OCT. 24th 1942
My last letter to you was written early in September. Since returning from sea this time I have received quite a pile of letters and books from you. It makes me feel rather ashamed at times to think that you write so often to me and yet you receive so few in return. After I wrote to you last I managed to pick up a couple of pairs of stockings which I mailed to you in the hope you will get them before Christmas. In one of your letters you enclosed a piece of cloth of some kind to use as a color pattern, but unfortunately it wasn’t there when I opened the letter. So the stockings I sent are what the girl in the shop suggested as most suitable. I’ll send you some more when I get a chance to pick up some decent ones. By the way, is there anything I can bring you when I return to England? It will be quite some time yet but by the time you answer this letter it will only be a few months. Out here one hears all kinds of rumours about shortages in England, such as face cream, toilet soap, shoes etc. If there is anything at all that you think I could get for you just name it and I’ll do my best. There seems to be plenty of that sort of thing here and I notice the names of some well known English and American manufacturers in the shop windows. It is more or less imperative that you give me a chance to repay you for all the books you have been sending me these many months. You keep telling me how well of[f] you are for most things but I know that this is just a comparative state of affairs. There must be some things that women can’t get these days.
Speaking of the books you sent me there was some good ones in the last two bundles. ‘England is My Village’ was exceptionally good. The two stories I liked best were ‘Ice’ and ‘Remembered on Waking’. In the first one could almost feel the physical elation experienced in flying blind at night and ‘Remembered on Waking’ makes one realize how flying gets into one’s blood – like a drug. I don’t think Rhys would have made a good writer as he was a flyer first and last. Anyway his writing seemed to be too carefully thought out and all his words appeared to be hand picked. ‘The Purple Land’ was interesting though a bit rambling and broken in places. The author’s observations in nature are very good, though he seems to be allergic to dark-eyed, fair skinned women and the purple land seemed to abound in them. Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’ I have read before. Shaw is always worth rereading – especially his prefaces. Perhaps the best of all was ‘Strawberry Roan’. Solid and lusty. The England that one knows will be there for a long time yet. It breathes of wet earth, beefy cattle and good horseflesh. The land has an attraction for most of us and it would be very hard to resist the lush greenness of England. Fat cattle and well cared for fields are very satisfying to mind and body.
You were asking me if there was any particular book I would like sent out. There are three I’d like to read sometime – Huxley’s ‘Grey Eminence’, ‘Strictly Personal’ Somerset Maugham, and George Sava’s ‘Tale of Ten Cities’. I don’t want you to go chasing all over the land looking for them but if you happen to see them when you are browsing around I’d be very grateful.
So you have been disappointed by Ghandi’s recent attitude towards Britain? Years ago I had a lot of admiration for Ghandi but of late years he seems to have lost sight of the larger issues. Up until shortly before this war started I was inclined towards pacifism and I thought Ghandi a good example of a man who could get things done without the use of force. Perhaps he has found out, like most of us have, that there are some people who understand nothing unless it is back[ed] up with a few hand grenades. Perhaps after this war things will be different but personally in this direction I have no delusions. All that most of us ask after this war is some degree of peace and security and a chance to earn a living. There will no doubt be some far reaching changes. If the industrial world doesn’t make proper use of what it has learned about mass production during this war we will be worse off than we were at the end of the last one. It is rather obvious that the time lag between the social sciences and the rapid advance in industrial invention is largely responsible for our present state of chaos. It would be a mistake to say that invention had been retarded during this war and one could hardly say that the social sciences had made any noticeable advance. There are a few men in responsible positions who seem to be aware of this state of affairs and are trying to do something about it.
Enough of politics. You will be interested to know that I was at the rest camp again for three days. It was much colder this time and there was quite a lot of rain. I spent most of my time in just plain loafing. In bed every night about nine and breakfast about eight, then a quiet walk for a couple of hours. After dinner we would sit around and talk shop or read and smoke far too much. A few drinks in the evenings and so to bed. Do you know, with a little practice, I think I could learn to loaf around all day without a rest.
Glad to hear you managed a couple of week-ends at the caravan. By now it will be locked up for the winter. You do seem to have such good times there. By the way how do you pronounce the name of that valley where the caravan is? The printed Welsh looks like the work of a drunken type-setter and to hear anyone speak the language sounds like they had a mouth full of marbles.
Sorry to hear you have not received the photographs. I sent them by ordinary sea mail but even so you should have them by this time. I’m sending you another one in this mail, it is the only one I have left and it was taken about a year ago.
I probably won’t get a chance to write to you again in time for it to reach you before Christmas so I wish you a very Merry Christmas and all the happiness in the world in the coming year.