Friday, 20 May 2011

Letter to Molly Platt from Tom Critchley 30.4.1941


My Dear Molly,

If you are out to criticise the spelling of a Critchley you have a very easy task. If you are a true Critchley or even only half a one (pedantically 'an one' usage says a one) you can't spell for nuts. I don't know anything about the Platts, but the Critchleys are quite unable to spell. All they can do is give words their correct meaning.
You say the Oxford dictionary may not apply to Scotland since it is English. I would be glad to know what language they speak in Scotland, and what the Scots speak when they come to England. It is a problem I have often pondered, because there is undoubtedly some resemblance to English in some of the words.
As for 'sort', it seems to have assorted meanings, & the Scots resort to it on all sorts of occasions. Ever since the sort, or union, they have tried to dis-sort (unfix or break away) themselves from the sort with the English. Not that we the English sought sort with them, they aren't the sort one would chosse to sort with, or consort with; no on our part it was quite unsought. What can't be sorted must be endured. One thing I must admit, the scenery makes some asorts (amends) for the people.
Have I got into a sort (fix)? or have I got into the way of using sort correctly? No doubt you can sort it out.
We have had very little sunshine, a short spasm now & then just to show there is a sun, but it still keeps cold, too cold for the time of the year.
We, like you are outside the balloon barrage, the nearest is 2 or 3 miles away, the works too is outside but from there, we can count several hundred on a clear day, mainly the ones around East London & the Thames. Did we tell you of the time we saw an airman come down by parachute & drop onto a balloon? They had to lower the balloon to get him off, It was during the time of the big fights by day over London.
During the Blitz, which we so fortunatlely missed by staying in St Helen's until Sunday, two people I know had rather trying experiences. A man in our office had a land mine in his garden & it didn't go off. He said it was over 10 ft long & nearly 3 ft in diameter, & dropped into soft earth and stuck there until the RE's came and took off the detonators. The son of a neighbour of ours came to see us on Sunday. He said he was gazing out of a window at his flat when he saw the parachute fall, He chucked himself flat & says it seemed quite  time before there was a vivid yellow flash & then he got a brick on his head & felt glass going through his clothes.
During the last war 2 Zepps were brought down near us & the crews were buried at Potters' Bar. On our way home from St Helens, we passed the cemetery & noticed a crowd of people there. The previous night Jerry had dropped a land mine in this cemetery & scattered graves all over the place.
I hope you have a pleasant time when you visit your friends, though I cannot imagine anyone enjoying themselves amongst such people (Grandpa is, of course only teasing Molly about her friends BC).
Love from Auntie Annie and Uncle Tom

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Tom Critchley to Mary Platt 30.4.41


My Dear Mary & Harry

We are tonight indulging in an orgy of letter writing; this is the third, first to the Palestine exile, then the soldier son faithfully serving his King and country on holiday in Keswick & now your turn. Badly expressed I fear!!
Thank you very much for the plants which arrived in good condition and are now split up and planted. I fear they won't get their accustomed water in our garden, the big trees suck up what water is available.
Those land mines near us made a shocking mess, about the worst I have seen; we feel thankful we missed that lot.
Tom left at 5.30am, got to St Helens at 12.20, left there at 2.30 & got to Keswick about 7.00 296 miles, so it wasn't bad going for the old car. He is staying overnight at St Helens on the way back. I am wondering what Phoebe thought about his Margaret or Maggie as Seth calls her (Ronald's name for her is Gorgeous). She is, with strangers, rather quiet, but quite a nice girl.
Today we have had a practice for the invasion. All around our place here, the Coldstream Guards have been occupying the roads and hedges. I got a shock at mid-day to find a bloke with a bren gun pointed at me near the end of our road & tonight another bloke did pretend rapid rifle fire as I came along.
It was surprising how well they hid themselves & kept lorries and such things camouflaged & under cover. They even had leaves on thier tin hats.
Now I'll reply to that daughter of yours. I cannot think what sins you can possibly have committed to have a Scot inflicted on you.
Perhaps it's your husband's fault and not yours. Anyhow, it must be a trial, hard to bear.
Love to you both from us both,