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File0285.bmp                              Saturday 2nd January,                       Pax.

Dearest Duckie,

I'm afraid I haven't written to you for a thousand ages. The last letter T wrote took up so much energy that I haven't recovered from it till now, you see!

Every day I say to myself, I must write to Bet soon, as there is such a lot to say.  Every day dodges past me without letting me get the letter done.

However, I've now Managed to begin, but I don't know when I will end.   There is tons of rubbish to tell you.

Today is a Hunting Day, and therefore I have woken up early, because I always do on Hunting Days -   with excitement at the thought of getting after those foxes and Hounds. It is 6.30 a.m. and therefore quite dark still.   I haven't got up yet, but last night when I came up to bed I brought the typer up with me, and now I have got him to work.  Twm thinks I'm mad, and has turned round and gone to sleep «gain.   I'm just wondering how soon it will be before the typing noise penetrates through the wall to Mum's room, and she will come along and ask what the Hell I am doing.

The Meet today is at the Prince of Wales Inn, Froyle, and we will draw that big cover on the top of the hill there, High- wood, and then go away towards the Golden Pot, I hope.  We don't like going to Well.   I am going to ride Jority (who I have already hunted on Mon and Thurs of this week!! as Rachel Soames is coming to have a day on Gipsy, to see how she likes her, before having her while we are in India,

She is going to have Gipsy down in Essex which is where she is going to live after she has got married at the end of this month

Gay Mather is going to have the use of Jority while we are away, and she will keep her at the lovely stables of the National School of Equitation, which you may remember is that large riding place on the right hand side of that bit of road going towards London, just after you come off the Kingston By- pass.

Twm will be taken -  driven in state  - up to Stafford shire by me on Monday when I go up to the Copelands for a dance.

Lady Manning, who lives at Hampton Court, and has three daughters and no husband (she did have one) is going to have the Doves.

Rusty is going to his school, c/o Colonel Badcock, in Buckinghamshire.

So they are all fixed up, except for Shawgm and Bong, who of course have to Keep House for us here.



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We set sail for India on Friday next, the 8th. As usual, it has suddenly dawned on us that we are really going, and there is a terrible rush.   Luggage everywhere.   Dad has taken up the whole of the end spare bedroom, and puts out all his million of shoes and pyjamas and pants and shoe horns (or coaches) and scout uniforms, etc.   Mum's room is a picture of tidiness and unperturbed-ness, with a neat trunk just sitting in a corner of the room, not trying to get flustered or packed at all - in fact it is quite ready to start. Huge great holdalls are standing about, bulging with blankets, rugs, Hungarian cloak, Standard, etc.

I consider that my room in beautifully tidy. standing in the middle of It is a heap of suitcases, standing pyramid fashion, and topped by the little dressing case that Mrs Cope- land gave me.   But I haven't begun to think of packing yet, Everything will get so tired of being squashed if it is put in too long before we start.   These suitcases standing here need- not think they are all going to India, because they are not. I have brought them along here to see how few of them I can fit everything into.   So one or two of them have got to suffer dis- appointment.

Now I must recount to you a few of the past happenings since my last letter,  - Including Christmas of course, (which was nothing special, and we couldn't even be bothered to pluck Holly).

Well to begin with, Thankyou vary much for your letter of 7th December, written on writing Paper that T surmise was Stolen from Husband's Office, -  which reminds me, I hope by the time that you get this, the Airmail paper which I told Sturt to send off some time ago will have arrived.   I hope it will be the right thickness, etc.

To answer your letter, No, I'm not going to fly out to India, because a) It's £30 more expensive, and I haven't the cash (I have overdrawn my account by £42! And it will be a lot more in a couple of days' time as all the bills from Spencers, Smiths, Sturts, etc, are coming in now, before we go off!) b) there is always so much typing to be done for Dad on board ship, when he gets going, writing articles, etc.

I'm glad in a way that you haven't had your hair off, and as you say, hair that is short, and just Hangs is very ugly if not kept in order the whole time.   Also, your hair when JOWN and floating in the breeze as you flap about in bed, really looks very nice Indeed.

There seem to be many pros and cons about the Rey's pony. But I should think he would have just as good a home with you as he would with some rough Boer farmers.   Only there would be expense of railing him up to Livingstone and passage up the Zambesi (or would he Hike?) The thing would have been, of Course, if you could have got Mrs Rey to give him to you.

Tell her she did not give you a wedding present, and there is still something on the list that you want!



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It's suddenly "become Sunday 3rd January how, Sunday evening in fact,

I wrote a letter to G. this morning for Dad, Poor old parents are feeling a bit sore with their arms all pierced, so they are quite incapable of doing anything (Anything barrs writing of 3 articles by uad, and sticking of my scran book by Mum, in her dressing gown, in the drawing room, with her hair all loose and flying!)

Rosalind went to Church this morning.   I said I would acconpnay h§r across the fields with the dogs, and come back a#ain.   But by time it was time to sro to uhurch I had got so intrigued with, buried in, under and with my Packing for India, that I could not manage to go out walking.

Mr Scott Gunter came in for a drink just before lunch, and I showed him the film of yours which he was pleased to see, and you may be pleased to hear from one who is a bit of an authority on photography, he thought'the pictures very good indeed.

This afternoon Dad descended from his room - or rather Your room, as he was made to sieep in last night as he had a bit of a Temperature.   He sat in his study and toasted his toase and doazed.   Rosalind and I went out for a gentle ride after yes- terday's hunting.   We went along behind the Ainsworths and the Harrans, and up past Hill Farm and turn rierhthanded down on to the Main Koad. We had the two blacks and Twm with us of course, and when we got down on to the road, Shawgm immediately became the most disabeident and Terrible dog I have every known I jolly nearly lost my temper with him!   I had been kind enough to give him my stick to carry hime, as he had cone and asked Jority for it.   But would he keep to the side of the road to let all the Sunday traffic whizz past.   Wo, he would not.   He wobbled out in the middle of the road,and continued there.   And when a lorry sloed up tosteer round him, he aimed himself straight at its front wheel.   I yelled and screemed at him to go into Heel with .bong and Twm, but he went on gaily ferotting ahead, spurning all Motor Cars, and even dared to look back and wave his tail at us!   Gosh, he was annoying, he did edge to the side just a bit when there were no cars coming.   But afe soon as one appeared he sailed forth into the middle of the road again.   In the end I just hoped He would get run over, though I didn't actually want to See it happen.

BUT, to continue with your letter which I am still in the middle of answering.

Let me gather around me my wits, thoughts, faculties, reins, etc., and see where I had got to.

Oh yes, the Rey pony problem.   See if you can't get it for nothing.   Surely Jackie Masterman would help you to?

Next.  Christmas Present.

Yes, I did say I would send you some Gramophone Records, and I don't expect you have received them. That is easily explained,

because I haven't yet sent them.   At least I have, only I have only sent 3, so you probably won't notice them when they arrive. I meant to send more. I meant to go in to Andrews and*listen to some, and choose.   I meant to do all sorts of things,


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but I haven't.      Time has just rushed by, and now there's a

stampede to be ready to sail on Friday. So the gramophone records are very dull.      There's the Ralph Reader one with lovely Cockney accents, singing the Song in ray Heart.     Then about The Grasshopper Dance.     As you suggested I should do in one of my leisure hours, I rootled about under the gramophone to look for it.      But there was nothing like it there; only a collection of bird bird bird Records.      so I rootled IN the gramophone, but only Night and Day was in there, so Andrews has been resorted to.

The third record is a Jan Kiepura one, because I seem to remember that you like his voice.     I think it is quite a nice record. It v/ill do beautifully as a plate if it isn't nice as a record. I hope they arrive safely and whole.

Aunt Ger has seen the New Year in quite easily. In fact she has gone off to stay with Uncle Murray, or Uncle Arthur, I'm not sure which. Anyway, she's gone off somewhere - somewhere in England, not in Heaven   - yet.

I had to go along to Drayton Gardens the other day for Mum to collect a picture which Aunt Ger has given to Mum.     It is that Dog picture of Dignity and Impudence.     Louise and I couldn't manage to lift it down off the wall (I had just had my arm pierced that day, so I didn't feeling like trying to lift the dam thing down anyway)  so we had to summon the aid of the hall porter.     The Picture fairly bunged up the back of Jamroll, so it was lucky I had him with me, and not little Juno.

Physical Energy is that wonderful niece of statuary by watts. The original of it is at Compton, in a house all of its own, and is wheeled out into the garden on sunny days. There is a copy of it at Groot Schuur, and another one in Kensington Gardens, not far from Peter Pan.     It really is the most magnificent statue anybody ever made, and I worship it.     It is a raw man, riding (backward seat) on a very muscly horse, whose hind quarters are rather sloped down, and his forehand is huge and massive, and he holds up one front paw.     The horse is also raw   -    i.e. unbridled or saddled.     I have several pictures of it, but I'm afraid I can't spare you any.    (In other words, I can't find any of them at the moment !)

I hope the Radio works by now. Poor Rusty.     continued disaster.

Mum was away the other day, and told me to exercise the dogs during her absence. So I did.  And when they were all four trotting along in front of me I thought Rusty looked rather void of fur about the Hind Nees.  So I halted him and did an inspection.  I found him completely devoid of fur on his tummy and all down the sides of all his legs, and a little bit mothy round his eyes and on the top of his head. So I said to myself, Ho. This must be eczema.

When I got in from our walk T showed it to Green, the invincible. He said Skin Disease.

So I waited till Mum came home, which was that evening, and I



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and I brought the ACCUSED in here for an inspection.     We turned
him on his tummy and an Inspection was strain carried out. By
this time the skin disease hart progressed, and his chest part of
his tummy, if you know what I mean was quite red and sore.   So I
took him in to Everett the vet.     Mrs S. did an inspeotion, and
said, Yes, Skin Disease, a fortnight to cure.  Treatment of
sulphur and olive oil.

I took him along in the car, and Gosh, he did Smelll     I'm afraid mm has been not too good at carina for him.     But all will be  well when we come back from India, as he will then be a House dog.
(I hope Shawgm will fade out soon,   he is snoring so
terribly loud at the moment,   But the annoying thine about him Is
how well he Is!)     What made me so cross about Rusty’s skin
disease was the fact that Mum hadn't NOTICED it even!
He' still with the vet, with Scott, or rather Mrs Scott as Kr
Scott is a corpse, and will go straight from there (Bordon) to
his school.

I'm glad Mum at last can spell Sesheke.     You will be
pleased to hear that she can also spell Weston, though I'm afraid
she can't say it!     I wonder what she will call or how she will
spell Abbottswood    -    AABBOOTTSSOODD?    (Not that I can spell it myself yet, but I will make a point of learning at the earliest

Re Annie coming out.
The objection to her going is that she has never had to deal with
native servants, and It would probably be very difficult for them
to get on with her, and equally so for her to get on with them.
Also, the exper.se, though that shouldn't really be the cause. But
it does seem a tremendous long hike to send Annie all that journey
when you may probably be able to get some very skilled trained
person from say Johannesburg Hospital, when it would only be a
quarter or less of the distance, and would be really just as
capable as Annie.     It seems silly for you to spend your money on
getting Annie all the way out, when you really want to save It for
getting you nil the way home later on.

That's my view only.     So it's by no means a final verdict.

I do hope you manage to get the Sticklebach to stay with
you, as she sounds fine company.

I'm afraid my hope of coming to stay with you Is getting awfully remote, especially - as I think I've told you already, I'm
terribly overdrawn.  Mum Is absolutely shocked beyond measure
to think that I could do such a thing, and what HAVE I been spend-
ing so much on, etc. She says she's NEVER done such a dishonest
thing as being overdrawn (having continually told the Davidsons
that she is, and that's why all the Monna Will was so unfair!)
But it's so silly to call it Dishonesty.    The Bank love people to
overdraw their accounts, beoause they make money on literally
every penny one overdraws, because they charge you for being In
a state of overdrawn-ness. It's lovely for them, and not a bit
of a disgrace for me. I secretly revel in it, because Mum la
so shocked about it.

I think your choice of godparents truly excellent.   I hope



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your choice of names of the offspnring will also prove equally excellent.  I believe Mum has been noting down a few female suggestions to send you.  I hope they haven't all been too grim. I flung out a few names like Gwyneth, etc., but none of them met with much favour.   You don't really like the name Judy do You? Oh, I must tell you of Mum's wrath the other day.   So annoying of her.

David was staying here for the weekend, and he arrived in the afternoon, and Mum didn't come back from London till the evening, David of course wanted to know all about you.      So I just quietly said I don't know whether Mum has told you that you have got to be a god-father,  (which of course delighted David, and when Mum came back he yelled with delight to her about it.     Mum stepped back, and said WHO told you HOW did you hear.     And then tried to pretend that it was not true!   To me she said "You DICDN'T tell David about it did you.    So I said Yes, I did.   And I didn't see why I shouldn't, seeing how many people she had told,   so she said I haven't told anybody, except Aunt Violet (Thesiger) and the Waltons, - who she had even sent your whole Portmanteau letter!    (And had also told divers people like Miss Alice, etc.)      Also, somehow, Rachel Soames knew, because I phoned her the other night to fix up about Gipsy, and she said Is it really true about Betty.    So I said what have you heard and from whom.   And she said the Baby, but couldn't remember from whom.

Gosh, no, don't have Peter as a godfather.     Your excuse can be that I want to be godmother if he is godfather (not that I do) and surely that will put him off.

I congratulate and thank Robin for his letter at the end of yours.     It is wonderful how well he writes when one remembers that he is only the size of a well-nourished jujube.     He will be a great saving to you as regards his education   -   for he will need very little at all seeing how well he can write already. (Am I allowed to spell already like that, or must I put all ready.) Alright, all right, I will, I won't.)

Now I'm just going to skim through Portmanteau 7 in case there's anything that applies to me.     Also I've got Portmanteau 9 here.    But I believe Mum has sent Portmanteau 8 to some female friend of hers.

First I must condole on the tragedy of the death of one baby owl, killed by grasshopper who had been killed by owl. Is that the other one, that we have the film of.

I'm glad to hear that it's cooler, and that you actually have to resort to wearing Wool once more.    Wool next the Skin? I have to Wear Wool next the skin since I had Newmonia.   I hadn't got any wool before I got ill, so I had to stay in bed while Mum ordered some woolly vests from Gorringes'.      They were foul and long at first, but they have shrunk up a bit now, with terror of me , because I was so rude to them when I first saw them, and told them what terrible things they looked and how could anybody but a charwoman be supposed to don them. But I like them allright now.



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Re the Knotty problem of the names again.  Robin is a lovely name I consider.   But Mum, who always faces the future, says she doesn't think Sir Robin would go down very well.  Is David ruled out? I think Minella sounds sweet too - when once one's got over calling it Manila (which always make me think of Hemp.)   NOT St Clair. It doesn't go easily with Clay after it!

I love the way in your letters you always casually mention that you have collected some new animal.  We've got a tortoise, we have a baby Impale.  There's an Owl in our chimney, etc. ! Also the word THEY.   I can just picture THEY!  A gang of natives, giggling and jibbering amongst themselves.  THEY brought in a snake the other day, and so on.

-   By the way, why not David Robin Clay"? (Because you mustn't forget that every great person has an-|—0- damn and sorry, but this is the letter I am trying to write - "0" - in their name.

Re films, the following is how they stand at the moment, and all that have come (which is 3) I have stuck together, and made up on to a bis reel, labelled Betty, wedding and Northern Rhodesia. These are the sub-titles:


"Society wedding of B-P's daughter" !


Victoria Falls

Cartmel-Robinson's house and Loftus





Aeroplane leaving Sesheke

G. going crocodile hunting on Musonda's bicycle.

The House  (What's it called?) The Nest?!

G. and the Hunk Dog

Baby Owl

Musonde and Garden Boy (Peter?)


So if you will continue as you are doing, to send them home, and number them, I will stick them together in order of sequence, when we get back in April.      We will be dying to see them. The bit of G. on Musonda’s bicycle is quite heavenly, and also the one with him and the Hunk dog is awfully good.      They’re all V. Good



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