10 Selbourne Villas, Bradford
October 1st 1939
My dearest Cyril,
It was a delight to get your letter. It is very hard for you to be cut off from Elaine and the boys. I was disappointed beyond words at the break in holiday plans.
We really had a marvellous three weeks and it was great fun having the Cooks?? He was splendid with the boys. George & John really are growing up fine boys – so alive physically and mentally. George looks so fit now and is beautifully supple. He delights me with the skill of his hands. John is of course a most interesting and unexpected little creature. I simply loved being with them both. Elaine & I had great fun over the housekeeping. She is very practical and capable and only needs some cooking lessons to be a very good “housewife”.
Housekeeping for 9 was a joke. Everybody helped. John cleaned shoes and George managed the carpet sweeper. They gathered apples at 1d per dozen! When I was called back John with an expression of horror asked if his mother would have to stay?? in the house all alone!! I reassured him that I’d help and then of course the Jowetts came after a week and shared the house.
After a week of attempted school we had to evacuate on Sept 1. Thank goodness for that 3 weeks of peace at Bigbury for I’ve had 5 weeks of non stop since. Today I did rather give out and have left the T.T. problem till tomorrow. I’ve got 100+ going in a shift at Settle High School about 40 miles away. Now with trenches made we are soon to open out own Building and I shall have about 300 of my own and 120 boys and 150 girls from a City High School!!
The billeting problems have been endless (+ a ???? elsewhere) though we have really been lucky at Settle. Human nature has come out amazingly sharply in virtues and weaknesses over it. I lived at Settle for nearly 3 weeks with visits to Bradford and now I have opened my house again and will visit Settle for 2 days each week.
We had some brilliant results this year with 5 State scholarships – a record – but it has all been dimmed. The news is disquieting but I can’t go on worrying. The children are my business and I must do everything to save them from upset and strain, and live day by day. I shall try to enclose a piece from Punch I liked a lot. I have got Winston Churchill’s new book 1936-9 step by step which should be illuminating. Can’t at the moment find the Evoe??? poem, but it said that after arguing and discussing and arguing and discussing it was a relief to stand for something – let the heavens fall if they must, at least we stand for justice and decency.
You will have heard of 7/6 Income Tax. The reception of this by the H of C was beautifully British and cheered me - a stupyfied silence and then they burst out laughing.
Thank goodness someone left in this house after 1918 many long and beautiful linen blinds so that I have coped with the blackout rules with minimum of expense and worry. The stained glass on high in the Hall is a nice problem but life is full of absurdities. Some houses and buses cast a blue light on everyone with frightful effect.
It is awful though the effect on older men with young sons of 20-25. My Deputy (Governor crossed out) Chairman has gone all still and old looking losing his only son who was just come to his business, to the Army and to what?
With evacuation, the sight of friendly faces appearing and letters, gave one an electrifying thrill. The cooks?? have been angels and put me up any night when I had to rush in from Settle. Half his business is at a standstill with the wool control.
Goodnight dearest old Boy
Your loving M.
What is a VAD? British Red Cross) Men and women could volunteer to become volunteers in the voluntary aid detachments (VADs). Over time, both the detachments (groups of people) and the volunteers themselves came to be known as VADs.
V.A.D. (taken from Punch)
There’s an angel in our ward as keeps a-flittin’ to and fro
With fifty eyes upon ‘er wherever she may go;
She’s as pretty as a picture and as bright as mercury,
And she wears the cap and apron of a V.A.D.
The Matron she is gracious and the Sister she is kind
But they wasn’t born just yesterday and lets you know their mind;
The M.O. and the Padre is as thoughtful as can be
But they ain’t so good to look at as our V.A.D.
She’s a honourable miss because ‘er father is a dook
But Lord, you’d never guess it, it ain’t no good to look
For ‘er portrait in the illustrated papers, for you see
She ain’t an advertiser, not our V.A.D.
Not like them that wash a tea-cup in an officer’s canteen
And then “Engaged in War Work” in the weekly Press is seen;
She’s on the hot from morn to night and busy as a bee,
And there’s ‘eaps of wounded Tommies bless that V.A.D.
She’s the lightest ‘and at dresser’s and she polishes the floor
She feeds Bill Smith who’ll never never use ‘is ‘ands no more
And we’re all of us supporters of the harristocracy
‘Cos our weary days are lightened by that V.A.D.
And when the War is over, some knight or belted earl
What’s survived from killin’ Germans, will take ‘er for ‘is girl
They’ll go and see the pictures and then ‘ave shrimps and tea
‘E’s a lucky man as gets ‘er – and don’t I wish twas me.