Monday, 24 October 2011

From Margaret Robinson to Tom Critchley's son, undated, (spring 1942)

53 Buckingham Avenue
London N 20

My Dear Tom,

I have not received your letter yet but no doubt it will be awaiting me at the office to-morrow morning. It may have arrived by the late afternoon post which I missed through going to the ARP place at East Finchley. We left the office at 2.30 this afternoon, about 8 of us went, 4 girls and 4 men and Mr Davies leading us. We had practically an hour and a half there, so you can guess we did not feel like going back to the office just to sign off. It was a very good do. We donned gas capes & leggings & gum boots and one at a time disappeared into a tin hut which contained a real fire and a fire bomb to be put out. We had to lie on the floor close to the instructor whilst he guided our hands and told us what to do. (Bet he enjoyed himself when the girls went in). Having disposed of the fire, we next proceeded to the gas hut where we actually had to take our gas masks off. So it was quite an interesting afternoon. I must say I feel more of a fire watcher now. Our fire watching last night was interesting as usual, but quiet. We read and talked most of the time after a lovely supper of chips & sausage meat, which Ethel & I cooked. We always do ourselves well on a fire watching don't we? Then later, about midnight, we had coffee and cakes. For breakfast, I was asked to cook one of my famous welsh rarebits. (Mr Davies insisted). You haven't heard about them have you? I shall have to make it for you when you come home, because I have had a lot of practice now. I have hit on a very bright idea. Ethel reminded me that when I'm married, I shall have to pay National Health, which amounts to 6/10 one month (4 weeks) and 8/5 another. Well as I should have to go to the doctor to be examined before he will take me as a panel patient, I could join N.H.I. a month before marriage and get all fixed up with a definite doctor. The visit would only cost 6/10 instead of 10/- or more. Your mother phoned me this evening and, as I had not received a letter today, she read hers out to me. I expect you will be sorry to leave there in 9 weeks time. I'm very glad you are not going to the search-light unit. Fancy giving Bowen a rifle with a fixed bayonet. He must have looked funny especially as I don't suppose he knew how to use it. I suppose you will have to take your turn on guard duty sometime. Winnie has now decided to get married on her fiance's next leave, whenever that may be. Apparently he has been pressing her for sometime. What we girls have to put up with! I'm still wondering how all the thousands of girls manage to perform their duties as a wife and yet continue at the office. What if they start a family with neither proper home nor food? Well I shall finish this at the office tomorrow, when perhaps I shall have your letter to answer. Tuesday I received your lovely long letter this morning. Evelyn had put it safely away in my desk drawer. Congratualtions on coming 2nd. What a pity George will not be staying with you. I expect he will have gone by Whitsun, when I am hoping to come down, though I really do not know where the money will come from. When I get paid on Thursday I shall be spending quite a lot on various clothes. A friend of mother's has offered me her coupons, although even with those I shall not have enough. Besides I shall not use the whole 18 it would not be fair would it? It should be a case of special leave for getting married. I noticed in the paper the other day, that a certain gunner Marks had obtained leave three times to marry the same girl. Apparently first time was in a registry office and as he was Jewish, he had to get married according to the Jewish faith (second time). The third time was because his records at the synagogue were destroyed in an air raid, so it's possible to get leave more than once if necessary. You mentioned you only received one letter. Well, another one should have reached you on Saturday this was also without "A Coy" as I did not receive your letter until Friday evening at home. I wonder if you will manage to live near home when you finish the course. It would be lovely. I should be very pleased to meet all your friends. By the way, I may be fire watching on the date we have fixed for our wedding, so we may have to spend our honeymoon at the office. What a revolting thought!!!! Well I suppose I had better get on with some work! All my love, and remember me to the others won't you?
PS Mr Davies wants to hire a bus so that he can gather everybody together and come along to the wedding. But I'm not sure I shall allow a big red bus to stand by such a great church and mar our beautiful picture, rather like Hampstead Heath on a bank holiday!

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