Dear Mum, I’ve just received a couple of Tablets and that calendar (three newspapers indeed!) and then later on this morning two parcels of books, the ones that had appeared to vanish for a while. Thanks very much indeed, but can I ask you, is this the last lot of books you’ve sent? Because if it is, there are one or two things I’d thought I’d asked you for and perhaps haven’t. Did I ask for the Beethoven sonatas? They are in three books of the type that the Bach Preludes and Fugues are in, and should have been up on the shelf about the Jam. (!) And there were four books on Shakespeare by Granville Barker; the volume that hasn’t come is on Hamlet alone. Perhaps Marilyn has it ˗ if so don’t be worried, but I would be grateful if you’d have another ...wee...look, please.
The Dickens books too aren’t quite what I expected ˗ dear, dear, this does sound bloomin’ ungrateful of me, doesn’t it? Actually looking at what I have, and recalling what else was at home I’m inclined to think that perhaps you have sent another parcel. In case you haven’t, the other Dickens were Nicholas Nickleby (I’m sure I had a copy, but perhaps I’m mistaken there), Pickwick Papers ˗ definitely on the shelves! Barnaby Rudge, Martin Chuzzlewitt (you’ve sent one copy of this ˗ there were two ˗ but this one is the old, old one that had been in the house since before I was born, and some darling child at some stage has scribbled all over it and torn out the last few pages!) Great Expectations (it was in that edition that I had some others from: small and red-covered and readable!) The only other one, as I think I’ve said before, that may not be there, because I don’t know if I ever got it back from Marilyn, is David Copperfield. Quite possibly if you have already sent these they’ll have arrived when you get this, or something silly. If you haven’t and have a couple of bob to spare some one of these days, can you forward them? Am I a blasted pest? Let me know please! [I imagine even my mother would have answered the question about being a pest with a definite Yes!]
After telling myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books this week, because I haven’t put anything in the bank for about three weeks or more, and because I keep paying out for necessary things, I went out and bought a much too expensive copy of Tiny Alice, a play by Edward Albee (who wrote Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a play which you must have heard of), which Mike and I had seen on Wednesday night [like the Broadway production, it starred Gielgud and Irene Worth.] How great a play it is I don’t know, but it was so elliptical and so interesting and so difficult-quite-to-understand on one viewing that I decided that a reading was required. David had seen it too, and we spend the little time we see each other these days in figuring it out, and getting ourselves further into its apparently endless depths. It’s all (well, some of it) about losing one’s faith (two of the main characters are Catholics, and I suspect Albee is - or may have been - a Catholic too, because of the fact that so many of the lines have a ring of Catholic liturgy about them), and symbolises to a certain extent a variety of things like the Mass and the Trinity and perhaps Christ even in the character of another man ˗ at least it does to me! Other people apparently have found quite the opposite: that it is more about diabolism than the other. Anyway it’s worth a further look into it. [I was wrong about Albee having been a Catholic; and I’m not surprised that we struggled to understand the play. Even Albee himself seems to have wondered what it was all about at times!]
I’m also at present on the third part of The Divine Comedy (that you sent); what a fabulous story and allegory and all things in one! It makes one feel happy to be a Catholic, and that one is part of such a great scheme of Love, so to speak.
The Story of the Shoe. Remember those shoes I bought last week? Well, the first day I wore them they seemed fine until towards evening when my left foot started to ache and hasn’t stopped since. Right where the laces are tied. I couldn’t wear the left shoe, and finally took it back to try and get it stretched, thinking that would help. Well, after two days of this (which quite honestly didn’t really help the look of the shoe, and anyway, my foot seems to have got annoyed and just refuses to be comfortable in any shoe, old or new) I took it home again, and this morning quite by chance had a look at the size of it, because it said a 7 and I thought I’d bought a 7½. The right shoe is a 7½! I took them back with considerable speed and annoyance, and at first they weren’t too happy about doing anything, and haven’t yet; they’re got to wait for the Guv’nor (English Guv’nors are apparently never on the premises). So I’m to ring them on Monday. But I’m not backing down on it, which I think they thought I would, because the blessed things cost me over five pounds and I don’t feel like damaging me foot for life for their sake!
I received a reply from the CIB, with a photo and some details of a young lady, and now apparently we have to wait and see whether she will reply favourably to my ‘details!’ If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny, and if it wasn’t so funny it might be serious! We’ll survive, I guess, and at present I’m looking on it as something of an adventure ˗ like all adventures rather fraught with terrors, and overcomable in the end. Wish me luck and lend us a few spare prayers, and we’ll get by. Love, Mike