Perhaps I’d better begin at the end of your letter so as to be sure of getting it answered. First of all, a nark. You swore to me that there was nothing worrying you and there was. I knew all the time you were lying even with all your protestations, but I decided to let it be. As I evidently couldn’t get it from you then, I decided it would come out sooner or later, but I’m disappointed because I would much sooner get these things settled in person rather than by letter. Anyway, here goes. Many months ago, probably in a moment of depression, I warned you that you would probably find that I had changed from the time I first went away. Well I probably have and that will to some extent account for a feeling that I don’t “belong” there any more. Nor, to be honest, do I belong there. Now, and until I’m out of uniform, I belong to the navy. No matter what mental barriers I erect against it, I can’t keep the navy out when they can and do control my life 24 hours a day. That has something to do with it and I think you will find most servicemen suffer consciously or unconsciously from it to some extent. But this is only one thing – the mental background, so to speak. Perhaps at the back of my mind is a form of resentment at being dragged away from Morningside, and each time I come home I’m reminded of how much I’m missing. The children, for instance, are growing up, forming new ideas, making new friends and slowly developing their characters. In all of this I have no share – except to make Wendy cry twice in three days! You make friends who bolt as soon as they see me! Now all of this, you may say, has nothing to do with the house, but it has, for the house is the place where it is all happening and I’m quite sure that if, when the war is over and I come home for the last time, I am certain that my job will allow us to remain in that house then I’ll take more interest in it than ever. Any house where you and the children are will always be home to me. But I wonder if you can see that all this mixture of resentment against the present and uncertainty about the future makes it difficult for me to take a really keen interest in the house?
Now, as to your side of it. For one thing you should never have made yourself so ill in doing the kitchen. That was sheer lunacy, which did nothing to make me happier, did it? Almost it was a venomous expression of spite against our joint failure to fulfil your deep desire. But one of the worst sides of your story is the implication that if I had never commented on the state of the kitchen you would never have bothered about it! Surely, love, that isn’t so, is it? If it is then it means you have lost interest even more than I have. My lack of interest, such as it is, originates wholly in the fact that I know whenever I come home that I’m only there for a few days, whereas you have the incentive of living there constantly.
Dearest, I’m not very sure that I’ve said the right thing in the right way in this letter – there have been a dozen or more interruptions in the course of it – but let me sum up like this: Morningside is still home to me; I’ll admit I’m not as interested as I was because I feel whenever I’m home that I haven’t time to do all that I’d like to do in it and so, very often, I end up by not doing anything. But you must also believe that once I get home for good – or even if I get a permanent post near enough to be home regularly – that interest would very soon revive and I’m sure of this, that when I am home for good I’ll take more interest in the home than ever I did. If I’ve given you the impression that your hard work in the home is not appreciated, I’m sorry love, because I DO appreciate it very deeply. In defence of my criticism of the house I can only say they really prove I AM interested! YOU haven’t gone wrong anywhere, it’s ME with my selfish attitude that, simply because “I can’t be at home sometimes for months on end then I’m not going to be as interested as I was”. It’s wrong to say I’m not interested or that I don’t belong. My interest may have waned a little through being away, but I think that’s all that has happened so for goodness sake don’t you lose interest or we ARE sunk!
Darling, I’m sorry about all this and even more sorry that you evaded the issue when I was home and knew there was something on your mind, for it is very difficult to thrash these things out satisfactorily on paper. I only hope I’ve not made things worse! I hate to think of you being made miserable through my selfishness or even thoughtlessness and this is the part of being away from home that makes me more unhappy than anything else.
Many thanks for your letter, love, and for the amusing account of the cats in the pram. Now you have got your feet in with “Day to Days”, try to keep it up. One every other day means an extra 6/- a week. I know you don’t really need the money, but…! Another good point is that looking for a par like that every other day will be a good mental exercise.
There is little to tell you from here except to say that when I got back on Monday I found all the cleaning materials – hard soap, disinfectant, scouring powder, long-handled scrubbers, brooms and brushes, scrubbing brushes, floor cloths – 70 yards of it – and three dozen buckets, as well as two zinc baths had arrived. So there was no excuse for further laziness and in the last three days we have had an orgy of cleaning. My hands are raw with the effects of soda etc. Is there anything special you’d like in this line? Let me know and if possible I’ll try to get it for you. If I can’t, well it can’t be helped. Don’t worry, I won’t take any risks. As I told you yesterday, I can’t do anything about the weekend until after tomorrow. If the officer wants me to work over the weekend on stores with him it will be too bad, but I won’t be able to grumble because we had such a lazy time during our first week here. Anyway, if you have made a phone date with me for Friday I should be able to give you a good idea then.
Bye for now, angel. Hope you are feeling better now. My love to the children. All my love to you, sweetheart.
Always your own,