No mail in yet, & I hear too they are starting a bi-weekly mail from India, though I think bi-weekly means twice a week, does’nt it? I really forget! Anyhow I mean the mail is going to leave India for home only twice a month in future, every other week in fact, so heaven alone knows when our letters will reach you.
I last wrote on 31st. Nothing much has happened since then. We gave 3 concerts last week, calling ourselves the Pipsqueaks. They all went off very well, but I find that I have’nt got time to worry about these things so I’ve chucked it. You see we are in camp 2 miles up stream, and it means a long journey in to the Club for rehearsals, in the heat of the day too, or else a long journey down after dinner & a hopelessly late bed-going, & these days of getting up at 4.30 it’s not good enough. It’s the getting back is so hard, upstream against the current in a bellum is almost impossible, besides bellums won’t run at night, so one is done in.
Fortunately last week I managed to cadge a car one night, as I couldn’t get across the river, all bellums being in bed & the bridge of boats being open to allow river traffic to pass. You see our camp is on the other side as well as being 2 miles away. So I got this old car, & went a huge long way round over another bridge much lower down & home that way, 5 or 6 miles, which I should have had to have walked otherwise. Next night I managed to cadge a launch home, but one can’t go on doing that. Besides I’m really much too busy to take on the job: so you need’nt worry about sending any songs. It was quite good fun while it lasted, & I got to know a good few people through it.
Hellish hot here nowadays, it’s been up to 113° [45° Celsius] in our tents, but the last 2 days have been much cooler, & last night was positively cold the thermometer dropping right down to 74 [23° Celsius] at 5 this morning. I generally have a dip in the Tigris in the morning, & we all bathe again in the evening. The current is fearfully strong & carries you right down, however much you try & swim against it, but it’s great fun & very refreshing. We have managed to bag a bit of board & are putting up a diving-board today.
There are some lovely walks along the river here, through most gorgeous date groves, with willows all growing alongside the river. And pomegranate trees with the fruit just ripening now & their lovely scarlet flowers. Funny little Arab children play around the villages, & the gardens are deliciously untidy, but lovely & cool & green. Melons and a sort of pumpkin-like vegetable grow here, and all sorts of weeds & creepers; & yesterday we were walking along & found real live English Blackberries, which of course took us straight home to England.
They water their melons & dates by curious old wells, & Persian wheels, where tins are attached to a wheel which revolves in the water, worked by a very rickety old horse who walks around a very Heath-Robinson contrivance, consisting of home-made cog wheels and creaking axles. But it seems to work all right, & I must really try & photograph it one day for you.
We are very comfy in our camp, & dinner on the river front is a perpetual delight, especially nowadays when there is a moon. You would hardly think you were in a much-abused Mesopotamia if you were suddenly dumped down in the mess at dinner, with the gramaphone playing, iced drinks, & a fresh breeze blowing, and the old Tigris flowing by looking ripping in the moonlight. But I expect our strenuous days are to come; meanwhile we are living really very comfortably, except on days when sand and dust are about, which, I may add, is nearly always. Our last 2 days here have been ghastly in that respect.
Hope you’re all right at home, food an’ all. I don’t like these air raids, & I think the invasion scare is no bogey but a very possible reality
Best love to all yr loving son
Ted was always fond of children, and I attached this photograph to this post assuming they were connected. It was only after I went back to the album that I saw the caption and realised I should have posted it in one of his 1916 letters from Egypt. The caption is heart-breaking.
Paintings of bellams in book of 1920