Sunday 25th February, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks once again for weekly letter, they soon come round don’t they. We managed to get the last one in the box on the Sunday – mainly because June happened to have a stamp. Shall have to do some prospecting later to see if this one can do likewise. Sorry about the quality of the paper, I have some rice paper sacked away at the office, but only wants bringing home. This lot has come again from the children’s supply. A snivel or two from the girls, but otherwise all well this end.

Glad you said the better weather is coming. With the arrival of your letter, or rather one day in advance, the really cold weather started. This has severely reduced outside activity with both ourselves and the children. Carol was saying something about taking the doll for a walk in the pram, but it is far too cold. I suppose it is as cold now as it has been or winter.

Have not had a look round the house to see if anything is missing in the way of tiles. Should not think much adrift there. Last weekend I fixed one of the downpipes which was regularly rattling every time we got strong wind. It was a source of booming noise as the pipe resonated. That has been jammed with a piece of wooden wedging and is now silent.

Have secured the faulty piece of the garage roof with an old door bolt. This rest under the steel cross members and the roof piece is hooked to it and pressure tightened with a locking nut.

I think I misled you about the envelopes. On again looking at the old ones, it was the paper that had given way in front of the Sellotape. No trouble at all with this week’s but can see I shall have to get you some envelopes.

No chance to test the effect of the bread-and-water diet yet, as the girls have been confined to the garden since then, apart from Susan’s going to and from school. There has been no deviation however since that time, so we may have made some impact.

Remember the incident when I asked Mogg to help me. I thought of it afterwards that I could have caught hold of the bricks on the wall in front of Caples bungalow and Mrs Newey’s. I do not know if they have altered them, but they were one flat and one ridged like castle walls.

I should have thought the Swiss Valley was one of the nicest parts of Clevedon to live in – sheltered from the sea winds, not too far from the town, and expanding.

I think it’s far too much to expect that the lawn arrangements will have been completed before you come up in the summer. The difficult part is the provision of the earth covering, but I may transfer some of the earth I have in the patch at the bottom to accelerate things. The level of the patch will drop of course, but the household ash can then be dumped there to raise it again, or I can get a load for two of good stuff later on.

How long has the thumb been playing up? I gather there is no pain, but presumably it caused some difficulty prior to first visit to doctor.

Last Sunday after closing down the letter, had a visit from Notley – by arrangement – and got out the wine cellar. While going through it I came across a bottle of the Apple I brewed in October from the fruit you brought up. When I racked it from the fermentation jars into a couple of storage jars, there was an odd bottle which I must have taken downstairs – although I do not remember doing it. After trying most of the available stuff, I tried the Apple to see how it was going on. It was beautiful. Considering it was only four or five months after brewing it was very sweet with a fine bouquet. There is plenty of it so when you arrive there may well be some left.

Note the thornless loganberry will probably fruit in ’63. Can hardly wait. Something like our plum, I believe it has lasted two of the eight years you said it would need. I think we have may have lost the bits of forsythia as there is no sign of life from that quarter, and this is the time of year when movement should be seen. Ran into Baynton-Hughes on Thursday and had a chat with him. He says not to give up Work Study as even greater things are coming. Do not know if he knows anything, but at least he has done well from it.

Interesting to hear that Richings has to take over Weston Goods. He should have little difficulty with it in view of his old experience. We should do more of that up and down the country. I can visualise the time when an S.M. will cover a group of stations, not merely two as usual now. For instance one would cover Reading, one for all stations to Slough including branches, one for Slough, one for West Drayton, Iver, Langley, Staines and Uxbridge (if not closed) etc etc etc. What a saving there could be in the ordering of stock, stationery et cetera.

My visit to Swindon of all things was in connection with the with the redesign of platform trolleys. There has been some waffle going on for years between the Swindon people and our Works and Equipment section, no one seems to know what was wanted so McDonald dropped the problem on our plate. Ibbotson is pressing the matter. Frankly there is not much one can suggest to improve the present design, as it has stood the test to time and rough treatment, is cheap and easy to repair. Cost only £30 each where has the cheapest alternative so far suggested amounts to about £85 each.

Thank you for the paper – I saw the entry about Houghton’s son. As you know Harrow-on-the-Hill is not awfully far from us although not what you would call in the immediate neighborhood.

Sorry about the spelling here today, that typewriter seems alive. Probably the cold weather. Note you are still awaiting yours. Have seen several for sale – new lately but the cost is about £20. Of course you do not require a portable – neither do I for that matter – as long as you can find room to put it out of the way when not in use.

I feel sorry for the railway people of Bristol who are to protest about the closure of train services. There is just nothing they can do about it. It is inevitable, and their action is rather like that of King Canute. They would be far better off if they could only use their energy to work out the best course to take after these changes are brought about.

Note about Mr Gardiner, and Miss Weekes, but who please is Mrs Bushell?

Had a fright yesterday when I tried to get the car out of the garage. As you know I have little room to move in, and after trying for about 5-minutes, could not get the back of the car round far enough to clear the wall of the house and get into the sideway. Could not understand this as usually presents no difficulty, but I was to-ing and fro-ing like a novice unable to get out. I stopped the engine and decided to walk out and think about it. When I get round to the back I found the off-side rear tyre was as flat as a pancake. Pumped it up with the foot pump, and after that it was easy.  So far no sign of it going down.

As I type this letter the snow is coming down in large flakes. The fat-headed chat at the bottom of the garden is digging his garden wearing a leather jerkin and balaclava. After a short break for tea, I see even he has had enough and snow is now heavier.

They are looking for that little boy at Ruislip today. I am told that they are looking along the West End Road somewhere. Peter wanted to know if I would go on the search with him. The local Scout superintendent was telling me that he and the number of others have been asked if they will go on a shoulder-to-shoulder search today.*

Well there is no great news to report this week, the neighbours have said nothing about their plans. Do not see much of them on either side at this time of the year. Eric was home yesterday and was up early and about this morning, but his car has gone now.

Have seen one or two efforts by the children knocking about in reply to your note to them. (Pictures.)

Will close now then with love from us all.

*Billy Holloway, of course. Alec does not explicitly say whether or not he went along but I suspect he did not; the prospect of being out and about in cold weather and potentially finding a body would not have appealed to him one little bit.


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