Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A visit to see a famous radio personality and more adventures in Leeds

Friday 26th April

My Dearest Mum and Dad

Here goes, & I shouldn’t be surprised if this is going to be a long letter. It contains nearly a week’s review & also answers, I think, six letters of yours. You mustn’t mind me collecting all these before replying, as I can’t help receiving them and not replying.

Let me see now. I think I left you on Sat. afternoon having had a bathe in the swimming baths. Well, after tea I went out & bought those photos of Becketts Park, went down to the YMCA & finished your letter, sent postcards off to Eric & Len & later on went round to the Soldiers Rest where I had a wee supper (The place is like the YMCA in function) came out & discovered I had left my respirator in the YMCA so I hurried round but found it had closed for the night as the time was now 10.45p.m. However a chap lent me his respirator to report back with, & I duly retrieved mine on Sunday afternoon. On Sat and Sun we are allowed out till 12 p.m.

Sunday morning we had church parade & the Padre took the service. I’ll describe the service as I described it to Iris.

The organ played before the service, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Sweetest Name I know, Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go”. “O for the Wings of a Dove”. “We would see Jesus” & a church voluntary.

The hymns were “Soldiers of Christ Arise” “Be thou my guardian and my guide” & some other hymn which I’ve forgotten. The Psalm was 46. Before the sermon a male vocalist rendered, “If with all your hearts ye truly seek him”.

The sermon was excellent & was about he houses that were built, one on sand & the other on the rock. The main points are obvious, & he explained them very well to my mind.

And as the daffodils had reappeared, in the vases beside the wooden cross, the service reminded me of the first one that I attended.

In the afternoon we had our little time together, but as a good number of chaps were on week-end leave, there wasn’t a large number present. But still we had a good time. Directly this had finished, I went into Leeds for my g-mask & got back in time for tea.

In the evening, & this Dad can tell Mr. Nightingale, I went to Headingley Methodist Church on the occasion of children’s Anniversary to hear Romany. I learned later that he had lectured there on Saturday evening & being an extraordinarily clever lightning artist had illustrated his lecture by making sketches. I wish I had known beforehand as I might have been able to work a visit in.

The church was packed long before the service began & chairs had to be brought in. As a matter of fact, I arrived in good time, abt 15 mins early, & yet could only secure a rotten seat where the vision of the speaker was almost shut out by a pillar supporting the gallery. Still, I got several short glimpses of Romany & will describe him to you as best, as I can. He stands a fairly good height, abt 5ft 11in to 6ft I should say, & wore on this occasion a grey suit which reminded me of my best one. He has a striking appearance & one can detect the Gypsy strain. He has deep, lustrous eyes, & dark lean features. But the part I like best is his great tangled stock of raven hair which reveals him as a poet straight away. He is going bald now, but only slightly.

His language is beautiful & flashed with gems of nature illustrations & exquisite imagery.

Here are a few things which he said in the opening prayer.

“We can never look upon a good thing & be the same again”.

“There is no Geography with God. Whether we are in Norway or in France it is all the same. We are all in the hollow of his hand”.

“Nothing is worth anything unless it is given away; not because it is worthless but because it is priceless. If you could buy it, you can’t” etc

Then in his address he spoke of the way in which men seek happiness. The way of Business & so on. Then he spoke of The Way & said after describing the narrowness & difficulties of that way “and so we journey on, and do we find happiness? No”. Of course everyone felt rather startled. But then he added “No , we don’t find happiness, but that happiness finds us”. And then he elaborated on that theme in a way that it would be foolish for me to try & replicate. His text was from the first Psalm, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water”. He, being the happy man, who is mentioned in the first verse.

It was a lovely sermon & altogether a memorable occasion. His knowledge & interpretation of Nature is really wonderful and I am wondering if he has written any books along this line, as they would be worth reading.

The service over, I stayed to a little meeting arranged for the troops at which somebody sand “Bless this house”, & there were some violin solos etc. So Sunday came to a close.

Monday evening I went to the News Theatre for my weekly relaxation & saw pictures of the German Invasion of Denmark, a film of the French troops, one of the Pottery Industry, another of the Australian Life-Savers & small Australian Sailing Craft & a comic strip.

On Tuesday evening I went with Ken Ballisat to Fuller’s Café, Bond St, Leeds & heard Bryan Green & Howard Guinness speak. I’m enclosing an invitation card, which has got a bit grubby. It was very interesting to listen to them though between them they spoke for 2hrs. The audience was of the University type & was quite large. Bryan Green you know is the chap who speaks on the Wireless quite often. Today, if you read the Daily Telegraph you’d read the report of the marriage of the Queen’s niece, the Hon – Bowes Lyon at Holy Trinity, Brompton & the Rev. Bryan Green officiated. So he wasn’t present at the Thursday meeting in Leeds.

Weds I couldn’t go out as I was put on Cook-house fatigue very unexpectedly so Ken went alone. I spent some of time afterwards in continuing a letter to Iris, a letter which owing to the little time available each day for writing, I didn’t send off the letter until yesterday Thursday, though it was started Tuesday. There was a concert here on Weds but I didn’t go, though I heard that it was very good, with conjuring & so on.

Thursday evening I went down to the Headingley Post Office & bought some stamps posted your post-card & the letter to Iris. Coming back I watched a football match for ¼ hour then went in late to the film show in our Main Hall, which didn’t last very long. There was a film of Princess Mary (Royal) inspecting our A.T.S. She was, by the way, dressed like they. Also a film of our Church Parade. I must have been on there, but of course everything passes so quickly, & with 1000 men on parade, it’s hard to pick yourself out. A couple of medical films, one on sterilization, the other on the heart, a Pop-eye comic & a Mickey Mouse. Tell Joan that the Mickey Mouse film was the same one that we saw at Page’s Garage in the Morris show, with Donald Duck reciting “Little Boy Blue, Come blow on your horn” at Mickey Mouse’s Orphans’ Party.

The last film was a news review of 1938. Rather late, what? It was amusing though sad to see Chamberlain on his return from Munich holding aloft the paper, “No war for 25 years”.

Tonight Friday I’m staying in writing to you. I’m afraid that you won’t get this letter until Monday, after all. Never min, dear, I do write long letters when I do get going, don’t I?

Tomorrow morning I get another tetanus inoculation. There is no sick-leave as it is painless in its after effects.

Your letter written last Thursday, by the way, I only received this Tuesday evening, but the letter written on Friday I received on Monday. Queer world, isn’t it?

Those Elim fellows are C.O’s as you thought. I haven’t been able to see them lately, unfortunately. Ken Ballisat hasn’t been out to tea with me. I’ve only been out twice myself though I’ve been asked on several occasions to go to this & that home for tea. But dear, where’s the chance? I simply can’t find the time, with everything crying out to be done. Ken was at the `Romany’ service on Sunday. He attends all of our meetings at Becketts Park, but doesn’t go to the Brethren, as he prefers C of E.

It’s very nice of Mr Compton to recommend Derek like he did. You’ll tell me how he gets on, won’t you? I’m glad, too to know that Mr Cross is not so cross when it come to conscientious objectors.

I suppose by now that you’ve found out what was wrong with Mr Littlewood. Do please let me know.

I’m returning Joan Rose’s photos which I think are grand.

Re. my photos I ordered 6 & the one enlargement. Total cost 4/6. I hope that 6 will do instead of 9. (P.S. I believe I ordered 12 after all).

Re. Lord Haw-Haw. I had heard several times that Colchester had been bombed & destroyed, but living in Colchester I didn’t quite believe the stories.

You needn’t worry about me wearing the summer dress. For one thing the trousers are a little too long in the leg & for another the weather has been most extraordinary these last few days. Just two or three days ago it turned remarkably hot from extreme cold & at the moment of writing there is a terrific overhead thunderstorm which is making the whole building tremble.

It’s now Saturday afternoon & I’ve just come back from the second tetanus inoculation. This morning we had another medical list and were re-graded. I came out again as A1.

As I said before when I leave here, I haven’t the faintest idea as to where I shall be sent anywhere in England or abroad for that matter, & as for further training, the only kind we haven’t had is the actual practical training with real cases, but as far as the theory is concerned, we’ve been taught all that anyone would ever want to know without specialised training in any special branch of the medical work. As I’ve explained before the grass hasn’t been growing under our feet & the ground covered would astonish you. But I do hope that I shall be moved nearer home.

I think that Pansy is bearing up wonderfully considering her sorrows. Tell her that she needn’t worry about the insurance of the furniture whilst stored at Joslin’s, as it’s covered against everything. I too, will be glad when she has settled down once & for all. She deserves it, poor girl.

I should think that Dick could kick himself for being such a fool as to join voluntarily, especially as he would have been exempt. Did he ask Joan’s advice & permission?

Re. money bag, I didn’t wear it round the neck after the first week or so for the very good reason that I was changing into P.T. kit & so on & as we are only allowed two minutes in which to change, on can’t very well stop to think where to put it for safety whilst I’m away. So I keep it in my back trousers pocket now, & when I want any money it’s easier to get hold of, & handier to lock it away when I leave my trousers in my room. Don’t please think that it’s no use. It’s very handy on the contrary, & cannot be missed or lost like a leather purse or wallet.

So you heard the gunfire from the Thames Estuary. What a pity you heard it so loudly & were so frightened. I don’t hear any guns here, but I think this present thunder is making more noise than gunfire.

Won’t Bubbles & Wilfred feel proud of themselves now? I’m glad that they’re settled at last & that they have such a splendid wedding to look back upon. They seem to be making a big splash with the honeymoon at Bournemouth. I wonder where they are going to live.

Tell Joan not to worry about writing as it doesn’t matter for I fully understand all that she has to do, & writing is no end of a fag (sometimes). I’m glad she liked that card, or rather the sentiment.

If the girls feel like they would like to join up to see if they can get a lot of lovely parcels, they can try the A.T.S. but I hope that they won’t waddle the same as most of these girls.

My thigh is O.K. And arm, for that matter, The medical work is very interesting.

I think Mr. Boyden is a dear man behind his sometimes dignified exterior. It was so kind of him to think about Pansy like that. All the same it doesn’t speak much for the other teachers at the Mission. The next thing would appear to be that the Mission people will have to buy Mr Boyden is a new suit. Perhaps all his money I tied up in `Defence Bonds’.

Concerning the cartoon you sent me of Musso called `Doubtful Attitude’, I think that the question, “What do you think of Musso’s parents” is a doubtful question. The thing is, what does Musso think of them, & is the shape of the ?? the shape of Things to Come? As a Revelation Frog, he appears to be poised for the jump.

I fully understand how difficult Steph must have found things now that there will be such a rise in prices. Also the newness of the job & her natural reserve. I hope that she’ll grow to like the job, as I’m sure se really will when se has been there a little while. The job must be interesting, I know.

The Sunrise Demonstration with Jenny co-starring with Howard must have been a special treat for you. Jenny seems destined to follow in your melodious wake.

Re. the increase in postage, if you like you can send me a letter every other day, as I’m sure that 2 ½ d is too much to pay. I shall try & retrench, but where, I don’t know. All I know is that prices are ruinous & having a pre-war mind, I think that everything isn’t worth half of the price demanded.

Thanks for sending me Tommy’s letter. I’m returning it herewith, & would say that I’m thankful that he is making the best of things where he is, & seems to be quite cheerful. I trust that he can see the Hand of the Lord in the altered circumstances of his life as much as he hopes you can see it in my case.

The Jews meeting must have been disappointing for you with your sensitive mind. It is terrible, I know to hear about such wicked persecutions, but we can’t close our eyes to them, & realising the truth of it, we get interesting insights into our delightfully Christian Nazi friends.

You didn’t spell Ideology write (This is how you spelt right when you wrote the question. However, we all make mistake, that is when we write quickly, as we do.

It must be a relief to you for Mary to be recovered from G.Measles. One trial less, anyway. Mary must be glad, also.

I was sorry to hear about Suzanne. She does seem to be always falling down & bashing her head. The poor little mite, how careful Iris must be with her to prevent a recurrence.

I was ever so pleased to hear from dear old Dad. I’ll try & answer his letter tomorrow. The same goes for Iris B. Pansy & Mary.

And now dears, I wish you every blessing until I can write again, & better still, until I see you again when I have my leave. The blessing of God be upon you both.

Your ever loving Son

John xxxxxx


How sad to learn of the unfortunate circumstances of Mr Dennis’ death. He was a man who always looked at noble ideals & made them his own. I hold him in reverent memory for his helpful messages, & Colchester is poorer by his passing.

1 comment:

  1. “There is no Geography with God. Whether we are in Norway or in France it is all the same. We are all in the hollow of his hand.”

    Amen to that.

    Sitting in a packed pew, doing what a good man would do, and then makes a point of making his parents proud because he knows it will make them smile and help them worry a little less. Etched on his mind, the excerpts from the opening prayer seem to have connected with him; probably has something to do with the general context.