t you come on Sunday and get the 6pm train back, which would get you home in time for your night calls? If not, Wednesday and Friday and Saturday are likely to be free. The only time I can be sure of being in the office is 9.15 in the mornings. If you do decide to come any evening this week, do ring me at that time and I’ll let you know for certain whether I’ll be free. I shall probably chew the flesh from your bones when I see you!
On Friday afternoon I remove my goods to the side of the river and the house where I have to “find” myself.
The family came down in a hired car yesterday and Harold arrived at Shrewsbury Youth Hostel for the first stop on his cycling tour so it was quite a reunion. I’m afraid it’s getting quite impos. to write to you on the train. Finish later.

Bridgnorth Station.
The inquest dragged on until 4.45. After that I saw the Mayoress from whose house I staggered out in a state of agonising hunger that seems to be one of the symptoms. After feeding, and getting back to the station, there was of course no time to see a doctor. This 6.40 train is the last tonight!
At the inquest an ancient man in a long beard introduced himself to me. He is the local freelance. There are hundreds of them around here and they are all over 70.
It’s ridiculous to be longing for bed at this time of day, isn’t it? But the fact remains that my legs are lifeless and I can’t keep my eyes open. I suppose one should be “putting one’s feet up” instead of going to inquests.
I can sympathise with your lack of concentration and your inability to complete your well-meant efforts at fiction. My own concentration is far from perfect just now and I think we would both be subnormal if we were able to concentrate on anything these days.
I have discovered, by cunning and subtle questioning, in what direction the registry office lies, although I have not actually seen it yet. I have also written to Gertrude asking her, if necessary, will she assist us as witness. Have you thought of another one yet?
Sloane is very keen on creating a sort of grand debut for me in the paper including a photo. This is going to be awkward because it means that people in the street and in shops may recognise me. Also one can’t prevent the registrar from seeing the paper. Difficulties seem to be crowding upon us from every quarter, and I’ve got a nasty feeling that we haven’t realised half of them yet.

St. Chad’s Terrace.
The third and last instalment. Darling, shall I go to my own doctor who knows where I work and all about me? I shall abide by your decision in this matter.
I’m writing this lying on my stomach on the bed, which accounts for the backhand slope of the writing. At the moment my only want is to be lying by you, not talking, not worrying, not thinking – a want that will have to wait a long, long time for fulfilment, I’m thinking.
I’ll expect a phone call or a letter within the next few days. You don’t know how much it will mean to me to see you again.
Till then, keep smiling (if possible) and remember that I’m thinking of you last thing at night, working, eating, walking.
My love for always,

Aug 121936

St Chad’s Terrace, Shrewsbury
My Dear,
I’ve got an idea that this letter will cross yours but I want to put forward this proposition without delay. The arrangement with the family was that if you decided not to come on Sunday I should go home for the day. Mother wrote this morning with a new idea, which seems quite good. Here it is: I come to Liverpool on Saturday, arriving about 6 or thereabouts, spend the evening with you, go home to sleep and spend Sunday at home.
How does this suit you? Can you let me know as soon as you get this as I must let the family know whether or not I am coming. I’ll make it absolutely clear that I am to be met at the station by no one but you this time.
They’ve worked me hard this week so I’ve had no time to meditate on my woes. Last night was a unique experience – a dance in Montford Bridge, 250 people in a room made to hold 25 and lit entirely by oil lamps as was the whole village. By the way, I noticed there was not one hint of street lighting, and thought of our frenzied search for darkness in L’pool.
In case you are worried let me assure you that I did NOT travel home with the photographer. He was going on to Wem before returning to town so I came and went with the judges of the Beauty Queen. Remind me to tell you more about this when I see you. Suffice to say that I behaved extremely well.
I mustn’t write any more because this must catch the post. Oh, darling, you’ve no idea how I’m looking forward to seeing you. It seems years and years ago since I last saw you. If I see you Saturday that means there are only two full days to get through after tonight.
Let me know about Saturday right away won’t you, and I’ll let you know about the train.
Goodbye, sweet, till then,

Aug 131936

Thursday Tea-time
My Dear,
I haven’t had a letter yet and am beginning to wonder if you received my last or if you have been stabbed in the back or something. However, I’m living in hopes of tomorrow’s post.
This isn’t a letter but just a note to tell you that, if the idea put forward in my last letter meets with your approval, I shall come to L’pool by the 2.35 on Saturday, which arrives at Lime Street at 4.28pm.
If you’re writing to say this is OK remember that my address after Friday morning will be: Trefaldwyn, Coton Hill, Shrewsbury. Letters seem to take a devil of a time getting here so wire if there’s any doubt. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding over this weekend.
Now supposing I get a letter from you on Friday morning saying that you’re coming on Sunday and supposing that you wrote that letter before you received my last one. In that case I shall sit tight until you let me know, and if this does happen you had better make it a wire because I must let the family know whether they’re to be honoured by my presence on Sunday.
No matter what happens, please meet me at Lime Street Stn. I shall go raving mad if you don’t because at the moment I’m living for nothing else. And darling PLEASE don’t be late. Yes, you’d better wire. I shall worry all the way in the train if you don’t. Must get back to office now. Feeling lousy. Only a short goodbye, dearest,

Aug 251936

Tuesday 6.30pm
‘Trefaldwyn’, Coton Hill, Shrewsbury
My Dear,
This letter was going to be really cheerful as I’ve been in a “don’t-care-a-damn” mood all day, but when I came home about an hour ago there was a letter from Mother which demanded immediate action.
The trouble is this. Mrs Knowles went to tea at home last week by invitation. As you can imagine it was far from being my wish but I had no hand in the matter. I have heard from Mother since then, and as she did not say anything important about the visit, I gathered that Mrs Knowles had kept her mouth shut. So she has – to a certain extent.
Since my last weekend at home Mother has been determined that I’m ill and then Harold sees me last Sat. and Sunday and goes home with tales of how pale I looked – curse him.
Another point – although I’ve only written once to Mollie since I’ve been here, (a letter solely about Shrewsbury and the office) Mollie suddenly starts writing frantic letters to Mother saying how worried she is about me. I’ve an idea that she’s had one of those queer experiences she’s had before. I don’t know what exactly happens but I do know that whenever there’s trouble about, concerning Mother or myself, she knows all about it before she’s told. An awkward sort of sister to have.
You’ll be wondering what all this has got to do with Mrs Knowles or with Mother’s letter, but they do link up. From what I know of them and from what Mother says of the visit I can imagine the scene something like this:
Mother starts weeping because she thinks I’m ill and Mrs Knowles proceeds to comfort her by telling her I’m quite all right physically but she thinks that I’m making myself ill through worry (silly ass). Mother wants to know what Stella is worried about and wonders if it is about Arthur. Mrs K finds herself in rather a jam, says she has an idea it is about Arthur.
As Mother did not mention this when she last wrote to me, she evidently did not attach great importance to it. Since then, however, these other points have been going round in her mind – Mollie’s letters, the fact that I looked ill, and the fact that even Harold, famous for his lack of observation, noticed this. Now all these things have become linked up in her mind and she sends me a frantic letter, begging to be told what is worrying me and revealing the conversation with Mrs Knowles.
I’m sorry to have to use all this space on this matter but I meant to make it perfectly clear. Now I’m not saying she suspects – she probably thinks I’ve had a row with you and I’m breaking my young heart! But she may suspect, and anyway it’s a letter I can’t put off with an airy answer. As I see it, we MUST get this business over right away. I propose writing to her, saying there is something you and I want to tell her privately and asking her to arrange the rest of the family to be out of the way. What about this Sunday, dear? I could get the excursion train leaving here at 9.30am. I’ll arrange for Mother to get a letter on the Saturday, which will prepare her without telling her anything.
The trouble is I don’t want to do anything without your sanction, and there’s this damned letter demanding immediate reply. So in order to shelve matters for at least a day I’ll write her a nice cheery letter tonight, not mentioning a thing so she will believe the letters have crossed. Then when you get this let me know right away whether the whole idea meets with your approval. If you’re terribly busy send one of your immortal wires.
The more I think of it the less I like the idea of taking her out somewhere to tell her. There are only pubs and cafes and as I don’t know how mothers react to these things, never having been in such a situation before, I think it would be wiser if she was NOT told in a public place. When I got the letter I felt very much inclined to finish the whole business by writing and telling her, but I do appreciate that the fact of your braving it out will stand you in good stead in the future, though I don’t promise you’ll be saluted as a hero at the actual interview! There’s no doubt about it, darling, it’s going to be a nasty business, and that’s all the more reason why we should get it behind us as quickly as possible. Do your best to make it Sunday, for if I don’t get home then I’ve an idea Mother will just come down and ask the direct question.
There are times, you know, when I can actually get a flash of humour out of this business, believe it or not. One point that struck me today was that my immediate family (excepting Mother) will be upset chiefly because I am depriving them of a favourite family joke. Having a blot on their own escutcheon, they will never again be able to get hours of entertainment out of discussing the hurried marriages of Tom Gregson’s family. This thought led me to make a mental list of all the first cousins I have who have been in exactly our situation – Doris, Olive, Freda and Joy Gregson; May Farrell, Marty Farrell and Tom Breen. Now I ask you, what chance has a girl got, surrounded by such examples? The first four are all on one side of the family and the other three on the other side. Have you considered what bad blood you’re marrying, sweet? We either go to the religious extreme or the other extreme. In each generation and each branch of the family this has come out again and again. So if it goes on, Michael will be a devil but Ann will level things up by going into a convent. But perhaps the Johnson blood will purify mine? Anyway, when our children do extraordinary things, don’t say I didn’t warn you. After all this confession from me, don’t you think you ought to tell me some of the black deeds of your own family? Did you once tell me that your grandfather nearly murdered your grandmother, or did I imagine it? Heaven grant that Michael is not ORDINARY anyway.
While we’re on the subject of heredity, has it occurred to you what little chance the poor mite has of escaping being a journalist? His very conception was the result of you going to interview a man, and his embryonic life is being spent in a newspaper office and conducting interviews. He’ll be born with a fountain pen (instead of a silver spoon) in his mouth, and ink instead of blood in his veins, poor lamb.
I’m reading a book by Stella Gibbons, who is a damned good novelist, and in the introduction she laments the fact that she wasted ten years of her life “in the meaningless and vulgar bustle of newspaper offices”, and goes on to remark that “the life of a journalist is poor, nasty, brutish and short”. All of which proves that she was jolly glad to escape and has made far more money at fiction since, which has given me much food for thought. At first I thought of Michael as writing finis to my career, but dear, the last few weeks I’ve been thinking of him as a beginning to other things. You see, when this business is known to the large band of people who have always been jealous of me for doing an unusual thing in becoming a journalist (more or less!) there is going to be great rejoicing and many cutting remarks about “Stella’s career”. My friends and relations are in two distinct classes – those who are going to be really disappointed and upset, and those who are going to be indecently glad because I’ve “made a mess of my life”. The reaction of this second lot is going to get my pride up in arms and I’ve an idea it’s going to be the making of me.
If ever I get mopey about my lost career will you remind me of these points? That is why I’ve written them down here. I want your promise that you’ll stick them down my throat, brutally. When I say to you (as I undoubtedly will) that I can’t be expected to do anything more than look after you and Michael, will you say to me “What about Ethel Mannin?” She wrote her first novel when she had to keep leaving off to feed her kid, and she kept wondering if she’d get to the end of the sentence before the baby started crying. Now I’m really serious about this. I’m giving you arguments to use against me when the time comes, and I do want you to remember them.
Oh, love, I do hope you’re getting more sleep. You must keep well. Let me know right away about Sunday, won’t you, even if it’s only a line.
Till then, goodbye, dearest. You tell me to think of you sometimes, but believe me I think of you ALL the time – at least you and Michael.
Bless you,

Aug 271936

Thursday Lunch time
My Darling,
I’m writing this in a tiny cafe to which I go whenever Michael wants beans on toast for his lunch, which is quite often. It’s very quiet here and they don’t think you’re mad if you start writing copy.
Now would you believe it, just as I had written that a woman arrives and starts talking like blazes to me. She’s talked for half an hour so far but is showing signs of going now. Hard luck story and she comes from Formby! She’s gone now.
Excuse this lousy paper. It’s copy paper and the only sort I have at the moment.
Your dear long letter arrived this morning and since then I’ve given it much thought and I honestly do think that you are right, so we will call your plan settled. There’s no easy way of carrying this business through and it’s no good trying to find one. So that’s fixed, my dear. I still retain my childish belief that you are right about most things, chip-shops excepted! The more I think of it the more I see the sense of your scheme and I can’t help feeling glad, for the baby’s sake, that I shall not be present when Mother hears the news. There might be a terrific emotional upset and that is a definite risk of a miscarriage, and to me now that is the greatest tragedy life can hold. Funny how one can change, isn’t it? Such a short time ago we were thinking of nothing but how to get rid of Michael and now, if anything happened to him, I’d go crazy.
This kid has personality, there’s no doubt about it, to have won us both over to such an extent. But then what could you expect with such parents!
Today I’m quite shamelessly and indecently happy. There are so many clouds on the horizon but I can’t see one of them. I’m aware of only these things at the moment – that you may be coming this weekend; that you sent me the nicest letter you’ve ever written this morning; that Michael exists. Sometimes I think that nature arranges for a sort of film to grow over my brain so that I can only see the bright side of things, which is the only atmosphere in which a healthy babe can be produced. At first I got these bright moods just occasionally, but now they are so frequent that it’s almost a permanent state of mind. I do my work mechanically with just about one cell of my brain, and with the other cells (or should I say the other CELL) I think about you and Michael.
I’m so glad you’ve had some sleep, dearest. You must have had in order to write that long letter. On the morning of the 12th I really think you ought to get up much earlier than that and then you’ll have to go to bed at about 8pm. By the way, have you any bright ideas about just WHERE we are going to bed? We must discuss this at the weekend. Oh, love, you WILL come at the weekend, won’t you, if it is at all possible. Let me know just when and how you are coming.
On Tuesday morning I received a letter from the registrar asking me to call and see him. I was quite sure he had found some red-tape reason why we couldn’t be married so I was at the office a full half hour before he arrived himself. All he wanted to know was whether I was Stella Edyth or vice-versa, and whether I was 21 or 22 because Mr. Johnson and I didn’t seem to be in agreement over these two points.
So for your information dearest, I’m Edyth Stella (though you must never remind me of this unhappy fact) and I am a mere child of 21 summers (cradle-snatching, isn’t it?) Having assured the registrar that my information was correct, I explained how it was doubtful whether you would be able to get here by noon, so he said it would be OK if you were late. As we seemed to be getting on so well I persuaded him to let me see his little book in order to let me know just what I was going to be let in for. The ceremony should be over in a couple of seconds and we don’t have to make any rash promises about honouring and obeying. It is beautifully straightforward and thank heaven they don’t have that indelicate bit included in the church ceremony where the parson talks about hoping your children will flourish like vines about your table. I don’t want my dear Michael to be a bit like a vine, do you? It sounds like a thin, anaemic, green-faced child, doesn’t it? And you escape all sorts of other things that you have to say in church, such as “With my body I thee worship” which I have always considered a PRIVATE affair, and you have my full permission to say it whenever we are alone.
Really the registry office ceremony seems to be made for sensible people and I don’t believe anyone ever means all the things they are forced to say at church weddings.
If you really want me to be sick in your presence, sweet, all you have to do is to force a tin of sardines down my throat. Michael showed me how he detested them the other day. Apart from the sardine incident there has been a marked improvement since I started the doctor’s medicine, which probably accounts for my high spirits lately.
Feeling particularly maternal this morning I bought another pattern-book called “Lovely Layettes”. This gives a very sensible list of “What baby will need” and you’ve no idea what a lot he does need! I think I’ll have a circular letter printed to my numerous knitting friends. For Michael’s sake we had better arrange to see samples of everyone’s knitting before we decide to have a row with anyone.
Talking of good knitters reminds me of Chris. I often wonder what her reaction will be. She is such a strange person. You never know how she is going to take things. Personally I think she will be torn between two emotions – delight that Mother’s white lamb has turned out dark grey, and a blazing jealousy that I’m going to have a baby. Margaret will probably stick up for me. She has a habit of supporting all black sheep. Ernest will think it’s rather a good joke. Harold Bird will sneer and make horrible remarks which will annoy Mother but will have the effect of making her stick up for me, in public at least. Young Harold will not say anything about it but will think a great deal and be rather shy when he meets me. But he does rise to the occasion when Mother needs comforting and he will watch over her and protect her from the band of cats. Also he will come in for the share of affection that will be removed from my head. As for Mollie – she’ll just break her heart. The Rev. Mother is a worldly-wise woman who had her share of life and I intend to write to her when I write to Mollie, asking her to break the news. So that’s the family.
As you say, it’s a case of choosing between you and family. Well, you know what the fortune-teller told me and you know what my own heart tells me. The family do matter to me, at least Mother and Mollie matter terribly, but, oh my dear dear love, you are my man, and you matter a thousand times more. Do you know that when I had read the first two sentences of your letter this morning, I found I was crying from utter tenderness and happiness. I don’t think there’s any danger of our failing to stick together, darling. We must remember this – that each of us is going to lose a hell of a lot through this marriage, and each of us has to make up to the other for that loss. I think we can do it. We started our courtship in a way that everyone would have said was disastrous, didn’t we? (God bless Marjorie Smith!) According to the world’s viewpoint there is everything against the success of this marriage. We made a success of our courtship and we will make a success of our marriage. These last two months have been a severe test on our stability. If either of us had been playing make-believe about our feelings we would have found it out for this has been stark reality. Instead we have found out that we mean more than we ever imagined to each other. Yes, I think all our difficulties will be from outside. We need not worry about any rows between ourselves.
In case it ever worries you that I am having any religious scruples, let me say once and for all, I’M NOT. Last night I started thinking of how I used to plan my wedding when I was a kid at school. You know – every detail of the dress and no thought about the one essential, the man. When I had been thinking about this for a few minutes the thoughts started going into rhymes, and the result is I’ve written a poem on the subject. I’ll present it to you on the memorable day. This is the last sheet of copy paper and I’ve been here two hours and I must be at a fete in half an hour, so I must hie back to the other half of my double life. I’ll pack this letter off later in the day.

Thursday tea-time
I’ve just read your letter over for the fourth time and it still sounds sense. When I was reading the last part it occurred to me that one way I could make certain of your coming to see me this weekend was by pretending to disagree with your arrangements, then you would rush here to overpower me with your personality and make me see sense. But I’m an honest woman. (Am I still the one and only honest woman? Do you remember when I used to be content with the lowly title of “second honest woman”?)
It’s about six o’clock now and you’ll be thinking what an easy job I’ve got when I can write columns to you on a Thursday. But I have worked all afternoon in terrific heat at a Methodist fete. I’ve written that up, had my tea, and am taking things easy now till about 9.30 when I go to a dance at which they are choosing Miss Shrewsbury. The first part of the dance has to be written up by 11.30pm and taken to the office, but the actual judging will not be over till after one, and that’s got to be written up so it looks like a late night for Michael and me! However, if there’s one thing you do get here, it’s consideration after late nights and I’ll only be expected to roll in at about 12 tomorrow and pick up my cash. In fact Sloane was dubious about letting me do this show at all and has treated me like a piece of China since the fainting incident.
This is the only dance I’ve done since the village hop and as I hadn’t got a dance frock with me I wired home yesterday. It arrived this morning and I discovered that Mother has had a pink lace frock cleaned and resurrected and, funnily enough, it’s the one I had on when I was first “seduced” by you! Though I don’t think you were conscious of what I wore that night, were you? I have a terrible suspicion that it’s on the tight side and I don’t know how it’s going to react to Michael. The staff, moreover, is looking forward to seeing “what I look like in evening dress” when I come in with my copy, so I hope they won’t get a shock! As you are coming at the weekend I must get a move on with the other mitten and the other bootee. Today I had a fit of conscience because the ribbon I had used was only a penny a yard and only satin on one side, so I said to myself, “Do you think that’s good enough for Michael Johnson?” and hung my head in shame. Then I went to the poshest shop in town and bought some lovely ribbon at 4d a yard, and so satisfied my maternal conscience. The list of “what baby will need” includes “six old soft handkerchiefs, large”. I can’t think what these are for, can you? But please save any old soft handkerchiefs, large, that you have spare.
My love, platinum is very, very expensive!! And anyway I think I prefer the good old gold. After the great day I shall wear the ring sometimes when I am quite alone just to convince Michael that he is quite legitimate. I take it that you have had your chat with Tim as you say he is running you over on Sept. 6th. Does he just know there’s a wedding on, or does he know why? It’s better I know where we stand with him in case I come out with any unfortunate remarks.
Now I wanted this letter to be solely without mention of any snag but there is one possible snag I must mention. I have a suspicion Gertrude may let me down. I hate to say it. Although I wrote to her more than a week ago about the arrangements, I have had no reply. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt by writing c/o her school because she seems to move every few days. But if she fails what are we going to do? I would prefer to have a man and a woman as witnesses for this reason – the staff are omnipresent in Shrewsbury. Someone always sees me wherever I go. If we should bump into one of my fellow workers just on coming out of the registry office, I had it nicely planned that you and I were the witnesses and Tim and Gertrude the happy couple. If she fails there is no other female I can think of. All my girl friends are quite virtuous and for obvious reasons I couldn’t ask a relation. What are the possibilities of Mrs Leuty? I really can’t understand Gertrude’s silence especially as I purposely let her into the secret right at the beginning. It’s not a bit like her. Somehow I feel certain that she hasn’t received my letter so I’ll give her one last chance.
I’m hoping to hear on either Friday or Saturday that you are coming on either Saturday or Sunday. Sunday would be nicest because it’s an unbelievably long day when you’re all alone. Another point – if I write to Mother and say you are coming this Sunday it will definitely prevent her from coming, so I’ll say this in any case. I must not go home until after this business is over, and Mother coming here would be just as risky. If I tell them you will be here the next two Sundays they won’t make any surprise visits. You can rely on that because when Mother came here a few weeks ago she was most emphatic that I must let her know if Arthur was coming – she wouldn’t dream of spoiling our time together.
I wish I was paid linage for my letters to you. I am far more eloquent than in the Chronicle! The great difficulty is writing pretty-pretty letters to other people. Violet for instance. I put off writing to her every day until yesterday. She’ll never forgive me for not allowing her to fix Michael for me. I used to be so fond of her but lately I can’t bear the thought of her because she is definitely against all that Michael represents. I think I’ll leave all the minor relatives, cousins like Vi and aunts etc in Mother’s hands. A funny idea has just occurred to me – my most puritan and spinster aunt, Aunt Amy, was in the house at the time of Michael’s conception! Do you remember? In fact I remember now that when the question of absence of evidence arose I jokingly remarked that Aunt Amy might have one in her bag. If you knew her you would appreciate the humour of this. It’s too funny for words.
Gosh, will I never stop!
All my love, sweetheart,

Sep 021936

‘Trefaldwyn’, Shrewsbury
Already it seems a year since you got on that horrible train, but there are only three more whole days and then a bit of a day to be lived through before Sunday. I’ve been working hard this week to make the time go more quickly. That never-ending August is actually over! The fact of it being September makes Sept. 12th seem much nearer doesn’t it?
When I went into the office on Monday everyone remarked that I was full of beans and wanted to know if I’d been home for the weekend. When I said no, they all decided that “he” must have been to see me. I wonder what they’ll say when I arrive on September 14th?
I’ve just written a long bright “not a care in the world” letter to Mother – a terrific strain because I keep thinking of how she’ll look at such letters a few weeks hence and wonder how I could be so false. In reply to her previous alarming letters I was evidently satisfactory. I just took the words “trouble concerning Arthur” as if she meant a row between us and gave her ample evidence there was no row. In today’s letter she says she is most relieved to hear this and that her chief worry had been that Mrs Knowles seemed to know something about me that she didn’t know. She was upset because she had never known me to keep anything from her before etc. However, she is convinced that Mrs Knowles must have been talking through her hat. Every time I get a letter from Mother I see quite clearly how badly she is going to be hit. I say “Oh hell” and wonder how on earth I’m going to write that letter. But I’m convinced, love, that she’ll be OK afterwards. I often wish I had a “never darken my doors again” sort of parent, one that would be angry rather than hurt. The baby will probably make things alright with both parents. Do you know those old melodramas where the wayward daughter arrives at midnight clutching the ill-gotten child? We may laugh at them but there’s a huge amount of truth in them. My Mick will probably receive far more grandmotherly affection than Ernest’s Mollie, respectably entering the world 18 months after the wedding day. But this piece of philosophy won’t help us to write those letters, will it? Why should a baby be sacred once it’s born, but indecent while it’s unborn? You needn’t think of an answer to this – it’s just my brain rambling on into the strange ways of humanity.
On Monday night I sat down determined to at least plan those awkward letters. I wrote one to Hettie – that was easy. Then I tried to face Mollie’s letter and I couldn’t even start it. After an hour’s solid thinking I made a definite decision – to write to Rev. Mother giving her the full facts and leave it to her to break it. If she cares to tell Mollie just the wedding part and leave the baby until later she can. I won’t write to Mollie until (and if) she writes to me about it. Then you can enclose your letter too. I’m definitely decided on this plan of action.
I haven’t thought much about Mother’s letter yet because I want it to coincide with yours.
Will you PLEASE convince Tim that I did NOT give him a poisonous look! He is being so helpful that I hate to think he has the idea that I don’t like him. My only reaction at seeing him at the show was that it was marvellous to see anyone from Liverpool, especially anyone connected with you. Also I MAY have been a little embarrassed because I was not quite sure at the time whether or not he had heard about my peculiar state. Will you read this paragraph to him and tell him also that I’m terribly grateful for all the help and advice he is giving you. And now, Tim Leuty, if you still think I don’t like you, I’ll give you a piece of my mind on Sunday!
The son has moved to his fourth month position without mishap. This sounds most knowledgeable but all I know is that he does turn a sort of somersault every month. Do you realise that I am exactly one-third of the way now. In six weeks I’ll be half way there! It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? I’ve only been sick once since Saturday, thank heaven.
As a matter of fact the child is sulking a little because I’ve made him take second place to work this week. Sometimes I realise that I haven’t given him a thought for almost three hours. It’s the only possible way to get on with my work properly and I’ve been concentrating on the launching of a new women’s feature this week – a few paragraphs of the gossipy variety. Sloane has been keen on this for a long time and he was like a child when they pulled the proof of it. It’s going to be one of those nerve-racking things where you worry yourself stiff each week because you can’t see where a single par is coming from – like your Waterfront. There was quite a revolution in the works because I introduced drop caps at the beginning of the pars, but even the terribly conservative stone man admitted that it did look rather well. So I’m Sloane’s Big White Hope at the moment. Alas, I’ll be his Big Black Despair soon! I sometimes wonder if this business will spoil the chance of any other woman here. Will they say to hell with women – you see what you get from THEM – after this?
Oh, love, this letter is getting blue, isn’t it? I’m so sorry but I must have exhausted all my cheerfulness on Mother. I’m feeling more journalist than expectant mother just now. I must train myself to make the two go hand in hand. But, mind you, I never REGRET Mickey for a moment now, no matter how journalistic I feel. In my efforts to get really solidly to work this week I have neglected my knitting, I’m afraid. When I knit too much I go into a sort of maternal coma.
One of the decisions I’ve come to on the maternal side is to join the Women’s Pictorial Mothercraft Circle. It’s a really good thing and I’ve heard excellent results from it. You get all sorts of useful things such as pre-natal diets and exercises, layette patterns and feeding charts. It’s quite a sensible business, run by a certified nurse on modern lines.
I’m nearly asleep now so I’ll have my supper and my bath. (It’s my turn for the bath tonight.) I’ll leave this letter open until the morning in case there is one from you. Before I say goodnight I’ll tell you a secret, precious. I’ve been terribly oaty all this week. Sometimes I’ve felt neither journalistic nor maternal but merely wifely. And I’m not just oaty for ANYONE either! Never mind – the 12th and the 13th are not so dim now! Oh, darling, won’t it be marvellous! I sometimes wonder how we even imagined we could wait two more years for this and I think Michael knew what he was doing when he decided to take matters into his own hands and fix his own date. (I wonder if he’s got any hands yet?) Goodnight, dearest.

Thursday morning
I’ve been thinking about where you will pick me up on Sunday. When we were discussing it last Sunday I knew I had some reason for suggesting you should come here for me. This is it – when you come 60 miles in a car how can you estimate that you’ll arrive here at exactly such a time? When the family came they were an hour later than they said they would be. So don’t you think I’d better hang on in the digs, (watching eagerly from my window) until you arrive? Give me an idea of ABOUT what time you’ll arrive.
Busy day ahead. I’ve got to go out to Ellesmere Carnival, arriving back at 7 and then to the choosing of Miss Shropshire. Hope Michael behaves like a gent. Expecting to hear from you tomorrow. Till Sunday, dearest – it’s the day after the day after tomorrow now!
Don’t work too hard my sweet. All my love –
(Trefaldwyn is the house next to the big garage.)

Sep 081936

‘Trefaldwyn’, Coton Hill, Shrewsbury
My Dear,
Two days gone of the week! I was pretty dismal last night and wrote to you, but, as I hate sending you mournful letters, tore it up this morning. This writing of unposted letters is getting quite a habit with me. It’s so damned hard to write a lot of silly nonsense to the people who want to know do I like the job, and are my digs alright, and have I fallen for anyone in Shrewsbury?
I am now actually sitting in front of a fire – the first I’ve seen for weeks. It was so cold that I was beginning to have visions of our Mick being frozen inside me like those fish you were telling me about on Sunday.
Mollie sent me a long letter y’day full of questions including this one – had I given Arthur a book she had suggested entitled “The Catholic Question Box”? I don’t believe I did, did I, my dear, and I don’t believe I ever shall. Also, she is still worried to death because I admire Russia and enclosed a magazine concerning the church’s attitude in Russia, which will make me See The Light.
I suppose that she’ll think all this business of ours is somehow connected with socialist tendencies, but this time next week it won’t be Russia that will be worrying her. By the way, I SHALL write to her after all. After talking it over with myself I have come to the conclusion that it is just pure cowardice to do otherwise.
I called in at the R.D. y’day to make sure it would be all right if you arrived late. The man told me that the ‘deputy’ who is evidently the chap that does the job, “likes to catch his bus just after 12.30, the bus services being as they are”. So I asked what would happen if we came after 12.30, and he said the deputy would HAVE to wait for us but “he didn’t like being late for his bus”. To which I felt like replying “bugger the deputy – he gets paid for it”. So now you know the position! I’m dying to find out if he really does shake your hand and wish you luck and say “7/6 please” like they always do on the films, all in one breath. Doesn’t it seem crazy that any man should have the power to make us any more married than we already are? And how can a few words, gabbled by a man who’s frightened of missing his bus, make Michael into a legitimate and respectable child? It’s all awfully daft when you look at it logically, isn’t it? Thank heaven you’ve never talked about “making a decent woman” of me. Of all the crazy phrases coined by humanity, I think that is the craziest.
I like Mrs. Tim. She seems to be getting quite a kick out of this business, doesn’t she? From her conversation I can’t see myself turning into a typical journalist’s wife, can you? I know those crowds – exactly like Margaret’s clique in Bromboro. I used to watch them pretty closely when I stayed there about four years ago, and I made a private vow never to get involved in such a gang. Pulling other people to pieces doesn’t interest me – this isn’t a virtue, it’s just a state of mind. Before we establish a home I’d like you to know this because I feel particularly strongly on the subject.
Now, about my letter to Mother. I don’t know whether you’ll agree with this but it would make a huge difference to me. Will you let me ask her to wire the hotel on Saturday evening? There’s no danger of her going there. You can take my word for that. Even if the wire played hell, it would be better than silence. I’m afraid I may be inclined to worry myself sick on Saturday, wondering how she’s taken the news and if she’s all right. You have no idea what a difference this will make to my weekend. PLEASE darling, let me do this. And, by the way, what is the exact name of that place?
One more request – dirty joke if you like, but, PLEASE, keep off pregnancy. This may sound stupid but it’s just part of the pregnant mentality and I only found it out on Sunday. It’s not me – it’s Michael. You know how you hate to hear people using foul language before kids? Well, it’s the same sort of reaction, somehow. I wanted to tell him he wasn’t a dirty joke, but terribly sacred. Please try and remember this on Saturday, sweet. I’m not turning into a prig, but it sometimes seems to be that pregnancy develops as much in your mind as in your body. Oh, my poor darling, try and put up with the peculiarities, mental and physical, of your un-virgin wife, for a little while. I believe there is one stage later on when one develops an agonising longing for strange things such as polonies and liquorice all-sorts. Don’t let me have them will you – they’ll probably make me sick. I’ll try to be as little nuisance as possible. I’ve discovered plenty of guts in my make-up, that I never had need of before, during these last two months. No doubt they’ll stretch out a bit.
I expect this is the last letter I’ll write to you before we are married. Next time I’ll be writing to my HUSBAND – queer thought. But we were really married ages ago, weren’t we? To my mind we were married on that extremely wet day in Thursaston, when I got soaked to the skin and you tried to teach me not to be afraid of cows. There was a particularly pretty little jug in a cafe (some day I’d like to go back there and steal it) and it was while I was looking at the jug that I stopped fighting against loving you and I knew that we would always belong to each other. After that we waded along a lane about a foot deep in mud and you proceeded to seduce me against a five-bar gate. (It was still raining.) An unconventional and, in the world’s opinion, an extremely uncomfortable courtship. Somehow our most precious moments were always mixed up with dampness, prickly grass, sand and gnats. But would I have it different? NO, I WOULD NOT!!!
Perhaps it is the memory of those gates etc. that makes the prospect of a real bed so terribly attractive to us. So here’s to next Saturday night! I hope you’re eating oysters all this week. Bless you, precious, and goodnight. The child has just given three little twinges. Whether he’s sending messages to his papa or whether he’s merely complaining about his diet I don’t know. Probably he just wants to go to bed, and so does his ma.
Till Saturday, dearest,

Sep 151936

Tuesday 7.15pm
‘Trefaldwyn’, Shrewsbury
My Darling,
I suppose I should address this to “My Honoured Husband”, shouldn’t I? And, before I forget, how is the honoured husband’s tummy? Did you go to the doctor? And what did he say?
Oh, dearest, doesn’t it seem an age since I got on that train! Everyday life is so bleak compared with that weekend, but I do feel that the worst is over and whatever we have to face now will be comparatively easy. No one can unmarry us, and no one can take last weekend away from us or make it less precious.
I’m enclosing Mother’s letter, which I had less than an hour after leaving you, and Hettie’s letter, so you will know as much news from the home front as I do myself. I do love Mother’s war-horse attitude – “to blazes with everyone”. Judging by this letter I think that whatever attitude she may take that may seem at cross-purposes with us, will be founded purely on devotion to me. I am particularly grateful for two things – that she does not unload any maternal abuse on the man in the case, and that she makes no reference to religion. Really, considering the great stress under which that letter must have been written, I do not think anyone could have risen to the occasion more generously. Good old Hettie! Down there by 9 o’clock!
I think you will agree that in the light of Mother’s letter, I had to tell her I would be down on Sunday. It would have been cruel to do otherwise. If I had not stated a definite day she would have been running down here some time this week. All her talk about not carrying on is, of course, ridiculous, but you must remember that when she wrote that she had no idea how many months gone I was. I know I can carry on without anyone suspecting for another couple of months if things go smoothly. If she is still difficult on this point I shall persuade her to come down and see the doctor who will talk her over. I wrote a long letter to her last night, telling her Michael was not due until March and that I was NOT taking any absurd risks. Also I made a special point of there being no H.B.’s present on Sunday. She will see the sense of that.
By the way, love, if you could spare a moment this week, I do wish you would drop her a couple of lines thanking her for the way she has taken it. You know what a difference it has made to me. I ask you to do this only for your own sake, because it will stand you in good stead in the future. (22 Limedale Road, Liverpool 18, in case you have forgotten.)
Have you got over maternal difficulties on your side yet? It’s an awful pity you can’t bear the child too, because you can see what a lot of trouble it lets me out of, can’t you? Perhaps if you explain your morning sickness to your mother. She might think you have undertaken part of my duties, but I’m afraid she’ll just say “bull”.
That son of yours is an ungrateful brat, you know. I gave him a lovely lettuce for his tea, not because I wanted it but because it was good for him, and I was sick! And yet he is often as good as gold when I give him things that can’t be any earthly use to him. A really awkward child, just like his pa – bless them both anyway!
How do you like a virgin bed, now? I don’t think much of it personally, although I slept in mine from 9pm last night till 7 this morning.
Michael says he doesn’t see the fun of being illegitimate. He heard the doctor say that cereals were good for him, but personally he thinks oats are far better than shredded wheat. He felt so respectable during the weekend, but now his Mother doesn’t even wear a ring! Never mind, son, say I, believe it or not, you’re as legitimate as the law can make you, but you’re a love-child for all that, and a better lad you’ll be for it.
Sloane has been just as awkward as he can be this week, but a lot I care! I’ve got the trump card now, so I just grin inwardly and tell him where he gets off. When I see you on Sunday don’t let me forget to tell you of a long conversation I have had with MacHardy.
I mustn’t write any more because I must go out and see what the Labour women are doing at their Harvest Home. It’s raining too, damn it.
Now, my precious man, goodbye for just a little while.
With true wifely devotion from Mrs Johnson, and all the love in the world from just
your own,

Sep 171936

Thursday Tea-time
‘Trefaldwyn’, Shrewsbury
Your letter arrived with an avalanche of correspondence on my bed this morning. At least to my half-asleep brain it seemed that everyone under the sun had written to me, but actually it was only five.
I’m glad to hear you have found the definite cause of your morning sickness. Now it’s absolutely up to you yourself and I’m going to tell you off according to a wife’s rights if you don’t cut down that smoking!
Being Thursday I can’t take hours over this letter, so I’d better get down to business. About this weekend. After due thought I have decided to come on Saturday and return Sunday night. Michael has definitely been in a most lively mood this week and has just discovered a new form of torture. He seems to be trying to “pull Mummy’s leg” or something – anyway, he’s playing hell with my legs. As it is I’m doing far too many trains and buses every day, and I really don’t think it would be wise to do two sixty-mile journeys on Sunday with all sorts of emotional strain sandwiched in between. Don’t you agree? I’m not getting squeamish about myself – it’s the kid I’m thinking of, and he’s not giving me a chance to forget him this week!
My best train on Saturday seems to be one leaving at 2.15. I change at Rock Ferry and arrive Liverpool Central at 4.8pm. Can you meet this? Drop me a line to reach me by Sat morning. If you definitely know that you can’t be at Central at this time, I could have some tea in town and you could meet me somewhere after that. You see, I think it’s going to be of inestimable value if we can arrive at Limedale together. It will impress on the family that WE are a family, whereas if I arrive alone and you follow later it will give them the impression that it’s just me and the baby, with you quite out of the picture. I’m sure you’ll see the sense in this. You mustn’t blame Mother for trying to make plans and give orders. When you’ve looked after a person for 21 years and have had a hand in every move in that person’s life, it must be hard to realise that the said person has got a husband to take care of her. THAT is why I think it is essential we should make our first appearance en masse – father, mother, and (I hope) invisible child. (Sounds like some new form of the holy trinity, doesn’t it?)
If you should discover on Saturday that you can’t possibly be at the station then, leave a message at the club. Then if you are not at Central by, say, 4.30, I’ll ring the club. I’m determined not to go home without you because it will make such a bad impression.
Your letter sounds just a little afraid that I’m going to allow myself to be talked over by other people. Oh sweet, don’t you know me better than that? Don’t be afraid, darling – it’s “us” now and no one is going to arrange our lives for us.
News from home is a mingling of good and bad. Chris is just as I thought she would be. No word from her but Mother describes her as being “sullenly wild” about the situation, and warns me not to expect a hearty welcome from that quarter. (We must get a reserve – there’s one of my knitting team gone!) I can quite see her point of view. It’s not just this affair – it’s a matter of years. Although she and I have never had one quarrel there has always been a terrific undercurrent of bitterness and jealousy against me. It must be damned hard, when you’ve had a more or less humdrum existence and been a blameless daughter, to see all the affection suddenly going out to the black sheep. Mother has stated definitely that she is with me, and if anyone in the house is against me, they must also be against her.
In the morning’s letter she seems to be getting over the first shock and says she is going to spread the report that we were married secretly last May. Aunty Amy is the only relative who has been told the truth. As she is also aunt to the Gregson family who do this sort of thing so monotonously, she should be used to it.
Margaret has also reacted according to my prophecy. (Margaret is my brother’s wife, in case you think she’s my cousin.) She sends her love to “the three of us” and says we can rely upon her to do her utmost to help in any way possible (what a pity she’s a lousy knitter!) She also remarks cheerfully that the pangs of childbirth will be nothing to the mental agony I must have already undergone! I’m inclined to agree with her, too. I asked that she should tell me the truth about Mother as I had a feeling everyone was trying to spare me. Mother is all right now, apparently, but collapsed completely physically and mentally on Tuesday morning. I certainly can’t complain that Margaret has spared me anything. She fairly goes into details! Mother was evidently a raving lunatic for a few hours, shrieking that she knew I would die. There was more than that but I’ll spare you. Margaret finishes up on quite a cheerful note and says Mother is fine now. So altogether it was a bittersweet sort of letter. Margaret as an ally is good though, and I’m jolly glad of the way she has taken it.
Thank Arthur Jones for his message and his marvellous compliment! I’m looking forward to hearing from him, and I’ll also be deeply interested to hear about the interview with Norman.
We are developing our forces aren’t we!
Yes, I have told Mac, and I’m really glad I did. As I told you, one can trust him. He’s full of admiration for my acting ability. He has advised me about the Sloane side of the question, and helps me in all sorts of odd little ways during the day. I’ll tell you all he said when I see you, and don’t let me forget to include the interlude in the conversation where Sloane put his head in the office and made some wonderfully appropriate remarks.
By the way, I’ve just discovered that Mac was born and educated an R.C. but chucked it up a few years ago! Consequently he is in a particularly good position to see every side of my question. If you do manage a day or two here, before I hie me to your bed I would like you and Mac to have a drink together. He is really a great help.
Well, dear one, I must get back now. We’ve all had a stiff week. One chap is on holiday and the tonsil person is still nursing himself and says he won’t be back for another three weeks. He’s had three already. I do wish it were possible for someone to put that lad in the family way!
By the way, the R.C. priest when I called about a wedding, made a flat refusal to see me yesterday! Previously he was most matey. What do you make of that?
I MUST go now. Do try and meet that train. Till Saturday, my darling, and your son (who is juggling with my kidneys at the moment) sends his filial affection.
Bye, my own,

Sep 121941

Very Odd Ode

Said little Stella,
“We’re in a helluva
Said Arfa-parf,
Not ’arf.
I’d better marry you,
That’s the Proper Thing to do.”
Which is not quite
The right
Way for a great story to start,
With the girl in the cart.
We agree,
But you’ll see
If this story you follow
That it has Cleo and Helen and even
Snow White all beaten hollow.
Which just shows that you never can tell
Well, well!

Pardon this rot
But I don’t need to write a great sonnet
And splash tears upon it
To tell you I love you today
So wot?


Mar 241942

I never want to see a curtain or a hook or a curtain ring again! The whole of today has been occupied with curtains and their etceteras in some shape or form. It started this morning when I took our bedroom curtains down and put them in soak so that I would have to wash them today. Then after breakfast I thought I’d better get the screws in the window frames before doing the shopping. I thought this would take about half an hour but actually it took nearly all the morning because I discovered I would have to put in 16 screws – one in each corner of each frame and as they had to go in as far in the corner as possible and there was scarcely any room for your finger and thumb (I mean mine not yours) it was a fiddling job. The sun was quite warm outside but working in the window all that time I began to feel like a tomato in a greenhouse. Then there was a last minute rush to the shops, then dinner to cook and eat – and still you notice no work done and the curtains still in soak. After dinner I washed the curtains. My fist went straight through the first one so I treated the others with great reverence! Fortunately it was a perfect washing day and they dried beautifully. While they were on the line I took Wendy’s old curtains down and unpicked the Rufflette tapes on them as I didn’t see why they should be wasted. Then I sewed these on to her new curtains, made the frill, put the hooks in and hung them up. They look lovely and fresh but they will have to be washed very regularly.
This brought us to tea-time. After tea I ironed and hooked our curtains (they look lovely now – I hope they haven’t got mucky again by the time you come home) washed the dishes and bathed the children, who had been out all day and were just as filthy as the curtains! With them in bed I hung our curtains up again and then started, while there was still some daylight, to sew rings on our new blackout. I had to do this on the window to be sure that each ring was in exactly the right spot, so this was just as fiddling as putting the screws in. Anyway it’s done now, thank heaven and looks quite neat. I haven’t been out to test its efficiency as a blackout yet. If I find the light showing after all the trouble I’ve had I’ll go completely mad!
The whole thing is taken down quite quickly and it’s made from those two pieces of curtain that used to cover the two centre windows. I re-dyed them and they are quite a good black now. This leaves only the two side windows permanently papered and just now they are going to stay like that. I refuse to even consider another black-out problem. And that’s quite enough of that – three and a half pages of curtains! I’ll have you so sick of them as I am myself. I sometimes wonder if I bore you with all these tedious domestic details, but my day never seems complete if I haven’t told you exactly what I’ve done with it.
Your letter arrived by the midday post. I can never make up my mind when I want your letters to arrive. I like them first thing in the morning, of course, but when one doesn’t come it means that there are still the other two posts to look forward to.
Yes, I can quite understand how unsettled you will be feeling this week. Actually you have never had a chance to settle down in Skegness, knowing that you would be there such a short time. If you are going to be at Aberdeen for six months there will be some point in trying to get settled there. Is the Commodore who kept you waiting while your dinner went cold the same bloke who didn’t come to see your nice clean chalet? He seems a regular pest!
Michael’s behaviour is not such a worry as it was because in this weather I bundle them out right after breakfast so see very little of him all day. Meal times are the bogey. How he gets enough energy to play around all day I don’t know. He is eating absolutely nothing. Today, for instance, he had no more than two forkfuls of dinner, then at four o’clock came in pleading for a biscuit and I told him he was hungry because he hadn’t eaten his dinner and would have to stay hungry till tea-time. He yelled the place down of course, but, as he really did seem hungry, I thought there would be no trouble over tea. There being a sudden rush of new-laid eggs (they had so many today that they were making everyone take next week’s rations as well as this week’s – I had to take 18!) I made omelettes with apricot jam. Michael ate about a third of his, said he liked it, then deliberately played with the rest and didn’t have another scrap! This performance at every meal is most nerve-racking. I never enjoy my own meals. The baby-theorists say you should never show that it matters to you if a child doesn’t eat, but these days it is very hard to show no emotion when you see good food wasted. I hope Rees will give him something that will make him ravenous. Michael’s cough seems to be improving and Wendy is a mystery to me still. She looks fine, eats wonderfully well, and scarcely coughed at all during the day. Then each night round about eleven she starts this really terrible coughing. Last night she went on till she was sick. I gave her an extra dose of medicine during the night and it seemed to help a lot. There is always something to worry about, isn’t there? All day I’m expecting Michael to faint with malnutrition and half the night I’m sitting on Wendy’s bed while she coughs her insides out. Then next morning she seems so bright and energetic that you feel you must have dreamt it all.
I was wondering how you got on about your feet and I’m sorry you had to pay for new boots. How much did they ream you for them? You certainly have made very good use of the naval health services so far. It’s a wonder you didn’t have a baby there while you were at it!
Your mother was fishing for an invitation to stay over Easter yesterday. I hadn’t realised that Will was going away or I would have raised the matter myself. Anyway I thought I’d better clarify the situation right away so I told her that if I had definite news that you would not be home during the Easter weekend she would be very welcome, but while there was the faintest chance of you coming I was not inviting anyone to stay overnight and was not going to stay a night anywhere myself. With Thelma going away these weekends alone will become a very real problem for her, and she is quite welcome to come here at any time when there is no chance of a surprise visit from you, but no one under the sun is going to spoil that precious first moment, my sweet!
By the way, while we are on the subject, if you do find out exactly what time you will be coming beforehand, it might be as well not to let your mother know as she might find some excuse to be here at that time. I’m not blaming her, love. It’s only natural that she should want to see you as soon as she possibly can – but that moment is yours and mine and I’m willing to make a life-long enemy out of anyone who makes it otherwise!
It has been really warm here today. These nice not-too-hot days, especially towards the evening, always remind me of those long-ago days when we used to go walks together, stopping now and again for a drink (and now and again for other things!) while you expounded your theories on marriage and the world in general. I shall tell Wendy to marry a confirmed batchelor – they make such excellent husbands! I remember you saying that no man on earth was faithful to his wife, to which I replied that I was thankful I was not going to marry you! Dear, dear, how sure of ourselves we were, and how very, very young! Changed your ideas about fidelity, my own? Or are you leaving someone behind in Skegness? Do you remember how, catering for any eventuality, you had it all settled that if I should become pregnant you would marry me to legalise the child and then divorce me as soon as possible? What a cold-blooded monster you were, and yet I came back for more, didn’t I? I probably stuck to you at that time chiefly because I was jumping mad that I hadn’t made you fall for me. It came as quite a shock when you said “Have you ever thought of marrying me?” – in that little lane in West Kirby. I’ve never yet been able to make up my mind whether you were in earnest or not and I don’t think you knew yourself, did you? How wild I used to get because you would never say you loved me. In lighter moments you would say “I hate the sight of you” and in more emotional moments you would just kiss me but you’d never say it, you bugger! You’ve said it enough since to fill all those gaps, haven’t you precious?
West Kirby reminds me of a letter I wrote to you from there in which somehow the shadow of war cropped up. I remembered writing “Please, never go to any wars, will you darling”. Remember? That must be several years ago. I wonder if a hint of today’s separation touched me when I wrote that, even when I didn’t know I would ever be married to you. Not to be married to you! Can you imagine what that would mean? I can’t. I can’t picture myself at all without you. All those years before you came and comparatively few years since you came and yet you’re the whole of my life. How horrible to think it might never have happened. I sometimes go over the crossroads and see how often, years ago, I might have missed you. When I neither knew nor cared about your existence I was deciding, or other people and events were deciding, whether or not I should ever meet you. Just to take one little example. When I sat for the scholarship it was settled that if I didn’t pass for Bellevue I could be sent to Mount Pleasant (that being £2 cheaper). Now if I’d gone there it is practically certain that the higher standard of all-round teaching would have made up just that slight difference between an ordinary H.S. Cert and a university scholarship. Which means that I would have been fancying my chances with some conceited student when I might have been seducing you on the sandhills! ’Orrible thought!!! And you can even trace our meeting to years before either of us were born. For instance, if my Aunt Annie had not had a girl friend called Celia (who afterwards married a Tom Greene) then a certain young woman – whose parents had not even met then – would never have heard of the ‘Bootle Times’. And that’s only my side of the picture. All that time you were somehow, through a maze of crossroads and decisions, moving towards me, until that moment when you walked (or should I say staggered?) into County Hall (blessed be it for ever) and in a drunken stupor decided that you had to shag someone and I just happened to be about. And the world was never quite the same afterwards because the fates that had been trying to get these two stupid people to see that they were incomplete without each other, leaned back and left the rest to us. And even then we were stupid enough to hold out against loving each other! So the fates got a bit anxious and had to dig up a silly man who lived somewhere near me, and make him win some silly competition so that you would have to come and see him – and in passing, put me in the family way! We did give those fates a lot of bother didn’t we? They’d been working so hard to make sure that we should meet and yet when they plonked us down in the same little office we were just polite to each other – “Miss Gregson, you made these errors in this sports proof”. “Oh, did I, I’m sorry Mr Johnson.” Why didn’t the earth turn upside down or the heavens open or something when I was introduced to you? That’s what I can never understand. Life’s Big Moment – and nothing happens.
Oh, my own, my precious, I could go on like this for ever – I am never tired of contemplating the miracle of our finding each other – and the hideous possibility that we might, somewhere along the road, have taken a wrong turning, and each spent an aimless life trying to find the other and never knowing what we had missed. And Wendy and Michael would have been lonely little unborn ghosts in the limbo where the babies live whose parents lost their way. My darling, we belong to each other, now and a million years hence.
My last letter to Skegness, angel. Tomorrow night I shall be writing to you and on Friday night when you are on the train. Perhaps for part of the time the train will bring you nearer to me and then up you’ll go out of England far away – but all the time you’ll be close in my arms. You are never far away from me, sweet. Even if you sail to the other side of the world so that we are, for a moment, just as far from each other as is physically possible, we shall be a million times nearer than most people who eat and live and sleep together.
I can see every line of your face so clearly now, that I can’t believe you are not here. I’ve only just noticed that my face is quite wet – but I’m not miserable, darling – how could I be when I’ve got you right by me at this moment?
I’ll say goodnight, now, dearest, before I come down to earth again. I haven’t the foggiest idea of the time but it must be darned late. Write from Aberdeen the first minute you can.
Always your very own,

Apr 151942

Here is your chain, dearest, with all my love. Sorry I can’t put it on for you, but some day, when we are together for always again, I shall have the greatest pleasure in taking it off. Until then, my own, it can be a small tangible symbol of the invisible and unbreakable chain that will always bind us to each other. May it keep you safe, now and always, and bring you home to me.

Sep 111942

Morningside, Liverpool
[first pages missing]
Wendy’s rash had practically disappeared this morning, so I told her to tell Miss Ellis that I thought it was a fruit rash. Miss Ellis evidently said that “your mother’s probably right” or words to that effect.
This singing business amazes me. It seems we have been raising a prima donna! I thought yesterday’s grand success was a fluke of some sort, but today three classes had singing together in the hall. The ‘champs’ of each class sang solo and then our Wendy was brought to the front and according to her “the teachers said I sang nicer than any of them and some of them were awfully big!” So there must be something to it, though I still can’t see it myself. Perhaps it is that all children of this age ‘sing’ in this same monotonous way, and the teachers are able to pick out the ones that might develop something like a voice. Well, it just beats me.
Despite your soulful rendering of ‘Danny Boy’ and less respectable ditties, singing was about the last talent I expected to find in one of our children. It’s the Breen coming out in her, that’s what it is!! But seriously, love, I’d give anything to see Wendy singing in front of a hallful of children! I still can’t believe it’s true.
Now that’s all the news of the children and the only other news of me is that I’ve finished making the marrow jam and it seems very nice. I didn’t make last year’s mistake of overcooking it. Shall I risk sending you some in a tin? That last experience has scared me. This lot produced about four and three quarter pounds. Next time I’m going to experiment by adding a pound of apples. That should make it set much more quickly and there won’t be so much loss of weight. I should be able to scrape up enough sugar in about another three weeks. Unfortunately it’s not a very economical jam from the sugar point of view.
By the time you’ve got this far in the letter you’ll be thinking that I’ve forgotten on what day it will arrive. No, I haven’t forgotten, darling, only I wanted to be rid of the more mundane matters before I mentioned it. That being done I’ll say many happier returns, darling. I’ve always been glad that no one seems aware of our anniversary except ourselves. That’s how it should be, for it doesn’t mean a thing to anyone else but us. It’s our own day, precious, and in future years we’ll have a whale of a time every anniversary to make up for the ones we’ve missed. Through your peculiar work hours and my habit of child-bearing we’ve never had a chance to do this day justice, have we? Still, it’s always meant a lot to us for I think we’ve both been aware that each passing anniversary has brought us closer to each other.
From the time you cast your evil eye upon me at Marjorie Smith’s party, my life with you has fallen into definite sections, each one drawing us closer together than the last one. First there was the ‘courting’ period – days when you used to drag me away down dark passages in Bootle Town Hall and have your will of me; or walk me for miles while you laid down the law; or just find a sheltered spot in the sandhills in the dear dead days when they weren’t bristling with barbed wire and A.A. guns – an ‘Echo’ to lie on, your glasses in my hat, one more evidence buried in the sand – dear love, if I shut my eyes I can recapture the whole atmosphere of those nights. I can hear the river and feel the sand running through my fingers as we lay smoking the post-coital cigarette! How difficult it was to have to remember mundane things like last buses. But there was always tomorrow when we would meet on business footing – “Will you see to this Miss Gregson?” “Certainly, Mr. Johnson!” Not a flicker of the eyelid to reveal that we had lain in the sand the previous night and would do so again at the first opportunity. We were pretty hot, weren’t we, although I say it myself.
But I’m rambling – I do love to linger over those first days when we were learning to know each other and I was learning to love you and trying so hard not to! It seemed to me at first the ideal relationship. We suited each other sexually, we enjoyed each other’s company. Neither of us wanted to sentimentalise it, neither of us wanted marriage. But after a while I was dissatisfied. I suppose a woman always is when she finds a man isn’t falling for her! Do you remember when I said “I’m not just a body to you, am I?” I had begun to feel that anyone could have filled my position with you, only I happened to be obliging. There were times when I could have choked you for your refusal to fall in love with me. But there were good days too, when I was thoroughly happy with you, content that you only wanted me, and that you did like to be with me quite apart from shagging me. And as we began to know each other better I began to think that perhaps some day you might love me a little bit! And then in a little gnat-infested lane in West Kirby you leaned me against a wall and said “Have you ever thought about marrying me?” I didn’t take it too seriously but it was pleasant to turn the notion over in my mind.
After that came black days. You left the ‘B.T.’ I saw you but rarely and when I saw you, you shagged me with a sort of bitterness and promptly left me again, like a man eating his dinner and rushing off to his business. Then one night you told me you weren’t going to see me again for six months. And the same night you raved about Dr. Somebody’s daughter and when I looked at you a trifle suspiciously you said “Lord, you don’t think I shagged her, do you? You couldn’t touch a girl like that.” Wow! Not very tactful, love! You hadn’t worried about touching me! That gave me to think. It seemed the virtuous ones were right. I had made myself “cheap” and here I was being cast off for six months for “business reasons”. But it seemed funny that business reasons should crop up at the same time as another girl. I came home and cried a bit and painted my bedroom and tried to stop loving you. Six months seemed a long time and I hadn’t much faith that you’d want me at the end of that time. But I was wrong. The six months lasted exactly two weeks when you popped up at a dance in Litherland and bore me away from Norman to his great annoyance and my huge delight!
But you weren’t very nice to me in the days after that. You were bitter with the world and you seemed to vent it all on me. How often I wished for the strength of mind to break away from you! At last after a night when you’d been particularly abominable I made up my mind that I’d have to finish it and get over it as well as I could. The next date you made with me I came to meet you with every intention that it would be the last time. And, just as if you knew, you were angelic to me. For the first time you spoke about marrying me seriously. I’ve always been glad of that – that you did think about marrying me long before you had to! That night settled it. I was happy after that. You still didn’t admit you loved me but I stopped worrying about it. I just knew that I was in love with you for always and would have to make the best of whatever you felt for me.
Some time after that the “courting” period ended and the “crisis” stage began. Poor old Wendy! Sometimes I look at her, so sure of herself, and think of the days when her life was in peril.
Queer days those – planning for Shrewsbury and planning for a hurried marriage at the same time. I remember one night at a pub in Woolton – we settled all our crises in pubs! – when you were making a layout of a Shrewsbury’s Children’s page, and a list of the first essentials for finding a house, all on the same piece of paper! How I relied on you in those days. You were an angel. You were the one sure thing then.
The next stage was the Alexander Road period. I’ve never pretended that was a particularly happy time. There were too many things to get used to – house keeping, new relations, complications with my own relations, religious persecutions – and you. That last remark sounds nasty but I don’t mean it like that. All I mean is that when you start living with anyone, even when you love them as I loved you, you have to start getting to know them all over again. And then there were things that you couldn’t appreciate – like having no money of my own, and being lonely for the first time in my life. I used to stand in the evening watching the lighted buses go past, thinking of nights when I had to rush round to those dances and of the friendly noise at Limedale. I suppose all these things seemed worse because I was ill all the time before and after Wendy was born. Sweetheart, I’d love to write “Our first home – how happy I was!” But it’s no use pretending – I was just damned miserable.
But I loved you, darling. I had that though I think it was the one time since I’ve known you when I might conceivably have stopped loving you – not through any fault of yours, but just that it is harder to love when you’re conscious of nothing but your own misery. I think I let you down then. I mean that I kept too much unhappiness shut in. I didn’t tell you about it and so didn’t give you a chance to make things better. I was so scared that if I started moaning you might stop loving me, for I thought that at last you did love me and it was such a new and tremendous delight that I was frightened to breathe on it.
Then for the second time our life was turned by your putting me in the family way. The Morningside phase began and still goes on, for the fact of your going away hasn’t somehow started a new stage in our lives. Four years we’ve been here and three of them have been war years and yet I’ve been so happy darling. It seemed that when we came here we came together at last, with no reservations.
We’ve travelled a long way in our eight years, haven’t we, sweet? Yes, I know it’s only six years today, but our marriage only marked another stage in our relationship. We started off as two young people so sure of themselves and their world, and here we are sure of nothing except each other – but so terribly sure about that.
After six years in most marriages I think the gilt’s worn off. Not for us, love. I love you a thousand times more than the day I married you and am a thousand times more sure of your love. And we haven’t just grown used to each other. The longer we have lived together the more we have seemed to gain of that romance which we so haughtily cast aside when we first started to know each other.
I don’t know what I’ve been trying to tell you in all this long rigmarole – unless it is that I have loved you more deeply as each anniversary has come along.
My darling it is past midnight. I had no idea it was so late. I must stop telling you how much I adore you or I’ll be here all night. Oh, sweetheart, I do love you.
The enclosed is to get a couple of extra pints to celebrate this auspicious occasion! I know you don’t want me to send you money, but please don’t be cross just for this once! It’s only to make the day a little bit different for you. I’ll be all cut up if you tell me off about it. I love you, angel, I love you.
Always your own,

Nov 141942

I’m feeling very virtuous this evening because even if you were here to bully me I could not be “looking after myself” more than I am doing now. I am actually in bed at the unholy hour of 7.30 – in fact the children and I all went to bed at the same time.
All this has not been done without reason of course. My cold seemed to take on a new lease of life today, and this afternoon I started going hot and shivery and head-achy. Actually I’ve improved a lot during the last hour but I felt really “in for something” at tea time. Anyway, I’m concentrating on sweating it out now with the help of bed, a hot water bottle, two Vegenin tablets, and hot milk.
I’ve told you all this in detail just to show you what good care I’m taking of myself and I do mean it when I say that I’m feeling much better already. The children have been splendid – they get really concerned now if I’m not well. Until mothers are really ill I think children are apt to regard them as machines that just can’t run down. This morning I had an extra hour in bed and they were up before me. When I came down I found the curtains pulled back and the breakfast table laid!
I went to South Road this morning but got no further at Martins except that I got a definite understanding that if the coat has not been found by the next time I go in they will give me a claim form. The woman admitted that everything had got in a terrible mess and I noticed there were several people there on a similar errand. Anyway, my much-loved blue coat was safe and sound and it does feel so nice and cosy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a coat I liked better than this one. The brown coat is beginning to feel a bit chilly now and I think I got this fresh cold on South Road today.
Your mother was round this afternoon, fortunately in a pleasant mood. She is trying to make Xmas plans but of course I couldn’t say what I was doing until I knew your movements. She is talking about going to Joe’s for Xmas, but of course she won’t. About Doris she has done just the same thing again – advised them not to come because of the expense. You remember how hurt Doris was last year about this same thing.
A bit of street gossip now – Mrs Hodge is expecting. She’s the last person I would have thought of because Carol is such a typically “only” child. I believe she got the shock of her life – something must have come unstuck! Anyway, if I’m proved to be in the same boat I’ll have some company going to the clinic, and if that comes off I bet Mrs Gardiner will follow suit. There’s nothing more catching than pregnancy, especially in this road. The position regarding myself at the present moment is that I am 12 days over but have so far had no other symptoms. Illness, as I have told you, can easily throw the machinery out of gear, so don’t take it for granted until I report more definite signs or until I can go to Rees for an examination – that will be in about three weeks from now. As you know I find this an extremely nerve-racking period and I’ll probably leave the subject alone until I have something more definite to tell you.
Talking about babies – I thought the irony of this would have intrigued you as much as it did me: Dick Hasprey[??] and Maisie with infant plus several females very obviously returning from a christening!
Well, love, that’s all the news for today. Like Charlie I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you were still cleaning the tables at Cookham at the end of the war. Everyone is banking on next spring to finish it now but I’m inclined to think [??]’s was a pretty fair estimate. It’s the first time since the war began that I have ever been able to even dimly visualise the end, so it’s a new sensation for me.

The first thing that happened this morning was vapours so you’ve lost your bet! I was as usual disappointed, but I’ve been sensible about it, and although it was later than it had been for a couple of years, I hadn’t really been banking on it.
I have felt much better today although my cold still hangs on. I have come to the conclusion that the real trouble now is catarrh because I have a perpetual headache and very peculiar noises and explosions in one ear. If it doesn’t clear up soon I’ll go and see Rees – I probably need some sort of nasal douche. I looked up catarrh in the ‘Home Doctor’ and read the depressing news that a cold in the head following “a virulent germ such as pneumonia” often leads to chronic catarrh. That didn’t exactly cheer me up but at least it made me determined to get rid of the condition as soon as possible.
The children were once again down before me so I let Wendy put the kettle on and Michael raked out and laid the fire without any supervision. He must have done it right because it lit first time! They’ve both been very good all day and altogether it’s been a quiet peaceful sort of day.
I haven’t done your pants yet, love. The only reason is that with a headache, working on dark material is just murder. They won’t take long when I do tackle them.
I do miss you, darling. You’ve been home so often lately that I’ve been completely spoilt. And yet already I feel as if I haven’t seen you for months. It will be heaven to have you home without the cloud of your going away always hanging over us. Never mind, the last few weeks have brought that day considerably nearer.
The children have got some fantastic game (Cynthia is its author) that would amuse you. Michael sits down holding a torch and is supposed to be God. Wendy dances round him and is a fairy. Michael’s eyes are shut but every so often Wendy rouses him and he stands up brandishing his arm in several directions, then says “I’ve killed them all” and retires to his throne again. Now, what would you make of that? When I was bathing him he said “I’m still God, you know”.
I don’t think there’s anything else to tell you. I’m looking forward to another letter from you tomorrow. It does seem absurd that there hasn’t been time for you to send a letter in answer to any of mine yet. The services both ways seem very slow, though the letter I sent on Wed. might have arrived after you left the camp on Thursday. Goodbye for now, sweetheart. I do love you so much even if I do go ill at awkward times and let my boilers burst at the wrong moment. I’m all yours, precious.
All my love,

Nov 271942

No letter today young man – that’s twice in one week. I’ll be beginning to think that the wicked metropolis is luring you away from your poor little wife. You spoilt me in Glasgow, pet, that’s the trouble. There’s a funny thing about your London letters. No matter when they are posted they always arrive by the morning post. So if the ‘D.P.’ comes without a letter I know it’s no use watching the later posts.
I gave myself a holiday from cooking today. We went and ate, on the way back from the library, at the British Restaurant near the George (that one in South Road isn’t open yet). My one complaint about the place is that they give you far too much. What I should have done was to order one dinner and two plates and given Michael half mine, then we would both have had plenty. I couldn’t get through mine and though Michael seemed willing to wade through his I told him not to worry about it. Meat, potatoes, carrots, gravy, and steamed pudding with custard. For the two of us the charge was 1/5! They were doing a roaring trade and there was a complete cross-section of the public there – boys and girls from the secondary schools, business men, shop girls, soldiers, housewives, factory workers, bus conductors etc. There was a constant stream coming in and I kept wondering how and where they all fed before this place was opened – the demand must have existed yet no one realised it. It made quite a pleasant change, especially as I was stuck for something for dinner today.
The one in South Road should be more convenient for us when it opens and I’ll probably get into the habit of going about once a week. It’s not like having a meal in town where you feel “done” when you pay the bill.
Apart from this I don’t think there’s much to tell you today. Marjorie got my prescription from Bastick’s[??] and I nearly broke my heart when I saw the size of the bottle – about four inches high and it cost 9/7! I don’t know how long this treatment has to be kept up, but it’s going to cost 5/- a week, so that finishes any idea of being able to save a few bob for Xmas. You needn’t write and tell me to take the stuff regularly! When you’ve paid that much you’re not likely to forget a dose, and just as a matter of interest I’ve reckoned it works out at 9d a teaspoonful! So you may be sure I treat it with due respect. The tales you hear about how horrible it is are all a load of bunk – it’s not at all bad.
I didn’t thank you for the children’s letters yesterday. I think they appreciated the praise from you.
Do you realise this is the first time we’ve had no idea when your next leave will be? I suppose, by the 3-monthly rule, you are due for another seven days at the beginning of February. It’s a pity they’ve stopped weekends just when you’re in a convenient place.
Sweet, I miss you more every day. And yet, in one way, I don’t want you to see me again until I’m looking marvellous (as if I ever could!) That isn’t strictly true for I’d give the world for you to walk in now.
Well, lamb, I must to bed. I believe Melias have some raisins, and though I haven’t much hope of there being any left, I want to get down there as early as possible tomorrow. Elsewhere you can get sultanas but nothing else and currants are just non-existent. There’ll be some queer puddings this year.
Goodnight angel, I love you.
Always your own,

Saturday morning
Many thanks for long letter, darling. I’ll let you off about Friday!

Nov 281942

Many thanks for a very long letter today. There seem to be a few points to answer so I’ll start on it now. By now, of course, you will know that I have the liver stuff so the question of getting it in London doesn’t arise. The 2oz should last 2 weeks. I don’t know how long I’ll have to take it yet, and Rees can’t say until he sees how much improvement I’m making on it. As he is so concerned about putting me on anything so expensive I don’t think he’ll keep me on it any longer than necessary, but will probably put me back to the fessolates as soon as possible. Yes, I sent Rees the £1 a day or two after you left. I have also put aside another 10/- for him, but I’m afraid, after paying 15/- for medicine out of this week’s money, I’ll have to take that in order to exist till next pay day. This next bill will probably be about the same as the last. I don’t know what happens about the X-ray and other tests. I paid nothing at the time.
About the grant. I applied first to the SSAFA and they put me on to Miss Rollo. She is not connected with SSAFA but is the local welfare officer. Recently I have come across the slip giving information on this. It tells you to ask at the P.O. for the name of the regional officer for pensions. Anyway, it all goes to the same place for the decision and I don’t see any point in trying any other method, having found Miss Rollo so decent. As you can only claim for amounts exceeding £2 they would be justified in giving you 10/- for a £2-10 bill, so I think we did well to get the pound. I honestly don’t think the office scheme would be worth worrying about – this business of “after the first £5” makes it pretty useless.
There was an interval there. Mrs Gardner came over on a matter concerning Xmas puddings and from that the subject somehow turned to “nights out” and we both started counting how long it was since we had been to a dance. She has now gone to get on with the puddings and I’ve lent her some prunes to be chopped up as “ersatz” currants.
I’m glad you enjoyed your evening with Bill and Emily. It’s a pity they haven’t a family for I’m sure they would make really sensible parents. I do hate to see good parents wasted when there are so many silly ones in the world. It’s a wonder Emily hasn’t taken a job now – or perhaps she has. I know she used to get very fed-up with the house when she was here and I would have thought she would jump at the chance offered by war to get out to work.
No, Will has not left yet. He is still half-expecting to go but there’s nothing definite yet.
Now that finishes your queries, I think. Mother came over at about 1.30 today and stayed till about 4. She was much concerned over the lack of warmth in the hospital. Each bed had only one blanket and all the patients looked absolutely frozen, she said. She was telling me that Margaret has “discovered” Jean Lambert again and she and Ernest were staying with him last weekend. He is, of course, separated from his wife, and has a super furnished flat in Prestatyn at 5gns a week! There was lashings of rationed and unobtainable food on the table and Jean remarked that butter was quite easily got at 5/- a pound – and the same went for all other food! Point one, where does he get the dough, and point two, why the devil isn’t he called up? These people make me jumping mad. When I think of you being away and me having to worry about things like kids’ shoes and the price of medicine, and then I hear about people like Jean, I just get livid.
Another item of news from there is that there is a chance of Ernest being recalled to the R.A.F. Six of his pals, in exactly the same position, have had their papers.
I had a bit of shopping luck today – got the very last pound of big juicy raisins from Kings! Did I grab and what dirty looks I received! This has put me in a good humour for the whole day for it makes all the difference to my pudding and cake problems. Now I have raisins, plenty of sultanas and about half a pound of precious currants. I am making my own candied peel from a recipe originating from Mrs Hodge. The peel is in soak now in salt and water and tomorrow there are various other stages of draining and cooking and “candying” to be gone through, and there you are. I think I’ll get the puddings done tomorrow. I’m making half the amount I usually do – that should give me two medium-sized puddings. I won’t do the cake till later as I don’t know how it will keep with this flour. If only I knew you were going to be home I could work up some real enthusiasm for these preparations. Like last year I’m hoping to get pork – I’m not messing around with turkeys or fowl at the price they are.
The children have been to John Winter’s birthday party today and seem very intrigued by the gramophone there, which they insist on calling “the record”. John, who has improved a lot lately, is starting school on Monday, to his mother’s huge delight.
Well, lamb, that exhausts today’s news. That sparrow, by the way, did pass out and Tiger put his whole tail right in the fire and singed all the fur underneath which I thought served him right. Talking of cats, the kids were crawling underneath Johnson’s counter today after a manx kitten – this is the third generation now.
Sunday tomorrow and the chance of an extra hour in bed. This business of Wendy not being due till 9.30 makes all the difference to the weekdays, but it’s still pleasant not to have to rush on Sunday morning.

Sunday evening
I’ve had quite a useful day today. I felt really energetic this morning and the work seemed much less of an effort than it usually does. At last I got down to polishing the hall – the first time since you washed the muck off it! The children became infected by all this energy and they had a great time upstairs. There was much brandishing of brushes but where the dust was swept to I haven’t yet discovered. Anyway, it kept them quiet for the morning and Wendy discovered several hairclips during the operation.
This afternoon I got the puddings made and they are boiling while I’m writing this. With the fruit being short I’ve made half my usual quantity, one good-sized pudding and one smaller one. If you are not home for Xmas the second one will be kept for your first leave, unless you would like me to send it to you? Anyway, that is one of the points that can’t be settled just yet. The home-made candied peel was a great success and much nicer than the shop peel. I put some sherry in instead of rum. I believe it is almost impossible to get in small quantities. No doubt Dave could have got me some, but I don’t like asking when I know he wouldn’t let me pay him for it. The sherry seems to have given it the correct smell anyway. I won’t do any cakes and/or bunloaves until about a week before Xmas as I don’t trust this flour. By that time I might have touched for more fruit. Oh, for a bit of ground almonds! It’s something to have got the pudding off my mind. Just getting the ingredients was such a gamble this year.
This week I must try and get some black material and get that golliwog made. I believe Mrs Hodge has a really super one – home-made – for which she paid 12/6. The shops are full of home-made dolls and toys this year. I’ve seen several tanks very similar to the one you made. Incidentally, one of those electric shops in South Road still has some soldiers – very reasonable too for these days. I’d like to get some for the fort if I can persuade Michael to stay behind one of these days. I’ve got a vague idea for something I can do for Wendy inspired by sets I’ve seen in the shops – two sets of small cards one with capital and the other with small letters. We have some plain white cards in the house, which, cut in two, would be ideal. I could do the letters fairly big and clear and fill them in with Indian ink and she could build up words with them. If there are enough cards it would be better to have a double set of the small letters, wouldn’t it? I really must get on with things this week as I don’t want that last minute rush we always seem to have which means sitting up late for nights before Xmas.
Your mother was over this afternoon with some pills, which she insisted were my prescription. Of course they weren’t and of course I wouldn’t buy them off her. If people go on falling for these things she’ll never learn and, as you know, I’ve spent too much on this stuff already. There were enough of these pills to last for weeks and they were 4/- so you can see they can’t be the same. The new woman has arrived and as she is new she can only be described with eyes raised to heaven and bated breath – “her clothes! her furniture! her linen!” etc. No doubt she will soon fall from grace.
Well, sweet, that’s all the news for today. I’m feeling fine so don’t worry about me any more. There’s nothing wrong with me except wanting and missing you and that, I’m afraid, is a permanent state which only you can cure. Oh, darling, I do keep on loving you more and more and wanting you near me is just one long ache.
Now I must do some ironing. Goodnight, beloved. I adore you.
All my love, precious,

Dec 211942

My Darling,
I thought these slippers would make things a bit more homelike for you now that you have a civilised roof over your head for the next couple of months at least. Think of me when you put them on, and some day they might live in your own fireplace.
I don’t need to tell you how much we will be missing you on Xmas morning – always providing some last minute stroke of luck hasn’t landed you home! I’ll be thinking of you when the children open their stockings particularly – that was the high spot of Xmas day for us. Do you remember how our bedroom was always littered with brown paper and labels for days afterwards? And I’ll be missing you when I’m cooking the dinner and remembering how you used to wander in from the local with an odd pal or two, full of the Xmas spirit and holding up the dinner and making yourself a general (but very beloved) nuisance.
Oh, my love, you know without me telling you, all that I’ve been thinking today, and I know how much you’ll be longing to be home. Bless you, sweet.
All our love, precious.

Feb 241943

I’ve been working really hard outside today so am feeling full of virtue and very blistery on the hands – I must be getting soft. This afternoon I dug quite a good slice of the plot, I should think about a quarter of the left-hand side. I don’t mean just the part up to the line of sprouts, but right across to Russell’s, where the peas and a path were. Where it was very overgrown I skimmed off the sod and used it to make a low wall. If someone is going to have that land we’ll need a proper line of demarcation. Then I lined it all and divided the rhubarb as you suggested and retired for a cup of tea and a sit-down.
I didn’t intend to do any more, but we had tea early, and I was at a loose end afterwards so I had another shot at the garden. I’ve got all this side tidy, which was something of a job if you remember how overgrown it was. I’ve got an absolute mountain of grass out of it. So altogether I feel I’ve broken the back of both the plot and garden today and if I go on at this rate we’ll soon have everything ship-shape. And I forgot to mention that I put some muck on the rhubarb. My precious spade has been put away as clean as it was in the shop – I don’t know how long this zeal will last!
What a nice long letter yours was today. You know sometimes I can hear your voice in every line so that I feel that I’m listening to you rather than reading a letter. Oh, my love, you’re such a nice understanding sort of person and you’ve left the “bored subject” just as I wanted you to, as a distinct possibility for the near future. And don’t worry that I’ll let this obsess me. After the first day one quickly gets over the disappointment. Not because of shallow feelings but just because it’s no use getting fussed about things that can’t at the moment be altered. For the next couple of months I’ll be using my urges, biological and sexual, in hard work on the plot. You remember what a source of interest and consolation it was to me last spring. It was the one thing that saved me from going gaga during those first awful months. So please don’t think I’m all depressed now, sweet. I’m not, and I won’t be, but heaven help you next time I’ve got your not unwilling body within my reach! Oh, darling, darling, you’re so sweet in everything you say in today’s letter, and I do love you such a lot tonight.
Thank you for your suggestions about walks. I thought of that Thornton walk but I haven’t the foggiest idea just where we got off the bus. Can you enlighten me?
I’ll try and remember to clean up your golf bag tomorrow. I doubt if there are any balls around the house now for I sent all I could find to you in Aberdeen. I’ll let you know in tomorrow’s letter whether there’s a lock on the bag.
Michael has looked much better today and has had more fresh air than he usually gets. He’s not eating much but you know how the slightest upset puts him off his food for ages.
Tragedy! The family’s one hot water bottle has sprung a leak! I’ve dug out that tin one I got and it seems quite efficient but I like something soft myself – not that you’ve noticed it!
Well, love, I think that’s all the news for today. By the way, I’ll send a letter to reach you on Sunday this week.
Goodbye, precious. I do adore you. Had a nice dream about you last night, not sexual but you were very nice to me.
All my love, dearest,

Mar 091943

Many thanks indeed for the sweet-pea seeds. I was lucky to get them for the envelope had split right across. And that reminds me – did the tea arrive safely? It was posted on Friday and it has just occurred to me that you haven’t mentioned it.
I haven’t done anything in the garden today. There doesn’t seem to have been any time. This morning I was working and also had to go to the butcher’s, and intended to put in the afternoon on the plot when it suddenly dawned on me that my library books were overdue. Then Wendy came home and said they had the afternoon off and as she doesn’t get to the park much these days that settled it. I also took Cynthia. When we were half way home they found they had left their skipping ropes at the library so we had to go all the way back! Michael sailed his boat and the weather was really lovely.
The holiday was for Pancake Tuesday, by the way. Actually we celebrated last week by mistake so I had to make pancakes again today.
Do you remember me asking you about the mysterious thing with prickles and pink buds? Well there are hedges of it in the park.
Michael’s legs are covered with spots which I’m hoping desperately are spring heat bumps and not scabies. Having kept him clean all this time I’ll be wild if he starts it now. If I’m still in doubt I might as well ask Rees about them tomorrow.
Once again I’m writing this in the tea–bed interlude, though I’m afraid most of the time went before I started your letter because I got too interested in my book. It must be time to call the children now so I’ll see you later.
Knock at the door came then. It was Mrs Allen with a message from your mother. I wrote to her last Friday in case she should make a journey in vain on Sunday, and I said I would call as usual on my way back from the doctor’s on Wednesday. The message is, not to call as she is going to a meeting in town! Sounds a bit odd to me but there you are. I asked Mrs Allen if your mother was better and she looked rather astonished and said she hadn’t been ill!
I don’t know how you can bang those machines of yours for hours on end. When I type a few hundred words I get a crick in my neck.
Well, love, I’ve been a good girl tonight. I’ve written and typed those samples of what I’m calling “garden gossip” and typed a covering letter to the Editor of ‘Home Notes’. I think I’ve achieved the right “chatty” style favoured by women’s mags at which I was aiming. I really do think there’s a market for these things somewhere because it is a new field that hasn’t been exploited yet. It’s only a question of being lucky enough to tumble on the market before I lose patience. Personally I’m more inclined to the women’s papers for these things than to the general press. Unfortunately it is hard to tell, when almost all papers are ordered and not on show, which are still going. I don’t think any of them have actually disappeared, but a lot of them have amalgamated since the war.
I’ve also typed the part of the article that didn’t carbon last night, so I’ll enclose that with this letter. Don’t you get sick of the sight of a thing when you’ve re-written it a couple of times and typed it twice? I bought a bob’s worth of typing paper today – four sheets a penny – just to show that my intentions are good!
Bed now, my sweet. I do love you and am just longing to see you again. If I touch lucky with any of these things I’m going to buy myself a really seductive nightie! That’s a promise.
All my love, darling,
P.S. Wednesday morning. Have just been “signed off” by the doctor, who thinks there is a vast improvement since he last saw me. I had a talk with him of which I shall tell you in full tonight. All I’ll say at the moment is may heaven protect you next time I get my hands – and legs – anywhere near your body! Oh my darling, tell me quickly when I can come to you or I’ll be jumping on a train and arriving unannounced one of these days!

Jan 221944

I’m afraid there’s very little news today. It has rained ceaselessly and I’ve been no further than the rabbit hutch out of doors. My time has been divided between Michael and a massive wash. As soon as anyone gets ill I always get in a panic for fear we run short of sheets and towels, and last night I bunged loads of things in soak and that’s why it rained today! Now I’m wondering how to dry everything.
Michael has been up and down all day. He was wonderfully improved this morning and had some breakfast. I made him up a bed on the settee and he was fine all morning. Then about two he suddenly flopped and got all feverish again and went sound asleep in a couple of minutes. He woke up just in time to be very thoroughly sick and then went off to sleep again. He woke up much better but by six was crying to be put to bed. Once in bed he wasn’t awake for three minutes. He seems to want to do nothing but sleep. It’s difficult to know what to do for the best. During his bad patches today I’ve been blaming myself for not getting the doctor, and yet if the doctor had come this morning I would have felt I was wasting his time.
This is the time of the day I hate when one of the children is ill. There is no one to stop the ridiculous ramblings of my mind through every possible malady. Michael has been like this so many times before and has got over it in a couple of days, and yet I can’t learn not to worry myself stiff each time. And yet I continue to want the children to have measles and whooping cough and awkward tonsils and all the rest of it all over again. There’s no sense in it, is there?
Thanks for your letter, dear. Yes, I remember Crighton very well. Funny his daughter should land there. Regarding plans for leave – well, just at the moment I feel the making of plans is tempting providence when children are as awkward as ours! But as I said last night, Michael seems to have tamed it fairly well this time and should be on his feet again before Friday. But if he’s still convalescing – and I’m almost sure it’s flu – it may dash our complete Friday arrangement. Still, there’s no point in meeting trouble halfway, and by the time I am sending off your final letter – Wednesday – I should be able to say fairly definitely whether or not I’ll be tied up on Friday. Regarding Wendy, I believe they give you about four days notice so there won’t be any sudden decision on that side. Incidentally, Rees thinks it may be quite a few weeks before I hear anything.
Yes, it would be a good idea to ask your mother on Saturday but there are two complications. One is that she has written arranging for Hennion to come for her on Saturday and take her to Wrexham for a few days. Now I’m not really clear whether she intends going to Wrexham actually on the Saturday, but she did say she would be able to see you before she went, and would be back again before you went back. Anyway, I’ll try and get that sorted out. The second complication is that Saturday is the one day that is most likely to suit the Ross family. I was going to ring them this weekend but of course have suspended all arrangements till I see how Michael turns out. So everything at the moment seems in a bit of a muddle, doesn’t it? No doubt it will sort itself out in the next few days, and there is, after all, a lot to be said for unplanned leave. All I can suggest at present is that if Hughie and family come on Saturday we’ll ask your mother to tea on Saturday – that is if she’s still at home. If she’s going Sunday morning it looks like us being landed with a nice tea party of your mother, Hennion and the Ross family – I’m not keen on that, are you? Or maybe I’m biased because I know just how many cups with handles we possess. If it turns out like that, we’d better ask your mother after she comes back from Wrexham and you can see her before she goes. Of course it is quite likely she won’t go at all. The whole arrangement seemed a bit queer to me because she said she had been relying on me to have Will and yet she had fixed the date for when you would be home! So, to be brief, I can’t make any arrangements with Madge till I know whether Michael has anything serious or contagious. I can’t make any arrangements with your mother till I know about Madge and until the Wrexham position is quite clear.
Sunday afternoon.
At that point Michael started seeing things so I went to bed with him – 9.30! Today he is on the settee again and is quite full of beans. He hasn’t lapsed back again today as he did yesterday so I really think he’s on the mend now.
Must catch the post. All my love,

May 051944

This will, I’m afraid, be but a note. First, because the day has been eventless (unless you call dropping and smashing two pounds of jam an event – I call it a major tragedy!) and, secondly, because my lack of sleep all week has caught up with me and I’ve been only just conscious all day. And now, it being 9.30, I’m scarcely conscious at all.
I’ve done scarcely anything all day except the necessary things and, as you see, I didn’t even collect the rations without dropping the one smashable article. Proper awkward – I know! I understand that a dog had a whale of a time with that jam. It has also been raining all day.
There hasn’t been a letter from you. I’m only mentioning it because you were off yesterday, weren’t you, so I’m wondering what has happened. Maybe tomorrow’s letter will explain the mystery. During these times of sudden changes I start wondering when you don’t write on an off-day. Though that’s silly really because I know you’d write if you were being moved. Darling it’s just hopeless. I’m falling asleep at every full stop. The remedy is to go to bed before I fall asleep permanently here.
You might not believe it from this scrappy note, but I do love you!
Always your own,
P.S. Saturday. Thanks for your letter love and I’m glad you kept it for Saturday – if I’d been more conscious yesterday I would have thought of that explanation. I’ll answer your letter tonight. There’s no time to start on it now. It’s after dinner on Sat. I’ve got to do some work and washing, then the shopping I couldn’t carry this morning, and then I’ll have the rest of the day on the plot. The weather has cleared again and the ground is just nicely soaked for lettuce planting.

Jun 101944

This isn’t much of a birthday present, but I just couldn’t think of anything else and I intended to send this with some filthy lucre as well. But things being somewhat tight this week, I’ll have to postpone the latter part of the arrangement until I get a spot of extra.
There isn’t a note in the cake but I hope you will like it and please note that it contains raisins, sultanas and currants! Who said there was a war on? It’s the first cake I’ve made with three varieties of fruit for about two years.
The book I had in mind was one of war cartoons by a number of people, but though I saw it advertised I couldn’t track it down. But I thought this one, though it is rather out of date at present, would be amusing to look over in the dim and blissful future when our two silver heads (providing you don’t go bald!) can nod together by the fire over memories of that long-ago business, the war of 1939–194? By then we shall probably find little things in it that we have completely forgotten and it illustrates an aspect of the war with which you were most familiar.
So happy returns, my love, and please come home for your next birthday.
Always your own,

Jul 121944

I’m afraid that, through swapping over from afternoon to evening letters you’ll be a day without a letter. I’m sorry, but this afternoon was the first fine afternoon since last Saturday so I dived out to the plot, and it’s just as well I did, for rain started at 6.30 and has continued ever since.
Now where are we – when I went out to post your letter y’day a peculiar thing happened. A few days ago Mrs Bradley said (to my great astonishment!) that she would give me an egg for the children. Yesterday she called me and told me to give her a knock on the way back. I did so and was asked in and plied with tea and cake, was called ‘love’ and generally made a fuss of. Eventually she gave me six eggs and most firmly refused any payment! Still can’t get over it. As you know, apart from an occasional plot talk, we’ve never been particularly friendly and I’ve always considered her ‘close’. So – though this sounds very uncharitable – I’m wondering what’s at the bottom of all this!
Last night I got the scissors into the green stuff and have now got the frock finished, apart from turning up the hem and it promises to be very nice.
This afternoon and evening – until the rain – I worked hard at getting more of the greens in, and they are now being well and truly watered in. I kept the kids busy on weeding, for, with all this rain, one could easily spend three hours a day doing nothing but weeding. The tommies are making progress now and keeping me busy nipping out the side-shoots.
I’m beginning to have hopes about Michael. No sign yet! In fact he has been in very good spirits all day and has eaten very well indeed. Another 24 hours and we’ll be all right, though actually he is liable – though this is unlikely – to contract it any time during the next three weeks, for the simple reason that he may have got the germ any time during the last three weeks. But they were both in the same bath water the night Wendy started so I think if he didn’t touch for it then, he wouldn’t do so later on. It’s terribly nerve-racking, hoping and not daring to hope all at the same time. I haven’t had the faintest hope until today but there’s not the faintest sign of ‘sickening’ yet, and being Michael, his appetite today made me feel very hopeful.
I think that’s about all the news since y’day except that I’ve had that same article back again but H.L.B. is still out – getting on for a month now.
Here’s a bit of gossip for you – local legend has it that Mary Jones is pregnant again. And, while we’re on the subject, you may as well know that she now prefers to be called Mrs. Hasprey.
Mrs. Gardener is at an American camp for some sort of cause and is sending home rapturous accounts of the food – six-course breakfasts including two eggs!
And talking of food I think I’ll make me a round of toast before I start answering your letter, for my tea has worn off…
I shall not deign to reply to the first part of your letter as I am now above suspicion, being in the fourth day of vapours!
I don’t think the garden is looking ‘respectable’ at all, despite all that work on it, but it is better than it was and it’s something to have got the grass out. But I know my limitations and I just can’t do all that needs doing on the plot and garden, and the plot always comes first with me.
Regarding b’currants, I think you would need really big bushes and a lot of them to get really good pickings. These are as full of fruit as they can be for their size and remember it is the first year we’ve had any fruit from them at all. The rasps are doing well now but aren’t at the height of the season yet. We get about half a small basinful every couple of days.
I hesitated for a long time about sending Jack’s letter on to you, but eventually decided it would be better in the long run for you to know just how they felt about your going back there. There might have been a chance of you landing back in London before they had written to you and I thought if you knew how things stood, it might prevent a rather awkward situation.
I like your threat about a letter that will keep one jumping in and out of bed! But for heaven’s sake don’t send it until leave is in the very near future – I could stand it then! If Jackie?? makes a mess of this leave I’ll come to London to tell him what he is – flying bombs or not!
That last sentence has reminded me that a bloke came last night to see if we wanted to get rid of the shelter. It was a big temptation but I told him I didn’t think it fair for me to make a decision that would affect two kids. Anyway Wendy would go crackers if this shelter went out. She came out on the landing in quite a sweat saying “you didn’t let him take it, did you?” They are taking them to London.
That seems about all for tonight, love. I keep hoping each of your letters will bring some news of leave. But even if you do have news of Dover leave there’s still the chance you may be sent back to London before it comes off, isn’t there?
So I won’t be sure of you till I have you just where I want you – and you ought to know by now where that is! Night, my sweet. I love you.
Always your own,
P.S. Thursday morning M. still O.K.

Jul 261944

Just another brief note as, according to your letter this morning, I shall be seeing you so soon. I’m so glad, love – I was trying not to bank on it, but of course one does!
The weather is undecided but I think it will brighten up so I’m in rather a rush as we’ll have to have dinner early if we are to get to Sefton Park by 3.
Yes, I know the evacuee is likely to complicate life on some counts, but there’s still no sign so I’m hoping it won’t turn up till after the weekend now. If it does arrive you can rely on me to make some arrangement.
I think we’d better make a definite arrangement that we meet you at Lime Street whatever the weather.
Must rush off now, love. Look after yourself till Saturday.
All my love, sweet,

Aug 021944

I can never write properly to you in other people’s houses so this is just a note until tonight. I didn’t intend to stay the night here but I did manage to get a seat for the show this afternoon, so this seemed the easiest arrangement. I sent a phone message through last night to Crosby with instructions to Mrs Gardner about the cat and milk etc. I’ll get back as early as possible this evening. These days of sudden drafts it always makes me anxious when I’m away from the home letterbox.
We went out for a drink last night and I actually had a Guinness, but as it was so long since I’d had one, could only manage one. I’m right out of practice.
Chris has just this moment been on the phone to the hospital and they’ve told her to take Jen down right away so she’s very worried. Christian didn’t want his morning feed so will wake up famished in about an hour. Harold is trying to persuade Jen to go with him and she’s telling him where he gets off. So everyone is trying to sort it out.
Jen eventually agreed to go to the hospital with Harold providing Wendy went too and at that, of course, Michael decided he wanted to go, so I thought I’d better go to give a hand! Very complicated but there you are. The X-ray showed a fracture but it is in a good position and they are to see the specialist tomorrow. It cannot be serious because she is dashing around full of beans and it isn’t causing any pain now.
They didn’t keep us long and I was back in time to have lunch and go to the Royal Court. I enjoyed it [‘There Shall Be No Night’] immensely – those two are quite unique and her voice is fascinating. There is a perpetual bubble of laughter behind her words. The play, like so many plays and books today, sets out to portray the gradual change of feeling in a group of people during the course of the war. Actually the theme was very similar to the first play I saw, though the setting and characters were so different. I’ll try to remember to enclose the programme.
On the way home this evening we looked in at Mrs Garner’s for a while. She was asking about you. She has put on a few stone since I last saw her and is getting really tremendous.
Mother was at the Labour Exchange today and they told her she was definitely next on the list for the Prisoner of War office in Church Road (the Bluecoat School). That is what she has wanted all along as it is so convenient for home, so she is very bucked about it. Unless they send for her in the meantime she is coming here for the Bank Holiday weekend.
The ‘Housewife’ had been returned from Reading so I’ve purloined it until my own turns up. They’ve given me a good position in the paper – the first article following two ‘names’ – L.A. [????] Strong and Tom Driberg. It’s illustrated with a title, sketch and a photograph and it hasn’t been cut or subbed at all, so I’m quite pleased about it. I’m hoping it will be a fiver. I told mother she had, unconsciously, given me the idea for it, and gave her two bob, though we had to have a fight before she would accept it.
Thursday morning.
Many thanks for a nice long letter, love. Being away from home has bridged the gap between your going and the arrival of the first letter. I won’t attempt to answer it now, as we got up late (the clock has stopped so I don’t know how late!) I am worried about the chain and disc. It is not on the window-sill and, quite honestly, I can’t remember seeing it this leave. My first thought was that you had left it in the bath, but Michael says he thinks he remembers you putting it on again. Can you definitely remember the last time you had it? I’ve looked in all the obvious places but will have a search behind the bath in case it slipped off the sill.
Who do you think has a daughter? And we didn’t even know he was married – Ossie! We got a card today announcing the birth (Aug 1st) of Penelope Joy. I’ll send it to you when the kids have stopped admiring it, and I’ll drop a line of congratulations. Another thing that came this morning was the cheque from Jane – I’ll write to them tonight.
There’s been six knocks on the door since I started this so it’s pretty hopeless. I must find out the time.
All my love, darling,
P.S. Going to ‘Snow White’ this afternoon.

Aug 031944

We saw ‘Snow White’ this afternoon and the children love it, and, having been warned of the horrific parts, were not so alarmed as I expected. The other film – a long one (over which Mrs. Reid was commenting the other day) could not have been better chosen and you will be delighted that the children have seen it – but I’m poaching on their preserves so I’ll leave it at that. They will probably be writing tomorrow. Took Roy with us and Mrs Hawley was delighted because she had been wondering how she could take him without the baby. He seemed to be the only kid in the road who hadn’t seen it. I went to the library in the same journey and incidentally I saw a book that would be interesting in conjunction with a trip to Hampton Court – ‘Ladies of Hampton Court’. It was, however, a very large and solid volume (the ladies seem to have been legion) so I didn’t get it as I seem to find very little time for reading nowadays.
We picked a bumper crop of raspberries for tea (yes, I know I said I’d bottle the next picking!) and made pigs of ourselves. After tea, which was rather late, I did some hoe-ing and tomato-feeding on the plot. Then it was 8.30 very suddenly and I put the children to bed. I’ve done no housework today so tomorrow I must get stuck into it and then there’ll be a lot of shopping too. I took the first lot of beans today. They are the best I’ve grown, for until this year I’ve never been very successful with them and I think the seeds have been at fault for these have had the same treatment. If you remember I complained last year and the year before that the Woolworth seeds were full of holes.
Thanks for all the news from office and club, love, and I’ll look forward to hearing about your trip to the House. I bet that incident at Rugby shook you! Re Xmas I believe Nelson has opened his club so I’ll start dropping a bob or two there whenever I’m passing. It’s a pity he doesn’t go in for decent books too, but I’ll ask Doves [??] if they run a club. But before Xmas there’s Michael’s birthday to think about. The one thing he’s nattering about now is a crane. I know the sets you mean – your mother gave Wendy one from which she made the little dog. But personally I think they are dear because you are “done” by the picture on the box. There is only material for making one toy and two more small items and the profit on these sets must be terrific. Beware of all handiwork or sewing outfits. I have seen things for 7/11 which if you added up the present value of each bit of cotton etc. would come to a bob. What exactly was the “kitchen set”? Yes, I think Michael would like a tool set but I haven’t seen any for a long time.
The Oliver family had a lucky miss, didn’t they! Which only goes to prove the strength of any argument against sleeping in parks!
I still haven’t found your identity disc, but I’ll go on looking and I will let you know if it turns up before I send this letter. Are you sure it’s not in any of your pockets? Let me know exactly where you last remember having it. Where did you put it when you first changed into civvies? I don’t remember seeing it about the bedroom at all.
That seems to be all for tonight, love. As you say, I’m not suffering from night starvation now! Many thanks, darling. Those short hours, lovely as they are, do whet our appetite for something less compressed. Well, it shouldn’t be long now and maybe we’ll be in Wales together after all, which will be the first time since our honeymoon, won’t it? You can take me up into them thar hills!
I’m itching to get at the typewriter again. I’ll try to get a couple of things away before the holiday though I don’t suppose I’ll be able to settle down to it properly until after we come back. But I’m looking forward to this winter, with the children asleep at a decent hour, and the evenings longer and less likely to be interrupted.
Now I must mend some pants for Michael and if there’s still time will start a letter to Jane.
Night, my sweet. I love you so much.
All my love, angel,

Friday. Just read your letter and so am all sick in my heart at the moment. My thoughts are all confused at present but I do hope you get leave first. In case you don’t, take care of yourself darling and remember I shall be with you every moment. I shall be watching for a wire all day. No good debating all the possibilities now. Look after yourself, sweet.

Sep 121944

I’m writing your letter in bed tonight because it is already after nine and I’ve been on my feet all day. I’m not more than usually tired but it’s nice to be writing to you in bed, all comfy, with nothing else to do except shut my eyes! And if I do this now and again for heaven’s sake don’t get into your head that I’ve come to bed early because I’m ill or anything! If your letter is being written late evening it’s quite likely I’ll make a habit of this, for it’s a certain way of avoiding the evening attack of sickness. Looking after myself, that’s all!
The party went off well and as usual I found it far less exhausting than Wendy’s. Officially it was for males only, but, for various reasons, I included Cynthia, Valerie, and Isobel. I left these invitations fairly late to avoid other complications. The few boys seemed such a handful, not a proper party at all. Cynthia would have been coming to call for Wendy for Brownies at six in any case. Although Mrs G quite agrees with my idea of simplifying things by keeping Michael’s party to boys, she always gives him a present, and I always wish she wouldn’t because it makes me feel sore about not asking Val. Also it’s a bit awkward borrowing chairs from there when I haven’t asked Valerie! So, there being good reasons for including these two, I asked Isobel so that Valerie might not be left high and dry when the other two girls went at six. No doubt there is some bad feeling in the Perry and Threlful camps but I just couldn’t have coped with that rabble today. Another factor that made me include the girls was the certainty of Wendy not having even an apology for a party next April! So there were ten children altogether including our own, and this I found a nice manageable number – the Winters, Roy and Brian, Stanley, Johnnie, Cynthia and Valerie. It was Brian’s very first party – he’s two – and he was a scream. He doesn’t talk at all yet but he sat with a real sweet smile steadily pushing stuff back, and behaved perfectly. When Mrs Hawley came to take him home he pushed her firmly away and she had to leave him until the others went. As usual Stanley got right under my skin. In fact he was downright cheeky and I sat on him good and proper. But apart from that everything went off well. Your mother was here to see the start of the tea and was highly delighted when I lit the candles and cut the cake earlier than usual so that she could take a slice home with her. That reminds me – I saw Mrs Allen this morning and she did not receive your letter, so where it went is a mystery! Your mother got your letter this morning.
I enclosed two blades in the letter I posted today, and I’ll get your badges in town tomorrow so if they’re not enclosed in this letter it will mean they were out of stock.
I seem to have answered last night’s second letter except to say I’m looking forward to seeing the buttons and ribbons. The ribbons will be handy for baby clothes! Now I’ll go on to your Welsh letter, which had done some wandering. Although that was the address I was given several letters were sent to Caernarvon first and the secret seems to be to write “near Mold”. I must say you’re terribly helpful on the subject of names!! You were very firm about one of your children having Arthur among its names but now you condemn it as some outlandish notion of mine! Why, oh why? Some time, please, love, make me out a short list of names you like. This is a thing we’ve got to decide between us before all the relations start having a shot! You didn’t say what you thought of Katherine. I would have this spelt KATHREN, not to be snooty but to avoid Kath-er-een which I loathe.
There’s no point in pursuing the apple subject any further. The best aspect of it is that it’s made a definite break with Peter. He must have got wind of the affair for he hasn’t been near here since. Don’t worry about Michael, I’ve got him well in hand. He’s really very good especially when I remember what a difficult child he promised to be. You always have these problems when a small boy gets in older and bad company. It was no use my telling Michael that Peter was not his devoted friend. He had to be shown and this business brought things to a head and finished an alliance that caused me endless worry.
Well, love, my eyes are closing so I’ll leave your second letter till tomorrow. I’m feeling the benefit of these early nights and I’m sleeping splendidly. Eight years ago today we said our first goodnight in bed. If someone could have told us then that on our eighth anniversary you would be serving in France and I would be expecting my third child, how black the future would have seemed. And yet it hasn’t been, has it? And even out of separation we have gained a great deal. And I know we have good years ahead. Despite your doubts I look forward to the post-war years with keen interest because, whatever else happens, it won’t be a time of stagnation.
Goodnight, dear love. Maybe next year I won’t be in a lonely bed. My sweet, I love you so much.
Always your own,

Dear Daddy,
Thak you for the birthday card. I will braw a picture of my cran. There was a very cross pig at the farm called Johnny. We watched the farmer milking the cows.
Love from Michael

Sep 141944

I was going to skip your letter tonight and get some arrears made up to other people, as there is not much news and I have been two days without a letter from you. But the parcels containing your gear arrived today and I thought you’d be getting anxious about them and would like to know they were safe at the first possible moment.
Wendy spent the entire evening on the enclosed masterpiece! It’s by far the longest letter she’s written, isn’t it? The cryptic sentence near the end means that they have, at school, a window-sill full of autumn fruits – I think you’ll be able to make out the rest of it. I did intend going to the first house pictures tonight to see ‘Fanny By Gaslight’ but Michael is a bit off-colour so I decided to stay at home. It was pouring with rain in any case. I don’t think he’s “getting” anything – it looks like a chill to me, cold in the head with a bit of temperature and headache, but nothing to worry about. He’ll probably sleep it off, as he has done before. He slept soundly in the chair while Wendy was doing the letter.
We received a very welcome present today of some chocolate and biscuits. The children were delighted and so was I for I’ve been wishing I had a bit of chocolate to keep in my pocket for my journeys to South Road. I always get home quite faint and weak with hunger and a bit of chocolate en route will make a world of difference.
I picked all the really full-grown tomatoes today and brought them in to ripen. I thought this would give the rest a better chance to fill up as there is very little growing time left now before the frosts start. The ones I have picked amount to about seven pounds and are very good and solid, though I doubt whether we will average as much weight per plant as last year. No-one seems satisfied with their tomatoes, indoor or outdoors, this year.
I had a word with Mrs Griling [??] about the wool position some days ago. The real baby wool is reserved strictly for baby-coupons, born or expected, as it should be. The trouble is that you don’t get these coupons till quite well on – the Board of Trade don’t want to give coupons to possible “misses” obviously. But I knew Mrs Griling would take my word for it. The baby wool issue came in today so she let me have some on our ordinary coupons – the first thing I’ve bought for this baby! I’ll get everything I need there for she is very good at keeping the scarce things for anyone expecting a baby and it will pay me to give her all the business I can.
Michael has just woken up protesting hunger and is now quietly singing, so there’s not much wrong with him now! An aspirin and a sleep always works wonders with Michael.
Well, sweet, that’s all the news today, so I’ll get to bed before I start to feel sick. I’ll let you know whether I get a letter from you in the morning. Night, my boy. I love you.
Always your own,

Dear Daddy,
the first thing we saw was two pigs. Miss Jones had six cats. a black mother cat with two kittens the same as her. and there was a ginger cat who was 15 and his name is Tiger and has two little ginger kittens too and they were all born on the same week. the tiger family were very wild and they would not let you stroke them. and the black mother cat was going to have more kittens. and the black mother cat used to spit at her kittens whenever they came near her. She had her kittens in the hen house and they had five cats in the farm and the father cat looks after the three kittens more than the mother cat. we have window sil full of orum fruts. and you owe me two letters now
Love from wendy

Sep 181944

I hoped to get all sorts of things fixed up today but, apart from the Food Office business, I haven’t got much further. I woke up early and feeling fine and we had breakfast nearly finished by eight. This gave me a good chance to get out early to the doctor’s. And then that damned migraine started – it must be best part of a year since I had it before. I was inclined to call the programme off then but I thought it would be a good chance to pick up something for this and any future attacks. I got to the surgery soon after nine and discovered Rees had returned from holiday but was off ill. (As Nowak?? is doctoring him his illness has not, naturally, been diagnosed yet!) For the sake of the certificate for the Food Office I waited and saw Nowak??. By this time the migraine was raging away and Nowak?? looked quite alarmed until I explained that this wasn’t my normal appearance during pregnancy. He gave me some tablets and also the certificate. As he doesn’t know what’s the matter with Rees, he couldn’t say when he’ll be back, so the position is that I’ll see Rees as soon as he’s there again, but if he’s not back in another few weeks I’ll have to be examined by Nowak??
I went into your mother’s but, though the house was open, she and the dog were missing. I took two tablets and sat down for ten minutes, then got the L3 to the Food Office. The tablets did numb my head within half an hour but nothing seems to cure the awful aftermath feeling, which has lingered all day. I won’t be really over that till I’ve had a night’s sleep. At the F.O. I was, to my surprise, given 60 coupons right away – things have speeded up evidently. Tomorrow I’ll get the ration book by post and all the extras start immediately as far as I can make out. What a start – 60 coupons and there’s only my word for it that I’m pregnant for no one’s examined me yet! It just shows what could be done by bluff. I was longing to get home but I thought I’d better go to the W.V.S. which I was passing. There I learned there is no home help organisation for Crosby. They took my address in case they heard of anyone and were as helpful as they could be. They seemed quite concerned about the difficulties of a wartime confinement – nursing homes too expensive, hospitals banned except for special cases, and the difficulty of getting domestic help for a home confinement. They advised asking nurse Wild at the clinic. Another thing I learned was that Gambier Terrace don’t send to Crosby now. I’m not surprised for they are terribly short staffed. All this was not so ‘ot and got me down a bit. I was almost in the mood to walk into Park House and chance picking up twelve quid somewhere but I know I’d just worry myself ill about it. I was annoyed that I hadn’t had the chance to talk the whole matter over with Rees. Also I didn’t want to book a nurse without consulting him but now I can’t leave it any longer. This afternoon I rang up the nurse’s home and discovered that nurse Scott married last April. Then I rang nurse Halsey and there was no reply but I pressed B and got threepence back so I made a penny profit! I’ll have another shot tomorrow and I think she’s almost certain to know of some home-help women. After all there must be hundreds of people in my position and someone must look after them and a maternity nurse is the one to know. She is, by the way, a Lancashire county midwife.
It is foolish these days to expect to have every detail fixed up in a few hours, but I’m a devil for wanting everything cut, dried, and settled. I reviewed the entire home or away subject again today but couldn’t find any new angles on it. I do miss you for discussing all these points.
Sorry, but at that I fell asleep in the chair! Today I feel better than I’ve felt for weeks. It’s almost as if the migraine throws out all the poisons or summat, for I always feel splendid the day after, but whether it’s worth the price is a debateable point!
Letters from you have been very erratic lately. Y’day I had a letter eight days old. Today I have the ‘farm’?? one telling me you have moved. Last week was a bad one for letters with three blank days. But I suppose the change explains all this and letters will settle down now. Have you had letters containing blades and badges yet? The ‘small parcel’ you mentioned hasn’t arrived yet.
Having been done out of the pictures last week I’m determined to see ‘This Happy Breed’ this week. I might go this evening with Michael, for the first house time coincides with the period Wendy is at Brownies.
The holiday seems so long ago that it’s queer to be receiving and answering letters about it now. No, we didn’t bring any blackberries back. My plan was to give the whole of Friday to that but Friday was the wettest day we had and apart from going to the farm to pay the bill we just loafed about. I’m glad your tummy trouble cleared up so quickly. That reminds me – Mr. Gardner is in hospital with appendix trouble and they’re just making up their minds whether or not to take it out. Apparently he had it before in peacetime.
I’ve meant to tell you before that the rouge I got here proved quite useless. It might show up on an albino but it’s no good on my yellow countenance! So if you see any, snaffle it please!
There is not much to answer in today’s letter but no compez-vous-ing with these dames, my lad! You say to them – “Ma chere femme – elle est enceinte!” That’ll scare them off! It’s a lovely word that. When you read these fascinating novels about the French court they say – “It was whispered that the Duchess of Orleans was enceinte by him”. Now that sounds most intriguing but if they had said – “The Duchess was in the family way” the affair becomes very tawdry, quite common in fact! So lay off those French mamselles and remember your poor enceinte femme and heaven help you if you come home with any positions a la Normandie.
I must wash dishes etc. and go to the nursery where they are digging up my spring cabbage plants today.
Bye, sweetheart, and take care of yourself.
All my love,

Sep 201944

My Darling,
I’m in a humble counting-my-blessings sort of mood tonight. Mrs Perry always has that effect on me and she’s just been pouring out her troubles for a solid hour and telling me how, every time she speaks to you, she could cry with envy because “anyone can see you think the world of me!” That woman’s just at the end of her tether. Dave has succeeded in convincing her that she’s utterly brainless, downright common, the worst possible mother, housekeeper, wife etc. She’s also convinced that Dave will walk out on them one of these days for he’s apparently always threatening it. Have you ever seen Dave in his ‘home’ mood? I saw it for a couple of minutes tonight when he spoke to Betty and there was hatred in that kid’s face. Peter is just cowed but Betty has developed into solid hatred of him. What I can’t understand is how they ever came to marry. They loathe each other. I never really believed it was as bad as that till tonight.
Well, I suppose it is no business of ours, but it does make me realise, very very deeply, how lucky I am and how lucky our kids are. Thanks, precious, for everything you have been and are, and will be, to me. Oh, love, there’s such a lot of things inside me tonight that just can’t be put into words. But I do love you terribly.
The reason why I was at Perry’s tonight is that Mrs Perry offered to come with me to fix up with Nurse Halsey. Dave ran us down there. She’s a very nice woman and I’m sure you’d like her – a rare mixture of efficiency and ‘human-ness’ – none of that awful nurse-starchiness. She seems to have had some experience with Rees and told me about a compliment he once paid her. I’m glad of that for if the doctor and nurse are at loggerheads it can’t be too pleasant for the patient. I didn’t go into a lot of details this evening for Dave was waiting with the car, but one good point is that the ‘county’ include a useful parcel these days, containing all those little items (sanitary towels etc) that run up the bills. Next time I see her I’ll get a proper list of this stuff and see what remains for me to get. Mrs Perry says a dozen baby napkins are included. As these are about 1/3 each I hope she’s right. The all-over charge is, I think, £2-2. One could finish there for there’s no actual need of a doctor with one of these state midwives and Mrs Perry thinks I’m very odd insisting on a doctor as well. I don’t know how you feel about it but I think you’ll agree with me that no child of ours is coming into the world without Rees to yank it out. My confused memories of two confinements have one clear point in them – the moment when Rees walked in. From then onwards I ceased to be bewildered and scared stiff. I do hope he gets better soon. According to your mother today he’s still ill and Nowak still doesn’t know what’s the matter with him. I have no desire whatsoever to have a pregnancy conducted by Nowak – the baby would be cross-eyed and bandy!
Before I leave this subject I got my green ration book today and immediately commandeered an extra pint of milk. I told Mrs Allen at the dairy that she’d put the hoodoo on me and she’s tickled to death. It’s highly blush-making this business of going round to tell the tradespeople one is “expecting a little stranger”. I’ll have to arrange to be served by Hilda this week but there’s no alternative at the butcher’s! In case you don’t know the details, I’m now entitled to: a pint of milk at twopence plus the normal adult allowance, an extra half-ration of meat, oranges when available, orange juice, cod-liver oil tablets, and one extra egg (it used to be two!) Personally I think an extra butter ration wouldn’t come amiss.
The damsons arrived today so I went to your mother’s this afternoon to collect my share.
There’s some involved scheme afoot concerning some man in Wrexham whom your mother has never seen. It seems Geo has undertaken to arrange a meeting and your mother is going there this weekend. I can’t make head nor tail of it. She tried to foist her girl lodger here for the weekend but I contrived to avoid it. I don’t see why I should go changing sheets etc for someone I’ve never seen.
I nearly forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed ‘This Happy Breed’ – a really human picture, splendidly produced. It starts 1918 and finishes 1939 so all the milestones in it were things I could remember – the strike, the King’s death, the abdication, Munich. I’d like to see Coward’s portrayal of this war. It intrigues me how he can be so blasé and sophisticated and yet so expert at these little human touches such as the buttering of the cat’s paws after a removal. Michael seemed to follow it quite intelligently and it led to long explanations of the strike and the abdication, while Munich was pin-pointed by the all-important fact that Michael was born then! Do you remember going for the gas masks the day after I came home? I felt terribly guilty at bringing a baby home to such a world, especially when he used to go stiff and blue whenever the siren practised. I was thinking of this as we came out and then, like a symbol of hope, Michael said, “Oh aren’t they lovely!” and we stepped out into the lighted dark and my Munich baby saw the streetlights for the first time. I’m not ashamed to admit that a large lump came into my throat at that moment.
No letter again this morning. I’ve only had one – the one written on the NAAFI form – all this week. So I’m feeling rather unsettled about you and wouldn’t be a bit surprised to know you were back in England. In fact I’ve got to the stage where I sit up and listen every time there are footsteps in the road at night!
It’s my eating out day and I’ve just arrived home from the B.R. where I filled up the bottomless pit with steak pudding and apple pie. The meals have improved a lot since they started putting on a shilling dinner. I hope the story that they’re all being closed down isn’t true for I’ll need the B.R. this winter. A make-do dinner is no good to me now and if we all feed out just once a week it’s a big help with the rations. I never remember being so fiendishly engrossed with food. I just live from meal to meal and if I read about a nice substantial meal in a book I just writhe in agony!
Bye now, sweetheart. I do hope there’s a letter, or letters, tomorrow.
All my love, darling,

Hope you and the children will like these. Let me know when they arrive and in what condition.
Love, Arthur X

Sep 251944

Your yard of navy material is now a kilt for Wendy. I’ve been at it all evening and it’s now almost finished. I should say skirt, not kilt, for after looking at the utility kilts with their few skimped pleats at each side I decided to make a skirt and found a nice little pattern with shaped sides and a good box pleat back and front.
This has been a real gala day for I received another letter by the afternoon post – a real surprise this, for never before have they arrived in the afternoon from France. So I now have two letters to answer, which is a very pleasant change after the last couple of weeks! Getting these letters has made a big difference and I feel much more settled about you now. Just to get things straight – these letters are dated 19th and 21st.
I’m glad to know that the letter intended for the 12th did arrive then. I had a letter from you that was dated the 12th but you must have got the post after writing it. But from that I came to the conclusion that my letter hadn’t arrived in time and I was annoyed about it.
By now you’ll know that I haven’t succeeded in seeing Rees yet. If I have to see Novak again I’ll ask him if he thinks I should have a course of injections and explain my anaemia history to him. In the meanwhile I’m taking ??fessolates?? on my own authority. My own opinion is that I should have six injections spread out between now and April and another six in the first few months after. That would make up the balance all right. The evening sickness seems to have stopped now so I think the “sick-time” must be over now. And I haven’t been actually sick once! Aren’t I clever? The only thing wrong with me now is that I’m inclined to get tired from eight o’clock onwards, but this is due to the fact that I’ve taken to waking up at 6.30 prompt in the mornings. On the other hand I fall asleep as soon as I get into bed so am not going short of sleep through early wakings. So altogether I’m doing quite well. I’ve always said the middle months of pregnancy were the most comfortable – after the sickness has gone and before the final heaviness starts. It was funny this evening. Wendy – to whom it must be positive agony – has kept the secret splendidly, but Michael has complete lapses of memory. Valerie started to play with those round blocks. “Leave those alone,” says Michael. “We’re saving them for the baby.” Wendy gives him a violent nudge and then smiles ingratiatingly at Valerie. “He means,” she says, “we’re saving them in case we ever get a baby, but, of course, we don’t think we ever will!”
Another incident that amused me was when I found Michael, with wrinkled brow, staring at the surplus egg. “We’ve all had an egg,” he said “so how is there one left?” I told him it was the baby’s egg. “Gosh,” he said, “won’t it be a bit stale by next April?” Chris, by the way, nearly died last Saturday, when Wendy got all confidential with her. “The doctor says April 16th and the nurse says April 15th but Mummy always has babies three weeks late so they’re both wrong.”
It just happens that your mother has only been here when other children are about so nothing has been said yet, but I’m afraid she’s in for a few shocks!
I’m afraid I’ve wandered from your letter but I like to report these things as they crop up. I find the children’s various reactions to this business very interesting, though I fear “disgusting” would be the word in quite a lot of opinions.
I’m glad to hear you seem to be the star turn at French! That’s very good, love, and I’m glad about it because, as has already been proved, it makes contact with the people and their homes so much easier. I was interested to hear about the people with whom you have called on. What are their reactions to all this terrible destruction? Did they really cheer when the R.A.F. kept coming over to blast them to hell? I’ve often wondered what my own reactions would be in those circumstances, but it’s the sort of thing one would have to experience.
As you intended, I am most intrigued about this parcel! I’m also anxious and won’t stop worrying until it has arrived safely because the ‘small parcel’ never arrived and I’ve given up all hope of it now. You’ve made me really curious but I just can’t guess.
Going on to your second letter, I’m surprised that you’re surprised at me having a party for Michael! How far gone do you think I am?
Thanks for telling me all about the paper and its possible future. I’m very interested and hope you will not be thwarted by this bloke wot doesn’t love you. If you get a permanent job there we would know where we were and maybe there’d be more chance of leave than if you were being bunged about all over the place. Anyway, let me know how it goes.
Peaches and strawberries – bah! You dare to mention such things to a pregnant woman! It’s not fair.
That seems to answer all the points in your letters, for which, once again, many thanks.
All my love, darling,