Sun 11-Nov-56: Went 11am ceremony at the Cenotaph which Queen attended. Hyde Park & Pall Mall in afternoon.
Mon 12-Nov-56: Chelsea by bus – walked to Battersea & to Tate Gallery – got Dorothy’s Rumanian letters.
1 PM, Sunday 11 November 56
I have only just posted a letter to you, that may as well begin again, who knows when this episode will get finished, and sent off. It is sure to be a serial effort. I have just put some drops in my eyes, so for a hour or so will be useless on the streets, sightseeing. I haven’t been using them during the day as it becomes impossible to see a thing. I didn’t put them in early today as I wanted to walk along the embankment, post some letters and see the doings. Saw great crowds conveying towards Westminster, so I followed on and discovered it was remembrance Sunday when a service is held at the Cenotaph which the Queen attends. Couldn’t get anywhere near the Cenotaph but watched all the preparatory organisation. Military bands leading detachments of various forces towards the Cenotaph. The boys in busbies, looks fine again and they led a small group of really Ruritanian guards dressed in long red capes, shiny helmets with long white plumes all horsehair, I suppose, hanging from the top of the helmet. Some were in black capes with red plumes from their helmets-all marched with drawn swords held squarely in front of them. They marched so well-and the clothes so finely cut-that it did not look at all Hollywood-indeed, they were quite impressive. A wonderful splash of colour against the sombre lined crowd lining the wide cleared stretch of Whitehall which contains the Cenotaph down at one end. It had been drizzling, but a few moments before 11 AM, the sun straggled fitfully out for a moment, to disappear in the grey and impressive silencing of London for two minutes. Then the last post was played-followed by a hymn and prayers. But I was too far off to really appreciate the ceremony. Anyhow, the Londoners turned up in a big way. I came back here to get my coat. It was cool, but sunny, when I left. Quite cold and damp later. Sunny again now-and pleasantly the raise a shining into the room as I write, alongside the hot water heater thingummy in the room. Pleasant enough but not lively. Jolly good for such an afternoon as we tossed off in Narooma nearly 2 years ago. I have on my black suit, yellow tie, and a bright red poppy, the whole ensemble giving the effect of an emaciated, that animated Belgian flag rather appropriate for the day, but perhaps it would be an improvement if I were in some shades of red white and blue. Nothing of consequence to say that find it company to natter up a large and expensive air mail fee. However I suppose I should go out and carry on the good work. No galleries from me on Sunday. Hyde Park probably is the right thing. Yes to Hyde Park, by the end of this page. I still love you.
9 PM. Here’s the old minute writer back on the job.
Caught a bus down Oxford Street to the corner of Hyde Park and arrived about 2:30 PM. I think any other Sunday would have been all right for a normal Hyde Park session, that Armistice Day has changed the overall pattern. There were not many of the famous park orators in operation. No show worth speaking of. It, the park, is roughly 1½ miles long by ¾ mile wide, about half to ¾ the size of Centennial Park. It is mostly flat and open and has a curved lake known as the Serpentine in which ducks, and scullers, disport themselves. Alongside the lake one promenades up and down, ad nauseum. Completely isolated from the bustle of the traffic, the crowds find something of rest and idleness. The feeble afternoon sun kept up just enough illumination to make things affable. But by 4.30 its rays have had it. Cantered over to Rotten Row to gape at the horseman and women. But they seem to operate mostly on an empty stomach before lunch. Finally found my way round to Buckingham Palace, which it not as imposing as the great royal constructions of Paris or Vienna. Still hundreds and hundreds of English and foreigners walking around the outside hoping for some loyalty to appear-or failing that, crowding round, inspecting the poor wretched young sentinels do their marionette pacing up and down, and foot banging, he’ll stamping formal turns at the end of their allotted stretch. What a life. Walked up the rapidly darkening tree-lined and gas light Pall Mall and watched immediately put upon by cars and pedestrians whilst the myriads of starlings and pigeons search out a perching place along the cornices of the surrounding building. The starlings kicking up a frightful racket. Had a cuppa-and walked round to have a lousy Chinese meal. Came home tired and have been reading the paper for an hour. Tired now, and think I’ll shout myself some tea and toast, or such, in the lounge and so to bed. No pubs open today.
4 o’clock 12 November. Have just called down to Consol Press and they gave me all your letters. I am back at the pub and I am overwhelmed with the light that you should love me so much. I haven’t even had time to read all the notes returned from Bucaresti. I just am of a twit that you should be so sensible as to send them to me. I’ll have them like Spanish sherry-a sip at a time-I’ll extract all your affection slowly. My how the sparks will fly, when we meet! You are a honeydew, and just right for the picking. Sorry we have to hang out that extra flaming week. But I love you very much and a week more into the bargain. I’m tired of pushing around. I adore you so much I am going to run up the road and posters before I read all your early letters. I want you to know I am very happy indeed that you sent them. I am breathless with affection and I think I will celebrate with some Guinness Stout-it’s supposed to build you up no end-and seeing that the beer is crook I like it.
I caught a bus down to Chelsea this morning had a quick walk through and over the Thames to Battersea through Battersea Park and back across the river to the Tate Gallery which contains British paintings, modern European paintings, and modern sculpture. Was too gone in the leaks to stay long but will ride their next time. Called up to office and got the wonderful present. Am very happy. Have been a bit lonely in London. It is a big place-and pretty remote. Lacks the entertainment of the Gallic humanity. It was easier to watch in Paris. You are a very dear girl and I am your very sookie husband.