Tuesday 26th March, 1963

This letter was originally misfiled and has been added retrospectively.

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Well here we are again with many thanks for your usual newsy letter to hand this morning first post. Just fancy those girls getting bilious attacks one after the other – must be jealousy, if one has a turn the other must follow*. Glad they are all right again now.

Must thank them for the paintings enclosed with yours. Is this a first effort at painting? It is very good as it is not nearly so easy to paint as draw with a pencil.

Noted you have not seen Mrs Baker recently but expecting her on the day you wrote and that you all hope to go along to the Mothering Service in the afternoon. I went to the one here because of ringing and choir and the Vicar was really good with the children. The latter had all to go up to the altar at the close and receive a Mothering Sunday card from the Vicar which they had to give their mothers. There was a stream of children some of whom could not get up the steps and had to be helped.

So Tony and Lillian have good decor thanks to the handyman about the house – would be a bit different if there were a couple of children present and moreover he would not have the time to devote to the decorations. It is very nice though if you can get interested in such work. Unfortunately I am not one of those and I’m only too glad when I have finished a room and can get outside again. We actually finished off the front room yesterday after arrival of the felting which we used as a surround to the carpet. This only arrived Saturday morning after we had read the Riot Act to Challicoms on Friday afternoon when in town. Anyhow the room looks very nice once more. You have nothing to worry about with your house having regard to the fact two young children with plenty of life in them help occupy the premises.

I hesitate to ask but did June make the cake on which your tooth was wrecked? Sounds like a shop one if you had at the tree with it. You soon had the dentist on the job and back to normal. Should think it would be strong enough to bite on otherwise not much good having it treated. Might as well have the thing out all together.

Yes I agree about driving in the rain but when you cannot gauge the depth of the potholes which you have to pass over then it is not so good.

I do not think Don’s breathing will improve much with the coming of the warmer weather – the answer in his case is not to exert himself so much. He has always been a very hard worker manually and it is reacting on him now unfortunately.

Yes you must get the ground ready for the seed sowing please. I can see it is going to be the big thing for Susan and Carol assuming they are both interested.

Re: holiday it seems a pity to come back on the Tuesday considering it is Carol’s birthday but we imagined you might be having a bit of a children’s party and would require all the room available. If this is not so and you have nothing else in mind for that day we could return on the Wednesday but we will leave the decision entirely to you. Noted you will be getting a bit of leave and we shall look forward to a nice time.

So there is no further news of the accident there yet. These things take their course and the police are never in a hurry once the cases are on the files pending. Hope you found Mrs Baker improving when you saw her last Sunday and that she was able to go to the service. No doubt we shall see her again when we are with you at Easter.

Regarding eyesight, I had a suspicion they might be deteriorating a little hence was very pleased to have opticians report to the contrary. Have my new glasses now and they fit much better and as mentioned in previous letter the lenses for the the “distance” pair are bigger and more convenient. How is Susan getting on with hers?

I think you must have had vinegar for breakfast last Sunday by the suggestion that with a couple of new chairs and another watch we could sleep by the hour – not bad. The chairs are not yet here and it will be another 5 or 6 weeks before delivery is effected. The watch keeps excellent time as I have been checking it regularly with the BBC to make sure it is doing so. Told the shops people if it did not keep time they would have it back quick.

Glad to hear your one geranium plant is proving profitable by the number of cuttings June has been able to take. If you would like some more we have plenty but we do not want to overdo your stock. Let us know please. Also while I think of it I have now received the 1963 copy of the A.A. Members’ Handbook and if you would like the 1962 copy which is still in very good condition I will bring it along. I won’t forget the flagon of cider. 

Yes I’m afraid the horse’s visit this time was a dead loss to Norman Baker but it was just one of those things. In any case he was saved the trouble of looking after him and this was no soft job with the snow deep in the drive and the water in bucket frozen every morning for several weeks.

Thought you would be interested in the newspaper cuttings. C.R. Clinker is in the news again. He is noted to have travelled over every part of British Railways at some time or other. He left the railway long ago as I expect you can recall. Quite a nice chap but railway mad.

So you have two little girls making and bringing in the tea – very nice too. Has June restarted the driving lessons yet? Perhaps she is waiting to get Carol away to school to have a little more time.

Mum was clearing out the larder this morning preparatory to whitening the place and found a half bottle of 1960 elderberry wine which I promptly tasted at dinner time – quite good and very much mellowed. Have racked off the blackberry and the elderberry brandy and have earmarked two bottles of each to bring up. I’m afraid there will be no greenstuff June this time as we are right out and the new season’s planting is not yet ready. It has been a most disastrous winter for everybody around here and elsewhere for cabbage and broccoli. Since writing last week I have managed to get in a few hours on the garden and in addition to peas and shallots have now got in three rows of onions and another row of broad beans. Am now anxious to put in the parsnip and some early potatoes. In the greenhouse I have potted up 36 tomato plants raised from seed and sown a box of Brussels Sprout seed. The recent heavy rains however have stopped work outdoors for a day or two and the gullies in the field are again full of water.

Do you remember me talking about a Mr Stephens of Jonathan Hill and Co timber merchants of Bristol? He moved to Hereford a few years ago and we now hear he has had a severe stroke and even if he recovers will never work again. It is a very bad case and he is several years younger than me. We had a letter yesterday morning from Mrs Stephens to tell us all about it – apparently it happened about six weeks ago when the weather was at its worst. He collapsed when going to work one morning.

Bushell – our next door neighbour – is busy in his spare time preparing cars for his uncle who brings them along one at a time for him to do. The uncle actually is a farmer at Yatton at doubles in second hand cars putting them right when necessary and then selling at a profit. He buys a fair number of second-hand cars from Binding and Paynes (these people accept them from customers as part exchange and only too glad to get rid of them to anyone) and Bushell overhauls them and as I say repairs as necessary and then his uncle sells them. Not a bad idea for getting some easy and quick money.

We understand customers have already been found for the two houses which are to be erected in the quarry at the bottom of the Avenue. Not much of an outlook from the back of the premises – straight into the face of the quarry.

*What a charmingly generous interpretation of childhood illness. If this is supposed to be funny, I’m afraid I fail to see the humour.

“Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes;
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.”

Lewis Carroll

Continued on Wednesday 27th March, 1963


Sunday 24th March, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Many thanks for weekly letter, and reply to our wishes etc. for 21st (date not birthday). We have not been to see Mrs Baker so far this week, but she is being brought over this afternoon by Peter and we are all going to the Mothering Day service at the Methodist Church. This is the usual children’s service that we attend from time to time. Sorry you are not a bit closer to join us on this day.

We have not heard how Peter has got on over his accident. The car was overdue for a test by one week hence the second booking by the Police.

Carol soon threw off the effects of her injection. By the Sunday afternoon, after she had been out with friends, she soon forgot her aches, and it was only if someone bumped into her or accidentally caught hold of her that she complained. We went to fetch Tony and Lillian at about 4 p.m. and found them not ready. We waited in their house for a while and found it very nicely decorated. It seems he is is a decoration addict and is always pottering about doing something or other. The room we were shown into was certainly very nicely done out, and the small garden also seemed very neat. One wondered how it would have looked after a month of Susan and Carol. I suppose we shall be able to achieve neatness and tidiness in this place with reasonable hopes of being able to maintain it thus before very long. When Carol goes to school the amount of time available for destruction will have been further reduced.*

I have unfortunately to report that to add to Carol’s misery she had a bilious attack during Friday night. I went out in the evening as usual and at that time she was perfectly o.k. apart from the fact that she had been dancing about rather more energetically than usual in the front room immediately prior to going to bed. I got home someone after 11 p.m. and found that she had done for the bedding and June had already been in to her about four times. We all suffered badly from lack of sleep on Saturday and Carol had a nap on the settee in the afternoon. After that she was pretty well and had something to eat and drink. Today she is as right as ninepence. It was Susan’s turn last night and as if not to be outdone she woke in the night and promptly did the same to her bed clothes. Her attack was only of short duration and she woke perfectly o.k. this morning and ate three Farley rusks in about half a pint of milk. Mother’s Day, did you say??

Last Saturday while at home on my own – June and the girls having gone to West Ealing – I made myself a cup of tea and had a piece of cake from tin. While eating this cake I got a piece of the fruit (?tree) between the two front teeth and broke one clean in half down the middle. Of course this meant a quick date with dentist before the thing started to ache. I saw him on Wednesday morning, and he has completely rebuilt it. It looks like all the rest of the teeth and in fact is probably better looking than before. I do not like to trust it to a good hefty bit though and I suppose I shall have to go a bit carefully with fruitcake in the future.

Sorry your trip to Lyng was so wet. At least you were in the dry. It does not make driving all that difficult and apart from the wipers flying to and fro it is otherwise as normal. It makes the car a bit of a mess though. Sorry to hear that Uncle Don is still having trouble with his breathing. Will this improve with the better weather? Note they asked after us, and you have some chocolate cackleberries for the children.**

I really do not remember Jim Mead though I must have spoken to him while at the wedding. Sorry to hear he has gone though and this will mean more work for Jessie’s husband.

This seed planting is quite something with the girls, and you will find out the most important job to do when you come up. I must look to it to fork over the soil a bit before then, but they know Grandad is going to show them how to do the planting and will expect it to be done. What they will do after that I cannot say – probably pull them up to see if there are any roots forming.

I do not know why you want to return on the Tuesday after only arriving here on the previous Thursday. Perhaps the week of all of us is too much for you but the date of your return is up to you. We have from Thursday midday to Tuesday morning booked holiday, but depending on the date of your return I can have the odd days to extend it.

Very pleased to learn that your sight is not getting any worse. Did you think that it was deteriorating? You are certainly going it what with a new watch and a couple of armchairs. Be able to sleep by the hour now so to speak. Looks as if your geranium cuttings were saved although the post did its best to damage them. We had one large geranium which we kept in a pot indoors. It almost died off. It had five long branches which have all sprung to life throughout their length and June took half a dozen cuttings and put them into another large pot. All the cuttings are o.k. and growing and the parent plant with the main root is also growing apace. It seems as if we shall have all the geraniums we shall need from this one plant.

Note that things are on the move in your garden. It is a lovely day here today after a slight frost in the night. You seem to have supplied yourself with plenty of drinkable matter from Lyng. Hope you can keep sober.

I should not think that keeping the horse in your place was very profitable for Norman Baker as he had to feed him practically all the time with hay.

Would not say no to a flagon of cider, but do not bring more as it would only be wasted.

Note your neighbour had a spot more trouble with his guttering. This winter had [sic] cost people a packet one way or another. We consider ourselves fortunate. It was a case of very near, several times, but not quite, if you follow me.

Driving tests are well behind due to the bad weather. I know a man who has just started to learn from a driving school and he applied for his test before he had his first lesson. The earliest date they could give him was June 12th.

Thanks for the enclosures from the ‘Evening Post’. typical about Mallard.*** Still people have other things to think about, and it is up to the enthusiasts to go and see these things. I cannot think of many railwaymen who have been on for many years being much of enthusiasts. Obviously the reporter went to see this engine thinking he was going to get some opinions or interviews, and in the absence of anyone of note to talk to he was unlucky. After all he then had to write something so took it out on the Bristol people who he in his wisdom thought should have been present.

I see Clinker’s name mentioned in the ‘Telegraph’ this week about some book he has written****. They referred to him as ‘the famous railway historian’ – as such is fame acquired.

The business of the missing mail van is also typical. I recall at Kensington when I was there we opened a so-called empty van to find it loaded with parcels for some distant place. It goes on all the time. It is all due to the fact that the people who move the vans (shunters) are not the same people who load and unload them (porters). A shunter finding a wagon with a label off assumes it is empty and rarely bothers to look inside, and once it has been moved it is out of sight and the concern of the station staff.

Well getting towards the end of the useful news now. The girls are creating a diversion by bringing in a tray of tea things followed by the teapot. Susan is now putting the milk and sugar in the cups and Carol waving the strainer around. Now Susan is starting to pour the tea – mine first. It seems the right colour. I cannot see any spoons except the one in the sugar so I suppose we must use fingers.***** She has now poured them all in turn and finishing up with her own has only a thimbleful left for herself. Matter now adjusted.

Well now the weather does seem to be changing for your visit and if it can only keep up for another fortnight you should be o.k. The girls are now making a mess in in the kitchen with leftovers of pastry making. I think they are making a pie of some sort. I will have to watch that tooth.

Well that is all for now. More next week. Love from us all here once again.

*I am constantly amazed that he seems to have expected children who were left to their own devices just to sit and read books all day or ‘play nicely’. Prioritising housework over the welfare of one’s children, and expecting them to behave like little cardboard cut-outs, is naturally doomed to disaster: energetic young people with enquiring minds need to be kept occupied – and not always to be treated as second-fiddle to the dusting, hoovering or laundry.

**Apparently ‘cackleberries’ are eggs, and chocolate ones by extension must therefore be Easter Eggs. As this is apparently American diner slang originally, I can only assume Alec and his parents encountered it either during or shortly after the War – perhaps through the medium of movies, or Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels.

***While I have not been able to pin down this specific reference, I think it may have involved an ‘organised rail tour’ to the St Phillips Depot. The reporter seems to have been surprised that the people of Bristol were apparently indifferent to the visit of such a famous engine.

****The most likely candidate I can find for this is Charles Clinker’s ‘Railways of Cornwall 1809-1963’.

*****OMG a child who is not yet seven has failed abjectly as a domestic servant! It really makes one question the validity of one’s own – and everyone else’s – existence, doesn’t it?

Wednesday 20th March, 1963

[Continued from Tuesday 19th March, 1963]

Well it kept on raining all the evening but cleared up during the night and today it has been somewhat murky with rain starting again this afternoon just as Mum was going to T.W.G.

This morning I managed to put in half a pint of peas so you can see I am catching up on the gardening. At 11:45 am Norman Baker’s man came and took the horse away for a few months – understand he is boarded out now at Mrs Marshall’s place for a while.

Bill Astor looked over this morning for a chat – his birthday is same as mine except he is three years older. He still keeps his allotment going together with a piece of ground in Mrs Marshall’s. I’m afraid I should not be interested in any ground unless it is attached to house.

Yes only three weeks tomorrow – if date alright with you – before we take the London road again. Would you be interested in a flagon of Somerset cider?

Talking to Heel yesterday morning he said he would like to borrow long extension ladder shortly to replace some coping on edge of roof. Apparently a large lump fell off last week and just missed his glass porch. Our other neighbour – Bushell – has not yet applied for another driving test and I think he is waiting for the better weather. There seems to be a long waiting list nowadays as they were held up for a long time during the big freeze-up. Bushell is using his motorbike for his daily journey to and fro Portishead.

Had a letter from the Newmans at Bristol on Monday in reply to one I sent them early in February. They have both been ill with flu and Mrs Newman has been under the doctor for other trouble as well. They had our feet of snow around their place and he could not get down to his garage for weeks and then when weather improved he was taken ill and had to get somebody else to see if car alright etc.

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

Mum and Dad

P.S. Two extracts from Evening Post of Monday 18th March enclosed for Alec. 

Tuesday 19th March, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Once again many thanks for your interesting letter and the enclosures from Susan and Carol – quite good drawings from both of them. Also thank you Alec for magazine also received this morning same post as a letter.

Very glad to hear Mrs Baker is keeping up and at this stage it would seem the shock is gradually receding which is a good thing. It will take a long time though to get back to normal and we know that you have been able to make a few journeys over to Ealing to see her. Expect she looks forward to your visit. For the time being then Mrs Baker has decided to remain at number 17 and try and make a go of it. One thing about this it will occupy her mind and help the days along. She evidently wants to be independent if she can and we hope the arrangement is a successful.

Very sorry to hear of Peter’s misfortunes – there is no let up by the Police. Either you are in the right or you are in the wrong – there are no halfway measures with them. It is most unfortunate it was an expectant mother in the other car and we hope there have been no after effects – or is it too early yet to say? Presumably the car was not overdue for test when this  accident occurred.

Poor Carol – we assume it was her last polio injection that upset her and we do hope she is alright again now. Can picture her going around holding her arm. Still game however for a trip in car to shops and Ealing – perhaps these journeys help to take her mind off it.

Yes the paper was finally stuck to the wall and not to me. I had to use a plumb line quite a lot and as paper reached from ceiling this was a bit of an effort. Now we are waiting for some felting to arrive from Challicoms for a surround to the carpet and some curtaining from Lewis’s of Bristol which mum then has to make up. Mum must tell you in her own words all about both items.

Noted marble clock keeps stopping and going. Does it want cleaning or overhauling do you think? When grandfather Atkins was about he looked after the clock as if it were a baby and kept it in excellent condition and we were not allowed to touch it.

Yes double glazing is alright but if you do this up go the rates. It is an item which is liable to cause re-rating. Personally I think it is more effective than the erection of a conservatory or glass porch but the latter is is what you want badly to stop some of the draught and also to give you a nice little place additional to your present accommodation. We do hope you will be able to have it put up this summer ready for next winter blast.

Your office not very well lighted then and must be a bit stuffy too at times. I take it you have to use electric lighting all day. Seems very strange your section has little work to do. Surely they knew this when the job you applied for was advertised? Not satisfactory to any of you really. Perhaps the powers that be are hatching up some big scheme to be tackled.

You asked if we have had any rain. Torrents of it and last Sunday for our trip to Lyng it proved to be the filthiest journey we have had by road for many a long day. It poured down for both journeys and the potholes – now numerous after the frost – being full of water 1 could not judge how deep they were consequently every now and again we dropped right into them with a splash and jolt. Anyhow Don and Joan were very pleased to see us and we had a most enjoyable time. Don not too good with his breathing and the least exertion cause him to double up and rest. They asked after you all and were sorry to hear that June’s father had passed away. There is already an invitation for all of you to visit them when you are with us in the summer and Joan gave us two Easter eggs to bring up to Susan and Carol. They have just finally decided to give up most of their poultry and keep only a few. They, like us, are beginning to feel the work is too much for them and Don certainly cannot do the hard work such as cleaning out the fowl houses that he has been doing for years.*

Incidentally the Jim Mead who has died was best man at Jessie’s wedding. Perhaps that will bring him back to your memory. He was 60 and single but lived in one of the farm houses attached to the farm he and Jessie’s husband worked. The latter now has the lot to see to and it is possible they will move into the house now vacant as it is a better one than their present home.

I see you all went over to June’s friends at West Drayton on the 10th inst. and had a good time as also did the children. We wondered if the girls had been on to you for some garden of their own but you are evidently going to anticipate them by taking down the wire around the plot at bottom of garden. Are they still keen on the seed planting? Note you will be able to have a few days off duty at Easter. If it is alright with June and yourself we could travel on the Thursday from here and possibly return the following Tuesday which is Carol’s birthday.

Mum and I went to Bristol yesterday (Monday) to get some curtaining (already mentioned) and I had an appointment with Pictons the opticians for sight testing. I had about three quarters of an hour with the optician and I was most pleased when he told me my sight had not altered since the last visit which was several years ago. I had thought it was weakening but that must have been due to being a bit off-colour in health. Anyhow I have decided to have new frames and, in the case of the the “distance” glasses, larger lenses. Whilst in Bristol I also bought myself a good wristlet watch – my present one has not been up to scratch for a long time and I made up my mind several months ago that I would eventually treat myself to a good one. The old one I can now use to some extent for work on the garden or other rough work. We also bought from Lewis’s two armchairs to replace those in the dining room and these will be coming down on Thursday this week. Fortunately it was a much better day than Sunday and we went up by bus.

In the afternoon (we got home about 2 p.m.) I dropped a line to Don re: our Sunday visit and we had late dinner and then put our feet up for the evening. I managed to pack up the runner beans for Geoff last Friday afternoon and got them away the same day and hope they have reached him by now. He sent me some geranium cuttings – arrived this morning – but package was badly smashed although it looks as if all contents were intact. It is to be hoped the beans reached him in better condition otherwise if packing broke he would lose the lot.

Talking about green stuff mum got fork this morning and found a nice lot of carrots in garden and I dug up the last couple of parsnips. We brought back the cwt. potatoes from Lyng which we had ordered at digging time and I paid 18/6d [approximately £23.50 in 2023 currency]** for them. Mum also has some eggs from Joan at 3/6d per dozen.*** Being a nice morning I started to dig up some old Brussels Sprouts plants and forked over the ground. Then I planted the shallots with about 72 shallots in a row. After dinner I had a just dug out a small trench for a row of peas when down came the rain again and I had to abandon work for the day hence this letter being typed this afternoon. I’m glad to have made a start however. Before coming indoors I potted up all the cuttings of geraniums received from Geoff. By the way Don let me bring back four gallons of cider so I’m all right for a drink night-times for a few weeks.

Norman Baker says he will fetch horse in a day or two and bring him down again later in the year when possibly all the fruit has been gathered.

Understand Don has some trouble with the roof of their house owing to snow getting underneath. The guttering too also came down.

[Letter continues Wednesday 20th March, 1963]

*Knowing of Don’s frequent respiratory ailments it seems more than likely that he was suffering recurrent bouts of psittacosis. His father was similarly afflicted, and he too kept chickens and other fowls. Add in the fact that both were railwaymen at a time when steam was the motive power and soot an occupational hazard, and you have a powerful recipe for disaster.

**My calculations suggest this would be roughly half what one would pay in the shops at the present time.

***Roughly comparable with the top price one would expect to pay for organic eggs in 2023.

Sunday 17th March, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks for the letter once more. It duly arrived on Friday. I have a magazine for you at the office and will try to send it off soon. Since last writing to you, we have been over to Ealing a time or two, and June has been over in the week. Mrs Baker seems to be bearing up very well. Affairs are it still in a bit of a mess, and no funds other than the pension coming in. However the prospect is promising. Mrs Baker has decided to stay on at number 17 and see what can be made of the place.

Peter has had a crash in his car, and fortunately the other car came off worst. Peter’s brakes failed and he ran into the back of the car in front. His car has been repaired but the other one (which contained an expectant mother) has had to have complete rear remodelled. There were no casualties but some apprehension was felt for the woman. It seems that Peter has to pay the first £25 [equivalent of £635 in 2023] on his policy so that is a cloud for a start. To follow is a worse one, as sometime last month his lights failed at Iver and he had to leave car to get a torch. Whilst he was away the police dropped anchor on the car and knocked him for parking without lights. When he reported to the police station next day to explain the situation it was ascertained that he should have had the car tested the week previously, so they nabbed him for that as well. As a result he has a summons to appear before the Slough magistrates. Of course this is all of great help to the financial situation.*

The girls have not been too bad this week, but Carol is in the wars now. Yesterday she was really suffering from the effects of her booster injection from Dr Lambert on Friday. When I got home on Friday she was complaining very tearfully he that her arm hurt. She went to bed but was kept awake crying with the pain. All day yesterday she was walking around bent down with her chin on her boots and one arm clutched up to her side. I must say she looked very poorly indeed. She was not to be left however when we went out to the shops or when June went over to Ealing on the train. She didn’t sleep too badly last night and today that are signs of the pain having abated although she does not move her arm at all.

The marble clock has stopped a couple of times in the week but it is going again now and seems o.k.

Thanks for sending the pattern of your wallpaper for us to see. It seems quite nice. From its appearance I can imagine the difficulty you have been getting the match from sheet to sheet. It must be a good deal of waste as you say.

I think the double glazing idea is a good one, but should imagine it is rather expensive. Best way of double glazing I know is to have another set of windows outside like a porch or conservatory. With luck we will get ours this year.

Have you had any rain your end? We have had a lot here. I do not see it when in the office as I have an outside wall. My window opens (if it ever does) on the station. I have only had a couple of wet trips to the station and on one of them I took the car so cannot grumble.

So far we have not allocated any ground for the girls to plant their seeds in. We plan to take down the wire fencing we had at the bottom of the garden as being unsightly and redundant. This will give access to three sides of the square plot for planting purposes, and as we cannot do much with it they might as well have a part of that. I suppose you would like it all dug and ready for planting by the time you arrive. Only three weeks next Thursday. How the time flies. I have not heard what we shall have for Easter, but I expect it will be the Friday to the Tuesday. I shall have to have a day or two to go with it.

I see from your letter that today is the day you have fixed for the visit to Lyng. By the time you get this the visit will be over so hope you had a good journey.

The sky here overcast and signs are that it will rain soon. I must say things are a lot warmer and welcome. The chap down the bottom is pottering around his plot. I do not know what he is supposed to be doing, but he will be driven in by rain soon.

Last Sunday we visited June’s friends in West Drayton and all passed off without a hitch. Their kids are still short on manners, but our two are no angels when out.

I am very sorry to hear about Jessie’s husband’s brother. I do not think I met him although he must have been at the wedding. I am afraid I did not rate a recollection of many of the people who were there.

What is wanted for your new glasses? Do you want them for outdoors or indoors? Nice to have a trip to Lewis’s. The trouble with these big stores is that they make you envious for the things on offer which you know you cannot afford.

I hope your back payment of the tax will not cause a hole in the pocket. Some game to do that to you.

I do not know what closures are involved on the E.R. The main point of interest is what happens to Stratford Works (the Swindon on the E.R.). It seems there is a plan to close it down altogether which would cause great redundancy. So far as my job is concerned it is largely what I make it. there is not a lot of variety and is mainly confined to one room with few other contacts. The plain truth is that the E.R. H.Q. Work Study section has had its functions transferred to the line managers (who are jealously protecting them) and has not been told, or worked out what its new function in life ought to be. In short they have no work. Russell and Cook cannot touch on any subject under the jurisdiction of the line managers (in the traffic field) or the functional offices in the other fields and as the input of staff through the Work Study School is tailing off there is no scope there either. If they do not find a job to undertake soon I can see the staff being taken away either permanently or by secondment to other departments. As far as I am concerned they can do as they please. Having got on the bottom rung of the new scale, I am set for the next nine years with 5% increases per year if I keep out of trouble. Any move would be to my advantage as I am sure they would not ask me to move without a slight rise within my own scale.

I must remember to tell Geoff about the runner beans. Have not seen or spoken to him since before you came up.

A bit rough on the poor old horse to be still on hay. I suppose it will be a week or so before he gets any grass to eat, and then I expect he will keep it cropped short.

A good racket this of Mother’s, going to all these places and coming back with samples. When does she go to Littlewoods or William Hill?

Note you have finished at the papering and I’ll bet you’re glad. I must say that is a job I do not enjoy it all. Painting is o.k., but give the papering the professionals.

You hit on the main snag with fitted carpets that they wear all in one place. Unless you get a really good quality one you get the wear and the carpet is finished. The thoughts of these pale green cabbages. Could not fancy any of them they always put me off. We had some tinned runner beans in the week and they were not bad. June got a tin for me for Friday (as she could not think of anything else) and we had what was left over yesterday – cold**.

I expect the visitors who stop the work in the redecorating business are always welcome. Does the wine bottle come out too?

Well I see there is another good drawing from Susan to enclosed with this letter. She says it is a wedding. On the left is a nun, then a church, then the bride and groom. I do not know who the party is on the right – Susan says it is not the bride’s mother. Note horseshoes and such a in the foreground. It’s all there – just sufficient line to give the complete picture.

Well I have had a cup of coffee planked in front of me so will close and deal with it***. So for the time being, love from us all. 

*The tone of sympathy towards Peter in this paragraph is bewildering. He failed to maintain his vehicle in safe condition and drove it knowing it was not fit to drive, causing a potentially devastating accident to an expectant mother, and the police very rightly ‘nabbed’ him for disregarding the safety of other road users. In later life he ended up as the manager of a council vehicle depot, in charge of their maintenance facility, so it would be nice to see this as a ‘wake-up call’ which alerted him to his responsibilities – but Peter was always an arrogant swine and for a long time seemed to teeter on the brink of a potential criminal career.

**Ugh. Have I mentioned that June was an awful cook? Not to mention that she was obsessively parsimonious, despite there really being no need for it, for the rest of her life. She bought what was cheap and was desperate not to waste it – which, with food, is not always the safest option.

***It’s so tiring to see how ungracious and grudging he always is. He has kindly been brought a cup of tea, but says it is ‘planked in front of him’. Work colleagues are useless, other people’s children are rude, systems are set up to fail, those who want to be paid for their services are greedy, children are ill deliberately to upset their parents etc. etc. etc. I never remember him saying a spontaneous or generous thing in his life; he was always involved in some kind of perpetual battle, Alec v The World. The World was always going to get him in the end, so he set out to get it first. IMHO it’s far better to assume the best in people unless they show you otherwise, but what would I know? I’m only a child, after all…

Tuesday 12th March, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Many thanks for letter with all the news received usual post this morning. Yes we were sorry to have missed you Alec but had we been certain of the time of your return would have waited, although by the time we arrived home we had both had about enough for one day. I expect you were all tired out too after a long, anxious and sad day but hope you are all feeling better now. We hope to Mrs Baker is keeping up as well as possible – it is when she is on her own, her thoughts must be running over very many things of the years that have gone. At the moment she must obviously feel very unsettled and we can now appreciate her feeling for the house in Eccleston Road. It was Mr Robert Baker who told me that June’s father was born there and that the house had been in the Baker family for very many years. You have a problem to deal with but we are sure you will eventually make the best arrangement for Mrs Baker. it is certain she cannot stop in the big house on her own and that would be the position if Peter is out most evenings as he is already out in the daytime at his place of work. Old age and loneliness is a terrible thing and unfortunately it is the prospect of most people if they live long enough*. I hope I do not sound like a dismal Jimmy but both Mum and I have seen it over and over again.

As mentioned in last letter we were very glad to have made the journey on the 4th inst and in the little time we had passing through the Ealing Shopping Centre were staggered at the quantity and prices of the vegetables. I should think the market is governed by Covent Garden but in view of the serious shortage of all kinds of vegetables it was a sight for sore eyes. The tea on train was not bad for British Railways – good job I did not have to fork out for dinner. Noted you found girls in good order on your return to Ruislip but sorry to hear Susan has had another bilious attack. Query hereditary – I was always getting them as a child**. Noted also that Iris’s brother and wife visiting you next Sunday – hope you all enjoy yourselves.

Yes our car alright again but I do not know what Bindings had to do to it as I have not since seen them or had the account. The certificate covering the Ministry of Transport inspection was in the pocket of car so that part of it was alright that actually I did not expect anything else. To my mind it is ridiculous to have to submit a six-year-old car for such inspection.

Thanks for mentioning Tom Hobbs – he did not do all that well for himself by going to London – bit of a moaner really, perhaps that had something to do with it. That rise you have received as a result of rearrangement of gradings is a wonderful job and gives you an unexpected lift really into the next category. Quite an interesting position with the possibility of your immediate colleagues moving to Derby. Worth keeping an eye on. Anyhow congratulations on your present achievement.

I understand Price of Bristol is in the second position out of category but is hoping to get something else with the changes pending at Bristol. He is 60 now so should doubt if he will be considered. Hallett presumably has gone now – there was an account and photo in one of the Bristol evening papers last week with Price making the  presentation – making assurance doubly sure I’m certain.

Very strange the marble clock should suddenly start and continue to work. Hope it will keep up the good work now. Expect you know it was a wedding present to your Grandmother Atkins from her Uncle who was W.H. Fewings. He gave all or most of his children, nieces etc. a marble clock as wedding presents – symbolical perhaps of his connection with marble at his monumental works.

Talking about putting paper down under carpets etc. do you know I have had paper down on wood floor of front room to catch drippings of paint etc. but the draught has been so strong at times that I have had to put something on the paper to keep it down. I’m getting on slowly with with the papering. Started yesterday afternoon but only got on about three pieces before it was dark. The trouble is trying to match the pattern. It certainly is a most awkward match and the pattern only repeats itself once every 22 inches so unless one is very careful there is a lot of waste with each cutting. Today I managed to finish the chimney breast and either side of same so I’m more or less on the straightforward pieces now. Will try and enclose small piece of paper for you to see pattern.

That Mr Webb you mentioned knows a thing or two if he is thinking of double glazing his windows – it makes a wonderful improvement and I have thought of it once or twice myself but that is as far as it has got.

Noted you told Susan we had been up to Ealing – hope she was not upset. It seems so near and yet so far and I’m sure we did the right thing by not seeing them on that particular day. We are both looking forward to coming up at Easter and it is noted that it will only be four weeks from Thursday this week. Have you given Susan a plot of ground into which she can plant her seeds? Must see if I can find a few seeds – would dandelion seeds please Daddy?

Had a letter from Lyng last week asking us to go down on a Sunday in the near future so have fixed for the 17th inst. when can bring back the cwt. of potatoes Don has been storing for us. He told us that Jessie’s husband’s brother*** who has been ill for a long time had been taken into hospital seriously ill. Have since heard that he has passed away. We think it was some sort of stomach trouble but shall hear more next Sunday.

Mum and I are going to Bristol – by bus – next Monday. I want to see Pictons again about some more glasses – it is many years since I last had eyes tested and feel some stronger ones are now necessary. Shall also have a look round the Bristol Selfridges i.e. Lewis’s as we require a few things for redecorated room.

Have now heard from income tax people. It appears that when National Health pension was paid me from 21st March last year they did not start to tax that money until August so have re-coded me for 1963-1964 to cover the period March to August when tax was not deducted. They are probably right but I’ve had the satisfaction of getting the information out of them. I suppose they will want a bit more when the national pension is increased on May 27th. But how much lower can one be coded than ‘I’ which is the number now allotted to me.

I am sorry to admit June that my collar size is 16½ and not likely to get any smaller.

What has Beeching done about closures on the E.R. Alec? We hear quite a lot about W.R. closures in the local press but nothing of other regions’ troubles. Is your own job continuing satisfactory from your point of view? I mean has it turned out as expected?

Plenty of rain here too and even if available I could not have done anything outdoors since the snow disappeared. I see some of the broad beans are likely to survive – perhaps a total of three parts of a row out of two rows. Must get in some more as soon as possible. By the way Geoff asked me for some runner beans. I should be glad if you will kindly tell him I have not forgotten them but at the moment I am up to my neck in the decorating business. Will post them on later.

The horse is turning the field near the fence into a bit of a quagmire and he’s still being fed on hay because there is practically no grass available yet. The little girl next door (Ruth) was a year old last Sunday and they brought her in to see us dressed in her party frock. She has not crawled at all and is almost walking.

Mum has been on one of her half-day outings today – to Frys at Keynsham – brought back a good sample of various kinds of chocolate. She will tell you more about it but apparently it is a tremendous place now and they provided tea for the party.

Well I really think this is all for this week. Hope you are all keeping better now, all our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls.

Mum and Dad.

P.S. finished papering 6 p.m. Wednesday now have to clean the front room up. 

*It’s a matter of perspective, obviously, but Edith Baker was born in October 1895 and would have been 67 at the time Frank died: this does not seem particularly ‘old’ by present-day standards. When Edith was born, average life expectancy for a female would have been 74 – which in the end she handily exceeded.

**Or could have something to do with forcing children to eat things they find repulsive???

***Okay, this is where I have to confess myself defeated. I do not know who Jessie is or was, nor her husband, nor his brother. I can only imagine this is something to do with Don’s wife’s family (Joan): presumably her sister, although I am not currently in a position to check this information.

Sunday 10th March, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks for the letters duly arrived on Friday. I am glad I was able to have a few words with you both on Monday, and I am sorry I was unable to say goodbye as we seem to have got separated at the church. I had an idea I would have seen you when I got back as we arrived at number 17 at 3:30 p.m., much earlier than I really expected. I am sure you did not see our return as we came down Coldershaw Road which is a road parallel to St. James’, but almost opposite Eccleston Road. I looked at the pavement as we turned the corner but you were not in sight.

I am glad you were able to come up. It must have been a long day for you and a tiring one. Note you got back at 7:45 p.m. which is a whole lot better than if you had travelled on the 6:30 p.m.. I hope you had a good tea on the train – and no railway sandwiches. I think they do things rather better now than formerly, but at a price.

We found the children in fairly good order at the Grays when we got back. We did not stop long with Mrs Baker although we all had a talk for about an hour. As a result Iris’s brother Tony and his wife are coming to see us next Sunday. They have been living at Rayners’ Lane for some time, but we have never exchanged a visit.

Note you had made arrangements about the car and that they were carried out satisfactorily. I put ours in for its third annual test on Friday, and had no trouble with it. Had to part with 15/- [about £19 in 2023 currency*] to be told it was o.k. I feel they have slightly tightened the brake and steering although in the latter case it may only be pumping up the tyres.

I agree about the whole pattern of things changing on a station. It does so in an office. I have moved to and fro the same office at Paddington over the years, and each time I returned after a short lapse the change was immense. I believe that now at Paddington Freight Train office there is no-one left who I knew when I joined them in 1942.

By the way did I tell you that about a year or so ago I ran into Tom Hobbs. He told me then he was shortly to retire and asked to be remembered to you. I expect he has retired by now. Geoff was telling me last week that would Woodward retires at the end of this month and not on 1st March as I suggested.

The rise in status and pay of my job is well appreciated as you might expect. It was almost wholly unexpected from my point of view. There may be more changes to come. All my immediate chiefs (for ‘all’, read ‘both’) and my colleague are ex-Workshops men, and they are setting up a Workshops Division of the B.R. at Derby. There is a strong rumour that one or more of them have been told off to apply. It can do me no harm.

I should imagine that the cheapest of the veg in the London area is due to the proximity of the Kent supplies. Kent as you know is the so-called Garden of England, and they enjoy advantages of weather and short transport haul. What influence Covent Garden Market has on it all I could not say, but at least it supplies the sort of competition that keeps prices down.

I expect you did have your full of walking especially as you had been to Selfridges with Geoff.

Rain, you say? We had a lot yesterday. We needed it badly to clear away the muck from the streets and loosen sore throats. We got it all right. It was raining when we awoke, and it was raining when we retired for the night, and in between it really pelted down. Motoring to Ealing yesterday in the rain gave the car a chance of a wash underneath to get rid of the salt etc. that it must have picked up during the snow. Roads were running with water and the brooks were very full.

Can imagine you in the throes of redecorating your front room. Pity you can’t go to the do-it-yourself shop and get them to do it themselves. Did not manage to get into the garden yesterday as it was so wet, but may wander round to size up the situation today if the weather keeps up.

Grandma’s clock still going without stopping at all. I wound it up yesterday. It keeps good time too. It has now been working satisfactorily for one week.

We had another session with Susan in the week. She was poorly on Wednesday and had to retire to bed with a basin. Everybody pretty fit now though. Both June and I have had very sore throats, but the arrival of the rain has got rid of mine anyway.

We do not know what will happen to June’s mother as we know she does not like it at Eccleston Road. What Pauline and Peter intend to do also cannot be ascertained although we know that Pauline is most reluctant to live there. Peter intends to get married but does not want to have a house. He would be prepared to live there, but as as he would be out in the evenings that would not be company for Mrs Baker. There is an ideal solution to the problem, but it all depends on the people involved making up their minds and stating what they intend to do. Thereby hangs the problem.

Sorry you found your tin of paint has gone off. Not a cheap joke that at 12/10d per tin. [Approximately £16.30 in 2023 currency.]

It is a good idea to have plain carpeting (fitted carpet I think they call it) instead of lino. It looks a lot better and I am sure it is warmer. If you can run to having the whole of the room covered with fitted carpet it is the ideal solution. Do not forget to put plenty of paper down underneath as it all helps to kill the draught. (Teaching grandma to suck eggs did you say?)

A neighbour of ours, Webb across the road, told me a week or so ago that he intends to have double glazing in the room which faces the wind. He said he was not having the same trouble as he had this year. They could not use the room on that side of the house.

Well I think I will close this letter now as I think you have most of the news. Hope you are both keep still keeping well. We are looking forward to seeing you at Easter. Susan was told that we had seen you on Monday last, but June told her that she had not told Carol as it might have upset her. Susan understood alright and is looking forward to your visit. The girls are collecting seeds to plant in the spring. They have been told that granddad will show them how to do it when he comes up. You have therefore got a job lined up for you.

Cheerio for now then. Love to you both from us all here.

*My research suggests that the cost today would be in the £40-£50 region but that this is not a standard charge. 

Tuesday 5th March, 1963

Leonard to the family:

Dear Alec June Susan and Carol,

Just a few lines this time to let you know we arrived home safely last night and were actually indoors by 7:45 p.m.. Mum and I were glad to have made the journey to be with you all for such a short time on such a sad occasion and we thought Mrs Baker kept up remarkably well under the circumstances, although inwardly she must have felt very distressed. As you know we left June and her mother at the corner of the street in which the church is situated and made our way back to the station for the 3:48 p.m. thence to Paddington caught the 4:45 p.m. Paddington through to Yatton. Had tea on the train and this somewhat seemed to curtail the journey. We hope you both were not over-tired after your efforts in regard to the arrangements and journey to and from Ealing and that you found Susan and Carol in good order at Mrs Gray’s on your return. Thank you for arranging for our sheaf of flowers. There were some very nice ones there and it is nice to know they eventually went to a hospital. My guess is you were back from Mortlake about 3:30 p.m. as we saw a hearse returning through the main road just before we turned up to the station at West Ealing.

We motored to Clevedon station in the morning and I had already arranged with Binding and Payne’s to fetch same and give general service and inspection for Ministry of Transport requirements and put car back in station yard in the evening for our use later. All arrangements carried out satisfactorily and what a difference in car – it had not been in for attention since last May. Now it should be right for our next trip to Ruislip which we are both looking forward to.

The horse was all right – Mr Bushell had given him plenty of water and there was enough hay left for him by me in the early morning.

Saw nobody at Temple Meads on forward or return journeys yesterday. Even the inspector on the down side was a stranger to me. It does not take long for the whole pattern of things to change.

After we left June and her mother we had another brief look in the shops and can confirm the cheapest of the vegetables and plenteousness [sic] of them at Ealing compared with this part of the country. We both had had enough walking by the time we left London but it was a much nicer day for weather than today. We noticed rain between Reading and Swindon and apparently there had been a little here.

Today we went to library and butchers and the do-it-yourself shop for a few oddments then afterwards I have had the time in the front room finishing off the plastering and rubbing-down the paintwork. Hope to get a full day in there on Wednesday but it will be several more days before I finish.

We thought a wonderful improvement had been made so far at number 17 Eccleston Road the small room we were in and the kitchen looks very nice indeed but of course we realise there is still a lot more to be done before the builders and decorators depart.

Well I think this must be all for the present – expect you are trying to get back to normal again this is bound to take time after such a shock and a loss of a loved one. All our love to you both and lots of kisses for the girls. It won’t be long to Easter now.

Mum and Dad. 

Wednesday 27th February and Sunday 3rd March, 1963

There is a gap of ten days in the correspondence at this point due to Frank Baker’s death on 22 February and subsequent funeral on 4 March.

Frank Edward Baker 1892-1963

Frank Baker was June’s father. He married Edith Nellie Louise Mullinger (1895-1987) in 1919 and they had four children – William Edward Frank (‘Teddy’), June Edith, Pauline Mary, and Peter Neville Macord.* Frank was excluded both from working with the GWR and also from active military duty in the First World War as the result of a childhood accident which left him with only one eye. He did, however, go to France as an ambulance driver.

Frank had a glass eye, and is reputed to have entertained guests by taking it out and polishing it at the dinner table – but this story seems to have circulated about everyone who ever had a glass eye, and should probably be taken with a pinch of salt! He was variously in the licensed trade, a cinema manager (in Southend), and the proprietor of a tobacconist and sweet shop. He was also apparently a Freemason.

At the time of writing this I do not have Frank’s birth or death certificates so I can neither confirm nor refute the assertion by his brother Robert that he was born and died in the same house, but it is very likely as it was certainly owned by his family in the 1891 census. I also have no definitive information about Frank’s cause of death but my impression over the years is that he had some kind of smoking-related complaint: in those days smoking was allowed in cinemas and was of course also prevalent in pubs and other establishments and on public transport so he would have had difficulty escaping it in everyday life. When the late Roy Castle died from the effects of passive smoking in 1994 it became clear to everyone that Frank had probably suffered in a similar way, although he was also known to smoke a very occasional cigar in social settings: being a tobacconist, he probably felt it was one of the requirements of his job.

For more information about the Baker family as a whole, follow this link.

Sunday 24th February, 1963

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad

Your letter to hand Friday morning, for which many thanks. I will deal with the points raised in due course. I have passed on your condolences to June in regard to her father’s death, and she may add a word or two on this point at the end of the letter. The occurrence was unexpected but peaceful. It seems Mr Baker had been much improved on the previous two days. His legs were back to normal, and he was eating and breathing normally. Mrs Baker was unable to wake him on Friday morning, and it was then realised that he had passed on in the night. The latest arrangements are that the funeral party will leave number 17 at 2 p.m. on Monday 4th March for Mortlake Crematorium. Due to the frozen grounds there has been a heavier than normal workload on the crematoria, and the Ruislip one has a waiting period of ten days. As there is only a wait of eight days at Mortlake the latter has been agreed to*. as Mr Baker used to be a choir boy in St. James, Ealing**, and in view of the family connection with that church there has been some talk of a service there as distinct from that at Mortlake. Whether it will be held, and whether it will take the place of the Mortlake ceremony remains to be decided, and we shall have to let you know if the times given above require to be altered. 

I am afraid we have had Carol and June both feeling queer during the last few days, and had a session with Susan during the night when she was sick. I came home on Friday about midday, and we left Ethel looking after Carol who was flat out on the settee, while June and I went over to number 17. Yesterday, June was less well, but Carol perked up a bit and I was able to take the girls out for a short walk in the afternoon. There is a general improvement today (Susan’s effort was only passing) but it will be a couple of days I suppose before we can be given a clean bill of health. I was sorry to hear your cold has made you particularly chesty this time. 

Had hoped that we were about to get some warmer weather, but last night was as cold as ever and the forecast again is bad. Two days last week we had a dustings of snow to depth of about a quarter inch, but all had gone again by evening. The main accumulation of snow is still with us but much reduced. We have about four heaps in the back garden each about three square feet in size. The front is all but clear, but there are a couple of heaps in the road by the kerb.*** 

You did did tell us about the rolls of wallpaper from Weston, but you have not said if the replacement roll had come in or not. 

I gathered that Peter and the new girlfriend are already engaged. She seems to be a very nice girl. We have not seen her since their arrival here though. Everybody seems more than pleased that the change has been made. 

Funny about the Stones Ginger Wine. We went rash at Christmas and bought one, and very often I have a nip to keep out the cold. Needless to say the bottle is now half empty. 

I do not know about feeling older in connection with the children. They certainly put years on you. Susan has been in trouble again for not coming home from school at the right time. On Friday I went in the car to collect her. I was not able to set out until well after the school had come out and all the children had passed the corner of the road long before I got near. However I went along East Mead, and there she was coming out of a side turning and going back towards the school. I came up and stopped behind her and she jumped a little. She said she had been delayed as she had lost her glasses at school and although the teachers had helped her to look for them they could not be found. I told her to hop in and we went back to the school direct. I pushed her through the doors and told her not to come back without the glasses. After about five or six minutes she returned with her teacher and the glasses. They were found all mixed up with some wireless parts that they have there with which they are making a so-called “wireless”. The teacher was not particularly pleased, and gave her a restrained lecture, but it’s like banging your head against the wall. 

I tried one of my two remaining carboys of wine yesterday and was very disappointed with the results. I think it was the apples you sent up about March last year. Of course I had to try the remaining one and that was a little better although far from my best. 

My colleague got his water back on Sunday last. It righted itself but not until after he had blown up the Water Board again on the phone. I suppose if the cold continues he will have to go through it all again. I think he was particularly unlucky though as all his neighbours had their water o.k. 

Our bottom fence was at one time supported by inclined wooden buttresses of 2×1 or 3×1, which just rested in the soil on my side of the fence. The wood was in reasonably deeply so that some support was given. However I did not want these obstructions in my way when trying to grow things down the bottom, so a few years ago I removed them and dug the soil over. This left the fence without any support other than its own solidity and the strength of the joint between each piece of asbestos. While the several roses were in position, they too helped to support the fence. This year we are not having the wild roses as they are a waste of time so we cut them down in the fall. This left the fence poorly supported so it has flopped backwards onto the iron pillars of the neighbour’s chain link fencing. These will keep it in place until I can do something about it, so not much to worry about just yet. 

You had to throw a lot of potatoes away. A hundredweight of frosted spuds is a great loss. Hope they have been able to keep theirs o.k. at Lyng. 

Bad luck to lose a pound per week off your income especially when on Pension. However, if they could provide for an Adriatic holiday out of it, its loss should not create real hardship.

Further news on moves. Wilkinson has gone to Bristol vice Burt [sic], and it is expected that Baynton-Hughes will succeed Hallett as Divisional Movements Officer (new title for Operating Officer – one-time District Operating Superintendent, one-time Divisional Superintendent). I also gathered that Claude Hankins has gone from Cardiff to Plymouth as Movement Officer there. So much for the checker at Clevedon. I should imagine a lot of that is going on about the country. I think Bull used to be a porter at Portishead once upon a time as I recall Frank Hessle mentioning the name when he was working there. It is probably the same fellow. 

I will leave June to comment about the curtain rail. Thanks for the offer. 

I see the larger birds are out on the lawns doing a bit of foraging at the moment. The sun is trying to shine but it is very cold. There has been no lack of attempts by the sun to shine in the last few days, but it does not seem to achieve much. Always promise but never payment as it were. 

Your clearance of the garage reminds me that I quickly swept out the main part of ours last week but there is a heap of stuff wants sorting out and probably throwing away. The car could do with a good clean, and if weather improves that will have to be one of the priority jobs. 

Well I will close now as it is getting there to chucking-out time. Look forward to your next. Love from us all. 

*Must confess I always wondered why Mortlake had been chosen; this is clearly the explanation!

**More accurately known as St James, Hanwell.

***I have a distinct recollection that these were still visible on Carol’s birthday, 16 April.