Dad loved competitions, especially ones which required a slogan. He actually won a National Coal Board competition with the slogan,’Keep the home fires burning’ which was hardly original. Many of his entries involved dreadful puns. The prize for the National Coal-board Competition was a home movie camera, projector and screen. However, the film was very expensive and dad was always so economical with it that a screening might show me aged eleven building a snowman followed a moment later by a clip of Chris’s standing proudly behind his prize vegetable marrows. Years later we sat down to watch some film and realised that the expanding glow on the screen was a projection of the film catching fire.
Lynne and Mandy were my cousins, daughters of my uncle Arthur and Auntie Dulcie who lived near the next village , Barwell. Lynne was about my age and very neat and pretty. She had a sweet personality but we had little in common so when my family visited and were thrown together I think we were both at a bit of a loss. She wore pretty, gauzy dresses and her bedroom was immaculate. I hardly knew Mandy. Auntie Dulcie, their mother was a lovely warm person.
Dad got into the habit of sending me a sprig of rosemary each week in his letters. Today bits of dried rosemary still tumble out from the envelopes.
March 3rd 74
My Dear Joy,
Drat the election 74-I’m fed up to the teeth with it. It has even encroached into my weekly letter to you. When I came home for dinner the TV was on bringing the results and Labour was 49 sets ahead. But from hen on the lead dwindled rapidly until there were only four between them. Chris came home for his dinner with the laughing remark that it was almost as exciting as a football match. But for the country’s sake it is very far from a laughing matter and there must almost certainly be another election in the near future. I wish they’d all swing along together and sort out the mess we seem to have drifted into instead of wasting time on endless wrangling.
It’s been bitterly cold. There was a goodish fall of snow last night but today it is very mild and a wet slushy mess everywhere. It’s been an uneventful week. Tuesday, of course, was Pancake Day . Do you keep the tradition up? Went with mam to the Shrove Tuesday Mother’s Union Social and entertained with the bells. Apart from the vicar and four others from Carton Hayes we were the only males present, so feeling out of my element. I wasn’t thrilled.
Mandy’s party-18th birthday tomorrow and I’m not too thrilled about going there either. They go their way and we hardly see anything of them-as distinct from Auntie Lil and Uncle George-where I feel there is always a welcome. But perhaps it is unfair to discriminate.
Hope things are going well with your health and studies. Tell Mike it would be a pleasure to see his hand- and to read about his school life and prospects. By the way, as I was getting the rosemary for you last week a friend passing by asked me what I was doing. When I told him it was for you to strike he said, Tell her to cut it down the stem with a sharp knife , slip in a match-stick and then plant.’ I had to smile as I was posting it and wondered if the postman would suspect a letter-bomb.
Was surprised to hear of Sonia only getting a £17 a week job and £10 rent out of that. Surely with her training she can do better.
Chris surprised us this week, and no doubt you too, with the long supplement he sent you. Almost it seemed as if he was doing a test essay paper. We ribbed him about a share of royalties when it was published. I bet you’ll treasure that for a long time to come for I feel that it will be a long time before you get another such effort from your brother-much as he thinks of you.
And now in conclusion I appeal for your help in another competition I’ve taken on and feel really keen about. On the enclosed entry form there are 9 questions of which I have satisfactorily filled in six. The other three are what I need-No 2 [Stratford] , No 7 [Oxfordshire ] and No 9 [Belfast]. I’ve spent quite a while looking up in the library but those three I can’t fathom. Perhaps you or some of your friends could crack them, I’d be really pleased. I feel so near and in with a chance and I’ve a slogan made out
Fancy, first prize at whist this week and with mam second folks will think it’s a put up job. Anyway, I will save up towards the Big Day when I come up to see my lass step forward –will I be proud? I’ll say. And now once again all our love and safe keeping always. Dad