C Sqdn, 9th Battn R.T.R.
Jessie Mine: This has been a quiet day… and even our Polish friends seem to have hibernated. Maybe they are forbidden to do any thieving on Sundays… being good Catholics! I think it was the same last Sunday – almost unbelievably quiet, with no major flapping around and no urgent telephone demands for assistance.
There were a few incidents last night – Saturday – but nothing really serious… It would appear that our presence here is doing some good. The crimes recorded since our arrival have dropped very considerably… much to the delight of the Jerries… and, of course, our hierarchy… But this state of affairs creates little enthusiasm amongst our lads. They are the victims of our imposition of “law and order”… and there isn’t much fun in it for them. However, the routine is being modified slightly tomorrow, to enable them to have a few more hours for sleep and recreation. In actual fact, the modification became operative a week ago – unofficially and unknown to the major. And it was put before him this week-end as a suggestion – not a fait-accompli. He “hummed and ha’ad” over it for some time, and then agreed to give it a trial, thus giving official approval to an otherwise illegal practice. But even with this minor modification, the lads are still putting in a good deal more work than they ought… altho’ they seem surprisingly willing.
Jess… I forgot to tell you what happened to the C.A. and the C.E. you provided me with. In actual fact, I was forced to get rid of it rather hurriedly owing to our move from Gümmer. But even so, I didn’t lose on the transaction. I got the equivalent of £15… And now… due to one or two devious moves over here – you ought to be receiving a money order or something for £10 in a few days’ time. I would like you to spend it on yourself.
Speaking of money reminds me of your comments the other day about Mr and Mrs Roberts and their financial arrangements… I suppose there are arguments for and against every kind of domestic finances – but one thing I know, Jess: it is that I have seen much squabbling among married people who each keep a rigid check on ‘borrowings’ etc… and these squabbles always strike me as being petty and mean, and totally alien to the atmosphere of mutual trust and generosity which ought to exist between married people. I admit that most married people of our acquaintance seem to have their individual allocations of cash… But this doesn’t seem to me an argument in favour of the system. I prefer the other way… our own happy-go-lucky method. It may be less businesslike – and indicate a lack of planning – but I’ve never yet been convinced that a planned household is necessarily a happy one: it seems the reverse, in fact. It may be a coincidence, but I’ve noticed that people who seem to enjoy their lives most, are the ones who plan the least. People, for instance, like Dorothy, and your cousin May, and your Auntie Ethel… But aren’t these people lazy? I know Dorothy is, and I’m fairly certain that May is. And yet, they certainly get something out of life which the ‘planners’ miss. Your mother is an example, albeit an extreme one, of planned domestic economy. At their worst, these are the people who can hardly enjoy a moment of their present lives, because they are so concerned about the future
– the ‘rainy day’ complex. It is my opinion, Jess, that there is a damned sight too much of this ‘putting away for a rainy day’: too much worrying about the future, to the detriment of present happiness. Most people these days seem to be living in the future.
I can’t help recalling the lovely atmosphere of peace and contentment and happiness which pervades the households, as described by Lin Yutang, in China. The life of the Chinese is much more graceful than ours, it would appear. They have time to browse over their frequent cups of tea… and to talk and really enjoy the art of conversation and good fellowship. But the Chinese are only half-civilised, aren’t they? Or are they? And where am I now? Does it appear as though I’m in favour of a lazy wife, a dirty home etc? No – a thousand times – but I do believe that a husband who is incapable of putting his hand in his pocket and giving his wife any money he has got if she needs it, is a pretty poor specimen – assuming, of course, that there is no abnormal relationship such as a wife who is a drunkard-!
On this subject, I like your attitude to our attempts at ‘planned’ leisure. You say “I like the way we plan to go a ramble, and then decide we don’t want to go because we have to”. That’s lovely… and exactly how I feel. There is something so much nicer and exciting about spontaneous behaviour. I think, dear Jess, that we both have a horror of being shackled by a domestic machine or “planned” life… call it what you will… Freedom to enjoy the present – to obey one’s spontaneous impulses seems much more worth while than the ‘organised’ enjoyment of the planners. I suppose I am advocating something like a mixture of spiritual and personal anarchy – but it seems good to me, however you label it.
Ah Jess… are you a domestic anarchist – or a domestic revolutionary – or merely a swapper-about of beds and wardrobes and Christ knows what? Whatever you are, I love you for it… in spite of a few partially broken toes.
Good night, my sweetheart