David to May HOLZMINDEN January 2nd 1918
I woke up on Christmas morning wishing and wishing that I were with you and that we could spend the holiday together – just ourselves. Since my last letter on December 22nd I have had four of yours ranging from November 14th to December 15th. The second photo hasn’t come yet. I am hoping for it soon.
Thanks very much indeed for ordering those books and for sending on the list of Architects books. It will be exactly what I wanted. Could you send me “The Builders Clerk” by T. Bales, published by Spon Ltd. (Batsford should have it).
I am glad to know that the Bazaar is over – I know you would fag yourself out over it and I would give anything to have you sleep like you say. You have done awfully well though with the Bazaar and I am anxious to know the total result (I haven’t got your letter yet), and I want a full description of it all. When I asked for that waistcoat I didn’t intend you to slave away at it when you were so busy with everything else.
It is rather curious that nothing has been heard of Helen’s husband. Can she get no news from the War Office, or from his regiment? With regard to the kiddies being educated by the Masons. It is usual in these cases for the youngsters to go into the Mason’s Orphan Home, but they usually have to get a number of votes for this, or perhaps the Lodge might make Helen a grant. She should, however, get in touch with the Lodge to which he belonged and the Secretary will probably tell her what, to do. I am telling you this in case it should be of any use.
It is rather a nuisance that Sgt. Taylor should have written to Mrs. Heberden. He was Heberden’s platoon sergeant, so I suppose he thought he ought to write and of course gave a number of lurid details in doing so. I suppose he was in the dugout when the operation was going on, as I found him there afterwards.
I have had today another letter from Muriel Maconachie “hoping that I shall get it about Christmas and just to let me know that they will be thinking of me”. Please thank her and tell her that curiosity is one of the deadly sins, against which she should be warned in time and which she should endeavour to resist, lest it consume and overcome her. Please thank Mrs. Maconachie for her good wishes.
In one of your letters you ask if in getting my ear knocked about I got my voice cracked too. I don’t think so, but I haven’t sung anything since I sang to you last. By the way my deafness seems to be gradually going and I am beginning to hear quite well again, although it still whistles a good deal.
On Xmas Day we had dinner, nine of us, a great and mighty feast – with a table cloth, Chairman, Vice Chairman, toasts (I made a speech), and a menu and all and all – but to start at the beginning. We drew lots as to who should do what and another fellow and I had to make out the menu. The two cooks were cooking nearly all day and I think about five of the others laid the table. You should have seen that table – it was a sight for the gods. A blanket served for a table cloth and set off the silver (save the mark) and cutlery (all sparkling and winking in the light) splendidly. But the central ornament was the thing. As a doily there was a smooth cotton towel (it hadn’t been used more than a week) and then a gorgeous epergne made up of the base of a metal shaving mirror and filled with some silver covered chocolates and some imitation Christmas greenery. Then the menu was sketched on some post cards and showed a big busting butler ringing a bell for dinner. Then there was the menu itself – “Puree de Legumes” (half a dozen packet soup powders all mixed together indiscriminately and regardless of flavour, but the result wasn’t at all bad) “Saumon en Casserole” (as a matter of fact it was cooked in a frying pan and one tin of salmon had to do for the lot of us) “Dinde au Jambon a la Diable”, (or as one of the fellows said “a devil of a mesa) “Pommes de Terre Beurrees, Haricots, Petits Poise” (all tinned of course, but turned out quite well), “Macaroni a la Francaise” (macaroni and cheese put into a saucepan together and boiled and guaranteed if you weren’t already ill to make you so), “Pouding de Noel and Sauce a la Creme (Mum’s Christmas pudding and Bird’s custard powder) jolly good, “Compote de Fruits”, (tinned pineapple and apricots) “Boubons” (the aforesaid epergne was dismantled) “Cafe”. And even then I have survived. The toasts were “The King”, “Reunion” (which accounted for my speech) and “The Ladies”, (there being one within five hundred miles of course). Afterwards we all sang songs collectively and as noisily as possible until lights out and bed time.
But all this is all very well, but after I had gone to bed I lay there thinking how much better it would have been if we two could have spent it together in the way we did last year, so I had to go all over last year again and try to imagine you were there. Never mind next year perhaps we shall be together again. I think you did for Mr. Young splendidly over that picture, only you should have made the price considerably higher.
Talking about turning over new leaves – I think you turn over your new leaves alright, but somehow you generally turn them back again, don’t you – but perhaps I have told you this before. Are these temporary girls which you are selecting for the staff to be in your own department and form part of the increase you told me about? Its rather amusing if the Accident girls and girls in other departments are to be under you, for you will then have control of parts of all these departments. The only thing against that is, that it seems to me that it will increase your work and make it heavier than it already is, and that I don’t like.
Thanks very much for telling me about Brigstock. By the way, have they sent Mum a certificate for a previous 15 shares bought on April 30th making 25 in all? I am enclosing another letter to Mum as usual. A number of officers have gone to Holland from here, those that have been captured over 18 months. I envy them, but I don’t want to go to Holland – I want to get back to you.
2nd Jan 1918 PoW Christmas dinner
David to May HOLZMINDEN January 2nd 1918