Friday, 17 December 2010

Tom Critchley to Mollie Platt 17.12.1940

My dear Mollie,
I hope you will be able to find something entertaining to swop for the enlcosed, something as amusing as some of Ronald's letters.
We had two letters this week from that hair-brained cousin of yours, posted while on holiday in Transjordan. He certainly seems to have been in the less civilised parts & to have thoroughly enjoyed it too.
Three of them went together & hired a car & driver for the journey across the desert; they took with them provisions, mineral waters, spades & letters of introduction to various sheiks. Meeting these sheiks seems to have been not the least thrilling part of their trip. He told us of one, dressed in whilte silk, who invited them to his house, gave them coffee, invited them to stay for 2 or 3 days & was most disappointed when they told him they had to hasten off. Anyhow, he mounted a lovely Arab horse & escorted them on part of the way amidst the cheering villagers.
If you have a good Atlas perhaps you can find some of the places he visited. Amman, Kerak, Ma'an, Petra, Agaba (at the head of the Gulf on the Red Sea) Jerash and Samak.
The most noted place of all is Petra, a relic of an unknown civilisation only rediscovered in fairly modern times & even now rarely visited. They had to hire horses & an armed escort to get to it & found it a most wonderful place with magnificent buildings hewn out of the sold rock (if you can call such by the name of buildings) who built them & when nodbody seems to be certain of, although the ubiquitous Romans seem to have been there & known about them. Apparently the road leads down a steep gorge, so steep that the sun doesn't penetrate & then opens out among steep red mountain cliffs, into the sides of which have been cut most wonderful high termples & you can find a book in your library which will tell you something about it.
Another thing he found a kick in, was scudding in the car over miles & miles of desert & seeing the darkness come suddenly while they were miles from any sign of habitation.
Agaba, he found most fascinating & like the pictures one sees of the South Sea Islands with palms growing down to the deep blue sea. There they went bathing & fishing & caught fish of all sorts of brilliant colours.
When the seasonal postal rush is over I must send these letters for you to read, they are full of superlatives, but he seems to have had a superlative holiday.
I hear you are getting quite expert with your camera & doing enlargements. Your other cousin Tom made his own enlarger, but it is't the sort I can recommend as now there are pieces of it strewn about the house. It can hardly be described as compact. Ronald, you know, had a very good camera which he dropped to the bottom of the Dead Sea to his great sorrow. since then he has purchased one of the very posh Lica cameras which take very small photos, but as they are of perfect definition they enlarge like contact prints. He is taking photos to illustrate the Bible, so, when he comes back his pictures should be well worth seeing.
By the way, Ronald & Tom have a cousin, a photographer in the Air Force, Harold Collett.
At last we come to the real reason of this letter, we wish you a very Happy Christmas & hope we shall be seeing you in the coming year when the Blitz is past history.
Love from Auntie Annie & Uncle Tom
(Annie writes)
Mollie, many aplogies for calling the (Glasgow) buses dirty. I expect it was the dark colours which made them look so funny among our bright red ones.
Anyhow, we ought to be thankful to all the places which have lent the the buses to "poor old London", as I have seen quite enough at poor old Enfield and Barnet. Do you remember coming to Somaford Grove? They had seven delayed action bombs round that district. We heard that all the people round there have been temporarily evacuated... that was last week. I am going down to East Barnet this afternoon, so may hear more.
What do you think about your young cousin going away to school?
The enlcosed are stamps from Ronald's last letter, which I don't expect you have, as they are "Trans Jordan". Uncle Tom didn't tell you that they (Ronald and his two pals) each bought a dagger, & that there were hyenas, leopards & wolves & cheetahs in the desert. Also the spades they took with them were in case they had to dig the car out of the sand. What a thrill!!
Well! We hope you will have a nice Christmas in spite of old Hitler & perhaps next year we may all meet again... I hope so.
PS (from Uncle Tom.) We have a 1936 Whitfield King Stamp Catalogue, is it any good to you? The Palestine stamps depict:- 3m, Rachel's Tomb, 50m Sea of Gallilee, 13m Mosque of Moer,  5m Citadel of Jerusalem.

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