Sunday 6th January, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks again for weekly letters, received Saturday this week, no doubt due to snow. Did not see the efforts from the girls last time, but gather they were good. Note your Xmas arrangements and the quiet time went satisfactorily.

Re: boots, I still use the pair you gave me (Wellingtons), but wearing them to the office is very bad on the feet – usually takes the skin off the heels however well padded in the sock line. I had to do just that in the early part of the week as the snow was so high, but on Friday I put on some overshoes over my ordinary shoes and found that walking was so much easier, and of course no trouble to the heels. Wellington boots at best are never a good fit, and doubling the trousers to fit in the tops does them no good either.

Snow inside the garage door gone now, and just a wet smear or two. We have had no further falls for some time, but that which is already down is proving a nuisance. Our road even now is six inches deep in / on top of frozen stuff. Cars have the greatest difficulty in getting up over the top. I saw one in the week stopped halfway up, and each time he tried to start (about twenty attempts) his back wheels just whizzed round and he dropped back a yard. In the end he got right back to the bottom and had to have another run at it. That is the secret – if you can get a good run up in third, and can control the car from sliding sideways, you can make the top. If anything approaches from the other direction doing the same you are in a spot of bother, or if there is a parked car sticking out. All we had was one track made by car wheels right in the middle of the road for both up and down traffic. I had three successful trips up the hill yesterday, and each time had to lose way a bit to let cars past. Of course once you stop you have had it. All other roads are pretty clear. This morning first thing a bulldozer arrived to clear snow from the hill, but after about ten minutes they gave it up as a bad job.

Sorry you have not got the premium bonds up, but note that the Pools did produce this week. Not a bad offer to pay part of the stake, if this is a permanent arrangement for the whole of the season I should accept too, or is it the sprat?*

Getting near to the time when we shall have finished with trips to West Drayton. Only another ten days now. We are planning to go to number 17 next Saturday to do one or two odd jobs.

Yes it is amazing that Christopher starts school next week, time certainly seems to flash in some respects. It has however seemed a long two years or so from the time Susan went to school. Carol of course now straining at the leash. With luck we may get her in after Easter but if not, it will be September.**

Good news of the horse then. Increased order from the grocer for sugar these days then.

You have me mystified about Don and his requiring everything new – full stop [sic]. What now, a new house??

You seem to have had a worse lot of snow then we have had. Your garage must have been in a bit of a mess. Three feet down deep down the drive too, would have buried the horse has he been lying down. Pity there were nine people in church last Sunday night. Had one less arrived the choir would have outnumbered the congregation. Glad your ringers “Do” went well. Not a bad muster at eleven. Sorry that Alec Parker missed it and also Les Garland on account of Mrs Garland having been taken to hospital. I hope things are alright again there. Glad you remember the seagulls. What was the reaction?

We did not stop up for the New Year – long time since I did so. Do I gather you are helping Mrs Marshall to feed the fowls?

A very gradual stop and start thaw has been taking place for a couple of days which has slightly improved things. Light indications of rain have appeared on the windows for a while while I have been typing this letter, but they seem to have stopped now. I think the temperature must be a little above freezing. Every now and then you have to get back to the weather for one reason or another. Can imagine Roy Hewitt having a lot of difficulty getting about and doubt if he attempts to go outdoors. Should not let Mum out delivering the mags without a St. Bernard. Then if you provide the little barrel that goes in front you can both go.

We have not suffered from shortage of food during the blizzard. Perhaps the quality of some veg is a bit poor, I do not know. We have had milk and bread up to the usual quantities. Milk has been a little late on occasions, and also papers late and missing all together on three days. After all the latter are not essential so no worries there. We went out at our usual early hour to do the Saturday shopping (despite the difficulty with the car on the hill) and found practically no one in Fine Foods supermarket. We were told by one assistant that there had been a rush on food in the week and they had had a rush comparable with Christmas – of people laying in stocks of food in case supplies were cut off due to the snow. The assistant said also she thought a lot of people had mortgaged their rent to do this and could expect the rent and to take it out of the knocker next week.

Glad you like the homemade wines (in principal) as I think they are better than the commercial wines because they are lighter and less bitter. For most commercial products I think one has to acquire a taste for them, but with homemade wines that taste accepts instantly one particular type of wine and rejects most most others***. I myself like a semi dry wine with just a hint of sweetness where as I do not go much for the very dry or very sweet. Again I prefer the white wines to the red.

You will be looking for a sub for this two and a half percent. If you find a suitable source let me know. We have heard nothing on this score as yet. Usually the rates go up, there would be no point in altering them if it were not so.

Carol has a little catarrh and June not too good with tonsillitis, otherwise all reasonably well this end. Yesterday was the day of the Sunday school Christmas party. June and I took them down in the car at 3:30 p.m. and collected them at 6 p.m.. I think they had a good time. Teachers etc. looked a bit fed up at the time or went home though. I shouldn’t wonder either. Two are bad enough, but all that mob at once – phew. Susan and Carol have been invited to a party next Saturday at a house a little way down the road. Susan says she does not want to go as it is usually dull, she only wants to go to parties that are in Sunday School or held in flats. (How sophisticated can you get?) Carol is all for it.

Have you built your sleigh yet? I note mother walking in other people’s footprints, but would be much easier for her if you could put her on the sleigh and tow her out for shopping. Good for you on the mince pies. I do not remember having any myself this year. Can always eat a mince pie.

You might like to keep the W.R. mag with my transfer as I have not seen it yet.

This colouring of the snowman is quite original. We do not see anything like that here. Would like to know how they do it.

I expect Alec Parker will make his fortune baking bread locally. With luck he may keep a lot of his customers.

Peter is out of work again****. He came over on Thursday and we had our side way of snow and did a couple of jobs he also very kindly brought over some small offcuts of wood for the boiler. At long last we are getting towards the end of the wood that was present here when we moved in. This has all come from dismantled summer house, dismantled shed etc. and sundry bits and pieces that were scattered about the place.

Well I hope you are both well apart from the cold that is. Must call it a day again and close wishing you all the best for now and love from us all.

*i.e. the ‘sprat to catch a mackerel

**Why have children if all you want to do is get rid of them? I’ve never understood. June’s sole focus was her housework – even in her last coherent days, all she cared about was cleaning and tidying and watering plants – and children, husband and everything else were simply barriers to her doing that to her satisfaction. What a shame to have so little of value in her life that cleaning was all that ever mattered.

***What a load of pretentious old bollards!

****Not at all surprised, he could be really argumentative – in fact, downright bolshie at times.


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