Sunday 10th February, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks for yours of 5th February. Very newsy and plenty of points to answer.

Thank goodness I can say that there has been a vast improvement in the weather this end although according to the news bulletins you have been having more snow your end. I can look down the garden from the dining room window and and see that the snowline has retreated to the level of the end of the garage and in the front garden there is practically no snow left. The grass has reappeared somewhat flattened but a welcome green. Friday night the streets were awash with water which has seeped out of the mountains of snow at the kerbside. (Sorry for Friday read Wednesday – I did not go out on Friday.) However since then it has alternatively frozen and thawed with a slight progress each day so that the amount is now less.

Since writing last we have had no alarms in regard to plumbing, and the house has felt generally warmer. Of course the electricity has mainly been up to the normal supply and so has the gas pressure. One colleague at Liverpool Street has not been so lucky as he has had no water from the main since 26th January although people in the other houses in his street are o.k. He is getting a little impatient and has written a stinking letter to local water company.

The girls colds have given us a bit of trouble this week as they have had coughs. We dropped them down to the doctor on Tuesday night and he prescribe the usual jollop (including penicillin) so we went round to to the chemist who stays open late in Eastcote and got the stuff. I must say they are a lot better now and we had no trouble from them in the last couple of nights although we heard the odd cough or two. June is pretty well and I am just shaking off a slight cold. You might say the decks are now cleared for some nice spring weather.

I had not heard that the slope from the Church down was a good run for toboggans. In old Pugh’s day he would have chased the lot away, but perhaps the present man is more tolerant. It is a silly place to use anyway as I would say there is little fun in tobogganing on a road surface even if it is well covered with snow.

With regard to prospects for next Winter, I have no doubt that your best bet is timber to beat the coal shortage. It is probably easier to acquire odd bits of wood for cutting up where you are and you have plenty of room to store it. What you will do about the potatoes etc. I do not know. It would not have been any good bringing them into this house even if we had the room, as most of the unused rooms were as cold as outside. Aston could have got part of his money back by charging a couple of coppers per gallon for water he supplied these neighbours. Come to think of it the way to beat the cold economically is for one householder to keep water circulating in his house by having all possible heating appliances on and for his neighbours to share the cost of his heating. Meanwhile those neighbours would turn their water off at the main and drain tanks. In this way they would avoid bursts. A bit communistic you say, maybe, but I think it would work.*

Remarks about T.S.S.A. and Guild noted, but I feel that the balance of staff will increasingly be in the higher income groups, and the T.S.S.A. will have to march with the times or go out of business. In any case through sheer weight of numbers they have the whip hand at the moment. For all that the key to the situation is what the N.U.R. decide to do.

Car again o.k. this weekend. I am finding it a lot easier to start then I did shortly after the work Peter did on it. I expect by now that you have got your car back into the garage again as a regular routine. Not much of a joke keeping it outdoors this weather.

We went over to see Mr and Mrs Baker yesterday at number 17 and they mentioned that they had had the cream and had written back. We found Mr Baker in a very poor condition indeed. He was fighting for his breath and could hardly speak. when we arrived he was leaning over an armchair and had difficulty in moving. Later he improved a bit and was able to help Peter get some water in can from the tap. He tells me he has not been able to eat anything [illegible] complaining of a pain in his stomach. It seems he has had no sleep for about a week and has been in the position of having to get out of bed in the early hours to get his breath. From what we saw and heard we thought doctor should see him and with Mrs Baker’s agreement we phoned him and ask him to call. He had not arrived before we left so we do not know what he had to say. We noticed that his feet had swollen in just the same manner as Miss Baker’s did, and if for the same reason this means dropsy. Altogether it is very distressing, and the need would seem to be some medical attention and the onset of better weather. The former can be provided no doubt, but it is a bit early for the latter.

Some game with the hearing aid then. Glad you have got a replacement that is superior to the original. Fancy having to turn down the T.V. Must be a good make this time. By the way if you have any old ones lying about waiting for the dustman, do not throw them away as I can make use of them. That is old ones that you have definitely finished with. What do they charge for phoning to London nowadays? I pretty penny I should think.

We have not had a water cart going around this end to my knowledge. Had no idea they still kept such things. It seems that the Clevedon Council are well provided with snow clearance apparatus according to papers and have in fact been able to lend men and machines to neighbouring councils. I understand they hired them rather than lent and which will help the rates a bit, but I expect you still have to pay through the nose for it later on.

Had a laugh about Mutt and Jeff. Should have thought Mutt (presumably Cornish) would have had more excuses than ever for staying indoors busy doing nothing like the popular song.

Good idea to leave gate partly open for postman etc. We have no difficulty like that as we did not have the accumulation of snow that you had.

We saw something on TV news about a flock of geese in the West Country. Don’t blame them for getting out. I expect a few people will contemplate emigrating to Australia or New Zealand. I think the latter is the better prospect as the people are a little more friendly.

Do not stay up for ‘That Was The Week That Was’ but I did see the start of last Saturday’s, 31st January. It seems quite a good program. Hear this week of the footballer who saw his manager and told him that has the pools panel had given his team the win that day, he was entitled to his bonus for a win. The manager replied that he had no claim as he was not in the team anyway.

Had a trying day with the girls yesterday. They were about as naughty as they could possibly be. Hard to put a name to it but there it is. Hope they are a little better today. Have not seen our new neighbours for some days but hear them about occasionally. It is not very sociable weather, a question of up drawbridge and retire for the night.

Not much news from the work front – will see if the February mag has been issued yet. Have not found out which day it is published and usually look for it about the end of the second week in the month.

Finished the last of my Fig and Tangerine in the week. I have given most of it away. Have now two gallons of wine untouched which I must try sometime. Both have deposits at the bottom, and one of them has one about 1-inch thick. Should have been racked long ago of course, but never got round to it.

Well there it is for this week. Hope you can both report a clean bill of health. Love to you once again from us all. 

*Or maybe everyone just has more efficient heating and water storage arrangements of their own?


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