Wednesday 15th February, 1961

Leonard to the family:

Many thanks for letter received on Tuesday and another good effort by Susan – thank you very much Susan your drawings are improving wonderfully.*

Am glad to say we are both feeling very much better but a little exertion seems to take it out of us still – this will wear off in due course.

What a good idea to have the flu vaccine injections – private firms have been doing this for several years. Hope it works out alright and that it can be done annually. Do you remember some years ago we went to Dr Geo Mcleod for some injections and at that time three injections were necessary at monthly periods. Did not bother after the first year but if such injections are proof against flu then we must think about it next Autumn.

Note you have been busy with various meetings including one at Oxford – a place I’ve never been to by train although we had a choir outing there by road a long time ago. Sounds as if you are all going to have plenty of work to get on with. No wonder you want additional staff.

Have not heard from Norman. He will call up on phone if & when he has any news. There must be hundreds of applicants for Work Study posts and presumably all those successful must have a period at the school otherwise it would be most difficult for them to undertake the outside work. Have you had your chat with McDonald yet about things? and found out who is doing what etc.?

You still find a bit of time for winemaking then? I’ve nothing brewing up at the moment but am thinking of making some Parsnip Wine. Recently dug up the remainder of the parsnips and they are drying off in garage at the moment – about 4 or 5 lbs I should think, just enough for a brew.

Is there any more news of Susan’s possible start at school after Easter or have you still to wait for information? Is Susan excited at the prospect? We shall see a big difference in both of them – it will be about nine months since we last saw them and they can alter quite a lot in that time. Last June when you were here Carol was not too sure on her feet but I expect she is all over the place now. Susan will have grown too. They are both still fond of their prams then** – something to show us when we come up.

How nice for Pauline & Eileen to be with you last weekend. I’m sure Susan & Carol were pleased.

Had a line from Geoff last week to say you had all been over to Headstone Lane and that the children had had a good time. Note you visited Harrow last weekend but no lampshades on view. We have not been out in car except for local trips to library and Hill Road. Am gradually filling up with petrol for the journey and shall put car in for ‘short servicing’ in early March. Have you got certificate of roadworthiness for yours yet? I see the very old ones are now liable to prosecution if not in possession of certificate.

The current name of the hairdresser who bought Roselands is Hamblin and not Hamilton – my mistake. Hamblin has had a ladies hairdressing business at Six Ways (near Babyland) ever since that block of shops were erected and is noted for buying old property – renovating it – and then reselling. I don’t know if the other man – Hamilton – is still in Knowles Rd or not.

Someone was looming at Spencers’ house in this avenue last Sunday – understand Spencer starts his new job in Southampton on March 1st. At the moment he is busy painting the outside woodwork – windows, doors etc. – presumably to get a better price for it. Should think it’s a bit late in the day for that.

Those people in Cranley Gardens seem to be in it right up to their necks – the place was well organised. It would be very interesting to know who first put the police on to them.***

Have got down to some serious gardening this week. Dug another rough plot across garden and started weeding from the bottom end next to Heels. In the frames I’ve sown Lettuce – Carrot – Beetroot – Leeks and Cauliflower whilst in greenhouse I’ve taken quite a lot of chrysanthemum cuttings. It was a glorious day yesterday and from BBC accounts it was pretty general all over the country. No sun today but dry although very dull. Mum has gone to Townswomen’s Guild meeting this afternoon and is going with them tomorrow to Bristol to the pantomime. I shall be keeping the home fires burning or perhaps one in the garden – nearly time I started another.

Note you had a trip to Pinner Park on Sunday but that it was not too pleasant – not very nice here either. I went ringing morning and evening but we did not feel well enough to sit in church – still a bit of cough at times.

Have you disposed of all the Country Lifes we brought up last year? Hope so for we have another lot for you. Joan tells us that commencing last January she has changed to the ‘Field’ a somewhat similar publication to the Country Life but we shall still be having them as usual (i.e. the Field).

Quite a lot of train mishaps lately – what is the matter? Some of them appear to be carelessness from the brief particulars given in the Press but it is just as well to wait for the official verdicts. The fact remains however there are too many accidents occurring now-a-days****. Don in his last letter said he had heard that they are taking men from the Labour Exchange at Exeter and training them as goods guards and that when the period of training is over (ten weeks) the men resign and go back to the Labour Exchange having had ten stamps stuck on their card.

Well I think this is the lot once more. Mum must put a few lines before posting to say how much she enjoyed pantomime.

Hope you are all keeping well.

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

Mum & Dad

[*Against what standard, I wonder? And is improvement the only reason for making them? I think not. Why wouldn’t one tell a child that age ‘I really liked your drawing’ or ‘Your drawing made me smile’? Continually measuring any child against some imaginary yardstick must surely lead to disappointment on both sides – especially for the child who can never quite be ‘good enough’ for the adults in their life.]

[**Having owned the things for only about seven weeks at this stage this may not be too surprising.]

[***The simple answer to this question is ‘the CIA’, who had tipped off MI5 about the activities of a man known as ‘Gordon Lonsdale’ but who was in fact a Soviet agent by the name of Konon Molody. Permission was obtained to investigate the contents of a safe deposit box in ‘Lonsdale’s name, and spy paraphernalia was discovered. From then on he was under intense scrutiny until he was arrested on 7 January, 1961, and so was everyone he came into contact with.]

[****This was certainly a bad spell; Wikipedia lists three accidents very close together at this time – at Royton in Lancashire on 8 February, where the accident was followed by a fire which destroyed two houses; near Rugby on 11 February, when a driver was killed; and at Baschurch in Shropshire on 13 February, when three railwaymen were killed. Further crashes took place on 20 March at Canon Street, London; 11 April at Waterloo; 18 April at Pitsea in Essex; and on 16 July at Weeton in Lancashire, leaving a total of twelve people dead and at least 142 injured.]

Letter from Eva on the remaining two-thirds of Leonard’s sheet of writing paper:

Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for letter also Susan’s drawing. I expect she will be an artist later on.

Well we went to the Pantomime in King St. We had nearly left Clevedon when two members found they hadn’t got their tickets so back to Herbert Rd, & also Fearnville. We eventually arrived at the Theatre Royal* 2.15 p.m. & it commenced 2.30. This is not a very big theatre I was surprised. Jessie Matthews was the principal actress. She must be sixty if she is a day by now*. I remember her better in the films. We got home about 6.30 p.m. On the 22nd we hope to go to Capern’s Seed place at Yatton.

Dad has been busy putting the gate right today.

The Triangle Post Office was raided this week £500 stolen. Somebody said Mick Rees Barratt went off & left the door open. He works as a labourer somewhere not being fit for other work.

The Hamilton who used to live in Knowles Rd lived with a Mrs Middleton who had a number of children. Don’t know if he lives there now.

There was Ronnie & Reggie Hoy one of them died I think it was Ronnie, the other is a clergyman.

I have bought some paint to do the bathroom don’t know when it will be started all depends when the electricians do their job.

This is about all for the week. Lots of love from

Mum & Dad

[*Now known as the Bristol Old Vic and recently given a massive face-lift. (Mutter mutter, monstrous carbuncle…)]

[*A little unfair; she was fifty-four.]


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