Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine



Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine


Writes of daily domestic activities and visits from friends. Mentions financial arrangements with her sister and that she will be able to manage household on RAF money and other income. Catches up with family and baby news. Commiserates over his poor living conditions. Concludes with more news of domestic activities.




Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



Tow page typewritten letter


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Lido, 1st August.
Darling Johnnie, today has seemed awfully bleak without a letter from you. To make things worse, Barbara went up to town at 10.15 am to a National Gallery concert, so that I have been alone since then until tomorrow morning. However, I've been pretty busy. I have tackled the question of the bathroom black-out & solved it, I hope satisfactorily, by buying 1 ½ yards of table oilcloth from Woolworths in a green & white pattern similar to the one on the kitchen table & cut this in half to make two blinds to roll up like those nasty bits of corrugated cardboard did, only reaching right up over the small windows as well. They really cover the windows & I think they would be light-proof alone, but anyway with the black curtains they are absolutely OK. So that's a good deed done, & they will be more permanent & tidier than the cardboard.
This afternoon I attacked the shelter rockery, & cleared it up a bit. You remember it was almost overgrown with weeds. I discovered quite a number of rock plants underneath, you will be glad to hear, mostly aubretia & saxifrage, primulas & forget-me-nots. When the gardener came the other day to do the second half day I had already paid for, he finished digging the vegetable plot (you remember it wasn't dug right up to the tree), & also brought some celery plants, dug a trench & planted them. They look very flourishing, & he would not let me pay for them. He says he will bring cabbage & savoy plants too, which is very decent of him. The garden is looking far better now, & I am steadily using away at the small carrots & onions, & the peas are doing fine.
Tomorrow two friends of Barbara's are coming to tea & to see the baby, so I've got a cake in the oven which will also do if Peter comes down this weekend as he threatens. The weather is apparently so rotten up there that he thought he would come down here for the weekend if his petrol runs to it. The financial arrangement which Barbara & I have come to is a hybrid affair, & I'm not sure that I really understand it. She is going to give me £5 a month out of the £10 which Grindlays are paying direct to her, which leaves her with £5 & her pay (which is what she had before), & the £15 is being paid to my account as before & I can consider myself free to draw on £5 of it for housekeeping if necessary. This means that we don't have to alter our instructions to our bankers, & if we part again all will be in order. If I can manage the housekeeping on my RAF money & Barbara's £5 a month, the other £5 in the bank will be real saving. From Barbara's point of view she must be making slightly since it cost her more than £5 a month to live at Miss Henry's. Is this alright, do you think? It looks to me as though I may easily have to draw on the extra £5, everything's such a shocking price, specially what little fruit there is. Cherries are now 3/- per lb, which is just plain robbery but it is practically the only fresh fruit available, at the height of the summer season too, which we had all longed for so much during the winter!
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Your Mother told me this morning over the phone that Leslie has gone on a month's course, she thinks it is to do with tanks but Leslie didn't say much about it. And Irene the other day was in a guard of honour at some function or other of the RAF in which Jim Valentine figured, & he apparently shouted out “Good heavens, there's cousin of mine” or something like that, much to Irene's embarrassment as she wasn't supposed to be twitching a muscle. Your Mother says she is coming over to see me one day soon, which is very decent of her. I must get the garden looking it's most respectable. I had a spot of bother with Frances yesterday. She hadn't been to the potty satisfactorily for two days in spite of a dose of magnesia, so I had to resort to a soap suppository, with much fear & trembling on my part. However, it worked, & she is functioning properly again today, so that's alright. I didn't enjoy having to shove it up her, all the same.
I do hope to receive more cheerful news of your living conditions soon, it is rotten that you should be so overcrowded & badly housed. I hope you get decent billets in Ramsay. I'm sending you some cake, shop made this time I'm afraid as I haven't much fruit for making fruit cakes & they are the ones that travel & keep best. I will also enclose as many cigarettes as I have been able to scrounge, which won't be many I'm afraid. Congratulations on your good behaviour so far. If you prefer you could just put GB or BB as the case may be (meaning of course Good Boy or Bad Boy) & if I succumb to my besetting sin of crying I will also inform you. So far I have been most exemplary. I don't know what could have made me sick last night, I woke up at about 3 am & was ever so sick into the baby's potty. I feel alright now.
The work of clearing out cupboards & drawers & de-mothing them progressing gradually. I never seem to get very long at a stretch to do any big job; even if I do do all the mopping & dusting before breakfast, baby & the shopping seem to take up the rest of the morning so that it is only between 3 & 5 pm that I can do any other job, or late in the evening. Once or twice Barbara & I have been thoroughly wicked & played cards in the evenings, when we were too fed up with washing & cleaning to do any turning out – something really devilish like Racing Demon or Pelmanism. It's surprising what a pleasant change it makes! It will make a tremendous difference if Mrs Stenzel comes, there are so many jobs she can help me with which are not strenuous but take up a lot of my time. If Mrs Somerville continues to come 3 times a week for the scrubbing & harder work we shall manage beautifully.
I'll stop now, darling, for tonight, & hope to get a letter from you tomorrow to reply to. You do write such lovely long ones, I enjoy them ever so. I bet Rowan will be glad if you all get billeted in the town, the blighter!

Saturday Thanks so much for your letter of 30th. I'm glad you're safely billeted tho' it doesn't sound too inviting. I've sent off a parcel of cake & cigarettes to your new address today. Hope you soon get your sense of taste back. All my love, Ursula



U M Vakentine, “Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 25, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19585.

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