A long time coming…

Albert waits for a reply from home, wondering (can you imagine?) if the wait is due to bombs falling on his home town. And some of my readers have been waiting a long time for this post; the delay was not due to any act of aggression I can reassure you. My thanks to Brad of tokensofcompanionship for giving me the nudge I needed to get going again.

So, in Albert’s world the year remains 1942 and he remains in London awaiting news of his next posting. In the meantime Albert spends more time with Joyce, who begins to feature more in his letters, and takes advantage of the musical programme offered to lift the spirits of the population, at the famous hall that shares his name. Although actually most people called my uncle by his middle name, John!

The Royal Albert Hall

Friday May 29

Dear All, I have  not yet received a reply  to my letter written on Monday night.  I hope that it reached you safely.  I heard that Southampton was bombed on Tuesday morning, so hope that’s had nothing to do with the delay.  I understand that it was the docks.

 The delay in writing this one is partly due to not having heard from you; chiefly due to my forgetting how the days has gone.  Well, on Tuesday evening I went to Joyce’s again.  She works until 7.30 this week and does not reach home until about eight, that her mother and one of her friends were there and I talked and later had supper, making an enjoyable evening of it.  I have got the correct buses and so forth all right now and did not take so long on the journey as before.

 On Wednesday night I went with another fellow to the Albert Hall and heard the concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the second half of which was broadcast.  I am sending the programme so you will see all about it.  There are also the items of Thursdays concert which I also heard, and possibly you did too.

We got 1/- seats and sat in the centre floor, and rather annoyingly heard the famous echo to full and devastating effect.  However, we enjoyed it very much especially the Tchaikovsky (my latest records).  It is an easy journey to two 2d buses, changing at Hyde Park Corner.  Maida Vale Road, at the bottom of Hall Road is the main road to the Northwest suburbs and there are plenty of buses running.  Along there too are our nearest shops, though a good number of them are blitzed.

Last night I went alone, as the other fellow was going out with his father (he lives in East Ham). First I went to Leicester Square to get a ticket at the Cambridge Theatre for the piano recital on Sunday. That place doesn’t appear to want my patronage as the box office was then shut, and so I made my way via Leicester Square, Haymarket, and Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace, and thence to Hyde Park Corner, where I caught the bus.

It was very pleasant walking under the trees there, the London Parks are not vastly different, in spite of the barbed wire and barrage balloons.

I had lingered too much though and arrived a trifle late. Dashing up to the box office one of the doormen asked me if I was going to get a ticket for “upstairs”. I said “yes” and he handed me a complimentary ticket for the gallery (2/6). The echo was not so bad there and since the seats are in tiers, one has a better view of the proceedings. There were not a great many people up there, and I had a bit more leg room than on the floor, so altogether I had a very enjoyable evening’s outing for only 7d!

The weather has lately been very showery, especially towards the evenings, but one fortunate thing is that there has been a fair amount of wind to prevent the weather from being too warm.

Well, I can’t think of much else to say, though I seem to have been doing enough to keep all my time occupied. This afternoon we got a ‘maths test’ which, from all accounts, is of quite an elementary nature. Most of our time though is quite wasted, and often we get pretty bored with the place. A rumour was going round that we should be here until June 20 at least – that will be quite long enough, and quite expensive enough too. The next payday I understand to be on Thursday, though I am alright so far as regards money. The chief trouble is the amount spent on fares etc, it is about 4d to get anywhere.

The mail has just come up, and again nothing from you. I expect this will arrive tomorrow some time. Well love to all etc, from Albert.

In Albert’s next letter we hear of another visit to the Albert Hall, a visit to see his friend Joan and a visit to Joyce’s. Albert also visits Hampstead Heath, and his comment comparing the famous heath to the not so famous Southampton Common, reminded me what a lovely place the latter is. My father said it was untouched since mediaeval times, which might not (knowing my Dad) be 100% true, but it is certainly a beautiful sem-wild expanse of green, filled with Hampshire oaks, in the heart of the city.

Monday June 1st (glorious)

Dear All, I have just packed up a parcel, containing dirty underwear, socks, handkerchiefs & the leggings. I have also just noticed that I still have the map here. I must send it next time (if I remember that is). You will see that most of the bulk of this consists of the letters by Phil and Raymond, which I have at last remembered, and which I have yet to reply to. I believe I forgot to tell you that Phil’s letter arrived safely, on Tuesday or Wednesday I believe it was.

Your parcel arrived on Saturday morning or Friday evening; the delay was doubtless due to the ‘Road/Place’ of the address, as I have just received your letter of May 30 and you seemed to have got my letter in good time. By the way, do not worry if the parcel does not arrive as soon as this – I do not know when it will be posted: it depends when the local Post Offices shut. I was going to send a card on Saturday evening to say that the parcel had arrived, but when I got to the post office found that the last collection was at 6.30. Apparently that is usual: at Blackpool there was one at about 9pm.

Yesterday I went to Watford as my friend was home for “Whitsun” leave. After a good dinner we went back to London and tried to get in to the Albert Hall, but were unsuccessful, so then we went to a Lyons and had teas and then to Hampstead Heath & back to Watford & billet respectively.

I wonder if you had the thunder shower we had at about 3pm. It rained quite heavily for 20 minutes or more and then left off abruptly and the sun started to shine, after which the weather was very good and the evening was really lovely. We had a church parade in the morning (Every Sunday morning here) and the weather then was none too promising.

You may remember that I said last week I was told that there was plenty of room in the Albert Hall. This week the whole musical population seemed to have turned up in force, and were queuing for miles around the hall and in front of the box office. They must have been there early too, as one fellow who got there even earlier said he was unable to get in. I suppose it is because Tchaikovsky is so popular.

A Contemporary view of Southampton Common

Nonetheless I quite enjoyed it after the rain finished, and Hampstead Heath is a pleasant place in fine weather, rather reminiscent of The Common in places.

On Friday and Saturday I went to Joyce’s. One of those days I had a tomato – the first for this year. They had just got some tomato plants and put them out on Saturday morning. I expect yours are in by now. Afternoon on Saturday I spent watching the gardening and helping a little, but not too much, for fear my efforts might not be too successful. Then in the evening to Studio One to see ‘Fantasia’. It was a long wait to get in and by that time the only part of the programme left to be shown was ‘Fantasia’ and the news, but it was even then a 2 hours programme and a very enjoyable one too. You would probably not like all of it, but it is of such an unusual nature. It is all very interesting and some of it, the “Nutcracker” suite (Sugar Plum fairy etc) was delightful, and one of the best things I have seen for a long time.

The Micky Mouse “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” was very funny, more on the usual Disney lines of course, and so was the “Dance of the Hours”, a burlesque of it really, with ostriches, elephants, hippopotami and crocodiles doing the ballet. If it is on for long I might go again.

This week there are two concerts at the Albert Hall, but I do not know if I shall get to both. We are also due to be on guard at some time, Tues or Weds most probably.

I was glad that my pen has at last arrived, and am looking forward to seeing it in the next few days. By the way, do you still want cigarettes (at the high price I’m afraid) as I think I can get fair quantities of them, also tobacco, so if you are short let me know before I leave London. Leaving London reminds me that it appears that the course will be three weeks here. I believe I have said all that before, but that is an indication that I have no more to say, except goodbye and love from Albert.

16 thoughts on “A long time coming…”

  1. It’s good to hear from Albert again! He seems to be having fun in London. I was surprised when he said that his time there was mostly wasted, but he may have been referring specifically to time spent on military duties. He may have been feeling impatient to get on with his training. Still, the rhythms of the city must have been exciting for him.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I can imagine it must have been hard if you didn’t hear from your loved ones when expected, during the war. Still ,Albert is pretty matter-of-fact, not getting very emotional. Perhaps he’s better off that way.
    I agree with Brad, he seems to take advantage of London in the best way – lovely!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thanks as always for producing these Louise. Having a cheese and tomato filled sandwich for lunch vs Albert’s one first tomato of the year is another reminder of how much has changed. Merry Xmas all xx

    Liked by 2 people

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