Thursday 12th May, 1960


Dear Alec June Susan & Carol

Many thanks for your letter and enclosures received on Wednesday. The photograph is excellent and thank you very much for sending it on – pity June and yourself could not have been in it. Also pleased to see the Order of Service for the Sunday School Anniversary – poor little Susan without any collection, she must have felt very embarrassed in her own little way. Expect you heard all about it afterwards. Am returning Order of Service as assume you would like to keep it.*

The Horticultural Bulletin very welcome and I note you are once again a full member of the Society.

Note position re: Iris’s father and it does look as if things are going on satisfactorily.

I agree your efforts at Sunday golf are a dead loss. Why not revert to marbles?

Yes the chrysanths will take a lot of water during dry spells of weather and they should be put into larger pots and kept outdoors – staked – for the summer. Watch out for greenfly and wash or spray it off. A regular spraying of clean water will do a lot of good and help to keep down red spider – a pest you cannot see with the naked eye.

Soole’s wedding went off alright. Mr Aston and I went to the service and there saw Bastin and his wife who had both been invited. I spoke to Bastin before service started and he could tell me that Dudley Hart had got Edwards’ job – what a terrible appointment. He was at one time Junior Assistant at Bristol when Hallett was senior. Now he comes back and Hallett is under him. We used to say years ago “Always be kind to your junior clerk because one day he might be your boss”. I don’t think much of Hart as a railwayman but perhaps that does not matter now-a-days. It will cause a lot of heartburning at Bristol though.

Soole is still redundant and has had interviews for jobs as far north as Glasgow & Edinburgh but nobody wants him.

Had a call from Uncle Joe** at Tiverton on Tuesday evening saying he would like to run up to Clevedon this coming Sunday on his motor scooter. Apparently Aunt Lydia and some other members of the family are going to Exmouth in a caravan for the weekend and Joe thought he would like to pop up here. They have invited us down for the Whitsun weekend but shall hear more about that thus Sunday. It’s rather strange but Mum and I had been thinking of having a run down to Tiverton to visit the Cemetery.

Griffiths (Chief Controller Bristol) and his wife called on us unexpectedly on Tuesday evening. They were out for a run in car and found themselves in Clevedon so decided to look us up. He says things are very different in the office now and he feels out of it. Understand Frank Fowler finishing up this month – query Gunn to get his job. Don’t suppose you have much to do with the Rolling Stock Dept. Griffiths tells me that Arthur Gill (Reading Control) has got another job – Head of Freight Section London Area or something like that.

Yes we saw something of the Royal Wedding after we had finished ringing for Soole’s and again saw it in the evening. Note your neighbour was on duty in the Abbey for same.

We did not care much for the shops at Pinner either. Much prefer Rayner’s Lane, Eastcote and the Ruislip centres – we did not however find the Park. Expect the children were interested in the fish and ducks – something fresh for them.

Am glad you liked the cherry & greengage wines. I think they were two of the best brews of 1959. There will be no plum or greengage wine this year – practically no blossom on any of the trees. The apple blossom is good and providing fruit sets there should be a good crop. The three cherry trees have been loaded with blossom. We had a good drop of rain today and this afternoon I started to plant out brussel sprouts [sic] and early broccoli. Prior to this the ground has been like concrete and everything drying up. Something has got into some of my young currant bushes and the leaves have reddish blotches on them. Have written Smallholder people for information – in the meantime dosing them with a Bordeaux mixture and D.D.T.

We have six strawberry plants in pots in the greenhouse and this week picked the first fruits – and ate them. The plants in the garden are one mass of bloom. I see the third row of garden peas is just showing through but the dry spell has affected the earlier sowings somewhat.

Yes I expect you did have a job to get across road at the top of Swakeleys Avenue and it will get worse as the summer approaches. Last Sunday Clevedon was packed with cars again and Weston & Portishead were also hard pressed to find room for them.

Well I think this is the lot once more – hope you are all keeping well.

All our love from Mum & Dad and lots of kisses for Susan & Carol.

*This is probably a good moment to bring up the family’s attitude to religion generally. Alec and June would never go to church unless they had to, and their sole explanation for sending ‘the girls’ to Sunday School was ‘to get you out of the house on a Sunday morning so we can have some peace and quiet’, which I have never thought was good enough. Leonard, too, seems to have gone to church (1) because his mother insisted on it – Emily was very religious – and (2) because it was expected in his position. Eva’s social life revolved around the church, where she regularly did the flowers, although I never saw any evidence of actual devotion in her. If any one of them had ever said ‘God has been good to us, we want to thank him for it’ or given evidence of an actual religious belief (reading the Bible at home, for example) it would have been easy to respect; on the contrary, they seemed to think religion itself – as opposed to church-going – was evidence of some kind of mental aberration. To be religious was to be strange.

That said, I formed the conclusion at a very early stage that I was only being sent to Sunday School because I was not wanted elsewhere, and that if I ‘got religion’ it would be viewed with deep suspicion. Little chance of that, however, when I saw the adults around me paying lip service to religion without having any apparent beliefs of their own. I decided that, if there actually was a God, He would take a dim view of that kind of hypocrisy. After several years of having Sunday School imposed upon me, therefore – including, briefly, being a teacher – I rebelled and refused to go any more. The only person who seemed to think this would imperil my immortal soul was Edith, June’s mother, who in her modest, quiet way was very worried about me. Nobody else gave a slap. Q. E. D., I would say.

Many years later Leonard did try to force me to attend church by looking on a map, finding the nearest church to where I was living, and instructing me to go there every Sunday. As I passed the place every day I was in a position to tell him it was actually a Mormon establishment, which I was sure would be all right with him and I would be very happy to comply with his instructions.

We heard no more about me attending church after that.

**Eva’s brother.