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

Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 26-28 Oct; Paris, Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse and Chartres

Fri 26-Oct-56:     Chicken. Walked around generally from [Maurice] Utrillo’s church [Notre-Dame de Clignancourt] all through city. Went back to city (?) later & bought a hot chicken for tea.
Sat 27-Oct-56:   Roley worked at Daily Express office & I saw Musee d’Art Moderne. Went to Joan Harrison’s place for evening meal.
Sun 28-Oct-56:  Walked around Isle near Notre Dame Chartres. Went for drive & dinner at Remy St Chevreuse & went on to see Chartres cathedral – Had dinner at a café in St Germain. Saw Picasso film.
[Paris 1956]
Bois de Boulogne, Paris 1956 – Painted in 1957, this depiction of the Paris landscape is as viewed from the Bois de Boulogne with the Eiffel Tower in the centre distance and the Arc de Triomphe immediately to its left. Whilst Wep does not reference visiting the Bois de Boulogne, he may well have done so on 26 October 1956.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0070

Saturday night – 27th Oct

Little Sweetie,

I wanted to write to you very much & thought that I was fixed for an evening in which to do it. Roley’s big day in an office is on Saturday and I did not expect to see him until later tonight. But he rang up & said that I was expected as an extra guest for a meal he was going to. We have not long returned and it is pretty late. In any case, there is so much to tell of Paris – that one hardly knows where to begin – even if one has the time. I have covered quite a lot of this city & there is still much more than I can contemplate coping with. It is huge. And with millions of people & cars running madly all over it like ants. The weather has been mostly dull, which I gather is commonplace enough – But the city looks like many pearls against a grey velvet background. A very beautiful place, which is everything that you could expect from it. The number of cars around is fabulous.

Possibly Joan Harrison outside the Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art), Paris; 27 October 1956

The price of culture is high here. On a visit to the Museum of Modern Art [Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris] – I saw a specially collected exhibition of Matisse. About half a dozen of the pictures were superb. The old gentleman seems lately to be doing nothing but cut out bits of coloured paper & stick them down. I cough out money for entrance of Galleries & fork up for expensive catalogues. 2 shows & their catalogues cost me 200 Franc each to enter (i.e. 5/.-) plus 350 francs each for the catalogue. The other exhibition was by a sculptress named Germaine Richier. Fantastic stuff. Some of it most impressive – lots of it screwy. I’ve been walking about 6 hours a day and get really too tired to do justice to my need for you. I got your letter dated 22nd today and was highly delighted to realise your desire for me is as great as is mine for you. I am looking forward to our reunion in the warmth. It is very cold over here at the moment, but I am keeping warm enough – I leave for London next Friday for about a week – and before I know what is what will be on the plane home to you and Graham. I have done my best to make the most out of this trip despite the fact that I am getting heartily tired of buildings & pictures. Roley aims to have a day out in the country tomorrow – which should be a welcome change. I am too sleepy to continue writing so will go to bed with your need alongside me. It is very helpful to be getting some letters from you so quickly. Nothing has turned up from Rumania yet. I guess it is a relief to know that I am out of the Red area. The insurrections in Hungary could have been very disturbing for you had you not known I was already beyond the Iron Curtain. I am closing this part of the draft with very much love. And I mean it my dearest Dorothy wife. Kisses for you & the junior Pidgeons. While Roley goes out to play the organ for the English Embassy service in the morning, I am going over to Notre Dame for a walk with his secretary – a nice Aussie girl [Margaret Murray].

Sunday [28 Oct 1956]. [One paragraph typed] Roley bought this machine in Italy for only 17£ St. Got some sort of journalistic rebate on it. A brand new Olivetti. Can’t quite get used to the feel of it myself as the keyboard seems a little jammed up to me. Still it’s a nice clean typeface. Very expensive in this city, so I shall hold my horses until I get to London, where I will see what is available, and what to get here on the last lap home. I’ll come back for a day or two before I take off for Zurich. Listen darling, you’d better send me again all your measurements in both inches and centimetres. Also glove sizes. Please do it immediately and post to me in London, Aust. Consolidated Press, 107 Fleet St, London EC4.

Darlingest Dorothy – my dear girl. I have had the most wonderful day. I was breathless about it an hour or so ago but have tired off – Nevertheless, I want you to know, & for me to remember, something of it. I hope to write myself into a regained enthusiasm as I go along. I had not long finished playing around with Roley’s typewriter when his secretary came & took me off for a walk to the little island behind the Notre Dame. It is called the Isle St Louis and we wandered through the pearly grey veil of atmosphere which seems to shroud Paris in an intangible net of beauty on the rising of the day. The Seine greyly yellow, sluggish through the black trunks of the trees by the river – the light tones of the retaining walls & the wonderful Japonise lines of the steps and ramps leading to the waters edge. Grey – not a black keyed up – but a viridian & crimson mixed hue of lustre off-white. Luminous – and not substantial. An image on a screen, without a seeming reality, except that one can see the movement of the lime green leaves as they fall before & behind where you stand. To put your hand out and hold one for a second in its suspended and inevitably beautiful pattern in the almost too inviolable harmony. The leaves just acid enough to save the whole from a cloying death. I think I can still see it – I know I will – so many things to remember – So many things remembered – Beautiful grey & lime. Fluid lovely lines of river, trees & bridges. Came back & went into Notre Dame, which was crowded because some special service. Impressive enough church, but somehow disappointed in it.

Margaret Murray with Roley Pullen at one of the best restaurants in the environs of Paris, possibly the Cafe de la Mairie at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956
Margaret Murray with Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at one of the best restaurants in the environs of Paris, possibly the Cafe de la Mairie at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956

Met Roley at 12 after his church service playing & we three started off to the country to one of the best restaurants in the environs of Paris. I remember Roley writing a story about the Prince of Gourmets, a fellow, named Curnonsky, & eleven others, of which Roley was one, eating a whole pig at one meal. We had a magnificent omelette – a specialty called Omelette du Curé de Mennessiar. Made as far as we could find out – with a filling of cream & tuna & carp & herring sperm. I think with a little mornay sauce – sprinkled with chives & served in a long ramekin with melted butter & a little lemon juice – Boy! – I mean girlie! It was smooth. We made a mistake with the second dish – not that it was not good, but that it was not their extra hot specialty as we found out later. A fine white wine, although a little sweet for me – & tres bon claret. So many of their wines are good. Nevertheless you start paying for them. – A Beaujolais, which is apparently a reasonably good wine costs about 4/6. The vin ordinaire which one can get for 2/3 is quite good but no better than that Murrumbidgee Red we had. Of course you can get the vintage classes & pay what you like. We have not gone to the extent of having really expensive meals. Roley is a bloody goon, & won’t let me pay when we eat out – so sometimes I buy a chicken (cooked) & we heat it u & fix up in the flat. I help out a little by doing bits of plumbing – cleaning his sink out etc. & bits & pieces. He is helpless as a babe. God knows what all this living in Paris would cost. I know the lunch cost 4750 francs which is nearly a £5. Cheap hotel accommodation without meals is 1700 francs a night. £2 Australian. I’ll try & do a painting to send back to him. He insists that Jess & I gave him much hospitality in Australia. You’d like him very much.

Bill Pidgeon (Wep) and Margaret Murray snapped by a street photo
Bill Pidgeon (Wep) and Margaret Murray snapped by a street photographer near the Notre Dame, Paris; 28 October 1956

Had a street photo taken near the Notre Dame & hope to get it soon. I love you. Xxx.

Roley Pullen and Margaret Murray at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956
Roley Pullen and Margaret Murray at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956
Margaret Murray at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956
Roley Pullen and Bill Pidgeon (Wep) standing in the Place de la Mairie possibly pointing to the cafe where they and Margaret Murray had dined at Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse; 28 October 1956

This little village St Remy les Chevreuse about 16 miles out of Paris, was very charming & very new to me – different, more intimate, than Paris – little angles on village lanes & doll like houses. Gay with the grape, Roley screams out (he always screams) we’ll take the bloody Boche (that’s me) to Chartres to see the cathedral. Bingo & with hurry to get there before the light is too full to come through the grand illuminated windows.

Approaching Chartres Cathedral and the end of the roll of film; 28 Oct 1956

Lovely little town – medieval – everything in the book – All of us gay & enthusiastic – the beautiful cathedral, Roley reckoned the finest in France & I believe him. Knocks the Notre Dame Paris, into a cocked hat. Perfect Gothic stone figures guarding the entrance to the Lord. 700 years or more since the western soul soared through the immobile stone to seek a mystic union with the things that move us all. The front right & oldest tower embodying a simplicity & perfection of line, not to be recaptured in the rest of the building. – (These things took generations to complete). The setting light – the grey – It must be a French grey – perfectly holding the form without shadow. Inside, so dark, and the last light filtering through the coloured jewels in lead. Windows that shone like neons in a sea of midnight velvet. Behind us, out of the interior murk silhouetted figures & a mother with a pram silently as a photograph passing through the stations of the filtered light. On the right in equal & untouchable gloom – the epiphany of the lighted candles – and the bended devout. High up – high as the seeming sky – in the radiant windows. Jewels – seeable – memorable – and indescribable. All of which had a terrible effect on my high animal spirits. The flesh abased made you realise something – damn it all – It’s hard to describe without getting too precious on paper – I could tell you darling, when I have my head in your lap, and against your breast, and you ask me to ramble on, & you’ll understand, because you’ll feel my heart, and I’ll mean it, even if it is incoherent & sooky, to anyone else. But you, who love me, and know that I want to get it all out before it chokes me & I must get some of it to you tonight even if it is 3 o’clock in the morning. I want you to be me, & have it too. Right inside me – In my heart – I can put you there because, now I know you belong there, and that somehow, no row will ever be bitter again. Because I have learnt I need you. And love you. This has made me quite shaky. And I’m not even high. Chartres Cathedral de Notre Dame shook me. I was just in that uninhabited state to be perfectly timed for it. It’s about 45 miles from Paris, but before I go to London I am going to get the train up there to spend a day. I want you very much indeed.

We had a couple of beers before coming back but Chartres had fixed us. The party was over. After returning we picked up a woman journalist from the Daily Express & had a light meal & went to see a hour long movie [Le mystère Picasso] on Picasso & how he works. This show really did me to a turn. It was completely fascinating. With some new techniques (movie) it showed through the back of his (say canvas) the lines & colours as he put them down – Also later how he composed & decomposed a full time serious picture – Showed all his trials & errors & erasures & final destruction of a painting. It was the most illuminating piece of movie reporting it is possible to imagine. A bloody superb picture – am going to see that again too. Darling, I must finish & get to bed. Even Paris has not been able to support the showing of this picture on Picasso to the extent it deserves – so probably it will never get to Australia. It is highly esoteric & technical & marvellous. So you can see, all in all darling it has been the moistest day I have had since I left home – and it has left me very taut indeed. I am tired, but my mind is going madly like a cretin clock. Forgive me for writing this darling but it will help unwind me and I’d so much like to give you a fuck full with a great deal of love. From your Bill. XXXX

Please translate some of this for Graham. Tell him I know he will understand I can’t write separate letters, more love

Bill xx

Notre-Dame de Clignancourt, painted by Maurice Utrillo in 1914, Paris; 26 October 1956
Looking north down the stairs at the top of Rue du Mont Cenis towards Rue Saint-Vincent, Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Looking up Rue du Chevalier de la Barre towards Sacre Coeur church, Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Place du Tertre, Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Theatre de Tertre viewed from Rue Lepic, Montmartre, Paris; 26 October 1956
Place Vendôme, Paris; 26 October 1956
Paris; 26 October 1956
Possibly Joan Harrison on the Avenue de la Grande Armée, Paris; 27 October 1956
Paris; 27 October 1956


Wep’s 1956 Romanian adventure: 22-23 Oct; Vienna to Paris on the Orient Express

Mon 22-Oct-56: Cashed £15 in French Francs. Got Alberg Express at 9:10 am arrived Innsbruck 5:30pm. Wonderful Tyrol!
Tue 23-Oct-56:   Arrived Paris 8:50am. Very foggy, couldn’t find Roley Pullen. A trying morning but all clear at 2pm.

1956 MM-DD WEP Romania_0060

On the Orient Express – the Arlberg Division
Just past Salzburg – on the way to Innsbruck
2pm on Monday 22nd Oct

Dearest Girl,

I can’t write this too well, the train is jiggling around quite a bit. At the moment we are traveling alongside a mountain stream, with great sharp rocky peaks on either side. There is no snow about but all the trees, save the pines, are in many shades from light yellow to red. Really – very colourful & dramatic. I am drinking a bottle of beer & have just finished two very indifferent frankfurts & a roll. Looks like my last food till I get to France. I shall spend my last money – 20 or so Austrian schillings – about 3/6 on beer – it will make me happier to be without food. I have French francs but can’t do much with them here. Just imagine – we have just passed below a castle perched high up on a great 200-300 ft high rock. How they get there – or built it I don’t know. It is quite warm and the sun is streaming in the carriage window. The beer is making me sleepy and I am missing the scenery. I think my darling, I had better continue this letter tonight when there is nothing to see. We still have 18 hours to go.

My Darling girl – We are just pulling into Basle (or Basel) on the northern corner of Switzerland – it is the border of France & Germany I think. It is midnight and I am missing you like mad. It seems like the near full moon which accompanies us has had many trips since I left Mascot. I do hope you are both alright. Am pretty tired now and would like to be actively in your arms. Then deep sleep – A great curse! I had this compartment to myself for ¼ hour. With doors open & heater off. Now in comes a bloody French couple with a child & shut the door. These flaming Europeans can’t stand a bit of air. Give you the hump – However, I’ll go to sleep and rise above the sordid problems. I’ll tell you about the trip when I get alone in my room. Incidentally, this express is driven by electric motor – from overhead wires – all the way from Vienna to Zurich. Just had my passport stamped by the French control officers. Child now blowing horrible raspberries – in French I presume. May as well give it away. Good night dearest. I know my intimate feelings will be too stale for immediate benefit for either of us, by the time you get this letter. But despair not – they, Phoenix-like, are being continually re-vitalized. I get very loving towards you both when I think of the letters I collected from the Hotel Austria. Selfishly, I loved them. Does the solitary soul good to feel that it is needed somewhere. You are my own dear people. I suppose this parting helps in some way, to make for closer union – for love and dependency from us all. At last we are off again. Paris! Have I come!

Tuesday  [23 Oct 1956] 7.15am. We are only about ¾ hour outside of Paris and a heavy fog practically obscures any vision of the countryside. Had a pretty good night – the French couple must have got out shortly after we left Basle – I was alone from there on. I think I will stay in Paris till the 2nd of November then go on to London for a week & a couple of days. I’ll have to leave London by the 19th November to get to Zurich where I get my plane on the 21st. So any letters you may send after you get this should be sent to Clarrie McNulty, London – get address from Eleanore [Watson]. It is Consolidated Press something or other, Fleet St.

5pm. Am at last resting in Roley Pullen’s flat after a very trying morning. He received your letter in this morning’s mail. That’s very good going, my darling. I had no expectation that I would get a reply to my phone call only 5 days after I made it. Thanks a lot dearest. I arrived in Paris at 8.50am & no familiar faces to behold. I got a taxi to the address I had of Roley’s – No one had heard of him. More than a little dismayed I staggered with the weight of luggage into a nearby coffee shop where I had hopes of mapping out an attack on the city. Could find nothing in the phone book but an entry for Agence Francaise de Press. Hoping to find some clue from the address listed, I began a back breaking search for a bookshop where I could get a map of Paris. Miraculously, I noticed an Agence Francaise name over a doorway. It wasn’t the address but I asked & finally found an English speaking girl who gave me an address of Australian Associated Newspaper Service. I lugged the cases about a mile (with the aid of an uninformative map) till I came to the address. This was an hotel. I could have wept. Anyway, I went in & somehow or other whilst asking if they knew anything about any Press service in the vicinity a girl’s name who is the representative was mentioned & they said she lived there but was out & not back till 1 o’clock. I left a pitiful note & said I would return & would they mind if I left my big case there for the hour & half. Then wandered up the hill towards Montmartre. Came back – girl gone – but note with Roley’s address and Phone no. They told me where it was & how to get there by underground. I got the train (about 6 stations) & when I got out realised I didn’t have the number of the house. Couldn’t ring either. Got train back – retrieved note – and as it was nearly 2 o’clock asked hotel to ring for me. Luckily I got him & hence here I am – buggered but unbowed. He has a fine view of the Seine & Notre Dame. His rooms directly overlook the river. And just opposite is the Palais de Justice & behind it, the Louvre. He is being very kind to me – wouldn’t think of me going to a hotel. (Naturally with my wrong address – he didn’t get the telegram). But was not quite so surprised to hear me on the phone, as he had received your letter. He is working now – so I am writing this to keep out of his way. Paris seems to be a huge place, and very beautiful. I’ll get up early & start my dutiful tour then. Couldn’t dream of it now.

Lots of love darling – I hope Graham’s got some new pieces for me to hear. Ask Graham to give Trellie [Corgi dog] a man’s hug for me and for himself 2 heavy handshakes – bye – bye – Bill

Austria from aboard the Alberg Express train from Vienna to Paris; 22 October 1956
Possibly alongside the Salzach River, Austria from aboard the Alberg Express train from Vienna to Paris; 22 October 1956
Austria from aboard the Alberg Express train from Vienna to Paris; 22 October 1956
Austria from aboard the Alberg Express train from Vienna to Paris; 22 October 1956
Landhotel – Wirtshaus VORDERGRUB, Bernhard Knollseisen, Walsenbachweg 14. A-6370 Kitzbühel, Austria taken aboard the Alberg Express train from Vienna to Paris; 22 October 1956
View from Roley Pullen’s apartment at 33 Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris; 23 October 1956
Pont St Michel
Pont St Michel painted by W.E. Pidgeon in 1957
View from Roley Pullen’s apartment at 33 Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris; 23 October 1956
View from Roley Pullen’s apartment as evening approaches at 33 Quai des Grands Augustins, Paris; 23 October 1956