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19370203 from New Delhi


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The Viceroy’s House

               3rd February 1937.                                           New Delhi.

 

Dearest Duckie,

This is a p.s. to the letter I wrote in the train coming up here from Bombay.

Rosalind was sitting by me in the train when I was typing to you,  so I couldn't nut the whole truth about her! She really is very sweet, but horribly Good,      She got on quite well on board, but all the boys were inclined to tease her!      She is comicly old fashioned and talked about having flirtations with the Swedish cove and others.    I don't know what a flirtation is, but she seemed to enjoy them. The’re not necking anyway, because when I told her that I had necked with Sweden she was most peeved and said she would never let him go as far as that.     I don't think he’d tried on her anyway.   He told her he'd got a wife.   He told me he hadn't !      She would come and sit in the bar and drink gimlets[1], but instead of getting merry on them she got more and more serious, and talked about the deeper side of life, she would have got on fine with Mrs Dalton!     I don't think she had met many young men before, because she simnly revelled in deciding who of five she should dance with next, sort of thing.      But so prim, and when she dances she puts her head right over on one side, and smiles sweetly! She said to me in all seriousness one night Heather, I don hone you don't think I'm Fast!

She says her prayers every night and every morning and tries to make me too, but I told her I would not know what to say, so she has not bothered me any more.    Also she reads a chapter out of the Bible and out of some obscure little holy book every morn and eve.     She always makes me wear a hat when I'm going out, and says I ought to do Guiding more seriously, and that I should offer to run the Bentley Guides as there is nobody-doing them.

She doesn't make up at all, or at any rate so little that it might just as well be none.     She has spots all over her chin and on the back of her neck where she curls her hair up. But she is so sweet to me all the time, and powders my back for me and tells me if I look nice or awful, and is full of compliments and pins my shoulder straps for me, and is really too good, and makes me feel an utter cad sometimes. Also she is an absolutely champion sightseer, and simply revels in it and asks searching questions about everything and likes staying hours for poking about and looking into everything, and wearing dark spectacles and carrying a camera over her shoulder.

I've just got your 9th January letter, and thank you so much for it.     I give you absolutely full marks for "He tried

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her on the back seat," etc., and have  typed out a copy to send to Gay Mather, because it was she who told me the version I sent you.

Talking of Gay, I got a letter from her by the same mail as yours, telling me all about Jority.    She absolutely adores her and goes out riding TWICE a day, and they find lovely jumps, and she says it is so lovely to ride a horse that really does jump, instead of having some old hireling brute who ploughs straight through everything.

I'm glad to hear your morning sickness is over. It must have been awful, and so tiring to the guts to have them working in reverse all the time.

Yes, you've got Mum absolutely taped, on board ship, plus burnous, and going round the deck talking to all the ship's bores, and the dullest looking people she could see. Rosalind and I threw a cocktail party near the end of the voyage to sort of repay for a good many drinks that we had on all the males, though as there were so many of them we didn't drink very heavily on any of them.     The party was a great success, about 30 people, and they all had at least 3 rounds, so you can imagine what the Bar Bill looked like when it came in!    But I think it was worth it, and they were such a cheery crowd.     The awful thing was that I meant to go and tell Mum to come along to the party, and I was going along the deck to do so when I was interrupted on the way, and then clean forgot where I was_on_my_way to, and never asked her at all, and I think she was rather peeved afterwards, and thought I hadn't asked her on purpose.

I'm afraid I'm still very awkward and unconfiding in Mum, but every now and again when I'm feeling particularly brave I try saying daring things, but they*re usually pretty coldly or else so gloatingly received, that I go all shy again!   She would ask in such an annoying way "And what time did you get to bed last sight"    (I would loved to have said "Well, which bed do you mean, because I didn't sleep by myself last night")      (which was true on the last night, but I think I'm still a virgin.    I don't know how to tell.    I shall have to ask you all about that!)    Anyway I've had the curse since, but I was windy as a stoat at the beginning, but he swore he wouldn't do anything!

Yes, I still hate being told dirty stories in mixed company.     The Sweidish gent on board told Rosalind and me one or two when we were lying on the hatch cover having breakfast that morning, but we could hardly raise a laugh between us.   Having been in Northern Rhodesia he knew all about Lady Young and Mr Kirby, and said that of course the only supplies that she carried in her aeroplane was a crate of apples because An apple a day keeps the doctor away (rather an old chestnut I'm afraid.)

Also he told us of two Frenchmen sitting outside a cafe, and one said “You see those two pretty women sitting opposite us over there.    Well, the one on the right is my wife, and the one on the left is my mistress.”    So the other fellow said “That's funny.   With me it is the other way about!"

 

 

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(I’ve pinched a piece of Mum's modern typing paper.) Then he asked us "What is a flapper’s conception of pleasure.?" Answer:  "Pleasure, without Conception."

I'm longing for you to come home, and wonder when you will definitely decide what the form is about your journey (If you really are coming.)     I feel sure it would definitely be best to come home for the first time, so that you and Robin will be really well looked after.    And think how much Dad will love it !

Gosh, what fun you will have when you and G. come home together, blowing all your   money and doing everything.   G. will have to smoke a cigar and get Portly and drink tons of port.

I must tell you how well and fit Dad is.     Joking and singing and being improper and telling the Conran-Smyths at lunch today that Peter was born on the same day as he (Dad) was married.    In fact they only just thought about marriage in time.

He asked us What is a Doctrine? Answer:    A Lady Doctor.

 The Jamboree opened yesterday and there are 5,000 Scouts in camp and they have come from all ends of India, and 60 have come all the way up from Ceylon.     The Punjab have 500, very smart they are, rather the crack lot, and being under Hogg  they are very super,    some of them are the ones who went and did such wonderful relief work after the Quetta earthquake.

The camp is very well laid out and they have made nice gardens, and all have beautiful gaudy gateways into their camps, and maps made of sand, huge models of elephants, tiger skins hanging about, etc. It is a marvellously colourful. scene, with all the Scouts dressed in different coloured pugrees.     The opening was very grand with His Excellency the Viceroy, and hosts of swankily dressed. A.D.C.’s etc.    and there was a very good march past, different bands standing in the middle and taking turns to make the music. Then today Dad went all round the camp.     He didn't have a horse this time, but an M.G. !  He sat Perched up in the back of the M.G with Lawrence Impey and the Indian Rover chauffeur in front, and all the scouts could see him quite nicely.     Mum went round in a foul little (not baby) Austin.     We went round on our own, with a Rover to show us the way, taking movie pictures, etc. The Impeys have a movie too,  so what photographs we don't take they do, and

 

 

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vice versa.

We are no longer at the Vice Regal House now.    We just stayed there for the first three days, and now we all four are staying with the Conran Smiths, but the Impeys are still at V.R.H., and come down with fleets of Royal motor cars for us to use every day.

Dad has a nice easy programme for the Jamboree which goes like this

         Wed. 3rd Feb        Opening Ceremony

         Thur 4th  “         Tour Camp by car

         Frl  5th  "         NOTHING

         Sat  6th  “         National Pageant and displays

         Sun  7th  "         Scouters Meeting

                                   Final oampfire.

so you see it is nice and easy for him, and he is bearing up marvellously and wasn't -a bit tired after going all round the camp this morning.   In fact he is now on the verge of going off sight-seeing.      He IS   so gay, and has just been having a fitting of a pair of Jodhpurs he has ordered on his own, ready for going to Risalpur and riding there!     Isn't he sweet.     He's younger than ever.

Mum and Rosalind go off from here on Saturday night as far  as Agra to see the Aga Khan[2] by moonlight, and then on Sunday start the 24 hour journey south to Madras, and thus begin their strenyous tour!     Rosalind is being awfully good and saying No to most of the things Mum is asked to do, and I have declined two invitations for her to address Rotary Lunch Meetings   (without her knowing) So I hope she won't be too worn.     I wrote a beseeching letter to Rosalie Hacon in Calcutta to cut her programme down as much as possible, and I do hone she will.

Then we are all going to join forces again on March 17th at Meerut (c/o Colonel Lumley, Cavalry Brigade House)  for seeing THE KADIR CUP.      So it is all going to be most thrilling.

Dad thought that he and I might go off from here next week and go up to Simla to have a look at the Himalayas,    But I think that is a VERY bad plan!    Because The Delhi Week with Horse show and Polo Tournament and dances Every night is happening then I And I couldn't miss it when I'm right on the spot here now, and everyone says it will be such fun (not that I've met many of the younger set here yet).      So I'm trying to persuade him to stay on here, and say how nice it will be to see really first class polo, etc.    Besides Simla is still practically under snow and terribly cold and nobody up there in the bleak midwinter, and nothing to do but freeze.      So I DO hope I shall be able to persuade him to stay on here till about 20th February when we are due to go up to Risalpur for him to spend his 80th Birthday with his Regiment, which they are going to celebrate (though I don't know how he'll enjoy that.)

I must stop, as the Mail closes tonight.     Bellies full of love,

                                                       HEATHER.

 

[1] A gimlet is a cocktail typically made of 2 parts gin, 1 part lime juice, and soda. A 1928 description of the drink was: "gin, a spot of lime, and soda". 

[2] She was joking, for it is the Taj Mahal at Agra that one "sees by moonlight" !  Though they did visit the Aga Khan, who lived at Agra - see next letter..


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