Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Writes he is in a happy frame of mind having been reassured about her. Continues with daily activities and reports on hunt for accommodation for her and mentions problem with pets. Discusses cost of accommodation. Mentions cold weather cancelled games replaced with cross country run where he came second. Continues with description of days activity, mention strain times from London. Will continue with hunt for accommodation tomorrow and her travel. Concludes with long list of replies to all the matters she raised in her last letter.



Temporal Coverage



Eight page handwritten letter


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1251404 AC2 Valentine
D flight 1 Squadron
Queens Hotel,

Friday 17/1/41

My Dearest Darling, I am feeling in a very happy frame of mind tonight. Having been reassured about you last night. Your NS&M & parcel of fags etc. arrived today, each with its lovely long letter. There were no other letters between them & the one of Friday 10th (about your coming here) were there? I hope not because I hate missing anything that might come from you. Apart from the pleasure of your letters I have had a very satisfactory day in other ways.
In the morning break, I called at an address which Teddy Cook had given me & although I have not yet clinched the matter, there is a free room & the lady has promised to keep it for me if I let her know by Sunday. I was favourably impressed by her for she did not appear to be grubbing for money although the room is not cheap. She has only recently got rid of the last tenant & wanted a rest for a week or two before taking anyone else, so that if you don't come before 1st Feb it will suit her quite well although she will be quite pleased to have you if you turn up before. As regards Jane she was undecided but very pleasant about it. She likes dogs herself, but got rid of her own for the sake of her boarders, & she said that because of the other tenants she would rather not have her. I asked about kennels & she told me she know of a gentleman who looks after dogs who she thought would be willing to help. My suggestion, with which she agreed, is that you bring Jane & we board her for the nights while you collect her & have her company during the day. I think that if we start like this, with a little tact on your part & by sounding your fellow lodgers, you will be able to persuade the good lady to allow Jane fairly soon. As to terms, they do not sound too good. Apartments cost £1-1-0 per week; full board £2-2-0. The latter seemed expensive but another place I tried this evening which looked far less pleasant wanted to charge the same. I have tried the 30/- rooms I mentioned before, but as I told you, I was not at all impressed either by the landlady or the house which looked dirty & dingy. I have discovered the meaning of apartments which is, in this case, that for £1-1-0 you have the use of the room & attention buy your own food which she cooks for you. It sounds a proposition to me if your food will cost less than £1-1-0 per week & you are willing to do your own buying. I was only there for a few minutes because I had only a short break, but I was very much taken by the landlady & I think I will book it on Sunday if I don't find better. You can always do a bit of prospecting yourself & change if you wish. I think too that if she gets to like you, she might be persuaded to take you with your child for a week or two after your discharge from the home.
We are frozen hard here & snow covered, with the result that today's games consisted of a compulsory cross country run. I ran like hell & finished second, only a yard or two behind the leader, had a hurried bath (almost cold) & went out on the prowl having an hour to spare. My first call was the station where I learnt that the best train for you is 11.5 am (Paddington, I think) arriving here at 6.30 pm. I shall be free at that hour any evening (subject to extra duties such as guards etc) so that you can come down any day & I shall be able to meet you. I then went to the publicity bureau & copied the list of vacant apartments. I don't know where half of them are but I managed to find four of them which were fairly close to the Queens. Two were full, one I didn't like the look of & therefore didn't try, while the fourth had a free room & the terms were the same as the above. She would be willing to take Jane but I was not at all impressed by the landlady, the house looked uncomfortable & it is a little further from the Queens than the first place. I told her of your condition & she said quite definitely that she wouldn't take you & baby, whereas the first lady made no comment.
In any free time tomorrow (if games are again cancelled) or on Sunday & will devote to the same quest but if I am not satisfied by any fresh discoveries I shall make a definite booking with my first girl friend & send you the full address. Her house is small & quite ordinary, has no view, your room is small & I forgot to ask if we could have a fire in it but it will do to begin with. I shall also write to the Nursing home if I don't get a chance of going in person to make a definite booking. I also called in the Orderly Room for a voucher for your travel but foolishly told the Sergeant that you wouldn't be coming for a fortnight. Apparently the form only takes a few minutes to write out instead of the usual RAF 10 days & he wouldn't bother himself saying that I had plenty of time. I shall go in early next week & say that you are coming sooner than anticipated so that if I get it you will be able to come at the earliest possible opportunity. Your letters call for a dickens of a lot of replies & I must dash them off, although I ought to be doing a spot of work. However, when you are here the time devoted to writing to you will be saved, unless I spend more than that time kissing you.
Here goes, then (in an awful hurry) 1) Don't like your doing fire watching every third night – Don't like it at all. 2) Thanks for saving wedding cake. 3) Got all letters from Ann etc. tore them up after reading. 4) Chess move wants time – I know you're wrong but will correct you later. 5)I DON'T understand your wisecrack about your 'veterinary illness' & where on earth is the connection between that and 'B...? I blush with shame to think of the word but I fairly chortled when I saw it in your handwriting. I am quite baffled though, for I cannot see what the connection is. 6) Do you mind solving the vegetable problem. What with digs, swotting & writing to you I honestly haven't a spare moment. 7) Shelter – have you told the gardener of my suggestion. Line it with tar or pitch & for the life of me I cannot see why it won't be water proof. Anyway we must have it done so tell him to go right ahead. We'll think of the cash later. 8) Frequency of gardener's visits a) On shelter – tell him to come entirely at his own convenience. b) On garden – I don't think he need come until end March/beginning April, if everything is done now. He will be idle until spring sowing starts. 9) Paying Gardener a) for materials – give him your address & tell him to send bills or write for money. b) For wages – I suggest that you leave say £1 or £2 with Mrs Heath & ask her to pay him at his proper rate. It won't bother her much & I feel sure that she wouldn't mind lending you a helping hand in that way. It will also serve to keep a check on the man. 10) the odd 2/6 in Income Tax a/c you may have as a little gift – a token of my regard. 11) Don't pay full allotment rent. We gave proper notice in accordance with our agreement & cannot be held liable after 25th March unless we keep the plot. Be firm on this. 12) Dreadfully sorry to hear that you were in tears. You have a lot to do. If I get time, I will jot down a few notes of things I think you ought to do before you leave. Cheer up darling & come to me as soon as you can. 13) Damn the cost, when you're here we'll know all about it soon enough & you might get away from London. MUST STOP LOVE JOHN



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 4, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19174.

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