Sunday 4th March, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Well surprise, surprise, no letter this week, at least up till last post on Saturday. Imagine you must have been snowed up, or snowed in this week. Hope it does not mean that you are unwell and unable to get outside. The weather has been so shocking, and the temperature so low that going outside the house is quite an ordeal.

I took the car out on Monday morning as we had arranged to spend the afternoon (half-day) at the dentist. The roads were very treacherous, and a lot of snow fell. When we went to see the dentist in the afternoon it was still falling heavily. We left the car at Ruislip Station and walked from there. The dentist is a couple of hundred yards beyond the traffic lights in the direction of West Ruislip. There are two of them there working more unless independently, but our chap was very nice. He has very spacious and modern premises, with good light waiting room complete with comics. When it was our turn we all went in together. June had first go in the chair, and the dentist knowing that neither of the girls had been before, invited them round the front to see what was going on. Susan would not go, but Carol nipped round and stood on the front of the chair and had a good look at the proceedings. Of course it was natural for Carol to go next, and the dentist gave her a couple of rides up and down in the pneumatic chair. Of course she had nothing to be done, and by the time she had been dealt with, Susan was ready to be  looked at. Carol tried to operate the chair for her to go up, but she was not strong enough. Susan had to have a drilling, but it was all over so quickly and so gently that she really did not know what had happened. Yours truly has to have seven fillings, etc etc. Harking back on Susan’s treatment, I must say she did not twitch a muscle during the whole of the operation.

On the completion of our dental visit, we went along to the gas showrooms to get some more information about fires etc. I am sure I must have told you that we are interested in getting one of the latest ones for the front room. Although our electric heaters are good ones, we do not seem to get instant heat in that room, and in the really cold weather, even two kilowatts are insufficient to keep the place warm. June brought the oil heater down from the bathroom during the week and placed it in the hall just inside the front door. With that on all day, the warmth all over the house was appreciable.

Poor old Carol has got a cold again, and has been waking up at night. As it happens I have not heard much of it after I have gone to sleep, but we had one evening when we had to bring her down even before we had got to bed. That was Friday night. Of course, with a head cold, heavy catarrh, and a flushed face she looked a picture of misery, but she seems well enough in herself during the day. She has been pottering around filling a coal bucket for us this morning. It is hard to realise she is nearly four years old.

No further work on the lawn as you might expect. Had a look round the garden yesterday and there is no sign at all of the Forsythia, I am sure all the cuttings are dead. Your rose has put out some new shoots, and the beeches (from Burnham) seem to be going on well. The Buddleia has had some of its new growth affected by the frost, but there will be some to prune later in the month. Those (indoor) chrysanths (now outdoors) are still alive and well with plenty of shoots from the base. No sign of the daisies (Esther Reed, or what have you) in fact there is no trace at all of all the clumps we put in.

On Tuesday I held the second informal meeting with the Acton Passenger Station Staff side of the L.D.C. and we were able to agree at what level to introduce the scheme experimentally for a period of six weeks (starting on March 19th). On the Thursday we held the official L.D.C. meeting and produced a minute to that effect. We are getting to the interesting stage of a number of investigations now – Acton Yard with savings of £31,000 per annum [roughly £707,500 in 2022 money] was dropped on Phillips’ desk on Friday night. If the staff are satisfied with the station scheme after the six weeks trial, I am sure I can get the Yard scheme accepted. The same L.D.C. is involved for both.

To hear the children stomping around in the front room now, you would think they were both 100%. I have just been in there and they have lined up the cushions, stools, dumpy* and table to form a railway track, and the bumps and bangs are coming from that.

By the way we shall soon be losing Tony Notley. He has got a Special B with the Traffic Costing Service. (B.T.C.) It was all very hush-hush for a few days, but he was told during the week that he had got the job. It is one grade below that for which I unsuccessfully applied a couple of years ago. although attached to the B.T.C., he will be working on the Western Region at Paddington attached to the divisional setup. His boss, recently appointed, is Walton, and their premises are on the 6th floor, the one immediately above us. Sounds like an Irishman’s transfer.**

Have not seen Geoff since last writing, so will be glad to have any details on his condition.

While on the subject of work, we handed in an outline report on Old Oak Common Carriage Cleaning Depot during the week, and it is going to cost us about £16,000 per annum [roughly £365,000 in 2022 currency] to apply our scheme. This will make them cough a bit when they study it.

Have had no further trouble with the car. Since pumping up the back offside tyre two weeks ago, it has required no further attention. The test certificate expires on 8th March so I shall have to get it retested.

We are getting a little sunshine now, but there is no heat in it. Yesterday afternoon we had quite a lot of sunshine but it was notably cold outside the car.

By the way it appears that our new dentist was also Bill Bryer’s, as he was asking me if I knew him.

We have had no sign from the joiner who undertook to do our kitchen. He said he would be along at the end of February, which presumably is earlier than the beginning of March. I suppose he has been tied up with other jobs – a bit like old Drewett. June gave me a hand yesterday with the crosscut saw, and we polished off most of the wood that required sawing up. It has taken us seven years to get rid of all the accumulated wood left by the previous occupants. This as you know included an old shed and an old summerhouse. We shall endeavour to clear all of this as logs, and will also run down coal stocks before we go over to gas.

We thought we had cleared out all the bulbs from the front garden in the autumn, but they have come up as thick as ever to all accounts. Hope they are not all blind ones this time. There were quite a number in the back garden but I have seen no sign of them yet.

The officers are feeling the pinch of Raemond’s policy already. Leslie Morgan, up to a meeting last week was not entertained, and gave his opinion of it in no uncertain terms. By the way the betting on Powell’s successor has now shifted in favour of Claude Hankins. No further news on that score.

Well there it is again for another week. Hope you are both alright, and look forward to hearing from you. Love from us all. 

*A ‘dumpy’ in family parlance was a pouffe, or a footstool without legs. I have never heard this expression used anywhere else, so it might have been a childhood nickname for the thing or possibly a short-lived brand name; a superficial internet search has produced no applicable results.

**’An Irishman’s transfer’ also doesn’t seem to be an established expression, and Googling it only produces results related to Irish footballers being transferred here and there. It’s probably on a par with the other casually-racist ‘thick Irish’ jokes that were about at the time and to a certain extent still are. I take it to mean that ‘an Irishman’s transfer’ is a distinction without a difference; Notley is going to in the same building, with the same people, doing much the same work, but with a new title and presumably a different salary – which Alec probably considered not worth the effort required to achieve it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s