10? Nov 69 [day is partly missing] [This letter comes after the triple one on the 7th Nov.]
Dear Mum, I’m sitting here writing this while waiting for my dinner to cook ˗ mid-day dinner that is, though it’s now about four thirty. I usually have it somewhat earlier than this, at least an hour (!) but don’t have to get along to work today, so I can afford to be a little later. It’s my permanent concoction: I started off very brightly at this flat once I’d got a job, endeavouring to have something new and interesting each day, and above all to eat meat all the time; I think that’s where the trouble may have lain last year, cold wise. Anyway, my ambitious scheme has, as usual, melted down into a day after day recipe that I use, to nobody else’s concern by mine own, which has a basis of braising steak, and turns itself gradually into a sort of stew as the cooking process goes on. The steak, while not the cheapest of meats, is more use, than say chops, which tend to look as though all the meat has been cooked off them by the time they’re ready to eat, and anyway as I only buy a half pound at a time, and this lasts me for two days, or more, depending on whether I actually have time to cook it ˗ some days I have to eat in town ˗ it works out quite economically. I have the occasional chop (pork seems to me the most use as the lamb chops are very meagre here unless you’re willing to buy the whole lamb), and occasionally some mince, but I should be able to eat this favourite recipe for a while yet!
I fry the steak first, only for a few seconds each side though, otherwise I wind up with singularly well-done steak, and then using the same pan, pour some vegetable soup mix, with its water over it, and then gradually (depending on how long it takes to prepare them) add chopped up carrots, potatoes (sliced up), onion, tomatoes, sometimes mushrooms, a bit of curry some days, and anything else that will mix in reasonably well. I cook some greens as well ˗ again much the same ones each day: brussel sprouts ˗ they seem to cook easiest and best ˗ and this makes a lovely big dish; in fact it’s often too much and the leftovers sit in the fridge until I feel like reheating them. (Or else as has happened twice, someone has come in looking hungry and finished it.) So I am surviving quite well thanks.
We’ been waiting for snow for the last week and last night there was a bit of a flurry but it came to nowt. But in the meantime London is slowly freezing to death under his great overhanging cold.
...do you remember I’d said that we’d had an intruder? Well, on Sunday night while there were three of us in the house going to bed ˗ would be believe? ˗ some twerp opened our front bathroom window, and presumably because he couldn’t get it further than six inches open, pinched all, or most, of the stuff off the windowsill. This being a very wide sill, and because we haven’t got a cabinet, all the boys’ toilet gear is stored there as well as some of the girls’ stuff. David had been away for the weekend and so his stuff wasn’t there this time, but the blasted burglar pinched my toilet bag whole with all my shaving gear and a variety of other things in it, as well as other odds and ends that were lying about. No great loss of course, except to my convenience, and my sentiment: I think the razor was the only one I’ve ever had and the little blue nail brush and that plastic black comb both went too. Rather upsetting really, but what can you do?
We rang up the estate agents and they’ve given us the go ahead to fix proper locks on all the windows, but it’s a bit late of course. I went down to Woolworths and restocked and this was quite expensive to do all in one go. I haven’t bought another bag of course ˗ little point unless I’m going away somewhere special. The trouble as well was that it came in the same pay as the one I’d sent three quid out of for Francisco ˗ I haven’t had a thing but it must be due ˗ oh, yes, I said to her to send the receipt to you in your name ˗ it’s more use to you than me. And also I’d just sent a parcel off to Korea for him ˗ at long last ˗ and this had set me back a touch more than I expected.
What am I going to get you for Christmas? The time is getting shorter and I haven’t even started to think about it yet. The Crowls by the way are definitely going to move, did I say? Mavis is on the verge of a state of nervous collapse apparently, and the doctor said they’ve got to separate her and Nina, for the former’s health’s sake. So things are a bit gloomy up there just now: I haven’t spoken to Reg since the weekend, but he sounded older than usual by some years, and not happy at all.
I went and filled in for a rehearsal for Dave on Sunday ˗ a children’s choir doing modern music; good grief they’re fantastic; I felt very inadequate, but fortunately wasn’t called upon to do anything especially awkward. The kids (ranging from under ten to late teens) have marvellous senses of pitch; they were singing stuff that was a semitone apart with ease. Better go; my meal is about to bubble all over the .....