Thu 22-Nov-56: Bought suit at Harrods. Went out to see John St John in evening.
Read this first. It is first in the sequence of 2.
22 November 1956
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.
22 Nov 56 London
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
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.