Letters to Myself 15


47 Bristol Road


June 18th, 1953


Dear John,

Thank you for your letter. I never know when I’m going to get another one from you, but it’s always a super surprise, especially the funny places they turn up in. This one was peeking out from under the doormat, and I’m glad I was up early and saw it first, as I’m not showing them to anyone, even Mummy, and not to any of my friends, because I might get laughed at. Anyway, they feel private between you and me.  I am now pretty sure they are going to keep coming, though. You said in one of your letters that miracles do happen, and these letters certainly prove that you’re right.

I liked hearing about the meals you cook, and especially that they remind you of what Mummy makes. Almost every morning I have breakfast cakes, which are like a nice thick omelette fried in bacon fat and with bacon loaded on top. Mummy says it’s so I have something warm in my tummy going to school, even though I don’t really need that now it’s summertime.

The other things I especially like are Toad in the Hole and Shepherds Pie. When I went to stay with Uncle Ken and Auntie Joan in Yorkshire, she took me and our cousins out for lunch in Leeds, and I ordered Shepherds Pie and spinach, but it was such a big helping I couldn’t finish it all. I hated leaving even a little bit, but Auntie Joan said my eyes were too big for my stomach. The puddings I like best are apple charlotte and sherry trifle, especially because Mummy always adds some of what she calls cooking sherry. And I love the thick layer of Bird’s custard on the top. I like rice pudding too, like you do, but I hate currants, even looking at them, so Mummy always makes sure there aren’t any currants in my share. I would like to go to that hotel you wrote about that has a Pudding Club—do you think you can eat all the different ones you want there?

I never told you about my holiday in Yorkshire. Uncle Ken and Auntie Joan live in a mining town called Hemsworth, and Uncle Ken is a doctor who looks after the miners and their families. I saw them going home from work one evening. They tramp down the street like a band of soldiers past the row houses that are all joined together and look identical. Then gradually each miner peels off at his own house, where there is always a big basin of water and a slab of lye soap to wash themselves. Uncle Ken told me they always strip naked to wash off all the layers of coal dust before going into their houses, even in the winter. And he said the coal dust gets into their lungs, where of course they can’t get at it, so it ruins their lungs after a good few years. So very few of them live to a ripe old age. What a rotten job, but it seems that’s about all there is to do around there.

I went to see the Yorkshire cricket team play against Lancashire, their big rivals, at Headingley,  which is their county ground. They look like they might win the county championship, and it was wonderful to see Len Hutton and Freddie Trueman play, because I’d only ever heard their names before. Freddie is a terrifying fast bowler, and two of the batsman who faced him had to retire hurt, probably with cracked ribs. And Hutton just became the first professional player to be made captain of England. Only amateurs were allowed to be captains up until now. I think it’s great, because it was all about class snobbery, only letting the captaincy be awarded to people who didn’t have to play cricket for a living.

We just had Sports Day last Saturday, and Mummy and Jane came to watch. I won the long jump and the hurdles, though I knocked down the last two hurdles because I could tell Sid Ellis was right behind me. He’s bigger than me and a faster runner. I got a cup, but I have to give it back at the end of term.

I’m sending you a hug, as well as love,