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