Friday, 31 May 2013

Coronation Rehearsal... June 1953

I interrupt the flow of wartime letters to fast forward to 1953, as the 60th anniversary of our Queen Elizabeth's coronation is on Sunday. Here are two letters. One is from Tom Critchley to his sister and brother-in-law and the other is from his wife, Annie, to their niece Mollie Platt. She describes the Coronation rehearsal in 1953 at which her son Tom was officiating as a Gold Staff Officer.


My dear Mary and Harry,

Thank you for the magazines, they arrived yesterday. When we get some real photos of Tom, we will let you have one, his friend Henry, who works for U.G.B. took them, but hasn't yet suppled the prints – except for single copies of each snap.
We had Biddy over this way last weekend, she didn't come up to see us, she hadn't time, but we took her back to Euston. She rang up Tom to say what time she would arrive on Friday night. Tom and Margaret were playing tennis. Mr Robinson took the message and mucked it up, so Biddy arrived on her own, with no-one to meet her.
She got up early on Saturday morning, queued up for the abbey & St James, got back to Langton Avenue about 4, went to see Carol and Barbara in a dancing show & then went off with Tom and Margaret to see the lights, getting home about 1 on Sunday morning. She left on the 4.10 train. I guess she was tired.
Margaret says why doesn't Mollie park her luggage at Euston and stay overnight, or longer, with her on her way back instead of putting up at an hotel? We would offer too, but Annie is getting a bit beyond it, she has trouble with her legs, circulation and arthritis the doctor says.
I don't know yet when we shall be going to St Helens. I have written to Seth & asked him when it would suit them to put up with us. I had wondered if it would be possible to make it coincide with your return from Barmouth or with Biddy's next visit to Tom –  she talks of going there again later in the year. We will see what Seth says, it will probably be our last journey north & we ought to meet if it is possible. As one gets older car driving becomes more of a strain, one quite envies Ron and Tom and the way they drive about London. They each had cars in London last Saturday night. Ronald had been to Bromley, intended to come back over London Bridge, missed his road, found himself in Chelsea and got tied up in the West End traffic and sightseers. He says it took him one and a half hours to get across London. Tom took his car with Biddy, after doing the city, he intended to park at his usual place at the Home Ofice, but could not get nowhere near and had to wander about for ages following a stream of traffic.
I should have been even more white and wrinkled than I am after such a do.
Ronald had a good do at the Review, he got home about 5.30am. After the Queen had done her round a launch took them round the fleet, then after dinner they saw the illuminations and fireworks. Getting ashore at Southampton at about 2.00am.
So far we have had a very poor summer, not enough sun and rather too much rain, there never seems to have been a time when one could have said "The garden wants rain". Perhaps thats why the roses have been so wonderful, I have never seen them anything like so good and they came early.
By the way if Harry is short of room in the garage, here is a tip which I use. I have a tennis ball suspended from the roof & when the bonnet , cap, mascot, call it what you will, touches the ball, I am there.

Love from us both,


PS Annie hasn't yet found energy to write, our woman who comes has been on holiday last week and this week, she (the woman) intended going to Ascot on three days – they are the folks with money, our hard earned money. When we go away, she still comes in and gets paid for it, as well as her own holidays. Did we tell you we met Mrs Bennett in Southsea on our way back from the Isle of Wight? She is decidedly the worse for wear, not so well as when we saw her last year. we had coffee and cakes with her in a restaurant. She said she was going back there for lunch, but I strongly suspect she had sandwiches with her to eat where we left her on the green near the esplanade.

And here is Annie Critchley's letter their niece Mollie Platt.

My dear Mollie,

I wish you were here so I could talk instead of write. You say you would like my impressions of the coronation rehearsal, but really I don't know where to begin.
Up to the night before, I was undecided about going then Margaret and Tom came up & Tom told me he had to be in the Abbey by 7.00am, so I felt I couldn't manage that and definitely said I wouldn't go. before they went home I decided I would have a taxi, if Margaret would come with me. (my doctor had told me I must not go alone). Tom said he would see me in the abbey and to my seat. The door I had to go in by was a very old, very small door by the peeresses place. Thanks to Margaret we refused the efforts of the police to disgorge us at door no. 8 and were safely delivered at door no. 9. There was a long covered way and umpteen blokes in gorgeous uniforms at the entrance & Margaret asked if she could take me right to the abbey & they were all most obliging & I was glad she was with me as there were  two or three very old worn steps down & then up. However, it was all right & as soon as I got inside I saw Tom. He had put a big "reserved" card on a seat to which he conducted me.
The peeresses were not in their robes, but several of them were there in ordinary clothes – the first two rows had been reserved for personal friends of the Queen & the Earl Marshall – the latter's four little girls were a few rows in front of me, & the countess of Harewood just behind.
It was rather bewildering at first with the colours of the admirals, generals, heralds, knights of the garter & what not, and, of course, the heavy uniforms of the Kings at Arms. The latter were standing by a pillar just exactly opposite & I was looking at them and thinking how wonderful they were to stand so still when Lyon King at Arms fell with a crash, just at the moment when the Queen was conducted from Edward's chair to the throne. One thing sticks in my mind – the unceremonious way one man took his shoulders & another took his legs and they hurried him out. Another was going to help, but the Earl Marshall put up a warning finger. However, I see poor old Lyon King at Arms was able to officiate at Edinburgh.
Some of the things that I specially enjoyed were the scholars of Westminster School who have the honour of being the first to acclaim the new sovereign – this was in latin & they wore traditional costume.
The whole ceremony was very medieval – I felt as though I was back in pre-Tudor times, when church, and nobles were everything & the "common man" nothing at all – it really was all church & state even M.P.s were nothing – all crouched together in one section of the tiers which reached right up to the top of the high windows almost. Of course Churchill was much in evidence in his "Garter" robes.
Also I was very impressed by the dignity of it all. Such Pageantry & yet everyone seemed to know just what & when to do things. I must say the archbishop of Canterbury was splendid. He is an old man too. The beginning of the service when he brought the Queen (or rather her deputy) to our side first & said "sirs I here present unto to you" etc etc – and we said "God save Queen Elizabeth". Then he asked her if she would do this & that & her well-spoken replies.
Another part that was rather touching was when the royal red robe was taken off and she was in a very simple white linen gown – somehow she looked so lovely and young.
Needless to say the placing of the crown on her head was most thrilling, as was the homage. As the crown was placed on her head all the pages were waiting beside their respective peer with his coronet & when the peers all raised their coronets & placed them on, it was a most dazzling sight. I think Uncle Tom told you about the 2 small pages who came & sat by me and chewed gum – from the sublime to the ridiculous!
I hadn't realised before that one earl, one marquise, and baron etc represented all the earls etc – when the Earl Marshall (as the senior one) put on his coronet all the earls called out together – then followed the marquises, the viscounts, all in their order – talk about feudalism!.
The train bearers were in their robes & looked lovely, I felt very amused at the Lord Chancellor, who had to put his coronet over his wig. He did look odd!
I think I had better stop now and listen to the cricket.
As England has the usual bad luck of losing the toss, I'll write a bit more.
Oh, please thank whoever is responsible for the "illustrated" which arrived safely yesterday.
Tom was not the only lucky one. Ronald, as you perhaps know is at the "Crown Agents for the Colonies" His works deals specially with the Falkland Islands. They sent a ship, the "John Briscoe" to Spithead for the review and the Governor of the Isles sent Ronald a ticket to go aboard the John Briscoe. So he went down to Southampton where a launch took him to the ship. It is a research ship, which has been to the Arctic. Needless to say, Ronald had a wonderfull time – lunch on board , saw everything, including the illuminations and firework display arriving home at 5.00am next morning, & getting a puncture at Hyde Park Corner of all places, on the way home.
Poor little Bobby is at Great Ormand Street Hospital being operated on today for those fingers – he will probably be in for a week – Ronald went to see him yesterday – he cried a bit, but the sister said he had been very good.
Betty's mother & her husband are supposed to arrive next Thursday.
Biddy paid a flying visit to Tom's last week-end – arrived about 10.30pm Friday & went back 4.00pm on Sunday. She went to Westminster abbey & St James palace by herself on Saturday. The children were taking part in a ballet display in the afternoon to which she went. Then at night they all (except Carol) went to see the illuminations.
You will be counting the days now till you go to Switzerland. I hope you have a lovely time. Have you booked at the Russell Hotel yet? Tom says if you  like to go there you will be very welcome – the children would of course be delighted – it is quite easy to get from Euston to Whetstone, & you could leave your luggage at the left luggage office at Euston. Perhaps though, you may have heard from them. I told them what you intended doing & they at once said "she could come to us". I would like to ask you to come here, but I'm not much good these days.
We haven't quite made up our minds about St Helens yet sometimes I think we're better at home, but Uncle Tom certainly wants to go to Shanklin again in October. On Sunday we are supposed to go to tea with some people from Finchley we met there.
This letter is growing as long as Mrs Lockhart's. I wrote her a fortnight back after keeping hers 5 months and have already had a reply. They hope to come and see us in August again, just for the day of course.
Now Mollie, after this great effort, please don't keep me waiting 5 months.
We re waiting to hear definitely when Uncle Seth & Co are going away, before we settle anything about going. He asked me how I liked washing dishes next day after being at the abbey but I say I would rather wash dishes every day than go to the abbey every day.
Margaret looked very nice with her evening dress, wrap and veil. She is buying the stool on which she sat. She couldn't see anything of the actual ceremony but had a good view of the various processions & and didn't find the time long.
the earl marshall did a wonderful job. He seemed to think of everything. there was even a small room where you could go for repairs to your finery – neeedlewoman in attendance.
This letter will be getting overweight if I carry on much longer. I am without Mrs Ryan, who is on holiday, but I'm afraid the work is waiting for her when she comes back on Monday.
Now for some more cricket!
Love to your mother, father and yourself & hoping to see you somehow, somewhere before too long.

Auntie Annie,

Excuse awful writing and rambling letter.
PS My dear husband has just come home & informs me that he wrote from Brimsdown this afternoon, so what a lot of energy I've wasted! Have you been able to see the show in Glasgow today? We saw the Edinburgh do on TV.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Margaret to Tom 26.5.42

My Dear Tom,

I wonder if the weather has been as bad at Cheltenham as it was here today. I believe I told you in my last letter that this morning was glorious. Well it was until all of a sudden it rained – then it stopped and I went to business unprepared for a rainy day. After lunch it started again and simply pelted down as it did yesterday. I waited at the office until 5.30 occupying my time by writng a letter so fortunately I did not get another wetting. This evening the sky is really lovely, bright blue with pure white clouds passing overhead.
I spoke to your mother on the phone this evening as she wanted to know how we got on and how you were. I did not tell her you were expecting to stay here the night (Friday) because I know how she probably feels about it. But I must leave the decision to you entirely. We should very much like you to stay here and will prepare for it, but if your mother really wants you home, you can go by bike, but I do not really want you to have the cycle ride after such a tiring journey.
Now I want to talk business. I have been thinking about this marriage allowance I am going to get. I do not know if it will be deducted from your civil pay. I was talking to Winnie about it today and she does not think it will be deducted but we must not count on this. Do you know how much it will be? I think it should be more than £1 a week but even if is is one pound it is worth being married for the extra £52 a year against the £30 for a dowry, if you get my meaning and that is if it is a separate allowance. I shall have that all to myself won't I darling. I'm feeling quite rich already, still I suppose when we  have paid rent, food etc there will not be much left. One of the girls at the office is getting a marriage allowance of £1.15.0, but I expect that is for the length of service of her husband.
Your mother had rather a disappointment through not being able to understand your writing. she thought you were coming up on Friday night and going back Tuesday. Apparently you said you had to be in on Sunday by 8.00 pm and she read your Sunday as Tuesday. But I told her I was definitely sure and sorry, but the army is not like that.
Well darling I will finish now and write more when I have heard from you,
So all my love darling,
PS I had a dream last night about the preparations for the wedding. I had forgotten to have my hair permed and I was in an awful mess. Tom I know that with all this time to prepare, I'm sure to forget something.
Darling thank you very much for your letter which I have just received. I'm so sorry you missed that bus through coming almost as far as the station with me. I suppose you were not so fortunate in getting a hot bath on reaching your destination as I was.
You express this marriage business so beautifully. I only hope we shall not be able to manage in the way you say. I'm sure we shall feel quite different about it when we are married though.
Anyway lets talk about this on Friday.
Do not be surprised if I meet your train on Friday. Don't worry because I shall be alright if I do meet you. So don't stop to phone on arrival will you?

I must close now

all my love,


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Margaret to Tom 25.5.42

53 Buckingham, Whetstone N 20

 My dear Tom,
We have both enjoyed ourselves very much this weekend. It has made quite a change for both of us although naturally we would have preferred better weather. We were very lucky to have such a lovely evening last night. The Hotel has cost us just over 15 shillings each. 15 shilling plus five pence h'penny to be correct, which I think is not bad considering tea and lunch and and tips is included in that (tips amounted to 2/11d), which is taken in proportion to the amount of money spent. It was certainly a very comfortable hotel and as Nancy always says, it would be nice if mother could have the same chance & change. I do not think she has ever been in a posh hotel. Remember us both won't you, to Bill on Thursday. I do hope you will not lose sight of them both, because they are such very sincere friends. Now to get on the subject of our honeymoon. Having just seen a young coule about to embark on it tonight, it is really making me jealous. So lets think about all these nice places of couse we shall have plenty of time to discuss it next weekend (the pen hs run dry and I must continue in pencil.)When I was round at your home last week, your father wanted to know where we were going so I said we had wanted to go to Lynmouth, but if you were only having 48 hours, it would be in the Thames Valley. Maidenhead, Cookham, Henley on Thames, Marlow and Windsor and very nice places aren't they? And of course they are not far from home. Anyway, we shall see, because we want to have a very happy and very good honeymoon, I think we shall also require very nice scenery, because I don't suppose we shall want to spend all the time in bed, do you??? I do hope the cake has not had to join the rocks on top of the Cotswolds. I hope by now you have eaten it and it has not made you ill. It is now 4.30 and we have just left Gloucester and it is still very miserable out. Did you pay Bill for the supper last night? I hope so, otherwise I don't suppose he will be able to visit Chepstow next weekend. 6.00pm We have just arrived at Swansea and this time have not had to change thank goodness. The train is not absolutely packed out, although the people who have just got in are standing in the corridor, but are not squashed like sardines. I meant to have told you about the furniture I saw in Gloucester at Bon Marche. We saw a really lovely bedroom suite, just the type I like, but I believe it was rather dark for the bedside table which you purchased some time ago. It was a very exorbitant price £78.12.6d, but seemed from the window a lovely suite of furniture. Well darling, I will close this now in case there is a late post at Paddington in which case you will know tomorrow that we arrived safely. If not, I will add a bit more and post it in the morning, All my love, Margaret

 11.00 Well here I am again. I have just had a hot bath after getting soaked, so am now feeling very much refreshed in bed. Nancy and I arrived home at 9.15 and much to our dismay, found the herd of relatives had not departed. Mr Bond and Marjorie had joined the party today. They (that is Mr Bond and M) took Joyce for a car ride to Ken Wood and they had lunch there. Apparently it did not rain here until 3.00pm, although I am sure the weather was dull before that. Yes, our train arrived exactly to time, not a minute late. I only hope you will do as well on Friday next. Or shall we, to be on the safe side, meet each other in London and go to some hotel, have a glass of champagne and spend the night. I am a wicked girl, but that would be ideal, if we were married wouldn't it? Only without the champagne, that would not be necessary would it? I have just remembered that I shall be fire watching on Thursday night, so I shall have to go to bed very very early tomorrow & Wednesday and you must do the same, because I know late nights never agree with you. I did not tell you that after our visit to Gloucester we arrived in Cheltenham about 12.30 and as dinner at the Fleece was not until 1.00pm, we decided to look at the museum. Have you been to the museum (the one, maybe the only one) in the road opposite the Fleece. It is certainly very interesting and I dare say you and the others would be more interested in it than I was. There are some very modern war pictures in oil paintings, most of which are very clear and very well done. Other interesting things include articles from a copy of the Times from about 1840 and quite funny. Well darling, thank you for the lovely walk last night. I am looking forward to Friday night very much indeed. All my love darling – work hard, Margaret

Tuesday morning, A glorious day today doesn't it make you mad. I expect that is because you are going to have this afternoon off. I could not post this earlier because the last post in London goes at 6.30pm. It really is disgraceful.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Margaret to Tom 21st May 1942

I am writing this in bed again, partly because I do not think I shall have much time for writing at the office tomorrow and partly because inspiration comes much better in my own room with the picture of Wastwater that you love so much near me. We have just returned home from Peter's party. Dad and I and Shandy followed Mother there and arrived at 6.45. We had tea at 7.00pm. I did not realise before I got there that Peter wanted mother and I to organise the games altogether. He 'phoned up on Thursday night and asked us to bring a few games and think of things, so we thought out pairs of famous people whereby each person has a name pinned on their back and they have to find their partner. We took the Beetle game along and we had 4 tables so made it a Beetle drive which lasted about an hour. I think they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We also had a Subject and Object game and table tennis. We had to leave at 10 pm because the last bus is 10.29 and one cannot risk so a late a bus with Shandy. Alan Cobden is home for a week again. He came home on Wednesday. Betty seems to have arranged everything very badly this time because she is going out tomorrow evening with some girl friends, one of whom she has not seen for ages, and they are going to a show – then on Saturday, Betty's choir is doing a show. So I have suggested Betty sends Alan down to the club tomorrow evening so that we can look after him, but I don't know if he will come. You will be pleased to hear that al last I have had a talk with Mrs Solomon on the subject of marriage. She told me that many girls would hive anything to be in her position because she has now been married 7 years and naturally would like to start a family and is living in hopes that one day she will be lucky and get pregnant. But for the war and her work she would see a doctor. Of course we didn't go deeply into the subject.. I'm really longing for the new life of ours because I understand married life is so different and I expect we shall be able to fathom things our for ourselves later won't we? I will add a bit more tomorrow if I have time. All my love, Margaret Friday morning I have just been the rounds of the sweet shops gathering bits here and there. I have not much, but certainly a bit, which will sustain you for a time. I will try and make a cake for you over the week end but I cannot promise. If I hear nothing different we will meet you outside the Fleece Hotel at 6.25 pm on Sunday, All my love Margaret.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Margaret to Tom 18th May 1942

Well I do hope you and Bill arrived back safely and are not feeling too tired today. Anyway, we had a glorious weekend, even if we did a good bit of dashing about. The only thing I fear is your mother did not see enough of you. I know now that as the weeks are gradually drawing nearer and as you and I are both feeling more and more happy about our marriage your mother is beginning to realise what it will all mean to her. Its no good you shutting your eyes to the fact because I know its true and the muddle of the arrangements for the past weekend, just about finished things. So although I know you had a good bit to think about during the last week, but I think you had better write to your mother and tell her all about it (that is concerning the arrangements) bearing in mind we did not know if you would be early on Friday or extremely late. I know it is difficult for you Tom, away from home, but I know she is expecting you to be a bit more thoughtful at present. I am sure too that it is thought that I am rushing this wedding because I have to see to most of the arrangements. So will you please write and tell your mother everything. Its certainly not so good when all the news comes from me. Although we have told them several times that the furniture is going to live round at my home and that we shall have two rooms at home, they still want to know where we are going to live. Your Ma asked us during the course of your bath yesterday, so Bill spoke up for us and said that he thought that during the war the answer was obvious. I was almost told off for not buying you a more useful present for the wedding – heaven knows what business it is of other peoples as long as we give each other what we want. Forgive this little spurt won't you Tom, but I have the Monday morning feeling at the moment, and I am feeling and I know Nancy agrees, that I am getting all the blame for these deeds. I know these are only petty details and you usually shut your eyes to such things, but it would be nicer for me if you could explain everything in your own words, and of course do not mention the fact that I have said anything or been grumbling to you. I know life has it ups and downs, but every cloud has a sliver lining. Will you see what you can do about making up a hymn for the wedding. I think it would be really lovely if you could and add to the enjoyment of the actual service and be really good when we look back on it in several years time. I have just had to make an envelope and I think you will agree with me that the result is a proper "stitch up" in the real sense of the word. Today is very dull. No sun today and it is very dark, Novemberish. Tomorrow I am firewatching again and Mr Davies is going to perform with another gramophone recital and this time we are going to use Mr Graddon's gramophone, and Mr Addison is coming along I understand,specially to hear the "Moonlight Sonata". I will try and write tomorrow if I have any news, so good bye for the present and do not forget to a) see the MO and b) write to your mother. I hope all goes well with captain Duffy, All my love, Margaret

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Margaret to Tom 14.5.12

Thursday Evening, 14th May 1942 After the letter of yesterday, I think I have exhausted all powers of letter writing which is within me, so don't expect much from this letter will you, but nevertheless I shall do my best. Today it has been dull and bright alternatively as I expect it will clear up by Whitsun. I am secretly hoping that we shall get all the rain now, and that all July will be fine. I think we should have a very beautiful day for our wedding don't you? Mr Davies is hoping to obtain all the materials for a cinema show on our next fire watch. He is borrowing a projector from a lady whom I think really wants to sell it. he has a few films at home, including his wedding, and he said that one is really the most interesting to them, especially now they have been married for a few years. I have told you all this because, if it would be possible, it would be lovely to have a cinematograph film taken at our wedding, and I wondered whether your father would have any influence in the matter. I believe he did have some cine film of you and Ronald as children didn't he? So no doubt he knows all about these things. But I dare say these are difficult to get and quite expensive nowadays. Tonight I have been mending old clothes. It really is a job and will take me weeks to get them mended. I do wish I could throw them al away and get new ones, but I really must not grumble, at least I can say I have very few patched panties and if they are patched, it is probably not in the same place as yours. At long last I have finished reading Cranford, so you can read it when you are not too busy. It really is very interesting and I'm glad I bought it now. I may go up to town tomorrow after work to buy the handbag. Marjorie doubts whether I shall get a really decent one under £4 or £5. At any rate, if I do not buy one, I can get an idea of the bag I really want. I am writing this in bed. I feel very clean, having just had a bath. I just looked up and behold – Great Gable was staring me in the face. You know the picture so very well don't you? Every night when I gaze on this picture I always think of that lovely holiday we spent at Wastwater.Do you remember that evening when the bright blue sky mingled with the passing snow white clouds. The lake was so calm with little wavelets dashing against the stones. Oh Tom, as I write this, my heart is simply aching for us to return there. I believe that even as we were standing there by the lake, the German Bombers were on the their way to England to begin their brutal warfare on London. I am tempted to seek refuge in these hills, away from all the horrors of war. Why should we suffer because men can't govern a country without waging a war? But I shan't go on, I shall make your heart ache too for all those lovely surroundings. I feel that as we know those reasons so well, we can dwell there in spirit. If ever I am depressed, I think of the holidays we have spent there and as I am often depressed nowadays, those thoughts are forever creeping in. I must close now, as I am tired and will finish this tomorrow. All my love, Margaret Friday afternoon Mother phoned me before lunch to say that we are to go over to Peter's 21st tomorrow. Peter came home yesterday on 9 days leave so he does not return until Sunday week. That length of time would be ideal for a honeymoon wouldn't it? In the first place we were to go to there Saturday week, but it is thought uncle might be in hospital by then, He is going in for treatment for his rheumatism. Marion sits for her exam on Wednesday I suppose its the first librarian's exam, that was another reason why the party was to be Saturday week. Reverting to films (the ones I was telling you about last night) I think it is highly improbably we could get one for the wedding. We shall have great difficulty in getting an ordinary one. Mr Davies was telling me this morning that the chemists in this area say that the quota of film they get nowadays is only £4 worth as opposed to £1,000 which is, of course, the reason why they are so scarce. The next quota arrives on June 1st, so if we are lucky, we may be able to get one on that day. (I don't suppose you believe the above figure, but anyway, that's what I was told). In the mean time, perhaps you will let me know the size you want and I will scout round. This morning I rose at the early hour of 7.15. I had asked Dad to wake me early , but why I wanted to be awakened early, I just could not remember, but anyway, I got up in case I should remember, but I didn't. I played with Shandy and I'm sure I did not want to get up just for that. Anyway, I was rewarded by hearing Leslie Weatherhead at 7.55. he has been on all this week and I have, as a rule, only heard spurts of his 5 minute sermon. He was exceedingly good and gives you something new to think about every time. The publican and the sinner was his theme. I have not played tennis at al this week apart from the fact I had decided not to play the ground is not really fit. I went down on Tuesday evening and of your Mrs Eddowes was there playing with Mrs Norris who has joined us this year. I rolled the whole of the damp shady court and was told it looked better for it, so i have done my good turn for this week. We now have a definite gardener, so no more hard work for us. He is in the fire service and is a large brawny chap, so we should be alright, don't you think so? The shortage of tennis balls is very acute and I'm afraid tennis will depart with the shortage, unless something is done there will be no tennis clubs next year. If you are in Cheltenham at all on Saturday perhaps you will inquire for tennis balls. We should be grateful if you could. Mrs Eddowes should never have sold those balls last year, but she wouldn't take any notice of us would she? All my love, Margaret

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Margaret to Tom 13.5.1942

Thank you for the very welcome phone call. It was lucky I was in because the prospects of a walk with Shandy was hovering around at that time and was only posponed on account of havinga lovely game of ball and hide'n'seek in the house. Shandy is likea child and revels in hide-'n-seek, but he's very good at it now and usually finds me first go. It was lovely to hear you again, but with the limit of 3 minutes its hard to know what to say, at least which is the most important to say. I would have thought too, that 1/2d was enough. It was 1/4d from Swansea. Yes, I heard your little chat with the operator. He kept telling me to hold on. As if I wouldn't! Well as I told you over the phone, I was very disappointed yesterday because all the seats on the coaches were booked. I went along to Finchley and he told me the coaches running on Sunday 24th are quite numerous. One at 8.50, 8.55, 10 and 10.30 and others, and they were all booked. So Dad rang up the Victoria coaching station and they had two seats on the 2.00pm which does not arrive until 6.46, which I think would be rather late wouldn't it? So if we come and I sincerely hope we do, it will be the train and possibly a very full one at that. If we could have booked on the coach, I feel our passage would have been secure, both for arriving and departing. I suppose we could not take singles on the train and return by coach, if that would not cost too much & the coaches for return are not booked up, perhaps we could do that. I expect there will be several coming back on the Monday &, if, by chance you go into Cheltenham during the next few days, perhaps you will enquire. To return to the ground again, I must say that our Mr Davies is an extremely wicked Staff Officer. He now brings in a pint of mill, and I now have to make coffee for the three of us in the morning. Needless to say, I suggested it in the first place, but only because we have some milk over from fire watching the other day. He even comes in the kitchen to drink it. He just does what he likes now, and spends most of his time thinking about that pick up for the wireless and generally messing around with it. Of course he works occasionally. The other day (Monday, the day we were firewatching) it was really funny. He insisted on coming to lunch with Ethel and me – well we had to buy some things for the evening, including a very long loaf which determined to stick its head out of my music case (which is always my shopping basket) Mr D insisted on carrying my shopping basket. On the way back to the Grange, we met all the people imaginable and the very last straw was Mr Grant our Regional Director who had to go to lunch just as we were going in. It was very unfortunate but of course nothing was said, its hardly becoming for a staff officer to walk about with bread and Clerical officers during lunch is it? I don't see why not, but I know many old hags would not approve. Mr D is going to commence traveling in three weeks time so we will be able to have another fire watch with him before he goes. He is so enthusiastic about fire watching that he hopes to fit it in during his travels. You won't be surprised when I tell you that Ethel is getting really too friendly with him , at least that is what I think, not that it matters in the least, but office people are apt to enlarge on such friendships and talk and it lowers the rank of an S O considerably if you understand me. Of course, Ethel is sensible. She went over to Mr D's place on Sunday last and went absolutely mad over his kiddies, especially the little one, who is apparently bubbling over with health which is very good considering the war rime food etc. The children are certainly looked after in this war for food.Orange juice can be obtained through clinics and lots of other good stuff necessary for youngsters. But no doubt you will not be interested in all this, and I must change the subject. I see already that I have expanded on my usual size of letter, but this brain-burst is entirely due to the fact that (1) the phone call has put new life into me. (2) I am feeling much better (3) Bottle of Virol obtained yesterday price 3/9d (this is a vitamin supplement or tonic (4) prospects of seeing you soon (5) my love for you The only things that breaks my heart is the distance between us. Winnie may beat me to the altar even yet, because she has definitely consented to marry Barry on his next leave, which may be anything from a fortnight to 6 months. I said there's a chance for me to be a bridesmaid yet. I phoned your mother up this evening & forgot to send your love, anyway you will probably give that in your next letter and besides, I know that after my visit to Swansea, when your Ma and Pa came along on the evening of my return, I told them that you sent your love, which I made up as I don't believe you gave me any message for them. Anyway, I know your mother was very pleased and I was feeling a bit of a fool, but I know you really meant me to say it. Well I must close this epistle now. By the way I understand the the airgraph service is starting shortly so its just as well you posted the letter to Ronald. Thanks for obtaining the accommodation & also for the phone call, All my love, Margaret PS I asked your mother to send your vests & pants along. I understood you to say long pants, but she says (& I don't think) you have ever had any.