Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 9-10 Nov; London – the Lord Mayor’s Show

Fri 9-Nov-56:      Saw Lord Mayor’s parade [Lord Mayor’s Show]. Went up Bloomsbury to British museum – had lunch with Peter Gladwynn & co. Went to BOAC looked at more shops.
Sat 10-Nov-56:  Went to Beacontree Heath on bus. Looked round city – Westminster Abbey & Parliament – went Chelsea at night, met Rex Reinits

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0088

Howard Hotel
9 Nov ‘56
London 9.30pm

My dearest and very missed Dorothy,

There is really no way of getting what one feels into the “Heigh yar, Sweetie”, part of a letter – It all has to be inferred from the formal and well-worn adjectives which one has to use to someone with whom they wanted to be so close. To be inside their skin, with the same blood but with different harmonics of the heart. Get me? I’ve had gloomy news – The best the Air Line Co. can do for me is 28th Nov from Zurich. I had a message here at 5.30pm to say so. As no work is done over the weekend, I can’t ask them any further details. On Monday I’ll suggest if there are any cancellations near that date – to let me have them if I get 2 or 3 days’ notice. However, I don’t suppose a week will make that much difference after all this time. But I was looking forward to being with my family on the 25th. (To say nothing of the extra dough needed for accommodation – However let’s skip it, and hope for something better. As it is, I should be very pleased. I had some black moments yesterday – when I thought I might even be marooned till God knows when. Bookings are building up again – because of people wishing to be home by Xmas. So keep your fingers (& your legs) crossed for me till you have me back with you all. But I’m warning you – wear your rosiest glasses. I’m trained down pretty keenly – not an ounce of fat anywhere – even on your personal part of me. I haven’t seen much of London yet apart from the shopping area – really this comprises most of the town proper – that is, excluding the financial quarters which is the city. I’ll start taking bus rides round tomorrow. Tell John Boyce I am living alongside the smell & fust of the bowler hatted & homberged legal fraternity. This hotel is in Norfolk St. just off the Strand & practically opposite Australia House & near the Royal Courts of Justice (which look imposing & very, very established). And tell them too (I mean Mrs Boyce as well) that I had the good fortune to see the Lord Mayor’s procession this morning. It would be practically identical with the procession that took place when Sir Leslie Boyce was elected or appointed Lord Mayor of London. I got quite a kick out of it & entered sympathetically into the English love of pageantry.

Lord Mayor’s Show from opposite T. Marks & Sons, 33 Fleet Street, London; 9 November 1956

What with the bands & mounted police, the sailors & airmen, and soldiers with great black bussils on. It was a drizzling day & the busbied boys wore long grey overcoats & looked extremely striking, without being musical comedy. You really caught the continuity of tradition with them. They were followed later by foot men in red with very anciently patterned costumes & with carried lances. Shiny breast plated guards in red, with white trousers and gloves, mounted on saddles draped with sheep skins. Beautiful horses & the guards in glistening metal helmets floating, with plumes & the crumby looking gilt Lord Mayor’s coach drawn by six liveried horses, each mounted by a rider in equally unworthy dress. Fleet St, all in flags & full of people. All indeed, there is so much about London that typifies the British spirit. That solid annual performance. The spick & span city – paint going on the window frames – the old black bricks being cleaned back to their warm & cheerful originality. A bourgeois stolidity that has yet freedom – because each individual aspect of the geographical city is the home, or castle of those whose desire it is to invest it with their personal pride and dignity. London is greater and more interesting than I ever expected. The British have not the Gallic lightness but by God it is obvious they are freer in concepts than the Germans – and based securely and irrevocably in their land & in their homes. And the shops! Every flaming aspect of commercialism, intonate, aloof, specialised – cheap jack – bazaar – slick – the works! A wonderful sight – nothing quite like it. And above all the myriads of people, the sound of the cockney (or London, I don’t know) voice – obligated by the accent of the avidly buying American tourists. It must be their paradise – because things are cheap. Not the best, lovely, but the next best are cheap. Still, plenty of new Rolls Royces, Bentleys, etc. around. Even the London cabs have really unbelievable English dignity. They are all black Austins, stuffy & box like – but immaculately polished – and all identically the same appearance, like a rather passé but well cared for great aunt of the family. The cabs & big fast, RED, double deckers, absolutely in in a never ending stream, go up & down the streets, which are nevertheless, quite easy to cross. And so, on and on, this description of London could go – and will. But at the moment all I can contemplate with enthusiasm is being with you in midst of a sportive spring night. I go to bed hoping I can dream about it – but I’m too tired to dream at all. It is most frustrating. I’m glad you miss my shoulder – next time you have it you can gnaw it to the bones for all I’ll notice. You shouldn’t have become so ardent during these years – I can hardly regard the nobility of that wonderfully laid out, and magnificently shopped Regent St, for thinking about the pleasures of a Northwood night.

Bedford Square looking down Bloomsbury Street, London; 9 November 1956
Near 82 Regent Street looking east towards Piccadilly Circus, London; 9 November 1956

5:20pm Saturday night [10 Nov 1956]. Even my urge is wilting under the onslaughts of this overwhelming city. It’s vast – huge – beyond any suburban conception. The impact is terrific – must be quite the moistest city in the world. Paris is beautiful – intimate even – but has none of the power London holds. Who’d have thought, or think, even now, to look at them, that the English could create & sustain so vitally, such a tremendous edifice. This morning I took a bus out past the East End, way out to a place called Becontree Heath. Over an hour’s run, through the slummy areas of Stepney Green – Bow Road – Stratford. Gradually opening a little through continuous rows of houses – through other shopping centres like Ilford and East Ham. The whole teaming with people. Districts, flat & dull, with empty bombed out blocks. All being slowly reconstructed under a housing scheme. Back again to wander round what is known as the City (the centre of Banking & Commerce & Finance). Huge stolid fortresses, like the Bank of England – granite like, impervious it seems to time or change. But alongside them, other great empty blasted spaces, being resurrected with huge modern offices in a different architectural style to those which remain. But the life is there, and the rather amazing emergence of the fogged will to power. It is hard to photograph these monolithic masses which so firmly hold to earth. The human seems secondary, whereas in Paris the buildings are lighter & are more for man. Then to walk along the Thames Embankment – the river busy with barges – the apparently inevitable mist – The still massive structures facing the river – and those blown away, being replaced by others equally large. And so on to Westminster, where the Houses of Parliament are being carefully reconstructed in original carving. Into Westminster – Downing St – Whitehall – Trafalgar Square – Many people placing tiny crosses with a red poppy & a deceased warrior’s name, in the grounds of the Abbey. Hundreds upon hundreds of tiny crosses. Further up guards in vermillion & black capes formally hold guard before ancient archways. Christ it is impressive! How could the English be subdued?

Later. Very nice to come in & find your bed turned down & your pyjamas laid out. Very nice, but is it worth it? If this is a cheap pub, the outlook is grim indeed. £2 per night. 6/6 for breakfast – 15/- dinner. I’ve had 3 nights – 3 breakfasts – 1 dinner & am down over a tenner. I’ll have to move. After finishing this letter I went up the road and had a feed at the dagoes. 5/- touch. It was then still early so I caught a bus down to Chelsea & roamed around dropping into various bars to see what they were like. The English beer is terrible (the draught beer I mean) almost makes me vomit. So I have either a small bottle of Guinness Stout – or a small bottle of pale ale. They are not too bad. The pubs are quite unlike anything we know. – More like mid Victorian drawing rooms. Always dark – plenty shiny glass – brown woodwork – lamp shades – people standing around like at cocktail parties. Some quiet – some with a pianist – & cut glass mirrors & sandwiches & snacks. Started home about ten o’clock & when I got outside my pub felt ravenous, so walked about a quarter of a mile to find a chocolate shop. Managed that, but was rebuffed. After a certain hour it is wicked to sell chocolate – was so aghast I nearly fell into the pub next door to the shop – to continue drinking (pubs are open till 11) – But was too hungry and went back to the shop & settled for a dreadful  1/4dth of beef sandwich. Which I finished in the lift coming up to my room. I was all set to tell you about the church up the road. St Clements Dane [Saint Clement Danes] or something – but I am wilting too rapidly.

So goodnight for sure, with this letter.

I still love you most immoderately and would like to sleep with my head snuggled into the armpit side of your right breast – just where I belong and am extremely comfortable, when not too excited to appreciate it. God bless you honey – I hope you got a little thing in a letter from me from Paris.

Dorothy’s much cherished cat broach which Bill sent her from Paris

I was in such a hurry & so confused because they wouldn’t accept it at letter rate – unless it was in a letter – I forgot to register it. I hope it arrived safely – because I didn’t want you to think that I would forget our second anniversary. I am unhappy that I cannot be with you. But we will have some Minchinbury for dinner the night I get home – I am really very happy and very lucky to have married a sweety adorable little bugger like yourself.

I love you still.  Bill XXX

Looking towards the Royal Exchange from Queen Victoria Street near Poultry, Bank, London; 10 November 1956
The Bank of England viewed from Cornhill, Bank, London; 10 November 1956
St Paul’s Cathedral from Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street at Mansion House, London; 10 November 1956
St Nicholas Cole Abbey, bomb damaged, viewed from Old Change Hill now part of Queen Victoria Street, London; 10 November 1956
College of Arms, 130 Queen Victoria Street, London; 10 November 1956

20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, UK

Westminster, London WC2N 5DN, UK

London, UK

London SW1A, UK

London WC2N, UK

London EC2R, UK

London, UK

Greater London, UK

London, UK

London E3, UK

London E1, UK

26 Sale Place, London W2 1PU, UK

London, UK

London, UK

London WC1B 3QJ, UK

London WC1B, UK

Strand, London WC2R 1DH, UK

London EC4A, UK

London, UK

Strand, London WC2A 2LL, UK

Strand, London WC2B 4LA, UK

Norfolk Street, London WC2B 4LA, UK

London, UK

London SW1A 0AA, UK

Greater London, UK

Dagenham, Greater London RM9, UK

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 6-8 Nov; Au revoir Paris, ‘Allo London

Tue 6-Nov-56:    Dashed around frantically shopping. Took Margaret to cheap eating house & on to a Spanish turn place
Wed 7-Nov-56:  Caught 11:51am train to London. Couldn’t see any country for fog – arrived Dover at dusk & London 7pm, Howard Hotel
Thu 8-Nov-56:   Collected 4 letters from Consol. Press. Roamed round shops – Piccadilly Strand, etc.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0087

Howard Hotel
[Norfolk St, Strand]
Thurs 8 Nov ‘56
London 2.30pm

To a darling girl Dorothy,

Arrived in London last night & found my room all booked & no troubles at all. Got a cab from Victoria Station & everything was the easiest thing ever. Called at the Consol. Press office this morning & was abundantly rewarded with 4 beautiful loving letters. I gobbled them up with 2 or 3 glass of Younger’s Light Ale. London has done me proud. I am enjoying the first sunny day for more than a fortnight. Paris has been very grey (but still beautiful) & for the last few days almost fog bound. Hardly saw anything of the country from Paris to Calais. Cleared up near the coast & the sun came out. Found the boat trip across the Channel pretty dreary. Although it took but little more than an hour, it made me thankful that I did not have to contemplate 5 weeks or so of water – just to get home. I’d have gone crackers. I am going back to Victoria Station (where we came in from Dover) to contact BOAC & find out what cooks and when. Have been walking around this morning – but now get tired – my knee joints have folded up on me. Not so badly as to prohibit their use, on my return. This London is quite a place. – I haven’t even seen the Thames yet. But the Strand, Piccadilly – Oxford St, etc. where I have been window shopping are jolly well all right. Best shops in Europe. Wonderful things for sale – and all, at least they seem to me, after the Continent – very cheap. Dawdled round the basement of Selfridges – very good & so many things one doesn’t see at home. The shopfronts all spick & span – the building facades bright – All without that air of decay that sits like a veneer over most of Europe. This is just a quick note to give you immediate news of my arrival. I shall get back later into fuller reports – I’ll have more time alone now. I’ll have a few beers & pour me bleeding heart out to you.

The prospect of trying to walk over London daunts me. I shall master the bus services & see it more superficially. Called to see if Reg Ash was in – away in America still. Very much love to you, and to Graham & Trellie.

Will go & find advice on plane trip home.

Things are a bit up in the air about the trip home. I have to wait on advice from Scandinavian Airways – who were originally to take me to Bangkok.

Will let you know as soon as possible. It’s getting very dark and cold with the time only 4.45pm.

Lots of love darling

Your man


Tell Graham a postcard will get sent off tomorrow and tell him to find a photograph of me to put on the wall of Trellie’s bedroom – Don’t let her forget me.

[The Howard Hotel no longer exists nor does Norfolk Street, which used to run between Temple Place and Strand, directly opposite Australia House.]

Strand, London WC2B 4LA, UK

London, UK

London SW1V, UK

Kent, UK


75006 Paris, France

View from Pont Saint-Louis which connects Île Saint-Louis to Île de la Cité, looking south east towards Pont de la Tournelle, Paris; 6 November 1956
View from Pont Saint-Louis which connects Île Saint-Louis to Île de la Cité, looking south east towards Pont de la Tournelle, Paris; 6 November 1956
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris; 6 November 1956
Looking north east from the Eiffel Tower, the Passerelle Debilly bridge in background, Paris; 6 November 1956

1956 Cultural Exchange Trip_0007 1956 Cultural Exchange Trip_0008 1956 Cultural Exchange Trip_0009 1956 Cultural Exchange Trip_0010

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 3-5 Nov; Paris – stuck in a Christian Dior parade

Sat 3-Nov-56:    Day at the Daily Express while Roley worked.
Sun 4-Nov-56:   Went to Embassy church & dinner on pig. Went to concert. Roley went to Vienna.
Mon 5-Nov-56: Weary, Odilon Roden exhibition, later to the Louvre – too dark to see the Rembrandts etc.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0081

5th Nov ‘56

My darling Dorothy,

I got a letter from you this morning dated 29th Oct. That is a week ago and you called me a big monster because I hadn’t said I hadn’t got a letter from your affectionate heart. Please forgive me if I have not mentioned the joy they gave me. I am sure I must have done so. To tell the truth, it is only since I got to the Paris address that I have been getting anything. I know it is not your fault. I had one letter in Romania. One you had written just after the beautiful letters I picked up at the Hotel Austria. So you will forgive me. I asked them to mail my Romanian mail to Paris – but nothing has arrived so I guess everything is just any old-how in the east. I don’t suppose I’ll ever get the beautiful books they were to have forwarded. All the mail goes or did, through Hungary, so you can imagine that the chances of receiving anything at all are pretty hopeless.

Roley Pullen at his apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Roley has just been sent to Hungary, much against his wishes. However, he has arrived at Vienna as the border is about to be closed again – So I guess things may be alright for him. I took the liberty of getting him to put me on the phone to Robert Edgley & asking him to see what he could do for him in the way of local information, etc. I am leaving for London at 8am on Wednesday. I was to have gone on Friday but McNulty sent me a cable from New York to say that he will probably be there till the 18th. As I would like to see him, I thought I’d leave a little later for London & fly direct if I can. You have had a couple of pretty mad – but, I assure you, earnest letters from me. If anything in them has distressed you in any way put it down to tired and excited ramblings. I want you not to think I am lurching all over the city. I am not. There is a lot to do, and see, and perhaps I cannot cope with it all without an occasional savage outburst – Giving the theatre of the brain a flutter – if you understand – Not that I didn’t mean a word of my love making – but perhaps then it would have been more obscene – and not so beautifully obvious. Anyway I meant every word of it and you have to like it or lump it. Roley got me into a Christian Dior parade the other afternoon. I went alone & had to flash my passport to get in. Got stuck behind three rows of chairs & without a cigarette the two hours of so called parading became even more murderous than conceivable – because I couldn’t get out. All but one of the models looked like creatures from Buchenwald concentration camp. Pin stick limbs, but interesting faces. Very much like Nefertiti because the wizard profiles were capped by flat top haps like Romanian Astrakhan shepherd hats. All the winter clothes were finished off with these type of hat.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0083

I thought some of the winter type coats very nice. Quite your line. I understand your taste, but I haven’t got the money to risk a failure. I should like to have seen you, with your very forthright walk, modelling one or ten of them. The walk you wear when I first remember you running down the side of the pool at Dee Why the day you took off and sat on my costume, and took the little Dutch monster with you into the pool. Your little eyes were so purposeful and your behind wagged as if you were just about fifteen and it hadn’t sat on a hat or swimming pants or even a box of delights for twenty or thirty six years. I think it was on Feb the two-th of something. But it was a wonderful day, because I met you when you got off the bus and you were wagging it from work. I remember Christine saying you were a nice girl. But I had no idea that should agree so seriously with her. I thought she was right, but didn’t realise that I would be so convinced of it later. In fact I never thought then that I would be in love with you – I suppose I was, but wouldn’t admit it even to myself – because how could I, when I was, oh – well – you know, I loved Jess too. And it’s because I love you I can now say that. You understand now.

Bill Pidgeon (Wep) admiring Roley Pullen’s minitiature carousel at Roley’s appartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Roley has a musical merry-go-round that makes everybody who sees it want to cry because it is so wonderfully static & old world. And all the four figures who are seated on alternate donkeys and rabbits have their tails dropped off with age and the mange of neglect. With the inevitability of last year’s newsreels, the dear little clown clothed figures trace their fixed and inevitable course, centrifugally around the music of a tinkling and passé empire of France. They wear pantaloons & red velvet bows – cockades and pointed vermillion shoes. One of them, who wears a little peaked donkey hat with a feather in it is so like Graham, I could weep. Some of the horses they are not horse, but they had almost the privilege of being horses, are without tails and hooves. They are dusty, but are ennobled with age and affection. The base is ancient pink & contains the most sentimental music it is the pleasure of any cavalier to ride to. I have just wound it up. And all the figures go la-de-da-de-la in an inevitable circle with Graham, not the most elegantly dressed, riding on the only horse with a tail, in poised and delicate finality.

You know what the trouble with me is, I am not doing enough work. I’m building up & am near explosion point. The absorption rate is high & I guess, apart from the London galleries, I have seen almost every picture worthy seeing or which has been reproduced. The Louvre gives me the flaming horrors. I have been there four times without decently seeing a picture. It is so dismally dark. So is Paris this time of the year – Gives you the thing. Spent another quid having a look at Odilon Redon exhibition (plus catalogue) this morning. Only vaguely knew of him. Beautiful lovely work. So many of the masters are disappointing in the original. By and large, you could give me the early Italian and or Christian painters for my cup of tea.

This is becoming a long letter, my darling and is like my reactions to all external stimuli. I like getting letters from you but I would rather be home. I find the idea of spring hard to conceive. Really the weather here is the end! I’ve seen the sun twice. They tell me the grey of London is worse.

Please don’t expect much from me from London. I shall write only when I madly need you. Not that, that wouldn’t be every day I could make it. But I have had sending news reports, and would as soon be home. The winter 1956 timetable says my plane will get in at 7.20pm on Nov. 25. I do not want you to meet me. I would really much rather get a cab from the city and walk into my home with my people there. I do very really mean this. I would rather kiss you in Northwood than in Mascot or Sydney. I can take you both together in my arms at home. Please let me come home alone. I don’t want anyone else to help me see you all for the first time after all this much of the world. I don’t mind that vulgar Trellie being there. Will you please get this into your thick head? Also, please don’t write any letters I would miss. I can’t stand it. Save your affection up for my arrival. The letter I got today was dated Mon 29 Oct. That is a week’s delay. So don’t write anything I wouldn’t get by the 18th. I might have to go to Zurich by train. Anyway, I’ll let you know pronto. Seems very sad that the last letter I’ll get from you will just about answer this. Please tell me you love me. Tell Graham I’;; send a post card from London, or Calais, or Folkestone. Tell him I’ll only have about half an hour to nick up the Eiffel Tower. Tomorrow I’ll be awful busy. I love you, and miss you, my dear wife.


P.S. That letter from Orasul Stalin – Stefanie registered it – I didn’t tell her to – perhaps she had no faith in the post.

P.S.S. No man in his youth would be so dependent on a fickle – unpredictable woman – and what is more – shall not be! XXXXXXX

Margaret Murray at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956
Margaret Murray at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956
Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at Roley Pullen’s apartment, 31 Quai des Grand Augustins, Paris; 3 November 1956

Wep's notes at the Christian Dior Fashion Parade, Paris, 1956 Wep's notes at the Christian Dior Fashion Parade, Paris, 1956

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 3 Nov; Lonely in Paris

Fri 2-Nov-56:      Louvre, bought chicken. Out with Jon Williams.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0078

Sat 2am
3 Nov ‘56


Darling Dorothy (I can’t build on that).

You cannot be more alone than when you have sat down in a strange city and you wake up and you don’t know where you are. But you still have to find your way out without maps, or anyone to help. What makes it worse is to come across a tram shed full of people who are asleep on the concrete floor & you leave 4 Francs for their grog in morning. I am, at last, up in front of a fire at 31 Quai des Saint Augustins. Give one the pip wouldn’t it? Please take no notice of my terrible state of thing. I am useless till I come home. I have had bloody Europe and all its stinking problems. Poor Roley has to go to Hungary – and a worse revolutionary correspondent you would go far to meet. He hates the idea – but I have introduced him over the phone to Robert Edgley, so perhaps he will not feel completely abandoned.

My very loved girl, I either write as I am or not write at all. I’m sick of gawking at bloody buildings. You can as far as I am concerned shove the whole lot up – for a gum tree. They say there are plenty of eucalyptus in the south of France and may be beautifully true – but since when do you pay £20 to look at a stick from the bush when you know that within 3 weeks you’d never get away from them again in your life? Don’t you dare be upset because I am writing in a screw ball mood. It is the time when I need you & wish so much for a few words. Even if they are all wrongly associated and you are perhaps disappointed. But I am not getting any screwier – or more alcoholic – just that I show it more to you. I think a little more of that slushy guff would be in order. Coming from you – I could take it. To tell the truth, I would like, very much, if I could get a letter on the 20 or 21st Nov asking me to get back to the rest tout suite. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I can get on without letters. (But not much!) (I have had many happy affections – many letters from you – since I have been at Roley’s place. It is the only really place I have had a letter.) You are a bloody dear little girl, and I am just beginning to be very greatly in love with you and even if any villainous opportunities arise I never can take them because my thinking of you and your loyalty makes my fred look like a very cold piece of Graham. And I mean that mug! You are my woman, & women! Trouble is, I keep thinking too keenly about it all & what’s more, I am really not kidding, when I say I’d like to be home. I hope you miss me as much as I miss you. I am fairly simple in my tastes. I hope it is warm enough, when I arrive, for you to be wearing a nice pair of scanties, or none at all! Bold, bad, boy! Don’t take much notice of me. Oh what hypocrisy. You indeed take a fred well[?] If the curse is on I don’t care one damn – And I know you are willing anyway. That lounge gives me the first thing – when out of the blue – you became, my wife.

Later –  This is a love letter and I am sending it to you because I love you and you have to take me as I come! I love you very much, indeed now, And don’t forget, to remind me, when I am your horrid friend, Bill XXXXX your husband man

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 29 Oct-1 Nov; Chartres revisited and the Louvre

Mon 29-Oct-56: Roamed around, quick look at Louvre & saw Picasso film again – dinner alone at St Germain.
Tue 30-Oct-56:   Rose 5am & got 6:30 train to Chartres, cold but enjoyable. Dinner with Bob Close & others.
Wed 31-Oct-56: Went to Louvre. Quiet day.
Thu 1-Nov-56:   All Souls Day here. Everything shut, did nothing much, went to Place de Vosges.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0075

Mon 29 ‘56

Dearest girl,

Another very grey day, with the significant difference that it looks grey to me, too. I’ve just come back from a scouting trip to the Louvre. And these great galleries can depress one very easily. One is forced to contemplate one’s own inadequacies & other’s noble communications with succeeding generations. It was very dark in the gallery but I managed to locate some beautiful things. Leonardo’s “Virgin with Jesus & St Anne”, so much better than the “Mona Lisa”. Giorgione’s “Le Concert Champetre” Titian “Virgin au Lapin” del Sarto “La Charité” & a superb portrait by Raphael of “Jeanne D’Aragon”. Very beautiful. All this beauty of city & past efforts are saddening. Perhaps I’m tired – and reaction has set in after yesterday’s strong impact. I felt like giving it away, but the more one sees of this fabulous city, the more one realises how little one can accomplish in the time allowed. God, how I’d like a month here with you. We could give back to each other the needed help. I hope you understood why I had to become so direct at the end of my last letter. It was very necessary to combat the upward surge. I know, anyway, that you would have been all you could to me. I think I’ll go out and find myself something to eat. I’ve been roaming around a fair bit & am getting rather hungry. Strange as it may seem I wish I could hear you chatter madly, and not too pontifically about all the things we could have seen together. I’d like to buy you some wine, & to get you slightly high, and be (that is me) all sort of mildly amused & knowledgably superior. Miss you darling. Au revoir.

Have just come in – it’s about 11pm. Went & saw the Picasso picture again but couldn’t manage to keep awake. Went and had a feed alone. Cost about £1 for a very indifferent meal.

Very cold out – and the streets are wet & full of reflections from the lights of the city. The Seine doesn’t look too inviting in this sort of weather. Roley must have been in & out again. No sign of him at the moment. Don’t know whether to go to Chartres on the 6.20am train tomorrow – or not. Just can’t make up my mind at the moment. Don’t fancy it in the rain. Perhaps it would be better for me to see some galleries although the bigger ones are closed on Tuesdays. Good night sweetheart.

Good Heaven! It’s Thursday morning already! [31 Oct 1956]. On Tuesday morning I got up at 5am. Cold & very dark. Took myself off on a train at 6.30am to revisit Chartres Cathedral – arrived Chartres about 8am, not long after daylight. It was bitterly cold & a perhaps a perfect day to get the full impression of the cathedral. Austere & keen. I had slightly expected a letdown in emotional feeling on a second view – but all my first raptures were held. It is the most moving building I have seen. A wonderful work of the human spirit. Seems to completely embody the medieval gothic soul.

Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956

The great and simple southern spire – soaring without any commonplace cake like decorations into the cold grey sky – Everything very silent, save for the squawk of the black birds flying in & around the open chambers the high peaked top.

Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956

Around the main entrance – the typical Gothic carvings – but these so much better than most. Pure Gothic – as moving as can be – quite up to the Indian gift for sculptured embroidery conceived as a grand and united whole. A beautiful church. Went over to the Louvre but find the pictures hard to see – Paris is very dull & grey – cold too now. So dark, little light comes into the gallery. Most disappointing as there were many fine pictures to be seen. I getting too tired to really take them in. It’s a big gallery with plenty of walking to be done, and my legs have just about had it. Am looking forward to getting home for a rest for a few days.

All the world tension & disaster doesn’t add to the gaiety over here. I hope to God I can get home on time. What with the way things are shaping up it’s becoming a bit disturbing – Not knowing just how big the Anglo French war with Egypt will get. I guess you are getting worried about it. However, I think I will get through all right. I’m going to London tomorrow or the day after & will find out better how the flights home are standing. Shouldn’t be any trouble, as apparently plenty of French athletes are getting ready to take off for the Melbourne Olympics.

Here it is Thursday & midday already. Days are getting short here – I was up at 8am & big[?] a fair bit of washing. Managed to boil my handkerchiefs for the first time. Roley’s got a fire going & the flat is all tightly closed up – makes me sleepy – so I suppose I’d better go out & liven up in the grey chill. Very hazy & all – the buildings appearing like photographs with their almost complete lack of colour. Very paintable though.

I must get this letter off – perhaps my last from here. Longing to see you and Graham again. Nothing like having your own family around even if I never realise it when I have got it! Sorry that this is not a more enthusiastic letter, darling. When I am all keyed up to get the details good & hot – some interference takes place – much as you have complained about at home. Give my regards to the DolemansWatsons & Price Jones. I send you very loving thoughts – your Bill. XXX

16 Cloître Notre Dame, 28000 Chartres, France

75001 Paris, France

Taken from Rue de la Grenouillère, Chartres; 30 Oct 1956
The same view, 19 Dec 2015
Taken near 1 – 3 Rue du Frou looking towards Chartres Cathedral, Chartres; 30 Oct 1956
The same view, 19 Dec 2015
2-10 Rue de la Planche aux Carpes, photographed from Rue du Chêne Doré, Chartres; 30 Oct 1956
1957 oil on board 37.0 x 51.0 cm signed on the lower right: pidgeon 57 label attached: Invoice 26244 / $215.2 23.4.90 / $130.00 No.9 Charles Hewitt Frames Invoices #26243/4/5, 23/4/90 17 paintings not fully identified. Framing details per invoices Avg cost $446.86 ($7,596.70) Item 9 - [Bridge walk, Chartres, France, 1956] 26" x 20.5", S8047 moulding and small linen bevel, $215.20, Restoration $130.00
[Bridge walk, Chartres, France, 1956]
The same view, 19 Dec 2015
Wep’s son Peter and family outside the house at 2-10 Rue de la Planche aux Carpes, Chartres; 19 Dec 2015
Wep’s son, Peter Pidgeon and home owner Jean outside 2-10 Rue de la Planche aux Carpes, Chartres; 19 Dec 2015
1 Rue de Bethléem, Chartres; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Chartres Cathedral; 30 Oct 1956
Institut de France, Le Parlement des Savants photographed from the right bank looking across the Seine; 31 October 1956
[Institut de France, Le Parlement des Savants, Paris 1956]
[Institut de France, Le Parlement des Savants, Paris 1956]
Pont Neuf, Paris; 31 October 1956
The Louvre museum in the distance from the Tuileries Garden, Place de la Concorde, adjacent to the Rue de Rivoli, Paris; 31 October 1956
Place de la Concorde, Paris; 31 October 1956
Bassin Octagonal, Jardin des Tuileries, Paris; 31 October 1956
Margaret Murray standing in front of the Bassin Octagonal (camera looking north) in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris; 31 October 1956
Jardin des Tuileries, Paris; 31 October 1956
Place de Vosges; 1 November 1956

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