Wednesday, 6 November 2013

6th November 1933 - Terrick to Mary

Wensley Rectory

6th November 1933

Dear Mary Pleasant, 

Your last letter was marvellous!  I regret that I can find nothing to tell you you are silly about except when you say that you can not fall in love for another five years.  But that is quite enough silliness for one letter.  All the same the remark had one salutary effect on me.  It reminded me that though one can't of course help being in love one oughtn't to make love to anybody on £2 14s 0d a week.  Still, even by the most Victorian ideals of what is "done", it is sound commonsense for me to keep my eye on you in readiness for 'der Tag' when I shall start getting, say, £10 a week on the same principle as having the plans for my flat-roofed house all drawn up.

I think you are wrong in saying that love is not (a) physical attraction nor (b) communion of spirit, but is fitting in in non-personal things.  Do you remember that in a letter I wrote you from Fort Williams I told you how I thought that true love had three parts, and that the difference between it and a "pash" was that the latter had only one or two of the parts.  I labelled the three parts: Subhuman, Human and Superhuman.  And they exactly correspond to the three things you mention being respectively:  physical, social and mental or spiritual.  You put the social above both the others; I, while insisting that all three must be present, am inclined to put the mental first.

Certainly the "Human" is the side that we know least about each other.  I know more about you in that way than you do me, because I have seen you with your family.  The only time you have seen me with other people was at Fort William, and the only friend of mine you have met is Paul, whom when you were with me, (because you were with me) I absolutely ignored.  We hardly saw each other except at supper-time.

Still, we have tons of time to get to know each other thoroughly because I have yet to find a way of making £10 a week, and I am such a fool at financial matters.

My mother did remark on the length of your letter, because it was lying on the breakfast-table when I came down, and to have left it unopened would have destroyed my appetite. 

"Edwy the Fair" is at a typing agency in Queen Victoria St.  As soon as I get it back I shall send you a copy.  If you can, read it all through at one sitting.  That is how a play should be read I think, because it is meant to be seen all at one go.  I have been made rather doubtful about it by finding a short story that I wrote when I was eighteen.  It is so easy now to see the faults in what I once thought splendid, that I am afraid that it only requires an alien eye to see hundreds of faults in "Edwy".  Be sure to tell me them all even if it takes up several pages.  Thank you for your presentiment.

I should love to come and stay the week-end of the 25th with you.  I'd like to come to Mr Bernays' do too, though I shall probably feel a bit of a fool, a bit "on appro". But that will amuse me so don't let that hinder you from taking me.

I wasn't "exaggerating" your physical side, I wasn't even trying to put it poetically.  Plums are my favourite fruit.  They are the only fruit that give me pleasure to look at as well as to eat.  And when I look at one just as I am going to bite it, it is a luscious feeling.  Your red lips reminded me of the smooth soft surface of a red plum and the idea of putting them to mine brought up even stronger the plum feeling.  So I just said the plain undecorated truth when I wrote that to me they were like two red plums.  As to the rose-petal cheeks, I wanted to express the fact that your personal appearance and youth had nothing to do with my opinion of you; and I had just had some dried figs for desert.  In comparison with the juicy fresh figs I have been eating all summer on the Riviera they reminded me of the yellow wrinkled face of an old woman who had been colourful and round and soft in her youth.  This came in handy when writing to you, but as in the letter I had specifically mentioned your face, I couldn't compare that to a fresh fig, which is purple (!), so I cast round for something else that bloomed and could find nothing more apt than the customary rose-petal, which certainly fits your complexion if it fits anybody's.  The boil is no more of a blemish than a veil to "the eye of faith", because it knows what is behind them.

I shall never take to writing poetry about you; as even when I write prose I have to explain all the thought processes behind each personal remark!

I arrive back in town on Thursday evening week.

On Friday morning we had a big funeral here.  The local squire's daughter died after having a still-born baby that she had no business to try for.  I did not go as the only dark suit that I brought up I had sent to be cleaned.  Afterwards we went into Leyburn market and I met some old friends, one of whom rang me up in the afternoon and asked me to partner her the same evening to a dance in Newcastle.  Another girl from the dale was going; and my partner, Dinah Topham, warned me not to ask any questions when I came round to her house about the other man in the party, as he was one Hildebrand Green whom they hadn't dared to tell her people about because he didn't come up to the dale's snobbish social standard and also had the name for being rather a bad lot.  We had dinner at Barbara Swayne's house and it turned out that Hildy Green had gone into the Bolton Arms at Leyburn and was incapably tight, so after a lot of phoning we got Nicky Cooke-Yarborough, whose brother I told you has just gone to Rhodesia.  What with the delay and it being sixty miles to Newcastle we didn't get there till half past ten; and then they girls were very put out because they had brought a bottle of gin and a bottle of Martini which they wanted to consume outside in the car at intervals during the dance, and it turned out that the nearest place to park the care was a garage a mile away.  Then it turned out that the place wasn't licensed for drinks so Nicky and I went out ans smuggled the gin in.  I think gin is a silly thing to drink.  It never cheers me up in the slightest.  The dance was quite good.  It finished at two and the drive back was rather cold.  We warmed ourselves by pouring the Martini into the gin bottle mixing them into a cocktail and then passing the bottle round like roadmenders.  They are the kind of girls who think it smart to carry drink round with them.  We got back to Barbara's house at about half past four and cooked ourselves a breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon and coffee, and then we separated to our several homes.  I got into bed at half past five.

This afternoon we are going to Harrogate again to see a film.  I think the old folks are afraid I should think it dull at home, because they don't generally go to Harrogate so often.  But I just love being in Wensley.  It is a very pretty village with less than two hundred inhabitants.  As you saw on my postcard, it has a green with a huge old elm that has to have props for its branches, and a village pump, and an old church full of valuable wood-carving and mural paintings and quaint family pews like opera-boxes.  Beside the village green is a big gateway opening onto a drive a mile long that leads to one of "the stately homes of England", Bolton Hall, where Lord Bolton lives.  Just inside the gateway beyond the lodge is Wensley House where the estate agent, Cooke-Yarborough, lives.  On the same side of the village green are the walls and gate of Wensley Hall, the dower-house, which you saw on my second Wensley post-card.  Lord Bolton's son, Nigel Orde-Powlett, whose wife has just died, lives there.

On the other side of the village a lane leads past the church to the low walls topped with a beautifully clipped yew hedge that surrounds the rectory.  A circular drive leads up to it with a little round lawn in the middle.  The rest of the garden is secluded from the eyes of visitors by the high thick yew hedges that I showed you in the photographs.  The tennis lawn, even if it is a bit soft, is the prettiest in the dale, with appletrees standing in long grass on the south side and a circle of tall elms and firs behind them; yew hedges on the west; the rose-garden on the north; and on the east, beyond a dyke, a broad meadow where in spring lambs run races, and in summer the grass and clover grows feet deep and hums with bees, until at last, with a louder hum, but just a monotonous and sweet, all day long the horse-reaper moves round and round the meadow, mowing in smaller and smaller circles, till in the evening we leave tennis and jump the dyke with sticks in our hands to kill the rats as they bolt from the last patch of clover.

Beyond the rose-garden there are two walled-in kitchen gardens and beyond that the hen-run, back yard, outhouses and duck pond.  To get from the back of the house to the front you have to go through several low doors and winding paths with the high yew hedges on each side and an arch of yew over the top.

You would love the place.

We have just come back from Harrogate.  I have been lucky each of the last two times we have been there.  I had bought this typing paper so that I could type out the ballads of Robin Hood from my Oxford Book of Ballads, but in a second-hand bookshop in Harrogate on Saturday I found a little book full of just the Robin Hood ballads and containing far more than I knew of before; and today in Boot's Library I have got out a book on him.

Today my people wanted to see "Adorable".  I told them that Jack had said it was rotten, but they were very keen to see it so we went and were disgusted.  It is terribly silly.

I have still tons to say but if I go on I shall miss this post.

Write soon, old thing,



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