Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine



Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine


Writes how she is looking forward to joining him in Aberystwyth and that she is working hard to get things ready. Mentions her activities and catches up with local news. Says all clear has gone a couple of times before midnight and discusses night time duties. Continues with other gossip and issues concerning family disagreement, impending birth and her decision to join him. Continues with discussion about the shelter and that gardener had not been since Christmas. Concludes with long discussion of chess moves.



Temporal Coverage



Twelve page handwritten letter


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Lido, Monday 13th
Darling Johnnie, thanks so much for your letter of Thursday & Friday. You bet I should love to help you with your swotting wherever I can. I am looking forward tremendously to going to Aber. & am working hard to get things ready this end. On Saturday afternoon I painted the clothes horse which I am making into the screen & started covering it yesterday – I should have finished it if old Greenish had not popped in with the fire-watching rota which I had offered to type for him, & had he not stayed for nearly an hour chatting. It was chiefly about one more than usually exciting meeting on Friday, when young Evans came storming in & said the whole business was a silly waste of time & neither he nor
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Nancy were going to take part – which of course makes it all the worse for those remaining. I asked him whether Nancy would be prepared to take over my share when I go, so that two houses would not be thrown on to the others, & I should not feel quite such a cad etc. - I hope my warning was clear to him. I must go round & see if she will really do it, as he agreed she would. They are all very sweet to me, & old Pope next door said afterwards that if I was too tired anytime he would do my shift for me, which I thought very decent of him. Actually the all-clear has gone before midnight on several occasions recently & we have now decided only to watch if a raid is on. Mr Pope has undertaken to wake me up if a siren goes during my spell of duty, which is also good of him, as I should
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never hear it on my own – he probably doesn't realise what a job he has undertaken! Since the defection of the Evans & the amalgamating of Helen Greenish with their maid (since Helen is considered too young & the maid too dumb to do a watch on their own) the shifts come round every 3rd instead of 4th night, but while the raids continue short & sharp at the beginning of the evening it is OK. by us.
I have saved the last piece of wedding cake to bring with me – hope I don't forget it! I don't need your Mother's honey – you keep it, a perhaps if you still have it we shall eat it together as light refreshments during the swotting sessions! As regards “What I said & she said”, the conversation with your Mother was as follows:- First general chat, I gave her your new address & so on, & when that dried up I said “Oh-er-ah-ahem,
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as regards my going down to P.M. it seems to us that perhaps it would be better for all concerned if I didn't go after all, we seem to have had a spot of bother each time I've been, & I think it's very important that I should keep calm & serene for the baby's sake”... or words to that effect. Your Mother said it was of course just as I liked, I must decide for myself, but remarked I must let Huwe Kerr know. So I said I had already written a letter but not yet posted it as I wanted to speak to her about it first. I asked her if she didn't agree that perhaps it was wise so, but she didn't commit herself that far but just said I must do as I thought best. Then I said we hadn't yet fixed up anything else but I would let her know when we had, we wanted something in the way of a maternity hospital out of London. That was about all – she said she would ring up again sometime
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but of course she hasn't & I'm afraid she won't. A couple of days later the nappies arrived without any enclosed letter.
Maybe you would have thought up something more tactful, but whether that in the long run would have been better I don't know. I told her the truth, & whatever reason you might have given I think they would have realised the real reason behind it - & surely they would rather be treated as adults & spoke to truthfully & openly than have unpleasant matters buttered up? After all your Mother has said may times that we were free to do as we liked, & when she hears that we have arranged for me to be near you, surely she'll understand that that is the best possible arrangement from my point of view. As soon as it is all fixed up I think I shall ring her up & tell her what we've fixed – perhaps I should
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even go over to Barnet one afternoon before I leave (without Jane of course!!) anyway, do write to your father as usual. By the way, did you get my letter enclosing one from Ann, Leslie, your father, aunt Mary & Grannie? I had a p.c. from Grandma (Arbroath) the other day acknowledging the sock wool & saying she would be delighted to make three & wishing me all the best – good thing I got in first with that! What an odd handwriting she has!
The state of affairs as regards the shelter is just where it was. The gardener hasn't been for several weeks, not since Christmas & the odd thing is I owe him 6/- for the last time he came when I wasn't here to pay him. It's a nuisance, specially since I don't know his name & address. I wanted him to go to the
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allotment, dig up some of the remaining stuff & arrange to remove the rest before a new tenant comes in, also bring our tools home, they are a bit heavy for me; & then I want to arrange for him to come at least during April once or twice to do the spring sowing of vegetables up at the top of the garden. It will be so late when I get back, even at the beginning of May. But I don't know how to get hold of the blighter – do you know anywhere else he works?
I liked your story of the commercial traveller, but haven't one to cap it just now. I will certainly try to get you a book on aircraft recognition when you let me know about the two you have up there. [underlined] Now [/underlined] young man, as regards this chess move. You say your move was Bish takes Pawn C8 – G4. According
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to underlined] my [/underlined] version of the affair, your pawn D7 is still in its original position so that Bishop C8 can't get out. According to my calculation I have made 4 moves (being white) & you are making your 4th, the first 2 being pawns E, G & H7 each slipping forward. But pawn D7 is still at home. This is how my board stands at present [small drawing of chess board] Let me know whether you repent or not. I can't make up my mind whether this is a deliberate cheat like several you tried to put across me at Stratford, or merely a lapse of memory due to over-work! I return some washing (including a hanky of Pratt's!) & the 3rd pair of Mother's socks. I am now lengthening a pair she sent you earlier on. I bought a lovely low chair for nursing & bathing for 2/6 here, & am now going to enamel that cream too. The screen really looks rather sweet. All my love Ursula
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P.S. Your letter enclosed in NS&N has just arrived – poor boy, it's a shame for you to have so much running about to do when you have so little spare time. Funny that the Dr. should be called Brunell, that is the name of the medico who attended Mother when I was born!
As regards the digs, you obviously can't tell from a short inspection what a place is like to live in, but if you can find somewhere reasonable to take me at first, I can scout round when I get there if it turns out unsatisfactory. Incidentally, the idea of 'apartments' where I could do my own cooking is quite attractive, if that is what 'apartments' means. Perhaps you could find out. Maybe you shouldn't mention
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my going back after baby is born, that is probably easier for me to do when I have got to know the people & they me, whereas if it is made any sort of condition of my going there, it is very likely to frighten people off. I should feel like that myself whereas if I like my lodger I might be willing to take her plus baby just for a week say, “to oblige”
I realise that the date is a difficulty & will let you have a definite one as soon as poss. Probably Sat. Feb.1st. If it is really not possible to get digs where I can have Jane, we shall just have to send her back to Miss Clift for the whole 3 months, I shall be very sorry, but perhaps it will save complications, & we shall be sure that she is well looked after – maybe she will remember it too. I will write [inserted] have written [/inserted] to Miss Clift straight away to enquire if she could take her if necessary &
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what she would charge. It would certainly mean least upset for Jane, & I could just have her back when I am settled in again down here. It is probably the best thing on the whole, but as I said, I shall miss her terribly!
As for your crack about my 'veterinary illness', I should not on the whole have classed you among the beasts of the field, but perhaps you are right. Does this mean that I am a bugger??? I liked your Thomas Beecham story too. Don't you think perhaps you ought to book the Nursing Home without too much delay? We really should be in a spot if I couldn't go there after all, the digs admit of various solutions & compromises & the question of 'afterwards' can also be solved later.
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I still hope it will not be necessary for you to come back to Hendon, Ba has said that she would send on anything I need, she knows all my belongings & the things for the baby. I think I shall only have one largish suitcase full of baby's effects & a smaller one of my own, & of course baby's can come as goods if necessary. There is no hurry for it. I think you might book the most suitable digs you can find for Feb 1st. [underlined] definitely [/underlined] & if I can get away earlier, maybe they could take me or if not I could surely get something for a week, or else wait till Feb 1st. But it's difficult to promise the week earlier, & anyway the new month seems a good beginning. We [underlined] must [/underlined] find some solution for afterwards, I am so looking forward to being with you for these last 2 months. Have bought a Hotwater bottle with Irene's token – may get you a tobacco pouch for birthday if you are good. All my love Ursula.




Ursula Valentine, “Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19543.

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