Wednesday 21st November, 1962

[Continued from Tuesday 20th November, 1962]

Nothing much to report since yesterday except that the weather is colder in one sense, being raw and damp. Heels started to cut hedge alongside ours but soon gave up. He is very much in arrears owing to being away about six weeks in September and October.

Wonder how all your colds are today. Should take first opportunity Alec of having injection against flu. This early start to winter does not look very promising – may be wrong of course and hope I am but it certainly is early for such bad conditions.

Have just noticed there is a football match on T.V. this evening so you can guess where I shall be. Mum has gone to T.W.G. (No ice cream today.) Could hope it might be something hot.

Well no more this time. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. Hope colds will be gone by the time you write next.

Mum and Dad. 


Tuesday 20th November, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for your letters and drawings from the girls received this morning usual post. Very sorry to hear you are suffering from colds and catarrh – hope they will soon clear up but the weather at the moment is not very helpful. It has been bitterly cold here for several days with the keen north-east wind coming in from the Bristol Channel accompanied at times with rain and sleet. We have not actually had snow but on Sunday we could see some had fallen on the Mendips. According to TV London had its coldest night on Saturday in November for ten years. The cold snap has come in too suddenly for people to get acclimatised to it. Mum and I keep in out of it as much as possible but have to get out most days for something or other.

You had rain on Sunday by your letter. We had rain and sleet early but this tailed off and we had to put up with the cold wind rest of day. Good job it was not the Parade Sunday – would have made a difference to the attendance. Anyhow we do hope you will be able to shake off those colds soon.

Regarding increases in salary as I understand the position you will receive a total increase of 9% over the salary operating prior to April 1st last which includes the 3% already being enjoyed.

Noted some of your geraniums have had a touch of frost – these plants take it quicker than anything else. Mum has already put ours away in greenhouse where I now have the heater on again. The outdoor chrysanths are over of course and dahlias. Gardens generally looking a bit of a mess now. Yes we are on the track of ‘Mr Chevins’ now. As stated previous latter we went into Weston last Thursday and called at a couple of places. Neither had the article on hand but Hillmans (who have showrooms just outside the railway goods yard) said they could get what we wanted within about a fortnight. They asked to hold the pamphlet for reference and would return it when they have the firebrick. These people were most obliging about the matter. Will report result in due course. We  did not do much running about in Weston but bought paper, paint etc. for sitting room. The paper had to be ordered so we shall pick it up later.

Got home about 12:45 p.m. when Mum prepared dinner and we settled down for the afternoon. At 4:15 p.m. ratatat at the door. Mr and Mrs Richings had arrived from Weston unexpectedly. Fortunately mum had bought a cake at Weston which could be put on the table but we did not tell them that we had been to Weston that morning or that the cake was bought there. They stopped until about 7:30 p.m. First time we had seen them since August. Now we have to go down there this coming Thursday when incidentally we can pick up the paper ordered last week. One of the Bristol Work Study staff had told him of your move to Liverpool Street and they were of course interested in all the news of all of you. Michael and his wife have a flat at Reading and he drives an old van to his school at a village outside Reading. Apparently he has learnt to drive and passed test first time otherwise his wife would have had to drive him there daily before starting her work at the University library and of course fetching him in the late afternoon.

Richings tells me they have received a circular from Bristol telling them they must not in future accept gifts from traders at Christmas or at any other time and where they have been in the habit of receiving such gifts they must contact the firm or firms and discreetly inform them of the ruling. Moreover no Christmas cards will be issued by the various departments as hitherto. It is also now Western Railway and not Western Region. Wonder if there has been any such direction from the E.R. management?

Yes that was a lovely incident of Susan and her school teacher. Not many of the latter would have played ball with her like that. Carol too had a lovely time and looking forward to her own schooldays. Better this way than some I can remember when mothers had to drag crying children to school. Can remember this from my own schooldays seeing other boys and girls being dragged along and getting a hiding along with it en route.

Glad to hear June has renewed driving licence – keep off icy roads June. The trouble comes when you put brakes on too quickly. Have had some of this myself on the top of Failand early mornings when en route to Bristol. Fortunately for me there has been no other traffic about. I’m sure though you want to get on with it so that you can get around the local district for shopping and the school. Our neighbour (Bushell) is still risking his neck by going out on his own quite often. The police will I’m afraid catch up with him one day.

Noted no more news of number 17 Eccleston Road but that the auditor has called at number 155 High Street.

Expect you would have heard by now if the E.R. sell off their spirits and wine at Christmas. Incidentally I wonder if the W.R. have not stopped this along with the other  recent restrictions. Nice for Pauline to be able to get a bottle at reduced cost. Makes a difference sometimes whether you have one or two bottles.

Yes I too could see Ted Caple stuttering et cetera when tackling the offending motorist. It is an offence to cross the double white line under any circumstances and the police will prosecute anyone caught doing so. I have seen reports of such cases in papers from time to time. A couple of years ago when coming back from Ruislip via the A40 a motorist passed two or three cars (by crossing the double white line) on the Oxford bypass but at this point there is a mobile police cabin and the policeman on duty spotted him and immediately rushed out of his cabin and stopped him. Two or three cars following (including us) then pulled up because we could not pass the individual being questioned without crossing the double white line. Another policeman then came out and waved us by. We never saw the other motorist again.

Sorry to hear you have lost one of your succulents. Must see if can replace later. Mrs Richings brought Mum up one or two on Thursday including another bridal-wreath the original of which we lost by the frost last winter.

Decorating after New Year’s Eve certainly – could not tackle that before. Hope it is warmer then than now. Mum’s Christmas cacti are beginning to show signs of flowering – a very small red tip at the end of the leaves.

Buses still run from the Old Church but all run direct to The Triangle so if we want to go to Hill Road it means walking to Wilcox’s Garage. It is a silly arrangement and I hear it may be altered. Certain of the Bristol double-deckers now run  right through to the Old Church and thence back to Bristol.

Thank you in anticipation of the E.R. magazine and reasons noted for non-receipt this week. I let Pope (St Andrews Drive) see the October one because he has met Vincent who was mentioned in the mag as having been transferred from the E.R. to Bristol W.R. Accountancy Dept. Pope is the man finishing up on December 1st. The latest increase would not affect his superannuation because the average would not be affected in a period of 40 years.

Yes the plots of land around this district are for houses only and the two for the quarry site will I think be looking straight down Tennyson Avenue – some outlook!

Wonder how you got on on Sunday afternoon with your visitors? Expect you would rather have been on your own with the colds you all had. It generally happens that way though. Hope the children were on their best behaviour. With this weather you are having the benefit of your new gas fireplace. I take it first impressions have been confirmed. It was certainly doing its job when we were there.

Well I seem to have exhausted most of the news again. We had a couple of nice days here last week that I pulled up all the runner beans sticks and stripped off the haulms. Since then I have sown three boxes of sweet pea seed in greenhouse and I noticed a box of lettuce sown several weeks ago is now showing through. Have picked up two or three more hampers of Bramley Seedling apples and stored them in garage. Incidentally have you examined the Blenheim Orange apple since we left? We are eating some of ours and they are lovely. Should  however keep until Christmas if you prefer them then.

Norman Baker is coming along this week to put fence right for the horse to come back. Will do good if he will eat out the thickest part of grass for a week or two.

[Continued on Wednesday 21st November, 1962]

Sunday 18th November 1962 to

[Incomplete letter, first page missing] Alec to his parents:

Good for old Ted Caple. I can imagine him tackling the chap in the restaurant spitting and sputtering, and generally tearing off a strip. I am sure the culprit now wishes he had accepted the rebuke and let Caple go on his way. There are a number of motorists who overtake on the double white lines. As far as I can see most of them in the faster cars do it. They expect their superior speed to get them out of trouble. I do not know if the police have made any prosecutions for that particular offence.

I think you are wise not to do your decorating until after Christmas. I take it this will mean after New Year’s Eve as well.

I lost one of my succulents last weekend. It is one like I gave you in the big pot. It is a very watery type of plant and I think that it got very dry up on the pelmet. It eventually heeled over and flopped down the side of the pot. I give all the cacti about a teaspoonful of water each week, but the succulents a lot more. The Xmas cactus also gets a good drop.

Is there a bus which now runs to the West End. I note you cannot get to the Six Ways by direct bus. Quite like the old times when the nearest was at Wilcox Garage. Whatever do double deckers want to get out your way for. Presumably if there are two passengers and one is a non-smoker all tastes are catered for.

I suppose the plots of land in the quarry and by the church are all private houses. It would be bad luck if someone stuck a factory down at the end of the Avenue. That would make old Mogg sit up.

I am afraid there is not a lot of original news from this end either this week. We are expecting some friends of June to call this afternoon to see us, but with the colds about they will be a bit of a strain. Two children are involved, and they are not particularly well behaved. Hope as they grow older they will be a little less exuberant.

We only nipped out to the shops yesterday for half an hour or so and were back inside in the warm.

Well there it is for now. Hope you are both now fit and keeping in the warm. Love from us all.

Wednesday 14th of November

Leonard to the family (continued from Tuesday 13th November):

Continuing from yesterday have now finished off the runner bean sticks off the second row and leave them up against the hedge to dry off. Not such a nice day – no sun – but very warm around midday. Have now decided to go to Weston Thursday when shall try and get fire brick. Also have to get paper, paint etc. for sitting room although operations have been postponed until after Christmas.

A letter from Geoff this morning says the 6% increase is to be based on salaries and wages that were in operation before the last 3% rise. The B.T.C.C. save a few pounds by this arrangement. It seems that the 9% rise from the two Awards is calculated from the previous rates of pay. Anyhow I do not suppose anybody is going to make a fuss about that. Very pleased to see the Fords management are sticking to their guns and will not re-employ the 70 troublemakers.

Any further progress at number 17 Eccleston Road yet? Hope both Mr and Mrs Baker are keeping alright these days also Peter* and Pauline – sorry we did not see any of them on our last visit but time was rather short. Perhaps next visit we may see them at Eccleston Road.

Geoff sent on the usual wine list for us to have a go at for Christmas. Does E.R. do the same as W.R. in this respect? Quite a saving by getting a few bottles from that source.

Ted Caple told me the other day he had had a bit of fun with another motorist in the Stroud area. Apparently this other individual passed Caple by crossing a double white line on a bend and later on the journey he caught up with him at some restaurant and tackled him about it. The man whose wife was with him poo-pooed the incident so Caple said he would report him. He did so and after some weeks had a reply from the police thanking him for his public spirited action and saying they had interviewed the man traced by the car number who had denied the occurrence and was supported by his wife in the denial.  Police said they felt the man was in the wrong by the way his wife gave her information but it was not considered desirable to prosecute. The police finished up by saying that they thought the action taken would prevent another case arising by this individual. As a matter of fact some individual passed us over the double white line on our way back from Ruislip a fortnight ago but he was going so fast did not even get his number. He was lucky as there was nothing coming in the opposite direction at the time but there well could have been.

Well I think this is about the lot once more. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for our two dear little girls.

Mum and Dad. 

*In the course of preparing this blog post we learned of the death of Peter Baker on 1 March 2021 – yes, it took eighteen months to get this information. Peter was the last family member of his generation.

Tuesday 13th November, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Well here we are again with another week gone and your letter duly received this morning – many thanks for same and a budget of news. Weather not bad here Saturday and Sunday – sunny at times but inclined to be raw and cold. It was fine for the annual 11th November Parade and you will remember many in the past have been very wet.

Noted you had a shopping expedition to Harrow – not spending the 6% already I should hope. By the way I hear that the three months’ arrears on the last increase has now been agreed for the ‘Out of Categories’. Of the latest Awards someone living in St Andrews Drive and in the first stage of Out of Category at Bristol District Office is very fortunate as he retires on December 1st. Will get the extra on his gratuity but no help for superannuation. If negotiations had been a long-drawn-out and a decision not reached for a month or two and then the award only agreed say as from the 1st of January he would have been right out of it.

Your remarks noted re: your old neighbour you are probably correct in regard to his movements but it gives him an opportunity to look into see you all now and again.

Yes the raising of your grass levels must make a big difference to the drainage of rainwater and also keep your plot fairly dry underfoot. Ours seems to soak away all right except during continuous spells of rain when as you know there is an accumulation in the gullies in the field. The pond has a drop of water in it still but this will disappear unless we get more rain soon. These last two days have been lovely. A sharp white frost Monday morning and a lesser one this morning with two sunny and warm days helping the autumn along as you say. I agree this is the really dreary time of year but once get past the shortest day everybody looks forward to the spring although it is still then some way off. Glad you are keeping free of some of the fog – this is the worst condition of the lot.

Fancy the girls not liking Mummy having an evening out without them. Interesting to read your version of the firework display. We are glad they enjoyed themselves. We had some good times here back along down in the field with a big bonfire as well and all the children – or most of them – from the Avenue in to share the fun.

The trouble on the promenade on the Fifth resulted in £70 worth of damage as you will see on front page of ‘Mercury’ this week. Nobody actually caught at it consequently the cost will go go on the rates. The Teddy Boys have caused trouble in Clevedon before. They come from Bristol but since the Saturday night dances have been cancelled it has kept some of the rough element away.

Thanks for leaflet re: Chevin fire grate. We have tried two other places or rather visited two of the previous places again but still without result and must try in Weston when we go in. Did not go there yesterday as anticipated but went round the town again. Thank you for rescuing the broken pieces of the firebrick June. We may be glad of them yet. Pity to light fire without the protection of firebrick. We have a loose lever we think will do for the handling of the various pieces when hot – proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Thought you would be interested in the cutting from paper re: screens for use in connection with projectors. Your pictures were quite satisfactory on the light-coloured wall but whether there would be an improvement with the screen could only be proved by using one. The cutting may however be useful for reference.

What a disgraceful affair on the 9.05 a.m. Paddington. As you say it would never have happened years ago* but nowadays anything can happen at any time anywhere. Such things take weeks of planning by the men concerned but in this case they had overlooked the ganger walking the line. Other arrangements will now be made for paying out wages etc. but whatever they are the clever ones will get round it somehow.

Quite understand you may not be able to come down on a Friday next month but Saturday the 15th prox. allright so far as we are concerned. Let us know in due course time of arrival Yatton and I will meet train. Your E.R. magazine for October quite good and is now going around down here before letting Don have it later.

Yes our T.V. set give us a number of minor troubles but we use it very extensively – most nights from about 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. continuously and sometimes in the afternoon as well so I think we get our money’s worth out of it. The egg-shaped picture we were getting after the visit last Monday I put right myself by opening up the back and trying a knob or two. Fortunately it worked and we are back to normal again.

Mum did very well at Wall’s ice cream depot in Gloucester and I had more ice cream and I should have had at one sitting – couldn’t waste it. (No fridge at ‘Devonia’).

What a delightful story of Susan and her teacher. I am sure the latter had as much a kick out of it as did Susan and Carol. No wonder Carol wanted to stop with all those nice things to see and play with. Should like to have seen Susan’s face when she read the reply from teacher. What will she think of next? Her brain is very active.

As you know apart from odd jobs in the garage and greenhouse I have not done much here for several weeks but the weather these last couple of days has helped me to get outdoors and today I pulled up the first row of runner bean haulms and stored sticks, what remained of them. After dinner I started on the second row but sun weakened and a bit of a northeast wind arose so I cleared off into greenhouse until about 3 p.m. when I packed up for the day. A few days of this will soon see a difference. A letter from Don says he put in his broad beans on the 21st ulto. but they are not up yet. From what I can hear both Heel and Cornish have got theirs in also.

Re: grate again I have not fixed it to half and do not intend to do so as I think it will be quite alright as it is – must wait and see.

Our next door neighbour (Bushell) still busy on his verandah etc. but I suspect he goes out occasionally in his car on his own without L plates attached. He will do it once too often I’m afraid. Have not heard when he takes next test. Have you had any more driving June? Not very nice weather for it really at this time of year.

[Letter continues Wednesday 14th November, 1962.]

*Leonard is completely wrong here. Not only would it have happened years ago, but it also did. In fact – although Leonard’s details are rather sketchy – from what we know there are distinct similarities to the very first such murder on the railways in England almost a hundred years before. The notion that people were nicer to each other in the past is a completely false one usually arising in people who have had relatively privileged upbringings – which Leonard, despite his father’s disadvantaged start in life, did have.

Sunday 11th November, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thank you for your letters duly received Friday. Sorry you had a late letter last week. Must ask the postwoman this end what happened.

You talk about rain, but we have had our share of it this weekend. Yesterday it was very overcast all day, and when not actually raining there seems to be rain in the wind. We went to Harrow on a shopping spree. It was very wet over there all the time and we were glad to get back home. Glad you have been able to do a little work in the garage. I assume that you are both pretty well recovered from your cold/flu.

I do not know what Eric Benn has to come to London for. I think that generally they work in their own regions, but when there is a lot of work about they probably ensure that the biggest and most important jobs are covered by the senior men, and step up the junior men in the regions to take charge (temporarily) of the lesser work.

As you say I imagine that all your tanks have had a filling or two during the last week or so. Pity you have no vast storage area, as all this water which goes to waste in the winter could well be required in the summer. In a garden the size of ours we are well rid of it. In fact now, the water does not lie about at all. With the elevation sometime previously of the left-hand lawn, and the recent elevation of the right hand lawn (bracket in the back garden), anything that falls goes straight through. There is only one patch where water tends to collect, and that is under the swing where the girls have scraped the turf away and compressed the earth beneath. As I look out of the window into the garden it is a miserable outlook this morning. The wind is blowing the leaves about all over the lawns, the grass of which is now very long. If unchecked it will hide an elephant by the spring. All the plants seem to be growing fairly well though.

Talking about whether I suppose we have nothing really to complain about as the days are ticking away and we have had no bad weather to speak of. Even fog has left us alone for awhile. I suppose if you look at it this way there are only six weeks to the shortest day. This to me is always a depressing time of the year, but this year by virtue of the better weather is less depressing than most.

When June has an evening out (which is seldom) I always get ructions from the girls. They are so used to being taken out with Mummy every time Mummy goes out that they cannot understand it when she wants to go out on her own. I can usually sort them out however.

It is certainly amazing how Susan took to her glasses. I am afraid she has now got to the stage of putting them down anywhere, and is too lazy to go and find them before she starts to read again.

We had the usual firework display this end. Auntie Pauline was here on the Monday and when I came up the road they were all watching the fire on the field which had been lit sometime earlier. While I was having my tea they let a few of their fireworks off in the field, but it got a bit congested and the fire died down early so we finished off in our own garden. One thing about letting them off in the field is that the usual after Firework Night debris is missing from the garden.* The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and Carol was quite excited.

Bad about the Teddy Boys on the prom. Do you get much trouble with them? Yes I thought the wine good. Will have to try some again later on. I may go to local doctor for flu injection but the E.R. do not give injections. I have dropped a hint or two but nothing so far done.

Sorry you are having trouble with the fire brick. If you cannot get one let us know and we will see what can be done this end. In any case June has collected up the three pieces of the old fire brick which you can have (at a convenient time) either as a pattern, or for use. I am enclosing the makers’ pamphlet which you should keep. We did not have the little lever for lifting the ash pit front as shown in the instructions. It was not left to us by the previous owner. You may have one or may like to get one to save fingers getting burnt. We should have got one, as using the fingers one has to be a bit slippy, and in so doing, we often knocked the front off. As you might expect it is then out of the frying pan into the fire as the whole of the front gets very hot, and replacing is a longer job than adjusting. Incidentally I do not think that the exact size of the fire brick is critical. If you have one which is the approximate size it would probably do. Bit of luck it was an exact fit to the grate (fireplace). Mum used a bit of elbow grease then. I am glad it is going to be of some use. Have you fixed it in, or only placed in position?

Thank you for the cutting by the way. I wonder if this is all manufacturers’ propaganda? I would certainly like to try a screen to see if there is in fact any difference. We were advised by some friends to hang up a white sheet, but it was difficult to keep folds from appearing in it which distorted the picture. On the whole a slightly off-white/pink wall does very well.

What a game gardening in the bad weather. I can imagine you putting in the beans standing on a piece of board. What a difference from the conditions when normally lifting potatoes.

Shall have to fix up with you a date for me to come down just before Christmas. I am afraid it will not be a Friday this time, but probably a Saturday. At first thoughts, Saturday December 15th might be the best from my point of view, but will confirm. How does that date suit you?

Bill Raine can hardly be called a novice now that he has won the prize for two years running. He has obviously found the right stuff to feed his plants on. Why not try some for your tomatoes and beans?

Note the news regarding your neighbours and their activities. Your set seems to be giving you an awful lot of minor troubles. Does Bell still do any servicing, or does he send one of the men round? I believe a chap by the name of Fortune came once.

Good news of the 6% rise. We may even get it ourselves although my immediate chief, Cook, said he would believe it when he saw it. It appears they were most reluctant to give us the last one.

Hi-jinks on the 9:05 a.m. Paddington in the week then. You never know these days where you are going to be coshed and in what walk of life. I do not expect the guard thought that was how his day would end. It seems the thieves are getting bolder than ever. A raid of that nature would have been unthinkable twenty or thirty years ago. The thieves were obviously well informed and equipped with working timetables (hinted at in the Press) but as so often happens the unexpected put paid to their chances.**

So Dad has had his ice cream then. I have seen Walls factory in Acton. In fact there are two some distance apart. One deals with the meat side, bacon, sausages etc., and the other the ice cream. They are both at North Acton, and only a stone’s throw from Old Oak Common Yard.

But referring again to Mom’s letter, I am glad the fireplace looks good in your front room. Bronze does not always go with any colour scheme. You will find if you set it for all night burning that it will keep going all night, but of course little heat is given out under those conditions and do not expect to find the room warm when you get down.

By the way, another Susanism. The week she wrote a letter to her school teacher Miss Smith. She asked her sister Carol could come to school. We did not see the letter, but we did see the reply she got (all very correct and formal) to the effect that if she brought her around at 1:30 p.m. on Friday she could stop until 1:45 p.m. provided Mummy collected her then. When June went and at 1:45 p.m. she did not want to come away, and kept going back. It seems she covered a lot of ground in that 15 minutes. She saw Miss Dix the headmistress, and the Wendy House, and the Sweet Shop, and all the things that Susan had told her about. She was also allowed to sit with the class for a short while before coming home. She has an invitation to come again and stop a bit longer. The teacher told June that she had been very good, and they seemed pleased with her. Of course it will not be long now before she will be going anyway.

Well there it is for the time being. I have no further news of any note so will close. Hope you are both well as we are this end. Love from us all.

*And he has the brass neck to call me lazy! What an imposition, to have to clear up after something which only happens once a year and makes your children happy! Good job he didn’t have to do the washing-up after Christmas lunch or we’d never have heard the last of it!

**Unfortunately I’ve been unable to pin this reference down as it happened so close to the date of the ‘Great Train Robbery’ in 1963 that all search results are completely swamped by that. I would have to make an individual search of newspaper archives by date, and unfortunately I haven’t got either the time or the energy to do that at the moment.

Wednesday 7th November, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letter received this morning with all the latest news. Expect weather was cause of late dispatch this week but yesterday (Tuesday) was the limit here. It rained continuously all day and the atmosphere was overpowering. Much better today and I felt able to do a little work in garage.

Yes we both enjoyed our visit to you and if not exactly restful it was certainly a change and of course nice to see you all again. Note you had another visitor almost immediately after our departure and I expect he was glad to see you and bring you up-to-date with the news from Weston. I’m surprised he is still called upon to deal with BBC matters in the London area but perhaps his successor is not yet in full control. I see in last night’s Bristol paper that a Bristol BBC engineer named Hawkes was killed in a car accident in Bristol a couple of nights ago.

Pauline too has visited you again. I’m sure the girls were pleased to have her there for a few hours – perhaps gave mother a bit of a break. Hope she is keeping well.

A really good idea for using the old tank – it will serve in turn as a collector for compost stuff. If I remember rightly the other container was practically worn out. All the tanks here as you may guess are full to capacity after so much rain.

Glad to hear June had an evening out with Delphine and hope they both enjoyed themselves. What did Carol think she was going to get then? Or was she really off colour? Susan too with an upset tummy after twisting herself around too many times. They will do it. So glad to hear how she took to the glasses. It could have been a most difficult time getting her initiated to them. Once taken to however she must realise herself she can see and read much better. It is going to make a tremendous difference to her at school to and I’m sure she will make headway now even more so then hitherto.

Yes June we are sure you must have been busy after our departure especially with the washing. Could you not get any help from Carol? And of course Susan as she was home for the week.

Plenty of bonfires and fireworks down here these last few nights and I understand there was a bit of a to-do along the prom Monday night when the police were involved. Teddy Boys were at the root of the trouble.

Glad the cherry-with-orange wine satisfactory – on your recommendation I tried some today and agree it is quite nice. Hope it does the trick with the catarrh this winter. By the way have you arranged for an anti-flu injection from your local doctor? June and told us on Tuesday before we left that the E.R. do not have their senior staff dealt with as on the W.R. but in your case I should certainly pay the doctor to give you one. Would help you through the winter.

The fire grate we brought back is a perfect fit for the front room but we are now up against a replacement for the fire brick that fits inside the front of the grate. Have tried three places in Clevedon without result and will try again when we go into Weston. If we light fire without the brick I fear the front of the grate will become permanently tarnished. Mum has cleaned it up now and it looks fine so it would be a pity to spoil it. Thank you very much for it, we must report further on our efforts to get firebrick.

I’m enclosing a cutting taken from last night’s Bristol Evening about screens for use in connection with projectors. Thought you would like to see it and maybe note suggestion for future information.

Well since writing last Tuesday week I have not done much about the place. For one thing the weather has been against outside work and it has been too cold to do much in the greenhouse or garage. Last Friday and Saturday I did manage to get in a couple of long rows of broad beans by using boards to stand on. At least half a dozen times I had to break off because of rain but eventually completed the job. Since then have picked most of the runner beans and shelled them for drying for seed. These are now spread out on the staging in greenhouse. All tomatoes have now been cleared out and both sets of staging reinstalled. Firewood to has had to be cut and chopped up. Impossible to cut lawns yet and grass is longer than I like to see it. Am wondering if shall be able to have another go at it this season.

Our next door neighbour (Bushell) is building a porch outside his French Windows. the framework was already there but he has had to fit glazing bars and renew cross pieces of wood and buy and fit glass. it will take some time yet to finish.

Not a lot of local news this week. I see Bill Raine has again secured the premier prize for chrysanthemums in the Clevedon Show. This is the second year running and he is up against experts like Mr Yandle whom I expect you remember at the Clevedon Hall Lodge some years ago. Bill I understand belongs to the Chrysanthemum Society but is only an amateur so far as growing is concerned. I saw the winning bloom last Sunday morning and it was a real beauty. Only grows one flower to a plant.

Mr Heel came round one morning when I was in garage (most unusual for him) and had a chat. Said he was feeling a lot better but still chesty following his recent illness. Have not seen Cornish (except at a distance) since we came back. Mrs Bush seems to be back in circulation again, none the worse for her drug taking incident. Had one morning in the field picking up fallers which are now spread out on floor of garage to dry off. A lot more down by now I expect.

Had to get TV people to look at set on Monday – the horizontal black line was creeping further up the picture and another had started to come down from the top. Required another valve. Now he has left the picture a little out of focus – elongated – and this can only be got up from the inside so I suppose he will have to come again.*

Good news today on the TV, Beeching has now offered 6% rise which has been accepted by the unions to date from Monday the 5th inst. No doubt it will come to the ‘Out of Categories’ later on. A letter from Geoff this morning says the reorganisation of timetables on W.R. expected to come into force for the winter of 1963.

Hope Susan and Carol enjoyed their fireworks on Monday night. We thought of them. Not bad weather here in the evening but heavy rain during morning and early afternoon.

No more this time. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for Susan and Carol.

Mum and Dad.

*For younger readers – this was even before the transistor revolution when both radios and TVs had glass valves inside. If you needed any evidence of exactly how much daily life has changed over the past sixty years, this should do the trick!

Eva to the family on the remaining half sheet of Leonard’s paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for letters. Glad you had no trouble with Susan I think left to themselves they take anything in their stride. The grate fits perfectly and needs no filling up with cement. We are going into Weston on Monday to see if we can get the fire bricks. I think it makes the room look better and certainly won’t take as much coal to keep warm as our Devon grate.

I have just made a funny mistake in the tomato chutney I’m making put in a whole lot of Pudding Spice instead of the other and later looked to see if I had all the ingredients and it said tie the spice up (I ask you) so as it was put on top of sliced apple. I managed to get most of it out.

We enjoyed the trip to Walls factory only another in the country at Acton where they do not have visitors. It was a scream we had to leave all our possessions in the coach and when we got inside had to put on a white coat and fancy silk scarf which latter we kept. Then around the building, it’s really all automation. They employ coloured men. They gave us a good tea cheese and ham sandwiches, fancy cakes and a special gateau the chef made for us then all sorts of ice cream. On leaving they presented each with a square box which rattled. On opening it at home it was another cold pack with 1/6 ice cream in it so Dad had his ice cream after all. It simply poured all the time.

Glad June had a change lots of love Mum and Dad 

Sunday 4th November, 1962

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Thanks once again for a weekly letter. Soon back to routine again. Glad you enjoyed your holiday and had a good journey home. I gathered you had some hail etc your end. Nice to know you have some Long Life beer in the house. I have not heard the story of the bag of apples etc. I suppose the girls thought you would like something to eat on the journey. Hope you will be able to find suitable uses for the stuff you were able to take back. We certainly appreciated the stuff you brought this way. I have not tried your cherry and lemon wine yet, but will take a drop before ending this letter if remember to do so.

The tank presents quite a problem now as I tackled the Rag-and-Bone man yesterday and he did not want it as it is galvanised. I have since discovered that in the week June got the local lads to clear away the logs and old gate from the back of the garage also the old dustbin full of tree cuttings. As the dustbin itself is now on the field it can stay there, and I will put the tank in its place. It will be just as good for an incinerator.

Susan still has catarrh but it is very loose. On Thursday night June had an evening out with Delphine and Carol told me she was feeling sick. We had to go through all the motions of getting ready for the event, but I think it was only a stunt to get a bit of attention while Mummy was away*. She was alright and fit as a fiddle in the morning.

Susan had a silly turn one day in the week. She turned herself round and round in the middle of the room until she was very giddy. this after a good feed did the necessary. On the brighter side, her glasses arrived on Friday. June did not make any bones about it but just put them available for her and walked out of the room. Later she walked in (with a toy as excuse) and found Susan with them on, reading away at her comics in fine style. Since then we have hardly seen her without them. She even had them on in bed last night and I had to come to an arrangement with her to leave them on the side for the morning. First thing in the morning she is out of bed, the light goes on, so do the glasses and the comic gets read.

We have had Eric Benn living with us since Wednesday night. He has been in charge of the boxing match (England v Russia) and today he is covering the church service 10:30 a.m.. I think he may be going back later today although he has not said. it is possible that he may stay until tomorrow of course but that is o.k. with us.

Well we have not done an awful lot since you went back. We have drunk all the beer so you are one up on us (four up did you say?). I must do something about the parsley later today as it is still on the coal bunker although it has been well watered.

Well I have had a taste of your cherry wine and I find it even better than previous lots. It is probably among the best you have made. I think it will have a satisfactory effect on catarrh.

Our fire is proving a good buy. Even with it on half-full we are occasionally obliged to turn it off as the room is hot enough. I am sure that when the really cold weather sets in that we shall have enough heat there.

The bonfire builders are at work in the field so I suppose we shall have another good display here again this year. We have bought a lot of fireworks for the girls so they are stocked up and ready.

Well it must be a short letter from this end this week as I seem to have exhausted the available news. Hope you both have shaken off the effect of your colds.

Love from us all till next week.

*This kid is four years old, remember. That one would need ‘a stunt to get attention’ at that age seems to indicate a failure of parenting rather than Machiavellian behaviour by a manipulative child…

Tuesday 30th October, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Well here we are again back safely at Clevedon after a very nice weekend at number 84. Thank you all very much for giving us at such an enjoyable time. Had a good run down this morning arriving Marlborough about 11 a.m. departing thence about 11:35 a.m. and reaching home 1:35 p.m.. A lovely sunny journey until we ran into a heavy storm at Box – some hailstones – and a lesser storm at Marksbury. Water had risen in the pond indicating plenty of rain at some time here since our departure last Friday. 

Mum made several purchases at Marlborough and I bought four cans of Long Life to bring home. To our surprise when unloading car we found – on top of one of our paper carriers – one of Stowells’ paper bags containing four carrots, a couple of apples an orange and a tomato evidently put there by one of the girls to ensure we did not starve on the way home. We had a good laugh over that. 

It is now 4:15 p.m. and we have had a good hot dinner and now taking easy for rest of day. So far as can be seen at the moment everything is all right this end except the grass on lawn is very long and will need early attention. Thank you very much for what we have brought back, sweet jars, wine, fireplace etc. Sorry about the tank but I really thought when we measured up on Sunday it would fit inside on back seat. I’m afraid you will have to dispose of it locally now. The fireplace is still in boot of car and will be dealt with tomorrow after we have been to Hill Road for one or two things. Nice to see you looking so well and hope Susan will soon shake off the touch of cold she had on her today. Mum and I feel much better for a visit and hope to improve now we can resume normal routine which I at least have not been able to do for several weeks. 

It has started to rain and it is so dark I think we are in for a bad spell of weather tonight. Shall picture you having a warm up by the new gas fire later. Quite a good speculation and a real room warmer.  A big improvement to the one you formally had in that room. 

Now we must hibernate for the winter and look forward to our next meeting. In the meantime I expect June will be anxious to see her father and mother settled in at number 17 Eccleston Road and the dust shaken off number 155 for good.  When we left you this morning I forgot to ask you to remember us to them, June, so will you please do this – thanks. 

Looking over the fence just now I could see Bushell putting the bricks up for the base of the glass porch he is building outside their french windows. I think he has a carpenter coming in this weekend to put up the framework so that he can put in the glass. 

Don’t think I have missed anything but it must be a short letter this week but it lets you know we got back alright and gives us the chance to send on the Mercury. 

Once again many thanks for all your kindness to us these last few days. all our love to you both and lots of kisses for our two dear little girls.

Mum and Dad

Eva to the family on the remaining one-quarter of Leonard’s paper.

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Just to say got back alright and thank you very much for a nice holiday and rest.  Now back to work, have just done the washing so far. Got some food shopping at Marlborough they have a self-service International, never seen one before. Couldn’t get home before the rain but we were right to start early. I never spotted that bag with the vegetables in it as Dad had already carried it to the car.  Good business they will be sending the bill in later. 

Thanks once again love from Mum and Dad and kisses to the girls. 

Thursday 18th October, 1962

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Am feeling a bit better tonight but more news about that later. Very sorry to upset your arrangements but I certainly do not feel able to make the journey this week hence my brief memo last night. If alright with you would try and come up next Friday but must wait for your reply before doing anything definite this end. Now for your letter. 

So sorry to hear June’s father and mother have the trouble all over again regarding the disposal of their property – what a worry for them. I wonder if it is the length of lease remaining which disturbs prospective purchasers? Noted how things are progressing at number 17 and apart from the lighting expect other work has now been put in hand. 

Re: glasses, the reason I was able to leave them off for a period was due to the fact I did not do so much clerical work in the army and the eyes had a rest.  You have had to use your eyes continuously since leaving school therefore have had to keep to glasses. It may be that Susan later on when not perhaps using her eyes so regularly can leave them off even if only for short periods*. We sincerely hope so. 

Did not drive up to Bristol because did not exactly  know where to go and got bus conductor to drop me down near the Church. In any case should have run into a busy time on the roads and was not that keen to get in too much traffic. 

I’m not surprised you cannot remember Wilkins – he had been in Control since 1938. 

Noted you are surprised I still have some apricot wine left. This is so good I want to keep it as long as possible but bottle is half empty now. Only comes out on special occasions.

Will come back to your letter again presently. Must now tell you of our experiences since we started out last Friday for Tiverton. We left here about 9:30 a.m. in a dry but dull morning and went direct to Dunster where we had a look round and had some lunch. Then into Minehead for a little shopping and a walk along the front. Left there about 2:30 p.m. and made for Tiverton arriving without incident about 4:45 p.m.. Before going to Somerholme went over to the cemetery with some flowers and then got into house before uncle Joe and Aunt Lydia arrived. (Key under the mat). It was about 1 a.m. when we went to bed. (What a natter).

Saturday morning after they had both gone to work Mum and I went down the town to look around. A lot of alterations since our last visit. At about 2:30 p.m. we started for Exmouth calling at Aunt Lydia’s shop to pick her up. Called at Heavitree churchyard enroute and arrived Exmouth about 4 p.m. in time for Aunt Lydia to do some weekend shopping. Found bungalow in good order and after tea had a walk along the front and sat down in one of the shelters for a while. Another late night for bed. 

Sunday morning saw Mum and I on our own for another walk on the front and in the afternoon we all went out cockling. Out about two  hours and came back with a bucket full of cockles. Most of these we brought home. Left Exmouth about 6:10 p.m. and arrived at Somerholme at 7 p.m.. Another late night. Got away about 10 a.m. Monday and called at Taunton (shopping) and Lyng and home just after 1.00 p.m. When I was putting car in garage noticed a couple of bulges about size of large eggs on rear offside tyre (tubeless) and as Bushell was next door called him over to examine. Said tyre was liable to burst owing to fault so there and then changed over to spare wheel and took a defect to garage. Here they were not all that surprised as others have been brought in pretty often. Said I could probably claim on tyre firm as tyre was faulty. Had a remould fitted and now have to change wheel back. Good job it did not give out on the journey. 

Re: cockles – mum boiled them up Monday night and after shelling they filled just over three 1lb jars and are now pickled in vinegar. Shall be bringing up one bottle for you to taste. 

On the Friday evening during conversation with Uncle Joe we heard that Uncle George (senior member of W. H. Fewings*) died last May and the business has since been in the hands of his son and daughter but it is not going very well for the simple reason they are not business people. They thought they had sold it – one of the conditions of sale was that new owner should continue to employ Arthur but somebody must have told prospective purchaser of Arthur’s character and the sale was off. Uncle Joe apparently is waiting his time. The business may be put up for sale again and if it can be got at his price without conditions he may have a shot at it the point being that he would not then have to do the donkey work but only supervise and meet prospective customers.*** 

Incidentally uncle Joe had a nasty cold on him all the weekend and it is possible I got my packet from him although I must not forget for the past three weeks I have had a nasty throat and could not get rid of it. This cold however seems to be shifting it and I hope to be all right in a day or two. In any case I’m not going outside the premises this weekend. Thought mum was going to be following but so far she is all right. We told them you wish to be remembered to them all and they were glad to hear of your latest move. 

We only saw John this time – on the Friday night when he was on his way home from operatic practice. On our way home on Monday we also called to see the stationmaster at Durston. [i.e. Don.] He was the only person on the station. Just had a few words with him before calling at Laburnum House for coffee etc. 

After returning from the garage on Monday with tyre I noticed a lot of movement outside Mrs Bush’s house and as Bushell (next door) was in front garden asked if he knew what was going on. Said doctor was attending Mrs Bush and with the same the ambulance drew up outside and Bushell asked them (his old mates) what was the matter. They told him “overdose of drugs”. The ambulance stopped outside a long time then drove away empty. Apparently Dr had got Mrs Bush round and no need to go to hospital. Have since heard he took 25 tablets out of her and she has hinted she will do it again. We do not know what the trouble is. As you know Valerie the youngest daughter was married a month ago and has gone to Winscombe to live. 

Back to your letter again. So your job at Paddington is posted at last. Query any difference in the rate? Peter with you again last Sunday and June and yourself at the kitchen with the paintpot. I’m afraid we have been hurrying you unnecessarily. 

Incidentally what about the fog? It has been pretty bad for Clevedon and when we get it here it is usually very bad elsewhere. Shall have to travel in middle of day to avoid it. Perhaps it will not be so bad when we come up. 

Noted your tomatoes now over. Not surprised as outdoor grown soon tail off in October.

Hope to have a few in good condition to bring up.

Well I think this is all for another week. Hope this reaches you Saturday morning. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls – hope they too were not disappointed we failed to turn up. Mum and Dad

P.S. Hope cream arrived in good condition.

*Translation:  ‘A woman doesn’t need glasses to do housework’.

**The family stonemasons’ business.

***To the best of my knowledge Joe never did take charge of the family business.  It could be that his health began to deteriorate before the matter was resolved.

Eva to the family on the remaining one-third of Leonard’s paper:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol

Many thanks for a letter and drawings. I have caught dad’s cold a bit so will not use typewriter this week. I was disappointed we could not come this weekend and now especially as the fog has lifted. We hope to see you soon. We did not want to spread the cold about. As we caught this one off of Joe. 

What do you make of Mrs Bush. We do not see the car about now, perhaps that is the bother. 

Mrs Hoyle has a six weeks’ premature baby Caroline Joyce at Southmead. 

It was lovely at Exmouth and nice and warm during the day. Not many people staying there now. The sand was ankle deep in some places on the promenade. 

Dad has just looked out and says the fog has come up again. 

Hope Susan will soon have her glasses. 

We have a nice lot of chrysanths in the greenhouse now. 

[N.B. After this there is a gap where they clearly visited over the following long weekend.]

Bushell takes his test again tomorrow I think he will pass this time. 

Lots of love for now Dad and Mum.