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 231936

The Shrewsbury Chronicle Ltd
Dear Miss Gregson,
Your letter came as a great surprise to me, for I had no idea you were in Liverpool and could not make out what had happened to you on Monday. I very much regret the circumstances that have made it necessary for you to tender your resignation, and hope that after a rest you will be completely restored to health.
Yours faithfully,
E Sloane

Oct 031936

The Shrewsbury Chronicle Ltd
Dear Miss Gregson,
You must be aware that in resigning without notice and giving us no information whatever with regard to the work you had in hand you have caused us very serious inconvenience.
Your letter states that you acted as you did on medical advice, but up to the present we have received no proof of this in the form of a doctor’s certificate. Unless this evidence is forthcoming we shall have no option but to submit a claim for four weeks’ salary in lieu of notice.
Yours faithfully,
E. Sloane