Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine



Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine


Castigates his views expressed in last letter about her future plans and as he has vetoed them her alternative is to return to Hendon or stay in her current location with no possibility to see friends and relatives. Writes that Hendon is best and how she will cope. Continues with family news and views and continues argument about her future possible living arrangements. Continues with baby news, activities and how nice her landlords are. Comments on his course and progress and proposes writing every day as a way of helping her with her problems.



Temporal Coverage



Seven page handwritten letter


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Trefilan May 5th
Darling Johnnie, You really are a provoking boy. You start off, by saying you won't express an opinions about my going to the Babies Home, proceed for 2 pages to express quite forceful but not very reasonable opinions, & end up your letter by saying you would be “terribly disappointed “ if I went “baby farming” as you call it. Now what is a poor long-suffering wife to do? You pretty well veto, in an indirect way, the one possibility that's open to me at the moment, so I suppose the only alternatives for Frances & me are to return to Lido & take our chance, or stay here with some Mrs Williams or Jones with no possibility of seeing any friends or relations or congenial company. I think it will have to be Lido. Then I can have Jane in peace, & be able to look after the garden, tho' I shall have to have some domestic help & that's no joke nowadays. But I think you should have been a bit more reasonable over the Babies
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Home offer. I know that you were hurt by Ba's unnecessarily exuberant letter, but you must know that she, as well as you, is activated only by consideration of my welfare. If you seriously think of it, from [underlined] my [/underlined] point of view, you will realise that the Babies Home [underlined] is [/underlined] a better offer than Mrs Deas, since such important things as indoors modern sanitation & hot water are provided & I shouldn't be thrown for sole company on a single woman I don't know & her blind baby. As regards the work, I should say there's not much to choose – even here I do the washing-up, make my bed etc. It's impossible to live in anyone's house, unless there's a large staff of servants, & do nothing but look after one's baby.
If could find an alternative of my own, which neither you nor Ba nor anyone else had poured scorn upon, I would go there, however lousy it was, to save hurting everybody's feelings. Perhaps your people will suggest Priors Marston, & I'd accept that too. There's nothing in the New Statesman this week, & short of putting an advert.in myself I really don't know what I can do from here. Please try to be more
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constructive & helpful in your reply - I won't write anything definite to the B. Home yet. Would you object to my going there for 3-4 weeks to try it, as Miss Crow suggested? If you definitely don't want me to go there, for heaven's sake help me think of an excuse, because I can think of no possible reason for not accepting. You know that I don't want to hurt your feelings darling, but we must consider Frances first & foremost, & I think there's no doubt she'd be better in the country than at Lido, & better in an establishment specially run for babies than made to fit into a grown-up house over which I have no control. I will pass over your remark about “going into service” while Frances is so young & only point out that I should [underlined] like [/underlined] to be able to do some work which helps others especially children, in the 3 hour intervals between feeds, & that it's easier now while she sleeps the whole time than at 6 months say when she'll need far more looking after. It's 2 pm. Now so I must go & feed her, & anyway I mustn't upset myself any more or she'll get a tummy pain.
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4 pm. I took Frances into Aber. This morning to have her weighed – result, 10 lb 8 oz with her clothes on. That's only 10 oz gain counting clothes. I'll have her done again next week, & see what progress she makes now. She looks OK & has a lovely firm little body. Also long languorous eyelashes, you'll be pleased to hear. But she was very fretful yesterday, I was really worried about her, but I think it only because of a bit of a chill she has. I can't get out of my mind that diphtheria business at the Mat. Home. Tho' I don't believe, when I think about it rationally, that they would have allowed the babies to run any risk. She still wakes regularly at the mystic hour of 3.30 am. & doesn't generally go off properly again until I feed her. After that I sleep on, generally till nearly 9, have breakfast, bath & feed Frances, wash nappies, help wash-up & potter in the house, & then we have lunch at 12. wash-up again, feed Frances
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at 2, & then I'm generally free at 3 to write letters & read till tea at 5 or soon after, more feeding at 6 pm. & its generally after 7 by the time we settle down for the evening by the fire. We have a cup of cocoa or something before bed, & I give Frances her last feed after I'm in bed & make it as late as possible in the hope of tiding her over till 6 am. - but it's never come off yet. Yesterday afternoon Mrs Sandford was in so I took the opportunity to go for a walk, over the old stone bridge, through the fields past the farm & down the avenue, where I sat reading D. cop. for a time, & then returned. We're having glorious weather just now, & the budding trees look marvellous. I went across to call on Mrs Williams with Frances yesterday but she was out, & told Mrs Sandford she would come over here tomorrow. Her lodgers left today, but I think I'm better off here.
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The Sandfords are awfully nice in the way they try to cheer me up when I'm worried about Frances, telling me tales of fearful bouts of crying when Michael was a baby - & look at him now. They're really very kind, both of them. All the same I shall be glad when she learns to sleep thro' the night. You'd love to see her sitting on the potty, she looks so comic. She's actually performed in it once or twice, but more by accident than design.
So glad that your course is so comprehensive & thorough. I don't think you need fret about being able to manage it. After all they need observers & are not going to fail them all, & if anybody can get through,
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you certainly can. It's nice to think that you'll have such a good grasp of the business. I certainly think it would be a good thing to write to each other every day, however if one or the other should slip up sometime, the other one must not fret & imagine death & destruction at once. That's the only snag with daily correspondence. Otherwise I'm all for it. I've hardly missed a day since you went in any case, & I'm sure you haven't missed many. However, you must work hard, so even a short letter will do. Glad you went skating – what about flying over to Skye sometime for a climb? I'll get you some cigarettes when I go into town next. I'm sorry about the chocolate, I was relying
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on you when I leave here. I'd better start to lay in a small stock!
Darling, do write & help me with my problems. If you really had left the choice perfectly free to me, I should have gone to the B. Home for a few weeks on trial in any case, specially if they'd take Jane. But now of course I don't feel free to do that, & I'm in an awful pickle. Time goes so quickly, it will soon be Whitsun & I must move on. Anyway I want to get settled somewhere & not have this wretched feeling of being a transitory stranger all the time, living out of trunks & suitcases (only 2 small drawers were empty in my room, so I can't spread myself much!) Ought I to advertise in the NS&N do you think or shall I just go back to Lido & hope for the best? I must hurry to catch the 4.30 post now. Write soon dearest, & either say you'll leave it [underlined] entirely [/underlined] to me & not be disappointed & aggrieved at what I do, or else help me to decide on something else. Anyway, let's hope its only for a month or two, maybe soon we'll be together again.
All my love Ursula.




Ursula Valentine, “Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 2, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19565.

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