No. 7925934. Sgt. Greenwood.
British Army Exhibition
British Army Staff
Jess Darling: I’m almost “on my knees” this evening… thanks to my anxiety to see as much of Paris as I possibly can. I spent some time ‘sight seeing’ during the day, but there were three of us, and it is not possible to do just what you want under such conditions. So I went out alone after tea and almost walked myself to a standstill. But I have enjoyed it.
Paris is a beautiful city, Jess: I like the broad avenues, the trees and gardens, the atmosphere of gaiety, the imposing buildings – so many of them fronted by fine boulevards: and the river – I have seen some of it this evening. I walked from La Place de la Concorde over the river and along the Quai d’Orsay and down to the two islands. I mooched around Notre Dame, the Town Hall… to the Bastille square. I feel almost at home here somehow: there seem to be very few roads and ‘boulevards’ and “places” which I haven’t read about at some time or other. I have been trying to think how it is that I remember so many of these names and I think the answer lies in books… Books by Upton Sinclair, Maupassant, Sabatini, Ehrenberg, Simenon, Poe, James – and perhaps many others. It is nice to have this strange familiarity with a place. It makes me feel less ignorant and remote.
It was my intention to write a long letter for you today, but I must ask you to forgive me, dear. I know you will understand when I tell you that I want to make the most of my stay here – particularly while the weather is so lovely. I may never have the same chance again, and as long as I can say at least something to you every day, my conscience tells me that both of us will be happy about it.
Tomorrow morning, Thursday, my ‘crew’ take over officially from the other fellows, and so we start work – but it will not be very arduous. Each of us will only be on duty two days in every five – leaving three clear days for leisure. So I am looking forward to plenty of mooching. But apart from the attractions of Paris itself, there are many entertainments for troops:- several free – and others at reduced prices. Tomorrow evening, for instance, Jascha Heifetz, the violinist, is giving a free concert for troops at the Trocadero. And on Sunday Yehudi Menuhin is playing at the Opera House – a concert for charity. The prices are high… but if I can get a seat at a reasonable price, I am going to hear him.
There are plenty of free cinemas, too… and theatres. In fact, it is possible to enjoy first class entertainment all day and every day practically for nothing – if you are in uniform. The ‘metro’ too (Underground) is free to troops (like the Brussels trams) so travelling is an easy matter: it saves time, too, not having to worry about tickets. There is, of course, another side to the picture. Where payment is required, prices are pretty stiff – particularly for spirits. But I’m not worried about that, because apart from attractions like Menuhin, I can be quite happy just seeing Paris – and that costs nothing – apart from energy!
My principle worry here is the absence of news from you and Barry. I don’t know when your re-directed letters will reach me – but I just keep on hoping. Perhaps there will be a batch for me one of these mornings – and then I will be able to settle down beneath a tree on the Champs Elysees, and saturate myself in news about my sweetheart – and our little pie. I recall your last letter – the one in which you told me about your visit to Poynton Park with Hil. It was a beautiful story Jess, sparkling with gaiety and happiness and the laughter of little Barry. I am so looking forward to many more like it.
And now to bed: I’ll bet I sleep tonight:- my legs will, anyhow.
Good night, my love