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19370324 Heather to Betty

10 typed pages.  The Kadir Cup Competition


 

          24th March 1937                                                    Train, as usual.

 

Dearest Duckie,

I think I might bung out one more letter to you before we leave India – which we are now on the verge of doing. At the moment we are journeying down on daily Bombay to catch our ship on Sat. Same old Maloja[1] again, which will be rather pleas. as we know the Ship’s Officers already, but it will be highly not receive the same old friends as we have before.

India has been fun. I have definitely enjoyed it, although we are very sorry to be leaving, it’s just getting time to as the Hot Weather is rapidly beginning, and such damp, malarial heat. Everyone is beginning to be on the move, some going home, others going up to the Hill Stations, as only a very few people stay down in the plains, hot weather – certainly very few females.

I think when I last wrote to you I have got you to date as far as Risalpur. Well, it was very sad leaving their because everyone was so nice to us and the Kennedys were so amusing and very nearly persuaded us to stay longer. But we had been offered the use of a House at Kulu for fishing in the mountain streams in the top right hand corner of the Punjab, and so on conscience is Scotus and we thought we’d better go. So we did.

We stepped into a train at midnight one night, and next afternoon we arrived at Lahore. Mr Hogg met us station and we thought just art wait before catching on train on towards Kulu - will work only goes part of the way that it is a mountain road. But Hogg said it’s absolute madness to try and go over the mountain road to Kulu because the recent rains will have made wash outs and landslips, and it is Most Dangerous; so he took us along to tea and dinner with Sir Douglas Young, the chief justice, and he said we were quite insane to think of going to Kulu so early in the year, when the snows were still melting et cetera. However, Dad firmly said I’m going. So we did! We went on a night train to a place called Palampur, where we could see heavenly white mountains in the distance. Now we were met by terribly nice Missionary man called Guiton. He had put two cars at our disposal and complete charge of us for our whole time though. We motored on (damn, I’ve put Palampur instead of Pathankot as the place where we arrived by train.)  Pathankot is the railhead, and now we stepped off and continued to Palampur by car, a run of 78 miles. AT Palampur is this fellow’s Mission - a Canadian Mission, and we stayed there, very nice house belonging to another fellow on the Mission who had gone back to Canada on leave - furlough I mean.  Guiton use, of course, the Canadian himself, he reminded us exactly of John Stiles in every way – the way he talked, his looks (spectacles and all) and his amazing wealth of stories. Also he is a very keen scout and knows John Stiles very well! He was a funny missionary. We found him reading a book called all about Satan, and also he has in his house library of books, not holy ones as

 

 

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we were ready to see, but murders!

Next day we did the hell-raising journey on Palampur to Kulu, passing through Mandi State. Mandi State does not look after its roads, and so they Are pretty rough, and wind along precarious Edges and the road is very narrow so they have One Way Traffic all the way, and we had to wait behind a barrier while all the Down Traffic came down from Mandi before we were allowed to go up. The only other traffic really size ourselves were Service Cars (dilapidated looking buses crammed full of Indians and Luggage). Also lots of mule trains, and herds of goats and sheep being driven up into the mountains again, having come down to the plains for the winter. It was really rather a New Zealand-ish road the way it crept along the side of a precipice, and down below us was the huge Gorge of the Beas River. So narrow was the road that when I looked out over the edge of the motor car I look absolutely straight down to the swirling waters below, and there was absolutely nothing to stop us going over the edge, and everything to encourage us, what with slipping loose stones, and slippery mud, and sharp turns.

However, we arrived without mis-hap, and found a very pleasant house for us, standing on a knoll above the river, at a place where the river is supposed to be very good for Trout. We spent three very peaceful days fishing there, and it was nice and sunny but pretty cool because it was so high up. One day we drove on up the valley to the end of the road and the last village up the valley, and there we walked about in Snow. After that village is only a trail which goes over the Rohtang Pass, and is one of the routes into Tibet.  Mr Guiton has been over the Rohtang Pass several times, and has taken some of his Scouts over with him, into the next valley, called Lahoul. Apparently it is a very dangerous pass, because gales grow over it with terrific force, and if Gail catches you it will blow you down, and over a precipice if it can. Rohtang apparently means Dead Man.  Guiton was caught in a gale up there once, and he had to lie flat down on the ground, and simply clutch onto it as hard as he could.

After Kulu we came down over the precarious road again, and have lunch in Mandi on the way through, and saw the maharaja who was young and small and very cheerful and completely English away talk will address and had a beautiful Bright Blue S.S. motor car.

Then we spent another night at Palampur and next day motored down to Lahore (nearly 200 miles) and arrived to stay at the beautiful Government House there. We arrived at about 6 in the evening, and found a Guide Rally going on in the garden in Mums’ honour – she and Rosalind having just arrived there that morning. We had a great family reunion having been divided since the Jamboree at the beginning of Feb. at Delhi. This day that we got to Lahore was March 9th, and we were there till 13th. Lahore was full of garden parties; all the leading Indian people were giving garden parties that week. We did one or two of those, and then Mum went away with the Guide Commissioner, up to Pathankot to see mountains because she had not had a chance of seeing any ever since she’d been in India.

 

 

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His Excellency at Government House was pleasant and funny and clever, Sir Herbert Emerson by name - but his wife! Gosh! She was absolutely vast, very common and had an exceedingly cross face, and was quite revolting. Her opening conversation to Dad the first night we were there was that she was in the hands of the doctor because she had had boils in her ears, and they had burst! Can you imagine anything more filthy to be told to you at dinner! You will be able to picture her pretty well if you cast your mind back to Government House, Entebbe, because she didn’t mind one or terrible Mrs Mitchell – in fact they are pretty well exactly the same, and Sir Herbert was not unlike Mitchell himself. Both very nice and clever men, but both with the most incredible wives! The word to very nice A.D.C.s there, and I can’t think why they both have been driven crazy by her long ago. One of them was terribly good to us and completely adopted us and was rather like Bunny Sales in his cheerfulness at Government House. He was called Boy Stevenson Hamilton, and is a nephew of the Kruger Park fellow, and is in a Gurkha regiment and has red hair and looks rather Guards, but certainly isn’t in character! He and Lawrence Impey (the Impeys also foregathered with us here at Lahore) and Joan, Rosalind and I all went out shooting one day. It was Duck Shooting, on a Jheel (sort of swamp) and Snipe and we spent the whole day Paddling along in lovely warm brown muddy water, sometimes floundering up to our knees, other times coming out onto completely dry, dusty stretches, where we found Pigeons to be shot. It was great fun, and Rosalind and I were so pleased to get a sport of Exercise at last, as again on this trip is in all our previous ones, we are never allowed to walk an because we never get time! We had a vast Picnic Lunch sitting on Beds brought along by coolies from a neighbouring village, put in the shade of a scrubby little thorn tree.

So much fun was it, and so will deeply behave, keeping very silent, and squatting down in the middle of mud and water to keep hidden from the DDuck in flight, the boy took us out second time. That really was fun. We crept out of G.H. at 4 in the morning, then drove incredible speed through the darkness out to the Jheel, which is about 40 miles out from Lahore, in a lovely Chev. Roadster – all muffled up to the eyes in coats and Macintoshes, as it started to deluge with rain just as we were starting. By the light oil lamps we stumbled out into the jheel to take up positions before the dawn broke and before the Duck set off on their Morning Flight. But when the Dawn did break the Duck didn’t do much of a flight because there were hardly any of them there to do the flight. Most of them had already left for Tibet. However, I think we got about 11 altogether, before we stepped out of the jheel, into the motor car and sped home and a mighty breakfast. Some of the oil lamps were missing when we got back to the car, so we sent off a bloke there to ask in the native village where they had got to – and they were brought back – very reluctantly! But the subtle creatures, they had emptied every drop of oil out for bringing them back!

Altogether we thoroughly enjoyed Lahore. One night we went in a party to dance local important hotel called

 

 

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Faletti’s. One fellow in the party who is attached to the Royal Scots there before joining some Indian Regiment, was called Orbell, and apparently he had met a lot of his relations in New Zealand. I remember the name quite well, but I can’t focus it was anybody. This boy also knew one or two of those film star people were on board the Manganui.

After Lahore we went down to Jaipur to have a look at a pukka Indian State, and we stayed at the Residency where Mr Wiley (Irish broke) was in residence as Resident. He was most amusing. So was his wife, though she was rather quiet and tall and thin. We had a terrific sightseeing programme, rode out on Elephants to look wonderful old Palaces. The town itself was so intriguing with lovely camels and sacred cows and things lying about in the middle of the roads, and so on. The maharaja came to dying one night. Mr Wylie that to me 2 Rupees that I would for absolutely flat for the Maharaja. So I prepared for the worst and was put next to him at dinner. He was very beautiful young man and completely English-speaking and was at Woolwich, and was a revoltingly fat, round boy till he went there, but they made him as thin as a rail. Well, we talked solemnly the whole way through dinner about aeroplanes, polo and Bentley motor cars, and Mr Wiley was most suspicious definitely thought that he had got his two rupees. But he didn’t realise that the whole time I was having to hold my breath or look the other way than at the Maharaja, because He had Been Chewing GARLIC before he came out to dinner!

It was very interesting to see a native state, but it is amazing how badly they look after their historic relics. The old palace is all tawdry and awful and needs several new coats of paint. They said they would show us some of the marvellous old Persian carpets, and we went into a huge room, where carpet after carpet was heaped up on top of assorted billiard table – and they were all threadbare and moth-eaten and in the most appalling state of repair. And yet, the next minute, they showed us the State Jewels of incredible great value. Why they couldn’t have spent some of that money to repair the palaces first I really can’t think.

Then from Jaipur we came back via Delhi (had breakfast station) and on to Meerut, which is 40 miles from Delhi, but the train takes 2 ½ hours! We went to stay with the Lumley’s at Meerut, and to go with them to the Kadir Cup, which we had to go and stay in camp for, about 40 miles beyond Meerut and across the Ganges. Brigadier Lumley commands the Cavalry Brigade at Meerut (17th/21st Lancers are here, and the Central Indian Horse). He was Colonel of the 13th before Sydney Kennedy.

The first day that we were at Meerut we played a spot of tennis (more exercise last!) And one of the fellows who came to play arrived in a lovely little tiny basket work sort of heart, pulled by a little tiny pony that he bought out of the bazaar for 10 Rupees.

The next day we set out into carloads for the Kadir, and now I will tell you a few Home Truths about that.

 

 

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The Kadir Cup Competition is one of these frightfully far-flung Empire (a little too far-flung sometimes) stunts where men are men and women are glad.

We drove out there from Meerut – “there” being to the Kadir country which is a great tract of humpy yellow grass land bordering the Ganges and continuing as a wide playing for about 50 miles. As you may not know much about this Pukkah Pig-sticking show, I had better begin at the beginning.

The road out was good till about the last 5 miles when we went straight across country along sandy tracks and through isolated little Indian villages. We finally arrived at a sort of millionaire,s camp under some trees called a “Bagh”. The tents were pitched in a huge circle with the Mess Tent and Cocktail Bar out in the middle. We had Furniture in our tents, carpets, dressing tables, bars, and Beds. But those Beds had a Snag. They weren’t entirely uninhabited, – in fact I’ve been itching ever since.

There was a notice outside the Bagh saying “no horses allowed in the Bagh”. But we couldn’t see any horses for miles around; only a few dust-covered motor cars in the car park, and a bunch of trouser-clad girls having tea. But half a mile away was another Bagh, the Main or Cad’s Bagh or Gents only – frightfully Officers’ Mess, – Ladies not allowed on pain of death.

Beyond the Main Bagh was the Horse Bagh where we could see Manifest, Red Turk and other such Tonga Ponies, standing shackled to the ground. And further on again was the Elephant Bagh where 32 elephants formed an avenue of prehistoric-looking mammothery. We were in the into feeding the elephants with chapasis, or chapratis as some people call them. The baby heffalump who blew his own trumpet because he didn’t like our motor was severely rapped on the nose with a length of sugarcane.

We dined under the trees in the light of Petrolmax and afterwards were actually allowed into the Main Bagh to receive orders for the morrow – the only ones of import being Don’t burn the Grass; Don’t race the Elephants, and don’t bandage the horses to you across the deep nullah.

The local Frog in the Bulrush, Throat, et cetera., Made a terrible noise in the night, as did a local wedding orchestra from Sherpur village.

 

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the next day we rose with the bark in the dark (not quite) but by 8.30 we were definitely a step up in the world, having scrambled on board an elephant – went rolling out across the plain, scanning the horizon like ships at sea. Everybody looking like American sightseers in Topee (or not To pe, that is the question) and Dark Spectacles.

The coolies beat along in a long line while the one-armed Shikari directed proceedings from the back of a Camel who yawned regularly every five minutes. The Elephants in all their padded glory swept along great rolling wave, followed by syces leading competition Horses, and the Pani Wallahs carrying jars full of filthy liquid for thirsty competitors. The term for being in with this crunch is to be “On the Line”. In front of the Line were the Competitors themselves, tittuping about in Heats of 3, waiting for efficient A.D.C.s to wave a red flag and to “Sit on the Pig” tool they had time to come up, whereupon they would counter vaguely after the Pig until the Umpire’s work flag went down, away they went with the acceleration of a Ford V8. All we could see from the backs of our Sky-scrapers were Brave Men on Braver Horses galloping through the grass after jinking stinking pig, until they finally disappeared in a cloud of dust, down a nullah or into the blue distance. Then the Umpire would wave his flag to indicate the number of the Hog-Hunter who had first got Blood on his spear from Prodding the Pork, we got out oor race-cards and ticked off the winner – and then waited to watch the performance all over again – adding a few remarks such as “incredible man after pig”, “couldn’t have done better myself”, “pity Dick broke his spear”, etc.

six heats were run and it took all morning, those elephants made us feel our age considerably. One wretched fellow called du Vallon broke his collarbone – having won his heat and was empowering for another. Bill Norman, a very brave man after pig you know, with a scarlet face and a Blue Shirt (one outside, Indian style when you’re a genuine pig-Sticking Cad) rode his horse Faraway into the Semi-finals for him. And one major Graham by name. A very good show by getting both his horses, Dynamo and Kiss both into the semi-finals.

That was about all for that day. We got a vast lunch at SherpurBagh, and then went back to camp and Studied for the Staff College solemnly from 3 to 6! In the evening we heard the results of the Grand National and two fellows were very happy while most of us were cursing their luck. As for the rest, including myself, the Grand National just

 

 

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brought back a faint memory of Spills and Thrills at Aintree, otherwise have entirely forgotten such a sporting event ever took place while the Kadir is on.

The second day was terribly Vice-Regal and we were kept waiting an hour in the sun before H.E. and his Harem of guests arrived On the Line. Then we all advanced and it took ages and ages to find a pig and our elephant rolled onwards – “on, on, on” as the Pig-stickers warcry goes. My Jodhpurs felt exceedingly tight round my middle and I felt all Channel-crossing. Have you ever been sea-sick off an elephant? I had to tell the Elephant to Bas while I politely Unhad the side! After that the land became steady again, and I lived to enjoy the gory sight of the extinction of a 28” boar, and photograph the 1937 winner of the Kadir Cup. – Red Turk, with his pale little rider, Brandford by name, bravely facing a battery of charging cameras and a shower of complimentng phrases – and all the time he was feeling violently sick himself.

Oh yes, and a great excitement of the day was the Panther Hunt. Between the running of the first and second heats in the semi-finals a panther got driven out his hiding on the edge of a nullah by the quaking of the ground at the approach of our neighbouring elephant. So the Man Who Knows no Fear (Elbow Elliott) hunted it and speared it twice and finally it was killed by the Viceroy’s Private Detective (or some such auspicious personags), a crack Revolverer, and hurled up on top of an elephant, and borne home in trump.

In the afternoon we continued to witness more foolhardiness of the Mad British and their dogs, horses, etc., by once more boarding the Elephants and going out to watch the Heavy and Lightweight Hog Hunter’s Race over a mile and a half of fair hunting country – nothing but lumps and bumps of ground, even by long yellow grass and lurking nullahs. It was really a sort of point-to-point – the Point being an elephant who had to be circumnavigated before turning the head for home – and how they came! Each horse had been put up for auction in the Sweep the night before, and Henry Carden the auctioneer told us the form of each horse – which was usually “Hell of a Horse – Can’t Stop!” – And he was right every time - rider or no ride!

Anyway, the whole thing was a very good show. It’s terribly artificial in a way, that of fellow only has to

 

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prick the old pig to get first spear, and they don’t bother about killing the pig at all, except in the Final for the Fotograph, or if he really is wounded. Also for a whole week before the Kadir Cup Competition is run, they have a Preliminary Camp and fellows go out on the Elephants to round up the Pig and get them just where they want them ready for the day. They have rather fun though, those fellows, as there are a lot of Black Partridge about in that country and they get good shooting.

But to finish off with the Kadir.

Of course on the last night all the Competitors have the helluva blind, and they drink the health of the winner (not to mention the runner-up, David Barber with rabbity teeth) who in turn makes a speech from the back of an Elephant. Then everything has to be smashed up, knocked out, etc., and they Bring In the elephants to Squash the furniture.

But we girls didn’t stay for that. Oh no, we were safely back in Meerut by them, though we drank nothing and went quietly to bed, the beds felt was though they were heaving along, and big elephants kept looming up out of the darkness. Most peculiar.

There, I’ve cleaned the “e”s and the “a” now, as I’ve just found a convenient pin for the job. S

Poor Daddoie copied my noble example of returning swallowed, in the night, and next day he felt rather inexpensive, but he slept, and by the day after he was quite oke-i-doke again. But I think we must have been Caught by the Solar Rays in the Solar Plexis.

Mum didn’t stop long in Meerut, she went scurrying back to Delhi as quickly as possible, had an interview with Her Excellency the Vicerein, and has been writing Memos ever since.

Dad went off fairly soon too, and Ruslan and I stayed on an extra evening to go to a coctial (I meant that word to be cocktail) party at the Signals Mass. Then yesterday we got to Delhi, went to lunch at Viceroy’s House and it was great fun and they were most amusing, some of them had felt Not too Well after the Kadir! There was a girl staying there called Buster Marling (ugly disgruntled face.) Her brother, John, is in the 17th and had been to dinner with us the night before and has a lovely V8. That is his only

 

 

 

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redeeming feature. Use known in the Regiment (his name is Sir John Marling Bart) as the “sporting baronet”, because he doesn’t shoot or play polo or hunt or do anything in that line. He has missed his vacation (?) Rather, as he is very clever, and should definitely have been a Diplomat.

Then we spent last night at the Conran Smiths, and this morning at nine we stepped onto the strain where we have to remain for the next 24 hours while we travel 1,000 miles down to Bombay. Gosh, thank goodness this is the last train we have to go on!

Actually motoring in India is rather trying, because all along the road are bullock carts and Tonga carts and things, who never get off the road till the very last minute, by which time you have had pretty well call up altogether. The sides of the roads are just dust, and if you get behind another car it’s awful and you can’t see anything, and have to wait about a mile behind it before the dust settles again.

3 fellows in the 13th are on this train with us, and we meet at mealtimes when we go along to the restaurant car, and then solemnly climbed back into our compartments again. They are all going home to England in the Monteverdi – and it only takes 12 days as they go overland from Venice. They are Boy Butler and his wife Nancy (who has just been talking to her brother, Tony teacher, on the platform at Muttra, where we stopped just now, where he is a Gunner) Derrick Wormald who I think I told you about before, as the Little Warrior, and Ted Tinker (spectacled, and called Stinker by Dad.)

Mum got a letter from Corine yesterday. It gave me rather a disappointment in her, because I had decided to myself that I was going to be nice to her and Peter as you are all being so horrid. But this letter was definitely disappointing! Dirty common writing paper, dull, thin writing, and the substance of the letter was completely lifeless and pointless! There were also some photographs! One was obviously pa-in-law, with a kind ;-) and a pipe out of the corner of his mouth; another we presumed to be brother-in-law – a sort of village youth looking man in white open-neck shirt. There were two or three really rather nice ones of It – in fact in one of them it looked just like father Peter! Then there was also one which might have been carrying herself, but she is sort of leaning back and holding the baby up in front of her, so you can’t really see what all is at all.

Duckie, in your letters to the parentage, I think it might be a good idea if you didn’t harp too much on Peter and all his awfulness, because he is such a sore subject already that it is almost as well to sort of rather leave lots that might be said Unsaid. We love hearing how terribly happy you and G. are, but it makes such a bitter comparison when you talk over Peter! Poor old and not that he is, I don’t think we should strike him when years time. I think you must be pretty well down now, to be making such hopeful (?) remarks as “Have the parents got a farm in Kenya?”

 


 

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there is a suspicion dad might be allowed by his wife to go to America for the Scout jamboree there in June – in which case you will have to be accompanied by his crew. I think it might be rather fun, though of course James E. Is rather overwhelming. But we shouldn’t – stay over there for more than a week as they would wear Daddoie to death. We might be able to manage to go and get a sport fishing someone will do something like that. My Scotch mind tells me it would be such a waste to pay for all that journey across to the States, only to come back again so quickly.

I know nearly making conversation to you, because I want to finish up this page, as I shouldn’t like to let it go naked by airmail. So I’m going to hand over the triper to see if Rosalind has any notes to put on the end.

--------------[ Rosalind ]---------------

Now, note the good change in typing! It is a pity that Heather will probably read this, because if she were not going to I could tell you some really nice things about. If I were not so lazy, busy, would have written you another whole letter in her praise! Certainly we can’t make out what Lettice meant when she predicted that we should never get on, and that we should fight, and I should make mum hate Heather, et cetera. Heather and I are only visible when we are parted, and we get on fine, underline dress and hair dress Heather, and wake her and collect her, and she is being marvellously efficient, and looking very nice, really lovely sometimes, and she has got some very nice clothes and no nasty ones. We are both getting very FAT, and shall have to bant like anything on the ship, but Heather doesn’t show it and her clothes will still fasten up. We are both suffering from having bought many of our clothes from Thresher, on Lettice’s advice, and they sew so badly that we shall be in rags and tatters when we get home and mine will NOT stand the strain of straining round my fatness! Oh dear, you see I have caught mum’s habit of BLOCK CAPITALS, and the typing of this is atrocious because it is Heather’s typer, and she makes all letters stick!

-------------------[ End ]----------------------

That’s fine. Rosalind has got at least halfway down the page for the top isn’t she polite about me. I doubt do the same about her she would become Swollen Headed, and then even her hats would be too tight for her.       [They are already! – Rosalind by hand]

We heard from Mrs Wade that Sogum had had another stroke, but that the vet. saved him once again on the Happy Hunting Grounds. I suppose he will be more doddery than ever, and more thrust over to! It might be rather Lady Everett-ish of me to say so, but I honestly think it would have been a Good Thing if he had petered out this time, while we have been away, as then when we come back, ALL Mum’s attention could be focused on little Rusty.

I’m sorry this letter is so boringly written. It’s the effect of the train which, lousy (or blousy as Dad calls it!) As it is and broth, it has the most effect on one, but I really am more or less half sleep.

Damn the “U” on this typer, it sticks every time I hit it. So I won’t hit it any more. Goodbye. Miles of love,  HEATHER

 

[1] The RMS “Maloja” was the P&O ship on which they had sailed out to India. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Maloja


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