Letter to Dick Curnock from Arthur Woodhead



Letter to Dick Curnock from Arthur Woodhead


The letter thanks Dick Curnock for sending photographs and a letter. He describes a short holiday in Manchester and discusses prices of meals, drinks and taxis.




Temporal Coverage



Four handwritten sheets and an envelope


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U/S posting wef 13/1 [postmark] [postage stamps]

[indecipherable word] 201/239 WINB

W. [deleted] O. WARD A. OR SGT. D. CURNOCK,


59, Minehead St,



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From:- 167580 F/L Woodhead A.


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167580 F/L Woodhead. A.

c/o 83, Tennyson Avenue,



15th January 1946

Dear Dickie

Thanks for the photographs and letter it was very good of you to remember me. If you happen to come across any others I would be very pleased to have a copy. Did any of ‘Jacks’ photographs ot the ones taken in the ‘yard’ come out if so send them please.

The journey was quite uneventful and the whole procedure is very smooth. The train left Treviso at midnight on Friday the 3rd and by 1800 hrs on Wednesday the 8th I was a free man (?). The customs people were quite lenient to anyone who was honest enough to declare everything, and in most cases charged either nothing at all or a nominal twenty or thirty shillings. Frankly I got away without paying a single penny though I did declare everything I could think of.

Just a little higher up I put the words ‘a free man’ with a very large question

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mark after them, you may think this somewhat eccentric, but if you are leaving the R.A.F., you will see the logic of the question mark in due course. This civilian life is governed by more laws than there are in the whole of KR’s and A.C.I.’s, and S.R.O’s are published every day through a medium once known as the ‘free press’ (?). (That question mark has crept in again.) There are plenty of jobs going in ‘civvy street’ today, for example you can be a coal-miner, a brick layers assistant, (it takes 2 years to become a qualified bricklayer) and numerous other jobs in the same category. My wife and I had quite a good four day holiday in the Midland Hotel in Manchester, bed and breakfast was only 2/10/- per night and dinner was recognised as being quite reasonable ay 15/- per head for three courses (without bread.) I know the maximum charge for a dinner is 5/- but at this place, in fact at most places, there is a cover charge of 5/-, a 5/- service charge and 5/- for dinner. For our first drink [deleted] at [/deleted] in U.K., four of us went to the Euston Hotel in London and we had four half pints of lager (no beer) the cost of these four half pints was 6/6, and anything

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less than a 2/- tip caused the barman to go on strike. Incidently [sic] ‘striking’ is apparently the recognised method of earning a living. Another strange innovation which has found its was [sic] into our lives is method of obtaining a taxi for your benefit I will outline the procedure. First fall down flat on your face as if completely exhausted, cry out to heaven in a loud voice for mercy on your tormented body. The taxi driver then does one of two things, either runs over you or offers, (in a very haughty manner), to permit you to ride in his taxi. On any fare below 5/- he expect [sic] a tip equivalent to 100% of the fare, on fares between 5/- and 10/- a 75% tip is anticipated and on all fares over 5/- a 50% tip is the order of the day. As this seemed to be quite a lucrative profession. I have endeavoured to get in it, but I was told that it is a ‘closed shop’ or in other words only available if Mr. Morrison likes you. Nearly all questionnaires for jobs contain the following questions, ‘Did you vote labour at the last election? Do you intend to vote labour at the next election? Do you like the labour government? Are you prepared to say ‘Heil Morrison’? Have you read ‘Mein Kamp’

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by Herbert Morrison, if not you are uneducated. Have you more than 15/- to your name? if so you are a capitalist. Are you an ex-serviceman? if so you were a fool weren’t you! So it goes on ‘ad infinitum’. Incidently [sic] I can put you in the know for a job which has many advantages, e.g. security, a bed, three meals a day and money too, it is known as the ‘Services.’ If you are there already [underlined] do not leave [/underlined] .

Sorry to sound so bitter but really there is no England anymore but only a country known as ‘Labour Utopia,’ or ‘Alice + Bevan in the Underground.’ Crazy isn’t it but that’s how I feel.

I am addressing this letter to Alec and you just in case you have come to this country before it gets to Italy.

Cheerio for now and

enjoy yourselves.

Arthur Woodhead.

P.S. Tell Alec that I shall be back in 56 days time.



Arthur Woodhead, “Letter to Dick Curnock from Arthur Woodhead,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 26, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22343.

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