Tuesday 1 September 1959

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec, June, Susan and Carol

[On reverse of timetable paper table 179 Wellington, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bewdley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge Junction, Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa]

As promised in Mother’s letter a few more lines in reply to your long letter received last week. We are of course very interested in all the news and latest ‘doings’ of Susan & Carol. They must be getting to be a little company for one another even if it is only getting into the same mischief. How did Carol like having her hair trimmed? – does she object? I know Susan does not mind.

Very sorry the fruit arrived in poor condition this was undoubtedly due to being in the box for such a long time without air. As you know this kind of produce usually travels in open or lattices receptacles. Must try and do better another season. Except for a few preserving plums all ours are gone and the next item will be apples – plenty on trees if they will only hold. Tomatoes still plentiful and moving on much quicker now – was told to try a little sulphate of potash on each plant and it seems to have quickened them up. Pity about the cream too but we hope June and the girls enjoyed a little of it. Yes I am sure you would see a difference in the South West coastal towns after such a long time. It appears most of the places have improved their amenities at a tremendous rate – almost looks as if they are competing with one another.

How did the big meeting go off? Shall be pleased to have all the news. I suppose John Snow had to say he liked the scheme having regard to local opinion. Hope you also had a lunch on the strength of the expenses application. Surprised to hear you applying for Asst to DOS Paddington but best wishes all the same for a good interview. Should think your future prospects would be better with Work Study* for the time being even if the department is in the melting pot as far as Headquarters concerned but you may have some inside knowledge!!

I do not think the DOS jobs can be regarded as ‘plums’ nowadays 0- much different thirty-forty years ago.

Had a letter from Geoff this morning all about his holiday in Dinard with special emphasis on the condition of the toilets out there – it is his first visit abroad and was a bit of an eye-opener for him I think anyhow they all enjoyed themselves.

Since writing last I have been clearing the garden of weeds and generally tidying up for the season. In between whiles have been cutting out strips (wood) to make lattice sides of compost container – not nearly enough yet. Hedge cutting too occupies a deal of time just now but weather keeps fine and warm. Have not been out in car (except into Village**) since the day with Stephens – a fortnight ago today but may have a trip again in near future. Mr Parker – Alec Parker’s father – died last week. You may remember him as a former Church sidesman. In business of course he was a baker and had two shops near Triangle clock. Had been retired for a good number of years.

Well I think this is about the lot once more – wish I had a typewriter could get on much better.

Hope you are all keeping well. Lots of kisses for Susan & Carol.

Dad & Mother

*Work Study in this context is the old name for ‘time-and-motion’ or ‘efficiency’ (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_and_motion_study), i.e. the process of studying and hopefully streamlining working procedures. Growing up with an efficiency expert for a father was no picnic; he always knew of a better way to do something, even when speed and efficiency were less important than the process itself – i.e. if one wanted to go out for a bike ride he would point out that it was quicker by bus, even though the bike ride itself may have been the object of the exercise.

**Leonard’s reference to Clevedon as a ‘village’ is interesting. Its population would have been about 10,000 at the time (it has doubled since), so by most standards it would be considered a small town. However Wikipedia says a village is distinguished from a town in that:

A village should not have a regular agricultural market, although today such markets are uncommon even in settlements which clearly are towns.

A village does not have a town hall nor a mayor.

If a village is the principal settlement of a civil parish, then any administrative body that administers it at parish level should be called a parish council or parish meeting, and not a town council or city council. However, some civil parishes have no functioning parish, town, or city council nor a functioning parish meeting. In Wales, where the equivalent of an English civil parish is called a Community, the body that administers it is called a Community Council. However, larger councils may elect to call themselves town councils.[27] In Scotland, the equivalent is also a community council, however, despite being statutory bodies they have no executive powers.[28]

There should be a clear green belt or open fields, as, for example, seen on aerial maps for Ouston surrounding its parish[29] borders. However this may not be applicable to urbanised villages: although these may not be considered to be villages, they are often widely referred to as being so; an example of this is Horsforth in Leeds.

It also suggests that the population of ‘a village’ is under 5,000, which would seem to exclude Clevedon – although I don’t know how many of the other criteria Clevedon (a) met at the time or (b) would meet today. It’s probably a distinction without a difference, anyway.

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Mothers letter to hand yesterday for which many thanks. Don’t worry about the plums, we had all that we wanted and there was no waste. The fruit was certainly ripe and very juicy, I am surprised to hear that the tomatoes are still going strong, you must be feeding them on some good stuff. They are far superior to the Covent Garden Fruit so you can tell the woman at the bottom to put that in her frying pan. They seem cheap enough in the shops, but you must expect that at this time of the year. Re apples, I wish I was down there to help pick them. The worst of it is that the better the crop the more work it causes. I should not be surprised if you are not an expert at standing on ladders by now. You would not have had time to bother about fruit when you were younger anyway. Note the coal hauling went to plan. When are the men coming to do the job? Its not the first time that coal has been put under the bench in the shed but did not think there would be enough room this time. The weather has turned noticeably cooler lately. There is a distinct touch of Autumn about it and the leaves are beginning to turn colour and fall off the trees. The wireless warns about possible ground frost but should think: that is still a rare occurrence yet. We can of course do with rain but its too late to do much good now except to grass and weeds. Talking about hammer and nails, I remember at Westbury being given a small carpenters set with hammer, saw, etc. but got down beyond the end of the garden where there was a pond and soon lost some of it. It was never found. Sorry for Ching, thats one way of getting out of it. I suppose Charlie goes off and leaves it all to him to do. I saw Burge when I came to Clevedon on my own the last time. We travelled back together to Bristol. If you mean Paddy Philips, I did not know he had married again, in fact I did not know of the circumstances of his previous marriage. I will believe anything re L.E. Yes that part of France is much like Cornwall, but that is not such a bad thing after all. I like Cornwall, but I suppose there is less trouble to go than to Brittany. We have not had a card of course. Well so far as I am concerned, last week end was the limit. On Saturday morning I telephoned to Builder and ordered cement and ballast for the paths. This arrived about half past ten and Doug and I set about laying the stuff. By lunch time we had done just over half the job and finished it off in the afternoon plus a smaller job for him. I am afraid that it looks like a patchwork quilt now as the concrete has gone down in about three different colours. The first lot is quite sandy on the top while the rest is in two shades of off white. I know that the last lot was of four to one mixture and the first lot of five to one, but I did not expect that the result would be so startling. Of course the shuttering was all bits and pieces as I have no decent wood. Part of it was the remains of a sleeper, there were two pieces of sawn sleeper, a dart board, some short lengths of firewood, a plank borrowed from Doug, a shelf from the shed and two broken pieces of asbestos that bent out like a bow. I am afraid that the edges are anything but straight but at least there is something to walk on and it is at the level of the other path. I must now get enough earth to fill in the gap in the middle I am banking on the bonfires that I shall light on the spot to raise the earth level a bit. Got the report typed on waxes*** to-day and the appendices that have to be typed will be done to-morrow. The Engineers have ten copies of five different plans ready so should be ready to send someone to Swindon on Thursday or Friday with the stuff for binding. Have not had a go on the pools yet, have you had any luck? Will look forward to Dads letter in due course. Hope you are both well as we are here.

Love from June, Susan, Carol and Alec

***See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph#Preparing_stencils – I’m assuming the reference is to ‘wax’ stencils, which were actually more like a very thin linoleum. Although old-fashioned, these were the go-to means of reproducing fanzines when I started – photocopiers being expensive to own and operate at the time. The internet has, of course, largely rendered these technologies obsolete.


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