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-two wards 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.

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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!

XXXXXX SAOH for all!

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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.

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, 19 Nov; London, catching up with an old friend

Mon 19-Nov-56: Picasso exhibition. Met with McNulty & Ronnie – went to cocktail party at Kensington. Bought [air] gun for Graham & coat for Dorothy.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0125

Monday 19 Nov 56

Dear wonderful girl,

There is nothing worse than a wife who can’t handle a situation in front of a stranger-if there is, it is a husband. It seems to be my fate to always accompany someone who was about to be in the gun in any case. But why, (when the excuse is that you haven’t seen a friend for six years) you can’t get a little out of schedule is beyond me. Not that I caused it. It happened before I arrived on the scene. I would say it happened two days ago when McNulty [Head of Consolidated Press’s London Bureau] arrived back from New York. But why sour off on the innocent accomplice? Even I never did that (within limits!) If I ever bring someone home, dear sweet girl, please remain your charming self. This is the first night I have been slightly thinged since I have been in London. And I am enjoying telling you about.

But suddenly everything collapses about my ears, and there is little to write about and nothing at all to tell, with the love, and the deepest affection that I have for you-and you, really only. I love you. And sometimes I think there is something wrong with me, that I don’t get any real thing for another woman. Yet, when, I first met you I had a desire. Could it be that my being, knew better than my head? I have never experienced the same thing since. I don’t forget that I went back to the Journalists Club and told King Watson that I had met a nice girl and that I had kissed her good night even if she had sat on my hat. And I don’t forget that I wrote in the back of my cheque-book that Dorothy Lees (21 Beresford Road Strathfield XM 8822) was to be taken out for a meal and affection. And what is more I don’t forget that I asked you as we reached the top of Greenwich Road in the old Pontiac why a nice girl like you had not been married-and you had no real answer. And I didn’t know either. And later when you said to me one wonderful morning-I can remember you sitting, where you sit now, at the breakfast table, and it was Sunday morning and light and as crisp as a chip. And you said to me “don’t you go getting shy on me, Bill Pidgeon”. And to tell the truth I was so shy I could hardly look at you but you seemed somehow quite happy, which I couldn’t understand-yet knowing, very implicitly, that you were as innocent as I, about what we had done and sealed, without completely knowing it, in our hearts. Why did you so suddenly give yourself to me? I didn’t expect it! Did you know that by doing so you had marked me down for yours? Because you did. I knew was well as you, that your,-not generosity, not magnanimity, not anything but a certain psyche that you had, would come true-and that you gambled upon it and in its way, it has worked. I don’t mean gambled-I am sure that you knew then that I needed you, rather than any other type of dame. And I know that you still think that. And I assure you it is truer than you ever imagined. The trouble with me when I am a bit buoyant is that I can’t write fast enough, to say the things that should be said, with grace they deserve. Strange, but one of my life’s most vivid recollections, is that Sunday morning with your “don’t you get shy on me!” You looked (although I know now I was wrong) so sure of yourself I thought for a moment what a woman of the world, and yet I knew that was false because you gave yourself to me in an innocent way. And that was fatal-for me. Perhaps for you too. Although what I had to offer you at that time seemed less than nil. A comparison on a dead love-a half grown child-and a surly, egoistic, lazy, sensualist. Yet one who responded to the feeling of your heart, as strongly as Graham did. You know, my darling, from all this distance I can appreciate your love and stupid faith, which at times can be unsaid, but still remains, as mine does, for you. You know I loved Jess-and you also know that there is nothing to be done about that, and that my heart is yours now-even if it is quieter and not as gay as it could be for a honeymoon couple like ourselves. Every day I go two miles out of my way to collect a letter from you. Every day I get one-and my heart is warmed and my love for you become stronger. I love you very much indeed-dear sweetest Dorothy girl wife.

I don’t care if this is all thing on paper. I am in the mood to be extra urgent and tell you that you are the most necessary focus for 85 Northwood Road. What would Graham and I do without our crumby old sheet anchor? Can you tell me, or even see, one who could take your place? Your wonderful girl body under the shower with 1 foot slightly raised and the face towel down near your moustache, and the water glistening down your 34” bust and 35 ½” hips? Not to say anything of the 13 ¼” neck with a small kissable mole on the left-hand side nearest the oven, when you are unfortunately forced to be perpetually washing up. Or the flat little feet all covered (or rather soled) with planters? Did you ever see your wonderfully formed behind shake a cup? No! But I did. And can still! I am in the mood to forgive you almost anything until I get home. Then your last-minute rushes will provoke me to rolling you on the floor (i.e. in embrace not anger). One other thing I want to tell you, before I fold up is that you always look wonderful when you walk up the path towards the front door. That is, when we are waiting to you. Before we were married you looked grand and gay, and after two years, you still look grand and gay to me. I hope soon you will look grander-if not gayer, or more expectant. That is the key word expectant. You have such implicit trust-it is all wrong-and yet, who wouldn’t envy that look? – Oh Darling – dear girl.

That was a breathless bit-wasn’t it? Almost all of it without one cigarette. All because I got 4 letters from you this morning and I have been out with Clarrie McNulty to a cocktail party at a well (or fairly well) heeled gent’s place. He had two beaut Buddha heads, for which he paid only £3 each 25 years ago. And a magnificent Chinese Sing horse and all sorts of other things. I love you for sending me a daily note. The only thing against it is the fact that I am too lousy to go away for the day for fear of missing it. I have been thinking it over and I would be much happier if you all could meet me at Mascot. I didn’t mean to be discouraging about it. I get mixed up when I’m tired and can’t get a proper thing on what should be done. I would really love it. You could ring Mascot or Qantas to find out how the schedule is going. I definitely expect the three of you at Mascot even if you have to take a picnic lunch and a grilled knuckle for the chopped down ankle dog.

I flatly refuse to go to bed. I am not fat, and on the looks of things and not likely to be any more cuddlesome when I arrived in Sydney. However I hope you will accept me in spirit, if not in flesh. I can tell you now that the dressing gown is off. Much as I love your suggestion-I can’t see how I can do anything about it. I am so glad you liked, and received, the mad black cat. I don’t know whether I told you it was baked enamel from some bloody place or other in France.

Really, sweetheart, I don’t feel like writing any more about the aspects of the western world. Whether it is in Gothic or Classic, or this side up, or Antipodean, I have got to the stage where I couldn’t care less. I have seen all I want to see of London (apart from the Tower). From now on I will stick to the three galleries and have done with it.

I loved very much your lipstick. It is such a pity that I can’t request anymore because you cannot answer this letter.

I could see the imprint of the fabric of your lips. A little open and very kissable-I tried to get it-but all I tasted was writing ink. I do wish you could use a unguent that was expensive and lasting. I would have slept with it.

It never dawned on me in our haste on that memorable Saturday (although I didn’t forget anything-and as a matter of fact, took too much) to take a well soaked handkerchief of yours. Just like a knight of old-off to the jousting. I would have worn it as a cockade. I am getting to look more and more like a colonial as my clothes get tireder and tireder.

I love you and this is, in some way, a means of being close to you. I wish I could write you with the fluency you write me. I have so much more to say but somehow it gets left unsaid. In the near summer nights when we are both together and alone I shall wander off into a dream sequence, out of which you will get something of what I felt and saw in these long two months of Europe. I probably won’t recollect what I have seen consciously, but in your arms, images may come back and against your love, and your warmth, the realities may come to life in a dream tale for you. I’d like to be semiconscious letting a flow of visions, people and ideas, flows smoothly over your warmth, and your sweet and tiny breasts.

I have folded up stop I love you, I love you, I love you! Much binding about the marsh to you from an absent admirer-your husband-Mr W. E. PIDGEON.

[Paragraph inked out]

P. S. Don’t waste your time trying to read through that-it’s impossible-it wasn’t anything crude or nasty-I somehow just lost the grip on my affection and the words were forced came from the head and not from the heart. I can’t see much possibility of me writing you another such letter before I get home. I should be there about a week after you get this note. You had not mention that I said anything about being delayed. I suppose that is in order-for what I can gather you had only received one letter from am sure I mentioned it later but in any case I will be home on Dec 2 at 7 a.m. Mascot.

By way of being repetitious-I love you-and still love you,

Yours singularly,

Your husband.

A pretty letter-many things said twice-bed as I meant them, I hope you accept them.

XXXX Bill.

P. S. You can’t answer this letter. Save your thing up.

[Additional page]

You wonderful, wonderful girl!!

What are you trying to do? Make me die of love for you? If you were here I kiss you right in the middle of Fleet Street. Might utterly adorable little woman. I love you even more than I did last night. I’m pining away fee you.

Must say though, I beat it down to Fleet Street to get that cable, in fear and trepidation. Almost had the flaming shakes all that money-so unexpected-I don’t need that sort of money. Can’t very well not get a dressing down now, can I?

My sweet, Darling, most loving, scrumptious, inestimable, fantastic, kissable, /-able, dearest, most unbelievable, adoring, delirious, unpredictable, delicious, and utterly unique, darling girl wife-I love you.

I have half a mind to seal this avowal with my life’s blood.

Your abjectly devoted husband.

Willie

I can’t get home quick enough!!

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, Nov 18; London, A visit to Hampton Court Palace

1956 Cultural Exchange_0129

Dear Graham,

This is not very far out of London, and is built alongside the Thames River. I saw a lot of white swans in the river near here. The palace, which is not lived in by the Queen now, once was the residence of Henry VIII and of Kings and Queens up till George II. It is hardly the sort of place I’d like to live in. There are nearly 1,000 rooms altogether. Of course there is a lot more of it than you can see in this photo. This is only one of the gates.

Give old Trellie another tickle for me & plenty of SAOH’s for you,

Love Dad

wep

1956 Cultural Exchange_0130

 

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, 17-18 Nov; London, Cockneys and Kings

Sat 17-Nov-56:  Went Portobello Market with Rex & Thea Reinits. Later looked unsuccessfully for Arthur Horner. Went to Victoria & Albert Museum, early night.

Sun 18-Nov-56: Went to Petticoat Lane in morning & to Hampton Court Palace in afternoon. Early night.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0120

Sat 17 Nov 56

London

My darling small one,

I got a nice warm letter from you this morning while I was in my jolly mood. You very wisely told me to pull my head in-a fine and dandy precept which I hope to adhere to, if possible. For my head hangs out a heck of a long way in the evening-when I’m usually just about “thinged” so perhaps I shall go to bed earlier and get my letter writing done before the birds get up. It’s only a quarter to seven now and it’s been dark for hours not that there has been any light to speak of all flaming day. At 10 a.m. all the fantastic neon advertisements in Piccadilly Circus were going full blast. I went from there down to get your letter and travel by tube up to Notting Hill Gate station where I met the Reinits and we groped our way down to Portobello Road. At noon all the stalls in the streets had lamps and electricity lights going in some small endeavour to brighten up the filmy fog which darkly leaks into every nook and cranny of the town. If the city had been flooded to a depth of 50 feet of dirty soapy water, one could see through it all is well, and would find this fog scarcely less palpable to the touch. Beer is a fascinating diversity of stuff for sale, in the shops lining the road, and on the barrows which are to be found all along the footpaths. There are a great number of fruit barrows, flower stalls and a few cloth offerings. But what everybody seems to go down to pick over is the antique stalls.

Rex (hidden) and Thea Reinits at Portobello Market, Potobello Ro

Rex (hidden) and Thea Reinits at Portobello Market, Potobello Road, London; 17 Nov 1956

Rex and Thea Reinits at Portobello Market, Potobello Road, Londo

Rex and Thea Reinits at Portobello Market, Potobello Road, London; 17 Nov 1956

9 p.m. Have been up to Lyons to have two cups of tea and a walk in the fresh (sic) air.

Old English and Bohemian glassware, Georgian solid silver, all kinds of brass and copper ware, rings, medallions, cameos, necklaces, lockets, gramophone records, revolvers, turkey sandwiches and Nescafe, in different Indian brasses, punch ladles, carriage lamps, old prints and pictures-fine stuff the dealers know the value of-and real junk, all flowing out of a seemingly endless cornucopia-where it all comes from-God only knows. Saw a fine set of brass poker, tongs and shovel for only 35/-. Rex Reinits snooping round for old English glasses, which he makes a thing of buying. All the activity taking place behind unreal filmy gauze of missed-a pale grey photograph pierced with holes of electric light. Fifty yards away the silhouetted moving shadows. Strange, as I recollect it, sound has disappeared-perhaps there wasn’t any-swallowed up by the fog. All very odd and engaging for a while-tending to become wearing as it continues. From there I caught a bus to Kensington and looked up an address Hotty [Lahm] had given me of an old artist cobber of the boys. Hotty’s book is sadly out of date-the Arthur Horners had been gone the last two years-as Roley’s [Pullen] address in Hotty’s collection was about 4 years old. However, I walked from there to the Victoria and Albert Museum-which has the most superb collection of fine and applied art. As usual, the quantity of exhibits is too great for short-term inspection. These items are all specialists pieces gathered and looted, from all over the world. Beautiful alters, religious carvings-church ornamentation, stained glass, wonderful furniture-the opulence of some of the exhibits is breathtaking. In the Chinese section was a Kuan-yin [Guanyin] very much like that housed in the Melbourne Gallery [National Gallery of Victoria (NGV)] but not so well displayed in the same attitude of Royal ease. A very beautiful and serene work. Many of the Gothic things had too, something of this serenity. A great deal of it spoilt by bloody noisy people and young louts. Weekend gallery sightseeing is not to be recommended for the tired and edgy.

This city is vast beyond our Australian conception. The shops and streets are never ending-you can go round and round in circles and still be always amazed at the new things you have missed. Their galleries are the same-corridors and halls without number. You seem to go on endlessly seeing something fresh. I walked from here across Oxford Street through Mayfair i.e. Grosvenor Square, where the American Embassy is surrounded by dignified 18th century houses-on the way to Berkeley Square was vastly intrigued by the sight of a bell topered commissionaire in ankle length fawn double-breasted 18th-century coat, stolidly sweeping the beastly dirt away from the front steps of the Connaught Hotel. What a place this is for traditional uniforms!

“Good night, sweet Prince and Princess, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”.

London; 17 November 1956

Unconfirmed location, London; 17 Nov 1956

Portobello Road

Portobello Road [Incorrectly identified as Portobello Road, yet to be confirmed]

London; 17 November 1956

Unidentified location, London; 17 Nov 1956

 

Sunday 7 p.m. [18 Nov 1956]

Believed to be Petticoat Lane Market, London; 18 November 1956

Believed to be Petticoat Lane Market, London; 18 Nov 1956

Am settled down again for the night, to a well regulated evening of sinful cigarette smoking, letter writing, and waiting for tomorrow. Today was almost a repetition of yesterday’s behaviour pattern. Got myself down to Petticoat Lane, which is not very far from the Bank of England. The financial centre leads directly into the pretty squalid area of Aldgate-(you could compare it a bit with Newtown). This Petticoat Lane may be quite world-famous-mostly I should imagine, because of the wonderful cockney spiel that accompanies all the ardent sales advances that assaults you from every direction. I found it lacking the charm and line of the Portobello Road market. Everything in this area this morning seemed unspeakably tawdry and commonplace. I doubt whether there really was anything worthwhile on display all the dozens upon dozens of stalls. That years, if you except the “jellied eel and winkles,” emporiums of canvas and wood. And the shocking shyster who was selling a three card trick at 2/6 the packet. But such was his act-he had the crowd with him one dumbfounded and slightly aggressive type in the crowd kept questioning him and demanding to know what had happened to the King in the cards he’d bought. One more mix with the cards and the King appears again. It’d take too long to detail this-it’s not very interesting anyway-what was amusing though was that when I passed them again about an hour later-the same turn was being put on between these two. The bunny part of the act of salesmanship I suppose he was. And this circuitous way many of these Jew cockneys organise a sort of competitive sale for the most awful collection of junk. It was quite beyond me but apparently most popular with the sightseeing mob. Thousands clutter up the two or three streets which really comprise this area and you literally can’t move at times. It’s the machine gun like patter-bawdy-course (bloody this, bloody that) and at times really funny-that, I think is what stacks them in. You have some idea of how these boys can talk, when you conceive a community of stall holders, every second one of whom is like (only bawdy) [Joe (Joseph Sandow)] the gadget man from Nock and Kirbys.

After a crumby lunch (one can’t afford at this stage in the game a decent meal), I took myself off on a long series of 3 buses, way out along the Thames to Hampton Court Palace, which was originally built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and later taken over by Henry the Eighth in 1529.

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Henry VIII greeting visitors at Hampton Court Palace; 28 Feb 2013

The old wretch had here as Queens, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr. (Pardon me if I seem to be having considerable penned trouble.) Later the Tudor half of this Palace was added to by a whacking great design by Sir Christopher Wren to the order of William and Mary. This was in 1688. This section does not follow the Tudor pattern and is more classical in-line. This part houses the State Apartments which are now open for inspection. No royalty has lived there since 1760 when George II died. The London transport handbook quotes it as “England’s most beautiful and most interesting Royal Palace”. And I believe that may well be. Each section has its own particular grace and the two are harmonised by the use of warm and homely red brickwork will stop it looked very lovely with the blue net of fog softening the contrasts and giving a slight touch of unreality to the whole. Surrounded by beautiful gardens-French and Italian sunken pools-the bare trees disappearing in rows into the final all-embracing curtain of mist. A few great black trunks, still with gold and russet leaves, punctuated artistically with sombre cypresses, and a few avenues of dark and weighty evergreens. Birds too, which seemed to be a change. It was an interesting run out there. Contrasting completely with the mornings crushing monotony of industrial habitations. After leaving a place named Roehampton, which is like a village on the end of the string from London, one goes through the edge of a natural parkland through an area of well-to-do large homes with beautiful gardens-like Pacific Highway, Gordon, Killara, etc. Only more park like.

All of which is very dully told-has effervescent as is room I sit in. If I could find someone to join me I’d get half sprung and talk to you with abandonment and roguery. You will just have to put up with my abiding but unspectacular passion for the next week-and even perhaps until I get home and lift the lid right off the pot. Don’t tell me now that old the arriving at the wrong time. I won’t have it-or will I? Anyway, lots of sweet thoughts, and very very real love for you, my darling darling girl. Another bloody fortnight to go. Although I won’t notice it after Monday when I shall be on the move. I love you Dorothy.

Really yours,

Bill.

Holy Trinity Church of England, Roehampton; 18 November 1956

Holy Trinity Church of England, Roehampton; 18 Nov 1956

Hampton Court Palace; 18 Nov 1956

Hampton Court Palace; 18 Nov 1956

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Hampton Court Palace; 28 Feb 2013

Hampton Court Palace; 18 Nov 1956

Hampton Court Palace; 18 Nov 1956

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Hampton Court Palace; 28 Feb 2013

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, Nov 12; London, Changing of the Guard at Whitehall

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Dear Graham,

These are the characters I wrote about. They look wonderful in their red clothes, shiny metal breast plates, plumes on the helmets & sheep skins on the saddles. I wish you could see them – and the thousands of tame pigeons in Trafalgar Square.

Love from Dad

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, 11 Nov; Travelling around London by red double-decker bus

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Dear Graham,

This London is unbelievably huge. And to walk round it is more than I am capable of. So I often ride around in the bright red double-deckers, which are built the same as ours. But in London there are thousands of them going everywhere all at the same time. There are no trams here and the traffic gets around a lot better. I am looking forward to seeing you very soon.

Love xx Dad xx

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, 30 Oct; Paris, Chartres Cathedral

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Dear Graham,

This cathedral is the most beautiful building I have seen. It is set in the small town of Chartres about 40 miles west of Paris. This church was built about 600 or 700 years ago.

I hope Trellie is getting big enough to go out for walks with you. There must be a lot of Lane Cove for you to show her. The more she knows the less likelihood there is of her getting lost. I hope you are looking after Dorothy all right too. How’s the bike going? I am looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Lots of love from Dad in Paris.

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure, 25 Oct; Paris and the Eiffel Tower

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Dear Graham,

This is the Eiffel Tower with the Seine River behind and in the background is part of the Paris city – an enormous place with over 3,000,000 people living in it. I have not been up the Eiffel Tower yet but hope to and from there see all of Paris. You read about it in Colliers Encyclopedia. As many hugs and kisses for you as there are people in Paris.

Yours

Dad

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