19371210 Heather to Parents
From Heather, received at Mombasa, Dec 21st 1937
[in O.B-P's handwriting - she sent it on to Betty]
10th December, 1937. CLERKES.,
My darling Parentage
I've been meaning to write long before this, to ask you how you are getting on, how well I am getting on, etc., but I've been moving about the country a bit, just lately, and the result is, No Letter.
First of all, I must thank you for Your lovely letters, from Marseille and from Genoa, and the ones written before you reached Gib. They are such lovely Sunny letters, and by Jove I am envious of you! Do you know, we've had all hunting stopped for a whole week now, with Fog and Snow, and the whole of England is Smothered in whiteness. It certainly is the worst country I've ever been to in the world!
So, as yet, I can't carry out Dad's request that I tell you about the hunting - the only hunting I do these days, is to find a warm spot to live in! It's really rather exciting, this bad weather. The Wades (Kenya Wades) were trying to motor down to the New Forest the other day, and when they got through Romsey they were stopped by the Police and told not to go any further. Apparently the road was impenetratable with fallen trees and deep snow. Margot Bannon tried to motor down to Lyndhurst to go riding with some friends, and on the way she ran into a snowdrift, and had to be helped out by Twenty road-men, who turned her car round and sent her back home again! Lorries and cars have been stuck all night, and the drivers burning oil waste to make fire to keep themselves warm; they couldn't get beds anywhere as so many people were stuck on the road, the houses near were all full. Over the Radio this evening Motorists are warned not to drive close to the sides of the road where there is snow, but to keep out in the middle where it is hard (and slippery) They get stuck in the soft deep snow in the side. Aunt Violet and Uncle B. saw an Austin over on its side in a ditch full of snow to-day. So, you see, the Joys of motoring here are almost as Perilous as driving along wet muddy roads in Kenya - though not such fun, as there are no hyenas to beat off in the night, or Lions to come and grunt at us.
I'm glad the Llandaff Castle is fun, and that you are comfortably
fixed with two cabins - though not allowed a bath. You seem to have found millions of friends and acquaintances, and it sounds a most cheerful boat-load, singularly free of "S.B.'s". It's just lovely to hear about Daddoie doing Jaunty-Walk again, and the stiff neck and the greyness and Bentness completely vanished as soon as he got back into the sunshine again. Isn't that grand! because he had been looking quite grey and miserable in the cold of this rotten country.
Now, I must answer all your lovely letters properly. First of all, I sent on the letter to Hodgson of Aeronautics, as soon as it came.
Also, I have carefully put the maps Bet has sent of her Palace in the Letter File with all her Portmanteaux. Then what. Oh yes, the dress that Mrs Copeland, I mean Ida, is giving me, is now Ready, and I will make its debut on the 17th (to-day week) at the H.H. ball. It is pale green with a silver line in it, and very beautifully tailored with a flared skirt that is stiffened all round the bottom with Horse Hair, so that it stands out and will be lovely for Waltzing in! It has a Zipper all up the back! It's not tight-looking, as it doesn't have a belt, and is rather -"swathed" at the top, with Plaited shoulder straps. (A somewhat odd description of one's best evening frock, I'm afraid!) The dress I have to have for Bunty's wedding is Turquoise Blue velvet, with Capes like French gendarmes have, only with fur round the bottom, and on our heads Fur Cossack Caps! And instead of flowers we will carry Fur Muffs! Very furry altogether in fact - and I expect we shall appreciate the fact, as the wedding is in the bleak mid-winter - Feb. 2nd to be exact, and at St. Margaret's, Westminster.
Oh, about Bunty's wedding present, Mum, I asked her what she wanted, &
settle up with Bet if she wants to be paid for it! I think I shall give Bunty some small individual present myself, being a bridesmaid. I see her Quite often these days, as she is living in the Ladies' Carlton Club. She is so sweet, and kisses me most affectionately every time we meet!
Now about JamRoll. The damage to the door cost £9.10, and the Insurance People are paying Swain and Jones for that. Then The Noise he was making and which you noticed when you drove down to Brooklands that last time, has been traced to a bearing on the bevel pinion shaft. I told S. & J. to take it down, and have it on the bench for me to look at, and so that I could get hold of Mr Chichester to come and see what was to be done. But before I had time to do that, S. & J. calmly sent the whole thing straight off to the Rolls people without asking my authority, and whether we wanted it mended. So I told them that they were very evil to do this, because if it was a big job, you might not wish to have it done. However, I rang up Chichester, and he said that they were right in sending it straight off to the Rolls people, as they have the proper machinery for taking the bearing off the bevel pinion shaft so that they can take it all down, and inspect the thrust race and track it down to the source of the trouble. A new bearing on a back axle usually costs about £1., but I don't know if Rolls are more expensive. Anyway, the job's done now, and they've got the part back and put it in again. But when they took Jamroll out on the road for a trial run, they found a New Noise, and wrote a letter to me to ask what they were to do about it, as it was a very Nasty noise. So I asked Mr Abbot Anderson, who went and vetted Jamroll, and he said it was only a very small thing, a Knock in the Snubber (or rather Shock Damper as the Rolls people please to call them!) of his near-hind foot, which should certainly be repaired, or it will always Knock. So he's having that done at the moment. I've unlicensed him, and have tried to get a bit of a rebate on his licence, but although they've said "Cheque to follow", nothing's happened as yet - unless Mrs Wade has got it to-day.
Little Juno is absolutely Saintly. He has had Anti-freeze mixture put in his radiator, and 1 put two rugs over him at night. That is very kind of you to suggest that I get him a Nose Warmer, and I think he would greatly appreciate it, and I will obtain one when I am next in Farnham. Thankyou very much indeed. He will be very grateful.
Now I think I will start in to tell you all I have been doing, and that news will include information about the Great Black, etc.
Well, I told you about our weekend in Gloucestershire being such fun. We had rather a Gory incident on the way home, when we helped tend a young motor-cyclist whose machine had bucked him off in the middle of the hard-high road, and he was left groaning and screaming, and with blood all over his face. So we helped hold him down and put rugs and coats on him to keep him warm until Ambulance and Police arrived (it took the ambulance half an hour to come out three miles from Cirencester!) The Police were very disappointed when they found that no one else was Involved in the accident!
We got back to Clerks in time for lunch, and l went over to Pax in the afternoon, and took Jority out for a ride, and called in on Annie, and the Black war running about the house in his new navy coat, and was very gay and bouncing and Fat.
St. Andrew's Day was a Hunting Day, and we met at Hartley Roundhouse, out beyond Wick and Worldham, and had quite fun in the morning and a cracking good run in the afternoon, Hounds going like blazes, and we had to go like smoke to keep up with them, and we managed to jump one G@ Gate I mean, but later came to two more, and as we were getting pretty tired by then we hadn't the nerve to have a crack at them, but cowardly-ly got off and opened them! We ended up down at Temple, and I had a pleasant little 11 mile hack home, but Jority rushed along, as fresh as she started out, shying and swerving, and being generally mischievous!
On December 1, Aunt Violet and I journeyed to London together. The train service from here, or rather from Haslemere, is jolly good as it gets to London in 55 minutes, only stopping at Guildford on the way. wWe go howling through Woking and Surbiton and everywhere, at hundreds of
miles an hour. We went shopping together, Aunt Violet and me, and I took her to see my green dress which she highly approved of, and then she swished me off to a Tailor, and there I'm having a lovely real Tweed suit made (in small navy and brown check) Most exciting. Lettice and I had lunch at the Ladies' Carlton, and then Bunty came in and I talked to her, and then I found the Mercers (whom we'd met in Innsbruck) sitting just behind us, and so I had tea with them, and then they said (don't laugh!) Let's go and Swim. So we did that. There is a lovely warmed swimming bath at the Ladies' Carlton, and we had a very fine swim, Mrs Mercer, and her nephew, John Brooke Hunt (who's just left Canford school, where he led the Riding Display which they gave at Olympia this year). In the evening I called in on Mrs Jagger, who promptly asked me to a ball on the 14th of this month. Then I stayed the night with Lettice, and slept on her sofa which is very narrow but very comfy.
And next day I embarked at Kings Cross and journeyed up to Newcastle, and George Carter met me at the station, and motored me out to their home at Sunderland in his lovely new Studebaker. It's a brand new motor-car, as last week his other one was stolen by two young Tommies who had missed the last train back to Catterick, and seeing this lovely car standing in the street, they stepped into it and drove it away at 90 miles an hour until they came to a very fierce corner, and as they were still going at 90 m.p.h., they didn't make it, and did several somersaults and killed the car, but were Unscathed themselves, though caught by the Police. The result is that the Insurance have given George a whole new car. Poor Mamie is not awfully well these days, as she's got Anaemia and is terribly thin, and feels the cold so much, that she is literally sick with cold! I arrived there on the Thursday evening, and we went to a Dance that night, and were a party of 8, and one of the men was called Basil Alderson, in the Navy and very keen Scout, and had joined us on Coronation Night when we were at Scout H.q., and had met us before in Malta. And another man there was called Mark Spraggan, who had taken me out hunting last time I stayed up here last year. That dance was great fun, and they did a lovely Cabaret, by Scouts of 4th Newcastle Troop - the Cabaret being the Austrian Schuhplattler - you know, slapping their "lederhosen", their feet, and each other's faces, and they did it awfully well. I said to one of them You do that as well as the Austrians themselves. And he said, "No, we're better." That was pretty good for North Country Candour,wasn't it. Another lovely thing he said, about camp. 40 of them had been down to Jersey this summer for their annual camp, and they had to sleep on some rocks; so I said wasn't that mighty hard, or had you got paliasses. "Paliasses", he said with scorn, "We're not cissies; we can take it!"
The next night we went to the annual Scout Ball (which I'd been to last year too) in Newcastle, and that was great fun, and the schumplattler Cabaret came on again, also some lovely ballet girls (Scouts!) and they sang Gang Show songs, which we later had as dance tunes for doing the Valeta and the like. It was a very good Ball, with Scout Decorations, and a camp pitched on the stage, and Scouts doling out the programmes, and when the band started playing Gang Show tunes and Scouts came on and sang a chorus of Crest of the Wave, everyone yelled with approval.
The next day I was supposed to be going out Hunting with the Morpeth Hounds, and some people called Heswell Peel were lending me a Grey horse, but unfortunately the day before, an awful old cow went and contracted foot and mouth disease right in the middle of the hunting country, and so there was no hunting. But I went to a Rugger Match at Gosforth instead. That was thrilling; I'd never seen Rugger before and I was most intrigued. It was a very good match, as it was the English Team playing against "Possibles" for the Team. And that evening we went to Another Dance! A dinner-dance at the Station Hotel (where Dad and I stayed last year) which was great fun, and one of the men in the party was a Northumberland Fusilier and knew William Collingwood and Harry Flower,
- 4 -
On Sunday, 5th December, we did Nothing, and none of us got up till just about lunch time! Some people came in to supper in the evening, and we played Poker and Red Dog, and I lost sixpense. The next day again I was meant to be going hunting, with the Braes of Derwent this time, as per last year, and Douglas Nicholson was lending me a lovely great thoroughbred of his called Paul Jones. However, we motored out some way, and
the further up on to the Braes we got, the thicker became the snow, and the country was quite white. Further on the snow began and we came into a regular blizzard, and eventually when we did get to the Meet, of course there was no Meet as the snow was lying much too thick. So we went home again, and went to a News Reel film instead.
Then on Tuesday 7th, Goerge took me to the station, and I jumped in to the Silver Jubilee train, and within four hours was back in London! I went round to Mrs Copeland's for tea, and she had there a Dutch Rover Scot from The Hague, who had been staying with them in Staffordshire to help them paint scenery for the show Screamline which they put on up there - and excellent show, apparently, and highly praised by Ralph Reader. Anyway this Dutch Scout, who spoke most perfect English, greatly intrigued everybody by being Ambidextrous, and able to paint scenery with both hands at the same time. That evening the Mathers took me to a Ball at the Savoy celled the Black Prince Ball - Quite fun, but only quite, and chiefly consisting of very young Cambridge undergraduates. However, we had quite an amusing party, end I had a strange coincidence with one of the girls in it. She was Canadian (from Edmonton) and I asked her how long and where she was staying over in England, and she said she was over for the winter, staying with friends in Hampshire. So I said, Oh are you.
so am I. So she said, Well, I'm staying at Liphook. So I said Oh, are you but so am I. No, not Liphook actually, she said but Bramshott. So I said Oh no, not really, but so am I. So she said, Well I'm staying with Naval people there. So I said no. You can't be, because I am. So she said I'm staying with the Phillimores. And the Phillimore lives absolutely plumb opposite the Thesigers. Wasn't that silly.
Next day, Wed. 8th December, I had lunch with Percy in Scout H.Q. and everybody was up there, Belge, Legat, Dick Frost, Bertie Bucks, and Gran., and it was great fun to see them all, and I was very Accused of being a Deserter. Then in the afternoon I trained down to Haslemere, and kind Uncle B. met me at the station, and no sooner had I unpacked and we had High Tea, than we all went over to Grayshott for the Performance by the Liphook District Scouts, and they were awfully good and did an excellent little Revue, with a number of Ralph Reader's sketches in it,
and they had Mac there to play the piano for them. It was an awfully good show for a village performance, and the boys seemed to love doing it - all 70 of them! Uncle B. was official Maker-Up, and had a lovely time smothering all these chaps in powder and paint. Pip Power was quite heavenly as a Guide Commissioners, singing Going Home, and dragging a most unwilling and crying Brownie after him!
That evening it began to snow, and next morning (with the Meet at Lasham Station) I rang up the Kennels to ask if there would be any hunting, and Will said he was going out. So I went over to Pax, and steppd on to Jority, who Green had got all ready, with hair plaited up and all. I rode out towards the Golden Pot, but the further I got, the deeper became the snow, and it was blowing and snowing hard, so that Jority went along with her head all on one side, and it was quite awful; every few yards I had to get off and bang the snow out of her feet, and it got all balled up so that she wasn't walking on her foot at all, but on a sort of High Heel of snow! So I went back home again, and later I heard that the Hound van got Stuck on the way to the Meet, and everything was cancelled and nobody arrived there at all. What a country! The whole of Pax is
under a blanket of snow, and it looks so pretty on the trees, every tiny twig covered with a great load of fluffy white snow.
I'm going to stop, because it's bed time! Best of love, HEATHER.
I enclose a P. from Bet which she said she'd sent to Kenya, but it came to me. X
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