Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 27 Nov; Basel to Zurich, Switzerland

Tue 27-Nov-56: Got train to Harwich, boat to Holland & down the Rhine by Lorelei Express, arrived Zurich about 9pm
Basle, Switzerland
27 Nov 1956

My ultimate darling,

This is positively my last word on the whole of the matter. I am finally, definitely, irrevocably, finished when this letter is completed.

I have just come out of the Georges Chirico station of Deutschland Bâsle.

The interminable station – grey in its extended length, no one on it to say or wave goodbye to whoever may have been committed, like me, into the night’s dark care. Overhead the great vaulted roof which in the dismal gloom took on the quality of a cathedral without its soul, and as the train pulled out, the greyness stretched into a memory of parallel lines which hoped to meet but never did & under the disappearing single row of lights a solitary figure, an official of some sort, keeps pace with the train until he too, fades off into the gloom of memory.

I am now changed from the comfortable Lorelei Express into the local Swiss train to Zurich and the seats are wood and feel like concrete under the behind. I am in proud and solitary splendor – one dame having just fled from the presence into a ladies non-smoker. All of which is as it should be.

I assure you this is the evening’s finale. It has been a long day & I think I have just about said everything that has entered my head during the first leg home. Do you still think being together has its delights? If so, when? Now?

I don’t know when God is going to stop looking after me. I’m tired and unshaven but I am very happy because people have been nice to me & I am now lying down in the second bridal suite I have been in since I left home. The first was at Grünwald near Munich, remember. I hope I dream about you tonight. When I got to this Hotel Italia in Zurich, King’s friend had gone the last 4 years. There was no room but somehow someone moved & here I am in a perfect spot for a thing or two, the way I am, three. Anyway darling, I am happy after an exhausting day all told. And I will be on a plane towards you both tomorrow. I know that I will be home before this letter but I can’t help wanting you now – and the only way I can have you is by writing. As I hear the footsteps padding off up the road, or street, I have not seen. I think it becoming to say goodnight, my very dear, and completely, honey chile.

IMG_0248 IMG_0249 IMG_0246

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 27 Nov; On the Lorelie Express past Koblenz

On the Lorelie Express
past Koblenz.
27 Nov 56

Dearest,

While this train is slowing down I will explain that it is impossible to write legibly when it is going full bat. It rocks around worse than a Northwood Bus so do your best to decipher it all.

The Rhine River from aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956
The Rhine River from aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956

The Rhine! Not so impressive as one would want – give away history and its accompanying romance, leave away the towns, and you have only a moderate river finding its own way to its level. But who can leave aside its Romance. That is the Rhine, surely. Not the great bombed out areas for the really dreary German grey flats & dwellings. The inevitable bare trees – ghosts of the past sit by the edge with their feet in the continuity of time. What’s wrong with the Germans! They look docile enough, but some mad concept is behind their being. Gas chambers, mass destruction – Valkyrie & the rest. It is all there – seemingly invisible, but I am sure just waiting for another prototype to emerge.

Here I fall to sleep.

Sweet dreams my sweet one.
Sweet kisses

Later still on the Rhineland

You ought to think yourself something quite out of the box! Who else gets their man never to rest without worrying about having his missus near him – or wanting her to be as well off as he? I know you are an old dragon, a nagging wretch, a frigid image, a frustrated schoolmarm – but still unique & quite out of the box in all categories. In short, for the practically last time – I am telling the European air – you have a man who loves you – take him as he is.

Still later. It’s dark now, and I have just finished dinner or supper (pork chop & 1/2 bottle very good light claret – midday – had steak & mushrooms & chicken soup & by mistake 1/2 bt. white wine which was very good too. Today, I am eating just what I want & its good for me morally – but not financially.

Outside the rails are slippery wet now & the puddles on the station floor are put like pools of remembrance. I am at Offenbach – and it all gives me a feeling of the Man Who Watched the Trains Go By. There is a more definite feeling of going somewhere into an unknown future when you are on a train & it is dark & wet and you never can tell what will eventuate – like getting into an underground railway system & coming up for air with a completely foreign & new born vision. The sheer immediacy of never having seen moving life in its place – its actually suddenly confronting you as you walk out of the subway is an extraordinary & unique experience. One that I would like to share with you because you would depend on me to know where & why and what – and you could look freely because you know that somehow I would find you your place in that little part of the world and that I would try and look after you. I am writing this better because I am at the eating table – am more comfortable. I might even have some more claret because I feel sentimental – but hope I do not sound too disgustingly so. I need your faith – it is a great help.

Not long ago we passed nearby to Heidelberg. Romantic eh? The Rhineland & its vineyards – but the dull dreary German houses, stodgy – grey – box like & inevitably the same. But the name – and the evocative images (which are always wrong & phoney) – Listen London – Harwick – Hook of Holland – Rotterdam – Kaldenkirchen – Köln – Coblenz – Mainz – Carlsruhe – Baden oos – Freiburg – come off like a string of pearls don’t they? Or a length of Heinz Spaghetti? My darling, I would like you to be with me. Perhaps you would have had greater pleasure than I out of seeing & sensing the different ways of man. I know, fundamentally in my heart that I don’t set a great deal of store on this sightseeing – that everything is really where it is right under your own nose – as it is for the people of Mainz or Brashov – Venizia or Paris – or Brompton & from that matter, Paddington where I first learnt the glories of the visible world. When I used to sit at the top floor bedroom window & watch the sun die in glory over the roofs of the tenements that frinhed the Brougham Rd near the Cross. When the narrow alleys were full of winter smoke from the fireplaces of the poor. And the gas lamp man would round his already completed task of illuminating a tiny corner of the streets. And what of the bamboos, so tall and strong enough for a doyen of monkeys, singing with locusts, & ablaze with the gold & blue of the Christmas & Blue Monday beetles. Yeah? I don’t suppose anything has ever really penetrated me since I was small and in a constant state of wonder. In the castor oil trees, on the fences, smoking bamboo stalks, burrowing tunnels in the school yard banks & reading goggle-eyed the naughty words in the latrines.

Please don’t think I have retrogressed to a second childhood. It is so dark & the train jigs too much for me to read. I find a relief in exploding myself on paper – I have done so little work – none at all – since I left home. I am bottled up & probably need your warm clutch on my creature member.

This really is going too far. If I keep this up, letters will be coming in for a month or two after I get home.

God, when you look out of the window see cars & houses, you wonder how anyone could settle down so far away from Northwood Rd. But I guess it all depends on what is home – your family, I think is home.

I have been thrown out the Spiesenkarten car because the Swiss Customs men are due aboard. I am back now in the rickety carriage with my sole & worldly European possessions.

I look forward to loving you both with spirit and flesh. I don’t think we make a bad pair together.

Your still loving (even at home) husband

Bill

Please come to me now.

 

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 27 Nov; Lorelei Express – Andernach on the Rhine

Mon/Tue 26/27-Nov-56: Got train to Harwich, boat to Holland & down the Rhine by Lorelei Express, arrived Zurich about 9pm
Possibly travelling through Cologne, Germany, aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956
Possibly travelling through Cologne, Germany, aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956
Cologne Cathedral in the distance from aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956
Cologne Cathedral in the distance from aboard the Lorelei Express train travelling from Holland to Zurich; 27 November 1956
Andernach on the Rhine
Tues. 27th Nov.

Darling,

I am just sitting here in the eating carriage & we are whizzing alongside the Rhine. It is a marvellous day – as a German said to me “sehr frühling” (very spring). Sun and clouds & blue sky – I just looked up and saw my wrinkled old mug in the mirror & thought “well, well, there is a lucky man, and just look at him!”

I am too lucky to last. But please keep your fingers crossed because it is very nice to be lucky in love & most else!

XXX

1956 Wep Letters_00101956 Wep Letters_00111956 Wep Letters_00121956 Wep Letters_0013

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 26 Nov; London – one last letter

Mon 26-Nov-56: Bought book on Picasso. Saw Royal Camden Portrait exhibition. Had drinks with McNulty, Gladwynn & Noel Monks at Press Club.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0157

In a London bar in Soho
Monday-midday
26 Nov 56

Dearest thingummy girl,

Received your last two letters all in good time this morning-after I had taken my two bags down to the luggage department at Liverpool Street station. I was wandering about the city end-and while passing the great St Paul’s Cathedral, I settled into your letters. I’ll have you know they bucked me up considerably-it is quite remarkable how firm I felt about them all. There was not a trace of softness in my make up-my very being hardened when I contemplated the situation that confronts me on my return. You can rest assured that I will handle the matter ruthlessly and expediently. After the first encounter with the problem, I hope to negotiate it with equal firmness, but perhaps, with more subtlety and grace. I hope you will find my attitude to it all, meets with your approval, and that we can continue the negotiations together-towards a successful conclusion-although I do not think we should show any willingness to finalise the issue for some considerable time. Indeed I rather fancy the idea of greatly prolonged negotiations-gives us a chance to play the one against the other. Taken all in all, I am very much in favour of firmness, combined with fluidity.

I thank you for the information on how my advances are likely to be received.

Have been to a few shops to find Partos bras and there is not a great deal about-style 283 is finished in any case-nevertheless bought the only three styles they had-cheap enough 16/-, 12/, 11/3 or something like that.

Later about 4 p.m. Am back at Consol Press office to go out and have a drink with McNulty. Spent some time at a Royal Academy exhibition of 800 English portraits from early times till now. Went back to Hotel to get odds and ends and find I am too late to have another look at the National Gallery. Anyway I too tired to worry about seeing more godamm pictures. In another three hours I’ll be on my way home-and very happy about it-really want to see you both and have a rest for a few days. I hope you get this letter on Saturday instead of Friday afternoon. I want to keep you hot and strong for my homecoming. God bless you and Graham and Trellie.

Your very loving and homecoming husband and father

Bill.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Get Directions

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 26 Nov; Aboard the S.S. Duke of York for Holland

Mon/Tue 26/27-Nov-56: Got train to Harwich, boat to Holland & down the Rhine by Lorelei Express, arrived Zurich about 9pm

Aboard the train from Liverpool Street Station, London to Harwich; 26 November 1956
Aboard the train from Liverpool Street Station, London to Harwich where Bill then took the S.S. Duke of York to Hook of Holland; 26 November 1956
Aboard the train from Liverpool Street Station, London to Harwich; 26 November 1956
Aboard the train from Liverpool Street Station, London to Harwich where Bill then took the S.S. Duke of York to Hook of Holland; 26 November 1956
On the S.S. Duke of York
Monday night in the bar for the sake of anywhere else to sit
26 Nov 56

Darling Dorothy,

A very filling day – which is much better than sitting around wanting for something to happen. I am at a disadvantage to say what I would like because this place is bedlam & I can’t move or even sit down anywhere else.

I want to tell you that leaving a country in a ship is not what I like – I prefer to leave in a plane with all its possibilities of death – but when off, clean and away – none of the terrible slimy wasling(?) stuff running around the edges – the darkness of the water – and above all no one – because it is so slow away. One half hour & the lights get a bit dimmer – a red light in the middle of nowhere tolls a bell and the sea starts to spray into your face & it is much colder & the stars (believe it or not) are out just like in Australia. And I ask some gink – of course he is a Norwegian or something – & he doesn’t answer the question I ask but points out a star & says “North”. Then I point out an obvious shape & he says “Orion”. So now I know because I have often heard of it.

It is obvious most of the second class travellers are going to spend the 4-5 hours in the bar. Most of them speak Dutch – possibly German. I love you. I would like you down on the very windy deck getting covered in sporay & holding my hand and not even saying much at all. Please excuse this writing – people are falling all over me & I am doing it on my lap because I know it doesn’t matter in the slightest for I will be home with you before this arrives. But still. When you go down to the letter box there will be a reminder of what I was thinking during my passage home to you & Graham. I may as well finish the Odyssey & you can ask me something about the news that arrives after I get home.

This boat rocks plenty. Enough for you to say “pull your imaginative head in”. So what? Here you have a perfectly amenable husband and you’re trying to straighten him up. This boat is rocking like the devil and I get pushed around. Out of the blue a drunken Scotch dame starts singing “Here in my heart” & immediately everything becomes false & phoney. Her companion sings “I walk beside you” in a sort of Londonerry air tune.

There is a certain fascination about this, sweetheart, I wish I could take you out into the biting air, that sharpens your whole existence. If I had you with me it would be purposeful – but now – what is the point? I may as well sit & observe this humanity & their particvular type of unity. I never need you more than when I see the things that should be seeing & I am alone. Not that it is fundamentally different from being in the Lane Cove Hotel when they are giving off. The only difference is that they are strangers & one is more tolerant.

Later (they closed the bar at 11 o’clock).

I haven’t the foggiest what I have written but now, when I had found a quiet little place in a corner, 3 half naked boys come around & ask me where the women are? Wouldn’t it? Apparently you can get one for 3 – 4 – or (hours) or minutes? And yet I see the same types getting brushed off by the score on the open deck.

I have had this ship. It throbs and rattles & is not worth thinking about. I don’t like the sea it sails in. It stinks, the North Sea is horrible grey, has no ozone anywhere within a thousand miles of it. It is the crumbiest end – like the terrible poor red mullet I see in the shops. Like very, very dead nanegai (nannygai). I don’t like any part of Europeans. Stinkers who like all the windows closed. Pommies who are no better than they should be, Cockneys & Liverpool seamen, half-baked second class travellers who have the effrontery to wear striped trousers & black split arsed coats & homburg. Probably messengers acting fine for a day. Open up their suitcase & what is in it but a bloody pillow & another brief case, shit! 3 Germans are installed in the so called cabin. It’s alright I guess – but I want to see what goes on.

Do you really know what I want? I tell you. It is to go up on the ship deck with both of us in a decent coat – to have the harsh salt in our faces & for me to kiss it off your cold lips – and to hold hands – and not say very much at all – just to be there – and together in the North Sea.

I have seen the constellation of Orion and I suppose the Dog Star & Christ knows what (which I didn’t recognise). I still want you with me, because you are one who can be alone and undemonstrative with me. Even if you felt that you needed companionship I would be only too happy to break my own reticence & join with you in some unity of – well put your own words to it. I am apt to get too hypocritically devotional.

This ship is the end – shakes like a Pontiac over the horror stretch of Lane Cove Rd.

You Dorothy, have got me now, I have become adjusted – and that is a silly word. I have become in love with what you have given & still offer me. Irrespective of the knowledge that there are many more violences to come (but do you really think that, after our long separation, that we should be as violent as we have been. Surely if either one of us, should have sense enough to suggest that there was a time when we were both (and I believe this) practically, physically & mentally dying for each other, that we shouldn’t be able to say just the one word that would fix us? (Either of us.) It is still better not to have had a terrible sundering row than to consider its rather anti-climatic finish. I get so buggared up about the relationship at times. Perhaps I like (sadistically) the rows, which ultimately throw you back into my arms.

In some respects I am very much younger than the people of my own age. They seem all so responsible, & in England quickly prone to a sentimental fullness which is suspect in Sydney.

That sea – this broken down old ship, the stinking sea – the cold fresh, air of the North Sea. Perhaps being apt has something to do with it – the badly fixed propeller thrashing beneath us.

Anyway, I still love you. Will you please come back to bed with me? now? after you read this? You said you liked it, and I am sure you do.

I have had another go on the deck but still have a deep seated horror of the slimy sea. I want no part of it – at least alone, in my lifetime.

If you can’t read this letter – which I can forgive – you can ask me what it is all about because I, having written it, am about the only judge & interpreter. But, you old & well established paragon of a wife, forgive me for the need of you. Just come into me wherever I may be, and give me a kiss because, I have needed you so very, very much.

Yours present

Bill.

 

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 25 Nov; London – saw Marian Anderson at Royal Festival Hall

Sun 25-Nov-56: Walked along south Embankment – saw end of service in Abbey. With Marian Anderson, Jean Ure at Royal Festival Hall

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0152

25 Nov 56
London Sun 8:30 p.m.

Dearest wife,

How nice to sit down with you again-even though it be only with an inadequate letter. How little a substitute for the real thing, when this time next Sunday night, I will be (God willing) with you and Graham incomplete and satisfying reality-slightly gorged with good food and drink and completely overflowing with the wonderful serenity of being in my own home and with my own, very, very, exclusively, my own people. I hope I handle this wonderful reunion, with the grace it deserves, and that we all will find nothing discordant in the whole day and the whole wonderful night. I am frantic to be there-now!

This day began very smoothly for me. Perhaps because I was relaxed and really didn’t care much what it brought. I rang an earnest English lass who teaches Romanian here (I met her in Bucharest with John St John) and made arrangements to meet her this afternoon for a look around. Being my last lingering look so to speak. Anyway after looking at The Times I noticed Marian Anderson was giving a farewell concert at 3 p.m. at the Royal Festival Hall. So I decided I’d stroll peacefully over the Hungerford Bridge and see if I could get some tickets. Got a couple of 10 bobbers. The Thames almost like Paris this morning-mild and misty enough to etherealise the fine north side buildings-and the trees lining the embankment reminiscent of those alongside the Seine. A limpid autumn, though practically sunless, morning. After getting the tickets I idly watched the seagulls in their leisurely Sabbath diversions-their graceful landings-fine, and abrupt take offs into the wind, then veering in side slips like fighter planes over the body of the river-poised almost motionless-ray and white, the breathless curving of their wings fluting through the air-and turning into the smoothest glides. Beautiful, unspoken poetry, movements carved in air, and left engraved in the mind. Relaxing-and in a sort of inverted way, exciting just because one so seldom spends that available and rewarding time. A further sauntering taking me past the huge Italian Renaissance style county council buildings with steps running down onto the Thames and looking like some miss placed and darkened Doge’s Palace. Across Westminster Bridge past the Houses of Parliament, past Westminster Abbey, when something made me retrace my steps and enter while the morning service was on. Then a wonderful choral singing-filling the ancient walls with sound so that is seemed to come out of the very pores of the stones. The two sections of the choir throwing back the themes one to the other-and silvery and sombre voices weaving a pattern throughout the whole. With the music of the goals and the almost visible design of this most magnificent singing I felt the day could hardly bring more or comparable delight. And it didn’t.

Having some little time to spend until I met this Jean Ure (who was some relative, cousin, or niece of Syd Ure Smith) I thought I’d try some draught Guinness at a pub called the Villiers, pubs being open too on Sunday here. Found the stout very good and settle down with my paper alongside a dame on a bench. She was as Irish as they came and started talking to me. Asked me if I’d have a drink with her-naturally I had reversed the salutation and buy her drink. Then she up and she’s sorry she couldn’t buy me one she was short. Well I bought another and then she tried to touch me for lunch-no! Then 2/- no. I got up and changed 2/- and gave her 1/-. Fortunately that got rid of her-but sadly dented my benignity.

Walked back over the Thames and waited 20 minutes for this dame, who is un-humorously earnest about socialist good works. I don’t know whether it was my disintegrating ecstasy or the workings of the Guinness but I enjoyed the show less than my walk across the bridge back to meet the girl. The Thames still looking fine, fitful sunlight and through the pearly atmosphere a single gleam of gold, high keyed-from the distant dome of St Paul’s, and behind me the occasional train chuffing over the bridge, it’s bellowing is fading off into the sounds of church bells somewhere in the south.

I am not very keen on these contralto sort of voices and they don’t seem eminently suitable for Mozart to me. But, she really was magnificent in the Negro spirituals. Perhaps because they were simpler, and I could follow the theme and emotion better, I went from them in a big way. So did the rest of the house-she got a wonderful reception from the enormous crowd present.

The Royal Festival Hall, built in 1951, very modern, and quoting my guidebook “a concert hall which such great conductors as Toscanini have declared the finest in the world. The exterior has met with some criticism, but the acoustics and amenities, the planning and the decor of the interior have received almost universal praise.” This could hardly be disputed-the exterior is a cross between a factory and a hangar but the interior is quite fabulously successful in appearance and function. Huge foyer with glass walls and all round vision, alongside, are found bars, restaurants overlooking the Thames, the lower coffee lounge and cafeteria-fine slick glass and wood stairways and an enormous concert hall-lined below with padded red leatherette, above on the second flight with a well designed fabric. Fine acoustically waved roof, studded with many lamps like stars. You would have loved it-what a pity. Anyway, we had a light tea and I got back here about eight. Well content with the day, and now about to give up the good fight.

Have got the radiator on trying to dry out a shirt and handkerchiefs as I want to get all my luggage down to Liverpool Street station early so that I can get back to the city and have a quick look at the Royal Academy and a final run through the National Gallery.

Am getting restless about my return. Once I get moving-well, I should be something or other-I don’t know-have given up thinking.

Much love, my very dear one.

Monday morning 8 a.m. [26 Nov 56]

well, this is it, sweetie, I’m about to take my first tottering steps on the homeward journey. I packed and everything is beautifully squashed down for five days-“God help this” all screamed the new suit, dressing down, and female odds and ends. Nothing to be done about that-but forward into the night! Whoops Dearie-I’m practically there-get yourself into trim-cleanse the fatted duck, pat Graham and Trellie-I’m on the way!

Love, love, lovey, from your bird on the wing — Bill.

XXXXXX SAOH for all!

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
Get Directions

XXXXXX SAOH for all!

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 24 Nov; London – another look in at the Tate

Sat 24-Nov-56:  Bought ticket to Zurich – sent off books to self & S. Rotaru. Tate Gallery in afternoon.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0149

Sat 24th of Nov 56
London

Sweetheart,

Oh girl, oh girl, oh boy! Is is good is sit down? Have had it again!

Bustled round Oxford St and Piccadilly trying to buy some string, get books all cleared away-went to Thomas Cook’s and got my ticket to Zürich. Pretty near all set-must go through all the bits and pieces of paper etc.-to see what I can clear out to make space and save weight. There seems a lot of fiddly little things I want to arrive back with to save all the filthy delay of surface post. Superficial odds and ends-just to have something to show what’s been doing. Oh-perhaps fell finish up getting posted like the rest of the stuff.

Went to the Tate Gallery after a few Guinness and sandwiches and spent the best part of three hours there, and left completely wrung out. It is very difficult to take all these pictures in-so many one has seen reproductions of. And rarely do the reproductions have the soft and convincing atmosphere, or colour relation, that is inherent in the originals. Somehow they always harden up and become more aggressive, more blatantly colourful than the paintings from which they were taken. Van Gogh’s sunflowers have so much more vitality and tenderness. Saw the original of that painting in our hall too, incidentally. A couple of Gauguin, much more impressive in reality. Dozens and dozens of things you’d recognise, I have seen. It gets tiresome. I’ll get it back stop all very much to the good I think, because you get the feeling you’d like to experiment and get at it a bit yourself. But apart from making some contact with Ampol (if the commission is still available) I want to sit down for a couple of days. I haven’t done so, except in a plane, or a train, all whilst eating, or writing, since I got off at Rome. I warn you, I am only 11 stone with sports coat, jumper, and overcoat on. Anyhow I am sure you will spoil me-and fatten me up for the Xmas killing. I love you.

Talking of Xmas-Regent St and Oxford have now got all Xmas trees, coloured lights, and Father Xmas out, and the place is quite bright, but bloody cold. It makes me glad that Xmas will be at home with my highly specialised family-would be the very end to get stuck here (or anywhere else) alone when all the spirit is building up, and the half crowns are jingling in your pocket. A very great number of 2/6 pieces here-more than florins. Never quite sure whether I am planking down 2/6 or 2/-. In any case they hardly last long enough to notice. Grog is a colossal price over here-Sherry 3/- glass, claret 2/6 small glass, Scotch 2/6 or 2/9, gin and tonic 2/4 or 2/10. 1/3 bottle (they make beer in little bottles like the tiny Guinness Stout you might have seen) beer 1/1 -stout 1/5 – 1/6 equivalent to about 3 glass to bottle. Consequently everybody is very sober over here.

I’m not very verbose tonight but want, very much, for you both to get a letter are day practically up till the day before I arrive-that way you will not be stamping about the unpruned rose bushes wondering what has happened to your errant (hah! hah! That’s a laugh) husband. I should be in bed with you before you finish reading my last note-and you had, very definitely, be prepared to like it.

Enough for now, I’ll see if I can squeeze a number drop out of this pen in the morning, when the alleged daylight arrives. And with that I give you another consignment of good old home spun love. Kiss, kiss, SAOH.

Sunday morning [25 Nov 56]. Woke early, about 4:30-and read till 5:30-thought I’d give Morphens another visit and stayed with him till 8 a.m. when breakfast brought me to. I am about to wash ½ doesn’t handkerchiefs, one day for the way home-have a horrible pile of dirty ones. Roley’s place was the only opportunity I have had to boil them up and iron them. Nevertheless we manage along and I hope to get home reasonably clean. I’ll diagnose my dirty stuff when you are not looking. It has been raining during the night which seems all to the good as it is now warmer and not so foggy. This is my second last letter as after tomorrow nothing can beat me bringing personal tidings of joy and affection for my two very dear people. I send you a great deal of love darling, and for Graham a great anxiety to see how he has grown-and how long, if not taller, young Trellie has grown. Love, love and more love from your very close at hand husband,

Bill.

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 23 Nov; London – a new suit

Fri 23-Nov-56:    Did bit of shopping – saw Wallace Collection & picked up suit.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0146

7 Granville St [Place]
London 23rd Nov 56

My dearest wife,

I was so pleased to get your very loving letter in which you said you had arranged to send me money. Your very real affection warmed the shivering old frame (it is only about 36°F here) and kept me glowing for a very considerable time. It was really wonderful of you to get that money away from me-and-oh, anyway I can’t thank you any better than I did a couple of letters ago. Graham’s letter-I had to laugh at him being disgusted about the delayed departure-there is no doubt about his forms of expression-I always find them using-so sophisticated and small adult like somehow-I always smile. Tell him I am very glad he has apparently done so well in his music theory exam, and that it shows that if and when he takes interest in other subjects he could do just as well. I was delighted to hear that he finally has got sick of being pushed around. There is no doubt that a bit of retaliation works wonders in procuring a subsequent peaceful life. Tell him to keep up the good work and I give him three hearty cheers. Of course with S.A.O.Hs.

I picked up my suit this afternoon, I had the trousers shortened about an inch. Saw McNulty for a few minutes and he told me that the Queen had been in Harrods too, yesterday, shopping for her youngster Charles, who turned eight last week, or the week before. So you see I mix in the right circles.

This love letter ink-and there has been quite a bit of love flowed as pen-is none other than Black Quink, which I have carried half way round the world with me. I am sorry, in a way, that very shortly I will not be able to write you anymore. I have enjoyed my spasms. Of course, I could write you some from the studio, can you imagine that, when all I have to do is chase you round the house, to lose myself in warm and ardent reality. Can’t see any likelihood of it-can you?

Of course, Guy [Doleman] would give anyone the pip. I hope to God we don’t hear anything from them on Sunday. Anyway I am determined to be too tired for such unrequested agony.

On re-reading your letter-I think maybe it would be advisable to have some curry and claret on Monday night. After chicken and bubbly on Sunday. Better get me some stout and oysters too-you know I’ll be needing great reserves of strength. On Tuesday night you’d better book us all some seats at a theatre to which we can go after dinner in town? What say to that, lover girl? Better make a lot of curry so we can have it again on Wednesday, and Thursday, ad infinitum.

Won’t be long now, sister!

Did what you suggested and had a reasonably decent meal tonight, nothing much really-but might sport myself a blowout over the weekend.

I think I’ll go to bed now and imagine what it’s like the side you. Dear lovable girl.

Sat morning [24 Nov 56]

Nothing much to add to this inconsequential note-except to say that I wake up fresh and stronger than when I turn in, and am still delighted to find I love you-and can’t wait to get home.

I have been staggering down to Selfridge’s to weigh my stuff on the scales there. I am now completely finished-I daren’t add another thing. I might as well get home with a few of my things-if I post my old suit and a few other odds and ends-I won’t get them for a couple of months. I don’t see any point in buying much else just for buying sake-in any case buying things you-is to some extent buying in the dark. I love you though.

I do-I do-I do!

Must rush off and post some books and get a ticket to Zürich.

Love love love
from your old
ratbag Bill

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 22 Nov; London – preparing to leave for home

Thu 22-Nov-56: Bought suit at Harrods. Went out to see John St John in evening.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0138

Read this first. It is first in the sequence of 2.

London
22 November 1956

Dearest,

I am writing this in a little bar I may have mentioned I found behind the rooms I live in. It, this bar, is the pleasantest place I have been in because I have had some Guinness this afternoon-and I have had them because of your kindness and (not to really play the thing to death) love. This relaxation would not have been on unless I had found a barmaid to talk to for a little while when I was in Fleet Street. Whatever is-is, and I am here in the midst of a truly English pub with a wonderful black whale of a woman whose superb skin moves with the greatest mobility on, and over the long, half existing (longitudinally) fang of a front tooth. She has a lush and full mooned mouth and would have been a good sort 20 years, and 10 stone ago. But she has the Cockney humour-and has put her golden black sequin dress on for the customers tonight. She waddles like an enormous Rabelaisian dark and is full of the guts that the English are endowed with. She complains about the miseries, and rationing is, and the ineptitude of the British approach to the Suez. She has had the pub blown down over her ears and is still here-and is prepared to take more.

These English are a queer mixture of reticence and violence or not violence rather-resistance and always the courage of resistance. There are quiet, docile and un-movable. I at least prefer their sort of queerness to that of the terrible goofs of USA paratroopers who walked loud mouthed through the White Tower in the Tower of London and shattered everything with their uncouth and insensitive remarks. I will yet meet an Australian who would have been so corny. What started this black whale off on her tirade of what the English can take was an American from a posh (really not posh) pub over the way. He said God, what’s wrong with the English? I’m freezing to death over yonder pub? So on and so on. The black behemoth says-“you send us the oil, and we’ll heat you buggers”. However-this is all part of talking to you sweetheart and I find I need it.

This burst of expression is wholly and totally new and I love you for it. I really didn’t tell you about the sequins that cascaded down the ample hills of her body. They came like a waterfall from the neck to the naval and then disappeared in the abyss. Nor did I tell you about the slice of Melton Mowbray pie which is good cold and which you will find in Cassell’s cookery book.

Thursday,

22 Nov 56 London

Dorothy Darling,

It is an extremely cold, and damn near freezing night, and although I have put the radiator on I couldn’t resist the temptation to sit clad in your beautiful dressing gown. I know you don’t mind me wearing it, because to me it is a symbol of your warmth-your arms tightly enfolding the shivering remnants of your lamented, but not yet late, husband. If you turn out to be as warm as this old Jaeger model, you’ll be doing well, but if you are not more animated, I may as well languish to death in the gelid English world, and make and bequeath all my unsupported goods to you as a memorial to an unrequited love. Further than saying, I like this here dressing gown, and that it weighs too much, this subject is dismissed until the evening of the 2nd day of December 1956.

This is all very wonderful, writing to you, saying what I like, without fear of an answering letter, or the impossible, inconceivable, delayed and oral reply. I can say I love you, or go and jump in the lake, and it will not make the slightest difference, because, when you see me you will forget what you wanted to say, and there will be nothing left to you to do that kiss me, and beam your beamest smile. I have seriously thought of wearing the dressing gown board the plane, and posting my overcoat back home-but somehow I don’t think I can carry it off with the necessary aplomb.

I love you. Write in the flaming heart and with arrows, daggers, swords, and axis, inextricably mingled like this

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0143

Now if that doesn’t convince you that I am fond of you. Nothing will!

I have just about finished all my chores in London. Two things left to do-apart from weighing and packing up (in the last gallop to the galleries). Went down to Harrods and found that, although it is supposed to be the best shop in London, their prices were more than comparable with the others and the fit as good as one could wish for. I do hope you like my suit. Pretty conservative, like everything that I have bought, when in my right senses.

I wouldn’t be surprised that I could go on quite a while writing to you, just being with you, even if it all looks a bit wishy-washy when read back a week later. Underneath the extended extravagance there is an urgency for your presence. A positive, and fundamental need that no amount of talking to others can satisfy. I have been out to see a character, a writer named John St John, whom I met in Romania. There’s nothing much to report in that direction, except that I gave me a break from this room for 2 ½ hours. Also, today I bought for Stefanie Rotaru, the little Romanian girl, a copy of my book at home, called “The Loom of Language” and also a primer of Pitman’s Shorthand. These were just a small thankful remembrance of her care of me. I thought I may as well post them from here as from Australia.

I am looking forward to that sun, and to seeing new walking, or nearly running, so purposefully in front of me. Just like I used to secretly admire you when you ran down to the pool at Dee Why with Hans and Graham, and when you insisted on walking up to the top of Palm Beach with Graham and I late one evening. And again when you were so far ahead of me-you and Graham and the girl from West Australia-in the drizzle down at Kiama. Do you remember too, one night at East Beach, when something went wrong, and we stamped madly up and down the beach, and you left your footprints in the sand and I was left alone and the ways washed them from all traces and yet could not eradicate them from my memory. Somewhere in all the turmoil, self-hypnosis, or perhaps, the seed of love, dug into my existence, and I must sit up and try to write you out, or into, my being. The ring around the moon, the curved shoe of liquid sand, your disappearing figure in the night, all combining into one recollected affection-even if it were misplaced at the time. And you knew that too, because you wanted me to keep my scrawled reactions to our angry parting. All this is part now of our collective body. So many of your remembrances are mine too, and mine yours. I say now during these weeks away many of the things I would have left unsaid at home. Perhaps, because I was never lonely enough to expose myself sentimentally-now it doesn’t matter because you have to read them whether you like it or not. And I have to say them either to myself, or to you, if you wish to listen. Had I spoken them to you, who knows, a word here or there may have broken the thread on which these dreams are hung. Strangely, all my thoughts are centred on our relations between sand and sea. It is remote of course, which is the answer. The night too, at Palm Beach when I laboriously carried up 2 nips of whiskey which were promptly kicked into the thirsty sand, as if it hadn’t more liquid than enough when my parched mind & gut were seeking it.

And the day Graham and I had waited for your plane to land at Tamworth-when Graham was as thrilled as I, to see you, at last walking like a solid little statue towards an unforeseeable future. I think you had on that tartan sort of costume-that I wouldn’t be sure of-but you were there-and ours was a curious, sinful delight. I hope you feel something of that when I come towards you both on Sunday. I shall come with more understanding than when I left. Let me hope to keep it-for you.

Your Bill

Post to Twitter

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 22 Nov; London – a letter for Graham

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0160

London
Thurs 22 Nov 56

Dear Graham,

I should have written you a private letter all to yourself a long time ago. But I have been rushing around so much, and getting too tired to repeat what I said in letters to Dorothy which I knew, anyway, that you would hear all about. However, I think before I leave Europe, you should have one, just for yourself to open and read out to Dorothy, as she has been reading hers to you. I understand you are growing to be very self reliant now that old pa wep is not around to do the odds and ends for you. That is very good-and I now address you alone, as a grown-up looker-after-of, both Dorothy and Trelawney of Norty North. Incidentally, I was looking at the map of London yesterday and I noticed there is a Northwood here too, although it is really north-west of the city. I shall show it to you when I come home.

I have just come home after buying some things in the city. As I came up Oxford Street I thought, well now, how can I describe this to Graham? It’s about as wide as Macquarie St and I would say stretches from as far as Circular Quay to the railway like Pitt St. But busy like Pitt is one between Market and King St, all the way. Hundreds of red double deckers going up and down thousands Greater London’s 9 million people doing their shopping. It is hard to imagine that in this city alone, there are as many people as there are in the whole of Australia. Makes you pull your big fat head in-doesn’t it? I have taken about 200 or more photographs and hope they will turn out well enough for me to show, and tell you, what different countries are like. I haven’t forgotten you, although I have not written you separately. I managed to get you some bad things, which I hope you will like. I really don’t know how I am going to pack everything into the 66 lbs luggage I am allowed free on the plane. I hope very much to see the three of you at Mascot next Sunday morning. So please be careful on your bike till I get home. You had better give old (and she must be looking pretty old and savage now) Trellie a couple of vulgar tickles, one for me, and one for you-the boss boy!

SAOH’s to you

from your fond Dad XXX

Post to Twitter