No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jess Darling: There were two letters for me today… a lovely long one from you… and an equally long one from Les Stanley. I was much surprised to receive the latter… agreeably surprised too, because it brought news of former colleagues who left us for the Africa campaigns. Les is now in Italy, and has been abroad for 2 years and 7 months… and he says he has no chance of getting home leave because his demob. number is 20, and no one in the C.M.F. (Citizen Military Forces) is allowed U.K. leave if their number is below 22. It’s a damnable injustice, but I don’t s’pose anything can be done about it. I’ll bet the election results have pleased him: Les is a hell of a Tory hater. I will send you his letter when I have replied.
You have sent me a detailed account of your musical evening with the Roberts’… I don’t really know what to say about it, dear… except that I personally do not look forward to becoming involved in this musical intellectualism. For one thing, I feel thoroughly out of touch with the world of music: my musical appetite has been practically starved for five years… and now I have little interest in technicalities. When I get home, I am going to be too busy feasting myself with the music I love and crave for – without worrying about the creations of musical eccentrics. Later perhaps, it may be different. Even so, I’m pretty certain that there are certain types of music which will never appeal to me – that of Delius, for one. Maybe it’s a question of temperament: I think it is. I don’t think any person can claim to be attracted by all composers – we all have our particular preferences… and mine happens to be a preference for rich orchestral colouring, large landscapes and scenic grandeur, on the one hand – and for solemn beauty and spiritual tranquility which only music can inspire. I have always felt, Jess, that you and I respond almost identically to music: that is why, on my part, I so enjoy listening to music in your presence. We each have that instinctive appeal and response… and we know it is right, for us: nothing else matters.
When I listen to Delius, I always have that feeling of musical frustration: I am listening to the outline of a composition… a musical picture into which the composer has omitted to put any colour. But then it may be argued, to use the pictorial comparison, that a picture can be beautiful without colouring:- there are the etchings and woodcuts and mezzotints etc… all of which have much beauty, and there is too beauty in simplicity. And this is all true… but my preference is for colour, as a rule. I can enjoy the other on occasions, but I get more sustained pleasure from what I consider to be colourful – and yes, dramatic.
I may be unfortunate in having a temperament which prevents a full understanding of all music… but I have no regrets. I am happy to know that my love for music, my kind of music, is something very real and genuine. It does not depend upon the fads and fashions of musical criticism, or technical enlightenment. Do you understand me, darling? I think you do:- but if you disagree with me, I hope you will tell me.
Have just been out for my supper… and have worn my jacket for the first time in three or four weeks. It has been showery today… and rather cooler this evening, so I wore my jacket chiefly as a precaution against the rain.
I was talking about your letter – and having re-read what I wrote earlier, it occurs to me that you may be wondering whether you now have a husband who has become mentally stagnant:- a stodgy stick-in-the-mud whose views have become stereotyped and stale… and who is now too lazy in mind to bother about any new ideas.
Well! I hope I haven’t given you this impression, dear… and I hope too that there is no truth in it… But I will admit that I’m simply longing to bask in your presence: to see and hear an awful lot of you before I start re-acquainting myself with the outside world. When I get home for good, I will have to re-learn to be a civilian… but I must first re-learn to be your husband and friend… and Barry’s father… And I want this to be a slow process: I don’t want to spoil it by hurrying.
Speaking of Barry reminds me of the trouble you are again having with him about ‘Joey’… I wish I could give you some advice – but I can’t do that… other than remind you of your former successful demonstration! I have a feeling that he will ‘reform’ very suddenly… and am sincerely hoping he does, if only for your peace of mind. It must be a terrible strain on you having these constant ‘battles’ with him.
It is horrible to think of you at home being driven half crazy with work and worry, whilst I… well, I’m doing nothing at all. I could be so much more use at home… even if I only spent my time chasing after Barry with Joey… Yes – you are the lonely wife dear, with a vengeance… but our day will come… and then it will probably be the turn of others to envy us.
I haven’t a lot to tell you from this end… There is still no news of our departure, and so we tank personnel are having a very easy time. This state of affairs may end tomorrow – or it may continue for days. Meanwhile, I simply continue to report each morning for ‘orders’ – and that is my day’s work. I am not a bit surprised that things have developed in this way: it is so like the army.
Most of todays local papers (British, American and French) have given great prominence to our election… and the Paris evening papers are still giving it greater prominence than the trial of Petain (I will enclose this evening’s paper, if poss). I am dying to see what the home printed British newspapers have to say, but I haven’t been able to get a single copy today: they are usually on sale here soon after mid-day… But as todays issues have probably been bulkier, maybe they couldn’t be flown across. I will see them tomorrow.
And now… ’tis bed-time
Good night, my love