Dear Mum, I too have been lax - HAPPY EASTER!!! It’s no use sending an Easter egg from this end; they have the silliest and most useless eggs here. I brought some for the Crowls, and all I could get that were reasonable and worthwhile were mere shells with packets of lollies inside. (As it turned out I didn’t give them to them after all ˗ on Sunday morning no eggs appeared on the breakfast table, so rather than embarrass them by bringing mine out, I left it. Reg commented during the meal, anyway, that they were getting too old for eggs! Obviously I’ve reached my second childhood rather prematurely. I brought the eggs back, and they can go in my lolly store.)
We had a rather windy time down at Westgate [Westgate-on-Sea] ˗ or hadn’t I even told you we were
Reg and Marg and I went for a long walk in the morning which was nice anyway, and when I got back to London after a very hot car ride, the weather was lovely and mild. Fabulous. The weekend as a whole was fairly pleasant, but it was interesting to see that when the Crowls got out of their natural surroundings in Woodland Way, the situation between them became a lot clearer and rather curious. Nina, it would almost seem, runs the women’s side of the house ˗ in fact I suspect that she has brought Margaret up! She still sort of suggests what should be done most of the time in connection with anything domestic, and tho’ she asks Mavis what should be done it’s quite obvious she already knows. This makes her sound rather horrible, but she is really rather sweet. And yet, towards Reg she can be very nagging without actually nagging. Good grief this is complicated! Mavis seems even more childlike than I’d ever noticed before ˗ perhaps it’s because of her deafness, and she has withdrawn into herself rather a lot. Reg would be the most informal of the lot if he got the chance, but he’s lived in formal surroundings so long that it’s hard to get him to relax.
I probably come as a complete shock to their system, I think, and cause some internal chaos by my mere presence. They certainly must think I’m getting madder ˗ and perhaps I am, tho’ it harms no one ˗ because I seem to keep them in a perpetual state of hysterics, especially on the long car trips. But I feel and I think for once I’m right to do so, that a holiday is for relaxing on, not for working twice as hard as you would normally. Nina and Mavis were quite determined that the house should be spring-cleaned from top to toe, if only they’d had the time between trips to other places. And they must always have meals punctually ˗ so that if Reg and I are out we must be back on time ˗ and yet if we arrange to meet them at a certain time, they’re likely to come anywhere within a half an hour of the time!?!
No wonder men have invented puzzles they can solve, because it seems that women are just about the most unsolvable puzzles on this earth. Still I suppose they’re worth it! [Obviously forgetting that I’m writing to a female of the species...]
|Bleak House, Broadstairs|
We did an awful lot of travelling around ˗ to Dover (where the cliffs are grey), Folkestone, which is very built up in the same sort of way that Kensington in London is ˗ very posh, and rich; to Broadstairs: Reg and I alone the second time, after we’d discovered its Dickensian associations ˗ one of the many homes that D lived in is there ˗ now called Bleak House, tho’ it isn’t the one in the book; and the town, a tiny place with terribly narrow streets, has Dickens restaurants and cafes, and ‘D slept here’ places, and at some time in the year a D festival. His study, where he wrote quite a lot of his middle period stuff, overlooked the wild sea ˗ no wonder the sea scenes in Copperfield are so effective ˗ tho’ they too are set in a different place.
As we were coming back to Westgate that night (it should be called Eastgate, incidentally), we saw for a few seconds before the houses blotted it out, the upper semicircle of the setting sun, outlined on the sea’s horizon, blazely red, but not so bright that it couldn’t be watched. We foolishly didn’t stop there, but raced to get past the houses only to find that it had already vanished, within seconds, and the grey mist was obscuring the line between the sea and sky.
We went to Canterbury Cathedral which is overpowering in its beauty. Either the men who built it were angels or else the Almighty took quite a frequent hand in its construction. And it’s a gold mine of history. We didn’t really have enough time to absorb everything, and neither did we have time to casually walk around the town which is also full of historic buildings. I’ll have to go back to these places on my own, or with someone younger perhaps, and really get my teeth into them. We did too much car travelling and not enough walking really, I think, tho’ some of the countryside, still regrettably in a late winter state, is very appealing in its great green, brown and grey sweep.
[handwritten] I want to send you a birthday present ˗ I can afford to, so there! ˗ but heaven knows when you’ll get it!! Love Mike.