Dear Mum, I’m writing this very late at night, or perhaps it’s actually very early in the morning ˗ but the trouble is of late that when I arrive home, somebody always suggests that we have coffee, and either this or else the lack of conversation at work during the evening tends to cause me to lie in bed for ages awake. So I thought I might as well stay up awake and do this instead. Thank you for the photo ˗ I have the funny feeling that I’ve already thanked you, but as I have that about everything these days I’m always under the impression that I’ve actually written letters I never have. You look a little plump (and so does Barbara [my younger cousin]) I must say; I’m certainly glad to see you looking so well and fit. Another request: can you send me one where you’re smiling? You look a little as though John had said something rude to you, or something! [John was Barbara’s younger brother.] No, seriously, though thanks for the photo, very much ˗ it mainly reassures me that I hadn’t forgotten what you look like after all!
I said to Reg that you’d sent it, and he was most interested because he hadn’t seen a photo of you since you were married. Good grief! They’re moving house soon ˗ don’t know if they’ve actually got a place, but the point is that Mavis has been told that the present place is too much for her (it’s a two-storey semi-detached, and the stairs even kill me ˗ I like to think I can run up any set of stairs anywhere; not this lot!) and so they are going to get a smaller bungalow. Which means Nina will have to go somewhere else, though Reg was a bit vague on where exactly. The funny part about that is that Nina does do a fair bit of the housework, so she may turn out to be a bit of a loss; and anyway they always have the place so spick and span it's positively unlived in; no wonder they kill themselves with work! (By contrast the flat is pretty messy frequently, though never despairingly so, and Angela is a great one for house cleaning at weekends, but we survive without going to great lengths to ensure that everything is always in a certain place. (That’s an old philosophy of mine anyway, isn’t it?) [I may not have adhered to it as strongly as Reg, who certainly had the motto: a place for everything and everything in its place.]
...The Fight on the Bus, by M F Crowl
I went upstairs on a rather full bus one night, followed by a slightly stewed group of East End boys, with two or three of their girls, and because there wasn’t enough room for them all to sit down up there (and no one is allowed to stand upstairs) they started clowning around and sitting on each others’ laps, etc. One even went bowling headlong down the bus and fell up against the front. Somehow or other they got arguing with some slightly older boys on the front right. And before we knew what was happening, the most drunk of these boys (the E. Enders) was punching someone violently on the head and his mate wasn’t trying to create much peace either. The other slightly less drunk ones, and particularly one girl, got worried at this and they tried to get the worst offender off the bus, and this just created chaos. Fortunately the bus stopped, and as well as several other people getting off hurriedly, so did all this lot of louts ˗ but apparently one of them was caught, I presume by some handy copper. End of Incident, though the bus sat there for ages after that while things were sorted out. the main victim had a bleeding lip, and blood all over his sportscoat. Ugh! Everyone’s adrenalin must have gone spinning around during those few moments ˗ my blood was certainly going a trifle berserk.
Can you do a small thing for me? I’ve been feeling it’s a waste of time having several rather useful books sitting around at home doing nothing, and I’m wondering if it would be too expensive to send them over? If it would be then we’ll forget the whole idea, and be done with it, but it was mainly a few reference books I mean. For example, Piston’s book on Orchestration, the three paperbacks comprising Dante’s Divine Comedy (Dorothy Sayers edited [translated, in fact]: are Hell or Inferno, Purgatory and Heaven); suddenly all the others I thought of have gone. Tell you what though, if next time you write an enveloped letter, can you on the back of the newsheets write a list of those music books, poetry books (just the paperbacks here will do) and books on films that are say later than 1950? If it doesn’t take up too much of your time, that is; and I’ll tell you which would be worth sending (cost considering, of course). Novels aren’t much use bothering with I think ˗ I can always get a cheap copy here if necessary. Hope this won’t be too much trouble ˗ I can’t new remember whether I had them classified purely under authors or if the reference stuff was separate. Anyway, good luck to you! I’d rather like the Beethoven Sonata and Bach P. and Fugues books too, I think. [Even for me, this seems an extraordinary request. The books would have weighed a ton.]