David to May Holzminden Letter No 29 Sept 1st 1918
My Dearest,
It was good of you to go and stay with Mum while Polly was away, and please thank Mrs Muggridge very much indeed for packing you off as you call it. From certain of your letters I imagine everybody at home, as well as here, has been indulging in the so called Spanish plague. About eighty per cent of the camp got it I should think, in fact most people except me. (I certainly flopped about on my bed the greater part of one day, but that was not the plague I think.) All the others in my room had it except two of we old cronies, (the other fellow is a year older than me, but we are both several years older than the rest). However its quite gone now and everything is as usual again. I have been practicing war economy. Having worn out a couple of shirts and being in need of a sheet, I have turned the one into the other. As you may guess, a shirt does not altogether lend itself to sheet making without a little cutting here and a little patching there. However the completed design is certainly striking and distinctly out of the ordinary, the whole effect being greatly enhanced by the fact that one of the shirts was originally a khaki cotton one, and the other a grey flannelette, (one which I bought from a Frenchman when I was first captured) and that the sewing is elegantly done with brown wool, which I unravelled from a worn out sock. I think the pattern might possibly be considered to be after the nouveau art style, or futurist perhaps, I haven’t quite settled which. Its almost like one of those special treasurers that isn’t made for use, but which is wrapped up in tissue paper and locked away in a drawer, only to be brought out at Christmas and on Saints Days.
Thanks ever so much for taking all the trouble you have over that Malaylam business. Of course I thought everything would be alright, but still it is satisfactory to know that you have all the papers now. In my last letter I asked if you would send “The Timber Merchant and Builders’s Vade Mecum”, by G Bonsfield, published by W Rider & Son Ltd, 8 Paternoster Row, and also “Reinforced Concrete” by F Rings, published by Batsford, and enclosed a form with them on to the Board of Education, as I think they come quicker that way. As regards your sending me news of people and things, you can send any general news you like and certainly would be glad to hear a little about things. I have had another letter from Uncle Charlie Webber telling me all about a house of his, or rather a quarrel with the man who owns the adjoining house to his, over a fence. His letters are awfully amusing, although perhaps he doesn’t quite see the things he describes in that way. This is the second affair he has had with the same man, over the same fence, and each time it has nearly ended in a law suit.
I have been reading an account by a Swiss doctor of Barbed Wireitis, which is a particular form of madness said to inflict prisoners of war, and as usual with most people who have just read up a pet ailment, I find that I have all the symptoms, to say nothing of a few added ones, which the learned doctor doesn’t even mention (strangely enough, he doesn’t say anything about the longing to be back with you). I am afraid the rigmarole is a bit too long to describe, but anyhow, after reading his account, (and being a learned doctor, of course he must be correct) I am sure I am going very quickly on the down grade am already “pale and interesting” and in time shall be a “puffick shadder” of my former self.
With regard to the beach hut. The bedrooms could of course be easily made 6’6” one way as you suggest. It would only mean adding that much to the length of the hut. I should think it would be a job for Esther to follow David around, as of course he is liable to be sent about anywhere at a moment’s notice. I rather wonder at him expecting her to do it. That letter of Ethel’s to which you refer never reached me so obviously it must have been addressed to Mum herself and not to me. I wish to goodness Ethel would keep this sort of letter to herself, as it upsets Mum considerably and hasn’t the least desired effect on me. Look here, I can’t have Mrs Muggridge looking upon my photo of you as hers. It won’t do at all. I am perfectly certain it belongs to me, so that unless you are wishful to be the direct cause of a riot when I get back you had better get another done “himmedgit”, if not sooner. I don’t remember feeling particularly thin when I had that platoon photo taken. Certainly I had been getting a large amount of exercise at that time, but still that was not unusual. About your question as to how we cook etc. We split up into small parties of two, three, or five, etc each one of course taking his turn at cooking. Personally being particularly hedgehoggy and unsociable, as you know, I cater for myself and in consequence have reduced my cooking to a fine art, or perhaps some people would suggest that it is laziness par excellence, in as far as I make one lot of cooking carry me over two, or perhaps even three days. For instance, I make enough porridge at once for four breakfasts, so that I only have to warm it up each morning instead of cooking it, and the other things in the same way. I find catering for myself suits me in many ways as I can just feed when and as I choose, which of course would not be so if some of the other fellows had a hand in it, although perhaps I might get a greater variety of dishes than I take the trouble with now. But still, when I get back you shall feed me just as you like.