Sunday 18th March, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thank you both for your letters and the phone call during the week. Glad to see that the typewriter has arrived and that you both have had a bash at it. How long did mum’s letter take. One thing I notice about typing is the fact that the writing effort being less the content of the letter expands. Something to do with Parkinson’s Law I believe.

Yes the neck business is very queer. I think I wrote telling you that I had had an inoculation against smallpox. This was taken – as opportunity – when I visited the doctor for the first time with a swollen neck. June had noticed it the night before, and I could not account for it. There was no pain, only this tightly formed bump. Doctor examined and said he could find nothing wrong with ear nose or throat, but prescribed an antibiotic and said come back in one week. No change took place in that time, so he said I should go to the E.N.T. place in Piccadilly. They could find nothing wrong either, and said best to watch it and come back in a week. This I did and they confirm that x-rays and blood count taken the previous week revealed nothing. They could not say what it was but it was getting slowly bigger. I was sent back for another three weeks for a definite trend to establish, and on returning again they said I had better come in and they would take out a piece and examine under microscope. I now await the results of the examination, and have to go up on Tuesday to hear.

The water tank episode I thought would amuse you. On the Benns’ side they had had two tanks go in four years. I think the plumbers must be on a good racket. Doug Gray had his go last year also the hot water tank, but he had a little warning as he saw a trickle of water from base of tank. Ours went so suddenly that no warning given. He suggested last year that I should have a look at tank, which I did, but you cannot tell by just looking at it how long it will last. The thing was as you say a bit too much for Carol, and we had the water running downstairs as well as up. Fortunately Ethel next door was able to take them in and keep them out of the way for a bit so I only had one to contend with.*

The ground about here was in good fettle for working on about one week ago, but the weather is far too cold for any activity. And I have been instructed not to do anything energetic like gardening hahaha until signed off. Have not seen many people digging their plots yet.

Our neighbours found a nice bungalow in the Worlebury -Sand Bay area of Weston-super-Mare, and were trying to get it. On Friday Dorothy told me that Eric was at that moment in Taunton trying to fix something with the Somerset County Council for Janet to go to school at Weston etc etc. She was waiting for a phone call to see if it could be arranged or not. So far we have not heard any more.

Glad to hear that your neighbours’ period of waiting is over and that they have a baby girl. Was it what they wanted?

The water heater we have for the kitchen is an Ascot gas heater. The men came and fixed it up on Friday. it took them all the morning as they had to have gas stove out and put in a lot of new piping. After getting it back they discovered the gas leak we have been telling them about for months, so they had to take it apart again and tighten some pipes. We are no longer  dependent on the boiler, and it is quite nice to be able to have have a fast run of medium hot water or a slow run of boiling water – on tap – as it were.

Since writing last I see they have found the boy from Hayes. It is a tragedy, but no amount of sympathy can put it right.

Have not heard much from the office since I have been away, and that suits me for the time being. Acton Station scheme starts tomorrow, but there is nothing much I can do except show an interest in the figures produced.

Both girls listen to the radio and the TV, and they are well up with current news and personalities. Every so often they come out with something. Carol’s favorites are the jingles about buying the TV Times.

I am sorry that Mum’s typing sounds like water dripping from a tap. Just as well it does not sound like a man hammering nails into a piece of wood.

I expect I knew Ron Bridle. Was he the old man who used to wear a large black or navy blue Seamans pullover and spent much of his time looking over his front gate? Hope Mr Palmer’s stay in hospital is as pleasant as mine was. If you go to see him please give him my regards and best wishes for a quick return to circulation.

This new S.T.D. method must be good to all accounts. How long did it take to get through by that method? I noted you did not linger on the phone and guess that no pips would ring as the system was altered.

Do not forget to change over some of the liquid in that new yeast as it will only kill itself with alcohol ??? if left alone. If it should show signs of forming a scum or thickening, I should throw it away as it may contaminate your next wine. I must admit I used mine for the last lot of wine and had to remove some scum from the surface. I hope it works out alright. Will let you know. Have a good wine book from the library this week. It is even better than Bravery, but it is for the expert – reduces everything to mathematics of weights and specific gravities etc. There are one or two new slants on making the stuff which I shall probably adopt.

Nice thought that you only have one more stamp to put on your card and then you can get your pensions. Good for you, as you say glad to get some back. As you know my short stay in hospital was free. quite a change from the last time. By the way I am getting something back from the Wilts Working Men’s lot. I do not remember the last time I claimed, but I dropped them a line on the day I went into hospital, and received a P.O. for the first three days, with more to come.

I like the lettering of your machine. The type is prominent, and obviously the ribbon is fairly new. I shall have to try to get another for this one when I get back to work. The office ribbons probably do not fit this machine, but I am going to try.

Poor old Susan has got another cold coming but she is not all that the worse for wear for it. Very lively this morning. I suppose it is only a matter of time before Carol gets it. The latter woke us up in the night bowling over something or other. June had to go into her and slapped her bottom for her. That settled it.** Carol was awake at about 7 am singing at the top of her voice. Great life. They wanted to know how Mr Rust was (Mr Dean Rust) when I got back on Tuesday.

Re Mother’s letter – very nicely type – the lump turn out to be an abscess from which they removed a part. It is now only a quarter of its former size, and I hope it will eventually disappear. When I see them on Tuesday they should have found the stuff to help it on its way.

I am inclined to agree that the T.V. programs get worse. The best part is the adverts now.

Did not know that the Hewitts are going to Norway in June. Nice place I believe, but too cold for my liking. If I go abroad again I should like to go towards the sun to make it worthwhile.

Hope Don’s visit of to-day goes off well. Fancy the clocks going on next week. Seems too near winter for that but can always do with a bit of light in the evenings.

June’s mum has not been too well, and has to see a specialist in a few weeks. Poor old Uncle Will has had another stroke and is in a very bad way. I gather that Aunt at West Ealing is also a bit groggy again, so altogether the general health this end is not so good at the moment.

We hope you are both well and looking forward to that first sign of good spring weather. No more from this end for the time being, but thanks once again for your news and regards love from us all. 

*The only way to read this comment is ‘only one useless female’, and to conclude that he rates June’s intelligence/practical ability as that of a child – which is in line with what he says about his mother, too. No man should ever get married if this is what he believes, and Alec certainly never should have; his contributions to the household are made grudgingly, if at all, and he seems to derive no pleasure whatsoever from his family or his home – it’s all just a monstrous conspiracy to stop him having any fun.

**Outstanding parenting!


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