Irving Berlin, next a shooting party

24/12/43   There have been three boxes of sweets lately and the last arrived today – which was very well timed.

Darling I had such fun the day before yesterday. Irving Berlin’s Army Show was in Birmingham. It’s the only thing I’ve really wanted to see for years. It was only two weeks in London and impossible to get in. So I wrote four weeks ago for seats in Birmingham. The theatre didn’t even bother to answer. I had promised to take Pat and when we didn’t get seats we decided to go just the same and go to a cinema and do our Xmas shopping. I saw Irving cross the hall at the Queen’s where we had lunch. I hadn’t seen him for 17 years but he was always a heavenly little man so I wrote him a note. He was divine. He’s one of the most modest and loveable people I’ve ever met. Any way without any fuss or bother or throwing himself about he put practically the whole American Army on to getting two seats and then in the middle of the show it seemed we’d got into some that were sold and he came through the pass door himself to settle the argument. The show is really good – really fast American revue as only Americans can do. I think it’s going overseas. I’m going to try and see Irving in London before he goes and if he’s going near you I’ll ask him to do the same for you as he did for me. The wonderful thing was that the one thing he loves and can’t get is eggs. So the next day I sent a Land Army girl in with all I could muster – which was only 16 but not so bad. The G.H. Christmas news is the boiler’s burst so we shall never get a bath again. Win thinks we’re being tested out for saints.

Irving Berlin's travelling wartime show
Irving Berlin’s travelling wartime show

30/12/43   Today we ran a party as well. You know there are some people who shoot partridges and rabbits here fairly regularly. They are roughly Henson who is the local butcher, government grader of fatstock, farmer and reputedly the richest man in Stratford, his son-in-law Hugh Morton, Pat and his father and Middleton who had Pat’s farm before he did and is like a 17th century print of a farmer. Well, on Tuesday I took the children to tea with the Hinchingbrokes who are in Stratford and Hinch said could he walk out here one day. So I said would he like to shoot partridges and he jumped at it so I rang Pat up and told him to get the boys. Actually it was an awfully funny day. I was particularly anxious for it to be good because Hinch was really the first guest of ours who has shot on the farm.

Pheasant shooting
Pheasant shooting

Hinch arrived at his Hinchiest and asked if 25 cartridges would be enough before lunch. Now the form here very often is that if the whole lot shoot 25 cartridges in one day its good going because though there really are a lot of partridges and rabbits the partridges soon get wild and generally fly in the wrong direction. Before lunch everything went wrong and flew in the wrong direction and it was too gloomy and we came in with one pheasant. We had a wonderful lunch because I had killed a cockerel which was cold and we had some cold goose left from Christmas and Henson brought hundreds of cold pies and I had some Kraft cheese Leonora sent me which I think must have come from America and celery and beer and coffee. So that went well. Then after lunch we managed to drive three coveys of partridges right over Hinch’s head and he had two shots at each covey and missed the lot. So we felt better about the 25 cartridges which had made all the habitues feel a trifle small. And then I gave him the pheasant to take home to Rosemary which in these days is something and so it all ended rather well.

Hinch was awfully sweet but exactly Hinch and not really at all impressive in spite of his late rise to fame in the parliamentary world. So all the farmers were sweet too but not impressed which I thought was good for them because basically they love a lord. I don’t mean they were unimpressed I only mean they were quite as normal. I am a bit annoyed with Stapes over his Disraeli book. You see Disraeli really knew his stuff about the Tory case and said it as no one in parliament today can. Of course all he said and wrote is there for anyone to read who wished to but all Tories are either too lazy or too illiterate to think of doing such a thing. Now Stapes has dug it up and commented on it fairly well and handed to all these nincompoops really well said ready made arguments on a plate. These reflections are inspired by the fact that Hinch saw it here and said that Hore-Belisha had sent it to him and recommended him to read it.

All right, I’ll black out till March but be sure to come then.

31/12/43    I don’t know whether I’ve ever made it clear to you how very extraordinary Thomas is about work. Whenever there is anything he could conceivably manage to do on the farm he is completely happy. But what is so unusual is that he doesn’t merely do it for an hour or even two but all day long and only comes in with the men or when forced to for meals. With things like picking peas or potatoes he is as good as about 3/4 of a land girl. But then he will also do things which no one would ever think he could.

The history of the muck fork for Christmas is that he always goes muck carting and can never find a fork as he gets last call on them. Now he picks up amazingly large bits of muck and throws them into the cart. Then this afternoon he took his muck fork which can also be used as a pitchfork and went threshing.

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A Woman's War