Dear Mum, the letter that should have followed up my last one immediately never has, so this will have to fill its place. Just a small point ˗ I notice that your letters aren’t coming with anywhere near the regularity that they were and since they have been coming at the rate of nearly two a week for the last eight months, I’m just wondering if there’s anything wrong ˗ you’re not ill or anything? I’m not in the least worried about their irregularity, and this isn’t a dig to get you writing the same number per week again or anything, but do let me know if you’re okay, won’t you? You’re not allowed to get sick any more than I am!
I was lying in bed the other night, on a particularly sleepless night, and suddenly remembered that my birthday was just around the corner ˗ so I said to Jeff, who also had trouble getting to sleep (we finally got up and had a cup of chocolate each ˗ about two!) that I thought I might give a party in the weekend preceding the actual date, and as things worked out I did. And it seemed to go off fairly well too. Hazel came down early and helped with the catering, which was very good, because it wouldn’t have been a patch on that otherwise, and about a dozen people came in all. David Gorringe and Hazel were the first to arrive, and since it was an absolutely perfect afternoon (I suggested they come down early) we went for a walk across the Heath and into Greenwich Park.
When we got back Michael was sitting on the bit of Heath nearest my place reading; he’d been there nearly 3/4 of an hour! Kevin came (and a kitten arrived from next door) and after we’d got the food ready, and it was still warm (we had all the doors open) we played cards for a while. Then as it was still fabulously mild outside, we went back on the Heath again, with Kate, who arrived just in time, and walked for ages, playing around in great style ˗ talk about second childhoods! We went back into the Park, just before it closed, and then returned home as it was getting dark. By this time Jeff had come back with Moyra Paterson (from the Centre; a Scots girl and a very down-to-earth person) and her flatmate (also LOC) Joyce; they’d been there for a bit before we came back. I felt that we’d been a bit rude going out, and apologised, but it seemed a pity to waste the weather (it’s been up to 73 degrees today, they said) and they didn’t really seem to mind. [I think the UK must still have been using Fahrenheit at this point.]
John arrived eventually; he’s still going about in a half-with-us state ˗ was supposed to start a new job today, and was also supposed to be coming back here to stay last night, but didn’t. I quite honestly think he’s mad keeping a flat on when he either hasn’t enough money to afford it (or says he hasn’t; I have my doubts) or just never stays here! He took Hazel and David home last night after the party, and apparently said to them on the way home ‘I don’t think Michael quite understands me yet! ˗ I’m afraid that very few other people do either. Julie thinks he’s barmy! (Did I tell you incidentally to go and see Finian’s Rainbow? It’s something I think you’d enjoy very much, in spite of Fred Astaire!) [ I seem to remember my mother was never very impressed with Astaire; she didn’t think much of men dancing in movies, for some reason.]
I got paid today for both the work I did for Wilfred Josephs, and the stuff I did for David Syrus last week. I charged the Josephs £3-5 for the seven hours work I did on two nights last week ˗ it was the most boring job I’ve ever done, and I felt like charging them more! But he sent a nice wee note with the cheque thanking me and saying he was very pleased with the work, so, you never know, something else may yet come of it. They did mention some other work when I was there, but only mentioned it. They have one of the many three-storied (plus basement) semi-detacheds that are right on the edge of Hampstead Heath. Anyone who’s anyone lives in Hampstead ˗ they say!
I did most of my work in a sort of spare front bedroom, full of junk they were trying to sell. It also looks as tho’ it was used for just relaxing in, as a sort of non-visitors’ lounge. I worked on a built-in dressing table, surrounded by old copies of Music and Musicians, etc, children’s toys, old sofas and chairs, 19th-century miscellania, posters advertising works of Wilfred Josephs ˗ particularly his Requiem; it seems to have [been] the high spot of his composing. His own music room is rather fabulous: it has a grand piano covered with stuff so that only the keyboard is visible ˗ hundreds of books (including Ellery Queen in some profusion) and tapes, hundreds of photos, signed and unsigned, music stands with copies of his works, and a marvellous air of comfortableness ˗ how he does any work in there I don’t know. He has what looks like an old scullery or kitchen done up as a little recording studio with tape machines and hi-fi, etc. He seems rather pleasant ˗ plump, and 45-ish, and his wife hides quite a good business head, I should think, behind an air of quiet control. They have two talkative “English” children. [I have no idea what the emphasis on ‘English’ is here.] (And an au pair, and three very friendly poodles!)
Mr Bamford, whom I’m slowly getting use to ˗ you let his bluster run off you like water on oil, and find that he never means to be rude ˗ is amazingly rude to his wife. They have phones [handwritten] connecting their basement workshop and their flat, five floors above (and the lift hasn’t worked for two months or more!) and one day he spoke to her terribly rudely and I expected to go up and find her in tears ˗ but she was smiling quite happily. Obviously she pays no more attention to him than I’m slowly learning to! Love Mike
P.S. Cheque and P.N.’s arrived on the 13th!! Glad to hear you’ve just been busy. I suspected that you and Mrs Ryan might team up. Hope it’s all working okay. Thanks. [I presume this my mother's sister, my aunt.]
Re FUDGE: Hazel, David, John etc have all taken to it. Please send either a recipe or some more!!