Wednesday, 16 January 2013

16th January 1933 - Terrick to Mary

The Highland Hotel
Fort William

16th January 1932

My Dear Mary

I am starting this before even I have finished your letter, because either, my dear, you are the world’s compete idiot or I am the world’s worst letter-writer.  I am quite willing to admit the latter, anything so long as I can correct the present misunderstanding.
I don’t seem to have made myself intelligible in a single word.

When I wrote about you “flirting again” I was only joking about what you told me about the various men at your dances.  I didn’t for a moment imagine that you had been really vamping.  And besides the word “again” would have meant that I really thought you had flirted with Paul, which is absolute rot.  And my being “self-righteous”! I suppose you mean my saying I was a “nice steady lad”.  If you can’t see any irony in that you are solid ivory from the eyebrows up.  I hate self-righteous people. They are the most ridiculous kind of people there are.

I understand perfectly what you said in your letter just after the New Year Dance.  I thought we had agreed on that.

Now I’ll read some more of your letter so far every word has hurt like hell.
I am terribly relieved to see that you don’t loathe me as much as I was convinced you did from reading the first two pages and the post-script (I looked at the end in case you finished up “and don’t write again”)

It is no good saying my letter was a good one because it was not, or it wouldn’t have been so completely misunderstood.  I expect that, though, may have been because I write quite differently from the way I talk.  I have to because I am a most incoherent speaker.

The only thing, of that sort, in my last letter that I meant was the dig about the file, (excluding the exclamation at the end of it) but that was because I had misunderstood your letter.

I am quite terrified to write anything now that is not to be taken literally, because I admit my alleged jokes are obscure.  I always make them to please myself rather than the person I am talking or writing to.  Silly perhaps, but its great advantage is that I don’t have to rely on other people for a laugh.  I often laugh out loud in the middle of the night at some joke I have cracked with myself.

Just a minute while I read your letter again.  I couldn’t concentrate before; I just rushed over the words like a cat on hot bricks.  Every one simply scorched me.

It isn’t quite so awful as I thought a first – I take back anything I said in my first two pages that you don’t like – but you see it was the very last thing I expected.

As long as you understand now.

I don’t take any more interest in the banker’s daughter than you do in all the people you spoke of.  I only mentioned her because she came in à propos of the rot I was talking.  I wouldn’t “retaliate”, even if there were any need, because that sort of thing wouldn’t seem the same again.

To be honest, although I did not think you had been vamping, I did think that you had told me about Frances Lederer’s cousin etc expecting some sort of reaction from me.  That was why I said: “You, little beast!”

You are not a little beast; I think you are the nicest girl I have ever known.  I should hate to think that there was any time in the future when we should not be friends, because there would be a distinct gap.  When I first saw you I liked you because you had a good complexion and figure and red lips.  When I got to know you I liked you because you could see all the fun in life.  And now I like you because – well it is rather difficult to explain in detail but it amount to:- because you’re my sort.

I am sorry you have no means of referring to my last letter but two.  Your new file doesn’t seem to be much good.

I am not, as I have already explained, saving kisses for the banker’s daughter.  I am going to invest them in something safe.

I haven’t got a dictionary here but I think an innuendo is something said obscurely, much the same as a hint.  Voluptuous means, I think, sensuous.  The Prisoner of Chillon was a man called Bonivand who was imprisoned at Chillon Castle which stands on a rock jutting out from the land into Lake Geneva.  He was chained to a pillar and I have seen the grooves caused by him and other prisoners walking backwards and forwards and round the pillar as far as the chain stretched.  Byron wrote a poem about him.  Persiflage is speaking without much meaning.  I used it, I think, to mean talk as opposed to its meaning.

My compliments were not put there “to east things over”; I wrote them because I thought them, and I didn’t write them to please you but to ease me.

I am going to have some fun tomorrow.  The sheriff’s daughter, the belle of Lochaber except for one week last summer, has asked me to play Shinty at Achnacary.  She said it didn’t matter my not knowing the rules, so I am letting the cook-waitress go out in the morning instead of the afternoon, and I am taking the afternoon off.  I borrowed a book of the rules on Saturday and watched Fort William play Spear Bridge, and I think I shall manage.  It is like hockey without the restrictions.  You can lift your stick as high as you like and you can play with both sides of it.  This is to be a mixed game so it will not be too fast for a beginner.  When I was at prep school I was rather a shining light at hockey but I haven’t played since.

I simply must stop now and pack up my laundry.

I shall get back to King’s Cross at 7.30 a.m. on Thursday morning.  If you get this tomorrow, Tuesday and post a letter in the early afternoon I shall get it here at mid-day on Wednesday.  I should like to know that you do understand that I do understand what you meant, that I know it is perfectly natural and has nothing to do with flirting.  If you do write and there is anything to answer I’ll ring you up on Thursday evening after seven.

Goodbye, old thing.


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