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…