Very many thanks for a letter from you today dated 12th Feb, only just a month ago; splendid is’nt it. I also had 5 letters from Nell, all written while the dear child was staying at Delaford. How awfully good to her you all were, & ever so many thanks for it all. She thoroughly enjoyed herself & loved being with you – and she appreciated so tremendously the little things you gave her, that purple & white shawl, & that stool with “Teddie” on it (in daisies is’nt it?) I know it so well. She writes ripping letters about her visit, & let’s hope I’ll be there next time.
How cold you have been, frost an’ all, and skating. Here it has been, as I’ve told you I expect, very mild all the winter. It is lovely just now, & just perfect on the banks of the river here. The orange blossom is just coming out & the air is quite heavy with the smell of it. They got a lovely crop of oranges here, & we have lovely home-made marmalade for breakfast every day. You can see all the trees in front of the building in this photograph-
Mr Robbins been to see you! Talk about raking up the past! And now you mention Michael I remember him being born & called after the church was’nt he? or rather after the Saint, via the church, would probably be more accurate. I wonder if he’s had any more news of him.
So you’ve got on to Jim at last, & you say you think he might have been home in a fortnight after writing your letter. Perhaps by this time he has come & gone again. It seems I’ll be the last to get home, if Topher gets home in April- Dick & I came out here more or less the same time in ’15 did’nt we, but he’s been back since of course, so I think it’s really time I came back for a bit-
Yes, England seems a sorry place at the moment, strikes an’ all, & I’m sure we never get one quarter of the news in the papers. One hears stories of street fighting, complete with casualties, in Glasgow, & various other disturbances everywhere. But let’s hope it’s only the work of a few scatterbrained agitators, & that soon the British workman – a good fellow at heart, I firmly believe, but easily led by attractive impossibilities & a glib tongue- will settle down to his normal life. I hope too he gets better housing & possibly shorter hours.
The relief from war-strain must be so great, that the masses – with their lesser education and new-found pocket money – naturally suffer from a strong reaction, & I don’t think there’s any fear of Bolshevism at home. I may be quite wrong, as one gets so out of touch with things, & the papers hide the truth so & serve up strike pills in such liberal helpings of jam that it’s very hard to arrive at the real truth. Whatever it is, & however long it lasts, it must indeed be very inconvenient for you all-
How you made me laugh about Nell’s ration book being left at Tyler’s! She’s always leaving things about, remember she lost a bag in a train or taxi one day in London with me! I must come home & look after her, I can see that-
Sorry to hear old Drew has got so old. He’s certainly not spared himself in the war, & he’s had a good many anxieties I expect, so I’m afraid it’s inevitable that he should have aged a bit.
It’s lovely here on the river front, sitting in the shade of the orange trees, with lovely flowers all round, sweet peas, cornflowers, & great tall hollyhocks. And we can watch the big ships go by, coming up the river empty & going down a day or two later with cheering crowds of demobilized Tommies aboard. And the river is full of fussy little motor-boats too, containing joy-riders mostly I fancy but they make the scene a lively one.
Well, I start for India tomorrow, in the hospital ship VARELA- We get to Bombay in about 6 days I think, & then go into hospital there, & there we are “boarded” & they decide what to do with us, sick-leave, or back to duty, or whatever it is. I am, I hope, saying goodbye to Mesopotamia, at anyrate for the summer. Being invalided out of the country means, I suppose, that I lose my job. I’m sorry in a way, but it is made easier by the fact that the whole brigade is now – all the regiments whom we fought with in that last show have gone back to India, & all my friends have left.
And on the whole I want to get back to the regiment. I think I’ve been long enough away. I should like to get home for a bit this summer, & then bring Nell out to Lansdowne to a nice peaceful existence after the strenuous life of the last few years- But “Man proposes” etc, & I’m too old a plaything of Fate to make anything in the way of elaborate plans as far ahead as this.
So don’t expect a letter from me yet awhile, as these moves always interfere with one’s posts a bit. Write in future c/o Cox Bombay. I expect you will get a W.O. or I.O. wire saying I’ve been invalided; I’m not cabling as it takes nearly as long as a letter for a cable to reach home. I’m feeling alright, but not very strong, but am much better all round & only want a good rest to put me right. I simply could’nt stand another hot weather here. There goes the tea gong – it’s like boardship life here, we live from meal to meal!
Best love to all
yr loving son
Varela (half-way down)