I’m at home. Home home – not flat in Camberwell. Time for a stretch of R and R after some odd weeks at work and elsewhere.
A few years ago a piece of wartime correspondence from a great uncle was dug out and it always entertains me to read it; I’ve been meaning to copy it down for ages.
Saturday, August 29th 1914
That you have been and gone and done it is the best news I’ve had for years. And I will guarantee that every single brother will do his utmost to support you.
The only rule to be observed is that the first ‘wee one’ must be a boy. ‘Girls is off’ completely and absolutely because there must be someone to carry on the name.
After you’ve bred 2 boys then you may throw off girls by the [load] if you want to.
Old lad, I’m darned glad and I know you won’t have chosen anything that you wouldn’t have been proud to show to Father and Mother, ergo what’s yours is ours and very much ours, for her sake and for yours.
I’ve only one prayer: and that is that your boys, by united efforts (if necessary), are educated and brought up at the same schools as all of us.
May God bless you and your wife and may I have the very very very great pleasure of greeting and loving my sister-in-law [soon].
‘Credentibus non dificile’ [Believing isn’t difficult] is a top-hole motto, and as a family not lacking in brains it is up to us to combine Uncle Henry Hunt, Uncle Fred and Uncle Arthur into one. Let’s do it as (i) a Soldier, (ii) a Lawyer or (iii) Business -
(a) because it’s for England
(b) because it’s brains (and self)
(c) because it’s useful for the family
If you produce 3 then make sure the eldest is a sailor, the second a soldier and let the third provide the business to keep on the show. But all their eyesights must be good – no spectacles, that is a sign of deficiency.
For me it is such an interesting snap-shot of an era, a genuine peek into the sensibilities and expectations of an elder brother in 1914. What I love most about it is the genuine affection that creeps through every now and then alongside his business-like entreaties about first-borns, professions and education. The letter paints the picture of a man to whom duty meant everything; not just duty to the Army or his country but to his family. Posted far rom his family in Northern India, it’s pleasing to see this sense of duty crumble on occasion.
One thing’s for sure, as a spectacle-wearing ad man who was never much cop at sports, barring a conversation about how great it is to be a man, he and I would not have had a lot to talk about.
“The past is foreign country…” and all that.
* * *
Two tunes that have been on constant ‘rotation’ within iTunes over this past Autumn to finish with.
One from John Hopkins‘ LP ‘Insides’, most of which I caught at a live show the other day and was blown away by. Secondly, ‘Lucky Woman’ from a London producer who goes by the name of Phanes. No more detail beyond that except to say that, if this tune is anything to go by, we can expect great things in the future – one of the most striking opening sequences I’ve heard all year. Check out the fantastic video below – edited from a VHS copy of ‘Clash of the Titans’ (1981).