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

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

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

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 20-21 Nov; Tower of London and Oxford

Tue 20-Nov-56: Dorothy cabled money to me. Went to Tower of London & Victoria & Albert Museum
Wed 21-Nov-56: Caught 8am coach to Oxford – returned at 5:45pm.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0134

Tues 20th Nov
1956. London

Wonderful and completely adorable wife!

All day I’ve been thinking about what a treasure I have got myself. You are a sweet thing and the more I contemplate your virtues the itchier I become, and the more impatient to grab you. This waiting is becoming really unbearable and I feel so dammed helpless about handling it. I suppose the obvious thing is to get myself so busy as to find little time for mooning around-it is the long dreary nights that are the killers here. Won’t be long enough, back home.

After I got your surprise packet (I only drew £25 of it) I staggered off down the hill to have a look at the Tower of London. It is a very sombre place and depressed me no end-what with the horrible thick black stone walls and slit windows. In various chambers, names have been chiselled and decorated deeply into the walls by prisoners of four and five hundred years ago. God knows how many came out. In the chapel, underneath the alter, there are buried alone three Queens and two Dukes all beheaded. And the chopping block and the axe. Look I can’t bring myself to writing about it. Most destructive to the spirit. Quite horrible, and seemingly emphasised the cold and greyly dismal weather. You would have hated it-with your sensitivity to outside influences. Never mind, I’m sure you can feel my love for you making its way round the world to be by your side.

I caught an underground from there and went to South Kensington where the Victoria and Albert Museum is situated. After looking at that Chinese Kuan-yin figure I spoke of before, I felt much better and more relaxed. Also saw a lovely Constable of Salisbury Cathedral and some very good Reynolds, and a beautiful double portrait of Gainsborough’s two daughters.

Don’t feel much like writing-apart from repeating endearing phrases to you stop so I think I’ll climb into bed and read for a while. If I get up early enough I might take a trip up to Oxford. It’s only 8/-return-and a two hour trip each way.

St Nicholas Cole Abbey, bomb damaged, viewed from St Paul’s Churchyard and Cannon Street,, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
Passing through Middle drawbridge adjacent to Traitor’s Gate, , The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956
The Tower of London, London; 20 November 1956

Well I’m up early. 5:45 a.m. [21 Nov 1956] dawdled around and washed my shirt. And just about to take off for the Green Coach Station where I get a bus for Oxford. I am sending this small letter now, just to keep you reminded of me and your heart nice and warm. This wouldn’t get the mail if I send it from Oxford. Tomorrow I’ll make more efforts about a suit and dressing gown. Indeed, you are right, I shall have to look my scraggy best-even if I have the gown on, only from the doorway to the cot stop

Graham seems to be growing up judging by the way he is writing his letters. They are more mature even if written in quite obvious scrawling haste. Give him a big squeeze from me. And ask him to start giving Trellie the drill about the old prodigal grandfather who will soon be back in the fold. Don’t forget the fatted calf for Sunday night December 2 and the bubbly!

Lots of love again I very dearest wife,

from your possessed husband

Bill XXXX

Wed night

21 Nov 56

My most extraordinarily complete and most lovable wife,

As you see, I didn’t get that letter off, as I just couldn’t find a post office to get stamps at 8 a.m.

I am now settled again on my 4th floor roost happily digesting an infinitesimal sliver of rump steak, contemplating both the ardours and delights of corresponding with you, and being warm for the first time today.

This London-or European weather-is everything they say it is-even now. When it really becomes winter it must give one the holy horrors. Dark at 3:30 p.m. they tell me. Can you imagine it? Grouping your way through the ever present fog through which, on a good day, a pale symbol for a sun bleakly appears perhaps the 3 or 4 minutes of the day. At that, it is exactly like, and as frigid as, the moon.

Got up to Oxford about 10:30 a.m., an hour of this travelling time being taken up nearly getting out of London. There seems to be an endless succession of practically identical row upon row of Victorian terraces, quite unlike the Sydney type, but just as monotonous after the first earnest interest. Then into the countryside, which is completely parklike, and fully inhabited. One seems never to get out of the sight of houses. The route I chose going up was rather dreary-but the alternative route back was very charming and I would say, typically English in its aspect. Beautiful rolling slopes, hedgerows-windbreaks in banked lines running over the ridges of the hills-alongside the road all trees, leaves of gold and red just covering the ground beneath them. Of course, at this time of the year it’s a bit dismal-fog-and scarcely a leaf left on any of the branches. The limbs, black and twigs lace like against the sky.

Was interested in Oxford but found it depressing. All those old dark buildings, some of which look as if they are actually liquefying before your eyes. Stone crumbling away, features on statues disappeared, all scraped off by the hungry maw of time. Perhaps the leafless trees, dank looking stone, moss, and grey bitter cold, takes the edge off any enthusiasm one may have for it. To say nothing of the seeming futility of seeing it alone. In any case, I have definitely had buildings now, and do not intend to walk one block even to see another. I guess I’ll tell you more about these places later-at the moment no amount of flogging can arouse any desire to expand on their qualities or otherwise, as I see them. In retrospect I shall properly find them all so much the more gracious, than I do at the moment.

Looking east towards the Covered Market in Market Street, Oxford; 21 November 1956
Looking west along Broad Street at Balliol College, Oxford; 21 November 1956
Oxford; 21 November 1956
Oxford; 21 November 1956
High Street, Oxford, looking towards the Magdalen Chapel; 21 November 1956
High Street, Oxford, looking towards The Plain; 21 November 1956
Oxford; 21 November 1956
Carfax Tower, Oxford; 21 November 1956

I can truly say that I await with impatience this hour on today week. For, as it is now 9:30 p.m., I will then be sitting in the Zürich airport waiting to board the plane which is due to arrive fair at 9:40 p.m. you must forgive me, sweetie, if my letters become more and more perfunctorily written because the first wild exploratory excitement has gone-and I can’t be bothered, or for that matter, get, in his stimulus from drearily drinking beer alone. So with these sad words I say farewell (until tomorrow) to my dearest girl and companion.

Thursday [22 November 1956]. Another day, and too cold from me to hold the pen properly. Am going down to Harrods to see if I can do any good for myself.

And starting to panic a bit about my luggage weight-nearby I’ll try to find some weighing machine so that I can get an idea of what I shall have to send back by ship. I am already unloading my books by post-pamphlets, maps and scraps of odds and ends too. Haven’t really got much time left to organise postage and wrapping. Loads and loads of love my dear-very dearest, wife

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: 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 Road, London; 17 Nov 1956
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”.

Unconfirmed location, London; 17 Nov 1956
Portobello Road
Portobello Road [Incorrectly identified as Portobello Road, yet to be confirmed]
Unidentified location, London; 17 Nov 1956 – After Portobello Rd, Wep headed to visit his old artist friend Arthur Horner who had moved threre in 1947 and had married Victoria (a fellow Aussie) in 1948. He had an old address in Kensington for them. but they were no longer there. In 1954, Arthur and Victoria lived at 2 Straford Avenue (Rd) Kensington according to the London, England Eloctoral Registers 1832-1965 on Ancestry.com. The garage shot looks like it could be taken outside 10 Jay Mews where a Pawson and Collins Ltd garage was located in a 1939 Kensington directory

 

Sunday 7 p.m. [18 Nov 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 Nov 1956
Hampton Court Palace; 18 Nov 1956
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Hampton Court Palace; 28 Feb 2013
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 18; London – 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

 

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 15-17 Nov; London – shopping for a suit and coat

Thu 15-Nov-56: 2nd wedding anniversary, received cake from Dorothy. Had a look at Lincoln’s Inn. Tried on a suit & walked around shops in afternoon. Went dinner with Rex Reinits Chelsea
Fri 16-Nov-56:    Went shopping, failed to get coat for Dorothy. Went to Museum in afternoon for hour.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0115

Debenham Court [Possibly now the Radisson Blue Edwardian Sussex Hotel]
Granville St [Granville Place]
London
15 Nov 56

Dear sweet two-year-old wife,

Am sorry to report a fairly unrewarding day in so far as finding a suit for myself is concerned. I’ve been to Simpsons, whose stock is shockingly meager in 2 piece suits (mostly 3 piece) and that applies to all the shops-but I’m hanged if I’m going to buy a waistcoat two. Most of the suits a single breasters-and pretty well all the fabrics in different-or to light-or too loud. I only tried one suit on at Simpsons. A nice dark, but a bit loud on the stripe. Also the collar was cut down to low. God knows my neck’s long enough without isolating it. Austin Reeds had nothing I could see. Aquascutum’s apparently had the stuff but nothing under 27 to 33 gns which is on 33 to 40 gns. I reckon I could get a first-class job made for that in Sydney-and not be buying just because I have only a little time left. I find it difficult to make any decision. Go back to Simpsons early next week. I have had dinner out with the Rex Reinits and thoroughly enjoyed it. They have a flat in Chelsea and they have been married (I take it) only a little over 12 months. Although both of them have lived over here in different spots for quite some years. She [Thea] is Australian too. I think he must have married her last time he was back home, also I gather this is about his third effort. Anyway they made me happy about my 2nd anniversary and wished me the best. We played all the Romanian records and there are some really fine pieces amongst the collection. One we gave full marks to was a “doina” sung by a woman on the fact that when her love is far away she has to find comfort in other things (not men) she has to sublimate her love. At least that is the theory, or the text, of the song-so Stefania told me. It was a very beautiful and haunting melody. Lovely, and I didn’t mind the last they made when I said the love had to find comfort in other things. I will regard it as our anniversary piece. It was the first time I had heard the records at all. The fast violin pieces so recall to me that different little groups of players I had heard and the Romanian orchestra I had told you of. It was a fine clear night so I walked home a quite considerable distance, through Chelsea, and up by Hyde Park, along the ritzy hotel area. Past the Hyde Park Hotel, the Dorchester, etc. Park Lane as the street is called is I am told the great stamping ground for the girls who work at night. Even when I came after 1 o’clock there were quite a few about. But I guess I look to married and purposefully going somewhere, which I was. Surprisingly,-you’d never pick some of them to be what they are-not at least in the street lights. Some very young and quickly it’s quite attractive. God knows how many times they had been to the cost and up again, by the time I saw them. Chatting away together, comparing shoes and what not. Just like dames waiting for the bus.

I’m off to bed now, this little break with you has soothed me off into an approximate sleep. So I may as well take advantage of my stricken mood to rest myself in recuperative slumber. Good night-my dearest wife-and thank you again for the cable and the thought of getting me a dressing gown. I really couldn’t carry it back I’m as heavy as hell as it is.

8 p.m. Friday [16 November 1956]. Am back in my room after a frustrating day. Fortunately there is a radiator here-and by magic shilling in the electricity meter slot makes it work. So at least I can be warm. I saw a Rodex coat I liked for you yesterday and went back early this morning to buy it. Unfortunately it was the wrong size, and, as it is just about the end of the selling season (everybody wears a coat now) I couldn’t get one to fit. All sorts of other patterns and colours but the bloody one I wanted. Spent all morning walking all over London trying to get one without success. The flaming goons makes so many slightly different styles for the individual shop buyer’s tastes that no two shops seem to carry the same thing. I had them ring Rodex but they couldn’t help. It has now become a dammed fixation with me. I’ll have to get them to make one now and post it out. I’m very disappointed I couldn’t bring it back as a surprise-but there it is. I had to mention it-so don’t go buying yourself one in the meantime. I’m sure you’ll like it. It is quite plain and won’t date anyway. Heavens knows you’ll need it to the winter. I like going around looking for things for you-but I’m afraid I have to give it up now. Bought myself a pair of grey corduroy slacks at Selfridges-very good and only 49/6. Selfridges here is like David Jones or Myers.

Had pork chops and chips for tea. Went down to the museum again for a while this afternoon and sort of reassessed my verdict on Indian sculpture. It is better than I first thought-must have been very tired when I went before. In any case I’ve had walking around and wished to hell I was home with you both. Not looking forward to this extra week and a half, one tiny bit. I need some coupling, bad. I think I’ll go to bed and read-lots and lots of love and kisses for you my darling. Your Willie loves you very much. XXXXXXX SAOH.

Saturday morning 8:30 a.m. [17 Nov 1956]. Dear sweet beautiful lady, and wife, and mistress. Your lover is strong and gay after a good rest and an early arising. Breakfast of bacon and egg and grapefruit juice, which is brought up to my room (everyone’s room) has been satisfactorily stowed away. The day is getting lighter-albeit the fainthearted English effort of brightness-and nothing yet has happened to throw me into the very pits of despair. I’m in a great bum-slapping mood-and I would have you know it. Today I shall relax for the pleasures seeing. Am going to the Portobello market with the Reinits this morning for an hour to observe the costers at work. Later I shall either look at the Victoria and Albert Museum or take a bus ride out to Hampstead Heath which everybody has heard of and which I like to see what’s like. There’s a professor character-Jock Marshall lives out that way too. I may try and renew an old acquaintance. I’m very loving and cheerful. Have been thinking this trip to Zürich over and have decided to go by train-hoping to see something thereby Holland, Germany and Switzerland. It will cost me only £5 more than if I catch the plane here. I think I told you for £4 I can get on at London. It would cost me another £2 to stay here for accommodation so that £6 from £11 the other way (with a night at pub in Zürich) would cost = £5 which I am sure is a cheap tourist trip through three countries.

I give you the big kiss-I am upmost lark like in my mood. Funny odds and ends one sees here in London. Blokes having a cheese roll with a cheese all smothered in mustard washed down with their awful black flat draught beer. Another character, having ½ beer ½ cider in his glass-ugh! Pubs at lunchtime are more like cafes-tablecloths, hot meals, men and women, a glass or two each and a gossip for the lunch hour. Fires in the lounges and plenty of Cockney and bally high class accent coming from all quarters of the compass.

I’m going out now to get a few things done early so will get this off. Please forgive the dreadful dreary nurse of the early part of this letter. I couldn’t bring myself to rewrite it. A fine, firm, squeeze for you-and my love to the old super mechanic Graham and his working hound Nortey Trellie. If he could teach her to talk she could do the messages while he sat around on his great fat ass. Poor Tommy [O’Dea]-that radio must have him horrified. Why don’t you send grain with it up in the bus to Ferries at Lane Cove. Opposite the post office. Another, even firmer hug for you, in private.

Love, love, love, from your own particular man

Bill

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0113 1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0112

Looking up Shaftesbury Avenue from Regent Street at Piccadilly Circus, London; 15 November 1956

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 13-15 Nov; London-moving hotel

Wed 14-Nov-56: Walked shops & booked in Debenham Court [Granville Place]. British Museum, saw sculptures of Egypt, Greek, Hindu.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0104

Tuesday 9:30 p.m.
13 Nov 56
London

Darling,

I shouldn’t write at all tonight. My mood might affect you who are so sensitive to other’s condition. But seeing as how, this thing of mine will be about a week in the past when you read this, I don’t guess it will matter much. It gets dark so dammed early here-a little later than 4:30 p.m.-and the evening seems so long. I went out for a meal and staggered down to a newsreel for an hour. Place was full of necking couples. Here on the continent people seem to neck anywhere-particularly so in Paris where it’s nothing to see them kissing in the underground trains or in the cafes. Have just ordered a cup of tea-it is something they really make well in this lounge. As a matter of fact it is a much more cheerful drink, than Guinness Stout.

Graham said in his last letter that you weren’t well and you have mentioned seeing Cummins. I do hope you are managing to keep going without too much strain, sweetie. I don’t want you to feel poorly while I’m away. I wish I could help somehow-like being home-I wish I was at that. I should have written you about the Gallery at lunchtime when I was fresher. I went back and it was nearly dark when I came out. It’s got a bit wearing-despite the magnificent early Italian works. I think I’ll read for a while and go to bed.

You needn’t worry about me getting home-things here seem quite normal and placid. In fact, one hears little talk of trouble. A few letters in the papers, appears to be the only manifestation of steam letting off. This ponderous letter will be the death of you. I really must cease. Shall carry on in the murky light of dawn. Lots of love to you my dear little hugging girl. Nothing, absolutely nothing would be better than really to sleep against you, and there somehow, find again a small boy’s peace. I occasionally get quite frantic at the thought that such a pleasure is so far off. Seems, sometimes, I’ll never have it again. But then, that’s nonsense-in fact it is less than three weeks off. But how long those 3 weeks are to become is more than I care to contemplate. I am desperately in need of you. It’s weak of me-but I get relief and comfort in admitting it. And why shouldn’t I open up to you, who are now so much part of me? As I have, it seems, become part of you, and the rest of your life. We are now, inextricably woven of a piece and it gives me happiness to think of it. Good night-other half of my heart. Sleep easily from me.

Wed 9:30 a.m. 14 Nov.

I am a new Willie-stronger in all respects-ready to face the rain of intrepid calm. I have been posting off some small books and catalogues and pamphlets. Getting too heavy to handle. My bag is now swollen and I shall have to get a cheapjack one to take the overflow. Must make a move to organise myself more precisely. Trouble is I don’t know yet what the accommodation will cost by the time I leave tomorrow. I’m moving into a 21/- a day dump. Have to, as I want to buy some things. And feeling much brighter and had best make a move out into the drizzling city. God bless you, you little beaut! I love you brightly this morning. Watch out for a vigourous return of the prodigal boy.

7 p.m. back again from the cold dark city. Am up in my eyrie, back with you, where I belong. Went out to the shops again this morning to have a look around and as there are so many of the flaming things I am little better off now than when I started. Called at Simpsons to get an idea of what they have. Looked in lots of other windows-made arrangements to move up near Oxford Street, behind the fabulous Selfridges store. By the time I leave here (in the morning) this place will have cost me £18.5.2. (8 nights at £2, one dinner 14/6, one ½ bt claret 8/6, 1 coffee 1/-, 3 breakfasts 19/6, 4 phone calls 1/8). The new place looks quite comfortable and I’ll be £1 a day to the good. Wish I had moved earlier. Food is expensive in London and cigs are 4/-a packet. Although I haven’t bought many. Still smoking some I got duty-free on the ship I came across the Channel in. Incidentally I am writing this letter with a pen I picked up in the Rue de L’Opera, Paris France. I feel very fond of you, ducky. Got my air plane ticket and pick the plane up at Zürich. I will be home at 7 a.m. on Sunday 2 Dec.

I’m leaving London on Monday (as far as I can recollect, having lost the folder. Anyway I must buy the ticket tomorrow, to make certain that is paid for) about 7 p.m.-spend about 5 hours aboard ship and arrive in Holland about 7 a.m. where a full day’s journey by train alongside the Rhine gets me into Basle about 10 p.m. Tuesday. As this hour is too late to catch a plane due off at 10.40 I have made these arrangements, and will write Basle for accommodation overnight Tuesday and spend day in Zürich to get plane on Wednesday 28th at 10:25 p.m. And the whole fare is only £8.16.0. To catch the plane here, first class, would cost me £21.12.0. So it’s quite a saving and if it does by some mischance happened to be a nice day I’ll see quite a bit of the Rhine. Wish me God spend, dearest, I am getting closer. Also bought another suitcase-very much like the one I have, only smaller and light grey in colour. Lined, and with two pockets, soft top, etc, practically an albino twin-45/-at Selfridges. Bought a new translation of the New Testament by a Jewish scholar. Should do me good, more soothing than that wicked Henry Miller I’ve been reading. Went up to the British Museum where my legs gave out and I had to totter off to have some tea and toast. Went back feeling better. Saw a lot of Indian sculpture-was disappointed in the relics of Stupas they had. The whole effect was overburdened and maggoty. Very sad reaction to the old enthusiast. Some of the single figures were very fine. Perhaps I was too buggered. This was before I had the tea. The Tibet’s have some very vicious and naughty concepts about their other worldly hierarchy. The principle of the male and female union, as the basis of all things is depicted with extremely vivid realism. Moreover it is a union that is quite normal in its management. They are very naughty ‘Adavayas’ indeed. After the tea I stayed on the ground floor and was delighted with the Greek and Egyptian stuff. Must have another look. If ever I’m fresh enough I should take some notes. The Tate, National, and Museum should just about use up my time. I was going to take a run up to Oxford but don’t know off I can make it. I certainly can’t get up north to see your father’s people. Finances just won’t stand it. I am not wasting money-but must bring something back. Should go out to Windsor though, it’s only an hour in the bus stop and going out to Rex Reinits place tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. so we’ll have a little social life for our secret anniversary. He is an Australian writer I used to work with many years ago. I think I mentioned I bumped into him in the bar here, or rather next-door. He has a radiogram so I’ll be taking my Romanian records and shall hear them myself for the first time. I hope the technical aspect of the recordings is all right. I am sure the musical part was performed in a suitable manner in the first place. I hope your old trotters have not been giving you too much trouble-and that the warm weather is allying the old screws a bit. You poor little thing-I’d only be too happy to mass arguing this moment-I’d willingly put up with your squawks and shrieks for the pleasure of being around on the chance of getting an occasional nip at your earlobes. Hotel rooms are deadly things on an empty stomach-so I’ll take myself off and fossick for a meal someplace handy. I’ll be with you again very shortly. I’m sure to get chips with whatever I have. These Londoners seem to live on nothing else. Chips-chips-chips-they eat such enormous quantities of them you’d reckon on getting some fresh some time. But not yet.

9:45 p.m. Back again in my beloveds arms.

How right I was about the chips. Just had a great reason plate full of them with a little piece of steak. I think it is the fat that clings to the chips which makes them so much of a must in food. Like Eskimos eat walrus fat, or candles, the carbohydrates are very warming. Better than Guinness. Not inspiring though. This letter is becoming very staccato in touch-little has happened to fire me off into a grand, and sustained, broadside of enthusiasm. Still haven’t dreamt about you, although for £2 a sleep one would expect even a modicum of entertainment during the night. I feel as if I am being diddled by someone, out of a free and harmless pleasure. Don’t know whether to get into bed, or go down and have some tea. Perhaps tea, and a last look around the lounge of the Howard Hotel. This letter is becoming a struggle because I have more than half a page to go with nothing to say on it-absolutely nothing. I’ll go down and see if I can find an evening paper to squiz at.

9 a.m. 15 Nov. have been thinking of you since I got up. I wish I could be at home to give you the loving kiss you deserve on such a day as this. Two years during which I think we are becoming better suited and as for me more deeply attached to you. I send you a great deal of love, my darling, and hope the way I feel at the moment will remain always deep in my being. Rows, I suppose, will be inevitable, but I trust they will be nicer and fonder.

Lots of love again-please get Graham to give you a kiss from me-and ask Trellie to give you a horrid great leak in one go from top to toe. Tell Graham I am anxious to hear the triumphal return music. I hope he has it all pat by the time I get home-he has that extra week’s practice.

I have been sweating blood on working out finance-and if I get the things I want all have to starve to death. I don’t know whether to get you to wire me £20 or not. If I just had an extra tenner I would be right. It’s a flaming curse. Oh, I think you had better-it’s mad to get oneself into a jam all this way off for the sake of £20. O skip all this, I have just seen Peter Gladwyn and he tells me not to worry. They will be able to do something for me. I got your loving cable off him too. Thanks so much, sweetie, I sort of thought I might get one. God love you!

I don’t know whether to catch the plane here-Cook’s Travel Agency says it might be cheaper. I am going down to see capital BOAC about it. It’s hard to determine things whether to see the Rhine or not. Will let you know in my next letter.

Much love and happiness to my dearest little wife from her loving fellow, Bill. XXX

Tell Graham S.A.O.H. to him to!

For the 15th Nov 1954.

London 1956

How do I recall-
   Lips parted
   In a crimson pleasure
   Of love?
How do I recall-
   Their pearly packets
   Piercing irregularities into
   My willing limbs?
How do well recall-
   The tiny, ardent breast
   When my lips
   With full of her,
   And love?
How do I recall-
   I, Pygmalion,
   When her limbs
   Came to life
   In warm embrace?
How do I recall-
   The liquid anguish
   Through which we fired
   A smouldering sleep?
How do I recall-
   My Dorothy?

From your husband

Bill

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0110 1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0111

 

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Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 12-13 Nov; London – National Gallery

Tue 13-Nov-56: Great pleasure, National Gallery morning & afternoon.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0099

12 Nov 56
9 PM London

Dearest girl,

The heat from posting your letter at 5 PM has petered out. (It didn’t get the mail anyway, as it was 5 PM, London GPO, wherever that may be.) There’s nothing like being in a slightly (or really) class hotel in London for being out on a limb. There is not even the satisfaction of imagining what all the mugs are talking about. Or even the pleasure of watching them throw their hands and eyes around in mad explanatory abandon. Everything is controlled and everything is in its place-even if, as I have said, they work for it, and it is part of their tremendous solidity. I don’t have any affection for London-I think it is a wonderful crystallisation of one aspect of the human drive. Perhaps I’m being biased about it all because this pub is in a legal and business area withdrawn, dignified, and not play house. Even serious people like Ulanova apparently stay here. It really is very comfortable-exceptionally clean-and a good table. As a matter of fact, I could not imagine a better place for you and I to be in, if we were together. It is not flashy American. The seats on the lounge writing rooms are all shapes and sizes, and a gentle murmur of slightly foreign voices permeates the air. Two people could-and do-sit in the corner and make modest love and it is very becoming and warming. The only laughter I can hear, is from the young-at heart-passé dame who serves in the cocktail tiny bar. She said “good night” as I came in, and I needed it. However amiability at 3/- for sherry has its limits. After two I couldn’t afford any more jolly converzione with the couple alongside me. Please don’t think this is a whingeing letter. I am merely trying to place a picture which needs no comment one way or the other. That is all there is to it. If I were full of fairies I would say the same, but perhaps sing it with a gayer melody. Guinness is good to you! Look at me!

I don’t mind the European accent-it has as a rule, a rather silvery quality catching the lights and cadences which rise above the abysmal undertones of the lounge. But God spare me the loud over-ripe persimmon squashyness of the American tourist-or even more, God strike dead, all American lecturers or guides, who conduct their compatriots around the Tate Gallery and explain the delicacies of Gainsborough in tones of the loudest molasses. Opposite are three people, one of whom, is like a good-looking Mrs Bookalil (we met her at Ngaire Phillips do) she is foreign and handsome-must have been a beauty-about, oh who could tell-she couldn’t be 50-and she couldn’t be 43. She looks old enough to be your mother, it seems to my far distant eye. I think you are lovely. But I think all girls are lovely-and the younger they are, the lovely-(and sillier). But you are still my girl-and you upset all ideas of what peoples (female) ages should be [Dorothy was 40]. I am getting you younger and younger every minute. And when I get home will be warm enough for us not to have to sit on the lounge-much as it holds associations that are unforgettable for us both. The whole of our loyalties have come from there-and we must not toss its contribution, or existence, aside too lightly. I am finding letter writing much easier in this lounge than in the Regina Venice. I have my finger on your thing, and nobody is disturbing me or even noticing us. I love you and I even hope you will think damply of me while you read this-my yen is for the comfort you can give me. There won’t be many more notes from me that you can answer. I reckon that the next two will be about the limit. Don’t send me anything that I can’t get by the 23rd or 24th Nov. I will be leaving by train to Zürich on Monday 26th. So please send me a bold and encouraging word before this. I guess this wickedness is enough for tonight.

Your Bill.

XXXXXX

2 p.m.: Tuesday [13 Nov 1956]

Garrick Theatre; 2 Jan 2014
Garrick Theatre; 2 Jan 2014

I am just adding this note whilst having a Guinness in the Garrick Hotel, which is opposite the Garrick Theatre. And is immediately behind the National Gallery. David Garrick was a famous actor and friend of Samuel Johnson’s. So I suppose the sites of both theatre and pub have been long established. I didn’t wake up until 9:30 a.m. this morning-must have been because I had the blinds drawn. Decided I may as well start on the Gallery as I’m not up to rushing around today. Not that I got on the scoot last night. A bad cold is helping to subdue my spirits. The weather in France and England would give you the creeps. It’s not wet, but an awful grey filters into your bones. There is no colour apart from the pearly lustre of a period greys. The blue, white and gold of a sunny harbour will hit me like a bomb. I do so wish you were with me to see the very wonderful pictures that are in the National Gallery. The English have done it again. I think even on a grey day both the National and Tate Galleries are fine display houses. I’ll save up for my next letter something of what to say about the pictures.

Do miss you being with me-so many little inconsequential details of interest one forgets to mention. All those little fine herbs that constitute the bouquet of flavour a particular city has. They are so ephemeral-some time, some stimulus will bring them all back-and perhaps I can give you a hint of their being. I don’t know why beauty depresses me one would think it to have the opposite effect. Perhaps it’s too big for my triviality-makes me want to crawl into a common place bar for a break and a breather. I am ready to tackle it again after I posted this letter. I am making up a schedule for myself for the remaining time. Must get away from the aimless wandering and get myself a purposeful routine. I want to settle down to the galleries and come home hot with the good intent. I love you, again and again. And will properly never again harbour such affection for you, as I will on Thursday the 15th. A deep kiss you.

From your husband,

Bill