14/11/43 I’m still faintly worried about T. You see I know I am rather a neglectful mother but I simply haven’t been able to help it. You can’t run 400 acres under extreme difficulties and be a wonderful mother at the same time. That’s all there is to that and you must never really blame me for any failures. In a way, once I got launched on this I was driven by it and we both agreed I should be launched. After I’d finished the letter I’ve just written to you I started talking to T. I asked him if he thought it would be more fun to be a day boy and explained it would mean missing cricket and football etc.
So shall I do that next term? Why the hell don’t you arrange to get back before that and see for yourself.
17/11/43 I’ve bought a new dog. I haven’t seen it yet but it’s a good ratter and Bubbles has turned out to be such a hopeless cissy and sits by the fire but she’s wonderfully bred for ratting and I think if she was with a dog who was some good it might hot her up. It’s name is Bonzo and it’s a sort of Border.
I wonder if you’ll ever really get together with my dogs. You couldn’t fail to love Meg whose charm is obvious but Bubbles charm is of an obscure kind and consists in being pretty hopeless and very disobedient but wagging her whole bottom with her tail while trying to get away with doing what you’re telling her not to. Bonzo I don’t know about and I may have to give him to Pat after a month or so as I closed quickly on a deal Pat rather wanted to do and as he gave me both Meg and Bubbles I really owe him a present. Meg is going to have puppies and I think I’ll let Bubbles marry Bonzo so if you don’t feel really fatherly to any of the present ones you must get back in time to choose a puppy and begin from the beginning. It never rains now.
Frankie adored dogs and had always had some. Pat had refused to give Meg to her, but one day when she got out of the car on arriving home after a trip to Pat’s farm, a sheepish looking Meg crawled out from under the seat. She had stowed away in Frankie’s car. Pat gave in at this point and Meg lived with and was loved by us for the rest of her life. She is an important memory for all three children.
18/11/43 I’m just one shade off actual tears all day today. You know we haven’t had any hot water since July. Some days we just have cold water. It’s frozen quite hard four nights running and its freezing now. The house has no heating of any sort and only the boiler for the bath kept it liveable in last year. The mental and physical struggle to get out of bed and either carry water or wash in cold every morning is my effort for the day and I haven’t any guts left for the rest. I’m late getting the mangolds in and they get frozen every night which means they won’t keep and there’s no one here who’s even kind and I can see nothing but gloom and misery and I just don’t think I can take much more.
I got the new dog Bonzo this morning. He’s quite nice with a little grown-up personality but quite dull and I don’t think he will rival Meg and Bubbles in my affections. But if he’s a good ratter that will be nice because I like dogs that are good at things.
You know don’t you that we always have hordes of cats. They are apt to die on us because we make them live exclusively off rats and mice and I’ve just discovered that as the sole item of a diet these are fairly poisonous. But as they breed like mad we generally manage to keep the supply up. This afternoon I counted nine round the kitchen door. Some of them are very pretty and though I always pretend I keep them to keep the rats down I really keep them for you because you always loved cats and I think you would love to have hordes of them round the door. They all have the most dreadfully unoriginal names as they are named by the children. Fluff and Tibby and Fatty and Smoky are the only ones I can remember – O and Gina. Gina reversed the ordinary procedure by turning out to be a male. He’s very self-possessed and a great rabbiter. He is often to be seen miles away from the farm snooping about.
Today I took Rose with me and we passed a lorry carrying sugar beet to the station. “Gosh” she said “they’re late with their sugar beet.” I thought you would have been proud and amused. There now I feel a trifle better but I haven’t any more to say so I’ll finish this tomorrow.
Do come home soon.
21/11/43 First of all Tom Mosley. He has been let out and his wife because he is ill and with that the country that remained unmoved by Spain, Munich, Darlan, the fate of the International Brigades and the fate of the Jews has risen as a man to show what democracy is about by signing protests in an attempt to get him put back again. Now I think that’s very seriously distressing and I want to know what you think. You see, I see it like this. Mosley was always a joke and everyone knew it, in spite of the fact that he did annoy a few Communists by marching through the City and beating them up at meetings. There was only one moment when he ever aspired to be anything more than a joke and that was when a German invasion was feared. Then he was put in gaol and quite right too. Now he is ill and in any case has no organisation and is no longer a menace. So he is let out. And in any country which believes “IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE” quite right too.
But not at all. There’s the biggest and most united dust up I ever remember about anything. They say it’s because he’s a fascist and we’re fighting fascism and at the best he’s a symbol of what we’re fighting. And so on and so forth. And I don’t believe a word of it. I think it just shows that we’re a lot of dirty little sadists like everyone else. And also of course that it’s a damn dangerous thing to have a title if you are ever going to put yourself in reach of the law or the mob. But I may be wrong about all this and influenced by the fact that I know he’s an utterly broken man and though I never knew him and disliked her intensely, I don’t like the idea of those sort of people being in prison. i.e. when it comes to it I’m just a soft and broken renegade from their class. So I want to know what you think. Personally I’m really shocked. I think the only excuse for the English brand of complacent tolerance is if it’s tolerant about people being let out as well as about them being shut up. But I’ve been reading more Arthur Koestler – this account of prison in Spain (Dialogue with Death) – and I’ve got a thing against prisons so I may be all wrong. So far not one single person or paper has come out on my side any way.
Second thing – tea’s ready. I’ll go on after. Second thing is about your coming home. I think about it most of the time and I’ve just worked out one that will keep me watching the pot boil all winter. You see I’ve always assumed I’d hear first by cable and then it would be a few weeks if not months. But if you can’t cable it means you’d write and if everything happened in a hurry you might walk in one day ahead of the letter or at any rate you might telephone from Liverpool of something. So now every time the telephone rings I shall pretend it might be you.