Wednesday 8th February, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for another nice letter received on Tuesday and we are very glad to hear that so far you have escaped the flu and hope you will avoid it altogether. According to this morning’s paper the epidemic has now reached its peak and from now on should decrease. Mum and I are both feeling a lot better but not by any means 100% yet. We don’t want any more of that kind. From what you say it would appear to be very similar to that which you had in 1957. Anyhow enough of that for the time being. Note several absentees from your office and hope they will soon be back.

Have not had very much inclination for wine tasting but we were put on to a very fine pick-me-up called Vibrona 13/9 a bottle at Wine Merchants* – quite a kick in it.

We can both remember the school in Field End Road – it’s quite close to the Clay Pigeon. A nice looking building from outside and I should think it is quite up to date. Let’s hope Susan can get into it after Easter.

You are in for a number of meetings then by the sound of it – keep you on your toes. In a letter from Don this morning he says that last week there were no less than 25 Class 1 vacancies advertised for Work Study on W.R. – presumably some of these will come to your dept.

Norman Allen called up after his interview last Friday and said he was with them for about 20 minutes. Apparently Gallagher & Mann were two of the panel and a lot of questions asked which he thought he had dealt with alright. I asked him how many were interviewed and he said 30 for four vacancies. This seems ridiculous. Anyhow even by an interview he said he had got further than he thought he would.

Your accommodation at Paddington is pretty bad comparably with other areas but I suppose it will be remedied in due course. Did your requisition for coach equipment go forward or was it slashed? And did you manage to secure the coach you had your eye on at Westbury? It is all very interesting to be although not directly concerned now-a-days. You will have to have a fairly large staff to cover all the assignments in mind. By this time you will no doubt have settled one or two things with McDonald i.e. if he has returned to duty. His Swiss holiday did not do him much good going off so soon after his return.

Note you were at Ealing last Saturday but not much time for window gazing. We thought in the meantime before we come up that you would like to look at some lamp shades hence the suggestion. Put another coating of polish on standard this morning. Its raining in torrents and impossible to do anything outdoors. Quite nice yesterday and Mum and I dragged some of the apple prunings from the field to quite near garage for breaking up. Still some more to come when it is next dry again overhead. In the afternoon I put in three rows of shallots – working from concrete path – so that little job’s done. The gulley in the field between greenhouse and bungalow at the bottom is as full of water as I’ve ever seen it.

Fancy Susan wanting a paddle this weather! How are the prams getting on – plenty of exercise I expect when weather suitable.

We hear Roselands has been sold for £1800 [roughly £41,850 in 2021 money] – a more reasonable figure than first anticipated. Hamlin the hairdresser in Knowles Rd has bought it – expect you remember him from schoolboy days. Now we hear Spencers (Ian’s parents) are moving to Southampton and their house in the Avenue is up for sale. I remember the Hoys who used to live near Elfords many years ago.

So far as John is concerned I think he has done this on his own but no doubt Joe & Lydia would know what was happening. I’m sure he has made the right move otherwise he might have been an Irononger’s Assistant all his life. In a way both he and Pat have been fortunate inasmuch as they have been able to make their homes in their home town.

Arthur is supposed to be coming to England again this summer and he has said he is going to call on us this time. Must have some money to keep touring like this.

Am expecting my National Health contribution to be increased in April but am hoping to draw from them in just over a twelvemonths time to make up for it. Obviously I’m not going to get any increase in railway superannuation but the fact that some increase is being given to certain colleagues is interesting and as you say shows somebody is waking up at last.

We thought of you last Sunday afternoon going over to Headstone Lane – not altogether a nice day and I should not think the children were able to play on the lawn but we hope you all enjoyed yourselves. I went over ringing morning and evening but we did not go to Church, neither did I go over Monday night to ringing practice.

I see Ruislip getting a lot of newspaper publicity in connection with the alleged spying on behalf of Russia. Where are Cranley Gardens? Cannot seem to remember seeing the place. According to one account the person concerned used Ruislip Manor Station.**

Heard this morning Mr & Mrs Aston both ill with flu. Cornish looked over yesterday – first time for about four months – looking as artful as ever. He and Heel the other neighbour walk the sea wall after heavy seas and secure anything washed up. I call them Flotsan & Jetsam. They generally come back with something even if they have to drag it through river (at low tide) into Heel’s field. The people who bought Mrs Drewett’s house are there every day at some time busy with redecorating it but there is no sign yet of them moving in.

Quite a lot of the early spring flowers are out including snowdrops and crocuses so we must look forward to some better weather soon. Gardening will be all behind this year but it’s useless to get on the ground at present – more suitable for paddy field cultivation.

I will let you know if Norman hears anything further but it is possible you may hear before me via your Bristol contacts. Don’t worry about car when we come up – ours can stand in the ‘drive in’ if necessary but if anyone should have a garage vacant for a few days then we would like to take advantage of it.

Now I think this is the lot for another week – hope you are all keeping fit and well.

All our love to you both and once again lots of kisses for dear little Susan & Carol.

Mum & Dad

[*Not cheap; this would be £16 in 2021 money!]

[**This was the infamous Portland Spy Ring, which operated from a bungalow at 45 Cranley Drive. According to Google Earth the distance between the two houses is just under two miles, although this is a journey distance and not ‘as the crow flies’. 45 Cranley Drive is tucked away from any main travel routes so it’s most unlikely that Leonard would have been anywhere near it.]

Eva to the family on the remaining two-thirds of a sheet of Leonard’s writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

I saw the writing on the underside of envelope & think it was Susan writing Queens Walk. Did you have a nice time at Headstone Lane last Sunday, it was not a very nice day here.

Norman has just rung up to say he was not lucky with any of the jobs.

It has been lovely here today but very windy. Shall soon have to think about gardening I suppose.

Lots of people are selling their houses down this area. Mrs Harding in Westbourne Avenue is going to Hallam Rd to live with her mother & selling. Her son got married the other day & the daughter married a Spencer some time ago. You can see the furniture vans about every day at some place or other.

You can see nearly every house in St Andrew’s Drive now our trees have been severely pruned. Mr [illegible] has been doing drastic cuttings on his estate, he couldn’t see the wood for the trees. We may not get so much fruit now in consequence.

I expect Carol will want to go to school when Susan starts. Were you successful in getting her in? I think I can remember the school.

Ruislip was well in the news columns of our paper yesterday describing the place & people a nice set of bowler-hatted gentlemen who like “doing it yourselves” to keep their thoughts off the city. Lots more besides.

Lots of love to you all,

Mum & Dad


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