Monday 24th August 1959

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Dad’s letter to hand to-day for which many thanks. We certainly have had some thunder but It was not too bad. Last Friday I had some difficulty in getting home due to the trains being badly out of course on the Central Line and of course they had to be packed to suffocation. The seat of the trouble was at Liverpool St the other end of the line. We had very little trouble this end but I suppose we have had one good days rain. The latter did the garden a lot of good but as always we are badly in need of some more. Glad you had a good day at Exmouth. I would not know the place now of course it was so long ago that I was last there. In fact I don’t suppose I remember much of Dawlish, Paignton, Teignmouth or any of the resorts at which we used to spend our holidays. The cream arrived O.K but as I was playing cricket on the Tuesday was unable to touch it that day and by the time I came home on Wednesday it had turned or what was left of it had turned. Thank you for the plums and tomatoes. They were very good especially the latter. Some of the plums were wearing fur coats when they were unpacked so had to sort them over. The next day some more had started to grow them so as we could not eat them at that rate I have made about six lbs into wine. I have the tops well covered with muslin but the wine flies are very active in the shed. Yes the girls are a couple of nibs when they dress up and you can bet that Carol does her full share of showing off. I have just seen the new baby. I went in to borrow the wheelbarrow and was invited in to inspect as Dorothy had been allowed to get up to-day. He is a bonny lad and the months will soon pass till the time when he will be look through the fence to Susan and Carol. Take a dim view of this gardeners weekly lark. I suppose it is a change from Housewives Choice. I am not surprised that you have had a good crop of spuds from that patch at the bottom of the garden. The only risk is from leatherjackets which are present in turf or newly dug soil. I hope you will start to use the yeast that I gave you as when properly organised it will save you from buying any and will practically last for ever. The East African Railway stuff is very interesting, and I shall be glad to have any more bits like that which you may receive. Of course I will keep it for you when you come up. Please take no notice of Question Marks in this correspondence, they appear when I hit the key adjacent to the full stop. We are holding the big meeting to-morrow to pass the draft report for press. So far we have got the draft past the technical people (Civil and Mechanical and Electrical Engineers) also the London District. Each member has received a photostat copy of the draft report and it is the intention to take it paragraph by paragraph until completed then make every one present sign the waz*. We hope to start printing before 5-0pm to-morrow. The material will be edited this end and then will go to Swindon to be bound into the covers which they have already prepared. The whole thing will out first week in September on schedule. Yesterday the team were called up to Paddington for a meeting with Wilkinson Barnes, Baynton-Hughes and Charly Pinkham from the Staff Off ice to discuss the action to be taken as a result of the “Expenses Decree” There is no doubt a very good case (morally) for giving the Work Study Staff a more liberal helping of the expenses than would be due to ordinary relief staff especially in view of what is expected from them and particularly from the point of view of the savings that accrue. In view of my commitments I was not asked to the meeting but attended the lunch. H.L.W. certainly does it in great style two lots of beer, the second lot without asking, and port to finish. We have since knocked out three foolscap pages of bona fide points which we think will count in our favour for special dispensation to be given in this matter. This will be signed by the team leaders and myself and presented to him at his request. He will then take what action he can supported by an official application from us. I see that Assistant to D.O.S. Paddington is advertised on this weeks list. The job is only temporary as are all jobs these days unless they are part of the new organisation. From what I can make of it most of the D.O.S.O. Assistants etc. either know or think they know that they will become redundant. That of course is not a bad thing in the present set of circumstances. From what I can see of it there will not be much in the divisions or Districts for people at my level and the best thing to do now is to get out on a different tack. Shall have a go at the London job with a fair hope of success. They can interview who they like and they can pick who they like but no other candidate will come to the interview armed with knowledge of Reading Yards , Station and Old Oak Common ( All Work Study ) and Paddington Terminal Arrangements. Have more or less got as much rubble and hard core as I can usefully stow away under new path so expect that I shall get the cement and mix up enough to cover the top this week end. Pity you did not see the T.V. bit on Reading, It is constantly in the news so I would not be surprised if it did not come on again one day. Well I hope you are keeping well as we are all here, The girls had their hair cut yesterday. Doug still on leave took them over to Eastcote along with Ethel. Still a number of slugs about. June put paid to some yesterday just after dark and I see that there are a few about to-night. Have operated the salt to good effect. As said we enjoyed the tomatoes, they were very large and juicy.

Will close now till next time, and will await your further news.

Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec

*’Waz’ is an interesting word, and the best suggestion I can come up with is that it’s possibly the German equivalent of ‘bumf’ and likely to be an expression Leonard brought back with him from his service in the First World War (of which a lot more, but later). Online sources only refer to slang words for urination, and I never heard either Alec or Leonard use any expression less genteel than ‘wee’.


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